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Twilight Dale - Wasteland

Reports have reached Lord Rysen Crovane that the once lush valley of Twilight Dale just south of Stormwall has become barren and wasted. There are rumors of mismanagement, predators preying on livestock and even of a curse on the land. Lord Rysen has asked for the help of adventurers who might be able to investigate the dale and return it to prosperity.

[OOC: This is the first in a series of mystery/thriller PRP events with some investigative, adventure and light combat opportunities. If you'd like to participate, please mail Rysen.]

Date

Aug. 9, 2019, 9 p.m.

Hosted By

Rysen

GM'd By

Rysen

Participants

Rukhnis Willow Artur Alessandro Mikani Thea

Organizations

Location

Outside Arx - Northlands near Stormwall - Twilight Dale

Largesse Level

Small

Comments and Log


After traveling north along the Great Road, and passing just northwest of Stormheart, the party arrives on a dirt road leading into the valley of Twilight Dale. It is early evening, and the sun has passed below the horizon, leaving a glimmering twilight of stars above, visible through the leafless branches of the trees in spite of the season. The narrow road is dusty, and few animals have been seen since entering the valley, save for a great number of crows, which ceaselessly echo their caws in the dead branches overhead, a figure bends over near the road at the base of a tree.

A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Mikani before departing.

Rukhnis rides along the road on the back of her favourite dust-coloured dun gelding, not a warhorse like so many in the Crovane stables, but a rather nondescript looking animal built for endurance and a fair amount of speed. She runs one palm lightly over its neck as the party passes between the strangely sparse-leaved trees, perhaps to reassure her mount against the uneasy atmosphere of their surroundings. She herself is attired practically as ever, and seems to have made some concession to long and perhaps perilous travels by donning some durable leather gear. As the bent figure comes into view along the road, her eyes narrow, and she slows the pace of her mount as the party nears the tree.

The leafless branches make it pretty easy for the diminutive Nightgold to find a decent "walking stick", and from the spooked look at the crows, it is possibly also for a crow-whacking tool. The tiny goldsmithing hammer at her hip won't give her near enough reach if they start trying to dive bomb her. What? Willow spooked? Boots, bustier and coat of leather, even her dark leggings are all practicality, but the forest scented perfume probably smells more verdant than surrounds do.

Mikani takes Armor for Mikani from Black Leather Holster Hip Bag with Crimson Accents.

Mikani takes leather hood of the dauntless from Armor for Mikani.

Mikani takes leather bodysuit top of the dauntless from Armor for Mikani.

Mikani takes leather pauldrons of the dauntless from Armor for Mikani.

Mikani takes leather gloves of the dauntless from Armor for Mikani.

Mikani takes leather bodysuit pants of the dauntless from Armor for Mikani.

Mikani takes leather boots of the dauntless from Armor for Mikani.

With his armor of different skins worn - though there has been an upgrde of a chestplate made from Cardian snakeskin, Artur keeps his mount steady as it plods along side of the group and considers. "This reminds me of the story of the cursed woods, where the trees would rise forth, and if their branches pierced your skin, they would drink of your blood to bring about their bloom to spread their seed throughout the demon grove." If he's just making it up or if it's an actual fact is hard to tell with the Prince sometimes as he reaches behind him for his spear, settling it comfortably in his hands. "Take care."

Alessandro is riding, as well, and while he does not look at all as comfortable in his saddle as...well, pretty much anyone else here...he has at least managed to keep up and not fall off. He may be regretting his choices tomorrow, but for now, he has mostly kept quiet. The Greenmarch lord looks as though he has been infused with some outdoorsiness since his marriage, as well, considering that while his armor is still quite well-made, it also looks functional, not like it's just for show. Of course, that might also be because he's not a good fighter and he needs all the protection he can get!



He looks over at Artur with a little amused smile -- whistling in the dark, perhaps? "An apt story for the present, Prince Artur," he replies. "Thank you for the warning." His tone, however, is fond, as is the expression on his face as he addresses the Redrain prince.

Mikani is riding a horse. Trying to get used to a horse. Though she still looks wary of the beast she is riding. Softly she pats the animal, now that she's gotten better on riding during the journey. Her eyes move to Artur as a song about teddy bears get stuck in her head. "Yes the world is full of wonderous things." Her tone is dry as she speaks.

Mikani takes unyielding twilight shadowed by thunderstorms elegant steel blade from Black Leather Holster Hip Bag with Crimson Accents.

Mikani takes Rover's Liberty, a recurve short bow from Black Leather Holster Hip Bag with Crimson Accents.

Artur wields Beastbane, a diamondplate short spear.

