Truths be told

Brother Ambrose starts to run after the fleeing bronzed guy with the long black hair, while Brother Joshua brings his large rifle to bare, dropping to one knee, steadying his shot.  Remembering what Honora had said, Ambrose believes this guy to be going by the name Sleeping Dog, and right now he seems to be pushing all his strength through his limbs, powering his legs to run even faster away from the gun taking aim at him, kicking up dust from his feet as they push hard from the ground.  Upon seeing what his fellow Dog is planning, Ambrose stops his charge for Sleeping Dog and instead turns to tackle the gun from Joshua.  As Ambrose goes for the gun Joshua shouts in surprise at Ambrose as he dodges the lunge.

Taking advantage of the distraction, Sleeping Dog quickly uses the surrounding foliage to hide his fleeing, but Joshua quickly drops back to his earlier stance spotting a glint from within the bushes, taking careful aim upon the Mountain Folk, lowering his aim so that he can hopefully hit Sleeping Dog in the leg.  A loud bang cracks across the distance, the bullet bouncing off a belt buckle that now hangs limply on a branch in an empty bush.

Ambrose tries to make clear the situation to Joshua, pointing out that shooting the guy will start the war between them and the Mountain Folk, but Joshua reputes this claim stating that the guy had committed a crime and is now getting away.

Sleeping Dog takes the opportunity to make a dash for it across the opening, heading for the ridgeline, in hope to drop behind and out of sight.  Joshua ignores the pleese of Ambrose and calms himself for another shot, taking careful aim at the fleeing Mountain Folk that has now broken cover, dropping again to one knee.  Sleeping Dog pulls his bow from his shoulder and fires an arrow as a distraction, but Joshua doesn’t blink and lets his rifle sing out again.

The native hits the ground clutching his side as blood gushes out from a nasty wound, as he desperately holds a notched arrow in his bow with is other hand.  Ambrose jumps to pin Joshua to the ground, but again Joshua manages to give him the slip, ducking and rolling away, knocking Ambrose’s feet as he does so.  Sleeping Dog using all his strength grits his teeth as he uses his mouth and teeth to pull on the bow and release the arrow, firing it high in the sky, the arrowhead giving off a blinding light as it reaches the nadir before it arches back to the ground, heading towards the Dogs.  Joshua finally gives in to Ambrose’s persistence, satisfied that he had hit the fleeing target.  An arrow slams in to the ground next to where Joshua sits, a shockwave from the impact finding its release through the tail feathers.  Sleeping Dog manages to drag himself to the Ridgeline and out of sight, leaving a bloody mark on the ground.

Brother Joshua turns to Brother Ambrose and asks what on Earth he was trying to do, “siding with a Lawbreaker!”  Ambrose gets up and walks over to the corpse of Mathers, “if we kill one of the Mountain Folk, then we would have started a war”, he carries on explaining that his talk with Honora had explained that Sleeping Dog would not have attacked Temperance, and he reiterates the fact that he does not want to start a war, sharing the knowledge she told him about the Mountain Folk and that their lead is someone called Bad Horse.  They argue for a time about the situation that has just happened.

As the two Dogs are busy arguing a figure walks over the hill towards them, seeing the two Dogs in a heated discussion, a dead body resting next to them.  Brother Jesse stops walking and pulls his gun, taking in the surroundings.  He can see a bloody stain near the ridgeline, an arrow embedded in the ground near the two Dogs, and a further arrow stuck through the neck of the dead body, which he can now see as one of the Townsfolk called Mathers, the guy he was talking with not that too long ago.  Lowering his gun and setting the hammer back to rest, Jesse walks on over to the other two Dogs, asking them what had happened, and why they are at each others throats.  “It is his fault!” Joshua states looking at Ambrose, Ambrose ignores his remark and informs Jesse about the situation, telling him about what Honora had said about a Mountain Folk called Sleeping Dog, and finding Mathers here.  Jesse explains to them what he had learnt from his talk with Temperance, sharing his thoughts on the fact that it seemed like she is holding something back and how Mathers was with her.

