Hasan stepped forward. “These takings cannot be accepted. While it is the authorities of this land that are responsible for your safety, we are here now and cannot ignore the evil you face. We will help you root out these slavetakers. You must have some sense of where the goblin clans lived. Who here can guide us there? Who here would join us in an attack? Now is the time for the people of the Dymrak to band together.” The Quiet Way be damned, he thought to himself.
After he listened to his companions’ reactions to his proposal of an attack on the goblin lairs, Hasan went to Fyodoryll a last time. “Your time for a decision has come. You can help us. Come now to try to end this scourge, and make amends to this family, so your trading may start anew in peace. Or you will stay here in this homestead, subject to their protection.” Hasan nodded at the floor below, which was scrubbed but still showed some black blood and grit between its rough pine timbers. “They protected two goblins that attacked their home here.”
Fyodoryll considered her options, and went with the latter. She was not about to risk her neck getting caught up in some human-goblinoid conflict.
“Gregor.” Maruc nodded, “Yuri, Grisha and Grishkal, I am Maruc. The dwarf with the big axe is Feldard and this elf is Prince Hasan. The dashing fellow in the corner is Miklos, Stephan you know I think. Pyrtor do you have a map of the surrounding area? Can you mark on Cherkass, Hokol and Segenyev as well?” when Pyrtor returned with the map he asked, “Gregor can you detail goblin numbers, and note when each settlement was attacked and if possible which clans were involved. And if possible which way they fled each assault?”
The men provided further detail. The lumber camp had been attacked the night before Sukiskyn. Cherkass the night before, Segenyev and Hokol prior to that. When Gregor described the attackers, it was evident that it had been the same crew that attacked Sukiskyn.
“Yuri? If I may ask you a question. Did anyone mention the name Vlaak? And do you recognize the tower image on this token?” he said producing the silvered disk.
Yuri shook his head. He had not seen the tower. Miklos continued on to ask the others, but none recognized the structure.
Feldard greeted each of the newcomers with a gruff grunt and a nod, then continued his watch over the still bound and gagged elf.
It was becoming less and less surprising how quickly his companions lost sight of their own tasks that needed to be seen to—not that aiding these clans wasn’t important—but Feldard was impatient to get on with getting to High Forge and then Threshhold. He’d made a promise to his fallen companion Nicolai and it was an oath he intended to keep.
“It is good to see you again,” Stephan greeted the four. “But I’m sorry it’s under such a pall.”
Stephan listened carefully to Gregor and the others. He was glad his new companions were also listening. The more minds on this the better, he thought.
Stephan asked, “Did you hear of a hobgoblin called ‘Vlaak’? He is a leader, we believe, of the group that attacked Sukiskyn.”
Unfortunately, none of the men knew much of the goblins of the Dymrak, and had not heard of Vlaak.
Aside to Feldard, Stephan said, “Master dwarf, I am torn. I would see you fulfill your oath but we must not let an opportunity to strike elude us.”
Stephan feeling of desperation was evident on his face.
“This slavery…it must stop. You say the gobs are taking slaves. Could this be the main purpose of their raids? We must discover where the slaves are being taken and learn what they being forced to do.”
Stephan considered the possibilities. They did not know the location of the Wolfskull lair, and the trail had been wiped away by the rains. They did know that the goblins were headed to the southeast. It would seem that they would have to rely on word of mouth as he had suggested previously. But, who could they ask? The Red Blade king was dead, and they had no other goblins to interrogate. There were the Vyalia elves, of course. They had intimate knowledge of all parts of the Dymrak. They were reclusive and spread out though—not easy to find.
The untamed wild inlands of the deep forest were dangerous and not well-travelled by civilized folk.