Elwyn Morrowshire was not pleased to the Duke’s goblins in her vegetable patch.

“The Duke offers protection to those who accept his rule and pay their taxes,” said their leader, who held a rusty broadsword in one hand and a sack of Elwyn’s fresh-dug potatoes in the other. “If you fail to do so, why, there’s no one to protect you from all manner of unsavories. Like us.”

Planting herself in their path, with a sickle in one hand and a scythe in the other, Elwyn responded tersely. “I accept the Duke’s rule,” she said. “I pay my taxes. There’s a sack of potatoes just like that at the Duke’s manor.”

“Ah, but that’s just what a rebel and an anarchist and a tax-avoider would say, isn’t it, hmm?” replied the goblin. “I have it on good authority that your burg here has been deficient. Even if you did fork over your measly mealy potates, if your neighbors neglect to do the same, your crops are just as forefeit.”

Elwyn straightened her back. She was not a short woman, nor was she slender; a lifetime of work in the fields had given her a powerful stocky build to go with her height. “And why is that? They made the decision to break the law, I made the decision to obey it.”

“But you also made the decision not to encourage them to do what was right. You did not convince them. So you are as guilty as they, don’t you see?”

“I think the Duke has hired you as mercenaries to shake even more money and food out of people who have already given all they can.” Elwyn said. “I think you’d better leave my meager potato field, which I work alone with my bare hands, and never return.”

The goblin leader waved his followers forward with his sword. “Take all she has. If she resists, cut her down.”

He didn’t even have time to utter a surprised squawk when Elwyn brought her scythe sweeping down and cleaved his head from his body. The nearest of his posse found themselves sorely put upon, with one sent flying by the butt of the scythe and another hooked in the ear with the sickle and badly bloodied.

“I’ve raised, and buried, three children on this land,” Elwyn growled. “I’ve met, married, and buried two husbands here as well. Nearly sixty years I’ve been quiet and loyal to your duke, and this is my reward, eh?”

Casting aside her farm tools, Elwyn picked up the fallen goblin leader’s sword. It was rusty and dull but well-made. She took a few practice swings as the remaining goblins circled her warily, trying to get a feel for how the thing balanced. She remembered the few sword strokes her first husband, Mougin, had taught her thirty-five years ago—strong strokes for self-defense from a man who had been at war.

Without their mouthy leader, the goblins attacked in a disorganized fashion, one at a time. Elwyn crushed the first one’s skull and took his shield. The second instead unslung a crossbow and crannequin, circling and cranking before loosing a bolt. Elwyn’s shield took the blow, her skills as an occasional hunter of small game on full display. Before the goblin could fire again she was upon him; he escaped with his right arm broken, dangling, and flopping uselessly at his side.

Elwyn Morrowshire did not know if then, but she had taken her first step to becoming Grandmother Elwyn, the most skilled and feared rebel in the history of Solanshire.

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