Getting to know the town

Brother Joshua, one of the three Watch Dogs, is sat on his horse with a small cache of weapons from his colleagues along with their horses, as they ride off in to town with the steward Azurath and the town’s guards.  Joshua sits on the outskirts of Sandy Spirits with the guards now back near town and keeping their eye on him.  He finds an appropriate place to set up camp and busies himself with this chore while he awaits the return of his fellow Dogs.  The guards keep themselves between him and the town.

As the town’s steward Azurath leads the other two Watch Dogs in to town, he keep his eye on them wondering what their game is.  He walks with them in his thread bare, thin and simple robes.  The progress of time can be seen working itself on him with grey flecks spreading in his hair.  He has a simple smile on his face, possibly forced but there none the less.  As they walk he asks them what they hope to gain with their time in town.  Jesse explains that they are just going to go about their business, making sure that everything is okay in town.  And also assures him that they will go to him if they do find any problems.  Azurath explains to them that they are not using the tents from before on the outskirts of town, and points out a group three buildings in a different location on the outskirts of town.  He explains that he wishes for them to have to cross open ground before getting in to town proper, if they decided to start something on a night.  He leaves them to get themselves sorted out, and asks them to feel free to go talk to people and if they need him then to by all means find him.  He also tells them that the mountain folk also come down to town regularly and not to cause any problems.  Jesse assures him that they have had many dealings with the mountain folk, and that he has nothing to fear.  “The more I help you the more likely it is that you will soon leave.  Frankly the sooner your friend out side of town is gone, the better and relaxed I will feel.”  Concludes the town’s steward Azurath and off he goes leaving them in the centre of town.

The town on one side almost backs right up against a mountain range.  The barren ground leads directly up and on to the mountainside.  A plume of smoke can be made out high up on the side.  The people of the town seem to be giving the Watch Dogs a wide birth, and can almost make out whispered words muttered under breath, such as ‘murderers’.  One of the buildings has a man outside he looks like a cooper at work.  Next to him is a young lady, probably in her early twenties, talking to him and smiling.  Her hair is black and tied back in to a weaved ponytail, dressed in simple plain clothes of the faith.  However her features seem to be that of the mountain folk.

The two Watch Dogs decide to first head over to what will be the lodgings for the stay.  Settling themselves there before heading back through town.  The buildings are of a very simple hut, and plain with only a simple bed and a single sheet.  In the centre of the room is a small fireplace with a hole in the roof to allow the smoke out.  Outside the huts can be seen several deep ruts from carts, which must have weighed and travelled from these huts and headed east out of town, probably the ones that were spotted when they approached.

The Watch Dogs head back to town, heading towards the cooper they had seen earlier.  As they walk through town they can make out that the town must have to trade with the mountain folk heavily to survive, there is no cattle or crops grown or could flourish here.  An elderly gentleman stumbles along the road through town, and bumps in to Brother Jesse catching his arm.  The old man has a long grey beard and one lazy eye his good one looking directly in to the face of Jesse.  Jesse checks if the man is okay and the old man blabbers that he is fine, and then whispers “I want to talk to you later, okay?  Don’t make a sing of it!” He then clarifies once more that he is fine for all to hear before he stumbles on his way.  Jesse sends him on his way and the old man pushes himself away.  He looks once more in to the eyes of Jesse to see if what was said was understood.  Jesse gives him a subtle reassuring look before turning back to Ambrose and carrying on their way.  As the man walks away they can see what appears to be a very large book of faith tucked under his arm within his coat.  “Looks like this town has some old drunk men.”  Jesse then whispers under his breath to Ambrose, as he pats him on the back, that the old man wishes to talk with them later.

The Watch Dogs still find the cooper working outside when they approach.  The man is a ruddy face young man with thick legs, probably in his early twenties.  A slightly torn black shirt can be seen within his plain smock he wears on top.  A fig leaf appears to have been woven in to one of the buttonholes.  The woman appears to have gone back in doors by now, as there is no sign of her.  The young man is busy hammering on a metal ring around one of the wooden barrels.  As the Dogs approach he looks up and asks if he can help them.

