Deroc grunted slightly as he shifted the weight of the rabbits on his back. The sack was full of the furry animals; he couldn’t have been happier. His hunting trek into the Unnamed Wood went as planned, unlike some had envisioned at the village. The forest was neither scary nor haunted as far as he had seen.
It had been two phases of the moon since he’d last seen the village. When his father had been injured capturing a wild boar that had wandered into the encampment, Deroc knew it would fall to him to hunt. The boar was monstrous and fed most of the village when they celebrated its death.
He looked up through the trees ahead of him. A bright light shone through the limbs and Derocs spirit grew; he was nearly home. Suddenly the hares seemed to lose their weight and his pace quickened. He wondered what his mother would do when she saw the load he brought home.
The light began to envelop him as he neared the edge of the trees. The spirit turned on him, the weight of the rabbits came back and so did the worries for his family. Most of the men in the village had gone just before him to hunt goblins that were taking over the hunting grounds. If the village came under attack, it would be a tough fight for his people.
Derocs feet carried him faster towards the light. Without realizing what happened, Deroc was at full sprint through the woods. Hardly taking his eyes off the light, his feet tripped on roots and his face was slapped by low limbs.
As he cleared the trees, Derocs fears were upon him in reality. Fire. The whole village was burning. He kept running towards the flames, his mind losing its focus and his hands losing their grip. The bag of hares dropped behind him and rolled to a stop near a boulder. The arrows in their quiver bounced on his back and his speed increased as wails of pain and terror reached his ears on the wind.
Near the rim of the flames, Deroc could make out black figures. Some were small and misshapen; goblins. Derocs hand had pulled his sword from its sheath before his mind had sent the word.
Several of the shapes started to move towards him as they saw him running up the small knoll. They didn’t stand a chance against Derocs will. His mind had only one thought, to find his family. Goblins fell all around him as he continued towards the fire.
Once he had cleared his path, he made his way to the first group of human figures he saw. They were his neighbors from the village. The two small boys were near their mother who was firing arrows everywhere. The older men were running about with swords drawn.
“Nico! NICO!” Deroc screamed over the roar of the flames and human screams.
The boy nearest him turned and a small glint of relief shone in his eyes, “Deroc! Come here!”
He joined the boys near their mother and began slicing his way around them. Goblins came from every direction, some carrying weapons, others just jumping and trying to rip them apart with bare hands. Derocs sword took them down one by one as they swarmed around. He looked around the flames and the light helped him glance others from the village, all killing whatever came near them. Most won the fights, some did not. Deroc saw many of his people fall victim to the horrible looking creatures.
After what felt like ages, the goblins began to flee back into the woods and were chased by a few stronger boys. Deroc did not follow, instead he ran into the flames of the village and began kicking in the doors of homes he came upon. The sights made him gag, families dead and bloody laying in their own beds. Some had reached for weapons, but fell short. He ran from building to building but did not find his parents.
He made his way back to the edge of the village to the only relatives he had left, the family he had helped fight the goblins, “Nico, where are my parents?”
The boy stopped scanning the forest wall and turned to Deroc, the look from his eyes did not help the pain Deroc felt, “I’m sorry Deroc, they did not make it. Your home was the first to get attacked by the swarm.”
The other boy came up next to his brother, “It was then when we heard them attacking your home that we knew to get the swords from the chest.”
“They came from the woods. Deroc, they came from the hunting grounds, the men who left before you to fight, they have not returned.” the other added.
“Did they flee in the same direction they came from?” Deroc questioned, his rage for the death of all goblins felt like it was burning his heart.
“No, they came from the east, they fled to the north.” the older boy said.
“Their commanders would be to the east then; they stay behind the swarm and control its actions beforehand.” Deroc looked towards the wooded area and then back to the boulder where the sack of rabbits lay. “Stay here.”
He started down the knoll and then ran to the boulder, the rage inside him coursed through his veins. He reached the sack and leaned against the rock, he stared at the fire as it started to wane itself out. A few figures of men and women walked in and out of the flames, salvaging whatever they could.
“It’s a pity.” A voice came from behind Deroc, startling him and causing him to fall forward.
