We had followed the two trolls for several days. It was hard work – resting by day, tracking by night, following them mainly by the noise they made as they pushed through the forest. The native guides were unhappy about the whole thing. They don’t follow trolls, they told us. Trolls can be dangerous and unpredictable.
I have heard this so many times. In fact, there are hardly any reported cases of unprovoked attacks by trolls, either in central Europe or in Scandinavia. They have been known to crush unwary sleepers, but there is no evidence that this behaviour was deliberate.
These trolls were a pair, but they were long past breeding. They moved slowly, and were relatively easy to follow, as they left a swathe of flattened vegetation behind them.
I believe I am one of very few field researchers who can say they witnessed what came next. As the sky lightened above the forest canopy, the trolls embraced, and then settled down to wait for sunrise. From my hiding place amongst the tightly woven bushes, I watched the petrification spread across their skin as the sunlight moved over them.
We set up camp quite close to them, and I was able to examine them. I could see the vague outlines of the larger troll’s facial features. Was this the male? The female had curled herself next to him. You could imagine he was standing guard over her sleeping form.
That evening we broke camp, and waited for the sun to set. Night fell, but the trolls didn’t move. We waited quite some time – two hours by my chronometer – and eventually I approached their sleeping forms. By torchlight they appeared to be still in a state of petrification. Eventually, I reached out and touched the surface of the female(?) troll. Stone. The process of petrification had not been reversed by darkness.
I believe that I was priveleged to see the last sentient moments of an aging troll pair. That they chose to enter a state of petrification side by side is not in doubt. This is one of the strongest arguments I can find to justify the description of the troll as a sentient, feeling being, not unlike ourselves.
I was very moved. The following morning, I made a wreath of woodland flowers and laid it between them, where the stones touched each other. I’m not ashamed to say that I wiped away a tear as I did so.
For Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt. I continue my exploration of the natural history of the troll. Obviously.