The Wind in the Willows
“I don’t mean to sound like a racist, but there are no innocent goblins.”
– Marro Jorghul
From the diaries of Marro Jorghul,
I awoke to the dinge of the cell and immediately spotted the most lurid creature I have ever seen. A dwarf, dark of skin, orange of hair – he wore armor of glossy black leather trimmed in rose, and spoke like a woman. His golden helm was painted with elaborate makeups. I was horrified. Never in all of my days have I seen such an abomination.
Sitting to my other side was a pallid dark elf, incredibly tall and thin. I resolved to watch the elf, as such are capricious, fickle, and devious creatures. It was then that I realized that I had been separated from my beloved stallion, Darkmoore. I crossed to the bars and indignantly shrieked for an explanation until a noble in pale blue robles descended the stairs, his hands dancing in elaborate motions.
The man wore a sheaf of parchment around his wrist like a bracelet, and told us that he had acquired a wealthy tract of land in the untamed Bounty Wood. I was not familiar with the region, and he informed us that we were currently in the city of Marmor. Marmor rules the other two mannish kingdoms, its mining district the Iron Kingdom and the Arbor Kingdom, its penal colony. The noble told us that, if we deemed the task of liberating his woodlands from bandits to be of our station, we would be granted a great reward. We accepted this offer, leaving his villa and setting off on the road towards the wood.
Along the road leaving Marmor’s walls we set up camp and created a small fire. A legion of soldiers raveling towards the Iron Kingdom stopped and accosted us, accusing us of being bandits. I attempted to defuse the situation with my usual wit and charisma, but for some reason the obstinate general refused to leave until the elf, Egnace, said something to him and made some sort of hand gesture towards myself and Aich, the dwarf.
As we continued on our travels the next day, glutted on deer that Egnace had hunted, we saw upon the horizon a roiling mass of straw. I loosed a bolt from my heavy crossbow into it at range and then took to it will my morningstar and chain, while Aich unlimbered an extravagant cutlass and Egnace began hacking at the vile mass with his dagger. Androgynous forms of wheat came clawing out of the mass – aether-damned monstrosities, we destroyed them, but not before one of them managed to worm its sharp tendrils through my mail and flay a good portion of my chest.
After that horrid encounter we entered the Bounty Wood. As we trekked through the undergrowth we came upon a small valley, and were suddenly accosted by flying arrows on either side. A rope trap ensnared the limb of Darkmoore and I was thrown from his saddle onto the earth. We searched rapidly for the identities of our intruders, but to no avail – they had concealed themselves in the undergrowth. I loosed a bolt from my crossbow into the nearest one, as did Egnace, while Aich charged up the hillside with his falchion swinging. In lieu of reloading, I heard our attacker swearing in a foreign tongue as he took my bolt – I charged up the hill and swung my Morningstar into the undergrowth where his voice emanated from, and removed its spiked head coated in blackish ichor. Goblins!
Aich and I were now man-for-man with the two remaining goblins. Both raised their makeshift weapons, but by some cruel chance the blades of both weapons fell out of their hafts due to their grievous goblin craftsmanship. While Aich stamped one into powder, I rode down the other and obliterated him as per his camouflaged fellow. Meanwhile, Egnace had been waylaid by a horrific foe. A dread pervert of the goblinkind, his combatant danced around him capriciously, sinking his dagger into Egnace’s right buttock no fewer than twice. I have seen lust before – even experienced it, myself, as a long lad in Jarosh. I once courted a lady as my father instructed, stalking her for twelve days with various musical instruments. Then, I paid her father with a cow and a pouch of bronze pieces. I saw that same lust broiling within the froggy eyes of that fiendish beast. Egnace turned to deflect his third blow, but instead the dagger sliced deep into his foot, crippling him. The goblin snatched Egnace’s money pouch and began to charge away. I, having rode forwards to slaughter greater pastures of the creatures, turned to the thieving pervert and ran him down. Aich tried to engage with a running lunge but accidentally buried the blade off his falchion in a nearby tree and snapped it clear from its hilt.
Egnace managed to fire a crossbow bolt at the goblin, nailing his hand to a tree. While I scrounged for Egnace’s dropped money pouch and levered the wounded elf onto the back of my hinnie, Aich interrogated the lustful toad.
The goblin revealed that he and his band had been hired by the local humans to defend the roads from small, armed bands. We managed to wrangle a map out of the goblin and brought him with us until we reached the cave where he claimed his tribe was camping. Aich bludgeoned the pervert to death against a tree, much to my amusement, and we descended into the cave.
We were immediately greeted by a labyrinth of enormous spider webs and the clicking of mandibles in the darkness. We made a tactical advance back the way we had entered.