Walking with a grace, Thea is pretty well bundled. Armor, seasilk wool, still her leather wool, her kopis on hip--shes good. Finn--her northern young dog is running along her side, loving the cooler air. Yes, the Southerner is way out of her element, but well--she can manage fine.

Rukhnis grunts quietly in response to Artur's interesting factoid -- she doesn't look as if she actually needed any warnings to be wary amidst their surroundings, since wariness seems to be her de facto state of being. Her gaze flickers here and there about the woodlands, but mostly she's watching that one figure as if it represented the object of all her deepest suspicions. And yet she does, nonetheless, raise one open hand in cautious greeting to the stranger as the party makes their steady approach, even as she refrains from speaking yet. It's not as if she's the leader of this merry band anyway. Or particularly charming.

As the group makes its way long the road, the figure rises to her feet, revealing curly red hair, and freckled cheeks. The skinny young woman of perhaps eighteen years opens her eyes wide in surprise as she casts her gaze on the riders (and Willow and Thea). "Wh...who are you?" she asks Willow, perhaps the least intimidating looking member of the group.



At that moment, three other figures being making their way up the path, the following conversation discernible as they round the bend: "And she's sick too. Gotta make ya wonder how's we go from eatin' so good, to nearly starvin'. Some gods damned curse, that's what I think. And that stupid silk's little servant ain't brought any help neither!"

Probably the only one not on horseback aside from Thea, the bird and cat accompany Willow at least. She gives the Malvici a look that empathizes and walks somewhat close to her before the figure gets a look that echoes Rukhnis', though she tries to take care to keep her posture relaxed and open, and the suspicion melts to relief when it becomes apparent it is a young woman. She glances to the trio approaching and looks back to the girl, "Willow, Willow Nightgold. Are you alright?" She looks around at the crows then back to the girl.

"We can always draw wisdom from the stories of the past adventures." Artur offers with a smile towards the group and a bow of his head in regards to Alessandro. However, when the young waif rises, the Prince brings his horse to a halt, turning him to the side. With Willow addressing the young woman, it is the group approaching that has gathered the Redrain's attention and he turns his eyes towards them, "Hold!" he calls out to them.



"I could not help but to overhear the snippet of your conversation - what curse do you speak of?" he asks the travelers curiously. And while he may be holding the short spear he uses as a weapon, he is not brandishing it towards any at the moment. And oh, Mikani, the stories that Artur could tell - the teddy bears are just a start!

Mikani checked command + ride at difficulty 20, rolling 2 higher.

Mikani takes a bit to pull her horse to a halt. She manages to get the horse to walk around in a circle before stopping. But hey it's stopped. Point 1 for Mika. Her eyes look over at the waif and then at the group. "Is it the curse that blighted this place?" She asked as she swiveled around in her saddle to face them all.

Alessandro pulls up his horse when the figure reveals herself, his horse shying a little bit, but he manages to keep his seat. The amusement fades into a look of concern, and he looks among his companions, but for the moment keeps quiet, turning back to the other three to see what their answer to Artur's question will be.

"Nightgold," echoes the young woman. "Are you a lady?" she asks. "Stop bothern' these folk, Elly, ye damned varment," shouts one of the three now standing before the part in the dying light. The speaker is a tall man, who seems to be missing his two front teeth. He looks like he may once have carried a good bit of weight, but those days are past, and he now looks rather gaunt. In his hand is a spear which he uses as a sort of walking stick. Beside him is a shorter, bald fellow, carrying a club looks up at some of the more well armed members of the group with a bit of trepidation. A woman with dirty blonde hair and armor seemingly cobbled from many sources sands on the other side with a poorly made bow. "Hope ye folk arn't lookin' for no trouble!" she says loudly. "We ain't go no money nor nothin' valuable anyhow."



When Artur addresses the gaunt man, he replies, "That ain't none of your concern there, sir. Ye should ride away as soon as may be, and don't come back, lest ye be cursed too."

Like Willow, Rukhnis seems to find it slightly reassuring that the figure turns out to be a rather non-threatening looking scrawny woman. Very slightly. Perhaps it's not the redhead herself that's the source of the Eurusi woman's continued unease, though, as there's plenty in their surroundings to keep anyone from even thinking of becoming exactly comfortable. She straightens up a little further in her her seat as the words of the other three people approaching reach her ears -- likely it was the word "sick" that did it, beyond any notions of curses -- and watches them intently.

Artur checked charm + diplomacy at difficulty 15, rolling 10 higher.

Thea pauses her feet alongside Willow. The young woman can't help but be somewhat---intimidating? She stands with Willow and listens--waiting for an answer. However her gold-flecked green eyes drift toward the older man with the spear. She lifts her eyebrow, watching.

