Oncoming Storms

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Wyanet and I jogged through the forest. Mist penetrated every layer of clothing. Soaked to the core, our every motion felt heavy. Kalista had abandoned us. I was certain we ran headlong into the waiting arms of a Goblin-masked death. The gentle rise of the hill emerged from the mist fifty yards ahead. Thunder rumbled overhead.

“Listen for my signal.” My hand found Wyanet’s arm. We stopped. “Once we are together again, we’ll make a break for the cave.”

Wyanet didn’t answer. Her eyes jumped at every sound. I grabbed her other arm and gave her a gentle shake.

“Wy?” The look in her eyes reminded me of a hungry animal. “Are you here?”

Wyanet focused on me, the woman I had first met months ago gazed back. She leaned her spear against her torso. Wyanet reached up and grasped the curve at the back of my head. She pulled my head to hers. Wyanet whispered in her native tongue, “Wakan takan kici un.” She let go and stepped away.

“Be safe my friend,” I whispered.

We went in separate directions. I moved to the opposite side of the gully as silently as the shadows I hid in. I scaled the rocky hill that formed the back of the cave. Despite the rain, I could smell the meat rotting on the drying rack. I clambered on my hands and knees to the top of the hill, a rumble of thunder greeted me as I approached.

From the top of the hill, I could see the drying rack. It groaned under the added weight of the dead woman from the day before. They stripped, gutted and strung her up like livestock. The cage that held the prisoners was thirty feet away. A miserable Goblin

wearing a shirt of poorly repaired rings leant on an axe with a broken beard. Huddled in the corner of the cage under a tattered tarp, the remaining woman and the gnome used the man as a pillow. The elf sat in the centre of the cage. His back was stiff as a board. He watched the cage door.

I brought my legs up and got into a low crouch. I took a few deep breaths. Pulled my sword from its scabbard, and focused my entire being on the shadows before the Goblin. I took another deep breath. I stepped off the front of the hill and into the world of shadows. Sorrow and anguish clawed at my mind, threatening to consume me. I stepped back into the material world as quickly and effortlessly as I had stepped out of it. I reappeared at the tail end of a flash of lightning, now face to face with a startled Goblin.

The Goblin jumped back against the cage. It scrambled to bring its axe up. I grinned. The Goblin opened its mouth to cry for help. My sword, honed to a razor’s edge, passed through the Goblin’s throat without effort. It gurgled once and crumpled at my feet. I flicked my wrist and cleaned off most of the brackish Goblin blood. Lightning flashed, thunder boomed, a crow cawed.

“Your attempt is admirable, monk, but your subterfuge is about to be undone.” The elf said. He now stood with his arms through the bars. I couldn’t tell how old he was. One of his eyes was swollen shut, he was missing half an ear, and his once resplendent silk shirt stained with blood.

With a single strike, I cut the rope that bound the cage closed. “ What do you mean?” I asked.

The elf pointed at something behind me. I followed where he was pointing. Half a dozen crows had started to peck at the rotting meat on the drying rack. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a Goblin poke its head out of a nearby tent. It held a crossbow, and it saw me before ducking back inside.

“Shit,” I mumbled to myself. “Hey!” I called to the other three captives, stealth no longer an option. “It’s time to go!”

The drying rack groaned again. Somewhere a rope snapped. Timber clattered to the ground. A drumbeat began in the centre of the camp, its tempo constant, and its volume increased. The elf stepped out of the cage. He snatched up the axe from the dead Goblin and moved ten feet closer to the Goblin camp.

The gnome woke up first. He saw me and jostled the humans awake. The Goblin drum beat was louder than the thunder. Rapid footsteps squelched in the mud.

“Hey! You lazy humans!” The elf shouted back. “Now’s your chance! In the name of the Wildmother get out of here!”

A lone Goblin charged the elf, and promptly lost its head. The elf collected the dropped Goblin sword before it hit the ground.

The humans realised what was happening and tripped over themselves to get out.

“Can you get away from here by yourselves?” I asked quickly. Several more Goblins had appeared, and the elf now fought four by himself.

The gnome spoke up. His speech hurried struggling to contain his excitement. “Yes, yes, I take them to my village, we be safe there!”

“Go, may the gods keep you safe.”

The gnome grabbed the hand of the humans. The woman pulled away. She rushed over to me and planted a kiss on my cheek. I nodded and pointed toward the hill with my sword. The man, a burly fellow with legs as thick as tree trunks, picked up the gnome, grabbed the woman’s hand, and sprinted in the direction I had first come from.

