Hilda, book 11. Rock ‘n’ Troll, chapter 1

Dear reader,

For your enjoyment, and to make the wait a bit easier (I hope), please step over the link and sample the first chapter of Rock ‘n’ Troll.

1. Fix-it chappies

“Why are you sitting on the bed like that?” William had been looking for Hilda and found her in their bedroom where she sat staring at the wardrobe with an unfamiliar expression of slight despair.

“Because I tried standing on the floor like that and it became boring,” Hilda replied.

“I see. And what if sitting becomes boring?”

“Then I’ll probably lie down. But you’re missing the point, wizard.”

“As usual,” William agreed, “but that is what makes living with you so interesting.”

“It does, doesn’t it?”

William sat down next to Hilda and stared at the wardrobe but the point remained missing. “It also drives me up the wall at times, but that’s okay.”

“It does?” Hilda was not used to something like that from her wizard. “Any wall in particular or just any wall close to you?”

“Any wall that doesn’t have much stuff on it,” William elaborated.

“Oh. You must have a hard time in our house then,” Hilda said as she turned her attention back to her collection of clothes, shaking her head. She did not like what she saw and no amount of staring at it had so far helped the situation. The problem was that she saw no way out of it.

“Is there a problem with the wardrobe?” William tried to find out what his witch was pondering.

“Yes. But it’s not the thing itself of course,” was the response.

“Of course,” William agreed in an obvious ignorance that did not sit well with him. “And you are not going to tell me what it is, right? The problem is too obvious to need pointing out.”

“Exactly.” Hilda sighed.

Then it hit William. “You have nothing to wear.” After all, underneath that witchy surface Hilda was a woman, and no matter how many dresses and robes were crammed in the wardrobe, all those were part of nothing. Before Hilda could respond he added: “So what are we going to do about that?”

The wicked witch looked at her wizard. “You surprise me.”

“Makes for a nice change,” William shrugged, secretly proud of himself. “So. Do we go to the village dressmaker? Or do you have a better place to look for something nice?”

“I don’t wear nice, wizard. I wear comfortable and witchy. Mostly witchy, but definitely comfortable.”

“And purple.”

“Yes. Purple. And red and black. Usually the dressmaker in the village has a good eye for me, so we could go there.” Hilda got up from the bed and looked at her wizard. “You really surprise me.” As a reward William got a kiss on his cheek.

The cats were gathered (which they did not approve of but they had hardly a say in the matter) and soon the four were on their way to the village. As the weather was rather Springy, just as the time of year was, the magicals took their time to enjoy the flight and the environment that was working on coming to bloom again after the winter.

As they entered the village, by broom of course, they slowed down to look at the houses in the streets. Many of them had sustained extensive damage from the heavy snowfall in the winter and the witch knew that not everyone was able to get their house patched up again, not even with the help of their neighbours. “I think we should help a bit here and there, William,” Hilda said as she landed her broom and hushed Grim off it. William stopped too, but let Obsi hop on his shoulder.

They looked at the nearest house which had a broken window and a sagging roof. Hilda walked to the door and knocked on it. “Hey, in there.”

It took a while for a woman with a baby on her arm to come outside. The child looked at the witch and squealed. “Oh, Grimhilda!” said the woman. “What can I do for you?”

“Nothing, except tell me what you need fixed around your house,” the witch explained her knocking. “We were here anyway so we thought we could help a few people.” Hilda turned to William. “She lives here alone. Her husband died several years ago.”

William nodded as he looked at the baby. Hilda noticed what he was thinking. “Don’t look like that, wizard. You don’t have to be married to get children.” Then she turned to the woman again. “So, what needs fixing?”

The woman started listing the things that desperately needed maintenance until William interrupted her. “Perhaps you should tell us what doesn’t need fixing. That might be quicker.”

“Let’s start with the window, the roof, the table and chairs and the bathtub, wizard,” Hilda closed the discussion and stepped into the house without further comments. Grimalkin rushed in after the witch, if only to get away from the still dirty and cold street. William grinned and went inside too. There was no good in waiting for an invitation from the witch – that would never come and he’d never hear the end of it.

First they went up to the roof, over a few sets of stairs that needed serious attention before going up them, so that was fixed first. In the attic it was clear that the roof had become so heavy with snow that it had simply snapped a few supporting beams that had been quite rotten even before they broke. By applying some clever magic Hilda and William raised the roof and fixed the big beams so the attic was probably better than new. While William took a look at the bathtub, which turned out to be half a barrel with some bits of wood missing, Hilda took care of the shabby table and fixed the chairs so people could sit again without fearing for their lives.

The woman who lived in the house didn’t know what to say except several dozen thank you’s as she saw everything being fixed. Before they left, Hilda advised the woman to see to it that her child’s father started taking proper care of it and its mother. “And if he doesn’t want to, tell him that we’ll pay him a visit to convince him. You know where to find me.” The woman seemed to find courage in those words and promised she’d do that.

Their next stop was the dressmaker. The shop looked how it always did, tidy and organised. It took Hilda a moment and a deep breath before she went in. The magicals and their cats were greeted by the couple who owned and ran the shop. “Zee honourable Grimhilda! And her veezard! Velcome to our humble business. How can vee serve you?”

William grinned openly at the German-sounding welcome as he sensed how Hilda hated that greeting.

“It’s going to surprise you but I need a new dress,” Hilda said. The handiwork these people delivered was amazing, but their level of ineptitude to understand people in general and magicals in particular was a constant source of amazement. And worry. Hilda braced herself for the next question and was not disappointed.

“Any particular colour?”

The witch crossed her arms over her chest and just stared at the couple. It took a while before the man nodded. “I think the honourable witch wants something in the colours she is wearing now, Sieglinde.”

“But it’s all red and black and purple,” Sieglinde half-protested, half-complained. “As usual.”

“I’m a very usual witch,” Hilda pointed out, to William’s surprise. There was not much about her one could call usual. The tailors seemed oblivious to that however and started showing drawings of dresses, samples of colours and all that comes with visiting such an establishment.

William was rapidly less fascinated by the goings-on and rummaged through the piles of fabric and half-finished pieces of clothing. The wizard grinned when he found something that looked like yellow boxer shorts with blue polka-dots. He pulled it over his head like a wig and walked back to Hilda. “What do you think of this?”

The witch looked at him and scowled. “Blue dots? What has gotten into you, William?”

The tailors stood frozen as they watched William pull the gruesome thing from his head and toss it back on the pile where he had found it. “Nice hat, but it messes up my hair,” the wizard explained to the two question-laden faces.

Sieglinde opted to continue the discussion with Hilda, while her partner, who went by the wonderful name Ambrose, tried to lure William into buying something. “Perhaps a new cloak, or a pair of proper pants?”

William frowned. “Do you think I’m not wearing proper pants under this cloak? And what’s wrong with the cloak anyway?”

“I do beg your pardon, but I am a tailor and this cloak is screaming wear at me.” Ambrose pointed at a few spots where the fabric clearly had suffered from the adventures it had been subjected to.

“I think that gives it its charm. And it is not screaming,” William said as he suppressed a grin. “Here, listen.” Ambrose was not used to dealing with magical people. He leaned in and listened to the cloak, which then screamed. “Holy Bejeebus, I think you’re right,” the wizard then remarked with a magically induced straight face as he helped Ambrose get up.

Hilda looked at Sieglinde who had taken cover behind rolls of purple and red cloth. “Something the matter?”

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