The First Adventure of Tom Trueheart
Once upon a time there lived a young man named Tom Trueheart. Tom had brown hair like the rest of his brothers and he was eighteen years old. He lived in a small stone cottage with his parents, his seven brothers, their seven wives, a dozen small children and too many animals to count. It was a happy home if a bit cramped.
One of his brothers, Colin the Clumsy, was married to Greta Golddigger, a rather unlikable person. She was the very lowest of the low while Colin was as far away from being a peasant that someone could be in their small village. Of course Greta would’ve much preferred to marry his brother, Harold the Handsome, but he was already married to Bella the Beautiful. Tom didn’t like his sister-in-law Greta one bit. He knew what she really wanted. Not love, nor a family unlike his sweet kind brother. She wanted money.
One day the news reached them that the king had died and his son, the prince, was throwing a ball for all the maidens in the land ( this story might sound familiar to you). Most of the little girls and a couple of the boys were extremely excited and spent their days running around the cottage playing princesses. There was no chance of any of them being chosen but no one was going to tell them and ruin their fun. A week after, and two days before the ball, Greta announced that she was going to visit her cousin who lived near the palace.
“Darling, my dear cousin Henrietta is turning 30 and I shall very much like to visit her. I’ll leave in the morning and be back next week,” Greta mentioned in a simpering voice.
“Oh, okay,” Colin tried to be upbeat about it but he sounded sad.
“Yes, yes of course,” Greta promised without realising what Colin had actually said, tossing a light brown curl over her shoulder.
“What is she up to?” Tom wondered to himself. “She doesn’t have a cousin called Henrietta.” Then it hit him. She was going to try and win the prince’s hand! Why hadn’t Tom noticed before? The constant preening and sewing and making excuses not to go outside. “That sneaky hag!” All that night Tom couldn’t sleep. His brother was kind and deserved someone who loved him but he would be devastated if Greta left. Though as he lay there an idea began to form…
In the morning Greta put on her second best dress, a faded blue affair with white lacing that was slightly stained and a hat made of straw. She grimaced as Colin kissed her goodbye and she ignored the sunflower her niece Betty held out to her. She climbed on to the wooden wagon that she had paid to get a spot on and she didn’t look back. Colin looked on sadly before yelling out “Wait!”. The others looked at him in surprise. What was he doing? Colin fumbled around in his pockets before pulling out some money. He raced along the dirt path to the wagon, gave the driver the money and plopped down next to his wife.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” Greta screeched at him.
“I’m coming with you!” Colin yelled gleefully, without realising her anger.
Greta screamed then turned away from him. Meanwhile Tom was panicking. No, no, no! The plan won’t work if she’s here! As the wagon faded into the distance Tom felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. Something bad was going to happen.
All of a sudden the birds stopped singing and the air grew hot. “DRAGON!” someone yelled. Dragons were bad news. Tom had to run. He had to hide. But Colin! So Tom mounted his horse Daisy and rode after his brother.
Meanwhile Greta was having a terrible time. They were in a dark smelly swamp full of mosquitos and she was covered in lumpy bites. It was hotter than usual but she thought nothing of it until a giant, emerald green dragon swooped down and ate the driver. Then the dragon ate the horse.
The dragon set the carriage on fire and several of the passengers burst into flames. “That’s why it was hot,” she murmured to herself before realising that she actually needed to get out of there. People were screaming, whether it was from pain or terror she would never know. She hiked up her skirts and ran, tripping several times in the bog.
By the time Tom arrived everyone was dead and the dragon gone. He fell to his knees sobbing. For Colin, for the people he grew up with, even for Greta. He couldn’t leave them like they were, scattered over the mud, so he started covering the bodies with flowers, leaves and branches. Hilda, George, Irene, Bert, Martha, James, Susan…
“Wait a second,” he whispered. Two bodies were missing and if he was right it was Colin and Greta. He mumbled a small prayer for his friends then mounted back onto Daisy to find them.
“Colin! Colin, I’m here!” Greta called, rushing towards her husband. She didn’t like him much but it was times like these when she was glad he was with her. “Oh Colin, what do we do?”
“I don’t know.”
“I want to go home.”
“I do too, Greta,” Colin said softly. “Maybe we- ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!”
