After staring at
Myagnoir’s unmoving head for several long moments, Blacknail eventually worked
up the courage to go over and examine it. The beast didn’t appear to be
breathing, so he poked it in the eye with his sword. The massive mutant drake
didn’t lurch back to life and devour him in one bite. In fact, it didn’t move
at all. The beast seemed very dead.
“I killed Myagnoir!”
Blacknail announced to the world as he turned to grin at his allies. He’d done
it! He’d slain the toughest monster in the North and somehow survived!
Ilisti just nodded and
looked tired, before dropping his lance. However, Khita grinned back at him.
“We all worked together. I was fighting the entire time.”
Blacknail frowned at
her. “I got the finishing blow in though.”
“It was still a team
“That’s not what you
said after you stabbed Werrick in the back. You went around bragging about how
you killed him. You didn’t mention me or teamwork.”
“So? What are you
getting at?” the redhead asked as she scowled suspiciously at the hobgoblin.
smugly. “Myagnoir was a lot tougher than Werrick. The drake was also way more
famous and feared. It had like six names! I wonder if I’m the Doom now. That’s
how it works, right? That’s a great bandit name. You can be called the Wolf
Killing Cat or whatever, if you want.”
This led to
increasingly loud argument with Khita, but eventually Ilisti reminded the
hobgoblin that there were still things to do. Thus, Blacknail squashed the
unusual exuberance he felt after his unexpected triumph and went to yell orders
at his scattered minions. Most of the lazy fools were laying around on the
ground. They could moan and groan later.
managed to gather up his dispersed minions and reform them into something like
and organized group again. Quite a few of them were injured, which was annoying
since it reduced his manpower, but they’d brought medicine and healers along so
must of them would probably live. Hobgoblins were tough, and also easily
With Maygnoir dead at
Blacknail’s hands, Coroulis was probably empty of any more threats. Drakes were
quite territorial. Thus, Blacknail felt secure in sending his minions out to
search the ruins of the city. They needed to find the silver after all, and he
didn’t want to stay here longer than necessary. It was important to get the
silver back to the human lands quickly so that they could fight the plague and
the boggarts. If they didn’t do it, then he would have to, and he really wasn’t
looking for more work to do.
Thankfully, it only
took two hours for some lucky scouts to stumble upon a horde of silver.
Blacknail spent that time laughing at Khita and proudly posing next to
Myagnoir’s dead body.
It turned out that the
keep Myagnoir had made its lair in contained a large stockpile of silver bars
from the old mines outside Coroulis. The drake must have chosen the keep as its
lair for that reason. Apparently, even drakes loved collecting shiny stuff.
Hmm, maybe Blacknail would keep some of the shiniest bits of silver for
himself. He was sure he could find somewhere to stash them.
There was enough
silver in the keep to make transporting it all at once impossible, and there
was undoubtedly much more stashed around the city. Coroulis had been famous for
its iron and silver mines after all. Getting the silver south would be the hard
part, but even that was manageable. The human nobles were already throwing
resources at the problem. Roads could be rebuilt and barges could carry silver
Even if they did
somehow run out of loose silver, the mines were still there. It should be easy
enough for Blacknail to re-open them, although that would require a more
permanent presence. Hmmm, that wouldn’t be a terrible idea. Having conquered
Coroulis by defeating its old ruler in a legendary battle to the death,
Blacknail didn’t really plan on giving the city up. Coroulis was his now.
Yes, it was going to take a while for them to gather up all the silver and
transport it south, and the city was far too important to leave unguarded, so
he’d need to leave a large force here anyway. Otherwise, some stupid human
noble might try and seize it.
Hmm, it wasn’t like he
was going to be short on minions any time soon. Most of his local enemies were
dead, and more and more goblins and hobgoblins kept appearing to take his food.
Coroulis was as good a place for them to live as any now that Myagnoir was
dead. The place had a lot of… space and materials laying around. It had also
been Saeter’s old home, so he’d probably have liked it to be rebuilt. Maybe
he’d rename the place Saeterville or Saeterhome.
Regardless of his
long-term plans, the next thing Blacknail had to do was lead his minions back
south with as much silver as they could carry. All the dead humans and left
behind a quite a few horses, and the hobs had brought some boars to carry their
own supplies, so they should able to move a fair amount of silver in the first
As Blacknail was
getting the silver loaded up and everyone ready to move, Khita walked up beside
him. “I wonder if Gob has sent Werrick’s remaining men fleeing for their lives
yet. I want a chance to go at them and see them flee before me, but we’ll
probably be too late. All of the Wolf’s camps and towns will probably fall
before we get back. Without Werrick, I doubt they have much steel in their
replied vaguely. It was usually best not to think too much about what Khita
“I suppose that means
we’ve conquered the North. No one will dare fight us now. You’ve got your
hobgoblin armies and I’m an invincible swordswoman.”
