Judgement comes to the mountain retreat

It is a bright crisp fresh morning, and the Dogs are out early to have a talk with Abraham and Cleoplas.  However when they arrive in the Apothecary they find the two beds empty, and not slept in for some hours.  Also they discover that Will is also not within the confines of the monastery anymore.

The Dogs go straight to the gate house, the only way that leads from the monastery to the road across the bridge.  A white thin blanket of frost can be seen spread across the garden and fields as the sun slowly rises above the horizon, its warmth not yet touching the cold ground.

The gate keeper greets the three watch Dogs as they approach, a smile on his face, and cheer in his voice.  Ambrose greets him back and straight away asks if he has seen three people heading out of the monastery recently.  “Would that be the injured man that Will was taking in to town?”  Ambrose asks if there was a woman as well, to which the gate keeper confirms.  Without a pause Ambrose asks how long ago this had taken place, and the keeper tells them that it must have been around four hours ago now, near the beginning of his shift.  Ambrose thanks him, and Jesse checks with the guy to which town they were heading.  The gate keeper admits that he did not ask them, but presumes that they would be going to Ladies Lament.

Jesse checks which way the three had headed before he looks for and picks up a trail to follow, going by the age of the trail to differentiate it from other marks.  Near the start Will had knocked a barrel of water that was used for the workers, across the trail to try and cover his progress.  Every now and again Jesse will stop to check up close which trail is whose, making sure he follows the correct one.  Eventually after leaving the confines of the mountains, the trail suddenly deviates and heads towards Glenn’s Oasis, instead of going to Ladies Lament.

Knowing which way Will and his charges are now heading, Jesse makes a decision to try and take some short cuts and less travelled routes to Glenn’s Oasis, hoping in making up some time.  He keeps the other two Dogs informed in what is happening.

The three Dogs press their horses through the wilderness.  In hope to use what knowledge they picked up from training around this area while they were in Bridal Falls.  It appears that even though Will is travelling with a disadvantage or two with Abraham and Cleoplas, he is however pushing them as quickly as possible.  The ground through this un-travelled pass is still frozen making it tricky, along with it being more overgrown, for the watch Dogs to go at full speed.  They allow their horses to have free rain, relying on the horses senses to make it safely through.  However this means that occasionally the riders have to watch out for low branches, unfortunately Jesse does get whipped by one such branch.  Small little lock picking tools get knocked out of his pocket, unaware of his loss at this time.  Again every now and again Jesse stops to make sure they are heading in the correct direction.

Because Will is pushing them with haste, Abraham is not fit for such a rough journey and he begins to suffer from the exertion, he starts to cough and choke.  Will turns to try and help Abraham, but his horse jerks its head, and Will quickly catches the rains wrenching his arm in the process as he dangles over the side.

Once Jesse leads the Dogs through the short cut, they make good ground but find that Will has been by and are already within the swampy ground near Glenn’s Oasis.  Not long do they travel through this area before coming across an un-expecting scene.  A lone horse is first spotted, busy eating at some grass.  They then see Abraham, his head still bandaged, lying against a tree.  Then they see Cleoplas, her crutch cast aside while she leans over a prone Will.  There is a very nasty purple swelling around Will’s chest.  As they draw closer they see that Cleoplas is trying to dig out Will’s knife.  She pricks at the swelling, allowing the pressured liquid ooze out all thick and yellow.

The Dogs have not been spotted yet.  Jesse quickly stops and holds the others up, telling them to hush and drawing their attention to the scene before them.  They can tell they are within the swampy area of Glenn’s Oasis as the air is thick and damp, even at this time of the year they begin to sweat from the heat.  This is not the best of condition for anyone injured to be left in.

“If you hadn’t drank all that demon liquid, I could have used it to clean your wound.”  They can hear Cleoplas mutter over Will.  “But no, you had to be stupid and pour it down your neck.”  The three watch Dogs just ride straight up to them, not worrying about them trying to flee.  Jesse concentrates on how bad Will is, dismounting near to him and Cleoplas.  The wound is very bad, but Jesse takes no chances and takes all of Will’s weapons from him.  Cleoplas spots them at the last minute and starts at the suddenly appearance.  “Could you at least give me a moment dears, I would rather not have this man die being the last thing I do.”  Jesse pays no attention to her and just concerns himself with Will and his weapons, not stopping her doing what she can.  “Would you be so kind as to pass me some of the powder please.  I need to cauterize this wound.”  Jesse still says nothing, but once he has all of Will’s weapons in his possession he takes a bullet from Will’s gun, breaks open the cap and pours the powder in to her hand.

