It is a long journey out to Sandy Spirits, the next town on the Watch Dogs list of places to go. The journey takes them past a town they visited a long time back now, back when they had first set out on their own. A place called Honest Ridge. They find themselves within familiar territory that they can navigate without a problem. There is also the familiar trading post that they had passed through last time. However the three Watch Dogs ride with more confidence than they had previously. The Dogs hear whispers and scurrilous talk about the young couple from before. The baby is almost a year old now, and the mother seems to be excluded from social life, due mostly because of a bad stain that now sits on her character. Some travellers passing through to Ashen Ridge have even thrown insults and verbal abuse at the poor family. The father is not having mush chance if at all to see the child, keeping busy as he is. Both being very much secluded.
The first sign the Watch Dogs notice of Sandy Spirits is the smoke, a fine pale smoke and ash from near to the town. The town is very much on the border with the mountain lands. The mountains are very lush, green and verdant here. There appears to be an almost sand like river around the place, like a quicksand but very long. There are numerous amounts of old wooden bridges spanning the yellow river in various places. As the three travellers ride their horses over one such bridge stone drop from under the wooden expanse, dropping in to the sand and soon being sucked in with a glop. They can see as they cross the bridge small guard post painted a bright red, with several people sat out side. A solitary man rides a horse out to meet them as they come to firm ground on the other side of the bridge. The thin short figure on horse back appears to be waving a bright flag at them. As he approaches to them they can see wrinkles on his face, showing him older than first thought due to his stature. The short man shouts a hail to them as he waves his flag to them.
As the short man pulls up to the three Watch Dogs, they see that he is a very skilled ride, applying his small body efficiently to control the horse. He smiles up to them and greets them, “I am not an expert, but I am going to go out on a limb and say… Are you three Watch Dogs?” Jesse plainly states a no answering him. The short man blinks with this, “Oh well my apologies. I thought with the coats and all that. Shocks don’t I feel like an ….” Jesse quickly interrupts informing him that there is a harsh winter coming and they wish to be wrapped up warm. The short man agrees with this statement, swearing that those be the coats of a Watch Dog. Jesse assures him that they may look that way but they are very warm and cosy. “Oh, well a pleasure to meet you.” Jesse replies likewise introducing himself as Jesse, and then asking for his name. The guy introduces himself as Tall Jacob. Jesse then introduces Ambrose and Joshua.
Tall Jacob asks Jesse what brings them to Sandy Spirits. Jesse explains to him that they are heading out west, saying they saw the town and thought they would stop off to find a more comfortable place to stay for the night, before heading on. Tall Jacob is happy with this explanation but apologises for having to ask for their guns.
“Not a hope in hell.” Joshua quickly states pulling the strap on his rifle tighter. Jesse upon hearing this just turns to Ambrose giving him a knowing look.
“Sorry fella, but the rules are the rules. You cannot carry any weapons in town. We take them off at the guard posts, where we hold them there until you leave.” Joshua just sits there up on his horse just looking back down at Tall Jacob without saying any more. Jacob explains that he doesn’t make the rules, however it does keep the town safe. Jesse asks him who does make the rules, and is told that it is the head of the town, the steward Azurah. Upon hearing this Jesse asks that they would like to meet him when they get in to town.
Jesse draws his pistol and empties the chamber, pocketing the bullet and then hands over the gun to Tall Jacob, telling him that he will have this back. Jacob assures him that he will. Ambrose does not complain as he hands his weapons over. Both Ambrose and Jesse dismount their horses, allowing Jacob to pat them down. There was no more to find on Ambrose. However he does find Jesse’s knuckledusters which Jacob seems happy to have found. Next he moves on to Joshua who he had left till last who is still sat on his horse, asking him if he is going to hand over ‘that big piece of steel’ on his back. Joshua just sits there not moving or answering Jacob, so Jacob makes a move forward to release the rifle.
