Chapter 773: Ravine City
Eisen flapped his wings once and shot out of the city's gate. Once he was a fair distance away, he turned around once more, watching as the cloud giants closed up the entrance, conceiling it with clouds so that they may continue drifting around for a while, until they found a suitable spot for the Skald to depart the island himself.
The old man looked away from the flying city, and then tried to orient himself. Surely, the flying city moved quite a bit while Eisen was in there, since it was travelling rather quickly all the time, so it was a little tough for him to figure it out right away. Also because most of the area around Eisen simply looked like nature. That being the case, instead of trying to find the group that Eisen had left earlier today, he should just try and find out where the Stone Giant Clan's central city could be found. They were headed there, so even if Eisen didn't meet up with them until then, it wouldn't take too long for them to get together again. After all, they were all most likely within Fafnir's dungeon anyway, with the gate being placed inside of Askr's body so that they could save time on the transportation. It wouldn't take them all too long either.
"Maybe I can take this chance to relax a bit..." Eisen figured. After all, he was quite interested in the Stone Giant clan as well. They were the clan that was most similar to the fire giants in a lot of ways. While they were far, far more mild-natured, they were also artisans. But instead of focusing on the utility of things, working in the sometimes rather rough manner that Fire Giants tended to do with their craftsmanship, Stone Giants focused more on the artistic side of things. There were a lot of sculptors and other artists there, and while there were a lot of other types of craftsmen there, they still often focused on the aesthetics.
Overall, Eisen could describe that sort of difference between the two clans rather easily. While Fire Giants were more interested in the process of craftsmanship, Stone Giants were more interested in the the consequence of craftsmanship, the actual object or structure that had been created. Eisen himself felt like he embodied both. He felt the greatest satisfaction possible while creating something, but he still always focused on the final product, wanting to make something great with everything that he did.
Well, Eisen was at a point where, if he truly enjoyed the process, he would be ecstatic with the final product as well, no matter how it actually turned out. With the more metric-based view on 'success' that was introduced to him in this world, it was easier for him to feel a bit disappointed if the final item didn't have the abilities or stats connected that he wanted, but at the end of the day, that was how it was.
No matter what his view on craftsmanship was, he was excited about getting to see the people of the Stone Giant Clan. Well, he had already encountered one of them, the stone giant mage during the duels, but that didn't really count anyway.
Eisen slowly waved his hand and opened up a system window, quickly sending Kiron a message to let him know that he would be going ahead, and that they would meet in the capital of the Stone Giant clan. The fact that he was able to message his knights was a more than just useful ability. Of course, Kiron quickly bombarded him as he replied, but Eisen was able to calm him down a bit. They were going to get there sometime tonight anyway, so it wasn't like Eisen told him he was going off on a long-term trip alone, as he did when he went to heaven and hell.
It didn't take too long until Eisen saw the city in question. It was a tall, steep mountain, that had been split in half long ago. And in the ravine that had been formed as the two halves of the mountain were practically forced away from each other, the city of the Stone Giants had formed. At the bottom of the ravine was the place that the actual giants lived. Actually, if you just counted them, this could only be called a rather small town, but with the regular-sized races that lived here, this city was practically a metropolis. While the houses of the giants were built below, numerous blocks of living spaces were carved out for the regular-sized people. There were even bridges erected between the two sides that were large enough for their own cities, and were used as such as well.
The city of the fire giant clan might have looked somewhat similar, with most of its structures basically just carved out of rock, this city was completely incomparable in how impressive it was. The fire giants created their houses simply so that they had a place to live, so they ended up looking somewhat plane. They only ended up looking impressive because of their immense scale compared to what Eisen and the others were used to. But here, the artistic side of ancient architecture shone so brightly that it nearly blinded the old man. Between the individual buildings, intricate carvings and statues had been created. Even now, there were dozens of shrunken giants, and hundreds if not thousands of dwarves, humans or elves were also busily working alongside them to continue on with the deeper details of these artistic projects.
