Giantkin History is an Official GemStone IV Document, and it is protected from editing.
- 1 I. Origins & Locations
- 2 II. The Second Age
- 3 III. Maelshyve to Kragsfell
- 4 IV. Events / Recent History
- 5 V. Miscellaneous
I. Origins & Locations
The lineage of giant folk has always been in question. Some believe that giantkin were created by the Arkati to become their servants. Others believe that giantkin came about as a matter of interbreeding species with various giants. This theory is most popular when trying to divine the origins of the Wsalamir clan - many believe the first Wsalamir were the product of a human and a frost giant. Unfortunately, the giantfolk oral histories that covered origin have long since been forgotten or untold, and the cave paintings which tell the tale can no longer be found. Until either is relocated, the exact origin to the giant folk will be unknown.
Ever since the first Chieftain Kiremgrea banded the T'Kirem Bear Clan together, they have resided on the southeastern edge of the DragonSpine range. Dwelling in the crook of the mountains directly west of the ruins of ShadowGuard granted them privacy and easy migration between plain and mountain for seasonal travel. This also kept them within a month or two of a city, should they have need of supplies not available in their wanderings. The Bear Clan only breeds warriors, with the occasional ranger or rogue exception. Giantkin displaying other aptitudes are invited to find a different clan with which to live.
Under the leadership of their first Chieftain, Baklarin, the Grishknel Wolf Clan broke off from the stomping grounds of the T'Kirem clan and moved to the southernmost tip of the DragonSpine range. They chose this area because it kept them reasonably close to their parent clan while granting space, placed them next to water for faster and easier coastal travel, and moved them closer to Ta'Nalfein for the trading of information. The Wolf Clan specializes in stealth and mechanical aptitude, thus giving rogues precedence in its ranks. Others displaying the proper skills of hiding & stalking are allowed, but it is no secret that rogues are the favored class here.
The Wsalamir Arctic Clan lives far to the north, in the heart of the frozen DragonSpine Mountains roughly a month's travel northeast from Icemule Trace. Why their first Chieftain Aemarlantea chose this area for their home is unknown, although some speculate that it has to do with the clan's banders being one-half frost giant. It is here that ninety-five percent of them reside today, with the other five percent never wandering much further from their icy home than Icemule Trace or Pinefar.
Traveling in small bands, or kegritsha, the Issimir Ogre Clan spans the widest geographic area of all the giantman clans. There are kegritsha of Ogre Clan giants in many of the major cities all over Elanthia, including Icemule Trace, Solhaven, River's Rest, and Ta'Nalfein. The band that inhabited Wehnimer's Landing left several years ago with no explanation, although other Ogre Clan members cite they were experiencing frustration at an unstable economy and overcrowding. The first clan leader, Issimir, is rumored to be buried where he would have been the happiest - somewhere under a bank.
Covering the entire continent, the Araime Sun Clan likes to live wherever the sun warms the ground below them. Their favorite places, however, seem to be Solhaven and River's Rest. They banded under the guidance and wisdom of Araime, who was discontent living under the stipulations of the Bear Clan. Taking those who would accept change with grace and love all living things, they parted peacefully and began to wander the plains. The name Araime was taken from the first chieftain's surname, Fahnamor Araime, as an honor to him and his line for taking the first steps in a new direction.
The Wind Runners originated as a branch of the Sun Clan, fixating on one concept of their recent departure from the constant warlike stance of the Bear Clan. They believe that freedom is the most important thing in the world: personal freedom to do as one pleases, should it not harm another. To this end, they roam the continent, looking for injustices done to others and offer assistance to right them. In the event their offer is not taken, they typically tend to quietly resolve the matter in their own fashion. The Wind Runners were banded and formed under the leadership of Rajin Maeramil, who recently died in a conflict with the Krolvin.
The Grot'karesh Hammer Clan have placed themselves in the most defensible part of the Southron Wastes. Their fortress city, Kilanirij, sits perched on the side of a large mountain south of Tamzyrr and west of the new Ta'Faendryl. The Hammer Clan has made a science of magical fortification here, strong enough that the city walls give a wispy, dark blue glow at night. Construction on the city began shortly after the first group of giantkin was exiled from their clans. Their chieftain, Samarak the Grim, wished to keep the ruins of Maelshyve in view via magic, so they would have the first warning on the coming of the Second Age of Chaos.
