Rocky Escape

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My feet collided with loose gravel and decided, without my consent I was better off without them. I was sliding down and gaining speed. I couldn’t be certain, but the stream of unintelligible devil language told me Kalista wasn’t far behind. It was impossible to see the bottom. The shale and loose stone abraded my backside. I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to.

A violet light flared and burned arcane sigils into my vision. It felt like someone had grabbed hold of my arms and slowed me down some before letting go again. The light flashed again. I saw the same sigils and felt the same tugging. I couldn’t see the bottom yet, but I felt I had slowed down enough to risk grabbing a stone. The stones buffeting my hand ripped open several new small cuts. I managed to grasp a stone the size of a wine cork, and pull it into me. I clutched the stone to my chest and focused on it. I muttered the few arcane words I knew into the stone. A cool, relaxing, energy flowed through me and pooled into the stone in my hand. A clean, pure, white light washed out of the stone and filled the entire tunnel.

The arcane sigils that had been burning into my eyes were carved into the walls at regular intervals. I slid past another set, but wasn’t blinded when they flared. Just at the edge of the stone’s light, I could see Wyanet. She was standing in a loose semblance of a horseback stance, and would shift her weight every now and again to stay upright. I still couldn’t see the bottom. Pulling what leverage I had, I chucked the stone past Wyanet. The stone lit up a long arc, bounced once, and started tumbling, pulling even more stones with it in a miniature landslide.

Several minutes passed, we kept falling. Kalista had fallen silent, but one of the warg pack had fallen in as well and the creature was whimpering. The stone rolled to a stop, and was immediately smothered by the cascade it had carried. Wyanet reached the bottom. Her front foot came to a complete stop, and she tucked into a perfect somersault to keep from falling on her face. She bounced up, weapon at the ready.

I tumbled out next. I couldn’t recover. When I hit the floor, I tucked my arms in and bounced across rough-hewn stone until I came to a backbreaking stop against a stalagmite. My back cracked and protested as I got to my feet. Every part of me felt like ground meat. I stumbled toward the gaping tunnel mouth that had spit us out.

More gravel cascaded down. The elf limped up behind me, half of the arrow stuck in his leg was missing. He grunted, wheezed, and snarled the entire way. Kalista erupted from the opening. Her arms and legs flailed as she barreled into me. Kalista’s weight pushed me back to the ground. The back of my head got personal with the stone floor. Black and white stars danced in my vision. Kalista rolled away. I stayed motionless, waiting for every pain to stop.

A disembodied voice, sweet as fresh summer honey whispered to me. “You need to move, my child, you are not yet out of danger.”

I sat up. My head felt like it was coming apart. The stars cleared from my eyes in time for me to dodge a panicked warg and Goblin rider.

The warg drove its face into the ground. There was a gut-twisting crunch, bone-shattering snap and one final whimper. The warg went ass over tea kettle, its Goblin rider thrown. When the warg settled, it didn’t move again. The Goblin picked itself up, batted its own head once, and looked around. The elf grabbed the Goblin by the neck and dangled it a foot off the ground with a single hand. The Goblin squealed and squirmed, its legs unable to find purchase. The veins in the elf’s arm started to pop, and the Goblin stopped moving. The elf dropped the dead Goblin.

“Anyone else still alive?” the Elf called.

Wyanet stepped out of the shadows. Half of her face covered in blood, but she was moving fine. The sprite hovered close to Wyanet. He didn’t even have a speck of Goblin blood on his doublet. I stretched my legs out in front of me and propped myself up with my arms.

“What in the name of the nine is that thing!?” Kalista demanded. She stumbled into our little circle. She was soaked to the bone, not unlike the rest of us, and her gambeson had a new tear or two, but she didn’t appear to be bleeding.

The sprite whipped out his rapier and zipped over to Kalista, cursing her in Sylvan the entire way.

“He is a sprite, you foolish half breed,” The elf braced himself against a stone column and slid down it to a sitting position. “I am curious where he came from, but he deserves our respect.” The elf bowed his head as best he could to the sprite. “You have my thanks, cousin.”

The sprite returned the bow and came back to my side. “His name is Stargazer,” I said. “I saved him when I was young, and he has been with me ever since. Normally, he rides along on my pack, but every now and again, he jumps into a fight, or if he gets bored causes some other people grief.” Stargazer flew up and sat on my shoulder.

