As the giant Goblin bore down on the group, Kindle rose higher above the open cobblestone courtyard to get a better look. In the darkness, she saw two more of the Goblin behemoths emerging from the water, and the outlines of spears and shields from a dozen more normal sized Goblins.
“If only we’d had a chance to change out of these clothes” Kindle fretted, despairing at the thought of ruining her beautiful new dress.
*Hardly the thoughts of a warrior before a battle* Deltia growled in Kindle’s awareness.
*OHMIGOSH! Kindle I just remembered something else the Queen told me.* Kindle winced at the volume Cirrus projected into her mind.
“We don’t have time for this, Cirrus! What is it?” She said as she flew in a wide arc back toward her companions.
“Your clothing! They were not just costumes for that dance. They were commissioned by the Queen for each of you specifically. Remember, Elves are known for their clothing, but also for weapons, like me! She knew she could not be overt in showing her gratitude, but each outfit has something that will help each of you. You have to tell everyone before it’s too late!”
Kindle rolled her eyes and sighed. She put on a burst of speed and headed for her companions.
The leading giant Goblin reached the group and stood before them, lifting his rough club and roaring angrily. A thrill of energy coursed through Trixen, a feeling she had not experienced before, especially when facing her own possible demise. She realized with a start that it was coming from Currick.
She laughed, and yelled to her wolf companion, “Sic Em!”
He gave her a look and hmphed through his teeth.
Currick leapt forward with an energy that almost threw Trixen from his neck but then something clicked between them. As one, Currick grasped the giant Goblin’s club in his jaws while Trixen grabbed his collar with both hands, spun around his neck like an acrobat and struck the giant with the full force of her outstretched feet. As she came full circle, she landed back on Currick’s neck, astounded.
“Where did THAT come from?” She said to herself while the disarmed giant toppled to the ground with a huge thud.
Kindle flew up to her and shared with her what she had learned from Cirrus. “If we survive these next few days, Trixie, I guess you’ll have a career as an acrobat to fall back on.” Kindle said with an appraising look.
Currick showed Kindle his teeth. Kindle wasn’t sure if it was a smile or a sneer.
Trixen made a face at Kindle. “You’d better tell the others, there’s more Goblins coming!”
The silver haired girl pointed to the riverbank as more Goblins arrived from the river.
“It must be some kind of advance wave.” Kindle replied, and flew quickly to Kyte, Julia, and Findar.
After sharing what she had learned she quickly briefed Rein and Kael.
“Too bad you tossed your suit out at the Inn, Rein” Kael commented as he flung a bolt of energy at the first wave of Goblins.
Rein - who had his back to Kael - shrugged and drew his twin blades.
“I don’t need any Elf magic to take out these Goblins.” he said, and let out a battle cry as he began a deadly dance with his blades, cutting down two Goblins before they even knew he was there. The battle was engaged.
The screams of dying Goblins made Julia cringe. She stood behind Findar and Kyte , who in turn were holding their distance from the onrushing Goblins coming up from the riverbank around the waiting ship - letting Kael and Rein take on the left flank, while Trixie, Cur, and Kindle attacked from the right. Julia was terrified. She could not feel anything magical since the Elf Queen had set up a block from her magic in her mind. She could not sense any of the magical streams of energy from before, and no matter how tightly she gripped the amber gem, it was cold and dark to her hands.
*Magical dresses? Clothing as weapons? Not that it’s going to help me now* she thought. But she also realized that she’d probably do more harm than good if her magic got out of control again. She was once again a liability to her friends.
Kyte glanced over his shoulder at her nervously and gave her a half smile. A moment later he gestured with his staff and cut down two advancing Goblins with a bolt of energy. Julia yelped in fear.
Suddenly, from a darkened alley to the right of Kyte, another Goblin leaped out of the shadows and his jagged blade struck Kyte squarely in the shoulder.
“Look out!” Julia cried, too late.
But instead of blade cutting through cloth and flesh, the grey suit transformed for a split second before the sword impacted. It became true armor, stiff and strong. The blade clanged loudly against the sudden metallic surface. An instant later, the suit was again cloth. Kyte didn’t have time to wonder at this seeming miracle as the Goblin attacked again. Kyte clumsily tried to bat away the blade, with a fearful yelp of his own but only succeeded in scraping his staff and the blade slid down and struck his wrist. Once again the clothing phased into true armor, protecting his hands with tough gauntlets for an instant.
Heartened, Kyte gathered his wits.
“Stay back, Julia!” he cried and a bolt of energy erupted from the staff.
It pierced the goblin in it’s chest and it fell with a strangled cry.
Findar was finding himself equally occupied with another of the giant Goblins. It was bare chested and Findar was horrified to see that embedded in the center of its chest was one of Rath’s scales. It was black, shiny, and dark veins surrounded it as if it were some kind of parasite, feeding the Goblin with energy and increased size.
