When it seemed Linvin could go no further, he heard the rippling of the wind on the water of the spring ahead. His heart was lifted as he summoned all his strength and forced his legs to finish the march.
When the clearing came into view, Linvin stopped and did not move. The boar fell to the ground as though Linvin simply forgot it was there. His eyes beheld a sight he could never have even imagined. Anvar, Bander and Rander were surrounded by goblins.
Anvar lay face down on the ground alongside four goblins he presumably had killed before being overrun. The twins were bound like steers and were propped against the login the camp. From time to time a goblin, appearing to be their leader, would prod one of his captives with the blunt end of a spear and yell at them. Linvin was too far to understand what was said. He guessed that either Bander and Rander did not speak or else their answer was not acceptable, because the Leader struck them most severely moments later.
As the interrogation continued, Linvin climbed a tree to stay out of view. From his vantage point, he peered through the leaves to see the clearing. He took stock of the situation.
The goblins were not of the same variety as the Marsh Goblins he had fought years before. Their skin was closer to the color of mud than the sage-green complexions he had seen in Valia. A mark on their foreheads clearly identified them as belonging to the Cangon Clan from the Goblin Nations to the far northwest. Known to be primitive, even by goblin standards, they nevertheless outnumbered all the other clans combined.
Their stature, too, was different than their southern brethren. Cangons were more squat and rounded. Though similar in height, the Cangons far outweighed the others. With short arms and legs, they were known to prefer spears to using swords. The band making camp before Linvin, however, bore both weapons as well as custom-fit leather armor to handle their girth.
In all, Linvin counted twenty goblins still alive. Several stood guard in a perimeter while the others lit fires in hearths they looked accustomed to using.
Linvin fixed his gaze on Anvar and hoped to see any sign of life. His uncle did not stir. The distance was too great to be able to tell if he was breathing. Linvin momentarily despaired.
What have I done? he thought to himself. I have led my only remaining family to their deaths. They trusted me to lead them and I led them into peril. What was I thinking? This was the only water around and I did not even consider that it might attract others here as well? I am a fool, but the fool is not the one paying for the lapse in judgment; they are! I should be down there with my kin.
His self-pity was short-lived. He knew he must act. Every moment, the morning light grew brighter and his chance of being discovered increased. Bander and Rander still appeared to be alive, for the time being at least.As Linvin watched them suffering, a great rage brewed within him. He clenched his fists and gnashed his teeth. I will annihilate those miserable slugs! Not one shall escape my wrath,but I must keep my composure. It is time to act.