Fort Region - Northern Wilderness
Forest and marshland to the far north of Fort Weyr and close to the High Reaches territory border.

“He’s getting away!” one of them shouts, gesturing towards Rayathess. “Did you /see/ that runner, Lyreh?” The other of the two has his bow trained on Hazelon, arrow notched and at the ready. He says nothing, he just glances at Lyreh, then back to Hazelon, tightening the bow string. “He killed Hep.”

Hazelon doesn’t even glance at the body that he steps towards, boots dipping into his blood as he kicks the bow away from the dead man just in case. His eyes have gone totally cold. Already another arrow rests upon the string in Hazelon’s hands, pointing right at the female who pegs his name correctly. “Aye. And I’ll be killin’ her if you’re gonna be lettin’ any more arrows fly.” His voice is perfectly pitched to carry just far enough that the men can hear without being a yell. Outward ice matches not the inward monologue that carries itself though Hazelon’s mind. There he is aware of the blood pooling at his feet as the man twitches away his last breath. There he realizes he has finally crossed the threshold from passive watcher to full on participant in murder. What difference did it make that he did it in the defense of others? All of his efforts of the past turns crumble like bits of plaster, shattering deep into Hazelon’s heart. Pushing these thoughts aside, he can examine his shattered world later- when the possibility of it ending is less likely. “If you aren’t lookin’ to be caught up, you might be steppin’ on Lyreh, with them,” he jerks a nod at the pair still alive. “That runner will be hittin’ the hold sooner or later and they’ll come lookin’ for who put holes in the Stonehaven.”

Rayathess rides on though ‘ride’ could be considered a loose term. He has the reins in hand, but he’s allowing the stallion to just run and not focused on the ‘where’. His firelizards follow and all three broadcast their bonded’s pain and fear to Cala as they follow him and protect him, agitated as they are by the attack. He’s badly wounded and even with the runner at full gallop, he can feel them draining his strength and somewhere in the back of his head he’s aware that he has to find help soon or he’ll die out here on the road. Another part of him wonders what fate has in store for Hazelon or if the teen escaped and there may be a moment of guilt for abandoning him there. What choice did he have? Then his mind is back on the pain and he urges his runner forwards, trying to steer him now onto a main roadway. One that will hopefully lead to a hold…

Lyreh spits a curse at the man who spoke up. “You started this over his shardin’ runner, you half-wit? Y’know there’s better ways than murderin’ a man!” Too late now. As to how she feels that Rayathess was just stuck with arrows like a living pin cushion, it’s hard to tell behind that scowl she wears and she barely casts a glance to her fallen “comrade” Hep. “And you’re lucky to still be livin’ too though I’d be happy to fix that for you?” Her bow is still raised, the arrow notched and now she holds it in a threatening gesture to the other man. “I said shut up. And you,” Now she fixes Hazelon with her piercing stare. “What were you doing with him?” Questions will have to wait, however, as something the teen says has the holdless woman swearing. Stonehaven. “Idiots.” she curses them again. “He’s right. Set— Rayathess is Stonehaven. You’ve got as as good as marked now. We’ve got to move before they find him and come down on our heads. I for one am NOT going to be caught by Fort!”

The remaining men stand, wavering a bit beneath Lyreh’s orders. They are silent for a moment, but keep their bows drawn, now both on Hazelon. “What about him?” one of them asks, jerking his head to Hazelon. “We take him or kill him?”

In his hands the bow doesn’t waiver, remaining fixed firmly on Lyreh’s heart. If the men shoot him at least he’ll take out the most likely brains of this small band, and have that to take back with him. . “I was owin’ his brother a favor.” Not to mention the price he was charging Rayathess to have his past expunged. “Not lettin’ him be killed talkin’ to you was in the deal.” When they talk of taking Hazelon with him he’ll step backwards away from the dead body and towards the trees, not once lowing that bow. The odds are not at all in his favor, and he begins to weigh the consequences of shooting Lyreh after all.

Lyreh is trying to keep her eye on Hazelon but on the men as well. “Looks like you failed at your part of the bargain, huh?” she snaps at the young teen and when he begins to try and slip back into the trees, she calls out. “An where do you think yer goin’?” Which doesn’t need an answer since it’s a cloaked warning. Don’t go anywhere! Or else. “We take ‘im. Since he killed Hep, he can take his place and do his share of the work. Can’t you, boy?” A life for a life, though for Hazelon, it won’t mean his death. Yet.

