- Cave Mouth <Pockmark Cave, Forest District>
- This cave smells of damp earth due to its close proximity to the Lightholder River. It seems to be a natural formation based on the state of the walls, although the addition of wooden support beams speaks of human presence.
- The thick pine trees hiding the entrance to the cave keep natural sunlight from penetrating more than a very small way into the darkness. Water drips from the ceiling in a constant yet very slow rain.
- There are only two ways to go from here: back out to the Thoroughfare or deeper within the cave's all-consuming darkness.
Yawning, Muri enters the cave and pulls her cloak around herself more closely. "Shouldnae tried t' make it t'Lightholder dis late," she says to herself. "But nots as if Ah'd never slept outside afore." She looks around trying to find a comfortable place to sit. She doesn't wander far in and sniffs the air hoping to smell a creature before it smells her. "Haloo?" she calls as she picks up a rock. "Anyone here's?" She chucks the rock into the darkness.
The sound of the rock striking and skittering across stone echos back, as does Muri's voice. There is no reply, the only sounds other than those echoes being the scampering of small rodents disturbed by her rock. The smell, though... there is death in the air tonight. The faint scent of decay lingers from deeper within the darkness.
Muri's nose wrinkles at the smell of dead things and she shudders reflexively. "Ah don' thin' dere's Light folk here bein' all lahk mice and such," she mutters stepping closer to the cave mouth. She peers out into the night and Evermoor whinies plaintively. "'So right, m'boy," she soothes. "Jus' a few winks fer me, den wen de moonlight brighter, we'll head up norfth some more." She sighs and makes a pillow out of her pack.
The sounds of shuffling continue, parts getting louder while others get softer. A few sizeable rats emerge from the darkness, making to head past Muri and out into the cold night air.
Meanwhile, there are hoofbeats out on the road. A pair of voices may be heard as those horses stop and bots meet cobbles.
"This is the cave Lord Valoria was speaking of?" one asks. "Yes, sir, this is the one," replies the other, "I'd plug my nose, though, if I were you. The guardsmen that were sent in earlier reported a murder. Three, actually." "And they didn't clean it up?" the first voice asks. "No, sir, their orders were to keep everything as close to its original state as possible."
Rats are one thing, but voices something entirely different. Muri is quickly on her feet and her hand to the sheath at her hip. She licks her lips and edges toward the mouth of the cave. "Who dere?" she calls, nervously.
The bootsteps pause at hearing Muri's voice, and the sounds of blades being unsheathed follows. A shadow passes across one of the trees guarding the cave and the first voice takes on a commanding tone as he calls, "We are members of the Royal Guard, mistress. To whom do we speak, and what are you doing in this cave?"
Muri shudders at the sound of steel and puts her hands before her, open and empty. "Tis Muri Woodhill o'Hawk's Aerie, m'lords," she replies. "Ah found de place t'stay de night. Ah was tryin' fer Hunter's Horn but fain 'twas too tired." Her horse shifts and snorts unhappily. "Shush, Evermoor," she scolds. "If'n Ah should leave, jus' a say so. A tree'll do jus fine fer me." She swallows.
One of the guards steps into the cave carefully, sheathing his weapon when he sees the Muri's not posing a threat. He calls to his Marshal and then bows to the woman. "You probably should leave, Mistress Woodhill," he remarks, nodding, "This cave's a crime scene and what's in there is nothing short of gruesome." The Marshal steps in, blade already put away as he shakes his head, "Shouldn't send green recruits for these things. This cave should have been marked off to avoid something like this. My apologies for the troubles, Mistress."
Muri breathes easier and nods picking up her pack. "Me thanks, m'lord," she replies, bobbing a strange curtsey that nearly topples her over. She walks quickly over to her horse, her heart still pounding. It's unlikely she'll sleep this night. "Light keep the both of ye," she says. "Any message fer de Horn ye'd lahk me t'take?" She pulls herself onto Evermoor's back.
"No, Mistress, thank you. Light's bless and have a safe journey," the Marshal replies. He nods his head, while the guardsman offers another bow. They carry on a soft discussion before the guardsman pulls out a lantern, lights it, and the pair set off to head deeper into the cave's thick blanket of shadows.
Return to Season 7 (2008)