”I’m getting tired of the giants,” Rennard said. “Not the ‘oh, they’re annoying, but we can persevere’ type of annoyance that you milksops show every day. It’s reaching a goddamn breaking point. We have to do something.” To be insulted by Rennard didn’t mean much; it would rather be impressive if a minute passed without anyone’s character suffering an attack. Milton and Henry, his two closest friends, knew this well enough.
“I’ll pretend you’re not just venting and being angry,” Milton said. “If you’re serious, what can we even do?” The three walked through the path in the woods back to the village, having just loitered by the river two miles away.
“I know they’re not torturing us left and right like they did long ago,” Rennard said, “but it’s the little things they constantly get away with, that they’ve gotten used to doing. If you grew up in my family farm, you’d know. Up in Hoddlestone, giant children would just come over from their village and do whatever they wanted, trample over our fences and crops, ruin the terrain, hang around like it was their home.”
“But you said we have to do something. What is there we can do?”
Rennard went ahead of them and walked backwards, facing them, smacking his fist into his hand. “We sneak into one of their villages and contaminate their water. I’ve had this planned for a long time.”
Milton facepalmed, then ran the hand up his brown bushy hair. “That’s too much.”
Henry, the bald and short one of of the three, said his first words, “But he’s right, Milton. We’ve got to do something.”
“But not this,” Milton said. “Contaminate their drinking water? That’s too sinister, imagine if they capture us.”
“We’re sixteen years old,” Rennard said. “Barely adults to them, we can easily pass as fourteen to them or something. They’ll throw it off like a bunch of children’s innocent prank. Do you know the damage they do to our places, constantly?”
Milton sighed. “I’m not saying they’re right in what they do and that your complaints are unfounded. I’m just telling you how it will pan out. They win the argument in the end. We’re inferior, they’re superior, that’s how this relationship works.”
“Spoken like a milksop,” Rennard said, waving him away and facing straight again. “Come on, Henry, you see clear sometimes, take my side here and talk some sense into him.”
“Both of you have a point.” Henry pointed one hand towards Milton. “Contaminating their water is too much, you’re right.” He shifted it to Rennard. “But yes, we’re not that inferior, not with our magic. And, we can do something, but it doesn’t have to be contaminating their water.”
“Listen to us,” Milton said, “this is why they call us children. Talking about going to a giant village and hit back as it’s the same as stealing apples from Hanchie’s orchard.”
Rennard shook his head and grumbled a few more complaints. The skies were sunny and cloudless, a late midday at the end of spring. The trees had always swayed in the light breeze, but something came over them to the north, an unusual harshness that made it seem as if a storm spawned out of nowhere and tore through the trees.
“Do you hear that?” Henry said, all of them turning north. Henry stepped off the path, peering through the trees and bushes.
“Right there,” Milton and Rennard said, still on the path with a different angle into the woods. And they saw it charging to them. A pale pair of legs and feet stomping through the woods. She wore a yellow frock to her knees, her hair white-blonde and tied into a braid whipping behind her. The ground shook, leaves and branches falling to her body. She showed no signs of stopping.
“Run!” Milton shouted. He and Rennard jumped aside as her figure raced overhead, and for a moment they were under shadow. Wind from her closest step buffeted their clothes, cracking the earth. She crossed the road and surged through the trees on the other side, her thunderous presence fading into the woods.
“Oh boy,” Milton said, rising up and dusting his trousers off. “I thought she was targeting us. She looked sad.” He saw Rennard, who scowled at the giant’s direction. “Hey, where’s Henry?” Down and up the path, and as far as he could see past the trees and bushes, Henry didn’t show up. “Did she kick him away?”
“She didn’t kick,” Rennard said, gesturing at her footprint on the road. They’d seen hundreds of these footprints in their lives, the toes, the ball of her foot, the line along the outside, the little bit of untouched ground under the arch and the heel imprint were all what they knew. However, a deeper print was now within it, a person’s body. They followed the footprints, the left one normal, and the right one again with a body under it within the woods. “Looks like he’s stuck under her foot.”