Saturday, August 4, 2012

Obscured By Clouds - On To Nesstlehaven

The speed of the puma lady was again startling. The goblins sought the opening that the advantage of numbers should offer with tenacity but there reward was nothing more than rending claws and snapping fangs. The goblins worked as a practised team, stepping in and out in a rhythm of deadly intent, thrusting and slashing with their short swords. The first to make a mistake – only a small one at that – had the weapon struck from his ringing hand; the second fared worse. Although no less skilled, he was the one that Katlin targeted and he was the goblin who felt claws scything across his cheek. He recoiled, spurting thick crimson, leaving their single opponent one less foe to contend with. The four remaining in the circle about her swallowed hard, not fancying this shift in the odds one bit. The cries of the goblin with half his face torn off did nothing to bolster their resolve.

Brazi’s senses screamed an urgent message to him in mid-dive: pull out! abort! The thrum of arrows added to the noise of lethal conflict and the Manbat had to decide whether or not to continue on his path or to swerve aside, shielding his softer parts as best as he might. In his peripheral vision he could see the children had got out of trouble and were throwing rocks now at the goblins besieging Kat. One shot, whether fortunate or well aimed he could not say, found its mark and cracked an attacker on the cranium causing him to leap within range of the deadly claws, arms clutching the growing lump on his already uneven skull rather than defending his life.
Nikki immediately responded: "I did NOT do that!" She suddenly realized Cornelius had an arm around her. Another time, she thought, this would be nice, but not now. Thinking rapidly, she grabbed the nearest goblin corpse and hurled it into the monster's maw!
Even Sam was startled by this action. "If it was hungry," he said to the other two, "that will delay it for a moment or two. Shall we take our leave?"

The Mud-troll accepted the meal with unconcealed lust. The goblin was slurped and chewed in mere moments and the creature’s appetite, too long unappeased, was whetted beyond its control. It seized another fallen goblin and made short work of that and then sniffed the air…it seemed that there were things more mouth-watering than goblins to savour. It lumbered towards the elf and the paragon without comprehending them as two separate life forms.

The wizard tried to buy a little time with a simple spell, Sparkle, but although he cast it easily enough, his luck was out and the behemoth was unfazed by the pretty display of lights. The thing stooped down towards the pair, a slimy beam of an arm swinging down on them.

Meantime, Sam's enhanced eyesight saw the movement of the monster as it slowwwwwwwwwwwwwwly (or so it seemed to Sam) rushed what he was beinning to consider "a couple." In the time it took Nikkolia and Cornelius Allan to hear the last word that Sam had spoken, he'd charged the beast (for he could not recall ever seeing its like) while wielding his metal claws. Blast! If only he had taken a moment to swallow a couple of those energy mints! No time now - he had to push it - and circled the thing at top speed, peeling it like an apple! "Get AWAY!!" he shouted to the couple, not realizing his words were spoken faster than they could hear. But the screeching sound seemed to affect the ears of the "apple" he was peeling.
Cornelius Allan little understood what Sam was capable of and certainly did not translate the buzzing sound as an instruction. However, he saw that the monster was troubled by a new phenomenon he had to hope was of Sam’s doing. The best that he could come up with get out of trouble, leading the way for Nikkolia. He called to her ‘What do you think would be the likelihood that fire would harm such a devil?’ He looked about him to assess how dry the brush was.
The Mud-troll was stung by the peeling attack. It did not really understand pain but its instincts told it that it should put a stop to this irritation. It shrugged its shoulders purposefully , deflecting the attacker just as a meteor might bounce off the Earth’s atmosphere. Its strength was phenomenal and Sam’s speed was multiplied in effect against himself. He didn’t see what was coming his way but he might have guessed. He crunched like a rocket into the trunk of a large jilliburra tree and everything went very black.

