Adventuring through twisted time.
"Run! Run!" Devon burst through the wooden doors of the storeroom granary and waited for his fellow Rogues to jump to the ground first before he did the same, rolling to the muddy grass alongside them. The men scrambled to their feet and raced across the fields and into the middle of the busy townsquare as the guards chased them relentless for their botched attempt at taking some of the grain being wrongfully held while the people of the city remained starving.
He couldn't understand how they'd been caught. The plan was simple, yet perfectly executed and thought out. They had remembered all the changes in the guards and should have been in and out with ease. The one and only thing that made any sense in the unexpected interruption of the Lord's men was they were told the Rogues were coming. Someone had betrayed them. Someone who he had trusted was among their party and the reason for their current race through the village's backstreets, running for their freedom and their lives.
They had finally made it to the edge of the woods, completely out of breath and covered in dirt, blood, and sweat. Their lookout who stood with the few horses and wagon to help carry the goods immediately went into action as he saw them coming, untying the reigns from around the trees. Devon waited for his friends to mount their steeds before slowly backing away from them. There was only one way they were going to get out of this and he was prepared to be the reason. "Go," he said simply, glancing to each of them one last time, confusion filling their features. He knew none of them would want to leave him behind, but for any chance at escape, Devon would do whatever was necessary. "Go!"
The rogue turned back the way they had come and ran out into the middle of the tall grass. The guards had reached the end of town, continuing down the dirt path that would lead to the others, but Devon gave a short whistle to grab their attention. A wicked smile formed as he let out a few snarky remarks to their pursuers. It was all that was needed to have Devon sprinting through the woods as fast as he could to give as much distance between them and the Rogues.
It would be foolish to think that anyone could really get away while being chased by horses, but Devon was going to do whatever he could to draw them away from the others. His boots pounded through the forest, leaping over the fallen branches of the trees and being cut by the bushes. His only chance would be to find a place to hide which would be a miracle alone. A sudden sharp pain pierced his upper back, pushing him further in his momentum and nearly falling as he let out a cry of pain. He'd been hit cleanly by an arrow, making him stumble to his knees before sheer adrenaline got him on his feet again, but there was no outrunning the guards now.
Devon slid to a stop at the edge of a cliff. Below him was a steep drop down a hill and the raging river below. He glanced behind him hearing the sounds of hooves getting ever closer. There was only two decisions to be made; face the guards who would surely capture him, leading to a hanging, or take his chances with the fall below. It was an easy choice, though the natural need to not hurt oneself didn't make it any easier for him to take the leap. Devon jumped from the cliff and tumbled down the mountainside. His body was ravaged by the rocks and trees as he eventually lost consciousness and finally rolled into the moving water below. The current quickly took him away from the ones he was fleeing, but he was now at the mercy of the river's raging currents.
Roni patted Lonnie's neck after she tied the couple rabbits to the saddle. The young woman had gone out to refresh her supplies of fresh herbs and had come into some luck that the few crude snare traps she had set for the small beasts had worked. If she smoked the meat, it would last for a few days longer on her upcoming travels. She left the horse grazing in the pasture near the one room cottage while she took the bucket the last few steps to the river streambed to be filled. Kneeling in the shallows, the dark haired woman began to fill the bucket. As she did so, her green eyes scanned the banks stopping on a large figure that seemed to have washed up. Frowning she stood and placed the bucket back onto the shore before approaching. Hearing a low, soft groan, she moved quicker to find a man.
“Oh Avalon.” She whispered as she took in his battered form. Bedding down next to him, her fingers gently felt for a pulse. Finding it decently steady, she thanked the heavens for that blessing. Yet looking over his wounds again... He had amassed a number of them. If left out here, he certainly wouldn’t survive. If the night’s chill and cold clothes didn’t get him; if the wolves and bears from the forest didn’t come for a free meal; then surely whoever had shot him with that arrow protruding from his back would find him and finish the job.
As gently as she could, Roni lifted the soaking mand from the water. Slinging one of his arms over her shoulders she trudged slowly and partially bent under his weight back to the nearby field. “Let’s get you fixed up, sir.” She told him as they moved. Coming to Lonnie, she slowly transferred the man’s body onto the horse’s back. Another blessing was how well he had been trained in her father’s stables when he was young.
Roni lead the horse from the ground back through the small grove of trees to the small, one room cottage that had been her home the last few years. Once again she was carefully moving the man, wondering just how he had gotten into such a state. Had he been pushed, slipped, or simply even jumped? Roni settled the man to lay on the cot near the hearth and stoked the fire to chase away any chill. She dumped a bucket near the hearth into the calderon to boil. Crossing the cottage she grabbed a small flask and rummaged on the table through the four packed bags there until Roni found the one she needed filled with linens, and a needle with thread. Moving back to the man, Roni knelt next to him beginning to clean and dress the most grievous of wounds.
