THE SHAMANIC DEATH RITES OF THE TROLLS ("GHRUAGHKOL SNIGH")

PERCEPTION OF DEATH - BODY PREPARATION - DISPOSAL METHODS
- MYTH/LORE

The common troll will usually die an injury or defeat related death, predestined by the troll’s violent lifestyle. Though simple minded, the essence of a troll is survival. As such they embrace a natural death by injury or loss wherever it strikes them, without fear. There are however a reserved few whose death mean more to the trolls, the death of a shaman. The passing of these mystic chosen ones is a carefully performed procedure mourned by the entire band. It is this ritual that brought forth the fantastical myth realted to the shaman's suspected 'amber heart'. Fierce and fearsome as the trolls’ reputation may be these ‘golden hearts’, pure ember lumps the size of a man's head, have driven many a foolish adventurer to stray into troll lands.

Perception of Death. Living on a basis of hunting and picking fights with whatever they come across, this giant race’s deaths are never peaceful or quiet. As much as the trolls respect strength and great fights, they do not have the ingenuity to celebrate the death of a tribe member, nor do they aspire to any kind of special death. Though simple minded the essence of a troll is nature and survival. As such they embrace a natural death without fear or second thought. To them the coming of unavoidable death marks the transition of the troll passing from strong to weak, an undesired state for the troll.

More important yet than the strength within trolls is their perception of the ‘inner fire’. The inner fire, known as the GHRUAGHKOL in Trullish, they believe cannot be destroyed by death and will remain within the world of Caelereth as it awaits the summoning of their trollish shamans. Preserving this inner fire is perhaps the ultimate essence of a
troll’s death. It thus comes to no surprise that the GHRUAGHKOL of the shaman is revered above that of the individual troll. While common trolls will retreat from the band and set themselves to rest, their petrified bodies thus becoming the shrine of their inner fire, the shaman receives a resting place far greater. Establishing this resting place and the ritual it lays upon the band is attended by all and revered with utmost respect, even by the most simple and violent trolls.
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Body Preparation. Before understanding the ritual performed upon a shaman’s death though, one must first grasp the nature behind a trolls’ petrification and decaying after death. It is whispered in many human legends that a trolls will turn to stone under the light of day, and the many oddly-shaped rocks dotted throughout troll territories seem to bear these legends truth. However, upon investigation Compendium researchers have found that sunlight does not actually harm living trolls. Rather, a trollish corpse does not rot, but will slowly petrify into stone under direct sunlight. It appears to be the trolls’ belief that the spirit of the deceased will thus return to the earth from whence it was born.

Bearing this in mind, the shaman’s ‘true sight’ and pure spirit receives a whole new meaning. Though none have been able to confirm the suspicion, it is said that upon petrifying, a shaman’s heart forms a lump of the purest amber, as large as a man’s head. Researchers have come upon this through careful observation of
trolls. Certain words were picked up when shadowing these giants. When communicating about the death of a shaman, the words IGH (translated "stone") and GHRUAGH (translated "fire") were incessantly mentioned, bringing up the suspicion that these shamans do indeed bear the mythical ‘heart of gold’.
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Disposal Methods. A shaman is able to sense when his death is approaching with astounding accuracy. Sensing his end, during the last decade of his life the shaman will choose an acolyte from among those that care for him. This acolyte will become the sole caretaker of the shaman as the other young trolls join the hunts of their elders. During this decade, the acolyte will learn the complete lore of the trolls. Such knowledge is only for shamans and their acolytes as other trolls live in blissful ignorance. This understanding and responsibility appears to be treasured within the band to such an extent that for this short decade, the acolyte receives two companions. In an almost uncharacteristic gesture these two trolls protect and aid the shaman acolyte. Though they stay well away from the shamanic lessons and secrets of the trade, they follow the young troll and ensure his safety. Having the acolyte perish would leave the band shaman-less and would spell their doom.

These guardians will play out thier role until the Shaman is ready to return to the earth and thus pass on the Inner Sight to his acolyte. When this time comes, the band assembles wordlessly and knows the true procession of their shaman’s death will ensue.

The shaman places himself in the centre of a chosen space, from which he no longer moves. Though researchers argue as to whether the band then chants or simply growls and snares, the band will stand around him, as if to bid their shaman farewell. The acolyte then approaches the shaman in the clearing, his two ‘guardians’ flanking him. Upon standing in front of the shaman, the two entrusted trolls then step forward and position themselves to either side of the shaman instead, but do not touch him. It is usually within this moment that the shaman beckons the acolyte to step forward, and with one final effort raises his paws to the young troll’s forehead and there bestows upon him the GHOAKOL, the inner sight, passing on into the spirit world as he does so.

The acolyte accepts the gift, and with a final act of reverence lowers the deceased shaman’s arm to his side. As tender as the moment may appear though, the young new shaman now faces the final step to solidify his full acceptance of the shamanic duties, and with it letting go of all previous ties and bonds. Without his two companions flinching or protesting the young troll then stabs through the two trolls’ abdomens, instantly killing them. Though no doubt expressions of agony and pain crawl across the trolls’ faces, they do not flinch or fall. Instead they know what is expected of them as a sacred duty towards their band. The two dying trolls who have guarded the new shaman through his first steps into shamanic duties now clasp their arms around the shaman’s still standing body, their embrace tight and strong so that the three bodies merge together as one big mass.

Researchers have agreed that this procession is one of the only times trolls may be observed in a civilized, almost mellow nature. The respect and reverence with which these wild furies act upon their shaman’s death “almost makes you forget that you’re staring at feral giants”, as stated by one of the Compendium researchers upon their somewhat unharmed return.

It is believed that the trolls perform this ritual for two reasons. The first is to truly sever the young shaman’s ties as a test of having ascended, while at the same time forming a robust shrine around their deceased leader’s slowly petrifying body, the stone shells of both the shaman’s own body and that of the two trolls encompassing him keeping that revered amber heart of the shaman safe and eternally grounded.

As agonizing as the ceremony may appear to the two ‘guardian’ trolls, these select two do not seem to argue their destiny; instead they seem to see the offering of their strong bodies as a chance to return to the earth together with the shaman’s pure inner fire, and performing an unspoken act of service to their band for guarding their shamanic leader.
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Myth/Lore. Legend has it that the shaman’s heart turns to a solid lump of purest amber, as large as a troll’s fist. As any such sized treasure would, stories and legends of it’s existence within shamanic statues soon travelled far and wide. As such this valuable treasure lead many a foolish adventurer to seek out these shrines and desecrate these rock formations, these ‘shells’, just to come by the shaman’s heart. No identifiable, let alone recognisable pieces were ever found of adventurers caught red handed by the trolls while desecrating a shrine. Return to the top

 Date of last edit 23rd Turning Star 1671 a.S.

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