Olof Samuelsson was a flax farmer. It wasn’t exciting work, farming flax. In fact, he hated it, but he couldn’t afford to move anywhere else. He had an obscenely beautiful daughter that he had to support, and no one would buy his farm, no matter how many times he posted about it on Craigslist.
Have farm need $$$$
Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 2008-03-05, 6:13PM EST
Have this nice farm. Good for growing flax. Just want to get out of the business.
0. Location: Jay County
0. it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
Olof was not a lazy man. Olof knew how to work a farm, and he was good at it. Eventually, however, week-by-week Olof found himself returning from the farmers’ market having sold less and less flax, until he began to wonder why he was growing flax in the first place.
“People don’t buy flax,” Olof thought. “Oh sure, they like the seeds in their granola–a teaspoon here, a teaspoon there–but not the way I’m selling it. No one wants to buy huge stalks of flax except the people making the granola. And they don’t go to farmer’s markets.” Lately Olof had become more and more self-defeating. He’d mope around and anytime anyone would try to sympathize he would yell at him or her, screaming that they knew nothing about the delicate nitrogen balancing it took to grow flax in such mealy soil.
The worst, however, came when two neighborhood boys, a couple of nasty trolls, replied to Olof’s ad on Craigslist:
Subject: Re: Have farm need $$$$
hay man, weve seen ur flax farm. u can’t grow shit! lol!!
Olof was incensed, and immediately wrote back a heated reply:
Subject: Not very nice.
Dear foul-mouthed instigator(s),
You don’t know anything about my farm. I know more about growing flax than anyone in Jay County. Just ask around and I’m sure you’ll find out that anyone who wants flax around here comes to ME.
So just be quiet.
p.s. !!!!??? Who are YOU to criticize my flax? My flax is perfect. It’s GOLDEN. Yes, that’s right, you know my daughter? She’s made of MAGIC. Her mother was a dryad, and she can turn flax into GOLD. I should probably take down this ad, actually, because I’ve got SO MUCH GOLD that I don’t even NEED to sell my farm.
Little did Olof know, however, these weren’t just any trolls, these were the sons of the obscenely powerful, disgustingly wealthy troll king, Asmodeus. Littler did he know that they were, in fact, using their father’s e-mail address. The troll king, upon receiving Olof’s reply, was angry. He spent a lot of time being angry, as it was, he found, a good way to pass the time when he wasn’t being pompous or self-indulgent. You see King Asmodeus was an asshole. In fact, King Asmodeus knew just as much about being an asshole as Olof did about being a flax farmer. Right down to whatever the asshole equivalent of soil-nitrogen ratios is, he knew it. Thus, upon reading Olof’s flame, Asmodeus was angry. Angry, angry, angry. Just around the time he was really starting to get into being angry, however, something stopped him. It was that third-to-last sentence, the one about Olof’s daughter being able to turn flax into gold, which caught his eye, and more importantly, his greed. You see, being raised as royalty, Asmodeus had no experience in dealing with hyperbole. Those who exaggerate to a king (especially one like Asmodeus) must either be so incredibly intelligent as to never be uncovered as exaggerators, or else harbor a desire for torture. Therefore, the king was astounded upon reading that Olof’s daughter could turn flax into gold. The king wasn’t entirely sure what flax was, but assumed that it would be much, much cheaper than gold, and would therefore yield a very high profit margin.
It took all of fifteen minutes for King Asmodeus’s lackeys to find the location of Olof’s flax farm, and only another ten to get there. Upon their arrival, the king demanded to see the farmer’s daughter, whom he found absolutely disgusting. You see, troll culture generally glorifies a certain alligatorish quality in prospective mates, and Olof’s daughter’s well-attached, fair skin and smooth, curvy body was rather repulsive to the king. He took pity on her, however and told Olof that he would take the daughter’s hand in marriage if she could spin three roomfuls of flax into three roomfuls of gold within the span of three roomfuls of days. At this, without waiting for a response from poor Olof, Asmodeus returned to his expensive kingly mode of transportation and began to dine on the latest in trendy cheeses while his men swept Olof’s daughter into one of the king’s carriages.
