The Order of the Naked Giant Killers

and the quest of the giant Pedrós of Meranges

Author’s note: What you are about to read is a fictional story with a medieval setting inspired by the excursion to the Puigpedrós mountain during the stay at the Vents del Cadí refuge, with allusions to real events that took place during the drive and route on foot. For a better understanding of the allegories in the text, I recommend that you read first the chronicle of the activity written by Alba.

When the counties of Urgell and Cerdanya were conquered by the Muslims and ceded to Count Borrell, [1] its inhabitants began to suffer a great evil that repeated year after year, which some called “The Curse of Mafumet.” [2] During the last spring days, a large mountain in the Pyrenees came to life. It became a formidable giant that devastated villages, hamlets, fields, and forests with great cruelty and without discriminating against anything or anyone. Count Borrell sent his vassals to overthrow the giant the first time this calamity occurred, but all efforts were in vain. The monster continued to ravage the region until one day a mysterious pilgrim appeared at the count’s court, asked for an audience with him, and when he was before him he said:

“Sir, I’m Francesc, a pilgrim from distant Extremadura, and I know the best way to defeat this giant who is destroying your land.”

“How?” The count exclaimed. “I beg you to tell me your plan, for I need to know it quickly.”
“I would gladly tell you,” said the pilgrim, “but God our Lord has commanded me the secret, and I cannot reveal it until I defeat the beast. If you make me chief of a good company of warriors, I promise by my faith that I will defeat the giant for you, and I will take you one of his nails as a due pledge.”

As he was a good Christian and trusting in the miracles of the Lord, Count Borrell agreed to what the pilgrim asked and made him leader of the best servants he had. Three were high-ranking knights, good fighters, and experts on the battlefield: N’Alba d’Urgell, Na Rosa-Jana del Ges, and En Josep Maria de les Coves. They also had two wise healers: Na Pilar “la Trementinaire” and N’Alexandra “de les Miraculoses Mans”. They were accompanied by three serfs who were powerful fighters: En Josep de la Bisbal; En Josep “the Writer”, who suffered from a sickness that did not prevent him from fighting valiantly; and En Francesc “the Engineer”, a designer of war machines. Na Marta “the Witch”, Na Rosa “the Alchemist”, Na Maria Antònia de Lorda, and En Joan de las Lomas also belong to the group, as well as two war dogs that accompanied pilgrim Francesc, who were fierce and relentless: the first was Koira “of Endless Breath,” so agile that was able to climb rocks over fifty feet high to chase his prey, and the second was Lluna “the Faithful,” as loyal to his master as the moon is loyal to earth.

The warriors rode to where the giant was and shot him down, throwing him twelve times in the head, following pilgrim Francesc’s wise advice. Once this was accomplished, the pilgrim brought Count Borrell a nail from the giant, which weighed more than six carts full of wheat, and the count paid him back with a thousand gold coins and also gave him an imposing fortress that rose in the mountains north of the Berguedà, in the valley of the river Bastareny, called Windy Tower [3] because of the strong winds that hit that wild land. 

There, pilgrim Francesc led the servants who had been given to him by the count and founded the Order of the Giant Killers, which had the sacred mission of defeating those beasts whenever they awoke and threatened the region. And during the following years, the brave knights of the Order killed more than fifty giants and won the esteem and devotion of the people of the Pyrenees.

Windy Tower, Master Francesc’s fiefdom

One fine spring morning, when the Giant Killers had already achieved much honor and renown, Master Francesc recruited two new fighters who had stood out as mercenaries in the campaigns against the Saracens: Charles, who came from the kingdom of England, and N’Ivan of the Lake, also called “the Troubadour”, who told me this beautiful story and encouraged me to preach it. The Master generously offered them accommodation and they were happy to join the Order. But the next day bad news spread throughout the Pyrenees: a large mountain called Pedrós had become a fearsome giant that had attacked the town of Meranges, in the Cerdanya, and kidnapped its inhabitants. Without wasting time, the knights of the Order of the Giant Killers dressed for battle as they used to: they covered their bodies with sturdy iron armor, which protected them from the blows of those huge creatures, and helmets with visors to guard themselves against the early May sun. For offensive weapons they took a shield reinforced with pieces of leather and two sharp spears; one to throw at the heads of the giants, and the other to fight hand-to-hand if necessary. Once the horses were saddled and fed, they mounted and headed to the north.

