Witness ye of little faith! Forsooth! The time has cometh for ye to readeth a storyeth of magical adventureth!
Below you shall find the first part of my glorious masterpiece, “Droll Troll” — one of many stories in the charity anthology “For Whom The Bell Trolls.”
My initial thought was to release but a short selection of punctuation…but I’ve kindly given in to my generous nature and thrown in a few words, too.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Oh John L. Monk, you’re so amazing, so kind and generous to give us this tiny sample for free, because all your other stuff is ever so slightly more expensive, and yes I promise to buy a book one day, I totally swear…”
Forsooth, I say!
I give to you…basically for free…the first 1/4 of the story!!!
Somewhere on Earth, in a dark forest shrouded in mist, hidden inside an acorn that had always been there, a committee of faerie lords convened around a table of polished obsidian to discuss the urgencies of the day.
Lord Snoot banged his gavel and yelled, “Order please, lords and ladies, thank you very much!”
“But I still haven’t made my point!” a very important high elf said. He’d been in an animated discussion with the council’s blue-skinned woggim over whether or not fish smelled fishy to other fish.
“Oh really,” Lord Snoot said to the elf. “Well, we certainly wouldn’t want to interrupt your pressing discussion, now would we? Whatever could it be this time? How heavy is sunlight? Why does celery matter? Why would an elephant ever be in a room? If you gave a shivering street urchin an entire loaf of bread, would he only eat the crust? Or maybe—”
Whatever he was about to say was immediately drowned out by the fairies, who were loudly rushing to tackle these timeless mysteries. Anything to put off “getting to the point” or “arriving at a consensus” or perhaps achieving “relevancy.” Each of which, they collectively agreed, was just a little too much like work, and thus more befitting lesser beings.
The discussion raged back and forth at a furious pace while Lord Snoot, the only elf in attendance with any sense of responsibility, banged his gavel repeatedly on his woggim assistant’s head to re-establish order. There was something terribly important they needed to discuss today, or so the woggim had told him, and it had nothing to do with heavy sunlight or theoretically stinky fish.
Suddenly, just when all looked to be lost, just when Lord Snoot thought they’d run out of time and the world would suffer a terrible fate because nobody was listening to him, out of nowhere, at that exact moment…well, actually, nothing happened. However, about two minutes after that, a heavy gong sounded from somewhere in the great hall, reverberating around the magically reinforced acorn walls again and again and again (and again and again (and then again just one more time)).
Some of the more delicate faeries clamped their pointy ears and squeezed their eyes shut. One beautiful celestial elf fainted and fell to the floor, twitching and sputtering things like “celery” and “urrgle,” while less aristocratorious beings pointed and snickered and poked each other in the ribs/wings/antennas.
Lord Snoot banged his gavel harder on his poor assistant’s head. And the high elf from way back at the beginning of all this stated firmly and loudly, “I have forgotten what I wanted to say,” and sat down in a huff.
When everyone had calmed down enough to look up, they saw their number had grown by exactly two trolls, who were standing near the entrance to the hall.
“Ahem,” one of the newcomers said. He was a bark-skinned wood troll with a mouthful of needle-sharp teeth.
The other one, a shorter, somewhat cute troll with a shock of fiery red hair, smirked and cocked his head toward his partner.
“What he said.”
Silence descended upon the room so suddenly that all in attendance could now hear the meaty clunks of Lord Snoot’s gavel whacking the poor woggim’s head for order. But nobody much liked the woggim, so that was fine.
“And just who the keebler are you supposed to be?!” Lord Snoot shouted down at the trollish intruders.
“I’m the guy,” the wood troll said, “with the solution to your little problem.”
“And together,” the shorter, cuter one said, “we shall solve your problem—”
“—shortly!” the wood troll shouted, pointing at his companion and grinning madly.
The short troll turned angrily and said, “Listen, elf face, if you insist on this constant mockery of my perfectly normal height, you’ll regret it!”
Some of the elves in attendance bristled at the epithet elf face, but because bristling is a rather silent sort of reaction to an insult, nobody actually noticed.
“Never mind that,” Lord Snoot said. “What are you doing at my committee meeting?”
“My name’s Oaky Doaky,” the bark-skinned troll said.
“And you may refer to me by my ancient trollish name,” his short, yet perfectly normal sized partner, said. “William Molehill Dew. Or Will Dew, for sh…uh, hmm…”
Oaky Doaky leered at him. “You were gonna say ‘for short,’ weren’t you?”
Will bit back a retort and just glared. Because there’s nothing worse than being trolled by a wood troll.
From the obsidian conference table, the sound of gavel-whacking suddenly died off, as there was no longer a woggim to whack anymore—he’d fallen to the floor, semi-conscious.
Lord Snoot placed his now useless gavel down and said, “Well, well, even trolls must have names, how wonderful for you. But we have very important business to attend to, and you weren’t invited, and nobody here likes trolls at all, so you really should be off to your bridge or billy goat gruffing or whatever it is you do, or should I say Dew, thank you very much.”
“…shshn shivished shmm…” his woggim assistant muttered from his prone position on the floor.
“Sorry, what did you say?” Lord Snoot said, leaning over him.
“…sashi I isvitedsh tham…”
“Come again?” Lord Snoot said, scratching his head, a study in befuddled poise.
The blue-skinned woggim lurched unsteadily to his feet, adjusted his coat, picked the gavel up from its resting place on the council table, and smashed it over Lord Snoot’s head.
“Because I invited them, you simpleton!” the woggim roared.
The other council members stewed in outrage over the woggim’s behavior, but stewing was just as silent as bristling, so again nobody noticed.
“What do you mean you invited them?” Lord Snoot said, rubbing his head. “And why do you have my gavel? I’m the only one who gets to use it!”
Ignoring him, the woggim turned to the motley assemblage and said, “Lords and ladies of Faerie. I invited these industrious trolls here for a very important reason. There’s an asteroid heading for Earth and it will destroy the world, and our little acorn home, in three days time.”
This time the assemblage of fairies neither stewed nor bristled—they shrieked and cried and swore and moaned and made a terrible ruckus. The blue-skinned woggim raised the gavel and was about to use it, then thought better of it and whistled loudly for attention.
“You there,” he shouted to a particularly obnoxious sniveler. “Shut up, you. Everyone, shut up or there won’t be any refreshments later, not for anyone!”
Well that did it. With their refreshments in jeopardy, those fairies capable of high order spells quieted the room with a shimmering cone of silence. The acorn grew so magically quiet, in fact, that if a tree in the forest outside fell over, the acorn would have remained just as noiseless—because the one had nothing to do with the other.
A minute later, Lord Snoot began yelling and yammering at everyone to reverse the spell—in pantomime. The spell-casters mouthed words that didn’t word, shouts that didn’t shout, and calls to the elements that couldn’t have called back even if they wanted to. It was hopeless. The world was in danger, and even if someone knew what to do, they couldn’t tell anyone what it was.
William Molehill Dew looked at the fairy lords in disgust, shook his head and pulled out a glittery, pink wand. Then he tapped-out three glittery taps in the air as if knocking on a door—and a freestanding, inter-dimensional doorway fell open!
Before anyone could overreact, Will pointed his wand at Oaky and swished him through the door. Then he did the same to the woggim and Lord Snoot. The other fairies were only marginally less useless, so he left them there to argue in silence.