"Ok, lets go through it again and see if we can squeeze a few more days out of it. Perhaps if we drop the horses to 1 bag of feed a day, and non-military personnel to quarter rations…"
"It's not going to work, Henrik," sighed Commander Matz. "I know your staff are doing the best they can, but three days is just not long enough to prepare for a seige! We have little chance of relief for at least a couple of months, and we don't have the stores to hold that long. The Northmen have caught us with our damned trousers down and, unless we find some way to slow them down, we won't be able to hold out for more than a couple of weeks…"
"I'm at my wits end here Henrik. This was just supposed to be a nice little showground job – wear the medals, glad-hand at the parties, watch the parades. The Northmen were suppressed and the pass well guarded, the people loved the Baron, and the Baron's little spymaster would know before anyone even thought of attacking us. What could possibly go wrong? And now the Baron's sleeping off his latest medicine, the Merchants are revolting at our grain seizures, the troop is strill trickling back in from winter leave, and the Northmen are at our throats. To top it all off, that bloody Deadeye is engrossed in something his little playthings found in that Other worshipers temple. Something apparently 'far more important' than the lives of everyone in this city! So it's all down to me, and I just don't think I'm up to it…"
The Commander's voice trailed off as he stared unseeing at the masses of maps, requisitions, orders, unit strength reports, and intelligence reports that were heaped in piles all around the hastily prepared war room.
Quartermaster Henrik Witold let the oppressive silence drag out, even the orderlies around the room barely daring to breath as they carefully ignored their commander's outburst. Then, resting his hand on his old friend's shoulder, he quietly and dispassionately continued as if nothing had happened, "...with non-military personnel on quarter rations we can probably stretch out to three weeks, maybe a month. Every extra day you can get me to bring in stores gives us an extra week. Depending of course on how many outsiders and mercenaries we have to feed, and how many casualties we take."
Commander Matz looked up sharply. "Mercenaries? Of course, why didn't I think of that already," said Matz excitedly! "I'd been going purely on our troops, and we can't afford to risk any of them away before the seige. But…"
The Commander ran round to the other side of the map table and stabbed his finger down on the map.
"Yes! Henrik, I think I might be able to get you a week! By Lofwyr, we might get out of this yet! Orderly, get a runner…"