King Cacame sat on his throne, leaning slightly to one side. He idly tapped his fingers against the one of the many menacing spikes. The years at Trustclaps had grown long and idle. The dwarves had stocked the larders for a decade to come, while there was enough treasure to purchase virtually anything the traders could bring. The most excitement these days came when someone produced another artifact and presented it to the king. But mustering excitement for another wooden crown engraved with pictures of fish and elk was growing increasingly difficult.
The dwarves assured him that the fortress was well defended. When last he had bothered to venture aboveground, they had been erecting walls around the site. He had heard mutterings of a trench being dug around it as well, though nothing yet about said trench being filled with magma. And anything that breached the walls would have to face the fourteen champions inside.
Once, the former Baron had informed him that a skeletal blue dragon had appeared. King Cacame had perked up at the news, but only long enough to hear that it had already been struck down by the champions without injury. They told him Fikod Domasān had been credited with striking the final blow.
Nothing could challenge the fortress. The continuing sieges by goblins and the hated elves, along with the thoughtless onslaughts by the gibberling hordes, were mere annoyances. The dwarves had even captured some and taken to keeping them in cages as amusements in a zoo. On occasion, Cacame would head into the holding area, release three or four of the captives, and strike them down, though it had been a long while since he had bothered.
So, when the procession of dwarves energetically entered his room, headed by Mayor Dumat, King Cacame barely listened to what they were saying. They said something about a "megaproject" that had taken them "nearly five years to complete" and had cost "numerous lives".
"And what do you want of me?" King Cacame asked solemnly.
"My liege," said one of the dwarves, a woman. "My husband ordered this construction built in honor of you. And though he has tragically been torn apart by gibberlings, he would want you to see it." The Baroness Consort, from the woman's words. King Cacame had heard that the Baron was killed by a gibberling ambush while venturing outside the walls one day.
"Very well," King Cacame said, slowly standing from his throne. "I will see it." He hefted his war hammer and followed the excited dwarves outside.
"It is a sheet," King Cacame said as he looked up at the massive cloth billowing in the wind. They stood outside, the entire population, in the brightness of day. King Cacame noticed that several of the dwarves looked queasy in the daylight, but he felt a small stirring of pride at not being affected, even after all those years deep underground.
"No, my liege," said Athel, the Baroness Consort. "It is what is under the sheet."
"Though, the sheet did cost us several hundred thousand," Sarvesh Asizfikod, the Tax Collector. "And the ropes that are tethering it were no small expense either!"
King Cacame looked around. The dwarves had carved a giant pit behind the entrance of the fort. He could see a ramp leading a few meters down and a block bridge running across to the other side, though most was obscured by the giant sheet. A menagerie of war animals had been chained up by the top of the ramp.
"Very well," King Cacame said. "Show me what is underneath."
"Not yet, my liege!" exclaimed Athel. "We still have the speeches to read. I have prepared a poem in your honor that simply must be read before an audience!" She attempted a shy smile.
Though the change in King Cacame's expression was slight, Mayor Dumat noticed and spoke up. "In addition, we are having the children and loved ones of those who died constructing the building memorializing them. I believe it would mean a lot to them to see you appreciate it."
Before he was forced to respond, a loud, low horn blast pierced the air. It sounded for several seconds, then stopped, before sounding again, and again, and once more. Noticing the shocked expressions on the faces of the nearby dwarves, King Cacame knew this was not part of the festivities. The Baroness Consort shrieked and ran for the tunnels.
"What is that?" he asked.
The Captain of the Guard, Zon Velzon, approached him, with most of the Royal Guard in tow. "My liege, please return inside," he called out.
The Mayor was shaking his head. "Of all the times!" he was muttering.
King Cacame turned to Dostngosp, the goblin woman who had defected to Trustclaps and now served as one of his personal body guards. Her ears were twitching and her eyes wide. Her lips were pulled back in a slight snarl, revealing a row of sharp teeth. "You know something," King Cacame said to her.
