Travelling Incognito

Travelling Incognito
Summary: Two travellers on the road, going by the names 'Wolf' and 'Cricket' stop by a campfire in the woods south of Laketown, and meet a Priestess of the Covenant: Cafell. It appears to be the right place, at the right time…
Date: 12/06/2013
Related: None
Castor Coriaria Cafell 

Deep Woods, Taniford Wilderness
The road connecting Laketown in the north and Wolveshire in the south is a winding one, cutting through the looming Althearan blackwood trees. Made with carts and wagons in mind, the road winds around the larger of the hills. Those monstrous blackwoods tower overhead; in summer the leaves provide a canopy from the sun and skeletons of the branches reach out in the winter, like a dead man's fingers. Around one of the bends the road opens up and grass has grown in a meadow, free from the shade of the trees. A favorite spot for weary travelers, a small spring provides a steady stream of fresh, cool water. And since it's a favorite of travelers, it is also a favorite of bandits that make the woods their home. Some call it a waystation, while other's name it the 'bandit hole.'

To the north, one may find themselves in Laketown, while the south leads to Wolveshire.

12th June, 1329

The stars and the moon are obscured by dark clouds that are drifting in a sea of black. The air is still warm and rich with the incense of leaf mold, summer flowers other vegetation and wood smoke. A soft breeze whispers to the trees causing them to shake and shiver as they respond in low murmur. Crickets and fogs serenade the moonless and starless night. In small clearing a camp fire burns brightly like beacon. The flames lick, snap and crackle as it consumes its fuel. The smoke keeps the buzzing mosquitoes away. In the in the ring of light that the camp fire offers two large beasts have been tethered. They seem huge as the light shifts and moves their shadows. Another figure that is more human looking sits near the fire quietly.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Castor=stealth Vs Cafell=perception
< Castor: Good Success Cafell: Success
< Net Result: Castor wins - Solid Victory

Waiting in the shadows at the edge of the clearing… is a young man. Quite tall, cloaked and hooded. He has a hunting bow in his left hand and an arrow nocked to the string, but the bow is neither raised nor drawn. Further back from the clearing waits his horse and his monstrous, shaggy-haired fenhound — both in the care of another figure. He watches in silence for a while, before quietly sliding the arrow back into its quiver at his hip — then he takes a breath, stands up, and makes a show of treading into the clearing, and the light of the campfire.

He holds up his hands. "Silltha's peace upon you, Priestess; I am travelling with a companion — we make for Laketown. I was wondering if perhaps we might share your fire? We have food and drink with us."

In the flickering light of the fire, the man's features become visible — especially after he pulls back his hood: youthful, goateed, with a mane of unruly black hair. He is armed: sabre, dirk and bow, and all are either sheathed or slung over his shoulder — but his hands are free. He wears leather armor from head to toe, with no insignia or House colours.

Startled does not even begin to describe the look on the woman's face. Every muscle is pulled tighter than a bow string. The woman has one hand on her heart and another hand on a small cast iron pot. Her mouth opens and then it closes and then she opens it again, but no voice comes out. She looks at him and then casts a side long glance at the growing darkness and the shadows that her fire is casting. Her features are strong and she is a handsome woman but she does not possess a beauty that bards will sing about long after her youth has faded. Nor does she have a face that would launch a thousand ships.

She lets go of her pot and then takes her hand from her chest. She then motions at him with a wave of her hand before she points to an empty spot near the fire.

The lad smiles easily at the woman, and remains still with his hands spread in a friendly fashion for a few moments more. Then he offers the woman a polite bow. "My name is Wolf," he says with a roguish smile. "I have with me, my travelling companion: Cricket — he is minding the horses and my hound. I… didn't want to startle you; I know the roads are more dangerous than usual, given current events. I assure you — we intend you no harm. I myself am in fact travelling to Laketown to join the Temple. I will be one of the Chosen, if the Four are willing."

He glances over his shoulder and whistles like a nightingale. In moments, his massive fenhound trots into view and takes his position at Castor's (rather, Wolf's) side. Wolf turns to the woman.

