Frej Wasastjerna


      Here I am, sitting in this here inn and minding my own business, said business being a big tankard of beer, when in walks a gorgeous, muscular hunk of a man.
     He walks up to the counter, pounds on it and hollers for a bottle of wine. I wince. After all, wine is expensive.
     I sidle up to him and ask, "Sir, might you perchance be interested in a fight with a monster?"
     He glances at me, then turns to stare straight at me. "How come they let you in?" he asks.
     "What do you mean?" I ask innocently.
     Are heroes supposed to stammer, I ask you! He sounds like he could go on in the same vein for quite a while. Sort of uninformative, I mean.
     "But you're a troll!" he finally manages to blurt out.
     I shrug my shoulders. (Kind of like a half-grown earthquake. Quite impressive, if I may say so myself.) "True, or at least I was last time I looked. But what of that? We aren't prejudiced here, are we Hannes?" I ask with a wink at the innkeeper.
     "Sure aren't, Grizlak," he winks back.
     "Grizlak--is that his name?" the hunk asks the innkeeper, as if I weren't there myself. Bad manners you humans have.
     I decide to answer the question myself. "Hers, not his. Grizlak, daughter of Krunchak Bushytail, at your service. And who might you be, if I may make so bold?"
     You can almost see the ideas elbowing each other aside to get into his tiny brain, as he goggles at me. The idea that I'm a lady--well, at least a female--gets there first, and he relaxes visibly.
     They always do. Never fails to work.
     Actually it's true, but I suppose I might tell them the same even if I were male. After all, who can tell the difference, so long as I wear clothes? I mean, we trolls have nice, shapeless lumps of bodies, whether we're male or female. We aren't like those weird hourglass shapes human males are always slobbering over.
     Finally a second idea manages to get its turn. "Grumbo, son of Conan," he answers, as if I had asked for his name just a second ago.
     I get curious. "Son of Conan--the Conan?" I ask.
     He nods.
     Oh. I hadn't heard of Conan having any offspring. "Did you ever know your father?" I ask.
     He shakes his head. Not an overarticulate type, if you see what I mean.
     I suppose it figures. Way I hear it, many human females grow hot just thinking of superheroes like Conan, and I suppose they'd have his britches off in about two shakes of a duck's tail--well, three if he resisted. He's bound to have left a lot of byblows all over the place, even though his biographers pass that over in embarrassed silence.
     Oh, you wonder how I know such words as "articulate" and "biographers"? You grievously underestimate my erudition! Be aware that you are in the company of a graduate of Trollshaw University!
     Not that I usually bother with those sesquipedalian words. Like, you know, who needs 'em?
     A third idea shoves the other two aside. "You said something about killing a dragon, did you? What's in it for me?"
     I carefully don't correct him. "You could save a damsel in distress."
     His eyes gleam. "Beautiful?"
     My hands trace out a hourglass shape in the air.
     He actually licks his lips. "Lead me on!"
     Exactly what I intend to do.


     We've been walking through the forest for hours. It's dark, and Grumbo stumbles over about every second treeroot in our path. He's tired and grumpy, about ready to sit down and call it quits, so I finally take mercy on him and quit circling my lair, heading directly for it instead.
     "There's its lair," I say when we reach it. Not that that's really necessary, all the bones strewn around make it obvious that it's the home of something big and hungry.
     He draws his sword and waves to me to stand back. Next he takes a deep breath and waves his sword a little, as if checking that he has a good grip on it. Then he advances in a crouch, as if expecting something nasty to rush out at him any moment. I pull my cudgel out of its hiding place, quietly sneak up behind him and whomp him on the head. Sure, his skull is mostly solid bone, but that doesn't help him when I whomp him. (I'll have to get a new cudgel, though.)
     Then I eat him.
     As I lie back and relax, I feel that this was almost too easy. To make it more of a challenge, I always tell guys like this the literal truth.
     A fight with a monster. Sure. With me. I never said anything about a fair fight, did I?
     Saving a damsel in distress? Me again. Saved me from hunger.
     That hourglass gesture? Ever take a look at my ankles? A thick calf above, a thin ankle in the middle and a big foot below. (You humans might call it a clumsy foot, you're such a rude lot.)
     All in all, even with this self-imposed constraint, it's not much of a challenge for a graduate of Trollshaw U.
     What I got my degree in? Man-catching, of course, what else?
     And I especially love those muscular hero types. I mean, there's such a lot to eat on them!