(514-02-19) Life's a Bear
Summary: Cyndeyrn leads a group north to Tisdale on a mission from Earl Robert.
Date: February 19, 514
Related: Organizing Over Dinner and Unexpected
cyndeyrn bryce landon kamron acwel arian 


It is a full day's journey from Sarum to Tilshead on somewhat poorer road than the others which cross at Sarum. Heading first north, the route crosses the Avon River at Amesbury Abbey, turns west beneath the nearby ruins of Stonehenge and then bears north and west again for the remaining majority of the trip, passing the smaller manors of Shrewton and Orcheston. The weather is cold but clear, the ground hard with frost in the early hours but not snow-covered.

Bryce de Baverstock rides on his black courser, going by the rather dramatic (and slightly blasphemic) name of Devil, the knight wearing his ringmaile of course, below a tabard that shows off his family colors of black and red, and the crest of the yellow bear of Baverstock. The season calls for a warm woollen cloak, and such he wears, of a dark grey. Dark eyes scan the sides of the road, the villages they are passing, but mostly this Baverstock appears to be rather quiet during most of the journey.

Cyndeyrn rides near the front of the train of men (and Arian), squires, horses, baggage, and other sundries that accompany the mounted party. Although the ride is long, it seems mostly uneventful so far, which is something to be thankful for all things considered. "Perhaps Sir Heward has just been busy with his own affairs, and this will be little more than two days of riding and enjoying his hospitality," he remarks, turning his mount slightly to draw up beside Bryce, the childhood friend his typical choice in otherwise fairly infrequent 'chatter'. "I've not seen any signs of foul play so far, at least."

It was thought that because over the years, Landon grew so tall, that he needed a larger horse. So his charger has a degree of draft in it's blood, stockier and not as sleek as some of the other horses used on the mission. The sorrel beast has thick clodding hooves that sports the man's weight through the choppy mud soaked ground, wet with spring churn. He's riding back a ways from Bryce, but also with the black and red tabard set over the maile. Bryce had the honour of riding with the banner of their house, if the man decided to, as it was not allowed by the rank and authority of the younger to do as much. Thus, the tabard is all that he can breast - not that he seems in the slightest at odds with that. A fur mantled cloak is upon his shoulders, leather gloves upon his hand insulating them from the cold. He yawns a little as he considers the landscape that they've been passing. The full day travel required them to walk their horses in between cantering and sitting on them as the horses walked - no man galloped hard over the landscape unless they didn't care for their animals or the situation warrented it.

Kamron rides upright and steady on the back of his graying charger. For all that he wears his mail and his red, blue, and yellow tabard, he has his shield slung on his back and his axe still hangs from his hip. Thankfully, he is not singing, but he is grumping, because that's the next best thing to do. "At least it's not raining. I do hate fighting in mud." Looking over his shoulder, he adds to the nervous (Newton) squire riding behind him, "Don't ever do it if you can avoid it, Newt. All too easy to flounder." He nods to Cyndeyrn, "So hopefully this is simply a diplomatic task. If not… well… six knights and four squires should be able to handle most anything we run into, I should think."

Having pledged his sword to this enterprise, Acwel is here, following Cyndeyrn's lead and likely catching up with the man as he leads this intrepid group of knights willing to risk their lives for Tilshead. He wears a black tabard lined by a crimson red, and the three dragons of his coat-of-arms figure prominently at the front. He is silent, but then, it'll be quite a day the moment he decides not to be silent when he's the one following orders and is en route somewhere. His stark white charger, dubbed Saint, seems to keep up with the pace of the others'. His squire trails right behind on his own horse.

Bryce's head turns when Cyndeyrn rides up beside him, a faint twitch of a smile offered to the friend. "We'd all prefer it to stay that way," he remarks with a dry chuckle. His own sword hangs at his belt, and the shield of his manor is strapped to his back. A fleeting glance is cast over his shoulder, to where his squire Carl rides somewhere behind him, as if to check if the lad is still with them. Then his attention shifts briefly to Landon, and he smiles, seeing his mountain of a brother on his horse. A mountain indeed compared to his own shorter and lanky frame. "I am glad you are coming along this time, brother," Bryce says, before his gaze returns to scan the road ahead of them. And while his left hand holds the reins of Devil, the other is lifted, in a rather odd gesture, patting the area some inches below his collarbone, as if he were checking on something.

Lady Sir Arian de Laverstock has joined the journey as a latecomer — more of a happenstance invitation. Her mulberry gelding trots seriously alongside its quadpedal peers — quite a different personality from her old, shaggy sumpter and her flirtatious rouncy. The horse is scarred, but wears those marks of battle proudly, just as he carries his armored rider proudly. Arian represents the Laverstocks well with her green woolen cloak with the rearing white horse on her back and the face of Gwynn ap Nudd embroidered on its rump. Her sword and shield are stowed away similar to Kamron. She glances the Dinton's way at the mention of mud, and she laughs softly. "I rather like a good roll in the mud."

Success
Cyndeyrn checked his awareness of 8, he rolled 7.

"I have little fear of bandits," Cyndeyrn agrees with Kamron when he joins the chitchat. "Most, I think, would flee upon sight of our party, unless we chased them to some loot like that last batch. Like most lesser beasts, they will fight when cornered, or perhaps if starving, but turn tail elsewise." Of course he will nod at Bryce's own reply, and in some curiousity glance back when he calls to his brother, and it is in that moment that he notes the odd gesture of the other knight's in touching his collar, his own brow furrowing slightly, although he does not remark on things further.

The group rides a while longer, their trip unremarkable across the largely open ground, a stretch between the last two manors before reaching Tilshead's own farmlands. While not stressful, it is still a long day's travel, the sort that will make most weary by its very nature, eager for the comforts of a proper hall. This may make Orcheston itself a tempting sight when it comes into view, somewhere in the late afternoon hours. The sun has not yet set, but threatens it, the sky beginning to turn orange as the group passes fenced yards and other small outer buildings sprawling from the central village.

Failed.
Acwel checked his awareness of 10, he rolled 13.
Failed.
Kamron checked his awareness at 9, he rolled 16.
Success
Landon checked his Awareness of 11, he rolled 8.
Success
Bryce checked his Awareness of 10, he rolled 8.
Success
Cyndeyrn checked his awareness of 8, he rolled 6.
Failed.
Arian checked her awareness of 10, she rolled 13.

