Heli crossed over a pass and descended down an old, worn path that wound its way down the mountainside. He came to a high mountain lake and he took the arrows off his back and the bow from his chest. As night drew nearer he collected some small pieces of wood that were lying on the ground and made a small fire. Once the fire was kindled it began to glow with a dim orange light, it was by this light that Heli saw his dinner drinking by the lake. The chamois was blissfully unaware of Heli as he took an arrow from the quiver, set it up on the bow and drew it back. Just as he slowed his breath ready to make the kill, a sharp noise behind him caused him to turn and release the readied arrow from its position.
The arrow flew a few meters through the air before it lodged itself solidly into a large lump of flesh. The lump of flesh turned out to be a leg that was attached to a 24ft Giant who towered above him. Heli looked up in astonishment at the Giant as it began to fall towards him. Before Heli could react he was engulfed in darkness, very much alive and unharmed, above him he heard muffled shrieks and cries that echoed through the sky. These voices he knew well, as the voices of dragons. The flight of dragons moved overhead and Heli listened in awe, he had never known more than two dragons to move together yet a flight making this much noise could easily include up to fifteen dragons or more.
The Giant's hand that Heli was currently underneath lifted revealing the clear, dragon free sky above. Heli immediately looked towards the Northern horizon and saw in the distance the faint outline of the dragons, the flight was densely packed and contained almost twenty dragons. Coming back to his senses and realising what had just happened, Heli turned and fixed his attention to the Giant sitting on the grass. The Giant carefully removed the arrow from its leg before it looked at Heli and held the arrow out towards him.
"I believe this is yours," It said in the language that Heli could understand. Its voice was low and it filled the air when it spoke. Heli cautiously took the arrow from its hand and the Giant stood, walking away. Heli paused watching the Giant for a moment before he spoke,
"Wait!" Heli shouted quickly gathering up his bow and arrows, "Please, wait! Who are you? Where are you going?" The Giant kept walking despite hearing Helis' cries. "Where are the dragons going?" Heli continued, curiosity getting the better of him. He stopped running and watched the Giant continue its course. "Please, I want answers," Heli said, not knowing if the Giant could hear him. From a distance, he watched as the Giant sat again and washed its leg. After a moment the Giant stood and called in a voice that shook the earth,
"Come," Upon hearing the Giants' cry Heli ran across the land. Heli reached the cave where the Giant now rested, a fire blazing in the centre. Heli came slowly into the cave, and he calmed his breathing before he sat by the fire facing the Giant.
"Where were they going? The dragons," Heli asked after a moment.
"North," The Giant responded, its voice shook the walls of the cave, "Where snow is on the mountains all year round."
"Why?" Heli continued.
"Because Giants don't roam there. Up there dragons are the dominating predator, nothing attacks them." The Giant answered.
"I thought Giants roamed far and wide across the Rhern mountains, to the western coast of Regad, the southern Grucu tribes of Jordfald and to the farmlands of East Eoida."
"We roam all across the mountains, or we did. Many of my kind lived in the lands where the dragons now roam freely."
"What happened to them?"
"Men from the North," The Giant's voice became serious and sour, "They came in ships, landing on the coast of Regad and entering the mountains unnoticed. They hid from the dragons and from us as just as we are dragon hunters, the men were hunting Giants. They attacked us with bullets and nets, taking us as slaves on their ships to the Northern Territories. We don't know to this day what happened to the Giants that the men took away. No Giant has ever returned from those lands. Not even my father."
"So you fled," Heli said slowly after a moment and the Giant nodded.
"My mother, myself and any others that remained. We fled south and east warning all those who we met along the way about of the dangers in the North. Many of us were taken in by other groups and our group slowly decreased in number until only four of us remained. We settled in south Jordfald as it was there that I grew up and it helped numb the pain of my father's almost certain death."
"I'm sorry," Heli said, setting down his bow and arrows and speaking too in a softer tone. He moved closer to the fire and put his hands out over it. He then looked up, into Giant's eyes, "It wasn't us, please understand that. The men of the North are rotten, corrupted and foul as deemed so by all those in the good nations of Kunaya. Those who venture there, go into great peril and are not expected to return."
"You sound like you know loss," The Giant said matching his gaze.
"Not personally," Heli replied. "But I know many tales. I know many families who have sought refuge in our village to escape such sorrows of losing a loved one to death or worse."
"I am known by all who know me as Bertrum."
"And I am known as Heli."
"A good honest name of the mountains. A climber."
"Indeed, I know the rock well and the heat of the fire. Yet I have never been in the presence of a Giant."
"Nor have I been in the company of a human. It is a historic day for both of us."
"That it is, and it is also one for the people in my village, as not one of us has ever met a Giant. I am thankful that I may be the first," Heli said as he bowed his head.
"I accept your greeting and return it," Bertrum replied, he too bowing his head.
"I do apologise about the arrow earlier."
"I have been shot by things far worse than arrows, though the fire you made was proper with a red hot core."
"Why did you cover me?"
"Dragons are deadly indeed, they make fierce predators with razor sharp teeth, precise vision and dangerously sharp claws. This is also what makes them hard to catch and indeed eat at times."
