The Troll Sagas-Chapter 12
The Synkasti Trolls’ Path to Evil
According to the Annals of Rusa, the servant of Jumala, these things were revealed to him in the land of Eurartu before the great journey of the troll tribes to Norway:
“All the purposes of Jumala, the Creator of all things, are wise and good beyond the understanding of men or trolls. His wisdom and power are everlasting and without limit. Nothing exists beyond his knowledge and control. Not even the smallest creature falls asleep and returns to dust outside of Jumala’s knowledge and will. Even the mighty oceans obey the limits he has set. Their waves come no farther than his command. He says to the great whirlwinds, ‘Be still!’ and they cease their roaring rage at once and disappear. Nothing can be hidden from him or prevail against his will. Truth and love are inseparable from his nature and are written upon all his works. They are his banners forever. His ways are perfect, and his rule without limit or end. Even the stars sing of his glory.”
The Annals continue with this mystery: “Yet in his wisdom, Jumala allowed a great lie and with it evil to come into his world for a time. He alone knows its limit, when it will be crushed and cut off by his word. Long, long ago, a great winged-dragon called Elakorm brought a great lie, the first of all lies, to earth and it spread and created all manner of lies and evil that brought great confusion, strife, and suffering upon all the earth’s creatures. Even nature groaned with the chaos that Elakorm had created by deceiving mankind.”
Several generations after the Synkasti Trolls had settled in Norway, they began to depart from the teachings that Jumala had revealed to Rusa and the faithful Messengers that came after him. Some say that this departure came by the teachings of men who did not believe Jumala was truly good or had any power over their lives. The Synkasti concluded that because evil was in the world, Jumala was either not truly good, or he was not powerful enough to interfere with evil. They failed to consider that Jumala’s knowledge was perfect in all things past, present, and the future, while theirs was very limited even in the present. They especially failed to consider that Jumala’s wisdom was infinitely higher and deeper than their wisdom. Instead, they began to believe that they were wiser than Jumala, and even their goodness was above the goodness of Jumala. They were deceived by the lie of Elakorm and believed that Jumala was not really good or powerful. So they trusted in their own wisdom and goodness in things that were important to them. Thus the Synkasti began to set their own standards of right and wrong and what was wise and what was foolish. Whatever they wanted became their truth, and whatever Jumala had spoken they treated as a lie and despised it. Because of this, Jumala removed much of their ability to distinguish between truth and lies.
The leaders of the Synkasti proclaimed that freedom, equality, and democracy were the highest values of wisdom and that Jumala’s standards of goodness robbed them of their rightful pleasures. All but a few of the Synkasti trolls cheered and celebrated this proclamation.
In a few generations, the new system of Synkasti beliefs, which they considered very enlightened compared to the ways of Jumala as revealed to Rusa and practiced by the other troll tribes, began to have noticeable effects on the culture and lives of the Synkasti.
They believed that pleasure, power, and treasure were the standards of right. They believed lies were justified by favorable results and that violence was justified by a favorable outcome. The very name of Jumala enraged them, and they made even the favorable mention of his name and teachings a crime. They strained every nerve to drive the memory of Jumala from their midst and held vile celebrations to commemorate their freedom from his teachings.
Whereas marriage was a revered custom among the other troll tribes, it became unimportant to the Synkasti. Marriage stood in the way of expressing their physical passions in whatever way they wanted and with whomever they wanted, even with whatever they wanted. They then began to consider children an unnecessary burden. Under this thinking, many inconvenient baby Synkasti trolls were simply eliminated before or shortly after birth. No one wanted the burden of raising them. “Family” and kin had ceased to be meaningful in their society.
But the rulers of the Synkasti did not want the number of the ruled to dwindle, because it would decrease their wealth and power. They decided that the Synkasti Tribe would raise those troll children who seemed fit and useful for the benefit of the tribe. Many would be made into warriors or slaves, some into servants, and a few into military or political leaders. The system that evolved from this was that troll babies were taken from their mothers immediately upon birth—usually without qualm of resistance. They were raised like platoons of soldiers, about 40 in most classes, who were sorted out for elimination, life-long military service, slavery, special service, or leadership. As a result, the Synkasti became a totalitarian society. Every aspect of their society was shaped to the objectives of political and military power and of conquest, pillaging, manipulation, and dominance. Most of the females became slaves, who were given as rewards to the best and most faithful warriors and political leaders, especially the highest ranking and most powerful.
Thus the Synkasti, who had declared freedom, equality, and democracy their highest values—even above the teachings of Jumala—delivered themselves into miserable slavery and tyranny.
