“Gonath of Cantlow, I am searching for the camp of his majesty’s army.”, answered Gonath with a sigh of relief.
From this distance, Gonath could now see that the once obscured figure was a member of the military camp he was seeking.
“Gonath of Cantlow? Ah, Starik has not fully recovered from your outing this afternoon. Once he is well again, it will be the Majors intention to turn Starik’s stomach as did the ale.”
“At a greater distance from the mouth of Starik than before I suppose.”, Gonath said with a slight grin.
Aye, and an unsoiled uniform I trust.”, returned the soldier, “You may pass Gonath, Starik’s tent, as well the others can be found just over the bluff and down into the ravine.”
“Thank you, I am familiar with this land. Take particular caution, these woods are not kind after dark.”, warned Gonath.
“Yes, and I can be quite the bearer of unpleasantness myself.”, assured the guard.
Gonath shook the soldier’s hand and continued on in the direction the camp was located. After a short distance, Gonath came upon on an incline in the land. The grade began to steepen at this point, leading up to a depression.
The same feeling Gonath experienced when he registered for the tournament earlier that day returned to him. Tension and activity filled the air and chilled Gonath as he reached the top of his climb. He looked down into the ravine and was surprised to see the camp alive and laced with the sensation of fervor. Many tents blanketed the ground, resembling the snow capped peaks of mid-winter. There were a number of camp fires that blotted the space below and illuminated various tents in the camp. Gonath could see the active shadows of preparation within each of the glowing canopies.
He made his way down into the into the army post. The closer he made his way the more apparent it became that something was astir amidst the group. Gonath noticed a number of Blacksmiths who ornamented their own pyre of radiating coals. Each Smith created distinct sounds of metal clashing against hammer and anvil, chiming as an appropriate alarm to signal the enthusiasm unfolding. The product of one Smith revealed an abundant collection of armor plating and weapons. Blemished swords and damaged knives lay strewn about waiting for repair. Each implement of battle chronicled the conflict it encountered. Each piece of steel was placed into the fire and as the past lives taken were incinerated they rose above with the smoke, only to be released and lost in the darkened night sky.
Gonath found difficulty to pass through the restive crowd of uniformed men. Soldiers criss crossed one another, attempting to fulfill orders given to them by men of higher rank. Each person seemed to have a distinct purpose to their uneasiness. The mayhem made it difficult for Gonath to locate Starik on his own, he decided to stop the first he saw that appeared less hurried than the others. All the soldiers Gonath came upon seemed to be preoccupied with packing this and that into boxes and parcels of various sizes and shapes. Those who were not busy packing involved in heated discussions of whether items being packed were done so appropriately, in accordance with military precision. Packing or arguing, each person was in as much a rush as any other. Gonath thought it best not to interrupt them and continue on through the camp.
Gonath reached what looked like the center of camp. Massive tents, much larger than those of the troops he just passed, were being dismantled and packed into wagons that were over flowing with the white canvas. A large fire in the center of the activity lit the area with hot light, Gonath’s skin warmed as he neared the flames that fought with the wooden fuel, making cracking and snapping noises that sounded as men’s bones breaking in battle. Shadows were cast from the fire. Gonath noticed the black smears that danced on the ground, tents and faces of men. They created shapes and images that Gonath thought looked as though they belonged to the Undead.