Not sure why, but I’ve always like gnolls. LIke so many other DMs, I sued them to fill in the ranks in lower tiers of armyies without giving them much of their own agenda. Perhpas it’s the atypical hyena look that gnolls typicall have… Don’t know.
Though this piece by CG Felker is called Kobold Dogs, I feel it breathes a bit of new life into the usual worn rolls that gnolls fill.
“Barron Talis!” Barely able to keep up with his feet, Rex burst into the main hall. “They’ve taken Fort Dawn.”
Rex caught a quick glimpse of the Barron’s large pink and lilac chair. Empty. He doubled over, rested his hands on his knees and huffed. His lungs burned. The newly earned longsword on his hip pulled him to lean more on his left, but the weight of the weapon was nothing compared to the suit of chainmail and large shield on his back. For a brief moment, he wished he hadn’t been promoted from runner to guard.
The scent of roasted turkey, scalloped potatoes, and corn registered sweetly. Whispers and utensils on dishware filled the small gaps between his heartbeat pounding in his ears. He managed to bust in during Barron Talis’s afternoon respite. This perceived violation would be worth the month in the kitchens.
“And?” Disdain dripped from the Barron’s sole word.
“And the Dogs of War–” Rex gulped air. Reflexively, he stood to counter the stitch growing in his stomach. He knew better than to lean over, but the armor was so damned heavy. “They’ll be–“
Barron Talis opened his hand to let his silver fork fall from his slender fingers. Fingers that had never known dirt or the hilt of a sword.
Shit. Preparing for the stitch to take hold, Rex grimaced and bowed as customary. The stitch bit hard and kept him doubled. He fought through it to stand at attention.
The Barron dropped his frilly napkin onto his plate. “And tell me, if you know…” The Barron flicked his ear.
Rex had seen the motion several times before. The Barron was going to ask him three questions and expected accurate answers. Every I do not know would equal jail time. Three insufficient answers meant execution. Why’d he have burst in?
“If you have a brain, use it now — since you didn’t use it a moment ago.” The Barron raised a finger with each question. “Who is Barron over the land that Fort Dawn occupies? How many times has said Barron spread false information? If your report is accurate, to whom do these so-called dogs of war owe their allegiance?”
Rex knew the first, had a good guess for the second; he bit his lip. Barron Talis would never believe reports of independent gnolls.
© Ezekiel James Boston