Back again... sorry long wait... i have so many ideas and just so little time! but yeah!
Fresh soil mounded up over the new grave, the earth was soggy causing great clumps of mud to stick together making the swell of dirt even more daunting and seem that bit more weighty, pushing the body far beneath in a still, tight hold.
Hafwen stared down at the mound, before tarring her gaze away to the left, peering at the tree line that quickly grew into a dense wood, suddenly feeling a deep depth of nothing, she wasn't sad, nor was she angry, she's let herself slip into a daft recluse of ignorance. It felt better this way, to ignore what was true and live in pretend, but this did no good and it never would, it would turn her into a troubled spinster, forever muttering in her make believe world, before it helped her live again.
With a thick swallow she brought her eyes back to the grave, that deep depth of nothing instantly squeezing shut tight with hurt, anger, betrayal, sadness and loss. It was a wakening back to reality from a silly ignorance.
"Hafwen?" The voice of her aunt questioned delicately, placing a hand on her shoulder, the woman had been stepping very carefully after her sons had returned to the house much earlier in that day, the eldest explosive with a confused anger as he repeated the events and words spoken with his cousin.
The elder sister did not reply but she did inch her head lightly to the side to frown at the hand touching her before rolling her shoulder to release her from the contact, she wanted nothing to do with her aunt at the moment in time, even her uncle, Brac, seemed stand offish with his wife having heard her belief on the matter.
Debelzaq raised his head to the young woman, his hands clasping at the tattered holy book he kept, having said some words and put the body of Hafwen's father to rest, he did not want to pester her, nor did the two knights that stood off to the side of the broken family.
With a soft yet lengthy intake of breath Hafwen raised her eyes to the priest, her face unwilling to crack with the emotions her eyes so easily leaked.
"Thank you," She uttered quietly, but the man heard, giving a bob of his head in reply to her softly whispered words before she was off, walking at a slow pace as she passed the older grave to the right of her father's, her eyes captivated by the resting place of her mother, before her pace quickened as she headed for the village.
"Marburg, my dear," The stoutly old man spoke as he tinkered with a few jars.
"Are you sure?" Hafwen frowned, her fingers twisting into the skirts of her dress as she stared at the man of medicine in front of her.
He was an old man, firm in his beliefs and not one to take idle gossip and shenanigans of others visiting the village to heart, he was strong minded and wouldn't be swayed into believing anything or have any of his views changed by the talk of the town, but he had been shaken by the crude arrival of the witch hunters.
He was a trust worthy man and he had know Hafwen's family before she even came to be.
"They will take the women they have collected to the city to be tested by the priests, rewards will be given for any true witches found and they no doubt will be sent to the monastery for a trial," He spoke, still busying himself with his low stock.
"But… innocent women will not survive the tests they carry out to find a witch!" The dark haired woman instantly started to threat.
"The high priest has seen to changes, the tests are not the same as they once where a few years back" He pressed, looking over to the young woman before taking a quick glance out the window to check all was clear.
"So what of the innocent women?" She then whispered as the old man motioned her to hush.
"They will be released," He spoke quietly.
"How do you know of all this?" She then frowned lightly.
"I have heard things," he nodded.
"I didn't think you where one to listen to the gossip!" Hafwen crinkled her nose at the thought.
"There is a difference between hearing and listening dear!" The elderly man simply stated.
"Right, how long does it take to get to Marburg?" She then questioned, gnawing at her bottom lip.
"Planning a trip there?" he rose his brows as he cast a look towards the young woman who in turn said nothing.
"Half a day's ride if you're travelling by cart with a slow pony, like I do," he then went on to answer. "If you have a good horse and maintain a reasonable pace you'll more than likely manage it in a few hours." He watched as she nodded to what he was saying before he decided to add some more.
"The witch hunters wouldn't have arrived in the city yet, they spent a good day in our little village and there are three more on the way to Marburg, I have no doubt they would have stopped off, if you set off in the morning and rode strait to the city you will probably arrive before them, if not meet them on the road there," The old man corked a stray bottle and set it aside in his idle sounding chat while knowing he was adding fuel to the already burning fire with in Hafwen, helping to build her hope.
"Thank you," The elder sister nodded, as she turned to leave but pausing at the door before she looked back at the man, "And thank you for hearing what has been going on, but not listening to the lies," she spoke softly.
"Safe trip Hafwen, I'll stop by to see your father and mother while you are gone," He simply answered with a nod, leaving the young woman to excuse herself, closing the door to his little shop behind her with a soft click.
She took a deep breath to calm the sudden growth of nerves in her stomach, she felt almost excited that she still had so much hope at getting her little sister back and it seemed so simple in thought.