Brazi, still frantic to help Kat, assumed a darting erratic pattern of flight that made him a difficult target as he sought to locate the archers. Several arrows did find their target but the wings of the great bat brushed most aside.
Katlin was just warming up. Her maternal fury was reaching the boiling point. Visions of the puma's babies, skinned by the hunters long ago fuelled her rage! Her horrible puma scream burst out now as she renewed her assault with fangs and claws on her tormentors. The goblin who had suffered the crack on the noggin, tottered within her grasp and was literally shredded. It was not pretty but colourful and quick. That left three and it was, quite plainly, not enough.  One more goblin assayed an aggressive move, stabbing with no real venom with his sword. Ignoring the blade, Kat efficiently removed the arm gripping the hilt and disembowelled the body. The goblin to his left slipped in the entrails and looked up to see razor sharp incisors striking down towards his exposed jugular.
The last, and most probably the least, gaped and his eyes bulged. These were sights he had never expected to see, even in nightmares. His brain overloaded with incessant messages of fear and it blew a fuse. Literally. His heart contracted far too tightly and his eyes bulged a second time as the vital organ ceased to pump blood for him, its seizure proving instantly fatal. With all opponents out of action, Kat was free to hunt out the hidden ones, seeking to shoot Brazi from the skies. She would have to lick her wounds later.
Brazi now had a real case of the bat ass and wanted to get a hold of any of the archers he could, owing them something for the smarting hurt he had suffered below the waist.  2 arrows had penetrated slightly, doing minor damage to the manbat. He crashed down amongst the branches knocking two goblin string twangers off their perches without positively identifying them. The one he was homing in on now held out his bow subserviently in an extreme act of optimism…

Kat could sniff a tree and tell if a goblin had climbed its trunk. She was in full furious puma mommy mode now. Her 'cubs' had been threatened, and these scum had dared to scratch her pretty pelt with their pathetic weapons. Look out guys! Here comes the Hellkat and she is geared for mayhem!

Those of charitable disposition would have called it Hobson’s Choice; others would have settled for there being a big yellow streak down the spine of the four goblins who dropped their swords along with their guts and ran from the cover of the trees in the direction of the shack where the children lived with the Hellkat’s hot, moist breath tickling their necks if not their fancies. The minds had already ejected from the bodies that were on borrowed time.

"I'm OK," mumbled Sam in his very best Daffy Duck voice. "I'll be right back." Stars were dominating his vision but he had somehow regained consciousness just about immediately. The duck voice drew the earthy horror’s attention as it remembered younger moments of surfacing in ponds with feathers between its teeth and squawking fowls fleeing in terror. Its mouth began to salivate anew and a greedy gleam entered its piggy eyes.

"Fire?" thought Nikki. She wondered if she had enough kremm to Call Flame.... When she realised she felt strong enough she got ready to follow Cornelius Allan’s lead as he sprouted flame and drew it across the path of the creature, hoping to either confuse or panic it.
The Mud-troll neither burned nor was it panic-stricken.  Whatever the monstrosity was composed of, oil was not the critical building block of its life. Its eyes wavered and then refocused and it lumbered towards the elf and the pretty glow he had made. A different appetite took root. Now its greed was not for food but for finery – it wanted the beautiful flickering treasure this tiny thing held. The elf wizard led it away from Nikkolia and called out to her and Sam ‘Any bright ideas would be appreciated. I don’t suppose there are any monster prisons nearby for me to lock it in, are there?!’

Blood flowed again for both Brazi and Katlin and soon the stood free of all opponents. The children crowded round them, wanting to see if they had been hurt. The expressed their concern and then urged their friends to go with them to find their grandfather. There had not been time yet for Brazi to tell them of his meeting with the old fellow. Dhargh and Portia were scavenging goblin weapons while their siblings riffled through pockets. Alevak brought out a blood-stained piece of paper and brandished it above his head excitedly. Clearly he thought he had found something of importance.

