Chapter Eight: A Shifting Balance
A shock of lightning streaked across the dark and cloudy sky, crackling into a heavy roll of thunder. Whisper knocked lightly on the door of the Keep and waited. A smattering of cold rain pattered against the sides of the Keep.
He knocked a second time, loudly and with a closed fist. After a moment, there was shuffling behind the door and the scraping of wood against metal as the entrance was unbarred. One side of the large door creaked open, and a grizzled man with droopy eyes and a bandaged face peered out into the darkness, a candle in hand. It was the governor of Greenest. “W-what is it?” he grumbled, eyeing Whisper with tired eyes.
“Found news on cult,” Whisper said in common, ears flicking as rain dribbled from the roof onto his head.
“You’re back?” The governor said in surprise.
“Okay, come in,” he opened the door. “Where is everyone else?”
“Much—to talk about,” Whisper said quietly. “Close door.”
“Very well.” Governor Tarbaw ushered the tabaxi inside and set the candle down on a table, barring the door behind him. The man looked to have not slept or changed his clothes in days, and he moved with slow, deliberate movements that seemed to pain him.
The floor of the Keep was littered with refuse: broken spears, abandoned crates empty of food and tattered blankets and straw mattresses, all abandoned by the townspeople who had hunkered down in the Keep during the attack. “What happen here?” Whisper asked.
“Ah, the townspeople have mostly returned to their homes now. This is what’s been left behind. There are some whose homes were destroyed, and they’re staying above, but for the most part, Greenest is trying its best to return to what’s normal.” Tarbaw rubbed his eyes with thumb and forefinger, sighing. “It will take some time to reclaim livelihoods. Much was stolen from us in the attack.” Whisper nodded, and the governor gestured to the stairs. “Please, come to my office. We can talk there.”
They ascended the stairs quietly and pushed into the office. Tarbaw shuffled slowly to his desk and gingerly sat, folding his long fingers before him. Whisper took the empty chair opposite him, perching on the edge of it anxiously.
“Tell me, where did your friends go?” the governor asked finally. “What did you find?”
“I find cult,” Whisper said. “I know what doing and where going.”
Whisper nodded and took out a small wooden object painted with the emblem of Tiamat: five coloured dragon’s claws in an eternal circle. He had stolen the object from one of their clerics.
“Cult of Dragon.” Tarbaw took the emblem and inspected it, then handed it back a moment later.
“Dragons, you say? We did not fair well last time,” he paused, rubbing his temples. “Will they attack again?”
“No, not here.”
“How do you know this?”
“I need protection.” Whisper said quickly, dragging the conversation in a new direction.
“From the cult? I’m not sure what we can—”
“Companions. Try and kill me.” He pointed to the scar where fur had now closed up the wound.
“Your companions did this to you?” Tarbaw straightened. “Why?”
Whisper threw up his paws and cast a small illusion over the man’s desk. A tiny re-creation of the army camp came into view, with the orange tiefling carrying Leosin and running. The tiefling turned and threw a dart into Whisper’s eye. The scene faded in blood, and another scene grew up from the pool showing Reverence hitting Leosin in the forehead with an open palm and knocking him unconscious. The image faded, and Tarbaw scratched his chin thoughtfully.
“These images you show are troubling.” He sighed heavily. “I had a trust for this tiefling. I met him even before the battle… Do you know where they are now?”
“No. Take other prisoner and run. Try kill me. Need protection.”
“Of course, you are a friend of Greenest. Perhaps it would be best for you to stay the night here, and in the morning, we can discuss your situation further.” Exhaustion seeped into the man’s expression, and he stood with a wide yawn. “I do apologize, but the hour is late.”
“Okay. Need find other prisoner. Leosin.”
“I don’t know this Leosin,” the governor said, “but if he is a prisoner of the cult, then—”
“He spy. Knows much,” Whisper interrupted. “He help.”
Tarbaw nodded firmly. “Very well. We can ask around for him in the morning. Is there anything else I can help you with? You’re welcome to stay in the armoury.”
“Need charcoal. Incense. Herbs.”
The human gave him a curious look. “Well, you can find charcoal just about anywhere. As for the rest, you may look about the town tomorrow and see what the shopkeepers have, but as I said, much was stolen from Greenest. And, if you’re truly worried about your companions, you may not want to leave here until we have this conflict sorted out.”
