Chapter 1

Everyone has heard the tale of Conan the Barbarian and all he accomplished. But very few have heard the true tales of Keal Atnuff. Pay for the next round of drinks and I will tell you his tale.

Our tale starts back when the earth was very young. When the tree folk and ground folk called Elves and Dwarves still walked the land. Back when swords and spells were carried by all.

Bree At't was the 15 year old daughter of Tallor At't a human male Druid and Dalria At't a Half-Elf female Sorceress. Tallor was 6' tall and better than average build long red hair and green eyes. Dalria was petite standing only 5' 6" but very feminine with her tight athletic looking body. Her golden blonde hair was cut short to show her Elvin ear heritage and her hazel eyes would sometimes look green in the light. Bree grew up learning all about magic and the energy in all living things. Bree was slightly taller than her mother standing 5' 8" but she had the same tight athletic looking body and all the right curves a female should have. Her hair was reddish blonde and her eyes were hazel like her fathers. She was always wandering the land learning the Ranger ways, much to the dismay of her parents. She was truly happy and at peace when she was roaming through the forest.

Kai was the 17 year old son of Tor Nuff a human male Barbarian and Bella Nuff a human female Cleric. Tor stood near 7' tall with light brown hair and dark blue eyes. His fist was as big as the face of most men. His arms were the size of most men's legs and he was strong enough to pick up his own horse and carry it 25 paces. Bella was the picture of grace and beauty. She was 6' 2" and built better than most men except for the fact that you could not miss the firm breasts and very feminine shape her hips made. She had Silver blonde hair that reached her thighs, and green eyes that could stop any male in his tracks. Kai grew up learning the art of weapon smith and fighting skill from his father. From his mother he learned very important lessons that would later save his life. She taught him wisdom, patience, to always be observant, constantly aware of his surroundings and how to plan strategy. Bella also taught him the healing arts. He learned how to track animals, follow a trail, and let the land talk to him on his own. Kai stood 6' 8" and was close to matching his father in build, he was as large as or larger than any other human in the village except for his father. He had his mother's hair color but his eyes could not decide between blue and green and were constantly changing depending on the light.

Life was good at the village, everyone was healthy and happy. But things were not as they appeared, for suddenly out of the dark forest evil came forth. It was one of these attacks that made this tale possible. Had the forces known what their actions would lead to they might have changed their plan.

During a massive Goblin raid on their village Kai and Bree were both left orphans. The attack left the village destroyed, most were killed, others were taken captive and a small handful fled. Kai and Bree were among the handful to flee, they ended up in an Elvin village, married joining their surnames and a short time later Keal Atnuff was born. The Goblin War continued off and on but neither side truly committed to an all out war. Mostly one side would attack the other then retreat.

Keal grew up following Elvin customs and learned human ways from his parents. As a child Keal was constantly picked on, teased and thought of as an outsider. Since Elves age slower than humans most of the children Keal grew up with were more mature and mentally developed but physically appeared much younger. This aided in his learning to be patient, tactful, and cunning as his father had learned from his mother Bella. Kai taught Keal how to forge master weapons; when Keal was 15 years old they forged a special sword. It took two months to finish. It was a long sword with short sword blades attached to each side forming a three-bladed weapon. It looked like a square mace with blades that were a quarter of an inch thick, one and a half inches wide and three feet long the center blade just slightly longer. There was slightly more than a blade thickness between the three blades. Twisting the end of the handle near the pummel and a dagger could be pulled from within the sword handle and blade. Magic in the sword gave it life; it chose Keal and would allow no other to hold it. It also used magic to allow the outer blades to shoot off like spears. The scabbard held four extra blades for the sword two in between the center and out blades and two outside the outer blade. After launching one or both blade returning it to the scabbard would attach replacements as long as there were some in the scabbard.

As the years past Keal grew into a young man, he was quite a bit larger than his Elvin friends by more than a foot standing 6' 2" he was just as thick and muscular as his father. His hair was strangely white and his eyes were steel grey. Physically he was almost twice the body mass of his friends which slowly aided in ending the mistreatment and his honorable behavior made him even more liked.

He was out hunting with some of the older elves, when a Goblin raiding party attacked the Elvin village. His father was killed defending the village along with all the other men who were there and his mother was taken captive with the other surviving females and children. The hunting party returned as the Goblin raiding party was leaving. The elves charged in without thinking, Keal tried to stop them but was unable. He knew that they were out numbered and they would be more successful if they would wait and look for the best time to attack. The elves were slaughtered as he watched helpless to stop the killing. He let the raiding party leave, checked for survivors and gathered supplies before going after his mother and the other captives. He tracked the raiding party and carefully followed the Goblins looking for the opportunity to free his mother and the captives.

Three day later Keal heard a group of Soldiers moving up on the Goblin raiding party. 30 fighters charged the raiding party and began to fight the Goblins. He was quick to see this had been a trap and tried to warn the humans. He had seen the Hobgoblin war party that was hiding in ambush; which quickly charged and wiped out the fighters. He killed a few Goblins as he broke away from the fight there were just too many. Bree had been killed in the fighting and Keal found her body after the Goblins moved off with the remaining captives. This was more than Keal could take, after burying his mother next to his father, he gather weapons and supplies and began his quest to kill as many Goblins as he could in his lifetime.

