Friday, September 28, 2012

Day Two-Ninety-Five: Welcome

The camp awoke this morning to the sound of a hideous beast, yawning loudly in our midst.

Everyone was instantly on alert. The nobles, either asleep or prepping for breakfast, immediately ran for their wagons and refused to come out. Grylock cursed and rolled out of bed, Edmund shouted "By my eye, now we die!" and crawled under his cot, and I pissed myself. Promptly and enthusiastically.

… what? 

Everybody knows you need to pee in the morning. It's standard. I had a lot to drink last night, we were up late playing War with the tarantula! (He's a good guy, by the way. His tea is AWESOME.) So, for once, it's forgivable. And it wasn't in my bed, nor in a bed ANYONE uses. I care not. June can change the damned sheets if it smells.

Right. Monster. That's more interesting.

The tarantula was on the ball. He leaped from his bed and skittered to the wagon's front flaps, throwing them aside with his tiny arms and staring into the mist. He shrank back as the monster roared again, but his immediate bravery was enough to put sleep-bedraggled me to shame, and I joined him.

Nearly stepped on him, too. Whoops. Don't worry, he's fine.

I scanned the camp, watching as the nobles fled for their wagons. The monster roared again, loud and deep, and I had to bite my tongue not to run and hide. I held… watched… waited… remembered that I was mayor… remembereddddddd…


A normal man, confronted by that sound, would’ve screamed and run into the fog. I, however, did not, because this fourth outburst registered as faintly recognizable… almost feminine. BEASTLY feminine. VICIOUSLY feminine.

"Oh, right," I muttered, all the pieces fitting together. "Preggers."

Discarding my pants and donning a fresh pair I leaped from the wagon and ran to my own, cringing as it rocked from side to side. The roars grew in intensity and frequency, and as I got closer I could hear June yelling back, though with far less gusto than my wife.

I dove into the wagon from the rear, taking a splinter to the boob - the BOOB, I say - as I slid into Libby's curled feet. I'm not sure why I attempted such a dramatic approach, and it certainly didn't help the situation, because three bad things came immediately thereafter:

a) June SCREAMED at me to get out of her way, and stomped on my hand
b) Libby ROARED at the sudden touch of moist hair on her foot, and she kicked me so hard that I sailed out of the wagon
c) I saw things no mortal man is meant to see

Seriously. Childbirth is gross. I don't know why I regretted missing Eve's birth.

The 'procedure', or whatever you wanna call it, only lasted for a couple minutes. During that time I held my OWN birthing ceremony of a sort as Grylock helped me yank the splinter out of my boob. I'm sure my yells were ALMOST on par with those of Libby, and they certainly outlasted hers, because I'm a whiner. Yay for Dragomir the Wuss!

Once all extractions had been completed, June threw back the wagon's enclosure, scolded me for being an idiot, and ushered me in. June's horrid face aside, the scene painted therein was… beautiful.

I have a son. Grayson. He smiles when he sleeps. So unlike his sister, yet… just like her, at the same time.

I'm gonna do the father thing right. Nothing's gonna stop me from being a daddy. And when we get Eve back… life will be even better than it already is.

But that's not the end of today! MORE good things happened!

Libby was exhausted, so she spent most of the day sleeping. I took the chance to introduce little Grayson to everybody, carting him around to each noble in turn. He's a precious bundle, he is, and even the manliest of men (rare among these dandies) melted before his splendiferous babiness.

Grayson is incredibly well-behaved. He never cries, regarding each new sight as a blessing. No piece of food or dollop of milk is rejected, every stranger instantly becomes a friend, and his eyes… they are the most beautiful little drops of blue. This kid is GODLY, diary, simply godly.

I played with him the whole day. Relegated all my duties to Harold. He'll make a good assistant, I think, 'cause that's probably what he'll be in the future.

Meals passed, we paused to allow Libby a day of recovery, and night fell. The night of the tournament. Grylock, Libby and Robert, fighting it out for a mystery grand prize that Libby has not specified. Said she'd keep it secret 'til a winner is announced.

I figured Libby might forfeit, as she was exhausted, but sure enough she came tromping out of our wagon - with a new haircut and outfit, I guess that's part of the childbirth process - to eat her dinner. I immediately surrendered Grayson to her burly arms, and the peace in her face deepened. 

She loves this kid soooooo daaaaaaaamned much. I guess he's vindication, given that Libby thinks Eve is… well… y'know.


Libby wolfed down her food, not once putting Grayson aside. He cooed and squeaked, and she laughed and coddled, and even after the plates were gone and the War board was in place Libby refused to relinquish her son. It was a one-on-one-on-two game.

The final match proved fierce. Robert, a good player but not on the same level as the competitors, fell out of favour after the third turn, mashed by one of Libby's Quasi-Neophyte Foretellers. Grylock screened his side of the board much more thoroughly, and by the fifth turn they were deadlocked.

Sixth. Deadlocked.

Seventh… slight lead for Libby.

Eighth, definite lead for Libby. Grylock looking confused and panicked.

Ninth and tenth, huge gains. Libby well in the lead. Almost impossible for her to lose, and, predictably, she won. Stomped out Grylock's final Neophyte with a well-placed shoehorn manoeuvre to his second trimester. Glorious moment, everybody cheering, Libby holding Grayson up and slathering his face with kisses.

The grand prize was a kiss from Libby. She didn't wanna kiss herself, so she assaulted the baby with her love. It was perfect. (Harold looked disappointed when he discovered that he coulda earned a smooch, and Edmund joked that he 'Most certainly would have participated, / Had a kissy-kiss been anticipated.' Pair 'o letches.)

Everybody celebrated but Grylock. He skulked off into the night, sitting himself on a rock at the edge of camp. I joined him, ready to both sooth his anger and revel in my wife's victory.

There wasn't anger in the goblin, however. There was confusion. "How did she know?"

"Huh? Libby? You mean Libby?


"How did she know what?"

Grylock stroked his nose, fiddling with his glasses. "My tell is in my eyes. I know it. I wince whenever I'm in a tight spot. That's why I like glasses. They hide m'tells from opponents. Logan… bless his soul, wherever that little bastard is… Logan always hated playin' with me, 'cause I didn't have any tells. So… how…?"

I shrugged. "I… don't get it?"

Grylock explained. During the first trimester of the sixth turn, Libby had anticipated one of Grylock's moves. He'd meant it to be a bold strike, a Neophyte straight to the heart of Libby's troops that would dissuade her from attacking his lines. He'd never meant to move any closer into her territory, despite all appearances…

… and she caught him on it.

There was more. Libby managed to outplay Grylock on many subtle levels, completely undoing all of the strategies he'd formulated - sometimes before he had a chance to put them into play. By the end he was so mixed up and confused that his moves became sloppy, and he offered his final piece up as a sacrifice to avoid further embarrassment.

"She knew," he repeated. "How did she know? She never… played that well before…"

I had no idea. Maybe pregnancy gives newly-minted mothers excellent gaming skills. Maybe she was inspired. Or, perhaps…

"Maybe my kid is good luck?" I offered, with no small amount of smug satisfaction.

Grylock didn't like that answer.

But I did.



Dragomir the Father

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Day Two-Ninety-Four: Tucked away for safekeeping

Maaaaaan, I'm outta the tournament. Lost to Grylock. He's poised to face off against Libby and Robert in the finale. Gonna be a fierce battle tomorrow evening, lemme tell ya.

Not… not Robert the Librarian, of course. This is Robert the Noble. Y'know? Has a wife named Giselle? The Noble? The Noble family? Yeah, I guess they're ALL the Noble family, but I'm trying to be personable, here. Getting to know all these stupid nobles is tough.

Maybe I shouldn't call them 'stupid'. I have to get along with 'em.

Meh. My diary. I call them what I want. 

BUT ROBERT! The Librarian, of course! I made some headway with him today, in that I VERIFIED HIS CONTINUED EXISTENCE! Yep, Robert's travelling along with us… in his own little way… and is quite content with his new life. June has him convinced that he's in a thriving library. The way she's doing it has me concerned, but…

Libby's been confined to bed, what with an increase in cramps and her overall mellowness (which is plain weird, I gotta say), and I went to June's wagon to ask her advice. I missed the pregnancy last time, so I don't know what to do. Does the baby fly out of Libby like a cannonball? Or does it split open her belly for a split second and leap out like an action hero? 

I don't know. I missed it. I figure, though, that June's old enough to have learned something about the miracle of birth, bein' a healer and all. Who better to ask?

