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Short Story (Final Part): The Colossal Dwarf

Tim White

Writer, Designer
Apr 26, 2016
72
46
200
#1
The final part. Read the previous instalment, “The Gilded Heart”.


“May gold guide you, my children ...” And with that, the Duke retired to his throne room through the thickest stone doors Gidro had ever seen. He tried to peek inside, at the golden glow beyond - but the doors slammed shut, shaking the ground. He smiled at the Phaestian coat of arms ornately carved across both doors - the Duke’s huge axe set against the backdrop of Mount Phaestus, and a strange spherical object amidst the axe head.

The crowd murmured, and no one seemed willing to move along. He met the eyes of a woman who quickly glanced the other way. It seemed like no one knew where to put their faces. That was logical he supposed, since they were all staring into the abyss.

Gidro slumped his shoulders and shuffled away. “Lo! Hold your headstrong horses there, little man!” Gidro looked back and saw a young woman striding purposefully towards him. At least he assumed it was a young woman. She was covered head-to-toe in black leather, decorated with golden trim. Fierce eyes peeked out between the equally-black bandana and her red mop of hair. More importantly, her crossbow was pointing right between his eyes.

The woman seemed to realise what she’d done and lowered her bow. “My sincerest apologies my good man!” Her voice was strong and assured. “I’m so used to aiming this thing lately, I sometimes forget I’m not on the battlefield!”

She studied his fearful face. “Hang on just a demon-slaying second ... You are Gidro Brunnsen, are you not?”

She knew him? “Er, yes My Lady.” He managed. “At your service, My Lady.” He instinctively curtsied.

“Yes ... so you are ...” She looked left, then right, then pulled down her bandana revealing a strikingly pretty face. “My name is Suvius Magnanimous ... Bodyguard to the Duke. Daughter of the Duke. Heir to the throne of Phaestus.”

Gidro swallowed hard. What had he done now?

“You heard Papa’s speech, did you not?” Gidro nodded. “So you know that Underlord Kasita is on her way here, to the capital?” Gidro nodded again. “And you are clever enough to realise that despite what my lily-livered father said in his oh-so-eloquent speech, we most certainly do not have everything under control? Hmm?” Gidro thought about it, then nodded again.

“Yes ...” she said, looking him up and down. “My Uncle Loa told me about you. My brother, Saffire, told me even more - an artist with a penchant for gold-blooded killing! An honorary son of Phaestus if ever there was one, hmm? Does that sound like you, my little man?”

Gidro shrugged. “Sort of, My Lady.”

She hollered and slapped him on the back. “This is no time for modesty, my good man!”

She looked left and right again, as though trying to evade a pursuer, then pulled the bandana back over her face. “Alright, now that we each know who we are, you’re coming with me.”

“My Lady?” But Suvius grabbed his arm and yanked him after her down the hallway.

*

Suvius led him into a mightily fine living space: golden walls adorned with sculptures; lush meadow-soft carpets held in place with golden rods; imposing portraits in shimmering golden frames - the Duke and, the Duchess, presumably. And then there was the Duchess herself, walking towards them - crowned, resplendent in her robes, and holding a great golden tome close to her chest.

“Mama ...” said Suvius, embracing her. The Duchess held her at arm’s length. “What’s wrong, Mama?”

The Duchess seemed to draw up to her full height. “What is wrong?!” she boomed. “What is wrong is that these preparations for ‘war’ have violated virtually every health and safety clause in the righteous Phaestian Constitution!” Suvius’ cloak rode high into the air - a draft blowing from the hall, or from the Duchess herself? Gidro wasn’t sure.

“Who is this?” demanded the Duchess, fixing her blazing eyes on Gidro.

“I have requisitioned him into the Aureate Army,” said Suvius with pride. “And I seek your honourable approval.”

“You have done what?!” Suvius’ cloak rode high again, and this time she stepped back. Yes, it was definitely coming from the Duchess. “I would have expected you more than anyone to follow the correct politically-approved procedure! How many times must I remind you that approval is to be sought prior to requisition?”

Gidro shrank away towards the door.

*

With the approval of his “requisition” begrudgingly given, Suvius marched him through the tunnels, now a hive of activity. “This is most certainly more like it!” she said. Templar’s patrolled in formation, Vanguard’s thwacked the heads off training mannequins; and just ahead, a throng of Arcanists stormed from a glowing purple door, with fervent flashes in their eyes. When the room had emptied, Suvius stepped inside.

“Aetna!” said Suvius, embracing a fragile-looking, masked woman, with scars of magic etched into her forearms. Suvius gestured Gidro to her. “My esteemed sister - Head of Arcane Studies, and Chief Geologist!”

“Pleased to meet you, good sir,” said Aetna quietly.

Gidro nodded. “My Lady.”

“So tell me,” said Suvius, “what is the forecast for today? Shall we be fighting this battle under fifty feet of volcanic ash?” Suvius raised her eyebrows.

“You have at most very little to fear,” squeaked Aetna. “Mount Phaestus shall not erupt today.” She looked like she wanted to say something else.

“Yes? Spit it out!” said Suvius.

