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Captain (Part I)
The hobgoblin’s captain surveyed the scene before him.

Two lines of spike filled pits had been carefully excavated in a V-formation. The lines stretched over fifty feet long and were ten feet across, the pits divided by narrow walkways of reinforced earth every 10 feet or so, with small stakes above ground marking the passageways. The pit sections were lined with sharpened wooden stakes that rose to just the lip of the pits. Woven reed mats lay across the top, blending into the surrounding ground and concealing them from sight. Part of the top sod that had been stacked aside during the digging had been placed carefully on top to further create the illusion of solid ground.

The removed earth had been raised into a central mound several yards back from the center of the formation. Canvas dyed to match grasses covered the mound, staked down securely to deny the ever fickle wind an opportunity to betray the deception. The remaining top sod was being placed over the canvas-shrouded mound, intact grasses waving in the breeze. Outside the formation of pits, shallow bunkers had been excavated as well, and the mounded banks of soil were draped in more grass-stained canvas and sod, creating low turf-walled tents.
“This had better work, Captain. An awful lot of labor being done by warriors,” one of his sergeants growled from beside him.

The Captain looked down at him, one eyebrow raising. “Your lack of understanding is noted, Kregnik. It will work as planned. And when it does, you will carry my share. Perhaps someday you will learn strategy.” He turned back to the nearly completed ambush. “For now, fetch me Jongar and Gierka.”

“Sir.” Kregnik straightened, thumped his chest in salute and ran to find the lieutenants.


“You understand the plan, Jongar?” the Captain asked as the false dawn began to light up the eastern sky.

“Yes sir. I will take the reserves and wait in the hills.” The young hobgoblin paused and looked eastward. “I should leave now if we are to be off the plain by full light.”


“Honor to you, Captain” Jongar said as he saluted and turned to leave to gather his troops.

The Captain watched the activity for a moment before addressing his remaining officer. “Gierka, get your troops in the tents and the scouts deployed. We leave at dark. A full night’s hard march lay ahead of us if we’re to strike the target as planned.“

Gierka thumped his chest solidly in salute and spun sharply to stomp off into the dim light of pre-dawn. The Captain’s ears barely picked up the muttered ‘Finally’ that Gierka uttered on his exit. That explains Kregnik, he thought, Pity. Gierka’s been loyal but he’s never understood tactical advantage. He will have to fall in the skirmish, now or soon. I will not have my command questioned. Fortunately, he won’t question leading a suicide charge. He crossed his arms and contemplated his subordinate’s future fall.


The Captain slid on his belly next to the scout at the edge of the copse of trees the hobgoblins had stopped in. It sat on a small hill overlooking the small farming complex several hundred yards away that was the target of their raid. They had been on a dead run for most of the previous night, going past the outlying farms and getting behind the outpost of the Masili horsemen. It had taken all of the dark to reach this position, and his troops had collapsed after setting the camouflaged tent in place. Tonight would be an even harder run after the raid, carrying spoils and slaves, and with the horsemen in hard pursuit most likely. That was all part of the plan, and the twenty hobgoblin warriors under the tent knew their parts, if not the details. The Captain had specifics in mind to maximize his window of opportunity.

The complex had three buildings, two habitations and a storage barn, along with the typical small outbuildings. The three dogs had not found the hobgoblins yet. A few horses, chickens and a cow were next to the barn structure. From his view, the Captain could see figures walking about in the fading light.

“Any sign they are aware of us?” he asked the scout. The hobgoblin had tufts of grass woven into his cloak, and the cloak was weighted to not move in the breeze.

“None, Captain.”

“Good. Same recon information?” the Captain began reaching into his belt pouch.

“Same as when we surveyed it. Three adult males, four adult females, four young of indeterminate gender. One adult male and one adult female are white-haired but move well enough. Three dogs are fat and lazy and stay near house unless one of the humans is about.” He paused briefly before adding, “No horsemen have come through this day.”

The Captain paused a moment in pulling out the spyglass. It was a relic, scavenged by his forbearers long ago, and part of his symbols of rank. He quirked an eye at the scout’s form. Another one questions this mission. Perhaps Gierka will need to die sooner than expected. Pushing aside thoughts of attrition he raised the glass to his eye, shielding the lens from the light by habit even with the setting sun behind him. The figures jumped into view and he was able to make out details he had not been able to with the naked eye. The white haired human male was walking between the buildings. Although old for a human, he was definitely still a threat. He scanned the rest of the complex, noting details and refining the plan for this evening’s raid.

The attack had gone smoothly. Moving in after dark, the hobgoblins had dispatched the dogs quickly with only a few barks and a yelping whine. Waiting for the inquisitive Masili to open the door to investigate, he held his troops back until both doors had been opened. Arrows from the dark took the two younger adult males out immediately and the hobgoblins swarmed inside. The dropped lanterns were extinguished before the flames could catch. One of the females had to be killed in the struggle as she fought the raiders. The old humans were killed as well – the old never make good slaves – and the old man had fought well, cutting down Koret before being overwhelmed. That was his only casualty, although several sported minor cuts or scrapes from the assault.

The remaining humans were trussed and bound, gagged to prevent noise and blindfolded as well. The hobgoblins went to work gathering food stuffs and other spoils. The Captain checked the night sky. Time was still on his side, but they would have to move soon. He went to inspect the captives as the troop bundled the spoils and began to gear up for the march out. The two adult females would be satisfactory, young enough to have several seasons of use. The four young humans though…the smallest one would barely stand as tall as his waist. He considered briefly, then slipped his dagger out from its sheath, pulled the human upright and slit its throat. “Too small for slave,” He grunted as blood sprayed outward. He let the body go slack before flinging it away from him.

He turned to find Gierka waiting, a bundle over his shoulder. The hobgoblin eyed the corpse, “Wondered about that one.” He brought his eyes back to the Captain’s face. “Bundles are fixed, troops are loaded. Scouts have brought in the tent, we’re ready to move. On your order?”

The Captain stood a moment, until he saw Gierka’s eyes flick almost imperceptibly to the dripping dagger still in his hand. Slowly he wiped it clean on his wrist before sheathing it again. “Form up for march, four abreast. Leave a trail. We want to make sure they follow us. I’ll set the final piece.” Gierka nodded and turned to bark orders at the rest of the hobgoblins.

The Captain looked once more at the sky and went inside one of the houses. Finding a sheet, he slit a hole in it. He pulled a cloth wrapped bundle from his pouch. Unwrapping it revealed a candle, marked in increments. He trimmed off some and fixed it in a holder, pushing the candle through the slit he had made. He set the candle and sheet on the table. The candle would burn at a specific rate, so he knew when it would reach the cloth. He soaked the sheet with oil from the extinguished lantern before lighting the candle. Making sure it caught well and there were no errant breezes, he left the structure, closing the door behind him. One of his troopers, a young soldier called Grutichik, was waiting at the door.

Nodding with a grin, he chuckled, “Neat that, Captain. Delayed burn. Give us some running time before getting their attention.” He shifted his pack and saluted.

“Good that you understand. This is all a draw tactic. The real operation is back at the pits. Now move, soldier, unless you want to face the horsemen in the open.” Stepping out, he saw the troops standing with packs and slaves on their backs. The horse was loaded as well, chickens tied by their feet around bulging panniers of grain sacks. “Move out” he barked as he broke into a mile eating trot.
Viewable by: Public
Tags: ambush , hobs , Masili
Epic × 2!