Nobody enters June's wagon. Understandable, 'cause it's guided by an intelligent tarantula that can somehow control two oxen with its tiny… front… arm… thingers. Not ACTUAL thingers, that would be gross, but spider thingers. Anatomically different, and if they have a name, I don't know it. Arms'll do. Either way, it's a creepy little thing, even if Libby vouches for its manners.

And it IS polite. It waved as I approached the wagon, and ushered me through the flaps on the front. Offered me a cup of tea, too. I passed, but I tried to restrain my disgust. Doesn't do to be cruel.

The spider pointed me to the central pole holding up the wagon's cover, and on it was a tiny door. It looked just like the door in June's hut. After some more prodding from the spider I gripped the wee doorknob and turned -

- and was immediately sucked into June's hut, my floppy hat sailing across the room and RIGHT into June's roaring fireplace. I scrambled to grab it, 'cause not only am I afraid that June will KILL ME for ruining her gift, I'm kinda fond of the stupid thing. It's slicker than I originally thought, and the nobles seem to like it.

June laughed from her desk as I stomped the flames out of the hat and planted it back on my head. "Your entrances always give me the giggles, Mayormir. Can I call ya Mayormir?"

"I'd prefer not," I replied, brushing soot off my shoulders.

"Right ya are, Mayormir." June swept away from her desk, pointing a now-airborne scroll towards a hole in the far wall. "ROBERT! INCOMING!"

"On it, ma'am!" a cheery voice whispered back through the hole. Definitely Robert.

I ran to the wall. "Robert!" I called through, trying to peek at what lay beyond. "Are you okay, buddy?! Speak t'me!"

Silence, for a moment. Then, chirping as happily as it ever had back home, Robert's voice. "Dragomir! Is that you, my lad? Good to hear you again! My, it's been a while, hasn't it? Would you like to visit my library?"

"I'd love to! Just… gimme… gimme a minute…" I searched the wall in vain for a doorknob. "June, um, is there…?"  

June shook her head, but said nothing. Instead, she walked to the wall, turned to stare me full in the eyes, and smiled. The whites surrounding her crazy pupils swam, turning a deep, familiar orange -

- and a loud POP! pierced the air, a sudden, sharp intake of breath from my lungs, MY lungs, forcibly floating out of my mouth and swirling, mixing, becoming a steam tinged with orange at June's side.

The steam shifted. Changed. It became… me. Me, in my old guard outfit, before… everything. That me, smiling, floated through the hole in the wall and out of sight.

"Hi, Robert!" a hauntingly familiar voice cried. "Man, I missed ya! I'm so sorry 'bout what happened last time! I… hell, man, I didn't -"

"It's okay!" Robert cried back. "It's fine! I shouldn't have yelled! No problem! Welcome, come in, enjoy my new library! I love it!"

Robert and the Phantasm Me reconciled. I, still standing in June's little home, listened in silence. Eventually the two voices on the other side of the wall faded away, and June pulled me back to the door.

"You can't go over there," she explained. "There ain't enough room. He's basically crammed into a closet full of books. He THINKS it's a full library, but… nope. Don't worry, that shape I sucked out of ya will say everything you woulda."

I wasn't hung up on that anymore, though. "W… why did… why did your eyes turn… why are they still kinda…?"

June cocked an eyebrow. "What, you callin' me ugly?"

"No! No! I just… um… why… orange…"

Too late. June was on the defensive, which as she advanced on me quickly turned to an offensive. "What? What? You think my eyes're too white? You think I'm too old? My skin too sallow? Hmmmm? You come into my house to say that my irises look like a swirling, stylized sun? You married man! How dare you call an old woman ugly! I could crack your head open with a touch of my finger! Yes, you keep backin' up, thou withered jelly, thou clouted rough-hew bugbear, thou burly-boned motley-minded maggot-pie, why don't ya just get thee to a nunne -"


Eventually I peed myself and passed out. I couldn't stop talking! My vocabulary, everything I'd learned, flowed like desperate diarrhoea in an effort to keep me alive! I doubt I needed to go that far, but dammit, I do what I must to ward off witches!

When I woke up a few hours later, June was tending to Libby. Provided her with a bunch of herbs to ease the birthing. She's staying in our wagon tonight, to keep an eye on my wife, while Grylock, Edmund and I stay in HER wagon.

With… the tarantula.

It has its own cot 'n everything.

I wait. The pregnancy, June says, should happen tomorrow. She KNOWS it'll happen tomorrow. I'm fine with that timetable. Didn't even have a PREDICTION last time. The night will give me a chance to ruminate over the rather troubling bit of magic I witnessed today.

June is keeping Robert in her 'library' to maintain his sanity. From what I heard of him after the fall of the castle, he needs therapy. I'm cool with that… though I'm sketchy on her methods. Ghosts? Fooling him into THINKING he's in a full library? Troublesome…

… yet that's not the big thing here.

Her eyes.

They went… orange…

I only know one other person whose eyes could turn orange… and he's dead.

It was the exact same colour.


Dragomir the Mayor

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Day Two-Ninety-Three: The Indy Trail

We passed by a manor today, diary. Belonged to a knight and his peasants. I tried to approach the grounds so I could ask 'bout buying some supplies and maybe staying the night - had a hell of a raccoon infestation while we slept, and I wanna avoid that by sticking close to civilization - but the owner's guards would have nothing of it. Told us to get lost, pronto.

Good to see people are stickin' together out here. Sigh.

Our supplies are a bit sparse. The raccoons, DOZENS of 'em, made off with the edible contents of two whole wagons. Stole the blankets right off the backs of the nobles in the wagons, as well. We've been reduced to sharing our remaining stock, and the noble on lookout when it happened - a squirrely little bugger named Mosely - has been reprimanded. Severely.

The punishment? He can't participate in the War tournament anymore. Damn shame, that - he was in fourth place. THAT'S WHAT YOU GET, falling asleep on the job. Wanker.

Oh, and did I mention that the oxen on one of the carts DIED? Of DYSENTERY? I don't know what that IS, diary! I don't even know HOW I knew it was dysentery, I just knew! Like it's some staple of travelling with an oxen! The horrors of migration, I tell you. So that's one wagon down, and a lot of supplies gone, and… we're on our fourth day.


Bright side: I think my son is on the way! Yep, it's a son. Libby told me so. She's so certain it's a son that I have no choice but to agree with her, 'cause saying otherwise yanks her out of her tranquil state and makes her very cross.

Oh, and, just in case it comes up: DON'T attempt to name the kid, diary. Don't even SUGGEST names. Libby's already got one picked out, and that name is Grayson. Don't ask me how she came to that decision, 'cause she won't tell me. Harsh woman, my wife, and super-stubborn.

Shrug. Grayson's a good enough name, I guess. Hope some thought went into it - we gave Eve her name because the birth happened during the night. Get it? Eve? The eve of the birth? Laaaaaate? Trust me, it makes sense.

I'm certain Grayson's about to enter the world because JUNE is certain he's about to enter the world. She's damn near ADAMANT he's about to enter the world, and she's predicted that it'll happen on Friday. I have no cause to argue with that - all the serious shit happens on Fridays. And when it DOESN'T happen on Friday, that just means that something EVEN WORSE is gonna happen on Friday.

Not that I'm implying that the birth of my son will be BAD.

No sir.

It's gonna be great. Just watch.

So long…

So long as…

The dysentery doesn't get to him…

Whatever the hell dysentery may be…

No sense worrying, I guess, but I can't help it. I'm gonna be a DADDY. AGAIN. I've been too busy to adequately express my enthusiasm about this, but it's FREAKING AWESOME. Can't wait to introduce little Grayson to his big sister! AND DON'T YOU SAY IT WON'T HAPPEN, 'CAUSE IT WILL! YOU WAIT AND SEE, DIARY!


Gotta go. I'm between War rounds in the tournament. Going up against Grylock and two other nobles this time. It's gonna be a tough match. Grylock knows how to move them neophytes. Last time we played he had my second tier in a headlock, and THAT, as you know, is a very bad thing indeed.


Dragomir the Mayor

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Day Two-Ninety-Two: Wagons may contain popcorn

Libby has ordered a War tournament this week! Everybody will compete during our evening meals for a grand prize. The nobles greeted the news with enthusiasm, though that's mainly 'cause Libby's scary when you insult or poo-poo her ideas. They may be socially superior to my wife, but they're not in a position to argue with her.

Ha haaaa, grovelling and scraping and agreeing in front of a lowly carpenter. They must HATE it. Life is goooooood.

