I couldnt just let Kate let the marshal wander the forest. After my conversation with Kate, I jumped into the branches of the trees and traced my way back to the scene of the raid.
"Marshall, what did you find?" I heard a fearful voice say, it was the captain of the local militia, as he mounted his horse beside the marshal.
"Our Night Hawks might be doves after all Captain."
There he was, confident and calm. He didnt look particularly shaken at all. Though it was funny that Kate had blown him a kiss before disappearing into the forest like a Dryad, the Marshal could not escape this night unscathed. I decided to go for a bit of a dramatic flair myself. Aiming for the captain's horse, I fell from the trees, landing on it and knocking the captain squarely on his back in the dust, winded and unable to rise for the time being.
The Marshal turned quickly and his sword was half out of its scabbard when I turned my own bow on him, guiding the horse with my knees. At this range, there was no missing.
"Play with fire, you shall get burned, Marshal," I said quietly, just loud enough for him to hear, the captain was struggling to his feet now, trying to get a grip on his weapon. I only had seconds to make my point, so I adjusted my aim and shot the Marshal in the right shoulder, and the contemptuous look on his face turned into a mask of pain and anger. No point in killing him, or they'd send someone even worse, but preventing the full use of his sword arm for a while would make enough of a point.
"Stay out of the woods if you know what's best for you," I added, before standing quickly on the back of the horse and jumping back into the branches of the trees.
Content in a job well done, I headed back to camp.
I was dressed in a simple, fairly shapeless brown dress, with an apron tied around my waist. My sturdy boots were replaced with a pair that looked like they'd walked a hundred years on rough terrain, and were nearly falling off my feet. I pushed the cart with it's covered cargo of goods to the center of the marketplace, Griever, the mute brother, at my side.
"I'm sure Kate described the drill to you," I said stiffly. Griever nodded, he seemed distracted, and I supposed it was with the addition of the half-dead man Rowan. There was a grudge between the two, but I would have rather ignored them both. With Griever, it was impossible. As I prepared the cart for the expected flood of villagers, the food they'd sent out a few nights ago having mostly run out by now, I wondered if Kate had some kind of motive for this, no, impossible. Griever had come the first time, and the story must stay the same or it would be exposed as a lie.
The majority of the morning was a pattern of handing out the food and being thanked by the villagers as they described the Marshal and Sheriff's cruelty. It was really the same thing day in day out, the people were too poor to feed themselves, and the guards killed or maimed them if they did not pay the sheriff his dues. There was a quick break for a small meal of bread and cheese, shared in silence between me and Griever, and then, even as business started up again, it quickly died away with the appearance of Marshal Corin Twynam and a fleet of his personal guard.
Griever continued to hand out food, as I prepared myself for the confrontation. I rummaged in my apron pocked for the piece of silver that paid for the tax, and held it up as the Marshal approached, looking him straight in the eye as I put the coin in his outstretched palm. His injured arm moved stiffly, but he hid the pain as he pocketed the coin.
"You have your silver, what else do you want?" I asked when he didn't move on.
Twynam didn't reply directly, he seemed to be recalling something. His staring made me uncomfortable, so, trying to block the nervousness rising in my stomach again, I turned back to the cart.
"If you would pardon me, then, sir. I must sell my wares to make a living. My brother is mute, and he cannot barter without me." Suddenly a strong hand, Twynam's left hand, grabbed my wrist and pulled me back to face him.
"Whatever happened to 'a woman should only look upon her father, brother or husband'?" The marshal growled. Kate had left out that little detail when she'd told me the story we had to stick to. I swallowed hard, what now?