It Would Be Wrong NOT TO-Da Great Goblin Rebellion-Part 32

Hebo-Dij, what in the names of all the gods are you doing?” hissed Litah, the Elven cleric.

The Gnome rogue gave her his most disarming smile. Usually, it was enough to get him out of trouble, or at least delay trouble till he could escape. However, his friends were immune to his charm. Not that they disliked him, they had been through many adventures together, it’s just that they knew when he was full of it.

We have a mission,” reminded Dymox, Axe-Hand.

I know, I know,” replied Hebo-Dij, “But I think this falls under the purview of our quest.”

Trying to break into a treasure room is not why we are here,” insisted Litah.

Of course it is!” countered the Gnome, “After all, we are searching for an ancient tome of forbidden lore.”

Which is why we should begin in the library!”

With a twirl of his mustache, Hebo-Dij countered, “Would you not agree that the Tome of the Outer Realms is extremely valuable?”

Well, yeah,” said Dymox, Axe-Hand, “That’s why the alliance sent us to recover it.”

Exactly, we’re the Dragon-Dogs, one of the most renowned adventuring parties in the Land!”

At the mention of their name, each roared.

Though I am proud of our reputation but it is not germane to the current quest,” maintained the Elven Cleric.

I’m gonna have to side with her on this,” added Dymox, Axe-Hand, “She’s usually right about this kinda thing.”

Leaning against the wall of carved, glowing orange stone, Hebo-Dij, said, “Listen, our rep is why we were chosen for this dangerous quest. We get the job done. Do you know why?”

The gods themselves have blessed us?”

We’re as tough true-steel?”

Yes and yes. But also, we’re smart. Smart enough to know that the fell sorcerer whose lair we now explore, wouldn’t leave a highly dangerous volume of dark arcane secrets in his library like it was the latest Lady Thunderbolt book.”

Ooo! I love those books, they made me want to go into adventuring,” said Dymox, Axe-Hand.

Indeed! Her prose flows like the wind, before you know it, the tale is ended and you mourn till the next volume appears.”

We all love those books! So great! But would you not agree that such a dangerous volume might not be hidden with other valuables?

Litah pondered this and replied, “You may be correct, but I believe we must be as thorough as possible.”

Sure, sure. I mean, it’s not like time is an issue. No pressure.”

The Elven Cleric was heading to the upper levels when she stopped and turned back.

Very well, you may be correct. How swiftly can you open the door?” she conceded.

Oh, I already did that while we were chatting.”

He is good,” said Dymox, Axe-Hand.

Debatable,” said Litah.

With that, they entered the treasure room. There were, of course, traps and puzzles. There are always traps and puzzles. It has been debated amongst the very wise, that including puzzles as a part of your security system indicates that you perhaps want to have your valuables stolen. After all, if there is a solution to bypass the danger if you are clever enough, suggests an unspoken agreement of sportsmanship. Traps, however, mean that you do want to just straight-up murder anyone who tries to take your stuff. It is, at best, a mixed message.

For the record, here’s what they encountered.

1-They battled a giant mechanical millipede.

2-Answered a series of increasingly difficult riddles presented to them by what could only be described as a hyper-intelligent, astral badger.

4-Swung across a lake of acid on invisible ropes.

5-Dymox, Axe-Hand, cleaved a crystalline Chimera in half. (With his bare hands, hence his sobriquet)

6-Deciphered a wall of sliding hieroglyphics that finally opened the entrance to the final chamber.

Sitting in the center of a pile of gold coins, enchanted weapons, and gemstones was a pedestal on which the tome they had sought. It was heavy, bound with some sort of skin, and adorned with dark metal patterns. Malice radiated from it.

We must be careful, such books often have a will of their own,” said Litah in a whisper.

Agreed,” agreed Dymox, Axe-Hand.

Would you look at all this treasure!” said Hebo-Dij with a wide grin.

We are here to be heroes!” insisted Litah.

Strictly speaking, we are adventurers,” the Rogue pointed out, “And it’s not the first time we’ve ‘acquired’ treasure.”

Yeah, but we’re here to help save the Land. Feels wrong to profit off it,” said Dymox, Axe-Hand.


If we take this treasure, we will be even bigger heroes!”

Litah closed her eyes and said in a controlled tone, that she did not feel, “How is looting this treasure heroic?”

Glad you asked. First, it was by dint of our heroic actions that we stand here. Two, we are also taking that evil-looking book so the leaders of this war can end it quicker. Three, they fell sorcerer who hoarded all this, who was killed by the Abominations, didn’t accumulate it by hard work and prudent investment. Four, when we spend this gold, we will be supporting local merchants and aiding the wartime economy. Children will eat, jobs will be created, and so on. I say, if we do not take every single bit of this treasure, that would make us the villains!”

Litah and Dymox, Axe-Hand both sighed and looked at each other.

Very well. I insist that we give half of the gold to the widows and orphans guild,” declared the Cleric.

They have a guild now?”


Good for them,” said the Rogue.

It is. We will secure the tome while you collect the treasure in your bottomless satchel.”

It’s actually called a bag of Ho-”

Not the point!” said Litah, “Just gather it up.”

Hebo-Dij opened his bag and shoveled in the gold. And the enchanted weapons. Also the gemstones. He also discovered some intriguing etchings. This bag was the most useful thing he owned. Trust me, if you get the chance to get one of these, jump at it. Once done, he turned back to his companions and said, “I better take a look at that pedestal, might be one last nasty surprise in that.”

A flash of purple light occurred. Then standing where his two friends had been, there were statues. Cunning wrought stone likenesses of his companions. Or, they were turned to stone. Yeah, that’s what happened.

He looked at his now petrified friends and then at his satchel full of treasure. Decisions, decisions…

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For Each One You See…-Da Great Goblin Rebellion-Part 31

It’s like throwing rocks in the ocean,” stated Garthort the TBD.

The Chief Diva began to hum something sorrowful and strum his lute, adding to the grim vibe of the proceeding.

Surely it’s not that bad?” asked Vumto, the part-Giant.

Look at the map,” sighed Garthort.

They all looked at the map table in the center of the war chamber. There were more acid-green figurines than they would’ve liked. A page entered with battle reports and more figures were added.

It’s not good,” agreed Panthia, Elven lady of the Starlit Lands.

Sadly, I must concur,” added Dansey Bigbritches, Halfling lawyer.

We’re doing just fine,” smirked Darvinia-Enchantress of the Cursed Forest, “Seems like building a fastness over an active volcano is a solid defense against Abominations.”

This earned her glares which she basked in.

You may not fully comprehend the basic tenants of an alliance,” observed Dwarven Priestess, Santun Shield-Breaker.

Sorry! I forgot your Unyielding Hold is literally surrounded by those horrid little beasts!”

They plummet to their doom as we speak!” insisted the Princess.

Of course, of course!” smirked the botanicamancer.

Everyone is in danger,” Dansey reminded everyone, pointing to areas on the map, “The Fort of Fright was overrun two days ago, along with the Pernicious Princess who ruled those lands.”

I never liked her,” said Darvinia with an eye roll.

Panthia, Elven lady of the Starlit Lands gave her side eye and said, “I don’t like you either but fate has placed us on the same side,”

For now,” replied Darvinia.

