It is morning, the fresh sun light streaming in through the thin barred window to the guest room. The poet pulls the pillow down on his head as he sits there and rocks, the bright light hurting. Soon the three Dogs can hear the monastery coming to life as people go about their daily routines.
The watch Dogs stride down the corridors, the other residents soon moving aside. They join everyone in the dinning hall to have their morning meal. The young apprentice steward from yesterday, Newton, smiles their way and greets them. The Dogs park their rears on the stone benches, and three trays of colorless gruel is put before them, a faint heat haze that has no aroma hovers above the meal, a wooden makeshift spoon stands in each, the consistency of the substance almost holding the spoon in place. Newton smiles at the Dogs, “Good wholesome food that keeps you going.” He states as he rubs his stomach. He soon tucks in spooning a mouthful.
Newton starts some small talk with the Dogs while they eat; he asks if everything is alright as he is aware that they had a meeting with Cleoplas. He also brings up the subject of the debate, saying how interesting it all is. Ambrose asks Newton how he feels about the debate, to which he responds with feeling that Cleoplas’ argument, has a more feeling that seems to move everyone. Newton then asks them how they feel about the incident earlier with the stewards and retrieving the supplies. The Dogs asks him for more information on this as they had not heard anything. Newton explains to them that the stewards had gone out earlier this morning to pick up the supplies, when there was a nasty spill as they were crossing the bridge. Thankfully no one was hurt, but everyone is asks to stay inside while they check out the bridge. The bridge was swaying quite bad with one side almost uprooting, some even knocked from their donkeys. Newton elaborates on the standard procedure with the supplies upon Ambrose’s question. He explains that the stewards goes out and meet with the trade caravans half way, as they do not like to come all the way since they had problems with the caravans before.
Newton excuses himself once he finished his meal and talk with the Dogs, informing them that he needs to head off and tend the gardens. He shakes every one of them before leaving, giving them a hearty shake. As there is many hours before the debate that evening, the Dogs finish up and head out to the bridge to see what had happened and what can be done.
The bridge is a long wooden and robe mix, with people standing either end of it, busy studying and working upon it. Every now and again a solitary figure is sent out across the swaying bridge, on their hands and knees, a separate robe tied around their waist, to check on the condition of the repair and strength. However one figure does stand out from the crowd that are working on the bridge, he is on the near side, the monastery side, dressed in his black hat, sleeves rolled up his bare arms, a gun and hip flask secured to his hip. Will is busy hammering on one of the supports, a piece of wooden being chewed upon in the corner of his mouth.
Will looks up as the Dogs approach, he greets them with a smile and a joke, none of which the Dogs respond, he then states that he had heard that they are the type of people that are happy to help out where they can. Ambrose states that they are there to investigate to what had happened. However Joshua goes to slap Will across the back of his head, to wipe the smile off his face.
As Joshua’s hand swipes across in a wide arch, Will senses and moves, avoiding the hit but his hair tussle from the force of the swing. “WHAT do you think you are doing!?” Will exclaims, his face turning to thunder. He thrusts his hand out in to Joshua’s chest. Joshua stumbles back from the impact, but quickly recovers standing tall and steps forwards making another strike towards Wills’ forehead. Quickly Will dodges the attack jumping back on to the start of the bridge; the bridge quickly reacts to this and begins to sways, Will jesters for Joshua to bring it. Joshua steps up once more, placing himself now on the bridge. As Will goes for another strike, Joshua rolls out of the way of the thrusting knee, and then pulls his clever from his hip. An audible gasp resounds around, as everyone has stopped what they are doing and watching this disturbance.
Will spits on the ground, “Are you fucking kidding!?” he throws his hands in the air, “Fuck it, if it’s that important to you, fucking hell. Whatever I did to piss you off, okay, sorry about it.”
“So you should be. You shouldn’t talk to a Dog like that.” Joshua tells him. Will apologises again, stunned by the turn of events.
Once settled down the Dogs and Will discuss the purpose to why the Dogs had came out, and what had happened to the bridge. The bindings from the bridge had come loose, and explain that he is only a body guard and no engineer, he shrugs his shoulders and suggests that he has no idea what may have caused it. He offers that it may be down to the amount of use it has gone through. If there was any foul play then something would have been seen. He tells them that they usually have guards out nearly every night. Will excuses himself, informing them that he had better get back inside and check up on his charge. Joshua mutters something under his breath, no one catches what was said but Ambrose and Jesse look at each other.
