The sun stretched higher, sending bright rays down upon the mountainside. It was just past noon.
“Food time is now, Gott-chalk!”
The former salt mine captain glanced over at his large, barbarian friend. “We still have some rations that the Maurians gave us.”
Gorm shook his head. “Me want REAL LUNCH!”
Well, at least he seems to have forgotten that demon-man that espoused those bizarre ideas about gender and decorum, thought Gottschalk. He wondered too what had happened to the one who had summoned him. Even though she was an insane anti-human cultist, he still felt a little protective of her.
Gorm stopped and studied Gottschalk. His focus narrowed upon the side of his head.
“You sad because you need good haircut?” He raised his weapon in a gesture of offering.
Gottschalk quickly shook his head, trying not to stare at the huge axe in Gorm’s hands or the strange mullet on his head. “No... I was thinking about Esservassa...”
Gorm winced at the sound of her Cult Name, though it did distract him from his barber-barbarian offer. “Me miss Kalla too. Now we have lunch.”
No sooner had Gottschalk unslung his pack though when an inhuman cry echoed from down the mountain. Gorm rushed over to the ledge and gasped.
“I found Kalla!”
* * *
Gorm tried to count the number on his mighty barbarian fingers, but gave up once he got to eight.
“They endless! Endless goblins!”
Gottschalk looked down too and spied over a hundred of them, all of the grey type and many bearing some sort of skull device. They marched both on the trail and through the woods, defecating and stabbing the vegetation with their primitive spears. And he also saw what Gorm had indicated at first: Esservassa stood on an opposite ledge, looking down at the goblins too, her blue-dyed hair fluttering in the winter breeze.
“NO NATIONS! NO NATIONS! NO BORDERS OR RESISTATIONS!”
She noticed Gorm and Gottschalk then and smiled cruelly. She repeated her shouts down to the goblins and cheered.
Gorm looked at her innocently and offered some food from Gottschalk’s pack.
“AND NO, I WON’T EAT YOUR RATIONS!”
Gottschalk was amazed that Esservassa could continue to be so foolish. Didn’t she realize that the goblins had come to pillage and despoil even humans like her? Didn’t a band of them even attack her last night?
“Why won’t you yell that in the goblin lands? They have nations and borders, why can’t we?”
Esservassa glared back at Gottschalk. She waved her wine bottle at him menacingly. The goblins simply marched on, ignoring the humans up above. More came, some now even had hides of other colors and wore different devices. They did seem endless, and they were heading for human lands.
Despite himself, Gottschalk’s sorrow began to overtake him. Did humans not have a chance? There were so many, and with traitorous cultists like Esservassa throwing open the gates that had so far kept them out, it seemed that they would snuff out humanity by the very press of their masses.
Not understanding, Gorm put a reassuring barbarian hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Don’t be sad, Gott-chalk, we found Kalla!”
Gottschalk smiled and pulled himself together. Esservassa began to shout her Cult Edicts and cheer on the goblins again. “Perhaps throwing her down to them would slow them?”
Gorm stared at Gottschalk for a moment and then smiled. “Silly Gott-chalk, silly, silly Gott-chalk. We can’t reach Kalla. But...”
Gorm’s brow furrowed and he placed his mighty fist below his mighty chin for a moment.
“Me have idea,” he said finally. “Bring more rations.”
Gottschalk removed nearly all he had in his pack. Esservassa leaned over from her ledge to see what they were doing. She raised her fist in the air defiantly.
“NO NATIONS! NO NATIONS! NO, I WON’T EAT YOUR RATIONS!”
“They’re not for you, you stupid witch!” yelled Gottschalk.
Gorm nodded and he tossed them down upon the goblin horde. The monsters went crazy as the food and supplies landed amongst them. They dove into the small pile, but as it was quickly taken, the others who could not pillage grew visibly angry.
Those goblins screamed and began to form into subgroups, some based on their hide colors; others by what type of device they bore. Then, sooner than one would imagine, they were at each other’s throats, stabbing and biting, kicking and stomping with murderous intensity.
Gottschalk wasn’t sure whether that sight was more reassuring or the look on Esservassa’s face. The woman shrieked and railed against the violence below, imploring the inhumans to focus their wrath on humans instead.
But it was no use: the goblins were fighting each other now. And even if this fight was put down, their endless numbers had been weakened. Their endless numbers were far from monolithic.
And in that understanding, Gottschalk realized that humans had a chance. They must. Because if goblins have a right to have nations, then so do we.