Day 8

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We slept undisturbed.

And I found that to be most frightening.

At dawn, we broke camp. We counted 49 uninjured, 76 injured but mobile, and 13 stretcher cases. We’d had 18 die in the night.

We made a funeral pyre and laid the bodies of the dead upon it. The spare weapons and ammunition we loaded onto a wagon, and the artillerymen, with help, dragged their guns along.

I ranged ahead of the column with a pair of men in their late forties. They’d been hunters prior to the troll attack on the coast, and they knew the lay of the land. Once we left the relative safety of the city, we pressed on, sending out flankers to either side and passing through abandoned positions.

We found remnants of the dead but little else.

Whatever was eating the soldiers wasn’t leaving much behind.

Soon, we stopped and held a conference. We’d not seen any sign of trolls or other creatures, but there was plenty of sign of shod boots.

We agreed to move on in silence, rifles at the ready. The hammer hung on a long sling around my shoulder to my waist, where the head thumped rhythmically against my thigh. The dull thud of metal on flesh reminded me of the war drums of Abenaki and Iroquois, Huron and Mohawks, and it made me smile.

Those were men who knew how to fight.

My reminiscing stopped when we caught sight of men a short distance away. They watched without greeting as we came to a stop.

Something was wrong.

Then the wind shifted, and we smelled it.

Skratti.

Skratti clad in stolen uniforms.

The question as to whether they could use the rifles they’d taken was answered a heartbeat later went they sent a volley toward us.

We were fortunate that they were bad shots.

We were fortunate that we were not.

The hunters and I settled in behind cover, loosened our arms and took our time. We called out our targets and killed those Skratti who seemed most proficient with their rifles.

It didn’t take long for the others to run.

Several more died with bullets in their backs.

When the last of them slipped away, I sent the hunters back to bring the column up and to make keep an eye out for an ambush.

As I waited, I thought hard about goblins dressed as men.

#Denmark #supernatural #monsters #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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