"It's raining," Hawke sulked, her voice barely carrying over the steady drum of fat, wet drops. "Is it? I hadn't noticed," Fenris shot her a smirk from under his drooping hood. It was their fourth day out of West Hill, third day of unrelenting rain. It would be a third night spent cold and wet, huddled under a bush if they were lucky. Riese was holding up alright, though she looked pained as the rain soaked through her robes. She was wearing nearly every piece of clothing she owned, but it wasn't enough to stop the water or warm the skin.
It would have been nice to have picked up better traveling supplies, but delaying could have been deadly. There was no telling how fast the news from Kirkwall would spread through the city, nor whether they would be able to leave once it did. Still, seeing the mage so miserable made him wonder if he had been hasty. Just one hour or two to buy an oiled cloak and some heavy fleece would have made the trip less painful. Or it might have gotten them caught.
Fenris felt an itch between his shoulder blades and glanced back again, just to be sure no one was following. They hadn't seen so much as a cart since turning off the main route to Amaranthine the first day. The closest they had come to people was the occasional, distant farm. The second night of rain, Hawke had determined to sneak into a barn for the night, to sleep dry if nothing else. The farmer set dogs on them; great, big, angry mabari snarling and howling as they chased the two out of the fields and back onto the wagon track. Riese was furious but all Fenris could think was that at least the man had not been close enough to get a good look at them.
That had settled that - no farms, no barns, and on this road, no hope of an inn. Just muddy fields and streams, and the endless grey sky. "How far do you think we are from Lake Calenhad?" Fenris asked. The elf had a hard time navigating with the cloudy sky and no landmarks. They had started east and then turned south, but he had no idea if they were still going that direction. "I can check," Riese replied, stopping. She shut her eyes, focused for a moment and then sighed. "Still a long ways to the west of us. We shouldn't come anywhere near the lake or the mage's tower." "And there is really nothing else out here?" Hawke shrugged, "A few small towns for the banns to visit when they bother. Farms. I told you it would be empty." He nodded, waiting for her to move again. The mage sighed and started walking.
"There should be a village around here, someplace for the locals to meet and trade. Sheep and dogs and wheat, but not much else. We might be able to stop there though." Hawke looked so hopeful as she said it. "I don't know Riese. We aren't that far from West Hill, and bad news travels fast." She glared at him and motioned around them. "I don't think anything travels fast in this." The elf had to laugh, "Alright, you have a point." She grinned at him, water running down her face. "I have to be right every now and then. Law of averages." "We'll make a monument to it." "From mud?" Riese wrinkled her nose. "At least it would be something to look at out here," Fenris scooped a handful of the muck and then dropped it back to the ground. It made a horrible squelching sound as it rejoined the mass on the path.
"One statue is enough for my ego. It's a nice thought though." Hawke leaned over and gave him a kiss. "Mmm," he grabbed her around the hips and pulled her close for a longer one. It made him feel warm and flush to have her pressed against him, reminding him of their last night in a proper bed. "Oh! And what are we thinking about," she asked. "I just had a sudden wish for a nice bed with a roof over it," he grinned. "Only just now?" "Only just now . . . again," he laughed. "You know, if it wasn't for the mud, I'd be up for some very improper suggestions," Riese nibbled at her lip, as if seriously considering. "Nothing you can magic up for us, hm?" Fenris meant it as a joke, but the idea seemed to fascinate Hawke.
"I've thought about it, but I don't think I can do things like that. I mean . . . I can summon cold and storm, but I've never tried to dismiss it. Seems like it should be just the reverse of the other though." The mage's voice dropped to a mumble. "What? You aren't planning on trying something, are you?" Hawke squeezed his hand, "No, no. Not right now anyway. Even if I would really love just one dry night." Fenris sighed with relief. You could never tell what Riese was planning and he didn't want to get taken by surprise. An untried spell in the middle of nowhere could be terrible for a number of reasons.