Reaching to his side pouch, Artur reaches in and takes out a few small gold pieces. Sure, he could order them to tell them. But sometimes, it helps to grease the wheels a little. "We are only seeking information, friends." Artur offers politely as he rolls the gold coin between and betwix his fingers, a bit of sleight of hand - though he's not great at it as he smiles.



"My friends and I are on an adventure to assist those that may need it. Perhaps if you are willing to share what you know of this curse, we can assist you in removing it. And of course, there is always a payment for information." he offers to the three. Though his eyes turn towards the girl.



"Elly?" he asks the redheaded woman kindly. "I believe I have a little extra food in my pack, if you are hungry?" he asks her, before his eyes drift over the group. "So no, unless you are the cause of the curse, we have no quarrel with you."

"Yes," Willow answers, giving a soft nod, extending her hand to show the young woman her signet ring. She looks from the three men to the young girl again and asks, "What's happened to leave you all hungry?" She gestures about, as if to indicate the decimated plantlife in the question as well. "Are the crows a new phenomenon, or have they been here since things took a turn, or longer perhaps?" She offers the trio of men a nod and seems content to keep talking to the first person they spotted, Artur's got eyes on the others anyhow. She reaches into her pocket to offer a heel of stale bread she has on her to feed the birds, it isn't much, but she breaks off a piece before offering the rest to the girl. And then it turns out the Prince came better prepared and she dips her head respectfully to him.

"Who is ill?" Rukhnis can't help but add the question after Artur's speech, her voice low and slightly rough as usual, yet carrying at the same time. "There are two of us here who are physicians, and we may be able to help. We are willing to try, at the least."

Alessandro does not add anything further for the moment -- instead, he looks around with slightly narrowed eyes, studying the terrain around them, and then each of the speakers in turn. His head tips slightly to the side, and he shifts a little in the saddle, but other than that does not move from where he is.

Willow gets a patchwork pouch full of breadcrumbs and dried meat from a floor-length black leather-lace and silk organza longcoat.

Mikani stays quiet as the others negotiate. Not like she was in much of a place to negotiate from. She manages to get her horse turned around so that she is at least facing the same direction.

At the mention of physician, Thea does at least acknowledge she would be the second with a brief smile at the small group. The delegating---she will leave that to those that know about it.

The gaunt man and woman with the bow glance at each other, and then both look back at Artur. "Well, seein' as how ye have a good bit of coin for us, we might be able ta -"



"Silence, Lekin!" come a new voice, and a new emaciated figure comes out from the trees on the eastern side of the path, lacing up his leather pants, and shaking some kind of liquid off his left hand. He snorts and says, "If you have gold, you may pass on, if you can donate it to the Guards of Twilight Dale," he says, smiling to reveal slightly fuzzy teeth. "My name is Captain Ersfain," he says, bowing so that his braided beard nearly brushes the dusty ground. He approaches Artur and reaches up to the prince with a grubby, long nailed hand.



"Thank you sir," replies the redhaired Elly to Artur. Turning to Rukhnis, she says, "Many are sick, Ma'am, and for many it's too late. It all started after the spring. Nothing will grow."



"That's enough, Elly. Ye talk too much, girl," mutters Lekin. "Go home," says the woman with bow to Elly, but the young woman waits long enough to accept the food from Artur and Willow, and begins eating it immediately, before she starts moving quickly away down the path in the direction of the town of Twilight Dale.

"I'm sorry, my offer is /not/ to the guards of Twilight Dale." But at least they have a name of the town now. Artur frowns. "My concern is for the people. I am Artur Redrain." The /Prince/ in the name alone in the northlands is clearly understood. "Now, I'm trying to be nice." he says, as he takes out some dried beef and fruit to offer to Elly. "...but my patience is not very long for those that take advantage of my good spirits, Captain." One can hear the disapproval in his voice as his attention turns back to Lekin. "You were telling us what you knew?" he offers to the man. He gets first dibs for speaking up first clearly.

Rukhnis presses her lips into a thin line as the man called Lekin speaks warningly to Elly and the woman with the bow sends her packing -- before the physician can put in any more questions, at that. Any talk of its being "too late" only seems to have steeled her determination anyway, if the stubborn setting of her jaw is any indication. As the redhead takes her leave, Rukhnis first slants a narrow look at the latest and grubbiest arrival, and then scans their surroundings once again, as if to check against anyone else lurking in the woods around them.

Ersfain looks a little shocked to hear the name 'Redrain.' He glances at Thea to see if she contradicts him. Glancing back at Artur with narrow eyes, he says, "As you wish, Yer Highness - but I ain't sayin' nothing. If you want to know things. Go to the Rider's Rest and see the Gov'ner."



