Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Hacks of Gorm, Part XXX: An Anthem Does Not a People Make


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How else could a barbarian respond to such a betrayal?

Captain Salpinx had claimed to put the interests of the West first. He had claimed to stand up for its people. According to those like Salpinx, what a ‘people could be was relative, easily added to, changed, or even replaced, just as long as the new people pretended to hold the same values and sang before the same flag as those who had proceeded them! Replacing a human nation with goblins seemed just fine with him, as long as they still paid proper reverence to human ways.

Gorm of course knew that this wasn’t the case: a people is far more important than just some songs and traditions. A people created those things, not the other way around. Barbarians knew that, why didn’t Salpinx?

As the man’s trademark red helm burned on the brazier, all this fluttered through Gorm’s mind. And though it was small, it was clear: it held no warped beliefs like those of the cultists who it seemed to have perverted Salpinx’s original message. Gorm didn’t suffer from doubt or inner debate; he simply did what was right as dictated by the natural order of things.

And as Salpinx and his entourage looked on, shocked, he readied his great axe too. Though they loved starting fires, barbarian politics wasn’t limited to symbolic burning, and often required more direct measures to set things right.

Ramzeus and Laurissa Austral moved to stop him, to prevent the barbarian from doing something that, even though he might not regret it, they certainly would! Attacking Salpinx and his entourage would bring far greater repercussions on them all. But it was no use: the Patrons, at the direction of that vampiric-looking Demoncrat woman, had prevented them from speaking or acting anymore via demon-itzation: how could they stop Gorm now?

Gottschalk too wished to intervene, to get Gorm, Ramzeus, and Laurissa out of this insane place. He knew there was no winning in this situation: there was no reason in what these lunatic political types were doing. But the dark-haired woman, the one with the exotic voice and who, along with the blond-bearded man had challenged Salpinx before, held his arm firmly now and finally led him to a hallway apart from the crowd.

“My friends need me!” he said.

“There is no helping them now. The Patrons’ spell is permanent until you find the proper way to free them so that they might move their arms and speak again...” replied the dark-haired woman.

“And how do we do that? They called upon Ghul Ghul! Its strength is mighty! All seek its warped council and it can effectively prevent any who cross it from speaking to others ever again!”

“I know,” she said, a smile coming to her face. “But there is a way to free them and that is what you must focus on...”

Before she had a chance to finish, their attention returned to the crowded room again. Two of the Public Lords: Twitch McCorpsal and All Dyin had intervened with Gorm and were attempting to wrestle his great axe from his mighty hands. Being zombies, they also instinctively tried to chew into his skull in order to get to his brains. Instead, the barbarian began punching off parts of their rotting bodies and they withdrew to their nurses. The pungent stench of swamp rot arose.

Suddenly, another crowd burst into the room. Unlike most of the rest though, these weren’t human, but were goblins, furious and chanting! Almost like a song they spoke, with a few leaders stating their demands and the rest repeating it like a chorus and striking drums, mindless and insolent. Guessing that they were likely allies, the Demoncrat woman came to them and began to chastise Gorm, revealing her vampiric fangs as she did so.

“See! These are the wonderful people that you and the other AMARANTHINE SCUM are trying to get rid of! Well I say that we should GET RID OF ALL OF YOU and let just these people stay in the Vale instead!”

She then turned to the goblins, a faux smile of comradery coming to her face as she willed herself to even touch some on the shoulders. “We made such a great deal with the Public Lords! I can’t wait until you all become the new citizens that you have dreamt of becoming for so long! Of course, we’ll have to pass the measure first in order to see what it does...”

Surprisingly though, the goblins didn’t seem happy at that and continued their chants, focusing now on her. They screamed and drummed again, repeating after their leaders, “We all citizens! This land ours now! It belong to us! Not you, Nanna Legosi!”

And though they refrained from physically attacking her, the goblins kept interrupting Nanna whenever she tried to reply. Her body shook in frustration and fear- even a Demoncrat such as herself had limits to how much she could take. Here were the very people that she was using to replace the local humans, and they wouldn’t even let her brag about it!

Salpinx made to intervene, but then some of his hoplites began to kneel, refusing to obey.

During the distraction, the nurses had been able to reattach parts of the zombie Lords’ bodies and they had overwhelmed Gorm, pinning him to the stage where they had been sitting before. All Dyin held his left arm, Living Groanham his right, and Twitch sat on his legs. The last, McBrain, had attached a strange spike to the gaping hole in his head, now appearing akin to one of the great horned beasts on the doors that had led to this room.

With his head now lowered, McBrain groaned, “Let’s gore into that thick skull of yours and remove those delicious, heretical brains... what little there are of them!

Gorm was able to push some of the Lords off for a moment, even breaking away some of their macabre body parts again, but the nurses were ready and rushed to reattach them despite the terrible stench. It seemed that even though the Lords cared not for the health of the people they claimed to serve, they certainly made sure that they themselves were well cared for.

But another intervened, the blond-bearded man. Though young and less bulky, he was able to rush into McBrain enough to push him to the side to prevent him from goring Gorm. The other zombie Lords groaned at that. But, unlike the barbarian, it smelled to them like this young man had plenty of brains! They let go of Gorm and went for him instead.

Just then, Gottschalk and the dark-haired woman arrived and knocked the zombie Lords over. They grabbed Gorm and the blond-bearded man and made their escape.

Gottschalk looked back, but Ramzeus and Laurissa were still lost in the crowd of Salpinx’s entourage, the Demoncrat woman, those screaming ‘dreaming’ goblins, disoriented human citizens, and the rising zombie Public Lords.

They fled the Town Hall and made their way into the cold, benighted streets of Monjaksen. The dark-haired woman was finally able to speak to him again then.

“There is only one item that can save your friends now...” she huffed, still trying to catch her breath.

“The Torrent Sword.”




Next week: The Hacks of Gorm, Part XXXI!

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