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The Quest for Goblin Tracks Beyond Grukmar's Border
The Quest for Goblin Tracks Beyond Grukmar's Border
April 04, 2024
4 min

Grim Reporting

The captain’s quarters squatted at the heart of the outpost, a weathered timber box hunched against the palisade wall. Varian rapped once on the splintered door, Elric fidgeting at his shoulder, and entered.

Aldric stood behind a battered desk, its surface scarred and stained, littered with maps and dispatches. Two more guards, Tormund and Brynn, slouched against the far wall. They straightened as Varian and Elric entered.

Varian saluted, fist to chest. “Report from the morning patrol, sir.”

Aldric grunted, not looking up from the map spread before him. “Well?”

“More goblin sign. Fresh this time, within a league of the border.”

That got the captain’s attention. His head snapped up, eyes flinty beneath grizzled brows. “Show me.”

Elric stepped forward, unrolling a crumpled parchment. It was a rough sketch of the borderlands, charcoal lines stark against the pale surface. He jabbed a finger at a spot northeast of the outpost.

“Here. Tracks, droppings, a few snapped branches. Could be a raiding party, maybe a scouting band.”

Aldric stared at the map, jaw tight. Varian watched him, gut twisting. This was what they trained for. What they feared. Goblin incursions had been little more than campfire tales for years, distant threats to frighten green recruits. Now those tales stalked from the shadows, leaving all-too-real traces in loam and leaf mould.

Measured Response from Leadership

“Double the watch.” Aldric’s voice cut through Varian’s thoughts. “I want every approach patrolled, day and night. Tormund, Brynn, pull in the men from the farthest fields. Arm every hand that can hold a spear.”

The two guards nodded, already moving for the door. Aldric turned back to Varian and Elric.

“You lads walk the northern line. Follow those tracks, but don’t range too far. I need to know numbers, direction, intent if you can guess it. But don’t take any foolish chances. We’re not hunting glory out here.”

“Yes sir.” Varian hoped his voice sounded steadier than he felt.

Aldric held his gaze a moment longer. Something flickered in those hard eyes, there and gone too quick to read. “Watch yourselves, lads. First sign of trouble, you get your hides back here. Understood?”

“Yes sir.” This from Elric, stiff as a new bowstring.

The captain nodded, already turning back to his maps. “Good. Now off with you. And may the old gods watch over us all.”

Preparation for a Deeper Scout

They gathered their gear in terse silence - oiled leathers, bows and quivers, ration packs tight with hard cheese and dried meat. Varian buckled on his sword belt, the weight familiar and reassuring at his hip.

“Hal. Leofric.” Elric beckoned to two young guards loitering by the armory. “You’re with us. Northern patrol.”

The lads straightened, faces eager over patchy stubble. Barely old enough to shave, Varian thought with a pang. But that was the way of it out here. The outpost took whatever the villages could spare, anyone who could swing a sword or draw a bow.

Varian checked his dagger, slid it home in his boot. “Let’s move.”

Venturing into the Unknown

They walked the old game trails, footfalls hushed by a carpet of leaves. The sun rose behind them, casting chill morning light through a tangle of bare branches. Mist curled between weathered trunks.

Varian watched those drifting shrouds, a growl of unease tightening his gut. Every shadow seemed to twitch with furtive movement.

“Eyes sharp, lads.” His voice was low, eaten by the mist. “They’ll lay dogboys to watch their back trail. First sign of trouble, give tongue and fall back.”

Nods and grunts, hands tight on bowstaffs and sword hilts. They walked on, senses straining. Time stretched and warped, minutes bleeding together, distance measured in each careful, silent stride.

The stories whispered in Varian’s head, dark legends birthed around late-night fires. Tales of cunning beasts who walked like men, of blood-spattered altars and glinting eyes that peered from the darkness. Children’s tales, told to frighten and enthrall. But out here, in this hushed twilight world of mist and shadow, those stories took on grim flesh.

Encounter with the Mysteries of Grukmar

Elric raised a fist. The patrol halted, crouching low. Varian eased forward, heart thumping beneath his leathers. Elric pointed, a jerk of his chin. There, gouged in the soft loam. Prints, splayed and clawed, trailing away into the mist.

Varian crouched, studying the tracks. They were fresh, the edges crisp and sharp. He touched one, fingertips coming away damp. A prickle walked up his spine, grim certainty settling in his gut.

“Goblins. No more than an hour old.”

“Could be the same band.” Elric kept his voice low. “Scouting our lines, testing our resolve.”

“Or our strength.” Leofric shifted uneasily, knuckles pale on his bow grip.

Varian shook his head. “Too few for that. This is a feint, a prod at our borders. Trying to draw us out, leave the village exposed.”

A gust sighed through the branches, setting the mist to dancing. Varian stared into those wreaths, imagining hunched shapes creeping just beyond sight, fanged grins and glinting blades.

“Back to the outpost.” Decision hardened his voice. “The captain needs to know.”

They faded into the trees, ghosts in the gathering gloom.

Uneasy Findings and Return

Dusk bled across the sky, a crimson tide drowning the sun. They walked in tense silence, watching their trail with eyes red from strain. Varian’s shirt clung to his back, the sweat of tension and grim fear.

The outpost hunched ahead, a hulking shadow against the trees. They angled toward it, steps quickening. Varian’s gaze flicked to the forest edge, back and forth. Watching. Waiting.

The guards on the palisade hailed them, voices harsh with relief and dread. They passed beneath the great spiked logs, feet thumping the packed earth.

Aldric waited in the torchlit yard. Varian and Elric made their report, tongues leaden with exhaustion and fear. The captain listened, gaze distant, seeing again those clawed prints in the loam.

Reflection and Foreshadowing

“You did well, lads.” His voice was gruff. “Get some hot food in you, then rest. I’ll want you fresh come morning.”

They mumbled thanks, trudging toward the cookfires. The smell of stew, thick with barley and salt pork, set Varian’s stomach to growling. But beneath the hunger, the fear lingered. He glanced over his shoulder, half expecting to see glowing eyes peering from the darkness beyond the palisade.

“We’re not done with this.” Elric spoke low, for Varian’s ears alone. “Those were scouts, sure as sunrise. There’ll be more out there. Biding their time.”

Varian nodded grimly.


#goblins#skirmish shadows


Previous Article
Goblin Threats at Grukmar's Edge


The Unrelenting Protector

Table Of Contents

Grim Reporting
Measured Response from Leadership
Preparation for a Deeper Scout
Venturing into the Unknown
Encounter with the Mysteries of Grukmar
Uneasy Findings and Return
Reflection and Foreshadowing

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