It had also been my intention to include feast in each story this month, but Gorg proved too busy to eat much.
Grey Magic: A Tale of Gorg the TrollGorg awoke slowly in a chill, dark cave, and remembered. He remembered first that he’d been hiding from a storm. He had been trapped somehow. Then he remembered trying to free himself from the trap created by yet another sorcerer bent on killing him. A sorcerer in the employ of Gorg’s arch-enemy Duke Bale the Artichoke-Hearted. Gorg remembered he had found a way out. And then he had lain down and gone to sleep before completing the easy, but tedious, task of crumbling his way out.
He strained to remember. It had been night, and cold. A blizzard. Yes, there had been a blizzard, too cold, windy and fierce for him to go out. It had made sense to wait. It had made sense to take a nap.
Why did it feel now as though it had been a bad idea to take a nap? Gorg’s mind cleared itself of the stone crystals of sleep, and he got to his feet, shaking his huge stone head which felt stuffed with something soft and bland. Light poured into the cave through the small opening he had made before retreating from the storm. He peered out, and knew he’d been right. It had been a very bad idea to go to sleep.
Sleep hadn’t been his idea, it had been a grey coat of magic, which blunted everything and turned his mind to fuzz. It had not been his sleep, but the sorcerer’s. A sorcerer who wielded grey magic, magic which so seldom was seen, not because it wasn't used, but because it wasn't visible.
The storm was gone. Long gone, by the evidence. He reached out his stone fingers and crumbled the edges of the opening until he could put his head out for a good look.
Right. A bad idea. He ate a chunk of the stone, and more of the sleep crystals and the grey fuzz cleared.
It was spring. He’d gone into the cave for shelter from a mid-winter blizzard, and now it was spring, if not summer. It was warm outside, and there were flowers. Spring, then. By summer, flowers in the Iron Desert were burnt to dust and blown away.
He remembered the laughter of the sorcerer who’d caged him, and Gorg Trollheim began to get angry. He ripped the opening wider, pausing only to crunch down more of the creamy limestone and sate his hunger.
His hunger for revenge remained unsated. Was there no killing Bale, and no end of mages willing to serve his nefarious ends?
Probably not. Gorg didn’t care. Bale had killed Gorg’s family. He had commanded them to be turned to stone and dropped into a raging river, where they were ground to powder, until there was no hope of reanimating them. Gorg had to give up the stones of his fathers, but he would not give up his revenge.
Duke Bale wanted the throne of King Celery the Half-Witted, but Gorg no longer cared about that. He had done what he could for the king, but human kings, he now understood, were a human problem. Troll-killers were a troll problem.
Gorg wanted Duke Bale to get dead and stay dead. It was that latter task that was hard, it seemed. Gorg had killed Bale twice. That was once more than should have been necessary.
Gorg strode across the Iron Desert toward the Valley of the Baleful Stones, the home of Duke Bale the Artichoke-Hearted. In midwinter, Gorg had left the Duke buried under the rubble of his collapsed tower. He might still be there. He might have stayed dead this time.
Gorg didn’t believe it.
He would go back to the Valley, and track down Bale wherever he might be now. And he would find a way to make him stay dead. Perhaps grind him to mush, perhaps toss him into one of the stinking sulfur vents that gave the valley its name. Grey magic was tricky. It could be turned on the one who used it, and grey, Gorg thought, was his native color.
Trolls weren’t fast thinkers, as a rule (though Gorg knew how to change that rule, if need be). But they did tend to stick to an idea until it was finished. Gorg stuck to his revenge with the immobility of a pile of stone. Trolls were stone. It was their weakness—and their strength.
Stone never gives up.
©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2015
|My favorite portrait of Gorg, spotted in Badlands National Park, South Dakota|