|The Not So Great Escape|
|Summary:||A group of smallfolk use dusk as cover to try and leave the Flint camp.|
|Related Logs:||Death by Flux and others|
|Flint Camp, Highfield|
|Large clearing with lots of tents. A big pvaillion and multiple smaller ones, also a cook fire and the foundations of a small manor.|
|Wed 02 Dec, 290|
As darkness begins to gather upon the Flint camp - in more ways than one - what little activity there is in daylight hours wanes to something of a lull. A handful of women busy themselves at the cookfire, preparing a bland meal that can be shared among all comes. Well. Out-of-sorts. Brink of death. Whoever might desire a little something. Other than that, the usually personable folks have set themselves rather pointedly apart, gathering in small groups, chattering quietly amongst themselves. Such has been the way of things all day, really. There's little reason for cheer, after all.
Emerging from the healers pavillion, the commonborn woman who has been so valiantly tending the most afflicted - and the deceased - wipes off her hands on a clean cloth, absently letting her gaze wander about the now dimly lit campsite. Ragny looks exhausted, with fresh layers of shadow each morning to grace her eyes and a telling hollowness to her cheeks that wasn't present a mere month ago. But what would one expect? Having already seen the bodies of just under half their original numbers set to the pyre, the woman is nearing the end of her rapidly fraying rope.
Has long been in the habit of rising and retiring early, especially when he knows that he could be called on at any point during the night. As such he's finishing off the days notes, updating the latest developments and the worst task, adding to the list of the dead. It's a list that just keeps getting longer and while he's putting a brave face on it infront of the others, especially the smallfolk, in the privacy of his own tent he can let that mask slip a little.
Of course, it doesn't help that he hasn't exactly been sleeping well, nor feeling that energetic during the day. Both can easily be explained away by the stress of the situation, but there's also the nagging doubt in the back of his mind that it might be a sign of something far worse. Setting his writing aside once it's done he takes a moment to kneel before the small chest, upon which are place seven small figurines. That which represents the Crone gets the majority of his attention, as per usual, but then the others in their turn. Lastly comes the Stranger, the length of time spent before him lengthening with each death in the camp.
After telling his squire to move himself and the horses away, Erik steps out of his tent for some fresh air and just to stretch his legs. Being cooped up in the spare tent is incredibly boring and one can only distract the mind for a certain amount of time with documents and maps before that grows old. So once he sees that his squire is away from his immediate area, the Jast Knight steps out and paces around the camp a bit, warming himself a bit more by the fire before walking to the edge of an imaginary circular boundary, looking towards the main Flint camp and it usual gloomy activity.
It has been a long and hard day. Are not they all lately? Bella has stopped measuring days in hours and now measures them in deaths. Having seen more death than she ever could have imagined, the Fenster is weary, the day was another long one. After washing up, she comes back out and looks towards Einar,.. then Ragny. With slow steps, she begins the trek back towards the healer. Was there news? The cloth over her face and gloves on her hands, she goes back to work.
It just might be that, as he stretches and straightens and paces his self-imposed boundary, The Sheriff of Highfield would note.. something. Something is out of place. But what? A sharp awareness would find the issue swiftly enough. Out there, by the treeline that only just infringes upon the clearing of the campsite. Where the communal fire casts just enough dancing firelight to create odd shadows and silhouettes. Some of those look awfully.. human. A few seconds more of attention and his eyes would plainly make out what's going on. A half-dozen occupants of the Flint pavilions, making a desperate bid for freedom and seeking to lose themselves in the trees before anything is noticed amiss. But they're on the far side of the site to Erik's tent!
As for Ragny, she summons a wan smile at the approach of the noblewoman who still lingers here, among people not her own, and offers a slow nod of greeting toward her. "M'lady."
With no new prayers to give, Einar takes a moment for quiet reflection before he stands and moves back to his parchments. He could go and seek someone out now, express his fears, but figures there's no harm in waiting till morning. It'll give him the chance of to get a good night's sleep and see if he feels better for it. Or worse of course. And it'll also give him the chance to write a few words to be passed to others should the worst come. Just in case.
