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The Fireside Tales - Chapter Fifty-Eight
Chapter Fifty-Eight: The Black Arrows

"It is black for a reason. When we are called in, the target will never see what hit them. We are the night. We are the shadows. We are Death."

Shayliss heard footsteps coming closer as she coiled her grappling hook back into its loop. There were stains on its claws but otherwise it was undamaged. Those enhancements she had the mage weave into the rope were working flawlessly. Not even a loose strand poked out of the braid.

"I demand to know who you three are. And why you have a goblin with you." Barked a very gruff male voice.

Calmly, still holding her loop, Shayliss looked up toward the speaker. He was a bulky man with a broad chest and wide limbs made of pure muscle. That muscle was covered with leather armor dyed as dark as the night. It was easy to imagine his dark tan hands breaking her bones without any issue and those images threatened to make her sweat. One brown eye was covered with an eyepatch which wrapped around his head with two strips of leather. On his back was a bow and in his hand pointed at her neck was a dirty and poorly cared for longsword.

Behind him, aiming an old battleaxe and hatchet at Bubnug, was a dark skinned man that had a nearly identical build. Chainmail poked out of leather straps as well as a massive green cloak. A black beard covered his chin but no hair was on his head. Even though he looked exhausted, he held an obviously confident battle stance that would take Bubnug's head off at one twitch.

Every bone in Shayliss's body wanted her to be defiant and snark off. Yet, this was obviously not the time to do so. These men were trained well. They knew what they were doing.

Then she noticed something flash on the chest of the eyepatched man in front of her. It was a metal emblem. A very familiar one at that.

"You are of the Black Arrows." Shayliss gasps.

"That obvious, girl?" The man replied, "You are an observant one."

She gritted her teeth, "We are here looking for-"

"You." Lotho interjected, "The Lord-Mayor of Magnimar sent us to figure out what happened out here."

Pure fury rose in Shayliss but the eyepatched man turned to face Lotho, "What happened?" His tone was a snarl, "Ogres happened, that's what." He turned back to Shayliss, "But that does not answer my goddamned question."

The urge to make sarcastic comments returned in a fierce wave, but Shayliss decided to try once more at diplomacy, "Three of us are Heroes of Sandpoint. The fourth is a citizen of Sandpoint."

The man's eyebrows rose, "The Heroes?" He turned to look at the three heroes, "I had heard some strange rumors about a goblin among humankind. I thought it was all an elaborate farce."

Bubnug's inhuman mouth suddenly curled up, "No. Look up."

Both of the men looked at each other then glanced up swiftly at the trees. Shayliss followed suit and her mouth nearly hit the ground.

Goblins. Dozens of goblins, all wearing the seal of the Firelord, pointed nocked bows downward from their perches. At an instant, they could have pincushioned both men. Some even pointed off near the edge of the clearing and it took Shayliss a few seconds to realize that they were aiming at a third man who had snuck into the treeline.

All three men, including the one at the treeline, froze in place. The thoughts Shayliss just had quickly race across their eyes and the sudden tension was palpable. Muscles flexed from both sides and clinks of metal sounded. Shayliss could even feel the water under her feet start to move.

"Before we all try to kill each other," Shayliss rushed to say, "I would like to add that we are trying to help you reclaim the fort."

All eyes turned on her in an instant.

"You think we want the help of a band of goblins and those who seem to conspire with them?" The eyepatched man asked.

"You do if you want that fort back." Shayliss replies with a small smile, "We have a lot more than just who is here. Not only that, but I know that one ally of ours is already in there fighting."

A skeptical eyebrow crawled up, "Oh?"

Shayliss nodded, "Yes. I know she is because she was one of you."


Do you have any comments, questions or concerns? Please leave a comment or email me at sean.francis@rivalcastmedia.com!

Also, you can follow me on Twitter for updates on The Fireside Tales, or just random statements I may make: @Miggnor23.

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Next Chapter Coming On April 14th!
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