“Well done! I think you got the lot. I have never seen anything quite so… devastating. Quite impressive.” The young man’s voice trailed off, he placed his unused arrow into his quiver and turned, smiling warmly to the group.
Stephan spat after breathing in the acrid air left by Miklos’ fireworks. He’d loosed only three arrows before the blinding flashed ended things. “That was quick”, he half muttered to himself. And fully to himself, “Hardly seems fair. A man must fight with blood in sinew…”
Turning to the smoking bodies, “I don’t suppose any of our arrows or Feldard’s bolts are recoverable.” He looked regardless for any that might be used again.
Hasan returned from his combat position, and nodded a wordless acknowledgment of Miklos’s developing skill.
Ozone hung in the air. Purple after images were etched across the mage’s eyelids. Barely contained magical feedback numbed his fingertips. He flexed life back into his hands and grimly surveyed the results of his incantation. He nodded at the acknowledgment of his skills.
“Did someone mention no prisoners?”
“Blimey.” Maruc rubbed his eyes, “Some more warning next time Miklos. Thanks.” The odor of burnt meat hung in the air with a heavy grey mist. “Prisoners? Fetch me a pail and I’ll show you a prison!” The priest was too stunned to smile at his own humour.
The stranger looked quite tired. There were marks on his face where he had been beaten. Still, he was upbeat and full of energy. By his demeanour, it was easy to see that he was quite confident of his abilities. He studied each of the group in turn.
“Master Dwarf, I think now is the time for some introductions. First, allow me to thank you for your timely intervention. My name is Ludo, and what am I doing this far in the forest, well quite obviously I was running away from them,” he said as he pointed over his shoulder at the still smoldering corpses. “Your arrival was most opportune, as I fear the wolves were gaining on me and I was running out of breath. I can assure you that the Goblin’s reputation of hospitality is rather overrated and best avoided.”
“Now, may I inquire as to your purpose for being so deep in this part of the woods? It is unusual to say the least, to see a Elf and Dwarf traveling together in such … harmony”?
The elf grasped the stranger’s offered hand, saying, “That dwarf and I have traveled dark paths together. In the dark, you don’t always see your differences. Not that he would notice them anyway, unless they were dwarf-inlaid with gold.” The elf laughed. “I am Hasan Elyan, Prince of the Radlebb Wood. My companions and I have traveled here to find the goblins you brought to us, so we thank you. Have you been further in this cursed vale? We have come to find their home.”
The priest turned to the newcomer. “Glad we could have been of service, Ludo.” He offered his hand in friendship.
Stephan too rose slowly from his knelt position to greet the newcomer with the briefest of pleasantries mandated by human social custom.
Feldard had been stunned speechless after Miklos’ display of magic. He caught only part of the newcomer’s introduction, and was slow to respond before the elf took it upon himself to greet the man named Ludo.
Feldard snorted at everyone tripping over themselves to greet the stranger. The dwarf noted that the man didn’t truly answer as to why he was in the area. Bah! Humans and elves were way too trusting of others.
He moved off towards the bend in the path, peering from whence the goblins had come, his crossbow still at the ready. Then called back, “It won’t take long for that injured wolf to make it back to the goblin tribe. Let’s get moving.”
Ludo approached the mage. “Miklos may I take it upon myself, to invite myself to join your merry band, as we seem to be going in the same direction before I was taken prisoner by this Goblin tribe. I was heading to the frontier seeking employment with the Duke’s army as a scout. I fear that being this far out without companions, my chances of arriving at my destination will be small. I, of course, will offer my blade and skills to your group for a equal share of any profit. My father’s groundskeeper trained me well in the art of woodland scouting and of identifying traps both of the natural and mechanical type and I do believe my skills could benefit you and your companions”. If you are looking for this Goblin tribe their main camp is not far. A few miles over yonder, however if you would like to approach them unseen you will need my skills and knowledge. How say you?’
Upon hearing Ludo’s offer — very hasty lad! — Stephan maintained a dour face — not difficult with the foul smell still hanging in the air — and looked to see Prince Hasan’s reaction. It was clear the dwarf was skeptical. After all, who was to say this Ludo would not lead them to a trap.