Child of Moss part 5

Oatey was faster than she looked.  She fairly flew down the ridge and repeated the same attack that had killed the first goat.  For some time there was no chance for questions.  Lugh kept with the girl and the charging goat and not much more.

The problem as he saw it,” Lugh mused, “was too much riding and not enough running.”  Still, he was close to her when they burst into another clearing dominated by an unlit bon-fire.  The goat looked worse than he did, head down, panting, but not for long.  With a deft slash Oatey put the goat out of its misery.

Oatey turned to the stacked wood.  Lugh was panting, hands on knees, watching her as she struck a spark in tinder and blew it into flame.  She thrust the flame into the wood and the bonfire flared to life.  Without hesitation she turned back to the goat.  With practiced ease she cut the legs free and threw them, one after another, onto the growing fire.  Smoke billowed.  “Help me with the body.” Oatey commanded.

Lugh grabbed the blood soaked animal and with Oatey threw it onto the bonfire.  “How is this going to kill a giant?”

Oatey stood, bloody to her elbows, hair, sweat matted to her head, and for all that, beautiful.  She smiled, “This is for confusion.”

“Wonderful, the giant and I are both confused.” 

“We stand over there.  The giant is drawn to this, burning meat, destruction of burning.  Then he smells us, sees us, comes for us.  We run down that defile and as he pursues, mad with hunger and hatred, he dies.” Oatey beamed her pride, “Come, the giant is near.”

Oatey, running like the wind, dashed off with her purpose clearly in mind.  Lugh, blowing hard, followed as he could.  As he followed he saw that there was indeed a cut in the rock ringed clearing.  Oatey slowed and stopped at a sort of edge where the grade turned steeply down.  Lugh slowed and was shocked to hear a booming, as of a drum, from his feet as they struck the earth, as if it were hollow. 

“A false floor, we can cross, but the giant will break though and his feet will find copper thorns but no better purchase to keep him from falling there.”  Oatey grinned mischieviously, “Have a look.” 

Oatey pointed down and standing next to her Lugh saw men of the Norfolk standing below.  Each of the men was manning a wicked looking pike rigged among the trees in the creek bed below.  There were others standing by thick ropes farther into the trees.

Oatey nudged Lugh, “For now we are the bait.”  She pointed back toward the fire. “See, he comes.”

The creature was every bit of fourteen feet and frightful in its wrath.  It was a man in everything but size and yet this similarity to a man made it seem all the more alien to Lugh.  The skin, that had been grey and stone like as it rose from the hillock that had covered it, was now pallid white.  Red hair covered its head and a matted beard covered its jaw and chest.  The giant howled its rage in deep booming Rus that Lugh knew from his travels.

“Lugh, when I say so, run down the ramp with me.  Keep your feet as long as you can.  When we hit the soft ground at the base we must roll aside.  Do you understand?  Oatey searched his eyes and seemed satisfied with his nod.  “He is hungry, angry, but he begins to speak.  Do you know his words?”

Lugh nodded, “aye, yes, tis Rus.  He spouts threats and dark promises.”

“Yes, he is human now, no longer stone.  His wits are returning, but we must catch him in his rage.  Lugh, you must wait with me until I go, else he may realize the trap.  But now he is flesh and we can kill him easily.”

“Oh gods, how can you say easy?”

The giant held in two huge hands an uprooted tree.  Most of the branches were torn free and the man thing swung it like a maul with the remains of the root ball, the head of it.  With one wild swing he shattered the bonfire, sending its parts across the clearing.  Then his eyes fell on the pair.  His howl convinced Lugh all the more that this thing was no human.

Oatey’s grasp caused pain, “Wait!” she commanded as the giant charged howling its rage.  The giant swung its tree-club into the air and pounded toward them impossibly fast.  Its strides ate up the intervening ground and Lugh’s blood ran cold.  “Come,” Oatey said and dragged him after.

The track was steep but he had almost made it to the base when he tripped and began to roll.  Oatey was already down and rolling toward what Lugh hoped was a soft landing.  The impact was was jarring, stunned he tried to figure out which way to roll. 

Oatey yelled, “Quickly here.”  He scrambled after and was stunned again as he was thrown aside by opening gates buried in the ground.  He lay looking up the slope horrified to see the giant stumble and fall. 

The tree bound pikes were swinging into position to meet it.  Armored men, with copper axes, were boiling out from cover around them.  The huge man was pierced shoulder, chest, and gut, but his weight could not be stopped.  The pikes shattered, and the creature turned as it fell.  Lugh feared he might be crushed, but he was far enough away as the thing went behind the huge doors onto which he and Oatey had fallen.

He looked around for her.  Trying to gather himself he clambered to his feet searching for her.  She was gone.  Armed and armored men were rushing into the defile where the body of the giant had fallen, surely dead with the wounds.  He followed expecting that he might find the girl at the center of mayhem.

As he rounded the door, following in the wake of the axe men.  He caught a glimpse of the man-thing impaled among a forest of copper clad and barbed spikes.  “Easy she’d said, what creature had a chance against her?” he had the chance to think.  The axe men were pushing through the spikes from all sides now.  Lugh couldn’t understand the urgency.

Suddenly, the thing moved, pinned as it was through almost every part of its body, the movements were slight and somewhat aimless.  A big six-fingered hand rose near Lugh, but only just off the ground as the arm was pierced with many barbed spikes.  It smashed down and the arm strained against the piercings.  “I’ll eat you all, damn bugs.  You’ll pay!”  The thing howled its protest.  The giant’s face turned to Lugh and its one undamaged eye focused on him.  “I’ll pop you like a maggot too Gael boy!”

“The head! Strike off its head!”  Oatey cried, she was in the thick of it, moving toward the giant’s shoulders.  Lugh saw rage turn to fear on the giants face.  It redoubled its efforts as the Norfolk soldiers clambered onto its back.  Lugh watched as stroke after stroke bit into the thick corded neck of the giant.  Men lost their balance and fell only to rise again and seek to climb up onto the giant.  Lugh marvelled at how much damage it absorbed before it grew still, but even then Oatey harangued and cajoled until the head was completely removed.

A ragged cheer went up and injured axe men began to be tended to.  None of the injuries that Lugh saw seemed severe.  Easy, like she’d said.  Lugh expelled a tension filled breath and went looking for the girl.