by Jai Gomer
upon a time, nestled in around the foot of a huge
mountain, there was a quiet, peaceful town. This
town was much the same as most - it had doctors
and blacksmiths and bakers, schools, picnics and
summer fairs. But what made this town different
from others was the people.
Here, Giants lived alongside Men.
One day, a baby was born in the town. The parents
- a Giant blacksmith and his wife - were overjoyed,
as they had wanted a child for so long. They dressed
him in green swaddling cloth, and named him Alder.
As Alder lay in his crib his father would tell
him tales and legends of the Old Giants, who were
rulers of all the Land, long, long ago. He told
Alder of adventures and heroes, of battles and
victories, of brave Kings and beautiful Queens.
Alder heard how Giant warriors set out on Quests
to free towns and villages from tyrants, or to
rescue them from creatures such as the Horned
Spolrac or the now-extinct Gnabbergizzard, and
he wished he could be just like them. He longed
to be a fearless Warrior-Giant, sword in hand,
taking on the mightiest of beasts.
But Alder stayed small. He was smaller than his
friends when he was a young child, and he was
tiny compared to the other Giants his age at school.
In fact, he was little bigger than the Man-boys.
Alder couldnt play with the other Giant
boys, as he was too small - they would mock him
because he couldnt kick a giant ball, or
play at wrestling with boys who towered over him,
and they would shout at him when he got under
their feet - and he couldnt play with the
Man-boys either, because they would laugh at him
for being so small, even though he was a little
taller than them. They would call him names and
chase after him, or point and whisper as he walked
past There goes Alder, the littlest giant.
The names would hurt him, but it hurt even more
to have not a single friend. No matter how hard
he tried, all the children would do was laugh
at him and so, one day, he decided to run away.
He packed some food into a knapsack, and left
the town early one morning while everyone was
He walked along the road leading out of the town,
and came to a fork. There he could choose to walk
the main road to the other towns he knew, or a
rarely-used path leading to the other side of
the mountain. Knowing that everyone would expect
him to travel along the main road, Alder turned
onto the rough path, heading to places hed
All through the morning he walked, following the
crooked path as it wound its way around the huge
mountain. All afternoon he walked, until he could
no longer see the town he had left behind. As
evening closed in, he began to get tired, but
he would think of how the other children had laughed
at him, and he would hurry to get as far away
from them as possible.
Alder never slept that night. He walked right
around the mountain, to the fields and forests
on the other side. He walked all through the next
day, stopping only briefly to eat from his pack,
pick a few apples from trees by the side of the
worn dirt track, and sip cool water from a small
He slept that night under the branches of the
Bushy-Willow, safe from the rain under its thick,
soft leaves. In the morning he rose early, with
the sun, and continued on his way. The sun warmed
him, seemed to travel with him, and gradually
lightened his step. Soon, Alder was whistling
as he walked, almost forgetting his cares.
As he walked, further and further from home, Alder
saw many new and strange things. He saw flocks
of the multi-coloured (but tiny) Ganza Bird flying
through a rainbow, and huge herds of hairy Dufflemites
grazing on wide open fields of the greenest grass.
He even saw what seemed to be a walking tree,
like the ones he had heard about in stories long
ago (though he couldnt be sure). But, no
matter what new things he saw, or ate or smelled,
he could still hear the mocking voices of the
children from the town.
One night, as Alder fell asleep on a bed of moss
on the banks of a tiny stream, he dreamed he was
back at school. All of the other children were
gathered round him, jeering and joking and pointing.
Alder cried out for them to stop, but they carried
on laughing and pointing and calling Little
Alder, youre not a Giant. Little Alder,
youre not a boy. over and over. And
as they crowded in, closer and closer, Alder began
to grow smaller and smaller and smaller, until
the children were the size of mountains to him,
and he was no bigger than their toes.
I dont want to be small! Alder
cried, but found he was crying out to the night,
and he was on a bed of moss by the side of a stream,
far from home, with tears staining his cheeks.
He slept very little for the rest of that night,
and in the morning he woke cold, hungry and miserable.
He sat by the edge of the stream and drank some
of the icy, refreshing water, trying not to think
about the dream. Suddenly, something caught his
A small creature was scurrying through the long
grass on the other side of the stream. Then another
creature followed the first, its movement shown
only by the swishing of the reeds at the waters
edge. The creatures seemed to be moving quickly,
as if they were chasing something, or being chased.
