My master is an odd sort. Yes, he’s a troll, but Mortalus is odd even for a troll. On this balmy midsummer’s eve he sent me on an errand just before midnight, much to my dismay.
“Out of bed, Pip! I need a jewel toad,” he said, dragging my covers off me.
“A jewel toad? What on earth?”
“By the lake. You shall see. Hurry.”
Mortalus pushed me out the door and shut it without another word. I sighed. Such was my lot in life, indentured servant to a barely-sane troll.
“Good summer’s eve to you, Pip,” whispered Nairy, hovering by my ear “What are you doing out at this hour? The fae will spirit you away, they will.” She giggled at her little joke, for she was one of them.
“Mortalus says he wants a jewel toad, whatever that is,” I said yawning and rubbing my eyes. “Maybe I’m dreaming?”
“Yes! That must be it” said Nairy. “Dreaming is always the best time.”
I listened in the darkness to hear the toads singing merrily with the crickets in the distance. With only the moonlight to find my way, I plodded along the path to the lake so calm it looked like a pool of stars. It was silly of me, I know, but I knelt on the shore and called out, “Jewel toad, come hither!”
Without warning, a pair of bulbous eyes poked out of the water right in front of me.
“What?” he croaked.
“Come home with me to meet my Master.”
“He will eat me!”
I considered it. It was a definite possibility, but I tried to reassure him.
“He only wishes to speak with you. You are wise in ways he is not.”
“Answer my riddle first.”
I nodded, hoping it wasn’t too difficult for my cobweb -congested mind.
“What can soar on wings, but has no heart? What can only be given, but never saved?”
I shook my head.
“It makes no sense.”
“Of course it does, Pip.” Nairy still hovered by my side the way she always did, her glinting green wings shining in the moonlight. And then I saw it in her eyes, the way she looked at me. Had it always been there? I hadn’t noticed it before, but now under a never ending galaxy of stars I could finally see.