In the clearing outside, Aich formed a plan. One of use would take a spar oilskin and douse the caves interior with gasoline, creating a trail back up to the clearing. Another of us would use a tinderbox to light the oil, setting the cave and its occupants ablaze! I thought that this plan was ingenious, until I realized that I was the only armed individual capable of autonomous locomotion.
I descended into the caves with my crossbow loaded and the oil trailing behind me. As I rushed back out, Egnace ignited the oil and with a terrific thunderclap, three flaming, screeching spiders came charging out. One of them scuttled up to me and sank its mandibles into my helmet, its fangs punching clear through the faceplate and burying themselves in my skull. I punished it duly by ensnaring fully half of its limbs with my morningstar’s chain and tearing them off in a flood of fluid. Egnace dispatched the second with another well-placed bolt, while Aich backhanded the third with his vicious shield.
I felt rather groggy so I laid down my head. When I awoke, the spider’s venom had worn off and Egnace had collected the poison from the remaining corpses for later use. We ransacked the cave, and I laughed at how the treacherous, perverted goblin had tried to deceive us. This was no goblin camp! The bastard died, as he deserved. The charred goblin corpses immolated within the cave were clearly a part of some elaborate ruse. Egance had suggested that perhaps the goblins were being truthful and were in fact innocent, but I imparted to him some of the worldly wisdom I had acquired in the legion. I don’t mean to sound like a racist, but there are no innocent goblins.
I have since developed symptoms that the elf, Egnace, described with long elvish words, such as “arachnophobia” and “pyromania.”
Egnace slunk into the camp of bandits and quickly found their main pantry, dosing the water and bread with spider venom. I suggested that we try and knock down the walls and lay siege with improvised explosives and ranged assault, but nobody else seemed to see the genius of my plan, so I put away the homemade incendiary pouches I had made for later. Once inside, Egnace came aross the leader of the viallge, a heavily armored dwarf. The dwarf revealed that in reality this peaceful village had been constructed long before the noble had ever set eyes upon bounty wood, and that this noble had sent many other parties there in the past to liberate the woods for him. The dwarf made Egnace an offer – return with the warrant of the noble, and he would reward us with silver.
Upon hearing this, I put down the ruptured barrel of oil that I had been dragging around the perimeter of the campsite, killed the light of my tinder, and mounted Darkmoore, infuriated that I, Prince Marro Jorghul, had been deceived. The three of us returned to Marmor and approached the noble’s villa, but the doorman told us that the noble was currently frequenting a gala at the town hall before leaving by boat later that evening. Egnace went to watch for the boat, while Aich stayed at the villa awaiting the noble’s return. I volunteered to go to the town hall, eager to confront the treacherous worm.
Two guards attempted to bar me entry, but I informed them as to my royal bloodline and my great endeavors, which left them suitably cowed. I think I heard one of them mutter something about “fucking nobles” and “albinos”, but I was probably mistaken, as his voice was surely shaken from my oration and I am not fluent in the language of the imbecile. As I entered, I informed the noble that a legion of goblins had pursued us out of Bounty Wood, sporting my spider bite as proof – an eye for an eye, a lie for a lie. The king sent guards along the road and asked me where he should best direct them – I told him that the largest goblin detachment was moving through the straw fields. I hope the dryads made short work of the soldiers.
The noble and I returned to his villa, where we confronted him and demanded an explanation. He clapped his hands together and summoned a great flood of magical flame. As I have articulated before – I hate magi. Coursing through his eyes I saw the arrogance of the intellect, the sloth of the wizard, and the envy of the merchant. I raised my gauntleted hand to block the flames and for a second, the gauntlet burned with a dread cold and black light shone from its iron plate. The flames died, singing not an ounce of me. Cackling madly at the merest flash of my former powers, I unlimbered my crossbow and blew the noble’s brains across the wall of his villa. Using a blade that Aich had looted from the “goblin camp,” I carved the word “liar” into the noble’s flesh and resolved to string him from the villa’s skylight, for all to see. Unfortunately, the doorman heard me articulating my philosophies to Aich, and there were suddenly an abundance of guards rushing through the doors. Aich severed the noble’s arm, which bore the warrant, and dove out a window, taking an expensive-looking lockbox with him. I too exacted via another window and threw my improvised explosive to draw their attention. As the guards rushed away, I mounted Darkmoore and set off into the woods.
Back in the campsite, we presented the severed limb to the dwarf. He awkwardly thanked us (clearly cowed by our martial prowess!) and rewarded us with three silver ingots, each. I tore open the lockbox stolen from the noble’s villa, and was rewarded with a trio of magical projectiles, stones summoned by a glowing rune within the box. My armor deflected the three pebbles, however, and for a second I thought I saw my gauntlet glow with that black hunger once again…