Ambrose steps in to help Cleoplas with Will.  She moves aside allowing him access.  The powder spread around the wound she cut open.  Ambrose spread the powder more efficiently on the wound and sets it alight, the heat intense for a matter of seconds.

Will wakes has he roles over to his side and vomits on to the ground.  His eyes match those of Ambrose, quickly with instincts his hand goes for his gun, patting an empty holster.  “Fuck it!”  Jesse just stands there looking down at him, and Ambrose ignores his actions, as Will steadies himself on his knees.  Cleoplas has managed to retrieve her crutch, leaning herself against a tree.  “So, it seems that you followed us my dearest watch Dogs?”

“Seems that you have a guilty conscious.”  Ambrose replies to her.

“I suppose somewhat.”  Will spits to the ground and adds, “A friend of yours pulled a machete on me for talking back.  Excuse me for I didn’t think that you would do particularly happy for anything else.  Don’t call that sort of thing justice from where I am from.”  Jesse reminds him that he had told everyone not to say anything and wait until the morning even though he had insisted.  Will smiles at him, then winches as he coughs up more yellow Phlegm.  “Yeah odd that ain’t it.  My fault that theirs, don’t hold it against them.”  Jesse assures him that they will hold against who ever they wish.  “Yeah you will wont ya.”  Jesse reminds him who he is dealing with.  “No I know completely.”  He turns and looks at Joshua.  Joshua smiles back at him.  “Listen the guy came in and tries to take a swing at Abraham here.  I don’t feel any guilt for taking him down.”  Ambrose states that he had defended a man of the cloth, and Will confirms this asking what the problem is.  Jesse asks him why he ran, why he had shot the man and ran.  Will coughs more and pain shoots through his body, then turns and looks at Joshua again, “Because of psycho over there.” Cough “Listen that guy pulled a knife on me for talking back.  Considering everything else I didn’t think there would be a fair trial.”  Jesse asks him what the fair trail would be for.  “Death to your friend.”  Jesse then asks him that he should probably explain why he had to kill him.  However as Will starts to tell them that he doesn’t know, Cleoplas interrupts him, “ Dearest Will I think you have done enough for us, I thank you dearly, but you don’t have to protect us.”  Jesse agrees with her looking at Will telling him that he is only making it worse, then asks that perhaps the truth should come out now.  “Before you kill anyone else trying to hide it.”  Ambrose adds.  Will laughs telling them that he is only risking killing himself.  “Okay it is your choice, but I advice you not to.  If you run now I may be able to keep the guns down long enough.  But with the crutch…”  Jesse turns to Cleoplas, “I suggest you remember who you are dealing with, we are not that stupid.”

“I never thought you were stupid my dear watch Dogs.”  She pauses before adding, “I will admit I was worried, Will is a bit of a brute but he doesn’t lie, and what he said about Brother Joshua scared me.”  Again she pauses looking at the other two watch Dogs, “Did not a watch Dogs say to us that some times deceit was the lesser of evils and was required.”

“Is that true now?”  Ambrose asks her.

“It was never meant to be anything my dears.  We just enjoyed the discussions, the company.  My dear Abraham has such a good mind for such things. And until the Arch steward declared the stewards would not go out, it seemed no harm in us enjoying the discussions.  To have a mind so that we can gain such understanding.  You can not tell me such a thing is a sin.”  Jesse explains that this is what comes with deceit, instead of being honest with themselves and the King of Life, they have caused more problems.  Cleoplas tells them that she begged the Arch steward to allow the stewards out, but he would not no matter how much she argued it.  Jesse asked her why she kept up the deceit, and she told them that if not Abraham would be sent back and would not see him again.  Her duty is with the monastery and could not leave.  Will tries to chirp in once more but the Dogs pay him no heed, stating he is not dead yet.  Jesse explains to Cleoplas that this has caused a lot of problems, two injured people and one dead.  “There was nothing except for intellectual…”

“Stimulation?” Jesse adds for her.