Eisen landed a short distance away so that he wouldn't be instantly spotted by the city's guards or watchmen. And in the forest surrounding the mountain city, he quickly changed out of his royal armor into his, far more comfortable, craftsmanship outfit. He nearly let out a sigh of relief as he tied the apron behind his back, simply because he felt far more comfortable wearing this compared to that stuffy armor. It didn't take long until Eisen reached the city's entrance after that. The large gates looked as if they were meant to close part of the gap that was created by the split mountain, but Eisen was quickly let inside.
He looked just like a traveller right now, and with a few quick and pleasant words, the watchmen didn't have much of a reason to doubt his intentions. They were surprised to see a half-giant, something that Eisen wasn't able to hide, since he wasn't able to reach the regular height of a giant just through the size-changing ability he gained from his racial skill, but clearly didn't care too much. Charisma-based abilities truly were incredibly useful for moments like this.
The old man was let into the city and was now able to get a proper look at everything. Of course, he also used his abilities to copy the surrounding architecture, so that he could get a proper look at the techniques that were used in this place. However, the first place that Eisen truly stopped at was in a place where a bit of a crowd had formed. Giants were gathered around the front of the shop, while there were regular-sized people standing above on what was practically a platform made to look down into the work area. And what Eisen saw there was surprising, to say the least.
It was a giant with nearly gray skin and a chiseled, rock-like structure. But at the base of his back, a thick tail was swinging from side to side, while rock-like horns stood on top of the man's head. He was a lot smaller than the other giants around. Not that he was just naturally short, though. It was just that, just like Eisen, his scale was naturally smaller than that of other giants. He was a Demon-Giant halfling. Of course that wasn't directly surprising, though. There were plenty of giant-halflings in this country, since the giants lived alongside humans, dwarves and elves regularly, it was simply incredibly rare to see the specific Demon-Giant combination. Both races had rather low birth-rates, so it could be seen as a miracle that a Demon and a Giant were able to have a child.
But more importantly, the giants were all watching this particular halfling work, with such expressions that made it seem as if they had waited their whole lives for this opportunity. And once Eisen watched for a bit longer, he also realized why that was the case. The halfling was carving a huge slab of rock into an intricate sculpture. The chisel in his hand seemed to chip away at it as if he was just working with butter, basically melding the material into whatever he wanted with absolute ease. For a moment, Eisen was wondering if the halfling was simply using alchemy to transmutate the rock, but since he was able to quickly confirm that he wasn't using any mana, that thought was quickly disposed of.
Eisen continued to watch the halfling, until soon enough, the statue was close to being completed. But that was exactly when the giant-demon halfling stopped his work, letting his arms hang down the sides of his body. The moment that they saw this, all the onlookers let out disappointed groans, practically immediately turning around and leaving, until nobody was left anymore. Confused as he was, Eisen stayed for a while longer to figure out what was going on. The halfling placed down his tools and let out a deeply frustrated sigh, burying his face in his hands.
"Not again..." he let out a moment later.
"What's going on, if you don't mind me asking?" The old man quickly inquired, and the halfling in front of him raised his head, "Huh? What do you care?"
"Nothing but curiosity. It's been a while since I came here, so I don't really know what's going on," Eisen quickly admitted, and the halfling immediately scoffed, "Mhm, right. You sure you don't just want to mock me like everyone else?"
"...Who was mocking you?"
"What? When did you come here? Didn't you see everyone staring just now, practically laughing at me? When they saw I failed again, they immediately left. Like they're watching me to make themselves feel good about their own work," the halfling let out with a disgusted scowl, glaring at the incomplete statue next to him, while Eisen stood there perplexed. These people obviously weren't laughing at him. They were enthralled in the halfling's work as if it was their own, and when they left, they did so out of disappointment, not because the show ended. As the old man watched the halfling look at his work, he felt even more curiosity come over him. This seemed like a good enough way to pass the time until the others got here.