Brothers Ambrose and Jesse knowing what is going to be coming, decide to step aside and keep out of the coming problem. Not wishing to get involved on either side.
As Tall Jacob reaches up for Joshua’s rifle, Joshua throws a fist down at Jacob. Being aware of what might come, from past experience, Jacob moves slightly to one side keeping hold of the strap and pulling, taking the wind out of the punch. Jacob decides to thrust an elbow towards the horse trying to knock Joshua off. Joshua noticing this, moves the horse to the side and then the kicks his booted foot towards Jacob’s head. Jacob steps back giving himself some distance grabbing for the foot thrown at him. Joshua manoeuvres his horse trying to counter Jacob’s every attempt at getting of the horse.
In the near distance, over by the guard post, more men can be seen rushing out and drawing their weapons. Having seen their colleague meet some resistance, and wishing to back him up quick.
Joshua uses his horsemanship to try and take Tall Jacob out with moving the horse against him. Jacob draws his gun, but as he does so he gets knocked on to his ass by the horse. Staying on the floor, Jacob takes careful aim down the sight of his rifle, trying to make sure he will only hit the rider not the horse. Joshua leans back in his saddle to make himself a small a target as possible, drawing his own gun and sight down the barrel of the pistol along the length of his leg. Some wild shots start to sound out from the riders heading up, but Tall Jacob takes a blast to his chest from Joshua’s smoking gun.
Seeing and hearing the new arrivals getting closer, Joshua shifts himself back and then over to the opposite side of his horse from the other guards, staying in the stirrup but keeping his horse between him and the new shooters.
After some exchange the two approaching guards stop and retreat keeping their distance. Jesse rushes over to Tall Jacob who is now bleeding out badly from his chest. Ambrose comes over to help out. Jesse pockets his knuckledusters and gun back while there.
The two guards hit the ground diving behind some mild sand dunes, leaving their horses between them and Joshua. They start laying a hail of bullets towards the killer on the horse. Joshua loosing it in the joy of the gunfight. He takes careful aim at the closest head that appears above the dunes. The men of the town can be seen run out towards the guard post and taking up arms joining the fray, letting loose their own hail of bullets towards the man on horse back. They are gradually making their way to take the horseman out. Joshua is finding it difficult to get an exact bead on a target with the cloud and smoke from the sand and guards.
Joshua changes aim to one of the men that are running up from the guard post as they are getting way too close. One of the men manages to get close enough to feel the horse’s breath and tries to use the butt of his gun against Joshua. Quick as a flash Joshua throws his body off from the horse down on to the man. The man senses the immanent dangers and luckily avoids the blow, rolling out of harms way. As Joshua stands back up and catch sight of another man, a stocky man, taking aim down the sight of his rifle at him. “This is fa Tall ya son o’bitch!” As the trigger is pulled Joshua rolls coming up behind the guy he tried to body slam, pulling his knife and taking the man as a meat shield. One of the many men now shooting at Joshua shoot at the ground before Joshua making him stumble, thereby allowing the man come meat shield to shove Joshua off.
Under a hail of gun fire, Joshua realises his lose and makes a run for it, leaping onto the back of his horse and riding hard out of there, luckily surviving the incidence. However the remaining men run up and surround Ambrose and Jesse as they are knelt over their colleague Tall Jacob. While all this gun fighting was going on Jesse was trying to help Jacob. His rib cage torn open and blood pouring out, a faint distant gleeful laughing can barely be audible on the wind. Jacob coughs up more blood from his mouth, curling into a ball with the pain. Unfortunately it is impossible for Jesse to do anything for the dying man in front of him even though he tries. All the bullets flying around and chanting voices in the wind beckoning another lost soul certainly didn’t help.
When Brothers Ambrose and Jesse look up from their charge they find themselves surrounded by upset and angry faces looking down at them from behind various pointing guns. Jesse looks back down at Tall Jacob and pulls out his Book of Life, flips open to a page and gives pray to the recently departed. The men surrounding the Watch Dogs make a grab for them and their books. Ambrose holds his book up in front of him telling them that they are Watch Dogs.