SO. Caravan. I barely talked about it yesterday, did I? My brain was so wrapped up in rules and regulations that I ignored the fundamentals of our trip. CARAVAN! Let's chat, diary, let's chat about caravans.

Our accommodations aren't great. The wagons are all the same: each is equipped with a large, domed, water-proof tarp, nestled over a round cart with enough space for five or six people and their provisions. Rather than seats the wagons have bunk beds, ringing the edges of each wagon's interior, and the bedding is comfy enough that no one's complained about sleeping overly much. Not exactly a Matriarch, but not bad.

(Wonder what happened to the Matriarch. And Queen Daena. And Princess Celine. And… Logan, though he's probably dead… bah. Think optimistic, Dragomir, you're a mayor now. Mayor's gotta be optimistic.)

I'm not sure these wagons were made by goblins. When we were attacked by King Gok's forces last year, there were TONS of war wagons sitting on the horizon. I came across one on the way to Goblinoster! Gotta tell ya, diary, these don't look anything like 'em. I bet they're stolen from somebody… and I hope we never meet the former owner. They might be pissed.

Enough about that. Caravan! I've established a nice little routine for everyone to go by, and it's still functioning after three days of travel:

- Wake up shortly before the sun crawls over the horizon
- Have a quick breakfast and bathroom break (no room for privacy on the plains, so we've all agreed just to not watch)
- Travel until noon, then stop for lunch and general stretching
- Carry on for five more hours, until the sun begins to drop, then set up a large camp, preferably near a water source
- Engage in social activities (War, these days - the tournament is in full swing as I write this) and set watches - each watch only lasts an hour, amounting to roughly an hour of watch time per person every two nights
- Sleep and watch
- Wake up and repeat!

The watches have proven most contentious among the nobles. Even though they've been essentially 'roughing it' for weeks, they continue to cling to their hoighty-toighty habits. Get up in the middle of the night to watch the darkness? NOT FUCKIN' LIKELY. I've been reduced to yelling at 'em a couple times to take their turns, and when that doesn't work, I play the shame card. The card that reads 'Even my WIFE does her watches without complaining, and she's PREGNANT'.

That usually works. Usually. Thank the gods not all of 'em are like that: the lady with the goofy hats (she's wearing an armadillo, now) is pretty amenable to night-time watches, the Weekendist is downright pleasant in offering to TAKE watches for other nobles, and Harold actually offered to stay up an entire NIGHT. That's courageous.

(I get the feeling he's trying to attract Libby's eye. He's ALWAYS staring at her. I might be jealous if I thought he stood a chance in hell of wooin' her, but… nooooope.)

Also: the pregnancy issue. Yep, Libby's stiiiiill pregnant. And rather pleasant, in fact! There's no chasing or screaming or attacking or any of that stuff, 'least not without provocation. Most of the time she sits back, breathes in life, and rests. Cool, calm, content. Or, as she put it, 'balanced'. Guess normal babies get normal pregnancies, which probably means that we're not gonna have another Eve.

Thank the gods for THAT, eh?


No… no more Eves. That'd… that'd be… awful.


Travel continues. June's knobbly fingers point us ever westward. Hope she's actually TAKING us somewhere.


Dragomir the Mayor

Monday, September 24, 2012

Day Two-Nintety-One: Should've been called Libbyball

DAY TWO OF OUR GRAND EXPEDITION. The rain is gone, all our shit is dry, and spirits are high. The nobles are bitchin' about their lack of comforts - where the hell do ya expect to find bathrooms out here, ya twits? - but, yeah, everything's going well so far.

The plains are… plain. There's not much to say. Hilly land in all directions, with only the sun's movement to guide us. I've travelled the Indies before, and you kinda WANT to run into a whole lotta nothing. The migrations through these lands are deadly to migrants. You really think the lot of us could take on a horde of bouncing marmots? Not bloody likely. Our best warrior is preggers at the moment.

And busy! Libby doesn't have much to do, what with her gigantic belly, so she's occupied herself with designing a new board game. We lost her first one back in our old home, and the second, developed in Goblinoster, was deemed rather dull. She abandoned it in that sordid town and started fresh. (Libby blamed my death for stealing away her creativity. Pfft!) But this new one, hell, it is FUN.

Lemme run down the rules as I understand 'em:

- You begin play on a trigonal board, one player per corner, three neophytes per player. There's a maximum of six players if you can figure out how to play on a Z axis.
- Each player takes turns teleporting their neophyte from one end of the board to another. When two neophytes meet they engage in 'Praxis', whereby the neophyte with the higher ability score wins. Extra points go to players who bundle indicative theories with their moves.
- If a neophyte is 'nullified', he transforms into a 'reaper', and gains fifteen status points. If a neophyte is SOLIDIFIED, he transforms into a 'gangwenatch' and LOSES those fifteen status points, simultaneously adding a 'surefire' marker to his side of the board. Extra points are awarded during transmogrification if the player can balance a ball on their head throughout their turn. 
- If a player runs out of neophytes, they lose - though another player can grant them an 'extra life' through an agreement of indentured servitude. I'm not sure if I like this rule so much, 'cause it implies that the dead player can't WIN, thus giving the master an unfair advantage, but it's Libby's game. I'll let her iron out all the kinks.
- The player with the greatest tally of science points by the end of the twelfth half-round wins. They are thereafter entitled to eat all the ice cream they want, at least until the beginning of the next match. This prize is tough to apply when ya don't have any ice cream, so we won't be able to play PROPERLY 'til we're near a restaurant.

Make sense? Does to me. The rules are fairly clear-cut, and Libby's good at explaining what we have to do. Grylock loves the game, I'm pretty good at coming in third, and Edmund… well… Edmund's kinda stupid, I guess, 'cause this is what he had to say about the rules:

"I've been to many places, and many folk I've met; /
'tis many now the weary day that I have had to fret /
O'er worldly things of wonder, and our world's wonders more, /
And know I well /
That wonders swell /
And outward they outpour; /

But ne'er in all those days, so many days of yore, /
Have e'er I played /
Nor long outstayed /
Such bullshit, that thou namest 'War'."

(Yes, Libby named it 'War'. Just like the card game. She's not good with original names.)

I could tell Edmund was confused by the game through his lack of poetic structure. His rhyming was fine, but the progression of the stanzas? Changing it up halfway through? Nope. Didn't work for me. Didn't work for him, either, 'cause he was getting more upset with each word, and I'm pretty sure he was on the edge of a nervous breakdown when Libby told him to get lost.

Edmund ditched our wagon and practiced his rhymes while walking alongside one of the oxen. Got back to normal after a few minutes. Good for him.

So… yeah! That's more or less been our day. Grylock and I talking to Libby about her new game while she messes with the rules. I've made a point to stop the caravan a few times so the oxen have a chance to rest, and I've tried to talk to all the nobles at least once or twice. They all needed reassuring that I wouldn't run off on 'em, like I tried before. They're so insecure.

I'd say more, but Libby's calling me back for more gaming. Seems she's got a variation on one of her rules already. Make up your mind, lady!


Dragomir the Mayor

Friday, September 21, 2012

Day Two-Ninety: Bitter farewells

The rain has just stopped smacking the top of the wagon, and the sun's come out. Looking back to the east I see nothing but dark skies and the tip-top of King Gok's stupid tower.

Ahead of us? To the west? The sun. The fading sun, sure, but the sun. It's nice to see it again, after weeks of rain. I must be as pale as a dead man by now. Same goes for the other travellers in the caravan, though, to be fair, the nobles were never that tanned to begin with.

In short, we're underway. Goblinoster is behind us, and our path is plotted towards the borderlands of the Indy Plains. I'm headed home.

True to his word, King Gok had everything prepared when our goblin guards took us out of our chambers and into the muddy streets of Goblinoster. TEN covered wagons sat waiting for us, not the eight I'd requested, and each was laden down with supplies. They were guided by oxen rather than frogs, because as Grylock correctly pointed out, giant frogs don't do so well outside Goblinoster. They need lots of rain to keep going for long periods of time. Hydrates their skin, y'know.

Meh. Oxen for pulling carts. True, they'll be handy for tilling fields in the near future, but… who ever heard of oxen as transportation? Wacky kingdom they've got here… gimme an ostrich or a rhino over an ox any day.

