SANSA & THE LONELY TROLL
Children of the Aos Si : Book One
This is the story of a young girl sent to stay with her grandparents as her older sisters venture off on their own escapades. Her oldest sister, Katie, heads to Los Angeles with their parents to partake in a statewide science fair. Her other sister, Izabella, is off to Canada and a week-long camping adventure. Sansa, however, is convinced she will be bored staying at her grandparents' new property high up in the Sierra Foothills of California. Unbeknownst to them all, the woods surrounding the house are home to a pair of magical creatures not seen in our realm for hundreds of years; two creatures who were sent on a secret mission to the human world by the last great king of the Light Fae, awaiting the Children of the Prophecy, the ones who will unite the shattered Fae Realms.
The fire crackled softly, light shimmering around the small clearing as shadows danced over the surrounding trees and bushes. The sound of water falling could be heard over the quiet crackle of the campfire. Nearby, two large trees created an archway that seemed to sparkle in the flickering light. The moon was shining down, full and bright in the dark sky. It was nearing dawn and stars had begun to fade in preparation for the morning sun.
A large figure huddled close to the small fire, trying to keep warm while keeping the light low enough that they wouldn't be seen in the dark woods and quiet night. The flames seemed to flare for a moment as a small flicker of light stepped out of the low pyre and approached the stooped creature. The troll looked down at his small friend, thankful that Lasair, his family's most trusted Hearth Fae and his constant companion, had decided to join him on this journey into the unknown.
The friends were tired. They had been traveling all day, moving as quietly and covertly as possible. They had avoided the main roads, villages, and inns, moving towards An Tuar Ceatha and the portal that rested at the foot of the Rainbow Falls. King Aneirin had sent them to find the door to another realm - a world without Fae or magic. A world full of humans - those cruel creatures that hated, feared - and also desired - the powers and abilities of the Fae.
Between the Dark Fae and the humans, the Light Fae realm had been under siege for centuries. After thousands of Fae had been either killed or taken, the king had decided to make one final, desperate play. He was going to close the doorways to the human realm. Dark Fae travel would still be possible, but the humans were getting stronger and bolder. Better to fight a war on one front, instead of two. The decision made sense, but it had one heartbreaking consequence for the king. It would prevent his daughter, Princess Maelona, from returning home.
She had left years ago, choosing a human male and a mortal life over her family, the Fae, and the throne. The king had let her leave, allowing her the freedom to pick love over duty. Unfortunately, this had more repercussions than could have been foreseen-beginning with the loss of morale, which lead to soldiers deserting their posts, less volunteers to help defend the realm, and an increase in missing Fae. The king's health had also started to decline as the blow to his heart had weakened his spirit, and he had begun to fall ill. The illness had decreased his strength and will, and the power it would take to close the portals would diminish him further.
Knowing his time was running out, King Aneirin had one last mission for his favorite guard and oldest friend. He was sending Tanrawdtatoeraswyn, Raswyn to his friends, to the human realm. He was to wait for the children of "The Prophecy" - children that were foretold by the Norn to unite the realms and stop the endless, bloody battles. The fate seers called them the children of the Aos Si, using the ancient term for the Fae races.
Lasair had refused to allow Raswyn to go alone and had accompanied him on this lonely mission. Unfortunately, they had to travel quickly so as to make it before the King started the ritual. There was at least one spy in the castle, someone was feeding information to either the Dark Fae, the humans, but probably both.
This secret mission, along with the closing of the portals, was the final attempt to protect the weakening kingdom and the creatures that lived in the Light Fae Realm. The companions were taking one last rest in their home lands before braving the doorway to the human realm at dawn.
As the two sat next to the fire, contemplating their last night under the familiar sky, a loud crack resounded in the woods around them. Raswyn stood quickly, watching for any movement in the shadows. Lasair moved closer to the flames, preparing himself to protect Raswyn. As they stood, ready for whatever may have found them, dark figures stepped our of the trees around them. Raswyn squinted in the faint light, hoping he was wrong, hoping that these weren't creatures he had once called friends.
"What are you doing here, Raswyn?", the sly voice carried over the still, night air. Raswyn recognized the voice and shook his head in disappointment.
The speaker was another Royal Guard, a Gold Dragonkin by the name of Alwain. His golden scales glimmered in the fire light, and he was as tall as Raswyn, topping 7 feet. However, Alwain's eyes glinted with malice and jealousy as he sneered at the troll.
