180/366 – The Salvation Brotherhood

Day 38 of 100 Word Prompts: Oil

The city of Watherlis, nested against the northern base of the Kinian Mountains, sat tranquil and quiet as Dylian led Agnescious toward the gates. In the last two-span, goblins, wolves, and bandits had plagued their journey west from Gratle.

Dylian’s stomach growled as he trudged to the fifty-foot granite lined gate. Even Agnescious seemed to have lost his zeal for travel in the last few days.

“Halt!” a guard called from the top of the wall. “A representative of the city will be out shortly to meet you.”

Dylian lifted his arm weakly in recognition of the command and sat heavily onto the well-trodden path. Fifteen minutes later, a large door to the left of the closed portcullis opened, followed by a heavily armored goliath striding out toward him.

“Greetings, Traveler. What is your business in Watherlis?” the goliath asked as a wave of warmth washed over Dylian.

“I’m currently traveling west, sir,” Dylian replied. “I’ve been traveling for some time and would appreciate access to your city to enjoy a hot meal, a bath, and a bed.”

“What do you know of the Salvation Brotherhood?” the guard asked.

“I don’t know what that means,” Dylian replied with a shake of his head.

The guard paused and eyed him intensely for a moment. “Very well,” the guard replied, motioning for Dylian to stand. Dylian awkwardly got to his sore feet, groaning as he straightened his back. “You and your mule are granted access to the city. Be warned. Any attempts to break the law are met with severe punishment.”

“I can promise you that I don’t seek anything other than what I’ve already said,” Dylian replied as he began leading Agnescious behind the guard as they walked toward the door. “I would ask if you could recommend a good place for food, drink, and sleep, however.”

“For your kind, I would recommend the Lucky Mouse, or perhaps the Foolish Root. Both are just off the main road after you pass the gate,” the guard replied.

“Thank you,” Dylian said as the guard held up his hand, bringing him to a stop.

“Do you hear that?” the guard asked as he slowly turned around.

From the north, Dylian heard a light rumbling that steadily grew louder. The guard’s eyes grew wide as he reached out and picked up both Dylian and his companion under each arm before he turned and began running.

Even with the jarring shake that came with each massive bound from the guard, Dylian could see a large band of cavalry approaching quickly. Even from this distance, he could see the lances and pikes extended as they charged toward them.

“What-is-that?” Dylian asked between each leap of the guard.

Dylian saw the wall consume them all, plunging them into darkness as the door slammed closed behind them. Dylian’s eyes adjusted to the lack of light enough that he could make out the large form of the guard blindly searching with his arms out.

“Where’s the oil lamp?” the guard said.

Dylian walked across the room, ducking under the goliath’s arms as he pulled the glass up on the lamp and used the flint on the table to light it.

“Here you go,” Dylian said, lowering the glass and handing it to the guard.

“Thank you,” the guard replied. “Sorry about picking you up, I didn’t know if you’d be able to make it to the wall in time.”

“That’s fine,” Dylian said as Agnescious heed at them. “He says it’s fine too. What was that out there?”

“The Salvation Brotherhood,” the guard replied. “They’ve been trying to gain access to the city for more than a season.”

“What do they want?” Dylian asked.

“They want to purify the land of non-giants. They believe that the gods have given them divine authority to purge the world of all others,” the guard replied as a resonate boom echoed through the stone, and dust fell from the ceiling. “You should count yourself lucky that you didn’t run into them on the road here.”

“Aren’t you a goliath? Why are you afraid of them?” Dylian asked.

“Because we open our gates and harbor the smaller races, they see us as inferior as well,” the guard replied as another boom echoed through the wall. “Follow me, please.”

“Come on, buddy,” Dylian said as he grabbed Agnescious’ lead and followed the goliath through a maze of corridors until they arrived at another massive iron door. The guard opened the door, revealing several plaster buildings nearby that blocked the view of the rest of the city. Along with the sunlight came alarm bells ringing from around the walls.

