In the previous chapter…Soren was brought before the Troll King, but found his nerves prevented him from speaking. As the readers suggested, he will not be a Changeling.
“Speak!” commanded the King, pointing a carved scepter at Soren.
“My apologies, Your Grace,” Soren said, words spilling out of his mouth in a rush. He bowed as gracefully as his nerves would allow, wishing Linnea had the sense to do the same. But she merely stared openly at the King. “I do not mean to come so underdressed and unbidden into your kingdom, but I had need to seek your wisdom. Do forgive my companions, for I could not have made the journey without their help.” It was a good thing Soren’s royal upbringing had taken control of his voice. While it was true, he was loath to admit his failings out loud. He hoped his polite and humble speech would help soothe the mood of the Troll King.
“And what brings you to these halls, led by that wicked man?” The king jabbed his scepter at Aksel instead.
“I do not know what ill he has caused, but he saved my servant and me from the swamps. Please, Your Highness, I wish to ask a favor of you, though you owe me nothing and I have no right for you to hear such a request.”
“Harrumph,” the Troll King snored, before gesturing for Soren to continue.
“It is my belief, My King, that I am not a prince of Toten as I once thought. Recently, I have come to believe I am a Changeling, a child of Faerie sent to the world of Men. Please, I implore you, let me stay here, in your realm, where I belong.”
At his declaration, there was a wave of gasps and buzzing whispers that echoed through the hall. The sour look on the King’s face grew even darker as he glared down his long nose at Soren. The young prince instantly knew he had said the wrong thing.
“A Changeling? How dare you speak of such vile things in this hall! You are not a Changeling; you are not even worthy to look upon me and my court. Be gone, wretched child! You have insulted us more than even that cursed water spirit you call your guide. Is this all your doing, Nokk? Did you steal him from his home to bring shame upon me and my kin?” Aksel opened his mouth to defend himself, but did not have the chance.
“Calm yourself, husband,” came the stern but regal voice of the Troll Queen, speaking up for the first time. “Do not worry yourself over such foolishness. They are but children, no more deceitful and malicious than your own. There is no need to be so harsh over such a simple thing.”
“Simple!” the King snapped, glaring once more at Soren, Linnea, and the poor dog huddling frightened behind them. “I will show you simple!”
With a flash of light and a bang, Soren and Linnea found themselves back where they started, outside Soren’s family castle, the prince’s name being called from the parapets. He groaned. They were in so much trouble.