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?”
“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.”
“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.