Midwinter Hype Post #4

Groups of travelers had clustered together, deciding which way each would travel to find supplies for the winter. The gathering was the same every year.  This year, however, there was a population spike the likes of which most had never seen.  Steel Horse Crossing had little to spare on good days.  This winter would be harsh if this month of gathering came up short.

~*~

Travel was slow at times, if for nothing else than the uneven land and hills.  The snow on this terrain never helped.  Heading west of Mill City, a group of townsfolk had met up with other travelers to trudge the roads to Madtown.  The cold was bearable at most times, but the wind kicked up here and there just to remind the group how badly the environment wanted them to freeze.  It had been days, and there was very little found on the roads.  Things had been looking bleak, and there was discussion on whether some of the group should turn back and search off the roads for some hope of a hidden treasure of food or scrap.

Finally, late into an evening on the road, the camp had been set.  Fires were tended but burned low as to not give off too much light.  Quiet conversations murmured around the small camp deciding how to proceed.  Coleman and Svana hung loosely around the Corvid’s jet black caravan, having some manner of deep discussion while lending a hand sporadically as the kitchen came to life.  Levi tended a stove while meals were prepared by Valrvn, who ensured that each item was properly distributed for cooking.  Pol pitched in where possible, ensuring she pulled her weight.  Bartok stood watch, carefully scanning the distance of the tree line.

It was Matt and Del who were pondering next moves, seemingly in agreement that splitting the larger group into two would be wise.  One would head back toward Mill City, scavenging what could be found by heading alternatively north and south of the road back the way they had come.  Knowing the way back was likely clear based on recent travel, it wasn’t a surprise to hear Septima chime in that she would be happy to return now rather than push on.

Fitz, taking a deep draw of his dwindling alcohol supplies, shook his head slowly while mumbling, “Damn land legs.”  He suspected no one could hear the disdain in his voice over the mild chaos that was starting in camp.  Shore leave had never been so disappointing.

It happened quickly, and Coleman’s voice was easily heard across the small expanse of camp.  Raiders.  The small band turned as the first few bodies spilled out of the trees across the road in the distance.  Preparing weapons, and hoisting shields, this would be yet another day defending camp.  Except this time, the bodies didn’t stop pouring from the trees.  In fact, the width of the emergence grew, and from less than a hundred yards, the sparkling snow became a spray of dust and shadows.  Bodies blacked out the horizon.

“Move,” came a voice from within the camp.  It sounded vaguely like Stabby. “Move now!”

As the dawn of realization struck, the camp burst out in a frenzy of activity.  People grabbed gear, tried to stow things, or even outright ran.  Small, subdivided groups fled in multiple directions.  Whether this was planned or a factor of chaos wasn’t important, as it likely saved many lives; the onslaught of raiders pouring in began to splinter in different directions to pursue each smaller group.  Even with the diminished ranks, the main contingent of raiders smashed into the camp like a wave, pushing everything they encountered back.  Only a few made it into the Corvid caravan, which was spared most of the initial attack.  Without an option, those left furiously battled their way into a clearing, where the raiders seemed to stop abruptly.  Up on a small hill was a house, quiet and dark, and the raiders were slowly spreading to encircle it.

 

Heather Surma