A Giant Among Men
Right now, in a thousand worlds there are millions of billions of significant events occurring. On the distant planet of Locar alone, there are at least several hundred.
At the southernmost tip of the main continent, the tribes of elves that inhabit the trees of a tropical forest are being attacked by an army of giant bugs that believe the elves have invaded their ancient nesting grounds.
Five leagues north and west of the forest, in a small kingdom, the Queen has just given birth to the child who is prophesied to be the greatest wizard in history, one who will be written down in history books and told in tales as the most renowned ruler or despised tyrant. It is also unexpectedly a girl.
In a mountain range many days travel west, a group of giants, each over twenty feet in height and with a taste for human flesh, are confronting a dragon. They want part of its hoard as tribute, while the dragon is planning supper, tomorrow’s breakfast, and snacks for the next few weeks.
And so it goes for the entire world, people being born and dying, wars fought and won or lost, magic being cast and prayers rising from thousands of throats.
One of these spells is very important; it will seal the fate of all the beings and races in the world.
And in a dingy tavern, called the Golden Boar, far north of there, a flame-haired warrior-woman is about to get her revenge.
Of all the third-rate - no, more like fifth-rate, really - squalid little taverns, these two idiots HAD to walk into this one and choose me for target of the night. Now I remember why I hate humans! Amber sighed and took another desperate chug from her tankard. She scanned the room with a jaundiced eye, seeing only the squalor and decay around her. But despite her rather unflattering thoughts, the Golden Boar was reasonably clean, if dark. Most of the patrons were simply tired farmers relaxing after a long day of work, with the occasional elf or fur-clad barbarian sprinkled in for variety. And of course, there were the adventurers. Most were male humans in their prime, armed to the teeth with daggers, swords, and many other pointy objects to deal death, and armored in shining chain or plate mail.
All of which set Amber further apart. Not only was she female, but she was most obviously a dwarf, one of the hardy people that tended to dwell underground and mine mountains, as well as being renowned for their love of gold, jewels, and ale. Her armory consisted only of a rather battered battle ax, a single dagger at her waist, and a jerkin of leather studded with blunted spikes to give it strength. This made her the mark of the night for two local toughs. The uncouth, towering humans had probably bullied their way to top brawlers among the locals and considered it their duty to harass the wandering glory seekers that made it into town. As soon as they spotted Amber, they put her in the category of "victim" and immediately began to toss innocent, "unintentional" insults her way.
But the dwarf had grown up shorter than almost any being she encountered. She’d had a lifetime to develop methods of revenge. She had managed to give tit for tat so far, but her collection had dwindled to what the toughs would probably consider fighting words, and she was in no mood to get into a bar brawl, despite Alder’s accusations otherwise. Thought of her brother pulled a small sigh from her, and she glanced around in the vain hope he’d magically appear.
No such luck. He had promised that all he had to do was go to the local wizard and drop off the magical wand they’d lugged all the way south, get their pay, and then they would head home. Riiiight. Don’t I wish.
"Hey, I betcha when she gets drunk, she gets a hang-under! Get it? Hang-under!" one of the toughs stage-whispered to his buddy, elbowing him and laughing at his wit.
Amber rolled her eyes and took another deep drink. "Twice the size, twice the jackass," she whispered, taking solace in her long standing belief. Blast it all, Alder, where are you?
Footsteps, only stealthy to a drunk or deaf being, told her she hadn’t been quiet enough. A shadow blocked out the light as the human loomed over her. She pretended not to notice and took another pull on her mug. The man grabbed her by the shoulder and spun her around on the stool to glare at her.
"Are you saying I'm a jackass?" he asked in a quiet voice meant to intimidate her.
"Nope. You're proving that quite well enough without me."
He sputtered for a moment, then said, "Well, that's asking for a fight. You want it, you got it!"
Amber yawned, involuntarily tensing in preparation. She didn’t want to fight, but if it came to blows she wanted the man enraged enough not to think clearly. "Fight you? Hah! There's no challenge to it. Why, my little brother could kick you across the room without breaking into a sweat."
He began to get red in the face. He obviously wasn’t used to being challenged by anyone, let alone a woman half his height. "Yeah, well, I'd like to see him do that! Do you have any idea who you're taking on?"
As she saw Alder's shadow looming in the doorway, she smirked. Perfect timing as usual, brother dear. "I believe I'm talking to an overgrown windbag. As for my brother, well, here he comes." The human turned to the doorway, glaring at where he expected the dwarf's head to be. What he saw was a pair of knees. He looked up...and up... and up, to finally meet the gaze of a being that had to duck to avoid the top of the doorway, an entryway that was at least seven feet! The room grew ominously quiet. The creature that was coming in was a giant-kin, one of the ‘small’ cousins of the man eating monsters of the far north. The human turned to the dwarf in a state of shock, his mouth hanging open. She blinked innocently at him. "By the way," she chirped with a false smile, "did I happen to mention I'm adopted?"
Let me out of here!!!! A.K.A. Home
I want to read more! To get back to the fic archive
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