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  1. Exhausted and racked with pain, Axykarius collapsed on the hillside while a devastating storm raged on. As he lay in the mud struggling to breath, rain washed the blood from his wounds and the battlefield around him. Even though he couldn’t muster the strength to move, he still clenched his fateful mighty maul tightly in hand; for Axykarius was weary of the stone giant still. Stone giants were known to be awfully resilient and terribly strong, able to crush a man to death in its grasp and throw trees as far as a catapult could throw stone. This stone giant though, was clearly dead; its head smashed to gravel. It had once stood as tall as a four-story building, with arms as thick as men, a chest fused with gems and granite, and legs maintaining an eight foot walking stride. In open field such a creature could have outran any prized horse, and nearly keep up with Farwalker, the legendary wild stallion. On this particular night, however, this stone giant was outwitted if not out-lucked by Axykarius and his soldiers. As Axykarius plummeted towards unconsciousness, he couldn’t help but feel grief for his fallen Lieutenants, Keeno and Tarsten, who miraculously saved his life before the stone giant could crush him to death. The mighty maul that Axykarius held, rightly named Shatterstrike, had indeed shattered the massive head of the stone giant, but only after Keeno and Tarsten felled a massive oak tree in an attempt to crush the giant in its descent. When the stone giant was struck by the falling tree, he crumpled to the ground, letting go of Axykarius who struggled in his clutches. In an immediate rage the giant flung the tree off of himself, hurling it toward the brave Lieutenants who were too shocked to escape its over-looming shadow. Axykarius watched in horror as his best officers, and lifelong friends perished. Gripping his giant maul in two hands, he leapt towards the weakened monstrosity. The giant, still kneeling, turned in a roar to confront his fateful foe with a granite fist, but was too late as Shatterstrike met his skull with relentless force. The stone giant was defeated, at the cost of a company of eighteen soldiers, two Lieutenants, and soon to be one captain. Only two soldiers remained: Joysith and Slikyte. Two men training to become officers of the Jenn-Kellon navy, found themselves alone with their dying captain. Originally sent through a mysterious portal decades earlier, the Jenn-Kellon navy was commissioned by council to explore this new realm and set up colonies if habitable. When the navy arrived on the other side of the portal, they commenced Project Independence by setting up the first base, Howling Wolf; on the coast of a lake they called Freedom Lake. In recent years the lake was renamed to Crystal Lake, due to its crystal clear waters and incredible depths. One morning when the weather was fair, a ship was sent out to find the northern border of Crystal Lake, and to explore its shores for habitable living area. When the crew returned from their mission amidst a brewing storm, they spoke of immense forests and mountain ranges, littered with plenty of hunting game as well as enormous “monsters.†The crew went on to give a detailed list of some of the animals, ranging from deer and wolves to menacingly giant spiders and oversized rats. Some records described a rock-like creature of great stature that could rip trees out of the ground with ease and hurl them great distances. According to these findings the Jenn-Kellon navy saw fit to continue the mission using a small military regiment to establish a settlement in the woods due north of the coast. This second mission contained 2nd Freedom Company, led by Captain Axykarius. The lake waters were rough as a storm overhead raged with immense winds and booming thunder. Despite difficulties sailing, Axykarius and his men made shore without casualties or ship damage. This would all change however, when the team was ambushed by a fearsome stone creature lurking in the forest. Joysith and Slikyte knelt next to their brave Captain as he gave them final instructions. The two men were charged with burying their fallen comrades to keep the creatures of the forest from ravaging the bodies before another military expedition could be sent to retrieve the corpses. Their second task was to bury the Captain as well, once he had passed. The final task set to them before Axykarius died was to deliver his letters of recommendation and warning. The Captain’s letters, written during their voyage on the vast lake, detailed the service of the two soldiers as exemplary over the past two years, and recommended them for promotion. His final letter was to be written by Slikyte on the voyage back to the naval encampment. This letter gave a vote of approval to move forward with the colonization of the hillside forest, with a warning of danger from the local creatures. Although the stone giant they encountered was alone, Axykarius suggested there may be others in the region, since the first exploration crew had recorded multiple sightings. At the end of his exasperated instructions, Captain Axykarius murmured four words to Joysith and Slikyte; the same four words that had been their company motto: Ours is the Fury. With his final words Axykarius perished. The terrible storm died with him as the rain stopped and the clouds dissipated. Much like the fallen Captain, ‘this was the storms end’, thought Slikyte. Upon returning to the Howling Wolf encampment and delivering the letters, the two soldiers were promoted to officers. The Jenn-Kellon navy heeded the words of Axykarius, and proceeded with the colonization cautiously. Joysith and Slikyte were given command of a small company to take back to the hillside forest, and build a fortified encampment for future settlement plans. The two officers chose to remain in the new village with the consent of their naval commander. Soon after the high stone walls were built around the encampment, settlers were moved in to populate the area, with Joysith and Slikyte leading them. They never forgot the final words of Axykarius, and how he died heroically with the storms end.