The Silver Tower Chronicles Adventures in other worlds, other times, and other realities

22May/13Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0047

The group struggled the next day, exhausted from a night without sleep. As lunchtime passed, the group surrendered to their need for rest. As the dusk came, the goblin returned to survey his handiwork. The exhausted humans were mostly asleep and even the watch was drowsy. Mere harassment might not be enough to wake them as they seemed to be nearly dead asleep. The goblin began to work on a few tweaks on some of his traps.

As the light waned, the goblin launched his assault. He triggered several of the logs that he had repositioned then use his knife to cut the lines holding them. The momentum of the swing was retained as the logs flew through the air and crashed into the human camp. A scream of pain told the goblin that the immense missiles hit hit something. He had cannibalized several of his traps to create the unguided missiles but it was worth it. The goblin then looked to the small pile of rocks covered in weeds at his side.

He had left them out to dry several days ago and now they were ready for his next assault. A bit of flint used against the steel of his knife provided a spark. His sling lobbed the flaming stone through the air as he moved to the next pile of rocks and did it again. He kept moving between five piles he had made until he had finished unleashed a fiery hell upon the humans. The people in the camp scurried about trying to aid the injured and avoid the flames.

The goblin knew better than to push his luck. Once the stones were gone, he fled back towards his home. It was not a moment too soon as several arrows flew through the wood towards the five locations he had been firing from. For the moment, the Beast that Takes Trophies waited and watched. The furor in the camp slowly quieted down as everything was brought under control. Three of the rangers were wounded, one with a broken leg and the other two burnt and bruised.

Enzi looked to the group, “The goblin won't let us sleep at night then. He wants his advantage. I say it is time we gave him that advantage. We have those in our group that can see as well in the dark as any goblinoid, if not better. Most of you should return. He will pick off the unprepared too easily. Tomorrow we sleep during the day and then we head out at night to finish this.”

Medeus Tarim looked to the other rangers, “All of you go. I will stay and see this through. The base camp may need the rangers and we have lost too many as it is.”

The bulk of the rangers headed back north as Enzi's Irregulars and Medeus Tarim began to dismantle traps. The work on the traps was interspersed with multiple rest times. Finally daylight crept over the horizon. The group slept and rested. The goblin had returned to his home. The time for the final battle had come. He sharpened his knife to the finest edge he could. The goblin wondered how many foes he could fell before he was finally toppled.

That night the goblin watched as the enemy crept closer to his home. He did all he could to set off his traps but he did not have any left that could surprise the humans. The dwarf and the minotaur pointed out the goblin's location quietly and arrows sailed. The Hunter of Man fled to his house, surprised that he had been spotted. The Irregulars soon arrived at the squat abode. There was no way the larger people would fit inside. Ritter sighed and prepared himself to lead the way. Mayitso was ready to back him up. The lycanthrope could not see as well in the dark, but his sense of smell could pick out a goblin amidst the other foul smells of the area.

Ritter kicked in the door of the hovel, his shield raised in front of him. A crude axe trap shattered against the heavy shield. No light shone in the goblin's home, but that was no impediment to the Halz. More troubling was the sheer number of places to hide and the horrific stench. He saw the hundreds of skulls lining the walls and piled on the floor. Their foe could be hiding anywhere with all the available cover. Mayitso sniffed the air, fetid with the scent of the rotted bits of the trophies that had been discarded in one corner.

The goblin leapt at the back of the dwarf. Mayitso turned and snapped at the flying goblinoid but missed in the darkness. It was enough to warn Ritter. The Halz tried to turn towards the goblin. The knife missed its mark and did not penetrate Ritter's thick armor. The real fight was on. The Halz had fought several goblinoids before. He swung his heavy warhammer through the air and the goblin ducked under it and tried to keep behind Ritter. Mayitso backed off, giving the dwarf room to fight.

The warhammer smashed through a pile of skulls as Ritter missed again. The goblin was skilled at avoiding things. He had a great deal of experience in surviving, but his luck had to end. The goblin was not trained for extended combat with multiple foes. He was skilled in guerrilla warfare. Ritter positioned the goblin with a few expert swings. Then Mayitso leapt. The goblin avoided the lycanthrope's vicious jaws as he snapped wildly in the dark. Yet that was what the Halz had been expecting.

The warhammer connected firmly with the unarmored goblin's chest. The goblinoid skidded across the floor in pain. He rolled to his feet and leapt back into combat. Ritter landed another blow against the weakened goblin. This time the sound of breaking bone could be heard. The goblin fell to the ground, wheezing. A third blow finished the combat. The Hunter of Man would take no more trophies. Time passed quickly after that as news was brought outside. The area was soon alight with the flickering flames of torches.

