Summary: Savaric & Talia find more clues and are hot on the trail after the kidnappers.
Date: 21/May/2013
Related: The missing Rhaedan princess
Savaric Talia 

Rhaedan Wilderness
The towering woods close in on both sides as the well traveled road between Laketown and Brivey winds its way through the trees. Near the edge of the river, the foliage begins to thin until the landscape opens up onto a complacent, peaceful riverbank. Here, a large bridge crosses a narrow channel of the river to join the two kingdoms and allow for the back-and-forth of travel. The giant stone monstrosity is of an an indeterminate age and unknown origin, and the decades of exposure to the elements have worn smooth the edges of each brick; moss creeps ever upward between the cracks, and here and there chips in the stone stand as testament to its endurance despite its age. It is wide enough for three carts to pass abreast quite comfortably with room on either side for single-file foot traffic.

To the northwest lie the Rhaedan lands and the township of Brivey, and to the southeast are the Taniford lands and the neutral territory of Laketown.

May 21, 1329

After several days in the south lands, eventually they came across another set of markings. The trail they were on seems to be leading the couple back to the north, which leaves the ranger slightly confused and angry as he is following the trace. And there's some frustration as they pass through Laketown and continue north. "Going in circles. Aggrevating."

"At least these circles aren't requiring that we track through a pile of dead bodies," Talia remarks as she sweeps a long look over the terrain that they move through.

"Perhaps." Something's missing. Savaric hasn't said it yet, but it shows in his expression as he kneels down at the juncture of the roads. "Did not return to Brivey." he looks towards the path. The path of the ruins they went into last week.

Talia is no where near the hunger that Savaric is but she knows him like no one else, and the expression on his face is enough to have her glancing slowly around again, trying to discern that which he already sees. "How do you know?" she wonders.

Waving her over, Savaric gestures. "Look." he says, gesturing to the trail of prints. "Boots of kidnappers. They turn into the woods. Bend reeds. Not many follow path. Bandits. Hunters. They go that way. We follow."

Talia crouches to study the prints, listening intently as Savaric gestures, pointing out the trail, before she nods and rises to her feet, following closely on his heels. She checks the quiver of arrows over her shoulders, the blow held ready at her side, just in case.

After showing her the way, Savaric looks to her and then he rises to his feet. He doesn't draw his weapon, instead he follows along the path, his expression pensive and studious as he walks along. Stepping off of the main road, the ranger glances back towards his wife and gives a subtle nod. His head moves about, and finding the path again, they start down that same trail that they had taken towards the ruins the week before.

Talia drags her heels, literally, slowing down. "Husband," comes her voice, warning in her tone. "I'd rather not get shot to hell and back by bandits again. Do we have a better plan?"

"Better plan." Savaric says as he considers for a moment, and then he nods. "Better plan. You stay. I scout ahead. Warn if danger." And with that, he heads down the path and leaves her behind. Unless of course, she comes after him.

"Well, that's not going to happen," Talia mutters in a low voice that warns of all kind of impending danger if he leaves her BEHIND.

"You can return to Laketown. Go to Brivey." Savaric says over his shoulder, a grunt towards his wife as he carries on deeper down the trail.

Winding Path ~ Rhaedan Wilderness

The path twists and turns as it winds among the evergreens, following ever so closely the meandering bank. Just beyond sight of the current bridge, the remains of a much older construction lay in partial ruin across the breadth of the river. Water swirls about massive, cracked stone pillars, and enough of the crossing has crumbled into the water over time so as to render the bridge impassable. The overgrown trail bifurcates near the bridge with one heading toward the river while the other follows a curve in the landscape aimed deeper into the woods. Just above the canopy, the tops of three towers are visible against the sky.

Heading north leads to the ruins while following the path downward takes one to the river's edge. Eastward, the path returns to the Oldstone Bridge.

"Oh, yes, exactly. I'll do that. you know, you can go on ahead, scout out, take on the bandits if they're still haunting in this mess of a ruin. Then, maybe you'll come home, maybe you won't. Maybe I'll have to raise our son or daughter alone with just the memory of you as a father," Talia says in a low voice that is sharp with anger as she walks in his footsteps.

As he starts to notice something, Savaric is not exactly paying full attention to Talia until she says something that grabs his attention and holds on tight as the ranger suddenly straightens and turns to face her. "What do you mean?" he asks her, his eyes looking her over and pointedly stop at her abdomen before he looks back to her eyes.

Talia folds her arms over her chest, anger making her eyes that vivid green that he knows so well. "Which word, specifically?" she demands in return, refusing to budge. She sees the dip of your eyes toward her abdomen and waits, that's right, waits, for your eyes to meander back up toward her eyes once more.

