Lost in Glory, Page 1Quentin Oakwood
LOST IN GLORY
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Lost In Glory
Copyright © 2011 by Quentin Oakwood
Cover art by Fenna.
"Lost In Glory" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You are allowed and encouraged to share and redistribute this work as long as it is not modified in any way, especially in regard to information about the author and website. You are not allowed to use this work commercially without permission of the author.
Dawn broke over the goblin village, but no cockerel was crowing this morning. It was a very bad omen. It meant that one of the goblins had eaten the cockerel. Again.
The goblins woke up early anyway. They didn't like to sleep late. They liked to eat early.
"I love the smell of roasted squirrel in the morning," one of the goblins said.
"Silly youngster, burning a perfectly good squirrel!" an elderly goblin complained.
"Raw squirrel is disgusting! How can you eat it like that, grandpa?"
The older goblin examined his squirrel carcass. "I can't. Not flat enough! Now, where was my club...?" He wandered away, muttering to himself and looking for some handy squirrel-flattening tool.
The goblins who weren't busy with activities that involved today's food were gathered around the latrine to deal with yesterday's food. There was quite a queue there.
"Who used up all the plantago leaves?!" a shout came from the inside.
"Use poison ivy!" a goblin awaiting his turn replied.
"You can take your poison ivy and stick it where the moon never peeks! Or I'll do it myself when I come out!"
"Kitty! Here kitty kitty kitty! Come here, my little furry breakfast!" a sleepy goblin called, while chasing a small ginger cat. The cat apparently didn't want to become a little furry breakfast. It skilfully raced between the wooden shacks. The goblin followed it a bit less skilfully, stumbling on everything in his path. Desperation for a tasty meowing meal kept him going. The pursuit ended when the cat jumped over a garbage pit. The goblin tried to follow, but he fumbled his jump and fell into a heap of rubbish.
Other goblins gathered around to watch. They rarely had any entertainment this early in the morning. A goblin covered with food scraps and various refuse wasn't the funniest thing ever, but still pretty amusing. Especially because he couldn't get out of the pit. Time and again he slid back into the garbage, spitting and cursing and begging for help. That only caused more laughter. Unfortunately the amusement was cut short by a voice coming from the watchtower. "Human! Danger! Human alert!"
The goblins sprang to attention. They dropped whatever they were doing and scrambled for their weapons. The garbage goblin was quickly pulled out. Human alert was no joke. Goblin chief Blahterk was already climbing the tower. "Where?" he asked. The watchgoblin pointed. Indeed, a human was approaching. The chief scratched his head. "Only one?"
"Well, you know, I used a singular noun, therefore I most certainly meant..."
"Shut up!" The chief cut the elaborate explanation short by hitting the watchgoblin on the head.
"Ow!" the goblin complained, but Blahterk ignored him. He turned his full attention to the approaching human. Something was wrong. A human, out here, in the middle of nowhere? It was most unusual. Humans didn't wander out here as a rule, with crazed old hermits being the exception. This one didn't qualify. Possibly crazed, probably not old, definitely not a hermit. Hermits didn't carry around swords and shields. Nor did they wear full plate armour. Knights, on the other hand, did.
A lone knight. With just his weapon and armour. No sack, no bag, nothing to keep provisions in. No way he could have got here like this. He would have perished on the way, surely. So many interesting ways to die in the wastelands... Thirst, hunger and heat were the most common, but not by any means the only ones. There were also scorpions, snakes, spiders, skunks and sloths. And other dangerous creatures, not necessarily sponsored by the letter S. Not to mention inanimate surprises like quicksands, miniature tornadoes, long-forgotten-but-still-working bear traps, and exploding treasure chests that someone inconveniently had left behind.
No. One does not simply walk into the Desolated Wastelands. One could simply ride into the Desolated Wastelands though. A mount would vastly increase travel speed, thus improving chances of survival. The knight surely had a horse. He just... left it somewhere. Somewhere quite far away, cause there was none in sight. Blahterk licked his lips. He might go look for it later. It was a long time since he had eaten a decent horse.
