Chapter Fifteen: Lydian's Gambit

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Chapter Fifteen:

Lydian's Gambit

The silence was deafening, then Soren stood and paced. It reminded me of an animal trapped in a cage waiting for the correct moment to escape and rip out their captor's throats. Pacing was not a sign of weakness for him.

"That's impossible," I said, trying not to choke on my fear.

"That's what I thought too," Seppo said. He looked over his shoulder, back toward the nøkken's lair. The swirling water was green. "We need to get out of these caverns. I don't think the nøkken is very happy. Which, isn't a surprise since they're eternally depressed creatures. But still."

"That's what we've been trying to do," Soren grunted. "It's a maze down here, though, and I'd rather not run into any more dragons." Fear tinged his voice. I almost laughed; I spent a hundred years thinking nothing frightened this man but I was wrong.

"Well," Seppo said, "you two haven't been scouting this place for days."

For days? There was no way all three groups of goblins had been able to linger in the mountains without detecting each other. The ambushers on the cliffsides, they must've detected Lydian's group at some point, stomach turned sour. I'll kill a thousand little goblin girls if I have to. Lydian's crazed words now made much more sense.

"You were the ambushers." I turned on Seppo. "It's your fault we're in this mess in the first place!"
Lydian was behind it all along. The mountainside ambush, my subsequent fall, and Rekke's death were all his fault. The golden-eyed goblin girl should've lived; she shouldn't have been in the Hunt. It wasn't like she would've won. She barely had any power but Lydian gutted her anyway.

"How many of you are out here?" I narrowed my eyes, voice hard.

Seppo put his hands up in a submissive motion. "Look, I'm not with them anymore, promise." He pulled out the stiletto he'd given me earlier. "Look, here, I took this to fight the nøkken, take it back."

I snatched the weapon back, though unease still turned in my stomach. "You were the ones responsible for the ambush, for Rekke's death."

"That's how it is, Janneke." There was sadness underneath Soren's calm tone. "People die in this."

"I thought you were on my side with this! We both knew she wasn't going to win." I turned and punched a rock wall, pain shot up my arm and I clenched my wrist. "Go fuck the crows!"

Seppo glanced at Soren. "Is she usually this..." He searched for the right word.

"Finish that sentence, Satupoika, and I will shove that feather staff up your ass," I spat.

"Yes," Soren answered.

I scowled at the men. "So you were the ones who attacked us. Have you been stalking us the whole time?"

Seppo shook his head. "No, we were on the mountain for another reason." A drop of sweat fell from his forehead as he hushed his anxious tone. "And it's got to do with what I need to tell you."

I crossed my arms. "But there are more of you."

"More of them, yes," Seppo said. "Lydian has about twenty-five, or well, I guess twenty-one, men at his disposal. We have three."

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