The light of the day is slowly dieing as the sun inches itself down behind the horizon.  Jesse suggests that they need to have talks with the Mountain Folk, and to do it very soon.  Joshua suggests that they need to talk with the Townsfolk, and Ambrose agrees, they need to explain what they are going to be doing, and they need to take someone from the Town as a witness and reposentative.  After a quick discussion they agree on Jesse going to have further words with Temperance, without any one else around, Ambrose to go and have more words with Honora and her thoughts and ideas of the Mountain Folk, and finally Joshua can go see the Townsfolk to get them organised with what the situation is and what needs to be done.

Ambrose goes back over to the dead body of Mathers and rests his blanket across the corpse, giving a pray before having to leave it behind due to them having serious time restraints.  Then he heads off to meet up with Honora while on her route back to the town, while Jesse and Joshua walk back in to town together, before Jesse heads off to Temperance parent’s home, and Joshua heads over to the chapel.

Brother Jesse knocks on the door of the house where Temperance would be, looking after all the children as she likes to do.  A tall black bearded man in grey and brown overalls opens the door and nods a greeting, Jesse introduces himself and the guy acknowledges him with him giving his name as Emmit.  Jesse asks if he can see Temperance, but Emmit refuses stating that she is not there, she is down at the chapel, she had to see steward Cresse, and unfortunately he had to stay there and look after all the children himself.  Brother Jesse thanks him for his time and bids him farewell, then heads off to the chapel.

As Jesse approaches the chapel he can see that the doors are open, and he can hear the raised voice of Cresse coming from within.  “I done told you before, and I tell you again”, Jesse can hear, “many good boys have tried, and asked, but you think you are too good”, Cresse carries on with the lecture, “you think too much of your pride”, Jesse slows his progress to hear what steward Cresse has to say, “I will not have this town torn apart by the sins within your heart, by these heathens!”  Cresse carries on blaming her for bringing the demons, about the thoughts that are within her mind.

Steward Cresse sees the Dog approaching and turns back to Temperance, “remember what I said girl!” then turns back to watch Jesse walk up to the doors, Temperance stands and rushes through the doors, tears falling as she runs past Jesse, apologises as she rushes past the Dog.  Brother Jesse thinks back to his earlier life and the close female friend he had.  Cresse sees Jesse clenching his fist and steps closer to him seeing the anger in his eyes, the same as his.  The next thing Cresse know is a fist impacts against his chin with the force of like a bullet from a gun, and he drops like a sack of spuds hitting the ground.

Jesse takes this opportunity to pick Cresse up and sit him in a chair, tying his legs to the chair legs, and binding his wrists to the arm rests of the chair, and then sits himself opposite the steward.  The steward soon comes around, dazed and confused, then realises that he can’t move his legs or arms, and looks over at the Dog sat in front of him.  Jesse talks to him about his anger that he was venting at the poor girl, telling him that he needs to calm down, he then explains that he needs to be able to talk to the girl on her own about what had happened, without any interference.  “I suggest that you go and help Joshua with talking with the townsfolk, I guess that I can trust to releasing you”, and Jesse unbinds the steward.

Brother Ambrose heads towards the route that Honora would likely take back to town, and manages to catch up with her, she sees him and blinks, looks around and then smiles back.  “Are you alright, I heard the gun fire?” Ambrose quickly reassures her then informs her that they need to act quickly to try and avert danger to the town.  She asks him what is wrong and Ambrose tells her about the killing, discovering Mather’s dead, and seeing Sleeping Dog fleeing the scene.  Honora reiterates that he often keeps an eye out in case of attacks, and it could not be him.  Ambrose also tells her that Brother Joshua had taken a shot at him and wounded him, and she quickly asks where Joshua is now, saying that she is worried that Sleeping Dog will have no fear of entering the town to get his pound of flesh, probably wanting to have the life of the one who wounded him, “he may go for a duel, that could pacify him” Honora suggests.  Ambrose informs her that there seems to be more to the Temperance, Mathers and Sleeping Dog incident, but they all need to talk with the townsfolk about the Mountain Folk.

After spending a little time at the blacksmith’s seeing if everything is alright, Brother Joshua heads over to the chapel, hoping to get some help from the steward Cresse to get the townsfolk together for a meeting.  Upon seeing the chapel, Joshua can see Jesse leaving the chapel and heading off elsewhere, soon Cresse comes out and spots Joshua walking up to the chapel, “how fortuitous, I was just coming to see you”, Cresse waits for Joshua to join him and invites him back in to the chapel.