Just as that thought hit Fenris, he had a very bad feeling. Beside him, Hawke stopped, reaching for her staff. She must have noticed it too. Whatever it was. The staff was tangled in her cloak, and she cursed quietly as she tried to get it out of the strap that held it and out from under her hood. It seemed prudent went they left the city to hide it as much as possible, but something made him feel it would be better to make it easier to reach from now on. The elf looked at the surrounding wheat fields, realizing just how much that tall grass could hide. He didn't see a damned thing but he couldn't shake the feeling of danger.
Riese finally got the top of her staff tugged out from under the back of her hood, though now her head was exposed to the rain. She held the staff in front of her, gripped tightly. "Something feels very wrong here." Fenris nodded mutely, his own hand already sitting atop his sword pommel. "Maybe we're paranoid?" Hawke asked, straining for some indication of what they sensed. "Maybe."
"We should keep moving anyway. This isn't a very good spot," the mage said softly. Fenris grunted in agreement, letting Riese take the lead. That way if something jumped out in front of them, she could cast without fear of catching him in the blast.
The sky began to darken as day edged toward night, the clouds losing their dull glow with each passing moment. The feeling of being watched did not wane. If anything, it felt stronger as the darkness grew. Still, Fenris could see nothing. No sign of a watcher, human or otherwise. Just the sound of rain and the squelching of boots, and an endless vista of rolling hills covered in wet, heavy wheat. Hawke muttered under her breath and the tip of her staff began to emit a dull, blue glow. "Is that safe?" he asked, worried someone would spot her for a mage.
"Safer than being out here in the dark," Riese answered grimly. The elf had to agree. As the last bit of sunlight slid beneath the horizon, the sense of danger intensified. The hairs on his neck stood, skin prickling with the feeling of hungry eyes. The primal part of his mind urged him to run, but Fenris kept his steps steady and even as his senses strained for some sign of what menaced them. Every patch of deep shadow took on a deadly cast, dark shapes twisted out of true. Every splash of water, each rustle in the grass wound Fenris tighter as he wondered what moment would bring the trip to a bloody halt.
"I would kill to see a farm right now," Hawke said softly. "Any place to put our backs to a wall," the elf agreed. "Should we stop?" The mage asked as she looked at the tiny patch of illuminated mud around them, and then off into the darkness. Fenris shook his head, "No . . . not yet anyway. We will try to find better ground. And some idea what is stalking us." Riese nodded, the light of her staff growing brighter for a moment. "I haven't felt like this since that first time in the deep roads." "It will be alright," he told her, loosening his sword from it's scabbard. It slid from under their packs easily, light for it's size, the edge a pale, glowing ribbon. "It will," she nodded, though he couldn't tell if she was trying to reassure him or just agreeing.
The rain turned into a fine mist as the evening wore on, the drops small and cold, clinging to skin and clothes alike. It turned the air thick and heavy and made it even harder to see. It was much quieter without the steady patter of rainfall and the fog muted everything. In the dense silence around them, Fenris could hear something rustling the wheat to their right. It was stealthy and slow, unnatural. "Do you hear -" Hawke began to ask, but cut off at his tense glare. He motioned for her to stop, holding his sword out toward the direction of the sound. When they stopped, it stopped too. The elf held there a moment, waiting to see if it would move again. After several anxiety ridden heartbeats, nothing.
"Should I . . . do something?" Riese asked, considering what would work best. She settled on a glyph, sketching an image in the air. On the ground, the shape appeared as if pressed into the mud, the odd angles unnatural and hard to look at. It was a good idea - something that wouldn't draw attention but might afford them a few moments to orient if the person attacked. She nodded in satisfaction, a grim smile turning the corners of her lips up. "That will hold it." "Him," Fenris said, voice almost silent. "Whoever it is, they're smart. And careful." Hawke nodded, staring out toward the direction of the sound, her brow furrowed.
