To Track A Murderer

To Track A Murderer
Summary: Kaelea sets out to work on tracking killers, she is joined by Eldrick and his guards.
Date: 08/May/2013
Related: Regarding Princesses being pilfered from their Houses.
Eldrick Kaelea 

Deep Woods
To the experienced eye this overgrown trail was once a well-used road that now serves mainly as a hunting trail. The passage of many wagons has worn deep ruts into the dirt to be filled with water during the rainy season. For two miles the single-lane trail twists and turns, leading travelers far from the main road and into the dark and muted woods. Local folklore pegs this area as haunted by victims waylaid by bandits, while other stories speak of beasts of ancient lore attacking the unwary. In either case, many report a sense of foreboding if they deviate too far from the path. Traveling west leads farther into the woods while to the east the trail leads back to the main thoroughfare.
Wednesday, May 08, 1329

The Ancient Ruins is the jumping off point. Time to come out and see if she could find any trails from here. At the moment, Kaelea is on foot, but her horse is being led behind her, the lead held loosely in a gloved hand. The sun glints off the red heads hair and eyes green as moss regard the Ruins up in the distance. She travels alone.

And Eldrick would never travel alone though it is usually not by choice. The Lohstren Heir is shadowed by two guards and a third who looks to be a more experienced armsman. The rest he has left to protect his sisters due to what's been happening lately, taking no chance. He is also tired of sitting at the inn or entertaining nobles at the castle, wanting to do something productive as the Rhaedan Princess, Amira's elder sister, is now missing. Kaelea can hear the sound of hooves approaching the ruins and all four riders come into view.

While she is walking along at a sedate pace, Kaelea hasn't seen anything except the footprints from the Blue Guards who carried the Taniford princess out of the Ruins on the makeshift stretcher. Nothing new yet. In the tracking mode, she pays attention to everything while doing her best to remain silent. Hearing the hooves, the red head turns to face the incoming nobleman. From the bit of distance, she doesn't recognize him. She's wearing her hardened leather armor, leather gloves and her bow and quiver is over her back.

Eldrick is wearing full armor, taking no chances in case there are more 'Chaos Agents' out and about, and so are his men, the two guardsmen wearing full chainmail and a steel helm while the more experienced man appears to be a tracker as well, wearing woodsman leathers instead of steel armor. Seeing the lone figure, the Lohstren knight raises a hand and the quartet slows to a slow trot. "Mistress Kaelea. Good day, I see that my men and I aren't the only ones with the same ideas."

Kaelea doesn't own full armor, well except gauntlets, so she's wearing what she has. When he's close enough, she recognizes him and offers a sardonic smile, remembering their other brief meeting. "Noble." Not bothering greeting the guards, noble or not. "I'm prepared to track from here to Brivey to wherever the tracks lead me. Travel together?"

"Red." Is the answer back that Eldrick gives Kaelea as his smirk returns, a touch of arrogance and a pinch of amusement mixed into that half grin. "I will go as far as I can. Don't want to give the northerners the wrong idea and have them unfurl their white flags when they see me cresting a hill." The Lohstren does sound rather full of himself at the moment, either due to his successes at the tourney has inflated his ego even more or just believing that those to the north are afraid of his House.

There's a quick flash of appreciation in her eyes but it's gone as soon as it arrives. Kaelea begins walking again, leading her horse with her, letting him follow if he chooses. "I've heard people from the South were scared of the north. Never experienced it until now." The sharp barb in her voice is lessened when she glances up at him with another sardonic twist of her lips. "Yeah I can see they'd be scared, traveling in your large group of four, noble."

A motion by Eldrick has his men dismounting as well as hismelf, wouldn't do to be riding along lazily when the red headed girl is actually walking, even if she was a simple commoner. The barb thrown at him though has the Lohstren snorting, "The north found out just how afraid I was of them during the tourney. And they're lucky to have me helping them with this issue." Though in a way, Eldrick may be trying to find some answers, in case the Rhaedan are actually behindt his plot.

