Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Hacks of Gorm, Part V: Campfire Terrors

A continuing series that follows the exploits of Gorm in the Nights Skies Over Valhallow World

Night had fallen and the stars shone brightly. Even Esservassa was now finally quiet. The blue-haired woman had taken her time in grasping what had been done to her fellow cultists by the red dwarf ‘Liberators’. Whether she was finally beginning to understand the insanity of her views or if she had instead begun to justify their attack with yet more of her strange cult beliefs though, Gottschalk could not say.

They climbed the mountain trail further, their muscles aching at the endeavor.

Gorm huffed finally when they reached a more level spot. “Me not get high enough to see what really happening.”

Gottschalk was perplexed: “High enough for what? We’ve already seen the Helltowners invade Dinglesfuhr.”

“Ha! Ha! HA!” Gorm laughed heartily and clapped Gottschalk on the back, his mighty barbarian comradery nearly knocking the man off the precipice. “Me want to get high enough to see why they invade Dinglesfuhr!”

At that, Gottschalk gave a bitter laugh after steadying himself. “Because of people like her inviting them in.”

Gorm stared at Gottschalk and then at Esservassa. Finally, he began to laugh again. “No! They invite goblins in, not squat-red-dwarf-people, silly Gott-Chalk!”

“They came together: the goblins disrupted Dinglesfuhr, so that it could then be conquered by the red dwarves.”

Esservassa made to make a reply, but then stopped herself. She looked exhausted and seemed to realize that the two men wouldn’t be very open to hearing any of her cult’s Edicts.

The three climbed higher on the mountain trail for a few more minutes until they came upon an open area to the right. It was flatter, had some frozen grass upon it, and two stout cedars gave some cover from the winter winds.

They entered cautiously and set about making camp. Gorm dragged in some dead branches from the woods behind and broke them with his mighty arms. Gottschalk cleared an area of grass to make a fire pit and some bedding. He looked at Esservassa, unsure whether she could be trusted to stay with them. She ignored him and instead glanced down at Fjord Vallee far below, a look of regret on her face. 

After a simple meal of heated rations, they all lay down to rest.

Gorm spoke first: “Me want to stay warm! You want cuddle, Kalla?”

Esservassa simply rolled over away from the barbarian, and lay very still.

“You want cuddle, Gott-Chalk?”

Gottschalk then lay very still too. He had considered asking them both about setting a watch, but he guessed that all discussion for tonight was now officially at an end.

* * *

The firelight grew dim and Gottschalk awoke suddenly. He had been dreaming about the prior day’s dark events: the goblin attacks and the red dwarf invasion. His land had been destroyed! Still, he was tired. He crunched his body together in an effort to get warm enough to fall asleep again. Gorm did not seem to have that problem: the large man lay snoring loudly. For a moment, he even considered taking the barbarian up on his earlier offer.

But then he realized that something was wrong. Where was Esservassa?

Gottschalk leapt up and began looking around the path near their small campsite. He was no ranger, but he guessed that the woman had made her way back to Dinglesfuhr.

Suddenly, he heard a shriek further down the trail. He rushed as quickly as he could, almost feeling like he was back in his own home, running down the hall to check on some urgent matter.

Soon he came to the level spot upon the trail where they had stopped earlier. Esservassa was there, screaming and crying: a number of dark forms were upon her!

Gottschalk looked around, trying to decide what to do next. There were too many for him to fight alone. Still, though he didn’t care for Esservassa, he wouldn’t leave the woman to her fate.

He realized then that having to cuddle with Gorm wasn’t the most terrifying thing that one could face tonight, after all.






Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Hacks of Gorm, Part IV: Why Cultists So Stupid?


A continuing series that follows the exploits of Gorm in the Nights Skies Over Valhallow World

The day grew late and cold. Gorm huffed deeply, steam rushing from his mighty throat. He stopped and put his blue-haired bundle down along the rocky, ascending path.

“Me tired of carrying people. Me want fight!”

Gottschalk nodded: he too felt discomfort at the presence of a cultist, but unlike their former companions that they had carried before, she wasn’t dead... yet.

“We sent Gudre’s and Brodt’s bodies back to the Fjord. Why would we travel to the mountains now?”

“Me need to see.”

“See what?”

“See.”

