|I Heard it Through the Grapevine|
|Summary:||Darek, Mortimer and Nathaniel exchange information and questions leading to a plan of action being formed.|
|Related Logs:||Missing Maid Saga|
|Reading Room, Four Eagle's Tower|
|The room has a large glass window and seat that looks out partially over the cove, in daylight hours the sun provides illumination to the room. Other stools and chairs linger in small groups as shelves along the walls are littered with scrolls, books, letters and documents. The contents are a modest collection of local records, histories, and literature offered to both the family and guests of Four Eagles Tower.|
|Tue Dec 11, 289|
Darek had been biding his time, firing off arrow after arrow on the Green, when word that the Deputy Sheriff wanted to speak with him arrived on page-y feet. Collecting his arrows and slinging his bow, he made his way — to his surprise — into the Keep proper and up to the reading room. Perhaps feeling a bit conspicuous in his Highfield-badged ringmail, the squire shifts uncomfortably outside the door a moment before he knocks and enters, ducking his head and speaking up, "Master Trevelyan, you wanted to see me?" Of his adventures the night before — or the three nights prior to that — the only sign are a few scratches and scrapes visible on his hands and face.
Mortimer had actually grabbed some sleep in the end, but the signs of a late night followed by an early morning are plain enough to read on his features. The reasoning behind the selection of meeting place should become readily apparent as he's leaning both hands upon the edge of a table that seems to have sprawled across it a large selection of maps. Maps which mostly demarcate the northern boundaries of Terrick lands and, according to them, those of House Camden. Glancing up and across as he hears Darek's voice, the Deputy Sheriff gives the squire a brief nod in greeting before standing straight and stretching his back a little. "I think we both have stories to share," he states as he beckons the lad closer, "I figured we may as well do some work though, while we're at it."
As soon as he returns from his evening's round of checking various local stops for messages, Nathaniel arrives at the tower to find the same page eagerly waiting for him. The page delivers a summons to the courier, and Nathaniel entrusts his horse to the boy before heading into the keep. He looks weary but relaxed when he enters the reading room, carrying a box of fresh candles and a stack of blank parchment. He stops and closes the door behind him once he has entered, and waits while Mortimer addresses Darek.
Darek glances around the room, and immediately relaxes a bit to see that he hasn't been summoned to some meeting of dignitaries. He nods his head, moving over toward the table to glance down at the maps, "Mine's short enough, Master Trevelyan, and I already passed it along to Ser Ozric." He glances up as the door opens once more, nodding again to the courier then looking back to the Deputy Sheriff, "I was planning on being out five days, and I spent the first three following trails that led to fuck-all no-where." There might be a touch of frustration in his voice. Just a touch. "Yesterday, I found the body of that freak face-down in a stream, his guts cursed-near cut out. It was a bit southwest of where I spotted the Hunter the first time." He leans over the maps, pointing out a little stream, "Right about here. Stuck to high heaven, but I figured I better bring it back anyhow. The hounds caught me when I was nearly back."
Mortimer gives Nathaniel a brief nod as he returns then turns his attention back to Darek. Most of the tale has become known to him through various sources throughout the day, but it never hurts to hear it first hand. A the specific location is pointed out he watches carefully before reaching to place a small wooden dice on the spot to act as a marker. "Mine is perhaps a little longer," he then starts, "although I too can skip through most of the time by saying we found very little, only a few briefly used camps around our border." Our in this case meaning Terrick/Ashwood. "Yesterday though, the Lords insisted on an early finish due to the weather, so myself, Master Nathaniel here and the Erenford tracker, Mistress Kalira went back to where I'd found the Kingsgrove lass. Then things got a little more interesting." Glancing over to Nathaniel he invites the other man to tell his recollections of the events.
Nathaniel inclines his head to Darek when he sees the squire. "I'm glad to see you, squire." He heads for the large table and nods to Mortimer. Turning to Darek once again, he explains, "We found what appears to be a map. We don't know if the person left it for allies or for us, but it suggests that we'll find something important if we can locate that spot." He looks down at the array of maps on the table. Then he continues, "We also found hand-prints like this, only smaller." He raises his hand in the shape of a V, like the Vulcan Salute. "The print was in a sticky resin, like a natural glue that you find on trees. I suggested that someone might use such glue for climbing."
Darek nods slowly, waiting until the two men pause, then noting, "Uh… you might want to talk to Lord Ozric before talking to too many folks. He said he'd send the information to me, but he wants to keep most of this quiet. Keep too many nobles from running off on their own, or townspeople either." And then another page finds him, murmuring in the squire's ear, and the young man grimaces, "Ser Erik needs me a moment. Sorry Master Trevelyan, Nate. Uh, I'll be back as soon as I can." And then he's headed back for the door, stepping hurriedly, although he resists running armed and armored through the halls of the Terrick keep.