“Is there anything anyone can do for light?” Kalista asked, “Or are we going to chat in the dark?”

Stargazer quirked an eyebrow at me.

“Go for it, they all know you’re here now,” I replied

Stargazer fluttered up and threw his hands above his head. Dozens of little motes of light the size of fireflies danced in the air and filled the cavern with a soft warm glow.

Wyanet stalked between the Elf and me. She had dropped her spear and shield, and doffed her rucksack. Wyanet strode right to Kalista and punched her in the face with a left hook. Kalista got knocked back. Wyanet seized hold of Kalista’s gambeson and pulled her back. “Why did you abandon us last night!?” Wyanet demanded.

Kalista stared at Wyanet and stammered.

“What if that warg pack had found us while we slept?” Wyanet shook Kalista like a wolf with a rabbit. “Answer me.”

Kalista regained her senses. Blood trickled down her now split lip. “I came back, didn’t I?”

The Elf started to struggle back to his feet. “Don’t,” I whispered. “It won’t help.”

Wyanet threw Kalista to the ground. “I do not care that you came back.” Wyanet snarled. “How can we trust you? Why should we trust you? We were depending on you, and you left us. How do we know you will not do it again?”

Kalista’s eyes quivered. “I’m sorry.” She cried. Kalista pulled her knees to her chest and wrapped her arms and tail around them. She couldn’t meet anyone’s gaze.

Wyanet lorded over Kalista with an unrelenting, boring, stare.

“Wy,” I said, keeping my tone even and calm, “We have other things to figure out right now.” Wyanet turned her angry gaze to me. “We’re all injured, some of us worse than others, and we haven’t even started. We can deal with her later.”

“Yeah, those little monstrosities shot me with my own arrow. What kind of luck is that?” Cealdrim interjected.

“We all could use a few hours to recover, maybe dry our gear while we’re at.” I said.

“We will need watches then. I do not trust those that avoid the sun by choice.” Wyanet added.

“I can take first watch.” Kalista piped up.

“No.” Wyanet scowled. Kalista slid back into her sulking.

“I don’t need to sleep that long.” Caeldrim offered. “If you take the first two watches, I’ll take the third and fourth. That’ll give me time to work some spells as well. We need to find a secure place first.”

“I can agree with that,” I stated. I forced myself up, “I’ll see what I can find nearby.”

The story will continue, June 20th. Stay tuned for more.

Written by: Sweeney

Creating original content in an online space is a time consuming process. If you find it in your heart, please donate a few dollars at the link above. Thank you, you are appreciated!

Beasts of War

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Blarg, the furious bugbear chieftain charged me and my injured Elven ally. I still hadn’t seen Wyanet and the other Goblin captives had fled. The Goblin camp burned. Smoke and ash clung to the ground, beat back endlessly by torrents of rain. Several Goblins lay dead at our feet.

The Elf picked up an extra discarded shortsword. “What’s the rest of your plan, monk?” Panic nipped at the heels of his voice.

Time was running out. I shifted into a wide defensive stance. My entire body braced for the coming Goblin wave. I was clueless about what to do. They outnumbered us, escape was unlikely. My mind sprinted through every possible option as I tried to figure out which death would hurt the least.

A crossbow cracked. A Goblin on my far right fell face first into the mud. The Goblins kept charging. They were twenty feet away. Blarg raised his great club.

A familiar voice cut through the storm and battle cries. “Vous avez un petit pínis!”

One of the Goblins beside Blarg stopped, looked back toward the sound of Kalista’s voice, fell to its knees, and started sobbing. The rest of the pack didn’t stop. They were ten feet away. Blarg formed the point of an arrow formation.

A foot pressed into the thigh of my back leg. I buckled under the weight as they jumped off my leg. I looked up. Wyanet leapt over me and landed with a roll. She sat on her rear leg. Her shield in front of her. She thrust her spear at Blarg. Blarg reared back, all his momentum lost. The wings of the Goblin charge wrapped around the three of us. I was ready for them.

