03: Ghul the Watcher
Further Inspections of Giants
Shaitar led the way across the crowded outer city road, and the throughway provided access to the many landing locations for the various either ships. The group continued walking past the magnificent air-ships of different shapes, colors, and sizes. The sound of city life bustled in their ears, from small children’s cries to the laughter of old men.
Kate was overwhelmed by the sheer number of people, and she had only had the choice of interacting with bogglings, a short furry humanoid race who lived in simple villages and homes. What’s this, what’s that, she frequently asked Maverick as she clung to his arm. He tried the best to explain what she was seeing and smelling. Kate enjoyed the experience, and this was new and wonderful. Maverick felt her joy and his heartfelt lifted with the sensation.
The group moved to the main entrance of Dunkir; a thirty-foot tall stone wall ringed the city and at the road ran beneath the legs of the hundred-foot tall metal statue. The eight sentries stationed between the legs and the gate all resembled their iconic guardian. Each of the warriors wore a bronze cuirass that resembled a muscular man, and the extra details came in with a paint scheme of red with blue highlights. A bright red plumed helm mimicked the fire that burned on top of the great statue.
Kate felt a reduction in her grace, her power she felt was back to the levels she had lived with all her life. She projected to Maverick something she wanted to keep secret. “I see why the gods don’t want to come here. The statue does limit my power.”
Maverick nodded, he moved over to Opal, “Hey, still feel your new power?”
Opal turned her head, opening her mouth, then pausing for a moment to formulate her response, “Yes. I take it Kate is not feeling so well?”
Maverick nodded, “Gul the Watcher.”
Kate looked up between the giant statue’s legs, looking to see anything under the giant metal warrior. Not surprising, nothing extra revealed. Mounted on the giant’s undercarriage, she noticed a blazing red symbol of Joshua, the Soul Stone of Chaos. Now actively looking, Kate discovered more symbols of the Council of Eight placed on the statue. She could see the symbol of Way-Walsh, the Soul Stone of Fire and Soolen, the Soul Stone of Water on opposite legs. “I wager that I can find the other symbols of the Council of Eight on this statue if I flew up for a closer inspection.”
Opal had made a study of the giant before, “Yes. You are correct, and the arms hold the symbols of Valtex, the Soul Stone of Air, and Talton, the Soul Stone of Earth. The elemental symbols can be found on the arms and legs. The head has Mil-ike, Soul Stone of Law, and the opposite can be found on the lower, Ummm bottom? Joshua, the Soul Stone of Chaos. The chest has the symbol of Amber, the Soul Stone of Life, and on the back is Malice, the Soul Stone of Death.”
Landis chimed in on the conversation, stroking his black beard and tapping his cane to the cobblestone path. “Legend says that the Gul the Watcher was built by the creator before he left the world in the hands of his children. Gul has never left this valley, though the gods themselves don’t dare come here, their children do. The Blooded is the strongest force here, only balanced by the wealthy merchant class. These nobles get away with a hell of a lot, and they back their hands with raw strength. The merchants counter nobles by showing their misdeeds and occasionally forcefully remove one or two from the city. The blooded has to do something horrible that threatens the city before they get kicked out.”
Opal gritted her teeth, “Meaning the nobles can get away with harming individuals or groups that have little influence.”
Maverick felt her hate, and the memories came tumbling to the surface. He was powerless to stop a Blooded noble from taking her a few years back.
Kate’s eyes narrowed; Maverick tended to get very emotional, this bleeds off into her mind. “We should avoid the nobles so as not to cause trouble.”
Shaitar stopped when he reached the sentries. The guard looked at his group and grinned, putting his hand out. “Shaitar, I thought that was your worm-wood infested cabbage hauling coffin flying about.”
Shaitar looked down at the man. He did not recognize him, but his voice was familiar. The man’s arms were covered in patchwork green scales. He followed the arm and looked directly into his eyes, and one had been replaced with a reptilian yellow iris; his other was still normal human blue. This man had started the Volothian conversion process; he then, with shocking familiarity, knew who he was. “Mathew?”
The sentry smiled, “You got it, boss.”
Shaitar felt a bit sick, gripping Mathew’s hand, he remembered he was a friend. They had gone their ways after the fall of Canandance. He went back home looking for his family and tried to salvage what he had left. “What happened?”