Each stared at the other as energies danced over their fingertips. Before an arcane duel erupted Dansey cleared his throat and interjected, “Let’s all recall why we are here, shall we? The Abominations are not quarreling amongst themselves. I hate to think that we’re worse than them.”

Well said my friend,” said Panthia with a small bow.

Fine,” relented Darvinia.

Studying the map, Punmurr, Warlady of the Blood Keep and the most level-headed of the delegation from the Society of the Night, uttered a “Hmmmm…”

What is it?”

Do you see a pattern?”

Some sort of strategy?” asked the others in succession.

No. I see no rhyme or reason to where they attack.”

Just then, the Chief Diva played a musical sting. Bum! Bum! BUM!

Could you please not do that!” asked Dansey, who was doing his best to be civil.

It felt like a suitably dramatic note,” sniffed the Chief Diva, who would only answer to his title and had forbidden the speaking of his given name, Phimot Phlonket. 

Perhaps, but we need to keep ourselves focused. Given the state of things,” suggested the Halfling lawyer.

I’ll just do so more subtle background stuff.”

You do that.”

So we fight a foe with no plan, only the impulse to spread like a wine stain across the Land,” stated Vumto.

None of the leaders replied, only the gentle strumming of the chief Diva’s lute could be heard.

Does anyone else now want wine?” asked Panthia.

Gods yes!” said Darvinia.

Everyone else agreed and wine was ordered and brought to them. It wasn’t progress but it took the edge off. Garthort sipped his goblet and slowly walked around the map table and muttered to himself, “I wonder…”

What do you wonder?” asked Punmurr, who had appeared behind him.

Gahhhhh!” exclaimed Garthort.

Did I startle you? I tend to do that,” she said.

No. Well yes. How can you be so large and that silent?”

Many, many hours of practice. I find it extremely handy when slaughtering my enemies.”


So, what is it that you were wondering?” asked the massive and stealthy Warlady.

He’s an idiot!” stated Darvinia who was a hopeless eavesdropper. 

Respectfully, I must disagree,” interjected Dansey, “His knowledge of Abominations is remarkable.”

His inept management of his Goblins lost him his keep and caused the rest of us some very useful and cheap labor.”

Smirking, Santun said, “Which in the long run, has become most beneficial. Our Goblin allies have been of the greatest help.”

Noice ta be ‘ppreciated,” said Vork, who had just arrived.

Any news my friend?” asked Dansey.

Jest bad, ‘Fraid ta say. Two more outposts overrun.”

In response to this news, more wine was poured.

Didn’t you have something Garthort?” asked Vumto, who hadn’t said anything in a while.

Ah yes,” he replied, trying not to look directly at Vork. He always felt extremely awkward around his former dungeon guard. Like running into an ex at a party, seeing them doing much better without you, and also being gracious in a way that makes you feel worse about yourself.

Where are they coming from?” asked Garthort.

I mean, the outer realms. Right?” said/asked Santun.

Yes, but how are they getting here, and in such large numbers?”

Perhaps a fell sorcerer opened up a rift?” suggested Panthia.

And don’t they reproduce like crazy?” asked Darvinia, who made it sound more like a statement.

A spell-caster might open a rift but if they lost control, it would collapse and close. Even if a lot came through, it wouldn’t account for the wide variety of types that have been reported.”

So what do you think is happening?” asked the Halfling lawyer.

It’s like an unending carafe of wine was knocked over and just gushing out. It would spread over everything and eventually fill the room it was in. So there has to be a rift somewhere. One that has grown larger and larger.”

As terrifying a prospect as that was, it did make sense.

So, where is it?” asked Punmurr.

Gesturing to the map with its wide swaths of acid-green, Garthort shrugged and said, “I mean, it could be any place where they have shown up. That covers a lot of territory.”

What are we supposed to do? Just throw troops into the infected areas and hope they find something?” asked Darvinia, “Because I can do that.”

That seems reckless,” pointed out Dansey.

Listen, a bunch of people are going to die to get this done,” said Darvinia.

As long as it’s not you?” pointed out Panthia.

We understand each other,” replied the botanicamancer.

Not really,” said the Elf quietly to herself.

If we can locate the breach, can we seal it?” asked Dansey in an effort to refocus things.

It would take a lot of spell-casters, but yes,” answered Garthort, “Finding it is going to be the real trick.”

Vork, who had poured himself a goblet of the very good wine they were all drinking, asked, “Ya got records, roight?”

Pardon?” replied Dansey.

O’ da toimes da dez ‘Bomintions popped up.”

I believe so.”

Well den, foind da foist tree o’ dem, mark’em on da der map o’ yers, den draw loins from each o’ dem. Oi’d guess dat der rift is somewhere in dat triangle.”

A silence filled the war chamber.

That’s brilliant,” admitted Garthort.

Cheers,” said Vork as he raised his goblet and drank.

Records were brought out and lines were drawn. They now had a place to start. It was much larger than they would’ve liked but considerable smaller than the whole of the Land. It was decided that they would send out Griffin-Riders with a spell-caster to see if they could either see or sense a rift. This plan came together in an amazingly short time and everyone, good and evil alike, were on the same page. At least for the moment. 

Garthrot wandered over to Vork.

Can I ask you a question?”

Oi reck’n ya jest did.”

The wizard opened his mouth and then closed it.

Jest takin’ da micky outta ya. Wot da wanna know?”

Why don’t you hate me?”

Vork tapped a finger on his chin and pondered this.

Da way Oi see it, loife is too short fer holdin’ grudges. Best ta move forward ‘n make da best o’ tings.”

Thats very magnanimous of you.”

“’Corse, if you hadn’t been such a shite guv’nor, we’d still all be workin fer ya fer a pittance. Makes ya a bit o’ a legend in Goblin circles.”

How so?”

Yer an inspiration, ya is!”

I had no idea!”

 More a cautionary tale fer future leaders, strictly speakin’ Still, no Goblin will ferget yer name! Bit of immortality dat is!”

What a world!”

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Party Action-Da Great Goblin Rebellion-Part 30

Sontor, god of the sky was reclining on a bed crafted from the warmth of the sun and pillows filled with starlight which was always comfortably cool. He had just gotten comfortable and was about to drink a goblet of sparkling white wine, made from the golden grapes that grew in the Eternal Vineyards, when Equatia, goddess of symmetry threw open the doors to his chambers and entered with a disturbing amount of purpose.

Greetings my divine cousin, what brings you here this day?” he asked.

While many of the other gods found Sontor very charming. Partially because he was extremely charismatic, but mostly because he threw the best parties in the upper realms. Equatia was one of the few immune to his personal magnetism. Not because she didn’t enjoy a rousing bout of binge drinking and carousing, but she knew that he was perhaps the laziest of all the gods. The sky, his domain, pretty much ran itself. The clouds, stars, moon, and even the sun knew what they had to do. Some felt as though that meant the sky god was a genius since it ran like clockwork. She did not share that opinion.

You have a problem,” she said with a tone that dared him to disagree.

No, I don’t think so,” he replied with a wink.

Usually, his winks got a laugh or at least a titter. Not this time.

Are you aware of what is going on in the mortal realm?”

My gaze is ever upward, towards the heavens.”

Do you know how many prayers have been received this day?”

He drained his goblet and shrugged.

Get up and come with me.”