Alder looked along the bank of the stream and,
coming up right behind the two creatures, he saw
a Grumble - a slow-moving hairy beast which shuffled
around on all fours, snuffling in the earth for
grubs and shoots and berries (though sometimes,
he remembered - though it was quite a time since
he last saw a Grumble - they would eat Dingles,
and other creatures which lived around the roots
of trees and in tall grass).
All of a sudden, the creatures veered to the edge
of the reeds and towards the water. Alder watched,
and was amazed at what he saw. The creatures
were, in fact, a young boy and a girl. They looked
as if they could be the same age as him, but they
were small. Very small. In fact, neither of them
could have reached to touch his knees. They were
so small he could have picked each one up in one
As they reached the edge of the water they saw
him, and the girl cried out in fright. The young
boy was limping, and Alder could see that he would
not be able to cross the stream quickly enough
to escape the Grumble, which was shuffling closer
young girl was clearly terrified, and tiny tears
ran down her face, but from somewhere she found
the courage to cry out to Alder.
Please help us! she cried. We
cannot run any more, my brother is hurt, and the
Beast will soon catch us and eat us.
It was true. The Grumble was almost upon them.
Alder looked towards the lumbering beast, and
back at the tiny children, and into the tearful
face of the little girl. Nobody had ever asked
for his help before. Now he had the chance to
help people who really needed him.
Alder smiled to the girl, then drew himself up,
feeling strangely taller than he had ever felt
before. He stomped through the stream, splashing
through the icy-cold water, then, when he reached
the other side, he ran at the startled creature,
waving his arms and roaring loudly (knowing that
this was normally enough to terrify a Grumble).
The hairy beast yelped loudly when it saw Alder
racing toward it, and it turned - suprisingly
quickly - on its four shuffling feet and ran away
as quickly as a Grumble had ever ran (which wasnt
really that quickly).
Alder carried on roaring until the Grumble disappeared
into bushes far away from the water, then he headed
back to the edge of the stream to find the young
girl wrapping a cold cloth around the boys
injured leg. When she was finished she stood up
and walked over to where Alder was standing.
Thank you. she said, gratefully.
Thats okay. replied Alder.
Are you a Giant? she asked.
Alders chest swelled with pride. Yes,
I am, actually. he answered.
My names Corn, said the
girl and that is my brother, Carrot. Whats
Soon, the three of them were talking just like
old friends, and Alder shared with them some fruit
he had picked the day before. The three talked
all through the morning, and into the afternoon,
their shadows growing longer with every passing
hour. A slight chill let them know that evening
was drawing close.
We must get home! said Corn. We
hadnt meant to be gone all day!
Well, I suppose I should be on my way too.
said Alder, and his heart was suddenly heavy and
sad. He remembered why he was there; that he was
far away from his family, or anybody he knew.
He had spent the day talking to these two small
people as if they were friends, but now they were
going, and he would be alone again, with no food,
nor a blanket, and with no idea where to go next.
Where are you going? asked Carrot.
Do you live around here?
Alder shook his head.
Where do you live then? asked the
I dont really live anywhere.
So where will you sleep tonight? asked
Then you must come back with us. Our village
is nearby, and our father has a barn. Its
warm and dry, and big enough even for you!
Are you sure he wouldnt mind?
Corn laughed. After he hears about how you
saved us from the - what did you call it? The
Grumble? Well, when he hears how you saved our
lives hell put on a feast, and everyone
will come, and youll be the guest of honour!
And she was right. When the three of them first
approached the village - the tiniest village Alder
had ever seen - the people were worried, seeing
an enormous Giant carrying two of their children
on his shoulders, but when Corn and Carrot told
them all about the battle with the huge beast,
and how the mighty Giant had saved their lives,
the villagers cheered, and set about preparing
a feast in Alders honour.
Torches were lit in the square at the centre of
the village, musicians played, and the villagers
piled food and drink high on tables set around
the square. As night fell the villagers ate and
drank and danced, and Alder sat and ate and talked
with Corn and Carrot and their family and friends.
Men stood on tables and made toasts to Alder,
praising his bravery and strength.
