Nearly 900 years ago, a breakaway group of Northmen and women – the last followers of the old gods and those opposed to rise of the new gods of Darkness and violence – took a leap of faith and set off on 6 longships they commandeered from the homeland. After many weeks at sea, braving hostile waters and losing 2 ships in the process, the survivors finally arrived at a new and previously unknown island that is now known as Stormwater.
The lands there were rich and fertile from the many rivers that were fed from the glaciers and snowy peaks to the north. The crops they planted exploded with life like they had never seen before, but little did they know that there troubles were far from over – for this land was the winter home of the giants.
The giant-kin stood at least twice to three times the height of the tallest of men, though there were some that were truly of gargantuan proportions. Regardless of how massive they were though, all were quick to anger and when they returned down from the northern mountains they were not welcoming to the new comers. Most often these disputes resulted in slaughter at the giants hand.
Word of the giant attacks spread and it was agreed that the settlers would retreat and take refuge on the island within the lake to the south (which is now known as Lochtown).
For it was well known that giants did not like water and would not cross a body of water that their feet could not reach the bottom.
The fact that the dense structure of their bodies did not allow for the ability to swim or even keep themselves afloat made them suspicious of water.
And so the men were safe on that island but it quickly became cramped and the food stores were dwindling. A group was sent north to negotiate with the giants for farm land and in return would aid the giants. At first the talks seemed to be pointless and the giants were becoming more and more hostile to the intruders.
Then from deep in the mountains, a gargantuan giant named Krowg stepped forward and stood between the two races. He urged both sides to sit and listen to the other and there the seeds of peace were sown.
Man and giant shared the lands and there grew a respect between them.
The men taught the giant-kin agricultural knowledge and the giants returned this gift with the ways they knew as well as the game they hunted and oxen they were a shepherds too.
Krowg would be their chief, he was respected on both sides ,even elders of the settlers would seek his council. For four generations of men, both races prospered and were at peace until the day that the giant king died.
Now, among the giants they were those who preferred the old ways and those who felt it was wrong to turn away from their culture. And on the day of Krowgs death the talk of a revolt spread like fire.
The smouldering flames of war were deliberately fanned by the wicked Northmen to the west, who heard of this and sought to use it use it to their advantage, promising the giants that they could have the whole of Stormwater to themselves again if they would ally with them to fight their enemies.The Giants agreed to this and allied to the Northmen.The Northmen sent their emissaries to meet with the giants and to deliver newly forged weapons for them to use.
And thus so began the war of giants.
The Northman smiths had forged great glaives and axes for them to weld in battle,blades that would cleave man and steed in half with a stroke. Others were not so grand in arms, many of them welded whole trees as clubs, throwing huge stones or just attacking with their bare hands and teeth.
The worst of all were the Gargantuan giants, so large that no line could hold against them, and they bombarded Lochton with huge boulders, trees and even handfuls of rubble scooped up from stone buildings they could leisurely crush underfoot.
And in all of this, the Northmen launched a series of devastating raids, completely destroying all shipping to and from Stormwater, and leaving the coastal towns as smoking piles of rubble as far as the eye could see.
But the Northmen in their cunning knew that they had to get what they could while they could, because the giants had a problem almost as big as they were tall and despite early victories that nearly wiped Stormwater off the map.
For in their greed and anger, the giants had underestimated how many humans had settled in Stormwater and how quickly they bred. By comparison, while the Giants lived for centuries, they were too few in number and too slow to reproduce to stand any chance of a war of attribution.
Soon the humans began to turn the tide, using all manner of tactics designed to bait the bad tempered giants into traps and ambushes that killed, maimed or captured them. Powerful mages arrived from the Aelutian Empire soon stopped the giants assaults in their tracks, and the armies of men began to issue forth into the mountains in search of the giants settlements.
It was a short brutal war that nearly erased all of giant kind. Close knit, ancient giant villages and settlements were leveled, and if any giant stood against the force their families were slaughtered in the humans genocidal revenge.
When it became clear that the giants were on the verge of virtual extinction, they abandoned their traditional homes and fled to the frozen Northern mountains to eke out a meager existence as best as they could.
The war had ended. And the human survivors turned to the task of rebuilding, and with Imperial assistance, were able to reclaim their waters and rebuild their fishing villages.
But the the decline of the giants meant that the creatures they had previously kept at bay from the northern mountains and the forest became more dangerous. The were-wolves and great ice serpents had once feared the giants, but now since they were so few in number their fear began to wane as their numbers began to grow. And they began to creep ever southwards following the river lands into the village and farms.
With so many men of fighting age having perished in the giant wars, and with so much rebuilding to do – a new solution had to be found.
That was when the river-guard was formed, whose purpose it was to protect the territories from the wolves and serpents as well as any foul giant or man.
They were a militia gathered from all the villages and towns in the realm, made up of farmers, builders, fishermen and craftsmen of all kinds. The ones who had knowledge of fighting and warfare taught the others. Axes were hafted and swords were newly forged.
The first task was to build an outpost at the edge of the forest which the were-wolves crept from. When the outpost was finished and fortified the guard then set to chop and burn down every tree within a certain radius of the fort so the ones on guard could watch the forests edge from their towers and from then on the forest was called ” the moon woods”, both because of the were-wolves and for they had created a large crescent shape on the forests edge. Fitting for those who dwelt there.
The next task of the river guard was to protect the northern farmlands, this was the chief location of the ice serpents, a magical and ancient enemy that crawled into the green-lands on occasion and they were the utter most threat to the lands to the south.
It was during this time, these early years of the river-guard that a mysterious sword known as Hafvilsverd – the Serpents Bane came into their service, appearing in the hand of one of a spirit of one of those who were lost at sea during the perilous voyage nearly 100 years previously.
The wolves of the moon woods as well the ice serpents came to fear it as much as they did the grand giants of old.Always passed down from the Chief of the River-guard to the next. The once bright bronze fittings have aged to a dark patina, the blade however is as sharp as the day it was born .When the sword passes to a new welder the words are spoken:
“Born of ore.
Raised in war.
Lord of storms.
In battle i sing.
Swift death i bring.
The serpents bane.”
To this day the serpents bane and the guard is all that protects the innocents from the dangers of the foul creatures beyond their border. Among those that are protected is the last family of giants left in the realm, simple farmers and herders of oxen that are said to be the direct bloodline to the old giant king Krowg himself..