My first new opponent thrust towards my abdomen. I shifted to the side, the attack passed by with no effect. I retaliated with a back fist to the Goblin’s face. The Goblin stumbled back. The next attack came from an overhead axe strike. I caught the shaft of the axe below the head. I kicked its wielder in the groin. I didn’t set my leg down. Instead, I added a kick to the Goblin’s nose. I swung my leg to the side and brought it up in a near-perfect split. My leg dropped onto the Goblin’s clavicle. I felt the bone break through my mud-caked shoes. The Goblin let go of the axe and collapsed, unsure what broken part to hold.

I didn’t dare spare the time to see how my companions fared. The Elf was laughing. I knew Wyanet could take care of herself. I hurled the axe I had taken in a random direction without care.

Something bashed into my right knee from behind. My leg buckled again. I anticipated an attack coming for my head. I twirled my sword around. There was a thud, and a cudgel snagged on the blade. I wasn’t fast enough. The next Goblin was already in place, its sword going for my throat. I closed my eyes, and readied myself for death.

The pain never came. Warm, sticky liquid splashed my face. Something sliced deep through the muscle beside my shoulder blade. I cried out in pain and yanked my leg out of the mud. The Goblin squealed like a stuck pig. I twisted around. The Goblin had dropped its weapons and it batted at the air. Multiple thorn sized stab wounds dotted the Goblin’s face, neck, and hands. A one-foot tall Sprite flew up to me on the glistening dragonfly wings that grew from his back. He saluted me, and went back to harrying the frightened Goblin.

   I pivoted back to the other Goblins that were attacking me. The Goblin that had been seconds from opening my throat had grown a horn in the shape of a crossbow bolt. The other Goblins hung back a bit, trying to figure out a plan. I stepped forward with my left leg and put my sword in a middle guard. I stole every second I could. I glanced at the Elf. One of his stolen swords had broken. He had several fresh wounds, but he hadn’t yet fallen. I glanced at Wyanet. Her entire torso heaved. I couldn’t see any blood on her. Blood matted the fur on Blarg’s chest, four crossbow bolts stuck in his back.

A horn bellowed over the clangour of battle, the howls of wolves soon followed. The Goblins around me started to cackle. The Goblins near the Elf stopped. The Sprite landed on my unwounded shoulder and grabbed a lock of my hair for stability. Blarg paced back and forth in front of Wyanet. I looked past Blarg and Wyanet to where Kalista had been losing bolts.

Kalista came barreling over the hill, half running, half sliding, her crossbow in one hand and her sabre in the other. Directly behind her, three more Bugbears riding wolves the size of small cows crested the hill. A pack of mangy dogs rushed over the hill, followed by twenty or thirty more Goblins, all mounted on massive wolves.

Blarg roared and swung his club. Wyanet, distracted by the new threat, got hit full force upside the head. Wyanet tumbled to the ground. Blarg pressed his attack, swinging his club and trying to stomp on Wyanet. Each blow intended to end her life, and avoided by a diminishing margin.

I panicked. I jumped and kneed the Goblin before me, shattering its nose. As I landed, I grabbed the Goblin’s head and rammed my elbow into it until I felt something else break. The Goblin crumbled to the ground, unrecognisable. I lashed out with my sword. The Goblin to my right, surprised by my ferocity, struggled to keep his bowels in.

“HELP HER!” I hollered at the jostled Sprite. Without hesitation, he bounded off after Wyanet. The last Goblin I faced tried to run away. I split the tendons in its leg with a single swipe and stomped on its neck.

The Elf was about to decapitate another Goblin. I plunged my sword through the back of the Goblin’s skull and out its mouth. The Elf took a step back, startled. Yet another Goblin shifted its attention to me. I punched it in the face with enough force to rip open my knuckles. The Goblin staggered back several feet and fell on its ass, confused.

I grabbed hold of the Elf’s tattered tunic. I jerked him close to my face. “If you’re coming with us, get to the cave!” I let go of him. The Elf nodded and started to limp his way to the cave.

I whipped around. “WYANET!” I screamed. She had recovered, but she was still on the defensive. The Sprite flitted about, launching arrows the size of toothpicks at the Bugbear and dodging his backswings. I sprinted at the group. “WY!” I shouted again. Wyanet didn’t look. Blarg did.