She strode on with purpose next, she needed to prepare and gather what she had, which was very little considering her house had been burnt down and everything along with it, but she needed some form of supplies, that and see needed to see her father's horses safe homes.
As she rounded the small Traven of the village, her foot steps slowed as she caught sound of her sisters name being spoken in a hushed tone.
Hafwen turned to the voices, etching closer as she came upon two of the young barmaids cleaning up a few flagons left outside.
"Well she did have that black cat," The one spoke, "You where right to voice your concerns,"
"I didn't think she was a-a… you know!" The second spoke, tucking away a strand of dirty blonde hair.
"A witch?" Hafwen decided to offer, her chest awfully tight with sudden wound up rage and both girls instantly shot up with stiff spines, spinning to face the older sister with eyes as wide as a wagon's wheels.
Both girls stuttered stupidly in fright, and they had good reason to be fearful, Hafwen was never one to look for confrontation, but today was going to be her first.
"You where supposed to be her friend Arlais!" Hafwen spoke in a deadly tone to the young blonde, causing her to shrink back as well as the other bar maid.
"I-I only said what I knew," She merely peeped in her defence.
"You knew nothing! You stupid, stupid girl!" The elder sister raged. "Rhoslyn's cat was not all black you dense, child! Her cat was black and white like any common cat! Now because of your stupid gossiping you have condemned an innocent person!" Hafwen's voice raised in pitch in a near screech at the end, the blonde Arlais shaking where she stood, clutching onto the other bar maid who was trying so desperately to shy away from the situation.
"I…I didn't know," She tried quietly.
"You forever have black crows out side your house! What do you say to that!" Hafwen then spoke, her brows in a deep scowl but tone brought down to something a bit calmer.
"They… they eat the seeds we plant," She then chirped in confusion.
"What if I said you are a witch and are feeding the birds of the devil!" The elder sister hissed.
"That's not true!" The blonde maid then frowned.
"No! It's not!" Hafwen clipped "Just like it is not true that Rhoslyn is a witch because her cat was mostly black!"
With that said Arlais bowed her head, her bottom lip trembling as she gave a sniffle.
"Don't cry and pity your self! You should feel shameful you opened your mouth to spread gossip you stupid child!" the elder sister showed no remorse for the younger woman and with her hands clenched dangerously tight she was off, storming back to her uncle's farm house.
Hafwen's head burnt and banged with so many more angry things to say, so much more just kept popping up the more she passed villagers who'd promptly stop their whispering at the mere sight of her.
With a groan she threw the battered leather saddle back onto the horse box before pressing the heels of her palms to her forehead, hoping to balance out the sudden pressure building in her head.
"Hafwen?" The voice that spoke was one of the new ones she'd started to recognise, but had to look up to figure out who it belonged to out of the three strangers she had met.
"Yes, sorry Sir, I was just," She motioned to the saddle after pulling her hands away from her face, before deciding on just falling quiet.
"Behmen," The tall man simply nodded as he stepped closer.
"Sorry?" Hafwen turned to him, her brows twitching down in a light confusion.
"Call me Behmen," He clarified, causing her to look away with a nod.
"Behmen…" She started, trying the name on her tongue and in the tone of voice that hinted at a question to come.
"Yes?" He decided to press as the young woman seemed to paused a little too long, and he watched as her gaze seemed to be caught by the lovely group of tall, lean, well bred horses tethered in the large open stall.
"Can I ask you something?" She turned her attention back to him, and to her question he simply nodded.
"How are your horses?" She questioned with a tilt of her head.
The knight was not taken back by the question, more confused by it as he passed a glance over to the short, stocky animals Debelzaq, Felson and himself had rode in.
"They are more suited for the farm," Hafwen spoke up as she glanced towards the horses in question, slowly glancing back to the tall man in hopes she hadn't offended.
"You are right, they are, but they where all we could find," He bobbed his head in a nod with his agreement.
"Perhaps, you'd like to trade?" Her voice was soft, hopeful and so quiet.
He looked towards her with a raise of a single brow, she was biting at her bottom lip, her eyes flicking from trying to keep eye contact with him, occasionally breaking to glance at random places and items around the barn, seeming almost as if her request was ridiculous and cheeky.
"Excuse me?" He frowned a little, wanting her to clarify to ensure he had heard right.
"Well, you could do with some better horses, your old horses would be more use on the farm, and it would really be doing me a favour if you took my father's," She explained, walking a few steps backwards towards her father's well bred horses, before half turning so she could motion to them.
When she didn't get a reply as soon as she would have liked, she started to wring her fingers together, gnawing at her bottom lip before she tried to explain her reasoning's.
