Shenon curiously crept toward the window and gazed out of it. She surveyed the stillness of night, but no one or thing stirred, except maybe the fluffy snowflakes dancing merrily upon the whistling wind. Then there came the frightening rapping upon a window on the opposite side of the room. It was abrupt and brief like urgent knocking, then it ceased entirely. Her heart rose to the back of her mouth momentarily, or so it seemed, and she blanched.
Her expression mellowed once she became levelheaded, and she now bore the semblance of one keen to trickery. “Ah,” Shenon thought, “it must be Grom, or Bornen . . . or both! They’re trying to scare me! Well, we’ll see who gets the last laugh.”
She snickered quietly as she carefully doused the flames of the fireplace, and soon the light from within the cottage was extinguished. Shenon locked the front door, sidled along one of the walls, and followed an obscured individual lurking outside. As it peeped through the frost-tinted glass, the dwarf maiden bounded from her hiding place on the obverse side triumphantly shouting, “A-ha!” Then she screamed and toppled backward.
There were shattering sounds and scattering glass shards that were accompanied by hideous cackling. It was neither Grom nor Bornen trudging around outside, (as we are well aware), but the ugly faces of goblins. Their lanky limbs groped about as they began to worm their way into the home through the broken windows. Yellow eyes, crooked and menacing, flickered like fireflies in the night.
Shenon immediately sprang to her feet, watching on with a mounting sense of ghastly horror. She stumbled as she sprinted for Bornen’s bedroom, but almost fell over a second time when she ran into something . . . something bony, and jeering.
It gibbered something incomprehensible, but she could have sworn it resembled that funny fashion in which human tones inflect. Shenon made no effort to understand, (she already knew darn well the thing wasn’t asking for a cup of sugar or tea, all neighborly like), then with desperate initiative she kicked back a leg. A second later it launched forward like a catapult; the goblin shrieked, dropped onto the floor groaning, and curled into the fetal position with its hands tucked between its legs.
She leapt over it and headed for the hallway, threw open the bedroom door, then darted for Bornen’s closet as she stubbed a toe in the darkness. When she entered the closet painfully hopping around on one foot, a figure dropped from the ceiling and landed upon her. Shenon tussled with it for a few moments, then realized it was nothing more than the elderly dwarf’s old practice dummy, dangling from a rope. Becoming compellingly impatient and frantically nerve wracked, she tossed it to one side as feverishly patted around for-