Kaelea bores of her own game and drops it for now because it's convenient. "You can walk, Eldrick?" Aha, so she does remember his name after all. The tease this time is followed by a genuine smile. "So I heard. Top winner of the tournament, right?" Was that respect in her eyes? If so, she doesn't look at him long. "They're lucky to have you searching, definitely."

"For Sword on Foot and Miscellanious Weapons on Foot. Almost took the crown in the race as well but a Varghem Lady was a better rider than I that day." Eldrick says, perhaps a tint of wounded pride in that admission. The teasing comment about him being able to walk is ignored with another smirk before he motions to the tracker he brought with him, "Joseph here is the the tracker. I'm here just to keep an eye out, and to take a look at the area where those… northern commoners claimed to have found the body."

While Kaelea talks, she does look from him back to the trail. Hearing about his success in the events, she gives a nod. "So you're good with your weapon. I'll have to remember that." Though when he brings the attention to his tracker, she stiffens. "I'm tracking." Dissatisfied in sharing that task with anyone else when she has it in her mind to do. As they near the ruins, she ceases talking, opting to concentrate.. and then she finds something. (Since they are still east of the ruins.) Half way buried into the grass, she sees a glint, just barely shining in the lowering sun. She lifts a hand, calling for silence, looking around. Her horse follows her lead and ceases as well so when Kaelea kneels down there in the grass, she picks up the clasp in a leather glove. She frowns as she turns it over into her other glove. "Too large for womens clothing," she murmurs mostly to herself. Finally she lifts her gloved hand so that he may see it too. "Thoughts?"

When Kaelea claims the tracking duties rather proudly and stiffly, Eldrick can't help but laugh in amusement at her reaction, "We'll split up to cover more ground." He does nod to one of the guards to accompany the Lohstren tracker to take a look at another area, towards the north. The remaining guard is left to tend to the horses, keeping them out of the way as the noble knight follows the red head quietly, letting her do her work. There are times to be bossy and commanding, and there are times to remain quiet, letting those who are skilled at their duties focus on the task. The glint was missed by Eldrick until Kaelea kneels down in the grass, "Find something?" When she reveals the clasp, the Lohstren furrows his brows, "Looks like it's made of silver. What's that marking on it?"

Kaelea watches the others drift off on their own for now and she relaxes marginally. "Sounds good, as long as he's good." She grudgingly allows. As he looks at the silver clasp, she arches her brows. "A horse?" Her eyes move to his clothing to see if there's any indication of horses or anything, then to the guard. "Lohstrens are known for their horses."

"He's good, you may be better… though we'll have to see." Eldrick says with a grin as Kaelea appears to soften slightly and allow the noble to find tasks for his men. The other men know that their own pride is on the line and will be working hard to find some clues, not wanting to be outdone by some common girl that has no affiliation to the House. "I see the horse faintly… our sigil is different though." But it does find the sigil of a horse somewhat disconcerting as the red head is right, his House is definitely known for horses. "Any tracks around these areas?"

"Catering to my ego, noble?" Kaelea falls back to her game, her expression doesn't go cool or anything, she just seems to have a habit of it. "So, a horse on a clasp that isn't from a ladies dress. Clue one, whether it has to do with disappearances or not, it could be anything, but you remember that there were a lot of travelers passing through lately, due to the tournament. Even mystery knights. Could be anyone. Or anything."

Eldrick knows that sometimes it's better to use honey than the stick and he is certainly using the former for this volatile red head, not choosing to answer her question. For now, he continues to focus on the clasp that Kaelea has found, making a mental note of what they found before he begins looking around the ground, as if he was also looking for tracks though he hasn't had the proper training to do so. "That's the problem, we'll have to find a lot of clues and even though, most may have to be discarded."

