A storm is brewing in the North.
Standing in the rain outside the citadel of Corundum at the head of an army of giants, outlined in the rain and oppressive dark of night, Grash and Jalana stare from the treeline and plan their next move.
The occasional bell, children crying and men shouting come from the city across the winds and they turn their attention back to the giant standing patiently behind them. Geryon had been their main contact in the army of giants after they’d met them marching a few days prior and the wise old giant seemed trustworthy enough.
‘So what you’re saying is, this Arryn brought his men to your lands and murdered your daughter for no better reason than he didn’t like you eating some of their stray sheep?’ asked Jalana incredulously of the apparent leader of the giants.
The giant looked at her with sad eyes, eyes the size of a dinner plate, and nodded.
‘Well, I never liked him anyway. Plus, we’re pretty sure he sent us there to that dragons den to die anyway.’ Jalana added, looking at Grash.
’I’d like to see his little head atop the mast of the Dragunship.’ said Grash.
’It’s settled then, we’ll kill him.’ concluded Jalana.
Geryon nodded and slowly turned his gaze back to the citadel.
A few hours passed and the giants had gathered enough very large rocks to pummel the city walls and kill many of the people there. Grash was looking forward to the carnage, however it didn’t sit too well with Jalana. She thought maybe they should speak to Arryn, maybe some kind of surrender was in order. The giants, if let loose upon the citadel, would surely kill many innocent people. The collateral damage was not worth it.
Getting herself together, she began walking out towards the hundreds of meters wide clearing between the forests edge and the city walls. As she made her way out Grash and Hemmit accompanied her, sensing that the time was ripe for confrontation.
As she got to the halfway point she raised her spear to the night sky, with thunder in the distance and the rain still pouring down on them she raised her voice, and the wind carried it to the walls.
‘Listen to me people of Corundum! You have been deceived!’ she called, ‘The one you call master is a monster! A savage beast with hate in his heart and blood on his hands! We want no harm to come to you but we will not leave until we have your Lord Arryn!’
She lowered the spear and waited. She looked across at Grash and he shrugged and nodded towards the battlements atop the walls, ‘Their archers have us in their sites, and their balistas are armed and ready, I suppose they do not fire due to their fear or because they know you speak the truth. Either way, Jalana, this is a very open and dangerous place to be.’
She nodded and looked back to the city where there came a great bellowing from the giant brass horns attached to the main gates. The gates themselves then opened a small contingent of cavalry were making their way across the muddy field towards them.
‘Well, maybe they will see the reason of it after all.’ Jalana smiled, readying herself for vengeance.
As the horses got closer they realised they did not see the brightly armoured Arryn, but they did see his right hand man. Wyne.
‘Hold!’ the man called to his bannermen to his sides, and they stopped. Wyne kept his horse at a steady pace towards them, stopping but only ten feet from them and looked down.
‘You.’ he said simply, but with such venom that they almost physically recoiled. ‘You are easily the most vile and treacherous creatures to ever stain our good cities soil.’
They looked up at him in the rain, his massive warhorse could sense its masters want for blood and it champed at the bit and stomped at the ground.
‘You fool’ began Grash, ‘You speak of good but you have very little of that here. You master sent us to our deaths, there was no wyrm in those caves, it was a bloody DRAGON!’ he yelled to the man on the horse. ‘He deceived us, and why? Because we are a threat? For fun? It matters not, but due to his actions there is now an army, not of our bringing, at the doors to this citadel and he sits on his fancy throne and sends you out here to parley?’ Grash looked at the city, then back to Wyne ‘Pathetic’ and he spat at the horses feet.
Wyne looked down at them confused, ‘What lies do you bring to our doors again? Arryn is not the deceiver here!’ he yelled back to them.
Jalana nodded to Hemmit, who was dragging a large sack with him. He upended the sack with great difficulty and a large red dragons head toppled to the horses feet. The horse reared up and almost topped Wyne from his perch.