The Synkasti lost many of the special gifts that had been given to the trolls. They could not make themselves invisible or inflate their size or disguise themselves as a human. They lost the troll gift for understanding the languages of men and animals. They could not look into their own hearts much less the hearts of others. They retained a sort of mechanical and cunning intelligence and verbal fluency but had no true wisdom.
The Synkasti became lovers of self, lovers of treasure, greedy, boastful, slanderers, mockers of purity, haters of good, unloving, ungrateful, unmindful of the honor due to parents, unmindful of any responsibility to love and care for their children, brutal and without compassion, malicious in speech, without self-control, always demanding their way, treacherous, reckless, conceited, unforgiving, ruthless, eager to take advantage of the weak, lovers of vile pleasures, and enemies of Truth and their Creator. Deceived by their own lies and the corruption of their hearts and reason, possessing a wisdom that was foolishness, they praised lies and wickedness. Yet they were arrogant and self-righteous beyond bearing.
In battle, the Synkasti were fierce and disciplined. When battle was about to be joined, they intimidated their enemies with loud howling, growling, and beating their swords or short metal-tipped spears against their metal-covered wooden shields in unison with every step forward. Behind them were large kettledrums, horns, and the clashing of metal bars to make a terrifying clamor. On first contact, they fought like ferocious mad dogs rushing upon their enemies and even throwing themselves against the marching shield-wall formations favored by the Valoisa, the Vihanne, the Punainen, and the Keltainen trolls. Just before and during such a clash they hurled dark clouds of spears and javelins in a high arch over the first rank of their enemy’s shields intending to weaken the second and third rank of their enemy and create panic and distraction. Then came a shower of arrows and rocks. Large tree limbs might also be used to batter a shield-wall. Their weakness was that once the first well-rehearsed maneuvers of battle were done, they were poor at responding to new developments in the battle and often became confused. In individual combat, they were strong and terrifying but neither clever nor flexible. Their most common weapons were a short sword or short spear, but they used a variety of weapons including ranks of archers and those specializing in axes and hurling javelins and other deadly missiles. Troll battles were usually decided within an hour unless replacements arrived.
“Beneath the yellow full moon rising,
Danced the trolls with rhythmic chanting.
Loud the measured beat of ready swords,
Clanged upon their armored shield-boards.”–LMS
The Synkasti preferred to attack at night. Hence their outer uniforms were of black-stained leather including thick boots and gloves. They wore metal breastplates and helmets, which they darkened with scorching and smoke. Every unit of ten trolls carried their Black Raven banner to battle. When their legions massed on the field of battle before nightfall, thousands of black-uniformed trolls with hundreds of red and black banners were awesome to behold. When hundreds of these banners were combined with the boom of kettledrums and the rhythmic clamor of spears beating upon their shields, the Synkasti legions seemed invincible.
They were organized by tens, hundreds, and thousands, each with a commander and one or two deputy commanders. Their insignia of rank were numerals sewn on their left shoulder. The commander of ten wore the troll numeral 3, and the commander of a hundred wore the troll numeral 6. The common soldiers in the ranks of these warriors were usually manned by the same training cadres, in which they spent their whole lives from infancy to death. Although loyalty to commanders and even the Synkasti tribe was often weak, their loyalty to the comrades of their training cadre was often intense. The lives of the lower ranks were marked by constant hardness, and they enjoyed few moments of pleasure except for the regulated duty of joining with slaves to procreate the next generation of soldiers. They had no possessions they could call their own. Synkasti warriors were fed four good meals per day, but in such a short and regulated manner per meal that meals were just another duty without pleasure. Their meals were nutritious but consisted uniformly of various goulash-mixtures of fish and edible plants without much consideration of taste or odor.
The lower ranks only hope of pleasure or possessions was promotion to at least the rank of deputy commander of ten. Even then, life remained hard, possessions few, and pleasures short, unless one became a deputy commander of 100. For the most part, discipline was enforced by these few rewards and fear of being beaten with a heavy staff. Failure to meet critical expectations in battle was often punished by severe beatings or more lethal applications of spear, sword, or axe.
This description of Synkasti warriors was given by Herjolf Haakonsson while exploring the Rauma River in Norway sometime before the year 890. Thereafter, they dwindled in numbers. No one has seen the likes of them since the year 1208, when Malcolm Rognvaldsson, the Provost of Stromness in the Orkney Islands, reported complaints that six of them had attacked a church in Stromness.