Kamron is apparently getting used to Arian's ways, as he snorts a laugh rather than blushing. "And here I thought the Romans were joking about dirty Pagans." Amusement ripples through his voice, and he shakes his head, twisting in his saddle to respond to the other members of the party, "Looks like we'll just make the town before nightfall. So perhaps we'll manage beds tonight rather than bedrolls and tents."

Landon sways in the saddle, caught yawning when Bryce looks back at him. His jaw hangs open for a while before he can wrench it closed, eyes watering up at the corners for the size of the yawn. "Aye brother, a good way to spend the day - or two," as the conversation has already marked. The charger was a good head or two above most of the others. The mane and tail was blond, with three white stockings, and a dappled sorrel mottling to indicate the generations of breeding to achieve the stockier sort of charger that supports a man the size of Landon. His sword and shield stowed in the easiest form to draw quickly should it be needed. Though he yawned, he keeps his eyes mostly moving. Orcheston itself makes quite a pleasant sight, but as possibly one of newest minted knights here, just in January in fact, he says nothing of stopping unless one of the other knights do. Then he'll second the call. Kamron's suggestion is grinned at, "My thoughts exactly. I second that suggestion." As his dusty sorrel plods through and he speaks of that, his eyes sweep across a fence posts that has him cran his head, "Freshly broken that. You think someone lost their horse and collided?" This breaks his voice toward Bryce.

Success
Acwel checked his temperate of 13, he rolled 12.

"Is this a Laverstock thing, Lady Arian?" Acwel asks, breaking silence, and perhaps, distracting himself for a moment or two from the long journey ahead. Saint complains a little when the Woodford knight snaps on the reins to urge it to go faster, but it is then rewarded with a ruffle to the mane.

Bryce looks up briefly, when he catches that rather forward remark of the Pagan female knight in their company, his brows lifting there, even though he will not comment on it, his dark eyes shifting to Kamron then as he so readily reacts to the innuendo. The distraction just brief, as it then catches something in the scenery they are passing - obviously the same his Landon has also observed. "Or… some cattle that was stolen…?" His less optimistic musing, shared with the others in a rather pensive murmur.

Cyndeyrn draws on his reigns to slow up just as the Baverstock brothers do likewise, glancing down at the fence. "It could be either, I'd say, there's little telling." He looks ahead then, beyond the length of fence and toward the nearest houses ahead. "I suspect they'd know, one way or the other, though our task is not to patrol the area for stolen livestock in any case, but to check on Sir Heward."

Arian dimples at Kamron. "Better that I know how to poke fun at myself, don't you think, Sir Kamron?" Then she reaches down to softly muss the red and black mane of the gray gelding. She does look up toward Acwel at his question, and her laughter returns, albeit a bit self-deprecating. "No, Sir Acwel… though my brothers did tend to care not if it was rain nor shine when it came to practice, and we oft dragged mud all through the halls of Laverstock much to my father's chagrin." She then glances toward Landon and Bryce at their words, and she tilts her head slightly.

Landon nods at Cyndeyrn, "You right, it could be a dispute between families," he suggests with a shrug at the broken posts and the potential for cattle to have been rustled. He nudges his mount ahead, trying to stifle another long yawn. This time he says through it, "Or it coulllld be-arrgg—bannnndits." His hand comes up to his eyes to rub away the weariness of the days travel, blinking more water out of his blue and hazel eyes.

Kamron looks over to the broken fence, shrugging slightly, "Or a freak windstorm, or," he gestures to Landon, then shrugs, "Deyr's right, though. We're not here for rustled cattle, although it could certainly be a clue if something is wrong." Gesturing toward the town ahead, he adds, "We'll want to be into town before full dark, won't we? It wouldn't do to show up right at dinner time without at least the slightest bit of warning, after all." Nodding to Arian after that, he chuckles, "I think every knight found their way into the mud now and then. Unless you are claiming to be particularly muddy… or unless you're still poking fun at yourself, Sir Arian…"

"We should keep in mind, if cattle was disturbed, then. There may be something else afoot," Acwel comments, quietly before flashing Arian a grin. "Surely it was no one's fault that it decided to rain. Hopefully your father did not decide to beat you for being diligent in your training. Though, I suspect that may have been the case." It was certainly his.

The left hand tightens about then pulls the reins of Devil, as Bryce de Baverstock watches the fence with an increasingly curious expression. "Mind if I check on that briefly?", he asks, this directed towards Cyndeyrn who leads the mission. "Just for a bit… There might be tracks there… traces who ever caused this damage may have left…" And if Cyndeyrn does not object, he will dismount, and walk over to the fence, leading Devil after him by the reins.

"We'll make it before dark as long as we don't more than stop briefly," Cyndeyrn will answer, both to Kamron and probably as a permission of sorts to Bryce.

Landon glances back at his brother who seems intent on checking on the fence posts. Since they're all stopped and all that, he reaches down into his saddle pack and pulls out a piece of dried meat to chew on, smoked and peppered. He's a big guy, he needs protein and he'll eat his weight in it too, given the chance.

Critical Fail!
Arian checked her awareness of 10, she rolled 20.

"I would say that being dirty is a regular state of mine, Sir Kamron." Arian maintains a rather earnest expression as she says this, though the corners of her mouth twitch ever so slightly. She rests her hand on the pommel of her saddle, watching the others fret over the fence. She pulls the mulberry's reins slightly, drawing the stoic charger closer to the fence and thus the field beyond. The moon-eyed gelding lowers its nose, and its scarred withers give a small shudder. "I think we are probably chasing Tylweth Teg — " Faeries. " — I say we move on." She glances over toward the others, drawing the gelding around to the road once more.

Failed.
Bryce checked his Hunting of 5, he rolled 16.

Bryce hrrms, shaking his head as he studies the dirt at his feet before the fence. "The ground's too hard, I can't see tracks or anything.", he grumbles, disappointment evident in his mien.

Critical Success!
You check your lustful at 7, you rolled 7.

Kamron's rouncey would probably be dancing and pacing around in a circle by now, but his charger is a more stolid, staid sort of horse. He just stands there in the middle of the road, his master watching the others circle around and check for tracks and look over the area. He opens his mouth, and then Arian comments, and he shakes his head, chuckling in amusement. "Of mind, certainly, Sir Arian. Not, I think, that anyone present is complaining."