"The only tracks I can find are the ones from the guards who must have found the body." Kaelea belatedly answers his question. "Oh sure, most of whatever we find we'll rule out eventually." Agreeing easily to that. "Well, we can go further in and see if your other guys have found anything. I may make camp out here for tonight though. Either that or go back to the Inn for the night."

The answer about the tracks not being anything substantial is disappointing but Eldrick sees the logic in how they wouldn't be able to find anything other than that clasp. "We can meet up with my men, and I would suggest you return to town with me, Red. If you haven't heard, it's not safe out here. Princesses have been disappearing." Though the words were meant to be light, they are spoken with a bit more seriousness than the noble knight had intended.

"Sure. Let's go and see what your men have uncovered." Kaelea agrees, rising completely and holding the lead after storing the clasp safely. "Town? Yeah I heard how unsafe it is out here, but there's two things that make me not worry. One, I can take care of myself and two, they seem to favor princesses. Something I'll never be."

Walking with Kaelea in the northern direction, where his own men had headed, Eldrick shakes his head, "You may be surprised but royal Princesses aren't fragile porcelain dolls either. Most even have training with the sword or other weapons." As for her never being a Princess, the Lohstren knows just how true her words are, "It may seem like they favor Princesses, but those are the only ones they've announced. Who knows what else is on their agenda, perhaps it's just pretty girls." As they continue, the other Lohstren men can be seen standing by the brush, obviously something attracting their attention.

And a princess is something Kaelea would never want to be. "Honestly, I don't know any of them and I'd rather not." There's no malice there, none at all, just a statement. "Though it's mostly all nobles I have little use for, but don't take that personally. It's a preference." Walking with him, she notices his men gathered around something. "Wonder what it is they've found."

Eldrick isn't surprised when Kaelea shares her view on what she thinks of nobles, actually causing the Lohstren to grin at her words, "Don't worry, I won't. I know that there are some that I want little to do with either, but I don't get that choice." He does see the men looking over the brush as well and he picks up the pace a bit. When one of the guardsmen sees the Heir and the red headed commoner, he approaches and bows, "Sir, we've found something. Looks like some strands of long red hair. No discernible tracks that will tell us anything of use though."

With laughter, Kaelea regards him when he assures her he won't take it personally. When he actually agrees about some he'd rather not spend time with too, well that surprises her and she gives him an appraising look that quickly turns wary when the guards arrive sporting 'evidence' of long red hair. A finger reaches up absently to tug on a coil of her own as she ponders things in silence. The Princesses had dark hair and blonde hair respectively, so it had to belong to a captor or.. A traveler who passed through the woods all the time. Or any number of others. She says nothing as she awaits Eldricks judgment call on that one, not wanting to draw undue attention to herself.

As the evidence is presented, still left on the brush for now, Eldrick studies the strands of red, his brows furrowing slightly. "Fire touched… well done, Joseph. Gather those strands and put them away, carefully. Could be a clue, but could be something unrelated. Is there anything else in the area?" For now, the Lohstren pointedly ignores the other 'tracker', despite Kaelea not wanting to call attention to herself, red hair usually just screams of attention. the guardsmen remain quiet though, it's obvious that they see it too but for now they follow their Lord's lead and decision. They go to work on the brush, two of them carefully parting the shrubbery while the tracker produces some wax sheets, putting the strands in them before folding the sheets and putting them into an leather pack safely. "Sir, there was nothing else we found. Too many tracks in the area to find anything useful." Only then does the Lohstren Heir speak again, "Then ready the horses."

All the while the evidence is gathered, Kaelea remains conspicuously silent, preferring to study expression, note body language. She's as comfortable observing as she is inputting her own opinion into things. Just.. now is not the time for that, besides, she doesn't even know what to make of it. Of course she notices they all know, they can see the likeness. As the evidence is preserved for later use, she breathes a sigh of relief. The command to ready the horses, well that brings a smirk as she gazes at the Lohstren. "I guess here is where we part ways. I'll be heading on towards Laketown."

