Meran was being assisted back onto her feet when she examined her husband in the pale light. His garments were soaked in blood; the same scarlet hue painted most of his brow, cheeks, beard, and armor, however she couldn’t guess if any of it was his or not. There was obviously unctuous grease that stained his apparel as well. (This oily substance, in fact, was the slimy stuff that goblins bleed out when their flesh is cut or torn open. It’s disgusting, really, and darn near impossible to wash out of clothes . . . This certainly isn’t a thought on the forefront of Maren’s mind, but trivial information definitely worth knowing about).
“Are you all right, love?” Hedrum inspected his wife scrupulously.
“Yes, yes, I’m all right. It didn’t get me or anything,” she reassured. "But what about you?"
"A few scratches is all." He glanced over at Chlora disconcertedly, “What about you, dear? Are you all right?”
“I’m okay, Pap, really.”
Finally his eyes gravitated toward Grom. Hedrum bore a very strange, though rather distinct, expression. He resembled someone wanting to say something, but failing to find the appropriate words for the situation. “Grom,” he said with a tinge of despair evident in his stutters, “I, uh . . . you – eh, well . . .”
“Make haste,” a voice cried from beyond the storefront, “and don’t delay, sire.”
“Hurry, Hedrum! More of them are headed this way!” another villager warned.
“Follow me everyone, and keep close,” he commanded, “we’re leaving. Now!”
Chlora, Meran, and Grom joined the ragtag troupe of Snowberry’s finest, (that is to say a miniscule militia consisting of traders, farmers, fishermen, and one blacksmith with minimal combat experience), and the group hustled down the pathway leading away from the shop. After rounding a corner of the road, boots crunching on the wintry powder below, Grom found himself hurdling over large lumps lying lifelessly in the snow banks. A few of the bodies belonged to the rotten ranks of fallen goblins, some of the bodies belonged to those endeavoring to defend their homes, but most of them belonged to those who were frantically fleeing from the unforeseen onslaught.
“Where . . . are we going . . . Hedrum?” Maren panted as she strove to increase her pace. She wasn’t necessarily lagging behind any of them, everyone just happened to be bustling as quickly as the circumstance warranted. (Given the gruesome scenery, it called for faster feet).
“To . . . the stables,” he huffed in reply, “we’ve got to . . . get to the . . . stables.”
As they pressed onward they passed near the yards of the less fortunate, (and alive for that matter), giving little thought to stealth. A mounted goblin patrol spotted them retreating down one of the roads and instantly gave chase. Two of the humans amid the company of the hunted suddenly screamed aloud and collapsed. Grom nervously looked over his shoulder and perceived their corpses pierced by a hail crossbow quarrels.