Whisper nodded, and Tarbaw walked around to open the door for him. The tabaxi crept down the stairs of the Keep and found a cot in the corner of the armoury. He sat on it with his back to the wall and pulled out a book, trying to decipher the words on the page. He stared at it for a long time, his single eye shifting in and out of focus as depth was redefined. Soon the words blurred, then refocused, and the language became clear to him. He recited a few lines of the ancient script and held out a flat paw, then waved his other hand over it, forming a large ball of yarn. He set it aside with a satisfied smile and pulled out the parchment where he had copied Reverence’s journal and tried to decipher the code. He stared at it for a long while, but this was not written in any language he could interpret.
Reverence kept watch inside the inn, sitting on a table with legs folded under him. The companions all slept on the floor in piles of warm blankets, the tables pushed to the corners of the room and the fireplace crackling in the hearth. Old dishes and spilled ale were reminders of the lively nights spent in the place.
The town of Greenest was quiet, a steady rainfall pattering against the houses, and soon Fillip, naked as the day he was born, woke to relieve him of watch. Reverence raised an eyebrow but said nothing, finding a place to sleep amongst his companions.
Fillip ascended the stairs found a spot by the second-floor window. As the hours drifted by, the rain tapered off and the storm clouds cleared, and soon the light of the full moon peeked from amongst the stars. Fillip watched the light, bathed in it, and felt strength in his veins. He stood in his human form and bayed at the moon. The druid felt a newfound but expected power as the wolf inside him grew to a howl.
Downstairs, Oszaren woke from the howling and muttered, “damn these shape shifters,” before pulling a blanket over his head and to try and fall back to sleep. Keelan, however, woke and rolled over, but sleep eluded him. Visions of the past few days drifted through his mind: the village burning, the murders, Whisper’s attack and betrayal. So many hours of the day spent in trial. I must stop these things from happening again. It is my duty to rid this world of injustice. As he thought the words, a warmth filled his chest like the burning fire of Kossuth, and he felt sleep overcome him finally.
Oszaren could not sleep, so he drew off his blanket and padded up the stairs, sending Fillip to get some sleep. Fillip rejoined the room downstairs, walked in a circle, and curled up to sleep.
Oszaren found a chair and dragged it to the window, looking out upon the sleepy town. The warlock stretched and sat. He guessed it to be an hour to dawn and scratched lazily at the window sill before his eyes grew heavy and he drifted off in the quiet.
Suddenly, he found himself in a dark forest, trees spanning around him for miles. The smells of the forest were unfamiliar, and the vegetation strange. A few stars twinkled through the top branches of the trees, and he heard a rustle and the flap of wings as, with a woosh, a black shape plummeted, then soared up past him and perched on a branch. He heard the caw of a raven, followed by another and another until thousands of ravens began cawing around him. The sound grew to a climax. Then, they all took flight at once, swirling in a circle before him. In the middle of rushing wings, a form appeared. It was a face out of darkness, of wings and wind. A woman’s voice boomed out in the space around him.
“I told you to be patient. You have been so.” It breathed, and the cawing continued but the sound was stifled and distant. “I can see you have great potential. You’re not ready to face the tasks that I will set before you. Not yet, but soon. Keep following the tenants that I lay out for you, and your reward will be great.”
“What are your tenants?” he asked quietly.
The ravens flapped and cawed and flew away, and the overwhelming smell of rotting flesh consumed him. A deer carcass lay on the ground, ravens pecking at its loose flesh. “Hold no pity for those who must die, for death is the natural order of things.” The voice sighed deeply, and the sound was consuming. “You will learn more as you grow, and in time you will discover your true purpose as my chosen warrior.”
The dream faded and Oszaren jolted awake. He stood abruptly and looked to his side to see his sword was no longer in its scabbard. With a deep breath, he closed his eyes and concentrated and felt something that wasn’t there before. A new power inside himself. As he reached out to touch that force, he extended his hand out and his great sword appeared from it in a sudden flash of gleaming silver. He drew up the long blade and examined the jade hilt. It had two roses inlaid in twisting vines upon the cross guard. Runes faintly glowed on both sides of the blade, but he could not discern their meaning. He concentrated again, and the sword disappeared.
He drew out his notebook and scribbled a note for himself: “check inscription.” Troubled, he returned to his watch.