The knight was quite menacing. Knights usually were. Although a single knight couldn't possibly be a threat to a village with a few dozens of goblin warriors inside, it was better not to risk.
"Arm yourselves! Goblin the palisade! Bowgoblins, prepare to fire!"
Orders weren't really necessary. Every goblin knew what to do in case of a human alert. They were armed and ready. Their weaponry was crude: rusty swords, bent spears, bows that were basically pieces of wood with a string attached. Armour was no better. No goblin had a full suit. Most had just a piece or two. Damaged, dented, often too big. Whatever they had scavenged. One of the goblins brought the chief's sword. It was the only decent one in the village. 'Decent' meaning rust-free in this case.
The knight stopped and decided to announce his intentions. "Hear me, goblins, unholy creatures! I am here to eradicate you! Prepare to die, ugly green scum!"
The goblins just laughed. Not even the chieftain took this seriously, much as he tried. "Hey! Who are you calling 'green'!?" he shouted back. His own skin colour was much closer to brown.
"Yeah!" echoed Bluars, who was somewhat reddish.
"Violet forever!" cried the intensely violet Fuchsius.
"Shut up, you!" the chief quieted him.
"What?! Do you know how well can I hide in... in... in violet flowers?"
The knight didn't seem to pay any attention to the goblins' shouts. "Your warriors will perish and your walls will fall. Not a stone will be left standing!"
"Because everything is wooden here, you dolt!" Blahterk replied.
The human didn't seem to even acknowledge the response. Apparently he wasn't interested in a dialogue. A monologue was more like his thing. "I will kill each and every one of you! I will slaughter you like the vermin you are! Your foul presence will be removed from the surface of the earth!"
"All right," Blahterk called to his goblins, "which one of you copulated with his mother?" Disgusted groans were the only answer he got. Jokes about intercourses with female humans weren't funny. They were revolting. No self-respecting goblin would do that. Pinkish skin colour, a distinct lack of fangs, annoying, high-pitched voices... Hideous, simply hideous.
"I did! With his father!" shouted Rolfzor, the village jokester. This even more disgusting joke resulted in clods of dirt being thrown at him. "Knock it off, you homospeciephobes!"
In the meantime, the knight continued shouting his threats. "I will burn your wretched village to the ground! And sprinkle what remains with salt! And pepper! And cinnamon, whatever that is! So shall do I, paladin Arthaxiom the Great, Deliverer of Light, Slayer of Evil and Wicked, Guardian of the Ancient Secret of the Holy Mysterious Summoning of the Mythical Archpegasus, Apostle of the Rainbow Sturgeon, Holder of the Hidden Antique Malodorous Anvil of Ancient Knowledge..."
The Hidden Antique Malodorous Anvil of Ancient Knowledge was the straw that broke the chieftain's patience. This man was hostile and clearly insane. Goblins knew only one cure for insanity. "Fire!", he ordered.
"...Thirty-ninth Warrior of the Joyous Beige Dragon, Crushing Flame from the Eerie Enchanted Ea
Arrows flew towards the paladin. Most of them completely missed. A few struck his armour, but did no damage. "Keep firing!" the chieftain screamed, for no reason really, because the goblins didn't stop. Neither did they improve their aim. Their bows were primitive, but they usually were quite good with them. Not this time. It was some of the most awful shooting this village had ever seen. One goblin even managed to shoot himself in the feet. Both at once.
"...Turquoise Spearman of Heavens, Sword of Justice in the Gloom of Uncertainty!" Arthaxiom finished his litany. Arrows were still falling around him, but he completely ignored them. "Hear this, evil goblin village! I challenge you to a duel!"
"You challenge the entire village?!" the chief asked, somewhat shocked. He didn't know much about duelling, but he was quite sure it didn't work like that.
"Yes." This was the first time that the paladin acknowledged anything that was said or done to him.
"Uhhh..." Blahterk hesitated. "We don't accept!"
"That is because you are evil, wretched, cowardly and pitiful creatures! I will slay you anyway!"
"It was worth a try," Blahterk said to nobody in particular.
