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There was a soft twang followed by a sound like a sudden breeze as two arrows spun through the dark forest toward an elk bull standing in the midst of his herd. The arrows pierced through the shadows and sped at their mark. The bull lifted his head as though he suspected something was afoul, but it was too late. The arrows both struck his side and he stumbled upon their impact. The other elk tensed as they struggled to gain a sense of what was happening. The large, proud bull mustered his strength and rose to his feet again but was immediately penetrated by two more arrows. The other animals understood that he was under attack and fled together away from the direction of the danger. The bull collapsed when another pair of missiles found their mark in his side as though he had accepted his fate.

Rothan and Durbar stood side by side proudly watching their target succumb to their assault. They lowered their bows when the great beast fell to the earth and proceeded to move towards him in order to finish off their prey.

They moved swiftly through the forest brush in the dark cover of the high canopy which blocked out most of the sun’s rays. Pulling a dagger from his hip, Rothan slit the bull’s throat to end his agony.

“This will do nicely,” said Durbar admiring the bull.

“No doubt we will feast like kings tonight my friend,” Rothan responded.

“Aye, let’s dress it here so that we can cook it as soon as we get back to the camp.”

“Good idea, I am as hungry as a bear,” Rothan chuckled.

The men started to strip the bull and gut him, but their work was not unnoticed. There were some other hunters tracking the elk herd that day and they were interested in taking advantage of the work that had already been done. They watched patiently for a while, sizing up their competition, the smell of blood filling their noses.

It was not long before the temptation of stealing away a kill was too much to resist and the hunters encircled the friends and their meal.

Durbar sensed their movements and twice looked up and scanned the dark surroundings. Though he could see nothing, he was alert to a danger he could not identify. When he heard a soft growl however, he knew that he and his friend were in great danger.

“Rothan,” he whispered, but it was too low for his companion to hear. Again, he whispered though a little louder,

“Rothan.” The young prince lifted his head up and stared quizzically at the woodsman.

“What is it?” he asked lowly.

“Draw your sword slowly,” Durbar instructed, “but do not make a sudden move.” Durbar led by drawing his sword first and Rothan followed, still unsure as to what was amiss. Durbar tensed and gradually stood up then his friend followed suit. Before he could stand completely upright, the hunters attacked.

Half a dozen wolves burst from the thick brush and rushed toward the two men. Durbar and Rothan swung around, swords drawn, ready to meet them. The wolves did not slow their assault but continued to bound towards the men. A wolf leapt at Rothan and he jumped backwards while swiping ineffectively at the snarling wolf. Another wolf reached Durbar from behind and the woodsman was forced to slash at him while leaping up to avoid a bite.

The men survived the initial wave, but the wolves encircled them and closed in with teeth barred, saliva dripping from their curled lips, and low growls rumbling from their throats. The men backed up until they bumped into each other facing away from one another, satisfied that their backs were covered.

The wolves proceeded to test the men by lunging nearer and nearer to them without exposing themselves to any serious danger. The men held their ground as their hearts pounded in their chests and their muscles tensed. Only the assurance of their companion helped the pair to keep from panicking.

Without warning the wolves attacked all at once. Each man faced three wolves, so they swung wide trying to keep the beasts from them. Both Rothan and Durbar slashed a wolf apiece and sent them to the ground. Durbar managed to parry the other two wolves’ attacks and kick one in the side as he stepped to his left to avoid a bite. He was unable to finish off that wolf however, and the beast continued his pursuit of Durbar.

Rothan did not fare as well. Though he struck one down, he was unable to hold off the other two and a wolf managed to clamp down on his right leg. The prince yelped in pain and buckled over to try and wrestle the wolf off which allowed the other to bite into his left forearm.

With hair standing up down their backs, the wolves growled at Durbar and inched closer. The woodsman stood tall with his sword drawn back, prepared to strike when the opportunity presented itself. The yelps from his friend sparked his attack as Durbar knew he could wait no longer. He feigned to one side and when the wolves lunged, he spun and slashed one in his side. The other snapped at the woodsman’s hand but was not quick enough. With fire in his eyes, Durbar swung downward as he continued to spin and slayed the wolf with a blade to his skull.

With his attackers dispatched, Durbar turned his attention to saving his friend. Rothan was doubled over and found himself underneath two wolves who were trying desperately to incapacitate him. Durbar quickly ran his sword through both of them and tossed the wolf carcasses to the side.

Rothan was limp but alive. His breathing was heavy and labored and he was bleeding from both his leg and arm.

“Rothan! Rothan! Are you all right?” Durbar pleaded. Rothan merely coughed and writhed but appeared to Durbar to be all right. The woodsman quickly set about to dress the wounds as his friend tried to recover from the attack. Durbar was worried about shock but Rothan managed to calm down and was lucid once more.

“Thank you,” Rothan murmured to his friend. “You never cease to amaze me. You will always be the Sureshot.”

Poem for Sureshot the Assassin

Was up at 1 am last night and this came to me. Might slide it into Sureshot the Assassin!

