Maruc’s broad grin touched his lips again. “Don’t worry about Nicolai’s ashes, he’ll keep.”
“Gregor, I see you haven’t mentioned further sightings of the goblins. This leads me to believe you came here by a circuitous route, deliberately and wisely avoiding them. Else you would have arrived here before we had, had you fled before them.” observed Miklos, “The pattern of advance is simple and expedient.”
Miklos continued, “Logic therefore dictates one course of action is to follow their path of destruction. If anything, we shall discover where they mustered originally. There may be clues we find on the way. And we still have no idea of the origin of the token.”
“And we may yet meet a Vyalian elf who might provide more information,” added Maruc. “Assuming that Mistress Fyodoryll here is not a common example of the local elven population.”
Stephan couldn’t hide his contempt when addressing Fyodoryll. “Well, she-elf, are you one of these Vyalians? Or do you know how we can contact them?”
“How do you contact the Vyalia? You don’t,” she replied, laughing. “Those ones keep to themselves.”
“Following the gobs’ war path backwards may yield information,“ agreed Stephan. “We could still make a trip to High Forge to see if any news of the attacks has arrived there and see to Feldard’s promise.”
Again looking upon Fyodoryll with bitterness, Stephan asked, “Did the gobs who sold to you say anything? You’ll be doing yourself a favor to tell us all you know. Where were they headed? Did they mention their orders?”
“They went back to their tribehome, I suppose,” she replied. “It was a quick transaction, and I didn’t ask.”
“Since no one recognises the tower emblem and we are blessed with folk with a wide knowledge of the Dymrak, I can only assume no one is aware of any ruined or long abandoned towers within the forest?” Miklos paused a second looking around the room. “Then this does not refer to a local structure.”
With his prisoners now in the hands of the Sukiskyn, and the horse-trader elf unwilling or unable to give up any further information Feldard looked over the rough drawn map. He couldn’t understand why the humans and elf thought traveling AWAY from the goblins current trail would help any. They had been heading southeast. So southeast is the direction the party should go—and the dwarf was blunt about stating so. “Goblins are not devious, they aren’t overly smart. It’s not like they would think to double back on their tracks or change directions without an obstacle being in their way. Their lair lies to the southeast. If chasing them is what you folk think we need to do.. then that is the direction we need to go. Hasan can pick up their trail further along. It’ll likely be more visible after the rain. What with the mud and all.”
“Into the heart of the forest is surely our path,” agreed Hasan. “Our only choices now are whether to retrace the line of attack, along the northern outskirts of this wood, take up the trail from Fyodoryl’s trading post, or perhaps we could travel down the river, which also seems to come from the forestheart. That may be our fastest way, though ambush again would be a danger. Still, with a speedy boat, that might be our fastest path. I am comfortable with any of these paths.”
While the group discussed their next move, the Sukiskynians were busy preparing a feast. Traditionally, a great meal would be served in the hall to welcome guests to the homestead. Though the group was saddened at the loss of Taras, they were determined to show their gratitude to the newcomers, and celebrate their own survival. A large pig was roasted, and various family members endeavoured to provide entertainment. Mash sang. Kuzma told stories of old Traladaran legend. The women danced. Gregor and his lumbermen told jokes.
Pyotr took the group on a quick tour of the clan’s treasures. The large, ornately carved antique chair of the clanhead. A stuffed eagle and great dire wolf’s head. A gold-plated hunting horn. And two great tapestries. One depicted wild, running horses, and the other was very old, with a large, woven colorful geometric pattern.
After the food was consumed, Traladaran ale flowed freely amongst the family and their guests. Despite their attempt at putting their troubles aside for the night, discussions shifted back to the goblins. Pyotr made it clear that everything the family owned was available to the group—provisions, equipment and, of course, the horses obtained from Fyodoryll.