Cora and Alma
Things grow still in the taproom after the mayor and Cora leave. You finish the rest of your tankard before standing and walking towards the narrow steps leading to the second floor. Taking a candle from a sconce you trudge up the steps, rubbing at a large knot in your right shoulder.
You nod approvingly as you enter the small room that you have been let for the night. It is clean and well appointed, with a nightstand set with basin and water for washing, and a large and costly down bed that looks soft and smells clean.
You slip off your boots and set your great sword against the wall. The cool night air flows in through the open shutters causing you to shiver. As you step to the window to close it against the night, you hear a dog barking somewhere near by. You are looking down into what must be the mayor’s back yard. In the dark you see the outline of a small barn and several pens with animals behind the sturdy timber house.
There is the bump of a door closing and then the tall and delicate figure of Brianna walking across the yard towards the barn, her dress covered in a white apron, a pig bucket in her hand. It has oft been said in the south that in days of yore the Brauman crossed their blood with elves. Considering the beautiful girl below, you can well believe it.
Leaning on the sill you watch her glide across the stockade, opening a gate and closing it. As she arrives at the barn, opening a small man-door to enter, she gazes towards the inn and across the darkness your eyes meet. She smiles coyly before stepping through the door and into the barn.
For a long moment you consider that smile and wonder if the invitation in her eyes was real or imagined. Your reverie is broken, however, by the sound of a blood curdling scream coming from the barn…
The heat from the tub wraps around you like a warm blanket. You sink into the water and feel your muscles relax as the stress and strain of the road ease away. The cake of soap is fragranced with some kind of flower and it feels wonderful as you scrub off the dirt and grime.
You are at perfect peace, except for the incessant barking of a dog somewhere nearby. It grates on your nerves, but when you sink below the water the sound disappears and you are cocooned in silence.
You stay under water until your lungs burn before finally emerging to suck in a mouthful of cool air. You hear the back door of the house, located just outside the bathroom door open and close as the girl, Brianna, goes about her chores. Your eyes are closed when the piercing sound of a woman screaming tears through the night. Sitting quickly, you slosh water over the side of the tub into a large puddle on the wooden floor.
A second scream, longer and filled with even greater terror punctures the night.
Matrim and co.
The camp is already stirring as Sebastian runs down the hill to alert his companions. The sounds of drums, the howls of wolves and the screeching cry of goblins fill the air. Quickly the group dons arms and armour.
Together you climb the hill, keeping low as you crest the top. There are even more lights flickering in the distance now and a large bonfire is growing in the clearing before the snag.
Whether the goblins are meeting to form a raiding party, to carry out a ritual or to celebrate some occasion you can only guess. If they are aware of your presence, they have made no move towards you however. The grassland around your hill seems still and empty.
You look to one another, wondering what you should do…