From the Desk of Benjamin Sweaters, Librarian to the Gods
Long before the current Era, about mid-way through the Second Age for the Children of Abraxia, when the Wellspring was still in its youth; a tantalizing legend was born in the Sea of Niff.
Frandustan, an altogether average and human sea trader, set sail for the Port of Manpreet after a two-year absence. Know for its fine brandy, disdain for taxation, and a boarish embrace of hedonism and violence, Manpreet was a shining beacon of opportunity for the right sort of person.
Fran, as he was called by his mother and friends, was exactly the right sort of person.
“Oh, the riches we’ll see in Manpreet,” said Fran, addressing Rubal, a parrot he’d kept as a child. “Southern leaf medicines are all the rage - absolutely all of the rage - in the Port O’ Port O’ Manport. Uh, Manpreet, I mean.”
The parrot, long-since dead, and never the kind of parrot that talks, did not reply.
“Ruby, old friend. This is our ship. And our ship is coming in!”
Fran had sailed enough to do the work of sailing in his sleep, or else, a state of daydreaming not unlike sleep. An enchanted navigation stone certainly helped, but he had a knack for arriving exactly where he intended within a reasonable timeframe, though never exactly when he would be expected.
“Ruby! Think of the fistifcuffs! The brandy and ale! The girded rigging of a handsome pirate!,” sang Fran, shouting across an unhearing sea.
An adventurer at heart, Fran, never cared for the business side of his business. Yet, he made it work, always kept the journey alive. His life at sea was hard, though ever filled with dreams of what may come.
“Ruby! Rubal! Ruby Ru! Awake and smell the froth of a sailor,” he yelled blindly while pissing over the side of the deck with his eyes closed. “I’m told it’s like pure pheromones for a bird. You might be pregnant already, or so I’ve been told. Though I’ve never been told how those sorts of things work for birds..”
Six weeks, alone at sea, would be a weary sentence for anyone. Even Fran, a veteran of longer journeys than this one, would grow ever-so-slightly madder than usual by the time he arrived in the Port of Manpreet.
This trip was different. Three weeks into the voyage, the seas grew extraordinarily rough. The voyage stretched to eight weeks and by the time he arrived in Manpreet, Fran was entirely more insane than usual.
On top of his deteriorated mental capacity, the Bay of Manpreet had reached its own actual capacity. Every berth was filled by frantic captains and crews either unable to leave, or arriving unexpectedly to wait out the storm.
The wait, it turns out, would be exceedingly long.
“Ruby, you inscrutable beast, why have you done this to me,” raged Fran. “First, your incessant squawking and now, I must drop anchor and row to shore. May the best one drown!”
The trip ashore was perilous, and Fran was out of his mind. He almost capsized a dozen times, nearly drowned in his own boat another dozen, and finally, miraculously pulled himself ashore.
“I live another day, Ruby. No thanks to you,” he spat before losing consciousness.
About a day-and-half later, he awoke to the ground shaking uncontrollably. He lay in a narrow room with a single square window well above his head. Trinkets and small treasures and a stack of religious leaflets shook off the shelves to litter the floor.
“Ruby! Ruby! Rubal! Where in the bile-coated hells are you, Ruby?”
Rising out of the bed to find himself clothed in someone else’s underthings, Fran charged through the small door at the foot of the bed. The door opened to a small common room in what might have passed for a house, but as he tried to get his bearings, Fran realized the roof was collapsing.
“Great Gods, you’ve come for Old Fran. Well, you can’t have me. Not yet. Not while I have these glorious southern leaf medicines!”
The shrill screams ripping through the air distracted Fran, made him angry. He began chasing a slight teenage girl whose cacophonous scream grabbed hold of his conscious mind and twisted vigorously. She screamed even louder as he grabbed her by the shoulders and began to shake.
A flash, in the corner of his eye, gave the only warning of a bludgeoning strike that rendered Fran unconscious.
“Fran! Wake up! You absurd prig of a bastard! Wake up, already,” said Ruby, in an unnervingly human voice. “Now you’ve done it, you’ve killed them all.”
Fran startled, a crushing headache, pushing his eyes quickly closed again.
“Ruby? Ruby? All this time, you could talk?” questioned Fran.
“Of course not, you absolute fugging lunatic,” replied Ruby. “Your head is even more damaged than usual, but look around you. Look at this destruction.”
Fran sat up, gingerly.
All around him, the Port of Manpreet was dust and ash and pooling blood. No movement at all, not even a stray dog.
“Ruby, what happened?” he asked, desperately confused.
“A great giant, 100-hundred feet tall, rose up out of the ground. As if from a slumber,” said Ruby. “It stood and fell to the ground like it didn’t know how to walk, or had forgotten. It crushed the city, thrashing about, and roaring. And then just walked into the sea!”
“No, this can’t be real. I’ve had this dream before,” he said.
“A dream? Of what happened here?” she enquired.
“Yes, it was the Drhantans. They finally awoke. The Drhantans awoke,” said Fran. “We must tell everyone.”
And so it went, for the remainder of Fran’s atypically long life. He, and possibly his imaginary bird friend, were the only survivors of the Manpreet Massacre. An entire city destroyed by what historically would be called an earthquake.
Not by Fran, though. Urged on by Ruby, his constant companion, Fran would travel the world telling tales of the Drhantans. An ancient race of giants that lived beneath the ground, slumbering for thousands of years before rising up in a path of destruction.
For a time, the Drhantans served as a boogie man of sorts, tales to keep children and morons in line. Soon enough, the Drhantans and Frandustan were forgotten everywhere but here, in the Library of the Gods.
No one ever really believed his story. And even by his telling, he’d been knocked unconscious. The only actual witness was an invisible bird. Or, more accurately, a bird visible only to Fran.
No Child of Abraxia knows the truth, but Fran and Ruby were actually quite a bit closer than you might imagine. The Drhantans, kin to the Elder Gods, are real as you or I.
They’re nowhere near 100-feet-tall, and they’re not giants in any familiar sense, but a few of them did slumber beneath Manpreet. And they awoke while Fran slept in the home of a person he would never know.
Those captains and their crews, stranded by the stormy seas, still wait to depart for home, buried beneath ancient rubble in an abandoned land, eternally licked about its edges by the Sea of Niff.