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Old 03-24-2012, 02:19 PM
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Arrow Inquisitives - Turn 8

Hawksley, Wireburn, and Anselm

Anselm looked around his lab. What a mess it was. An orderly lab shows an orderly mind. There was a reason why he was so good with things and constructs. People can be quite...disorderly. The past few days had shown him that once more. All this culminating into this...mess. A short word, but quite fitting.

“What to do with these...” he muttered under his breath regarding the bodies of the three thieves. His eyes swept the room again looking for a solution. They stopped to the gathered items from the burglars. He smiled. “Gentlemen, where would be the most likely location we would find a trio of zombies?”

“Probably the crypts down near the Cogs,” Hawksley replied casually. “Or in the ruins of the Fallen district. The occasional undead might be found wandering the sewers even...”

“Well I have any idea. Why don’t we do what this nincompoop was very likely going to do to us had we not defeated him,” and Anselm picked up the animate dead wand. “I don’t need to deal with the bodies and so long as we keep them from being readily identifiable..”

Once the bodies were properly prepared - clothing was swapped and ripped so and faces and hands were dirtied with ashes from the fireplace - Anselm uttered a command at the wand and animated the three bodies. Anselm couldn’t quite resist a shiver of disgust at this.

The bodies, moaning, got up. Anselm commanded them to march, leading them down to the street. He waited for a calm moment and moved them towards the sewer grates. He forced them to open the grate, then to drop down the hole one by one.

Once they are all down, the artificer sent them a command to keep walking forever. He motioned Sir Wireburn to close the grate. Now to clean up the lab.

Anselm enlisted the Inquisitives to help clean the battle’s effects on the lab. The blood was cleaned up. The rags, clothes, and other possessions that the trio didn’t intend to keep ended in the fireplace. The battle never occurred.

Hawksley took one more walk about the lab, a last careful once-over.

“Gentlemen, I think we have done what we can here for the nonce. I have enough to begin some discreet inquiries. Good Anselm, we are overdue at back at Ms. Mordaine’s new office. Additionally, I need to check on some arrangements I’ve made. Shall we away? Perhaps we can arrange for dinner on the way.”

The trio arrived at the Keldoran Inquisitive Services office at four bells. The front door was still locked, and it did not appear anyone had been here recently. After a few moments, Pip made his presence known a little ways down the walk by clearing his throat unceremoniously. It sounded as if her were gargling with pebbles in his mouth...

“Mr Quinn! I’m glad you arrived!” Pip clutched at his hat nervously, expecting a scolding for what he was about to report. “We’ve been trying to catch up wit you, Torval and me, but lost track once we got back from delivering the note to Ms Ymaine at Morgrave.” Torval peeked from around Pip’s slender frame and bobbed his head to confirm this. “Ms Ymaine sent a message to your apartment, sir, so Torval had the good sense to go fetch it. We couldn’t find you to deliver it, so we came to back Anya and Dorrin up, sir.” He handed over the note nervously. “I’m sorry we couldn’t find you again.”

Anya and Dorrin, the dwarf brother and sister team, made thier presence known as well, waving up at Wireburn, for whom they seemed to have a special fondness. Anya waved at Anselm as well, but Dorrin scowled. He would not show favour to a stranger on their first meeting; it wasn’t right for a dwarven warrior to do so.

“You have done well, children, never fear.” Hawksley smiled at his helpers.

Dame Wireburn saluted them, hand to chest. She reached into a pouch, and - to Hawksley’s sharp eyes - quite obviously attempted to perform the trick where he plucked a coin from one of the children’s ears. They pretended to be surprised as she produced three copper coins and handed them out. Wireburn, oblivious, was pleased that the trick had worked yet again.

Hawksley opened the message from the assistant librarian and read it quickly. Wireburn could not help but loom over his shoulder to read it as well.
Mr Quinn,

I am flattered by your apparent trust in my abilities to procure your requested services. I have done so to the best of my abilities, as outlined in your previous instructions. Captain Delandau d’Deneith assures me the people assigned shall be discreet and efficient.

I am looking forward to a quiet dinner alone with you, so you can explain all of the cloak and dagger to me in detail. Apparently, this Raena Mordaine is of significant interest to you, so I shall understand if our rendezvous is put off until a more appropriate time.

But please understand this, Hawksley: I will not wait forever.

Yours sincerely,

Almost on cue, a shadow was cast across the paper in the waning afternoon light. Hawksley and Wireburn glanced up to see a man in a breastplate of armour waiting patiently, a respectful distance from them. Nearby, another man with a crossbow held it casually, but was watching Anselm intently. And yet another armoured figure was leaning against a nearby wall nonchalantly, but every line in her body was tense and ready for action, despite the casual appearance.

“Mr Quinn, I presume,” the man in the breastplate said politely. “I am Jared. My group has been assigned as first watch. Unfortunately, we have not seen hide nor hair of our charge, and we’ve been waiting here for her return. She had already left Morgrave when we were dispatched, and Ms Ymaine advised she was on her way to the Safe Haven Orphanage in Greyflood. Team two is following at a discreet distance until she returns here. Team three will relieve whichever of our groups has current eyes on her at midnight.”

“Excellent, thank you Jared. Carry on, then, and remain out of sight as much as possible.”

