This is a folk tale of my own, adapted from a few other Ozark giant stories.
Once a long time ago there were giants all over the Ozarks. They were the sworn enemies of the Ozark clans, and the two peoples fought and fought for hundreds of years. Back and forth they’d go. For years the giants would have the upper hand, then for years the Ozarkers would be in charge. It got to the point where both groups were nearly all wiped out by the other.
One day, an old conjurer from the hills decided that he was going to do something about the giants once and for all. So despite the protests from his family, the old man traveled miles and miles to the cave of the Giant King.
The giants guarding the entrance showed the old man to their King, who was the biggest, meanest looking giant the old conjurer had ever seen, and he’d seen a lot of giants in his day. The Giant King just laughed and laughed, shaking the cave walls around him, at the sight of the frail old man. “What do you want, human?” he hollered down from his throne. “I’m here to end this war.” the conjurer replied.
The Giant King just laughed and laughed even harder than the last time. “We giants would never surrender to you!” the Giant King yelled.
“I’m not here to have you surrender.” the old man replied.
“We giants are far stronger than you, how could you defeat us in battle?”
“I’m not here to defeat you in battle.”
“Than what do you want?” the Giant King became angrier and angrier.
“I’ve heard that you, Giant King, are a powerful conjurer, and so I’d like to make a deal with you. You and me will match wits, if you win you can do whatever you’d like to me and my clan, and if I win I can do whatever I’d like to you and your clan.”
The Giant King was intrigued by the offer and a grin came across his face. The Giant King thought he was so much more clever than the old conjurer. He knew that even if he lost to the human, which could never happen, that the conjurer would surely wish that the giants all die off. The Giant King knew that they were protected from this kind of death by a great crystal that lie at the heart of their mountain home.
“Agreed!” The Giant King shouted.
“Then we will meet on the border between you lands and mine tomorrow morning.”
The old conjurer made his way back home. When he got to his clan he told them all what was going to happen and they wept with fear that he might lose the battle.
The next morning the old conjurer and the Giant King met on the border between their lands. Surrounding them were all their peoples all shouting and yelling.
The Giant King rushed forward in the shape of a bear with claws and teeth crashing down on the conjurer. The old man flew away out of the bear’s claws in the shape of a mosquito. The Giant King pursued the insect in the shape of a bat, but the old conjurer swooped down on him in the shape of a swift hawk. The Giant King tried to escape in the shape of a fast boar, crashing through the woods, pulling up entire trees with his tusks, but the conjurer surrounded the boar in the shape of a great wildfire. Just as the Giant King was burning up he made himself into a toad-stranglin’ rain that put out the wildfire, but the old conjurer made himself into a rushing river that fell down the mountain. The Giant King pursued the old man in the shape of a trout, swimming in the river, but the old conjurer snapped him up in the shape of a big ol’ wolf. The Giant King escaped the wolf’s sharp teeth in the shape of a grasshopper that flew off into the woods, but just as the grasshopper touched the ground, WHAM! and he was caught by the trapdoor spider, who may be small but is the fastest hunter in the forest.
Back at the borderland the giants and the Ozarkers were all worried about what had happened to their leader. Just then, the old conjurer came back all bloodied and bruised. His clan cheered, but the giants all fumed with anger. The laughter and cheering was broken by a big CRASH! from on top of the mountain as the Giant King crawled up out of the ground. He was barely walking and looked half dead to the people down below.
“Surely you are a greater conjurer.” The Giant King yelled to the old man, “What will you do with me and my people?” Still the Giant King thought he was so cleaver.
“Even after all of this you think you are the better man?” the old conjurer laughed, “I know about the crystal in the mountain that protects your people, so I curse you, to stay on this earth until the end of the world. Go and be made into the rocks and bluffs and mountains and be silent.”
And so the giants all rushed toward their cave but none of them escaped the curse. They all became the bluffs and boulders of the Ozarks. Some of them toppled over and became giant rock piles, others curled up on themselves and became the rolling hills. Some say that a few of the giants escaped by jumping up into the sky, but no one knows for sure.