The short guard, who has been staring at Rukhnis for some time, says, "Where's you from, foreigner? You looks like one of them thrice damned Eurusi to me. Prolly come here to works your curses on us while we're weak!" The woman with the bow, narrows her eyes, and glances towards Ersfain. He takes a hard look at Rukhnis and gives a long, warbling sort, and spits on the ground before her horse. He steps aside from the road, however, and says, "Let 'em pass. Wiglaf'll sort 'em out. Ain't our place to be tellin' no Princes where to go. If they want to be cursed so be it."

"I know a little about healing, myself," Willow tells Rukhnis, softly. Not something she tends to use or speak of often in the capital, there's no reason for her to expect she was counted among that number. Her gaze after the girl is an empathetic one, and she looks back to Lekin, and then to the grubby Captain. Duskstone colored eyes roam after Rukhnis' stare, as the girl she was addressing is off on her way. She shouts, "Oy, don't forget the rest of the bread," and tosses the pouch toward the girl," but goes quiet to let Artur direct the flow of interaction with the others.

Thea wrinkles her nose at the sight at of the Captain, her disapproval clearly on her face. Just as quick as it appeared, it was gone. Thea subconsciously straightens her spine, watching.

Mikani checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 3 lower.

Alessandro's frown deepens as the new arrival makes himself known, his mouth twisting a little bit with distaste. At the answer, though, his eyes narrow, and his gaze turns on Ersfain. "A statement ill-suited to address a woman who is here to help your people," he comments deceptively mildly, but with some edge in his tone. "Especially when you have been offered food and silver."

Hearing Willow's words, Elly turns around and quickly snatches the bag from the air, but a murder of crows descend towards her with startling alacrity. She screams and begins to run down the road as quickly as she can. "Damn it!" shouts Ersfain, who is perhaps relieved to be distracted from the stern words of Alessandro, and draws an axe from his back, while the other guards follow his lead and take a step away from the crows feasting ravenously on the crumbs that spilled when Willow tossed the bag.

Mikani glares at guard. "Is that how you talk to everyone or are you compensating for being light in the pants?" Mikani growls as she moves her horse forward towards the short guard. "She has done much for this land and if anyone is thrice damned it's you."

Willow checked mana + occult at difficulty 40, rolling 22 higher.

Mikani checked perception + occult at difficulty 40, rolling 22 higher.

Alessandro checked mana + occult at difficulty 40, rolling 6 higher.

Artur checked mana + occult at difficulty 40, rolling 27 lower.

Rukhnis checked perception + occult at difficulty 40, rolling 20 higher. Rukhnis rolled a critical!

Rukhnis nods a little to Willow, with a glance of mildly wordless apology to signal the fact that she was unaware of the other woman's ability in this area. Her gaze is then pulled back to the people before them as she's addressed, and not in a very complimentary way at that. She speaks not a single word at the woman, only lifts her chin and eyes her with the most perfect and lofty contempt, as if she were the queenly counterpart to Artur's princehood. When Ersfain spits by her horse, however, her gaze slides towards him, dark eyes kindle with a smouldering light and looking as if they're set to burn a hole straight through his ugly head.

Thea checked perception + occult at difficulty 40, rolling 24 lower.

Willow checked composure at difficulty 30, rolling 24 lower.

Rukhnis checked command + intimidation at difficulty 20, rolling 7 higher.

Staring at the crows like the manifestation of her deepest and perhaps only fears, for a long moment, all Willow can do is shiver, her fingers tightening to a white knuckled grip on her 'walking stick'. She murmurs quietly to herself, "Just like in the painting," and shakes her head, both shaken and distracted as hell from whatever the humans around her are saying. She whispers at her raven, "Stay close, don't get mixed up with those nasty things."

Alessandro checked luck at difficulty 10, rolling 7 higher.

Artur checked luck at difficulty 10, rolling 1 higher.

Rukhnis checked luck at difficulty 10, rolling 2 lower.

Thea checked luck at difficulty 10, rolling 12 higher. Thea rolled a critical!

Mikani checked luck at difficulty 10, rolling 0 higher.

Willow checked luck at difficulty 10, rolling 16 higher.

Artur hs no qualms at the moment with Rukhnis at the moment - this is a matter to deal with in the present. However, as the crows descend upon the girl and her bread, the Prince frowns. "What the...?" Apparently he doesn't have a story to go with this one at the moment. Just give him some time - but Willow's words draw his attention. "Painting?" he asks her lightly to get the infomration later if needed. But at the moment, he's sticking close to the group. "We do not have time for this." he rumbles. "They bade us passage. We should be on our way."

