Dragonknights: Into the Birthright Frontier
Insightful, brave and loyal hobgoblin barbarian who desperately seeks the crown which has controlled the fate of his tribe for decades.
Before she got too old to keep up with the tribe and left to die in the swamps, Unnamed Hobgoblin’s mother’s mother’s mother used to talk about the way things were before their dragon died. Bound by magic and greed, the tribe had served the godlike beast for generations, guarding its lair, fighting the armored men in the warded mountains, infrequently tunneling beneath the wards to the soft green cities beyond.
The morning Ur’s mother’s mother woke and knew she could no longer hunt, she told her stories and went into the Dragonwall to die, just like their dragon. It had been killed in the tunnels. The tribe would have been killed too, but they were saved by a human with a crown — [Austin!] — and promised green lands of their own if they fought alongside the civilized races against the dead wizard. The Hobgoblin King had been very persuasive, and his crown — a point of considerable fascination in her stories — had a way of drawing the eye. It was as right to follow the King as it had been to follow their dragon.
If Ur’s mother had kept the old custom, in her stories she might have cursed the brown, stone-filled land the tribe had been given on the slopes of the Dragonwall, or the way traders from other races would smile at her tribesmen while explaining too patiently the rising prices. But she and other indebted tribesmen had long since disappeared west over the Dragonwall, shouldering packs like mules or working as guides for coppers a day. Some worked their fields placidly, sending the better part of their meager yield to Emudy or Scalar on unfavorable terms that went unchallenged because sharing and sacrifice were the virtues of the Hobgoblin King. Delivering aid to their allies remained the tribe’s purpose despite the war’s end.
Ur, for some reason not as deeply in thrall to the crown’s imprinted influence as most of his tribe, broke his indenture and fled into the Western wilderness. Hiding from the merchant houses and deadly monstrous races, he emerges from the wild from time to time to chase oddly detailed rumors of a crown, this week worn by a mad ogre tyrant in the River Kingdoms, the next in a ruined hall on the shore of the inland sea . . .