There was a loud splash as Colin fell headfirst into a large river. The current was strong and he was swept away within seconds. Greta screamed. Over and over, louder and louder. Nothing ever went her way. She was stuck in the woods on her own, her husband swept away to certain death just as she started to grow fond of him.
Night was falling and fast but a certain man by the name of Tom Trueheart had heard her screams. Daisy galloped to the river where Greta was screaming.
“Where is he? What have you done to him?” Tom asked frantically as he dismounted.
“Oh yes, just ignore me. No, I didn’t nearly die!”
“Where is my brother!”
“He fell in the river.”
“I see you for who you really are. Where is he- Oh. WHAT?! How did he fall in the river? How?!”
“Well, we managed to escape the DRAGON that came and killed everyone and we were walking trying to get home and he fell in.”
“You were heading in the wrong direction.”
“We’re heading in the right direction now, aren’t we?” Greta said firmly.
“No, we’re still facing the wrong direction.”
“To find Colin we’re going in the right direction.”
“You’re coming to find Colin?” Tom shook his head with disbelief. “Who are you and where is Greta?”
“Hurry before I change my mind!” Greta snapped.
Tom took one look at his sister-in-law. She was acting odd. Since when did she care about anyone other than herself? Maybe she was trying to trick him? Or maybe, just maybe she wanted to help Colin. Greta had crossed her arms and was tapping her foot impatiently. She glared at him when she noticed him looking. She was quite small and already looked exhausted. There was no way she’d be able to walk all the way. So he whistled for Daisy.
“Get on the horse.”
“There is NO way I am getting on that mangy animal.”
Daisy whinnied, clearly annoyed.
She glared at him before attempting to climb onto Daisy. It didn’t work.
“Help me!” Greta demanded “UGH fine. Please help me.”
Tom gave her a hand and soon she was sitting upright on Daisy clutching her tawny mane. Now the adventure had really begun! You see the thing about fairytales is there is always something trying to stop the heroes. In this case Tom and the reluctant Greta were the heroes. Their mission was to save Colin. But what would try to stop them?
It was night time. Pitch black. Greta and Tom hadn’t noticed it approaching until it was upon them. With darkness comes cold and they weren’t dressed for cold weather. The trees cast distorted shadows on the forest floor. Owls hooted and the leaves of the underbrush rustled. Tom walked next to Daisy and Greta, trying to hide his fear.
Eventually they saw a little house in the distance with candles burning bright in the window.
“Maybe we could ask for shelter?” suggested Greta.
“I’m not sure. All sorts of creatures roam these woo-” He was cut off by a howl. Wolves were following them.
“Run, run, run.” Greta frantically repeated.
Greta and Daisy made it to the house first. Greta had gotten off Daisy and was frantically knocking on the door. It creaked open to reveal three bears staring her right in the eye.
“So sorry, wrong house.” she said, slamming the door. “What do we do?” she asked.
“I don’t know!”
“TREE!” Greta yelled.
“Greta, what on earth are you talking about? OH! CLIMB THE TREE!”
The wolves were nearly upon them. Tom had just made it to the tree Greta was climbing.
The wolves snapped at his heels as he pulled himself up the branches. Greta was high above him but Tom couldn’t reach the branch above him. He jumped and thankfully grabbed and managed to hoist himself up. Greta and Tom were safe.
“Daisy. Where’s Daisy? Greta, where is she?” Tom panted realising their missing team member.
“She bolted at the sight of the bears. I think she went home.” reassured Greta.
“Oh, thats good.” And with that they dozed off.
In the morning the wolves had gone. So had the sun. In its place was rain. That is actually how they woke up, with rain soaking their clothes. They tried walking again, following the river but they still had so far to go. Greta was fed up.
“You know what Tom? I think if we wish to find Colin we have to go in the same direction as him.”
“What are you talking about?”
She rolled her eyes then jumped into the river. “Get in!” she called as she was swept along by the current.
“Fine.” Tom mumbled and jumped in after her.
The water was cold and there were rocks everywhere. Tom was covered in cuts and scrapes. The trip along the river took hours and he could barely just see Greta ahead of him. The rain stopped and the started to shine which lifted his spirits. However that didn’t last long as Greta had disappeared.
“Greta? Greta? Gre- ARGHHHHHHHH!”
