Chapter Thirteen

Dire makes everything worse

When you are surrounded by five Goblin skirmishers, fighting for your life, and it’s not the low point of your day, thought Garfan, all you can do try to make the best of things. Spinning, he bisected two of the little green men and then stabbed them each twice more, which only made the others attack with renewed vigor.
As a matter of information, Goblins with no clear goal will attack anything within arm’s length. Which is why they are as a people usually at war, more often than not with each other.
The only thing that Goblins like more than making war is making love (if you can call what they do ‘making love’) add that the gestation period for a Goblin is roughly a lunar month and the fact that each female gives birth to a litter of a dozen, Goblins, as a race, are in no danger of extinction.
These Goblins were, of course, a different story. Two of them pressed the attack while the third one tried to hamstring Garfan. Which for someone who had never fought a Goblin band before would be frighteningly effective; however, this was not, as previously mentioned, his first time he faced off with Goblins.
A quick shift to his left and the backstabber became a front stabber of one of the other Goblins. Both cursed in their native tongue, something about how pink his skin was and how his hair was shiny and luxurious, which was a very nasty insult to a Goblin. Which is the origin of the phase, “sweet as a Goblin’s slur.”
Even with a sixty percent drop in fighting strength, the remaining skirmishers lost none of their fury. Garfan parried each slash and stab and then skewered one of them on Alacritas.
The already expired Goblin slid off the enchanted blade and he muttered, “Two, three,” as he cut him to make sure he had truly killed him.
One remained. “How many times did I cut you?” he asked the lone Goblin.
This is not the sort of conversation that his opponent was used to. Most of those he fought begged for mercy, which was never granted, or spat invectives about him or his parentage. He replied with the only common phrase he knew, which suggested an unnatural act that he would do to Garfan once he was dead.
This was a hollow threat as he was divided by the enchanted sword and was in no position to drop anything into anywhere, with the exception of vital fluids into the sandy floor of the arena, which was long used to such indignities.
Lockford once said, “Fighting Goblins was like polishing armor, no matter how shiny it was, it wouldn’t stay that way for very long.” Six more Goblins then rounded the corner, proving the valet correct once more.
Caliric and Tarnah, who had met up with a group of Goblins in-between them, finished up the last of them.
“I had hoped for more challenge from these wicked little green men,” said Tarnah.
Pulling arrows from the pile of dead Goblins Caliric said, “I didn’t think there were that many of them.”
With a sneer she wiped dark green blood from her battle-axe. “Their numbers mean little if they fight so poorly.” This might have carried more weight if three more of them hadn’t just dropped from the maze wall knocking her to the floor.
There was a fair bit of yelling and wrestling as she tried to get them off. One was tangled up in her hair and the other two were banging at her with spiked clubs, which scratched her armor and made quite a racket, but did no actual damage to her person.
Three arrows ended the kerfuffle. Caliric offered her his hand up, which she accepted with a very quiet “thank you.”
“You have a keen eye and quick reflexes,” she said.
Blushing, he pulled more arrows out, “Thank you, Lady.”
Steel on steel was heard growing louder and Garfan came around the corner with more Goblins following him as if he were handing out magic candy. For the Goblins, magic candy turned out to be hot death, which the three humans dispensed with great generosity.
“Is everyone all right?” asked the knight, as he stabbed the bodies the requisite number of times.
Caliric beamed at him. “Now that you have joined us we are!”
Tarnah looked at what he was doing with interest. “I believe they are already dead,” she stated.
Garfan held up his hand.
“What?” shouted Tarnah.
He glared at her and mouthed, “Quiet”.
She strode up to him and looked him in the eyes, nostrils flaring, and declared, “I am no bumpkin to be shushed!”
Garfan leaned in close, “Who broke you?” he asked.
“I am a proud Warrior Woman!” she exclaimed, breathily.
“You got the prideful part down to perfection!” he said with a smirk.
“Do you wish to test me in battle?” She said as she flipped her hair in an artful cascade.
“You think you can handle me?” he asked grinning.
With intensity, she said, “I will handle you as long as you can stand it! Blow for blow!”
Garfan laughed and said, “Trust me, there will be blows!”
Locking eyes, they moved closer. Pupils dilated, breathing was quickened; beads of sweat ran into crevasses. Something was about to happen when Caliric spoke, “Did you hear that?”
Each of them stood back and hastily checked their armor fastenings and weapons and such.
Garfan pulled his eyes away, focused and said, “Wait…”
All three of them stopped and listened. No fighting was heard, just a weighty and chilling silence. With the grinding of stone, the walls retreated into the floor eliminating the maze but leaving a smaller open area with the chained Giant Dire Wolf on the other end.
The assembled Cat Folk yowled as the chain was loosed.

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