There is no help out here and if Hazelon were to send his little bronze, it would only bring dragonriders and guards and as it stands now… they would not be on his side. The holdless men make short work of the packs tossed to them by Hazelon and he secures himself a little more time among them by so readily handing everything over, including the coveted runner. A runner that may cause a scuffle later, when they reach the main and larger camps and someone else takes a fancy to the beast. The holdless have ‘rules’ but they’re flimsy at best and often resort to a primal form of pecking order. Strong over the weak. Hazelon would remember this and it’s apparent that during the course of their wandering through the forest that Lyreh is top of the pack — for now. That may change when they regroup with the others and it will remain to be seen if Hazelon can equally as impress and convince whoever is “leader” there.

They walk for candlemarks, moving stealthily and carefully through the underbrush and trees and any tracks or signs they make are cautiously removed or covered. It’d take a very sharp and knowledgeable eye to see that they’d been through this way. The sun is beginning to lower onwards towards nightfall and still they do not stop, even as the ground becomes steeper and more uneven, filled with deep ravines and thicker, older forests. They’re nearing a mountain range now, but do not go too high into the hills of the base, skirting along its edges. Somewhere in the distance is a low thrumming beat and for a moment Lyreh pauses, as do some of the men who watch her. Her scowl deepens and she swears. “Drums. Either the Stonehaven is dead or he’s alive but they’re alerted now. We’ve got to get the camp moved. Come on!” And they must be closer, as Lyreh hurries forwards this time and within a few paces, Hazelon will see the familiar signs of a well concealed camp. But are they holdless, like so many that followed Laris and his delusions? Or has Hazelon signed his fate in with a den of Renegades?

Silence has been Hazelon’s watchword throughout the trek through the forest. He’ll keep his mouth shut and any opinions to himself. Right now is not where he needs to assert any bit of superiority. Rather, he’ll spend the miles in thinking- developing the new persona he’ll need to stay alive. The truth, obviously, wasn’t an option here anymore than it had been in the weyr. Passivity would get him killed as useless. Aggression might be respected, but only so long as it was directed at the right person. When the drums ring out he lifts his head to gaze backwards, “Aye, they’ll be comin’ soon enough.” His simple reply rolls out and he picks up the pace alongside the trio. As the concealed camp draws closer he drops back, just a pace behind Lyreh, and uses her to block the front and his body the back, allowing him to adjust the knife that he has not allowed to drop from his fingers. Eyes move constantly, checking out the concealments which have been created. Three years is a long stretch from this life, but not so much that Hazelon is able to forget the signs of someone who knows what they are doing. Surely this all couldn’t be Lyreh’s work. The thought of another Laris camp sends an inward shiver down his spine, though he’ll match their pace right into the thick of it, every muscle ready to dart into action if his welcome into the camp is less than enthusiastic.

It is not all of Lyreh’s work and Hazelon will see that soon enough too. Lyreh is not the leader and when they step into the actual camp, the young teen may realize then that these are no unorganized holdless scratching out a meagre living. The men and the women, seated at the heart of the camp or going about their own tasks are a completely different breed. To untrained eyes, they DO look holdless. To those who are or were holdless, they’d know that these people are not. They’re worse, even if their outward appearances don’t quite show it. This group is an assorted bunch but they’re organized and the moment Lyreh and the other men return, all eyes are on them. All eyes then turn to Hazelon and the runner and there’s a shift in the atmosphere about the camp, one that can be almost felt it’s so thick. What little conversation had been going on dies away and after tense seconds pass, one of the older men stands. He’d been sitting by the small, meagre fire (less smoke, the better) and when he is at his full height it’s obvious that THIS man is the “leader”. He’s a brute, heavy muscle and bone, heavy featured and tough. A man who has seen many rough Turns and survived them all. “Who’s this?” he growls to Lyreh, brandishing a wicked looking blade that he’d been honing with a whetstone until their arrival. His blue-grey eyes seem to pierce and bore into Hazelon, distrustful and disliking the teen. “Found ‘im out on the edges. He’s from the Laris’ group, like myself. Brought the traitor Setha with ‘im and these fools…” She jerks her head to the men who have the runner now and Hazelon’s previous possessions. “… decided to exact revenge on ‘im for his pretty little stallion. Only he’s Harper now ‘n they only managed to stick ‘im like a pin cushion and he’s escaped. Now they’re huntin’ us.” ‘They’ needing no explanation, of course and the reaction about the camp is bad. Men and women alike surge to their feet, various curses and oaths being tossed and anger turning towards Lyreh, the men and Hazelon.

