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Old Jul 3rd, 2014, 06:09 PM
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Belros Belros is offline
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Tales of the Thorn River

Gozran 3 – Oathday
Dawn broke crisp and cold over the Narlmarch Wood. The snow that began the previous day continued to fall through the night. What started out as a light dusting had now grown into six inches of cover on the ground and deeper in some of the banks. Normally the camp would hunker down and try to stay warm but things hadn’t been right for several days. Happs Bydon and his men were four days overdue from collecting taxes from Oleg. This fact caused the volatile Kressle further down the path of insanity as she worried over her lover. Two days ago they sent a group north to check on them and they hadn’t returned either. All of this caused a worry among everyone around the camp and led to all the men trying to stay busy and out of the wrath of Kressle.

“You playin’ with dolls again, Felton?!”

John Felton looked up from his whittling and glared at the man making the joke. Cullen Oarson was a bear of a man. Thick, dark, black hair and beard circled a large face that only smiled when he was having fun at the expense of someone else. Most of the others in the camp steered clear of Cullen out of fear. Standing over six feet tall and as thick as a tree trunk he preferred killing with his bare hands. It was because of that that Felton didn’t fear him. He was clumsy with a blade and Felton was not. He was confident that if it came to it he could slice open Cullen’s throat or gut him before the man had time to crack open his skull. Cullen nudged the man walking with him who laughed at his joke more out of duty than anything else. Farrand Tyree was a shadow of Cullen. A thin and devious man he stuck close to Cullen for protection. Although he smirks at the joke of Cullen he quickly drops it as he also fears the knives of Felton.

Turning back to the small wooden block in his hand, Felton continues to carve out the fine lines of the princess’ face. The little figurine would make a nice gift for Ciara; when or if he got a chance to see her again.

“CULLEN! TYREE! FELTON! VOLKAN! Saddle the horses!”

The shrill voice of Kressle broke the silence of the morning and pulled Felton away from his carving. Apparently Kressle had reached her limit on waiting and was ready to move out again to see what was keeping Happs and the second group sent to find them. Felton sighed and dropped the wooden figurine into his backpack where there were several others already there. Sheathing his knife he slung the backpack over his shoulder and moved over to ready his horse.

Thirty minutes later Felton and the other three men were moving out with Kressle north along the trail out of the bandit camp. Felton tried to keep his distance from Kressle who was more on edge than normal. No one spoke as they rode along. The group was one of many reasons that the Narlmarch Woods were not safe but there were far worse things in the woods than them. They kept their eyes peeled and hands on the pommels of their weapons as they rode.

An hour after setting out north the group comes upon a section of the forest where the horses become skittish. A few of the mounts are reluctant to continue on, sensing something ahead perhaps, but whatever it is they are hesitant to continue on. Kressle, Felton, and the other riders coax the mounts forward and come around a bend in the trail to see the trail itself blocked ahead of them. A large mound of snow covers the trail but crows and other birds light on the top of it and feed.

“Volkan, check that out,” commands Kressle. The grizzled warrior dismounts and moves cautiously ahead. The birds take to the air, squawking their disapproval at his intrusion, before the warrior lets out a curse.

“It’s Terrel, Wilfrid, and the others,” replies Volkan, “dead.”

“How,” replies Kressle.

“Don’t know… but they were burned… all of them.”

Kressle dismounts and moves over to look on foot. “You don’t want to see this,” suggests Volkan, but Kressle continues forward. The others dismount and come forward as well, their mounts taking the opportunity to move further back the way they came. Felton looks on as Volkan and Kressle remove much of the snow covering the bodies. They look on at the charred remains of the bodies, picked over somewhat from the birds and other carrion.

“They were bound,” says Volkan, pointing out the way the bodies were positioned. “At least the lucky ba****** were burned after they were killed.”

Kressle looks through the bodies to make sure that Happs wasn’t among them. “That offers me little consolation. I’ll see that whoever did this suffers. The gods will weep at their suffering.” Turning to Cullen and Tyree, Kressle commands them, “Move on a couple hundred yards and take up a position to watch the trail. I want to know of anyone that comes along this trail that looks capable of killing this group. We’ll hunt them down and punish them all. I swear it.”

