The Troll Shop

By Grandpa Carl

 

Spring unfolds into the midlands of Norway in a steadily beautiful tide bringing in its wake a carpet of flowers and shades of green matched in only a handful of places around world.. This awakening, as natural as it is, can bring a gasp of appreciation from even the most ardent lover of nature. Still, to many, this change seems to come almost overnight as the weather and prevailing winds shift and whirl in a maddening dance of awakening. I am not certain that either the scientific or natural explanation of the seasonal changes in my homeland can ever do justice to this almost mystical transition, but to a twelve year old boy, as I was in 1905, all I knew or cared about was that soon I would be on my way to my Grandfather’s farm.

Grandpa Bernt’s farm was located near Roken in Buskerud Provence. Ever since I can remember I had ‘returned to my ancestral home’ in late June or early July as soon as school was done to help work on the family farm and to play inside the nearby woods. Every so often, if all went well, I had the privilege of seeing or even meeting one of the local Trolls who inhabited the surrounding woodlands. My father, Julius Berntson, had, on several occasions, admonished his father not to fill my head with the fantastic. I was being sent to the farm to learn how to work, not to be fed on the myths and legends that so clouded my mind that I talked of little else for weeks when I returned. I do not think Grandpa paid much attention to this request and to be fair father did encourage me to write the stories down so I could tell them at the festivals and perhaps win a prize or two. His only advise was to make the Trolls ‘more stupid’ and even more simple.

"No one will believe a story about an intelligent Troll." He would say. "People like the stories where the humans trick the trolls and steal their treasure. Those kind of tales will make you a great story teller."

I never did take that advise.

With Spring came a letter to my parents that almost crushed my chances of going to the farm before they started. In it, Grandpa asked my parents if they would let me travel with him up to Trondheim on a business trip after the crops were planted and the other chores were done. He explained that the neighbors and the Trolls would take care of the farm and the animals while he was gone. The House Troll, Maas, was particularly anxious to see if he could keep the place going. He told them he planned to leave in late June or early July so he could be back to prepare for the harvest.

My parents initial reaction was to refuse but a second letter arrived the very next day in which Grandpa argued that this would be a very educational trip as well. With the newly created country, Grandpa said it would be inexcusable for them to prevent me from seeing the Nidaros Cathedral, the site where the new king would be crowned if the referendum scheduled for this Autumn went as everyone expected it to. He reminded them that no King of Norway could rule in peace without the people of Trondheim (or Trondelag) on his side, adding that if Prince Carl got his mandate I would be able to say that I saw where he would accept the crown. It would be a ‘grand adventure’ that would give me a life time of memories. I do not know how he knew to write what he did, but, in short, he gave them no choice but to agree. He even pointed out that the Prince and I shared the same name and that alone was a good reason, even if I never met him or even saw him during the trip.

I was ecstatic- not because of the history and the new king and all, though that was okay- but the idea of traveling across the country with Grandpa was a dream come true. I think I had my bag packed and ready at least three weeks before I was supposed to leave, but my enthusiasm was about crushed when my father told me that this might be the last time I would be able to go to Grandpa’s. He explained that he and mother were thinking of immigrating to America. Papa had heard that there was always work available for carpenters particularly in a city called Salt Lake. I had never heard of that city and I insisted that I would be happy to let them go and that I would go and live with Grandpa and take over the farm when he was too old to work it. All my parents said was that they would discuss it later. I started packing extra bags.

It was the longest three weeks of my life. The funny thing is that I cannot remember much of what happened except my dad and mom and I talking to some man from America who spoke Norwegian poorly. When I boarded the train in Oslo I was so excited I forgot about all my problems, and as I waved goodbye to my parents I had no idea what was in store for me.

When I arrived at the train stop nearest Grandpa’s farm I was only a little disappointed that he was not there to greet me. In fact, I had halfway expected it. Discovering that I was the only one there I explored the area a bit, looking for Troll signs, before I sat down on the bench to keep an eye on my luggage. I fell asleep almost immediately and slept peacefully until I awoke with a start when Grandpa shook my shoulder.

Excitedly, I jumped up grinning broadly and gave my Grandpa a hug. Then, as Grandpa picked up my things, I thoughtlessly ran down to where old Bisket stood waiting patiently to get underway. When he saw me I was sure he nodded in greeting then flicked his ears inviting me to scratch them. Obediently I reached up and stroked his mane before rubbing the soft fur on the back of his ears. He ‘whinnied’ appreciatively then clomped the ground twice with his left hoof, his sign that he was ready to go. Within minutes my trunk and suitcase were loaded and we were rolling down the path toward the farm just fourteen kilometers away. Even at the advanced age of 21 years old Bisket seemed as healthy as a yearling. Grandpa said it was because Maas and the other Trolls took such good care of him.

We traveled mostly in silence as I craned my neck searching the distance for signs of Trolls. Grandpa would ask me about what I learned in school and how my sisters were doing and how my older brother John was doing learning the family business. I think I gave him good answers but I really do not remember so great was my focus on finding a Troll. I was certain I saw at least two Trolls during the journey toward the farm. One was a tall, withered old hag I knew as Hagoth. She was a healer who had, just three summers ago, worked her magic to save my Grandpa’s life when he had a heart attack while driving a wagon to a friends. At that time she had taken a small piece of another Troll’s heart ( Maas, Grandpa’s housetroll) and put it inside Grandpa. We had decided to keep the secret from everybody because we knew what my father and other’s would say and we did not want to risk my not being able to come again. Grandpa was now in better health than he had been for years and it was for this reason he had decided he would go to Trondheim.

We continued down the path passing ‘Old Tom’, an unfortunate Troll who had been turned to wood. As we passed the ancient dead tree I studied the features and decided that it really could have been a Troll. I pointed this conclusion out to my grandpa who smiled broadly.

"He will be glad to know that he is not going to be forgotten by the rising generation." was all he said as he guided Bisket onto the road that would lead us directly to the farm.

The other Troll, I only got a glimpse of. He lives under the bridge near the farm and every time we cross we pay a ‘toll’, often of chicken guts or slightly rotting food, so he would let us pass. When I was there I usually got to toss the items over the edge of the bridge so the stream could carry them under it. If they did not emerge on the other side, which it usually did not, we felt good about making the crossing. This time we only had a few chunks of dried bread which I dutifully threw into the water. I then raced over and looked down on the other side to see if our toll was accepted. It only takes a few moments for the stuff to float under and as I said it rarely appears. This time, however, I saw a large chunk of water soaked bread floating in the water. I was about to tell Grandpa this news when I saw a long arm reach out and snatch the bread. With a chuckle I sat down and began to giggle. Soon both of us were laughing as we crossed the bridge. We were ‘home’ in short order.

