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An attempt to write something anything in one go and release, iterate and improve later if I take it further.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Day 16 - Dwarvelf Chapter 5 - FalconBred

Dwarvelf Continued - previous Chapters


'Where are we going, Papa?' Aelen had woken full of questions.  His quiet reserve of the previous day's flight from the kobolds a distant memory to the young Elf.
Ahead Taesha lead Apples the horse, ladened with bedrolls and food to cover the 3 days it would take to get to Dalgroth. 'We are going to my home.  We are going to meet my father.' They had been travelling for several hours, having risen before dawn and set-off on the main road west below the valley mouth. 

Durog came up behind Aelen and Bob, 'I think we should stop for a bit, have a quick bite to eat.'
'Sure. Aelen, run ahead and tell your mother to find a spot for us to stop for lunch.' watching as Aelen skipped away. 'You'd be hard pressed to think he was abducted by kobolds only two days ago.' 
'You would Bob, but then Elves, they're a weird bunch not scared by a lot, fearsome yet reserved.  Your Aelen though, he has the Dwarf in him. He was with you two before he could walk.'
Bob and Durog walked up on Taesha and Aelen. The young Elf helping his mother offload one of the many pouches carried by the horse. Apples' halter bad been tied to a low branch allowing him to noisily pulled grass; enjoying his lunch.
The four of them sat down on the ground, legs crossed facing each other.  The area that Taesha and Aelen had chosen was a bright green patch of grass in the shadow of some old oaks. A pleasant enough place for a brief respite, providing a view up and down the road so they could see if anyone was approaching from either direction.
The forest behind them was old, the oak trees that formed the bulk of the woods were aged, on average at least 300 if not 500 years old. The canopy of the forest linking tightly to create a pleasant area of shade for the travellers that then faded back into a shadowed wood.
'Aelen. Lad, I've got something for you.' without hesitation, Aelen shoved the last bit of cheese and bread into his mouth, got up and walked towards Durog; uncle Durog as he knew him.
'Yes, Uncle.'
Durog looking at the lad standing above him, paused briefly to size him up.  He knew what he was about to say and do would get him in trouble with Taesha. Taesha being the ferocious Dwarven mother that she was. It had to be done though. 
Pulling a dagger in its sheath from inside his shirt, he passed it to Aelen. 'Son has your father taught you how to use one of these?' Aelen took the dagger and weighed it in his left hand, grasping the hilt with his right hand he pulled the blade from the sheath. 
A clean double-edged feathered blade six inches long was revealed. The handle although a little oversized for Aelen's childlike hand he appeared a natural with the knife. 
'Durog, what do you think you are doing, he is just a boy.' 
'An Elven child, living with two young Dwarves in exile from their own families, hunted and abducted by Kobolds, with Drow kicking around.'
Taesha looked pleadingly to Bob for support. 'Bob, he is still an infant, he won't be able to use it.'
'Taesha, Durog is right.  I know Aelen is young, unfortunately, though I do not believe we can keep him absolutely safe anymore.' 
'He will cut himself.' she whispered before falling silent and watching what was going on with her only child before her eyes.
Durog continued 'You see lad, this was my first knife. I've had it all my life, and my father before me. It was destined to be Olin's next, but as he could not come with us, he asked that I pass it on to you. It was his way, even in his absence that he is hoping to give you some protection. Will you take this knife, and learn how to use it?'
'Yes, Uncle. Until it is time to return it to Olin.'
Durog smiled at the boy's formality 'Right then, let's begin.'
Bob and Taesha sat and watched-on as Durog started to instruct Aelen on the correct and safe handling of the knife.  He helped him thread a belt through the sheath, he fit the belt to ensure it was easily accessible to his right hand being his preferred hand. Once this was done, Durog gave him a sharpening stone and cloth.
'OK Aelen, that' is enough for now.' Bob and Taesha had packed up the remnants of the lunch and returned the pouch to the saddle bag and untethered apples ready to go.
'Right then, Lad, let's go.' Durog rose quickly for someone so old. 'The four ways is not far ahead, I do not think we will stay there for the night, there is a good camp an hour beyond the Inn.  It will be worth stopping to get an update on the road ahead.'
