Smalls and Biggs woke before the sun was even up and gathered their belongings they dropped in place the night before. Either they went unnoticed through the night or the creatures of the dark did not want some of what the goblins got, so they left the brothers to rest. They didn’t speak to each other as they quickly munched on some dried meat and took a few swigs of water then began the trek back to town.
The strain of battle barked in their muscles as the brothers felt every swing of their weapons and the miles they put on their legs as they rushed to catch the goblins. The adrenalin and vengeance in their blood blocked any cost to their bodies the day before, but with nothing but a long walk before them, their muscles were reluctant to hurry.
The brothers spoke barely a word in the morning, even as the sun rose high above. Thoughts of the battle the prior night turned to thoughts of a warm bed, hot food and strong ale. By noon they rested for a few minutes.
“We need to make the town today, I don’t want to sleep outside again if we don’t have to,” Biggs complained.
“Aye, we should get there no worries,” Smalls comforted.
“I agree. I’m looking forward to getting a belly full of food and ale. I’m sure you are too.”
“Of course brother! Only thing better than killing goblins is good food and better ale,” laughed Smalls.
There was a long pause, “What then brother?” Biggs asked.
“What do you mean? We’ll rest up and relax.”
“No, I mean, what are we going to do after we rest up? More adventuring?”
“I’m not sure, but I don’t much like the idea of a whole goblin tribe two days away.”
“You can’t be serious. What do you suppose we do about it?”
“Form a militia obviously. Get a group together who mean to run them off. We pummeled nine of them ourselves.”
“Yeah, in a surprise ambush. We can’t expect such good results in a head to head battle. Plus we took them in the open. They will be fortified in those hills.”
“So what? Are you going soft on me, Brother? Have you lost your nerve? I haven’t known you to be afraid of some goblins.”
Biggs kicked the dirt. “It isn’t even me I’m worried about. If we attack that tribe, we will definitely lose some of the men who help us. Even if we are victorious, some will die. That doesn’t bother you?”
“Small price to pay to destroy a goblin tribe, Brother. Life is cheap. People die every day. Better to die facing goblin scum with a sword in your hand than to get your throat slit by them in the middle of the night wouldn’t you say?”
“Aye, I agree. I just think it is far too risky to go after them like that. The more there are the stronger they fight. You know that. We haven’t faced a whole tribe before.”
“Well maybe it’s about time we do,” spat Smalls as he stood and continued on towards the village.
Biggs watched his brother go for a moment, then picked himself up and followed. It seemed Smalls was set on a path and would not be dissuaded.
They continued on and as the sun was setting, they reached the town. The Inn was called the Red Rat and lights were lit inside when the boys pushed their way through. Most of the town’s folk were there getting a meal and having a drink.
Smalls raised his arms up in triumph as he stepped through the door. “Your heroes are home!” Smalls announced with a wide grin. Shocked, no one said anything. He seized on the moment to make a grander statement, “We have slaughtered the filthy goblins who raided the farm and retrieved some of the things they stole. We punished them for their thieving ways and hopefully the rest will think twice before threatening this town.”
At this announcement the folks in the tavern cheered. Biggs smiled at his brother, knowing how much he enjoyed the attention. People came up to congratulate and thank the dwarves for their service.
“You didn’t rent our room did you?” Biggs called to the innkeeper. “We are in need of rest and refreshment.”
“Nay! Your room is just for you. If you like, go up and put your gear down. I’ll send up a water basin so you can wash up a bit and when you’re ready, come back down and have a meal and ale on the house tonight!”
At this the folks all cheered. The brothers grinned widely and thanked the innkeeper and the people who showered them with praise.
They then went upstairs and dropped all their gear. Their armor was stained with blood but they didn’t feel like cleaning it yet. Their clothes too had splatters of blood but they had a change of them so after washing their faces and especially their beards, they felt much refreshed and looked much better as well.
When the boys returned to the main hall of the inn, there was hot stew waiting for them and mugs of ale as well. Even more of the folks of town had arrived to hear the tale of the dwarf brothers’ conquest over the goblins.
Smalls carried with him a sack with all the random household goods the goblins had stolen and placed it on their table. “Here are the things we recovered from the goblins,” he announced. “Please look through them and return them to their rightful owners. It is the least we could do.”
Then the brothers sat and ate and drank while thanking the people who praised them but not yet wanting to tell their story. Not until their bellies were filled at least. With some food and ale in them, however, they were feeling much refreshed and had a renewed energy.
As people were enjoying the festive mood and the brothers were enjoying their meal, a traveling bard arrived at the inn. His name was Rhyk and he was known in those parts. Immediately someone told him that the brothers had vanquished some goblins so he pulled up a chair to inquire about the adventure.
“Good evening my good dwarves,” the bard began with a dramatic bow. “I am Rhyk Swift and I occasion to this find tavern time to time, but I have not yet made your acquaintance but seeing has how the townsfolk have mentioned your recent exploits it seems to be my loss. What are your names master dwarves?”
The brothers looked one to the other, somewhat lost in the man’s flowery words. “I’m Biggs, and this is my brother Smalls.”
Rhyk paused to consider the names, They did not inspire poetry, necessarily but nonetheless, the performer maintained his poise, “Well met Smalls and Biggs! Did I hear correctly that you two killed an entire goblin raiding party?”
“Aye, of course we did!” Smalls cheered. “Nine of the buggers there were but they were no match for us. Were they, Brother?” He clapped Biggs on the shoulder.
Biggs hesitated but then added, “Hardly.”
Smalls shrugged off his brother’s lack of enthusiasm and added, “It isn’t the first time goblin heads have rolled on account of Smalls and Biggs of course. We have almost made it a hobby of ours you might say.”
Biggs rolled his eyes but Smalls did not hesitate to continue. Rhyk seemed very interested in hearing all about the tale of their goblin hunting. The bard explained that he may even compose an epic poem to add to his collection. The townsfolk supported this idea and added to the growing legend with their own accounts and exaggerations, helping to transform the boys into conquering heroes more than just goblin slayers.
The story telling went on for hours with the tales getting wilder by the telling. Rhyk played a number of songs and recited a few tales of his own to entertain the people of the Red Rat but most of the attention was on Smalls and Biggs. The ale continued to flow and the fun went on straight through the night nearly to morning.
Biggs slipped off to get some rest not long after midnight, but Smalls was in rare spirits and he was going to soak up every bit of attention he could while he had an audience so enthusiastic for him. Indeed, the tale of their victory over the goblins was impressive, but by the time Rhyk and Smalls had agreed upon a version of the truth, one would have thought the victory was the grandest the land had ever known.
At last the ale and the weariness of the battle caught up to Smalls and he laid his head down on the table with a half filled mug and slept. By then all but the innkeeper and the bard had gone home. Rhyk was staying at the inn anyways, hoping to hear more about the tales of Smalls and Biggs before moving on to share the tales with new audiences.
Such is the life of Smalls the goblin slayer.
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