(A Tale From the Alliance of Stone)
The Littlest Hill Giant
The story of Grumbor of the Offaltop
Giant tales tell of the littlest Hill Giant, Grumbor Offaltop, and the role he has to play in the Alliance of Stone between the goblins and the hill giants that broke Venril Sathir’s hold on Karnor. Grumbor was a giant of uniquely diminutive (for a giant) stature, and some owe the willingness of the goblins to listen to the Hill Giant negotiation party to this particular feature of Grumbor’s personage.
This story was transcribed in the early time of Firiona Vie, when we first came and made our bid at establishing a hold in this savage land, and is believed to be from Grumbor’s own mouth, though by that time he would have been far advanced in years. The transcriber was doubtless slain with the first devastation of Firiona Vie, but their parchments were preserved in the ruins.
Let this tale remind us that even the most savage races have their own heroes, and that the essence of being a hero is not virtue or civility, but a passion for the greater good that endures in even the most insurmountable odds. – Borowyn Skydancer, scholar of Firiona Vie
Why, I’ve always been small. When I popped out of my mother, they almost didn’t notice me. That was, til I started screaming. Then they looked at the small thing and wondered what misfortune was theirs. You being so little, you probably don’t think anything of my size, but think of one of your folk coming barebly above your waist, and you’ll know why I were the shame of the Offaltop.
My mother loved me though, the way all mothers love even their weakest runts, and she were mighty protective of me. I weren’t allowed to throw boulders or uproot trees with the other boys, and when it came time to learn to fight and defend the Offaltop, she claimed me for a sick one and made me stay in bed. Finally, my father changed that, saying it were shame enough I was a runt, and only worse I couldn’t fight, so I was let to learn to fight at a range.
Since all I did was fire a bow and throw a spear, I became the best shot in the tribe. And it were for this that I was finally seen to have some worth, and allowed to go with the party to speak with the gobbys about the coming war. I had never been much to my tribe, and feared the thought of leaving something awful, but I wanted to prove myself to them. For all they had done and said, they were my people, and they faced a terrible danger. I wanted to do whatever I was able to help preserve us. By that time, the rotting flesh eaters were on us on all sides, and though we knew not much about them, we knew they were worse than the goblins. We’d fought so much with the gobbers, though, it seemed an alliance was more than we could ever hope for. We went anyway though. What else could we do? The first of us to go to the gobbers came back a battered and bruised. The gobbers hadn’t let them get close enough to speak any words. The second time we went, we were sure to have a gobber scout dragged behind us on a rope, so they knew better than to fire on us.
I went with this second group. As we approached, the gobbers came out to speak about their scout on the rope. When they caught sight of me, they all stared with wide little gobber eyes. When it were noticed that I was the focus of their attentions, our leader shoved me toward them, telling me not to shame us. I approached the gobbers, and when I opened my mough to say something, they all laughed in their high gobber way. It were about as much as I could stand. I had proved myself a warrior, and was due respect.
I threw my spear so that it struck a tree behind one of the fancier dressed gobbers with a terrible thud. I said then, “Don’t take that for a mistake. I were aiming high. We need tot talk.” The gobbers quit laughing then, and the fancy dressed gobber said, “What do you want, giantses?”
“We want to talk about fighting together,” I said.
“Fighting together?” she asked. “Why would giantses want to fight with us?”
“The rotting flesh eaters take anything,” I said. “And will soon take everything if we don’t fight.” The gobby was quiet, and then turned to speak quietly with other gobbers. Soon after, she turned back and said, “We’ll talk, but only if you some little giant. We likes you little giant. You are not so hard to talk to without hurting our necks.” All the gobbers did their laughing, but this time I didn’t feel they were laughing at me, but at all of us for what we had to do. You may know we did end up fighting beside the gobbers, but they were only willing if promised them the great mine Konikor, and if I stayed with them as the representative of the hill giants. That first fancy dressed gobber, Irikia, came to be a friend of mine, and we fought along side each other to destroy the rotten flesh eaters and the other hoards of their master. I was also there when we convinced the dog men to fight with us. The dog men did not like me so much. They wondered why the hill giants would send their weakest to speak for them, but I showed the dog men what my aim could do, and won their respect.
It was never my surprise that the rotten flesh eaters fell. When the dog men turned on them, and they faced the might of the giant, gobber, and the dog man, we crushed them and drove them back. But as you may also know, we did not stay friends with the gobbers. This was also not so surprising. Goblins and hill giants were never meant to be friends. I never knew quite what happened, though, to bring about that end, but one day Irikia came to me, throwing gobber insults at me as fast as she were able.
“The lies of the hill giants!” she hissed. “You always lie!” I asked her what she meant, and she told me that the mine we had offered them would never be theirs; that they had learned we did not mean to give it to them. Now, I was with the Offaltop, but I had never heard any speak of this. I told her I believed the mine to be theirs, but she refused to believe me, calling me a liar like all my people, and that being their runt didn’t change that.
I was surprised how it hurt when she threw me out. I were lucky she didn’t kill me, but even in all her anger, she gave me a head start. In time, the gobbers did pursue me, but only after I had gotten far enough to make my way back to the Offaltop in safety. I told them of what was coming, and then we fought the War of Lies against the gobbers for many long years. How the rotten flesh eaters and their master much have laughed at us then! But I suppose it is true that goblins and giants were never meant to be friends.
I saw Irikia once while fighting. I could have thrown a spear straight at her head, but I didn’t. She could have let loose poison tipped arrows at me, but she didn’t either. We just looked away and killed each other’s kin. I don’t know what happened of Irikia, but my tribe killed many goblins that day, and she were probably one of them. After that second war had been fought as long as anyone could stand to fight it, it ended without us or the gobbers truly winning. I was through with fighting then. I had almost lost my leg, and still walk with a limp to this very day.
I left the Offaltop and their wars and took to living on me own, though I continued to hunt rotting flesh eater and other threats to the tribe on my own. They never did ask me back. For when I was no longer fighting in their wars, I went back to being the runt and the shame, and so the Offaltop were not sad to see me go. My old mother was long dead by then, and my father had always let me do as I would. Sometimes I still catch sight of an Offaltop or two, but they treat me like they would an animal whose meat is no good for eating. Not a threat, but not of use either.
I hope to be taken to my people when I die, but I do not know who would know of my death and think to come find me. It is good enough to know that when I am gone, though, the Offaltop will still be here, though your kind and many others seem to be moving on to the land. I should kill you, probably, but I am too old now, and I am not sure you have come to destroy the Offaltop the way the rotten flesh eaters did. I tell you not to think of crossing the Offaltop, though. Not unless you wish a quick death.
Scholar’s Note: The following notes were jotted at the end of the transcript, as though the transcriber had planned to later write this all out with a narrative flow.
Quiet then. His rough manner of speaking lowered to a hush. Thought maybe he would cry, but do giants cry? Opens his mouth as if to say something, but nothing comes out. He’s done. That’s all I will get from him.
Perfect illustration of his people’s dual nature: terrifying giants made small by the further incursions of other races. Their relentless defense of their people even against great odds. Friendship with the goblin is strange, but he speaks about her friendship with genuine warmth, and of her betrayal with undisguised pain. Maybe goblins and giants can actually be friends. Just not likely to be. One leg seems shorter than the other. A scar across his pocketed forehead. A weathered bow hangs on the wall. Warrior, true. Hero, truer.