We Need To Talk

I’m not going to talk to her,” insisted Darvinia, Enchantress of the Cursed Forest.

  Punmurr, Warlady of the Blood Keep sighed and looked out at the jagged landscape below The Pernicious Donjon. The common wisdom was that such a hostile environment would break any army that had the foolish notion to lay siege to this fortress of darkness. That was a solid theory if your troop cared about discomfort or needed to eat. The vast undead host below was immune to such concerns.

I know that you and your sister don’t always get along-”

HA!” interrupted Darvinia.

-but she has asked for a parley,” finished the Warlady.

With an army at our doorstep?”

She says, she is here to offer aid to us.”

That’s a lie.”

I mean, it might be,” said Punmurr, “On the other hand, it could be the solution to our staffing issues.

Do you really want to trust her to protect us?”

We need troops, and let’s face it, we don’t have a lot of options. Our offer to the Troll-Lands did not end well.”

Who needs them?” snipped Darvinia.


Silence stopped by for a brief, awkward visit.

Listen, we’ve all been real patient with you. Family can’t be a pain in the ass, you’ve met my brothers so you know I’m speaking from experience.”

I know bu-”

I’m not done, Madame Chairlady. The fact is, we are screwed. We need troops and the Goblin gravy boat is empty. They are allied now with the Adventures Guild, two groups who have zero amount of affection for us. If they decide to destroy the Society of the Night, it’s over.”

This will end VERY, VERY badly! My sister is not a stable necromancer!”

None of them are! They play with dead things, it’s baked into that lifestyle. We need you to play nice, get a good deal for her undead troops, and pretend to have a healthy sisterly bond so that happens.”

I’m the Chairlady of this cabal of evil and I say no. That is final!”

Punmurr took Darvinia gently by the shoulders and looked her in the eyes. She had to look down as she was a good foot taller than the Chairlady. The Warlady hated to look down because she felt as though it was an unflattering angle for her, and she did it because she wanted to get across the seriousness of what she would say next.

If you refuse to treat with your sister and gain our security, the other members of the Low Council will vote you out of office and do it anyway.”

Darvinia was about to speak when Punmurr shook her head.

If that isn’t enough to convince you, they will offer you up to Exhaultia as a gesture of goodwill. We do not want to do that, because it’s a given that you will not go down without a fight. Ultimately, this will weaken the Society of the Night, and I have to believe that is not what you want.”

Are you serious?” sputtered Darvinia.

  The Warlady presented a scroll with a no-confidence vote, the only seal missing was Punmurr’s.

Gods damnit.”

Look at it this way. Get this done, and you’ll be an icon to the Fell community for eons to come.”

Darvinia’s shoulders slumped and she said, “Fine… I’ll do it. But I hate you all.”

Wouldn’t have it any other way.”

  Dressing in her finest gown, woven from the living gold-leaf plant, Darvinia exited the Pernicious Donjon and rode a wave of bright red vines to the elaborate bone tent Exhaultia had set up. She was ushered in by a skeletal servant to a cozy meeting area. If can call a room furnished entirely out of bones cozy.

Sister!” declared the necromancer.

They air-kissed, as was their want.

This is all very… Impressive,” said Darvinia.

Praise from the leader of the Society of the Night! You flatter me.”

Please, let us talk as family. That is what we are, after all.”

Of course we are!”

I can see you’ve done quite well for yourself.”

It seemed to me, that at our last chitchat, that I didn’t express myself as well as I wished to. So I thought to myself, ‘how can I make my wishes clear?’ Then it came to me, a practical demonstration might just do the trick.”

You have made quite the impression.”

Why thank you!”

Just then, the skeletal servant places a delicate tea service in front of the sisters. It looked to be made of bird bones. 

While I’d love to while away the hours catching up with you, as Chairlady, I am compelled to discuss terms with you. For your service to the Society.”

 “Business before pleasure, I suppose.”

Darvinia shrugged in a what are you going to do way.

Well, for providing troops for all Society membership, is going to cost a grand total of nothing,” the necromancer said with a smile.

Pardon me?”

If the darkness doesn’t stick together, the light will prevail.”

So you want no gold? No treasure? No magical artifacts?”

Exhaultia laughed. It was not a comforting laugh.

No, I’m not doing this for baubles! I just want to help.”

Darvinia looked at her sister’s face. She seemed sincere.

If that is true-” began Darvinia

-it is!” interjected Exhaultia.

Then it seems we have an accord.”

We must celebrate!” 

A chilled bottle of wine in a bucket with Gnomish skeletal legs trotted in and Exhaultia poured them each a glass. They were about to toast when the necromancer paused.

Before we seal this, there is one little thing I would love.”

And what is that?” Darvinia asked as she stifled all her instincts.

Leaning in, Exhaultia whispered into her sister’s ear.

It was then, that the real trouble began.

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It’s A Funny Old World, Innit?

Burthode Bronzefist, a Dwarven scout, hid in the brush alongside Firna, a Goblin spotter. Below them, a seemingly endless parade of undead streamed along the old imperial road.

I see a legion of spearmen, from the…” Burthode paused, “Vantovian Principality.”

Roight,” said Firna as she recorded it in her notebook.

As the skeletal spearmen clattered past, Burthode furrowed his brow. His eyebrows were very bushy and so it was quite a silent statement of consternation.

May I ask you a question?” inquired the Dwarf.

“’Cours. Ask away.”

Does this seem weird to you?”

Spyin’on an army o’ da dead ‘taint my idea o’ a regular day, Oy must confess.”

That’s not exactly what I meant.”

Den speak plain.”

We are a Dwarf and a Goblin, working side by side.”

“’An you think dat’s weird?”

Until recently, it would have been unlikely, to say the least.”

Oiy can’t argue dat point. So Oiy won’t.”

They sat for a while, the only sound was the clack of skeletal troops marching.

May I ask another question?” 

The Goblin shrugged to indicate, ‘why not?’


Do you hate me?”

Firna closed her book and regarded Burthode.

Why would I?”

Burthode sighed, and said, “There have been many terrible wars between our peoples. Myself, I have killed many, many Goblins.”

Oy see.”

So, I ask you once more, do you hate me.”

Chewing on the end of her quill, Firna stared at the Dwarf for a moment, then spoke, “Der’s no denyin’ da oceans o’ bad blood twixt our respective folk. Lots o’ red in dat list.”

You speak true.”

Some folk, dey ‘ave trouble lettin’ go of da past. Dey got der reasons, ‘n dey ain’t wit out merit.”

I see,” replied Burthote as a bead of sweat rolled down his face.

On da utter hand, it seems ta me dat doin’ da same ting and expectin’ it to end different… Well, dats daft that is.”

Hold on!” uttered Burthote.


Pointing at the road below, a skeletal Giant strode alongside the spearmen.

Dats not good,” muttered Firna as she made a note of this new development.

Once it had passed out of sight, the Dwarf spoke, “I agree with you.”

Undead Giant ‘taint no joke.”

