Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Day Seven-Sixty-Six: Storytime

The Non came for us again a mere three weeks after the Dauphine left Pubton. It was a simple expeditionary force, so we managed to fight them off, but the difficulty of doing so… left us reeling. We knew, with or without Dragomir, that we were in serious trouble.

Coordinating with Bernard and Evangelina, I set about turning Pubton into a fortress. I’d missed out on much of the attack on Pubton, having been injured during the defence and bedridden, and I wanted to make up for my absence. I helped Evangelina train a fresh cadre of soldiers, turning them into the most elite force we could get, and Bernard took several key suggestions into account when building and improving the outer wall. 

The Non attacked us every few weeks, setting our improvements back each time, but we held our own - and we learned how best to psuh them back rather quickly. But they weren’t the only visitors.

I don’t know how much you’ve heard about the Indy Plains of late, but they have been virtually emptied. Every village, town, and kingdom of note has been attacked by the Non, and I would say ninety percent of them have been reduced to rubble. We have no idea what happens to the poor souls captured by the Non… though given what we know of the Non’s leader, we have our suspicions.

Not everyone is captured, however. Many folks, those either brave or cowardly enough to flee their kingdoms, started to come here. News somehow got out that we were one of the last great bastions of security in the Indy Plains, as we’d managed to drive the Non out of our territory twice. Most defenders do not get two chances for survival. In short order our population doubled, and tripled, and quadrupled. Those who came brought materials for new buildings, new sections of wall, food and supplies… and, occasionally, trouble. The troublemakers were driven out, and, for a while, we were at peace.

Then Goblinoster fell. That was four months ago.

Goblinoster was renowned as one of the other kingdoms holding strong against the Non, but not one anybody was like to visit. The goblins are well-known for their racial prejudices, and non-goblins who dare to visit typically wind up slaves. I’m not one to say much on this score, I suppose, but the way the goblins conduct themselves towards slaves… abominable. Needless to say, fleeing humans did not expect a warm reception in Goblinoster. So they came here instead.

The goblins did, too. In force.

I suspected from the start that Gok might make a play for power. He was too willing to bow and scrape when he arrived, too eager to please. I’ve only met him once before, but he immediately struck me as a shrewd politician. I did not realize that he was also a solid military commander, and that was very much to our woe, because as soon as the goblins negotiated passage into Pubton and set up their residences… they took over.

We did our best to be ready for trouble without. Indeed, we focused so much on repelling enemies from the walls that our internal security became somewhat lax. The goblins took advantage of that fact, hiding over five hundred soldiers, hunters, and combat experts among their civilians. They sneaked into key positions, and, led by Gok, they conquered Pubton in a single night. Almost seventy-five of our defenders died during the coup, and the rest were press-ganged into dangerous defensive positions. I suspect that less than half of them are still alive.

Gok wasted no time installing himself in a seat of power. He attacked and levelled my manor, leaving me for dead in the flames. He imprisoned Harold, one of the co-mayors, and used his capture to quell the rebellious attitudes of the human populace. He executed a dozen nobles who tried to speak out against him, hurling them off of his gods-be-damned tower. And, predictably, he turned everyone else living in Pubton into slaves. Only the very few goblins who’d come here before the mass exodus were spared enslavement.

He also fought Oswald, Dragomir’s father, in one-on-one combat. Gok nearly died. That man is a tough son of a bitch, I know from experience… but once he lost his left leg from the calf down, Oswald was finished. Gok’s soldiers compounded the insult by hacking off the rest of the left leg, as well as the right, and chaining Oswald in a courtyard as an example. You may have seen him? Yes? He’s difficult to miss. I don’t know how he’s still alive, really…

And that is how matters stand at the moment. The goblins own Pubton - Gok has renamed it New Gob, but I refuse to acknowledge such an ugly pairing of words - and most people living here are powerless to stop him. He can say what he likes about ‘striking back’ and ‘massive expansion’, but Gok surely knows that he’s been trapped in a corner, here… and, so, we’re all just waiting for the Non to really turn their eyes towards Pubton. Once they do, I fear we’re done for.

Finally done, Pagan stole Logan’s cup and took a swig of water. Robert tutted loudly from somewhere in the library, but otherwise did not raise a complaint.

“Okay.” Logan sat back. “Sounds… bad. I have two questions, though.”

“Fire away,” Pagan offered. He stifled a yawn.

“Gok said something that hinted at rebellion. What’s that about?”

