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of the town.

"now you must let me go," the goblin demanded with a nervous watch upon the two
blades which continued to threaten him.
ryson sensed the swirling emotions in the goblin. the fear for its own near
worthless life, its lackluster indifference to those it helped kill, and its
bubbling desire to strike out against the delver. all such sentiment was as clear
to the Ryson as if it were carved in the goblin's breast plate. while it did not
reach for its sword now, instead waited for the promised release, it was clear that
the goblin would return with malicious intentions.
ryson thought of the town and linda. they were lucky he was here this night, but he
would be gone in the morning and unable to protect them. if the goblins returned,
many more would probably die, maybe even linda.
if he stayed, the sword of decree would stay with him. again, his vow to mappel
echoed in his ear, this time it mocked him. he had done all that was asked of him.
he assisted lief in reaching sanctum and helped bring shayed's word to mappel. even
now, the algors were probably reaching connel. he need only return this blasted
weapon which he did not want in the first place. it was all that required his
departure from burbon, but he could not ignore it. he had to leave, yet he had to
protect this town as well.
ryson turned one option over in his mind. he needed to convince the goblins that
burbon was not a worthy target for their ill-will, and he had a messenger before
him. he stared deeply into the swollen face of the goblin.
"before i let you go, i want to know your name."
the goblin sneered, but could not help recoil from the delver's searching stare. it
responded with a whining protest. "that was not part of the deal."
ryson shook his head and exhaled heavily. "that's alright. you don't have to tell
me anything. i know your scent now. i'd be able to find you again if i had to look
through a hundred goblins. but i want you to know that i'll be watching this town.
if anything happens to it, i'm coming after you and you will answer to me.
understand?"
the goblin only spat.
with the swiftest of strikes, he smacked the goblin on the shoulder with the dull
edge of the short sword. the motion was so quick it defied the goblin's vision. it
was meant to punctuate ryson's own intentions, to prove his words were no idle
boast. "remember what i said. i'm a delver and i will find you."
the goblins expression turned to sullen concern and ryson believed his words had
found their mark in the goblin's cowardly spirit.
"move!" ryson shouted. "or draw your sword. take your pick."
the goblin chose the former and sped off into the night.
ryson watched with grim satisfaction. he truly doubted this goblin would return,
and he could only hope it would convince any others to avoid burbon as well.
he allowed the fleeing goblin a few moments before addressing other important
matters. he lifted the fallen goblin off the ground and brought it to the other
four that remained unconscious in the road. he tied them all together before
leaving them.
with the town still dark, he took the time to make a careful reconnaissance of
every street and every alley in the western part of town. he found the tracks of
the goblins and followed them to ensure they had all left town. none remained. they
did, however, leave their mark.
ryson found the bodies of eight guards scattered about the streets and alleys that
remained in darkness. none were left alive, though most probably died in slow
agony. the short arrows were not shot to kill immediately. they plunged into the
stomach, the upper shoulders, the thighs and the back. one had as many as a dozen
riddled among his limbs.
ryson again remembered lief's words regarding the goblins and his distaste for
them. the elf had warned ryson that the goblin cared little for the sanctity of
life, would not care for the life of a delver, or apparently a human. the proof was
all around him. he threw the short sword to the ground and finished his
reconnaissance.
satisfied that the immediate danger had ended, the delver returned to the captured
goblins, finding them surrounded by a half dozen guards. many of the lamps were
being relit and ryson saw them clearly as he approached.
the guards wore minimal armor and carried spears just as those that stopped him
that same afternoon. one, however, wore a long sword at his side and a vest of red
cloth over his chest plate. upon noticing ryson stepping forward, the guards turned
and held their spears with menace. the man with the sword, though, merely cast a
suspicious glance. he called out with a commanding tone.
"are you responsible for this?" the question boomed out across the silence. "i am,"
ryson stated simply and continued walking forward as if the spears meant nothing to
him.
"and what of the creatures responsible for the raid?"
"they're called goblins and they're gone," ryson replied flatly. he walked past
more than one guard, considering them nothing more than gnats buzzing around his
ear.
"stand down your arms!" came an order from the red vested soldier to which the
guards reluctantly adhered.
"you're the captain?" ryson asked as he now stood in front of him.
"i am. who might you be?"
"ryson Acumen."
the captain nodded and looked to the sword which remained sheathed at ryson's
side. "i was told of your arrival. You're the stranger from connel. tell me what
happened here?"
ryson treated the command as more of a casual request and responded in kind. "your
men told me this afternoon that they might need my help. i heard the commotion and
simply