Unexpected Altruism

Let me tell you a short tale of a goblin wrestler who went against all expectations and surprised an entire fortress. The fortress of Rockanus had three beginnings. The first beginning was the original expedition, which survived five years until their demise came from within, when two members of the infantile military went berserk for unknown reasons and painted the deeps of the fortress with the blood of their fellow dwarfs before they threw themselves into an abyss the miners had revealed earlier on.

The second beginning was when another expedition reclaimed the lost fortress, taking over operations and getting things running once more. This expedition unfortunately befell a terrible fate like its first, and I was beginning to believe Rockanus was cursed. This expedition had only lasted two years before a large goblin ambush appeared suddenly, right on top of Rockanus’ main entrance. The goblins were merciless – everyone was slaughtered. My dwarfs ran for cover in the deeps of the fortress but they were all hunted down and butchered. Rockanus had fallen once more.

Soon though, as if Rockanus itself craved more victims, a third expedition arrived to reclaim it. The geological location of Rockanus was too pristine and perfect for the Mountainhomes to give up – they were persistent to take it. But an oddity appeared when one of the dwarfs in the third expedition did a survey of the surroundings. Goblins! They had remained since they slaughtered the last inhabitants.

But something was amiss – the goblins weren’t hostile towards the dwarfs. There were three goblins: two pikemen, and a wrestler clad in chain with iron weapons. They roamed the area near the fortress’ main entrance. Distrusting them despite their “Friendly” demeanor, the dwarfs dug an alternative route into Rockanus, completely passing by the goblins. Extra security measures were taken and traps now littered all the entrances – the dwarfs would not trust their goblin neighbors after the previous slaughter.

Third time’s the charm, they say, and for a while it seemed true. Rockanus began to prosper once again and soon had a bustling population of 63 dwarfs all hard at work, expanding Rockanus in all directions at a flourishing rate. The goblins continued to loiter the outside of the old main entrance, now long sealed. The dwarfs even began to forget about the strange three goblins that inhabited their lands. And goblins were the last thing on their minds when the peace of Rockanus was shattered once more, when a miner had uncovered something far worse than goblins.

A miner had broken into an immense cave system, several times the size of Rockanus. It housed unbelievable wealths of ore and gems – the dwarfs couldn’t help themselves as they entered and began to build their forwards mining camp into the seemingly endless cavern. A small band of crossbowdwarfs accompanied the miners as a precaution, and for good reason, as several packs of crundles, foul little impish monsters, harassed the miners only to be dispatched quickly. But this was far from the worst thing wihch made the caverns its home.

The miners were suddenly startled, shocked, and horrified when from the depths came a heart-shattering roar. Legends came to the minds of the dwarfs of an ancient creature that was believed to inhabit the depths of the world, but had since been forgotten: Urke the Hollow of Heart was a terrifying entity, a gigantic four legged, skinless beast without eyes. The miners immediately began to flee as the military that had accompanied them opened fire, only to be quickly overcome and slaughtered by Urke’s terrible speed and strength. The miners fled up towards the main fortress, but Urke followed.

Urke made a thunderous entrance into the fortress depths right behind the miners, and with him he spewed pestilence and death. The nobles immediately ordered all the citizens of Rockanus to flee to the guard towers outside of the fortress. A few brave dwarfs would be set to seal Rockanus up forever, and with it, Urke. In a screaming panic, dwarfs flooded the halls of Rockauns and made for the exits, heading for the burrow atop one of the major guard towers outside. Urke was quick to catch the miners who were still several levels down, and ripped them into countless gibs. Urke had no mercy on Rockanus.

The evacuation was halted momentarily for masons to begin the construction of a steel wall to seal in Urke. The materials were fetched from the guard house’s metalsmith workshop as they began to hastily construct the barricade. Urke had annihilated all life within Rockanus at this point, feasting on the lingering few who had remained busied with their own tasks at the time, unaware of death’s approach. Urke’s tremendous speed carried him up and up the fortress until he was fast approaching the exit of Rockanus. But the wall was hardly done yet – a few more segments remained before the dwarfs would fully complete it. All hope seemed lost – Urke would escape and slaughter the inhabitants at this rate. Even the nobles’ predictions became grim. But suddenly, just as Urke approached the last stretch of hallway before the main entryway, something happened that no one expected.

A short, chainmail clad, green skinned individual ran into Rockanus and past the dwarfs hastily constructing the wall. As the goblin wrestler ran in to face him, Urke halted, as if surprised. The wrestler wasted no time in combating Urke, and the beast showered the goblin with a spew of rot and decay. The goblin pressed onwards despite his sickened injuries – he grappled with Urke, immediately breaking one of the beast’s legs! This tiny humanoid had grappled the tremendous horror that Urke was, and held the beast in place as the two fought to the end. Despite this act of unexpected heroism, the nobles knew that construction of the wall could not be halted. Precious moments had been bought, and soon the last block was in place and Rockanus was sealed forever. Behind that last block was the sight of Urke in combat with the goblin wrestler. Rockanus was sealed, and never dug into again. No one ever knew why the goblin acted so altruistically towards the dwarfs that day. The settlement continued, and the guard tower soon expanded into a completely above-ground fortress.

Years later a stonecrafter called out that he had finished his masterpiece, and everyone came to look. On the wall was engraved the image of a goblin and Urke the Hollow of Heart. Urke was in the fetal position, and the goblin was laughing.

Written by Gobbles



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One thought on “Unexpected Altruism

  1. I get it now! The engraving of Urke and the goblin, that sort of thing happened before, in another story (a particularly famous one at that). Engravers must honor victories of bloody battles by engraving the heroes and villians in such poses, it makes sense now.

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