stefanie_bean: (anton smiling)
[personal profile] stefanie_bean
Chapter 5: Interlude: Land of the Giants
Pairing: Anton/Original Female Character
Characters: Anton the Giant, Leroy/Grumpy, Astrid/Nova, Original Male & Female Characters, Regina Mills
Rating: T
Length: 2437 words
Notes: Set in Season 2, in the Enchanted Land, Complete

Summary: Anton the Giant is growing a new crop of magic beans, but what he really needs is a happy ending.


Chapter 5: Land of the Giants

Long ago, when the stars were not fixed in the sky as they are today, two stars fell in love. A yellow dwarf, bright and hot, looked across the galaxies at a gas giant of deepest green, and yearned. Now in those days many tunnels twisted through the heavens, linking space and time. Portals opened hither and yon, and it just so happened that one yawned near the yellow dwarf, and into it the love-struck star fell. Billions of light-years the star traveled in an instant. Soon after, the yellow star and the green merged in a gigantic display of heat and light that would be seen for millions of years to come.

The fruit of their union was the First Giant.

The stars had never seen a child before, and didn't know what to do with one. The Ancients, who in the beginning had plucked the stars from the vast emptiness of the World-Egg and set them in the heavens, had no idea either. After the Ancients marveled, they created an enormous disk, wide beyond telling, to keep the First Giant from falling into the abyss between the galaxies. Then the Ancients fixed the stars in their courses and blocked up the pathways by which the stars could travel to meet one another.

Most of them, that is.

The First Giant wandered on that great plain, careful not to fall off the edge into the abyss beyond, but without companionship or succor soon died of loneliness. The stars shed great silvery tears at this sad event, and as they rained down on the First Giant's body, from that great and cavernous chest a tree began to grow.

Thus the World Ash Tree came into being.

Its great trunk grew star-ward from the once-flat plain. Its gigantic roots spread through the ground, folding the land into mountains, caverns, and valleys. Down into the darkness its tap-roots thrust, anchoring it fast. Where root met trunk, falling leaves and rotting bark formed thick black soil. And from the rot around the base of the World Ash Tree crawled the First People, known as the Giants.

The land and the World Ash gave the Giants whatever they needed to work the stone and till the soil. In their bones they knew the Green Lady, and honored her. Their babies came as twin-lings all, two boys or two girls.

The stars wheeled around the axis of the world time and again. Over the centuries the Giants replaced their stone huts with houses, their coarse woven tunics with linens fine. Gold and other metals they panned from the great rivers which criss-crossed the land, but they did not use them for trade. Instead, the Giants formed spangles to decorate their robes, and coronets for their long flowing hair. Gold and silver they admired for their beauty alone.

Every plant of the land was known to them for medicine or food. Since they neither hunted nor imprisoned the animals, no creatures feared them. The great river buffalo shared their milk, and from their carcasses the Giants harvested leather for belts and shoes. From their bones came sharp needles for skilled Giant embroiderers. The land was rich, and those who worked it were amply rewarded. The very young, the old, the sick were cared for.

If by some sad chance a Giant fell to earth and died alone, unburied, after time the mortal remains would turn to stone. But if that Giant were laid to rest in earth, from the great chest of that Giant's body would grow a massive tree, in honor of the First Giant and the sprouting of the World Ash.

Thus the Giants grew, prospered, and died. However, plums which hang too low on the tree get plucked first. The Ancients had closed all the passageways between the worlds, or so they thought, but a few remained. For even an Ancient may overlook something now and then.

Now there was another realm, the Land without Starlight, where the stars never shone like glowing jewels, but instead hung in great black clots, and pumped out deadly rays which no eye could see. There the Fairy Lurline and her band darted to and fro like bees, sipping colorless rays of power from these invisible stars.

Lurline's dearest friend was Reul Ghorm, also called the Blue Star, and she was second only in beauty and power to Lurline herself. Even though Lurline pressed Reul Ghorm to her bosom, Reul Ghorm was not content with love. She grew ambitious and sought Lurline's overthrow.

Lurline proved the stronger, though. Because she loved Reul Ghorm, she did not slay her. Instead, the Blue Star and her band of rebels were sentenced to drift forever helpless in the stellar winds.

Reul Ghorm was a clever fairy, and after a long span of years, she and her followers came upon one of the star-passages. At once, Reul Ghorm recognized the portal for what it was, and led her band through it.

Long did Lurline grieve for her old companion and enemy. Eventually Lurline and her fairies were also swept into one of the tunnels between the worlds, and found themselves in a new land entirely. But that is a story for another day.

