Blacknail rose up from atop the corpse of the enemy scout whose neck he had just slit. The salty scent of blood was in the air as the crimson liquid seeped into the ground. Without a word, he launched himself towards his next victim. There were still three of Werrick’s minions scattered around the area.
A cracking noise revealed someone moving behind a tree up ahead. As Blacknail dashed across the ground, he drew his sword. It came loose with an eager hiss, as if anticipating the spilling of blood.
A bearded human peeked out from behind the tree. He was an older man with untidy brown hair, and there was a tense look on his face.
Instantly, Blacknail leapt forward and slashed at the human. The man’s eyes went wide and he quickly disappeared back behind cover.
A predatory growl escaped Blacknail’s lips, but he didn’t give chase. Instead, he threw himself the other way. He dashed around the opposite side of the tree trunk, towards the man’s back. His claws sunk into earth and tree roots as he moved.
“Bloody hells!” the bearded man yelled as he turned and realized what had happened.
His back was exposed. He had drawn his blade but it was useless since he was facing the wrong direction. His eyes widened in terrified helplessness, as the lightning quick hobgoblin closed the distance and stabbed him in the side. The blade sank deep into flesh before grinding against bone and coming to a halt.
That left just two humans. Blacknail laughed as he tugged his sword free, and his voice echoed eerily through the trees. Behind him, the bearded man fell like a puppet whose strings had been cut.
“What in all the hells is going on here? What is this?” a panicked voice shouted from off to one side.
“It’s him, the monster!” someone exclaimed in reply. “The reaper of Daggerpoint!”
The fearful tone caused an excited shiver to go down Blacknail’s spine. The sound was full of weakness to be exploited. The hobgoblin licked his lips eagerly. He could practically taste their terror, and it was sweet and satisfying. It quenched a need.
The last two humans were on the other side of the path and hiding behind a fallen log. There would be no benefit in giving his prey time to think and collect themselves, so Blacknail darted towards them and onto the trail.
Just as he had reached the center of the path, a hooded figure rose and aimed a short bow at him. Sunlight reflected off the steel tip of the nocked arrow. It was aimed directly at Blacknail’s face, but the hobgoblin ignored it. Unflinchingly, he stared directly into the archer’s eyes and kept running straight.
Time flowed slowly as Blacknail moved. His muscles were as taut as a coiled snake’s as he prepared. His eyes glowed with hunger and hate as they focused completely on the enemy.
The archer was a tough looking human woman with short brown hair and a crooked nose. Her eyes shimmered with fear but they also held steely determination. One well placed arrow would turn the tide of the fight.
The woman’s gaze relaxed, and the tension left her face for a moment as practiced calm took over. The arrow flew free as the archer’s fingers let it go, but Blacknail had already dived to the side. He had seen his opponent’s expression change and known what it meant.
The projectile missed the hobgoblin entirely and shot off into the forest.
“Mine!” Blacknail growled triumphantly as he leapt forward and raised his blade.
The archer jumped back and dropped her bow. She reached for the blade at her side, but she wasn’t quick enough. Blacknail’s sword cut into his opponent’s exposed arm and drew blood. It wasn’t a deep cut but the archer stumbled back and lost her grip on the blade she was drawing.
Immediately, Blacknail swung his sword around again, but his attack was interrupted. There was a rustling of leaves, as the last enemy ranger rose up from his nearby hiding spot and attacked with a swing of his own blade. The hobgoblin was forced to dodge out of the way of this new attack and bring his blade up defensively.
There was a loud metallic clang and sparks as the two swords collided. Despite his strength, Blacknail was pushed back by the man’s sheer weight. The hobgoblin smiled sourly as he absorbed the force of the blow by jumping backwards. He didn’t like being pressed back by a human fatty.
“Damnation, it’s really him!” the new attacker cursed as he looked at Blacknail.
He was a stocky human male that was dressed in the same rough clothing as the others. His long blonde hair had been gathered up into a ponytail, and he had a patchy looking goatee. There was alarm in his eyes as he studied Blacknail.
As soon as he landed, the hobgoblin brought his sword back up into a defensive posture. He met his opponents’ stares and grinned savagely in a way that highlighted his pointy teeth. They flinched, much to his delight.
They should fear him! Soon, he would tear them apart for daring to raise their weapons against him and his tribe. Saeter would be avenged! Nothing could save them.
“I’m going to chew your bones,” Blacknail hissed menacingly.
He wasn’t actually going to do anything like that. Humans didn’t taste very good, especially not the bones, but the idea of being eaten unsettled them in a way that simple death didn’t, because they were dumb.
“It’s a demon! It talks!” the man stuttered fearfully. “How can it speak?”
His words amused Blacknail. The hobgoblin had spoken up before that. This human was a particularly stupid specimen.
“Shut up and fight,” the female hissed as she drew her sword. “That doesn’t matter right now.”
Blacknail’s eyes flickered with interest. Her grab for her weapon had been clumsy, probably because her main hand had been wounded and she was using her weaker one.
