A change is coming

Brother Joshua sits on the outskirts of town, sat in his own camp nursing his wounds and looking down in to town and watching the guards watch him.  He feels empty without his trusty large knife by his side.  He looked around for it again this morning but could not find it anywhere.  Meanwhile both Brothers Ambrose and Jesse make their way back down from the mountain folk’s camp to town.  They notice as they travel down the side of the mountain, that a lot of the ground under foot is becoming very loose and are having to traverse carefully.  Dancing Snake has accompanied them back to town, taking some items to trade with the town.

The two Watch Dogs and Native come across the lady Ester as the come to the bottom of the mountain.  She is carrying a wicker basket containing various items picked from the vegetation near the bottom.  She tips her white bonnet at the men and greets them with a good morning.  After some small talk about them meeting with Running Man and the tribe, and about how nervous she was with having them around she addresses Jesse, “Brother Jesse, if you ever decide to retire your duties as a Watch Dog.  There is always room for a man who knows his way around the land.  If you ever want to come back, I am sure we will be able to find you a hut to set you up in while to get your feet on the ground.”  She finishes with a smile.  Jesse says no more to her and carries on to town.

Once back in town, Ambrose and Jesse decide to head out of town and visit their colleague to see if he is indeed okay or not.  As they pass by the guards the men allow them by and tip their hats.  One of the men seems to have a very large knife at his side, looking very familiar.  They soon come upon Joshua, looking a little worse for wear with a bandage around his leg.

The three Watch Dogs talk about the previous night and what had happened to Joshua.  He tells them that he had not done anything, he was attacked during the night but he managed to chase them away.  Joshua then mentions that he has lost his knife and asks if they saw it on their way over.  Ambrose suggests that they may have seen it with a new owner.  Joshua also tells them about the talk he had with one of the guards earlier, suggesting that the man was trying to bait him.

After checking to make sure all their gear is still there and nothing missing, both Ambrose and Jesse head back in to town and go over to see the town’s steward Azurath.  They leave Joshua to fend for himself once more, on his own in his little camp.

They find Azurath pulling on some of his grey hair that is intertwined with his other hair on his head.  Several parchment and documents are spread out before him on a bench.  He greets them with a surprise, apologising for he has been distracted and asks how he can help them.  The Watch Dogs ask him how things are with him and the town.  Azurath mentions that all goes well, and in passing informs them that there was a scuffle last night, and tells them that no one was injured.  Jesse asks him to what scuffle he refers, and is told that it was regarding their colleague Joshua and a few of the guards.  Azurath then asks the Watch Dogs to please send Brother Joshua away, as he does cause a lot of tension around town.  “His presence is a knife in the memory of the man he had murdered.”  Ambrose states that he would like to see what Azurath defines as justice in the matter.  Azurath suggests that Bridal Falls should strip Joshua of his Weapons and cast him out from the Watch Dogs.  Jesse informs him that Joshua has already been stripped of one of his weapons.  At hearing this Azurath looks shocked and asks if they know who had done the deed.  Ambrose tells him that they have a reasonable idea as to whom.  Azurath states that they will have his weapon back before they leave the town.  He then soon moves on to seeing if they have found out any more about the town, wishing for them to be soon finished.  Azurath then pauses and thinks before speaking, and then asks if they still have no weapons on their person.  He asks if they would not mind being checked again.  As the guards have reports many guns to have gone missing, and he quickly suggests that he is not blaming them, that it is just for the peace of the town.  The Watch Dogs show that they still carry no weapons, and suggest that there is no reason for a Watch Dog to steal any weapons or use subterfuge.  Being thankfully for their openness he asks that they report to him if they hear anything, as it seems odd for them arrive and then the weapons disappear.  He shares that he is worried about the vanishing weapons.

In the mean time, back in the camp of the Watch Dog Joshua, he sits looking over at the town as he has many times since being excluded.  He spots from about half way up the mountain side a large amount of dust up in the air and moving down.  He looks back at the guards seeing that none of them as noticed this as it is at their backs, nor has anyone from the town seems to have noticed.  There appears to be a large part of the mountainside slipping and heading for the back end of town.  Quickly with only a mere pause of thought, Joshua jumps on to his horse and gallops towards town, all the while shout and raising an alarm to the danger.

Unfortunately the guards keeping an eye on him took the action of Joshua as a threatening action and drew their attention and guns to him.  As he rode hard towards the town shouting and waving, the guards took shots against him.  Hearing this from in town, everyone was more distracted with what was happening on that side of town and did not see the mountainside slipping to blanket the back end of town.  Unlucky for Brother Joshua one of the bullets from a rifle finds its mark on him, and knocks him clean off his horse with a very vicious wound, blood and matter flying as he lands hard on the ground.  And just after this happens and everyone sees Joshua go down hard, a large piece of the mountain slaps in to the town crushing buildings and people, sending a large thick dust and sand cloud in to the air making visibility difficult.

Brother Jesse rushes off towards where he last saw his fellow Watch Dog fall, even though he now can no longer see much of anything.  Brother Ambrose soon follows racing the same way.  As they race through a hand thrusts out from beneath a collapsed building and through the dust, grabbing a hold of Ambrose’s leg and a voice can be heard, weakly pleading for help.  Ambrose quickly stops and looks down to find a young boy, blood pouring from his head, several teeth gone from his mouth as he spits blood out, and several bruises are beginning to welt all down one arm.  Ambrose shouts after Jesse back telling him to carry on.  Every now and again there can be heard random gun shots, and people screaming for help.

