"What do you mean they're your 'family'? I'm your family, Gnek. I'm your only family," Nick growled.

Gnek shrugged. "Found another one."

Stammering, Nick grabbed his head and frowned. "You can't just—explain. Right now. I—none of this makes any lick of sense."

As soon as Nick demanded an explanation, Flotch growled with frustration and rolled his eyes. Sholya, meanwhile, exhaled as she walked away and retreated over to a corner of the church.

"I'll be over here napping. Wake me up when Gnek is done blabbing," she said, exasperated.

Flotch left as well, walking over towards the small bonfire that had been built. He sat down in front of the fire and removed a stick hovering over the flames roasting a dead bird. The male human and Mennec, however, stood beside Gnek as the goblin walked towards Nick and exhaled.

"Nick…you wanna know what I did a few days ago?"

"If it'll help me figure out what's going on, sure!"

Gnek nodded. "I killed a squirrel. Think it was female, maybe some guardian for a bunch of smaller squirrels. I just up and snapped its neck."

Nick held out his hands and squinted as he looked at Gnek, obviously confused. "THAT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE!"

"That's the point."

Nick grabbed his head again and inhaled sharply, his brain on the verge of exploding as he shut his eyes. "This isn't…that's fucking ridiculous."

"I waited. I was expecting to be punished. I looked up in the sky, waiting for the gods to punish me. I killed an innocent creature for no reason. Surely some form of karma should come around and bite me in the ass, right?"

When Nick opened his eyes, he saw Gnek grinning wickedly as he shook his head. "Uh-uh. Nothing happened, brother. Nothing at all. That squirrel did nothing wrong at all, and its life was taken away for, what? Because something bigger than it wanted to see what would happen afterwards? Because some larger predator just didn't give a shit?"

"You were the one who killed it!"

Gnek held up a hand. "Let me finish. See, what I did to that squirrel—it just reaffirms my theory. Something I discovered a few years ago."

"Which is what? That we can get away with killing cute animals for no reason?"

"That there's no point to life. There never was. There never will be. Life is just…a pointless series of events happening that people will inevitably forget about. It's generation upon generation of races and species coming and going, ultimately becoming extinct, because people aren't capable of giving up their self-destructive, violent tendencies. How can we—"

"Okay, stop," Nick said, holding up his own hand, before he pointed at Mennec and the old man. "What did you people do? Did you brainwash him? Did you cast dark magic on my brother after you knocked us out? This-this isn't my brother talking! He'd never say something like this to me!"

"Not to your face, goblin," Mennec pointed out.

"Fuck you," Nick spat out, before walking close to Gnek. "This isn't you, brother. I know it's not. You know it's not. Where is all this coming from?"

Gnek backed away from his brother and scratched his head. Then he started to pace left and right, his bare feet slapping against the cold stone.

"You know I wanted to be a scholar. I wanted to become one of the few goblins in this world who made a name for himself, not just another illegible, smelly rascal only fit for picking through garbage and scooping animal dung off the streets. I studied hard. I worked hard. I spent all my time reading as many books as I could, teaching myself magic, absorbing as much history as I possibly could. But I…I realized something during my studies. The 'history' I was learning? It was wrong. Inaccurate. Sacrilegious even. Great scholars of the past were written-out to be drunken abusers; horrendous tyrants are praised by humans because their crimes were covered up; stilios are still believed to be a horrific crossbreed of a human mating with a dragon, despite the fact that all stilios are related to common lizards and amphibians! All this inaccurate shit, all this faulty information—and people out there believe it all without even attempting to question anything!"

Gnek huffed as he stopped walking and shook his head. "I went crazy. I almost had a breakdown. I was so fed up with all these abhorrent history books that I started ripping them apart in the middle of a public library. And then I torched the whole building. I had to. I couldn't live another day knowing that the world is being spoon-fed shit and genuinely believing that it's chocolate."

Gnek paused again as he closed his eyes and rubbed his head. "All these people, Nick…all of them. They spent their lives trying to accomplish so many feats, trying to make a name for themselves. And how do we treat them? We lie about what they did. We make up information. We fabricate their wondrous achievements. Worst of all, many of us just blatantly ignore them, and let these fantastic inventors, scholars, and scientists fade from existence. And it's only getting worse, brother. When I finished burning down that library…I knew…goddamn it, I knew."

"You knew what?" Nick asked gently.

"That it's all pointless! That everything everyone does in life doesn't amount to anything! People live, people die! Rinse, repeat! It's an endless fucking cycle, Nick, and I'm sick of it! And I'm not just gonna stand here and be part of this-this twisted machine that fools people into thinking that they have a purpose in life!" Gnek huffed again and glared at Nick. "Of course, I don't expect you to understand. You always spent your days doing arbitrary bullshit, sucking on your toes, lighting your farts on fire with the other goblins, climbing trees just to see if you could reach the top; it's all mindless shit!"

