The Hill Giant Chief - Nosnra's Saga - Part 67
"How do we know it's you?" questioned Harold.
"How do I know it is really you two?" Talberth replied sarcastically. "This is pointless, Harald put down that sword."
"You're just trying to confuse things," Harold complained. "What happened to you? Where's Ivo?"
As if summoned by his name Ivo stepped through the portal still holding the silver wire that the ranger had let fall. Blinded by the mist he walked into Talberth and made him jump. With a flick of his wrist Harald moved the tip of his sword aside; the point was only inches away from Talberth's chest. The cloth of the mage's robe pressed against the sword's keen edge and split as did the soft shirt underneath.
"Ouucch!" Talberth's hand flew to his chest and his fingers came away wet with blood. "Watch it!" he yelled at Harald.
"Sorry," Harald apologized as he lowered his sword.
"What are you three playing at?" asked Ivo. He stepped around Talberth's legs and scowled at them all.
"Is this Talberth?" the little thief asked Ivo.
"Of course it is Talberth, and I'm me and you're you," Ivo rebuked him. "Now let us get back to the others."
"But Ivo," said Talberth, "there is so much here that we need to explore."
"Too much," Ivo replied. "What we need is rest, and a place of safety. This ruin provides us with neither I'd say."
"We are safe enough now," Talberth insisted, though his hand touched the hole in his shirt and the drying trickle of blood from the scratch beneath. "Now that I know what to say, the skeleton's and the wraith will lis..."
"Wraith!" Harold squeaked out alarmed.
"Do not worry, I talked with it. It obeyed my commands," Talberth said to Harold but he looked from face to face, "really we are perfectly safe."
"We need to talk with Telenstil first," said Ivo. "Talberth you were supposed to return if you found anything."
"Well I would have," Talberth said slightly annoyed, "but I was knocked out and manacled, I didn't get the chance."
"Before such a chance as that happens again let us be off and back to the others." insisted Ivo. "Harold, go collect your shadow."
"Little Rat," Harold's eyebrows rose, "if he's gone to sleep..."
"But Ivo we are safe," Talberth's voice had a pleading tone.
"Talberth you know better than that," Ivo shook his head. "And even if we are safe, what of the others?" the old gnome held up his hand to silence Talberth's objections. "Save your arguments for Telenstil. We are leaving; do you want to abandon us to search this ruin?"
"No, no," said Talberth. "This place is powerful, I know it."
"I do not doubt that," Ivo agreed.
"We may be the first people here in a thousand years," Talberth mused.
"These skeletons are still lively," said Harald. The ranger lashed out with his boot and sent a pile of bones clattering across the floor.
"A thousand years... then the time it takes to complete our task against the giants will be very short compared to that," Ivo said to Talberth.
"I will be back," Talberth said to the ancient walls.
"Ivo," Harold half dragged the young orc along, "do you have magic to help him. He wants to sleep and I'm having trouble keeping him awake."
"I'll carry him," offered the ranger.
"Here," said Ivo, he took a small pouch from his belt and opening it waved the contents back and forth beneath Little Rat's nose. The orc's eyes opened wide and he gave a huge sneeze, Ivo rescued his pouch just in time, pulling it away with a quick move of his hand.
"Smell bad," Little Rat complained and sneezed three times, one after another.
A spark of greenish light danced within the carven pillars. It ran down the spine of a dragon whose head braced the ceiling stone, then followed a pattern of tiles till it reached the base of a fire giant bringing brief color to the grey rock. When it reached the eyes a red gleam awoke but faded as the spark ran past. There were cracks that radiated out from a hole broken in the roof. A block of rough stone wedged the gap shut and time had locked it in place as if it had been set there on purpose by a conscious hand.
Circling like a leaf caught in a whirlwind the spark jumped around the web of cracks. It flared as it leapt through the air, a sharp smell of brimstone and a puff of smoke followed its path. The spark touched the outstretched fingers of a storm giant and swam down the side of the statue.