Jared snapped a sharp salute and signaled for his crew to take their positions.

Hawksley looked about for a moment.

“Wireburn, Anselm, we should find a place to wait for our appointment. I need a moment to speak to our young helpers, as well -- now that the professionals are here, I would like to pay them and send them off.”

Bowing to his colleagues, Hawksley excused himself, gesturing to the children with a glance, calling them to him off to the side. He crouched in front of them.

“My friends, you have performed a valuable service for me this day and helped Sir Wireburn and myself to ensure the safety of good person. You have all more than earned your rewards, as well as my thanks...”

Hawksley crossed their palms with the agreed upon coin, with a bonus. The children were ecstatic, each in their own way; Dorrin pocketed the coins and looked about to see if anyone noticed. Anya’s eyes danced as she gazed upon the money. Pip let out a low whistle of appreciation and smiled ear to ear. Torval giggled unceremoniously and muttered something about finally being able to afford ‘it’.

“It is now time for you all to return to your own lives. Anya, Dorrin, if I could prevail upon you to do two things: first, find your colleagues who are following our charges and give them their reward and let them know the assignment is over, I would be grateful. I know you two can be trusted with this task.” The siblings acknowledged their mission with critical nods in the dwarven tradition.

Hawksley gave Dorrin a small pouch with the coin for the remaining urchins who were following Raena, as well as an additional coin to him and Anya for this favour. Anya’s face lit up and she thanked him for his generosity while her brother pocketed everything lest prying eyes catch a glimpse of the exchange.

Smiling, he waved to them all and rejoined Wireburn and Anselm, considering the note as he strolled. If tonight’s business concluded early enough, perhaps he could repay his favour to Ymaine this very evening.
Pessimism is just an ugly word for pattern recognition...

Necessity is the mother of moral reletivism...
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Old 03-24-2012, 02:20 PM
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Default Hawksley, Wireburn, and Anselm - Continued

The trio made for the Olde Cobbler, which had a direct view of Cavendish Tower from its rooms, to secure their lodgings for the time being. With a close eye on the front of the Keldoran Inquisitive Services office, and with the Deneith hired swords to watch over things in their absence, they headed off in search of food and drink. Their wanderings led them to Hayes and Sons, a brewery several towers away, but it was renowned for its excellent food and various ales and beers crafted on the premises.

With no sign of Raena or anyone at the offices for well past five bells, Hawksley and Anselm give in to their appetites and order a full dinner. It is quite obvious that the priestess had other matters to attend to, and the young scholar felt bad about putting her on the spot in front of so many strangers earlier on. He was more than willing to forgive the lady’s tardiness this afternoon.

As they enjoyed their meals, Wireburn noticed a warforged across the crowded eatery waving him over. It was an older model, perhaps a Mark III series Infantry unit. The four-armed knight excused himself from his companions to investigate, reassuring Hawksley that he would be right back.

The Mark III was in pretty bad shape upon closer inspection. It had moved off towards the rear of the establishment for some privacy. Its one good optical receptor shone a soft green colour while the other ‘eye’ remained blank and cold.

“Well met,” it said by way of greeting. “You’re Wireburn, correct? I have something for you...”

Wireburn nodded.

A panel on the Mark III’s chest slid back revealing a series etched symbols identifying it as a follower of the King of Steam. Wireburn released his own concealed panel to show his own credentials.

With a nod of acknowledgement, the Mark III spoke again, this time in a strange series of blips and beeps...
01000111 01110010 01100101 01100101 01110100 01101001 01101110 01100111 01110011 00101100 00100000 01000010 01110010 01101111 01110100 01101000 01100101 01110010 00101110 00100000 00100000 01001110 01100101 01110111 00100000 01101101 01101001 01110011 01110011 01101001 01101111 01101110 00101110 00100000 00100000 01001001 01101110 01110110 01100101 01110011 01110100 01101001 01100111 01100001 01110100 01100101 00100000 01010000 01110010 01101111 01100010 01100001 01100010 01101001 01101100 01101001 01110100 01111001 00100000 01000101 01101110 01100111 01101001 01101110 01100101 00101110 00100000 00100000 01000100 01100001 01110010 01101011 00100000 01100110 01101111 01110010 01100011 01100101 01110011 00100000 01100111 01100001 01110100 01101000 01100101 01110010 01101001 01101110 01100111 00101110 00100000 00100000 01000110 01101111 01101100 01101100 01101111 01110111 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01100110 01100001 01101100 01100011 01101111 01101110 00101110 00100000 00100000 01000010 01100101 01110111 01100001 01110010 01100101 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01100011 01101111 01101101 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01110011 01110100 01101111 01110010 01101101 00101110 00100000 00100000 01010100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01110111 01101111 01101100 01100110 00100000 01100011 01100001 01101110 00100000 01100010 01100101 00100000 01101111 01100110 00100000 01101000 01100101 01101100 01110000 00101110 00100000 00100000 01010010 01100101 01110000 01101111 01110010 01110100 00100000 01101111 01101110 00100000 01100110 01101001 01101110 01100100 01101001 01101110 01100111 01110011 00101110 00100000 00100000 01001011 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01101111 01100110 00100000 01010011 01110100 01100101 01100001 01101101 00101110

The Mark III’s panel slid shut and he nodded again, departing without another word...

