Harold glanced down at Arrik and shook his head. The young human, his best friend in the world, was hunched over a scroll that he’d found, mumbling to himself and occasionally giggling. Harold could read and write, thanks to his mother, but he couldn’t understand being so excited about ink on paper. They, along with their newest companion Azora Stareg, had barricaded themselves into the dilapidated library that had once served the priests of Bane. Harold eyed the moldering piles of parchment that covered the long rows of bookshelves. Arrik had eagerly darted into the room when they’d opened the door but his joy had turned to dust as book after book had disintegrated in his hands. But he’d finally found something he could read and despite the fact that he was supposed to be resting, appeared intent on reading the entire text. Harold shook his head.
He eased himself down onto the stone floor, wincing as he did. The battle with the hobgoblins had been difficult. in retrospect, Harold probably shouldn’t have tried to fight all of them at once but, he thought with a wry smile, that was generally the way of things with him. He closed his eyes and thought back to a particular moment in the battle, before Azora had apparently joined them.
The huge hobgoblin, obviously the leader by the way he’d barked out commands, had unexpectedly appeared in front of Harold. One on one Harold was certain that he would have bested the creature. But then Arrik had come running towards him and Harold saw the hobgoblin leader’s eyes dart sideways, taking in the mage’s unprotected form. The creature’s heavy spear darted forward at Harold and then slid sideways, directly toward Arrik’s neck. Everything slowed. In his mind’s eye, Harold could see the spear biting into his friend’s flesh, rending it and spraying blood across the dark stone floors. His vision tinted green and he felt a flash of vitality rush through his body. In an almost impossible move, and one clearly unexpected from the hobgoblin leader, Harold lunged sideways, in front of Arrik, and felt the spear skitter across the front of his shield. And then the two lesser hobgoblins descended upon him.
Harold rubbed the wound he’d received where the hobgoblin leader had struck him. It was an ugly wound but not much different from the other ugly wounds he’d received at the hands of the slavers. He opened his eyes once more, made sure that Arrik was still safe, and nodded at Azora. She nodded back, her hands never leaving the dagger that she was cleaning. Content that the world would continue for a couple of hours, Harold closed his eyes again and fell into a deep sleep.