By David Pontier
When Goblins Attack is the property of the author, David Pontier and is used with permission by Candlekeep. Email David with any comments and feedback on When Goblins Attack and visit his website at: http://www.geocities.com/piqsid/stories.html.
Chapter 5: The Prisoner
Elliorn stumbled as she pushed the heavy cart up the steep incline. She heard the snap of a whip behind her, and she quickly straightened and continued. The cart was not too heavy for her, and she was not tired, but she was not going to escape unless her captures underestimated her. So far it had not mattered much. So far, she had been doing the underestimating.
As it turned out, these goblins were capable of forging their own metal. She had not seen much evidence of any production, but they were in the initial stages of something that had a lot of potential. The six guards and Elliorn had been added to the goblins' already impressive collection of slaves. Elliorn was one of about a dozen women working in this makeshift mine. Half of them were resting, and the other half were working. There were about twice as many men. They worked with tools chopping away at the cave walls, prying lose the chunks of ore that the women then carted up into the smelting room.
The goblins had not searched Elliorn well. They had removed all the obvious weapons, but she still had two daggers, one strapped inside her thigh, and the other under her arm. If these were humans and not goblins, there was a good chance they would have tried to rape her by now, in which case, both weapons would have been found. She was thankful for the little things.
Even unarmed, Elliorn felt she could fight off a dozen goblins, but she was shackled to her cart and not offered much mobility. Also there were the giants. At least two stone giants stood watch over the workers at all times. In the three days she had been a slave, she had paid attention to the giants, and was pretty sure there were at least six of them.
She also listened to them talk. They spoke a version of the goblin tongue, and she understood most of it. Apparently there was another giant named Kron who ran everything. They spoke of him with fear, and Elliorn decided he must be much bigger than they were. Each of the stone giants topped out at about twelve feet, impressive enough, but Elliorn feared this Kron was bigger still.
The giants mostly watched the men work, letting the goblins handle the women. If only Elliorn could work with a pickaxe like the men, then she could do some damage. They had their legs shackled, making it hard to run, but they could still move about. Their fear of the giants kept them from trying anything though. Elliorn had fought giants before. Yes, they were strong, but they were very stupid.
Over by the wall, a loud rattling noise and a cry caught Elliorn's attention. She turned to see that one of the men had loosed a high rock from the wall, and an unexpected cascade of rocks and dirt came down on him. It did not look too severe, but the man was howling in pain. Elliorn thought it was one of the guards, but she was not sure. She was pretty sure that he was faking it. Anything to get out of work.
The goblins all crowded around him, taking his pickaxe before he could get up. He just kept holding his head and moaning. The giant yelled for him to work in the common tongue, but the goblins chattered back that he would need to rest. They needed to replace him.
Elliorn saw her chance. She quickly straightened her posture and pushed her cart with vigor. She passed two women up the incline before a whip told her to stop. A few goblins came up to her and examined her size. She flexed her arms for them and her six-foot frame toward over them. They talked among themselves and nodded. They undid the chain that tied her to the cart and handed her the pickaxe.
"Dig," one of them said, pointing at the wall.
Elliorn nodded dumbly, and they turned their backs on her. The first goblin did not even get a chance to cry as the ranger drove the tool into the back of its skull. The second goblin saw his partner fall and turned to catch the other point of the pickaxe under the chin. He managed a small yelp before what little brain he had came shooting out the back of his skull.
Elliorn stooped to pick up one of the goblins' swords and prepared to meet the charge. There was none. There was at least two dozen goblins moving about, but she had killed these two so quickly and quietly that the alarm had not been sounded. It was not until one of the other women saw what Elliorn had done and screamed, that the goblins took action.
Two came at her, one from either side. The ranger easily blocked one attack with her short sword and drove the head of her other weapon into the goblin's chest. The one from the other direction swung, but Elliorn stepped away from her kill, pulling the weapon back across her body and blasting in to the second goblin.
A cry from behind her spun her about just in time to impale a goblin that had leaped from a ledge. The sword was ripped out of her hand under the weight of the goblin, but she quickly picked up another. Two more goblins came at her. One flew away with its head exploded, and the other stumbled backwards with a gash in its neck.
The two giants were alerted now, and they flanked the ranger. She disposed of three more goblins as the giants approached. Unlike before, right after the avalanche, she saw the club coming down on her this time, and somersaulted forward. The crash behind her was tremendous, and she wondered how she had survived the previous attack. She came out of her roll by the giant's legs and tried to slash its tendons, but his legs were trying to stomp her, and the goblin blade was not sharp enough anyway.
The second giant waited behind the first, and Elliorn foolishly tried to block the attack. Her pickaxe sunk deep into the wooden club, deflecting it away from her, but when the giant pulled his weapon back, the pickaxe went with it.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw two more goblins. Before either could strike, she sent her empty right hand out toward them. She wrenched a sword from one, and then backhanded with the same weapon across the doomed goblin's neck. The second goblin thought it saw an opening and charged, but Elliorn's second weapon came in, easily blowing away the attack and impaling the goblin. She pulled her weapon free and rolled away, just as a huge club turned the already dead goblin into paste.
She now found her back up against the wall where the men were working. They all just watched in stunned silence. Maybe if they would help this would be easier, she thought. The nearest giant swung again, but Elliorn saw it was not aimed at her, instead the club bashed against the loose stones above. A large chunk came free and Elliorn dove out of the way, colliding with one of the men who was also seeking cover.
Another crash from above told her to move again, but the man she had hit threw her to the ground as he scrambled for safety. She took a nasty hit on her side as the rocks came down, and as she hobbled up, she was thrown across the room from a well-aimed club. Her head smacked against a wall, and she blacked out again.