At the end of the night the whole village led
him to a barn, where each of the villagers had
laid out a blanket for him - so many that the
floor of the barn was covered in layers of soft,
warm cloth. He lay down on the blankets, his head
resting on pillows of straw, and settled into
a soft, dreamy sleep.
spent the next few days telling and retelling
the tale of The Battle With The Grumble, while
people brought him gifts of fruit and flowers
and told him how brave and strong he was. He went
with the boys and girls of the village when they
hunted for Snyles and Bomboles, and he accompanied
the men and women who tended the fields around
the village, helping to push their heaviest plough
- which he did with ease.
Soon a few weeks had passed by. Still Alder hunted
and farmed and told the story of the Great Battle.
Then months rolled by, and there were more tales
to tell - tales of adventure and bravery; of Sea
Monsters and Troll Kings and Shadow Goblins; of
battles fought to protect the village from Fire
Fairies and Snaggle-Trees and herds of Grumbles.
Winter arrived, and then slipped away, and spring
turned to summer once again. The world turned
with the years, and Alder lived happily amongst
the villagers, growing strong working in the fields.
He loved the villagers, and they loved him in
return. He was their Giant, their friend, their
helper and protector. The barn, where he had slept
when he first arrived, was now full of grain,
fruit and vegetables (for, with Alder helping
to plough the fields and harvest the crops, there
was always plenty of food), and it seemed so much
smaller than he remembered.
Now he lived in a tent at the edge of the village.
A massive, towering tent, fit for a Giant.
Sometimes, however, when the night was still and
all the villagers were asleep, he would think
about his family, and the town he had left behind
so long ago. He would wonder if his parents thought
about him, or whether they had forgotten that
they used to have a son. A tiny son, who would
never be a real Giant.
The thought of them so far away made him sad,
and tears would well up in his eyes. But then
he would remember the taunts and the laughter
from the children of the town, and he would remember
why he left. Why he ran away. There he was laughed
at, picked on and bullied. There he was Alder,
the Littlest Giant. Here, he was Alder
the Great, and he was a Giant. A Hero. Then
he would wipe away his tears and stop thinking
about his past, until the next still night.
One day, deep into winter, with snow covering
the land as far as the eye could see, Corn fell
At first everybody thought she would get well
the next day, or maybe the day after, but instead
she got worse, and took to her bed with a burning
fever. Alder sat outside her bedroom window, where
most of the other villagers had also gathered.
He suddenly felt helpless for the first time in
so long, and his heart was heavy with worry for
The doctor came every day, trying all he knew
to try and make Corn well again, but nothing helped,
and she grew weaker and weaker. The village became
a quiet place, and everybody was sad.
One quiet morning, about three weeks after Corn
had taken ill, the doctor came and sat with Alder
outside Corns bedroom window. The doctor
hung his head sadly, and the two of them sat there
for a long time, without speaking a word.
Finally, Alder asked, quietly, Will she
ever get better?
The doctor shook his head, slowly. No, Alder.
Ive tried all I can, but nothing is working.
He took a deep breath, and then said Corn
When he heard that, Alder began to sob, and huge
tears began dropping from his face, splashing
onto the ground and soaking the villagers who
sat below. I dont want her to die!
he cried. I wish I could help her. Id
What good is it me being a Giant,
he asked, wiping his cheeks, when I cant
even help my friend? If only there was something
I could do. I would do anything, go anywhere.
Id run to the edge of the world to find
help if I could.
There was a moment of silence, and then the doctor
leapt to his feet, startling the nearby villagers
and even Alder as he shouted Of course!
Alder, you can help. You can run to the edge of
the world to save Corn!.
The doctor then began speaking so quickly and
excitedly that a pot of calming herbal tea was
brewed especially for him. Once he had drunk three
cups, and was a little more relaxed, he began
again, and everybody in the village listened.
The doctor spoke of legends, told to him by his
grandfather, of a magical mountain which stood
at the place where the ground meets the sky. On
this mountain, shaped like a huge, sleeping dragon,
grew a herb called - not suprisingly - Dragonroot,
which was a cure for almost any illness.
The legends told of massive crops of pink-leaved
Dragonroot growing all the way up to the top of
the mountain. Unfortunately, said
the doctor, we dont know exactly where
this mountain is. The legends say it lies towards
the morning, towards the rising sun, and that
it would take almost a whole season to reach.
