At the stroke of midnight, the closet door swung open. Bright moonlight streamed across the floor. Lazare’s squat body was silhouetted in the portal. Tiny, iridescent bodies danced on each of his broad shoulders.
“Do her first,” the troll whispered, pointing to the sleeping form of Carlotta.
Two faeries flew from Lazare to the sleeping woman: one the color of tofu, and clothed in violets; the other midnight shaded, wearing white roses. Together they sprinkled golden dust over Carlotta’s face. As it settled the dust twinkled across the dark room.
“Not too much, eh! You don’t want to put her in a coma! Then we’ll have to a fetch a prince to wake her up.” The faeries giggled: their laughter like the sound of tiny bells.
“Now do those other two but just enough so they can go across.”
The faeries split up: one took Henry, the other Glenda.
They soared back through the doorway.“Don’t be long!” their squeaky voices sang in unison.
Stepping around Henry, Lazare timidly shook Glenda. “Wake up child…”
Glenda opened her eyes… the first thing she saw was Lazare’s orange ringed eyes. She opened her mouth to scream and he clapped his big hand over her mouth. “None of that now! I’m not going to harm ye! I’ll take my hand away but no caterwauling. Fair? Nod if ye agree.”
Glenda nodded yes. Lazare lifted his hand, and Glenda had time to let out a yelp, before he put his hand back up again.
Lazare wiggled his purple brows in frustration, “Come on child, ye must cooperate! We’re taking a trip and we only have so much time fore ye Mum wakes!”
At this, Glenda glanced over at the sleeping Carlotta. No wonder Mama can sleep through this! He drugged her! She snatched Lazare’s hand down— more angry now than afraid.
“I’m not going anywhere with you! You’re a troll and everybody knows trolls eat children!”
Lazare looked amazed “Who’s been filling ye head with such nonsense? Trolls love children!”
“Yeah to eat!” On the floor beside them, Henry stirred in his slumber.
“That’s not true child! I love to play with children— I’ve been playing with such as ye for 300 years.”
Glenda gawked at him. “You’re 300 years old?”
“Aye,” Lazare grinned proudly, “and I don’t think I look a day over 200, if I do say so meself.”
At this Glenda took a good look at the troll. His violet eyes were honest almost innocent and she felt no danger from him: only calm and sweetness. Now she spied the open portal over his shoulder… Beyond it was a moonlit sky, with blossoming trees.
It looks wonderful! She pointed to the doorway. “Is that where we’re going?”
“Why of course child! Where else? Not wake ye brother for me.”
Glenda swung her legs to the floor, kneeled beside her brother and shook him. “Henry! Henry wake up!”
“Wha…” Henry murmured sleepily. He opened his eyes saw Lazarus and came full awake: clutching his sister. “It’s him, he’s back—!”
“It’s okay Henry, he won’t hurt us!”
“You crazy?! Look at him!” By now he scooted against the wall, and was tugging at his sister’s arm.
“I’m very handsome for a troll,” Lazare said indignantly. “Why in my village I’ll have
ye know, child, I always have a dance partner for the fair.”
Glenda giggled. “You see? I told ya! Come on!” She pulled him to his feet.
They followed Lazare through the door…
The children crossed over and stepped on to a cobbled path, bordered on either side by trees of flowering tulips, roses, orchids and daffodils. As they walked past the trees whispered: “Welcome little ones…” and Henry and Glenda’s faces stretched in goofy half-smiles.
Lazare led them to a beach with golden sands and an indigo ocean. Above three moons shined down upon rippling waves. A dark body broke the surface of the sea— they caught a glimpse of a dark female
body, braided hair and a spotted green tail before she plunged back into the water.
“Oh— a mermaid!” cried Glenda. She and Henry clapped their hands in delight. As they watched more mermen and women leaped out of the water headed skyward and dived back down.
At that moment a centaur galloped down the beach toward them: his hair hung in dreds about his shoulder. His upper body was light brown and muscular, his lower body ending in the mahogany colored hindquarters of a horse.
“Jules!” Lazare greeted him with a smile. “Come to join the fun?”
“Aye!” the centaur grinned back. “Who wants to ride first?” his voice was a melodious baritone.
“Me!” said Henry.
“Me first!” Glenda echoed.
“The lass shall be the first to ride,” Jules said. He lowered his body so that Glenda could mount his back, as Henry looked on wistfully.
But at that moment, five more centaurs clopped toward them— centaurs ranging in color from butter yellow to the darkest of midnight.
Henry climbed on to the back of a fair colored female centaur, Lazare on to another and they raced…
At length, the troll led them back into the forest, to a mushroom table with three toadstool chairs.
Lazare sat down with them and four faeries brought over a plate of the tiniest, most delicious cookies Glenda and Henry had ever tasted; along with a fruity, green liquid in tulip shaped cups. “Faery juice,” Lazare said with a wink.
No sooner then they’d finished eating, a murmur began throughout the trees: “Isis… Isis…Isis…”
And she appeared before them: a tall woman with brown sugar skin, close cropped hair, pointed ears and slanted eyes. She was dressed in a green jerkin and trousers made from leaves.
Lazare stood and inclined his head: “My queen…”
Queen Isis put a slender hand on his shoulder: “Lieutenant Lazare, you have done well!” Lazare grinned broadly.
The children gazed at her: speechless. Except for her ears and skin tone she was their mother’s twin!
Isis greeted them: “Princess Glenda… Prince Henry…” she shook their hands.
“Oh yes,” said Isis as if she could read their thoughts, “you have stout hearts and brave souls too! You will be great leaders in your world. And so it falls to all of faeryland to watch over you and keep you safe.”
“Lieutenant Jueles, their gifts please.”
Jueles appeared and handed Glenda and Henry each a volume of Black history, and another book with blank pages. The covers of the blank books were inscribed with the words:
“Write your own story.”
“Thank you Queen Isis,” breathed Henry.
“Yes, thank you, my Queen,” said Glenda.
“My pleasure… and now it’s time for you to go.
“Not, so soon!”
“But you must!” said Isis. “Your mother,” at this the corners of the queen’s lips twitched in smile, “will awake soon. And it would not do to have you missing.”
“Can we come back?” asked Glenda
“Please?” Henry pleaded.
“Of course!” Isis smiled. “I’m looking forward to it…”
Valjeanne Jeffers is a poet, writer and the author of the Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend, Immortal III: Stealer of Souls, The Switch II: Clockwork (includes The Switch 1 and 2) and Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies including 31 Days of Steamy Mocha, Genesis: An Anthology of Black Science Fiction, Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology, Griots II: Sisters of the Spear, Possibilities and Steamfunk! Anthology (in press). Her books are available at Eljay’s Used Books, Pittburgh PA; Nubian Bookstore, Morrow GA; The Wild Fig Bookstore, Lexington KY; Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
You can also preview or purchase Quinton Veal’s and my titles here