It started out as a nice sunny day in the grotto, just the way Becky liked it. She was in the middle of a field dancing, twirling, and pretending to be a fairy tale princess. But her dancing quickly stopped when she felt the ground shake. Becky looked in front of her and saw two giant green trolls that looked to be at least twenty feet tall talking to each other. She wasn’t sure if they had seen her so she turned around and started to run. But the little girl quickly felt a giant hand grab her and lift her into the air.
“Look what I found,” The first troll bragged.
“What is it?” The second one asked.
“Let me go!” Becky shouted.
“I think it’s the girl that’s been showing up,” The first one said, “I’m sure the chief will reward us for getting her.”
Becky continued to shout and pound her fists on the troll’s thumb as they took her to the troll cavern. She tried to get to her wand, but it was in her handbag which was trapped inside the giant’s hand. However, nobody knew that Bendo was hiding in some trees close to the meadow.
“I need to get Gretchen,” Bendo thought as he ran off.
The trolls arrived at a huge cave area that seemed to go on for miles. Becky continued to struggle to free herself, but the troll just held on even tighter.
“Chief Obgolen,” The first troll said as they entered a throne room, “we have brought you a prisoner.”
“What is it?” The chief asked.
“This,” The troll replied as he held Becky up to his chief.
“Is that the girl the other soldiers mentioned,” Chief Obgolen said.
“I think so,” The first one answered.
“You’re better let me go!” Becky shouted, “my friends will come and save me.”
“They’re magic isn’t strong in our caverns,” The chief bragged.
“She is very annoying,” The second troll teased.
“Just lock her in our dungeon,” Chief Obgolen said, “I’ll summon the dark king and let him decide her fate.”
“Got it,” The two underling trolls replied.
The two trolls brought Becky to a huge dungeon and locked her inside a giant birdcage that was hanging from the ceiling. The eight-year-old watched her captors walk out of the dungeon, laughing at their accomplishment.
“I bet they think I’m helpless,” Becky said to herself as she reached into her handbag and pulled out her wand, “but I have more tricks up my sleeve.”
The little girl lifted her right arm and used her magic to knock the lock off the cage. Then she pointed the want to herself and used it to float out of the birdcage and onto the ground.
“Now to find my way out of here,” Becky thought.
But escaping would be easier said than done. Becky wasn’t sure where to go since she remembered that there were a lot of twists and turns in the caverns. She also knew that her magic wouldn’t be strong enough to fight one troll, let alone a whole group of them. At that point, all the little girl could do was make her way carefully though the caves.
Becky walked out of the dungeon and found three other caves right in front of her.
“I think the left one is further from the chief’s cave,” She thought.
She walked as carefully and quietly as she could and made her way to the left cave. Inside were some giant chairs and stools; Becky figured the place could easily be a living room. The little girl made her way to the closest stool and was about to walk over to another one until a dark green troll wearing a brown shirt and pants came in from the other entrance.
“Oh no,” Becky thought, “what should I do? I don’t have enough energy to use magic. Do I hide here or try to run outside the cave?”
The eight-year-old gazed at the troll, and then at the entrance. It looked like the giant creature was going to be a while and it seemed to have its attention somewhere else; so, she figured her best option was to escape. The little girl looked toward the cave she came out of and started to dash out of the room. But she was quickly stopped by a large green hand that came down in front of her. She tried to turn around, but the troll’s fingers wrapped around her body.
“Not again!” Becky shouted as she found herself being lifted into the air, “put me down!”
Becky looked at the troll’s eyes and noticed that they seemed a little sad. Then she found herself placed down on one of the stools.
“I can’t do it,” The troll said.
“Do what?” Becky asked.
“I don’t want the Dark King to hurt any more grotto residents,” He replied.
“What do you mean?” Becky said.
“Chief Obgolen was going to turn you over to the Dark King,” The troll explained, “and I think the king’s going to do something worse than enslavement.”
“That’s terrible!” Becky exclaimed.
“I know,” The troll sadly replied, “I can’t help the chief or the king hurt anyone else. Just go and I’ll pretend I didn’t see you.”
“Wait!” Becky stated, “if you don’t want to be a part of this anymore, why are you staying here?”
“What choice do I have?” He said, “I’m a troll. All trolls serve the dark king.”
“You don’t have to serve him if you don’t want to,” Becky replied, “no one should be forced to do something they don’t want to do.”
“But the grotto will never accept a troll,” He added.
“They like me,” Becky said, “if you come with me, I’ll stick up for you and let them know that you’re on our side.”
“I guess that could work,” The troll replied, “you’ll really do that for me?”
“Of course,” Becky told him, “everyone deserves a chance. In fact, I think I know a way that we can help each other.”
“What do you mean?” The troll asked.
“First capture me again,” she replied.
The troll felt a little confused, but he did what the eight-year-old suggested and grabbed her.