Devon swam for the surface of the water, but no matter how hard he pushed himself to the brightening light above, it seemed he was not moving for his efforts. He frantically looked below him to the darkest water as if he had fallen into the middle of the ocean and not the river he was just in after falling from the cliffs in his attempts at escaping those guards. The air in his lungs was almost out and the burning need for a fresh breath ached in his chest. Despite the surface never nearing no matter how hard he swam, Devon continued to fight until something tugged at his ankles. It was as if the darkness of the ocean was dragging him further into its depths and soon the light of the sun grew dimmer until their was nothing but black.
The rogue suddenly shot awake. He flailed in response as though still swimming for a chance at life and immediately fell off the cot and onto the floor. His blue hues scanned his surroundings in a flash for imminent danger and then on the woman who had been seated next to him. He gave her a once over and had no recognition of who she was. The small cottage he was in seemed vacant except for them, but Devon wasn't going to let his guard down for a moment. He stumbled to his feet which only made him waver as his body was exhausted from the chase and fall. A searing pain shot up along his ribs and through his back which made him gasp in response, falling to a knee, and taking a huge gasp of air.
Devon's chest heaved as he studied the stranger. She held dressings and a needle and nothing of any intent that meant him harm. Frankly, she looked rather terrified of him. "Where am I?" he breathed out, groaning at the pain that seemed to come from everywhere. His shirt had torn open and he could see the blood that was running from an open wound there. Devon conceded to the injuries which he couldn't even completely see and fully lowered himself to both knees, grabbing his side which was scraped and bleeding. He finally looked over to the woman as he waited for her answer. "How'd I get here?"
Roni had carefully cleaned and dressed the man's head wound. From what she could tell there had been no internal bleeding; just an external scrape that looked worse than it was. Diligently she had then begun to move down his body to find what else ailed him. The hole on his upper chest must be from an arrow that had gone straight through by the looks of it. Roni turned slightly to the bag of equipment next to her grabbing clean linen which she dumped in the water before beginning to clean the wound. With the cleaning done, she began threading the needle.
Her gaze darted back to the cot and her patient when she saw movement out of the corner of her eyes as he wind-milled off the cot. Watching his frantic, wild movements as he took in his surroundings, her green eyes widened in alarm. "I will do you no harm, sir. Please sit back down, at least." She softly pleaded with him as he fell to a knee in pain.
As she saw red stains began to blossom through his shirt, she swore silently. "Unless you have a death wish you shouldn't be moving so much. It appears you had quite the journey already." She wouldn't ask why he was in that river. He seemed already on edge, and she knew if he was running from something…
"You're about a half mile from a village to the west of Westminster." She answered his question after taking a calming breath as she raised her hands to show she held no weapon. Roni looked over his form; it was lean and muscles. Certainly he was a fighter who if truly wanted and was in slightly better shape, he could do some damage to her. Roni herself was a runner. She knew where to place a knife if pressed to do damage, but often she did not put herself in any situation to do such a thing. Plus being a half mile away from the village, no one would hear her scream if she did.
Roni dropped the needle and thread, rushing to him as he dropped to both knees, "I'm a healer, let me help you." She told him quietly, kneeling down next to him before adding, "You can call me Roni. I brought you here so you could have some peace while you healed. Well with Lonnie's help. It was your luck I found you washed up on the riverbed. Had you come another few days later, who knows who it would have been to stumble upon you." She told him.
Roni offered him help to move back to the cot with a small smile. "Come lay back down,Sir, so I can at least clean and dress your wounds. I've got some whiskey you can sip for the pain. Then I'll get those rabbits ready for some stew to give you back your strength. I'm sure you're not one to rest long, but rest you do need to heal. Tell me what brings you joy." Roni laid out the plan she had formed for most of the evening at least. Perhaps that would help him to relax knowing she truly only meant to help. Any bit she could get him to relax would also make her life easier when it came to stitching some of his nastier wounds. Part of that would also be helping his mind think of better things.
Devon gave in and let the stranger help him to his feet again, bearing much of his weight as he nearly collapsed back onto the cot once more. He looked to the woman and casually studied her without her seeing, summing up the possible hidden intentions that he might not be seeing, but Devon could find none. Perhaps she was only speaking the truth and it was pure dumb luck that she happened upon him.