"Might I know your name, Priestess?" he asks politely.

The woman frowns in the firelight and she looks like she is searching for something mentally. The quiet seems to grow around them until all that is heard is the crackling fire, the crickets and frogs. When the dog comes into the clearing there is the sound of horse and mule snorting. That is when the woman finds her voice. "Wren and Rose, it is alright." Her voice is very quiet. She then takes a deep breath as if gathering courage to speak. "My name Cafell, I am healer for the temple, I am on circuit." She pauses for a moment again. "You and your companion Cricket are welcome to join me Wolf. I was about to make dinner it is but stew made of dried meat, but founds some wild onion and I have carrots and turnips in it along with some other herbs. I can make enough for us all. I would be delight for the company.

"What is your dog's name? Do you need anything for your journey?" She very slowly moves to stand so that she can get more supplies from her pack that has been hefted up a tree. She has towering figure that stands over six feet and her robes are neatly patched and travel worn. She moves to loosen a rope and she carefully lowers the pack. Once this is done she gathers more supplies. As she does this she casts a look in his direction watching him.

Wolf's hand goes to scratch the immense hound behind the ear playfully. "His name is Cerberus. He's harmless — fenhounds are extraordinarily intelligent. Loyal too." He glances back over his shoulder to see his companion tending to the horses, just out of the clearing. He turns back to Cafell, smiling broadly.

"Cricket's shy. But the horses need to graze, so he's taking care of that." He reaches into his backpack and pulls out a wineskin, a wooden cup and a bowl — but before he pours, he offers the wineskin to Cafell.

"A healer? I have some knowledge of that as well! You said you were on circuit? Is Laketown your destination, or merely another stop upon a longer road?"

"I stop for supplies and to speak with the Mother Superior, she is a very good woman, very kind, I am fond of her." Cafell nods her head. "I do not mind, please let Cricket know that understand shyness." She says in a gentle soft manner that is almost pensive. She sees him hold out the wineskin towards her and she reaches for it. "Thank you." Once she has it in her hand she moves to pour a little into a wooden cup. She then holds it back out to him. "You said you were joining the temple? Do you have a calling?"

With that question asked she moves to start putting ingredients in the pot for travelers stew.

Wolf nods in reply — keeping quiet for now, while the stew is cooking. Then, when it is ready, he pours some of it into a bowl and then takes it to Cricket who is tethering the horses. The two travellers' hands twitch and flicker minutely (concealed from Cafell's sight) and then the lad returns to the campfire. He pours himself some stew next and smiles at Cafell.

"A Calling, aye. Mother Superior Tylon, and the Chosen — Alyona — are well-known to us. Your skills must be greatly sought-after, with all that is happening." He smiles and eats quietly. "Have you always been a Priestess?"

"My parents and I had strong words when I was fourteen winters old; I left to join the temple. Before I had been in the care of those in the temple since I was four. Not this temple but another temple." She grows quiet again and there is a thoughtful look on her face as she searchers for the right words. "I would say that all with a calling and any who are spiritually aware are needed in times like these. Also any who has some of the healing skill are needed whether they be a noble or commoner. We of the Temple are in a unique position. We are of neither kingdom, but it still affects us."

"Why are you joining? what do you feel your calling is?" She offers him a slow smile that brightens her eyes.

At the mention of 'strong words' with one's parents, Wolf lifts his eyebrows and gives a knowing, rueful nod of his head. He lowers the bowl of stew and reaches back for the wineskin. "I think I know what you mean. In short — we (Cricket and I) stayed in the Temple not too long ago. We learned a great deal there. Some lessons were easier than others…"

He trails off, frowning in thought.

"We found a sense of purpose there — and from purpose comes freedom. …I'm still new to this, so I hope my answer is sufficient. I have to confess I was surprised to find one of the Covenant travelling without a Chosen protector. You are welcome to travel with us the rest of the way, if you wish."