‘Impossible! he cried, however there was doubt in his eyes. ’Why would he send you to your deaths…however…’ he looked to be making some decision as the giant horns of the citadel blew again.
From the gates this time came the one they were looking for, alone atop a mighty black steed, eyes the colour of hot coals and his luminous blue armour there for all to see.
‘Arryn.’ growled Grash, and he went for his weapons.
‘Grash, no.’ said Jalana as she grabbed the wrist of his good arm. ’I want to hear what he has to say.
After a few moments Arryn arrived with fury in his eyes. ‘Wyne! You have disobeyed me again, return to the citadel and I will deal with you after this.’
Wyne, looking first from the ones standing in the mud then to his resplendent sire, reluctantly nodded after some contemplation. As he turned to go they say in Wynes eyes a sort of understanding, but it was too late to ask him of it.
‘So, you have returned from my quest, and I see you have the head of the wyrm, congratulations.’ he said to them with a smug grin on his face, his dark hair running down and concealing parts of his face as the rain continued its deluge. ‘I also see that you have brought some giants with you. That was…unexpected.’ he replied, his grin somehow becoming even smugger.
’Don’t play games with us, Arryn. We know about your history with the giants; the slaying of their innocents, and you knew there was a Dragon in that cave. You sent us to die.’ said Grash, with his anger barely restrained.
Arryn mockingly put his hand to his chest, ‘Me? Deceive the infamous Dragunship Suddenly? Would such a thing even be possible? Even with a priest in your group, one that even now tries to pry into my thoughts. Uh-uh-uh little mongrel,’ he added, tapping his temple with his gauntleted finger and looking at Hemmit, ‘No getting in here for you.’ he laughed.
‘You do not deny it then?’ Jalana asked, beginning to tire of his games.
‘I deny that the giants have anything close to innocents amongst them. They are filth and should be slaughtered where they are found, and if I have to spend every meager soul in Corundum to do that…I will.’ Arryn replied with such animosity that the group was stunned.
This was a side of him that they had never seen. Was this truly a Paladin of the myths and legends? One so willing to sacrifice the lives of innocents to commit acts of genocide amongst seemingly innocent creatures?
‘The balance is in tatters, and you will pay for your crimes…’ said Jalana setting her steely gaze on the imposter on the horse.
Grash looked excitedly to Jalana then to Arryn then back to Jalana. ‘Wait, are you saying….’ he asked like a child that was told they would be getting extra honey on their bread.
‘Yes Grash…this one-’ she pointed her suddenly flaming sword at the grinning Arryn, ‘-needs to die.’
Arryn laughed and his voice was that of ancient sorrow and pain, he looked down at them, his face lit by Jalanas flaming sabre, ‘Show me what you’ve got!’ he roared and with that the fight was on.
Grash was suddenly not there, with only a wisp of smoke and and after-image to tell where he’d been suddenly he was behind Arryn’s stead and slicing at it’s flanks, knowing that they had a better chance if they could unseat him. Jalana swept her swords in circles barely keeping back the intense and withering strikes coming from Arryn’s mighty warhammer, moving much faster and hitting harder than she could have supposed coming from someone of his reduced stature.
Hemmit, unsure of his place in this battle, did his best to not get hit and to ensure that any killing blows that were headed towards Jalana or Grash were averted or at least reduced in their lethality.
The stead died and it’s black blood stained the soil where it fell, it’s screams like those of tortured souls. Arryn, pulling himself from the mud and with a smile on his face pulled his hair back from his face and looked up at the pair of them, Jalana with her swords; one aflame, and Grash; almost seeming to be shifting out of focus when looking at him directly.
‘Give up, wretch, and I’ll only torture you for a week rather than a month’ Grash said between heavy breaths.
Arryn laughed and raised himself up, his arm carrying the giant hammer was down, the head of the mighty weapon in the mud. With his other hand he reached to the large sapphire that sat nestled in the middle of his armours chest piece and looked down at it in his hand.