"Why do you think I did it?"

Gnek backed away, gazing at Nick with shock. "You—wait, what?"

"I understand everything you're telling me. The only problem is that you're being a goddamn cynic about it. So what if life has no meaning behind it? If that's the case, do whatever the fuck you want! Go fuck a horse, go swimming in the sea with giant squid, go lick a dragon's anus—who the fuck cares?! It's all meaningless anyway, right?"

As Nick looked around at the people in the church, he scoffed and folded his arms. "Is that what this is? Is this what you meant by your new 'family'? You wanted to be around people who share the same thought process as you?"

Mennec turned and snorted as he looked down at Gnekvizz. "Thought you said your brother was a retard? Seems like he's piecing all this together easily."

Nick flinched when he heard the word "retard," but he restrained himself, eager to hear more of what Gnek had to say. Gnek scowled as he looked up at Mennec before resuming his monologue.

"These people, yes, they do share similar ideals, just for different reasons. And the reason why we're together isn't just about our thought process. No…no, we're on a mission, brother. One that'll finally break this pathetic cycle known as 'life' and make everyone realize how futile their existence is."

Mennec looked at Sholya in the corner and noticed that she really did fall asleep. He whistled as shrilly as possible, and the brown-haired woman grunted as she woke up. Flotch was still eating his meal, not paying attention to Gnek's rambling. Nick took a huge breath before he swallowed and curled his fingers.

"So what is this 'mission,' Gnek? You gonna turn everyone into a pessimist like you?"

"No. Remember when we started this adventure, you asked me how powerful that stone was?"

"Yeah, and you said resurrection was possible."

Gnek smirked. "Not resurrection. Summoning. We're gonna use that stone Stilyk found, and the four other ones that were scattered across the world, to summon Smirvlak!"

"…Smirvlak?"

Nodding, Gnek chuckled. "That's right."

"Smirvlak the demon? That Smirvlak?"

"That's the one."

Nick took a few steps backwards and exhaled slowly. Then he bent over and pressed his hands against his knees, chuckling uncontrollably and shaking his head.

"…Funny! That's just…that's hysterical, brother! You pretended to get us kidnapped, stand here and explain that you lost faith in life, and then tell me you wanna bring a fiery demon into this world? This is all just an elaborate joke! It…it is! It has to be!"

"I'm not joking, brother."

"Yeah, you are. Resurrecting a demon is not possible."

"It is with the stones we've been collecting. The five of us discovered that Smirvlak had five stones that he used to wield his deadly sorcery throughout the land. When he was banished to the Underworld, the stones were all scattered across the world. Thousands upon thousands of people have gone around looking for just one stone, because a proper sorcerer can use it to take over an entire country. You saw what I could do with the yellow one; why do you think those gnolls were so hell-bent on getting it back?"

"This is a joke," Nick snarled in disbelief. "This is just a fucking joke! You expect me to stand here and believe all this?"

"Yeah," Gnek said bluntly.

"ARE YOU FUCKING SHITTING ME?!"

Nick held out his hands and huffed. "Okay, okay, you want me to believe that you've lost faith in life? Fine. You want me to believe you found your own posse of pessimists to associate with you? Fine! But you cannot expect me to believe that you want to bring Smirvlak into this world! He'll torch the entire planet—with you five on it! Did that thought never cross any of your minds?!"

Gnek grinned and shook his head. "Smirvlak won't do that. He'll reward us. For so long, Smirvlak has been locked away, like some feral beast trapped in a cage. The five of us have the keys that will free him; he will bless us, brother! We'll be his five generals in his reign of chaos across the world. And when we eventually die, we get to spend all of eternity in Hell doing whatever the fuck we want."

Nick covered his eyes and shook his head. "I can't believe this. This isn't…I'm dreaming," Nick said, desperate for a logical answer. "Yes…y-yes, yes. That's it. I'm dreaming."

The younger goblin slowly crouched down, shaking and grabbing his head, hoping that he'd eventually snap back to a proper form of reality. "Uh-huh! …That's it. This is a dream. There's no way that I suffered through all of…through…"

And then Nick started to piece everything together. He thought back to all those times Gnek went away, about how he never told Nick where he planned on going, about how he'd be gone for months at a time without even trying to send a letter back to him. Nick let go of his head and stood up as he stared at Gnek.

"You son of a bitch," he growled. "That's why you left me. You weren't out trying to avoid me. You were out looking for those stones!"

Gnek chuckled. "I lucked out this time around! How fortunate it was that Stilyk arrived in Tallak's shop mere minutes before we were about to leave!"

"But why didn't you just leave me like you left me all the other times? Why bring me here to begin with?"

Gnek shrugged. "You're over twenty now, brother. You have no one. Nothing. Your only family left is standing in front of you. And…and I want you to join us."

"WHAT!"

