Maren sighed sullenly. “Go on, answer it then.”
Hedrum nearly broke their embrace, but decided against it. “They’ll go away dear,” he said reassuringly, nestling closer to his wife. She smelled of something akin to honeysuckle, but whatever her perfume was, it helped rouse his enthusiasm. “Now, where were we-“
A thunderous banging seemed to wail desperately upon the door at the second go. “Are you there, sire?” The muffled voices on the obverse side spoke in those unmistakably human tones. He hesitantly answered the door.
Grom and Chlora set aside their studies and curiously emerged from the backroom. Hedrum seemed to be engaged in dire or grim conversation with a pair of passersby, or maybe they were tradesmen from the village. Chlora, whose handle upon the human language exceeded her understudy’s, could understand fragments of their dialogue, and a moment later she appeared just as panicked as everyone else. Grom was wishing he knew what was happening, since everybody looked so seriously concerned; he became enlightend when, in the far distance, a noisy church bell rang wildly like a frantic alarm. It was apparent that some emergency was taking place in Snowberry.
“Meran, go with Chlora and Grom into the back, and make sure they stay there,” he said sternly. “Here, take a sword with you and another for Grom as well. Go on – go.” She hurriedly obeyed, and as soon as the three dwarves were shut out from sight Hedrum turned to the company of visitors upon his doorstep. “All right then, I’ll divvy up the steel. One at a time if you please-“
“Have any sons that can fight, Hedrum?” one of them asked. “We could use more swordsmen to counter the assault.”
“No sons, just a daughter, and she’s not going anywhere,” he answered decisively.
“What about that other one,” asked another, “the scrawny fellow that was standing by your daughter? He looks old enough to me. Heck, he’s got more of a beard than Berti does.”
“He stays. He’ll be watching over the place while I'm gone.” Hedrum poked his head passed the threshold and surveyed a small militia gathering in his yard. This worried him terribly. “Come on in now,” he said as he ushered them into his shop, “everyone please come on in. I have plenty of barrels to choose from and enough swords for all of us.”
The mob of mortals filed into blacksmith’s storefront and took up arms, one after another, sliding razor edged blades into their sheaths, with grim faces and determined demeanors. From outside they could hear the echoing of bells resonate against the walls of village huts; the distressing sirens somberly mixed with the distant wailing screams of terror and fright. They dispersed down the avenues in teams as they made their way toward the mounting mayhem with newly acquired weapons at the ready.