Hillock high. I’m looking down at death gathered below. A swarm of angry goblins with bared teeth and blades. The smell of past bloody deeds fills my nostrils. The carrion of their past victims. I am alone with only the Grandfather’s spear and my simple shield to guard my skin. The sun is high and the heat burnt away my armor days ago. So close.

I can see the city in the distance, but it is more of a mirage to the madness that has been trying to conquer my mind. It’s high towers of steam stacks jut up from the ragged coast like a fearsome beast of Rielun’s ancient past. Its massive iron-wrought walls loom in the distance — protecting the steam metropolis’s populace from the wilds of Malecade. Green fields of safe haven, beyond those massive wallmounts, beckon me to run from the hillock.

I cannot.

The swarm encircling the mound would tear me to pieces if I ran. I must make my stand here. The goblins shout in their guttural tongue while banging bronze swords on wooden shields. They are protected more by their smell than their tattered garments. While they are weak when fought alone, they are deadly when gathered together.

I steel myself for the onslaught that is come at any moment. I know that they know my spear is considered a legend and that my history are now tales of victory. I bellow at them, in challenge. My voice rises into the air, primal — half human, half orc. Child of the Grandfather’s People of the wildlands. My blood is strong and filled with the spirits if my ancestors. If I am to die today, I will make it a tale to be told for generations to come.

The goblins finally come at me, hesitantly. They know my legend. They fear my strength. Yet they come with nashing teeth and putrid blades. They swarm at me. First only a dozen. Then two dozen. The hillock becomes a charnel of bodies. the piled dead becomes my shield wall. The goblins come to the last, mad with bloodlust.

Sunset. There are no more standing against me. I am bruised and bloodied. My face is wracked and my body aches. After the last of the horde fell, I stand there unable to move or speak. Hours pass. Fatigue tears me to my knees. I pray to the High Spirit of Honor and to my Grandfather. His spear lies next to me, shining. My legend will grow even if I tell know one what transpired. My ancestors will whisper to the oracles.

I stare out into the wilds of Malecade toward the distant coast where Da’aphet stands in all its glory. I will see it for myself soon enough.

After safety and sleep are found.