Gun smoke soon gives way to dust from the landslide as it hangs heavy in the air. The two Watch Dogs stand there, a fine layer of grim covers their coats. Shouts of injured people can be heard crying out from the dust and debris. The lone injured Watch Dog, brother Joshua is still sighting down the barrel of his rifle, the visibility is now gone and finds himself of no use currently. Abijah and his colleagues are hastily dropping back and vanishing within the poor visibility.
Fallen Oak stands there waving the smoke away from her face, “I didn’t expect to get your gun on my side there Watch Dog.”
“Well we’re not here to kill you.” Ambrose explains to her. She then goes on to say that they have some trouble makers in town, not wishing for them to be wandering around town with guns, and not knowing where the steward is. Again Ambrose answers her, telling her that he believes that it is not her decision. However she argues that they tried to kill her, so that means it is her concern.
Ambrose and Jesse notice the trouble makers seem to be making their way towards the temporary housing on the outskirts of town. Unfortunately the visibility is making it hard to see very far, but that was the general direction they were heading. Ambrose shouts after them to stop but they soon disappear. So both Ambrose and Jesse head off after them, one heading off slightly to the left side and the other to the right, hoping to flank them.
Joshua decides to make his way back out of town towards his makeshift camp from earlier, thinking this will be a safer place for him to rest up and avoid any further dangerous interactions. As he goes he can make out shadows moving about in the thick dust. He even passes an abandoned guard post, which not too long ago had many men stationed. Soon be begins to make out the bridge that leads to the town.
Soon both Ambrose and Jesse can hear a scuffle coming from the near distance, someone shouting for help and asking to ‘get him off me’. Then there is a mere moment of silence before the sound of something heavy being slammed to the floor. Both Watch Dogs home in on the sound and step up their pace, in a hope to stop whatever is happening. Soon they begin to see shadows in the dust. Of someone with a large muscular body, holding or pinning another smaller body to the ground. As they draw closer the images clarify and appear out of the dust, showing the town’s cooper Pilgrim, slamming one of the troublemakers to the floor, his thick hand around the guy’s throat. The troublemaker is a younger and smaller, ruddy-faced lad, wearing a torn black shirt. Again Pilgrim lifts him by the neck and dashes him to the floor once more. The gun flies out from the young lad’s hand. Then Pilgrim kneels down and presses one knee to the lad’s chest.
Ambrose shouts out to the town’s cooper to get his attention. Pilgrim stops, places his hand down on the lad’s head, and then turns to look at Ambrose. He just stands there in his torn shirt, his naked muscular chest on show, “I don’t think I will be letting him go anytime soon.” Ambrose then asks if Pilgrim will be letting the lad go with him, but Pilgrim argues that he will not be letting him go. Ambrose informs him that they are rounding up all of the trouble makers. And with this Pilgrim tells him that he had better go after the others, and to stop wasting time with him. “We are not going to be beating the men unconscious.” Ambrose tells him. Pilgrim lefts the lad up and looks at him, “He did draw a gun on my wife. You do remember that?” Ambrose confirms that he does remember that, “And that is why I would not blame you. But we can not allow you to carry on like this.” Again Pilgrim argues back, the anger in his voice becoming more noticeable. He reminds the Watch Dogs that this is not their town, and then instructs them that the others are still running. As they argue some more, Pilgrim tells them that he isn’t worried about them or their fancy coat, all that concerns him is the guns they carry. And with that he throws the lad back down to the dirt. As the lad hits the ground he quickly curls up in to a ball. “I’ve put him down, are you happy now!?”
Now all around both Ambrose and Jesse, along with the cooper Pilgrim, there are sounds of guns with their rounds being chambered, and a voice follows, “I say, mighty kind o’ ya boys ta keep ‘im talking so. Made it easy for us ta find ya.” Awareness washes over the Watch Dogs, taking note that Abijah and the rest of his colleagues are standing in a circle around them and Pilgrim. Then Abijah demands of the Watch Dogs that he thought they were in town to help, to bring the faith back. “But I see ya defending that ‘Witch’! I say that aint no action of a Watch Dog.” He then adds that they have come to town to flee and to join them. Ambrose becoming tired of this old man tells him that he should shout him, “You shoot me cold, right here, right now. Then walk straight back to Bridal Falls and tell them what you did. Lets then see where your version of the faith gets you.” Ambrose pauses watching the reaction of Abijah before adding, “Shoot me dead now.” Then Ambrose opens his hands showing and telling him that he is unarmed.