He looked up at the rock and saw a man perched upon it. His hair was long and flowing, tied back slightly as his eyes glowed from the reflection of the fire. Deroc stood and looked the man over. It was no man; Deroc looked a bit closer and could not believe it. An elf stood not five feet from him.
“Its ok, I mean no harm. I am merely tracking those goblins that did this to your village.”
“Then why did you not help us?” Deroc spoke before he knew his mouth was moving.
“I did give my assistance. It was my arrival that made them flee to the north.” He held up a large bow.
“So you do range attacks.”
“At most times, I am quite skilled with the bow. My father taught me much of his knowledge, including a very rare spell that helps the arrows fly straighter than any other arrow, they will always hit their mark.”
Deroc stood staring at the thin, pale skinned elf. He had only heard legend of the elves; he never thought he would actually see one in real life, at least not so close to his home.
“I must be going, the goblins travel fast in the dark, it is their favorite time. Before I go though, I will help you. I can feel your rage, young warrior, I know you want to hunt these goblins and stop them from continuing.”
Deroc couldn’t answer at first, he just nodded his head in agreement before finally finding his voice again, “Yes, please, help me.”
The elf slid from the rock and stood face to face with Deroc, he looked almost as young as Deroc but he knew that the elf had to be many years older. He reached into a pouch and brought out a small glinting ring.
“Which hand do you use to aim and shoot your arrows?”
Deroc had almost forgotten about his bow and arrows slung on his back, “My right hand.”
The elf gently grabbed Derocs hand and slid the ring onto his index finger, “I am giving you a gift, young warrior. This ring holds the power of the elves, it will give you the power to fire your arrows straight and true at any target. Use it well.”
The elf let go of Derocs hand, nodded his head slightly and moved quickly off into the woods after the goblins. Deroc held up his hand and looked at the shining silver band, etched into it he could see the elven writing that held the enchantment.
He looked back towards the woods as he picked up the sack of rabbits and headed towards the village. Many people had started to gather together and were trying their best to put out the last of the flames with small buckets of water. Deroc stepped up to his small cousins and held out the sack.
“This is what I got from my hunting trek. Please use them and feed yourselves and those villagers who are left. I am leaving to hunt the goblins.”
The eldest boy picked up his sword and started towards Deroc, “If you’re going, I’m going with you.”
“No, you must stay.” Deroc looked at Nico and the elder boy, “The village will need to be repaired and the women looked after. Please stay here and rebuild. I shall return someday, and I will bring the head of the goblin commander that brought this onto our village.”
Nico had a small tear running down his face and the eldest boy just stared at the woods. Deroc placed his hands on the boys shoulders and wished them luck before turning away and moving towards the forest.
In his heart, Deroc could feel the rage of a thousand villagers who wanted death to the goblins. Also he felt the love he had for his parents and the pain of losing them. He stopped just before entering the eastern woods, took a large breath and walked past the tree line.
The forest was darker now that the fires were being extinguished. Deroc took his time as he made his way over roots and around fallen trees. He wondered how far the goblins would be. The commanders stayed close enough to give orders through scouts, but never stayed close enough to be casualties.
He continued through the forest, stopping occasionally to have a small bite to eat from his pouch. The food he had left over from hunting was growing sparse. If he didn’t find the commanders soon he would have to slow himself down with more hunting. The rage pumped his heart faster with this notion in his head.
He had been traveling through the woods for at least a day before he finally reached the usual hunting grounds of the village. He could make out bodies on the forest floor, mostly men and many goblins. This is where the village men had fought their best to stop the swarm from moving on. Deroc looked around as he made his way through the thinner trees, as many goblins as he saw here, his spirits lifted. He may have at least found the beginning of the group. The commanders should be nearby.
The wind whistled through the trees and a distant bird song flowed through the leaves. Deroc sniffed the breeze, he could smell the foul odor of goblins. The small group he had been looking for must be near. The odor filled the air and he could almost hear their noises.
Deroc moved slowly towards the smell and sounds. He didn’t want to give away his position yet. His fingers twitched on the bow he carried and the other quickly felt for his sword. The trees became thinner at the top of a small hill. He slowly crept up to a tree and scouted out the area.
Smoke came billowing out from three fires in the center of a small encampment. The largest of which had a small rigging over it used for cooking wildlife, or anything else goblins thought about eating.
