Null the Gnoll


"I'm starving," Null the Gnoll sullenly danced atop the hill. Her footsteps sent faint reverberations through the ground, a form of impact-language that allowed her to communicate with her home and best friend.

No sooner had Null finished dancing when the hill responded. A wave of rock erupted from the ground, forming a series of gnollish symbols.

Null rolled her eyes. "I can't eat grass, Hitop," she danced.

More symbols.

"I need meat! Some nice juicy bear...or maybe wolf!"

The wave of rock swirled around Null; she knew Hitop was trying to comfort her, but she was getting blasted with mud and sand. "Watch it, Hitop! I can't eat dirt, either!"

A sudden jolt sent Null sprawling. Hitop had halted. Null ran to the edge of the hill; far below the hovering mass of earth, the gnoll could see a stocky knight blocking the trail. "Hey!" Null yelled. "Mind moving out of the way?"

"You're a gnoll?!" the knight yelled back.

Swallowing curses, Null clenched her staff tighter. "Well, yes, but I promise I don't mean any harm! My friend and I are just trying to get back to Haven Falls!"

"Tell that to the hundred folks in my village who were just killed by your filthy kind!" the knight shouted. He let out a whistle, and the forest behind him exploded with a legion of knights atop their own Knolls.

Great, just great, Null thought grimly. So much for stopping Joluk's coronation.

The knights let loose with their plasma lances; a hail of superheated blobs rained down on Null and Hitop. Null managed to get a plasma shell up; the blobs were absorbed harmlessly. However, other plasma blasts pounded the ground. Hitop quaked with rage, and Null heard the familiar crackle of Hitop's magmapult.

Cones of rock opened all over the hill. As the tubes began to glow, Null threw herself to the ground. The air howled with the passage of Hitop's magma blasts. The lava bombs slammed into the attacking Knolls. Seven Knolls were caught off guard and shattered, their knights plummeting to the ground among the stony fragments.

The remaining fourteen Knolls opened fire with their own magmapults. Null barely saw Hitop's warning to hold on when the floating hill bobbed and barrel rolled out of the way of the onslaught. Null almost lost her grip on one of Hitop's stone handholds more than once, especially when the hill flipped upside down to avoid a particularly dense batch of lava bombs. The stench of scorched air attacked Null's senses, and yet there was something exhilarating about it. Null laughed despite wanting to throw up from all of Hitop's jolting about.

Hitop returned fire, shattering nine more Knolls. The remaining five Knolls decided the battle was rapidly turning out not in their favor, and quickly hovered away, their knights hollering curses at Null and Hitop.

Null danced in relief. Hitop arranged her rock wave in quizzical formation. Now what?

Null glanced down at the bodies of the knights. "Well...those knights are dead anyway. No sense in letting them go to waste. Make me a ramp down there, Hitop. I'm famished. After all, I can't overthrow a queen on an empty stomach."