Stephan heaved the blood-soaked wolf off his chest pushing it to the side. Gathering his wits and trying to expel the stench from his nostrils, he looked for Pyotr.
“Pyotr! What are you doing, man?”, his elder brother, despite a serious wound at the base of his neck, was assisting Maruc with some heavy lifting. Darya and Irina soon noticed and were at their man’s side in an instant, taking him firmly but gently to a chair.
Despite tears, Darya spoke with an authoritative resolve. “Come sit here, husband. ‘Twould be worse that you bleed more cleaning up the aftermath.” Darya and Irina began to assess the damage and bind the wound.
“I’ll help with that Maruc,” Stephan said, half stumbling after bearing the weight of the wolf.
The priest picked himself up. The goblin lay in a pool of its own blood staining the floor by the doorway. “Give me a hand Pyotr, we’ll drag these corpses out and re-secure the doorway. Leave it ajar, I expect Hasan and Feldard will be here any moment.” Maruc scanned the courtyard from behind the table, now against the doorway and waited for the elf and the dwarf.
Hasan appeared round the corner but looked confused. Feldard wasn’t with him.
To Maruc’s eye Hasan looked to have weathered the escapade beyond the tower walls relatively well. He couldn’t understand the elf’s faltering steps.
Then the elf turned, and the cleric hissed. A goblin’s ax had left the elf’s swordarm, his right arm, dangling like wet cloth at his side. Maruc saw the luster of the pendant the elf wore habitually had extinguished, blood drenched and darkened. Hasan said, “That was no woman. A trap. Feldard must be helped.”
* * * * *
Feldard struggled as he continued to engage the goblins. ‘Surely Hasan must have made the safety of the tower by now’ – but the dwarf dared not risk a glance behind to check. It took all his attention to keep the goblins engaging him from cutting him down. His arms ached with the weight of his axe and his wounds seeped freely with each maneuver. There were just too many for him; the dwarf hated to admit it, but the fact was that he’d die by their blades if he didn’t retreat now, and even in retreating his chances were slim. Feldard hoped he’d bought the elf enough time. With a bellow, Feldard swung at the goblin to his left, catching him in the shoulder. Then before another could fill the gap, the dwarf charged through heading back for the clearing. Dwarves are not fast runners; dwarves in plate mail…were ridiculously slow, but Feldard pumped his legs with all that he had left in him. His axe remained in hand, just in case. Feldard could hear the whistle of sling stones being launched towards him. It was not an encouraging sound.
* * * * *
Juggling the flasks of oil he had grabbed from the stores below Miklos arrived just in time to see the last of the remaining goblins limping out of range of the archers in the tower. “Ahh, it seems I have missed the action! Nevermind, well done.” He placed the flasks in a row by the wall.
“Darya, could you keep an eye out to make sure this isn’t some clever feint? I shall prepare a spell directly from my book to aid our friends returning form the sortie.” Miklos dated over to the other arrowslit to asses the situation that Feldard and Hasan were in. He couldn’t see the elf, but the dwarven warrior was cursing his battle cries as he fended of the goblins at the treeline. They seemed to have thought better of following him into the open. But that didn’t stop Miklos from crouching behind the arrowslit and prepare the incantation. “Taras, come over here and watch the treeline in case the goblins chase after Feldard. I shall be ready in a couple of minutes.”
The goblins, fearing being targeted by magic and arrows from the tower, stayed back. They chose instead to launch a hail of slingstones at the retreating dwarf. The archers in the tower shot arrows into the dark forest, trying to target any movement they saw in the brush.
Holding his shield above his head, Feldard deflected many of the rock projectiles, while others dinged off his plate armor. Still, they were taking their toll upon him as he made his way back to the tower.
Finally, the doorway was in sight. Maybe, he would make it afterall. His shield dropped slightly, as the wounded dwarf’s strength was slowly running out. A perfectly aimed stone bounced off the dwarf’s skull. Feldard was dizzy. Struggling to remain conscious, he stumbled forward, finally collapsing only a few feet away from the doorway.