Brazi worked to calm Katlin who was licking her wounds, and growling at anyone else who dared approach her. His own wounds  he was not worried about: they were not serious and he (and Kate) were fast healers. Brazi finally got the Hellcat to assume her human form, and then, as she cleaned and dressed his wounds with bandages from the donkey's baggage packs, Brazi looked at the paper the children had found.

Sam saw that closing with this creature was Not A Good Idea. Popping two of the energy candies (YUMM!) he readied his "Bengal" claws and, mach speed, slashed and ran away, slashed and ran away, aiming for its back to draw it away from the Odd Couple.

Nikki aimed at its crotch, shot a bolt from her crossbow.

While we wait to hear how Nikki’s DEX SR went and what the vorpalled and little feeted Sam did to the poor Mud-troll, let us consider the note that the boy found on the goblin. It is written in the goblin tongue but from the words of common scrawled at the bottom it clearly is a translation of something not originally written in goblin. I am presuming that no one reads goblin but I stand ready to be corrected.

Words in common with goblin word jotted beside:

·       Urgent
·       Attention
·       Treaty
·       Lord
·       Divide
·       River
·       Mountains
·       Forest
·       Council
·       Penalties
·       Tribute
·       Demon
·       Ceremony
·       Blood bond
·       Feast

The Mud-troll stumbled again as Sam worked his in-out lightning attack. The creature registered first discomfort and then, strangely to its limited range of experiences, pain. It howled and bellowed and then slowed down, even by its ponderous standards, to consider this unusual and unwanted phenomenon. It picked up another fallen goblin and chewed on it to aid the process. The hurt got worse. Just as it has decided to leave this place of tasty snacks something stung it in the crotch, causing it to scratch powerfully. It had had enough! It windmilled its arms about its body. Anything caught in the scything arms would be in big trouble. Then it poured itself back into the ground it had risen from, looking forward to a good nap.
Cornelius Allan turned to Nikkolia and said 'Nice shot but I think that bolt is lost for ever. Are we far from your captive? This is not the place to linger at!'

Sam sucked in a deep breath as he eluded the Mud-troll final swat as it slipped back into its subterranean home once more. He turned to the odd couple and waited for Nikki's answer to the wizard's question. With so many other goblins in the vicinity now her hoped Nikki had put her captive in a very safe place - the earth-bound goblins weren't likely to pat the winged version if they found it, more likely that they would kill it very slowly...

Meanwhile, all the children bar the boy who was handing the note to Brazzi scooted down the track to Grandpa's shack. The smoke had them worried. Alevak looked up at Brazi and asked if the words made any sense to him. 'Is that Goblin language?' he asked. 'I didn't even know they could write. Scary - maybe they have homes and family and farms just like we do - I thought they were just monsters.' He turned a dead goblin over on to its back and looked at the twisted snarl on the creature's face, its death mask. 'I can't believe that - he prodded the corpse with his boot - could write anything other than insults and threats.' He waited to see what the heroic Manbat made of his discovery. He was glad the others had gone on ahead. He liked the idea of some praise from this wonder-warrior.

