The Rúksea is like a great bowl with a chip on its western side where its water flows into the vast and treacherous Outer Ocean. Storms are common here. The Parse-speakers have a word for when the lightning dances on the water: urukë. Only addled men regard the Sea without fear.

Those who live in the region of the Sea are largely simple farmers and boat-men, carving their existence from the untamed earth or stealing it from the Sea itself. This generalized group — let’s call them peasants — is not a particularly intelligent or rational lot. They tend to see the world in blacks and whites, usually idealizing their leaders while making disparaging comments about those of other lands. They understand the World as a thing to be mastered, dangerous if left to its own devices. These folk prefer rumors to hard facts, and would rather hear it from your mouth than read it in a book. If they could read. Which isn’t likely.

Such people regard cities as anathema to all they hold dear. A city is a place for free-thinkers, loose women and thieves. Were temples not found there, or merchants with coin to buy their goods, these folk might never venture into such places. A tower is an unnatural thing. Why, a house built that high is just waiting to be smashed back down by some wandering giant.

Now there’s a topic. Any farmer worth his salt has a place. A hidden place. Maybe a grotto or walled hole in the ground. When word of giants reaches his farm, he hurries away to his hole, the wife right behind him, both of them dragging the children and looking fearfully at the sky. If he’s smart he’s stocked his burrow with a cask of water and other provisions. Better to wait it out. Sometimes you hear them coming, but sometimes you don’t.

Arthur Rackham

Illustration by Arthur Rackham

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