Wolves at the Door (part 22)

Eventually their westward path intersected a road running perpendicular, and Gil was able to recognise where they were. It was some distance from his home territory, but that put them closer to a neighbouring village to the south. Following the road brought them to the settlement before long. As they approached, he realised he had no idea what they were going to do when they got there, so he asked Alfvin what the plan was.

“It might be better if you remain out of sight. I do not know whether there is a chance of you being recognised here, but in any case you are not dressed to blend in. I shall see if anybody is still stirring this late. Or early, as the case may be.”

As Alfvin entered the town, Gil was left to his own devices, waiting around under the tree line. It was the first chance he had gotten to stop moving all night, but he wasn’t able to enjoy it for long. Soon the cold began to bite, and he had to get moving in order to keep himself warm. The sky to the east was beginning to lighten, but it would be hours before the night-time chill abated.

With nowhere to go except to stay unseen, he found himself walking laps around the edge of town. He had no real idea how long he would have to wait, so he didn’t want to risk going too far afield. He kept a discreet distance: near enough to be able to see the buildings, but far enough that there was little risk of being spotted in the trees. He was on his third circuit when he heard the first signs of life in the village.

Creeping slowly forward to get a better look, he was less concerned with the cold than the prospect of being discovered. If striding into town dressed in nothing but a shirt had been inadvisable, how much worse would it be if he was caught skulking around the outskirts half-naked, spying on the inhabitants?

The voices remained indistinct as he approached, and in the dim light he had to get quite close before he was able to make out the unsettling scene before him.

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