The cold air of winter stung Theodore's face.
He travelled northwest, driving his mare hard in his eagerness to reach Taverley. He had been on the road since morning and had stopped only once, to bow his head in respect to the graven statue of Saradomin that stood several miles to the north of Falador, its hand pointing to the city as a guide for travellers.
He had not been alone, for several others were preparing a fire on which to cook some game. They sat a respectful distance from the squire, eyeing him with distrust, as if expecting him to accuse them of poaching. The Knights of Falador were known not only for their honour and their dedication to truth but also for their zealousness. Many perceived them as self-proclaimed lawmen, and a few even called them a militant judiciary, too eager to ensure that the law was upheld to the letter.
After a long silence, an elderly man spoke.
"Have you heard the news from the south?" he asked nervously of one of his fellows, who warmed his hands before the fire.
"Aye," the younger man replied. "I was there a week ago when we found her. Not far from Old Farm on the Draynor Road. It was a young woman. She'd been dragged from the road shortly after darkness." There was bitterness in his voice.
"So it's true then? Did you see her?"
"What was left of her. There's something south of Falador that lives amongst the woods and hills, something wicked that preys upon the local people." As he spoke the hood slipped back from his face and his eyes settled on Theodore, who listened quietly.
He had heard of nothing amiss in the south, and yet as a simple squire there was no reason why he should have. It was the knights themselves who would attend to such business, or the Imperial Guard.
"What will you do about it, knight?" the man called over to him in anger. "Two people seized and devoured in the last month!" He stood and walked over, striding aggressively, confident that some code would prevent Theodore from retaliating against an unarmed traveller.
"Or do you go elsewhere in the service of your God?" the man continued. "Attending to matters of greater urgency. Are we peasants not important enough to warrant your attention?"
"That is not true," Theodore replied calmly. "I knew nothing of this monster that plagues you, but when I have finished my journey I shall see that action is taken. You have my word." The man stopped and turned his head aside, unable to meet Theodore's clear gaze. When he spoke again, some of the anger had left his voice.
"You knights have to do something," he said, returning to the fire to join his companions. He faced the squire again, looking him straight in the eye.