One cold, blustery day in the middle of winter, a little girl attended a magic show at her
school. All the kindergarteners and first and second graders were there. The magician,
an older man with grey-white hair wearing a fancy black suit and hat, did a number of
tricks for them. When he sawed the principal in half, then put her back together, she
looked startled and said "I have no idea how he did that!"
Then the magician brought out a tall cabinet and asked for volunteers. The little girl
held up her hand, and the magician pointed right at her. "You, little girl!" he said,
"Come up here and help me with this trick."
She got into the cabinet as he asked, thinking to her self "I know how this trick is done.
There's a little door in here where he'll let me go to hide." The magician closed the
door, said "Abracadabra!" and tapped the cabinet three times with his wand.
Suddenly the little girl was falling through the darkness... falling and falling. It was
cold, and she became frightened. Shortly the air became warmer and seemed to be blowing
upward, and then she hit bottom, enough to knock the wind out of her but not hard enough
to actually hurt her. She felt beneath her and found grass.
She sat up. The sun was rising, over the trees, and soon she could see the small clearing
she was lying in. A dirt road passed through it, seeming to start just beneath the rising sun
and running away from it into the dark woods.
The little girl got up, brushed off her pants and began walking, away from the sunrise.
She figured it didn't matter which way she went, since she was didn't know where she was
going, and the sun hurt her eyes.
Soon she walked into a broad, sunny meadow, where a white pony was eating the dewy grass.
She decided to make friends with it. At first, the pony seemed afraid of the little girl,
backing away and making snorting and nickering noises. She kept trying, though, talking
softly and holding out her hand until the pony let her pet it.
She petted the pony for a while, talking softly to it, but what she really wanted was to
ride it. When she thought it was calm enough, she tried to climb up. But even a
pony is big to a little girl, and it took her several tries to get on.
"How do I steer?" she said to herself. She tried tugging on the pony's ears, but it
tossed its head and snorted at her. So then she tried pulling on its mane, but it just
ignored her. At last she remembered a friend told her you could steer a horse with your
feet, so she tried that, and soon was riding bareback down the road.
It wasn't long until she rode out of the woods and found herself beside a large lake. To
her left a little ways away was a small house, looking somehow old-fashioned, while the
road passed to the right. She got off the pony to look around, and the pony went down
to the lake to get a drink. But for some reason she was afraid of the house, though she
didn't know why, so she decided to get back on the pony and ride away down the road. The
pony wouldn't cooperate, though, prancing away from her every time she tried to get close.
Then she saw a brightly-colored bird, red, blue, and green, fly across the lake and into
the open window of the house. "A parrot!" she said. "Maybe I'll look into the window of
the house." She crept up to the window, as quiet as she could be.
Through the window she saw a plainly furnished room, with a table and a few chairs
standing on a bare wooden floor. The parrot stood atop a stand beside a modest fireplace.
"What are you standing there for?" asked the parrot suddenly. "Come on in." The little
girl went to the front door and found it unlocked, so she went inside. To the left of the
entrance was the room she had seen, while to the right she saw a bedroom of some sort.
"I'm Bob," said the parrot as she entered the room. "What's your name?" She answered
him. "You look lost," he said, "and hungry. There's some bread and cheese and crackers
in the cabinet there... be a dear and get me some crackers, and you can have some bread
and cheese." The little girl did as she was told, and as she ate her bread and cheese
(separately, for she didn't like them folded together as a sandwich) she watched the
clever parrot eating the crackers.
Shortly she was thirsty. Looking around, she saw no sink, or any other fixtures that
might contain something to drink, so she walked out of the house and down to the lake for
a drink. The lakewater tasted funny, but it was wet and she was thirsty.
"Why didn't you tell me you were thirsty?" asked the parrot, as he landed on a stone
behind the girl. "You could have gotten a drink from the well."
"There's a well?" asked the girl.
"Behind the house," answered the bird. She found an old-fashioned hand-operated pump
there, with a metal dipper hanging from it, and so she quenched her thirst that way. The
water was very cold and tasted better than the lakewater.
Finally she walked back to the front of the house, and stood looking out over the lake.
It was midday. At length she asked the parrot, "What is this place?"
"This is the island of Eo," he replied, waving a wing around in a circle. "This is the
lake called Shandra, and over there beyond the house you can see where the river Eridane
flows out of the lake. The river snakes over most of the island, and you can go almost
anywhere on the island by following the river."
"Where does the road go?" asked the little girl, pointing to the sparsely gravelled track.
"Why, all over the island," replied the parrot. "That's Kingshighway, the only road on
the island. You can go anyplace on the island by following the road."
The little girl looked around sadly. "It's all very pretty, but I want to go home."
"It'll take a magician to do that," said the parrot, squawking. "The Sorceress Kestrel
could do it, I bet, and so could King Argent. But I don't trust either of them. They're
"Well, I can't just stay here. If I want to go home I'll have to start walking." She
looked at the pony, grazing by the lake. "Or maybe I'll ride..."
She rode for what she thought was a couple of hours; she didn't really know since she
didn't have a watch. She was very tired; after all, it had been after lunch when she fell
into Eo, but was just dawn when she landed. She had been awake a long time, and it was
all she could do not to lie down, bury her face in the pony's mane and sleep.
Somehow she stayed awake though. Bob's incessant babbling helped, though she was so tired
she didn't remember much of what he said. Soon she came in sight of a bridge, crossing a river.
The Eridane, she guessed, since the parrot said Eo only had one river. She was about to
ask him when a huge, misshapen manlike figure wearing only an old, dirty hide for clothing
stepped out of the brush at the foot of the bridge.
He had huge, muscular arms, and the muscles in his chest rippled, but his head was at
least two sizes too small and somewhat pointed. His pointed teeth, though, were truly frightful,
and as he began to smile they almost seemed to get bigger. Bob leaned over to the little
girls ear and whispered, "It's a troll!"
"Lunch!" cried the monster. "A bird for an appetizer, then a pony for an entree, then a
little girl for dessert!"
Additional material (outline)
- Backtrack to the house, but instead she finds a crossroad, where a man in black metal
armor riding a horse in black metal armor lowers his black metal lance at her. She flees,
but the armored horse begins to gain on her, so Bob the parrot flies back and distracts the
metal-clad steed. The rider is thrown, and in a fit of anger he draws his mace from his
belt and swats at the parrot. The girl is just rounding a corner out of sight when she
sees the parrot fall to the ground.
- Caught on the road between the bridge and the crossroad, between troll and black
knight, she waits, uncertain what to do next. She hears a rider approaching, and hides
with the pony in the trees; a young, gangly man in dark clothing on a dark horse thunders
by, his ponytail flying in the wind behind him.
- She wanders through the woods, leading the pony, because she is afraid to take to the
road again. After a while she finds herself on the bank of the river. She is very tired,
so she lies down in the moonlight in a mound of grass and sleeps.
- In the morning she sees a boat passing; the captain, Sailor Sam, sees her and heaves
to shore. He invites her aboard and feeds her, asking her what she's doing out alone;
when he hears her story he tells her he's making a delivery to Kestrel, and invites her to
ride along. He has a shipmate, Sailor Bill, who so far has not left the pilothouse. The
boat is strangely designed, having a pilothouse with a mast atop it, bearing a single