I’m writing this from the bottom of a bottle of very hard, very strong, very RURAL liquor. It’s probably mostly apples. I’m in an inn somewhere outside of New Port, pondering the horror of having to go back because the boat we’re “booked” in on (bribing is booking) leaves from there. I’m drinking to get drunk and before I pass out I have a deadline. Because I am a responsible journalist who is very aware of the long arm of the editor and his armed guards masquerading as PAs.
Why am I drinking, I hear you ask, gentle and constant reader? And you may well ask, because you, oh soft-handed one, with your fragrant collars and fine haircuts have not had to fight your way out of a not-nearly-derelict-enough sewer pipe, battling against animate fungus which are a lot cuter (and smaller) in Miss Hyacinths Book of Flower Fairies. Just one part of my day that you, pure soul, have not had to sample and so retain your innocence.
Well let me spoil it for you. In fact, for all of you fucks. Because I’m here to spoil everyone’s innocence. With the truth. The horrific, unvarnished, torn from a tree truth.
The world will live in is fucked. It’s a façade of bucolic delights where bonny faced children scamper prettily through the streets of shining cities and everyone calls each other “citizen” and the guards helmets gleam brightly in the dawn of a new age.
Let me tell you about the world. Gather round, children and I will edu-fucking-cate you. Everything you have been told is a lie. These metallic dragons, that soar above us are our masters. There is no freedom from their reach. We live only as long and only as well as they deem it necessary to fulfil their aeons long campaign of hate against their sisters, the Chromatic. It’s a battle of dragons and we are just the pawns in between. Everyone.
Here is a story, a story in which I don’t come out too well, but neither does anyone else. Because we’re humanoid and we’ve got the short end of the stick.
Under the city, in New Port, a solitary White Dragon is pretty much all the stands between the endless death of the One Eyed Queen and the unknowing citizens. Whilst above, the cronies of the great and good (peppered with demon worshippers) party the nights away and do nothing about the overpaid, corrupt jackbooted guards who accost anyone who “matches a profile” hastily drawn on paper. The paladins of the Wyrm train for a fight that will never come, because they only leave their forecourts to arrest innocent bystanders for crimes that can never be proven.
The only way to live a good life is to live in ignorance and seclusion. And that is what these “good” people do. With their nice houses, and jolly, crackling fireplaces for roasting chestnuts. They brush everything under the carpet and pretend it does not exist.
But I have seen it. I have seen the half orcs stopped in the street for the “crime” of looking green. I have seen the raids on the bars where the people who don’t look human enough go for a bit of warmth and company. And I have seen the blood on the floor in the aftermath of these raids. It is only good fortune that myself and my companions were able to stop one of these insults to hospitality. No doubt saving many lives.
Yes. city guards have died by our hands. But these city guards protected a wealth of gold for a bloated bureaucracy that buoyed up demon worshippers and allowed evil necromancers to raise almost an army of undead under their very noses. That’s what happens when guards spend their time chasing a falsely accused group of five people rather than do their fucking job.
Yes, we murdered a city official. And not just because he looked like a copy of our very own paladin and was probably birthed from a demonic infestation in the town he thinks was his home. But because he represented all that is wrong with this world. A smiling face. That sits atop a lie.
And yes, we stole all the money from the vaults to give to our contact in the underworld because we believe that those the people in power call “gangs” are actually better placed to make this city a home for everyone. Not just those born into the right families who went to the right schools.
And this is where the moral comes in, my darlings. This is my fucking epiphany, even though my hands are shaking and the drink is spilling over the crappy paper as I write. Because it was horrific. Everything that we have done. All the blood. All the death. The screams of those guards as the giant spiders took them away, alive, but bound in sticky webs. They will stay with me forever. The way the dopplegangers face looked, even though I know him to be a demonic shell, not really a person, yet so much like a person. Lifeless. Body hanging strangely.
But I must stay strong. Because I know that we are doing the right thing. Some will die. More will die. But we are doing the right thing. Even just tonight, we saved the farming village where we are staying from a raiding party of merfolk and still found the fucking time to save some idiot thrall from the predations of a creepy vampire.
I’ve spent my life campaigning against this sort of thing. At every protest. Using my words and my influence to try and make change. And nothing, nothing has been even partly as effective as the tip of my sword or the true magical power of my bardic voice. I will keep using the pen. But I must also use the sword.
There is only one way to rid the world of this stain. Only one way to ensure that the next age, the 14th, will be free of the arrogant corruption of the metallic dragons. And that is to wipe it all clean, which means getting very, very dirty first.
We have done terrible things. We will keep doing terrible things. The present may judge us villains, as those in power must do in order to call themselves “heroes”.
I have seen the work of the so-called Heroic Icons.
The Elf King, gloating over the captured, tormented form of Our Mother the Green, given as a toy, a plaything in to cover up the bargains made with the Dwarf Queen, to silence the Dark Elves forever, to hide the truth about She Who Is War and the nature of the Half Orcs.
Can’t you hear the Great Gold Snake hissing down on her puppet, The Empress who waves, eyes glassy, from a high turret that you will never, ever reach because you are poor and born in the wrong place and your will die as you have lived. Hated. Weak. Branded a thief, a liar, a monster because you are different.
But we are here for you. The villains. Your heroes.
You are welcome.