The aging man huffed. "This is a waste of time, Gnekvizz. Just kill him so we can start looking for the last stone."

The large man removed his sword, but Gnek raised his hand and gestured for him to sit down. Afterwards, Gnek walked in front of Nick and put a hand on his left shoulder.

"Think about it, Nick. This is happening. Nothing's going to stop us; we only have to find one more stone. And when Smirvlak is brought back, he will raze this entire country, if not the whole planet. But if you're with me, if you're fighting alongside me…he'll spare you. We can conqueror this entire planet together, side by side, brother by brother! You've always sided with me with whatever I've done…you could be my protégé, my underling! Wouldn't you like that?"

Nick blinked. "Gnek. Do you even hear yourself? Is no one in this room even trying to fathom what this goblin is saying? Look, Gnek, you want me to be your sidekick? Sure, fine. You want me to help you and these twats destroy the world because you think there's no purpose in life? I can't do that."

"Yes, you will."

"No, I'm—"

"Yes, you will!" Gnek snarled, sounding like a wild dog.

Nick didn't respond. He just shook his head slowly as tears welled in his eyes. "No, brother…I can't help you," he said, his voice breaking. "What happened? How…how can you possibly think this is the right thing to do?"

Gnek took his hand off Nick and shoved him aside. "I spent the past decade taking care of you. I coddled you whenever you broke down sobbing over our parents dying; I protected you whenever other goblins bullied you; I fed you; I played with you when you were lonely; I even sang to you when you needed help going to sleep! You owe me, brother! I didn't waste the past ten years nursing you just for you to say no to me now!"

"Is that all I am to you? Just this…this thing that you expect to obey you? What…what about our parents? Huh? What were they to you?"

"Fuck our parents," Gnek snorted. "They never loved me! Mother always looked at me with indifference because of my 'disability,' and father beat me when he saw me sucking on another goblin's dick in the woods! They always looked at me with shame, brother! You were always their favorite; you were always the one they coddled and cared for, while they looked at me like I was some mistake that had to be purged from the world!"

"That's not true!"

"SHUT UP! You know it is, Nickolas! They always loved you, not me, brother!"

"Because you were an ungrateful little asshole to them! You were always trying to be rebellious just so you could get attention! How many times did you intentionally bait them into arguments just so you could have a reason to get angry with them? How many times did you antagonize mother by going on about how she wasn't doing enough with her life? And don't get me started on the time you masturbated in the middle of the day and left your seed right on the living room floor!"

Mennec slowly sidled over to the human knight and tapped his hand against his face. "Hey. Shouldn't we be trying to stop all this?"

"Absolutely not," the man said, grinning as he sat down. "This is entertaining."

"They always were fools, Nick. Just a buncha old twats who thought they were better than me and smarter than me just because they were more 'experienced' with the world, because they came from a different generation! But they were both a pair of idiots, just like you, just like everyone else in this confounded world! Is it really that surprising that I kill—"

Gnekvizz stopped himself. He backed away from Nickolas and looked away, inhaling sharply. But it was too late, and Gnek knew. Nick blinked twice before he narrowed his eyes and took two steps forward.

"…What?"

"…Nothing. Just more ranting."

"No, no, no, finish. Go on, finish your sentence."

"There's nothing to finish. It doesn't matter."

"Yes," Nick gasped, before letting out a faint sob. "Yes…yes, it does matter. Finish what you were about to say."

Everything seemed to slow down afterwards. Sholya was fully awake now after listening to the goblins arguing. Flotch finished up his meal and was walking towards the goblin brothers, eager to listen to the slip-up from Gnek. Gnek turned and looked at his four partners, but all of them just stared at him and gestured for him to finish.

"Go on, Gnekvizz. Your brother's expecting an answer," Flotch hissed.

Gnek groaned as he turned back around and listened to Nickolas taking deep breath over and over again. Everytime he flicked his eyes over at the goblin, he noticed that he was shaking more and more, and that a new tear was running down his face. Gnek cleared his throat and pushed his index fingers together, acting like some toddler who dropped and broke an expensive piece of dishware. Nick stepped towards his brother and whimpered as he pointed at him, his hand shaking.

"You—" Nick stopped and sobbed, unable to get the words out properly. "You…you said…you told me, that a gnoll killed our parents. That's what happened, Gnek. A gnoll killed our parents."

Nick sobbed again and sniffled. "You said…you-you said—you said, you were raped…that's-that's what you said…oh gods…help me…someone help me," Nick whimpered.

"Brother—"

"What did you do? Huh?"

Gnek closed his eyes and took a long breath. He held up his hands and backed away slowly. "It's complicated, brother."

"No, it's simple. A gnoll killed our parents. He-he-he snuck into our home, raped you, and then when mother and father tried to save you…I didn't see…you son of a bitch. I never saw anything. I was hiding in my room the whole time."