"Goblins," Dostngosp said. "But not from Eramxu. From Ngokang Spun, a different tribe." She clutched her spear tight and looked ready to charge from behind the walls. "They announce their arrival with those horns."
"Yes, my liege," Captain Zon said. "We have faced them before. We think the Eramxu called them in for assistance, since their own raids have proven fruitless."
"Lies!" Dostngosp snarled. "The Eramxu would never ally with the Ngokang Spun!" She took a step toward Captain Zon, who did not back down. King Cacame held out his hand and she halted in her tracks.
"Take me to see them."
"My liege, you really should go back inside," Captain Zon began, but Dostngosp had already led him towards the walls.
King Cacame counted at least sixty goblins. They were rushing toward the entrance, thirsting for blood. The military was already gathering together to meet them. King Cacame descended from the walls and approached them.
"Stay here," he told them. "You too," he said to Dostngosp. She snarled, but nodded and fell into position beside them. The soldiers simply saluted and stood their ground as their king walked beneath the giant sheet that covered the bridge into the fortress.
Captain Zon ran up to the soldiers. "What are you doing?" he gasped. "Why did you let him go out there?"
"How would we stop him?" Fikod asked simply.
"He'll be killed!" Captain Zon cried. "Even he can't take on an entire goblin army alone!"
The soldiers exchanged unconvinced glances. "He is the Immortal Onslaught," Fikod answered.
"If you want to stop him," Dostngosp said, "you go get him."
"Are you crazy?" Captain Zon replied. Then he tugged on his thick beard. "Of course you are, you're a goblin who lives with dwarves!" He tugged on his beard in worry as he nervously paced off.
Mayor Dumat met him. "Where did King Cacame go?" she asked.
"Outside!" Captain Zon replied. "To fight the goblins by himself!"
The mayor's skin lightened a shade. "Well," she said slowly, "maybe he'll be fine. I mean, he has been in battle before."
"Yes, but not by himself against an entire army!" Captain Zon spat. "He doesn't even have that damn wyvern corpse with him!"
"If we released it, it would go to his side," the mayor suggested.
"After killing us for getting near it," Captain Zon answered. "It's only calm when around him!" He tugged on his beard so hard he thought it might come right off his face.
"Well, there is one more option," the mayor said.
"What? Tell me!"
She looked up at the billowing sheet in the wind.
King Cacame stood on the suspension bridge, his war hammer slung over a shoulder. The goblins had started to mass at the top of the ramp. They glared down at King Cacame, standing alone. They howled and jeered him.
Finally, they began to charge forward. King Cacame hefted his war hammer in two hands and set his feet. A slight smile crossed his face.
Then there was a loud snap, like a whip. It did not come from the lashers in the goblin army, but rather the ropes tethering the sheet. With the slack loosened, the other ropes quickly came undone and the sheet began to fall away.
The goblins halted their charge and stared. They looked up at the giant figure towering over them.
It was clad in black armor, wearing a horned helm, sternly clutching a warhammer in one hand. Its cape was pure gold that glimmered in the sun and its eyes glowed red with fury. Were it in their image, the goblins may have fell to their knees in worship. But its platinum skin did not remind them of goblin kind.
One goblin turned and fled in terror. Another two joined them. Soon, they were shoving each other out of the way, some tumbling off the bridge into the pit below, as they fled the colossus. Within moments, the entire army had routed, without a single blow being exchanged.
King Cacame set the butt of his war hammer on the ground, slowly turned, and looked up. He saw himself, only a thousand times larger, standing solemn vigil over the entrance to Trustclaps.
He slung his war hammer over his shoulder and walked back toward the tunnels. Captain Zon cringed as he passed, but King Cacame said nothing. He reached Mayor Dumat, paused briefly, said, "Nice work," and kept walking.
He returned to his throne, sat down with a slight grunt, and began to idly tap one of the menacing spikes.