The snarl of the wolf sent a chill down Stephan’s spine. But he kept his wits and keeping his wounded side away from the wolf, he tightened his grip on his sword and raised his shield.
Muttering perhaps loudly enough for Pyotr to hear he said, “Watch the eyes! They’ll clue you in where he’ll strike. And go for the groin!”
Stephan knew that a wolf’s soft underbelly between the back legs were the most sensitive. His full attention was on the wolf and he failed to notice the gob about to leap down on him from a table. But Pyotr noticed and turned to cut the goblin down in mid air.
The dire wolf saw its opening and lunged for Stephan’s brother, locking his jaw at the base of his neck.
Stephan yelled, “No!” and brought his blade heavily down on the stiff hide of the beast. The blow did little good and Pyotr’s legs flailed under the hideous weight and bite.
Stephan dropped his sword and let this shield dangle from his arm. Without really thinking about it, he did was he learned on the ranch when a rabid dog had to be pulled off someone. He grabbed the wolf’s hind legs and with a mighty heave lifted them off the floor.
“Faaaaa!”, he strained under the weight. This was a huge mass of muscle! But the ploy worked. The beast’s fangs loosened, freeing his brother who rolled in agony to his side.
With a guttural snarl, the wolf writhed and twisted, causing Stephan to lose hold. In a flash, the beast was on him but almost equally as fast, he felt the wolf slump. It’s stinking, slimy weight resting on his chest. Lifeless. The wolf breathed a final putrid breath into Stephan’s face causing him to wretch despite the weight on his chest.
Maruc was distracted. Blades and cudgels swung from all directions and it took all is concentration to fend them off. “Blessed Halav is testing me again.” he mumbled as he ducked behind his shield once more. The stench of wolf blood met him and he risked a sideward glance but there was very little he could do as the two goblins he was facing seemed to be too fast for his parries. He tried a trick trusting to Mighty Halav. He swung his shield wide stunning the low swing begun by the left hand goblin. He drove the edge of his shield forward pivoting the goblins punch gripped shield and exposing its flank. Maruc’s flail made a swift wild arc forcing the other goblin to duck. But the blow wasn’t aimed at him. It connected with a rib splintering thud. A second later Maruc was covered with a spray of black blood coughed up by the collapsing goblin. Using the stopping power of the first blow he reversed the swing and wrapped the chain around the leg of the second goblin. Maruc pulled back with all his weight unbalancing the goblin and himself and they both crashed to the floor. A desperate struggle ensued as both grappled for their weapons and their lives.
Miklos gave a satisfied smile as the goblins fell like a house of cards his friends were safe now, he didn’t stay at the window long enough to watch the foolhardy dwarf re-enter the wood. He turned back to the more immediate problem of the fight below. “That’s it my friends! Keep shooting! I’ll be back in a minute.”
He ducked down the spiral staircase back into the stores, hunting around for more flasks of lamp oil. Maruc must have grabbed them all, he thought through his frantic search but eventually he found a couple more and started back up the stairs.
* * * * *
It was impossible to tell how many goblins lay in wait just at the edge of the woods. But the dwarf could hear the telltale whistle of many slings being prepared. Feldard also noted that the screaming had stopped—either she was dead or it had been a ruse all along.
The dwarf looked to his elven companion. Hasan was not faring well. A stone or two would be all it would take to bring the elf down for good. “Make for the tower, I will keep the goblins occupied!” And with that the dwarf charged back into the woods, axe raised making himself the more threatening target. “You currs, pull your blades and face me in battle, if you dare.”
The goblins were on him instantly. His plan was working in so far as the goblins put away their slings in favor of engaging the dwarf. Their short swords stabbed and slashed at the dwarf as he tried to buy the elf what time he could. His axe slaughtered one of the creatures—another instantly took its place.
Hasan had assumed the dwarf was with him and had continued on toward the tower. Slingstones thudded into the grass around him—though not nearly as many stones as he had expected. With his elven speed, he was able to dodge virtually all of them. By the time he noticed Feldard was missing, he was nearly to safety.