"Alwain! I'm on a Royal Mission to visit the mermaids that live near the falls. Did the king send you too? I told him that they no longer feared me…." Raswyn knew the only reason Alwain would be here was if there were darker forces at play. Hopefully the king still lived….
"You and I both know you are not visiting with the mermaids, Raswyn." Alwain looked at the troll with disdain, "The king sent you on a fool's errand. Why don't you tell me what it is you're looking for? I'm sure we would all love to help…" The creatures with Alwain snickered, knowing they would do no such thing.
They were clearly here to stop whatever plan the king had. However, their words also indicated that they had no idea what the plan was. That was all Raswyn needed to know. That meant there was still a chance. He and Lasair could still complete their mission, and they would. Raswyn looked over his shoulder and nodded at his friend, standing near the fire. He then turned back, facing the Dragonkin again.
"I think we both know that you are not here to help. You have clearly changed your allegiance and care nothing for your king or our realm. Why not leave us to our business?” Raswyn had noticed the sky was lightening with the coming dawn. They were running out of time.
"That's why no one liked you, troll." Alwain sneered at Raswyn, "You were always so blinded by your faith to this weak king that you never saw how useless he is. That's about to change."
As Raswyn and Alwain were speaking, Lasair had begun to whisper softly. The small campfire started to pop and flare, as small flame creatures started to appear around the fire and Lasair. Lasair himself began to decrease in size, as every new flame creature drew some of his fire and magic. Ninety nine flame creatures arranged themselves around Lasair, preparing to defend the friends. They just waited for a sign of attack or a word from Lasair.
"Now, Lasair!" Raswyn called as he feinted towards Alwain, causing the Dragonkin to step back in surprise. Raswyn took advantage of his foe's surprise and turned, ready to grab Lasair as the other burning creatures made a large wall of flame between the troll and his now tiny friend. The flames reached ten feet into the night air, bathing the small clearing in a bright light. Raswyn bent over, scooping up the noticeably dimmed fire creature. He cupped his large hands, half covering the small creature who was fading in his arms. Turning, he ran towards the arched doorway to the other realm, trusting the flames to protect his back. Before he stepped into the now open portal, the troll stopped, looking back and calling quickly to the remaining flames. The wall of fire moved in unison to the portal, growing smaller before finally combining back into one small flame again, smaller than Lasair had been.
The two looked up, seeing the sky lighten with the coming dawn. Time was up. A keening could be heard, cutting through the sounds of the forest and the enemies closing in on the portal. King Aneirin had begun the ritual. They only had moments to get through before all doorways were closed. The creatures surrounding them, led by Alwain, continued to stalk closer, weapons drawn. As the two stepped into the doorway, the creatures charged forward, ready to follow them into the other realm. The first few threw themselves at the portal, only to charge through an empty space under the arched branches. They howled in anger and frustration, their cries drowning out the fading keening from the king.
On the other side, Raswyn looked down at the dying ember in his hands. He knew his friend wasn't gone, he had simply split for the last time, creating a new Fire Faeling. This was how the Elemental creatures were reborn. However, every rebirth meant a new personality and only some memories carried forward. The guard felt a tear slip down his cheek as he faced the loss of his friend, his King, and his home. He lowered himself to one knee, allowing the new Fire Faeling to say goodbye to it's former life. The ember went out completely, a small pile of ash left in the guard's hand before the wind swept the ashes off into the dawn morning. Raswyn looked around, seeing the trees, hills, and emptiness around him. There was nothing to be seen, no sign of humans or Fae anywhere around. He took a deep breath and headed into the woods, hearing running water not far away. It was time to find a new home and wait….
The dirt road was rough and bumpy, filled with rocks and potholes, causing Sansa to be bounced around in the back seat of the car. After hitting her head against the window for the third time, she opened her mouth, turning towards the front seat, where her parents sat, to complain. She quickly remembered she was still mad, so closed her mouth into a frown, and looked back out the window. The trees and hills rolled by outside the window, the car slowing as it turned the final corner before her grandparents house. Sansa stared at her reflection in the glass, noting the frown above her big, amber colored eyes. Her blonde hair hung straight to her shoulders, with short bangs laying on her forehead, framing her pretty, diamond shaped face. She was six years old, almost seven in two more months, and had two older sisters, Bella, 10, and Katie, 14. Her parents were in the front seat, Mom driving while Dad played with the music, as Bella sat beside her in the backseat.
"We're almost there, Sansa!" Sansa could see her mother's bright red ponytail over the seat in front of her and caught her blue-green eyes looking at her in the rearview mirror.