"I…I don't really trust my family as much as I did," She started, not wanting to get too in-depth on what had happened. "So…I don't want to leave them here, plus I have to thank you in some way for what you did for me!" she then motioned towards him, her brows raising.
"Do you need good horses?" She questioned, again in that small hopeful voice.
"Yes, have you seen the farm animals we've had to ride!" The strong, deep voice of Felson sounded as he strode in the barn, stopping next to Behmen and setting his hands on his hips while leaning his weight more onto the one leg. "What you offering Lady?" he asked curtly with a nod causing Hafwen to straiten up and quickly untie one of the tall horses while Behmen shot his old friend a frown.
"What?" Felson opened his arms with a shrug at the other knight before facing forwards as Hafwen brought forwards a dark brown mare, her legs where long and slim, muscles flexing beautifully in her eager, energetic walk.
"Ah, there's a beaut!" He grinned, reaching a hand out to meet the nose of the mare, running his hand up the white blaze on her face before taking the lead rope Hafwen offered out to him.
"I'm asking you swap horses, take my father's and see them a good fair life," The elder sister looked to Felson as he guided the horses head up and ran a hand down it's strong neck.
She then turned her attention back to Behmen.
"Please," she tilted her head lightly before motioning to walk to the horses with her.
"They are good horses! They really are!" She spoke heading towards the black stallion and bringing the large steed round to face the knight, watching as he brought a hand up to smooth the beautiful horse.
"I trust my uncle, I know he wouldn't want to sell them, but they can't be left to stand in a barn," She shook her head lightly "and I know they wont work hard to look after them, and if they did sell them on, it would be to anyone, I want them to be with good people, that know how to look after them," she finished quietly.
"How do you know if we are the right people?" Behmen decided to challenge, rubbing the stallion's muzzle as he dipped his large head towards him.
"I can see he appreciates the beauty of a horse," She gave a ghost of a smile as she motioned over to Felson, causing Behmen to look back on his friend who was smoothing his hand down the back of the mare, feeling the strong muscles before he then checked the animals hooves, and with a small smile he turned back to the black stallion in front of him, sweeping some of it's glorious black forelock out of its face.
"You both do," she added quietly, catching the knights attention as he looked towards her, finding she had been watching him. "I think you'll be good for these horses," she added, holding the read rope out for him to take.
With a nod Behmen lifted his hand and took the rope offered to him and instantly Hafwen released the lead rope and took a step back.
"Thank you," she nodded before turning to the three remaining horses from her father's collection.
"Your other friend may have our chestnut mare!" She then declared, pointing to the horse stood next to two grey mares.
With a nod Behmen glanced over at the horse before questioning the other two.
"What of the grey horses?" he rose a brow.
"They come with me when I pick up my sister," Hafwen spoke as she walked around the knight and his new horse, giving the chestnut mare a fuss before moving to the two greys, smoothing her hand down the face of the lighter coloured of the two.
"This is Cloud," she smiled fondly as the light grey horse leaned into her touch, "My sister's horse, and then there is Avon," She ducked under Cloud's neck to come to stand next to the darker grey mare, "She's my horse, we weren't supposed to name them, but we fell in love with them and our father let us keep them," she smoothed the mares dark grey muzzle lovingly.
"The other three haven't been named, that's your choosing now," she nodded, looking up to the knight who had been watching her with interest.
"What?" she frowned lightly.
Behmen looked back at Felson before turning the black stallion and tying him back up before he walked slowly round to the other side of Hafwen's horse, lifting a hand and stroking the animal's neck.
"I know your not telling me everything," He stated, his eyes taking in the mixture of grey, white and black hairs mottling together on the horses neck, making up the dappled grey colour.
Instantly Hafwen bit her lip and looked down.
"Well, you haven't even asked about anything, most would badger and pester till they got every detail they wanted," she mumbled, twirling her finger into the wiry hair on the horse main.
"It's not my place, I have no right to pry," Behmen looked across at the young woman, who nodded at his words and looked down.
"Makes a nice change," she uttered to herself.
"Small villages are filled with some small minded people that make it their business to know everyone else's business," he started, pausing as he waited for her to raise her eyes back to him and when she did he continued. "I'm not going to press something you don't want to share," he shook his head lightly.
"Thank you," she nodded, again that weak, ghost of a smile lifting at the corners of her lips.
"This horse is beautiful!" Felson called, now sat atop the brown mare, walking her around the open area of the barn bare back.
"Take the horses as a thank you for helping me when you didn't have to and give them a good life," Hafwen nodded lightly.
"We will," Behmen agreed with a firm nod before watching the young woman wander off, out the barn.
And yeah... i find this one was more of a scene filler... coz i hate to just skip frame with out actually explaining how they got there and why this, that and the other has happened... etc etc etc.