Kate came back with Griever and an empty food cart late in the afternoon. I had spent a good portion of the day organizing the hunting, gathering and preparation of food both for the villagers and for the Night Hawks. Upon noticing Griever, I clenched my teeth, the uneasiness not going away. Sometimes I wanted to have been born a man,I'd been raised by her father only, and it was only upon his death that I'd been thrust into a woman's lot in life, which is nothing, for I had no dowry, and could not own property. The sheriff's men had stolen my home, and burnt it to the ground. Someday, I would take that cottage back, woman or not.
"Dinner is being prepared, and I'll take some night raiders out after dark," I told Kate, before climbing the nearest tree to keep an eye on the camp.
I stood in the branches of the tree over looking the road, watching. I could already see the supply wagon's convoy, the light from the torches they held to light the way. The torches were never a good idea in the woods at night. I blew twice into a small wooden flute, the sound was like an owl's call, that was the signal. The chirrup of a nightingale came floating back from a nearby tree. The band was ready. I couldn't see them very well as they crouched among the branches and undergrowth, but I knew they were there with me, waiting to strike.
The convoy drew closer and I blew into the flute once more, just once, the signal to be completely still and silent. Then my thoughts turned to the conversation I'd had with Kate, about Griever and going into town to "sell" the stolen goods to the peasants. It was always a risky game to play, and taking along a stranger was practically suicide. Griever made me nervous. His timing was just too perfect, he was just too well trained. I couldnt help but think of a hidden motive. I'd keep an eye on that one for sure. Kate too, she was just too trusting of handsome young men.
The supply was directly below my branch now, and I jumped down onto it, balancing myself on what little free space there was on the wagon without crushing any of the supplies. It was a well practiced move and I landed with barely a thump. Dropping the flute into a pocket of my cloak, I made a loud screeching animal call with my voice, and the soldiers, already spooked by the dark forest, nearly jumped out of their armor as they whirled to face me, away from the threatening women lurking in the trees. Within seconds they'd swarmed over the wagon and dispatched the soldiers, leaving one or two to live and spread the tale of the mysterious and frightening night hawks. I had designed a special costume for night raids, after I'd heard the name a few times, so that each woman wore a mask that had feathers formed like wings sweeping up over their ears on each side. The masks served two purposes. Their identities were hidden and the masks made them look inhuman, more fae then female. Kate had teased me for it, but it seemed to do the trick, and the Night Hawk legend was going strong.
The soldiers fled, but one of the women managed to calm the horses before they bolted. The contents were quickly gathered up from the wagon, then I and several others moved the wagon to the side of the road, cutting the horses loose and tipping it on its side, just inside the trees, so if you werent looking you didnt see it. The bodies of the dead soldiers were disposed of, and then my band of Raiders and I headed back to camp.