Hilda Finds a Home

by

Urikson

Interlude: How a Sad Stone Giant Became Red, part 1

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A note from Urikson

This short story takes place in the same setting as Hilda's story (though a couple hundred years before Hilda's time). It's written in a totally different style, even a differnt genre. Sort of like a kind of myth people in this world may tell one another.

Hope you like it!

The giant’s body was fashioned from minerals mined by God on the Fifth Day of Creation, when the world was hard. In her breast she had a furnace more fierce than the rage of any dragon that roamed the primordial wilderness of Eden. However, grief has made her brittle.

Once, she loved to touch and be touched, to love and fight and love again. Now, she answered smiles with scowls and winks with growls. Every time she closed her eyes, she was transported back to that awful moment. The child is dead.

The dusk giant loomed over her, tall and wonderful. She should have comforted him -- it was his child too -- but her limbs were as fossils and her tongue was as lead. They told her she wailed and the hills shook with the force of her wailing. She did not hear it. All she could hear were those four words, like icy droplets on the furnace in her breast.

The child is dead. The child is dead. The child is dead.

She could conjure up other images than his dessicated body. She could master the storm building up inside her. She could shake off the deadness that slugged through her veins. Something yet lived of the girl who called her mother a stupid turtle, who threw a rock at her decisor and made him roll down a hole headfirst so his skinny feet kicked about ineffectually until he was pulled out, who unchained a dragon and rode him naked for days to the cheering of boys and girls until a cadre of warriors subdued her with the assistance of angels invoked from the First Day of Creation by a wise decisor.

But these four words were with her always.

The child is dead. The child is dead. The child is dead.

“Have another child,” said a cave decisor who knew well the wisdom of the stones.

“Let a man distract you from your sorrow,” said the pretty young woman with painted cheeks.

“Let me take your pain upon my shoulders,” said the hero who tamed great Behemoth and put him chains.

She did not listen.

These four words have eclipsed all the happy years she shared with her boy and all the dreams she had for her future. Decades of happiness were not worth the split second of pain brought about by those four words.

The child is dead. The child is dead. The child is dead.

It was the new rhythm of her furnace. That accursed device that ate her from the inside like a seraph carving at a placeholder. Had it not been contrary to the Right Teaching, she’d have ripped her furnace out and hurled it to Sheol.

The child is dead. The child is dead. The child is dead.

No promise of happiness, even if it lasted a thousand years, was worth this conclusion, worth hearing these four words.

The giant did her part to keep the world running because this was the Right Teaching and because what else could she do? She imagined herself a living Rabanus. Was he not a happy man? He had no fears. He had no doubts. His mind was not clouded. He lived in a world of perfect clarity. All day he rolled a stone uphill and at night it rolled down to provide him a purpose on the following day. One can assume he was happy. Yes, she would be like Rabanus.

She’d surround herself with stones. Stones do not love. Stones are not tender. Stones are reliable. Stones do not die.


One day, a great fire giant came from the east. All gathered to hear his stories and drink deeply of his wisdom. First, he put the decisor to shame by trapping him in his own commentaries and exposing the foibles of his commentaries.

This won the fire giant the admiration of any boy who ever tasted the decisor’s bitter tongue and sharp rocks. However, the girls noticed something else. The newcomer was beautiful and courteous and smelled of fragrant sandalwood and distant flowers.

After the feast in his honor, after the evening hymns were performed with zeal and joy, as dictated by the Right Teaching, the fire giant surprised the night giants by walking to the least of them, the broken woman who lingered in corners like a shadow before sunrise and fled the scornful glares of her betters.

“You are very beautiful,” he told her. “Do you think I’m beautiful?”

She blinked.

“I have traveled very far and slept alone for very long…”

She scoffed.

“I have tasted nothing but the harshness of truth on dusty roads. May I quench my thirst upon your lips?”

She scowled.

“I have struggled with lying monsters and monstrous lies. I have carried heavy burdens that injured my back and witnessed injustices that lacerated my soul. May I embrace your gentle shoulders?”

She frowned.

“I have looked at the ugly world of men who are weak and hateful. I have seen the godless guile of spirits and the revolting bigotry of ghouls. May I look upon your radiance?”

She shrugged.

“You have looked upon me long enough,” the sad giant said bitterly. “Now go away and let me finish weaving my basket in peace. It is a gift to a prophet who will be born in a hundred years and preach the Right Teaching to the sons of Hagamid, peace be upon him and blessing. It must be perfect.”

