The goblin snarled and spat something in its harsh sounding language. Yellow eyes filled with hatred glared with menace. Bern had been forced to deal with a goblin before, but not like this. The goblin he had encountered a year ago near his father’s barn put on a show of being a threat but ran off as soon as he hefted his club and made it obvious he was going to fight. This one, though, was a little bigger and apparently, a lot meaner. Bern suddenly felt compelled to decide if maybe he should run.
The enraged goblin repeated whatever it had said before and took a few steps forward. It was less than 10 paces away now. It also drew a primitive, but very nasty looking, shaped bone dagger. Its bloodlust was now evident. Bern realized it was not bluffing. He had no idea what the goblin was saying, but he had a notion that it had something to do with being gutted by that knife. A cold chill went down Bern’s spine as the adrenaline in his body was released. Fight or flight?
As his heart began to pump and his breathing quickened, Bern’s instinct told him that a fight was inevitable. So, he raised his trusty ironwood club holding it at waist height, level with the ground and angled off to the right. He let his knees bend slightly and ground his feet into the loose soil. He was going to let the goblin make the first move and close the distance between them. Bern planned on forcing the goblin to rush him hoping to get a good swing before having to deal with dodging that vicious looking dagger. He hoped he could keep forcing the goblin to run by and have to turn and rush in again. Bern knew his club was almost useless if the goblin got inside his swing. Bern also knew, however, that all it would take was one good swing.
The goblin feinted a rush and only took a couple of steps. Bern’s awareness was on overdrive, though, and he did not react to the feint. This seemed to make the goblin even more angry – if that was possible. It screamed in rage at Bern and thrust the dagger into the air over its head. Bern was a bit confused by the display, but would not let his concentration waver. Bern knew that the goblin could kill him if given the opportunity. Bern was not planning on dying that day.
The rush came, and Bern was ready. His muscular body tensed as he prepared to unleash his strength through the club. The goblin was not stupid and stayed to Bern’s right side as it closed the distance. It was apparently hoping to minimize the swing of the club.
What the goblin did not know, however, was that Bern had been carrying and swinging that 3-foot long piece of shaped ironwood since he was five summers old. Now at 20 summers, the club had become the extension of a very powerful body. And Bern knew how to use that club just as well as his father’s garden hoe and plow. The goblin was stopped hard in its tracks by a quick, sharp jab to the face. There was a muffled crunch when the flat of Bern’s club crushed the goblin’s bulbous nose.
Bern did not waist a moment. He spun to his right starting a roundhouse swing of the club leveled at the goblin’s head. The goblin was quick, though, better seasoned in a fight and less stunned than expected. It ducked Bern’s swing and lashed out with its dagger, taking advantage of the momentum Bern had created for himself with such a powerful swing.
As the club whiffed through the air just above the goblin’s head, the sound of tearing homespun cloth could be clearly heard. Despite the blurred vision that a shot to the nose had most likely caused, the goblin had aimed its thrust well, and the dagger caught Bern’s tunic tearing quite a hole in it underneath his right arm. Then as the goblin pulled back, it managed to turn slightly into Bern and rake the dagger across his flank.
Bern gasped through gritted teeth as white hot fire shot through his side. He stumbled slightly as he pulled away from the source of the pain. The falter in balance probably saved his life, too, because the goblin thrust the jagged bone dagger at Bern a second time in a spot that he could have been without the stumble. Another hole was torn in Bern’s tunic, but the dagger only tasted cloth that time.
Bern had never been truly injured in the few fights he’d experienced before this one, and most of those fights did not involve opponents with such deadly intent. The searing pain on his side was suddenly a terrible distraction. Bern was feeling a little shaky, and the biting panic of fearing for his life was starting to invade his thoughts. As level-headed as he usually was, Bern was not prepared to deal with the murderous intent he faced in the fight with this goblin. But fleeing no longer seemed like a real option.
Bern and the goblin faced each other again just out of reach of the other. The enraged humanoid’s yellow eyes were wide. Its bloodlust and rage were barely held in check. It was shivering, but certainly not cold. This was not going to end without a death.
Bern swallowed hard and tried to calm himself. He was afraid, but held to his plan to let the goblin come to him. And again, his strategy paid dividends. The goblin lunged going for Bern’s mid-section, trying to repeat its previous success, and draw more blood. Bern was barely ready, but his strength and control of the club gave him the speed he needed to take a short swipe. It was enough to redirect the goblin and cause it to slightly stumble.
Bern took advantage and turned to the goblin as it moved away. He reared back the club, took a step toward the goblin as it was turning back to toward him and swung as hard has he could. He connected. A wet thwack filled the air and the shock of the impact to the goblin’s head went up his arm. The goblin dropped, but Bern did not notice. As he was losing consciousness, the last thing Bern saw was the goblin’s dagger protruding from his rib cage…