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The Black Daggers
Posted on Mon, September 29, 2003 by Trickster
Osmund-Davizid writes "An unusual crisis is emerging within the nobility of the Council of Niole Dra. A most unprecedented event is about to occur. A hobgoblin chieftain is on the cusp of being granted a title and a barony! This is the story behind this event as well as the description of a most unusual hobgoblin tribe.

The Black Daggers
By: Osmund-Davizid
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

Keoland always had a good reputation for racial tolerance throughout its history. Founded by two of the most goodly aligned and wise Suel Houses – Neheli and Rhola – Keoland made it an early policy to be accepting of any and all who would work to make the fledgling kingdom strong. Soon Oeridians, Flan, Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, and Gnomes were all counted as part of Keoland’s racial mix. More importantly, many people from these various races held seats in the Council of Niole Dra. Thus they had a voice in the government and its policies. Presently, there is still a wide mix of peoples represented in the Council of Niole Dra. Dwarf lords from the Lortmils sit next to elven princes from the Dreadwood and gnome barons from the Good Hills. More than one demihuman noble has a title and a land grant from the king himself. Now this concept is going one step further.

During the battles to regain the lands of Sterich, many varieties of humanoids were fought, but by far the primary danger was from the giant tribes. At the last few weeks of the liberation, a weary Keoish general was contemplating another assault on one of the last major giant strongholds left in eastern Sterich when a hobgoblin with a flag of truce approached. Suspicious, but willing to listen, the general agreed to parlay.

The hobgoblin delegation was headed by the chief of the Black Dagger tribe – Krell Daggerstorm. The Keoish general – a skilled conjurer and King’s Agent named Bentazur – was open to hear the hobgoblin’s story (Foot Note 1).

The hobgoblin related that his tribe has lived in the area where the Jotens meet the Little Hills for over 500 years. They kept mostly to themselves, not being as expansionist as most other hobgoblin tribes. This is partly due to the fact that the hobgoblins were surrounded by hill giant tribes. Any expansion into their territory would have been suicidal. This tribe also worshipped the goblin god of mediation (Bargrivyek). This made them more open to diplomacy and pragmatism than the average hobgoblin tribe.

The land in which they lived was rich in iron. The hobgoblins mined with great skill and soon became first rate smiths. They found a niche for themselves as the weaponeers and armorers of the humanoid tribes of the Jotens (FN 2). They were the suppliers of arms to the more powerful clans rather than the warriors themselves; trading weapons and armor for foodstuffs and gold. Woods near the mines allowed the hobgoblins to experiment with being bowyers and fletchers as well. Their work came to be recognized by a small black dagger engraved on each weapon and piece of armor they produced (FN 3).

During the Time of Troubles, the giant tribes united and plunged into Sterich, kicking the tribes of smaller humanoids in ahead of them. This included the Black Daggers. A hill giant clan betrayed the Black Daggers and forced them out of their ancestral homes to fight the Sterich. The hobgoblins were assigned to occupy the far eastern area of Sterich south of the Davish River after the war, but kept trying to go back to their homeland. Their giant overseers bullied them and forced them to stay. This caused much resentment and anger towards the giants. So much so that when the first opportunity to strike back at the came up, they were willing to take it. So thus the Black Daggers offered to Bentazur their services as scouts and warriors. To the hobgoblins, being allies of the humans was preferable to being slaves of the giants. This finally goaded them to try to make peace with the Keoish.

Bentazur, who badly needed reinforcements, was willing to give the hobgoblins a chance to prove their intentions were good. The tribe provided intelligence about the giant stronghold and offered to be among the first units to assault its weak point. Bentazur looked over the information, consulted his adjutants, and finally allowed the operation to begin. This time the assault on the giant stronghold was successful. The Black Daggers fought extremely well, with the same type of determination as the Sterich who battled along side of them (FN 4). After the stronghold was broken, Bentazur allowed the hobgoblins a share of the captured supplies and well as a grant from his own provisions in gratitude. The Black Daggers accompanied Bentazur’s forces as it mopped up the last remnants of the occupation forces in Sterich. Upon Sterich’s complete liberation, Krell Daggerstorm requested that the Black Daggers be released from their service and be allowed to reclaim their ancestral home. Bentazur granted his request.

A few months after the fighting in Sterich ceased and the rebuilding process began, Bentazur followed up on the Black Daggers, tracing them to their homeland in the Jotens. He found that the Black Daggers successfully reestablished themselves but now needed new trading partners. Bentazur brokered a deal in which the Black Daggers would now send their products to Sterich rather than to the giants. Coming when it did, this was a tremendous blessing for Sterich, who badly needed materials in order to retrench and rebuild.

