Astelbania Chronicles: The Vale Cont...

Falina Hardister - now El'Cairn - (she would have to get used to the name), leaned over her mare's head, and tried a hoarse whisper, "What do you mean we're not alone ... we are as alone as one gets,"

A sharp wave of Bahl's hand silenced her, and her eyes widen further when she looked at the tiefling's horse and found the saddle empty.

"Bahl," her whisper was barely audible.

They weren't alone. The thought ran through her mind.  She mouthed Bahl, and willed his name to his demonic little brain.  Her head swiveled upon her neck like a Carrenbretheran Hawk-Hen, but still her eyes were clouded only in darkness, and couldn't make horn nor tail of her tiefling protectorate.

She argued with herself in silence.

"Do I dismount?"
"And then what would you do, Falina, hmm?"
"I would..."
"Would what...?"
"Oh shut it!"
"That is what I thought.  Stay put, and do not be rash!"

Letting her rational mind win, which was characterized by the sharp tone of her mother's voice, as luck would have it, she stayed put in her saddle, working harder to keep herself calm than she was trying to keep her mare in a gentle state.

A voice stabbed from the darkness to the left: "This way,"

She practically fell out of her saddle. "By Fasdeus," she cursed, and flopped out of the stirups, and made for the side of the road, abandoning the equines for shady refuge.

She more smelt the musky scent of Bahl rather than see him, and she hissed, "You scare the ever loving hells out of me,"

"Then you are easily scared," he chastised, "We are being watched by a small group of Hobbs - on the other side of the road.  If I am right..." his red eyes stabbed at her through the darkness, "And I will be right, the Hobbs will give up their hiding places and search the horses for loot."
"How many are there."
"Five or six, I cannot be certain," Bahl replied factly.

"What will you do,"

"Dispatch them.  Have you a weapon?"

Falina ignored the question, "Dispatch them?  Five or six you say?"

"Quietly.. Do you have a weapon?" Bahl iterated.
"Do i have a weapon? Of course I don't have a weapon, why would i need a weapon, i've never a use for a bloody weapon," rambled Falina in a hoarse whisper.
"For the love of the Graces, keep your bloody voice down!"
"But I am not using my voice," hissed Falina.

Bahl began to count.  His Night-Eyes spied two of the hobgoblins fleeting in and out of the trees near their horses.  The horses, for their part remained perfectly still. Midnight, Bahl's black stallion, pushed himself closer to Falina's unnamed Mare.

He pulled a dagger from its sheath and gave it to her.  "Should one come upon you, stab at it like your life depends upon it," he thrusted it into her cold hands, "Because it probably will depend upon it,"

With that, and hardly a sound, the rogue was away, slipping into the darkness like smoke.

"But..." she was about to protest, but her eyes stared only at the sharp of the blade, and how it glittered in the dull moonlight as she shivered.

A sharp gutteral sound came from the road, and she saw two short creatures approach the horses.  Their faces were ugly, twisted visages, pressed in as if hit too many time with a heavy brick.  Their teeth were jagged and jutting, with squinting dark eyes.  They waddled more than walked, and were clothed in leather armor, with their necks trophied with teeth, bones and other things which Falina had no want to know.

Narry a creature stired among the trees; no birds flew over head, no rabbits forraged for acorns - it was all but silent, save the pitter-patter of naked hobb-feet on the cobble-and-dirty road.

The first of the two pulled at her travel pack and spilled its contents upon the road.

"Hey..." she caught herself whispering, and stopped herself from giving away her position.  IT rifled through her personals, tossing away one undergarment for another, and threw away her powder case, which insensed her terribly; The rosey cheek-powder was not cheap!!

A loud crack came from the other side of the road, and Falina's heart pounded so hard within her chest, it was painful.  The two Hobbs, now on the road, pulled short bladed swords from their back-packs and seemed poised at the ready for an attack.  None came.  Only silence rented the air.  With short looks at each other, the two creatures drooled and grunted, re-sheathed their swords, and resumed to ran-sacking their goods.

