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by Abigail Borders
Genre Tween Fantasy
Tags Watchers, goblins, Cyrion, shape shifter, genocide, freedom, friendship, family
Paperback Release September 2016
Size: 5.5 x 8.5
Jon and Saul comes home to find their village torched, and everyone they know kidnapped by evil goblin troopers. Armed with little more than rotten eggs and help from their new friend Anya, they take the goblins on and rescue their parents. Only, they somehow end up trying to save one race from slavery, and another from complete annihilation.
“Thank you,” Jon said as Anya emerged from behind some bushes, back in her human form. She nodded with an absent smile. “And thanks for the eggs, too.” He patted his pack, filled with assorted rotten birds’ eggs, well wrapped in dried leaves.
“Why did you want them?” Saul asked.
“Remember how smelly the exploded eggs were? Well, I bet these’d smell much worse. How would you react if I was to smash one of these on you?”
Saul’s face lit up with equal parts understanding and mischievous delight.
Anya clapped her hands. “And goblins have a better sense of smell than even wolves. So if one of those lands right on their faces, they might get hurt.” Her grin widened. “Really hurt.”
“That would be great,” Jon said. “I’d be happy if they’re stunned for a moment, long enough for us to…do more serious damage.” He bit his lip and looked away.
Saul studied Jon’s face, a frown on his own. “Jon, do you think we can do this? I mean, really do this?”
Jon kept silent, focusing on the forest floor. A lone black ant was bravely attempting to lift a crumb, a remnant of their meal, many times larger than itself. Feeling a strange sense of kinship to that ant, Jon nudged the crumb onto the ant’s head and thorax. The ant made its wobbly way back to the scraggly line of other black ants that, he presumed, were returning to their nest somewhere else in the forest.
There’s my good deed for the day. I only wish someone else would give us a similar nudge.
“Jon?” Saul said with growing concern.
Jon looked up to Saul, and noticed an uncharacteristic gravity and concern in his friend’s blue-grey eyes.
Saul shrugged. “I mean, we’ve hunted rabbits and ducks, sure. But the biggest thing we’ve ever killed was that goat. And these goblins…” he paused, as if searching for the right words. “They walk on two legs, like we do. They speak the Common Tongue, like we do. They probably have friends and family, like we do.”
“No, no parents,” Anya said. “The books I read in Mother’s library said that goblins are ‘neither born nor hatched’”.
“Well, some kind of family, or friends or something. Anyway, my point is…” Saul threw up his arms in frustration, unable to find the words.
Jon bent his head again, this time studying his boots. His father bought the animal skin from a hunter passing through the Outpost. He taught Jon how to scrape clean and cure the skin, to turn it into leather. For once, his mother did not complain about the unavoidable stink of the tanning process. Logan then taught Jon to turn the newly cured leather into the boots he now wore. It occurred to Jon his father knew a surprising number of things for someone whose professed occupation was the tavern keeper of a small pub, attached to an even smaller inn, located at the back end of nowhere.
He missed his grumps.
“I can’t think of another way,” came Jon’s mumbled reply. “I’ve thought and thought, and I don’t…I just can’t see how…”
Jon lifted his eyes, grasped his friends’ shoulders, and looked into their eyes. “It has to be us, don’t you understand? There is no one else. We have no time to ask for help. And who could we ask, when everyone we know are the very people we need to help? Whatever the consequences, however we feel when the time comes, we’ll just have to deal with later. Because if we don’t act now, there will be no later. Do you understand?”
Jon pulled away from them and hunkered down, his back hunched. He folded his arms around his knees and hung his head low, as though trying to shield himself from the inevitable. “There never was a question of whether we could do this. The question was always when. Because we have no choice. We have to try.”
From the corner of his eye, Jon saw his friends exchange worried glances.
Anya bent and rested her hand on Jon’s tense shoulders. “Why don’t we just rest for now? I think we’re all over-tired, and it’s going to be a long night,” she said, her voice like a soothing balm. She laid down and wrapped her cloak more securely around herself to prepare for a nap.
“Should we set a watch, just in case?” Saul asked as he also settled into a more comfortable position.
“No need. My friends will keep watch.”
Despite the silence that followed, not one of them was able to sleep.