"Devon," he responded to her as an exchange since she'd given her name before, though he was confused on who this Lottie was. As far as he could tell, it was just her living there as he only saw the one bed. He wasn't about to start demanding more answers from her now; Not with a needle and thread that was set to penetrate his skin. He did find it rather curious that she was alone and out in the middle of the woods by herself. Not many women would find themselves in that situation unless they were running from something or had been widowed.
He reached for the bottle of whiskey and took a long sip. Shaking his head, the alcohol was welcoming as the pinpoint needle entered his skin, making him suck his teeth slightly in response. "Joy?" he questioned with a scoff, glancing at her delicate hands which worked on his body. "Joy is this bottle of whiskey being emptied by me in the next few minutes." His eyes moved to the fire where he could see the rabbits which had been laid out and prepared for the supper he most likely interrupted.
Devon's mind went far off for a moment as the flames caught his attention again. He couldn't help but wonder what had become of his friends and if he'd given them enough of a head start to escape back to London. Thinking of the alternative was more than he could stand. Another sharp pain of the needle nearing the wound made his breath catch and brought him back to the current. His hues moved to the bottle in his hands as he spoke somberly. "Joy would be knowing my friends are okay." Devon took another long drink of the whiskey and let out a breath in an effort to calm his nerves, feeling helpless and worried that what he'd done may have been for naught.
Once the man was laying back on the cot and the whiskey bottle handed over, Roni returned to tending the wounds. "Be aware that is the only whiskey for the time being." She told him as she meticulously stitched one wound, gently slathered a poultice designed to help heal and relieve pain. Before moving on to the next to begin the process over starting with cleaning. "Tell me more about your friends. What, Master Devon, have they done to inspire such loyalty?" She asked. Perhaps it wasn't the most happy of subjects if he was worried, but speaking of them may help ease his mind off the pain. When she felt she had sufficiently cleaned and stitched the worst of his wounds, she wrapped each with clean linen. "If you wish, tell me their names and brief description, I can ask in town if anyone else has found them washed up on the shore of the riverbed somewhere else downstream."
Rocking back on her heels, Roni looked him over one last time before beginning to repack the tools she had used. "Now, if you can help it, no quick movements. The stitches are tight, but if you move too much or too quickly they will snap." The dark haired woman moved around the man to remove the large cauldron of water from over the fire and to replace it with a smaller one. She then grabbed the rabbits and moved to the table to begin preparing the stew. She added some vegetables and herbs to the pot over the fire after the rabbit. As they waited for supper to finish, Roni listened to the crackle of the fire and what the man chose to tell her.
Retrieving a bowl from a bag when the meal was done, Roni added a small potion she had set aside for later use that would ease pain. Then she added the cooked stew to the bowl. Helping Devon she passed him the bowl of stew to eat. "To help your friends, you should eat and rest so you heal." She told him with a smile. "No one but us know you are here, so you are safe." She added to reassure him.
Hearing that this was the only whiskey bottle currently available to him to alleviate the pain that seemed to be everywhere, Devon reluctantly pulled his lips away and swallowed the bit that remained in his mouth. Wouldn’t be the first time he’d had to ration a bottle for dealing with the downsides of being a Rogue. Getting hurt was just in the work description at this point, but it was something he and the others didn’t mind because the rewards far exceeded the dangers.
The smell of the stew wafted over him and despite his mind being preoccupied with the thought of his friends’ safety, he couldn’t deny that his stomach was currently preoccupied with one thing only. Devon watched as Roni finished with his dressings and went over to work on preparing the rabbits for their supper. He glanced down at the wrappings around his side and felt the cooling sensation of the mixture he’d put against his wounds, noticing the quick relief it was giving, though it was also probably with the help of the whiskey.
“My friends, with any luck, would not have ended up in the river like I did,” he finally replied. “Seems Lord Carmine’s guards and my companions had a bit of a… misunderstanding.” Devon looked up from the flames then to Roni to see her reaction, but he still believed she would prefer to keep out of the business of others seeing her current setup in the woods. “Apparently someone sold us out and I have a bit of questioning to do once we all meet up again. I’m starting to think my contact in town may have been paid or threatened into dealing with guards instead of keeping the bargain I had made with him.” He nodded in thanks as he took the hot bowl from her, feeling the slight repercussions of reaching too quickly for it as the wound in his back protested from the motion.
“Thank you, by the way. Not many people would take the time to help a stranger washed up in a river.” Devon didn’t want to pry, but he would rather like to know more about the woman who had saved him from a most assured death. “Why did you risk it? You’re alone out here and I could be a criminal. Well,” he quickly corrected himself. Being honest felt like the right thing to do since she had patched him up and fed him. “I am somewhat of one, but not in the business of hurting people... unnecessarily.”