*****

Gjetost must have jumped a meter as I banged into the house shouting for Maas to come out and play. The old cat, named for the soft, goat cheese brown color of his coat, had been resting atop the stove when I arrived. With a deep growl he looked at me ruefully before darting out of the still open door. Unable to laugh or move I watched him go still breathing heavily after my sprint from the barn. Once on the ground outside, the cat turned and glared at me as if to say that my return was not all that appreciated. That being communicated he flipped his tail and resentfully walked nose in air into the shadows. It was then that I was positive I heard a soft, high chuckle that could only have come from one Troll, Maas. Finally starting to laugh I excitedly encouraged him to come out. I was only slightly disappointed when he did not make an appearance.

"Trolls do things in their own due time." said Grandpa quoting an old proverb as he walked into the house a few minutes later. "He will come out when he is ready or has no other choice."

I did not know how he knew what to say so I just smiled and helped him fix us a glass of fresh cool milk and a large chunk of his homemade bread that he had baked just the day before. As usual I smothered mine so much with honey that it dripped off the bread and my hands onto the floor. I was surprised when Gjetost sprang in a single pounce onto the sticky mess. In seconds he had licked it up while Grandpa and I watched laughing.. After that we were once again friends.

I am not certain, but I think Grandpa was always easy on me during previous summers when it came to work. Now that I was almost thirteen my workload increased dramatically. I do not recall working so hard in my life as we cut wood and planted the vegetables and crops that would sustain the farm occupants through the long winter. Still, Grandpa also knew it was vital for a boy my age to play so one afternoon he told me that we were finished for the day and with solemn words he told me to go out and enjoy myself while he worked on baking some bread and a few other small things.

I did not protest, despite my sore muscles I took off across the field toward the woods west of the Farm. I do not think my feet even touched the old rock wall that formed part of the boundary of the farm as I hurried as fast as I could away from the work. I made my way quickly to a rocky area where nature had created a number of spikes and outcrops of rock. It was a place where there were always shadows in which a Troll could hide any time of the day. Here I would poke and prod looking for troll holes and hidden caves which I was certain were concealed within the shadow’s depths. I had just begun to explore when I slipped and rolled down into a small gully. I must have hit my head because when I woke up shadows had filled the area where I lay.

I sat up gingerly and rubbed my head. I guessed that two hours had past maybe three. The fact that I was beginning to get hungry confirmed my theory. I was just about to start home when I heard a soft scuffling behind me. When I looked there was nothing but rock and shade. Still, something within told me to keep watching.

The first thing I saw were a pair of sparkling amber eyes peering at me from out of the

shadows. I do not know how Trolls can vanish into any kind of shadow other than by magic. No matter how much indirect light filters into a secluded space you still cannot see a Troll standing in the depths unless they are not paying attention or they choose to let you see them.

As his eyes opened wider I could clearly make out the outline of his body, which seemed to sharpen into focus as I watched. He had a long thin nose that looked like a pink tipped summer squash jammed into a ball of mud. The circles around his eyes reminded me of the mask worn by a racoon while his ears ran the length of his head and stuck out like those of an Indian elephant. He was weather worn and appeared much older than he probably was. He stood just about a meter and a half tall, though his shoulders slouched, making him appear shorter. His paunchy belly also added to the idea that he was not too tall. His orb-shaped head was topped with an explosion of dark brown or black hair that was at least as long as my foot.

I resisted the urge to laugh as I held my breath, wondering why he had chosen to appear to me like this. I knew I was not in any danger, but I still waited, taking in his comical appearance. He seemed to be studying me as well.

It was then that I noticed his feet. They were massive, almost rectangular, with four equal -length long toes that were more flesh tone than tan. His footprints, I reckoned, would look like a box with one end scalloped slightly. As this vision popped into my head my pent up laughter escaped. Despite my efforts to stifle it, the noise burst out in a single, strangled, squeak sounding more like a quashed hiccup than a laugh. The startled Troll faded into the deepening afternoon shadows with a suddenness that surprised even me.

I gave up on my efforts and began to laugh loud and long.

Suddenly a great guffaw exploded from the dimness. "Funny!" exclaimed a raspy reed like voice. "Funny child!"

I stopped laughing to catch my breath and realized that he probably thought I was as funny looking to him as he was to me. To be honest, I was a bit awkward, even though I was not very tall. I had an unkempt and unruly mop of strawberry-blond hair an almost reed thin body that was more muscle than anything else and the first signs of becoming a man: pimples.

I started to laugh again and this time it was with him as much as it was at him. He seemed to realize this and emerged from the shadows.

"Need tail." He giggled swishing his so that I saw it for the first time. "Need bigger ears. How you hear?"

"What?" I said with a broad grin cupping my ears in what Grandpa called the ‘old man salute’.

His eyes grew wide then his face split into a grin as big as any I had ever seen."

"I am Carl." I said between gasps for air.

"Me, Ntram." He said as his giggling belly subsided. "Grandpa say come."

"He’s okay?"

Ntram nodded. "Come."

The sun was setting but there were still patches of open sunlight, especially as we got near the house. I wondered how Ntram would cross these but I need not have worried. As I reached the small fenced area where Grandma had once planted her garden I looked up and the troll was already standing in the doorway next to Grandpa who waved for me to hurry.

Inside were two other Trolls. One was Maas who sat on the edge of the table his legs dangling down. He smiled broadly at me but did not say a word. In this form he was no more than 24 or 25 centimeters tall but I had seen him magically change forms so that he was almost two meters tall when he helped save grandpa. I suppose it was easier to hide at that height.

The third troll was a female, a hag. She was just shorter than Ntram and was holding his hand as I entered the house and closed the heavy wooden door behind me.

I suppose the look on my face said something because Grandpa spoke the instant the door was shut. "This is Ydns, Ntram’s wife."

I bowed very low. "Please to meet you Lady Troll." I said gallantly.

She giggled, a low almost bass giggle then curtsied, her short rough cloth skirt barely reaching her knees. "Him nice." She said to her spouse.

"Ntram and Ydns are the proprietors of the Troll Shop." said Grandpa as he helped me sit down.

"Troll shop?" I mumbled. I was getting sleepy and try as I might I could not keep my eyes open.

I awoke with a cool cloth on my forehead in the middle of Grandpa’s bed. My head ached and my stomach was growling something fierce.

I moaned and instantly felt Grandpa’s hand on my shoulder. He was speaking, but I could not understand what he was saying so I lay silently trying to remember what had happened. When I finally opened my eyes I thought I saw a small dark form disappear off the foot of the bed but I was not sure.

"You gave us quite a scare. Those rocks can be dangerous."

"Grandpa," I interrupted. "what is the Troll Shop?"

Grandpa’s eyebrow raised slightly. "It’s a special shop close to the city of Trondheim. I plan to take you there during our trip. How did you know about it? Did your father tell you about it?" His voice seemed to hold a slight degree of hope that I had not heard in a long time regarding my father. "I did not think he remembered."

