The Tall Tale
A place by the fire
Wiping the embers from the calloused sole of his foot, his inhuman roar echoes through the night time forest. The men at arms are slowly slinking back into the darkness away from the giant, all except one: With a suicidal rush of blood to the head, Pump Eurion-Gulpa strides manfully into the clearing. His spear grasped in a seemingly casual manor he shouts out to the giant…
“Ho the camp, is everything alright? I heard the noise and thought I would come and see if you needed some help…”
The forest giant turns his gaze from the frantic search for whatever had attacked him and the weight of his attention is now on the lineage man of the Eurion line.
“Are you alright friend?” the concerned voice asks
Slow suspicion is spreading across the giants face, but the lack of aggression from the tiny human, and his open and companionable mode of speech soothe him a little. It is only matter of moments before the two of them are on first name terms, chatting away quite amiably.
At the mention of the rest ofhis ‘companions’ by Pump, the giant begins to become apprehensive again, but Adeon and Petyr step forward into fire light and join the oddly proportioned group. It soon transpires that this giant, called Pagar, and not Priam as the witch had claimed, knows Meroe of old. This is the not the first time she has tried to kill him! Indeed he has resisted her magical attacks before now, and other plots to kill him.
Seizing the opportunity presented Pump relates the tale of Sir Brychan with a fair degree of honesty; only leaving out only the less savoury details of their recently foiled assassination attempt on Pagar. Meanwhile Adeon binds the shattered chest of Seymond with surprising proficiency given his usual ‘it will have to come off’ attitude to medical matters. Perhaps he should focus on animal husbandry in the future. Looking upon the ensorcelled were-pig laid on a stretcher near the fire, Pagar is informed that he had become enraged by Crone Meroe, and sent to attack the giant. Pump lowers the tone of his voice.
“She will keep trying to kill you Pagar. She has tried herself, she has sent others, and even our good Seymond here to try and end your life. She says she needs the red hair from a dead giant for a great magic, and I do not think she will ever stop hunting you my friend.”
His slow, booming, voice resonates with the forlorn look on his face. “I only kill to eat if I can help it little Pump”
Pump stands in the fire light. “We will kill her for you my friend, after our Lord Ursal is returned to human form… but we cannot withstand her magic’s as you can… if any of us are ever to be free of her; then we must work together.”
With the humans helping to put his camp back in good order, Pagar looks at his neatly fashioned shelter, and the well stacked firewood “you have given me much to think about little Pump, I will speak to you again in the morning” The three men at arms settle themselves in the giant’s camp for the night, as Pagar’s gaunt frame takes it ease by the fire. He seems to scrutinise the depths of the flame as his slow mind is bedevilled by the words of these mercurial humans.
The morning light filters through the trees, and the remainder of the men approach the camp. It is odd to be welcomed by the emaciated, tree like, figure with all good grace and perfect hospitality at first, but Pagar is a surprisingly affable host.
“Little man Pump” the heavy tones of Pagar ring out “You are right, and I will help you fight the Crone Meroe”
Pleasantly surprised at not having been eaten or crushed in the night, not to mention amazed at the degree of his success in human-giant alliance building, Pump and the rest of the men hurriedly set to making their plans. It is too late to catch up with Daffyd, as he is by far the most fleet footed of all of them. They know they can but hope the witch will return Sir Ursal to them, despite the lack of evidence of the giant’s death. And then they must attack the hugely powerful witch.
Perhaps attuned to the world of the Fae by his transformation; Seymond, still recovering on his stretcher, mentions that Rowan wood may help to divert some of the magical potency of the witches attacks. Pagar looks at the were-pig with dawning surprise. “Your clever little people, I will go fetch a Rowan tree. Stay on the path to Meroe and I will meet you on the way” with that, he unfolds his spar frame. Using his hands to gently bend the trees out of the way, it is uncanny to see how quickly he disappears from view. Even the swaying of the branches left by his passing quickly settles to a level that could be overlooked as little more than stray breeze in the tree tops.
Our men muster forth, hoping the new found friendship of Pagar lasts at least a few days longer. With the monstrous of weight of Seymond slowing them down, they progress as quickly as they can through the woods.
A few days later the creaking of timber heralds the return of Pagar, in his hands the remnants of a Rowen tree that has been pulled bodily from the ground! Wasting little time the men re-haft spears and axes with rough worked Rowan wood, clinging to the faint hope that it will in some way help in the upcoming struggle. Knowing they are nearing the witch’s lair, Issa creeps forward in time to see the lightning show and to witness first-hand the transformation of Sir Ursal back to his old self! He heads back the remainder of the party and tells them the witch is inside the house, lady Jenna and Sir Brychan both seem hale and hearty, and Sir Ursal is a man once more. Emboldened by the prospect of having two knights and a giant on their side in the upcoming struggle, our corps of men move out.
Stifling an oath Sir Brychan thrusts lady Jenna behind him, and starts to draw his sword as the tree tops part and 30 feet of sinewy muscle moves into view… but his heart soars as he see that far from being dead, his stout and innovative men at arms appear to have tamed the beast somehow!
Pump runs up to his liege Lord “begging your pardon Sir Brychan, but Issa tells me the Crone is still in the hovel?” with a curt nob of assent received Pump continues “then lets barricade the doors and windows and and burn this cursed place down around her ears!”
This plan is met with startled look, but quickly accepted. With the giants’ aid, and all moving as stealthily as possible, wedges of wood are gently pushed into the door frame and the window shutters. And then kindling placed about the house. Pagar aids the humans by shoving a whole tree fully into the chimney!
Crone Meroe is so engrossed in whatever she is doing inside the house that the even the noise of this does not rouse her suspicions: Hoping that whatever has occupied her fractured mind will take some time to complete, the men, knights and even lady Jenna willfully pile timbers about the place. Finally signalling enough, Sir Brychan takes up a burning brand. He pauses, and hands the torch to his father in law. Grimly the lord of Chalke steps forward, and sets the blaze.
Weapons grasped firmly, the minutes ooze by, and eventually the blaze is well lit. With smoke pouring through the rotten thatch, the Crone eventually realises her house is on fire. The rattle of the door is followed by an immediate clatter against the shuttered window, and this in turn is followed by a great crashing and banging from within.
Soon the sound of something heavy repeatedly hitting the door can be heard, along with the screeching profanities of Meroe herself. Hoping these curses are robbed of their potency by her recent magic’s, the men listen with grim satisfaction to her fading cries. A man should feel some degree of guilt at burning an old woman alive in her home, but no person there felt anything other than pride and satisfaction at what they had done.
As the fire burned long into the night, a guard was kept. But they were so busy watching the embers for signs of the witch they didn’t notice the return of the guardian of the ford to their midst! Pump stepped forward “have you come to claim your payment for crossing your river?”
“Nay, that debt can be paid later” the charnel voice echoed “This is a great day and I come to bear witness”