Yes, but I meant about what you said before. We’ve all been dancing to someone else’s song. Time we wrote our own.”

Da way I see it, dems whats on da top, it’s in their interest to keep da rest of us in ‘r place. Leastways what dey tink ‘r place is.”

There are some powerful individuals who will not like this.”

Oiy suspect yer roight ‘bout dat.”

More blood will be spilt.”


I wonder if this will all end in ruin. Evil on the march, chaos is on the rise, tomorrow is uncertain.”

Cheer up mate! Everyting is all elbows ‘n knees, true enuff. On dey utter hand, Goblins are free, yer adventurer’s guild is bein’ reformed, and a Dwarf and a Goblin can work ta’getter and have some civil discourse. Oiy call dat progress.”

Burthode smiled and said, “You speak true. I would be honored to call you friend.”

Roight back attacha!”

As they shook hands, the sound of breaking branches and cursing could be heard from the underbrush. Both Goblin and Dwarf drew their weapons and stood ready to fight. With an explosion of branches and leaves, a figure dressed in battle raiments and riding a Dentre-Bird skidded in front of them.

Pardon me. Have either of you seen a bandit carrying a holy satchel?” asked Brother-Sargent Xoran.

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Some Good News!

I just wanted to share with all my constant readers that a play I wrote is being performed at the GI60 Festival in the UK! All of the plays are 60 seconds long, hence the name. I’m posting the details below with all the other chosen entries.  If you live near Leeds, please check it out, and if you don’t, you can watch it online, I believe. Here you go!

Leo Byrne Jenicek

PS I bolded my play because I could.

Gi60 UK Live Edition  2022 PLAY SELECTION
Gi60 UK Live: Wed 01 June, stage@leeds, Leeds, UK
£7.50 (£5.00), Tickets available now!

I am very pleased to be able to announce that the majority of plays for Gi60 UK live edition have been chosen. The quality of writing has been so high this year that we are still making final decisions over the last few plays. All playwrights chosen for Gi60 International UK Live edition will be contacted within the next few days and offered a free ticket to the live event or the online streaming. This year we will be broadcasting the stream in the same week as Gi60 International US Live edition for a truly international festival feeling.
Thank you, as usual, to all our writers who have once again sent an amazing collection of tiny plays that seem to perfectly encapsulate the times in which we live. It’s a long process but it really is a pleasure and an honour to read such a body of work each year. I look forward to seeing the selection of the Gi60 UDs Live panel when it’s released.
Very best regards
Steve Ansell
Gi60 International UK Live Edition: Play Selection
Hold Your Peace Raymond  – P. Weath
Fatal Bite Arthur – M. Jolly
The Zebra Matthew – Weaver
Good News Steve – Alguire
Skittles, A day in the Life – Terry Collins
Even Briefer Encounter – Terry Collins
Walter The Legend – Debra A. Cole
Cup of Tea – Jennifer Whittaker
REUNION II – Ruben Carbajal
The Last Out – Dave Doster
Lost – Marilyn LT Klimcho
The Good Fight – Janice Morris Neal
Chekhov’s Gun – Ruben Carbajal
Me and Love – Janice Morris Neal
G.I Poe – Jay Strong
Presence – Ruben Carbajal
Clothes Shopping With a Friend – Michele Markarian
STOP and GO – Gary Wadley
ROOF – KNOCKING – Marco Di Stefano
ONE THING AT A TIME – Leo Byrne Jenicek
What do you Want from Me? – Ellie Cansdale
Scream – Georgia Pickles
Old Dog New Trick – Dana Hall
Untitled, A Short Play – Ruben Carbajal
STILL SEEN – Jay Nickerson
Second Sleep – Marilyn Anne Campbell
Not About You – Ivy Vale
Ghombie – Georgia Pickles
10 Second Rule – 3 Second Dog! – Jennifer Whittaker
PLEASE SMILE – Robin Baron
A Creative Challenge – Phil Taylor
Queue Life – Abi Sutcliffe
Let’s Do Something – T Salib
CHEESY – Vivian C. Lermond
Window – Sophia Vitkovitsky
WHITE NOISE – Alex Dremann
Films – Joel Dean
Tree Funeral – Olly Leighton
Hookie – Hilary Bluestein-Lyons
Every Fairytale Ever Told… – Colette Murphy
Flight of Thought – Dana Hall
The last Few Meat Sacks – Lewis Fraser
Groan in 60 – Arthur Sutcliffe
4 – Barry Hobbs Sent from my iPhone

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Good Luck With That

Greetings Jarl Bonegrinder, lord of the Troll-Lands,

I wish to discuss a mutually beneficial arraignment between your folk and the Society of the Night. If this is amenable to you, please send word.


Darvinia, Enchantress of the Cursed Forest, Chairlady

P.S. I would ask you not to eat our courier.


As the Jarl of all the Troll-Lands, I’m frankly quite surprised to get a message from the oh so lofty Society of the Night. 

I’ll bet you’re wondering why?

Mostly because when we wanted to join your little group, we were told, and I quote, “The Society of the Night is for those whose ambition, power, and sophistication rise to a certain level. We have no interest in brutish savagery.” Strange considering your ranks include Umpbor the Head-Crusher and Wipkaw, the Whip-Handed Warrior.

So you can see why I’m confused by your current offer of… friendship.

Maybe if you explained it to me, keeping in mind my low level of ambition, power, and sophistication, I might be able to figure out what’s going on.

 Jarl Bonegrinder

P.S. We did eat your courier. Next time, send someone less succulent.

Jarl Bonegrinder,

It is unfortunate that past leaders of the Society of the Night were so short-sighted regarding Troll inclusion in our ranks. This is a subject we are more than willing to revisit.

If you are willing, we can discuss the details of our proposal for a first collaborative venture that will be of mutual benefit to both of us.

Please respond with all due haste as this is a time-sensitive matter.


Darvinia, Enchantress of the Cursed Forest, Chairlady


I found it interesting that your last courier was a stone golem. There is a rumor that Trolls eat rocks, which is not true. I’m sure you picked your messenger out of expedience and not a stereotype. Unfortunately, some of my troops are less enlightened so I’m sorry to say your golem was destroyed. Let’s chalk that up to a misunderstanding.

While I am willing to talk about this venture, I am going to have to demand that myself and my sub-jarls (list attached separately),

be admitted as full members, with all the benefits that come with that, before we consider any collaboration. 

 Jarl Bonegrinder


Apologies for my use of an invisible servant to deliver this message. I felt as though it might be less provocative than what we used before. I hope the sudden appearance of this message in your private quarters caused you no undue stress.

While I cannot bestow full membership to all those you requested, it was quite a list, I am authorized to offer you and two of your highest ranking sub-jarls a seat at the table. Consider it an act of good faith.

If this is agreeable to you, let us name a time and place to parley.


Darvinia, Enchantress of the Cursed Forest, Chairlady

Madame Chairlady,

Without knowing what this proposal is, I can’t agree to anything. Trolls can be stubborn if they feel like they are being lied to.