Success
Acwel checked his awareness of 10, he rolled 4.

"There is something there," Acwel, apparently, is a rather perceptive fellow when he wants to be. He points toward the hills in the west, "It just doesn't seem to fit in right with the rest of the terrain." Having pointed this out, the knight of Woodford looks to the leader of the expedition for the decision making process on this. "Do we investigate? Or should we proceed on course?"

Success
Landon checked his Awareness of 11, he rolled 2.

Chewing dried pieces of smoked meat, one would think that Landon was lazy or not really paying heed beyond the jerky he's mowing down on. Instead, his eyes are directed on the far side of the road, to the weset of the manor ahead. His chewing slows as he squints in the direction of the hills. Maybe it's because he sits higher, but he pushes up in his stirrups, free hand saluting above his eyes to cut out the glare of the failing light, before he sits back down with a grunt. "I see it as well Sir Acwel," "Some… lump or rather. Too far to spot with our eyes here. We'd have to move out to investigate to determine what it is."

Success
Cyndeyrn checked his just of 16, he rolled 9.
Success
Cyndeyrn checked his loyalty for lord of 15, he rolled 5.

Once the other two knights report their sighting, Cynderyn glances that way, brows knitting slightly. "A lump? And not a rock?" He strains to see it as well, though whether he can make out the difference at that distance is hard to say. "If this is some sort of trouble, and not mere wind or errant livestock banging into things, and there is still some chance of intervention, I say we do so while the moment is ours. We will not stray too far, but neither will we turn our eyes from a chance at thwarting wickedness." Perhaps he senses the same from much the others, a moment of shared belief, as there is no great pause for discussion. "Let us ride, swiftly!" And with that, he will turn his steed about, and start off at, if not a gallop, at least a light cantering pace.

Failed.
Bryce checked his Just of 10, he rolled 14.
Failed.
Bryce checked his Loyalty for Robert of 15, he rolled 16.

Bryce is already back on his steed, having re-mounted as soon as his attempts at finding anything interesting by the fences had more or less failed. A faint smile is offered to Landon, as he was one of the two catching that oddity on the hillside. "It must have some advantage being such a particularly tall fellow on a horse," he jest-teases, before he urges his steed on, following after Cyndeyrn who leads the way.

Success
Acwel checked his just of 10, he rolled 4.
Failed.
Acwel checked his loyalty for lord of 15, he rolled 16.

And so as Cyndeyrn commands, Acwel will follow, simply because he sees merit in this, even at the detriment of their mission, overall. Quickly, he presses the spurs against the side of the horse and snaps on the reins to make Saint travel faster, actually going for a gallop towards the unknown lump at the hill that they spotted. Perhaps all too readily inflamed by his sense of justice, he further draws his sword from its scabbard.

Critical Fail!
Landon checked his Loyalty for Robert of 15, he rolled 20. (not for Passion, just comparing Traits)
Success
Landon checked his Prudent of 10, he rolled 1.
Success
Landon checked his modest of 13, he rolled 2.

Bryce gets a wry glance, "I have to come in handy somehow." Landon then checks his reins and follows Cynderyn's lead. "It would do good to use caution on the approach in case something foul is afoot!" He applies pressure and heels his mount in line with the others.

Failed.
Arian checked her loyalty for lord of 15, she rolled 19.
Success
Arian checked her generous of 13, she rolled 11.

With an impish smile, Arian draws her mulberry up to Kamron's. "I don't know what you are talking about, Sir Kamron. I was talking about actual dirt." Then she turns her head when Landon notes the lump, and she frowns a bit. "I saw nothing out there," she says, more or less to herself. But then the conversation of possible investigations launch. She casts a dubious glance up the road to their intended destination, and then out at the field. Then she releases a deep exhale, and nods with the others. "We should see to it… just in case. The manor can wait a few hours…" She pulls her gelding back around, who is quite patient for all this back and forth.

Critical Success!
Kamron checked his just at 16, he rolled 16.
Success
You check your loyalty for Robert at 15, you rolled 8.

Kamron hesitates for a long moment, looking between the town and the 'lump in the hills,' obviously conflicted. Eventually, he lets out a sigh, "If there are missing cattle, it's likely a symptom of other things wrong. If Sir Heward cannot protect his people, then we, as Earl Robert's knights, should." That seems to settle things in his mind, and he nods again to himself, heeling his horse after the others and unslinging his shield to get it into place on his left arm. Once he's on the move, he looks over to Arian, shaking his head and chuckling, "Of course you were." Landon gets another brief comment, "Well, you can reach things on high shelves too."

Coming on the scene after a short ride, it is immediately clear that something has transpired, though what remains in question. Ahead lays some animal, or… a portion of it, likely a cow if someone were to make a guess, although the butchered state it is makes it somewhat dubious to say. It lays just beside some small stand of trees, and a bloody trail seems to suggest it has been dragged there from some ways further along. All of this is terribly odd for mere banditry, of course.

Landon smirks over at Kamron, calling out, "There is that!" Once the ride is made over toward the location of the 'lump' he had spotted alongside Acwel, he reins in shy of it, less his mount catch the whiff of blood on the air. He sits back on his saddle, as his charger stomps in the soft spring ground. "Wolves?" he questions to the rest of the group.

Failed.
Bryce checked his Pious of 10, he rolled 12.

It is a sight that makes Bryce reign in his horse immediately, Devil obviously not too pleased with this, as the black steed starts to prance a little, giving its rider something to do. "Wolves wouldn't have dragged the poor cow all the way up here," he offers pensively, in reply to Landon's question.

Almost as quickly as the party rides up, there are two sounds to be promptly heard: First, almost as if answering Landon (and perhaps Cyndeyrn's unintentional foreshadowing earlier in the ride): a growl from the nearby foliage. And then, momentarily after it, a yelp from somewhere higher in trees: "Ah! Please! Help me!"

Failed.
Arian checked her pious of 10, she rolled 14.
Failed.
Arian checked her worldly of 10, she rolled 19.

As they come upon the lump, the sight of the mutilated bovince sends a chill down Arian's spine. Her hands knot up her reins, tugging up the head of the mulberry gelding. "By the Annwn Cwn…" The words are spoken in a sharp inhale. She turns her head sharply around as she hears the yelp in the trees. The whole scene seems hauntingly preternatural to her, and she holds her charger steady as her own nerves twist. Her pale gaze shifts over the bloodied trail.

