Land of the Giants
When a child has been naughty or refuses to eat its Kabubbles, parents around the world will bring up the specter of the great mythical Giants in an attempt to put the fear of the gods into them. Any child who can withstand the thought of a one hundred and twenty foot tall mountain of flesh, teeth and hair, coming to get them, is a brave child indeed and many the young one it is that has gone to bed and trembled beneath the blankets, or pledged to never ever again go into that old mine cave on the edge of town where they've been told, time and time again, never to go. Why, even grown men, when camped out in the wilds, and the thunder growls across a wet landscape, can imagine the great footfalls of a Giant tromping down upon them and draw their cloaks around them more tightly. Of course, nobody has actually ever seen a Giant, and it is only the oldest tomes available that makes mention of them in the world that is populated by all men and women of today. If they ever did exist, one most suppose, then they are long gone now, thankfully, and they only exist now primarily in the imaginations of the children, and provide fodder for the numerous songs and stories that have them as their subject.
Of course we, dear reader, know differently. We know that there exists at least one Giant for we have already met him. His name is Wundrus. But, get this dear reader, there are even more of them! Four more to be precise and they, together with Wundrus, live in the Long Valley that spans the continent between the two impenetrable walls formed by the mountain range known as The Spine of the World.
As discussed previously, the Spine runs the length of the world, one end situated at the Great Sea to the north and the other at a massive canyon in the south. In the days when Giants roamed the outside world, they would retreat to this canyon, and thus between the mountains, in order to spawn more Giants. You see, Giants don’t mate in the traditional sense. They seclude themselves away from prying eyes and sort of… graft themselves. Nobody has ever seen it and it hasn't been recorded and, personally, I don’t think it would be a very pretty sight to behold. But it was a form of procreation that worked well for them for hundreds of thousands of years. Until one day, it just didn’t. And now there are only five left.
Giants generally live to be about a thousand years old unless they meet with a horrendous accident or are killed by an incredibly talented band of adventurers. But that is rare and now, because they are sequestered away in the Long Valley, they just live out their days. When the last of them is gone that will be it, sadly.
The reason that they are no longer seen in the world at large is because long ago, during the last spawning time, one of the largest mountains in the Spine chain, Mount Camarrow, became an active volcano and erupted with a massive explosion that sent the mountain toppling down into the canyon at the southern tip, where the Giants would usually find their way into the Long Valley. The ensuing lava flow cemented the rubble into an impassable jagged barrier. That meant the only other way out was to either traverse the mountain range itself, which was impossible even for the Giants or to enter the Great Sea to the north. But this was also a hopeless endeavour as Giants can’t swim because of their immense mass. And the building of boats was a skill that had, so far, evaded them.
So, the Giants were seemingly trapped in the Long Valley for all time and, indeed, had been trapped there for many centuries. Then, perhaps because they couldn’t travel out of the spawning area, or maybe because of the Great Shadow, they began to fail to graft. Wundrus was the last of his kind to be grafted and he is now five hundred years old and therefore the youngest of the remaining Giants.
The oldest of the Giants is Stoopinduss and he lives at the very northern limit of the valley in a great cave that burrows deep down into the earth. This cave is known among the Giants as the Mouth of the World and, were one to follow the twisting, darkened passages for a few miles down, eventually one would arrive at the great chamber that houses The Heart. It is to guard that Heart that is the duty charged to Stoopinduss. More on that later.
Stoopinduss is nine hundred and fifty years old and is approaching his demise. Don’t make the mistake of imagining him as old of body though, because it doesn’t work that way with giants. Once they achieve maturity, usually around the age of two hundred, they pretty much remain as they are until death takes them. Not bending to the will of aging has many benefits for the Giants. It means, among other things, that they can live out their lives of isolation without fear of becoming infirm and sickly as the years progress.
Stoopinduss is massive even by giant standards and stands about fifty feet taller than Wundrus, who is, himself, large for his kind. He wears a long gray robe and tunic and carries a one-hundred-and-fifty-foot staff. When he walks to the valley in search of food, small lakes are formed by the impression of the base of this staff. In the valley itself, not far from his cave, there is a long lake that contains billions upon billions of fish. This is the main diet of Stoopinduss and when he goes there he takes with him a gigantic net made from the three-foot thick vines of the Moon Root trees. When he casts it out, the resulting gale-like turbulence in the air rocks the lake and forms huge waves that crash into either shore with a roar. Generally, he only has to cast the net once and it surfaces crammed to the top with golden salmon and green shad. Because of the nature of the Giant metabolism, he only has to do this about three times a year in order to be sated and nourished.
