Mun and the Giant
The almost invisible line floating above the glass-smooth water suddenly tensed and jumped, the dark pole it was attached to bent and quivered as something on the other end fought like mad to escape.
“Caught yourself a giant,” Mun commented to his companion, who lay at the foot of a tree on the pond’s bank with his double-horned, fur-lined helmet angled down over his eyes, arms crossed over the stained leather vest wrapping his slowly rising-and-falling chest.
His companion grunted and shifted his buttocks, but did nothing about the bent, jerking pole at his feet, propped stiffly and held in place between stacked rocks along the shoreline.
“Are you going to get that,” Mun asked, exasperated, arching a dark eyebrow.
“Isn’t supper. Just a giant,” his companion muttered and rolled over on his side, nestling fetal-like into the roots of the twisting tree, back turned to Mun in an obvious gesture of dismissal.
Mun softly swore an oath to the ancestors and braced his feet on the rocks before reaching down to grab the dark pole. Landing a giant would be hard, but might be worth it. The Khan might even reward him for pulling one in, if he decided to share it and not just devour it himself. Of course, the Khan might kill him if he held back on catching a giant and didn’t share. There was no telling with the Khan.
Sitting back down, Mun planted the butt of the pole in the mud at his feet and wrapped the soft leather of his booted feet around the end to brace, struggling with the as-yet-unseen catch.
The other end of the pole bent in a graceful-but-severe downward arc; the taut line writhed frantically and threw tiny ripples across the glassy water where it parted the surface, making reflected clouds dance in the blue mirror.
Sweat stood out on Mun’s weathered, coppery brow as he pulled against the might of the giant on the end of the line. He tugged the line up slowly, lips parted wide to reveal gritted white teeth between the twin strands that made up his long black mustache. Somewhere in the distance on the steppe, the wheeling silhouette of a red-tailed hawk screamed at the empty sky.
The giant came to the surface with a splash, its head thrashing spastically around so that the water broke and rolled around the glowing leviathan’s mass and droplets flew from the thick, wild strands of its hair. Mun struggled against the fighting giant as it pulled on the tiny line with its massive hands and tried to dislodge the painful metal hook.
As the fight continued, drenching waves surged across the shore of the tiny pond, soaking Mun through his leather and furs, and the giant turned a baleful green eye full of phosphorescent occult promises on Mun.
The stocky little man heaved on the line again and dragged the giant skyward and away from the pond, lifting the unbelievable bulk of the thing out of the pond. It stumbled up out of the depths, pulled by the thin line and hook, eldritch lights whirling around and through its transparent mass like will-o-wisps dancing to lightning-lit rolls of thunder in a dark sky. Then, with one last surge of strength through his wiry muscles, Mun hauled back on the pole and brought the giant crashing down to its knees before him on the muddy shore of the pond.
He abandoned the pole and grabbed a strand of the giant’s wild hair, using it to bring the giant’s head crashing down against the rocks. Quickly, Mun drew his sturdy, thick-bladed saber and struck the giant with the blunt edge on the back of its skull once, then twice, until it stopped moving.
It collapsed and sent a final surge of waves across the surface of the pond. Mun dragged it the rest of the way out of the sloshing water and worked the tiny hook loose from where it had lodged in a stony crack of one of one of the giant’s boulder-sized teeth. He finally pried it out, then stuffed the bulk of the glowing, crackling giant into a small, tooled leather satchel lying nearby. Behind him, the pond’s surface slowly returned to flat stillness.
“’Ya get it?” his companion queried, turned back over to inspect Mun with one dark, slanted eye open, having obviously watched the whole thing, never lifting a finger.
“Yeah,” Mun answered and sat back down in the mud, watching his satchel twitch for a moment until he hit it with a rock and stilled all further movement.
“Hope we catch some fish, too,” his companion grumbled, then rolled back over, eyes closed, saying something about hunger that was muffled and lost among the twisted roots and muddy rocks.
Mun grunted his assent and grabbed the rod, quickly snagging some new bait on the hook and casting it back out over the pond, watching the almost invisible line floating above the glass-smooth reflection of the sky.
Copyright (c)2006 Raven Daegmorgan