The four of them fell into line as before, this time with Bobmadik out the front leading the way, scanning the road ahead. Taesha leading apples behind him, with Durog and Aelen following up from behind. The older of the two surreptitiously studying the road behind them and the forest either side, while the young Elf proudly walked alongside his uncle with his right hand resting on the hilt of his dagger.
As the day wore on, the conversation between the four travellers dropped off, each becoming preoccupied with their own thoughts.  At first, Aelen had been querying his uncle about the lineage and history of his knife, while Bob and Taesha had briefly and quietly discussed details of his conversation with Durog, Dalia and Olin the night before.
'Uncle, someone is coming up the road behind us?
'What can you hear lad?' Durog did not turn to look, he continued his scanning of the wilderness about them.
'They are quiet, I think?'
'What does that mean?'
'Well, I can hear them, but they are trying to be quiet, it's like someone who is sneaking but in a rush.'
'OK lad I want you to go forward to your dad.' As Aelen ran forward, Durog stopped and turned to look back the way they had come from, He knew the road had been turning this way and that over the hills.  The path was empty.
Bob came up beside him 'What are you thinking?'
'Not sure, the description the lad gave me was a bit unsettling. Quiet but in a rush.'
'We're not far from the four ways'
'There is not going to be enough time, you keep on, I am going to wait and see.'
'There will be too many, you can't take them on.'
'I won't, Bob, you get going to the four ways, if they catch you, they will be stuck between the two of us.'
'Any idea on how many?'
'None, now go, so I can disappear off the road before they see me.'
Bob turned and hurried forward, Taesha and Aelen had lifted their pace.  He could see them ahead, it was best not to run as he did not want to alert those who followed, so he took up a pace that would have him gradually catch them.
'There getting closer papa.'
'Be brave, Aelen, Uncle Durog, and I will take care of this.'
Bob stepped up to Taesha, held her hand for a moment. 'Go to the Four Ways, Durog, and I will meet you there.'  Taesha nodded in agreement pulling apples forward and giving her free hand to Aelen.
Turning, Bobmadik stood in the middle of the road, he waited, thankful that the path they had been on had been relatively straight, providing a clear line of sight.  Off to the right, the forest had continued unabated and as thick as it was at lunchtime, a brief 6 to 10 feet from the road; to his left the wood was separated from the road by a green expanse of 70 feet. The sky clear and blue above, the sun providing just enough warmth to make it a great day for travel, a day where everything was calm.
Maybe whoever was coming was simply a group of travellers in a rush, trying to make the Inn before sundown; nothing more. If so he'd greet them and join them for the closing furlongs to the four ways. Checking his axes and dagger were clear he waited, it would not be long till he had his answer.
Moments after checking his weapons for the third time, any hope of a quiet walk with some happy travellers was dashed. Rounding the corner came an eight-strong horde of Goblins.  Short humanoids not dissimilar in height than the Kobolds from two nights earlier. A motley crew of green and brown skinned creatures, upright with long arms falling below their knees.
Each Goblin wore an assortment of armour and cloth, none of it maintained or in good order. A variety of weapons and shields spread amongst the group. As they slowed they all instinctively readied themselves, some with short swords and shields, simple light maces or clubs.
These flat faced pointy-eared creatures were a hunting party. Small enough in numbers to be able to move relatively quietly and quickly, yet numerous enough to overpower the lone Dwarf that now stood in front of them. 
After a few moments, the largest of the Goblins appeared to shake off its concern or worry of an ambush, it's wide mouth splitting in a roughly curved grin revealing a row of short sharp teeth, a guttural command. 
As one the eight Goblins started to run, three fanning out to the left of the road the remaining 5 down the road in pairs of two with the largest following up the rear.
Bobmadik stood his ground, he'd seen this before, these cowardly bastards were only attacking as they were confident in their weight of numbers.  What Bob knew was Goblins were not the brightest, nor the bravest of creatures. He knew if he held, he could bring one down immediately, and hold off more, and if Durog came up the rear to challenge their leader, the rest would break and run for their lives. He didn't need to win this battle just survive it.
