Silently, the wolf padded forwards, bringing its snout level with Adelbert's face. It gave a loud, snuffling sniff, gauging his scent. Adelbert tried not to notice the blood dripping from its jaws onto his shirt.

The wolf's head whipped round as a Ravenskirder ran through the doorway, seeking shelter from the chaos outside. He had scarcely had a chance to trip over the two bodies at the threshold before a thrown axe took him in the back, knocking him from his feet and adding his corpse to the pile.

Stepping in out of the darkness, a burly man reached down to wrench his axe out of his victim's body. His face was framed by a plaited beard and an unruly mane of reddish hair, and he wore an assortment of furs and pitch-blackened armour plates. In his left hand he carried a spiked mace that Adelbert would have had to use two hands to wield.

Seeing Adelbert in the shadows, the man lifted his axe - the wolf bared its teeth and growled at him, a low rumble of warning. That seemed to dissuade him - lowering his weapons, he stood aside.

Leaving Adelbert behind, the wolf turned and loped back out into the dark, bounding out of sight with an accelerating leap. The man lingered for a few seconds more, scrutinising Adelbert's face - then, without a word, he headed back out into the fray.

The sounds of bloodshed were now if anything diminishing. The battle sounded like it was quickly coming to a one-sided conclusion.