The inside of the goblin's home was soon investigated. Medeus Tarim took the encrusted knife as proof that the deed was done. Beyond that, the group filled the squat building with whatever vegetation they could find. Then they set it aflame. The flames roared to life and consumed the dead. When the flames had finally died down Aldebaran used his immense strength to topple the stones and cause the home to collapse upon itself. It was a great deal of work and morning had come by the time the makeshift grave had been finished.

***

Arrival at the base camp led to several surprises. There were several new people there, the first wave of reinforcements had arrived. A great pile of slain enemies also laid outside the camp, burning. Enzi reported back to General Cassius Tessium while the rest of the group mingled with the base camp. He quickly learned that the attack had come shortly before the reinforcements. The battle had looked grim, but the rangers that had gone on the hunt returned and attacked the force from behind.

The reinforcements were mostly Ravaleian. A few Nuvroci warriors had arrived as well. The young ranger Lunaris had vanished. No one knew where she had gone off to. However, it appeared that she had been replaced. It looked like some young Ravaleian girl had followed the warriors to the camp. Enzi figured she could not be more than fifteen years old. What struck him the most about her, however, was the way the Ravaleians seemed afraid of her.

“I see you noticed that the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same,” the Nuvroci general said.

“Yes, Cassius. What happened to the other young one?” Enzi asked.

“Her aim greatly improved over a few days. I've never seen anyone concentrate like that. Once she figured out the trick, she was hitting the target constantly. She said she was going to go out to find tougher targets to hit by hunting small animals. I assume she will return at some point, likely with a large amount of meat once she figures out how to hit a small moving target.”

“I guess the extra supplies won't hurt,” Enzi stated, “Plus it keeps her out of trouble. What is with the new one?”

“She is a mage of some sort,” Cassius replied, “There has been less tension with the Magehunter than expected though. I am more worried about her attitude.”

“What is the problem?”

“She seems to be overconfident of her power. She intimidates the people around her. They have even taken to calling her the Storm Queen.”

Enzi shuffled over to find Beren. He was hard at work maintaining his gear. Beren also seemed to be keeping his distance from the Ravaleian mage.

“You don't look too much worse for wear,” the Feergrus man said.

Beren chuckled, “It has been an interesting few days. The goblinoids tore up my chain shirt pretty good. I have it patched up for now but a good blacksmith would be nice. Then there is the little Ravaleian girl. I know we need some magic against some of the foes the Tarvoni may summon, but that girl makes me wonder if perhaps magic is an evil force after all.”

“That bad?”

“To her the power makes her better than everyone else. It makes everyone else subhuman.”

“Hopefully having a Magehunter around will keep her in line.”

***

The quiet had been nearly maddening. The goblinoids had not made any moves for a while and were gathering their forces. An assault was expected at any time. A messenger finally came from Kurrot with a tale of what had blunted the goblinoid incursions. A team of the greatest Bladestorms of Kurrot had entered the Goblinoid Lands and led a great slaughter of their forces. The attack had been led by the Master of Blades herself, the powerful Jaeris Hyn.

It was being called the Battle of Lake Hargis. It had been a brutal battle that had ended poorly. The Kurrot had been badly outnumbered in the end. They had turned the goblinoids back but no one knew what had happened to the Bladestorms and their leader. This tale seemed to affect one person more than the others for obvious reasons. It was Syrian Dow, a Bladestorm of Kurrot. He immediately began to pack up for a trip.

“What do you think you are doing?” Cassius asked.

“What I have to do,” Syrian replied, “I need to find the survivors. No goblinoids would end them all. Jaeris would find a way to survive and she would save as many as she could.”

The Kurrot man rushed off as Enzi looked to Cassius, “Odd to think of a female Master of Blades. The last I had dealt with the Kurrot, they were not that egalitarian in their treatment of the genders.”

Cassius nodded, “They are not. A lot of the Kurrot do not believe she is worthy. She has not only had to be the best of the Bladestorms, She had to be the best by a huge margin.”

“I suppose we should help Syrian in this,” Enzi said.

“If those warriors did as much damage as they say, perhaps you can get in and out. Plus a chance to strike again won't hurt. If you think you can survive, go for it. Anything to give us time for more reinforcements.”

Enzi quickly gathered up the Irregulars and they chased after Syrian. The Kurrot smiled as they followed him southwards towards the Goblinoid Lands.

“I appreciate the aid,” Syrian said, “I have to know what happened to them.”

“It is possible that they are already back in Kurrot. Your messengers are fast but that note had to take time to get here.”

Syrian nodded, “Then we can follow their path of destruction and get rid of any goblinoids following them. That should keep the goblinoids bottled up for a while longer.”

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