Volume 2 Chapter 12
The group picked up their pace as they aimed to reach the snowline, the lowest altitude where snow was always present, as soon as possible. Goblins had thin and fragile skin, thus they could not withstand the cold. They only dwelled in caves of the lower portions of the mountain. Although stray goblins may appear in snowy places, they were almost as harmless as a wolf without its teeth.
Despite walking through the valley, they were still climbing upwards nonetheless; it was an arduous walk. As they reached higher altitudes, it became increasingly cold as well. The rocks scattered across the ground were also sharper due to experiencing less corrosion.
“Watch your feet and don’t get cut,” Rawls reminded the others.
However, shaking off the goblins did not mean that the rest of their journey would be any safer because there was a special creature that dwelled in the Mountain of Demise—stone giants. They were life forms composed of rocks. According to scholars, stone giants were warriors created by the Dark Monarch using obsidian in the first century. Their average lifespan was as long as two millennia.
Through the passage of time, the stone giants were no longer weapons of slaughter and had instead transformed into beings similar to treants. This fact, however, was not commonly known among the general populace. They lived as one with nature and were a part of nature itself. The stone giants of this era were gentle beings who would sometimes help humans and elves pass through dangerous regions. Travellers who came across the giants often left behind gifts such as rare crystals from distant regions to show their gratitude. The stone giants apparently liked the gifts quite a lot as well.
Anyways, the group had finally reached one of the foothills, but they encountered a problem, a huge one. Their path was met with a cliff. Witsen lightly kicked a rock down the cliff and counted. Only after a few seconds could the sound of the rock clattering at the bottom be heard.
“Gosh, this cliff’s pretty damn steep…”
Before his sound even faded, a loud, rhythmic rumbling noise came from their rear. It sounded like someone was stomping the ground as hard as they could. The group immediately became alert as they saw the gigantic silhouette approaching.
“Crap, ogres?” Karile asked.
“Probably not. I’ve never heard of ogres in the Mountain of Demise,” Rawls replied.
Witsen had previously dreamt of encountering ogres, and he really did not feel like meeting one right now. Having a steep cliff in front and ogres at the back was a pretty bad situation.
Just when the group were about to charge towards the ‘ogre’, the identity of the massive being was finally revealed. The gigantic creature had cracks all over its body, and it tottered slowly as its body creaked. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief after realising the situation. It was pretty hard for the stone giant to smile with its rocky face, but it still tried its best to ease the group.
“Are… you… people… stuck…”
Although no one really knew the mechanism behind how stone golems could speak when their entire body was made of rocks, they could still communicate with people, albeit talking at a relatively slow pace. If one suffered from insomnia, listening to a story from the stone giants was a decent treatment.
“Yes, can you help us reach the other side of this path?” Rawls asked.
“That… should… be… fine…” The stone giant spoke as it knelt down before the cliff. “All… of… you… climb… onto… me…”
The group immediately climbed onto the stone giant and held tightly onto the cracks. It then stood up and retreated a few steps before dashing towards the cliff. Despite their bulky appearance, stone giants could actually outrun horses. Their sturdy bodies and agility was the reason why the Dark Monarch relied on them heavily after creating them.
“Waaaaaaaaaaaaaa!” Karile screamed as the giant leapt. “I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die!”
Perhaps because of the additional weight, the stone giant barely failed to reach the other side despite its great leap. Just as they were about to fall into the oblivion below, the stone giant held onto the cliff’s edge. However, the rocky edge was gradually cracking under the immense force.