Guien History: On the Subject of the Vilest and Most Detestable Hobgoblin Race.

On the Subject of the Vilest and Most Detestable Hobgoblin Race.

By Lady Betheny Agredda of Old-Hold

 

There are few races upon Guien for which revulsion is a near uniform reaction when asked to describe them. It is the received wisdom that the Hobgoblin race is a blight upon the world, a predatory and quintessential menace to civilisation.

A general physical description of a hobgoblin is difficult, for they show more variation than between the human race. Even on the individual level, there is little unifying about them. In general, they are hunchbacked, with scaly skin the colour of week old corpses, claws and fangs, and eyes of piercing, cat-like luminosity. Some have spines, others shaggy pelts, or ghostly pale skin, jutting tusks or needle-sharp teeth. There are some that burrow, and have rodent teeth and blind eyes, others with loping arms for climbing. There are as many forms of the hobgoblin as there are fish in the sea, or birds in the air. Their bloodlines have been inbred and corrupted for thousands of years at this stage, each new generation breeding a new slew of malformed monsters and mutants.

Many of the various monsters of antique bestiaries were, in fact, misidentified hobgoblins. Trolls, long thought a race of malevolent giants, are but elder hobgoblin specimens, grown swollen with evil longevity.

Everything about the hobgoblin seems inimical to life. Their blood is a noxious poison, black and viscous as treacle, their saliva corrosive. Eve their bodies rot but slowly, for even the worms and flies in the ground find their flesh distasteful. Scripture suggests the reason for this is that they are of the Utterdark, and are thus repellent to the world crafted by the gods (be they the gods of Selmyra, the Alloyed Pantheons, or others). I take a more practical, secular approach; their blood is a defence mechanism, as a porcupine’s spines, or a toad’s odious slimes.

On every continent of Guien there were once hobgoblins. Every history of every culture bound within the pages of the library of Old-Hold has mention of some manner of imp or gremlin, a fanged army of nocturnal monsters who oppose civilisation. In modern times, only Magnalla and Katahia have large populations of Hobgoblins; the relentless march of human progress on Oellir has quite comprehensive squashed the Hobgoblins in those lands. Some mythologies claim they are creatures born from the Hellish Utterdark itself, a kind of corporeal version of a Djinn or a demon. In Qortian legend, they were made by the gods to be a common enemy for the four founding races of the Lress, Humans, the Gnome and the Aelf, to unite against, to bring a peace through common hatred. If this was true, clearly the Qortian gods failed, for war remains the eternal lodestone of Guien.

I was very taken with the work of Ektor Kallibosi, Lector of the Akashian chapter of the Halogen Magi of Achevin, who took it upon himself to study hobgoblins, which once haunted the Warden Mountains. * He studied not just the bodies of the hobgoblins he was delivered, but also their animus… their souls (also known as the ‘sprite-spark’ amongst Katahian scholars). He came to the conclusion that Hobgoblins do not have individual souls; rather, hobgoblin-kind were only ever imbued with one soul, and as each new hobgoblin is born, this soul is stretched all the thinner. This might explain why it is only in numbers that the hobgoblins seem to display brilliance, and that their leaders become swift witted trolls, and their very smallest gremlins are hollowed out vessels of resentment and spite, without the will to oppose their masters.

Hobgoblins breed quickly, but mature slowly, which both makes them hard to eradicate, yet consistently underestimated. Because the majority of their race are adolescent beasts, they seem to be a diminutive race of spiteful imps, to be easily dispatched by valiant, upright men.

This would be an error, as proved in the reign of King Aaren’s father, with the rise of the Archbrute, which sparked the hobgoblin wars. Modern histories are filled with the accounts of Crown-Prince Aaren and his chosen brotherhood against the hobgoblin uprisings, of which my father was a part. Only through great sacrifice and pain were the armies of the Archbrute laid low, the Goblin King finally slain by Bulwif of Stelhold in single combat. **

For my part, I cannot claim to be an authority on the subject of hobgoblins. Due to my infirmity, I have seldom strayed beyond high castle walls. The closest I came to a live hobgoblin was on one occasion, when I was ten, and my legs still supported my weight with only the support of a cane. I travelled down to the dungeons, where my father had captured one of their breed. It was a malnourished, shrivelled thing, already dying when I saw it. Nobody was allowed to approach it, for it tore at itself constantly, using the drooling blood as a weapon to keep its captors at bay. Though it understood common trade tongue, it never deigned to speak it. It babbled in guttural tones, cursing us all until its final death rattle. It was only in death that the thing’s terrible yellow eyes stopped shining.

Though I know little of hobgoblins, I know enough to realise they must be fought. They refuse to negotiate, and think nothing of capturing or enslaving humans. They imbue nothing with beauty, but built cunning and cruel things. Though I think it is debatable whether they are born evil, their weak wills allow them to be governed easily by the strong will of evil beings, such as the various Lords of Travesty to have plagued Guien since the Starfall, or even the Fleshless Prince himself, cursed be his creed.

If the world is a fairy tale, the hobgoblin is the monster in the woods.

*(The Warden Mountain Hobgoblin clans were exterminated by the Tarnzak, only a few hundred years after Ektor’s studies concluded.)

**(There are other accounts which suggest it was one of Bulwif’s knights who actually did the deed, putting a lance through the Goblin King’s back whilst he was distracted, but far be it from me to come between an Earl of Katahia and his pride… The Archbrute’s skull can still be viewed in the banquet hall at Stelhold incidentally, if you ever have the inclination to visit.)

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~ by lordlucan1 on October 27, 2018.

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