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Dec 5, 2006
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Thursday, July 5, 2007Nachiket's
Nachket’s eyes narrowed as he scanned the skyline cautiously. From his vantage point in the trees, it should have been fairly easy to see quite a distance in most directions; as it was, however, the thick black smoke that the hills here seemed to literally leak out of their pores obstructed the vast majority of his view. He shook his head and began to work his way back down the tree, dropping silently to the ground next to Ramadeur.
Ramadeur jerked a finger in the direction the undead were moving. “Any sign yet?”
“None that I can see.” Nachket shook his head. “It’s too hard to see over the smoke that fills this valley.”
“Then the legends about this place are true as well.” Ramadeur and Nachket began to make their way back to the wagon where Seline was ensconced. “The smoky foothills really do produce smoke. Amazing.”
“Be a great place to hide an army.”
“That it would, yes. I’m assuming that is the reason that Hinton is driving us here; Naguilla’s army must be getting close. His forces are moving faster, the closer to the hills we get; we must be almost on the dragon’s damnable doorstep.”
“… and then?”
“And then… I… don’t know.” Ramadeur’s thoughts were interrupted when an undead man approached, carrying a bag. “Looks like food has arrived.”
“Ugh.” Nachket visibly flinched. “I can’t stand thinking that something dead has touched the food. Are we not to even hunt?”
“We’re to wait, it is out of our hands now. But I fully agree.” Ramadeur yanked the bag out of the undead man’s hands and slung it over his shoulder. “I don’t even want to know why the last few deer they’ve brought to us had teeth marks around their necks.”
Nachket shuddered. “Hinton… will let us go afterwards?”
Ramadeur did not reply. Nachket grew silent as well as they entered the camp and Sandor approached.
Sandor took the bag off of Ramadeur’s shoulder and grinned. “We any closer?”
Nachket shook his head. “Not that I can tell. The smoky foothills earned their namesake today, I couldn’t see a thing.”
“Well, we’ll be there soon… enough…” Sandor’s voice dropped as he looked in the bag. A wry grin split his face as he said, “Actually, I believe things are about to get very interesting, indeed…”
“Why do you say that?”
Sandor reached into the bag and pulled out the decapitated head of a goblin. “How are your taste buds for goblin meat?”
* * *
“Master Grish! Master Grish!” The goblin ran through the camp, blood oozing down his back from his wounds. The other goblins in the camp simply ignored him, though some of the larger ones shoved him aside as he slammed into them.
Finally, the wounded goblin arrived at a large tent and pushed his way through the guards into the interior. Inside, only a small goblin stood, rummaging through a stack of papers. The goblin looked up and snarled, “What is it, fool?”
“Mast… er Grish…” Panting, the goblin collapsed to his knees, trying to catch his breath. “I bring news!”
“You do.” Grish placed the papers back down on the ground and approached the wounded goblin, his hands on his belt. “Well, then tell me.”
Grish frowned. “We’ve cleared them from the tunnels, I’ve promised Naguilla as such. Tell me I’m wrong, and you die here.”
“N… No!” Flailing, the goblin grabbed Grish’s tunic and pulled himself back up. “No! The undead… they’ve found the outer scout postings!”
Grish’s frown deepened. “What is your name and rank?”
“Tharp, scout. I was one of the six scouts on the far side of the smoky foothills. They came in swarms; we could not hold them back, we were not prepared for as many as what came, Master Grish, the undead are coming!” Gibbering madly, the goblin released Grish again and sat back, his voice reaching higher octaves with each sentence.
“How many?” Grish slapped the goblin savagely. “I need to know how many!”
“Over… over a thousand, easy!”
“A thousand.” Grish frowned. “In one location, a thousand is false hope. A thousand undead in one spot means that tens of thousands of undead are scattered throughout the foothills already. We might even be surrounded by now, but I doubt that yet.”
“Good work, Tharp. And rest assured, you do not need to worry about the undead, scout.” Grish walked behind the scout and pulled a wicked knife from his belt, stabbing downwards savagely time and again until the corpse at his feet no longer twitched.
Grish tossed his knife onto the body and left the tent. A few of his officers shot him a questioning look, which the goblin brushed aside with a casual look. Grish moved over to his pony and told the nearest man, “I will be gone for a bit. When I return, I want the patrols doubled just to be on the safe side.”
“Yes sir!” The goblin saluted as Grish spun on his horse and galloped away to the north.
“Wonder what that was about.” One of the lieutenants shot his companion a questioning look.
The companion shrugged. “No idea, but it couldn’t have been very important. He’s not even riding toward Naguilla’s cavern. So it’s probably nothing.”