A Grim Discovery
Though this patrol through the woodlands seems normal for the most part, there is a sense of tension coming from Tristan as he goes through the woods, bow in paw and an arrow nocked to the string. He still moves as quietly as he can though, eyes roving for any sign of trouble around him.
A late summer storm is beginning to blow in and dark clouds are crowding on the horizon. A heavy wind has whipped up and the leaves in the trees are dancing willy-nilly in its force. Any birds that are still out are racing for shelter and the whole world has turned dark. In the midst of this, Siobhan and Misael are hurrying back to Camp Willow after being out all morning doing whatever it is they do. They've found the dirt road and are utilizing it while they search for the path towards the otter camp. "I coulda sworn it was by that rock..." Siobhan mutters unhappily. Neither of them are equipped for the threatening weather which hastens their pace.
As the first few drops of rain start to dot Tristan's hooded cloak, he hears the sound of the two otters hastily headed South on the road. He turns, recognizing the voice as it speaks. He allows himself a slight smirk, as much like the other night, he is just off the edge of the road, and while he has fewer shadows to sulk in now, he is still relatively concealed as long as he stands still, his grey-green cloak blending well with the forest, which is darker, gloomier, and more mysterious with the coming storm. This time he does not wait to hail the travelers though, calling out to them immediately, "You know, it's usually ill advised to travel during a storm," he calls, raising his voice to be heard over the pitter-patter of light rain on the forest leaves.
Siobhan's head snaps up and she holds out a paw to keep the raindrops from splattering her in the eye. "Well, as soon as y' come up wit a surefire way to tell what th' weather is gonna do, let me know so's I can use it. What're you doin' out here yerself?" Misael and Siobhan divert their path to join Tristan in the trees which immediately become unsafe as soon as the lighting starts.
Tristan ignores the first part of what she says, but his half-smile stays up, which shows that he was at least mildly amused by her words. Or maybe he's just glad to see her. "Just what i've been doing for the past few days." he replies evenly, "Hunting slavers." as the rain picks up the fabric of his cloak starts to grow a little darker as it becomes wet, but luckily for the three otters it is not a total downpour yet. "I have a pretty good idea of where they are," he says, turning and walking into the woods a little bit more.
Not that being wet is going to bother the otters all that much. "Oh, yeh, of course. Slavers” Siobhan makes a wry face and turns to Misael, opens her mouth as if to say something then thinks better of it and shakes her head. They follow him in deeper where the rain, which is now a downpour, seems to be lighter thanks to the tree canopy. "Who told you about 'em? Is it fairly reliable information?" A drop of rain clings to her ear and she brushes it off.
Tristan speaks without looking back over his shoulder, pushing through light underbrush as he continues his walk into the forest, "It's the only beast we know of that has had any extended contact with the slavers. He gave me a few scraps of information that gave me a pretty good idea where they are. He stops and looks off into the forest, in presumably the direction that the slavers might be in.
Siobhan carefully avoids the wet branches which have a tendency to slap backwards when Tristan releases them. Behind her, Misael is being just as careful and now watchful as he brings up the rear. Going deeper into the forest, especially in the supposed direction of the slaver camp, brings out the cautious side of both otters. Siobhan stops short almost directly behind Tristan and then takes a step to the left. "Ah. And you trust 'im? Even though 'e's had contact with these vermin?"
Tristan glances back over his shoulder at her, "I've got little choice, it's all I have to go on right now." he continues a few feet before pausing and speaking again, "Which is to say, no, I don't trust him one bit." as they've been walking, his voice has been slowly getting lower and he's been moving with more caution. Perhaps they are getting close to the location now, or maybe he's just overly cautious.
Siobhan mimics Tristan's motions and Misael, covering from behind, pads along quietly with an arrow notched to his bow. "So...I take it that's where we're headed right now?" Siobhan is sort of late to the party here but then she wasn't expecting to go vermin hunting this afternoon. "Were you going to confront 'em on your own?" Her voice, while low, is very incredulous.
Tristan sighs softly, "No. I promised..." he pauses as he nearly says the name, "The beast I got this information from... that I would give him two days to prepare, in case the slavers figured out he sold them out and came after him. He can't attack them yet, and besides..." he trails off and his hooded head peers downwards as he feels him boot thump against something large and soft in his path. Though it is not visible to the others, his mouth pulls tight into a thin grim line. The thing at his feet appears to be a body, though the other two don't have the best view of it just yet, still being behind Tristan.
