An Overlord's Fable

Disclaimer: I own one copy each of Fable III and Overlord II. That's it.

Chapter 2: Brown Bequest

– The Candidate –

The Dark Tower

The teeming Brown horde led the Overlord-to-be towards the gaping maw-like gates that were the doors to a dark and foreboding tower made of black stone, which loomed tall over the barren landscape around it despite looking like something had blown half of the structure apart. The hall immediately inside the doors looked like it had seen better days, with piles of rubble that must have been the entire floor above collapsed over most of the floor. An enormous hole in the wall and floor to the right held an impromptu staircase made of stones and wooden planks, going deep into the bowels of the structure. It was a dark descent that nearly spelled the end for the Trainee Tyrant with the many near-falls he took, if not for the crowd of Minions that caught him every time he tripped and set him aright.

Finally, they reached their destination, a large sand-bottomed cavern with four areas separated from the center by jagged stone walls. The place was filled with dozens if not hundreds of Brown Minions.

"My word, the Dark Tower's Spawning Pit! I though this place had been destroyed with the rest of it ages ago in the Great Cataclysm!"

Why are the Browns here? Was the only thing the Trainee was concerned with. Rather than waiting for Gnarl to answer or whatever, he instead posed the question to Giblet.

"Gnomies tunneled into Netherworld, stole Mastahs stuff!" The Brown exclaimed in explanation. "Even took Apocalyptor! Giblet took Browns and chased Gnomies far! Back to Old Place! Giblet lost most Gnomies, but found some hiding in New Spree!"

"That's it my Lord!" Gnarl spoke up. "Some of those Gnomes must have taken the Spell Stone they stole to New Spree and got help from the Halflings when Giblet found them! We need to pillage the village and get it back!"

I deduced that much Gnarl. The Trainee commented wryly. But I don't think we'll be able to assault the Halfings and villagers with just Blues. "Giblet," He asked aloud, "Where is the Brown Hive?"

"Filthy Dwarvses took it!" The Forgemaster snarled. "Tunneled under to get at Old Master's Treasury, and took Hive when we wasn't lookin!"

"Dwarves too! What is this, an Old Enemy Reunion Bash?"

"Never mind that." The Trainee scolded. "Giblet, can you take me to the tunnels the Dwarves dug?"

"Yes, yes, yes!" The Brown was quite obviously excited, dancing with joy. "We go, take most experienced Browns! GASH!" At the call, a Brown minion walked up, wearing a hood and wielding an axe that was as big as itself. Following it was an assortment of what must have been the meanest Browns in the cavern, eighteen burly spear-Minions armed with deadly, brutal-looking serrated-head spears and wearing gnarly-looking iron armor.

"Master, I'm sending Grubby the Digger to clear a tunnel to the Old Tower, I suggest sending all but five Blues back to the Netherworld. Dwarves are tough, greedy little buggers, and you'll need both the Brown's strength and the Blue's magic to get by in their tunnels!" A rumbling filled the cavern, before four of the Minion Pits popped out of the ground, the Blue one assuming its ziggurat-like active form. On top of the dormant Brown Pit was a Brown wearing a miner's helmet and with a pickaxe over one shoulder.

"Grubby!" Giblet squealed, running up and engulfing the Digger in a great big (for Minions) hug. The Digger made a choking sound and started pounding on Giblet's back to try and get the Forgemaster off.

"Giblet, focus. Dwarves, Hive?" The Trainee reminded. The hammer-wielding Brown nodded and stepped back, wiping a tear from its eye in a way that the Trainee Tyrant couldn't help but find comical as he gestured for the Blues to go. All but five of the aquatic Minions rushed forward and leaped into the Blue Minion Pit, leaving Giblet, Gnash and the outfitted Browns to merge into the Trainee's Horde. Giblet took the lead.

"Follow me!" He led the Trainee and his Horde back up the stairs to climb up the heap of rubble in the Dark Tower's foyer, and then through a series of hallways until they came to an enormous vault door, hanging open to reveal an empty chamber with a ridiculously large tunnel in the back wall.

"Damnable Dwarves, stealing from our Master's treasury like that! They must suffer!" During Gnarl's mini-rant, a gaggle of Gnomes rounded the distant corner, and then froze at the sight of the heavily-armed Browns and the leather-clad Trainee Tyrant. A simple thought sent the blood-thirsty Minions surging forward to stamp the small group out. The Trainee walked forward with the Blues at his heels to see the resulting carnage. By the time he got to the Browns, the Gnomes were little more than dirty smears on the tunnel floor, and about half of the hardened Minions had taken the curious little caps the annoyances wore as ear-warmers.