It’s time to get real.

 Jarl Bonegrinder

Oh Lord of the Troll-Lands,

It saddens me to think that stubbornness and ancient history might be the cause of you not taking this leap forward to a darker tomorrow alongside us.

I propose that we meet in the Ruins of Arv’Karth’Marv to discuss this in detail. Please bring your two nominees with you and we can get the scroll work going.

 Darvinia, Enchantress of the Cursed Forest, Chairlady


Let me give you some Trollish wisdom. “Don’t swing an axe just before dawn.” 

Just so we’re clear, if I were in your position, I wouldn’t be so evasive if I had as many problems as you do.

If you want the help of the Troll-Lands, better start getting more generous. Before it’s too late.

 Jarl Bonegrinder


I’m disappointed in your attitude. This could’ve been a brand new start for both of us. In the interest of transparency, we are negotiating with other parties. 

However, if you change your mind, please contact me posthaste.

Darvinia, Enchantress of the Cursed Forest, Chairlady














And HA!

Jarl Bonegrinder

PS Let me know how that works out for you.

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One More Time

Let’s start again,” said the Elven investigator. 

Garthort the Fly-Heart, formerly Garthort the Wicked, sighed.

I’ve told everything I know,” he pointed out.

The investigator, who was called Pitare, pulled out a sheet of parchment from the folio in front of her, and asked, “What can you tell us about Darvinia, Enchantress of the Cursed Forest?”

We’ve already gone over this,” he protested.

Indulge me.”

Garthort threw his hands in the air and exclaimed, “Why! Why should I?”

If you are unhappy with your current arrangement, I can end matters,” she replied with an arched eyebrow. No one can arch an eyebrow like an Elf. 

I’m… Satisfied with this arraignment,” he relented.

Delighted to hear that,” she said with a lack of any actual delight, “Please, tell me what you know about Darvinia, Enchantress of the Cursed Forest?”

She’s a botanicamancer.”

Not a druid?”

No. Once I saw her eviscerate someone who called her that.”

And how did she accomplish that?”

Well, she grew a bouquet of Serrated Orchids in his intestines.”

I see. Strange, most spellcasters whose specialty is growing things aren’t so evil.”

Darvinia specializes in poisonous, sharp, and carnivorous plants.”

Pitare made some notes and then asked, “Have you ever visited her estate in the Cursed Forrest?”

A couple of times, she used to have some real ragers,” Garthort said with a smile.

Ragers, the berserk Semi-Ogre species?”

No! A rager is a party. A very wild party!”

More notes were made.

You’ve never been to a rager? They are a lot of fun!”

My social life is of no concern of yours, Fly-Heart.”

Garthort smiled, she had clearly had never been to one. For that moment, he felt as if he had the upper hand, till he looked around the windowless, cold, stone room he was imprisoned in.

Let us move on to Armtek the Unmerciful. His war-fortress is not far from the Steel Mountains, the main hold of the Dwarves. Describe his readiness and troop strength.”

I’ve already told you all of this! I don’t know anymore!”

Perhaps there are details you have neglected to mention? Your information is… light on specifics.”

Garthort rubbed his eyes and sighed.

You know why that is?” he asked.

Enlighten me.”

Because people like me don’t trust anyone. We don’t share our secrets. That’s why they are secrets.”

I see. A sound strategy for a group of ambitious, self-interested, power-hungry, sociopaths to take. The fear of the unknown keeps you all safe. No one is willing to chance open warfare if they cannot predict what the others will do in response.”

While he resented being characterized as a sociopath, it was hard to argue with the other points.

Let us move on then,” stated Pitare as she opened a different folio, “Now that Goblins are no longer enslaved to dark forces. What are the alternatives?”

What do you mean?”

How will the Dark Fellowship of Wizardry, the Deamonological Association, the Knights of Malfeasance, the Brotherhood of the Free-Booters, and other evil organizations replace Goblin troops?”

Garthort paused. He hadn’t thought about this, his plate had been, not just full, but overflowing of late.

That is a very good question.”

Which is why I asked it,” she responded with the air of someone waiting for a good answer.

I don’t know.”

Pitare stared at him for a moment, then continued, “I’m going to read to you the list we came up with. You can tell me the likelihood of each. Kobolds?”

They all have very short-term memories. A Kobold will forget what they were told to do very quickly.”


Can’t trust them.”

Evil adventurers?”

Same reason.”


Do you have any understanding of Orcish politics?”

I must confess, I do not,” the Elf admitted.

No one does! Not even the Orcs do. There are so many rivalries and long-standing grudges that two tribes can start a battle on the same side and then suddenly, they’re fighting each other AND whoever they were attacking, to begin with!”

She made a note and then continued, “Ogres?”

Do you know how much an Ogre eats in one day? It’s not a sustainable model.”


Let me stop you right there. Do you know why we used Goblins for our troops?”

A lack of moral fiber.”

Okay, that’s not, not true. But real reasons were that they bred incredibly fast, worked for almost nothing, and until recently, did exactly as they were told.”

So, you and your ilk can no longer afford to field troops.”

It sounded like a question but it was clearly more of a statement.

Ummm. Uh. Yeah,” he conceded. 

Checking her papers, Pitare made a little ‘mmm’ sound.

What?” inquired Garthort.

There is one other option. The undead.”

No. No, no, no.”

And why not?”

First, it’s gross.”

Given what your former compatriots do, that seems counter-intuitive.”

Maybe, but even evil has its limits.”

That cannot be the only reason.”

No,” he admitted, “As you said before, no one trusts each other. I can’t think of any warlord or fell wizard who would entrust their safety to a necromancer.”

Because the necromancer would have complete control of an army of the undead.”



Also, real skill at necromancy is rare, and even if you’re good at it, there are limits to how many dead you can raise and control.”

Pitare made some more notes, then gathered her pile of folios.

That will be all for today.”

Will you put in a good word for me?”

I will report my findings to the Council,” she stated as exited his cell.

Garthort reclined on his cot. Not comfortable but at least clean. While this was certainly not how he pictured his life, at least he was alive. At least, he thought, the rest of his former cohorts were kinda screwed. That was something. He took out his spoon and thought, ‘You know, maybe everything will work out.’

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Here Comes The Sun

Brother-Sargent Xoran of the Temple of the Dawn Goddess rode into camp on his Dentre-Bird, the large, flightless birds favored as mounts by the order. He leapt off and cried, “I must see the Mum-Captain, posthaste!”

He moved through the crowds of other holy warriors, priests, squires, and servants, careful to never shove or push as that was a sin, and arrived at the large, gold and orange tent. Two guards admitted him, he was expected.

Mum-Captain Rarven was reading reports when he entered but stopped when she heard him.

What news do you bring, Brother-Sargent?”

He knelt, genuflected, and spoke, “Mum-Captain, the rumors are true. I saw a great host of the undead are marching south along the old imperial road.”

That’s a dick move,” she snarked.

Very true, Mum-Captain, the dickest of moves!” agreed Brother-Sargent Xoran.