This is why nobody has tried to reach the mountain
for such a long time, even though we have all
at some time needed the Dragonroot.
He then looked up at Alder. But a Giant
like you could travel there in only a couple of
days! You could collect more than enough Dragonroot
to make Corn well.
Then, for the first time in many days, the doctor
smiled, as he asked Alder, will you go to
Dragon Mountain to help save Corn? And,
of course, Alder said yes.
And so it was that, later that morning, the villagers
finished packing a huge knapsack of food for Alder,
and a much smaller one for Corn - as it had been
decided that Alder should take her with him on
the journey. That way, she could eat the Dragonroot
much sooner, for by now she was very, very ill.
The villagers wished good health on Corn, who
was wrapped up safe and warm in one of Alders
pockets, and hailed Alder the Great, their Giant
and their Hero, and waved the two of them off
on their journey.
Alder strode - long Giant strides - while Corn
slept in his pocket. He left huge footprints in
the snow, leading away from the village, towards
a distant mountain far beyond the horizon.
All through the day and through the night he walked,
battling fierce wind and snow, and shivering from
the cold. Icicles formed on the end of his nose,
but he brushed them off without caring. All he
could think of was the mountain, the Dragonroot
and saving Corn.
As a new day dawned, the blizzard grew thicker
and thicker, almost blocking out the light. Alder
could only hope that he was still travelling in
the right direction, as he could see only a short
distance ahead. Many times he stumbled in the
slippery snow, almost falling, and as day turned
to night once more he struggled to stay awake
and to carry on walking.
Through it all Corn slept, not knowing the danger
all around as Alder fought his way through the
snow to Dragon Mountain.
By the time morning came around again, the storm
had eased slightly. Alder could see more of the
thick, white blanket which covered the land all
the way to the horizon. He could also see the
sun, rising directly ahead of him, and he knew
that he was heading in the right direction. He
shook the sleep from his head, and walked more
quickly towards the sunrise, with determined strides,
eager to save his friend.
That afternoon the storm returned , stronger than
ever, and colder than Alder had ever known. The
pain and tiredness he felt forced tears from his
eyes, which froze instantly on his frost-covered
face. At one point he almost tripped over the
trunk of a fallen tree, and was only just able
to stay on his feet.
It was then that he saw the beast. It was huge,
bigger than any beast Alder had ever seen, with
a shadow larger than many villages. It sat in
his path, oblivious to Alders presence,
sleeping. Alder knew that he was much too tired
to fight anything, especially a beast of this
size. It was enormous.
A voice inside his head told him that there was
something he should remember.
But what? Alder was so tired. What was the voice
It was enormous.
It was sleeping.
Then, through the pain, and the cold, and the
overwhelming tiredness Alder realised that he
had reached his goal. The beast before him was
not a dangerous creature, but a mountain.
Though his legs screamed in pain, Alder ran towards
the mountain. He raced up to the gentle, lower
slopes, scrambling over snow-covered fallen boulders,
and began to burrow into the snow. His fingers
were numb, but still he clawed, until he was stopped
by earth and rock. He pulled out his hands, and
laughed out loud when he saw the tiny pink leaves
stuck to his skin.
In a daze, he tore out more of the Dragonroot
from beneath the snow, while all around him the
The legends were true - the Dragonroot grew like
a carpet on the mountainside, and it didnt
take Alder long to claw together a huge pile of
the precious leaves. He crammed them into his
one free pocket, and then checked in the other
to make sure Corn was still safe. She was sleeping,
but she was pale, and cold.
Alder knew that he couldnt feed Corn the
leaves out in the fierce, freezing storm. He would
have to find shelter. He stumbled through the
snow with his arms outstretched, until his grasping
fingers finally found the rough branches of an
old, twisted tree.
Alder cleared the snow from around the trunk,
and was delighted to find it was hollow. He took
off his overcoat, leaving Corn in the pocket,
and placed it in the hollow. He gently woke her,
and began to feed her the Dragonroot.
The cold, and the ferocious wind tore at him through
the thin tunic he wore, but still he huddled over
Corn, feeding her the tiny pink leaves. She was
so weak that he was sure she didnt know
where she was, or maybe even who he was. It was
all she could do to chew slowly, without the strength
even to open her eyes.