Mortimer looks perhap, faintly vexed as Darek is forced to leave quite so quickly. Still, there's not much for it and as the squire leaves he glances once more to Nathaniel, "I'd hoped to show him the map, he knows their side of the border well enough, see if it seemed familiar to him." Not that their map couldn't match any dozen of the waterways marked on the maps, but it was surely worth a try. "Then, remembering something else he adds, "I checked the body by the way, five fingers."
Nathaniel shakes his head and smiles with mild amusement when Darek explains that his summoner is Erik. When the squire has left and the door is closed, he notes to Mortimer, "That man, Ser Erik, is an edgy one at times. He's also sheriff of Highfield. He seems always to have some business for the squire to pursue." He looks at the maps and ncos. "Either of them should know the lands around Highfield quite well." He delivers his box of candles and parchments to a nearby cabinet, and then he questions, "FIve fingers, but were they the size that we saw? Did they have any of that resin that the mistress found?"
"Size I couldn't be sure," Mortimer confess briefly, "no trace of resin. Can't be sure if they'd cleaned the body yet or not though." It's another thing he'd been hoping to ask Darek about. As for Erik he just shakes his head slightly, "Lord Sheriff of Highfield he might be but he's been no help in this. First to complain about Lord Ozric's instructions yet hasn't done anything other than moan and bluster about it. First to claim we're not capable of doing this yet has no answer as to why for three weeks the only one from Highfield willing to act was young Darek there. No, I'll not be asking Lord Jast while there are other options available."
Nathaniel inclines his head at Mortimer's assessment of Erik. "You aren't alone in having reservations," he admits. "I don't know if you saw his look when he learned that Kalira came here for tracking, but I did. I wouldn't have asked her to come if she couldn't help. You've seen her abilities for yourself." He looks back to the door, and then adds, "I do agree with Lord Ozric. We should take care that the winds of gossip don't blow this too far. We have enough trouble as it stands."
"I didn't," Mortimer replies with a faint shake of his head, "but I was somewhat busy herding cats at the time." Glancing back to the maps he leans his hands on the edge of the table once more. "The searches will continue in the borders, it's where we've found the most signs even without the latest developments. I'll not hold back anything that might help though," he warns with a sidelong glance. How information was found maybe, but not the information itself, not if there's a chance it'll mean something to someone and lead them to the children. For now though, it would seem that it's back to the maps.
Darek returns quickly enough, knocking once before he slips back into the door, "Sorry, sorry." The young man shakes his head, offering up a wry grin as he shuts the door and comments, "Knights, eh?" Scrubbing back the hair falling over his headband of black cloth, he thinks back, "So handprints, resin, and maps? Or are we all past that by now?"
"That's still what we have," Nathaniel answers, inclining his head to Darek. "We were wondering particularly if the body that you found had resin on the hands, or any traces of it on the clothes," he queries. "While we were scouting, we found some hand-prints, as I was explaining before the page arrived."
Mortimer is once more hunched over the maps as Darek reappears, although he's quick enough to straighten again as teh conversation starts anew. "Aye," he says with a nod, as Nathaniel explains their first query, "and we were hoping you'd glance at the map we found there, it's vague, but it might mean something to you from your side of the border."
Darek considers Nathaniel's question as he moves over to the table again, then shrugs a little helplessly, "Fuck if I know. I was worrying about not leaving a trail of guts behind me, and what in the seven hells the stink was. You'll have to check with the people looking over the body." Looking back to Mortimer, he frowns in thought, "Be happy to look at the map you found, but I don't know much more about the land right at the border than what I've found out in the last couple of weeks. Until then, I stuck pretty close to the woods just west of Highfield, Master Trevelyan."
Nathaniel encourages, "Even if you can't shed light on things, we'll know that we asked, and that's something in itself." He frowns. "Do you remember which direction the body was facing when you found it? Do you think that the person was following the stream, or trying to cross it?"
Mortimer agrees with Nathaniel's assessment, then adds a comment of his own. "You've been freer these past few days, you might recall something of use." That said he takes a moment to glance over the maps again, as if searching for something specifically, before reaching to lift the edge of one of them up and taking a sheet of parchment from underneither it. Handing it across to the lad it clearly shows a patch of woods with a stream or river running through them and a big X in the middle of the water. "As I said," he repeats, "it's a bit vague, but take it, think on it."