Hazelon’s dark eyes will meet the older man’s squarely, no hint of the fear under his skin rising to the surface. The only clue he gives is the tightening of his hand upon the smooth wood of his bow, and his fingers curling even tighter upon the hidden knife. The distrust and dislike is mutual, and will probably translate itself. He musters up the courage and when he speaks his voice is rough, but clear, “Your Hap,” using the name that had been muttered more than once, “was killin’ my ticket out of the weyr, so I dug an arrow into his neck.” No remorse shown for the death of the man whose blood still speckles Hazelon’s boots. “Your girl,” and he nods at Lyreh, “figured to save somethin’ of the mess and be bringin’ me round with her to take that idiot’s place.” Perhaps he’s spoken too much. He pulls back abruptly from his steely words and stands mute. Would he take it as the half truth it was?

“Ustrr, we can’t be bothered with the whelp!” One of the men grumble from the side of the ‘leader’, one who now has a name. The other one is silence with a cold look and something growled and then Ustrr is shifting his weight, tapping the dull side of his blade against a craggy, scarred and bearded cheek. His long hair has more grey than brown, parts of it braided, the left left in a tangled and matted mess. His clothing is mismatched but sturdy and some of it is made of boiled leather in some sad, crude sort of padded armor. A sign of his position, for certain. He stands there, his eyes still boring into Hazelon as he speaks, a thick brow lifting when he mentions killing Hep. He snorts and then chuckles gruffly. “Didn’t like Hep anyhow. Man was a whiner and squealed like a girl if you got ‘im cornered. Not surprised he let a whelp like you take ‘im down and not without a single scratch on your scrawny body.” Ustrr smirks, lowering his blade to his side as he walks over to where Hazelon stands and begins to circle him, as if to inspect him and deem him acceptable. Maybe Hazelon should roll over and expose his throat? He’ll use the flat of his blade at times to push at the young teen, pressing it to his shoulders and shoving. Testing. The others are still tearing down all evidence of the camp, but their eyes are watching this familiar ritual, some likely scenting blood and already wagering the youth as dead. “My girl?” Ustrr grunts, looking to Lyreh and then back to Hazelon before he breaks into a harsh barking laughter that’s echoed by the other men and a few snickers from the women, which has the young woman swearing and storming off. “Lyreh ain’t my girl, boy but yer welcomed to her if you’ve got the spine for it. Just be careful she don’t neuter you. You ain’t no Hep, but you’ll do. If y’can keep up and prove yer worth. We don’t take well to slackers ‘n layabouts.” Ustrr comes to stand in front of Hazelon again, his blade now sheathed though one of his big hands grips his shoulder tightly, fingers digging in hard. His head lowers, more on level now with that of the teen’s until they’re eye to eye and the renegade band leader is well within his personal space. “And we especially do not like traitors. I’ll take you in, but if I so much as catch a whiff of turncloak off your miserable hide…” He makes a gesture with his finger across his throat, his blue-grey eyes glinting with malice and his grin cruel as he steps back. “Y’heard Lyreh! We’re a hunted lot now but let’s see ‘em try to find us! Get movin’! We head north!”