“I wasn’t going to pick that word.” She pauses once more looking drained.  “On the last night I just wanted to say goodbye to him, it was just…..just one moment of embrace and…goodbye.  And that’s when he walked in.  I admit that my lips were upon his but… Was that worthy of trying to kill him?”

“No.” Ambrose answers her.  “And if it was a crime of that magnitude, of that seriousness, then it should not have been judged in hot blood.”  Cleoplas admits to them that when she saw the Dogs arrive she knew it was too late, and that she wanted one more night to say goodbye to him.  “Just to fill his lips on mine once before saying goodbye, that was all.”  Tears begin to well in her eyes.  “I’m sorry watch Dogs.”

“This heathen…” Ambrose begins before being interrupted by Will coughing with a laugh.  “Yes I am talking about you.”

“No chance you’re going to do the honourable thing.”  Will asks with a smile across his face.  “Six paces and then see who is standing at the end.”  Jesse looks at the other two watch Dogs and asks if they agree, that they should head back to Modesties Retreat with the three.  A smile that was on Joshua’s face drops.  Again Will tries to do his job and suggests that the Dogs let them go, he will take them to the next town, and the Dogs tell everyone that they had died or something.  But Ambrose instructs him that they can not do that, telling him that their actions have invited demons to the monastery.  Will tries to pull himself up on a tree, put he quickly drops back to the floor coughing, “I thought it was Cleoplas that had a problem with walking.”  He laughs as he coughs.

Ambrose tells Will and Cleoplas that they will have to be taken to the nearest town, as Will and Abraham’s wounds need to be attended to.  The Dogs then discuss whether going back to Glenn’s Oasis right now would be a good thing, or whether they should head back to Modesties Retreat.  They also discuss what to do with Will, Ambrose and Joshua are in agreement that he has acted honourably and feel that he should be allowed to go.  Will gives out a pained laugh upon hearing this, and asked that five coins will also help him on his way.  Ambrose tells Cleoplas that once judgement has passed, she along with Abraham will have to leave their posts.  Cleoplas pales with this and tells of her worries for the monastery, they have already lost Priory steward Derek and there is no one who can take his place, and once Arch steward Archibald passes away there will be no one.  She offers that she at least help to find a replacement before she has to serve he punishment.  Jesse suggests to Cleoplas that she says no more and awaits until they all return to Modesties Retreat, where they will then be heard and all discussions considered.

Jesse makes sure that Will is secured to his horse, and comes no where near any weapons while they journey back to Modesties Retreat.  Joshua also keeps an eye on Will, perhaps waiting for an opportunity.  However they all travel back to the monastery without incident, and the wounded survive the ride.

No sooner do the party arrive within Modesties Retreat, and begin to dismount, when a large figure marches out to greet them, his booming voice sounding out to them.  “You got him.  The watch Dogs got their man.  Please come down here so I may embrace you all for your duty.”  A smile spreads on Arch steward Archibald’s face.  The Dogs stand by their horses and captives, just looking over at the Arch steward.  Archibald asks them if they had any hardship on their travels.  “So you have brought him back then, for his punishment to be in front of all those that he has done wrong with his murderous ways.”

“I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed.”  Ambrose informs the Arch steward.

“What do you mean watch Dog?” his voice a little more subdued.

“I mean that the man Will has acted honestly, and has far as he can honourably.”  Arch steward Archibald’s face drops upon hears this, the color draining out.  “WHAT!”  Ambrose stays silent just looking at him.  “What is the meaning of this watch Dogs, he has killed one of my finest friends and the Priory steward of this retreat.”

“The Priory steward of this retreat was advancing upon two fellow clergy in hot blood, carrying a sacred symbol, intending to use it as a murder weapon.  And your friendship with him is none of my concern.”

“So…what are you telling me, that he will get away scot free on a technicality?”

“I am telling you that he has acted honourably as he knew how, and there for deserves no punishment.”  During this Will can be seen busy biting down hard on his lower lip, trying to keep his face like a poker face.