II. The Second Age
The Grishknel Wolf Clan
During the Second Age, the giantkin of the T'Kirem Bear clan spent much of their time battling each others' tribes. The northern tribes of the clan would migrate south, following their whim or their livestock, and meet up with their southern clan-mates for a seasonal battle. The victors primarily got bragging rights only, but in the event there was a real dispute to be hammered out between the two tribes, it would be settled at these skirmishes.
This period of skill honing lasted roughly a millennium (the giantkin oral histories reference a time of 15 generations worth of friendly battle). This was stopped for a short time by the splitting of the T'Kirem into a new clan - the Grishknel Wolf Clan. Their first chieftain, Baklarin, felt it unnecessary to go rushing headlong into each skirmish, and wanted to try to use subtlety and ambush for a victory. The chieftain of T'Kirem thought this was dishonorable and lacked courage, and threatened to banish Baklarin from the clan if the subject ever came up again. Baklarin took this to heart, and asked all that would embrace his way to join him. The Bear Clan lost about a third of its numbers, and the Grishknel Wolf Clan was born.
The remaining years, up to the Battle of Maelshyve, were spent in even more constant practice for the Bear Clan. They would often go so far as to travel and fight once per season instead of once per herd migration, and the periods of battle would be much longer and more ferocious. The Grishknel, like the Wsalamir, were not invited to join in the practices.
The Grishknel moved south to the tip of the DragonSpine range. They, like the T'Kirem, continued to practice, but not in the same manner. They began to put themselves through rigorous training to become as silent and as deadly as possible without being seen. Baklarin also began a study of traps and of locksmithing, and opened up an avenue of information trade with the elves of Ta'Nalfein. Slowly the Grishknel began to gain the respect of not only the Bear Clan, but the information traders of Ta'Nalfein as well.
The Wsalamir Arctic Clan
The Second Age was a bit more of a trial for the Wsalamir Arctic Clan. Living far up in the northern part of the DragonSpine range, they often were seen in the company of the wendigo. The nature of their association is unknown at this time, although there is quite a bit of speculation as to the relationship between the two groups. Some speculate that the wendigo are the link between the original giants and their current, more humanoid, form. Others entertain theories that the Wsalamir and the wendigo have come to a kind of friendship in their reverence for nature, and still others wonder how far this friendship has gone behind closed doors.
Whatever their relationship, the Wsalamir were understandably upset when the humans and elves of the north began to hunt the wendigo. They laid traps for the wendigo, killing off all the game in an area to force them into the open to search for food. Once the wendigo was in the open, the hunters generally used bows to kill them, many being too afraid to get close to one unless it was dead.
Unfortunately, with a few other wendigo kills to his name, one hunter named Templeton Mannelig got particularly bold and managed to trap one and drag it back to his village alive. There they toyed with it and tortured it, trying to find out more about its species and fellows back in the mountains. Soon the wendigo tired, and lost patience with the humans abusing it. It lifted back its head and bellowed, a howl of frustration and anger lifting into the night air. The sound echoed off the buildings and the valley, into the mountain peaks where some of the other wendigo waited his return. Guessing at the situation, a few of them gathered just outside the valley where the town lay. They formed a circle and joined hands, then also tilted their heads back and howled, answering him. Some instinct buried deep in human nature understood this cry, and those assembled in the village below began to stir, becoming afraid. They told the hunter to release the wendigo, but he said he could take many more of this kind, and killed his captive. The waiting wendigo howled once more, then threw their arms up to the sky and began to chant.
A thick fog settled over the village and the inhabitants began to seek shelter, screaming at things in the depth of the haze. The cries were slowly replaced with a low chattering, then silence, and then the rhythmic sound of hammers smashing ice. When the fog lifted the next day, the village was coated in pieces of frozen and defrosted villager. The center of the hamlet had a burial mound, with the frozen head of the hunter upon it as a macabre headstone.
The surrounding villages found this horrifying. They quickly mobilized small groups, armed with bows, to search and destroy any wendigo - and Wsalamir Clan giantkin. They thought the Wsalamir taught the wendigo the powerful ice magic, and blamed them as much as the wendigo who destroyed the village.
The hunt for the Arctic Clan and their wendigo totem lasted just over a century. During this time, dozens of hunting groups died, the final body count in the hundreds. Some Grishknel scouts ended the hunt. They arranged a truce with the self-proclaimed leader of the province up there, and he called the war off the next day. Those that hunted the Wsalamir Arctic Clan or their totem, the wendigo, were subject to a punishment of the ruler's whim. Only once was this tested - the ruler turned the offender over to the wendigo with no further comment. The offender was never seen or heard from again. The official retired from the public eye shortly thereafter, amidst rumor of secret midnight meetings with the Grishknel scouts, silver exchanging hands, and the unusual disappearance of his daughter.
