Wednesday 27 August 2014

The Reformation of the Orlick Goblins of Atmos

So legend goes, the Goblin race was born of a contradiction. Graak forged the Goblins from fire and darkness, law and chaos, a cacophony of screams and absolute silence.  

The goblins grew quickly, not only numerically but technologically. The human tribes that occupied the coastal regions of the island of Atmos co-existed peacefully with the goblins initially, until the expansion of both cultures began to cause tension. Both cultures traded with the orcs that sailed the great oceans. The Orlick Empire, as the goblins styled their disparate holdings, grew rich and decadent based on the commands Graak issued his spawn: Build empires, accumulate wealth and power, enslave and exploit the weak.

Despite calling themselves an empire, the Orlick goblins were anything but. With no central government, ruler or bureaucracy even calling it a kingdom would be a stretch. This changed as conflict erupted with the humans downriver. On the island, huge amounts of rain fall on the western mountains, but very little on the side of the island that is habitable. Both the goblins and humans depended on the rivers and lakes that flow from the western mountains to the ocean so when the goblins began to dam the rivers, war erupted soon after. This created a problem for the Orlick goblins as their human foes were vastly more organised despite being technologically inferior. An accord was reached whereby each landed goblin would provide troops and supplies to the newly formed army. Until the Reformation, this military structure was as much government and bureaucracy as the goblins would need at a national level.   

A decade after contact with Nocte, an aristocrat named Klaas took the typical cruelty of the Atmos goblins a step too far. His slaves which numbered in the thousands by and large worked in despicable conditions in the coal mines of Gildenof. Goblin and human slaves permanently shackled together worked 18 hour days without break, slaves were expected to eat, drink and crap on the go. If a slave collapsed or died they weren't removed until sleep time. This changed when a friend of Klass visited the mines and was horrified by what he saw. The friend, Unger, did own slaves and no one could have accused him of kindness toward them, but it is certainly true that something changed in him when Unger visited the Gildenof mines.

Since almost the beginning of time, there had been 'defective' goblins who rejected Graak and his cruelty, small cells of resistance occasionally sprung up but amounted to nothing. Unger became one of these defectives when he visited the mine and saw the atrocities his friend committed upon his slaves. Returning home, Unger sold his slaves and assets. With the proceeds he began a campaign with the stated aim of freeing the goblins from the hatred and cruelty that bound them. Unger's earliest attempts were met with ridicule, then mounting derision as people realised he was serious. Despite several early assassination attempts Unger's movement spread openly. Goblin society, despite its political and social machinations, did not really know what to do with a movement so ideologically different from mainstream society and lacked the governmental structures to deal with it. In a society with few laws but a massive bureaucracy, a strong military but one entirely engaged in the constant warring with the Arant humans downriver, the Goblin Temperance League (as they became to be known) was able to grow relatively unchecked. Early growth was driven mainly by Edda, a rich merchant who had quietly been building her own network of goblins that sympathized with Unger’s cause. She built her business as a trader in seeds and dyes her fortune came from her second concern, the largest network of messengers in Orlick. These messengers allowed her to deliver the revolutionary message across the empire and also hinder the communications of her rivals such as the priesthood.

The Priests of Graak, did see the threat of the Goblin Temperance League but the many factions were too fragmented and unwilling to join forces. Their communications and attempts at organisation had previously not come to much and with Edda’s runner network able to disrupt their attempts at organisation, each faction was simply too small to pose a threat to the League. Still, many key figures were assassinated by the priesthood. Unger survived many attempts however, and his followers built his image to that of a saviour of the entire goblin race.

In the end, it was Klass, Ungers' friend who made the movements victory assured. He made a martyr of Ungers by personally striking him down while Ungers was giving a speech on morality to over ten thousand goblins. The news spread like lightning. Assassination was not uncommon in goblin society but Unger was different. His death sparked a violent uprising of millions of slaves and free goblins that gradually overthrew the priests of Graak, powerful opposing goblins and what little there was of the military left in the empire. The buildup of mostly non-violent speeches, influence building and moralising happened quickly, over the space of five years the goblin society transitioned from one that had no comprehension of morality, to one where such a discussion was possible. The violence triggered by Unger’s death would last for over a decade. During this period tens of thousands of goblins fled through the portal to the world beyond and many even settled in Nocte. The Reformation, bloody though it was remained committed to basic freedoms and rights for all goblins, basing many of their new ideas on the orcs they traded with and the humans they met through the portal. The orcs democratically elected a captain and leader of their ships so the goblins modelled their own new government after the orcish custom.

Although the early democratic experiments of the goblins were wildly inequitable, despotic at times and at best chaotic, it had its own influence on the city. The refugees that settled in the city quickly became foundational members of the blossoming guilds of the city. Many of the rituals and organizational structures of today’s guilds have their origin in these early Orlicken experiments in democracy.

A goblin today will speak of a new age of goblin enlightenment. The goblin race has transcended its origins as the spawn of an evil deity. Of course, centuries of cultural conditioning are difficult to overcome, many underground cults still exist that worship Graak and his servants. The city its self is not a utopia. Massive cruelty, inequality and poverty exist, but at least the goblins believe that all is not right and strive to improve the world around them.

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