It was a quiet morning at the gypsy camp in Rathe Mountain, the gentle roar of the campfire occasionally interrupted by the slow heavy footsteps of the hill giants in the distance. Watching the gargantuan cyclops fight the giant skeletons, with their heavy lumbering blows reverberating from the canyon walls, had become hypnotic, almost soothing. Life around here seemed to occur at a grander, albeit slower pace - lulling me into a false sense of calm and security.
Just then, I noticed a small dust cloud off in the distance rapidly approaching , with a large shadow not far behind. Slightly alarmed, I stepped back behind the camp only to watch this dust cloud pass by at an incredible rate of speed, going so fast I could not see the shape of the source - only that it was small like me, as it receded quickly into the distance. In contrast, the angry cyclops that followed in tow seemed to stumble by clumsily with slow exaggerated steps, in what felt like an eternity after the dust cloud had passed. After they both passed I took a few steps forward to see if could discern the tracks left behind by this mystery speed demon.
No sooner than when I crouched down to examine the tracks, I was knocked over by a fellow halfling druid, no taller than me, who had circled back unknowingly. "CYCLOPS CHASING ME!", she yelled loudly, as I hastily attempted to pick up some of the pies that had fallen out of the bag, now strewn along floor right in the cyclops path. Naeila also attempted to pick up as many precious pies as she could, but the angry cyclops was now unshackled, bearing down on both of us full speed.
Instinctively, I moved away from Naeila and began flailing my arms wildly, moving back and forth sideways to try and catch the cyclops attention, as I was certain the creature had poor peripheral vision - but this gave Naeila enough time to at least slow down the cyclops again. She looked exhausted, but still somehow managed to take a quick bite of one of my berry pies that she had picked up. "You made this? How did you get the crust so flaky?" she asked, while surrounding the large brute with pesky flickering flames.
"I think it might be these fresh basilisk eggs I found nearby - they have quite the frothy consistency when whipped properly, and folded into butter slowly", I yelled back from the far end of the canyon, calling upon a nearby swarm of bees to get the cyclops attention and run full circle back to me.
Naeila shouted back, "I found a great new recipe for bear sandwiches you must try - but you'll need to braise the meat in this special jug of sauces at low simmer for a few hours. I can lend you some of my sauce", as she called for lightning to strike the cyclops.
This went on several times as we exchanged recipes, until the exhausted cyclops finally fell with a mighty thud - either due to sheer exhaustion from running, or from listening to our inane chatter. If you have ever wondered why there is no such thing as an inappropriate time for halflings to discuss food, you need only look at this favorite childhood game all young halflings play in Rivervale, "Keep the pie away". The objective is to surround and taunt the hungriest (and usually slowest) halfling with ever increasing descriptions of tantalizingly savory foods, while keeping said foods just out of reach.
Naeila went to inspect the fallen giant, now on the floor on its last breath. "This isn't the cyclops I was looking for - but I was able to use a slice of your berry pie to grant him his last wish, and convince him to give up the whereabouts of the powerful cyclops Tarskuk. He's right over the pass this way, near the hill giants. Well, what are you waiting for?", she said excitedly. I packed up the last of my fallen pies, and we set off while sharing recipes for rabbit and vegetable stews - not realizing the danger we would soon be walking into.