Stephen nodded sadly to Shona's question even as Ryd headed off to speak with the villagers. "Yes, my Lady, it's been several weeks now that the girl's been missing in woods. Our local priest, Father Eric, administered last rites. However, the boy is still here as is Father Eric, if you wish to speak with them. Please come with me, I will find them for you."
The reeve is eager to assist in any way he can, looking relieved and even pleased that someone had come to investigate the village's problem. Indeed, at the church both Father Eric and the boy in question are there making exterior repairs to the village's humble church. After an introduction, both the priest and the boy bow slightly to Shona, though the boy's bow is clumsier by far; it's doubtful he's run into anybody more important than the islands' abbot.
They can tell Shona little more than what the reeve had already, and the boy confirms that he remembers nothing after heading into the woods with the girl's father. The discussion quickly turns into an argument that Shona can tell is well-trod between the reeve and the priest.
"The father's death, while tragic, was merely result of a terrible accident," said Father Eric. "Clearly a fight broke out about the girl and passions got the better of everyone. It is a curse of the young and hot-headed." He gave the boy a direct look causing him to look down in shame. "There is no need to blame demons or ghosts."
"You are still new to the village, Father," said Stephen. "Those woods have been haunted for years and years going back to my grandfather's time at least. Ask anybody on the island and they'll tell you the same."
"Superstitious nonsense! You are frightening the villagers with this talk and for what? The earl will not send his precious men-at-arms from the mainland to search our woods. Better to let the boy do his penance and move on."
"But we have someone here! God has answered our prayers!" Stephen said, gesturing to Shona. "You punish the boy too harshly for something that could not possibly be his fault."
"He was the only one there! Who else might have killed the father, if by accident?" said Father Eric. "Besides, he admits to fornicating with the girl and getting her with child. This is a grievous sin if nothing else. He must do penance for this."
"Merely boys and girls being boys and girls. Also, what of the tracks of the beasts in the area around them!"
"Tricks of the light playing with your eyes," said the priest with a dismissive wave. "'Twas the dogs that found them."
The argument goes back and forth with the priest insisting there is nothing else to become of it and that the boy should work with him and the church and the reeve insisting there is more to the woods than the priest allows.
Some time later, Ryd has returned and reports that the villagers, by and large, believe there has long been an evil in the woods brought about by the dark times of the past few centuries. Pirates and viking barbarians would make regular raids on the islands taking loot and slaves, killing the rest. They talk of pagan blood rituals in the woods, while others talk of areas of the woods that cannot be penetrated. Some mention seeing visions of animals speaking.
What few brave souls there are report seeing the occasional elusive shaggy creature seen only in shadows and out of the corner of one's eye. He does have directions to show where the boy and the girl's father was found, apparently a clearing some distance into the woods.
OOC: Just moving things along. Shona can interrupt to ask anything additional if she's looking for more details from any particular party.