Thousands of Jotunn. Large burly man like creatures. Seven feet tall at the shortest with rugged and worn ice blue skin. Hammered away into the rocks of a Scandinavian mountain, wielding large pickaxes sized to their giant arms. As these creatures went about their grueling work. Striking the mountain's innards in unison. The miners of the Jotunn tribe sang out their worker's song into the hollows of the rock. Their tone was low and guttural as they sang something akin to a cadence. A song designed to make the work go by easier. The giants worked and worked for an eternity down here in the rock. Bringing up the iron used to make their fine crafts, known by all Secrets as some of the best craftsman to ever grace the earth. The Jotunn now toiled away under the rocks and mountains of Scandinavia. Bringing up their findings to their Asgardians "leaders" another word for overlords. And then working more still to craft them into whatever the former gods required of them.
As the Jotunn toiled below. Rope bridges and ice made outposts above allowed the Asgardians to watch over their workers. Guards occasionally patrolling across the bridge as the day's work master looked out from a finely crafted ice balcony onto the work area below him. As the work master observed over his fine Jotunn workforce, who's raw physical might outstripped what any Asgardian work force could hope to do. A messenger entered onto his balcony. The messenger was a young Asgardian lad. No older than fourteen winters. He was dressed in the finest of court regalia, obviously a squire of some kind, born to high station. Completely contrasting the surly old Asgardian work master. In his dirty brown tunic and rugged pants. It would seem almost as if he himself was working among the miners, with the amount of dirt and grime upon his pale skin. Were it not for him being so high above them in his balcony. "S..Sir, message for you.. From the Ymir himself" The boy reached out a trembling hand to the work master. Who with a huff snatched it out of his hand. Splitting open the envelop with a long dirty nail and reading over it carefully.
The work master's gruff old face strained as he read the letter. His eyes wide open in disbelief as the young messenger scurried off for the exit home. The work master sighed loudly and gestured to one of his men in a hurry. The man running over the bridge to the nearby guard post and pulling the cord to the work bell. Signalling the Jotunn workers below to cease labor for an announcement. The guards, the work master trailing close behind them in a hurry, made their way down the iron cast steps toward the work grounds.
The Jotunn were completely surprised by the sudden stop to their labor. In unison looking toward the descending Asgardians to see what was the matter. Each one praying that they hadn't done something to be noticed by their deadly overlords. The large group of Asgardians made their way quickly threw the throngs of worker Jotunn. Pushing them aside as necessary to make it where they were heading. As the Asgardians marched hurriedly toward the back. A lone Jotunn sat in rest on a large stone. This Jotunn was far older than the rest. A large white beard with long braided hair framing his worn wrinkled face. He coughed rather loudly and panted, the work growing to be too much for him in his old old age. A younger Jotunn, with looks much like the older one though far more youthful attended him as he sat. Offering him a skin of water which the old man refused. Passing it back to the youth to drink for himself.
While the old Jotunn sat and tried to recover his breath. The large group of Asgardians made their way across the work space. Ending finally at the old man's area, which was the furthest in the back, at the end of the underground cavern. "Are you the Jotunn called Hrithsfelt?" (pronounced H-riths-felt)) the work master asked, pushing himself to the front of the Asgardian guards. The old Jotunn coughed loudly, noticing the large procession of his fellow Jotunn gathering up behind the guards to see what was going on. "Aye.. That's my name boy.." The Old Jotunn said, a rough cough following right after, the younger Jotunn moved to the old man's side to try and tend to him. But was waved off by the older Jotunn. The work master paused for a moment before speaking again. "The lord Ymir requests that you be brought to the hold. You are to be executed for treason" This blunt and sudden announcement caused the gathered Jotunn to murmur and talk among themselves. To which the work master responded with a harsh whistle that quickly cut the chatter. The younger Jotunn close to Hrithsfelt widened his eyes and moved as if to protect the old man. But was met quickly with two Asgardian blades pressed to his neck as the guards stepped forward.
The older Jotunn sighed and looked at the Work master. His dreary eyes blinking softly before he spoke "I'm far too old to make that climb you know... Just cut me down here Asgardian. Tell Ymir I plead guilty" The Jotunn all looked shocked at the old man's words. . Many of them balling up their fists in rage. The work master sneered and barked back at him "You will obey the lord Ymir's instructions and be escorted to the hold! Even if you must be dragged by your arms old man!" The younger Jotunn growled loudly but was reminded by one of the guards of the blade to his neck with a slight thrust forward, barely an inch of movement, but enough for the fine blade to make a small cut in the giant's large neck. "If it must be that way...Very well.. But allow me a departing gift. Let me address my people briefly." The Work master looked thoughtful for a moment. And then nodded his head in the affirmative slowly "Very well, but hurry it up! Ymir doesn't like waiting, old man.."
The old Jotunn pushed himself up on top of the rock. His old now feeble (for a Jotunn) arms shaking as he lifted himself to stand. So that all the Jotunn in the work area could see him well. The rock he had sat on acting as a platform. "Brothers..." The old man stopped and put a balled hand against his mouth. Coughing loudly before mustering up the will to speak again. "Brothers, sisters of the Jotunn people.. I have been here for too long.. I've seen leaders come and go for this Secret. I was even here before our alliance with the Asgardians. A king was I back in my time, and some even honor me with that title now. I was the one who signed the treaty with the Asgardians, who forged this Secret with them. Hoping together that we might stave off the destruction of our peoples, mutually." The old man paused as he spoke. As if remembering all of these things as he saying them.
