A/N: So, I've written the next two chapters together so I may as well post them together. I'm hoping to get another couple written before I go back to work next week (boo work!) but after then I'll likely update of a weekend as much as I can. Hope that you all enjoy the next two chapters. First another Graham and second an Emma. Both meeting some new faces, one of which should be pretty easy to figure out who their fairytale persona is. *grins* Hope that you enjoy and as always, thank you for reading!




The Company of Wolves.

Chapter 2: Fiend and Foe.

It was a well known fact throughout the Enchanted Forest that Goblins lived deep down in the depths of the earth; a subterranean other realm of sorts. Down where the air held an unnatural chill they carved their castles out of the rock itself. They hated to be warm, or so rumour had it, cold-blooded creatures that they were, with heads and feet as hard as the stones that they lived beneath. They had no need for helms or boots for they could crack a boulder with either. Their teeth grew like tusks from the corners of their wide mouths -toad-like and boarish in the same instance- and their skin was thick and leathery. A few goblin tribes from further north (where the weather outside was colder, and thus so was their home in the depths) even had scales; of blue or green or pewter grey.

They were smaller than their distant cousins, the Trolls. About three quarters the height of a man, but thicker-set also and a damn sight stronger. Even the a goblin-woman would have no trouble crushing a man's skull beneath her foot or in the wide palm of her hand. And they had a penchant for doing so if an unlucky miner dug too deep and too greedily.

The Goblin Wars that had ravaged the mountain kingdoms of the North centuries ago were still a cautionary tale that were often discussed between the Kings and Princes and Lords of the south (where they were far from the chilling reach in warmer climes). Tactics for facing a goblin adversary were still taught to and practiced by knights of the realm, no matter their location. And everyone walked a little softer upon the ground following such conversations, for whilst the wars themselves were long since passed, the incident of King Peter and his daughter, the crowned Princess Irene, was not.

Graham, not being a knight himself, had never been instructed in anything to do with goblins before, apart from what hearsay he had picked up in the taverns and market places. His life had been lived amidst the trees, where the roots had penetrated the ground so deeply that they were like a web, vast and far reaching so that nothing, not even goblins, could have burrowed their way anything less than eight leagues beneath them. He knew enough about goblins though to know to leave them well alone. To keep silent and hidden until they moved on. Perhaps if he could just wait until they settled down to sleep (as they did during daylight hours)…

The small groups drew to a halt upon the bank in front of Graham's hollow tree. Five of them in all, dressed in black leather trousers, greaves and gauntlets only. One of them snarled (a slightly more wiry looking male who had braided his hair and tied chicken bones at the ends like beads. The leader of the band then.) and shoved his nearest comrade roughly, gesturing to the large, moving sack that they carried with them.

Goblish was not a language that Graham had been very familiar with (though by all accounts it was similar to native Trollish and he'd known enough of that to get by in the Enchanted Forest before the curse). But this groups seemed confident enough that there were no listening ears nearby to drift in and out of conversation in the Common Tongue. He strained to listen.

"Make sure its tied up tightly this time. I don't want another detour running after it. Cost us three bleedin' days to catch it again."

The other goblin male (for the other three looked to be female) pulled himself back to his feet and lumbered over to where the sack had been left slumped at the base of a tree, nestled and curled between the roots. He muttered beneath his breath, shooting a murderous glare back over his shoulder, but the leader was squabbling with the women, his attention set upon the flagon of what Graham assumed was lamb's or deer's blood (a favoured drink of the species) from the colour of it smeared across their chins and faces.

"Bloody stupid kid." The lower ranking male grumbled a little louder as he stooped. His movements were jerking and furious as he untied the rope about the sack's mouth and reached in, fisting his hand inside it and drawing out the limp form that had been trapped within.

The child could've been no more than Henry's age, nine or ten. She was smaller than Henry though, thinner, paler, colder. Gagged and bound. Prisoner. Her eyes were wide as lamps as she looked up into the face of her captor, fear filled and yet resigned in that same instance, but he only sneered and shoved her face away from him, barked for her to stand if she knew what was good for her.

So. That was their reason for talking in the Common Tongue. So that she might hear. So that she would be frightened.

As Sheriff, Graham had come to the rescue of many children on countless other occasions. Kids who got lost. Kids who ran away from home. Kids who got stuck up trees or on rooftops. Kids who couldn't swim and got caught in the current of the river. And though their reason for rescue had been somewhat less serious than a marauding pack of goblins, that instinct, to save and protect, had Graham reaching to his hip for a gun that was no longer there. Had it not come through with him like his clothing had? Had he lost it in one the bogs that he'd tripped in? Little matter. He grit his teeth together as he continued to watch, the goblin tossing a rope up over a branch of the tree that they stood beneath and tied a noose about the girl's throat. She sniffed, winced as the rough twine caught her hair -muddy brown and clinging to face and cheek and neck- and scratched at her skin.

"Cheer up, Child." He sneered at her as he continued, tying her hands and then ankles and then finally a last rope about her waist that anchored her to the tree trunk. "Pretty soon we'll reach the castle and then you'll wish that you were back with us again. Just say the word and I'll eat you myself and save you from the-"

"Stop talking to it!" the goblin leader roared from the other side of their camp. The women have begun digging the shallow burrows that they slept in when above ground.


It felt like forever before morning began to dawn.

The goblins ate and laughed and toasted their great victories with their bloody drink and Graham could only remain where he was hidden, watching the child strung up like a puppet. She wavered upon her legs, knees threatening to buckle but she knew that she had to keep standing if she did not want to strangle herself. There was some fight in her yet then.

Good girl, Graham thought at her. Keep it up. Just a little bit longer…

There were no birds that heralded the arrival of morning, but a quiet lightening to the gloom that served to eventually part the company of creatures and chased them down into their separate burrows for they did not care for sunlight much.

Graham waited another hour more before he dared move, just to be safe.

Treading carefully and wide of the campsite at first, he could already feel her eyes upon him. Even before he looked over at her, his palms held up in a gesture learned from his time as Sheriff; soothing, reassuring and above all showing her that he meant no harm, that he was there to help her.

She studied him warily however, eyes azure blue and eerily wide. Shivering a little, whether from the cold or fear, he did not know; probably both. And then she caught sight of the golden sheriff's badge pinned to his waistcoat above his heart and her brow smoothed with visible relief. Did she know him then? Had their paths crossed back in Storybrooke?

All questions that he could ask later, when they were both out of danger. For now, he needed to focus.

Painstakingly slowly he made his way across to her tree, pausing when a twig snapped beneath his toes or a snore sounded louder from inside a burrow. But he made it eventually, touching her lightly upon the shoulder with one hand in what he hoped she took for the reassurance it was, before he pressed a finger to his lips.

Silence, you must be quiet.

She understood, nodded and held still as he gently pulled the gag from her mouth.

"Thank you," she mouthed silently.

"Keep watch." He responded, equally silent, pointing his two forefingers at his own eyes before jerking a thumb over his shoulder.

And she nodded again as he went to work trying to loosen the knots of her bindings.


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