Wireburn put his thumb to his forehead in what looked like an almost reverential gesture, then touched his fist to his chest in a quiet salute.

By the time Wireburn returned to the table where he left his companions, Hawksley was pointing out the window facing Raena’s office. From this distance, they could just make out a few figures loitering around the front, and after a moment, they entered the office.

Hawksley, smiled a greeting of welcome to Wireburn.

“Well, it would seem that those we await have returned. Shall we make our way to Ms. Mordaine’s office?”

Pessimism is just an ugly word for pattern recognition...

Necessity is the mother of moral reletivism...

Last edited by Rhakir; 03-26-2012 at 03:24 PM. Reason: Rh: Filling in some details...
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Old 03-24-2012, 02:24 PM
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Default Durion, Raena, Altus, and Han

“Mr Han,” Raena called out from behind him. “So sorry we’re late! I seem to have completely lost track of time with everything that happened this afternoon! Have you seen Mr Quinn or Sir Wireburn by chance? I’m afraid I missed my appointment with them as well!”

With the priestess came the uniformed and scarred elf, as well as a towering muscular figure in plate armour. He wore a holy symbol of the Sovereign Host on a leather cord about his neck. The bald man met Han’s eye and nodded politely.

Han gave the man in plate a once over, before meeting his eyes and nodding in return. Turning to the priestess, Han held out his hand.

“Haven’t seen anyone as of yet, but its no problem ma’am. I needed the extra time anyway. Had another meeting, which turned into a shindig. Got stabbed right here in the side for my trouble. But first, perhaps we should go inside and discuss it and other items.”

Master Durion raised an eyebrow at this mention of a “shindig.” He sighed, inwardly, then followed them in. He supposed there wouldn’t be much opportunity for this sort of thing in the life of a retired military officer and academic, just more musty tomes and following up on leads. His fingers sparked with power as he recalled the words and symbols to mind that would send azure bolts speeding toward his enemies, and a smile curled the edges of his normally stoic mouth ever so slightly.

“Oh my,” Raena said as she hurried to open the door for them to all enter. She fumbled with unfamiliar keys, but eventually managed to find the right one. “Please come in. I’ll take a look at your wound and see what I can do. Have you reported this to the Watch?” She ushered Han into a chair and went to fetch some water and cloths to clean the poor lad.

Altus waited for Master Durion to enter and closed the door behind him. He loomed in the entryway, keeping an eye on Han while scanning the office and simultaneously listening at the door. The changeling had a distinct feeling that the bald warrior was more than just a protector for hire.

Han smiled at Raena and took the seat offered.

“Oh the watch, yes. Did I forget to mention they were the ones that joined in on the shindig on the side of the folks that attacked us? Seems they were mighty interested in myself and my companion for the evening. Or rather what I gather she had to say. Especially about who killed my friend, and more importantly, who killed your father. But I seem to be jumping to the middle of the story here. Perhaps I should start at the beginning.”

Raena stopped in her search for a basin and clean cloths. She exchanged a significant look with Altus then with Durion.

“Perhaps you should start at the beginning,” she said gravely.

“Did I mention I got stabbed, right here?” Han said, pointing to his side.

Raena rolled her eyes at Han’s dismissal of the incident with the watch. “Let me have a look at that...”

“Anyway, after leaving here I met this lovely changeling woman named.....Shae. She apparently was lookin’ out or following me. Wanted to go out for drinks and talk. What we talked about was rather interesting. After being tested by offering me a job doing something easy, and rather stupid, she got down to the heart of the matter.”

“Uh-huh,” Raena said noncommittally. She had removed the dressing and cleaned around the wound to get a look at how bad it was.

“Turns out she’s whats known as a nose, a broker of information if you will. Doing some say, speculative trading- selling me the information on the killer for a favor to be named later. Which is not all that unusual in my line of work.”

“A ‘nose’? What exactly is your line of work?” Altus asked from his position near the door. He was not surprised when Han dismissed his question and carried on.

“Anyway, after telling me who killed my friend, and also your uncle, it seemed a bit unbelievable. But then our lovely shindig was broken up as a pair of toughs came in, and we beat a hasty retreat out back, which turned out to be an ambush. By the Watch. Turns out that those toughs turned out to be plain clothes Watchmen. And while we wounded one and killed another, the in uniform Watchmen didn’t like that so much. Shae jumped off the cliff. I took a slight beating till I managed to catch them off guard and made a get away. All in all not exactly the best of days. But hey could have been worse....:”

Raena stopped herself just as she was about to cast a spell to heal Han’s wound.

“You fought with the Watch,” she said, all the colour draining from her face. “You wounded one and killed another? And now you’re coming to my office to get patched up?!” She stood so quickly the basin in her lap fell to the floor, splashing bloody water everywhere. “Are you insane?!

Altus folded his massive arms over his chest and remained silent for the moment. He exchanged a look with Raena, then with Master Durion as if to gauge what their reactions were, though Raena’s was somewhat obvious already.

“You do realise--” he began, but was interrupted by a knock at the door. “--That there’s someone at the door...”

Raena reached out and grabbed Han by the ear.

“Ow, ow, ow.....geez, first stabbed now its like my mother come back from the grave. Not the best of days let me tell you” Han said as he tried to swat her hand away from his ear.