But not all the members of the Order took part in the quest: Charles of England, Na Maria Antònia de Lorda, En Joan de las Lomas and Na Marta “the Witch” stayed to guard Windy Tower. Shortly after the knights left, Na Marta came across a puppy who insisted on following her; she led her to the Tower and named her Nila.

The knights who were heading to fight the giant Pedrós continued their journey at a good pace until some armed men with the appearance of foreigners came out to meet them. The leader spoke in similar words:

“God save you! We are the Civil Guardians, and we have orders from the King of Castile to collect taxes on this land. Give us your gold right now, and we will do you no harm.”

Then, En Francesc “the Engineer,” who did not trust those individuals, said:
“Good men, let’s go step by step, as that’s how things are rightly done. Our gold is being carried by a mule that comes further up along the trail, and when it arrives we will give the gold to you, and then we will cut off your heads and limbs and put them in the sacks of the mule, as we also did with the twenty-four evil men we met during our journey.”

Hearing these words, and seeing that the knights surrounded them and faced their spears towards them, the strangers fled to the woods.

The mountain range of the Cadí, where the ambush of the “Civil Guardians” took place. Turisbox

Later on, the great Giant Killers ran into another group of warriors. The chief addressed them in Catalan, but with a more southern accent:

“Hello, brothers in arms! We call ourselves the “Stable Boys”, and our mission is to keep peace in these areas in the name of our lord Berà, count of Barcelona.” [4] As we have lost a horse in a great struggle with some Castilians, we demand one of yours. Give it to us, and we will let you go in peace wherever you’re going.

This time, the Giant Killers prepared the spears and attacked without a warning. The fight was fierce, but in the end, they were able to banish the ambushers. However, one of the bandits managed to take the bag from Na Rosa-Jana del Ges, which contained a hundred gold coins, and while he was running through the woods, he turned around and addressed threatening words to N’Alba d’Urgell, who had defended herself with great courage:

“You’ll pay for this, you bad woman! We’ll meet again soon, and when we do, no one will be able to deprive me of taking your bag and killing that old horse you have!”

The knights ignored that threat and congratulated themselves on winning with minimal losses. By the work of Divine Providence, they reached Meranges without any other setbacks. The arrival of the giant Pedrós had wreaked havoc: many houses were demolished or burned, half the people were missing, and the beast had stolen food and firewood for a private feast. Seeing that the famous Giant Killers were entering the town, the mayor went out into the street with the few remaining inhabitants and said:

“Greetings, Giant Killers! Your glorious actions are well known everywhere, and today it’s us, the villagers of Meranges, who require of your services. But, as giant Pedrós is so tall and powerful, we beg you to go first to a lake called Malniu and to drink from its waters; they are magical and will give you enough courage to slay the beast.”

And so did the knights. Leaving the horses near a devastated farmhouse, [5] they walked to the lake and then began the hike to where the giant lived. The agile dog Koira led the group and paved the way, followed by Na Rosa-Jana del Ges and En Josep Maria de les Coves. The other dog, named Lluna, walked close to Master Francesc, and he was followed by Na Pilar, En Josep de la Bisbal, En Francesc “the Engineer”, Na Rosa “the Alchemist”, and N’Alba d’Urgell. En Josep “the Writer”, N’Alexandra and N’Ivan of the Lake closed the rear and made sure that no enemy surprised them from behind. With the exception of N’Ivan, who was a novice and did not yet have the right to wield a spear, all the other Giant Killers used these weapons as walking sticks to advance through the inhospitable forests, the steep boulders and the cold streams that descended from the peaks after the thaw. The terrain of that part of the Cerdanya, far from any trace of civilization, was as rugged as any other and hostile to human presence.

The Giant Killers, armed with the two spears.

The giant Pedrós

The giant’s evil influence was noticeable as the sun began to turn west: the trees became sparse and then non-existent, and the grass was completely dry as if life had left the mountain. At last, they found the beast, all of it of solid stone, taller than the palatine chapel of Aachen, more robust than the impregnable walls of Constantinople. In its surroundings, there were patches of snow that had not yet melted, and some of the inhabitants of Meranges were held captive there.