Between the crows and Rukhnis's smouldering gaze, Ersfain sneers, and leads his guards back in the direction of Twilight Dale. Within seconds, all of the bread that touched the ground is consumed by the crows, who sweep toward Rukhnis battering her face with sharp beak, claws and sable feathered wings, before rising like a swarm of locusts and spreading into the tops of the trees, where they continue to caw at the group below them.

35 inflicted and Rukhnis is harmed for moderate damage.

Having expressed her most extreme disdain for the grubby rabble before her, Rukhnis begins to turn her gaze back to their surroundings, as her feeling that things are Not Quite Right seems to only be deepening the longer they stay here. But then, in her moment of distraction, the crows burst up in an inky-feathered whirl all around her. She lets out a stifled gasp and throws up one arm in front of her face, squeezing her eyes shut, but it's not enough to prevent several deep rents across her face and neck. Somehow she does keep her horse from bolting, but its shying in alarm swiftly sends her tumbling out of her saddle into the dirt. So much for queenly dignity.

Alessandro might have said more -- or maybe not, but in any case, the sudden appearance of the crows has him looking up quickly, and he takes in a little breath at whatever he sees. He doesn't add to Willow's statement about the birds, but he certainly seems wary of them, especially so when they start to go for Rukhnis. He slides quickly out of the saddle, moving toward her to help her out of the way of the horse's hooves should she need it.

Yelping, Willow swats (probably ineffectually) at any crow that gets too close to her with her nice stout stick, murmuring something to Artur as if to explain, and then the birds come and, well, thankfully they aren't swarming her, because her aim is shit. She looks ready to bolt but the sole reason she hasn't yet is the desire not to look like a coward, even as she backs a step or two away from Rukhnis for good measure.

Mikani keeps her horse up with Artur's as the crows earn her watchful gaze. "No, we should get settled in town before dark comes. Don't want to be out here with them and darkness at the same time." The Crows, Rukhnis and the fall catch her attention. She would have slipped out of her saddle to help Rukhnis but the others seemed to have it well in hand.

Thea hurries and removes her mantle, shooing the crows away from Rukhnis as she lands. Finn starts barking at the obnoxious feathered beasts, none too impressed. Too little too late it seems..."Finn--move in case you get trampled!"Thea sternly tells him, as she she reaches down to ask Rukhnis if she needs a hand

Ignoring any offers of assistance -- which she might not even see, given the blood flowing into her eyes -- Rukhnis pushes herself upright with a grunt. She roughly swipes at her face with both hands, whose bandages conveniently help absorb some of the blood from her gashes, and then gets upright with a grumbling, "Never mind, I am fine." She catches hold of the bridle of her gelding and makes soothing noises at him, even as she darts uneasy looks around the area and up at the trees to which the crows made their retreat.

"We're going to stop for the night regardless. Willows right, we should not be travelling." There's a nod from Artur to Willow at her quiet words. "And we need to tend to your injuries." he offers quietly to Rukhnis, regardless of whether or not she says she's fine. "I would rather you not come down with fever from your wounds." He frowns slightly, looking to the others. "Unless someone else has an idea?" he asks hopefully.

Thea lowers her voice to Rukhnis,"I can look your injuries over and we can continue--i know you want to keep going,"the young Malvici murmurs lowly. She meanwhile looks at her surroundings,.

Shaking her head, Willow says, "None as good, no. Probably someone with more information can be found in an inn, as it seems like being outside is dangerous." She shakes the stick again, as if in warning for any bird who might get too close. To Artur, she adds, "I will lead where you follow, my Prince," respectful and matter of fact.

Ahead in the distance, lights appear lit in what must be the inn, and smoke is vaguely visible rising to obscure the stars. Further down the road, a pair of larger buildings, the governor's hall and the militia barracks can be seen as large silhouettes, with what appear to be small trails leading out from a town center toward the various farms of the Dale.

Mikani looks at the others. "I don't know about you guys. I vote for going to the inn first and the other buildings tomorrow."

Rukhnis slants Artur a flat look but replies very politely, through a cut lip, "Yes, that would surely be advisable." To Thea she simply gives a small nod. Getting back into her saddle with a suppressed wince, she falls back into loose formation with her party as they resume their trek into the village. "It seems unlikely that whoever is in charge will speak with us tonight, so we may as well see what the inn has to offer," she agrees.

Rukhnis gives Artur another sidelong glance, adding, "Unless they are willing to meet with a Prince at any hour."

Thea one-by-one turns her gaze to the group,"I simply came to help in case anyone needs--attending to. I will follow your lead."

