Red Dragon Inn
Dreamweaver's Lair => From the Dragon's Mouth => Tales of the Cat => Topic started by: Panther on January 27, 2008, 10:12:15 PM
He had made it back to his room, and quickly changed. The pair of leggings stayed, but the shirt was stripped off. His leather bracers were laced up on his fore-arms and each slit filled with a needle-like throwing spike, a dozen on each arm. Some heavier ones were in the pouch on the belt drawn about his waist, with a longer knife in the sheath at the small of his back. Also from the belt hung a pair of sheaths that were strapped to the outside of each thigh. Each sheath held a pair of 'billy clubs', roughly a foot and a half in length each. They could be used on their own, or clicked together to make a staff as flexible as (and light as) rattan but harder than steel. A nice gift some years ago from a dwarven friend.
Next was a light mail vest. The rings were light enough and loose enough they would do nothing against a piercing blow, but it definitely helped prevent errant slashes from reaching his skin. It covered his mid-section and back, slit up the sides just enough to allow decent movement and for him to easily draw his knife. Against his fur, the rings were nearly silent as he moved about the room, rolling his shoulders, twisting his torso. It had been some time since he had worn the mail, and if things did come to blows at all, he would have to adjust his movements a bit. A dark colored, loose fitting shirt was pulled on, the sleeves cut off just below the shoulders. He was as ready as he was going to get.
As he moved out the door of his room and towards the stairs, he hoped none of the weapons he carried would be needed. From what he learned about Gracus and his clan, he hoped the show of power would be enough to get his attention and that the promise of gold would keep it. But he was more than prepared if his hopes turned out to be fruitless.
He left the Dragon. Eless, Kairee, Jewell. They all knew what was going on. Where he was headed. Jewell offered to help, but he declined. This first part had to be done alone. A show of power and respect towards this Gracus may tip the scales in his favor... or maybe he would think him nuts. Either way he was betting on being able to get in to the camp and talk to him.
The road in front of the Dragon was near deserted as he moved back out front and to the spot where he had found her boot and necklace. There he dropped to a crouch and sorted through the scents still lingering there. One other than hers was found that was also on the boot, and a second that was similar enough that he believed it was a pair that had taken her.
After a brief encounter with Alysia, he was off. The trail was already well trodden, he would not be able to track them that way. And even by scent would not work. It had been a bit too long, the winds were not helping either. But he knew the general area they were in, so it was South he headed. He moved quickly through the city, across the river and further on towards the Preserve.
Alysia's last words to him echoed in his mind "Do not leave an enemy alive behind you, Panther, or they might take her again." He knew that was a more thank likely outcome to this, but he had to try the direct approach first. He needed to find out where she was, and how she was. To just storm in there, alone or with help, would put her at too much risk. Maybe he would find the camp, and find a way to get her out without anyone being the wiser, but that was doubtful.
The wind was from the south, which meant he would make his searching easier. He would be working his way in to the as soon as he left the city. He knew from Aziz roughly where their camp was, that there at least half a dozen men of this clan had been seen around the city, and that they had horses. And from some of the purchases made, they likely had a wagon as well. Once he found the camp, his plan was fairly... simple. Watch and see all he could until morning, and at first light approach them openly. And once he was before Gracus he would make an offer to buy S'jira. He had brought gold, not enough for what he was bound to ask, but enough to show he was serious.
Of course there was any of a hundred different things that could happen to turn this all sour, but he did not linger on them. Doing so would only cause him to hesitate later. No, it was best to follow through on this simple plan. If something changed that plan, it would be dealt with. He had to trust his instincts.
He had started by taking the main road out of the city heading south, moving along the edge of the reserve. Every walking path, horse trail or anything that resembled a road that branched off the main road was checked. A few times he had slipped in to the undergrowth to wait as various travelers wandered by, but they were few and far between this time of night.
A few times he thought he would pick up her scent, or that of her kidnappers, and that kept him pressing forward. It was still a few hours before dawn when he found what he thought was it. A fork off the road, nothing much more than a pair of ruts breaking through the brush to indicate one of the many encampments some of the wandering gypsy like folk would use. Some were more hidden than others, this one was not well hidden, but neither was it often used it seemed, and that made the fresh scents stand out all the more.
He moved along side the path, eyes and ears searching for any sign of ... anything. He was deep in to the woods, well hidden from the main road when the scent of burning wood caught his attention. He turned further off the trail, skirting about the upwind direction of where he now felt the camp would be. Slowly, but steadily he crept onward. Each placement of his foot was with the instinct of a hunter stalking his prey. It was another half hour before he was close enough to start picking up individual scents. Half-dozen or more. The remains of the previous nights dinner. Horses.
Sounds were drifting to him as well. Light snoring. Stamping of hooves. Labored breathing. S'jira!? No! He had to focus. Foot steps. At least one man was up and about. A guard, watching over things. A fair ways off yet, but he could make out the silhouettes of a group of tents in the breaks between trees. Twisting his head about, he took in as much as he could about the spot he was currently in. He reached in to the pouch at his hip and pulled out a smaller pouch, it weighed a few pounds and was full of gold coin. Tightly bound to keep the coins from making noise as he moved. Curling the pointer finger on the hand that held the coin pouch he extended a claw from the tip and pressed into the base of his thumb on the other hand. As a small trickle of blood darkened the fur he pressed the thumb against the sack. The sack was then placed into a small crevice at the base of the tree he was crouched behind. Even if he could not find this location by sight later, his own scent would easily lead him back.
Closer, even closer he dared to move. The horses were tied off to one side. And there was a wagon. Empty, off to the side of the encampment. Embers from a low fire was caushing odd shadows to be thrown about the trees. By now he could tell there was one man at the fire, and another paced about between and around the tents. His ears were turned in his direction, his eyes watched as he sliped closer to the wagon. The horses were far enough away and he was upwind that even they did not sense his approach, but he had to move faster. The morning birds were starting to stir, in less than an hour the sun would be breaking the horizon.
An idea had come to him as he moved in on the camp, one that would hopefully not be needed but may help him find this group should they move later. As he crouched there near one of the wagon wheels his hand dipped to that pouch at his hip again, drawing forth the moonstar pendant on it's light chain. The color was too bright, it was too shiny. The ground beneath his feet was bare, but dry. As his eyes continued to glide from horses towards the tents, keeping watch, his free hand skimmed the ground, gathering a bit of loose soil. Half a handful was scraped together and he lifted his hand to shove it in his mouth. Using his own saliva he worked the soil around his mouth until it was mud before spitting it back in to his hand. The pendant and chain were ground into the mud, caking them, covering them. Then, reaching between the spokes of the wagon wheel he wound the chain about the axle a few times before securing the clasp again. The pendant would hang there, undiscovered from any casual inspection he hoped. If things did not go as he hoped they would, or for some other reason this group decided to move their camp he hoped the connection Eless had to this pendant would lead him back to them again.
Slowly, silently, he slipped back deeper in to the wood, away from the chance of being spotted before sunrise. The camp was just barely out of sight, but he still knew where it was by scent and sound. He made his way around towards where the pathway leading to this clearing would be. When he found it, he kept from stepping out on to it just yet. Now he would wait for the sun, then he would return to the camp in full view, walking up the middle of the path for them all to see. He crouched there, leaning against a tree, and fought off the urge to shut his eyes. It has been more than a day since he last slept, and he was tired. But sleep could wait a bit longer. It would have to.
((this takes place about the same time as this posting (http://rdi.dragonsmark.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=68867#68867) in Of Swords and Silks))