"Your king is dead, little Gigglesmash."
I looked up at him, and giggled. The damned nervous giggle I could never make go away, no matter how hard I tried. I was so frustrated about the giggle that what he actually said to me did not register.
"You will address me with respect, and with my title, Thane Egglesect. Darkrider Gigglesmash," I demanded. "Remember, I represent our dark lord here.”
“No longer,” he replied. “Your king is dead. Slain in his own throne room, by those sleshal the Argent Crusade, and their toadying lackeys. We are Vrykul here. We respect power! We follow strength! Your king, he did not have the strength after all, and now he is gone. It is time for us to find a new path. One without the bending of the knee to a tiny, weak gnome.” I saw several of his warriors falling in behind him, hands on their weapons. “Your time of dominion over us is at an end, Gigglesmash.”
No.... no, this could not be. My king was going to rule the world. He was going to destroy those arrogant fools who opposed him. I had stood by my king, when others of my order had deserted him - Mograine, Thassarian, Vyprania. I had given him everything. My name, my life, my dignity. I had served, I had been loyal. I had watched over these dirty, smelly beasts in men’s form for two years, preparing them for the time of their dark rebirth. My king had promised that I would be rewarded. I was to become a great creature of dread and horror, feared by all who saw me. And I was to lose this double-damned giggle.
Gone now. All gone. How could this be? The Thane was still talking, gathering up his courage, his lackey’s courage, but I heard none of it. My world was shattering. I could feel the jagged edges cutting my heart as they gave way. Tears stung on my cheeks, and my lower lip threatened to tremble. What was I, without my king? I was nothing - a gnome with no name, no friends, no future. How could my king have done this to me? He had promised me....
No. It was a lie. It had to be a lie. And there was only one way to respond to lies. I looked up into the Thane’s face, my eyes locking onto his. “My name,” I bit out through gritted teeth, “is Dark. Rider. Giggle. Smash.” And then I giggled. Dammit.
Twenty minutes later, as I rode out of the village, past Egglesect’s slowly cooling body, feeling the heat from his burning longhouse on the back of my neck, I wondered if now, at last, he respected my power.