But I just got comfortable! Can you not just give me the gist of this?”

She fixed him with a very hard stare.

Fine! If you are going to be like that,” he said, floating up into the air.

Would it kill you to use your legs?”

For the god of the sky to walk would be unseemly. Also, it’s a lot of fun!”

With that, he did a loop-de-loop and laughed.

If you insist-”

I do! I do!”

Just follow me,” said Equatia with resignation.

As a point of clarification, Equatia is not always cross. Being the goddess of symmetry, it was in her nature to put things in balance. You might be asking yourself, life is inherently asymmetrical, how is she not pissed off all the time? An excellent question. Equatia learned to accept the fact that the days are longer in winter, shorted in summer, and other things of that nature because they swung back and forth, like a pendulum. It took quite a while, but, her sister Melodia, the goddess of music, convinced her that rhythm was a kind of symmetry. She found that she could live with that. She had to.

Making their way to the lower levels of the Divine Palace, they were passed by a seemingly unending parade of Eternal Clerks, the wine rack-like creatures that carried prayers to the interns who would sort them out for their deities.

Quite a lot of these out today,” Sontor observed.

There are.”

Is this what you wanted to show me?” he asked hoping that this little sojourn was coming to a close.

It is not, but it will help make the point.”

And what exactly is the point?”

They entered a gallery that overlooked the vast chamber of the Most Organized Assessor. Each tentacle of the MOA was flinging cylinders at a frenetic pace and its multiple eyes were darting back and forth.

Is this some sort of game?” asked Sontor.

Far from it.”

It looks like a game.”

Well it isn’t!” snapped Equatia.

Would you like some nectar? That always takes the edge off for me.”

Pinching the bridge of her perfectly even nose, she took a deep breath and said, “Look closely.”

Sontar was about to ask at what part but a glance at his cousin’s face told him that might not be the thing to do. So, summoning all his godly senses, he took in the scene. As he did, he remembered the details of this system, prayers in cylinders, grabbed, flung, and carried off. It all seemed in order. Then he gazed at the MOA. It was, as it always was, a huge mass of tentacles and eyes, birthed to sort the invocations of mortals, never tiring, ever swift. However… As he inspected it, something was off. Normally, it hung in the middle of this, huge, circular chamber. But now the lower tentacles were buried under a pile of cylinders.

Why are there so many cylinders?” he asked.

Equatia took a mirror from her pocket, she didn’t like to carry a bag for balance’s sake and handed it to Sontar. In it, he could see the invasion of the Abominations, the destruction of the Land, and all the death and ruin that was now happening.

That explains all those extra prayers,” she said.

Have you told others of this catastrophe?”

I have tried. With little success.”

How little?”

Most gods aren’t interested in anything that’s outside their sphere of influence.”

What can I do? My whole thing is the sky. All I can do is make it cloudy or windy. Should I send shooting stars?”

Maybe? Probably not.”

If there is nothing I can do, why show this to me?”

Equatia mumbled something.


She took a deep breath and quietly said, “The other gods like you more than me.”

That’s not true!”

You know it’s true!” she said through clenched teeth.

Even if it is, what does that have to do with this?”

Because, I’ve tried to get the others to listen to me so we might do something. Anything! But they all just ignored me. Except to the war and death gods and goddesses, they’re very pleased by this.”

What do you think I can do?”


He suddenly was filled with some shame because he did think of her as a pain in the ass who only cared about making everything ‘just so.’ Sontar was then filled with an uncharacteristic desire to do something other than throw a party.

What can I do?” he asked.

I need you to throw a party.”

Is that appropriate?”

Oh my no. But, it is the best way of getting everyone in one place at one time. Announce you’re having a big feast, invite everyone, and when they’re all having a grand time, you’ll make a speech that will rouse them to action.”

Most of my speeches are about the ethereal beauty of the heavens and how we should all get drunk.”

I’ll write something for you to say.”

Do you really think all the other gods will listen?”

Equatia thought ‘They better,’ but said, “I have every confidence they will hang on your every word.

Ever word! I like the sound of that. This is an excellent idea. But make sure to throw in some stuff about the ethereal beauty of the heavens and how we should all get drunk.”

I’ve been to your parties, I know your style.”

How would you describe my style?” he asked with a smile.

She paused and replied, “Expansive.”

As the sky itself!”


They began to ascend back to the higher levels of the Divine Palace.

What should the theme of the party be?” mused Sontar.

How about The End Of The World?” she said.

Not exactly subtle.”

That’s the point.”


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Bronzed Words

Eight years ago I made my first post on this blog and I have consistently put something new up each Monday since then. While I know this is not a Monday, it is the actual date, September First. By the way, the eighth anniversary is the bronze anniversary. Am I rambling? Keep reading.

Originally, I created this blog so I could share my first novel, Chosen, with whoever wished to read it. I can confidently say that most of my readers were friends, as is customary with these sorts of endeavors. So I’ll say thank you again to those of you who read it. Hope it was time well spent.

Long-time readers know that I wrote Chosen the year before and spent time editing it, with some help from friends and family, before posting it. It’s fifty-seven chapters long so it took over a year to put up, doing one chapter a week. This was for two reasons. One, people are more likely to read something new in installments rather than in one lump sum. Two, it gave me time to polish it some more as I put it out. Is it as shiny as it could be? Probably not. On the other hand, it is a complete novel, beginning, middle, and end. Considering the number of unfinished books that are languishing in notebooks and hard drives, it’s an accomplishment. #humbrag.

Once that was done, I started posting other works. Short stories, my thoughts on any number of subjects, even some haiku. My D&D haiku, which got more likes than my novel, inspired me to start a Twitter account on which I post a new D&D-themed haiku every day.

You might be asking, “I mean, why is he telling us all this stuff? I didn’t ask.” Fair point. I’m sharing this with you faithful readers because I am proud of having written so consistently for eight years and to give you an insight into my process.

There are a lot of difficult things about being a writer. It’s a lonely vocation, you rarely get the immediate feedback that a visual artist or musician does, and with all artistic endeavors, reactions are entirely subjective.

A writer friend of mine recently asked, “Why the hell are we doing this?” My reply was, “A combination of talent and self-loathing.” She agreed. If you take issue with my implication that I have talent, don’t forget the follow-up of self-loathing. It’s a heady cocktail.

I digress, but this is my blog so I can natter on as I see fit. My point, which I have now arrived at, is that the hardest part of writing is sitting down to do it. The blank page or screen is daunting, or answering the question of ‘what happens next?’ I struggle with that last one, in particular, quite a bit. Sometimes I know exactly what should follow, but more often than not I don’t have the slightest clue as to what that will be.

A lot of writers will tell you that writing doesn’t happen just in front of a keyboard. All I can say is, AGREED. I find myself as I go through the day mulling and ruminating on the next part of whatever I’m currently working on. This is also writing. Once, another writer friend of mine and I were asked by a mutual friend how often do we think about what we are working on and we both replied, ‘all the time.’

So, I will tell you before I started this blog I was a writer, but, not nearly as prolific as I would like to be. There were many long stretches of time when I considered myself a writer while not doing any actual writing. I did say not all writing happens in front of a keyboard but eventually, you need to sit down and put some words down.