He reported the deaths of the fighters to the nearest military post and volunteered to scout for them. After two years and more battles than could be counted the Goblins vanished deep into the wilds. The raids ended and life began to return to normal. During this time he developed a reputation for slaughtering Goblins without mercy. The rumors and tales spoke of thousands of Goblins he had killed. Keal left the military and became a mercenary working for whoever paid the bills. Several years brought lots of experience and built strong friendships.

Deke Bold just turned 30 years old and stood 5' 10" tall with dark brown hair and brown eyes. He was average build and easy to get along with. It was his attitude about life that caught Keal's attention and he was the leader of the nine man team of mercenaries Keal had accepted a job with; at the age of 25. They fought in three teams of three; using a triangle formation giving them the ability to watch each others flanks, and still actively attacking or defending a position. The mercs all carried two short swords one on each hip, and on one shoulder they carried a large melee weapon, a bow and quiver on the other shoulder. They carried daggers sheathed outside each lower leg. Their fighting skill and numerous successful missions had them highly sought after. Deke was drawn to Keal's three-bladed sword which had been given the nickname Death Sword due to the fact that it dealt so much damage with its three blades. He asked Keal to make him one several times, and Keal would always refuse with the excuse it would take far too long to make.

They were currently providing additional protection for a rich Lord's daughter. She was marrying a neighboring Baron named Zeel to solidify the two ruling families. This would eliminate an on going feud, and allow military forces to focus on local issues instead of clashing on the boarders. The local bandits and slavers did not like the idea of military intervention on their largest area of profitable supplies, and were more than willing to stop the marriage at any cost.

The mission had been trouble from the start; the royal guards looked down on the mercs. They were not allowed to speak to or even have contact with the Lord's daughter. Lady Midan was very beautiful, her light brown hair, green eyes, and healthy body only added to her charm and sweet personality. Three mercs would ride scout out in front of the party, three would flank on each side. Keal was in charge of the scouts in front of the party. Kay-Lor was in charge of the group on the left flank and Deke was in charge of the group on the right flank. Captain Tran was in charge of the twenty royal guards watching over Lady Midan. He was very knowledgeable but refused to listen to anything Deke offered. Three wagons made up the convoy, the first wagon carried supplies and four serfs to do physical work; the second was Lady Midan's coach driven by her personal guard Tran's brother Trak, a young servant girl along with two ladies in wait rode with her; the last was the cook wagon with all the food and cooking equipment driven by the cook and his assistant. Two guards rode between each wagon and eight rode in the front and rear of the wagons.

Lady Midan's young servant girl's name was Tia Bold the daughter of Deke Bold. Only Tia and Deke were aware of this and chose not to let anyone else know for fear that someone might take offense. Both Midan and Tia were 15 years old and very close friends. Dirty Blonde hair braided to the middle of the back and crystal blue eyes. The two of them stood 5' 7" were very solid and beautifully toned with perfect curves making it obvious they were females. They could almost pass for twins and that was one reason Tia was selected as Midan's servant. Tia might draw an attack away from Midan by mistaken identity; also her fighting skills were equal or better than most men her age. Although this fact was know only to Midan, Tia and Deke.

The first night the royal guards refused to do any night watch so the mercs were forced to do three shifts of three hours in three man teams. Keal's team took the first shift, Kay-Lor took the second and Deke's team took the last shift. At daybreak they broke camp and started traveling once again. Several hours into the trip Deke's team spotted a trap from the lead scout position. Kay-Lor's team was on the right flank and Keal's team was on the left flank, after a warning from Deke, Keal's team moved forward to intercept the ambushers.

Seven goblin raiders were waiting to attack when Keal's team jumped them. Further down the road were 15 more goblins and 8 hobgoblins riding large wolves. The first three were dead before they touched the ground and the next three joined them once they heard them hit the ground, turned and looked. The last goblin was hit with two arrows from Deke's team. The far merc team joined the group just as the rest of the goblins and hobgoblins attacked. The fight was fast and ferocious, leaving no goblin or hobgoblin survivors. Keal suffered a minor wound to his left forearm, Deke was stabbed in the right thigh and suffered a small cut to his upper right shoulder blade, a merc called Bo-Jo a 6' bald ½ Ogre took a spear to the belly, Raiffe a 5'5" ½ Elf suffered a cut on his left upper arm leaving him unable to move it, Kay Lor an Ogre and brother-in-law to Bo-Jo had his helmet split in two and his brown hair parted along with his scalp, lucky for him his skull was stronger than his helmet. Malak and Gada our two Dwarf fighters did not even get a scratch. The two Elves Q'Tek and Pharn were killed. The royal guards did nothing to help. Lady Midan was very upset at their lack of action. But not even close to how Deke felt about the situation. Captain Tran said that the royal guards did as they were suppose to and protected Lady Midan.