"But, thousands of years have passed since that time...And I must say now, I was wrong to do it.." At this, the Work master grew suspicious. And the guards moved forward to silence what seemed descent coming from the old man's lips, the work master however quickly held his hand for them to stop them. Wanting to prevent a riot from breaking out among the workers. The old Jotunn continued. "Surely, we have survived. But for what I ask? To be subjected to this grueling labor for the benefit of our new Asgardian masters? To be worked to the bone so that a king might have a new shield? Or so that a slave master might have a new sword? We have been made slaves to the Asgardians. And our leader, who comes from our own number. Has done nothing to fix it.. The Asgardian in his bedchambers has made sure of his silence.. For too long we have been forced to work away on barely full stomachs. For too long we have been practically shackled to the underside of these mountains that we once ourselves owned and ruled. We used to be a proud and noble people. Resilient! Resolute! Given the dominion over the harsh elements of the cold we were kings of all that lay within frost's touch! Masters of our own destiny! Humans cowered in our wake and the Asgardians never dare lay a finger upon us, in fear that the mountains themselves would be hurled at their kingdom!" The old man had become very impassioned and livid in his speech. Raising his hand outward and using the last of his life's energy to give this bold speech.
"But look where we have sunk to? We're just labor to these pale skinned slavers! Whom generations ago feared the quake of our battle marches! Who feared the cold places that we called our homes! We have been taken, and subjected to their whims on pain of death! It is our work that shapes the hold! It is our labor that makes it such a work of art! And yet it is only they whom are rewarded with the spoils of our toiling effort... So, in desperation. I sent a letter to our lord Ymir.. Warning that if things did not change soon. That I would not hold back the strength of my people when they decided to make that change themselves.." At this point many of the Jotunn were cheering on Hrithsfelt. Chanting loudly after every line. The Asgardians standing in nervous silence. Now afraid to do much of anything. "And..This is my reward. I am charged now with treason.. For seeing the interests of my people first.. Tell me, brothers and sisters? Do you believe me a traitor?" The crowd shouted back loudly in unison "NO!!".The old Jotunn breathed in sharply to speak again "The time has come now t-----" Hrithsfelt was cut short by an arrow plunging deep into his chest. Red blood that contrasted his icy skin trickling down and onto the rock as he looked down toward it. The source, as everyone turned in unison to see. Was a well dressed Asgardian nobleman with a fine crafted bow in his hand. Escorted by a battalion of battle ready Asgardians to his rear. Standing in the front area of the work field that was now vacant because of the crowding around Hrithsfelt.
The old Jotunn looked back toward the crowd. Trying to speak once more even as the life began to fall away from his eyes. "I....Die for my people...." Just as the last word was uttered the now lifeless body of Hrithsfelt fell to the hard rocky ground. Gasps and cries of horror from the amassed Jotunn filling the cavern with vile sound. Chief among them the loud scream of the younger Jotunn who had been close to Hrithsfelt. The Asgardian swords still placed firmly against his neck. He cried out in pain and rage as he saw the old Jotunn's body hit the ground, lifeless as the mountain itself. The procession of Asgardians, the nobleman leading them passed through the crowd of shocked Jotunn. The well armed men threatening them all away as the Noble strode lightly toward the Work master and his men. "Why didn't you kill the traitor before he began his propaganda rant idiot?!?!" The nobleman called out to the Work master. Who had now turned to salute the noble as he approached. "I..I didn't want to cause an uproar among the workers sir.. He is...Was, a community leader". The Work master was absolutely baffled by the actions of the nobleman. But dared not question his superior. The Jotunn had now all quieted down as the soldiers had begun to threaten them. Fearing for their lives. The only sound left besides the two Asgardians being the heavy breathing of the young Jotunn who's neck was still under threat by blades. "And who is this one? Why is he being held?" The Noble asked as he finally made it close to the area. Standing a few feet from the work master. "Ohh.. This one's Hrithsfelt's son m'lord. Svatyr." The Noble appraised the young Jotunn. he was strapping and well muscled. Standing a good eight feet in height. His eyes a deep sea blue though they now welled up with tears. "I see.. Well, we'll be taking him to to the hold's jail... Let this serve as a lesson to all of you!" The Noble now turned to face the Jotunn, who were back against the walls of the cave in masses. Unsure of what was to become of them. "If you cry at the death of a traitor, you will be treated like one, now back to work the lot of you!" The well armed guards came forward as the two men who held him in place before stepped out of the way. Moving their blades at last from his throat. The guards quickly going to either side of him and grabbing one of his arms. Pushing him forward toward the exit along with the rest of the soldier and the noble. Who had already been making his way out. Svatyr tried to glance one last time at his father's corpse. But was pushed forward far to quickly to manage it. Out of the work area in a matter of moments and moving up the iron stairs. Spiraling to an unsure fate.
Below in the work area. The Work master's men were already forcing the Jotunn back to their stations. Being met with only a bit of resistance by the most angry Jotunn. Who were soon beaten into submission. The body of Hrithsfelt was heaved off by four Asgardians and taken away from the workplace. Leaving the gruff work master the only one left standing in ground zero. He looked at the rock where the old Jotunn had given his fiery speech and sighed. Speaking softly to himself as the cadence of the working Jotunn began to commence again, though with a much more somber tone than it had been song before.
"Something is truly rotten in this land of giants and gods..."