Leif's Journal12

Onward Into The Storm

Bitter cold winds pierced the night as the weary refugees of Kag Dorthun struggled along the muddy mess that the road had become during recent heavy rains.

The snows that followed melted only slightly before the next storm began drenching the exhausted exiled men and dwarves on the long route to Wessex in more freezing rain.

Small icicles hung from the reins of the horses as Leif and his Brothers Without Banners attempted to ride alongside the people escaping King Stonespeaker’s army.

The journey was already too much for some as several of the sick and wounded succumbed to the punishing cold. Bodies lay about the sides of the road; some in hastily dug shallow graves and others facing up and frozen in the icy mud.

The rains grew more intense and thicker ice began sticking to the tree branches, weighing them down. The forest creaked and moaned with the loud cracks of snapping branches and dull thuds of falling pines.

The normally cheerful songs of the dwarves were replaced with solemn dirges, sobbing, and silent marching.

“If we do not reach the main camp soon these stragglers will become mired and they’ll freeze to death,” Leif shouted to Valor over the loud drumming of the rain, “We have to keep them moving!”

Leif dismounted from his horse and called to an old woman with her two grandchildren. He lifted them up and onto the horse. The cold seized their throats as they attempted to thank him.

“It is not wise to give up your mount, Leif. What if you are needed to scout ahead?”, Valor shouted back.

“There are more refugees ahead of us,” replied Leif as he stared off into the darknes with half-elf eyes, “I can see them just past that hill…”

As thunder rumbled through the valley a massive tree crashed down across the road with roots upended as the muddy ground lost its grip.

The way forward was blocked.

Valor’s grotesque face shriveled and knotted as he cried out in a rage.

“Einar! Gorack!”

Gorack approached with an axe in hand, though the burden of his father’s coup against the former king, and the royal assault on the marches, obviously weighed upon him more heavily than the tree upon the road.

Einar loomed tall above Gorack and the other dwarves who began cutting away at the trunk. His dragonborn scales glistened in traces of moonlight as the winter storm covered him, and everything else, in ice. He roared and swung a mighty axe down onto the trunk, cutting deep into it.

Leif climbed over the roots of the tree to look out toward the others on the road.

A flash of lightning illuminated the valley followed by a loud clap of thunder which shook the air and ground.

He saw just ahead, by the hill, men and dwarves, axes and swords in hand, locked in battle with dozens of goblins!

The rain drowned out the sounds of their combat. Leif climbed to the top of the tree trunk and drew his bow.

“Leif!”, screamed Valor, “What do you see?”

“Leif!”

The half-elf ranger leaped down and raced toward the ongoing fight, alone.

The storm became more intense with small hail stones falling amid the icy rain.

As he reached the edge of the battle he could see the hobgoblin commander barking orders in their foul speech from his saddle upon a large black worg.

The men and dwarves fought with whatever weapons they could find. Some held proper swords but many others weilded wood axes and butchering knives. The goblins were cutting them down without mercy.

Leif drew back his arrow and aimed for the hobgoblin who was surrounded by ten lesser goblin footsoldiers.

He shouted and called forth the hail of thorns, “Na i’ calad uin Ithil ar Giliath rhisto dad i’ coth!”

Leif’s voice echoed and he felt the might of Gaan herself channel into the arrow as he released the bowstring.

The arrow slipped quietly through the rain and struck the hobgoblin’s chest.

With a flash of light, and with a loud snap like the storm’s thunder, dozens of magical shards appeared, glowing like the light of the moon, and shot into all of the goblin warriors, wounding them.

The hobgoblin stared directly at Leif. He pointed to Leif with a spear and shouted new commands to his soldiers, in the goblin language.

The commander then roared loudly in common speech, “Kill the elf!”

Wasting no time Leif loosed two more arrows. The first struck a goblin in the neck dropping it lifeless to the ground. The second arrow pierced the stomach of another goblin foe.