I shifted my attention to where the elf was fighting. Three more Goblins laid dead or dying on the ground. The elf fought six more, but he was losing ground. I bolted towards the fray. When I got close enough, I launched off the ground. I flew through the air, shifting my body to drive my left foot forward. My kick connected with a Goblin. The Goblin, thrown off balance, tumbled away into the mud.

I landed. A spear shaft shot towards my gut. I rolled to the side and lashed out with a heel kick. The kick caught the Goblin in the side of the head. It staggered into one of its fellows. The elf saw the opening and brought the scavenged axe down onto the Goblin’s skull. The elf jerked his axe twice. It didn’t budge. He abandoned it in time to parry a sword lunge with his off hand. A Goblin on the far left tried to hack at the elf’s forward leg with a hatchet. The elf slid his leg back. The Goblin missed. The elf tossed his sword into his right hand and plunged it through the Goblin’s throat.

I dodged another spear. I kneed its wielder in the nose. I was starting to feel like we could win.

Bowstrings twanged. I bent backwards. Two arrows, one with filthy black fletchings and the other with magnificent white, sailed through my space. I grabbed the black arrow out of the air and threw it back in the direction it had come from. There was a grunt, and I knew the other arrow had found the elf.

An arrow shaft protruded from the Elf’s right thigh. He twisted and pointed two fingers at a tent in the direction the arrows had come from. Two Goblins stood in front of the tent knocking another round of arrows. A thin streak of orange light shot from the elf’s fingers. The tent ignited. The archers scattered.

Lightning flashed.

Thunder boomed.

Drums pounded.

An angry roar echoed through the camp.

The fighting paused. Our current opponents backed away. They snickered and cackled.

The burning tent illuminated the camp, and I could see Blarg charging at us at the head of fifteen more Goblins.

The story will continue, May 9th

Written by: Sweeney

https://ko-fi.com/sweeney

Creating original content in an online space is a time consuming process. If you find it in your heart, please donate a few dollars at the link above. It will help keep me producing content for time to come. Thank You, you are appreciated. 


Midnight Mischief

Support us by donating here: https://ko-fi.com/sweeney

Wyanet, Kalista and I slid down the small hill we hid behind. We ran off into the woods, wary of where our feet landed. A heavy angry silence chased us through the trees. We didn’t stop until Kalista collapsed from exhaustion and the shadow of night concealed us. We had witnessed a woman kill herself to escape torture at the hands of Goblins and we were all shaken by it.


“Let’s make camp here for the night.” I wheezed. I had doubled over and struggled to breathe. “We should be far enough away.”


Kalista forced herself into a sitting position against a tree clutching her side. “No…” Her chest heaved as she tried to suck in air. “Fire…” Kalista coughed, nearly falling over. “There might be more nearby.”


Wyanet had shed her rucksack and stood ready for an attack. Her shoulders bobbed as she tried to get control of her breath. She had her back to us, her rawhide shield strapped to her left arm, and she pointed her spear at the gaps between the trees.


“Wyanet?” I stated.


“Humph?” She grunted in response.


