The Wheel of Time - The Call of the Horn
A Trolloc (pronounced: TRAHL-lohks) is a type of Shadowspawn created in the Age of Legends that comprises the bulk of the Dark One’s armies. A crossing of human and animal stock, their physical characteristics are a blending of both lineages, horrifying almost all that come in contact with them. While capable of speech, they possess an intellect inferior to that of other sentient races and have proven difficult to utilize in battle unless supervised. They are carnivorous, sadistic, fearful and violent. Unlike other Shadowspawn, Trollocs are social creatures, grouped by several distinct tribes and capable of cruel and twisted humor. A Trolloc is a humanoid creature with both animal and human physical features. A Trolloc has an animal-like snout, beak or head, hooved feet, feathers, or over sized rough hands with thick nails. Much as height and hair color differs between humans, so does the line between animal and human vary amongst individual Trollocs. Some have feet capable of wearing boots, while others have legs far more like a goat, hoofed and unable to wear shoes. The physical characteristics of a Trolloc can, to some degree, give information on the Trolloc. For example Trollocs with canine (largely wolf) characteristics are reportedly more intelligent and therefore more likely to be able to speak other languages, while Trollocs with the physical features of bears are noticeably tougher than other Trollocs. Many are physically capable of speech in the Trolloc tongue, but fewer are capable of speaking normally. Trollocs are significantly larger, taller, and stronger than most humans, being more on par with the Ogier in size. Their carnivorous, indiscriminate appetite is well known. Some can track a person by scent or sound. They see better than a man in the dark. Mentally, Trollocs share more in common with the Shadow than average human. They are cruel and sadistic, often killing simply for pleasure or for the act itself. It is this evil nature, and the acts that spring from it, that make Trollocs so easily detectable by a Sniffer. A Trolloc’s intelligence can vary from one creature to the next, but it is invariably much lower than the human stock from which it descends. Trollocs are fearful creatures, with self-preservation generally being one of the only reasons they abstain from violence and killing. They also fear rivers and crossing bodies of water. To some extent they fear, and hate, wolves and kill them whenever possible; however while they may favor their chances against a lone wolf, Trollocs fear packs of wolves according to Perrin’s friend Elyas Machera who is a Wolfbrother. More than anything, they fear Shadar Logoth, or more accurately Mashadar and also the Aiel Waste which they refer to as the Dying Grounds. It generally takes the insistent driving from a Myrddraal to get them to enter either area.
During the War of the Shadow, the Dark One’s forces searched for a method to produce a soldier more powerful than normal humans, and possessing more traits of the Dark One. The quest for this “super-soldier” was undertaken by the Forsaken Aginor. He combined human genetic material with that of several animal species. Species such as boars, bears, and eagles were selected due to their high levels of aggression, leading to some of the common animal features seen in Trollocs. The crossbreeding eventually produced a soldier with the desired physical and emotional attributes, and just as importantly, a soldier that was capable of producing viable offspring. A self-replenishing army was more highly valued than one that needed to be produced in biological laboratories. Originally, Trollocs were a failed creation. Their innate blood lust overwhelmed them and made them impossible to control, and thus, while they were superior fighters, they made terrible soldiers. This problem was solved when Trolloc breeding began to result in the Myrddraal: a being capable of intelligent thought and of being commanded, and which also terrifies any Trolloc into obedience.
Trolloc reproduction occasionally results in offspring that is based almost entirely on its animal genetic material, or its human material. The near-animal result always dies, but the near-human result, a Myrddraal, sometimes lives. Aginor comments that roughly 5% of Trolloc offspring are Myddraal, interestingly near the same ratio as channelers born amongst the human population. Myrddraal are intellectually superior to Trollocs, as well as being better fighters. It was eventually discovered that Trollocs and Myrddraal could be linked together, giving the Myrddraal a great deal of control over the Trollocs. Trollocs would often be linked to their Myrddraal, in such a way that they would be killed if the Myrddraal was killed. This is likely done to prevent the Trollocs from turning on their Myrddraal commanders.
Trollocs were only successful for a short time when first used on the battlefield. The physical appearance and bestial nature of the Shadowspawn creature incited terror and panic in its enemies, who had never faced anything like them. As the opposing forces acclimated to their appearance and nature, they were generally able to overcome Trolloc armies. While Trollocs were certainly bigger, stronger, more aggressive and sadistic than humans, they were extraordinarily undisciplined. Early strategies using Trollocs largely relied on simply turning frenzied Trollocs loose on enemy armies by herding them into the opposing lines. As the Trollocs met with disciplined, skilled, and no longer terrified foes, they were outfought and slaughtered. This lead to further disruption, as the Trollocs would begin to flee from the battle, terrified of being killed. Not until Trollocs were linked with Myrddraal did they become an effective fighting force, as they were controlled by something powerful and terrifying, usually dying immediately upon the death of the Myrddraal they were linked to. Now the Dreadlords could effectively utilize Trollocs on a field of battle. They simply commanded the intelligent Myrddraal, who then commanded the Trollocs. The combination of satisfying their blood lust, and preventing certain death by protecting their Myrddraal, was all that was necessary to transform the Trolloc from a bestial, cowardly failure into a successful and effective military unit.
Unlike other constructs from the War of Power, Trollocs have developed a social order and are divided into bands (or chapters). There are twelve principle bands and an unknown number of lesser bands:
Ahf’frait – badge is a silver whirlwind
Al’ghol – badge is a hooked axe
Bhan’sheen – badge is a dagger-pierced skull
Dha’vol – badge is a horned skull
Dhai’mon – badge is an iron fist
Dhjin’nen – badge is a skull cloven by a scythe-curved sword
Ghar’gheal – badge is piled human skulls
Ghob’hlin – badge is a flaming goat skull
Ghraem’lan – badge is forked lightning
Ko’bal – badge is a blood-red enameled trident
Kno’mon – badge is a red, blood-stained fist
Badges that are not tied to a specific band are a staring eye, a dagger-pierced hand and a man-shape wrapped in flames.
Different bands do not normally work together. It takes the fear of a Myrddraal to get them to cooperate.
A group of one hundred or more Trollocs is referred to as a “fist” of Trollocs.
Only male Trollocs are allowed to participate in raiding parties. Females are cloistered and remain in the Trolloc camps, giving birth to new Trollocs and sometimes Myddraal.
Some Trollocs are capable of rudimentary human speech, but usually they converse amongst themselves in their own guttural tongue. Trollocs also have a written script for their language, in the form of angular runes. An example of this is the carvings found on some of the guide stones in The Ways.
Trollocs are largely carnivores, eating any meat they can acquire, with an infamous preference for human flesh. They routinely cook and eat human captives or casualties taken during battle, and during the War of Power human breeding camps were set up in Forsaken-controlled territory to sustain Trolloc populations. If there are no prisoners available, lower-ranking Darkfriends are sometimes fed to the Trollocs instead. Padan Fain was once threatened with such a fate. So infamous is this habit that “in a Trolloc cookpot” is a phrase often used to describe where an incredibly foolish, and dangerous, course of action might lead.