Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Studious Witch; The Giant of Frost (Part 1)

Thump. Thump. Thump.

The ground shook with each step. Poor Timmy could hardly keep himself stable with all that shaking, nevermind hold in all his pee. Earthquakes weren't common in these parts. They haven't had earthquakes in years. So the only reason the earth could be quaking like that would be due to a giant, right?

 He couldn't stop shaking, and the snow below his feet looked a little more yellow than it did before. Of all the times he had to go hunting, he had to do it now. Granted, snow hares made for good food, especially when food was scarce during the winter months. They were running out of deer meat that they stocked up during the hunting season, and it would be nice to eat something else before it ran out. He didn't even find one snow hare before the thumpingstarted. He recalled something his mom always said: "Stay out too long, Timmy, and the Winter Giant will eat you AND yer jimmies!"

 Ha. Winter Giant. Something that could bring in the winter storms. And there it was, coming fast.. Oh, shouldn't he move? His legs were still shaking. Ground was, too. Where could he even run? Or hide? There weren't any caves nearby, and all there was ahead was a hill the kids liked sliding down during the warmer months. Maybe he could shoot at the giant? No, that'd just be silly.. Or...


With no time to do anything else, Timmy figured that playing dead would be better than bein' spotted and being actually dead. He didn't make a peep as the giant ignored him and passed him by. Damn near died of frostbite, though. Only when the storm passed him completely could he sigh in relief and run back to the village.

They'd need a giant warning about this, anyhow!


 Her book was gone.

 The room was a mess, with bestiaries and encyclopedias and paper scattered about. Globes and potion-making sets were knocked aside, ink-wells spilled onto wood, and pet toads were accidently unleashed upon the world as someone flitted from corner to corner, from nooks to crannies, searching for her book. Anyone else who stumbled upon this scene would only see a blur of black and blue as she searched and searched and searched through the big, wooden, two story manor, filled with bookshelves and books, with creatures and plants in glass on every wooden desk,

 She last saw it on her desk. She was reading it. A lovely book about a princess who didn't like the Princes' that were trying to charm her only for a piece of her kingdom, and learned magic from a witch and hexed the hell out of them, and hired dragons for bodyguards so that only a Prince who loved her for her would possibly ever win her heart. Girl has a good head on her shoulders. Everybody should have dragon bodyguards!

 Why, she did extensive research on the nature of dragons, what with their elemental breaths and tendency to hoard various items of value. Some say that they're just being greedy, but she found out that for most with more unusual hoards, it was a way of collecting things they liked using and relieving stress. One collected blankets, for example, and-

 Wait, what was she doing, thinking about her own research? Where was book? Where was her stinkin book?!? All she did was take a nap and then bam, it was gone! Did she misplace it? No, she was usually way too organized for that. So that means someone stole it. Who in the bloody hell steals a book? Did they just forget that borrowing and asking and buying is actually a thing?! For cripes sake, there are delivery systems using rocs to ship books from anywhere in the lands!

 Wait a minute. She did know one person. Her eyes narrowed into a glare as she heard the familiar, frantic yelling outside. She flitted from her extensive library to a rack of wands, where she plucked out one with a ruby tip, and marched towards the door. Oh, she knew this thief well, and once he got here to lie about zombie invasions, he was going to get it.

 The door swung open as a man, clad in leather and as white as snow, screamed, "Giants! There are Gian-"

 WHAM. That wand slammed right into his poor noggin, knocking him onto his feet and leaving him at the mercy of a witch scorned.

 "TIIIIIMMOTHYYYYYYYYYYYY!" she yelled. "You took my book again, didn't you?! I swear, if you don't give it back-"

 "Wh-what?" he stammered, realizing he picked a really bad time to inform the village witch about the threat outside. "I didn't steal nuthin, ya know! Nuthin, I tell ya!"

 "So you did steal something."

 He did not like the way that wand was glowing red. "I-I mean I didn't take anything this time! Scout's honor! 'Sides, we got bigger problems than books, ya know!"

