Skye was a civilization of giants on the Eastern Steppe, between about 600 and 1005.
Skye was notable for being the first giant society to practice organised harvesting of humans, who they kept as slaves for sustenance.
Towards the end of its history, Skye was home to Leguin, who is believed to have either been a powerful noble, a military dictator, or the Queen of Skye.
Before the seventh century, giants roamed the eastern part of the continent as highly dangerous hunter-gatherers, sustaining themselves primarily on hunting and devouring other species – particularly humans.
This state of existence brought giants into inevitable conflict with groups of humans organised into tribes, and it is widely believed that the earliest steppe tribes organised themselves for the purposes of protection against such predators. Scholars disagree on precisely why, but it seems likely that the earliest giants subjugated the Eastern human tribes successfully, while failing to do so in the West. Some contend that this was due to Western mastery of the horse and highly mobile styles of warfare, while others conclude that eastern tribes were simply limited by the presence of the Eastern coast and the forbidding ice sheet beyond it.
Near the Eastern coast, Giants appear to have discovered a primitive form of druidic magic (or perhaps made a deal with those who could wield it) which allowed them to grow limited crops in the harsh cold. This would doubtless have been completely insufficient to sustain the prevailing giants, but the resulting bounty was enough to sustain local human populations. As a result, giants near the coast began practising a more structured form of slavery – keeping selected populations of human for agriculture and breeding, while using the rest for food. Over time, this system would become even more complex: modern scholars believe that a high level of differentiation between slaves was already in operation by the ninth century, with human slaves with access to sorcery or druidic magic used for security and defence. The highest tiers of slave were even taught the written language of Skye, which likely formed the basis of contemporary Trellech script.
At its greatest extent, Skye probably covered the entirety of the Eastern Coast and judging from folk tales about giants from the Western Tribes, likely extended reasonably far into the eastern parts of the steppe.
Giant civilization was not federated or divided in the way that human societies tend to be – and most scholars agree that Skye was probably one fairly homogenous entity which sprawled continuously over vast distances, and did not function on a centre-periphery axis like most settled human groups do. Scholars do disagree strongly on the population density of Skye at its height – some believe that Skye was a vast, sprawling continuous city akin to a much larger version of modern-day Trellech City. Others contend that the reality of giant physiognomy would not allow this to easily manifest, and instead prefer the idea that Skye consist of a large, level plain of single-storey buildings with multiple centres such as arenas, parks, markets and monuments. Scholars also significantly disagree on the number of human slaves in Ancient Skye.
Giant societies also vary from human societies in that they seldom fall due to long-term structural problems over multiple generations. This may be because giants are significantly longer-lived than humans, but even more primitive giant tribes tend to die out very suddenly, whereas human societies tend to collapse slowly and over longer periods of time. Skye was no exception, and appears to have been perfectly functional – thriving even – just a few short years before it collapsed.
Unlike so many other features of Skye, historians are universally agreed on the cause for its downfall – the sudden disappearance of slaves. This process was kickstarted in 1002 by a revolt among privileged slaves who were suddenly asked to fight for entertainment by a relative of Leguin. The revolt was soon joined by Sinhus the Mage, whose power quickly turned the tables against the relatively feeble slaves, and took them into hiding.
Some historians speculate that Skye’s collapse was still reversable at this point. Leguin – who may or may not have led the government – was successful in persuading her peers to enact the most brutal response possible to the revolt, famously declaring that “There will be no recapture.” This hardline policy led directly to The Harvest of Blood, in which the majority of Skye’s thousands of slaves are thought to have perished.
This remarkably hot-headed response to the revolt was incredibly unsuccessful. Not only did it fail to draw out the slaves who were in hiding, but it also culled the precious slave stock upon which Skye relied to function properly. Leguin, however, did not live to see the consequences of her actions. In 1003, she and a posse of giant warriors set off across the ice sheet in pursuit of Sinhus and the fleeing slaves, where she met a watery grave at the hands of Selidie.