Changeling’s Choice by Rachael Ashdown

changeling75x99Vote at the end of this episode!

In the previous episode, Soren and Linnea met the woman that had stolen the dwarves’ heirloom. She seemed beautiful and kind, inviting them to stay for a long while, but she isn’t as nice as she seems. As the readers suggested, Linnea will discover the truth through her knowledge of folk tales.

Episode 9

“Thank you kindly for the tea, ma’am,” Soren said with a smile, his eyes focused entirely on Dania. Even Balder seemed entranced by the woman, his eyes watching her glide across the floor as he lay at Soren’s feet. Linnea sighed contentedly, feeling strangely peaceful as she listened to Dania humming gently. She let her eyes wander around the cottage, taking in the odd assortment of decorations she had hanging on the walls and stacked on shelves.

“Of course, darling. Please, drink up. I have cakes in the oven too if you would like some.”

“Yes please,” Soren said enthusiastically, his smile never faltering as he watched her move towards the oven, bending over gently to open it, the smell of cakes wafting out. It was heavenly, and both children sighed happily. She carried the tray of sweets over to her table, placing the warm treats within reach. Soren took one, disregarding how hot it was, and took a bite. Too enamored by Dania, he failed to notice his own mouth being burned by the hot cakes.

“These are delicious,” he said with a content sigh. Dania smiled warmly at him, standing close to him as she poured him another cup of tea.

Linnea, while still entranced, noticed something peculiar. As Dania moved around the table, her skirt brushed against the chair leg, getting caught for a moment before falling back into place. But before it did, the girl caught a glimpse of hair, a small tuft of hair attached to a dark brown tail.

Puzzled, Linnea sat there for a moment, staring at the hem of Dania’s skirt. Why did that seem so familiar? She tried to remember, her face contorted in a scowl.

“What is wrong, dear?” Dania asked pleasantly, noting the pained expression on the face of her guest. Then it hit her. Linnea recognized that tail, and she knew exactly what it meant.

“Oh, umm, I just remembered,” she stuttered quickly, the haze of contentedness quickly fading, replaced by panic, “we were supposed to meet with my father an hour ago. He will be furious when we are late. Soren, we need to go.”

“What for?” Soren asked, sighing again, his eyes still on Dania. “It would be rude to leave so soon.”

“But we need to meet my father,” Linnea said, standing quickly and grabbing Soren’s arm, trying to pull him upright. “Now.”

“What are you talking about?” he said groggily, his eyelids beginning to droop. Linnea, close to utter panic now, tried to lead him out the door. But before they reached it, Dania appeared in the way, a beautiful smile on her face.

“Oh, but you must not leave before finishing tea!” she said cheerily, batting her eyes at Linnea. Linnea avoided her gaze. Soren was already gone, but she was not about to fall under the woman’s spell again. She knew what Dania was, and if they did not get out soon, they would all be dead. “Please, I insist. Stay.” Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.

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