Will of Iron 7

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Will of Iron 6

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The gathered horde of hobgoblins and goblins continued to feast until the last bit of food was gone. Too stuffed to move, most of them sat around the bonfires and relaxed. The scratchy sound of goblin conversation could be heard over the low sound of the drums, and a few hobgoblins even began singing. Acting swiftly, Blacknail used a club and excessive levels of violence to stomp it out before it started. He didn’t want to listen to that. Hobgoblin throats were not made for singing.

Once everyone had been given some time to digest their meals, Blacknail announced the next event. The night wasn’t over yet. Not even close. Now, Blacknail would be publicly testing the first few hobgoblins that wanted warrior marks. As everyone watched, an area next to the bonfires was quickly cleared of goblins and a circle was drawn in the dirt around it.

When the ring was complete, Blacknail and one of Gob’s minions entered the circle. Both of them wore leather armor and were holding blunt short swords. Blacknail was planning on putting on a show, so that everyone was reminded about how awesome he was. The test itself was simple. The applicant would duel the examiner and try impress him with his sword skills. Once the duel was over, the examiner would decide if he passed or failed. Harming the examiner was forbidden, but Blacknail had taken a swig of Elixir just in case. You couldn’t be too careful around hobgoblins, and it was more than possible for them to be dangerous because of stupidity or incompetence rather than malice.

Raising his blade, Blacknail smiled at his opponent. The hobgoblin seemed nervous and unsure of himself so Blacknail took the initiative and attacked first. He opened with a few easy and controlled swings that forced the hobgoblin to concentrate and dodge. After several of his blows were blocked, Blacknail increased the speed and power of his attacks. However, the hobgoblin was able to block or dodge them all using the basic sword techniques he’d been taught.

“To pass you need to attack me,” Blacknail said as he advanced.

The hobgoblin grimaced but moved forward to meet Blacknail, and after dodging his chieftain’s next attack, he slashed at Blacknail’s arm. Blacknail easily stepped out of the way of the attack and countered by extending a leg and tripping his off-balance minion. The surprised hobgoblin stumbled and Blacknail easily tapped his back with the tip of his blade.

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Will of Iron 5

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After making plans with Gob, Blacknail began gathering up all the tools he would need to begin building a road through the Green. After that, he spent the rest of the day selecting hobgoblins to lead work crews and threatening to gut them like fish if they didn’t have their crews assembled tomorrow at dawn. Then, he went to bed. Screaming and growling menacingly at people was hard work.

The next morning, when the yellow orb of the sun began to peek above the horizon, Blacknail had breakfast while all the work crews hurriedly assembled themselves outside his home. It was a great display of how amazing and inspiring his leadership skills were. Had there ever been a better leader than him? Undoubtedly not. He was unprecedented.

When Blacknail finished eating and headed out to begin working on the road to Shelter, he brought along a large mob that was a mix of hobgoblins, goblins, and boars. They crossed the cleared fields and swiftly reached the trees. There, the goblins cleared bushes and moved debris, while the hobgoblins used steel-headed axes from Herstcrest to chop down trees. The boars were mostly used to drag or move the trees once they had fallen. It was slow going and very loud. The repetitive sound of axes splintering wood filled the air while goblins screamed at each other.

The idea was to create a road that a wagon could travel across easily. Blacknail also wanted to clear the area around the road of all the brush and cover that could be used by predators to ambush travellers. That meant the ground had to be flattened and the trees to either side of it had to be cut down.

As Blacknail watched from a safe distance, there was an ear-splitting crash as a tree hit the ground. As soon as the ground stopped shaking, a swarm of goblins and hobgoblins ran over and began to disassemble it. Branches were hacked off and boars were tied in place so they could begin dragging the tree out of the way. Teams of goblins began digging up the stump, while goblin overseers with spears kept watch to make sure none of their kin tried to leave or slack off. Moving the fallen trees took a lot of muscle power, but Blacknail had a lot of goblins. With some rope, and a lot of pointed encouragement and supervision, it was entirely possible for them to pull the logs.

