Authors: Annie Eppa
© Copyright 2013 Annie Eppa. All Rights Reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imaginations or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from the author.
The Tollkeeper is an erotic fantasy short story slightly inspired by the fairy tale, Three Billy Goats Gruff, and retold in a completely different way.
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They called him the Mountain, and in many ways, he was.
As a child he was called Roland Trollsson, and he had always been stronger than most, more heavily built than other boys. He spent his childhood at an isolated farm where few people visited, and lesser farmhands around to help meant there was always more work to do. He lifted bales of hay, rode horses, and herded cattle. He worked from morning till night in the fields, plowing and harvesting crops no matter the weather. Raging winds and rain did not deter him, nor did the scalding heat of the sun. He was also apprenticed to a local stonemason, and taught all the tricks of his trade.
He was an orphan, his mother dying shortly after he was born, and his father abandoning him soon afterward. He was taken in by the kindly farm’s owner, and grew up strong and powerful, as tall as a tree trunk and just as thick, with ham-sized hands and broad shoulders. He was nearly seven feet tall, and was not conventionally handsome. He was well-formed, with his hard jaw and his intelligent brown eyes with their golden flecks. But his face was just a little too thick, his expression just a little too intimidating, to be the knight in shining armor of bards’ tales. A knight in dented armor perhaps, said the farm owner, who was the closest thing he had ever had to a father; one too busy saving the world, to think of polishing his broken shield.
When he was eighteen, his master died, and his lands passed onto a nephew, who was less kindly than his uncle. With nothing else to tie him to the place, the youth decided to travel. He had saved a little money over the years, and thought he would find more work in the city. But people were far too easily intimidated by his hulking build and his immense strength and, though he was a good stonemason, few people sought him out for his services.
Inevitably, he found one place that welcomed his brutish appearance and his powerful physique. He enlisted in the king’s army.
He had fought in the past, but only with pitchforks and bare fists. He had fought others, too; stubborn farmhands, trespassers, wild animals. But he’d never killed anyone before, was shocked to discover how good he was at it. In the numerous battles he had taken part in, always for king and country, he was never at a loss for targets, never left the battlefield without cutting a large swathe through his opponents, killing many and wounding more.
He saved the king once, taking an arrow through the shoulder when it would have gone through his ruler’s heart. He had snapped off the end and continued on despite the pain, until there was nobody left to fight. It left an angry red scar down his upper arm, but scars suited his body, and gave credence to his bravery. The king visited him afterward, said it was his personal seal stamped into the Mountain’s skin. His own special badge of honor, for saving his life.
It was the king who started calling him the Mountain, and the name stuck. He stood taller than most of the other soldiers, and there were those, eager to earn a reputation themselves, who used his youth as a reason to bully him. But the Mountain was quicker than he looked, and one blow from his fist was enough to send his opponent to his knees, even without a sword, and this furthered his fame. He followed orders well, gave as much respect as he got, but kept mostly to himself, friendly but never overly so.
As the years passed, he rose steadily up the ranks, and his commanders all praised the Mountain as a hard worker, quick to action and slow to anger, well-versed in sword and strategy.
The Mountain’s Rod, was what most of the camp followers called him, at night. His cock was proportional to his build, even a little more so; long and thick, ugly and veined. Some few girls would have difficulty taking him all in, but his technique and prowess in bed was as good as in battle - relentless, thorough, unyielding. His bed partners were no fragile flowers, and welcomed his roughness, his girth. On some nights, their cries would echo through the camp. They clenched tightly around him, wailing their ecstasy while he pounded into their depths, spending on his cock many times before he himself was satisfied. He was not a gentle lover, and nobody expected him to be.
Their king emerged the winner five years later, but there was little for soldiers to do in peacetime. The Mountain had left the army a corporal, and would have been given more honors by the king himself, but he had turned down his offer to remain and keep order. The Mountain had been very good at fighting, but the endless bloodshed he had witnessed in the last several years had soured his taste for the whole thing. He had done his part for king and kingdom, and now all he wanted was solace, and solitude.
The king understood his need for wanderlust. He rewarded him with enough gold for a comfortable retirement, and promised him a small tract of land that he would set aside, for when the Mountain wished to settle down. “You are a strange one, Roland Trollsson,” he told the Mountain, “but I respect your decision, even envy you your freedom. Walk the world, my friend, and I hope somewhere in your travels you will find your peace.”
And so the Mountain, the former soldier, once more became a stonemason, and traveled from city to city and village to village, where services of men like him were always needed. Now that he was a hero among the people, few turned him away. Those villages and small towns destroyed because of the war he now returned to, sought to rebuild. He was always good with his hands, and he could wield chisel and trowel with the same accuracy he had once wielded sword and shield, bow and arrow.
