Growing Tides

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And the Monsters he Hunts

One by one and sometimes by two if not by four, others fell to the Garolot. It tossed, thrashed them about with abandon, mostly by accident as it tried to make some sense of where it was... and why. The beast only grew more frustrated and desperate as more and more and more piled into the pit.

The pit was earning its name, but not from the wave after wave of life thrown at it. The Garolot was showing incredible restraint. A beast that size, with that much muscle? Just stepping on the Terrahn or some of the scrawnier Faun would have been enough. But it was merciful, subduing them, at most knocking them out with a back... leg. It was growing less so as blade after blade bit into those spindly limbs, as arrow after notched arrow dug in, as it was smacked and cracked and crushed against by maces and fists and shields abound.

Its purple blood colored the stone basin, glimmering in the torchlight. Its roars, its screams, still sending many a shudder, stilling all but the most hard-hearted. Indeed, it only grew more... heart-wrenching to Olivier. He kept to the sides, watching on, but it was not with terror. Instead, he felt contempt, an ever growing anger and disgust, as the monsters, the true monsters, continued to dog the poor thing.

“And there’s another down!” The Faun declared. The Garolot had swept one of its legs before it spun about, and caught a Faun with it. The small thing looked a lot like Gaz, a dark blue streak flew through the air, and this time blood was drawn, chasing after its keeper. The crowd groaned, then had the nerve to boo the Garolot.

Another Faun hopped down into the pit, smiling almost as wide as their axe. It had a double beard, both edges incredibly jagged and cracked, but it made a solid squelch as it sunk into the Garolot’s legs, making it howl in pain. The crowd cheered for it, even louder as the Faun swung again, toppling it over.

“Get in there and finish it off,” the Faun above commanded, and wiped his brow, as if he had done the work himself. “Boy howdy, was this one spirited.”

The other two in the pit charged at it, their weapons raised high, reflected in the Garolot’s eyes, but those faceted orbs turned towards Olivier. Time seemed to slow between the two, giving Olivier a moment to look around. Though so many have flung themselves at the creature, in such a short bit of time, most of the stands were still filled. It didn’t seem they were impacted any, a solid wall of... things that hungered for blood, that demanded death... There were easily four dozen piled in the ring. Four dozen out of the multitudes, a mass that enjoyed this festival of slaughter, that enjoyed killing things that they deemed beneath them, just because they couldn’t speak. Just because they were different... At that moment, all of Olivier’s disgust faded away, replaced with pity, compassion.

Rage.

“Look out, everybody. It seems ‘Captain’ Olivier is finally joining the fight,” the Faun said. He chuckled, and the crowd laughed, as well. A perfect flock of sheep. “Now who says cowardice doesn’t pay o-”

The crowd gasped, screamed, and the other two in the pit froze. The axe-wielding Faun, though, he didn’t have the luxury. He cried out, holding his leg as he toppled, whimpering, crying softly as Olivier finished his cut with a small flick, giving the arena a streak of red. It might as well have been white to him, though; his eyes were pure red. He turned to the others, pointing his sword at them as he sidled before them, standing in between them and the Garolot. The blade rattled in his grip, the tassels flailing on an unseen wind, stoking the purple fire on his right arm. Its ichor still dripped, hissing on the sands and muck in the pit, while he panted and growled.

“Get back! All of you!” He boomed, fanning to the Garolot. “This is an innocent creature! It meant no harm. It only wants to get away, to be at peace and LEFT ALONE... yet you hurt it! You fight it, for what? To feel bigger, better at yourselves? What makes you any better? No... look at it, then at yourselves. You are all so small! You are the freaks! You are the abominations... All of you are the monsters!!!”

The crowd was silent. It was only a moment, and it was quick to raise their vehemence, their dislike of the truth Olivier poured into the room. They demanded his removal, his imprisonment, some even his death, but Olivier didn’t care. They were white noise in an empty room. They were flies, insignificant specks that feast on the rotten, living in filth, and for years he was treated worse than them? THIS was what he was trying to be “raised” to! He did not lower his blade, nor move an inch from the Garolot.

Even as the Garolot stood and moved over him.

Its orb of a body was barely above his head, just grazing along his shell. It trilled softly, lost to gushing as its jowls lowered. They grazed along his shell, but were quick to rise above and aim towards the other two- three- five- ten. More jumped in. All rules of engagement were lost to the mob, their rumble rising, yet their anger could never hope to match Olivier’s.

“You will not lay another blade, another arrow nor hand on it,” Olivier said, and stepped around the Garolot’s jaws, swinging his blade at the crowd. “Do you hear me!”

“Looks like the ‘Captain’ wanted to make tonight a bit more interesting!” The Faun boomed, laughing. What crowd, what was left of the flock, joined, bleating away alongside, yet it wasn’t joy but bitterness, loathing in those guffaws. “This should be exciting.”

Olivier grimaced, stomach twisting, heart aching more from his words. He was nothing more than an attraction again, but he would not stand by and let an innocent creature be killed. Not by these freaks, the ones who enjoy watching a simple animal die for entertainment. So he drew blood from the crowd, cut where he could, while keeping any blade from reaching the front of the Garolot. It skittered and shuffled, avoiding those trying to get around, all the while forcing it and Olivier into a corner. Its back legs scratched at the smooth wall, but it couldn’t get a foothold at all. It howled, swiped at those that grew close, that Olivier didn’t stop, but cried as some took arms along the wall, shooting down into it.