Gottschalk shook his head at Gorm’s brevity. He knew it was unwise to travel in the mountains during winter. Still, they were probably safer than staying in Dinglesfuhr.

The two turned and looked down at the devastation in the distance.

Hordes of dark monsters, the goblins and their larger orc kin, still poured into the city from the east and the south. Even though the humans were broken here and their lands plundered, the inhumans still came.

And the great red balloons, the snoollabs that they had seen earlier that day, were now beginning to land near the city center too. What few remaining Dinglesfuhrians, those not slain, defiled, or imprisoned by the orcs and goblins already here, looked up at the dirigibles in awe.

Until they landed on them.

Scores of red dwarves, clad in fell iron and red, disembarked upon the resulting human corpses and fanned out through the ruined streets, shooting and stomping any remaining humans who were foolish enough to have remained around. Larger snoollabs even began to unload great, armored bears and dread engines of war, powered by the Helltowners infernal device.

“The Liberators have arrived!”

Both Gorm and Gottschalk turned to the one who had spoken: Esservassa. The broken cultist was conscious again, but unsurprisingly, was also being completely serious with her statement.

Gorm reached over and grabbed the woman’s remaining hand with his own, large, barbaric one. “Why you call them ‘Liberators’!? Squat-red-dwarf-people liberate nothing, they only control! You get hit on head too hard?”

Esservassa looked up at Gorm and sneered. “They have come to Remove the  Stain from our Land! If you weren’t such a Stupid Amaranthinist Invader yourself, you’d know that!”

Gorm’s eyebrows lowered. He now took the woman by the head and thrust her gaze back down at the ruined city. “I see ‘Stain’ now! You make it! You and other Special Grow-People kind!”

Esservassa made to argue, but it then began to dawn on even her lost sensibilities that this barbarian wasn’t the usual, cowed, human male that she had become accustomed to in Dinglesfuhr. That he could easily toss her down the hillside also helped to remind her that debate was certainly unwise, as well.

Still, cultists were almost never wise.

“Justice! Justice for all those poor mountainfolk the Amaranthine Wizard slayed! Justice! Justice against all your Male Tyranny, human! Now we have New Leadership in Dinglesfuhr! Equalitarian Leadership!”

Gottschalk remained amazed at how insane cultists could be. This woman, like all Dinglesfuhrians, had benefitted immensely from the Amaranthine Wizard making their land safe nearly a century ago. And how in the name of Hades could allowing hordes of goblins to dwell here, or letting tyrants rule their land, make things better?

He made to challenge her, when their attention was drawn to another commotion down in the city. A group of blue-haired cultists, ones like Esservassa in rainbow robes, had just approached the red dwarves. They cheered and cried, calling them ‘Liberators’ too. They even bore signs that said the same.

Esservassa began to join in the cheers, as well, but then her face went pale.

The Helltowners simply fired on the cultists, killing them all. Their rainbow-clad corpses now showed mostly just red.

Gottschalk shuddered as Gorm dragged the now-screaming Esservassa back up the hill. He wondered at how cultists could be so naïve, that even after the goblins had devastated Dinglesfuhr for weeks, she still thought that the tyrannical red dwarves would liberate it.

He could wonder why, why the Dinglesfuhrians had fallen so completely for the cult’s lies, why even the Gods had allowed such a terrible thing to befall their land. Why had they allowed traitors to give away their home to hordes of hostile monsters?

For his part, Gorm considered why he hadn’t knocked Esservassa out again.





Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Hacks of Gorm, Part III: No Walls?

A continuing series that follows the exploits of Gorm in the Nights Skies Over Valhallow World

“Aaaaahhhhhhh!”

Gorm took this opportunity to express his displeasure... by going berserk!

What would make a man voluntarily lose his mind and give himself over to battle-fury? Was it seeing this land become overrun and destroyed by goblins, or was it more from witnessing his friends die at the hands of the human cultists?

In Gorm’s case, it didn’t really matter: there wasn’t much mind for him to lose.

“YOU KILL! YOU KILL! YOU KILL!” Salvia flowed copiously from his barbaric mouth.

At first, Gottschalk thought that he might correct the insanely murderous barbarian, since he was now hacking at the woman with his two-handed axe, claiming that she was killing, but thought better of it. Gorm seemed to be beyond debate at this point.