As the second Hobb attempted to reach Bahl's travel pouch, the black stallion pranced backwards and tried to knock the irritant over.  Midnight got a whack from a gauntleted glove for his troubles, and the hobb pulled upon the stirups to pull itself up and opened the pack, spilling scrolls, books, a pipe, a dagger, which it quickly pocketed, and a burlap bag of rations, which it tore open and started to eat.

The other Hobb, not to be outdone, pushed its companion away, and took a mit full of rations and chewed, only to spit it out with disdain and disgust.  It spoke something and returned to her undergarments and privates.  The humiliation of sittng in the shadows and watching these vile creatures invade her privacy was almost more than she could take.

Another loud crack came from across the road, this time, the Hobbs, unsheathed their swords, and raise an alarm by barking out something, to Falina, was incoherant. 

Another crack, a scream, and then another. 

With the sounds came a smell. 
"Gods," she said, plugging her nose - and that is when the pain struck... She fell face first into the dirt, and felt cold scaling hands pull at her cloak.  Turning over, with a groan, she saw a wide maw of teeth hanging over her, its breath constricting her throat in a violent gag.

The hobb met her gaze, and with wide eyes and made to swing its staff at her again.  But with urgency and dexterity born out of adrenaline, she shimmied aside avoiding the blow, and wildly kicked at the Hobgoblin with her eyes squeezed shut as tightly as possible... When she heard the cry of pain and frustration from her foe, she searched frantically for Bahl's dagger - it was there somewhere.. but where.  it was RIGHT IN HER HAND, DAMN IT..

She propped on all fours, her eyes wildly searching the forest floor, and her hand felt the sting, as the blade cut into right-index finger.  She ignore the blood, squeezed her hand around the hilt and with a great shout, launched herself at the hobb before it could awkwardly stand.  She flailed her fist at the creature and it did all it could to push her away.  She struck at the Hobb .. once, maybe twice times before it managed to kick her away, and get on its feet, facing her, swinging its staff at her. 

Her heart pounded in her ears.  Smells were sharper. Everything about her seemed to move more slowly. Even the dull blur of the tiefling's form, slipping in and out of shadow, dispatching the two Hobbs on the road seemed to move at a fraction of worldly pace. 

Her enemy attacked, like a rabid dog fixed upon a piece of meat, running at her with its staff upraised.  She backed away, wide-eyed, keeping her body out of range of the swinging lumber, and due to roots or loose stone, she fell backwards and upended herself.  Only this time, she held fast to Bahl's dagger and rushed to her knees.  With a primal cry, she launched herself at the Hobb, burying the knife into its bulbous chest.

Black blood spilled over her hands, as the creature fell back.  She fell forward ontop of it, and she straddled the Hobb with the blade poised overhead.  Her eyes mean and wild, she jabbed the blade down.  Over and over again, she lifted and burried the knife into Hobb flesh.  Her breaths were ragged, and savage grunts issued from her throat.  Sweat slapped off of matted locks, and her eyes widen as her teeth barred at her dead enemy.

As the blade came down for the up-teenth time, two hands halted their decent, and she now turned her attack on her new opponent.  In a blind rage, she threw herself off of the hobb and into Bahl, and he quickly twisted her arm into an impossible position, and flipped her upon her back.

"IT's over, Falina!" he said.. but the words were mere echoes behind the booming sounds of her heart in her chest and blood coursing through every vein in her body.

"IT IS OVER!" he yelled, and with that, a sudden cold rush flooded over Falina.  Bahl hung over her, restraining her arms at either side.  "It's over.  They're all dead," his face smiled.

Yet she felt little mirth.  As the adrenaline ran its course, she shivered in a cold sweat and cried.  Oh, not just a weeping cry.  She emited a cry the likes of which she never thought could ever come out of her. 

Bahl pulled her up as she shook on wobbling legs and he let her wail in the darkness. 

Together, amid the steaming corpses of hobgoblin raiders, Falina El'Cairn held Bahl and released a lifetime of sorrow in one horrible cry!


The End

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