"Are you carrying our child?" Savaric makes it clear as day what he's asking as he looks to her eyes, holding her gaze easily as he gestures. "Path leads away from ruins. Towards lake." he says finally, explaining himself. "And Princess not with them."

Talia exhales softly before she shakes her head, "Not yet, no," she says in a quieter voice, that anger fading. "And I won't be, without you. I need you. I love you. Don't make me raise our child alone, when that day comes."

"Can't raise what has not happened yet." Savaric says, confusion in his features as he looks towards you again and lets out a breath. "You do not trust I will stay safe for you?" he asks before he steps down towards a side path, as he leads towards the lake.

Riverbank ~ Rhaedan Wilderness

This muddy patch of ground plays home to a swath of river grasses, frogs and insects. Half-hidden beneath the remains of the crumbling bridge, the ground is littered with chunks of stone large and small. Soft earth gives way to the smooth, water-worn that creates the riverbank, and the sound of rushing water is ever present as the river passes by. A short scramble up the hillside returns one to the main path.

"I trust that you will, I don't trust that the rest of the world has received that missive," Talia replies as she shadows him again, step for step.

As they come down to the riverbed, Savaric walks towards the ruins of the bridge. The slight smoke that still rises into the air suggests a campsite as the ranger bends down to study the fire. With Talia following after him, her eyes will spot something else. On a large and water-smoothed rock near the edge of the lake, there is a carving present. Someone had worked the stone over with a blade. A single tree carries a crown in the middle of it. On one side is a unicorn at rampart, on the other a lion at rampart. If she knows her house marks, it's not the mark of any house - but has elements of both Taniford and Rhaedan in it.

"What is this?" Talia wonders as she leads the way forward, easing around Savaric and picking her way along the riverbed toward those ruins. "It's.." and she crouches to touch the rock with her fingertips, "What does this mean? Taniford, Rhaedan, a tree.. crowned.."

As she studies the rock, Savaric is still studying the fire, his fingers running through the ashes. "It has only been few hours. They may be near." he comments to Talia as he turns his attention back to his wife. "What?" he asks in confusion.

"This mark," Talia says as she touches the stone with the marks of blade work upon it. "A tree and crown," she says softly, sketching the outline with one fingertip. "A unicorn.. and a Lion…" she looks up again. "What does it mean? Who would carve such a thing, who would take the time to do so?"

As he comes up behind Talia, Savaric frowns a little and studies the marks in the rock. "Not either royal family. But elements of both. Not sure." he says as he considers the mark. "They continue north. Maybe three.. four hours ago. We can make camp, follow in morning?"

"how far can we push ahead tonight?" Talia wonders, taking out a sheet of paper and a piece of charcoal and, after carefully drying off the rock, waiting for the air to finish drying it completely before she does a careful rubbing of the marks in the stone.

"What happened to caution?" Savaric says only half teasingly as he looks. "Getting dark. Will be dangerous along water. No natural light." he points out, since the darkened moon does not allow them any natural light.

Talia finishes the charcoal rubbing and careful rolls the paper and tucks it into the bag that she carries at her side. "Then at dawn," she agrees, sounding worried about losing time on their quest. "Will we find them, do you think?" she wonders.

As the two of them are getting ready to prepare to set camp, the faint howl of fen wolves cuts into the raising darkness. However, there is another sound that cuts even louder. From the woods just north of where they are, along the line of the river bank comes the scream of a girl. A plaintive scream for help as the wolves howl out again.

"Savaric," Talia whispers in the silence after the scream, those eerie howls, reaching for your arm abruptly and her bow with the other. "Where," she asks, her tone urgent, ready to follow your lead into the dark.

Savaric hears it too, and as she touches his arm, he reaches for his bow. Another scream pierces the darkness, the child crying out again, as the ranger looks north. "Near." he says quickly. "Grab bow, we hunt." he says as he starts into the darkness, expecting her to be close behind him.

Talia races at his side, keeping pace, having learned - at his side - how to RUN, not just move, not just how to jog, but how to RUN and run all out, to keep pace. She moves when he moves, leaps when he does, keeping stride, pushing herself to the limit of her smaller form but making up for it with determination.

They don't have far to go before they get to the edge of a clearing. Reaching out, Savaric grabs your arm to slow you down as he himself comes to a halt. Out in the clearing, a young girl, no more than thirteen or fourteen stands, surrounded by three wolves. As the wolves try to close in on her, she is carrying a tree branch and is flailing it around as she tries to keep the wolves at bay.

As Savaric takes out his bow and draws an arrow to notch. "Aim carefully." he says. Once the arrow is readied, he raises his bow and waits for you to notch and ready. "Take wolf to left. I will take the one to right."

"Left," She confirms softly as she draws her bow and slides the arrow into place, bending her elbow once to flex it, curls her fingers as well to warm them before she nods. "ready," she whispers, waiting for your lad before she draws and lets the arrow fly.