“Bastards! Bastards!!!” Olivier cried out, swiping. He was panting so hard, almost frothing... and felt something seep down on him. Purple blood; he looked up and saw the archers... but also saw the Garolot. It wavered above him, making sure it was staying in front of those archers, that, no matter what, the arrows would not hit him.

Its mouth sagged against his shoulder. The sounds it croaked out were no longer the mighty roars nor the pained howls... but pitiful mewls. Punctual, as if talking to him... Olivier ached at what it was asking for, what it truly wanted now more than anything.

“No,” Olivier croaked, shuddering, his swings more frantic. “You can’t. Not now. Please?” More and more arrows sunk into it; more hopped off the wall, hacking at the legs behind, forcing it down, but the Garolot refused to fight anymore. Its eyes, once so full of fire, of life, were dimming fast. It gave into the fog too quickly, so wantonly. Olivier tossed his blade aside and wheeled to it, trying so hard to hold its head up, sobbing as yellow filled it. “You can’t. Don’t give in to them.”

He whispered it, pleaded it, begged, groveled for it not to give in, but its head only sunk lower and lower. Its breathing became more threaded, shallow, rattling a touch, and only seemed to grow heavier even as it emptied, far too heavy for one arm. Olivier gulped, and put his right hand against it, growling.

“You can’t give in!” He shrieked, and gasped as the world exploded with light. From his arm. It was swiftly taken by the darkness again as the dark ichor flooded through the Garolot, but it was not red that followed after but green.

The Garolot howled, writhed against his grip. Its eyes filled with purple before oozing green out and down its limbs. Its mouth snapped at Olivier’s head, but was slurped back inside as the green changed to pure light again, enveloping it into a sphere before expanding, swallowing all into its splendor. A high-pitched whine filled the air, and faded with the light. It was slow, agonizing, but left a soft ring through the air, like a chime.

Olivier blinked away the blots that remained, and found the Garolot was whole on the other side. Better than whole, in fact. It had grown thrice its size. Its legs were no longer purple but a soft silver, ending in green talons. Its eyes made everyone in them look so small, and Olivier saw himself reflected in them a dozen times over as it bent down to him.

It trilled, a soft thing, almost as soft as the ring, but the force of it still rumbled the ground around, rippling the sands. It scooped him up in one of its talons, depositing him on the wall as if it meant nothing to it. Everyone in there was nothing to it now.

It looked around the room, at the crowd, but it was none of them it wanted. It continued to look, to turn, until it found what it was truly looking for, and climbed up, heading for the exit. The crowd was silent, still, simply watching after, and a visible shudder ran through them as they heard wood splinter, crack, and then screams, from the streets above. All of them simply watched after, even the Faun narrating it all, then focused on Olivier again... cheering.

“Now, that was something!” The Faun boomed, clapping, whooping and cheering and leading the others to do the same. “Captain Olivier, you have a lot of tricks up your sleeve... or, I guess, in this case, in your arm.”

“He really does,” Claire said, falling over his shoulders. She lowered her voice. “We need to get out of here. Now.”

He did not argue, at least not then, and allowed himself to be pushed up a separate set of steps. They were behind the Faun, hidden in the shadows. Anni waited at the top, and opened the door, ushering them into a storeroom of a local tavern.

Voices could be heard out in the main room. Light flickered underneath the door across, while the rest of the walls were piled in crates. Anni closed the door gently, which turned out to be the front of a massive keg, matching the six others along that wall, and heaved a soft sigh, bouncing a little in place.

“That was awesome,” she whispered, almost a squeal, and clasped her hands together. She leaned towards Olivier, red still lingering in his eyes. “Can I join your crew, too?”

“After what happened down there, I don’t think I want either of you,” he hissed, and pointed at Claire... with his left arm. To his surprise, his right was incredibly heavy... and dark. The red lines in the skin were completely gone. “Where were you, huh?”

Claire shrugged, trilling as her tail flicked behind.

“I figured you had it under control. After all, when you threw your sword away it flew back into your sheathe, so I thought you had a plan.”

Olivier blinked, and looked down at his sash.

“I didn’t even realize that...” He shook his head. “I still don’t know. After all, you find amusement in... that?”

“Eh. Not really, no, but it’s a part of the night life. A good place to go... and find, say, recruits, or information.” She rolled her wrist to Anni. “So, you say there’s a Zephyrian in town that would fit our needs?”

She nodded, bouncing a little with it. “Uh-huh! He’s staying at the Milked Silly. It’s an inn in the Faun district. Not a tavern, no ale, no food, so usually people ignore it save for those only looking to sleep.”

“Or to hide.” Claire giggled, and winked at Olivier. “Now we have a lead. Let’s go.”

“So does this mean I can join?” Anni added, tittering as she followed after Claire and Olivier into the tavern. No one saw them come out. The residents were lined up along the entry, looking out the window as thunderous steps continued to boom after something very big, and something that didn’t care that it was very big. A dangerous combination to be sure... Anni tugged on Olivier’s arm, leaning close to his head. “So, where do you think it’s going?”

“Away. To be alone,” Olivier said, and pushed through the people gathered by the door. He shouldered them, shoved them, taking with them the last bit of red he had, turned to blue. He couldn’t help but look after the Garolot’s pilgrimage, walking off into the plains, and knew all too well what it wanted. “To be happy. I feel sorry for anybody that tries to stand in his... its way.” He looked down at his arm, and saw a line of red pulse through it. Another, stronger, brighter line of red rushed its way through as he clenched his fist, growling softly. “Its stronger than ever before; it is only beginning to understand what it can truly do... It’s not afraid anymore.”

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