While lasting only a short time compared to most historical standards, the Arctic Clan became even more isolationist after this series of incidents. They are rarely seen outside the hunting grounds of their home, but when they are it is occasionally with the mysterious wendigo.
III. Maelshyve to Kragsfell
Part I: Maelshyve
Maelshyve was a huge turning point for the giantkin as well as the elves. The Battle of Maelshyve not only drove the clans to divide further and into more diverse groups, but the result of that division helped the giantkin to finally create their own written language and become solidified in the worlds of trade and protection.
All existing clans of giantkin assisted in the assault on Maelshyve. Warmaster T'Syrinal directed the efforts of the T'Kirem Bear Clan via chieftain Geramik, the Grishknel Wolf Clan via chieftain Bolerak, and the small group of warriors sent from the Wsalamir Arctic Clan led by warrior Eahnimaki.
Geramik would take nothing less than the front line of battle, so the Warmaster ordered him there to have his men break the front line. Bolerak took his clansmen and flanked the men of the Bear clan, firing volley after volley of arrows into the enemy ranks. Eahnimaki and his small band were so skilled they gave support to the first two, moving to wherever the battle raged thickest and turned the tide.
The release of the banshees was devastating to the front line, giantkin included. As in any battle, there were moments of bravery and courage, but in general the screams of the banshee and the dying ruled the field at that moment. All of the Wsalamir but three died defending the front line and the Grishknel archers to the sides. The Grishknel, knowing this was far too much for them to handle, accepted the sacrifice the Wsalamir made and slipped off into the shadows, not to be seen at the battlefield again. The T'Kirem, following Geramik to the last, charged into the banshee lines and died, taking an equal number of the creatures with them. In the end, though, the wails of the banshee won out and the remaining soldiers were forced to retreat. It was at that moment that the Faendryl chose to unleash their new magic.
The three Wsalamir warriors were nearly all that remained at the battlefield of the giantkin forces. They were the warriors leading the Arctic Clan force, Eahnimaki, and his two cousins, Kantoran and Mishka. Each had sustained many injuries, although these seemed to be healing at an abnormally rapid rate. Seeing the elves fall back into infighting and unrest immediately after the battle, the three Wsalamir left them to their bickering and returned home.
Unfortunately, of those three, Eahnimaki was the only one to return to his clan well. Mishka had sustained a strangely unhealing wound that continually festered and rotted in her leg, and Eahnimaki frequently carried her. In later years, he went on to be a great leader of the Wsalamir Clan.
Mishka's wound never healed. It continued to rot, causing her horrible pain and releasing its toxins into the rest of her body. Whether it was these poisons, the constant pain she was in, or the magics she had been exposed to that drove her insane, no one is certain. Mishka's sanity slowly slipped away, and nothing her Clan did seemed to help. Finally, late one night, she ran off into the mountains. She was never heard from again.
Kantoran was consumed by the violence and blood lust that some other post-Maelshyve warriors were, and was therefore banished to the Southron Wastes until the urges left him. He later became one of the original banding members of the Grot'karesh Clan.
It is rumored that many of the giantkin heroes had their weapons and armor inscribed with the names of Clan members influential in the battle, to have the spirits of those who fell watch over the wearer or wielder of such items and give them strength. However, many of these items cannot be found, or are in the possession of the giantkin Warmaster, the clan chieftains, historians, or museums.
Part II: End of the Age of Chaos
After the Battle of Maelshyve, the remaining warriors returned to their clans and homes. They were greeted as heroes, and many of them went on to either retire from fighting altogether or step up to lead their clans. The end of the Age of Chaos also saw the forming to two clans: the Grot'karesh and the Issimir.
The Issimir Ogre Clan was banded primarily out of a love of silver and a desire to earn more. They also enjoy helping people on occasion, constructing buildings, and guarding their creations, so they decided to put these skills to good use. They aided in carting the dead back to their homelands and burying them. Assisting the rebuilding of the outer Ta'Vaalor wall also gained them work, silver, and respect.
