Katrine and the Serpent

A Danish fairytale reimagined.

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1. Introduction

 

At least, as much as we possibly could. Being a village of farmers, our pigs grazed at the edges and our crops spanned the fields against its barriers. We dared not venture through lest we bring the wrath of trolde, the trolls upon us. Though we trusted each other, we kept our doors safely latched at night and our fires burning in our hearths to prevent anything unwelcome from coming in. We all remembered Elise, who forgot to light her fire one night, and her unbaptized child was replaced by a changeling. Naturally, like any wise Danish woman, she tossed it in the fire. Thankfully, the troll's true mother came and saved it before it could be incinerated, and returned Elise's own child to her. She brought it to be baptized the next morning, and her fires burned bright for all nights after.

We shuddered to think of what they might do to us if we wandered into their territory. After all, we tossed their children into ovens. So we kept a wide berth. But although we knew the trolls existed in the woods, we didn't know what else might. All our roads leading into the merchant's harbour Køpmannæhafn stretched around the borders of that thick forest.

The forest terrified me, perhaps even more than my own father. He resented me for not being born a boy to help in the fields, and beat me on occasion for being clumsy and slow to obey. I had reoccurring nightmares where I was swallowed up by the thick green trees, where no light could penetrate the heavy brush. 

I avoided the forest at all costs, until the fated day where my life changed forever.

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