Wonder what happened to the castle's rhino. Poor guy. Hope he's okay. Another potential casualty of… all… that…

There were a few goblin officials waiting to see us off, among 'em King Gok. His attendants carried him around on a sheltered chair, and with good reason - the second he stepped down to address us, a letter fell on his head. June assured him that her spell would wear off within the day, but Gok retained his irritated expression.

"Here ye be," he said, waving towards the waiting caravan. "Everythin' ye asked for. 'n a little more. A few things that'll keep the nobles 'mongst ya happy. Mirrors 'n makeup 'n pretty shit like that. Content?"

I nodded. "Yep. Uh, thanks, your majesty. I, um, I know I… might've… bugged you yesterday - "

"That's a wee understatement, ye puke."

" - but I do appreciate your help. We all do. And, um, once we're all set up, if there's any way we can help ya out, just… let us know, okay?"

King Gok grunted. "Peh. Like as not, you're gonna fail. I'm expectin' as much, no offense. Most settlements get three months off the ground 'fore they crash. Mixture of beasties 'n bad weather crush the spirits outta the dwellers… 'n you don't exactly have a hardy bunch, here."

I looked over my shoulder at the nobles. They'd fled the entrance of King Gok's tower and jumped into the wagons, fearful of the rain. You'd think after several weeks of roughing it they'd be a LITTLE better, but nooooo.

Gok eyed June. She was standing under an umbrella that appeared to be made out of bat wings, her tarantula on her shoulder. "Where, ah, ye plannin' te settle? Just gonna walk 'til ye find a nice spot?"

Knowing the question was asked to her more than anyone, June grinned and shrugged. "I'll just know when we arrive. Don't worry about that. You gonna miss me, O wise and benevolent Gok?"

The king snorted. "Oh, aye, June. Surely I'll miss yer veiled threats 'n mystery potions that only SOMETIMES worked. However will we cope without yer lunatic insights? Dark day indeed." 

"It's always a dark day in this dump," June replied, cackling. "I look forward to drier climates. I'll make sure we find 'em."

"Good for ye." Gok rolled his eyes and turned back to me, whispering. "Watch that one. Don't trust 'er a bit, do I, 'n ye'd do well te follow m'lead."

As if he had to tell me that. I winced and nodded. 

"Well then!" Gok stepped back into his mobile shelter, and a letter bounced off the roof. "Ye'd best be off. It'll take ye a few hours te reach the edge of the rains, 'n I'd advise ye  to get at least that far before night falls. Ye won't enjoy a weekend 'o dark time in the wet. Watch out fer the property o' landed gentry while ye're lookin' for a new home, they won't take kindly to yer encroachin', even if ye only stop for a night or two."

I nodded. Stepped forward to shake Gok's hand (unsuccessfully, he wouldn't touch me). Donned my mayor's cap. Took it off when Gok laughed at me. Libby at my side, I walked towards my caravan, listening to Grylock and Gok exchange goodbyes in their gnarled tongue.


I turned back. Gok was staring at us through the rain - or, more specifically, he was staring at Libby.

"Lass! Might I have a word before ye depart?"

Libby winced, her lips forming into a crooked sneer. I attempted something similar, but I'm not so good at angry expressions. I probably looked constipated.

"Aye, I know, but please!" Gok pleaded, beckoning her forward. "It's my last chance, it is! I want te apologize!"

Libby hesitated. I told her not to fall for it, and she was quite inclined to agree with me.

Gok held up a purse and waved it back and forth. "If ye let me apologize, this purse is yours! It holds one hundred gold! Quite a bargain for observing a bit of contrition from a king, eh?"

I changed my mind on the spot. We need money for supplies. I subconsciously shoved Libby forward a few steps, and though she growled at me, she walked over to Gok's shelter and stood before him, hands on her hips, belly jutted proudly outward. She had no fear of the king, and fully expected a damned good apology. Perhaps with some grovelling included.

Shoulda known what would happen. Gok jumped her. Planted three sloppy kisses on her face, probing her ear with his tongue. Libby must've ALSO expected this, because she managed to snag Gok's tongue between her forefingers and whip it back into his mouth. Gok backflipped off her chest before she could catch him with a punch, threw the coin purse at her, cheekily winked and blew a kiss, and ran back into his tower.

Libby attempted to charge. Grylock, six guards and myself managed to persuade her to change her mind. She's still fuming, as much at her poor judgement and greed as Gok's antics. (Yeah, yeah, I'm no better.)

We left, Libby, Edmund, Grylock and myself in the lead wagon while the nobles wrestled with their wagons to follow. A goblin on a horse guided us through the twisting, spiky streets of Goblinoster, and soon we were free of a loose framework that will, one day, become a massive wall encircling the city. Our guide pointed us towards the Borderlands of the Indy Plains, and we set off in the rain.

And now? A few hours later? Clear skies. We'll keep travelling for a few more hours. It's boring, and Libby's testy after Gok's stunt, but we're on our way. Gods help me, I have so many questions to ask:

- How long will we have to travel before we find a home? Will June only keep us on the move for a few days? Or will she drive us to oblivion and back?
- Speaking of June, where the hell is she? She keeps disappearing. She has her own wagon, but… it appears that her tarantula is steering it… and surprisingly well, I might add…
- Is Robert the Librarian all right? June says she's using him in her own library… so… is he technically along for the ride, or did she leave him back near Goblinoster? I'm afraid to ask…
- Where's Barrel? He's been absent this whole time, and I know I can't turn back to look for him. Will he come find us when he's done doing… whatever he's doing?
- When will the baby arrive? Eve didn't take this long. Maybe Libby was just anxious to spit the little demon out the last time she was pregnant? It was a hell of a lot more raucous than this go…
- What happened to Eve? Is she alive? She fucking better be, or I swear to the gods…
- That The Baron will pay - but what's his angle? What's he up to? Is he planning to invade other kingdoms? He called Eve a general… hrm… is he going to 'persuade' her to do his bidding?
- What are the dark things that have brought my old home crashing down? Will they make life in our settlement a hell? Is the world on the brink of catastrophe?

Questions. Answers better be forthcoming.

Huh. It's been over a year since I started writing in you, diary. Remind me not to be dead the next time you have a birthday. We'll have to celebrate. Maybe we'll have a birthday party for you, once our new house is set up. Can you eat cake? Would you LIKE cake?

Heh. Stupid question. You're just a book. Books don’t eat cake.


Dragomir the Mayor

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Day Two-Eighty-Nine: The power of correspondence

WE HAVE SUPPLIES. Holy lords in heaven and such, diary, we have the supplies.

After I gave that stirring speech yesterday, I figured I'd best follow up on my words with action. If we're leaving Friday, we need supplies. If we don't have supplies, we're gonna have to walk a long bloody way. And then dig holes in the dirt somewhere, and live in those holes.

Chances are good we wouldn't even get that far. Probably be eaten by a sloth as we wandered across the plains. Doi.

Yesterday evening, and MOST of today, was relegated to letters. Tons and tons of letters, all directed at Gok's aides. The king's still out bugging his sentries, but I'm betting his assistants have ways to get news to him, and Grylock slyly confirmed as much. Didn't give any particulars, 'cause he's still loyal to his king, but I think he's as anxious as me to have supplies for our trip out into the wilds.

SO. Letters. I wrote letters. I wrote the same letter about a dozen times, each with the same list of supplies included:

- A minimum of eight sheltered wagons to carry us across the plains
- Beasts of burden to pull those wagons, preferably giant frogs
- Enough supplies to last us for two months of travel
- Spare clothes, including cold-weather gear for the coming winter
- Seeds, so we can begin planting as soon as we find a good place to settle
- Digging equipment - shovels, picks, ploughs, that sorta thing
- Architectural plans for building a house
- Tools for putting together said house - hammers, saws, a few ladders - maybe a lathe, other such things (Libby added a BUNCH of stuff to this - suffice it to say that I dunno what half the tools are for)
- General travel gear - water skins, utility belts, cloaks, pouches, blankets, bedding, other creature comforts
- Weapons - mostly bows for hunting, though some swords and spears for close-ranged combat as well (nobles are gonna have to learn how to do this stuff, I guess)
- Lotsa money, however much can be spared

I ended each letter reminding Gok that my information regarding the shadowy thingers was invaluable, and probably worth a lot more than what I was asking. The whole letter was politely structured 'n stuff.

But there were a lot of 'em.

I knew one letter wouldn't get a quick response, and if we're supposed to be out by TOMORROW then I NEEDED a quick response. So, yeah, I made many copies, and sent Edmund out with each new letter to give to Gok's aides for quick delivery. Figured they would annoy him into giving us what we wanted.