“We need to figure out what we are going to do,” I replied.
“We help those people, and kill all of the Goblins.” Wyanet returned.
“Damn it, woman!” Kalista exclaimed. “We’re not going to get attacked. Now sit your ass down so that you two can figure out how to get past those gobelins.”
Wyanet scowled at Kalista. She sat down, folded her legs, and set her spear and shield at her side. “You speak like you are not going to help.” Wyanet accused.
Kalista waved her hand like she was brushing away a fly. “Our deal was for me to show you where the cave entrance was, not to fight Blarg and his brood. I showed you where the cave is, now I’ll continue on my hunt.”
“You know that bugbear?” I inquired as I sat down beside Wyanet.
Kalista snapped back, “Yes, I know him.”
“How?” Wyanet snarled.
Kalista crossed her arms and tried to lean back further into the tree. “He was one of the three bugbears that Clas ran off when we settled here. We killed the eldest brother, but Blarg and his younger brother Clarg escaped with a handful of Goblins. I followed them for a few days but they weren’t a threat.”
I replied, “That was more than a handful of Goblins.”
Kalista spread her arms and shouted in exasperation. “I don’t know!” She caught her mistake and lowered her voice. “They must have taken over another tribe or something.”
“It looked like they were preparing for a war. If we do not stop them many more people will be killed, or worse.” Wyanet stated.
“Wy is right. We may not be able to kill them all, but we can try to slow them down for a while.” I added.
“No.” Wyanet declared. “We will kill all of them.”
Kalista fell silent and watched us bicker.
“There are too many of them for the fi…” I faked a cough, “three of us to take out alone. Remember why we came out here in the first place. We can’t help those kids if we are dead.”
Wyanet stared at me and waited for me to continue.
“What’s your plan, Willow Twig?” Kalista asked, cutting the tension.
“Now you want to help?” Wyanet sneered.
“I might help ” Kalista responded as she crossed her legs. “Or I might be gone before you two wake up. I don’t know yet.”
Wyanet gave Kalista a glare that could freeze water. “If you leave, when those Goblins start to kill everyone in your village, every one of those deaths will be your fault.”
“Enough!” I demanded. “This isn’t going to get us anywhere.” Both of the women fell silent. “Kalista, we still need your help. I don’t know if we’ll be able to get past them without it.”
“Alright Willow Twig, I’ll hear you out.”
“Okay,” I relaxed a bit, “first, we’ll have to free the prisoners. If we’re lucky, some of them will be able to fight which will make everything a little easier. While I’m doing that, Wyanet, you will go through the entrance of the gully and create a distraction. Kalista, you’ll sit on the hill where we were today and support Wyanet. After the prisoners get away, Wy and I will enter the cave. Then you get to go do whatever you like, Kalista.”
Wyanet nodded in approval.
“Sounds solid.” Kalista remarked, “When do we strike?”
“Just before twilight. Most of them should still be asleep then.” I replied.
“We need to sleep then. I’ll take first watch.” Wyanet stated.
“I’ll take second,” I added.
Kalista pulled a grey wool blanket out of her pack and wrapped it around her. “That gives me plenty of time to sleep.” Kalista held up the blanket with her left hand. “The nights still get cold, and it’ll be worse without a fire.” She said to me.
“She’s right,” Wyanet offered. “we should share body heat.”
I looked at both of them and reluctantly sat down beside Kalista. I removed my sword and placed it within reach. Kalista had already done the same with her sabre and hand crossbow. I grabbed a corner of the blanket and wrapped it around my shoulder. Kalista wrapped her arms around my torso and brought her half of the blanket around completing our wool cocoon. Kalista used my chest as her pillow. She smelled faintly of rose water with hints of leather and sweat. I forced my mind to wander to less intimate places as I drifted off to sleep.
Wyanet woke me up a few hours later. Kalista was still fast asleep and snoring softly. She was warm and my body didn’t want to get up.
“It is your turn to take watch,” Wyanet whispered as she gently shook me.
My eyes snapped open. We were still surrounded by darkness and I could smell rain in the distance. “Anything happen?” I asked, dislodging myself from Kalista.
Kalista groaned and mumbled something before settling back in.
“I heard some howling about an hour ago, but it was far away,” Wyanet answered. She took my place and slid in close behind Kalista, wrapping the blanket around them.
“Wolves?” I pressed. I slid my sword into its customary place.
“I do not think so, they sounded larger.”
I frowned in the darkness. “Okay, get some sleep.”
Wyanet laid her head down and fell asleep. I turned my back on the sleeping women and studied my immediate surroundings. Kalista and Wyanet slept between the exposed roots of an ancient yew tree. A mix of oak, ash, maple and poplar trees surrounded our hasty camp. One of the maple trees nearby had a branch that stood nine feet above the forest floor. I took a deep breath and sprinted on my toes toward the tree. I launched myself at the tree branch.
The branch was slick with moisture, but I kept my grip. I used the rest of my momentum and twisted my body around until I got my feet back under me on the branch. I scaled the tree another ten feet and found a spot where several branches connected to the trunk and I could sit in a decent level of comfort. I nestled into my perch and watched as my companions slept.
Nothing happened during my watch. Clouds rolled in and blocked out the stars, and occasionally I would hear an owl or fox screech. I woke Kalista up after a couple of hours and told her the same things Wyanet had told me. I switched places with Kalista pressing my chest to Wyanet’s back and wrapped the blanket around us. Wyanet was cooler than Kalista, and smelled of earth.
“Keep us safe,” I whispered too quietly for Kalista to hear. A small determined grunt came from behind me, and I slipped back to sleep.
Wyanet woke me up hours later. It was still dark, and the clouds I had watched move in now spit a fine misty rain at us. I was already soaked. I sat up and pulled on my hood. It didn’t help. I looked around the camp and only saw Wyanet. “Where’s Kalista?” I inquired.
“I do not know,” Wyanet replied. “She was gone when I woke up. She took her supplies with her.”
I wiped the rain from my face, “Fantastic.”
“We should go,” Wyanet replied. “The rain is on our side.”
I shrugged off the sodden blanket and tried to wring it out as best I could before rolling it back up with a length of cord. “We’ll need to stick together and hope nothing goes wrong.” I secured the blanket on my back. Wyanet made sure her pack was tight, and we set off through the forest towards the Goblin camp at a slow jog.

