Chapter XV: Fralgarzener Strikes

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Two and a half days after the raven flew over Djar and his companions, both Elras and Elyan were locked away in Aeilronic’s travel wagon. The priests had readied the army in six days, which was phenomenal for them, and they were making better time than Elras expected; he was impressed with his brother’s leadership. The Treeguard commander figured Djar had only started out six days ahead of them, and would probably only be able to make up another three to five days due to the small party’s quicker traveling time – especially through the mountains – so he was pleased. The long procession of supply wagons and the enormous travel wagon would keep them going at a slower pace than Djar and his two companions, but having all their provisions was well worth it. They had food to last months and extra weapons, medical supplies, hardware, building supplies, tents, extra clothing and virtually anything else more than three thousand warriors would need to go cross-country. They also carted several large catapults, scaffolding and a variety of other siege equipment for the coming battle. Plus, Aeilronic’s travel wagon made an excellent command and control center – and great accommodations. Both men weren’t used to luxuries such as the wagon provided when they were traveling with troops. But maybe the best part was having Garin and his First Brothers with them. This small company of twenty-four men and women were the finest warriors in Illum and, like him, carried weapons of great renown. He was also glad that just before they left, Dymorla told him she’d be sending a familiar with them – a hawk she was able to find and enchant. It would be good to know that his lord, Aeilronic, would know of his whereabouts and progress. 

They were huddled on the pillowed floor of the wagon with night descending. They had several maps of Mahhrain and the North Durn Forest scattered about.

“We’ll have to cross the Astabor here, it’s the only village with large enough barges to get us across without too much delay. Then, I think we should come up this trail here,” said Elras, pointing to a little used trail that led directly into the city from the southeast. “We can take this side trail over to it so we won’t be going far out of our way and they’ll expect any force to come out of the west, I’d wager. Then we can take this trail back over to our designated meeting spot … here.”

“I have no idea what they’ll expect. From everything we’ve been told by Dymorla, we can expect they’ll know we’re coming long before we get close. We’ll simply come up with several plans for differing contingencies and brief the commanders on each. Fluidity is most important. And now that I command this operation – at least until we meet up with Djar – we won’t have my other brothers’ sometimes maddening indecision to hamper us.”

A hard pounding on the back door suddenly interrupted their planning.

“Sirs, you need to come out here immediately, and please bring your weapons. We’re under attack by a large goblin raiding party and … something else.” It was one of the few remaining retainers. 

Both men grabbed their weapons, jumped out of the wagon and mounted their tethered horses.  

“There!” cried Elras pointing to a skirmish at the very back of the long procession.

“Come, brother!” yelled Elyan, Keeper Prime of the Books of Illum and an accomplished warrior in his own right. He swung his carved quarterstaff up over his head and spurred his mount on toward the cloud of rising dust. 

What they saw nearly made their hearts sink. Dozens of their men lay dead and dying on the ground. There was a company of goblin raiders fighting viciously, but their men were slowly cutting them down. The real trouble came from two huge goblins wielding glowing swords.

“Tormentors!” cried Elras unleashing three arrows as fast as he could.

The arrows found their way home, sticking into one of the behemoth’s neck and shoulder, but the monster shrugged them off without slowing.

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