The month passed by peacefully. Shiira kept herself busy in the shop, but when she had the chance, the girl would retreat to the backwoods and practice her hand with a knife. More unintentionally than not, she would also silently find her way behind people in conversation; sometimes she succeeded, and sometimes she didn’t, but it was all for the purpose of building skill and finesse.
In the meantime, Milligan took care of his pigs and and improving his singing in the bar. Gerrick continued his work as the town guard, but also increased his efforts to woo sweet Melissa, the barmaid and Mr. Lars’s daughter. He had competition, and seemed to win using money. He was fortunate, indeed, to have received some from Dwalin. Speaking of the dwarf, he spent his month the way he usually spent them—in the shop or in the tavern. Sister Aquilas had apparently commissioned him to make her a hammer—one to protect the town and her church as she brought down Iomedae’s judgement upon wrongdoers. Mr. Brown was always up to something, too, but he mostly kept to himself. Some speculated he had some… sketchy motives, but no one could be quite sure.
The day of the harvest festival marked a month’s passing the night of the full moon. Shiira, concerned about her…condition, searched out the healer before the festivities began. The healer had good news, but Shiira was still uncomfortable to be around so many people. More uncomfortable than normal, anyway.
Staying as far from the crowd as possible, but still indulging, Shiira sat down along the outskirts of festivities where she was offered a drink. She wasn’t going to deny it—not that she had the confidence to anyway. She didn’t particularly care for the taste of alcohol, nor the sense of intoxication it brought, but it wasn’t too bad in small quantities. Sadly, small quantities were enough to do its evil.
Sister Aquilas noticed sometime that afternoon that some of the townsfolk had gone missing—Gerrick’s fiancee included. She went to tell Gerrick the news, and he began to look around for the missing people among the excitement of travelling performers and merchants. The only thing he discovered was that the band of minstrels who had come to celebrate was down in numbers…and their wagon was missing. Mary and Gerrick set off to follow the tracks heading south, when at the gates they were flagged down by the rest of the performers. “Have you seen our wagon?” one asked. Before Sister Aquilas got the chance to respond, a burst of colors shot across their faces.
[I’m not exactly sure how Dwalin and Farmer Rye got into their combat. If someone wants to detail that for me, I’d love to add it in.]
Shiira awoke to the sound of wheels over dirt and her face vibrating with each jolt of the wagon. She was tied up, and beside her Mad Milligan was stirred awake by the Healer. They looked at each other and worked out of the ropes. Shiira made a quick inventory of the daggers she had hidden on herself before the festivities. She always had at least two on her at any given time, but she knew that with celebrations came trouble, and if there was trouble, she wanted to be able to help. Now there was trouble, and whoever tied her up was unfortunate enough to have missed the carefully concealed knives.
Shiira and Milligan began untying the others, but as Milligan finished untying the healer, a floorboard creaked loudly beneath his foot. A woman opened the flap from out front and noticed the two. “We’ve got some loose ones!”
Reacting quickly, Shiira took the knife she was holding and tossed it at the woman. Or at least, tried to. The dagger slipped out of her hand and fell through the wagon, landing on the road and bouncing in the dust. Shiira looked back at it for just a moment, her face turning bright red from embarrassment, and mourned the loss of Cashmir—promising to herself that she’d make sure to retrieve it.
The woman attempted to hit Milligan with her sap, but was unsuccessful, and Milligan responded by catching her in a grapple. Shiira got in a good hit, but the woman broke free again. At this point, the driver had pulled to the side and joined the combat, though he only successfully landed a few hits on either of the two. At some point, Milligan needed a weapon, so Shiira lent him one of hers. It didn’t go on for very long, as the driver was quickly felled and the woman ran away, saying how she wasn’t getting paid enough to do the job.
Under the influence of so much adrenaline, Shiira never exactly realized the situation she was in until now. She and the rest of them had been drugged—and carried off by slave traders. She thought on this—and the strange, almost charming competence of Mad Milligan—as she and the healer freed the rest of the captured and stabilized the brigand. On the matter of Milligan, the fact that he was bestowed with such luck and the ability to inspire such confidence was apparently to be kept secret. For this reason or that, Mad Milligan wished to continue being “mad.” This was even more apparent when, out of the blue, he was able to cast a spell of healing and asked Shiira not to share the knowledge with anyone else.
This logic alluded the girl. Why would anyone wish to be seen as the town fool and village idiot? It was no lie that Milligan usually irked even the most sane people with just his voice, but this new side of him: a side that only Shiira was really privy to…
Shiira’s face turned bright red. Well, it was already bright red the moment Milligan even started speaking to her. She was so focused on the fight that his request caught her unawares from the get-go. The emotions accompanying it, however, were something entirely different from mere surprise and embarrassment, yet the girl couldn’t quite understand what they were…or at least, chose to pay them no mind.
After a short while, Gerrick, Brown, Dwalin, and Mary showed up to make sure everything was alright. They were clued into the situation and, Farmer Rye went to take care of the straggler woman. Eventually, the faulty party were tied up and returned to the village. Shiira made sure to pick up Cashmir on the way back.
The slave traders didn’t say much, but they didn’t really have to. The woman that had run away spilled every ounce of information to lighten her own sentence. The brewer agreed to lace the mead with a soporific so he could get Marissa—Gerrick’s fiancee—in one way or another. They apparently had some kind of deal going on, but, well, the brewer was deader than a doornail now. As for the woman, she was only a hired hand, so she felt no ounce of pity for the ones she ratted out. All in all, justice was dealt, and Farmer Rye got himself a brewery.