Jesse push past some guards knowing he must be getting near, and eventually finds Joshua lead spread out on the ground.  His horse stood near him nestling his nose at Joshua’s feet.  Blood is pouring out from his head, and has Jesse kneels down to him he sees a nasty hole in the side of his head.  Jesse sets about doing his best, with his little knowledge, to stemming the flow of blood and hope to save his life.  The demons teasing voices can be heard calling out Joshua’s name and baiting Jesse to distract him.  Jesse mutters words from the Book of Life to cast back the demons as he attends to Joshua, calling him to come back to the light of life as he has not finished his work yet.  Joshua begins to cough and thrash about in pain.  Jesse uses his body weight to pin him down and stop him from moving, and manages to bandage his head and stop the flow of blood.  Eventually Joshua stops his thrashing and begins to breathe with a more calm and strong breath.

Brother Ambrose busies himself trying to help the people that have become trapped and injured by this disaster.  Not only does he have this young boy, but he can also see the town’s cooper Pilgrim and lady Ester, along with Abijah all injured and or trapped by what has just happened.  As well as there are many other people scattered about that are also suffering.

Ambrose pulls the boy from under the building and turns him around to keep his head out of the dust, and to stop him from chocking.  He then starts to shout out commands to the people that can still move, ordering them to help those that need assistance.  Many people are having several people on one while others are left unattended, but Ambrose soon gets the chaos organised.  He moves on after making sure the boy is okay, helping out and ordering the people.  He next helps Ester while telling people to go and help Abijah.

By the end of the day as the moon rises and the dust settles, only about a handful of people could not be saved.  The crowd from the town begin to look upon Ambrose instead of the steward for their next instruction and what will happen next.  About two thirds of the town has managed to stay intact while the back end is total levelled.  Ambrose keeps everyone calm and organised, everyone helping each other out where needed.  Joshua eventually comes around looking up to find Jesse over him attending to his wounds.  He feels pain and a dizziness wash over him in waves.  The guards look shame faced at what had happened realising what had really been happening.

Jesse collapses to ground and stretches himself out, relieved at seeing his fellow Watch Dog open his eyes at last.  One of the guards goes over to Ambrose and apologises for what had happened, explaining that they had panicked for their lives not understanding what Joshua was actually doing.  After a pause and a swallow the guard says, “I think I may have underestimated the guy.”  He then takes the blade from his hip and hands it over.  “I think you may want to give this back to him.”  As they talk the guard states that it takes a lot for a man to do what he did when the town had turned their back on him.  Ambrose tells the guard that it is best to leave it at that and to say no more on the subject.  The guard then offers that they had best bring him in to town, allowing him to be attended to safely in town, and for them to bring their stuff with him.

The town’s steward Azurath is just standing around in shock, and as Ambrose looks over at him for confirmation to allow Joshua and their weapons back in town.  All he does is just nod in agreement.  And so they carefully take Joshua back in to town to a safe building where they can place the wounded.  A guard helps them and lead them to the place.  Everyone else around them is doing similar activities.

While the three Watch Dogs are alone in the room, a limping Abijah waddles in, a toothy bloody grin shows through his beard.  He praises the Dogs for their fine work, and then pulls up his shirt to show a weapon tucked in his waist band.  “Perfect time, they have just seen ya, they seen ya in this catastrophe.  Ya tell them that this was demons, demons for the sinning.  Then we can drag em back to the light with ya approval.  It is perfect time.”  But Ambrose tells him that now is not the time, and for him to not to try anything like what he is suggesting.  “That is not the right way to do it.”  Azurath then tells him that he and his men are standing by ready, waiting for when he give the command.  Ambrose thanks him and instructs him to keep his cool.  Jesse busies himself with looking after Joshua.

Ambrose instructs the guilty guard to stay and look after Brother Joshua, while he and Jesse go back out and possibly go see how the mountain folk are since the disaster.  The guard isn’t blind to the irony of the situation he finds himself in but agrees.  Once outside again the Watch Dogs can’t help seeing Fallen Oak, still dressed in her native ware, moving amongst the people, and discussing arrangements pointing to the sun.  She then embraces each before moving on to the next.  Ambrose decides that they had better change their plans and go over to have a word with the steward Azurath.

They find him going from one person to another, checking that they are okay and being attended to.  He smiles weakly as the Watch Dogs approach him.  The Watch Dogs ask him how well the town’s people fare.  And they are told that they are well considering, and are told that he feels lucky to have had them in town at this time.  He states that it is a pity that lady Ester was injured as she is the one that takes care of people.  After the small talk Ambrose soon brings up the subject of the situation of the town, and the merger of the two beliefs.  He tells them that Fallen Oak is already talking to people, and that they will bring some of the mountain folk, to hold a ritual to appease the spirits.  He believes that the lack of balance between the faiths is the cause.  That they are together but not yet one.  And so the two of them, Ambrose and Azurath begin to get in to a debate of faith.

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