“I would recommend getting indoors as fast as you can, just in case anything comes over the wall,” the guard said, pointing southeast. “The Lucky Mouse is only a few buildings that way.”

“Thank you,” Dylian said, stepping out of the wall with his donkey.

Dylian quickly wove his way through the buildings until he found the Lucky Mouse to his left. To his right, the portcullis provided him a view of the cavalry circling just outside the city, stirring up a massive cloud of dust. An arrow flew past him, and he backed up.

“What should I do with you, buddy?” Dylian said, looking at the donkey who stepped nervously in place. “I can’t leave you out here, and the guard didn’t say anything about stables for you.”

Agnescious hawed as he looked up and down the side-street.

Dylian led him around the back of the building. There was a back door on the building that didn’t open when he tried the handle, so he knocked.

“Who is it?” a woman’s voice asked from the other side.

“Dylian Pondspar, I need to come in,” Dylian replied.

With a scraping of metal, the door creaked open a crack.

“Who?” the woman asked, her pale purple eye peeking at him.

“Dylian Pondspar, I’m from Breya. I was told to get inside here,” Dylian said. “I need a place for my steed as well.”

The door creaked a little further open. “You’re a half-elf. Okay, but the horse can’t come in,” she replied.

“Agnescious can’t be safe outside,” Dylian replied. “I don’t want to leave him out here.”

“Bring him to the side of the building. There’s a small stable there. It should be safe enough there. It’s further from the gate,” she replied. “When you’re ready, come back here.”

The door slammed shut, and the sound of the bar on the door rattling back into place echoed through the alley between the near-constant ringing of the bells.

“Let’s go, buddy,” Dylian said, leading Agnescious around the corner where he found three stalls lining the side of the building. The clay-tile roof over the top of it gave Dylian a sense of safety from arrows that may come from above. Of the three stalls, only the center one was open. “I think you’re going to be safe here.”

Agnescious’ eyes still darted around with each ring of the bells. He danced nervously as Dylian secured the gate.

“It’ll be okay, buddy. I promise. We’ll leave as soon as we can. This place is a bit too much for me too,” Dylian said, patting the donkey’s face. “I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

Dylian ran around the side of the building back toward the back. He hit the door several times.

The door opened quickly, and the woman pulled him through. He stumbled inside as she closed the door.

“Why would you be outside in the first place?” she muttered as she dropped the bar back in place, shaking her head. “I swear some people don’t know when to get a clue.”

Dylian could see the slightly pointed ears of the woman poking from under her dark brown hair. She turned to look at him severely as she smoothed out her simple linen dress.

“Vad är fel med dig?” she said.

“I don’t understand,” Dylian replied. “Common? Elven?”

“Sorry. What is wrong with you?” she asked. “Why would you be outside right now? Surely, a tavern isn’t something that you’d risk your life to reach.”

“I got here just before the attack started,” Dylian replied. “The guard told me to come here from the wall.”

“Stupid guards, don’t they realize that it’s safer in their stone fortress than in these wooden buildings?” she muttered, shaking her head. “Come on, out of my kitchen. You can go to the common room.”

The woman shooed him out and around the bar, so he was standing in a near-empty room. A sad-looking human sat at the bar looked up at him as he came out. A gnome and a tabaxi sat at a table near the hearth on the far side of the room.

“Here,” she said, placing a mug of ale on the bar. “You can drink this while we wait for the attack to end.”

“Thank you. I’m Dylian, by the way,” Dylian said.

“Heather,” she replied before she turned away and walked to the man at the other end of the bar.

Dylian took a swig of his ale and found it burned more than any ale he had drunk previously. He couldn’t keep his cough suppressed.

“Is there a problem?” Heather asked as she turned to look sternly at him.

“No, no,” Dylian replied, waving a hand. “Just a little stronger than I expected.”

“This is a goliath country, bud. Get used to strong drinks and frequent fights. You’re in for a culture shock, for sure,” she replied, turning back to the man at the bar.

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