The giant’s evil-bladed sword had smacked into an wooden door which now lay in splinters, completely busted by the force of the sword’s flight. The young herd had walked into the park of trees and going yonder, had found the giant’s sword and the splintered door. Breaking off the protruding planks of wood from the edges of the doorway, he ventured into the dark depths beyond.
It appeared to be the giant’s house for its insides were furnished with eerie paintings and evil-looking artifacts. The corners of the house were pitch-dark and each room was illuminated by a flaming pot of fire suspended from iron chains nailed to the centre of the roof. The connecting walkways were illuminated by flaming torches driven into the walls. The atmosphere inside the house was pervaded by the smell of blood, bones and animal hide. A chilly draft swept through the house. Guided by the flickering orange light that spilt from the flaming, suspended pots, the young herd reached an inner wooden door at the end of a walkway. The door was secured by iron cross-bolts. He tried displacing a few bolts but they were firmly driven home. The young herd turned around and backed out of the walkway until he was standing beneath a flaming pot in the outer hall. He pulled out his sword and began to spin on his heels in a tight circle, as in a game of hammer-throw. At the peak of his act, he let the sword fly out of his grip, pointing it square at the centre of the wooden door at the end of the walkway. The mighty sword let out an audible whistle and pierced through the dark air. At the end of its flight, the tip of the blade slammed into the wooden door cleanly breaking the master cross-bolt in half. The clang echoed through the house and the vibration of the godly impact crawled across the wooden door, blowing it to a million splinters. The iron cross-bolts and the hundreds of rivets that had held the door in place, momentarily appeared to float in their substrates before they fell to the ground in a rain of metal.
The young lad stepped across the doorway now naked without a door, in a cloud of dust and floating debris. The forced entry had opened up not only the chamber beyond, but also the secrets that had lain protected inside the giant’s house. The chamber was filled with gold and precious gems and costly robes and jeweled statues. At one corner of the room, hung the giant’s elaborate, golden dress.
That night, after the tired, young herd brought together his cattle in the king’s shed and had milked them, there was much rejoicing as the cattle, having contently fed on the tender green pastures, had yielded in excess and milk was plentiful for the royal inhabitants. They were delighted on acquiring such an able herd for themselves.
A few days later the glen too became bare and the herd took his cattle into the park of trees beyond which was another pasture of tender, green grass. The giant no longer appeared, but the herd’s problems had been only temporarily dismissed. One night, as the herd was walking towards his quarters after tying down the cattle in the king’s shed, he heard sounds of moaning and woe, come down from the king’s house. Later, he learnt that the king’s daughter, the princess, was to be taken to the upper end of the loch to be presented as prey to the Laidly Beast, an immense, three-headed sea monster. Every year the youngest daughter from every household by the loch, was to be given to the Laidly Beast in return for guarding the waterfront from invading armies. However, a treaty of peace had been signed with the neighboring kings and the kingdom no longer needed the monster’s services but the Laidly Beast had threatened the king that it would churn the seas into a flood and submerge the coastal kingdoms if he failed to feed it. And tomorrow, it was the king’s turn.
The herd also heard that a gallant suitor of the princess, a General of arms of the king’s cavalry, was planning to rescue her from her fate and then secure her hand in marriage, as the king had made that promise to anyone who would come to the rescue of his daughter. Hearing this, the herd walked away silently, keeping his plans to himself.
The next day, the king took the princess up the knoll at the upper end of the loch where the sea-monster could easily reach her. Leaving her there, the teary king retreated helplessly, swallowing his cry of anguish for fear of summoning the monster before the General could attempt to save her. The princess was silent with shock to think that her young life would be coming to an end soon. She knew the General well enough to not fool herself in hoping that he could save her. The General was a man of valor, no doubt, but he was a man of stealth and there was no way he was going to sneak behind a sea-monster, leave aside a three-headed one, and surprise it to death. Nevertheless she could see the General coming in the distance and in a short while he was beside her on top of the knoll, holding a scythe.
He didn’t last twenty seconds there, after the sky turned dark and thunder rolled. The disturbed surface of the sea exploded in a massive spray of water and a colossal three-headed monster, the Laidly Beast, shot up into the sky, drawing itself to full height before preparing to plunge down on the knoll. Its body was submerged in the water and its giant-sized neck appeared like a mountain’s rockface, sprouting into three massive heads. Its three pairs of jaws were studded with razor-like rows of teeth that drooled with thick saliva. Steaming-hot sea-water cascaded down its broad, massive neck and crashed into sprays at the foot of the knoll.
The General gave a yell of fright, dropped his scythe into the frothing waters below and never stopped running until he reached his shelter, hundreds of yards from the knoll. The three tossing heads, a hundred feet above, let out an unsynchronized, unholy screech like massive chains being dragged across an uneven surface. The princess cowered below in shock and frightened wonder, awaiting her end and praying for a quick, painless death.
Will the herd come to her rescue now ?
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