Tiny stopped, turned and positioned his paws into a wide stance—a battle posture for those that know dogs—and blocked the entrance to the hall. The enormous and sweet-natured mastiff had not wagged his tail for the past few minutes, but the three friends had been too busy to notice, still debating the benefits and risks of revealing to their countrymen what they had learned from their parson.
“Come on, Anders! Surely you can see that sharing this news with everyone in town would bring a lot of pain to some of our neighbors there. Right?” Frieda said.
“Yeah, I suppose so,” Anders replied, still sounding unconvinced.
“Hey,” interrupted Paign, who was trailing at the back of the small procession, “what’s gotten into Tiny?”
Frieda, who was in the lead and had been mostly looking over her shoulder at Anders during their debate, turned her attention to her dog, just a few feet in front of her now.
“What are you doing, Tiny?” she asked of her faithful companion, observing his stance. At first, she thought he appeared ready to play, as though a ball was about to be thrown for him to fetch. But the look on Tiny’s face didn’t look at all like when they played. He looked more like when strangers came to their gate. Tiny didn’t welcome strangers well.
“What’s this about, then?” Anders asked, as he stopped next to Freida, setting his pack on the ground. “He doesn’t look happy.”
“This is strange, don’t you think?” Paign said, as he stooped to put his backpack on the ground next to Anders. “What’s gotten into him?”
The light from their three lanterns flickered across the nearer walls of the main hall, but barely reached to the back of the chamber.
“I don’t know,” replied Freida, concerned. “He’ll growl and bark at strangers. But he knows us, obviously, so that doesn’t make sense.”
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