The three Dogs carry on with their investigation, they check around the binding posts that support the bridge. Nothing is evident to what could have caused the problem, only that the holes do look like they have gotten wider around the posts. Some people are busy re-filling the holes. The guards do confirm that they have not had anyone fiddling with the bridge.
Once the Dogs exhaust any avenues of leads with the incident on the bridge, they buckle down and help with the repairs. The work force soon picks up, and progress speeds along. It is surprising what can happen having a watch Dog helping out with the manual labour.
Ambrose also add a blessing to the bridge as they draw close to finishing, he sprinkles some sacred earth on each end, and chants out a prayer. Soon the work force joins in with the chant. The chant echoes out towards the monastery and soon picks up there too, the sound of the chant bouncing and echoing around the mountains.
When the Dogs finally make their way back in through the monastery, some cheers and praise go up, clapping as they pass. Some being so invigorated by the chant that went out, their belief lifted higher by chorus. The dogs go and clean up and grab some food, while they rest up ready for the debate that will soon begin.
In the library where the meeting is being held, a large stone chair is at one end, the Arch steward Archibald sits tugging at his old grey beard looking over the proceedings, a roaring fire is light within the guarded fire place. As the Dogs enter Archibald booms out a greeting, welcoming them in with the blessing of the King of Life, he embraces each in turn within his arms. He shares his hopes that the proceedings can finally come to a conclusion.
They just catch a glimpse of Newton sat in a dark corner near one of the bookcases, they almost missed him as he sits there quietly. The bookcases are filled, packed high, with lots of scrolled documents. Newton looks nervously at Joshua as they enter the room, but quickly waves as the three enter, a smile on his face as he looks at Jesse.
In the centre sits a rotund Priory steward Derek, he looks to be sweating profusely and looking rather uncomfortably sitting so close to the fire. Opposite him sits Priory sister Cleoplas, sweating of a different kind, from the exhaustion of managing herself in to her seat. A smile spreads across her face as he looks over at the Judicator Abraham. He flushes slightly, smiling back and nodding.
Coughing a few times loudly, the Judicator brings the meeting to a start. Abraham welcomes the watch Dogs for coming to sit in on the debate. He pulls out a note pad from his deep pockets and informs everyone that he would like to go over the details from the previous meeting. This monologue drags on for what seems like a very long time. The Judicator Abraham goes in to great detail on everything that had happened before, even passing around scrolls of relevance, pointing out the parts of note.
After a full hour of time passes, during which Ambrose occasionally coughs, Abraham apologises for going in to great detail, feeling that it was important to impart on them all that had happened previously, and informs them that he will skip the three subsections of the happenings from a earlier meeting.
He finally ends by offering the floor to Derek, stating that as Cleoplas started the previous debate it would now be his turn. Derek rises to his feet and speaks out, thanks Abraham for summarising everything that had gone before. He tells all those gathered that he has been pouring over the early translation of the scrolls and noticed one that had been previously translated as, “’That which is made by the King of Life, shall eternally be made.’ Well I have noticed that the early translation ‘That is made by the King of Life shall not be changed.’ Was used you know.” Derek explains that how the translation is worded, that everything made by the King of Life would not change in the future, therefore the words of the watch Dogs are dictated from the will of the King of Life that which has always been. After Derek has finished making his point, there is a small murmuring and clapping of hands.
Derek now turns to the three watch Dogs and asks them if everything is how it should be, or if there is an older translation that would show a more correct reading. The Dogs look back in silence. Jesse explains that they wish to hear all sides of the debate before speaking out. Derek thanks them and offers the floor to Priory sister Cleoplas, stating that she wishes to explain and believes in an incorrect interpretation.
In the corner of their eyes, the three Dogs notice Will lift his hip flask to his mouth, take a deep swig, then lower it fastening it back up. Ambrose stands up and apologises for interrupting the debate, explaining that he feels he needs to have a word with Will outside. Another murmuring clatters from the gathered. Will stands and agrees, but gives a warning that it had better not be a reason to get him away from his charge, otherwise he will return with trouble.