"Nick—"

"WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO, GNEK?!"

Gnek lowered his hands and exhaled with defeat. He glared at his brother and blinked. "Fine. I'll tell you."


It was okay. They wouldn't hear what would happen next. The teenage goblin snickered to himself as he pondered about what he planned on doing next. He knew it would be risky. He knew it wasn't smart. But he also knew that life wasn't worth living if he stayed at home and always followed the rules. So he decided to go through with the plan.

He had no idea how something so small would drastically alter his life. Gnekvizz snuck back into his room, climbing through the window and landing softly on the floor inside. Then he waved the gnoll to come in, and the furry beast grunted as he hauled his body into Gnek's room. After he got inside, the hyena-like creature stood up and looked down at Gnek. Both of them were smirking at each other and could feel a tight bulge in their trousers. Without saying a word to each other, Gnekvizz and the gnoll took off their clothing, revealing their naked bodies to each other.

"Damn…didn't know you goblins could get that long," the gnoll joked.

Gnekvizz just rubbed himself a few times, before he reached over and groped the gnoll's dangling testicles. The creatures chuckled as they touched each other, reaching around and groping each other's nether regions.

"C'mon…let's do it," Gnek whispered.

The gnoll frowned. "Wait, right here?"

"Yeah."

The gnoll blinked. "In…in your home? I-I thought we were just gonna sleep together or stroke each other off."

"No. Fuck my parents. They can't stop me from doing what I wanna do."

"You sure? I mean…once this happens, you can't go back. This isn't just—"

"I wanna do it. So c'mon…let's do it."

The gnoll grinned and licked his lips. "Okay then."

There was no hesitation afterwards. The gnoll giggled as he turned Gnekvizz around and shoved him against the bed. He stared at the yellow beast's rotund rump before growling as he stood behind him with his shaft aimed directly at his anus. And then he thrust forward and slowly began to sodomize the goblin. It hadn't been his first time. It certainly wouldn't be his last. But everytime, the pain was always there. No matter how often Gnek prepared himself, it'd always come without warning. He tried to keep quiet, but the pain was too great.

He started shouting. Both from joy and from all the agonizing pressure he felt in his rectum. He gripped his bed tightly, digging his nails into the sheets as the gnoll began to go faster and faster. The gnoll still managed to keep relatively quiet. But Gnek wouldn't stop moaning and shouting, especially when he reached his orgasm.

"Quiet!" the gnoll snarled.

But Gnek physically couldn't keep his voice down. When he felt the gnoll's seed gushing into his rectum, Gnekvizz screamed so noisily that his voice could be heard throughout the entire hut. He finally came, his fluids gushing onto the floor, just as he heard footsteps on the other side of his door. Before the gnoll even had time to pull out, Gnek's mother and father bashed through the door; the former was holding a lantern, and the latter a dagger.

"Get the fuck out…Gnek?!" Gnek's father shouted.

"Shit," the gnoll said, as he pulled out and raised his paws.

"What the fuck is going on?!"

Gnek panted and huffed, still sweating profusely, and walked in front of his parents. He stammered repeatedly and tried to explain himself, but Gnek's naked body, the humid smell inside the room, along with the puddles of semen on the floor, explained itself.

"Oh gods…no…no. You did not bring this into my home," Gnek's father said in disbelief.

"What the hell were you thinking, son?! We thought you were in danger! We heard you screaming all the way in our room!" Gnek's mother shouted.

"I'm—I'll just leave now," the gnoll said as he tried to move towards the window.

"STAY RIGHT THERE!" Gnek's father barked, before he looked down at Gnek himself. "You stupid faggot. It's not bad enough my son is cursed with this affinity for males, you have to bring it into our home?!"

Gnek didn't say anything. He just glared at his father as his eyes began to water.

"You couldn't even find another goblin, Gnek?! You had to bring a filthy gnoll here? You know there are other goblins in our village who are…like you, son," said Gnek's mother.

"Fuck you," Gnek snarled, before he spat in his mother's face.

Gnek's father roared as he struck his son, punching him so hard that he fell on the floor and cried out in pain. "GET OUT! DON'T EVER COME BACK INTO THIS HUT, YOU UNGRATEFUL FAGGOT!"

Whimpering, Gnek slowly got to his knees as he stared at his father with tears running down his face. "Say it…call me a faggot again."

Gnek's father took the bait. He scoffed at him before leaning in his face. "Faggot."

Gnek roared as he attacked his father the same way a jaguar would attack its prey. He lunged forward and wrapped his hands around his father's neck, choking him so roughly and suddenly that Gnek's father dropped his dagger. Gnek's mother shouted as the two male goblins rushed in her direction, slamming her against the wall so hard that something in her body bent and snapped. Swearing and scratching, Gnek tightened his grip harder and harder, hoping to finally end his father, to silence him forever. But just as he was on the verge of crushing his windpipe, the gnoll stepped over to him and violently hauled him off his father. He tossed Gnek backwards onto the floor, seconds before he stood in front of Gnek's parents and held out his paws.

