Three Dogs stand as the sun lowers down to the horizons, the light casting a glow over their colorful coats, the integrate pattern being emphasised. Mallakai lays there, clutching at his bloody throat, hot liquid forcing its way out on to the ground through his fingers. Wayne is crouched beside him, tears in his eyes as he rest a reassuring hand on Mallakai’s shoulder. The crowd watch on in silence, waiting to see what will happen next. Sleeping Dog keeps a watchful eye on Brother Joshua, waiting for the slightest movement.
Brother Jesse taps Brother Ambrose on the arm, nodding his head in the direction of Mallakai then walks on over to him, Ambrose just behind him. Sleeping Dog puts away his bow that was still in hand, resting it on his shoulder. Mallakai tries to speak to Wayne, but only a gurgling sound can be made out from the sound. Steward Cresse states that Mathers was the only town doctor, and now that he is dead something will need to be done and quick.
Jesse bows his head in pray, ready for Ambrose who kneels down next to Mallakai, snapping the arrow off near the body, leaving the barbed arrow head within the shallow wound. A funny sickly color can be seen around the arrow head, the blackness radiating out from the infection like ripples on a pond. Ambrose takes some earth from his consecrated jar, using the earth to help draw out the poison.
Soon Mallakai spits out a clot of blood and looks up in to Ambrose’s eyes, “what have you done watch dog?”
“Saved your life!”
“The curse was going to be over” Mallakai mutters under his breath, “it was, it was all for nothing”. Sleeping Dog coughs, drawing everyone’s attention. Ambrose drags Mallakai away with Jesse’s help. “You don’t have to do this, its all over” Honora pleads with the native, “but he shot and wounded me, the wound will heal nicely, but a wounded spirit, that is not so easy to heal.” Sleeping Dog argues that even the watch Dog knows this and he will not back down.
Sleeping Dog then turns to Brother Joshua and explains that he thinks ‘your’ women don’t like to speak out, and that he didn’t like to see a man beating on a woman. Then Joshua asks him why he would protect her, one of the towns folk, and Sleeping Dog answers that it is because she is a friend of Honora, and Honora is the only one to speak with the Mountain Folk. Joshua walks on over to Sleeping Dog, “ready to play?”
“Always ready to play.” “The bells will ring in a short while, and on the eighth toll we draw, whoever is still standing wins.” Sleeping Dog informs Joshua of the rules for this duel.
Standing opposite each other, the two duelist ready themselves for the coming match, as the first ring of the bell tolls through the town, Brother Joshua adjusts his position getting the sun behind and over his left shoulder. Sleeping Dog just closes his eyes, and lets himself slip into the moment feeling every action and movement around him, slightly adjusting himself to compensate for Joshua’s movement.
Joshua feeling the sun warm his back, his large dark heavy coat of a Dog getting an ever-so-slight orange glow, his hand rest upon his pistol, his finger resting beside the trigger. Sleeping Dog pulls his bow from his shoulder, his eyes still closed sensing the coming action, feeling the warm from the sun dip below the horizon. As the eight tolling of the bell rings out across the gathered crowd of towns folk. Sleeping Dog whips his bow out in front of him, the string slightly catching the side of his forearm, Joshua dives and rolls forward and to the side, pulling his pistol from his hip holster, aiming it directly at Sleeping Dog as he comes to a rest. The arrow in Sleeping Dog’s bow is already noticed and flies through the air, as a bullet explodes from a pistol.
Sleeping Dog lies on the ground, his bow broken beneath him, he coughs as he clutches a wound at his shoulder. “Okay you win, do it!” But Joshua wont do it, and he nods for Ambrose and Jesse getting their attention, they walk on over to him. Joshua explains that Sleeping Dog wants him to finish him off, and wonders what their thoughts are on the matter. They agree on letting him live, but Sleeping Dog protest.
Brother Ambrose goes over to Honora and asks her about the curse, and if she could talk to Sleeping Dog, “as a Shadow Hunter, he will only listen to Bad Horse.” Just then a boy comes running from the direction of the ridge, shouting that the tree is on fire, and that there are five natives with torches. The Dogs quickly spring in to action and rush off towards the boy and the tree from where he came.
“So heres the Watch Dogs!” an imposing large dark skinned native, standing at the forefront of the five natives all stood with torches in hand.
“Am I talking to Bad Horse” Ambrose inquires, looking with authority at the large guy before him. For what seems like the first time a faint smile cracks across his face, and gives a slight nod of confirmation. Ambrose explains to the head of the Mountain Folk what he already knows, about the fact that they have a problem and for sometime, and he asks how they may resolve the situation.
“Mainly being the problem with the tree”
“Maybe the tree didn’t like being with the town anymore” Bad Horse counters, “and as for Sleeping Dog, he has a soft spot for your women”. He then goes on to explain that his people have no need for any shoes, “as the tree has a large boot print on the towns side of the tree…” The Dogs and the five Mountain Folk have a brief talk about the problems, such as Mallakai and a curse, and how they may come to a resolve, and get an agreement from Bad Horse that he will wait by the tree and do nothing while the Dogs go back to town.
