Excerpt from “With trolls through the mountains” by Lady Emmeline Graham-Jones.

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.

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The troll mourns

If you wait quietly, you might see her. She comes at night, singing softly to herself – the low, sobbing song of a grieving troll. She is searching for her lost child. She moves the stones around, looking for signs of life – softened skin, slow breaths – or even of death – the remembered curve of a cheek, the frozen shape of an eye.

She piles the stones in different patterns. We think the designs have meaning, but we don’t  really understand them. Are they a threat to those who stole her baby? A message to a lost child? A cry of pain? This is for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and her Friday Fictioneers. Photo by Sandra Crook, words by me.

Stone story

I’m the last one awake, now. My sister, Emerald, was admiring the snow on the mountains when the sun came  up. Standing on tiptoe. Ha! She never learns. She’ll wake up stiff this evening, and she’ll be complaining all night. Ruby, Beryl and Jasper were curled up nicely, like little piglets, while I told them a bedtime story, and they just drifted off. I could see them petrifying while I watched.

At least the days are short this time of year, and tonight the moon will be full, so they’ll be able to run around. I’ll make some tasty mud pies, and we can play some games. Dad might come home. He’s been gone a week now, and we all miss him. He went to look for mum. I don’t think he’ll find her. I think she was Taken.

Aunty Quartz got Taken last month, and the month before that it was Uncle Granite. Cousin Shale went some time over the summer. He’d moved over to sleep on the other side of the pond, but he’d wave at us regularly, and then one night we noticed he wasn’t there.

Don’t tell the little ones, but I’ve heard it’s humans that Take them. They hoist them up with special slings while everyone’s asleep and stony, and then they carve them up, and turn them into garden walls, lintels, ornaments. It’s disgusting! Emerald says she’s seen them, but she’s a terrible liar.

Dad says it’s not true. He says not to worry, but I do. I don’t want to be made into a wall. I’d love to stay awake and keep an eye on everyone.

I’m so sleepy, though, and my legs are heavy. I can’t move my head any more…yawn…I’m just going to close my eyes…

Advice for new troll owners – for Jane Dougherty’s Sunday Strange.

1024px-Theodor_Kittelsen_-_The_Princess_picking_Lice_from_the_Troll_-_Google_Art_ProjectMost people have no understanding of the level of maintenance required by trolls. They are in fact quite delicate, and require substantial amounts of care and understanding. Before you take your new troll friend home, please read this article. It could make all the difference.

Petrification: trolls are very susceptible to petrification – particularly the larger Cave Trolls. Be absolutely meticulous in applying sun block, and try not to let them out in daylight if at all possible. Twilight walks and early morning chases are much more enjoyable. Direct sunlight is the enemy of the troll!

Pests and parasites: trolls are prone to catching stone lice. These are nasty creatures, and can cause your troll companion to become listless and debilitated. The best way of removing them is employing a princess to pick them out of your troll’s fur. You can try this yourself, but centuries of experience do show that a princess’s delicate fingers are best suited to this fiddly task. If you can’t access a princess, any minor royal, aristocrat, or simply an overly spoiled teenage girl will make a reasonable substitute. NB: males are incapable of de-licing trolls, except for the Green-capped Mountain Troll.

Feeding: sedimentary rock forms the basis of the troll’s diet, but this should be supplemented with a variety of igneous rocks, moss, lichen, and bones. Human if possible. The calcium is very important for good strong teeth and hair.

Exercise: of course, your troll companion will require regular exercise. Mountains and moorlands are their preferred territory, but parks, playgrounds and, at a pinch, multi-storey carparks will offer acceptable alternatives.

Remember: a troll is for life, not just for Mother’s Day. Treat your troll well, and you will be rewarded with years of faithful companionship.

Happy trolling, everyone!

 

This is for Jane Dougherty’s Sunday Strange.  Go and have a look. It’s always good over there. 

Bridge for Sue Vincent #writephoto.

beneath-the-bridgeI sat under the bridge because that’s what trolls do. It’s a shade thing. Our skin is sensitive to sunlight. That’s why we often seem grumpy. “Sun-touched”, we call it. We wonder about you guys, striding around in all that light. You cover up your bodies, that’s obvious, but your faces are exposed all the time. It’s no wonder you have so many wars.

I’m talking too much. Most trolls don’t say very much. We’re shy and retiring. We like to curl up in the shade, spend time watchin and listening, rather than endlessly talking. My uncle curled up under a tree one time, and a bird thought he was a big rock, and built a nest in the hollow under his arm. He had to wait three months for the eggs she laid to hatch, and the baby birds to fly away. He told me later it was the best three months of his life. He spent his days watching the sunlight move over the grass, the rain clouds coming in and passing away, even the grass itself growing.

I liked to sit under the bridge, and think. I watched the water change colour as the sun moves overhead. I saw the movement of the wind. I heard the sound of voices and footsteps as people crossed the bridge above me – always chatting, laughing, quarrelling. So quick to move and change. More recently, I heard the rumbling of cars and lorries, shaking the bridge just a little. Sometimes there were fish in the water, or ducks – almost as quick to quarrel as humans.

That day was a little different. I heard two voices, one deep, one light. They sounded angry, and that made me sad. Trolls don’t like anger. I tried to concentrate on the shape of the rocks in the water, and how the water rippled around them, but the voices grew louder. Then there was a splash. Somebody had thrown something off the bridge. I watched it move through the water, settling at the bottom on the fine river sand, reflecting the sunlight as it went down. There was silence after that.

I don’t often move from this spot, but this little thing was so tiny and so sparkling that it intrigued me. Very slowly I got up and waded into the water. It was hard to find – my movements made the water swirl up silt and sand from the river bed, but finally I had it in my hand. A tiny ring of gold, with a sparkling stone set in it. A diamond.

How I howled. Don’t they realise, those flashing, shifting, quarrelsome humans? Each diamond is a baby troll. Once they’re plucked from the earth they can’t grow any more. Poor little diamonds – they’ll never have the joy of watching a daisy open, or a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis. They’ll never feel the difference between a wind bringing gentle showers and one bringing rain. They’re just a little stone, chained onto some human’s finger.

And that is why I shook the bridge. I shook and shook, until it shattered into fragments. Down it came, crashing and thudding – cars, too, and a couple of humans – not so quick now, not so fast to move. I still felt sad, though. It didn’t help.

I don’t sit under that bridge any more. I have a little spot up on the hillside, where I sit and watch the clouds form and float away. I keep the little diamond close by me, and tell her what I see. Maybe if she stays close to the earth she will get her chance to grow.

#writephoto

This is for Sue Vincent’s Writephoto prompt. I couldn’t think of any other reason to be under a bridge.