Heading back to the Temple of Life, a long journey travelling through small towns and barren lands delivering the post and helping out where needed. Temperance is fairly quiet initially, keeping her distance away from Brother Jesse, talking with the other two Dogs, keeping them between her and Jesse. She won’t let her eyes meet his, and every time her eyes flicker to his she quickly drops her gaze down to his hands that rest by his side, hands that have dealt out justice.
As the days pass she gradually becomes more comfortable with Brother Jesse’s presence, but she still keeps herself away from him and talks with Brother Ambrose or Joshua. After spending time with the three Dogs, she comes to realise that they are not what she expected of Dogs, that they would be riding in to towns with righteous sparks and fire flying off their hooves. On the journey she asks them about the life of Dogs and how they can tell if people are being untruthful and sinful.
After a few more days the party of four riders come upon a new town called ‘Renewed Hope’, a large town, about 500 people so it has been told, a fairly new and industrious town that has mining for the local mineral and metals. Due to the nature of the town it has been given a nickname of ‘Soot Town’.
Being that this place is a lot larger than the towns the Dogs have visited before, they can see the town from some distance, and they can make out a kind of dusty haze hanging over the place, the sun glinting and giving off faint rainbow effects from the dust particles.
The town can be seen to have a split divide, as if a parting of the seas has occurred here. There is not a lot of farmland to be seen around the area, a small scattering leaving the place open. As the Dogs look upon the town they spot a caravan, several wagons long, and then notice a pair of horses quickly riding along side the caravan, a small flash followed a second or two later by a familiar thunderclap. Only a matter of second later the leather clad riders make a hasty flight away from the caravan, the occupants quickly reaching for concealed weapons, the two young fleeing rides throwing a large sack over the their horse.
The two young horsemen are riding hard and fast away from the caravan straight towards the Dogs, the lead rider wearing a straw hat low over his face concealing his features, a light loose leather coat on his back, open and revealing a lot of bare chest. The second rider is a younger baby faced youth, innocence in his eyes, his clothes are tattered and torn, blood splattered across them. The lead rider has a heavy set revolver, the hammer thumbed back in his hand. Eventually the two young riders spot the four riders in their path and turn sharply heading in to the savannah.
Brother Ambrose instructs Temperance to head over to the caravan, and inform them that she is with the three Dogs, she agrees and rides off. The Dogs turn to each other and agree on the pursuit of the young riders, who even now are getting further away.
The Dogs kick their heels in to their horses, Ambrose racing off at an angle due to the sun in his eyes, Joshua’s horse stumbles slightly on a ragged crack in the ground as it veers off towards the fleeing youths. However Jesse just sits there on his horse looking after Temperance as she heads to the caravan, wondering if he should go with her, but remembers how she feels about him and turns back towards the direction of the hunting Dogs.
One of the fleeing young horsemen looks back at their pursuers, spotting that in fact they are being followed by Dogs, he exclaims this out loud so his comrade will hear and urges his horse on even quicker. Kicking up more dust has they race in to a dust bowl to hide their flight.
Brother Joshua pulls out his large rifle and takes aim, levelling it over the top of his horse’s head, sighting the trailing horse down the barrel of his gun. Ambrose cuts across behind Joshua, coming up on to the riders from a different angle.
The lead youth pulls hard on his reins, turning his horse back towards the Dogs as he brings his revolver to play using his horse for cover, “Randle, run you stupid git, I’ll keep them off!” Ambrose uses this distraction to divert around some shrubbery, but the guy follows him urging his horse towards Ambrose. Joshua heads to the side finding some dips in the ground for extra cover.
Brother Ambrose pulls on his horse to try and avoid rushing in to the gun fire, and falls off his horse hitting the ground hard sending a cloud of dust in to the dry air. The older youth stops his horse giving up, realising the situation he is in and dismounts in an undignified manner, his arm getting caught up in the reins and landing hard on the ground. His younger comrade Randle pulls to a halt realising what has happened, they are probably no older than fourteen and seventeen respectively. As Brother Joshua slows up and approaches them he finds his horse walks with a limp. Brother Jesse can see that Ambrose doesn’t seem to be moving on the ground, Brother Joshua now closer enough spots Ambrose on the ground near his horse unmoving, a very nasty bloody wound on his chest. Jesse quickly spurs his horse on towards them.
“Oh heck!” Randle exclaims as it dawns on him what has happened. Blood starts seeping in to the ground around Ambrose. Throwing his iron to the ground, “err, oh, ah I was only meant to catch him in the shoulder”, he steps back, “don’t shoot me!” he pleads.
