Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Evil Is As Evil Does

This is a bit of fiction from my 7 Kingdoms world. It gives a bit of the background of the goblin races.

Fire. Smoke. Blood. Chaos. A white cloak flapping around gleaming steel. The howls of his troops, in anger, fear, and pain.

Kregor woke from his nightmare, and into another. He was bound hand and foot. His wounds had not been treated. Someone had voided their bowels, and the stench was horrendous. He blinked rapidly, trying to clear the crust from his eyelids. He was surprised to discover that he was in his own tent. All of his belongings had been dragged out, though.

His nightmare had been memories, then. He and his tribe had been camped, waiting for scouts to return. They just needed two or three more good raids this season. But then the paladins had come. His men were trained and hard, but no match for those fanatical killers. With magic and steel, they had butchered everyone. Everyone but him. Him they had paralyzed, forced to watch the slaughter. Helpless and impotent.

Now he lay here, one of a half dozen survivors, and probably the only one who would survive to see the new moon. He wasn't just a prisoner, he was a prize. He knew what came next. A forced march into one of their stinking cities. A public trial, in which he would be blamed for far more crimes than he possibly could have committed. Humiliation by the humans, followed by a gruesome and painful execution.

Everything was lost.

Two human warriors came into the tent. These were not paladins, but common warriors. They turned up their noses and commented on how goblins always stank. Just as though Kregor always used his rug as a latrine. One of them roughly checked his bonds, and the other brought him a drink of water.

Then the paladin came in. He was still in his armor, but it and his white cloak were spotless. Even in the feeble light streaming through the door, he shone. How he ever managed to hunt was a mystery to Kregor.

"Well, goblin, what have you to say for yourself? Your little group here ran quite the campaign of terror through several peasant villages this year. Many good men died. It is funny, though. Once you met a true military force, your rabble disintegrated and died. I would think that your people would have figured out by now to stay on your side of the mountains. But, of course, you never were bred for your intelligence."

The clipped tones of the paladin's Camp Common irritated the goblin. So did his insistence to sprinkle words of High Common to prove his breeding. Kregor didn't know what those words meant, but he understood enough. He was the enemy, the villain, and little better than an animal. He had been judged by this pompous, civilized murderer for hire, and been found worthless.

It was time to demonstrate his worth.

"You dare?" Kregor roared, startling the guards. "You come, attack in the night, use magic to sneak past the sentries. And yet you tell me I am the one without honor? We take no more than we must to survive. We do not kill those who do not resist. We never rape your women, or slaughter your children, as you do to our villages!

"In the days of the wars, your wizards made us. My great grandfather was born in your towers, and died on your fields. Once your war was lost, you had no more use for us. Instead of the farms and forges we were promised, we were driven over the mountains. We were driven into the darkest of the forests and the foulest of the marshes. We were given no land that was worth a single coin.

"My forefathers died by the hundreds. We tried to make homes, but it was impossible. Our children were starving, so we returned to the one thing we knew we were good at. We returned to war.

"And now you come here, in your fancy armor and soft hands, intent on denying us even that. You, who have never known a day of want in your life, look down your nose at us. And you, who made us, dare to call us evil?"

With that last shouted accusation, Kregor leapt from his knees to his feet. The guards, used to their pitiful human weakness, were taken by surprise. The goblin reached into the depths of his soul, and called to the souls of his fallen brothers. He cried out, "IIINNNNUUUSHKAAYYAAA!!!!". His body began to swell and grow. The ropes that bound him parted like spider webs. He reached out with a hand, now grown massive and strong, and grasped the paladin's face. Before the holy warrior could call on his magic, Kregor crushed his jaw. First rule of dealing with magic: If they can't speak, they can't cast.

The guards had recovered their wits, and lunged at him with their swords. Their assault was pitiful, and they badly underestimated the reach of his arms. He cuffed their heads as he would a child, but the strength of the spirits turned his casual clouts into powerful blows. The warriors staggered drunkenly and fell senseless to the floor.

The paladin had more guts than Kregor had given him credit for. Even with his chin and chest a mess of blood, he had run out of the tent and managed to summon help. Death was coming for the goblin. But he was determined to not meet it alone.

"EKRESH! INMA GOSHNI KAGERI!!" Kregor shouted. He shouted it again. He began chanting it at the top of his lungs. The humans were very frightened by his voice booming out of the tent. Then, the winds began. Loose stones were picked up and flung about. It came screaming through the branches. And within the winds, shapes could be seen. Just shadows at first, then faces. Vaguely formed arms reached out and tore at the soldiers.

The ghosts of hundreds of past goblins rallied to Kregor's cry. They descended on the humans with bloody fury. Soon, the screams of the living joined the shrieks of the dead. Bits of bodies were blown about with the rest of the debris. The force that had so brutally destroyed the goblin raiding party was being destroyed in turn.

In the center of this gory cyclone stood two men. The paladin, though prevented from using his magic, was still protected from the touch of the vengeful dead. Kregor stood before him, surrounded by the tattered remains of his tent. He ripped the splintered remains of one of the tent poles from the wreckage, and held it as a spear. The paladin ripped a sword from the hand of one of his comrades, and squared his stance.

The fight was brutal, but swift. Kregor had gained the advantage of size and reach. He had taken away the paladin's magic, and forced him to use a lesser sword than he was familiar with. The paladin struck home several times, but paid dearly in his own blood for each blow. Soon enough, the goblin knocked the paladin to the ground and drove his spear through a chink in the armor.

The death of the paladin was the end. The soldiers had been ripped apart. Kregor's men, and countless other goblins, were avenged. He dropped to his knees, throwing back his head. "I am ready," he said. "Take your price."

The last shriek on the field was the goblin's own, as the revenants he had called took him to join their ranks.

No comments:

Post a Comment