Olbia’s Council Palace – extract

The Shadow, his master the magician Alexis, and the shaman Pamphilos arrive in Olbia, capital of the Nekros lands. They prepare themselves to rob the imposing and wonderful Council’s palace. 

The lion’s mouth was wide open and I could see his pointy dentures in clear detail. His grey eyes stared at me: solidly, blankly, fixing me with an intense glare. The lion didn’t move so much as a single one of his long and elegant eyelashes; their delicacy a stark contrast to the raw force that emanated from his jaws. He was beautiful and terrible.

Why he had a grotesque, half naked mermaid sprawled on his back was really something that only his creator could explain. The large, round scales of her grey tail gave her the air of a giant sardine and the impression of movement that the sculptor had managed to capture only served to intensify this feeling. I could almost smell the salty, pungent odour of dead fish.

Now I’ve always aspired to be an art enthusiast gifted with a delicate and sophisticated sensibility, or at least that’s what I tell anyone who is stupid enough to ask, and I could list at least ten different symbols of majestic grandeur that I had come across in my time and that even includes a golden unicorn. However, when thinking of the great sculptures of this age the Nekros, ‘giant, scaly fish flattening a cat’ would never quite make the top of my list.

The Council’s choice was beyond my capacity to comprehend. I understand that they like fish in Olbia but this was ridiculous. As if to prove my point, assuming it still needed to be – which it certainly didn’t in my opinion, the large shell the mermaid held in her hands started to leak some sort of dirty water. It dribbled down her arm and trickled from the point of her elbow into the pool below. After a little while I came to realise it was probably part of the display, rather than someone trying to erode the thing away. The hideous statue sat on a grey pedestal in the middle of a large plaza surrounded by the stone steps of the Council buildings. The hollow basin that formed the middle of the square was filled with water as dark as Nekros light, shining in an infinity of black hues in the morning sun.

‘This is the fountain of liquid Nekros light,’ Pamphilos said, ‘it is a tradition in the Nekros lands that while the light flows the leader is still strong.’

‘Fascinating,’ my master replied.

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