The story will continue, May 2nd

Written by: Sweeney

https://ko-fi.com/sweeney

Creating original content in an online space is a time consuming process. If you find it in your heart, please donate a few dollars at the link above. It will help keep me producing content for time to come. Thank You, you are appreciated. 

Hopeless Circumstance

Kalista, Wyanet, and I sat in the shade of an oak tree in the middle of the forest, on a sunny spring afternoon. We ate a light lunch of common field rations and listened to Wyanet tell a story about her past that Kalista had conned her into. Kalista had shed her gambeson. She sat with her legs crossed leaning back against her hands. I had doffed my cloak and sat on it like a blanket.

Wyanet took a long deep breath. She sipped on her waterskin, folded her hands and placed them in her lap. “Love is not made for my kind.” Wyanet started. She paused and took another second to collect her thoughts. “I have had many lovers. Every one of them abandoned me in some way.”

Tears started to form in the corners of Wyanet’s eyes.

“Love is a trick.”

A tear crept down Wyanet’s cheek, and she brushed it away.

“I do not wish to speak of this anymore”

Wyanet reached into her rucksack and fumbled with something out of sight.

“This is a stupid game. I do not wish to play again,” Wyanet snapped.

A mix of emotions sprinted across Kalista’s face. She reached for Wyanet’s hand, thought better of it, and pulled back.

“I’m sorry.” I hung my head.

“Why are you sorry, you did not have anything to do with their betrayals.”

“No, but it’s just what…”

Kalista jumped up and pulled her gambeson on. “Let’s get moving again.” She interrupted. “If we don’t we might not make it to the cave before nightfall.” Kalista turned away from us and replaced her hood.

I looked at Wyanet, she wore an empty expression as she rewrapped the uneaten food in linen and tucked it into her bag. I threw my cloak on and jogged after Kalista, who was already a hundred feet away.

“Where did you find her, Willow Twig? She’s just a great big ball of sunshine.” Kalista asked as she heard me catch up.

“She found me,” I replied. “I was on the road about a month back and I had a run in with some highwaymen. I wasn’t myself at the time, and there were too many of them. Wy came out of nowhere and single-handedly saved my ass. We’ve been together ever since.”

Wyanet caught up to us.

“You are both beacons of joy and happiness, aren’t you?” Kalista remarked.

I chuckled, “Why be happy all the time when it is so much easier to run away from your problems?”

Kalista was taken by a fit of laughter, “That is very true, and if I had a drink right now we would drink to that!”

Wyanet gave us a puzzled look, but nobody explained the joke. We continued on in near silence. We would stop every now and again to rest our legs. At one point, Kalista managed to shoot a hare we had startled from the undergrowth, or more accurately, insult it to death. The little creature hung from her belt, and promised to be a delicious supper.

“We should make camp. It will be dark soon.” Wyanet announced.

“The cave isn’t much further. We can camp there.” Kalista replied.

Something felt off to me. My stomach had started to twist itself and I became very aware of how quiet the forest had become. Kalista held up her hand and motioned for everyone to get down. The words to express my growing sense of dread caught in my throat.

“Merde,” Kalista whispered, “where did they come from?”

I crawled on my stomach to get beside Kalista, and Wyanet did the same on the opposite side. We laid on a small hill that helped form a tiny valley. Directly opposite us in the hillside was a narrow rocky opening just large enough to fit a man without crouching.

The entire valley area hosted a collection of crude hide tents of various sizes. The space in front of the cave mouth had several drying racks made from small trees that were sagging from the weight of dead animals on them. Across from the drying racks, was a cage made from tree limbs as thick as my wrist that had been lashed together. Inside the cage were two women, a man, an Elf who had been beaten bloody and a Gnome with twigs in his hair. All of their clothes were ragged, but the women’s were far worse.

As we watched, two Goblins approached the cage. One of the women started to wail. The Goblins, each no taller than four feet, drew their swords and entered the cage. The first Goblin kicked the gnome aside. The second Goblin pointed its sword at the elf who sat in the corner ignoring what happened. The man grabbed the woman who screamed like a banshee and held as tightly to her waist as he could. The first Goblin grabbed the dress of the other woman and started to pull her from the cage.