Abijah pauses and argues with Ambrose, telling him that he doesn’t believe them to be Watch Dogs. He adds that he remembers when they first arrived to town and they pretended not to be Watch Dogs, “I thought that was clever of ya, but now I believe ya were telling the truth.” Abijah states that Ambrose must think he is mighty clever to run rings around him, but tells Ambrose that he has a ring there for him, he then rests his thumb upon the hammer of his gun, “And if ya say something I don’t like, then there be a whole lot o’ lead coming ya way.”
“The only thing you ‘nearly’ did here was to start a war.” Ambrose informs Abijah of the reality. Abijah raises his gun and begins to take aim on Ambrose. Jesse just stands there next to Ambrose, his arm folded and staring Abijah straight in to the eyes.
“Anyone would be justified in killing a sinner o’ the worse kind. One that wears the ‘coat’ falsly as ya do.” Abijah argues back. And so both Ambrose and Abijah argue back and forth as to who is right, Ambrose finishes by stating that if ever he has heard the voice of demons, it is now that he can hear them faintly in Abijah’s voice. Abijah thinks for a while muttering to himself, the gun in his hand relaxing and then straightening. Until finally Abijah backs down looking confused as Ambrose storms off, tired of having to deal with this man. Abijah lowers his gun and looks at Ambrose’s walk off. Pilgrim steps in and grabs Abijah’s gun, emptying the chambers and throwing it to the ground.
The other trouble makers with Abijah look at each other confused, shuffling their feet and stepping back slightly. Pilgrim looks over at Jesse and asks if they will be taking them in. Jesse tells him that they will be taking them over to the chapel, and instructs Pilgrim to lead the way. And as they head off Jesse brings up the rear keeping an eye on not only the trouble makers but also Pilgrim. The trouble makers follow along confused but willing. On the way back they come across Fallen Oak, and Pilgrim walks over to her and tells her that he found them, “And look who else I came across.” She smiles and tells him that she is glad that he didn’t have a much problem as she had with them.
Azurath greets Pilgrim and Jesse as they enter the chapel. “I see you resolved things quite well. But we have a problem with all the injured.” He looks around at all the people lying about within the chapel. Jesse asks him that they will be needing somewhere to keep the trouble makers somewhere. Azurath suggests the housing just out of town, but Jesse remembers that the area got hit hard with the landslides, and that it would not be a good idea. Reluctantly the steward agrees to keep them in the chapel, and to having some of the town guards keep an eye on them, using the guns that Jesse took from the trouble makers.
Fallen Oak informs them that as she will not be conversing with the spirits any time soon, that she will go back to her tribe to see how they are and if they can come and help. Jesse suggests that this was a good idea that should have happened earlier. Fallen Oak turns to him and tells him that she is sorry as she wasn’t talking to him. And as she walks off Pilgrim raises an eyebrow and states that he did say that she has a vicious tongue. He then asks if Ambrose is okay as he looks shaken from the gun being drawn on him. But Jesse tells him that Ambrose is fine and walked off in fear of loosing his temper with Abijah, he has to think of the whole town and not just one guy. Then Pilgrim thanks him for the assistance they gave his wife against the trouble makers. Jesse reminds him that they are there for the town. Pilgrim tells Jesse that they appreciate and thank them for all the help, but the town is not them. The choice is their own, their own decision as to what happens in town.
Jesse heads off to look for his two colleagues, and through the poor visibility he comes across an obstruction. The obstruction turns out to be the large native Dancing Snake. He looks down at Jesse with a frown on his face. Jesse greets him, asking how he fares and his people. They are both in agreement that his sister, Fallen Oak, is causing a problem. Dancing Snake then asks if he has thought about the suggestion he offered. About everything hinges on the marriage of Pilgrim and Fallen Oak. Jesse tells him that they have been thinking about it, and are trying to find a resolve that will cause the least amount of problems for Dancing Snake and his people as possible. Dancing Snake blames the mix of the two faiths to be the problem with the landslide, and the lack of resolve and haste to hold a ritual. When asked Dancing Snake tells Jesse with a big smile, that he is back in town to pick up some barrels that the landslide had deposited in town. Then his face goes back to the morose expression, “I trust you, you seem to speak clearly. We need to deal with this quickly. Things will only get worse.” He then offers his help if they need it, saying that he will be in town for a while.
As Brother Ambrose temper slowly dissolves he finds himself on the outskirts of town with only his thoughts for company. He then comes across Brother Joshua tending to his camp from before. Ambrose walks up to Joshua and greets him, thanking him for the help earlier. Joshua explains that he may have re-opened one of his wounds from that tussle, and that he needs to find his way safely back to his bedroll. Soon Brother Jesse finds the camp and sees both Ambrose and Joshua there. He greets them both as he arrives, asking Ambrose how he feels now. He then check son how Joshua is feeling.
