The hill-giant Freeman Nezor, now officially Guardsman Nezor, stood proudly in the parade ground in front of the Southgate city guard headquarters. It was the happiest morning of his life though it was very damp out and the oppressive heat of the previous day was already mixing with that of the new. A tear almost dropped his eye as he was presented an armband striped blue and yellow signifying his promotion to the rank of captain of the guard by Lt. Krolin himself. If the air hadn’t been so still the giant would swear that his own cloak was wafting heroically behind him. It was a reward for foiling a burglary at the apothecaries down the street from the Troll a day or so just before he reported for training.
With the brief ceremony over Lt. Krolin began shouting his orders and the entire troop of new guardsmen began their rigorous drills and week-long training regimen. Occasionally it included jaunts into the swamp and a fair amount of mass-organized weapon-katas using the standard pike and long-shield. For most of the recruits it was hell for Nezor on the other hand it was a breeze. He never seemed to stop smiling. At the end of the seven-day stint of forced marches and wading through waist-high (or in Nezor’s case knee-high) muck and a very well-deserved bath at the local brothel, for Nezor it was in the carriage park of said establishment, Lt. Krolin took him with the usual entourage in tow to the Whiskey Troll to celebrate the giant’s new rank and probably in part to cement him as a permanent fixture of the Southside city guard. It wasn’t long before a bar-fight between two opposing pirate crews broke out but the guards didn’t interfere as they were busy celebrating.
The day after that and more towards the evening as the orange-gold and rapidly reddening rays of the dusk weakly flooded the entryway of the Troll, Phenox walked in with a curious looking companion unknown to Nezor. He guided the new potential addition to the ‘goodfellows’ up to the giant who was in his usual place flanked by his “men” on either side. He was signing up “new recruits” for his command. The scroll rolled out over his table even had several sloppy black ‘X’s on it.
Phenox introduced the new addition as Xxoosha, he struggled to pronounce her name as he was not fluent in Scael Split-Tongue. Nezor was having none of it as he despised Nagas, they had taken out Cantra after all and this one had black scales. He had heard that Scaels with black scales were marked by “other forces”. Xxoosha the Black Scael smoothed over the giant’s concerns in the course of the night through sheer charm. The giant took to calling her Zacháah, it was the natural pronunciation of her name in his hill-lander drawl.
Zacha was a mage and a mighty fine flutist, her familiar on her shoulder which appeared much like a small sized monitor-lizard with draconic wings; it was never far from her when not on her shoulder. The newly hired mage wore a hooded purple cloak and seemed eager enough to join whatever mission Phenox had planned out but he was reluctant to reveal exactly what that may be as “there were too many ears abouts”. The giant shrugged his shoulders. He was confident that whatever it was he could simply stomp, smash, or crush his way through it.
Another uneventful day passed, the Lt. was running forced marches every other day and at the end of the day the giant and the other ‘goodfellow’, he still wasn’t quite sure about the mage because you simply couldn’t trust that type, were drinking in the Troll. Zacha was piping on her flute, a nice and cheerful medley; someone tossed her a few coppers. It appeared to be another typical evening in the Troll until a massive explosion somewhere outside shook the walls. The patrons rushed outside to see what had happened.
The street was littered with shattered stone and disintegrate adobe. A tower that had overlooked the street around an alley from the Troll was partially destroyed and flying on its wings of glittering mist was what appeared to be some sort of frost demon. Nezor pointed ‘dog-smasher’ at the howling creature and before he could shout, “stop in the name of the law” the creature had landed heavily in the cobbled street before him and the grim-warrior Phenox; Zacha who had been behind them slithered for cover behind a large crate.
The demon was nearly the size of Nezor, about 20 ft tall, and had wings that seemed to be mostly immaterial composed of poisonously glittering mists. It had a pair of curling horns as jagged as bent icicles on its malformed skull-like head and claws on its hands just as formidable. A hideous bluish light shone from its empty eye-sockets and from between the spaces in its glassy ribs. For the most part the creature was bluish-white in color. The frost-demon bore a battle-axe of ice in one of its hands and in the other it held the bleeding corpse of an apprentice mage. A handful of guards charged the beast and it spat a ball of blue energy at them which simultaneously froze them solid, reduced, and blew them away like a gust of snow. The gathered crowd immediately panicked fleeing in all directions.
It was Nezor’s “men” that acted first, Oxwulf dropped his pike and ran back into the Troll, Derig charged the demon. The monster responded with a swing of its axe horribly wounding the boy who dropped to the ground at its hoofed feet.
The giant roared and rushing in put all of his power behind his carven great club smashing out most of its ribs in the first hit then on the backswing the entire beast shattered like an ill-conceived ice-sculpture filled with blue-flame and exploded. Nezor was left standing there triumphant but a little frostbit, Derig was down and unconscious but otherwise untouched by the demon’s death throe. The giant acting quickly snatched up the boy’s body and rushed him to the local apothecary for immediate treatment. After Nezor was assured that the young guard would recover by the old apothecary, he left him there and returned to the scene to find the Lt. and his men already there.
The investigation lasted for only about 2 hours. A group of elder mages from the Obsidian Guild had appeared all of them old men in plain but clean brown robes with golden eye on a brown escutcheon embroidered on the breast. Their fingers and necks were bedecked in gold however and each also carried finely carved and lacquered staffs some bearing gems. They were a little indignant and rude towards the Lt. until the giant stepped in with a disapproving glare. They got cooperative real quick. It appeared that they had no information on the case as the apprentice was unknown to them and he assuredly wasn’t licensed to practice magic within city limits.
After the investigation was finished Lt. Krolin commended Nezor on his conduct and promised him a medal for his slaying of the rogue demon. The hill-giant was in the clouds as he strutted back to the tavern. The new trio reconvened at the Whiskey Troll.
Over some whiskey and while Zacha noodled with her flute, Phenox talked with Capt. Nezor about that new caper he had been planning for some time now. It concerned an evil mage, he emphasized the evil part, and the horrible things he was doing under the noses of the city guard such things as hiring foolish young mages under the impression that they would be his apprentices then having them do suicidal things like summoning demons too powerful for them to control. This mysterious and evil mage was known only as Shadow-Scale. Of course Phenox neglected to mention the contract out on the mages life that he was holding.
Nezor stood up suddenly, held his club above his head, and declared, “I dub thee Dog-Smasher-Bull-Crusher AND demon-SLAYER!” The entire place erupted in a riotous cheer. The giant turned to his stunned companions and said, “let’s do some JUSTICE”.
It wasn’t long after that the 3 were standing in the dark underneath the moon-shadow of Shadow-Scale’s tower. It was a relic from another time, a crude and strange structure fashioned from what seemed to be a single titanic stone and the few orifices in its face including its main door were fashioned in the Scael fashion of things, circular and deep. Just a few moments previously they had fought their way through four monsters with skull-like faces, shriveled skin, and hoofed feet. The giant assumed that they too were demons and seemed to be guarding the alleys that led to the tower. He was determined to take this guy down vigilante style.
Phenox (kneeling by the recessed entryway and inspecting the ground): “Yup. There’s a trap door here. Guess we better…”
Nezor with an earth-shaking roar ran past his companions and leapt at the bronze double door jumping over the supposed trap-door hurling himself straight into it. Either the doors or his shoulder would shatter. For just a second he feared as he felt the doors flex only slightly that he would be catapulted backwards onto his back and onto the trap-door. Fortunately, the timber bar that held the door gave with a sharp crack and the giant landed heavily just inside on the smooth stone threshold as the metal doors swung open wide with a crash.
To be Concluded…