The reception Halia receives is not a welcoming one.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Quidd immediately sneers.
“Whos’s she?” Richard queries.
“Ex- cuse me?” Says Halia?
“Oh, Gods. Here we go.” Groans Marten.
Quidd tries to get her to go away, demanding to know how she found them and why she’d come here- Richard is quite sure he doesn’t know who she is. She isn’t sure which is more insulting.
Halia is, of course, here because Marten, having overheard the conversation she had with her Aunt after the wedding, told her to come find them in Berem if she was ever in need of help.
She’s rather well aware of the party’s reputation, thanks to Aelita’s song “Wormsbane” being sung around Cherry Crossing.
After that reception, however, she feels rather sure that this was a mistake- she thanks Marten and says she’ll get by one her own. Could he please recommend her to a capable Armorer?
At this, Quidd and Richard change their tune- they want to know what happened, and why she would think somebody wanted to kill her- this might have something to do with the pleading, frustrated, disgusted look Marten gave them. It take some doing to get her to confide her story in them.
It has been a couple weeks since Halia decided to leave home, and travel the world. She’s out on something of a quest of self-discovery, unsure whether she wants to try her hand at adventuring, or some scholarly pursuit. Not long out of Fallcrest, she caught sight of two figures on the road behind her- they were some distance behind, but seemed to slow their pace to keep behind her no matter how slowly she traveled. THen, they disappeared behind a hill and she put it out of her mind.
A few days later, she saw them again, rather closer. This time, they seemed to notice her watching, and ducking into the woods, out of sight. She has quickened her pace since then, but though she tried to take steps in Cherry Crossing to slow them, they have still pursued. A few nights ago, she awoke to a man’s scream in the night- she laid awake all night, clutching her knife, and come morning, she found a corpse near her camp. She recognised the man, whom she had spoken with on the road the previous day.
She has hurried the rest of the way to Berem like the devil was on her back- after taking time to make it look like she headed into the woods from her camp.
Marten leads her to Mona’s, while the rest of the party gathers and meets them there. Mona, needless to say, is delighted to deal in weapons, though Halia has no idea what she’s looking for in a weapon. As everybody comes together, Halia recounts her woes to them again. She has no idea who might be after her, or why. The party concocts a plan to trap these people- Halia will stay at Mona’s house, and they will get a couple rooms at the Inn, and stake out the road while someone wears Halia’s distinctive blue-grey cloak.
As the plan is being concocted, Quidd take his leave, and wanders up to the Monastery to speak with Father Greyson. He is allowed in without contest- entering Greyson’s room, of course, he is rewarded with a bucket of water on his head and a quiet chuckle from down the hall. Greyson catches his before he storms out.
Greyson gets him to sit down and talk- Quidd confesses that he just really needs to talk to someone, anyone, but only if they won’t tell his parents.
Father Greyson, while neither confirming nor denying any intention to talk to Quidd’s parents, ventures that he might find such a confidante among his friends. He says that Quidd’s parents have expressed that they’re worried, but haven’t really told him anything. Quidd decides that this talk can wait for another time- Greyson encourages him to read the book he lent him, and assures Quidd that he’s be here if Quidd decides that he wants to talk.
Quidd returns to Mona’s, and is brought up to speed on the party’s plan- he arrives at the Inn just as they are dashing out of it.
There’s no way this should have been so simple.
But, against all odds, the next evening a pair of figures come up the road to Berem, spaced widely apart from the other travelers and merchants who had passed in and out. They are quite close to the Wishing bridge when one stops and points at the window in which Marten sits, wrapped in Halia’s cloak. They turn on their heels, and walk back out of town. The party immediately gives chase, with Sasha in the lead, because Fuck Subtle.
She runs down the rear fellow and tackles him to the ground, (A lot of that going around lately) then shouts to his partner that if he doesn’t stop running, his friend is dead. The second man comes back, as the rest of the party catches up.
Quidd immediately draws his rapier and puts it right at the throat of the man who’s standing.Quidd begins to prod, and the man tells him to put the sword away before someone gets hurt- when he refuses, the man takes the sword from his hand and swats him over the head before tossing the sword out into the brush.
There is a brief, confused exchange- the party demands to know who these two men are and why they’re after a young woman. They insist that they don’t know what the party is talking about, and who they are is none of the party’s business. Marten is enraged and insistent to know why they ran from the blue cloak. The men, likewise, demand to know where Halia is, and, realising that the party have her cloak, inform them that if she has been harmed, all hell is going to come down on them. They claim to work for her aunt, and to have been sent to shadow her on the road to make sure she’s safe. They say, ask her if she knows a Harry and Jack, who are house guards for her Aunt Heather. They’ll wait. Aelita volunteers to go ask her.
She is approaching Berem when she hear a familiar, horrific wail- the hunting cry of a Beastwraith, coming from just off the left of the road in the direction of Farmer Green’s house. She makes straight for it, turning aside from the road. Minutes away, the party hear the same shriek- Harry and Jack look up and Harry says “Beastwraiths” before the two of them run off toward the source.
Aelita witnesses as none other than Ginger the once-horse gallops into the sky from the Green farm. Farmer Green lies dead on the ground. She gives chase, bustling through the fields as fast a she can whilst the Wraith speeds along almost twenty feet off the ground, back toward the basin.
The party intercepts Ginger scarcely a minute later, a Sasha leaps from the ground to bring her axe to bear against the Beastwraith- it strikes true, the voices within the tiny crystal skull howling. Ginger engages immediately, and as the rest of the party catches up, battle is joined. Harry and Jack bring their skills to bear on the party’s side, throwing a bit of impressive magic around. Aelita arrives shortly thereafter, and her appearance drives Ginger to flee, galloping straight up into the night. This draws a yowl of surprise from Quidd, who has not yet seen the wraiths fly- Harry hurls a last bolt of flaming stone at the retreating wraith. It seems clear that if this pair had meant the party harm, they could very well have put up a hell of a fight back on the road. With that in mind, they agree to escort them to town. They gather up the body of Farmer Green and carry it back to town, stopping in at the Barracks to look for Sheriff Wolfe. The body is left with Lieutenant Tanner, who will arrange to have it taken to the temple.
The party all come to arrive at Mona’s- it seems these men were telling the truth- and Halia is none too pleased about it. She excuses herself from the party to have a talk with her friends. They can hear the heat in her words from across the square, if they can’t quite make out the words themselves. The party is unsure what exactly to do with the situation- Halia is safe, but Berem’s farmers don’t seem to be, with the Beastwraiths daring closer and closer to town. Something will have to be done about that.
Halia rejoins the party, and, hesitantly, announces her intention to stay for a little while yet. Mona has agreed to teach her a bit about fighting, and help her figure out what she’d like to learn. Halia will need to find a place to stay. To everyone’s surprise- especially Halia’s- Quidd offers to let her stay at his parents’ house. Her guards? Oh, they can stay, too, he’s sure his parents won’t mind. This very shortly erupts into bickering between him and Halia, and half-serious threats of punching. In the end, she chases Quidd, fist raised, all the way to his front door before leaving. She, Harry, and Jack will take rooms at the inn, for the moment at least. She says she’ll take Quidd’s offer under advisement, but, obviously, is suspicious of his motivation- especially given his disgusted reaction to her appearance in the first place.
For the moment, things seem quiet, if not necessarily safe, so the party bid Halia farewell and return to their own homes for the night- they’ll deal with the rest in the morning.