Detective Anne Hearst looked at the hideous creature that was snarling at her and the strange man that somehow knocked the creature to the ground just before it clawed her. Her mind couldn’t reconcile with what her eyes were seeing.
“Draw your weapon!” the man commanded, “Shoot the goblin before it gets back up!” Goblin? What was he talking about? Then the creature scrambled back to its feet and snarled at her. The Glock 23 materialized in Anne’s hand and she fell into a firing stance. Gunfire erupted behind her. The man must be shooting at something else. Even in the relatively open space of the warehouse, the sound was deafening.
The goblin leapt at Anne again. She fired her pistol. Sickening red blossomed on the creature’s rough chest, but it didn’t stop. She fired again. And again. And again. The goblin howled in pain, but it kept staggering forward. Anne kept pulling the trigger until her pistol stopped firing. There was a flash of panic that her sidearm might have malfunctioned. She quickly realized the slide was locked back on an empty magazine. The goblin was badly hurt, but it was still moving towards her with a single-minded fury. Anne jammed the magazine release button. She could barely hear the clatter of the empty magazine on the concrete floor. She fumbled for a spare magazine while still holding her flashlight. Frustrated, she let go of the flashlight, yanked the spare magazine from her belt, slammed it in, and pulled back on the slide. She could barely see the goblin in the sudden darkness, but it was enough. She opened fire. Three more hits and the goblin fell to the concrete. It didn’t move again.
Anne picked up her flashlight and turned back to where the man had been shooting. Two goblins lay at his feet as he fired his pistol at a third. The long, dark coat and floppy hat obscured his features as he slid across the floor to bring his weapon to bear. Four more barks from his pistol and a third gray-green body fell unmoving into the light. Anne finally got a good look at him as he turned back to her.
The man was around six feet tall. Under the jacket, she could see his wiry frame. He had a long, lean face with maybe a day’s stubble. It was the eyes that stopped her. There was something alluring, but disturbing in the man’s dark eyes. He was saying something, but she couldn’t make out his words.
“RELOAD YOUR PISTOL,” he said loudly enough to overcome her gunfire-induced deafness, “THEIR LEADER IS STILL OUT THERE.” She mimicked him as he ejected the spent magazine from his pistol and slapped in a fresh one. He held his finger to his lips to remind her to be quiet. Who was this guy? Whoever he was, he seemed to know how to kill those goblins, so Anne decided to follow his lead. At least for the moment.
Erik heard as the detective fell in behind him. From her reactions, this was definitely the first time she’d encountered goblins, which meant his intelligence was wrong – again. Whatever she was, this woman was not a summoner. Still, she was definitely an unusual person. He doubted most people would have recovered quickly enough from the shock to deal with the little goblins. He needed to help this woman survive long enough to figure out exactly who and what she was. Now where was the damned hobgoblin?
“Give me the woman,” a raspy voice demanded from the darkness. The words echoed through the warehouse.
“I just wiped out your little hunting pack,” Erik answered back, “I’m not seeing why I should.”
“Avalonian, that human belongs to the Meliandre,” the hobgoblin said. “You do not want to draw Meliandre’s wrath.” Erik focused his senses and probed for the nonhuman’s mind. It was right about – there. He lifted his pistol to the rafters. The flashlight on the pistol’s dust cover illuminated the hobgoblin. Like its lesser cousins, the hobgoblin’s skin was a rough gray-green. Long, pointed ears peaked out of a mane of pure white hair, while an almost human face snarled at him. Erik didn’t hesitate. He fired twice, knocking the nasty creature off its perch. As it hit the concrete, Erik fired twice more into the hobgoblin’s head.
“What did you do that for?” Anne demanded. Erik turned back to her. She was tall, only a few inches shorter than him. Cold, blue eyes glared out from Nordic features. There was just the slight hint of strawberry in her blonde hair. From the emotions raging from the detective, she was terrified and angry.
“Hobgoblins are tougher than they look,” he said loudly enough for her to hear. After all that gunfire, the detective’s ears must be ringing. He’d have to ask Veronica to do something so the detective wouldn’t suffer some permanent hearing loss from the night’s battle. He flipped out his phone and hit the speed dial.
“Ja,” came the smooth German accented voice.
“Kurt, I need a pickup for the detective and myself,” Erik said, “Have Sam and Veronica be ready. This is going to be a long night.” Erik closed the phone without hearing a reply. Kurt was rock solid like that.
“How can you hear anything?” Anne asked. Erik fished out one of the hearing-aid sized electronic devices from his ear.
“Who are you?” she asked.
“My name is Erik,” he answered, focusing his senses on her. He needed to get her psi-scent fixed firmly in his mind. Suddenly, he couldn’t feel a thing from her.
“Stop that, whatever you’re doing,” Anne said. She brought up her pistol. “Put your gun on the ground and show me some ID.” As she spoke, Erik could feel the wild magic pulse strongly around them.
“That might not be a good idea,” Erik said, “We’ve got more company.” Before Anne could repeat her order, a circle of red light appeared in the middle of the warehouse. Four large, overly-muscular creatures jumped into the warehouse. Erik took one look at their dark grey skin painted with runes and claymore-sized swords. He didn’t have to see their twisted faces to know.
“I hate orcs,” Erik said as he brought up his pistol. Then, his world fell out from under him as the elf casually walked out. It couldn’t be. Erik was sure he killed that damned elf a decade ago. As the elf turned to face him, it’s eerily perfect features contorted into a grimace. Glad to see it remembered him as well.
“Jaegar? What are you doing here?” the elf asked.
“Arem,” was all Erik could manage as remembered rage coursed through him.
“I’ll make this simple for you,” Arem said, “Give me the woman and I’ll make your death quick and relatively painless. Try and keep her from me, and I will give you the death you truly deserve.”
“Arem, I’m going to enjoy killing you again,” Erik said, locking eyes with the elf. Arem nodded slightly. The battle began.