I have a contact with myself, to post something new every Monday. It’s been an excellent motivator for me to write. I like to think that those who follow my blog look forward to reading what I post, I know for a few of you that is true. Mostly, it’s an empty-handed leap into the void with little in the way of feedback.

So why do it?

Excellent question. Certainly not for fame or fortune, which is convenient since I have neither. For me, I’m happier when I’m creating something. This blog gives me the outlet to do so. Do I wish more people read my work? Of course! It’s the rare creative that is looking for a smaller audience. There might be a reason for that but I’m not well known enough or known at all, to have such artistic affectations. Am I asking you to share my work with others you think will enjoy them? Yes. Yes, I am.

Now, after eight years I can say I am proud of what I’ve done. I have written more since starting this blog than in the rest of my life. Clearly, I needed structure. It works for me. Now all I have to do is figure out what to write next. Yeah… Hmmm…

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No Good Deed-Da Great Goblin Rebellion-Part 29

Captain Alfie Riverbottom looked out from the battlements of the Keep Sinasstair. The countryside used to have a thick forest of dark oak trees that had been planted ages ago to prevent any siege of the keep. The Dire Wolves and Dire Squirrels that roamed the woods were also placed there for the same reason.

Sadly, none of those defenses worked on Abominations. Both in the general sense that they rolled into the keep like a world-famous bard and their entourage, trashing the place. But also in the sense that both the forest and the wildlife, both Dire and Non-Dire, were destroyed in the fire that was applied vigorously to get rid of these uninvited guests.

The place was clean, at least of Abomination infestation, but in terms of actual hygiene, it was still a mess. Everything smelled like burnt hair and rotting garbage. Which was strange because Abominations, for the most part, have no hair or fur.

Even though this was a thoroughly unpleasant place, Alfie was still pleased. His light artillery, the Wildefield Wingers, were instrumental in liberating this keep. Most people underestimate the sling, dismissing it as a child’s toy. Those people have never faced a squad of Halflings trained since youth to fling stones with an uncanny aim that rivals any Elven archer. Couple that with their natural stealthiness, and you’ll find yourself unconscious with numerous lumps to the head. If you’re lucky.


Alfie turned to see one of his squad, Tulip Peasworthy.

“What’s the news Tulip?”

“Her nibs wishes a word with you Cap’n.”

“I don’t suppose she said what this was all about?”

“’Fraid not Cap’n. You know her. Not exactly the sort to invite you for tea and scones.”

“You’re not wrong about that Tulip. I better see what she wants.”

“I’ll round up the lasses and lads. Just for discipline’s sake.”

Alfie cocked an eyebrow and said, “Discipline is important.”

Entering the great hall, the Halfling passed a Daemon loitering by the entrance. He said his name was Infurnael, but Alfie figured that was a lie. Her nibs, or the Baroness Octa Sinasstair, was sitting on a pitted throne at end of the hall. The Clan Sinasstair were known for their malicious intent and inevitable betrayals. Baroness Octa enjoyed her title because she manipulated her brother Vurt, the former Baron, into believing that he could defeat the Abominations.

“Greetings Captain, may I offer you some wine?” she said as one of her soldiers picked up a pitcher.

“Thank you but no Baroness.”

She grinned, it was very unpleasant, which was perhaps the nicest thing one might say about her.

“Do you think I’m trying to poison you?”

“Yes,” he thought as he said, “Not at all, Baroness, best to be sober these days.”

“Suit yourself,” she replied as she drained her goblet.

“You wished to speak to me, Baroness?”

“I have to say,” she said as she wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, “When the alliance sent me a squad of little folk, I assumed that it was a ploy to take me out of the game. But I have to admit, I was wrong. Your slinger are deadly as a swarm of Murder-Flys.”

Alfie bowed. Honestly, he expected some sort of double-cross. Given the history of Clan Sinasstair, it seemed to most likely scenario.

“So, in gratitude for your service, we would reward you.”

“Very generous but completely unnecessary. We are all part of a greater whole, working towards the defense of the Land.”

This was the sort of phrase he kept in his back pocket to avoid awkward conversations, like this one.

“Don’t be so quick to refuse before you know what is offered.”

“The only reward I and my squad require is the knowledge that-”

“I’m making you Captain of my personal guard!” she interrupted.

The current Captain of her personal guard, spit out the wine she was drinking and began to cough.

“Of course, your squad will join you in service,” Octa added as she ignored the reaction of her former Captain of her personal guard.

“A great honor to be sure,” started Alfie, “But I sent word of our retaking the Keep to headquarters and I expect to be receiving new orders today.”

“Then just tell them you don’t need new orders.”

“I can’t do that Baroness, this war isn’t over.”
She stared at him as if he were turning down water after being lost in the desert.

“Being Captain of my personal guard is a great honor!”

“Of course it is, but one I must decline.”

“Do you know what you’re turning down? Being in my service means you can do whatever you wish. WHATEVER YOU WISH!”

“You already have many doughty warriors in your service, why do you need us?” he asked in an attempt to reason his way out of this uncomfortable conversation.

“My cousin, Count Bogh Sinasstor rules over Keep Sinasstor four leagues from here. It would do better under my rule. I want your sneaky little friends to help me take it.”

“So there’s two Keep Sinasstairs?”

“No, his is Keep SinasSTOR, mine is Keep SinasSTAIR.”

“Isn’t that a bit confusing?”

“Stor stair, stor stair, stor stair! You just have to listen carefully.”

Putting the sympathetic smile he used when delivering bad news, Alfie said, “As I said before, we cannot accept this most generous offer Baroness, though we are honored to receive it. Many thanks for your consideration.”

“So… you’re saying no?” asked Baroness Octa.

“With regrets,” replied Captain Alfie who was regretting this entire conversation.

“Guards! Seize him!” cried the Baroness.

“Does that mean I’m still the Captain of your personal guard?” asked the former Captain.

“What? Yes, fine, whatever. Just start with the seizing!”
Alfie did not resist. As deadly a slings-man as he was, knew that the numbers were against him. He was held on either side by two large and beefy warriors. It seemed a bit much.

“Daemon!” called the Baroness.

“You may call me Infurnael,” replied the Daemon laconically.

“I don’t care about your name! I need you to execute this traitorous Halfling.”


“Is this the Feast of Insolence? Just do as I say!” bellowed the Baroness who had exhausted her reserves of pleasantries for the day.

Looking up, Infurnael said, “Let me remind you, I don’t work for you. I am not bound to you. I’m just here to burn up Abominations.”

“Guards-” she began when Infurnael shot a pillar of fire from floor to ceiling.

“Ignore this Daemon!” she said as if that were her original thought, “And drag the Halfling to the courtyard!”

They marched out the main courtyard and placed Alfie against a stone wall.

“Where are your little friends?” spat the Baroness.

“I really couldn’t say,” he answered, “and by the way, you keep calling us little like it’s an insult. We’re the proper size, you lot are grotesquely over large.”

Infurnael, who had followed them out, sniggered.

“That’s not funny!”

“More mildly amusing,” observed the Daemon.

Standing in the middle of the courtyard, the Baroness shouted, “Halflings! If you do not present yourselves immediately and swear fealty to me, I will execute your Captain and hunt you down like rabbits!”

“Do you really want to break the alliance?” asked Alfie, “You’ll be a pariah.”

