Hooves beat fiercely on a well worn sandy path, spraying a shower of dust backwards with every strike as the heat of the suns beats down harshly on the back of Ithaca’s neck. The desert suns were unforgiving, and the creatures even less so. Wiping the sweat off his forehead, Ithaca continued across the vast sea of sand on his quickly tiring horse. Daerlun was a country best avoided unless needed to cross into its neighboring countries.
Ithaca was on a mission for the King of Czarnia, Ithaca’s homeland. He had to cross into the neighbouring country of Pandemora, charged with renewing that nation’s treaty with Czarnia. Ithaca lightly tugged on the horse’s reins, slowing it from a gallop to a canter. Roads in these parts, the dunes of Malruun, were littered with bandits and scorpions. He had to be especially careful near Imon Dune, he thought. Imon in the Common Tongue meant King, and Ithaca knew it was infested with wizards. But not just fairy tale wizards. These were War Mages, who outlived the Dark Years. As he cantered down the road, he looked about the dunes. He saw a brief flash of green behind a particularly small dune.
“Goblins,” Ithaca scoffed. They would overtake any average traveler, but Ithaca was far from average. Even as he was thinking this, his right hand reached down to instinctively unsheathe his sword, fashioned by master dwarf artificers from purest steel and expertly silvered to be effective even against exotic foes. It had not a dent, nor a single speck of rust.
He stepped down from his saddle and urged the horse to back away from the dune. He was right to do so because, not three seconds later, a goblin suddenly launched himself over the rise, landing where Ithaca had been only moments ago, on his face. Ithaca coolly unsheathed his sword and, his blade moving so fast it flickered from left to right, cut down his first foe.
The other Goblins started to separate. The braver ones resolved to avenge their friends’ death and advanced towards Ithaca, while the others saw how little effort the victory had cost him and ran down the path, kicking up clouds of dust as they fled.
Ithaca studied the situation. Four Goblins were coming at him, and another three were kicking up a storm in their rapid retreat. There was the small dune the Goblins had come from right in front of him, and behind him stood two large dunes on either side of a smaller one. He came at the closest Goblin, ducking under a clumsy swing of a massive, two-handed club. He swung an overhead blow of his own, forcing his sword in a downward arc over his head, making direct contact with the Goblin.
The other three winced as if sharing their friends’ pain but continued forward. Ithaca stepped back, and the Goblins, thinking it was a sign of a retreat, became visibly more confident. But Ithaca was not retreating. He pulled a large knife from his belt and sent it spinning into the heart of the leftmost Goblin. The remaining two briefly glanced at each other, and the one that had been closest to their late companion decided to escape before they were taken down as well.
The last Goblin sucked in a breath and charged at Ithaca. Ithaca almost laughed, and simply held his sword so it pointed at the Goblin, then thrust himself forward, burying the swords’ point in the Goblins’ rib cage.Ithaca walked back to his horse, who was standing nearby, watching the events unfold. At the sight of Ithaca, she snorted and whinnied, as if to say Congratulations! Ithaca showed a trace of a smile, hoisted himself into the saddle, and cantered down the road as if nothing happened at all.