Took a dozen letters for Libby to realize a flaw: the aides could simply NOT deliver the letters to Gok. That was an option, and a stymieing one at that.

We tried a different tactic. All of the nobles in our little band can read and write, so I employed the lot of them in replicating the letter in their own hands. Dozens upon dozens upon dozens of times, dozens upon dozens upon dozens of letters. I figured we could irritate the aides into demanding that King Gok address our requests.

Letters went forth in a blizzard of activity. Five hours after we'd started, no response. The aides didn't even ask us to stop delivering them. A visit from June, who'd grown curious as to the nature of these interactions, revealed why we weren't getting through:

a) In her opinion, it was a stupid plan, concocted by a stupid man, and thus doomed to failure; and

b) The delivery goblins were burning the letters before they got near the aides. Only the FIRST letter managed to make it down the hierarchy; after that the goblins got wise to our tactics and simply allowed us the illusion of progress. Even Grylock's intervention couldn't get word out to King Gok.

Though she thought the idea of writing heaps of letters was stupid, June offered to aid us in our scheme by delivering the remaining letters herself. The creatures from her hair gathered up our correspondence and dragged it all back to her apartment, and for a few hours we could do naught but sit and wait.

Night came. Morning followed. With it was a letter, adorned with King Gok's personal seal and addressed to me. It bore the following message:


You'll get everything you want. I'll spare a bit extra, as well. The details are below. 

Never ask the witch to send letters again. She has placed a hex on me, whereby a letter drops onto my head every time I take a step. This condition makes scouting intolerably difficult. I pride myself on my skills, and I won't have that old hag ruining my style any longer.

You have what you want. Your supplies will be prepped and ready by tomorrow morning. Leave then, and so long as June is with you, do not come back. I don't care if she is a miracle healer, I hate the bitch.

Fuck You,

King Gok'

So that's that! It worked! I get the feeling we didn't have to write nearly as many letters as we did to get that result - ONE probably would've done the trick, 'cause June's weirdass magicy stuff can obviously make duplicates - but it doesn't matter. We have supplies, MORE supplies than I asked for, and tomorrow…


We set out.

I'm the leader of a caravan of migrants.

We're gonna build us a settlement. A new home.



Scared shitless, I am.


Dragomir the Mayor

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Day Two-Eighty-Eight: All political and such

King Gok has left his kingdom.

Right when I need him to talk to me.

Asssssssstard. Yes, that's right, I left the 'b' off. It seems more severe that way.

Grylock assures me that Gok will be back by Friday. The king decided to test his spies in the plains to make sure they're up to snuff by paying them 'unscheduled' visits. In other words, he's gonna scare the crap out of 'em to see if they're doing their jobs. Guess Gok doesn't wanna take any chances, given what he heard about the threat from our old castle.

It's a prudent measure. But it leaves me high-and-dry for negotiating our needs. How am I supposed to get the shit to build a village if the king is gone? How am I supposed to negotiate in the first place?! I don't know how, but I DO know that the freaking KING needs to be here for me to DO IT! ARGH, how can I be prepared to leave by Friday if we have NOTHING but the CRAPPY CLOTHES ON OUR BACKS?! AND MY FLOPPY HAT?!



There is some good news: Grylock told me that he's coming with us. Says he misses working with his hands, and has offered to be our blacksmith 'til we get somebody official. I vaguely recall him telling me that he did smithin' when he was a lad, so that works for me. And once we do get a blacksmith, Grylock'll become the official liaison between us and the goblins. So that's something.

Why would goblins NEED a liaison with a piddly little village that'll probably fail? I dunno. Don't care, neither. We'll want all the help we can get. At least Grylock's standards are a lot lower than those of other nobles. He ate a live gerbil, once, 'n spit out the bones at my feet. If that ain't a lack of class, I don't know what is.

The only other big news I have for today comes by way of an announcement. Libby let the nobles into our bedroom long enough for me to announce my intention to become mayor of our new settlement, wherever that might be and whenever it might be erected. My (short) speech to this effect was written as such:

"My friends, I come before you today to answer one of the questions many of you have asked me, through the doorway into our chamber: 'What next? What do we do now? What is our next step?' I believe I can reply, now, with utmost sincerity, and hopefully assuage some of your fears.

We shall have a home again, friends. We shall build one.

Long have we sat in abject, gobliny misery, and the good King Gok has announced that we must depart from his lands by the end of the week. I propose, therefore, that we set out and establish our own settlement, far from this city. I have engaged in negotiations to procure the necessary items for our journey, and I anticipate that we will be underway by Friday.

This prospect fills me with great excitement. I have learned much of the ways of leadership, watching other leaders in action over the past year, and I believe I can take up the role you all wish thrust upon me as the architect of a new home. I ask only that you provide me with such aid that will help make this community great, greater even than the one we left behind.

I cannot do this alone! No one man can make a village, nor a town, nor a castle or city or empire! We are all equals in this endeavour, and though I claim the role of mayor, I am your servant. I will guide you all, if you will guide me. Through cooperation and trust, we will succeed! In this I have supreme confidence!"


Flowery, appropriately long, makes me sound smarter than I am. Good stuff for a mayor to read off to his constituents. Please note something, though, diary: I said that I wrote my speech like this. My delivery… was… different.

"Hey, y'all. I'm, ah, Dragomir. Guy next door. You keep bangin' on my walls at night… yellin'… askin' for answers… 'n shit… don't do that. It's loud, and my wife is all preggers, and she hits me for it. You shouldn't hit a mayor, yeah? It's, like, illegal or something.

Oh. Yeah. I'm gonna be mayor. Yay! You all said I hafta, and, um, the witch told me I have no choice. So I gotta. Under duress. Is that the word? Yeah. Duress.

Man, I gotta admit. I am scared so shitless that I don't even know the meanin' of the word. Shitless. Like, so shitless that there has never been so much as a fleck of poo in my body. I don't even know what poo is. Do you? I don't. Sure, you lot wouldn't know anyway, 'cause I don't think nobles poo… it's not a thing you do… yeah. I've never SEEN one of you guys p - OW, STOP THAT, LIBBY!

Okay. Lost track. Big picture, big… so here's how it goes. We're, um, gonna get stuff, 'n then we'll leave. That witch is gonna guide us where we're goin'. I know, her hair is CRAZY - I saw a sword stickin' out of it, once! - but we don't have a choice. I dunno where to build a settlement. Do any of YOU? No? Then we go with the witch, 'cause she's scary and stuff, and she seems to know. Or something. I just hope she doesn't lead us right into 'er friggin' belly or some such, ya know what I mean?

Witches? Eat kids? We're all kids to her, I think. You see how old June is? Crazy.

We're leavin' on Friday. Gok's kickin' us out. That's the sum of it all. I'm, ah, done, and hungry, so could one of you get me a sandwich? I'm mayor, so you gotta."

Yeah. This didn't go as a planned. Should've just read off the stupid parchment and not tried to memorize my speech, it didn't work. C'mon, sandwich, somebody hop to it."

And they did. Harold fetched me a baloney sandwich, and Libby wasn't fast enough to stop him. So I guess, in a way, the speech was successful.


Dragomir the Mayor

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Day Two-Eighty-Seven: General Complaints

Dragomir the Mayor.

I wrote that yesterday. As a conclusion.

What happened to 'Dragomir the Guard'? I was so fond of that name. It fit me perfectly. I was a guard, a lowly little bugger in a big, stupid castle, free of any great responsibilities. My captain beat me, my wife harped on about this and that, my king did… utter nonsense… and I had adventures. Painful adventures, but, in retrospect, kinda fun.

Man. I miss just being a guard. I'm not even fully a mayor yet and I STILL miss being a guard. Those good days seem so far off, now…

King Gok hasn't answered my appeals for supplies. I haven't seen the little windbag since our meeting last week. I spent a lot of time with Grylock instead, and though he offered NO promises regarding my requests, he's at least trying to help me with my problem. Granted that he's making fun of me as he does, but that's Grylock being himself. He's an asshole.

They're probably silent because they're busy. I have to give the goblins that much. We don't know a HELL of a lot, being cooped up in a room all day, but we've heard whispers that the goblins are beefing up their defences. King Gok's apparently ordered the construction of a wall around Goblinoster, and civilian goblins are being trained and conscripted into a force of long-range archers. Gotta keep a steady eye on the horizon, lest… undesirables… creep in.

Big, black, green-eyed undesirables.

From a door.

