This story is set in the world of the Kingdom of Loathing, a goofy online game. It’s fairly serious in tone, but I couldn’t let it be completely dry. It’s set during the goblin conquest of Seaside Town. There are 4 characters you’ll need to know.
Konall Bearsmasher is a strong Viking warrior. He has a massive distrust of magic.
Kadlin Bearsmasher is Konall’s sister. She’s a bit more clever than Konall though less tough. Her main strength is magic, and she has such spells as the ability to conjure stench elementals in tentacle form, rain down spears of ice, and create a transparent shield in front of her. Her most powerful spell allows her to open a gate to Hel to summon demons.
Spaz is an ADD demon, small and feisty. He’s Konall’s pet and companion. Recently, he’s adapted the skills of a bard, learning to warp reality with his music.
Xanadon was once a great and powerful necromancer. He’s now a chef-in-a-box, Kadlin’s familiar and assistant. He helps her make both meals and potions, the latter of which include animal form potions, spider web potions, healing potions, and energy drinks that restore magical potential.
* * *
Konall and Kadlin looked around them. The fire had cropped up in a dozen locations, claiming a tenth of the city already. They weren’t fighting to win anymore. They were fighting to keep a few of the scraps safe from devastation. Nothing depresses a Viking warrior like a battle with no chance of winning and little chance of an honorable death against a worthy opponent. “It’s like a cake with no frosting,” Konall said. “And the cake’s made of ox dung. And our aunt cooked it.”
“I know,” Kadlin sighed.
The noise of the fire was loud, loud enough to cover up the sound of a goblin patrol advancing from around a building for example. And loud enough to keep that goblin patrol from hearing two siblings talk, discuss, argue, and insult each other.
The two groups came face to face. Konall looked at Kadlin. Kadlin looked at Konall. Both looked at the dozen warriors plus half a dozen archers and knew what had to be done. No chance of running. No reason not to fight.
Kadlin ducked behind the protection of Konall and his shield and the two of them crouched behind its protective circle. Kadlin chanted a spell an Konall kept them safe from an acupuncture treatment from hell.
Goblins with swords and pikes approached as Kadlin called down a rain of ice shards. As the goblins protected themselves from the downpour, Konall raised his shield above him and slammed into their ranks, catching them off guard. Spaz played “Fire on the mountain,” a song of a inferno that consumed the mount of the gods, but his power brought the story to life, causing flames to erupt among the goblins. The mixture of magic and music left all of them injured, but none dead.
Konall focused on taking out the two elites, one after the other while Kadlin saved her staff for the weakened grunts. A goblin tried to stab Konall in the back but Spaz gave him a face full of frog potion and the goblin suddenly became a lot smaller. The last thing to go through his mind was Konall’s foot, as the Viking backed up while fighting an elite. Konall commemorated the death of the downtrodden enemy with the thought Did I just step in a dog turd?
Spaz turned another goblin into a rat with a quick toss of a potion. Konall saw this, removed his sword from the elite’s chest, and shield bashed a grunt onto the rat, killing both.
Kadlin, meanwhile, had just gotten skewered with a spear only to see Konall’s vengeful sword remove the spearman’s head. The siblings stood back-to-back in a defensive formation, attacking anyone who came near.
Meanwhile, the archers managed to find some arrows unburnt by Spaz’s fire song and were trying to shoot the demon out of the sky. But Spaz’s tiny size meant they hit no demon but several goblins. Tempers flared, accusations of betrayal were thrown around, and the goblins began attacking each other until only one archer remained, barely standing, who Spaz promptly finished off with a pitchfork to the throat.
Konall rammed the last elite backward, and Xanadon popped out of his box and head butted the goblin, knocking him to the ground. Kadlin brought her staff down on the warrior’s temple, finishing him.
They moved on, coming to a rise. Looking out at the destruction, they saw a mob of fleeing citizens. There had to be almost a thousand. But a closer look revealed something worse. About seven hundred refugees were trying to keep ahead of two or three hundred goblins. Stragglers were killed and trampled under goblin boots.
“We have to help,” Kadlin said. Konall just hefted his axe in silent agreement.
Kadlin jumped in a carriage whose horses were long gone. “Konall, give me a push!” Konall obliged and jumped on the back as the cart took off down the hill towards the fleeing citizens. The seal clubber climbed over the back to ride shotgun, or blunderbuss as it happened to be called in this time period, and Spaz dropped Xanadon in the cab.
Konall covered his eyes. “This is why you don’t let women drive.”
“Aww,” said Kadlin. “Is the mighty warrior afraid of a little death? You steer.”
