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Authors: Ashley Du Toit

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Nemesis and the Troll King

BOOK: Nemesis and the Troll King
5.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


First published in 2010 in Australia by Dragons Publishing

This edition published in 2011 by Ashley Du Toit

© Ashley Du Toit 2010

More information at:

Your non-refundable purchase of this e-book allows you to one LEGAL copy for your own personal use. It is illegal to send your copy to someone who did not pay for it. Distribution of this e-book, in whole or in part, online, offline, in print or in any way or any other method currently known or yet to be invented, is forbidden without the prior written permission of both the publisher and the copyright owner of this book.


Editor: RoseMary Bellamy

Cover and internal
design: Best Legenz

Troll Illustration: Ashleigh Ryan



Bizarre Tales

Be They Brothers?

A Centaur Named Folgoo

A New Quest

The Ancient Tree

The Immortal Markets

George's Mountain


Sik and His Nymphs


Facing Kaylin



It would be impossible to begin acknowledgements with anyone other than my husband. Thank you, Gert. I love you so very much.

And of course I must thank my kiddies, Kaitlyn and Joshua, my inspiration and my delight.

A special thanks to Jillian who loves my characters so much.

Helen Elward, Rose Mary Bellamy and Bernice Kesbah at Best Legenz Publishers also deserve my thanks. Thanks, ladies, for all the hard work and the endless hours you've given me. As always, you've made it a delight to work with you.

To my readers—I hope that you enjoy discovering the characters as much as I enjoyed creating them.


Bizarre Tales

nce, eons ago, there lived a handsome prince … His name was Dylan.
As princes do, he lived in a dazzling white castle complete with turrets, the crested towers standing five storeys high.

Each day after breakfast, Dylan would leave the wonderful white haven of his home. Pushing through the massive wooden doors that graced the castle's entrance, each etched with hundreds of tiny roses carved with infinite patience for the queen who so loved them, he would venture down the lane that meandered through the castle's sprawling front gardens.

Walking through the imposing entrance gates and nodding to the sentries posted there, he would come to the path that skirted the forest. He would follow it for a time, enjoying the beauty of the lush evergreens, until he reached a massive oak tree. There he would leave the path to venture deep into the forest, to visit again that which he'd visited so many times since he'd been a young boy, to think of days gone by and wonder anew what had happened on the fateful day his brother disappeared.

But on one day of each year, Dylan did not carry out this ritual. On one day of the year Dylan hunted porcupines.

As harvest time approached, porcupines would invade the fields of corn and barley that the royal family grew to feed the people of their kingdom. If left unchecked, the creatures burrowed close to the surface of the earth, creating massive underground tunnels. Then, when the harvesters walked along the rows of crops, the thin ground above the tunnels would give way. Many injuries had occurred in the years before Dylan's father had begun the tradition of hunting and relocating the porcupines.

At sun's first kiss on this hunt day two weeks before harvesting would begin, Prince Dylan gathered a number of his men. He called for his favourite dogs, and smiled as the two enormous Great Danes bounded joyfully around him. They settled as he stroked the silky fur that shone in the early morning light, but their twitching ears and the shivers that rippled the powerful muscles of their backs showed how eager they were for the day's activities to begin.

The hunting party set off while the sun was still partially hidden by the horizon and made good time to the fields that lay beyond the forest. Here the dogs frolicked, nosing into the burrows and barking, rousing the porcupines from the tunnels so that Dylan and his men could capture them. Which was no easy task, the porcupines resisting the attempts to relocate them with spiky quills and surly natures, and Dylan had more than one good laugh as the strapping soldiers gingerly braved the dangers of the stubby little animals' spines.

The hunters took only a short break for bread, cheese and cool water, but still it was late afternoon before the men scooped up the last of the troublesome guests into thickly woven sacks and carried them to the sanctuary Dylan had created for them—a fallow field filled with hidden tunnels they might explore, and food in abundance so that they would not want to leave its safe confines.

As twilight dwindled into night's embrace, the hunters made their way back to the castle, exhausted but satisfied that the task was complete for another year. Sending the rest of the hunting party on ahead, Prince Dylan headed towards the cool forest lake to rid himself of the day's dust and grime. He trudged wearily along, smiling as he thought of the fun they had had catching and relocating the disgruntled porcupines.

Deep in his memories, it was a few moments before Dylan sensed that he was no longer alone in the lushness. A rustling noise, vibrating subtly through the air, showed that something or someone lurked close by. Eager to see what type of animal was about on this night, Dylan dropped to the ground on his hands and knees, then stretched out to lay on his belly. Ensuring that he could not be seen through the thick vegetation, Dylan stealthily edged forward.

