MONSTER FEATURE! FIENDS OF ALBION. THIS WEEK: TROLLS.
Albion’s leading newspaper is proud to present the third in a series of interviews with noted historian and monster expert Atticus Croddle. Investigative reporter Penelope Chumley speaks with the eccentric creaturologist.
Having grown accustomed to the abundance of oddities populating Mr Croddle’s home, I don’t immediately see what appears to be a brand new feature: a thick, congealing pool of blood towards the back of his living room. It seeps from under the door of the small cupboard our more attentive readers will remember being padlocked on our previous visit.
PC: You seem to be losing a lot of blood.
AC: Oh, that? There’s a fault with the jam storage system.
PC: You keep jam in that cupboard?
PC: Not hobbes, or rotting corpses or perhaps some other unimaginable monstrosity?
AC: Just jam.
His unblinking stare bores into me. I move on.
PC: I thought today we could talk about trolls. What can you tell us about these rare and fantastical giants?
AC: Well, for a long time, Trolls were thought of as Nature’s way of letting us know it’s angry, but there is little scientific proof to back that up. What does seem clear is that, on occasion, by strange, unnatural means, areas of our world become imbued with consciousness. They rise out of the earth capable of thought, capable of movement, and capable of crushing a human being with one blow.
PC: If they really are products of Nature, how come they exhibit such human characteristics as legs, arms and eyes?
AC: It is a mystery as profound as our own existence. After all, who decided that we should have legs, arms and eyes? There are some who believe trolls were originally created by druids who made them in their own image. Others contend that Nature simply emulated the shape of the creatures it sought to annihilate.
PC: Fascinating. And are there particular parts of the world where this phenomenon arises?
AC: It would seem not. Nature simply does the best with the materials it has available. Thus, in a forest, one might expect to find a tree troll, all vines, bark and stone. In the mountains and caves, one is more likely to find rock trolls, whereas marshes are home to swamp trolls, and so on and so forth. What is common to all of them is their terrible, brute strength, their overwhelming territoriality and hostility, and their uncanny skill of throwing things at anyone who dares to get too close.
PC: Throwing things? Such as?
AC: Boulders mostly. Though, as with all of Nature, we’ve seen some evolution in how they attack those who cross their path. There have been reports of trolls spitting out vicious stinging insects, and some who are even capable of raising hollow men.
PC: How can anyone hope to survive an attack by such behemoths?
AC: Few do, but one must remember that Nature is not perfect and, as such, trolls can be defeated with enough guile and courage. I should know, I bested one myself once.
AC: I have the proof right here.
Mr Croddle reaches over to a nearby table and hands me a small plant pot with a clump of moss growing out of its soil.
PC: It looks like moss.
AC: It’s the scalp of a tree troll.
PC: Where’s the rest of it?
AC: Well, of course, it was far too heavy to carry off. But I think that is a fine trophy nonetheless.
PC: The moss.
AC: Troll scalp.
As he snatches the plant pot away, a low, laboured moaning fills the room, as if some not-quite-dead-yet victim were trying to cling on to consciousness despite terrible pain and blood-loss. I glance at the cupboard.
PC: Mr Croddle, your jam is moaning.
AC: I look forward to your next visit Ms Chumley. I believe it will be your last one, yes?
You can read the previous edition of the BOWERSTONE TIMES here.