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Threetoe's Stories, and Analysis

The Nation of Man

By Threetoe

Edgar had fled his home with the rest of the young men of his village. They knew if they stayed they would be slaughtered. They only hoped their families would be enslaved instead of burned alive and devoured by hungry goblins.

The goblins had multiplied in the hills. They could no longer sustain themselves by ambushing travelers and kidnapping children who had wandered too far into the woods. But these were not the goblins he had known. They were the same individually. Edgar had recognized Ulnok, who had been captured and whipped for trying to steal a goat. Now Ulnok sat on a huge wolf, covered in haphazard plates of armor. The men of the village fled through the forest. They crested a bare hill and looked back toward the village. The forest was in flames.

The band rode on, the fire close behind. Soon they reached the plains. There were perhaps twenty of them. They hadn't got far before what food they brought had been consumed.

On they rode, until they ran across a group of mounted bandits, starving as they were. The bandits charged but when Edgar knocked a rider from his mount, the bandits fled. The ragged man begged for his life, holding a hand to his bleeding scalp. Edgar told his friends that he needed him alive, to guide them through the plains. They decided he did not need his horse, which was quickly butchered and eaten.

Horus was the bandit's name. He walked ahead of them as they rode toward the nearest town. A hill rose before them. Horus told them the town was on the other side. They should not show their numbers or they would be attacked. Horus told Edgar he should go alone to beg for food.

Edgar walked to the top of the hill. Beyond the river was a lush grassland filled with cattle. A large town lay on the bank of the river. Farmers worked the vast fields.

Edgar made his way down the hill. As he reached the fields a group of soldiers rode up to meet him. Edgar told him of the disaster that had befallen his village, but the soldiers had heard this story before. They recognized his dialect as that of the South. A barbarian. They drew their weapons and sent him away.

When Edgar returned to his band his mouth was still watering with the memory of the cattle. Horus saw an opportunity to gain his freedom and described a way in which they could take the cattle from the farmers. They waited until dark, when the moon shown down on the valley. They rode into the town, seizing cattle and a horse for Horus. The next day they to rode the land of Horus's people and offered them a cow as a sign of peace.

Edgar's band grew. People of the plains joined him, as well as refugees driven north by the goblins. Soon the threat of starvation surfaced again. No matter how many cattle they stole, it would not be enough to feed his growing army.

After a time Edgar grew to believe there was no other choice. He called the leaders of the tribes for council. Soldiers had been gathering in the town by the river. Edgar's constant raids had drawn the attention of cities far beyond. They must strike now, or dwindle and become nothing.

Hundreds of howling warriors rode down into the valley. They hurled wooden spears at the soldiers, and torches at the wooden buildings. Though better armed, the soldiers were no match for the desperate ferocity of the riders and their overwhelming numbers. Edgar dismounted next to the body of a slain soldier. He pried the sword from his hand and held it high. A cheer rose from his warriors.

Edgar hoped to show more mercy than the goblins had shown his people. He forbade the torture or mistreatment of the women. The men, however, had to be killed. The road leading away from town was soon lined with impaled corpses.

Edgar had ruled the town for a year before the nation dared to retaliate. But Edgar was ready. His men had been taught by the surviving townspeople to farm and now he supported an army ten times its original size. They were armed with metal weapons, forged by the widows of blacksmiths on the pain of death.

An army marched in a column along the road. They carried a bright blue banner with equally colorful tunics. An informant warned him they carried strange weapons for which they paid the dwarves the inheritance of their children. A small band of warriors lined the bank opposite the invading army. As the enemy passed the pile of skulls reaped from last year's harvest, they continued on with determination. These truly were savages that had befouled their beloved land. The warriors across the river howled as they threw spears. Captain Jones lifted his hand and after a moment, let it drop. A line of blue clad troops fired their crossbows into the band. The barbarians fell back into the town. The captain urged his people across the shallow river.

When they were midstream Edgar unleashed his army. Arrows shot from every roof and window. A huge force of barbarians charged into the river. The victory was costly, but Edgar doubted he would be troubled by the nation again. He sent Jones back to his master without his thumbs.

Another year passed and Edgar sent Horus with many warrior to claim another town. He feared his town alone could not support the growing number of refugees. Then, suddenly, the inflow of desperate starving people stopped. Edgar felt at ease for the first time since his homeland had been destroyed. He even thought of taking a wife.

A servant came to him, beckoning him to the window of his recently built fortress. From the window he saw a lone rider. He sat astride a strange beast, holding a spear, on the same hill from which Edgar had first beheld the town he now ruled. Edgar called for his armor.

He and his guard rode to the base of the hill. Edgar rode up the hill alone to meet his old rival. Ulnok looked much older, scars ran across his long toothed face. "I am Ulnok DarkDream, slayer of your mother and father. We whom your kind have mistreated have returned to consume your flesh."

"You cannot stand before my army," said Edgar.

"Look beyond the hill," said the goblin in a tired voice. Beyond the hill was a vast army of monsters and fiends that seemed to stretch to the horizon. Edgar stood motionless. "You see," said the creature. "The nation of man could have survived for a dozen years if you hadn't turned them against each other. Now they won't last a season."

Edgar struck him down. The goblin fell to the earth spitting blood. Edgar straddled his dying foe, holding his sword point against the goblin's chest. Edgar looked up at the approaching army now thundering toward the hill and the blood ran from his face as he knew the fate of all humankind. Below him, Ulnok spit out a mouthful of blood and Edgar dropped his sword as the goblin's cackle faded into the horrible shrieks of the oncoming beasts.


    • personal bodyguards
    • having servants fetch objects for you
    • carrying flags and banners
    • spies and informants within other entities
    • refugee crises caused by invasions
    • organized genocides and war on civilians
    • taking slaves from captured sites, using civilians as food
    • raiding populations for snacks, eventually growing too large so you have to move to other means
    • interracial populations possibly resulting in social classes based on these
    • those in poverty turning to crime
    • less-than-lethal punishments
    • different migratory groups meeting when one is displaced
    • towns react to the size, appearance etc of approaching groups, diplomacy can be handled by smaller parties
    • more proactive behavior by guards as you enter the town
    • spreading news, telling nonsense stories for food, getting tired of stuff
    • victory symbols and celebrations, leadering doing something symbolic, almost like an entertainer
    • passing on knowledge to other creatures, this is true of incoming skill-less migrants for example
    • conqueror behavior:
      • memory of having been attacked or enslaved can influence entity behavior once they rise to superior position
      • rules of post-raid conduct can be mandated by the leader or just be a part of standard entity ethics
      • regionwide decorations by abused bodies, although just decorating the sites beyond what currently happens is enough for now, places that are highly travelled are frequent targets
    • offerings to leaders in adventure mode
    • returning underlings to master, sometimes the underling could be altered in some way
    • calling councils: calling heads of many village or migrant entities to a single location to discuss a matter concerning each group or an umbrella
    • shock at seeing sudden horrible and overwhelming things
    • mouth watering involuntary at certain times for certain creatures, other such things
    • having a guide, it shouldn't always mark things on the map for you, you could instead be forced to take somebody who knows the way
    • higher level tactics: falling back, ambush
    • captain commanding and urging group
    • battle signaling to coordinate actions in army fights, be fun to see an evil leader do something, and then something bad happens
    • armoring animals, putting it on them
    • pleading for quarter
    • as part of the slow escalation to violence, can draw weapons and make threats and ultimatums
    • dialects can separate out entities from the same race, this can lead to discrimination in certain settings
    • theatrics and symbolism: tying in locales from significant older history events when positioning actors in similar events