Before leaving Honest Ridge, the three Dogs get handed the post that needs to be taken to the next town that they will be visiting. They travel to the next town without incident, and not much happens there. With the next few towns that they pass through there is not much for them to deal with, they usually only stay for a couple of days, checking on the local steward and any minor problems he may have before moving on.
The new town that the three Dogs now ride upon is one called Ashen Ridge, it is in an area that sits near an ash colored gorge, with a not too deep river running through the middle, and on the other side, opposite the town a mountain range reaches for the sky. The town is a larger, more brightly colored settlement than any of the previous towns, the surrounding grass area is a match for the bright town with lots of lush green, the cows happily chewing on the healthy grass.
As the three Dogs ride in to town the people of the community come out to see the strangers ride in. They ride past the local blacksmith, who looks up at them as they pass giving a nod, his iron even now strapped to his hip as he works, a young lad can be heard from within the building, “is that Dogs, I have not seen Dogs before.” They approach the town hall to find a corse dressed man open the doors and come out to greet them, “it is good to see that the King of Life has blessed us indeed”, then he turns to the towns folk asking them to help the Dogs with their horses.
Brother Ambrose introduces himself to the man, and he in return introduces himself as Steward Cresse, the man speaks with a gravelled booming voice. “You have a fine town here”, Ambrose offers, “glad you like it” Cresse replies as he ushers them in to the building he came from. Once inside steward Cresse asks the Dogs if they would like to hear the problem they are suffering with, or if they would like to take a look around the town first. Brother Jesse suggests that they may take a look around first, and get a feel for the town. With this Cresse looks happy but suggests that they will probably need their help before the day is out. Ambrose asks the steward what kind of problem they have, which Cresse is happy to share with them, explaining that the town has a dispute with the local ‘blood thirsty’ Mountain Folk.
The Dogs decide to ask the towns folk some question on this matter, but first inform the steward that they have post for him and a person called Malakai, who Cresse tells them that he is the Blacksmith, and they have post for a person called Adeliah. Cresse explains that he saw over her marriage about eight years ago to Malakai, the King of Life has not bestowed a very fruitful relationship upon them.
As they have to give some post to the blacksmith who they saw on the way in, the Dogs decide to start there with their investigation. They find the blacksmith busy talking with a young lad over an anvil, discussing the ways and wherefores of the trade. Brother Jesse greets the blacksmith and introduces the other Dogs, and hands him his post, then informs Malakai that they have some post for his dear wife Adeliah, and he happily takes her post too.
After giving out all the post the Dogs begin their work, and they start by asking Malakai about the problem the town is facing. Malakai explains to the Dogs that the town seems to be having a run of bad luck of late, and doesn’t know what has offended the King of Life, “can’t have the Mountain Folk take the King of Life’s relic”. He also explains about the last battle they had with the Mountain Folk, and that things are not easily forgotten, mentioning about a young woman called Honora who has been dealing with them, she is just a housewife who enjoys looking after the children. Malakai also tells of an incidence with a young lady called Temperance, but explains that they had best have a word with Wayne, looking over at the young lad, regarding her, the lad blushing with the mention of her name.
Brother Jesse goes over to Wayne and introduces himself to the young lad, who is very happy to be spoken to by a Dog, and stumbles over some of his words as he answers. After the introductions Jesse puts a reassuring arm on the lads shoulder and directs him off to one side, asking him to tell what he knows of Temperance. Wayne explains that he has been trying to court her for a long time now, but she doesn’t give him any response, he doesn’t have an idea either way how she feels. He carries on explaining that she is really good friends with a Woman called Honora, there is a three years difference between them, and they look after the children together. Then he explains that Temperance had been attacked, someone had jumped her out by the outskirts of the towns land, but she managed to get away, the person was dressed like a Mountain Folk, Mathers had seen a solitary guy flee from the scene, explaining that Mathers is the local doctor, possibly the guy could have been the one they always see hanging around with long black hair and a bow.
The Dogs thank Malakai and Wayne for their time and head on over to the outskirts of town, finding an elderly looking gent sat with a satchel, and on the satchel they can see the symbol of twin snakes. They introduce themselves and find that this guy is indeed Mathers. “Is this the sacred tree, the relic that the town is worried about?” Ambrose inquires, “it was taken from a seedling from the ‘original’ tree” Mathers offers, “do you know what happened here?” “No” Mathers turns and spits. Mathers answers all of their question, in a very short sharp response, he informs them that they are on the edge of the land that the town owns. Jesse asks “do you have problems with the Mountain Folk?” “Did have” Mathers response scratching the back of his hand, where he has an old scar looking rather red and swollen, “did they give you that?” Ambrose asks him, “nope”. Jesse asks him about Temperance, and Mathers explains about seeing a guy with long black hair and a bow, “she needs courtship, a guy with iron” he offers.