Esservassa took this opportunity to duck between and behind the ruined walls and enclosures of this place. Despite her crippled form, she moved quickly, deftly avoiding the deadly strikes of Gorm’s axe.

“Amaranthine Invader!! You are not welcome in this land!!”

Gottschalk had to chuckle at the woman’s ironic statement: her cult had been the one that had invited the goblin invaders in, which subsequently destroyed Dinglesfuhr, and now she was trying to tell the barbarian to leave for trying to save Dinglesfuhr!

Whether the barbarian heard what she had said or not, Gorm redoubled his strikes, demonstrating the unique advantage of how an axe can not only chop through flesh and bone, but also barriers in the way of that flesh and bone.

He finally burst through one and the splinters flew on Esservassa’s face and blue-dyed hair. She only narrowly avoided the axe’s bit, shrieked, and nearly dropped her dagger. Gorm lumbered after her, his mulleted head and savage suspenders shining strangely in the afternoon light. His face was bright red; one of his eyes bulged, while the other sank deep into its socket- a fitting image of a raging hillman.

Esservassa scrambled to get away, but Gorm seemed nigh-unstoppable. She lunged for another wall, this one of stone, and it blocked his next attack. With both of them distracted, Gottschalk began to sneak around behind her, hoping that Esservassa wouldn’t spot him and Gorm wouldn’t hack him to death accidentally.

Despite his still-salivating fury, Gorm was able to mutter some seemingly-intelligible words. “You want walls now!”

“What?!” Elfriede almost revealed her head to debate him, but realized that he might then chop it off.

Still, it was hard for her to resist: cultists could never win debates, they could only criticize, threaten, and make underhanded attacks. With the woman distracted, Gottschalk stalked behind and got ready to grab her.

But Esservassa spotted him though, whipped around, and pointed her dagger right at his throat. “I’m sensing Miniscule Encroachment, Amaranthinist!”

Gottschalk struggled to come up with a way to distract her again. Finally, it came to him.

“He said that ‘you want walls now’, because you wanted to tear down all the walls of Dinglesfuhr to let the goblins in!”

“So!?” Esservassa was obstinate, “Dinglesfuhr Needed to Make Amends for its Amaranthine Ways... just like YOU DO NOW!!!”

But before she could slash his throat, there was a great crash from behind and the wall came down. Gorm had hammered through it with his axe’s butt. Esservassa now lay unconscious, her body partially buried beneath the broken stone.

Gorm laughed and his frenzy lessened. Gottschalk looked up at him, relieved that it seemed neither Esservassa nor Gorm would kill him for the moment.

“Ha! Ha! HA! She finally get wall broken down! Just like she wanted!”


Gottschalk had to smile too: the barbarian did have a point.



Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Hacks of Gorm, Part II: Old Friends

A continuing series that follows the exploits of Gorm in the Nights Skies Over Valhallow World

The air was still warm for such a winter afternoon; the sun still somewhat red and high in the sky. They bundled the corpses tightly and tied them in Fjord Vallee fashion. Though nearby, Gorm was not from that land originally, but had spent enough time there to now call it home.

The Resistance fighters had lost nearly half their group to the cultist ambush and even worse, they could now see those doom balloons again, the Helltowne Snoollab fleet, beginning to fly over the eastern outskirts of what once had been Dinglesfuhr. Their red insignia showed ominously in the strange light.

It was time to move!

Heaving the bodies of his former comrades onto his mighty shoulders, Gorm led the way, deeper into the city ruins.

He then took a moment to adjust his suspenders before addressing the others. “If they look for us from sky, we hide deeper from them on ground!”

The Dinglesfuhrians in the group looked at the barbarian confusedly; the savages from Fjord Vallee nodded, understanding his simple speech perfectly.

The group rounded a bend of a collapsed beerhall. They looked over at it with some interest, but they knew all the precious ale inside had long since drained into the ground or been consumed by thirsty, rampaging goblins.

One of the Dinglesfuhrians, Gottschalk, a former salt mine captain came up to Gorm then. “We best head for the mountains: the Helltowners will be landing soon.”

Gorm only shook his head. “Me look for someone: a woman!”

Gottschalk smirked. “You can find a woman in the mountains...”