"I shall and it is a kind offer." Cafell says to him. "Sometimes we have to, other times it is a lesson we must learn. You will never see me take a vow of silence. The circuit and traveling alone have taught me that my voice needs to be heard and should not be lost. If I were with a Chosen I would lose it and rely on that person to be my voice. I am but one of many healers that the temple has produced. I think the chosen better things to do than to worry about me." She points out with a smile as she move to get some stew once they have been fed. "One thing I have learned is that just when we think we know everything and have everything figured out, everything around us changes. Our lives are like the season. In time your parents will forgive you. But it will not happen overnight. Did they give you their blessings?"

Wolf glances over his shoulder toward his companion, Cricket, and the horses. Then, he returns his gaze toward Cafell and nods. "Aye! Freedom to choose our own path… and now our path takes us to Laketown, and from there? … We cannot say, as yet. That is up to the Guardians."

He returns to finishing off his stew, and nods gratefully to Cafell. "Please, help yourself to more wine if like. This is a personal favourite — a good year!" He grins and holds out the wineskin again. "From which town did you say you were from? Originally, that is. We may have other mutual acquaintances."

"I did not, my family and I do not speak, but I do still speak to my brother, he is a stonemason. When I get to the temple I will send him a letter. I have not seen him in a long time." Her smile when she speaks of her brother lights up her face and her voice remains quiet and soft but it is warm now. Warm like a gentle summers breeze. "Forgive me speaking so much, it is the wine. I am not used to drinking it." She moves to take the wineskin and to pour herself some more into wood cup. She hands the wineskin back to him. "How about you goodman?" She asks him. "What town are you from?" She takes a small sip of the drink.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Castor=Deception Vs Cafell=Perception
< Castor: Good Success Cafell: Success
< Net Result: Castor wins - Marginal Victory

Wolf nods, still smiling at the woman as he receives the wineskin back. "Back to the Southwest. Not far from Wolveshire if my accent does not quite give me away." He grins and takes a swig from the wineskin before putting it away in his satchel again. "My father is an apothecary, my mother a healer — both dedicated to their craft." He glances back toward his shy companion and smirks.

"I won't speak for Cricket; his story is his own to tell. We should — " He stops speaking suddenly when a twig cracks from several meters away, obscured in the darkness. Frowning, the lad quietly removes his bow, and when his right hand is at his side, his fingers flicker just a little — and Cricket leaves the horses' side.

"I thought I heard something…" he mumurs…

Her ears would be perked if she were an animal. The horse and mule stamp their feet, Cafell warps her arms around herself for a moment. She takes a deep breath and slowly lets it out. She eyes are wide. She then moves inch by inch and she picks up the pot of hot stew. She sits there waiting.

The forest grows quiet. The only sound is the crackle of the fire. Not a star can be seen the night is as black as pitch. The sound of breathing, deep heavy steady.

She looks to him and then at the forest.

<FS3> Castor rolls Stealth: Success.

Wolf reaches quietly for an arrow and holds a finger up to his lips. Then he mouths the words: Weapons. Then he ducks to the side of the little clearing, and in an instant…

…there is no sign of him. Or his companion. The horses are restless; their nickering can be heard quite clearly now, above the quiet of the woods.

Two figures step into the light of the campfire, just at the edge of the clearing. Both human. Both male. Both armed with notched daggers and shortswords.

"Well, lookee what we have here!" says the larger of the two, to his shorter, thinner companion. "Just sit yer pretty self down there — and ye can tell us where yer companions are. Mind if we join ye?"

Of Wolf, there is still no sign.

With nod of her head as he slips away the priestess moves towards her bed roll. She reaches for a simple staff. She swallows hard when they enter and for a long time she just stares at them her eyes wide and her voice lost. She closes her eyes for a moment as if saying a prayer then she opens them again and she just stares at them. She swallows again. Her words are halting and they come out in stammer. "Pppeace if you are to come here to this fire." She manages to get out. "There is naught for you here but I will share my fffire and what I have for food." She offers. "I do not know what you speak of but may the guardians keep you. You are about to walk a path and you have a choice." That comes out clearly.

