'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.

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The Trolls are prisoners of a long-finished war. They are magically bound to the quarry where they are forced to labour their (extremely long) lives away. Their sense of hope being dulled by their sad past and the loss of their freedom and loved ones means that by now they're impervious to the taunts of pitiful boys.

The Trolls are performing the valuable task of growing minerals. They look after veins of ore which are germinating in the heat-beneath-the-ground and which they planted from seed thousands of years ago.

The Trolls are rangers in an underground ecology where they cull and control populations of cave-beasts. They need to come out for air every so often.

The Trolls are starting to build a new city, and know that to kill humans will bring a heap of trouble on them before their city is finished.

The Trolls are the undead zombie servants of a necromancer who is using them to uncover an old tomb.

The Trolls are dead, and have been for a very long time. They were once magically bound into the service of delving into the earth to build fortifications for a now long dead empire. The enchantment didn't die with their bodies, and instead preserved them in a sort of timelessness. The trolls seem detached because they are. They dring up no goods and take nothing down because they endlessly repeat their last actions before corporeal death. They go down, strike at empty air where the last block they cut was and then ferry it to the surface, moving nothing more than a memory. They are ghosts not of spirit, but of magic.

As every little child knows, the original trolls have eaten rocks, yes, stones and the like were their food. And these are the last remains of the trolls of old, they have found a unique type of rock, that has made them addicted, and now they live out their eternal lives in unending torment. I heard that if they were really hindered, they would wake up after some time - but boy, would they be angry!

I swear it's the truth. My grandfather told me.

The Trolls once had a great Empire, streching miles and leagues under the earth, but in time, as Great Underground Empires are wont to do; they struck upon a chamber that should have been better left unfound. Now, ages and aeons later, they are constantly filling in the deepest of their tunnels so that no man-kin, nor anything else, could find what they found and unleash it upon an unexpecting world.

The Trolls are digging for the lost portal to their Mad Cosmic God. Once they find the Gem of Algrath, life as all the intelligent races know it, will end. A new era will arrive. Those who believe in Algrath will rule over the shatter minds and bodies of those that survive 'He Who Breaks The Will''s comming.

The Trolls are preparing a surprise attack on a Dwarven city in several different places at once to make sure of success.