Roni froze momentarily as he mentioned his friends and himself had had an altercation with Lord Carmine’s guards. She let out her breath slowly with a frown. “Tell me was it only your comrades that had this misunderstanding or do you tend to pull out Lord Carmine’s ire as well?” she teased to find out more information about her guest. If he was going to supply information, she would take it. It would be better after all to know the man she had brought into her home, then keep him as a stranger.
“And just how will you treat that betrayal?” She asked as she took a seat on the floor near the fire. It would tell more about his character how he would treat someone that he found had betrayed him. Obviously it wasn’t her business. If he didn’t want to speak to any of it, she wouldn’t push it. Once he healed enough to move comfortably, what he did was his choices. If he wanted to heal better, she would stay and help him. But if he wanted to leave right away, she also wouldn’t stop him.
“I’ll go into town in the morning. Pick up some more whiskey, unless there’s something else you’d rather have.” She told him as she began to pick at her food. She had watched to make sure he was eating before eating from her own bowl. He needed to regain his strength. She turned her head slightly to look at him, “Would you like to send a letter to your friends? Let them know you are alive. Or do you want me to ask after anyone?” It wouldn’t be difficult to do either. She had been living in this cottage for the past couple years and knew some of the villagers during that time having helped when someone fell ill or injured.
She sighed with a small smile as she turned back to the fire as he asked after herself. He had come to the correct assumption that she lived alone. By choice even as that was, it didn’t mean she was a complete hermit. “You needed help; as a healer I help people that need it. It’s what I was trained to do and most times it brings about satisfaction. “ She turned back to him, “I like to help where I can. If you wished me harm, I would have assumed you would have already tried, yes? Then you would be alone; one way or another.” She answered holding his gaze for a moment longer before shrugging and taking another bite from her stew. In a nonchalant manner she added, “Anyway Master Devon, anyone could be considered a criminal. It all depends on your definition of the word and the reasons behind the actions.” Roni knew there were many that wished her dead just for being who she was, who she was born - whether she did anything criminal or not wasn’t the question. "Your honesty is refreshing though." She told him with a kind, teasing smile.
Placing the bowl to his lips, he drank the hot broth which was instantly satisfying. The heat was a comfort and relaxed him even further while he let out a breath and let his mind wander to how things had gotten so bad for him and his friends. "Carmine and I might have a bit of a history," he replied as a mischievous grin appeared on his features, reaching his eyes. "It's safe to say he would like to see me hanged if I were to ever be in his presence again." Devon's hues moved up to her as she busied herself with pouring some of the stew in another bowl. "That man has no regard for the people on his lands. He treats them like livestock. Worse, even. At least the livestock are tended to and get fed properly. He's a coward and a monster." The anger began to rise in him while he thought of all the injustices which were suffered by those who had no way to fight back to live with some decency. "So, I stole what I thought would be worth the payment for all the hard work those people have done over the year in grain along with some of the other stock he kept and gave it to those workers." Despite the emotion that had boiled up inside as he thought about it all, Devon then smirked thinking of how infuriated it had made Carmine and being able to see his complete meltdown from the woods when he learned of his lost product.
He watched as Roni sat near the fire, questioning his plans on what to do once he'd found out who had betrayed them. "I'm not sure, but I'm hoping it's only because he was threatened by the guards. He's always been loyal to me and my friends. Nothing would've swayed him except if his family was in trouble, possibly in some kind of danger. He knows what we do is important to save the lives of the villagers." Devon realized he’d wandered off in silence for a moment trying to guess as to what truly happened before coming back to reality and looking back to her. “Don’t worry though. I won’t be a burden passed tonight. You’ve done more than most would and I won’t ask more of you. I’ll go with you into the village tomorrow and we’ll part from there. I promise I will repay you though. You have my word.”
Healer. It was a word that wasn’t used among many women because the threat of them being chastised was high. Devon found the ignorance of others baffling and as she explained a bit about herself, he couldn’t help but feel like he knew the reason, or at least part of the reason, Roni was out in the woods living by herself. He was suddenly aware of the wounds on his body which were still feeling a quicker relief than what would normally be expected. Still, he wasn’t about to bring about accusations and assumptions to the person who had shown nothing but kindness to him.
It was a pleasant thing to hear that her loyalties with criminals depended on the crime they were being accused of. The Rogue knew he was probably in the company of another ‘criminal’ too and it made him smirk with a slight shake of his head. The world was cruel to the people who did good while the cutthroats of nobles prospered. Seemed all very backwards to him. “Please, don’t let me take your bed. I’m fine on the ground. I’m rather used to it.” He shakily stood and gripped the table for support as he put the finished stew bowl down feeling a wave of frustration from his current condition. “You’re quite the cook too. Haven’t had a decent meal in days.”