“Oh please, I’m a Sinasstair! We’re already hated and mistrusted by everyone including ourselves! Besides, who’s going to tell the alliance what I did? This guy?”

She pointed to Infurnael, who shrugged.

“So, any last words?”

“More like a song really,” he replied and whistled three sharp notes.

The courtyard was filled with the sound of whizzing and cracks. Also, with stones flung with great velocity and unerring accuracy. Finally with the thudding of bodies.

“You all right Cap’n?” asked Tulip who emerged from the shadows.

“Not a scratch. Well done.”

“Just maintaining discipline.”

Just then, an automata crow descended from the sky, landed in front of Alfie, and produced a scroll from a concealed compartment in its back.

“New orders, right on time,” said the Halfling Captain.

“Do I have to come with you?” asked Infurnael.

Reading the scroll, Alfie nodded and said, “We’re stuck with each other for now.”

Infurnael swore for about five minutes as the Halfling squad gathered their things.

“Are you tired of burning Abominations?” asked Alfie.

“There better be a lot of them, except for you killing those guards, this has been a very dull day.”

“We’re heading to an incursion on the plains of P’nar.”

“Is that a wide plain?”

“Very. Should be lots to incinerate.”

“Promises, promises,” sighed the Daemon.

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Pretty Please With Sugar On It-Da Great Goblin Rebellion-Part 28

“You can’t be serious,” stated, Farmoc the Daemonologist.

“Serious as Hell,” replied Hala Half-Daemon with a smirk.

“Do you really think we will give you the souls of all our firstborn?” sputtered Farmoc.

Examining her fingernails for blood, Hala Half-Daemon shrugged.

From a shadowy corner of the summoning chamber, a figure whispered something to Farmoc. With a broad smile, the Daemonologist began to chant.

“Buntha Karlic! Ev’Nath Lorr! Pihxan T’aaall! Dozet M’untha! In the name of the ancient packs, I command thee!”

Hala, satisfied with the state of her cuticles, looked up and said, “Yeah, that doesn’t work anymore.”

“But the ancient packs?”

“Appendix fifty-three, sub-paragraph eight.”

Riffling through the infernal tome before him, Farmoc found the passage and read it. Then twice more.


“That’s the idea.”

The shadowy figure gestured to the Daemonologist to come closer. They had an energetic but quiet exchange. Farmoc returned and took a censer and lit the incense.

“Please stop!” shouted Hala.

“This holy herb is your weakness, is it not!”

“It stinks and you can never get the smell out of your clothes,” she replied, “And I really like this outfit.”

“So you’ll do as I command if I stop?” he asked hopefully.

“What do you think?”

“Foul fiend! There must be a way to bind you!”

“Well insulting me is sure not the way to get me to help you.”

“Are you asking me to ask nicely?”

“Have you ever tried that? It just might work.”

Straightening his summoner’s vestments, Farnoc smiled and asked, “Hala Half-Daemon, will you aid us in our struggle with the invasion of Abominations on this plane? Your power will surely tip the tide in our favor.”

Putting a clawed hand to her heart, she replied, “I’m touched. Really, I mean it. Not once in the history of dealing with mortals have I heard such a sincere and polite request. Thank you.”

“So we have an accord?”

She burst into what was perhaps the meanest laughter ever heard in that room.
“That is adorable! You think that one nice request, that I had to ask for, will erase thousands of years of mortals lawyering us into doing your bidding?”

“Why waste our time?” asked the daemonologist.

“Since you’re wasting my time, consider it payback. And by the way, ask your friend to step into the light.”

The shadowy figure stepped forward to reveal Garthort. With a lightning-fast lunge, Hala surged forward to the edge of the binding circle. Garthort jumped, and you would have to. Don’t pretend you wouldn’t.

More mean laughter followed.

“Hey there Fly-Heart,” she said in between laughs.

“I no longer am known by that,” he replied in an attempt to regain his dignity.

“Not really up to you, is it Fly-Heart?”

“Is there anything that might entice you to aid our cause?”

“Maybe if you offered yourself? I know a lot of Daemons who would looooove to play with you,” she offered.

“If you’re not going to be serious,” snipped Garthort.

“Oh,” she purred, “I’m. So. Very. Serious.”

“We might work something out,” said Farnoc.


“NO! You cannot bargain with my soul,” insisted Garthort.

“Look who’s picky about souls all of a sudden,” said Hala.

“It’s in your best interest to aid us!” pronounced Farnoc.

“Why?” she asked askance.
Garthort was also curious as to his reasoning.

“It’s obvious, is it not?” asked the Daemonologist.

“No, it is not,” she replied.

“If all life on this plane of existence is extinguished, then how would Hell collect souls? You’d be out of business.”

Biting her lips, which drew blood, which she then licked with obvious delight, Hala considered this. Farnoc crossed his fingers behind his back.

“I admit, that would slow things down.”

Farnoc grinned.

“But once this plane was devoid of life, some god or another would create some people, and then we’d be back in business.”

“But that could take thousands of years?”

Shrugging, she replied, “True but it would give us time to remodel. We’ve got a lot of improvements to make. Did you know if you shove a scorpion up someone’s-”

“Is Hell safe?” interrupted Garthort.

“Not for the soul sent there.”

“From invasion. Abominations came here, who’s to say they won’t infest the underworld next?”

“We’ll be fine,” she replied with an excess of confidence.

“How can you be sure?”

She snapped her fingers and her person was wreathed in fire, the smell of brimstone filled the chamber.

“Like I said, we’ll be fine. Hell has all the fire in the cosmos.”

“What about the elemental plane of fire?” asked Farnoc who was one of those people who felt the need to say the obvious. Hala gave him a withering gaze as her answer.

“There has to be something you want?” asked Garthort.

“If you two dressed as Dryads and spanked each other with spiked paddles, that might sway me.”

“I’ll have the costumes and paddles fetched from my quarters,” said Farnoc.

“She’s mocking us,” said Garthort who felt a headache coming on.

Hala was already laughing, even more cruelly now.

“Of course, I KNEW that,” maintained the Daemonologist, “It was a clever ruse.”

“Oh, obliviously!” said Hala with faux sincerity.

“We should just send her back, she’s not going to aid us,” said Garthort with resignation.

Farnoc stroked his mustaches, nodded in what he thought of as a sage manner, and said, “I must concur. Back to Hell she goes.”

“Well dumb-dumbs, it’s been a hoot and a half screwing with you, but if it makes you feel any worse, and I hope it does, neither one of you are the right person to deal with me.”

Farnoc, who was feeling pretty bad about himself at that moment, was about to begin the banishment spell when Garthort’s eyes went wide.


Both Daemon and Daemonologist stared at him.

“Farnoc, come with me!”

“Let me just send our guest back and-”

“No! I have an idea,” said Garthort who looked Hala straight in the eyes.

“What’s going on?” she asked, getting an uncomfortable feeling about all this.

“Thank you Hala Half-Daemon,” said Garthort with a sarcastic bow, “you have been very helpful.”

“I resent the idea that I’ve been in any way helpful!”

With a slam of the door, Hala found herself alone. As a Daemon, she had eternity to exist. But she certainly didn’t wish to spend it trapped in a summoning circle in this room. After a while, the door creaked open and a silhouette was seen.

“Are you idiots ready to send me back?” she asked.