Deroc pulled an arrow from the pack on his back and began eyeing his targets as he notched it. There were four guards walking the perimeter of the camp. Those would be easy prey. Once he took those down, the rest would be punished for what they did to his village.
The thought of the massacre that left most of this village dead, flowed into this memory. The arrow tightened on the bow and Deroc took his aim. A silver glint caught Derocs eye, it was the elven ring on his finger. He had nearly forgotten about it and he quickly gripped the arrow as the first guard was moving around the first tent.
The arrow flew quickly with the help of the elven enchantment. It broke through the thin armor the goblin wore and it fell fast to the ground. Deroc had another arrow aimed before the goblin finished falling.
Soon, there were no more guards. He put away his bow and drew out his sword. It was large, but it was light and easily used in one hand, a trait that he had used before to surprise his enemy. Deroc started down the hill to the camp. It was set up like most goblin camps, one main tent flanked by two smaller. The smaller ones usually held the guards and their equipment while the larger held the main officers of the group. Any goblin spell casters or high ranked goblin warriors usually stayed in the large tent.
He peered quickly inside through a small tear in the tent fabric. The sight made him feel like leaping for joy. He knew this group was the one part that would either hold the commander or the scouts for the commander, but inside was something Deroc never thought he’d see. Pacing near a long table was the high chieftain of the tribe that murdered his close family and friends.
On the table, Deroc could make out differing trophies from their attacks and battles, mostly items stolen from the dead human homes or bodies. The chieftain walked back and forth, Deroc gripped his sword tighter as he placed his hand on the flap of the tent and prepared himself to attack.
The flap moved quickly as Deroc ran into the room, sword held high ready to strike. The goblins eyes grew wide and its hand just barely reached its sword before Derocs blade slashed across its face. It left a large, gaping wound across the goblins left cheek and blood black as the night poured from it. Deroc stepped back and gained his control again as the goblin glared at him and bared his teeth. It pulled its sword out of its sheath and leapt towards Deroc.
This startled Deroc, the tent was not very large, yet the goblin flew nearly to the ceiling as it sailed through the air. He moved quickly to the side as the goblin hit the ground and Derocs sword slashed and broke through the side of the armor on the chieftain. The blade went deep into the beasts’ chest and Deroc twisted it slightly, the goblin let out a shriek of pain and cursed Deroc and his family.
Deroc pushed the blade deeper and leaned towards the goblin, “My family is not cursed, my family is dead, and now so are you.”
The goblin looked into Derocs eyes and gargled a few words Deroc could not make out before the light in its eyes went out completely.
Deroc pulled his sword out of the dead goblin and wiped the dark blood from its blade before replacing it in its sheath. He kicked the goblin once in the side and walked to the table. There were many necklaces and rings nicely placed on a cloth. Deroc hunted through the many glinting shards until his eyes found what he was looking for. His fathers ring was hidden under another piece of fabric. His father had gone into the fight with the other men even though Deroc and his mother had pleaded with him not to go.
He picked up the ring and placed it into his sack. The rage in Derocs heart had diminished some, but not enough. The main chieftain of the swarm may be dead, but the swarm was still alive.
Derocs eyes fell upon a small piece of parchment nearby on the table. He picked it up and read the scrawling message written on it. The goblins had their own speak that was close to the human language they had broken it down and only made a few words able to be written. Deroc placed the paper into his pouch and steadied himself. The goblins were headed for another village.
Once outside the tent, Deroc gathered up his arrows from the goblin guards and picked up any pieces of armor from them he could use. The swarm was ahead of him at least two days run, he needed to move fast if he wanted to catch them before they hit the second village. The sun peaked through the trees above him and glinted on the elvish ring. Deroc knew what he had to do, he had to find the elf and travel with him to destroy the army of goblins.
He looked over the goblin tents as he walked up the hill. The fires were nearly out and that night the creatures of the forest would feast upon the corpses of the goblins. Deroc smiled with this thought as he walked through the trees and headed north towards his next battle.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THE STORY ABOVE IS FICTITIOUS AND ANY RESEMBLANCE TO PERSONS LIVING OR DEAD IS PURELY COINCIDENTAL.