For those not familiar with the tenants of the Temple of the Dawn Goddess, they are these: The light of the sun is the source of all life, be polite to others, do not suffer the undead to walk, and when there are no undead to smite, swearing is a healthy way to express stress.

How many damned abominations were there?”

I watched for an hour and saw no end to the bastards.”

F— a duck!”

As you say, Mum-Captain!”

Should we rally the troops?”

How many undead were there?” asked Mum-Captain.

He did some quick calculations in his head and replied, “Lots.”

We only have thirty-six.”

Brother-Sargent Xoran knelt, held out his spiked mace to the Mum-Captain, and said, “The odds are against us, but I am yours to command!”

Please stand, Brother-Sargent. I and the dawn goddess appreciate your loyalty and fervor.”

Standing, he declared, “Always and forever!” 

Excellent, excellent,” she said, “Now what do we know about the old imperial road?”

It was built in the distant past by the Empire of Kraz Mah Taz.”

Correct. What else?”

It is rarely used these days. Except by those most desperate.”


He looked around the tent and whispered, “It is said to be accursed. That those who tread upon its stones themselves are forever cursed.”

Well, it’s being trodden upon by the most cursed of all, the undead,” she said.

Brother-Sargent Xoran’s eyes went wide, “Are you saying they are twice cursed now?”

I don’t think that’s how it works.”

How could the undead be twice cursed? What do they fear? Might they come back to life?”

Brother-Sargent, get ahold of yourself!” shouted the Mum-Captain.

Apologies your grace.”

The undead cannot be cured, save with skill at arms and a healthy dose of fire.”

Of course! How could I forget? What penance shall I perform for my lack of faith?” he asked eagerly. 

Wishing she had gotten right to the point, she replied, “We’ll discuss that later. The old imperial road does not lead to or through any inhabited areas.”

Likely due to its cursed nature,” the Brother-Sargent added helpfully.

Sure. But what lies south?”

His eyes went wide.

The Devils’ Underbite, the most savage range of volcanoes in the land. Where it is said that blackened soot falls instead of snow. Where noxious fumes will choke the breath from-”

Yes, yes. True, but it is also reputed to be the headquarters of the Society of the Night.”

Slapping his fist into his palm, Brother-Sargent Xoran exclaimed, “By the cleansing light of the Sun! Of course! What a devious plot! Bringing their army to their lands, only to turn it around and make war on the living!”

Let’s call that theory two. I think it more likely that it is a coup from a necromancer.”

That’s even more likely!” shouted the Brother-Sargent.

There is a mission for you,” she intoned, knowing that Xoran was a sucker for intoning.

I am ready to lay my life down for your cause. Shall I attack this horde of the living dead and slay as many as I can before they overwhelm me?”

Not exactly. I need you to bring a message to the Consortium of the Wise in the Citadel of the Light.”

It will be done your grace, even if I must die to do so!”

Ideally not,” remarked the Mum-Captain, who was already writing the message.

As you wish, Mum-Captain.”

Brother-Sargent Xoran was perhaps the bravest man Rarven had ever met. He was fierce in battle and had the skills to back it up. Additionally, he was unwavering in his faith. This combination made him an astounding holy warrior. A side effect was that he was the most literal person she had ever met. He functioned best when pointed in a direction and told to do one thing. Useful in combat, but he was an excruciatingly dull conversationalist and poor at improvising. Proof that you can’t have everything.

She handed him the wax-sealed scroll and said, ”Take this missive posthaste. The dawn goddess will watch over your journey.”

Kneeling to accept the scroll, he said with fervor, “I shall not rest till I have completed the dawn goddess’s will.”

You can rest,” she suggested.

I know that it is in my power, but I will resist the urge, with all my soul!”

Listen, you can’t complete this if you collapse from exhaustion. So, I suggest…,” the Mum-Captain paused then added, ”No, I order you to rest when needed.”

He bowed his head in acceptance.

I thank the dawn goddess and you for your wisdom and blessings.”

C—s—–!” thought the Mum-Captain, who actually forgot to do that. With a gesture and a prayer, she cast a charm of blessing upon Xoran.

Now, take a fresh Dentre-Bird and deliver this most vital of messages.”

With that, Brother-Sargent Xoran leapt to his feet, ran out to the stable-nests, and began his journey. For the next four days, he traveled over plains, through craggy canyons, marshes, and bogs, resting only when he needed. In fact, once he fell asleep while riding and found himself in a completely different place at dusk. Knowing that his Dentre-Bird needed to be watered and fed, he stopped at a secluded grove, with a stream running through it.

After tending to his mount, he allowed himself to sit down. He did so on some roots, just so it wasn’t too comfortable. Taking out a sun cake from his pack, he began his meal. For those who have never eaten a sun cake, they are a near-tasteless biscuit that can sustain your body over a long journey. They are shaped like the sun so it’s fun.

The hairs on Xoran’s neck stood up. Something was-

What do we have my friends?” asked an unfamiliar voice, “A weary traveler, all on his lonesome.”

From the shadowy trees emerged four figures, shabbily dressed but armed with clubs and daggers.

I am a servant of the dawn goddess, leave me be and I will spare you her wrath,” Xoran said in a courteous tone.

Did you hear that? Lord Templeton here is offering not to harm us!”

This elicited laughter from the others.

You are wrong about two things. One, I offered to spare you from the dawn goddess’s wrath. Two, I am not Lord Templeton. His lands are many leagues from this grove.”

It was a joke,” replied the leader of the bandits, whose name was Kinte.

I don’t think you understand how jokes work. Let me tell you, first-”

Listen here, I don’t think you get what’s going on here. We are bandits. We rob travelers, sometimes we even kill them,” interrupted Kinte.

Brother-Sargent Xoran considered this as he took a bit of sun cake. After swallowing, he replied, “No thank you.”

What do you mean?” sputtered the bandit.

I would ask you to please leave me alone. I am only resting for a short while.”

With a flick of his wrist, Kinte flung a dagger at the root Xoran sat on. 

That’s not an option,” insisted the bandit leader.

If you wish,” said the Brother-Sargent as he stood and gripped his spiked mace.

There were three important things about the fight that followed. The first is was extremely violent. Bones shattered, blood and viscera splattered everywhere, and the screams of the dying echoed throughout the woods. Second, it lasted less than ten seconds. Third, Kinte, the bandit leader fled once he saw what happened to his companions.

Xoran went to the nearby stream to wash up. Blood was very sticky and hard to get out from under your fingernails if you let it dry. Once done, he moved to his Dentre-Bird, they needed another place to rest that wasn’t filled with the stench of death. It was then he saw that the bag containing the scroll he was sent to deliver was missing.

Mother f—–!” he said in the manner of his faith.

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Thank You For Your Input

Sir, your eleven o’clock is here.”

Runpin, Master of the Adventure’s Guild put a wax seal on the document in front of him and handed it to his assistant.

Very well Tunferd, please see them in.”

Nodding, the clerk led in three adventures. 

