It was too easy to see what one wanted to believe to be the truth. While Owen Liddell might have convinced himself that everyone looked at him with suspicion, derision and other negative thoughts… it was only one side of the coin.
While it was true that Tobias Summers was livid at the fact that Owen told his mother that he died—the looks from the patrons, guests and friends in the inn were actually mixed.
A lot of them knew the tendencies of the Innkeeper to overreact and sometimes it truly did feel like they were walking on eggshells if somehow one mentioned a very specific person that shall not be named.
Most of the people were quick to look away, and even leave if necessary.
Mother and son had a heart to heart conversation.
"Please don't be harsh on him," Theresa told his son with a weak smile. She rested in the very same chair offered to her earlier and twiddled with her thumbs. "I was the one who jumped to conclusions—"
Tobias rubbed his forehead and kept his temper in check. "It was him who told you that I was dead. Of course you were going to believe him since he had—where's my satchel?"
"He left it on the table!" his younger sister ran up and clutched the bag and gave it to her brother. "Here you go, Toby! Please don't be mad."
Even if she couldn't understand too many difficult subjects, she could still read the atmosphere.
The young man ruffled his sister's hair. Not exactly appeased, but also calming down slightly. If only not to scare his sister and show himself as a good example of being a sibling.
"That's because he went out looking for you," Theresa said and held a hand to her chest. "You always got home before sundown, even when you worked for the Alchemist. But then you didn't… I mentioned it to him and—"
"He went looking for me," Tobias said and glanced at his bag. How the heck did the guy find it? He opened the bag and frowned. "What the actual—all of the wolf fur and dung are gone. Great, I have to start from scratch tomorrow."
His mother sighed.
Similar to her husband, her son tended to have a one-track mind… when he didn't like one thing, even when something proved otherwise—Toby would nitpick at something else.
She didn't know how to reach out to him when it came to this.
Eventually, her son would just end up realizing that he was too harsh on the young man.
"Did you see his clothes? They were torn to pieces. He looked like he was wearing rags." One of the patrons spoke up.
"I wanted to give him a healing potion—but he seemed fine except for the clothes. Ignored us two just to talk with y'er mother here. It was as if he didn't care about his condition at all." a drinker sipped his mug of beer and shook his head. "That's the kind of boy who's willing to throw himself into a pack of wolves to save a life."
"What else might have done that to him except for wolves?"
"Fine, but is he one of those adventurer lads and girls coming here and trying to find treasure in the forest? Doesn't seem like the case. Why else would a boy who came from nowhere just end up entering the forest and fight with wolves? Is he daft?"
Tobias stared at them—and then reflected back on earlier when he shoved Owen. He didn't notice that was the case. Or he barely put much attention to it.
A sour feeling clamored in his stomach.
"Did he just see this satchel and assumed I was gone? There's very little evidence—I may have dropped it, but unless it was covered in blood or something else, there's not really anything for him to jump to conclusions."
The Innkeeper, Theresa, didn't want to worry her son too much, especially those of her patrons by admitting that Owen encountered goblins, but there was no turning around it. Her son was entering the forest and might truly encounter them if he continued doing so.
"Tobias Summers, I want you to be careful when you go to the forest—you haven't told me at all what happened there and why you came late. Did you see anything like a goblin?" she twisted her hands together frantically.
"Huh, what are goblins?" Nire asked.
"Wait—goblins?" one of the patrons asked.
Another person spoke up. "I saw some of them while I was trying to chop down some trees. Ran like the cowards they are, about two or three I think."
"There's a camp of these creatures," Theresa said and eyed her patrons. Even if it was mostly for her son. "It's too dangerous to be there late at night. No, even morning—"
"I'm the apprentice of Alchemist Mossblossom and I'm a Hunter. I can handle myself," Toby said. He could take care of things just fine, that thing with the weird plant was a one-time deal. He had been a little less careful that time and won't get in that situation again.
"Son, you're alone—"
"Besides, Mother. If that guy can assume I was dead—who's to say that he imagined that there was a goblin camp? Maybe he saw like five of them lounging in a fireplace and decided it was a camp?"
"Don't they breed like rabbits?" another chuckled.
A group of women gave him a nasty look in the eye.
The Lumberjack continued. "They can't breed that much if there are other creatures, a pack of wolves could finish them all off and that's not all there is to the Ashwoods. But as long as y'er son doesn't stray too much from the outer parts of the forest and enters the heart—he'll be fine, Theresa."
"You just can't keep expecting me to stay here all cooped up in the inn, Mother."
Author's Note: I received a review from Pork and got good feedback about this Author's tunnel vision. A very perceptive and well-read reader, you have my thanks for reminding me to also pay attention to the villagers. Our MC/Protagonist/Owen like many of us people tend to have a very inaccurate perspective on life sometimes.
In writing styles, this can be recognized as Unreliable Narrator. An optimist might take a person shouting at him as merely enthusiasm. A cynic might get upset at the person for shouting and assume they are mad. A realist may realize that this person is simply loud once he gathers the facts.
Surely there are things you can trust with the protagonist's viewpoint. But he's most likely to think other people's perspective on him is genuinely wrong.