Princess Charlotte and Princess Evie were fast asleep in their beds, late in the morning, on the most beautiful of winter days. They had dreams about Nanny and Grandpa in the Secret Forest and Grandma and Grandpa in a far away land. They dreamt about the Cat People and Dog People and Lady Emma. They dreamt about riding Panana and Curls all over the Kingdom. They dreamt about flying with the Cloud Folk and using their magic in the skies above the Secret Forest. They dreamt of the Grass, Riverbank and Wood Pixies all over the Kingdom of Harrowsmith, and they dreamt about Princess Evie’s magic bubble wand growing deep inside the Pixies magic tree, giving life to the forests of Harrowsmith. The princesses were deep in dreamland when they were awoken by a peculiar noise.
BOOM, BUMP, BOOM, BUMP, BOOM, BUMP, BOOM, BOOM, BUMP. The noise went.
Princess Charlotte rolled over and put her head under her pillow. Jib came running into their room and dove into Charlotte’s bed and under all the blankets.
“What’s the matter with you, Jib?” asked Princess Charlotte, now wrestling to find room in her bed with Jib.
“I don’t want to get up. You go! I was having a nice dream!” said Princess Evie.
“So was I.”
BOOM, BUMP, BOOM, BUMP, BOOM, BUMP, BOOM, BOOM, BUMP. The noise continued.
“OK! I’m up!” said Princess Evie, throwing her blankets back and touching her feet to the cold floor.
Princess Evie grabbed Charlotte’s blanket and ripped them right off of her. Princess Charlotte curled up in a little ball to preserve the last ounce of heat left in her bed but it was no use. She flailed her body onto her back with her arms and legs sprawled out then, staring at the ceiling, begrudgingly said “I’m up too.” As soon as the covers came off Jib had jumped off the bed and ran back out the door.
BOOM, BUMP, BOOM, BUMP, BOOM, BUMP, BOOM, BOOM, BUMP. The noise pressed on, over and over.
“What’s Jib so afraid of?” asked Evie, looking out her window.
“I don’t know.” said Charlotte, “It’s not like him to be so afraid.”
When Princess Evie saw what was outside she waved her arms at Charlotte and screamed, “Charlotte! Come see this! Come see!”
Princess Charlotte looked out the window of their bedroom, which looked over the courtyard and the Village of Charvlyn, and saw a circus! In the very centre of the Village of Charvlyn, where the village square would have been, stood two massive tents! One red and one blue, both with white stripes and flags. The tents were taller than the highest buildings in Charvlyn. Carts, wagons, donkey’s and mules were arriving in town, one by one, from a line that stretched out so long the princesses couldn’t see the end. The princesses squealed with excitement as they rushed to get ready. They had never gotten dressed so fast in their entire life! Princess Evie put on a blue dress with long white gloves and Princess Charlotte put on her favourite red dress. Princess Evie tucked her magic wand into one of her long white gloves. Princess Charlotte sheathed her magic bubble sword, Jaguar, into a secret sheath in her dress. All of Princess Charlotte’s dresses were now made, at Princess Charlotte’s request, to conceal Jaguar in its folds.
“It’s a shame I can’t build a secret pocket for my shield too.” said Charlotte, but Evie was already out the door; hair and teeth brushed. Princess Charlotte brushed her teeth and hair as fast as she could and chased after her sister down the hall.
The Great Hall was buzzing with activity. Everyone was getting ready to go and enjoy the circus. The Jester, Francis was doing back flips, juggling, telling jokes, and walking around on his hands. He tried hard to make the princesses smile but they were in too much of a rush to get to the circus. As they pushed through the people in the Great Hall Charlotte heard them talking about Francis.
“I haven’t seen Francis this busy in years” one person said.
“He must be afraid someone from the circus is going to catch King Andrew’s attention and take his job.” said another.
“I hear there are going to be fire breathers, sword swallowers and troll tamers!” said another.
“Did you hear that Evie!” said Princess Charlotte, excitedly, “There’s going to be a troll!”
“I wonder where they got a troll.” said Princess Evie.
“Who cares!” shouted Charlotte as she pulled Evie’s hand through the courtyard and into the stable.
“Let’s go Panana!” shouted Princess Charlotte as she burst through the stable door, scaring Panana half to death!
As the girls burst out of the stable on their magical animals Queen Mommy came running out of the castle.
“Don’t you want anything to eat?!” she shouted.
“No!” said Princess Charlotte, “We’ll get some food at the circus!”
The girls didn’t have to go far to get to the circus but when they got there they were glad they rode their horses. There were people everywhere. The streets were packed. Panana tucked her wings in tight and her and Curls pushed through the crowd. All the people from Bi’Vrin, Daddoo, Charvlyn, Ominerve, Abbeyvale, Onipilif, and maybe even people from beyond the wall had come to see the circus. The princesses’ tummies were rumbling because they hadn’t had breakfast yet. The circus and all the shopkeepers of Charvlyn had set up shops of all sorts around the big blue tent making it the biggest market the princesses had ever seen. As Princess Charlotte and Princess Evie moved through the crowd good smells filled their noses while people from every direction called for them to buy something. They stopped for a minute to watch some coal walkers and fire jugglers. They threw some gold coins into their baskets and pressed on through the crowd.
