(122-04-12) Forest Forensics

Malcolm rides his ridiculously pretty piebald destrier, a beast full of mischief and high spirits. The murder camp is well off the path to the North, but still on Hightower lands. In a clearing is a pavilion, made of black and yellow cloth, striped vertically. Beyond, further North, a low stone cairn can be seen through the trees.

Lord Hightower has sent Camillo with Lady Hellan and Ser Malcolkm to collect a dead Beesbury Bastard killed for attacking women.

Crows caw and dip around the curve of the tent. Flies are buzzing and the unmistakable smell of a dead thing lying in the sun fills the clearing.

This is an endeavour for which Lady Hellan allows Ser Malcolm to take the lead, reversing roles — to a point. She rides behind him on a dark, sturdy, and altogether less pretty horse than his. She's left her warm, fur-trimmed cloak behind, riding instead in her plain gown, which pulls up easily to reveal practical boots to latch into the stirrups. She's a natural rider, but stiffer than she ought to be in the saddle. She has been a silent travel companion, but this is no leisure hunt they're on. When she does speak, a mumbling about "ridiculous stripes" is all that might be heard over the thump of slowing hooves.

Camillo is somewhat grim, but calm enough about the detail he's been sent out on. He's got a couple of rags slung over one shoulder in case things get messy. He's in plain clothes, but he's always in plain clothes.

Malcolm pretends not to hear comments that he assumes are about his hair and not the Beesbury tent. He is oddly relaxed about the whole thing for a man who might be dead soon if the Beesburies react badly. Mal has the dead man's charger on a lead with heavy canvass rolled up for the body. He dismounts, his tone an expression turning grim now, and there is anger noticeably lurking under his surface calm clearly directed at the murderer, not his companions or the dead woman. "Best you verify the wine skins he likely used to keep her too drunk to flee and her torn clothes in the tent. Will you be wanting to uncover her so you can see what he did to her if you need to swear to it, Camillo? She's over a week dead by now, so we'll me needing your clothe strips."

Hellan remains on her mount, edging around the outskirts of the camp and giving a close inspection to the scene from her tall point-of-view. No squeamishness assaults her; however smell and telltale sight of ominously buzzing flies may try, she is unfazed, only somber.

Camillo nods once to Malcolm. "I had better be thorough, if there's enough of her left," he says solemnly. For an ordinary servant, he doesn't seem too worried about encountering half-rotted dead bodies.

The dead man is large and armoured, black-bearded and somewhat shabby looking. He wears the colours of House Beesbury, but reversed the beehives are black on a yellow field. He's in half armour, and wears a gauntlet on one hand, likely for hawking. He has a large sword, and looks to have had his throat cut so forceful the blade half took his head off. Ser Malcom dismounts and heads for the caern and starts lifting off the stones. "I came back later to cover her. I thought it beast to get the woman and abused beasts back to town, but it didn't seem right leaving her to the elements…." He clearly did not feel the same about the Beesbury bastard, "He was in armour with a heavy sword and we were light armed and dressed for riding. I had to make it quick lest he kill the woman and us both. With the breast plate and no helmet or gorget, the neck is the fastest way to end a fight."

"And so you did," Hellan assesses, craning her neck to get a good and gory view of the slashed neck and decomposing body. "You either have a strong arm or a sharp blade." Flatly spoken though it is, it nears a compliment.

"Will we bring the woman's body back, too, Ser Malcolm?" Camillo asks quietly, eyes on the Beesbury corpse. He makes no comment on how efficiently the throat has been slashed. He's quick to come to Ser Malcolm's aid an shifting the rocks of the caern. "Or shall we leave the caern as it is? Or bury her?"

Malcolm grins crookedly at Lady Hellan, "A bit of both. Outside of tourney I favour a Braavosi rapier which I keep very sharp for the protection of my Starks and I spend at least five hours a day in practice when not employed for their defense. It is apt to give a man a strong arm and a sure aim… From her garb and complexion, I suspect she was of the north, kidnapped away and brought here against her will. I think she'd be best buried out here in the woods, though perhaps not so close to the place of her violation." He looks to the Northern Lady, "What think you? I still know so little of your religion and customs though I am eager to learn. Where would you bury her, if she were of your people?"

"You're right she should be buried," Hellan answers, her voice gaining an ounce of reverence. "As to where… if she were truly from the North, she could be buried beneath the weirwood tree, but we don't know who she is for certain, or how she came to be in the clutches of this vile man and we can't very well ask her, can we. Then, all things considered," she sighs in the slain woman's direction, "perhaps she deserves the weirwood."

Camillo looks at his feet while Malcolm describes his weapon and training regimen, and doesn't voice any opinion yet on the place of the girl's interment. For surely Hellan is more qualified than he.

Malcolm is indeed strong, from the way he lifts the rocks. He's wiry rather than bulky, the muscle build through swimming, acrobatic training, and long endurance drills with the sword, "The only one close sleeps on the Isle of ravens North of the Citadel. I have ferried my lord there. We could come back for her if you would like." His distress at having failed this stranger is evident in his voice, "I… what was done to her… she deserves whatever we can give her, I think. I am only sorry we came days to late to have changed her fate."