As the guardsmen head off to back to their horses, Eldrick remains where he is for now with Kaelea, noting her silence till the end. The sigh of relief may be presumptuous because the Lohstren soon turns his gaze on the red head, shaking his head at her words. "I'm afraid I cannot allow that, Kaelea." Her name is now used, perhaps a measure of how serious the noble is right now, "I would like to escort you back to Wolveshire, just a precaution. I hope you understand?" For now, he is being mannerly, despite the possible implication the red hair may have.

Kaelea had been testing the waters when she'd made the suggestion so it wasn't unexpected when he told her otherwise, but it doesn't stop the fire in her eyes but it does have her holding her tongue. Mostly. "I'm not going back with you, willingly." There, spelled out. If he was taking her, he had to arrest her.

Eldrick recognizes the fire in those eyes and knows of the inner strength that Kaelea has, which translates more or less into stubbornness, which is revealed as expected. That only causes the Lohstren to sigh in resignation, having not wished to deal with it in this manner, "Are you afraid that you'll be mistreated? To be made into a scapegoat if no culprit is found?" Framed for a lack of better word, easy to do since she is a commoner.

"I just don't care to go back and find out either way." Kaelea watches him, her hand loosening on her reins just slightly so that she can slide them down the leather lead and she can hop on her horse and get away.

The last thing that Eldrick wants to do is to chase a girl through the woods, he is confident in his riding skills but he knows that she has the advantage of knowledge of terrain, or at least he assumes she does. For now, he doesn't call his guards, yet. "Did you do it?" The question is blunt and direct, though he knows what her answer would be.

Being deliberately obtuse, Kaelea edges closer to the saddle horn so she can grab it and pull herself up. "I always travel these woods. I'm not saying the hair is or isn't mine, but it could be. I live in these woods." Finally she does make her move, reaching for the saddle horn and easily lifting herself into the leather seat, reins still loosely in hand. "Do you think I did it?" Her voice is flat.

"No, I don't think you did it. If you did, you'd be a really stupid girl to help with the tracking. And you are right, the hair doesn't mean anything right now, just something we found. Just like that silver buckle." Eldrick says, still not stopping her, though his guards are now looking back at them from a distance, some of them mounted and waiting. "But if you disappear, especially after finding this, some of the nobles who aren't as… rational or sensible, may jump to conclusions. Come back with me, Kaelea, and I will promise you you'll be fairly treated until we find all the evidence and sort through it. We need to find the person who did this and your skills are invaluable." Maybe not extreme but he is trying to use some flattery to coax the red head into complying.

"Maybe I was helping to try and hide or plant evidence." Kaelea says with more than a little mutiny in her tone. "That's always possible too, isn't it?" Gently tugging on the one of the leather straps in her hand, she turns the horse towards the guards, her expression turning grim. "If you're holding me for questioning, at least take this." Withdrawing the silver clasp with the horse on it that she had carefully wrapped in cloth. "They'll never take it seriously if it comes from me now." Holding it out to him, she waits for him to take it before she takes the reins in hand again. "Hyah!" Urging her horse to a gallop back towards town. Conversation over.

A smirk appears as Kaelea tosses in that suggestion, "Maybe… if you're that clever, then I really have to look out for you." Reaching up, Eldrick accepts the silver buckle from the red head, "We can tell them that if they start to poke around, but /I'll/ be the one holding you. Not a Varghem dungeon, unless something changes." Something damningly incriminating. When she kicks her horse into a gallop, Eldrick is glad to see that it is in the direction of Wolvershire so he nods to his guards to follow before taking a look around the area once more. Then he moves to his own steed to ride back, and catch up to Kaelea if she isn't blazing a path back.

When he catches up with her, she looks over at him and frowns. "You honestly think…" Kaelea falls silent and shrugs then, "Whatever you say, Eldrick." Opting to use his name now, not as flippant as she was before.

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