Will asks Ambrose what it is that he needs to talk about. Ambrose reminds him that he had warned him the day before. Will tells him that he also told him that he was empty. Ambrose asks him out right if he is drinking alcohol, but Will tells him that he is empty right now, he would if he could. Will explains that he had scooped up some snow from earlier in the day, and with the heat in that room it is needed. He then goes on to complain to whoever had set up the fire that way. Will then offers the hip flask to Ambrose, suggesting he try it if he doesn’t believe. Ambrose takes it and sniffs at the open neck. Will tells Ambrose that he was rather hoping that it was his friend that had spotted him. Ambrose informs him that he doesn’t have the trigger finger that his friend has. Asking more on this subject Ambrose tells him that he is a very good shot with a gun. Thanking him, Will explains that it is good to know, that he will have to make sure to remove his gun before jumping him. Ambrose apologises for miss judging him, but warns him not to make a crack about a fellow Dog like that again. Will explains to Ambrose that he has a charge to think about, and he needs all the information he can gather, in case anything should kick off and they deem that his charge needs to die. Ambrose reiterates to Will that looking after his charge is fine, but making a remark like that about a watch Dog is not.
“Thank you watch Dog, I didn’t realise about that, I feel much better for knowing.” Will announces as he and Ambrose walk back in to the Library. Cleoplas struggles with her walking stick, raising herself with great effort. Derek quickly assures her that she doesn’t need to do that. However she reassures him that for all the effort he made to stand, that she could do no less. Slowly she moves forward to stand before everything like Priory steward Derek had before her. Jesse notices that as she stands and makes her way to say her part in the debate, Apprentice steward Newton suddenly sits upright and forward, attentive to what the Priory sister has to say.
Cleoplas begins by paying her respects to what Priory steward Derek had to say before her. And as she turns, addressing the crowd, she winces. “When it is said that any thing he makes will not be changed.” She turns again, “It does not say that he can not make a new.” Again she turns, trying to make sure she addresses the entire crowd gathered. She then explains that not everything that the King of Life created, was created at the beginning of time, therefore he can create a new, new rules that he will then deliver through the words of the watch Dogs. Cleoplas picks up a scroll, “For does it not say that when a man needs a sword, it is best to give him a sword. But when a man needs to…” She lowers herself briefly before shifting and rising once more, “when a man needs to feed his family, to turn that sword in to a tool that tills the field. Therefore what is best? Can the words from the watch Dogs not change to fit the world around us.” Quickly she lowers herself back down on a seat, her breathing heavy with the exertion.
Quickly the Judicator Abraham stands and looks over at Will, and asks him if he would be so kind to give the Priory sister some liquid. Without hesitation Will gets up and goes over to Cleoplas, removing and unfastening his hip flask, handing it over to her. Cleoplas wipes the open neck of the flask, pours the contents in to a glass, then she takes a welcome sip handing back the flask.
Abraham then addresses the gathered crowd, confirming that he agrees with both interpretations and can find no disagreement with any detail. He then asks if any in the crowd wish to add anything, or the watch Dogs, or the Arch steward before then move on to the next part.
The three Dogs stay quiet, not saying anything further, but just watching proceedings. The crowd or Arch steward add no more to the matter and the debate goes on for a further few hours, until the candles burn down and the fire place nothing but glowing ash. They keep referring to previous translations, going back and forth with the two different sides. All the while Arch steward Archibald remains quiet, apart from the occasional shake of his head.
At the end Abraham stands and thanks the people in attendance, going over to each of the debaters and shaking their hands, a smile on his face. He then announces that he has found no agreement for either side, nor any fault or miss-word from either. As a closure he suggests that as they have some watch Dogs present that instead of the usually week before meeting once more, that then make it again in four days time to benefit from their presence. Abraham then shakes each of the watch Dogs hands after the meeting has finished, addressing each in turn. Assuring them that he felt it went a lot better than before thanks to them.
Jesse asks Abraham that if they are moving the debate forward to only four days, what exactly he is planning to do at the next debate. Abraham informs them that there will no doubt be further research on the texts. Jesse asks whether a decision should be made, drawing this debate to a conclusion, instead of dragging it out. However Abraham assures them that he is credited with too much, he could not bring a close to the debate himself. Ambrose asks him exactly when it will come to an end, and basically Abraham informs them that it will happen when all is in agreement.
Abraham finishes the debate and informs the crowd that he will take an hour with each debater to take down the meetings minute. He tells them that the first will be Priory steward Derek, and asks that he does not get disturbed while he is in these talks. Everyone files out, and now the room is emptying the Dogs can see that the Poet is sat in a corner fast asleep.
