Lornaal had stood in the teeth of the growing blizzard, grimly watching as the line of undead approached. He checked the weight of his spear and scanned the ragged, half-naked corspes for a target. Unrelenting they came, pushing through knee-deep drifts that filled in their footprints even as they stepped out of them.
The screams of terrified horses and the panicked cries of men did little to distract the northman. He stood alone, eerily calm even as the great beast that was shackled in his rib cage bellowed to be released. The wind carried the scent of rotten death upon it, causing Lornaal to wrinkle his nose and spit in disgust. The smell elicited a fresh wave of terror from the horses.
A sudden gust of wind drew a veil of snow between the tribesman and the rapidly approaching undead. Lornaal made to shut his eyes as the swirling sleet pelted his face but a sudden vision commanded his attention in the swirling white. It was a face. The hammering wind drew agonizing screams from several pine trees as their thick trunks, tortured beyond endurance snapped and crashed into the woods. Amidst the sound a single word, unheard by an other, reached Lornaal’s ears.
The northman paused for only a moment, staring into the driving snow in vain. The vision was gone.
Turning quickly, Lornaal hustled towards the doors of the lumber camp’s largest building. He arrived just in time to see Alma leaving the burning building with the last of the horses. Waving away the preferred hand, Lornaal chose to trust his own great stride to carry him from this place.
Following as the desperate loggers evacuated just ahead of the undead, Lornaal paused for one more moment next to the former master of the camp, the bearded Ulof. The man was pale, a bib of blood soaking the front of his chest from the rent in his ribs. His breath came in ragged gulps and his former strength was all but gone. Lornaal met his eyes, seeing a fierce pride that was familiar to the tribesman. Without a word he plunged his spear into Ulof’s throat, driving away the last spark of light even as dark silhouettes began to emerge from the driving snow, just twenty feet away…
The flight through the woods was agonizing. Slowly they caught up with more and more of the fleeing loggers until most were accounted for. By the time they emerged from the woods they had even caught site of their erstwhile guide, Torngrin.
The way back to Veniset was gruelling and Lornaal lagged behind, keeping a close watch to ensure that they were not taken by surprise. He caught up with the group as the barricades were being shifted to allow them entry into the heart of the town.
Lornaal was surprised to see the results of the village’s industry, but being a man unimpressed with fortifications, he could not help but scoff. The men of the south put too much stock in walls and not enough practice with the spear…
At the meeting that followed, Lornaal stood silent, wrapped in his bearskin cloak. He left the words and plans to wiser men. When the first calls of distress came from the western barricades, however, Lornaal moved quickly, shouldering his spear and running towards the fight, the ghostly image of a face in the swirling snow, a reminder that he must survive this night, that evil must be checked here and now, that even more desperate tasks yet lay beyond this one.