Trolls are rare around Dornie — the settlement's inhabitants are much more likely to encounter a dragon or a kelpie — but up in the Kintail mountains and surrounding wilderness, there are enough sightings every year to remind people that they exist and are a very real danger to anyone who ventures into the Caledonian Forest and beyond.

There is no standard when it comes to trolls. They come in many different shapes and sizes, and some are solitary creatures while others live in small groups. Most feed on (and are fond of) the flesh of animals and people if they can get ahold of them, but some are herbivorous and subsist on fungi, berries and other wild foods that can be foraged. They have been reported as small as a human being to bigger than an elephant with the ability to hurl boulders, smash houses and drink up an entire pond in one sitting. Some stories describe them as crone-like with small eyes, large noses and ears with excessive body hair and a foul odor. Others give them skin with a texture like stone, or a blend of human and animal characteristics with long ears, a hunched back, a body covered in open sores, a tail like a wolf's and the tusks of a boar. There are sets of trolls that share one eye and pass it between them, trolls that live in caves and emerge only to hunt at night because sunlight will turn them to stone, trolls that resemble trees or rocks so closely that all they have to do is hold still and wait for something unfortunate to wander by.

The variation is endless, and the only commonly accepted facts are these:

  • Trolls are, for the most part, dim-witted and slow moving, but what they lack in speed and intelligence they make up for with ferocity and brute strength.
  • Trolls should always be considered antagonistic even if they give you reason to believe otherwise.
  • Trolls may understand human language but it is extremely difficult if not impossible to reason with them. They do not speak it well, if at all.