I seized the distraction. In a single action, I resheathed my sword, jumped, and wrapped my legs around Blarg’s neck. I boxed Blarg’s ears. His eyes fluttered, and he staggered back. I locked my feet against his chest. I leaned back and summoned every ounce of strength I had left. The manoeuvre didn’t work as well as I had hoped, but I drove Blarg down into the mud. I pulled my leg out from under his hulking form before he could recover.

The warg pack was ten feet away. Kalista was five, and still running. I scrambled to my feet. I sprinted for the cave mouth. Wyanet sprinted a good distance ahead. She ran into the cave and vanished. The Sprite strained to keep my pace. I wrapped my hand around his body, and clutched him to my chest. I dove through the mouth of the cave and plunged into darkness.

The story will continue, May 16th

Written by: Sweeney

Creating original content in an online space is a time consuming process. If you find it in your heart, please donate a few dollars at the link above. Thank You, you are appreciated. 

Oncoming Storms

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Wyanet and I jogged through the forest. Mist penetrated every layer of clothing. Soaked to the core, our every motion felt heavy. Kalista had abandoned us. I was certain we ran headlong into the waiting arms of a Goblin-masked death. The gentle rise of the hill emerged from the mist fifty yards ahead. Thunder rumbled overhead.

“Listen for my signal.” My hand found Wyanet’s arm. We stopped. “Once we are together again, we’ll make a break for the cave.”

Wyanet didn’t answer. Her eyes jumped at every sound. I grabbed her other arm and gave her a gentle shake.

“Wy?” The look in her eyes reminded me of a hungry animal. “Are you here?”

Wyanet focused on me, the woman I had first met months ago gazed back. She leaned her spear against her torso. Wyanet reached up and grasped the curve at the back of my head. She pulled my head to hers. Wyanet whispered in her native tongue, “Wakan takan kici un.” She let go and stepped away.

“Be safe my friend,” I whispered.

We went in separate directions. I moved to the opposite side of the gully as silently as the shadows I hid in. I scaled the rocky hill that formed the back of the cave. Despite the rain, I could smell the meat rotting on the drying rack. I clambered on my hands and knees to the top of the hill, a rumble of thunder greeted me as I approached.

From the top of the hill, I could see the drying rack. It groaned under the added weight of the dead woman from the day before. They stripped, gutted and strung her up like livestock. The cage that held the prisoners was thirty feet away. A miserable Goblin

wearing a shirt of poorly repaired rings leant on an axe with a broken beard. Huddled in the corner of the cage under a tattered tarp, the remaining woman and the gnome used the man as a pillow. The elf sat in the centre of the cage. His back was stiff as a board. He watched the cage door.

I brought my legs up and got into a low crouch. I took a few deep breaths. Pulled my sword from its scabbard, and focused my entire being on the shadows before the Goblin. I took another deep breath. I stepped off the front of the hill and into the world of shadows. Sorrow and anguish clawed at my mind, threatening to consume me. I stepped back into the material world as quickly and effortlessly as I had stepped out of it. I reappeared at the tail end of a flash of lightning, now face to face with a startled Goblin.

The Goblin jumped back against the cage. It scrambled to bring its axe up. I grinned. The Goblin opened its mouth to cry for help. My sword, honed to a razor’s edge, passed through the Goblin’s throat without effort. It gurgled once and crumpled at my feet. I flicked my wrist and cleaned off most of the brackish Goblin blood. Lightning flashed, thunder boomed, a crow cawed.

“Your attempt is admirable, monk, but your subterfuge is about to be undone.” The elf said. He now stood with his arms through the bars. I couldn’t tell how old he was. One of his eyes was swollen shut, he was missing half an ear, and his once resplendent silk shirt stained with blood.

With a single strike, I cut the rope that bound the cage closed. “ What do you mean?” I asked.

The elf pointed at something behind me. I followed where he was pointing. Half a dozen crows had started to peck at the rotting meat on the drying rack. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a Goblin poke its head out of a nearby tent. It held a crossbow, and it saw me before ducking back inside.

“Shit,” I mumbled to myself. “Hey!” I called to the other three captives, stealth no longer an option. “It’s time to go!”