It could be anyone out there, but Fenris felt it was likely some bandit. They were not followed from West Hill - he was certain of that much. He wished their stalker would either go away or attack them, but it didn't seem like they would oblige him. The bandit had been following them for hours and nothing had changed. Fenris was weary of being stalked. "Come out and face us!" It came out more growl than shout, the markings on his body catching fire as his temper got the better of him. The elf almost didn't hear the heavy breath behind him in time to turn. He caught a glimpse of something moving at the edge of their light, the slight waving of wheat as it passed out of sight.
"Damn you!" Fenris looked to Riese, "Did you see him?" "Not yet," she whispered. "He's afraid of us," the elf said tersely. It wasn't a complete truth. Likely the bandit was just waiting on a perfect moment when they were tired and distracted. "I wish he would just come out. I'm gripping my staff so hard it hurts," the mage sighed. Fenris agreed wholeheartedly, his own weapon held in a white-knuckled grip. He felt an itch to be moving, fighting, something! He started forward on the path, "Come on. It's no use to sit here."
Hawke followed, glancing to the right and left nervously at each step. Fenris didn't blame her at all. He held his sword point forward, at the ready. Moon light sifted down from breaks between the clouds, turning patches of the mist bright white. It made them even blinder to whatever pursued them. They didn't see the stalker as the hours passed, but he was never far. Crackles and the soft squelch of footsteps hounded them. Sometimes the elf thought he heard a breath, a sigh or sharp intake. It was so faint that he could not say.
To make matters worse, he was beginning to tire. They had at least another six hours or so to dawn, but his arms were beginning to ache from holding his sword out constantly, and his legs, already tired from a long trek, trembled beneath him. Fenris worried that he wouldn't have the strength to protect Hawke if their stalker didn't show himself soon. Riese shuffled along ahead of him, stumbling every few steps, the light on her staff flickering. "Do we need to stop," he asked, concerned but reluctant. "No. It's not safe. I can manage." She gave him a small smile. "I am just tired. My feet hurt and I'm wet and cold and hungry . . . you can't be much better."
The elf stopped and patted her shoulder, leaning in for a quick kiss. "We will find some place to rest soon. There has to be a barn or a tree or something." Fenris kept his doubts hidden as he said it, thinking in this mess they could be a handspan from a homestead and never know it. As he straightened, a form shot out of the misty darkness beside them. It was huge and red eyed, covered in patchy, rough fur with some kind of hard carapace on its back and chest. It knocked him to the ground, claws gouging him as it bounded back in to the night. A wolf, Fenris thought. But had it had armor?
Riese let loose an arcane bolt, but it hit nothing, the creature too fast for her attack. She helped Fenris to his feet. "What kind of void cursed wolf was that?" "One tainted by the blight," the mage replied, eyes narrowing. "We shouldn't be anywhere near the blighted lands though. They didn't come so far north, I thought." The elf slid a hand over his chest, feeling warm blood trickle down his belly. "I'll be ready for it next time." Riese nodded, turning back to tend his wounds. She began to cast a basic healing when a snarl behind her interrupted. Fenris jerked the mage to the side just in time to miss a slavering, snapping, tooth filled maw. She was too surprised to react, caught mid-spell by the creature.
"Two tainted wolves," the elf sighed. "One is bad enough," Hawke frowned. She started to heal him again, but Fenris shook his head. "It's shallow. We can take care of it once we find shelter." The mage obviously disagreed but didn't try to cast again. She turned to lead the way, light trembling with the slight shake in her hands. Fenris followed, shocked into alertness by the pain and suddenness of the attack. He wasn't afraid, though he supposed fear would be wiser. Mostly, he thought, I'm just angry. These bastards are herding us like rabbits. With some rest and better light, the wolves wouldn't even be a threat, and that just added insult to injury.
Above the clouds, the stars slid across the sky heading west in slow progress, their light too soft to pierce the darkness below or give succor to the travelers beset by beasts. They could only count the time by the rapid beating of their hearts, and the steady tromp of boot steps on a rain soaked trail.