The paladin was heading straight for the gate. He wasn't in a hurry. His speed was suitable for a nice walk in a park, not for charging towards a fortified settlement in a hail of arrows. It didn't matter. The goblins were unable to cause him any harm. Quite a few of them managed to injure themselves instead.
Blahterk with some sort of morbid curiosity watched his bowgoblins. One of them just lost a finger. It was quite a feat. The chieftain never before had seen anyone lose a finger to a piece of string. He turned away. He needed to keep his eyes on the approaching enemy. Also, he didn't really need to see another goblin eat the cut-off finger. Goblins didn't like to waste anything, but that was going a bit too far.
Only now the chief could have a good look at Arthaxiom. He was rather intimidating. About a head taller than any human he had ever seen. A head taller than most humans meant two heads taller than most goblins, because goblins were vertically-challenged a bit. He was appropriately well-built too. At least the size of his armour indicated so. No single goblin would stand a chance in a fight against this giant. Fortunately, it wasn't going to be a single combat. The chief smiled. His goblins may have forgotten how to shoot, but surely they didn't forget how to swarm and stab a human. He almost pitied that poor sturgeon-worshipper. The paladin wouldn't be the first to try to scale the palisade. He also wouldn't be the first to get killed during his climb or shortly thereafter. This village would not fall easily.
Blahterk was quite proud of his village. It was strategically placed in the middle of nowhere. There were no forests nearby, no rivers, no anything. Just wasteland. Seemingly it was the worst place ever for a settlement. Yet somehow it thrived. The goblins even managed to get themselves some nice juicy small woodland furry animals to eat. They didn't know where did they come from, but they didn't care. A goblin doesn't look a gift squirrel in the mouth. A gift squirrel goes into a goblin's mouth instead.
The village itself contained about twenty huts. Each one housed a few goblin warriors. No females, no younglings. They lived somewhere else. Probably. The goblins weren't sure about the details, but it had to be working out somehow. Or else there would be no goblins at all.
Apart from the huts, there was also a catsty for cat breeding, a latrine and a garbage pit. The village was surrounded by a stout wooden palisade about thirty feet high, adorned with skulls of slain enemies. Mostly squirrels. With several dozens of goblin warriors ready to defend, there was absolutely no chance of a lone knight getting inside the settlement.
The entrance was guarded by a nice, sturdy gate. It was supposed to allow the goblins to enter and leave at will, and to keep unwelcome guests outside. Like maniac paladins, for example. It was a really good gate. Blahterk felt that one would need some sort of a battering ram to break through. Therefore he was pretty surprised to see the paladin attack it with his sword. He was even more surprised when it broke to pieces and fell inside after just two strikes. Other goblins also were surprised, but none as much as one unfortunate soul who for some reason was standing just behind the gate and got knocked down by falling debris.
"It shouldn't have done that!" the goblin chief exclaimed.
"You're a bad, bad gate," the crushed goblin said weakly. These weren't the best last words ever. Arthaxiom the paladin didn't care. He killed the goblin before he managed to get up.
"Attack! Swarm him!" Blahterk shouted and the melee began.
It was a weird battle. The paladin shouldn't have stood a chance against that many opponents. Had they attacked him all at once, like they were commanded, the human would have fallen. They didn't. Only two of the goblins stepped forward to engage. The rest stood back. They seemed uncertain of what they were supposed to do and settled on running around pointlessly, shouting obscenities and making faces.
The two goblins who decided to fight also had some problems with their memory. They completely forgot that activities like "parrying" or "dodging" are quite useful in combat. As a result of that they got promptly decapitated. When they fell, another goblin charged at the paladin with his spear held high, roaring a battle cry. Arthaxiom gracefully sidestepped the charge and tripped the speargoblin, who in an astonishing feat of acrobatics managed to impale himself on his own weapon.
Blahterk couldn't believe his own eyes. His goblins were losing the battle despite superior numbers. "Rush him! Fight, you idiots!" he screamed as another lone attacker was cut in half. In addition, just before getting separated in two, the hapless goblin randomly and dramatically threw away his sword. It hit another goblin in the throat, killing him on the spot. These unbelievable feats of ineptitude and bad luck rendered the chieftain speechless and motionless. It had to be a dream. It had to! They couldn't have been getting slaughtered by a single human!