"It will be fun, you'll see! Lita can't wait to see you, and I think she has plans to take you to a movie, or maybe go swimming. Who knows what else she may be planning!" Sansa looked stonily at her dad, then turned back to look out the window. Her dad sighed from the front seat and, turning to her mom, shrugged in disgruntled acceptance.
Her grandparents lived in the foothills of the Sierra mountains, in Northern California. They owned a house a few miles North of the town Sansa, her sisters, and her parents lived in.
"Sansa, don't be mad." Bella said from the seat beside her. Sansa looked at her sister, still frowning. Bella was going to be flying to Canada for the next two weeks because she was old enough to travel by herself. Sansa would be going with her too, if only she was 8 instead of 6 and a half. Bella had their father's hair color, a deep brown, but with bright blue eyes framed by glasses, and a heart-shaped face.
"At least you don't have to worry about turbulence or tornados…" Bella was terrified of storms and she was always worried about tornadoes when she was in Canada.
"And at least you get to go on an airplane to another country! And you'll be on the farm, with cute sheep, and dogs, and cats!! Nana spoils you whenever you go." Sansa crossed her arms and turned back to the window, fighting tears.
Sansa was happy to see her grandparents, but it just wasn't fair. Her parents and oldest sister, Katie, were going down to Los Angeles for a State wide Science Fair, and Sansa wanted to go - with either of her sisters! Instead, she was stuck at her grandparents' house, close to home, for two weeks. Katie wasn't with them for the ride to Papo & Lita's. Instead, she was at home, finishing packing for their trip. She was super smart and always trying to teach her sisters about science, chemistry and biology. Katie's hair was black, her eyes blue, and she went by "Sissy" to her little sisters. Although Sansa was upset about not going to L.A., she was even more upset that Bella was traveling to Canada to see their other grandparents. Sansa was stuck, only a few miles from home, with no kids her age to play with and nothing fun to do!
The car slowed and eventually stopped in front of a bright yellow, two story house nestled in a clearing, surrounded by trees and hills. There was a wooden deck that wrapped around the front entrance and the opposite side, with flowers spilling out of pots set around it. Sansa knew that there was even an old, abandoned gold mine somewhere on the property.
As her parents climbed out of the car and started unloading Sansa's suitcases and backpack, the girls' grandparents stepped out of the front door.
"Sans’!!!" Papo called excitedly, using his nickname for her, as Lita followed closely behind. Papo's blue eyes were alight with excitement, his hair slightly gray and cut close to his ears. He walked up to Sansa's parents, patting his son on the back as he waited for Sansa to finish climbing out of the car. Sansa straightened, frowning at her parents and grandparents as they all stood together. Bella ran over to them, and Sansa noticed once again, just how much Bella and Lita looked alike. They both had long brown hair, the same heart-shaped face, but where Bella's eyes were a bright blue, Lita had brown eyes like Sansa's dad.
"Still not happy?" her grandmother asked her dad.
"Nope. She doesn't think it's fair that she can't go to L.A. She doesn't realize how not fun it's going to be at the Science Fair. Don't tell Katie, but I wouldn't be going if I didn't have to!" Her dad laughed, but Sansa glared at him as she stomped past to go inside.
"Sansa, do you have hugs for us? You should also say goodbye to Bella before we take her to the airport." Sansa's mom called to her.
She turned around, going back to begrudgingly hug her sister. Bella gave Sansa an extra squeeze and whispered, "Don't stay mad at them- you'll have fun. I know it!"
Sansa stopped and gave her mom and dad a half-hearted hug before running inside, tears starting to run down her cheeks.
A few minutes later, Sansa sat on the couch, blowing her nose and trying to wipe away her tears as her grandparents came in. They sat down on either side of her and leaned in to hug Sansa as they all listened to her parents' car driving back down the dirt road. They were heading back home to pick up Katie before taking Bella to the airport and starting their drive down to L.A. As the tears slowed and Sansa started to feel calmer, Lita offered to make her a treat to help her feel better. Sansa nodded, giving her grandmother a small, sad smile.
After Lita made Sansa an ice cream sundae -complete with chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and sprinkles- Sansa went outside to watch Papo do some yard work. Sometimes, she would help Papo plant or water the flowers, and every once in a while, Lita let her pick a few flowers to keep in a small cup with water. Today, though, she just wanted to watch Papo water the flowers and do some other yard work.
