Messages could also travel the realm more quickly. Such logistical properties alone swung many a battle in their favor.
After years of war and little thought or attention being given to the roads, they began to crumble and had become a sorrowful shadow of their past greatness. Where once disciplined human armies marched like thunder rolling over the land, now goblin armies scurried along like rats. It showed the weakened stature of the empire and the short-term solutions used to bolster its ranks after its decimation in the war with Sartan years before.
Their ride was most uncomfortable. Potholes abounded where freezing and thawing loosened and eventually carried away stones from the well-engineered road. The elves slid back and forth in their prison with every bump along the way. It was clear from the debris on the roadside that advancing and retreating Mandrean Armies used the route on many occasions. Merchant wagon-wheels also did their part to loosen the stones as well.
The only break from the monotony of the trip occurred twice per day when the elves were released from their cage in order to relieve themselves and walk about. An idea occurred to Linvin to try to escape during that time but it was not to be. As though the goblins knew their entire story until that point, they watched them closely and never removed the shackles in spite of many persuasive arguments by Linvin and Anvar. Orders would not be disobeyed again by the troop.
For meals, the prisoners were given goblin rations. They proved to be completely inedible to anyone without the iron digestive track of a goblin. Even the salty biscuits would be welcomed. Instead, they were given rancid meat that had been improperly cured. The water they received was stale but would do. As the days blended into one another, their hunger robbed their strength. 16
The montage of days passed with the landscape before their eyes as the caravan followed the road north. Vineyards eventually gave way to livestock farms and small towns or villages. The people here were fearful of their own forces, having been overtaxed and treated with brutality by the impudent goblins. Townspeople peered through their windows at the elves. Linvin observed their faces as they passed. Each one wore the expression of someone looking at a person about to die.
Parents pulled children out of the streets to clear the path for the passing soldiers. Anything of value was quickly hidden. Kegs of wine were left in the center of town as an offering so the soldiers might take them and leave their home in peace. The ploy was successful as the goblins took up the kegs and continued on their way.