"No, papa did not tell me anything about it. I did not mean to fall asleep, especially with three Trolls in the room but I could keep my eyes open."

"Three Trolls?" Grandpa chuckled though I could sense his concern. "Did you get their names?"

I paused. "There was Maas, of course, and Ntram and his wife Ydns."

"Ntram?" This time his voice showed clear surprise. "Let me show you a picture I got from a friend of mine. I have always called him Old Troger and he ‘owns’ the Troll Shop. I got a letter from him a week or two ago. He’d just finished a pair of Trolls to put in the front of his shop. The are sitting on a log holding hands and their names are Ntram and Ydns. You didn’t sneak over and read my mail did you?"

I shook my head rapidly causing me to winch uncomfortably. I would never think of looking at the mail of anyone, much less one of my Elders.

Grandpa gave me reassuring wink as he picked up a letter from the corner table where he kept the mail. I watched as he gently pulled out a photograph. After looking at it he asked me if I could describe the Trolls. I did to the best of my memory, but it was hazy and I was beginning to wonder about what I had seen.

Grandpa shook his head and handed me the picture. To my amazement the Trolls were identical to what I remembered from last night.

"How long did they stay? Are they coming back?" A dozen questions poured out of my mouth in rapid succession.

"You don’t remember?"

I closed my mouth in confusion.

"When you did not come in at dusk I went looking for you. Maas found you and carried you in and laid you on the bed. He sprinkled some powder on you then left. I kept a wet cloth on you all night. I had to go out for a moment and when I came back you were waking up. You hit your head pretty hard when you slipped on the rocks. You have to be more careful when you explore out there." His voice was firm but I could tell he was glad I was okay.

"Then it was all a dream?" I asked slowly.

"Perhaps. Troll powders can cause strange things to happen, so possibly that is what it was. How does your head feel?"

I reached up and touched my head aware that it was still a bit sore. "It feels fine."

I said finally.

"Then they worked. Maas will be happy when he comes back."

"He’s gone?" I asked.

"Yes. This morning he told me he had to go somewhere before we left. I think he might be looking for some help to take care of the farm." explained Grandpa. "He will be back later this afternoon. Now I am going to fix you some porridge and bread so you rest here for a while."

"Lot’s of honey." I said smiling. I had a lot to think about as I turned my attention to the black and white picture I now held.

*****

I am sure I stared out the window of the train the entire trip to Lilliehammer. Our train was not crowded but Grandpa told me that he had never seen so many people going to one place at the same time. Craftsman, businessmen, pilgrims and more were all going to the ‘City of Kings’ to help in the preparations for the Coronation everyone was certain would happen in just a few months once Prince Carl of Denmark got his ‘mandate’. (It actually turned out to be just less than a year when Prince Carl became King Haakon VII on June 26, 1906.) Most of the travelers, Grandpa had explained, were doing ‘preliminary’ work, making deals and the like so that they would have a maximum impact on the ‘new country’ when the chimes of Nidaros Cathedral rang out at the completion of the ceremony.

"We ‘Men of the North’ (Norseman) have always been a pragmatic group and that is why we will become the only nation with a ‘popularly elected King." Said Grandpa as he stepped off the train and looked into the city. "That is why his Highness choose his motto, Alt for Norge- Everything for Norway."

I don’t know how Grandpa knew that little bit of information, but he knew it, and I only thought of this fact years later as I write this account. All I wanted to remember at that point was how wonderful the city was and how much I wanted to visit The Troll Shop and see the two trolls I had dreamed about.

It had taken us ten days to travel to Trondheim but that included some days in Lillehammer. I remember looking at the mountains and surrounding areas of that ‘future Olympic City’ and imagining a Troll coming down the mountain on skies using a long pole for balance.

I was so excited as we traveled up through Stalheim that I could see Trolls everywhere. I especially remember one that looked like a giant head looking down on the city. After a couple of hours visit we boarded a small boat at the harbor of that rustic city. It took us up the waterway to the ocean. There, we changed boats and headed northward toward Trondheim, staying as close to the coast as possible. To pass the time I kept my eyes searching the distant shoreline for Trolls as often as I could, especially at dusk and just before dawn. Otherwise, I talked with Grandpa and some of the other passengers until we docked in Trondheim harbor. At one point I was even certain that I saw two Trolls crossing an open area just as the sun went down as we approached the city. Grandpa thought I was right, but neither of us said anything because we did not want to alarm the other passengers.

I think that the most vivid impression I have of Trondheim was how so many of the buildings were built up to and over the water. To me it almost appeared as if many of them were linked so they look like one continuous structure. Walk-ways and alleys were so well constructed that they only lent to the beauty and effect of the city. Even at the age of twelve-and- three-quarters I was impressed by what I saw. That is saying quite a lot since I lived in Oslo and was used to water and the buildings near them. I remember walking down along the Nidelva River and later looking out at the fjord that shared the city’s name.

I also remember the people, they seemed happy, less dour than those of my home city. I saw many women and children dressed in wonderfully colorful bunads while most of the men wore the heavier clothes of the sea. Oslo was filled with people from all over the world and the city showed as many signs of European influence as it did of the Scandinavia world.

The air of the city itself seemed to crackle with excitement yet when we passed the Cathedral there was an air of reverence and anticipation that lead me to believe even the buildings were anxious to have the great tradition of the ceremonial blessing of the king restored. I remember Grandpa bringing a case with several samples of nicely polished stones and several crudely carved animals. He told me that they were made by some of the local Trolls who lived near his farm. He told me that few people would believe they were actually made by Trolls but the idea of having a ‘genuine troll crafted’ object was a marketable tool, which he was sure the tourists and other visitors would be excited to take home as mementoes to their families and friends. He was not disappointed and soon found two buyers for his ‘Troll products’.

While he was out marketing his wares I wondered the Market Square and the docks looking at the broad range of historical sights preserved lovingly, by the locals, since the city was founded by the famous Viking Olav Tryggyason in 997. I remembered playing Viking when I was younger and I recalled that I was very excited when my parents told me that we were descended from Leif Erickson. To be in a city founded by a Viking and seeing things made by this group of intrepid heros made me very proud to be Norwegian, especially at this time when we were once again becoming an independent nation.

I also recall pestering my Grandpa about the Troll Shop. I asked repeatedly why he did not just go to the Shop with his ‘Troll wares’. He told me (repeatedly) that he did not want to take away from the marvelous things at the shop and that when I saw it I would understand. Several times I tried to find the shop myself but all I knew was that it was concealed within one of the many wooded areas that dotted and surrounded the city. Grandpa told me that the city had managed the forests for over a quarter of a century. The goal was to create and cultivate the urban forest to benefit society. Even then, in 1905, the forests were said to be "between dreaming and doing" the ideal place, I believed, to hide the magical shop I sought. I found many paths and other beautiful sights but I did not find the shop and Grandpa was no help. I think he took a secret pleasure in keeping me in the dark.