“But the steward Derek was a good man…..”

“Who acted in a moment of weakness.”

“For what?  He would not have attacked for no reason.  They may have been thieving, taking from the library.”  Joshua suggests to Archibald that they should carry on with this in private.  Archibald asks that if they so order then he will, but he would prefer this to be open.  Jesse assures him that things will be out in the open once the judgment has been passed.  Archibald reluctantly agrees with them, but voices his disapproval.  And with that Arch steward Archibald leads the watch Dogs away.  Will whispers to the watch Dogs as them pass him, “Can I go now?” but quickly Jesse tells him a blunt “No.”

“This needs to be cleared up first.”  Ambrose adds.  So Will asks if he can be untied, to which Jesse gives him another blunt no.  Will tries another approach stating that he has a really itchy nose, and if someone could scratch it.  However Jesse tells him that he will have to suffer.  Joshua suggests that he has something on his belt that could help him, tapping his hip.

Arch steward Archibald leads them to his private study once more, he sits down behind his desk absent mindedly spinning the globe.  The Dogs bring Cleoplas and Abraham with them.

“Very well watch Dogs, what is it that you have found.  Before you told me that I needed to wait.  And I have waited so long, though my heart be heavy with sorrow.”

“The problems here have been caused by Priory sister Cleoplas and Judicator Abraham, not by the disruptive influence of Will.”

“What is it that they did?  Has she been conspiring to try and take Derek’s position?  I could understand that.  With him gone it would fall to her to take the line.  Were they conspiring against my honourable steward?”

“No, the honourable steward as you refer to him, was taken over by rage when he had discovered that they had strong romantic feelings for each other.”

“They were discovered in each others arms kissing.”  Jesse adds to the situation.

“They have, they were…in the library!  No wonder he was in such a rage, that such a holy place was defiled by their lust.”

“They embraced on the last night they might see each other again.  It is hardly a matter of unbridled lust.”  Ambrose concludes.  Archibald frowns upon hearing this, “Very well watch Dogs, if that is your ruling.  Who am I to gain say you.  But what now?”  Ambrose explains what, he tells Archibald that clearly the Judicator Abraham and Priory sister Cleoplas can not keep their positions any longer, to leave the service in the King of Life.  Archibald blames Abraham for his time in the east and being tainted, for not being pure of soul any longer.  He suggests that they should be sent back to the east, to join the heathens and the sins that thrive there.  Cleoplas upon hearing this goes very pale.  Abraham shakes his head and coughs, “I understand if that is what you wish, but the punishment seems so very cruel, if that is what you say but…I went to the east to bring people to the faith.  Every moment I was there, I longed to be back here.  If you are that cruel…then….at least let it be cruel with myself and Cleoplas together, for anything more and surely you might as well kill me now.  To send me from my faith, and the finest woman I have ever known at the same time.”  Cleoplas blushes upon hearing this.

“No the town of Glenn’s Oasis had a problem with an over zealous ex-preacher.  I think they should be able to handle these two quite well.”  Archibald asks Ambrose what it is that he is suggesting.  Ambrose explains that since they were unable to keep their loyalty to the King of Life or maintain their oaths to the King of Life.  They should no longer be considered stewards and should be sent to Glenn’s Oasis.  “Oh yes I remember.  I remember who had retired there.”  Archibald slowly says as he remembers, laughing to himself.  “Yes that will be a good place to send them.”  Ambrose begins to say that it was a shame that the lady that had retired there was over zealous, but get interrupted by Archibald, “Oh I don’t think that will be a problem.”

“Not anymore.”  Joshua pipes up and Ambrose agrees.  “We had words.”

“She is resting there now.”  Ambrose confesses to him.

“Oh, very well.  I can’t believe you managed to tame a spirit such as hers.  Very well, surely you are true watch Dogs then.  But what shall we do here, my time is short.  I will not have my retreat seen, laid to ruin through lack of guidance for people’s souls.  What shall I do watch Dogs?  There is no one here that I can entrust with everybody’s souls.  I have been betrayed by those I would have given it to.”

