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The Sublime Overlord of the Realm
Confusion. There was lots of that. Whisper was well acquainted with the feeling. The woman, as quick as she had appeared, had gone back into the trees and brush along the road. The top of her head was still visible and it was obvious enough that she had wanted their help. The words "family" and "help" were still strong in Whisper's ears and there had been blood on her. Wraith was still agitated after smelling it and by the woman's abrupt appearance, his large hooves slapping into the ground, his ears drawn back, and his tail swishing. Whisper patted the side of his neck and looked at her group even as Tomick asked her the question.

The woman's mind flitted across what she knew first, blood, someone's family, assistance needed. If I rushed out like that at the road, I would want someone to help me if my family was injured. Leosine was no god of healing or helping the helpless, but Whisper could find little reason to say no when their pace had been relatively leisurely on the errand that she had been set upon. We follow. The paladin slid down from her saddle to lead Wraith into the greenery as it would have been too tight a place for her to have ridden the large horse.

Exelder followed Whisper's example and slipped from Clout's saddle before reaching out to catch a hold of the reins near Lucky's head to make it easier for Brian to dismount as well. I got his head. There's a good horse. Exelder issued the last statement to the younger lad's mount as calmingly as possible to soothe the beast instead of get him more riled like the other two warhorses.

The pathway, if it could be called that, was little more than an animal trail that led to a small wooden house surrounded by a copse of trees with a small clearing around the front of it. It was a single level with animal skins for a door and window coverings. A small shed kept an old milkgoat and a pile of chopped wood safe from the potential downpours should it rain. Just looking upon the place, Whisper thought it seemed more or less peaceful and contented in tangible feeling. The blood spattered woman stepped into the house as soon as Whisper appeared in view. Wraith was tied loosely to a branch as dark haired paladin started to make her way towards the small house. Whisper, just a minute. Take at least one of us with you.

Oh. It had escaped her notice that it might have been a trap until Exelder said that so she waited for one of them to get themselves ready though she figured that Tomick would be the first as Exelder would have to tie his mare more securely and then explain to Brian the how's of tying his own horse. Whisper waited until Tomick was mostly done and then slipped inside the house with a casual flip of the skin door which seemed to be of some sort of cow hide.

The scene that greeted her from the inside was completely different than what she had expected. The skins over the windows and doors kept it dark, but the iron tang of thick blood plugged her nostrils quite quickly. She could see it shining dully in what light came in the cracks. A man, a woman, and a small girl lay sprawled on the floor, their dead eyes open, unseeing. The man lay on his back, his lips partially ajar, his right hand stretched out to the side with a woodchopping axe nearby it. He wore burlap of a similar type to the woman that had led them to this place. His beard was matted with blood where he must have been slapped across the face, his jaw hanging at an odd angle, suggesting that it had been broken before he had died. His arms were covered in cuts that might have been caused by claws, a blunt knife, or very ragged, yet extremely tough fingernails. His midsection was exposed, the skin there rucked up roughly to expose his rippling entrails. His bowels had let loose sometime after death, only adding to the unhealthy collective of stenches. The older female had fallen onto her stomach. Her back was scored in any number of places, her burlap dress torn haphazardly and rucked up around her waist, her hair tangled in chunks or with partial chunks missing. Her wrists were bruised as were her ankles and there seemed to be many marks around her thighs and hips. The small girl seemed to show signs of the same ill treatment as the older woman though it was her neck that had been crushed which had probably ended her small life.

Whisper's eyes widened, a hand placed against her mouth to cover the sound of her audible gasp. The woman that had led them there turned to her and looked upon the paladin woman with her deadened eyes. My family. My father, my mother, and my little sister. All gone. The hopelessness in her voice was heartbreaking already. It was easy enough for Whisper to put herself in this woman's shoes and see Echo's body lying there on the floor in place of these strangers. It ached. The horror of it all made her chest ache and her eyes begin to spread moisture around their edges.

Who? Who did this? Vengeance, that was easy enough to validate. Though this woman was not of her Order, vengeance, or justice in the very least, had to be done.

The trolls. They live... they live not far away. My father thought that we had built our house far enough away from their settlement, but... Not... not enough. The filthy woman buried her eyes in her hands as her body convulsed with spasms that could only have suggested weeping. We never did anything to them! Her wail was heartbreaking.
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Warhorse Way · Pathways of the Five Pilgrims

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