Things Turn Bad

The sun is busy climbing to its apex while the three Watch Dogs go to have a word with Waitstill.  As they approach the steward Gabriel’s abode they see that he is outside busy conversing with a chestnut tanned Angelo.  Upon seeing the Dogs approach, Angelo turns and greets them with a smile, asking how they have been finding things.  Angelo turns back to Gabriel and tells him that he agrees, knowing what he is saying but states that his way would be better in the long run.  He shakes Gabriel’s hands asking him to let him know, and telling him to look after those two.  As Angelo passes the three Watch Dogs he smiles once again at them, asking that if they need anything to let him know.

Gabriel stands in the doorway to his house, his face looking drawn like he has been up all night, his fiery hair all ruffled up and signs of bags under his eyes.  However he still has a smile on his face as he greets them, standing in his steward’s robes.  He welcomes them in, informing them that Azubah is resting right now but she will be having a talk with Micajah later, “hopefully it will do her some good.”  Gabriel shares that Micajah is a good man and has fathered many children in his time, being sure that he should be able to pass on some wisdom to her in her difficult time.  Gabriel tells them that he has been keeping an eye on her nearly every few minutes or so.  He opens the door to Azubah’s room and peers in, “she is sleeping right now so we had best be quiet for now.”

Ambrose asks Gabriel that they are there to talk with Waitstill.  Gabriel wonders if they would like him to sit in on their talk with her, as he believes that she mostly trusts him.  They tell him that that will be up for her to decide.  Gabriel opens the door to Waitstill’s room and informs her that the three Watch Dogs are there to talk with her, and if she would like he can sit in on the conversation.  After a pause she replies, “Just let them in already!” sharpness to her tone.

As they enter the very small room, they see sat a young blonde haired girl, her belly bulging and cheeks rosy.  A pale white line is noticeable on her cheek that goes down on to her chin.  She holds her knees up to her as best she can, still taking up half the space in the room.  Her eyes look daggers at the Watch Dogs as they enter.  Jesse seeing this suggests that he had best wait outside the door and listens in on the conversation, “Especially as the women don’t always agree with my presence.”  The others nod in answer, and Jesse leaves.

Waitstill demands of them if they are going to give more sermons, stating that she has heard them all before.  Ambrose assures her that they are not there to give her any sermons, only that they want to find out what had happened.

“Are you going to hunt him down?”  She asks of them.

“That depends on what happened.”  Ambrose replies.

“He ran out on me.  Left me like this.  I think that is enough.  I will tell you his real name even.  Told me you see, whispered it in my ear, when he pretended it was worth something.  You see he lied about his name, it’s not Josiah its Theadus.”  Ambrose repeats the name back to her, and she repeats it once more, telling them that it is his name and for them to find him and make him pay.  Joshua asks her if Theadus had given any indication to where he had gone.  Waitstill bluntly tells them that if she knew she would have told them, “In the direction of away I presume.”  She tells them that they find him and let him know that it was her who told them his real name, that she wants him to know before they string him up.

Ambrose tells her that she is more forth coming than Azubah.  Waitstill tells him that the damn girl is still in love with him.  That she learnt quickly that he was out for one thing, that he was full of lies.  “He wasn’t going to put that ring on my finger.  He wasn’t going to take me to a different town.  We weren’t going to raise a family together.”  Joshua asks her if the guy had said which town he was going to take her to.   Waitstill tells him that he didn’t say a town, just that they would find a bigger town, a house for them to raise a family.  Joshua asks if he had giving any indication of where he was from, but she said he hadn’t, however it sounded from his accent that he was from the eastern region, possibly somewhere near Bridle Falls.  “But that could be fake too.”

They thank her for her time, and she bats back that she has nothing else to do with her time.  And as they leave her she asks if they could let her know once they have him, so that she can sleep better, and so that she can tell the child when it is born that justice was done.

Back outside the three Watch Dogs discuss what their plan of action should be next, when they spot the two lads Hiram and Joseph heading back in to town along the stream.  The ones they saw working the fields the previous day.  The Dogs decide to go over and talk with them.

As the Watch Dogs approach the lads, the one with the bright red hair and pale skin thrusts his hand out in greeting, asking if they are the Watch Dogs he has been hearing about.  Ambrose asks him who they have the pleasure of speaking to.  Hiram replies giving his name to them.  He tells them that he saw them while he was busy in the fields.  He then introduces his quiet friend Joseph, but assures them that he is a nice lad.