Jesse explains to them both that he had bumped in to Dancing Snake on his way over to them, and he shares that the native is worried about the situation and suggests that it needs to be resolved with haste. So the three Watch Dogs debate on what they should do next, talking about the marriage and the faith of the town. They come to the agreement that they need to look in to the previous intimations of Pilgrim. So they decide to go have a word with Abijah and his fellow trouble makers, knowing that they will not want to hide anything that may have happened.
Joshua stays behind at his camp, taking things careful having the worry of his wounds. And as Ambrose and Jesse head back in to town they can see that the dust is beginning to finally settle. The two Watch Dogs go straight to the town’s chapel to see Abijah. The guards watch the two Watch dogs carefully, still not fully trusting them as they ‘know’ what Watch Dogs get up to in towns. Abijah asks the Watch dogs if they are there to pass their judgement, believing that the ‘heathens’ will not want them to do it. “I would ‘appily sacrifice my life if it brought the town back ta faith. I would happily be judged by ya, once the town is back.” Finding that the situation in the chapel is not ideal for a session of questioning, the Watch Dogs decide to take the trouble makers back to their camp. The guards are happy with this decision, telling the Watch Dogs that they were going to expel them anyway, so once they have finished with them they are to send them on their way with only some water and food. “I can’t believe what I’m ‘earing. Watch Dogs taking orders from sinners.” Abijah adds to the conversation.
“You don’t hear very well do you. But then we have proved that anyway today.”
“Maybe I was right the first time. Maybe I should ‘ave pulled the trigger.”
Brothers Ambrose and Jesse, the two Watch Dogs, led Abijah and his men in single file out of town to the camp that Brother Joshua has set up. Joshua is surprised to see this line of men heading towards his camp led by his colleagues. As they draw close, Joshua eases himself up in to a sitting position, asking what the deal is. Once in camp Abijah states that he will not beg only to just send them on their way and have done with it. Jesse tells him and his men to just sit down and relax. They actually need to listen and pay attention. Abijah begins to say “Oh it’s a ploy to get us out of town..”, before Jesse shouts at him to shut up.
After things settle down within the camp, Jesse begins to explain to Abijah that they need to get proper truths, nothing made up, on the town’s cooper Pilgrim. They wish to know what had happened to him before the marriage and before the mountain folk, things that went on in his youth maybe. Abijah tells them that he knows a lot about the man and asks them what they want to know, saying that he has been watching a lot of the town. Jesse looks not only at Abijah but also at the rest of the culprits as if inviting them to add anything they can think of.
Abijah explains what he knows of Pilgrim, telling the Watch Dogs that he was brought up in town as a boy. That he was trained as a cooper by his father. Pilgrim was a bit of a wild child in his youth. Jesse buts in on hearing this and asks for more information on the wild child antics. Abijah shares with them that most of what had happened had been covered up from what he had heard. Then Abijah stops, explaining that he is no ‘tattle tongue’, and that he is only informing them because they are Watch Dogs and have instructed him to do so. Again Jesse encourages him to pass on the information he has. There was a time that Pilgrim could not explain for. Also some of the ladies had a time that they could not explain for. Jesse then asks if there were any ladies of a more recent time that he may know of. Next Abijah shares the news of a talk about how widows can get lonely out on their own, which is understandable. But for a young man to act on it when he should be out after girls his own age. He then tells of how the widow was a respected lady, but was always a bit too close to the mountain folk, even in the old days. How they would use certain things for healing, and finding it odd how a lady used the evil liquid to help heal and keeping it in her house. Abijah then suggests that as he has been explaining about the healer of the town and a lady, then they should know who he is referring to. “This lazy eye, it still sees the truth.”
Next the Watch Dogs agree to go and speak with Dancing Snake first, to see what he may know on the matter. So Ambrose and Jesse head off once more, leaving Joshua in camp, but this time he is to keep an eye on Abijah and his men.