– The Minion Master –

Gnarl surveyed the scene through the link between the Netherworld and this latest, only Overlord Candidate. This one was a bit of a puzzle. Gnarl could remember inducting many previous Candidates into their Overlordship, and the only ones that took to the position like this lad was doing were those who had grown up with Evil or were under enchantment, like the Second Overlord of the Dark Tower and the Overlord of Nordberg. If it weren't for the fact that this lad was a Candidate and not some sycophant for the latest Overlord, Gnarl would have been suspicious of his intentions.

Nevertheless, for such a young one, the Trainee took rather well to Overlording in the field. His swordsmanship could use work, and Gnarl would have to get a feel for his magical abilities once they got the Spell Stone back from New Spree, but for such deficiencies, he performed marvelously when he and the Horde came across his first Dwarf. It wasn't anything special compared to some of the insanity Gnarl had seen in the Second Dark Tower-Lord's reign, or Lord Gromgard's rule, just a short dirty miner in a tunic and overalls and wielding a pickaxe.

The Trainee made the mistake of walking up to the creature like it was a Halfling. It took an instant for the Dwarf to rush the Master-to-be, bowling him over and readying the pickaxe to be driven through his eye. Giblet managed to get the Dwarf first though, with a truly beautiful blow from his Forging Hammer that smote the embodied beard in its skull and splattered brains all over the tunnel wall.

"Good blow." The Trainee Tyrant groaned, climbing back up to his feet. "I have to ask, are all Dwarves going to be like that?"

"Well Master, the helm of Overlords is a fairly distinctive mark, and most of the creatures in the area around the Dark Tower that survived the Great Cataclysm don't exactly have fond memories of Overlords." Gnarl informed, noting how the Trainee paused to consider that. Gnarl could practically see the abacus clacking in his Candidate Overlord's head as he calculated. This one was like the First Overlord of the Dark Tower, like the Original Overlord. Calculating, smart. Neither the Second Tower-Lord nor the Conqueror of Nordberg had been dull-witted, but they had planned on the go, charging into situations head-first and 'winging it' as the lingo went these days. This new one planned.

Gnarl couldn't wait until the Netherworld accepted him. It would be…memorable.

– The Candidate –

It didn't take five minutes for a swarm of Dwarves and Gnomes to respond to the noise that the short encounter had generated. It was made up entirely of brown-clothed Gnomes and more of those Miner Dwarves, and their clattering approach was heard long before the force itself made it into view. This allowed the Trainee to array his forces properly, planting himself in the center of a defensive line that had four Browns alongside him and five ranks behind him with the Blues in the very back of the formation. The Miners tried to bull-rush the line as the one earlier had the Tyrant, but the Browns were experienced Dwarf-Fighters, some of them even dating back to the invasion of the Golden Hills centuries ago, and were prepared with spears braced against the mass charge.

The skewered Dwarves were heavy and it took a few moments for the front-line Browns to pull their spears out of the corpses. Luckily, the second rank climbed over them to assist the would-be Overlord in resisting the remaining Dwarves. At this point, the Dark Lord-to-be noticed a phenomenon that had escaped his attention as yet. As the Gnomes and Dwarves died, some sort of luminescence sprang from their dead bodies and formed into orbs of energy that were almost immediately absorbed into the gem on his gauntlet, as soon as he walked within a certain distance of them.

Gnarl, what is that? He asked, as a reddish orb formed out of a Miner and was absorbed.

"Ah, Lifeforce, Sire! The crux of the Minion forces! The magics bound to the Command Gauntlet concentrate the escaping life energies of dying creatures in your vicinity, preventing them from escaping and allowing it to absorb and transmit the Lifeforce back to the Netherworld's Spawning Pit to spawn more Minions!"

I see. So, I kill more things and then get more Minions?

"Yes Sire. Certain creatures give different kinds of Lifeforce, which birth one of the four different Minion Tribes."

By now the small force was dead, with some of the orbs of Lifeforce floating away from the Trainee. Rather than let their Master go and get them himself however, the Minions in his Horde eagerly leaped forward to grab the spheres of energy and bring them to him to be absorbed into the Command Gauntlet. He couldn't fault their loyalty. Some of the Blues started ripping off parts of the Miner's leather clothing and armor to wear as their own meager protection before the Trainee waved the Horde onward. There were a few more encounters with Miner Dwarves and their accompanying brown-clothed Gnomes, but they proved to be much less challenging now that the Trainee knew how to deal with them. Simply let the Browns do their job, and if they happen to have an accident, send a Blue. They made good time with this set of tactics, clearing about five hundred feet worth of tunnels in an hour according to Grubby, as relayed by Gnarl.

