Chapter 15 - Eft's Tale
Elric didn’t make a move. He was still mulling over the idea that Eft was once human. Why hasn’t the goblin gotten the spell reversed? Slowly and without making a sound, Elric reached over and slowly uncorked the bottle of liqueur. Carefully he put a handkerchief on the desk near it, then waited.
“I’m sorry, it is not something I’ve thought about, but the pain is still real.” Eft said as he turned around wiping his wet eyes. He saw the bottle and the handkerchief on the desk. He grabbed the cloth and wiped his eyes.
I remember it being a warm day, it was unusual in that snow was still on the ground. The winter had been mild and we were worried it meant a drought that summer. I was in the woods looking for deer tracks to secure some food. After several hours of no tracks, I had wandered near some ancient ruins.
Surprisingly there tied to a tree near the ruins was a string of horses. Six massive stallions, covered in armored barding as if to prepare for war. The remnants of a camp fire smoldered nearby. I didn’t any trouble so I headed away from the camp, but it took me closer to the ruins.
“AAAHH!” a large man wielding a massive axe ran towards me. I stopped and stumbled backwards about the same time as he swung.
His first swing missed, but his follow-up swing would have missed me if not for my huge feet. It chopped off the tips of my toes. I screamed in pain and tried to scramble away.
“Crap this one wasn’t undead.” The large man said. I know now his name is Thrag, but then he was death incarnate to me. He turned and looked at a blue robed person in that had been behind him. I hadn’t seen the other people in the group because of the massive form of Thrag.
The robed man who’s name I won’t say due to recent information. Lets call him Mar. His robe was torn in several places and one of his arms appeared to be still dripping blood. Behind him was Katrina in her white and black robes still. Over one shoulder she was carrying one one known as Yseri, a slender half elfen woman in a dark red dress.
“Don’t kill me, you can take all that I have. Please I have a family,” I pleaded between waves of pain. They all gathered near each other to talk but didn’t lower their voices. At the time I didn’t think anything of it, but later I realized they didn’t care if I overheard.
“If we just kill him Yseri won’t know.” Mar said before anyone else had a chance to speak.
“He could know something, maybe where we could find some healing potions.” Katrina said.
“Will Yseri be ok if we don’t find a potion?” Mar said.
“She’ll live until I get my spells back tomorrow.” Katrina said.
“Lets have some fun while we’re free.” Thrag said.
Though their backs were turned I could see the smile on their faces. Slowly Mar reached into a pouch and pulled out what looked like a twisted stick. When he turned and pointed it at my, I could see it more clearly. A mummified hand and part of the arm. Even without magical sense, I could tell it was powerful. The air itself seemed to be repulsed by it.
“Lets see then if this thing works.” Mar said as he pointed the hand at me. I don’t know what he said after that, but I remember the pain. Something tore itself from my back and as I writhed on the ground I felt something sticking out from me. As I turned my head I saw leathery wings and suddenly my nose was a long snout.
The next few minutes were a blur of pain and laughing from them. Each transformation was excruciating as my body was forced to readjust itself to the whims of Mar and his friends. Through the pain and loss of blood as each form did not heal my still bleeding feet, I thankfully passed out.
I woke up to being jostled. My arms and feet were bound together behind me. I hung face down towards the passing ground as the horse I was tied to galloped across a field. The gag in my mouth prevented me from screaming but I tried anyways.
Suddenly we were in a small town, the buildings looked familiar. The horse slowed and soon I was dropped to the ground face first. My hands and feet still bound behind me. Thankfully the gag prevented me from biting my tongue but my nose was destroyed. The blood that poured out threatened to drown me as I couldn’t breath in through the gag.
“People of squallor! I bring forth a chance for you to be a hero.” Mar shouted nearby. I was able to turn my head and I could see familiar faces in the street stop and look. The revulsion and disgust made me wonder what horrible thing had been done to me.
“… Goblin. I’ll even let you go at him in up to three to one combat.” Mar finished, though I had missed a chunk of it. Thrag soon lifted me up, cut the cords binding my hands and feet, and then stuck a small sword in my hands.
“If you kill 5 of them we’ll let you live.” Thrag said softly in my ear as he helped me up.
“That pathetic thing, looks almost as scared as we are.” A strong voice called out. I recognized Margaret’s voice instantly.