Kalista’s panicked whispering caught my attention. “You can’t go down there!” Kalista was trying to hold Wyanet back with little success.

“We have to help them.” Wyanet countered.

I pushed off the ground with my left arm. I rolled over Kalista and landed on Wyanet’s back, forcing her to the ground. I wrapped my arms under hers and locked my fingers behind her neck. Wyanet grunted as she tried to force me off.

“If we go down there right now we could end up in that cage too,” I whispered into Wyanet’s ear. She stopped fighting, and we continued to watch.

The first Goblin had pulled the woman to the centre of the camp. Eight other Goblins had come out of their tents and were cheering on their fellows. The woman fought the Goblin as best she could, but it only ignored her. Even more Goblins had started to slink from their tents. The woman had stopped trying to slap the Goblin. She grabbed the frayed collar of her dress, summoned all of her strength, and ripped her dress open. The Goblin who had had a firm grip on the dress, tripped, and fell face first into the dirt. All of its compatriots laughed. The woman scrambled forward and snatched up the Goblin’s fumbled shortsword. She turned the point of the blade on herself, and plunged the jagged rusty blade into her chest. All the Goblins went silent.

A moment passed.

All twenty of the gathered Goblins burst out in a unified, high pitched, cackle. The other woman in the cage screamed. The first Goblin picked itself up from the ground, looked at the woman bleeding out, shrugged, and started fighting with the rope that served as a belt.

Kalista squirmed beside me, Wyanet put her face to the ground, and I felt her body go limp beneath mine.

“WHAT HAPPENING!” A very deep and harsh voice cut through the cackling.

A seven-foot-tall humanoid covered in coarse fur with a crushed bear-like face emerged from the largest tent. All the Goblins went silent again. The fury Goblin lumbered through the rabble. He got to the middle of the circle and saw the dead woman with the Goblin’s sword in her chest. The fury Goblin smacked the first Goblin with a paw-like hand. He then grabbed the smaller Goblin and hurled him across the camp with little effort.

“SLAVES FOR SPIDER LADY! NO KILL SLAVES!” The fury Goblin bellowed before lumbering back to his tent.

The story will continue, April 25th

Written by: Sweeney

https://ko-fi.com/sweeney

Creating original content in an online space is a time consuming process. If you find it in your heart, please donate a few dollars at the link above. It will help keep me producing content for time to come. Thank You, you are appreciated. 

Leap of Faith

The moon had set, and the sun hadn’t yet risen. The world bathed in the dark blue wash of twilight. The chill of the spring air pierced like a knife. I had been awake for nearly an hour. I had already gone through my katas, and now I sat on my knees in the centre of the small room waiting for Wyanet to wake. My hands sat folded in my lap. I took a deep breath through my nose, filling my lungs, then slowly let the air escape through my mouth.

A wave of darkness rushed over my tranquillity and I stood on the shore of a small lake close to where I spent my childhood. The air was hot and sticky. The sun scorched flesh without mercy.

“I didn’t expect to find you here,” A voice as deep as the ocean and more beautiful than a harp said from the trees.

I didn’t reply.

I stepped through the sand, almost losing my sandals. I placed my hand on the surface of the lake, sending ripples across its placid surface. The water was cool, and begged me to dive into it face first. I looked up from the water. On the opposite side of the lake sat a tiger as white as snow with stripes the colour of blood. It had emerged from the forest and come down to the water’s edge.

The tiger lowered his head and lapped at the water. He never took his eyes off of me. The ripples from the tiger’s tongue met the ripples from my hand and tossed the surface of the lake. He beckoned me to him without speaking. I strode into the lake. Before long the water rose up to my chest. The mud on the lake bed sucked at my feet, begging me to stop.

The sun hid itself behind angry grey clouds. The lake surface before me had started to freeze over. The heavy warmth of the air was gone, and massive snowflakes drifted down. The vibrant summer foliage of the trees vanished, leaving only frigid skeletons in their place.

My mind screamed for me to go back. I pressed onward. The tiger grinned.

A blinding flash of light cut through the clouds, banishing the cold. “He is not yet ready to learn your truth!” A woman declared, her voice sweet like honey and comforting like a mother’s embrace.

My head got pulled under the water, I gasped for air.

I opened my eyes. Wyanet stood in front of me with an empty water bowl in her hands. She had already bound her chest and braided her hair.  Icy water ran down my face and dripped off my chin. It was still twilight but the horizon had started to glow with the threat of morning.

“We need to leave.”

Wyanet set down the water bowl and tossed me a towel that I snatched out of the air.

“We’re skipping our bill again?” I inquired.