Steward Cresse offers the ringing of the bell to gather all the townsfolk together, there at the chapel, which Joshua happily agrees with, and off the steward goes to ring the bell.  The bell can be heard tolling through the town, and people soon start coming out of their houses and heading for the chapel.  The chapel soon fills with everyone entering from hearing the bell toll, and sit waiting for the reason to why they have been summoned.

Brother Joshua asks Cresse to lead the people in a pray, to remind them that they are under the watchful eye of the King of Life.  Cresse flicks through the book stopping on a passage about vengeance, pauses then rubs his chin carefully, then flicks on to find a different passage.

While the steward takes the service Joshua spots Malakai talk with Wayne, and then sees Wayne slips out off the chapel.  Joshua looms over Wayne in the dark light of the outside air, tapping him on the shoulder and Wayne turns with a start, stuttering.  He informs Joshua about having to relieve Mathers with his post on the tree, worrying that he has been stationed there for so long.  Joshua reassures the young lad that everything is alright, and Mathers will be fine there for a while longer, and that he needs to get back inside to listen with the rest of the town’s people.

Going back in to the chapel, Wayne sits back down next to Malakai and tells him what had happened, who turns and looks up and Joshua giving him an evil eye.  Malakai then stands to his feet interrupting the sermon demanding to know why everyone is there, telling Cresse he is just wasting his time and needs to get back to his forge, and that Wayne can read him the sermon later while he works.

As everyone leaves the house heading for the chapel with its bell tolling, Brother Jesse waits for Tempereance to appear and asks her if he could have a private chat with her, she agrees asking if she may ask him a question once they have finished, which he happily agrees with.  Once everyone has left, Temperance asks him in and offers him a drink or something to eat, Jesse thanks her for the offer but refuses telling her that they need to talk.

Jesse asks Temperance about what had truly happened on the day of the attack, what had exactly happened, she stutters a little saying that he had best go speak with the steward about the matter, tilting her head a little as if at someone who was there.  Jesse pursues the question asking her again reassuring her that there is no one else there, but she argues stating that she can not defer from the steward, and that she is afraid that the demons will come, like the steward had already feared had happened.  Jesse tries a couple of different approaches, reassuring her that he is a Dog and the tool of the King of Life, but he can not get behind her shield that she has put up, and receives no further answers from her.  Temperance is about to open her mouth and ask something when she bites down on her lip, “forget the question I was going to ask, it is not important”, and she leaves it at that.  She looks at Brother Jesse with a look of fear in her eyes.

Ambrose and Honora walk in on Jesse and Temperance, seeing the figure stood there in one of those coats, Temperance runs up and hugs Honora, looking over at Ambrose but with a little less nervousness than with Jesse.  Ambrose asks Jesse if he has asks Temperance about the attack, but she quickly cuts him sort asking if they can leave the subject alone, she doesn’t want to talk about it.  Brother Ambrose informs her about the volatile situation that they are all in, and asks her if she knows about Mathers, and she tells him that Jesse had told her and she looks away turning back to Honora.

Ambrose tells them that they need to get to the chapel and see how Joshua is getting on with the townsfolk.  Temperance pulls away from Jesse, but not so much from Ambrose and keeps a hold of Honora’s hand as they walk out from the house and head off to the chapel.

While Malakai is standing there arguing about the need for being there, and wanting to know the reason, and Brother Joshua is trying to calm him explaining that he needs to wait for the others to arrive, four people walk in to the chapel, two of which stand in their big heavy coats of authority.  As soon as Malakai sees that the other two Dogs are now finally here he starts to demand to know why they are here.  Adeliah his wife sitting next to him starts to pull on his hand asking him to please sit down, “don’t”.

Brother Ambrose raises his voice above the crowd to silence them and announces the fact that the Mountain Folk will be coming, and informing them all that Brother Joshua had wounded one of them earlier, and he demands to know why there is going to be spilling of blood, what is the truth behind all of this, what really happened with the situation involving Temperance, Mathers and Sleeping Dog.  But before anything more could be said an arrow flies in through the chapel hitting the pulpit.

