The Singers: A Wagon Approaches

The northern most scouts chirped like the Caroji beetle, sending the simple message to ready for battle.  Throughout the wood, 45 archers re-nocked 45 arrows and waited.  The wagon was coming from the North, this would be a shipment of payment from Daggerburg.

Omni, a warrior, prepared himself for the attack.  Around the corner to the north he saw two dire wolf steeds with goblin riders.  His bitterness and anger flamed as more goblins, on foot, came into view.  By his count, nearly 80 goblins had rounded the corner before the wagons started to come into view.  As the lead goblins passed his position, roughly midway down the line of Singers flanking the road, he glanced back to see the last wagon, followed by yet more goblins, 8 wagons in all, most, heavily laden, each being pulled by a pair of large sized Spitting Drakes.  Goblin herders wrangled the drakes and kept the train moving forward.  Following the wagons, another 30 or so goblins came into sight.

Omni did the math, this would likely be a bloody fight and several of the Singers might die today.  With that, he focused his bow on a particularly ugly goblin approx. 100′ away, and glanced to the right to check the position of the lead wagon.  As it approached the stone that marked First Shot, he drew back his bow.

As soon as the first wagon’s wheel passed the stone, 45 arrows flew into the unsuspecting goblins, pin-cushioning the Hobgoblin Commander, the dire wolves and their riders and dropping some 25 Goblin Cutters.  Even as they were falling and the goblins started to scramble about like ants after their nest is kicked, a second volley was loosed, felling another 20 Goblin Cutters and wounding most of the Goblin Warriors ahead of the wagons.

A third volley landed, dropping the drake herders and several of the warriors.  As a fourth volley flew, the drakes were getting agitated, the Hobgoblins in the rear were rallying the goblins into ragged ranks and the goblins in front of the wagons began throwing javelins into the trees.  It was obvious they had no idea where the elves were though, as all the javelins flew too low to be of any danger.  A fifth volley sung through the air, finishing more of the Warriors and the last few Cutters.  Of the original 80 goblins in front of the wagons, less than 20 remained.  The bows and arrows of the elves were finely crafted weapons.  When combined with the accuracy that years of training gives, the Singers were extremely accurate shots.  The Warriors ran around and around on the road, this way and that way, in and out, making seemingly random throws into the trees.  Seemingly random, until three of the singers fell out of their tree tops, each with a javelin in their chest.  The remaining Goblin Warriors targeted the right height and the right trees with surprising accuracy.

As the sixth volley flew, two more singers were taken down.  But, it was too little too late:  the seventh volley killed the last of the goblins in front of the train.

The Hobgoblin Commanders in the rear had split up, each taking a group of 16 Warriors with them as they flanked the wagons, looking to the trees from behind small wooden shields.  As the eighth volley started to fall, the hobgoblins shouted a guttural command, and the goblins all raised their shields, blocking nearly a third of the archers’ shots.  The remainder were wounded, but shook it off, responding by throwing javelins back into the trees.  Only 1 singer was hit, but not knocked out of his tree.  Two of the singers who had been knocked out of their trees were getting back up and gathering their bows.

A ninth volley fell and once again the hobgoblins’ command had the goblins raising shields.  This time, less than half the arrows found their target, 2 of the goblins fell, but the rest advanced toward the trees at a run in a more-or-less straight line, the hobgoblins pressing from behind.  The archer’s launched their tenth volley into the advancing line of goblins.  Several more fell, but the line kept coming.  Omni and a few others aimed for the hobgoblins, several scoring hits, but this seemed to do little more than piss the Commanders off as they urged their charges to move faster toward the trees.  Moments later, the archers were nocking their eleventh arrows, but the goblins were now obscured by the same foliage that had kept the archers safe.

Omni spotted one below him, its shield raised above its head, making itself a very small target indeed.  The goblin started climbing Omni’s tree.  Returning the arrow to his quiver and shouldering the bow, Omni started down the tree to meet the goblin.  Drawing his sword he picked a likely place and drew his longsword.  As the goblin clambered up the last branch, it dropped the shield and poked at Omni with a short spear, it missed and the elf swung down, hacking toward the goblin with a vertical strike.  The goblin ducked back around the massive trunk of the old Oak.  On the other side of the tree, just above the elf’s position, a javelin was flying at Omni before he realized the goblin had moved.  At the last moment he twisted out of the way so the sharp tip glanced off his ribcage, cutting through his leather armor and leaving a stinging gash in his flesh.  He reacted with a powerful swing of his sword, scoring a glancing blow of his own that left a dent in the goblin’s rusted helm.  Another stab missed him as he parried its thrust.  Another stab, and another, and he found himself, to his surprise, staying on the defensive.

With a determined effort, Omni swung a feint as he Danced the Steel, delivering a slashing blow that took the goblin in the thigh.  For an instant, the goblin reacted to the cut in his leg instead of the elf in front of him.  It was his undoing.  Omni seized the moment and delivered a Brutal Strike to the goblin, driving the point of his blade through armor, flesh and bone.  The goblin fell, twisting through the air and bouncing off tree limbs, landing on the ground below with a sickening crunch.

Omni looked around to see goblin corpses at the bottom of several trees.  He looked down at the wagons, the drakes had not bolted, which surprised him until he realized they were chewing on their fallen handlers.  Back down the road, he saw one of the hobgoblins and two of his warriors, running back the way they had come as a rain of arrows fell toward them.  When it landed, the three creatures were each impaled by no less than eight arrows each.  In the forest, the elves were coming down out of their trees.  There were six dead and two badly wounded, Wolajun’s leg had been pierced by a goblin’s javelin and Nijana’s hand had been run through by a goblin’s spear.  Several of the druid’s charmed the drakes so they were docile and manageable.  The Elders inspected the wagons.  One was laden with barrels of disgusting slops, the goblin’s food supply.  Another contained crates of chickens, likely intended for the drakes.  The others were laden with gold, weapons and armor.  The dead and injured elves were loaded into the wagons, and the train began to move.  Within an hour, they turned off the main road and headed north east, back to the Songwood.

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