Searching High and Low - Part 1 (Day 4, Early Afternoon)

OOC: Joint Post from Wandering Wolf and Sail

“C’mon, Horse.” Dorian encouraged Horse up the narrow trail. Lyen had the lead, her younger Sorrel seemed to have boundless reserves of energy, where the older Chestnut gelding upon which he sat was showing a bit of fatigue. “Sistah,” he called to the nun’s back, “Once we top this next rise, let’s give tha horses a chance tah rest.”

Horses and riding were not the nun’s strong suit. After help mounting side-saddle from Marisol, Lyen felt like she’d finally got her legs, or rather the Sorrel’s legs beneath them. The pep in the horse’s step kept Ly gripping the saddle horn, but a rapport was quickly forming between the pair. At Dorian’s suggestion she clicked with her tongue as she’d heard Dorian do to slow down. The Sorrel ducked its head in slight protest, content to take the hill at full speed. “This one might need convincing,” she called back.

Riley had split her searchers into three teams. The tracker, Roose, had gone after the trail they’d discovered the night before. He followed such remnants as there were over the mountain and along the following ridges, accompanied by Riley and Yeva. Their scope had been widened by adding two flanking teams, both removed by two hundred yards to each side. Lyen and Dorian were covering the left, with Marisol and Vas Jat taking the right flank.

Lyen seemed to be gaining her bearings with the animal, he noticed. She’d grown comfortable enough, the easing of her body language transferring to the horse’s intuition. Though her Sorrel still had a personality, it was settling in to her style, and she to it.

He’d never expected the search to go on this long, a happenstance that was as curious as it was troubling. Roose, the tracker, was calling the shots, with Riley dictating his instructions to the flanking teams to check out possible hiding places and animal activity. Thus far, they’d managed to disturb a hibernating bear, and to frighten a pack of coyotes from a deer carcass.

Lyen was halted on the ridge crest. Dorian rode up beside her. “Somethin’? He asked.

At first she thought she was imagining it, her eyes trained on the horizon. Curls, in the winter sun shuttling heavenward, a trail of smoke. “There, is that smoke?” The Sorrel she rode gave a whinny that carried down across the outcropping to the subtle valley below. “It’s the first actual sign yet.” Lyen turned her gaze on Dorian to gauge whether or not she was just desperate.

Dorian followed her direction, guiding along her slender finger to note the almost idyllic winds of chimney smoke rising from the trees. “Must be a cabin...a huntin’ lodge,” he guessed at the sight. “Yah right, of course. Let’s check it out.” He waited, holding his mount to permit Lyen and her Sorrel the lead down the trail.

Below, in the lodge or hunting cabin could have been whomever or whatever, but Lyen had an itch that this was where they were meant to go. A click of her tongue shot her down the crest, trees flashing on either side. The Sorrel claimed a gallop and the nun couldn’t blame her, or stop her much as she tried. Haddie and Gill could be there, holding out for them. Glancing behind, Ly watched her distance from Dorian and his gelding.

A fork in the trail sent them east, then south, the Sorrel gaining caution now, buried in the woods. “Woah now,” Ly leaned forward to pat her mount’s muscled neck, “nǐ méishì, nǐ méishì (you’re fine), just a little farther.” Wooded trail gave way to cleared path, stumps here and there. Though the sky was obfuscated by the trees above, her third eye told her a few steps farther and they’d be within sight of the cabin.

It wasn’t much of a cabin, even by New Kasmirian standards, though it had the charm which all edifices she’d seen so far possessed. Sure enough, smoke trailed high through a stone chimney.

Even at a gallop, the big chestnut could not keep up with the Sorrel. After thinking nothing but how do Ah explain Lyen’s gettin’ killed, he heaved a sigh of relief when, from well ahead and below, he saw her rein the horse up smartly before the cabin.
“Alright,” Dorian breathed as he stopped the chestnut, “yah just proved yah mettle. Ah may need a change of clothes, but yah did pretty well, Sistah,” he managed a chuckle as he dismounted. “Shall we?” he asked, gesturing toward the front door.

She laughed, “I didn’t think it was that bad!” Ly slid to the ground from her side-saddle perch. “We did just fine, didn’t we girl?” A flat palm smoothed the Sorrel’s coat.

The cabin had definitely seen better days. On its’ exterior, greying boards were beginning to peel back from the nails whose heads had rusted into dust. They climbed two sagging steps onto a small front porch littered with rusty traps, tools, and strands of fraying rope. Ahead, the front door was a simple, uneven three plank affair. “Looks like it takes a terrible draft,” he observed as he stepped clear for Lyen to knock.

“Hello there?” she called, three strong raps bouncing off the humble cabin ‘door.’ “I’m a Sister of the Interverse here with my friend, and we hope you can help us find someone.”

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