Telenstil's nose twitched, the brimstone smell wafted down through the still air. The elf had been in deep thought examining the stone ogre that had been animated and seemed to obey his command, but the sharp scent brought his attention back to the chamber and the statues which surrounded him.
"Do you smell that?" asked Ghibelline.
"Yes," Telenstil answered. "It is very faint. Up there," he pointed to the ceiling.
They could see nothing. Rings of pillars blocked their view, a forest of statues each depicting some huge beast or monster running from the floor to the roof. The two elves walked slowly toward the center of the room, but the smell became weaker dissipating even as they approached its source. There was a sound, Telenstil put out his hand and Ghibelline halted beside him. Their footsteps were almost silent on the tiled floor but some small faint noise was nearly masked by them. Stone scraping against stone, that was the sound. It came from high up toward the roof and to their right. Both elves could see the tiny glow but they still could not see what made the noise.
Telenstil gestured, the movement of his hands and fingers cutting through the air like an ingot of molten iron leaving a momentary trail of haze behind. "Lo-Ta No-Tu," he said and pointed toward the spark of light.
It was like a tiny sun erupting from the dark; the eye of a spreading lacework of power that spread down the side of the pillar. Now they could see what made the grinding noise, it was the statue pulling fingers loose from the ceiling high above. The blaze of magic revealed by Telenstil's spell lit the stone arm like a burning tree, its branches in full flame while tongues of fire licked down its sides.
"Something has awoken," said Telenstil.
"Can you control it?" asked Ghibelline, alarmed.
"I will try," Telenstil put out his hand; he whispered a word in a tongue that Ghibelline could not understand. "Ker-Zer," he said and placed his hand against the pillar. A line of glowing fire flowed down from the spark; it ran inside of the stone and burst from the spot that Telenstil's hand touched. White light flared and the green line was snuffed out in a fury of sparks. A splinter of stone sheared away from the statue and a shower of debris came falling from the roof. The statue shuddered and its upper body twisted free from the pillar.
"Ker-Zer!" Telenstil shouted. The stone exploded beneath his hand, the fragments shot to either side and a crack like thunder echoed across the hall. Above them the giant turned at the waist but its lower half did not move. It split in half and as the two elves watched it began to tilt and slowly fall, both stony arms reaching out radiating a green light, an intense blazing mote at its heart.
* * *
Ghibelline threw himself against Telenstil and dragged him around the side of the pillar as the statue fell. It struck like an avalanche, stone shattering the tiles and breaking apart under its own massive weight. The boom was deafening, the floor shook; a nearby pillar shifted on its pedestal and a rain of rock and stone came down.
A bouncing chunk of granite knocked Ghibelline from his feet; it caught him in the side and sent him tumbling. Telenstil was stung by a spray of knife-edged fragments from the shattered tiles. The wounds were minor, Ghibelline's side felt as if sharp needles had been driven along his ribs but his skin was not even broken. The blow left a large black bruise edged with brown and fading to yellow where the stone had struck.
There was only a moment to react, Telenstil crouched above Ghibelline and called upon the power of his ring. "Fa-Er To-Re," he commanded in ancient Suel. A globe of power surrounded them, in the dark it could not be seen, clear as glass but stronger than steel. As the stones rained down they rebounded from the curved perimeter of the spell and landed to either side of the elves.
The torso of the giant landed near the center of the room covering a pit whose depths were swallowed by darkness. One arm broke off at the massive golem's shoulder, half the head was blasted away by the impact with the floor. There had been a passage beneath the chamber. It had ended in an open door emptying into the pit a man's height down from the edge. As the floor lifted from the impact the roof of the passage caved in, the torso of the giant slid shoulder first catching between the doorframe then tearing free. The frame was ripped from the sides of the opening and followed the severed golem as it smashed from side to side falling into the dark.