The drying rack groaned again. Somewhere a rope snapped. Timber clattered to the ground. A drumbeat began in the centre of the camp, its tempo constant, and its volume increased. The elf stepped out of the cage. He snatched up the axe from the dead Goblin and moved ten feet closer to the Goblin camp.

The gnome woke up first. He saw me and jostled the humans awake. The Goblin drum beat was louder than the thunder. Rapid footsteps squelched in the mud.

“Hey! You lazy humans!” The elf shouted back. “Now’s your chance! In the name of the Wildmother get out of here!”

A lone Goblin charged the elf, and promptly lost its head. The elf collected the dropped Goblin sword before it hit the ground.

The humans realised what was happening and tripped over themselves to get out.

“Can you get away from here by yourselves?” I asked quickly. Several more Goblins had appeared, and the elf now fought four by himself.

The gnome spoke up. His speech hurried struggling to contain his excitement. “Yes, yes, I take them to my village, we be safe there!”

“Go, may the gods keep you safe.”

The gnome grabbed the hand of the humans. The woman pulled away. She rushed over to me and planted a kiss on my cheek. I nodded and pointed toward the hill with my sword. The man, a burly fellow with legs as thick as tree trunks, picked up the gnome, grabbed the woman’s hand, and sprinted in the direction I had first come from.

I shifted my attention to where the elf was fighting. Three more Goblins laid dead or dying on the ground. The elf fought six more, but he was losing ground. I bolted towards the fray. When I got close enough, I launched off the ground. I flew through the air, shifting my body to drive my left foot forward. My kick connected with a Goblin. The Goblin, thrown off balance, tumbled away into the mud.

I landed. A spear shaft shot towards my gut. I rolled to the side and lashed out with a heel kick. The kick caught the Goblin in the side of the head. It staggered into one of its fellows. The elf saw the opening and brought the scavenged axe down onto the Goblin’s skull. The elf jerked his axe twice. It didn’t budge. He abandoned it in time to parry a sword lunge with his off hand. A Goblin on the far left tried to hack at the elf’s forward leg with a hatchet. The elf slid his leg back. The Goblin missed. The elf tossed his sword into his right hand and plunged it through the Goblin’s throat.

I dodged another spear. I kneed its wielder in the nose. I was starting to feel like we could win.

Bowstrings twanged. I bent backwards. Two arrows, one with filthy black fletchings and the other with magnificent white, sailed through my space. I grabbed the black arrow out of the air and threw it back in the direction it had come from. There was a grunt, and I knew the other arrow had found the elf.

An arrow shaft protruded from the Elf’s right thigh. He twisted and pointed two fingers at a tent in the direction the arrows had come from. Two Goblins stood in front of the tent knocking another round of arrows. A thin streak of orange light shot from the elf’s fingers. The tent ignited. The archers scattered.

Lightning flashed.

Thunder boomed.

Drums pounded.

An angry roar echoed through the camp.

The fighting paused. Our current opponents backed away. They snickered and cackled.

The burning tent illuminated the camp, and I could see Blarg charging at us at the head of fifteen more Goblins.

The story will continue, May 9th

Written by: Sweeney

Creating original content in an online space is a time consuming process. If you find it in your heart, please donate a few dollars at the link above. It will help keep me producing content for time to come. Thank You, you are appreciated. 

Midnight Mischief

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Wyanet, Kalista and I slid down the small hill we hid behind. We ran off into the woods, wary of where our feet landed. A heavy angry silence chased us through the trees. We didn’t stop until Kalista collapsed from exhaustion and the shadow of night concealed us. We had witnessed a woman kill herself to escape torture at the hands of Goblins and we were all shaken by it.

“Let’s make camp here for the night.” I wheezed. I had doubled over and struggled to breathe. “We should be far enough away.”

Kalista forced herself into a sitting position against a tree clutching her side. “No…” Her chest heaved as she tried to suck in air. “Fire…” Kalista coughed, nearly falling over. “There might be more nearby.”

Wyanet had shed her rucksack and stood ready for an attack. Her shoulders bobbed as she tried to get control of her breath. She had her back to us, her rawhide shield strapped to her left arm, and she pointed her spear at the gaps between the trees.

“Wyanet?” I stated.

“Humph?” She grunted in response.