“You. Come with me. Not a word out of you. If that’s the Watch, so help me, I’ll throttle you nine ways from Khyber.” Her words were cold and clipped, and left no room for argument. The priestess led Han to the back door to the stairs leading to the apartments above. “Master Durion, would you please keep an eye on things a moment? Altus?...”

“I’ll see who’s come calling, shall I?” the paladin replied steadily. He nodded to Durion to make sure he was prepared for whatever was about to present itself at the door.

Durion, who still seemed to be examining the room, twitched his left hand in assent.

Altus opened the door and discovered a young man in a tri-cornered hat and greatcoat, an unusual four-armed warforged, and another young man in a waistcoat boasting several tools and pouches on his person.

“May I help you gentlemen?” the imposing figure asked politely.

Pessimism is just an ugly word for pattern recognition...

Necessity is the mother of moral reletivism...
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Old 03-24-2012, 02:26 PM
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Default Wireburn, Quinn, Anselm, Durion, Raena, Altus, and Han

“Good day, sir.”, offered Hawksley with an only slightly florid bow.

Sir Wireburn clanked into view with loud, metallic steps and adopted a watchful stand. She bowed slightly when mentioned.

“Hawksley Byron Quinn, Sir Wireburn and Master Anselm, here to see Ms. Mordaine. Our appointment was for some time ago, but we surmised that her affairs were perhaps more time-intensive than she had allowed for, so we spent a couple of bells waiting over dinner and came over when we saw her return. Ah!” he waved at Durion over Altus’ shoulder, “Master Durion! A pleasure to see you again so soon! In any event sir --” another quick bow, as well as a proferred business card “--is the lady available?”

Durion, whose hat was under his left arm in proper military style, nodded a greeting.

The bald paladin measured each of them up and took the card. His lantern jaw was set as he glanced past the three of them to look out over the terrace and the walkways beyond.

“I am Altus Cirrith, Hand of Dol Arrah,” he rumbled by way of introduction. “She told me about you,” Altus said as he stepped aside. “Please come in. She is a bit indisposed at the moment.” Again, he looked outside before securing the portal behind them. “Raena, did you hear?” he called out.

The priestess came through the back door and finally released Han’s ear.

“Oh thank goodness it’s you all,” she said, somewhat relieved. “I’m sorry about missing our earlier appointment! Things came up and we were across town. We only just got in. I hope you understand. There’s so much to tell you, but some other things need to be discussed first...”

She cast her eye upon Han and motioned him forward to the chair again.

Han plopped back down in the chair before looking back up at her, muttering, “Great, just great. First stabbed, then you start channeling my mother and now I have mismatched ears from your handling. I suppose you’d like to finish the story then?”

“By all means, finish what you need to finish. We are entirely at your service.”

Turning to face Altus, Han said, “To answer your question, my line of work is generally infiltration and getting into and out of places quietly and unobserved. Which is why the Nose was willing to trade the information for a favor to be named later. “

Turning back to Raena, “And yes I fought them. This time. Generally it’s a bad idea, but this time was rather different than normal; they didn’t announce themselves like normal. Seems like they were sent by someone to pick her up and stop her from talking. Or find out where she got her information. Which leads a bit of credence to who was hired to kill your uncle. Why else try and stop her?

“Anyway, the person who killed your uncle was The Crimson Rose. Yeah that Crimson Rose. The legendary blade for hire, a Silencer. Whoever wanted you uncle dead was willing to go to rather large lengths, and more then a little influence. Whatever he was working on upset someone important.”

That Crimson Rose,” Raena repeated. “You realise I have no idea who that Crimson Rose is, don’t you? I’ve only just arrived in Sharn yesterday, and I’m not exactly in the know of who is hired to kill whom around here.” It was obvious by her scornful tone that she did not take what Han had to say very well. “So, are you intimating that my uncle was killed by someone associated with the Watch?

“Crimson rose Is the premier person in killing. Not that hire folks, but generally someone like that is expensive.”

“That’s a very dangerous statement,” Altus said gravely. “Do you have any proof of this, Mr Han? It would hardly do to act on this information without proper evidence of some kind...”

“Well we were just getting settled into the discussing proof and such when our little shindig was crashed by the watch. But the, the Watch that is certainly seemed intent on taking both of us in, and didn’t seem like they cared a wit about whether it was damaged or not. In fact didn’t identify themselves at all till later. But sure did seem strange they showed up just as we were getting to it. But I can tell you this- a Nose or information broker, doesn't last long selling bad information.,...”

“So, this...Shae, was it?” Raena said, “Is she a reliable source of information? And why would the Watch want you? What are you to them?”

“And what was this ‘test’ she gave you that you mentioned earlier?” Altus chimed in. “What was that all about?” It was apparent that he was not at all happy with Han’s story so far.

“Well to the second part, the test was rather easy. It was a job offer, easy money in the thousands range for simple use of my talents. A job that she probably could have done herself easily, so why offer it to me and why offer that much money to a stranger. You’d have to be either a fool, novice or both to fall for it. She called it a test, I call it common sense.”

Turning to Raena, Han replied “Is she reliable?” Han shrugged. “I don’t know. I didn't get enough time to really find out before our party was broken up. I doubt they really wanted me in particular, but rather me and/or Shae since we were talking. I think there was more she wanted to discuss or perhaps show me. We really didn't finish up on that transaction too well before we move the party along and tried to take it elsewhere. But they seemed to be waiting outside the back for us. We almost got through before their friends in uniform showed up.

