“How many would you estimate, Victolin?”
The cavalry leader too, had been watching through his lens. Putting it down, Victolin answered, “Six, maybe seven thousand at most.”
“Not the great host we would expect. Almost what we would be hoping for after two major battles in two days.”
“Sir, we should ride round behind them now and attack from the rear.”
“Yes,” Linvin said calmly. “That sounds like the correct move right now, but they are marching too slowly. They must know they outnumber us by a wide margin. Goblins rarely maintain their composure when battle looms. That is especially true when they expect to win. Yet the army we see marches at a snail’s pace. I do not trust it.”
“They may be unsure of their footing in the fog,” Victolin suggested.
“Perhaps,” answered Linvin, “but we will wait all the same.”
The pikes advanced on Linvin’s line. When they were five hundred paces away, their heads came into view. At two hundred paces, their enemy was totally uncloaked. They wore hides fashioned into armor. Their pikes were nearly three times the height of a man. Various secondary weapons were worn at their sides.
Fardar stared at Linvin’s infantry with great intensity and increasing distress. “Why do your archers not fire? They are well within firing range.”
“Patience, Lord Fardar,” Linvin replied calmly. “Their war chief is fishing right now, but I am not biting.”
Soon the goblins were fifty paces away from the line. They lowered their pikes to point at Sculla’s infantry and marched on in a loose phalanx formation.
Sculla himself was positioned in the middle of the front rank. His men stood at attention, awaiting their leader’s command. “Javelins!” Sculla yelled. The men each grasped one of their javelins and on command, hurled the weapon at their enemy.
The salvo was accurate and lethal. Nearly the entire first line of goblins fell in an instant. The next several rows suffered heavy losses as well. Even so, the army pressed on toward the Valian line. At twenty paces, another round of javelins proved even more effective than the first. Goblins fell, screaming in pain. Without shields, they were easy targets. Even with their horrible losses, the goblins reached the line and attacked.
With the goblins’ front lines decimated, the initial contact was only in a few places along the wall of shields, leaving large gaps in the marsh dwellers” ranks. Feverishly, the goblins struck out again and again with their pikes, but their blows were blunted by the disciplined formation.
“Arrows?” asked Fardar.
“Not at this time, Lord Fardar,” Linvin answered patiently. “In the previous two battles, we held them at the wall and did our damage with arrows. Their war chief is testing me. First, he wants to see if we have archers. If we do, he wants me to exhaust my arrows on his weaker troops.”
“Then why not encircle them with your cavalry?”
“Again, Fardar, he looks to see if I have cavalry. This is bait. The trap he hopes to spring waits at the edge of the fog.” Linvin handed the glass to Fardar. In viewing the far edge of the battlefield, he could just barely make out ranks of heavily armored goblins in tight formation.
“We would be caught between two forces.” Linvin explained.