“We need to figure out what we are going to do,” I replied.
“We help those people, and kill all of the Goblins.” Wyanet returned.
“Damn it, woman!” Kalista exclaimed. “We’re not going to get attacked. Now sit your ass down so that you two can figure out how to get past those gobelins.”
Wyanet scowled at Kalista. She sat down, folded her legs, and set her spear and shield at her side. “You speak like you are not going to help.” Wyanet accused.
Kalista waved her hand like she was brushing away a fly. “Our deal was for me to show you where the cave entrance was, not to fight Blarg and his brood. I showed you where the cave is, now I’ll continue on my hunt.”
“You know that bugbear?” I inquired as I sat down beside Wyanet.
Kalista snapped back, “Yes, I know him.”
“How?” Wyanet snarled.
Kalista crossed her arms and tried to lean back further into the tree. “He was one of the three bugbears that Clas ran off when we settled here. We killed the eldest brother, but Blarg and his younger brother Clarg escaped with a handful of Goblins. I followed them for a few days but they weren’t a threat.”
I replied, “That was more than a handful of Goblins.”
Kalista spread her arms and shouted in exasperation. “I don’t know!” She caught her mistake and lowered her voice. “They must have taken over another tribe or something.”
“It looked like they were preparing for a war. If we do not stop them many more people will be killed, or worse.” Wyanet stated.
“Wy is right. We may not be able to kill them all, but we can try to slow them down for a while.” I added.
“No.” Wyanet declared. “We will kill all of them.”
Kalista fell silent and watched us bicker.
“There are too many of them for the fi…” I faked a cough, “three of us to take out alone. Remember why we came out here in the first place. We can’t help those kids if we are dead.”
Wyanet stared at me and waited for me to continue.
“What’s your plan, Willow Twig?” Kalista asked, cutting the tension.
“Now you want to help?” Wyanet sneered.
“I might help ” Kalista responded as she crossed her legs. “Or I might be gone before you two wake up. I don’t know yet.”
Wyanet gave Kalista a glare that could freeze water. “If you leave, when those Goblins start to kill everyone in your village, every one of those deaths will be your fault.”
“Enough!” I demanded. “This isn’t going to get us anywhere.” Both of the women fell silent. “Kalista, we still need your help. I don’t know if we’ll be able to get past them without it.”
“Alright Willow Twig, I’ll hear you out.”
“Okay,” I relaxed a bit, “first, we’ll have to free the prisoners. If we’re lucky, some of them will be able to fight which will make everything a little easier. While I’m doing that, Wyanet, you will go through the entrance of the gully and create a distraction. Kalista, you’ll sit on the hill where we were today and support Wyanet. After the prisoners get away, Wy and I will enter the cave. Then you get to go do whatever you like, Kalista.”
Wyanet nodded in approval.
“Sounds solid.” Kalista remarked, “When do we strike?”
“Just before twilight. Most of them should still be asleep then.” I replied.
“We need to sleep then. I’ll take first watch.” Wyanet stated.
“I’ll take second,” I added.
Kalista pulled a grey wool blanket out of her pack and wrapped it around her. “That gives me plenty of time to sleep.” Kalista held up the blanket with her left hand. “The nights still get cold, and it’ll be worse without a fire.” She said to me.
“She’s right,” Wyanet offered. “we should share body heat.”
I looked at both of them and reluctantly sat down beside Kalista. I removed my sword and placed it within reach. Kalista had already done the same with her sabre and hand crossbow. I grabbed a corner of the blanket and wrapped it around my shoulder. Kalista wrapped her arms around my torso and brought her half of the blanket around completing our wool cocoon. Kalista used my chest as her pillow. She smelled faintly of rose water with hints of leather and sweat. I forced my mind to wander to less intimate places as I drifted off to sleep.
Wyanet woke me up a few hours later. Kalista was still fast asleep and snoring softly. She was warm and my body didn’t want to get up.
“It is your turn to take watch,” Wyanet whispered as she gently shook me.
My eyes snapped open. We were still surrounded by darkness and I could smell rain in the distance. “Anything happen?” I asked, dislodging myself from Kalista.
Kalista groaned and mumbled something before settling back in.
“I heard some howling about an hour ago, but it was far away,” Wyanet answered. She took my place and slid in close behind Kalista, wrapping the blanket around them.
“Wolves?” I pressed. I slid my sword into its customary place.
“I do not think so, they sounded larger.”
I frowned in the darkness. “Okay, get some sleep.”
Wyanet laid her head down and fell asleep. I turned my back on the sleeping women and studied my immediate surroundings. Kalista and Wyanet slept between the exposed roots of an ancient yew tree. A mix of oak, ash, maple and poplar trees surrounded our hasty camp. One of the maple trees nearby had a branch that stood nine feet above the forest floor. I took a deep breath and sprinted on my toes toward the tree. I launched myself at the tree branch.
The branch was slick with moisture, but I kept my grip. I used the rest of my momentum and twisted my body around until I got my feet back under me on the branch. I scaled the tree another ten feet and found a spot where several branches connected to the trunk and I could sit in a decent level of comfort. I nestled into my perch and watched as my companions slept.
Nothing happened during my watch. Clouds rolled in and blocked out the stars, and occasionally I would hear an owl or fox screech. I woke Kalista up after a couple of hours and told her the same things Wyanet had told me. I switched places with Kalista pressing my chest to Wyanet’s back and wrapped the blanket around us. Wyanet was cooler than Kalista, and smelled of earth.
“Keep us safe,” I whispered too quietly for Kalista to hear. A small determined grunt came from behind me, and I slipped back to sleep.
Wyanet woke me up hours later. It was still dark, and the clouds I had watched move in now spit a fine misty rain at us. I was already soaked. I sat up and pulled on my hood. It didn’t help. I looked around the camp and only saw Wyanet. “Where’s Kalista?” I inquired.
“I do not know,” Wyanet replied. “She was gone when I woke up. She took her supplies with her.”
I wiped the rain from my face, “Fantastic.”
“We should go,” Wyanet replied. “The rain is on our side.”
I shrugged off the sodden blanket and tried to wring it out as best I could before rolling it back up with a length of cord. “We’ll need to stick together and hope nothing goes wrong.” I secured the blanket on my back. Wyanet made sure her pack was tight, and we set off through the forest towards the Goblin camp at a slow jog.

