Moriel watched Harkonan feeling like the world had gone mad. How could he stand up there and actually appeal to a crowd? How could Harkonan appeal to ANYONE besides the crazy squaters who screamed about the world coming to an end? And yet the people were listening, soon even cheering. She shook her hear and turned her attention to where the rest of the group had gone. They were standing around the burnt out house, where she had seen those other things that had made her feel like she was going mad.
Rigel stood next to her for some reason insisting to the others that he needed to stay outside to protect her. She listened to Teb, as curious and determined as ever, ask question after question. All questions she could answer…and yet she didn’t. It was probably shock from seeing Harkonan embrace a woman, enter her home, and then to find her naked and dead and him gone. At least she was 95% sure it was Harkonan, he’d changed his appearance but not his clothing or his faithful dogs. The hounds had gone running after that flash of light.
But why hadn’t she explained it all to Teb? She watched him looking about the house from the doorway, then make his way outside to ask the witnesses more questions. Following Rigel to where Teb and the others stood listening. Guy was looking at the blood trail she’d already followed to its abrupt end. He seemed to have lost the trail, she contemplated pointing out the trail to him to see if he could discover more than she had. Shaking her head she turned back to listen as the farmer said,
“My companions were chicken and ran off when she began levitating.” I snickered, remembering how he’d run-just as chicken-only moments afterwards. What was he trying to prove?
“So you didn’t run?” She asked, trying not to smile.
He hung his head, “Well…I did. It wasn’t my proudest moment.”
“Can you carry me and show me where she levitated?” Guy asked the farmer. The thought of guy being carried by the burly farmer was quite amusing.
“You look to heavy, perhaps she would be better?” The farmer pointed at Moriel. She looked about, the others looked at her, probably expecting her to bite the farmers head off. The shock must have been worse than imagined. She shrugged and leaped into his arms.
She grinned as Teb got that sour look on his face, “No funny business…” He said and the farmer promised that there would be none.
“Oh come now Teb, he’s kinda cute.” She said grinning mischievously. She didn’t know why she was asking so weird, when she’d just witnessed a murder. She tried to convince herself that she was just trying to gather more information. Harkonan hadn’t been so forth coming when she’d confronted him. Just moody and dramatic as ever. Trying to pull a knife trick to get his blood probably hadn’t been the best move, but didn’t he know she meant him no harm? Especially since she could sense how important helping Harkonan was to Teb. That had been what had stayed her hand when she’d been so tempted to fight him for his blood. Teb was better for her than she’d thought.
It was amusing to think that at one time she’d been bent on killing Harkonan for being such a liability…among other things.
After all questions had been answered, Moriel decided she needed to tell Teb what she’d seen.
She took him aside and explained. "
“I saw the event” She said.
Teb look like she’d slapped him with a fish, “You did!?!!?!”
Moriel went on solemnly, getting it all out before she changed her mind, “The body floated into the air, the men ran off, and then the body was yanked over a roof and out of sight. There was no one about.” She paused, remember how Harkonan had rejoined her as she walked back to town. He’d tapped on her shoulder and she’d turned to see no one there. She hadn’t know he had the power to become invisible.
“That i could see.” She ammended, “The strange thing is,…i saw her walking normal and unharmed a while later.”
“Was harkonan with you? Did he see the same?” Teb asked, frowning.
Moriel hesitated. She didn’t want Teb going after Harkonan, at least not until they’d gotten to the bottom of this. "Don’t do anything yet, but no. He went into the house and did not come back out, but when i looked no one was there. And another thing, he knows I know who he is.
Teb looked thoughtful and unhappy, “Hmm. this worries me. have you had a chance to talk to him since?”
Moriel grimaced, “I did, we…weren’t exactly civil.”
“What did he say happened?” Teb prompted.
“He wouldn’t say. He just told me to trust him basically.” Moriel paused, “And a part of me does.”
Teb looked at her with a serious expression, "I know he means well but he has not earned the trust he wants.
Moriel sighed, “I know he’s an idiot but think we should wait and see what happens…and if they can find a body.”
Teb said, “It is likely, without any other explanation, that he may have masqueraded as the girl and thats who you saw walking about.”