The first chieftain of the clan, Tormala Issimir, made the requirements of kegritsha, tribe, and clan very important in order to keep the clan together over the tests of time. The first level of relation or family is the kegritsha. Translation of this word is difficult, but the concepts it relays are blood-sworn friends or siblings. A kegritsha usually is no larger than 7 or 8 members, with most being 3 or 4 members. For an Issimir to betray their kegritsha is to bring death from the other members: their silver is slowly and systematically stripped from them, their belongings are sold and the silver given to urchins, and their home is burned to the ground. They are then beaten, and in some cases given a crippling poison, then left to die in the most remote spot the kegritsha can find. The next level of organization is the tribe, which is a more loose (but still very binding) organization. Ogre Clan members generally can't betray their tribe without betraying their kegritsha, but it is possible for the kegritsha itself to not heed its tribe. Not following the edict of the chieftain of the Clan, however, usually finds the offending Issimir broken, missing, or both.
Despite these strict family regulations, the Issimir continue to thrive and grow. Several kegritsha do their clan credit by working with the economic councils for several cities. Others work caravan detail, making sure goods or lockers get from one city to the next safely and without incident. Some even opt to take a more proactive stance in lawkeeping by setting up small districts in towns to keep an eye on, making sure the residents are not subject to burglary and wanton destruction. The Issimir are rarely crossed, not only for the positions of power they hold, but the silver they amass and the skills they have make righting a wrong against kegritsha, tribe, or clan rather easy.
The Grot'karesh Hammer Clan banded under the belief that while the first Age of Chaos may be over, Despana is not entirely gone, and with her return there will come another. The people that banded the Hammer Clan were outcasts from T'Kirem and Grishknel Clans. They seemed to have slowly gone mad after the Battle of Maelshyve, becoming more violent, consumed by nightmares, and in some cases totally overcome with a desire to consume blood. This period of "insanity" often lasted a full moon cycle, then slowly lifted. During their madness, they were banished from their Clans. Some died. Most wandered to the Southron Wastes.
Samarak, often referred to as Samarak the Grim, was the first chieftain of the surviving individuals. He banded them all together under the name Grot'karesh Hammer Clan, which translates out to "magically cursed" or "magically haunted" Hammer Clan. Some of the elder elven scholars contend the translation is "Daemon-tainted" but neither side has been proven, and the Hammer Clan offers no illumination on the topic.
Samarak decided to build a fortress city in the Wastes to house all those that were coming to join him in his vigil for the Second Age of Chaos. He decided they should be prepared for the onslaught of Despana's second wave, and they would need a capable structure for the libraries he had planned. Samarak hoped to be able to see Despana's next incarnation when it came, but felt the world, and the Hammer Clan, would not be powerful enough to stop her despite constant practice and preparation. Regardless, he and the other outcasts began construction on Kilanirij - a fortress city on the side of Asharikan Mountain. The walls of Kilanirij are covered in protective, strengthening runes, causing the walls to glow a faint dark blue at night.
The Grot'karesh clan primarily remains behind the walls of their fortress-city, Kilanirij. Some wander the world, studying at various magical academies like the one at Ta'Illistim. Others simply wander, searching for signs that the Second Age is coming so that they might record the knowledge and send it back to the city.
Part III: Sunfist
Approximately 25 generations ago on the peaks of Rockspear mountain, the Highmen Tribe and the Obanmenas (Black Fang) Tribe of the T'Kirem Bear Clan met for their seasonal battle. They climbed to the higher ranges of the mountain, set up their semi-permanent camps, and began the tradition of drinking and tale telling for the first three nights. After that, the seasonal battle would begin.
During the second day of the feasts, dwarves appeared in full battle armor marching over the top of the hill. The two tribes armed themselves, some of the more intoxicated members giggling at the stout little goblins in armor. They found out quickly that these were not bearded goblins, but dwarves. They also found out that they were not nearly so easy to defeat as they first thought.
The battle between the Highmen and Obanmenas tribes and the dwarven contingent lasted the entire summer. After they each realized that neither could kick the other off the mountain, they decided to share ale together and talk. During this time, they not only gained respect for the dwarves, but also forged a pact that would ally the two races. They named the pact for the peak it was signed on: Sunfist.
Part IV: Kragsfell
In the southern part of the DragonSpine mountain range, the Shartenal mountain series has been the home to some of the tribes of the T'Kirem Bear Clan during the fall and winter seasons for hundreds of years. This began to change, however, when an imperial army began to move into the territory for reasons of expansion and conquest.
Four generations before, the Baloran tribe of the T'Kirem Clan had traveled to the western peaks of the Shartenal mountain series as they had for hundreds of years to spend the winter. Their original trek to these peaks was prompted by their herd migration, but later on they moved simply for the change to climate and scenery.
