Saturday, March 16, 2013

Prompt: River Gnome Rangers waiting to ambush a goblin patrol

Thanks to Wanderings In The Fantastic World
for the beautiful image and fun prompt!

One of the young rangers shifted restlessly, and Boolkin glared at him. Goblins sensed the faintest vibrations of movement through the ground, and the rangers couldn’t count on the river to mask them completely. The young one looked contrite, pulling off his cap and lowering his head in apology. Boolkin signed, “It’s done. Keep alert”, and one by one his new recruits gave a quick confirmation. Though the youngest, Boolkin’s nephew Lompus, signed “Fire in the well,” but Boolkin assumed he meant something along the lines of “Yes, sir, ready,” like the others had signed. He sighed.

These recruits were barely out of children’s leggings, not a one over a hundred years old. They had no business bearing arms. But these were desperate times. The Goblin-Troll alliance was crippling trade throughout Maralta, and the River Gnomes were caught in the middle, literally. Trapped between the goblins in the mountains and the trolls on the plains, they could no longer move freely throughout the land to trade their wares as they had for generations.

Boolkin shook his head. Who would have thought goblins and trolls would ever stand close enough to talk without fighting for long enough to negotiate such an unholy alliance? And all the Folk were suffering. Neither goblins nor trolls would accept negotiations. They seemed intent on destroying all the other Folk in Maralta.

The Gnome King himself had charged Boolkin with training the recruits, and just a fortnight ago had charged them all with capturing the Goblin Prince, returning from meeting the trolls on the plains. There was no way to the mountains without crossing the broad river valley, and Boolkin’s network of spies had found their route, high in the north, where there were dozens of fords, none deeper than a goblin’s shoulders.

Deep enough, though, for the River Gnomes to stage an attack. The fords were connected by rushing waterfalls, and many hid caves, some the barest impression, some large enough for the dozen recruits under Boolkin’s command. Here they waited, with the rushing water to mask the small sounds of their movements, until the goblins were at their most vulnerable – in the water. They couldn’t swim, so Boolkin had focused his training with the recruits on knocking the goblins off their feet and keeping them underwater until they drowned. He would tackle the Prince himself.

The King had spoken to Boolkin privately, warning him that his death debt could not be claimed at this time. His words rang in Boolkin’s ears. “I know you’re eager to collect your brother’s death debt. But Boolkin, you cannot. I must count on you to control your bloodlust and bring the Prince to me. With him, perhaps we can finally open a negotiation with the goblins. Kill him, and they will destroy us all.”

Boolkin had knelt before his king, his friend of over three hundred years, his comrade in more battles and adventures than he could count. The king laid his hand on Boolkin’s head. “Time enough, my old friend. Time enough to settle your debt and others. But not today.” Boolkin had nodded as salty tears dripped down his face and dripped onto the mossy floor. The river gnomes saw no shame in tears—all water was Maralta’s precious gift.

He shook his head. He couldn’t think about the cost. Sacrifice. He couldn’t wonder which of these young lads wouldn’t be coming home with them. Who would be wrapped in sheets of moss and fern and floated down the river into Maralta’s sweet embrace.

The dust shivered around his heavy boots. He snapped his eyes to the ground and watched closely. Again. And again. He looked up to find the recruits watching him with wide eyes in pale faces.

“This is it, boys. Remember your training! Let’s go get those goblins! Freedom for the River Gnomes! Freedom for Maralta!”

Dogs in house:

Time writing:
30 minutes

March word count:


  1. Prompt: River Gnome Rangers waiting to ambush a goblin patrol

    The sound of the waterfall drowned out most of the other forest sounds. Creb squinted at Captain Graynar squatting behind the boulder ahead, and wondered if the oldster was still making the best decisions. Would they even hear the goblin patrol in this noise? It would not do to have the patrol they hoped to ambush stumble upon them instead! The river gnomes were more at home by the water, and Creb's hearing was far better than a goblin's, but this waterfall was negating that advantage. The rapids just a bit farther downstream was where Creb would have chosen.

    An arrow bounced off the rock two boulders ahead of Captain Greynar--the fletching was a gnome's. Creb drew his shortsword and just in time: a goblin rushed past him toward the water. Creb stabbed low, coming under his surprised opponent's breastplate, and swung the goblin around to propel him into the water. The injured goblin dove in. Creb blinked; that was odd.

    An arrow whizzed past--gnome fletching again. They weren't even hearing their own side's warnings, much less the goblin approach. More goblins rushed past towards the water. Creb had no more time for reflection as he engaged two more of the enemy. One goblin returned his strikes, but the second barely stayed for a parry before diving for the water. Three more goblins ran past the fighting pair and splashed in of their own accord.

    Creb finished the one fighting goblin with a blade to his throat. He stood alone on the rocky riverside with the body, watching with unbelieving eyes as the last half-dozen goblins leapt into the river above the waterfall. Where was Captain Graynar?

    Writing time: 30 minutes, restless sleeper

  2. Very nice! I'd love to read more! Nice detail on the gear and the action. I was a little confused about the injured goblin diving in the water, but it made more sense when the others did - that is, there was a context there. Nice ending. Where is the captain, indeed? Enquiring minds want to read more!