Judicator Abraham and Priory steward Derek head off to a private room, while Arch steward Archibald shuffles off shaking his head. Cleoplas informs Abraham and Derek that she will go rest in the gardens, and give thanks to the King of Life. Suddenly the Poet kicks to life proclaim what all the people are doing in the room. Ambrose reassures him that everything is alright, and asks him what his takings are on the debate. The Poet thinks that they are long winded fools, which go around and around and around, that they go everywhere and nowhere.
Once everyone has finally left the room, Joshua heads off; he goes out walking near the buildings and amongst the shadows. He then doubles back and sneaks up to the room where Abraham and Derek are having their private meeting. The room has but one small window looking outside, it also has shutters that are closed leaving just a thin crack for the light to shin out from within. Someone within walks to the window noticing the cold air is still seeping through and pulls on the shutters some more, luckily they do not spot Joshua huddled in the shadows near the window.
Joshua hears them talk about what had happened during the debate, Abraham checking as he writes exactly what Derek had said. He then offers Derek a suggestion about a different text by a different author, but regarding the same subject. The text will need to be requested from Bridal Falls, and may take some time for the request to come through. He then asks if he had talked to Archibald about allowing the apprentice stewards to leave, suggesting that it would be for the best and if Cleoplas talked with him also he may allow them to leave. But Archibald confirms with him that he has already tried, telling him that Archibald was adamant, don’t know why, confiding in him that he doesn’t like all the young folk around him and under foot.
The private meeting goes on for a while longer, more or less in the same frame. And as it draws to a close, Joshua quickly leaves and heads back to the other Dogs. Joshua explains to them what he had overheard, and suggests that he go listen in on the other private talk between the Judicator and Cleoplas. When they all agree, Joshua heads off once more to play with the shadows of the night.
Back in the garden Cleoplas sits on her own with her thoughts, resting her tired body awaiting the Judicator to arrive. Joshua shuffles himself amongst the large shrubberies and behind large pillars, going from shadow to shadow, drawing himself closer to Cleoplas. She spends her time looking and examining the foliage around her, then focuses on a spot of shadows where Joshua stops. Joshua lowers himself more, pulling his dark coat around him. Realising the situation seems lost, Joshua finishes tying up his boot lace and stands up. He then begins to walk on towards the exit. Cleoplas visibly jumps with a start.
Cleoplas greets the watch Dog, asking if he had been there long. Joshua informs her that he had not, he stopped only to tie up his boot lace. Unsure she asks him again why a watch Dog would be out in this garden knowing a lady was alone there, wondering if there is a higher matter he was attending. But Joshua assures her that he was just out walking and meditating on the questions raised during the debate. “Surely knowing that a lady was alone here, a watch Dog would have walked elsewhere, unless you had a different purpose to walk here.” Cleoplas questions him again. Joshua then gives in and admits to her that during his walk he had heard a conversation between the Judicator and Priory steward, and he was curious as to how the conversation would go between the Judicator and her. She double checks, asking that he was going to listen in on them without them aware. Joshua assures her that it would have been the only way to get a true understanding and feeling. Cleoplas asks Joshua if he would like to stay and sit in on the meeting that she and Abraham are about to have? He agrees asking that she makes no mention of what he said, nor that he had heard the earlier conversation. She agrees and asks that Joshua sit next to her.
Not long they wait before the Judicator Abraham comes around the corner in to the garden. He stops and blinks, “Brother Joshua, I wasn’t expecting you here.”
“Yes I was just out for a walk when Cleoplas asked me to sit with her.” Joshua explains.
“Yes we were just having this lovely debate on the nature of the passage, ‘the sin of lying’, were we not Brother Joshua?” Cleoplas adds.
“You could say that.”
“And how it is a mortal sin to lie, Brother Joshua is it not?” After a pause she smiles at him.
“As I pointed out to you, there are times when a more clandestine approach is more necessary.” She nods along with Joshua, and thanks him for bringing such matters to her and Abraham.
Cleoplas starts the conversation, and Abraham offers to share with Joshua what his meeting with Priory steward Derek involved. Joshua agrees with this and Abraham goes in to great long detail, telling him everything that he had heard before. Once finished he then turns back to Cleoplas suggesting that she could go to Derek, asking him to translate some of the older texts, especially as he is good with the older languages. He suggest that she do this as the references she has been using are more modern, and that using an older text will help.
Joshua asks Abraham that surely suggesting further texts and readings, that it is only prolonging the debate. But Abraham assures him that as he can see he is doing everything he can to help in the mater, for them to come to a conclusive agreement. Joshua thanks them and begins to rise as he excuses himself, wishing to refer back with his fellow Dogs.