Nearly a month after their arrival this time, however, they were awakened by the tribe scouts near dawn. They had spotted a large horde of armored humans marching into the mountains, fully armed and in formation for battle. Not thinking the humans would come looking for a fight so far up in giantkin land, their Chieftain T'Syranak instructed the tribe to take loose positions about the mountain and waited to see what would come of the visit. As the humans approached they began to open fire with crossbows, announcing their intent. The skirmish that followed lasted two days, with the humans and the Baloran tribe taking even losses. T'Syranak opted to gather more information, sending runners to the nearby Durendine tribe of the Grishknel Clan for scouts. In the meantime, they slowly began to work further back into the range, giving the scouts time to gather information and allowing the imperial army to advance deeper into terrain they were unfamiliar with.
The scouts did what they were sent for, and quietly came to T'Syranak after a few weeks of observing the imperial army. What was discussed is unknown, but the chieftain then made it a point to draw out the battles between the tribe and the opposing force afterward, as well as drawing them deeper into the mountains. The battles were fought on and off over the period of a decade, and the humans were drawn deep into the mountain series to a large mountain called Kragsfell. Here the Baloran tribe made a stand, using the harsh terrain to its fullest advantage. They stopped the imperial army dead in its tracks, and held them to the peaks with little effort. The army decided Kragsfell was good enough for them for the time being, and began to fortify parts of the mountain. Over time, the fortification merged into a fortress, and the humans began to mine the mountains that were not their home.
This period of unrest lasted roughly a century. During this time, the humans established regular travel routes for the ore they hauled from the mines. The keep grew into the defensible Kragsfell Fortress, and the army troops and miners settled within its walls. Unfortunately for the humans, the end of this quiet time was fast upon them.
Yunnag-sihr, now the chieftain of the Baloran tribe, decided that the humans had gotten far too comfortable on the giantkin winter home. It was time to remove them. He called a warparty - a summoning of all giantfolk in the area - to help him to drive the humans from the peaks. With several small packs of scouts from the Grishknel and a kegritsha of thugs from the Issimir, Yunnag-sihr devised his attack on the fortress. At the darkest point of the night, the T'Kirem attacked.
The Grishknel scouts found a ledge of unstable rock several weeks before, and had been quietly digging up to the night of the attack. At the signal from Yunnag-sihr, they pounded hammers on the newly weakened ledge, and broke it at the constructed fault line. Rocks and dirt barreled down the mountain, driving hard into the side of the fortress. The remaining scouts filled the sky over the battlements with arrows, removing many of the sentries posted. As the arrows stopped, the T'Kirem rushed in the breached wall, diving over it screaming for blood. The berserking giantkin ripped into the forming imperial army, forcing them out the front gate in retreat. During this time, the Grishknel moved from their perch above the fortress to the edges of the valley trail. The army abandoned the fortress into the waiting arrows of the Grishknel. They fired until they were out of arrows, the bodies of the skewered and the spilled blood making the valley slick to navigate. The humans retreated, regrouping several miles away in a series of vales the gold ore caravan was supposed to travel through.
The gold ore caravan traveled through the vales, but the humans that were guiding them had been killed and thrown by the wayside. A mile or so into the series of clearings they found the remains of the carts and the drivers. The Issimir kegritsha had their payment for their assistance in setting up the assault and the plans for collapsing the fortress, and had left the melee.
Yunnag-sihr, standing amidst the carnage and destruction of the fortress as the sun rose over the eastern wall, ordered the mines closed and the fortress ripped down. That night began a three decade war between the imperial army and the T'Kirem Clan. The battles raged all over the span of the Shartenal (the humans named it the Highmount range) mountain series, driving the humans steadily back out of the valley.
The primary advance of the giantkin to regain their home came to a slow halt when their leader Yunnag-sihr died twenty years after the assault on Kragsfell. His tribe, as well as all the other members of the clan present, wrapped the body and carried it to the highest of the peaks. There they built a huge pyre and placed him on it, and after a day of chanting his deeds and wishes to the heavens, lit the fire. The flames leapt high into the night air, visible even to some as far away as Tamzyrr. After the ceremony was complete, the tribe acknowledged Krulgon as the new chieftain, having been named such by the late Yunnag. There was a brief induction ceremony and a speech by Krulgon, then the giantkin began down the mountain.
It was at this time the Grishknel scouts left the T'Kirem warparty. They felt that Krulgon was too headstrong, and predicted he would lead the tribe into unnecessarily dangerous situations. Krulgon bade them leave and return home, as he was filled with the triumphs that Yunnag had achieved and the visions of success from his shaman. He told them they would finish the expulsion of the humans on his own, without their shadowy ways.
