Although the publication of this book is indeed a wish of mine, it is with great apprehension that I tell you this story. During these past few years the people of Duniasi have been surprisingly kind to me; considering that I was the first outsider to enter Duniasi. But before anything, it is my duty to inform you that although as stubborn, rude and reckless as we are, Duniasians are not particularly fond of the practices and traditions of the real world and are especially sensitive to strangers of any kind.
With that in mind and although I hope you enjoy entering my imagination I will have to ask you that, when exiting, you leave everything as you found it. In fact, if at all possible, try not to touch anything. With time I have come to realize that even the most careless of Duniasians get particularly grouchy when they realize that their things have been misplaced. It is also my wish to clarify that, although I have selected an important event to start the narrative, this story began way before our starting point. Well… Way, way before if we wanted to count losses or blame somebody; but I have chosen to begin our tale on… Oh, let’s call him a positive note. In fact so positive in its own innocence that at that night he tried to touch the stars.
Sitting high above the clouds, there was a child.
A rather stubborn child, that is. Bold and fearless, the boy had managed to reach the very top of the one tree he had not yet been skillful enough to climb. Well, not until that point anyway. Despite his father’s constant warnings, walking among giants had filled his heart with a wish to gaze the world from above. Having just completed his fifth Day of Summons, he was not only the youngest member of his family, but without a doubt also the smallest person in the kingdom he was off to.
Although the boy was overwhelmed with merriment after seeing his uncle arrive in the citadel, the reason for his visit was as bitter as it was confusing to him. In his oblivious and innocent mind, only one thing was certain: It was the river’s fault!
He could see it from his window as clearly as he could see it from the high branches he was sitting on. A few weeks back, the boy and his brother were playing near the water when they decided the day was too warm to find relief under a simple shade.
“Stay here, little brother.”
The older one said, disregarding the fact that the little one was being suffocated by the heat as much as he was.
“Mother will be here in a moment. She will bring you in!”
Hearing his brother’s words, the boy sat back down for however long it took for the two playful birds he was staring at to disappear in the horizon; which was far too long according to the supreme laws of shenanigans he so closely lived by. He then got up and walked slowly into the river. The willful child didn’t even have the water reach his chest before it started to pull him into the deep end. He did not know how or why but his legs no longer had a say on where he was going. He struggled to stay afloat for as long as he could. Unfortunately, the events that followed happened far too fast, and far too blurry for him to remember. All he knew was that later that week he had woken up to find that his mother was gone, and he was no longer welcome in his homeland.
- Well, I’ll be!
He heard in the distance. Although darkness still ruled the sky, the giant was particularly good at unveiling his hidings, especially since most trees the child could climb were as tall as he was.
- Uncle! Look, I did it!
- Yes, yes my boy. I am proud of you, but I am afraid time is running short. The sun will be up soon and we must be off!
Since he was far too young to reminisce about all he was leaving behind, he climbed down and jumped into his uncle’s arm, where he sat comfortably as if they were a chair. Up ahead the arkys were saddled and the litter was all ready for him. Funny looking creatures, the arkys; resembling a fat stag, they were actually made of pure muscle, and had enormous crooked horns growing out of their heads and falling all the way down to their front legs into the shape of a very convenient stirrup. They were also very likely to be the only animals both tall and strong enough to carry the giants of Duniasi.
- Father! – The boy shouted, seeing the king standing next to the litter.
- My boy! My pride and joy, please come to me.
The giant gently put him down on the cold grass where he ran desperately into his father’s arms. In his heart he did not wish to leave, but if he were to leave then he would at least expect a proper farewell.
- Where is my brother? He promised he would be here!
- I know, my love. Last I saw him he was in his room. He was quite shaken by all of this.
- Weren’t we all… – The giant observed.
- Yes, I suppose. I am sure he will be here soon enough. Meanwhile, why don’t you get yourself comfortable? You have a long journey ahead.
- Yes, I know. – The boy agreed with swollen eyes.
He jumped inside the litter where a neat little nest of blankets was waiting for him. He fumbled around for a while before deciding he was not up for sleeping just yet.
- Is brother here yet? – He poked his head out of the window.
- You just asked us that a moment ago, child. Why don’t you lay down for an instant? – The king proposed, kindly. – We will call you when he gets here.
He smiled, going back to his blankets quietly; however, it was not long until he got agitated again and started to cry out for the king. To his surprise, the giant came to his aid.
- Sleep, nephew. – He said, lovingly. – Your father went to get your brother for you, but I am afraid we have very little time for goodbyes.
- Uncle… why is brother not to come with us? He was in the river too…
The giant sat down next to him, taking the child in his arms again. The boy took a blanket and made himself comfortable as he waited for an answer.
- Well, I am afraid it is not my place to tell you that. But how about this; instead of staying in this boring litter, why don’t we lay down in the grass and watch the sun come up?
The boy smiled, nodding his head in agreement. However, it was quite apparent that he did not wish to leave the giant’s arms.
- Uncle, can you sit on the grass? And can I stay here with you? And can you tell a story?
The energetic boy did not seem to tire easily, so the giant happily agreed to his conditions.
- Sure, my boy. And which story do you want to hear?
- Well… last year I asked father to tell me the story of the evil Guardian, but he said I was too young to understand it. Do you think I am old enough now?
He analyzed the boy’s expression, who was so desperate to hear the “grown up” story he had gotten himself all riled up.
- I suppose you have done quite a bit of growing in the past few weeks. And you are definitely taller than the last time I saw you.
He noticed the boys eyes widen as he spoke. He had certainly gotten his hopes up.
- So will you tell me the story, uncle? Will you?
- Yes, yes. Now settle down and get yourself comfortable. It is quite long, you know…
- Alright, uncle. I am all settled. – He said, snuggling up in his blanket.
