05: Temptation of False Power, Fools!
The sun lowered behind Dunkir’s thick outer stone walls. The shadow of Gul the Watcher stretched across the countryside, his held sword pointing to the outer mountain range. The city life slowly changed as the merchants packed their wares back into their carts and started going home for the evening. The streets emptied of people, save the ones heading for the nightlife the darkness had to offer.
The Wave Rider, the tavern and inn most frequented by the crews of the air-ships that visited Dunkir, is packed tonight. People of all shapes and sizes filled the common’s room, the stuffy smell of spilled ale, piss, and body odor almost overwhelming. One reason the Chimera’s crew enjoys a window seat is to let the night breeze in. Surprisingly no drunken fool has started a fistfight tonight. The Wave Rider’s tables and chairs are the most cost-effective and cheapest that can be crafted, just for this reason.
Kate’s eyes were red, more red than usual. She had discovered she enjoyed wine, the grog that passed as ale here just did not settle in her stomach. Maverick kept drinking the house special, the concoction known as Dawn’s Break. Shaitar kept his head clear and only consumed when the occasion called where etiquette would be needed. Opal hung with two tankards, both half full, and she took drafts out of each one, one at a time. Rolland had a piece of rolled parchment out, being held by two mugs to keep the paper from coiling back into itself. Landis pointed and commented on some of the diagrams of the new Black Dragon ballista design Rolland worked up. The table they sat at is covered with loaves of bread and bowls of soup with a broth thick and green with strange lumps of what could be called meat.
Kate was sure she saw double, her voice slurred a bit. “So I like the red stuff.” She pointed at the nearly empty bottle, a flash of light in her eyes, the bottle’s liquid bubbled and filled back up. Giggling, she put her fingers to her lips, “Shhhhh, don’t tell the owner I can make more. “ Taking her fingers and pinching them together, “As long as I still got a little left.”
Maverick just laughed, “Nice!” He had already had too much to drink as well. He enjoyed the time off the ship while in Dunkir. He usually would try to find someone to share his bed, not tonight.
Shaitar watched his crew, these people he had fought alongside for years. The newest member, a new god who unlocked a hidden power inside him. He always was trying to balance what was needed and what he wanted. Freedom or slavery, fighting the battles he could win and running from those he could not. Now, hope had been delivered to him, all he had to do was go to the Temple of Ascension in Durith, and he could ask for the Council of Eight for aid against the Gods of the Spire. Many times victory was within his reach, only to have a Blooded, a Demigod, or an actual God to pull the spoils from him. The Blooded were the most common, descendants of the gods.
Shaitar watched over the crowd; this place had many different issues and provided a great deal of distraction for all who visited. He was to meet up with his old friend an hour or so back at the Chimera. He took a sip of his water, and the bar keeper always looked at him funny when he ordered just water. Keeping his wits about him was what made him a good leader, still staying alert to pull the weight and push his people when necessary. Much like his crew, a moment of peace was welcome. He felt like he could let his guard down, maybe just for a moment. He looked at one of the mugs of Dawn’s Break on the table. Rolland always ordered him one; he hardly ever touched the drink.
The Pompous before the Fall
The door to the tavern opened wide, a green-scaled man entered. His silk blue and white shirt and loose trousers marked him as someone wealthy. His bald head had a golden-scale pattern that resembled a spiral with a silver v in the middle. His red serpentine eyes roved the tavern, looking for something. Walking to the tavern’s main counter, several people moved out of the trio’s way.
The serpentine man had two bodyguards with him, both serpent-like with similar green scales. The muscled men each alone possessed strength to bench press a good three people. They wore little in armor, having the same spiral v crest on a red-dyed shirt. One burly bodyguard held a dazzling number of different weapons strapped to his belt and back. He had a club, a spiked mace, two daggers, a sword, a shield, and a crossbow with a quiver filled with bolts.
The first serpentine man turned to face the gathered crowd. “Ahh, how is the favored guest of Dunkir doing tonight? One of you lucky ladies will go home with me tonight to pay homage to the Dunkir’s finest nobles. The House of Shithen is looking for the finest of ladies from the lowest of the ilk. You will be wined, dined, and bathed for entertainment by my brother and sister.” The crowd got silent, except for the drunkest who had not noticed that a man of importance had entered the establishment. “Who wants to volunteer to be tonight’s entertainment?” His forked tongue slipped out, wiggled for a brief moment, and slipped back into his mouth. “Somebody new, somebody who has not tasted my brother’s delights yet.”
His eyes darted across the room. First, he was attracted to the big-chested woman, and he had an excellent memory. She had a ship and a crew she protected last time. She was easy to convince to join them; a little threatening always worked. Seated next to her was a new woman, an infernal with small white horns jutting out of her forehead. He clapped his hands several times. “You there horny with the blue lizard around her neck, come here; my brother likes ones with horns, and so does my sister. Especially if you are a sabuci, then things can get interesting.” The horned woman continued giggling as if she had not been listening to him at all.
