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Curse of the TrollA Retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon

Emma Hamm

Copyright © 2019 by Emma Hamm

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

Created with Vellum

This is for you

For everyone woman who has struggled in the same way Elva has…

You survived because you are strong, not because you had too. And you will forever be my family, because we survived together.

You are never alone. This I promise you.

Contents

This is for you

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Epilogue

Afterword

Also by Emma Hamm

About the Author

Prologue

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, a faerie princess fell in love with a dwarf. He wasn’t like other men. His beard was long, his eyes dark, and he barely came up to her shoulder. But he was kind, and he understood her need for war.

But the dwarf was cursed. He couldn’t love her as long as the Troll Queen laid claim to his body.

She lived with him as the curse grew stronger. Every day, he hated his monstrous form all the more. Every night, he lamented his inability to be beside her.

The faerie princess didn’t have it in her to tell him she couldn’t be with him. Not as a normal woman. There was no heart in her chest, only a gaping hole, rendered there by so many men who had not believed in her. Men who had hurt her, maimed her, made it impossible for her to know how to love.

The dwarf wasn’t afraid. He loved her more than enough for the both of them, he said, but in that moment, the Troll Queen stole him away.

East of the sun, the princess had to travel. West of the moon, she had to go. A slice of the world hidden between sunlight and darkness. All the way to the troll kingdom, she journeyed to save him.

When the faerie princess made it, she realized it wouldn’t be as easy as she thought. The trolls were crafty. They wanted a price for his hand, and it was a price she didn’t know how to pay.

A golden apple, so pretty it reflected the sunlight deep within it, was the only thing she could offer. The faerie princess gave the Troll Queen this gift, and in return, asked to see the dwarf. When the troll agreed, she found the dwarf asleep in his cell.

The next time, the princess brought with her a golden necklace, and the inset emerald gemstones caught the eye of the Troll Queen, who snatched the necklace immediately.

This time, the dwarf remained awake through the poison just enough to tell her to fight for him.

And so she did.

The faerie princess gave the troll a sword and told it to fight. To prove she was worthy of this dwarf’s love when the princess barely felt worthy herself. They battled as only legendary warriors could.

When she won, breathing hard and slick with sweat, she reached out for the dwarf.

“I love you,” he said.

“I cannot love you back,” she replied. “My heart is gone, and I don’t know where to search for it.”

The dwarf placed his hand on her chest and, suddenly, a heart grew where there had not been one before. “I’ve had it the whole time,” he said. “Now, I can give it back to you.

1

Elva slashed at the straw man in front of her. Over and over, she hacked with her sword until there were tufts of yellow sticking out from its torso in all directions. She had to train, had to be ready for the next time when someone needed her blade. Or when she had to protect herself.

The last thought stuck in her mind. Protect herself. Be someone who knew how to stand up to another person and say no.

Sweat dripped from her forehead into her eyes. The sting reminded her she was training for a reason. She didn’t want anyone to feel the pain that she had felt in her life. No other woman or man should be forced to marry someone they didn’t want to marry.

But she hadn’t really been forced, had she?

Memories slipped through her rigid control of a night with a man who had made her smile. He’d tucked a strand of her silvery hair behind her ear and chuckled at a joke she couldn’t remember. He had been beautiful in the moonlight, keeping her gaze and attention from anyone who might have loved her more.

Her husband, ex-husband now, she reminded herself, had once been a good man. Fionn had loved her more than the sun in the sky and had tried so hard to make her happy. But the King of the Seelie Fae had never wanted her to be his queen. He had told her he wanted to save her from the struggles of living in the palace with eyes watching her every step. She would be his concubine, his pretty little kept thing, and they’d be happy together.

Until they hadn’t been.

Happiness had given way to arguments, to resentment, and then she’d drifted away from him. His voice whispered in her ear even now.

The swish of the blade became his musical voice. “Why can’t you love me like you used to? We were perfect together. Why can’t you make yourself feel that again?”

Because they’d both changed into someone they hadn’t been. Because he’d found himself addicted to opium and then convinced her to try it as well. Elva hadn’t recognized herself around him. How could she when the world had turned into nothing more than a hazy version of itself?

She whirled, lifting the deadly blade above her head and striking it down. His violet eyes stared

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