As Devon explained the strained relationship he held with the Lord Carmine, she kept quiet. Her eyes in the dancing flames of the fire as she listened to how he described the Lord, and truly so many in this world that only cared for themselves. Roni's eyes darted to him, a slide smile spreading on her lips as he continued to describe what he had done to unleash Carmine's wrath. "Well, Master Devon, it seems the world could use more caring and daring folks such as yourself; willing to help others when all it will likely cause is trouble for yourself. It's an honorable deed. I'm glad I could help you continue your work another day."
Roni's gaze left the man and drifted back to the fire as she listened to him speak of his plans for the man
that possibly betrayed him and his friends in their good deed. "One can surely only hope his family is safe, but as you surely know, one will do alot to just save their own hide." As silence folded between them, Roni let it be. Yet when he spoke again, her gaze came back to him quickly, "You are no burden, Master Devon. It is nice to have friendly company every now and then. Take it a day at a time to see how you are feeling. It would do no good for you to reopen an injury." As he spoke of repaying her for get help, Roni shook her head, "You owe me nothing. I am sure you don't look for anything in return for your kindness, and neither do I. Consider this a payment from all those you have helped." Of course that wasn't always the way Roni offered her services. No if someone from the village came searching for something, there was a price. One did have to live after all. Yet Devon has done no such thing; Roni had happened upon him. And for such a thing she wouldn't expect anything. "Although I appreciate the offer.
She winced as he stood from the cot and shook her head once again. "Sit back down, Devon. Sleep on the cot. It will do you some good, especially with your injuries." Roni stood as well and gathered his empty bowl with hers. As she moved away from the fire to place the bowls in a small bucket of water in the table, she cast an illusion on the couple sacks across the room from the fire under the window to make them look like a second cot. Pointing to the new 'cot' she reassured the man, "Please take the cot near the fire for the night. I have my own by the window over there where I prefer to sleep." Holding the simple illusion of the cot was a simple task. Even as she began to clean the bowls in the water.
A light blush lit her cheeks as he complimented the meal, "Thank you, but it was only a simple meal to warm the bones. " She gave him a quizzical look, "Surely you have someone taking care of yourself and your friends. You all can't help others if you are all running hungry and ragged after all." Taking the bowls out of the water, she set them on the table to dry. "Get some rest. Your body at least needs it. You'll be safe here, for as long as you wish to stay. There's never many visitors anyway."
Devon was going to object. The words were just at the tip of his tongue before his gaze moved across the room when she pointed to the new bedding that had appeared. He stared in a slight disbelief, but didn't want to give away that he knew full and well that cot had not been there minutes before. One of the things Devon did best was observe his surroundings and the people who were in his company, especially when he didn't know them at all. This time was no different. It had been one of the first things he noticed when he surveyed the space; She was for all intents and purposes, living alone with no sign of another person in the dwelling.
His eyes moved back to Roni slowly and took her in again, letting the swirling assumptions he'd had in his head about her take further confirmations. He of course didn't let her see this as she busied herself with cleaning up the supper she'd just made. Devon cleared his throat softly and readjusted his weight, grimacing slightly at the pain in his upper shoulder where the arrow had pierced him. With as much care as he could, he lowered himself back into the cot and brought himself around to answer the question she'd presented.
"We have a place we go to where there's usually a meal, but the innkeeper that keeps us isn't exactly the best of cooks and his daughter tends to always keep busy with the real patrons of the place." Not that Devon wasn't thankful for everything him and his daughter did for the Rogues. Without them, they'd lose the main place where they held their fighting ring which made them a fair amount of coin to keep up with their dealings. "Most of the time we are picking at the scraps left over late in the night when we're returning if we're even in town at all. As you see, we do travel a lot."
Devon's heavy lids landed on the whiskey bottle. He was certainly feeling the effects of the drink now and with how incredibly tired he was still from the trauma, trying to keep awake was becoming more and more difficult. At least he had had something in his stomach now to hold the whiskey down. He took one last long gulp to finish off the bottle before laying down on his side which would be the only way he'd be able to properly sleep that night with the wound in his shoulder. His hues moved about the room as Roni's blurred shape walked about though he was too weary to even keep track at this point; Either that or nearly drunk. Devon didn't want to fall asleep. He was much more interested in her and her story, but it was pointless trying to fight what his body wanted now. "Thank you," he muttered with a slight slur and mostly whispered. "Town. I'll go with... tomorrow.." It was the only thought he could get out before falling into a deep sleep.