<FS3> Castor rolls Marksmanship: Good Success.

The shorter of the two highwaymen snorts a laugh at the woman, and nudges his taller, larger companion. "'Ere that? I think we bagged ourselfs a holy wench! An' a free dinner! Don' mind if I do — "

As he takes a step to cross over the clearing to Cafell, the bigger man puts a hand on his chest. "Hold on there — I heard two voices afore I could see whatever. Clear as a bell. Two." And holds up three fingers.

Two arrows suddenly pierce through the darkness, into the fire-light and puncture the larger man in the chest — from two directions. One arrow passes in between the brute's ribs, on a slightly upward angle. Whoever fired it did so from the ground, or very close to it. The second arrow his the man in the neck.

While the large one topples over backward with a gurgle, the smaller highwayman blinks, gasps and then makes a lunge for Cafell, despite being more than a few feet from her.

<FS3> Cafell rolls Bludgeons: Success.

Blood is the one thing that does not startle the priestess she moves to dart out of his way and she puts the staff between him and her. She quickly as she can she moves to use the staff smack the man on the arm. "Enough please." She pleads. "No more tonight." Her tone is still pleading. She casts a glance at the downed man then back at the other man.

Blood now covers the other mans chest. Dark bloody foam comes from his mouth as he tries to breathe.

The smaller one snarls and yelps he brings his sword up and he eyes the darkness looking for safety.

<FS3> Castor rolls Marksmanship: Failure.

As one of the highwaymen lies dying, the second spins about and turns to run! Another arrow flies out of the darkness, grazing the man's sword-hand, causing him to drop the weapon and bolt! Wolf emerges from the far side of the clearing, scowling deeply.

The lad's free hand (his right) twitches slightly, and from within the shadows, a bird whistles (or someone making a rather good impression of a bird-whistle). "I give you your life!" Wolf calls out to the fleeing brigand, his hand at his mouth to project his voice. "Do not come here again!" He scowls once more and stalks across the clearing toward the other man — now dead. He lets out a breath.

"In truth, I was aiming for his throat — but I stepped straight into a spider web. Ugh." He glances at the body. "Cricket will see to the animals. I will bury this one. Are you at all hurt, Priestess?"

Cafell says, "He needs prayers said to send him off and his body still needs to be prepared." Her voice is more sure as she says this. It is definitely less pensive. She gets her waterskin and a bandage. She lays her hand on the dying man's face and she stays with him the light fades from his eyes. She murmurs soft prayers and she then she moves to prepare his body. Her movements are swift and practiced.

She sniffs a little bit. "I was hoping they would choose to just sit and share our fire." She says softly. "I hope the other has learned." She frowns. "Thank you, if you were not here this would have ended differently. You were just where you needed to be.""

"He needs prayers said to send him off and his body still needs to be prepared." Her voice is more sure as she says this. It is definitely less pensive. She gets her waterskin and a bandage. She lays her hand on the dying man's face and she stays with him the light fades from his eyes. She murmurs soft prayers and she then she moves to prepare his body. Her movements are swift and practiced.

She sniffs a little bit. "I was hoping they would choose to just sit and share our fire." She says softly. "I hope the other has learned." She frowns. "Thank you, if you were not here this would have ended differently. You were just where you needed to be."

Wolf, waiting first while Cafell prays, then goes about retrieving his bloodied arrows and cleaning them. At the end of the prayers, he stops and looks back behind himself into the shadows, then then to Cafell. "That is… aye, that is one way of looking at it. Perhaps you are right, Cafell." The arrows go back into his quiver, and he prepares to drag the body away and out of the clearing. The blood upon the dirt, has more dirt spread over it to hide the stains.

Wolf, just before leaving to bury the body, glances again at the priestess. "It is not safe to travel by night, and I do not trust that other one will stay away. Sleep safely, Cafell — Cricket can take the first watch, while I deal with this." He smiles thinly at the woman, and his fingers twitch again at his side.

"At dawn, we ride. 'Tis time to answer a Calling."

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