Kamron blanches a little at the scene of slaughter, murmuring, "Merciful God…" He nods slowly at Landon's suggestion, reaching down to his hip to draw his axe out and strip it of its leather sheathing. "I think…" And then there's a growl that sends even Kamron's aged charger dancing, and the knight goes with, "…I think you're right. Wolves or dogs." And then he raises his voice to call in response, "Stay in the tree if it's safe. We're coming!"

"If the pack is big enough-" Landon goes to protest Bryce's assessment of the situation, when he's cut off by the yelp in the trees. "So close to the manor?" he asks outloud as he has to check his mount as well, the animal tossing its head and whuffling a breath for the growl.

Although momentarily confused by the bloody mess they find, Cyndeyrn just needs the call for help to spur into motion, pausing to draw and ready his shield, before quickly wheeling that way. "Wolves," he'll agree with his cousin. "Mayhaps the boy was-, I don't know. But he needs help! We'll chase them off."

Bryce keeps Devil in check, as the growl has the expected effect on the steed. His head turns to regard the tree once the call for help is issued, "Oh yes, we will," the older Baverstock knight offers in agreement with Cyndeyrn, drawing his own sword now, as he makes Devil approach the tree - and the growl.

"A shame no one is carrying lit torches, as that would prove to be good to keep wolves away," Acwel comments, sword already drawn and at the ready, so he will attack the wolves once the rest of the knights do. He raises his shield as well, though, what good is that against a pack of rather rabid canines?

Landon watches the other knights blazing toward the cry of help. He breathes out hastily, sluggish to draw his blade but it does come free with a metallic song. "My want for a lance right about now!" but he nudges Brute ahead, shield slung through his one arm as he prepares to chase the growling demons off.

Bursting into the trees - those that do, at any rate - will immediately have answers to several questions. The 'how' of the cow being dragged so far, and perhaps the 'what' being discussed of the animal itself. It is no pack of animals, but a single and rather large bear, seen immediately pawing at the base of a tree, indeed no doubt planning to climb it to make a meal of whatever hangs in the branches, at least until it hears the knights coming and swings around toward them.

Somehow, the sight of the bear seems far more comforting than what was originally passing through Arian's superstitious mind. She pulls her charger back a few paces, and then glances to the others. She is about to suggest a calmer approach, but then it appears the bear is all ready for a fight. She draws out her sword with the sharp hiss of steel against leather.

Failed.
Kamron checked his hunting at 4, he rolled 15.

"That's not a wolf." Kamron wheels his horse around again to try to get it completely under control. "Anyone know how to hunt a bear?" Evidently, the Dinton has never hunted bear. "Should we surround it? Come at it all together? Any ideas?" Not that there is a lot of time, with it turning toward them, and so he angles his warhorse around so that his shielded side is toward the bear, ready to fight if the thing charges.

Critical Fail!
Landon checked his Hunting of 3, he rolled 20.

"Not a damn clue—" Landon says as he hauls back on the reins, "But our swords fall short, I think…" He's backing up his mount, looking up at the trees to see if he can spot the individual the bear had been after.

Success
Cyndeyrn checked his swords of 15, he rolled 4.
Cyndeyrn rolls 1d20 and gets (9) for a total of: (9)
Cyndeyrn rolls 4d6 and gets (5 3 6 6) for a total of: (20)
No damage with Reinforced Mail, Shield, and Chivalrous.
Success
Cyndeyrn checked his horsemanship of 15, he rolled 3.

Cyndeyrn is swift on the charge and does not falter when he sees the creature that, well, they had all agreed was probably much smaller! Still, when the bear whirls to meet him and Landon, the Dinton knight is perhaps not prepared for either its size or furiousity. Standing on its hind legs, the Bear is a formidable foe even to the mounted knights, and as it swipes with one huge claw, its all that Cyndeyrn can do to veer off and hold up his shield. The blow rakes across it, heavy enough to jar him inside his mail, but fortunately not unhorse him.

Failed.
Bryce checked his Hunting of 5, he rolled 17.
Success
Bryce checked his Sword of 13, he rolled 6.
Bryce rolls 4d6 and gets (1 2 1 6) for a total of: (10)

"I have no idea," the older Baverstock confesses with a sigh, now giving a bit more rein to Devil as he eyes the beast, his right hand tightening about the pommel of his sword, which he wields, the tip pointing in the vague direction of the bear in question. "We should just… try to chase it away, maybe?", a glint there in his dark eyes as he glances to Landon first, then towards Cyndeyrn. "Just what are we waiting for?" And with that he urges Devil on and rides towards the beast! Swinging his sword, he brings it down, stabbing the bear and dealing it a cut at least. While Bryce is lucky enough - and that perhaps because he is such a lanky fellow! - not to be attacked by the bear, at least this time around.

Success
Landon checked his Sword of 15, he rolled 13.
Cyndeyrn rolls 1d20 and gets (3) for a total of: (3)
Landon rolls 5d6 and gets (5 3 1 3 4) for a total of: (16)

Landon watches his brother charge the bear. Then the bear is whirling at them. He sees the attempt of the Dinton knight and spurs forward to hack at the bear's opening left as it turns to swipe at Cyndeyrn. A mighty chop of his sword is intended to cleave the bear's head off but it rakes down it's neck and does considerable damage, as to be expected from a mountain of a lad that Landon is. He pushes his horse out of the way and turns back for another pass if necessary.

Failed.
Acwel checked his hunting of 4, he rolled 6.
Success
Acwel checked his sword of 15, he rolled 13.
Cyndeyrn rolls 1d20 and gets (19) for a total of: (19)
Acwel rolls 5d6 and gets (4 1 3 4 2) for a total of: (14)

Quickly riding to strike at the bear, Acwel is very careful, very precise with his attack. He gets swiped at, so he uses his shield to parry that strike as he grits his teeth, considering the relative might of said creature. Then, when the momentum of the beast is gone, he thrusts the sword at the creature's chest, but it's still up. Of course.

Failed.
Arian checked her hunting of 2, she rolled 3.
Success
Arian checked her sword of 15, she rolled 2.
Cyndeyrn rolls 1d20 and gets (10) for a total of: (10)
Cyndeyrn rolls 4d6 and gets (3 4 3 6) for a total of: (16)
No damage with Reinforced Mail and Shield.
Success
Arian checked her horsemanship of 10, she rolled 1.

