Careful walking in the forest...
From The Dark Portal, Ch. 16: Pixie Mischief
Suddenly, Jake and Dani were under siege as the pixies rained down acorns on them like cannonballs and started shooting their bows at them with splinter-sized arrows.
"Ow! Ow!" Jake and Dani said.
"Release Whortleberry! Put him down, you oversized oafs!"
More pixies joined the fray. They swung down off the branch above by bits of twine and landed on their heads and shoulders, where they proceeded to beat them and pull their hair...
On the Wee Folk of the Forest
To find out what happens next, read The Dark Portal!
If you're reading THE DARK PORTAL, you may have come across a mention of "The Souling Song." If you haven't got to that part yet, you soon will! We thought you might like to hear what it sounds like. All story ghosts aside, E and I both find this song incredibly haunting. Below the audio is an old Victorian photo of some of the kinds of real, historical poor children who might have had to sing for a few pennies to buy something to eat. In this case, these were coalmine child workers.
To learn more about how life was for them, click the picture. It will take you to an article from the UK Daily Mail, by Annabel Venning, which discusses a recent scholarly book entitled Childhood And Child Labour In The British Industrial Revolution, by Professor Jane Humphries. Unfortunately, if you think that child labor - virtually child slavery - is the relic of a bygone age, brace yourself and click this grim infographic from the US Dept of Labor, which we came across in our research. It shows the prevalence of child labor in poor countries today. Chilling. (Once you open it, it will enlarge if you click on it.)
Wowee! Want to get a little taste of what it must be like for Jake to take a ride on Red up into the sky? Check this out! Somebody strapped a tiny camera on a real live eagle. Ok, it's not a gryphon, for real, but you've got the eagle head there! You just have to use your imagination. I can't believe how smoothly the eagle flies. Amazing!!! Enjoy ~ G. :)
Archie Bradford’s Field Notes
Latitude and Longitude: REDACTED (for security purposes)
I am forbidden from divulging the exact location of the great Scandinavian tree of legend, Yggdrasil, in whose vast branches the Nine Worlds are tucked away like so many bird nests, including the giants’ realm of Jugenheim (pronounced YOO-gan-hime, the J is silent). But I deem it safe to note that the tree stood on a mountaintop one day’s walk from the shores of Oslo Fjord. We had to cross an enchanted wood and deal with the frightening guardians the Tree, REDACTED. (No spoilers!)
The Race of Giants
This was just the beginning of many falsehoods told about giants, I discovered. For example, they do not actually say Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum (which was a great disappointment to me, personally). The Norse giants regarded my request to utter those famous giant words as rather offensive. They do not like being stereotyped any more than humans do,
The average adult male giant stands between 25 and 28 feet tall. The females are slightly shorter, though some are the same size as the males. We met several giant children (one of my most terrifying experiences, actually) and I estimated their comparative heights as
Female, age 5: 10 feet tall
Female, age 10: 15 feet tall
Male, age 12: 18 feet tall
The Viking-style great hall is a multi-purpose space which can serve as anything from the site of their frequent feasts to the village courtroom, where the very hands-on king personally adjudicates legal disputes between villagers and other such matters. Their surprisingly democratic law code was heavily influenced by the Vikings, who loved to vote on serious matters together as a tribe; likewise, their ideas of meritocracy in the succession of their kings. A son of the chief may not necessarily inherit the automatic right to rule if he is not found worthy by the people. Female giants, like Viking women (but largely UNlike Victorian ladies), are even allowed to own their own property.
Indeed, the giants of Jugenheim were so greatly influenced centuries ago by the Viking peoples that they even have a huge oak tree growing up through the center of the great hall in homage to Yggdrasil and the Norse gods, whom they still worship. (They are particularly fond of Thor, whom we also met).
Around the great hall one finds other dwellings and artisan workshops: blacksmith’s forge, healer’s hut, the tanner making leather, the chandler with his candle forms, and so on. Outside the village are vast expanses of Norse giant farms, where they grow crops from grains to orchards and also raise livestock—all animals being, again, five times larger than in our world. Cattle, sheep, goats, chickens, geese. Only the warriors seem to have horses. Plows are usually pulled by the native musk ox (which we were can be very aggressive in the wild, but no match for a giant who desires to tame one). Giants on these farms are even more independent than the village folk. They all make their own clothes from cloth spun at home, butcher their own meat, and bake their own bread.
With few poaching laws unlike in England back home, any giant is permitted to hunt game in the surrounding forests. But they do have to be careful out there of the resident
Observations on the Nature of the People
Giants are surprisingly competitive, especially the warriors, who are especially fond of boasting. (Jake fit right in.) They, as well as the royal family, are and must be brave to the point of almost being foolhardy. It is the only way to win the full respect of the people.
Giants of all walks of life pride themselves on their toughness. They are generally a simple folk, hardworking and fascinated by stories and songs. They can be gullible, but they love jokes. They most enjoy crude humor; anything with a burp or a fart brings uproarious laughter from males and females alike.
Perhaps we are not so different from them after all.