A little small talk ensues, asking how trade fairs for the man.  They are told that it fairs well some passing merchants come through.  Also the man tells them that he gets good wood from the mountain folk, which of course they trade for.  He shares with them that he carried on his trade from his father.  The man then asks if the Watch Dogs would like some barrels or something.  Telling them that his main trade is coopering but he has learnt to be handy in other areas too.  When asked if the woman they saw earlier was his wife, a smile spreads on his face and confirms that she is.  And answers them that he has been married for the last two months now, and that everything is fine, the only problem they had was that the best man was shot before the wedding.

When asked about his faith, the young cooper tells the Dogs that the King of Life has blessed him with his life, and the spirits have looked after him.  He admits that he doesn’t know what the spirits do, but they have certainly helped him a lot.  He also tells them that if the King of Life created everything including the spirits, then they all need to pay them proper respect.  But he admits that he has a simple life and doesn’t know much about it all.  He also tells them that he is married to a beautiful woman, and that when her father passes away he will end up being a big man in the tribe.  “So yeah that is going to be interesting!”

The Watch Dogs are told when asked that this is the belief he is told, that it is that of the King of Life and that the town’s steward tells them this.  He also tells them that he is in the understanding that there is a bit of a disagreement with the doctoring, and that is why the town has gone it alone and set up with the mountain folk.  Also when asked he tells them that his wife is the only one of the mountain folk that resides in town, but there is another that comes in to town called Dancing Snake.  The chief of the tribe stays up in the mountains and that he doesn’t move around much.  The young cooper confesses to them that he doesn’t speak to Dancing Snake, much as he gets the feeling that he doesn’t like him much.  Not sure why especially as he can get along with people no problem.

Brother Jesse asks if they could talk with his wife, especially as she is the only one in town from her tribe.  The cooper agrees to allow them to talk with her, and off they go knocking on the door to the house.  The cooper assures them that he will only be just out side.  They thank him for his time and then head on in to the man’s house.

In side the house the woman from the mountains is dressed in the normal fashion for the tribe, while the clothes of the faith are placed neatly beside her.  She tells them that she had heard what they had been talking about outside.  And when asked she agrees to talking with them as long as they stay civil and with that she pats the sling at her waist and it jingles.  The Dogs assure her that there is no reason for them to be otherwise.  She tells them that she wasn’t around when they last passed by but she had heard about it.

They begin by asking her how she feels about the situation with the town.  She tells them that she is happy with the outcome, and has since learned that she has un-expectantly become the wife to the next chief in years to come.  “Hopefully not too few, I do still love my father.  Before you make any accusations on that.”  Jesse checks the clarification on what she said, and she tells them that she is now the next one in line, but she wasn’t before.  “As part of my binding, my husband will be the next chief.  So I can’t really complain about this.”  She tries to provoke them by mentioning that they are not expecting yet, even though they have had plenty of practice.  “If he can still walk at the end of the week, then I am not doing my duty right.”

She also explains to the Watch Dogs that she has been teaching the towns folk the ceremonies that they need to learn, but it has been slow going as they are not picking it up very quickly.  When asked she tells them that she heard that both faiths had a similar root many years ago, but theirs got lost along the way.  And that they are finding many similarities.

When asked about the tribe’s shadow hunter she tells them that they must have been in contact the tribe in the west.  They do not have such need for, or feel it necessary for, only one man to deal with.  They have the whole tribe sort out any problems.

“It is so rare to see a Watch Dog in the wild with a muzzle on!  What can I say, I had to see it.”

“What makes you think we have a muzzle on?”  Jesse shoots back at her just as quickly.  She looks down at the empty holsters at their sides, “Oh no reason.”

“A Watch Dog is still a Watch Dog.”

“And your bark is bowl liquidisingly terrifying.”  And after their pleasant exchange of words they leave the mountain woman and head back outside.

The cooper greets them once more once back outside.  “I hope she didn’t give you too much of a tongue lashing.  I tell you she is good with her tongue.”  He then explains to them that he had thought about warning them before, but decided that they will soon find out.  However she is not the biggest fan of any Watch Dogs.

