The Book of Fawla

Book 1

Chapter 4

The torch landed on the dry grass of the roof. They all watched as the flames danced above them. Kate silently urged the roof not to light. Either she didn't have to power to make it fireproof or she had no control over the dead grass. After a minute of hesitation, the flames spread across the roof.

Kreelan let out a choked cry. He blinked and seemed to return to his senses. "Regkor, get out. The bastards have lit your house on fire." He raced inside.

"Kreelan, no," Kate shouted, grabbing his arm. "You'll die."

He pulled his hand off her arm. "I have to, Kate. If I don't, Regkor will die and with him, the answers you seek." He took one final look at the fire on the roof and dashed into the house as it began to fill with smoke.

The goblins laughed as the fire spread across more of the roof. Kate looked around for something to attack them. There were three of them and one of her. No doubt, they were experienced fighters and could take her easily. A large oak stood across the courtyard; it might just reach them.

But it was huge. The smallest branch was easily as large as any of the trees from the glade where Kreelan had found her. She willed the branch to move. It swayed a little, as if in a breeze. She tried harder. A bead of sweat rolled down her forehead. She heard a groaning sound as the branch strained against its own inertia.

A little more," she thought. She felt weak. Could this kill her? It didn't matter. These were the goblins that Kreelan had said they needed her help against. They lit a man's house on fire because of taxes. She couldn't let this stand.

The goblin captain stared at her. He said something, but she still couldn't understand it. He turned to the one that been the torch bearer and spoke.

The torch holder pulled his sword from his scabbard and advanced. Sweat poured freely from her now.

"Crack." The branch snapped forward like a slingshot. The captain and the third goblin went flying across the village. The one approaching Kate was further from the tree. The branch pushed him forward, but otherwise seemed to be okay.

He stood back up and glared at her. He dusted his jacket and gripped the sword in both hands. He took another step. Trippy came bounding across the courtyard. She pounced on the goblin and sank her fangs into his arm.

He screamed as blood welled to the skin around Trippy's teeth. His sword lay inches from his arm. He writhed on the ground until his fingers connected.

He swung the sword. The blade waved as he struggled to control it. It connected with Trippy's hide broadside. The cat fell over.

"No," Kate screamed. "Trippy."

Trippy huffed. The goblin tried to worm out from underneath the big cat, but his left arm was useless. Kate ran over. She grabbed for the sword. He was stronger, but injured.  Kate took another step and dug her heel right into his wound. He screamed and let go.

Trippy finally got to her feet. Keeping the sword pointed at the goblin, she rushed over to her cat. There didn't seem to be any cuts but her companion was in pain.

The other two goblins were making their way back. The captain had a gash and seemed to be propped up by the other one. Kate needed ideas.

She heard coughing behind her. Regkor and Kreelan stumbled out of the house just as there was a crash and the roof caved in.

Their faces were streaked with ash. Once outside, the collapsed.  They weren't going to be able to help. Around the edges of the courtyard, the other villagers watched on. Over the sound of the fire, she couldn't hear their voices, but their faces showed panic.

She grabbed the goblin at her feet and pulled him up. She pointed the sword at his neck. "If you want your friend to live, don't try to attack."

The captain and his helper stopped. Taking her captor with her, she stepped towards them. "Leave now and never return." She threw her captor at their feet.

He fell to the ground, knocking the captain over. The remaining goblin glared at her and reached for his sword. She glared back and held the sword over her head in a pose she hoped was menacing.

They stood like that for a long moment. Kreelan stumbled over, fumbling with his bow. Trippy limped over as well. The goblin didn't seem to like three to one odds as much when they were against him and withdrew his hand.

He helped the other two to their feet and the three retreated. They reached the gates and Kate dropped her sword. With the goblins gone, the town rushed into action as if just now realizing the fire. Kate pitched in and helped to carry buckets from the well to Regkor's house. They kept the fire from spreading, but Regkor's home was a smoldering ruin.

Realizing that her hope for returning home had probably gone up in flames with the house, she collapsed to the ground and cried.

Regkor approached her. He placed a hand on her shoulder. She flinched at the touch.

"I'm sorry about what I said before," he told her. "If it weren't for you and Kreelan, I'd be dead."

"The scroll you were looking for. It's gone, isn't it?" She asked.

"The scroll I was loo-. Oh, the one about you. Oh no. It's safe. It is such a rare scroll that I keep it in a fireproof box. It's just going to take a while to dig it out of that mess."

"Well, I guess that's something I'll have plenty of, now that those goblins are gone." She wiped the tears from her face with her sleeve.

Kreelan joined them. "Oh no. They aren't gone. There is a whole company of them over the hill. And your stunt means they will come back. This time, they won't stop with burning down just a single house."

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