The Chance to Investigate

Pheadra |The afternoon sun was high, chasing away the last of the morning's chill, and seemed cheerful in contrast to the mood of the town. Leather clad boots kicked up the rain-dampened earth as Pheadra moved up toward the mead hall. Her hood shaded her pale eyes, but it didn't stop her from squinting at the form she saw ahead of her. She lifted her hand in greeting, and when she grew close, she smiled faintly in recognition, as was her usual demeanor. "Hail, Haeneth. I am glad to see you at last."

Haeneth happened along Pheadra on her stroll through town, taking in what little had changed on her last pass through Cranborne. Her smile was worn for all the townsfolk, but it warmed when she noticed her waelisc friend. "Pheadra," she called the woman by her common name. "You heard my word, then."

Pheadra nodded and pushed back her hood a bit. Her hair was pushed back from a face that was smudged with dirt from the day's ride and most recent scouting. "Indeed, and I arrived as swiftly as I could. Have you spoken to Dytha at all? Has she mentioned what I reported?"

Haeneth held out her hand, offering the woman to walk with her so that their conversation might not invite lurkers. "I have. The party further east—have they moved on?"

Pheadra nodded and walked beside the woman, keeping her voice low to avoid the same attention she sought to avoid by moving. "Some have. Those who were injured remained behind. I questioned them, and received conflicting answers. Some spoke of half-orc men involved in the attack. This bodes ill, if it is true." She waited a few paces, then added, "Agamaran is here." Her gaze turned to the small lawn of grass as they walked. "And he suggested a scouting party to learn the truth of these rumors. I agree with him." Finally she turned her gaze back to her comrade, but only for a moment as they continued on.

Haeneth listened quietly, her gaze pleasant as they passed the townsfolk about their work. It paled only a little. "Has he made his presence known to everyone, or only to you?"

Pheadra took the cue and answered in the same tone, or perhaps she did not feel the need to make more of it. "He was in the mead hall, and he was not known to me, leastways not by anything but in name. I bid him to make himself known, and he did." She tread on their path another few paces, then added, "I do not think Dytha was happy to know him."

Haeneth winced, wrinkles and scars thinned. "She would not be, but I expected more diplomacy from her, especially as he is here to help her and Thorvall." She pushed her hair behind her ear—a tick her daughter inherited. "I agree with you both. If there are other pockets of outlaws we should know where they are, keep watch on them, and see if they are not known to each other."

Pheadra |"She was terse, but not rude. He did not seem offended." Getting back to the matter at hand, she continued, "We three would do well to look into this rumor. There may yet be more information to glean from what has been revealed. I understand it to be literally a matter of life and death. Is that true?"

Haeneth 's gaze dipped into the waterlogged trenches the carts had carved in the road. "It is, and we have little time left, according to Dytha. The people of this town seem content to let it be forgotten, before it is already settled. The attack was not on their people, but traders from further on, and their goods were returned to them. They have little invested. The boy is...not well-liked."

Pheadra nodded in understanding, "Then we must be swift in discovering the truth of these rumors. I do not know when he intended to do it, and Agamaran left the hall before I had the chance to ask. He may yet be nearby." She paused to look back at the town and then to Haeneth once more, "What do you believe to be at the root of it? My instinct tells me there is more to it than mere brigandry."

Haeneth muttered, "You know my mind on these matters. There is always a cause. I have heard rumors, but none I am willing to follow, yet."

Pheadra |"Even more reason to see what we may find." She breathed a sigh, "Once we know for certain, then the next steps will be obvious." She glanced at Haeneth sidelong, "Surely there will not be a problem, joining our efforts to investigate it."

Haeneth kept her gaze on the road. "I foresee no problem. These raids are the only trouble I have heard of in the foothills that are out of the ordinary, and I would barely call them that."

Pheadra said, “Agreed. The coincidence of circumstances are what set it apart, I think. At least from what I have been told of it. I would have us set out as soon as we may, lest the trail grow cold.”

Haeneth 's smile for the peasant-folk kept the frown from her brow. "This would not be our fight, otherwise. It was right to see the boy delivered, but I believe we linger here on Dytha's suspicion. The many she's looking for may be dead, but if he's not, that's reason enough for her to stay. I trust her on this, for the time being."

Pheadra nodded and turned to rest her hand against a fence post as she paused, "I would not tarry here if that was the case, and it was determined that the Enemy is truly not involved. But if that proves to be so, I would have good reason to see that it is dealt with."

Haeneth grew quiet at the mention of the Enemy, shadowy and elusive as it was. She looked up from the road to the towers that rimmed the town. "I would not linger here, either. The Isen is our true focus, but we are close enough that the peace of these hills is still of import. If the Thane can handle the trouble here, then we can move on. The boy, though..."

Pheadra looked over to Haeneth, "Treason is not handled lightly in these lands, and the punishment has been doled out quite liberally of late. I understand that you and Thorvall wish to right those wrongs."

Haeneth muttered, her tone tense. "We are indebted to the law here where in other places we have not been." She glanced at Pheadra. "I mean that we must keep our appearances. I would not ask you to do the same."

Pheadra kept her voice low as it had been as she replied, "I would not, in any case. It is not part of my mandate, but neither is ignoring a credible threat to these lands."