I tried to cry out to her, tell her to flee but only a gnarled screech came out of my throat. I didn’t recognize my voice, my arms were green, and hands the long slender things you see today. My feet had also shrank but still I was missing my toes. Thankfully the wound had been sealed and looked like it happened months ago rather than just a few hours ago.
Mar took a step towards Margaret and pointed the hand at her. A little bolt of black crackling energy erupted from the twisted item. As she screamed, her voice changed and she shrank. Suddenly a female goblin stood in her clothing looking back at me.
“Good people, if you can defeat this goblin here,” Mar said and emphasis which goblin with a wave in my direction. “I’ll correct this lass here.” He pointed towards Margaret.
My chest filled with pride as no one stepped forward to try and kill me. The few people who had weapons had them pointed towards Mar and Thrag. A tense moment passed before someone broke the silence.
“We wont be a killin anyone. I recognize the poor creatures clothing, thats Breedeft. Now you go and change them back else I call the king’s guard.” Old man Timothy said as he stepped in front of some people. He was wearing the studded leather armor his daddy had given him. The sword in his hand was the best in the village, crafted by O’Neil the King’s Smith. Some people said it was magical and it glowed, but I know its an oil Timothy would apply to impress people.
I didn’t see Thrag throw it, but his massive axe split open Timothy’s chest, from his neck to his belly. Everyone stopped and looked at the sudden axe, including Old man Timothy. He dropped his sword and stood there gasping as everyone watched.
I hold no illusions that the villagers had a chance against these trained adventurers. The moment everyone froze, Mar started using the ancient hand on people. People all around turned into Goblins as they fell in pain to the ground. Those who were not transformed were killed swiftly by Thrag’s throwing axes.
Soon the streets were quiet but for the moans and confusing screeches of newly made goblins. A few of the stronger folk attempted to fight back in their goblin frame but they were also quickly slain. I stood with the tiny sword given to me among the blood, then ran towards Mar to kill him. Once I was five feet away, time seemed to freeze for everyone but Mar. I saw him grab Margaret and thrust her in front of my blade. When time resumed my sword skewed my wife.
I fell on top of her, both of us crying in pain. Our tears mixed with her blood as I tried to tell her sorry. Lifting myself up to try and remove the sword, a heavy boot crashed into my side.
The force of Thrag’s foot threw me easily ten feet to the side. I couldn’t see exactly what happened, but after I landed with a crash I heard a scream and a crunch from where Margaret was lying. Pushing through my pain I stagged up and saw Thrag’s foot where her head was. I tried to run towards him to avenge my wife but his axe hit me and all went dark.
“This one is still living,” a female voice called to me from the darkness.
“Its just a goblin, let him join his kind in the afterlife.” Mar’s voice said.
“It is not our place to judge who lives or dies,” the female voice said.
“Just kill me,” I said, hoping to join my wife in the afterlife. My words came out as screeches and croaks though.
“See it wants to die.” Thrag said.
“You don’t speak goblin,” Mar said.
“Oh yeah, but I’m sure that is what it said.” Thrag said.
My eyes opened to a carnage. Bodies lay on the ground everywhere. Goblin and townfolk. Suddenly I remembered my kids and I tried to sit up. It was then I realized my hands were bound again, this time in chains.
“Ah, your going to pay for your crimes beast. You and your tribe shall not go unpunished for attacking this village. Thankfully Thrag and I were nearby to stop the assault, though if only we had been here sooner.” Mar said once he saw I was awake. “The King’s justice for you beast.”
They slaughtered my village between transforming half of them into goblins. The artifact they used to change us is one of great power and we cannot remove this curse. During the attack my children were killed as they played in front of my house. Yseri denied me the chance to die and rejoin my family in the afterlife. When the King’s guard arrived, she handed me over, and told them to make sure I paid for my part in this attack.
She never tried to listen or get all the facts. She is a cleric of a good deity and has access to a translation spell, but she never even tried. She could have communed with her God and found out the truth but she didn’t try. She accepted her vile friend’s word of what happened and continued to support them.
After I escaped from the prison I was sent to, I found a tribe of Goblins. The Pierced Arm tribe of Sunken Valley. They didn’t ask questions, they accepted me into their villages. They treated me like I was family when everyone else treated me like some monster.
The real monsters were celebrated and rewarded. The real monsters deserve to suffer long and painfully for what they did.