Riese tried to pick her feet up higher as she walked, doing her best not to stumble. She was tired, exhausted even, but she refused to give in to the feeling. They just had to make it a little further, she thought. Just to the next farm or til sunrise, neither of which could be terribly far away. "Just til the sun comes up," she whispered. "Hmmm?" Fenris cocked his head, eyes scanning the fields. "Nothing," she shrugged. "Just talking to myself." The elf didn't reply, too tired to bother being witty.
She turned her gaze back to the path, glad she could still keep it lit. This night put her in mind of being trapped in the deep roads so many years ago, stuck in the dark, walking and walking . . . Darkspawn at every turn, and no hope for an end other than death. If I can live through that, Riese thought, I can survive anything. This is just a small challenge. A kink in our path.
Behind her, Fenris shouted a warning, swinging his blade a second too late as the blasted creature ran at her. Its wide mouth caught her elbow when she turned, razor sharp teeth shredding cloth and skin as easily as a dagger sliced butter. Hawke screamed, unable to hold it in as pain lanced up her arm. She did manage to keep her staff, but the light went out. In the darkness around them a chorus of howls answered her cry, excited by the confirmation of wounded prey. More than two, Riese thought as the beast dashed away. The mage let loose a torrent of flame by instinct, the ritual phrases hissed between clenched teeth.
The sodden wheat refused to catch fire, though her spell did open a blackened tear in the field beside her. Of the wolf, there was no sign. She hoped heartily that it was scorched and burning as it fled. Fenris dashed a little way into the smouldering mud and then stopped. "I'm not fast enough to catch it." "We should stay together anyhow," Hawke replied, taking a moment to heal her arm. She didn't bother to fix it completely, not wanting to use her mana or risk focusing too much on the spell. Just enough to stop bleeding. Cold prickled her skin in the wake of the pain, sharp and unpleasant. At least I still have an arm to feel cold, she chided herself.
Fenris growled unhappily, his tattoos going dim as he returned to her. "Are you alright?" She showed the elf her arm, the wound now scabbed over, the skin too pale around it. He frowned, "I can't protect you from what I can't see, damn it. This is ridiculous." Riese gave a tired nod, "We need to get away, maybe come at them when we are rested and have light. Don't punish yourself over it." Fenris grunted in what might have been agreement before moving on, this time at the lead. Hawke didn't think it mattered which of them was up front. The wolves could come from any side at any time. That in mind, she wearily cast her shield and relit her staff, hoping she could focus enough to maintain the spells as they walked.
The glimmering sphere was barely in place before they were attacked again, three wolves darting at them from the back and sides, snapping at their legs. Fenris took another blow, wolf tearing at the fabric of his trousers, his red blood mixing with mud beneath their feet. He managed not to fall, and held off the second beast that attacked him. The wolf that came after Hawke collided with her shield, yelping as she got off an arcane bolt. It wasn't much, but it was easily the fastest spell she had. The bolt hit solidly, crackling along the thing's bony spine, arcing between those odd plates that jutted out behind the wolf's shoulders. She began to cast again as it ran, but her spell was too slow. Wheat and mud squelched beneath the fist of the maker, but the blight wolves got out unscathed.
Riese cursed softly, giving up her attack to send healing into Fenris, though he didn't ask for it and didn't wait. The elf stumbled ahead, his steps lengthening as his leg healed. "Thank you," he said between clenched teeth. He had to be half frozen by now, she thought, following. It was hard to keep moving, but Hawke found refuge in memories of all the times she and Fenris had faced danger together. They were always fighting something, struggling to live. She wasn't sure what it would be like to live for years without someone trying to kill them. Fenris without a blood spattered scowl, no use for his armor, and those lyrium tattoos dim with disuse.