"You did what you could; I doubt my gods nor yours can fault you for that. That's the nature of fate, if you believe in it," Hellan answers, and though there's a distant annoyance over the concept in her tone, it vanishes as she says soberly, "The Old Gods keep her now."

Camillo goes on shifting rocks. He puts one of the rags to his nose when the smell becomes intense, since his face is coming quite close with the corpse while he's unloading the rocks.

Malcolm echoes quietly, "The Old Gods keep her now." Being Sothron, he likely follows the faith of the Seven, but there is real reverence in his tone. It may not be his religion, but he has real respect for it. He avails himself of one of camillo's cloths, the smell being rather extreme.

The dead woman has bright Northern hair and despite the bloating and discoloration was very likely pale skinned in life. She's naked and likely was tall, slim, and young in life. She's been dead closer to two weeks than one, the crows having taken her eyes long ago and had clearly been feasting from her belly wound, near hollowing her out, when Ser Malcolm came back to cover her. The wound that killed her was straight and clean edged, such as a sword would make rather than a beast, and she had likely been rough handled, though with the rot's discolouration it is now hard to tell.

A kind of darkness casts over Hellan's expression, hardening already hard lines, setting a deeper frown around her broad mouth. She's seen bodies ravaged like this before countless times, and the familiarity flashes in her icy gaze as much as the memory. Her horse shies away from the death more than she does, although the woman herself does turn; a practical thing, all in all, from the smell. "It will be a poor thing, if the Lord of Honeyholt does not see it our way."

Camillo luckily thought to bring plenty of rags of a good size. Perhaps he has experience with dead bodies or dead animals. He squints his eyes to note her wounds and what may be possible signs of harm. This slows him down slightly, but before long she is uncovered. He glances up at Hellan's comment, but says nothing.

Malcolm nods grimly and stands aside for Camillo to get as much light as possible on his subject. Her features would still just be recognizable if she had kin to claim her, though it is a close thing between the animals and the heat. Her state does reasonably fit Ser Malcolm and Tellur Snow's guesses about her kidnapping rape, and murder several days before the killing of the Bastard of Beesbury, though really the only proof of rape at this point would be her nakedness and perhaps the wine skins. The wound is definitely the sort you get with a blade, likely a heavy and sharp one. Ser Malcolm says grimly, "I know it may bring trouble on our house, but I can not be sorry for killing him. I would do the same with a rabid dog. He hadn't the decency to cover her in death, let alone bury her properly and his behavior made me think he'd do it again over and over with no sense of it being wrong. If I must defend myself with arms I will. I believe right was on my side whatever his house might think."

There are maggots and flies everywhere.

"You have the right of it, and you have my belief," Hellan says, urging her horse in the other direction to meander here and there about the abanoned camp, looking at the mess. "But you might as well save your speech on righteousness to someone who needs telling." On that, she looks aside and down to the servant of the Hightowers, dully questioning. "Unless…" If she once committed his name to memory, it's gone now. "…you see it another way."

"It was for the right," Camillo mumbles in agreement. Though he's quiet, when he looks to Hellan, he seems sincere in that sentiment.

Something crawls out of her left nostril. The normally impassive Malcolm looks away and despite his very dark tan looks a little pale.

Hellan places a palm flat against her midsection, yet it seems rather unrelated to nausea. "Do I need to come down there and help you, or are you boys going to get a move on?"

Camillo takes in a breath through his nose when something unexpectedly crawls out. Unpleasant. He looks up to Malcolm. "Shall we hoist her at legs and shoulders?" he suggests.

The beasts and birds have been burrowing under the man's armour, leaving him mostly hollow and the flies and ants and beetles have been at him too. Ants have been busy in his eye and holes, and a thick trails can be seen swarming off with morsels. He never had time to draw his sword in defense. his hair beard and clothes are likely the most identifiable parts, but one who knows him well might still recognise him just. There was no attempt made at all to protect him.

Ser Malcolm unrolls canvass by the woman's body and then the man's. He returns to Camillo and takes her feet in his gloved hands. She is light enough now, with so much gone.

Camillo doesn't have gloves, but he uses the rag and helps shift the woman over. He's gentle about it.

Bits of her fall off, but they get most of her on the canvass. Malcolm covers her gently enough, then with an apologetic look ties the bundle up for transfer. Soon she is hoisted on the Beesbury charger. He is not even a little gentle with the bastard of Beesbury, rolling him roughly onto the canvass without any ceremony. After, he ties the gloves to the horse in case they are needed later. Neither his horse nor the one with the body bundles is happy with any of this.

Hellan comes 'round the other side to calm and steady the dead man's charger through the ordeal before maneuvering up ahead. "May the road to Honeyholt be sweet," she mutters — not without sarcasm.

Camillo helps with Beesbury and also seems to waste little loving care on that corpse. He doesn't say anything more, but helps to calm the horses.

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