He spit and black flecks sprayed the stone at his feet. It had been doing that all of yesterday, through the night, and still continued this morning. His mouth tasted like rot. He could keep no sustenance down. At least he had recovered his wits.
He was clear-minded enough now to see what should have been obvious when they left Stormhome: they’re doomed. Whether because of a capricious act of the Gods or merely the ending of a noble saga, Koll was now certain they would never find respite or security until all of them were dead. It was time to quit clinging to life and instead to embrace a glorious death.
He’d examined every angle he could think of.
Build a ship? With what resources? The woods were infested with demon Gaels and their sole shipwright had died in the initial raid of this pathetic village. Even were a ship to mysteriously arrive heading back out to sea only invited Hel’s wrath after the clear message delivered by the Skalds of Stormhome.
Hold the village? Even if they survived this winter and the further treachery and cowardice of the Gaels camped in the woods, come Spring how would they sow the fields without dying to a hidden archer? Would not an army arrive from the fort at the mouth of the fjord or some other place? Against concerted attacks no group of heroes could hold this forsaken hamlet long.
Flee into the wilderness? Would he really consider venturing into dark lands where who knows what foul beasts roam? By trade he and his men were sailors and warriors, not foresters. They would not survive long by themselves in a blizzard or sinking without a sound into the bog.
All roads to safety were cutoff. Only one course of action remained. Provoke bloody violence. Wreak vengeance. Die standing while your enemy’s blood pools up with your own.