The angry mob start to shout and kick at the two Watch Dogs, spitting and clawing at them. They grab the book from Ambrose not hearing his words, and pushing him to the ground. They also make a grab for Jesse’s book, and quickly pull his book back away from them not letting any touch it. Jesse tries to stand up and push them away from him, telling them that they do not touch a Watch Dog’s book. Shouts of ‘murder’, ‘heretics’, ‘filth’, and ‘shut up’ can be heard as the men thrust the butt of their guns at Ambrose and Jesse. Jesse swings himself around taking his book out of reach and using his arm to deflect a strike hitting him. Now facing them again, Jesse places his book safely back within his coat, and then lies down on the ground spreading his arms out, “You are dealing with a Watch Dog! Watch what you are doing.” Unfortunately Jesse’s warnings go unheard amongst all of their shouts and stomping. A gun butt thrusts down hard towards his mouth wishing to shut him up. Jesse quickly moves his face avoiding the blow to the mouth, but however gets caught in the side of the head. He pulls himself to his knees and informs them as he spreads his coat before them that they are doing more damage than they realise, telling them again that he is a Dog and his colleague is also a Dog, “We are Watch Dogs.” The mob doesn’t seem to pay any attention to his words or the coat he wears, shoving at his head and forcing it down. “You should be feeling ashamed. He was a good man. That was the best man. If you knew what was best you would keep your filthy mouth shut.” They drag Jesse along toward town, as he gives up and passes out.
They take the book from the inside of Jesse’s coat. “Must have stolen this from a better man.” Brother Ambrose looking over at him spots that he has passed out and blood is coming out from his ear. Ambrose implores to the men dragging Jesse, that he needs medical attention now. A guy looks back at Ambrose, staring into his eyes and chews slowly on some tobacco. After spitting on the ground, “Right, give him the same chance you gave my mate. Not much but at least he tried. Take your best shot then.” His face screwed up he steps back, a gleam of satisfaction in his eyes. Ambrose grits his teeth and thanks him kneeling down to attend to Jesse.
The men drag/take Ambrose and Jesse to town. Upon passing the guard post they stop to drop off the weapons they took from them. As they enter town proper a couple of men have calmed enough to wonder quietly to themselves, “What if they really are Watch Dogs.”
“Watch Dogs wouldn’t have shot a guy for no reason.”
“Yeah but what if they are?”
“Let steward deal with that.”
Ambrose being the only one of the Watch Dogs there or not unconscious manages to get to see a piece of the town as he is taken through. There are signs of the winter closing in. The only water butt, from the looks of things, in town has some cracked ice. There seems to be a section of town separate from the rest. The doors closed and bars on the windows. It has the appearance of a place where they would keep people suffering from a plague or sick. Lots of smoke is belching out from the holes in the roof. A system they use to try to smoke out the illness. There are also signs around the other part of town of a pending wedding. Also Ambrose notices some odd curiosities here and there around town. Like four leaf clovers, or small pools of milk outside a door and horse shoe on a door.
Eventually Ambrose is brought before a slim tanned man of middling years, with grey hairs starting to show. He wears a thread bear and thin smock and tabard. He looks weary, and his eyes are down cast. It looks like the news of the death is another weight on his shoulders. The man looks over at Jesse who is still unconscious and bleeding, but is now on the mend. He then looks back over at Ambrose, “Oh it was such a fine King of Life given day.”
The steward Azurah informs Ambrose that Tall Jacob was a good man, and asks why he friend had shot him. Ambrose tells him that his colleague objected to having his weapons taken from him. “Heck of a reason to kill a man.”
“I’ll be having words with him later about that.” Azurah asks whether he believes that he will have a chance. Ambrose believes so.
”Why I hear two of you just stood by and watched as he shot him.” Ambrose explains that they don’t usually interfere in each others business. Next Azurah asks why they wear the garb of Watch Dogs.
