“Maybe there be only a few of these devils left,” Stephan exclaimed in a hushed voice. “Maybe they’ve set plenty of fires to give the illusion of many.” He peered out at the goblins. “Or maybe,” he said in more sober tone, “we need to go out there and parlay…” Stephan grabbed a few gold coins from his purse. He looked at Darya, “Please, may I borrow that bracelet, yes, that one that glitters so.”
Taking the proffered jewels and his coins, Stephan climbed on a stool to the windhole. Opening it, he let the goblins see the white apron and himself since the gob had already had a good look at him.
Seeing the goblins’ measured advance, Stephan slowly walked backwards, apron held high—in the perhaps vain hope that the bright white would draw more fire than his body would. He backed slowly towards the tower door. If the plan was to work, he’d have to get the gobs to go in. He readied himself, however, to dive for cover and draw his weapon if necessary.
The piercing scream of the “woman” penetrated the crackling of many fires, filling the audio void left by the cessation of goblin chanting. He wondered how Hasan and Feldard were getting on. “I must give them time,” he thought to himself.
His backward pace matched that of the goblins. He kept a silent prayer to Havlav running through his mind to calm his nerves. Striving to make no sudden movements, it was a cruel fate that a fallen, burned timber slipped his vision and caught his boot in its backward gait. He stumbled and fell full on his arse. But managed to keep his tongue.
The goblins halted issuing sudden, gurgling grunts. Slings and spears were raised. They were clearly on edge.
“Blessed Halav,” Stephan muttered to himself. He slowly raised again the apron and somehow managed to again gain his feet. He gave a slow nod and chose to keep his face flaccid. No emotions would be best, he thought. He resumed his steady “retreat”, never turning his back on the goblins…
It was tense waiting at the base of the tower. Maruc stood with the door ajar shielding him as much as possible. “Hurry up Stephan.” he mumbled under his breath more to keep himself company that any real fear for the capable warriors life.
Maruc was pretty convinced that they could walk out of this situation with a determined push if they weren’t responsible for the more infirm members of the Sukiskyn clan. Hoisted up by his own morals! He grinned to himself. But maybe that was a thought to share with the others, perhaps there could be a way of breaking out with the children and the old. A cart? The horses were gone though. And would they want to abandon the place? Probably not.
“I might be a comforting face to them,” quipped Stephan. Calling out in the common tongue, “Our treasure is piled inside. We are prepared to destroy it if our terms are not met!”
And he dangled the bejeweled bracelet such that the moon and torchlight burst upon the crystals. He also jangled the purse of coins and threw a few gold to the ground some distance between the goblins and the tower. “Like leading ducks with bread crumbs.”
Miklos knew he had to hold their attention. Arrayed about him with handfulls of arrows the better archers of the household. “Let them come closer.” he said. A long minute ticked by, the tension in the room was palpable. “Closer.” He stretched the word….
The lead wolfrider could probably smell them from where he sat barking his ugly commands. “Don’t rush. Pick your targets.” Miklos advised. “Gather closer together you Sons of Sows! Or this will be a waste of time. Just one more round the corner…”
Stephan almost backed into Maruc. The priest grabbed him and pulled him through the doorway and grabbed the table to once again use as a makeshift door. As they rushed into the building, the goblins launched spears at the pair of defenders. Stephan grunted loudly in pain as his side was pierced.
“Let ‘em have it Miklos!”
“NOW!” shouted the mage.
Miklos was loathe to use his last spell in case it was required for his returning friends. He bit his lip, as Pyotr, Taras and Darya peppered the cursing goblins with arrows. Pyotr dropped one of the wolfriders, as the other ordered the foot soldiers to attack. They charged forward. The Red Blade fired their slings, but the protection of the towers battlements shielded the archers from them for the moment.
Miklos sped across to the other side of the Tower to see if he could see where the Dwarf & Elf had got to. He saw the two were just reaching the treeline.
“Come on, Feldard, no time for sneaking,” urged Hasan. He pulled the dwarf to his feet and jogged southeast into the woods.
The dwarf silently cursed the full moon above and made sure his cloak still covered his armour as he lowered himself to the ground and began crawling forward, with any luck the goblins would be looking to the tower and not to the rolling, grass covered ground. He scanned the woods ahead. He was still too far to make out heat signatures, especially with the fires—he hoped the same was true for the goblins—that the fires impeded their night vision.
Feldard glanced to Hasan, making sure that the elf wasn’t getting too far ahead him.
As they reached the edge of the forest, the elf’s advanced hearing detected something was not quite right. Though Hasan had limited contact with humans, too his ears, the pitch of the screams were not quite right. They were a bit too…gutteral. His eyes opened wide. It was a decoy!