"I can handle myself. I have grown up in the mountains and I know how to avoid them."
"By making an open-air fire?" Bertrum questioned him. "Against one dragon you may have stood a chance but to survive against a flight of 20 dragons? Not even I would take on a flight that large. These dragons would have flown miles and they are dangerously cunning creatures." Bertrum looked up and saw Heli staring at him intently. "You believe dragons hunt at night and hide away during the day." Heli nodded sure of this statement, "No." Bertrum asserted simply. "They hunt in the day and move around at night. Dragons never stay too long in one place. We hunt them as they hunt other prey."
"But if they hunt during the day..." Heli began.
"Yes," Bertrum said answering his line of thought. "You are in much more danger than you know but despite the dragons best efforts you are cleverer than them, you are cautious hunters even in the day. You hunt on rock and dragons can't catch you when you are on the cliffs."
"So you watch us then?"
"Yes, we do."
"Won't you ever reveal yourselves?"
"There is no benefit for us, and although we know you are not the men of the North we keep our distance. We cause you no harm in the hope that none is returned."
"But the dragons, you must know they eat us?"
"We do, of course, but you forget. We hunt them as they hunt you. You rarely see dragons in the day because we hunt to them before you even know that they were there at all."
"This is far beyond anything I could have comprehended myself."
"You do not come looking for us, and we give you no reason to try. Our kind would very much like it to stay that way," Bertrum lay down on the cave floor.
"Thank you," Heli said softly, "I will not reveal the truth in this to my people, for both our species."
"You are wise and may sleep in safety here tonight." Bertrum closed his eyes and Heli stayed awake a little longer staring into the fire.
Morning brought light into the cave and Heli opened his eyes, he heard bird song and the soft crackling of the fires' ashes. As he looked around the cave he noticed that the fire had burned down to a small pile of ash and Bertrum was gone. Heli got up and left the cave where he saw Bertrum looking into the Northern horizon.
"You're heading North to the great fields of dragons," Heli called.
"Yes," Came Berturm, "Like many of my kind I head North, as I suspect the men of the North have been pushed away in fear from the dragons. So we head North to feast and draw the dragons south again. Once that is done we shall return south ourselves before the men return and take more Giants away."
"What if the men are not afraid and you are caught?"
"I have no choice. Dragons are leaving the southern and eastern lands in their masses, which leaves our food supplies diminished."
"How long will it take you to get there?"
"Around 5 days, but I am weary."
"When was the last time you ate?"
"2 days ago. So, therefore, I must continue my journey and find food before I lose all my strength."
"There is a dragon near our village. I saw it last crawling into a cave the night before last, it should still be in the area. With the new information you told me yesterday it shouldn't be too hard to find," Heli paused waiting for Bertrum's answer.
"I shall come," Bertrum answered after a few moments, "I have only seen your village once and that was from afar. Show me the way and I shall follow. Then I shall hunt this dragon."
"It would be my honour," Heli replied. He strung the bow back around his chest and began leading them back to his village, Seu.
They came to the valley head. Seu could be seen with its wooden huts joined together by decking, all balanced carefully on stilts of the water of the lake.
"Your village is truly beautiful, I wonder how you can live in safety just above the water's surface. You are such curious creatures," Bertrum commented and turned to Heli. "Here I will leave you to do what you will, and I will go hunt this dragon that you speak of."
"I will hunt as I usually do in the mountains, and from the cliff walls I will watch your movements," Heli replied. "But come before we hunt let us talk briefly of the Northern land. This is a rare opportunity and together we could do something to stop the evil which lies there."
"The land of the North is strong," Bertrum began, his voice cold. "We are but two creatures of this land, and I doubt that our strength matches that of an entire army."
"We do not need an army, nor am I talking about going to fight the men of the North. Here and now we could continue to build this relationship. This needs not be the last time we set eyes on each other. One day men and Giants could walk side by side into battle. We could be the ones to start the long road towards that day. Let us continue this relationship while I communicate with my people and you to yours."
"I commend your foresight and planning Heli. This day will not come soon and let us hope that it is not needed at all. However, you have my agreement and my word that we shall speak again and that all I meet shall hear of this encounter."
"Thank you, Bertrum. I look forward to the day when we will speak once more; however, for now, it will be an honour to watch how a Giant hunts his prey."
"As you will Heli. Until we shall next speak." Bertrum said bowing to him then turning, beginning the hunt.
Heli walked to a cliff's base and with bare hands and solid boots he started to climb. The high friction granite was a haven for his hands, allowing him to use the flat rock as holds and climb otherwise impossible routes. Once he was high enough, Heli hung out from the mountain and looked out over the meadow and the mountains beyond. After a few moments of silence, Heli spotted movement only inches below him. He looked down and brought himself back into the cliff, focusing his eyes on the rock that had just moved. He saw a puff of cold air and he froze. He realised the rock was, in fact, a dragon with its scales a beautiful grey colour that disguised it against the cliff. The dragon was vertical on the rock staring straight downwards. Looking down Heli saw a figure in the meadow, a figure that began to run as the dragon dived on its prey.