Brazi had tended to the Hellkat's wounds and she gently licked his own injuries. They took bandages from the donkey's packs and covered what they could. Brazi told the child he was impressed by their bravery in casting stones at the goblins but thought it put them at great risk. The note suggested that some kind of big pow wow was coming soon. He would have to find someone to help him translate it and understand it. Kate, now human again, also had a problem with interpretation.  They hurried on together to the house and Grandpa. Brazi shrugged his great wings back into a hump and became human again also.
They soon saw a happy family reunion. Grandpa had children hanging from every limb. As he saw the man and the woman approaching, he shrugged the children off and gestured towards the shack. ‘Can’t stay here again. It’s a ruin now. Too bad about my limericks but I’ll think some more up. Will you escort us to Nesttlehaven? I think the great ones will welcome you and give shelter to us all. I want to know what’s to be done about these goblins – it’s about a day’s journey for you, more for me unless I can ride your ass.’ He smiled at this and winked at the children.
Nikki was concerned again but for a different reason. "It - he - was bound and gagged in a tree not forty paces east of here. If this means those creatures found him first ---!" Brushing the hair from her eyes, Nikki tried to smooth out the two worry lines which appeared between and above her eyebrows. It always embarrassed her that her emotions were so easily displayed, and so she always used the pretext of brushing the hair from her eyes to hide the lines.
Cornelius Allan was already bounding in the direction Nikki had indicated. It was perhaps foolhardy of him to proceed so hastily in dangerous, unknown country but he had a hunch that the winged goblin was important. As he crashed through the light brush that he had been impeding his progress he yelled at the top of his lungs at the sight he came upon. Nikki quickly saw it too and the worry lines vanished, replaced by cold rage. Two goblins, with knives bared, were quite literally skinning the winged creature alive. One was wearing its scalp on his own head and he was stooped down scraping away at a leg whilst the second goblin was paring away at an arm. The winged goblin hung limp. Perhaps it was already out of its misery. Few would wish such torment even on a hard hearted killer in cold blood and even the memory of her sister did not bring the paragon down to such a bestial level.
Cornelius Allan called for Sam and threw himself headlong at the goblins.
Fearing she might hit Corney ("Holy Moly!" she thought, "Am I actually thinking of him with a cute name?") Nikki sheathed her mini-crossbow and rushed to the tree, yelling at the top of her lungs. They'd never be able to reach the cowardly villains in time, but they might scare them off.
Cornelius Allan’s charge was far from the model of stealth. The two goblins spun round, gaping at the onrushing elf. The first had no time to defend itself as the pommel of a kukri put it forcibly out of consciousness. The second bared its teeth and sprang to its feet, parrying Cornelius Allan’s thrust. It was not immediately apparent who might come out on top in this struggle. The wizard was no trained fighter but his dander was up.

Sam was pleasantly surprised to be conscious. Wow, was he ever tired! Almost through a haze, he ran at a normal pace (which seemed as of through marshmello to him) and slackened his pace when he saw the danger was only to another goblin. "Those little cockroaches," he muttered. "Are they really this heathen?" He stopped, panted, and spat in disgust.
The winged goblin writhed horribly as the work on its limbs ceased. The thing, for that was now what it could best be described as, uttered a single word repeatedly – ‘Hruk-tok! Hruk-tok! Hruk-tok!’ Its voice, whether cursing or calling for help, began to drop in both intensity and volume.
"Perhaps there will be someone there who can read this message for us," said Brazi. I can carry most of the donkey's baggage, and you can ride. I have some rations there, gorf and flour for bisuits. Some oatmeal too. Let us take a quick meal and get on the way. The sooner we get to a safe place the better I will feel about this mess."
"Gotta keep the kids safe," growled Katlin, and she began to whip up a mess of camp  bread for the group, while Brazi passed out the dried fruit and nut mix. All the while the Manbat and Puma lady kept a close watch for danger, and Brazi worried about the boy who was with the other group.
The children knew how good the food these people enjoyed was. The old troll wizard had been instrumental in the cooking but they had faith in these other two and told their grandfather that these were biscuits he would enjoy.
‘Will we wait for the others?’ Portia asked. This meant ‘the others’ had to be described in detail to Grandpa, who insisted on a full account of their doings. The old man chortled with approval and the group he would be travelling with, ‘The Hammer Squadron’ he called it and he was sketching out skirmish plans for putting nails in goblin coffins.
‘I want in on this pow-wow with the big wigs,’ he informed all and sundry. ‘You can supply the power, they’ll have the troops and I have both the experience and the nous!’ he asserted. ‘What’s your donkey’s name?’ he wanted to know. ‘He should have a name and if he doesn’t I’ll soon give him one if you like.’

No comments:

Post a Comment