Soon the two Watch Dogs find Dancing Snake easy enough. He is busy sorting through more barrels. When he sees them approach he places the barrel down and sits upon it, then greets them with a humph and a ‘yes?’ Then begin to then ask him what he knows of the lady Ester. Dancing Snake shares how marvelous a woman she is, telling them that she is interested in the ways of the mountain folk, and took great time in learning some of the ways, especially of healing. “I have respect for her.” They ask whether he would be offended if they were to tell him that they have news that she was the one that had been with Pilgrim before his sister. Dancing Snake informs them that he would think no less of her, and asks if they have good evidence of this. He shares that this would be a problem for the lady. “I would have thought it would have been one of the others.” He pauses as he thinks, “She has always been a friend of ours. I do not wish her ill.” After thinking some more he decides to announce that he can not do this, he can not sacrifice her for his progress. And hopes that they can find another way, suggesting that he will have to find another way.
And so the two Watch Dogs think for a moment and decide to go ahead and question the lady Ester, knowing that once they do this then there will be no turning back, and that they will have to move fast. With this in mind they head off to the lady Ester’s home knowing that she was injured and is likely to be there resting up.
The lady Ester answers her front door, a pained expression on her face, her dress still torn and dirty with blood stained upon it. She uses a walking stick as she steadies herself, leaning a little to the wall. She hurries to open the door and asks them in, suggesting that they should go in to talk. She leads them to a back room where there are some wicker chairs, and the floor is covered in dust. One of the windows has caved in and a temporary barricade covers the hole. Once she has settled herself down she asks the two Watch Dogs how she may help them.
Jesse begins by asking how she is holding up considering what she had gone through. She informs them and says that she appreciates the concern. Jesse carries on with this subject asking if she has seen any others and how people are doing. Esters tells them that she hasn’t had much chance since she comes over all dizzy if she is not careful. Next Jesse asks her how she has been getting on with the mountain folk, and for how long as she known them, before the recent change of faith. She looks a little apprehensive to start with but shares that she has known them for a while. She saw them come in to town to trade, and they helped her keep her stock for tending to people. Jesse then asks her how her interest in the mountain folk was sparked. Telling them that she found them very friendly and polite to begin with. Next Jesse how long she has been a widow. Being told that this had all happened long before her interest in the mountain folk. Jesse asks how well she managed being alone for so long, and whether she had help from other. She tells them that she didn’t like to be a burden and never asked unless it was desperately needed. Finally Jesse asked her how she managed with the long lonely nights, but she tells them that she was usually too busy to feel lonely. “Though if you are suggesting anything, I. As I indicated before, I would not object to having someone to talk to as it can get lonely.” Jesse quickly ignores this and asks her if there had not been anyone within the town that had taken her interest, and filled the loneliness of an evening.
After a longer pause, lady Ester informs the Watch Dogs that it has been busy in town of late and she had not had a chance to think of such things. Jesse keeps pushing the subject, suggesting whether there has not been someone to talk to about her woes. Lady Ester begins to feel that there is something more to this conversation as she takes more time to answer. Eventually after some protest Jesse manages to get out of Ester that she has not been entirely alone. He then pushes it and states a name to her to she how she reacts. Jesse mentions the name Pilgrim, and her face goes very pale, and then suggest that she doesn’t know who they have been talking to, “That it is horrid slander on the his name.” With more pushing the lady Ester sputters and begins to sway on her chair, a faint dizziness washing over her.
Ambrose joins in with the questioning, and suggests that they are not trying to dishonour her. But purely they are trying to ascertain the previous life of Pilgrim, as they have found out that it has not been so pure. Then with anger in her voice she states that this is the reason for their visit, they were not concerned for her welfare. Knowing that the truce between the town and the mountain folk is a delicate one. But she finally opens up and admits to the liaison. She pleads with them not to do this and to show mercy. Ambrose reminds her that the town has been hit my confusion and sorcery, and there seems to be demonic caresses on the town and mountain. But she still pleads for them not to continue the action they are going to take, and to not make the whole town suffer for her weakness for one nights mistake.
“Why are you still here. You have your dirty secret.” Lady Ester demands as she looks daggers at the two Watch Dogs, nothing that she can not change their minds. Ambrose and Jesse stand to leave, Jesse thanking her for her time and biding her farewell. She doesn’t rise to see them out but stay put and the two Watch Dogs close her door behind them.
Out side within the town the dusty air is finally beginning to clear. The sun is still in the air and reflecting from all the sand particles in the dirt. The destruction in town can now be seen in a larger picture than was first seen. The two Watch Dogs debate on their next plan of action, and so decide to go speak with the town’s steward.
The Watch Dogs find Azurath in his chapel still, tending to the injured. Sweat covers his brow as he is busy helping his fellow towns folk. He finally looks up as they stand behind him. A long tiredness rest in his eyes as he looks at them, and he asks how he can help them, excusing himself for the lack of energy. Ambrose asks him if there is a more private area that they could go to talk. Azurath leads them over to the confessional booth.