It was on the fifth day of our visit that Grandpa finally told me that we were going to the Troll Shop. I don’t think my feet touched the ground as we walked down along the river that flows through the town. I vaguely remember passing a hospital as we traveled west toward the edge of town. I think Grandpa choose the river path because he wanted to tease me by taking the longer route but I don’t think I was aware of it then. My excitement grew when we turned inland and walked up a row of what I think were shops and offices. Most of them were in the process of receiving a fresh coat of paint in preparation for the upcoming celebrations. Workers and business people moved about the crowded street; none of them payed much attention to an old man and a young boy. At the end of the street we continued until we turned onto a slanted street which took us into one of the wooded areas that still intersperse and surround the city. I think we had walked about a kilometer on this path when Grandpa turned unexpectedly off the road and onto a path that I would have missed had I been trying to find it on my own. Here the woods were thicker than most and twice, Grandpa held branches so they would not flip back and hit me. Grandpa mentioned that if we continued another half kilometer or so down the main path we would find a lake called Theisendammen. Above us the canopy of branches seemed to fill in until it appeared we were walking through a living, breathing tunnel. The sounds of life, nature’s music, filled the air but at the time I did not even notice. My eyes strained to look past grandpa to the path ahead. When I returned, years later, I was more aware of the beauty of the area. Back then all I could think of was that we were going to THE Troll Shop.

Suddenly the trees stopped abruptly, opening into a clearing. At the far end of the clearing, which was probably thirty or more meters across, stood a two story white house-like structure with green trim and a wooden porch, upon which sat two large, white wooden chairs. Sitting to the left of the steps were the two trolls that I had seen in Grandpa’s picture. To my delight they were much bigger than I had expected. Standing, they would have been almost two meters tall. Sitting on the log, they were over a meter in height.

When I saw them I ran past grandpa and stood next to them. For the next ten minutes I examined the detail of the carving. Ntram was on the left and Ydnas sat coyly beside him on my right. The detail of his hand stretched toward her, with his finger gingerly touching her hand. The look in her eyes sparkled while her toes touched in a shy response enhanced by a ‘beautiful smile’ that filled her face. I could almost sense the love between the two. Troger, I concluded, was an expert wood carver and I wanted to be just like him someday.

Grandpa waited patiently as I studied the two Trolls. I think the only comment he made was that they looked even more realistic in person. I agreed, saying something about the colors and the long fur like hair on both their heads. Grandpa guessed it was horse hair, probably from a ‘bob-tail’ of some sort. To me it felt softer, almost pelt like, but I did not argue.

Finally I turned my attention to the shop. I was up the three steps in a single bound. The door was just right of center and it appeared taller than any door I had ever seen on a house. It was at least as tall as any barn door I had ever seen and perhaps several centimeters taller than Grandpas. A tall horse or small box wagon could easily go under the jam. In the middle of the door was a simple hand lettered sign that read:

Troll Shop

WELCOME

The latch was a simple lift handle type. It emitted a slight metal clink as I lifted it and pushed in the door. Though I was a little surprised at how quietly and easily the door swung inward, what struck me at first was the warm clean scent of fresh carved wood and pine glue, mingled with the aroma of warm bread. I inhaled deeply and looked wide eyed around the room. First my eyes were drawn to a large wooden bar that sat in the center of the room. Evenly spaced along the top were magnificently carved wooden Trolls, which were situated among a variety of scaled trees made from branches and the tops of evergreens. Behind the bar, which was over a meter tall, I could just see the top rows of a long set of shelves attached to the wall. These shelves were filled with a variety of carved animals, trolls and trees all neatly arranged so that the critters all seemed to be focused on the person standing in the door. The Trolls varied in height from nine to twenty-five centimeters tall. To one side of the bar was a shelf, full of large loaves of bread that appeared fresh and warm. To my right, which was east, was a window under which stood another shelf full of less elaborately carved trolls and animals, including some made of fur. On either end of that shelf was an ancient looking woven basket. The further one was filled with pine cones which were painted silver or gold. The closer had a small sign in it that read, "Troll polished stones for good fortune!" Inside was a variety of polished gems and stones that ranging in size from as small as my thumbnail to a little larger than a baby’s fist. I could tell that some were round while others were flat, like perfect skipping stones.

In the far right corner was an open door revealing a set of stairs leading up. As my eyes went up the stairs it was then I noticed that the ceiling was at least two meters over my head.

"That’s so Trolls can come in and visit!" I exclaimed over my shoulder.

Grandpa, who was still standing in the door watching, chuckled but said nothing.

To my left, under a larger picture widow looking west, were all kinds of furniture. Chairs, rocking horses and even benches impossibly woven from branches, twigs and brush sat side by side for customer inspection. The rustic, troll rough, appearance belied the smooth sitting surface. Even with my untrained eye, I could tell that there would be no pricking or discomfort where anyone would sit or lean. Still, several of them were given additional beauty by pillow like cushions and throws made of heavy woolen cloth. Even some of the horses bore blankets over their backs to provide comfort for the rider. I learned, later, that they were as comfortable as any other furniture when I sat in them.

In the left corner was a door that Grandpa said lead to a kitchen, a workshop and a very special site he called ‘The Story Place’. He said nothing more about it and though curious I let him have his little secret. There was enough for me to look at for now.

I was just about to approach the bar for a closer look at the forest scene when I became aware that someone other than Grandpa was watching me. He was standing at the bottom of the stairs next to Grandpa who had somehow moved unseen from the now-closed door.

The stranger was a big man with wild, reddish-brown hair and a bushy, almost explosive beard. He looked so much like a throwback to the ancient Vikings that for a moment my mind pictured him wearing a polished horned helmet carrying a heavy wooden shield. A double edged axe held high in the other hand completed the picture. I blinked and the vision vanished, but I was certain that if he growled or even frowned I would run screaming from the shop. Instead, his eyes seemed to sparkle with the merriment of a child at Yule time. Even through his beard I could see a wide smile splitting his face as he glanced first at Grandpa and then at me.

"A fine boy." he said smiling more broadly. "Come here son!"

I walked over slowly occasionally stealing glances at Grandpa. He smiled reassuringly. His eyes sparkled so my confidence grew as I drew near this unusual man. I was about to offer a formal greeting when he swept me up in a whirlwind of power.

Holding me aloft with one massive hand he eyed me as if looking into my soul. His penetrating gaze glistened and for a moment we shared a secret few humans knew. I knew also that this was none other that the proprietor of the shop who had sent the picture to Grandpa.

"He knows!" proclaimed Troger putting me down. "He will do many wonderful things in his life."

I looked at Grandpa, who simply winked. Somehow I knew then that he had never felt prouder about someone in his life.