After a tortuous and twisted journey, Reul Ghorm and her band came to the land of the Giants. The glowing dust of the world-tunnels clung to their wings, frocks, and hair. Reul Ghorm realized the dust's power, and bade her fairies brush it off and carefully save it. Then she looked out over the rich fertile plains and forests of Giant-land, and began to scheme.

The fairies might salvage the portal-dust all they could, but even with all their arts they could not make more. One day, though, Reul Ghorm watched the Giant women scatter rich black compost over the fields. “Why do you do that?” she asked one.

“The nourishment is drawn up into the plants, and gives them what they need to grow,” the Giant woman explained.

In that instant, an idea came to the clever Reul Ghorm.

Rays of dark starlight were weak in this world, which meant that the fairies were small in strength. Without more star-dust, Reul Ghorm could not compel the Giants to do her bidding, so instead she used soft words and insinuating arguments. True, she told them, their stone houses were impressive and their orchards fair. But there was so much more they could have, more to venture. Gold wasn't simply for decoration, either. It could serve as treasure, too. If they amassed enough of it, beings from all the realms would flock to do their bidding.

Instead of low stone houses with simple gardens, they could build castles and huge plantations. And instead of growing only flax and herbs and potatoes (this said with just the right touch of scorn and toss of the head), they might grow something else, a crop which might make them the most powerful beings in all of the realms which the Ancients had created.

So, after long deliberation, the Giants agreed, and Reul Ghorm enchanted the giants with what little magic she had. The spell sank deep into the very seeds of life within the Giants' bodies, so that its effects would pass on to all the giant-lings as well. But clever plans often fray when brought from mind to life. The magic beans grew, yes, but the Giants made poor guardians of the doors which opened far and wide between the worlds, and not all which passed through those portals were fair. Humans entered the land, too, and dragons; questing beasts and dark, slimy things which slunk into muddy caverns.

To Reul Ghorm's dismay, the Giants stopped listening to the fairies. They, not the fairies, were the masters of all the lands. What did they need fairies for? Reul Ghorm was vexed, but magic set in motion is hard to contain. So Reul Ghorm bided her time, grew in strength, and as she waited, she came up with a plan.

“Magic beans are impractical,” Reul Ghorm said to her most loyal fairies. “Weather and blights destroy them. And when we do get a crop, the quality is unpredictable. Further, these arrogant Giants are proving too hard to control.”

It was time to craft a new race, one which would serve the fairies without question, one which could supply the fairies with what they needed with the cold accuracy of metal on stone. For breeding star-dust was crude. It would be far more efficient to manufacture it. But something had to be done about the Giants.

From the great disc of the Enchanted Land, Reul Ghorm caused a smaller one to be raised up. On it rested a portion of the Giants' land, and the fairies set it high in the clouds and fixed it to the earth with a massive stalk, many yards round. Upon the stalk they set enchantments, so that no human or other creature could scale it by ordinary means.

“It is for your own good,” Reul Ghorm told the Giants. “Humans cover the face of the world now like a filthy mange, and this will keep you safe from them.”

The Giants grumbled, but agreed. For the crops had been good, the beans full of the glittering dust which ruled the stars, and the fairies had grown strong on it. And Humans were indeed a plague, even if they were small as the rodents which ran around the kitchen of a poorly-kept castle.

The beans, though, the beans did not take well to the new Giant-land in the clouds, and once again the fairies grew anxious for a source of star-dust. Reul Ghorm reassured her flock that soon her new race would be perfected, the one which would give them endless troves of what they now called fairy-dust, as if they themselves had invented it. But these things took time.

“Time,” one pert fairy said to Reul Ghorm, “is precisely what we do not have.”

“Even that we shall, soon enough,” Reul Ghorm answered, and with that cryptic utterance she resumed her cunning arts deep beneath the earth. The broken, failed results of her experiments crept about the dark places, the bogs, the fens, and when they bred with Humans, their spawn formed the ranks of the Ogres.

Finally Reul Ghorm revealed to her band the fruits of her labor. From the dust-between-the-stars she had finally created a working simulacrum of the World-Egg, and from it drew forth the first dwarf. More eggs followed, hundreds of them, to produce a race who only quarreled with each other and never with their appointed tasks. They dug, they tunneled, they mined, they made machines, and from those machines poured the fairies' lifeline.

“Whatever shall we do about these Giants?” Reul Ghorm mused, but she did not raise her wand to strike. Instead, upon the Giants she laid a spell, and into the Giants' life-germ this magic also crept. The Giants would still have their baby-os, two for each birth. But now only one in three births would yield giantesses.