“Not da hello Oi expected,” said Bork, “But Oi’m not gonna hold it ‘gainst ya, given da circumstances ‘n whotnot. Let’s have a bit o’ a chinwag. Wot da ya say?”

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Dispatches From The Front-Da Great Goblin Rebellion-Part 27

FROM: War Captain Sert, G.I.S.T. (Goblin Irregulars Strike Team)

A smallish horde o’ ‘Boninations, git wat wuz comin’ to dem on da edge o’ da Canyons o’ Craziness. A scout drew’em into a cul-d-sac, de we sealed it up wit a poil o’ bolders. Den we lit barrels o’ pitch ‘n roasted ‘em up all crispy loik.

Be warned dough, dey stink loik a Troll’s privy, only much, much worse. Dun’t get downwind. Oi’m ded serious, Oi am!

We’re movin’ ta da next target, report ta follow.

Cpt. Sert


Missive from Sea Elf Admiralty

Commander Lord Arnor Coralspear, commanding.

The coastal town known as Carp’s Cove by surface dwellers was attacked by a large Abomination. It is not listed in the kelp scrolls of our learned, but we have called a “Untath’Tormac”, which in the common tongue, means Razor Eel.

With great fury and malice, did the Razor Eel fall upon the ships and sailors in the harbor. I must say, that they fought well, with a courage that I have rarely seen in non-Elves. Songs shall be sung in their memory. I wept, knowing that they no longer live and shall never hear those haunting, and exquisite lays. (Lay means song, it is not a ribald jape that would be inappropriate for this report.)

If matters were not dire enough, and they were, the dreaded Razor Eel regarded the town with a baleful gaze. It was then, that our Aquamancer, Dilen Darktide called upon the great and terrible Clamp of the Deep, an enormous scallop with the tentacles of a Kraken, and countless unblinking eyes. While some might call it a monster, this denizen will aid Sea Elves when their need is most dire. Which this was. Without a doubt.

Two titans struggled for a day and a night. The sea boiled and blood and ichor befouling the waters and I’m going to say the land. I have not the words for such a battle, so terrible and magnificent. Except for the two I just used. They are largely accurate.

At the dawn of the second day, the Clamp of the Deep, wounded most grievously, summoned all the strength of the ocean and gripped their shell upon the Razor Eel with their mighty bi-valve. Once held, the mighty shellfish dragged this offense to the living ocean to depths unknown.

All is quiet now, save for the wailing grief of the surface dwellers. Sea Elves weep, but with dignity. The line has held, but at what cost? I honestly don’t know yet, they are sorting out the bodies and so on.


From Mython Greyleaf

I have sent this message with my peregrine companion, Amber-Claw, I hope it arrives safely. (If you are reading it I guess it did.)

The Forest of Bone, home to the Ossien Witch is now green. Not a miracle of nature reclaiming a blighted area. It is an infestation of tiny Abominations.

How many?

Let me put it this way, the Forest of Bone covers thirty leagues across as the crow flies. Each trunk and every branch is covered with a thick layer of these miniature horrors.

I attempted to use my skills in silent movement to scout inside. As I got close, everything went silent. LET ME BE CLEAR. Not the silence of nature, which, by the way, is never quiet. Birds, animals, wind, bugs, etc all make some sort of noise. This place went dead silent and I swear to Amarath, Lady of Woods, that I was being watched in the creepiest way possible. It was like a monster that wants to eat you and get your parents drunk and seduce them while you watch. Yeah, that creepy.

While I was ordered to deliver a message to the Ossein Witch in hopes of her aiding us in this war, I cannot enter this terrible place. Honestly, it seems pretty unlikely she’s still alive. And if she is… She’s not a potential ally anymore.

My recommendation is to get as many pyromancers as you can and burn it down. Then do it again. Maybe a third time, just to make sure.

-Devtem, Ranger Oaken ranked.

P.S. Cannot stress this enough. I AM NOT JESTING. Send fire now.


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Common Sense-Da Great Goblin Rebellion-Part 26

Shattered hunks of granite littered the grand hall of the Unyielding Hold, one of the five Dwarven mountain republics. (There are six Hill Dwarf Holds but they don’t count to the mountain Dwarves. Don’t ask them unless you want to hear a lot about what constitutes a ‘Hold’. Consider yourself warned.) Back to the matter at hand.

Abominations oozed, squelched, slithered, and flopped into the grand hall and immediately began to make a terrible mess, accompanied by a putrid stench. Perhaps not the most germane issue during an infestation of Outer Realm monstrosities, but it is worth noting.

A squad of stout Dwarven warriors grimaced as the intricate carvings of their ancestors were eroded with foul-smelling acids. Dwarves are a sturdy and reliable folk, who pride themselves on leading a well-ordered existence. Schedules were followed to the second. This allowed them to build their magnificent Mountain (and Hill) Holds. Couple that with the legendary Dwarven stubbornness, and stuff gets done. Make a plan, and stick with it. Disruptions to said plans are intolerable and upsetting.

On the other side of the coin, they are almost all terrible improvisers. (Those who choose the freewheeling life of adventurers are, of course, the exception.) The rest can’t think on their feet to save their lives, as we are about to see.

Wearing a steel helmet with brass details and a bright red plume on top, the Squad Leader shouted, “Form up! Arms out!”

With a near machine-like efficiency, the Dwarven warriors assembled into a neat square formation, shields on all sides and spears positioned betwixt each shield. They resembled a War Turtle, without the ability to spew a localized tsunami. (If you want to know more about War Turtles, read Vontos’s ‘1,000 Things You Didn’t Know about the War Turtle.’ But only if you are serious about the subject.)

As they marched towards the horde of Abominations, they began to sing a Dwarven battle song. While there are many excellent Dwarven battle songs, ‘Hammer Strike’, ‘Battle-Axe Blast’, and ‘Hit With A Mountain’, the one they belted out was ‘Forward, March, March.’ It has an excellent beat but it’s mostly about marching in unison, which makes it somewhat uninspiring. Unless you are in a parade. Which these Dwarves were not.

Initially, they killed a lot of Abominations. This squad was comprised of well-trained warriors. They knew their business. However, it very quickly became a numbers game. Given too many Abominations and even the most tireless of fighters will eventually be overcome.

The drummers and pipers, who were accompanying the singing, from a safe distance, retreated. In 4/4 time, in case you were wondering. Once behind the tall iron doors, and safely in the second great hall, they stopped playing and reported.

Busepholus Bronzebeard, Marshal of the Unyielding Hold followed the well-established protocol and ordered his Rune-Masters to take their murder holes. On the count of three, they traced the mystic symbols with their battle staves and the grand hall erupted into an inferno. On the count of ten (the previously agreed upon count), then the Rune-Masters peered out of the murder holes.

Everything was blackened and piles of ash fell like snow, except for being hot and made of incinerated Abominations. As they watched, each Rune-Master thought about all the work that needed to clean up this huge mess. As schedules were being mentally constructed, more Abomination arrived, uninvited. To be fair, few beings invite Abominations to anything, and those who do are not the sort that you might have round for an evening of casual supper and cards.

Again, as the great hall filled with these monstrosities, runes were traced, fire filled the room, and Abominations were flash fried. All was done with extreme efficiency, except for the Abominations who were as sloppy, which was their whole thing.