As she gives his agreement, Savaric aims and and lets his arrow fly. It streaks through the air and slams into the side of his wolf and the creature lets out a loud cry of pain, alerting the other wolves. The girl shrieks as she sees the wolf hit and she swings her branch again. The wounded animal stumbles and falls over on his side, it's heaving breaths, soon to die.

Talia traces the path that the arrow takes as it slices through the air, seeing the arrow sinking deep and taking the wolf with it to stumble to it's side, arrow transfixing and taking it from this life with a yelp of pain before exhaling with a sigh as it dies. She knocks the other arrow into place, 'Husband," she whispers urgently, taking aim on the remaining wolf, not daring to fire as the girl swings the branch again, fending off the remaining wolf to wary snarling.

As the girl swings at the wolf, it causes the wolf to jump around and makes it harder to hit. Savaric nods as he looks to her, giving permission to fire as he works on nocking his own arrow in case Talia misses. As she lets her arrow go, Savaric raises and aims, firing again, his own arrow slamming into the head of the wolf and killing it as he moves from the woods. "Friends!" he calls out to the girl.

Talia's arrow sails wide and impacts harmlessly well above the wolf she was aiming at. Possibly she hit some sort of bug or weevil or.. something.

With the wolves dead, Savaric gets the girl's attention and she immediately runs over, and looks at the large man and falls flat on her ass, looking worried. "I don't have money to pay you, sir, and I don't want you to hurt me.." she says, staring up wide-eyed at the ranger. Savaric, for his part, looks towards Talia as she emerges from the bushes, confusion on his features.

Talia keeps another arrow at her side, but pointed down, not knocked, and shakes her head as she crouches beside the child. "We don't want to hurt you or need your coin, child, 'she says gently, "we heard your cry for help. My husband is a ranger, and I'm a healer, are you injured?"

"I'm lost.." the child says, as she looks between them both. "He.. he is a ranger?" she asks, staring up at Savaric. "I didn't realize they were so.. so.. large." she manages as she looks between them both. "I was out looking for herbs for my healing class, and I got separated from my group when I found this. She holds up a small leatherbound diary. "I don't know whose it is.. I was reading it. The markings of the house are unfamiliar." she admits. "Can you take me back to Haven?" she asks finally.

"We'd be happy to," Talia says with a glance up at Savaric before she gives a quiet laugh, "Yes, he's a ranger. And yes," she turns back to the child, "they are. It helps," she adds, "when they have to wrestle bears, tackle boars and swarms of bees," she accepts the leatherbound Diary as she speaks, glancing down at it before nodding. "We'll see if we can get this diary back to it's owner, and are you hurt?" she wonders, helping the child up with one hand offered.

The child accepts the hand to be helped to her feet. "I do not think I am hurt, but it was very scary…" she says, a tremble in her voice as she looks to the ranger again. Savaric, for his part is walking to the wolves, and slitting their throats to ensure they are dead. Once that is done, he moves to cut off their tails. he comes back to the woman and girl. The tail of the wolf that Talia killed is offered to her, and a second tail is offered to the girl.

The girl looks repulsed and stares at the ranger in mute horror. Savaric stares for a moment and then rubs the tail he has over his chest and arms. "Scent. Hides you from other wolves." he says simply, allowing Talia to expand if she wants.

"He knows best," Talia explains gently to the child, seeing the look of mute horror on the girls face. "Unless we want to fight off remnants of this pack, if there are others in the area — and they were bold enough to come after a human instead of easier game, so there likely are - we'll do this to keep them from chasing us down." She turns toward the remains of the wolves then back to Savaric, "Can we take them with us? the pelts, I mean, or the wolves themselves and use them for trade?"

Savaric considers. "Will skin." he says finally as he looks towards the woman as he nods. "Will have to be quick, though. We need to be on move. Take girl. Find us way across the river." While she does that, the ranger leans down to start to skin the wolves.

The girl stares in horror for a moment, but allows Talia to lead her away, tucking the wolf tail in her belt and looks up to the redhead. "Are you his mate?" she asks. "You are so pretty."

"We'll find a way," Talia promises as she tucks the girl's hand into hers, tucking the wolf tail into her belt as well, the leather bound journal into another pouch for safe keeping. "I'm his wife, and he my husband," she answers, a quiet laugh as she shakes her head, "Thank you," she swings the girls hand in hers for a moment, "Now, tell me how you normally cross this river? Without the wolves giving chase?"

"There is a ferry that usually carries us across. There are extra boats there we can use." the girl offers as she walks with her. "But he seems so.. uncouth." she she says as she glances back to where the ranger is doing his work as he works on stripping the fur from the wolves. "And dirty. That is the type of man you wanted?"

