Monday, December 24, 2018
Thursday, November 15, 2018
The Feast of Thanks and Peace
As reported by
Once upon a time there lived an old troll lady named Hilda. She had long scarlet hair, the color of the brightest leaves of Autumn and so Fall was her favorite time of year, that is until Winter, Spring and Summer came along.
Hilda lived high in the mountains, her cave overlooking a large meadow filled with trees and beautiful flowers that seemed to last longer than any area around them. A small stream ran through the middle passing by the remains of an extremely old tree, a tall stump that was as big as some of the nearby pines entire circumference. Near this tree was a young pine tree that stood as if it had chosen that spot to be near and watch over the remains of its neighbor. The contrast between the two trees was one of the reasons Hilda had chosen to live here.
Every night, just after the sun set, Hilda would walk through 'her meadow' tending the plants, talking with the trees and whenever she could doing what she loved most, caring for the creatures of the region. The animals would come from miles and miles around, they liked the touch of her healing hands or to partake of the many wondrous potions and salves she had prepared for almost almost every occasion. Even the trolls who lived in the region would come to be healed or cared for if needed.
Because of this Hilda had many many friends and enjoyed a very happy life. Even Mother Nature, herself, would come and visit the old troll with the long tail, whenever she could. On some occasions the two would travel to other regions and areas where Hilda's special skills could be used of taught.
One day Hilda and her best animal friend Orsee the honey brown bear, were sitting next to the stream. Orsee was leaning up against the old tree while Hilda lay in the night shade of the young pine.
“We have so much to be grateful for.” said Hilda looking up at the cloudy sky that hid the moon and foretold of the storms that would come to the area soon.
Orsee grunted and growled his answer baring his teeth in a broad grin.
“We should do something before the big snows hit the area.”
The bear's stomach rumbled and he rumbled a soft hungry sound.
“A feast! What a wonderful idea! We could invite all our friends.”
Orsee again rumbled something that sounded like a question.
Hilda paused. “Yes I know my trolls friends like lots of meat but I believe that no creature should be in danger because of this feast. We can gather fruits, nuts, roots and vegetables and I am sure the bees will give of their honey. I can bake breads and sweets of all kinds.
The bear rumbled something then snorted loudly.
“Yes, I know it is a lot of work but I am an excellent cook and I have my magical pot that holds everything I put into it and cooks it perfectly. I will make the most wonderful stew. Maybe we will not even need meat.”
“Yes, I know trolls love meat but I truly believe it is wrong to take any life for this feast. We will have to trust Earth Mother and do all we can to be ready.”
She looked at the bear who remained quiet but nodded in agreement,
“I want to hold this as soon as possible before the cold and long nights come but our friends will need time to get here. We can have the birds and the trees deliver the invitations and we will tell them it will be on the night of the new moon which will be in ten more nights. That will put it almost exactly between Solstice and Harvest's End. I think that will be perfect. We can celebrate with our friends and express to Mother Nature our gratitude for all her bounty. I do think we need to invite her too.”
This time the bear nodded enthusiastically.
Hilda grinned. “Then it is settled. Oh and we must remember to tell them to bring their own items to eat in or on if they want. We do not have enough food holders for such a large number of guest.
The bear snorted in appreciation that she had thought of something he never would have considered.
“Then let's get going, we have lots of work to do!”
Orsee growled and groaned loudly.
'Meat? Yes, we still do not have any meat but I am sure it will not matter. Let's get to work, we have a lot to do”
And with those words she was off like a shot preparing the plans that had filled her mind as she had talked.
A day passed, then two. The birds and trees reported that twenty trolls had accepted the invitation and they could not count the number of animals. Some of the animals were afraid because there were going to be trolls there. Hilda replied that there would be no animals, even the old and infirm, would not be harmed for the feast. She then waited for an answer.
In the mean time she began to cook. She dug a large fire pit and built a hot coal fire into which she placed her magical pot. She poured in over fifty buckets of water from the stream. As the onions, beans, carrots and tomatoes came in they went into the pot along with many special spices Hilda had in her cave. She added a barrel full of dried meat to the stock and then threw in several barrels of potatoes.
She, along with Orsee, also started baking pies and cakes and breads in the stone oven inside her cave. Pumpkins, apples, peaches and other fruits were turned into dozens of pies while dried fruit and nuts went into breads laced with honey and thick syrup from maple trees miles and miles away. Other vegetables and fruits were packed into barrels and laid out for random snacks and treats. Orsee helped because like Hilda he was an excellent cook especially in making the breads and cakes.
Soon the entire area smelled of fresh cooked or cooking food but there was no smell of meat, as Orsee kept reminding Hilda who continued to say nothing except that the feast would be wonderful.
It was late into the next night that Old Woggle, a huge Tom Turkey, came to see his friend. He had heard of the dinner and came to see if he could help his friend. The two had talked, joined occasionally by Orsee who was tending his oven, until almost dawn. They discussed the fact that there was no fresh meat and Woggle assured her that things would be as they should and that if no fresh meat was provided by Mother Nature then that was how it should be and that the the gratitude would be real and genuine no matter what food was provided.
Hilda was not so sure and worried, aloud, for the first time that without the meat for the feast it would not be perfect. She knew of animals who would give of themselves to fill the need and that by so doing their suffering and pain would end but they were few and she knew she could help them while alive and make any transitions smooth but not now. Not during the Celebration of Gratitude, as she now thought of it.
Old Woggle had agreed and said he honored her kind heart. He said he remembered hearing of times when Trolls were nasty, cruel creatures who hated the light and all things good. Trolls that destroyed rather than create. His ancestors had passed down tales of the gradual change and now here she was doing good.
“The Great Creator and His Earth know what you are doing so be patient and what is supposed to be will come to pass. Now you best get in and get some rest, you have a busy time coming before the rest of your guests arrive.
Animals began to arrive after two more days and were fed breads and small meals but for the most part they looked after themselves. The first troll arrived two days before the feast and from then on they began to trickle in slowly.
Hilda greeted each new arrival warmly and reminded them that this was a feast of gratitude and peace so the guests were invited to try to remember things they were glad they had or were grateful for.
