Daerundros sighed as she trotted a few amble paces away from the main road and through the darkness of the night. Grass swayed too and fro relaxingly as she made her way through hills and plains, watching the stars distantly with a distant expression on her face. There was always something unexpected about the Bree-lands, Daerundros had come to expect; Oftentimes she would pass by small cottages and farm-lands, and even more seldom could she see a flickering light within; Many instances a mother putting her child to sleep, or a father in deep discussion with his wife. It seemed so many of these quaint homes were scattered unevenly around the land, sometimes with even two Farm-houses huddled together closely, or a house holding two families.
Daerundros made great care to ride past as far as she could. Namely, the entire land may come to alarm if they saw the "Creature of the Brandywood" ride past their windows, and even more shock if they found the unconscious form of a captive on her back!
The Brigand lulled behind her motionlessly, still fazed in unconsciousness. He was a brutish sort, with squint eyes and dirt-matted brown hair. He was lying face-down behind Daerundros, his hands and his feet bound by rope.
Ariagne had been lured away to the Brigand's cruel talons as she went after Daerundros, who had made all due haste to transport a drunken Sefa back to Bree and leave her before she was spotted. Having been miffed already at her mistake of giving Sefa Elvish wine, she was driven to annoyance as she was forced to listen to the woman's ramblings about random, unintelligible subjects. Daerundros promptly left her by the West-gate of Bree, taking care to ride away before someone emerged and raised alarm over the strange creature on her fair horse.
But soon Daerundros came back feeling guilt-ridden, and for Sefa's sake, consented to stay in Bree, near the proximity of the Prancing Pony. Due to her self-imposed apologies and duties she also consented to enter the tavern; But as soon as she set foot into the musty, grimy Inn she immediately regretted her choice and began to hide wherever she could, disliking the unfamiliar feeling, and especially the attitudes of many drunks, one of whom jeered after her, calling her attractive. It was followed by a quick retort of disgust, and after much persuasion, Daerundros convinced Sefa to let her outside. Sefa herself seemed to be aware of how affected Daerundros seemed to be.
"Sleep, little child, let the nightmares retreat...."
A voice made her stop in her tracks. Realizing she was in plain sight in front of the window of a farmhouse, she hurriedly commanded her horse to retreat a few paces back. The Voice was sweet, a mid-riff high soprano presumably uttering a lullaby. Peering hastily through the window, Daerundros could see a woman, aged about nineteen winters, with brown hair and brown eyes, as typical of a Bree-lander, swinging a bundle-wrapped baby, who appeared to be sleeping... but something was not quite right.
"Sleep, little child, let the nightmares retreat, let the darkness ward away, and let your dreams be soothed.."
The mother, youthful and attractive in her own right, began to croak lamely as her song descended into soft muttering and whispers. Beside her were seated a man, presumably her husband, and much, much older than her, and a woman clothed in simple peasant's robes, carrying what appeared to be a bag full of sweet-smelling things. The scent wafted over to Daerundros, who inhaled deeply, before quietly spluttering and coughing, for the scent of burned food had also mixed with the sweet smell. Her eyes watered a bit at the smoke punching down her throat.
"I's... nuffin' won' 'elp 'ey?" The man stated, looking sadly at his baby, who was still very quiet and gave no indication of being alive at all.
"I can' 'elp ye, mis'er. I'm sorry. She's gone an' dyin' as we speak. Won' be long before she's dead." The older woman seated on the table stated, wiping her brow.
At these words the younger woman burst into tears, hugging and clutching at her death-doomed daughter. The daughter hardly responded to her calls and cries, the peaceful look on her face becoming evermore disturbing to watch. The mother called her child to wakefulness, but the child lay still dreaming, unaware of her doom...
The scene before her stirred Daerundros to pity. Something had to be done. The child had to be cured. Immediately she was reminded of the fiasco regarding Faeranir, and her eyes watered more at the thought of mother losing baby, something she had never, ever seen before in her five-thousand year lifespan.
She began rummaging in her pack, watching the sleeping baby as she searched for her desired object. It was a very pale baby... almost sheet-white. Daerundros could hear how heavy it's breathing came, despite the peaceful look the infant itself maintained... Every heartbeat, even though she could not hear it, she knew was fading gradually, being sucked out of her by the deathly illness. She knew the skin was cold to the touch... the warmth was gone within her now. It was a near-dead infant... a poor soul lost to death. The baby did not even look very old... Daerundros could guess it was born sick.
It broke her heart to watch the torment of the grieving family, the mother in clear anguish over her baby's sickness. The baby had never opened it's eyes. It would never see it's parents, it would never see the world... it would only lie in sleep, dreaming in the darkness, before the wings of death would sweep the child away into the circles outside the world, into eternal rest before her life had even begun.
Daerundros doubted her healing herbs would have the strength to completely cure the illness. She could only hope it would take most of the Baby's suffering away.
With quiet footsteps she sprang off her horse and made her way to the other side of the small cottage, to the window where the healer and the husband were seated. Carefully making sure both of the mannish figures were distracted, she then threw a small pouch of sweet-smelling Kingsfoil herbs into the window. It landed almost soundlessly on the table before the figures.
With no time to waste Daerundros ran back to her horse and whispered for a move. It complied, quietly trotting a good distance away before galloping over the fields. The Gate was near again... Daerundros dreaded it, but it was the middle of the night.
The gates were closed. Daerundros sighed in relief. Carefully lifting the man down to the floor, he made a quiet thud as he was deposited on the cobblestone road connecting the East and West Road. The guards would find him in the morning.
This was the chance for Ariagne to be free again... she smiled as she began writing down as simple as possible, careful not to make her writing appear too elvish:
I bring this message to you to inform you that this Brigand has been captured. He is a wanted criminal, so I hear.. I ask you, in exchange for this brigand knave, to unbrand me as a criminal. If this letter does not convince you, then I am sure what the parcel holds will.
With this, Daerundros laid the parcel and the letter next to the still-lifeless body of the brigand, and rode away.
What was contained within the parcel was never told until it was found by the guards in the morning. It did certainly hold enough sway over them to unbrand Ariagne Yarrow as an outlaw, however.