A reeeeeeeally biiiiiiig doooooooor.

I don't know what to call them. Do they have a name? Are they all part of the same race? I couldn't see much when I was… dying… but they seemed to come in all shapes 'n sizes. A bunch of the ones coming through the door were kinda human-sized, but others… others were MASSIVE. Like the royal guards.

Those Omega Corps bastards. I always KNEW they were up to no good. KNEW IT.

And then there were flying ones… and creeping ones… and… one… that was a penguin… I mean, how do you RATIONALIZE this race?! They're all over the fuckin' place! I don't know what to call 'em, I don't know if they have a name, I don't know what they ARE, I only know that they're a bunch of JERKS and they've got my DAUGHTER and I hope the whole lot of 'em got CRUSHED by the collapsing CASTLE though I know they DIDN'T 'cause Gok's spies said they HAVEN'T and and and balls.

BALLS, diary. The world has tipped balls-up, and I've been left to gather the pieces and rearrange 'em into a tidy little settlement. SIGH.

So. Yeah. Gok's busy with that. Building up the defences. That's a good idea, I gotta give him that much - even IF the goblins are great at detecting bad guys long before they get past the borders.


Wonder how I managed to do it, all those months ago. I was stumblin' all over the place. Guess the rats had a hand in keeping me invisible…?

Bah. The rats. They were right all along. Shoulda trusted them more. They didn't tell me much of use, but I shoulda trusted them more anyway. They knew all this was gonna happen. Wonder where they are, these days…?

Done for now. I need to beg Libby to fetch me some food from the kitchens downstairs. She's still got me chained to our bed, and she plays the pregnancy card whenever I ask her to do something. Yet she won't let anybody ELSE step in and help me! Keeps chasin' off all those nobles! Dangit, woman, if I have to be mayor, I should be able to enjoy SOME of the privileges of rank! SOMEBODY GET ME A DAMNED SANDWICH!

Sigh. In short, little to report today. Still waiting on Gok. I tried my best to make the entry amusing...?


Dragomir the Mayor

Monday, September 17, 2012

Day Two-Eighty-Six: Lookin' sharp

I woke up this morning with the floppy hat of my dreams sitting on my chest. With it was a note bearing this message:

'I thought it prudent to provide you, the newly-minted politician, with headware befitting your station. It looks terribly stupid, and thus, should match your brain. Enjoy. I included a pair of knee-high socks and a floppy-sleeved shirt to give you the appearance of a dandy, and a nice cloth mantle to replace your chainmail. Wear it all or you'll regret ever learning of my existence.


June the Witch

PS - If you turn down my tea again, I'll ensure that you never get voted out of office.'

Shit. Now I'm a mayor AND I have to eat roaches floating in herbal water. I'm not sure which is worse… and these socks are pretty stupid looking, so it might be a three-way race.…

Libby still doesn't trust me enough to untie me from our bed, so I've been ruminating over the problem of establishing a settlement while covertly gnawing through the rope on my wrist. Neither problem has a happy outcome, as far as I can see, though the rope IS less troublesome than the settlement looming in my future.

Settlement. Should I call it a settlement? That's so bland. I guess it's gonna be a village. At least at first. But what do I CALL this village of mine? See, another problem. My life is a giant string of problems from birth to death to rebirth, then, probably, up 'til I die again. Which I hope isn't TOO far in my fuecdewdwed

OW. You snapped shut on me, diary. What in the hell? My… grip must've slipped, or… something… argh. That HURT. I'll take it as karma and NOT talk about dying again. I was just kidding anyway. Yeesh, somebody has it out for me…

The task of establishing a village is just as daunting now as it was last week, and I've made NO headway on figuring out the logistics. I'm not prepped for this task at all. Let's look at my resources:

- One mayor, clueless
- One diary, private
- One wife, preggers
- One child, currently baking in his/her oven
- One bard, lyrical
- One noble, largely irrelevant
- A small horde of other nobles, faceless and blob-like (though one has a bunch of neat hats)
- One Weekendist, wears glasses
- One witch, crazy
- One librarian, apparently held captive by the witch
- One dragon, missing
- Many questions
- A floppy hat

This equates to a fair amount of manpower - more manpower than I'VE ever commanded, to be sure - but very few material goods. Where am I gonna find wood for houses, or seeds for crops, or carts, or animals, or ANYTHING? I can't house everyone in my floppy hat, nor can I use it as a food source to keep 'em all well-supped. At best my hat would feed a single person at a single meal, and it wouldn't be a good meal.

Unless it was deep-fried. Everything's good when it's deep-fried. Still, one person, one good meal, and many questions about sustenance thereafter. I do not envy my situation.

I have but one hope, diary, one tiny, rude, green hope: Grylock. He came to visit today - he's been visiting often since I snapped out of my funk - and I pled with him to appeal to King Gok for supplies. Anything he could spare, though preferably wagons, animals to pull 'em, food to keep us all going for a few months, some money, maybe plowing tools to get us started on rudimentary fields… axes… planks of wood… a couple of posh chairs to keep the nobles from bitchin' too much…

Yeah. Okay. I asked for a lot. King Gok is one of the bastards who put me in this situation, so it's only fair he pay up. Forget that he's been providing us all with shelter and food for the last few weeks, he owes us! Totally. We require compensation for our answers. Our… many… answers.

Answers. To questions. Questions asked by everyone. Questions aimed at me regarding what happened in our old castle. Questions I'm… not ready to answer just yet.

But I have to one day.

Ugh. Not looking forward to the moment when I have to share that our 'departed' friend The Baron is a horrifying traitor.

Enough complaining. I'm strapped to a bed, both terrified and bored. My teeth hurt, and my wife has crushed my lungs three times today with her mighty hugs. My overall condition… leaning towards the negative. Though it's nice to be appreciated.


Dragomir the Mayor

Friday, September 14, 2012

Day Two-Eighty-Five: Flight of the Legislator

Balls. BALLS. They caught me. I have to be mayor.

After the suggestion that I lead a community of nobles and… Libby and Edmund… from a few days ago, I went into seclusion. You might remember that from the previous day, diary. What I DIDN'T mention is that seclusion was… uh… a closet. A big closet, but a closet nonetheless. I've slept in rain barrels, so I didn't give a toss about the enclosed space, but I had to be careful not to set any clothes on fire with my magical match. (Yep, still got it. Thanks, Robert, this thing is handy.)

I think better when I'm alone. I'm not much of one for quick thought on the spot. The last time I did anything like that, I led two guards to what I assume was a terrible fate, not to mention died myself. Traumatic, that, y'know? Everything might've worked out better if I'd NOT gone down there.

Or maybe it would've been worse. SHUT UP, diary, I know you're thinking that.

Point is, I wanted silence, and because Libby, Edmund and the nob-mob (that's what I'm calling them now, I think it's a clever name) were all still awake when I began to ruminate, I escaped to the closet. I sat, and pondered, and doodled, and wondered what the hell I would do about the mayor thing.

As I considered my situation, I began to think about what it would mean to create a settlement. Even just a small one! Imagine all the things you'd need!

- Homes, and the materials to build those homes
- A source of food, meaning farmer's fields, meaning farmers, meaning farmers with seeds or animals or whatever
- An irrigation system for the crops or animals or whatever… do you irrigate animals? That's what my dad called it whenever he was watering the bulls
- Roads, even if they are just carved into the ground by wagons
- WAGONS, for carrying things
- Workers - these nobles sure as hell ain't gonna be doing physical labour any time soon
- A little monastery for the obligatory Weekendist sect, which the resident refugee Weekendist has been hinting towards non-fucking-stop - why should I do anything for you when you performed a fake marriage ceremony between Logan and my daughter?! You BASTARD
- Some kinda town hall for meetings, and ceremonies, and parties, and… hm, maybe I could just combine it with the Weekendist shrine… WAIT, WHAT AM I SAYING
- And a billion zillion jillion other things, which may or may not include made-up numbers

That's a lot of stuff, diary, and by the time I hit the workers, and the prospect of going out and trying to HIRE workers with all my… no money… I panicked. I flat freaked out. There was only one option, one course of action that would solve this whole debacle:


I waited over an hour for Edmund and Libby to stop playing her latest board game, and another hour after that for both of them to settle down in their beds and go to sleep. They both bade me good night through the door, and Libby told me not to make too much noise when I came to bed.

Easily done, baby, I thought. Not comin' to bed.