As she watched him get the lawnmower started, Sansa caught sight of a bright flash of color near the trees. She jumped up, crossing the deck to see what had caught her eye. As she searched the trees, trying to see into the shadows, something rushed at her. Sansa jumped back, looked up, and found herself face to face with a tiny hummingbird. She laughed in giggling at the flashing bird with it's beautiful color as it hovered just in front of her, watching. As suddenly as it had charged at her, it seemed to look over her shoulder, then turned and flew back off into the trees.
"What are you doing over here Sans'?" Papo asked from behind her. Sansa looked over her shoulder, smiling at her grandfather.
"I just saw the most beautiful hummingbird, Papo!!!" Sansa cried in delight. "She came over just to see me!" She proceeded to tell him all about the bird's colors, the way she seemed to be looking right at her, and how she thought Papo had scared her away. She had already forgotten all about how mad and upset she had been earlier. Papo laughed at her excited chatter, patted her on the back, and headed back to the lawnmower.
Sansa sat back down on the deck, looked towards the forest, and hoped to see her feathery new friend again. Sansa gazed at the world around her, filled with different shades of green and brown. The trees were tall, reaching high to the blue sky above. Although the lawnmower currently drowned out any other sounds, Sansa knew she would hear the rustle of leaves and songs of different birds found in the woods once her Papo was done. After a few surprise, minutes, Sansa heard a loud crack from the side of the house, followed by loud exclamations from her grandparents. There was a moment of deafening silence as Papo turned off the lawnmower, before her grandmother ran out the front door, dashed around the deck, and headed towards the back of the house. Sansa curiously followed her to where Papo was standing, glaring at the downstairs bedroom window.
"What on earth happened?" Lita asked Papo.
"Looks like the lawnmower hit a rock and shot it towards the window." Papo answered, running a hand through his hair in frustration.
Sansa looked at the bedroom window, seeing the broken glass scattered around the ground below the window. Lita turned, spotted Sansa, and began walking towards her.
"Let's go inside to get a broom and dustpan so we can help Papo clean this up." Lita suggested, already shuffling Sansa towards the garage to get the necessary supplies to tidy up the mess.
"What are you going to do with the window? What if a bird flies into the house -or bugs???" Sansa hated bugs, she thought they had too many legs and always “creeped her out”.
"Papo will figure something out -he'll probably tape it up until we can get someone out here to get it fixed. Don't you worry, we'll make sure no bugs get in." Lita hugged Sansa gently before they headed back outside to sweep up the glass. As they were cleaning, Sansa told her grandmother about the hummingbird she had seen earlier.
"Mom always says that her Nana loved hummingbirds. She told me that if I see one, it's Other-One Nana checking in on me. Do you think that's true?" Sansa looked inquisitively at her grandmother.
"I think those we love, and who love us, always find a way to let us know they are nearby and to check in with us." Lita told Sansa, smiling softly as she swept the shards of glass into the dustpan Sansa held. "I feel my father around sometimes, as if he's just saying a quick hello."
Sansa seemed to ponder that, thinking about how strange it would be to have dead family visiting you. Even stranger to be the one visiting….
"Do you believe in ghosts, Lita? Or magic?" Lita took a moment before answering her, pausing to think.
"It's hard to understand something we can't see or prove. But I do believe there is more to the world around us than what we can see." Lita carefully stood up with the garbage bag full of broken glass. "Why don't we go inside and get you a snack while I finish cleaning inside."
"Thanks, Lita." Sansa gave her grandmother a quick hug, "I love you. I'm glad I get to spend time with you and Papo. I just wish…" Sansa sniffled, remembering that her parents had left her there.
"Sansa, baby, your parents aren't trying to punish you, or leave you out. The Science Fair isn't a place for a little girl. There are no kids, no toys or games, and no time to visit anywhere fun. They thought it might be better here, with us, than stuck in a hotel room at night and a boring gymnasium during the day. And you know we were very happy to have our little girl with us for a nice visit. Plus, this way I get to go see a movie, and stock the house with sweets!" Lita gave Sansa a one-armed hug, kissing the top of her head. "Now let's go and get you that snack."
Sansa held on for an extra moment, wiping away the tears that had slipped out while Lita was talking. As Sansa stepped away, Lita opened the door and they headed into the house, smiling at each other. Papo was already inside, with his own garbage bag and his phone.
"I called the window shop. They'll have a team out later today to look at the window and give us the bad news of how much it's going to cost us. Stupid rock." Papo frowned.
Sansa giggled "Papo!!! Mom said we're not allowed to say that word!!!"
"Well don't tell her then!" Papo laughed and bent over to hug Sansa tightly, Lita laughing with them.
To be continued in Sansa & the Lonely Troll!