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A Woodland Encounter

 
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 12:03 am    Post subject: A Woodland Encounter Reply with quote

Daybreak was approaching, the birds were becoming more active around the woods, and he could no longer see stars above him in the breaks between the trees. Rising from his lean against a tree he stepped to the pathway and started towards the camp of Gracus. Even this time of year the trees provided enough overhead cover that it was still quite dark along the path, and that was fine. He moved to within a stones throw of the encampment, within easy sight once anyone decided to move around to this side of the large tent in the center of the grouping. He could just make out one of the men around the side of it still sitting by the low fire.

The noise of the birds was making it a bit harder to pick up individual sounds as they drifted from the camp, and he was slightly upwind now. He could still hear some heavy breathing coming from the area of the main tent, and the sound of some labored breathing came to him as well, causing him to scowl every so slightly. He closed his eyes a moment, taking a deep breath... then opened his eyes.

There he stood, in the middle of the trail, his arms folded across his chest and his gaze falling on the center of the encampment, and waited.
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Gracus u`Lor
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The sounds of fresh wood to embers, crackling and coming to life slowly dragged Gracus from his slumber. He could hear Ghetra moving around the tent. The quiet sounds of liquid being poured and others noises of the girl making the start of the morning meal.

A breath shoved slowly from his lungs as he pushed up from the bedding of pelts and wools. He moved to crouch before the firepit where Ghetra knelt to the other side of it. As he warmed himself, he slid his gaze towards his guest.

Where he had fettered her, he frowned to watch her.

"The night was cold, Master Gracus. Please forgive. It was the roughest, oldest of the blankets.. a sick slave is of no worth.."

"Do not worry, ghetra. I am not angry. But you are to ask before doing such things. You know this." Without looking at her, he stood and pushed his feet into his boots, then took on the task of taking leopard fur and binding them about the openings of his boots to keep the cold and snow out of them.

"Yes, Master Gracus." Flaxen hair touched her bended knees as her head lowered respectfully towards him. The food was put aside swiftly as she saw that he was dressing. A sleeveless tunic of softened leather was brought to him.

The garment was pulled over his head, then took the thick belt with his sheathed short sword and tossed it aside. He wouldn't need it here. Instead, he stuffed the dagger into his boot and hauled the winter cloak about his shoulders.

"I go to check on the men. See that she eats. And put something of yours on her." He did not say that his girl was correct about a sick slave being of no use, but he relented that small degree.

Eyes passed over the two of them with attention before moving towards the door of the tent. He shoved the leather and wood flap aside and stepped out, letting the hide fall over the opening once more.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 1:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Voices.

Not hushed, but quiet, from within the largest of the tents. He could hear them, one male, one female. Not clear enough to know what was said, but well enough to know the female one was not her. Not S'jira.

But he knew she was in there as well.

The voices conversed for a minute, two at the most as he stood there, motionless at the edge of the camp, yet in full view, until he saw the flap of the tent thrust open.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He glanced to the fire, to find Hurs there. But the weight of a watch made him turn. He bent to slip the knife out of his boot and right himself.

"A visitor to our camp." The words seethed through his teeth with obvious upset that his men had not seen the intruder before he did. Thick fingers curled about the grip of the dagger, but it was a loose grip of one who didn't think he might use it.

The cold wind whipped at his cloak and seeped in to find his flesh at the chest where his tunic was. His hand turned the dagger within his hand until his arm hung at his right side and the grip faced forwards.

He could hear Hurs stand somewhere near the firepit. Behind him, the two that were on watch came walking up from between two of the smaller tents.

"What do you want?" The demand passed Gracus' lips as Ghetra pushed the flap of the tent open to see what was going on. Just a sliver of a view, there was S'jira within that view behind her a few paces within the tent.

S'jira's eyes went a little large and a sound could be heard from her, something of mournful surprise before Ghetra dropped the hide and wood door closed.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 1:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

His gaze darted past the man for the briefest of moments, catching sight of her inside in the tent, but he did not react. Instead he looked back to Gracus.

'I've come for what is mine.' His voice was steady, no emotion, right now it was all business.

Gracus nearly laughed at this. 'Yours!? What claim do you have?'

'I found her wandering the city after the death of her previous master and claimed her.' It was closer to the truth than a lie, and he was sure an outright lie such as claiming he bought her would only complicate things.

Gracus turned his head and spat in the fire. 'She was my brothers. Now she is mine.'

The fur along his shoulders bristled, and a slight snarl escaped his lips. 'Your brother is dead, and if I had wished, you would be as well. Along with the rest of your camp. You still have a chance to get out of this, maybe even profit. But you will give her to me.'

He watched as Gracus shifted the knife about in his hand. 'Profit you say?'

This was the opening he was looking for. The bluster was expected and had to be returned. And by appearing at his camp before Gracus even awoke he proved he could likely back those words.

