The children knew when danger was coming. They could feel it under their feet. It was a particular tickle, and each of the little ones knew to scatter, all except his little sister, Anxia. Grimith sighed under his breath. Some days, everything about her that he found endearing also seemed determined to lead to her early death. Grimith could now feel the vibrations of the alarm drums shift from the frenzied beat that demanded awareness to the steady rhythm for readiness.
He scooped his little sister up in his arms, and her carved bone snake toy fell to the ground as he whisked her into a nearby flap that disguised a hidey hole. She gave out a little yelp of surprise, and Grimith placed a clawed finger lightly against her lips, the sign for stillness. Her big dark eyes looked up at him, then back toward the entrance to the hidey hole. Grimith knew that she was thinking of Snakey. She almost never let it leave her side since he had carved it for her out of knucklebones and given it to her for the Winter Daemmerung. She gave out a little whimper, and Grimith took a deep breath, preparing to sneak out and snatch it back for her. He was one of the quickest of the Bruderkin, and only a few of his brothers could even hear him coming if he decided stealth was better than speed. He leaned down low near the flap in the floor, and took in a few quick sniffs. The comforting smells of the cave were there, the clean smell of dirt, and the familiar scents of his brothers and sisters. But a sharp tang of oil cut right through the familiar smells, and it carried the sticky-sweet musky stench that could only mean one thing: surface dwellers.
Borin Flintbelt ducked into a side passage, trusty axe at the ready for ambush. It opened into a low cavern, obviously a goblin lair from the litter and detritus scattered across the floor. Borin huffed. The rank musk of goblins filled the air. He took a moment to let his eyes adjust to the gloom, and began to pick out more details. He took a slow step into the chamber, unafraid but cautious. He trusted his dwarven mail to turn aside anything but the worst of goblin treachery, and his long years had seen too much of that. The room seemed deserted, a simple sleeping chamber perhaps, with no egress. But goblins were clever things, and sometimes made use of small cracks to move from place to place. As Borin searched, a set of strange, stark white vertebrae caught his eye. Ever the taxonomist, Borin paused and leaned over for a closer look, reaching out with the pommel at the base of his battleaxe. He cleared a space around the specimen and took a closer look.
As he bent down, he thought he heard something like a low whimper. Borin glanced around, but seeing nothing he turned his attention back to the strange bit of skeleton on the floor. At that moment, there was a call from the human Akim, the soft-spoken but resourceful ranger. Since there was no call to arms, Borin assumed the humans must have found a tripwire or something that demanded Borin’s experienced eye. Well, at least they didn’t go blundering into it this time. He took a moment to give the vertebrae a closer look. No reason to let haste waste an opportunity. To his surprise, he realized that it was a rather cleverly carved set of knucklebones from something the size of a pig. Each bone had been drilled and tied with sinew. Borin’s eyebrows narrowed. Such fine drilling must have taken skill and patience. Borin reached out to collect the specimen when Akim’s voice cut through the cave. “Darrion, you fool! Leave that alone!”
Borin sighed. That muscle-bound human Darrion was good in a fight, but his head was puffed with an overestimation of his skills. Borin thought it best to intervene before the big man did something rash. He turned back toward the main cavern. Torchlight flashed across the entrance, and Borin quickly looked back behind him to preserve his darksight and froze in surprise.
The smallest goblin hand he had ever seen hovered right above the bone carving, and a set of large, dark eyes were looking straight at him. Borin stayed still. In all his years, across many campaigns, he had never seen a goblin child. Let alone a girl child.
Grimith cursed. How had Anxia slipped past him? Now she was caught in full sight of the longbeard, and there was nothing left to do but be quicker than he had ever been before. He pushed off the wall, and ran to grab his sister.
Borin considered for a moment. He was sure the child was a girl, there was a certain quality, a softness to its eyes. There was something about the girl and the carving that reminded Borin of his own sister and her favorite wheat chain bracelet from days long, long ago. He felt … conflicted.
Behind him, Akim cried out a sharp curse, and a rumble and fresh dust filled the cavern. Out of a puff of dust, another small figure darted out, gathering up the girl child and the toy. There was just enough time for Borin to lock eyes and catch a look of determination with the youth who was protecting his … sister? Borin stared at the two of them for a moment, then gave a small nod of his head, and turned to see what disaster Darrion had caused this time with his rash fiddling with things that were beyond his understanding.
About the Creator
You have potential. Keep practicing and don’t give up!
Original narrative & well developed characters