Rays of sunlight stretched out above the horizon and birds began their morning songs in the warmth of the new day. Shale woke suddenly, sitting up and looking around. Everyone else was fast asleep. She felt claustrophobic in the warm room and pushed the blankets off her, standing up and creeping around her sleeping companions. She felt impatient as though the world was calling her to step out. There was a shift—a balance had been tilted.
She donned her cloak and pushed through the doorway into the morning light and felt herself being drawn to the town’s edge. She breathed deeply of the fresh, crisp air and a smile touched her lips as she spotted something. She stooped down and studied a fresh print in the dirt. It was the familiar shape of a paw with a star set in the middle of it. She had seen this mark before, many times.
She looked up and saw a cloaked figure standing before her. They drew back their hood to reveal a shaved head and fine features. “Hello, Shale. It’s been a while.”
“It’s good to see you,” she said with a smile, standing.
“You’ve come a long way, I see,” they said.
“I-I’d like to think so,” Shale faltered. “In some ways. Though, in others, I fear I’m lacking.”
“You’ve done good things, and you’ve helped protect what’s important.”
“I try,” she breathed slowly, looking down.
“And you will continually try and succeed. Fail sometimes, perhaps, but mostly succeed. You have felt a change coming?” She nodded. “But, alas, I’m here because I have someone who wants to see you again.” They gave her a kind smile.
“Trigger?” Shale asked, and the figure faded and disappeared just as a small creature came bounding out of the grass toward her. “Trigger!” Shale cried, squatting down and holding out both arms.
The fox jumped up into her arms and began licking her face affectionately. She wrapped her arms around the squirming animal. “I missed you!” she laughed, letting him down as she stood. “Come! Meet my friends!” She turned back and saw the pawprint had disappeared.
The fox yipped at her and jumped around her legs as she led him back to the inn, throwing open the door and letting Trigger run amongst the sleeping forms of her companions, barking excitedly. They all woke, grumbling and confused as the fox jumped around and over their bedrolls. “Trigger is back!”
“What’s happening?” Fillip asked groggily, rubbing his eyes as Trigger bounded toward him and started licking his face.
“No, no, Trigger! Not that one. He’s naked. Very inappropriate, Fillip. Honestly,” Shale sighed, and Trigger ran back to her feet where she scratched him behind the ear. “Where’s Reverence?”
Reverence stood atop a hill on the edge of town, breathing in the morning air and practicing his forms. They were slow and deliberate exercises meant to stretch the muscles and strengthen the mind. He stood with his shirt off and sweat beaded his brow as the motions became more and more complex. Soon, sweat drenched his entire body as he became one with the earth and air.
All the tension in his body eased away and he suddenly stopped, feeling the wind pass over him. He stretched out a hand and pulled his limbs into the movement of the wind, grasping at it and pushing it away from himself. It released from his hands in a burst of air and he fell back into a familiar stance.
He had never been able to manipulate the wind before, but now…it felt natural. It was a part of him. He raised his hands and twisted the air around him, then punched a fist into the ground, the wind pushing him back. His heart raced as he stood, feeling awash in a newfound power.
Reverence stepped through the door of the inn, slipping into his shirt. “Ah—good morning—everyone.” He tilted his horns and stared at the fox, who yipped and began smelling him curiously.
“Egh, Reverence, you stink,” Oszaren said, covering his nose. “What were you doing?”
“Monk stuff,” the tiefling said with a flash of sharp teeth.
Oszaren waved his hand through the air and suddenly Reverence’s skin and clothes glowed and smelled faintly of lavender. “There, that’s better,” the warlock nodded approvingly. He had cleaned Reverence from head to toe. Trigger seemed especially happy about this, and no longer felt the need to snuffle around the tiefling.
“What should we do now?” Shale asked.
“I want my gold,” Fillip said, standing up from the bedrolls.
“Put some pants on, first,” Oszaren said, throwing them in his face. Fillip grabbed them, glared at everyone, then began pulling on his trousers.
They cleaned up their belongings and left for the Keep. As they walked, Fillip joined Shale and Trigger, who bounded through the grass chasing bugs, and asked, “how long have you had the fox?”
“A couple years, since he was a pup. I sent him away while I was travelling through the towns. He prefers the forests, and it’s safer for him there.”
“How did he find you?” Keelan asked, stepping up between them.
“He’s quite clever,” Shale smiled, and Trigger wagged his tail at her and gave her a doggish grin.
