The sun dipped low on the horizon it’s red orange rays igniting the distant mountains in violets and indigos. The wreckage from the trading caravan still smoked in the dying light although the battle was long over. Crows cackled and beat their wings in the surrounding trees, the wracking sobs of a man drawing his last breath keeping them at bay. One lone living figure picked through the wreckage and broken bodies to sit on a stone before the writhing man attempting without success to keep his entrails within his body.
"It is a stomach wound. You don’t have much time left, although the moments you have will be painful."
"I am no cleric and I do not think I would help you even if I were."
"No, I will not grant you mercy. I have no compassion for you and the ones that attacked these traders."
"I am hobgoblin. I am Wyvurn the Fire Blessed. I earned the name a long time ago when I survived being hit in the face with alchemist fire. Despite what you humans think, goblins and hobgoblins do not get along. Especially since I am considered contaminated with elven blood and not true born.
"At least that is what I have been told. I question whether or not it is the truth. I never knew my parents and only have what my adopted family told me. Perhaps it is true and perhaps it was just another indignity that they wished me to suffer since I was not their own.
"When you are not accepted amongst your own kind and you are regarded as a monster, as you so eloquently put it, by most civilized races, you tend to immerse yourself in your work. For me, that was training to be the perfect warrior. I knew the only way I was to earn respect was to prove that I was useful to my tribe’s warlord.
"All my life I have trained and studied the ways of a multitude of martial disciplines and I have become quite proficient. Alas, proficient is not enough when you are of a race that raises every able body to be a warrior. One must be truly exceptional to stand out. I was not.
"So I cheated. Yes, you heard me correctly. I cheated. It isn’t just arcane magic users that make pacts with dark powers and performing endless hours of weapon katas while walking across hot coals isn’t the only way to become an elite swordsage. No, you can make pacts to be better at fighting and ki can come from a darker place than perfect mind and body attunement. All one must do is ask.
"I did and it has allowed me to achieve my desired goals. The price is that at some point I will need to feed off of my foes to maintain my powers. And I may be damned to the lower planes for eternity; I did not bother to ask about that. Maybe I should have. Regardless, when I achieved what I wanted I know longer desired the favor of my people. Instead I left. I am not sure what I want now, but I will wander the lands until I find it. Unfortunately, as you can see from my face, my decision to leave was not very well received.
"Am I evil? I don’t know. I have no desire to pillage like you and your companions. In fact, I felt a strong desire to defend them and dispatch those who choose to prey upon the weak. I genuinely wish that I might have arrived sooner. I think that makes me honorable, but we shall see what the future holds for me. Perhaps I will serve another king as long as he is just in his rule or maybe I will one day be a king myself.
"I am sure about your future, though. It is not very good. I do not know why I told you all of this perhaps because you are not going to be telling anyone anything very soon. It does feel good to get this….oh, I see you are already dead."
The sun sets and the hooded figure stands and walks on down the road allowing the crows and creatures of the night their spoils.