The Troll Princess Part 2

* continues from The Troll Princess Part 1 *

The next morning Emma woke to a loud banging and a roar from her father. Then the sound of the stage coach rattling away into the distance. There was a knock on her door, and her maidservant put her head around the door.

“You better get up. That princey fellow has done a runner. Need help dressing?”

bitbit

She found her father pacing in the breakfast room, holding a newspaper.
“Look at this.” He ground his teeth. “ The scoundrel! What does he think we are – a family of cave trolls? Playing out that old treasure hunting wheeze?” He huffed himself down in his chair. “Have a look.” He passed her the newspaper.

“I found it this morning, next to my plate. Someone had turned it to this page, and drawn a circle. There. See?”

Emma looked. The marked passage read:

Royal Heir Skint Again
His royal highness Prince Stefan von Staap has done it again. The “Merry Prince” has burnt his way through his second royal inheritance in less than a year. A Royal Ball to find a bride is all very well, but five extravaganzas in as many months has emptied the pockets of this young rake. One can only speculate who will agree to marry the Prince of Parties since his river of gold has run dry – but marry he must or how else will be repay his debts?

“I hope you did not have your heart set on him my dear,” said her father. “But really. And you know, I think he sneaked some of the cutlery.”

Next on the list was Prince Gregory of Sandhaven. Emma was there to see the stage coach arrive. A large party of servants and men at arms had followed on horseback. Emma wandered around the palace as the guests installed themselves with practiced ease. One set of servants unpacked what appeared to an entire royal bedroom suite. Another party annexed the kitchen and swiftly produced a cream tea.

“So pleased, so pleased” Prince Gregory beamed at the bemused King. “Nice little place you have here. I spotted some wonderful forests on the way. Untouched. Simply untouched. Cant wait to let my boys loose in there! There must be all kinds of stuff in there. Boar. Badger. Bear! Should wonder if you even have some wolves creeping about.”

The King shot a worried glance at his daughter. “Well we don’t really go in for that sort of thing these days” he tried.

Prince Gregory gave a hearty laugh. “Keeping it all to yourself, hey? Don’t blame you, fair’s fair.” He gestured to the rows of ancient trophies that lined the walls. “Does my heart good, seeing that. But maybe a son in law could be indulged?” He chuckled to himself.

“We don’t hunt,” said Emma. “We’ve only just managed to re-introduce badgers, and there are hardly any wolves left – all killed by my Grandfather, as you can see.”

“Well of course you don’t hunt, my dear, I would not expect it of you. And as for wolves – no need to fear, at least, as long as I’m around.” And he launched into a long account of the wolves he had tracked and fought. The King and Queen left quietly.

“…and he killed my best dog, the brute,” finished the Prince. “Simply tore him to bits, poor fellow. But – my dear girl – we must proceed to business. What are the terms?”

Emma pulled her thoughts back to the present. “The terms?” She had feeling she knew what came next.

“The – you know, conditions of disenchantment. Marriage? Or a kiss? Do we have to wait or can we simply get it over with already? Must be awfully uncomfortable for you.”

Indeed. thought Emma. “I am a troll,” she said heavily. “Never was a prin… human. Princess. A human Princess.”

“Of course I do understand. A human Princess! Of course you are. But I see I am making you uncomfortable. Don’t mind me, my dear. I know how you girls are about ceremonies! Things must happen at the right time, with the right clothes, otherwise where’s the fun!” And he laughed loudly.

It was quite dark by the time she managed to escape to the kitchen steps. She sat there for quite a long time, watching the moon rise, listening to the water rushing in the water trough.

“Have something for you,” said Driver as he sat down next to her. “Or should I say – someone.” He produced a very small, very fierce and very black kitten.

“You kept him in your pocket?” said Emma, detaching him first from Driver’s sleeve, and then from his hand, and put him down on the step between them. “Does he have a name?” She found herself picturing an exceptionally fierce rat.

“He’s called Ratkin.” said Driver.

Ratkin gave his shoulder a quick lick, tensed, glared and went bouncing sideways down the steps. He spotted his own tail and hunted it mercilessly all the way around the plant pots, ending up in Emma’s lap by purest accident. He patted at her bangles and looked up at her with a slightly insane expression. Emma thought, in quick succession, of cream, fish, a mouse, and a leaf.

mousemouse
fishfish

“Oh. Just wait a moment”. She deposited the kitten in Driver’s lap and went back to the kitchen to find a kitten appropriate meal. Soon Ratkin was grumbling his way through some fish mince. An extended wash once more positioned him, accidentally, in the curve of Emma’s tail where it lay in her lap. He curled up into a tight little ball of soot, from which emerged a loud and inexpert purr.

“That went well,” said Driver.

“He looks just like a tiny Trollcat.” said Emma. “Where is he, by the way?”

“Around here somewhere,” said Driver. “He gets shy when this little one is around.”

They watched the kitten.

“So what do you make of Prince Gregory?”

“Its funny, you know,” said Emma. “I actually quite like him. Although he is a monster.” She laughed. “He also thinks I’m an enchanted human. But we will have to get rid of him before he starts exterminating every bit of wildlife we still have. You should have seen him ogling Grandfather’s trophies”

“I heard you got the badgers to come back” said Driver. How do you convince the farmers to leave them alone?”

They sat talking late into the night, watching the moon shadows move across the yard.

* continued in Part 3, which you can find here *

ratkin

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The Troll Princess Part 3 « Masha

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