“I think that’s enough for now”, sighs Deirdre as she stands from the steps of the shrine. “We’ve discussed much today, and you should think on it.”
The giant stares at the young woman for a moment before speaking in halting Common. “I no tired. I want more talk about bright lady.”
Deirdre stretches, wincing at the crick in her back caused by long hours sitting on the cold stone. Despite Faisal’s reassurances of the importance of attending to the Goddess’ shrine, the few hunters and woodsmen that lived around the shrine were followers of Erastil, and frequented the nearby temple, only pausing briefly to give their respects to the Sun Goddess. She remained certain that this was nothing more than an elaborate ploy by the Duchess to prevent Deirdre from prying the warrior from her manipulative clutches.
The only congregation was the twisted giant who had taken up residence in the nearby forest. Although the High Priest insisted that the creature was somehow important to the Holy City, the acolyte was skeptical. But the giant had shown an interest in Deirdre and her teachings, and proven to be a very eager pupil. At least, once the young woman had realized he wasn’t going to try to eat her.
“No, Grok”, she says firmly. “That is all for today. You can practice the prayer I taught you, and we will speak more tomorrow.”
The giant stares for another moment, but does not rise from his spot on the snow. When Deirdre turns to leave, he speaks again.
“Why Deeder here? Why you not at city on water?”
The young woman turns back to the huge creature, giving a small shrug. “It is my duty to tend this shrine.”
“But you not want be here. Not need be here. No other small one live here.”
“No”, she agrees, “but they will soon. This city will grow and someday there will be many people living here.”
“You should be with dark man. You want that.”
Deirdre looks at the giant with surprise. “What are you talking about, Grok?”
“Dark man. With shiny armor. Have friends who save me from witch. You want him. Why you not go with him?”
“What do you know about this?”, Deirdre asks suspiciously.
“I am big, but not dumb. You smile more when dark man come. Talk different. Touch him. You care for him and want him near.”
Deirdre glances down at the stones, speaking in a soft voice, “Yes, Grok. I do…”
“Then why not go to city on water and be with him?”
“Because he does not feel the same way. He cares about another.”
The giant nods solemnly. “I know problem. I love someone who not have too. Sent from tribe for love.”
“He cares for someone who is unkind to him, and treats him poorly, but whom he loves anyway. And she is powerful and jealous and spiteful. She sent me here to keep me away from him, and I would be in danger if I did not obey.”
“This not good. I help. Next dark man visit, I hold him and you make him know he wrong.”
The young woman shakes her head sadly. “No, Grok. I have spoken with him. He is too blinded by his misplaced devotion to see the truth of what she is.”
“I stop her then. Squeeze and thump her until she stop hurt Deeder.”
Deirdre allows herself to enjoy the image for a moment before shaking her head. “No, Grok. That would just make things worse. He would protect her, and they would hurt you.”
She steps closer to the giant and places a hand on his massive knee. “Thank you for your words. I will find another way to deal with her.”
The giant nods and stands up, shaking the ground. “I ready help. Deeder make plan and Grok will thump what needed.”
Deirdre laughs and bows to the creature. “May The Eternal Light of Compassion grant you strength, Grok.”
As he watches the small woman walk away, Grok wonders once again why her voice changes when she speaks the name of her goddess.
These small people have strange ways. Perhaps they will grow more civilized one day.