It was some time later that Alder heard a voice.
It was weak, and he could barely hear it over
the roar of the wind, but something deep inside
told him that it was a cry for help.
had fallen back into a deep sleep, having chewed
on a small pile of leaves. Alder checked that
she was wrapped up securely in his overcoat, protected
from the storm, and he began to walk further up
the mountain, in the direction of the voice.
Through the thick falling snow and the howling
wind, Alder moved quickly up the mountain until
he saw, on a thin, rocky ledge, the owner of the
It was a boy. He was shivering with the cold,
looking scared and alone. But what suprised Alder
was his size. The boy, though smaller than Alder,
was much bigger than Corn, or any of the other
Alder made his way, carefully, over to the rocky
ledge. He called out to the boy, who looked up,
startled. The boy held out his arms to Alder,
who edged closer, careful not to slip in case
he fell down the dangerous, rocky slope.
When Alder was close enough he grabbed hold of
the boy, who in turn held on to his saviour as
tightly as he could.
Alder made his way slowly back down the mountain
as the powerful storm continued to rage. Soon
he had both Corn and the boy wrapped in his coat,
but Alder knew they couldnt stay much longer
in the freezing cold.
Hoping that the boy lived nearby, Alder called
out loudly above the wind Where do you live?
and the boy pointed to a path, mostly hidden by
snow, leading to a dip on the other side of the
mountain. Alder could just make out a faint glow,
which he hoped was lamplight. Maybe that was a
village, or even a town!
There was no time to lose. Alder picked up the
bundle of coat, boy and sleeping Corn, and moved
as quickly as he could on tired, numb legs towards
Many times Alder almost lost his footing and fell,
but he forced himself to stay on his feet to protect
his two charges. He stomped through the snow,
as shadows began to spread across the mountainside.
Just when he thought he could take no more, the
lights were in front of him, then around him,
and there were people. He felt them take the boy
and Corn from him, and sensed the storm being
left behind as he was led indoors. The last thing
he remembered, before falling into a deep, deep
sleep, was somebody calling his name.
When Alder woke from his sleep it was daylight.
He was lying on a soft, sweet-smelling bed in
a large, bright room. He raised his head to see
more, and saw the bright, smiling face of Corn,
who was sat up looking at him with happy eyes
from the edge of the bed.
She was well!
The two of them broke into huge, wide grins, then
laughed and hugged and cried all at the same time.
They sat this way for a long time, hugging one
another (something Alder had to do very carefully).
After a while, Corn said I have something
to show you. and she climbed onto Alders
shoulder, wrapping and arm around his neck. Lets
go outside she said, smiling.
Alder raised himself from the bed, stood, and
made his way to the open doorway, through which
he could hear sounds of people. Before he had
a chance to think about the fact that the doorway
was easily large enough for him to walk through
while standing upright, the two of them were outside,
and there waiting was a crowd of smiling faces
- including the boy Alder had saved from the mountain
(who, he later discovered, was called Bramblethorn
- Bramble to his friends - and was destined himself
to be a great Hero).
When they saw Alder appear, the people cheered
so loudly it was like a roar. It was a huge crowd,
all of them waving and cheering, and many of them
calling out his name.
It was then that he realised where he was. This
was the town he had left as a boy! Only something
had changed. And when his parents emerged from
the crowd, crying with happiness and relief and
joy that their son was here and alive and in their
arms, Alder realised what was different.
He had grown. He was no longer the size of the
Man-boys. Though he hadnt noticed while
living with the tiny people of Corns village,
he had grown into a real Giant. In fact, he was
even taller than his father, who hugged him tightly
with tears in his eyes.
The townsfolk cheered, and hailed Alder as a Hero
for saving the life of Bramble, who had become
lost in the worst storm any of them had ever seen.
Corn held on tight to Alder, perched proudly on
his shoulder as the people of the town gathered
round to shake his hand and offer their thanks
while others prepared tables of food and drink
for a great celebration, which was to last through
the day and through the night, and Alder was happier
than he had ever been in his life.
This is the story of how The Littlest Giant
became Alder the Great, a hero to
Men, Tiny Folk and Giants alike. But, of course
(for true heroes are never idle), this story is
only the beginning...
* * *
Giant © Jai