The Becoming of the Trolls

by Yilien, Priest of Valor

The mortal Ulgar, renowned for his calm demeanour, his wisdom, and his honor, was loved by most all of the Gods. He spent many an hour under the old birch in the Ithmia, contemplating the meaning of existence or discussing the essence of being with his peers. It was not uncommon for him to give lectures to or host discussions among his mortal brethren. Not only was his mind gifted, he possessed a remarkably steady arm and was an excellent sculptor and artist, truly a favourable man.

But Ulgar lacked in one trait. He was no warrior. His small posture and crooked legs carried him slowly across the lands. His skin was pale in contrast to the young warriors he watched from the shade while they worked out in the clearings of the forest.

On a cold winter's night, The Muse, Iosyne, had ordered a gathering of sorts. Mortals from across the realm attended this fest. Poetry and prose were read, plays were performed, and all were joyous. At the pinnacle of the evening, Ulgar was to deliver an essay. He spoke long and zealously of the path of the warrior, an epic of great skill pleasing the Muse and Her Siblings. One Deity, however, was not pleased with the contents of his speech and pondered a plot to scorch the mortal's mind.

The next day, as Ulgar sat and watched the warriors train from under the old birch as many a day, he perceived a rustling in the undergrowth behind him. When he rose to stand and looked to see what he had heard, his eyes met a most wondrous creature of great beauty, a young maiden, who emerged from the woods. Her figure was as if it were perfectly drawn by the Muse Herself. She had the blackest hair imaginable accompanied by fiery blue eyes. She strode toward him. Ulgar trembled slightly as she drew near and laid a gentle peck on his forehead.

"Greetings, Ulgar," she said.

"Good day, fair maiden," Ulgar replied. "You know my name?"

The maiden smiled slightly and said, "Your name and your fame, wisest of all mortals."

Ulgar, flattered by the words this beautiful young woman spoke to him, became enraptured with her beauty.

"Tell me thy name, fair maiden, and allow me to accompany you on your path through the woods. Danger can lurk in the canopy," said Ulgar, a tremor in his voice.

"Though your wisdom is renowned, your protection may not help me, Ulgar. Perhaps one of these young men can accompany me," she said, glancing toward the warriors training in the clearing nearby.

Ulgar sighed as he said, "I would give anything to gain their strength and posture."

The woman smiled and said, "Would you forego your wisdom to gain strength and posture, in order to serve me?"

Her electrifying gaze met his eyes, and he frowned slightly. Then, as if struck by the lightning of her beauty, all doubt fell from his mind, and he uttered a wholehearted "Aye." When he opened his eyes once more, he noticed the maiden's blue eyes had subdued to a shade of grey, her black hair wavered as the wind suddenly picked up, and she grew in size until she towered several feet above him. Fear struck Ulgar's heart as he realized he stood eye to eye with Chakrasul.

A soft chuckle echoed from the frame of the Goddess. "And so falls the wisest of all mortals before Me and My seduction. You will serve Me well, Ulgar, a witless, mindless object of power. Strength to you!"

Ulgar held his breath as he suddenly felt a change occurring around and within him, while his body grew in size and strength, his mind blanked. He noticed how his skin thickened and took on a ruddy grey-green color and his formerly crooked legs now stood muscular and strong under his considerable torso. As each fiber, each muscle of his body rebuilt itself, a dim haze fell deeper and deeper over his once cunning mind. He lost the power of speech and was no longer able to think coherently. When the change had stopped, Ulgar fell to the ground, exhausted.

When Ulgar awakened, he found himself within the forests, yet he knew not how or when. Nearly all recollection of what had passed had left his mind. He wandered endlessly through the forests in his new form, searching for answers to questions he barely understood. When he came across the old birch he was so accustomed to sitting under, a single thought crossed his mind, and an eerie feeling that he had once been an intelligent being settled in his heart. This feeling grew so strong that Ulgar picked up an edged stone and wounded himself deeply. The wound caused by the stone bled lightly, and though the pain stayed, he witnessed his skin closing up under his eyes. That soft feminine chuckle filled his head. "You will not get away so easily, Ulgar." Once again, Ulgar laid himself down and slept.

"Wake up, Ulgar," boomed a male voice in his ear. Following his primal instincts, Ulgar quickly got to his feet and found himself facing a knight arrayed in shining armor. An imposing figure of great height, long, straight nose, firm-set jaw, and high, aristocratic cheekbones, golden hair tied neatly back with a leather cord. He realized he stood before Arion, the God of Valor. Ulgar stumbled back and nearly fell to the ground.

"Your wish has been one of weakness and folly, Ulgar. True strength does not merely lie in the brawn of muscle. Strength also resides within the heart. I pity you, for you have always been a wise and valiant man. I cannot wholly undo what My Sister has done; you will nevermore be who you were. Yet all is not lost. Pledge yourself to My path, strengthen yourself against the seduction of corruption, and I will take you, and all the progeny you will bear, to be My own. Speak now, Ulgar!"

Upon hearing the words, Ulgar felt again the gift of language bestowed upon his mind. His thoughts now slightly more organized, he stuttered, "Please, Lord."

"So be it, Ulgar. The path will be long and arduous, but you will learn once more. Sleep now, first of the Trolls."