The man took a step forward. Immediately, Blacknail circled around away from him and towards the woman. She was obviously the weaker of the two.
“Cover me,” she told her companion as she tried to step back.
However, Blacknail didn’t give them chance to coordinate. He dashed forwards and jumped onto a nearby log. It was a massive fallen tree trunk and slippery with moss but Blacknail’s exposed claws gripped the bark without any problems.
Before his opponents could react, he sprinted along its length for a second before leaping back down onto the ground. His unexpected move placed him on the far side of the woman, out of reach of the man.
“Get back!” the man yelled as he tried to circle around.
He was way too slow. Blacknail launched a flurry of sword slashes at the woman. She desperately tried to block and parry the hobgoblin’s blows but was clearly having trouble. Her use of her weaker hand slowed her reactions.
As he crossed blades with the woman, Blacknail kept an eye on the man. Every time he tried to join the fight, the hobgoblin pushed the woman in his way or circled around in the opposite direction.
His inability to get near the hobgoblin frustrated the man, and the woman began to tire. Both of them quickly grew red in the face as the fight went on. Suddenly, Blacknail stepped forward. The woman was slightly off balance, and a blow from the hobgoblin knocked her sword aside. She was now completely open to attack.
The woman’s face paled as Blacknail raised his sword again in one hand. She had no way to block his next strike. The hobgoblin grinned as he stared into the woman’s terrified eyes. This was the end!
However, before the hobgoblin could attack, the man leapt forward with his sword raised up above his head. His blade came down in a mighty blow that battered Blacknail’s weapon aside.
Instead of resisting, the hobgoblin relaxed and absorbed the force of the strike. As Blacknail’s spun around, the man’s momentum carried him closer. As he staggered past, the hobgoblin casually drew a dagger with his free hand and plunged it into the man’s exposed back.
“Humans are so easy,” Blacknail purred happily as let go of the knife.
In front of him, the man fell and began coughing blood onto the ground as he died. The long dagger had sunk deep and cut into his vitals.
The woman squeaked and dropped her sword, before turning to run away. Blacknail sighed overdramatically. Humans were also slow. She had no chance of getting away. Really, what was she thinking?
With dagger still in hand, the hobgoblin leapt forward and caught the woman’s cloak. Instead of trying to pull her down, he simply tugged on it to slow her down and pull himself closer. She glanced over her shoulder, panicked, and immediately tried to backhand him.
The blow missed as Blacknail ducked under it. He took the opportunity to tackle her legs, and they both fell in a tangle. As he hit the ground with a thump, the hobgoblin was tempted to burn Elixir so he could quickly overpower his enemy. He resisted the urge though, since he had very little left in his system and only one vial.
Dirt and debris from the forest floor was thrown into the air as they rolled. Blacknail fought to keep his hold on the enemy scout. With a grunt of effort, he pulled himself up onto her chest as they suddenly came to a jarring stop.
The woman tried to buck her hips and throw him off, but Blacknail easily held her down. He hissed menacingly as he placed his dagger against her exposed throat, and she went perfectly still.
“Oh gods. Oh gods, no. Please spare me,” the woman begged tearfully.
This reaction stumped the hobgoblin for a second. He stared down the now crying woman’s face and hesitated. A flicker of emotion stirred within his chest as he studied her face.
“Why would I do that? It would be stupid,” he asked her curiously as tilted his head to the side.
“Please spare me!” the woman continued to whine.
Blacknail frowned and shook his head disdainfully before answering.
“You’re trying to kill me so I need-ss to kill you first. That’s how this works, and I hate you. You killed my tribe. Ending your life will make me feel much better,” he patiently explained.
The suppressed anger he had unleashed at the start of the fight still roiled within him, but it had mostly been spent. Victory was now his and with it came smug satisfaction. He wanted to drag out the fun for a little bit, and was honestly curious what she was going to say. Did she have something valuable to offer him?
“You can have all our gear and coins!” she told him frantically.
Blacknail scratched the back of his head. That idea didn’t work for him. Even bringing it up was stupid.
“I can just take your stuff after killing you. Not having you running around is much better for me,” he pointed out.
The woman stared at Blacknail for several long seconds without replying. She seemed to have regained some measure of self-control and was studying the hobgoblin carefully now, even though his dagger was still pressed against her neck.
“I can offer you pleasure,” she told him.
Blacknail considered her words. He had no idea what she was talking about, but he noticed her right hand was now concealed behind her back. It looked suspiciously like she was reaching for a concealed weapon.
“I already said I would enjoy taking my vengeance,” he countered as he remained alert.
“But surely laying with a woman would be much more satisfying,” she replied confidently.
“Laying with a...” Blacknail mused as he thought her words over.
Suddenly, his eyes opened wide in shock. A stab of pain went through his skull as visions of a certain woman from Daggerpoint flashed through his mind. Even worse than the sights was the phantom smell of perfume. He didn’t want to remember that!
