Alma and Cora
Your initial relief at finding Alma and the other survivors is quickly shadowed by concern and dismay. Fuming that so little precaution has been taken in light of the devastation of the town you draw aside your companion and the woodsman, Kandure.
In a whisper that lashes like a whip you berate Alma for his words of false comfort and demand answers as to the origin of the wicked child who seemed to master the undead. Your hushed argument draws some looks of concern from the gathered folk of Tundrein.
While you and Alma trade barbs, Kandure stands silent and wooden. Whatever emotions lurk behind his dark eyes, little is betrayed by his features.
Finally done with your attempt to stir some sense into Alma, and force him to think with his head for once, rather than his britches, you stalk off into the woods, a shadow amongst the gloom. Finding a perch just beyond the walls of the ruined mill that offers a view of the approach you settle down to stew on events and watch over the survivors.
Very likely no one shall ever thank you for it.
Already drained beyond measure you are ill prepared for your argument with Cora. While you are glad that she is safe, her caustic attitude is the last thing that the survivors of Tundrein need. When her tirade finally ends and she vanishes into the night, you smile after her, knowing in your heart that Cora’s bravery, while deep, is not foolhardy.
Kandure scratches at the stubble on his weathered cheek, his steady eyes watching Cora depart.
In the morning I’ll return to the village to see if other survivors can’t be found. You need sleep now. The attacks of those wights are brutal and you must get rest in order to recover. Bubba and I will keep watch…apparently with the help of Cora.
He lays a hand gently on your shoulder.
This was not your fight, but I am glad that you fought it none the less. Remember, every moment that we held them in town allowed another villager to escape into the countryside.
Turning away from Kandure you make your way towards Peter and Brianna. The mayor, wasted and withered, is asleep in a wool blanket. The girl, wrapped in a shawl watches over him with concern written plainly on her face.
She offers you a thread-bare blanket in place of the bedroll that you had loaned to one of the villagers. Grateful, you accept, lying on a patch of cold earth. It takes only a moment for sleep to steal you away.
Your dreams are a haunted affair. Figures move through your mind with shape, but lacking detail. Some are large and fat, some are small and slight, while others are altogether inhuman. The only thing that binds them together is the rictus smile that spreads across their faces. A feature that promises something horrible and sinister. An unnamed evil.
In a few hours dawn treads slowly over the horizon and colour once more enters the world. Piles of orange and red leaves blanket the ground, damp from the melting frost. Trees and brush crowd close to the ruins, their naked branches reaching towards a cold, blue sky. The stones of the mill are old and weathered, covered in lichen and moss. It is a place long accustomed to being ignored.
Many of the survivors rouse themselves from what rest they had. Meagre meals are made and shared around until everyone has had at least a bite to eat. Ragged though they are, the survivors show the indomitable spirit that runs deep in the people of the north. Peter, though still weak, is awake.
Dark pouches hang on the loose flesh beneath the mayor’s eyes and his limp, hair is nearly white on his pate. Stubble covers his jowly chin and he rasps loudly when he breathes. He is far from the eager and vital man that you spoke to just yesterday.
His eyes are undimmed, however, and he speaks kindly to those around him, promising that all shall be done as soon as it is safe to secure the town.
Brianna watches over her father meticulously, helping him to stand, easing him into a seat and hover over his every want.
Cora, though tired, you still feel better than Alma looks. Drawn and drained, the usually plucky adventurer is still the worse for last night’s encounter. Dark circles ring his eyes and a streak of white graces the hair at his temples. It seems to take him several minutes to shake himself awake.
Kandure and his grey wolf walk towards the two of you. There is purpose in his step.
I’m heading back to the village. I want to see how things lie. I’ll return as soon as I can.