[size=16]In that trek she saw riders both coming and going. Some sporting the colors of Gharnholme, the black and green distinctive against the winter gray backdrop of road and barren trees, others wearing the badges of the Albaelia family and even a few carried an insignia she didn?t recognize. All gave her a sharp look as they passed. The cloaked form indistinguishable but as she had no weapons in sight, they didn?t pause just continued on to wherever they were going. It didn?t bode well for her coming duty however. Guarding against bounty hunters in such a wide area of land had to be neigh impossible, even for those like the DeAuster family. She was starting to understand why she was being sent.
Head lifting to gaze out from under the shading hood of her black clock, she saw the signpost ahead, Briarstone and was rather pleased. She had gotten farther then she had first thought.
Down the lane she then drifted, noticing the surprisingly well-appointed town that lay up ahead. It was rather picturesque in a way she hadn?t expected. Perhaps assuming the small villages around Gharnholme would be typically rustic and dull or primitive and basic. Behind it was the scenic lay the Dawnbreak mountains she was to travel to in the morning and a brow arched slightly. This place might just be surprisingly interesting after all.
Entering the ?The Tipsy Bishop? she easily acquired a room for the night and was soon settling down in the common room of the Inn and looking over the menu. Settling on some roasted mutton, spiced potatoes and a slice of strawberry pie she sat back, and just listened to the talk floating around the place.
Considering what she had read, Briarstone had been annexed by DeAuster with a heavy use of force, and yet listening to several of the locals partaking of the Inn?s bar, none seemed to be holding a grudge, in fact they seemed rather proud of their new Lord.
?Aye, ?is lordship?s done taken another village. Tha? bastard Torvien be throwing all he ?as at him and he?s nae stopped.?
?He won?t Jase, not in his nature to stop. Want another?? The lady of the inn said with a smile.
??O course Jeena.? Passing over his mug with a laugh.
?There be talk of another celebration. The young lad?s name day be coming.?
?Aye, and that means another one of those Rituals. My son is considering attending. He?s now of age and is already talking of joining up.? The woman then stated with a shake of her head.
?Ye nae be minding tha? Jeena?? The one called Jase asked with a surprised look on his weathered and aged face.
?Not really Jase. Aye, I know I will worry, as that be a mother?s job but the lad is restless. At least if he joins his Lordship, he stands a good chance of learning to fight the right way and mayhaps make a name for himself later.?
Hardly the words of a town of people set on revenge and Sorcha just gave a faint smile and was soon digging into the delicious meal. Lingering over the sweet desert, she wondered where they had gotten fresh strawberries this time of year but didn?t ponder on it long, as several armored men meandered into the common room.
The sun was starting to set, something she had noticed with a glance out of the window and now it seemed the guards were about to relax. In light of that, she ordered another cup of hot coffee and remain seated, only to listen and perhaps learn more if possible.
Unlike the townspeople, DeAuster?s men didn?t talk about the various battles, only casual things, but also caught a few shooting looks her way. Her deeper senses also picked up on a thread of suspicion. She knew instantly she would learn nothing without digging deeper and doubted that would be taken well if detected. Instead she placed some coins down on the table and rose, and with a nod to Jeena she was strolling off at a casual pace towards her own room above.
Even after the early night she had, she slept deeply. Likely due to her travel from the day before and was up unusually early. The sun hadn?t even rose when she made her way back down, surprised to see the place already showing signs of activity. Having to jog her own mind, realizing it was likely due to the military men they hosted as many of them were around.
She placed her order of eggs, toast and fruit and was soon drinking deeply of the mug of coffee provided when one finally approached.
?Good morning miss. Please forgive the interruption but I am the Captain Aether of the guard here in Briarstone, and am curious about what brings ye to our fair land??
?I am heading further west to visit with family Sir.? Head lifting now with a sharp sweep of stormy sea blue eyes over him.
?Ah, so I assume you will be departing already?? He was as least more polite then that other officer she had dealt with in Cisroe and thus she forced a tight smile.
?Actually sir, the family I am to visit is nearby so nae. I am hoping to arrive there sometime today.?
?Ah, I am sure you will find our land pleasant. What pray tell is the name of this family? I might know them and can direct you towards them.?
Nothing changed on her face but she gave a faint nod, aware that it actually was this one?s job to pay attention to the random travelers, considering the heightened state of war. ?DeAuster sir.?
That startled him and he peered at her curiously for a moment. ?Ye be family to them Milady??
The ?Miss? was gone as he seemed to believe it, even without a single shred of proof, but Sorcha was completely unaware her demeanor was a near match to the Lady of Gharnholme. ?Aye, I am.?
?Ah, ye be Zymirian, that would explain it. A relation to Lady Fiona aye?? Giving a slow nod he then bowed. ?I again beg ye forgiveness for interrupting ye Milady. Have a safe journey.? And just that smoothly he backed away and was walking out with a clattering of boots as others of his crew followed.[/size]