“Further, I just know this much about the Crimson Rose- he or she is expensive, a premier killer who will get the job done, solid reputation, and doesn't take kindly to double crossing or non-payment.”

Altus shared a look with Raena, and they seemed to have a brief conversation based on facial expressions. It was over in the blink of an eye, with the faintest of shrugs from the priestess.

“And what is your take on all of this, gentlemen?” Altus said to everyone else in the room, though he was hoping Durion would offer his opinion first. The paladin had a certain respect for the military elf, and wanted to see his reaction to Han’s story.

Anselm listened intently to the back and forth. There was an acute amount of forces competing for something here. The amount of violence that people were willing to deal to each other at this particular juncture was astounding to the young artificer. He kept to himself a little while longer hoping to hear something that would allow all the current information to coalesce into some form of theory.

Hawksley’s eyes narrowed as he listened, but he forbore commentary for the moment, looking to see how the others responded.

[Response? Comments? Actions?]

Pessimism is just an ugly word for pattern recognition...

Necessity is the mother of moral reletivism...

Last edited by Rhakir; 03-26-2012 at 03:26 PM. Reason: Rh: Filling in some details...
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Old 03-24-2012, 02:29 PM
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Default June and Mardu

Mardu glanced back into the room at the bed and sighed deeply. “Come on, before we change our minds and call the whole thing off,” he joked. June noticed the way his tusks stuck out when he pouted, but kept it to herself, savouring the glimpse of his orcish charm.

She lead him out into the hallway and managed, with a series of careful peekings, to avoid the innkeeper. A quick breakfast of drippy fried bread balls dipped in honey had them laughing on the way as they tried to avoid getting the sticky stuff on each other. Warm glances, furtive touches...she’d never realized that just walking could be so romantic and...happy.

As the two made their way towards Cavendish Tower, Mardu paused on one of the bridges to look out at the city of towers. He smiled; it was a warm, heartfelt, toothy affair that might’ve made any other person cringe in fear. But not June.

“Junie, I--” Mardu began as he looked into the beautiful woman’s eyes. But his own eyes suddenly darted off to one side, and he roughly pushed June aside. “Get down!”

A crossbow bolt smashed into the balustrade a few inches from where June had just been, sending chips of stone flying everywhere. Bystanders screamed and fled as June tried to get her bearings. Mardu was already reaching for his shortsword and axe. A cloaked and hooded figure stood at the far end of the bridge, reloading a crossbow.


June - 16
Responding almost instinctually, the dragon in June roared up and a darting beam of flame lashed out at the hooded figure. Only after the scorching ray left her fingers did June pause to wonder who on earth would be attacking her here.
Ranged Touch Attack #1 (1d20 + 4): 7 + 4 = 11
Ranged Touch Attack #2 (1d20 + 4): 2 + 4 = 6

Both of the rays went slightly wide and to the man’s right. June cursed under her breath that she didn’t hit her mark; she needed to reign in the Dragon Within and aim next time!

Unknown Assailant - 12
With shockingly quick reflexes, the man rolled to his left and raised the crossbow again, letting loose another bolt. His aim was better this time as the bolt sank into June’s left thigh. [Rh: Yeowch!]
Crossbow attack (1d20 + 4): 17 + 4 = 21
Crossbow damage (1d8): 7 - 2 (Dmg Reduction; Amulet) = 5

Mardu - 9
Mardu howled in rage as he stepped in front of June and threw his handaxe with all his might. Unfortunately, his aim went wide as well, sending the axe over the cloaked man’s shoulder and into the tower behind him.
Handaxe ranged attack (1d20 + 7): 5 + 7 = 12
Handaxe damage (1d6 + 4): 4 + 4 = 8

Just then, the wind picked up and blew back the hood of their assailant. Patchy white-blond hair framed a scarred and blistered-looking face, and a pair of red eyes glared at the pair. An albino!

June’s blood turned to ice when she recognised him as part of the group that attacked her and Mardu three years ago in Urthhold. She remembered casting the spell that caused those blistered scars across the man’s face, as well as his hands and arms...

[Round 2!]

June - 16
The twinge of guilt she felt at his blistered face, faded with the need for self defense. The pain was beginning to spread up her leg, but she shook it off and with a silent curse she aimed this time, carefully past Mardu, and let loose with another ray. He wasn’t dodging or running... why? Once the rays left her fingers, she let her awareness expand a little as the pain faded with the arcane healing that accompanied the spell, to see if there were, perhaps, another threat as well. Last time he’d not been alone, was he this time?

Ranged Touch Attack #1 (1d20 + 4): 20 + 4 = 24 [Rh: Natural 20! Woot!]
Crit Confirmation (1d20 + 4): 12 + 4 = 16 [Rh: Confirmed Critical!]
Scorching Ray Dmg #1 (4d6): 3, 6, 1, 2 = 12 [Rh: X 2 for the Crit.] = 24

Ranged Touch Attack #2 (1d20 + 4): 3 + 4 = 7

Perception (1d20 + 10): 20 + 10 = 30

The first ray struck true this time, hitting him square in the chest, even as the second went over the man’s shoulder. But it was enough to make the man reel back in shocked pain.