The morning of the feast arrived warm and comfortable, a blessing from Mother Earth and, as Orsee again reminded her, still no meat. Orsee had then gone up to the cave to get the last of the pies and sweetbreads.
“What shall I do old friend.” she asked leaning against the old stump after he had left.
“Trust the magic.” the tree stump said softly.
Hilda leaped back. “You spoke?”
A pair of eyes opened in the old tree and a large knot became a mouth. “Yes.”
“Why? You have never spoke before.”
“Yet you have always treated me as a friend. My roots are still deep and Mother is coming.
“Will she have the answers I need? Trolls love meat. I know it is not really necessary to make a great feast but I want everyone to be happy. I do not want anything to ruin the feeling of gratitude. I have tried not to think of it and to be trusting but the answer has not come.”
“You have not done anything but hope. Actions are frequently needed to get answers.” said the ancient tree stump.
Hilda looked confused. “I was going to ask Mother Nature if she could help when she arrived.”
“Yes but she, like her creator, does not have to be here to answer questions. You are a troll and trolls are made of the rock of the Earth. You, above others, should know what can be done.” replied the tree softly.
“So I should ask for meat now and expect it to just appear?” asked Hilda.
The smell that filled Hilda's nostrils in the next second caused her eyes to shoot open as wide as all of outdoors. The savory aroma of Roast Turkey mixed with spicy bread filling filled the air.
Hilda turned around rapidly and to her great surprise and delight 'her pine tree' was covered with plump, steaming turkeys, hanging like great pine cones from the branches of the tree. The old cook ran two steps and carefully grabbed one pulling it carefully off the tree. Before she could bite into it another appeared in its place.
Hilda took a big bite (she's a troll after all, what did you expect?). The buttery, spicy taste melted in her mouth as did the next bite and the next.
“Orsee.” she called out, “come quickly!”
The bear lumbered out of the cave and was immediately hit by the smells coming from the tree that had been masked by the wonderful bread smells that filled the cave. Hilda was certain he made it to the tree faster than ever before.
The bear lumbered out of the cave and was immediately hit by the smells coming from the tree that had been masked by the wonderful bread smells that filled the cave. Hilda was certain he made it to the tree faster than ever before.
“Taste one. They are not too hot. They are perfect!” exclaimed Hilda taking another bite which this time got into the core of the turkey which was filled with spicy bread and rice.
Suddenly she stopped eating. Looking up she saw a large number of trolls approaching from both directions of the valley. She recognized the two largest families of the region. She quickly put down the remaining turkey 'fruit' and ran forward hearing Orsee crunching the bones as he finished the lasts bites of his treat.
“Welcome friends!” she cried out in joy and excitement. “Welcome to OUR Feast of Gratitude and Peace! Everyone gather quickly around before we eat to express our gratitude for all that we have!”
Tears of happiness filled Hilda's eyes as she surveyed the crowd. In her mind she counted over three score trolls. (It was the largest gathering of trolls she had ever witnessed.) There were hundreds of animals, small and large, from a few hardy insects to a dozen large bears who had not yet hibernated.
As she stood open mouthed, unable to speak because of the joy she felt, Old Woggle came up and stood beside her as did Orsee.
“This may sound strange coming from me but my kind have been the food of all for years, it is part of our circle of life. We are honored that the Creator and Mother Earth chose such a universal taste to celebrate this day. Now I think it is time for you to say something and let these hungry critters eat!”
Hilda blinked as she focused on the crowd. For a moment she turned and looked at Orsee who grinned so wide all his teeth showed white and gleaming in the evening air.
“Please listen everybody!”
The crowd grew silent as one by one they seemed to sense the importance of this occasion Soon only the breeze rustling the trees could be heard through the entire meadow.
“Where is Mother Nature?” asked Orsee in a soft growl.
“All around us and in our hearts.” replied Hilda smiling. “But she is standing next to our new friend the old tree.
The bear said nothing but gave her a small nod. Mother Nature nodded back and smiled as she winked at the old tree stump who smiled.
“Go on deary.” said the old stump. “And thank you for giving the land the life that brought me back from my deep slumber.
Hilda smiled and then turned to face her guests.
“I would like to recite something I created while I was cooking. When I am done I want all of us to pause in silence for a few moments and think, individually about what you are grateful for. I will then need a few volunteers to bring down the rest of the food from the cave and the casks of milk, cheese, water and fruit juices we made. There is even several barrels of honey juice for those who like that. Orsee and Old Woggle know what to do so if you cannot get to me or hear me check with them.”
A rumbling murmur rolled through the gathering. The smells and their hunger made it hard to wait but they were wise and they were indeed grateful so they assented in anticipation of both the words and the feast.
Woggle and the others all stepped back leaving her some room so they could all hear her.
For a few moments more Hilda held her peace and then in a gentle, full voice began to speak and though not everyone there would understand the words they could sense the importance of their meaning and the greatness of the heart that spoke them.
Great Creator and Gentle Mother Earth!
As thy children we gather to express our gratitude for all your bounty.
For the elements that make us one
Fire that gives heat and prepares food.
Water to feed and cool all things.
Air that gives all things life/
Earth, the Mother of us all.
For the seasons and the cycle of life
Spring where the cycle starts
Summer where it grows and matures.
Fall where the cycle fulfills its path and gives its most.
Winter where it rests and awaits new birth.
We freely share all these and promise not to waste but to use all your gifts as ordained.
For the life giving food and this wonderful feast,
we say give our thanks and pledge to use the strength it gives to benefit all that lives.
May one of these benefits be peace to all the Earth and all that live within
and may we be vessels of that peace now and forever.
Again we express our gratitude for all your gifts.
Let us enjoy these moments of peace and silence.
For a hundred troll heartbeats there was silence in all the meadow. The auras of those present seemed to merge and the Earth drew on that power. Around the globe, for those few minutes, trolls and others close to the Earth sensed a change that would in the years to come alter the care and keeping of the world, all because of one Troll, a large feast and a bond that was created in those few moments of silence as the Creator and Mother Earth received the thanks and honor they would use to help their greatest love: the Planet Earth.
