"Would you like to hear a bedtime story?"
"Grandma, I'm too old for that."
"You're never too old to enjoy a good story."
The girl reluctantly crawled into bed and waited, knowing she wouldn’t win this battle. A bitter wind howled outside, whipping the falling snow into devil whirls.
"What kind though? A tale of the, perhaps?" asked her grandmother.
"No, not her."
"What about a story of?"
The girl nodded and the old woman smiled.
"Ah, there are so many, which to choose…? My grandmother used to tell me of the time Braum protected our village from a great! Or once, this was long ago, mind, he raced down a river of lava! Or-"
She paused and shook her head. "No, none of them. Wait, have I ever told you how Braum got his?"
The girl shook her head. The hearth fire snapped, its warmth holding off the night’s chill.
"Well, in the mountains above our village lived a man named Braum. He mostly kept to his farm, tending his sheep and goats, but he was the kindest man anyone had ever met, and he always had a smile on his face and a laugh on his lips."
"Now, one day, something terrible happened. A young troll boy around your age was climbing the mountain and happened upon a massive stone door with aat its center. When he opened the door, he couldn't believe his eyes! Beyond was a vault filled with gold and jewels. Every kind of treasure you could imagine!"
"What he didn't know was that the vault was a trap. The Ice Witch had cursed it, and as the troll boy entered, the magical door clanged shut behind him! It locked him inside! Try as he might, he couldn't escape."
"A passing shepherd heard the boy’s cries. The entire village rushed to help, but even the strongest warriors couldn't open the door. The boy's parents were beside themselves. His mother's wails of grief echoed around the mountain. It seemed hopeless."
"And then they heard a distant laugh."
"It was Braum, wasn't it?" asked the girl.
"Aren't you clever? Braum had heard their cries and came striding down the mountain. The villagers told him of the troll boy and the curse. Braum smiled and nodded. He turned to the vault and faced the door. He pushed it. Pulled it. Punched it. Kicked it. Even tried to rip it from its hinges, but the door wasn’t for budging."
"But he's the strongest man ever!" cried the girl.
"It was perplexing" agreed her grandmother. "For many days and nights, Braum sat on a boulder, trying to think of a solution. After all, a child's life was at stake."
"Then, as the sun rose on the fifth day, his eyes widened, and a broad grin lit up his face. ‘If I can't go through the door' he said ‘then I'll just have to go through-’..."
The girl thought for a moment. Her eyes went wide as she exclaimed "The mountain!"
"The mountain indeed. Braum headed to the summit and began punching his way straight down, pummeling his way through the stone, fist after fist. Rocks flew in his wake, until he had vanished deep into the mountain."
"As the villagers held their breath, the rock around the door crumbled. And when the dust cleared, they saw Braum standing amidst the treasure, the weak but happy troll boy cradled in his arms."
"I knew he could do it!"
"But before they could celebrate, everything began to rumble and shake. Braum's tunnel had weakened the mountain, and now it was caving in! Thinking quickly, Braum grabbed the enchanted door and held it above him like a shield, protecting the villagers as the mountain collapsed around them. When it was over, Braum was amazed. There wasn't a single scratch on the door! Braum knew it was something very special. And from that moment on, the magical shield never left Braum's side."
The girl sat upright, struggling to conceal her excitement.
"Grandma" she said "can you tell me another story?"
The girl’s grandmother smiled, kissed her forehead and blew out the candle.
"Tomorrow," she said. "You need to sleep, and there are many more stories to tell."