Jesse asks them about the fine job they do with looking after Lavina. Joseph blushes upon hearing her name.  With a chuckle Hiram informs them that they have just been there and took some food for her.  He thinks that she must be still sleeping so they left the food on the doorstep.  Jesse praises their thoughtfulness and help.  Hiram tells them that generosity is always repaid so they say, “It’s a fine thing to teach.  Don’t you say so Joseph?”  And gets a mumbled response from him.  Jesse asks Hiram some more questions. Hiram tells them that Angelo suggested that they do this for Lavina.  They both help her out, but usually separately.  They try to give her as much of their time as they can allow, again Hiram asks for conformation from Joseph who carries on looking at the ground and mumbles a response again.  And he assures the Watch Dogs that the good Mr Angelo gives her plenty to occupy her time while alone.

Hiram also talks about Micajah, asking how long the Watch Dogs have known him since they arrived with him.  Suggesting that maybe the old man is getting a bit old for the job.  Shows his concern for the old man being out on the trail and his reaction times probably getting a little slow.  Hiram then asks if they have anything for sale, or anything they are after that he may help out with.  A cheeky grin upon Hiram’s face as he plies his wanted trade.

Suddenly realising that he has gone off track, Hiram returns back to the general subject informing the three Watch Dogs how great this Angelo guy is, and how much better this town could be if even Micajah was more like him.  Jesse asks him more about this Angelo.  They are told that the guy keeps himself busy building and repairing the houses. That it seems like a long time since he arrived, but it must only be about two harvests now since he arrived.  Hiram then tells them about how bad the crop is this year, about how hard they have been working the fields but nothing seems to be helping.  Again he asks conformation from Joseph who still looks to the ground and mumbles a response ending this time with a ‘yes’.

Ambrose asks the lads what they are up to next, what their plans for the rest of the day are.  Hiram admits that they have nothing to do for the rest of the day, but will probably have to tend to the fields later.  Hiram then mulls over that he may have to get in to town with his wears before Micajah can set his up, “with all his new fangled items from the towns he has been swanning off to.”  Jesse asks him what Joseph will be getting up to, as he turns to look at the lad.  Hiram answers for him, telling them that he will probably be studying the good book with his family, he then ruffles Joseph’s hair, dislodging his little cloth hat.  Joseph shrinks away from Hiram’s action, “Yeah I may.  Its important.”  Jesse asks Joseph if he often spends his free time doing this, and is told that Joseph’s parents tell him that it is important, that they have brought him up the right way, to be thankful for everything they have.

Ambrose suggests that they had best leave the lads to get on with their day, and that they have many things to do too.  However once out of earshot from the two lads they discuss what they plan to do next, and come to the decision that they need to talk with this Joseph alone.  While they are stood in the street they see Micajah pull up in his cart and un-sling a large bag from the back of the cart.  He greets the three Watch Dogs.  Jesse nods his head back at him and gets a nod back.  The old man still has a wild shrine to his lips behind his grey beard.  The old man slings the back over his shoulder and walks towards the steward’s house, in his tattered overalls.  He tells the Watch Dogs that he has a busy day, and just wanted to have a word with the new mother and give her a little something.  Joshua quickly asks Micajah before he goes what his opinions are of the two lads Hiram and Joseph.  Micajah shares with them that he is aware of Hiram and his attempts of trying to set up his own little trade, “He is trying to grow old too quick.  There is plenty of time for him to grow up like me.”  Micajah goes on in to the steward’s house without even knocking.  He calls out for Gabriel as he goes in.

The three Watch Dogs take a casual walk around town, to waste a little time before heading to see Joseph.  Soon they see Hiram back out in the field, and can hear a chorus coming from the house they are lead to believe to belong to Joseph’s parents.  This house is no less or better constructed than the rest, however it doesn’t have any little trinkets or carvings that adorn the others, not even any signs of the occupants profession like the rest.

Jesse knocks on the door.  The sound of singing still echoes from the house.  After a few more knocks on the door the singing stops.  Soon they hear a shuffles approach the door, and once opened, greeted by a very long beard that belongs to a short man that looks up to the visitors.  With a low sounding voice he greets them, as Watch Dogs, informing them that his son had told him that he had saw the Watch Dogs.  He then asks them what he can do for them.  Jesse exchanges the greeting with the bearded man, telling him that they heard about the family’s strong belief in the faith, and how they wished to visit and give their blessing.  The bearded man tells them that he is worried for the boy if he goes around being proud of the family, “pride is a sin.”  He tells them that he will have to keep an eye on the boy, not wishing for it to become a habit.  Jesse asks if he has had any problems with the lad.  ‘Eternally’ replies the father and Jesse asks for an example.  The father tells them that he often finds the boy daydreaming, “idol hands…. You know what that means.”  He also explains about the boy had sometimes had his head covering off to one side, “Very disrespectful.”  Jesse subtly probes for answers on the subjects they want to know, like the lads helping Lavina, or how good of Angelo to help her.  The father agrees but reckons that Angelo shows too much of his muscled arms, “Can’t expect ladies not to faint with that sort of display.”

