“Fire and Ice” Chap. 8B in the Panooksa Saga

Idea by Tom Austin                               Written by Tom Austin

Revised and improved by award-winning author Meg Sorick

“I beg your pardon. What did you say, Merlin?” Milly yelled up to him.

“I said I am a Troll. Are you going deef? You’re too perty for that,” replied Merlin.

Just then Milly had an idea. “Can you put your hand on the ground please?”

“Can do. But what do you want with my hand?” asked Merlin, as he reached down.

When Merlin’s hand lay flat on the ground Milly and Brad climbed into his palm.

“Oh, I see what you’re doing.” Merlin raised his hand so it was level with his face.

“Yeah!” said Milly, clapping her hands together. “Now we can a face to face talk without having to shout. That really is better.”

“Sure is. And you look even more perty now!”

But one thing was evident. Merlin had really bad breath. Milly and Brad looked at each other and grimaced. As discreetly as she could, Milly covered her nose with her hand. “Merlin, do you have any celery, by chance?” she asked.

“I sure do. It’s in my garden.”

“Can we see it Merlin?”

“You sure can, perty lady.”

Merlin put Milly and Brad in the chest pockets of his overalls. “It’s a good thing I have two pockets. Since yer not married, it would be wrong to put you both in one pocket.”

Brad rolled his eyes and Milly gestured for him to be quiet, so he wouldn’t say anything stupid. And off they went to Merlin’s house. It soon became clear that this trip would have been too far for Milly and Brad to make on foot, but with Merlin walking, the journey lasted only half an hour. When they got to the house, Merlin gently took them out of his pockets and placed them on a small table outside his front door. From there, they could see the entire vegetable patch.

Merlin leaned down so that his face was level with the table top. “OK, perty lady, what do you want with the celery?”

“Here’s the thing…” How does one explain to a huge troll that his breath is offensive? “Um, Merlin? Where we come from, that is to say… at our size… er…” Milly stammered.

“Your breath stinks, man,” Brad finished for her. “It’s killing us!”

Milly clapped her hands to her cheeks in horror but, instead of being insulted, the troll roared with laughter. “Aha! So the celery is for me!” he said, still laughing. “So what do I do with it?”

After shooting a dirty look at Brad, Milly instructed Merlin to place a stalk of celery in glass of water, and to leave it there at least a day. At the end of the day, he’d have celery water, which would taste good as well as do wonders for his breath.

“Alright, whatever you say, perty lady.”

Milly raised an eyebrow. “Merlin, why don’t ever call me by my name?”

“Well, you never told me yer name, now, did ya?”

“I’m called Milly,” she said and then pointed at Brad. “And his name is Brad.”

“I’m glad to know you Milly. And that goes for you, too, Brad. I didn’t know there were itty bitty Trolls”

Brad answered this time. “Maybe that’s because we’re not Trolls.”

“Yer not? Well, what the heck are ya?”

Again Brad answered. “I’m a man, and Milly is a woman. You know, a bit like your mom.” Milly crossed her arms, and shot Brad a disapproving look. She didn’t care to be compared to a Troll. But Brad turned to Milly and made curvy gestures with his hands. Milly smiled and nodded in understanding.

Merlin seemed to be satisfied with their answers. “Have you been to The Town?” he asked.

“This is our first time in The Second Realm. We haven’t seen anything, yet,” said Brad.

“There are lots of itty bitty people in The Town. Would you like to go?”

“Sure thing, Merlin, let’s go!” said Milly enthusiastically.

Merlin gently picked them up one at a time, and deposited them in his pockets. “You may be special to each other, but you’re not married. So no funny stuff,” he said with a chuckle.

When Merlin walked, each stride was about one hundred yards long, so the trip to The Town only took about an hour. Brad called over to Milly, “I guess it’s a good thing we can travel by “Merlin Power” or else we’d never get anywhere in this place.”

Soon, they saw the spires and steeples of The Town off in the distance. Milly and Brad hung out of the pockets as far as they dared so they could enjoy this experience as much as possible.

After an hour of bouncing around, and laughing till their sides hurt, Milly asked, “Merlin, why is this place just called the The Town? Did no one ever think to give it a proper name?”

“There were so many ideas that people fought and bickered. A short Troll, one of my cousins really, suggested simply calling it The Town. That made sense to a lot of people, and they stopped the arguing.”

When they got to The Town, Merlin set his passengers on the ground. Milly immediately went to inspect the stores, a practice Brad called “snooping.” Milly’s first stop was a store that specialized in picture frames. When she entered, a woman was making a big fuss about something.

“Do you nitwits have any idea who I am?” she asked haughtily.

“Yes. You’re a spoiled brat and a twit,” said the woman waiting on her.

“I’ve never been so insulted in my entire life! I’m going to take my business elsewhere.”

“And when you do, I’ll phone them and let them know what a lousy human being —not to mention customer— you are.” She sighed heavily. “Look Sirena, we go through this grief every time you come here. You know we’re the only store in The Town that does this work.”

“Hmph.” With that, the woman turned and started for the door. Milly couldn’t help but notice the nearly floor-length, conical-shaped gown she wore. She was curious about this woman, and asked about her.

“I’m new here in The Town. Who was that?”

“Her name is Sirena Telford. She’s The Town’s resident pain in the backside. No doubt you noticed you her gown. It was specially made to help her move. The gown almost touches the ground, so as to hide her disfigured feet. She doesn’t walk. She glides. She’s bitter about her feet, and takes out her anger on other people.” She waved a hand dismissively. “But enough about her, what can I do for you?”

Milly explained she had a small piece of cloth, and she was wondering if they could frame it.

“That all depends. Just how small is this piece of cloth?”

“Its about eight inches square”

“Do you mind if I see it?”

Milly rifled through the pocket where she usually kept her mad money, and produced a small piece of cloth. “This used to belong to my boyfriend. He thinks it was destroyed in an accident.”

“How…interesting. Your boyfriend certainly has unique taste.”

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Further musings of Meg can be found  Here!

Check out her Bucks County Novel series Here!

Buy the award-winning Three Empty Frames from Amazon Right Here!

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