“I wasn’t expecting to see a watch Dog still out. Brother Joshua.” A voice announces behind the three in the garden.
“Will” Joshua greets back.
“Pleasure to see you again.”
“If there isn’t a problem watch Dog, I would like to have a private word with the two here. Security mater you understand.” Joshua admits to Will that he was just bedding them farewell anyway, so dismisses himself and heads back to the other Dogs.
Joshua now back with Brothers Ambrose and Jesse explains what had happened, telling them that the Judicator is definitely advising both sides, claiming that his assistance is helping speed up the debate. But Joshua feels that Abraham is in fact prolonging the debate with his actions. Joshua asks their opinion on the subject, so the Dogs talk for awhile on their thoughts on the Judicator and the debate.
Suddenly the Dogs are aware of the Poet in the corner of the room sitting himself up on his bed, all bleary eyed and asking them if it is morning already. Joshua insists to him that he is just having a dream and to go back to sleep. The Poet exclaims the figments of his dreams are becoming more vocal, and with a worried tone quickly slumps back under his covers.
The three Dogs agree that they need to hold a meeting tomorrow, to have the young stewards that are ready to leave, allowed to leave, this being of utmost importance. Also to tell them that they need to speed up the debate, to arrive at an agreement, some sort of reconciliation.
The next morning the three watch Dogs call a meeting between Priory steward Derek, Priory sister Cleoplas, Judicator Abraham, and Arch steward Archibald, to all meet up with the Dogs in the garden. The sun is still low but bright, the peaks of the mountains can be seen above the opening in the garden, there is a slight chill mist in the air. A fifth person is also there at the Dogs meeting, slouched against one of the statues is a figure in black with his hat pulled over his eyes. Will doesn’t go far from his charge, keeping an eye on the proceedings. He smiles seeing the Dogs, pulling a swig from his hip flask, pouring some on to the ground seeing the Dogs look at him, showing it to be just water, before fastening it back. The Priory steward and sister, along with the Judicator are all sat, only Archibald is stood greeting them.
Archibald asks if the Dogs have organised this to sort out their knotty problem once and for all. But Ambrose assures him, and the rest, that they are giving them one more day for them to reach a consensus amongst themselves, before they come to one for them. Derek splutters is disapproval, and Ambrose assures him that none of this is very regular. Abraham begins to put his argument forwards before Cleoplas talks over him, asking the Dogs if they can not be swayed from their decision. Ambrose tells all of them that the debate has gone on for too long now, and believes that there will be no agreement soon.
Cleoplas states that she believes that she was beginning to sway towards Derek’s argument, and requests that she have a chance to study over Derek’s text for the night, and ask that she does not be disturbed. Derek quickly agrees with this turn of events. Abraham looks very confused by all of this unfolding before him. Ambrose apologises to him telling him that they appreciate all the work he has put in to this debate.
For the rest of the day the Dogs go investigate how things are back with the bridge. It appears that it has gotten worse again from the previous day. And everyone digs in to help out, unfortunately the wind picks up, so bad that some people almost fall over the edge, making the progress unsafe. The chants go up once more to help them along.
In the evening, back at the guest quarters, the Poet is busy scrawling on the walls complaining to himself, “Someone has stolen, stolen my beautiful, beautiful writing. My work gone, all gone.” Ambrose bits and asks him about his writing, knowing that he had not seen him with any paper. The Poet explains that he had found a chipped and broken piece of stone; he etched upon it and kept it in his pocket. The stone is now missing and he has a hole in his pocket. He was showing some people and had left it, but when he went back it had gone. He believes he had left it near the rockery.
Suddenly a loud echo resounds around the whole retreat, amplified and lasting long due to the mountains confines. The Dogs recognising it instantly as a gun shot, and quickly trace the sound back to it source. Pushing past the gathering people, they finally find themselves back at the Library.
Bookcases have been knocked aside, a figure spread out across one. But what draws the attention is the figure of Abraham lying holding his head, blood pouring from a wound in his skull. Cleoplas is lead next to him helping, her crutch knocked flying. The crumbled figure on the bookcase is that of Derek, a figurine of the tree of life in his hand, bloodied. Also about a quarter of his skull is missing. Standing in the corner of the room, a smoking gun in hand, stands Will, he spits a stone from his mouth as the Dogs look at him. “Before anyone says anything, I told you I would protect my charges.”