Jesse soon gets around to asking if they could have a private word with his son.  And instantly the father asks if he is some kind of trouble, or wrong in his following of the faith, some word wrong in a pray.  “If so I would happily put a strap to him for doing something so hideously wrong.”  Jesse explains to the father that if it was something like that then they would not ask politely to see him.  He also explains that they only want to praise the lad on his belief in the faith, and to reinforce the father’s teachings.  “Very well.  Praise can’t be sinful if it comes from a Watch Dog.  You best come in then.”  The father steps from the door allowing them entry.  “Don’t mind the wife, she talks sometimes.”

The father calls out for his son, telling him not to keep the Watch Dogs waiting.  Soon Joseph hurries in greeting the three Watch Dogs.  There is no sign of the mother/wife anywhere to be seen.  The father just looks sternly at his son, as if edging his son on to help the Watch Dogs.  Jesse turns to the father and asks him if they could have a ‘Private’ word with his son as requested.  “Oh you mean without me around.”  After explaining himself, thinking he meant a different type of private, the father leaves them alone.

The room the find themselves in only has a simple sign of the Tree of Life and two chairs, nothing more.  Joseph looks nervously at each of the Watch Dogs and then back again.  Jesse tries to relax the lad, offering him to sit on one of the chairs, and then sits himself on the floor nearby.  Joseph protests to the Watch Dogs, telling them that his father has always told him that the youth should stand while the elders sit.  Jesse just tells him that he needs to relax.  Joshua stays stood by the closed door, keeping himself up against it.  Ambrose joins Jesse in questioning Joseph.

The Watch Dogs begin asking Joseph about Lavina.  Ambrose starts by asking him how long he has been taking food for her, and is told that it is probably many months now almost a year.  Jesse doesn’t ask anything yet but tries to keep the lad relaxed, a difficult task for someone such as him, directing an open friendly manner the boy’s way, not standing over him.  Every now and again there can be heard mumbling coming from Joseph, sounding almost like little prayers to himself.  At one point he even stands up and tells them that he is missing his hymn practice, and wishes to be excused not wanting to annoy his father.  Ambrose reminds the lad that they are Watch Dogs and investigating.  Unfortunately Joseph seems to close in on himself even more and sits there with his arms folded, looking down at his arms and only muttering more prayers.

Soon the father knocks on the door, asking if they have finished with the boy yet.  Jesse shakes his head and Joshua informs the father no.  However Jesse seems to be shaking and clenching his fists, his knuckles turning red.  He quickly jumps to his feet as he looks down at Joseph and storms out of the room, neither looking at Ambrose or Joshua, swinging the door open in the fathers face and slamming it shut again behind him, then marches quickly out from the house.

After a moments silence, with no one looking towards the door, Ambrose asks Joseph about Angelo instead.  “Angelo is well liked in the town.”  Joseph replies un-committal.  Joshua joins in with the questions regarding Angelo.  “My father would know more about him.  Ask him.”  However after a pause he looks at the Watch Dogs and adds that he is worried about saying things about Angelo.  He states that Angelo knows things about him and Hiram, and if he found out he spoke then he would be in trouble with the town.  He basically confesses that he had done something bad that he regrets with Hiram, and that Angelo was involved.  That he is worried also about Lavina because she was involved too.  Angelo has been organising everything.  He seems to be saying everything but avoiding the exact detail.  Joshua pushes him for the answer, leaning forward and placing his face close to Joseph.  “He makes Lavina pay for her accommodation, by…by….by,” Joseph looks around at the faces of the Watch Dogs, “by selling her time with men.”

“What, he pimps her?”  Joshua asks bluntly.  Joseph looks totally shock by hearing those words coming from a Watch Dogs mouth, but nods in agreement.  Joshua asks him what it is that Angelo is holding over him, but Joseph tells him that he can not say.  He will not say anymore, he confesses that he has said too much already.  He will not say anymore even with Joshua’s threats.  Ambrose grabs a hold of Joshua’s arm and leads him out of the room, leaving the boy alone.  “Don’t think this is over boy.”  Joshua states as he exits.  The father looks concerned asking what the lad has done, then turns and calls for his wife to bring the strap.  Ambrose instructs the father that the matter is in the hands of the Dogs, to which the father tells him, “very well.  He would have preferred the strap.”  He then looks at Joshua, “I see it in his eyes, he will do what is necessary.”