Wyanet finished stuffing a rucksack, pulled on a simple white shirt and strapped on her leather breastplate. She looked at me and sighed. “Yes, but when we get paid, we are going to come back and settle our debt.”

I pulled on my shirt and tightened my sash. “We’ll need to avoid Ineni.” Wyanet handed me my sword which I tucked into my sash and covered it with a black travelling cloak.

“How are we going to do that?”

I looked out the window to the muddy ground thirty feet below. “Are you afraid of heights?” I asked.

“No, why?” Wyanet replied.

I turned away from the window. “Do you trust me?”

Wyanet gave me a worried look, “Why do we not go out the front door?”

“Ineni is more than likely already awake and working in the tap room. This is the only way.”

Several seconds passed every one of them excruciating.  “I trust you.”

“Good, then you’ll need to do exactly as I say.” I grabbed Wyanet’s spear and threw it through the open window. It sliced through the air and buried itself in the middle of the road. “Next, I’ll jump. When I land, toss down the other gear. Then you jump and I’ll catch you.” I climbed onto the window sill and pushed off.

The wind whipped my hair and cloak about. At the last second, my training took over. My feet squished into the ground, I shifted my momentum, and rolled forward onto my shoulders. I was back on my feet a second later. I pivoted around and caught Wyanet’s Rucksack and shield as they tumbled through the air. I placed the rucksack on the ground beside me and braced to catch Wyanet. She had climbed into the window and clumsily pushed off the sill. Wyanet flew as well as a chicken.

I rushed forward and caught Wyanet before she hit the ground. She collided with me like a stone thrown from a catapult. We both tumbled to the ground. I gasped for air as what I had was forcibly removed from my lungs by a 120-pound woman using me as a breakfall. There was a laugh from the shadows beside the tavern. Wyanet pushed off my chest driving me deeper into the mud, and sprinted to retrieve her spear. I scrambled to my feet and got in a low defensive stance.

“That was a pretty amazing show.” Kalista’s nasally voice half whispered as she detached herself from the shadows. “I’ve skipped out of Ineni’s before, but I’ve never jumped from a third-floor window.” Kalista came close enough for us to clearly see her. Instead of the scandalously low cut shirt, she had been wearing the night before, she now wore a dark green tunic that hugged every curve of her body. On top of that, she had on a dark leather gambeson that, when synched up, would be just as tight as the tunic. Kalista’s entire head, with the exception of her eyes, was wrapped up in a dark green hood and muffler.

“We are going to come back and pay,” Wyanet replied, still tense.

Kalista pulled down her muffler. “Don’t worry about it, darling. I owe Ineni at least a hundred dragons, and that’s just from the winter. He can’t make you pay.” Kalista pulled her muffler back into place. “Let’s get going. There is an angry farmer looking for a sexually devious Tiefling who had sex with his daughter last night.” Kalista brushed past us. Wyanet gave me an annoyed look. I shrugged my shoulders.

We walked through the town in silence. When we entered the forest, the sun had started to crest over the horizon and cast long shadows. We continued on in silence for another hour, birdsong keeping us company.

“How much did old Clas hook you for?” Kalista asked as she pulled her hood and muffler down.

“Who is Clas?” Wyanet responded.

Kalista stopped dead in her tracks and stared at us in disbelief. “How do you not know who you are working for?”

“He never gave us his name,” Wyanet said.

“We don’t actually even know where we are,” I added.

“Merde!” Kalista exclaimed. “How do you not know where you are?”

“We’ve been on the road since we met. We don’t stay in one place for too long.” I answered.

“We avoid the paths that the colonizers make. It is faster and avoids their settlements.”

“Anyway,” Kalista insisted, “how much are you being paid?”

“Fifty dragons.” Wyanet interjected, “We should keep moving.”

Kalista let out a long whistle. “Old Clas must be getting desperate. He only offered the Elf girl twenty-five.” We started hiking again. “That’s a tidy sum. What are you going to do with it?”

“I don’t know. I guess we’ll pay Ineni, but after that.” I shrugged, “We haven’t really thought that far ahead.”

“You’re welcome to spend it drinking with me, eh?” Kalista winked at Wyanet.

We fell back into silence and continued to hike until noon. We stopped in the shade of an oak tree and sat down for lunch. Wyanet pulled a loaf of hard crusty bread, some chunks of elk jerky, and a few handfuls of dried berries out of a small pouch that hung from her rucksack. Wyanet offered some of the food to everyone. Kalista threw off her gambeson and plopped down excitedly producing a deck of playing cards. A massive grin split her face.