“You have denied me all that I have asked of you, why should I grant you that which you ask of me? Surely we who work the balance of the world must have balance among ourselves.” His tone was reproaching, but his black lips curled into a smile and his eyes shone with mirth like embers about to leap from the fire.

Far away, in the darkness, a coven of young women followed the conversation with hearts poisoned with jealousy. Why she? Why the broken one? Is not each of us lovelier and livelier than her? She also caught the fancy of the wise dusk giant who came before this one… How unfair and unreasonable is the world. The God of Stone alone is the judge of truth and all his ways are justice.

The fire giant didn’t budge. “I want to earn the right to look upon you.”

“Look at me all you want,” The sad giant attempted a smile, “I will not throw stones at you.”

“No, I wish to earn this right,” The fire giant insisted. “Assent does not please me, I demand zeal.”

“Very well,” the sad giant answered. “Let me send you on a quest, like my mother had sent my father when the world was younger and dragons were wild and wanton.” She played with her lower lip as she considered what would keep this hero away the longest. “Ah yes…” A wicked smile split her placid face, “bring me the tear of one sadder than--”

The fire giant laughed derisively. “Who are you to send me on quests? You who would not even get on your feet to greet a visitor from distant lands, you who would not raise her eyes from a mere basket to look upon a Speaker of Exalted Truth and one who has walked the Straight Path from Airyanem Vaejah, the land of truth and fire, to the holy city of Jarba-ilan where the sons and daughters of the moon wail for their loss!”

The sad giant was taken aback. She was sometimes pitied, she was often mocked, but she was never berated, not since her maidenhood when she’d resolved an argument with a decisor by hurling him down a hole and rode a dragon wildly among the hills.

The sad giant was no longer a rambunctious child and so she did not reply instantly, as her heart dictated.

However, the fire giant spoke on. “No, haughty child. It is I who will give you a quest. When the poets compose hymns about this meeting, they will say, ‘behold how extraordinary it is, a giant gave a giantess a quest. Who has heard of such a thing before! Listen, for it is a wonder!’”

The sad giant had no desire to go on a quest or to be the subject of hymns. She was content to be ordinary. She would not wrestle with a blue dragon to steal from it a single perfect tear. She would not seek out the ghost of the Daughter of Seven Stars to learn the most potent oath of love uttered by King Dalion, peace be upon him, to his dark beloved, whose name all but the Gloom Elves are forbidden to utter. She would not barter with the charcoal man for a perfect diamond from the hellish bowels of Sheol. She was a basket weaver. All she desired was to weave baskets.

“I have no desire to leave this cave, except on such occasions as are mandated by the Right Teaching.”

The fire giant, however, made as if he heard her not. “Here it is what you must do to earn my pardon,” the fire giant’s eyes shone like magma. “Weave me a red shawl.”

Despite herself, the sad giant felt curiosity rising in her breast. “What is a shawl?”

“It is a large square of cloth that the women of my homeland wrap around their shoulders to hide their body.”

For the first time in many months, the giant examined herself. Her abdomen was as the wall of a fortress. Her breasts were firm and shapely. Her fingers were long and graceful. Her shoulders were powerful and smooth. Her sigils were precise and elegant. “Why should I hide my body? It is a good body.”

“I do not care,” said the fire giant, though his eyes stayed long upon her body. “This is the quest that I have devised for you. No other giant in all the chronicles was ever given such a quest. I now place an oath upon you by the Holy, blessed be he, and by the blinding fire of Truth, that you will do this thing which I have commanded.”

The sad giant shrugged. “Weaving is my occupation, so it is no bother, though I know not where to procure a red dye. Nevertheless, I will do as you ask, though it sounds very ostentatious. After I’m done, you will bother me no longer. Swear upon it by the sorrow of our Dark Father and the blood that screams at him from the ground.”

“I solemnly swear to do what you will command me on the day your quest is complete.” The fire giant winked mysteriously and left to teach the young men how to trap Shedim and how to withstand the machination of the vilest of women, the rebel Lilith.

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A note from Urikson

There. Hope you liked it. Next week, we return to Hilda and her nice, new home that nothing bad will ever happen to...

Also, since RR is like YouTube now, please like, subscribe, upvote... um, you know. The thing.


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About the author

Urikson

Bio: I like going to cool places and then making up stuff about them.

Criticism is very welcome! :)

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