Sunset, 25 Urthan, 973 IR
Takit Goblin Camp
The Northern Steppe, Somewhere Beyond Lake Adrag
The Three Races rest from their march, and the warband gathers. Tonight there will be feasting and drinking, boasting and oaths at the fire of Ganbataar the Mage, preeminent man among the goblins. Bugbears will eat their fill. There will be a council, and heroes will be chosen to hunt for the Great Horde's first enemy.
The Takit camp is the center of the goblins' encampment, and the hearth of Ganbataar is the hub around which it turns. It's easy to find your way; the plume of blue smoke marks your place. Ganbataar's yurt is ablaze with light; dozens of lamps, filled with expensive oil, shed their light, picking out the cheiftain's throne of leather and furs stretched over a frame of bone and precious hardwood. The old goblin is flushed orange with wine, already carousing lustily when you arrive, gravelly voice calling greetings to (seemingly) every tribesman who passes within earshot of him—a respectable distance, especially accounting for the warchief's age. A whole pony is spitted over the fire before his throne. It sizzles merrily, filling the open meeting space with the scent of roasting meat. Veteran warriors flank his chair at a distance of several paces. Closer, an even more ancient goblin, white-haired with frosty blue skin, hunches on a stool at his left elbow.
At his right hand, a larger but much plainer throne endures the bulk of a hobgoblin. The shimmering silver of his dragonhide breastplate makes it clear that the blue-nose can be only one man: Lwazi Skin-Changer, the self-styled kachaka. No doubt the pony is his gift, drawn from the hobgoblins' herds; he glowers at the beast, hand resting on the hilt of a scimitar at his waist as if the roasting horseflesh has offended him unto death. Warriors of his retinue, armed with bullhide shields and the short, stabbing spears of the embi corps, flank him in much the same fashion as Ganbataar's attendants—but closer, giving credence to the idea that the Chief-of-Chiefs fears assassins. Lwazi holds a drinking horn, but shows no signs of inebriation to match the old wizard.
At Lwazi's right, separated from him by a distance of several yards, a massive bugbear woman squats at ease upon her heels, apparently unconcerned by the burden of her silvery chainmail byrnie or the shield slung across her back. A full wineskin rests in the crook of her right arm, its nozzle pinched daintily between her fingers. The drinking horns used by Lwazi and Ganbataar would look like a toy in Pradha's ham-like fist.