Changeling’s Choice by Rachael Ashdown

changeling75x99Vote at the end of this episode!

In the previous episode, Soren and Linnea had a fight in the swamp, which was interrupted by the sound of a violin drifting towards them. As the readers suggested, they will follow the sound, hoping to find someone who can get them out of the marsh.

Episode 13

With an enormous amount of effort, the traveling companions crossed the swamp. Try as they might, they could not avoid falling into the bog, and soon all three were saturated with putrid swamp water. The lack of progress finding the violin player did not help, either.

“There has to be an easier way,” Linnea complained loudly, trying to stay on the tree roots protruding from the stagnant water as she followed after Soren and Balder. The dog was far less concerned about the water than the others, and he swam through the water after Soren without hesitation. The only indication of his discomfort was the wheezing sound he made as he bobbed after the boy.

Soren still ignored his companion, so used to her endless chatter that he automatically tuned her out, focusing instead on listening for the violin and making sure his next step did not send him sliding back into the green marsh. Not that it mattered.

“Greetings friends. What brings you to the swamp?”

Both Soren and Linnea slid off the precarious path they were traversing. They both smacked into the still water with an audible slap, sending dual spouts of water into the air as they were submerged briefly before surfacing one after the other with a gasp. While they scrambled to get to dry land, wiping muck out of their eyes, the sound of laughter filled the marsh.

“I must apologize, friends. I did not mean to send you into the water. Though it looks as if it is not the first time you have suffered such indignity.”

“What do you want?” Soren asked sourly, brushing algae off his front while glaring at the newcomer. Sitting in a nearby tree was a simply dressed but handsome man, his silvery blonde hair and smiling face seemingly ageless. This was probably another magical being, Soren reasoned. But after dealing with tricky dwarves and a hungry huldra, he was in no mood to exchange pleasantries. At least, that is what he told himself. Truthfully, Soren was embarrassed at being taken so off guard and made into a fool for the third time that day.

“I simply wished to make sure you both were alright. The swamp is dangerous, and it is starting to get dark. Do you have a destination in mind, my young travelers? Perhaps I can assist you.”

“We are fine thanks,” Soren mumbled, starting forward again. Linnea, however, was having none of it.

“We were following the sound of a violin,” she piped up. “I know it sounds crazy, but we were rather unexpectedly sent here by some malevolent dwarves, and have no idea where we are, let alone how to get out.”

“Ah, I know of these dwarves. They often send travelers my way, just for laughs. By chance were they carrying a metallic orb?”

“Yes!” Linnea said cheerily. “Did it send us here?”

“It did indeed,” the man said with a dazzling grin. “But luckily for you, I can get you out again.” Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.

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