After a long day of celebration, even the heartiest of party guests needs to relax.
But even more exhausted than the guests is their generous host, the lady of the hour--the birthday girl, Panda! Only her big brother Andrew remains to help clean up the signs of her special day's festivities. Desiring to keep the hype of the day going long into the night, Panda asked Andrew to tell her a story that would keep them both entertained as the cleaned. And that, friends, is where we begin...
The earth as we know it has seen many forms of prejudice between peoples, and the consequences of these wasted grudges and fears. But one story holds a special place in this family's hearts.
Long, long ago, when our continent was still relatively unsettled, a division occurred. .
Simply put, and through no fault of their own, the children of a husband and wife grew into vastly different sizes. These sons and daughters were seen as beautiful despite their differences, a proud and model family to all in kindness and justice...but the shadow loomed (quite literally) beneath the size of some of these offspring. They were giants and giantesses, the tallest of which stood nearly 15 feet tall, with far greater physical capability than their smaller siblings.
Sadly, this model family would not hold together much longer. Father and mother both died within weeks of each other, causing a great sadness to be heard in all of the nation. Yet this was nothing compared to how great this sadness would be in later years.
Tensions grew as generations lived and multiplied, and before long two different cultures had emerged from the same family. Those who settled the prairies and grasslands were of normal, natural size, proud to not be "freaks" as they called their cousins, the giants. Meanwhile, the heartier folk found a greater love in the depths of nature, settling hills and valleys and waterfalls and forests with a love for the world around them rather than their own greatness. They soon came to fear the little fellows, the "tinies" as they called them, for their sharp wits and sharper tongues--and sharper still, their blades and bayonets.
Yes, those who were smaller forged their own form of 'civilization,' intent on separation from their own kin whom they now called brutes and monsters...the easiest way to do that was to deflect their own fears into causing more fear in the opposite direction.
Meanwhile, the giants and giantesses were still just as civilized as their brethren, yet found it disgraceful how much emphasis was put on industry and masterful attitudes. In their drive to feel dominant, the tiny folk were bending their side of the world towards greed and consumption and control. Yet this is not a tale of "good and evil;" many of the large folk found their size and strength to be a 'sign' that they were the higher form of life. And so segregation grew through fear and pride, just as it always does.
Neither side was quite willing to interfere or even interact with the other, but our story must start with the side of the giants, in the life of a lovely young giantess named Carissa.
Carissa grew up with a wonderful attachment to nature. The trees and creatures of the long woods she called her home were a marvel to her. She was proud of her size, nearly nine feet tall, but not because it gave her power. She thrilled at the blessing it was, that she could climb sequoias and scale cliffs to play with the chicks of eagles and infant bears as they grew, too.
Her parents were equally proud of their daughter's connection to nature, though it did make her a bit daydream-y. Their son, Bennet, was a strong-willed but smart giant, a model in school (yes, of course they had schooling as well as a workforce--despite what the tinies may say, these giants were anything but uncivilized!) as well as at home. Carissa, however...she was flighty, flimsy and eager to explore outside of her home. Every excursion to the forests and streams was longer than the one before.
Yet, she was not naive...just willing to look more simply at life. She was gracious and graceful both at once. But her world changed one late Autumn afternoon as she ran with a stag deep in the forest. Her size and stamina let her run even with this fantastic creature, a buck fully grown with wide antlers and broad shoulders. As she ran she laughed, leaping over fallen branches and between fir trees, until a sound she knew very well shook her world.
The thunderbolt CRACK of rifle fire.
The stag before her jolted and collapsed, pierced by an accurate shot. Carissa's heart skipped more than one beat, as a muffled cry sounded as a gasp caught in her throat. She stumbled backwards and leaned against a tree in shock at the collapsed deer before her.
For a few seconds she said nothing. Though she knew quite well that hunting was important for her survival, she wasn't a fan of the blast of buckshot that burst from those guns. When she finally caught her breath, she said:
"Benneeeeet, why would you scare me like that? I was having fun, a-and you nearly gave me a heart attack!"
Great...he followed me out this far into the woods just to tattle later?
Yet despite her upset complaint, nothing but rustling wind met her words. She could hear her own breathing, the forest was so still.
She could only hear the sound of a shell being ejected from a rifle, and the snap of the reload.
"H-hello?" was all she could stammer out.
Wh-who is out here with me? Carissa's heart raced. She had never felt fear of guns before, but she'd heard stories...how tinies used them to kill without reason or fear, with greed in their eyes. She'd never even seen a tiny before, but if it saw her now...and with a gun...
Her fear overcame her and she gave another muffled yelp, and was surprised when she heard something that sounded just like her frightened noise in the direction of gunshot.
But her question left her even more confused, as she heard the swift rustling of leaves from a few feet away. She stayed still a few moments more, then, plucked up her courage and ran towards the noise.
But there was no one there! Whatever or whoever had been there had left with remarkable speed.
"Huuhh..." Carissa's heart still raced but she was relieved that no one was there, yet...disappointed. Who was out here in the woods with her? She looked down and gasped again. Laying among the fallen leaves was the unmistakeable shape of a rifle. But...it was so small. She reached up and held the gun in her arms. Father's rifle was far bigger than this; her fingers wouldn't even fit into the trigger ring. As she inspected the gun, she saw engraved on its wooden stock "Property of Enrick, 5th of Sumner, Smalltowne."
Unsure of what to do or how to react even, Carissa put the gun in her knapsack (it easily fit inside, small as it was) then walked back to the fallen dear. The shot was expertly made, straight through the horns and head. At least this animal hadn't suffered. She slung the body over her shoulder; at least she could bring it hone to show Father, to explain why she was coming home so late.
The burdened walk back home took far longer than her spirited sprint with the stag had. She'd never been so deep into the forest before, but she could find her way home. Still, her thoughts trailed to a new nature she'd never encountered before: the tiny. Its weapon was hers, so she knew it to be real. Enrick, she wondered, just who are you?