Haeneth |"The boy is not a threat, but failing him would weigh on Dytha. The man who recruited him might not be a threat, either, but if she can bring him to justice, it would be a relief to her." She shoved her fingers through her cropped hair. "A reward, maybe, for anyone who has news that leads to another arrest."

Pheadra mused, "Failing him could set a dangerous precedent, as well, of pinning such crimes onto those deemed to be lesser men." She turned to look at Haeneth, "I know you would be prudent in exploring any news you may be given from such a reward."

Haeneth grumbled. "If we were not spread so thin, we would know the comings and goings of strangers. Though this town seems more open to them than some." Her brow loosened. "It might not be a wholly bad thing that these folk do not ask questions."

Pheadra said, “We would know more than that, I venture, and perhaps many things would be different, but alas they are not. It is a bit out of character that they would be so open, is it not?”

Haeneth shook her head. "The boy didn't know the man who recruited him. He was an outsider. Usually, folk are eager to point the finger to someone who isn't one of their own, but I imagine the boy is an outsider enough for them. That, or there's other trouble." Her brow puckered. "Why else would they keep silent?"

Pheadra said, “It could be as you say, and the boy is thought poorly enough that some believe his punishment is inconsequential. What other trouble could you mean? Something political?”

Haeneth resumed her pleasant smile for the sake of passers-by. "They may have been threatened, or paid off, or they could be all in it together. Maybe the boy was always going to take the blame."

Pheadra was stoic, but not dour, and she spoke with a care-worn tone, "All the more reason to learn the truth of what was seen, and find those who were injured in the attack." She sighed slowly and furrowed her brow in thought.

Haeneth nodded. "I will ride with you when you and Agamaran are ready."

Pheadra turned her pale gaze up to the darkening sky. "In the morn, I think. I do not know where he has gone. Perhaps you might."

Haeneth turned her gaze into the trees. "Finding him has never been my talent. Seeking him, however..."

Pheadra looked over to Haeneth silently for a moment and arched one of her dark brows. "I could help track him if-..." She trailed off, realizing that is not what she meant. Her head bowed slightly as she gave a quiet cough, "I mean to say, I will see if I can find him, if that is better."

Haeneth glanced at Pheadra, an apology in her smile. "He should make himself known again, if he knows of your plans."

Pheadra shrugged and ran her hand over the back of her hair, combing fruitlessly through the dark strands, "'Twas his plan, in all honesty. I only agreed to it."

Haeneth |"So he decides to stay..." she mulled, as if it had been a question up to that point. Her thoughts worked behind her eyes.

Pheadra turned her gaze to Haneth from the corner of her eyes, "Does that trouble you?" Pheadra said, “In truth, I was glad to meet him. I have heard his name from the mouths my brethren enough times, and from your own.”

Haeneth shook her head, but the corner of her lip was taught. "I have questions, but I do not expect all, or any, to be answered. It wouldn't be my place to ask."

Pheadra nodded and went silent for a few moments, then said quietly, "Sometimes I am glad my heart has not tasted that bitterness."

Haeneth whispered, "I do not regret it. It was worth it, despite the...despite it all."

Pheadra shifted somewhat. The topic was a foreign one for her. "Regret is wasted. I have had many seasons, and it seems friends come and go with them at times..." She paused, once more realizing it was not quite what the woman meant. "I believe you are where you ought to be," she said at last, with a soft nod.

Haeneth |"I agree with you," she muttered, glancing down the road. "Sometimes that is what worries me."

Pheadra shook her head and turned to her, "Worry that all is well and you have ended where fate has bid you to go?" She said, '"hile that is a dour outlook, I do not disagree." Pheadra looked at Haeneth again, but held her tongue. Behind her eyes, thoughts blossomed and shed their petals, unspoken. She nodded with a furrowed brow, "Perhaps that is when we make our own."

Haeneth's shoulders loosened as they followed the road as it coughed out onto the outskirts of town. Even after a decade of visiting Thanedoms large and small, towns brought her no comfort. "Thorvall would say it is always our fate to make our own."

Pheadra said, "I do not know him, but from what you have spoke of him, that seems fitting."

Haeneth chuckled fondly, her gaze drifting back towards the road. "I am curious what you will think when you meet him."

Pheadra knitted her brow and pursed her lips in thought, "So long as his welcome is warmer than Cenaith's."

Haeneth smirked. "It will be. It took Cenaith and I...a long time to understand each other. He's not partial to your people, I hate to say."

Pheadra shrugged her brow with a light frown. "There are many who would agree with them, but I do not begrudge them. Our way is a secret one. If that garners nothing more than uneasiness, then so be it."

Haeneth nodded. "He should know better, but I can't know his mind. It has been years since we rode together."

Pheadra looked up at the sky and nodded, "All things in time." She looked back to Haeneth. "I think I will ride out a ways and see what I can see before the sun sets. I think Saelind is restless."

Haeneth glanced back towards town. "I want to talk to some of the townsfolk before they retire, as well." She turned to Pheadra, and for the first time held open an arm to embrace her shoulder. "Thank you for meeting."

Pheadra |"Of course," she said simply and returned the embrace as best as she may while adorned with bow and quiver. "I would hear what they have to say, should you find some news. I will be close at hand for the time being."

Haeneth |"Tomorrow," she promised, "I will be ready at the waking hour."

Pheadra |"As will I. Farewell for now, my friend." With that, she slid her hood up over her head and made her way to the stable.

Chat Log: 04/15