The snow blankets the enormous conifers and distant peaks and the ground, glittering like quartz. The tents in the area form a vague and uneven circle, leaving wide distances between some and almost none between others. There are two varieties, one that is completely enclosed and shaped like a giant mushroom sewn of tanned hides and another that is a simple canopy open on three sides. Everywhere about the encampment, kegs are stacked in pyramids and clumped together in hasty trios. They vary in size from the very small to the enormous, large enough to make a comfortable room for one of the short bearded men littering the camp. Here and there, a keg has been tapped and an assortment of characters is gathered.
The most predominant figures are the short men with their long braided beards and arms and legs bursting with muscles, but there are others as well, a few men, usually armored warriors with a weathered air about them and women as well, with their red hair pulled back in braids and their eyes shining with a hard cold light used to spying stretches of open road or smoldering battlefields. For now they laugh and toast one another’s health and drink frothy brew from beautifully decorated steins.
A tall creature with pale skin and long pointed ears protruding through the silken threads of her cascading blue hair stands apart from the crowds dancing in the center by herself. She wears a red skirt that hangs about her front and back like a loincloth leaving her long legs and toned thighs exposed. Her top barely conceals her moderate cleavage and leaves her mid drift bare. Warmed with liquor and oblivious to the cold, she dances with the sinewy movements of a serpent.
Another similar creature is inspecting a rather large ram, the mount of one of the stocky little men. The creature with the pointed ears looks into the beast’s eyes, ears, nose and mouth while the small man belches and attempts to explain the appropriate way to handle the ram, swaying all the while and occasionally loosing his train of thought or reaching out to steady himself against the taller creature’s kneecap. Every so often, a rider charges into the encampment and the motley crew cheers a greeting. They find themselves a place near a keg or by a small fire where something roasts on a spit and little men already sit around chewing at roasted meats and loosing gristle in their beards.
The sky overhead is a steely gray and a red sun sinks slowly behind the far off neighboring peaks. Horses waiting for their riders stamp the snow and whine to each other and munch bales of hay alongside with rams, while keeping a wary eye on the camp dogs who chew bones with wolfish grins and turn their pointy ears to listen to the laughter and singing of the men.