Which, in retrospect, was a scummy thing to think. My wife's pregnant. I assume I'm the father. (Still don't know how this stuff works.) I was planning to abandon her in a city of goblins. It was a horrible plan, yes, but you don't understaaaaaand, diary. I was DESPERATE. Morality had NOTHING TO DO WITH IT, don't you see? I DIDN'T WANNA WEAR THE FLOPPY HAT. NO RELATIONSHIP IS WORTH A FLOPPY HAT.

Once Libby was snoring, I slid open the closet, waited to make sure Libby and Edmund were asleep, and tiptoed over to the door. It was locked, but Edmund showed me how to unlock it whenever I wanna poke around the halls, and I managed to do so without much fuss. Nobody in the corridors when I went out.

That's when caution gave way. I was free. I could go anywhere. The world was my mayorless oyster, and the angular, too-short corridor before me my passage to FREEDOM. So happy was I that I SLAMMED the door behind me and stood, triumphant, with my arms on my waist.

That woke up Libby. And Edmund. And a dozen nobles in the next apartment over. And… a lot of goblins.

Libby yelled from behind me. Nobles entered our bedroom unbidden, curious about the commotion. Goblins poured out of nearby rooms by the hundreds. Or… it might've only been one or two. It LOOKED like hundreds. I panicked, and when I panic, I do dumb things.

… like RUN down the hallway in a random direction. I was uncertain where I could find the stairs. Gok's royal tower is a hell of a lot wider than the king's tower back home, more like a vertical castle in its own right, and I haven't had much of a chance to explore. I only remembered how to go up, to Gok's throne room, and that wouldn't help me a freaking bit.

People followed. Not Libby, 'cause her belly's turned her into a lumbering mass of cravings and muscles, but damn near everybody else. Their footsteps echoed in my wake, undaunted by my skilful attempts to flee down confusing corridors, shepherded by goblin overseers who were clearly glad to have a bit of early-evening fun. Come one, come all! Chase the spooked human! Little pricks.

I was so confused, so lost and so tired that I barely noticed an abrupt change in the scenery as I rounded a corner… a change from black stone to flowing wooden walls… and when I reached the door at the end of this hall, a piece of twisted oak that I should have recognized immediately, I didn't think twice about plunging through. It seemed like a great idea at the time.

I rescinded that estimation of the situation when I stumbled into June's hut, back in the swamp.

Or… not back in the swamp. MAYBE back in the swamp? I have no idea where her stupid hut is, now. Maybe it was never out there in the first place…

The sounds of footsteps behind me faded, and all I heard was the scratching of a quill. June, witch of Goblinoster, one of the most hideous old hags I ever did see, stared up at me from her desk with her squiggly eyes and smiled.

"There you are. I wondered when you'd show up. Have a seat." She motioned to a chair by a roaring fire, one I'd used months before to warm myself after a trek through the swamp.

You don't say no to June. You just don't. I sat.

"You've come a long way since that stupid journey to find aeromoss." She slid her quill into her robes and rolled up a piece of parchment, handing it to her tarantula assistant. "Give that to Robert, 'e'll find a good spot in the library."

I jolted forward. "Robert? He's here?! I've been -"

June fixed her whirling eyes on me. I sat.

"Yes, he's here." She pointed to the opposite wall. "Poor bugger was loopy when he got here. Figured my healing touch would bring him back to the real world. I gave him a whole new… library, to curate, and 'patrons' to keep 'im happy. He'll be fine until you set up an actual library in your new settlement. Thought up a name for it yet?"

My eye twitched. "F… fffffff… no, I'm… I'm not doing that. I'm not."

"Oh!" June cackled, reaching into her hair as if to straighten it. I doubt any living force could make that hair look straight. "I'm sorry. I didn't know. I figured, 'Hey, destiny waits, and calls on Dragomir. He must be ready to deliver.' I guess I was wrong. Fuck destiny, eh? Fuck it!"

I sneered, but I kept the expression to myself. June scares me. She's nuts. Don't wanna rile her up. "I'm not a mayor. I'm just… I'm just some dude. I can't lead nobody."

June clicked her tongue as she rose from her seat, hobbling across the room and over to a teapot covered in green goo. "You can lead. Anybody can lead. These people don't even need you to lead well. They'll handle the tricky stuff. You are simply the rallying point… and, if my suspicions are correct, you're gonna be the bannerman for the inevitable attack."

"Attack? What attack?"

June poured herself tea, offering me a cup. I declined, because hers appeared to be filled with roaches. I remember her tea being so good, back in the day…

"The attack," she said, sitting cross-legged on the floor, "to end all attacks. The attack that'll emulate an assault from a thousand years past. The attack that'll drive back the darkness, 'n restore… balance. Or some shit. Sounds prophetic enough t'be destiny, don'tcha think? Made all that on the spot, I did."

I clapped. She bowed.

"Attack against who, though? And what's that gotta do with building a village?"

"Everybody's gotta start somewhere on army-building." She shrugged, then, leaning close - unusually close, for somebody on the other side of the room - her eyes narrowed, and she smiled. "You know who you have to attack. You're stupid, but you're not that stupid."

No. No, I guess I'm not.

"Besides!" June's body ceased to violate normal physics, and she returned to her former spot, sipping her tea. "I'm coming along for this ride this time. I'll tell you where your dingy settlement has to be, whatcha need to get it running, and how to get the people to populate it. Once all that's set up, I'll be your healer. Gratis. Aren't I nice?"

"G… gratis?"

"Free, stupid. I'll do it for free." She bit her lip. "Aren't I nice?!"

She absolutely was, and I told her that several times to calm her down. I'm glad I only know one witch - two is one too many. Two is TWO too many. Which means ONE is ONE too many, so, y'know… zero witches… that'd be ideal.

"Yes, I thought so, too, myself. Also. Additionally." She cackled again, poured herself more tea, and pointed at the front door. "I have more visitors in the vicinity, but I don't feel like dealin' with 'em. You do it. Consider this your first act of leadership, Dragomir the Mayor."


That's all I managed. June waved her hand, and my chair lifted off the ground and hurtled towards the now-open front door, pitching me back into the hallways of Goblinoster… and right in front of a crowd of familiar humans.

They carried me back to my quarters. Goblins have been posted outside, so I can't escape again - not that Libby would give me the chance. She's tied me to the bed. I can still move around, but only up to five feet away. Auspicious start to my political career.

Balls. If June says it, I'm pretty much committed. I'm a mayor.


Dragomir the M-Word

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Day Two-Eighty-Four: That dreaded fate men dare call 'public office'

I've gone into isolation.

I know, now, why the nobles are so obsessed with me. They want me to lead. They want me to guide them in building a new kingdom, a place where they can live the life to which they are accustomed. They expect me to be the second coming of King Jeffrey, only with fewer nonsense decrees and random executions.

Me. Dragomir. Son of an eel farmer. Former guard. WORST guard, I might add. Did I mention I'm terrible at everything, diary? I'm not cut out to lead jack shit! My resume has two things on it:

- Farmer's son
- Bad guard

And that's all! No other credible job experience. None. If I were to apply for a job as a mayor of an established town, the sheer force of the bureaucracy's collective laughter would hurtle me past city limits and into the distant mountains. MOUNTAINS, diary! How the hell can I create a settlement, or a kingdom, or whatever, if I'm now in the MOUNTAINS?!

How did I earn this? All I did was walk down some steps, learn a few incredibly important things about the coming of a horrible race of shadow beings through a demonic portal, and die. That doesn't earn me the right to sit at the head of a town council. That barely earns me the right to sit at the head of the kid's table at a restaurant! I DON'T WANNA BE A MAYOR! DREAMS BE DAMNED AND SHIT!

Yet that's what everyone else wants. Before he sent me back to the apartments, Gok told me that I need to lead everybody outta here, because he's sick of seeing a bunch of humans in the halls of his tower, even if he does find all the ugly women to be unbearably attractive. (Yuck.) If we don't leave soon, preferably within a week, he'll force us out - or have our heads lopped from our bodies. Thanks for the great choice, Gok.

(He also threatened to tell Libby that Eve killed me. He's the only other person who knows, now, and unfortunately he knows THAT fact, too. Guess he's well aware that Libby will rush off to rend Eve if she finds out… not a good idea for a pregnant woman, y'know?)

And the nobles? The freakish nobles?! Of COURSE they want me to lead! They've been SCREAMING for me to do it all week! Why in the hell?! I mean, I'm probably better when compared to Jeffrey, but that just means their standards are HORRIBLY low! They shouldn't demean themselves by following a bloody IDIOT! THINK BETTER OF YOURSELVES, YOU FUCKING NITWITwdjededisijk

Sorry. Broke my quill. Had to fetch a new one. This whole issue has me riled.

