Goblin Wars Part Two: Death of a King
“Pull your scarf around, Seamus,” a frail woman called into the brisk night air. Wind whipped around her words and stole her breath with a cloud of fog. Seamus, a tall and hulking brute of a man, looked back at her and gave a sigh, reluctantly tightening the knitted cloth about his neck.
“Hundreds of other folk around here for you to yell at, you old coot,” Seamus retorted. The pair of chilled farmers marched in a solemn line heading west, leaving Terror’s Lament and the compromised safety of Talonrend far behind. “Pull your own damn scarf tighter…” Seamus mumbled to himself, far out of his mother’s hearing.
“How much longer do you think it will take, Uncle Seamus?” A red haired and freckled boy asked excitedly. The boy, affectionately called ‘Squirt’ by everyone in the column, had been tagging along with Seamus and his mother for miles. Most of the time, no one paid the lad much attention. All he did was eat their food and he was too young to help carry supplies.
“Do you know how far it is from Talonrend,” Seamus spat as he said the name of his former home, trying to purge the awful flavor from his mouth, “to the Green City?” He reached down and ruffled the boy’s hair and pushed him in the back, urging him to leave.
“How far is it, Uncle Seamus?” The boy continued to prod.
“I’m not your uncle!” Seamus bellowed in response, using his heavy hands to push the boy farther away. “Stop calling me that.” In his heart, Seamus knew that every member of the column was as much the boy’s family as his blood relatives. Squirt never knew his mother and his father died in the battle against the goblins. Since then, the boy has called everyone his aunt or uncle.
“How far is it to the Green City?” Squirt demanded again, undeterred. “Just tell me how far!”
“I’m not sure anyone here knows that for certain, boy,” Seamus told him honestly. “But by my reckoning, if you can’t see the city, we aren’t there yet.” The middle-aged farmer had no idea how far he and the boy would have to walk and everyone in the column just hoped they were moving in the right direction. Food was already becoming scarce and the massive column frightened away all of the game.
“Will we make it there before it snows?” Squirt asked, hoping up and down with the limitless energy afforded him by youth.
“Squirt, I hope we make it there before winter really sets in, but if I tell you the truth…” Seamus’ voice trailed off. He didn’t want to frighten the boy.
“Tell me!” Squirt begged, tugging on the big man’s hairy arm.
Seamus let out a long sigh and looked to his old mother, ten paces behind him and trying in vain to keep her teeth from chattering. “We will probably have to make camp somewhere before the snows pile up and then we will have to wait it out. If we are lucky, we will find enough deer and rabbit to last us through the winter. Then, when the snows melt and the wagons can continue, we will keep moving west and make it to the Green City by summer.”
Squirt’s eyes grew big and he hesitated for a second before he bounded back to Seamus’ side. “I didn’t know it would take that long,” he said with a voice full of wonder and awe.
“Yes, well,” Seamus said after he cleared his throat. “I just hope that the Green City actually exists. Some of the ancient folk say they have been there and seen it, but once a mind has reached a certain age, you can’t trust it anymore.” Seamus gave a sly smirk over his shoulder to his mother and Squirt ran off to pester someone else.