Welcome, Fasha the Arcane, Cargon Light-Fingers, and the renowned duelist, Voot Ba Bute. Please have a seat!” said Runpin who had quickly read their names in his appointment book, “Can I get you some refreshments?”

Three breakfast ales, please,” stated Cargon Light-Fingers.

Of course, of course!” replied the Guild Master who signaled to Tunferd to get the drinks. ‘This should be easy,’ he thought, ‘A couple of ales and I can get back to work.’

Fasha the Arcane looked at a painting hanging behind the desk and asked, “Is that a Darnish original?”

Runpin smiled and replied, “Indeed it is! You have a discerning eye!”

How did you acquire that?” asked Voot Ba Bute.

It was a gift from a close personal friend of mine. The Sanguine Knight, Sir Tullmut. Lovely chap. Have you heard of him?” inquired Runpin as he dropped that name on the floor.

Everyone has heard of him,” remarked Vasha the Arcane.

Naturally! I sometimes forget how well known he is, more of a friend to me so…”

The three adventurers exchanged glances.

Please forgive me, I do go on. What can the Adventurer’s Guild do for you today?” asked the Guild Master.

Given the current climate of change, we are here to renegotiate terms,” said Vasha the Arcane who had taken out a notebook.

I’m not sure I understand.”

You are aware of what’s been going on with the Goblins?” pointed out Cargon Light-Fingers.

Forcing a smile on his face, Runpin replied, “Of course! It’s all anyone can talk about these days.”

We feel that their system would work well for the Adventurer’s Guild,” said Voot Ba Bute.

That’s an intriguing idea,” mused Runpin, “But it’s not that simple.”

Why not?” asked Vasha the Arcane, who made it sound more like an accusation.

Where to start?” asked Runpin.

An uncomfortable silence followed that.

Let’s start with the fact that any quest provided by the Guild takes at the very least a thirty-five percent cut of all treasure,” read Vasha the Arcane from her notebook.

We do vet all quests, for your safety,” the Guild Master pointed out.

How many adventurers die while on quests for the guild?” asked Cargon Light-Fingers as his glowing digits pointed at Runpin.

Adventuring is a dangerous business.”

And yet,” commented Voot Ba Bute, “you provide no recompense to a dead Guild member’s family.”

We do send them a chicken.”

Right… Moving on, we are compelled to use ‘Guild Approved’ weaponsmiths, armorers, taverns, tailors, boots makers, spell supplies outlets, and every other kind of merchant.”

That is for your protection! Each one is thoroughly inspected so you have the finest equipment and services!”

These merchants also pay for the right to be ‘Guild Approved,’ isn’t that right? To say nothing of the cut the Guild takes from each transaction.”

You have no idea of how expensive running this organization is! The cost of parchment alo-”

What about the healing?” interrupted Vasha the Arcane.

You HAVE to agree that we provide top-notch healing for all our members.”

We still have to pay for it,” reminded Cargon Light-Fingers.

There is a discount!”

It should be free.”

We’d be out of coin in less than a month if we didn’t charge something!”

Not true,” insisted Voot Ba Bute, “I did some maths on this, according to my calculations, the guild, as a whole takes in thirty million gold in revenue each financial quarter and spends approximately six hundred thousand at the same time. Give or take.”

So we think that a shift to the Goblin model will be very, very doable,” smirked Vasha the Arcane.

Runpin maintained a calm facade and spoke, “First, I want to thank you for coming in and voicing your ideas. We value your input. However, we can’t just upend the turnip cart because three of our members come in with some new ideas.”

Reading from her notebook, Vasha the Arcane said, “We’d need at least a two-thirds majority to make the changes we want.”

The Guild Master paused. Almost no one read the bylaws. 

True, but there are only three of you.”

Perhaps you should look outside,” posited Cargon Light-Fingers.

Runpin opened the doors to his balcony. Most days, the Guild Circle, the part of the city where all the Guilds had their headquarters was bustling with messengers, clerks, merchants making deals, and all the normal sorts of business that one would expect. 

Today was different. The Circle was filled with adventurers. They packed the open area, some were perched on ledges, and others hovered using magic. They had invaded the area, albeit peacefully. 

That is quite a large group you’ve gathered,” the Guild Master said after a pause, “But it’s hardly all of them.”

Oh, not everyone could fit,” agreed Voot Ba Bute.

The rest are enjoying the local taverns and beer gardens,” added Cargon Light-Fingers, “Guild approved, of course.”

Vasha the Arcane produced a thick scroll, which she handed to Runpin.

This exceeds the two-thirds majority required to adjust the bylaws of this guild,” Vasha the Arcane said, producing a thick scroll, which she handed to Runpin.

Just then, Tunferd entered and said, “Who wants some breakfast ale?”

I do,” sighed Runpin.

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How The Sausage Is Made

Necromancers know a lot about history. This is not a bit of trivia to win a tavern bet on, though you can and probably will if it comes up. To be precise, they know all about the great battles of the past. Where they took place, who was involved, how many died, and so on.

You may see where this is going. When a Necromancer wants to raise an army, why not go to where the dead are already armed and ready to fight? It’s a terrifying thought but it’s highly practical.

 If Exhaultia had a motto it might be, “Work Smarter, Not Harder.” Coming in second would be, “Dead Things Are Better Things.” In any case, this evening found her at the mist-covered field where the War of the Wheel had ended, some three thousand, six hundred and seventy-nine years ago. 

Accounts were that it was an especially brutal battle with many, many casualties. Scholars called this the dumbest war in all history given that the Hill People wanted the secret of the wheel from the Folk of the Valley, even though the wheel is the simplest device in all of recorded history, and if you just took a moment to look at a wheel, it’s pretty obvious how it works. A very stupid war, but not the stupidest.

Exhaultia prepared the ritual to raise the skeletal remains a tall figure emerged from the darkness.

Good… Evening,” smoothly said Vampire Lord Pfantus.

She leaned back, kissed him, and replied, “And to you my darling.”

He grinned and his fangs glinted in the moonlight. Pfantus was an old-school vampire. He didn’t brood or long for his lost humanity. He revels in being a monster. She sometimes wondered if he became that way when he was turned or if he was a right bastard beforehand. Eventually, she decided that it really didn’t matter.

I adore watching you practice your craft,” Pfantus purred.

It is nice to be appreciated,” she replied as she carved the forbidden runes into a twisted hunk of deadwood.

We alone, appreciate the utter beauty of… death.”

Exhaultia giggled. It was not a sound she normally made. Even when she was a schoolgirl. Her laughter was of a more chilling variety. But there was something about this Vampire that bought it out in her.

As she poured grave water into a mini-caldron (It was easy to take on the road), she inquired, “I take it you have good news for me?”

Pfantus did not reply. Exhaultia turned and regarded him with a cold stare.

It’s not bad news, exactly.”

What. Is. It. Exactly?”

Even though he no longer could be cold, her tone lowered the temperature around them.

I plead your case to the Vampiric Clans-” he began.


