The Long Retreat No. 80

The camp covered more ground than it had seemed from below. It was a rounded rectangle, twice as long as it was wide, and he had approached from the narrow end. Centered within the wall was a large tent, almost half the width of the camp—fifty yards long from end to end. Man-sized bonfires blazed in the spaces between each edge of the tent and the walls, around which dozens of ontr clustered. Banners hung all along the tent’s length, bearing insignia—ontligr coats of arms, perhaps? One, a black zigzag on a reg background, seemed especially prominent, featured at all four corners of the tent.

At the south end of the camp, farthest from Falthejn, a gaggle of ontr worked to assemble stacks of cut logs into—something. Surely not a siege machine? Ontr weren’t that bright.

The north end of the camp was given over to rest; a few hundred ontr, from the very smallest to some of the larger ones Falthejn had seen, slept in small tents, under blankets, or right on the ground. It seemed to depend on what they could defend from their peers.

A commotion around one of the bonfires drew Falthejn’s eye. From somewhere out of sight, drums boomed, and the largest ontling Falthejn had ever seen stepped forward from the central tent. It wore armor of some sort Falthejn could not identify, and over that, a red tabard bearing the same black zigzag.

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