Gottschalk, Gorm, Ramzeus, and Laurissa Austral moved through the now-chaotic town, more cries of villagers dying erupting in the distance. It was clear that Caelum Mount had begun to fall, that the cultists had disrupted it too greatly and let too many goblins in.
Gottschalk was not surprised.
Though it seemed like months ago, his own homeland of Dinglesfuhr had been overrun only recently in much the same way. Granted, Dinglesfrau Mekla had been much more open than Captain Salpinx in allowing the goblins in, even welcoming them as ‘New Friends’, but the end result was still the same. It was rumored also that Salpinx had been neutralized by C’nnamon the talking donkey and had been lost in the Draining Swamp.
In any case, another western human enclave had fallen- all in the name of ‘Fighting Amaranthinism’.
Gottschalk had heard mention of other humans to the east, towards Ruined Dee-Cee, but little more. He hoped that they were faring better.
Suddenly, another group of cultists emerged from behind a storefront. They stared at the interlopers, leaving only a few of their Eternally Repentant Human Males behind in their Holy Chambers of Echoes.
“Oh, look,” said one. “More Amaranthinists!”
“Where?” said Gorm looking around quickly, not grasping the cultists’ insinuation.
“YOU!” they screamed, “ANYONE WHO DISAGREES WITH US ARE AMARANTHINISTS!” their voices reaching a crescendo shriek.
It seemed little point in debating them in the matter.
More cultists swarmed in then, scores of them. Like the others, their hair was dyed blue and they bore rainbow garb and signs of ‘Peace’, ‘Love’, and ‘Tolerance’. Unfortunately though, their faces indicated nothing of the sort, for they also bore bricks and metal poles.
“Hoplites! Hoplites protect us!” cried out Laurissa.
“They’re not coming,” said Ramzeus flatly.
Apparently, with Captain Salpinx now removed, the hoplite watchmen had been given the order to stand down. Even though they were only a few yards across the street and clad in full armor, they shrugged. It appeared that the four of them wouldn’t be getting any protection from the Watch today- not when cultists claimed you were an Amaranthinist!
Rummaging through her pack, Laurissa then pulled out a small box; fell lights arose from it and its warped divinations. “I must confer with Ghul-Ghul to know what to do!”
Seeing what she was doing, Gottschalk scolded her. “Don’t you know that it’s evil? It lies to you while saying it does nothing wrong! It selects only what perspective it wishes to show you; it works to enslave our people!”
The woman shook her head, frustrated. “I know: I just... just can’t stop!”
Gottschalk tried to help Laurissa wrestle it from her grasp, but the cultists could not resist seeing Apparent Amaranthinists with their backs turned.
“Here they come!” shouted Ramzeus in warning to the others. The cultists shrieked as they charged, dead looks in their eyes as they exercised their false-righteous Tolerance.
Reacting quickly, Gorm strode up to protect his friends. It was then that the hoplite watchmen moved in. But rather than help the heavily-outnumbered small group of four, they made to apprehend Gorm instead!
With their barbaric protection now neutralized, the cultists laughed and sprayed some toxic substance right into Ramzeus’s eyes. “I hope you go blind!” one screamed.
“Death to Amaranthinists!” said another as she struck Laurissa with a metal pole.
“We cannot Tolerate Your Intolerance!” said a third bearing a sign promising to ‘Pummel Amaranthinists in the Name of Peace’.
Despite himself, Gottschalk was stunned. Yes, he and Gorm had faced Helltowne troops, vicious goblins, bizarre demons, Equalitarian harpies, the Boas Constrictor, orcish god impersonators, and more before, but here was a crowd of humans ruthlessly attacking his unarmed friends, all in the name of ‘Fighting Hatred’.
His weapons had been taken from him in the melee: he had no choice but to debate them.
“Is it ever possible for humans to stand up for themselves as a group and not be called Amaranthine?”
At that, the cultists stopped attacking Ramzeus and Laurissa for a moment; even Gorm and the hoplite watchmen stopped grappling too.
“Silence, Racist!” growled Toxin-sprayer.
“Go Home, Human Supremacist!” yelled Pole-beater.
“Amaranthine.... or Amaranthine-sympathizer at least!” shrieked Sign-bearer.
His question had stopped them from attacking his friends for a moment. Ramzeus and Laurissa took the opportunity to move away and assist Gorm.
“Why?” continued Gottschalk nervously. “Would you call an orc who wanted to preserve its people those things? How about a dwarf? Would they be ‘Orcish Supremacists’ or would you tell a dwarf to “Go Home” from lands that were his? If humans can never advocate for themselves, then won’t they just become enslaved, belittled, and die off?”
The cultists had mixed reactions to this. Though Gottschalk was no bard, Toxin-sprayer immediately covered his ears, trying to keep Gottschalk’s Heretical questions from reaching his brain. Sign-bearer became berserk, face ashen-white, contorted in fury, making furious threats about tearing out his tongue and ruining his employ and that of all his family. Pole-beater simply strode up and took a swing at him.
In any case, it appeared that cultists didn’t care for certain questions, no matter how thought-provoking they could be.
Gottschalk began to back away, looking for a place to flee the crowd.
“Oh, look at the Human Supremacist now!” they said. “The Coward is Running Away! See how Amaranthinists run!” The cultists moved in to kill the lone, unarmed man.
The distraction had been enough though. Now rearmed and free, Gorm strode in and used his axe to clear the way, cultist blood splattering all about the place.
The other three ran then, knowing full well that they would be blamed by whoever remained, ignoring the fact that they were only trying to defend Gottschalk from an angry mob.
They reached the southern edge of the city and waited for Gorm to catch up. Ramzeus still grasped his eyes in pain, pus oozing from them. Laurissa had a nasty wound on her head and it seemed a broken arm. The haunted land of Monjaksen lay before them
Gottschalk looked back to the north; a tear came to his eye. What had been a peaceful, safe place only this morning was now a fell zone where cultists and goblins got to beat and kill any and all they didn’t like. When he and Gorm had arrived this morning, he had quietly hoped that he might remain there- a place to dwell after cultists had ruined Dinglesfuhr.
The words of Pole-bearer came back to him then ‘Go Home, Human Supremacist!’
But where was his home supposed to be?
Next week: The Hacks of Gorm, Part XXV! And also, audio to go with new episodes (including this one)!