And they are more than willing to kill any Goblin that trespasses on their lands without leave. So that’s a plus. However, they will not turn a Goblin into a Vampire.”

Why not?”

Honestly, Goblins taste terrible.”

That’s ridiculous, blood is blood!” Exhaultia declared with confidence.

If that were true, Vampires would be the largest cattle and sheep ranchers in the land. We Nosferatu have refined palettes.”

Well, la-dee-da! We need an army of Goblin vampires so do what you do best and suck it up!”

It tastes like… Dung.”

What?” sputtered the necromancer.

Goblin blood tastes like dung to a Vampire. No one is willing to do it.”

Exhaltia made an exasperated growl and said, “At least they are willing to kill Goblins.”

Sort of.”

Her eyes flashed black, which was less impressive at night.

You said that they were willing to kill any Goblin?”

What I said was that they were willing to kill any Goblin that trespasses on their lands without leave. I should add that some envoys from the DHGOFG have offered a non-aggression pact. Since we don’t drink them, everyone thought it was a fair agreement.”

Since when did Vampires make ‘fair’ deals?”

The feeling was that this whole business with the Goblins is a more of a living people problem.”

Fine,” she said, “Everything is fine.”

Clearly, it was not.

I didn’t know that you hated the Goblins so,” remarked Pfantus.

I don’t,” she said as she made a circle of pulverized bone around her.

Then why all this,” the Vampire asked, gesturing at the elaborate ritual she was assembling. 

I’m proving a point.”

Pfantus, hoping that taking an interest in her plans would smooth things over asked, “What point?”

That the dead are better servants than the living.”

What do you mean, exactly?” asked the Vampire.

Until they rebelled, every Warlord and Fell Wizard used Goblins as guards and servants,” Exhaultia said as she executed an intricate pattern of arcane gestures. 

Yes, of course.”

The problem is, that they have free will.”

I see.”

And so the Society of the Night finds itself both high and dry.”


She turned, stared at him, and asked, “So you understand then?”

Absolutely… Not. Sorry, I just don’t understand.”

Which would you rather have, an army that would obey your every command without question or one that might decide to run off with your treasure at the drop of a hat?”

The first one!” 

Very good my love,” she said with a smile, “Once I explain this to the Society of the Night, everyone will want my army of the living dead.”

He almost pointed out the flaws of this plan. How an army might send the wrong message. That most other wizards held necromancy in low esteem. Additionally, it was very likely that Exhalutia had already pitched the idea to her sister, and had gone very badly. Many evenings had been spent listing to her litany of her familial grievances. 

Then, in his mind’s eye, Pfantus pictured legions upon legions of reanimated warriors marching across the Land. Would there be blood? Oh my yes! Rivers of it. Chaos and death would follow. This is why he fell for her in the first place.

My Queen of the Night! This truly will bring you everything you desire,” he whispers as he enveloped her in his bat wings.

As they kissed, the dead began to rise.

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Missed Opportunity

High-Chief Arrogarerr, leader of the Orc Tribes stood at the head of her horde, resplendent in her blood-soaked armor, each spike bearing the rotted heads of one of her slain foes. By anyone’s standards, she looks very intimidating and fierce. She was the coolest of all the Orcs, her Sub-Chiefs told her that every day, mostly because if they didn’t, heads rolled.

More deep-fried Dwarf liver, oh might chief?” asked her Goblin cook.

Did ya put dat stuff on it I like?” asked Arrogarerr.


Dats it.”

Yes, despoiler of the Land.”

Piercing the canapes with the tiny spears she insisted on using as utensils, she popped one in his mouth. This new salt thing was a real game-changer. 

While she was considering if the use of salt made her a foodie, a horn was blown, indicating that the Goblin delegation was approaching. Arrogarerr was not a diplomat. Her idea of negotiations amounted to the torture of her enemies and she considered most non-Orcs to fall into that category, and if she was honest, some Orcs as well. 

The only reason she had agreed to this parley with the Goblins is his advisor, the Seerer Bunntha told her that great portents of doom surrounded this meeting, and avoiding it would be as the boot steps of fate. Arrogarerr didn’t really understand any of that but Seerer Bunntha gave her the heebie-jeebies. The shaman had an extra eye on her forehead, it was a milky red, and it always felt as though it was looking straight through you. Pushing down that image in her mind, the High-Chief cracked her neck and greeted the Goblin delegation.

Riding up from the edge of the woods on two goats were Vork and Bork, not accompanied by any guards or aid-de-camps. Once they were twenty paces away, they dismounted.

Greetins’ High-Chief Arrogarerr, Mistress o’ da Orc tribes, great an’ terrible and slayer o’-” began Vork.

I already know who I am! Who are you two?” she interrupted. 

Roight. I’m Vork an’ dis ere is Bork. We’re da co-shop stewards of DHGOFG.”

What is this DHGOFG?”

Da Honorable Guild o’ Free Goblins.”

Never heard of you, and I’ve heard of a lot of stuff. A LOT!” shouted Arrogarerr.

Vork and Bork exchanged a look.

We’re a bit on da new side. Recent developments, an whatnot,” said Bork patiently.

What do you want?” asked the Orc High-Chief, who was not fond of polite conversation.

Two tings. First, ya recognize da independence o’ Goblin lands,” said Vork taking out a map.

Arrogarerr kicked a nearby Goblin thrall who scurried out and took it back to her.

We of DHGOFG ain’t lookin’ fer no trouble,” stated Bork.

Orcs love trouble!” said the High-Chief with a bark of mirth that was immediately supported by her horde who knew to laugh at their boss’s jokes.

Dat’s common wisdom, dat is,” acknowledged Vork.

As she examined the map, Arrogarerr asked, “What’s the second thing?”

It seems dat ya have quite a number of Goblins workin’ fer ya all in a non-compensated state.”


Slaves. Ya got a lot o’ Goblin slaves,” said Bork as politely as he could.

That we do!”

“’Eres da ting. We’re proposing a truce betwixt our folks, stay out o Goblin lands and we’ll not get into yer business, and visa versa,” calmly stated Vork.

Also, we’re askin’ dat ya free dose Goblins ya enslaved an as a gesture o’ good faith, we will present ya with thirty chests of gold and precious gems.”

 Arrogarerr stared at the two Goblins, anticipating a ‘Just Kidding!’ or at least a ‘Gotcha.’ Neither came.

Here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m going to kill you two, burn your lands to the ground and take ALL of your treasure. How does that sound?”

I’d urge ya to reconsider yer position on dat,” said Bork sadly.

Hmmm…,” mused the High-Chief as she drew her blood-red broadsword, “I’m gonna pass.”

Can I ask ya something?” enquired Vork

The prospect of imminent violence had improved Arrogarerr’s mood so she said, “Why not?”

How many Goblins do ya have enslaved?” 

Ha, too many to count! Why even the least of my warriors has at least ten Goblin thralls!” boasted the Orc.

Well den, while you’ve not heard o’ DHGOFG, lemme speak true. Yer Goblins have. So, I’m gonna ask ya once more. Will ya accept our terms?”