“Ah.” Pagan smiled, though grimly. “Yes. The ‘glorious rebellion’. You’re in the company of its leader, in fact. I started it the moment Gok burned down my manor, forcing me… us… into this cellar. I had it built in anticipation of hiding from the Non, though I’d not counted on living here for four months. It’s a rather wretched space, after a while…”

“How many people?” Logan hunted around for doors leading to adjacent rooms. He didn’t see many. “And what have you been doing to bring Gok down?”

“Thirty,” Pagan said, frowning. “And admittedly not much. It’s difficult to incite terrorism with goblins lurking over your head. They’re not strong in a fair fight, but goblins never fight fair. Gok’s managed to root out five of our hiding places since our inception, killing half our original number in brutal midnight raids. He’s also executed at least two dozen supporters - or even suspected supporters - during publicized events. We’ve fought back, even managed to bring down a granary a few weeks ago, but… even if we could, we can’t do much.”

“Because of the Non,” Logan said, face grey.

“Exactly.” Pagan sighed. “We can’t compromise Pubton’s security in any substantial way, just in case the Non come back. Gok must know this, too, as I’m sure he knows our main base is here. He lets humans hold on to a shred of hope… but not too much. The little bastard has castrated us, and that’s almost worse than being outright destroyed.”

“Yeah.” Logan rested his head on his fist, thoughtful. “Okay. Second question. Evangelina?”

“Ahh. The traitor co-mayor.” Pagan leaned back in his chair, looking a thousand years old. “Yes. Evangelina jumped ship on humanity the night of Gok’s coup. We don’t have solid reports, but I’ve heard that Evangelina ambushed Harold and knocked him out. She may also have provided details on the nightly rotations of Pubton’s guards. Now she’s Gok’s personal bootlicker and eye candy, performing most of his executions.”

“Disgusting,” Logan growled. “How can she do that to people? If she was co-mayor, people must’ve trusted her…”

“She’s even more hated than Gok, these days,” Pagan admitted. “I’ve heard many reports of grumbling from the enslaved. They want her dead. Or worse.”

“You?” Logan asked.

Pagan took a moment to answer. The cloud of hate Logan expected never appeared. “No. I think she’s as much a member of our resistance as anyone living in this husk of a mansion. She probably prevented much more widespread bloodshed by helping Gok from the start, and we haven’t a clue how much good she’s done on the inside, sitting at Gok’s side. For all we know she’s saved more lives than she’s taken. No, that woman is waiting…”

“For what?”

Pagan didn’t answer. Instead, he raised his cane and tapped Logan’s chest with the tip. 

Taking a breath, Logan nodded. It seemed logical enough, assuming you ignored or downplayed the executions. Polluting an organization from the inside was always more effective than attacking it from the outside, and Evangelina could very well be stalling for time. Logan probably wouldn’t be alive now otherwise, as Evangelina had to have spared him. Still, even if that was the case, her days were numbered if New Gob ever became Pubton again. Even well-meaning traitors didn’t get off lightly in civilized company, never mind when attacked by a populace enslaved for four months.

“He is back, correct?” The steely look on Pagan’s face cracked the tiniest bit, hinting at a reservoir of misery and hope that Pagan normally hid away from the world. “This isn’t just a social call?”

Though he held certain key reservations about the man, Logan allowed himself a sly grin. “He is. And trust me, he’s pissed.”


  1. A little typo about who burned down the manor in what I think is the 18th paragraph. Not 100% sure on that, I am lazy and have had a little to drink. Sorry for the public mention, I just don't know how else to tell you, and I'm too lazy to look. Love the entry, by the way. A bit of an AFK type deal about Pubton and Pubtwon would definitely get you a sale from me.

    1. Ah, yes. Whoops. Thanks. Makes slightly more sense now.

      I've wanted to do another AFK, but I don't have enough time for side stuff anymore, sadly. Hence the lack of artwork of late. As long as I get the actual meat of the story done without much compromise, I suppose...

    2. I just thought I'd mention that I would buy, but I understand that it may very well not be worth the time on a professional/financial level for you. I believe in artists doing what allows them to live well and enjoy their work.

  2. Another typo at the end of §11 : "Only the very few GOBLINS who’d come here before the mass exodus were spared enslavement."
    Shoudn't it be "humans" instead?

    Yes, I'm late, but I had an internet crash for two weeks.

    1. No, goblins is correct. It refers to the handful of goblin refugees who showed up before the population of Goblinoster arrived. Like, five or six at most. Gok wouldn't imprison his own kind, but he would happily enslave humans, regardless of when they showed up.