"Yes sir. About two leagues northeast of the road, in a shallow valley, we found a burnt out piece a ground; a big piece, a Khoran mile across." Skorri swallowed, as if considering if he should continue or not. Conall thought he saw a hint of fear in the Norseman's eyes.
"Burned how?" asked Alrik. "Like a forest fire or campfire that burned out of control? Or does it appear to be a controlled burn, like someone did it on purpose, and contained it?"
"I ain't never seen nuthin' like it sir," the Norseman replied. "There's trees and brush on the outskirts of the area, that don't show any sign a heat, like there wasn't a raging fire two feet away from 'em! And there are dead things in the circle, a huge boar, deer, a couple a hares, and other critters. They ain't burnt, just dead, and our horses won't go near it. It's the damndest thing, Commander!"
"Thank you, Skorri. Return to the sight and secure the outskirts.” Conall turned to Talorg, who was making faces at the praying priests of Beordin, drawing laughter from some of the onlooking soldiers. "Talorg, gather your trackers and accompany Skorri and the outriders to secure the area. We will join you as soon as camp is broken. I want to know everything that has approached or left the area, even if it's a single rabid raccoon."
"Yes sir!" Talorg replied, and hastened about camp, eager to break the monotony of the uneventful, previous month. Besides being Conall’s second in command, the stocky aboriginal was also in charge of stealthy reconnaissance, and intelligence gathering.
The trackers were comprised mostly of young, Rebanian military scouts and archers, looking to hone their skills. If any living creature left even the lightest track or slightest spore, Talorg Brude’s trackers would find it.
"We should leave the horses here, Commander," advised Alrik Kloengr, keeping his voice respectfully low. "Spooked mounts could be a detriment."
The warrior priest looked Conall in the eye, and the mercenary captain noticed for the first time the Nordic resemblance he bore to Skorri, especially the piercing blue eyes. Although Alrik’s hair was a shade darker, like those from the highlands just north of the Graode Mountain range.
"And what do you think we'll find out there?" asked Conall. "What's gonna spook experienced war horses?"
The priest's eye's narrowed fiercely and he took a step closer so as not to be overheard. "Demons, Dun Commander Macdrust. Demons. You said yourself, it seems strange out here, and you're right; there are dark forces at work. I can feel the evil portent in the air, as if the earth is tensing for something. This is the calm before the storm, Commander, and I fear it's about to hit us full force."
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