The last time we saw our bearded adventurers, the Hero rescues a strange traveler from a crashed futuristic ship. He is able to carry him to the Wizard, who is undaunted by the foreign visitor who fell into the Fableverse. Meanwhile, Captain Crimson encounters a cool island specter while trying to maroon the Witch Doctor. While Crimson is unable to deposit the treacherous Witch Doctor, the Castaway does inform him that his dreams of naval domination may be far more difficult than he once anticipated. The Marksman rides through the hills around the outskirts of Franklin in search contemplating his next move…
The Marksman tops the ridge line on his ebony steed. The Marksman, backlit by the falling sun, looks down into the valley before him. Several small cottages dot the landscape, cozily nestled into the valley floor. The valley residents had complained about a ground-shaking rumble in the middle of the night and some even mentioned a booming, sonorous voice haunting the hills around the community. The Marksman has traveled the day’s ride away from the city of Franklin as a favor to the Gunslinger, who is busy recruiting guards for the town.
The Marksman slides off the back of his horse, examining his surroundings. The open area boasts a ring of trees surrounding it, with a thick layer of underbrush growing between the trees. The underbrush, left undisturbed for years, climbs the trunks of the trees reaching skyward, creating a tangled mass of vine and thorn at least 10 feet in height. This small clearing at the very peak of the ridge presents the perfect place to set up camp for the night. This would be the Marksman’s base of operation for the long night ahead. The Marksman takes off his cloak and slings it across the horse’s back, rolling up his sleeves, ready to get to work.
The Marksman sits in the nook of a great oak tree, resting his back on a fork near the top of the tree. It is pitch black tonight. He can barely see the smoke from his campfire, about 200 yards away, but only the smallest twinkle of flame. He had dug a hole in the earth to place his fire in, and covered the hole with several evergreen tree branches. This was a great method if someone wanted to conceal a fire, first by hiding the flame and then by redirecting the smoke to avoid one big plume of smoke. The Marksman had done this several times, however, this was the first time that he had left it just high enough for the tips of the flame to be seen. He wanted it to be noticed without someone knowing he wanted them to notice.
Wrapped in his dappled coat, the Marksman sits, watching the perimeter of his campsite, waiting for a curious intruder to breach the thick wall of underbrush and stumble into the camp. It was worth a try. If he was unsuccessful, he could go interview the townspeople and then try again the next night. The Marksman knows that to hunt your prey, you cannot be in a rush. His hand falls to his side, caressing the familiar frame of his dual-shot crossbow. The crossbow is a faithful friend, providing comfort on a night where the cool night wind whips savagely through the tree tops.
Suddenly, the Marksman’s ears perk up. A soft rustling rushes through the trees. The sound of creaking branches echo through the forest. The Marksman surveys the area, unable to locate the source of the sound.
The creaking and rustling grow closer. The Marksman identifies a rhythm with the rustling, almost like breathing… All of a sudden, the Marksman feels it on the back of his neck. It feels like a warm summer breeze blowing across his back. But it was night and just moments earlier it was a warm breeze.
A large branch-like claw grasps the branch that the Marksman was standing on. The Marksman loses his balance and falls off his branch. The Marksman catches himself on a branch below him and looks up into a strange face.
Two green eyes stare back into the Marksman’s face. The creature's face was rather humanoid but upon closer inspection, the Marksman saw that what appeared to be skin was smooth wood, what appeared to be a mouth was a large burl. A long mossy beard falls down the creature’s face. The creature is easily twenty feet tall, with the rest of its body covered in rough bark. The creature is a Giant.
The Giant’s eyes widen when it sees the Marksman. The Giant swats at the Marksman but just misses as the Marksman ducks under the Giant’s swing. The Marksman rolls to a kneeling position firing a pair of bolts at the Giant. The arrows bury themselves in the bark but have no effect. The Giant speaks, but its speech is deep and slow. Its actions are faster than its speech, but still quite sluggish. The Giant grabs at the Marksman but he ducks and rolls to the side. He draws his seax and quillon daggers and uses them to start climbing the torso of the Giant. The Giant feels the Marksman crawling up his body and scratches after him. One of the Giant’s branchy fingers clips the Marksman as he climbs around the Giant’s hip. The Marksman loses his grip on the quillon dagger, hanging on by a single hand. The Marksman is able to right himself, swinging around to grab his dagger and continuing the climb.
The Marksman continues to dodge swings as he makes his way up the Giant’s back. Once he gets to the Giant’s back the Giant’s attempts to dislodge the Marksman become nearly unavoidable. The Marksman sees a strong oak ahead of them and gets an idea. The Marksman loads his crossbow with a grappling hook arrow, courtesy of the Inventor. The Marksman fires the bolt into the Giant’s back at point-blank range. The Giant straightens in pain. The Giant once more tries to brush the Marksman off his shoulders, but the Marksman leaps from the Giant’s shoulder, the grappling bolt cable trailing behind him. The Marksman clears a thick branch and begins his descent, the cable pulling taught. The Giant, already off-balance, gets jerked forward by the grappling cable. The Marksman lets go of the cable, dropping safely to the ground. The Giant was not so lucky, slamming his face into the trunk of the oak tree. The Giant falls backward onto his haunches, slightly stunned. The Marksman rounds the tree, a bolt loaded onto the crossbow ramp. The broad head is a-flame, with bright orange flames dancing. “Surrender, Giant,” barks the Marksman.