The city smelled of humans. That was no surprise to Blacknail, it was a scent he knew well, but its intensity was still almost overwhelming. The dark alleys and city streets reeked not only of their sweat and urine but also of their blood and shit.
Blacknail grimaced in disgust as he slipped through the shadows along the edge of the street and past the other pedestrians. He stayed away from any light that shone out from nearby buildings. Even goblins knew better than to shit where they lived. Were the humans just lazy or were they too afraid to go outside?
The black gloom of night lay thick over the city as Blacknail searched for some sign or scent of his tribe amongst the torrent of other odors that filled the streets. Try as he might though he couldn’t detect anything. Mingled among the foul and the vile there were however some other more pleasant aromas.
They were smells he couldn’t quite place but were familiar none the less. Some of the scents were somewhat like stew but even more… varied. Other smells reminded him strongly of bread or some of the treats Varhs and Geralhd had occasionally brought him. These were so much more full and fresh in their aroma though. It brought back bittersweet memories of his life before he had been taken from the sewers.
The sound of nearby whispering tickled his ears and Blacknail looked over to see the shadows shift at the entrance to the alley he was about to walk by. He frowned at what he saw within.
Suddenly, figures dressed in rags burst from the alley and towards him. They ranged in size but some were far smaller than Blacknail. Before they could get too close though, he kicked one of them away, and growled at the rest.
The human children gasped and fled in every direction away from him. The larger female he had knocked over quickly got to her feet and scrambled away.
Blacknail smiled smugly. The pests had looked like they were just running past, but the hobgoblin hadn’t been fooled. He knew they’d been targeting him, most likely for theft. Goblins played similar tricks on each other all the time. A good kicking was always the right answer.
The hobgoblin moved on. His recent actions had caused some attention to be focused on him, but not too much. No one had died and he hadn’t made too much noise. The humans of this city seemed to value their privacy, which suited Blacknail just fine. He was even far from the only person out and about in a hood and cloak.
Occasionally, a larger group of armed humans would pass by. Anyone who got too close to them was hassled and shoved around. Blacknail had examined a few of these human packs from a safe distance. They wore no uniforms or other marks of identification he could see.
He had even seen two of the groups meet and exchange insults and threats. They hadn’t actually fought though, so while they weren’t friendly they weren’t enemies either. Blacknail suspected these were warriors from different tribes attempting to gain status through displays of might and bravery.
It was easy for him to avoid them. They were noisy and he could hear them coming from a block away. If he had wanted to Blacknail could easily have never even entered their sight. He was sneaky like that.
The hobgoblin wandered the sprawling streets of the city for awhile without finding anything of too much interest. He did however pick up two tails. Blacknail didn’t look back but he had definitely been hearing the same steady sound of footsteps for the last few minutes. That was interesting; he wondered who they were.
Blacknail suddenly swerved and walked into a dark alley to his left. There were a lot of dark alleys to choose from in this place. He then crouched behind a pile of junk and waited. Just as he had planned two men soon stepped into the alley. They walked quickly towards his hiding spot as they scanned the shadows for signs of him.
Blacknail frowned in disappointment. He didn’t know them and they didn’t smell of anyone he knew. They were probably just a pair of random stupid humans. With a sigh, the hobgoblin rose from his hiding spot and confronted the men who had been following him.
“There he is!” the smaller one barked as he spotted Blacknail.
His companion whipped around and pointed a long dagger at Blacknail’s face. The hobgoblin just tilted his head to the side lightly and gave him a quizzical look.
“Give up your coins or we’ll…” he started to say, before Blacknail tuned him out and sighed again.
These men were just boring thieving humans and no one important. They didn’t even have swords or look tough at all. Oh well, it was to be expected. Thieves were the lowest of the low after all. The hobgoblin raised the sling he was holding at his side and launched a rock at the talking idiot’s face.
There was a loud crack as the stone smashed into the man’s forehead and tore a bloody gash across it. The injured mugger staggered and began to collapse. Before he hit the ground Blacknail was already moving. The hobgoblin shot forward as he drew his sword, and slashed at the second man.
“Wha?” the man said as he fumbled for his own dagger.
Blacknail’s blade cut deep into his shoulder before his target could manage to draw his weapon. The man screamed shrilly in pain as his arm went slack and the dagger fell from his limp fingers. The disabled man tried to pull away from the hobgoblin, but Blacknail took a step after him and silenced his annoying blubbering with a second heavy chop to his neck.
Blacknail then pulled off his right glove and leisurely reached down. With a satisfied smile he tore the unconscious first mugger’s throat out with his bare claws. The man’s flesh felt nice and squishy between his fingers as he squeezed. It was too bad humans didn’t taste that good.
