Salutations once again, merry mortals!
At first, I was somewhat annoyed that today’s question was not about me, my amazing adventures, or even dragons as a whole. However, Geldrin reassured me that the reason questions like this are delivered to my lair is because I am known worlds-wide as an expert in nearly every field! I guess one can’t have the nomenclature of “All-Seeing Eye” without being asked periodically what my eye has seen…
“Hail and well met, fair dragon! I am currently writing a new guide on monsters, yet I find one section terribly lacking… Being that you’re an expert on all things, monsters not excluded, pray tell—what do you know about trolls?” Volothamp Geddarm
Oh, that this would be an easy answer! If you had asked about a simpler creature, say a turtle or llama, then I could respond with a “they make good soup.” But the subject of trolls is a surprisingly complicated manner. Firstly, there’s the question of which troll you’re even asking about…
There seems to be some disagreement on what even constitutes a “troll.” Some folks claim to have met miniscule, wild-haired, musical creatures calling themselves trolls, deep in the heart of fey forests. Others, like our dear Geldrin, say they know mortals who have been so obsessed with sowing discord and frustration that they gain the moniker of “being a troll,” though I have no idea how that even makes sense. Yet even some more confused scholars have labeled completely separate creatures as trolls! I even once heard that a rather large and dimwitted ogre was called a troll by some children at a magical academy, but how they could possibly confuse these two creatures is beyond me!
As far as I am concerned, there is one classic or “true” troll. These have slimy, green skin, matted hair, and stand a towering nine feet in height. (Towering here being compared to a creature such as our resident gnome… Compared to my impressive form they are miniscule.) The one key thing they have in common, though, is their ability to regenerate.
Yes, trolls for all their unimpressive features are able to regrow their bodies at an incredible rate, nearly regardless of what manner of violence tore them apart in the first place! I’ve heard tales of a group of adventurers who, after hours of hacking apart a dead troll, still had to continue their vigilant violence. For hack and slash as they might, there was always a bit of green, viscous viscera that began wiggling after a few minutes. If left alone, even this tiny piece of troll will begin to regrow, and given a shockingly short amount of time, you’ll once again have a fully formed troll ready to claw and consume any mortal it can get its grubby hands on. They say these dullards are still there to this day, taking turns hacking at the wriggling troll flesh.
If any of you fine readers ever meet these idiotic adventurers and their ineffective vigilance, please put them out of their ignorant misery by sharing this one easy bit of troll knowledge: trolls can be slain permanently if you know the trick, and how easy of a trick it is! Simply make sure you kill the repulsive creature with a healthy dose of fire. It’s true! Blasting the monsters with a bit of flame can halt the reforming process, finishing off the vile creatures for good.
One interesting aspect of this regeneration is the seemingly chaotic nature of it. Though similar aspects of troll will usually grow from a lost troll limb, head, or even mass of flesh, sometimes mutations occur. Trolls with a handful of arms can be found if their arms were cut off repeatedly, while two or more heads can also form if a would-be hero attempted multiple decapitations. A troll that was assaulted by necrotic magics, maybe by some foolish necromancer, can sometimes become imbued with said energy and become a rot troll! In fact, so many mutations of troll exist that there are arguments that they should all be considered different creatures, though usually I would say the similarities outweigh the differences enough to consider all of these diverse beings still part of the same species.
This is all said with one major exception—the bridge troll. For some inexplicable reason, sometimes a troll will mutate in such a way that they become a seemingly different creature. Still green, large, and with the defining regenerative abilities, one could be excused for assuming that bridge trolls are no different than their duller counterparts. However, whether it’s because of multiple sword wounds to the head, some blessing from a mischievous higher power, an imbuement of sphynx blood, or just a completely random mutation altogether, bridge trolls, as their names may imply, find a bridge, sit under it, and spend all their days thinking about riddles. Yes, riddles! As silly as it sounds, these obsessive giants are actually capable of articulate speech and surprisingly clever ideas.
I came upon a bridge troll one time myself after landing on a passive caravan of tasty traders. One of them began to flee with me in pursuit and ran right across a rickety bridge spanning a wide chasm. Right before this mortal reached the other side, a green arm reached up from underneath the bridge and caught him in his tracks. A slimy troll clambered up and held the human in his hands, shouting at him about trying to cross before answering his riddle.
“Thanks for catching my dessert, troll!” I called out from the other side of the ravine. “Now hand him over and I’ll be on my way.”
“No, no! Human cross MY bridge! He must answer riddle, or I be the one eating him,” said the troll.
“HA! That is foolish, even for your kind. Do you know how easily I could incinerate you? Would you like to feel how hot my breath can get?!”
The troll eyed me nervously, looking back at his squirming, pleading prize before trying a different tactic.
“Maybe… you could answer riddle. I make a good deal, yes, yes. I ask riddle, then if you guess answer, I give you human dessert. If you bad answer, I eat human, yes, yes?”
“Sure,” I agreed, stepping a few paces closer. “Ask away, vile beast.”
The troll put one spindly claw to his chin and a glazed look fell across his eyes. It seemed as though he was thinking of his best possible question—one that could do the impossible and stump a dragon. After a moment of strained thought, the troll gave out a mighty “aha!” and shared with me this riddle:
“What always run, but never walk.
Often murmur, never talk.
Have a bed but never sleep.
Open mouth that never eat?”
A second later I answered with the only correct option—“Fire.”
The troll looked elated that he had stumped the dragon for only a second before I incinerated him and my human treat. Pulling what was left of my meal from the smoking pile of troll flesh, I let out a small chuckle and asked no one in particular a much better riddle: “Is it ever a good idea to keep a dragon from his meal? The answer is a blazing ‘no!’”
I left the smoldering remains of the foolish troll there, for one other factor is key about these creatures—they all taste absolutely terrible. Horrible. Worse than most other beings. The crispy trader tasted as good as ever, though!
And thus, this exhausts much of my general knowledge about trolls. Hopefully the more inquiring minds among you readers found this stimulating. Just keep this information in mind next time you cross a seemingly empty bridge! If a troll crawls out from under it, just say the answer is fire and burn its foolish riddles to a crisp! Until next time!