Reverence knocked on the Keep door and they waited as they heard footsteps approaching from inside, then bolts being unlocked. A bar was lifted from the door and a man appeared from it garbed in full leather armour and helmet. “Uh, yes?” he asked in a gruff voice, eyeing each of them in turn. “What can I do for—oh, yes! It’s you. We—uh—we weren’t expecting you to come back.” He looked around awkwardly.
“What do you mean?” Shale asked, disconcerted. “We’ve come with news.”
“Did you send us on a suicide mission?” Fillip crossed his arms.
“N-no! Of course not,” the man said, opening the door further.
“What do you mean you didn’t expect us to come back, then? What sort of greeting is that for your town heroes?” The druid stepped forward with a scolding finger. “I demand to see your governor, now.”
“W-well, uh, you see—I was told to—”
“It’s alright, it’s alright,” Shale raised a hand to calm the flustered man, “but we need to see the governor. It’s important.”
“I—suppose so…” he trailed off.
“Tell him it’s—urgent,” Reverence said slowly. The man stared for a second, and Reverence raised his eyebrows pointedly.
“What were you told?” Fillip cut in.
“Well, one of your companions came back in the night and told us—”
“Whisper,” Shale said, and the man nodded.
“Listen, we have the information your governor wanted,” Oszaren said, “so why don’t you let us in? This is the information he asked for.”
“We need to take precautions,” Fillip said, eyeing Reverence in particular. “Whisper may be out to kill us. Actually, he definitely is. We don’t know specifically what his motives are, but they can’t be in our favour.” He looked then at the guard. “We believe him to be untrustworthy.”
“Perhaps the governor can meet us somewhere else?” Shale suggested.
“A neutral ground,” Oszaren clarified.
“That is a fantastic idea,” the man breathed, looking relieved. He started to close the door.
“What’s your name?” Shale asked.
“Clovis.” He hesitated, opened the door wider, then turned back to yell at another guard.
“Lorne! Grab the governor. These people need to speak with him.” A pause and a grumble.
“Yes, now! You can finish your breakfast later.” Oszaren gestured for them to all step away from the doorway.
“Perhaps someone with good repour should go and speak with Whisper,” Fillip looked at Shale and Oszaren when he said this. “We need this matter cleared up. For all we know, Whisper’s going to kill us in our sleep.”
“I’ll go—talk to him,” Reverence offered with a serene smile. “I’m—a people person.”
“No, that’s not a good idea,” the druid said seriously. “We all know Reverence’s side of the story—why he did what he did—but we don’t know Whisper’s side, and we have the opportunity to speak with him right now.”
“Then maybe I should speak with him,” Oszaren said.
“You, or Shale.”
“I can at least have a higher conversation with him,” the warlock told them, and Shale nodded her agreement. Whisper and Oszaren both spoke draconic fluently, but Whisper lacked in his knowledge of common. “But I don’t think I should go alone. We’ve seen what Whisper is capable of.”
“We also don’t want to frighten him off,” the druid pointed out. “The rest of us should leave.”
“We shouldn’t split up.”
Keelan shrugged. “Why don’t we all just go in and see what happens.”
“Keelan, no,” Shale said, “we’re not all as strong as you, and Whisper’s a spellcaster.”
Begrudgingly, the paladin said, “I just want to know if cats are evil or not.”
“I mean, they’re kind of both,” she shrugged, reaching down to pat Trigger between the ears. He yipped up at her happily and then rubbed his face on Keelan’s legs affectionately. The paladin stooped down and scratched him.
Clovis, who was still standing at the doorway, cut in at that point. “My grandmother had a cat, and the looks it gave me were terrifying—oh, governor!”
Governor Tarbaw approached looking haggard. “Hello,” he looked over them from the doorway. “I was told not to expect you. What can I do for you?”
“Who told you that?” Reverence asked.
The governor looked at him the longest, tension in his voice. “I think you know.”
“Listen,” Shale stepped in, “we’re not sure we can trust Whisper.”
“We’re not sure we can trust you, either.” They could see behind the governor a few guards with their weapons drawn and at the ready.
“It seems you’ve already made your decision,” Fillip said, anger rising in his voice.
“Wait a moment,” Shale pleaded to the governor. “I think there was a misunderstanding, but we need to hear Whisper’s side of it. From our perspective, he walked into the enemy camp, spoke with their cult leaders, and, when we broke him free, ran straight to them and offered to help. That’s why Reverence attacked him. If Whisper betrayed us, then he might’ve told them our secrets, and the secrets of Greenest.”