As for the feast, according to all who attended it was by far the most wonderful experience they had ever had and those turkeys, well let it be said they will always be remembered for their magical taste and appearance. Ever since that first feast, oh so long ago, the trolls and their friends have gathered every year since in the high meadow with Hilda, Orsee and repeated the Feast of Gratitude and Peace and though Hilda no longer cooks and it is Orsee's great great great grandson that does the cooking the troll world continues to enjoy the once a year magic of the 'thanks-giving' tree. It is no surprise that the word spread and the feast became a standard through out all trolldom and even though they did not all have the magical turkey 'fruit' of the first one great care was always taken to keep Hilda's intentions and purpose completely fulfilled. That humans have a similar feast held on the third Thursday of their month of November, is also no surprise, for we are all children of the same Creator and as such are charged to care for the Earth which gives us all sustenance.
And Snip, Snap Snout, this tales told out.
Earth Mother (Mother Nature) Visits the Feast.
Thursday, September 6, 2018
Monday, July 23, 2018
I would like to share with you a modern tribute to some of the myths and legends of Norway’s past. I believe that this tale reflects how these legends might be written if they were done today. I have also included, in this story, some very interesting Troll Lore that may clear up a few things about these wonderful creatures and why we sometimes get confused about the real reputation of Trolls. I think this story might even make a great bedtime story to read to your children. I have also, once again, taken the liberty to have the dialogue ‘interpreted’ so you can understand what was really being said by Nik, Jok and Bolarg. Grandpa Martin
A Boy and His Troll
(A Tribute to Ancient Myth)
Nobody ever had a ten-foot tall, two-headed Troll for a friend, nobody that is except ten year old Christian Hartvig. Of course this ‘friend’ came as no surprise to those who knew the energetic blond boy with the long irreverent hair and overly active imagination. People of the village knew that ever since he could talk he had rambled on frequently about how he wanted to meet a troll and how wonderful it would be to have one as a friend. His room was littered with uncounted pictures of trolls of every size and description drawn carefully on even the smallest of scraps of paper available. His first real art project was a clay troll made as a Yule present for his father, Edvard. Father Hartvig was very proud of his four-year-old son’s efforts. The lump of rolled clay with two balls perched on top held on by sticks was carefully dried in the sun. The boy had used sticks for arms and feet and rocks for the eyes and mouth. The tail and hair were made of hair tufts gathered from a neighbor’s dogs and stuffed in so that they were held in by the dry clay. Even then there were two heads and both heads had large noses and he had used kernels of corn to make buck teeth on one of the heads.
Christian was nine and a half when Nik and Jok came into his life. It was the boy’s habit to play alone and with friends in the nearby wooded area which bordered on a large forested area about a half hour walk from his home. The kilometer long spur extended from the forest providing a beautiful green and brown peninsula of trees in an otherwise meadowed area that adjoined the great woods. Christian would climb on the rocks and play among the trees until dark and sometimes beyond and would come home with tales of his fantastic adventures that usually involved trolls. His friends sometimes would pretend they were the trolls but Christian’s tales were always broader and grander especially after his friends had left to go home. Sometimes his friends would tire of the game and want to play Vikings or Soldier or something else. Christian would often join in these games as well but sometimes he would go off on his own to explore the three quarter kilometer wide patch of forest.
It was on one such occasion that Christian failed to return home at dark. A quick check with his friends revealed that he had gone off on his own and they had not seen him when they yelled that they were leaving as the sun was setting. Worried about his only child Father Hartvig had taken his walking stick and gone with his fretting wife to the forest where he found the boy sleeping on the ‘far’ side of one of the largest trees in the area. When they woke him, he was very excited.
“I met a troll and he ummm they have two heads!” He blurted jumping to his feet as he looked around. “They’re ten feet tall and one head is named Nik and the other is named Jok!”
Christian then proceeded to tell his relieved and amused parents how the Troll had come down from the Trondheim area where they live in a deep cave.
“...Nik wanted to go South to Oslo while Jok wanted to stay home. Jok hates to travel.” The boy did not give his parents time to get angry and as he went on they realized he had simply fallen asleep and that was that.
“It must be hard when one head wants one thing and the other head wants something different.” Said his mom, Merta, winking at her husband who was standing near by frowning.
“It is.” said Christian conspiratorially. “But I think Nik is a little smarter and he won the argument. Jok said that they decided to stay around here for a while because they like me so I guess Jok was glad he came.”
“I see.” said his mother softly as she tried not to laugh at her son’s bright eyed enthusiasm. “Now let’s get home. You gave us quite a scare and if it happens again you will be forbidden to come here again for a week!”
Christian looked down. “I’m sorry. I was having so much fun building a fort. I was piling those rocks over there when I looked up and there was this head. I screamed and started to run, then I tripped.”
I looked up and Jok smiled. “Do not be afraid.” he said. “I am Jok and my brother here is Nik, we are here to help.”
“ They turned away and took three or four steps to the rocks over there. I was amazed when the two easily picked up that biggest rock there and set it beside my fort. They then looked at me and motioned for me to join them. We worked together for a while until I got tired and decided to sit down. Jok and Nik said they would keep watch. I guess I fell asleep and they had to go before they could wake me up.”
Edvard Hartvig looked sternly at his son then at the uneven row of rocks two or three of which were three and four times the size of his son. “You cannot use your fantasies to excuse your behavior. Now get home and get your chores done while Mother tries to save supper.”
Over the next few days Christian would run home after school so he could get his chores and homework done. When he was finished, he would race to the woods sometimes forgetting to do more than yell to his mother that he was leaving. There he would meet his friends, when they could come, and they would play until they could not see. Ofttimes hide and seek games would last until one of the boys realized how late it was and then all of them would run home laughing sometimes as late as seven in the evening.
One night he burst into the door and announced that Jok and Nik wanted to meet his parents. Christian’s dad was gone for the night on a hunting trip with the boy’s uncles so when his mother heard her son she was hesitant to go outside.
