FF016 – Salagorth’s Gambit


Hunting had not been good, and that was wonderful for Salagorth. Looking at the sunken cavern where Olo’s Troglodyte band stored their reserves, Salagorth smiled to see the supplies had dwindled to a few stray fish and a barrel of pilfered grain that had been overrun by mold.

Olo had led the Troglodyte band for as long as anyone could remember. The band was loyal to Olo. Olo had seen them through many perils, had lead them in many battles (and lead them away from many more). At one time any and every member of the band would have given their lives gladly to keep Olo safe.

That time had faded though, each loss, chipping away at the awe and reverence the band felt for their leader.

Olo had once, long ago, negotiated terms with the human city and the deal had held for a while. The Troglodytes caverns and rivers weren’t land the humans wanted, and the human lands held nothing for the Troglodytes. The bargain prevented either side from plundering the other and had kept guards and adventurers away for a generation, long enough for them to become myth to the younger Troglodytes,.

Then a new force had started growing and pushing outward, endlessly hungry for treasure. Again and again, Olo’s band had been pushed back, cast out of their place by the kobolds, and the other dragon-kin. With each loss, sentiment turned against Olo and with each loss the Troglodytes grew hungrier.

Salagorth wasn’t the first to think of striking down their leader, he was merely the first to act on it.

“We have nothing left,” Salagorth said, his voice the whisper of a knife cutting the silence the group around him sat huddled in. “Olo will not let us take what we need from the travelers on the river, and so we will starve.”

“Olo says if we attack the travelers, we will bring danger on the whole band,” Gumglumsh said, ducking himself half behind another member of the band.

“More danger than starvation?” Salagorth asked.

“Olo says there is food in the winter caves which will last us until more can be found,” Huularg said.

“And then there will be nothing for winter,” Salagorth said. “We must strike now! If we don’t, we will have no strength to strike with later.”

“What is this foolishness?” Olo said, stepping into the circle without anyone knowing they were present.

“We demand to attack the humans. We will die otherwise!” Salagorth said.

“We have stores,” Olo said. “We will not die. We will make it through this as we have made it through the other challenges we have faced.”

“You will not let us hunt to feed ourselves? You will not let us fight to defend our lives? And our homes?” Salagorth said.

“Stealing is not hunting, you would wake a terrible beast if you raid the humans, and you are not defending your lives or home. You would endanger them more if you did this thing.”

“No! I have the power to protect them!” Salagorth held up the medallion he had received. “The Great One’s magic will shield us!”

“You would turn to the ones who have driven us from our caves? You know nothing!” Olo spit on the ground at Salagorth’s feet and blinding rage burned through Salagorth like dragon fire through kindling.

“You’re the one who knows nothing!” Each word was a whispered threat and Salagorth didn’t waste time making good on it.

Before Olo could speak again, Salagorth had a spear in his hands. Without flinching, Salagorth plunged the spear into Olo’s chest. Olo looked shocked by this, as though there could have been any other outcome . Salagorth yank his spear out and stabbed over and over again. When the last wheezing breaths had left Olo’s body, Salagorth finally stopped and waited in silence for the words that must inevitably follow.

“All Hail Salagorth, Our New Leader! Hail Salagorth, Mightiest of Us All!” The Troglodytes took up the cry one by one, either fully committed to their new leader or wise enough to bide their time as Salagorth had done.

“Salagorth!” Bant, one of the younger members, spoke up. “There is a boat launching now. Very big, but only people on it. What should we do?”

Salagorth considered the problem. He needed an easy victory to secure his rule. A boat with only people on it meant people rich enough to buy passage. People who could be ransomed. Or who would become food and bring more people into their maws. Flush with his victory over Olo, Salagorth knew there was only one answer he could make.

“We attack! To Victory!” he shouted and lead the Troglodytes out into the river where he knew their destiny awaited them.

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