The mage didn't have long to drift off in thoughts of her lover as the blighted wolves attacked again. They rushed in, snarling, though this time Fenris held them off. All three went for the elf, and it was only luck that he managed to dodge in time, his foot sliding awkwardly on the path. His sweeping blade caught the flank of one wolf, laying it open before the creature could snap at him. The smell of its blood was horrible, rank and rotting. It oozed from the wound, spattering the ground around it before the beast fled. Fenris regained his balance, then lunged forward to stab at another wolf as the last of the trio went for his hamstring. It missed, and was rewarded for the attack with a boot to the face. Neither wolf was interested in a pitched fight, and they dashed away again.
Hawke tried to cast, this time pulling the wolves in, but they were too strong for the spell. "Maker's breath," she sighed, angry with herself for the waste. At this rate, she would barely be able to keep her light and shield going, nevermind attacking the beasts. Fenris gave a grim smile, happy to have hurt them finally, but he held his sword low, point wavering near the ground. Neither of them were used to this kind of extended struggle and it was wearing through the last of their reserves.
It went on and on like that, with the two travelers making little headway before the wolves darted in again, wounding and running. Fenris bled from torn skin, waving away Hawke's attempts to heal him unless it was vital. She could tell he was exhausted and numb from the cold. Losing blood didn't help, but there was little she could do even with her healing. Just close the wound and limit the damage. They both needed rest. Riese wondered what time it was, and whether they were really any closer to a farm or village.
It felt at times as if they had not moved, just walked in place as the tainted wolves circled and attacked. She knew it wasn't true, but the feeling drained her as much as using her magic did. If this kept up, they would die. You couldn't fight the cold, and if they stopped long enough to get a proper fire going, the wolves would take them. The only hope was morning.
Hawke clung to thoughts of the dawn, as if by force of will she could bring the sun up over the eastern horizon. Stubbornly, the sun refused to rise and time passed like ice flowing down a frozen river. Her thoughts turned just as sluggish with each step, the effort to stay awake and moving required every ounce of focus. The shield around her flickered weakly and then her light went out.
Fuller Tillman was an old man. He knew it every morning when his bones creaked and his joints popped. He was reminded of the fact each time he got on his horse to ride the fences, or tried to haul a bale of hay to the stables. So he wasn't surprised at all that a week in the saddle left him feeling twenty years older and as sore as a sulky barmaid. It had been his intention on the ride out to stop once the blasted wolves he followed were clear of his land, but when he managed to kill one - lucky shot, and he didn't mind admitting it - he determined to off the rest of the pack one by one. The rain and wet had not helped him one bit in this task, mucking up the glue on his arrows, ruining his bow string. But he couldn't just let it go.
He told himself it was because the blasted critters would come back, kill more sheep, maybe go after another of his shepherds . . . truth was, he couldn't let the maker-be-damned things beat him. Fuller had lost several times in his life. Lost his wife to a plague, lost his son to the Orlesians, and a daughter to some Antivan trader; he lost games of chance on a regular basis, and crops and flocks aplenty. But Fuller did not lose a challenge. No sir-ree. Expecially not to blasted wolves, no matter how ugly and mean they might be.
So it was that he crested a hill in the middle of a dark and foggy night and caught sight of an odd pair besieged by his quarry. A woman and an elf in the middle of a wagon track headed south. The fog around them had thinned, and wisps of smoke curled in the air. The two were lit with a strange blue glow, nothin' natural about it. He was so surprised that he pulled Hasp up short. The horse tossed his head but kept quiet, one wide eye watching toward those snarling bastards as they dug into the travelers. Fuller patted the horse fondly and slid off the saddle, giving the bridle a little tug. "You hold here, Hasp. If you run off'n leave me again, I'll toss every bit o' sweet feed to the sheep." His mount snorted softly and ducked his head, so Fuller let go.
Below them, the strangers were doing their best to light the fields on fire, and Fuller just shook his head at the Maker-damned foolishness of it. They might scorch some fur and run the bastards off aways. Wolves bein' wolves, they'd come back to their weekend prey in a night or so and finish them then. Fuller turned back to Hasp with a sigh, realizing he would have to do something.