Heavy hooves scrape through the soft peat, drawing Arian into an ideal angle to strike at the beast. She is about to draw her sword around the shield to strike, but the abrupt flash of sharp claws send her into a crouch in the saddle with her shield up to take the strike. Her shield shakes, vibrating with the impact that causes her breath to catch in her chest. She swings her horse around as best she can, pulling back to open up the space between her and the creature while also not losing her seat.

Success
Kamron checked his axe at 15, he rolled 2.
Kamron rolls 4d6 and gets (3 1 2 4) for a total of: (10)

The slight delay from Kamron in circling his horse allows the others to get in on the beast more quickly, but he follows after them shortly, holding his charger back a moment for them to clear the area and then spurring in on the beast. He ducks low on the horse's back as he closes, sinking behind his shield, and then raises up in his saddle, bringing his axe down and over to chop into the humped fur, skin, and fat of its back. "That thing looks like it hits hard. Everyone still surviving?"

Success
Landon checked his Sword of 15, he rolled 1.
Landon rolls 5d6 and gets (2 4 5 2 2) for a total of: (15)

"That's not a great way of hunting-" Landon chides in as he spins his horse around after the last plunging of his blade into the thing's neck had helped skewered it and deadify it. "Should we take the head and let the manor know where the corpse is on our way through? They could probably do something with all… that." Meat and fur. Yep.

Failed.
Acwel checked his sword of 15, he rolled 16. (+5 from Mounted=Success)
Cyndeyrn rolls 1d20 and gets (9) for a total of: (9)
Acwel rolls 5d6 and gets (6 4 2 3 2) for a total of: (17)

"It is done," Acwel remarks, after this particular final attack allows the group some reprieve, as the bear tried to eat him, and so on. It was a worthwhile defense, however, and in the end, a well-timed slash at the creature's skull put it down for good. The Woodford knight glances at his blood-stained sword and proceeds to clean it.

Success
Cyndeyrn checked his sword of 15, he rolled 5.
Cyndeyrn rolls 1d20 and gets (9) for a total of: (9)
Cyndeyrn rolls 4d6 and gets (4 6 6 6) for a total of: (22)
1 damage with Reinforced Mail, Shield, and Chivalrous.
Success
Cyndeyrn checked his horsemanship of 15, he rolled 9.

A few moments of bloody slashing, furious claw-swiping, and the nervous neighing of horses, and the bear is dead, fallen in another heavy pile at the base of the tree. A few moments of silence follow, and then, somewhat abruptly, a second and much smaller form falls from the tree. Well, maybe it leaps down, as it looks more human-shaped, and lands on its feet. Scrawny young lad feet, connected to scrawny young lad legs… that promptly start running off another direction without so much as a thanks!

The Pagan woman draws her horse around, glancing down at the fallen bear. Arian draws her fingers through the mane of the mulberry gelding, tugging at the black and red hair gently. She draws her horse closer to the bear, looking over the blood-matted fur. She almost seems… saddened… by the sight, but quickly shakes it away. Then she glances around at the thud of the young lad hitting the ground, and breaking into a run. She narrows her eyes slightly. "Do we let him run?" She asks, tugging on her reins again.

Failed.
Kamron checked his dex at 13, he rolled 15. (+5 from Mounted=Success)
Cyndeyrn rolls 1d20 and gets (8) for a total of: (8)

Kamron wheels his horse around again to line up for another charge on the bear… and then it goes down, "Well don — " And then the boy is running, and Kamron spurs his charger after the imminent flight risk. "Hold, boy!" Thrusting the haft of the axe into his belt-loop, he leans forward as he closes, "Stop!" The graying warhorse is turned in front of the runner, and then Kamron reaches down to grab the back of the youth's tunic, "We're trying to help."

Landon asks to Arian in response, "Do we have a /right/ to hold him?"

The boy kicks and fidgets in Kamron's grasp, but doesn't give much serious fight - he's lean and armed only with a small knife in his belt that he doesn't seem to think to draw. A little investigation of the area will find a dead adult laying in the foliage and likely overlooked in the heat of battle, and another portion of the cow. The slain beast itself, while large, definitely has the look of an animal too lean for its own good, surely too thin to hibernate the colder months away, and now close to starving.

Cyndeyrn, having survied another bear-swipe without -too- serious harm, eventually draws his own mount around to rejoin the group. "Good catch," he says to Kamron, and then points out toward Landon, "I… don't think he's a village boy out taking the cow for a walk."

Landon glances as Kamron snatches the boy, looking between the other knights, specifically turning a glance upon Cyndeyrn. He remains on his horse, turning it around the area though, after a soft grunt, "Could have been out hunting with his pap's…" A bloody end of his sword points to the body, "Unlucky bloke. We didn't get here in time." He'll slide down from his saddle now, sheathing his sword after he wipes it off as best he can. The larger knight thumps when he lands beside his mount, dropping the reins down before the horse in a practice that should the horse be well trained, it'll stay. He crouches down toward the adult form, searching for signs of what they were up to.

A good-natured chuckle comes from Bryce to Landon's comment about this being a great way of hunting. "I suppose spears and arrows will be the usual way to approach this task," he smiles, a nod then coming in response to the question. "We should perhaps notify the manor in charge, yes." Then Bryce's attention is drawn towards the boy who was trying to get away - was - as he is now held by Sir Kamron. It is Cyndeyrn's remark about the boy that earns him a glance from this Baverstock knight. "So you suppose, the boy may be the child of the dead adult there…?" A vague gesture towards where the body has been found. A nod there, of agreement with Landon. "Hunting for a commoner, without permission of the vassal knight in charge. They must have been poachers."

Steadying the gelding, Arian sweeps out of her saddle. She lands heavily in the peat, and gently pats the scarred wither of her charger. She steps toward the bear, looking over it carefully with serious pale eyes. Her head bows a bit, and her lips move silently. Then she glances over toward Landon as he examines the adult's body. "Rather than speculating, perhaps we can just ask the boy?" She straightens up a bit, stepping away from the bear carcass. "He obviously still has his tongue." Referring of course to his cries for help from the tree.

