The aged, strangely-preserved creature pressed its enshrouded hand deeper into the young man’s chest. With the other, it snatched his meagre coin pouch.
Sir Jave’s face turned pale from the attack; he tried to say something, but couldn’t. It appeared that his very future was being taken from him.
Seeing that this ‘Bloomer’ was draining the essence of his friend, Gottschalk wrestled the thing around the neck. But though he pulled with all his might, he couldn’t get it off of Sir Jave. He looked to Tamara for help, but the young woman only shook her head. It seemed that this creature couldn’t be defeated by brawn alone.
So he tried talking then. “Leave him be! What gives you the right to steal from him so?”
The foul creature turned to Gottschalk, growing more potent now thanks to a good part of Sir Jave’s life force coursing through its body. “This boy is lazy- all he does is... narrate! In my day, it was easy as pie to find something to do, to find a good job! Now butt out and let me get what’s owed me...”
Then with a simple push, it sent Gottschalk flying a dozen paces, landing on his back with a thud.
Tamara looked around in a near-panic. Gorm still lay against the far wall, unconscious. Sir Jave struggled for breath.
She steeled herself before her own attempt, making sure to stay out of range of the Bloomer’s decrepit grasp. “You would take his future and then claim that he doesn’t do enough?”
“Oh honey,” it hissed as it clawed for her, “You know that we need to just Give Peace a Chance... c’mere!”
“Why won’t you give your own children a chance?” replied Tamara, barely avoiding its clutching hand, “Why would you take their wealth... give away their birthright?”
“It was a Revolution! We Changed the World! We had to shut down the hu-Man! See: you’re a woman; we ended the Slavery of Motherhood! Isn’t that Far Out?”
“More like you ended humanity! This land has no families now! It has no future!”
“We Liberated you!” insisted the Bloomer, “Power to the People!”
Gottschalk struggled to rise. It looked like Gorm was beginning to stir too, though he seemed to have a nasty wound on his mighty head. Tamara maneuvered herself away again as the thing let go of Sir Jave and began to lumber fully towards her.
With the Bloomer now distracted, Gottschalk dashed over to Sir Jave. The young man still lived, but was very pale.
“What is that... thing?”
Sir Jave struggled to reply, but couldn’t at first, so Gottschalk gave him a sip from his wineskin.
Finally, he was able to speak, “Yes... it is a... type of... wight: one of the intelligent living dead here in Monjaksen. There are so many of them, and they just won’t die, so they’ve become a sort of caste, draining the life force of the youth so that they could live an indulgent life forever. There’s actually a fairly interesting story about-”
“How do we stop it?” interrupted Gottschalk. The Bloomer was closing in on Tamara.
“Not sure,” replied Sir Jave. “They always thought that they were special after they threw out the morals of all the generations that had come before them. They claimed that they were the ‘youth of all time’- unlike any before- and they did change the world. They enriched themselves in the process, draining all wealth and potential from future generations in order to live forever. Now they even seek to bring goblins into these lands; they don’t have enough human descendants left to maintain their unnatural state.”
Gottschalk struggled with that. It was hard news for him to swallow. He had certainly encountered plenty of cultists intent on destroying their own people, but to learn that elders had done it on a massive generational scale, selling away the future of their own children- it was almost unbelievable.
Still, Sir Jave had no reason to lie.
Gottschalk spotted then that Gorm had risen, though he still looked dazed. He turned too to see that the Bloomer had cornered Tamara with some sort of two-wheeled wagon full of junk that it must have brought with it. Perhaps the Bloomer was a wheelbarrow wight?
“Let me taste some of that sweet, sweet Liberated essence you have! I’ll get you, babe!”
Gottschalk shuddered: this Bloomer was ridiculous! It would consume all the youth in order to preserve itself if it could. But then an idea came to him.
“Ho there! I have something even better than life force for you, Bloomer!”
The creature turned to him, intrigued.
“A place where you can be waited on hand and foot; where you can indulge any mid-unlife crisis you might be having, repair any decrepitude, acquire any goods, no matter what the cost. A place where your children fully get to experience all your ‘Revolution’ has wrought while you remain unharmed by any of it.”
The Bloomer looked impressed. It knew it was entitled- what better way to experience it?
“And even more,” continued Gottschalk, “it has plenty of goblins, so you can drain their life too, perhaps they have a distinct taste? In any case, you can feel better knowing that you have made the world more ‘Equal’, while still maintaining your ‘Youth’, even if your own descendants die out in the process...”
Now he knew he had it. The Bloomer couldn’t resist. It readied its wheelbarrow, junk sliding to and fro within, waiting for which way Gottschalk would tell it to go.
Next week: The Hacks of Gorm, Part XXXIII!