kingswood.pngCharacter: Tevyrn Storm
House: Vitarrion
Kingdom: Stormlands

A Lovely Walk in the Woods

The high sun cast its light through the foliage above, dappling the forest ground before me in a soft glow. The path I’d followed had started fairly obviously, a large bush had been pushed aside, several footprints left in the soft loam. Either someone didn't care if they were followed, or more likely it was yet another false lead left behind by some smallfolk who called these woods home. Seeing the footprints split in two directions confirmed that I’d wasted another few moments. A flash of red sped across my vision as a robin darted by as I turned back towards the road, its chirping song mocking my failure. If Aena were here that little bird wouldn't seem so smug. If only the treetops weren't denser than the skulls of some of those ‘nobles’ back in the city.

Muscles sore from crouching along following tracks, I stretched upon reaching the main road. Across and quite a bit further along a head popped up out of a blueberry bush. Bald, but with a magnificently long dark beard, which one hand stocked incessantly as he glanced into the woods. Within a moment Larroy, the more experienced tracker in our party, turned back onto the road himself. Seeing me eye his work, he gave a little wink before walking away, keen eyes looking for any disturbances on the roadside. Sharp mind discounting single travelers or those separated by too much time without second thought.

I shook my head, feeling the cool breeze once again on my skin. It sometimes seemed a foolish dream, to have the skills equal his in forestry. The fact of the matter was the man talked little, and preferred gestures or facial expressions. Not exactly conducive to easy learning. Focusing back on my side of the road, I did my best to imitate him anyway. Broken branch, no print at the road’s edge. Two steps in, the curved hoof of an animal, not a path to follow further. Back on the road, a footprint in the cracked dirt a couple yards down. No rain since they’d left the city, too old. Again and again, every sign equally as important to investigate as they were disappointing. All Marcus had told us was that Ned had asked us to investigate a rumor of Dornish nobles that'd gone down to road. And gods forbid we disappoint Ned…

As a small group of tracks ended at a berry field I sank down and looked back up at the sky. It was now late afternoon, and the intense sunlight seemed to light fire to the foliage above. I picked a handful of ripened berries, whomever had came through here earlier hadn't find all the ripe ones. It burst in my mouth with a rush of sweet juice, and just a hint of the bitterness that the wild ones always carried. As I jogged back towards the kingsroad, I thought not for the first time that if the trees were only a little less packed, Aena would’ve made this hunt go by ten times as fast.

Approaching the road I saw a figure bouncing along back to me, Larroy waved enthusiastically upon my noticing of him, and gestured to follow. That could only mean one thing, someone had caught up to the Dornish we were after. Breathing deeply I tried to steel myself for the jog ahead. Larroy was probably the only one who knew how much slower than the main group I’d been going, and giving his bubbling nature, it was a decent bit. Tossing aside the last of the berries, I broke out into a brisk pace, keeping up with him for the time being. The old man did little to satiate my curiosity as the forest passed us by. How many were there? Both hands with several fingers raised. Was there any trouble when we found them? A shrug of his shoulders and twitching of the side of his mouth. Sigh. Of all the people looking for them and I was stuck with the least helpful one. At least as far as conversation went.

A group of peasants and their cart full of grain passed us going the other direction, their light chatter stopping to gawk at the two men moving opposite them with haste. The wet smell of a pond was heralded by several frogs, several of which stopped as we came too close to their home. Eventually the road was straight enough to see the group ahead, not a moment too soon as the air in my lungs was beginning to burn. There were a lot of people ahead. Far too many. I groaned as Larroy increased his pace, couldn’t we get there with Some wind left in our chests?