They couldn't, but they did anyway. Arthaxiom was effortlessly decimating the goblins. It wasn't a display of master swordsmanship. He was simply standing there and killing them as they approached one after another, while the rest was waiting for their turn to die. Just like sheep. Sick, elderly sheep.
Only when a severed goblin head landed directly in front of him did Blahterk come out of his shock. He unleashed a war cry and ran towards the paladin. One of his goblins tackled him before he even got near.
"Chief, you cannot fight him!", the goblin cried.
"Get off me, you flea-ridden moron!" Blahterk elbowed him in the head. The goblin didn't let go.
"No! I must protect you!"
While Blahterk tried to free himself from his overzealous follower, the remaining goblins continued their struggle. It looked more like headless chickens running around than an organized attempt to defend the village. Especially that some of the goblins ended up headless. The rest of them died in other spectacular or comical ways. Finally there were no more warriors. Only then the protective goblin let go of his chieftain and ran towards Arthaxiom with a blood-curdling scream. Unfortunately, he tripped over his own legs and fell down. The paladin ended the goblin's life with a powerful kick. Blahterk just sighed.
"Watch, wretched creature, as your cult of evil falls!" Arthaxiom said to Blahterk.
"It was a goblin village, you dolt!" the goblin chief replied.
"Good triumphed over evil once again."
"You slaughtered everyone!"
"You... you brainless piece of garbage!"
"Your puny insults do not impress me, bug-ridden spreader of disease! I will kill you, I will extinguish your species, and all related species too! And the good people will erect a statue in remembrance of my Heroism, and yearly festivities will be held in my honour, and there will be feasting and singing..."
"Die, you bastard! Die!" Blahterk was fully aware that he has a better chance to win a dwarfspotting contest against a two-headed giraffe than to defeat this opponent, but he was going to try anyway.
And he was going to use his skull for a chamber pot should he succeed. It was the least he could do for his fallen comrades.
"I shall not die," Arthaxiom replied. The goblin's wild slashes were easily caught on the paladin's shield. "Nor am I..."
"Shut up!" Blahterk realised he was accomplishing nothing and retreated a few steps. "Do you have to talk so much?!"
"Yes. This is an epic duel between good and evil! Between right and wrong! Between day and night! Between heaven and hell! Between unicorn and..." The paladin didn't get to say what is the opposite of unicorn, because his opponent attacked again. Unfortunately, putting the end to the monologue was the only thing that Blahterk achieved. Once again he saw he was getting nowhere and disengaged.
"Could you please allow me to finish my Heroic speech, you sack of unholy filth, before I slay you?" the paladin asked.
"No!" If the best he could do was to annoy his opponent, he was going to annoy him as much as possible. He redoubled his efforts to get through his opponent's defence. That exhausted the Arthaxiom's patience. He smacked the goblin with his shield and sent him flying.
"See, wretched whelp of a writhing wraith, dirt is the last thing you taste before your demise!"
"I fell on my back! Are you blind?!" Blahterk quickly got up. He had dropped his sword when he fell, but it didn't do him any good anyway. He needed something better, and fast.
"Running away like a duck from a broken carriage, are you?!" the paladin called after him, displaying an inability to come up with a sensible metaphor. "You can run, but you cannot hide from my holy wrath!" But the goblin didn't intend to run away. He ran to grab a wooden pole from the shattered gate. It was a crude, unwieldy weapon, but it was longer than the paladin's sword.
"Puny goblin! If you think you will defeat me with a piece of wood..." CLANG! Blahterk didn't ponder the matter. Instead he decided to test it in practice. With complete disregard to his own safety, he ran towards the human and hit him on the head with the pole as hard as he could. Surprised Arthaxiom didn't raise his shield in time. His helmet protected him, but the force of the strike made him stagger. He made a step back and prepared to block the next strike. "You are out of luck, little worm! My sturdy shield... AAARGH!" This time the paladin was ready to protect his head, but Blahterk struck low. Arthaxiom's leg failed him and he fell on one knee.