The Sleeping Sun Dragon, Zhulougr burned brightly in the void beyond Sunder’s atmospheric dustdome, though the fierceness of its light no longer scarred the soil, boiled the waters or made metal flow in rivers.
Colhibe Dahamu, unlike some, could peer into the sun. His blue eyes behind their multiple lids could even see the vague form of the sleeping dragon from which the light came. He brought a claw up and tapped his beak. Then he offered up a prayer to what he saw. He was quite glad that he was a gaurgol, it made standing guard much more tolerable.
His kind were Gazed or as many ungazed said with spite, deformed. When the sundering happened, his ancestors were transformed into a form that could survive, for as the legend goes, when Sunder appeared, Zhulougr had its eyes open, and took mercy on those it saw, before returning to sleep, or at least that is how the Zhulougran faith tells it.
In the case of the gaurgols, they were bird people who fell from the sky as they transformed into plated avian people, clawed and taloned. When they hit the ground, they hibernated until Sunder was fit for them to move about on.
Colhibe had a bluish tint to his grey plates, though he was hardly a savage, as a number of the Gazed had become and remained. Colhibe wore desert camo pants and had strapped across his thick bare chest an unreasonable number of grenades. Held in his right hand, he had what looked to be a wooden rifle, but there was no barrel, instead the wood came to a point. The stock of the rifle had three blue crystals carefully set in it and carefully caged with steel.
In Sunder there was such a thing as regular guns, most weapons owed more to the wand than the gunpowder cannon and its smaller children.
Colhibe was no savage, but he was certainly fierce, a mercenary. His current job?
There was a woop of joy. Colhibe reflexively readied his rifle, being half in stance anyway.
“Larico! Colhibe! Get over here! You won’t believe it! We’ve done it! We hit the jackpot!”
Colhibe scanned the horizon. He didn’t see anything, but you could never be too careful, they were in blasted lands, anything could happen. He gave a dismissive hoot.
He turned, his talons kicking up the whispering dust of the earth, his beak clamping shut, and his natural filters hissing. He climbed down a ladder in the pit behind him, a pit which ran deep into the ground.
He followed the glowpaste left by the others, through what seemed like a nightmarish maze. To think that supposedly it had once been a tower of one of the legendary mages. He came out into a cavern that had been excavated.
Before him were the two members of the dig he was protecting.
A man and a woman in full-body grey overalls, boots and gloves. Both were of ginger hair, had green eyes behind their goggles, they had short stubby horns, and each had a long cow-like tail with a tuft of orange hair on the end. They were quite a bit smaller than huldre usually are, verging on petite. Twins.
Huldre, beings gifted with strength and cursed with unmanageable hair, are descended from trolls. The twins were not Gazed as evidenced by the fact they both wore gasmasks. The ancestors of the twins had been safe in some manner of shelter, and thus escaped transformation or destruction.
They were Naturals, or as many Gazed would say, weak.
“You’re finally here! Wonderful! Come, Come. You have to see it!”
“More ruined books Larnaru?” Colhibe said, his voice, robotic and tinny as it vibrated out his closed beak.
Colhibe got the feeling Larnaru and Larico were grinning like madmen at him. Larico, quite excited answered instead of Larnaru.
“Nah, nothing like that, this one’s not cultural! We got one! A magecryst!”
Colhibe almost tripping in his rush to get over. He let out a low long hoot of amazement. Partly uncovered, was the upper part of a glowing red crystal. Canvas cloth was suspended in a dome over the crystal, to catch the motes of dust as they gently rose off of it. The dust was quite valuable. All magic was crystallized, and the dust was a particularly easy form to put to many uses.
Within the crystal was a very shocked bearded man in fine robes with all manner of presumably mystic symbols on them. The man was long dead, a pointy eared being, perhaps one of the aehi, the heart elves. There were few of them in Sunder.
Most long ago had died or became Gazed.
The two siblings and their friend gazed at the magecryst.
“You know what this means?” Larnaro asked.
“A lifetime supply of burgers” Larico said.
“We’ll have every hunter on Silem breathing down our necks if we don’t get it back to Dome quietly” Colhibe remarked.
Larnaro shook his head.
“You guys, well whatever, help me dig it out already! The alchemists will pay a fortune for this! What a time to be alive eh?”
“Sure is, and they’ll pay several fortunes!” Larico chirped.
Colhibe gave an affirmative hoot.
Under the whispering soil, three people made their fortune. It was a fairly common story. It was an age of fortune, of claiming the spoils of the past. Of growth and advancement. Sunder was yielding to her inhabitants.
The Reclamation Era.
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