After fumbling in his saddlebag a few minutes, he found his waxed bow string and quiver of arrows, protected in an oiled pouch. Triple wrapped. Fuller cursed it roundly as he slid them out, hoping the string stayed dry enough to do some good. Once he'd gotten the bow set, string tight and twanging, he made his way a little down the hill. The farmer positioned himself carefully, pulling the bow taut and waited for his shot to come. Most people didn't realize a good shot was half luck, half training, and half timing. Good thing Fuller wasn't most people.
The blight wolves circled, baying and lunging at the pair. The elf looked worse for wear, all tore up and bloodied. The woman, the mage, Fuller corrected himself, seemed alright. Probably that weird glow around her. He wondered idly if it was something a shepherd could use. Outfit 'em with some glow and waaalaaa! Safe from wolves . . . didn't matter though. Probably had to be a mage to use it. And mages didn't make good shepherds. Too damn flighty.
One of the wolves turned, body whipping around to lunge at the pair again. Fuller could see its eye, a spot of darkness sunken in to the matted fur. He loosed the shot just as the travelers went dark, the blue glow dying like a snuffed candle. In the night, the wolves howled, and though he wasn't sure, Fuller told himself it sounded like just two voices and not three. He nocked another arrow, holding still and listening.
Behind him, Hasp snorted and pawed at the ground, ears pinned back against his head. Blasted horse was a coward, but he had good sense. Actin' like that was a sign that one of them wolves was sneaking close. Real close. It was probably - he loosed again as the wolf jumped at him from a tight clump of weeds and wheat. Fuller's arrow took it in the throat, though the bastard kept snapping as it flew at him, body going limp just before it hit the ground.
"Two down, Hasp. Thanks for the warning." His horse paid him no mind, big eyes watching the darkness. Down below, he heard the two travelers speaking in harsh, worried tones. Couldn't make out a blasted word. He considered shouting to them, ease their minds, but there was still one damn wolf. Fuller started creeping down the hill. He didn't have time to wait for the wolf to attack. His string and arrows were getting wetter every second, and that meant he was very nearly disarmed.
"Where did they go?" The woman asked. She had a funny accent, Ferelden, but not. At least she didn't sound Orlesian. The elf grunted. Fuller wasn't sure from his last look at the man if he could even talk now. Once ya hit a certain amount ah torn up, you really couldn't make words. He got closer, held still. Somewhere nearby, the wheat shifted. Fuller turned at the movement and shot off another arrow. A yelp answered the shot; a hit then. It didn't matter much. The wolf lunged through the tall grass, mouth stretched wide. Damned thing smelled worse than the bottom side of a wild nug. Fuller didn't have time to fire off another arrow, and he'd left his work knife with Hasp. Much good it did him there.
Well, thought Fuller, staring into dark, fetid maw, there are worse ways to go. None he could think of just right then, but there were. The old man was pretty sure this would hurt, but he was determined to die smiling. He grinned at the beast, ready for the end. To his left, a blur of ragged blue light ruined the moment.
The elf slammed into the wolf, both crashing into Fuller's shoulder. All three fell to the ground. The impact pushed the breath right out of the old man along with a hearty curse. The elf was on top the wolf, arm sticking into the blasted thing's side. He wasn't real sure how the elf managed to put his hand into the wolf, but right then he didn't much care. The beast struggled, a growling moan rolling from peeled back lips. It didn't look ready to die yet.
Fuller was pretty sure suffocating under it was a worse way to go then having his head snapped off. He had half a mind to tell the Maker-be-damned travelers that, but he was a bit short on breath and opening his jaw would just give him a mouth full of fur and nastiness. So much for dying with a smile on my face, he thought. The blasted wolf bucked violently, hind legs shoving in to Fuller's belly, and on top of it the elf pushed down and in. How long did it take to crush a man? Shoulda been done with it by now, the farmer thought.
