“Something wrong Ragnar?”
Murith’s hand rested on her crossbow. We stood in the slaughter yard of the Ramstag carving house. The iron grating on the floor reminded me of the little arena in the Gemarkand residence and Lily’s game. The smell reminded me of Cinder’s warehouse; an ocean of blood, but here it was tempered by smoke and salt. There were entire warehouses full of ice and carcasses here.
“In the North we still hunt our meat or slaughter the herd animals ourselves. It is sacred. I wonder if this will come to us if our cities grow to be like Myrrhn in size.”
“Your people will have to stop fighting all the time for that to happen,” snarked Murith.
“Or breed more… shouldn’t there be more people around?”
“The Carving House is mostly closed at night. I did not want to disturb the workers.”
“Let’s find the carts.”
We found the carts near the warehouses where they stored the meat. There were a dozen ready and more than a hundred in a nearby building.
“Where are the horses?”
“They likely keep the horses off-premise or have a deal with one of the other guilds. The blood and the sounds would spook some animals,” answered Murith. “Well does it smell familiar?”
“I think that this is the place, let me get a closer look at the carts.”
The scent was definitely familiar. The problem was that we were not alone. I could sense several men lurking, ready to pounce. I signed this to Murith, using the silent language that we used in our time adventuring in the ruins below the Undercity. I wanted to get close to the carts because they would provide some measure of cover against arrows and bolts.
Our attackers were smarter than most. They moved before we got close to the carts. I saw a flash of movement, which prompted me to dive out of the way. Something hit my shoulder, and my roll turned into more of a sprawl.
The twang of Murith’s Arbalest rang out, followed by the sound of a thud. I came to my feet, turning. Something whispered through the air beside my face. Drawing my weapons, I kept moving and took stock of the situation.
Murith was in the back of a cart, shielded while she reloaded. There were two men with bows firing at from the shadows, one on either side of the carts. They were using greatbow, firing arrows as long as my arm. They were big men. I could smell poison on the arrows that fell near me and something else, feral and dangerous. I felt fear, cold and serpentine, knot it my belly — not fear for myself, but fear for my friend.
I waited, watching. The shadows moved, I ducked and dropped by axe, my hand swiftly finding a slender handle. I whipped the knife toward one of the bowmen in a smooth motion, and turned to Murith.
Then the doors of one of the buildings burst open, showering the courtyard with splinters and something, huge, hairy, all teeth and claws charged toward me.