Joshua rushes over to Ambrose, dropping to his knees, seeing Ambrose’s blood soaking through his coat, metal glinting in the wound. Ambrose lies there coughing up blood, his body going cold, Joshua can hear as if a mocking laughter in the distance as if it is taking the life of a Dog, the air around Ambrose going cold, and as he reaches down to the wound his fingers feeling a frost creep over them. Joshua bows his head closing his eyes, beseeching to the King of Life to help his fallen Dog, then he reaches in to the wound with his hand carefully pulling out the metal. His finger and hands get even cold as he enters the wound, Ambrose turns spitting out a black mass on to the ground. Joshua pulls out his jar of consecrated earth, and pours it in to the wound. After using the earth on Ambrose the soil gradually dries up and turns black, Joshua feeling the corruption soaking through.
Randle just looks on seeing this miracle in front of him, and all he can do at the end is say “ahh”. He steps back next to his brother, the spoils, the bag between them on the ground. Ambrose manages to sit himself back up, he is in a lot of pain but alive.
The slightly pale Brother Ambrose drags himself up resting against a pile of rocks facing the two young brothers. The older of the two Roland puts his hands up in the air, as does his younger brother Randle, “err, um, so he’s okay, we’re all happy, yeah?” The caravan has by now starting to draw up close, Temperance riding along beside, two men with shotguns in hand on either side of the caravan.
“Hail and well met there Dogs. Pleasure to see you, very convenient timing, it’s almost like the King of Life himself sent you to us in our time of need”.
“Hail and well met” Jesse answers back.
“There’s your stuff back, everything is fine”, Roland taps the bag with his boot, “no hard feelings”. Jesse dismounts and walks over to the two youths, a menacing glare across his face. Joshua helps Ambrose sit and position himself better up against the rocks.
“So coachman how long have kids been thieving from you?” Ambrose inquires.
“Well Watch Dogs tis the first time we have seen them here, we were making our usually delivery when suddenly I saw these guys grabbing for the bags, and then a round goes off above my head, if you hadn’t come along when you did they would have got away scott free.” Jesse rests his arms upon the youths and turns to the coachman, “So they like to let loose rounds of ammo do they?” Turns back and glares at the youths. “I was just putting a warning shot in the air” Roland replies with a slight smile, “I didn’t want to hurt anyone, you know how they pull guns when you start taking some essential food to try to keep you alive. It’s a hard life out here, I didn’t want to shoot anyone, but I turn around to find three people behind me with guns. I panicked okay!”
“You have poor eye sight too”, Jesse interjects, “what do you mean?” “There weren’t three people, there was only two, and they weren’t around you they were following you.” Jesse corrects him. “Ah oh ah err, it was quite a panicky situation, I mean lo lo look at the size of that gun! It just panicked me. Your friend came up right behind me and I just shot.”
“I, I, I…hold on” Roland stops and looks closer at the three Dogs, “I’ve heard of you, you’re those three Watch Dogs, the ones that where at that, that, that, erm creek place”, he then seems to gain a bit of composure, “yeah I was trying to get some food for my starving brother here.”
Ambrose cuts him short “I stopped Brother Joshua here from shooting a Mountain Folk once, lie again and I won’t stop him shooting you.”
“Hey hey who’s lying?” Roland answers looking hurt
“What! You telling me it aint a hard life out here, we need food.”
“Yeah like everyone else”, Joshua steps in.
“Nice idea, but as we are already known as outlaws no one will hire us.”
“You mean you made a crap bed and now you’re having problems laying in it”, Ambrose suggests.
“Hey I wouldn’t go that far!”
“I’m really sorry about shooting you….”, Brother Ambrose cuts him short with clapping his hands, “well give him a clap.” Roland carries on arguing about the need for food and not wanting to shot anyone, he explains that they used to have a nice honest job, as he looks over at his brother, but the Mountain Folk took it.
The coachman explains to Ambrose’s question what normally happens, that they usually kneel them on the floor and shoot them in the back of the head, without a slightest smile on his face, in fact with a deadly serious face. “ We are a lenient bunch in this town, too lenient really, it normal be a hanging but they like to do things clean around here.”
“Let my brother go I dragged him in to this”, Roland pleads, “please let Randle go come on.” He drops to his knees clasping his hands together, “in the name of the King of Life, please just let him go!”
