It was a dim dark hour in the late afternoon. The sun was on its way behind the horizon, but its faint light was still pouring over the meadows. There was no sign of wind, which made the thin mist, descended upon the land into an even greater nuisance. What was once a smooth water vapour, was now on its way of becoming a heavy fog, as the only beams penetrating it were fading away.
Amidst nature’s veil, deep in the tranquil oak forest, a flickering light from a campfire was present. There, on a gloomy meadow, around the cracking flames, were two men, lying on the soft grass.
The elder one was around his forties, with dark hair, blue eyes, and a goatee on his face. His legs were stretched alongside the warm fire and he was leaning sideways, elbow upon the ground, sharpening a short blade. His eyes were focused on his work, his face held no expression, no emotion whatsoever. The other, a twenty-ish years-old boy, was sitting on the opposite side of the fire, holding a stick with a piece of meat impaled on it. He had short ginger hair; he was shaved clean, his face pale and swarming with freckles. Unlike his companion, the boy seemed unease, anxious, almost frightened. His green eyes were dancing around the shadows, through the mist, searching, seeking, expecting. It was in his nature as well as in his humble experience during his brief existence to be on a constant watch. And for a moment there, his gaze froze in the distance behind his companion.
The other man didn’t even flinch, his expression didn’t change. He kept on sharpening his blade and only muttered a single word, with voice deep and cold:
The ginger wasn’t surprised by this blunt reaction. His companion wasn’t the most open person in the world. He had met him on a trip nearly two years ago. Back then, he ran into trouble with some muggers. Running into trouble was something he did very good. Then, the tall dark man scared off the bullies and saved his whining arse. He was following him ever since and Dereck didn’t seem to mind the ginger tail he acquired that day. The youth felt a lot safer around him. At least most of the time. Pre-evenings like that, alone in the woods, in the fog, still gave him the creeps. But there was more to it that met the common eye.
– There is a goblin sneaking up on you. – replied the youth.
Goblins weren’t common to these parts but one could spot the little pests anywhere since the Breach. Goblins were nasty green creatures with long faces and pointy ears. Their witty yellow eyes were always leaving place for suspicion among those who chose to cooperate with them. They did have the gift of speech and were quite fast learners. On top of that, they had no moral or ethics and the laws and regulations of humanity did not apply for them. A trait which made them perfect for any job. That is, if you could afford them. The little buggers were quite expensive to hire. Their greed was only rivaled by their brutality. And, of course, their cowardice.
– So? – Dereck didn’t seem impressed by this statement. He just kept on sharpening the blade. It wasn’t really disturbing, actually – it was just a single goblin. The puny worms were usually moving around in small groups and still most were not brave enough to take on a man directly. This one would probably wait until they had fallen asleep. The question was, how long will Dereck wait?
– Nothing, I’m just saying – replied the younger man. He knew what would happen. It was just a matter of time.