The story will continue, May 2nd

Written by: Sweeney

Creating original content in an online space is a time consuming process. If you find it in your heart, please donate a few dollars at the link above. It will help keep me producing content for time to come. Thank You, you are appreciated. 

Hopeless Circumstance

Kalista, Wyanet, and I sat in the shade of an oak tree in the middle of the forest, on a sunny spring afternoon. We ate a light lunch of common field rations and listened to Wyanet tell a story about her past that Kalista had conned her into. Kalista had shed her gambeson. She sat with her legs crossed leaning back against her hands. I had doffed my cloak and sat on it like a blanket.

Wyanet took a long deep breath. She sipped on her waterskin, folded her hands and placed them in her lap. “Love is not made for my kind.” Wyanet started. She paused and took another second to collect her thoughts. “I have had many lovers. Every one of them abandoned me in some way.”

Tears started to form in the corners of Wyanet’s eyes.

“Love is a trick.”

A tear crept down Wyanet’s cheek, and she brushed it away.

“I do not wish to speak of this anymore”

Wyanet reached into her rucksack and fumbled with something out of sight.

“This is a stupid game. I do not wish to play again,” Wyanet snapped.

A mix of emotions sprinted across Kalista’s face. She reached for Wyanet’s hand, thought better of it, and pulled back.

“I’m sorry.” I hung my head.

“Why are you sorry, you did not have anything to do with their betrayals.”

“No, but it’s just what…”

Kalista jumped up and pulled her gambeson on. “Let’s get moving again.” She interrupted. “If we don’t we might not make it to the cave before nightfall.” Kalista turned away from us and replaced her hood.

I looked at Wyanet, she wore an empty expression as she rewrapped the uneaten food in linen and tucked it into her bag. I threw my cloak on and jogged after Kalista, who was already a hundred feet away.

“Where did you find her, Willow Twig? She’s just a great big ball of sunshine.” Kalista asked as she heard me catch up.

“She found me,” I replied. “I was on the road about a month back and I had a run in with some highwaymen. I wasn’t myself at the time, and there were too many of them. Wy came out of nowhere and single-handedly saved my ass. We’ve been together ever since.”

