A transcript from the Topland chronicles.
The legend of the veil.
“I want to tell you a story.”
The old Goblin in a wicker hat wiggled his saggy bottom on the log, a generation of storytelling had made a permanent groove in the wood, the smooth surface now hugged his rear like a lovers hand. His long hook nose hung impossibly low over a wispy white mustache, the latter joining an equally wispy beard that rolled over and around his belly and ended by his arthritic knees.
The assembled tribe had been waiting for this moment in anticipation, Gregor’s tales spanned throughout his long life and then some more, no one in the tribe knew how old he actually was, but the wrinkles in his face and around his eyes suggested a very long time. But his eyes still looked wicked clever and seemed to soak up all the light from the small fires that crackled before them.
“Once, before you and even before me, before the veil had formed and the magic flowed. Before we knew how to dance with the everflow and before the shades were made.”
A little green blob in dirty blue denim dungarees shifted in his mother’s lap as she gawked at the old timer. She pulled at a rough brown blanket covering her small charge and hugged him tighter. Gregor pulled a small log from his side and tossed it to the red embers of the fire. A tiny shower of red flakes rose into the air and drifted away.
“There was only one that walked amongst us that could fight off the demons of the Toplands. Only one of us that was brave enough to try. I was very young back then but I still remember the tales.”
He tapped at his temple with a crooked finger and glanced around the crowd, the light from the fire danced over the green skin of his face.
“Without him, we would have been lost. But this isn’t the story of Tenor the brave, no this is the story of the one who gave us the veil. He came to us on a night much like this, only before we were forced to live below the earth, back when we tilled the land and farmed the flubbs.”
He pointed with his walking stick up to the rocky ledge that opened up to a dull night sky. A slither of a pinkish moon peeked out from behind a dark cloud.
“Black clouds blotted out the night sky that night and a mist rolled out from the trees to engulf our small village and my father’s mill. A chill pulled at our limbs making them heavy and sluggish like the earth didn’t want to let us go.
He came out the mist, A giant stepping out with the gray clouds swirled around his cloak like wicked fiends. He wore a brown robe the color of a tree trunk and just as rough. Our kind had never seen his like, sure we had seen some strange beings roaming the waste lands but never one like this and never this close to our village.”
The old goblins waved a solid walking stick in the air and above the fire, a blue nimbus slowly formed the shape of a long thin being wrapped in brown cloth from feet to his chin, angular feature adorned his face but in place of hair were a large set of antlers.
“The elders hurried us to a cave, fearing for our safety. Tenor the brave and his mighty hammer was the only one with the courage to face him. Deep inside that wet cave we waited, we waited for what seemed an age, waited for this demon to come and claim us.”
The small Goblin stuck a thumb in his mouth and ducked his head under his mother’s arm. A stock of red hair and small blue eyes looked out worriedly from the green flappy skin of her underarm.
“Tenor came to the cave with this being and we knew him for what he was. An elf and a friend. He had come to help us for we knew not what was coming behind the mist. An unspeakable terror. Never before had our land seen such horror, they left only death and destruction in their wake. Taking what they wanted and killing what the didn’t.
If not for Tarrin the elf I would not be here to tell this tale. He showed the elders the everflow and explained how to use it, but it was as strange to us as the terror coming to our doors. But.”
He raised a knobbly finger in the air and flicked his stick at the fire. The Nimbus rotated and flattened out to show a scene of farmland with tilled land and a windmill at its center. Rolling hills cascaded away to a tightly packed forest.
“No one knew the land better than us for we were farmers and Shepherds back then and the land was ours. We had found a way to fight these being and we had gained some hope. It was precious little but it was hope.”
The crowd hung on his every word as the world around them seems to stop as if to listen to the tale itself. Even the fluorescent blue flubbs had stopped their sluggish movements and pulsed softly above their heads. The worm-like creatures slowly chomped at the lichen of the cave roof.
“We dug our beloved soil deeper than ever before, dug until our hands bleed and the ground yearned below us into blackness, we pulled at the trees that had given us fire and warmth, pulled at them and made long sticks with sharp points and stuck them in the ground. All the while the elf Tarrin stood at the edge of this cave mouth and spoke to the everflow.”
