The city was in ruins. Forget about a hurricane, earthquake or other natural disaster, this level of destruction was far beyond that. It looked as if a meteor hand landed on the city, or if a god had stamped down with its heavenly foot. If the latter had occurred then that god had supremely flat arches because the city was just gone.
It looked as if no two bricks still stood one atop the other. Every building had been flattened, the open spaces were strewn with rubble and the once proud, cobbled roads were broken and cracked. In the distance, the hill on which the castle had once stood, with its inner wall and high towers, there was only a ruin.
This city had been built up over two hundred years of effort and endeavour, and now it was gone. If anyone wanted to try and recreate the city, establish the kingdom of Liria once again, they would need to do so from scratch. Heck, even the job of cleaning up this mess would take a monumental effort.
Although, just because the buildings had ceased to be, didn't mean the space inside the walls was empty. Oh no, it was full to bursting. With Monsters.
Across every surface, on top of every stone, they stood, stock still. As if mesmerized by an illusion, monsters of every type from the first strata stood rooted to the ground and stared in one direction, unmoving and still. The site sickened me to my core for reasons I couldn't explain. It was unnatural for monsters to act this way, as if they were mindless drones with no will of their own. These were creatures born of the Dungeon! They should fight, struggle and battle!
Silent and still they appeared weak, like slaves to a greater will than their own. Bears, frogs, centipedes, hounds, slugs, bats, apes, lizards, even a few shadow beasts were in the mix, each doing the exact same thing, staring in the same direction, even the sightless monsters, as if they were receiving the light of the sun from their god.
Or goddess, in this case.
She sat above the Dungeon entrance inside the city. When I lay on eyes of the beast it felt as if her aura that dominated the air around me grew stronger, threatening to knock me off the wall. This was supposed to be a weakened monster?! Are you kidding me?!
I'm not sure what I expected Garralosh to look like, her offspring seemed to gain limbs, heads and tails as they evolved, following a strict 'more is more' policy, but the big momma Croc did not seem to follow in that pattern. Of all of her different offspring mutations she most resembled a Titan Croc. Long reptilian body, powerful front and back legs that supported her when she lay flat and would allow her to walk when she stood., with a second pair of arms below the first to help support her more heavily massed upper body.
Rather than two heads, three heads, or the over and under jaws of the Commanders, Garralosh simply had the one Crocodile head. It was difficult to make out the smaller details at this distance, but I think she did have more than just the two eyes, I'd have to closer to be sure, something that wasn't going to happen!
One muscular croc tail extended from the back of her body, lazily sweeping back and forth as she rested.
Long ridges extended down her back, almost long enough to be called spines, from her head all the way to the tip of her tail. They were dark in colour, and gleamed like obsidian in the light. Her scales were a deep, dark green and even at this range I got the sense that they would be as thick as steel plates.
There was nothing exceptionally remarkable about Garralosh in monster terms, so long as you discounted her size.
She was huge. It defied physical reality for a crocodile to be this large. What is this, the cretaceous period?! Someone get this frickin' dinosaur out of here! My mind boggled to even look at her. She was to a Croca Beast what a megaladon was to gummi shark.
It was hard to say exactly how large she was, but from nose to tip of the tail I estimated her to be over twenty metres. She was like a semi-trailer truck, in mass as well as length, since she wasn't just long, she was built. Her neck, shoulders and body were thick with muscle, not to mention her enormous jaws which looked as if they could shatter a building with one snap. This was ridiculous! Did you pour every ounce of your evolutionary potential into getting massive?! Were you a gym junkie in a previous life? Are you the monster equivalent of a steroid addict?!
I was so bewildered by the sheer size of the monster that I failed to focus on what was happening around her until I heard Morrelia mutter something under her breath.
[What is it?] I sent over our mind bridge.
[Who is that? What are they doing?] she asked, her mind strained with focused intent.
Who is who? Are you seeing this freakin' crocodile?!
I turned my attention back to the area occupied by the enormous crocodile and tried to divert my focus away from gawking at Garralosh to take in what was happening in the monsters' surroundings. From the distance we were, it was hard to make out the small details, but what I saw was enough to throw me into confusion.
There were humanoids down there. Something told me that they weren't human, they were too tall and too slender, though their physique was difficult to make out, given that they were covered in long robes with hoods. Basketball playing monks? What the heck is going on down there?
Not for the first time I cursed my poor ant eyesight. I'd taken huge strides in improving my vision but long distance viewing still remained my weakness. In the Dungeon it didn't matter so much but it was really biting my thorax right now.
Now that I took a clearer look, the area around Garralosh did look weird. She lay, brooding and massive in what looked like a crude basin of some kind. The odd robed figures were positioned around her in a loose formation, each of them wielding a staff tipped by a glowing core.
Something about their positioning tickles my brain and when I try to connect the vague shape in my mind it suddenly snaps into place that they are forming a spell matrix using their bodies as part of the construct! What the heck kind of magic are they trying to cast?!
I can't squint due to my lack of eyelids but I still strain as hard as I can to get a glimpse of what is happening in the distance. I can get a vague impression that the robed figures are drawing something up through openings in the earth below them and it seems as if it's draining down into the basin where Garralosh is resting.
[Are they… condensing mana for Garralosh?]