She tried to push to the front of the crowd while the children played safely in the attention of an elderly woman. Raven wanted to see this man. Wanted to see what she was in danger of running into. She came to the most inner parts of the circle, her black dress swishing as she suddenly stopped, trying not to stumble forward. She looked up at him with careful eyes and a guarded expression.
"Not just this town, several others near it." Someone called. "That beast is spreading it's circle of destruction wider by the night!" There were several calls of agreement. "The beast must be stopped!"
Raven swallowed, feeling sick. The thought of leaving occured to her again. But then traveling was a pain too. She inwardly groaned, knowing she was trapped.
Henrie tried to find the sorce of the voice who talked about the other towns. His eyes landed on a small dark haired girl. For some reason she caught him off guard. Perhaps it was glare she was giving him or just her eyes alone.
He met her eyes breifly for a moment before turning to the woman who had spoken. "yes, the king is aware of this. I have come to take care of the problem and if it prooves too difficult the king is willing to send more men and soldiers to slay the beast."
The crowd murmmered excitedly.
"But until then," Henrie called out over them. "I need to be informed of everything that it has done and its patterns. Its strenghts and weaknesses. Does anyone know where its lair is?"
"I can help." She couldn't believe it was her mouth those words had slipped from. Sure, she wanted to keep from getting caught. But was this really the way to go? Offering to help when she'd in fact be leading him away from herself? She bit her lip, crossing her arms. "Ask anyone in town, I've seen the most of this beast and know it the best."
He looked back at the strange girl again. He heard his men shift in their saddles behind him. He knew they were thinking they didn't like the prospect of having a girl guide them.
He glanced at the duke, "Is this true?"
The duke nodded. "Yes, your highness. She is very skilled."
Henrie turned his gaze back on her. "What is your name, girl?"
"I am Raven." She gave a slight curtsy out of respect. "Raven Sage." She was really questioning herself at the moment, wondering if she just had a death wish or something. She realized this was likely to end with her death, before the death of the real monster, which she was working hard to track down.
Henrie slipped off of his horse and stretched his legs a second before heading to Raven. The crowd backed up a bit as he approached. Henrie dipped his head to her.
"I am Prince Henrie." He offered her his hand.
He couldn't help but feel like she was nervous of him. He was used to this. A lot of the common people avoid him, like he would order them to be prisioned or something.
She stood her ground as he approached, forcing confidence into herself. "So I've observed." Raven said, accepting his hand. "I do hope to be of service to you, and not a burden of any sort. In the evenings, I assure you, I'll get out of your way and let you and your men handle things."
He nodded and turned to the duke. "Is there somewhere we can stay? We would like to stable our horses and have them taken care of before we start."
"Certainly this way," the duke began to form a path in the crowd. "Make way, make way!"
Henrie swung back up onto his horse. He looked down at Raven. "Where can I find you after we've settled down?"
"Just over there." Raven told him, gesturing to where the children were playing. "I'll be helping care for the children." She glanced at the position of the sun and prayed he wouldn't want to keep working after sunset. She hoped her need to leave would be easy enough explained as fear of the beast.
"Right," he nudged his horse forward after the duke.
His men trailed after him as the duke led them to his own house. The duke's house was curently under reconstruction, like the rest of the town, but the stable was in good shape. Henrie quickly groomed and fed his horse and gave his things to his servants.
"You two," he pointed to them, "Keep an eye on our things and gather as much infromation about the monster that you can from the servants."
"Yes, your highness," the nodded and hurried away.
He turned his attention on three of his soldiers, "You go and scout the city. See what all supplies they have here."
They nodded and marched off.
Henrie turned his attention to the last two men. "Lark and Grover, you come with me. We will see what Raven has to say about the monster."
"Are you alright?" The older woman asked her, noticing she seemed nervous and uneasy.
Raven grimaced and shook her head. "Just nervous. He's a prince and I'm a woman, of all people, who is supposed to help him. I don't know what he thinks of me, but I feel that if I do not give him the help he wants quickly or well enough, he'll become upset with me."
"Relax, child. All will be well. They'll rid us of the beast and there will be no more need to fear."
