This story is continued from “Getting High With Stone Trolls”
Teaching the stone giants was proving to be a difficult task.
When the boy, Howl, had made them, pulling great stones out of the walls of his subterranean library, breathing life into them, he had assumed the practicality and usefulness of extra research assistants would be self-evident…
A resounding crash sent Howl running down the halls to locate its source; once located, it took a moment for him to understand just what he was seeing.
Two of the stone monsters were together in one of the library’s large studies. One had fallen; it stood up, shook itself off, then nodded to the other. Its partner then swung an arm back, and struck him across the face with such force that the creature fell to the floor again, the ground trembling at the impact. The giant stood up again, nodded to the other again, and Howl caught his breath.
“What the hell are you two doing? Stop! Stop!” The aggressor giant turned towards the boy, one arm still raised in the air for the next blow.
“But master,” it replied, the creature’s voice a slow rumbling, “You commanded us to befriend each other. You said…” There was a moment of silence while it strained to remember. “You said we must feel love for each other.”
The boy blinked, his mouth open in confusion. “So what on earth are you hitting each other for? Ruining all the work I put into creating you!”
“Well, master,” said the first giant, rubbing his face where it had been struck, “You told us to feel love for each other… but we can’t really feel very well. Hitting each other is the first thing we’ve discovered that we can actually feel.”
The boy was at a loss for words. The aggressor giant, one arm still raised in the air, seemingly forgotten, said, “We decided this ache in our faces and hands must be the love you’re talking about.”
Howl was quiet for moment, then he started laughing. “Well, I suppose I should at least congratulate you for your effort! This is not love, though you two are making a good start. For those who can’t feel, pain is a place to begin.” He started pacing the floor, the eyes of his giant servants following his progress from their thirty-foot-high perspective.
Howl’s conscious creations were trying to understand, but they were limited by the boy’s own lack of understanding. It had never occurred to him to ask whether these creatures knew what feelings were, and an interesting puzzle lay now before him: What could the stone giants do that would help them feel, without having to hurt each other?