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The Way of the Thrall
Scribe - Marc Beyer
"Thanks to Colin Chapman for inspirational thoughts on Thralls"

'Tis said by many folk that the Thrall have not the intelligence nor the articulacy for the telling of a good story. To this I reply that I have found many of their legends fascinating, for what they lack in imagination they easily compensate in sincerity of feeling and strength of theme. Let me give you an example in the form of a tale I heard from a grizzled veteran of the Borderland Legions one night in Ikarthis:
"It came to pass sometime in the early days of the Beast Wars that a caravan of travellers was attacked by the beastmen raiders. Though they managed to stave off the first onslaught, more beastmen arrived continually, so the travellers turned their equi and fled, pursued by the howling hordes. Amongst these travellers was one of each of the races of the Seven Kingdoms, and riding with them was a Thrall warrior named Targ. Since their animals were tired from a long journey, they could not hope to outpace the wildmen over the long miles to the nearest city, therefore they sought a place where they might better defend themselves, and came upon an ancient castle, silent and crumbling with disuse. The mighty iron doors were ajar but seemingly intact, and so the travellers flung themselves off their mounts and raced inside, clanging the doors shut before the very faces of the pursuing beastmen.

Once inside they looked around in wonder, for they stood in a huge entrance hall with a steep staircase leading upwards from there. They knew it not, but they had discovered the one-time abode of a mighty sorcerer, possibly even the great Koraq himself. The hall was filled with wondrous sights and ornaments such as they had never seen before and they gasped in amazement and wondered what the rooms of this castle might hold in store for them. Then it was that the Muse who had been travelling with them wandered off to examine the marvels of the castle and she was lost and never seen again. For such is the way of the Muses, they are flighty and impulsive and oft do not think on the dangers of the world.

The others began the ascent of the central staircase but paused on the thirtieth step, for there on a slim pedestal of stone lay a great magical bauble, splendid in it's own light. And the Cymrillian stepped forth to touch it, ignoring the cries of warning from his companions, and as his fingers touched the bauble he was turned to dust before their eyes and his soul was rent to pieces. For such is the mind of the Cymrillians, they are ever fascinated by all things magical and are oft led to their dooms by this fascination.

On they went and came upon a corridor with doors leading off to either side. And behind the first door they found a strange sight, for there in a glass bottle lay a live baby on a blanket, and the bottle was corked up and the baby was crying for want of air and food. There it was that the Gnomekin in the group stepped forward, for his heart was touched by the child's plight and he uncorked the bottle to let it breathe. But lo! Twas in reality a horrible demon that had taken the form of a baby to outwit them, and it sprang out of the bottle and consumed the Gnomekin with it's fire. For this is the weakness of the Gnomekin, though they are both witty and brave, that they're hearts are soft and they oft feel pity when it is uncalled for.

But Targ sprang forward and wrestled with the demon and subdued it, forcing it back into the bottle and firmly placing the stopper, thus saving the rest of the group. And as they went on they came next into a room where hung a great sword and below it there was a plaque declaring it to be destined for the greatest and bravest of warriors. As Targ stepped forward to take this sword as was his right, there flew his Aeriad companion past him, declaring himself to be a greater warrior and stouter of heart and he reached to grasp the sword. For such is often the manner of the Aeriad that they are oft overbearing and disdainful of the other races and know not their place among them and so come to ruin. And as he took hold of the hilt, his mind was filled with fear, for such was the power of the sword that it caused any who held it to feel great terror and dread. So powerful was the sword that the Aeriad died of his fright. But Targ grasped the sword and carried it and he feared not.

It was next that they reached the treasury of the castle and it was a huge room filled up with gems and gold, whereupon the Kasmiran ran forward and claimed the treasure for his own. He would not leave the room, nor suffer any to stay with him. For such is the way of the Kasmirans, their mind is ever on the riches they wish to attain and they are greedy and do not think on the other things of the world. But Targ took a fistful of the brightest gems and the Kasmiran dared not stop him, for Targ still held in his hand the sword of fear.

Thus they came lastly to the War Room of the castle and here stood many books and charts wherein were held many stratagems and theories of war. Here did the Sindaran look about and read in the books and study the maps in order to find a solution to their predicament, although it could be plainly heard from the entrance that the beastmen were striking heavy blows against the door which would not hold out for long. For such is the way of the Sindarans that they are oft preoccupied with theory and study and do not see the need for action when it presents itself.

So then did Targ turn alone and descend the stairs to meet the enemy and with him he took the great sword and some of the bright gems and also the bottle which contained the demon baby. And he stopped on the thirtieth step, readying himself for battle and when the beastmen broke down the doors and charged into the hall, he scattered among them the bright gems and they were confused, starting to pick up the gems and fight amongst themselves for their possession. And then did Targ throw the demon in the bottle amongst the beastmen, breaking the bottle, and the demon rose up and burned the beasts about him with great glee. And then did Targ take up his sword and strike the stone pedestal beside him a mighty blow, so that it shattered and the magical bauble fell off and rolled down the stairs into the mass of beastmen, and every beast that touched it fell to dust but not a soul was harmed,for the beastmen have no souls.

Thus it came that the beastmen were reduced by fire and magic and every one of them that escaped towards the stairs was slain by Targ who stood there with his sword of fear and gave no ground. And at last, though he was covered by blood both his own and his enemy's, Targ was victorious and he had vanquished the beastmen.

For such is the way of the Thrall, that they are ever ready for battle and fear not danger or foe awaiting them and they are not deterred by trivialities but keep always the fight ahead in mind and use whatever weapon comes to their hand."

(Editor's note: it is highly doubtful that this story is quoted verbatim, since the language used is not as one would expect it from the less than eloquacious Thrall. But the theme seems authentical enough and it offers deep insights into the mindset of this neomorph race. It is interesting to note, for example, that the only figure besides Targ which is given any praise at all in this story is the diminutive Gnomekin, while the Thrall grasp of Sindaran psychology is (as one would expect it) very poor...)

From "The Legends of the Seven Kingdoms" by the Sindaran author Nar Del'Kan

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