Princess Charlotte saw what she had been looking for, a noodle cart! She rode Panana up to the cart, a small boy asked Princess Charlotte what she would like.
“One order of glass noodles and two won ton dumplings!” said Charlotte, excitedly.
“And for your friend?” the little boy asked, looking at Princess Evie.
“Unicorn rolls!” Princess Evie said excitedly.
The little boy prepared their food. Princess Charlotte paid for it and took their food. As they moved through the crowd towards the entrance of the big blue tent they ate their noodles, dumplings and sushi rolls.
“What do you think is in the red tent?” asked Charlotte.
“I don’t know.” said Evie.
“I feel an adventure coming on.” said Princess Charlotte.
“Oh, no!” said Princess Evie.
The princesses paid for their tickets at the front gate of the big blue tent. When the princesses asked one of the guards what was inside the red tent he just barked that they were not to go near the red tent and that it was off limits. This just made Princess Evie and Princess Charlotte more curious. Just before going inside the big blue tent with everyone else Princess Charlotte slipped on her magic ring and told Panana and Curls to wait for them on the other side of the red tent.
Inside the blue tent was spectacular! There was thousands of seats around three rings that circled performers in the centre of the tent. There was a Ring Master in the centre ring dressed very fancy and carrying a long pointy baton. He was asking everyone to be seated. Princess Charlotte felt like she had seen him somewhere before but couldn’t quite remember.
The show started. Music from the band began to play. Acrobats swung in giant net swings from one platform to another. There were jugglers and elephant riders. The people of the Kingdom of Harrowsmith went crazy with laughter, excitement and applause. As the show went on many other fantastic acts followed. There was a magician and a hypnotist. Then finally, the moment the princesses had been waiting for arrived. Two elephants wheeled in a big wooden wagon with a large white sheet draped over it. When it was in the large centre ring the sheets came off and there stood a giant troll! He was twice as big as daddy, green skinned and had hair all over! The troll just looked sad.
“This is boring.” said Charlotte, “the troll isn’t doing anything.”
“What can he do?” asked Evie, “he’s stuck in a cage.”
The Ring Master, sensing the crowds dissatisfaction took his long pointy baton and stuck it in the cage at the troll. It poked the troll right in the bum and the troll flew into a rage!
“ROOOOOAAAAAAR!” screamed the troll, grabbing the bars of his cage, stomping, and shaking the cart.
Everyone was so startled they jumped in their seats. Even the elephants were scared! It wasn’t too long after that that the sheet was thrown back over the cage of the big troll and he was wheeled back out.
“That’s horrible.” said Princess Evie, “they hurt that poor troll just to get him to roar.”
“Makes me sick.” said Princess Charlotte.
The show finished off with a big song and dance number but the princesses weren’t interested. They sneaked out of the blue tent and ran around to the back of red tent. They looked both ways to make sure the coast was clear. Princess Evie lifted the bottom of the tent up. Princes Charlotte dove under and Princess Evie followed. What they found inside the red tent shocked them! All of the animals that performed in the circus were in cages, just like the troll had been. Princess Evie and Princess Charlotte walked around looking at all the sad, tired animals. Great cheers came from the crowd. Princess Charlotte heard performers coming and took cover behind some squawking birds. The tent door flapped open. The two elephants wheeled in the troll, followed by many performers and the Ring Master.
“Get ready for the next show!” yelled the Ring Master, “we’re back on in 1 hour!”
“Master,” said one of the performers.
“What!” snapped the Ring Master.
“Well, my monkey… he’s escaped.” said the the performer sheepishly.
“I’ll get you another one before show time! Leave me in peace.” said the Ring Master.
Once all the performers had left the Ring Master pulled bag out of a black trunk on the other side of the tent. The princesses watched intently as he produced a shiny brass knob from the bag and held it up.
“That’s it!” Princess Charlotte whispered.”He’s the man I saw through the door that Jib came through. He’s the man who makes the magic doors! He stole our goose-monkey!”
The Ring Master’s knob glowed brightly and a small green door appeared. The Ring Master turned the knob, opened the door, reached in and pulled out a monkey, kicking and shrieking.
“Well that explains why Jib was so scared this morning.” said Princess Evie, “that’s his former master! He’s a mean, mean, man!”
“He stole all these animals!” said Charlotte.
“We have to do something.” said Princess Evie.
“Let’s set them all free!” said Charlotte.
Just as they were about to start opening cages the princesses noticed the white sheet covering the troll. Princess Evie slowly pulled the sheet back until it slipped off the cage. Inside the troll was crying.
“Don’t cry.” said Princess Charlotte.
“Well you’re not going to let me out.” said the troll.
“Who said we’re not?” said Princess Evie.
“Well, aren’t you scared of me?” cried the troll.
“A little bit scared, yeah. What’s your name?” asked Princess Charlotte.