While the cruel man makes his jibes and tests Hazelon’s resolve, the teenager stands utterly still. The turns of blending in and not being noticed stand him in good place when it comes to not reacting to anything. All the while one single refrain spins though his head. Not dying. And getting the hell away. He’s no Laris, and I’m not ten. This time, he’ll do something other than sit still and wait. Eyes snap upwards when the hand digs into his corner. “Lyreh’s in your camp, neh?” He’ll counter, his new façade calling for nothing less then utter cheek. “Recon that makes her yours jus’ right. Anythin’ that piece of garbage could’ve done I can be doin’ just as well. And I ain’t got nothin’ to be returnin’ to. Weyr used me like a drudge ‘n never was trustin’ me.” Slowly his words slip back into the twang he developed in the camp- anything but the more civilized tones he had learned in the weyr. He’ll stumble backwards just a half-step as the force of that hand upon his shoulder pushes him till he can dig his heels back in. With the attention off of him he’ll look around, flashing back to abrupt movements of another camp almost like this one, but with more children crying and making a nuisance of themselves. There is more organization here, and a sense of combined purpose. Everyone has a job and has snapped to it at Ustrr’s yell. A snap decision made, Hazelon will move forward to kick sand over the fire, snuffing it out without a single bit of smoke managing to rise further then the bridge of his nose before dispelling.

Ustrr regards Hazelon with another one of those piercing looks as he pauses in striding forwards, turning to face the youth again. “Bit of a sharp tongue on you, eh boy?” he remarks, sounding amused and yet there is warning laced in that gruff, growled voice. Best be minding it, if he wants to keep it is what the man’s continued stare and frown imply. Don’t push luck too far! There’s a snort of digust and then Ustrr spits to the ground when Hazelon mentions the ‘Weyr’. “Course they don’t. Weyr’s ain’t for the like of us and ain’t ever been. If you were part of Laris’ holdless ragtag, this here is better for ya. But we’ll see if y’can survive.” He’s in the big leagues now? Ustrr strides off then, leaving Hazelon on his own and unguarded, unprotected. Lyreh’s abandoned him, disappearing among the group to work. It’s true, there are no children here and the youngest of them looks to be either a Turn older or younger than Hazelon himself, though the youth spurns him and doesn’t even spare him a single glance. Any who DO look his way are likely sizing him up. They’re all focused on moving now, but when they reach their bolt hole for the night… then the real danger comes. Ustrr likely turns a blind eye to scuffles among his band and no one will come to Hazelon’s aid if some of the lower echelon men decide to pick a fight with the teen. He’s the newcomer and he’ll have to find his niche.

Activity sweeps Hazelon into the heart of the camp and keeps him busy. It doesn’t take long for him to fall into old rhythms, even as he is jostled, jabed, and cursed at when he missteps. Almost frightenly easy is it for the teen to step back into the persona of the holdless, curses he hasn’t used anywhere but his mind falling like rain upon those who curse at him. Sharp elbows knock into him, and more than one he is sent sprawling to the ground. Throughout he grits his teeth, holds tightly to his concealed knife and drags himself back to his feet. Daylight grinds on as everyone works to make the camp into a simple bit of forest again- and though there is no way to completely erase their presence the band comes close enough to making it happen. Something nags at the edge of Hazelon’s mind and he pauses in his attempt to pick up the last of the human debris to look up and around. His eyes settle on the runner who, in its unease at the mass of grabbing humanity around it, has dug deep holes in the turf. He licks his lip for a moment, then casts his eyes around. The next movement might get him killed, knocked around, or put him in better standing. He calculates the risk then goes for it. Spotting the massive Ustrr he’ll shove his way through the band towards him. “Ustrr. That runner what they brung back with me. It’s gonna be leavin’ marks what are a dead give-away to the riders, ‘n cannot be hidden like one’ve us. Want me to be killin it?”
Ustrr turns away from the two men who he was speaking with. Men who are both equal in size and girth as himself and just as rough and brutal. He does not look pleased to be interrupted by Hazelon and yet he doesn’t lash out and throttle the youth and solely because what he says does ring true. As pretty as the runner is and useful, it’ll only hinder them. “Pity to waste a fine animal,” he grunts, eyeing Hazelon and yet not entirely disapproving. “Kill it if you think it’s best or let the animal go. Could set it off course and maybe throw ‘em off our trail for a bit.” And that will be the last of that, as he turns away and there is a silently implied warning that Ustrr does not wish to be disturbed until they’re well on their way. “Get your sorry behinds movin’! Any of you laggin’ and you’ll regret it, mark my word!” His words can be heard shouting through the trees and in short order the band is on the move, cloaking their paths as they go. Hazelon will have to hurry to deal with the runner and let it loose or risk falling too far behind and one of the men looking to curry favor may nix him off and claim the teen was trying to escape.

