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The River Folk

By Luke Edward Hays All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy

The Rangers

The rangers rode horseback across the prairie. They’d been riding for twelve hours at least and the storm clouds did not look as if they’d let up anytime soon. Esbrin, 17, short dark hair and a small beard, turned his attention to his father. Esbrin’s father dismounted from his saddle and knelt down on the ground. Two other rangers joined him, one of those rangers Traven, Esbrin’s Uncle. Traven’s eyes landed upon some carved item that was pushed into the earth by heavy footsteps. He picked it up and held the carved wooden chess piece and held it in the palm of his hand. It was a knight from his son’s chess collection. Esbrin placed a firm hand on his Uncle’s shoulder. Traven replied by placing his hand on his nephew’s hand. Traven soon gathered himself and slowly got to his feet. He raised his left hand and removed the tears from his eyes as he placed his son’s chess piece into his pocket using his right hand. As he grabbed hold the horses’ reigns and swung himself up into the saddle, his mind journeyed to the last time he saw his son before he was kidnapped.

 The attack on the village occurred in the middle of the night and was conducted by Orcs and Goblins. Everyone in the village was unaware of the slaughter that was to come. From the night’s darkness, an alliance of Orcs and Goblins where quiet as mice as they advanced upon the sleeping village. Without warning, the Orcs and Goblins attacked taking everyone by surprise. Esbrin came out from his blacksmith building armed with a vest holding daggers, knives and hatchets. On his waist was a belt that held his sword, which was resting in a sheath. He had a crossbow around his shoulders and a quiver filled with arrows. When he stepped out into the street, a dark green, horned and armored Goblin with a battle-axe charged at Esbrin who did not have time to draw his crossbow, so he drew his sword and managed to duck and move out of the way of the battle-axe. The axe came towards him, and landed in the ground as he quickly moved out of the way. With the axe stuck in the ground, Esbrin swung his sword down beheading the monster.

Esbrin looked up and saw his sister Alessandra, 7, being hauled away by a Goblin and shouting at the top of her lungs. He also saw his brother Davin, 18, his sister Ny’la, 15, and a group of Rangers in a protected circle around mothers with their small children. With his crossbow, Esbrin ducked behind a well and watched Ny’la pull back the string of her bow and let the arrow loose, striking an advancing Orc. From behind the small group Esbrin saw Orcs and a few Goblins attempting to out flank his siblings’ small band from behind.

Esbrin bolted ahead and made his way behind a building and using his crossbow fired and arrow that in turn killed an Orc. When he finished reloading, he let loose another arrow that struck a Goblin between the eyes before switching to his sword just in time as the distance between him and the enemy closed. Davin joined him and sliced through an Orc, it’s dark blood spraying upon his beard. After the battle Esbrin informed his brother that their sister Alessandra was kidnapped, along with others. Everyone quickly organized a search party for the captives and placed Esbrin’s father in charge of the hunt. It took them less than four minutes to start.

 “This way lads,” said Esbrin’s father.

The rangers followed the tracks and did not stop until after twilight. The next morning they awoke before sunrise and quickly did their best to make up for lost time. Eventually they came up to the bottom of a hill and heard screaming and shouting and hurried up the hill as fast as they could. When they arrived at the top they tracked the Orcs and Goblins to a battle. The Goblins and Orcs had attacked a group of nomads. The nomads formed a circle around the women and children and where fighting desperately to stay alive. Esbrin’s father drew his sword and let out a battle cry that was echoed triumphantly, everyone below looked up.

The Orcs and Goblins shrieked in fear and panicked. As Esbrin charged down the hill, he took aim and fired his crossbow. The creatures began to scatter towards the woods. They where chased after by the nomads and some of the Rangers.

After the short battle Esbrin fixed his eyes upon a beautiful, long curly hair, woman about Esbrin’s age, maybe a few years older.  She too had noticed him, or more so noticed Esbrin had noticed her. She, her family and the others in the group where known as River Folk. They lived near rivers with forests and creeks.

“Hello miss,” said Esbrin dismounting from his steed. “My name is Esbrin.”

“I’m River, thank you for coming to our rescue.”

“Our pleasure. We where tracking these Orcs and Goblins for some days now because they attacked our village.”

Before Esbrin could continue the sound of an animal came from the Wagon River stood next too. When Esbrin went inside to investigate River blocked him.

“There is nothing there.”

Esbrin paused, then pushed his way past River and climbed inside the wagon. River panicked and jumped in after him. She grabbed hold of him and tried throwing him out of the wagon but her efforts where too late as Esbrin pulled off a blanket covering revealing a baby dragon. River tackled him to the ground and they wrestled in the wagon. River was stronger than Esbrin thought as she pinned him to the ground. Her long curly hair touched his face and starred directly into Esbrin’s eyes. Esbrin felt as if she would murder him if he told his Rangers she had a dragon in her with her.

“Alright, you win River.”

River got off Esbrin but keep her eye on him.

“Esbrin,” came the voice of Uncle Traven.

“Be right there Uncle Traven,” shouted Esbrin. Turning to River he concluded, “When we get to our village, I’ll show a place we can hide your dragon.”

“Thank you.”

Esbrin bowed his head in response and leaped out of the wagon.

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