 "Bigger problems?" The witch took a deep breath before letting it all out and putting her wand at her side. "Sorry, I'm just really miffed that my new favorite book is missing all of a sudden, and I searched top to bottom with no sign of it anywhere! But what's up? What can the great Aurora do for you?"

 As Aurora conjured up a chair or two with a wave of her wand, Timmy took a seat, trembling like he was in the middle of an earthquake. "Well, lemme ask ya this, Rory-"

 "Don't call me Rory!" she hissed, flinching as he spoke the name.

 "Er, Aurora... Yeah, anyway, how much do ya know about giants?"

 The witch tilted her head a little to the side before digging through her piles of beastiaries. Timmy could only wait until she had finished her cursory glances at their indices and sat back down, disheartened. "Not much," she admitted with a sigh, "since none of the books I have say anything about them." Her eyes widened for a moment before she turned to her friend and asked, "Why? Did you see one?"

 Timmy gulped, trembling again as he answered, "I did! I saw it with my own two eyes! Big ol' giant, comin' through in the storm while I was huntin' rabbits! Scared me half to death, with its ol' THUMPin' and all!" Aurora could see him turn several shades whiter as he continued, "It went up to that lil' hill you like goin' to fer some peace and quiet durin' warmer months, I think. But what if... what if it comes down 'ere and causes a ruckus? I don't think we got the manpower to handle a giant! And if you don't even know how to handle one-"

 Aurora puffed up her cheeks in indignation and crossed her arms. "If I don't know now, I can certainly find out, you know!" she said, gathering little knicknacks and scrolls for spells that she thought might be useful through the many books labeled with her name. It took a while, due to the how big her library really was!

 "Yeah, yeah, best at magic and all that hokey pokey. But I hear giants are dangerous, and they'll eat ya right up and-"

 Timmy stopped when the witch looked unimpressed. "I heard the same thing about dragons, and guess what happened? I proved them wrong: Dragons only eat people when people wreck the ecosystem and leave them with nothing to eat but people. They prefer stuff like cows and chickens and stuff. So I'll smash those misconceptions to bits, or else my name isn't Aurora Frost!"

 Before Timmy could argue that line of thought, the witch was out the door, with a knapsack full of scrolls and her trusty wand at her side.


 It was easy enough to remember the path to the hill. After all, it about a few miles north from her house! Wasn't it an exhausting walk? Sort of, but it was worth it! In the spring, the hill was alive with herbs and flowers of all kinds, a perfect place to look down on the town below and enjoy the sights. It was also quiet enough to read and write without anybody disturbing her. Naps were never so peaceful until she found out she could nap here under the starry night sky!

 Of course, wintertime was a different story. The sights were still as beautiful as ever, but now she had to trek through snow to get there. As she got closer, a storm seemed to pick up, and the last thing she wanted was to get frostbite. Aurora took a break from her trek to pull out a few reagents from her bag: a fiery weed and a little glass sphere. She whispered an incantation as if she were merely talking to an invisible friend, and both of them fused and expanded around her, making a barrier that shut out the cold and made her feel nice and toasty.

  The storm intensified as she continued her travel, becoming worse and worse until she finally got to the hill, where she could hardly see anything beyond her barrier. "A full blown blizzard? Here?" she asked no one in particular. "It's hardly snowing down near home, why is a blizzard over here?"

 When she nearly reached the top, she could see a figure sitting down where she usually sat on the hill, through the flurry of snow falling from the skies. Aurora had to get really, really close to see it for what it actually was: Someone several her size, with a bright knitted cap covering his head, a bright scarf fitted around his neck, and a thick, white coat protecting him from the snow. Were those layers, too? He looked a little heavy set, but regardless, Aurora was certain she had found that Timmy had feared: the giant of the snow.

 Aurora's heart thumped hard against her chest, nervous and excited about this discovery. Giants did exist after all, and she could be the first one to study them! But was she really the first? What if all the others were actually eaten before they could study them? What if this particular giant wasn't fond of being studied? The possibilities of sharing the knowledge among others, though! The possibility of showing that maybe, just maybe, everybody was wrong about them!

 How could she even approach him, though? Maybe with a bribe? Or maybe like a normal person? "Hey, how's it going?" No, no, that sounds goofy and weird and argh, what to do?