"Stop! Please, please—I'm sorry! I'll leave, okay? I'll leave; we don't have to kill each other over this!"

Gnek's father coughed a few times while Gnek's mother groaned and tried to stand up. Although she struggled a bit, feeling as though something in her right foot had twisted.

"Take that fuckin' faggot with you," Gnek's father snarled, before coughing again. "Obviously he loves you more than his own family!"

"Fine…fine, we'll leave. Gnek, let's get out of—GNEK!"

The gnoll had blocked Gnek's parents' field of vision with his tall body. Neither of them spotted Gnek as he bent down and picked up the fallen dagger. So when the gnoll moved out the way, he wasted no time sprinting forward and plunging the dagger into his father's face. Gnek's father howled in agony, seconds before his voice was silenced when Gnek slashed his throat. Soon enough, Gnek's mother and the gnoll were screaming too, and Gnek was snarling ferociously as he repeatedly thrust his dagger into his parents' bodies. The gnoll thought about dragging Gnekvizz away again, but it was already too late. Gnek's father wasn't moving, and his mother was gurgling on her own blood after being stabbed in the neck twice. Gnek knew that both of his parents were dead, but he kept stabbing them anyway. He listened to the blade digging into the flesh and scraping against their bones. Blood and fat dripped down onto the floor, and Gnek panted as he stood up straight and finally ceased attacking his family.

"What the fuck did you do?" the gnoll asked, petrified.

Gnek slowly turned and smirked as he looked at the gnoll. "S'it look like I did?"

"Shit…oh shit, shit. Your brother! Gods, your brother in the other room!"

"He'll be fine."

"He-he can't see me! He's gonna think I did this! I-I-I have to leave! I was never here; I have to leave!"

"Hmm…wait a second. What'd you say just now?"

"If someone sees me in here, they're gonna assume I killed your parents!"

Gnek grinned. "Yes. They will."

He figured it out a second too late. By the time the gnoll understood what Gnekvizz meant, the goblin leaped up into the air and shouted as he slashed his dagger against the gnoll's throat. The gnoll gagged twice and grabbed his neck, already feeling the warm fluids running down onto his chest. Staggering, the gnoll tripped and fell down on the floor, gasping and choking on his own blood. Knowing he couldn't defend himself, Gnek walked over to the furry beast and plunged the blade into his temple. When he removed the dagger, the gnoll stopped moving and making noises. And just like that, the entire hut was silent once again. Gnek let the dagger fall from his hands and sighed with relief. The teenage goblin dragged his feet across the floor as he gazed down at his parents' bodies. And then he scowled. So what if they disapproved of his behavior? It didn't matter anyway. It certainly didn't matter now. This all could've been prevented so easily. Maybe Gnek could've done something differently. Maybe he could've reasoned with them. But it happened. They were all dead now. The goblin shut his eyes and took a deep breath, still feeling sore from the beating he took. But they were mere bruises, mere cuts on his skin. And the bodies on the floor were just that.

Bodies. Nothing more. Gnek stepped out of his room and into the building's living room, only to hear muffled sniffles coming from the other side of another door. Gnek remembered that his brother was still in the hut and huffed softly. Limping, the short, four-foot-tall creature headed towards the door that was shut and pushed against it. Gnek wiped his face before he saw the younger yellow goblin hunched in the corner of the dark room, whimpering and sobbing gently.

"Nick?" Gnek whispered.

The goblin whined and shook his head, still covering his ears. Gnek limped his way towards the goblin and exhaled as he wrapped his bloody arms around his body.

"Shhhh, it's okay…it's okay," the creature said.

"But…but they—"

"I know," the creature said, feeling warm tears in his eyes. "But you're safe now…we'll be safe…"


Nick couldn't stop sniffling and whimpering as mucus dripped from his nose and tears ran down his face. Gnekvizz folded his arms and glanced away, feeling somewhat self-conscious after revealing what truly happened to his parents.

"I can't…I can't…no," Nick moaned.

Gnek huffed as he walked up to Nick again and sniffed. "I know it's hard, but you'll get past it. Our parents were holding us back, Nick. I was bound to kill them sooner or later."

Nick's left eye twitched as he listened to his brother. "Get…get past it?"

Gnek smiled. "Yes, brother."

He was on the floor before he even had time to shout. Nick shrieked as he lunged for his brother, throwing his entire body on top of him as he began to punch him relentlessly. Gnek shouted and grunted as Nick let the rage flow through his body. He gritted his teeth as he punched Gnek in his face over and over again, chipping one of his teeth and breaking his nose. Then he jammed his fist into Gnek's right eye so many times that he bruised it, and he almost cracked the eye socket. Nick attacked Gnek with his claws, snarling as he scratched his face, leaving six different lacerations that drew blood. He even went as far as biting Gnek's long, ugly nose; he repeated exactly what he did when he had Lorko's penis in his mouth. Only this time around, someone was there to stop him. Mennec snorted as he grabbed Nick from behind and yanked his body off Gnekvizz.