It was difficult to see between the giant ferns and ponytails plants that clustered on the forest floor. Dylan tilted his head to one side, listening carefully. He didn't hear anything, and he had begun to feel rather silly creeping about like this, when his sweeping gaze reached a little man partially hidden behind some huge elephant ear plants. Although the little man's back was to Dylan, Dylan knew that he'd never seen him before. Dylan frowned, then crept slowly forward, one centimetre at a time, hesitant to make the little man aware of his presence before he was right beside him.

The sound of Dylan's Great Danes barking in the distance as they returned to the castle intruded into the scene, and Nirb the leprechaun popped his head out from behind a huge leaf.

“Why humans insist on keeping those slobbering, drooling, drivelling things as pets I have no idea,” he said crankily. “Can't understand it. There be no reason for it at all. Scared me so much with their barking I dropped me leprid stick,” he grumbled to himself.

Nirb pulled his head back behind the fat leaf. He had no choice but to search in the darkness to find his stick so that he could leave the mortal realm and return to his own.

“Just wonderful,” he mumbled, and at that exact moment a hand latched onto his jacket and yanked him off his feet.

“Arrrrrhhh,” he screamed in fright. Air rushed out of his lungs and his heart beat rapidly. Frantically he raised his eyes to stare at whoever had caught him.
What rotten luck,
he thought,
a human!
He grimaced in irritation and disgust.

Then the shock took its toll, and Nirb felt his eyes begin to glaze over. As if from a distance, he heard the human demanding something, but the words were just sounds and Nirb could make no sense of them.

Obviously not getting the answers he sought, the human began to shake Nirb none too gently. The rough action brought Nirb out of his faint. He concentrated on the human's voice, trying desperately to register what was being said.

“Who are you?” the human demanded.

Nirb opened his mouth to speak, but the human started to talk again.

“What are you doing creeping about in my forest, peasant?”

Instantly irritated at being called a peasant, Nirb twisted his stubby body in an effort to break free, but the man only tightened his grip in response.

“Answer me at once!” Dylan demanded, growing impatient.

“I will answer ye, human, if ye give me the chance,” Nirb snapped straight back.

Dylan's eyebrows shot high with shock that the man had dared to speak to him in such a manner.

His captive continued, “Besides, ye don't own this forest.”

“What do you mean? I am a prince of the royal family and we
own this forest.” Dylan replied, outraged.

Nirb snorted. Humans always thought they owned
. Raising his eyes, he looked deeply into the human's and said, “Now why would ye think ye owned this land? How can ye own something that lives and breathes? This forest holds more secrets and hidden things than ye can ever hope to understand. It was here long before ye were born and it will be here long after ye have died.”

He paused, squaring his shoulders before concluding with, “No, human, ye do not own the forest. Ye are only its guardian at best.”

To Nirb's disgust the man's face showed only confusion.

Trying to make some sense of the situation, Dylan retreated to his earlier question. “Who

Nirb cleared his throat and wriggled his small body as he answered, “Me name is Nirb.”

Dylan slowly looked at the little man, from the top of his head to the tips of his toes, taking in his pointy ears, the bright green jacket and red pants and the shiny black-buckled shoes.

Confused, Dylan continued, “
are you?”

“I be … a leprechaun,” Nirb replied with a naughty smile and a mischievous glint in his eyes.

A frown appeared on Dylan's face.

Nirb sighed loudly and asked slowly, as if speaking to a small child, “Ye have heard of leprechauns, have ye not?”

“Of course I've heard of leprechauns. In fairytales, right alongside witches and fairies and dragons and trolls,” Dylan snapped back, irritation pushing confusion aside.

Nirb sniggered, “So ye don't believe leprechauns are real, then?” he asked.

“Of course I don't believe in leprechauns!” Dylan all but shouted.

“Look, just because ye don't believe in something don't mean it don't exist. I be a leprechaun, and I be real,” he said flatly.

“Enough of this nonsense,” Dylan snapped. “Tell me what you are doing on my land!”

Realising that he was not making any headway with this stubborn human, Nirb wriggled his body, again trying to escape from Dylan's grasp.

“Keep still!” said Dylan, tightening his hold on the little man.

Nirb stilled his movements and glared at the human before him.

“Tell me where you come from,” Dylan demanded, trying another tack.

“It be none of yer business,” muttered Nirb.