"Thanks Deyr." Kamron should probably change his grasp to the youth's arm, but his left hand is still caught up with his shield, and he's pretty sure that the youngster would run if he let go, so he stays leaned over in his saddle rather uncomfortably with a mailed mitt full of dirty tunic. Kamron nods to Arian, then looks down to his current captive, "Just what was going on here, lad?" He's got the right tool for removing the bear's head if that's the choice made, but he's a little busy to offer the use of it. "Were you poaching up here? Or stealing the cow?" That's not entirely fair, however, and so he relents, "Or were you looking for the cow?"

"I agree with Sir Arian, let us interrogate the boy," Acwel states, sheathing his sword once it is cleaned, and the cloth is tucked away into a backpack strapped to the back of the horse. Then Kamron starts the interrogation and he falls silent, for the time being.

"And what of the cow, then?" Cyndeyrn will wonder of Bryce, looking from the boy's possible father and then back. "But aye, either they were poaching or stealing the cow and attracted a hungry animal. Crimes in either case. The man has already answered, the boy can do so promptly. We may drop him here or take him to Sir Heward, but eitehr way we ought be off swiftly now, have delayed here." Of course, in the midst of this discussion, Arian does suggest some basic logic that seems to escape the rest of them. This is why you bring women along!

Answering Kamron, the boy declares, "We ain't no poachers!" Maybe he assumes that's the worst crime of the lot? "Um, well, we was, erm, I mean, that's right, it wandered off and we was gonna get it and take it back. So you can let me go and I'll get back to me mum."

Success
Landon checked his Trusting of 10, he rolled 3.
Success
Landon checked his Just of 10, he rolled 1.

Landon flashes a look to Arian, nodding for her suggestion as he turns around to regard the measures of their attempts at interrogating the boy. "If the boy says he ain't, he ain't—" because really, who wants to have the blood of a boy on their hands? "And who are we to judge? Let us deliver him to the Manor town up ahead and carry on with our duty. There is no more that can be done here that is our responsibility."

Success
Acwel checked his suspicious of 10, he rolled 5.

Failed.
Bryce checked his Suspicious of 10, he rolled 13.
Success
Bryce checked his Trusting of 10, he rolled 2.

The boy's vehement denial of being a poacher somewhat manages to touch Bryce de Baverstock. "Where's your mother?", he intones, his voice laced with concern. "Maybe we should return you to her care." Bringing his steed now a bit closer to where Kamron interrogates the boy, he adds: "The man there in the bushes… is that your father, lad?"

Failed.
Arian checked her trusting of 10, she rolled 14.
Failed.
Arian checked her suspicious of 10, she rolled 18.

Arian listens, but does not yet interrupt with her own. The men have this handled. She looks over the mulberry, offering a soft brush of her knuckles against his nose. When she looks back at the gathering, it is in time to hear Bryce speak of the boy's mother. Her lips thin a bit, looking down at the body of the adult, and then back out toward the mangled remains of the cow. Her brow furrows thoughtfully.

Failed.
Kamron checked his suspicious at 10, he rolled 13.
Failed.
Kamron checked his trusting at 10, he rolled 16.

Kamron starts to lead the boy back to the group, looking to Cyndeyrn, "We do not have the right of Law here, Deyr. If anyone is to punish him, it will be Sir Heward or Earl Robert. But we should definitely take him back with us." He nods slowly to the boy, "That would certainly be the only intelligent thing to claim. What was the cow's name?" He doesn't care what the boy answers, just how he does. A quick, sure response to the question probably means it is his cow, hesitation probably means he's making something up. At least in Kam's mind. Looking back up again, he notes, "Either way, we should take a token of the bear back with us, to explain our tardiness."

Looking around between the circle of knights, the kid looks quite intimidated by the armored lot, and under the many questions doesn't seem sure where to look. "Huh? Take me back? Oh, um, yes, sure, though I can walk if you, um, noble lords are busy… Him? Oh? Uh, no, not my pa, ah, an uncle." It's really back and forth, and while he definitely seems hesitant with his answers, the multidirectional interrogation could as easily be to blame as genuine deceit. "… Bessie?"

Cyndeyrn still seems fairly intent on what will now put them in Tilshead the fastest, and agrees, "Let us leave him with the folk here. They can arrange to reclaim and bury the body as well."

"His clothes are unsuitable for the winter. Probably trying to take some hides-" this Landon nodded toward the dead man, adding some speculation to the mystery, "He's wearing some sad attempt at patchwork armor though — if that means anything to either of you Sirs!" To those who were interrogating, but he supported Kamron's mention that they held not the way of Law here. "All this we can report to Sir Heward." Then he's moving toward the bear to take a trophy! He helped kill the thing, he wants a claw…

With some discussion, the group eventually heads back toward Orcheston, boy in tow. It is hard to say if he looks nervous, although he does at least once or twice offer that he's perfectly capable of walking his own way! Reaching the manor, it is now just edging on dark, and there are few souls to be seen outside. Not fortified beyond the small fence that likely serves more to keep in errant livestock, the group seems to face no challenge save a suspicious eye from a lone old woman still out in some small personal garden patch in front of her hut.

"Oh, that's my house," the boy will say as they pass a little further inside.

Kamron takes the time to remove the head of the bear (just so that the local knight will believe at least part of their story), wipe the blood off his axe-head, sling his shield on his back, and lift up the visor of his helmet. After all, it pays to make a good impression when you arrive at a strange knight's manor. "Well, if everything turns out alright with the Knight, you'll be back to it this evening, lad." Glancing over to the other knights, he inquires, "So… has anyone eaten bear before? That's a whole lot of meat up there, but you don't usually see it at feasts…"

Arian has been strangely cool regarding the young boy, maintaining a stoic demeanor as they ride into the manor's lands. She casts a dubious glance toward the hut with the old lady, though Kamron seems to sate her own internal commentary. The mention of bear causes a soft chuckle, and she shakes her head slightly. "Can't say I have enjoyed bear before, Sir Kamron."

"It's greasy but goes down well-" meat was meat, if anyone looked at the Baverstock knight they'd understand why any game was good game. Landon had taken the one bear's foot, packed it in his satchel. Wrapped the liver too. He was riding at an easy pace behind the others, "The rest of the bear should make good for the villagers, those who wish to have a bit of meat on their plate. Not much to that bear. Starving I'd say." And he's chomping down on … yes, meat. Of the smoked kind! Hungry after all that bear killing.

"It's edible enough," Cyndeyrn will say, perhaps a little surprisingly, though for all his faith he is a very woodsy fellow, and he nods as Landon pipes in. "It depends a bit what the bears have been eating, as well, since they will eat almost anything. That one, as Sir Landon says, would likely be on the tougher side given what was clearly a sparse diet."