“Is that too tight?” He asked.
“No,” Becky told him.
“So why do you want me to capture you?” The troll wondered.
“I don’t know my way around the caves and there are numerous trolls here, so I’d probably just get kidnapped again” Becky explained, “but if it looks like you’ve caught me; the other trolls will think that you’re just taking me to the dungeons. But you can really sneak me out of the cave and into the grotto. Then I will introduce you to the others and convince them to let you stay.”
“Are you sure it will work,” He said, “what if I come across my allies?”
“I’ll just pretend to scream for help to make it look more convincing,” She answered, “and I’m sure all of the grotto residents will accept you when I tell them that you helped me escape.”
“Maybe it will work,” He replied, “thank you.”
“Becky,” The little girl said, “my name’s Becky. All friends tell each other their names: what’s yours?”
“Dronbar,” The troll replied as he started to walk, “and I’ve never had a friend before.”
“Really?” Becky gasped.
“Yes,” Dronbar explained, “the Dark King said that friendship is worthless and we should see each other as comrades.”
Becky couldn’t help but feel sad for her new friend. She hoped that her plan would work and he would be able to meet her friends in the grotto. The eight-year-old couldn’t help but look at him as he carried her though the cavern.
“Hey Dronbar,” A voice called out.
Dronbar turned around and saw a light green female troll walking toward him.
“Are you actually doing something useful?” She continued.
“Yes,” Dronbar replied.
“Let go of me!” Becky shouted.
“Is that the prisoner?” The troll asked.
“Yes,” Dronbar said, “I caught her escaping.”
“So you are doing something important,” She teased, “maybe you’re not such a failure after all.”
The other troll walked away while Dronbar continued to make his way out of the cave.
“That was rude,” Becky stated.
“I know,” Dronbar said, “but that is the way a lot of the higher ranked trolls are. They’re always fighting to see which one will be the next chief.”
“Why doesn’t the chief stop it?” Becky asked.
“He doesn’t want to,” Dronbar answered, “he feels that it will make the trolls look good in front of the Dark King. I don’t want to be involved in this feud, but I don’t have a choice.”
“How come?” Becky said.
“Chief Obgolen is my father,” Dronbar explained, “so I’m one of the higher ups to become the next chief. I feel that all it’s done is make the other trolls hate me.”
“So, is that why you don’t want to be a nightmare?” Becky asked.
“Not exactly,” Dronbar replied, “I know it’s kind of silly, but I think nature is beautiful.”
“It’s not silly, I think the same way,” She explained.
“It’s just that I’m a troll,” He said, “we’re not allowed to act that way.”
“Then be who you want to be,” Becky told him, “others shouldn’t tell you how to act as long as you’re a good person.”
Then Becky found herself lifted higher until she was close to Dronbar’s smiling face.
“Thanks Becky,” He said, “I’m really glad I decided to help you.”
“Your welcome,” Becky replied.
“I thought I heard something,” A gruff voice stated.
A yellow troll came from around the corner and spotted them. Becky pretended to struggle as soon as she saw the enemy troll.
“What’s going on?” He demanded.
“I caught the prisoner escaping,” Dronbar replied.
“Tell you what,” The troll slyly said, “since you are the prince, why don’t I take the prisoner back to her cage and you can do your own thing.”
“No,” Dronbar stated, “as the next in line, I should return her.”
“I’m only doing you a favour,” The other troll implied.
“Or are you trying to look good in front of my father?” Dronbar asked.
“Fine,” The enemy troll grumbled as he stormed off.
“Great job,” Becky cheered.
“Sometimes you must be tough,” Dronbar replied, “especially when everyone wants to be the chief.”
Dronbar continued to move until they finally made their way to the end of the cavern. Becky felt a little blinded by the sunlight at first, but her blue eyes quickly adjusted to it.
“We’re out of the caves, but we’re still in troll territory,” Dronbar explained, “so I should still hold on to you for now. I hope you don’t mind?”
“It’s no problem,” Becky said, “and it’s nice to see the Grotto from this high up.”
“It does look nice,” Dronbar agreed.
“Thank you for helping me,” Becky told him.
“It’s no problem,” Dronbar replied, “I’m just glad that I can finally help somebody instead of seeing them get hurt. Although I haven’t seen an animal like you before. Are you that girl the Dark King is interested in?”
“Yes, I am,” Becky answered, “do you know why he’s wants me?”
“I’m not sure myself,” Dronbar explained, “I’ve never seen him and only get reports from the Chief. Plus, I think you are pretty.”
“Thank you,” Becky said as she started to blush, “I think you’re cool.”
“But it’s warm outside,” Dronbar noted.
“Oh sorry,” Becky sheepishly replied, “I mean that you’re great.”
“Thanks,” Dronbar said, “I’m glad we’re friends.”
“Me too,” Becky agreed.