Raven wished she could trust those words, but the woman didn't know of her true fears. She didn't speak after that, waiting for Henrie to return to her.
Henrie's men took record of the damage as they walked past. So far he had only seen one building that had not been touched by the monster, and that was the church on the edge of town.
He reaached the town square again and looked around for Raven. He kept a hand on his sword blade out of habit. The towns folk all saidthe monster only came out in the night, but he knew there was always a first time for everything.
He spotted Raven and walked over to her.
Raven stood when she saw Henrie approaching. An eye shot to his hand on his sword then back up to his face. She made no comment, only curtsying again. "I hope you're settled well enough, sir?" She asked, knowing the town was an uncomfortable place to stay since it was half in ruins.
She wondered what all he would expect to learn from her, and what he expected of her to act like while telling it. She definitely didn't want to appear an hoax or anything.
He gestured for Raven to stand then pointed to his companions, "These are my two best men. Lark and Grover."
Lark smiled and waved at her and Grover, always the stoic one, gave her a grunt.
"Now,' he sighed, "Let us get down to buisness. I've heard that this monster looks like a giant wolf, and judging for the damage it can cause quite a lot of harm, but how large is it exactly and what is its attacking styles?"
She grimaced, gesturing to the hut behind her. "About that size, I'd judge from glimpses. It is a giant wolf, with gray fur, but something about it is more...powerful. It has sort of a glow about it. As for attacking...I don't really know...it just seems set on destroying everything, and killing a few people, but as long as the people stay out of its way, it leaves them alone. And actually, I've seen it taking women, alive. They'd turn up dead the next day. The beast shows up shortly after sunset, and always leaves before sunrise. It doesn't always come into sight. Sometimes it only comes where you can hear it."
He nodded and placed a hand under his chin and watched her explain. She seemed nervous talking about the monster, and he didn't blame her. She had been living in this creatures shadow of terror.
"Can you tell me what direction it heads?" Henrie asked her. "Are there any nearby dens or caves that it is possible it might be living in during the day?"
She shook her head. "Sometimes it heads north and sometimes west. Sometimes it goes a different way. I've tried following it, but the tracks just...stop. As for a den or cave, anything I've found around here is either too small inside with no evidence of it being there, or the opening is too small for it to fit through."
He glanced up at the sky. He guessed they had about three hours before sunset, the time when the creature came out. He let out a sigh and turned his attention to the girl.
"So it comes to the town at night, kills people, destroys the houses, then runs off in the night with no trace of evidence." He shook his head and turned to Grover. "Any ideas?"
Grover frowned even deeper then normal and looked around. "I would suggest moving the townsfolk somewhere safe for the night. Especially the women and children. We can then leave some bate for the beast and try to set a trap of some sort."
"What sort of trap?" Henrie asked. "A cage or a death?"
"I'd go with a death trap," Lark pipped up. "The quicker we kill this thing the less people have to die."
Henrie nodded. "Agreed. The King specifically ordered its compleate destruction. We need to rid this kingdom of it."
"A pit would take too long to make for a creature of it's size." Grover said.
"And there's no way we capture it." Lark said.
Henrie nodded. "Then we'll just have to be the trap. We'll shoot it in the eye while it is eating."
With a sigh, Raven piped up. "Gentlemen, he doesn't stand still to eat, might I point out. You'll have no more oportunity while he's eating than at any other point.Secondly, it'd have to take a pretty deep shot to kill him and not just blind him."
She crossed her arms. "Might I suggest taking a little less risk and making no changes that would alert it? If you stayed and watched it a few nights, you might pick up on some habit or behavior that might help you in timing of an attack later."
((Just a warning: I'll probably dissapear for the night in a few moments.))
Henrie looked back at Raven in surprise. Most common folk never addressed him without his permission or if he wasn't speaking to them first. Lark and Grover also stared at her.
Henrie was silent a moment, going over in his head his two options. Finally he decided this woman knew more about the monster than himself.
"Do you know a good place to examin this beast?" he asked her.
((I have a question: when are we going to introduce the other monster into the story?))