"Are you hungry?" asked our host after a moment’s silence. Then looking down at me he kind of shrugged. "What a silly question," he added quickly, "what boy his age is not hungry all the time?"

"I am sure that he will accommodate whatever you place before him." said Grandpa moving toward the door on the other side of the room. "He enjoys food."

"It’s a habit I got into years ago and I don’t know how to break it." I joked.

Troger laughed and led me through the door to the kitchen which was directly behind the shop. I did not tell him I would have been able to find it because of the smell of fresh bread. To be honest, I was very hungry.

While we ate we talked and I told him of Maas and Hagoth and Old Tom who had been turned to wood. Troger listened intently looking occasionally at Grandpa with that ‘you never told me that’ look especially when I mentioned the heart incident. As we talked I noticed that Troger’s hair had quite a bit of gray mixed in making him look older than I had originally thought. Grandpa only smiled or looked innocently at his fingers whenever his friend heard something he felt he should have been aware of. .

A hour later, after a feast of mutton stew, goat cheese, and fruit, I finally pushed away from the table. "What next?" I asked.

"Let me show you where I do all my work." suggested Troger. "I think we have just enough time to have a brief look."

We spent at least half an hour looking at the knives and saws he used to create some of the trolls and other items in the shop. The workshop itself was a little wider than the kitchen and was cluttered with make shift shelves, stacks of cut trees and branches, and much more. Bags of plaster, some cans of stain and paint, and other odd materials lined the wall along which the outer hall ran, while the exterior wall had several boxes, partially completed projects, and more stacked and placed haphazardly along its length. A typical workshop of a master. Troger asked me if I could whittle and I told him that I wasn’t very good at it. Again he looked and Grandpa. This time Grandpa only nodded.

At four pm Troger abruptly stopped the tour and ushered us back into the shop area. Inside two children stood gazing up at the top of the bar.

"Hello you to!" He said with a broad grin.

"Grandpa Troger!" the two exclaimed in unison as the wild looking man entered the room.

Troger laughed. With long strides he walked to the main door and threw it open. Curiously, I walked over and saw over a dozen children and three or four adults moving toward the building.

With a jumble of excitement they poured into the building and filed down the hallway to the door at the end which stood open and inviting. I do not recall anyone opening it, though Grandpa may have slipped back in to do it while I was looking outside. The children, now some twenty or so in number ranging in age from about four to fifteen, sat down on a carpet of earthy green and brown tones. The adults turned immediately left inside the door and sat on some of the several stools along the wall. One pulled out an old bench and sat so she could hold her baby who slept peacefully in her arms. Grandpa held me back while the others entered the room. Soon the room was comfortably full and filled with happy conversation.

A hush fell over the room as Troger walked in. I had slipped in last and was seated by the big window that looked out into the forest, only a half dozen of meters away. In front of me one child, who had been wiggling impatiently, seemed startled by the tousled appearance of our host.

"Is that the ‘story teller’?" she whispered to the child, probably her brother, sitting next to her.

He nodded but did not turn his attention from the front.

"Welcome children to ‘The Story Place’. I am Gran-pa Troger." His voice was soothing and gentle yet held a hint of excitement that built an anticipation even I felt. "Today we have a very special guest all the way from Rokum. This is my friend Grandpa Bernt. He is a Master Storyteller and he has a very special tale for you about His Highness Prince Carl. It seems to me that he’s a lot more Norwegian than we first might of thought and because of this I think he will be a great king! Grandpa Bernt."

I had listened to Grandpa’s stories since I could first sit on his knee. I was certain I had heard some of those tales a dozen times, others I could hear a dozen more times. Still with all this I had never considered that Grandpa might be a Master Story Teller. I watched intently as he moved to a large, heavy wooden chair with a thick cushion that matched the carpet. As he sat down he nodded at Troger and the room fell totally silent. With practiced ease he leaned slightly forward while looking around the room, his eyes focusing briefly on each child. He smiled warmly and winked at the mother who was holding her baby. She smiled back and seemed to relax a little. When he reached me his eyebrows rose slightly then he winked. It was all I could do to keep from chuckling out loud as he moved on, I winked back as he began to talk.

"Prince Carl," he started in a soft almost conspiratorial tone, "was chosen to be our first King because he once was very kind to a Troll he met while exploring the woods of his beloved Denmark. Now, this story has not been told before and I only know it myself because my friend, our House Troll Maas, swears it’s true."

"The young Prince Carl had been out riding one evening when just after dusk he heard a rumble which told him a boulder had tumbled down the side of a ridge just up ahead. What surprised him was the loud grunt followed by a long mournful cry that echoed toward him as the rumbling sounds faded.

"Guiding his horse up the trail, he spotted the slide less than half of a kilometer up the canyon. It was not a bad fall and nothing truly devastating had happened, but upon closer inspection the Prince noticed a large figure pinned up against a very large rock on the opposite side of the ravine. Without thought for his own safety Prince Carl dismounted and raced to the aid of the figure concealed deep in the shadows of the rocks. What he found brought him up short. Before him was a young Troll about a meter and a half tall. His arm and leg was pinned in such a way that he could not twist or move in any way to free himself. And what was worse was that he could not change sizes either to escape because of his position.

"Other men would have simply left the Troll there to be caught by the sun or freed by another Troll if one should come along; but not our Prince Carl, who even then was kind and generous. For over an hour the Prince talked to the angry and frustrated creature. Finally, the Troll realized that he had no other choice. Together the two tried everything they could think of to move the boulder, pull the Troll out or change the circumstances so the Troll could free himself. They used horse, levers, and everything they could think of but nothing succeeded. Both became increasingly exhausted as the night wore on. As dawn approached, they redoubled their efforts and the horse slipped and injured a leg. As the first fingers of light began to move toward them Prince Carl removed his cape. Taking a very awkward position he used his princely mantle to shield the Troll from the light through the entire day. By dusk another Troll arrived and helped free his fellow.

"The Trolls were so impressed by what Prince Carl had done they named him ‘Troll Friend’ and promised that their kind would watch over and help him always. To show his own gratitude the newly freed Troll rubbed some magical powder on the horse’s leg and healed it completely.

"And the Trolls have been doing as they promised ever since, and that is why I think the prince will be an excellent king." concluded Grandpa smiling. "Thank you all for coming."

The children left by half past five. Some bought Trolls for themselves or friends and one of the adults got two for a friend in America. The mother of the baby bought some of the polished stones for each of her children then took a long look at the rocking horses. Gran-pa Troger whispered that she could come back for one when her children were not with her. Many of the visitors, including the children, bought at least one loaf of bread.

As the last child disappeared down the path Grandpa turned to me and sighed. "Time for us to head back too." he said softly.

Naturally, I did not want to go but I knew it would not do any good to argue I walked over to Gran-pa Troger and extended my hand. "Thank you." I said formally.