As the party steps into the Rider's Rest Inn, there is a fair amount of cheer compared to the waste outside. As much as food seems scarce, beer, it seems, is plentiful. The faces of the patrons could not be described as happy so much as not miserable, but there seems to be a buzz of anticipation in the place, and in the next moment, a great deal of applause fills the air, as a woman in a green corset and dark brown leggings comes to sit beside a fire with a lute in her hands. "Let's here a song, Lessie!" come various shouts. Ersfain is there too, with his cronies and a beer in hand, gazing lustily at the woman with the lute. Elly too is present, and sharing some dried meat and bread crumbs with some half starved children sitting near Lessie. "As you wish," replies the woman with lute, smiling to reveal two dimples. "But I expect some butter on my potato this evening."



"Don't get greedy!" comes a voice from the bar, as a ruddy cheeked woman with some silver in hair, rubs down some mugs with a cloth.

"As much as I would like to rouse the governor from his slumber, at the moment, I agree with the consensus of the group." Artur responds to the others. "We can get more information this way before we have to deal with beaurcracy, and it will give us a chance to get the lay of the land, as it were." As the group ride into town, he makes sure to get arrangements to have fresh water and grain for the horses if available before going to join the Inn with the others, and the sounds of the lively playing catches his ears from outside. "It does not sound so bad?"

"It does not sound so bad," Rukhnis echoes, in a wary tone that suggests she finds this suspicious and something to be carefully looked into. As they file through the door of the inn, she enters with a proud lift to her chin, as if defying anyone else to mark her heritage and make insulting comments about it. The fact that she's still scratched up and oozing a bit after the crow attack probably makes her look like someone to avoid anyway. She herself runs the usual watchful and penetrating gaze over her surroundings, briefly marking out the hateful Ersfain with a faint curl of her lip.

Thea simply stands tall and proud, her usual way. Her gold-flecked green eyes slowly absorb the Inn,"No, this doesn't seem awful,"her southern accent noticable.

Walking over, Willow settles close to the children near Elly and the woman with the lute, duskstone eyes combing the rest of the night crowd curiously, as if trying to get a feel for the most approachable one. It's probably not the Captain, or at least, she doesn't seem to entertain that possibility after studying him.

It's going to be hard to blend in. Artur for a moment, regrets playing the Prince card, but he didn't have much choice at the time. Making his way in with the others, he smirks. "Hopefully it is not the beer that is cursed." he comment as he turns his attention to the lute player, to listen to her song, as sometimes that is the best information in the city as he claims a table for the group.

Alessandro manages to get himself and the horse to the inn without further incident, so that's good! He is watchful as the group makes their way there, and he nods when Artur speaks, replying, "Indeed not." His expression is still quite sober, however, and he starts toward the table only after looking around a little more.

Behind Thea comes a large, and surprisingly well fed man dressed in a deep blue woolen tunic and leather pants. Resting in his belt is a large steel battle axe. Just behind him walks a woman dressed in a silk dress, with a wool mantle. Her hair is dark, with a few faint traces of silver, and her face rather round and set with an amble nose. "Gov'nor Wiglaf," says Esfain with some excitement. He joins the large man at the bar and the two lean close in an exchange of words. The silk-garbed woman gazes at Thea's mantle and says, "My! That's beautiful, Miss. Where is from?"



The bartender, glancing over at Artur and Alessandro, says, "What'll it be?"



Meanwhile, Lessie begins to strum her fingers across the strings of her lute, and a collective cheer rises from the patrons who raise their mugs along with their voices, more intoxicated than they might be, if there stomaches had aught in them but beer.

Rukhnis casts a glance towards the barkeep as if she'd like to approach that woman in particular (besides bards, barkeeps always have the best gossip, right?) but she seems to decide it, possibly on account of the fact that as a clear foreigner who's just as clearly been attacked by something, she doesn't look like the most confidence-worthy person here. As the finely-dressed and well-fed pair come in, however, her attention is drawn back to them, and she eyes them more keenly than anyone yet. And perhaps with a hint of both disapproval and suspicion, for their evident comfort in the midst of near-famine.

After a smile in Artur's direction, Willow opts to remain near Elly, murmuring in a soft aside as she settles, "I gathered these back up, but it looks like the crows got the rest of the pouch," as she places a handful of coins in the girl's hand. "Those birds attack people a lot, or was that just an especially ugly welcome for our people?" she asks casually of the corvids outside.

As the governor and spouse, he assumes, arrive, Artur rises to his feet as he considers their order. "Mead, ale - beer if neither are available. Is there a stew?" he asks curiously. Because he wants to know exactly what they could be missing when it comes to the famine and curse on the area.