The warparty re-formed at the base of the peaks and planned the next places they would drive the humans from. The dawn of the next day, they set out to not only push them out of the valley, but from the Shartenal range entirely. Driving the humans toward the foothills went quickly, many of the clashes just skirmishes to test the strength of the horde and their leader it seemed.
After several years of this guerilla-style fighting from the imperial army, the warparty pursued a small group of troops from the imperial army into a clearing later named Wefter's Vale. It was here the imperial army made a stand against the tide of the T'Kirem warparty. General Reminord led his troops to overwhelming victory by nearly surrounding the T'Kirem in the vale. The Battle of Wefter's Vale lasted nearly a full day, but the imperial army took nearly 60% of Krulgon's forces and lost less than a third of their own. The warparty retreated into the peaks, and after viewing the remainder of his force Krulgon decided to use Yunnag's strategy to prevent further massacre.
The bloodshed continued for another twenty years. The clan didn't have enough numbers to inflict sufficient damage to press the imperial army back, but the imperial army couldn't overcome the natural defenses of the mountain to finish the tribes off. The T'Kirem eventually found themselves within sight of the ruins of Kragsfell fortress, and Krulgon decided to place his tribes to either side of it. Should the army try to move further into Lost Soul Pass than the ruins, then they would use the rocky cliffs to either side of the pass to crush the imperial army.
Fortunately for both sides, the army chose to stop at the ruins to Kragsfell. They camped and regained their strength, and sent messengers back to Tamzyrr to begin sending materials and craftsmen to rebuild the keep. Several weeks passed, and the fortress began reconstruction. The imperial army remained in case the giantkin attacked, but no attack came. Krulgon had taken a consensus from his tribe and the other T'Kirem clans there and they had all opted to let the matter drop.
The others that had joined the Baloran tribe when Yunnag-sihr called the warparty went back to their homelands. Krulgon moved the tribe to the north, returning to the lands they called home before clashing with the imperial human army over a century ago.
IV. Events / Recent History
The Festival of the Dead at Kilanirij
Every decade since the end of the Undead War, the Grot'karesh Hammer Clan holds a Festival of the Dead. This is done to remember those that fell at the Battle of Maelshyve, to honor those who made it through the Time of Trial and came to be with the Grot'karesh, and those who lost their lives to it.
The Festival is a 3-day period of remembrance. During this time, all the members of the clan (even those away from the city) wear only a deep-cowled black robe. At the top of every hour, a hymn is sung to those that have passed on and reside on the other planes. At the end of each 24 hour period, there is a ceremony that the elder scholars perform. The ritual is led by the Arbiter (the city's leader) who directs the Preceptors (the magical instructors of the city) through the steps to send knowledge and wishes to their ancestors.
The first day, Ronlon, is a public remembrance of the dead. Those in the taverns, libraries, and other gathering places sit and tell tales of those long gone. Should an Arbiter or Preceptor have been lost in the previous decade, small shrines are erected to honor their memory and teachings.
The second day, Bolia, is for families to privately grieve their lost ones. They attend to their family tombs below the city, cleaning them, decorating them, and lighting them. The family lines which have no living members are not forgotten, simply handled by the caretaker.
The third day, Kamiir, is the most sacred of the Festival days. This is the day when the living who wish to try to communicate with the dead enter their family's tomb. Here they meditate, offer knowledge and other gifts, or simply sit and wait. Those Grot'karesh that choose to enact this part of the Festival are locked in the tomb by the caretaker until the Festival is over. In earlier times, this portion of the Festival sometimes made the participants mad, depending on the information gained. Those that remained sane often discovered that what they found out they couldn't make sense of. The last several centuries of the Festival, though, has led to increasingly fewer communications from the other side and many fewer cases of insanity.
As the sun rises, marking the beginning of the fourth day since the start of the Festival, the living that are locked in the tombs are released by their family members or the caretaker. Those that did not retain their sanity are taken by their family and one of the Preceptors to the Asylum for study and rest.
Highman Games at Jirkirl's Hilltop
Jirkirl's Hilltop is located near a half-day hike and climb from the base of the Yuriqen tree settlement. Its founder, Jirkirl, was an Issimir who decided to take advantage of some of the scruples of the Yuriqen merchants who would not sell metals and other goods. He set up several small shops with his kegritsha a small distance away from the sylvan village on the top of a small hill. Before long other giantkin came along to Jirkirl's Hilltop to start new businesses, new lives, or just to get away from the larger cities and be with other Giantkin.
