If this is your first time reading this story, you should start here. The last installment of the story Tribba danced with the butterfly fairies who followed her home. Today’s installment picks up there.
The day dawned with bright splashes of orange, pink, and purple tinting the horizon. Tribba rose early, her anxiety over the day’s happenings revealed through her cooking. When Larss and Edgar arose, she had already cleaned the kitchen and set the table. Their eyes widened at the sight of the table filled with food. She had fried eggs, sliced a still-warm-from-the-oven loaf of bread, bottled honey, deseeded grapes from her small vineyard, ground corn and made porridge with it, and, Larss favorite, perfectly crisped slices of bacon decorated two plates in the center of the table.
“Frosh, Tribba!” Larss exclaimed. “You aren’t nervous at all!”
At the sound of his voice, Tribba turned. Larss chuckled softly at the sight of her. She had flour streaked in her hair and dotted along her face. He kissed her gently before he sat at the table. Edgar smiled and joined Larss.
“It’s good that she’s not nervous. I am nervous enough for both of us!” Edgar said.
“Give her a minute,” Larss answered, chuckling at Edgar.
Tribba sat down in a huff. A look of defeat marred her countenance. A single tear made a trail through the flour on her face. A quiet wail emerged from her throat. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, slowly before exhaling quickly. She clasped her hands together under her chin as if in prayer.
“Are you all right, Tribba?” Edgar asked, concern growing on his face like a five o’clock shadow. Larss patted Edgar’s hand gently.
“She is. She only cooks like this when she’s nervous,” he said. His voice had a peaceful ring to it and Edgar relaxed a little. “It’s only natural to be nervous today. Even when it’s not our livelihood at stake, she’s nervous. She’s always worried for the dwarf in the game. Today, based on the amount of bacon on the table, she is doubly worried.”
“There’s a lot at stake! Is it too late to call it all off?” Tribba said. Edgar groaned. This was not what he wanted to hear. Larss chuckled again and patted Edgar’s hand in reassurance again.
“This is quite normal, too. She always asks if it’s too late to call it off. Don’t worry. We both have full faith in you.” Larss patted Edgar’s shoulder gruffly causing Edgar to drop his fork. The cacophony of the fork clattering to the floor brought Tribba out of her reverie and she smiled at Edgar.
“How do you feel?” she asked him.
He took a deep breath and bent down to retrieve his fork. “Like a champion?” he asked as the color rose on his cheeks.
“Of course!” Tribba cheered. “You are a champion! I know you can do this.” She pushed away from the table and stood. “I have something for you.”
Larss and Edgar looked at each other quizzically as Tribba exited through the back door. They didn’t have to wait long, however, as she reentered the room within moments holding a blue butterfly with black tipped wings. The butterfly rested on the tip of her index finger and fluttered its wings gently. She rejoined the men at the table, standing next to Edgar and placed the butterfly on the tip of Edgar’s nose. Edgar’s eyes crossed and he realized that it was not a butterfly but a fairy.
“But how?” Edgar stammered.
Larss answered for Tribba. “She was rescued by the fairies, remember? I, too, am impressed that she has enlisted the aid of the butterfly fairies. They are usually reclusive and aloof, hence why people don’t believe they exist anymore.” Larss set his fork down and took a closer look at the fairy on Edgar’s nose. “Tribba, dear, how on earth did you find the butterflies?”
Tribba’s mouth turned up in a secret smile. “I had a little help. When I went into the woods yesterday, you knew I was going to talk to the fairies. King Rupert himself gave me audience and told me a story about the fall of a mighty giant named Brom by the hands of a small shepherd boy and a sling. Then he whistled and the butterflies danced around me.” She moved to the window and pulled the curtain aside. “The rest is history,” she said, pointing to the flock of multi-colored butterflies resting in her flower garden. Both Larss and Edgar gasped at the beauty before them.
“How can they help me? Better yet, why would they help me?” Edgar asked before stuffing his mouth full of bread.
“Honestly, I’m not sure how they can help, I just know they can, and they will. There’s no rule against it and if we are clever we can find a game that includes them and the elves will be lost. They don’t care for the elves any more than I do.” Tribba answered.
“Now, Tribba, don’t tell Edgar falsehoods to raise his hopes,” Larss chided. “Tribba is right in that the butterfly fairies care nothing for the elves, but they also care nothing for any other race but their own. She also didn’t tell you that while fairies can fall on both sides of good and evil, they are, by nature, neutral creatures. This means that should you choose a game that involves them, they may be partial to you, but they have to work with the elves, too. Choose games that will be to your advantage. You will get a choice each time and you won’t know which one will be your choice. There are always three choices, and the decision is made by a panel of judges that consists of both elves and dwarves.” Larss paused as he chewed his bacon and swallowed it. His fork sunk hungrily into his eggs as he continued eating. Edgar waited with his own mouth full of food.
“What does the council do? Do they decide who wins the games?” Edgar asked between bites.
Tribba answered. “No one knows how much power the panel has. It is my belief that the dwarves pick once, the elves pick once, then they put three games inside a bright orange hat and draw one. As for deciding who wins, it’s always been the elves. There was never a doubt. The elves have always been better at the games than the dwarves.” She cupped her hand under Edgar’s chin and stared into his eyes. “Until today. Today marks the first day in changing history!”
Larss raised his glass of goat’s milk in a toast. “Here, here! To Edgar, the small and slight, who will best the big and mighty elf in battle today!”
Three cups clinked and Edgar couldn’t stop smiling. Perhaps, after all, today would be a good day. Perhaps, after all, today would prove Edgar could accomplish something. Perhaps, after all, today would be the day Edgar went from being a boy to becoming a man.
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