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


  1. Mayor is the best job in the world because you don't have any power or responsibility whatsoever. You basically just hang around collecting paychecks.

    I wish I was a mayor.

    1. I wish Adam West was my mayor...

      But then again this is a site based around our...hero? Dragomir the Mayor, so I guess he'll do...maybe...

      Though if we're lucky, he will of course...not run his town into the "Hole in the ground caused by malicious misdeeds and diabolical plotting"...or "HITGCBMMADP" for short.

  2. I vote for Castle Death Hole...