As the Watch Dogs walk on around the town they spot an interesting guy heading down from the mountains in to town.  He half slides and half walks down the side of the mountain leaving a trail behind him.  He is a big barrel chested man with a frown on his face.  As the guy arrives in town and comes across the bright coats of the Watch Dogs he stops and folds his arms.  A grunt escapes his mouth.  He then tells them that he had just walked down and that it was pretty easy.  Now being this close to this guy, he probably stands nearly seven foot tall and very wide.  He then states that he does not recognise the two new people in town, namely both Ambrose and Jesse.  He then asks if they are new to town, to which Ambrose tells him that they are just passing through.  With a grunt the large native from the mountains introduces himself as Dancing Snake, holding out his massive hand.  Jesse is the first to hold his hand out and introduce himself.  This is when Dancing Snake realises that he is in fact talking to two of ‘the’ Watch Dogs he has heard about.  Then he asks them if they are there to cause any trouble.  Ambrose clarifies for him that they are not there to cause trouble but they often find it.  He then offers to give them a tour of the mountains, especially all the views and precarious drops.  He smiles as he tells them this last point, and then reassures them that he was only joking and would not think of doing anything.  But he states that the offer still stands, saying he will tell them about the situation.  Jesse thanks him and tells him that they would love to but not right now as they have business in town and it is getting late.  He tells them that he will be around for a while in town, and if they change their minds then they should be able to find him.

A middle-aged lady wearing a full white dress and bonnet walks up to the Watch Dogs and Dancing Snake.  She places one of her white lace gloved hands upon Dancing Snake’s chest and informs him not to both the Watch Dogs, telling him that they are very busy.  She then turns to the Watch Dogs and apologises for Dancing Snake, telling them that he is a fine man even though he does have some brusque manners.  Dancing Snake just grunts some more to this.  The woman then pushes back her bonnet, which has a single ruby flower in the rim, and introduces herself to the Watch Dogs. “I am Lady Ester. I have heard your names before.  It is good that things are going so much better than last time isn’t it?  Things got off on the wrong foot didn’t they?”  She then asks if they have eaten yet, informing them that she is in fact a very good cook, but she tends to cook too much as she is used to cooking for two, but she had an unfortunate loss a year back.  Ambrose sympathises for her loss, which she dismisses as long past now.  She then wishes to have the honour of entertaining ones such as them.  Jesse tells her that it would be an honour for them, and asks her to please lead the way.

The middle-aged woman, who is probably in her mid thirties, lifts up her very long dress to prevent it from dragging in the dust, and she then leads them off to her house.  While they walk she apologises that the meal take a while to prepare and then cook, but hopes they will not mind to some polite conversation.

Ester tells them that she had moved to this town with her family when she was thirteen.  She agrees that she has seen some changes, but is glad that the difficulties are finished and that they can start to bring the people closer together.  She agrees that she was worried at one point for the town, thinking that it was going to split apart, but thankfully they came to an agreement that suited everyone.  She corrects them saying that the people who left haven’t split but merely gone to set up their own town.  Ester informs the Watch Dogs that it was quite the turnaround to have people leave without violence over the difference in belief.  She goes on to discuss how the mountain folk had come to their town initially, and then the steward accompanied her to go see the mountain folk, all in the exchange of information and ways.  “Do not confuse discretion with a lack of pride.” She tells Brother Ambrose when suggested that they are hiding.  The reason being that they are trying to avoid as much bloodshed as they can, especially from the more ‘uncouth’ voices of the faith.  They only wish to be left to enjoy the gifts that hey have been given.

She soon serves up a beautiful stew with some lovely pieces of bread.  Asking them to do the honours of prey to start the meal.  After a quick discussion and a back and forth of who really should, Ambrose takes the lead and offers a prayer for the meal.

Meanwhile out on the outskirts of the town, a single guard with his rifle slung over his back approaches Brother Joshua’s camp.  His arms out stretched and hands open to show he has no concealed weapons.  “Hey parley.”  Joshua invites him in to the camp light.  The guard checks that the Watch Dog he is speaking to is in fact Brother Joshua, to which Joshua confirms to him.  The guard then checks that he was the one that was here before.  Again Joshua confirms this to him.  The guard then tells Joshua that they are having a collection for a widow, and was wondering if he had wanted to put anything in.  Joshua checks who the widow is, having an idea who it probably is.  The guard tells him that it is a lovely lady who had lost her husband a couple of months back.  Joshua then suggests that the guard go to the chapel in the morning and they should be able to help with a provision to help.  The guard corrects and clarifies for Joshua, telling him that they are asking him if he will help out.  “Just wondering what kind of man you are you see.”  Suggesting that is he the man who can face what has happened and do the honourable thing or not.

Brother Joshua stands and turns to face the guard fully in the face, informing him that he has no issues with what he had done.  “What I did was to defend myself.  I have no issues with your people or that gentleman.  But he should have listened to me when I told him.”  The guard tells him in no uncertain terms that Joshua is here, and his presence is causing difficulties.  He tells Joshua that he WILL make things right for the man’s widow.  Joshua takes another step towards the guard, telling him that he is a Watch Dog.  The guard interrupts him, “Your used to that meaning something aren’t you!”  Joshua tells the guard that if he doesn’t leave then he will be forced to remove him.  “What, are you going to shoot me too?”  He then shows his empty hands, “I have nothing here.”

The guard checks again with Joshua if he is not willing to make things right.  Bother Joshua again informs the guard that he has nothing to make right.  A large wet lump of phlegm and spittle splats hitting Joshua square in the face.  “Well I am not going to waste my time talking to a dog when I thought I was talking to a man.”  The guard then turns his back on Joshua and walks away.

After their marvellous posh meal with the lady Ester, the two other Watch Dogs, Ambrose and Jesse head back out in to town for a walk around.  They had learnt from her that the town had started to trade with the mountain folk, and gradually progressed to an understanding with the mountain folk’s belief.  The town is fairly quiet at this time of the evening, and the stars are starting to come out in the sky.  The Watch Dogs soon come across the old man they bumped in to earlier who has a lazy eye.  He is sat on a rocking chair in front of a building that has two swinging doors at the entrance, and round table and chairs within.  A small brown dog with long hair and ears is sat on his lap.  As the Dogs approach the old man notices them and greets them stating that he had seen them before.  They greet him back and ask if he is feeling better now.  He then proclaims that it is beginning to get cold out side and suggests that if they want to talk, then it would be best to go inside.  He stands up and walks in asking them to follow him, introducing himself as Abijah.

The building is a communal eating area, with many of the round tables with chairs dotted about the large open room.  Lights flicking on the walls and the old man’s eyes look up to the balcony before addressing the Watch Dogs.  Abijah confesses that he wasn’t sure whether they would be getting back to him.  Ambrose assures him that they are very interested in anyone who has something to say to them.  The old man tells them that he is glad that they are in town.  He tells them that he and a few others have been in town since before the change.  Sharing that he and the few others have been playing along, ‘talking all nicey nice’, but have been gradually stashing away a couple of heavyset pistols and some bullets.  Ambrose asks him why the guns, everything seems peaceful.  The old the man is taken aback by this, asking if they had gotten to them too.  Abijah then tells them that they are doing strange rituals and it isn’t natural.  Him and a few others are going to take back the town, turn it back to the light.  He suggests that they take care of the guards while he and the others deal with the town.  When asked, the old man tells them that there are four of them in total.  And that the other town’s folk were forced out of town, in not so many words, “But who is going to stay in a demons town like this.  Thought we would stay and take it back from the inside.”   He confesses that no matter what they will take back their town, and to not leave to some heathens and their demon rituals.  Jesse tells him that they have only just arrived in town, and that they wish to find out more before taking any action.  Telling him that he needs to believe in the faith, and them as Watch Dogs.  He soon suggests that they have been talking too long and people will talk.  So he bids his farewells.

After this Ambrose and Jesse head back to their isolated huts as it is getting late.  Deciding to share the same hut, just in case anyone has any ideas during the night.  Joshua on the other hand, before setting in for the night, goes about laying down traps and trip wires to warn him of any problems that may come his way in the night.

A murderous pack of dark figures sneak on crouched legs through the undergrowth, using the shadows and the dark of night to their advantage.  Mud has been rubbed on their weapons to hide any reflex the moon may give.  A warning sound is tripped unaware by the murderous shadows.  Joshua sneaks out from his bedroll, leaving it as if he still lay within.  Himself sneak of in the night to the edge of his camp away from the noise.  As the shadowy figures leave their dog they placed down in the snare trap that had set the alarm, Joshua pulls his knife and slowly takes a wide angle around the campsite.  Suddenly at the last minute the shadowy figures are aware that their prey is now amongst them.  Hastily they all draw their knives.

As the melee ensues one of the shadowy figures manages to get his arm around Joshua, as he swipes his knife arm in a wide arc, and topples him to the ground.  Aware that they have lost their advantage of surprise on Joshua, they quickly make their ways back from the campsite and return to the night.  Joshua swinging at them as they retreat with his empty fist, his knife missing from his fall, aware of a warm wet pain in his leg.  He tends to his wound and goes back to camp, spending a restless night aware of the attackers and a pain from his leg.

The next day Brothers Ambrose and Jesse decide to visit the mountain folk to see their point of view of the towns’ situation.  They decide to go back in to town to see if they can find this Dancing Snake and take him up on his offer as a guide.  Funnily enough he is still in town, or is that back in town.  He is collecting barrels to take back to his tribe’s camp.  He smiles at them as they approach him.  Jesse informing him that he is in fact just the man they wish to see.  He tells him that they wish to take him up on his offer, to guide them up the mountains and to perhaps take them to his tribe’s camp.  As Dancing Snake lifts a barrel up on to one shoulder her agrees that they could do that for them.  He tells them to follow him and to watch their step on the mountain.

The journey up the mountain is silent until about half way up, when Dancing snake turns to them and asks what they think of the town.  And when asked Dancing Snake tells them that he would prefer the town to stay where it was.  That his father has some strange thoughts, and agrees when asked that his sister is indeed the one married to the town’s cooper.  When mentioned that his sister will soon be the next chief, a flash of something goes across his face before he answers with a plain yes.  When asked to talk more on the subject, Dancing Snake stops and sits down.  He tells them that again it was his father’s idea.  That his sister and that cooper Pilgrim were always close, and as they needed a marriage to settle things, it was decided that they would be the one.  But that meant that they had to skip the next succession of chieftain.  And confirms when asked that he was to be the one that was next in line.  He shares that he was never in agreement with the idea of the town, but the situation with the succession just rubs salt in it.  His chief is old and saw the town when it started, and feels like it is one of his children.  He also agrees that there are some more of his people that also do not agree with the situation they find his tribe in.  He confesses that he is fine with the trading, but not with the mixing of the faiths and people.  He hopes to sort the problem out with out any bloodshed, to perhaps find a loophole in the marriage, and if that falls so will the agreement.  Dancing Snake also shares that the Pilgrim was not all that inexperienced on his wedding nights, and that he may be led astray once more.  “So, do you agree we need to do something?”

Eventually Dancing Snake leads the Watch Dogs to his tribe, it is a relatively small tribe probably no more than twenty-five in total.  They are situated in a perfect spot to be sheltered from direct sun and from the abrasive winds that can whip up.  A very old man, wiry with a missing eye and several teeth, sits in the centre.  He smiles when he sees the group of travellers approach.  He welcomes the Watch Dogs, knowing exactly who they are, and that they do not come with any weapons.  He introduces himself as Running Man, the chieftain of the tribe, and offers them to sit with him.

Running Man know that the Watch Dogs had spoken with his daughter, Fallen Oak, and they have survived the encounter.  He then asks if they are going to anoint the marriage, knowing that it will appease the three faiths, especially Bridal Falls.  Ambrose explains to him that the Watch Dogs need more time to get to know the situation between the town and the tribe.  Running Man also explains to them that neither he nor the town’s steward was aware of the incident last night with their fellow brother, Brother Joshua.  He tells them that he was told of something that had happened during the night.  Ambrose tells him that they had not heard anything, and asks what had happened.  Running Man explains that a group of men had invaded Brother Joshua’s camp and attacked him for past actions.  “From what I hear he is still mostly well.”  He then explains that the first report had mentioned Joshua had been cut and spread to the four winds, and then it was changed to merely decapitated, then hurried reports had changed it again to merely saying a hand had been lost.  He then tells them that he is waiting to see if it finally changes to Joshua only merely getting a scratch.  Running Man recommends that they wait for a few hours to have the truth finally come out, and to not worry about it.  Ambrose reminds Running Man that this is a very serious incident against a Watch Dog, especially while he was sleeping.  A man does not wear the coat of a Watch Dog lightly.  Running Man suggests that they are in a conundrum, for if they do not recognise the marriage then the town will not recognise their authority, and so will not be able to deal with the attack to one of the Watch Dogs.  Once they have finished with their talk, the Watch Dogs thank Running Man for his time.  Running Man thanks them for coming.

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