“So it seems,” Fillip glared up at the governor and his men, “that not only have you ignored Reverence’s warnings that your town would be attacked in the first place, but now you’re working with someone who is possibly collaborating with the people who attacked you. You’re harbouring him in your Keep and—”
“Clearly,” Shale overrode him, teeth clenched in frustration, “we’re all upset about what’s happened, but I think we can find a mediation.”
“You must—forgive Fillip,” Reverence said slowly. “He was—up all night—howling at the moon.”
The governor raised his eyebrow at this, and uncertainty flickered over his face.
“I’m feeling betrayed,” the druid told them.
“We all are,” Shale said. “Betrayed and confused. I think the best thing we can do is speak with Whisper and sort this out ourselves. Your people have been through enough, governor, without taking this on your shoulders.”
Tarbaw drooped before them. “I’m intrigued, but I don’t know who to believe.”
Oszaren pulled out his map of the army camp with all his pages of notations and held it up. “Do you want this map, or not? We obtained the information you wanted.”
“May I remind you—of—your current track record—of not trusting us?” Reverence added.
“Alright, alright,” Tarbaw sighed. “One of you may come in and speak with Whisper. I will leave this to you to sort out.”
Oszaren nodded and handed his weapons to Reverence and Keelan, then followed the governor through the front door.
“And now, we wait,” Shale sighed, stepping away from the Keep as they slammed the door closed behind them.
An hour passed before Oszaren came back through the door of the Keep, Whisper following tentatively behind. Reverence stood behind the rest of them as the two walked by.
“Well?” Fillip asked as Whisper continued past and into the town, not even bothering to glance in their direction.
Oszaren gave them all a nod. “I have explained to Whisper what happened.”
“We all want the same thing, then? To bring down this cult?”
“I think so,” Oszaren said, but he did not look overly confident. “It will have to do for now.”
“No one leaves Whisper alone,” Shale said quietly. “If he’s on watch, someone is with him. If he tries to run off, someone follows.” They all agreed. “Great. Now, I would like some new weapons. Shall we go see if this town has a blacksmith?”
“Definitely,” Oszaren sighed, “oh and here’s our payment from Tarbaw.” He handed them each a pouch filled with two hundred gold. A fortune. They each counted out the coins then hid them away. Then they all headed into town, Whisper staying ahead of them.
Shale sold her short swords in place of two dangerously sharp machetes, finely crafted and balanced with simple, geometric designs at the hilts. She stowed them in crossed sheaths at her back. The rest of her companions traded weapons and armour, and Reverence bought a strange grouping of items from the general store, which still had some stock from their storage which had not been found during the raid. Shale found herself a new pair of laced boots with brown stitching, and Keelan bought a long red cape that was fitted at the shoulders and flowed outward. Whisper wandered off to the edge of town near the Keep and Shale kept her distance, watching him as he hunched down in the grass and began weaving a spell. The rest of them all met up outside of the general store, Whisper out of ear shot.
“So, tell us about what you actually said to Whisper,” Fillip looked at Oszaren, then back at the tabaxi. “How do we know we can trust him?”
“We kind of patched things up. We need to be careful around him and slowly earn back his trust.” Oszaren picked at a fingernail. “We don’t know if we can trust him, and he doesn’t know if he can trust us. To be fair, we did gouge out his eye. I kind of promised him that when we get to a big city we will try to find someone to fix his eye. That’s a promise coming from me, so the rest of you don’t need to feel obligated.”
“Did he—tell you—anything more about himself?” Reverence pushed.
“About himself? No,” Oszaren scratched his chin. “But, he had some information about the cult. More than Leosin did.”
“So—all we know—is that he looks like—he still wants to betray us.” The tiefling summarized unhappily.
“It still sounds as though nothing’s changed,” Shale agreed. “He may still be part of the cult. We shouldn’t promise him too much.”
“Do you think he’s good, or evil?” Keelan asked simply, as if it were a simple answer.
“I don’t know, but—”
“I’m all for—trusting him,” Reverence cut in, “but we have to be careful. We know—nothing about him.”
“We will keep him close and watch him carefully,” Oszaren promised. “I want him to be on our side, but I’m just not sure.”
Whisper returned a short time later as the rest of them discussed their plans to leave Greenest. An owl perched on his furry arm and hooted loudly as the tabaxi approached.