As they always did, the knights of the Order threw their spears at the giant’s head, but to everyone’s surprise, the monster did not budge. En Josep Maria de les Coves had the idea to climb his body in several directions and hit him directly on the forehead, but when the knights tried, the beast clung to them like ripe fruit, threw them hard, and stamped them against the rocks. This happened so many times that the knights’ armor began to crack, to the point that, far from protecting them, it was a real nuisance. At that time, N’Alba d’Urgell and N’Ivan of the Lake had the idea of fighting without armor. They pulled away from the fight and took off the iron pieces and then the linen underwear, soaked in sweat as it was. They were completely naked except for their boots and went back into the bloody battle.

As if touched by the divine hand, N’Alba and N’Ivan regained their strength instantly and faced the giant with unusual ferocity, while their naked bodies gleamed as if all the sun’s rays were directed towards them. Seeing this marvelous fact, the rest of the knights followed their example, and the light they cast on each other when they undressed was so intense that the giant fell to his knees with his eyes blinded, roaring loudly. All the knights took advantage of the situation to hit his head with the spear at the same time as the dogs bit him greedily, and so he died.

N’Alba d’Urgell and N’Ivan of the Lake celebrating victory over the defeated giant

The triumphant Naked Giant Killers.

The Giant Killers were astonished: not only had they managed to bring down the most powerful opponent they had ever fought without protection, but they had found in their nakedness a great source of courage and health; they could walk in the snow and lie down in the cold without any problem, and they were no longer ashamed to look at each other’s bodies. When the inhabitants of Meranges were liberated, they also undressed and felt the same as their saviors. They all made their way back in the nude, enjoying the natural environment like never before, and noticing at every step how their spirits grew and how the wounds caused by the giant were healed.

The heroes entered the village of Meranges all naked, and the mayor, accompanied by some villagers, thanked them for their effort with his face soaked in joy and surprise in equal parts, amazed at seeing them naked. His bewilderment was so great that he approached Master Francesc and gave rise to such talk:

“Honorable Master, what’s this about? How come you are all naked, just as God brought you to the world? Don’t you know that this goes against good reason and Christian morality? Do you know no shame?”

And Master Francesc said:
“Mayor, we are all naked because our nakedness has helped us defeat the fearsome giant, and victory has made us forget that shame that God put on Adam and Eve in Paradise. And you should know that it’s a gift from God to be able to walk the world in your own skin! We urge you and your villagers to take off those uncomfortable clothes, now that the summer has come. Your souls will be joyful!”

The astonishment of the mayor and the inhabitants of Meranges was absolute when they heard those words and saw the knights leave the village as naked as they had entered. But the speech of Master Francesc remained in the memory of the villagers, and a few days later, some began to free themselves from their clothes to better cope with the heat of summer. In a few months, all over Cerdanya, Berguedà and Urgell, naked people could be seen happily cultivating the fields, grazing their flocks, and walking along the roads. Although the authorities of Count Borrell and the Church wanted to reprimand them for that practice, in the end, they resigned themselves to accepting it, so common that it had become. And as I tell you, the whole of Catalonia began to undress.

And what can I say about the Giant Killer kinghts? When they returned to Windy Tower, they realized that it had been assaulted while they were out, and although Charles of England, En Joan de las Lomas, Na Marta “the Witch” and the dog Nila defended the walls valiantly, they could not prevent the fortress from being sacked and partially burned. In addition, Na Maria Antonia de Lorda had disappeared, and no one knew where she was. Everyone assumed that the bandits had kidnapped her to demand a reward, but the reality was very different. Today, however, that’s all I will tell you. Rome was not made in a day, and a story as marvelous as this one cannot be explained on a single occasion.

Ivan Vera Martínez (@ivanenconill), as joglar Cabreta


[1] Borrell I of Osona (v789-v820), first removable count of Cerdanya, Urgell, and Osona. His successor, Sunifred I of Urgell-Cerdanya, was the father of Guifré I “el Pelós”.

[2] Masculin name, and especially of Muhammad (DCVB).

[3] The Vents del Cadí mountain refuge.

[4] Berà I of Barcelona (801-820), the first removable count of Barcelona and Girona (817-820), and perhaps also of Rosselló, Rasès, and Conflent. He was the son of William I of Toulouse.

[5] The Malniu mountain refuge.

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