Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Goblin Gate

The Goblin Gate 

Let me tell you a story.

It is a story with a beginning that has been lost to the mists of time; it is a story of a long desired and dreamed of vengeance; it is the story of a world that was finally reclaimed.  And we join it near to its end…

 *      *     * 

“You claim to have found a way to unseal the Great Gate,” said the warlock, his yellow eyes glittering in the candlelight, “A puzzle that my brethren have battled against for many centuries. You will forgive me if I appear sceptical.”

“I understand, of course,” said Urk-Meth, the Goblin Prince, supplicating himself at the feet of the Crimson Throne. “We are, of course, but humble Goblins; we know that we are not fit to kiss the feet of those such as you. However, you must know that we Goblins have our own special magicks, and we have delved deep into those magicks to find you an answer, to the find the answer most wanted by your Majesty.”

The huge troll standing at the Warlock’s side snorted derisively, his chainmail jangling, and hefted his battle hammer. “Shall I throw this little snot out?”

“Wait, Grax” said the Warlock, holding up a bony white hand. “We will hear him out. “

“Thank you, your Majesty,” said Urk-Meth, bowing even lower, “The depths of your generosity and wisdom and are not in any way exaggerated.”

“My patience is limited,” said the Warlock, “you will explain. If I am satisfied with your explanation, you will be rewarded. If I am unsatisfied…” he let the words trail off.

“Your Majesty, when the Great Gate was sealed and the World of Man was lost to us, it was said that no force could shatter the lock.”

“I am aware of the prophecies,” said the Warlock, “and I am aware of the efforts we have made to prove them false. We have rained all manner of magicks down upon the lock in the last Age; every Warlock and Witch that has lived has tested their strength against that of the Great Gate and they have all been found wanting.”

“Your Majesty, we are Goblins. We are not creatures of strength, which is why we are the lowest of the low and why it is such an honour to be the first Goblin Prince to be allowed an audience with his Majesty in the last two centuries.” Grax laughed uproariously when Urk-Meth referred to himself as a Prince, but he ignored him and continued. “But what we are is creatures of stealth, creatures of cunning. “

“Creatures that crawl in the dirt.” spat Grax.

“Yes,” nodded Urk-Merth, “We are creatures of the dirt but it is in our cunning that we have learned how to unseal the Great Gate; for the prophecy is true – no force may shatter the lock. But we have not shattered it. We have picked it.”

“Go on,” said the Warlock, sitting forward in his seat.

“It took the blood and the lifeforce of a thousand Goblins, but we have fashioned a skeleton key that I can use to open the Great Gate and give you entry again to the World of Man.”

“How can you be so sure?” asked the Warlock, his eyes narrowing.

“Because I have been there,” said Urk-Meth, standing for the first time. “I have walked among the forests of Man and I have watched and I have learned.”

“He lies,” spat Grax, “He is a filthy lying Goblin.”

“I promise you, your Majesty, I am not lying.” said Urk-Meth and dug into the pocket of his jacket, bringing out a white rose. “And I bring you a gift from the World of Man.”

The Warlock took it, turning it in his fingers so that the petals were illuminated by the soft light of the candles. It had been more than an Age since a flower had been seen in this world, more than an Age since the beauty of nature had been gazed upon. The Warlock closed his fist tight upon the rose, crushing the petals in the palm of his hand before letting them fall to the floor.

“The time is finally here,” he said, sharp teeth exposed by his smile, “The day we have waited for ever since we were cast out; the day when we can finally exact our revenge upon all of Mankind. Summon the armies!”

 *      *     * 

It took three days and three nights for the Army of Darkness to be fully drawn together; a legion of evil the likes of which had not been seen by the World of Man for more than a thousand years. At the front line were the Trolls; ten feet tall , decked out in plate armour and armed with battle hammers, axes and pikes; they snarled and roared as they waited for the Great Gate to open. Behind them were the Skinshifters and Wraiths, obsidian blades at the ready, while behind them were the Centaurs and the Satyrs, the Vampires and the Witches. Overhead, Fire Wyrms swooped back and forth above the massed ranks, their howls and screeches filling the air as they unfurled their wings and bared their sharp talons. And at the back of the many thousands, borne on the back of a nightmare black as midnight itself, was the Warlock dressed in his finest battle armour.