What? Blacknail gave
her an incredulous look. That was a very ridiculous thing to say, even or her.
He’d conquered the North, not her. Also, she was an average swordsman at
“So, what are we going
to do next?” Khita asked. “I know you. You’ve always got a scheme!”
“I would be curious to
hear of this as well,” Ilisti announced as he walked over to join them. “You
are now both my neighbor and the most powerful lord in all the nearby lands.
You’ve accomplished this with no small amount of cunning and daring, so what is
it you now seek?”
Blacknail shrugged. It
was true. Soon, all the north would be his. He wasn’t quite sure what he was
going to do with it, but whatever. He’d put too much effort into conquering it
and killed far too many people to worry about that now. “Once I’m done getting
rid of all the bandits that refuse to swear to me, I’m going to take a really
long nap in my mansion.”
replied as she stuck out her tongue.
“That seems unwise.
What of the boggarts? They remain a threat, even in the northern lands that you
claim,” the vympir pointed out.
Blacknail stifled a
groan. This was by far his least favorite part of leadership, the
responsibility. He hated that. Come to think of it, he’d never really planned
to conquer the North because he actually wanted to run it. He’d simply fought
to prevent Werrick from taking it over. Also, it was just sort of there.
Someone had to control it, and why shouldn’t all the North be his territory? He
was the best leader and fighter in or out of the Green after all. Couldn’t he
just delegate everything and relax in his mansion all the time? That’s how
leadership was supposed to work.
“I’ll send hunters out
to kill the boggarts in my lands and destroy any nest I find, but I don’t think
they’ll be too eager to fight me. It’s humans they hate, and I’ve bloodied them
every time we’ve met,” the hobgoblin explained.
“And what about the
South? If the boggarts do consume those lands, they will inevitably move
“I plan on letting the
humans fight the boggarts as much as possible. They should be grateful for all
the effort I’ve put into getting them silver,” Blacknail said before grunting
sourly. “Not to mention, fighting Myagnoir for them.”
Ilisti frowned. “I
don’t think most nobles have such gratitude in them. The position breeds a
“Damned blue bloods,”
“They’ll smile and be grateful
if they know what’s good for them. Otherwise, they won’t be getting any
silver,” Blacknail remarked coldly. “Besides, it’s not like I won’t have lots
to do here in the North. I need to deal with all the refugees and keep my hobs
out of trouble, which will mean making sure they have food and shelter. I also
need to watch Coroulis and guard the silver here, and that means I need to keep
repairing all the roads since I’m moving so many troops and supplies around. I
also need to deal with all the territory Gob will have taken over and the
humans who live there.”
Ilisti nodded. “I see.
You do have a point. Perhaps it is best not to overextend. It’s is good that
you are taking your duties to your vassals seriously. I had been afraid you’d
let things devolve into chaos, when a true lord needs a firm hand. Personally,
I don’t plan on straying from my own city of Herscrest for some time after I
return. I too have many responsibilities there.”
The vympir then
excused himself and went to take care of his remaining men. Blacknail watched
him leave with a frown. Ugh, there was that word again, responsibility. He’d
had way too much of that when he’d just been in charge of one hobgoblin city,
now he was supposed to look after all of the North. Hmm, if he ran off into the
forest and headed north toward the Iron Teeth it was unlikely that anyone would
be able to catch him and drag him back. He could find some goblins living on
the other side of the mountains and train them to be his perfect servants.
Then, he’d have no responsibilities whatsoever. It was tempting, but he’d run
out of cheese pretty quickly though…
There was also a
little voice in his head that kept reminding him that vengeance wasn’t what
Saeter would have really wanted from Blacknail. Herad would be quite happy
about that, but not Saeter. The old ranger had wanted a united and prosperous
North, and now Blacknail had united the North.
“Rat piss,” Blacknail
swore. He couldn’t just destroy his old master’s dream. Without him around, the
North would swiftly fall apart and become worse than ever. It needed an amazing
and super intelligent leader like him. The burden of being so incredible at
everything was heavy indeed.
There was cough from
Khita, reminding Blacknail that she was still standing beside him. “I’ve been
thinking. If you’re not going to do anything exciting for a while, then maybe I
should go south and help fight the boggarts. I have my own men, and I’m sure
some of your hobs would go with me. The kingdoms would probably pay us quite
well. And it would be a great way to spread the legend of the Red Cat!”
Blacknail eyed her.
Was it possible she might finally leave him alone? “You should probably do that
then. I’ll let you have as many hobs as you want.”
No matter what
happened, Khita’s plan seemed like a win for him, especially if she never came
back. Although… maybe he should send someone competent with her, so that she
didn’t get into too much trouble. Ralphi had used to be soldier, so he was
probably a good pick.
“Thanks. With a force
of hobgoblins behind me, I’ll be queen of the world in no time!”
