Ivaris - Chapter 3 by Jennifer Raney

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SUMMARY: Ivaris and Seroan encounter a few near-death experiences, but finally reach their first safe stop .

On the origin of big, hairy, ugly things.

Cave giants, you see (it's lesson time again, take notes) are very mean creatures. Big and hairy and ugly and mean. They don't observe the rules of humans; they make their home in anyone's territory they please.

For the most part humans and giants ignore each other, because giants generally habitate places humans prefer not to such as uninviting, rocky, mountains. We humans, in all our wisdom, generally avoid these areas, knowing that mountain cave giants aren't our biggest fans and will squash us whenever possible.

However, on occasion giants and humans will interact in a messy fashion. Fortunately for us, giants are very solitary, and humans like to stick together in a group, which means we can usually subdue the giant eventually, or at least survive him.

Some study has been done by humans on giants. It's a tricky business, studying them, because you're basically throwing yourself off a cliff by getting close to one. Every once in a while someone gets curious (or stupid) enough to want to try it, though.

One man spent a summer observing giants in the mountains to the north of Raemon. He was a thief by trade, fortunately (for him), so he was sneaky enough to get by unnoticed. He discovered that giants do not mate (there are no female giants, did you know?), but instead create their children magically.

A giant nearing the end of his life will cut off his own arm at the elbow, and perform a three day ceremony, transforming the arm into his offspring. If he desires more than one offspring, he might also remove a leg at the knee. Gross. When the ceremony is complete, and his son (or sons) is awakened, he lets himself bleed to death, and his offspring takes his place.

A gruesome existence, but fortunately for us humans, it is almost impossible for giants to become overpopulated. For one thing, they can only create a maximum of two offspring. Secondly, they absolutely hate each other, and if two encounter each other, one is always left dead.

Anyway, back to my story. Remember me?

You can imagine Seroan and I were in a bit of a pickle, being only two people with no experience dealing with cave giants. After a moment of panic I realized it did us no good to lay there on the rocks, so I got up, and Seroan followed.

"What do we do," I asked, "run?"

"He'll root us to the ground if we run, they have some decent magics," he answered.

I guessed this meant we had to stand and fight. Seroan drew is sword, laughably small compared to the giant's huge gnarled battle staff, but I didn't laugh. I frantically searched through my spells, bringing a few to mind that I thought could work.

Seroan must have known what I was doing, "Do your stuff, pro," he said.

By this time the giant was about twenty yards away and most definitely planning something nasty for us; veins the size of my wrists pulsed angrily at his hairy temples.

My rain of fire came to mind and I thought that idea was as good as any.

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