“I don’t know what they’re doing, Jak, but whatever it is, it’s important to them.”
That’s what my father said when he first took me up to see the quarry as a boy, two hours’ stroll from our village, over Munrig’s Crag and down Halsendale beyond the waterfalls.
It’s an unusually isolated spot, and one I’ve been back to many times since, to watch the Trolls at work. It’s as if an enormous finger had poked into the ground, picking at an irritating and crusty vein of limestone behind its ear. It left a rough and rugged hole, pitted with tunnels going goodness-knows-where. And all day, every day of the year, for as many years as there have been men in our village, the Trolls have mined further into the rock, disappearing into and emerging from the tunnels, carrying picks and shovels.
They are totally unhurried. There is no sign of excitement, nor of concern. Just diligence and patience (in as much as their ugly faces can convey). They bring no stone up out of the ground, they seem to take nothing down there.
As a young and mindless adolescent, I daringly went there one night with friends. We walked down amongst the Trolls, terrified but blustering with bravado. We shouted at them, swore at them, even threw small rocks and hit. But they did not respond. This silent unresponsiveness was, if anything, more terrifying than the bulky monsters themselves - it was as though they were totally disconnected from our world and were unaware of our existence. Shivering with incomprehension, we fled into the night.
Now, forty years later, I still sit here at the rim of the quarry, watching the Trolls, and wonder what it is they’re doing. A cold breeze blows up at me from below and I wrap my cloak around me. It’s time to head back to our village.
Additional Ideas (10)
I swear it's the truth. My grandfather told me.
The Trolls are preparing a surprise attack on a Dwarven city in several different places at once to make sure of success.