Forewarned by 'its a bit vague,' Darek is able to keep from laughing aloud at the 'map.' "This is it, Master Trevelyan?" He scrubs his hair back from about his face, holding it there as he reaches out to take the parchment, "Seven Above… I don't know if the Crone herself could tell where this was." Blowing out a breath, he hefts the parchment a little, "But I'll think about it. If I see a stream that runs like that, I'll take a look." Oh, right, there was another question there. Thinking a moment, he shakes his head at Nathaniel's question, "I think he washed downstream." That causes him to blink, and his eyes widen a bit, "So I'm totally going to look upstream from where I found him. I didn't do it then, 'cause I wanted to bring the body back, but that might just work."
"That might work, indeed," Nathaniel agrees. "Your finding that body might have been the crucial bit. I'm sure that we'll know soon enough. As for the map, it's not much but good leads seem to be hard to find."
"It was carved into a tree," Mortimer replies with a faint shrug, "even the best workman is only as good as his materials. We do at least have an idea of orientation, assuming up was north." The comment about heading upstream is greeted by a firm nod although he has to bite back an 'I'll come with you." Damn and blasted nobles. Instead he glances to Nathaniel, although when he speaks he's still talking to Darek, "just don't go alone, we have other trackers now, not just those who have hunted nothing more subtle than an enraged boar. Take one with you, two together."
Darek winces a little at Mortimer's reply, "Fuck a duck. I'm surprised its that good then." The squire glances at Nathaniel a moment, shrugging a little, "If I'm gonna take someone with me, Master Trevelyan, I'd like it to be someone who can handle himself in a fight. You sure you can't pawn the nobles off on Ser Ozric and your Lord Sheriff?" Looking over to Nathaniel, he holds up one hand in a mollifying gesture, "Not that I think you can't handle yourself most of the time, Nate… but I don't want to have to be looking out for someone if I do run into the Hunter." There's a pause and a grimace, "Or another one of those freaks, or the fucking wolf-things." Evidently, he doesn't see the Weeping Woman as so much of a danger. Silly institutional chauvinist.
Nathaniel smiles and shakes his head. "You've no need to apologize. You want someone whose skills you know, Darek. The important thing is to go with someone reliable, no matter who that is. We haven't fought together." Meeting the young squire's gaze, he urges, "Just be alert, and keep yourself safe."
Mortimer smiles a little, faint hints of amusement touching his expression. "As I said before, what you do with your ducks at Highfield…." Back to business though he mulls over what Darek suggests, nodding as Nathaniel gives his own reply. He wants to go, that much is for certain, but there's another reason he looked to the courier and fills Darek in on that before any sort of decision is made. "I could ask," he states simply, "but I was never much of an archer, even when drilling regularly, and I haven't touched a bow since King Robert's War. I would think you'd want range, but all I can offer in that regards is that I wasn't counted bad with a spear, and I'm not in practice with that either."
Darek barks a slightly-high laugh at Nathaniel's words, "Nate… I haven't fought alongside anyone here except Sela, and there's no way in any of the seven hells that I'm bringing her out into the woods." There's a pause, and he considers, "Well, Ser Erik, but only just." He runs his fingers back through his hair, then shrugs, "Tell you what, Master Trevelyan. Why don't you pick someone out, and send 'em down to meet me at the Rockcliff right about dawn? You know the people 'round here better than I do. But if I'm gonna come up to the Hunter in the woods again, I'm cursed well going to feather him a couple of times before I get close enough to use my sword."
Nathaniel looks to Mortimer and nods. To Darek, he warns, "Watch the trees as well as the ground. If I'm right about that sap, these people can climb and might wait in ambush from above." Then he adds, "I'll leave you to the planning, then." He steps back toward the door, ready to leave.
"There'll be someone there," Mortimer answers Darek with a short, sharp nod, it might even be him yet. "Will you be going on foot or mounted?" Useful to know if the stables will need to be begged for the loan of another horse or not after all. As Nathaniel takes his leave he glances to the courier and checks, "you know where you're taking your party tomorrow?"
Darek nods to Nathaniel, "Thanks. That's a good point." Shaking his head slowly, he grimaces, "And here I was thinking that the trees were the safe place, away from the Hunter's mount." Mortimer's question causes him to shake his head a little, "On foot. And we'll probably be gone for two or three days. Can't walk nearly far enough in just a day. Not and still have time to search." Rubbing at his face a bit, he adds, "Speaking of… I should hit the hay." Literally, since he's sleeping in the stables at the Rockcliff.
Nathaniel returns to the table and outlines a path along one of the streams that still remains unchecked. "We'll follow this path, if possible as far as the fork, here" He taps the map to indicate the position. "Of course, that will depend on how many actually go. I'm like you, master. I think that a smaller parties work better for this."
Mortimer nods in agreement with both Nathaniel's plan, and his assessment of the situation before offering "all right then. Good luck and happy hunting." A brief note, slowly, and in terrible handwriting, on a separate piece of paper, just incase he forgets or someone else wants to check then he turns and offers a nod and a "sleep well," to Darek as well.