The daughter was at this point fairly angry that the man who saw himself as being so “kind” as to offer her his hand in marriage hadn’t asked her name, much less confronted the idea that tastes DO differ, and perhaps others might not mind her lack of saggy, rough skin and jagged, piercing bone structure.
This, as you might have guessed, was beyond the king’s concern. All he thought about all day was roomfuls of golden flax. He still hadn’t bothered to figure out what flax was and was currently picturing it as the most delicate silk fabric anyone had ever seen and all day in Asmodeus’ mind he was in a room full of this pure, golden flax-silk, where he spent all his time rubbing it gently along his rough, trolly cheek.
And so, upon their return to Asmodeus’s castle, Kerstin was placed in the first room, which was so full of flax that it was difficult to walk around in. She stayed there all night long, bored and curious as to what would happen when finally everyone realized it was dumb to think anyone could turn flax into gold. She was a good sport about it, considering how unfairly she’d been pulled into this whole fiasco, and mostly she didn’t get too upset because she didn’t really believe the king would ever actually stoop to marrying her, even if she could turn flax into gold. There was a nice window in her room, but it was fairly high up, and she was given a personal servant with whom she could chat or ask to bring her food from the kitchen and a laptop she could use to connect to the castle’s wireless.
In the middle of the night, while her servant was asleep far off in the servant’s quarters, Kerstin awoke to find a four-foot-tall man standing amongst the flax, busily rustling through it, each handful turning to solid gold at his touch. Kirsten thought she must be dreaming, so she rolled over and went back to sleep. The next morning, to her chagrin, the entire room was filled with golden flax. The king was impressed.
“Wow! Uh, good job!” Asmodeus said to Kerstin upon his arrival in the morning. “You…so this is flax? Egh. Anyway, I imagine this will be pretty useful. As gold.” The king’s fantasies had been shattered by the harsh reality of flax, and he began to realize that he might actually have to keep his word and marry the tight-skinned girl he’d gotten to turn a whole roomful of a stupid plant into a whole roomful of a stupid golden plant.
The next night worked similarly. In fact, it was identical to the first night, with the exception that this time when Kerstin awoke, she called out to the little man.
“Hello? What are you doing?” she asked the little man, who replied with a simple rhyme.
“Flax into gold, flax into gold
Plain ol’ grain into fortune untold!”
The little man did a little jig as he sang this, which Kerstin ignored. “Oh, little man!” she cried, inexplicably uninterested in who this person was. “Please do not turn that flax into gold.”
“Dear, without this gold you shall not be
The royal queen you wish to be.”
“But I don’t WANT to be queen. And that rhyme was kind of shitty,” Kerstin replied, somewhat rudely. “You see, I find the king to be an asshole, dear little man, so please do not turn that flax to gold, for I do not wish to marry an asshole! Also, I think he is not attracted to, or particularly interested in anything but my nonexistent gold-producing abilities, and even these, I think, are losing their charm.”
“You shall be queen, by my left toe,
For that is how these stories go.”
“Fuck,” Kerstin spat. “Dude, come on, seriously. Stop rhyming. I can’t marry this guy.”
The little man halted mid-jig and padded into the dim candlelight surrounding her mattress. He had wide, froggish feet, gnarled, bumpy skin and a cartoonishly large nose. He sighed and spoke in a low, aggravated voice, “This is how the story goes, lady. Gimme a break. I turn the flax into gold, you marry the king.” He paused for a second, then his eyes rolled upward in realization, “Ohhhhh, I see, you hate trolls, is that it? Well you know what? My mom was half- troll, and I think you’re the asshole. I’m going to make this gold just to spite you.”
“No, no!” cried the maybe future troll queen. “Some of my best friends are trolls! I just don’t like this Asmodeus guy.”
“The bigot girl is quite afraid
She’ll end up queen of those she hates.”
The little man cackled and jigged around the flax piles while he sang, and then got a gleam in his eye.
“I shall leave the flax just as I came
If racist girl can guess my name.
She has three tries in which to chose
After which she’ll surely lose.”’