“My name is Chadwik… Chadwik von Grim. I’m not a mean troll. It’s just that when people poke me I get really mad and I rage!”
“If you promise to go home and not hurt anyone I’ll let you out.” said Princess Charlotte.
“Charlotte, no!” warned Princess Evie. “Trolls can’t be trusted.”
“Do you promise?” asked Princess Charlotte.
“I do.” said Chadwik von Grim.
Princess Charlotte opened the gate to Chadwik’s cage and Chadwik burst out. He grabbed the white sheet and ran for the door. Chadwik turned to the princesses.
“Come find me in the Secret Forest. I have a gift to thank you.” said Chadwik von Grim, “my home is under the big wooden bridge in the north part of the woods.”
With that the troll turned and ran out the door. People began to scream and run in every direction! Princess Evie and Princess Charlotte started to open the rest of the cages. They let out all the monkeys and the birds, they let out the lions and the tigers. Princess Charlotte put on her magic ring and told them all to run back home and never look back. Charlotte opened the black trunk and grabbed the sack with all of the Ring Master’s magic doorknobs just as the Ring Master burst back into the tent!
“What the devil is going on here!?” he screamed,
“Run, Evie!” said Princess Charlotte.
When the Ring Master saw Charlotte he instantly recognized her.
“YOU! You stole my puppy!” shouted the Ring Master, running for Charlotte.
Princess Charlotte was scared. She bolted through the cages into the back of the tent with Princess Evie right behind her. Realizing she held the bag of knobs in her hands the Ring Master shouted even louder “My knobs! STOP, THIEF!” Princess Charlotte pulled Jaguar from her dress and slashed a hole in the side of the tent before bursting into the daylight. Panana and Curls were waiting! They jumped on top of their magical animals in one motion.
“To Nanny’s!” yelled Charlotte.
Princess Evie touched Curls’ horn and Panana spread her wings and they ran and took to the sky for the secret forest.
When they came to the fork in the road at the edge of the forest the princesses stopped. Princess Evie wanted to go left to Nanny and Grandpa’s cottage. Princess Charlotte wanted to go right and find Chadwik’s bridge and claim her prize.
“Don’t even think about it.” said Princess Evie, “You can’t trust trolls!”
“I think he was nice. If he wanted to hurt us he would have hurt us already!” said Charlotte, heading down the path to the right.
Princess Evie did not want to let her sister go alone and she knew she couldn’t change Charlotte’s mind. Princess Charlotte was too stubborn. So Princess Evie pulled Curls to the right and followed her sister. On their way down the path, where the path got really hard to see, Princess Evie and Princess Charlotte saw the caves where they had been pushed in by Daniel McEvil. Before long the Princesses arrived at a very big, wooden bridge. The princesses walked out onto the wooden bridge. It creaked and cracked under their feet.
“ROAR!” screamed the troll, Chadwik von Grim, as he leaped from his hiding spot under the bridge!
The princesses jumped back!
“Stop! You told us to come get our prize.” said Princess Charlotte, “where is it?”
“Oh. Princesses… I didn’t expect you to come.” Chadwik von Grim said, devilishly “You’ll have to come into my cave to get it.”
“Charlotte, no.” said Princess Evie, practically shaking in her boots. “You can’t trust a troll!”
“Ok.” said Princess Charlotte. “Let’s go.”
Chadwik von Grim led the princesses around the side of the bridge and down the slope of very sharp rocks. They followed the troll underneath the wooden bridge. He pointed to a dark hole in the rock. The air coming from the hole was cold, damp and rotten.
“Charlotte…no.” Evie said nervously.
“I don’t think we can go in there!” said Princess Charlotte, turning to leave.
“It’s too late for that now! You’re trapped!” said Chadwik von Grim “and I haven’t had a good princess soup in ages!”
As the troll tried to grab them Princess Evie screamed and reached for her magic wand! She pointed her wand at his big troll hands and said shouted “prickles!” sharp thorns shot forth, stuck into Chadwik’s skin, and forced him to recoil. Before he could grab for them again Princess Charlotte poked him in the belly with Jaguar and then punched him on the nose. The big troll fell backwards and the princesses jumped over his big belly to safety. The scurried up the side of the bridge, got back on their magic animals and rode for Nanny and Grandpa’s cottage in the tree. On the way there princess Charlotte looked deep in thought. When she finally spoke she was very sorry.
“I guess you can’t trust trolls.” said Princess Charlotte, reaching a hand to Princess Evie.
“It’s okay Charlotte.” said Princess Evie, taking Charlotte’s hand. “Let’s never do that again.”
“Agreed.” said Princess Charlotte. “Are you going to tell Nanny?”
“I think it’s best if we keep it between us.” said Princess Evie. “No one knows and that’s the way it should stay.”
A familiar, loud, shrill caw rung out from the behind them in the path.
When the princesses turned to look, perched on a branch was the large, black raven.
The raven instantly reminded Princess Evie and Princess Charlotte of the last time they had seen the Ring Master’s doors.
“Hey! Where in the haystack is our goose monkey!?”