Solisar sat in the library of Castle Hartwick, waiting for the chief librarian, Basil to arrive. As he waited, he was perusing some tomes on magic, hoping to find any more information on kiira, but the the books were heavily focused on runecasting. He had given up on finding anything and was now looking through A Full History of the Dobbins of Stagwick, by Neville Dobbin, 35th Earl of Stagwick.
A very tall, hunchbacked figure entered the room. "Solisar, I presume," said a cheerful voice.
Solisar looked up to see a hideous giant of a man. He should have been about nine feet tall, but his hunch brought him down to seven feet. His features were shriveled and deformed, and his skin was almost transparent; one could see all his blood vessels and bones.
The elf stood up from his chair. "Yes, I am Solisar Keryth of Evermeet, Island of the Elves, a scholar of Jotunbrud history. You must be Basil? Am du paart."
"Am du paart. Yes, I am Basil. Basil of Lyndusfarne, runecaster and chief librarian. Strange it is that an elf would take interest in the history of the sons of Othea."
"My people saw a great threat rising far to the northeast," said Solisar, "a powerful hierophant of the human goddess of winter. We learned that she was seeking ancient giant relics buried under the ice. I have dedicated many years to learning her plans, and it has taken me deep within what records we had of your people. Granted, our records are not as complete as I would have liked."
"If you want to know the true history of giants," said Basil, "you have come to the right verbeeg!"
"Pardon my asking it, but are verbeegs known for their runecasting?"
"If you mean to ask, 'Are not verbeegs known as rogues and thieves?' I would answer yes, but are not elves known for thinking their histories the only ones worth studying?" These questions were asked with a smirk on his shriveled, ugly face. "I suppose you also want to ask me why I look more like a grotesque fomorian than a handsome verbeeg?"
"I admit that the question has crossed my mind."
"It was the Sky Cleaver that did it to me," said Basil.
"The Sky Cleaver? Is that not the name of Annam's fabled axe?"
"So you are well-read in our stories. It is no fable, young elf! Tavis and I each held it, on the day that we defeated the Twilight Spirit."
"That is precisely about which I wished to ask you more. I know that the Twilight Spirit was defeated and that the queen and her child were rescued — we have spoken with the storm giants of Mount Woe — yet I do not know the details of how."
"Oh, what a story it is to tell!" said Basil. "I shall sit down for it." The verbeeg took a large-sized chair. "Where to begin? Where to begin?"
"Actually, could you begin with how the queen first came to power? I have read a book here of the War of the Twins, but I do not understand why it was that King Camden was deposed. That history seems too recent to have been recorded in the books to which I had access."
"Because he sold his first-born daughter to the ogres!" Basil exclaimed. "The ogres in these parts are far more clever than the ones you may be used to. When the War of the Twins began, Camden could not defeat his brother on his own. He stooped so low as to make an alliance with the ogres of a certain tribe, unaware that their chieftain, Goboka, was working for the Twilight Spirit. The ogres agreed to fight for Camden, and in payment, they demanded his first-born daughter when she came of age.
"Now, it is important to note that there has never been a daughter born in the many centuries of the Hartkiller line. Camden made the promise, figuring that he would certainly have many sons to replace the daughter he would have to give up. This never happened. In fact, his first wife died shortly after Brianna was born, and despite taking many wives and mistresses, none bore him a boy.
"At the time, however, he was quite content with the deal, because with the aid of Goboka's ogres, he soundly defeated his brother, who died childless.
"Now we jump ahead some fifteen years or so. Brianna has grown into a woman, and her father is trying to marry her off to one of the earls. She happens to be in Stagwick at a play. I happen to be... visiting... with Earl Dobbin, and I meet the great Tavis Burdun. That is how I became a part of this story.
"On the way back to the castle, Goboka's ogres ambush the princess and her firbolg bodyguard, taking their promised payment. I accompany Tavis as he tracks her — and the fineset ranger he is! — and determines that she has been kidnapped by ogres, but when we report this to King Camden, he forbids us to pursue.
"Naturally, we disobey his orders, and Tavis, the young orphan Avner, and I track the ogres back to their lair and free Brianna.
"Brianna, as you might expect, was not too happy with her father, once she understood the situation. When she returned to Hartsvale, she orchestrated a coup and exposed and deposed the king. He was banished from Hartsvale forever and sent into exile."
"Where is he now?" asked Solisar.
"I have not a clue," said Basil, shrugging.
"Have there been any conflicts with the ogres since?"
"Nothing significant," replied Basil.
"This is the second time I have heard of this Avner," said Solisar. "I have surmised that he has died. Who was he?"
"A sad tale indeed! A devoted boy he was — and a good thief too! Apparently, he was even a good midwife; he cut the queen's baby from her belly with her knife, so large was the child! But, yes, he later died defending his queen against a horde of fomorians."
"Did this occur at the siege of Castle Wynn, during the Second War of the Hart, when the queen was taken by the Twilight Spirit?"
"You have studied Hartsvale's recent events well! But no, he survived that battle. In fact, he was with the queen in the tower when the Twilight Spirit ripped it from its roots and strode off with it."