While Kadlin powered up a spell, Konall manipulated the carriage down the right street and plowed into the front line of the goblins, right behind the fleeing Seasiders. Kadlin let loose her helgate spell right before the crash. Both Vikings tumbled right over the airbags into the nearest wall. Kadlin ran into it with a thud. Konall smashed right through it.
“Spaz,” yelled Konall. “Use your music. Help those people run faster.”
Spaz shook his head. “There’s too many enemies here. You need all the help you can get.”
Reluctantly, Spaz flew off, using his accordion music to give wings to the feet of the citizens. Whether it was the magic of song or the fact that most people fear accordion music more than goblins it was impossible to tell.
That left one berserker, one pastamancer, and a disembodied head against some 200 goblins. They wouldn’t be able to stand for more than a minute before being swarmed and obliterated. So they ran.
Kadlin tossed a spider web potion behind her, tripping up a dozen pursuers and buying some time. But Konall was the more athletic one, and he began outpacing her. “Wait for me,” she said, and drank a rat form potion. She leapt into Konall’s arms and the warrior ran, carrying a rat in his left hand a chef-in-a-box in his right.
Konall’s only thought was getting away. He ignored the arrows that bounced off the shield on his back. They wouldn’t harm him. He ignored the occasional arrow that bit into his leg. His armor was strong and his tolerance for pain stronger. He even ignored the arrow that hit him in the head. His helmet was hard and his skull harder.
“Get to the watchtower,” Kadlin squeaked. Or possibly “Met in the hot shower.” Since there was a watchtower nearby, Konall assumed the first. The gate was already open, and the entrance way was wide enough for two people to get in. Kadlin returned to human form and handed Konall a healing potion, drinking one herself as well. Konall took another, ignoring his fears of magic for the moment. They had a chance to shut the doors, lower the portcullis, and barricade the entrance, but they didn’t. It was needless postponing of the inevitable. They just took a breather and surveyed the scene.
The tower had stone walls on the outside and a wooden interior. It was a miniature fortress 30 yards in diameter and eight stories tall. It had already been fortified, ravaged, and abandoned. This was where they’d make their stand. This was where warriors lived. This was where they died.
Spaz arrived. “They’re coming,” he said. “I wonder what goblins do for sports.”
The Vikings stood together, just inside the door, forcing the enemy to come at them one or two at a time. Numbers meant nothing here. It might take longer, but it wouldn’t be any harder. The first wave came in, the fastest runners but not necessarily the best fighters. Certainly not the best armored. And they weren’t at full strength. Konall’s sword and Kadlin’s staff took them on with ease.
The rest of the horde arrived, trampling dead and dying comrades underneath as they approached the siblings. But the warriors stood their ground, dealing death while taking minor injuries. Spaz played a song that spoke of brigands in the woods, fighting with staves, to strengthen Kadlin’s fighting skills..
Suddenly, a fireball streaked toward them and Kadlin threw up a counterspell at the last second. “Spaz!” yelled Konall, “Distraction.”
Magic is energy. Mages control this energy, building it up as they prepare a spell, controlling it with their will and keeping it in service. Imagine you’re a goblin pyromancer. Imagine how much pressure your mind is under to build power in the middle of combat. Now imagine you’ve built up the maximum power you can and are about to unleash enough fire to kill two powerful enemies and a chef-in-a-box several times over. Your focus is taxed, your willpower strained to its limit. The some creature comes along and attacks you. It’s small wounds, but they still make you bleed. Could you keep control? Could you keep the thought processes needed to warp the very laws of nature to your whim and send that massive amount of energy toward your foes? This goblin couldn’t. He fumbled the spell, and the last thing he saw was rogue fire energy tear through him and his nearby allies. Seven warriors went to the underworld from that one burst, including all three goblin saucerors.
The ground in front of Konall and Kadlin was littered with bodies now as soldier after soldier came over the top and died. The goblins’ footing was unsure, but they had the height advantage. And the Vikings were getting tired and injured. Kadlin had one spell left in her, and it wasn’t a big one. She didn’t dare cast in the middle of the fight except to defend herself. A spear drove into her side unexpectedly, and she fell back. Konall was left to fight alone for a brief second, but that was enough to force him to give ground.
“Retreat,” Konall said, and Kadlin crawled toward the staircase. Konall backed his way toward her, keeping his foes from getting hits, and sometimes failing. Summoning his anger, he went berserk, rage fueling him to superhuman strength. He threw back his sword and shield and pulled out his war haxxor. The massive half-hammer/half-axe plowed through goblins, crushing armor and snapping bones. Even the most elite goblins couldn’t stand this barrage for long.