Soon they are at the hall here, which is not much different than those any of the knights would know. The sun is set, but not so long, and so there are some sounds within, likely of folk at their own evening meal. Cyndeyrn, on behalf of the group and maybe because he's not just beheaded a bear, will dismount and knock on the door and announce their party, giving their names, houses, their mission for Earl Robert, and the fact that they are holding 'some boy who claims to be of the village, found with a dead man and cow, slain by a bear, near some trees west of the road.' Others may add what they like, and after a while, there is a reply from within:

"That is an odd tale, sirs, especially to come with at this hour. With all the trouble here, you can understand my doubts."

"You certainly have an unusual appetite, Sir Landon," Acwel comments, dismounting from the horse after Cyndeyrn does, and readjusts his sword belt. "Trouble here?" He questions of the voice from within, glancing to the others. "What trouble is here, pray tell, sir? If you can tell us."

"Bandits, ruffians, hungry wolves and ills of other sorts, as hard winter brings," the voice will answer. "At least wolves you're not!"

"And why is your liege lord not taking care of you, not protecting you from these things?" Acwel presses on, suddenly intrigued by this seeming negligence. "What of Tilshead? Do they not send men here?"

Landon glances to Acwel, brow lifted, "What's unusual about it?" He was completely oblivious to the fact that he was doing anything strange. As his mount saddles up with the rest, he dismounts and hands the reins to Carl, who he borrows and the poor lad is having to balance looking after two knights - Bryce first of course. He still rips the piece of meat with his teeth, chewing with mouth slopping open at some points. "Ho there-" he calls over the heads of the others, about to add something when Acwel does, but then he shrugs, goes back to eating, muttering about the likelihood of the bear meat wasting considering the hour of the night and the way the people are hiding in their homes.

"I'll not speak our business with strangers," answers the voice, still obviously suspicious. Still, there is some other sound inside as well, perhaps with whoever else comprises the family and any close servants or retainers reacting to the visit, and some questions within. After a while, and an echo of what is probably a female voice, though not fully heard, the first speaks again, "Who is the boy?"

Kamron nods slowly at the responses from the Baverstock and his cousin, "Well, perhaps the village can get something back from the ordeal. It may not be the equal of a cow, but it's something." The words from inside cause a frown, and Kamron speaks up, "A native of the village, by his own claim. We've just met him, with a man he claims as his uncle."

"Everything? I do not know anyone who thinks of a bear as food after just slaying one," Acwel states, then shrugs at Landon, "But I will have a piece of the bear meat stew if you cook it," he offers, by way of concession. Then, again to the voice, "We are knights of the realm, good sir. I introduced myself already, but I am Sir Acwel de Woodford, vassal knight to Earl Robert. But I will let the boy speak for us and our good will."

Kamron dismounts as he 'introduces' the youth, making sure that his visor is up and his face visible as he leads the child close to the door.

The boy is brought to the door, where Cyndeyrn stands, though he steps aside to make room for Kamron and even gestures the others slightly back, so it does not seem as if they have an army on the hall's doorstep.

There is more murmured conversation within, and again the female voice, now a little more audible. "Let me see him, you can both keep guard." The door will open then, revealing two men near the door, one of squire age with a sword and the other much older with a spear, and then another man behind them who bears a family likeness to the former. The woman is beside him, likely his wife, dressed as a lady.

And when the door is open and they've come out, the kid shouts, "THEY'RE BANDITS THEY KIDNAPPED ME! HELP!" and tugs and tries to bolt.

Acwel gets a hearty laugh, "What else do you think about when you slay an animal? If they aren't going back for it, I will—" he grunts, "If we had time." And clearly they weren't on a pleasure cruise here. He moves with Kamron to present the boy to the door - still chewing on that salty piece of beef or … whatever it was. Maybe it was deer.

The mounted Pagan narrows her eyes when the child calls out, and she spits out a curse under her breath. She knew she had a bad feeling about that child. She swings out of her saddle almost immediately, landing hard on her armored feet. She approaches, waving her hands as she pulls aside her own visor. "Nonsense," she says sharply. "I am Lady Sir Arian de Laverstock," she says to those who step out from the manor's door. "We were on our way here when we noticed a slaughtered cow and this child up a tree with a bear prowling at its roots." When the boy tries to bold, she advances quickly toward him.

Failed.
Acwel checked his orate of 2, he rolled 15.

Critical Fail!
Kamron checked his STR at 13, he rolled 20.
Cyndeyrn rolls 1d20 and gets (3) for a total of: (3)

… and the boy proves slippery. Maybe Kamron doesn't have as good of a grip as he thinks, or maybe he's used to being in trouble, but with a little yank one way as his shout draws surprise from the family within, he's able to twist the knight's hand the way it doesn't quite want to go, forcing him to let go less he face a sprain. And almost as fast, the kid is running off, notably not toward the house he claimed was his, but toward a space between the hall and the nearest hut leading to one of the fields.

"That… that is an absurd lie! This… this damnable child!" Acwel protests, apparently not very effective at mounting a counter to the boy's claims and thus, he doesn't sound too sincere, but at least it doesn't seem like he's outright lying.

Kamron leads the boy to the door, already turning back to the opening door. Aaand then the boy tries to rabbit, and Kam's hand slips off his shoulder, grasping once, twice, and then missing completely. The knight stumbles forward a step as his balance is thrown off, leaving him to struggle and catch his balance another two steps closer to the door. His right hand snaps up to his visor, making sure to hold it up to prove his goodwill by getting his hand well away from his weapon and keep his face visible, "Woah! What?" His surprise might actually be enough to suggest that he's not a bandit… wouldn't a bandit be expecting his prey to bolt?

Of course, the men at the door both tense at the cry, and raise their weapons. They do not lunge into attack, of course, and they are not fools to mistake the people they see before them - not common bandits certainly, but armored knights wearing well-kept arms. Yet they never get a glance at the boy, either, and the young one is quick to demand, "Explain yourselves!"

Success
Landon checked his Courtesy of 4, he rolled 2.

