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The Moldank Chronicles

Will Grovel for Fish

John F. Sasso

Cast of Characters:
Abeezabud the gremlin, played by Martin Shaver
Selinos of the Cloven Tower the high elf, played by Douglas Jackson
Vashti Onion the human, played by Martin Melhus
Flanders Dimetria the weasel manbeast, played by Jeremy McMillan
Moldank Blackband the goblin, played by John Sasso

Game Master:
Andrew Walsh

The Saga:

Moldank was not an exceptional goblin. He grew up in the swamps of Moorglum, east Midgrad, a member of the Blackband. Robbers, thieves, opportunists, they preyed upon the traveller unlucky enough to have to ride along the swampy Moorglum Road from Ilnia to Dania. The Blackband were not rich, but they were born survivors.

At the age of eleven winters Moldank left the swamp and entered the employ of a lesser known wizard in the south of Dania. He was called simply "the wizard," or "boss." Moldank's orcish supervisor led him down dark twisty tunnels, deep into the earth, until they reached a locked wooden door. He handed Moldank an axe, a shield, and a helmet. His orders were straight forward. Stand and guard the door until relieved.

After the passing of one mealtime Moldank grew anxious for his replacement, but no one arrived. After two mealtimes he began to plan his revenge upon the orc After three he was so hungry he started chewing on the leather bits of the shield. After four mealtimes he decided that no job was worthy of starvation. Leaving the axe, helmet, and what was left of the shield behind, he headed back up the tunnels, but quickly became completely lost. He stopped to get his bearings. The next thing that he heard was a curse growled in trollish, followed by a loud crack inside his head.

Blackness faded to grey, and grey faded to pain as Moldank awoke and opened his green bloodshot eyes. He discovered dried blood around the painful bump on his throbbing head, a heavy brass collar around his neck, and an aching hunger in his stomach. He was lying on the damp rocks of a man-made island in a man-made lake in the middle of a huge cavern. All of his possessions were missing expect for his fishskin jockstrap. Near him stood a small weaselman and a gremlin arguing with two women, a human and pointy eared elf. Not one to expect anything but contempt from the group, he crawled over to them on hands and knees. He moaned and sobbed, "Oh please I am but a poor starving goblin looking for a kind master to serve faithfully and kindly for just a small morsel of food oh please stop kicking me." The last utterance was due to the impact of the human's boot to the side of his head. The pecking order resolved, Moldank quickly assimilated himself into the group. Abeezabud the gremlin was a tiny black skinned figure who wore a clandestinely sly smile on his face. Flanders Dimetria was a weasel faced manbeast with a condescending attitude. Vashti Onion was a human highbilly from Tenesia, where she was not well liked. And Selinos was a high elf who acted like she was raised in a brothel.

Their situation was woeful. Everyone on the island had transgressed against "the wizard" in one way or another. Each wore a similar collar. If anyone tried to leave the island, he would die, as would one other prisoner on the island. After several escape attempts, the prisoners had discovered that all were safe if they stayed within a few paces of each other. More than that, and two would drop dead. Food, if it could be called that, was delivered infrequently by masked guards. There was a narrow rock walkway to the shore of the lake, but it was guarded by huge ants of ferocious temperament.

There was no food. Moldank tried to catch fish by wading into the water and grabbing them with his clawed hands while the rest of the prisoners watched anxiously from the rocks. The loss of two fingers to snapping fish alleviated the goblin of his fishing notions. Hunger was turning to starvation when two guards arrived carrying a bucket of raw meat and slop. Moldank almost chewed off the guard's hand to get his share. The human and elf ate sparingly between gagging fits. The weaselman ate heartily. The gremlin ate not at all.

A few long boring days later the spiders arrived. They were huge creatures, bigger than great orcs. They rode steel strong threads of silk as they stealthily descended upon the giant ant sentries. All of the ants were killed or carried away, poisoned and wrapped in silky webs. The five prisoners agreed that this was their one chance to escape. They would all stick close together until a means of getting rid of the magickal slave collars was found. They pulled fangs and mandibles from the dead bugs to use as weapons. The goblin grabbed a few nice throwing sized rocks, and they all headed through the most friendly looking doorway.

They trudged through the unknown corridors until Moldank announced that he smelled fish. It didn't smell fresh, but that made him salivate all the more. He quickened his pace and dragged the others along as no one else had any better ideas as to where they were going. Ahead in a small alcove were four of the giant ants fighting over a large rotted fish, the last remains of their repast. Moldank did not hesitate. He dashed into the room, grabbed the fish from the mandibles of a surprised insect, and sprinted toward the other side. The rest of the escaped prisoners, also surprised by the goblin's action, ran after. Moldank's food starved synapses made him forget about the deadly collars, but the others did not. Four huge insects and five prisoners in a small chamber did not leave much room to maneuver. The ants intercepted the escapees and attacked everyone except for the weaselman, who dodged his way past clacking mandibles to the other doorway. Abeezabud the gremlin was the first to fall, impaled by an ant before it could even attempt to defend itself. Moldank fought against his monstrous foe with a rock in one hand and the fish in the other, but eventually succomed to the pain of multiple lacerations and blows to the head, and was knocked out cold for the second time in a week.

The goblin awoke with a shock as the sting of alcohol awakened each and every one of his wounds. The smell of vodka overwhelmed him, and he looked up to see the human laughing and holding a dripping bucket. He sat up and surveyed the situation. They were on a dock on the shore of a massive underground lake. Vashti the human, Selinos the elf, and Flanders the weaselman were all there. The only one missing was the gremlin, and Moldank recognized the small bloody collar on the weaselman's belt. On the dock were barrels of liquor, including one barrel of ale which the others would not touch. The goblin recognized it as a fine vintage of fermented dwarf, even better than the kind they made back home in the swamp. He put his cracked green lips to the tap and turned the knob. The ale had a soothing effect upon him, and he felt a semblance of vigor return to his abused frame.