Mathew rolled his eyes, “Got caught, halfway the skinners are doing their best to make scrolls out of my flesh. The Knight-Captain Jeralds himself rescued me from that bloody hell. We call him the Green Knight; he’s a good man. I owe him a lot. When he found out I was once in the military, he asked me if I wanted to work for the forces of Dunkir. I accepted.”
In a concerning voice, “What about your wife and kids?”
Mathew went silent, “Snakes got’em. I could not find them, the entire village had been burned to the ground. Nobody was left alive or had been captured as a slave for the greater good of Voloth.” he spat out the words.
Shaitar put his other hand across Mathews. “Sorry to hear about that.”
“Life sucks, then you die. Well, it looks like you all are still together. Is that Opal I see in the back?” Mathew pointed at the blue dressed busty brunette. “You are a sight for the wandering eyes.”
“Yes, still here.” She studied his pattern of scales; he was right. The conversion process had been stopped, and he had patches on his exposed legs of green scales where the flesh had not been stripped and then healed. The Volothian Blooded, known as the Converters, could heal; they shaped their magic to replace the skin with scales.
“So what brings you to Dunkir?”
“We got into a shakeup with a Volothian patrol a week ago. Need to set down for repairs, besides Maverick needs a proper bath.”
Mathew turned to see a strange brunette with bone white horns poking through her forehead. She was holding his hand, her red eyes drifting around at the different distractions. “Well, another one? One day you will fall for one you can’t resist, or she’s going to kill you. If you’re lucky, it’s both!”
Maverick just made a grin, “Nice to see you to Mathew.”
Mathew pointed at the little blue dragon draped around her neck, “Please, no wild animals in the city, is that little beast trained?”
Torac raised his head and, in a squeaky voice, “Excuse me?”
Mathew shook his head in surprise, “Oh, he talks. In that case, sorry. I thought you were just a little flying lizard. Please behave yourself.”
The tiny dragon just made a humph sound.
“Well, welcome to Dunkir; I will swing by the Chimera when I get off shift. Got to do some catching up, my friends.” He pointed his spear to the inner city, “Have a nice day.”
As Mathew watched his old unit, all walked past him, saying a quick, Nice to see you again, Sure catch you later. He was sure to learn all about what his old friends were up to since he had last seen them a few years ago.
Careful what you ask for; you just might get it.
The Wave Rider is a tavern that the group frequencies when they come to town. The building is three stories high, made of stone and wood. The overhangs that prevent the slosh from the windows above are reinforced with brown clay tiles to allow the refuse from following down directly in front of the entrance. The Silver Blades moved to take seats up near a window; the smell of sweaty people, urine, and beer are intense at times. The window seat allows the street’s stench to enter the building providing fresher air to the occupants. After ordering a round of Dawn’s Break, local ale, and favorite crew, they settle comfortably.
Kate takes her brew, sips it the foamy drink. Her eyes widen, she starts to gag, quickly spitting the contents out on the floor nearby, “By the gods, this is horrible!”
Maverick takes a swig then chugs it down. Quickly whipping the foam off his upper lip with his arm. “Tastes fine.”
Kate stared at him in horror. Her eyes widened, “You gotta be kidding me. How can you say this tastes fine! I will have to discuss with you what tastes fine.”
Opal giggled, “My dear Dawn’s Break is an acquired taste. You wanted a taste of city life; this is life.”
Maverick pushes the mug back to her, “Another?”
Kate stared at the mug, “No. nope.”
Torac climbed off her shoulder and onto the table, shoved his muzzle down into the ale mug. Gulping the ale down, he lifted his head with and let out a tiny burp.
Shaking her head in the discus, “You like that drivel.”
Torac leaped back onto her shoulder and wrapped around her neck. “I can’t get drunk with such small amounts, but the taste is surely delicious. The caramel color goes good with the sour raisin aroma giving the drink a bitter flavor.”
Maverick raised his hand, getting the attention of the waitress, “Another please.” The blond, middle-aged woman, slightly overweight, nodded in his direction while serving another customer. “Well, the dragon knows good ale.”
Shaitar finished his drink, “Well, crew. I am taking Landis, and we are going to see about getting additional provisions. He has some interesting ideas about fortifying the Chimera. So meet us back here at dusk. Have fun, don’t get into too much trouble.”