Wolves!

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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 foul, 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 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 pricked 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 all over their bodies. 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 intself. 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 slain 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.”

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Goblins!

Since it’s October let’s go with some of the more monstrous things I’ve written

In a deep dark cave far away from the eyes of civilization live creatures that no one cares to acknowledge let alone meet. They are monsters, they are nightmares, they are goblins. Hideous and cruel they lurk in shadows, steal and maim and murder all they can. They abide by a different set of rules than the civilizations of the realms. Even evil creatures such as dark elves have order; no, goblins are ruled by chaos. They survive only if they are strong enough and if they are not they are devoured by the very clan that birthed them; stripped of all they possess and forgotten as quickly as the sun sets beyond the mountains. Goblins are despised a reviled creatures; unloved and unwanted. Theirs is a frightening world.

As the flicker of flame from torches danced a hypnotizing dance two goblin whelps crawled along the cave searching for food. Their tummies growled as they often did and already they learned the first lesson of goblin life. Food is always difficult to come by and you will never cease searching for it. While the stomach may rule many creatures and all beings must eat to survive, the goblin is driven by it in a way that is difficult to understand. These two whelps, brothers they were, crept together in search of it as they had a hundred times before and would thousands of times after.

The deep caves of the world were not abundant in food. In pools of water there were sometimes slimy creatures that one could consume, mushrooms were common as well as some insects and bats, but none of these would be considered food by sophisticated beings. Only the creepy crawlers of the dark would consider them edible. That was the life of a goblin.

The boys stuck their hands in cracks in the rocks trying to discover a grub or a beetle of some sort, or if there were very lucky they could find a rodent. For quite some time they explored and searched unsuccessfully; pushing and shoving each other as they did. Yet, their stomachs continued to growl and their temperaments worsened.

At last a glow beckoned from ahead. They ducked down behind some stone when they first noticed it and clung to one another, but the glow did not harm them and so their ears perked up and they chose to follow it.

The light shone from some place much further than they anticipated and their keen eyes noticed it far before their other senses caught up. As they neared a tapping sound was added to the mystery. The goblin boys looked at each other blankly for help or reassurance but found none. There was no other option but to follow the light and the tapping and learn their origin.

With soft, light feet the boys slinked towards the light and the tapping, which they had never quite heard before, when an even stranger sound joined the tapping. It sounded like a creature but they never heard such a sound. It vaguely resembled the sound some of the goblins made when they were very much drunk from cave wine but those were typically unpleasant sounds while these were something harmonious, something happy. Harmonious and happy were entirely foreign concepts to the goblin brothers and they could not make sense of it whatsoever.

The sounds of the tapping turned to clanging and yet it was the humming that pierced their ears and their hearts. The boys crawled, knowing they were very close, and as they slipped into the shadows of a hallway they nearly tripped over themselves as they found a lone dwarf mining away in this section of the cave.

The boys dove behind more stone and huddled together limbs shaking and lips quivering. For several long minutes they remained, clinging to each other awaiting certain death. Yet death did not seem interested in the boys. As the fog of fear lifted slightly the sound of the dwarf humming eased their spirits. Their hearts slowed and they loosened their grip on each other enough to peer over the stone and study the dwarf.

Their eyes widened as they watched a grey haired sturdy dwarf dressed in leather and swinging and iron pickax and humming. He didn’t notice the boys as far as they could tell. The dwarf swung his ax heavily against the stone then inspected the result of his blow then struck again, all the while humming a steady tune. Behind him a few feet away there was a leather pack large enough for both the boys to fit inside if they wanted to stow away to where ever this dwarf lived, though the thought never occurred to them as the grumbling of their tummies interrupted their enjoyment of the hypnotic tune and their keen noses alerted them that there was some dried meat in the pack along with ale. This was the prize they sought.

The boys looked to each other and knew they would try to steal the dwarf’s pack, or at least what was inside. Without the benefit of a plan they pressed themselves to the cold stone floor of the cave, their loose loin cloths leaving them exposed to the coldness of the stone and its jagged edges but they learned long before to ignore both. They were life.

Like snakes along the floor they slithered to the pack, the dwarf intently mining for a gem which caught the boys’ eyes. It glimmered from the dark stone surrounding it and the light from the dwarf’s torch reflected from one of its finer edges. Distracted for only a moment the scent of food kept them focused enough and soon they found themselves upon the pack.

A drawstring was tied round it securing it from the boys, but one of the brothers pulled a bone dagger from his waistband and began sawing the string. The dwarf still did not notice the boys as he hammered away at the stone and hummed his song. At last the string was cut and the boys reached in and quickly found the food they longed for. As they did so however at last the old dwarf turned and saw the boys.

“You filthy buggers!” he roared and kicked at the two whelps catching one on the back side and sending him toppling end over end before crashing against the stone wall. The other raised his bone dagger to threaten the dwarf but with pickax in hand a mighty swing sent the puny goblin ducking and scampering away for cover. Both goblins quickly fled running on all fours like monkeys they never looked back but shrieked and tripped and crashed their way from the dwarf.

The old dwarf cursed at them but was in no mood and no shape to chase a pair of goblin whelps so he gave up pursuit before it even began.

The Sureshot Rises

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The meat was finished but Durbar wasn’t hungry anymore. He went to a chest that lay at the foot of his bed. From it, he retrieved his tools. From a mount on the wall, he grabbed an unfinished bow, which he had been working on for several months. He sat down in front of the fire and continued smoothing out the edges of the nearly completed staff. The weapon was cut from a piece of blackwood; from the tree that he buried his father under. For several hours, he worked diligently on his bow adding the final touches to the magnificent weapon. Finally, he was satisfied with the piece of wood. He went back to the chest and retrieved a fine silk bowstring. Such string was hard to come by in Dirka, and Durbar traded two fine bows, three quivers, and several furs for the thin string. He strung his bow with it, took his knife, and carved “Adar” in the grip of the weapon.

“Now you will hunt again, Father,” Durbar announced, with determination in his voice, and a hint of sorrow.

Bow in hand, Durbar grabbed an arrow and stepped outside to test his weapon. The bow was five feet tall, nearly as tall as he was. The dark-colored wood made it bold in appearance. Its curve was elegant; the grip was perfect for Durbar’s large hand. He notched an arrow, held the bow down, and closed his eyes listening intently. The mountain air was cold. It nipped at his face, and the wind laughed at him as it rushed by. The sun was setting in the west, which threw a deep red glow on the trees it was slipping behind. The breeze blew through his hair. He caught the sound of an animal moving in a nearby bush. Durbar opened his eyes as he raised his bow and aimed in the direction of the creature. He saw a skunk sniffing around in a large shrub. Durbar marked it but raised his aim just high of the little beast and fired his arrow with amazing speed into the trunk of the bush above the animal. Frightened, the skunk ran off as quickly as he could and Durbar retrieved his arrow. He smiled to himself and thought, I hope you are ready, Durbar.

Chris Cornell

Say hello to Heaven Chris
It’s painful how much you’ll be missed

My heart breaks to think you’re gone
That you’ll never write another song

My ears will ever long to hear your voice
And poetic words with eloquent choice

Sometimes low and deep, stirring the soul
To loud and scratchy raising the pulse

Your pain spoke to me and helped me cope
Channeled my rage to avoid the rope

I’m sorry the rope found you my friend
Suppose all succumb to its beckon in the end

Thank you for sharing your pain and torment
Your art will endure, leave a lasting imprint

I will mourn you ahead in some black days
Embrace the black hole sun’s chilling warm rays

Though too short you are great among men
A true artist to the bitter sweet end