Rounding out the July winners is Fizzle the Drite. The picture doesn’t go with the cute character, but he had one of his best scenes here. Legends of Windemere: The Compass Key is where I boosted his presence in the series. Prior to that, he was a side character that faded away as things progressed. Glad that’s not how it turned out because he’s a lot of fun to write.
Fizzle darts around the small camps that surround the castle, his form unseen by the enslaved workers resting below him. Many of the orcs look to be suffering from exhaustion as they lie on the ground or slump over piles of stone. Several of them are lying eerily still by their tools, their limbs splayed in the mud. The giltris are more energetic and lively, but Fizzle eventually notices some suspicious bones scattered about their side of the clearing. Dipping low to get a closer look, he realizes that the lizardmen have been cannibalizing each other to survive. Darting into the sky again, the drite shudders at the thought of what these creatures have gone through. He cautiously hovers whenever a giltris sniffs at the sour breeze, the fear of being noticed driving Fizzle high above the ground.
“Stop sitting around and get back to work!” shouts an angry voice from the orc side of the clearing. “Our enemies will be here soon!”
Fizzle zips over the castle and around the central tower to quietly land above the lowered drawbridge. Standing on the wide pathway is a young, brown-haired man wearing leather armor and pointing an elegant bastard sword at the orcs. He screams and yells at the workers until they stop complaining and get to their feet. When they refuse to move quickly, he storms off the bridge and beheads the nearest worker. The others rush to action, grabbing tools and stones to carry into the castle and up to the nearly completed battlements.
“Kayn seems to have improved,” Fizzle whispers in guttural Draconic, staring down at the yelling man. “I should kill him right away, but I can’t reveal myself yet.”
Fighting the temptation to cast a spell at the traitorous gypsy, the drite flutters off the castle wall and explores the unfinished rooftops. The structures are slowly being built to resemble a series of small domes, but most of them have gaping holes in their centers. To fix them, the orcs are carefully climbing rickety ladders with stones and tools tied to their backs. A scream startles Fizzle and he whirls around to see a worker plummet to the courtyard, the man’s ladder having snapped in half. The crunch of the slave’s body hitting the ground makes the drite feel sick and he flies back over the castle wall.
He makes another pass around the giltris to watch them finish digging the moat. Hundreds of wells have been dug into the ground to find enough water to fill the deep trench, each one fitted with a rope and bucket. With hisses and snarls, the creatures struggle to drag heavy vats of water toward the moat. A group of the lizardmen is nervously guarding a large cage with something big moving inside. The drite considers investigating, but decides that he has pushed his luck far enough for one night.
The whoosh of wind from above is the only sign that something is about to attack, but it is enough to let Fizzle dart out of the path of the large creature. Dripping with blood, the leather-winged monster screeches as it wheels around to come at its invisible target again. Its mouth is filled with needle-like fangs that the drite barely manages to pull his tail away from. Soaring higher into the sky, the cryphax prepares to dive at its prey with even more force. It stops when it no longer senses its prey with its aura-seeing eyes, the diamond-like orbs floating in its face. The creature flaps its wings as it cautiously scans the area for any sign of the dragon.
“Fizzle here!” he shouts as he races at the cryphax from behind.
The creature is about to spin around when its eyes sparkle and it awkwardly lurches to its left. Fizzle dips under its chomping mouth while his illusionary self passes harmlessly through the cryphax. Before he is out of reach, the drite whips his enemy in the face with his tail. Yelping in pain, the monster plummets for a few seconds before steadying itself. With a predatory hiss and a bleeding welt down the center of its face, the cryphax chases after Fizzle.
“You slow!” the drite calls back.