Part Twelve: Shale


 

They come across a trader who has a dusty old control rod and he says it belongs to a golem in some backwater mountain town. He gives them the rod (for a small price) and the magic word to activate the golem. They come to the town, wave the rod and say the magic word… and nothing happens! After poking around the town and rescuing them from a demon or two (well, most of them :X )… they learn a bit more about the mage who owned the golem, his dabblings in demonology, and how the golem went nuts one day and killed him with extreme prejudice. They also get the real magic word to try out on the golem, which has been a stone statue in the center of the little town for nigh 40 years.

 

Valorien gripped the rod and looked up at the stone giant. Alistair asked him, “Are you sure this is a good idea?”

“No.”

“Oh, well. That’s comforting.”

“You will see how we manage bad decisions,” the elf told him.

“And how’s that?”

“The best we can.”

“Great….” Alistair shifted his weight uncomfortably.

“Probably the same thing will happen as last time,” Valorien said.

“I’ll keep thinking positively. Well, go on. Wave the magic wand and say the magic word.”

Alistair and Wynne stepped back as Valorien approached the golem. He pointed the rod at it and repeated the word the old woman had given him. After a moment, he looked to his companions and shrugged again.

Suddenly, with the sound of griding boulders, the stone giant shook its fists at the sky. “A curse on the winged scourges!” it growled in a sepulchural voice. Then it turned its glowing stone gaze on the elf standing before it. “It has the control rod, I see. Why has it freed me, then? To fetch and carry its heavy boxes? To pick it up and carry it when its fleshy feet get tired?” The golem loomed over Valorien. “Well?”

Valorien looked at the control rod in his hand, then up into the stone golemn’s scowling face. He held out the rod and opened his hand, offering it to the construct. It lowered its brows further, glaring at him. Then it looked down at the control rod a long, long moment. It raised its eyes again, narrowing them. It tilted its head slightly. “Is it trying to trick me?”

“No,” Valorien answered. “You wish to be master of your own life. No one should be enslaved to another.”

Tentatively, the golem moved as if to reach for the rod, but stopped. It’s face shifted into a countenance of puzzlement. “It does not know a golem cannot touch a control rod? And yet…” Slowly, it touched a rock fingertip to the rod, then jerked back. “It seems to be broken.” Its voice lightened in hope. “Quickly, give me a command.”

Valorien shrugged. “Walk over there.” He pointed.

“No,” the stone giant growled. “Hah! I said ‘no’ to the Master of the Control Rod! Quickly, give me another command.”

Valorien looked at Alistair and shrugged. To the golem he said, “Pick up that basked of seed.”

With a roar, the golem strode over to the basket and gave it a mighty kick. Broken wicker and seed flew everywhere. “Hah! Take that, you airborne blight!”

“Oh, great,” Alistair told Valorien. “You’ve unleashed a monster.”

“He seems to take issue with birds.”

“You would too, if you were a statue.” The elf gave Alistair a quizzical look. “You know? Statues and pigeons? And it had its face turned up and its mouth open and everything.” He wrinkled his face in disgust.

The golem stomped over. “What is it saying about me?”

“Why do you keep calling us ‘it’?” Alistair asked.

“Does it not call ME ‘it’?”

“Uh…”

“Peace,” said Valorien. He introduced himself, Alistair and Wynne, and Tarroth as well.

“Even the dog has a name?” the golem asked bitterly.

“Do you not have a name?” Valorien asked.

It — he — frowned. “I had a name once…. I think… Shale.”

Valorien nodded solemnly. “We are pleased to meet you, Shale. Do you wish to have the control rod?”

Shale shook his head. “No. It may keep it.”

“As you wish. We would like you to accompany us.”

“Accompany it? Where?”

“Actually,” said Alistair, “we’re on a mission to destroy a darkspawn horde and end the Blight.”

“That may prove more amusing than squashing everyone in this town.” Shale looked thoughtfully at the buildings, granite fists clenching slowly with a rock-grinding sound.

Alistair turned a worried look on Valorien. The elf merely said, “There are significantly more darkspawn in the horde than there are people here.”

“Hmmm….” The golem paused to give it thought. Then it looked down at them. “As long as there are fleshy creatures to crush, it should prove amusing to travel with it.”

“Just no crushing villagers or the like,” Alistair warned.

“Very well. I shall accompany it, until I grow bored.”

They made haste to leave the village then and there, the golem following behind with heavy footsteps. Alistair whispered aside to Valorien, “This is a really bad idea.”

“It is better than leaving him here with the villagers,” the elf pointed out.

“Just rememer what it did to its former master. And we have no way of controlling it!”

“We are not its master now, therefore it should not take issue with us.”

Alistair’s retort was cut off by a sudden loud squawk and heavy boom. They flinched and turned around, to see Shale standing there, a pool of blood spreading from under one foot, and a few stray chicken feathers wafting to the ground. The golem just looked at them. They stared back for a minute. Then Alistair said to Valorien, “Right, no issues at all. Unless any of us sprout feathers. Oh, wait… there is Morrigan.”

“Alistair!” Wynne scolded.

“What? She might.”

“You don’t have to sound so hopeful,” the mage reprimanded him.

“Oh, yes; you’re right. Got to work on that.”

 

They brought the golem back to camp. Fortunately, bandits, bounty hunters, and of course darkspawn tended to hound the travellers wherever they went, keeping the golem amused and preventing it from squashing their heads in their sleep.

 


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