The Silver Tower Chronicles Adventures in other worlds, other times, and other realities

8Jan/14Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0080

Ranum shook his head at the reports of what happened at the southern front. He had expected the dragon to fall, but the defeat that was handed to the goblinoids was just humiliating. A great many of the goblinoids now looked to Ranum for guidance. The wise elderly goblin had correctly predicted how the war would end. His actions to hold back as much of the army as possible had saved a healthy portion of the goblinoid forces from a terrible death.

If all the forces had gathered, perhaps they could have badly hurt the human forces, but the end result would have been the same. Even then, by the end of it all, the goblinoids would have been hurt far worse than the humans. With Ranum's actions, the goblinoids had taken a terrible blow, but within a few years they would be able to recover fully. With the aid of a few artifacts, they would have a mighty army. It would be one that the humans would not expect.

After the defeat the goblinoids had been handed, the humans would expect that the goblinoids would not be seen again anytime soon. The surprise of a new war soon after the last would catch the humans off guard. The display of power from ancient artifacts would further confuse the humans. Ranum expected to win easily at first thanks to surprise and an unusual direction of attack. Then the goblinoids would consolidate in their new home, a place that was not a foul mire. They would have fresh air, good food, and be safer from strange predators.

Ranum had a vision of a goblinoid utopia. It would not be easy. The elderly wizard did not expect he would live to see it to fruition. He did know that in the end, the humans would have to be completely destroyed. In Ranum's eyes, the xenophobia and greed of the humans meant that they would never accept any other race as equals. They had proven poor rulers of the world, slaughtering all that were not like them. Certainly the goblinoids had made slaves of the humans, but they had not capriciously slaughtered them like vermin.

The wizard touched the scars on his body. They were scars that the humans had given him. Many of his family and friends had been slaughtered for doing nothing more than existing. Ranum knew he might not live to see much of it, but he was certain that he would live to see the beginning of his revenge. The humans would pay for driving the goblinoids into the marshes. They would pay for thinking of them as unworthy of life. Most importantly, they would pay for hurting him.

***

The scaled foot hit the ground with a loud thud. Several of the lizardfolk warriors quickly reacted, coming with weapons ready at the arrival of a stranger. However, all of them backed off. The visitor was one of the Naxaeless, though not one of their tribe. Normally that would not stop hostilities, but this was a female. They were the leaders of the race and no male warrior would dare raise their weapons toward one. It was a death sentence to attempt to fight a female.

They were larger, stronger, faster, and smarter. This female was odd in many ways. She was not wearing the armor and arms of a warrior. That did not lessen her imposing presence in any way. She looked at the male warriors around her and growled. The smaller Naxaeless backed off quickly. The males did not know what to do. They had an intruder but could not dare attack. The female sighed, wishing that the tribe she had entered had smarter members.

“Where is your female?” the intruder growled in the Draconic language.

The language was the tongue of the dragons. Many of the Naxaeless had worshiped the ancient creatures despite the fact that none had been seen active since centuries before their civilization had even begun. The language had spread and was used by all the Naxaeless, even the ones that did not worship the dragons. The fact that an egg had been stolen, hatched, and slain by humans gave more fuel in a fight of whether worship was right or not.

It was proof of the existence of dragons, but also proof of mortality. If your deity was so weak as to be slain so easily by mortals, was it truly worthy or worship? Questions on faith had erupted. The dragon worshipers had long been a dominant force among the Naxaeless, but now other voices had begun to speak and be heard. The ill advised war against the humans and their allies had severely reduced the numbers of the lizardfolk. Many had begun calls for another way.

The female of the tribe finally came to see what the ruckus was, “What is going on here?”

The intruder spoke, “I am called Slass. I have come to speak of the war.”

The tribe leader looked at Slass. Slass was an impressive specimen of the Naxaeless, standing just an inch under seven feet tall. This would be a powerful warrior to add to the war. The tribe leader hoped it was another come to slake their blood lust, although she worried that this Slass was here to challenge for leadership of the tribe. The tribe leader was an experienced warrior, but she was not sure if she was an equal to this new female. Slass nearly radiated power.

“The Naxaeless have come to a crossroads. Some wish for war, some wish for peace and an end to fighting. For many generations, we have hunted and fought, ignoring those who wished for peace. Now our numbers grow thin. In order to survive, we must adapt.”