This happened seven more times, which might not have been a problem except the iron door separating the rest of the Unyielding Hold from the assault was beginning to smolder and was very hot to the touch.

Marshal Busepholus Bronzebeard called his captains to his side to discuss their plan.

My friends, it appears we are in trouble,” said the Marshal.

But we followed the protocols to the letter,” said Shasar Silverboot

These creatures should have retreated by now!” declared Fruden Fireback.

Clearly our foes are doing this incorrectly!” added Ignaz Ironbottom.

There was a general agreement amongst these officers, after all, what else could it be?

Have we somehow, missed a crucial step in our plans?” asked Gerta Granitehands?

This statement caused a flurry of checking, cross-checking, and confirming details from books, scrolls, and other records. In the end, they could find no fault in their actions. Additionally, three more waves of Abominations had repulsed and the edges of the iron doors were now glowing a dull red color.

A call out to the Rune-Masters confirmed that more of these Outer Realm monstrosities were even now, pouring into the great hall.

With great solemnity, the Marshal removed an old leather scroll case from his belt, where it had rested since he was elevated to this post. His Captains said nothing but their nostrils all flared.

Here is the Ultimate Protocol. Written by the first of our people when this Hold was carved. This will tell us how to defeat these invaders that make no treaties, accept no parley, and know no honor.”

Clearing his throat, Busepholus Bronzebeard read this near holy protocol. Afterwards, everyone nodded with agreement and then began the preparation.

First, the secondary great hall was evacuated. For a sense of the visuals of this, the great hall was deep and wide, suitable for grand celebrations. The secondary great hall was more of a hallway, still deep but not nearly as wide. It led deeper into the mountain and to the inhabited portions of the hold. But before that was the Chasm of Jarac-Kram. Discovered by the early Dwarven stone-masons in the early days of the hold, it was a wide, underground canyon that stretched in a wide circle for miles. A perfect natural defense, since it was considered to be bottomless.

Now in the interest of accuracy, no one could say if it was truly bottomless. Some stone scholars argued that everything has a bottom and those who opposed this asked if these smart guys thought it didn’t have a bottom, why not climb down and prove it? Of course, the other ones said, ‘if you really think it has a bottom, it seems like it’s up to you to prove it!’

What followed was a lot of insults about academic qualifications which, as often happens, followed by disparaging comments about each other’s mothers. This was the source of many scholarly feuds that have not been resolved as neither side is willing to climb down and prove things either way.

So, in the end, the Chasm of Jarac-Kram was considered bottomless or close enough to make no difference. There was but one way to cross, a mighty bridge, known as the Span of Goldpick (named for the Dwarf who engineered it), that spanned the nine-hundred-foot distance from one side to the other.

Once they had evacuated the secondary grand hall and crossed the Span, it was destroyed. A moment of great sorrow for those involved, for this was a part of their heritage. It passed rather quickly when the sight of countless Abominations poured down the secondary great hall.

More armies would stop still at the sight of this impassable pit. Not these guys. They began to pour into the Chasm of Jarac-Kram like there was treasure at the bottom. It was an astounding sight. Such a vast and terrifying host, plummeting to their demise with absolutely no regard for the concept of either gravity or death.

After hours of this, Marshal Busepholus Bronzebeard ordered most of his troops to the inner hold. Leaving a squad to keep watch. It was, at the time, considered a victory. Both against the Abominations and for Dwarven pre-planning.

Everyone felt safe. There were vast stores of food and access to fresh water, so that wasn’t a concern. Common sense told them that it had to end soon. It’s not as if there were an unlimited number of Abominations. Also, clearly there was nothing in the deepest, darkest parts of the mountain that might be disturbed. They would know that. Right? Right…

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Some Good News!

My short story, “An Odd Missive”, has been selected as a Quarter-Finalist in the Script 2 Comic Contest! This is very exciting to me as I am a lover for novels both prose and graphic. Winners will have their work adapted to comic form. If you have no read it and wish to, here is a link,

Thank you to all of you readers and fingers crossed for the Quarter-Finals!

Leo Byrne Jenicek

Apologies for any blank posts that got sent out, I was exploring my humanity by erring.

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Corruption is Sexy-Da Great Goblin Rebellion Part 25

The Underworld might appear to be chaos but in fact, Hell craves order. To the untrained eye, it appears to be a random hodgepodge of countless sharp, spiky objects, pits of fire, pits of acid, pits of excrement, pits filled with all sorts of objectionable things (they are very big on pits), and of course, sinners. 

As haphazard as it all appears, Hell is run with clockwork efficiency, each punishment calculated to both torment and the occasional touch of hope to make the anguish all the more potent. Is that cruel? Absolutely. That’s the point.

Each day, as if time held any sway here, the caverns of Hell are filled with the cries of the damned, AKA The Symphony of Sin. But not today. Instead, there was an uncomfortable silence. At least it made Asmodeus, Crown Prince of Hell, uncomfortable.

Looking out from his palace, made of obsidian and shattered dreams, he sipped some infernal Nebbiolo out of his favorite goblet, crafted from a skull of some false prophet. He forgot his name but it added an undertone of delicious terror and a subtle note of plums to his beverages. Now it just tastes like ash, but not in a good way.

Bootherby” bellowed the Prince of Darkness.

Skittering into the vast chamber on his multiple spindly legs, the majordomo bowed at the thorax and asked, “How may I serve you my dark and puissant Prince?”

Do you hear that?” asked Asmodeus.

Your ears are much sharper than mine, your Fell Lowness. I can hear nothing.”

That. Is. The. Point! Where are the screams of the damned? The howls of wicked? Why is it so F—ing quiet?” he yelled.

Has my lord not read the morning missives?”

He had not. Normally, he would peruse them over breakfast, blood waffles with long pork sausages were his favorites, but the unnatural silence had distracted him.

Give me the short version,” said the Ruler of the Underworld.

Pursing their wet, purple lips on their demi-human face, Bootherby said, “I beg your Lowness, I only bring you news, I have no influence over events.”

Fixing his majordomo with slitted, yellow eyes, Asmodeus made the ‘get on with it’ gesture.

There has been a walkout, sire.”

Are you telling me that souls are walking out of Hell?!?”

Oh no! No, no, no.”

That’s a relief.”

Daemons are refusing to work, my lord.”

It was at this point the Asmodeus transformed into a towering figure with massive bat wings, a ripped torso, dangerously sharp horns, and goat legs with steel hooves. All his anger and frustration focused on Bootherby, who quickly became a smear of goo and offal on the black and red marble floor. Notice I did not say ‘poor’ Bootherby. They’re a daemon and they cannot be truly killed. They just return as some other sort of daemon. Also, they framed his predecessor for petty theft and took his place. So, no tears.

Pulling himself together, Asmodeus called for another servant. A figure with the lower body of a large pig and the upper body of some sort of snake person came in. A snake-pig centaur, if you will.

How may I serve you my Dark Prince?” hissed the servant.

Have this mess cleaned up and bring me some more breakfast wine.”

At once your Lowness!”

What’s your name?”

I am called Munt-” began the snake-pig.

-I’m just going to call you Bootherby. You’re the majordomo now”

As is right, my Prince,” replied the new Bootherby, who signaled for the mess to be cleaned up.

The is another matter that requires your wise and most evil attention,” added the newest in a long line of majordomos.

