Ulaf runs his thick fingers through the beard that extends over his barrel chest to the paunch of his stomach. His deep-set eyes are keen and merry, though there is an edge below the surface that speaks of a terrible temper. The men sit quietly as their master listens to Alma’s words. None seem willing to brook the Grewhainian’s displeasure by interrupting.
Alma speaks, noting the sound of horses (and their stench) coming from an adjoining part of the building.
I wish for all our sakes that this was some figment of my imagination… But as much as I wish this nightmare where mine alone that is not the case. I have watched as people who fell to these beasts twitched and rose to attack people they called friends moments before. They multiply by killing, and they kill with brutal efficiency. You can not remain here…
The humour saps from Ulaf’s eyes as he slams his meaty fist upon the table.
You do not tell Ulaf Garthson what he can and can not do. I have surely seen worse than what you now speak of. My men and I are safe here. We have keen blades and strong arms to wield them. If the folk of Veniset need our help, they had best send someone who can negotiate the terms of our assistance. If that is not you, then I offer you a cup of wine and a rest by the fire before you must go.
Ulaf takes up his tankard and drains it quickly, holding it up so that a tall, scrawny lad who could be his son or nephew rushes to refill it from a large pitcher. The noise in the building quickly grows again as several conversations erupt from fifteen bearded throats, filling the ramshackle building with laughter and rough language.
Alma turns from the table, ignoring the offered hospitality and stalks towards the door, Ulaf’s wary eye watching him darkly as he goes. At the door Lornaal turns to duck after Alma, stepping once more into the biting winter wind.
Blinking snow out of his eyes, Alma moves quickly to where Torngrin stands with the horses. When he asks Lornaal for three torches, the northman produces them without question and when Alma puts fire to them, Lornaal takes one, wordlessly following the Cyonian’s lead.
The torches snap and flicker like banners on the ends of the oil-soaked torches in the wind as the two men move in turn to each of the buildings, setting flame to their dry and hungry roofs. The shakes and thatching take little coaxing to ignite, despite the snow and soon a thick, noxious trail of smoke is issuing from each of the buildings.
As the first cries of alarm break out from the buildings, Alma and Lornaal walk back to where a stunned Torngrin stands holding the reigns. Like angry wasps the loggers boil from the camp buildings, shouting and scrambling to dampen the flames. There are twenty of them in total, all brawny men with large arms and broad chests.
Broadest of all, however, is Ulaf. The master of the camp burst from the main building with a murderous look in his eye and a keen axe in his hands. He spares only a brief look at the spreading flames before he turns towards those that set it.
Alma, waiting patiently speaks again:
My friend and I would still like to escort you back to the town for your safety, and to reinforce the towns defenses with your strong arms…. That being said we would rather kill you here then have your stubborn foolish corpses adding to the ranks of our foe. Ulof … the decision is yours!
The shocked looks on the faces of the loggers is countered by the exploding fury of their master.
Get yer axes boys, these dogs want for dying.
Roll some initiative!