Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

Post by Wraithwriter »

What defines the worth of the soul? Is it the strength of ones arm or the quality of ones mind as some believe? Or is it ones deeds written and sung through the ages? Are those who are never awarded honors or accolades any less deserving?

Our story begins with blood spilled under the vast Mwangi Jungle. The carnage was justified as the victims were barbaric tribe of demon worshipping monkey goblins who'd the night before raided a logging camp. However, the counter attack that began as a rescue mission to save those abducted turned into little more than bloodlust and vengeance as the captive had already filled the hideous beasts bellies.

As the victors gathered what was left of their mutilated friends an old scarred warrior woman walked sadly amongst the macabre scene. The woman had seen much the same in her long years as a mercenary serving whom ever offered more coin. When she'd taken this job she'd hoped to never see such sights again, but alas such was not her fate. Giving it all one last look she shook her head in disgust for the wanton devastation brought on by these 'peaceful' loggers, she turned to head back to camp. It was a sharp tug on her left temple braid that changed her mind.

Whipping her head around she came face to face with a spectral crow. It sat on her shoulder staring her in the eyes, her braid still caught in its beak. Opening its beak, the crow dropped the braid and cawed loudly before leaping from her shoulder. Spreading its wings the apparition flew off toward a circle of loggers who stood laughing amongst the goblin bodies.

Bewildered as to why Grandmother Crow would send a messenger to her, the woman followed. Arriving on the perimeter of the crowd, the woman became aware of screeches of pain and fury mixed with the laughter. Shouldering her way to the front she beheld the source of pained screeches.

Tethered to a stake was a monkey goblin child who jerked furiously at its restraints in an attempt to reach its tortures. Whenever the child would pull one way a bystander on the other side would lash it with a knotted rope. After seeing this cruelty repeated several time while the circled loggers laughed, the took matters into her own scarred and experienced hands.

Kicking out with her left foot, she took out the knee of the nearest perpetuator. Then with practiced ease she grabbed the now crippled logger and threw him into two others knocking them flat. It was only the sound of a rope slicing through air that warned of a coming attack but she managed to dodge at the last moment.

Recovering quickly she spun bringing her fist around to connect with the rope wielder's jaw. Something then hit her in the back but a quick back kick ended that threat. All of this had brought her to the center of the crowd and with hard won finesse drew her sword cutting the tether.

"Thus far I've taken it easy on you, now stop this," she delivered in a menacing growl while brandishing her sword. Behind her the goblin child collapsed from exhaustion.

"What is the meaning of this!" Demanded a female logger. "Why do you defend this putrid monster?"

"Monster you call this child," returned the woman. "No more than you are apparently, or is tormenting a helpless creature now an act of valor?"

"Listen here you scum!" Spat another logger who was bigger and taller than the rest. "I'm going to kill you for-" His tirade was brought short by a club connecting with the back of his head.

"Is there a problem Helga?" Asked a burly dwarf in wickedly spiked armor.

"Just having a pointed discussion with these fine folks," came Helga's reply, her piercing gaze never leaving the crowd of furious loggers before her.

"I gathered that," the dwarf swept his gaze over the loggers. "But I think our employer would take it amiss if you cripple or maim any more of his workforce."

"Are you just going to let her get away with this," cried the female logger who'd spoken before as she got into the dwarf's face.

Without batting an eye the dwarf punched the woman in the gut with an unspiked fist then push her to the ground. "Anyone else?" The dwarf's brutal efficiency and icy stare caused the gathered loggers to disperse.

After all the loggers were gone the dwarf address Helga as she sheathed her blade. "Why?"

"Grandmother Crow called," Helga answered with a shrug of her shoulders.

At this the dwarf hocked and spat. "That is what I think of divine intervention. A mercenary has no business mixing with that ilk, brings only death your way."

"Fine," Helga looked down at that now sleeping monkey goblin child, "call it a motherly reaction. Beside, torture is not the act of decent goodly folk."

Sighing the dwarf shook his head. "What am I going to do with you now?"

"You and I both know I can no longer remain here Grunyar."

"That is true." Grunyar looked down at the gobliniod child, "You should return to Andoran with the next relief ship, and you might as well take your new pet."

Hanging her head Helga nodded at the tact dismissal. "I would have to agree with you."

For three days Helga isolated herself in the mercenary camp. During those three days she fought an endless battle to civilize the her new charge. By the time the relief ship arrived she'd made no progress on her task and had began to think this was her punishment for abandoning her acolyte training for the life of a soldier.

On the ship things only became worse as the child would purposely untied anchored ropes or spill buckets of tar over the deck. At times it would swing from the rigging torturing the sailors as they loosened or furled the sails. The last draw came when the little goblin over turned a lit lantern that spread fire across the deck. Once the sand teams doused the flames Helga locked herself in a hold with her charge.

As she became the sole victim of the child's wicked pranks, Helga reflected the choices of her youth. With the monkey goblin pulling on her temple braid she recalled the battle obsessed girl she'd been while training at the Temple of the Winter Rose. With tears in her eyes for the lost wonders of that peaceful time she began to sing a song learned all those years before.

Half way through the song She came aware that the little goblin had calmed and listened as she sang. When the song ended a little clawed hand patting her leg and a grunt that she understood as a request moved her to sing another. Thus it was the the child fell asleep curled up in her lap as she sang the songs of her youth.

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