Moriel smacked her forehead, feeling idiotic herself, “You may be right, I don’t know the extent of his powers…he IS a changeling after all.” She thought back then held up her hand, “Wait…that doesn’t seem possible. I saw her, and she spoke to me and as she walked off Harkonan spoke from behind but was invisible.”
“What did she say?” Teb asked.
“I was too surprised to really recall but she was angry and…” Moriel was interupted by the group calling at them to rejoin them.
“Should i talk to harkonan about it, i have more of his trust than others?” Teb asked as they walked back to the group.
“You can but perhaps we should tell no others until things become more aparent.” Moriel said, worried things might spiral if anyone else found out.
Teb nodded, “Agreed. Guy seems suspicious enough as it is.”
“He does…” She said.
“He does what?” Someone asked her as they all fell in step to go see the mayor.
Moriel smiled casually, “He DOES know how to dance.” She pointed at Teb.
They went to see the mayor. Madam mayor explained that the curse of the beast on their town might be the result of not giving into a sorceress’s demands and then where she thought said sorceress might be.
They set off, towards the next town. The forest was thick and their journey was long. The company kept mostly to themselves, not very talkative around the camp fire. This was fine by Moriel, talking too much had gotten quite a few people killed where she’d lived.
Day after day was more travel and more of the same forest. Moriel began to grow bored, thinking the island was just a lot of walking. Then the next day they stumbled upon a huge banquet table in the middle of the forest. Moriel felt watched. Everyone was confused and wary. But Harkonan of course, felt the need to go inspect it.
“I don’t have a good feeling about this.” Moriel informed them.
“We should go around.” Guy insisted.
Then they saw him. A creepy looking being with wings sat at the head of the table. He beconed them to the table, telling them that he’d been expecting them and had information.
“Please, sit and eat.” He insisted, smiling his unsettling smile. Moriel looked about the forest. Some information was better than none. Everyone refused the food but sat at Moriel insistance.
“Why should we trust you? What information do you have?” They asked him. He insisted that they had to make a contract with him, and even had one ready made, that he held out. Moriel rolled her eyes, she was not about to sign anything. And Rigel confirmed her suspicion that it’d be a bad idea, explaining that in all his research a contract from a strange being never ended well.
Then Guy went crazy. He grabbed his sword and went at the creature. Teb was able to step in and protect the creature man with his magic shield. Guy went mad, insisting the little man needed to die because he was a murderer.
Moriel was unimpressed by the show from Guy but wondered what had caused the generally logical man lose it now. Zog tried to grab Guy and calm him down but Guy dodged out of the way. Eventually, Guy calmed down enough to stop. Biterly though, he insisted that if they were going to protect the creature, he was going to leave. Shocked silence greeted this and Harkonan, of all people, was able to convince him to stay.
The little creature man tried to insist on binding them in an spoken contract. Moriel was getting tired of this. They were not stupid enough to be trapped by the creepy little fairy and obviously this meeting wasn’t good for the group. She got up and left, followed by Rigel then the rest of the group-all except for Teb.
When he’d caught up with them, he informed them that the imp had told him that the sorceress would be at the temple. Moriel thought that this was not very helpful news since they were going to go there anyways and could have discovered this information for themselves.
They walked on until nightfall, when they made camp. Around the campfire that night, Teb asked Guy why he’d attacked the creature and they discovered that Guy’s family had been killed by demons like the imp and that he was on a mission to rid the earth of all demon kind.
Teb, as nervous as she was at this revelation she was sure, inquired further into why ALL demon kind had to die.
Guy went on to extol all of the evil that demons possessed and strangely enough, Harkonan just kept agreeing with him as Teb continued to try to change Guy’s mind about demons. It was a strange affair.
The talk was changing to Tebs history when Moriel decided Teb had spoken enough. There was no need to blab about her family or his, not when Guy was so determined to discover and kill all demons. So she ordered Teb back to their tent, telling him that she had important things to discuss. When they got to the tent, she merely sat down and started sharpening some of her daggers. After a few moments Teb asked,
“Did you want to discuss anything m’lady?”
