After returning the girl to her family, and while we were still at the tavern, a caravan driver was present to hear the tale of how we had brought the child home. He wanted to hire us to protect his caravan. For some reason, the children all looked to me to make the decision, though I have been perfectly clear that I've no interest in meddling in the affairs of others without good reason. They were insistent on knowing my thoughts though, so I cast the runes to see whether it was fated that we go or stay. I drew three stones from my pouch and cast them to the table. They suggested that to accept the task would be in keeping with the greater good, that we could offer strength against attack and that each of us would grow, personally, from such an endeavor. The children were all manner of excited over this reading and clamored to go. Sensing an opportunity to ply my trade and perhaps earn enough coin to retire comfortably, I agreed to go along as well.
Brienne accompanied me to my cottage in the wood to collect a few things for travel, including my seldom used pavilion. A small tent, though tall, it serves as a basically private audience chamber and seals out the light of the sun while I am reading the fortunes of others. The illusion of privacy and the dim light, as well as the various bits and baubles that I keep hung inside lend a mysterious air to my work and encourage the superstitious to believe my words. Showmanship is important.
While there, Brienne asked me to read her fortune, and though I thought it silly that she should ask, having been so reluctant to make use of my abilities a few years ago when we first met, I obliged her. As I turned over the cards, I chose to do a complicated reading. Ten cards, rather than my customary three, each depicting one of the children going on the caravan and myself. Even that peculiar bodyguard of Seth's was shown, but then each card after that showed to be the Queen. There is only one Queen in my deck, and as I continued to turn them over, they became more and more singed until finally, the last card burst into flame and burned my deck to ashes.
I was shaken, disturbed and very angry, because the fates are not often that destructive and now I'd have to make a new set of cards. It takes a very long time to do so, and my artistic talents leave a bit to be desired. Brienne was visibly distressed as well, and asked leave to go and pray, which I allowed, but outside. There will be no summoning of the gods in this house, thank you very much. When she was finished, she shared that her god had spoken to her and said that he would send someone else to investigate the probable subject of the burned Queens. I thought it an odd thing, that she is not as unimportant within their church as I'd thought, which made me equally curious about her change of heart toward my speaking for the spirits.
Come to find out, that young lady has some deep rooted personal issues.
We traveled for a week or two, coming once to a town and staying the night. I set up the pavilion and made some coin before we continued on. The trip was reasonably calm, save the brief skirmish against some bandits. They were quickly cut down and we continued on, leaving their corpses as a warning to others.
When we arrived in the town of XXXXXXX, we again went to stay at the inn, but the innkeeper was very shy and nervous, saying that there was no room for us. He kept looking toward a small gang of toughs eating in the corner, and implored us not to kill anyone. I thought that odd, but had little time to deliberate on it before the toughs got up, left without paying and Seth felt the need to interfere with them. The fight turned lethal nearly immediately, but it was over even more quickly. The innkeeper looked spooked, and a moment later we found the reason.
A robed man entered the inn, feet not touching the floor, as if he were too good for walking. He called himself the Carter, but I'd heard his real name before. Kalarel. He'd been ousted from his seat at the Wizard Academy some years ago for crimes that don't bear repeating in polite company. He thanks ed the innkeeper, handing him some crimson gold coins and then turned to us and paid one of the children some of the same. A fee for the bodies, he called it. Then a passel of goblins came bustling in and carried the bodies away.
Come to find out, these toughs were a part of some bandits calling themselves the Rabid hounds. After some investigation, we captured one of them, killing several in the process. He spilled his guts metaphorically, then did so literally, when Brienne ran his through with that shiny new sword of hers. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. From all I'd heard about her, she was a stand-up woman and cared more about preserving life and taking it.
I could see in her eyes that she knew she'd acted hastily. She ended up going to the temple to make an atonement a bit later.
Regardless, the information the hound had given us, led to the creation of a plan to end their hold on the city, and the hostage situation that the mayor found himself in. We ended up killing quite a few of them, though most lived and were carted off to prison. I'm sure they'll be put to death anyway, som I'm not sure why Brienne was so insistent that we not end any more of their lives than needful. Probably some penance or the like she placed on herself.
Afterward, the children wanted to deal with the Carter. Permanently, I gather. I don't really care, but the world probably would be better off without him. So we toddled off to gather information on his lair from a woodsman who'd seen it once. It eventually led to a black tower of living parts. Quite disgusting, really. We tromped our way in and although we met with some resistance, we've nearly cleared a path to the old wizard. One hopes the children have what it takes to beard a lion in his den.