"What happened?" Cadman asked as he handed Cayle the water canteen, who took a long drink and didn't answer.
"I asked you a question: what happened?" Cadman asked again. Cayle looked at him.
"I don't want to talk about it," He said.
"Too bad," Cadman responded. Silence fell upon the campsite.
Finn went to work making dinner, as he was the best cook out of them, and the only sound was him preparing the meal. Finally, Cadman sighed.
"Fine, don't tell me," He said. "Which direction did she go? Did you see?"
"She went west," Cayle answered.
"West?" Cadman repeated.
"Is there an echo here? Yes west," Cayle said, taking another drink.
"Well jeez, someone woke up on the wrong side of the roots," Cadman muttered under his breath, but just loud enough for the others to hear. "I was just saying that it made no sense for her to go West when she had been heading for the coast which lies to the East."
"I'm well aware of that," Cayle said with the exaggerated patience of someone who is talking to a child. "But that's where she went."
"She could be tailing someone," Flynn interjected as he took a bite of food. Cayle and Cadman stared at him. The thought never occurred to them.
"Who could she be tailing? If she is at all," Cadman said. Cayle shook his head. He didn't know either.
* * *
Deanna climbed the stairs which led to the second floor. There were doors lining the hall, where the guests could come and sleep.
She walked down the hall until she came to one of the doors, a bit more fancy in the design than the rest. She pushed it open, and it slid over the floor on well-oiled hinges. She walked in, taking in the room with a single glance.
It was plain, though a bit more ornate than what she guessed the other rooms would look like, with no real ornaments decorating the walls.
There were bookshelves lining the walls, with a door in the corner, which she assumed led to the bedroom, and a desk in front of the small window, the moonlight illuminating the tables contents and the blood that covered them.
Deanna froze. There was a man slumped over the table. The Inn owner. She walked closer, her hand on her sword hilt.
* * *
"Would you hurry up already? The trails gonna go cold if we have to stop and start like this." Cadman said as he waited for Cayle and Finn to catch up with him. They were riding on the wagons while Cadman was on an unburdened horse.
"That's easy for you to say," Cayle said when he caught up. "You don't have to lug around all the equipment, which, as I have said before, is completely unnecessary."
"It would look a bit weird if we were riding through, armed like we are, and not having a purpose now would it?" Cadman said.
"It looks weirder now that we have these damn wagons." Cayle muttered.
The wagons were plain, with a door on the back of each. They had bought them off of Gypsies that had been going to try they're luck on another isle off to the south.
There was a loud thud as Finn's wagon ran over a rock, knocking over some of the wagon's contents.
He pulled up next to them, a frustrated look on his face.
"Cadman, why can't you drive the wagon?" He asked. "You're better at it than I am."
"Because I'm acting as scout." Cadman answered.
"Why? It was your idea to pose as wagoneers in the first place, I think you should be driving one." Cayle said.
"It's not fair to let us suffer at the expense of your idea," Finn said.
"OK, fine," Cadman said. "When we stop for lunch I'll take one of the wagons. There, are you satisfied?"
"Rider coming," Cayle said. "And yes."
There was a lone rider heading towards them at a gallop.
"Hey, maybe our lucks getting better and that's her," Finn said hopefully.
"I doubt it." Cadman said. "It couldn't be that easy, could it?"
"Let's find out," Cayle said, moving his wagon out of the center of the road to await the rider.
The rider was wearing a dark blue cloak, billowing out behind him, the cowl was up, so they couldn't discern whether the rider was male or female.
"How is the cowl staying up when he's galloping like that?" Finn asked; Cadman was about to answer when the rider came to a halt a few feet from them. Even from this distance, they could hear both him and the horse panting, both from the warmth of the sun and their run.
"Good Day, travelers," The rider panted out. "Might you have some water to spare? For both me and my horse?"
Finn climbed into the back of his wagon and grabbed two water skins and a bucket and handed them to Cayle, who had climbed down from his wagon.
He walked up to the rider, who dismounted, and handed him one of the water skins while he set the bucket down and poured some of the contents of the other inside. The horse drank greedily, and so did his master.
"Why are you in so much of a hurry, friend?" Cadman asked, dismounting.
The man hesitated. "I-I'm on my way to the fair," He didn't sound convincing.
"That's nice." Cadman said. "Now why are you really in such a hurry?"
The man's shoulder's sagged. "I was running from...." He paused, and covered it up with taking another drink. "Bandits."
"We were just down that road and didn't see any bandits." Finn said.
"Well, they probably thought one man would be easier pickings." The man said.
"Alright," Cayle said, not sounding convinced. He poured some more water into the bucket for the horse.
The man went to hand Cayle back the water skin, but Cayle shook his head. "Keep it," He said. "We've got plenty."
The man nodded his thanks. "So, where are you bound?" He asked.
"Careman," Finn said.
"Oh really? What a coincidence, so am I, that's where the fair is." The man said. "May I travel with you as far as Careman?"
Cadman and Cayle glanced at each other before answering. They were both hesitant to add a stranger who wasn't being honest with them about why he was in such a hurry, but, other than that, the man seemed harmless.
"Sure," Finn said before either of them could agree or disagree. The man smiled.
"Thanks, lad," He said, he paused a moment. "My name's Alroy, by the way."
"I'm Cayle, that's Cadman, and the lad is Finn," Cayle said. "Nice to meet you,"
Cadman looked up at the sky. "Let's put a few more miles in before we ."
Cayle nodded and climbed back onto his wagon, while Alroy mounted and followed behind them at a walk.
* * *
The riders watched the group leave. The leader's face was almost a snarl as his eyes bore into the new companions back.
He whistled to his men and they turned around and galloped back to report to their superiors that he had gotten away.
* * *
She checked the Inn owner's pulse. He was dead. She looked in the bedroom door quickly. Empty. She walked back over to the body. He couldn't have been dead long.
The only window in the place wouldn't have fit a human, maybe a two year old, but Deanna seriously doubted that a two year old would be able to kill this man.
There was a scream from the doorway and Deanna spun, her sword half-drawn. It was the Inn owner's wife.
The woman rushed in the room and over to her husbands corpse. She was crying hysterically. Deanna walked over to her as she tried to lift her husband out of his chair and move him, possibly to try and save or revive him. It tore at Deanna's heart to see this woman's sorrow. But it also made her wonder how she couldn't have noticed that her husband was dead.
"Ma'am," She said to her as she managed to pull him off of his chair and lay him on the floor. She cradled him and rocked back and forth, sobbing.
"Ma'am." Deanna repeated, a little louder. The woman looked up at her, tears streaming down her face, and still she rocked. And now Deanna could see the knife sticking out through her husband's chest, right in the heart. A plain dagger that wouldn't be useful in the slightest to catch the man's killer.
Deanna felt a surge of pity for the woman who may never get closure.
"Ma'am, did you hear anything out of the ordinary? Maybe you dismissed it." She went on. The woman shook her head.
"E-even if I-I did hear anything, t-the noise f-from downstairs would have kept me o-occupied, but I didn't h-hear anything." She stuttered, fighting back more sobs. "Can you catch who did this to my h-husband?"
Deanna tried to smile reassuringly. "I'm going to try."
The woman nodded once and then went back to sobbing and rocking her husband. Deanna slipped out and left her to her grief, figuring there was nothing she could do to lessen it or to relieve her of it.
And the knife would be no help what-so-ever. All the villagers downstairs had knives like that, and she assumed that most of the staff used those knives to cut their meat and bread, the never been used ones of course. At least, she hoped that they were un-used.