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Threetoe's Stories, and Analysis

Gorge of the Righteous

By Threetoe

Hot mist rose from the old ox's nostrils as it strained against the harness. Atop the wagon a bald brute reached for his whip. The wagon was filled with blood-spattered bodies, the living and dead alike. Valdara threw the arm of a corpse over her body as she worked at the chains binding her. A chorus of moans went up as the cart jerked into motion. Valdara saw her chance and rolled out of the wagon into the muddy road below. She massaged her chafed wrists as the wagon rolled slowly away into the darkness.

The carnage was like none the world had ever known. The great city had been thrown into upheaval after the death of the king, but Baldan the Usurper brought the hammer down on his people. The guards spilled from the palace at the city's center and attacked the rioting peasants like crazed hyenas amongst a herd of sheep. Three days had passed and still the bodies filled the street. Carts ran day and night delivering their ghastly cargo to the gorge outside town into which they were hurled.

Valdara tickled the back of her throat with her index finger. She gagged and out from her gullet came a ruby ring. She wiped off the glistening surface and smiled, dropping the ring in her pocket. She parted the bushes and quickly glanced up and down the road. Running back toward the city in the dawn mist, Valdara felt that nothing could stop her now. The ring bore the crest of true royalty. It proved her rightful place on the throne, and no amount of mass murder could change that.

Ravens croaked on the rooftops above as Valdara made her way into the ravaged city. She ducked into an alley as a group of black-hooded guards marched down the street, rousting the surviving citizens from their homes. Soon throngs of miserable wretches filled the street. They stood in silence, glancing fearfully at their feet when the guards passed by. Valdara shouldered her way into the crowd. Far off a trumpet sounded. Nearby a burly guard cracked a whip. The crowd began to chant.

"Baldan! Baldan!"

A great carriage made its way through the crowd, pulled by six black horses. Atop the carriage sat Baldan, flexing his enormous hairy arms. A peasant near Valdara began chanting out of key. A guard caught him by the throat. The wretch shot the guard a defiant glance and the brute brought his fist into the peasant's jaw. The guard brought his hand back for another strike and Valdara caught his wrist. She kicked the guard in the chest sending him spilling into the street.

Baldan's carriage came to a halt. The evil ruler watched with interest as the rag-clad woman stepped into the road. She held up a jewel that gleamed red in the sunlight. Baldan raised an enormous, thick eyebrow. Guards rushed her, swords drawn. Baldan held up a hand and the guards backed away.

"Your reign of evil has come to an end!" shouted Valdara, thrusting her fist at the evil overlord.

Sweat dripped down Baldan's wide neck as he read the inscription on the ring. This child was the true heir of Galdarbia. Feeling his dastardly plans slipping away, Baldan called for the girl's execution. Once again the guards closed on her. When the first reached out to grab her, she caught him by the wrist and smashed her other fist into the guard's face, caving in his teeth.

The guards leaped over the struggling, twitching bodies of their fallen comrades as Valdara dealt with them one by one. The captain of the guard held his whip ready. He glanced left and right, searching for more men able to fight. They were all dead. He looked across the field of corpses, the metallic scent of blood in the air. There she stood, in the rags of a peasant, dark hair shifting in the gentle breeze.

The captain cracked his whip, tearing up chunks of stone from the street. As he stalked her, he could sense his doom. Though he towered over her, he was the prey, for he fought for the forces of darkness. Valdara looked up at him defiantly.

"I will miss you, Captain Evans," said Valdara in a commanding voice. "You were once a good man."

The captain ground his teeth.

"If you will not submit to the execution," shouted Captain Evans, "then I will spill your guts right here!"

The whip snaked up and caught Valdara around the wrists. The leather strap of the whip bound tight as Valdara struggled in vain. The captain stepped closer, his huge frame blotting out the sun. Valdara sank low to the ground, her hair falling over her bowed head. Captain Evans paused. It seemed wrong, somehow, to kill her.

Not wrong, as it turned out, but much too easy. Valdara leapt over the Captain's head and landed on his back, her bound arms around his throat. She jerked back violently and the Captain fell to his knees, his neck broken. She pulled again and the head came loose, releasing a fountain of blood. She freed her hands from the whip and tossed the captain's head toward Baldan's carriage.

As Valdara advanced on Baldan, the poor peasants began to fill the streets. Baldan looked this way and that, breathing heavily, fear ruling his every thought. Valdara stepped onto the carriage saying something about the rightful ruler of the land. Baldan wasn't listening -- he was too busy searching for the poison needle in his pocket.

"What's this?" shouted Valdara.

The evil ruler's head lolled back against the seat, the lips blackening as the crowd watched. Valdara snatched Baldan's wrist and pulled his hand out of his pocket. A spidery black wound had formed around the needle stuck in his palm. Valdara cried out to the gods.

"Give him life that I might kill him again!" she pleaded.

Thunder boomed in the distance. Wind whipped through the streets carrying the dying moans of the guards along with the cheers of the peasants. Valdara clasped Baldan's heavy head in her hands. She stared into the dead, slack-jawed face. The eyes blinked as the vengeful gods spat the evil ruler's soul out of hell and back into his helpless body. In an instant, Valdara was on him, mauling him like a wild bear. Cheers went up once again.

A weak cry escaped Baldan's lips as he descended, bloody and dying into the abyss. Balladeers with trumpets danced around Valdara's carriage as they made their way back to town. On her head sat the crown of Galdarbia. Behind them lay Baldan's Gorge, named after the man who filled it with the corpses of his victims. It was now his tomb. Valdara smiled, admiring the ruby ring on her finger. Baldan might have been the bloodiest ruler of all time, but he did not kill for righteousness.


Some of the "ceremonies" that the game can understand could be triumphant parades, and forced demonstrations or organized rallies. There can be punishments for breaking patterns, and dissidents can break patterns intentionally as a means of being defiant or insubordinate.

Crowds can cheer at moments that have something to do with their entity affiliations. These cheers (or other actions) can be contagious in a sense, and spread to others with similar views.

There can be senseless massacres, with any degree of organization. Corpses might have to be disposed of on a large scale. Players that have been sieged in fortress mode are likely to be familiar with this.

Throwing somebody's head at somebody else, often a superior of the beheaded creature, is a common way to demonstrate that you are in control and that the somebody was dealt with easily, among other things.

A creature might use more primal attack methods if they are overcome by hatred.

A creature might choose suicide over something they view as even more unfavorable.

Certain items can indicate birth or other status.

It should be possible to pretend to be a corpse. It would be useful to have lots of other bodies around, and to obscure yourself with parts of the bodies, especially if you want to perform simple actions undetected.

Swallowing things and inducing vomiting should be possible, at least for a limited time. It remains to be seen to what extent you can also wait for the item.

When it tracks wounds more, it can start doing specific minor wounds like being chafed by bonds.

Poisons can leave characteristic signs.

Certain birds should perch on things, sometimes in groups.

Gods answer a prayer in the story. The prayer was quite strong, directed and related to the goals of the "vengeful" gods. The game can respect these things. The specifics of the prayer involved world metaphysics and so on, such as what happens to the dead. That sort of thing can be sorted out.