Bella is only a little tired and thats from the work she has put in. She suspects Ragny is tired from more. How could she not be with the sheer amount of time she has put in with the sick.. or she may have developed an immunity. At the wan smile, Bella offers a warm one, concealed by the cloth but reflected in her too expressive eyes. "Bella, please. How are you?" Her concern for the woman apparent. Suddenly the air is rife with shouts and in a momentary panic she looks around until the wirds register. Escapees? Oh dear.. They all sounded like prisoners. Wrong words.. Already Bella shakes her head to Ragny, "Go calm the sick.." Before running towards the north end of the camp as fast as she can
Ragny, having been in the tents most of the day - and previous night - looks as surprised as Arabella, blinking suddenly wide eyes and looking toward the north of camp. But her weary eyes likely can't make out much to confirm the shouting man's fears. She has time only to bob a nod of understanding before doing as she is bid, hurrying straight back inside to try and soothe those disturbed from already fitful slumber.
Erik's shout is enough to take Einar's attention away from his task. The parchment and ink are hurriedly set aside as he makes for the outside world, pausing only a fraction of a second at the tent-flap to ensure that he did not hear wrong. His crossbow is left well alone as he breaks into a sprint towards the northern edge of camp. As he'd predicted, towards home. "Stay here!" he commands those left behind as he heads past them, hoping to catch his people before they run into the Highfield guards located further into the woods and desperately trying to work out what arguments to use to turn them back, should he have the chance.
Those who are in the camp are currently ignored as Erik goes running after those who are trying to run, more for their sake than anything else because if they reach the Highfield guards, many would be dead not from the disease but from crossbolts. "Halt, halt before you reach the guards. They have orders to give warning and then fire if ignored!" For now, the Sheriff chooses dire warning as a threat to get these people to stop their flight, as a show of force is something he is use to using and know that people respect. Show of force and fear.
Their pursuers are closing fast, and still the fleeing party maintain their painfully lacking pace, limping along as best they can. At the shouts, the remaining Highfield guards to the south also hasten in the direction of their Sheriff from their posts, though it takes them a little longer to spy their quarry. Casting questioning looks between themselves, a few rest their hands on the hilts of the blades at their hips, though none draw them as yet.
Closing in upon the 'escapees', their attire would at least be more apparent - threadbare hooded cloaks and plain woolen tunics. Simple boots and small, sturdy bags slung over shoulders. This is no expert attempt, but just exactly what it seems. A desperate grasp on scant opportunity. Of course, desperate people can be dangerous…
That warning from the Sheriff doesn't fall on deaf ears. The group slow, scattering ever so slightly like confused ewes. Some halt completely. Two continue on at a stumbling run, apparently calling the man's bluff.
Bella is certainly not as quick as Einar, especially in a dress, but she did have the advantage of being near the pavilion. Still, she runs. Hearing Eriks words she realizes she would be little help if she were able to catch up. Just as the thought crosses her mind, she does manage to come nearer those stopped. "You can both go on," she pants to the men, offering those halted a conffident smile. "You are safer here than out there. Who knows where this thing started? Come back to the camp." Adding as an afterthought. "Please."
"Lady Bella, stay with them," Einar yells, pointing towards the escapees that have halted. He figures it leaves someone to keep an eye on them, talk to them even, and keeps the Fenster out of the way should the Highfield crossbows come into play. As it seems she is doing just that of her own accord he keeps running past, since Erik is on his left he aims for the right-most of the still fleeing pair with a mind to rugby-tackle him, or her, into the ground if he can. "Hold your shots," he calls ahead to the guards, "we can handle this." Two on two that is, he has faith enough in his and Erik's abilities, especially given the shambling nature of the escape so far.
Now Erik has to make a decision, make am half effort in the chase and risk himself getting hurt in the process or let the one on the left run on to put be putdown by a crossbolt to the chest. No doubt his men are ready and since warning has already been given, they will fire to keep the containment on this camp. A brief glance is given to Einar who gave a shout about holding their shots and the Jast Knight manages a smirk. "Fucking peasants." He says in a quiet tone, mostly to himself and in the name of House relations, he will attempt to subdue the fleeing commoner on the left.
The faces that turn toward Bella, in the wake of her reassuring words, are frightened. Evidently so, even in this fading light. A woman, a young man and a girl who is little more than a child.. the way they instinctively draw into a huddle together, now that they've stopped, suggests them to be family of some sort, as do their features when directly compared. Gathering the younger pair in her arms, the woman eyes the lady before her fearfully yet with an air of stubborn defiance. "Tell me you wouldn't have done the same, m'lady." Her tone is very low, and very calm. "You think we want to wait here and die? We ain't all sick.. but we will be, if we stay here."
As for the two still running? The Sheriff manages to grab the one on the left by the scruff of - as it turns out - her neck, eliciting a yowl of pain as the fleeing creature is jerked back, off-balance and almost toppled from her feet. Einar's tackle, alas, misses its mark by a few inches. And the target keeps running, apparently deciding they've come too far now to give up. They wouldn't really kill their allies, after all.. would they?