“What’s this?” Oszaren asked.
“Owl,” Whisper said.
Oszaren scratched it on the head and it closed its large eyes happily. “I like owls,” Oszaren said gently. Trigger yipped and jumped up at it excitedly, and the owl peered down and gave the fox a scathing look.
The group returned to the tavern and sat together, stoking the fire back as they discussed the cult and dragon eggs. Whisper stayed silent throughout the conversation, watching them with his one good eye, his fay owl perched next to him and preening his wings.
Keelan kept a cautious eye between Reverence and Whisper, but Reverence seemed to be at ease. Fillip, having consumed a bottle of wine to himself, stumbled around behind the counter in search of more liquor. There was some on the top shelf, and the half-elf jumped to reach it, but in his intoxicated state he knocked the shelf askew and the bottle smashed on the floor. He looked down at the ruined liquor with a morose expression, then came traipsing back to their table and sat down heavily.
“So, Whisper, why do you hate me?” The forlorn druid asked.
Whisper flicked his ears. “What?”
“Well, I freed you and you ran away from me.” Fillip’s eyes were welling up with tears, but that was likely due to the drink.
“Divert guards,” Whisper said, eye shifting between all of them.
Oszaren turned to Whisper and said something in draconic and the tabaxi responded in kind. “When are you going to learn common?” Shale asked. “No offense, but draconic is a truly guttural and, well—”
“It’s a horrible language,” Fillip agreed, wiping his eyes and shuddering dramatically.
“Here, Fillip, have some coffee.” Shale said, grabbing a stale cup from a nearby table that had never been cleaned up. Reverence took the cup in his hands and the liquid began to boil. Then, he slid it over to sit in front of Fillip’s face. Fillip drunkenly wafted it to his nose.
“Smells terrible,” he said, then took a sip.
“May I suggest—in the future,” Reverence said, looking over to Whisper, “that we deliberate—before we act.”
Whisper stared at him with no response.
“I apologize—for your eye, Whisper. I hope—you can understand why I did—what I did.” The tension was tangible. Fillip scooted his chair back and Keelan and Oszaren leaned forward, ready to jump in.
Whisper continued to stare. After a few moments of long silence, Fillip said. “So, what’s our plan?”
“Baldur’s gate?” Shale asked. “Leosin wanted us to find the dragon eggs.”
“We don’t want the dragon eggs—in the hands of the cult, but do we—want them with the Harpers either?”
“I don’t know anything about the Harpers,” Shale said honestly. “Only what Leosin told us.”
“They could—use the eggs—for political gain.”
“He did say he wanted them destroyed,” she pointed out. “Perhaps we should return to the army camp, now that they’ve cleared out? Leosin also mentioned he’d wanted to explore those caves but never got a chance.”
“It’s a good place to start,” Oszaren agreed. “We should learn as much as we can about this cult.”
“Very well,” Reverence stood, “let’s—not waste—any more time discussing matters.” It seemed he was a tiefling of action over words.
They rented horses from the town stable and reached the abandoned army camp by late afternoon. They tethered the destriers with ropes hooked to their harnesses and wrapped them around a small tree. The rope was mostly meant to deter the beasts from roaming but would do little to hold them back should they be frightened and try to run. Shale patted her roan affectionately on the neck and it snorted and pushed its nose into her arm. She smiled as they walked off, and the horses turned to grazing on the dry grass.
Trigger followed silently at her feet, bushy tail bobbing behind him.
They walked into the entrance of the army camp and were hit with the smell of smoke. “Did they burn the place?” Shale whispered.
“You burn,” Whisper gestured at her.
“I burned a couple tents, not this,” Shale said, looking around. The entire lower half of the camp had been emptied. Those things they did not take with them had been burnt to the ground. “They did this.”
They crept forward, cautious of any stragglers, but so far, the place seemed to be empty. Once they reached the higher portion of the camp, they saw several tents still erect and in good condition.
“Something’s not right,” Keelan said quietly.
“Agreed,” Shale gestured for them to hide behind a nearby tent just as a tall man with a bushy brown beard and thick auburn hair pushed out of another tent with a bow slung over one shoulder. They all quickly dove for cover, peering out and holding their breaths. The man stretched his back as he pushed from the tent door and waved back inside. “Alright, men. See you in a day or two,” then walked off, taking the path they had just left.