The squirrel chirped dire warnings of revenge and disappeared. The girl who had disturbed the small rodent ignored it and continued on her trek through the snow to find firewood. She was no one important, a small child of five, doing what children in that age do when they're too clumsy to aid in the kitchen.
A sudden ruckus caught her attention and made her look south, away from the border of the small forest with its winter-black trees and crippled branches. On the close horizon, over one of the many rises in the county she called home, appeared the white cloud of disturbed snow, and in it a few black specks that soon grew in numbers.
She drew away from where a wide path led in among the trees, for she knew that a great army were travelling by. A scout dispatched from distant Ildanæs to Frostgaard - the king's winter fortress - had all ready passed by her village with the news of the army's succesful siege of the rebellious city. After the scout, fortified with food and mead, had left the village the girl's family had all, with wise expressions, agreed that it was the corrupting influence of Lemania - the grand empire south of Friedland - that had caused the regrettable rebellion.
The child did not care, focused as she was on her childish ways. But she did know that she loved horses, and that soldiers wore armour which she had never seen before. So she waited.
The first soldiers rode by, sparing not a glance in her direction. They looked cold and haggard, staring straight ahead as if they could see Frostgaard in the distance and were entranced. Their horses were warhorses and thus quite different from anything else she had ever seen; proud and large, with bulging muscles shifting under their sweat-soaked coats, they were very different from dear Old Jorik in her father's stable.
Light glinted off spears and axes as they rode on in a thickening stream. Looking south, she saw the line stretch on past the rise that made up the horizon. Finally she remembered the firewood and ran off, casting a last awed glance at the warriors riding - cadaver-like - towards Frostgaard.