"You are most welcome." he said with a smile. "But before you go I want you to select a stone from the basket. It will bring you luck and help you find your way." He paused and smiled even wider. "And if that does not work you, at least, will always have a little of the Troll Shop with you where ever you go."

I looked at Grandpa and then at his friend then shaking my head I walked over, closed my eyes and dug deep into the pile of stones. Almost immediately a stone about the size of a large coin slid into my hand. I closed my hand around it and drew it out so I could see what I had selected.

The stone was a deep blue with white veins painting its surface like a miniature road map. "My favorite color!" I whispered gazing at the polished shining surface. I turned it over and to my surprise in the center of the stone was an etched form of an animal that I did not recognize.

"What is this?" I asked showing them the stone which was about the size of a 50 ore piece.

Grandpa took the stone and looked at it. "It is a bison or a buffalo. They live in America." I wondered if I saw a hint of alarm or concern in his eyes.

Gran-pa Troger took the stone and studied it briefly. "This is interesting. I did not know that Trolls even knew bison exist. I have seen many of these stones with carvings of wolves or bear, and once in a while an elk or a hare. They are usually a little more crude, but some Troll artists are very good, considering the tools they use." He handed me back the stone. "Keep it son, it is unique and it is very special. I can feel it."

I think my feet dragged all the way back to the inn. It had been a very long day. Normally a three or four kilometer walk would not have worn me out, but by the time I was able to fall on to my bed I was already asleep.

The soft tapping on our outside window usually would not have awaken me, but I was dreaming, so the gentle rapping penetrated my mind. Sleep fled my mind, along with images of the Troll Shop and a group of angry Trolls marching through flame lit caves: I stretched and sat up. The tapping stopped briefly, then resumed as I rolled out of bed and tip- toed toward the window imagining as I did that I saw a shadow moving on the other side. I don’t know why I didn’t awake Grandpa but I seemed drawn forward, unable to resist my growing curiosity.

With as much stealth as I could muster, I moved forward and gently took hold of the curtain. With a flourish I whipped back the cloth. To my total surprise found myself face to face with the Troll I knew as Ntram.

I think we both froze for several seconds before he motioned for me to come outside to join him.

I had fallen asleep in my clothes so all I had to do was put on my shoes which I guessed Grandpa had removed before covering me up. I suppose I should have felt guilty sneaking out of our room without saying ‘goodbye’ or leaving a note but I did not. This was a summons from a Troll and I could not make him wait!

I had never had any practice at being stealthy. Twice I stumbled making, I was certain, noises loud enough to wake Grandpa. I still do not know if there was Troll magic, but he did not wake up. I even remembered to take my sweater because nights that time of the year were still a bit cool.

The halls of our temporary residence were deserted lit only by a few low burned candles and a lantern that marked the toilet area. I made it out of the building without incident. Then all but ran around the corner where I met Ntram. He was walking toward me looking almost ghostlike in the deep shadows of the wall. When he noticed me he put his hand over his mouth and indicated that I should follow. Taking the sign as his telling me to keep quiet I started after him.

I did not notice at first, but as I watched him moving catlike from shadow to shadow, even in the night, I realized that he was not making a sound. My own footfalls were not very loud, but compared to his, mine seemed to echo the invitation for all to throw open their windows and watch the runaway child move down the street. In the distance I could hear the sounds of the ocean and river as they rolled and flowed along their separate ways. Occasionally I would hear a ship’s bell chime. Once I counted twelve rings before the echo died in the night. Moments later I heard a church bell toll in the distance. It rang twelve times too. I noticed that Ntram seemed to have problems with the church bell because he seemed to stagger slightly and hold his ears briefly as they concluded their mournful notes. The moment was brief, and I wondered if I had set too much stock into the glimpse I saw of the swiftly moving Troll who was four or five meters away. I dismissed the thoughts along with other legends that crowded into my mind and hurried to keep up with my guide.

As the kilometers slipped by I wondered why I did not feel tired anymore. To make matters even more interesting, I was surprised at how well the moon’s light directed my pace. When we reached the outer edges of the town Ntram slowed and dropped back until he was by my side.

"Here no people." He said looking at the scattered structures behind and ahead of us.

"How do you know?" I asked curiously.

"Hear sleep. Feel rest." was his simple reply.

I nodded and fell silent as we left the road and started down the path. Again I do not know if it was a trick of the night or just my memory playing false but I was certain that the trees we were now passing were younger and thicker than the ones we had passed in the same area this morning. I even considered the fact that we were on a different path but something assured me that it was the same.

We traveled again in silence. I became alarmed when I saw a great fire up ahead. My thoughts sprang back to my dream about angry marching Trolls and I wanted to yell and run for help. Before I was able to speak Ntram had his hand on my shoulder and his other across my mouth. The smell of musty earth caused me to gag slightly and to suck in a deep breath which allowed me to regain some control. He released me at once and motioned for me to follow. We left the path and moved toward the fire.

As we neared I could hear voices, strong masculine voices, speaking in a dialect that I had not heard in years. About twenty meters later I could see them moving. They were big, broad shouldered men. Some wore horned helmets, others had simpler headgear. Many of the men held large flagons from which they were drinking deeply. Occasionally, a loud burst of laughter would break out followed by a call that brought the noise level down. I noticed that most of the men were gathered around the fire, as if they were listening to someone or watching some event. There was no sign of the Troll Shop or any indication of a building anywhere near by. These Vikings seemed to be camped, perhaps a kilometer and a half inland from the Fjord.

Ntram and I moved closer while moving around the men so we could see what they were focused on. To my surprise, sitting on a stump in the midst of them was a gray haired older man who was speaking in a loud clear voice. It did not take long to realize that he was telling a story! I watched as he gestured skyward with a grand sweeping motion indicating the Gods or Heavens. I was not sure how I knew this but my mind seemed to understand what my ears could not. The Story Teller may have been recalling a battle or telling of a great historic event. The Vikings watched intently laughing and making comments, some fairly rude, as the man bent forward and roared like a Troll or an ogre. The old man mimicked catching a spear in his chest and I heard a name; Olav, and watched as the speaker staggered about before pitching forward as if he were falling into the fire. At the last moment he rose to full height and pointed to a broad shouldered man at the edge of the fire.

The men roared in laughter and approval. Then they moved toward the man, probably their leader, to get clarification. The Story Teller took the ovation with a smile and caught a gold coin or two tossed in his direction before turning to join his comrades.

I turned to look at Ntram and saw that he had been joined by Ydnas. I had not heard her arrive. As usual, they were holding hands and Ntram was actually smiling, as if he understood the entire production.

I turned back to watch and was startled to discover that the fire had burned down greatly and only two men stood near it’s dying sputters. Suddenly the fire sparked and crackled and for a moment the area was a lit like day and the two faces became clear.

"Grandpa?" I gasped.