Outside Jesse stands and calms himself, taking in the fresh air and the sounds of the stream rushing through town.  He notices Micajah carefully making his way out from the steward’s house, holding the large bag gingerly this time.  Micajah nods a greeting apologising that he would tip his hat but his hands are full right now.  He then places the bag careful on the back of his cart.  Once his hands are free he tips his hat at Jesse and apologises that he must go, trade waits for no man.  Jesse asks him what it is that he has in the bag, to which he is told that it is only a few bits and bobs that the steward allowed him to have.  Jesse then asks him if he could take a look before he leaves, then begins to walk towards him without waiting for a response.  Micajah tries to put him off by telling him that he would have to unpack it all and waste the Watch Dog’s time that it is all rather fragile.

As soon as Jesse draws next to the cart, Micajah jumps down from the seat and places himself between Jesse and the back of the cart, holding his hand out in greeting.  Again Micajah tries to dissuade Jesse from the bags contents.  However Jesse ignores him and just stands looking at the bag.  Micajah tells him that he is in a hurry as he is already running later, after spending sometime with Azubah.  But Jesse demands the bag to be opened.  Again Micajah tells him that he is in a hurry, and that he is doing nothing wrong, just doing what he can to help the town out.  Soon Micajah folds and steps back, saying that he was only trying to do the right thing.

Jesse instructs Micajah to open the bag.  He does so rolling back the secured flaps revealing various small trinkets and holy symbols, however in the centre is a wrapped bundle with many air holes.  Micajah leans over and pulls out the bundle un-wrapping the parcel to reveal a small wrinkled pink face and body looking back at him.  Jesse holds his arms out towards Micajah, and he places the bundle in the awaiting arms.  Jesse cradles the small baby in one arm securely then thrust his other clenched fist in to Micajah’s face.  The old merchant collapses like a sack of spuds, mumbling something through his hands that now cradle a swelling face.  Jesse walks off ignoring him, and heads in to the steward’s house.

“I tried. I Tried!”  Micajah shouts out at the steward’s house.  Ambrose and Joshua walk out in to the street hearing this and seeing Jesse carry something towards the steward’s house, kicking the door open.  Gabriel rushes out, his eyes all bleary asking what going on, then noticing the bundle and asking why he has the baby.  Jesse explains to him that Micajah had taken the baby and was going to possibly trade it elsewhere, “Which is only going to add to the problems for the baby, mother and town.”  Micajah rushes up to defend himself with the steward, telling him that he was only trying to help the girl out, and that he wasn’t going to trade as such.  Jesse turns to him and growls at him.  But he carries on and states that he had a family that could not get a child in another town.  Jesse tells him that it is her responsibility to look after the new life, and as Micajah begins to argue more he turns his back on him.  Jesse hands the baby over to Gabriel, telling him to make sure the door is secured next time.  With that done Jesse turns and walks to the door forcing Micajah to go outside and not enter.  Gabriel assures Jesse that he would like to secure the door, however it is off its hinges right now, and for him to tell Angelo that he will need a hand.

“A man tries ‘is best.  I’m sorry Azubah!”  Micajah shouts out as he climbs back on to his cart, he tips his hat at the other two Watch Dogs that walk up, “Hope you don’t have any problem with me leaving town right now?”

“I expect we will be able to catch up with you with we need to.”  Ambrose tells him.  And with that asks anyone that is listen if they know of a good cure for a sore jaw, before raising the reins and heading off.  The light of day is now beginning to dim as the day draws near an end.  The three Watch Dogs stand alone discussing what had happened.

The three Watch Dogs head towards Angelo’s abode, having now decided to have another long word with him.  So with that they head off across the stream and into the dark with only the sound as company.  The lights can be seen in Angelo’s house, the light flickering from its candle source.  Joshua notices that there is a small pile of food left outside Lavina’s house.  The Dogs decide to take a detour and check in on Lavina.

The house is in darkness, not a single candle flickers within.  All the curtains are drawn closed.  Ambrose knocks upon the door.  After a long pause with no response they kick open the door and gain entrance.  It is dark within the house, with long dark shadows everywhere as the moon begins to rise outside in the sky.  A small thin parchment can be made out lying on the floor.  Joshua picks up the parchment and discovers that it is indeed a piece of paper with something written upon it.  Ambrose lights a torch, the fowl dark smoke erupting in to the ceiling of the house illuminating the room.  A thin layer of ice can be made out across the floor.  The message reads, ‘There is no hope left.  No one will come.  I shall be shamed’.  And that is where it ends, in nervous jagged hand writing.

They move in to another room, the light from their torch casting a long shadow from something hanging high up, a chair kicked over on the floor beneath.  The clothes ragged and torn with no heat coming from the long cold body.  The robe noose worn as a necklace upon Lavina’s neck.

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