The next day they met up with an Elvin war party that was tracking a Goblin raiding party that had recently attacked a nearby Elf village. When they were told of the attack and outcome they were excited. It seems that the attackers were from the same group they had been looking for. They rode with the group for most of the morning before turning and heading toward their home. The wagons continued on there way, because of the deaths of Q'Tek and Pharn and Bo-Jo being wounded the mercs had to work in two man teams. Malak and Gada were the forward scouts, Deke and Kay Lor were on the left flank, Keal and Raiffe who was slowly getting use of his arm back were on the right flank, and Bo-Jo was riding in the cook wagon while his wounds healed.

Just short of a week later the group approached their destination. Baron Zeel sent a squad of Soldiers to meet Lady Midan's group and provide escort to his castle. They were able to enjoy a hot meal for dinner inside Baron Zeel's castle. Strange enough Midan and Zeel enjoyed each others company. It appeared they really liked each other; with all the signs of love in the air. Two days of rest for the mercs and they were on their way; short two men but with a new mission waiting for them. Tia would return with the guards and ladies in waiting and they would link up with her there.

A hard days ride and they were at the next town where after a night of rest they would load up and begin the mission of scouting for a supply train of 12 wagons. Each wagon had 4 men on it and there were 30 men riding horses with the main job of guarding the wagons. Deke after talking with the group decided to ride two men out front scouting, one man on each flank and one to the rear, two men would float from side to side dropping back to check on the man in the rear position. It was going to take ten to twelve days to get to the port where the wagons would drop off the goods they were carrying and load up with different items to be brought back. It was quite and easy going for four days. On the fourth night a pair of panthers tried to take one of the oxen that pulled the wagons. The caravan guards were alert and caught the panthers before they killed the oxen killing one and running the other off. Because the guards did the night watch, the mercs were able to sleep at night. Yeah the ox was quite torn up but it would live. The remainder of the trip to the coast was boring and uneventful.

Two days at the port while the wagons were unloaded inventoried and the return trip goods were inventoried and loaded. The morning they were preparing to depart alarms were sounded and several enemy warships were spotted sailing toward the port. Eight war galleys and at least ten frigates closed off the port and attacked the ships that tried to break past the blockade. Four frigates made for the docks and as they came along side goblins and hobgoblins poured over the side of the frigates and rushed the town.

As much as Keal wanted to stick around and kill more Goblins, Deke pointed out that they had to protect the caravan in order to get paid. The mercs trailed behind the fleeing caravan to slow down and/or stop any Goblins from giving chase. They killed over twenty Goblins before turning and running to catch up with the caravan. As they rode away both Deke and Keal looked back to see six more frigates reach the docks and close to a thousand more Hobgoblins and Goblins poured out of the ships and into the port city.

After reaching the caravan Deke and Keal informed everyone of what they had seen. It only took eight days to reach the town since they only stopped to water feed and rest the animals. The men would do the same after caring for the animals. A call to arms was sent out to all the Lords and rulers of the surrounding area. Thus began the Great Goblin War. Deke, Keal and the other mercs were quickly dispersed among the different military elements to scout for them.

Over a month later Keal was scouting out in front of a large company of soldiers, maybe 150 meters when they were attacked from the rear. He turned and charged back only to witness the total destruction of the entire force. Every one of the 45 soldiers had been cut down. They had taken over 100 goblins with them, each spear held a dead Goblin, almost every sword had also killed a Goblin, some had killed two just as some were unable to kill any, a few were killed by dagger. But it was not even close to the number that had attacked them. He quickly moved to the shadows of the trees and out of sight of the Goblins; making his way back to the main forces to report.

Deke returned with only eleven of the 45 soldiers and eight of them were wounded. The other groups did not fare much better. It was apparent that the Goblin forces were too numerous to stop without organizing a formidable army.

Deke and Keal were at a small village that was being used as a medical camp when it was reported that a large force of Goblins were moving in their direction. Deke and Keal volunteered to scout out and report back exactly how large and how long before the Goblins would arrive. Three hours riding and they both could see the large force moving toward them. It looked to be about 1000 Goblins; ten formations of 100 in four files of 25; 45 supply wagons, broken down so that five wagons were between each formation. At the pace they were moving Deke and Keal thought they would reach the medical camp in less than six hours. They rode back and gave the report, everyone was trying to get the wounded ready to move but there was no way to move everyone.

Keal suggested a small raiding party ride out and try to slow down the goblins with hit and run attacks. Deke suggested a small force set up an ambush to slow the goblins down. General Kahn an Ogre Magi was in charge of the forces and he tasked Keal with disrupting the wagons as best he could with just four others. Deke would take 30 men and set up an ambush keeping a quick retreat open, he was only to slow down the force not get into a fight with them. The evacuation of the wounded would be pressed as fast as possible; the two groups were to meet up with the General and his forces across the great river at the city of Blue Water. The General called for four volunteers to go with Keal and told Deke to get everyone else able to participate in the ambush to go with him. Bo-Jo, Kay-Lor, Malak and Gada volunteered to go with Keal. Raiffe went with Deke.

Deke and Keal shook hands and warned the other not to get killed, then turned and moved off to start their mission, Raiffe going with Deke and the other four following Keal to their horses.

The old man finished his drink setting the goblet on the table and said, "Another round and I will continue the tale."

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