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A Guard's Glimpse into Grukmar
A Guard's Glimpse into Grukmar
April 02, 2024
3 min

The Quiet Village

Varian leaned against the watchtower’s rough post, eyes scanning the village below. It sat in the shadow of the Grukmar forest, thatched huts clustered together as if for safety. Mist drifted through the muddy paths and curled around the thin pines at the wood’s edge.

Beside him, Elric moved and the planks creaked under his boots. The watch fire’s restless light played across his face, showing the lines of weariness. He looked tired, like a bowstring worn from too much use.

“Does it seem too quiet to you?” Elric rubbed his hands over the small fire, fingers stiff with cold.

“It’s always quiet.” Varian stared out at the wall of dark trunks. “That’s the problem with this posting. Nothing ever happens.”

“I’d rather have boredom than fear.”

“You sound like my sister. She cried for a week when I got drafted.”

“There are worse places to be stationed than a Lumean frontier village. I hear in Frostgard they’re fighting the giant hordes in the mountain passes.”

Anything’s better than guarding farmers from make-believe monsters.”

Tales of Goblins

Elric leaned forward, eyes shining. “Who says they’re make-believe? You’ve heard the same stories I have.”

Varian snorted. Bedtime stories to scare children into staying indoors at night.”

“Then why won’t the outpost commander let us patrol past the forest? What’s he scared we’ll find?”

“His own shadow, probably.”

“Laugh all you want.” Elric’s voice dropped low. “But my uncle fought in the Grukmar campaigns. He told me things. Things the Empire doesn’t want us to know.”

Varian raised an eyebrow. “Like what?”

Elric glanced over his shoulder before continuing in a hushed tone. “The Grukmari worship evil gods. They kill captives and drink their blood to get unnatural strength.”

“Now you’re just trying to scare me.”

“Ever wonder why the Empire pulled back and left this whole region empty? They’d rather let the savages have it than risk waking something old and bad in those woods.”

Varian picked up a stick and poked the coals. Sparks swirled up into the cold air. He thought of the stories he’d heard as a child. Fireside tales of bloody altars and chattering things that hunted careless travelers by moonlight. Silly superstitions to entertain simple villagers. And yet…

He shook himself, angry at his own dark thoughts. Elric was watching him closely.

“You’ve let this backwater posting mess with your head.” Varian threw the stick into the fire. “There’s nothing out there but trees and squirrels.”

A Scream in the Night

Elric started to argue but stopped suddenly as a loud scream echoed from the village below. They looked at each other in surprise.

“That came from the square!”

They grabbed their spears and clattered down the shaky tower steps, armor plates clanking. The village was still and dark, windows shuttered, wisps of smoke rising from the chimneys. The scream had stopped as suddenly as it started.

“There!” Elric pointed.

A figure stumbled out from between two huts and staggered into the open, arms waving. It was a girl, maybe twelve or thirteen, her plain dress torn and dirty.

Varian and Elric ran across the square and crouched beside her.

“What happened? Are you hurt?”

The girl lifted a tear-stained face, eyes wide with fear. She opened her mouth but no sound came out. She grabbed at Varian’s arm with frantic strength.

“You’re safe now,” he said awkwardly. “Let’s get you home.”

He started to help her to her feet but she clung to him, refusing to move. She stared fixedly at the narrow alley from which she’d come, shaking like a leaf.

Elric exchanged a worried glance with Varian. Slowly, they turned to peer into the shadows that crowded close between the leaning walls. Wind sighed through gaps in the thatch. Pools of darkness gathered in recessed doorways. Anything could be hiding there, watching.


The girl whimpered. Varian’s hand tightened on his spear. The night seemed to press in around them, full of vague threat. He remembered Elric’s words and held back a shiver. Trees and squirrels. Then why did the hairs stand up on the back of his neck?


#goblins#skirmish shadows


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Secrets and Shadows


The Unrelenting Protector

Table Of Contents

The Quiet Village
Tales of Goblins
A Scream in the Night

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