Blacknail rolled his
eyes but decided against making any comment about that. There was no point.
More likely she’d trip over her own feet, break her neck, and end up dead in
“Why don’t you go
check on the prisoners. I’m putting you in charge of them.”
“Good idea!” Khita
replied before hurrying away.
after her. He’d known she couldn’t resist the opportunity to brag and lord over
some humans who couldn’t escape.
Soon, the remains of
Sir Masnin’s expedition and the secret force of hobs that Blacknail had brought
had loaded up on silver and were ready to move. They headed out through the
crumbling gates of Coroulis’ walls and back out into the Green. The forest loomed
around them, thick and full of the sounds of life.
Blacknail led the way.
He wanted to set an example, and the front was the best place for the leader.
Behind him came a mob of hobgoblins. Led by Herah and Scamp, they were
escorting several large bristleback boars that had been loaded with gear and
silver. The pigs snorted loudly as they lumbered forward, but generally acted
much better behaved than Blacknail remembered them being. The training must
have worked. He hadn’t seen them maul a single person yet.
Imp and his disciples
were among the hobgoblins. The mage was toying with one of the fire staffs
they’d looted from the human mages. He hadn’t stopped messing with the weapon
since he’d gotten his hand on it. Apparently, he was learning a lot and couldn’t
wait to try to replicate the magical weapons. He’d also assured Blacknail that
the staff was unlikely to explode, although Blacknail wasn’t quite so certain
of that. That was the other reason he was all the way up at the front.
The human prisoners
came next, with Khita swaggering alongside them, a smug grin on her face. Only
the most injured of the prisoners were riding. The rest of them were forced to
walk as their horses had been used to carry cargo. There were also quite a few
horses taken from slain knights. Holding up the back was Ilisti and his men.
The vympir seemed to prefer that position.
Blacknail saw that almost no one behind him seemed happy to enter the forest
and began hiking. Sour looks decorated many faces. many of them were exhausted
after the fighting and there was no shortage of wounded. Nonetheless, they had
a long journey ahead of them before they reached civilization, and they were
going to have to push their pace if they wanted their cargo to make a
difference in the fight against the plague. At least, they were unlikely to run
into any hostile mutants on the way back, since it seemed like they’d already
stumbled into all of them on the way here.
A flicker a movement
off in some trees to the side caught Blacknail’s eye. Upon glancing at the
source of the movement, Blacknail was reminded that there was one mutant still
around, even if it was only mildly hostile. It was the goat.
resignation, Blacknail produced a piece of cheese and held it out. Seeing this,
the goat ambled out of the bushes and walked over to the hobgoblin’s side. It
eyed him skeptically for a moment and then snatched the cheese from his hand.
Chewing on the snack, it matched Blacknail’s pace and walked beside him.
considered trying to kill the beast now that it seemed to have finally dropped
its guard, but quickly discarded that idea. The goat was probably trying to
trick him, and it had its uses anyway. It had – accidentally – saved him from
Werrick after all. During that escape, the hobgoblin had managed to ride the
beast for a short while, which meant he could probably tame it. It would make a
great mount for someone as famous and amazing as him. He was the ruler of the
North now, so couldn’t walk everywhere, not with all those fancy humans riding
around and looking down on him. Also, there was no doubt that a mutant goat
would be a much more regal and inspiring mount than a mere smelly horse. Ha,
all the fancy noble humans would be insanely jealous of his goat.
Yes, Blacknail would
just keep feeding the beast cheese as they made their way back south. Before
too long it would grow used to him and he could try jumping on its back again.
Having a mount would definitely help him fight other mounted foes, such as
Hmm, it was hard to
remember that Werrick was actually dead. The man had been Blacknail’s obsession
for a longtime now. He was used to hating the man with an intense burning
passion and plotting his terrible vengeance. Now how was he going to spend his
Regardless of all his
victories and ambitions, Werrick had managed to get himself killed by some
crazy street rat that should have died a long time ago. Blakcnail couldn’t
imagine anything more embarrassing than dying by Khita’s hands. It served him
right, although it also should have been far more painful.
Well, taking Werrick’s
skull as a decoration would certainly help him remember that he was dead. Right
now, the man’s bloody head was wrapped up in sack, but where should he keep the
skull when he got back? It would be a waste to simply stick it on a stake. He
should put it in his throne room! He didn’t have a throne yet, but with Werrick
dead, he was basically the king of the North, so he certainly deserved a
throne. How did you make one though? Did he need to kidnap a certain kind of
Bleh, he was already
running into problems. Being king seemed like it was going to be a lot of work
and very annoying. At least he could still have fun messing with all his
minions and the humans. It would be amusing to make them do silly stuff for him
in exchange for silver and gold rocks, and it had been a while since he’d last
worked on perfecting his human trap…