On the porch she squinted and pretended to look hard in the direction the boy was pointed as he introduced his friends.
“Where?” she asked teasingly turning toward her son. “I don’t see any trolls.”
Christian giggled recognizing the game at once. “Oh mom!” he said in mock seriousness, “He’s um they’re standing right behind you!”
Mother Hartvig turned and looked up. “OH! There you are! I don’t know what I’m going to do with you. You move so fast for such a big, umm boy.” she said as if meeting a two-headed troll was an everyday experience. “Why don’t they talk?”
The almost ten-year-old smiled broadly. He loved it when his mother played the ‘pretend’ game and moved over next to his big friend. “Because I told them they might scare the neighbors if they made any noise.”
His mother eyed him quietly then looked up toward the sky. She enjoyed the game too and wondered what this Troll would think about it. “I thought you said he was ten feet tall he looks like he is almost eleven feet tall to me. Has he grown? If he gets any bigger, he will never be able to get into our house and besides, I do not know what I should feed him. Do they like porridge?”
Christian licked his lips. “With lots of honey and almonds.” he said effervescently.
“I will remember that. It is not every day that a person meets at Two-headed Troll. But Mr. Troll, um I mean Mr. Trolls, you will have to excuse us. Christian has to go to bed so he can go to school tomorrow.” She then waved at the Troll and took her son by the hand.
“Goodnight. See you again.” they said together.
The Troll, of course, just waved and left vanishing into the dark “almost as a ghost” as Christian later put it.
Two weeks passed and on the days he went out to the woods Christian returned home more subdued and quiet than normal. When his Father asked him, the boy explained that Nik and Jok had not been around and even though he had fun with his other friends he missed ‘his Troll’.
“Be careful.” his father had advised, “Trolls are tricky and are known to cause trouble. Some types are very troublesome like the hair tanglers and tooth breakers but the big ones are unpredictable and will sometimes eat bad little boys.”
“Ogres and Giants eat little boys not trolls!” insisted Christian. “And I am a good boy so I am safe! We are also friends and no Troll would hurt his friend.”
His father looked skyward. “I do not want you playing alone in the woods now that Winter is approaching. You could slip and hit your head or have some other accident so when the other boys come home you come home too!” He then added with a wry smile. “I am sure your Troll friend will understand.”
The first snow fall was on a Saturday and Christian and his friends went to the woods to play. When they returned home, the boys were all jabbering excitedly about playing hide and seek with the Troll.
“I saw his tail as he hid behind the brush!” exclaimed one boy named Peter.
“And I saw him hidden among the boulders when Christian pointed to him!” boasted the oldest of the boys named John.
The boys all laughed and scattered to their homes leaving Christian pleased that they had all been together with his Troll.
Christian had a cold for the next two days and even though he went to school his mother would not let him play until he was fully recovered. When Saturday came around Christian finished even his extra chores rapidly so he could play but was disappointed when he had to go with his family to town instead. Monday after school Christian sprinted to the woods and that evening, he came home breathless.
“You would not believe what happened!” he blurted the moment the door was shut. Just as Peter was getting ready to leave, I heard a noise behind me. Peter took off and I turned around and there were Nik and Jok and they called me and asked ME for help!”
Father Hartvig looked at the clock and it was not much later than usual. “What did he, um they, want?”
“I ran over and Nik was holding what looked like a Snow Globe. Inside was a beautiful white castle and outside looking into the globe was a huge green dragon and he looked like he wanted in.” Christian paused to gulp in a breath. “Nik shook the globe and silver flakes swirled inside and suddenly I was standing by the castle and it was bigger than a thousand churches!”
Mother Hartvig looked down at her son. “So you were in the globe?” she asked handing her son a glass of milk.
Christian drank quickly leaving a white frothy mustache on his upper lip. “Yes! Jok told me that we needed to save the castle from the dragon!”
He paused a moment and wiped his mouth on his sleeve.
“I looked around and I saw the dragon and he was ten times bigger than the castle. I looked on the other side and there were zillions of cows and pigs and turkeys and I told Nik that I had a plan. ‘We have to feed the dragon’ I said. ‘If we do, he will go away and sleep for a thousand years’!”
“So Jok and Nik and I started throwing animals into its mouth as it climbed the rocks toward the castle. Jok threw in a thousand cows and Nik threw in a thousand pigs and I threw in a thousand turkeys. Finally the dragon stopped climbing and turned around. I turned and looked at Jok and Nik who smiled at me. Just then the Dragon turned around and talked to me!”
“Thank you!” continued Christian lowering his voice to imitate a Dragon. “I was so very hungry. I am so happy you fed me. I will be forever grateful! If you ever need my help just blow on a whistle. I will wake up from my nap and come to your aide.” Christian drew a breath and grinned. “He then wondered off to the edge of the world and disappeared. I was just about to ask Nik how to get home when I looked up and at the window of the highest part of the castle and I saw a beautiful princess and she is about my age and she waved at me and I waved back but then I was standing outside the globe looking at the castle and the dragon was gone!”
“And where’d he go?” Asked his mom softly as she took the glass and turned to the kitchen.
Christian looked skyward. “I told you, he walked off the edge of the world. Mom, where’s my whistle?”
School seemed to drag for Christian over the next few days and afterward he came home most days because the weather was bad and because he was told by Nik that they were going up to the Trollheiman mountains to visit their brother. Jok also told him to look for them after the first of the year around ‘his birthday’.
The Blessed Jule Season came and went and as usual the Julenissen thought Christian was a good boy who always put porridge out for him to eat. The Old Elf knew that Christian was doing well in school and that he took care of his animal friends which made the ancient one’s job easier. Christian had enjoyed the gifts and sweets he received especially the orange. He had followed after the character some called Father Christmas from house to house joining several of his friends. At each home they got a sweet or a small gift from the neighbor and when they all went back to his house there was hot chocolate or coffee and a warm fire. His friends and he had talked and joked for almost an hour before Mr. Hartvig told them it was time to go home to their families and suppers.
