Keir sat on the bank and watched. “Don’t think you’ll be able to tickle any trout after all this commotion.” He thought about going upstream to try his luck but had vowed to protect her back so he decided to rummage in his pack for a morsel or two, or three. As he nibbled on cheese and bread, he kept glancing around for signs of danger but all seemed quiet. Now that they were all spread out he felt exposed and vulnerable.
“How far we going today?” he asked nervously.
Laurelyn didn’t answer for a few moments – the length of time it took the puppy to investigate what moved beneath the water. While the storyteller waited she stayed as silent as she would if she was calling fish, and was rewarded by an inquisitive pup coming to poke his nose down at her fingers, which she had been moving beneath the surface.
As soon as Fiend was close enough Laurelyn swiftly grabbed the pup by the scruff of the neck. The pup let out a series of startled “yelps” as she pulled him from the water, and briskly wrapped him in the towel, that she had tucked into her belt.
Once she had waded to dry land she walked over to Keir, and said, “I think we should wait till we’re free of forest. Luckily, its not a huge tract and hopefully we could be out before sundown.”
While she dried the wiggling Pup she looked around at party, noting that some were eating – like Master Keir, and also noting that Rudolpho hadn’t come back yet. She decided that as much as she would have enjoyed the brief rest she would eat while they were traveling. She said, just loud enough for her nearby companions to hear her, “I think we should get moving again – I’d prefer to be free of the woods before sundown.”
Hopefully they’d collect Rudolpho a little further up the road. Otherwise …. Laurelyn stopped that train of thought, knowing it was no use in buying trouble. If there was any they would simply have to deal with it.
Thomis had spent the short time walking around the site, his lunch a thick slice of cheese between bread, and cold water from the stream. The boy, Rudolpho, had scampered off, but the jester had followed not too far behind—and all in all, Thomis thought that if the boy needed anyone to intervene on his behalf, Jacques would be more than competent to the to the problem.
The Oath-bound nodded to Laurelyn, smiling a bit at the sight of the towel-wrapped puppy. The creature did not seem too disturbed at his predicament, though he did stretch his nose out to sniff hopefully at the others’ meals.
Brendan stopped a few hundred yards down the path from where he had encountered the strange travellers, and dropped his bag to the ground in disgust. “Ay me. They told there was odd groups in these parts…” He noticed that the crows that had been crying up in the trees had moved further down the road, perhaps finding some prey or dead carcass to raid in the thickly forested areas. With the sound of crows now distant, the trees above him seemed eerily silent but for the creaking of trees bending with an invisible wind. He chided himself for being intimidated by mere silence and sat himself down on his bag to think for a moment. When he looked up, the bandits were upon him. He only had time for a strangled scream before darkness overcame him.