Changeling’s Choice by Rachael Ashdown

changeling75x99Vote at the end of this episode!

In the previous episode, Soren realizes he failed to pack appropriate food for his journey. Luckily, the scullery maid Linnea followed him, bringing better supplies with her. As the readers suggested, the two will be waylaid first by a pair of dwarves.

Episode 6

“And another thing; even if you are a changeling, which I am not sure you are, how do you know that this is the right direction? The Wildlands go on forever. There is no way we will just stumble upon your supposed faerie-family.”

Soren rolled his eyes, ignoring Linnea. Ever since she showed up the day before with her offer of food and companionship, she had hardly been silent for more than a few minutes. Much to his annoyance, she had even mumbled in her sleep, keeping him up late into the night. Mostly she had criticized his poor planning. Once, when she had paused for breath, he had managed to ask why she had come after him in the first place. “Do you really suppose I want to be stuck serving your relatives until I die?” she had replied. Though he was still convinced they were not really his family, he had scowled darkly and ignored her for the next hour.

“See, we cannot go this way. Look at that stream up ahead. How are we supposed to cross it?”

“If you had listened to me, you would know that there is a bridge nearby. We will cross there.”

“Who builds a bridge in the middle of nowhere?”

“How should I know? All I do know is that this map says we can cross here.”

Linnea mumbled some more under her breath, most likely swearing again. Soren dearly wished he could get rid of her. But as she had infuriatingly pointed out, he was not going to be able to feed himself without her. She knew how to properly cook game and collect edible plants, should the sack of food she brought run low.

“Oi! Who goes there?”

Soren froze mid-step, a gruff voice wafting towards them from the trees ahead, off slightly to the left. His pause and Linnea’s continued focus on complaining led to a collision. She bounced off easily, but poor Soren was already unbalanced from his untimely stop, and he stumbled forward. He saved himself from falling by grabbing a nearby branch. But the damage was done. They had been seen.

“Why, it is just some wee people, it is. Look at this Evert, they don’ even have weapons.”

“Who are you calling ‘wee,’ shorty?” Linnea asked with a scowl. Appearing suddenly in front of the two youths was a pair of twin dwarves, each with long red beards, grey hoods, and thick hairs sticking out of their ears.

“Woohoo, she has an attitude, don’ she Erik?”

“Oh yes, that she does. How ‘bout you, boy? Are you going to mouth off, too?”

“No sir,” Soren said, bowing politely. “But perhaps you would be willing to offer your assistance?”

“What fer?” the one called Evert asked suspiciously.

“I am looking for my family, as it were.”

“Yer headed in the wrong direction. The human kingdoms are back that way.”

“I know that. I am looking for the trolls.”

The two dwarves exchanged a look. Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.

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