Many years before the modern day, a child was born into the realm unlike most that his mother had already pushed out. It was not his abundant size, nor the thickset cropping of dark matted hair already running down the back of his neck, and still not the presence of a hereditary birthmark landing on his right hip that I speak of.
All his siblings before had come into the world the same way. Their mother, too, was a standardly large creature, but that is no surprise considering their De-Myrian lineage. Giants, most called them. To be raped by or to fornicate with one of their men was a death sentence, as any normal human attempting to birth the baby would undoubtedly be ripped apart, if she made it that far into the pregnancy.
No, I turn your attention to the child’s eyes, already open, already still and calm despite the tumultuous entry into life. So deep and brown they may have been black, observing every movement around him, soaking in the details of his family rejoicing, his father lifting him to the sky and proclaiming his name for the whole village to hear.
The namesake of his grandfather, lost long before in the heat of war.
Destined to grow beyond what even his siblings several years older would do. I say destined, because all things have a purpose and a path, do they not? I suppose that is an arbitrary term, used by zealots and believers, both of which the De-Myrians were not. They worshiped iron and earth only. Inhabiting the Greater Forests, like their barbaric ancestors, mocked by their companion clans that chose to sit in ivory towers along the coast. Yet, when the cry of battle rang out, who would always be at the front leading the charge?
That is, unless it was to set foot on a navy warship, something few De-Myrians had ever done. Their distaste for the sea grew each year, and their love for the animals and the trees along with it.
Would it surprise you to know that between the day of his birth, and the day we watch him subdued in battle for the first time, only seventeen years had passed? I would fill you in, but tales of his swift journey into manhood and his many exploits have already been shared around campfires and in war councils across the realm, so you won’t have to wait long before you hear an accounting.
His hand twitched in hers, flexing open and shut, pinching knuckles in mild pain at every breath that seemed to be uncontrollably loud.
“Kysix, calm yourself, you’re hyperventilating.”
“What, I mean…yes mother….”
The boy sucked in a breath and held it for a few moments before exhaling gently to gain control of himself. A tinge of fear, stacked with an unbelievable excitement had been growing since the moment he overheard the news of the Great Bear’s capture. His mother, the Dutchess of High Fen Estates, gave his hand one final squeeze before continuing to walk with him down the long corridor, dimly lit as it descended into the basement section of the fortress, her long dress train slowly turning a faded color as it picked up the grime of unswept floors. She still didn’t understand why a prison had to always be located in the dark recesses of space, but then, she had also never thrown a man, or woman, into one, nor would she understand the meaning of such things.
Hers was a kind heart, benevolent towards all, exampled by the small basket tucked under her free arm containing a few cuts of dried meat and fruit, as well as a small cask of wine.
“Is it true?” Kysix piped up. “Is it true that he decapitates his enemies by stepping on their heads and tearing their bodies off? And does he really tie them between two saplings and let the trees rip them-”
She gasped aloud, nearly dropping the basket as they walked. “Ky! What terrible things to say aloud.”
“But mother I just-”
“I’ll hear no such things.” Now she gripped his hand tightly causing him to wince. “It’s one thing to hear grotesque tales from your father and uncles, I abide their tongues because that’s just how men handle war. But you have no reason to speak of them, especially around me.” Blushed lips pursed together as her mind tried to rid itself of the frightening images the boy’s words brought to life. “How in the world do you even learn of such things?” She added.
Kysix thought for a moment before answering. “It was in a manuscript at school.”
The wise choice, but she knew it was a lie. Boys always lie.
Two soldiers escorting them muttered something between them as they paced a few steps behind. They were nearing the cell house where the prisoners were kept, and as the torches cast flickering shadows, the sounds of rats rustling away could be heard.
“I want you to say nothing, and do nothing but look, you hear me.” Mother commanded child, to which he nodded vigorously, and began breathing quickly again. Guards saluted them, leading the way to a corner, exchanging simple words of greeting before unlatching the outer door and swinging it wide to reveal the heavyset barred fence that separated them from the cell hewn straight from stone.
Kysix leapt forward, letting go of his mother’s hand and peering his eyes into the dark.
No sound came from this cell. Was the Bear sleeping? All he could make out was a great heap of straw that made up a bed. As his vision adjusted he began to see the shape of a mountain of a man, lying on his back, arms stretched behind his head, remaining perfectly still. Wearing only a loose pair of pants, cascading lumps of muscle could be seen, with thick, dark hair covering most of the outer side of the man’s arms. Great tufts on his chest and abdomen.
Was he asleep? Kysix’s fingers trembled in joy as he saw for the first time a true and genuine fable, and it did not disappoint.
But Gaermund was not asleep, only resting, and listening. His ears sharply tuned to even the smallest of sounds, he had heard them coming long before. Yet, he did not move, even when his stomach growled as the smell of meat and wine filled his nostrils. Somehow his massive form seemed so docile and serene, lying there, soundlessly.
In fact, he had hardly made a sound or spoken a word since his capture. After the battle and his aggressive adrenaline hard worn off, he had been escorted to the rear of the enemy encampment, stripped of his armor and weapons, and spent five days walking. No fighting, no anger, because he knew the Azaralie laws regarding prisoners of war. He also knew what he meant to them, and it was not just the fear his captors felt in his presence that kept them distanced and wary, which gave him the utmost confidence.
He knew the price that would be paid for him.
- some concept art for your enjoyment -