Erik's grip is strong, an iron grip as he had expected a man but when the yowl was feminine, the Sheriff looks surprised but he doesn't release his captive. "If he is your friend, tell him to stop or he dies." He says harshly to the girl, in hushed but obviously angered tones. Next, he calls out to the guards that are no doubt waiting farther on, "Take aim! Fire if he continues!" The order is given, first fire will be a warning shot at the runner's feet, the next will be a kill attempt. Now, Erik's eyes are focused on the man who is still fleeing, waiting to see if the man would come to his sense or will his burst open in a bloody rest mist.
Feeling better about her decision about remaining behind once Einar gives her the order, she remains with those, attempting to remain calm in the process. "Please, you have to be strong for your people. What kind of example does this set for the others?" Trying not to scold but to reason. "We need you here and we need you strong. Would I have done the same?" She asks of the woman, her voice gentling. "I am still here. I came of my own accord. I can truthfully tell you I have enough hope in us all that no, given the chance, I would not leave." Offering her hands out, palms up, "All I can do is ask you to be strong. For your child, if not for yourself. I have faith we can beat this." Using every ounce of willpower to believe those words.
If the figure in front of him is not giving up, neither is Einar. THe first missed attempt is met with a mutter before he hears Erik's yell to the guards. If he could counter it he would, figuring his chances over the next hundred metres or so of pursuit have go to be pretty damn good, but he knows the guards will listen to their Sheriff so his words are aimed at the northerner in front of him as he moves to attempt another tackle. "By the Gods man! Are you going to let these Southerners think us cowards that break at the first sign of danger? You have friends, family here that need you and what damn good will you be to them brought low by a Riverlander's crossbow?"
Gasping hoarsely for air, the woman in Erik's grasp struggles just a little before realising it's futile, her hands wrapped around his wrist. As his words sink in, she turns from a baleful glare up into his features to look upon her companion, still running. "Holm, STOP!!" The parents of the first boy who succumbed to the flux. Hearing the voice of his wife, and no doubt the tirade from Einar, the bearish figure slows, then comes to a standstill. A lumbering turn, and he half grapples, half catches the Flint who pursues him, setting the young man properly upright and even dusting his shoulder off a little without thinking. Frustration and anger war with apology and sorrow upon his ruddy features. But he has stopped, and that's the main thing. And for now, he says nothing.
The woman and youths hanging back with Lady Arabella take a glance between one another, before the young man chances a moment to make his thoughts known, in a voice obviously not long broken. "We ain’t the only ones to have thought of it, m'lady. We're just the first ones to try." Nodding, the woman embracing him agrees, with a pointed nod toward the camp beyond the noble's back. "If all of us decided to take our leave, and return home, would we be killed for such a choice? We've seen the efforts, m'lady.. but still, our people are dying. Those who are not deserve the chance to return north, while we still can."
If Bella hears Erik, she would flinch. Einar's more diplomatic approach.. his more humane plea likely to get a better response to those left in the camp then making them feel further like prisoners. They are people with real fears. And at the words of the woman, those fears are now hers. "I am so sorry this has happened to you," tears spring into her eyes and she wipes them away with the back of her hand. A show of weakness. "I understand the panic, truly I do. The truth is, if anyone, including myself, were to try and leave, yes… we would be either killed or detained. It is the reason we are keeping the sick ones separate."
Einar takes a moment or two to catch his breath as the pursuit ends, a little surprised perhaps at home much it seems to have taken out of him. Hopefully thats just a sign of the fact that he hasn't been training for the past month, or thats what he decides to believe for now anyway. Giving the man before him a brief nod in thanks for both stopping and steadying him he pants a quick, "fine evening for a spot of exercise Master Holm. I think though, our hosts would prefer it if such activity is kept to camp for the time being." He'll let Erik stand the guards down, turning instead back towards camp and indicating the man should walk with him. "I'm sorry Master, I truly am, but we would do a great wrong to those back home if any of us took this back and let it loose on the Finger."
