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Trolling For Answers

This story was written for  Fantasy Faire 2019 as part of the Literary Festival Writing Challenge – Trollhaugen. The region of Trollhaugen is the home base for all the various events that took place during the Faire’s Literary Festival.

Photograph by Lori Alden Holuta (Ceejay Writer in Second Life)
All photographs by Lori Alden Holuta (Ceejay Writer in Second Life)

In fact, our troll is so big that we’d hold large gatherings in the cavern of his mouth! We had a packed… er…  tongue, for author Elizabeth Bear’s visits.

Trolling For Answers
By Ceejay Writer

“…and the troll became so engrossed in the book that he read all through the night and did not notice the sunrise. As the first rays of light beamed across our land, they touched the troll, and he turned to stone. That was a thousand years ago. Now of course, the troll and the book are an important part of our village of Trollhaugen.”

“Mother? I have questions.” The small boy, who had just turned eight a fortnight ago, squirmed in his nest of quilts and pillows.

Mother smiled and laid the history book on the nightstand. “Yes, Humphrey? What sort of questions?”

(Fun Fact: Most Trollhaugenites are named after parts of the stone formation that dominates their valley. Humphrey had been named in honor of the troll’s curved back. His best pals in school were Armand Aleg and Lucy Tooth.)

Humphrey took a deep breath and scrunched up his eyebrows in thought. “Where did the troll get that book?”

Mother pondered that. “I’m not sure. But I’ve heard some people say that it might have come from the Athenaeum library.”

“Did that library have really, really big shelves? Cause the book is huge! How could a library have books that big?”

It was a valid question, Mother had to admit. “Well, perhaps magic was involved. Maybe an embiggening spell was cast on the book by the troll after he brought it back to our valley?”

Humphrey seemed content with that answer. “Well, sure, that sounds right.” Seconds later, his questioning expression returned. “But how could he get into the library in the first place? Did he reach through a window? And how would he pick the book off the shelf? With huge tweezers? I wonder if those tweezers are buried somewhere in the valley. We should look. Mother, can I have a shovel?”

Mother shook her head firmly and pointed an index finger at Humphrey. “You are not digging holes all over Trollhaugen. There are laws protecting our wildflowers!”

The boy shrugged. Shovels were fun, but he liked the fields of wildflowers too, so he was content to leave them alone. Then his inquisitive brain began to churn again. “Who taught the troll to read? Maybe his mom knew how and taught him. But where did she get books from? Did she have enormous tweezers too?”

“Of course she didn’t have tweezers! There’s no such thing as giant tweezers! Child, it’s far past your bedtime. Now hush and close your eyes.”

Humphrey dutifully closed his eyes… for all of three seconds before they blinked open again. “Why didn’t the troll’s mom make him go to sleep? You never let me stay up till sunrise. Oh, I know. The troll was a grown-up and he could do anything he wanted to do.”

All Mother wanted to do right now was enjoy some peace and quiet, and perhaps a cup of calming tea. “Please, Humphrey, you very much need to go to sleep right now. It’s important that you go to sleep.”

“You sound worried, Mother. Are you afraid I’ll stay up till sunrise? Oh my gosh, we’re trolls in disguise, aren’t we? I knew it! Well sorta, I maybe suspected it, but I bet it’s tru—”

Through gritted teeth, Mother uttered, “Humphrey Leftear, you are not a troll. I am not a troll. Your father is not a troll. There are no trolls left in Trollhaugen. Go. To. Sleep.


The exasperated woman glared, determined not to take the bait.

“Mother, can I have a pet? Lucy Tooth’s cat just had six kittens! She asked me if I wanted one.”

The unexpected whiplash turn in the conversation left Mother stammering. “Ki-ki-kitten? Well, your father and I have talked about getting you a pet when you are old enough to take care of one. Do you think you can do that?”

“Oh, sure! I’m plenty big enough to be assponsible—”


“Oh, right, responsible. For a pet. And I want to name it Toenail.”

“If you promise to go to sleep right now, you can get Toenail the kitten tomorrow morning, all right, sweetie?”

“Okay! Good night!” the boy said, yawning.

“Good night. I love you,” Mother said with relief, giving her son a gentle kiss on the cheek. She blew out the hurricane lamp on the nightstand, and tiptoed from the room.

As she pulled the bedroom door shut, Mother heard her son muttering to himself, “Bet we are super-secret trolls. That would explain a lot.”

Sometimes, good parenting involves just walking away while you can.

Here are more photographs of our favorite troll and the village of Trollhaugen. Click any picture to invoke an embiggening spell!

The village of Trollhaugen, and the Bookfold Woods (Photo by Lori Alden Holuta/Ceejay Writer)
Overhead view of the region, showing the series of bridges built over the centuries to climb up (and into!) the troll. (Photo by Lori Alden Holuta/Ceejay Writer)
Living on a stone book can make for an idyllic existence. (Photo by Lori Alden Holuta/Ceejay Writer)