During a particularly harsh winter, the Highman and Shantira tribes of the Bear Clan decided to move off the freezing peaks to a climate a bit more suited for their seasonal battle. The closer they got to the Hilltop, more and more of them decided to head to the city to replenish their alcohol supplies before fighting. As both tribes realized all of the members of the other were there, they decided (in quite the drunken planning session) to forego the seasonal battle in interest of contests of a slightly different nature. Thus was the Highman Games born.
The tribe chieftains met just outside the Tavern of the Hairless Rolton to plot what contests would be had. They eventually settled on Log Tossing, Hammer Throwing, Arm Wrestling, and of course the Drinking Game. After they argued about whether the drinking game had already been started and concluded, they decided to bring one game their tribes played on their own time. The Shantira decided to bring their Shantira Slalom, which consists of sitting on one's shield and rocketing down a snow-covered slope while avoiding obstacles. The Highmen decided on a massive Tug of War game involving every member of each tribe and one of Elanthia's strongest ropes.
The first set of games was won by the Highman tribe, who decided in their victory to name the event after their tribe. They also vowed to make the Games a yearly event to replace that season's battle. Ever since, both tribes have kept their part of the bargain and met at Jirkirl's Hilltop to try to best each other in the contests. A room in the Hairless Rolton depicts the victory marks of the year's champions all the way back to the very first Games.
The Death of Rajin Maeramil
Rajin Maeramil, the founder of the Wind Runner Clan, was always something of a scout at heart. When he wasn't directing clan movements or handling similar problems, he was out searching the land for slavers. It was in this manner he met his end.
After spending several days in River's Rest visiting some Clan members, Rajin moved north by day toward the town of Solhaven. Three days into his run, he discovered something troubling to him - Krovlin raiding ships moving slowly along the coast looking for the mouth of the river, seemingly on a course to the Rest. Pulling out his spyglass and viewing them for a short time, he saw a combination of warriors, scouts, mercenaries, and several Krolvin dressed in spellcaster garb. He sent his concerns to his clansmen in the village via crystal amulet, then set about getting ahead of the ships in order to ambush them.
He found a semi-covered ravine and quickly grabbed a few hours of rest in it, rising as the sun fell. Moving at top speed, he quickly overcame the distance they made, then ran well ahead of them the rest of the night as they slowed to navigate the coast. In the twilight before dawn he came to a place slightly inside the mouth of the river that would work for the ambush. He secured his satchel, slipped into the water, and waited.
An hour later, a Krolvin scout crept along each side of the river, watching for possible interference from parties on the land. They failed to notice Rajin, who waited with only his eyes and nose above the water under some foliage near the north bank. Half an hour passed, and he saw the two slender raiding ships come into view.
He waited until they had both drifted by, then quietly attached himself to the second ship's rudder. Climbing up it, he placed handfuls of driftwood and riverweed in the hinges, hindering the rudder's movement almost completely. Realizing that not being able to properly steer the ship was likely to get some attention fairly quickly, he climbed across the ship's back to the starboard side and scaled the railing, moving onto the deck.
Once on the deck, he waited until the sailors were busy trying to figure out what happened to the rudder before sneaking below. He killed the below deck sentry, stuffed him below the stairs, and proceeded to the hold to disable the ship permanently.
The hold was filled with the things Krolvin enjoy most after conquering: oil for burning the conquered town to ash , rope for tying the captives, netting and chests for hauling the loot, and an excessive amount of very strong ale (which, it should be noted, could possibly have been more flammable than the oil). Rajin dragged the netting and rope over and tied the second hold closed, then tapped all the oil and ale barrels open with his dagger. Flooding the hold and below decks with oil and ale, he lit the dangerous mixture and burst out of the first hold door. Smoke quickly billowed out of the cracks, and flames licked up the hold openings.
It didn't take the Krolvin captain long to realize the treachery as he spotted Maeramil running out of the hold and toward the side of the ship. He yelled, and Krolvin swarmed to that side of the ship to deny Rajin his escape.
A chaotic fight ensued as they caught up to him. Fighting with a longsword and a stolen Krolvin backslasher, the chieftain of the Wind Runner Clan began to slay or maim nearly all the Krolvin that crossed his path. Though he took serious wounds, he managed to kill 13 of the raiders before an explosion shook the ship from below. Many of the sailors fell, as did Rajin. He stumbled backward, then launched himself overboard into the murky river and stayed below for a minute or two to further the thought that he died in the unexpected detonation from the hold.
