Rowan leaves Valorn and heads upstairs, her head swimming. The hallway is void of people, just a series of doors. She realizes that she doesn't know which room Onys is in. She walks to each of the doors, hoping some sort of divine inspiration will tell her which to knock at. She glances uneasingly between them. She considers simply knocking until she finds her, but the prospect of coming face to face with Quinys is more than she can handle at the moment. Defeated by her indecision, Rowan returns to her room. She closes over the door, but before it latches she hears another door open directly across the hall. She hears Erys' voice "I love you so much, Ona. Luck and love go with you." She hears Erys travel down the hall, three quick knocks, a door opening and just as quickly closing.

Rowan realizes now is her chance to speak to Onys, but now that the moment had come she realized she didn't know what she would say. She admired the Elf, and would be forever grateful to her for saving her when they had barely known each other a few hours. She wasn't sure if the gesture had meant anything to Onys, but it had been the first time anyone had ever cared for her outside of her mother.

At the same time, she was frightened of Onys. Her cold fury outside the manor toward Quinys was a sight to behold. Rowan had compulsively backed her up. She did not particularly like Quinys. The girl only seemed to care about money and had no honour, but with the conflict ended a dread started to build with her as she walked back to the manor. One that made her snap at Erys and complain to Valorn. Something she had only just understood: it could have been her that put the party in danger, it could have been her own murky past to come back to her. Would Onys have lashed out at her all the same? Was she a burden on the group?

Rowan needed to know, and so gathering up her courage she quietly opened her door. It took merely a single step to be standing in front of Onys' door, she wished it was further away. She knocked quietly. A moment passed. No answer. She knocks again, slightly more forcefully, but still there is no response. Looking around she presses her ear to the door, but there is only silence inside.

Convinced she had missed her chance, she goes back into her room, her questions still swimming in her mind. She hears her mother's voice in her head, warning her about the dangers of people. She always heard it, but now for the first time it carries a different meaning. She had assumed it was her companions that would hurt her if given the chance, but it may be just the opposite. If there are people out to hurt her, perhaps they will harm her companions as well. Perhaps she was better off deep in the forest. Unable to push the thoughts from her mind, Rowan gathers her meager belongings and leaves her room. Nodding to the innkeeper, she heads outside.

Behind the inn is a small field, beyond which are trees, they surround the hill the manor sat upon. They are not the deep protective woods outside of Neverwinter, but they do remind her of her home enough for her to set off towards them at a brisk pace. If she had turned back she may have seen Onys sitting on the roof of the inn, seemingly talking to herself, but her goal was only the trees. She breaks out into a run, her feet hitting the grassy field, gaining speed until she can hear her hooves kick up the dirt behind her. Reaching the treeline she darts between the trunks, changing direction in an instant. All her anxiousness and fear fades away and she feels so free. The trees aren't particularly dense so she can't run as far as she would like, and so she slows to a trot and finally, breathlessly, a calm walk. She moves silently through the thicket. Everything feels natural again, as it was meant to be, and she wonders for a moment if she could just stay this way forever, to never return to the confusion of people and their shifting loyalties.

It's what her mother wanted for her. She's wistful for a moment, wondering how her mother would feel seeing her in this form. She imagined her beaming smile and excited little jumps knowing that Rowan would finally be safe from…from what? She stops walking. She struggles to recall any specifics of what her mother's fear for her was based on. She saw the concern in her eyes and her panic at an unfamiliar noise, but when she'd notice Rowan looking to her she'd always put on a kind smile. Rowan could hear her voice saying that people were evil and deceitful and that she couldn't trust anyone, and was better off alone…but why? What did she have to fear? Her mother had prepared her so well for a life in the forest, but did nothing to explain the dangers that required her to live that life. How can she protect herself without knowing what she is protecting herself from! Rowan feels a brief moment of resentment towards her mother, something she has never experienced. The feeling makes her uncomfortable and she quickly dismisses it.

She looks through the trees back to the inn, all of the lights were out now. Rowan hears the voices of her companions echoing back to her in her mind: 

"I'm really glad you're with us."

"Always a pleasure to drink with a friend."

"You're safest with us."

These could not be the people that her mother had so feared. They were kind and wise and shown her nothing but good faith. Even Quinys, whose apparent selfishness had been exactly the type of person her mother had warned her about. Who Rowan was most afraid would harm her had protected the group, had seemingly chosen them over the person asking her to kill them. Why would she have done this if she was really so evil? No, her mother must have been wrong. These people were her companions and her allies, and perhaps even her friends. She had to protect them and had to rely on them to protect her.

She still feared what would happen if the mysterious forces searching for her did find her, and would she become a burden to them in that moment. She did still want to speak to Onys, but rather the conversation she would have had earlier in the evening which would have been full of fear of rejection, she instead wanted to tell her that if the moment did come where their loyalty would be tested, she would put her faith in her friends and let the outcome be what it may.

Rowan emerged from the forest. The dew on the grass catching between her toes, her hair blowing in the gentle wind. The sky was just beginning to grow pink. It would be dawn soon. She walked back to the inn.


Phandelver + Storm King and beyond CapitalistPig asiina