The two men nod and move back to secure their mounts. Neither of them want to be out in the woods away from the camp with the snow continuing to fall but both know that this is no time to question Kressle or mouth off.

“I’ll send someone to relieve you before two days are out,” Kressle says as she and Volkan and Felton mount and head back south toward the camp.

The ride back to the camp was somber as each of the riders focused on their own thoughts. Kressle was worried still about Happs. Thankful that he wasn’t among the burned bodies but angry at whoever did that to members of her band. Anger and frustration war within her and she struggles with knowing what happened to her lover and second-in-command. Felton fears whoever might be capable of killing two groups from their band in a matter of days. He wonders if someone is targeting them and who as well as why. He knows that it wouldn’t be someone official from Brevoy this far south in the Stolen Lands but who else would be capable of capturing or killing so many members of their band? Some of them were raw but others were hardened killers; quite capable of defending themselves and accustomed to battle. He wonders what Kressle’s strategy will be for the group. Volkan rides and wonders whether they should all strike out and leave the camp, moving through the countryside to burn and scourge everything and everyone until they find whoever is behind it all.

As the three get back to camp, Kressle dismounts and leaves her mount to Felton to tend to. Without saying anything to anyone else she enters her tent. Volkan moves about to tell the others about what they found and where Cullen and Tyree are as Felton tends to the mounts. He keeps his thoughts and fears to himself as he goes about his tasks and then settles in, trying to forget what he’s seen and praying that his dreams will not be tormented that night.

5 Gozran –
The next couple days pass much the same as the previous. The snow continues to fall for another day before mercifully coming to an end but the colder temperatures remain. On the 5th of Gozran things begin to warm up and everyone knows that the snow will soon be melting. The camp mood remains much the same as Kressle keeps everyone close to camp. There has been no word from Cullen or Tyree north of the camp and still no sign of Happs.

My dearest Ciara, it has finally quite snowing here. I wonder if it is still snowing in Greyhaven or if spring has finally come there? The snow has been beautiful here but I am glad it has stopped. I am so very sorry for the circumstances that has brought about this parting between us. I pray that we will soon be together again soon.

“FELTON! Kressle wants you now.”

The sharp call of Volkan interrupted Felton’s thoughts and his writing. Putting away the scroll, quill, and ink he packs it all in his pack and heads toward Kressle’s tent. As he moves inside the large tent he is immediately thankful for the brazier in the corner and the heat it provides. He looks up and sees the naked back of Kressle as she puts on her shirt. Felton takes his eyes away, not wanting to be caught looking at the woman. As she becomes aware of his presence she turns to look at him and give her instructions.

Searching your eyes for a hint or a trace of humility.
Searching your eyes for the saint is an act of futility.
Searching your eyes for a hint or a trace of it.
Searching your eyes for humility.
Searching your eyes for a hint or a trace.
I’m still searching, Much thanks to the band A Perfect Circle for this lyric from their song By and Down.searching.

“Felton! Did you hear me?” asks Kressle, disturbing Felton’s reflections.

“Yes,” he says as his eyes look to the ground and then back up as he collects himself. “Relieve Cullen and Tyree. Let you know if anyone comes along the trail.”

“Yes, and take one of the thunderstones with you. Use it to alert us if you have to.”

Felton nods to Kressle and moves out of the tent into the cold once more. He then goes to get the supplies that he will need for being out in the wood for a couple of days and heads north. Although he knows that he will miss a fire with the cold, Felton is thankful all the same to be leaving the camp for a while. He would enjoy a few days to himself and hopefully they would be uneventful. Though the Narlmarch was dangerous, he was a capable woodsman and didn’t fear being alone in it. A couple of hours later he finds Cullen and Tyree. Both men are grateful to see him and be relieved and quickly spur their horses south at a gallop. Felton finds a suitable place to observe the trail where he will remain unseen. Taking out a raw block of wood and his knife he begins to carve out another figurine.

“Hopefully I won’t see anything,” he says as he makes the first cut.
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