Janne stepped back as three goblins burst out of the foliage in front of the Archbishop. Their dark green skin glistened in the campfire’s blaze as they brandished deformed branches and staves. The wood from their weapons wrapped around their hands, covering their arms and torso to form a crude armor.
Valgard spat on the ground in disgust. “Wood goblins. Useless.”
“Is calling us useless, yes?” one of the goblins howled as it tore a white-fletched arrow out of its shoulder. “Is dead, yes? Is going to have its tongue shoved down its throat, yes?” The trio howled in unison and charged at the Archbishop.
Valgard lifted his sword over his head; the flames Janne had seen before flickered again to life. The first goblin saw the blade and stopped, but the other two charged blindly ahead. Roaring with rage, Valgard brought the blade down to his right, splitting one goblin’s skull clean in half down to the neck. His friend swung a gnarled club at Valgard’s extended arm, but the Archbishop pivoted back on his heel and the club whiffed uselessly through the air. With a snarl Valgard gripped his sword in both hands and tore it free of his first opponent. The dead goblin tumbled to the ground, the evening air filling with the acrid stench of burnt flesh.
“You have no right to approach me,” Valgard growled as he brought the sword around in a brilliant fiery arc. The flat of the blade smacked hard against the goblin’s staff; with a crackling pop it burst into flame. The goblin shrieked and ran off, but its dry armor quickly erupted into flame and it crumpled in pain ten steps away. The remaining goblin put a misshapen hand against its wounded shoulder and bared its ragged teeth at the black-clad swordsman.
“Is wielding its steel against us, yes?” the goblin hissed. “Is spreading its lies, yes?”
“No lies, you wretched forsaken beast,” Valgard replied with undisguised disgust. “I will butcher you and leave you to rot in the dirt.”
A crunching in the grass behind Janne caused her to turn around. Up until now she’d completely forgotten about Asgeir, but he was fighting off two wood goblins of his own. His knife flashed in the firelight as he dipped back and forth. His opponents swore unpronounceable oaths as their clubs bounced off the ground and their blood oozed forth from a countless number of shallow cuts. One overextended his reach to try and crush the nimble page; stepping off to the side, Asgeir leaned forward and drove his knife deep into the goblin’s unguarded side. Ducking and rolling away, Asgeir drew a second knife from his boot and threw it hard. The thin blade landed in the back of the goblin’s neck with a meaty thunk. It wobbled in place for a moment before flopping onto the ground. Its partner sneered at Asgeir as it brandished its thick staff.
“Is without its toys, yes?” the goblin taunted as it charged Asgeir. “Is going to bleed, yes?”
Asgeir twisted up and around, drawing a third knife from a hidden scabbard and striking the goblin hard across its cheek. Its blood splattered on Asgeir’s dirt-covered leathers as it clutched at its face, screaming. “Someone’s going to bleed, little goblin,” he quipped with a self-satisfied smirk.
A hard hand grasping Janne’s shoulder shocked her back into full awareness. She started to scream, but the hand pulled her backwards and smashed her hard against the ground, knocking the breath of her lungs. A shriveled grey face leaned over her, putrid drool running off its scarred chin and across Janne’s face. “Is not paying attention, yes?” the goblin whispered, lifting a gauntlet-covered fist up over her head. “Is going to taste good when I beat it dead, yes?”