The horribly disfigured features of the hill giant's face were contorted with agony as his head sailed through the air, trailing blood and bits of gore like the tail of a comet. Gorith the Walking Disaster, as the hill giant was known in the valley, fell to his knees as his decapitated ten-foot tall body finally died and then fell forward into the muddy courtyard in front of the tavern.
All eyes in town rested on the strange dwarf who had ended the giant's 15-year reign of terror in the valley beyond the mountain stronghold of Kelgrond. Over the course of those long years, not one single request for help had been answered by the Queen. The dwarves in the small town of Dowtan had begged numerous times through emissaries and letters. Offerings had been made to the ancestors and the Gods that kept them. No one had ever tried to stop Gorith from tormenting the residents of this small, insignificant town.
Until today, that is.
There was not a dwarf standing in the courtyard watching the death of their most feared enemy that even recognized the unusual savior in their midst. He was not one of the kingdom's popular heroes. He didn't wear the clothes of a hill dwarf. He didn't wear the armor typical of the royal army, either. This stranger was dressed in such an odd assortment of items that, when he had arrived earlier in the day, the residents of Dowtan had mocked him mercilessly.
"Where'd ye get them silly rags ye be wearin', stranger?" the town's constable had asked as the newcomer entered town that morning. Constable Toram had grinned his broken smile and twirled his war hammer by its strap, as was his custom.
The odd dwarf had only returned the smile and replied, "I found them amongst yer mother's small clothes, officer. She bid me keep them for the good work I'd done on her the night 'afore." The newcomer had then spit at the constable's feet and continued on to the pub in search of a drink, all the while trailing that unusual weapon of his.
That was the most unnerving thing about this funny-looking dwarf. His clothing was off-putting, to be sure. He wore a bright red shirt with puffy lace at the collar and wrists that clashed dreadfully with his shiny calf-high purple boots, and his black pants were so tight you could tell his ancestry at a glance. But the massive sword he carried over one shoulder would have been big if Gorith the Walking Disaster himself had carried it. On a four and a half foot tall dwarf, the sword was comically large. It dragged in the mud behind him, leaving a strange trail in his wake; two sauntering footsteps and a swerving line cut into the ground wherever he went.
Once he reached the pub, the stranger didn't even order an ale, as was the custom for a dwarf in any land; mountain, hill, or sea. No, this outlandish fellow ordered a bottle of human whisky. He sat quietly in the corner, his gigantic sword leaned upon the table with the hilt in easy reach, and casually drained the entire bottle of booze over the course of two hours. His eyes had flitted across every face that entered as if he were searching for someone.
"Who are ye, then?" the buxom bartender had asked of this dwarf that stood out ever so much amongst her regular patrons.
"Why, I'm the fuckin' one ta save this shithole, lass. Now, do us a favor and piss off, if ye don't mind," he replied with an unkind grin.
Merryander had huffed and spun on her heels at such a rebuke, having never been spoken to as rudely by a customer. "I wonder what's up that one's arse," she muttered while storming off.
Around noon, per the norm, the resounding boom of footsteps echoed through the middle of town. Gorith had come for his bribe.
The hill giant had originally come to town years ago in order to kill and eat a few helpless dwarves once a week. Now, dwarves are a race bred for physical labor, making them strong and excellent fighters, but the people of Dowtan were farmers. They had never been trained in the ways of war. Folks in these parts relied on the constable to protect them, but Shamrun had been the first to die those long years ago. The Queen, bless her majestic heart and the Gods that keep her, had never sent more than a single dwarf to help the residents of Dowtan; a replacement constable. Toram had arrived two months after Gorith's first attack. Having been trained as an officer, the new constable was skilled in negotiations, and so struck a deal with the fearsome hill giant. They would let Gorith have whatever he wanted and would not fight back if he would refrain from killing any more dwarves.
YOU ARE READING
The Gods That Keep ThemFantasy
A foul-mouthed warrior with a sword almost too big to be used. A halfbreed former prostitute with a secret power flowing through her veins. A wizard who wants to harvest and use that power. A mysterious chef who has never lost a fight. An innocent m...