A figure is silhouetted standing in the doorway of the chapel, blood staining the side of his abdomen, and as everyone turns to look at this new arrival he steps into the light and states that he has come to meet the duel that has been mentioned, to have his revenge for the blood taken.  Sleeping Dog also explains that he has left the truth with Bad Horse, so if he does not survive then someone know, but states that he will live and tell the truth himself, “but right now I have a matter to sort out with your boy there”, he points at Joshua.  Ambrose looks at him with a little surprise confusion, and Sleeping Dog shares that he had overhead about the duel and thought what a great idea that would be.  Checking with Brother Joshua if a duel would be alright with him, Joshua quickly agrees with being happy to duel the guy, a smile spreading across his lips.

Steward Cresse seeing this guy walk in to his chapel and talk like this starts him off again, shouting that he doesn’t want this abomination in his town, especially in his chapel.  Ambrose quickly cuts him off short before he works the crowd up, then he turns to Temperance and tells her that she can save a life tonight and asks her to let him know exactly what had happened, but again he gets no joy from her, “if Bad Horse tells of what had happened no one will believe him, if a Dog dies tonight no one in the town will forgive the Mountain Folk, but if you or Sleeping Dog tell then that will settle things a lot better”.

“You speak very well” Sleeping Dog praises Ambrose for his words of wisdom, “I suggest you tell the truth before the duel” Ambrose turns to Sleeping Dog, then he turns to the steward “will you hold belief in the honour of this duel”.  Malakai stands up again and is about to say something when Ambrose turns and stops him sort.

Sleeping Dog begins to tell of the day of the attack, he explains that he saw Temperance in the glade waiting for her friend as she usually does, she didn’t notice the big man behind.  The big man then tells her that she should have had a husband by now, someone to protect her.  He also explains that she was told to say that it was Sleeping Dog that had done the deed, Malakai quickly stands to his feet again and starts to protest, defending Mathers, Sleeping Dog then tells Malakai that he had killed Mathers, and because of the unexpected reaction he turns to Ambrose, “you haven’t told them yet have you?”

But Sleeping Dog doesn’t stop too long before enjoying the attention he now has, he gives out a laugh and carries on, “what is this I hear about Malakai wanting to start a fight”, he laughs again, “piss his pants and run away, live to fight another day”, more laughing.  Malakai’s rage now boils like an old kettle on a stove, his face turning a brighter red.  Ambrose steps in-between them both and threatens to step out of the way if he doesn’t calm himself down, and then turns to Sleeping Dog asking him if he wants to have the Duel now.

All three Dogs walk outside along with Sleeping Dog, closely followed by the rest of the town.  Outside a couple of tumble weeds roll across the streets, as the townsfolk pour out of the chapel and fill the street.

Sleeping Dog’s eyes meet with Brother Joshua’s across the gap between them, flicking his knife in to the air and catching it again, then he walks closer to Joshua and whispers in his ear, “if you want you can ask Malakai if he would like to take your place in the duel”, a smile across his face, “okay if he wants to” turning to Malakai Joshua asks him if he would like to duel Sleeping Dog instead.  Malakai steps up with a smile spreading across his face, “it would be a pleasure”.

The two duellist step out in to the middle of the street facing each other, they just stand there for what seems like ages before Malakai makes a move first, he goes for his gun at his hip.  As quick as fox Sleeping Dog is upon him, Malakai manages to get a shot off in time to hit the native in the shoulder, blood spray out behind him.  Sleeping Dog jumps off pulling his bow and noticing an arrow, Malakai raises his gun for a second shot.

An arrow flies through the air closing the distance between them in no time, another blast from the gun rings out.  This time Sleeping Dog just stands there the bullet missing him as Malakai drops to the floor, dust from the street rising in to the air as his body hits, blood gushing out from the arrow stuck in his jugular.  Sleeping Dog looks down at him, tearing a piece of cloth from his clothes and binds his wounded shoulder, then he turns to Brother Joshua, “now it is your turn”.  A smile creases his lips.

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One thought on “Truths be told

  1. Good to have the dogs back after the unexpected intermission.
    It has taken some serious reading.

    This write- up must have required loads of notes and a good memory!
    Well written account of the game as usual.
    Very enjoyable.

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