When you take a man and ruin him

Then blood will blot the sun

You beat him whip him torture him

Then blood will blot the sun

You try to break his spirit within

Then blood will blot the sun

Betray him though he be your kin

Then blood will blot the sun

Toss him in the lions den

Then blood will blot the sun

Laugh and spit with an evil grin

Then blood will blot the sun

Break his heart and pour in sin

Then blood will blot the sun

Make the man an assassin

Then blood will blot the sun

Beware of his retribution

Then blood will blot the sun

His arrows will pierce your skin

Then blood will blot the sun

Goblin Brothers Part 6

When Nix was finished looting the corpses of his dead goblin kin he could not resist his goblin blood. He drew his bone dagger and severed two fingers from each of the two goblins he slayed. He did so without hesitation and without the least bit of disgust. Goblins are used to many things that make others squeamish or nauseous. Severed fingers were nothing compared with the gruesome things they witness on a daily basis. Death, dismemberment, blood, guts and violence were are commonplace in the goblin caves. They were as normal as drinking tea was amongst elves. Suffice to say, the four fingers were simple trophies for the goblin assassin. The first of many.

Nix, satisfied that there was nothing remaining in the spur of the goblin caves of value for him, scurried back to den from whence he was born. There Zyx awaited. Nix felt his brother’s essence as though he were there somehow. It was faint and yet profound enough to be noticed. It called Nix and guided him back to the den though he knew the way. Like a beacon Zyx guided his brother to him.

As Nix entered his birth den he found none except his brother, legs crossed hands folded and eyes closed; deep in thought. Zyx felt his brother enter and opened his eyes, red with blood and a smile crept over his face, thin lips curled in a crooked grin.

Nix paused and studied his brother. He sensed something he never noticed before. Zyx sat cross-legged, grinning at him seeming like the brother he’s always known but there was much more to him than he ever knew. Nix noticed a strange glow about him that wasn’t quite light. It wasn’t a visible glow like a torch or fire, it was something more subtle than that. It was more like the soft glow of the moon; a reflection of some other light. It was as if his image rippled like a reflection in a pool of deep water; difficult to see clearly yet visible nonetheless.

Zyx didn’t wait for his brother to ponder long and instead he stood and embraced him, toppling him over. They rolled on the ground giggling in a throaty laugh paying no mind to the rocks and stones on the ground as their greyish bodies were one.

Each felt connected to the other as they once were in the same womb. Each felt the other’s heart beating and blood flowing and the shared in the elation that only life can give on a day they nearly lost theirs. They rolled until they lay on their backs and their giggling slowed to a chuckle then stopped at a warm smile. They had never known the feelings they felt flow through their bodies; few goblins had. It was yet another of many more deviations from the curse of their heritage.

At last they could conceive no more reason to lay there so Nix rose only to fetch the dismembered fingers from his pouch and hand two of them to Zyx.

“What are these,” Zyx asked gleefully?

“Fingers from two that tried to kill us,” Nix answered. Zyx held the fingers in his boney hands and rolled them around, still warm and still wet with blood of their deceased owner. His eyes half closed and in his mind the fingers grew into the embodiment of the goblins they belonged to. He saw each of the slain goblins before him as though they were yet alive. Each looked cross, scowling at Zyx, as though bothered at his summoning them from some important work that only the dead know of. He quickly opened his eyes and looked, wide eyed, at the pale fingers in his hand.

Zyx’s smile was wider than ever. He accepted the fingers and immediately began to imagine what to do with them. He conceived some sort of lanyard to hold these and any other trinket he may encounter.

Nix had no such plans for the fingers and instead placed them in his pouch. Then the boys reclined against the wall of their den and leaned their heads against one another before dozing off for a much needed rest. Each felt entirely safe next to the other.

In the tunnels of the goblin clan Trickfoot, word quickly spread like a dank breeze in the dark corridors of their underworld. Rumors of a young goblin who somehow healed another with his spirit electrified the otherwise dead caves and dens while word of a whelp who murdered two other goblins out of vengeance excited the clan which was always pleased to add another warrior to its ranks to stave off orcs and other goblin clans from claiming their home, and also one as deadly as Nix was always useful on a food raid or treasure raid, or any raid for that matter. Violence was a way of life for goblins and the more the better. That aspect of the goblin world was simple. Kill for survival.

More complex was the goblin religious system. They were primitive in their worship compared to the civilizations above ground and the dwarves of the mountains and even the dark elves of the deep. They did not have a highly structured system which included holy texts but instead relied more on spiritualism and ritual. Rather than training priests and clerics they recognized shamans and primitive monks. Their racial diety was Sagobr Dreaddeath. He was pictured as a massive goblin wielding a whip to punish enemies. He strove for the perpetuation of the goblin clans and encouraged violence and enslavement of the other races of the world, especially those on the surface: humans, elves, halflings.

The goblins participated in a very violent religion. Failure to gain the approval of the deity and his representatives often resulted in public whippings or other torture to encourage learning and adherence to the tenets of their faith. Sacrifice to their god was also common, especially the sacrifice of lives captured in raids or other violent acts. Therefor the temple caves were most often painted with blood and decorated with bones and the rotting flesh of those they offered to their cruel and evil deity.

The only holy day they recognized was raid day. Every new moon the goblins went out and raided. Sometimes it was as simple as attacking some helpless travelers, other times it was more coordinated and included raiding a village or town. They took great joy in these raids and their reputation for the month was dependent on how they performed in the raid. They kept stolen property as trophies and kills as scores for those are the things they worshipped.

Such was the world of the goblin. Both Nix and Zyx showed promise in such a world.