"That's enough," he said calmly.

But Nick refused to calm down. Even as the burly bovine held him, Nick kept screaming and thrashing his arms around, desperate to murder the person that used to be his best friend, the person who used to be his brother. Mennec, frustrated over the amount of time being wasted, yelled as he lifted Nick upwards. And then he slammed him on the floor so hard that Nick immediately stopped moving, and the goblin felt something in his body break. Nevertheless, Nick was still determined to get back at his brother, by any means necessary. So he grunted and sobbed as he wobbled and rose to his feet, while Gnek stood up holding his bleeding nose and rolling his tongue around his mouth. Gnek spat onto the floor, and grimaced when he saw a chipped tooth in the blotch of blood on the floor.

"You broke my fuckin' nose!" Gnek snarled.

Nick let out a faint chuckle. "Good."

Gnek returned the favor, punching his brother to the floor so hard that he fractured his nasal cavity. Nick grunted after falling on the floor again, but he still mustered enough strength to sit up afterwards and glare at his brother. Nick shook his head as he looked at the malicious beast in front of him.

"You cried in my arms. I…I hugged you, and you wailed like a child in my arms. …That was all fake?"

Gnek sniffled and spat out more blood. "That's the beauty of acting, brother. When you do it for so long, even the actor himself will believe it's convincing."

"So the…the last week…the last decade has just been…it's just been an act then? All of it? I-I mean nothing to you, Gnek? Is that it?"

Gnek only answered with a shrug, which led to Nick scoffing.

"Why didn't you just kill me when you murdered our parents? Why did you waste so much time taking care of me when you could've killed me in my sleep at any time?!"

"Just because you have a hammer, but no nails, doesn't mean you should dispose of the hammer. 'Sides, if I had killed my entire family in one night and told everyone that a gnoll—whom was dead—did it, I doubt many goblins would've believed me."

Nick could do nothing but chuckle quiet as he felt more tears filling his eyes. "All this time," he said, as he stood up again, "everyone told me that I had problems. Everyone told me that I was crazy, that I'm a retard. But it's you, Gnek. You're the one who's insane. You're the one who needs help. …I can't believe Stilyk was right. He tried to warn me about you, and I blew it in his face…"

"Tch! Had to kill him sooner or later. Those gnolls attacking the Sucre gave me the perfect opportunity to do so."

Nick sighed and shook his head. "Of course you killed Stilyk. Because why not. S'just another misdeed to add to your ever-growing list."

There was a long pause after that. It was clear that both brothers were exhausted from the sheer amount of revelations and all the fighting that ensued. As Gnek kept sniffling and wiping his runny nose, Nick just stared out in the distance, his face blank as tears slowly ran down his face. Between Mennec slamming his entire body on the ground, and discovering that his brother was a cruel, nihilistic sadist, Nickolas just didn't have any energy left to fight any longer.

"So here's what's gonna happen:" Gnek began. "You're gonna join us whether you like it or not. I'm gonna keep taking care of you. And if you disobey any of us, we will hurt you, brother, the same way that gnoll did on the ship. I don't care how long it takes. I don't care what I have to do. I spent ten years taking care of your whiny ass. Ten long years! You're not gonna stand there—"

"Just shut up and fuckin' kill me."

Gnek's eyes widened after hearing those words. The aging knight, however, exhaled with much relief as he stood up from the floor.

"FINALLY! I've had enough of this blether."

The knight removed a dagger from his waistsash and approached Nick. Before he reached him, Gnek held his hand against the knight's abdomen and kept him away from his brother. Gnekvizz slowly approached Nick and exhaled.

"What…what did you say to me?"

"Kill me," Nick restated.

Gnek stared deeply into Nick's eyes. He wasn't angry, or distraught, or sad. He just seemed cold, emotionless, empty. Gnek narrowed his eyes a bit before he blinked and shook his head.

"You're serious," he whispered.

A wry chuckle escaped Nick's lips. "Gnekvizz…you murdered our parents. Haven't been the same since. I never made friends with anyone in our village. Everyone just thought I was the retard with a faggot brother. You abandoned me. Several times. I spent all these years thinking that you truly loved me…but now…now I see that I'm just a tool to you. Nothing more. I finally made a friend who isn't even the same race as me…and you killed him too. Some disgusting gnoll raped me just last night. And…and when I looked in his eyes, I saw nothing but hatred, and pure evil. I never saw that in you…"

Nick took a deep breath before he sucked on his teeth. "But I see it now. You just…hid it from me. But I see what kind of person you are now. …I don't have anyone anymore. All I had was you, but clearly what I wanted you to be and what you truly are is just…and then on top of all that, you wanna summon a demon to destroy the world, just to prove to everyone that life is meaningless?"

