The frustrated gargoyle threw the broken pickax against the
tunnel wall, not caring who heard the sound. He had been digging
for over three days now, and his strength, like the pickax,
was exhausted. He slumped against the tunnel wall and tried
to calm himself.
As he stared blankly at the floor, his thoughts turned to
those he had left behind. They were good beings who did not
deserve their fate. Life had been like this for as long as
he could remember. Only the eldest of the gargoyles remembered
the time before the conquering. Those stories almost sounded
like a child’s tale now, the very idea of a free life so far
beyond his comprehension.
There was no such thing, he thought bitterly, only those with
power can truly be free. He cursed immediately for even thinking
that way and punched his hand into his open palm. No! There
had to be a way to reclaim their home. He would not let his
kind live like this.
There were others, he knew, digging like him. Hoping to find
a way out. Hoping to find help. They had overheard the controller’s
talk of fighting an enemy, and the few gargoyles who had evaded
capture figured that any enemy of these foul beasts might
be an ally to the gargoyles. But they had also learned how
gargoyles in these other lands were perceived… as monsters
to be slaughtered for treasure and fame. They had no choice,
though. Something had to be done, and this was the last hope.
The leaders had organized small bands of gargoyles to dig
in specific locations, hoping to find a way through the seemingly
infinite expanse of mountains. Despite their strong wings,
no gargoyle could fly high enough to break past the impossibly
high peaks. Those few that tried had never returned. The gargoyles
sometimes hoped that maybe one had made it across, but they
all knew better. The mountain winds had claimed them, but
at least now they were free. The gargoyle allowed himself
a small smile and said a silent prayer for those brave, if
He remembered his other friends, the four who had been digging
with him only a few days ago. They had been caught by the
controllers, but thankfully the master’s lackeys had not found
the cave entrance. The gargoyle knew what fate awaited them
and shuddered at the thought. They were probably already back
in the city, no doubt unaware of who they were or what they
stood for. The lackeys were efficient with their work. No
gargoyle who had been “re-educated”, as they called it, had
ever been restored to his previous state. They were now warriors
in the army of the controllers, willing and ready to obey
any command, and ready to kill another gargoyle without a
The ultimate insult to the pride of a gargoyle, he thought
But that pride had to be swallowed in times such as this.
The gargoyles had tried many times to retake their city, but
once the mages began using their own kin against them, the
battles gained the gargoyles nothing. The gargoyle grimaced
as he recalled the last battle, remembering the revulsion
he had felt as he’d personally slain three of his own kin.
He knew he had been given no choice, that his fellow gargoyles
had been beyond help, that he had done the only thing he could
have to save them from their torment. But still it pained
and angered him.
He pictured the controllers, living in the once proud gargoyle
city as if it was their own home, and his anger intensified.
That city, with its sweeping staircases, beautifully carved
stone, marble paths, and impressive towers should belong to
the gargoyles, not these foul creatures. He had never known
the city as his true home, having grown up in the wilderness,
constantly hiding from capture. But in his heart, in his soul,
he knew that that wondrous city was where he and his kin were
meant to live.
Picturing his own kin in chains, the once beautiful city infested
with red robed mages, and what was left of the proud gargoyle
race reduced to mindless drones for the one they called the
master, was more than he could bear. The gargoyle stood and
pounded his fist powerfully into the wall where he had been
digging. He jumped back as he heard the stones groan suddenly,
and then had to shield his eyes as the wall fell away, opening
into the bright sunlight. The gargoyle stood staring, stupefied,
at the new entrance to his once forgotten land, too many emotions
filling him to make another move.
The tunnel was complete. But would help arrive?
From the Britannia News Network - The Journal of Ultima
Online, October 4th, 2001.