Well trained, Erik's guards would not lower their crossbow but their fingers are kept at bay, away from the trigger for the time being. They know not to relax until it is obvious that the threat has stopped. The Sheriff looks pleased that the escape attempt has stopped but knows that this may not be the last attempt, especially if things get worse. "Fools, you and your man." Erik says through his smirk, "You run and if you're sick, you won't even make it home. Instead, you will still die a painful death, and you will spread it to others who will fall to the same fate. Whether the Stranger chooses you to live or die, it is out of your hands now unless you have knowledge of this disease." The harsh words spoken to the woman before he turns and roughly pushes her back in the direction of Einar and her husband, knowing just how close the peasants either did escape or died a grisly death of solid bolts. 'Fucking peasants', this time spoken in his mind instead of said allowed. Before following and making sure those are returning back to camp, Erik calls out to the guards, "Stand down and return to your posts!"
Snorting softly at Einar's attempt at humor, Holm nevertheless starts off with him, after a moment. Though his formidable attention moves with obvious displeasure to the young man holding his wife and an arm extends to indicate she ought to join him. "That so, m'lord..?" He answers, gently, seeming about to speak further before he overhears the sheriff's words. Stiffening visibly, the broad-shouldered man halts again, collecting his beloved as she stumbles toward him and buries her face against his chest.
"You want to watch that arrogance of yours." Holm advises, not seeming to care much for title with this one. "Didn' you let one of yer own return home already? Gods forbid what you threaten us with befall yer own home at yer back." His upper lip draws back in a snarl, though he checks his temper. Just. "..and don't speak to us of your new Gods. Not when you're just as feckless as everyone else, with yer fancy healers and heroic guards that'd shoot an unarmed woman." Now, it's the placating hand of his wife upon his arm that keeps Holm from starting toward Erik. "We ain't yer prisoners, youngun. And you, for all your 'nobility', can die just as fast and just as foul as we."
With that, and a last meaningful glare, the large man turns to follow after Einar once more, his wife held protectively in the curve of one muscular arm.
Arabella, too, seems to have had some success. The mother she addresses seems mollified by the show of sympathy. "..we do appreciate what yer tryin' to do, m'lady. But how long must those who remain hale and hearty linger here? The longer they do, the less chance they have of remainin' so." All the same, seeing the pair trudging back toward camp with Einar, the woman sighs heavily and ushers the youngsters onward as well.
Bella keeps quietly speaking to the ones who stopped before, As Erik and Einar return, she breathes a visible sigh of relief, not giving in to the urge to just completely break down and lean on someone else. Their worst fears, other than death by flux. were coming to fruition. How has she ever imagined she could see so much violent death and still manage to have the fortitude to go on? How had Einar and the other Flints managed so long here? Feeling weak with relief, she offers another smile. Another bolt dodged. Literally. Watching them leave, she prays above all, there is no more death. Turning, she walks back towards the fire.
Einar moves aside a little as Holm's wife approaches, getting out of the way of her access to her husband. That it also puts him between the pair and Erik is accidental, but something he's thankful of as words start to escalate. "Thank you for your assistance Sheriff," he offers across to the Highfield man, hoping he'll take the hint and make his way back to his own tent. Things should be easier to calm without him at the moment after all. As for the comment about Daryl, that goes unanswered, the man has a fucking good point after all and the Ashwood's absence is not something Einar can in anyway defend. Nor does he want to.
Turning back to the couple he attempts to steer their progress so that they join up with the group that Arabella has and asks the combined forces, "have you eaten?" His plan is simple, keep them together, stay with them and talk for a while. Talk of home, talk of family, take of anything they damn well want til tempers and nerves are calmed. Then slowly turn the conversation back to just what might happen if the sickness spreads.
Erik certainly isn't any mood to spar words with a common peasant and he narrows his gaze upon Holm who chooses to speak, the smirk still worn on his face. Words were about to be fired back at the Flint peasant, words like coward, craven, common filth, a wide array in his vocabulary for those whose station in life is below him. And if it came to blows, even better for the Sheriff as he will use these two as examples of what happens to those who run. But as his targets are being steered away, the Jast Knight manages to direct his words at Einar, "Lord Einar, I suggest you speak to your people about escaping. Next time they may not be so lucky as to have save lives they wish to freely throw away." And next time, Erik would not exert the effort to chase them down, instead letting the guards do as they have command. Kill.
Bella gets the hint, just in time… Turning back, acting as if that were her intention all along, she rejoins the group with a warm smile in her eyes. "I am willing to cook something up for you all. I imagine a hearty meal would do wonders." Perhaps they are all tired of being served the same bland food the sick ones have been given. With a glance to Erik, at his words, she gives him a long look devoid of emotion before resting her gaze back on Einar in question. Would that be agreeable is all she wants to know, if so, she would cook for these common folk who had the fabric of their lives shredded, while he spoke and reassured them.