The tribe leader sneered, “We will not end our fight. We will slay those who dared to steal and egg and slay a child of the great dragon.”

Slass did not react to the tone and sneer of the tribe leader, “Then you will continue to fight. What we propose is simple. An alliance of all the remaining tribes in a great project. To your war we will send all our children with a lust for violence. Those among your tribe that have no thirst for blood will come to our new tribe of peace. It will provide you with warriors. For the rest, it will provide a growing tribe that will live on despite how the war may turn.”

“While having more warriors is nice, what of the other tribes?”

“Some wish for peace, some for war. I can put you in contact with the other warrior tribes. You can coordinate or not, whatever you wish. I merely wish to preserve our species. Those without a love of combat are of little use to you. Those who wish to kill are of little use to peace. It seems to work to both our benefits.”

“While I would prefer all the warriors I can get, regardless of skill, I can see your point. If revenge ends my tribe, then it would be good for us to continue regardless.”

“Then we have an agreement?”

“I see no reason good enough not to. Let us go to my tent. We can work out any details away from the sniveling masses.”

The tribal leader's disregard for her people made Slass sad. It was one reason why she hoped she could save a few of those with the temperament needed to live in peace and harmony with the world around them. The number who favored peace had always been large, but their voice had been lost beneath the savagery of a few. The most vicious females had dominated many tribes and brought them under their leadership. Slass could not claim to be an exception, her hands were covered with the blood of the innocent.

Now she had the chance to make amends for her past sins. She would lead a great tribe of the Naxaeless. It would be a tribe dedicated to nature. They would revere the world around them and all the life within. Such a thing might have horrified Slass' mother, but her mother's proudest day had been when she was murdered by her own daughter. That death had put the tribe in Slass' scaly hands. It was not the last of her own kind that Slass had murdered. Yet now she would murder no more. Now she would only make new life and nurture it.

***

The thump of wood and metal hit the stone floor, followed by the thud of a heavy boot. These oddly paired sounds continued until the one making them paused at their throne. The wood and metal thump came from the prosthetic leg that the creature wore. It sat in the mighty throne. The throne was carved from obsidian and fitted with precious jewels. The finest gold and silver were used as trim and in designs on the surface. It was a work of art that was beyond the skill of any human hand.

Another creature came and spoke in the tongue of the Halz, “Welcome to the throne, oh great king of the Halz. The times have been rough and we have been in need of guidance. Once your father took sick, we worried since you had not returned from your travels.”

The one legged Halz on the throne nodded, “I am sorry that I left. I learned much upon the surface, but none of it good.”

“Yes, they should pay for the loss of your leg, my liege.”

“No, that wound is a reminder of a great battle with noble allies. They were proof that nobility exists outside of our people, but not in the humans. I would not dishonor them to forget their sacrifice in that final battle.”

“What happened up there?”

“We fought a monster out of the myths and legends of old. It would have made an epic tale of heroism like any old tale of our great heroes. The ending was one of betrayal and murder, however. The monster had slain one of us and wounded me. The third of our team stood victorious. We had given her the opening she needed to give the monster a final blow.”

The king sighed, “But victory was short-lived. The humans came to the field of victory. They killed the victor in cold blood. None would stand up for her. If the Nuvroci had not stood up for me, I am sure I would have been slain as well. Even they would not stand up for the mighty Eurysa. It showed that even their supposed nobility is only a self serving deference to our kind for all that we have done and still may do for them.”

“As you say my lord.”

“Even the one human I thought might prove the humans had some shred of dignity proved only to have a use for nobility as long as it served his purpose. It led to the death of another warrior. We will remember the deaths of Aldebaran, Eurysa, and Kava even though the world above will never even know they existed. I once thought as many of the Earthbreakers did. I thought we might find allies above ground. I thought we might find answers to our problems that we were too short-sighted to see. Now I see that we are alone. What few allies we might find will only be slain by the humans. Some day they will come for us when they have run out of room above the ground.”

“My liege, should we prepare for war?”

“War is coming. That much is certain. We must ready ourselves. It may not be for many years, but we are patient. The humans may forget many things, but when they come for us, we will make sure they never forget the Halz. Fire up the forges. Train the warriors. Send word to the other surviving clans. Tell them that King Ritter Platinum has seen that war is coming. We will make a stand like none on Doulairen have seen before, and we will be remembered. We may die, but we will be immortal.”

The End

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