short story - 8 min read


by Thor Magnusson


The existence of a Troll is a feared one - the forever solitary creature that inhabits the deepest, darkest crevasses of the Shroud, waiting for a being naive enough to pass his him without caution.   

Korvsnor is the name of a troll that fits that bill - those foolish enough to step into his vicinity (young goblins tend to be repeat offenders) will swiftly find themselves pulled into his black lair by large clammy hands and greeted with wart-covered lips, then teeth that crunch each limb off one by one, before the torso is savored for last. The victim's screams will be met with little remorse, only cold dead eyes glaring back and a satisfied stomach grumbling. In short, one of the worst ways to perish in the Shrouded Realm, by one of its most feared creatures, yet things weren’t always so morbidly black-and-white for Kovsnor’s kind, the species beginnings unimaginably different then it’s grim results.   

In the outskirts of the Plush Wilds lies an area of sunken ground, wide as half a canyon and covered over with thick and brittle forest thickets. This is the birthing ground of the Troll race, a place of warmth and comfort for these otherwise aggressive creatures - different mounds are built and laid out for the mummy trolls of a couple square feet. The females are a broad and sturdy gender but considering the impregnation gives around three to six runts in one go, it takes a toll on their bodies and minds, so a safe place to rest, recuperate and raise them is a necessity for the following weeks that linger.   

The grounds are thoroughly protected by the ‘Troll Guard’, hardly as elite as the title sounds - no, they’re just the tallest and strongest specimens of the litter that quickly win the honor of protecting this sacred place, as well as the privilege of impregnating the younger females when it is called upon them.  

This also doesn’t sound as enticing as it should - sex isn’t considered pleasurable for Trolls, simply a necessity for survival and one that gets wrapped up pretty quickly. The attraction towards companionship is hardly built into their nature, and when witnessing both genders, it’s not difficult to understand why - they hold the utmost similarities, with the females looking exactly like the men, except with cow-like udders slapped on the front.   

In this place came Korvsnor, an average sized baby for the species, and like most of their young - resemble a large potato that been left out in the sun for too long, with his pale greenish tone and random bumps covering his small torso. He was the third of five, with two girls and three boys - Troll girls grew exponentially faster than the boys, and once they were able to stand and walk (two weeks this took) they would act as the mother’s helpers, aiding at her beckoning call until the mother's duty would reach its ultimatum, and she would die swiftly and peacefully, the young girls immediately taking her place afterward.   

The boys, on the other hand, experienced an altogether different track of life, the bigger ones were immediately targeted to take over as guards - they were fed well and trained from the moment they could step forward on two feet. For the runts of the litter however, the path weren’t as defined - short and weak have no role in this place.   

Little Korvsnor fell into that later category immediately, his limbs were saggy stumps of meat and his head a clumpy ball of bumps and paste. The mum troll, of course, felt an immediate affinity for the little tyke since he had a warm twinkle in his eye that his mum hadn’t seen before - kindness was what it was.   

She held onto that boy day and night, so much so that it became a second part of her - a growth stuck to her front and although she knew it might be the worst thing for him, that the others would grow to resent him (they did quite quickly), she didn’t care, her time was short and she wished to be selfish for just once. That shortened time came sooner than thought (after Korvsnor’s brother’s started on their feet) - the two girls were already grown and at full capacity, the other two boys had shown great strength even at their earlier stages, Korvsnor on the other hand had rested on his mother's teat for most of his days, and hardly developed because of it. His mother found great happiness feeling him so close as she passed, her energy sunk into the dust and she was no more. The little boy knew no better that she was gone, but the other boys did and wasted no time grabbing that soft blob with his old cabbage odor, and throwing him outside of the birthing territory, onto the muddy surface of the Plush Wild.   

First confusion hit little Snor as he realized he was in a cold, strange area not processed or imagined before. His frail stumps attempted standing for its premiere voyage, wobbly but determined to return to the warm teat that was his entire existence. Two gigantic stalky legs blocked the path - the Troll Guard with a no-runt return policy, he attempted to crawl through but those tree trunks sent him flying swiftly like a football at penalty. Snor felt his first pain from the landing and then another new sensation followed - a heavy cold rock filled his stomach, it was sadness.   

Korvsnor sat out front of the Guards and sobbed and sobbed to unconcerned ears but as night fell in the Shroud, the time for emotions soon dried. The forest came alive with strange howls and rustlings of creatures on the hunt. The little troll quickly learned it was sink or swim as shadowy figures looking for a quick meal drifted through the environment. Suddenly those wobbly legs grew sturdy, those tear-filled eyes grew sharp and alert. Snor’s troll instincts took over and a quick search for a place dark that would keep his physique and his scent out of sight became a priority - in this case, it was a small narrow gap between a large brittle rock and the squishy mud floor.   

The boy wedged himself in there with great effort, Cretin Ants unfortunately also held a nest there and weren’t much for sharing - they bit and pinched the little tyke all through the night, his saggy skin a smorgasbord of aggression for the highly territorial ants.   

Korvsnor winced in pain but dared not yelp as predators lurked and searched in his plain view. Over those hours, the hurt eventually faded to numbness, he could still feel it but learned not to care - the little ant bastards couldn’t do any worse at this point, and as daylight shone through the murky clouds, that soft little lump emerged standing strong, on two firm legs covered in raw ant bites.   

Hunger panged the trolls small belly (this was his usual feeding time) - he turned his anger and frustration towards the ant nest and launched his small hands into the epicenter, grabbing a rich handful. The insects snapped in retaliation but Snor was past caring and chowed down triumphantly - the flavor was rancid, but the taste of revenge was sweet. The boy troll spent the next hour feasting down on the rest of the lair, until no ant crawled anymore, not even the queen.   

Days started to become a routine for him - he would track insects to their nests and dine on them, then hide in a tight sleeping spot through the night. With a trolls biology they advance and grow in tandem with the level of their consumption - Snor made it his main mission to devour as much as he could, as quick as he could, and soon he had upgraded to larger animals. His frame had transformed into a lumbering pudgy mass of grey, pock-marked meat with the dead eyes of a shark - that twinkled kindness his had mother witnessed, now a distant memory. All creatures he came across would either attack or fear him, one never approached in a gentle manner and so he returned the same feeling back in return.   

But as his size grew, so did the necessity for a habitat that would fit him and his ever expanding growth and build - he had already been moving North through the forest but as he reached the Brown Fields, that sits dead center of the Plush Wilds - it’s vast array of ashy gray ground and sinister death stared back at Snor and the troll smartly decided to turn South and retrace his steps, eating and smashing at every opportunity along the way back.   

Thick, disorientating wilderness is what he was presented with on his journey, the branches smashing into his hideous face, the insects making meals of his flesh once again (he had grown too large to return the favor back on these occasions). It was a frustrating time, he had no orientation and no sense of goal, just a desperate search for a place to call home, then suddenly a vision hit him - in a small valley like clearing, where a former river used to flow but now had evaporated into a dry grave, sat an arching stone bridge, something possibly elegant but now crumbling and festered with moss and neglect.   

It was love at first sight for Korvsnor, he quickly dug in a burrow beneath it and sat in his perfect spot, a place of warmth and comfort once again although instead of the loving comfort of his mum’s udders, it was a dark spot for lurking and ambushing - all he need do was reach up to an innocent passing above and his feast would be good to go.   

He would grow bigger, grow stronger, grow fatter until all creatures of the Shroud knew to fear and warn each other of that old stone bridge. Korvsnor’s happiness was others misery, but that was the strange way of a Troll's tale and a common way that it unfolds….