Chapter 1: On the trail
Matt dismounted his horse, Arod. He had ridden long and hard, for days now, but he still had the strength of a lion in him. His leather boots landed simultaneously on the ground with a hard thump, puffing a cloud of dust up. Matthew, or Matt, as his close but dead friends had called him, was no big man, but he did have muscle. Not the bulky, brute muscle upon muscle kind, but fit, and inconspicuous.
He bent down at a nearby puddle, cupped his hand, and took a drink. He saw his reflection in the rippling water, an ever-moving mirror. Matt never considered himself handsome, but some comments have been made by the stable girls and whores at local taverns. Whether or not this was just a ploy for sex or not eluded him, but he had taken the comments with a sincere smile and a wave of his hand. "Long brown hair," "Ruggedly handsome face" and "dragon green eyes" were among more of the common that he received. "Look at the cock on THAT one!" once yelled a very mead-drowned male. Matt had been wearing his pants at the time, some he dismissed the exclamation.
He lifted his eyes from the puddle to see a broken branch. It followed to tussled grass, leading to missing tree bark. Leading to a broken oak tree. His prey left a myriad of clues to his presence. Good. The beastie had neither qualms nor pity for the flowers, ground, greenery or trees in its path. Of course, his prey didn't have much to say about anything, nor did it even care: What Matt hunted was the most dangerous creature on earth; a giant.
He returned to his horse, and grabbed his long bow and quiver, full of heavy steel arrows. Not much damage to giants, but from afar, if one were lucky enough, you could take out and eye or shoot a poisoned arrow into a yawning giant's mouth. On that thought, Matt then sifted through his poke sack, looking for any potential solutions or poisons. Finding none, he went for his main weapon.
His spear, long, white ash wood with a slender steel blade, sat in its scabbard upon the side of Arod. Crafted by the dwarves, it was one of the finest lances in the land. The thought amused Lucas. A midget making a long spear. Ha, like an ant to a blade of grass. He smiled at the image. No, only the spearhead had been forged by the mountain dwellers. The shaft was made by his people, the Ilicans, who lived above ground. It was a beautiful land, Ilica. Full of trees, lush greenery, wide, ice blue rivers...
It made him home sick. And who governed such a paradisiacal land? None other than King Noah Ilicain, the twenty second of the bloodline. Noble kings, all of them... except the last. He tied Arod to a tree. He patted the horse's red mane, produced an apple from a tree, and feed it to her. "Good girl." He started to walk in the direction of the carnage, turning back only to yell, "Don't go anywhere!" to his trusty ride.
While the kings have ample resources and soldiers for defense, sometimes they require a bit of freelance help, in case a dragon, ogre, or giant attacks. In this case, they call a specialist, and the lucky duck this time was he. It was only two days ago, when Matt had visited the king for an audience...