While the five Mountain Folk await by the sacred tree, the Dogs return to town finding the men all with iron by their sides. They head straight off to see Mallakai, finding him laying there, he looks up at them with blurry eyes as they approach. “I think we need to get the true out in the open once and for all”, Jesse tells him, “it will help to cleanse your soul and will help to save this town”. Instantly Mallakai jumps to the worse conclusion and believes that he is about to die, asking Brother Jesse how much longer he has. Jesse explains that he is not sure and it may be a few hours, days, weeks, it may even be years, and that it is down to him. Mallakai starts blaming himself for everything, for all that he put his wife Adeliah through, she believed in him and stood by him even though it was him and his seed that was the big problem. He still holds true to the belief that Mathers was a good man. After Mallakai lets everything out and tells the Dogs what he had done and believes, Ambrose calms him and explains what needs to be done next. “By desecrating the tree, by lieing to the towns folk, by stoking a fire of war, you need to give penance” Ambrose makes things clear to Mallakai, “But by saving a Dog, taking his place, the demons you suffer from can not hold you anymore”.
“Is it true!?” Mallakai asks with a renewed vigor, tears welling in his eyes, “but Brother Jesse…” he turns to Jesse.
“It depends on your strength and how much you want to raise a family, remember there will still need to be penance”, Ambrose continues.
After this the Dogs head back over to see Sleeping Dog, “you fought bravely today, but not just once but twice”, Ambrose shares with him, “but once you are fully healed you will be back after Mallakai”, Sleeping Dog coughs with a smile on his lips confirming this statement. “We have spoken to Bad Horse”, Ambrose continues, and with this Sleeping Dog stops smiling, and before the moment quickly passes The Dogs ask him for his side of the story. Sleeping Dog explains that Mallakai with his previous dealings with the his people, believe that it was then that he had got his demons for his weakness, but was honored to have faced what turned out to be a brave man in battle. Ambrose explains to Sleeping Dog that in the end Mallakai stood up and helped the way he could for the town, and that now his demons are gone, and with this a new start for a healthy family to begin.
Sleeping Dog in the end, with his agreement, asks that if they return here to look him up, and if that he and Brother Joshua could do it again, but this time the old fashioned way, with fists and knees. After Joshua’s agreement to this, which happily came forth, he tells them that he should get back to his people, he will be able to heal there with them better than here in the town. Ambrose asks him if he will be able to make it back to Bad Horse okay, and Sleeping Dog quickly cuts him short of the offered help, informing them that he needs none.
After this Jesse goes to see Steward Creese, upon Ambrose’s suggestion, “it is good to see the tree going back”, Cresse greets Jesse as he looks over towards where the tree should be but can now see men with torches moving a tree back to its rightful place. Once Jesse turns back from seeing the scene that Cresse had pointed out he asks him to think of a penance he should give to Mallakai, and to help guide him on the correct path and to stay faithfully to the faith. After agreeing to this he asks Jesse if he had a chance to have a word with Temperance yet.
Once back with the other Dogs, Brother Jesse suggests to Ambrose that he should go see Honora and take her with him to see Temperance. After they discuss what they need to do next, they all agree that they should rest up for the night and get back to it early tomorrow with a fresh clear mind.
The dark of night soon passes way to the bright disk rising into the sky. The Dogs are up bright and early, catching the sunrise, finding that the Mountain Folk are still walking about near to town and the tree. As the Dogs walk through town the people all look happy to see them, and they soon come upon Wayne who is surprised to see that they are still in town, he is looking much happier and tells them that he is off to picks some flowers for Temperance, the ones he knows she likes.
Ambrose goes off on his own to meet Honora, he finds her looking after the towns children just like any other day. She thanks him and the rest of the Dogs for the help they gave, for helping Sleeping Dog. Ambrose asks her if she would come with him to see Temperance.
Temperance opens the door to find Brother Ambrose and Honora standing there, along with the kids she could not leave behind as she has the responsibility of looking after them. Temperance offers them all a drink, and looks happy to see Honora and the children. With hesitation she asks Ambrose if he would be willing to answer a question she has. Upon Ambrose’s agreement she asks Honora to leave them alone with him.
She tells him that she wants to leave the town and to wonder to the other towns, that the person she wants to settle with is already with someone, and that she doesn’t want to cause the town anymore problems. Ambrose suggests to her that she could go to one of the frontier town and she may be able to find someone there, but she believes that she will not find anyone else, that the one she fell for was very special.
After talking with Temperance for a while a suggestion comes up, maybe Temperance could try to become a Dog, she could try to train up, but Ambrose explains to her that it will be hard. During the journey back to the head Temple, the Vatican of Life, she could see how she comes to terms with the idea, the possibility. Also that she will still need to give penance for having to leave the town, and to leave the children that she looked after. She seems to come around to the idea, and finally agrees with it, telling Ambrose that she will happily do whatever is necessary.
The Dogs spend some more time sorting out the post that is needed to be taking to the next town, and things that need to be done before leaving. Temperance goes over to the children to say goodbye to them, to find Mallakai is there watching over them, not looking too happy. She said her farewells to Honora, tears in her eyes and then quickly turns and leaves.
Three Dogs ride out of town on their horses, but this time with a fourth person accompanying them.