The old goblin’s eyes seemed to fade and his expression became distant.
“He stood like a god to us then, glowing with light and colors I had never seen, even the oldest amongst us then had never seen anything like it before.”
Gregor flicked his stick at the Nimbus again and it slowly changed to show the elf shining with colors. A whirling matrix of reds, purples, silver, and gold circled him in a tempest of a storm as the colors flowed around and through this body.
“But he was too late for they came with spears and swords, hammers and clubs. They came with fire and death, Teeth and horns. Mountains, like the elf, taller than three of us stood on top of one another. Faces of white and red, hair of black and brown, yellow and red.”
Gregor raised his hands high as the small group huddled closer together as the fire spat and crackled and silence reigned.
“We stood ready as ever we could. Meer children in the face of such horrors. The sounds of their cries still haunt me today, like thunder and blood they came and Tarrin stood unmoving to our plight like the statues we carve from the rocks.
Unobtainable, lost to the everflow. Tenor the mighty lent us courage in the face of that death, with his mighty hammer he watched unflinchingly as they came running for the cave.
When they reached our trenches and pikes we thought, nay we hoped that it would be enough to slow or stop them but it was like a toy to a child. They jumped out trenches as easily as we would a crack in the rock.”
A little girl Goblin jumped off her seat and run behind her father as Gregor jumped to his feet to enact the scene he told. He pulled his stick through his hand as if it gave him some resistance.
“They pulled at our pikes and turned them against us. Throwing them at us like spears and arrows. Never had we felt such fear, our hope had been squashed as quick as a Nextus beetle scurrying under a rock.
But still, he stood with his mighty hammer in his hand ready for the first to fall under its weight.”
Gregor flicked his stick at the blue nimbus and the scene changed to one with alone figure silhouetted on a rocky precipice.
A huge bulging arms held a heavy hammer that shone with a faint light, crude marks were etched in the handle. Long hair trailed out the side of a shoulder like a waterfall of dark liquid.
“My father was a brave man indeed, me. Well not so much, I was only a babe then, no bigger than you my dear.”
He pointed to the hiding child as she peered around her father’s rounded shoulder. Her blue eyes showed a little fear but also a fair amount of curiosity.
“The first one of these ‘men’ stepped foot on the rocks below and up their surged. Blood-curdling screams and shouts proceeded them like the howls of the deepest holes. But still, he stood defiantly against such odds.”
A trickle of blue bioluminescent slime dripped to the floor by the fire and the crowd looked up to the congregation of flubb above them. Their blue light casting an eerie glow on the storytelling.
“Tenor raised his hammer for the first strike and down it came with a crushing blow, we saw then that these creatures could be hurt and if they could be hurt then they could be killed. We raised our folks and our pikes and we started to stab at the beasts.”
A few gasps rang out in the cave as Gregor thrust his stick out again and again in mock battle.
“And then they stopped, just as suddenly as they came.”
Gregor splayed his long bony finger in the air as his bushes eyebrows rose high and
his eyes went so wide they could see the yellows at the sides.
“Somehow they couldn’t see us anymore. They looked about like the nuggen’s trying to find their lost gold. But still, we stood before them. It was then that Tarrin the elf was by our side. He had given us the veil and no longer could these ‘men’ find us.”
The old Goblin sat back to his seat breathing heavily and wriggled his saggy bottom until he was comfortable again. The little girl had crept out from behind her father and now he hugged her to his side. The small blob had fallen asleep under his mother’s arm and snored peacefully unaware of the history being foretold.
“Tarrin stayed with us for a time. He helped us create Nextus, our home, and he taught a few of us the secrets of the everflow and how it’s magic could keep the veil intact so we never had to fear man again.”
The old goblin rested his sagging chin on the handle of the stick and watched the small fire dancing before him. Lost to the memory of what once was.
“I wonder if my old friend is still walking the Toplands. I hope he is because with him up there, I know we are safe down here.”
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