The grinning hobgoblin then took a few seconds to listen for the signs of anyone approaching. It was soon however apparent that no one was headed over to check on the source of the brief scream, so Blacknail began rifling through his attackers’ clothes for things to take as trophies.
He found a few shiny coins and pocketed their daggers as well, before leisurely continuing on his way down the alley. He could tell no one was coming his way so there was no reason to hurry.
A few minutes later Blacknail stepped back out onto one of the main streets. At this time of day there were only a few other people around, and none of them were looking his way. As he started walking deeper into the city his stomach gave a rumble; killing things usually made him hungry.
He still had some smoked meat and nuts left in his pack, but surrounded as he was by such intriguing smells there was no way he was going to eat them. There were much better things around for him to sink his teeth into.
Blacknail followed his nose in the direction the most delicious aroma was coming from. Soon he found himself moving closer towards one of the more crowded and well lit areas of the city. Cautiously, he looked out from a shadowy alley to see what was going on.
The street was wider here and stretched quite a distance in both directions. It was well lit by bright torches, and the open doorways of buildings that lined the street. What had to be hundreds of humans were walking around as they shouted, yelled, and did other annoying things that were too loud.
Most of them wore rough cheap clothing and bore visible weapons, but not all of them. Blacknail also saw quite a few human females dressed in next to nothing, and some similarly garbed men as well. He thought they looked more than a little cold…
Scattered around the street there were several other humans in much nicer and more colorful clothing walking around too. Usually they were surrounded by more than a few tough looking escorts. They seemed to be higher status humans with their own warrior underlings.
The hobgoblin still didn’t see anyone he knew, so he looked past all the rather fatty and oily humans to see where all the wonderful smells were coming from. The most potent of the aromas seemed to be leaking from several large well lit buildings with open doors.
The problem was that lots of people were coming and going from them. Light and crowds of humans in close proximity were something the hobgoblin planned on avoiding however.
Some of the smells were coming from booths or smaller buildings with far less people in them. Those looked far more promising. Hesitantly, Blacknail stepped out of the shadows and onto the dimly lit street. He forced himself to casually walk past all the loud men and woman around him.
As he moved a few of the tough looking men gave him glares, but they ignored him when he moved out of their way. Some of the skimpily dressed men and women looked him over curiously, but after he failed to meet their gazes they lost interest as well. No one appeared to notice anything off about him so Blacknail relaxed, and even began to enjoy himself.
Ha, he was so tricky! All these stupid humans didn’t know he was right there in front of them. This was too easy. All it took was a cloak and the humans couldn’t see him, and they sure couldn’t smell him either! As he walked past a pair of chatting humans he sniggered in amusement.
One of the women threw him a rude glare but kept walking. This only caused Blacknail to snigger harder. He was so amazing! Now he just had to find some food, and then locate his tribe.
The hobgoblin scanned the nearby wooden booths. They were covered in delicious looking treats, but at least one human was watching over each of them. Blacknail grinned smugly; that didn’t seem like it would be a problem.
The hobgoblin did a quick walk down the street and back to pick a first target. Eventually, he settled on a booth being operated by a fat man that appeared to be selling some sort of meat pastry. Their spicy and meaty aroma made his mouth water.
Blacknail watched the man carefully for a few minutes from the across the street. When he had the man’s mannerisms down he made his move, and began his walk by of the booth.
The fat man watched him approach from the corner of his eye, but seemed unconcerned. Blacknail was just another random person on the street. As he reached the booth the fat man looked up and away from the hobgoblin, towards a scantily clad woman who was walking by.
Instantly, Blacknail’s hand shot out and grabbed several pastries. Quick as a striking snake the hand then withdrew out of sight and back beneath his cloak. The hobgoblin picked up his pace ever so slightly and swerved to disappear into a nearby alley before the man even noticed anything was missing.
Once safely out of sight within the alley the hobgoblin stuffed his face full of meat pies. They were so very delicious! Ugh, he couldn’t eat them fast enough. They were just too good.
Blacknail began coughing and choking as he fought down the urge to threw up from eating too quickly. That didn’t stop him from devouring the last succulent pie as he shivered violently in excitement though. The delicious taste was worth it.
After a few more dashes out to liberate food that wasn’t being used Blacknail had filled his stomach. He then took a brief rest to let his stomach settle before continuing on his quest to find his tribe. It quickly grew even darker out as the hobgoblin searched the quickly emptying streets.
Eventually, all the lights went out and all the humans disappeared. Blacknail cursed as he stood alone in the middle of a completely empty cobblestone street. During his search he hadn’t managed to find any trace of Herad or the others. Well, at least he was in no danger of starving to death…
With a tired yawn the hobgoblin decided to abandon his hunt for now, and find somewhere to sleep. After thinking it over for a minute he thought the best place to look was the area where he had first entered the city. Most the buildings there had been empty and abandoned. They were also a little worse for wear but he didn’t care. As long as they kept the rain and wind away it was fine.
