FreeHolds Adventure, Cycle 1 Part 1c

FreeHolds Adventure, Cycle 1 Part 1c

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He awoke. Startled, he sat up, face to face with a mean looking goat. Adwin scrambled backwards over some old foundation stones. Another goat wandered into his camp, it ignored him and drank from the spring. He was able to get his feet under him and stand as more goats came to the pool. The first goat still gave him a baleful stare, the others seemed content with water.

He carefully moved around the edge of the old foundation and retrieved his belongings. The goats were coming into his camp from the northeast around the partially standing wall. He moved uphill a bit and saw that there were many more goats, a couple dozen at least, moving under the low hanging dulmak trees.

Then he spotted a shepherd, she walked out from under one of the dulmak without ducking, the low branches of the tree barely brushing the top of her greenish-grey coloured scalp. Long protruding ears twitched and her bulging eyes blinked. She also had at least two babies hanging from her side and a loose garment hung over her shoulders, gangly limbs protruding. She crouched low, baring very pointy teeth and holding a crooked staff in her odd three-fingered hands.

A goblin, he thought. A goblin!

Then another one, no babies, a bit taller and carrying a sling staff. Goats continued to move through the trees around them. The second goblin trilled something to the first and fitted a stone to her sling, then the two of them trilled and whistled loudly, ears flat against their skulls. The goats bleated and scattered. Answering goblin calls could be heard from further uphill, more towards the ruins.

Adwin was so surprised and intrigued by them that he nearly was run down by the baleful eyed goat. Then adrenaline kicked in and he turned and ran for the road. Goblins, actual goblins. Everyone knew they came in the night to steal babies, he had not even considered they might also keep goats. A stone thrummed past his head. More goblin shrieks, mostly north and east or behind him and to the right. The road ran northwest and slightly uphill, he sprinted, leaping a small stream.

He followed the road up a steeper incline, an unusually tall dulmak south of the road at the top of the hill sheltered a small camp of some sort, he did not pause. A scattering of ruin stones forced the road to the northwest and two more goblins ran out onto the road ahead of him. He skidded to a stop, nearly tripping. The goblins before him held odd little spears, thin lips pulled back from their pointy teeth, they seemed both more muscular and shorter than the other two he had left behind. Adwin drew his knife, he could hear other goblins approaching as they raced through ruins in his general direction. A glance behind revealed the goblin with the sling staff had crested the hill near the old dulmak. He dropped back a few paces to the stones at the bend in the road, he spotted another goblin to his right.

At least six goblin were closing in on him, likely more. The sounds of their shrieks and trilling was disconcerting. He clutched the straps of his pack tightly and held his knife ready. Fear prickled along his spine. It would be very unfortunate to die less than two eight-days from home. Shortest adventure ever.

The goblins suddenly went quiet, the two closest ran off the road to either side ducking out of sight. A small stone thwacked Adwin in the shoulder as two more or the critters came rushing out from under a tree making a beeline towards him.

Then in a cacophony of screeches and hissing preceded the goblin’s attack. Five closing from different directions all at once. He knocked a spear our of the air with his pack and rushed towards the nearest foe.

The goblin ducked under Adwin’s knife arm, faster than he thought possible and one clawed hand raked his arm and the other his leg. Adwin shouted, dropping his knife and swung his pack around in a desperately wide arc. He connected, knocking a goblin aside, then three more had him in the next instant.

One had leapt onto his shoulders, biting at his face, Adwin used one hand to fend off its attacks. Another grappled him, diving into the back of his legs and the third had grabbed his pack. He fell hard spilling arrows and losing his bow. Scrambling, flailing, teeth and claws, shrieks and his own shouting. He managed to get a hold of something and wrenched upwards as best he could, it seemed to have little to no effect. Then all the goblins, except the one who’s leg he had hold of, ran off trilling and whistling like the original two had when they had first encountered him.

He wrenched hard on the leg he had a hold of, but the goblin only twisted around and one three fingered hand grabbed his hat and the other a fistful of hair. The two of them rolled across the ground, at one point Adwin ended up on top, still clutching the goblin’s ankle while the other hand was jammed into his foes neck, keeping the gnashing teeth away. Shifting his weight Adwin jammed his knees into the creature’s chest. Bones crunched, the goblin gave a distressed trill and flailed a few moments then went still.

Adwin jumped up and stumbled forward a couple of steps, he leaned against one of the ruin’s stones and glanced around. Three goblins had been brought down by an archer. Everything had gone very quiet.