The giant leaned back, rocking him softly back and forth. Both of them gazed at the stars, letting the pale light of both moons ease their minds.
- A day before our own, there was light. – The giant started, making the child’s eyes sparkle. – All men lived by it, carrying on with their lives tirelessly within a never ending day. Bright and happy it was and for thousands of years men were no less than the true kings of the world.
- Did they all wear crowns like you and father?
The giant smiled.
- Well, they might as well have. Nobody ever dared do defy them, and to ensure their reign was as prosper as could be, Amus-ey showed himself merciful by keeping them under his protection. Love, fellowship and peace were of paramount importance from the very moment the Five Guardians were elected. Atius, Palathon, Galahad, Enfys and Nerys were their names. Wise, strong and powerful they were and for centuries they stood watch over the great mountain of Leanin; until love showed itself to be a double edged sword. Destined to outlast the short lives of men in solitude, all Atius could do was watch as one of his fellow companions fell into the darkest of pits.
Tall, talented and handsome, Palathon went on to proclaim his love for Enfys, a happening that profoundly hurt lady Nerys, for in her heart she had betrayed her husband Galahad by looking at Palathon with lust. Once the humiliation finally made itself unbearable, Galahad started to envy Atius’ position and it was not long until he started to plot to overthrow him.
Driven by compassion, Nerys’forces joined Galahad’s cause and gifted him the most powerful amulet any being had ever lair eyes upon: The Great Medallion.
It was not long before his army was powerful enough to take down both Palathon and Enfys, nearly destroying the world of men in the process. “Ederyn” was the name the Five were given after such happening. In the eldest forms of Nira, it means “prisoner”… A plebeian reference towards their immortality and a tasteless joke if you ask me! Failing to protect the lesser race of men and acting through Amus-ey’s might, Atius banished Galahad and his warriors to the very depths of the Great Kivja, the mountain where Ihira, the beast itself, had once been exiled in before disappearing without a trace. That, my boy, was when darkness came. It fell upon us like a blanket over a cold bed, covering every last inch of the sky and tiring our souls until our eyes were too heavy to remain open. And ever since that day, there was a time for the light of day to come to an end, and for us to find a way back home to safety and warmth.
- Well, not all of us. – The energetic boy interrupted. – You know, I can stay up all night, uncle. I have done it before and…
- I am well aware, my boy. However, I think your aunt would be less than happy to see us arrive tired. She has not seen you for a long time and there is much to talk about… And to eat!
The boy’s eyes sparkled with joy. He then leaned back and continued to listen.
- As it turns out, Galahad had made himself busy. His army of highly skilled pelkas had managed to dig their way so far down the mountain that the exiled Ederyn was able to make a very impressive lair. Sneaky little things, those pelkas. Only one race above men, the funny eared creatures were created with the sole purpose to serve their masters in war. But as it turns out, they were apparently quite the builders for after Galahad’s death, they made a neat little empire for themselves up in Valtak.
- Wait, uncle. Wait… I thought you said that Galahad was immortal.
- Well, yes. Age does not seem to affect neither Ederyns nor Pelkas very much. However, there is no cure for a clean cut to the throat. After your head is off… It is off for good. And do you know who saved us all from that vile being?
- Fenmore. – The boy said calmly, feeling his eyes starting to get heavy.
- Well, I thought you had never heard this story before.
- Everybody knows about Fenmore, uncle. – He said, very satisfied with himself.
- Yes, I suppose. – The giant agreed, defeated by the boy’s answer. – Fenmore ventured through that nasty lair Galahad called a home, only to challenge him to a combat. Once he lured him out of the mountain, the man fought with all his faith; and since it was clear that Galahad had none it was quite easy to find a weakness. After the deed was done, he returned home to live out his days in peace, and so the remaining Guardians gathered with the Atalahs and Galahad’s sons to decide the Medallion’s fate. Long into the night they argued, only to decide that it should never again fall into another’s hands. Failing to come to an agreement, the Medallion was taken back into the Mountain to be broken into eight pieces. Each of Galahad’s sons then took them into different territories of Duniasi, discarding them and founding a new nation for all of us to live in. It is quite a happy one, don’t you think?
The giant looked down and realized the boy was fast asleep. Up ahead, the king and his oldest son were coming their way with a basket full of honey cakes and other treats for them to take on the road. When they finally arrived, the giant was putting the boy back down into the litter and covering him with yet another blanket.
- Hello, uncle. – The teenager said, hugging him and staring at his brother who slept peacefully. – I am sorry I took so long. Somehow it seemed that the longer I took, the longer he would remain here.
- It’s alright, lad. You are here now and that is what matters.
- Here, we brought you some food for the road. I know you have plenty but these are all his favorites. – The king said, running his fingers gently through his child’s hair.
- Well, then they are very welcome. Thank you. And again, I am very sorry that it must be this way. – The giant replied.
- I know. And I know it must have taken you a while to make him sleep but his brother really wanted to say goodbye.
- I understand. Let’s wake him then. I’m sure the road will put him right back to sleep.
As the king went to wake the sleeping boy, his son was quick to stop him.
- No, father. Let him sleep.
- Are you sure? You will not be seeing each other for a long time.
- Yes, I am sure. Let’s not make this dreadful day last any longer…
Courage doesn’t mean the same when the city burns, and the walls crumble. The Great Medallion has resurfaced; an ancient alliance is broken and the good name of Amus-ey is dragged through the dirt. The tigers in the north march to a greater legacy while home is left to burn. A social rebellion elects a very peculiar king, and a higher race finds a way to once again influence the doom of men. In the south, a gesture of good faith costs the giants of Duniasi a good deal of blood but it is not in vain, for the future leaders learn that a hundred men with sharp blades are worth a lot more than a thousand with wooden swords.