Hurry his does, breaking into a run the second Ustrr gives his okay, already in motion before he can even finish his phrase. He reaches the runner the same moment another man does, one who is much more interested in using the runner then disposing of it. “You won’t be wantin’ to do that. ‘s gonna be bringin them riders right onto our heads.” Hazelon reaches up to grab the reins before the other man can, and jerks the already nervous horse away. Though inches shorter than the man making the initial grab, Hazelon stands firm.

“You little bastard,” the man spits out, murder already in his voice. “You’re looking to be taking that runner and dashing off aren’t you?” A wicked knife is pulled as he advances on Hazelon. Hazelon drops the reins to dance backwards from the sharp edges. It is the sound of Ustrr’s voice that saves him from being murdered right then as the man hesitates, looking around at everyone that is pouring out and away. Soon there are only a few left, him and Hazelon among their number. With that distraction Hazelon pulls his knife and slits the runners neck in one smooth motion, gaining another layer of blood, this one along his clothing. Cursing the man will turn his back on the runner that falls to the loam, motionless and Haze will be left standing. This, the murder of the runner hits him harder than that of the man he’d left only candlemarks before with an arrow in his neck. His curses now are for Rayathess, and his idiocy which had left Hazelon in the last place he wanted to be. He cannot hesitate for long though. He knows what will happen if they catch him slacking, and it could easily be his blood upon the floor of the forest next.

So much for that runner! Poor thing. Done is done however and some of the other men may not question the youth so much now. Anyone who’d just slay a good animal like that may not be someone to trifle with. Others are still not quite sold on Hazelon’s acceptance into the band. Just seems too… easy. Unfortunately for the teen, this is where he’ll remain for some time. Escape is not an option and Ustrr sets a brutal pace to move by and yet those following him seem to know these forests like the back of their hands. For those who don’t, it’s a trial and no one will help Hazelon if he strays or blunders or ends up caught in the marshes they cross or worse… the bogs. It may not be the men or women who kill him but the land itself. On and on they’ll continue, even when nightfall arrives and the moons rise, casting just enough light to move by. Ustrr takes this advantage and keeps pushing them forwards. No pause for rest as they drift steadily northward and towards the High Reachian boarder. They don’t cross it and if they do, it’s brief. Ustrr is looking to keep them skirting along the edge, only going southward when the mountains force them to do so as he steadily moves them west. By the time dawn rises, they’ve covered several miles and only then does he let his men rest. No camp is made, they just drop where they are and make the best of it.

Hazelon doesn’t look a thing like the clean drudge that had left the weyr just that morning. The blood has dried upon his clothing, wher eit hasn't ribbed in places when the trees reach out to snag his clothing. Not once does he complain though, even when someone shoves him right into a thorny bush and he ends up bleeding himself, skin not at all use to the roughness after the easy living of the weyr. He keeps his mouth shut though, as he pulls himself from the bush and pauses just a moment to take stock of the nasty cuts. Quickly enough he loses track of where they are in relationship to the weyr, and worry begins to build. If he was able to use the darkness of night to escape, he would be heading blind into the forest- a dangerous proposition, even if he was able to get away with his bow. As they continue to march into the darkness he discards the chance to slip away under the cover of darkness. When finally the band slows and men starts to drop Hazelon's wariness arches up, preventing him from gaining any real rest. Instead he'll lean against a tree and breathe heavily, waiting for the next rock to fall.