When his father took down the decorations later that week, Christian had the honor of removing from the tree a special Silver Pine Cone his great-grandfather had mysteriously received one Jule Eve’s night. Reverently, he set it on the mantle atop a special wooden tripod the family used as a stand. The tripod had been whittled from a single piece of wood and had three linked rings that held it together. The ‘mystical’ pine cone, which was said to bring good luck to the home and family, and the marvelous stand had been promised to Christian when he was of age. As his hands withdrew from the family heirloom, the boy was certain he felt a small flash of an energy pass to him from the cone. Looking curiously at his fingers, he left the room to play.
On New Years Day Christian and his friends played in the woods but it just did not seem the same because his friend was not there. What made it worse was he had to endure the good natured teasing and joking the boys threw at him. The boys, seemingly, had discovered over the holidays that Trolls were not real and that their sightings all had logical explanations. As they played, the boys took great delight in greeting every odd rock outcropping or twisted tree trunk as Mr. Troll this or old Hag Troll that. Christian took the ribbing good naturedly and even took part only being careful to point out the ones he ‘knew’ or believed had once been trolls. Harder to stomach was the teasing about how the entire town thought he was a bit obsessed or even a little crazy when it came to trolls. After all, they reasoned, almost every story, art project and sentence written during the last few weeks had some kind of troll twist to it and that was not normal. The boys told him that if he continued they would lock him up in a nut house or worse some ‘big evil troll’ would come and carry him away in the night. Christian laughed at these statements and even made a few attempts to point out other things he was interested in like skiing and math but no matter what he did he could not help coming back to trolls and how his friends would return by his birthday. He promised them that they would all be amazed when he properly introduced them to Nik and Jok.
After Christian’s promise the kidding continued. Only Peter seemed to hesitate to badger his friend further and as the afternoon wore on he seemed to draw himself away from the others.
Christian awoke early on the twenty-second day of the new year as excited as only a boy could be. Not only was it his birthday but it was the day ‘his troll’ was to return! He made a half-hearted attempt to get his mother to let him stay home from school but she would have none of that nonsense so forlorn yet full of excitement he trudged off to school in one of the many mid-winter storms that blustered and blew this time of year.
The hours in school seemed to drag on eternally as the young boy struggled to focus on the days lessons. Once he was almost caught drawing a picture of Jok and Nik and had it not been for a timely distraction by his friend Peter he would have lost ‘one of his best drawings ever’.
When his classes finally ended Christian sprinted home. That morning he had pleaded with his mother to let him go to the woods first but she had insisted that he come home and help get ready for the family and visitors that were sure to come that evening to celebrate his birthday. “Besides,” she reasoned, “your troll did not say they would be back exactly on your birthday and if they are your friends they will understand if you have other more important things to do.”
The next day Christian went to the woods and the next day after that and every day he could for the next three weeks. Occasionally Peter or some of his other friends would join him but they were more interested in ‘snow forts and sliding’ than in trolls and they were always quick to point out that there weren’t even any footprints to show that any troll, even a small one, had come by. Strangely, Christian took comfort in the lack of foot prints. At least, he reasoned, he had not missed him but after three weeks he began to worry that perhaps his troll friends had forgotten him or got hurt or worse had turned to stone. Each time he plodded home he worried and wondered why the two-headed troll had not come as promised. Again, it was Peter who tried to help by telling him that to a troll a year is a very short time and that sometimes a troll’s sense of time is different from people.
It was the third day of the second month that Christian came home flushed and out of breath. “They’re back!” He announced happily. I followed his tracks to the far end of the woods and there he was sitting on a rock. I was so excited, I ran up and gave him a hug!”
Mother Hartvig stood and listened to her son carry on for over three minutes about how the Troll had looked happy to see him but had grown sad. She winked at her husband who was pretending to be reading when Christian told her that an evil Ogre named Bolarg had kidnaped the Princess in the castle and taken her to his lair in the dark hidden mountains. She listened as her son explained that Jok had asked him to come help rescue the princess and that he needed to come to the woods tomorrow early after his chores were done if he wanted a chance to be a hero.
“Well at least he did not tell you to skip your chores.” said his mother smiling. “I suppose you can go if you promise to get home before supper and don’t plan to go anywhere tomorrow, we are going to church and then to visit your Aunt Sigrid.”
Christian jumped up and down in excitement almost knocking over a chair. “I have to go pack. Mom, do you know where my tin whistle is?”
The next morning Christian was up before first light and by the time the winter light from the nearly hidden sun filtered into his yard the chores were done and he had eaten a hearty meal of porridge, bread and goats milk. He had packed a small knapsack full of nuts and dried berries and filled a flask with cold milk to take for lunch and had put on his heaviest of pants and sweaters to wear under his winter coat. He also took his warmest mittens and hat and he promised his mother that if he got to cold he would come home if he could.
Christian was surprised that as he walked out of the gate he found Peter approaching from town. Like himself Peter was dressed warmly for the day’s excursion which promised to be nice because, for now, the clouds were high and the wind was barely a cool breath on the exposed cheeks of both boys.
“I thought you might go out today so I convinced my mother to let me go with you. She thinks you are a ‘bit crazy’ but you are still a ‘nice boy’ so she let me come.” Said Peter grinning.
Christian quickly explained the problem and that he did not know if Peter could go into the snow globe too. Peter told him that if he had to he would watch the globe while they were inside just as long as he got to watch what was going on inside. Christian said he would ask but made no promises that Nik and Jok would even let him come close to the magical orb.
“Are you scared?” Asked Peter after several minutes of silence.
The boys were sitting on the smoother part of a rock that sat buried deep at the edge of the forest spur. They had arrived just a half hour earlier and both had called out several times for the troll to appear but the only reply was the rustle in the trees from the light wind that blew. Christian pulled his cap down tighter over his ears and blew on his heavily gloved hands. In his mind he imagined the inside of the globe with its green field that surrounded the castle. His mind wondered to his first visit to the castle and he wondered for a moment why he did not see the sheep and other animals when he looked in at the end.
“No, I’m not scared but I am afraid that Nik and Jok won’t be here.” said Christian after a pause. “I hope it doesn’t snow again today.”