The three Watch Dogs, Ambrose, Jesse, and Joshua turn to each other and have a quiet discuss amongst themselves before turning back to Arch steward Archibald.  The Jesse speaks up and announces to Archibald, about having a clause in Abraham and Cleoplas’ banishment, that they have to find a suitable replacement steward that can fill the role of being a Priory steward, who will then replace the Arch steward when he retires, before they have peace to settle together in Glenn’s Oasis.  For the Arch steward to groom the steward ready for the job in hand.  “You would entrust finding the future of this retreat to that jezebel?”  Archibald exclaims.  Jesse assures him that he would have the final say in the matter, especially as he is the one who has to train the steward.  That Abraham and Cleoplas will have to make you happy with their choice, knowing that one of them was one of your possible candidates, and that they would know of a suitable person that could meet his standards.  Archibald admits that they argue well, and agrees to trying their suggestion.

“Are we done now?  Can we get this…WOMAN out of my sight?”  Archibald declares.  Ambrose reminds him that he will have to see her again, and that it would be wise for him to hold his temper.  He then confirms to Archibald that they have finished.

“I hope I will live long enough to see my successor.  Now will you excuse me, it has been quite a day already.  I feel the need to contemplate before the King of Life on this.”  Ambrose agrees and allows him.  Arch steward Archibald stands up from his desk and strides out of the room, nor looking of saying any more to them.

The following day Abraham and Cleoplas, no longer Judicator nor sister, leave behind Modesties Retreat in search of a suitable replacement.  Will asks the three Dogs repeatedly how long it is going to be before they let him go.  They ride out of sight of the retreat in the mountains, finally allowing Will the freedom them mentioned to him.  As he leaves he turns back to them, “By the way, I just wondered and don’t expect you to humour me.  I always wondered…if you know…I could take the young ‘un, with out a knife.  No chance he is going to entertain me in a quick friendly before I go.”  Jesse turns to Joshua.  Joshua is sat there on his horse, a big smile on his face.  Jesse then turns to Ambrose.  Ambrose sighs and Jesse turns his back to Joshua and Will.  “None of my business.”  Ambrose finally speaks up.  “If you want to be fools.  Go for it.”

Will first demands that Joshua put his weapons down first, not wanting what happened before to happen again.  Joshua quietly places his weapons in a heap on the floor.  He then stands in a fighting stance slowly circling around Will, waiting for him to throw the first punch.  Will walks up to Joshua holding his hand out in a friendly handshake.  Joshua looks at the hand almost missing the fact that Will was playing dirty, and throws his head at Joshua, white pain flashing through his head as Will’s head makes contact with Joshua’s nose.  Joshua shakes his head clearing his senses, and then lunges forward throwing his fist towards the centre of Will’s face.  Will moves with the blow locking Joshua’s fist against his shoulder as he tries to head butt him once more.  Joshua drops down and rolls away pulling his hand and arm free from Will’s grasp.  However Joshua rolls over his weapon pile and picks up his knife, standing to his feet, legs wide and knife held out in front of him.  Quickly seeing this Will dives to one side coming back to his feet, shock on his face, “Oh for fucks sake, not again!  Will someone pass me a gun!”

“Do you really want to go there?”  Joshua answers Will.

“Sure pass me a gun.”  Joshua stands there facing him, his knife still held out in front of him, keeping his eye of Will but making no move for a gun.  “Tell you what then, let me just walk over and pick it up then.”  Jesse turns around and takes a look at the scene to see for himself how serious this is turning out, looking at Joshua.  A smile is etched on Joshua’s face.  Jesse then turns to Ambrose for a reaction.  After a pause Jesse asks Ambrose if they should step in and stop this squabble.  Ambrose thinks about it, but then Will makes a move towards the guns.  Jesse standing near the guns steps over them and sits upon the pile, making his intention clear.  Seeing this Will puts his hands up and declares, “Okay, okay.  First to the floor does hey.”  Will then just collapses back on to the floor.  “Okay.  Now don’t stab me while I’m down.”  He then mutters to himself, ‘Fucking hell he pulled a knife again!’  “You win.”  He nervously looks at Joshua, not taking his eyes from him.  Ambrose walks over to Joshua and tells him that he can put the knife down now.  After a pause the knife goes back in to the sheath on Joshua’s belt.


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