|Favorite Wonder:||Form of the Titan|
“We need to find out more about him.”
“Need to find out more, are we the yellow skirts now? Why do you obsess about knowledge? It’s that kind of talk that makes the civilized…” Charadon practically spat the word “…people soft. It makes you soft as well.”
Mahala ignored him. Blustering, headstrong fool… “The man could be a fraud, or he could be a very real threat – or an ally. We need certainty, or as much as can be had. If the Illians are on the rise…”
She had hoped he would see sense for once, but their discussion deteriorated, as usual. Damned, stupid, singleminded, vicious bastard. For the Shamans to reawaken this monster… Mahala took a deep breath and tried again to argue her point.
“All your pointless wars will do is make sure our enemies get organized and decide that we are better off extinct!”
“Hah! All you want to do is weaken us and then hand us over to our enemies, to be put in pens like sheep and cows! Better to die as warriors than live as thralls!”
“Sheep and c… Argh! I am thinking of our CHILDREN, while all you think of is your thirst for BLOOD!”
“If I didn’t watch you every second, I’m sure you would sneak up and plant a knife in my back – then you’d be rid of the last defender of Doviello strength!” The insult was clear and damning. Killing an opponent in any other way than in public, gory, single combat, was perhaps the most cowardly thing the Doviello could think of.
“I would never shame myself like that – but I wish to Camulos someone WOULD challenge you! You are well past your prime anyway! It’s about time the pack had a new leader, grey hair. Bringing you back was a mistake.” She could see that struck home. She knew it would. Charadon’s face turned deep purple with unfettered rage.
“You rodent! How dare you! You ungrateful little sheep’s daughter! It is not too late to make you into mothers meat, weakling! You will listen to your pack leader!”
“You are not my pack leader! I built the Doviello alone with my bare hands! After your failed age of ice, they had nothing but me. The Doviello is my pack!” Mahala had enough. She turned to leave, but Charadon grabbed her from behind, wrapped his arms around her waist, held her tight and brought his head to the level of hers.
Mahala could smell the stench of rotting meat and bad teeth on Charadons breath as he panted in her ear: “Your mind is weak, your words are foolish, but your body has… potential. We would have strong cubs, leaders. As long as they had my good blood in them…” There was an undertone to his statement, an ill-controlled growl of anticipation and desire, anger turned to lust.
She snarled, twisted, and brought her knife, concealed in the folds of her sleeve, up along his jugular. She drew blood, a hairline running along his neck. Undeterred, Charadon flashed her a lecherous grin, and backed away from her. As he left the hall, his parting words were “Not yet, I see.” That lascivious dog, Mahala thought uncharitably, as her chest heaved and fell, the adrenaline pumping through her veins.
It didn’t really matter what Charadon decided, she would be conducting her own investigations anyway. At this stage, it looked like a very good idea to go away for a while.
She closed her eyes and once again saw the figure from her dream. Handsome, but… effeminate, foppish, with some ridiculous roguish affectations and a thin, pointy sword that looked like it was only good for skewering meat. He did not seem like a warrior, let alone a hero or someone she could trust. But he must be important. Why else would such a figure haunt her sleep?
After waiting for Charadon to lumber out and meet his henchmen, Mahala slipped out the back. Her mount was waiting, along with a handful of her most trusted and capable friends and bodyguards. One of them, a huntress named Ciciel, approached her.
“We are ready. Did you get any more help?”
“We will make do with what we’ve got. That man is impossible to reason with. Camulos, he is impossible to even speak to! He tried to mate with me, again! If I could, I would have every Shaman who helped recall that lunatic from Camulos’ vault put to death.”
“The elders seem to think it was good. A leader in a time of need, with so many young beastmen dying on failed raids…”
“No time of need! It was sad to be weakened like that, it was dark times to be sure, but it was a necessary cull of the headstrong.” Mahala did not mention that occasionally the raids had failed on purpose. Not many people knew that, and her continued good health depended on her keeping it that way: “We would have emerged much more lethal and efficient afterwards, but now, now…”
Mahala gave her stubborn horse a sharp jab in the belly, forcing him to exhale the air he was holding on to. Then she pulled the saddle strap tight.
“Now this ghost from the past thinks it is a good idea to use the chaos in the deadlands to raid everyone else with abandon, and hang everything else. It is folly either way – if they defeat him, they’re coming for us, but if the sorcerer wins, we will not escape either.”
Mahala peered around the corner of the great hall. She could just see Charadon busily inspecting his beloved War Machine. It was the perfect device for Charadon, brutal and direct. No wonder he loved it so much. She busied herself with her own preparations.
“Well, at least one of us has some common sense and a will to think beyond the tip of her sword.”
Charadon would probably just be glad to be rid of her, so he could continue his mad race to drown the Doviello in blood. But she was bringing one man he was sure to miss…
“Ciciel, is Lucian here yet?”