Peter shivered. “Did you say it was warm inside the castle?”
“I didn’t actually get in the castle but it was warm outside.”
Peter smiled mischievously. “When you were feeding the dragon did the animals just line up to get thrown into the dragon or did you have to go catch each one?”
Christian looked at his friend and frowned. “You don’t believe me do you?”
“It is a very wild story.” said his friend.
“Then why are you here?” demanded Christian standing. “I don’t think my parents even believe me and mom met my troll!”
“Did she ever say she really saw him, I mean them?”
“She talked to them. She shook his hand!”
Peter repeated the question.
Christian looked at his friend then shook his head. “You think I am crazy too, just like everyone else.” he said softly.
“Are the trolls for real?” asked Peter finally. “The idea scares me.”
Christian was a long time answering. Finally he looked at his friend and smiled. “Yes, they are real.”
Peter nodded. “I want to believe. It would be a very boring world without magic and trolls and stuff like that.”
“It would at that.” came a low voice from behind.
Both boys jumped and turned around. Peter took a step back and tripped over the rock.
All he saw was the two powerful legs and the full belly until from the ground he looked up at the chins of the two-headed troll.
Christian grinned from ear to ear. “Boy, you sure move quietly for a big guy!” he blurted as he gazed up at his friend.
Jok grinned. “Don’t just stand there staring at us. Help your friend up!”
Peter scrambled to his feet and stood, mouth open, staring up at the troll.
“Now you are a true believer.” said Christian softly. “Close your mouth before something jumps in.”
Peter closed his mouth.
“We better get going!” said Christian finally. “Do you have the orb?”
“You won’t be needing it.” said Nik. “We are going to ride on the North Wind.”
“You know the North Wind?” Questioned Peter finally finding his voice.
“We know many things and many things know us. Just because nobody believes the myths and stories anymore does not mean that they do not exist anymore. We just do things differently now. Once upon a time Trolls were needed to maintain the balance of nature. We were up front in our efforts but now things have changed and we are happy to be doing our jobs in the background where only a few know the true magic of the world around us.”
Christian nodded. It was the longest thing he had heard either of the heads say. “So does the princess really need help?”
Jok nodded. “Yes. And Bolarg is going to force her to marry him, so we have to hurry!”
“Is Bolarg a troll?” asked Peter.
“No, but he might be called one by people who can’t tell the difference between a giant, an ogre and a troll. Most of your kind do not care to see the differences. They see something in the woods or something they can’t explain and it’s a troll without a doubt. Even the fair folk can’t always tell us apart from other big and unusual creatures.” said Jok.
Nik bumped his brother’s head slightly with his own. “Now we must hurry. The North Wind is waiting.”
Christian felt a shiver as the snow around him began to whirl and blow as the wind kicked up.
Suddenly in the turmoil of nature a face seemed to take shape in the whiteness followed by a flowing blue white gown. Without a word the troll chose a boy for each hand and after picking them up gently, set them in the center of the flowing garment. To their surprise it felt like they were riding on the broad back of a man or perhaps a horse. Nik and Jok climbed on behind them and took hold of the folds in the robe.
“Hang on!” Cried both heads at once.
Christian and his friend barely had time to take a fist full of the feathery, silk like cloth before the rush of cold air nearly knocked them from their perch. In seconds the boys were looking down as the landscape rushed past below them.
“WEEEEEEEEE!!!” cried Christian releasing one hand like a bronco rider.
“Ahhhhhhh.” screamed Peter as he clutched the cloth tighter and buried his face in its folds.
They traveled for hours or was it just heart beat? Below them passed a large stone hat with a hole followed in seeming short order by a large stone face overlooking a beautiful valley. Three breathtaking castles in the sky whizzed by each grander and more glistening than the next. Christian tugged on Peter’s coat pointing to a large flying goat that looked to be carrying a princess. Peter opened his eyes briefly catching a glimpse of a strange spectral image on the goat’s rump before shutting his eyes tight and burying himself in the folds of the great wind’s garments. He would not look upward where stars seemed to whirl and dance on a velvet cloth. Even with his friend’s urging Peter refused to budge while Christian found himself wanting to reach out and touch the fiery points of light. Only childlike hesitancy to do wrong restrained him from risking the fall.
More heartbeats elapsed and more wonderful sights rushed by. Icy tundra replaced the rocky grays and browns of the world below. Reindeer herds could be seen ranging far and wide in the barren clime. Occasionally they could see bears and other exotic animals braving the cold. Christian’s heart soared with each moment while Peter clutched at the wind and hid in fear.
Suddenly the land before them turned green and bright as a barrier of high peaks gave way revealing the hidden valley as bright and green as any Norwegian Spring. On the far side of this awesome vision Christian saw the castle shimmering in an almost mystical light with a backdrop of snow capped mountains. Closer was a crest that rose almost fin like out of the ground dividing the valley in two. Christian wondered where the ‘end of the world’ was that he had seen from the castle but he did not have time to worry about it as he felt them descending rapidly into the valley.
The great North Wind wound his way down and as they did their side of the valley grew darker and more ominous. As they came around in one of the Circles, Christian saw a shear rock face on the outer ring of mountains. In the center was a carved door lead up to by seven golden steps that glowed with the dark luster of night. Christian tugged at Nik’s sleeve and pointed.
“The Lair of Bolarg.” Whispered the ‘left’ head above the diminishing roar of the wind as they touched down gently on the ground.
“The what?!” stammered Peter who remained curled up in a tight ball as the North Wind bowed and leapt back into the air.
“The home of the Great Ogre Bolarg.” restated Christian in breathless excitement. “Now stand up. We have to go rescue the Princess.”
With those words Christian took several steps toward the castle which now appeared much closer to the horizon then it looked from the air. Jok’s arm immediately reached out and restrained the boy.
“We must be careful.” said Nik quietly. “Bolarg may be an Ogre but he is not a stupid Ogre like so many of them are. He is cunning and learns from his mistakes and those made by others.”
Jok nodded. “:You would never get him to cut open his belly to fill it faster and I don’t think he’d fall for squeezing water out of a cheese. And for certain if he gets you in a bag you will be eaten.”
