Troll Bridge (Pratchett)

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Troll Bridge
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: An aging barbarian hero sought to fulfill his father's advice by facing a troll in single combat, but instead found a struggling troll family and shared his concerns about the changing world.

In a bitterly cold and desolate landscape, an old man named Cohen the Barbarian and his talking horse approached a bridge guarded by a troll named Mica.

Cohen the Barbarian — narrator; old, experienced warrior; nostalgic, determined, and compassionate.
Mica — troll; traditionalist, proud, struggling to adapt to the changing world.

Cohen had come to face the troll in single combat, as his father had advised him when he was young. However, the world had changed since then, and trolls were no longer as fearsome as they once were.

My dad,' he squeaked. He got control again. 'My dad,' he said, 'said to me... Son, when you can face down a troll in single combat, the you can do anything.

Mica, who had been guarding the bridge for generations, was struggling to make ends meet and had to work at his brother-in-law's lumber mill to support his family. Cohen sympathized with Mica's plight, as he too had seen the world change around him, with forests being cut down and replaced by farms and fences.

Instead of fighting Mica, Cohen decided to spare him and asked for any treasure the troll had. Mica confessed that he had none, as no one used the road anymore. Cohen, feeling nostalgic for the way things used to be, gave Mica his last twelve gold pieces and obtained three addresses from him.

For the sake of the way things should be,' he said. 'For the sake of things that were.

Cohen and his horse continued on their journey, with Cohen reflecting on the changing world and the stories of heroes that people used to tell. Despite the harsh conditions and the passage of time, Cohen remained determined to live his life as a hero, even if the world around him no longer seemed to need one.