The Black Daggers now regularly trade in iron ores, weapons, armor, and coal to the Sterich towns that border the mountains. In return, the hobgoblins get foodstuffs, cloth, and jewelry. The arrangement has been working well, and gradually the townspeople of these villages got somewhat used to the hobgoblin merchants. In the township of Davishton, a small hobgoblin quarter has even been established. The hobgoblins have opened up several blacksmiths and weaponsmiths there and also supplement the town guard. Mutual respect and trust has been fostering for some time now.

The hobgoblins have also passed along much intelligence regarding the movements of giants and other monsters in the mountains. Their information tipped the scales in Sterich’s favor in several skirmishes over the past year. A grateful Earl of Sterich recommended that the government of Keoland formally recognize the Black Dagger’s territory. Krell Daggerstorm wishes to go further and cement a long term alliance, perhaps even entering into the Kingdom of Keoland. As Daggerstorm sees it, he has to ally with some stronger power or risk destruction or enslavement again. This is judged with favor in Istivin, has having a permanent ally with eyes and ears in the Jotens will help prevent another invasion. Plus, Sterich still needs all the raw materials, weapons, and mercenary forces they can get their hands on; and an alliance with the Black Daggers will ensure a steady supply of all these things.

King’s Agent Bentazur has forwarded through all the appropriate diplomatic channels the request for annexation of the Black Dagger lands (called Aggrethor by the hobgoblins) with a title of baronet for Krell Daggerstorm. This has caused a great controversy among the established nobility. Most notably, resistance comes from the elves, who regard hobgoblins as implacable enemies. Support for this action comes from the Marquis Earl of Sterich, Emondav, the Viscount of Nume-Eor (who views this action as dove-tailing into his own efforts to attract half-orcs to his territory and promote tolerance for them), and most remarkably, from the young dwarf lord Kordan Badaxe. This dwarf lord now focuses his antipathy for giants rather than goblinoids, so any ally who has proven himself against the giants earns his respect (FN 5). Plus, as Badaxe’s lands are the closest to Aggrethor, he is in best position to judge the wisdom and long term effects of this action.

Presently, this case is held up in bureaucratic limbo. The general consensus among the human and dwarf lords is to allow this action on a very provisional basis. The elves still resist, but it looks like the former attitude will carry the day. Under the compromised terms, the chief of the Black Daggers, Krell Daggerstorm, would be made baronet of the newly formed territory of Aggrethor, provided that a very particular allegiance treaty is signed. The fine print on this treaty is endless, and Bentazur is working with Krell to determine what his response will be.

At this time, Krell Daggerstorm is sending his son, Dhaar Daggerstorm, to Niole Dra with Bentazur to help plead their case. Dhaar is well spoken (for a hobgoblin), and is genuinely eager to cement this alliance and secure a title for his father (FN 6). Benatzur and Dhaar and an honor guard of Black Dagger soldiers are traveling to Niole Dra to work out the final details of the treaty. Rumors are strong in Niole Dra that a group of elf and human nobles is arranging for the party to have an unfortunate “accident” along the way.

King Skotti’s has been keeping his opinion on this matter to himself. It is said that he wishes a private audience with Dhaar and Bentazur to decide how he will adjudicate the situation. Meanwhile, this action has reached the ears of the common people, and this can threaten the stability of the kingdom. A large portion of the population is against the concept, not being in a mind to forget the events of the Giant Troubles. But a significant portion is desperate for any allies in these times. There have been some rumblings of dissent over this policy, with small incidents of minor violence occurring. The hobgoblins themselves continue to trade with the Sterich and generally follow their chief’s lead in their attitudes on this alliance (FN 7). Keoland’s racial tolerance policy has reached a turning point, and it remains to be seen what will finally come from all this.


NOTES:

1: Bentazur was the war wizard for this particular Keoish unit at the start of the retaking of Sterich. Its commander was killed on a botched first attempt to storm the giant stronghold. Command then fell to Bentazur. He is also highly unusual among the King’s Agents for being of Bakluni heritage. Having experienced a little bit of racial bigotry himself while working in Bissel may have led him to be more open than most to the idea of negotiating with the humanoids.

2: The quality of their work is excellent by humanoid standards and humans highly value their edged weapons as being exceptionally sturdy and durable. Even a dwarf warrior, when presented with a dagger as a gift remarked that “it is not completely useless, a dwarf child might do as well on his first attempt to make a weapon”. It must be noted, however, that the dwarf still kept the dagger.

