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Dara Makes A Deal
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Tomorrow would be Dara's first day at the new school.
"Here's the deal," she said, "let me skip this one time and I'll do all the cooking for a week."
Mother laughed. "You and your deals Dara."
Dara walked to the Book Coddler, a used bookstore on the corner.
"Hmmm, looks dark in there."
Dara pushed on the door, it creaked open; candles burned in the back.
She saw a bent-over man rushing across the room and heard humming.
"Over here," he said, "the power is out."
Dara took four steps and fell through the floor.
She landed in a pile of hay on snow-covered ground; a nearby fire provided much needed warmth.
"Where am I? Why am I in a cage? Hey!"
The roof of the cage clanged shut; shackles snapped around her ankles.
Dara heard children crying out.
"What is going on?"
The commotion attracted the creature's attention.
"I am Chafta, Chief of the Troll Patrol."
Trembling, she looked up at him, "How did I get here?"
The troll showed a stone to Dara, covered in writing.
"Decipher this and tell me where the treasure is."
Dara stared at the stone.
The troll raised his voice,
"Fail and you will clean caves for the rest of your days!"
Dara enjoyed learning new words.
"Let me study the stone, okay? I am good at decoding messages."
She hoped he believed her.
"If I do it, you have to let all of us go, deal?"
"Deal, do your decoding before the fire goes out."
The troll handed Dara the stone and squatted on a stump.
The guards kept watch over the kids, locked in a hut, who had already tried in vain to translate the inscription.
'What am I doing?' Dara wondered, 'I have no idea what these etchings are or what they mean.'
'She is clueless like all the rest' thought the troll; 'why did I think this one was special?'
After a while, the chief dozed off.
Dara noticed something glistening in the moonlight. She tied her tennis shoes together and attached her belt. She swung her shoes between the bars, grabbed hold of the object, and dragged it in.
"What is this, a unicorn horn?"
With each snort from the snoring troll, Dara sawed through the wooden slats. Before long, she was able to squeeze through a small opening.
She stumbled along, chains clanking, searching for a place to hide.
"Free us please," the children pleaded.
"Shh, the guards will hear you." said Dara.
"Little girl!" the troll howled, "Stop you cannot escape!"
"Take one of his toboggans," said a girl.
"Straight ahead," said a boy.
Dara put the lucky charm in her pocket, hopped on a sled, and slid down the mountain trail.
A fairy met her at the bottom.
"My name is Fe'ela, the Snowflake Fairy."
"Can you help me get out of here?"
"There is no way out, the trolls are always patrolling."
Fe'ela held Dara's hands and said, "Trolls are trouble - terrible, terrible trouble."
She explained that the troll recently stole the stone from a Fairy vault, hidden for hundreds of years, and that the troll was obsessed with the idea that the writing revealed the location of long lost riches.
"He knows I can't read the stone, what will he do to me?"
"Because you tried to escape, he will want to make an example of you in front of everybody. We need a plan."
"What language is the writing?"
"We believe the writing is ancient Fairylander. You don't need to know the words dear you simply need to feel them; only then can meaning come."
Tears streamed down Dara's face.
"Do not worry," said Fe'ela, "I know you can do it, remember to look for me."
Torches, held high by trolls, lit the night.
The fairies gathered round, hoping to understand this puzzle from the past.
The imprisoned children were also present.
With drums pounding like thunder, Chief Chafta and the Troll Patrol marched in, humming in unison and giving the crowd the creeps.
The trolls surrounded the stage, except for the chief, who stood directly behind Dara.
"You broke the rules," said the troll, "and public shame is your punishment."
Dara really felt her nerves now.
"Here," he said offering her the stone. "Good luck, my cave is very dirty.
Ha ha ha!"
Dara attempted to steady herself, she moved her lips but nothing came out.
What is wrong with me?
Dara found Fe'ela smiling at her.
Suddenly the symbols sparkled, like snowflakes in the sun.
"Dig deeper," whispered Dara, "Feel the words, breathe."
She cupped the unicorn horn in her hand and began; "olev...olev si lal."
"Yes! Yes!" said Fe'ela, "keep going!"
"Shut up, fairy!" said the chief.
"Focus!" said Fe'ela.
Encouraged, the skittish fairies scooted forward.
Dara continued: "ew ende ofdo. ew ende awret. ew ende rai. tbu iwtuoht olev, ti amsrett tno."
Dara took a deep breath and waited for a response.
The fairies sat still with blank faces.
'Oh no,' she thought, 'this is not good.'
Exhausted and expecting the worst, Dara dropped to her knees.
Upbeat sounds broke the silence. Flying in patterns, the excited fairies buzzed, cheered, and popped (a sound made with the tongue) their approval.
Fe'ela interpreted the message for the trolls and immediately their hard hearts softened.
Dara's shackles were removed and the guards returned the rest of the children safely to their homes.
Chief Chafta checked his cheeks, "What's this wet stuff?"
"Tears," said Dara "Don't worry, they're good for you."
He hung his head. "Truly, I am sorry."
As he ambled away the troll morphed into a bent-over man, who Dara now recognized. "It's him, the man from the bookstore."
"Wait!" she shouted, hurrying after him.
"I'll accept your apology on one condition."
The man chuckled. "Let me guess; you want a deal."
"I want an after-school job in your bookstore."
"Deal," he said.
They shook hands on it.
Fe'ela kissed Dara on the forehead. "You are a bold girl, my Dara dear, and a real dealmaker; your teachers better watch out."
"And if any of my teachers are Trolls, you will be the first to know."
*Can you break the Fairy code? Answers are as follows:
Love is all. We need food. We need water. We need air.
But without love, it matters not.
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