All this activity made Blacknail feel proud. Miraculously, it was happening with very little intervention from him. He simply pointed the lead hobgoblins in the right direction, and they kept the others in line. There was a pyramid of authority and Blacknail only had to worry about punishing the people at the top of it if there were any screw ups. That meant he didn’t personally have to deal with all the stupid and disorderly goblins at the bottom of the pyramid. 

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Will of Iron 4

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It took a few hours for the humans from Shelter to arrive at the goblin settlement. However, all the people Blacknail had been hoping to see were there. Escorted by his minions, the large group of people walked through the front gate and into the settlement. The mix of villagers and former bandits numbered over forty. Tannin was there, alongside Geralhd, Khita, Avorlus, and Beardy.

With a friendly grin on his face, Blacknail walked over to them and gestured at his surroundings with wide open arms. “Welcome to my camp! It’s not much, but the walls keep the wind and animals away.”

It was Tannin that stepped forward. The older man with a thick grey beard gave the hobgoblin an appraising look for a second before nodding politely. “Thank you for having us. I hear you’ve got a proper mess of interesting things that you want to show off.”

“Yep. You’ll be very impressed. I’m pretty amazing,” Blacknail responded cheerfully.

The crowd of humans promptly followed Blacknail over to Ferrar’s workshop. The hobgoblin had just finished opening up the furnace and extracting the refined iron a few hours ago. Still excited, Ferrar directed their gazes toward where two chunks of ore were cooling on a rock off to one side. Blacknail didn’t find them all that interesting, but the blacksmith Tannin had brought along seemed impressed.

“These nuggets of pig iron look like they’ve been made properly,” he observed. “I can see that the slag has been melted out of them. Yes, I can work ore of this quality into proper wrought iron that we can use.”

Blacknail sighed. Even after going through the furnace and cooling down the metal Ferrar had refined was next to useless. Apparently, it needed to be heated up again in a different furnace and hammered. It was a good thing Ferrar was so obsessed with this stuff. It was far too complex and tedious for Blacknail to figure out.   

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Will of Iron 3

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Once the travelers descended down the hill and entered the goblin settlement below, Ferrar didn’t waste any time. He immediately dragged the craftsman toward his workshop, and soon they were both out of sight. Blacknail had his own business to get down to, so he headed off in a different direction.

As was usual, it didn’t take him long to track down his target, Gob. As Blacknail’s second in command, he had been left in charge during Blacknail’s absence and would be able to update his boss about what had happened while he was gone.

Gob was standing in the empty patch of land in the middle of the settlement, and he wasn’t alone. He was surrounded by over two dozen other hobgoblins. It looked like they were doing training. Some of them were just watching, but most of the hobgoblins were sparring with wooden blades made from carved branches. Rather than hard combat, the training seemed to be more about self-control and form. None of the hobgoblins were going all out, and Gob was watching them carefully just in case. He wandered among the sparring hobgoblins while occasionally giving out advice and orders.

Blacknail nodded in approval. Discipline was more important than skill. Without the ability to control and suppress their emotions a hobgoblin was more of a liability than a useful tool.

Seeing Blacknail walking his way, Gob stopped what he was doing and hurried over to meet his boss. Their chief’s presence also drew the attention of many of the other hobgoblins. They glanced his way and more than a few of them began to pretend to work harder. Once he reached Blacknail’s side, Gob immediately gave him a quick salute.

“Welcome back, bossiest one! As always, I’m ready to obey your every command.”

Blacknail grimaced. “That’s not a compliment. Being bossy is a bad thing.”

Gob flinched. “Sorry, greatest of hobgoblins! I meant no offense.”

“Just don’t do it again,” Blacknail replied. He knew Gob had misspoken. Gob wouldn’t dare insult him, especially to his face.

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