Thea sees the larger gentleman briefly before she hears the woman. In silk. Silk. Really? However, Thea knows her raising enough that she answers the woman politely---mother better be proud,"Down south--and thank you,"as she tries to smile at the woman,"your clothes are quite lovely as well..."choking a bit as she glances at those around her.

The clear voice of Lessie begins to fill in Inn:



"O, my true lover, where have you been?

The wind has been howlin', and trees a shakin'.

When, O when, lover shall you return?

For until I may hold you, my heart will still yearn."



Elly beams when she sees Willow, and gratefully accepts the coins, quickly passing them to the the other children, keeping only one for herself. "Thank you, m'Lady," she says. "It wasn't like this before. We had a great harvest three years in a row. Lord Geralt himself said Wiglaf was doing a fine job here as governor, but this year things haven't been the same. There's the crows... and..."



"And the woofs!" pipes up a young boy sitting nearl Elly. "They took my pa!" he says with a hard look in his eye.

The bartender eyes Artur a moment, and says, "I can spare ye some mead, Mister," she says with a smile. "And I got baked potato, and potato and gopher stew tonight."



"That is Prince Artur Redrain, you idiot!" snarls the man called Wiglaf to Ersfain, cuffing him across the head. Wiglaf pushes the man out of the way, and offers a bow to Artur and says, "Please fergive me guard captain, Your Highness. He's jest distrustful of outsiders and meant no offense." Wiglaf raises his head and gazes at Artur. He clears his throat, and with a glance around the room, which, seemingly to his comfort, most eyes remain enthralled with Lessie, he continues, "What might ye be doing down here in the Twilight Dale?"

Rukhnis compresses her lips briefly as she watches Wiglaf, then, with a small shake of her head, moves to join Willow and the others near the wistfully warbling bard. She settles herself on a low stool that's still unoccupied in the midst of the crowd, probably because its three legs are both uneven and shaky, and nearly topple her onto the ground for the second time tonight. Suppressing a sigh, she turns a frown on Elly and the children, a dark look passing through her eyes as the child pipes up regarding the fate of his parent. "Wolves and crows, both attacking people? And failed crops as well?" she asks, brow furrowing through the crow scratches. "That is a great deal of trouble, to fall on a town all at once."

"Mead will be good. And for them..." he glances to the group that Willow is sitting with. "They can have the stew and potatoes, if you would be so kind." Artur's voice has a softer line to it, but one can almost.. almost.. hear the command in it. A quick smile to the Nightgold lady, and his attention turns to the others as he gives the governor a swift smile. "There is no reason to be so cross with your guard captain, I admit I did not make my presence completely known." he admits with a chuckle.



"I have come to see about troubles that plague the Dale. But perhaps I am not the best to explain this. So, I will defer to my companion on this journey." And he glances towards Rukshnir, giving the floor to her, and in the process, his words allow for him to give weight to what she's asking at the same time.

There is a wash of empathy and sympathy that colors the features of the diminutive Nightgold when Willow hears that and she gives a soft nod, reaching out to lay a hand on the boy's shoulder gently. "We are here to fix it," she explains, "And I promise you to do my very best to help. If there is anything else you can tell us about, that would be very helpful." She offers a dip of her head in greeting to Wiglaf but remains near the children, conspicuously surrounding herself with the disaffected while dressed as expensively as the rest of the strangers in the Inn.

When Thea speaks, the woman's eyes open a little wider. "Are you Lycene, Mis...er, My Lady?" she asks. "Gods and spirits," she laughs. "Please forgive me. What's my name is Tura, and I'm the Assistant Governor here in Twilight Dale. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance," she says, curtsying before the Malvici lady.

"Are you a healer?" asks the boy of Willow. Elly glances at Rukhnis and says, "I think she is," gesturing the Eursui woman. "Are you, are you?" asks the boy with a growing degree of excitement, as Lessie's song continues to pass through the inn:



"The chilling wind blows through the cold misty morn,

The skies are all gray and my heart is forlorn,

But somewhere inside is a warm winter's hearth

You've kindled within me no matter how dark -"

Well this is awkward. However she introduces herself to Tura however,"I'm Thea Malvici. It's nice to meet you." She again watches the inn before returning her attention on the woman, her demeanor still proud,"Can you perhaps tell me what troubles you have had here?" not missing the words of the little boy's words about wolves...Thea's lips thin a little as she she listens.

"Here ye are then, Yer Highness," says the bartender to Artur, taking no small degree of pleasure in serving a prince of House Redrain. She hands over a number of mugs of mead and begins to set out some bowls of stew, with a glance towards Rukhnis, she raises an eyebrow "That there bloody one with ye too, Yer Highness? Some prisoner, mayhaps?"