The two continued through the meadows and found a forest with trees that were even taller than Dronbar; along with a dark green troll and an red troll. He tried to sneak by them, but they soon spotted him.
“Hey Dronbar,” The troll called out, “what are you doing here? And isn’t that that prisoner?”
“I’m just delivering her to the Dark King personally,” Dronbar lied.
“Help me!” Becky screamed, “let me go! Save me!”
“Put the girl down,” a voice demanded.
The trolls were soon joined by Gretchen and an army of her students.
“And what are you going to do,” The red troll taunted as he moved toward them.
Gretchen took her wand out and fired a magical blast that knocked the evil troll back. The green troll joined his ally and swiped at Gretchen. She dodged his attack and some of her students used their wands to attack it. Dronbar stared to lower Becky to the ground, but was hit by various magical blasts from the students.
“Wait,” She called out, “Dronbar is my friend; you don’t have to do this.”
But she was too far away for the others to hear them. The good troll placed the little girl on the ground and released her from his grasp. Becky quickly reached into her handbag and pulled out the wand. She held it up and created a forcefield in front of Dronbar to protect him from the magical bolts. The students were very confused by Becky’s actions. The eight-year-old walked her friends to explain, only for the red troll to stop her. He lowered his hand to grab her, but Dronbar swatted it way.
“What’s going on?” The red troll demanded.
“Becky is my friend and I won’t let you hurt her!” Dronbar explained.
“You’re siding with grotto scum,” The troll sneered.
“She’s a better friend than all of you,” Dronbar replied.
“I don’t care what you do Dronbar, now I won’t get in trouble for doing this,” The red troll said as he punched Dronbar in the face.
“Leave him alone!” Becky demanded as she raised her want and fired a magical blast that knocked the red troll back. But she started to feel a little weak and fell to the ground, yet she was still conscious.
The two trolls started to become overpowered by Gretchen and her students and retreated to the cavern. Gretchen and the students ran over to Becky to check on her. Dronbar looked very concerned for his new friend.
“Don’t worry,” Gretchen said, “she just used a lot of magic. She only needs to rest for a while.”
“Is what the troll said true?” One student asked, “are you really friends?”
“Yes,” Becky answered, “Dronbar helped me escape from the trolls’ cave.”
“But we heard you calling for help,” Another student added.
“I was only pretending,” Becky explained, “I needed to make the other trolls think that Dronbar captured me so we could sneak out.”
“Thank you, Mr. Dronbar,” Gretchen said as she picked up Becky.
“It’s no problem,” Dronbar stated.
“I said that he could live in the Grotto if he helped me,” Becky said to Gretchen, “I figured it would be fine with all of you.”
“That’s fine with me,” Gretchen replied, “he did us all a great service.”
The students who couldn’t fly used their wands to float up to Dronbar’s face while those that could fly followed them.
“You know, I always wanted to have a troll as a friend,” One student said.
“Me too,” Another one added, “I’m glad that there’s one on our side.”
Gretchen started to fly back to her tree while Becky smiled as she watched Dronbar make some more friends. Then the little girl started to doze off.
Becky woke up to find herself in Gretchen’s bed.
“Good, you’re awake,” Gretchen said.
“How along was I asleep for?” Becky asked as she sat up.
“Only a few minutes,” Gretchen replied, “luckily you didn’t use too much magic.”
“I know you warned me about that,” Becky stated, “but I just had to help Dronbar.”
“It’s fine,” Gretchen said, “and I think it’s time to tell you something very important.”
“What’s that?” Becky wondered.
“I figured there was something special about you when you first came here,” The Guardian explained, “you have helped many people since you arrived, but today you did an incredible thing: you brought a nightmare to our side. Nobody has ever been able to do that since the Dark King arrived. There has been a prophecy that a human child would come and lead the Grotto residents to defeat the Dark King; and I believe that child is you Becky. I didn’t want to tell you this because the task would put a lot of pressure on a person, especially somebody so young and small. But seeing you stand up for Dronbar has convinced me that you are ready for this Becky.”
“Really,” Becky said in amazement.
“But I won’t force you to do anything you don’t want to do,” Gretchen added, “since helping us against the Dark King is a huge job for anybody.”
“I will,” Becky stated, “I can’t let him enslave anybody.”
“That’s great,” Gretchen said as she hugged Becky, “we can start your advanced magic lessons tomorrow.”
“Yeah,” Becky thought, “I think it’s time to head home. Do I have enough magic to open the portal?”
“You should,” The Guardian replied, “and I have summoned a horse to take you there.”
The eight-year-old climbed out of bed and she and Gretchen walked out of the Library where there was a white horse waiting for them. Gretchen lifted Becky onto the horse’s back and it galloped back to the portal. Becky couldn’t help but think about what Gretchen had told her and all the ways that she could help the Secret Grotto.