There are a people from the mountains of the north, they are a physically large and imposing folk but also a simple folk. These people will never be great scientists or abstract thinkers, but they are rugged and sturdy people, able to eke out an existence in the hostile environs of the uncivilized mountains. Not long ago they were wanderers but a few generations ago they learned to cultivate edible moss and lichen and therefore started building permanent, albeit small, settlements. After the advent of farming these mountain people discovered edible fungi in the deeper caves around their villages. Between the moss, lichen, and fungi they had the essentials nutrients to sustain themselves, but not to thrive. The males of these mountain giants travel far afield into the boreal forests surrounding their villages, hunting to provide meat for their families in the peaks.
The mountain giants are a suspicious and superstitious people. Although they are more prolific than they have ever been, they fear what they do not know. They only know the mountains and the forests down to the foothills. Beyond the foothills is the unknown to them and countless generations have woven terrible tales of what lies beyond.
Ferd is of these people. He is the youngest of a large family but he was also born early and his growth was greatly stunted as a result. He was sickly and weak and although he was teased by his peers his brothers protected him from the roughest bullies. He was not competitive in the boy games that lead to manhood, but he did survive.
One day he went with his mother to the caves to gather some mushrooms. It was late in the season and the weather was poor but warm. It happened that they stumbled across a rousing bear wondering if it was spring already. Of course the bear was hungry and thought to make Ferd into a snack. Ferd's mother rushed the bear armed with nothing but her hands in order to save him. She emerged victorious but seriously mauled. Ferd did not know the way back to the village and stayed with her until she died. It was damp and cold in the cave so by the time hunters came to find him he was feverish and delirious. Ferd's head swelled and he passed in and out of consciousness for days.
This sickness was not unknown to Ferd's people. They had developed a mythology about it. Although the disease is rare it also rarely leaves survivors. Those that do survive are changed. The mountain giants believe that the fever represents a spiritual struggle for the hosts body. If the host dies then they have passed on to the afterlife. If the host survives, their personality is so changed that they are still considered to have passed on and the body now is inhabited by some kind of frivolous elf spirit or witch. In such cases the host is exiled in order to spare the village of it's mischief but ritually equipped in order to appease the elf in the hope that it will not harry them from outside.
When the fever broke and he awoke he was alone. Ferd felt strangely alert and unnaturally lucid. He felt like his life up until this point was like a dream and he had some difficulty remembering some of it. Ferd found that he was surrounded by hunting spears, skins of water, large portions of dried bear and buck meat, and several skins of deer and fur of bear. He tried to find his way back to the village but was unsuccessful. He ran into one hunting party but strangely they threw rocks at him and vanished into the woods.
Ferd survived for a time in the woods. One terrible winter forced him to seek game beyond the edge of the trees. He was fearful but hunger drove him. Ferd had mixed success, enough to drive him further south. One day he stumbled down to a wall where there had been a battle of some kind. He assumed that the faeries were at war because the corpses were so tiny. Ha gathered some rations from the bodies and passed through a break in the wall. He thought he must surely be in the faerie lands now because the weather was fair and food just wandered around the countryside. Ferd did not realize he was culling a shepherd's flock. Ferd did not keep in one place for long, not to avoid capture, but because he was curious about this strange and fertile place. Unfortunately, Ferd fell victim to the unfamiliar countryside. Ferd tripped and fell into a ravine. With several broken bones and a blow to the head he passed into unconsciousness.
When Ferd awoke he found himself warm, fed, and in a bed. He was being tended by some kind of faerie. She was fair, tiny, and more delicately built than any creature he had ever seen. After a brief recovery he stayed to repay her, and her village's kindness with labor. He stayed for a few years, learned the language, and learned to perform the tasks he was most suited for, which turned out to be carrying heavy loads and erecting large structures.
Unfortunately again, Ferd was not of these tiny people. He was pitied more than loved and was not handsome by the standards of these fragile folk. When puberty struck it was not a pretty picture for Ferd or his first courtship. Ferd was confused and enraged about these strange rules of mating, something that he was too young to learn from his people before he was cast out. It was no help that the social delicacy of faerie life was so nuanced. Ferd was too large to fight or put in gaol so he was driven out by an enraged mob of torch and fork wielding farmers.
Ferd travelled north for weeks up the trade road. Ferd did not know it but he found himself at the very same wall he had crossed several years before. Being as large as we was, trained in construction, and fluent in the language Ferd was put to work at the wall, maintaining it and defending it. Except for the parts of distant past Ferd can barely remember, this last year at the wall could be considered happiness.