One of the giants picked up her limp form and looked at the dozen or so goblins she had killed. Six goblins waited around the giant's feet for him to drop her so they could kill her, but he shook his head. "Lock this one up special," he said. "Kron might use her."
The goblins did as they were told.
* * *
Elliorn slowly shook the cobwebs from her head and tried to stand. She could not. Her hands were tied behind her around a stiff pole with her feet out in front of her. She had woken up like this before. Artemis. No, wait. She was no where near the assassin. She suddenly remembered her fight with the goblins and the unfortunate ending.
Her legs were still shackled together with a foot and a half chain. Upon closer inspection, she could feel that her hands were not tied, but also shackled with only about three inches of chain between her wrists. She could not push off with her hands on the ground, but she thought if she could pull her legs under her, she might be able to stand up. "Please remain seated."
The voice was booming and she looked up - and up - at her host. He was sitting down cross-legged in front of her, and he was still nine feet tall. It was a frost giant. She had never seen one before but the pale skin and the voluminous white beard and hair were adequate enough for identification. She looked deep into his dark blue eyes and could see a fair amount of intelligence looking back at her. This would be Kron.
Elliorn also noticed that there was some type of glyph or ward scribbled on the floor between them. Was this giant a shaman of some kind? Unfortunately, it was well known that the bigger they got, often, the smarter they got.
"Now I am going to ask you a few questions," Kron said slowly, pinching a small amount powder from a pouch on his side and tossing it on the symbol, "and I want you to tell me the truth." The ward sparkled and shimmered as it absorbed the powder. "Trust me, I will know if you are lying."
Elliorn nodded, searching her mind feverishly to see if she could remember this ward from somewhere. Wards were powerful, but they were also counterable. A true mage had his power within himself and to defeat him, you needed to counter his strength. A wards power was unchanging, and if you knew the way to diffuse it, a child could do it. Elliorn did not think she knew.
"What is your name?" Kron asked his first question.
"Elliorn Dysenetia," she replied, not seeing any reason to lie yet.
"And what are you?"
"A woman," she replied cleverly.
The frost giant grumbled. He might be smarter than the stone giants, but he was still no genius. "You killed a dozen goblins a few hours ago without breaking a sweat and with your legs shackled together. I don't see to many of our male slaves attempting that. What are you?"
Elliorn thought with the clarification, her "woman" answer would not work this time, so she tried another one. "I am just a wife of one of th-" a bolt of electricity shot out from the truth ward and struck her in the chest. Her eyes rolled back in her head as sparks jumped between every conceivable location on her body. The pain lasted only a few seconds, but when it was done, she did not feel strong enough to even stand. The wound on her thigh had opened and screamed at her as her wrists and ankles burned from the electrified shackles.
"You were saying?" Kron prompted, a huge grin beneath his bushy beard.
"Ranger . . . I am . . . a ranger," she panted.
"A ranger," the giant struck a contemplative pose. "I don't think I've ever heard of a female ranger before. I hear some of you like to specialize in killing certain types of 'evil' creatures. You would not happen to have any such specialty, would you?"
"I kill frost gia-" she started through gritted teeth before the ward shocked her again. Either the charge was weaker this time or Elliorn was ready for it because she managed to keep her convulsions to a minimum.
It was a combination of both, really, and Kron hastily sprinkled a liberal amount of powder over the ward, recharging it for several more blasts. "Stupid bitch," he muttered. "You are supposed to learn from your mistakes. I don't have that much of this, you know."
Elliorn looked at the good-sized pouch on his waist and then glared hatefully at the giant. "Your bag is not big enough."
The lie detector stayed quiet, and Kron took this to mean she was not bluffing. "Yes, I'm sure you are very brave, but after a few more shocks, your subconscious won't let you lie. Now, why are you here?"
"Your goblins attacked a cabin and killed two men five miles north of the town where I was staying. I investigated and found you."
"And what do you plan to do now?"
"I plan to escape and kill you," she said plainly.
"I need an emissary," Kron said, pretending to ignore that last comment. "I need someone I know the people will believe. If I let one of my other slaves go, they will run screaming back to this town of yours telling everyone about the horrible giants and numerous goblins. He will be sedated, restrained, and ignored. I need someone to bring my message of doom who will be listened to and obeyed."
"You want me tell people you are here? What happened to the element of surprise?"
"I am not above murder," he replied, "but it is much easier to pillage a town when no one is there. If the town is still full, then we take losses and they take losses. It is much easier for everyone involved if you just leave."
"If you let me go, I will organize a resistance that will crush your little raiding party."
"I have no doubt you will try," Kron agreed, "but how many people will stand by you? I'm guessing most will run. As for any resistance you might put up, I could crush a score of men all by myself. Do you really think you can stop me?"
"I will stand over your beheaded body," she said coldly.
Elliorn had been throwing around a lot of threats, and the ward had remained very quiet. Kron chuckled at her confidence. He stopped laughing suddenly and looked down at his chest. He pulled out a large medallion from within his vest, and Elliorn saw it was glowing. "It appears we have more visitors. Friends of yours?"
Elliorn did not know what he was talking about. "I need to attend to this," he said, slowly getting up. I want you to sleep for now."
"But-" Elliorn was cut off as the giant reached his left hand forward and clamped her head between his thumb and forefinger. The fingernail on his right index finger was sharpened to a point, and he scratched a quick symbol in her forehead. As he backed away, Elliorn suddenly felt an overwhelming urge to close her eyes. She tried to fight it. She even tried to lie out loud for a shock to keep her awake, but it was too late. Her head lolled to the side and she was out.
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