But that rage was a temporary fix, not a permanent state. Konall’s limbs grew tired. Thankfully, he was now at the staircase, and he could begin spiraling up the stairs, as the goblins were forced to fight him one at a time. Kadlin hurled her last spell, sending the stench of eldritch tentacles into the midst of her enemies and killing the archer she had targeted.
Goblins forced their way up the stairs in single file and died one at a time. Spears pierced through gaps, and Konall deflected them with his shield. Kadlin thrust her staff at any head she could, trying to do extra damage. They gave ground, but they did it slowly, and they made their enemies pay blood for every step.
Archers loosed arrows, hitting mostly nothing, and their own men as much as they did either of the siblings. Spaz flew among them, his music reducing their accuracy.
Konall slashed and stabbed with his sword, careful not to grant his enemies a chance to hit. He feinted to an enemy’s left and then lopped of its head with a swift blow from the other side. When the next soldier took its place he caught the goblin off guard, shield bashed him, and sent him tumbling down the stairs. Not pausing to count how many other goblins the soldier toppled in his descent, Konall stabbed anyone who took their eyes off the fight for a second to glance at their falling comrade.
Ten arrows flew overhead. Spaz grabbed two of them out of the air. But one of them slammed into Kadlin, puncturing a lung and barely missing her heart. A second tore into her neck. She collapsed, unable to even scream in pain. Her airways filled with blood. Konall tried to feel more than angry at this, to feel the burning rage that led to berserking, but his fury was done. He simply stood his ground and fought while Kadlin began drinking health potions to stay alive.
Kadlin lay on the ground, letting her body recover, and watched in amazement at her brother’s fighting. He parried and hacked, watching for his opponent to make the slightest mistake and following any slipup with a deadly blow. In the smallest sliver of a second, he could judge an opponent’s strength, knowing when to use brute force for a quick and decisive blow.
Konall blocked blows without a second thought, devoting his attention to finding a hole in goblin defenses. He dodged with the bare minimum of effort, saving his energy as much as possible. He judged the power of an opponent’s strike, knew when to let it just glance of the armor so he could focus on attack.
Konall was impressive when he berserked, letting rage fuel his muscles as he tore apart anything that stood in his way. But this was something else. Like the movements of a musician who plays melody and harmony with both hands moving in a well-rehearsed symphony of motion, the seal-clubber was a master of killing. He had trained his instincts to the point where he was not a warrior frantically trying to stay alive. He was a killing machine, making precise perfect movements that left a trail of death. This wasn’t the work of a brute, it was the opus of a master.
Kadlin finished both of the remaining energy drinks and stood up, just as Konall stumbled under a heavy blow. She smashed the goblin’s skull and told Konall to switch out, handing him the last health potion when they traded places. Konall drank it, rested for a moment, and then rained down flaming arrows on the archers below, taking them out one by one.
A mage’s style of staff combat doesn’t rely on mere strength or agility to hit. It depends on focus. Kadlin shut out the rest of the world and focused on two things. The first was her staff. The second was her enemy. Nothing else existed. She did not see the hordes of enemies waiting to fight her. There was only one, the one in front of her. She did not hear the sound of fiery arrows streaking inches from her head as they flew down below to strike her enemies. She did not worry about her brother. She did not think about how she was going to survive the battle, or even the rest of the fight. She was only focused on this second and the ones immediately after. Tripping an opponent. Striking the next in the head. Parrying a sword and jabbing the offender in the gut. Now throw up an invisible shield to deflect the next blow and strike back with vengeance.
Konall used the last of his arrows and threw the rest of his hatchets into the mix, taking down goblin after goblin. Spaz’s musis now changed to a subtle song that helped deepen Kadlin’s meditation, drowning out the sounds around her and bringing her to a state bordering on meditation. She sent out a flurry of staff attacks, taking a couple injuries but sending out 10 for every one she took.
An elite with a hatchet dug into its skull took the lead, pole arm outstretched. The staff and pole danced around each other, parrying blows and looking for an opening. The elite found his first, tearing into Kadlin’s leg. She rammed her staff into his eye socket before he could get his weapon back into position. Before the next soldier took its place she yelled “Push me.”
Kadlin jumped in the air when Konall shoved her as hard as he could a split second later. Her conjured magical shield was in front of her when she slammed into the goblin in front of her with enough force to knock him down and the two behind him. What followed tangled 20 goblins in a game of dominoes. But normal dominoes don’t have weapons drawn when they fall. And normal dominoes don’t bleed when they fall on their own blade, or that of an ally.