‘If I can’t have it….nobody can…’ he said, seemingly to himself, then crushed it.
The light of his armour waned, and then extinguished. Arryn seemed to sag in his armour and Jalana and Grash took their opportunity, launching a flurry of blows at Arryn who now could barley parry a single one. They defeated him and stood above him looking down.
‘Should have taken my offer little beetle.’ chuckled Grash, but Arryn barely made a sound as he lay bleeding in the mud.
‘Grash, the balance needs to be restored.’
‘You and your bloody balance..’ grumbled Grash and he grabbed the other ankle of Arryns heavy armour and helped Jalana drag him back to the forest line to the waiting giants.
The storm had picked up and the old and mighty trees were now bending at the middle. The gail sent sudden rivers by their feet as they watched the giants gather around Geryon.
As they watched, Geryon sitting by the unmoving form of Arryn, lowered his battering ram of a fist and crushed the halfing in his armour, Jalana didn’t look away. She knew this was right, it felt right.
Grash stood impassively, happy to see the little creature practically implode in his own armour like crushing a tomato in a fist, but sad that he was missing out on torturing the insolent little creature.
‘That was for my people.’ Geryon said quietly to himself and then stood, raising his fist up to the heavens, powerful muscles surging in his body and a light growing in his eyes.
‘AND THIS IS FOR MY DAUGHTER!’
Jalana and Grash barely had time to throw themselves out of the way as his anger coalesced to iron hard flesh crashing to already desecrated body of Arryn, turning what was a crumpled piece of armour into a crater of splintered steel and flesh.
Geryon regained his composure and turned to them. Grash, Jalana and Hemmit stood to the side, allowing the giants their time to come to peace with their vengeance completed.
As the storm gained even more momentum the giants were all standing, swaying in the wind, most of their heads just above the tree tops. They were listening to something.
‘What is it Geryon?’ called Jalana to their apparent leader. ‘What are your people doing?’
Geryon seemed to come out of a trance, looking down at them, then over at the mountains to the north. He lowered a giant hand and beckoned them to get on it, they did, trusting him and raised it above the trees pointing towards one of the mountains in the distance that they didn’t remember being there before.
’He comes…our _father_" rumbled Geryon.
The giants about him began a low rumbling, the sound like boulders crashing from slopes into the sea. They looked from the giants back to the strangely shaped mountain in the distance and realised that the mountain was moving.
Slowly, but surely the mountain got closer, and as lightning flashed about its mighty shoulders they realised that it was no mountain, it was a giant of unbelievably proportions, at least 20 times bigger than the biggest giant that had come south with them.
It began like the wind but then changed tempo and pitch and they realised the thing was speaking. The giants kept listening and after some time they all began to move. Geryon put them back to the ground.
‘What is happening?’ asked Hemmit, awe in his voice at the sight of such a being.
Geryon looked down at him, ‘Trouble is coming. We are going home. Thank you again, we will not forget it.’ and with that the giants left.
As they stood at the forests edge watching them go they heard the gates of the Citadel behind them open, this time with no fanfare and, with the storm lessening, they could hear the cries of the townspeople.
They all turned to see a single rider coming to them at speed. They readied themselves for another fight, still exhausted after giving Arryn almost all they had.
Wyne came up to them and stopped a few feet from them and practically leapt from the horse and came to them on foot.
‘Come with me inside the citadel immediately! We need to prepare!’ he ordered them
The three couldn’t have been more surprised and it showed on their faces.
Frustrated, Wyne continued. ‘The host of Blargur is here, that’s why the giants left, they’re almost at our gates and if we don’t get inside to prepare for the attack we’re all dead.’ he looked to each of them imploringly. ‘I….need your help!’ he cried.
Suddenly, as the wind dropped a little more, they all heard it, the sound of the largest Goblin horde ever to be seen.