Nick shrugged. "Just kill me. I know you want to. I know they want to. It's like you said…all life is pointless. Including mine. So just end my life now and be done with it."

Gnekvizz couldn't say anything. He just listened to the fire crackling over at the bonfire and the sound of everyone breathing heavily, waiting impatiently for Gnek to do what should've been done several hours ago. Gnek snarled as he beckoned the knight and pointed at Nick.

"Kill him, Brynnard."

"No. You do it," Nick demanded.

Brynnard looked down at Gnek and smirked. "He is your brother. Only seems fitting."

When Gnek looked behind his shoulder again, he noticed that Brynnard was holding a sharp knife above the older goblin's head. As he let out a frustrated snarl, Gnek snatched the knife from his hand and stepped up to Nick. Nick, surprisingly, stood still with a stoic face and stared at Gnek. Gnekvizz took a few deep breaths before he looked away and swallowed hard.

"I'm waiting."

"Shut up," Gnek snarled. "I could've made you strong. I could've made you the ruler of an entire country, you ungrateful shit! All those years…all this fuckin' time wasted!"

Gnek huffed as he rotated his left index finger. "Turn around."

"No. You look me in the eyes when you kill me. Don't be a coward, like you were when you killed our parents in the dark, or when you attacked Stilyk from behind."

There was another pause, and then Gnek shrugged. "Have it your way. You got any last words, or are you gonna just tell me to hurry up and get it over with?"

Nick thought for a brief moment, and then he nodded. "Yeah…I got some words."

Suddenly, Nick stepped so close to Gnek that his older brother could feel his breath on his face.

"I hate you. You are a coward, and a hypocrite, and a manipulative cunt. You whine about how people fabricate history, yet you won't acknowledge that you yourself have done the same thing when it comes to who truly killed our parents. You think that I'm an idiot, yet you were the one who wasted so much time trying to force me to conform to your beliefs, thinking I'd be stupid enough to bow down and submit to your will. You say life is meaningless, but let's face it: you're just a cold-hearted sadistic twat who is using his pessimism as an excuse to justify his actions. I was raped only one night ago, and I would rather experience that pain ten times over than die knowing that the only person I loved betrayed me. I hope you can't eat after tonight. I hope I haunt you while you sleep and you wake up every morning finding out that you pissed yourself with fright. I hope that you're so tormented by this that you end up killing yourself. And when I see your soul burning in Hell for all eternity, and you see mine, and you ask for forgiveness? I'm gonna look the other way. Because there's not a fucking thing you can do to stop me from hating you."

Gnek stared at Nick for a moment, expecting his brother to say something else or to lash out at him again. But everything he said before was true. He didn't have a thing to live for anymore. Shrugging, Gnek raised the knife. And then he ran it across Nick's throat. Nick gagged at first and tried to ignore the pain. It felt no different from a swift paper cut. But then the burning overwhelmed him. And then Nick found it impossible to breathe. He gasped twice and coughed, blood spewing from his mouth. Seconds later, Nick fell backwards on the floor and gradually bled out. He choked and gurgled softly, feeling his life slipping away as a small pool of blood started to form around his neck. Gnekvizz walked over to Nick's head and stared down at him. Nickolas flicked his eyes up at his brother, gritting his teeth as he became teary-eyed again. For just one brief moment, he thought he'd see a sliver of his brother again. He thought he'd see fear, possibly even regret on the goblin's face. But all he saw was cold indifference and stoicism.

He's right…it's all pointless…

Nickolas Corveel closed his eyes and stopped fighting it. After another thirty seconds or so, he stopped breathing. Gnekvizz Corveel blinked a few times before he wiped his nose. Then he walked over to Brynnard and handed him his knife back.

"Waste of fuckin' time," Brynnard snarled.

"Yes, thank you; you've made that evident," Gnek stated.

Mennec blinked as he looked at Nick's body. Then he turned and stared at Gnek. "Um…what do you want us to do with him? I mean…he was your brother and all."

Gnek shrugged. "Don't matter. Bury him. Throw his body in the river. Burn it and eat his flesh. Do what you want."

After speaking to the minotaur, Gnekvizz turned away and walked outside of the church, longing to spend time alone for a while.


Sholya came to check on Gnek the next morning. She discovered the goblin still outside, sitting on a large boulder near one of the dying trees in the plains. The sun was shining again, and a soft breeze was blowing through Sholya's short hair. She rubbed her nose as she walked through the blades of grass and reached the yellow-skinned creature as he sat alone contemplating. Not bothering to ask if she was interrupting his space, she sat down on the boulder beside him and punched his left shoulder.

"What?" he barked.

"Tch. Don't take that tone with me. Not after last night."

