“What makes you so sure of all this?” Stynard asked skeptically.
“For one thing, I listened to them last night and can pick out the different voices as surely as I can all of yours,” Argentoe began. “For another thing, I have knowledge of these creatures and their hunting styles. They would not mass so many if they did not plan to attack. They are too selfish in nature to share a prize they thought they could gather alone. I am right about this and we have until sunset to prepare.”
Stynard did not like being told he was wrong, but a quick look around the table clearly showed Argentoe had the full support of his family. His only choice was to go along with Argentoe and hope he was mistaken.
“Very well, Argentoe. We will follow your lead. If you happen to be right, then what would you have us do?”
Argentoe picked up on Stynard’s cynical tone and pounded his fist down. “I am right. So the first thing you can do is wipe that smug look off your face or I will leave you to face those demons alone.
“Now as I see it, they will use one of three possible strategies for attack. They never attack in a group without a plan. The first plan is to go for the easy pickings in the smokehouse. There is almost no chance of bodily injury and they could make off with quite a bit of smoked meat.
“The second plan is to storm the barn. They know we will have the cattle penned up in there. Once they deal with any defenses we put up, they will have all the meat they could want without even having to chase it down. It would take a large pack to pull off such an attack.
“Their final option is to attack and kill us first and then ravage the barn and smokehouse at their leisure. They do not respect humans as adversaries by themselves and would seriously discount our threat when they are in a pack. Trogos are kings of the forest, so after they slaughter the herd they need not worry about other predators honing in on their kill.
“I spent the better part of last night going over the merits of each plan and have made my conclusion. They will not try the first plan because dried meat has little appeal to wild carnivores. It is a last resort they would eat out of necessity like we would with salted biscuits.
“The third plan would tend to make sense, but they want to limit their exposure to injury as much as possible. They may not respect us, but that does not mean they want to sacrifice several members of the pack for their victory. People facing annihilation will fight harder than those who can run and hide. They smell our fear. That smell is strong. If I were them, I would disturb our sleep with constant howls, which they have done, and spook the animals throughout the day. By the time I attacked at night, I would expect the petrified farmers to offer little or no fight so long as my pack left them alone. I would have my victory with no loss to the pack.”
The table was quiet as the faces looked at one another. After a great deal of mumbling and hand gestures Stynard spoke for the group. “Your argument sounds plausible. What actions should we take?”
Argentoe rubbed his chin and began walking around the table.
“There are two options. We can let them have access to the animals and they will surely leave us alone. Or we can fight. To do so against an unknown number of Trogoandras could bring death for some or all of us. The choice must be yours.”