Talia glances over her shoulder to where Savaric is working, a faint smile on her face again, "He is everything," she answers before casting a long look at the child. "You ask very big questions for one so young. Uncouth.. your teacher must be very proud of how well you read and write." She studies the surrounding area, again, careful - wary really, "Extra boats, does n o one keep charge of them?"

"I just recently became a woman." the girl says with a snort. "I will never be able to marry, as a Priestess. And he is. I score high marks in my classes." the Acoylte comments as she looks back one more time at the ranger as they come to where the boats are tucked away in a small hollow near the lake. "Noone but Temple members knows of these boats."

"Hmm, how many boats are stored?" Talia wonders in return, curiosity evident in her tone of voice. "Would you be able to tell if any of them have been used?"

"There are three usually kept on site.." the girl says as she walks with Talia to move back the slight cover that leads to the launch. "And I am Natalia Paggion. Thank you and your husband for saving me." she finally offers demurely.

As they come down to the launch, there are only two boats present there, which brings a confused look to the girl's face. "How did you know a boat would possibly be missing?"

"I'm Talia," Talia offers in fair exchange, "my husband is Savaric," she adds as she smiles again, "and it's a pleasure to meet you, circumstances not withstanding. We were just in the right place at the right time," she says quietly while looking at the empty launch slip. "I had a hunch that the lady whose journal this is may have come this way and the people she is with are not above stealing."

"It's nice to meet you both. Uhm.. then will you help me across the lake?" Natalia asks as she looks towards the healer. "I do not know how to handle these boats." she admits as Savaric finally comes over. His hands are coated in blood, and he carries a bundle of wolf pelts bundled in rope. "Ready? We continue north."

"We'll help Natalia across the lake first," Talia says as she takes the bundle of wolf pelts, with a tilt of her head toward the water with a smile at Savaric. "We'll figure it out, the boat handling that is. We need to cross as well, I believe, and it's best to cross over together and see you safely home."

"As you wish." Savaric says as he ranger feels the bundle taken from him and slips a grateful smile towards his wife as he moves towards the boat to load it with their gear. "We will cross then. And continue track in morning." he says.

"Wash your hands first," Talia chides gently of Savaric. "Otherwise you leave bloody hand prints all over our gear, and the boat and everything else."

Chided by his wife, Savaric moves to wash his hands off in the water. He listens to her, and obeys so easily, and Natalia looks impressed. "You have him well trained." she says to Talia as she steps easily into the boat as she moves to take a seat.

Talia laughs, "Marriage doesn't really work like that," she says as she stows the rest of their gear and secures it down with a quick cinch of rope. "We're a team, not one training the other," she explains as she lifts one oar free and holds the other ready for Savaric.

Natalia huhs at that as she watches the two of them. "I was always told that the woman has to properly train the man to do as she wishes him to do." Savaric grunts at that as he steps into the boat and offers his hand to his wife to help her in.

Talia tugs on Savaric's hand as she steps into the boat, shaking her head at Natalia. "People who think that only do so because they didn't find a partner, they found someone to deal with. There's a big difference," she explains as she settles in the boat as well. "Real partners don't train each other, they work together, meet in the middle. You've heard the saying: a tree that does not bed in the wind breaks in the storm. Bend, not break."

"Huh." Natalia responds. "The argument is rather moot, I suppose. As I will not be married. But I can seek a companion that pleasures me." she says as she waits for the others, and then looks to Savaric and waits for him to row. After all, he's the male. Do male work. And Savaric pushes them off and starts to row, moving them across the lake and towards Haven.

Talia wisely decides not to engage in this particular debate, she instead uses her oar to nudge floating sticks and other water debris away from the boat as he sets the pace.

Savaric gives a little growl under his breath as the little acolyte gets under his skin and continues to row. As they finish crossing the lake, Natalia actually waits for Savaric to get out of the boat and holds up her hand in a demand to be helped out of the boat. The ranger ignores the hand for a moment to help his wife out first and then assists Natalia.

Talia smothers a laugh, carefully averting her face for a moment as she steps out of the boat, gives Savaric's hand a small squeeze before she steps onto the rocks and starts unloading their gear, shouldering her gear and tucking the rope wrapped pelts before handing Savaric his half of the gear.

Once the supplies are doled out, Savaric looks to his wife. "Will go secure room at Inn. You escort girl to Temple." he says as he pays his wife a quick kiss to head off towards the town.

Talia nods before rising to her toes and brushing a kiss against Savaric's cheek, "Travel safe," she says simply before turning to Natalia and walking with the girl toward the temple, mindful of the conversation flow as they walk.

With Natalia safely returned to the temple, the preist there offers Talia fair payment for escort and safe return of the acoylte. Across town, Savaric secures their room for the night and goes to clean up and prepare for a short night of rest so they can be off again towards the kidnappers.

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