Water was once owned by the giants. There were no streams, no rain, no lakes, just a single body of water. The giants sat as if at a table on the 4 edges of the land so if the creatures of earth went north they would meet the northerly giant. Likewise to the south was the southerly giant, and so on. The giants charged a great toll for any access to the water and as a result the world was poor and weak.
However, among the many creatures there were 3 who were most clever. They had become tired of tricking and sneaking and stealing water to live. And being clever refused to beg or pay for the water. Each had an idea of how to change their circumstance.
Magpie traveled east and placed millions of great shining illusions in the night sky above the clouds. Then he flew down to the giant.
“Good evening great one. How have you been?”
“You will not trick me into giving you water again bird,” said the giant.
“That I know your greatness, but do not fear, I have not come for water. Do you see those things high above the clouds; notice how they sparkle in the moonlight?”
“Ah, you are just like your brother Crow. Greedy when something catches your eye.”
“I fear Crow will get one before I. You see Crow is much stronger, and I am too weak to carry one of those things. Perhaps you could help me.”
“I don’t care who gets those things in the sky, besides, I don’t want to help you.”
“You don’t care? What if it’s you who gets them?”
“Yes, if I cannot have one, at least I can prevent Crow from getting one too. I can tell you how to reach them and they will be yours. They will surely make you the greatest of the giants. And perhaps in your gratitude for my help you will break off a portion small enough for me to carry.”
“Hmm, ok, tell me. How can I reach them?”
“First,” said Magpie, “you will need to climb that mountain. And so you know that this is not a trick, I will stay with you and tell you each step you need to take.”
“Ok bird, come rest on my shoulder, and I will climb this mountain.”
The giant climbed and at the summit, he reached into the sky but could not touch the illusions.
“Ok Bird, what now, those stars are still much too far away.”
“Look at the clouds; see how some are high and others are low? You can reach that low hanging one, and once you’ve pulled yourself up, you’ll be able to reach the higher ones.”
The giant pulled himself up onto the cloud, and then up onto the next, and the next, until he stood on top of the highest cloud, far above the land.
“Now what bird? They are still too far away.”
“If you jump I’m sure you can reach the moon, and from the moon, you’ll be able to pick stars like apples from the heavens.”
The giant leapt, stretching out his hands but could not hold onto the moon. And then he fell. The clouds, frightened by the plummeting giant, moved out of his way and he smashed into the land, breaking it into several pieces and died.
Coyote went west, and sat before the great giant.
“Coyote, have you come to beg for water?”
“No, I am here just to talk, and perhaps tell you a tale if you have the time. Did you know in the tribes of the gods there was one who had 10 wives? It’s true, I have seen him. Now this god is much different than the other’s you see, because he also had 10 eyes.”
“10 eyes? That’s not true.”
“I told you, I have seen him. They ring his head like a crown. Each eye watched a different wife. As I understand it this god was rich with many treasures, and he carried his fortune with him everywhere he went. He trusted only his eyes and his sword. The wives (as wives do) knew his weaknesses, he had to sleep. For them it was a glorious time, when all the eyes would close and they could sneak money from his purse and were free to do whatever they pleased.
The god was arrogant however. He had many wives, he was wealthy, and he thought he could see everything. So one day, to save time, he traveled along a quicker route through a forest. A route the tribes of gods rarely take for fear of devilish thieves and ghosts. This god entered with his sword drawn, and walked out naked. Do you want to know why?”
“Was he overwhelmed in the forest?”
“No, there was but one thief, but he was a clever thief whose mind was his only weapon. He did not hide behind trees or rocks, but in the trees themselves. When someone would travel on this road, the thief would wait for the traveler to pass beneath and drop on them from above. It is in this way that the thief was able to disarm the 10-eyed god and steal his fortune. The god returned to his wives, but they did not want a god with an empty purse. And so they found new husbands. Now isn’t that a curious story?”
“I have never heard one like it.”
“Well, it gets stranger. I tell you before I came here, I saw the 10 eyed god, but he was different than before. He had grown 10 arms each with an open hand begging to all the creatures of earth. Let me ask you Mr. giant, when was the last time you looked up?”
Instinct pulled the head of the giant back and he looked to see what was above him. Immediately Coyote bit the toe of the giant.
“Ouch!” the giant said raising his foot from the pain.
Quickly Coyote bit a toe on the other foot, and once again the giant recoiled in pain. Each time the giant set a foot down to raise the other, Coyote bit it. The land trembled from the giant’s stamping feet, and Coyote continued biting. Finally the giant step backward onto the edge of the land. He teetered. He flailed. And then he fell splashing water into the sky and soaking the clouds. The great giant unable to swim sank, and disappeared.
Monkey went to the North. Some giants accepted money or favors as a tax for the water, this one obviously only accepted food.
“Monkey, come over here.”
“Oh, hello giant, how are you today?”
“I’m hungry, bring me some food!”
“Food? Really? But you’ll spoil your appetite. I just spoke with one of the gods, and she says the feast this year is more elegant and more decadent than ever before. They have prepared enough that the guests will eat for a week. I have come up north to wait for the bridge to appear.”
“The bridge? What bridge? I have never seen a bridge.”
“Surely you’ve seen the rainbow bridge?”
“Surely you’re going to get smashed unless you tell me how to get to that feast.”
“You are religious aren’t you? Did you not get invited? Well don’t worry, the gods usually exaggerate these things. I’ll have a word with someone and see if I can’t get you invited next year. I gotta to swim out there to where the lights meet the water before the bridge disappears.”
With that, Monkey jumped into the water and swam until he was sure the giant could not see him. Then he doubled back and snuck ashore and left the giant in solitude. All the giants anger about what monkey had said transformed inside his stomach into a hungry rage.
“I bet that damn Monkey isn’t going to even try to get me invited next year.” The giant looked out at the great aurora borealis, saw where it met the water, and jumped in. He struggled to swim and sank. Holding his breath in the water’s depths he learned how to move. For years and years he swam trying to get to the feast, swimming frantically towards the surface, shooting out of the water towards the sky, trying to reach the bridge. His feet and his legs became one and even his arms shrunk into his side. Every night his hunger became a mournful moaning and every day he tried to reach the bridge.
Monkey, Magpie, and Coyote all headed South but were soon stopped. The shattered land had begun to separate. The last giant paced nervously on his piece of land. He saw the clouds full and heavy with dark water, and watched as the land where his brothers had been became further and further away. He was as a dog before a storm. Then he saw the 3 deceivers each standing on a different piece of land watching him slowly drift away. He knew it was they who had broken the land and filled the clouds. Magpie flew to him.
“Hello giant, don’t you look pitiful today!”
“If you’ve come to finish what you started, I will not be so easily destroyed as the others.”
“I’m not here to destroy you, nor am I going to trick you, lie to you, deceive you, or inflict any other kind of mischief. “
“What do you want then?”
“Merely to say goodbye,” said Magpie, and flew away.
The Giant continued to pace and what was once worry turned to a vengeful obsession. Like all villains with a singular desire, he schemed. His mind tantalized by the many possibilities of revenge. He thought of millions of scenarios, with thousands of tortures. But that greedy Giant could not decide on one. He wanted them all. He wanted to inflict all the punishments his mind had created. A piece of him clung to each of the scenarios and tore him into millions of pieces, each piece a tiny replica of himself.
The pieces of him built boats and weapons and set out to take back the land and enslave the beasts that had taken it from him.