Day 21

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They were hard men.

The sound of gunfire caught the attention of the scouts, and they felt it significant enough to take me away from my tracking. I’d caught sign of the wyrm, and it was fresh.

But the men mattered more than the wyrm did.

Leaving the trail behind, I followed the scouts back to a small fortification. It was a hasty structure, one that had previously served as a homestead of some sort. Stones, broken artillery caissons and various other detritus of war had been heaped around the walls to help fend off the attackers.

Skratti, similar to the enemy we’d faced before, surrounded the house, but there was something different.

A goblin, no larger than a child of ten or eleven, sat atop an overturned apple barrel. He was dressed in fine clothes, the threads of which glistened in the sun. He ate an apple, and he directed the fighting.

He was smart too.

He wasn’t throwing his troops at the building, but he was keeping up a steady fire on the pair of windows and door he could see. As some of the Skratti kept shooting, others began to spread out in a slow pincer move that would wrap the house in a circle.

I had no doubt the goblin would set fire to the building then and kill all who tried to get out.

It’s what I would have done.

As he took another bite from the apple, we opened fire.

The shots ripped through his ranks, and mine took him clear in the back of the head. The slug passed through his neck, exited his mouth, and the apple exploded in his hand.

The goblin fell off the barrel, and the men in the house charged out, finishing off the surviving Skratti with bayonets and pure hate.

We joined up and stood over the bodies of our enemies, and one man with a great dark beard offered his hand.

“Wulf,” he greeted.

“Duncan,” I replied, and we shook. “How long?”

“Two days here,” Wulf answered. “Three before at the depot not four miles back. We left most of our company there.”

“Hungry?”

He flashed me a grin as feral as his name and stated, “We could eat.”

“Good.” To my men, I said, “Get some food. I’ll start the coffee.”

Wulf took a flask from his pocket. “For the coffee.”

He and I would get along just fine.

#Denmark #supernatural #monsters #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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