Mathers suggests that he should go with them to see Temperance while they ask her questions, Jesse huddles with the other two Dogs to one side suggesting that they have a word with Honora first, see what she can shed on this matter with Temperance, they all agree and suggest to Mathers that he go on ahead and tell Temperance that they will be on their way. While he does that they will go see Honora. Mathers asks the Dogs if they will get Malakai to replace him at the tree, then he will head of to Temperance.
Back at the blacksmith’s the Dogs inform Malakai about Mathers request, and he asks them if they could be so kind as to go tell his dear Adeliah that he will be late. They agree and head of for his residence.
At Malakai’s house they are greeted by a lady in her early thirties, some grey hair in the side of her head. They greet her and excuse themselves for the news, telling her about Malakai being late back. With this she informs them that she would like to have a word with them while her husband is not around, they agree. She confesses that she feels bad about the tree, fearing that she may have caused it, she allowed the demons in with her thoughts. She carries on while the Dogs listen to her confession, explaining that it weighs heavy on poor Malakai that they have not had a child yet, she keeps thinking about may be getting pregnant by another man and not tell her husband, to make him happy that they have a child. Brother Ambrose reassures her that it wasn’t her, it is not a sin unlike what the steward has tought.
After Ambrose has had a word with Adeliah and reassured her, the Dogs head off to find Honora. The dogs take a look around the town but can not find her anywhere. Ambrose tries looking for some tracks, going to the outskirts of the town, finding many old trails that she may have traversed. After some time Ambrose manages to find a clue to where she may have head off to, somewhere in to the Mountain Folks territory. The sun has by now travelled across the sky and is heading back to the embrace of the Earth, the Dogs decide that time is short and that they had better split up, Ambrose will go on to find Honora with Joshua following at a distance using his rifle as cover, while Jesse will go meet with Temperance.
As he approaches, Jesse finds Mathers waiting outside Temperance’s house, he has not gone on in yet but waited for the Dogs to arrive. Mathers goes up to the front door and bang on the door, after a moment the door opens and they are greeted by a piercing set of blue eyes, the young lady looks at Mathers then over at the Dog before opening the door wide and inviting them in.
Mathers asks her to tell Brother Jesse about the attack. Temperance looks at Mathers then back at Jesse before beginning, slowly she tells her tale to the Dog, explaining that she was out walking, waiting for her friend Honora to come back, it was late and she knew it was later than she should be out, she tells Jesse that Mathers saw this and Mathers saw that, but Jesse butts in and asks her to explain from her point of view. Again she looks over at Mathers before she carries on, just like she kept doing while explaining what Mathers had seen.
Temperance explains to Brother Jesse that she had been pushed down, and that she managed to push the person off after biting on their hand, her eyes still keep flicking over at Mathers. After Temperance had finished explaining, Jesse thanks her for her time and apologizes for her having to go through that again, then he bids her farewell, Mathers leaving with him “good girl” he directs at Temperance as they leave the house. Mathers explains that he will head back to Malakai and relieve him of the watch.
Brother Ambrose approaches a woman dressed in loose clothes with her ankles visible, engrossed in what she is doing, as he walks up to her she quickly grabs for her little dagger that was on the ground, “come any nearer and I will have your balls!”. Then the realisation as she sees a Dog stood before her, she quickly apologizes, covering herself back up explaining that she didn’t think that any towns people would have eyes on her out here.
Once she had settled herself, Brother Ambrose begins to ask her some questions, she tells him that she does not think that the Mountain Folk could do it, she explains that Temperance had told her about the seed. Honora shares her thoughts about Temperance, surprised that she has not accepted and started her own family yet, for she loves to be around children looking after them. She also believes that Malakai may have brought in the demons, not wanting to lay with his wife but to want a more lustful relationship. Ambrose asks her if she thinks that a Dog would be able to talk with the Mountain Folk, they need to just be able to talk, to try to stop an attack happening.
As Brother Joshua is stationed keeping a beady eye on the proceedings, he scans the area and comes across the location where the tree is situated, a glint from something catching his eye, as he gives more of his attention to this glint he can see that it is in fact a black arrowhead, which is in turn attached to the arrow shaft which is now stuck through Mathers’ neck. Looking in the general direction from where it may have come from, Joshua spots a tanned guy with long black hair, who turns towards him with a smile then run off.