Chapter XVII: Battles For The Ages

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Djar’s troops readied to march just before dawn. There would be no surprise; and army of this size would be pretty obvious marching on the city. They would leave a small force of three hundred men with fifty trolls to watch the camp, for they were leaving a few supplies and wagons. Some of the humans were not yet rested enough to fight effectively anyway, so Djar wanted to keep them as guards and in reserve. Elras, Josh Bucklyn and Omag – though the troll protested vehemently – would be staying in the camp as well. The camp would also be used as a potential place of retreat, should the unthinkable occur, and Omag was charged with the duties of maintaining the camp, creating more beds for the coming wounded, and all the other logistical things that went along with battle.

The large force did, however, bring enough food and supplies to set up a forward camp, if needed, and they also brought the siege equipment that Elyan had brought from Illum – a crucial element of their attack.

As Djar rode alongside the procession, with Mack and Halon trotting on each side of his huge palomino stallion, several of the troops cheered or saluted. Some cried oaths. He smiled as he rode by the supply line; Snork was there, packed per usual, this time with medical supplies.

"Hey, boy, good to see you," he said.

"Oh, you finally met up with old Snork, eh?" It was Trever. He looked splendid in his armor and on a huge black gelding with a long, silvery mane.

"Hello. Are you ready?"

"Yes. You?"

"I think so. It’s really a pretty straightforward attack."

"Well, let’s ride!"

Both men kicked their mounts and were off toward the front of the long procession. It would be slow going through the forest trails, but when they cleared the forest, they would swing up the east side of the city, where defenses were weakest. Djar knew of a stretch of the city walls that were in need of repair. They were old and crumbling in a few spots, and fronted a large, grassy field about a half mile from the forest. It was the perfect place to launch their assault. The walls were so bad in places, that they could create huge breaches via the catapults. Goff’s trolls said they could take down a few sections with some of the huge hammers they brought. Some of the leaders were surprised at the lack of preparedness of the city, but Djar reminded them that there had been no real threats on Mahhrain in decades, and the goblins had signed several treaties and were purchasing much of their food – at very good prices – from the farmers outside the city. Of course, the walls were one of the civic projects his father had planned to initiate before the goblins came thundering out of the north.

"C’mon guys!" it was Cookie, reigning in her mount, a sleek black mare with just a touching of ebony plates to protect her more vital areas.

The other leaders were already assembled.

"Are you ready, sir," asked Elayha, who was eager to signal the trumpeters to sound the march.

"Sound the march, please, and sound the signal for the TreeGuard."

Alya and her Treeguard would be leaving the rest of the group. They were going to fan out all along the side walls of the city, trying to stay hidden It was midday before they reached the edge of the forest. They only had a hint of one small goblin reconnaissance party, but they weren’t able to catch them before several of them could make their escape. It was no matter, however, for soon they would be very visible and assembling at the city walls.

Djar looked out on the grassy field and the city beyond. It was the perfect place for his offensive. The hill sloped downward so he could see into the city walls in several locations.

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