Konall dragged Kadlin behind him and killed a couple goblins before they could get up. He slowly gave ground, fighting back the unending horde, and Kadlin used the last of her magic reserves to open the helgate once more, her spell boosted by Spaz’s playing.
A goblin in a black cape strode confidently over the dead. Seven feet tall, he weighed more than both of the siblings combined, and none of it was fat. Light from a burning brazier gleamed off his tower shield and made his scimitar seem all the more vicious. His armor was battle-scarred, but it would still block damage as well as the day it was made. Konall’s armor was barely holding onto him, and his sister’s was reduced to blood-soaked tatters. This goblin was no rank-and-file soldier. This was a goblin who had attained the rank of champion. He was a slayer of heroes, tougher than any mere elite guard, and goblins only counted a few dozen champions in their ranks.
Konall struck first, low, trying to hit the leg under the shield. The goblin blocked it and then swung up abruptly to block Kadlin’s rat form potion. He knocked aside sword and staff as he pushed ahead. Five stairs. Ten. Fifteen. Konall avoided serious injury, but soon he had a number of cuts on his body. The champion had yet to acquire a single injury. Spaz flew about the champion’s head, stabbing him repeatedly, but the goblin didn’t even blink. Finally, battered by a dozen blows, Konall fell to his knees. The champion raised his sword to strike, and in his eagerness to kill let his guard down slightly. Kadlin, emptied the contents of a brazier in his face. The hot coals stung and blinded for half a second, enough time for Konall to drive a thrust under the goblin’s armor, into his belly, and up to the heart. As the dead goblin fell to the ground his allies stood stunned. The siblings took the opportunity to quickly limp away, their injuries too great to continue fighting.
At the top of the stairs was a ladder leading to a trap door. They scrambled up and made it to the parapet. They shut the door and piled everything they could on it, then Konall sat on the pile.
“They’re going to break through,” said Kadlin.
“I know,” Konall replied.
“I’m almost dead.”
“So this is it,” said Kadlin.
“Yeah. Valhalla,” Konall said.
“You have any potions left?”
“Just a couple spider webs.”
“You know, sis. I think I’ve been too hard on you. Magic, it’s not all bad. You’ve shown me that it can be used right.”
“You’ve fought well today. You’re a noble warrior. And you use every tool in your arsenal to fight for what’s right. I’m proud of you.”
“I’m proud of you too,” Kadlin said.
A tear streaked down Konall’s face, then another. “We stand firm and we take as many of them down as we can.” The goblins were starting to break through the barrier.
Kadlin looked over the edge.
“You know, I want to apologize,” said Konall. “I’ve never given you the respect you deserved. I teased you. Hel, I even scared off your first boyfriend because I thought he wasn’t good enough for you. I told you he decided to dump you. I shouldn’t have done that.
“I’ve always treated you as my baby sister.” he continued. “You’re a woman. You’re a warrior. You’re my equal. No, you’re my better. And I’m sorry for ever treating you different.”
“That’s sweet,” said Kadlin.
“You have anything you need to get off your chest?”
“Not really,” she said, as she continued looking down.
“What are you looking at?”
“Waiting for the last of the goblins to come in.”
“You’ve got a plan to get us out of this mess don’t you?”
“Then all that, you let me do my dying confession when you knew we were both going to live?”
“Well, it was only going to be me living,” she said with a joking smirk, “but since you were so sweet, I guess I’ll take you with me.”
“You, you, you- The gods test me.”
Kadlin “Come over here. On the count of three, we’ll jump.”
Konall “When you said live?”
Kadlin “Don’t be such a baby. Three!”
Both of them went over the side. Kadlin threw a spider web potion in front of them. It broke on the wall right above the ground and they were caught in a sticky, yet soft mess that saved them from being reduced to the consistency of chunky salsa. After several minutes of struggling, Konall pulled free and then got his sister out.
“What now?” he asked.
“I don’t know if you noticed, but there was a sign in that tower. The sign read ‘Max Occupancy 80 people or 100 good-for-nothing goblin scum.’ There’s at least two hundred goblins in there.” Konall followed Kadlin as she strolled around the tower.
They saw the last goblin rush into the tower as they approached. Konall slammed the door shut and Kadlin lowered the portcullis, then used a spider web potion to stick everything in place. The supports were already cracking under the weight of the horde inside. As the Vikings strode off into the distance, the building collapsed and fell into ruin, killing the entire goblin force in its death throes.
Konall said “You are an evil genius.”
“I know. Now, I think I see that abandoned cart is Doc Galaktik’s. Let’s see if we can heal ourselves up a bit.”