He had first come across the stone bridge during his third year of stonemasonry, and in the following months where he would travel to and from the cities he would happen upon it many more times. It was a long bridge that had fallen into disrepair many years before, the locals said. There were several steps built into the ground beside it, leading down onto the banks of the large river. Here he found a small stone house, abandoned but intact.
The closest village, Holden’s Cross, was a few miles away, and was too poor to afford its repairs, which was unfortunate. There were many villages here known for its small vineyards, which produced wine of limited quantity, but with first-class vintage. But they were surrounded on all sides by mountain ranges, and so trade between them and other cities had always been difficult. The easiest way would have been to travel past the bridge, into the town of Olyta, but they had no money, and the river was too swift and too wide to attempt. With no other alternatives they were forced to remain self-sufficient, or to barter among themselves. During years of famine, the Mountain knew, they would always be the first to suffer.
This broken stone bridge pulled at him; the old stone house by the river attracted him. There was something about the mountains in the distance that gave him comfort, that there could be things more immense than he. Only here could he feel dwarfed, made to feel like he was the same as anyone else. Although he found very little work there, the Mountain constantly made excuses to stay longer than he needed to, attracted to the close-knit community that reminded him in many ways of the farm of his childhood. But the stone bridge offended him. Its brokenness did not belong.
He took up his tools one day on a sudden whim, and began work on the bridge without telling anyone else. His efforts went unnoticed at first. As the bridge once more began to take shape, stone after stone finding their proper places, word began to spread inside the village, and even to a few others beyond.
It took him the better part of the year to accomplish, alone, this monumental task. The king’s money had ensured he would not suffer for want, so he did not worry much about food or shelter. He had refused the meager payment the villagers had tried to offer, and so they provided him food instead, and arranged to have him sleep at a small barn at the end of the day.
But as the months rolled by, the Mountain began spending more and more nights at the abandoned house underneath the stone bridge, rather than at the lodgings the people provided. While he was grateful for the villagers for their hospitality, he had never been one to rely on other people before, and had always felt uncomfortable. The house had not been lived in for many years, but the structure remained intact all this time. A few days was all he needed to make it livable again, and he spent most of his time here after his work was done for the day, adding small furnishings he carved and built with his own hands. A comfortable bed first, then a small table, then a chair, and a few more, until it began to feel like home.
He was patient and unyielding, rising at the break of dawn and working for hours on end, stopping only to eat or bathe or sleep, and in eight months he had finished the stone bridge. Now the people could barter with other villages and cities with their precious wine. Slowly but surely, they prospered.
His work was done, but the Mountain felt no inclination to leave. He liked his little stone house, liked having a place he had repaired with his own hands - a place he could call his own. He continued to refuse payment, so the villagers had come up with a new proposition. They needed someone to maintain the bridge, they said, who would collect toll fees from everyone seeking to cross. He would hold their payments until the annual village meetings where they would then decide what to do with the money, to benefit all. They would also need someone to stand guard for bandits and robbers. The Mountain could do this, they said. He could continue to live in the stone house, and he would be paid a certain stipend each year, and they would call it the Trollsson bridge, in his honor.
The Mountain agreed to this proposal, pleased that he could stay on. So, at a grizzled age of twenty-seven, he became the stone bridge’s tollkeeper. Whenever anyone chose to cross the bridge, they would ring a small bell on one end, and the Mountain would emerge from his house to unlock the gate and allow them to pass, for the price of a few coins.
One clear night, that small bell jangled, and the Mountain went up the granite steps to look. There was a small wagon, small and rickety and not as well-maintained as the others that had gone before. One scrawny-looking horse pulled it, and stood by the gate. As the Mountain approached, he was surprised to see that its driver was a beautiful young girl of perhaps eighteen or nineteen, a faint look of apprehension on her pretty face as she watched him draw nearer. He had never seen her before, and it was obvious from the way she drew back from him, her eyes taking in his largeness and heavy build, that she had never seen him before, either.
“My grandfather and I would like to go to the fair,” she said softly, voice trembling, “for we have wine and a bit of vegetables to sell.”
The Olyta Fair happened once every month, and it had the reputation of being the best marketplaces to sell one’s wares within the kingdom. It had began soon after the stone bridge was repaired, and was hosted at a small town past the bridge called Olyta, only some miles away. Most of the caravans from the other villages had left earlier that night, and the Mountain was surprised that the young woman had started out so late.
“My grandfather wanted to come along,” the girl said, as if reading his mind, “and it took awhile for him to… well, we had never been out of the village before.” The older man was already nodding off beside her.
“Toll?” He inquired, unable to look away. She was a lovely thing, and his lust, muted for so many years, returned with an intensity that astounded him. He had not had a woman since work on his bridge began, and he had not had one after its completion.