Chapter 11 - The Early History of the Trolls
Long, long ago, even before the people of Thor, or Odin, or Frey came to Northern Europe, Norway was inhabited by a race of trolls. Following the age of endless winter, warm winds began to bless the Great Sea, and Jumala swept away the ancient fog that covered Norway’s mountains and fjords. There dawned a new age of many sun-bright days and blue skies, revealing the great beauty and wisdom of Jumala, the Creator of all things.
Before the trolls came to Norway, they lived north of the Mountains of Eurartu and east of the Salt Sea. They were miners and fashioners of gold and art, makers of wine, and traders in salt and incense. After many years, the trolls became numerous there, but the wars of men and many years of burning drought began to make their lands desolate. For many years their elders were vexed and sought the council of Jumala.
One night in a dream, one of mankind dressed in the manner of a high-ranking warrior came to Rusa the Wise, the oldest of the elders. Over his shoulder and around his waist, he wore a sash of scarlet red. Inscribed on his breastplate and golden shoulder clasp were words that Rusa could not read or understand. But he spoke kindly to Rusa, telling him not to be afraid but to be glad, because the cries of the trolls had been heard and a wondrous land of awesome beauty and riches had been prepared for them, but very far away. They would be given an unmistakable sign and a guide. The sign would be three falcons in flight, each carrying an olive branch, who would come and lay the olive branches at the feet of Rusa before the Assembly of Elders. These falcons would come from the north in seven days and would be their guides to the new land. The warrior also told Rusa that the journey would be long and pass through many strange lands, but he and the friends of the falcons would protect them and make sure of their safe arrival in the new land. The elders believed Rusa and decided to wait for this sign and the falcons. All the troll clans agreed and prepared for a long and possibly dangerous journey.
After seven days, the falcons appeared and laid olive branches at the feet of Rusa before the Assembly of the Elders. The whole tribe was there waiting in anticipation. As Rusa signaled with an uplifted spear, they gave a great shout and began to follow to the north. But it took them two years and two months, enduring many trials to get there. Sometimes the warrior appeared again to Rusa to give him encouragement and wisdom. The annals of these trials were kept and preserved by the elders.
They did not take the route that the people of Odin would take many centuries later, nor did they follow the route that the Vanir would take. They traveled north along the eastern shore of the Salt Sea and then west along the northern shore and crossed a narrow water onto a great island in the sea, although many of the ancient dragons, who were as tall as four arm spans and longer than six, still lived there. Some tried to block their passage, but the trolls were able to deceive them and pass by. This saga is written in the annals of Rusa.
They traveled west and then north from there and crossed another narrow water to the shore again. From the shore they traveled northwest until they reached a great river, which they followed north. The trolls preferred the rivers because traveling was easier and they were teeming with all manner of delicious fish, a favorite troll food. While trolls are very sure-footed in the mountains, the highland areas were avoided in this region because of the danger of dragons, the great-black-wolves, and the great-fanged-cats. Still, where thick forest cover stood near the river, the trolls had to keep watch for such creatures, and the sons of Anaku, especially at night. A record of these harrowing events was recorded in the annals. There were also many large bears in the forests, who came to the river to find fish, but they were peaceful unless alarmed or annoyed.
A surviving record of four ancient parchment pieces, probably copying a portion of Rusa’s Annals, was found in a cave near the Hardangerfjord in May 1905, but little attention was paid to it until recently. It was inscribed in Old Norse and an unknown language. The fragmented Norse portion was an appreciative praise of how the trolls were often assisted in their long and dangerous journey by animals. It told of how a pack of huge black wolves waiting in ambush for the trolls, where a thick forest crowded near the river, were driven off by bears. This may explain why the red banners of the Punainen trolls had the image of a bear in their center.
