Murdered Princess: CSI: Ashlan

CSI: Ashlan
Summary: While out on a hunt, Savaric and Talia make a gruesome discovery.
Date: 06/May/2013
Related: All Princess Aylanora logs.
Savaric Talia 

Ancient Ruins
Tangles of brush and bramble eventually part to each side, allowing travelers to break free of the dark woods and step into an overgrown clearing. The ruins of an ancient keep stand tall and stark against the sky, and while its walls once rivaled those of newer design, they have since fallen into disrepair. Once the guardian to the south, the keep was overtaken and destroyed during the first years of the 400 War. Stone debris litters the ground, hiding amongst the knee-high grasses and scraggly heather, and the entrance to the keep has long since been blocked by the crumbling walls. Rumors out of Wolveshire describe this area as haunted by the ghosts of knights and men-at-arms that once called the keep home.

Near the entrance to the clearing, a fallen stones have been shifted into makeshift lean-tos, and the remnants of recently utilized campfires still remain. The only way out of the area appears to be the trail heading back to the east.

6 May 1329

While the royals and nobles are off enjoying their formal dinner, polite conversation and dancing, the Ranger and Hunter turned Healer are out in the deep woods. "I heard there are ruins nearby. We can explore. Probably good prey to hunt there." Without others around, the northerner feels more at ease to speak as Savaric looks towards his wife and a faint smile pulls at his lips.

Talia's smaller strides are brisk, easily keeping pace with Savaric as she makes note of what herbs and flowers are blooming at this time of the year and frequently makes foraging pauses to replenish what she's used lately. The pouch at her side, mostly empty at the beginning of this trek, is now host to a number of sweet smelling herbs, leaves and.. a handful of berries that she extends toward her husband with a smile. "It will be nice to have fresh meat and a dry place to sleep tonight."

<FS3> Savaric rolls Tracking: Great Success.

Accepting the berries, Savaric studies them for a moment before he chews on them and swallows as he nods his head. "Good to be out of the room." he admits to her. "So tight. Constricting. Feel boxed in." he says as he pauses catches a path and snorts. He holds up his hand and kneels down for a moment, his fingers brushing over the tracks. "We are not alone." he says quietly to the woman. There are hoof prints there - shoed hoof prints. And something is being dragged by the horse. Pointing out the tracks to his wife, he studies her for a moment to wait to see what she says.

"I don't mind rooms, with walls, and doors that close and lock," Talia replies as she brushes the last of the berries off of her hands, her fingertips stained faintly purple and green today. Her head tilts, sunlight striking off of the deep russet of her hair and creating a brief halo around her face as she studies the hoof prints and the tracks that Savaric points out. "Another hunter?" she wonders, speaking quietly now, one hand idly sweeping her hair away from her face as she moves a step closer to her husband, seeing the tracks from his vantage point now and looking forward to see the path that is left behind.

"Not sure. Might be. They were dragging something." Savaric says with a firm nod of his head. He lifts up and looks towards the path and his eyes follow it. "They went towards the ruins." he says quietly to his wife, as he rises to his feet. His fingers untie the peace knot from his blade, making it clear what his thought is in this process. They're going hunting.

Talia nods once, her hand resting lightly on the hunting knife that she carries at times like these before lifting to touch the bow tucked into the quiver along with arrows slung over one shoulder and snugged to her back. She had dressed with care this day, leggings under the simple wrap around skirt that she is wearing and brushes one hand against Savaric's arm before nodding, "Lets take a look then."

Feeling that touch to his arm, Savaric nods firmly to his wife and he takes the lead naturally, using his body to protect his wife's, should it come to it. As he moves forward, the trail starts to expand, pulling them further towards the ruins. The quiet chirping of birds and crickets and steady buzz of insects are all that comes from the ruins at the moment, though the path seems to so clearly lead in this direction.

The sound of wildlife - buzzing bees and insects, the swoop and chirp of birds, the sawing of the crickets give the sense that everything is 'well' and 'normal', as silence often means that all is NOT well. She paces her strides to follow closely in Savaric's footsteps, never more than a hard away but careful to not tread on his heels.

There are signs here that in the very recent past, like in the past two or three days, a small camp had been set up. A burned out fire long gone cold. But fresher are small drops of blood, dried now, on the ground and on the leaves. The foot prints about show commoner boot prints for the most part. But a trained eye would see that mingled in are those of a better made boot print.