The weaselman argued that the goblin was a danger to them all, put a rope through the ring in Moldank's collar, and began to drag him around. The goblin made his best attempt at grovelling, but the weaselman was not impressed. Vashti explained that they were waiting for a boat to take them to the other side of the lake. They settled down to heal and collect what provisions they could. When the weaselman was coaxed to let up on his leash, Moldank spent his time making pole, line, and hooks. Soon they had buckets of fresh fish. The goblin was confused by the concept of cleaning and cooking one's fish before eating it, and greedily ate up all the entrails and fish tails that were discarded. Using the best of the guts and skin he fashioned himself a sling and pouch, and collected small round stones to use as shot. Meanwhile Vashti persisted in a futile attempt to build a bow from old wood and fish gut, with predictably dismal results.

After five days a twenty oar longboat arrived, and they all helped load barrels to pay for their passage. The uneventful trip across the lake took less than a day. They were unceremoniously rowed ashore by a couple of sailors. The group wandered into the nearest cave entrance, but they still had no idea which direction would lead to escape. All were surprised when the small dark ball rolling down the corridor toward them turned out to be the head of Abeezabud, their fallen gremlin comrade, imbued with some form of undead nonlife. The head was quickly followed by the tiny shambling shape of the gremlin's body which was searching for the head. The two were attached, and the gremlin told a story of giant machinery of death, spiral confusion, glowing magicks, and forces that were better left undisturbed. With no understanding of the ways of magick, the others shrugged and accepted the gremlin back into the group.

After a few hours of walking through the tunnels the group came upon five human sailors. The sea dogs postured and threatened in a typical display of bravado until the gremlin stepped forward. For some unknown reason they dropped to the ground, prostrated themselves, and grovelled with as much enthusiasm as a goblin. Moldank was impressed. So much so that he relieved them of a total of twenty five copper coins as the party took their clothing, boots, and short swords. The weaselman removed the leash from the goblin and tied up the sailors so that they could not follow.

After a short time they came upon a door. Without wasting any time they entered what appeared to be a blacksmith's shop, containing one human blacksmith and four sailor customers. Everyone blathered threateningly until the gremlin stepped forward. Again the humans prostrated themselves in fear. The blacksmith himself suffered some form of nervous breakdown and backed into a corner where he whimpered and drooled upon himself. Moldank, forever the opportunist, grabbed the blacksmith's cap and did his futile best to assume his identity. His short stature, green skin, pointy ears, and yellowed fangs were a detriment to his impersonation. The gremlin smiled at Moldank, and pink gargoyle like faces replaced those of the goblin and the gibbering blacksmith. Not disconcerted by the strange turn of events, Moldank rummaged through the shop's strongbox and came up with several copper, silver, and gold coins. Flanders tied up the customers with a hunk of handy rope.

The bell above the shop door jingled as the door was opened, and four human guards entered. The pink gargoyle faced blacksmith capped goblin was a dead giveaway that something was wrong. The guards drew their swords and ordered everyone to assume the position. Bolstered by desperation, the escapees met sword with sword, just as the building exploded. All were knocked down, but no one was seriously wounded. Moldank spied through the smoke a group of mask wearing human bravos, made the conclusion that the enemies of your enemies are your friends, and ran out to join them. "Down with the man! Up with the revolution." The rest scampered after, the killer collars not forgotten. Dazed guards and tied up customers tried to follow but were dissuaded by arrow and sling shot, the latter from the goblin. The leader of the terrorists welcomed the new additions. "Come join us brothers and sisters. This way."

They trudged through endless tunnels until a cleverly disguised trap door opened, and they all entered. Moldank, no longer pink, begged and grovelled, "Fish, oh I must have fish, for I am but your starving servant, please all powerful master," as usual. Inside was a clean and well run enterprise of clandestine war with training and weapon manufacturing facilities. Food was brought out, as well as healing potions. All became acquainted, though sometimes too well. During one party Selinos drank too much wine and almost caused a riot when she threw off her blouse and danced around topless. Moldank understood the cause because to a goblin there is no more repulsive sight than a naked elf. All pink and smooth. But at the same time he thought she would not look too bad if she had bag over her head and was covered in lichen or algae. Vashti discussed several possible means of getting rid of the collars, and it was decided that a wizard of equal or greater power than the "boss" was needed. "Where is the great Dorial at a time like this?" Moldank hated that elf wizard, and wanted to suggest a great goblin magician to save them from their plight, but could not think of one. As a matter of fact, he had never heard of any great goblin magicians. He sat down to ponder.

Just then a great booming sound came from the huge front door. "Sounds like a battering ram," surmised Vashti. The servile but impetuous goblin jumped right up to assist. "I'll go let them in," he said and was immediately tackled by everyone within reach. The ram struck again and the door splintered open. In rushed fur clad berserkers with blood in their eyes and teeth marks on their shields. Moldank thought it might be time to change sides again but changed his mind after dodging two axe swings and a nastily barbed arrow. The terrorists charged in to attack, and the goblin slunk away into the shadows, with the rest of the collared crew and the gremlin in close pursuit. They ran through mysterious dank tunnels until they were exhausted, rested a short while, and then ran some more, until the sounds of combat were no more and escape was certain.

All were accepting of the inevitable when, a few days later, they opened a door through which could be seen a small man-made island in a man-made lake in a huge cavern. They went though, and sat down to rest, while they pondered their next actions.

Thus ends this chapter of the Chronicles of Moldank.