Blacknail flinched away from the woman and his cheeks felt hot. There was no way he was doing anything like that with a human woman ever again! Nope, that wasn’t happening. If it hadn’t been for that perfume, he would never have let that smirking woman control him like that.
As the hobgoblin was working to repress painful memories, he felt the person beneath him shift. His eyes focused in time to see a dagger plunge towards his side. Quickly, Blacknail threw himself sideways out of the way of the attack.
The knife cut through Blacknail’s shirt and grazed his ribs. The woman took advantage of his movement to throw him aside and scramble back onto her feet. A second later, she was dashing off down the trail that led back towards Herad’s old camp.
“No fair,” the hobgoblin grumbled bitterly as he jumped to his feet.
She had almost stabbed him while he had been thinking! Even worse than that, she had made him recall things he had been repressing for months.
Rather than pursue his escaping enemy, Blacknail picked up the bow she had dropped earlier. He grabbed a few arrows off the ground as well, and then he leapt atop the huge fallen log again. He took careful aim and then shot the fleeing woman in the back.
She instantly crumbled and then rolled across the ground until hitting the base of a tree. Blacknail stuck his tongue out at her corpse before turning away dismissively. He hadn’t felt like chasing her down and tackling her again. Her disturbing offer had totally ruined his vengeful moment!
Why did humans think he wanted to mate with them? Several members of Herad’s band had mentioned stories about hobgoblins raping humans. They were so fat and tall, and also pink! How was that attractive?
Blacknail wanted to rant at the woman for suggesting such a thing, but she was already dead. In the hobgoblin’s experience, it was human woman who came onto him! Not that he wanted them to. They were perverts.
All the enemy scouts that had been following his group were dead now. Blacknail sighed resignedly as he looked around at their remains. What was left of his fury and outrage swiftly began fading away.
The killing had sated his bloodlust, but he still felt oddly hollow. The meager vengeance he had taken hadn’t made him feel any better. Saeter and his other tribemates were still gone and would never be coming back. The emptiness still ached.
If killing half a dozen minions hadn’t filled the void within him then he would just have to find something else that would. The answer was simple. Werrick was the one who had taken his tribemates. Nothing would be right until that smug human was dead.
An idea occurred to the hobgoblin. Werrick thought he had won, that the battle was over, but that was not the case. Blacknail didn’t like the idea of his future prey feeling relaxed and triumphant as he rummaged through the spoils of Herad’s camp. He would leave the man a message.
An actual written message wouldn’t work because Blacknail couldn’t read or write, but that didn’t matter. The hobgoblin knew more than a few other ways to get his point across.
Blacknail grabbed the leg of a nearby human corpse and began dragging it. After a bit of hard work and creative self-expression he had finished up. Now the forest path looked much better. There was no way anyone was going to miss this message or misunderstand what it meant!
Three of the corpses were now hanging from tree branches and creaking as they swayed. The other bodies had been piled in the center of the path nearby. Several of them were missing their heads. The skulls now decorated spikes that had been driven into the ground.
After looking around and nodding approvingly, Blacknail smiled to himself. It was annoying that he didn’t have any more time to play, but this would do. It got the point across.
There was a muted cracking noise behind him, so Blacknail glanced over his shoulder. He wasn’t too worried. It couldn’t be an enemy. It was unlikely they could have sneaked up on him, and they would have acted already if they had.
For a few moments he didn’t see anything. Then, his eyes focused on a large green shape. He stared at it for several long seconds as he stayed perfectly still. It was a troll.
Oh right, there had been signs of a troll hanging around. Saeter had pointed them out before the battle. Perhaps staying next to all these bloody corpses for so long had been a stupid idea.
As Blacknail watched, the huge beast stepped out onto the path and ambled over to the pile of corpses. There was a loud snorting sound as it sniffed them, and then in an impressive display of strength it reached out with one muscled arm and picked one of the bodies up.
The troll stared at the body for a few moments, and then it took a bite out of it. There was a series of loud crunches and wet smacking noises as it chewed and tore into the now mangled body. Blood splashed onto the ground as the beast ate.
This troll was noticeably larger than the one Blacknail had seen before. Like the other, it had thick green skin and a mane of dirty brown hair. It’s face somewhat resembled that of a very angry goblin, but it obviously weighed several times more than a hobgoblin. Heavy muscles seemed to roll under its skin as it moved, and two large tusks jutted out from its mouth.
A minute passed very slowly for Blackanil as he watched the massive predator. There was a smile on his lips, because he didn’t dare let his facial expression change, lest even the tiniest movement attract the troll’s attention.
After swallowing a particularly large chunk of meat, the troll turned towards the hobgoblin and growled deeply. Blood dripped from its jaws.
Blacknail had been hoping, futilely it turned out, that the beast hadn’t seen him. The hobgoblin carefully weighed his options. None of them seemed to offer him very good chances of survival. He was completely fucked.