Urk-Meth stood at the very front of the great Army, the clamouring hordes to his back, and drew a complicated spiral on the ground at his feet. Then he took a glass vial and poured its contents into the dirt. Black Goblin blood swirled around the spiral and the ground beneath his feet began to shake. In front of him, a huge portal with shimmering edges began to open to reveal a yellowed landscape beyond.

“Today,” shouted the Warlock, his voice so loud that all could hear it. “We take back what was once ours. Today we will fall upon the World of Man like a plague and we will ravage it until we have slaughtered all who dare stand before us. This a world that has forgotten magick, that has forgotten the darkness; this is a world that is ripe for the taking. Prepare yourselves for glory!

Urk-Meth darted to one side, dodging the trampling feet of thousands of Trolls as they poured through the portal, ready to taste the blood of Man for the first time in an Age…

 *      *     * 

The hordes of Trolls were the first to emerge from the Portal, charging out onto the hot sands with Grax at their head they immediately spotted a group of men in beige clothes in the distance. Blood hot with the thrill of battle, they roared their battle cries and began their charge towards the men while, behind them, the Army of Darkness continued to pour forth from the portal in a seemingly endless stream and the first of the Fire Wyrms swooped menacingly through into the air of a new world.

The first line of Trolls made it no more than fifty yards before they were scythed down by some kind of invisible magic but the momentum of the forces behind them was too great and the Army continued to surge forwards, trampling over their twitching corpses as they did so. And so, it was only when a series of huge fireballs erupted within the midst of their ranks that their battle frenzy finally began to desert them. When the first of the Fyre Wyrms, eviscerated and bloody, tumbled from the sky and crushed more than a hundred Wraiths and Skinshifters below it, that frenzy was replaced by confusion. Hasty defensive magicks cast by the Witches in their ranks did little to halt the slaughter as death and destruction continued to rain down mercilessly upon the Army of Darkness.

The Warlock, last through the portal astride his great black steed, looked out across the flaming death that was being wrought upon his troops, watched as great steel birds swooped across the width of his Army and cut through Trolls and Satyrs, Vampires and Centaurs, as if they were nothing. And he realised in that moment that the world of Man they had come to conquer was not the world of Man that they had been banished from.  There was to be no victory for him today; his Army was being utterly obliterated.

He pulled on the reins of his nightmare and wheeled about, realising that all that was left for him now was to save his life and turn and flee back to his own world. But, even as he did so, he saw that the portal was rapidly closing behind him and the last thing he saw of his world was the Goblin Prince grinning at him before the Warlock was left to face the wrath of Man.

 *      *     * 

Records show that the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit were on a routine deployment in the Persian Gulf when the Anomaly Event occurred less than ten miles from their position. A forward patrol unit of two Humvees first encountered the Anomaly Forces and, briefly engaged them, before radioing for artillery and air support.

A combination of air strikes by Harrier AV-8B jets, ably supported by a contingent of A-10 Warthog close air support craft, served to stem the movement of the Anomaly Forces and a sweeping up operation conducted using M777 howitzers and M82 mortars ensured that the Anomaly Forces were reduced to less than 5% of their original strength. The surviving members of the Anomaly Forces were captured by marine forces backed by LAV-25 armoured vehicles and are now being interrogated as enemy combatants in a number of facilities around the world.

Scientists continue to try to understand the Anomaly Event but, thus far, have been unable to establish a cause.

 *      *     * 

And that, you see, is the end of the story. The story of how the Goblin people, who had been so sorely oppressed and who had suffered so much, managed to finally exact their revenge upon those who treated them as nothing. The story of how a world was reclaimed.

I knew that the Warlock would never have given a second thought to the fact that the world of Man might have moved on. I knew that he would never guess that I, Urk-Meth – a mere Goblin Prince – would harbour dreams of betraying him utterly and sending him into a battle that he could never hope to win. He underestimated the world of Man and he sorely underestimated me.

And now, I think I’ll go back to tending my new rose garden. It really is lovely.

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