Landon would have reacted to the kid running out of the way if it wasn't for the sword and spear being held at the doorway. He spits out a piece of jerky so he can talk. His hands go up to plead his case, lifted away from weapons in a surrendering form, "Sir Landon de Baverstock as well good people. We've heard of trouble and as my good man Sir Cyndeyrn had tried to explain, we were sent in aid by request of the Earl. The child we saved and a bear we braved for it!" He looks to where the kid flees, "He may be a clue to the problems of this land and finding a solution for it."

Success
Cyndeyrn checked his courtesy of 8, he rolled 2.

Cyndeyrn is standing on the wrong side of Kamron when the kid makes his great escape, and he WOULD swear loudly, having had thoroughly enough of the boy after all this… but he remembers the lady in front of them in the nick of time! Instead, he gives a huff of breath, and explains, "The child is likely the bandit, we caught him with another man, slain as I said by a bear that had in turn eaten one of your cows. The whole thing can be worked out in the morning, the full details are baffling even to me but… if we can get a hand on the boy, I am sure your lady wife will recognize that he is no child of the village."

Success
Kamron checked his courtesy at 10, he rolled 3.

Kamron was introduced before, but now he does his own introduction, spreading his left arm out to his side so that his surcoat is visible, then half-turns to show his arms on his shield as well. His right hand stays up at his visor, showing his face the entire time. "As my cousin said, I am Sir Kamron ap Leodoc de Dinton. Our apologies for the late hour, Sir, Lady. We intended to arrive at a reasonable hour, but diverted due to suspicious signs, which led us to a slaughtered cow, a dead man, a bear, and that boy. And now we come to you, noble knights one and all," except the squires, but they're included, "on a mission from our mutual liege, Earl Robert. We are, unfortunately, forced to throw ourselves upon your mercy despite our lack of courtesy, for the night is cold and full of…" he pauses, and gestures over toward the disappeared youth, "…troublemakers."

Success
Arian checked her dex of 15, she rolled 8.
Cyndeyrn rolls 1d20 and gets (6) for a total of: (6)

"Hang on there, poppet," Arian says as she grabs hold of the fleeing boy, moving quite impressively for her armored weight. "It isn't polite to run away from noble company, particularly when we wish to understand what happened to your uncle and your cow." She draws the boy around, trying to maintain a sure grip even while her voice plays light and gentle. She draws the boy back around. "If you are not a bandit, you will speak kindly to the Lord and Lady, and we can sort it all out." She shakes her head as she draws herself, and the boy, back to the others.

"Let me go you harlot! Mongrel bitch!" Suddenly it's a VERY different kid, knowing now that the ruse is probably up, and kicking and screaming a bit more forcefully than earlier, as he makes -every- attempt to break free of Arian's grasp. Obviously the man, uncle or not, taught him some flavorful vocabulary! And then, by the time he's dragged back, lectured on the way… he has started to cry. "I didn' wanna do it! I swear!"

The collective good manners of the party do seem to calm the wary knight and his family, and given a moment, they have at least lowered their weapons. By the time Arian has dragged the child back, kicking, screaming, cursing, crying and otherwise, they have parted in their defensive posture to allow the man of the house and his wife forward. She, with poise despite the boy's protests and prior swearing, is calm in looking at him, so long as Arian manages to hold him still! "I… The boy is no son of a woman in the village, I know them all well. But there is a familiarity in his face." She looks toward her husband who seems very much to know her thoughts, and says to the group, "If you would lead me to the dead man in the morning, I am sure the truth can be learned. For now, you will enjoy our hospitality here, such as it is, and the boy, for the nonce, will enjoy a cold evening in the stocks."

Cyndeyrn looks oddly approving of that part!

Landon seems relieved not to have to rely on buttering any more words to convince the family, for Arian's delivery of the cursing lad seems to wrap the story neatly with what the good knights have imparted. Winningly, he asks, "Is there a place we could bed down for the night, good Lady? We have the means to accommodate anyone that is put out." Coin, or some other way of bargain - like the meat. The bear meat was worth something!

Arian's brows arch high at the sudden language, and she only tightens up her grip at his flailing. The boy's swinging emotions has her frowning quite deeply, and then she shakes her head. She will not release the boy's arm until someone else is there to see him to his fate. "If only we had started this from a place of honesty," she says to the boy before she looks at the others. She nods in agreement to Landon's words.

"Very quick on your feet, Lady Arian," Acwel compliments, offering the Laverstock pagan a nod of his head, as he listens to the apparent leader of the village. He angles his head respectfully to the man, "We do not mean to be bad guests, but if there are troubles afoot, we would like to pay for our respective stays, please."

Kamron bows his head, "There is also the corpse of a bear, if scavengers do not find them first. I'm told it might be sufficient to supplement the larders, if not being particularly delicious. And we do have our own supplies, so we will not impinge on your hospitality too badly." The last is said with a hint of a smile, although it's wiped off by the language directed at the Lady Knight, "You should learn to mind your language, boy." It's not 'lad' anymore, not after he fled, and the knight rubs at his right elbow where it was wrenched before he released the youth.

"Oh, the hall has plenty of room," the wife will answer Landon with a welcoming smile. Of course it means on the floor all around the large main room, but this is typical accomodations as visitors are concerned. "Your aiding my husband and our village will be thanks enough." To Kamron, she will even say, "Nonsense, we won't leave you hungry. But if my strong boys can bring back the bear in the morning, that will be a treat I'm sure."

It will be the squire who takes the lad from Arian, and drags him out to his fate. It seems he's old enough to fit securely in the wooden pillory, although the length of his legs makes it hard for him to stand there, and he will very likely be in considerable pain by morning, if the cold doesn't do worse.

Success
Landon checked his Merciful of 10, he rolled 7.

Landon looks toward where the boy is taken to stand in the pillory, sighing, "Someone best watch over the lad to make sure he's not abused." These things can happen if someone isn't watching over him. "I expect-" he eyes the other knights, "One of you come to relieve me." He offers a smile at the lady and a nod, then turns back to his horse where he'll find some more meat to chew on while he makes sure the kid doesn't get hurt or slip away again.

Failed.
Kamron checked his just at 16, he rolled 17.
Failed.
Kamron checked his arbitrary at 4, he rolled 5.
Success
Kamron checked his vengeful at 10, he rolled 9.

Kamron shrugs at Landon's words, "It may be no more than his due." Glancing around the group, he nods after a moment, "I'll come out after I've had something to eat, Sir Landon, and then you can fill your stomach." The mouthy brat will not be comfortable when Kam is on guard, however. 'Harlot' indeed.

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