“No! Me looking for certain woman!” Gorm replied laughing. He then slapped the man on his shoulder mightily, nearly forcing him to the ground.

As he struggled to rise, Gottschalk spotted a woman running behind a building wall. And though she looked injured and terrified, he thought she might be enough to satisfy the barbarian. He pointed his still aching arm in her direction.

Gorm turned and squinted his eyes. To Gottschalk’s surprise though, the barbarian’s face took on a look of grim determination, rather than desire.  Gorm then gently placed the wrapped bodies of his slain comrades down, readied his great axe, and advanced on where the woman had gone. Gottschalk followed, his trusty miner’s pick in hand.

They soon arrived at the ruined wall. This place looked to have once been part of a zoo animal pen, though whatever animals that hadn’t escaped were most likely killed by goblins weeks ago. The woman suddenly leapt out then and Gottschalk realized why Gorm had looked so grim.

It was Esservassa!

Gottschalk gasped at seeing the crippled, blue-haired cultist. She had been the one who had led their group into the Glowing Spectral Personhood ambush in the first place. He also now guessed who the ‘certain woman’ was that Gorm was looking for.

But he had little more time for reflection, for Esservassa was now furiously stabbing at Gorm!

The barbarian could only barely parry her attacks with his great axe’s haft: she had moved closer than the effective range of his weapon and the broken ground made it difficult for him to back up.

Gottschalk rushed in then and swung his pick at her. He didn’t have the heart to harm a woman though, no matter how corrupt she was, but it was enough for Gorm to take a step a back and then use his axe more effectively.

He seemed to have no qualms about attacking her.






Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Hacks of Gorm, Part I: Bad Hair Dead!

A continuing series that follows the exploits of Gorm in the Nights Skies Over Valhallow World

Elfriede was gone and Brodt and Gudre lay dead at his mighty feet. The Glowing Spectral Personhood cultists began to close in, their bricks and knives ready to finish him and the other Resistance fighters.  But that wasn’t the worst part of it.

Their dye-jobs were almost as terrible as their haircuts!

With an outrage that only a barber-barbarian could muster, Gorm raised his mighty axe and screamed his war-cry. He rushed forward and gored one cultist with the axe tip, lifted him up, and smashed him into one of his fellows, cracking bones and causing gut liquids to spray everywhere.

The remaining cultists looked at Gorm, terrified. They were used to attacking people that wouldn’t follow their Cult Edicts, but only when they outnumbered them and only when they had the support of the local authorities. Of course, the Glowing Spectral Personhood would tyrannize, beat, and kill, while claiming to do so in the name of ‘Tolerance’, ‘Peace’, and ‘Giving Power to the Peasants’, but like with all cults, they actually did the opposite.

With his screaming, cultist-axe cover still partially attached, Gorm flexed his mighty muscles and flung him at Hymnir, the cult leader. The tall man ducked and the dying cultist landed at the feet of a group of goblins that had come up from behind instead.

The other cultists turned too and smiled at the arrival of the little inhumans. And why wouldn't they? Their cult had been instrumental in helping the goblins to enter Dinglesfuhr in the first place. They had even gotten the leader of this land, Mekla, to invite them in. Gorm was no genius, but even he knew that was a very bad idea.

The cultists didn’t seem to really understand it; that is, until the goblins started stabbing them in the back!

With bad, blue-dyed haircuts and all, the humans wailed in agony as the goblins shouted to their own Fell God and sliced into them repeatedly. Gorm couldn’t guess whether the cultists were more upset by the actual knife stabbings or by the betrayal behind them. Now that the humans had granted them control of Dinglesfuhr, the goblins had no more use for them. Goblins weren’t dumb enough to fall for the suicidal ideas of the Glowing Spectral Personhood.

Gorm and the others scooped up their fallen, including Gudre and Brodt, and made a run for it. They dashed through the shattered ruins of the once-great town. Their numbers were few. They looked back to see if they were still in immediate danger, but the goblins didn’t follow.

They were too busy killing the cultists.

The rest of the Resistance fighters laid down the dead and fanned out to look for the next place to go. Gorm took a moment to consider his fallen friends. He gave a silent prayer to the Great Prophet Kolvaig that they would rest easily again in the Afterlife.

He then stood tall, readied his axe, and brushed back his mulleted hair. It was time for revenge!