As the pair enters into the ruins, Savaric's nose twitches and he growls low in his throat. "Smoke. Smell it? Old. Few days." he says shortly, lowering himself down as they make their way through the grass, his expression darkening by degrees. He'd ordered Talia to stay back, but he might as well tell the sun not to rise. The constant buzz of insects grows louder as the pair continue down the path and he lets out a breath. "Clearing ahead. Be ready." he says as he draws his own bow and notches an arrow, ready to let it fly at any moment.

Talia draws her bow as well, though she keeps the arrow curled in one hand instead of notched and ready to fly. "It could be just another hunter," she murmurs. "A sizable deer could leave a trail like that. Or a boar," she adds, not exactly arguing but.. pointing out potential options.

"Perhaps. At least three. Look at tracks. Two are common style boot. One - noble? Small hunting party. Small feet. Stay." Savaric says firmly to his wife. "Will flush out." the Ranger shoots Talia a look for a moment that invites no quarter, but his affection for her is clear for a brief moment before he steps through the pair of pillars and into where the clearing is, momentarily disappearing from sight.

Talia gives a single nod of assent as she goes to a crouch in the tall grass, keeping the arrow and her bow held low, ready. She is silent, her breath going softer, listening intently to the sound of the insects, breathing deeply of the sun warmed air to catch the scents on the breeze.

<FS3> Talia rolls Perception: Good Success.

As Savaric enters the camp, the birds continue to chirp and the insects continue to buzz, quiet over the ruins still holding heavy in the air. Talia will notice to his left a fluttering in the breeze. A bright blue ribbon with silver trim has been entwined into a bird's nest.

Talia frowns at the gleam of bright blue that she spots fluttering in the breeze. Even though Savaric had told her to stay.. she doesn't exactly do precisely that. Instead she rises, slowly, trying to move soundlessly as she approaches the nest and hooks the tip of the arrow she's holding into a loop of the ribbon and slowly begins to tug it free.

The ribbon comes free easily. It's made of silver with silver thread.. made of real silver. Apparently it belonged to a noble, and if she knows her colors, Talia will realize it belongs to someone from the House Taniford.

From the clearing comes three sharp whistles and a longer, lower whistle. Savaric's call to Talia that it is safe, but to hurry forward quickly.

With the ribbon snagged, Talia rushes through the grass now, following the path that he had taken, carefully coiling the ribbon around on wrist as she moves.

Savaric is standing in the clearing near the middle of the ruins, looking around. "Talia." he says simply, his expression dark. "They were here." Who is they? They both know of the news. The kidnapping of the Royal Princess of Taniford - the heir. And what they have found…

This was apparently an encampment, not more than a few days ago. A large stone plate rests in the middle of the clearing, an altar of sorts. There are signs of a campfire, at least three horses, and one female. Lain across a nearby bush is a bloodied and torn dress of a woman of royal birth, the colors clearly the silver and blues of the House Taniford. On the altar itself is two restraints, hastly made of rope, bloodied. More blood covers the stone slab - so much so that Talia can easily tell that whoever was here was murdered. Beheaded, judging by the placement of the blood in relation to the restraints. On the ground at the base of the altar is a shattered dagger. The seal of the royal house of Rhaedan imprinted in the hilt.

There are other tracks here - the Blue Guard's hooves marking the territory. They found the body here, but.. they only took the body and nothing more.

"Someone died here," Talia says quietly, her words oddly calm as she returns the bow to the sheath, the knife as well, and makes her way forward. She is careful with each step, striving to avoid all tracks and marks already on the ground as she moves first toward the bloody mess and the remains of the gown. She is no noblewoman, not by far, but she knows quality when she sees it, the remains of the gown alone - even destroyed like this - worth more than her entire wardrobe. A brief glance is sent to the shattered dagger, "That is the royal seal," she says softly as she circles around the large stone plate.. "She was killed here, and.." she eyes the mess of the bloody spray. "I think she may have been alive until they took her head," her eyes lift to Savaric's. "How long did they hold her?" she wonders, sadness now in her voice.

Savaric glances towards the dagger, picking it up as he studies it. "It is. Rhaedan. Stefan and Amira." he says, giving a look towards his wife and his expression narrows anew as he listens to her assessments. Sticking the dagger in his belt, he moves towards where the fire was and he kneels down to start to work his fingers in the dirt, scraping around, as he looks. Seeing where the grass was flattened for bed rolls, the ranger makes his way over. "Few days. Remains of meals. Perhaps tortured. Raped. Do not know, cannot tell." he admits as he looks around, his expression dark still as he glances to the dress and then his wife. "Aylanora. Murdered here, I agree." he says as he shakes his head. "We should gather the items. And take back to the castle. Give to the Prince?" he asks, as he looks towards her. "If we give to Tanifords, they may draw wrong conclusion."

