Griever toyed with the ring on his finger as he walked down the trail that led to Grimmshaw. It wasn’t the closest town, but it was the one that he felt he might be most welcome in, given the White Boar’s past relations with the place. He might even establish a base of operations for his plans, but that was doubtful. Grimmshaw people were friendly, but didn’t openly defy the capitol of Lighthaven, Solvilla.
‘Jadencaer is in hibernation, in a sense,’ Bash explained, without being asked of course, ‘So he won’t answer you or anyone that can’t Bond him. Pity, though. I would have liked to talked with him and ask him about how he came to bond Gallag.’
“I’m sure he would ask you the same thing about me,” Griever mused, not caring really. He was more concerned with how the ring looked. Unlike Bash, who was a simple metal band, Jaden took the form of a golden ring with a large ruby embedded in it – a treasure for any highwayman or bandit.
‘Why not change his shape?’
“I can do that?” Griever asked, unsure of whether the Gear was teasing him or something. He didn’t put it past Bash.
‘No teasing, I swear. But you should be able to change him just like me,’ Bash explained, ‘it’ll just be harder seeing as he’s not bonded to you.’
Griever decided to, once again, humor the Gear and try it.
At first, nothing happened, but slowly Griever watched the ring turn into a band of dull metal. The change was not like with Bash, who changed instantly and seemed to just appear as his target form, but more slow and elaborate almost. Like watching ice melt or fire consume paper. It was fascinating for some reason, but Griever couldn’t explain why.
When the Gear had formed into the band, he placed it on his arm with Bash. Unlike Bash, it didn’t cling to the skin or even stick. It just dangled down to Griever’s hand like a regular band would. It was sort of refreshing to know he could actually remove the thing.
‘If you could remove me,’ Bash commented in an annoyed tone, ‘you would have several holes in you right now. You’re welcome!’
“Calm down,” Griever grumbled, “We’re going to be in Grimmshaw soon, so I can’t have you trying to make conversation with me. The town is skittish enough without having a traveler talking to himself.”
‘A good point, but why don’t you just talk to me with your thoughts? I can read them.’
Griever growled at that. “And I would rather forget that fact.”
‘Denial, as you have said, is a dangerous thing.’ The gear was being coy?
“Yes,” Griever admitted, “but this is more like wanting to ignore something unbelievably annoying.”
Bash sighed and probably would have shook his head, had he had one. ‘And here I was thinking we were starting to get along.’
Griever grunted in amusement. “Keep dreaming. I might be stuck with you, but it’s a thousand years too early for-“
Leaves crunched in several places in the surrounding forest, mostly hidden by the animal noises. Of course, the calls that were made were from no animals. Had Griever been anyone but him, he might have not heard the multiple men walking through the woods toward him. Well, today was going to be another interesting day, Griever thought with not just a little annoyance. For three days in a row, SOMETHING had to fucking happen. On the plus side, losing everyone he had grown to care about for the last ten years was hard to beat.
Was he being heartless or numb right now?
‘I believe you are focused on an objective,’ Bash explained in the way he seemed to enjoy, ‘as you are not over the loss, but you are not losing yourself to it either. This points to extreme focus that only someone with an unwavering will would be capable of.’
“Was that a compliment?” Griever growled, careful to keep his voice low and feet moving. He was already at a disadvantage, but he would be in a worse situation if he stopped or acted like he knew the bandits were there. Maybe they would send someone to collect some made up ‘toll’ or something instead of attack?
‘Of course not,’ Bash replied, bemused, ‘I simply called you stubborn in an elegant way.’
Griever smiled in spite of himself. “I think I AM starting to like you, Bash,” he told the Gear. “Even though it’s mostly due to your power.”
Before the Gear could repond, a man in dark leather clothing – probably padded as well – stepped onto the path. He had a hood on, hiding all but a little of his blonde hair, and a face most women would consider handsome. The most alarming sight was the black cloak that fell behind him. It could be a coincidence, but…
Griever had to be careful with this man.
“May I help you?” Griever asked, making sure to sound confident. Bandits – which was hopefully what this man was – usually made use of caution when dealing with a confident victim. Though it was usually just false bravado or an act, sometimes a lone man was more trouble than his worth.
The man, to his credit, did not seem fazed in the least. “You might be able to,” he said, his voice deep and powerful. He pulled a piece of parchment from a satchel on his back and presented it. A woman’s face – young, with auburn hair and strong features – stared back from the paper. “I am looking for this woman. She is called Katherine Twynam, but often goes by Bloody Kate.”