“On now,” urged Hasan. “To the horsefarm. Stephan must lead the way. Where will your brother defend himself?” He pulled an arrow from the quiver by his side. His heart pounded; a bloody din arose in his ears for the second time today. Battle awaited.
At least I’ll not have to don my armour in a rush! thought Maruc as he hurried after the much faster elf. “Feldard,” he said as they sprinted toward the conflagration. “I’d suggest surprising them. So try to avoid your infamous battle cries… for the moment.”
“Blessed Halav! ” Stephan ran towards the flames. “This way! To the bridge”
At the back of the group Miklos sighed as his friends speed off. “No chance for sublety then?” he said at their retreating backs trying to keep the sarcasm out of his voice. He spent a few moments realising that all of his spells, although not lethal, were indescriminate. And sending people to sleep in a blaze was tantamount to murder. Web in a blaze? Useless. He needed to get closer. Perhaps a situation might present itself.
Feldard ran following the others trying to keep up with the elf and humans, but his shorter legs were no match over the sustained distance.
As he ran, he unhooked his crossbow from the side of his pack and reached back for a bolt. He paused his stride long enough to pull back and ready his weapon, but kept it unloaded until he had a definite target.
The forest ended on the bank of a small, but fast-flowing riverlet spanned by a wooden bridge, which lead to the gate of a palisaded homestead. The buildings seemed intact, but were lit by flames leaping from a barn to the left of the bridge. In a clearing on the far side of the barn, the attackers could be seen—an indeterminate but large group goblins. On the other side of the compound, to the right, beyond the main part of the homestead come the cries of frightened horses.
Maruc lengthened his stride and scooping his shield round he unhooked his flail. Trying to count their number, he squinted as his eyes became accustomed to picking them out against the blaze.
“The unarmed will be inside the compound!” shouted Stephan, indicating the women and children, “Here! ‘Round this way to the gate! ”
As they continued toward the river, the dwarf spotted movement in the trees. He shouted a warning as spears launched at them from the undergrowth. Maruc and Feldard were the closest to the attack, and thus were able to defend the group with their armor—the priest added a minor wound to his growing collection.
Eight goblins, garbed in cloaks of wolfskin and armed with axes, charged forth. Stephan recognized their dress. Unfortunately, these were not ill-trained, half-crazed pawns of the Iron Ring. These were Wolfskull, the most dangerous among the goblin clans of the Dymrak. Splitting into pairs, the fellowship of the river engaged their attack.