A quick glance around showed no new combatants entering the fray, but June wasn’t convinced that the albino was alone. Something was niggling at her senses, even if she didn’t see anyone attacking just yet...

Albino - 12
The scarred albino rolled frantically to put out the flames that licked at his clothing from the blast. Gasping for breath, he glared at the sorceress and brought his crossbow around to take another shot. Unfortunately, he realised that he hadn’t loaded it because he had rolled to put out the flames. With a muttered curse, he stared down his enemies and reached for another bolt...

Mardu - 9
Mardu took the opportunity of the albino’s empty weapon and launched himself forward. With a grim set to his jaw, he leapt forward to tackle the man--
Tackle (1d20 + 7): 10 + 7 = 17

--And landed roughly on the flagstones to the albino's left. The half-orc picked himself up and glanced around, realising he had somehow missed an unmoving target. He growled dangerously as he slid into a ready crouch.

June noticed that Mardu seemed to dive straight at the albino, but seemed to pass right through him. No! Not through the albino, but through a hazy image of him, just to the left of the sitting figure! He was displaced!

[Round 3!]

June - 16
June growled deep in her throat, but kept the dragon roar from escaping as she changed tactics a little to deal with the displacement. Area, rather than targeted. Moving forward a little so it would reach him, the spell that left her hands this time was the same that had burned him so long ago. Carefully placed though, to avoid Mardu, since the bystanders had long since fled. Burning hands roared out, somewhat more powerful than last time though.

A cone of searing flames leapt forth and caught the albino in its spread. He attempted to dodge, but could not get away. With a gurgled cry of outrage, he rolled through the blistering flames, his scars offering little protection from new burns...
Reflex Save (1d20 + 4): 8 + 4 = 12
Burning Hands (max dmg) (5d4): 3, 1, 3, 1, 3 = 11

Albino - 12
The albino realised he was no match for the fiery wrath of the sorceress and quickly weighed his options as he continued rolling to put out his burning clothes. With a heave, he threw himself up and over the balustrade and let himself fall over the side of the bridge!

Mardu - 9
Mardu managed to skitter out of the range of June’s spell, but saw what the albino had just done. He sprang forward to the railing and looked for the albino’s falling figure.

“Damn! He’s got a Feather Fall token!” he growled. “He’s getting away!”

June rushed to the rail and looked over at the slowly dwindling Albino. Still close enough, she could get him with another spell...

But then his eyes met hers for a moment and the woman who was not the dragon read something in them. Fear, shame, anger...humanity. Slowly she dropped her hands and watched as he fell out of range before answering Mardu.

“Mercy is a double edged sword, but today we need to wield it.”

And then the pain of the bolt in her leg registered again, now that the dragon had faded.

“Mercy?” Mardu said as he wrapped an arm around her. “You realise he’ll just come back again another time. He’s out to get us both, it seems.”

“I don’t realize any such thing, Mardu.” She cringed at the pain in her leg.

The half-orc looked at the wound in June’s leg and let out a low whistle. “We’d better get this looked at right away. Raena will have to be patient. I think there’s a House Jorasco Healer around here somewhere...”

A few of the bystanders approached now that there wasn’t an immediate threat present. One of them was kind enough to offer his scarf to the couple to help staunch the flow of blood. Others went off in search of the watch to report the incident.

“Dem halflings gots a station over in da nex’ tower,” he supplied helpfully. “Lilah will patch you up, right as rain, miss. She’s a good-un, she is.”

“Thank you, stranger. I know Lilah through the Watch,” Mardu said as he scooped June up in his arms carefully, despite her protests. “She’s a good healer. We’ll get this taken care of. Best if you don’t walk on it right now.”

June took the opportunity to cuddle down into his arms, wrapping hers loosely around his neck more for the touch than any need to hang on. After a few steps adrenaline began to wear off and her questing mind began to take over.
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Old 03-24-2012, 02:30 PM
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Default June and Mardu - Continued

“Mardu, who is that albino? Why did he and his group attack you three years ago? And why do you think he’s after both of us?”

“His name is Talus,” Mardu sighed. The half-orc’s expression was grim, and not just because he was worried for June. “He was a tracker for House Tharashk that fell in with the wrong crowd; those other two that attacked us in Urthhold. They turned their eyes from certain bounties for the right price, letting the wrong kind of people get away. All to line their pockets with a few Galifars.” He shook his head sadly.

“I was part of the team that discovered what they were doing and were tasked by the Triumvirate with bringing them in to be tried. Barsol, the one that cut me up pretty badly, was the leader of their little crew. He killed a good friend of mine when we finally caught up with them. Barsol, Warrik, and Talus were all banished from the Marches for their actions. Little did we know they’d come back wanting revenge. And little did I know they’d catch me helping you like that.

“As for why he’s after you?” Mardu kissed June’s forehead lightly. “You caught him off guard and gave him those scars. I think he took that rather personally...”

“I don’t know why...he looks much more intimidating now. He should thank me.” June joked until someone passing in a hurry brushed her leg, causing a sharp intake of breath from the pain. She leaned more into him. But her questing mind still gnawed at the information presented it.

