Once upon a time, in a land that was as swampy as it was smelly, a fairly ugly bridge troll was preparing for another day filled with tricks and riddles. The bridge troll couldn’t say with all honesty that he enjoyed his job, but, it was his job and what good are you if you are not doing your job? So, every morning, as the bright sun rose over the mountains in the distance, the troll packed up his bed and, as per the commandments of the Troll Code, stood and waited to test any unwitting travelers who had no choice but to eventually cross his bridge on their way to wherever they were going. Today, however, it was the bridge troll who would be faced with a challenge of his own, as he was about to come face-to-face with the might and wit of Prince Edward Markus Gregory the IV and his sidekick, Echo the Fox.
The bridge troll had been taught everything there was to know about the Troll Code from his father, who had been gone for some time. Therefore, the book was nearly as important to him as protecting the bridge itself. Should anyone attempt to cross who had not passed the troll’s tests, then the swampy ground beneath the bridge would be the least of their worries. Though it had seen better days, the troll kept his copy of The Code safely with him at all times and was sitting underneath his bridge reciting pages from The Code when he heard the familiar sound of a traveller’s horse galloping in the distance. He put his copy of The Code down and peaked out from underneath the bridge. Three figures were heading his way.
Once close enough, the troll concluded that one of the travellers was royalty of some kind riding on top the horse and, to his utmost surprise, a spritely fox was trotting beside both of them. Just as the horse was about to place one of his hoofs on the first plank of the bridge, the bridge troll yelled in his meanest, roughest voice, “HALT! Who dare attempt to cross my bridge without my permission!” The three travellers stopped in their tracks and looked curiously at one another. The prince responded, “It is I.. well… we… but, I am Prince Edward Markus Gregory the IV and this is my trusty sidekick, Echo.” The prince jumped down from his horse and drew his sword. “Now, show yourself, mysterious voice!” The bridge troll climbed his way out on to the wooden planks and stared at the travellers.
“You can put that sword away, Prince, for I do not wish to fight, merely ask you a riddle, see?” the prince sheathed his sword and instead prepared himself for a battle of wits.
“Ask your question, ugly troll! I will defeat you no matter the fight!”
The troll took a deep breath and asked his question, “What often goes up when the rain comes down?” The Prince looked puzzled for a moment and looked to his companions before announcing his answer.
“Well, I would argue that most things that were going up at the time of the rain coming down would still be going up.” The troll was yet to receive an answer of this nature and, consequently, was unsure of how to respond. Noticing the troll’s confusion, the prince continued with confidence. “Say I was going up the stairs of my castle and it started to rain, I see no reason for me not to continue walking up the stairs. Therefore, I shall continue going up as the rain is coming down.”
Bemused, the troll replied, “I’m afraid that is not the answer to my riddle so you cannot pass!”
“Well, that’s preposterous!” Prince Edward Markus Gregory the IV yelled. “You can’t go making up the rules as you go! You wanted an answer, I gave you an answer, now, be a gentlma… gentle… whatever you are and let us over your bridge this very second or face the consequences!”
“Never!” The Troll Bridge yelled as the two of the prince and the troll prepared for battle. The prince took one step on to the bridge and the swampy ground around them began to shake.
“WAIT!” yelled Echo. The prince took his foot off the bridge and the earth immediately calmed. As the prince and troll were arguing, Echo had dashed under the bridge and had stolen the troll’s copy of The Code. “It says here in this book that, ‘Should a troll ask a riddle with more than one correct answer, then it is decreed that an intruder be freely able to pass the bridge on which the riddle was asked.”
Wanting nothing more than to get his book back, the bridge troll agreed to let them cross without trouble or fuss.
As they slowly crossed the bridge, the prince praised his companion. “You are a wonderful sidekick, Echo. I am truly lucky.”
The troll felt helpless watching the travellers walk over his bridge and, with his copy of The Code in his hands, solemnly made his way back under his bridge. Clearly, there was more to learn before he could be the troll he was meant to be.
In the meantime, the three companions continued deeper into the mist at the base of Dark Mountain.
This tale has links to: #69 – The Tale of Echo and the Kidnapped Sidekicks CLICK TO GO DEEPER!
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
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