Blacknail’s cloaked form slipped silently through the now pitch black streets. The sky overhead was heavy with unseen clouds that blotted out the heavens’ light. Even the hobgoblin had some difficulty seeing where he was going. His nose however worked fine.
Soon, Blacknail was back where he had started earlier that night. He selected one of the nearby houses as his territory for the night. The one he had chosen was a squat wooden structure with a small upper floor. There was a hole in the roof but it was still mostly intact and would serve as a shelter.
It was also the house that smelled the least of humans and rot. Unfortunately, it also smelled strongly of rats so Blacknail went around and urinated on the walls to mark the territory as his own. That would keep them away while he slept, and if not then he would simply not have to look very far to find some breakfast.
The stairs up to the upper room had collapsed but Blacknail had no trouble climbing up using its remains. Once he was on the second floor he found the driest corner and set up his blankets. With that done he looked around and gave a satisfied nod. No humans would be able to sneak up on him while he rested there, and the rats probably couldn’t either.
When Blacknail woke up the next morning the sun was at its peak in the sky. So, it wasn’t really the morning at all anymore. No rats, dogs, cats, or humans had disturbed his sleep.
The hobgoblin got up and looked out of the nearby window. It only gave him a good view of the nearby empty alley, but he could see the sky as well. It was cloudy overhead and the sun was hidden but it was still far too bright for him to be comfortable going out.
Of course his only other option was to stay in the ruined house for hours until it got dark, and see if the rats ever showed up. After thinking it over Blacknail decided he would be fine exploring the city as long as he stayed away from people.
The city was a maze of shadowy alleys and narrow streets so it wouldn’t be that hard to keep out of sight. Besides, he smelled something delicious and really wanted to taste it.
Blacknail slipped his cloak back on and hopped down to the first floor. After looking around to make sure no one was around he crept carefully outside and into the sunlight.
He then decided the first thing he was going to do was find some breakfast. Hopefully, he would stumble across some clue to Herad’s location as well.
So Blacknail started wandering the alleys and back streets of the city. He saw a few people around but he kept his distance from them, and they stayed away from him as well. The people of Daggerpoint weren’t known for their friendliness.
Once he accidently walked past a man covered in rags who was crouched under a ledge without seeing or hearing him. When the man unexpectedly spoke Blacknail jumped up in surprise before dashing away.
It wasn’t his proudest moment, but that was how Blacknail found himself standing outside the back of a large colorful building. It was only two stories tall but still was one of the tallest buildings around.
It had a solid stone and mortar foundation and was solid wood above that. Unlike all the other buildings around it seemed in good repair, and looked freshly painted. Most importantly there was a rather interesting aroma wafting down from one of the second floor windows, and there didn’t seem to be anyone nearby.
Feeling intrigued the hobgoblin gave a quick look around before slipping over to the wall, and beginning to scale the outside of the building. His claws found purchase easily enough and it didn’t take him long to reach the window ledge. He hung below it for a few seconds and listened, but didn’t hear movement in the room on the other side.
Reassured, he slowly raised his head over the window sill and looked within. His first thought was that the room on the other side was rather fancy looking. In fact it was the fanciest room he had ever seen.
The walls were dark red and luxurious wooden furniture lined the room. A huge carved wooden canopy bed dominated the center of the chamber. Red curtains hung from the bed’s canopy and it was piled high with ruffled sheets and pillows.
Blacknail however focused on the wooden stand just on the other side of the window that held a silver platter and a jug of water. The delicious aroma he smelled was wafting up from there.
With an eager growl Blacknail climbed through the window and crept quietly over to the tray of food. He eyed it critically for a second. There looked to be some kind of cheese, slices of red meat in some sort of sauce, and bits of fruit on it.
They all looked tasty, but the cheese smelled so good he began to drool. He reached for the food with a happy smile on his face, but the smile slipped as he suddenly heard the sound of sheets shifting.
“What’s going on here?” a sleepy but smooth voice asked from behind him.
Blacknail jerked in surprise, before quickly pulling his hood down further and raising a hand to hide his face. He then spun around towards the source of the unexpected noise. He was just in time to see the mass of blankets and pillows on the bed be thrown aside to reveal the form of a completely naked human female with long dark hair.
The sheets slid down her body as she gracefully pushed herself off the bed and stood up, before glaring suspiciously at Blacknail. Much to his surprise she didn’t betray a single shred of fear at his presence.
Luckily, she didn’t appear to have a plate in her hands.
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