“What exactly did you do for the triumvirate back then? I’d assumed you were a house guard, but something makes me think that wasn’t entirely true.” A quick thought had her leaning out a little to look into his face.

“And you never told me why Maargrim tasked you with helping me escape.”

Mardu peered at her, trying to decide on just how much he should tell her about his past. He saw her eyes looking back up into his, and he smiled warmly. Right. Keeping secrets from her was not an easy thing to do, and the thought of doing so troubled him. It was best to just tell her what she wanted to know, he concluded.

She noticed his hesitation and wrinkled her nose at him. “Um, don’t forget I’m a prophetess...You may as well tell me now”

“I was a bounty hunter for House Tharashk,” he said as he wove through the morning pedestrians. “I was trained by Daric d'Velderan, just one of the few he chose to personally oversee. Our job was to track down fugitives and bring them to the authorities. He’s a good teacher, and is a good man.”

June knew Daric as the dashing human triumvir that always seemed to be watching her closely. Of course, it could have been her imagination, as the renowned ranger had never approached her personally, nor treated her with anything but respect to her face. And it was Khundar'aashta that was far more open about his intentions for the young Prophetess. It was apparent to June that the half-orc leader of Clan Aashta saw her more as a valuable asset of the House to be exploited, rather than just as a young girl. And there was Maagrim, who always seemed to protect June...

“As for why Maagrim had be get you out of there,” Mardu said, echoing her thoughts, “She realised you were being used. Badly. And she didn’t want that to continue. She was looking out for you.” He’d found the healer’s hall and elbowed open the door, taking June to the front desk. “Maagrim knew of my reputation and approached me for her special ‘job’...”

The attending halfling looked up from her paperwork when Mardu approached. She immediately jumped up and ushered the half-orc to a small treatment room with a bed.

“Place her right here. I’ll have someone take a look at her as soon as possible,” she said, examining the wound. “Do I need to call the Watch?”

“I’m on the Watch,” Mardu supplied, drawing out his badge for inspection. “Is Lilah here? She knows me. Just tell her Mardu is here.”

“Oh, so you’re Mardu,” the attendant said with a wry grin. “Her stories don’t do you justice. I’ll let her know you’re here with your...girlfriend?” Mardu nodded, and the halfling smiled. She closed the door on her way out, leaving them alone for the moment.

“What? Training can get dangerous too,” Mardu said defensively when he saw June’s expression. “Lilah patched me up a couple of times when things got...out of hand.”

“Well, in the short times I’ve been with you, I can see how that could happen.” She grimaced playfully. Then sighed as the ache in her leg, growing with all the movement. She spoke more to distract herself from the pain. “Ironic, they send a hunter to engineer an escape.” She leaned up to touch his face as he bent over the cot. Smiling into his eyes finally.

“I’m glad though. Curious, too, as to why they haven’t seemed to pursue me. But I choose not to look that gift horse in the mouth, just yet.”

Carefully she leaned back, so as not to jostle the aching leg anymore. “So, what do you think of all this mystery?” She spoke now more to distract from the pain than for any need to know. He’d already said some of what he was thinking the day before. “Kidnapped children, forced dragonmarks, lots of attention focussed on Keldoran and his neice. More than seems to make sense. Prophecy...”

He didn’t get to answer, however, as a diminutive tornado blew into the room. “Mardu!” Lila announced.

June glanced down at the halfling in the doorway. She was sort of expecting a young-ish, attractive girl that had a crush on her half-orc beau. She was not expecting the short, rotund, and critical dynamo that was Lilah d’Jorasco. Her purple-dyed hair was cut in a short bob that showed off the tribal tattoos that ran down her neck below the healer smock she wore. Her wide nose and round cheeks should’ve made her look jolly, but she seemed to have a permanent hint of disapproval on her face. Her eyes were sharp as she took in the scene; Mardu leaning back on the worktop and June on the examination table. With a bustle of officiousness, the House Jorasco heir bustled over to the half-orc and gave him a once over.

“You didn’t listen to a word I said about taking it easy, did you,” she announced, studying his elbow. “It scarred. That means you went back to work too soon. You just don’t listen, do you.” It wasn’t a question.

She then turned her critical eye on June.

“Mm-hm. You call this a training accident, Mardu?” Lilah said with a definite note of disapproval as she examined June’s leg. “And this is your girl? You should treat her better than this! That’s no way to show a woman a good time. Take her out to dinner, or maybe go for a romantic ride through the plains at night. But taking her on patrol and letting her take a bolt in the leg?” She squinted her eyes at June in what must’ve been a conspiratorial smile of sorts. “Nuh-uh. That’s no way to treat a lady.”

[Response? Comments? Actions?]

Lilah rolled up her sleeves and washed her hands in a basin near Mardu.

“You just gonna stand there? Go hold her hand and make her feel better. Men...” the halfling said with a deep sigh. “I’ll fix her up good as new, but it’ll cost you the standard rate. And I’m not taking an ‘I owe you’ from the Watch this time. It took them two months to even acknowledge the last one, and I’m still waiting on payment!”

Lilah turned to June and smiled finally. “Just relax, dearie. This won’t hurt a---” She yanked the bolt straight out of June’s thigh, “---bit. There! That was the hard part.” It happened so fast, the sorceress hardly had time to even yelp.