“You understand, of course, that I cannot warrant that forecast. I mean, I shall not be held to account for it, if you know what I mean.”

“Thank you, Aetna ...” said Suvius despairingly. “Just keep me informed of any changes, alright?” Aetna nodded furiously.

They stepped out the door, then Suvius called back into the room: “And don’t forget to turn the Inhibitors on this time, hmm?”

*

The wave of heat hit him as soon as they marched into the foundry. “Gidro, my old pal - come here!” Lord Loa threw down his hammer and lunged towards Gidro, arms open wide. Gidro held out a hand, then hesitated when he saw a stone sarcophagus leaning against the wall. A belt of intricate hieroglyphs engraved across its belly immediately drew his eye.

“Aye, Stone Knights, laddie.”

“Lord Saffire?” uttered Gidro, mesmerised.

“Aye, my nephew’s signature, that’s true. I do the hard work, he does the fancy stuff, am I right?!” Loa rumbled out a laugh. “Anyhow, should show them Sentinels a thing or two, eh? Here, watch this.”

Loa walked over to the sarcophagus and gave it a kick. It jolted, dust blowing out from the fresh cracks that had emerged. Then it ground open, stone scraping against stone, and out lunged a knight made of granite.

“So, er ... I see you got my message, my dear,” said Loa.

“Most certainly, Uncle ... Or should I call you, ‘Lord of the Land’?”

The knight was as big as a Sentinel. Gidro shuffled back to the wall as it started patrolling up and down.

“Oo, er ...” stumbled Loa. “Told you, did he?”

“It’s alright. I have elected not to tell Papa about it on this occasion; since young Gidro is proving to be as fine a recruit as you stated in your recommendation - obedient, and honest. So thank you.”

“Eh, tell His Pompous Dukeship. See if I care!”

The knight passed uncomfortably close to Gidro, who was now pinned to the wall.

“And there’s no need to thank me. We need this wee lad, simple as that.”

*

“May I ask another question, My Lady?” Gidro’s legs were struggling to keep up with Suvius’ athletic strides.

“This had most certainly better be the last one!” she said, glancing back.

“Thank you, My Lady.” Gidro took a breath. Talking whilst walking this fast was tricky. “What does Kasita want?”

“What do you think?”

“To destroy this place, I suppose - like that Underlord destroyed most of Kairos.”

“Partially correct. She also wants the Heart of Gold.”

Gidro put on a spurt, and drew up alongside Suvius in the narrow tunnel. “That’s the jewel isn’t it? What you use to summon gold?”

She looked down at him. “Which my father uses, yes. You see, Kasita’s strategy is plain and simple: she wants the Heart of Gold so she can stop us using our reserves to rebuild the Empire.”

“Makes sense, My Lady.”

She looked ahead and smiled. “Good. I can see you are an intelligent man. Unlike my father, who refuses to believe that she doesn’t want anything but to cause ‘a little chaos’. And what did he say when I presented my theory?” Her face changed to strangely resemble the Duke’s. “‘Suvius, that is the most absent-mindedly absurd concept I have ever had the displeasure of hearing!’”

“But how could Kasita breach the vault? I’ve seen a few vaults in my time, and those doors are thicker than The Spine of Kairos!”

Suvius smiled again, and marched ahead. “That, my little friend, is indeed the question.”

*

This was it. Here he was, Gidro Brunnsen, a dwarf of insignificant heritage; an aspiring artist. Now here, on the front line of Phaestus, waiting.

It started with a distant rumble - maybe Mount Phaestus stirring. He wondered if Lady Aetna had fumbled her forecast. It grew louder, a subterranean thunder, like a great beast was devouring the earth in ginormous mouthfuls, eating its way towards them. Gidro waited for Lady Suvius’ rousing speech, but it never came.

They waited in silence, until the thunder was right behind the wall. The ground was shaking. Suvius raised her arm, and everyone drew their weapons - swords and axes and bows and hands crackling with lethal magic. Gidro even spied a few granite swords in their midst.

A wisp of gold flew over his shoulder towards the wall. It flashed into the earth, which Gidro now saw was churning like quicksand, the speckles of gold within disappearing like the stars behind a dark cloud. He grasped his axe firmly. Then the wall exploded.

Through the haze came a golden giant, earth and gold dust swirling around it like it was the eye of a hurricane. Arrows launched. Bolts of lightning flew. And this giant swept them away with a swipe of its golden fist. A fist bigger than Gidro’s entire body ... It marched towards them - no, it glided. It glided across the lava moat like it wasn’t there!

“Colossus ...” he heard Lady Suvius utter through the chaos, “of the Aureate Army ...”

That’s how Kasita would breach the vault. Gidro turned and ran - someone had to tell the Duke. The ground ruptured. Walls buckled. Golden statues flew past his face amidst screaming and shouting. And the Colossus towered over him.
 

Fireeye

Augre
WFTO Backer
Dec 30, 2012
1,155
689
510
Ze Germany
#2
Alas, poor Gidro. I doubt he'll make it out alive from that encounter. But at least there is a chances that he'll end up as a golden decorative object in Kasita's dungeon.
 
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