The rest, still charging toward him, slipped and fell in the mud giving Leif time to draw his own swords, prepared to greet the attackers with violence.

Two reached Leif and swung their rusty jagged iron blades wildly. Leif parried each sword blow to the side and struck back with a fury, severely wounding both of the attackers.

As the next wave of goblins approached Leif fell backward just narrowly avoiding the hefty spear, thrown by the hobgoblin, which flew passed Leif and lodged deep into a wooden cart.

Leif scrambled to regain his footing as the other goblins began to surround him.

The hobgoblin had a murderous look in his eyes as he slowly rode toward Leif upon the worg.

Leif’s lungs burned as they repeatedly filled with freezing cold air.

The rain and hail stones drummed loudly and the wind rushed through him as he stood covered in mud and ice.

As the footsoldiers waited, their hobgoblin commander lifted another enormous spear and pointed it toward Leif.

The next sudden and bright flash of lightning revealed a massive silhouette with outstretched wings. The thunderous clap was followed by a deafeningly loud screech.

From the grey and black expanse of night the dark body of Thoron, the great eagle, emerged.

The hobgobblin turned too late to avoid the powerful talons.

Thoron grabbed the worg at its neck and hindquarter killing the beast. His wings flapped furiously blowing down the remaining goblins and Leif as the eagle rose up with the worg in its clutches.

The hobgobblin was tangled in the saddle straps and could not get free. He dangled screaming upside down as the eagle took flight carrying the commander and his dead worg off, over the road, and into the darkness of night.

Leif laughed and got back up to continue the fight. The goblins were visibly frightened and disorganized without leadership but he was still severely outnumbered.

As he raised his swords the goblins before him began to fall one by one. They screeched and attempted to scatter but it was too late. Arrows from the woods struck them all dead.

The rain finally began to relent allowing more moonlight to shine between the clouds.

In the dim light the blood of the wounded, the mud, and the rain all seemed indistinguishable.

Familiar voices called out from the dark forest.

“So, it is the son of Gunnar after all!”

“And he was kind enough to leave a few goblins for us, eh?”

Five cloaked rangers walked out to Leif in the muddy road.

Another voice rang out in the night.

“Leif!”, screamed Valor.

Horses approached carrying the other members of Leif’s party. The road had been cleared and refugees now trickled past them once again.

Another man appeared from the woods with the rangers. He was a tall and imposing man who wore the skin of a bear as a cloak. His thick black hair and beard made him look more like a bear himself. He carried a staff made from a twisted tree branch.

“I see you’ve had time to accidentally rally more men to our cause while narrowly avoiding your own pointless death!”, Valor rebuked.

“Be not so angry Priest. Surely your new god will draw in many more with promises of eternal salvation and glorious triumph over the Dwarven rulers of the Citadel,” Leif replied.

“Gunnarsson, a company of goblin reinforcements is camped within a cave close by,” said one of the rangers.

“Aye, they’re ripe for the taking,” said another.

Valor’s eye seemed to twitch as he quickly anticipated the actions to follow.

“Leif, your presence is required here. We cannot abandon the refugees to satisfy your endless thirst for goblin blood,” he said.

“The goblins remain a threat to everyone on the road to Wessex. These rangers are some of the best hunters and fighters in all of the marches. We’ll let the goblins have a taste of their own bitter wine by striking them where they are weak. Then we’ll return to help safeguard the road,” said Leif.

The other rangers nodded in agreement.

“No,” continued Valor, “You have an obligation to fulfill to Einar and the Brothers Without Banners!”

“See to the safety of the people here,” interrupted Leif. “The gods know they have need of priests right now. But leave the woods to the woodsmen.”

Openly angry, Valor turned to the rest of the party and began doling out instructions once again.

The youngest woodsman was still a boy and remained behind to help along with the large bear-like man; a druid known to some as Gvendur.

Leif turned away and walked off into the woods with the other rangers as the storm continued to rage above them all.

Leif's Journal12

Tales of Gandamyr AnimuX