After surfacing, he drifted to shore, too weak from his wounds and the blast to swim. Coming to rest near the bank on some of the river's foliage, Rajin watched the Krolvin ship burn and the remaining slavers crawl from the burning wreckage to join the remaining craft. After the ship's flaming skeleton crashed into the bank upriver, he pulled himself out of the water and back to a cluster of trees. Realizing his time was already short, he tore his clothes into strips and bandaged himself as best he could, then resolved to hide and wait for his clansmen.
The group of warriors from River's Rest arrived that afternoon. They found the wreckage of the ship, and searched until they found Rajin, who was now fading rapidly. He imparted the tale of the Krolvin sighting and their demise, gave them some final orders, and died.
The warrior group carried him back to the clan meeting place and summoned their brethren. After imparting his final orders and requests, the group collectively built him a large funeral pyre and placed him on it. One of the clerics performed a small ceremony to assist the soul in its journey to the afterlife, then they lit the pyre and camped around it for three nights. Then they said their good-byes, and returned to their homes and lives.
"Giantman Runes" (in Giant known as Saramar)
This is the largely unknown writing system of the Grot'karesh. Using the theory that the past repeats itself, they decided it would be important to create a written alphabet. Then they could keep histories and see how the future was going to turn out, and thus divine Despana's possible return to begin the Second Age of Chaos. They attempted to teach this writing form to the other giantkin clans, but it never caught on. Many felt the task of transcribing thousands of years of history from stories and pictographs too great, others simply thought the Grot'karesh mad and paid them no attention.
The system is still around and in use today by the Hammer Clan. Outside of that clan, those that feel the need to use written language more than pictograms, for example marking shields and axes, use this runic form. Some Araime and Grot'karesh have even taken to writing with it on stones and selecting some as a means of divination, although this meets with mixed reviews at best.
Clan Binders by Name, Tribe, and Clan
|Kirem||Lanik'tal Tribe||T'Kirem Bear|
|Baklarin||Durendine Tribe||Grishknel Wolf|
|Tormala Issimir||Kaprea Family||Issimir Ogre|
|Fahnamor Araime||Darkstone Bay Tribe||Araime Sun|
|Rajin Maeramil||Eclipse Tribe||Maeramil Wind Runner|
|Samarak the Grim||N/A||Grot'karesh Hammer|
Major Tribe Listing:
T'Kirem Bear Clan - Lanik'tal Tribe (ancient translation, pre-Saramar, for Children of the Bear. 1st tribe.); Obanmenas (Black Fang) Tribe; Highmen Tribe; Shantira Tribe
Grishknel Wolf Clan - Durendine Tribe (1st tribe); Night Sun Tribe; Baloran Tribe
Wsalamir Arctic Clan - No Tribe distinctions. Nearly all of the members are from the same geographic region, if not the same village.
Issimir Ogre Clan - Kaprea Family (1st family); Rakan Family; Aselmora Family
Araime Sun Clan - The Sun Clan bases their tribes on geographic region. For example, the members of the Sun Clan living near the Landing would belong to the Darkstone Bay Tribe, and those living near Yuriqen would be grouped into a tribe based on one of the mountain or forest names nearby. They wouldn't use city/village/settlement names, and things like "DragonSpine Tribe" gives no clue as to where that member would be from as the range is so long. Further, there are enough tribes (regardless of size) that listing them here would be folly.
Maeramil Wind Runner Clan - Eclipse Tribe (1st tribe); Firewalker Tribe
Grot'karesh Hammer Clan - Hammer Clan has no tribes. The tribe system was originally set up for giantkin to be able to quickly identify where other giantkin they met in the wilds came from, their general disposition, and possible skills. The few Grot'karesh that do wander from their city sometimes refer to themselves as Ishan (translates to "wanderer/seeker"), but otherwise there is no distinction between clan members as all Hammer Clan members are from Kilanirij.
T'Kirem Clan's Highmen Tribe - There is a fairly large tribe of T'Kirem that refer to themselves as Highmen. This term comes from the climate they normally reside in, which is any grouping of high altitude hills or cliffs. They are primarily fighting men, and distinguish themselves by speaking and dressing differently from other giantkin. Kilts, dyed various patterns and styles, are worn in place of breeches or pants. This is usually accompanied by knee-high hard sole boots of some kind, as well as a hard-leather pouch worn in front called a sporran. The outfit is rounded out by a sturdy shirt and a full-length traveler's cloak of some kind, as Highmen usually camp wherever the end of the day happens to see them. Many of them prefer two-handed weapon styles, but by far the favored weapon by Highmen is the claidhmore.