The Sea of Trolls, стр. 1
THE SEA OF TROLLS
To Harold, as always,
for finding Mimir’s Well
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Jack: Age eleven at the beginning of the book
Lucy: Jack’s sister; age five at the beginning of the book
Mother: Jack and Lucy’s mother; a wise woman
Father: Giles Crookleg; Jack and Lucy’s father
The Bard: A druid from Ireland; also known as Dragon Tongue
Allyson: Thorgil’s mother
Colin: The blacksmith’s son
Brother Aiden: A monk from the Holy Isle
Olaf One-Brow: Leader of the Queen’s Berserkers
Sven the Vengeful: Member of Olaf’s crew
Eric Pretty-Face: Member of Olaf’s crew
Eric the Rash: Member of Olaf’s crew; afraid of the dark
Eric Broad-Shoulders: Member of Olaf’s crew; afraid of the dark
Rune: A skald who can no longer sing
Thorgil: A berserker wannabe; age twelve
Thorgrim: Thorgil’s father; a famous berserker
Egil Long-Spear: Captain of a ship, not a berserker
Gizur Thumb-Crusher: Village headman; an oath-breaker
Magnus the Mauler: Village headman
Einar the Ear-Hoarder: Village headman; likes to collect ears
Heide: Olaf’s chief wife; a wise woman from Finnmark
Dotti and Lotti: Olaf’s junior wives
Skakki: Heide and Olaf’s son; age sixteen
Thorir: Thorgil’s brother
Hrothgar: King of the Golden Hall
Beowulf: A famous warrior
Ivar the Boneless: Olaf’s king; married to Frith Half-Troll
Tree Foot: Friend of Eric Pretty-Face; leg bitten off by a troll
Pig Face, Dirty Pants, Thick Legs, Lump, and She-Lump: Thralls
Hilda: Olaf and Lotti’s daughter
Bold Heart: A noble crow
Cloud Mane: A horse whose sire came from Elfland
Maeve: An Irish wolfhound
Slasher, Wolf Bane, Hel Hag, and Shreddie: Maeve’s puppies
Golden Bristles: A troll-boar with a filthy disposition
Freya’s Cats: Nine enormous troll-cats with beautiful red-gold fur
The Snowy Owls: A family of four Jotunheim owls
The Dragon: A mother with a nest of dragonlets
The Capercaillie: A turkey-size grouse with ten speckled chicks
Ratatosk: Gossip-bearing squirrel that runs up and down Yggdrassil
The Mountain Queen: Glamdis; ruler of Jotunheim
Fonn: The Mountain Queen’s daughter; speaks to humans
Forath: The Mountain Queen’s daughter; speaks to whales
Bolthorn: Fonn and Forath’s father; the Mountain Queen’s chief consort
Frith Half-Troll: A shape-shifter; daughter of the Mountain Queen and an unknown human; wife of Ivar the Boneless
Frothi: Frith’s sister; a shape-shifter; mother of Grendel
Grendel: A monster; his father was an ogre
The Norns: Nobody knows exactly what Norns are, but they’re very powerful
GATHERING THE LAMBS
Jack woke before dawn and listened to the cold February wind lash the walls of the house. He sighed. It was going to be another rotten day. He stared up at the rafters, savoring the last minutes of warmth. He was bundled in a cocoon of wool blankets over a bed of dried heather. The floor was deep, below the level of the ground. The wind that found its way under the door passed over his head.
It was a good house, with oak pillars planted the root end up to keep damp from rising from the ground. Jack had watched Father build it when he was seven. Father had thought a child couldn’t understand such a complicated task, but Jack had. He’d paid close attention and thought he could build a house even now, four years later. Jack forgot very little of what he saw.
At the far end of the long room Jack could see Mother stir up the cooking fire. The light danced on the loft. It was warmer up there, but smoky. His parents and sister slept up there. Jack preferred the fresh air near the door.
Mother scattered oats into boiling water and stirred the porridge vigorously. She added honey—Jack could smell it. A poker glowed in the coals to heat the cups of cider Mother lined up on a shelf.
“It’s so cold,” complained Lucy from the loft. “Can’t I have breakfast in bed?”
“A princess isn’t afraid of a little thing like cold,” said Father.
“Princesses live in castles,” Lucy pointed out.
“Ah, but that isn’t true of lostprincesses.”
“Don’t encourage her,” said Mother.
“Am I really lost, Father?” said Lucy. Jack knew she loved this story.
“Not for long. You were found by us,” Father said fondly.
“I was lying under a rose tree with a gold coin in my hand.”
“You were born in this house, not in some airy-fairy castle,” Mother snapped. She plunged the hot poker into the first mug of cider. Jack could smell the rich tang of apples. He knew Lucy wouldn’t listen to Mother. It was far more interesting to be a lost princess than a farmer’s brat. The gold coin was real, though. Father had found it while digging in the garden. It showed the head of a man, who Father said was a Roman king.
“Someday a troop of knights will come riding by,” Lucy said.
“They’ve been searching for you ever since the trolls carried you off,” said Father. “The trolls were going to eat you, dearest—but being trolls, they started fighting among themselves.”
“‘Shall we roast her with an apple in her mouth?’” said Lucy, repeating the often-told tale. “‘Or shall we make her into a pie?’”
“‘Pie! Pie!’ roared half the trolls,” said Father. “The other half shouted for roast baby. They began to fight, and soon they had knocked each other senseless. That’s when I came by and found you.”
“Someday the knights will knock at our door,” said Lucy. “They’ll bow to me and say, ‘Come and be our queen.’”
“Why do you fill her up with this nonsense?” Mother said.
“What’s the harm in it?” said Father.
Jack knew Mother had lost two babies before he was born and two afterward. She thought she would never have another, but to everyone’s surprise, she produced this last, perfect child.
Lucy had golden hair that made you think of sunlight. She had eyes the color of violets that grew in the deep forest. She was light as thistledown, merry as a lark. And because, at age five, she had always been loved, she loved everyone back. In spite of everything, Jack couldn’t dislike her.
Right now she was being carried down the ladder by Father. She was too big for it. Jack could see pain flit across his father’s face as he stepped clumsily from one rung to the next. But he also saw joy—joy that was rarely present when Giles Crookleg looked at his son Jack.
Jack threw back the covers and stood up, stretching to let the new day flow into his body. Like everyone else, he slept in his clothes so there was no problem getting dressed.