Stoopinduss is taciturn, even for a Giant and when anger takes him for some reason or another (say he stubs his toe on a boulder) his livid cries can be heard for fifty miles. No, you don’t want to be running afoul of old Stoopinduss. He hasn’t nearly the élan of Wundrus who has a great tolerance for and love of the world and its creatures.
Now, as mentioned, Stoopinduss lives in the far north, Wundrus in the far south. There are three other Giants. One of these, another male, is named Merviloos and he lives just north of the center of the world. He is about seven hundred years old and lives in a gigantic hut made of the tallest pine trees in the valley. He inherited this structure, if you will, from the Giant that you would perhaps describe as his ‘mother’, as it was a female Giant that grafted him.
Merviloos isn’t the brightest penny in the bucket unfortunately and spends most of his days lying on his long back and staring at the clouds. A bit of a dreamer you might say, although what it is he dreams about is anybody’s guess. Perhaps of a bit softer piece of ground to lie on. Perhaps of the first fifty years of his life when he was coddled by his ‘mother’. Usually, the Giants go off on their own after fifteen or twenty years as they grow quite quickly, but the female giant recognized Merviloos’ short-comings, mentally, and allowed him to stay on until he was fit enough to find his own way. He almost starved to death in those first years of isolation and it wasn’t until he returned to the great hut upon the death of his ‘mother’ that he had nearly enough to sustain him. He was a thin, wasted spectacle when he dragged himself back to that hut. Fortunately, the hut was located underneath a series of plateaus upon which the Goster Birds located their rookery. The huge Goster Birds, too numerous to count but at least numbering in the millions, laid eggs that were the size of a hay bale and laid them there four times a year. So Merviloos existed almost solely on a diet of these eggs, supplemented every now and then by a handful of the birds themselves. Perhaps he dreamed of being able to actually build a fire upon which he could cook those eggs instead of just stuffing them into his big mouth and more or less drinking them. Oh, another thing about Merviloos. He wore no garments of any kind preferring the airy feeling of the moderate climate of that region.
The remaining two Giants were both female and, in a rare case, lived together. It doesn’t happen very often in the world of the Giants, but their grafting spawned twins and so they lived together in the middle of the only forest that exists in the Long Valley and were located just about four hundred miles from Wundrus. Their names were Enncroyabluh and Formeedabluh and they were truly amazing looking creatures. Their hair was of a dark red colour and hung in lengthy folds down their backs and breasts. They wore bodices made from a sort of cloth that they wove from a mixture of plants and animal furs. Similarly, one wore leggings of the same material that were crisscrossed by leather thongs that held them onto her massive, hairy legs. Formeedabluh wore a sort of skirt, also made of leather, that had huge pockets in them into which she would put the beautiful rocks that she would discover in the mountain passes and take back to their forest home to add to her huge collection. That collection, itself, could pass as a mountain. An incredibly colorful, gleaming mountain for she polished the rocks to a dazzling shine before adding them to the pile.
Another wonderful aspect of these particular twin Giants, was that they could sing. They would make up songs for each other and then sing them out and the songs would echo up and down the stone passages around them. It was sort of like listening to the wind howl, except there were words and not too badly managed tuning involved. They would even harmonize on occasion and that was truly something to hear. Some of their songs would be short, amusing ditties that were generally quite rude in nature and after they finished singing one it would be followed by an outburst of laughing and giggling that would go on for hours. Other times they would make up something much longer and ballad-like in that it would contain an actual tale. Enncroyabluh actually constructed what might be termed an ‘opera’ on one occasion but it was only sung the once as they had no way of noting it down and thus forgot it all the next day.
They loved to build fires and sit around them at night and hum and sing together. The fire pit was massive, of course, and half an acre of trees would be consumed by one fire. Still, that area of the country was quite fertile, and the forests seemed to be able to keep up with the decimation inflicted upon them.
So, there you have it. The entire contingent of gigantic characters that live and hunt in the Long Valley between the two halves of the Spine of the World. They lived their solitary existences (except for the twins, of course) quite reasonably well, although Wundrus was a bit more wistful than the others when he thought about the outside world that he knew existed, but he would never see. Or at least that’s what he thought at the time. For, unbeknownst to them, the same blight that was plaguing that outside world was also indeed plaguing them. It was the reason that their graftings started to fail and why their numbers had decreased so much that their race would soon be extinct when Wundrus died.
Fortunately for them, some humans on the other side of the Spine were gathering and working on a solution that would save them all. And one group in particular, hunkered down at the Citadel, is thinking that they might just have a plan. A plan based on information in a book that they are only partially sure even exists. A book that a certain group of adventurers is going to be charged with finding and returning to the Grand Council. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.