Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Hacks of Gorm, Part XVII: On the Trail of the Boas Constrictor

A cloud passed over the late afternoon sun. Cold wind blew from the north, carrying with it the scent of snow. But though the blizzard raged on the horizon, the skies over the Schoolhouse here in Caelum Mount remained mostly clear for now.

It was almost engaging enough for Gottschalk to forget about the goblins that followed behind him.

“We like kill man-woman-virgin-type-thing! We chew all best parts!” the grey-faced inhuman smiled lasciviously as it spoke. “Give us other-more! OTHER-MORE VIRGINS IN NAME OF GREAT GOD TEZSHNAZ! Mzajshetydty TEZSHNAZ!”

Gorm raised his great axe, a hopeful look upon his face, but Gottschalk only shook his head. He would have loved to let the large barbarian hack the disgusting goblins to death, but he doubted that Salpinx and the other Caelumian leaders would look too fondly on such a summary execution. How could the humans here be so foolish as to let them in?

He sighed and turned his attention back to the Schoolhouse. Ordering the goblins to stand guard outside, he and Gorm entered. They had cultists to catch, not to mention some strange serpent creature that they had brought with them.

The place was quite impressive: tall, arched ceilings hung overhead. It had high quality portraits and sculptures too. The walls were made of exquisite marble and had fine, oaken doors- all looked very expensive. Three classrooms lay to either side, making six for them to search.

But though the place was exceedingly opulent in the local, Olympian style, something was off about it. For one, despite its outside appearance, this was no Schoolhouse for younger pupils, but actually seemed a University Hall for young men and women. And being in Caelum Mount, one would think it would be a place for magical education, but yet the signs here seemed more geared to Indoctrination, rather than uncovering the deeper Mysteries of Reality.

Gottschalk’s initial examination was cut short though when Gorm brazenly strode towards the first classroom.

“Wait!” he whispered loudly, but Gorm only threw open the door.

Gottschalk reached for his miner’s pick, unsure whether any cultists inside would be ready for attack, but his fears seemed unfounded for now. Within were a few students, though they paid no attention to the large, mulleted barbarian breathing heavily through his mouth.

Gottschalk came in quickly and tried to pull Gorm out. Only a few students then turned nonchalantly towards the two. One young woman stared mesmerized at a moderate sized box upon her lap- it danced with fell lights. Gottschalk knew it to be a Ghul-Ghul box: one of the many devices that cults used to distract their converts from the actual truths of the world around them.

The instructor, a middle-aged Caelumian woman continued her lecture despite the interruption, “....Amazon society does face a steep loss of their populace. The only remedy of course is to import more orc manservants to increase the numbers of Amazons again. Now class, get out your coloring scrolls to show what that would look like...”

All the students blindly nodded despite the obvious fact that such a ‘remedy’ would certainly lead to the Amazons being Amazons no more. In a few generations, they would be bred out of existence in order to prevent a ‘steep loss of their populace’.

Gottschalk wondered at how the people of this town would pay so much to have their students learn such vile, anti-human rhetoric. Gorm raised his axe expectantly again, but Gottschalk still shook his head.

The next classroom was more animated. The professor there yelled and railed against ‘Human Privilege’, holding some sort of voodoo doll.  Ironically, it was an orc male and the students mostly humans, though a number of the young women were paired with some younger orc males who bore an uncanny resemblance to the professor! Gottschalk nearly vomited. The books and plaques upon the walls suggested that students had once learned valuable lessons of life, diction, and science here, but it seemed no more.

The professor quickly pointed out the intruders. “Look! Human Supremacists! They trying to Oppress Us!”

The students screamed and ran to the professor, though the other orc males rushed Gorm. The barbarian nearly cheered as he decapitated one and took another through the chest. They howled as they died. The human students’ faces went white.

Gottschalk made ready to chastise them, but they only clung to their professor tighter. He couldn’t believe such foolishness, but Gottschalk had heard some cultists believed that some orcs were ‘magical’. Knowing it wrong to slay them all, he deftly grabbed the voodoo doll and took it hostage. The students and aging orc remained behind, eyeing the two warily.

Gorm opened the third door next, though he did so less brazenly than before. Within was another human woman, but unlike the one from the first classroom they had seen, she appeared foreign, having an arrogant gaze despite her otherwise attractive mien.

“Salpinx couldn’t form a proper sentence together if he had the assistance of Aristophanes himself! Now I have ‘burned’ him, haven’t I?”

The students within, almost all young women, laughed and cheered. The classroom had the accoutrements of magical work, though it seemed they would rather poke fun at the town’s leader than learn such arcane arts.

Gorm turned to Gottschalk, a look of hope upon his face again, but he recognized the instructor. She was the Great J. Kary-Rotter, and she was quite the well-known witch.

Realizing just what a corrupt place this actually was, the duo moved faster now. The fourth door opened to a large gymnasium. Inside were many students led by a hulking man. Unlike Gorm though, he was very effeminate, had a blond bowl cut, and kept bowing before a rainbow banner upon the wall. He turned to look at them, but Gottschalk and Gorm fled before he could see.

Finally, the fifth door opened to a classroom that held the cultists. Gottschalk would have been relieved if not for the gruesome scene within. A victim lay on the floor there. It was hard to tell, but the corpse wore the remains of a professor’s robes.

“No more Human Privilege for you!” the cultists jeered as they kicked the bloodied form.

Gorm’s face went red and he flexed his mighty chest. Still they laughed, though their flimsy rainbow robes, pudgy frames, and short daggers were obviously no match for him. Then he realized what had made them so arrogant.

Arising from the professor’s carcass was a mustached dwarven head, set upon a large and spotted python’s body. It must have been the thing that Gottschalk had heard hissing before: a Boas Constrictor!

It sprang forward, fangs and serpent tongue showing golden and red as it struck at Gorm. The barbarian was quicker though and deflected its poison bite. Still, the monster wrapped its snake body around his neck, squeezing with abominable might.

“It... not... natural!” gasped Gorm.

“NUUUUUUUUUUURTURE,” it hissed. “Not NAAAAAAAAAAATURE!”

Gottschalk moved to help his friend, but the cultists still stood in the way. Sounds in the hall signaled too that the bizarre professors and misled students they had encountered earlier were likely approaching from the other classrooms now.

Even worse, it looked like the Boas Constrictor was crushing Gorm’s head, attempting to reform his skull shape to meet some fell purpose.

What sort of monster would try to do that?

Next week: The Hacks of Gorm, Part XVIII!


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