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Christian is gaga for Princess Marigold. But he's just a commoner, and no match for royalty. Heck, he lives in a cave with a troll! And now he's discovered another reason to put his love-soggy heart on ice: Queen Olympia is scheming to take over the kingdom--and she'll bump off her own daughter to do it. Can Christian foil her diabolical plans?
JEAN FERRIS has written more than a dozen popular books for teens, including several ALA Best Books for Young Adults and one YALSA Teens' Top Ten Best Book. She lives in San Diego, California.
Edric knew he should head for home. It would be dark soon, and even though he was as familiar with his part of the forest as he was with the back and the front of his hand, there were dangers when the lights went out-wild animals, evil spirits, big glowing eyes attached to who-knew-what, stuff like that. But Beelzebub and Hecate were having such a good time sniffing under every bush and barking all the grouse out from their hiding places that Ed was reluctant to spoil their fun. Besides, he'd been having a very good day of gathering.Some days there was nothing; nobody passing through the forest dropped a thing. But today he'd found a ring with a big shiny pink stone, a collapsible telescope, a book of Greek myths, an almost-new leather jerkin, and a flask half full (he knew there were some people who would have said half empty) of a quite palatable wine-rather frisky, with some floral notes and a nice, lingering, jaunty sort of finish. It had been a very good day indeed.He heard the dogs yapping their heads off up ahead. Not an encouraging sign. He could tell Bub was working himself into a state, trying to act as fierce as he looked, and Cate was overemoting, as usual. Whatever they were barking at must have gone straight up a tree, taken off for parts unknown, or had a coronary."Hey, you guys!" Ed yelled. "Cut that out!" He came through the trees and saw the two dogs-big shaggy Beelzebub and petite well-groomed Hecate-in front of a clump of bushes, carrying on as if they didn't have a brain in either of their heads."Hey!" he yelled again. "Stop that!"Abruptly they stopped barking. But both noses were pointed at the bushes, both tails out straight and quivering."What's in there?" Ed asked nervously. The light was fading through the trees, casting long shadows that wavered and fooled the eye into thinking threatening things lurked in the gloom. Or maybe the shadows weren't fooling at all."Come on," Edric said in a low voice. "Let's go home."The dogs didn't move."Would you listen to me?" he pleaded, peering anxiously around as the light grew dimmer. If only he'd thought to bring along some squirrel knuckles, their favorite treat, he could have lured them away easily.He wasn't supposed to be snaring squirrels, of course, since these were King Swithbert's woods, or maybe King Beaufort's-it was hard to tell where the boundaries between the two kingdoms lay-but who was going to miss a few squirrels when there were so many? Well, the other squirrels, maybe, but he didn't let himself think about that. Hayes Centaur, King Swithbert's gamekeeper, was conscientious (unlike King Beaufort's more laid-back Claypool Sasquatch) and would love nothing better than to catch Edric poaching a squirrel, but even he couldn't keep count of all the squirrels, or tell which were Swithbert's and which were Beaufort's.Ed pushed his way between the dogs, who were quivering so hard that they sent up a faint hum. He extended the collapsible telescope and poked it gi
Excerpted from Once upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris
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