Adwin noted the blackish blood of the goblins, he could feel his own blood trickling down his leg, his arm and his chest, he was feeling a bit dizzy. He looked around for danger, did not see any but suddenly a bow string thrummed from nearby. He ducked. Not so much to avoid being shot, more to see where the noise came from.

Amongst another jumble of stones a young woman crouched low, notching an arrow. She gazed southward down a gentle slope spotted with stones and short trees. Adwin could not see what she was looking at. Suddenly she stood, drew back the bowstring and released, all fluid motion. She took a step forward, drew and notched another arrow then fired again. There was a distant, dismal cry from a goblin. Then the woman ducked back behind her cover, she looked around.

When she spotted Adwin she raised a hand holding up two fingers and pointed down the slope. Then she pointed at him and gestured eastward towards the big dulmak. Adwin nodded in response and limped along the road towards what he assumed to be the woman’s camp. She disappeared down hill, in the same direction she had been shooting.

By the time Adwin had limped into the camp under the old dulmak he was starting to shiver. He could not see any goblins and forgot what he was doing, his legs gave way and he sprawled to the ground, the edges of his vision turned grey. Then darkness.



A number of days were lost to Adwin. When his fever broke he awoke feeling exhausted. His head and all his wounds ached. He was thirsty and very hungry.

The young woman was nearby, quietly singing as she crafted arrows, sitting in the shade of the old dulmak she had made her camp under. She wore layered skirts, tunics and a shall over her head. A few locks of long, curly brown hair hung along one cheek. Her green eyes intense as she looked up at him.

“Hello.” he croaked.

She set the arrow she had been working on a nearby stone, “Glad to see you made it.” She said as she walked over.

“It seems…” he propped himself up as much as he could, stifling a grunt of pain. He saw a nearby cup of water, reached for it and knocked it over, his hand shook and he was sweating.

She picked up the cup and filled it from a very large, apparently bronze, pot. She held the cup so he could drink. After he settled back down she said, “You took a couple of nasty bites. Most folk get a bad fever the first time they’re bit by a goblin.”

He nodded again mesmerized by her eyes. “Thanks for helping.”

“Sure, it was the least I could do.” she smiled at him and his heart melted, he could not help but smile back in return.

“How so? What do you mean?”

“You blundered into those goblins in the middle of the day. I had no idea they had moved into the area. Then they were so intent on you I killed four of them before they figured out where I was.”

“Well, I owe you.”

“Yeah, well, maybe.”

“Do you have a name?”

“Of course, but don’t you think that’s a bit forward?”

“Oh?…” Something had shifted in her gaze and though she still smiled, it now seemed defensive or challenging, he could not tell which.

She shrugged, “You can call me Tipper.”

“I’m Adwin.” He said smiling.

She seemed suddenly uncomfortable. When his stomach gave a gurgling roar they both looked down at his belly as though they had been interrupted by a third party. “I’m really hungry.”

“Not surprising, you’ve been living off of broth for the last few days. Lucky for you we have a lot of goat meat. Or perhaps I should say, thanks to you.” She fetched some stew from a nearby pot, also fairly large and seeming made of bronze. The bowls were also of the same material, but now that he held the metal he could feel it was much lighter than bronze.

She noticed him noticing the metal but made no comment. They ate quietly, Adwin having a smaller portion than he was used to.

After the meal he asked, “What are you doing out here?”

She laughed, “Looking for treasure, of a sort.”

He looked at the big pot, held up his empty bowl. “Like these?”

“Kind of.”

“These pots are in really good shape to have been pulled from those ruins. Locals further east say the castle was destroyed in a battle of mages during a yule tide feast, more than one hundred years ago.”

She nodded, “Sure, and there are all kinds of interesting things in the depths of the old structures, but I’m looking for a passage under the hill. I’ve been here since early last autumn searching for it.”

“Wow,” he marvelled, “You were hear all winter by yourself?”

“Yes, I spent most of the winter trying to access the sub levels under the castle. Then I spent most of the spring digging a couple of holes on the south side of the hill. No luck though.”

“I could help for a while, once I’m up and able.”

“Yeah, appreciate that, but I’m actually heading to GreensBridge as soon as you don’t need my help anymore.”

He just stared at her.

“What?” She asked, her brow furrowed a bit and her lips pursed ever so slightly.

“I’m going to GreensBridge.”

“Oh.” She said, seemingly surprised.

Adwin gave a happy shrug, “My first adventuring companion saves my life and happens to be going to the same distant city I’m going to? It’s classic, like it was destined or willed by the gods.”

“Great.” Was all she said to that and he could not really read the expression on her face. She gathered the bowls from their meal and walked away.

Adwin settled back down and dozed off.


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