ATTACK!” bellowed Arrogarerr.

The battle was bloody. Arms lopped off, decapitations, and so on. While many, many Goblins did die that day, their sheer numbers overwhelmed the Orcs, who did not know how to defend themselves from an internal attack. Additionally, reinforcements from DHGOFG irregulars made it a classic pincer maneuver.

Vork and Bork moved through the survivors and made sure they all got the healing they needed. 

Sir!” called one of the newly liberated thralls called to them.

First, don’t call me sir, I work fer a living,” said Vork.

Sorry,” she cringed.

Second, yer one of us now, no need to bow an scrape, we’re all equals here,” added Bork.

Takes a bit of getting’ used dat.”

No worries, we get it. Wot didja want?”

Roight! We have a prisoner!”

Noice work dar. Let’s have a palaver, shall we?”

They were led to a single Orc, who was under guard by twenty armed Goblins.

Oy! Orc, wots’s yer name?” asked Vork.

Umm Gurnuth,” replied the Orc.

Roight den Gurnunth-”

Actually, it’s Umm Gurnuth, I’m named for me mum.”

Well den Umm Gurnuth, dis is yer lucky day it tis. We’ve got a job fer ya,” said Bork with a smile.

Is it killing folk? ‘Cause that’s really the only thing I know how to do.”

It’s not, but I think ya can handle dis. Der are other Orc tribes, roight?”

Uh, yeah. Lots of them.”

Peachy! Wot we want ya da do, is go round to dem all and tell them wot happened today. Ya tink ya can do dat?”

Umm Gurnuth was not the canniest of Orcs, he was very good at swinging a battleaxe but that was about it. Nevertheless, he also could see an opportunity when it presented itself.

I can do that,” he said.

Dis is important Umm Gurnuth, spare no detail of the carnage. We need dem to understand dat dis is what happens when you decline a polite offer from the DHGOFG.”

I get it, really.”

O’ course, if dey need some sort o’ proof, all day need do it come an take a look at wot we’re puttin’ up here,” said Vork as he looked over his shoulder.

Goblins, both newly liberated and previously so, were piling the Orc bodies in what would be, once they finished, a small mountain or a large hill. It would dominate the landscape for miles.

Bit o’ an eye sore really,” observed Bork.

True. But, it makes a point den, duntit?” offered Vork.

Dat it does.”

So… Can I go now?” enquired the remaining Orc.

I tink so.”

Gurnuth raised his hands and walked slowly towards the edge of the battlefield. The Goblins guarding him eyed him with naked hatred but parted to let him leave. Once clear, he ran as fast as he could into the distance.

Well, I tink dat Orcs moight start taking us a bit more seriously, after today,” said Bork.

Yah, would hope so.”

Still, dey ain’t dat bright.”

No, not dey ain’t.”

Still, if dey further instruction.”

School will always be open.”

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That Sounds Like a Lie

The Grand Concordance of the Wise assembled in the Citadel or the Light, located atop the peak of the Lofty Mountain. It was said that you could see the four corners of the Land from that glorious fastness. The negative side of that was getting there was an enormous pain in the backside. 

Roads leading there were at best, treacherous, filled with narrow icy paths, wandering monsters, and overpriced inns. Even spell casters were compelled to hoof it because the Citadel or the Light had many, many protective spells woven into the very living rock that comprised the walls. If the rock had any opinions on being enchanted this way, it had yet to share them.

Garthort the Fly-Heart, formerly Garthort the Wicked did not have to walk the treacherous pathway. Still in fly form, his jar was ensconced in the saddlebag of an ill-tempered, flatulent mule.

“Halt and state your purpose!” shouted someone Garthort could only hear.

“We bring the Fell wizard, Garthort the Fly-Heart, to be questioned by the Consortium of the Wise,” said another voice.

There was a pause and the jar was brought out. Garthort’s many, many eyes winced from all the bright light but saw he was surrounded by at least a dozen warriors, all of whom regarded him with what might be called suspicious malice. 

“Are you sure that’s him and not just random house fly?” asked a Dwarf wearing a captain’s helm.

“Take a look,” said the Elf who had captured him. She handed him the pair of goggles that let the user see the true nature of things.

Gazing at Garthort, the Captain made a noise like a dismissive snort.

“Why didn’t he just turn back?” asked one of the other warriors.

“The jar is enchanted to be unbreakable. If he transformed, it would be… Messy,” said the Elf with a smirk.

“Clever. My warriors will escort you in. I know the higher-ups want to have some words with this one,” grinned the Captain.

This was a source of great amusement to everyone save Garthort, who was shoved back in the saddlebag. Sometime after that, his jar was placed on the white marble floor and opened. Buzzing out, he was about to transform into a more powerful creature when he suddenly reverted to himself and fell face-first onto the floor.

“Garthort the Fly-Heart!” boomed a deep and sonorous voice, “You have been brought before the Consortium of the Wise to answer for your actions.”

The Fell wizard got up, wiped a bit of blood from the corner of his nose, which had been smashed on the floor, and snapped his fingers. What followed was a faint echo in the white marble chamber.

“Do we look like morons to you,” asked an Elf dressed in a gown and tiara woven from starlight, “We have placed deep enchantments to prevent unwanted magics from being used by one such as you.”

An extremely childish impulse to retort that they all looked like morons gripped Garthort but he pushed it down.

“You got my name wrong. I am known as Garthort the Wicked.”

“You were known as the Wicked, but recent events have changed things,” added a Halfling dressed in a deep green waistcoat and bright yellow jacket. 

“I feel as though I should have some say in my own name,” snipped Garthort.

Strumming a lute, a human in a velvet doublet that was opened way too much started to sing, “A master of the arcane, Wicked was his name, But when the danger started, He became truly Fly-Hearted!”

This elicited applause from the rest, save Garthort, who had hoped to be immortalized in song but not as a joke. 

“It’s a work in progress darlings, but thank you, thank you,” said the bard with all a bow and the false modesty he could muster, which was, as it turned out, was quite a bit.

“Since the Chief Diva of the Bard’s Guild has named you such, I’m afraid you are stuck with it,” stated the Halfling who put a wax seal on a scroll, making the epithet official.

“And so Garthort the Fly-Heart, you have been brought before the Consortium of the Wise to answer for your crimes,” said a tall, heavily armored woman, “Please read the charges.”

Garthort thought she might have some giant blood in her heritage, given she towered over the rest of the goody-goodies that were looking down on him. This was uncomfortably like his recent trip to the Octagon of Shame, in the Pernicious Donjon. 

“You have no authority over me!” stated Garthort.

“And what is that based upon?” asked the Starlight Elf.

“I am a member of the Society of the Night, only they have right to judge and punish me!”

“You are no longer a member in good standing,” said the Halfling.