“Eaten?” Peter spluttered as he tried to squeeze into a tighter ball. “I don’t want to be eaten.”
Christian looked at his friend and gently reached down and pulled him up. “We won’t be eaten. We’re still smarter and luckier than any old Ogre, but it would be nice to have a sword and a magic potion or two.”
“Magic potions aren’t as good as you would think and most Ogres and fewer Trolls are not stupid enough to leave one hanging near a door for just anyone to drink.” Explained Nik
“It would be easier if we had a few hundred sheep or a box of gold and jewels or maybe a magic singing harp to trade for the princess. But that would only work if Bolarg was tired of her rubbing his head and feet.” added Jok rubbing his own head lightly.
“Well we don’t have a bridge and a billy-goat.” complained Peter. “So what are we going to do. You brought us here. Don’t you have a plan?”
“You don’t want billy-goats.” grumbled Jok. “Smelly, sneaky critters.”
Christian grinned knowingly and looked at the bright sun then at his friend.
Sensing his thoughts Nil looked up at the yellow orb and smiled. “It is hard to explain.” he said looking down at the boy, “but let me just say that we are too lighthearted for anything bad to happen in the sun. Someday, maybe, but not now.”
“Now we must save the princess.” said Jok. “The Ogre will not expect us to come by day and so maybe he will be out spying on the castle or hunting for food. Or better yet asleep deep in his lair.”
“What makes this princess so important?” mumbled Peter. “And why does the light and everything seem to grow scarier closer to that door? Where are we anyway?”
“That is the way of Ogres.” said Nik. “We are in the Valley of the Northern Lights. It is the daughter of the King whom Bolarg has taken. Bolarg hates the lights because they keep him awake so he holds the princess so the lights don’t happen. Bolarg also knows, like all other Ogres, that when some Princess rubs your head it is very relaxing and helps you sleep. He will keep her until the king allows her to marry him and then it will be too late.”
Peter continued to look skeptical as Christian listened intently.
“And this is important to us because?” asked Peter finally.
Nik raised a hairy eyebrow. “It is the Northern Lights that help us have our Troll magic and it is that magic that we use to help nature. It also protects us.”
“Yea, it protects them from us and the sun and who knows what else.” explained Christian pulling on his friend’s arm as he again started toward the door.
Nik again held up his hand. “So we must save her or no troll will be safe anywhere in the world.”
“I still wanna go home.” whined Peter as Christian again grabbed his friends arm.
“I have an idea!” grinned Christian turning and looking at the door. “Peter, how loud can you cry?”
After several minutes of whispered planning the trio started toward the great door that sealed Bolarg’s home. For the first few steps, Christian had to virtually drag his friend over the irregular ground spotted here and there with thickets and brambles. They had left their heavy winter gear cached in a bunch of rocks so they could move faster and be more comfortable but Peter’s steps still seemed burdened with fear and hesitation. Christian repeated the plan and encouraged his friend but progress was still slow for several minutes.
Perhaps it was the simplicity of Christopher’s plan or perhaps it was the determination that Nik and Jok radiated as they walked beside the boys but gradually Peter began to show greater confidence. With each step his resolve seemed to grow until after several meters Peter was moving as fast as the others and Christian began to wonder if his friend would be able to cry as planned.
There really were not many places to hide between where they ‘landed’ and the massive jewel encrusted doors of the Ogre’s home. Because of this they decided on the direct approach hoping that no self respecting Ogre would expect a Two headed Troll and two boys to approach his castle in broad daylight. Their plan seemed to work because they were able to get to the ornate black door unchallenged.
Up close. The door was a beautiful black onyx stone polished smooth and inlaid with jewels. It was outlined in gold and even in the shadow of the ominous cliffs that loomed over it the jewels seemed to glisten with a light of their own. Christian wanted more than anything to pry a jewel off but he resisted the urge. Peter, with his new found courage, seemed to be unable to resist as he stood awestruck with his mouth hanging open. Before Christian could cry out Peter’s hand and seemed to caress one of the jewels, which magically seemed to leap into his hand.
“WHO DARES STEAL MY HOUSE?” came a rumbling voice from within.
Christian watched fearfully as Peter’s new found courage melted as he tried desperately to put back the jewel only to knock several others to the ground.
“I SMELL A THIEF!” bellowed the voice and just then the door boomed open catching Nik and Jok hard sending them crashing down the stairs to the ground.
Peter screamed as he began to back slowly away from the ugly being.
Christian’s head darted side to side as he tried to determine how to save his stricken friends. The still form of the troll terrified him and he fought his instincts to race to the side of his big pals. Peter was sure to become an Ogre appetizer as he tried to crawl away. Christian knew that if he did not act fast all would be lost.
“THIEF!” grunted the Ogre. “TASTY!” he added as he grabbed Peter by the leg and began to lift him up.
Peter’s high pitched wail roused Christian who darted to the door.
“Hey handsome!” he cried out as he swept a dozen jewels off the door into his hand, “Betcha can’t catch me!”
The Ogre roared as if stung as he watched Christian race down the stairs and out onto the menacing countryside. Without a thought he cast Peter aside and stalked down the stairs after the fleeing thief. The monster knew that the boy was fast but lacked the stamina for a long race. It would be only a few hundred meters and he would have the boy down.
Frantically, Christian turned and flung one of the gems at the Ogre. The sharp edged jewel caught him on the forehead and bounced off. The Ogre paused and looked dazed for a moment then bent over and picked up the shiny bobble before striding forward once again. To his dismay another of the gems flew away to the right and another to his left. Roaring with anger, the Ogre rushed first left than right to retrieve his jewels.
Christian raced forward. He now held only five jewels and as he ran he would stop and throw one of the jewels in a random direction as hard as he could. Each time the Ogre would roar and turn aside to gather his treasure but still he was gaining on the boy who was now showing signs of tiring.