As it dawned upon the Giants what had happened to them, they raised their voices in lamentation. But if the Giants had been betrayed by the fairies and then forgotten, the Green Lady forsook them not, for long had they served and honored her. She took pity on them, and through dreams and portents she whispered to the Giantesses how they might save their race, if only for a time.

Households of brothers of one family would now marry twin sisters of another, and all would dwell together in the brothers' castle of stone. The mothers of a castle would take their daughters to visit a castle of brothers, as in the old days. But now, if the daughters liked the brothers, the daughters would stay and live there as wives to all, and bear giant-lings to all.

Prompted by the Lady, the Giantesses insisted that who they married would be their choice. They would be the ones, with their mothers, to approach the Giants. They would be the ones to court. The Giantesses would pick. And there would be no fighting over Giantesses in the land.

So over the generations, the Giants followed this path and lived in harmony. Fathers taught sons, sons taught brothers the ways of wooing the Giant women. Their hearths still blazed, their orchards bloomed, and the fairy beans kept growing, that enchanted crop with its sweet song which only Giants and fairies could hear.

In every Giant household, all gathered around the great hearths, the giant-lings loving their mothers and fathers all, regardless of who had sired or borne them. Even as the Giants' numbers diminished, they managed to live and love.

Very few beans now contained the full measure of magic. Sometimes scores of years went by and none which opened portals were harvested. Those that did grew more valuable than gold, since Giant beans still made the most reliable passages between the worlds. For it is the way of both Giant and Human alike that the rarer something is, the greater its price.

Human kings gave half their treasure just to purchase one bean, and more gold amassed in Giant storehouses than the remaining Giants would ever spend. Through the portals, Human kings sent soldiers and sorcerers to conquer other lands. Humans spread through all the worlds, gaining in might and power, if not in wisdom or beauty of spirit. And talk grew among the Humans: why trade for that which they could take?

So Human mages devised poisons which could kill Giants with a single scratch. Sorcerers crafted charms to slip through the defenses of the great bean-stalk which connected Giant-land to the rest of the realms.

The Human-Giant wars had begun.

Terrible battles raged over Giant-land as the animals fled and the fields were burned or salted. Every time the Giants shored up their defenses, crafty Humans subverted them. Then, in the most cruel twist of all, the Humans noticed the scarcity of Giant women. So Humans stopped fighting the male Giants directly, and killed the Giantesses first and foremost. The Giants' numbers, already weakened, grew smaller still.

So it went over the long years as the Giants diminished, until only one castle was left. And eventually that castle also fell, but thieving Humans got no beans out of it. For the one remaining Giant destroyed the crop and salted the fields: the last of his kind, Anton, son of his fathers Alonzo and Albion, now of Storybrooke, Maine.

(continued)


(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-08 05:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] inlaterdays.livejournal.com
Wow. Just wow. The mythology you've spun from the bare bones provided by the show is astonishing. I love the tale of the First Giant. I can see that you subscribe to the theory that Blue is the mastermind behind a lot of events/troubles, and you make it wholly believable.

I'm always excited to see a new chapter of this, and this one was beautiful.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-08 06:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stefanie-bean.livejournal.com
Yay, glad you liked it!

This chapter took a long time. Origin myths are hard.

As far as Blue Fairy as mastermind, yeah, I like that point of view. I've only watched a little Sailor Moon, but it gave me a taste for villainous female masterminds. I don't see Blue as really evil, though, just utilitarian and seeking to keep her power.

Did you catch the Lurline ref?
Edited Date: 2014-05-08 06:25 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-08 06:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] inlaterdays.livejournal.com
I can well imagine that origin myths are hard. This one was great and very well-imagined.

No, I didn't, but the name sounded vaguely familiar for some reason. Who is Lurline? I googled and found a reference to Oz...

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-08 07:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stefanie-bean.livejournal.com
Lurline was the fairy who made Oz a magical kingdom in the first place. I figured since OUAT was now incorporating Oz lore, that it would be fun to name-drop.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-08 08:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] inlaterdays.livejournal.com
Very cool. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-08 07:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] earthspirits.livejournal.com
A beautifully done chapter, and I love the way you've incorporate ancient legends and themes into the Giants' backstory.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-08 07:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stefanie-bean.livejournal.com
Hi, thanks so much for reading!

Yes, poor Anton. It's not easy being the last, whether it's the last in the family or the last of your kind.

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