3: The tribe got its name from the exploits of its founder and greatest hero – Tor-Jorok. Hobgoblin legend has it that Tor-Jorok slew a great red dragon who was threatening the tribe. This in itself was a great accomplishment, but it is said that Tor-Jorok killed the dragon using only his dagger. He sacrificed his life in slaying the dragon, and his dagger was lost in the battle. Whether there is any historical basis for the exploits of Tor-Jorok is subject to scrutiny. While it sounds fantastic, there is a claw of a small red dragon mounted on the staff of the tribe’s battle standard…

In honor of Tor-Jorok, the tribal elders decreed that all their enemies will be slain by nothing but daggers. This being impractical, the hobgoblins came upon an inventive solution, they would engrave a dagger on every sword, hammer, arrowhead, and spear tip. Thus, in a sense, they would always be honoring their greatest hero by using a dagger without sacrificing using better weaponry.

To this day, many young warriors of the tribe become questing adventurers, looking for Tor-Jorok’s lost dagger. It is rumored to have the power of red dragon slaying (as per the sword) as well as other bonuses against dragons (such as fire resistance) and intelligence as well.

4. Indeed, more than one Sterich soldier has commented that they were impressed by the courage under fire the hobgoblins showed when they repeatedly attempted to scale the sheer walls of the stronghold. Even the small contingent of dwarves (who had originally protested against allying with the hobgoblins) gave grudging respect to the hobgoblin pikemen who slew three giants using surprisingly advanced and creative polearm tactics and techniques.

5. Kordan Badaxe is famous dwarven giant slayer and was made a lord of a rich territory in the Little Hills. His loyalty to Keoland and Sterich is still strong, but first and foremost he is a dwarf lord and his fealty is through his dwarf masters. The fact that he has spoken with Bentazur at the Council of Niole Dra in support of this effort has swayed many opinions in its favor.

6. Dhaar is truly a remarkable hobgoblin. He is much more worldly then most of his kin, having traveled all throughout the Jotens, Crystalmists, and Hellfurnaces as well as Sterich and western Keoland. His has a high charisma, relative good looks (by human standards), better than average intelligence, and can speak fluent common without much of an accent. He has formal training from several human warriors while he visited Sterich and has adventured quite a bit in service of his tribe. He should be treated as a mid-level fighter in combat and his alignment is lawful neutral (with a slight tendency to good deeds).

7: The tribe has been steadily growing following the end of fighting in Sterich. The Black Dagger tribe presently consists of over 400 hobgoblins. While they are still generally Lawful Evil in alignment (to include Krell Daggerstorm), there is a growing minority that is tending to a Lawful Neutral outlook (primarily those who deal with the Sterich on a regular basis). But because they are lawful, they stay true to their oaths (when they give them). They are recognized by the black dagger engraved on their weapons, embossed on their shields and tabards, and the tattoo of the dagger motif on their left shoulders.

Their territory is in the northern Jotens, near the Little Hills border, and encompasses about 20 square miles of rugged hills and scattered woods. Their iron mines are still yielding much ore, and they recently found a large deposit of coal. They have recruited a small (100 member) tribe of goblins to dig the coal and they treat them relatively well. They border Lord Badaxe’s territory and have sent a small contingent of traders and diplomats to Kordan’s hall to attempt to open trade with him.

This tribe is also unique in that the hobgoblin females are treated almost as equals to males. While Black Dagger females are not often warriors or miners, they do other work which has, over the years engendered the respect of the males of the tribe. Females often work to smelt the ores as they are brought to the surface. They have also come to dominate the merchant business with the Sterich, becoming known as sharp traders among the people there. There are more and more females working in the many forges of Aggrethor as daggersmiths. They are also the majority of the Black Daggers bowyers and fletchers. Krell Daggerstorm’s own daughter, Gyla, is herself one of the premier weaponsmiths of the tribe.


The Black Daggers: Contd..

 

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Re: The Black Daggers (Score: 1)
by Argon on Tue, September 30, 2003
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Most people I know would say this is shabby work. But I would disagree. I thought you gave valid reasons for the alliance. While you hint at the thought of a hobgoblin on the council. You also make sure to point out that this has caused an uproar in the Kingdom of Keoland.
While I did not spot any misspelling's some of the work could be worded better. Overall I found it an enjoyable piece of work.
I look forward to seeing a few more write ups on what happens next. This will definitely have some interesting occurence's. I hope you can continue upon the basis of this story.



Re: The Black Daggers (Score: 1)
by Gnarley_Woodsman on Tue, September 30, 2003
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[quote]Time of Troubles[/quote]

I wouldn't have used that term. Hehe

Good work though. It has promise. I would like to read more.



Re: The Black Daggers (Score: 1)
by PSmedger on Wed, October 01, 2003
(User Info | Send a Message | Journal) http://www.canonfire.com
I think this article is fantastic! Very amusing.

I'm the author of the Keoland material in the LGG and LGJ and while I might not have taken this direction myself, it shows just how creative fans can be by having fun with the source material! I can just see the high-minded ladies of Council fainting straight away...

Kudos!

-Gary




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