“You got kin around here?” Ambrose asks him.
“No they all died, and that is the truth.”
“What are we going to do with these two?” Joshua inquires.
“Well its obvious aint it, we have a stash of bullets here if you want to use them”, the coachman offers, “or if you prefer we have some rope, but it could be difficult to find a tree around here.”
“But sorely some metal flying out of some other metal would make it too quick?” Jesse suggests, “would it not be better if it was a bit more physical?”
“Well we could tar and feather them and then set them alight.” It can be seen that the two youths are starting to look very worried by this conversation. “Well you are the Dogs it is up to you if you want to be easy on them, we could do it for you if you like, we could get the planks of wood out and do them over on those for an hour then send them off in chains.” The coachman continues. Brother Jesse pulls the two youth beside him resting his reassuring arms on their shoulders. There is a faint sound to Jesse’s right of what seems to be bowls being relieved. Ambrose inquires to Roland as to where they are known to be outlaws, to which the youth replies with vague references to places and situations. Joshua goes over to the bag and opens it up to see what is within, the bag has some weight to it, containing expensive fine intricate tools, instruments that are used for making weapons and the such.
Ambrose suggests to the brothers that they may be of some use to them, “for now” Jesse interjects giving them a gentle squeeze on the shoulders, and more body voiding can be heard. Ambrose asks the coachman about his trade and his name, which he freely gives and introduces himself as Mark and his college as Jack. Roland quickly introduces himself and his brother Randle and then asks if he could clean himself up.
Joshua sends Mark and Jack on their way, “hold on, you’re really not going to do anything with these thieves?” Joshua explains to him that there appears to be more than meets the eye and that they want to have a good long private word with the boys. “Oh I understand, got you.” He thanks the Dogs for the help and asks them if they need any help, which they are told to just keep the faith.
“Hey see I told you they are a soft touch.” Randle whispers to Roland, “shut up, shut up!”
The Dogs and Temperance ride in to town along with the two brothers, Jesse keeping a hold of their horse’s reins as they lead them in. Now as they ride in they can see that the divide is more obvious between one side being a rich health looking side and the other less favourable, poorer side, an entrance to a mine shaft can be seen in the distance upon a hill. The two brothers are quiet as the party head in to town, they all head in to the poorer side of town looking to find where the local church and steward would be.
They find somewhere where the brothers can clean themselves up, Joshua staying nearby keeping an eye on them, while Ambrose and Jesse take a look around. They see a building that looks all too familiar to Jesse being that of an orphanage, but there is no one around, in the dark doorways along the alley ways they can see little smelly piles of liquid, a strong aroma of alcohol can be sensed from the bile. A faint eerie mocking laughter can be heard over the town, otherwise all they can hear is their own footsteps.
Suddenly a faint pair of footsteps can be heard running towards them, and as they draw near the Dogs find a small young lad, very smartly dressed all in black run up to them, smiling as he sees them, “excuse me, would you good sirs happen to be the Watch Dog that helped the caravan men with ruffians outside of the town?”
“Yes” Ambrose replies.
“Pleasure to meet you good sirs, all the honours to the King of Life, I bring a message from Archibald, he requests an opportunity to meet with your good selves.”
“Who is Archibald?”
“Oh you don’t know, he is the owner of the mine and this orphanage.”
“So where are all the orphans at the moment?” Jesse asks the polite lad.
“Oh they will probably be working in the mines currently.”
“We will be very interested in meeting with this Archibald.” Ambrose continues.
“Well if you would like to follow me I will lead you to him.”
“Before we go we would like to meet up with the steward of the town.” Jesse offers.
“What do you mean ‘ah’?”
“Ah I mean ah, Archibald will be better able to help you with your question.” Jesse then asks him about the whereabouts of the church, which the lad happily helps them with giving them instruction and leads the way to the closed church. On the way Jesse asks Temperance if she would be so kind to take notes of the lay out of the town as they travel through, she happily explains that she can do that, explaining that she was always very good at cartography, after which she quickly steps away from Jesse putting the other Dogs between her and Jesse.
The church is a very clean and bright building, all freshly painted with intricate detail to the symbols and art work, the doors are shut and bolted. Upon finding the church locked up Jesse asks the lad who has the keys, and is told the Archibald keeps them, then Jesse asks him when they last had a steward, and they are told that it was about two and a half weeks ago, and that the steward was in office for about nine months, he was only going to stay for three initially, and that he is now back with his congregation. No full time steward, not for some time.