The two men turned toward me and rumbled something and took a several steps. The other man had a heavily-braided beard and long, braided, deep red-brown hair covered by a horned helmet. He quickly grabbed a heavy wooden shield and raised a heavy two sided battle ax. I turned to flee only to run into Ntram who stepped out from behind the tree.

I started to sputter something about running for our lives when he simply pointed. I turned back and the fire and the Vikings were gone. In its place a small cabin made of hewn logs sat in the middle of the clearing. The air around it looked bright and ‘day-like’. On a stump in front of the house sat a middle aged man wearing a fishing cap and a heavy sweater. Around him six or seven children in bright, traditional bunads were sitting on the ground in rapt attention as he told them a story of how a Troll who’s hat was shot by an arrow, and then how they were all turned to stone. I recognized the story and wanted to get closer so I could hear it better but when I stepped forward, the lights went out and the forest around us became very dark. Startled and a bit scared I called out for Grandpa and then Ntram. In reply I felt a hand on my shoulder pulling me back under cover. As I hid myself away the ‘light’ came ‘back on’ and the children were gone The Story Teller was talking to a man dressed as a trapper or mountain explorer. The new arrival had a familiar appearance, and I as I watched, the two finished talking. The trapper picked up his pack.

"Thank you Bernt. Have a safe journey home. I hope you are able to buy that farm you plan..."

I looked at Ntram. "What is happening? How am I seeing this magic? This is impossible," I exclaimed nervously. "Am I really seeing what I think I am or am I dreaming?"

"Look." was all Ntram said.

Hesitantly, I turned, half expecting to see nothing more than the wall of our room. Instead, before me now stood the Troll Shop I had visited earlier. Somehow it looked newly painted. On the porch, leaning against a decorative column I did not remember, was Gran-pa Troger who also looked much younger. His beard was shorter and it appeared as if some effort had been made to trim it and to pull in his rowdy hair. I guessed that he was in his early to mid twenties but I was not sure. He was wearing a heavy wool coat like I had seen sailors wear and dark wool pants over thick hide boots. He was talking softly with another man whom I did not recognize but who was also wearing heavy clothes. Beside him was a weighty looking shoulder bag that must have held all his worldly belongings.

"..So you say you are going to America this time and may not return?" young Troger was saying.

"Ya, we sail in the morning. I am to report on tonight. I have just enough time to walk to the docks. You will take care of the place."

"I will indeed. I remember most of the stories you told me and I have your notes and of course I have a few of my own. Captain Stromness needs a good ship’s carpenter and you, Ola, are the best!"

"That I am, but you are not so bad yourself. The Trolls will provide you with most of what you need but still it is fun to create your own items as well!" Said the one called Ola.

"I am here for the children and the stories. We must do all we can to preserve what is unique and beautiful about our heritage."

Ola nodded. "Oh, one more item that perhaps you can work into one of your own tales. I heard from one of the sailors that Captain Stromness is as tough an old bird. I hear tell that he once fell from the highest yardarm during a storm, fell right through the hatch and landed on the anchor chain, I guess they must have broken the fall. He just got up, shook it off and went back to work."

"I’ll remember that. Next time I need a captain in my story, perhaps a troll who had stowed aboard will be the one who caught him. Could be fun."

Ola smiled. "He is Troll-tough’ either way. Good-bye my friend."

Troger smiled. "Thank you for everything. I don’t know why you are going, but as the Trolls say ‘Follow own path, must!’ So I wish you God Speed!"

The men embraced, kissing each other on the cheek. Ola silently picked up his grip and with a nod turned and walked away. He past me as if I were not there, moving out of sight down the path. I turned back to look at the house. As I did, Troger looked up and saw me standing off the path in the woods.

"Hello lad, I didn’t see you standing there. Come on up. You can bring your Troll friends up too."

I turned to look at Ntram and Ydnas to find them already moving forward. I wanted to shout at them, demanding what was happening. What kind of magic was this and how did I get here? I wanted to turn and run but something inside brought me around. It moved me slowly up to the steps to where Troger was already talking with the Trolls. He seemed to have met them before.

When I was close enough he looked down. Ola will be sorry he missed you. Telling one more story would have been a fitting way to end his sojourn here. Where did you meet these two?"

"Here, this morning." I said slowly. "My name is Carl Berntsen."

Troger looked perplexed for a moment then motioned for me to come inside. As we walked in I think I heard him mutter to Ydnas that Ola had mentioned that these kind of things happened but he had not expected ‘it’ to happen so fast. Ydnas just smiled and remained silent.

The shop looked almost the same as it had but I noticed that there were no signs of the baskets that held the pine cones and the polished stones on the shelves. The center bar too was less worn; not as many scuff- and wear-marks as I had seen ‘earlier’. Troger took us into the kitchen area, where he poured each of us a large cup of milk and gave us a thick crust of bread, which he pulled rather than cut off the loaf.

"I plan to make this a regular feature of the Troll Shop. I’m going to call it Troll Bread." he said proudly. "What do you think?"

"I think it will be a big seller," I replied honestly, taking a big bite. I instantly noted that this was easily as good as the one I had eaten earlier.

Ntram just grinned and shoved most of a loaf into his mouth. Ydnas ate a little more daintily but she was done and out looking in the shop before any of us. Ntram stayed and watched silently as we humans finished their food.

We ate in silence for several minutes until I finally asked once again the questions that were perplexing me. To my surprise he smiled.

"Hmmmmmmm." he said softly. "Where to begin. Where to begin."

I do not know how long he was silent, but it seemed forever. Finally he looked at Ntram and for a moment it was as if something magical passed between them. He then asked me to tell him what I recalled about the night. Without hesitation I quickly told him, after which he smiled broadly and motioned for me to follow. Moments later I eagerly followed him into the Story Place. Behind us the two Trolls entered holding hands. Ydnas lead her mate to the wall next to the large picture window and together they sat on the ground. I do not think they even once let go of each other.

"This little speck of land is a very rare place indeed." began Troger as if he were starting on of his many tales, "Even if you do not understand it now, the stories told here transcend time. The adventures, the characters, even the morals are as vital today as they were when our ancestors first used them to explain how the Earth was made or why we get toothaches." He paused and looked out the window briefly. "And those, like you, who are blessed with a vivid and lively imagination can often see beyond the reality of the situation. Tonight you saw Vikings. This site was built on an old Viking camp, just far enough inland to provide shelter from potential rivals and invaders. People became used to coming out here to listen to stories and tales as well as reports or braggings of the great adventures. Thus a tradition was born. Since then there has been at least one story teller living here."

"When did the Trolls come?" I asked breathless with excitement.

"They came almost from the beginning hiding deep in the wood, watching and listening. I think they actually started to ‘visit’ after Old Bernt came with a Troll named Zeka. After that they came often and began to trade."

I must have looked perplexed, so he paused and looked over at our guests as if asking for permission to say what he was about to reveal.

