Phoenix disembarked from the caravan of flying boats onto solid ground. Or, somewhat solid. She had never been on a floating island before, though they had been around for fifty years now. She had only been traveling for a year, but she had heard rumors that the village here had been having problems with nearby monsters. Even though she was only 8, being a Dragonborn she thought she would be of some help to the ill equipped villagers.
The island itself was barely big enough to carry the dozen buildings of the village. Two scraggly trees were barely holding to the earth on the outskirts. Phoenix looked around at the handful of small humans playing and laughing. A bigger human stood by, clothes clean and straight, a sword hanging from his waist. Phoenix approached him.
The man jumped in shock at the Dragonborn, standing several inches taller than him and holding a large spiked hammer.
“Uh, can, uh, can I help you?” asked the guard.
“I was told you needed help,” replied Phoenix. She wasn’t much of a social person, and the fact that most humans were scared of her didn’t help her interact.
“I was told that your village needed help with protection. Is there anything I can help with?” continued Phoenix.
“Uh, no, no not really. There’s a couple of us guards, but we only make sure the kids don’t run off the island,” explained the guard.
Phoenix looked at him, trying to think of what to do. The silence stretched and the guard seemed to get more nervous, looking around and shifting from foot to foot.
“You, uh, you could go talk to the mayor. There might be something more that he could tell you,” offered the guard.
“I’ll do that, thank you,” replied Phoenix.
“Yeah, of course.”
Phoenix turned and looked at the buildings. They were all made from wood, some more well built than others, but one on the far side was a couple feet taller and looked well taken care of, so Phoenix assumed that was the main meeting house.
Phoenix headed through the village, gathering stares from the odd person who saw her as she went. The village didn’t have many people out beyond the children, but the odd mother who happened to look out her window got the shock of seeing the rare visitor. Even more shocking to the sheltered people was the six foot tall, iron skinned reptile wandering through the buildings.
Phoenix entered the wood building, the outside light filtering in through the doorway and windows. A man sat behind a desk in the corner of the small front room reading a book, his glasses slipped halfway down his nose. Phoenix looked at him but didn’t want to interrupt, so she passed him to the open doorway on the wall beside him. It was a small library, books along the walls and a two sided shelf in the middle of the small space. She walked around the room, taking small steps as her eyes flicked across the worn bindings. It looked like most of it was about farming, some about money, others about building. Really anything that a small village would need, but nothing interesting to Phoenix. There was a small section that might have been a couple history books, but the covers had so much dust on them that she couldn’t make out the faded lettering on the leather.
Bored, Phoenix walked back to the front room. Her shadow crossed over the man’s book and he looked up to see who had come in, nearly jumping out of his chair, his book flipping over as he took in the personage in front of him.
“Uh, he-hello, c-can I help you?” asked the man.
Phoenix looked at him, head tilted curiously, but came across more like a snake looking at a possible meal. “I am looking for the mayor.”
“He, uh, he isn’t here right now. I don’t know when he’ll be back.”
Phoenix looked around the room, thinking about what to do.
“Is there, uh, something that I could help you with?” asked the man hesitantly.
“I have heard stories that this village has a problem with monsters,” explained Phoenix. The man relaxed, realizing that she had come to help.
“Oh, well, we haven’t been having many problems. We send out our teenagers when they get old enough to adventure. But there isn’t much problem with monsters. They don’t have much access to the island. The last group of adventurers we sent out took care of a small group of harpies trying to nest here, but that’s the worst we’ve seen.”
“Hmm,” replied Phoenix. The man pushed his glasses back up his nose.
“Well, the mayor should be around the village somewhere. He should be back shortly, if you want to wait here,” said the man.
“I, I think I will wander the village. Thank you.”
“Yeah, you’re welcome,” replied the man. Phoenix nodded at him and walked out.
Quickly enough, Phoenix spotted a man talking with a couple villagers. He had an air of authority in the confident set of his shoulders and his salt and pepper beard showed experience. He showed kindness in the way he stooped to see what a small human had brought him, excitedly demanding he look at it. This must be the mayor.