"What exactly happened at that siege? Please trust that I am not accusing you, but many humans to whom we spoke claim that they were betrayed either by the queen's own husband or by a 'verbeeg runecaster from Lyndusfarne.'"
"There is much racism against the giant-kin in this country, especially among its leaders, excepting her majesty," said Basil, "but I will tell you the truth, verbeeg or no.
"Yes, allied tribes of giant-kin did assemble against the humans. I had no part in that! They were gathered because of the prophecy of a firbolg seer who put too much trust in his own prophecies. Mind you, he is a good man at heart, even a friend now, but Galgadayle had some pride issues to work out. He had prophesied that the queen's new son would bring the downfall of all humans and giant-kin. The giant-kin armies thus wanted to take the child by force. Tavis and I were in the castle when the siege started and when the Twilight Spirit appeared in the form of a roc made of shadow, which then coalesced into the titan Lanaxis. Lanaxis was squishing humans with his fingers, and Tavis could not use his explosive arrows that I had enchanted for him without blowing away the keep along with Lanaxis, so he came up with another crazy plan. He indeed opened the gate to let the giant-kin in, but he did not do it to betray the queen! Absurd! Tavis loves that woman more than I have ever see a man love a woman. He opened the gate knowing that the giant-kin would attack Lanaxis, because Lanaxis was the one who wanted to raise the child to become the emperor of ancient Ostoria, which would fulfill Galgadayle's prophecy. And that they did. Mind you, giant-kin are big, but they are not as tall as the so-called 'real' giants, to say nothing of comparing us to one of the first-born of Annam! The kin could do little to stop Lanaxis, but they at least made him bleed, and he took the queen and left without killing the whole lot of little humans."
"...And the giant-kin armies pursued Lanaxis," said Solisar.
"Yes, and that is when Tavis and I joined them. We caught up with him far to the north, but he summoned six storm giants, and those noble, depressing monsters nearly killed us all, and the fomorian cowards fled the field. At the end of the battle, only Galgadayle and Tavis remained alive among the firbolgs, and there were about a dozen verbeeg left besides me.
"Recognizing that we would obviously not defeat Lanaxis with the strength of our armies, I suggested another plan to Tavis and Galgadayle. If we were to defeat one of Annam's own children, we would need the power of Annam himself. Recently, in my studies, I was convinced that I had discovered the location of Annam's axe, the Sky Cleaver. The giant myths claimed that, when discovering his wife's infidelity, he cast his axe to the earth in anger, and it split a mountain in two. After studying the names of some mountains on a series of ancient map fragments, I found a place that could translate into Common as "Split Mountain". It was also in the same region as Othea Tor, the supposed place of Othea's final rest. Moreover, I found evidence in some old tales of ghost-like monsters of former giants being spotted in the area of the mountain, which was thus avoided by the frost giant tribes living in that area. I was sure that it must be the final resting place of that great axe.
"I do not think Tavis fully believed my idea, but he did not have anything else to lose, so our small band set out on a minor detour on the way toward the Twilight Vale, and we took a quest to find Sky Cleaver.
"Find it we did, deep within a cavern between the two halves of Split Mountain, guarded by a hill giant whose flesh was transparent from all of his years protecting the weapon, which he worshiped much like a god. Now I understood what it meant when the legends said that the axe would strip away the corporeality of mortals who bore it. Simply put, the weapon was never forged to be wielded by mortals.
"Tavis took the chance, however, and claimed the axe as his own.
"We arrived at the Twilight Vale, a mystical valley that only came into existence when in the shadow of Othea Tor, the same shadow that restored and sustained Lanaxis for so many centuries. We knew that Annam's axe was said to have the power to cleave anything created, and Tavis used its power to literally cleave Othea Tor in half — an amazing display of magic power, or I am not a runecaster! With that mountain demolished, the Twilight Vale was, in a sense, also destroyed, forcing the ancient palace of Voninheim back into the world of Toril again, and exposing Lanaxis to his curse of mortality.
"Then, in the final showdown with Lanaxis, who had taken his shadowroc form one last time, Tavis defeated the ancient titan once and for all.
"Brianna, having been rescued now a second time by Tavis, returned with her husband and son to her throne in Hartsvale."
"What about Galgadayle?" asked Solisar. "Is he still alive?"
"He is, though he has returned to his tribe, and I have not seen him since."
Solisar paused and processed all the new information he had just learned.
"Is there anything else you wish to know?" Basil asked.
"When we spoke with the queen, she had mentioned you by name. She said that you confirmed the existence of Jhothûn?"
"Yes, 'Iseheim' the other giants call it."
"Do you have a book about it?"
Basil did, but the only line of interest was simply a parenthetical:
Solisar spent several more hours with the hospitable verbeeg, learning much about the art of runecasting, a form of divine magic, and some further knowledge about the giant-kin. For example, while he had heard that firbolgs could not lie, he now learned that they could, only that it would make them nauseous and insomniac for days at a time, so ingrained was the importance of truth and honor within their culture. He asked Basil about the town of Lyndusfarne and if he knew the Pulkdrivvers. (He did not.) Finally, he studied some divinatory spells, before joining with his companions for the night.
Viewable by: Public
Posted on March 07, 2017 19:49