“Halt!” The cry echoed down the hillside as the last few men trickled through the gates of the fort, exhausted and beleaguered. It was the saddest march Ulgar had ever seen. These men were barely even worth a ragtag militia, let alone a fighting force that could effectively defend its own land. Ulgar had spent much of the 12 mile march at the back of lines encouraging stragglers forward, with Alla occasionally heckling those who could not keep up that even the Dwarf was moving faster than they were.
Ulgar turns to address the crowd of weezing men. “Take an hour, get some food and drink from the mess. Reassemble here for your spar pairings.” The two dozen men and women slowly scattered, some heading for the gate, most making a slow beeline for the doors to the stockade barracks, which were touting the aroma of fresh stew.
“You’ve been with these Varnlings for a week now, and they’re still like this? Completely winded by a short march?” Ulgar frowned. Alla almost matched the expression in response.
“Most of them aren’t worth their salt. Just farmboys, tanners. It’ll be a while before we see any results.”
“Humph.” Ulgar motioned for the sergeant to follow him. “I’m not used to having to train them up from nothing. The unbearded in Janderhoff were usually at least conditioned before signing up for any sort of military duty. I sometimes think you Humans are too soft.” Alla raised an eyebrow behind Ulgar’s back, but said nothing. The two had walked over to some storage rooms on the far side of the courtyard and had begun pulling out racks of wooden weapons and leather armor for the trainees.
“This business with Gaeren becoming Varnhold’s General concerns me.” Ulgar muttered, pulling a weapons locker door open. Alla looked up as she dragged a maple bastard sword from its frog, testing its heft and balance. “I can at least take comfort in the fact that you’ll be here, taking care of his militia while he’s off in a bar somewhere.” Ulgar threw her a sidelong glance. “If he asks, tell him to take it up with me. You’re just following orders. Understood?”
“Good. Give me a hand.” The two of them hefted the last of the equipment out into the yard. “Time for some stew, eh?”