I watched as Goran instructed where the goblins should position themselves. If I didn’t know better I would think that Goran had experience leading troops or at the very least being a leader of some sort. The goblins weren’t the easiest to control but after a few kicks from the hobgoblin and Goran’s clear instructions, the main force of troops stood organized in front of the sole entrance into Goran’s lair. And what a lair it was.

Illusions of lava spewed forth, oozing between the deep cracks in the ground. Unfriendly iron spikes were scattered on the battlefield, discouraging an outright charge. From what I could tell, they weren’t real. Another illusion created by Goran.

Goran had told me the basics of the plan. I had a feeling, however, there was quite a bit he had neglected to tell me. He’d scurried around his room talking to almost all the goblins and even the hobgoblin. I hoped the hobgoblin hadn’t brought up my promise of giving him the artifact or if he had that Goran handled the situation well.

The plan was simple. While I was away to gain the goblin's favor, Goran was digging up the undead locket he had found. Goran was planning on removing the enchantments that kept its mana from leaking. This would be enough to tempt Jorn to visit; to see what had killed Goran.

I grew impatient waiting. I knew whatever would happen, victory or defeat would be decided quickly. There would be no drawn-out battle; no stalemate. If everything went to plan, Jorn would be forced into conflict. It was just a matter of time before Jorn showed up. It was a surprise on who would come with Jorn, hopefully, it would be a surprise we could handle.

Goran had sent some goblins into the cave to scout for an incoming party. They were told to rush back if they saw a group walking through the tunnels, so when a panicked goblin stumbled back into Goran’s battlefield I knew the fight was coming.

“How many of them?” asked Goran.

“About 30 people came down the cave.’ the goblin responded.

Normally, I’d be ecstatic at our number advantage, but goblins were just worthless. They were physically weaker than most creatures and dumber. I knew that this battle would be close. It would be determined by the preparations made.

As the noises of marching soldiers echoed throughout the tunnel, the goblins prepared themselves. Goran hid. If he were to die the illusions would cease to exist, making it much easier for the enemy to move over the terrain. I stood behind the goblin line, prepared to crush those who stood in my way.

The frontline of goblins consisted of those who were only ever given cooking utensils. They were as good as dead but didn’t seem to know it yet. The hobgoblin knew this, however, making sure he stayed near the back of his troops away from the chaos that was about to ensue. I spotted Florg, the goblin who’d trick me into a pitfall. He was in the middle of the sea of goblins.

Soon Jorn and his men could be seen at the end of the tunnel. With him stood men from the village he stayed in. There were only two men I recognized, however. Jorn stood at the front of his small platoon. The bartender who had told me to visit Jorn stood close behind Jorn. I thought he was only a bartender, but I knew very little about the man. For all, I knew he could’ve been some former elite soldier. I heard soldiers were particularly attracted to booze. It helped them cope with their gruesome memories.

They marched in an organized formation that mirrored the goblins in no way at all. The lined-up goblins shuffled around each other, for some Goblins they were trying to get a better view of the enemies and for others to reach the rear of the army. Either way, from the way Jorn’s men rushed forward, I knew that a fight was inevitable. I knew that there would only be one victor, Goran or Jorn.

The goblins went flying in all directions, as the two sides bombarded. The fight was gruesome for the goblins, who were getting cut to shreds. The goblins’ outnumbered Jorn’s fighters though who were able to stab them from all sides as they stumbled over the desolate battleground. The hobgoblin shouted at his troops, trying to get them to do what he wanted. Goran remained hidden.

Two of Jorn’s men stood no chance as I crashed into them, sending them tumbling backward. A mole man stepped in between me and his two comrades with a large two-handed ax wielded in his hands. I stepped aside before the sharp hunk of metal was able to split my head in two. It planted deep into the ground. The mole man didn’t waste time. From his side, two daggers replaced the large ax.

I lunged toward him, pinning him to the ground. A sharp pain rushed through my body. My other fist came down on his head, causing its shattered remains to sink into the ground. I looked down at my knees and saw blood trickling down my leg. A dagger was plunged in the kink of my hard shell. I ripped it out and limped towards the two thugs I had set sprawling. I had something I needed to finish.

My hands struck their skull-like I had with the mole man, putting them out of their painful misery. I wiped my hands on the floor and looked around. Gone was any semblance of order. There were casualties from both sides, and many more still fighting. I spotted Jorn in the sea of soldiers. I headed in that direction.


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