And so it was on. Kerstin’s first guess was silly and her second was impossible.> She decided she should approach the question with a clear head in the morning, and so she went to sleep with the idea that she’d know what to say by the final evening, for her final guess when the little man returned the next day.
Kerstin spent all day long deliberating over what that little man’s name could be, while the king was busy with other things, and didn’t even bother to check on her progress with the flax. Instead she talked with the servant assigned to her about the little man and their deal: her suggestion was to use the laptop to google names of people in the area. Kerstin did this for a little while, when all of a sudden she got an idea. She typed in “flax to gold,” and clicked “I’m feeling lucky.” Lo and behold she found herself at a poorly designed webpage entitled “Turn your FLAX to GOLD overnight with AMAZING RUMPLESTILTSKIN.”
And so, the next night when the man came in her room, she didn’t even let him open his mouth or do a jig or turn any flax into anything before she yelled out, “Rumpelstiltskin! Your name is Rumpelstiltskin!” She grinned at him, quite proud of herself, and he simply looked back at her in shock.
Then, slowly, a grin began to creep its way onto the little man’s face. Soon he was grinning so widely that it was seriously creeping Kerstin out. “Why are you grinning?” she asked him. “I guessed your name, now you have to leave.”
“Rumpelstiltskin is my name,
But the girl has not won this game
For while that is, in part, my name, you see
Amazing Rumpelstiltskin is what they call me.”
He giggled and jigged back and forth in front of Kerstin, as she got madder and madder. Her hand shot out and wrapped around the little man’s neck and her fingers began to squeeze. Soon it was both hands, and Amazing Rumpelstiltskin could barely even let out a gasp or a choke, as Kerstin’s fingernails dug into his flesh, eliciting trickles of blood, which poured down his rough flesh in streams. Within a minute he was dead, lying on the floor in a pile of bloody flax. Kerstin covered the body in flax and lay tensely in bed for the rest of the evening.
Asmodeus visited in the morning and was relieved to see no gold in the room. He gave her a long angry speech for good measure, but Kerstin could tell he was really too relieved to get full on angry with anyone. Before long she was shipped back to her father’s house, and she settled back into her regular farm routine and enjoyed it immensely. Her father was doing significantly better due to the large amount of flax that King Asmodeus had purchased from him to stock Kerstin’s room for the past three days. He also did some more research online, discovered that flax was used in the making of linen fabric, and realized there was another entire industry he could sell to.
Amazing Rumpelstiltskin’s body was found by Karin and some of the other castle servants. They quickly disposed of it so their angry master couldn’t accuse them of murder. As they were moving the body, however, Karin came across a bag he had stashed behind one of the larger flax piles. Upon opening it, she found can after can of gold spray paint. These were disposed of along with the body and the remainder of the flax.
 It would be quite unfair of me to correlate this with his being a troll, as trolls have, over the course of time, done more than their share of good work, including creating some of the best heavy metal albums ever written. I wouldn’t want trolls as a people to come off badly here, but I can’t promise to introduce too many positive role models (Trole models?) as characters in this particular story, hence this disclaimer. Just trust me, I love trolls! Hooray trolls!
 Greed has been proven, over the years, to be, surprisingly, as great a peacemaker as it is a warmonger. The need for violence so often stems from arrogance that the sheer power that immense wealth provides one to self-indulge can generally satiate the underlying motivation of even the bloodthirstiest of tyrants.
 Not just because he’s a troll!
 Very very very very
 Utilizing the most expensive means in trollish transportation technology
 In the name of greed, that merciful agent of pathos.
 Were I to pick one, it would just be outdated by the time you read this, what with the rate at which troll engineering is progressing these days.
 Her name was Kerstin.
 He hadn’t yet worked out how this fabric was grown on a farm, but he was determined not to let the logistics disrupt his revelry.
 The king had not yet seen this room, as one of his servants had gathered the flax, so his misconception of the grain was still firmly intact.
 The servant’s name was Karin.
 For plot reasons.
 It was “Valentino.”
 “Wait, I bet YOUR name is Kerstin TOO!”
 Karin, remember?
 In quotes.
Sara June Woods is sorry about what happened. She misses you so much. You never call anymore.