The Road to Sotavento

Robyn nods encouragingly toward the man, "We would greatly appreciate any help you can give us."

"From the mainland, you said?" The man sounds surprised to hear this but backs away and opens the door wider for you to enter, Soelan's obvious iconography providing instant recognition and acceptance.

"Please, then, come in. I'm Father Hamen and this is my humble church," he leads you inward to a small antechamber with a thick, if faded, rug covering the wooden floors. To your right an open archway leads into this building's small chapel and directly ahead of you a staircase leads upwards towards what you presume is the priest's personal quarters. The priest's face is flushed slightly red as he sweeps his arm about to indicate the small space.

"Eleanor! Some tea for our guests!" the priest shouts up the staircase before turning to regard you once again.

"As to local happenstance? I can't say much. Other than the fact that yesterday's service was scarcely attended, and I didn't notice anyone from Solea there..." he seems concerned about this oddity but not overly so. "I'm afraid I get most of my news secondhand from my parishioners. The year's been poor for crops, but most will make it through the winter fine considering last year's plenty. Supposedly Sotavento is in uproar over something but I never heard what, just that they were barring the gates at night and double-checking all travelers into and out of the city. And that's the interesting stuff, most of what I hear is who married who and what crops are expected to sell well next year. I can't imagine that's very interesting to any of you."

You see movement on the staircase and a thin young girl descends the stairs, no older than perhaps seventeen, carrying a tray with chipped crockery and a steaming teapot. Despite the rather ungainly load her steps are swift and sure and she alights to the floor with an assuredness of long practice; perhaps she is used to serving the churchgoers. "Tea, anyone?" she asks and proffers the tray.

"Ah, this is Eleanor, my ward," Hamen offers as the girl serves tea to those who wish it.

Emerald eyes focused on the young girl's face, Cairrad's breath catches slightly as he spots the light bruise on the girl's face though outwardly he gratefully accepts the tea with a smile as he addresses the priest.

"Can I ask what you and Eleanor were discussing when we arrived? It sounded rather loud."

Chaplain Tirenson sets down his gauntlets to take tea with the priest. Turning to the young girl, he smiles at her, "Yes please; plain. ... Thank you, my dear, that will do" as she serves the tea. Talking to the priest, Soelen speaks up, "Ah, forgive my ignorance, but I only know of the community of Solea itself in this area; what is the more immediate community you serve? I suppose there would be several hamlets or farming communities or independent farms between here and Sotavento, but I know next to nothing of them. Is there someone in this are who could give us an overview of the environs?"

He momentarily expresses confusion when Cairrad asks a question of the priest in a pause of his conversation, but he pauses so the other man can speak up and receive his answer.

The rather rough man presents himself rather well in front of the well built man, his back straightening and his face becoming less stern and stress filled. It goes without stating the obvious that once the man shepard them in Thenysil finds himself a comfortable seat in which he can have his back to the wall, his eyes on the door and on their pleasant seeming host at the moment. Call it a paranoid need, but it helped him sleep more calmly whenever he got around to it.

When a young lass comes down with tea for them his eyes immediately zone in on her, seeing what he wished he still had within his life serving them with the smallest of smiles gracing each of the strangers before her. At her offering of tea he lifts up his hand, beckoning her towards him and smiling as best he can without coming off as intimidating, “Thank ye Lass, you should take a cup for yourself as well.

A thick brow arches in Cairrad’s direction at the mention of a loud conversation, he hadn’t heard anything, but then again he wasn’t an elf with too large ears with one of them having been glued to the door earlier.

"Hrm? Oh, a personal matter, my dear ward believes she is ready to leave the safety of the Church and I disagree. As her caretaker, it is my responsibility to look after her well-being," he says with confidence, seeming to think that should end any conversation on the topic.

"You're right about farmfolk around here; mostly poor but hard workers. Have to be, to survive the winters up here. Anyway, Solea is the closest town worthy of the name; all the rest are just collections of barns or farmhouses that stick together for safety and survival. Warmth too; I've heard they have a tendency to bunk a few families in the same building during the cold months so only one house needs heating. Plus, sometimes beasts come out of the Cape Forest and its better to have more than one hand to drive them off." He blows on his cup of tea to cool it, thanking Eleanor.

"As for someone who knows the area? I'd say the man who knows it best is Rinald the Hunter. He keeps a small cottage near Solea but he's rarely there, more often traipsing about through the wilderness I'd bet. He's a fine shot with a bow, makes his living trapping and such, if you couldn't tell by his name. He does usually make it to the service we hold on Highday, so if you want to wait for him he should be here tomorrow. Or you could head to Solea and see if you run into him on the road. Can't miss him, with that white-wood longbow of his."

"Is it your responsibility to beat her as well?" Cairrad demands, his voice rising slightly. Where he had grown up in the cities, he had seen far too much of this. This kind of injustice was one of the many things he swore he would never tolerate as a servant of the city and now, with evidence of it right in front of him, emotions still running high, he was in no mood to brush it aside for convenience's sake.

Soelan's head whips around to stare at Caerrad, eyes furious. "Cairrad! You are a guest, and you have insulted our host; this man has provided us with hospitality and opened his home and broken bread with us. When you came in, you accepted an obligation to remain civil and not accuse him. Further, this is a House of Phelis. If you believe this man has perpetrated an injustice, leave his hospitality, leave this building, and then confront him outside of this building. Clear?"

For a moment, Cairrad looks ready to relent at the elder priest's vicious words, but one more glance at the barely evident bruise on on Eleanor's face steels his nerves.

"No. This is dealt with here and now. You can make nice with this man if you wish, but I will not stand idle and turn a blind eye to somebody who has been abused for your own convenience. Maybe I'm not officially a guardsman yet, but I still have a duty to the citizens of the Empire to ensure their safety and well-being."

Soelan is adamant; "Look, I'm not saying don't deal with it, I am saying there is a right and a wrong way to go about this. Do not add on to a wrong by adding a breach of sacred and ancient traditions of Hospitality, and instigating conflict upon a man of the cloth not only in his home, but a church as well. We can all simply take this outside and formally leave his hospitality, like civilized men."

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