Chapter 8: Reckonings

"We have to find the hound first," Narnae adds with a wry twist of her lips. "Thus far we've had very little success in that as the beast's footprints simply vanished. I disagree that the hound is the greater danger that will be easy to track down, and yet of the two, it will prove to be less difficult that confronting the Baron." The elf tucks a stray piece of hair behind her ear and shifts her weight restlessly.

"Gaining supplies from town could be awkward if it is know that you are associated with elves, and yet it is also a source of information." She turns to Colin and Naomi. "You must think of a reason why you wish a tent and supplies instead of staying in town itself since most of the places we have been too so far are no more than a day away from Willowmere at most. The townsfolk might think it odd if they think you are setting up a separate camp outside the village... in the forest... where it most certainly far more dangerous."

"Ah, well, I was thinking that it would be best if they, um, did not know about us. There must be some traffic in and out of town... if Colin dressed as a day laborer or farmer, and entered by different gates on different days, th-there's no reason they would need to notice him or ask where he lives. I doubt the townsfolk find much reason to enter a forest they think inhabited by man-sized arachnids. If they do not know we are there, how can they think it is odd? And I hope that we can get the tent and supplies here, rather than Willowmere. They certainly have enough canvas to spare." Naomi gestures widely to the ribbon world around them. "Though I hope in less... flamboyant colors."

"The spider haunt may be the best location for a camp. It would be unlikely than any other monstrous denizen has reclaimed the area so quickly, and animals and men alike may know to avoid the place."

Looking to Naomi, Thistle gestures to the silk.

"Betty may be Elf, but she is not my kin, nor Narnae's. You bonded with her over magic, not blood, so your voice may best reach her ears. Ask of her for what bolts of silk she can spare. Perhaps a spare pot or two if Kyle has the urge to cook. We must still travel light, but Narnae and I can provide the rest once we arrive."

Thistle looks back to Narnae.

"Once we are settled, we can secure Colin some farmer's rags, and we will learn who is easier to find. The Baron locked in his manor, or the hound roaming free in the woods."

“The spiders' lair seems a good place to seek refuge and anonymity – for a while at least” Comments Kyle when the idea is put forward “though we should not let our guard down. There are far more dangerous things than spiders haunting the forest.” The Halfling's expression turns pensive as he recollects Betty's warning.

A wry smile, however, surfaces soon enough when Thistle mentions the possibility of putting the cleric in charge of preparing repasts. “My own inclination is to be the one savouring the meals and paying compliments to the chef... but I can certainly take a stint at the cooking fire.” Still looking up at the Elf, he gestures towards Collin. “He should not venture in town alone. A farmer with his son in tow might draw fewer suspicions.” Raising an eyebrow meaningfully, Kyle waits to see how the suggestion will be received by the group.

Collin looks from one to another, the large man's brow furrows as if he is not used to such deep thoughts. "First we should find out what can be obtained here, I have some coin, but not much else to barter. Than we should determine if the spiderhaunt is as we beleive it to be. Then we will know what we will need and how many it will take to obtain it." It wasn't much of an answer but he thought it the best course.

“A pragmatist. Deal with what is currently on our plate before worrying with what is yet to come.” The comment is accompanied by an approving nod from Kyle. “Coin, some weapons and our skills – this is what we have to barter...” The green eyes dance about the group, silently questioning if anyone had something else to put on the table. “... though I suspect that the first two might be in scarce demand here.”

Thistle looks to the group in return.

"If our minds are set on this course then?"

Thistle looks to Naomi one last time.

"I know your heart believes this is the right course, but is your belly steeled to it? If we cross the Baron, men will die, and men will seek your death as well. You cannot falter when that time comes. Even if your life is not in danger, one of ours may be, and we need your strength to aid us."

Thistle gives the young woman a longer look, then places a hand on her shoulder as he looks to the others.

"Let us travel swift. Narnae and I will seek to avoid the mist-beast's lair on the journey back, but the woods may yet foil us. Be ready."

The Elf allows one final moment to regard these strange, broken people. Not his People, but odd blood cousins still. Their fate is their own now. His eyes shift over the softly swaying silks, an image that will remain with him for some time. Then he looks away, and does not look back. With nimble feet he sets back out into the forest, not just with purpose of guiding the group, but with intent.

Tistlelandalon is on the hunt.

Naomi stiffens under Thistle's hand; her shoulders draw in close and she stares intently at the scraps of her breakfast, waiting for him to move away before she breathes again. Pace seems to sense something in her suddenly still hands, and from his perch against her opposite shoulder swivels his head to glare Thistle down with narrowed green eyes. His ears go flat against his skull as he hisses like a cornered snake with all his tiny, perfectly white fangs bared. For a creature no bigger than a loaf of bread, he lacked nothing in courage.

The cat pulls himself up the front of her robes and onto his customary perch on her shoulders as she rises, wordlessly, and goes to gather the last of her things. Her expression is blank as she leaves the table, but her small pale hands are in fists.

"For my part," Rhyoick began quietly, "I am not wholly useless in the city. True, it is a risk, but I am at home among stone and mortar. Shadows and alleyways. Perhaps I could help with any errands if we cannot gather what supplies we need from these people?"

Rhyoick Silvermoon was no stranger to danger, but he much preferred to face those dangers in the place of his choosing. He knew subterfuge, sleight of hand, guile -- setting up camps in spider-infested forests did not sound at all appealing to him. But, he was still a guest among strangers and would fall in place when needed.


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