“What a pathetic lie, I would think th-” began Garthort who was interrupted by a squire clearing her throat as she handed him a scroll. It read as such;

The Fell wizard Garthort the Fly-Heart, formerly known as Garthort the Wicked is henceforth expelled from the Society of the Night, and its associated organizations, the Dark Fellowship of Wizardry, the Deamonological Association, and the Knights of Malfeasance. All benefits, including legal counsel and healing rights, are no longer to be accorded to this individual. If you wish to appeal this decision, good luck.


 Darvinia, Enchantress of the Cursed Forest, Chairlady”

“So as you can read,” continued the Halfling, “it might be in your best interest to cooperate.”

Garthort slumped down and sat on the floor. It was not a dignified move, but he felt as though dignity had slipped out the back while he wasn’t looking.

“What’s the point, you might as well just kill me,” he muttered.

“Summon the Lord High Executioner,” shouted the part Giant woman.

“What?” sputtered Garthort.

“Sounded as though you are pleading guilty without hearing the charges,” the Halfling said with a shrug.

“I was just feeling sorry myself!”

“You need to be careful what you say in a trial.”

“So the good guys just kill you then?”

“Good people,” pointed out the bard, “We’re a little more inclusive here than you might be used to.”

“Fine! So good people just kill you then?”

“When they plead guilty to grave transgressions, yes.”

“I plead NOT GUILTY!” insisted Garthort.

“I’m going to read the charges, then you enter your plea,” sniffed the Halfling who was clearly some sort of lawyer.


“Operating an unsafe work environment, near enslavement of your Goblin servants, placing bounties on your former servants, the illegal use of infernal contracts, inciting war between the free peoples of the Land and the newly established Goblin Republic, and a list of other Fell magical acts that are extremely lengthy,” read the Halfling Lawyer.

“Are you joking?” asked Garthort with incredulity.

“Be assured, it is no jest,” said the Starlight Elf.

“You’re put out because of how I treated my Goblins? How many Goblins have you all killed?” Garthort pointed out.

An awkward silence followed.

“In the past, there have been many conflicts between the free peoples and Goblins but recent events have opened doors for more diplomatic solutions,” said the Halfling Lawyer.

“Are just quoting from a proclamation?”

“It’s a rough draft,” replied the Halfling as he shuffled scrolls.

“The treatment of Goblins by the Society of the Night and its members is very disturbing,” said the Starlight Elf, who shed a single, glistening tear.

“Disturbing or clever?” asked Garthort.

This resulted in headshakes and angry glares and not the agreement he hoped for.

“You will find no support for your callous avarice here Fly-Heart,” said the Halfling Lawyer.

“Please! Like you had no idea what was going on.”

“Rumors were heard, but we had no proof,” rumbled the Part-Giant warrior. 

“Listen, who the hell cares about Goblins? They breed faster than rabbits and frankly, they are cheaper than rabbits. We gave them steady work, income, one hot and a cot, and I think that’s a pretty good deal!”

“Would you agree to such terms?” asked a full-bearded Dwarven Priestess who up to this point, had said nothing.

“Well, I am a fully certified Fell Wizard, I don’t have to.”

“You did plea not guilty,” asked the Halfling Lawyer, “did you not?”

“Ummm, yes?”

“And what precisely is your defense?” enquired the Starlight Elf.

Garthort paused. He of course had no real defense, not one that these ‘heroic’ chumps would acknowledge. Of course, they’d take the Goblin’s side in this. He really thought that setting adventures against the Goblins would kill two dragons with one arrow. Then he had a thought. It was a long shot, but then again, it was better than nothing.

“Everything that I have done was done to liberate Goblin-Kind,” he said with an assured manner.

“That’s quite a lie,” growled Part-Giant warrior.

“Agreed,” added the Halfling Lawyer.

“Utter Orc****,” hissed the Starlight Elf whose patience had just about run out.

There was quite a bit of shouting and name-calling (toward Garthort) and shaking of fists and so on till the Halfling Lawyer banged an enchanted gavel that boomed like a Titan’s footstep. At that, everyone settled down.

“Please outline your reasoning for the Consortium of the Wise, if you would?”

Straightening his robes, Garthort spoke.

“After years and years of seeing the terrible treatment of Goblins and other monsters, enslaved by other members of the Society of the Night, I came up with a plan. Give the Goblins the resources to rise up and become an independent nation. Set a false bounty that would allow them to reveal the conditions to the Free Peoples of the Land. Knowing that my efforts for good had reached the Society of the Night, I allowed myself to be captured. Once safe here amongst you worthies, I could then reveal my master plan.”

Silence followed. Then a lot more shouting. Many hurtful were about him. That wasn’t great. On the other hand, he wasn’t dead. Things settled down and everyone glared at him with open hostility. Again, not optimal but he was still breathing.

“You actually think that we would believe such an outlandish and implausible tale?” asked the Halfling Lawyer with a cocked eyebrow.

“My actions have led to a better life for Goblins.”

“That seems more of a happy accident for them,” observed the Starlight Elf.

“OR all part of a long and intricate scheme.”

“Can you provide any proof of this?” inquired the Dwarven Priestess.

“I think the fact that the Society of the Night has expelled me says-”

“-That even the worse people in the Land have no use for you,” stated the Part Giant warrior.

“I was going to say that they know that my heart is pure,” continued Garthort.

“It is pure something,” muttered the Starlight Elf.

“When your tower was inspected, no plans or record of any such plans were found,” read the Halfling Lawyer from a scroll.

“It would be pretty foolish to put such a plan in writing.”

“So, there is no proof?”

“You have my word.”

The laughter that followed was unkind but not entirely unexpected.

“This requires discussion,” spake the Part-Giant warrior, “Sequester the prisoner.”

Everything went black for Garthort. Sound had also disappeared. Bit of a dick move, he thought. It was impossible to mark the passage of time so he ran through arcane formula in his head. He soon stopped, at least he thought it was soon. Difficult to say. He reached into his pocket and felt something cold and smooth. It was his spoon. It was completely unmagical but he found it comforting. 

For the second time that day, Garthort’s eyes were blinded by a sudden, bright light.

“Garthort the Fly-Heart, we are ready to pass judgment,” pronounced the Halfling Lawyer.

He gripped his spoon and took a deep breath.

“While it is the opinion of this august body that you are not to be trusted…” said the Viva Bard.

There was a pause that was clearly for drama.

“It has been decided to spare your life.”

Garthort relaxed.

“However, this is conditional on your cooperation.”


“Meaning that you have details of your former members of the Society of the Night. If you share that with us, and it is truthful, you may have a future.”

“So, you want me to betray my former comrades for the possibility that you won’t kill me?”

The Halfling Lawyer shrugged and said, “Essentially.”

“Okay then. I’m in.”

Just then a silver and onyx collar was snapped around his neck.

“What this?” Garthort asked.

“That removes your ability to use magic,” said Starlight Elf with a smirk.

He ran a finger over it nervously and asked, “Does it cut off my head if I misbehave?”

“Feel free to test that theory,” said the Part-Giant warrior with an unsettling grin.

Not a great day but he was still alive, and he had his spoon. That was something. Admittedly not a lot, but still, something.

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