Finally, the wolf twitched and let out one last howl, the sound sharp and desperate, filled with pain. It sounded almost human, that cry. And then it cut off, collapsed. Atop him. Fuller tried to shove at it, arms pushing up as best her could, but it wouldn't budge. The elf was probably perched up top cleaning his ears instead jumping down to help. Blasted elf. Blasted wolf. Couldn't just let him die with a bit of dignity. At least I beat those bastards, Fuller thought. No one could say old Fuller Tillman got beat by a pack of mangy wolves. Assuming anyone at home found out what had happened to him. Maybe the travelers would tell them. Probably take all the credit too. Blast.
He closed his eyes, head swimming, heart pounding. And then the weight was gone. Fuller opened his eyes to see the elf standing over him and looking as tired as a field hand at harvest. "Are you ok?" Blasted elf had a funny accent too, though it might just be his ringing ears. "Is he dead?" The woman asked from somewhere out of sight. "Maybe." The elf leaned closer, poking at Fuller. "Get yer Maker-be-damned hands off me, blast it!" Fuller pushed himself off the ground with a groan. The elf obliging backed up. He looked warily at the old man, about as tame as the dead wolf had been. Fuller humphed.
"Don't be scared none, damn it. I'm just sore." Fuller held out a hand. "Name's Tillman. Fuller Tillman. From Sheeplick?" The elf looked lost. "It's an introduction. Now you say your name." The old man waited, rolling his shoulder slightly and wincing. It'd be a time before he got back to shearing and herding. The elf didn't say anything, but the woman - the mage - stepped over. "You can call me R- Rachel." R-rachel, thought Fuller. More like l-liar. Probably on the run from some templars. Didn't matter to him none. He shook her hand; well, gripped it more like. Too sore to shake anything. The elf finally spoke up, "And I am Fenrik. Uh . . . of Tevinter." The farmer gae a nod. "See? That wasn't hard. Now, walk a bit up that hill and tell Hasp it's safe to come on."
The elf raised an eyebrow but did as he was told. The woman watched Fuller carefully. What, did she think he was gonna jump on her? She wasn't that pretty. And anyway, Fuller wasn't that kind of man. "You two headed south?" R-rachel nodded, "We were. I had no idea the taint stretched so far in though. We might go west instead or . . . I don't know." She sounded so tired and so lost. Reminded him a bit of his daughter too, the way she said it. He decided right then he'd see these two blasted idjits to Sheeplick before they got themselves killed out here. Damn kids shouldn't be traveling on their own like this, mage or no.
Hasp whickered softly behind him. Fuller turned to see the elf following his horse and looking confused. "Thanks, Fenrik. Blasted horse woulda made me hike back up to him otherwise." The farmer's mount snorted, butting his chest with its nose. Nearly pushed him over. "Yeah, yeah, I'm alive. now quit pushing!" Hasp backed up a pace, and then set to eyeballing the girl. "That's R-rachel, and the one what got you was Fenrik. And this, this is Hasp."
The mage blinked, "Uh, nice to meet you?" His horse gave her a good sniff. The elf looked at her, "I'm supposed to introduce myself to a - an animal?" She nodded. Fenrik huffed then gave a real neat looking bow, like he was in a royal court. Fuller had never seen anything like it, but he knew a hint of sarcasm when it bit him. "Fenrik. Of Tevinter. It's so good to meet you, Hasp." The horse wasn't as quick as Fuller and thought the boy meant it. He gave the elf a good sniff and mouthed a piece of his hair before Fenrik straightened out.
"Good 'nough. Now, you two follow me. There's a shanty this way, not much more'n a shack but we can sleep dry." He swung up into the saddle giving another groan. That was what he got for adding injury to age. The travelers gave him the hairy eye, suspicious. "Look, ya can come with or sleep in the blasted fog. Can't say I didn't offer." R-rachel smiled. It was, thought Fuller, a very nice smile. The elf grunted but when Hasp started moving, they both followed.