Phoenix approached the man as he left his villagers to their day. The mayor spotted Phoenix and, after the initial surprise that is normal for seeing such an imposing figure, a reaction Phoenix was used to, he smiled and greeted her warmly.
“Welcome! It is an honor to have a Dragonborn visiting. How can we help you?” asked the mayor. He was more traveled than most of the village and had some familiarity with the Dragonborn race.
“I was told that this village has been having problems with monsters, but that seems to not be the case,” explained Phoenix.
“Ah, yes, an unforeseen benefit of living in the sky seems to be a protection against most monsters.” “I can see that,” agreed Phoenix. There were a couple moments of silence.
“Was there anything else I could help you with?” prompted the mayor.
“Is there perhaps anything you have heard of around here that I could help with?” asked Phoenix.
“Let me think,” said the mayor. “Now, the last group of kids we sent out brought news back of a castle ruins nearby. They didn’t say much abut it. Perhaps if you look in the library there’ll be something about it.”
“I will do that, thank you,” replied Phoenix. The two nodded a goodby and Phoenix went back to the slightly larger wooden building with the receptionist.
“The mayor still isn’t back yet,” the man said quickly as Phoenix entered.
“Yes, I know. I spoke with him while I was out. He mentioned castle ruins and said there might be something about it in the library. Do you happen to know where?”
“Oh, castle ruins? I think I remember reading something about that,” the man said, standing up and walking around the desk and into the library. Phoenix followed behind. The man went straight to the dusty tombs and wiped some dust off, pulling out a book that was nearly three inches thick. “Yes I do believe that this is the one,” he said, handing the book to Phoenix. She wasn’t too excited about it.
“Thank you,” she told him anyway. He walked back out as she flipped through the yellowed pages. She caught a couple words here and there, but didn’t pay much attention. It was a history of a large area, without much mention of what she was looking for. About a third of the way through she found a short passage that mentioned a wizard once owning the castle, but it didn’t go into much detail. The next hundred pages simply referenced the crops being harvested and a small feud between two squires. Phoenix felt like falling asleep.
Giving up on the book, Phoenix shut it, sending a small puff of dust into the sunlit air and out the book back in its place on the shelf.
“Is that the only book on the castle?” she asked the man, startling him out of his reading again.
“Oh, yes, yes it is,” he replied.
“Okay. Thank you,” Phoenix said and walked out of the building. She wandered the village again, poking her head into a smithy for a moment but, seeing him bending a pitch fork back into place, decided it wasn’t worth the time. She leaned against the wall of one of the buildings and watched a couple of the small humans chase a chicken down the path. She thought about going to talk to one of the guards again, but finally admitted to herself there was absolutely nothing to do on the island.
The caravan was still going to be around, haggling and trading with the villagers, for a couple more days, but there must be something she could do. As she approached the group she came with, she saw one woman elbow the man beside her and point her out to him. The man grinned and checked the time before sticking his hand out. The woman put money in it.
“Didn’t last very long out there, did ya?” the man asked. Phoenix looked at him. “That’s a’right, no worries about that. Didn’t think you would. She thought maybe you’d last more ‘an an hour, but I can see ya. Were you wantin’ a ride someplace?”
“A ride?” Phoenix asked.
“Yeah, we got Ted over there by a spare ship if you’d like to head out somewhere.”
“I would appreciate that, thank you,” Phoenix replied gratefully before heading over to Ted. “Ted,” she called.
“A-yup?” a voice called back from the small ship.
“Would you like to go exploring?” Phoenix asked as a young man stepped out of the covered part of the ship.
“Do I ever!” Ted said.
“Great, let’s go!” Phoenix said, happy to be going somewhere. Anywhere. “We’re looking for some castle ruins somewhere around here. Help me look.”
The two took off, Phoenix learning some tips on how to fly along the way.
|Previous: None ---||Next: Keep in the Sky|