“The giant Goblins! They are Rath-possessed!” Findar cried.
Kindle flew to Kael who was now breathing hard from the exertion of casting so many spells.
“This is bad, Kindle. They keep coming. Any idea how we trigger these ‘gifts’?”
Kindle was silent, staring off into space as she would often do when communing with her silent ‘friends’.
“Cirrus doesn’t know. That’s not something the Queen had time to tell him. She shrugged, dodging a crude spear thrown by an angry approaching Goblin.
Kael closed his eyes for a moment, sighing in frustration. In that space of time he saw something in his mind’s eye: an ocean wave. It was a fleeting glance, but he immediately understood its importance.
He fired off another bolt of energy at the onrushing Goblin and yelled to Kindle. “Tell the rest! Close your eyes for a moment! You’ll see how to use the Queen’s gift!”
Without thinking, she did so as well, trusting Kael. She immediately saw something - a dark cloth covering a light . Kindle grinned and flew up to Kael.
“You’re a genius. I could kiss you!” She said.
Then, on a whim , she came in close and kissed Kael on the cheek. Surprised at herself, she flitted off , leaving a confused Kael.
Quickly he recovered his wits and closed his eyes again. The image of a wave reappeared. He embraced it in his mind and was rewarded by a thrill of cold power flowing through him. Ignoring the Goblins near him - Rein was guarding him in order to allow him to cast spells - he gestured to the nearby river and made a pulling motion with his hands.
The water immediately responded by raising like a wall, then crashing down on the Goblins that remained in the water, drowning them instantly.
Kael looked down at his costume. “Pirate. Water. Cute. The Elf Queen has a sense of humor.”
*What was I thinking?* Kindle thought to herself as she flew to Trixie.
*What were you thinking? You’re fighting Goblins and your distraction is going to get you killed.* the dragon Deltia scolded her in her thoughts.
Chastened, Kindle closed her eyes again and reached out for the cloak vision. Immediately her night-black dress moved like a living thing and covered her completely in darkness. She could still see clearly, and her movements were not hampered. It felt like a second skin.
“This could come in handy ” Kindle said to herself with a half-smile, raising her arms one after the other to her eyes.
*It suits you* Deltia said in her mind. “A fine outfit for a warrior. Speed and stealth.”
Trixen did not see the dark streak that flew up to her, as the port courtyard was in mostly darkness with only a few street lamps about. She was also preoccupied by the enraged giant Goblin who now was joined by two more giants that had emerged from the river near their ship before Kael could dispatch them with his wave of water.
After yelping in surprise when Kindle pulled back the cloak around her face Trixen called out “Nice trick, is that your dress?”
Kindle nodded and explained Kael’s idea. Currick was anxiously pacing back and forth in front of the giant Goblins.
“I can’t take all three. If you are going to do something, morsel, do it now .” Currick growled.
Trixen was riding on Currick’s neck, and was managing to stay on as he had been attacking the Goblins viciously. The three Goblin giants focused their attention together on Currick, the largest enemy in their judgement. Quickly Trixen closes her eyes. A wicked smile crossed her face and she extended her left arm forward and made a fist . Her dress shifted, with one of the tree shapes from her dress flowing down her arm to become a long, powerful bow that looked branch-like in appearance. Staring in wonder, she pulled back on the string with her right hand, all the while unconsciously maintaining her position on Currick as he maneuvered. The string flexed effortlessly, and as she reached the apex of her pull something even more remarkable happened. She felt a sliver of cold slide down her arm from her bodice and an arrow made of hard blue ice formed on the bow. The ice was so cold that it gave off a chilly vapor.
Trixen laughed in delight and took aim at the frontmost giant. She released the arrow. It flew true and pierced the giant squarely in the eye.
“Ugh” Trixen said under her breath. She was not entirely used to fighting for her life.
“Seems as if my pup is growing some fangs” Currick said.
Then they both stopped in their tracks. The screams of the injured giant were cut off as the flesh around the arrow froze solid, spreading outward until the whole creature was frozen, except for the dragon scale on its chest, which steamed furiously before falling off. It fell with an earth shaking thud and shattered into a thousand pieces.
Trixen looked down at Currick. Such power!
After that, the tide turned quickly as Trixen, Currick, Kael, Rein, Findar, and Kindle attacked the Goblins relentlessly, while Julia could only helplessly look on, her power cut off by Braigeth’s spell.
By the time the Queen’s soldiers came to offer help, all the Goblins were either dead, dying, or running away. To the party of young and old alike, it was terrifying to have faced such a large attack by Goblins, especially so close to the Queen’s castle, but they were also encouraged and thrilled by the amazing gifts the Queen had bestowed upon them.
Later that night, they all slept soundly as the ship they had protected slowly traveled to the site of their next and hopefully final showdown with Rath. Rein was the only one still awake, standing at the prow of the ship. A single tear ran down his face as he looked across the starlit waters.