[Scene 1 – The Farmhouse]
Twisting their heads, the others shrug and they all proceed toward the door.
Three more bodies litter the path to the farmhouse, their wounds identical to the first. While the others collect the corpses into a pile, J’onn walks to the farmhouse door, stepping into a pool of blood extending through the archway from the body of a young woman. He enters warily and surveys the scene.
The farmhouse is in havoc. Dried meat, vegetables and furniture are strewn about the main room. The fireplace is cold and a middle-aged woman is slumped beside it. Her heavy shoulders are charred, torso torn and small intestines spilling onto the floor. Bloody writing has dried dripping from the wall above the mantle: it looks like elvish.
“Uh, guys,” J’onn gestures for the others to come in, “do you know what that says?”
Harvic casually interrupts “Mythal was an elven God; a protector of the elves.” and begins dragging the bodies from the room. Shortly, he returns, picks up the blood-stained food and a pot. He lights the fire and stove and begins cooking.
From outside, Bjornin yells in “J’onn, shovels?”
“None in here,” J’onn replies, “let’s try the barn.”.
Shortly after they leave, Harvic, not looking up from the stove, says aloud. “I found a key on the man out there. Look around the room, see if it fits anywhere.” Maram, agreeing, searches the room. Near the hearth, she finds a locked trapdoor beneath the rug. Harvic throws the key to her and with a click, the trapdoor opens.
“Just a leather pouch; a few silver.” She throws the pouch to Harvic, who takes half of the money and gives it to her. They re-lock the door and cover it.
[Scene 2 – Eshara]
J’onn and Bjornin walk silently to the farmhouse. As they approach, they hear a scuffling inside. They enter with caution, weapons ready and hear a dull moan and a single thump, as if a person is collapsing above them in the loft. A cow chews its cud in the corner, barely paying notice.
J’onn edges up the ladder, peering over the lofts floorboards. A lithe pair of legs point toward him from a pile of hay. The woman, an elf, is upside down, so he turns her over. She moans quietly and grimaces; the tattoos covering her face accentuate the effect. Aside from the tattoos, she has four large gashes spaced evenly along her flank.
“What do we have here” J’onn muses to himself, “a Dalish.” He grabs her and eases her down to the ground floor, passing the leather pouch from her belt to Bjornin’s waiting fingers. Inside, Bjornin finds two heavy joined chain links, inscribed with runes. As the pair return to the farmhouse with the, Bjornin tosses the link in the air, laughing at the clinking.
“Put it away, simple man. You know as well as I do that magic is trouble.” J’onn glares at his brother, who begrudgingly, puts it into his pocket.
They enter the farmhouse and place the woman onto the floor.
“Look what we found.”
Harvic leaves the food to simmer immediately, walks over, and opens his healing kit. An array of baubles, potions and herbs spill onto the floor. Muttering, he collects a few and sets to work, oiling and packing her wounds with obvious skill. He discreetly tears a few strips of cloth from her tunic to bandage the larger cuts and gashes. The elf is mumbling incoherently.
“Who- where am I? Who are you? What happened? You’re an elf- what..”. Maram mills, staring fixedly at her, agitated by her wounds. The others watch quietly.
“What’s your name?” Harvic asks, but the response comes slowly: ” Eshara ”.
She faints, slightly more relaxed.
[Scene 3 – Interrupted]
As night falls, the wounded elf sighs lightly in her sleep as Harvic hands out the makeshift rations. J’onn and Bjornin take theirs and head outside to dig graves by lamp light.
Several graves later, a hollering from the fields distracts them. A boy, about 16, is approaching from the direction of Vintiver.
“Hello? Who’s there? Is that you Edred? Keltin?”
Waiting for him to get closer, Bjornin walks over, swinging a wine skin. “Hello! Join us, boy. We are having a party, ahahaha!” and ushers the boy inside.
“Wait! You’re not – what’s going on here?! Oh God!” He vomits in the doorway and anxiously speaks directly, “You aren’t supposed to be here. You should come back to town with me. The Warden will want to see you.”
“What’s your name, boy? Do you like wine?” asks Bjornin, blithely ignoring his request.
“Rafael. You really should come to town.” Spotting Maram, the boy begins to chatter. “That’s an elf – what’s an elf doing here? You shouldn’t be here. None of you should be here.”
“Do you want a drink, boy? Do you like wine?” asks Bjornin, grabbing him. Drunkenly, or perhaps otherwise, he pries open the boys mouth and empties the wineskin. Rafael’s struggling lasts only as long as it takes him to collapse from the drink.
“You’d think a town of winemakers would know how to drink, ahahaha!” He takes the boy upstairs, leaving him on a bed to sleep it off. While the others continue their meal, the brothers return to the graves.
A short time later, a single torch appears in the fields, walking toward the house. A woman’s voice echoes over the fields. “Edred? Is that you? Is Rafael here?”
Bjornin, jovial as always, begins to rant at her. “Your boy cannot drink, ahahaha! Do you want to join our party instead?”
“Where is my son?” she yells.
“He is upstairs sleeping. Come to our party! If you have children, you must be buxom and not at all like a tiny-titted elf, ahahaha!” He glances inside at Maram as the torchlight recedes quickly toward Vintiver.
Unfazed, Bjornin and J’onn return to their digging. When a mass of torches broach the horizon, they edge toward the farmhouse door. A man of about forty-five walks directly up to the farmhouse. Four younger men wait about fifteen metres back. A dumpy woman peers intermittently from behind them, whispering constantly.
~ ... ~
1 An elf; inconspicuously present for earlier events, I assure you.