“Because we are Watch Dogs.” Azurah apologises telling him that he finds that hard to believe.
“Theres a rule around these parts. If something is done by a group of bandits, you hang the lot of them. Never been much for that one myself. Never believed in judging the group by one member. But…theres gonna be a lot of people calling for that now.” Ambrose just agrees with understanding with these sentiments from the town’s steward. He explains that their friend has been ridden off and will not be back unless he want a bullet in the head. “They are gonna want something. I have the horrid urge to actual call some Watch Dogs and see them try you. But I think that will be exasperating things a bit much.” Ambrose explains that he would have no problems with them calling in Watch Dogs. “It all really comes down to if you are Watch Dogs or not. Cause if your not your wearing the garb of Watch Dogs, which means you killed them. If you are Watch Dogs then… Well hasn’t this been fun.” He then asks Ambrose, addressing him as Watch Dogs, how they should deal with this situation.
Ambrose agrees that the townsfolk have ever reason to be angry, and that it will be a difficult one to try. The steward asks for a test of faith as a possible why of finding out the truth. He then explains that there was an old test involving the protect of the King of Life, where by they got a bowl of boiling water, and the man plunges his hand in to the water and holds it there. The King of Life would protect you if you really are. Give you the strength to pull through. “If not then the demons know their own.” Ambrose assures him that he is fully confident in his resolve, instructing the steward for two bowls when asked. Azurah reassures Ambrose that he will not be wanting to test his unconscious friend, but Ambrose corrects him and tells him that it is for him. Smiling back the steward states that he is not the one on trial. Ambrose explains that to make it fair a person they know to be innocent and protected by the King of Life should also take the test. Again Azurah laughs informing Ambrose that the protection would only be for the Watch Dog, “And I have not earned that distinction.”
“There is no need of this.”
“There is every need. We need to know if you’re a Watch Dogs or not. If you’re not you’re dead. If you are then this has been a horrible, horrible misunderstanding.” This debate between Brother Ambrose and steward Azurah about how to test and whether it needs to be done goes on for several minutes arguing back and forth. Ambrose quotes obscure passages from the Book of Life at him, showing his knowledge of the book, informing him that the King of Life has shown that he should not be taken for granted. That the arcane ritual is nothing more than a sideshow for the angry mob. Azurah agrees that they need to not take Ambrose statement of a Watch Dog for granted. That the ritual has never been written, but it has definitely been around.
Steward Azurah brings out the bowl of boiling water, looks in to the eyes of brother Ambrose, “Well argued, Watch Dog.” He then places the bowl down and covers it with a damp cloth. With a sigh he then commands for them to be released. “I am very sorry for what happened here. I don’t know what it could have been. Tall Jacob had the greatest of respect for the Watch Dogs. I don’t know why he would have done this.” He explains that they do have rules about weapons and can not explain why he would have drawn on a Watch Dog. Ambrose apologises for the loss of his friend stating that it is a terrible mistake. Assuring him that Jacob will get the best introduction to the King of Life. When asked to explain, Ambrose tells him that it was simply a matter of confusion over the law of weapons. “Very well, you are free to go. We shall not hold you. May I advice that staying in this town will be a bad idea.” He explains that they may tolerate them but not their friend.
Before they leave he tells them some information as recompense. He explains that they had someone come by recently, a guy tried to weave pretty words and thoughts on their women folk, but they had already heard of him. He had given his name as Elijah but they knew this to be not true, however they found out his real name to be Bartholomew. They didn’t allow him to stay and moved him on. He shares that he knows the man was heading towards Ashen Ridge.
“I’m sorry that it came to this. We are glad that we didn’t accidentally kill a Watch Dog. And we have sorrow for a loss of one of our own. Hopefully this knowledge in the name of the King of Life, you will be able to punish those that have sinned, and it may make some good come out of this darkness.”