Siobhan straightens up and breathes a sigh of relief. Upon seeing her do this, Misael lets his bow fall slightly but keeps the arrow notched, looking at her curiously. "Well good. 'cause we both know that'd lead to certain death." She plants her paws on her hips and arches an eyebrow as if to ask, right? Then she turns to Misael who, despite his fairly good grasp of the language, is having a hard time interpreting. "Es loco, eso." She waves towards Tristan. Misael nods, understanding now.
Tristan nods to her, though he's distracted by this new discovery. He crouches down, laying his bow beside him and reaches to pick up the body. If the other two otters look over his shoulder they can now see that the body is that of a mouse, a female, her eyes closed and her body stiff. Tristan carefully looks her over. "She's been here for at least a day." he says, which is relatively obvious. Just be glad she was found sooner rather than later.
"Huh? What is...oh my soul!" Siobhan's eyes widen in shock and she looks unsteady for a bit. You'd think she's never seen a dead beast before. "Oh the poor girl." Sufficiently recovered, Siobhan kneels down next to Tristan. "You think it was the slavers?" She asks sadly. Despite her thick skin, Siobhan is fairly soft-hearted.
Tristan nods solemnly. "I know it was. This is Stella, if I’m correct. One of the few missing beasts that we knew about." he inspects the body, gingerly turning it over to expose a wicked slash in her back, and the broken off stump of a wooden arrow shaft embedded in her lower back. Tristan grimaces, " @#!*% , now guess who has to bring this body back to the abbey and tell her mother?" he asks the other two, a rhetorical question. After a few more seconds, he continues, "The way I see it, she was trying to escape. They got her with an arrow, then decided it was time to finish her off, that she was too much trouble." he flips the body back over, looking at her again. He sighs again and one of his fists clenches.
Siobhan takes a risk and places a paw on Tristan's shoulder. "It's a sad, sad thing." She says, softly. "But we're going to get the vermin that did this to her, okay? We are."
Rafe has been walking along the river bank, getting an idea on what the area looks like when he thinks he sees beasts ahead and walks forwards carefully.
"You're @#!*% right we will." he says, gritting his teeth and standing, carrying the body in his arms. He reaches down and gets his bow, slinging it over one shoulder as he turns, facing back towards the path, "Let's get her back to Redwall, or Ferravale at least." he takes a few steps, looking pretty gloomy, which is understandable.
With a quick glance between them, Misael and Siobhan hurry to fall in line behind Tristan. They aren't so much being stealthy now as they're just being quick. "Que tiene?" Misael asks when he gets a chance between dodging branches and checking around them. Siobhan glances at Tristan and then back to Misael. "Esta muy, muy triste." She responds. Misael nods.
Rafe gets closer, "Ello, what’s happen here?"
Tristan's head snaps quickly to Rafe as he speaks, showing a fair bit of surprise. The other otter may be lucky, because if he wasn't carrying the body of a mouse maid, he might have a weapon directed at him right now. Tristan eases a little as he answers, "This is Stella. One of the beasts who was captured." he nods down to his burden. "We know almost for certain where the slavers are now."
Rafe nods "So, when do we go after them and shouldn’t someone report this to Redwall, or was she from there?"
Tristan does his best to hold up a paw, "I'm just as ready to finish this as you are, trust me. But we can't attack them now. We're going to need our full strength to take them on." he looks around, then back down at the dead mouse maid. "Yes, I think she does need to go back to Redwall. I’ll take her." he says solemnly.
Rafe sighs and nods in understanding, "Fine matey, ya right...and more than just us, need a few more beasts ta help fight em' and save any slaves that are still alive, but why did they kill one of them?"
Tristan continues his walk back towards the road, assuming Rafe will follow, "I think she tried to escape. There's a broken off arrow and a bad slash wound on her back
Rafe nods as he listens and goes to follow Tristan, he keeps an eye out for any danger that may be nearby and follows the other otter slowly and quietly.
Tristan does not seem keen to speak, but not out of any rudeness towards Rafe, more out of his own personal gloominess and respect for the dead.
Rafe keeps following and keeping an eye out for possible slavers anywhere around, to be alert as they walk.
-Later, at the abbey-
Flicktail says, "Thats interestin Kerr" he chuckles"
Kerr asks, "what? Did I say somthing?"
Flicktail says, "You said "Hm""
Oz blinks, "This is peppermint tea"
Flicktail asks, "Where did you get peppermint?"
