Blood of a Titan, Heart of a Mountain
To save his people, an old king must face an impossible beast.
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A tall, hunched woman, covered in hides and furs, makes her slow way onto rostrum. Her long hair is streaked with gray and hangs across her face as she bows low. She brushes a hand thoughtfully over her chin before speaking in a deep, clear voice…
The Northern Reaches were always harsh — but they were not always frozen. Sit and listen: I will tell you how they came to be frozen and cut off as they are, full of strange beasts and mystery.
The landscape reflected the conditions back upon its settlers in the days before the ice. When the sun beat down in the summer, the ground would capture and hold its heat, quick to scald if you were not careful. In winter, the ground would freeze and crack. And throughout the year, food could only be grown where the rocks had split down to the soil. Seeds would take hold in the small fissures, catching rain in the spring and allowing for abundant growth. During the harvests, the settlements would send small caravans to the large caverns in the mountains to prepare them for winter occupation.
Centuries ago, when the north was not so shrouded in ice and mystery, Old King Ferronis led his people from their settlements across the reaches toward the Ancestors’ Caverns carved deep into the mountains as he always did at the first signs of winter, following in the wake of the harvest caravans. In great droves they traveled until they reached the safe haven built to shelter them from the storms of winter.
But when they arrived, they were met not with the warm embrace they expected — but with a monster straight from the old tales of their grandmothers.
A Titan made of ice and rock blocked the Ancestors’ Caverns, a Titan as big as the mountain it sat against. All had heard the legends of Titans: That the Titans themselves were the bringers of winter, causing earth to freeze and snow to fall simply because they roamed the lands. Just the stuff of legends — and yet, here sat one of those legends, obstructing their haven from the winter.
King Ferronis’s people were tough: They had to be to live in the harsh Northern Reaches. They stood tall with pale, almost gray-hued skin. Their lean muscle seemed sculpted out of the barren rocky terrain itself. But despite their fortitude, they knew they could not last the winter camped outside the caverns.
Though Ferronis’s people were not accustomed to fear, they knew anger. And a known enemy, friends, can be just as dangerous as those unknown. Their anger turned upon their king, filling their whispers with venom.
They loved Ferronis the King as they once adored Ferronis the great warrior, but a leader must fight battles with more than steel. His years hung about him like a cloak, his movements slower than they once were. Men and women grow old; perhaps, Ferronis’s people whispered amongst themselves, it was time to elect a new king or queen who would have fresh strength to bring them to safety. Perhaps it was time to choose someone who was not a warrior. They hadn’t known true war for some time, not since Ferronis united the clans. What good was a sword during a time of peace?
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