A Book Of The Lands: The One Who Would Be King

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He resumed packing, violently thrusting needed things into his bag. He knew he would be glad to be rid of the life that had been thrust upon him — no matter what the outcome. It was completely draining, always feeling like a gutless little traitor. Of course, the once proud Duke Daeron Lahroan — Djar’s father — would have been proud of him. He would have said that it was better that he served his people in any way possible, as lives would be spared and that was paramount. And that was what mostly kept him going. That, and just a small measure of hope; hope that something would happen to drive the goblins out of the great city.

Thinking of his father brought tears to his eyes, but this time he choked them back. Usually, the tears were followed by sobs, but he simply had no time for that now. He had to resign himself to the fact that his family was gone, murdered by the leathery-green force that now patrolled their castle. But, now, maybe he could do something about it.

The ever-battling goblins had spread their army just a bit too thin. Increasingly, they had trouble keeping the provincial peoples in check. More and more landowners missed their tax deadlines, and Karn’s division found itself busy with the sometimes petty and ofttimes mundane administrative tasks of occupation — nothing the violent goblins relished. They were much better at ransacking than running a city. Also, vandalism, looting of the goblin stores, and acts of ’treason’ plagued the conquerors. They were finding that it was one matter to overrun a castle, quite another to run the entire duchy with any semblance of efficiency. And not only was controlling the city and surrounding countryside a problem for the aggressive goblins, they were also expending a lot of bodies in their campaign to overtake Fort Durn. Djar’s situation was bleak, but he had reason for his small bit of hope.

Djar’s job — in the vast scheme of goblin ideals — was to explain to the landowners that the new administration deserved the tribute, and that he was there to collect it before the tax department was forced to pay a visit. Djar usually chose not to explain the deserved part, but he never forgot to tell of the risks of non-payment. If he didn’t get what the goblins were after, his visit was eventually followed by a visit from the goblin version of an undertaker. So even though Djar felt like a coward and traitor sometimes, deep down he knew his calm reasoning had indeed saved many lives. The majority of his people were farmers, not warriors.

Almost all the fighting men and women had been killed in the battle for the city, or had retreated and later headed north to regroup with the army at Fort Durn where they now waged a desperate battle for their own lives.

After retrieving Dybol from its hiding place, underneath a loose floorboard where it had rested since the occupation began, he strapped it to his back under his woolen travel cloak. He ran over to Cookie’s room, pausing just for a second in the dimly-lit hallway to make sure there were no goblin sentries about. Though it wasn’t likely that he would be searched, it was important that he be extra careful. If caught in the palace with the magic talisman, it would mean a quick end to his plans, and he would lose the priceless and essential sword that had been in the Lahroan family for countless generations.

For the past month or so, the goblins usually let him go about his daily tasks in peace, only bothering to give him orders each morning. He then had to report his progress to Karn every evening. Though he had begun to exhibit a bit more rebelliousness, it was not anything the goblins considered serious, especially after he quelled several small uprisings. And even though several months before, on his twentieth birthday, he had taken his rites of manhood, he was still seen as a boy — The Little Princeling — and really nothing to be all that concerned with. Hopefully, this underestimation would soon haunt the conquerors.

"Ready?" whispered the pretty, brown-eyed nymph of a woman. She was suspended between the top of the doorway and the ceiling like some kind of huge, cute spider. Among her many talents, she could climb nearly anything — and she regularly practiced, though it was sometimes disconcerting to Djar. Or maybe he was just a bit jealous. 

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