“Alright,” said Dylan threateningly, “then I will just have to take you to the dungeons until we sort this out.”

Realising that he was not going to be set free until he cooperated, Nirb scowled at Dylan and offered: “I be from Leprechaun's Hollow.”

“I've never heard of it,” said Dylan, frowning again.

“It be far away from here,” answered Nirb wistfully, then continued with an exasperated sigh, “Look … when a leprechaun gets caught by a human, he must grant a boon in exchange for his freedom. So just tell me what ye want and I'll be on me way.”

“What type of boons are you talking about?” Dylan asked.

“Sometimes gold from the leprechaun's crock, sometimes the gift of luck, or sometimes granting a wish,” answered Nirb.

That last bit about wishes caught Dylan's attention. “A wish? Could I wish for information?” he asked, careful not to sound too excited.

Nirb nodded.

Dylan slowly lowered Nirb to the ground.

“What ye be doing? Why have ye released me?” Nirb asked suspiciously, taking a small step backwards.

Dylan raised his hands palms upwards and said, “If you're going to give me information I want you to do it on your own free will and not because you think you're obliged to.”

Nirb scowled at him, but in truth he'd never met a human who released him before he'd granted the boon. It was positively unheard of! Dylan surprised Nirb even further by turning and walking off in the direction of the lake. Nirb stood where Dylan had set him upon the ground. He watched as the human walked away. Shaking his head once, he decided to follow.

“Ah, Nirb, curiosity will be the death of ye,” he muttered to himself as he set off after the human.

As Dylan reached the lake, he stopped to stare at the exquisite scene before him. Moonlight spilled onto the surface of the lake and bathed the trees around it in silver, while pinpoint lights from thousands of tiny fireflies competed with the myriad of stars shining in the crystal clear night air.

Dragging his gaze away with an effort, Dylan bent down and gathered small sticks. Choosing a sandy spot on the bank, he lowered himself to his haunches. He neatly stacked the twigs, then set them alight with the flint from his hunting pack. He patiently fanned the tiny flames until the fire took hold, greedily drawing in the night air and sending frenzied fingers questing toward the sky.

Satisfied, Dylan stood up and looked around him. He spotted a large log and dragged it closer to the fire, then sat down gratefully on it.

The bright reddish-yellow blaze soothed him, drew him closer, urging him to relax within its warm encirclement. He stretched his long legs appreciatively towards the flames.

Without turning his gaze from the play of red and gold, the prince called, “You're welcome to join me, Nirb.”

For a long moment Nirb remained hidden behind the tree at the edge of the clearing, then he slowly walked forward, still not entirely trusting this new turn of events.

Tricky … tricky these humans,
he thought before he cautiously sat down and waited for the prince to speak.

They sat for a long time, mesmerised by the lake's reflected view of the moonrise in the starry night sky. Sounds floated around them: owls hooting, crickets singing, frogs croaking, a distant wolf crying out for its mate, the fire crackling and hissing before them, but still the prince did not speak.

The silence between them had almost become tangible before Dylan broke it.

“Since I know your name, Nirb, perhaps I should introduce myself. I am Prince Dylan James the Second. I am the son of King Ash and Queen Lee,” he said with pride.

“I be pleased to meet ye, Prince Dylan,” Nirb responded, although his subdued tone belied his words. “What information be ye seeking of me, Prince?”

“I am not an only child,” began Dylan in a quiet voice. “I had … have … a brother named Joshua Gray. Three years ago he went out to attend to some family business and disappeared. No one has heard from him since. I want to know what happened to Gray, if he is alright.”

Dylan moved his head slightly so that he could see Nirb out of the corner of his eye, but Nirb was watching the ground, a frown upon his face.

“Before I tell ye anything about yer brother, ye must understand where I be from.”

Dylan remained silent, his gaze fixed on the leprechaun's face.

“Surrounding yer mortal world be other worlds, immortal realms. There be trolls, goblins, pixies, fairies, centaurs, satyrs and many more. Our realms be ruled by a powerful dragon, Nemesis.” Nirb raised his eyes to see how Dylan was responding.

“Three years ago, the beautiful fairy Kaylin be returning home from the human world after looking after the bluebells. She be followed by a human. Kaylin tells him that it be forbidden for humans to enter the immortal realms, that he must return to his rightful home. But the human refuses. She tells him again, and he be so frustrated at her saying him ‘no' that he be very rude and cruel to her. Kaylin be a gentle fairy with no hope of protecting herself against the things he be saying to her …”

BOOK: Nemesis and the Troll King
5.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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