Tom started screaming and flailing about as fell down the waterfall. He hit the small lake at the bottom with a loud splash. Everything hurt. And Greta wasn’t there. He sank under the water. Just as he closed his eyes an arm wrapped around his waist and pulled him up.
Tom gasped. Once, twice until a hand wrapped around his mouth. “Shhh.” Greta pointed to the shore. There was Colin all tied up on a stick, roasting over a fire. Next to him was an ugly troll looking around trying to find the source of the splashing noise.
“What do we do?” Tom whispered having regained his breath.
“Hush, I’m thinking.”
“I have an idea! We should swim around onto land, get up behind and troll and cut off his head.”
“And what would we cut his head off with?”
“My sword,” Tom declared, pulling out a long silver blade.
“You had that the whole time?!”
“WHY DIDN’T YOU USE IT?!”
The troll looked up, only just missing Greta and Tom as they ducked back under the water. They started to swim around the lake so they could sneak up from behind. It was only then that Tom got a good look at the place. There were about five or six waterfalls splashing down into the bright blue lake which was surrounded by high rock walls covered in plants. In the middle of the water was a small sandy island with exotic looking trees with a small beach hut. Silver fish were darting about and colourful birds flew above them. It was beautiful.
“Tom. Tom. Tom, are you listening to me?”
“What? Oh, um, yes.”
Greta didn’t believe him of course but this was no time for arguments. The two were at the island, Colin and his captor on the other side facing away from them. As quietly as possible they got out of the water and onto the sand.
They walked through the strange trees until they were right behind the troll.
“3, 2,” Tom mouthed “1!”. Tom charged at the troll hacking at his tough grey skin with his sword. Greta had ran towards Colin and was frantically untying him, but her dress had accidentally been caught in the flames. She screamed and ran straight towards the water diving in.
Tom had been pinned down by the troll. Greta didn’t resurface. He should have known Greta would back out. He shouldn’t have trusted her. But Tom was wrong. Greta came charging out of the water, her dress singed and ragged. She untied Colin and the two turned around, ready to save Tom.
“Not another step,” the troll snarled, speaking for the first time. He had Tom’s sword to his neck.
“TOM!” Greta yelled. She tried to run forward but Colin held her back. She started to cry.
“It’s okay,” whispered Colin.
Tom closed his eyes waiting for the fatal blow. At least this seemed to have brought his brother and Greta together. Yet seconds passed and his head was still intact. He opened one eye to see the troll looking around confused. Then he heard the yelling. At the top of the waterfall were twelve people, his six other brothers and their six wives!
“What?” Tom whispered. Where had they come from? Tom hadn’t seen them in the river or the woods. He hadn’t noticed them following him.. He noticed them now, though. They were armed to the teeth and jumped, coming crashing down the waterfall. They landed with a loud splash. Silver glinted in the hot sun as they swarmed the troll who was trying to escape. But the beautiful haven he had made his home had one problem; he didn’t know how to get out. A few very violent and bloody minutes later (which involved a lot of tackling) the troll lay dead on the white sand.
“YES!” Tom pumped his fist in the air, grinning like a maniac. He ran forward and hugged Greta and Colin who tripped and fell causing the three of them to fall in the water. But they didn’t care, they just laughed and splashed about like little kids. Then all his brothers and sister-in-laws jumped in and they had a lovely swim. Tom was so happy.
However all adventures must come to an end. They spent the night on the island as it was getting rather dark – they kept well away from the troll who was beginning to smell. In the morning they had a lovely meal of fish and strange looking fruits. Tom grabbed his sword which he had left lying on the sand. Of course the next few hours were spent trying to find a way out which was eventually found by Tilly the Thorough and Willa the Wise. By the time they had climbed the rock walls it was nearly noon and they spent the rest of the day following the river through the woods.
At night Tom, Colin and Greta brought down a deer which they ate for dinner. Greta had become a much more likeable person and was willing to give everything a try even if she was terrible at it. They took the longer way around the swamp yet still arrived at a familiar sunflower field early in the afternoon. Once there, it took them only half an hour before they saw their home. Their parents greeted them exhausted after having to look after all the kids and animals by themselves. Things didn’t go back to normal; it got better. Not long after Tom became a famous knight and of course Daisy (who was safe and had ran back to the house to warn his siblings) stayed with him. He never did forget his first proper adventure.