The trolls later found that they had been befriended by gray wolves, who were smaller but far more organized and cunning and much swifter than the larger and evil-looking black wolves. The gray wolves followed the falcons as a vanguard of scouts for the trolls. Another pack of gray wolves followed the last of the troll column as a rear guard. Several other gray packs scouted and protected the flanks of the troll column. The falcons, seeing danger from far off, sometimes seemed to be coordinating the position of the gray wolf packs. The black wolves seldom violated the perimeter of gray wolves. When they did, they were easily driven off after a brief skirmish with fast-moving gray packs responding to the call of gray scouts or the ever-vigilant falcons.
Near the source of the river, the falcons led them to another river, which they also followed north until they came to Lake Ladoga, which is east of the Baltic Sea. They passed around the eastern side of Lake Ladoga and continued north until they found the White Sea. They turned west from there until they reached the northern edge of the Great Gulf (of Bothnia). As winter was beginning, they camped there for four months before going on.
The trolls also avoided any contact with mankind, who were likely to attack them out of fear. But the reindeer people were different. They were simple herders whose care of nature and animals was very similar to that of trolls. Rusa also found that they knew the name of Jumala and many of his teachings. Their language was difficult, but trolls learn languages easily. Rusa and the troll elders spent much time teaching the reindeer people more about Jumala. From Rusa’a records of the reindeer people’s language, modern scholars have made some progress in understanding the troll alphabet and vocabulary, although not all the Annals and records of Rusa have been found.
When spring came, the reindeer people went west and south along the shore of the Gulf with the trolls until a passage of connecting rivers was reached that would lead them west and then through a mountain river passage to the Trondheimfjord in Norway. The reindeer people did not cross beyond the mountain ridges because dragons still lived there.
Finally, in the late spring, the trolls reached the Trondheimfjord and the River Nid and began to spread south along the Norwegian coast and into the fjords and mountains. And there they were grateful and blessed and became skilled craftsmen and wise in many things. They cherished the natural beauty of the land and tended it like a garden. They were also kind and loving guardians to every creature.
Seven clans of trolls arrived in Norway, and each began to take root in their chosen home. The Vihanne settled around the Trondheimfjord and the River Nid and were especially skilled in woodwork and leather goods The Valoisa, the clan of Ketel Flatnose’s ancestors, settled around the Geirangerfjord but also held lands along the Rauma River and the Romsfjord. They were the keepers of the Annals and skilled in making tools and things of beauty. The Punainen settled around the Hardangerfjord and Byfjord and nearby areas in Hordaland and were skilled in all things mechanical and became famous traders. The Keltainen settled around the Stavangerfjord and Boknafjord in Rogaland and were especially skilled in the crafts of shipbuilding and sailing. They also made fine jewelry of silver, amber, and shells. The Harmaati settled in the mountains of Oppland and Hedmark and were miners and metalworkers. The Harmaati banner was red with the image of a gray wolf in its center. The Sinnenka inhabited the mountains west of the Oslofjord and were specialists in tools and fine gold and silver jewelry. The Synkasti lived around and beneath the Great Troll Mountain and specialized in making gold and silver jewelry and metal weapons and armor.
For hundreds of years all the trolls followed the way of Jumala and his messengers. As many generations passed, the seven tribes followed the teachings of Jumala in varying ways and degrees, but the truest were the Valoisa.
But about the time the peoples of Thor, Odin, and Frey began coming to Norway, the Synkasti, who considered themselves the wisest of the trolls, began to take issue with many of the teachings of Jumala. They began to complain of Jumala’s injustices to them for not granting them some of the gifts of the Valoisa. They also began to think they were wiser and more just than Jumala. They claimed equality with Jumala and proclaimed that equality, freedom, and democracy were the highest standards and above any of Jumala’s standards. Finally, they began to teach that pleasure was a sacred right, that power and treasure were more important than right, that lies were justified by favorable results, and that violence was justified by a favorable outcome. They began to call what was good, evil, and what was evil, good.
More of the culture and ways of the Synkasti will be told later.