They stopped working almost as soon as they reached this enormous cavern, which happened to be filled wall-to-wall with Dwarves armored in steel chainmail and armed with rather large axes. The Trainee ordered the Minions back into the tunnel before setting them up in a similar defensive formation they used against the earlier Miner-rush. It didn't work quite as well as with the Miners, the 'Warrior' Dwarves rushing just as stupidly as their less combative brethren and surviving due to their armor in most cases, discounting the lucky Brown that got its spear to go through a weak point or exposed area in the armor.

With the Dwarves at close range, it fell to the Trainee, Giblet and Gnash to fend them off while the spear-Minions took a few steps back to re-engage at a range more favorable to their choice of weaponry. A few of the Browns fell during those few seconds, but their fresh corpses were passed to the rear quickly for the Blues. As he parried a light axe-blow from a Dwarf and countered by stabbing the clawed fingertips of the Command Gauntlet into the eye-slits of its helm, the Trainee wondered if this newfound degree of coordination was due to the apparent experience of the Brown fighters or the presence of their Overlord.

The fight became easier shortly after the full force of the Minion Horde was properly brought to bear. While it still took longer than the fight with the Miners, once the Tyrant-in-Training settled the Horde into one of the narrower parts of the tunnel, the Dwarf Warriors were forced to come in two at a time, allowing the line of five Spear-Browns to focus on the weaker and more vulnerable points in their armor. There was also a swarm of Gnomes that came in with them, but were forced to trickle in a stream of brown, green and blue hats that were pathetically easy for the Tyrant, Giblet and Gnash to deal with.

Well, until this one glowing gnome in red clothing leaped and latched itself onto the Trainee's helmet.

"Agh! A Suicide Gnome! Quickly my Lord, wrench the little pest off of your face and throw it away!"

Easier said than done! The Tyrant had his gauntlet around the glowing thing, but getting it off was proving to be surprisingly difficult. It had quite the grip on the helmet, and it took another moment for him to wrench the creature off and toss it screaming at the next Dwarves to enter the confined stretch of tunnel. The Suicide Gnome bounced off of one Dwarf's helmet and exploded, blackening the helmet and sending the short bearded creature keeling backwards and blocking the tunnel for a moment.

"That could have been very painful." He grunted, before ordering Giblet and Gash to keep an eye out for any more of those glowing red Gnomes. By the time the battle ended, there were swarms of Lifeforce around that the Minions busied themselves collecting and bringing back to their Master. As soon as the Dwarves and Gnomes were looted (the Blues in particular liked their shiny new pauldrons and ear-warmers) the Trainee led the Horde back towards the cavern. Now that the thing was free of Dwarves and Gnomes, they could see the heaps of treasure that littered the cavern floor, gold and silver and gems glinting in some sort of magical light affixed to the ceiling.

"Bah, those thieving Dwarves have carted off most of the Master's treasure!" Gnarl snarled inside the Tyrant's head.

Most of it? Then this…

"Is only but a fraction of the riches the Second Overlord of the Dark Tower claimed. Still, it's too much for your Command Gauntlet to teleport back to the Netherworld Treasury…Grubby! Get a tunnel to that cavern so that the Master can move his treasure...Oh, really? Well then get a move on you waste of Lifeforce! My apologies milord, but there appears to be a lot of particularly hard stone surrounding that cavern. It will take Grubby a bit of time to crack it."

No problem. I could use a rest.

Gnarl's Guide: Minions

Minions, where to start? Well, to start with the obvious, we're a loyal bunch, that's for certain. We spawn and die as the Overlord wills, and do so gladly. Over the years, we've been compared to many creatures that the simple folk have dreamed up, like goblins, gremlins, and whatnot, when in reality those are just distorted accounts of Minions at their work for their Overlord.

Now, the life of a Minion begins in the Hive. When the Overlord obtains Lifeforce, that juicy energy that Vampires want and Zombies lack, it is transported through the Gauntlet Gem and into the Spawning chamber, where it is deposited into the hive that matches its element. Now, I won't go into detail about the complex magical and biological processes that turn that Lifeforce into a bouncing brutal Minion, since the last time I did so the listener's head exploded – Not as funny as it could have been since he'd been a Candidate – But suffice to say, this and that happens, and a new Minion, ready and raring for action is born.

At this point, one of several things can happen to this Minion.