“Let’s play a game while we eat.” Kalista shuffled the cards and fanned them out to Wyanet and I. “Everyone draws a card. The person with the highest value card loses, and they have to tell a story based on the suit of the card; If you draw a heart, you tell of love, a diamond for a story of fortune, clubs for a story of victory, and spades for a story of loss.”

Wyanet and I gave each other reserved looks, then each drew a card. Kalista drew a card for herself and set the rest of the deck aside.

“On the count of three, reveal your cards.” Kalista smiled like a little girl. “One…”

We all held our cards close to our chests.

“Two…”

Kalista’s dark eyes flickered with mischievous intent.

“Three!”

We held out our cards. Kalista held a two of clubs. I had the seven of spades, and Wyanet held the queen of hearts.

The story will continue, April 18th

Written by: Sweeney

https://ko-fi.com/sweeney

Creating original content in an online space is a time consuming process. If you find it in your heart, please donate a few dollars at the link above. It will help keep me producing content for time to come. Thank You, you are appreciated. 

Lust, Rum, and Horns

Wyanet and I burst into the Crimson Snowfall. It was early in the evening and the villagers had started to filter in. “Ineni!” I bellowed as I rushed up to the bar, “I need some information.”

Ineni placed a foaming mug of ale before an annoyed halfling who’s hair and shirt clung to him with sweat. Then he turned his broad shoulders toward me.

“You’re a rude little git. I spend the entire day hoeing fields and your pale arse runs in here and interrupts my drinking.” The halfling mumbled in our direction.

Wyanet thumped her spear against the floor behind the halfling. “Is there a problem?”

The halfling glanced over his shoulder and sneered at Wyanet, revealing a couple of rotten teeth. He paused for a second and scanned Wyanet from head to toe. He mumbled something unintelligible as he slid off his bar stool and slunk to a table in one of the corners.

“Mr Applebottom isn’t wrong.” Ineni said, “Damian was just very rude.”

“He has not spent much time around civilised people,” Wyanet smirked, “but he does have some important questions.”

Ineni half turned away, leaving one hand on the bar. “That depends on the questions if I can be of any help.”

“How many spiders have you seen or killed around the tavern lately?” I asked.

Ineni looked to the ceiling and stroked his chin. “Are you asking about the little brown ones or the big furry ones from the Archipelago?”

“The furry ones, like you killed this morning.”

Ineni thought for another minute. “In the past week, I’ve killed about a dozen or so. Why is that so important?”

“It is a suspicion of his about what happened to the Baronet’s children. I do not know if I believe it.” Wyanet interjected.

“How long ago did they start appearing?” I asked.

Ineni replied immediately. “One or two normally come in when I get a shipment from the Archipelago, but the last shipment was almost two weeks ago. I think one of the spiders got out of the crate and laid eggs somewhere. I don’t see how that is connected to the disappearance of two children.”

“Have you seen any Dark Elves pass through the village?”

“Can’t say that I have. What do they have to do with this?”

“Just a hunch. Are there any caves in the forest, or maybe someone had a new door in their cellar recently?”

“I don’t know much about the woodland here. I lead the builders and settlers in after the Baronet and his company cleared out the Goblins.” Ineni pointed at a magenta skinned Tiefling sitting in an alcove near the fireplace.”If you want to know about the forest, you should talk to Kalista. She was part of the Baronet’s company, and now she works as a huntress for the butcher.”

“Thanks, Ineni.” I took a single step away from the bar.

“You’re going to want this.” Ineni placed three small clay cups on the bar and slid a squat opaque bottle across the bar.

“Add it to our tab.”

“Already did, Mr Damian.” Ineni chuckled.

Wyanet approached Kalista’s table first. She leaned her spear against the wall and took a seat. Kalista leaned back in her chair and eyed Wyanet with confusion. “You’re a bold beauty,” Kalista said, her accent sweet and lyrical, but spoken through the nose. “That’s a refreshing change from most of the other women around here.” Kalista made a sweeping gesture towards the rest of the bar.

I ambled up to the table, placed the clay cups down, and filled them all to the brim before taking a seat beside Wyanet. Kalista shifted her black eyes back and forth between us. She grinned and drank the brown liquid in a single gulp. Kalista rocked her chair up onto two legs and crossed her legs on the edge of the table.

“So, it’s business is it?” Kalista laughed, “And Ineni sent you with the good booze from home.” She snatched the bottle from the centre of the table. “This is going to be good.” Kalista filled her cup, looked at it and decided to drink from the bottle instead.

