Ken's Tales: Agnimukha and the Winter Troll

Þjóðvarður’s Tales

Agnimukha and the Winter Troll

Agnimukha Sunil Modhwadiya was a man with a thousand faces. Nine hundred and ninety-nine of them were the friendliest faces you’d ever see – pretty or ugly, it made no difference, his smile would melt the frostiest heart. But Agnimukha means “fire-face,” for it was the thousandth face that gave him his name, and a terrible burning visage it was indeed.

Now it happened one summer day after the devilspawn appeared, but before the sea began to swallow the land, that a cold wind blew down the Klamath. This was no ordinary cold snap, no indeed. This wind was so cold that as it swept over the great river all the water froze solid, with ducks stuck fast where they’d been swimming. It was so cold it froze the trees solid, and when beavers tried to make their dams they ended up making snow-cones instead. Needless to say, the people of Six Rivers were having a hard time of it. They shivered and stamped their feet, but it was so cold that building a fire was no good because the flames would freeze before they heated up a room. Agnimukha saw how the people were suffering and decided he’d better put a stop to such unseasonable weather. So he put on his sweater, picked up his trident, and started walking upriver to find where the wind was coming from.

A long walk it was. He traveled for nine days and nine nights, not stopping even once to rest. The farther he walked the colder and snowier it got, until the snowdrifts towered over his head and he could hardly walk for how slippery the icy ground was. So he carved a pair of skates out of the ice and just skated his way on up the Klamath. Eventually he came to a place high in the Trinity Mountains where the Klamath springs out of snowmelt, and that’s where he found the source of that cold wind: an enormous frosty troll lay on the ground, snoring. Every snore shook the mountains and blasted frozen air straight down towards Six Rivers.

Now that he’d found out what was causing the trouble, Agnimukha was so happy he danced for the joy of it. What a simple thing to solve, this was! Putting on his friendliest, sunniest face, he tapped the troll on its shoulder. “Excuse me, good troll!”

The troll rumbled and roared and shook himself awake. “Who wakes me from my sleep,” he said, “and for what reason?”

“I am Agnimukha Sunil Modhwadiya, and I woke you from your sleep to ask that you please roll over! Your breath is flowing down the river and freezing everyone. If you turn around you will only freeze the mountains, which are already covered in snow.”

Now the troll laughed until his sides shook. “What care I if everyone freezes? They are nothing but tasty snacks anyhow. I will sleep where I want and who will dare stop me?”

“I am Agnimukha Sunil Modhwadiya, and I will dare stop you!” When he said this, he crashed his trident into the ground and gave a fearsome roar. That troll saw Agnimukha’s terrible face, and trembled. But trolls are not ones to quietly back down from a fight, so he gave a roar of his own and charged.

Long and hard did they grapple with each other. As they threw one another into the ground they set the earth shaking so hard you could feel it all the way to Portland. More than once that troll tried to freeze Agnimukha with his icy breath and frosty grip, but Fire-Face’s blood boiled with rage and the frost would not bite him. At last Agnimukha’s fury was too much to bear and he ripped the troll clean in two. Once dead the troll turned back into the pale stone it came from. One half landed on one side of the river, the other half on the other side… and you can still see those stones today if you look up the Klamath toward the Trinity Mountains.

Ken's Tales: Agnimukha and the Winter Troll

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