The Book of Fawla

Book 1

Chapter 8

Kate backed up against the wall. Her defense was now her trap. She grasped the goblin sword. She wished she had figured out how to create armor. The little swan in her hair would not protect her against the goblin seal. The attacker pulled the sword back and readied herself to thrust. Kate closed her eyes. This was it. Her oak tree blocked the blade. She put her hand against the rough bark behind her and whispered thanks. 

This soldier was able to hold onto her blade. She seemed stunned. Kate guessed that this goblin had not witnessed any of her previous miracles. The look soon changed to determination. The goblin gripped the grip tighter and tensed for her next attack. 

Kate clenched the bark behind her. "Hey, tree. Not to seem ungrateful, but I need a plan other than you fighting my battles for me. I really need some armor and my own weapon. Anything you can do would be great." She really didn't expect it to work. Aside from a few reactions the plants only responded to her conscious will and thought. They didn't act with the will of their own. Of course not, how would a tree think? 

But apparently this oak did. She felt the bark wrap around her hands. She panicked and tried to pull away. But she was stuck fast against the tree. She watched in horror as the bark climbed up her arms to her shoulders. 

She pulled as hard as she could away from the tree but it held her fast. Even her attacker stopped. As the bark wrapped around her chest and behind her back she saw branches lower from above. These, too, wrapped around her. Leaves from the branches became origami and pressed into the wood that had ensconced her. 

The bark continued down her legs and covered her feet. She felt herself yanked up in inch as it continued under her feet. She was now completely wrapped in the tree except for her head. It was the only thing she could move. She looked up and saw another branch coming down, a single acorn at its end. Her eyes grew wide. The acorn started growing as it descended. Soon it was the size of her head. It wobbled and cracked as if a baby bird was coming out of an egg, but the inside was hollow. 

The branch lowered it onto her head. The acorn fit snugly as if it would had been made just for her. She supposed it had. She heard cracking all around her and she could move again. She pulled her arm free of the oak. The wood surrounding her came with her but moved freely and rippled like leather. Tentative, she tried lifting her foot. It came free of the tree and ground but stayed covered. 

Her head turned to a flash of movement at another branch. As this branch lowered, it bent and folded and formed the shape of a broadsword. Stems of leaves formed a fancy lattice around the grip and the hilt. Towards the sword with little rose thorns. Apparently her rosebush from the South wall wanted to help as well. The sword then lowered itself into her hand and she took it. Despite its size and being made entirely from wood, it was remarkably light. 

The she-goblin stood there with a dumb look on her face. It was time to see if all those fantasy novels she'd read could come in handy. She raised her sword up over her shoulder like a baseball player ready to take a swing. Okay, maybe the fantasy books weren’t going to be much help after all. 

She stared her opponent in the eye. "Ready to make this fair fight?" 

The goblin didn't waste any time. She raised her sword and matched Kate stare. The goblin lunged forward. She was much faster than she had let on previously. Their swords clashed. Kate’s made remarkably metallic sound. 

They parried and countered. The goblin was a much better fighter, but the armor protected Kate, even if the occasional chunk came flying out of the thick wood.. The goblins formed a half circle around them, watching the fight. When she could, Kate looked towards the hole in her wall and saw elven faces peeking through.  

The battle seemed to take forever. Despite the armor doing most of the work for her, she was slowing down. The goblin seemed to be faring little better. Kate countered another strike but missed. The goblin sword hit her helmet broadside and knocked it off. Her opponent raised her sword again. Kate blocked but the iron grip between the sword and her wooden gauntlets failed and her weapon clattered to the ground. The she-goblin still had the energy to raise her sword for the next stretch. Kate held her hands up in front of her face and braced herself for the inevitable.  

She felt rather than heard the arrow go by. Her attacker fell to the ground with an arrow protruding out of her chest and through the leather armor. Kate turned around. Kreelan stood a few feet from the entrance with his bow in hand. 

He rushed over to Kate. "Are you okay?" 

"I thought you said that you wouldn’t fight. You could not take a life that wasn't for food." 

"That was what I thought too. But I could not stand by and watch you get killed," he said. He took her hand. "I wouldn't be able to live with myself if you were hurt because I did nothing. My vow to the goddess Thea is broken. Now, I fight." He rose his bow over his head. 

As if on cue, the villagers streamed through the hole and out to the goblin encampment. Kate watched as they came out with sickles, pitchforks, and knives. This peaceful village that had put up with the goblin invasion for so long rallied around her and Kreelan. 

The last of them came onto the field. Two old men wielded the largest axes Kate had ever seen. They took their post on either side of the opening with their weapons crossed over their shoulders. The goblins would not reach the children still in the village. 

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