On the road, Rayathess is weakening and the stallion’s gallop is slowing as his rider no longer so insistently urges him forwards and the sense of ‘danger’ is being left behind. He’s not mindful of where he is guiding the runner either and the beast does stray from the road at times, only to veer back and time drags on and on. At least, it feels like forever to Rayathess, as he finds it harder and harder to focus, to think and to stay conscious. By the time his runner is spotted by the workers out in the fields, he’s already starting to slip unconscious, listing dangerously forwards in the saddle, his one side soaked in blood and his leg as well. The only wound that doesn’t seem as severe and yet looks just as bad is the arrow in his back. Fate has it that the hold they approach is not the one where Garan will be waiting, but the one Laurali had been posted too for a few days with her Journeyman and where Ezra is now.

In the woods, the two remaining men keep their arrows on Hazelon, waiting to see what he’ll decide. Die now, or maybe die later.

Choices to make. Hazelon’s footfalls freeze as the warning comes through clean and clear to Hazelon. His eyes flick to where Rayathess’ runner has disappeared. Finally, knowing that this isn’t an option he’ll drop his bow to his side, allowing the string to slacken though he doesn’t put the arrow away. “Aye. Been lookin’ to be leavin’ the weyr. Ain’t no common drudge like they’ve been usin’ me. Got a runner that way.” He raises an eyebrow at Lyreh, will she allow her men to be shooting him if he leads them to the runner?

Lyreh eyes Hazelon suspiciously and she is silent for a long moment. Just enough to make the teen squirm perhaps before she snorts and lowers her bow. He’s convinced her, for now and she jerks her chin towards the trees. “Show us. Maybe your runner will be sufficient ‘pay’ too for the damage you’ve caused…” She makes another gesture with her hand. Move! One that she repeats to the men around her. “Come on. We need to put as much distance between here and us as we can before nightfall.”

Any squirming is done well under Hazelon’s skin, too good of an actor is he to allow anything but calm acceptance to rise to the surface. Nonchalance attempts to curl upon his shoulders as he shrugs them. The arrow is pulled and put back into the quiver before he turns on a heel and moves into the foreset. A gamble, to turn his back onto the dangerous holdless, but one which Hazelon is willing to take if it’ll give him back his life. Into the foliage he disappears making no attempt to lose those who follow. He’ll move quickly though, and he’s back to where he left his runner swiftly enough. The sparse bags on the back of the horse are untied, and so long as he gets there before the trio, he’ll slip the thin knife from within up his sleeve. Better to be safe than sorry. “That firelizard of Raya’s will be leadin them right back here, and the blood will be a dead give away. You have a place to hole up while they’re lookin’ for us?” He’ll turn to look firmly at Lyreh, will she keep her dogs in control?

Lyreh may look like she is in control, but is she really? In this little splinter group, she is and right now she is top-dog and has acquired herself a new beta. Of course it’s stupid to turn one’s back to them, but Hazelon is safe so long as Lyreh says so and he will be able to walk back to that runner. They’ll follow and he’ll be aware of it. He’ll get his knife too, unseen and unnoticed, since they seem focused more on the runner and what meagre supplies may be with it. “This animal branded?” Lyreh asks dryly, only to grimace as Hazelon reminds her on how little time they have. She clicks her tongue in frustration. “Yeah, we do and we’re moving out now ‘n fast! Keep pace boy. You hold us up…” And he’s dead. That much is obvious and without another word, Lyreh starts forwards, the other men drifting away too and all are watching Hazelon carefully to see if the teen does follow. He’ll have no choice, being too closely guarded now. Later… later that may wane as he gains their trust but he’s an ‘outsider’ right now.

“That’ll be what you’ll have to be figurin’ out, aye?” Hazelon’s words come out flippant, but it is all a cover. He’ll toss those bags to the two so they can paw through them, snorting at their eagerness. He’d almost forgotten how little the holdless had that the small items in the bags would be so interesting. As Lyreh leads the way he’ll follow them off into the forest, leaving the runner in their hands and making sure that knife remains hidden. There’s always the chance one of them will turn on him, and he’ll end up with more blood on his hands tonight. Any concern he might hold for Rayathess is burried deep down, and he sends a plea up to his small bronze- stay hidden. It doesn’t occur to him to send him for help- who would help him?