Moriel looked up at him and realized that perhaps he HAD wanted to tell the others about himself a bit. And why should she stop him? It’s wasn’t like he couldn’t handle himself in a conversation or like he didn’t know how to keep a secret. She didn’t want to be too careful at the moment though, she’d given him a good excuse to avoid a potentially dangerous conversation. There would be other nights to speak of himself when tensions weren’t so high. “You know why i called you away.” Moriel muttered, turning her attentions back to her daggers.
Teb looked a bit miffed but tried to remain pleasant, “Not particularly. I thought I was making some good headway.”
She ignored this and nodded at the cinamon sticks sitting on top of his bag.
“What are those?” She asked him.
“I took that from the imps table.” Teb replied hastily, “Why’d you call teb away?”
Moriel raised an eyebrow at him. Sure, they’d spoken of something that should have been but did Teb not see the danger here?"
“The chat was…enlightening.” Moriel assured him. Then paused and said, “Guy can’t be trusted, he’s on to harkonan, he could be on to you. We have to be careful around him.”
He shook his head, “He is not onto harkonan, he treats Harkonan presently as his closest ally.”
Harkonan was keeping his enemy close.
“I suppose…” She conceded.
“At least he does not hate them as much as demons.” Teb said, thinking, “I could test the waters and simply erase the knowledge if it proves to much.”
Moriel watched Teb scheming. He was a quick one.
“But i will wait until I save his life or do something to more fully gain his trust before i try that…” Teb said, then he seemed to freeze. After a minute he seemed to come to. He looked at me and said, “Just had a vision. Saz made a deal with the hag to send her to the temple.”
“Uh oh.” Moriel said with dread.
“He told us that’s where we would find her and he is making sure that he wasnt lying.” Teb explained.
Moriel frowned, was it a trap for us or her? “Or should I be celebrating since it will lead us right to her?”
“Exactly.” Teb said.
“Should we tell the others?” Moriel asked, wondering how they’d react, “They are already sorta expecting it…”
“I, just don’t know, i’ll leave this to your wisdom.” He replied, looking hesistant.
“I say we keep silent for now.” Moriel said.
“Agreed.” Teb said.
Moriel had a thought, “Go and get Harkonan. I think we need to have a chat.”
“About?” Teb inquired.
Thinking of their last encounter and hoping Teb would be of use finding out what she could not she grinned and said, “Stuff.”
Teb left and returned with Harkonan following. Moriel was suprised he’d even consented to join them. Perhaps he was growing as bored with their long trek as she was. They headed a ways outside of camp to ensure they weren’t heard.
“Yes?” Harkonan demanded, looking at Moriel suspiciously. Moriel smirked.
“He’s here.” Teb announced drily. Then after a few moments of tense silence, “So m’lady told me there was some suspicious activity in the village. I dont want to arrise suspicion to the others that isnt warranted.”
“I can say the same.” Harkonan huffed.
Moriel frowned and looked at Harkonan. Maybe he’d be more forth coming now that Teb was present, “Was that resurected lady you?” Then realizing she was on the attack again and that it probably wasn’t the best strategy here, pulled back a bit and said, “I just want to know what happened.”
“As do I.” Teb agreed.
“Resurected lady?” Harkonan asked.
“The red head.” Moriel said flatly. When he didn’t reply Moriel sighed. So he was going to play dumb. Fine she’d bring out the big guns “I followed you harkonan, I saw you enter and leave her home. what happened?” She demanded.
“No it was not me.” Harkonan said, sounding irritated.
“I don’t know what happened with that lady.” Harkonan insisted. "Now…
Teb interupted, “Moriel saw her walking around the town after she was already killed.”
“…why were you misleading me?” Harkonan asked Moriel.
“misleading? How so?” Teb asked, as Moriel grew more irritated. Why was Harkonan always assuming everyone was out to kill him? She thought about it and realized it was probably because everyone WAS probably out to kill him.
“I dont know who the girl was, only the girl i was with.” Then he glared, “Go ahead tell them moriel, she shows a good jesture but hides a knife.”
“Just relay the sequence of events as you saw them, thats all im asking harkonan.” Teb said, trying to pacify him. But Moriel was on the attack, temper rising, “You know my motive for that, I wish you no harm harkonan, though admittedly i did once.” She felt like strangling him to get it through his head that she meant him not harm.