Oz sips his tea, "It grows in the meadow nearby and also here in the gardens"
Flicktail asks, "Does it look like pepper?"
Oz chuckles, "No"
Kerr says, "oh...huh...and it doesn’t taste like pepper ether..."
The door is pushed slowly open and two mice, one a guard and the other a novice, come in, followed closely by an otter that is likely quite familiar around the abbey by now, with his grey-green hooded cloak slightly soggy from the rain earlier on in the afternoon. In his arms he carries what looks like a large bundle wrapped in a black travelling cloak, though what it is is as of yet unseen. The otter advances steadily towards the three, looking even more gloomy than usual. He stops in front of the fox, flicking his neck to push his hood back, revealing grey eyes. "I'm afraid I’m a bearer of ill news tonight, Flicktail." he somberly remarks.
Flicktail stands "oh Dear me....." he says solemnly, and summons several novices with a Litter "What happened Tristan
Kerr looks at the otter not saying anything.
Oz puts down his teacup and listens to what Tristan has to say.
Tristan lays his burden down on the litter as the novices bring it, pulling the cloak back to reveal the cold, lifeless form of a mouse maid, and fairly young, too. The otter sighs, "Large cut and an arrow stump on her back. She was one of the ones the slavers captured, we think she was shot trying to escape then finished off. Found her to the East of Ferravale, a little off the road."
Flicktail nods "thank you for bringing her home tristan...I shall get my blade and if you willhave me we will see that this is punt an end to
Kerr exclaims, "an' I well be coming too!"
Oz frowns but still listens, he glances at Flicktail. "Just do not go alone Flicktail, that could be dangerous"
Tristan looks to be strongly considering taking the two with him, as he's sure he'll want the extra help, but with a sigh he says, "Look. As much as I’d like to have you with me on this, both of you," he glances at Kerr, though he knows little of the badger, "The slavers are still a threat until we can get them taken care of. They don't know we're looking for them, so they're likely still sending out groups. That means the abbey is still in some danger. You need to stay here and defend it, though the help of a badger and the champion will be sorely missed." he scratches his chin as the novices carry their grim burden away.
Flicktail says, "You woudl be Welcome Kerr" he looks at Tristan "are you saying you wish to huntthese cowards....and you will see to their capture?"
Kerr looks at the form of the squirrel maid 'dae ya know who she was?"
Flicktail says, "Her name is Stella" he says softly"
Oz listens as they talk, he stands "I need to check on the dibbuns, excuse me and Tristan, same thing for you...be careful while you’re out there"
Flicktail says, "Ok Oz"
Oz then heads upstairs slowly.
Kerr says, "oh..." he forms a fest in his paw "it is sad that one so young...""
The otter's lips pull tight in a grim line, "I will make no promises that they will be captured, but they will be dealt with. I have some other beasts to help me, mostly otters at the moment." he waves a belated goodbye to Oz as he leaves.
Flicktail says, "I did not ask if they woudl be captured Tristan, I trust you to show mercy where mercy is apppropriate"
Flicktail says, "But I need to let you know there is a Ferret outthere named Desotoe, he is working for the abbey but to do so is appearing as a vermin beast"
Tristan raises an eyebrow at this, "He wants to kill, you, me and Scioto, and he's tried to do it too. He was the beast after Trevi, remember?"
Flicktail says, "Yes I remember, andhe came to me...it was not so much fun for him to be a hunted beast. Tristan I gave im my word we woudl do im no harm if he aided us and did US no more harm...."
Kerr says, "hm..."
Tristan grimaces, "Doesn’t matter now, he's all talk and I’ve got bigger things to deal with, but so help me if he even threatens anything I’m putting an end to him."
Flicktail says, "I have said as much tristan..but Tristan..I was one like him..if he..IS trying...I'd like to..help him..ya know?"
Flicktail says, "Please"
Tristan sighs, pulling his hood up, "I'll try my best." he says simply. He takes a second to tighten up one of his gauntlets and flex his fingers on one paw, "I need to get back to Ferravale, I have an assault to plan..." he muses.
Kerr sighs "well, I don't like slavers who jus' kill beasts..."
Flicktail says, "we have some salt you cantake with you if you need tristan"
Tristan looks to Kerr, "Slaver who just kill beasts don't make a very good living," he remarks, before turning to leave, "Why would I need salt?" he asks the fox, looking over his shoulder.
Flicktail says, "you said you had a Salt to plan"
Tristan mutters something about not taking these things seriously under his breath as he pushes the doors open and is gone.