"I am," Rukhnis confirms solemnly to the boy, "and I am not the only one among our party to have such skills." She nods her head to Willow, and makes a small gesture in Thea's direction as well. "If there is any sickness here, we will do our very best to cure it. We need only to know what is going on, who is ill, and where we may find them." She then blinks at Artur, seeming to realize only now that he's perhaps made some kind of reference to her. She furrows her brow, and gets to her feet with a querying frown towards him and Wiglaf both.

"She is not my prisoner. On the contrary, she is my companion and healer for this journey. Make sure to afford her the same courtesies you afford me." the Redrain Prince offers blandly as he glances aside to Rukhnis, and as the bowls of stew are set out, he glances towards Willow and nods to the bowls, then the children. The plan was clear, he hoped - she would take the bowls to give to them.



"Wolves - they often plagued the area during the time of Weohstan Redrain." he comments with a frown of a thought. "Though with a murder of crows, and a pack of wolves, I have to wonder - what has changed since the last harvest." His eyes drift to where Lyssie is performing her song. "And who's heart was stolen."

Tura beams at Thea and claps her hands together in front of her. "Lady Thea, the physician o' House Malvici! Here, in Twilight Dale! Oh, you shall /have/ to tell me all the fashions of Arx!" she says excitedly. "My cousin is a servant there. She takes care of Duchess Fianna's dogs, Bruno and Max, I believe their names are. She said that you once helped pull some poor dirty Eurusi out of some shipwreck or other. Good on you for helping those poor godless wretches."

"I'm not as good a healer as she is," Willow tells the excitable little boy, gesturing to Rukhnis, "Or her," she adds, gesturing then to Thea, "But I know a little." She looks after Rukhnis, and holds up a finger, looking between the children and selecting the little boy, she asks, "Would you be willing to help me pass out stew?" of him, her tone implying this is some great privelege and responsibility, after hearing the stew ordered. After serving them all, she remains near them, but listens closely to Artur and Wiglaf.

Rukhnis's mouth quivers at one corner on overhearing Tura's remarks on the "poor dirty Eurusi" -- and it's not likely with repressed mirth. That dark smouldering light rekindles in her eyes, but she doesn't even dignify the woman with a glance.

"Of course, yer Highness," says the bartender with a bow of her silvery head to Artur. Wiglaf, meanwhile frowns at the mention of the crows and wolves. "I don't understand it myself, Yer Highness. We had three great years of harvests - the best we've ever had - and it's not like we in the Dale's ever been no slouches. But this year, it's been different..." When Artur mentions the heart in Lessie's song, he laughs heartily and takes a deep drink of his beer. "Pay no mind to Lessie there. She's always on about the old ways. Thinks herself a shaman - but they ain't been around here no more, ever since..." He trails off and takes another long drink. "Was the journey a long one, Yer Highness? Ye may say at my hall if it suits you better than this inn, that's for certain."

"My mamma's real sick," says the boy to Willow and Rukhnis as he follows them up the bar and takes a bowl for himself and starts slurping it (even though he'd just been eating from Elly's food), before he hands it off to another child and grabs a new bowl. "Will you help her if you can? She doesn't live too far."

"Actually, I am quite a fan of the old ways myself." comes Artur's response, his lips pulled into a thin line. "There is a lot that can be learned from our past that can be applied to the presence, governor." With that, he turns his attention more fully to Lessie as he speaks quietly to Willow for a moment. Then he moves to set a few silver before the bard. "Please." he urges her. "I bid you continue your tale." comes the request of the bard as he move to face the governor again. "I am not sure what has happened here, but I will have a look into the issue to determine what has and can be done."

With as much courtesy that Thea can muster without losing her temper, she tells Turo,"To be fair, I helped pull -people- out of a shipwreck. People that needed help..."her voice becoming unintentionally clipped.

Rukhnis exhales shortly through her nose and returns a calmer look to the boy. She nods to him, saying sincerely, "We will go to visit your mother tomorrow, first thing in the morning, and do every last thing that we can to make her well again. I promise you this. We are here to be of service."

It is with total conviction Willow reassures the boy, "I shall do the very best I possibly can if you show us the way," she promises. She gives a nod to Rukhnis at her words to the boy.

Thea just mutters out of earshot,"I'd rather be being a medic or stabbing things--what am I doing with this woman?"

"Geting information, Lady Malvici. We need it. Once we know what's going on.." Artur responds to Thea in sotto-voice for her ears only, "We can deal with the situation fittingly."



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