Excerpt from Chapter 23 of “The Guardian” by Tracy M. Kubiayk

First Serial Rights © Tracy M. Kubiayk

Read Time: 8 min

Raeanna was right, the night was breathtaking, more lovely than the lavender, but darker than she expected. The few stars seemed so close, as if she could reach out and touch them. The three remaining moons were amazing, much larger now and tinted blue. The sky was violet and Billie was a bit afraid. Pulling out her pouch of fairydust, she situated it outside her dress so it was easily accessible.

The leaves, dark shadow silhouettes, sparkled deep green. If it wasn’t for the natural shimmering glow of the land and life of Fairy, she wouldn’t be able to see as well. The flowers, too, effloresced, smelling like really expensive perfume, giving off their own nighttime glow.

I’m closer to the orchard than I am to the sprite garden. And Raeanna said the gargoyles don’t let anyone through the entrance who isn’t supposed to be there. Maybe I should have stayed there and slept in the lobby. Or, I could sleep at Raeanna’s until the other two moons rise. She wouldn’t mind. She gave me this athame as she would have her own daughter. What an awesome gift.

Billie removed the golden knife from its scabbard. She did so just in time. A strange creature flew out from the bushes, landing awkwardly in the middle of the path. Holding tight to her magickal knife, she ducked behind a tree and watched. Two other creatures, larger than the first, but still quite small, walked into the road. One of them had a long crooked nose. It kicked the smaller guy when he tried to stand up.


Billie was as quiet as a mouse.

They all had big pointy ears and bumpy foreheads. The little one grabbed for something on the path, a hat. He put it on his head and scurried away from Crooked Nose before being kicked again. The other big guy jumped around a lot, making strange noises. He seemed to be egging on Crooked Nose to kick Little Guy again.

That’s it! I don’t care if he’s a troll, no one deserves that. She aimed the golden tip of her knife, concentrated with her minds eye. She swung the knife through the air as she imagined Crooked Nose flying hard into a nearby tree. It worked. When he thumped hard into the tree, he was knocked out.

The other big guy stopped jumping. Billie stood up, feeling confident. She walked onto the path.

As soon as he notice her, he was whipped against the tree as well. They were out for only a few seconds, but when they saw Billie walking toward them, pointing the amber tipped knife, they ran. Their movement was so quick they were gone in a second, leaving the little troll behind.

“No! Please. Don’t,” he pleaded.

While he was cowering on the side of the road, Billie dipped her fingers into her pouch of fairydust and blew it toward the small troll.

He sneezed, then quickly drifted off, asleep.

The fairydust worked. Thank the Goddess.

Though her knife blade was pretty dull, she managed to cut a few branches off a vionberry bush. Recalling an outdoors-man program she once saw on public television, she stripped the branches and braided a rope which she used to tie the little sleeping creature to the tree. She munched on some vionberries while she waited for him to wake up. After about twenty minutes he opened his droopy eyes.

“Who are you, troll? And what are you doing over here?”

“Names Pavlik. Me and my brothers were waiting by the orchard for the delivery wagon to leave.”

“And why were you doing that?”

“Cameron and Fergal wanted some apples. We love apples. I saw the horse coming out and shrieked too loudly. The horse didn’t come out then, and my brothers got mad at me.” He squirmed around, feeling out the tightness of his constraint.

Billie directed her athame. The rope tightened even more.


“You were going to steel some apples?”

“Yes. I’m sorry. But I was hungry. They always steel my supper! I’m sorry,” he repeated.

“Why don’t you grow your own apples?” She stood over him, demanding answers.

“Too dry, I guess. We’re tired of oranges, but snake is pretty tasty.”

Billie wrinkled her nose, disgusted any creature would eat snake.

“We used to trade fish for apples, but that was long ago. We miss their crunchy goodness and sweet juice. Please let me go. I won’t do any harm.”

“Your brothers are very mean. I do feel bad for you, but I don’t know if I should let you go just yet.” She began pacing. “I wonder what I should do with you. I can’t just leave you here. I probably shouldn’t let you go. You did break the land agreement I heard about.”

“You heard about?”

“Yes, Pavlik? That’s your name?”

“That’s right. What do you mean you heard about the land agreement?”

“I know you’re not supposed to be here. You’re supposed to stay by the volcano area.”

“Where are you from?” he asked, tilting his head.

Billie didn’t answer him. She continued pacing back and forth.

“I’m sorry, really. I’m not like them. I’m really nice. Let me go, we could play together. Nobody ever plays with me anymore.”

“You don’t have any friends?”

“Everyone picks on me. Not just Cameron and Fergal, all the young ones. But, I’m pretty quick. I can usually get away,” he added cheerfully. “I could use a friend. Can I ask your name?”

She stopped pacing, took a deep breath, and looked down at him. “Billie Gwynn.”

“Do you know how to play hopscotch, Billie?”

“Of course I do. You play hopscotch?” she laughed.

His eyes grew bright, “It’s my favorite game! One game, please?”