Edmund's no help. When I told him what Gok 'suggested', he said that heroes 'spring from inauspicious roots' and that I could 'count [him] as [my] first, happy recruit'. NOT USEFUL, BARD.

How 'bout my darling wife? Did she support my position? Did she readily agree to everything I proposed and explained, as a good wife should? No. Instead, she asked but one question:

"Does that mean we'd get the biggest house?"


There's gotta be a way out of this, diary. There's gotta be a way to escape becoming the mayor of a crappy settlement in the middle of nowhere. I… I… gotta… gotta find a way… to weasel out of this…

I don't care. I'll spend all night thinking it over. I have better things to do than to make a town with these people. My daughter needs me… and The Baron is doing bad things… and… um… orphans are probably starving… somewhere… THEY NEED MY HELP… I WILL FIND THEM





Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Day Two-Eighty-Three: The Terrible Weight of that Floppy Hat

Balls. I had my conversation with Gok today, diary, and he raised a frightening idea for the future - one that I think my dreams have already confirmed as going-to-happen.

Dreams're such fickle things. They've been nuthin' but a pain in the ass to me. The image of that damned door haunted my slumber time for months, and before that… when they first started… there were images. Pictures of things that, eventually, came true. I remember 'em all vividly, and judging by what's happened, all of 'em were accurate depictions of the future… except one.


I had a hat. A different hat. A stupid, droopy, silk hat. And I was sitting at a desk, surrounded by half-built walls. There was a little wooden plaque on the desk, and… it read… well, I'll talk about King Gok before I get to what it read. Trust me, there's relevance waiting to unfold.

(Writing. Suspense. I'm getting the hang of these things. This is called a framed narrative. I think? Something like that? I'll ask Robert, next time I see him… whenever that is…)

I was summoned to King Gok's throne room shortly before dinner. Libby wasn't at all pleased to see Gok's guards come to the door and ask for me, as Gok's been a trying subject for her in general since I came back, but she didn't stop me from going. We both know that me talking to Gok is our ticket out of Goblinoster, and everybody here is anxious to get away.

Including my, uh, adoring band of nobles. They tried to burst in again today. And a few slid notes of appreciation under the door, begging me to 'show them the way'. Libby busted several skulls and burned all unsolicited mail. Gods I love that woman.

The throne room was much how Libby described it: surrounded by rain-soaked window-walls, filled with doo-dads from a thousand lands, capped off by a giant, spiky throne at the far end. Unlike Gok's previous interviews, though, he wasn't sitting at a table to the side. He was upright on this throne, crown on his head, glaring down at me as I shambled into his presence.

Jeffrey was scary. In a goofy, dumb-dumb kinda way. Gok… when he feels like it… Gok is terrifying. He's a freaking king when he feels like it. He might be shorter than me, but his spiritual stature, for lack of a better phrase even though that doesn't make a lick of sense, is enormous. He knows he's more important than anyone he's forced to meet, and his whole attitude reflects that belief.

All bravery expended on the events in the hole, all anger at Gok's actions towards Libby crushed by his power, I grovelled on the rug leading to his throne and begged for mercy. No shame. Back to my old self. Felt kinda nice. (His carpets are really fluffy. Serious, I could sleep on one.)

Gok scowled and ordered his guards to pull me to my feet, then he waved them away. He didn't vacate his throne, though, and he made it clear with his silence that he wouldn't allow me to sit, lay down, kneel, or otherwise prostrate myself. I might as well have been standing naked in front of him.

"Start," he began, leaning forward on his gnarled sceptre, "at the start."

King Gok strikes me as a smart guy. Conniving. Subtle. Careful. But he made a biiiiig mistake when he asked me to start at the start.

My story was a rambling mess, and I don't remember much of what I said. I'm pretty sure the 'start' for me was the day of my birth, which I admitted not remembering, and vague recollections of my parents arguing over breastfeeding techniques. Gok tried to wave me past such old and trivial details, but I stuck to my crossbows and unceasingly detailed everything of note that happened to me between ages two and twenty. It took a sceptre to the head to shut me up.

Once I'd calmed down, Gok ordered me to provide straight, succinct answers to his questions. Many of them I remember hearing the last time I visited: Who are you? What do you do? Where do you live? What is your relationship to this girl, that dude, and the other dragon? How have you come to Goblinoster? What happened to your king? What happened to your castle? What knowledge do you have of the hole beneath your castle? What happened at the bottom of that hole?

How did you die? I got that one several times before I gave Gok a straight answer. I'd tried to keep it hidden, but he got it out of me…

… and he did it through shame. Whenever he asked a question, Gok would lace it with some mild insinuation that I was a fuck-up. Somehow, the fall of Castle… um… Castle HorribleShadowBeasts sounds appropriate… anyway… the fall of the castle had been all my fault. Sometimes the implication was subtle, sometimes it was an outright accusation, but it was always there. And, fuck me, it worked - though I suspect Gok had intended to anger me into revealing the truth, rather than revelations through snivelling.

Sigh. I have no pride, diary. Y'know that? No pride at all. If I was a lion, I'd be the loneliest loner ever. Gods, that was a terrible metaphor… and joke… was it even a metaphor…?

When I reached the events of last week, Gok sat back on his throne, ordered silence, and thought for a while. I wiped the snot from my nose, the final remnant of my blubbering, and sat on the ground so I could pick fibres out of his rug. It made me feel better, both as a tiny revenge against the goblin and as a soother. Nothing more relaxing than mindless work that accomplishes nothing.

I picked at the rug for many long minutes. Longer minutes than I initially registered. Only the quiet majesty of Gok's stare, burrowing into my messy hair, brought me back to reality.

"Ye're muckin' up mah rug," he said once he had my attention, his expression unflinching.

"Oh." I wiped my nose on my shirt, gasped, and immediately stood at attention. A handful of wispy silk strands floated away from my lap. "Uh. Um. I'm, um, ah, sorry, um, your majesty, um… um…"

"Hrm." Gok looked out one of his windows, though I doubt he was staring at anything in particular. "I'll put it on yer tab. Ye can repay me someday… once ye're up 'n runnin'."

"Huh? I'm… are… are you gonna make me… run and get you a rug…?"

For the first time during our 'conversation', Gok smiled. It was small and hidden by his moustache, but it was there. "No, ye petty git. Ye've been ousted from yer kingdom, 'n ye have nowheres to go but back to your parents. I doubt that's an option, so methinks ye'd best make yer own place te live. 'n from what I hear, you're the best man for leadin' that motley bunch."

My jaw fell approximately an inch and a half. Roughly enough to fit a walnut between my teeth. Weird fact, but probably true.

"Ye look surprised." Gok hopped off his throne, waddled down the steps leading to his seat, and took off his crown, inspecting it. "Ye shouldn't. Those folks trust ye. Every time I talked to one of 'em, they showered praise on yer actions in that hole. Called ye a hero. One of 'em even said they need a leader like you. Don't think she knew that ye're a wibblin' idiot, but, heroes comes in all forms. Who better to lead the lot te fresh prosperity than the lad who died for 'em - 'n then came back, despite the odds?"

I wibbled. I didn't know it was wibbling at the time, but I looked it up later. Definite wibbling.

"Ah, shut yer gob. Gonna give me a headache." Gok forced me into a kneeling position. "Ye're as ready as I was when I became king. Hell, sounds like ye've been through more. I don't recall ever bein' killed by my daughter… 'course, I've never had daughters, so I dun fill th' prerequisites…"

"But," I protested, my bottom lip jutting out far enough that it probably looked like I'd been punched, "but but but, I'm not a leader! I'm… I'm… I ain't… I'm not… I don't know anythin' about leading people! Not a damned thing!"

"Ye don't need te. Other people c'n do that. Ye think Jeffrey had a fuckin' clue what he was doin'? Ye just need to be a symbol for yer people. They'll do all the hard stuff. Then… they'll turn ye into a king."

He placed his crown on my head. I didn't stop him, but the weight… the weight was terrible.

And wrong.

Then I remembered the dream. What I said next, what I shouldn't have said because GODSIDON'TWANNADOIT, kinda slipped out on its own, pushed by the inexorable weight of that stupid vision of me in a terrible, floppy hat, with a wooden plaque on my desk:

"Mayor," I mumbled. "It's supposed to be 'mayor'."


Dragomir the Conflicted