Ambrose shares with the steward Azurath the sad news of Pilgrim, and how he is not the man everyone thinks he is. He suggests that he is not the appropriate man to lead the town, adding how he add a relationship with the widow Ester. Of course the steward asks if they have evidence. Ambrose tells him that they confronted lady Ester, and that it would be wise not to confront her again so soon as it took a lot out of her. Azurath understands and decides that discretion is the best action to take next. He suggests that he could give Pilgrim a task to leave the town for six months. And suggests that by the time Pilgrim returns they should be able to gather enough naturally to void the marriage. He also asks if they could accompany Pilgrim on his journey to keep him from returning early. Azurath also hopes that they may be able to keep things on a level with Running Man, and keep the truce in tact. Possibly another marriage between Dancing Snake this time and a woman from town. The steward trails off as he becomes lost in thoughts as to what action needs to take place, already formulating things within his mind. He thanks them for their assistance once more, and again asks them to help by accompanying Pilgrim. He agrees that the sin born marriage is not a wise beginning.
Next after talking with Azurath, the Watch Dogs go back to talk with Dancing Snake. He is amused to see the Watch Dogs seeming to race to him, instead of taking a laid back manner. He greets them and they greet him back. Ambrose apologises to not finding another way to protect their faith. Dancing Snake narrows his eyes and demands for him to spit it out. Ambrose tells him that they have spoken to lady Ester and to the steward Azurath, concerning the situation and the marriage. Ambrose tells him what Azurath believes to be the best action, about what Pilgrim will be doing and how Dancing Snake will be married off. Dancing Snake demands to know what will happen if he chooses not to accept the proposal. And that he is not happy that lady Ester was brought in to this situation. And what if he instead went along with the original actions. Ambrose informs him that they would then have to defend their faith and town from a spiteful neighbour.
Dancing Snake thinks for a while, suggesting that he has six months to plan his next actions. Sharing that his father will be furious to what is about to happen. Next Dancing Snake Asks the Watch Dogs, which one of them had told the steward about Ester. Ambrose admits the deed, and is told by the large mountain folk man that he is brave to stand before him. Dancing Snake states that he is not unhappy with how this ends, but demands that Ambrose has a debt to pay back for lady Ester. He tells him that he can not think of any way that Ambrose could pay her back, and suggests that he is of no use. He then asks him to quickly think of a way he could help pay her back. “Are you threatening me?” Asks Ambrose.
“Yes!” states the big guy Dancing Snake. Ambrose informs him that he will be accompanying Pilgrim on his journey, and if lady Ester is to find staying in town too stressful and embarrassing, then she will be most welcome to join the Watch Dogs on their travels. Dancing Snake asks where they would take her, showing his concern for her still. Wishing to know where she would be allowed to openly show her faith and beliefs, and to carry on with her practices. Ambrose suggests the town Ashen Ridge, telling Dancing Snake about the towns close approximation of the mountain folk, and that they are in need of a doctor. Another humph comes from Dancing Snake’s mouth, as he is amazed at how quick a response can come when needed, and says as much. He tells Ambrose to put it to her, and if she agrees then he will be let of the hook. “How benevolent of you. Thank you.”
Lady Ester is surprised and weary at seeing the two Watch Dogs at her door once more and so soon. She reluctantly lets them in and sits herself down. Ambrose informs her that they have been speaking with Dancing Snake, and that she has a good friend in him. “Which secret do you wish to pry painfully from me this time?” She asks of the Watch Dogs. Ambrose then offers her the suggested option, that she may continue her way, but at another town. Telling her about the town and the mountain folk. Not surprising there is venom in her voice as she replies to their suggestions. She also suggests that she has no option, she can not talk with Fallen Oak. She is not likely to be the forgiving type. And staying in town the whispers will soon start. And believes that Dancing Snake, who has much to gain from all this, has an arterial motives. “Well played Watch Dogs. Well played. You win and get to ruin this town!” And with that statement she demands that she will be ready to move straight away.
And so the Watch Dogs manage to save the town, but not with a bang but with a mere whimper. They leave the town with the town’s cooper Pilgrim, along with the lady Ester. Also they have Abijah and his fellow trouble makers in tow. Only three of the men decided to leave on their own, to fend for themselves out in the wilds.
This town, like many the Watch Dogs have passed through, change. But is it a change for the better, or for the worse. Many people have died and yet many have survived, only time will tell. Also many miles from this town a new Watch Dog makes her way out in to the wilds, making her mark on the vineyard.