Christian raced on clutching the final jewel as he fumbled for the string he wore around his neck. The whistle, attached to it seemed to have a mind of its own and would not move as he tugged and pulled to get it out. Often the string would elude his fingers until finally he tugged with all his might hoping that the string would not break as it tensed. With a soft snap the whistle finally came out and Christian’s hand floundered as he tried to bring the silver noisemaker to his lips only to be forced to dodge as the ground gaining Ogre whipped at him with his long arms.
Suddenly Christian’s foot caught a rock and the boy stumbled forward, striking another rock which tripped him. Christian inhaled and would have cried out except for the whistle now pinched in his lips. For a half a moment the air was filled with a clear sharp almost piercing tone of the metal alarm. Christian hit the ground ripping his heavy pants and the whistle flew from his mouth. Stabs of pain bathed his body as he rolled over onto his bleeding knees. In the distance the open door of the fortress lair of the Ogre seemed to beckon him mockingly, offering safety.
If he could just get inside and seal the door. He thought.
With the courage and foolhardiness of youth Christian rose and began to run back toward the door. He did not see the surprised Ogre stand mutely for several seconds before he began loping after him.
Christian again felt himself falling, this time in slow motion. He imagined he heard his friends calling for him to get up and join them in the castle but he could not move. All he could do was lay there and feel his terrible pursuer draw closer. He wanted to stand and fling the last jewel at the ogre but he could not move his arm that was pinned under him. He wanted to cry but his mouth was full of grime and blood. He heard the Ogre roar in delight as it smelled the blood of his victim. Christian could smell the foul stench of the Creature as it drew close. With a deep sadness and resignation Christian tried to will himself to sink deeper into the grainy dirt in hopes of making a miraculous escape. It did not come and he could almost feel the Ogres shadow as it came over him. He waited for the killing blow to fall.
The Ogre roared defiantly as the land seemed to darken more around them. Christian heard a loud pop and then silence.
The smell of Ogre breath began to fade and the silence deepened for the several seconds the boy lay willing himself to disappear. He could feel his heart beat. He could hear his name being called. Confusion filled his mind as he rolled over and looked around. The Ogre was no where to be seen. Trembling he looked around and saw someone rushing toward him.
“Peter?” he thought groggily as he looked around. No Ogre could be seen until he looked up. In the distance he could see a large dragon with a very angry Ogre dangling by one arm from its claw.
Still shaking, he instinctively turned at the sound of his name. Running toward him was Peter followed by Nik and Jok who appeared to be holding his head.
“Christian! Are you okay?” yelled Peter. “Did you see that? The Dragon came! Just like you said! He grabbed that ol’ Ogre and ‘BAM’ they were flying away. That Dragon will have a great supper!”
A chuckle broke the silence that followed as Christian tried gazed at his two friends.
“Oh he won’t eat him.” said Nik softly. “Oh he’ll play with him for a while then let him go. Ogres do not taste good to dragons but they don’t like them and seem to enjoy making their lives miserable.”
“But then he’ll do it all again!”: complained Peter.
Again the Troll chuckled. “No. Ogres may be mean and sneaky but once they fail completely or incur the wrath of a Dragon they keep to themselves for a few decades. Bolarg will be gone for some time.
Christian’s eyes widened as he looked from Peter to Nik to Jok who was still holding a rag over what appeared to be a gash over his left eye.
“Are you okay?” he asked the head.
“It was close but I am almost healed. Watch this.” said Jok removing the rag.
The boys gaped in astonishment as the wound closed and healed over the next few minutes. Christian had once heard that Trolls regenerate but to see it was astonishing to say the least.
“I wish I could do that.” groaned Christian as the aches of his wounds began to sink in.
“We should go home?” Whined Peter as he looked at his friends bleeding knees and head.
“The Princess” Blurted Christian suddenly as he lost all sensation of pain. “She needs our help!”
Mother. Hartvig gazed steadily at her son and his two friends as they stood inside the door of the house. She did not know what to think as she finally got Christian to remove his coat revealing the wounds on his head just as her husband had entered the entry area. She had noticed his knees but had been unable to do anything but listen to Peter’s rambling explanation of what had happened.
“Slower, Peter, slower.” Said Father Hartvig noticing his wife’s frustration.
“We rescued a Princess!” exclaimed Peter before Christian could open his mouth. “A Christian was chased by an Ogre and he tripped and fell and was almost smashed but a dragon grabbed the Ogre and carried him away! We rode the North Wind and saw the white castle and three other castles that were floating in the air and we came home to the woods and the princess and I had to help Christian home because Nik and Jok had to do something in the woods before he came here!”
Christian’s parents looked at him and then at Peter before turning their attention to the young girl with golden hair and piercing blue eyes.
“And you are the Princess?” asked Mr. Hartvig softly.
The young women nodded.
“Permit me to introduce to you Princess Natalya of the Northern Kingdom of Myth.”
Said Christian taking hold of her hand. He was certain he felt a spark as they touched.
“Natalya?” repeated his mother.
“Princess Natalya.” insisted Christian. “She was kidnaped by the Ogre and we found her locked in the cupboard of the Ogre’s home after the dragon carried him away.”
“She was crying and that is how we found her. She said the Ogre had told her he was going to eat some thieves and had locked her up. I found the key on the table by a cold piece of mutton.” bragged Peter. “Show him the jewels we took from the door!”
Mr. Hartvig looked at his son, Peter and the strange girl and shook his head. “I think my son’s vivid imagination is rubbing off on you Peter.” he laughed shaking his head. “And as for you young lady, I do not know how these boys convinced you to go along with this story. Who are you here visiting?”
“She’s a Princess, dad.” blurted Christian finally realizing that no one believed them.
“And if she is a princess then that troll of yours must be outside the door!” announced his dad opening the door quickly.
“Good evening, Mr. Hartvig.” Said a low voice just outside the door.
It took several minutes for Christian’s dad to close his mouth while the boy and the others stood silently chuckling behind him. Only the princess noticed as Christian quietly counted a fistful of sparkling jewels into his mother’s open hand.
Final thoughts: The idea came from one of my great aunts on my mother’s side, who was a school teacher. I often wondered why everybody referred to her mother as “princess” and perhaps now we all know why. Grandpa Martin