Aster had observed the girl quietly, so far she doesn't seem... bad or malicious. She seemed to be making the corpse of that caravan guard dance, or at least make a horrible parody of something dancing. She had taken the corpse by the hand started waltzing hastily, like a flurry of erratic gestures from a madman.
Aster looked at Heath and Heath simply stared back. Aster couldn't bring himself to attack. So he decided to provoke her and give him a reason to attack. The hunter motion for Heath to fly up and attack the girl.
The white and brown owl swooped down and aimed himself at the girl. Instead of hitting the girl, the girl suddenly turned, making the undead corpse stand in front of her and the attacking bird.
Heath raked the back of the undead man’s head, ripping a bit of the rotting flesh off the skull. The girl let go of the walking corpse, letting him simply stand upright and stare blankly into space.
Heath circled around, going in for another attack, this time he didn’t plan on missing. The girl rummaged around her bag and took out a piece of meat, roughly the length of her fingers. She held it up to Heath and the owl swooped down and snatched the piece of meat from her hand and landed a few feet away from her.
Aster rubbed his face with his hand, showing a very exasperated expression. Despite his best training sometimes Heath just gets distracted by the simplest of things. Aster sighed, and drew back the bowstring and took a deep breath.
This wouldn’t be the first time he had to take a life, but this will be the first time he had to take one unprovoked, she was a murderer after all.
As Aster aimed at the target, he felt a crossbow bolt at the back of his head. “That’s quite enough now, youngster.” Aster slowly lowered his bow and gently let up on the bowstring. “Ey! Ashly! Did you know you were about to skewered by an arrow from this chap over here?”
Aster stayed silent, mentally adding another failure to his list. The girl looked over to Aster and the corpse stumbled forward with a sword drawn.
Aster and whoever was behind him stepped out into the clearing. The girl frowned softly at Aster and looked at Heath who was now circling above, waiting for the signal to strike.
“Is that your owl?” She asked timidly and looked at the man behind Aster. “Don’t worry, master. I’ll take of it.” She looked at the undead and back to Aster. “I know this looks bad, but I don’t want any trouble.”
Aster just stared at them with cold eyes. "There's a bounty for a wild animal that had been attacking honest merchants on the roads. I'm here to collect." Aster said and his fingers twitched, waiting for the perfect moment to pull out his kukri and attack. The girl simply stared at Aster, confusion was clear on her face.
"Honest Merchants? They were slavers and smugglers, we made sure of that. If we were attacking merchants and honest folk, wouldn't there have been more attacks? Farm folk missing?" She said and looked over to the corpse with a soft frown. "What else can we do? Let people be enslaved to vices or chains?"
Aster stared passively at the girl by the name of Ashly. He had never met a shapeshifter before, but he did know about them from his travels, rumors of assassins, spies and thieves. He didn't trust her, but what she was saying did make some sense. "Why only kill one guard? Why let the rest go?"
"Because if we destroy caravans, they would send hunters and bounty hunters such as yourself. The slavers and smugglers would try to avoid asking for help from the knights in the city, so they would ask freelance bounty hunters to stop us. So far they think beasts have been attacking."
"That's all nice and good, I don't exactly believe you, and if what you're saying is true, I'll leave you alone, but I still need to pay the bills. So I propose we work together." Heath flew back towards Aster and landed on his shoulder. "I could find some wild animal pelts and collect the bounty, from there I would ask you to stop attacking caravans out on the roads like brigands and take them down in the city, where if they did send other hunters after you, there would help from the guards." Aster offered and started walking to where he dropped his bow.
The old man had his crossbow pointed at Aster the whole time while they talked. "Thank ye for the offer sonny, but we can handle our own." The old man croaked boastfully.
"I have no doubt of that, but I doubt you two are actually doing any damage to whatever operation is happening, you two are just minor annoyances, just wasting time, if you two could get the help of the knights, I would think you would be rewarded and have stopped most smugglers in the city at least." Aster said with a small smile. "Of course if you're telling the truth, I would be more than happy to help you in any way I can."
The two of them looked at each other with concerned glances. "If they find out who we are... People don't exactly trust us."
"Simple, don't get caught. If that doesn't suit your needs, I usually camp outside the city, or near the forest." Aster looked over to the girl. "Your name's Ashly, correct? I'm Aster, a pleasure to meet you." He said with a small nod of the head. "I must leave now and acquire some pelts of some large animal and claim the bounty. If I can't claim the bounty, I could always sell the pelts, it doesn't really matter to me." With that Aster walked off into the forest.