Since she had plenty of fairydust and her magick knife, Billie decided it would be alright to untie Pavlik. They found a stone and formed the hopscotch pattern with shiny sticks. Pavlik was so fast, Billie could see why it was his favorite game.

“I should be going now, Pavlik. I’m going to let you go home. But don’t break any more rules,” she said.

“Why are you out at night?” he asked, circling around her with his speedy troll feet. “Stay longer.”

“You’re making me dizzy.”

He stopped. “Really, what brings you out at night?”

“Well, I was hoping to make it to the garden to sleep, but three trolls got in my way.” She chuckled. “Truthfully, I should be back home by now. I just completed my initiation,” she said happily.



“Too bad you have to go,” he pouted. “I don’t want to go home yet,” he started crying.

Billie knelt down to his eye level. “Don’t cry. I’ll be back,” she said thoughtfully.

Pavlik smiled then. “When?”

Billie stood up, more like a jump of joy, and hopped down the hopscotch with a burst of energy. “Next month I get a feast in my honor at the castle. And I get to meet my dad! Benjamin W. Britton, Druid High Priest,” she said proudly. “Well, he will be a High Priest the following day when we get another party!”

“Oh, no. Oh, dear,” said Pavlik, becoming fidgety and shaking his head many times.

“What?” asked Billie.

“Britton is your dad?”

“Yes. He’ll be done with his sabbatical and promoted to High Priest. He’s coming to my party. Do you know him?”

“Billie. I’m sorry to tell you this, but the trolls took your dad captive awhile back. That sure explains why no one has come looking for him. Strom probably knew that.”

“What? No! That can’t be. I got a letter from the Queen.”

“They don’t know, Billie. And the old ones won’t release him until he breaks the barrier spell. Strom is planning on taking over quite a chunk of land as soon as Britton breaks the spell.”

Pacing again, Billie thought hard about this. “I remember Nick, no Theena, said it took many Druids to cast the spell separating Fairy from Troll. And still, they had only enough magick to make it work only for daytime.”

“No matter. Strom thinks he can break the spell alone. But Britton refuses.”

It was him. It was Dad who called me through my dreams. That makes perfect sense.

“Who is this Strom?” she asked.

“He’s the leader of Troll. He and Halley control all of us. She’s the only female troll. She’s the hunter. She supplies the snakes. She also runs the army, but Strom runs all of us, the old ones and the young ones, always has.”

“Why can’t my dad use his magick to escape? And why does this leader, Strom, think my dad can break the barrier alone?”

“Strom is the only troll with magick. Fire magick.” He looked down toward the ground, leaning from foot to foot nervously. “And over there, the way it is, his is a bit more powerful than Britton’s. He thinks that with both his own and your dad’s magick working together the barrier can be broken.”

“I’ve got to tell someone.”

“You better do it soon. Tomorrow night they’re gonna start the… the…”

“The what, Pavlik?” she demanded.

“Well, he’s been confined to a cell since they took him. But, since he refuses to break the spell, tomorrow they’re going to brand him.”


“Strom will use his dark magick to cast a spell on the coal. It will mark him and force him to be a slave. The spell doesn’t work on the mind, only the body. He will do physical work, hard labor, until he cooperates and breaks the barrier spell.”

“We must tell someone.”

“If we do, a war will start. They might kill him before anyone has a chance to save him.”

“Then I have to save him. Take me to him, Pavlik!”

“Think about this Billie. They’ll take you too and probably threaten him with your life.” He started to cry.

“I know no matter how much magick there is in the world, I can’t bring my mom back, but I will save my father. He called for my help. I’m sure he loves me. It had to be love, too, that made him able to call me all the way from my world. I feel it deep inside, and I’m not going to let him down.”

“Strom’s magick and the cell he’s locked in weaken Britton’s magick. Yet he was still able to call for you; that makes perfect sense. Because of his love for you, you were the only one who could hear his call.” He wiped a few tears from his eyes. “Oh, Billie, you’re so blessed. I imagine only a love that strong could get through. No one has ever loved Pavlik,” he said, crying on and on.

“Oh, Pavlik, you strange little troll, please stop crying. I don’t like it when you’re sad. Please help me.”

“He doesn’t have much time.”

“I could astral travel there,” she said.

“You’ve been to the volcano before?” he sniffled.

“No. That’s right, that won’t work until I get my training. Please, stop crying, Pavlik. Help me think.”

Pavlik stopped the tears and wiped his dirty face clean. They both paced back and forth.

“I have an idea!”

She stopped in front of him. “What?”

“We can try to sneak him out, but if we run into anyone you can use me as hostage.”

“That’ll work?”

“They might be mean, but they don’t want me dead. We have only one hundred trolls, none to spare. Each and every troll has a duty that must be done to keep Troll in working order.”

“Okay, let’s go.”

“You’d better bring some of those berries. We don’t have any over there.”

“You know about the berries?”

“Yes. We weren’t always separated by a spell.”


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