Hillcrest: A Cautionary Fairy Tale

by on October 11, 2021 · 4 comments

in San Diego

Photo by Mat Wahlstrom

By Mat Wahlstrom

Once upon a time, there was a land by the sea where it was always sunny. Because it was always sunny, the land was known throughout the many kingdoms as a beautiful place to visit.

The land was ruled by a group of evil wizards, who were only interested in the coins they could extract from the sunshine with their magic. They enchanted all who visited the land as necessary for this, and made the people living there serve the visitors.

In this land, there was a village on the crest of a hill. At one time, it was very populous, with more homes per acre than the surrounding villages. But then people left it for the valley below, the village changed, and many people in the neighboring villages became afraid of it.

The wizards, who were only interested in visitors to enchant — at the beaches and the gaslit area around their gilded hall that attracted the visitors — ignored the village, the people still there, and the neighboring villages.

This led to fairies and other fey folk moving into the village. You see, the fairies and other fey folk throughout the many kingdoms were spread far apart and persecuted just for being who and what they are.

And because many people had become afraid of the village and the wizards ignored it, they learned it was one of the few of all the villages in all the many kingdoms where they could find some measure of safety with others like them.

They fixed up the houses people had left, and set up fairy businesses of all kinds — which attracted even more fey folk. And the village began to prosper once again.

Because of the fairies, the village was not a place that the wizards wanted the visitors to notice — as their feyness interfered with their spells on them. And as the village laid a good distance from their gilded hall, the wizards kept ignoring it.

There were still people in the village — most of whom were happy with their new neighbors.

But there were also those who had their own businesses and agendas; and they resented the fairies’ success and the wizards’ indifference. They refused to let the fairies become full members of their century-old village merchant guild — even as they relied on the fairies as customers and the fairy businesses had to pay a toll to belong — whether they wanted to or not.

So the fairies started their own fey enterprise fellowship.

This upset the guild merchants immensely. Thus they set out to find a troll for their chief.

They found one from across the sea of the many kingdoms, one who told them of how he knew to distill coins from fairy magic, and he could challenge the evil wizards on their behalf; and they welcomed the troll.

Once in charge, the troll stopped posting a directory of all the village businesses to the many kingdoms. He stopped keeping traffic counts that fey folk could use to know where to open businesses. And he stopped the guild offering to partner on merchant liability insurance.

(That these things were created by the merchant guild for their own benefit was soon forgotten.)

The tolls from all the merchants to pay for these and other projects for the merchants went instead to feed the troll, whose appetite soon became more than the guild could afford on its own. For the troll was always hungry.

So the troll went to meet with the evil wizards.

He told them of how he knew to distill coins from fairy magic, and he could challenge the villagers on their behalf; and they welcomed the troll. For you see, the wizards were secretly concerned that there not enough visitors to extract enough coins from the sunshine, and they needed to find more ways to do so without angering all of the villages.

That the many kingdoms had changed, and the fey folk had made themselves a reason to celebrate the village, allowing the wizards’ spells to work on the visitors, was key to convincing them.

The wizards put the troll in charge of the village. Not just of the merchants, but all in the village.

They protected him; and whatever the troll said he wanted, the wizards took as the word of the villagers. They wrote it into their laws — and in turn, the troll said the villagers supported whatever the wizards wanted.

(That what the wizards and the troll agreed often ran counter to the needs of either the merchants in the guild or the villagers was soon forgotten.)

He threw lots of parties for the fairies, which distilled many coins. And he favored the bar and restaurant businesses above the other merchants, as they attracted more visitors for the wizards.

The fey enterprise fellowship tried to stop him, so the troll made up a faux fey enterprise fellowship to compete with them, and grinned a big troll grin as they attacked each other instead of him.

There was a broad swath of empty space in the middle of the village that was supposed to be made into a park, as the village had no other space among all its many homes. The troll wanted it instead.

First he offered to build a fey pride flag pole for the official Fey Pride group. Then once it was built, he claimed it for the merchant guild, and both Fey Pride and the other fairy groups had to hand the troll over half of all the coins distilled from any events held there.

The rest of the space was used by the merchant guild once a week for a visitors market. The troll asked the wizards to turn it into a nonstop visitors market. And since a park couldn’t be used to extract coins from the sunshine, the wizards agreed.

But the troll was always hungry.

The troll told the wizards that the hill-crest villagers as well as people in the neighboring villages wanted to let the troll take their coins now, too, to run the nonstop visitors market and fund ogre patrols to keep non-visitors out.

The troll told the wizards that the merchants wanted more trolls in the village, which meant tearing down the many homes to build troll towers instead. When the fey folk and others told him this would displace both the merchants and the villagers, he would accuse them of anti-troll discrimination.

(And the wizards discovered that the one thing better than visitors to extract coins from the sunshine was towers for trolls, so they conjured a blueprint to build them in all the land.)

Now, the fairies and fey folk had long wanted the wizards to recognize the fairy’s success with the village by designating a fey folk historic district. There was already a historic district for the gaslit area near the gilded hall, which the wizards knew attracted extra visitors. Even the merchant guild had a district in the village. Surely their district could prosper too!

But the troll dismissed this as silly, for he did not want a repeat of the fey enterprise fellowship trying to stop him. He would say the many kingdoms had changed, fairies aren’t persecuted any more, and a fey folk historic district might slow the building of the troll towers. But he still wanted the fairy’s magic, so instead he promised to put fairy markers on all the troll towers for the visitors.

The troll, pleased with his success at tricking both the merchants and the wizards, decided to throw himself a party and invited them all to attend — so long as they brought coins, of course.

Finally realizing that the only ones who benefit from trolls are other trolls, the evil wizards stopped protecting him and dispelled the blueprint for the troll towers. Then the merchant guild, the fey folk and other villagers, everyone banded together to chase the troll from the village, where he was never to be seen again.

And they all lived happily ever after. Or they could. And wouldn’t that be fabulous?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page October 11, 2021 at 1:39 pm

I hope the trolls read this, Mat!


Mat Wahlstrom October 11, 2021 at 1:49 pm

They’d never admit it if they did — trolls never admit the truth. I’m just hoping everyone else in the village reads it.

And thanks for the shout-out!


MICHAEL JACOBS October 12, 2021 at 3:48 pm

Still hoping for that Fairy Tale ending. Trolls hate light.


Mat Wahlstrom October 12, 2021 at 6:48 pm

So am I, Michael. In the meantime, all I can do is tell “BIDtime” stories…


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: