A Plan Formulated and Dashed

The three Watch Dogs are now held up within the town’s chapel, along with the town’s steward Cresse.  The blizzard is still raging outside, showing no signs of letting up and soon covering the last remains of what had been a blazing fire mere minutes before.  Ambrose has some minor burns on his hands from where he tackled the fire, and as for Jesse and Joshua they managed to survive the assault with a few minor cuts and bruises.  Cresse on the other hand is sat there in the chapel, stewing in his own rage, his head all red from the blood that rushes around his skull.  However he is busy biting his tongue and rubbing his chin as he gives Jesse furtive glances.

The Dogs decide to leave heading back out to the mountains and confront the enclave until the next day, in a hope that the weather may be more favourable.  Especially as the day is very old now and it would be best to wait until a fresh day begins.  During the night Cresse mutters in his sleep, anger still on his lips. ‘Infidels.  Infidels. INFIDELS! They should be burnt….’  Jesse suggests to the others that it would be best if they had Honora as a guide again, what with her knowing her way around, and the weather being as bad as it is.  He feels that it would be safer and save time, even though they all agree that it would have been better to have gone on their own.

Jesse heads on over to Emmett’s house to have a word with Honora.  He fights his way through the blizzard, his feet crunching in the snow.  Jesse manages to find his way safely, purely by intuition than sight, back to Emmett’s.  The door is opened but a crack by Honora, her face squinting out in to the storm.  She blinks a few times before being able to make out Jesse standing there and hurries him in.  Jesse gives his coat a quick shake off before entering and then hurries in, the door closing with haste behind him.  “The man of the house is umm, otherwise occupied at the moment.” Honora fiddles with her beads as she finds the words, and then asks if there is anything she can help with.  Jesse assures her that he had come to see her anyway.  He informs her that he will not take too much of her time, and asks her if she would be willing to help them once more in the morning, to guide them back up in the mountains.  She replies that she would be happy to help them, and believes that Kisiah would be able to keep the house while she is gone.  Honora offers Jesse for him to stay there at her place, but Jesse assures her that he would have to head back out to inform the offers anyway, so he would still be back out in the storm.  He thanks her for the hospitality and heads out, saying that they will meet at day’s break first thing in the morning.  She nods and closes the door behind him.  For a moment Jesse believes he could hear some sort of murmuring from behind the door, the voice is of Honora’s, a slightly sarcastic tone but he can not make out the words.

Jesse makes it back to the chapel without incident, and finds the others already huddled up within their respective cots.  Joshua’s rifle stretched out next to him as he lays there, his arm and hand resting upon the cold steel.  The nights sleep was not very restful due to the harsh cold, but they all manage to rise with the light.  Steward Cresse busy making the mornings meal of oats for them all.  The Dogs welcoming in the King of Life to another new day.  Soon a knock on the door and Honora is let in by Ambrose.  Honora pulls her hood from her head, shaking the snow from her green cloak.  Jesse greets her and thanks her once more for assisting them.  All her trinkets, necklaces and beads jingle as she shakes, and she quickly tucks them back within her coat.  She warns them that the weather does not show a good omen for the day.  The Dogs rush the warm porridge down, feeling the heat radiate from their stomachs.

Before leaving Honora checks where they wish to head, and the Dogs have a quick discussion about whether they should in fact head to the Mountain Folk first before confronting the enclave.  They all agree that meeting with them first would be the best option, so they ask Honora to lead them there first.  Wrapping up they head on out in to the snow.

The journey is a lot tougher this time out, and takes a longer time to make progress.  Honora helps them all the best she can, she even hands out small tools that will help them.  It is almost as if they can hear mocking laughter in the wind as they slow trudge on.  Ambrose can hear more within the blizzard, like it is mocking his family and the past.  However Ambrose keeps his composure by remembering that he had put his brother’s sins in a grave back home.  The journey takes almost the whole day to make it to the outskirts of the Mountain Folk’s encampment.

They arrive at the pass that they to wait at the last time, only barely recognisable as the grey light is dimming.  And they soon hear voices in the shadows, “They return.” From the side and in front they hear, “Stop where you are.  The chief is not happy with you.”  Ambrose is shocked with this statement and repeats the statement.  Next they are asks for what purpose they are back on their land.  As the figures come out of the shadows and snow, Ambrose informs them that they are there to warn them and give information about what had happened on ‘their’ land.

The natives ask Ambrose to give the message, and before telling them he insists that it would be best to give it to their chief.  He tells them about a female from their tribe, Flying Eagle, had gone to their town, assaulted their holy man and possibly set fire to the town’s food store.  They then hear a voice above them, that of a familiar voice of Sleeping Dog, “Can’t you see that they got a woman folk with them.  Let them through, you wouldn’t want her to die of the cold.  You may have something against the Watch Dogs, but we shall not hold it against their guide.”  Jesse turns to look at Honora only to find her expression obscured by the storm.  A thud and Sleeping Dog land between them, he now finally wearing a thick bear skin fur upon his body.  He tells them to follow him and he will get them to a tent.  “I can not guarantee you an audience.”

The guards give the Watch Dogs venomous looks as they pass by, and Sleeping Dog leads them to the tribe’s camp, taking them to an empty tent.  Once inside he quickly drops the animal hide on his back revealing his naked tanned body once more.  He places his bow down upon the hide and flexes his muscles as he stretches, Honora quickly looks away.  He turns to the Watch Dogs and wile smile on his face as he flicks his long black hair out of the way.  He looks directly at Joshua, “No chance you’re going to settle our little dispute here and now is there?”

“I wouldn’t want to deprive your people of an able defender at a time like this.” Replies Joshua looking directly back at the native.  Sleeping Dog reminds him that they had agreed to no weapons, and as he does so he once again stretches and flexes his muscles.

Sleeping Dog informs them that his chief Bad Horse is not happy with them.  Ambrose asks him why and Sleeping Dog tells him that it was to do with the promise of sorting out the enclave subtly, and in a reasonable manner.  However he states that they had dragged out Flying Eagles beloved in front of her eyes, dragging him by one arm and that he was worse for wear when they got him back.  Ambrose implores that he needs to speak with his chief, to be able to explain the situation.  Sleeping Dog tells them that he had better take Honora to the women’s tent, knowing how they don’t like to have their women stay in the same place as the men.  He takes her by the hand telling them that he will see what the chief has to stay.  Sleeping Dog lifts the tent flap and leads Honora out, she doesn’t look at him as she is lead out.

The three Watch Dogs are left on their own within the tent, the animal grease shining in the light from the animal hide walls.  The temperature within the tent is almost like that of a steam room compared to the outside.  Ambrose confesses that it has been his entire fault, and that he should deal with this problem himself.  The dogs discuss the problem, reminding Ambrose that it was not his fault, and that he didn’t know it was going to turn out to be his brother.  Soon the flap to the tent rises again, and Sleeping Dog enters once more.  He sits himself opposite the Dogs, openly adjusting himself below.  After this action he clears his throat and tells them that he has spoken to the chief and that he will only speak to one of them.  Ambrose quickly volunteers but then turns to check with the others in case they have anything to add.  Sleeping Dog then lies down stretching out, not hiding his modesty.  He sits back up in a reclined manner asking the other two what they wish to do while they are waiting.  Ambrose quickly answers suggesting that Joshua would do good on the little arrangement he had made.  With a reluctant tone Joshua agrees that it would be a good time to settle things.  Sleeping Dog reclines, “You don’t sound very enthusiastic.”

“Its cold out there.”  Joshua states bluntly.  Sleeping Dog sits up once more and sticks his bare arm and hand outside the tent flap.  He leaves it out there for some time before bringing it back in, covered in frost and snow.  And with an exaggerated mock shocked expression on his face, Sleeping Dog looks at his hand, “Well I never.  I can see they train you Watch Dogs well.”  Then he stands up kicking his coat to one side and slaps his pectoral muscles a few times before indicating to the tent flap, “Shall we?”

Ambrose stands and walks out before Joshua gets to his feet, and heads out in to the snow to make his way to the chief’s tent.  Joshua says nothing but leaves behind Ambrose, shortly followed by Sleeping Dog.  As soon as Sleeping Dog steps out in to the storm he lets out a loud and long wolf howl.  Soon shadows can be seen to move in the blizzard drawing closer to the source of the sound.  “Today is the day that this Watch Dog has finally decided to respect the strength of the Mountain Folk,” Sleeping Dog indicates towards Joshua, “for a friendly challenge between the two of us, a test of skill.”  He stands there proclaiming this with his bare chest exposed to the elements, “We shall face each other with fists, until but one can stand.  Let the weather take us.”  He turns to Joshua to see if he wants to add anything.  “Lets get on with it.” Is all that he adds to the proclamation as he feels the cold forcing its way in to his coat.

Out in the driving snow both Joshua and Sleeping Dog prowl around each other in circles, neither one of them wanting to make the first move.  Suddenly Sleeping Dog senses an opening and lashes forward using the wind behind him to give him more momentum.  He kicks out with the heel of his foot towards Joshua’s stomach.  Luckily Joshua’s nerves pick up on the threat and he side steps just in time, as the native kicks past him.  With this Joshua makes a move of his own punch out at Sleeping Dogs head as he sails by.  However the native seems to be able to sense what is happening and manages to dive and roll forwards avoiding the blow, kicking his feet out as he rolls springing himself back to his feet and ready to defend himself if need be.  He sees another opportunity to attack so lunges forward once more, sending his shoulder barrelling in to Joshua.  Unfortunately this time Joshua was not so lucky, he doesn’t quite make the block as his footing gives way below him on the slippery ice, landing hard on his rear as his feet fly up.  Sleeping Dog’s shoulder only managing to make a glancing blow.  Quickly Joshua jumps to his feet, lunging himself towards his attacker.  This time Sleeping Dog steps back in to the blizzard using that as concealment to his advantage, again avoiding the attack from Joshua, leaving him to just box with the shadows.  Using the advantage Sleeping Dog jumps out from behind to take Joshua by surprise from behind.  Joshua catches sight of him just in time and swings to the side knocking Sleeping Dog past him.  The two carry on slowly moving to look for an advantage just out of arms reach, then Sleeping Dog spots another opening and makes a move.  Joshua notices this and goes to move aside.  However both of them realise that neither of them can move, both of their feet have become frozen to the ground with the extreme of the weather freezing them where they stand.  Both are shocked by this and try to reach other with their arms flailing and reaching out to each other but not making contact.  Soon they both realise the situation they are in and calm their attempts.  Sleeping Dog smiles at Joshua, “I don’t suppose you are going to move in to reach of my arms are you?”

“No.  Not unless you want to come in to reach of mine?”  Sleeping Dog laughs at this and suggests that the spirits are trying to tell them that they need to put this off until another time.  “I think we need to respect the omen Watch Dog.”

“I have no choice but to agree.”

“If somebody could be so kind as to bring some warmed water.  Please”  Muffled laughter can be heard out amongst the shadows.

Soon a couple of fellow Mountain Folk natives arrive with containers holding warmed water, and they begin to pour it on the feet of the two combatants.  Sleeping Dog goes over to Joshua in respect, asking if he will return to settle this once the weather is more clement.  Joshua informs him that he will return, but only at his earliest convenience.  Sleeping Dog claps him on the shoulder and holds him in a brotherly fashion, “I can see why the town’s folk hold you in much respect.  I didn’t think you was going to go through with it.”  Joshua reassures him that he was not trying to avoid the confrontation, and suggests that they had best return to the tent to warm back up.  Sleeping Dog states that he had better go over to the women’s tent first, and heads on over while Joshua goes back to the tent the Dogs were given.

Joshua walks quietly back in to the tent and no words passes between him and Jesse until he sits down, then Jesse asks how it had gone.  Joshua tells him that they had fought to a stand still, and they have come to an understanding.  Jesse asks him if he had not chickened out of the fight again had he, but Joshua ignores the comment suggesting that if he had been interested and watched he would have seen that it was not the case.

Mean while over in the chief Bad Horse’s tent, Ambrose has been allowed entry and they now sit alone together.  The sacred spirit animals painted on the inside of the tent, with strange smells and smoke filling every available space.  Bad Horse sits there in his furs looking at Ambrose without saying a word.  Ambrose breaths in the polluted air as he sits himself opposite the chief, his head starting to feel a little light.

Ambrose thanks Bad Horse for agreeing to see him.  The chief still says nothing however a smile comes to his face.  After a pause Bad Horse speaks, “I didn’t think you would actually come back.  I underestimated you again.  You may not have sense, but you definitely have stones.”  Ambrose assures him that the Watch Dogs would not last long if they were cowards.  “We respect the brave, but they are not always the one to last the longest in battles.”  Amongst their opening pleasantries they mention the duel that is even now going on outside.  Bad Horse states that Sleeping Dog has been spoiling for this for too long, and he hopes that this will now pacify him and get it out of his system.  Ambrose shares that he hopes his fellow Watch Dog will also learn something from this confrontation, hopefully some humility.  Bad Horse laughs at this, to become humble from the association of Sleeping Dog!

They soon turn to the matter at hand.  Ambrose confessing that it is probably his turn to learn some humility.  He tells that it is his fault and not that of his fellow Watch Dogs, or for that matter that of the town’s.  He shares that the leader of the enclave is in fact of his blood, his brother, who had run away from his responsibilities.  Ambrose tells Bad Horse why they came back, of Simon, his brother’s mate….  Bad Horse interrupts, “Mate?  What the one he lays with do you mean?  The one that makes his cock proud?”  is the member from his tribe.  And that she had crossed the town’s border to start a fire to release him.  Bad Horse had heard of this and was thankful that she had not hurt the steward.

Bad Horse tells Ambrose that he must stand by his tribe, by his Flying Eagle who let her heart lead her.  Ambrose tells Bad Horse that the enclave must end and soon.  But Bad Horse states that the enclave has done nothing wrong to his tribe.  “It seems that your blood is entwined with ours now, which makes things more complicated.”  Ambrose says that there is a difficult situation that is rising, and Bad Horse agrees, he doesn’t want to go to war over this.  But also Bad Horse doesn’t want it to seem that the town can dictated what the Mountain Folk should or shouldn’t do.  Ambrose suggests that the only solution he can see is if the enclave set up their own tribe with the Mountain Folk.  “So does that mean that if they are Towns Folk they are sinners, but if they are Mountain Folk then they are free?”  Bad Horse states that he can not allow them to be raised within his tribe, but perhaps with Flying Eagle with them then they may have a chance.  Ambrose then checks with Bad Horse how much he will stand by his tribe, finding out that Bad Horse will stand by his tribe and Flying Eagle no matter what, after all she is blood.  And if she chooses to be with the enclave then that is her choice.

Bad Horse does confess to Ambrose that if Flying Eagle was to choose not to be with the enclave any more, then his responsibility would be a lot less, being only chief to the guests.  But he does warn that if this was easy he would have done it long ago.  However her mind is quite set in this matter.  “You like my shadow hunter, have proved to be exceptional men and perhaps you can come up with a way out of this.”  He also warns not to anger her as she is known to be one that can call on the spirits, viewing her as one that is blessed.  Bad Horse finishes and shares that he believes the duel outside sounds like it has finished, and he feels that Ambrose would like to go see his colleague.  Ambrose thanks him for his time, and Bad Horse thanks him for his honesty as it helps but not heals the wound.  And he ends by wishing him luck for both of their peoples.

“I hope to maintain peace between our peoples.”

As Ambrose is heading back to the tent they have been given to stay, he spots Sleeping Dog heading over to the tent that has been pointed out to be the women’s tent, a smile on his face.  He intercepts Sleeping Dog and tells him that he is impressed with his intuition.  Sleeping Dog looks pleased with this as his smile broadens.  Ambrose adds “You have had the foresight to know that I have concluded the business with your chief Bad Horse, and now wish to retrieve Honora so that we can leave with haste.”

“Oh I was rather hoping that one of the women could help me celebrate the duels conclusion.  Can it not wait for about thirty minutes?”  Ambrose tells him that their business is a little more important than his diversions.  Sleeping Dog informs him that he disagrees with this and asks him he could interest him in any of them.  He even states that some are even looking for a husband, and agrees that Ambrose would make a fine one at that.  Ambrose coughs at hearing this and tells Sleeping Dog that a Watch Dog is forbidden this.  Sleeping Dog smiles at hearing this and tells Ambrose that he will not mock him any longer and will so fetch Honora.

“I am back, did you miss me.”  Ambrose hears Sleeping Dogs as he enters the women’s tent.  Ambrose ignores this and heads on back to the tent and the other Watch Dogs.  He is aware that his head is very light headed, a slight dizziness around his mind.  He finds both Jess and Joshua sat in silence.  He looks over at Joshua expecting to see bumps and bruises but finds none.  “I thought you were having a duel?”  Joshua explains that they did have a duel, a little run around and then come to an understanding.  “The match has been postponed due to weather until a later date.”

Honora walks in to the tent with the Watch Dogs, and Sleeping Dog stops at the entrance.  Honora gives him a nasty look and he states that he had best leave, not wishing to have a close examination with the knife.  Her eyes narrow even more at him before turning away.  She sits herself down looking flustered and uncomfortable, and then she asks the Watch Dogs if everything is alright.

Ambrose asks Honora what she knows of the young native Flying Eagle.  She explains that she believes her to be Bad Horse’s wife’s sister’s daughter, or it could be wife’s aunt’s daughter.  She continues that Flying Eagle is young and hot headed.  She takes risks and heads out with the men on hunts.  Honora said that she has heard that the spirits walk with Flying Eagle and watch over her.  The tribe was not happy with her choice of partner, but trust in her heart leading her.

Jesse asks Ambrose if there would be anything of his brother Simon that Flying Eagle and or the tribe would not be happy with.  Ambrose agrees that he had started to think this way too.  Jesse asks how the tribe would look on things with Simon freely going about having children and not staying with them.  Honora coughs nervously and asks if she can speak freely.  The Watch Dogs agree to allow her.  Honora tells them that when Simon had arrived he had told the Mountain Folk that he had been forced to leave his children, and that he now wished to raise one here.  Ambrose confesses that he was too young to fully understand everything, but Simon had sinned on the family and then took to the hills.  There would have been a stigma if he stayed, however he was not forced to run, that there could have been a shotgun wedding arranged, and the raising of the child would not have been a problem.  When asked, Honora suggests that this would not be looked upon favourably by the tribe, as they feel the bringing up of the child to be important.  Ambrose decides that they need to confront the Mountain Folk tribe with this news, and to make sure that Flying Eagle hears this too.

Ambrose informs the others about what he had discussed with Bad Horse, about how they could make the enclave in to a separate tribe, separate from the town and separate from the Mountain Folk.  He hopes that this would eventually stop people from flocking to the enclave, but they would need to instruct the town’s steward in forgiveness and redemption, admitting that this would be an up hill struggle.  Ambrose turns to his fellow Watch Dogs and asks if they agree.  Joshua sounds his agreement with this.  However Jesse is less so, he tells them that this would not look good for the King of Life.  He believes that people would think that the sin was accepted and then given a fresh start and an independent community.  Ambrose agrees but doesn’t want to turn his backs on the people either, he wants to show them what they are doing is wrong and to leave a way for them to return.  Otherwise he believes the only way would be to shoot some of them.  Honora looks up shocked on hearing this.  Ambrose tries to reassure her concerns, telling her that this was a last resort option that he didn’t want to happen.  Honora doesn’t answer this but instead asks if she could leave if they still have much to talk about, while she has a couple of duties that she needs to take care of.  She admits that in the women’s tent there was a discussion that was left unfinished, and that something important was left unsaid.  Ambrose agrees with her requests and asks for her to be too long as they will need to leave very soon.  She nods in agreement and hurries out of the tent to leave the three Watch Dogs plan their next action.

In the middle of the Watch Dogs talking a cough comes from the tent flap.  “Can you tell Honora to put the knife away?”  The Sleeping Dog slowly pokes his head through.  “Oh! Where she gone?”  Ambrose informs him that she had some duties to attend to.  He also tells Sleeping Dog that they are having a few problems deciding what to do with the enclave.  “Well things may get a bit more complicated.  There is someone here to see you.”  The Watch Dogs just look at him expectantly.  Sleeping Dog asks if he can let ‘him’ in, and reminds them that they are on the tribe’s territory so do not draw any weapons.  He informs them that he had better hurry over to the women’s tent as Honora has a way of stirring things up, and then he hurries off.

There is a tap at the entrance to the tent.  Ambrose proclaims that he had better come in.  A hooded figure walks in, the white scar on his chin still visible.  The figure shakes the snow off before walking fully in.  “Walked a long way to talk to you.”  The figure turns to Ambrose pulling the hood from his head.  Ambrose asks what he had come to say.  “Just to find a way.”  Simon proclaims, he carries on saying that they had talked back in the chapel in town and now wishes to talk here.  He admits that it is no longer about him anymore.   “I need to worry about someone who isn’t me for once.  And that’s the problem.  I can’t do this here and now because you three are here.  I need to make something right for once, but I don’t know how.”  Simon admits that because they are there he would not win.  Ambrose asks his brother who he feels this way for.  Simon confesses that he has only found out today, “Flying Eagle, she is with child.”

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