Watching as the horde ran towards him, Bob waited, not moving, he knew he could not go to early, it was better he stood his ground and kept calm. As the creatures came within 20 feet, he reached behind, pulling his dagger from its scabbard. In one fluid movement, he flung his arm upwards releasing the blade, the calm of the battle washing over him as he watched it fly smoothly through the air and straight into the eye of the lead Goblin, the force hitting the creatures head hard enough to cause its legs to fly out from under it.
Drawing one of his axes he ducked low just as the second Goblin, mace in hand charged into him. Using the goblins momentum, he lifted the creature and let it fly legs over head behind him. Knowing that creature would be back, Bob swung his axe upwards as hard as he could, it's sharp piercing blade passing between the knees of the third Goblin to be embedded in its groin.  
Knowing better than to try and remove his axe mid-battle Bob looking around him to determine which Goblin was to be the forth drew his second axe, his third and final weapon. His adrenaline and battle calm allowing him to take in the whole scene. Durog had come up front behind as expected and had engaged with the Goblin leader.
He was surprised to see the three Goblins off the side of the road turn away from him.  At first thinking good we have broken them, then out of nowhere he saw an arrow. The arrowhead plunging into and passing out of the neck of the Goblin furthest from the road.
Momentarily stunned Bob was tackled from behind. The Goblin he'd flung over his head had lost its weapon and simply charged into him, the two of them falling to the ground. The Goblin rolled away as the one remaining creature from the four that initially tackled it lifted a mace high above its head, it's eyes bulging yet fixed on Bob intent on delivering a death blow to this one lone Dwarf.
Suddenly a violent blow to the Goblins left side threw it sideways, it's mace falling with deliberation and then losing its momentum and direction as its owner fell to the ground dead. The shaft of yet another arrow protruding from its ribs.
The Goblin that he'd initially flung over his back, and then tackled him scrambled to its feet and plunged into the thick forest 6 foot from the road.
'Leave it.'
'But Sis.'
'No buts Wolf, get too and see if these creatures have anything of worth. Stack them, we will burn them as a message.'
Bob sat-up looking around to see where the voices had come from.  Standing not ten feet from him stood a tall, long-haired brunette. Clad in a hardened leather cuirass, pauldrons with a brown cloak fixed to it, holding a longbow.
'Are you OK, Dwarf?' her green eyes resting on him, calm, taking in everything.
'Yes.' standing Bob went about gathering his weapons, pulling his dagger from the eye of his first victim, wiping it down with a strip of cloth tied to the dead creature's armour. 'Who are you may I ask?' Turning he went to the second Goblin placing his foot on its chest and then hitting the handle of his axe as he would if it had been wedged into a block of wood.
'I am Feather Falconbred. Over there, that's my brother Wolf.'
Wolf, Feather, Falconbred.  Bob was face to face with Ranger royalty. He knew of the Falconbred, a master ranger, these two were obviously either a part of the cohort or the children of the master.  Looking towards Wolf, he noted that he was dressed very similarly to his sister, albeit no longbow, only two swords, one short & one long. Bracers with soft leather pants and boots. 
'I am Bobmadik and the dwarf there is my friend Durog.'
'Yes, I know; Durog the Drow Killer.'
'What?' Bob looked at his friend.
Durog casually walked up to feather and nodded his head 'Well met sister, it has been a while. Let's get this little scene tidied up, we can explain more when we make it to the four ways.'
The three of them set about tidying up, they joined Wolf in the heavy work of dragging the dead Goblins from the road towards the pyre of wood that Wolf had started building.  As each Goblin was deposited Wolf in the course of business would search the corpse retrieving anything of value, be it knives, mace's or money.
Then he would squirt some liquid over them from a water skin he'd retrieved from their packs hidden in the forest. 'Feather, what is he pouting on them?' Asked Bob.
'Firewater my friend, we've been tracking these creatures for some time, and knew we would most likely have to dispose of them in this way, so we bought some Firewater with us.'
After a short while all was in order, the weapons and other items recovered from the corpses had been sorted through by Wolf, those to be discarded were thrown onto the pyre.  
Kneeling beside the pyre Wolf use flint and dagger to start the fire, the whole stack bursting into flame the instant the spark landed. 'Right, let's go.'
The four of them turned and started a brisk walk on down the road after Aelen and Taesha.  The sky darkening overhead. 

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