“Im not accusing or anything, just a free exchange of information.” Teb went on.
“I was doing the same shit I always do, in every single town when the beast attacked” Harkonan snapped, "Look at it in my shoes, so far everyone but the new guys has tried shafting me. And you, "He said, pointing at Moriel, “Put me in a position to trust you with a knife at the end of it all.” Moriel looked away, miffed that she’d done it. Aparently force was not the way to get Harkonan to share information. She hadn’t trusted him to tell her if she’d asked straight up anyways…
“So tell us what happened from the moment you entered the house. No ill will, just trying to piece what happened together.” Teb said quietly.
“Yes.” Moriel agreed, trying to get her temper under control.
“Enterd the house?” Harkonan asked, puzzled.
“Did you not go inot the house where the dead girl was?” Teb asked.
“No i actually wasnt.” Harkonan informed them.
“Wait.” Moriel said as Teb said, “Now, Im confused.”
“I saw you hug the red head, looking like another man, and enter the home. your dogs were there. You were in the home for a while, then there was the flash and the dogs ran off. The villagers found the girls body but no one else inside the burnt hut. I learned later that this girl had a lover that lived a ways away.” Moriel told him, hoping the telling him that she knew what had happened would make him confess. “Did you seduce her and kill her? And if so why the hell would you?!” Moriel demanded, temper flaring. Why was Harkonan such a cruel one? How could he do this?
“Moriel,” Teb begged sheepishly, “No accusations, please!”
Moriel looks disgruntled, “My apologies, I just want to have my teams back.”
“I already told you, I slept with a red headed women! out in a field, my dogs were off, I dont know where. I was having sex.” Harkonan looked furious, “So you tried to knife me and now are throwing accusations?” He demanded, “Is that why you wanted my blood??”
Moriel tried to calm down and explain, "I found a trail of blood and took some, i wanted some of yours to compare it to.
“And you fail to mention this?” Harkonan snapped.
“I didn’t know how much to say.” Moriel said.
“The truth maybe?” Harkonan said.
“If you dont mind I will sense to make sure you are telling the truth harkonan…?” Teb suggested.
Harkonan shrugged, “Go for it.”
Teb concentrated, then nodded to Moriel, “He is not happy, but is not being deceptive.”
Moriels expression softened, relieved as she looked at Harkonan, “Then did you see who did it?”
“No.” Harkonan said.
Moriel sighed, This is troubling. I saw everything but Im left with no answers except that it wasnt you."
“You got what you needed, dont expect me to be so trusting to you Moriel.” Harkonan said angrily, “Now i dont have any answers, just distrust.”
“Why? I told you I meant you no harm, and told you my reasons for wat i did.” Moriel said, bewildered. Hadn’t she just explained her motives? Why did he still not trust her?
“Yeah, heard that one before.” Harkonan muttered.
“Do you have distrust for me?” Teb asked him.
Perhaps if she let Harkonan sense her mind like Teb had done to him. “Do you want to sense my mind like Teb? Or do you not know how to do that? I do not know the extent of your powers…”
“Im done with this.” Harkonan snapped, turned on his heel and walked away. Moriel watched him go, thoroughly confused. Why was he such a drama king?!
“Stay here.” Teb told Moriel. She noticed he’d told her, not asked her. Moriel looked unhappy but could understand and nodded, muttering,
Teb followed Harkonan out of sight. Moriel sighed, talking to Harkonan was like trying to take honey from a bee hive. Moriel went back to her tent after a few minutes.
A few days later, in their tent, Moriel noticed the cinnamon sticks again. The rations they’d brought had been dull-besides the plum wine and cookie Rigel had conjured for her, those cinnamon sticks were looking really good.
She mentioned them to Teb. “We should test them on someone or an animal.” Teb said. Moriel, feeling reckless and restless from the tedious trek through the forest, picked them up and ate them, Teb looked horrified. Moriel finished them and they both sat there, waiting for whatever was going to happen to happen. When nothing did happen, Moriel shrugged, “Guess the imp’s food was harmless.”
They went to bed and the next day, they came upon the temple….
To be continued…..