A young adult dressed in clothes that clearly marked him as one of the town’s scouts had just stopped his frantic run in front of a large sturdy brick building that he knew to be the guard HQ. Taking no time to stop he rushed through the front doors and up to the third floor where he found the commanding officers office. “Sir!” He said loud and clearly as he stood to attention in front of head guard Warren.
“At ease, Michael. I assume you are returning from giving that old man the news?” He asked in a stern voice that clearly said that Michael had better have been doing just that.
“Yes, sir! Of course, sir! Here is the writ he gave me to prove my words.” Michael responded while handing over the writ. “He said that until further notice we are to operate under a full mobilization of the town.” Michael relayed the elder’s words in a grim but respectful voice.
“A full mobilization you say? Hmm…” Warren massaged his temples with his hand while he thought. ‘It’s been decades since we had to go this far, but the elder made the right choice of caution in the face of these new, more intelligent goblins. The reports so far from the scouts are quite worrying.’ It was then that Warren remembered Michael was still standing in front of him awaiting new orders. “Head to the armory and get fully kitted. When you are prepped for action, go find your group leader and get further orders from them. Dismissed!” Warren said in a commanding tone.
“Sir!” Responded Michael as he saluted again and turned on heel, heading back the way he had come.
Warren walked around his office to stare out the window that overlooked the forest around town. ‘These smarter goblins might end up being a problem, though.’ He thought. ‘Hopefully the scouts I sent out return soon with some good intel.’ He continued to stare out the window deep in thought of possibilities for the upcoming fights.
Deep in the forests about half a days travel from town at a run were two of Pine Bluff’s most experienced and highest level scouts, Charlie and Tom. These two had been sent on the important mission of scouting out one of the directions the war horns had been heard coming from and to try to estimate what they were dealing with. What they found however was terrifying and beyond all expectations.
Charlie and Tom sat high up in the trees above the rapidly growing goblin fort in their standard issue gear. It was made of various shades of dark and light greens and browns to help the scouts to blend in with the forest scenery. Up here in the trees, already partially obscured by leaves and branches, it was especially effective.
Both Charlie and Tom are on the shorter side which was preferable for the scouts to help avoid detection, but that was where the similarities ended. Charlie is a tanned muscular Caucasian man in this thirties and Tom is an African-American in his twenties. They had been a team for years though, ever since Tom became a scout and Charlie was originally designated as his trainer.
As the two sat up in their chosen perches, they looked down on the most advanced goblin camp they had ever seen being constructed. It left them awe-struck and worried, and also anxious to get back to town and report what they had found.
Now, everything they knew of goblins up till this point was that they had very basic intelligence, hardly above any other animal but having opposable thumbs like humans made it easier for them to still advance somewhat. Loin clothes, crude stone axes, and spears, bows that fell apart after a few dozen shots and mostly living in natural caves or, rarely, an odd teepee-like structure that the first good storm would take out.
What the two scouts saw below them now blew their minds away. There were hundreds of goblins in a massive clearing all working toward common goals in what looked like small organized groups. In some locations, they kept bringing in a steady stream of trees that had been cut down from the forest.
Other groups were splitting those trees and yet another group was taking that and building a wall around the entire encampment. Goblins building walls? Real structures? That was unthinkable! If they were capable of this, then things were dire if all of the horns were other groups.
The only saving grace here was the stream of goblins coming from various directions that looked as if they had been traveling for a distance but did not gather anything. The scouts surmised that these were the other warbands they had heard and that the goblins were all gathering in one place under a single banner, so at least they hopefully did not need to fend them off from a dozen different directions.
“Psst!” Charlie tried to quietly signal Tom in the next tree over. Thankfully his quiet noise was loud enough and when he had Tom’s attention they continued conversing in American Sign Language, a staple for the scout teams.
“These goblins are insane, Tom!” Charlie signed over.
“I know, right? What should we do next? Report back or see where all these others streaming in are coming from?” Replied Tom while looking a bit worried.
“I’d love to know where they are coming from myself and I am sure HQ would as well but it’s more important that we make it back and tell them about these fortifications, numbers, and their level of organization first. We can’t risk one of us having an accident on the way back and them not getting the information because we split up or chose to continue the mission. This is too big.” Charlie signed back over, ending the conversation since he was the ranking officer for this trip.
Tom simply nodded his head in agreement and prepared to head back to town, his grim expression a mirror of Charlie’s own. Things were not looking good for Pine Bluff.
“Retreat! Go go go!” Screamed Martland at the top of his lungs. ‘How the hell did this even happen!?’ He thought to himself panicked. “Arghh!” The man next to him, Colin, yelled out in pain as he went down with three arrows sticking out of him in various locations in his back. “Goddamnit!” Martland yelled while he and another half dozen men attempted to retreat back the way they had come. ‘How on Earth did it come to this!?’ He thought to himself in a panic.
Martland was in command of a party consisting of 10 guards. Most of them were CQC specialists, two archers, and a healer. They had been sent to patrol a bit further away from town and make a sweep in a circle around the town to see how close the goblins might try to get. Martland and his squad had wiped out many a goblin scouting force in the past and even a small den here and there, and by this point, they knew how a goblin fought and how best to fight back.
These abominations were not goblins. Sure, they looked like goblins, but the level of intellect and planning they displayed was uncanny. Their ability to speak broken English and insult his troops while they ambushed and slaughtered them was terrible for morale. Overall, the mission was a failure.
Rather than rushing at them from a single direction and alerting the forest for miles as they came, the goblins had chosen to slowly surround the humans and started off by firing arrows into their midst. In the first volley, 2 men were dead. By the time they realized what was happening the goblins had rushed out of the brush and began melee combat, quickly overwhelming the third man with sheer numbers and killing him as well.
‘This is a disaster!’ Martland thought to himself in a daze. “Retreat! Go go go!” Screamed Martland at the top of his lungs. This now brings us to the present where Martland and his remaining 6 troops attempted to flee to the best of their ability. They quickly outpaced the short goblins but the arrows continued to rain around them. “Argh!” Another man, Austin, cried out as an arrow struck his sword arm.
Austin dropped the sword and kept running, however, determined to survive. His squadmates gave him a grim nod and they all kept running, pushing themselves to their limits. Eventually, the arrows stopped flying, the humans too far to hit accurately, but they did not slow their sprint until they burst out of the tree cover and entered the no mans land between the woods and the walls of Pine Bluff. ‘We made it!’ They all collectively thought to themselves in relief as they stumbled through the gates.
While staring out his office window Warren was at the right place and time to witness Martland and his group returning. ‘They are missing nearly half their squad…’ He thought to himself with worry as he stepped away from the window.
‘I hope Charlie and Tom bring back some good news because I now know Martland won’t be when he comes to report soon.’ Warren thought as he got out two small glasses and began to pour some of his limited stock of whiskey for himself and Martland. ‘Only time will tell for sure though…’ He sat back down in his chair and waited, sipping on the whiskey slowly.
“KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK”
“Come in!” Warren called out, and, as suspected, Martland stepped through looking as if he had gone to hell and back.
“My report, sir!” Martland said in a weary yet respectful voice, still trying to maintain his professional composure.
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