I picked up the cup and threw back my first shot. The dark brown liquor smelled of vanilla and tasted of sugar, and burned as it ran down my throat.

“Well, darling?” Kalista said to Wyanet. “Are you going to drink with us, or sit there like a priest in a whorehouse?”

Wyanet picked up her cup, sniffed it, and flinched back in surprise. She took a small sip and contorted her face in pain. Wyanet dropped her cup, spilling the rest of her rum onto the table and floor. “You people drink fire?” Wyanet coughed.

“First time with rum darling?” Kalista clapped Wyanet on the shoulder and fell back into her chair. “Don’t worry, you get used to it.” Kalista laughed again, “How about you, Willow Twig? You want some more?” Kalista offered the bottle back.

I pushed my cup forward and Kalista filled it back up, wincing when she spilt a bit more on the table.

Kalista took another swig from the bottle. “Now, let’s get down to business. What do you want?”

“How do you know we want something?” Wyanet demanded.

Kalista shrugged. “Darling, people only buy me things if they want to have sex with me, or they want me to do something I would rather not do.” Kalista trailed off, “then again most of the men who buy me things I don’t want to have sex with.”

“We aren’t here for sex,” I interjected.

Kalista humphed, “speak for yourself, Willow Twig.”

“We need to know if there is a cave entrance near here,” Wyanet stated.

“You two don’t look like the spelunking types.” Kalista put her feet back on the table. “Don’t get me wrong, you’re a lovely couple, but you look like the types who avoid real danger.”

“It’s for a job, we need to know if we can get into the Underdark.” I declared.

“We think it was the Dark Elves who took the Baronet’s children,” Wyanet added.

Kalista choked mid drink and fell forward on her chair, her flamboyant attitude had vanished. “If that is true, then they are already dead.”

“We still have to try,” Wyanet said.

Kalista sighed, “You’re just as stubborn as that Elf girl.” She leaned back in her chair. “If you two are insistent on getting yourselves killed, there is a cave mouth roughly a days hike from here.” Kalista kept speaking but she became distracted by something behind us. “I’m heading out in that direction in a couple of days on a hunting trip.” There were shuffling footsteps behind us. “I’ll show you where it is, but I’m not going down there with you.”

“Kalishta.” An intoxicated man slurred.

“Merde,” Kalista whispered in Infernal.

“Kalishta,” The drunk man shoved me out of the way and forced his way to the table, spilling his drink on Kalista in the process. “Kalishta, I’m –hiccup– in love with you –hiccup– I nefer want to be away from you.”

The drunk man was violently pulled away from the table by another man in his early twenties who was rippled with the muscle from life on a farm. “Kalista is my girlfriend!” The farm boy shouted in the drunk man’s face. “And I’m going to marry her!” The farm boy turned to Kalista, got down on one knee, and produced a ring of tarnished gold with a poorly cut diamond on it from his roughspun trousers. “Kalista, you are the love of my life and I want to spend every moment possible with you for the rest of it.”

Kalista looked at Wyanet. “See what I mean? They only buy you nice things if they want to have sex with you.” She turned to me, “Have sex with a man once and this is what you have to deal with for the rest of your life.”

Kalista grabbed the bottle of rum off the table and sauntered around to the two men. Kalista snatched the ring from the farm boy and opened her arms in a welcoming gesture. “Gentlemen, we’ve been over this. I’m not ready to settle down yet.” She pocketed the ring. “Now come closer, we still need to learn some manners for addressing a lady.”

The two men stepped closer to Kalista, the drunk man on her left and the farm boy on her right. When they were close enough, Kalista headbutted the drunk with her horns. The drunk stumbled backwards, blood gushing from his cockeyed nose. When he was far enough back Kalista took the rum bottle in her left hand and smashed it against the farm boy’s head, sending him sprawling.

Kalista glared at the drunk. “Don’t spill beer on a lady, especially when she’s wearing white!” She shouted, and turned to the farm boy. “And don’t interrupt a lady when she is talking!” Kalista stared at the neck of the broken bottle in her hand, a single tear ran down her cheek.

“Damn it, Kalista!” Ineni roared from behind the bar.

“What!?” Kalista hollered back, “They started it, and the little chatte made me waste the good stuff.” Kalista turned back to Wyanet and I. “Change of plans, we leave at daybreak.”

The story will continue, April 11th

Written by: Sweeney

https://ko-fi.com/sweeney

Creating original content in an online space is a time consuming process. If you find it in your heart, please donate a few dollars at the link above. It will help keep me producing content for time to come. Thank You, you are appreciated.