|Through the Woods|
|Summary:||Hardwicke and Avinashi have a moment to reacquaint themselves to her return.|
|Date:||April 21, 2012|
|Northern Fork — Wilderness|
|The road runs far to the north and is long and well worn. The further north one goes, the more the trees and larpse copses begin to spring up. Where Tall Oaks and it's township once stood, nothing remains but smoldering piles of ash. A testement to the devestation that befall those that served House Camden.|
|A newly developed path leads off to the north-east, to the vast rolling hills and fields that border the great Oaks to the west and the river to the east.|
|April 21, 289|
It's late afternoon on a day that has been warm and clear, not so many after the one that brought the Roost's men home. Another figure came with them, slight and quiet and not very recognizable as Lord Jacsen's food taster. But once a young woman was once again swathed in silks, word quickly spread that the strange herbalist and servant to the Terricks had returned as mysteriously as she departed.
The day's fine sun has Avinashi out, wearing simpler (if still quite foreign) clothing and with a basket hanging from one arm. A pair of men at arms have accompanied her to the northern fork, where the woods begin. The guards keep watch. The dornish woman is settled on her knees, peering through the growing vegetation and gently working plants and their roots free from the soil with a small spade.
The sound of hooves is audible for a distance, muffled against the packed dirt of the road. Two horses, maybe three. It becomes clear soon enough when Hardwicke winds his way through on horseback with two of his guardsmen at his flank, looking to possibly be on patrol. He draws up his horse upon spotting Avinashi with two of his other men. He jerks his head to the pair with him, and they continue on ahead. "Mistress Ruhi," he says in an even voice.
The young woman glances up, her brown hands dusted in dirt, the scarf on her head tipped back, and a dark coil of hair twisting its way down her cheek, partially obscuring one wide, green-gold eye. "Captain Hardwicke," she greets in her strangely accented voice. She does not rise, but her head dips deeply where she kneels. "I hope the day treats you kindly."
"We've not seen any bandits about. I don't know if that's a kindness or not," Hardwicke replies, his tone drying a touch. "I'm deciding on patrol routes, but we don't have the men to adequately scout."
"Why should it not be a kindness?" Avinashi enquires, tilting her head a little to the side. "Do you suspect them to be well hidden, rather than absent?" She's quiet as she glances towards the forest before returning her steady gaze to the captain. "How shall you judge where to set your patrols, captain?"
"Well, I don't think that everyone is making up word of them," Hardwicke points out in a flat sort of voice. He frowns a touch at her question, not suspicious so much as habitually wary. "A number of things."
"It would be unlikely," Avinashi agrees, perfectly straight-faced. She returns her attention to the ground, working a plant free with round leaves and little red buds, setting it into the basket with the others. "How does your wife, fare, ser? It must be a pleasure for her to see you safely returned."
It's one topic that can reliably afford at least the /hint/ of something ungrouchy in Hardwicke's countenance. "She's well," he says. "I understand that I missed the worst of her sickness while I was away. She seems healthy as ever now."
"A fortunate piece of timing," Avinashi agrees with a hint of a smile. "I know Mistress Belle has no small skill with herbs herself, but should she require anything to make the carrying of her babe a greater comfort, I hope you will relay to her that I am ever at her service and yours, captain."
"I'll be sure to let her know." Hardwicke considers Avinashi for a moment from the disparate height differences both size and his horse afford. "Are you glad to be returned to the Roost?"
The question causes Avinashi to glance back up, fingers curled in the dark dirt, her expression quizzical. "Of course, Captain. Terrick's Roost is my home now. It may be I am more pleased to be returned here once more than even you and the other soldiers."
Hardwicke snorts a quiet, skeptical noise. "I don't know if I'd believe that," he says, a hint of stubbornness to the line of his jaw.
"I did not ask you to believe it, captain," the herbalist replies, drawing her hands free and brushing them briskly together. "You asked of me a question and I gave to you my answer. How you choose to receive it is your choice."
"Right." Hardwicke narrows his gaze on her as if to figure her out. "That's the nature of conversation, aye."
"You are very astute, captain," Avinashi praises with a quiet smile. She pushes to her feet to drift to another spot with a different cluster of growing weeds. he settles back onto her knees to begin working a few of these loose, as well.
"That's not one I hear very often," Hardwicke drawls.
What is it you do hear, most often?" Avinashi asks, a bit of laughter bubbling into her lyrical voice. A plant with small jagged leaves tipped faintly in blue is selected next.
"That I should smile more," Hardwicke says with an entirely bland expression that holds no hint of one.
Avinashi considers a moment. "No, only your wife would say such things. I do not imagine any others would dare, or you might scowl them into sickness."
"I've received a few comments in my lifetime from people apart from my wife," Hardwicke insists in that annoyed sort of way that suggests he's gotten himself caught into defending something he doesn't really want to.
"Oh?" Avinashi asks, her tone light and sweet. "Who, for example?"
"It's not important," Hardwicke grumbles.
"Of course, captain," the dornish girl demures. Another plant is set it the basket and she stands, with a faint sigh. "I do hope you gather the information you need for your patrols." Now on her feet, she drops a proper and graceful curtsy. "And I wish a good day for you, ser."
"Aye." Hardwicke peers at her another few moments longer, then jerks his chin. "Good day, Mistress." And he spurs Delyla on to trot off.