"Wait…." Talia says, reaching into the leather bag at her side and hastily drawing out a slim leather bound case that holds a few rough pages of paper and a single stick of charcoal. "Let me make a quick sketch, before we move anything," she says and steps back a few feet and, with the tip of her tongue pressed between her teeth, Talia turns her penchant for sketching plants and animals, herbs and what animals or insects she can catch long enough to sketch, into sketching the position of the things near the large stone plate. Her charcoal stick moves quickly, lightly, over the paper, not trying for perfect only as precise as possible.

Savaric pauses at his wife's command, and watches her as she works. The ranger continues to look around. But as she works, he starts to find the trail that was taken away from the camp - hopefully to make sense in which directions the kidnappers turned murders may have headed off.

Once she is done sketching, Talia carefully folds the page and slides it into the bottom of the stack before glancing around again. "I don't know if it will help," she admits as she tucks the paper and charcoal away. "But.. it may," she says and smooths her hair away from her face again, "I hope you're wrong," she admits. "It's one thing to be captured, I would imagine, but the rest.. for her sake, I hope not."

"Things happen. Princess. Sure they wanted to take advantage of." Savaric is nowhere near as hopeful as Talia is. He's led that life, he knows all too well the darkness of man as he watches her work. "Done?" he asks as he prepares to continue gathering up the evidence that the couple seems to have to stumble on. "We will need to give this to our liege. Evidence is damning. Suggests he had hand in it."

Taking out a piece of paper and taking the charcoal from Talia, Savaric kneels down and tries to make a rubbing of the boot prints they found. But, he's not so good at it as the parchment rips in his hands and he makes a disgruntled noise.

Talia waits until Savaric is done with the parchment before she moves quietly to his side, "Husband.. allow me?" she asks, keeping her tone of voice mild, and since he isn't looking at her the gleam of amusement in her eyes isn't hidden.

As he hands over the paper, Savaric isn't really noticing his wife's look of amusement, but he punches her shoulder anyway. That is, before he reaches down, and brushes some dirt. "Step back." he says simply. At their feet, at the foot of the altar where the Princess was sacrificed is several sacrificed crows. Their bodies are scattered about the altar, the blood and feathers against the smooth stone. And in the middle of the stone, pooled beneath the dried blood of the Princess is a large X etched into the stone.

Talia steps back once.. then again… "let me…" she says and once more withdraws the paper and charcoal to add this to the sketches they've already done so far.

Savaric nods, again waiting for her to be done before he collects one of the carrion crows and drops it into an empty bag along with the dagger. "I recognize mark. Father had one. Mark of chaos bringer. Kharnas." he says with a darkening frown. She knows all about his father. "If they are involved.. noone safe. We should go. Now."

"A few more moments," Talia says as she sketches swiftly, trying to make the sketch as precise as accurate as possible. The lines are clean but not terribly artistic, but the image clear enough. She glances up and down, over and over again, the tip of the charcoal moving over the paper rapidly until at last she nods and leans back to eye the sketch and then reality before she folds it - carefully - with the others. She knows that darkening frown and reaches out one hand to touch Savaric's arm, "We'll go," she says then pauses to carefully gather up the ruined gown and tucks that, too, with the rest of the remains they are gathering. "Someone will want this, I think."

"Area tainted. Will inform priestess. Come cleanse." Savaric says, her touch calming him. He draws in a steadying breath and he rises to his full height. "You will speak for us. Better understanding than me. Will need to speak to Prince or Princess Taniford. Present evidence. Chaos bringers in land. Will try to cause war."

Talia makes a small sound, thoughtful really, as she tucks one hand into his, staring around the grisly camp sight before she nods. "Aye, I will speak for us," she promises simply. "You may have to answer questions, and they won't perhaps be said the most cordial of ways," she warns gently.

"I will try to not punch someone in face." Savaric promises. Well, sorta promises. The evidence gathered, the ranger rises fully to his feet and looks towards his wife. "Be prepared. If set up for Rhaedan, we could be target as well. Will not let you be hurt." Again, another promise.

"Me? Hurt? Never," comes Talia's immediate response, her eyes gleaming, head tilting at a stubborn angle. "nonsense. Who would hurt me and risk YOUR wrath?" she reminds as she gives his hand a small tug and begins to lead the way back out and away from this grisly scene.

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