Wyanet caught up to us.

“You are both beacons of joy and happiness, aren’t you?” Kalista remarked.

I chuckled, “Why be happy all the time when it is so much easier to run away from your problems?”

Kalista was taken by a fit of laughter, “That is very true, and if I had a drink right now we would drink to that!”

Wyanet gave us a puzzled look, but nobody explained the joke. We continued on in near silence. We would stop every now and again to rest our legs. At one point, Kalista managed to shoot a hare we had startled from the undergrowth, or more accurately, insult it to death. The little creature hung from her belt, and promised to be a delicious supper.

“We should make camp. It will be dark soon.” Wyanet announced.

“The cave isn’t much further. We can camp there.” Kalista replied.

Something felt off to me. My stomach had started to twist itself and I became very aware of how quiet the forest had become. Kalista held up her hand and motioned for everyone to get down. The words to express my growing sense of dread caught in my throat.

“Merde,” Kalista whispered, “where did they come from?”

I crawled on my stomach to get beside Kalista, and Wyanet did the same on the opposite side. We laid on a small hill that helped form a tiny valley. Directly opposite us in the hillside was a narrow rocky opening just large enough to fit a man without crouching.

The entire valley area hosted a collection of crude hide tents of various sizes. The space in front of the cave mouth had several drying racks made from small trees that were sagging from the weight of dead animals on them. Across from the drying racks, was a cage made from tree limbs as thick as my wrist that had been lashed together. Inside the cage were two women, a man, an Elf who had been beaten bloody and a Gnome with twigs in his hair. All of their clothes were ragged, but the women’s were far worse.

As we watched, two Goblins approached the cage. One of the women started to wail. The Goblins, each no taller than four feet, drew their swords and entered the cage. The first Goblin kicked the gnome aside. The second Goblin pointed its sword at the elf who sat in the corner ignoring what happened. The man grabbed the woman who screamed like a banshee and held as tightly to her waist as he could. The first Goblin grabbed the dress of the other woman and started to pull her from the cage.

Kalista’s panicked whispering caught my attention. “You can’t go down there!” Kalista was trying to hold Wyanet back with little success.

“We have to help them.” Wyanet countered.

I pushed off the ground with my left arm. I rolled over Kalista and landed on Wyanet’s back, forcing her to the ground. I wrapped my arms under hers and locked my fingers behind her neck. Wyanet grunted as she tried to force me off.

“If we go down there right now we could end up in that cage too,” I whispered into Wyanet’s ear. She stopped fighting, and we continued to watch.

The first Goblin had pulled the woman to the centre of the camp. Eight other Goblins had come out of their tents and were cheering on their fellows. The woman fought the Goblin as best she could, but it only ignored her. Even more Goblins had started to slink from their tents. The woman had stopped trying to slap the Goblin. She grabbed the frayed collar of her dress, summoned all of her strength, and ripped her dress open. The Goblin who had had a firm grip on the dress, tripped, and fell face first into the dirt. All of its compatriots laughed. The woman scrambled forward and snatched up the Goblin’s fumbled shortsword. She turned the point of the blade on herself, and plunged the jagged rusty blade into her chest. All the Goblins went silent.

A moment passed.

All twenty of the gathered Goblins burst out in a unified, high pitched, cackle. The other woman in the cage screamed. The first Goblin picked itself up from the ground, looked at the woman bleeding out, shrugged, and started fighting with the rope that served as a belt.

Kalista squirmed beside me, Wyanet put her face to the ground, and I felt her body go limp beneath mine.

“WHAT HAPPENING!” A very deep and harsh voice cut through the cackling.

A seven-foot-tall humanoid covered in coarse fur with a crushed bear-like face emerged from the largest tent. All the Goblins went silent again. The fury Goblin lumbered through the rabble. He got to the middle of the circle and saw the dead woman with the Goblin’s sword in her chest. The fury Goblin smacked the first Goblin with a paw-like hand. He then grabbed the smaller Goblin and hurled him across the camp with little effort.

“SLAVES FOR SPIDER LADY! NO KILL SLAVES!” The fury Goblin bellowed before lumbering back to his tent.

The story will continue, April 25th

Written by: Sweeney

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