Alma and Lornaal
Alma, you follow Torngrin west of town with Lornaal striding through the snow in your wake. The howling wind is at your back, causing you to hunch forward in your saddle and draw your clothing tighter. Just before the small wooden bridge that crosses the Veniset Creek, Torngrin turns north into the woods on a narrow trail between the trees.
You plod into the woods, the trail choked with drifts while the whole forest seems to shake and twist about you in the growling gusts. Branches, heavy with snow and tortured beyond their limit break from high in the pines and spruce to crash to the forest floor with an echoing series of booms. Torngrin looks back at you, his face covered by a white wool scarf except for his eyes, wide with concern. Rather than state his fears, however, the Ulnoran turns back to the path and presses his large horse forward.
The creek bed remains at your left hand, dry but for a trickle of water down its centre. The water has worn deep here, the steep banks rising ten feet or more in places. Flanking the creek there is a band of poplar and beech whose skeletal-looking white trunks quickly give way to the dark green needles of the northern spruce and jack pine. The trail weaves between these boreal striations with a tangle of underbrush about it.
It takes far longer to cross the half mile to the camp due to the conditions. At last it comes into sight. Three small log huts with sod roofs and rough stone chimneys squat around a larger building made of clap boards with a shingle roof. Piles of trees await near the creek bed for the spring flows to carry them to Bangle Bay. Other piles lie limbed and bucked next to a jig used to cut planks that are then neatly stacked to dry nearby.
Smoke curls from each of the chimneys but little else can be seen. The windows of the large building are shuttered tight.
Torngrin slides from the saddle, catching up the reigns to his horse.
Ulof Garthson is the headman at this camp. He’ll likely be in that big building there.