First, and most likely, it can be sacrificed. Overlords just can't go about using common weapons and armor like any half-rate hero from a village of peons! No, the Overlord needs equipment of the Darkest and most Evil nature, something easily accomplished by dumping several dozen Minions into the smelter as the item is forged, giving it all manner of properties depending on the base metals used in the process and the Minion blend. Newborn Minions are also commonly sacrificed to bring back deceased veterans, those who died and were unable to be raised by Blues in the field, something done rather easily since such veterans are easily worth the price of a few dozen newborns.

The longer a Minion lives, the less likely it is to be sacrificed, given that an active Overlord is typically out-and-about gathering more Lifeforce, spawning more Minions. If a Minion is lucky, it may even see action in combat with the Master! Typically, this is more likely with newer Overlords that have yet to develop their 'Honor Guard' of battle-hardened Minions, ones that have fought and bled for the Master time and again, even dying several times. As an Overlord lives longer and gets more experienced with controlling his Minions, he takes even more and more into the field to fight with him. At this point, it's practically inevitable that the Minion will die, whether being eaten by a large slug on its first outing, or getting mauled by a Panda at the height of its career! As said above, the particularly good Minions may be revived to serve their Overlord again, and again, and again.

The Minions that beat the odds may find themselves taking up important roles in the Castle/Tower/Other Evil Headquarters, like Forgemaster, Graverobber or Potter. After all, there are other jobs that need doing!

Minions come in four distinct Tribes, each identifiable by skin color and tertiary characteristics.

The Browns are the most down-to-earth and mundane of the Minions. They're tough, strong and just barely smarter than an old sheep. Browns are the most numerous of the four Tribes, due to the sheer abundance of Brown Lifeforce in the world. Due to this, they're typically the most expendable, given that any decent Overlord will have large reserves of them. They serve as the Frontline, always first into the peasant's pitchforks. Due to this, Browns also typically become the most experienced troops, gaining proficiency in the use of a variety of weapons and shields and whatnot due to scavenging them from the carcasses of their enemies. Off of the battlefield, Browns guard the Overlord's base and his territorial acquisitions, clean the headquarters, polish his shoes, terrorize his peasants and whatnot.

Greens, there is no polite way to say it, stink. They reek, and from Hive to grave they don't bathe. Supposedly, this allows them to camouflage into their natural jungle habitat more easily, but I'm more inclined to think it halfway kills their targets before they start stabbing! Despite their stench, Greens are the quietest and most agile of the Minion Tribes, making them perfect assassins and scouts! Outside of that however, they're pretty much lazy bums, although their knowledge of weak points in the bodies of many creatures makes them good torture technicians, and one can judge the efficacy of one's poisons and other such substances by having the Greens taste-test them. The general rule is that the better it tastes to the Greens, the more effective it is against everything else.

A fiery Tribe, the Reds serve as the ranged support for the Browns and Greens, generally hanging about somewhere high and lobbing fireballs at the hapless peons that try to assault our Overlord. Like the fires that men burn, Reds have a plethora of uses, among these keeping the Forge hot for the Master's use, heating the headquarters, and helping cook the meals. While most of the other Minions eat what one would normally expect of living creaturs, Reds also like to drink oil and eat rocks. They say it helps with roughage…eugh.

The last of the four Tribes are the Blues. While physically weak and incompetent in melee combat, the Blues are the most mystical and intelligent of all the Minion tribes. Why, the newborn Blues can even count higher than two! Due to the high amounts of magic in a Blue, they are the most resistant to magic spells and waste, an example of this being when the Overlord of Nordberg used them to clean up the Magical Wasteland that was the lands around the Dark Tower. A side-effect of their magic allows the Blues to breathe water and swim, something the other Minion Tribes are completely useless at. This makes them excellent for fishing and other aquatic duties. Their magical nature also gives the Blues great affinity with the afterlife, allowing them to resurrect those Minions who just didn't duck in time, so long as they got to them before the Minion's soul departs. And even then, the oldest and wisest Blues can bring back the long dead using the souls of other Minions.

– The Author –

Alright, second chapter done.

Gnomish Kill Count: 677/50,000

Review replies:

Takeshi Yamato: Really? Aw man, you're missing out!

Omegalus: That it does.
Yep, although there'll be a bit more of a focus on the Netherworld Tower first.
Actually, it'll mainly be a shout-out that ties in to one of my favorite movies back when I was a kid, although you can bet Quaver's going to continue the title tradition.
At this point, it's mostly a joke.

Genobeast: Pretty much.

Knightmare Gundam of Ni