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Goblins & Giants

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The first thing Nattux Tsvetanka heard as she woke up was a huge blast. Scrambling off her cot, she noticed her twin brother wasn’t on his. Pulling some outerwear on, she grabbed her cloak and bag and sprinted out of the yurt to see what was going on.

Screams greeted her. Immediately she knew what was happening, but she hoped she’d never have to deal with adventurers in her lifetime. The stories told by some of the old refugees of other clans were horrifying, and now here she was, watching them relive their worst traumas. Nattux rushed forward past some firefighting townsfolk and towards the plaza, the main public space. The noise seemed to be intensifying as she got closer, and before she reached the open-air square she saw one of the elder teachers. He frantically waved her over and she took cover with him behind an upturned wagon.

“{What in Abyss-}” Her harsh whisper was silenced by the teacher, who cut her off with the explanation she was about to demand.

“{They just came into the village and started destroying everything! The scouts hadn’t reported anything, and the plume of smoke past the horizon was too far away to be a threat. They’ve all but massacred the vanguard sent to defend the front district and now they’re somewhere close.}”

“{Sounds bad, teach. Any good news or should I start making funeral arrangements?}”

“{Your brother said that he had a plan, but he needed a distraction.}”

“{Perfect. It’s showtime.}” If Nattux could do one thing, it was get people’s attention.

Popping out from behind the wagon, she sprinted towards the fountain in the center of the plaza. As she jumped atop it, she gazed over to the other side of the street. Walking out of a burning structure were four humanoids. In the harsh light of the flames they seemed almost fiendish – a dwarf with a mace in one hand and a holy symbol in the other; an elf with a lute and a forest green motley; a human, nearly naked, screaming for blood at the top of his lungs; a dragonborn, her scales tinted with blood. As they stepped onto the street, their attention turned towards the small figure in the red cloak.

Nattux knew somewhere in the back of her mind that she probably looked ridiculous, but she was far too angry to care. Her passion had always inspired her playing, and rage was just as rich a source as joy. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw her brother rolling a small barrel into position, slowly and silently. Time for the show to begin.

“Hey Noonsleepah Potleaf!” The words resounded across the plaza as the adventurers and Nattux stared each other down. The dwarf burst into laughter, followed by the dragonborn. Fuming, the elf took his lute and stepped forward.

“Nah, ah, ah! I’m not trying ta fight’cha, tall boy. I’m here ta play circles around ya!”

“Kill!” yelled the human barbarian.

The dragonborn put a claw on his shoulder, holding him back. “No, you know what? I want to see this.”

The elf glared daggers at Nattux. “I could obliterate you where you stand, wretched greenskin!”

Her lips pulled into a tauntingly sly smile. “Ya music’s that bad, huh? Sounds like a typical elf ballad. Lemme guess – it’s about fae and the woods, right?” At that, the dwarf laughed even harder at the bard.

The dragonborn, keeping her composure, smiled deviously. “How about a contest, then?” Turning to the bard, she shrugged. “We can always just kill it after.”

His composure now back, the elf stood tall, trying to emphasize his height. “Very well. I’ll lead this dance.” His fingers picked at the lute strings with more ferocity than they ever had before. Notes blazed from the instrument as Nattux countered with her harmonica. Back and forth they went, notes clashing, sounds of fury coming from both contenders. Nattux pierced and slashed at the elven song, attacking the tune with the same witty rhythms and countering with a dissonance she’d developed through countless cutting contests.

As the sound reached a crescendo, Nattux suddenly began to twirl atop the fountain, flourishing with the harmonica. This coda took the group by surprise, its intensity prompting the elf to stop playing and behold the spectacle. After the final note, he regained himself and glared. “What the hell was that?”

Nattux’s saccharine grin turned malicious. “The last thing ya’ll evah heah.” After she winked, the entire party turned around to see another goblin behind them, barrels of gunpowder set up. The flame in his hand was reflected in his eyes.

Nattux was wrong – the last thing the marauders heard was a loud boom.