The little dragon craned his neck around to see the arrogant little serpentine man. He let out a little growl of defiance.
His eyes glowed briefly, and he snapped his fingers. The snap was loud, and the breeze sent waves of force, mildly across the room. The minor burst of air was enough to tip Kate’s bottle off the table and onto the floor, breaking and spilling her red wine in a mushy pattern. The glass and drink are mixed.
She just giggled even more, “Aww, the bottle fell to its doom. Bad, bad bottle!”
The serpentine man just grinned, “Take her; we will clean her up when we get to the mansion.” One of the two guards moved forward, who did not carry the small arsenal of weapons. Crossing the room full of tables and people, he stepped closer to Shaitar and his crew’s seats.
Shaitar bounced up and pulled the sheath off of his sword; the sword was tall and long, not a great full blade where two hands required. He held it forward in a defensive stature. “No. I will not let a Shithead take another member of my crew.”
Opal tried to stand, Kate was too busy pointing at the funny men to make any sense. Maverick was too drunk to think about much else as well, though his primitive mind was now looking at a chair to pick up and use as a weapon. Landis and Rolland stood up, pushing their chairs back, and each was looking forward to trying out their new abilities on a piece of Blooded Noble trash. “Only get involved if it looks like I am in over my head.”
Landis and Rolland both knew that Shaitar’s confidence was boldly showing; he did not like to take risks he did not think he could win. He was not a coward, and this was the practice of warfare. For the longest time, they all had to run from the Blooded because of the powers they had. He had faith in his new abilities, though not much training in practical applications.
The serpentine man gave a sarcastic response, “Ahhh, over your head. Do you know who I am?”
Before he could answer, Shaitar jabbed at him. “A fool. Nothing more, nothing less.” He quickly studied the two guards’ position, and the advancing one had stopped outside of his sword’s reach.
“Fool? I am Richard Shithen, the third born of the great Arnold Shithen. You pleb, need to learn your place.” He turned his focus on the walking arsenal, “Hand me my number three and the shield.” He reached his hands out. The arsenal quickly pulled the longsword from the sheath and placed it into Richard’s right hand. He moved to Richard’s left and strapped the shield to his arm, much like a knight being equipped by his squire.
Richard rolled his forked tongue, and his ‘s’ added a bit of his to hiss voice. “So let’s go outside into the street for a proper lesson. I don’t want to kill all of the spectators, do I?” He pointed his sword at the door, gesturing for Shaitar to go first.
Shaitar grinned. He had seen this man in battle before, and he has cut down a person walking to the door before him. “As I said, a fool. I know not to be the first one out when facing a Shithead. Let the shit roll, you go first.”
Richard hissed, “Shithen! You will learn respect pleb. I will teach respect to you personally, then I will take the infernal, and she will please us until we leave her broken body on your ship!”
Richard snapped his fingers and followed by the two guards. “Are you coming, fool?”
Kate noticed that the tavern was emptying to go outside. “What’s going on?”
Maverick took a chair, mostly to help him stay upright and as a potential weapon, “You know those crappy nobles we wanted to avoid. It looks like that one wants to take you home for the night.”
Kate tried to focus, “And do what?”
Opal digging through her sash, “Force you to.” The memories of her experience at the hands of the nobles was not a favorable one. Her anger was begging to fill her; she was drunk and had trouble even casting a spell right now. “I can’t use my powers when I am drunk.”
Kate slapped Opal’s shoulder, “I can. You want me to go beat him up?” She started hiccuping, “Plant my spiked tail in his head?” hiccup, “I do that for you.” The hiccuping increased where she could not say another word.
Maverick slid the chair closer to the door. “Only if he beats up Shaitar. Shaitar only talks shit when he is ready for a fight. It means he’s serious. He even used his famous fight’n wards,” pausing, “words.”
Rolland looked back at his inebriated companions, “You three better sit this one out. Besides, this will be a good chance to see if we stand a chance against the Spire.”
Kate put up one finger, she noticed she had only one finger up, “I can help, I am a goddess!”
Landis had a smile, “Yes, a very drunk goddess. You got us this far; let us see what we can do. Watch the show. You can see them from the window.”
Opal tried to stand and sat right back down, “I saw that coming. I hate these people. How about after we sober up, go blow up their home for a change.”
Maverick slid the chair back to the table and turned his attention to the two warriors as they moved out a respectable distance from each other.
Landis stayed inside to protect his comrades while Rolland moved outside with the gathering spectators. Torac climbed off of Kate’s neck and slid outside through the window.