Seeking Answers in the Darkness

- Dalen Woodland, Night of 1 DSTR

“Odd, his lands are no place near mine,” Kline said, standing.

“No? I thought you might have been neighbours or something, and he could've wanted to expand his orchard into Lowson's baronial lands,” Kalena said, standing as well. She tucked the letter into the pocket of her tunic for safekeeping and followed Kline to the entrance of the tent.

“Where did that little one go?” the mercenary captain said, looking about for Glumly who seemed to have vanished.

Kalena looked around for him too, scanning the dark treeline of the surrounding forest, but there was no sign of the brownie and his tell-tale lambent faerie-glow. He sure didn't take his time leaving after fulfilling his end of their bargain. She wondered what he could possibly do with one of her personal secrets. She found she was not all that worried about it; she felt pretty much untouchable in Dalen, where she had wealth and status, as well as plenty of powerful friends and contacts. Baron Lowson on the other hand was not so fortunate, and was evidently in the cross-hairs of a dangerous and determined foe close to destroying him.

Kline hooked the lantern on the center pole of the tent. “I would have expected Mister Randel, there is a great deal of outstanding debt, and this shipment would settle that, and bring the land out from under him. His investment would be paid off so his entitlement to it would be removed,” he said slowly and rubbed the side of his neck. “All of this, it is trouble. Why would this Lord wish me harm?” He started to pace, his gait made it so he could only take a step and a half in the tent.

Kalena laughed. “Wish you harm? You mean harm to Baron Lowson, don't you? By the letter it sounded as though Tyreth believed the Baron to be accompanying you all. It's a good job that he wasn't, or he might not have survived the attack. Perhaps Tyreth is also financially indebted to this Randel character, who was willing to forgive some of that debt in exchange for striking out at Lowson. Tyreth's uncle would have racked up all the debt I expect. The man was a drunkard, and most probably spent his coin like one.”

“You remember the way back?” Kline asked her, stopping and thinking on the problem that suddenly became immediate. “I do not know if those woods will let us wander them at night without the fairy.”

Kalena peered up at the blackened forest ceiling and squinted her eyes, the lantern having messed up her night vision. “If we can find the moon I can suss out which direction will lead us back to the road. Like the sun, the moon rises a trifle south of due east. When we were having dinner at the camp it was behind me and to the right, and that would mean north was in front of me,” she said, gesturing with a tilt of her head. “But I don't fancy leaving the horses behind, and it will be a hell of time leading them safely out of the woods in the pitch darkness. If you like, we can hunker down here until first light.”

From the expression flickering on Kline's face, illuminated by the lantern, she could tell that the idea might have held some appeal for him.

(OOC – This kind of collaborative writing really makes things fun and unpredictable. Randel could be a local rebel commander wanting to pit two of the Queen's favourites against each other. He could be a corrupt Dalen noble in the pocket of Verden, a foreign power that wants the lands for strategic purposes. Or this could be all part of some grander scheme that has yet to fully reveal itself.)

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