What, what, what?” spat Asmodeus.

Hala Half Daemon craves an audience with you, my Prince.”

Asmodeus tried to remember who that was. There were so many, many daemons in the underworld, so it was difficult to remember them all. Additionally, he was terrible at names but on the other hand, he never forgot a face.

Is she hot?”

Both literally and figuratively sire.”

Send her in then.”

At once, my Dark Lord.”

New Bootherby exited and a moment later, Hala Half Daemon strode in, dressed in a low-cut business harness. Her hair was wreathed in a bright, blue flame and she was indeed very attractive. Delicate horns, a deep red complexion, golden eyes with x-shaped irises. She was damned sexy.

Well, greetings Hala Half Daemon, what can I do for you today?” said Asmodeus with a leer as well as several lewd gestures. 

For anyone who thinks this is inappropriate behavior, remember where we are. 

Indeed you can, Lord Asmodeus,” she replied with a smirk.

He licked his lips, this day might not be a total loss. She reached into her plunging decolletage to reveal… a scroll, which she handed to him.

Some erotica?” he stage whispered, “Do you want me to read it to you?”

Please do, my lord.”

Clearing his throat, he began.

We the daemons of the Underworld, have the following demands. Starting with bondage, well played Hala! Why don’t I continue then? First, a maximum of an eight-hour work day with a one-hour lunch break and two fifteen-minute breaks in the first and second half of the work day. Any work done outside of these hours is to be paid time and a half. The following days are to be considered holidays and as such, blah, blah, blah.”

Asmodeus began to skip past parts, and asked, “Can I give you some notes? The build-up is way too slow. You need to start with something big and sexy to hook the reader.”

I think it’s very sexy,” countered Hala.

Don’t want to kink shame you, I support any and all perversions, but this really isn’t doing it for me. Do you have anything with randy stable boys?”

This is our list of demands,” she said.

But none of them are about forbidden acts that the protagonist swears they won’t do but secretly really want to do.”

With a smile, Hala Half Daemon looked the Prince of the Underworld straight in the eyes and murmured, “I’m leading the walkout, and that scroll you currently hold is the list of the terms that must be met before we go back to work.”

Asmodeus stared at her for a moment and said, “What?”

You did notice that no torture was being done, didn’t you?”

Of course! I WAS about to deal with that!”

How?” she asked.

By slaughtering those impudent fools!” he growled.

That won’t do it.”

It has in the past, I see no reason it won’t continue to work now!”

As the leader of the Local Coterie, Lodge DCLXVI of Daemons, Imps, Succubi, Incubi, Dybbuks, Oni, Tengu, and associated spirits other infernal workers, I am formally informing you that we will not work another moment until our demands are met.”

Is this about the Goblin thing?”

It’s about the Goblin thing.”

Sitting on his crystalline, blood-red throne, Asmodeus sighed.

On the one hand, I’m super proud of how you all lawyered your way out of your binding from all those Demonologists. Those guys are the worst. Well, clearly not the worst, but you get what I’m saying. One of the best parts of winning is on a technicality. So sweet.”

She bowed with a smirk.

But it’s one thing to screw over some mortal jerks, it’s another thing when everyone stops doing their jobs! Without torment, the Underworld is just depressing. And when I say depressing, I mean for me. It’s supposed to be depressing for the souls we punish.”

Agreed my lord.”

So be a slaughtered lamb and make everyone get back to work.”

Hala Half Daemon laughed. It sounded like shards of razor-sharp glass as they hit each other just before embedding in someone’s flesh. Intoxicating.

I’m afraid that’s not going to happen. And when I say afraid, I am in no way fearful. Just so we’re clear.”

Bootherby! Summon my squad of Law-Daemons!” shouted Asmodeus.

They appear to have vanished, My Infernal Prince,” hissed New-Bootherby.

All of the Law-Daemons are working for the Coterie, sire. They could not resist the opportunity,” added Hala.

Well that’s a hell of a thing!” he said as New-Bootherby poured him more breakfast wine.

You’re not wrong my Dark Prince. But I would urge you to consider our terms.”

Holding the scroll, which spilled out across the floor to an alarming length, Asmodeus made an exasperated noise. 

What happened to loyalty and team spirit?”

Both of those concepts run counter to the ethos of Hell.”

Then what happened to fear and obeisance?”

Collective bargaining.”

Damn you!”

A little late for that, isn’t it?”

What if I don’t want to negotiate? Are you all going to just sit about and think evil thoughts that you can never act on? All I have to do is wait.”

If my Dark Lord will come with me to the window,” Hala asked.

I don’t care how catchy your protest chants are, I’m not going to be swayed.”

No assembled crowd of Daemons stood outside. A lone bone bush that had been uprooted clattered by and after it passed, only the wind could be heard, moaning as if it had only now realized that it had been stood up.

And… Nothing! I’m so glad we came out here,” muttered Asmodeus.

Producing a spyglass, Hala gazed at a distant point, then handed it to Asmodeus. He peered through it. While he couldn’t turn white, he did fade to what might be described as puce.

All those wicked, wicked souls, stuck on the other side of the gates of Hell. They can’t go back, but they are piling up. I can’t say for sure what will happen eventually. But whatever it is, it won’t be good.”

Stroking his goatee, Asmodeus said, “Fine! Let me read this list of terms of yours.”

And he did. It took the rest of the day, and he had many many questions, all of which Hala answered in excruciating detail. Then the negotiations began. Insults were hurled, compromises were proposed, accepted, then rejected, then fiddled with, and accepted again. Multiple tables were flipped in the course of all this. In fact, new tables were added as the old ones were smashed in the fervor of arbitration. As well as the appointment of six New-Bootherbys.

Finally, as they sat on piles of shattered tables, they, at last, came to an accord.

I accept terms one through three-hundred thirty-seven, omitting clauses fifty-nine, one hundred and twelve, all of the two hundred twenties, and four hundred ninety-nine,” Asmodeus said.

Shall we sign in blood?” asked Hala who already had a sharp knife in hand.

AND I get to kill twenty percent of those who walked out.”

Seven percent.”




If you are shocked by how cavalierly Hala sold out ten percent of those who stood with her, I remind you, Daemon. Not a good person. Or even a person, strictly speaking.

Then it was signed, and the strike in Hell was over. Messenger Imps were sent across the infernal landscape and soon the wails of the damned echoed once more.

That was exhausting!” said Asmodeus.

You loved it,” she replied.

Maybe. A little. Or a lot. Maybe.”

She let loose one of her shattered glass laughs.

I think I might take a long blood bath and read a bad book.”

That seems like a waste.”

He eyed her and asked, “Do you have a better idea?”

How big is your tub?”

Hala Half Daemon, are you trying to seduce me?”


You really roasted me over the coals, why should I trust you?”

We both got what we wanted, so why not celebrate?” she purred opening up a bag.

It was filled with toys. Well, in Hell they’re toys. You know what I mean. Let your imagination run wild but any nightmares that follow are your problem.

Is this a compromise as the leader of the Coterie?” he asked.

Standing above him, Hala enquired, “Does that concern you?”

Did what follow absolutely compromise the integrity of the contract, as both parties already were plotting against each other while they also made hate (it could not be called “making love”)? Was this a healthy relationship? For the Underworld? Let’s call it a seven out of ten. Good, not great.

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