  Standing around wouldn't help either way. So just walk up to him... Yep, one foot right in front of the other... Stiff as a board, but it would do. Her heart beat faster and faster as she got closer and closer to the giant, glad that her shield protected her from the worst of the blizzard.

 The giant didn't notice her approach. Maybe the blizzard masked the sound of her footsteps? Either way, it was time to get  permission. You don't just study things without their permission, after all! Well, if they could give permission, anyway. Aurora took a deep breath to try to calm her nerves, and opened up her mouth...


 The giant turned his head towards her, his eyes meeting hers. Oh, my, what a brilliant shade of blue they were! They were on a giant, though, and a giant looking down on you didn't always inspire feelings of love and awe. Nervousness washed over the young witch as she opened her mouth to try to speak again, only for nothing to come out.

Come on, she chided herself in her thoughts, there's no time to waste! Say something, anything at all! You got his- or maybe it's a her? You got their attention, now actually ASK.

Even with the self-encouragement, it took her a minute or two to actually stammer out, "M-may I... May I take your m-m-measurements, p-please?"

 That stare the giant was giving her was not inspiring confidence at all. In fact, Aurora was almost certain she messed up. He just kept staring and... gods above, what if he didn't understand her at all? Did giants have a completely different language they understood? Oh no, in that case, she would be doomed from the-

 He stood up to his full height, towering above the little witch. Aurora blinked. So he... he did understand her? Or was he just standing up to stretch? The giant tilted his head to the side after a few moments. Was he confused? Was he actually waiting for her to take measurements?

 Well, it would have been rude to keep him waiting, so Aurora took out her wand and waved it around, conjuring some measuring tape and, with another flick of the wand, using it to measure just how tall the giant was. "30.5 feet tall, counting hat..." she said aloud, looking carefully at the numbers and taking out a notebook and pen to scribble everything down.

 The tape moved down to his feet and straightened itself up as the witch continued, "Foot size, about three feet, a foot across... Legs not terribly long, big hands, chubby cheeks, blue eyes, wears mittens and a scarf and a hat, hair color unkno-" She scribbled it out as the giant politely took off his hat, revealing his unruly, black hair. "Nope, as black as my witchy robes!"

 Excitement coursed through her veins as Aurora continued taking notes and motioned for the giant to put his hat back on, if he wanted. "Now, can you talk?" she asked. "It'd be a whole lot easier to get all the details on your diet and way of living and all!"

 She was soon glad that she didn't blink; otherwise, she would have missed the giant flinching and taking a teeeeeny step back. He looked down on his feet before nodding slowly, shuffling uncomfortably in place. The blizzard howled around them, the snow starting to reach Aurora's hips.

 In those few moments, she learned a few things: One, the giant seemed to understand her. Two, the blizzard maaay be connected to him, considering how the storm got worse the closer she got to him. And finally, she learned that the giant was docile, not as fearsome as everybody seemed to portray them. In fact, it almost looked like he was afraid of her, with the way he seemed to stare at her. Like a cat trapped in a corner by a mouse...

 Aurora approached the giant slowly, holding out her hand towards him. He took another step back, a tiny whimper escaping his lips. "It's okay," she said in a soft, gentle voice, taking small steps towards him. "I won't hurt you or run away from you or anything. I'm not here to hurt you..."

The giant stopped moving back, but that frightened look was still on his face. She continued to approach him until she was right next to him, holding her hand up towards his. "See? I just want to hold your hand. And take you someplace a lot warmer than this hill, Is that okay?"

 She watched as the giant considered her words, the fearful expression replaced by one of surprise. She kept her hand up until the giant took her hand in his, with a gentleness that surprised even her! The blizzard died down to just a shower of flurries, and she could feel the tension ebbing away from his hand.

 "See? Not so bad, is it?" she asked him. "Let me take you to my house, and we can talk- er, well, I can talk- over tea and brownies!"

 Aurora, happy as a dragon with a hoard of stuffed bears, gladly led the way back home, not minding the THUMP, THUMP, THUMP of the giant's footsteps, excited to share her life with someone she just met.

 A friend.

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