Upon the children's arrival, the rest of the vulpine army had gathered around the castle, the bulk near the main square where the general and his elite companies were camped. Houses had been occupied, but a sizable number had been put carefully to the torch, the blaze kept under control by the mages. All told, it was easy to see how grossly outnumbered the war wolves were. Maximus was beyond bows hot of the castle walls, but in clear view, with a bonfire nearby. The children were gathered in front of general Maximus, who selected one at random to come forward. "Your people broke the law..." Maximus said quietly, a viscously curved skinning knife in one hand. "Now you're going to pay for it." The tall, long armed and long-legged Ethiopian wolf snatched the child, pulling him closer and placing the sharp edge of the skinning knife at the child's throat. One of the traveling illusionists conjured up the image and magnified Maximus's voice. "Surrender now, or each of these children will die, slowly and surely. I am not without mercy, however. The offer of single combat still stands, but now, regardless of outcome, these lands are mine! A victory would see these insolent whelps returned to die inside the castle." Vel-Vardeh snarled the words, drawing blood with the knife to accentuate the point. Maximus didn't kill the young fur, simply cut the young fur skin deep.