Thighbiter Grizzleaxe surveyed the cavern full of soldiers and felt his heart swell with pride. Because they were orcs, the soldiers slouched to attention rather than standing, and their rows were definitely not ruler-straight — but they were trying, and that was the important thing.

Thighbiter cleared his throat, and the murmuring died down. “My fellow orcs!” he shouted, and had to pause until a ragged cheer quieted. “Today is a momentous day. We now have a plan to drive the elves away from our mountain forever!”

The cheering this time went on for several minutes, booming off the cavern’s ceiling so that it sounded as though the mountain itself was cheering too. Thighbiter grinned. He continued, “Tomorrow at dawn, we will send a hand-picked band of soldiers to the eastern gate with one of our best wizards, to take the elves by surprise — ”

“Oh, you think you can take the elves by surprise?” a voice called from the crowd. “I bet you can’t even find the elves, much less surprise them.”

Thighbiter glared in the direction of the voice. The soldiers were all looking around and glaring too, trying to figure out who had spoken. “Yes, we’ll surprise the elves. They won’t expect us at dawn. We’ll wait until the first rays of sunlight — ”

“Oh, brilliant, get everyone blinded by the sun so they can be killed easier. Great strategy!” The voice laughed.

“Now just listen a moment — ” Thighbiter began, but his advisor nudged him.

“Sir, we have a troll,” he muttered.e

Thighbiter took a deep breath to calm himself down. A troll, of course — the little buggers crept in all the time. He announced, “Any trolls in the cavern will be slaughtered and eaten for breakfast.”

“If you can catch a troll,” the voice called. It had moved, headed for the exit.

At least it would be gone soon. Thighbiter waited a moment, but before he could gather his thoughts enough to continue his speech, a scrimmage broke out near the back of the cavern.

He watched the knot of soldiers, afraid they’d begun fighting among themselves, but a few minutes later it broke up. Two big orcs plowed through the crowd with a struggling figure between them.

They shoved their captive up the steps onto the dais. He was a runt of a troll, elf-skinny but with a troll’s belligerent gray face. As Thighbiter watched, the troll flickered through half a dozen magical disguises, mimicking the orcs around him.

“Does your father know you’re here?” Thighbiter said.

“Sure he does,” the troll said. “He lets me do anything I want. Today he told me I should get some practice out here with the stupid orcs, but I’m going to tell him it’s too easy.”

Thighbiter controlled his temper with an effort. Trolls were just an annoyance if you didn’t let them get to you; if you did, you’d end up fighting other orcs while the troll stole everything it could get its hands on.

The troll said, “My dad says everyone in the mountains laughs at Thighbiter’s soldiers, because they let the elves take the eastern and the western gates — ”

“That’s enough!” Thighbiter shouted. He took another deep breath and said more quietly, “You can leave now, or we can eat you. Your choice.”

The troll puffed his scrawny chest out and flicked to a new disguise — Thighbiter himself. It was like looking into a mirror. “Eat who?” the troll said in Thighbiter’s voice, and laughed nastily.

Thighbiter glared, but a thought struck him suddenly. “Can you make yourself look like anything?”

In answer, the troll imitated a rock, a cave rat, and a naked she-orc in quick succession before returning to his own form. “Jealous? I’m glad I’m not an orc, you can’t do anything — ”

“Stow it, troll.” Thighbiter thought of the elf armies camped at both mountain gates. He thought of how he hated elves — the smug way they skewered orcs on their sun-forged blades, their self-satisfied battle cries, their serried ranks of impeccably dressed soldiers. He thought of what would happen if a troll got in among them.

He grinned and put his arm around the troll’s skinny shoulders. “Tell me, son, would you like to meet some elves?”

K.C. Shaw lives in East Tennessee.  Her stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies.

Rate this story:
 average 5 stars • 1 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Great job, KC. I loved the cheeky little troll. Sounds like the opening of a much longer piece.

  • Jen

    Heh, too funny!

  • Bob

    Very well done. I especially like the way you’ve co-opted the internet discussion-board definition of “troll” and applied it to Tolkein’s milieu. Imaginative and clever and fun.

  • I believe that’s the first troll I’ve been fond of in a long time. Good work, KC.

  • So Thighbiter decided to go trolling for elves, huh? Funny story, K.C.

  • Elves beware!

  • Good one KC! A fun way to start the day!

  • Yes!

  • Roberta SchulbergGoro

    I’m taking lessons in diplomacy, so I won’t comment.

  • Sharon

    Loved it! Every belligerent, gray-faced troll on every message board I’ve been on comes to mind.

  • Roberta SchulbergGoro

    Any deus ex machina will do in fantasies.

  • Roberta, I hate to argue with trolls, but I’m not sure you know what “deus ex machina” means.

    Technically translated, it means “god from a machine”, but in literature, it is a situation where you can see that it is the hand of the author resolving conflicts, rather than the main characters. That doesn’t happen here.

    Also, it’s extremely passive aggressive to say that “I won’t comment” and then comment anyway with an insult.

    Finally, keep in mind that, if you don’t behave in the comments thread of any story, I will ban you from this site. You have been previously warned. Consider this warning number two.

  • LOL! I really enjoyed that one, K.C. 😉

  • kathy k

    Great story K.C. Perfect way to start the morning. Thanks

  • Roberta SchulbergGoro

    I was referring to fantasies in general in which anything can be written regardless of experience or truth to human life. Except for some very few which actually refer to politics, actual dreams of real people, etc., I personally dislike most fantasy writings.

    This was a fantasy, wasn’t it? Or am I mistaken about genre? Actually, I was also referring to comments. I don’t comment about works I definitely don’t like or understand, but I do sometimes comment about genres.
    One may start one’s own comment thread as long as it is pertinent to the writing. As you see, it did not mention the particular story, but did discuss the genre in general.

  • J.C. Towler

    I liked the clever play on “troll” in this story, with a nod to the more modern definition of an e-bomb thrower. My only knock on the story was it felt like a chapter from something longer: the unresolved reference to the troll’s father, Grizzleaxe’s budding plan, etc. Minor thing, really. I’ve certianly penned stories with such ambiguous endings, so it’s the troll calling the orc ugly, but sometimes your reader lets you get away with it and sometimes not.

  • Edward Caputo

    Love the play on ‘troll.’ Fun read. Quick 5!

  • Funzilla1969

    Really liked the story. Can’t wait for another one from ya.

  • A shape-shifting troll, sarcastic, mocking a gathering of orcs. Marvelous idea.


  • Love it! My favorite part of flash is the payoff in the end, and the last bit was wonderful.

  • BT

    Excellent story, KC – The characters of Thighbiter and and the cheeky troll were very well drawn. Loved it.

  • Pilgrimage

    Thighbiter Grizzleaxe—that’s the best name I’ve read in forever. And the story did not disappoint. It got better. The ending was clever and made me smile, what more could I ask for?