"I'm fine," he lied.

"You know something I noticed about all people? Whenever they say that they're 'fine,' it means that they're pissed off or that they're depressed and wanna be left alone."

Gnek glared at Sholya through narrowed eyes. "Why the fuck do you care about how I'm feeling, human?"

Sholya ran a hand through her hair before answering. "Last I checked, it's gonna be hard to revive a demon if we're too busy getting distracted by our own personal problems. So you need to tell me right now if this is gonna hinder your ability to do what needs to be done."

"Absolutely not."

"Then what's the problem?"

Gnekvizz took a deep breath before he tapped his fingers on the boulder a few times. "It…it would've been nice, y'know?" he said softly. "Nick always did everything I said…everything I wanted. I was so blinded by the idea of having my own protégé that I almost lost sight of our goals. As much as I hate admitting it, Brynnard was right…this whole thing with my brother was a waste of time."

Gnek shrugged. "But there you go. Lesson learned."

"…You still seemed frustrated though."

Shaking, Gnekvizz turned and looked up at Sholya, looking legitimately upset. "I'm the last one, Sholya. There are no other Corveels in the entire world. My parents and my brother are all dead. And you all know that I don't have sex with females. At the very least, I could've kept my brother alive, maybe-maybe could've forced him to mate with other female goblins. Can't do that now…so now I won't have any kind of offspring or underling in the future. Once I'm dead, the Corveel family-line will cease to exist."

"For all your talk about nihilism, you sure seem frightened at the thought of your family name going to waste."

"Don't you get it? All the pressure is on me now! If I die or we fail to revive Smirvlak, then that's it. The world will keep spinning, life will go on, and ultimately, the Corveel name—my name—will slowly fade from existence. Anytime anyone uncovers information about us that isn't faulty, they'll just assume we're another family of dirty, grungy, mischievous goblins who did low-level work around the world. I can't allow that to happen, Sholya…I won't."

"Then get off your ass and come help us find this last stone."

Gnek looked away from Sholya and listened as another gust of wind blew against his face. He hopped off the boulder and grunted as he planted his feet on the ground. Sholya did the same, and raised an eyebrow when she noticed Gnek was awkwardly looking up at her with a smirk on his face.

"I always did like you, Sholya."

"I'm not an idiot."

His smirk instantly went away, and Gnek scoffed and folded his arms. As Sholya returned to the church, Gnekvizz felt another warm breeze against his face, shortly before he saw something flicker out the corner of his eyes. He turned and saw an overweight, shirtless goblin glaring at him from afar. At least, that's what he thought he saw. Because when Gnek looked out in the distance again, nothing was there except for a few trees with rustling leaves. Gnek snorted as he followed Sholya back into the trees. She's right, Gnekvizz thought.

We're wasting time we don't have.


"Where?" the orc asked.

"I…I don't know," the human responded.

The orc punched the man in the face twice, breaking his nose again and bruising his swollen right eye. "I said, where?"

The human whimpered. "I DON'T KNOW! I-I only heard rumors! People talk all the time! The-the sea beneath the waves; hidden in a cave of trolls; some say it's-it's buried beneath the kingdom of Erelorn itself! I don't know where it is!"

The dark-green orc snarled in the human's face as he gripped him tightly with both hands. The man whimpered, expecting the orc to snap his neck. Instead, the bulky beast dropped him to the floor, and he turned around and stomped outside the tavern. Once outside, the orc let out a frustrated breath and scratched his head. A human being clad in a green tunic, trousers, and cloak turned as he stared at the orc.

"Well?"

"He doesn't know," the orc huffed.

"FUCK!" the human shouted, stomping on the ground.

The orc shook his head. "This isn't working, Shane. By the time we figure out where the last stone is the Sect will already be resurrecting Smirvlak! We need help!"

"No one's gonna believe us."

"We're taking too long, and we haven't made progress in months. If we have more people working with us, at least we'll cover more ground! Maybe we'll find more information!"

"Or maybe the Sect will figure out what we're doing and send people to kill us."

"Death is a luxury compared to the end of the world. You really think your life is more important than saving the world?"

"Yes."

The orc scrunched up his face as he looked at Shane's cocky smirk. He chuckled as he stepped away from the tavern and began to walk down the dirt road. "All right, Rokklir. Let's go save the world. The sooner we get this shit over with, the better."

The orc grumbled as he looked at Shane and saw him walking away from the tavern nonchalantly. He didn't like Shane's sarcastic attitude, let alone how flippant he was treating the whole situation. But he was the only person he knew who believed him about the stones, who knew that there were people out there who were trying to resurrect Smirvlak. Regardless of his feelings for Shane, the orc snarled and ultimately jogged over to Shane and walked alongside of him.

The burly orc and lithe human both walked down the dirt road and away from the tavern, still holding on to hope that they could prevent Armageddon.