“You Amaranthine Bastards are Ruining My Existence! All I did was try to gouge out the barbarian’s eyes and tear out the Dinglesfuhrian’s tongue... and you tied me up and left me in that swamp! You Broke Me!”
The she-creature finished its shrieking and circled back through the air, bile and murderous desire dripping from its fangs, unrepentant as most Equalitarian creatures were. How it had become a griffin, Gottschalk did not know, but it was here and its sharp claws were closing in on the captain now.
And indeed, it seemed to be going for his head.
The man turned, his aging, blond locks shimmering in the light of the winter dawn. Gottschalk, Gorm, and the captain’s Caelum Mount allies looked on in horror at his impending demise, but he only smiled.
“All these females keep approaching me- but that’s to be expected!” He pulled out a stylized, golden horn that was slung beneath his cape and brought it to his lips in a fluid motion.
The harpy-now-griffin shrieked and began to redirect its flight, but then the horn resounded. It was clear and true and very loud, and the she-creature grabbed its face and hurtled to the ground.
Gottschalk knew then who this captain was: Salpinx, a great leader and hope for the Vale, especially during this dark time of invasions. Hoplites came out from the gates next to escort them in. Gorm looked over at the fallen harpy-griffin who had crashed, now a few dozen yards from the walls.
“Leave it,” said Salpinx. “We built this wall and, by Zeus, it’s high enough to keep such criminals out!”
They all rushed in and secured the gate as another throng of goblins charged. The Caelumians went to the ramparts again to repel them. Some uttered prayers to Janus, god of portals, while others took up spear and bow.
Gottschalk and Gorm rushed up a ladder to help. Now on top of the wall, they could see a number of blue-haired cultists in rainbow garb approach the fallen she-creature in the distance. That sight gave them more horror than even the many, blood-thirsty goblins below.
Cultists could be far more dangerous.
* * *
The pungent taste of smoked fish, feta cheese, and fresh baked pita bread filled Gottschalk’s belly well. Caelumians sat in the Taverna around him and chatted, while others walked by outside happily, wearing wool chitons in the morning chill. Gottschalk couldn’t help but begin to tear up at the sight of a town that still had people and peace and prosperity in it. A town that had not been corrupted by cults, overrun by goblins, and destroyed.
Despite the Olympian character here, it reminded him of what Dinglesfuhr used to be.
Gorm looked over, finishing his own, tenth plate of food and, mistaking his friend’s distress for indigestion, began to clap him on the back in hearty, barbarian fashion. Knowing the potential damage that his strength could do, Gottschalk quickly put up his hands to indicate that he was alright.
Captain Salpinx strode over then, flanked by fair serving maids carrying more plates of food and drink. Gorm smiled wide and motioned for them to bring more.
“Your friend sure eats a lot. It’s better to go big,” said Salpinx
Gottschalk smiled. “We appreciate the cuisine and... safety of Caelum Mount. Much better than what is currently in...”
Salpinx nodded gravely. “Dinglesfuhr, right? That’s a bad, bad situation there.”
“Yes,” replied Gottschalk as he fought back the memories of the invasion... the burnings... the defilements... the slaughter.
“What you had there was a failure of leadership, a failure of the rulers to put Dinglesfuhr first.”
Gottschalk nodded at him then. Even Gorm stopped eating for a moment, realizing that Salpinx might indeed live up to his name and famed tact for inspiration.
Suddenly, a number of blue-haired, rainbow-garbed folk burst into the Taverna. They looked a lot like the cultists that Gorm and Gottschalk had seen approach the harpy-griffin earlier that morning. The normal Caelumians inside seemed to realize it too, for they braced themselves against the impending tirade.
“Stop the Oppression of Caelum Mount! Your Authoritarian Racist Dictatorship Will Not Stand! Tear Down Your Tyrannical Wall!”
The cultists continued to yell the same in unison. Gottschalk could tell that none had endured the hardship that he and his homeland had. One, a young man wearing rainbow face paint and an oath to not produce children written upon his pants, even walked up to Gottschalk and yelled right in his face.
Gottschalk winced and fumed. It never ceased to amaze him how cultists claimed that humans were so oppressive, yet cultists were actually the ones trying to oppress everyone else. They would have all the folk of the Vale be overrun and destroyed, all to satisfy their insane philosophy of making Eternal Amends! Gorm put down his platter of food and reached for his great axe.
Salpinx then whistled loudly and hoplite guards entered the Taverna. Wasting no time, they cudgeled the cultists mercilessly, their bronze armor and majestic capes showing brightly in the morning light. Gottschalk couldn’t help but approve of the beating: he knew that if the cultists got their way here, then Caelum Mount would turn out just like his homeland!
As they were being dragged out, he rushed up to the one who had shouted at him and grabbed the young man by his face. “And what about Dinglesfuhr! Do you know what the goblins did to my homeland? All they slew!?”
The young man only grinned arrogantly. “We Must Carry On. We Pray for Dinglesfuhr.”
Livid, Gottschalk began to kick the cultist repeatedly until Gorm pulled him back.
“Maybe cultists should stay outside walls they hate so much,” began the large barbarian. “That way they get to know goblins better.”