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Grizzletongue stood upon the stone platform, waving his totem over the cauldron. Fire blazed from beneath it, bubbling its contents into a steaming black morass. The smell was nearly perfect, a touch short of troll bile with the bite of a wyvern’s liver. He studied the brew with his good eye, took note of each bubble’s size before it burst across the surface.

“Another,” he rasped to the headsman.

The hooded goblin snatched up a nearby gray and tossed it in the mix. The screech of dying was short lived, and a plume of essence wafted upward. The lumpy bits of flesh and bones melted into the concoction, became one with the tarry liquid and left its surface like the skin of a newborn gnoll.

“Excellent!” Griz laughed, and the goblin host joined in. Their cackles echoed throughout the halls of the dark and broken castle, shook its crumbling stones until a shower of dust rained down from the shattered rafters. “The spell is all but complete.”

He glanced at the war golem towering behind him, a massive iron body bound by enchantment and the skill of a hundred goblin craftsmen. It was the peak of their ingenuity, colossal proof of their expertise, a monument for the clans and a beacon for their dark hearts. For the moment, it was but a shell. Soon it would march forth and every kingdom tremble at its approach.

“Bring him,” the shaman ordered.

With poles at each limb, the boy was lifted over the cauldron by four reds in war regalia. He had slumbered through the summoning. His clothing was strange and marked in a foreign language no magic could divine. He was pink and fleshy, a disgrace to his people. It sickened Grizzletongue to think that a human spirit would inhabit their greatest weapon, but he took comfort in knowing it was no ordinary soul.

“The most evil,” Griz began, and the host cheered on with glee, “vile, heinous creature that ever lived! With a bloodthirst to rival the greatest Arch Demon! A soul so black its only joy is in murder and destruction! This,” Griz shouted and raised his totem high, “is what we shall unleash upon the world!”

Rocks shook loose from the raucous cheering and crushed goblins into paste. Still the laughter ensued, the thumping of iron boots, the clashing of sword and shield, until Grizzletongue ended it all with a swift flick of his dirty nail at the boy’s neck. Silence fell over them, as the human body was drained of its blood and essence. When it was pale and empty, the guards tossed it aside and stood with their brethren in hushed anticipation.

Griz faced the war golem, searching for any sign the spell had worked. Whispers erupted from behind when no movement could be detected. The shuffling feet and murmurs of dissatisfaction began to grow louder.

The golem’s eyes lit up and glowed, red as a bloody sunset. Its hand twitched, the slightest of movements, but it was enough. Grizzletongue knew. His spell was a success. The golem turned its head, looked out over the gathered host, down at the shaman who gave it life, and opened its mouth to speak. Its voice echoed with hollow dread, as if death itself had spoken – three simple words that rang throughout the hall.

“What. The. Fuck.”

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