Begin this story here.
“You know, Howl,” the giant said, “I’m starting to think you’re not one of us.” The stone behemoth inhaled through a great stone pipe, exhaled a thick white fog into the cavernous room, and passed the piece to his right.
The boy being addressed smiled slightly. “What?!” exclaimed the next stone monster in the circle. “Gronk, I was just now having a thought almost exactly like that. I was thinking,” and here he took the proffered pipe, sending another great plume of white vapor to hang in the air, “I was thinking, ‘Here we all are, built of stone just like these walls, and here’s this small bug of a person, made out of who knows what!” The other three stone monsters, still silent, squinted their glowing green eyes in Howl’s direction, half-suspicious, half-wondering.
Howl shrugged, and thought to himself: What had he expected to happen, when he made these five half-intelligent creatures? And now, for better or worse, they formed the majority down here in his underground library.
One of his first moments with these creatures seemed to him highly indicative of the simple, comic existence they would lead. There they’d all stood, their blinking eyes taking in sight for the first time, gazing for long moments at their stone fingers, their stone limbs. His curiosity piqued, Howl had silently watched them from a shadowed corner of the room. Three hours went by… hands were lifted up in front of eyes, eyes closed for minutes at a time, one of the giants would stand up for forty minutes or so before sitting down again, and the only sounds were the creatures’ long, slow breaths. When the boy finally stepped into the room’s center to lead them out into the library, they all calmly stood as one, as though sleepwalking. They’d followed Howl through the subterranean hallways, looking about them silently, and it wasn’t until the boy addressed and named each one that they realized they had the capacity for speech. Even then, all they said was each other’s new names, in a slow, rhythmic monotone that finally drove the boy to conjure up a pipe, filled with a mild hallucinogen, to (hopefully) spark some independent thought within his new creations.
A groan suddenly broke the silence, and everyone turned to watch the giant Gronk keel backward, unconscious.
The weight of his collision with the ground shook the entire room. Dust fell from the ceiling. Outside in the hallway, Howl heard the crash of loose stones falling from above. The other four monsters all started making a thin, keen wailing noise, at odds with their imposing appearance.
“Oh, hush!” Howl shouted. All the giants quit their crying simultaneously and looked from the collapsed monster to the boy. “He’s just smoked too much.” He sighed. How much did he want to teach these creatures? I should at least keep them company long enough to know they won’t hurt themselves, he decided. “Let him sleep. I can show all of you around the library, in the meantime. Lord knows, you’ll be down here for awhile.”