The Troll Who Sang a Song

A troll holds three men in a cave. Aak fictionspawn

Once, a long, long time ago…

“Hey! I’ll make you a deal,” said Espen the Ashlad from the troll’s hand. “Let’s have a singing contest. If you can sing louder and stronger than me, we’ll not only let you eat us, but we’ll even prepare ourselves as the most pleasant meal you’ll ever have. You see, I’m the head chef of the King’s kitchen, and these two are my main assistants.”

“What? We’re not – Ouch”

The Ashlad kept talking and his brother Per held his leg. “If you lose, well, you’ll just eat us as we are.”

The troll rubbed his beard for a long while. He tried to figure out why the little creatures would go into such a bet, but the thinking made him hungry. He wanted to find out what kind of meal these three cooks could create

“OK,” said he. “That sound like a fair deal.”

“Great! You go first! But you only get one try, so make sure you’ll do your best!”

The Troll filled his lungs with air. Let it out, filled them again. The third time he started singing.

The sound went through pith and bones, deep, grave and loud. Very loud. It echoed between the walls, out of the tunnel, over mountains and glaciers. The cave started shaking. Cracks appeared in the walls. Big rocks fell from the roof.

“Jump!” shouted Espen. The three humans jumped off the troll’s hand as it lifted its arm to defend its head from the falling roof.

“Hey! Come back, you little…” The troll started running after them but the light from the rising sun made him stop. The rocks kept falling.ย  “Aaaaahh! Ouch! Aaaaaargh!!!”

Outside they could hear the screams of the troll disappear as the whole mountain fell down upon him in a gigantic pile of rocks.

“There goes our gold…” Paul looked at the rocks with tears in his eyes. “All the men in the kingdom will not be able to get it out now.”

“At least we’re alive,” said Espen. “Maybe just as good, all that gold would probably be a burden anyway.”

Per laughed a bitter laugh. “Stupid kid,” said he and shook his head. “You’ll be an ashlad for the rest of your life.”ย  His little brother had never done anything but to play with ashes from the fireplace.

And so Espen lived happily ever after, and his brothers spent their lives in misery regretting the day they failed to get the troll’s treasure.

Snip snap snout, the tale is out, and of they’re not dead, they’re probably still alive.

Here‘s the solution to last week’s riddle Crystal Clear.



    1. Thanks a lot! As you can see from the links, it’s inspired by Norwegian folktales, particularly one where Espen’s having an eating match with a troll. The 19th century illustrator Theodor Kittelsen has made quite a tribute to how we see trolls, the illustration would not be the same without him.

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    1. Thank you very much! Espen is a very clever guy, indeed. It took me a while to figure out which scam he would do this time, but it was needed to keep the story on the tracks of Norwegian folktale tradition ๐Ÿ™‚

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  1. Some people are never happy. A brief thought of gratitude that they’re not dead, then it’s straight back to regretting what they don’t have. Nice one and great illustration!

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    1. Haha! Too easy to fool for survival, especially with unlimited greed. If you ever get your hands on Asbjรธrnsen and Moe’s folktales, it’s a highly recommendable collection which can be compared to both Grimm and 1001 nights. Thanks a lot, Ekaterina, looking forward to read your book ๐Ÿ™‚


      1. Sounds like something well-suited to my tastes. I’ll see whether I can locate an English translation. Otherwise I’ll need a talented bilingual individual to translate for me ๐Ÿ˜€ I have an old copy of East of the Sun and West of the Moon (old tales from the North) in the depths of my bookshelves somewhere. Is that anything like the one you recommend? And I’ll send you my book very soon, I promise! Just proofreading the last few chapters ๐Ÿ™‚

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        1. Thanks! Don’t worry, I’ll be patient ๐Ÿ˜‰ East of the Sun and West of the Moon is the title of one of the tales of the mentioned collection, so I’d guess they used it for a smaller collection. There’s probably several from this one. The original collection has around hundred tales, and they published some other things as well. And yes, it all exists in English ๐Ÿ˜…


        2. I actually found quite a nice edition of the complete tales I can order online. It contains a forward by Neil Gaiman – a delightful bonus ๐Ÿ˜€ Thanks for your recommendation. I look forward to reading it in 7 to 10 business days!

          Liked by 1 person

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