Devothin reined up outside the fortress-temple of Hoshamalis, watching riders and wagons bunch up ahead of him. After a moment, he gave up and dismounted. They weren't going to make the crossing any time soon, so he might as well spend some time with Timber.
The wolf was already pushing his forehead against Devothin's knee, so he knelt to greet Timber directly, half-petting and half-tussling with the heavy beast.
"You know we're going to die of disorganization," said Wilt, who had followed Devothin's example and swung down off his horse to reacquaint himself with his own wolf, Red. "If we get into the barrens and something goes wrong - and it will - we're going to end up standing around the wagons like a bunch of idiots while the twisted and the beasts rip us all apart."
Devothin nodded. He'd been thinking along similar lines. "Probably. Though we do have the elite troops of four different kingdoms here, and I imagine they can do some real damage to anybody who attacks. Mainly, though, we're going to be doing our best to make sure the expedition doesn't run into that sort of surprise."
Wilt nodded thoughtfully. "So we're the scouts for this-" He cut himself off, then finished with, "-expedition."
"Hey," said Devothin. "You can stand in the front line with the others if you want. I'm sure the Storm Knights would loan you some armor."
Wilt shuddered. "Have you seen that stuff? Too much metal for my old bones. If it comes to that, I'll stand on a wagon and loose arrows over their heads."
Devothin huffed. "There you go being sensible again." He had his fingers tangled in Timber's fur, and was feeling much the better for it. He didn't like being separated from the wolf -- not for too long, and not by too far -- but Moroleth had thought it better not to bring the hunting beasts into the High City, so Wilt had stayed with the pack in a woodlot half a mile out.
Isha whistled, and Devothin straightened. "They're actually moving," he said, surprised.
"Huh." Wilt looked thoughtful again. "This Captain Veritos is better than I thought."