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Of Trolls and Bridges (Lady Madeline pt. 9)

"A stick?" Handsome asked, "I can find a stick! Oh boy!" and began sniffing about the orchard, trying to find something that Madeline or Roderick would like.

"A big stick?" Madeline asked Roderick, "Why do we need a big stick?"

"Well," Roderick said, "the way you need to cross the river is by using the bridge."

"And?" Madeline said.

"Well, if there is a bridge, then that means there will be a troll, too."

"So?" It was like he was trying to give answers that made no sense.

"We need a way to fight the troll."

Madeline's mouth dropped open. She didn't know what to say to that. How do you respond when your guide suggests something that ridiculous?

"Your plan is to fight a troll… with a stick?" she asked.

Handsome heard the word, 'stick,' and shouted, "I'm still looking. Not a lot here!"

Roderick looked at her, and she could tell he knew it was a bad idea. "I couldn't think of a better plan," he said, "the troll likes to eat people."

"I thought you said that there weren't many people in Faewold?" she asked,

"I did. There aren't. He's usually very hungry."

Madeline shook her head. "Why didn't we bring a sword then?"

"I don't have one," she said.

Handsome asked, "What if the stick has bees on it?"

"But we're going to have to fight people-eating trolls and groups of evil cats."

"They're called glarings," Roderick said.

"What are?"

"The groups of cats."

"What does that even have to do with anything? Unless it's a wand, I'm not going to be able to protect myself by waving a stick at something!"

Handsome called out, "I don't think we should use the one with bees. They were very angry that I tried to take it."

Roderick frowned and sank to the ground. "I know," he said, "but I don't have anything to give you."

Madeline sighed. "So," she asked, "in most stories, there is a way to get around a troll. In 'Billy-goats gruff,' they just said, 'my brother is coming,' can we do something like that?"

"No," Roderick said, "all of the trolls heard that story by this point. I don't think that you'll trick this one with it."

"OK. Well, I know one story where trolls turn into stone in the sunlight. Is there a way to turn him into stone or something?"

Roderick thought about this for a moment. "Well, if we got some Oil of Ickibrick and somehow got him to eat it."

Handsome shouted, "I think I found one! You guys will love it!"

"Great!" Madeline said, "How do we get some?"

"Oh, there's this great little shop that sells some in Anderberg," Roderick said.

"And where's that?" Madeline asked.

"… on the other side of the river."

Handsome came trotting back with a large branch in his mouth. It was longer than he was and was at least a few inches thick. He put it down at Madeline's feet. He was very proud. "How's this one?" he asked.

Madeline sighed. Between the Handsome and Roderick, this was going to be an extremely long trip. And, she thought, if Roderick was her "fairy guardian," then she was going to be in trouble for the rest of her life.

"Can't you just fly me over?" She asked.

"No," Roderick said, "a five-ounce fairy cannot carry a fifty-pound girl, especially if the girl has an enormous, squirming dog with her."

Madeline threw her arms up in the air. This was all so impossible. "Can you just distract it while I run past?" Madeline asked.

Roderick said nothing and thought. This simply hadn't occurred to him before. Though, in his defense, normally a fairy does not need to worry about walking across bridges. "Yes…" he said, "but it will be awfully dangerous."

"Is that more or less dangerous than trying to fight a giant bridge-monster with a broken tree branch?" Madeline said, and before Roderick even had a chance to respond, she crossed the field in front of the orchard and followed the path into the woods. Roderick waited for a moment then zoomed after her. She was right after all.

Handsome sat there for a minute, watching Madeline march down the path into the trees, and Roderick zip towards her. Where were they going? "Hey!" he yelled, "Did you like the stick I brought? Was it big enough?" Madeline was too far away for him to hear her answer, so he picked up the branch and chased after her and Roderick.

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