"Many Trolls are fine craftsman and artisans. They make all kinds of wonderful things of stone, wood, Earth and bone. Some work wonders with skins and hides. Others make almost magical potions of herbs and other natural substances. Most of the things they make are used by the Trolls themselves but from time to time they need things that they cannot make. So they bring various items they make to trusted ‘troll friends’ to trade for the what they want. The Shop became just such a place. Ola always let people think he made the goods and that is usually just fine with the Trolls. I suppose I will do the same. I will use the money and bartered items to get them what they need, which will usually be tools and knives and mostly fabric."

"What about the potions and medicines?" I asked curiously.

Troger shook his head. "Usually we can’t sell them because they are made for Trolls but we will always have a few vials on hand just in case a troll needs help."

"Has that ever happened?" I asked excitedly.

"Once," said Troger glancing at his other guests. "Ola told me that the reason Ntram is here is that he got very sick. His wife brought him here as the nearest ‘safe’ place. She is not a healer, but she was able to use what we had here to keep him alive until a full Troll healer arrived. Since then, perhaps for the past 60 or 70 years, these two have dropped around more than any other."

I was in awe and I turned and looked at Ydnas who smiled and gave her mate’s hand a squeeze. "Wow, that must be a story all by itself."

The Story Teller nodded. "It is, and I will tell it someday but most of our stories are those who have been passed down from generation to generation. We owe a great debt to two men we lost just about 20 years ago. Peter Christen Asbjornsen (1813 to 1882) and Jorgen Moe (1812 - 1882) gathered an abundance of stories that we can use if we ever run out. Naturally many of our stories come from the Trolls themselves. They will sometimes trade us stories for the goods they need. Ola and the others considered that a very fair trade, and I will continue the tradition."

"So the Story Place was here first, then the shop." I said

"In a way. This house is 72 or 73 years old but the addition where we tell the stories was built only about 30 years ago. Traditionally the stories have been told around the fire and we have a warm stove inside to continue that, but what makes this place special is what you see when you look through the eyes of your imagination. Take a look out the window and see with your heart."

I did as I was told and gazed off into the trees.

"Now picture a group of Vikings gathered around a fire. The children are on the ground while the adults stand or sit on logs...."

I did as I was told and the window seemed to cloud and as it cleared I saw the scene I had watched earlier, only I had not noticed the children before.

"He looks like you." I muttered noticing the bearded Viking again.

Troger ignored my comment. "Now imagine you are looking out into a great city."

The colors seemed to swirl and in an instant I was looking out the window onto a crowded street in Oslo.

"Let me try!" I demanded as I concentrated on looking for Trolls hiding in the forest. The trees returned, coming into focus just as a large, two-headed Troll strolled into view. His right head turned and looked at the shop causing him to pause. He then smiled and waved as he/they walked on.

Before I could see anything else, Troger’s voice entered my mind. Somehow, it sounded older and a bit shakier.

"...So it does not matter where the Story Place is, the importance is that the windows, wherever they are, stay open within your mind."

"Grandpa told me that his Great Grandfather was a story teller." I said trying to look for more Trolls.

"Bernt? Yes many of the stories come from him and the Trolls he knew. Your Grandpa, as you know, is a great Story Teller. It gives me comfort because a hundred years from now this shop may not even be here, but what you pass on to your children and grandchildren will help keep all of us alive and the Norwegian heritage in the forefront of their hearts. It is every Story Teller’s hope that when people look back on their time the stories and myths of the day will still be teaching, amusing, and inspiring. For me, this is especially true because we are becoming an independent people once again. We’ll be able to choose our own destiny and create our own heritage."

"You are becoming quite the talker." said a voice behind me. I spun around and saw Grandpa standing in the door way. I looked back and sitting on the chair was Gran-pa Troger as I had seen him earlier in the day.

Before I could demand what had happened, Grandpa spoke as if he had read my mind.

"Trolls are creatures of myth and myth is timeless. They are also, as you know, magic."

"There is an old Troll saying," continued Gran-pa Troger, "Impossible, possible. Think and believe, limits go."

"In other words ‘There are no limits to what you can do if you think beyond what others believe.’ You are here because you walked here but you see through the magic of your young and imaginative heart."

"It is that, or this is a wondrous dream." concluded Troger.

"It has to be real!" I said stifling yawn.

The next morning I awoke in the middle of the big feather bed upstairs above the Troll Shop. As I slowly became aware of myself I heard laughter and low conversation from below. I jumped up noting that I was still dressed except for my shoes which I hurriedly put on and clomped down the stairs.

As I entered the room I saw Grandpa and Troger sitting in two of the chairs sipping coffee and chatting good naturedly. Both turned and smiled as I entered the room.

"Hungry?" asked Troger nodding toward a large platter of cheese and bread.

I nodded noticing a bowl of honey butter in the center of the bread.

"Troger told me the details of your little adventure. I must say I am not sure what to think about your leaving without permission even if it was to follow a Troll. When I awoke and found the note I dressed and hurried over here. I was very much relieved to find you well. Sometimes adventures with Trolls are not so safe and boring." said Grandpa, a bit sterner than I would have hoped.

"Are you going to tell papa?" I asked my appetite suddenly diminishing.

"Best not to, Bernt." said Troger. "That son of yours may not understand, and why worry his mother needlessly. Everything turned out fine."

Grandpa seemed to take forever to think it through but finally he nodded in agreement. "But I never want you to do such a thing again." He said seriously. "Now eat so we can get going. We have a boat to catch."

I smiled and nodded happily as I dug into the food my appetite seriously restored.

Finally I wiped the milk from my lip and looked around. "Where are the Trolls?" I asked curiously.

"Where they always are." replied Troger

We walked out of the shop and there on their log sat Ntram and Ydnas, just as I recalled them. We said our goodbyes and I gave Gran-pa Troger a hug before taking my Grandpa’s hand and starting down the path. My head was bursting with questions but all Grandpa would say as we walked was that we could talk about it once we got on the boat. We continued to walk when I heard a sound behind me. I was not sure but I could have sworn that I heard a gravelly giggle float through the air. I stopped cold in my tracks. When I turned back to gaze at the Troll Shop, I was absolutely certain I saw Ntram wink as the little shop seemed to fade into the forest and disappear. With a smile I squeezed Grandpa’s hand and began our journey home.

 

Final thoughts: Our trip back from Trondheim was uneventful. It was as if nature and the Trolls knew that I had been through enough on that trip. I have been back several times since that day and I have enjoyed the wonders of the city. Is the Troll Shop Still there? You ask. Was my adventure a dream or magic? Well, that is for you to decide; but the Story Place does exist and just as Troger said, it is here for all the world to see and for all the people of the North to find just a smidgen of their heritage. My advice to you.. Share this Story Place and perhaps you will help build someone else’s magical dreams and keep our Norse heritage alive for another 100 Years!

 

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