His fingers brushed across his forearm and with a flick of a wrist one of the spikes was slid from his bracer and stuck to a tree off to the right. A tree the one called Hurs was trying to use as cover, thinking the cat would be to preoccupied to notice his movement. His eyes never left their lock with Gracus.

'Two pounds. Gold.'
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The near-miss of the hidden spikes finding their mark near one of his men brought a sobering frown. His fingers tightened about the grip of the knife.

"Stupid. Do you think I would come this far for two pounds." Gracus' gaze narrowed on him. The insult spewed fromhis lips, tainted with unkind mirth. "It was in the gods' drunkest moments that they decided to create you."

Gracus' mouth twisted with disgust that he did not bother to hide. "Four pounds." Fingers loosened about the blade while he waited for Panther's reply.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 10:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He was not a bad when it came to haggling, but in this case he knew too little about the one he was haggling with. How much greed could he play off of before he made himself look desperate.

His gaze swept about the area, falling briefly on each man, checking their movements.

"Three pounds, and she walks away with me. Untouched. Three more if you break camp and reach the Vulgar Unicorn south of here before nightfall."
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Greed spurred his thoughts.

Whether it was for acquisition of flesh, coin, or else. His dark smile grew slowly. He was none too quick to agree, but it would seem swift all the same.

"Ghetra! Bring the girl!"

Gracus bellowed it out, but didn't bother to turn back towards his tent. There had been talk of coin enough to feed his tents through the winter. Greed would have preferred a fourth pounds though.

The flap of the tent was pushed aside and Ghetra stepped out first. It was necessary as she supported S'jira at her elbow and under that opposite arm to steady her and keep her footing. Ghetra guided S'jira over to where Gracus stood.

His hand closed about S'jira's upper arm, turning his head slightly towards her to speak. But his eyes never left Panther. "Someone comes to barter for you. "
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

His eyes narrowed at the site of S'jira needing to be helped out of the tent.

"Send them to the road..." he motioned towards the two women. "and I will fetch your gold."

He could see Gracus was about to speak in protest, and was quick to cut him off.

"One does not walk in to the wolf's den with a steak hanging from his neck." He made sure to emphasise the next word... "Your gold is near. Have your men follow them if you wish, the girl will have the gold in hand before reaching the main road. Do this little thing, and we will both walk away from here with more than we came."
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"Even the maggot can serve a purpose in the right circumstance... "
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Outright mistrust wrought over the man's face. He seethed and drooled, if they could possibly be done all at once.

His hand curled a little tighter about the small one's arm. "Ghetra, take the the girl as the Animal bids." His frustration drew into a dark smile. It was a good barter, to him.

A shove to S'jira sent her stumbling towards Ghetra with a noticable wince, but she caught her unsteady footing to keep from falling. S'jira's dark eyes sought out Panther, filled steeply with worry over it all.

When Gracus was satisfied that Ghetra was taking S'jira in the direction of the main road, he eyed Panther.

"My gold, Beast."
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He waited a few moments, watching as the two woman moved past him. He could feel S'jira look to him, but did not, could not turn his head at the moment. His gaze remained locked on Gracus until they were on their way down the path to the road before he turned and slipped in to the brush, heading north and west from the encampment.

He was out of direct view when he turned to his right towards where he had left the gold. It was just a few hours ago, but already it seemed like days. He crossed his own trail from earlier, from when he approached the camp from up-wind. The breeze had shifted slightly with the rising sun, but he could still smell the fire burning, and faint voice of Gracus barking out orders still reached him.

Half a dozen times or more he had paused in his trek to see if he was being followed. It didn't matter if they were watching him, but he was not about to be caught unaware at this point.

In short order the gold was found and he turned south again. He angled further eastward now, finally turning back to approach the camp from the opposite side from which he left. Edging around a large pine he was actually surprised to find all the men still in the camp. He had expected Gracus to send a pair to follow the women.

Moving further in to the wood and out of sight he broke in to an easy run, skirting the down-wind side of the camp and towards the main road. He was there and waiting for just a few minutes when the women came into view coming down the path. He walked up to meet them, holding out the bound sack of gold.

'Give this to him, and remind him the rest will be waiting at the Unicorn. Someone will find him.'

The girl, whose gaze remained cast down nodded as he handed her the gold and reached out for S'jira, supporting her.

'And tell him this time it was business. Next time it will be personal.'

The girl said nothing as she turned and hurried back down the path. He stood there, S'jira leaning into him as his arm about her waist supported her until she rounded the first bend in the trail before looking down to meet S'jira gaze. She started to speak... but he cut her off.

'Shh. We can talk later. For now let's just get you home.'

The arm about her waist slid up under her arms, the other hooked behind her knees as he lifted her into his arms. As he turned back towards the road S'jira wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her head into his shoulder. Her breath was arm against his neck, but it was raspy to his ears. She was hurt... so he moved as quickly as he dare as to keep from jostling her too much. With a brief glance to the sky he figured it would be close to mid-day by the time they reached the Dragon once again.
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