The halfling then laid her hands upon the wound and concentrated, her eyes screwed shut and her lower lip thrust out as she invoked the power of her Dragonmark... A warm soothing sensation spread from the halfling’s hands and into the wound. June noticed that Lilah’s dragonmark was actually hidden amongst the tattoos on her neck, as it began to glow with a familiar shimmering radiance. [Rh: All HP restored.]

[Response? Comments? Actions?]

“There, that should do you some good,” Lilah told June not unkindly. “Just take it easy for a little while before playing target again, okay?” She turned her round little frame on Mardu next. “And you take better care of her! What’s the matter with you? Wait, don’t answer that. I’ve got other patients to tend to, and I don’t have time to listen to your excuses. We’ll talk the next time you’re in and I have to patch your sorry ass up.” She was already halfway to the door...

“Thank you, Lilah,” Mardu said sincerely. “This means a lot to me. I’ll take good care of her. I promise.” Though he was talking to the halfling, his eyes were on June.

[Response? Comments? Actions?]

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Default Interlude

The crowd formed rather quickly, encircling the unarmed combatants, simultaneously cheering and jeering them on. It was a common enough occurrence; a fist-fight starts and a crowd forms to watch it. The spectators were joined by someone that thought it would be a good idea to sell food to the hungry crowd; sausages were always portable and popular. Bets often accompanied these events, and there was no exception this time either. In fact, many spectators came for the betting rather than for the opportunity to witness two (or more) people throw punches at one another; betting was by far more satisfying when you had the chance to walk away with some other bloke’s hard earned money. At some point in history, someone observed the phenomena of all these things happening around fights and decided to sell tickets, but this wasn’t one of those occasions; this was wholly unplanned, unscripted, and unexpected.

“Cor! He’s gonna feel that in the mornin’, ain’t he?” a rotund dock worker said, elbowing the fellow beside him. “I gots me eight Crowns on the big-un wit’ tattoos. How ‘bouts you?”

“Dunno,” the tall one on the receiving end of the elbowing drawled. He was chewing a sausage of dubious integrity while witnessing the brutality in the clear space on the dock. “I think the small one has a chance. He keeps taking the hits but ain’t falled down yet. Ooooh! Lookit him kick! Your tattooed boy’s head is gonna ring from that!”

“Naw! There he goes with the one-two combo! That’s gotta hurt dat skinny bloke!” the portly spectator said slapping the other man on the back. It was good timing, since the other man had just begun choking on the questionable sausage.

“An’ he’s comin back stronger’n ever!” the other man said, coughing out the last of the food lodged in his throat. “Lookit that back-hand! And dat whirlymagig kick! He ain’t no little shrimp, dat boy!”

“Host preserve! How’d that skinny little thing do dat! The big-un is staggerin’ back!” the rotund spectator shouted in disbelief. “Oh-ho, but he ain’t down yet! That was a helluva punch! Just sent your boy into those crates! He ain’t a gettin up again!”

“Y’think so?” the other man said, taking his turn at elbowing the portly one. “He got back up alright! And he come out aswingin’ too! Oh! Elbow to the throat! Jab to the ribs! Your man is goin down, boyo!”

“Damn! How’d that scrawny guy manage that! C’mon you brute! Get im!” the large man howled. “I ain’tn’t losin’ my pay on yer sloppy fightin!”

“Well, looks like you ain’t buyin tonight,” the other man said chuckling. “I guess I kin’ offer you a shot to wash away the taste o’ losin’ from your mouth. That boy is beatin’ the big-un nine ways from Khyber, he is! Lookit’ ‘im go with those fists and feet! He ain’t givin’ your boy any room to even raise a hand!”

“Look! Look! It ain’t over yet! My boy’s about to break yours in two!” the rotund man said proudly. “I’ll buy you a dr--”


The words caught in the man’s throat as he stared slack-jawed at the fighters. The entire ring of spectators fell utterly silent as well. Nobody was sure of how to react to what they’d just witnessed.

The smaller of the two fighters was still standing, his chest heaved as he caught his breath. His dark ringlets were drenched in sweat, and he was spattered with blood, mostly the other man’s. His body was twisted sideways and both of his fists were still extended; his last attack was focused into one devastating strike which sent this opponent flying. The bigger man, with tattoos covering both of his massive tree-trunk arms, lay sprawled several feet away, his eyes staring off into oblivion...

“Is he dead?” “That boy just killed that man!” “How in Khyber did he manage that?” “Where’s my money?” “I ain’t stayin’ round here wit’ no dead body!” “Murderer!” “Do we call the Watch?...” The crowd of spectators began to disperse quickly, many bets being forgotten, others to be collected upon later. Soon, the dock was cleared of all but a few wanting to see what happened to the winner of the match.

The victor knelt down next to the tattooed man and closed the staring eyes. He lowered his head and said a silent prayer for the man whose life he just took. The bruises on his chest and torso were already fading rapidly.

“Have you come to take me back?” the young man said without turning. “Or are you planning on putting an arrow through my back right now?” His faint accent hinted of Thranish schooling.

“You know we can’t let you go after what you just did to that man, Aydon,” came a woman’s cold reply from behind him. “We have been tasked with bringing you in.”

“Or takin’ you down,” said a man standing beside the woman. His voice rasped like a dry autumn day. “Whatever’s necessary. Do you intend to resist?”

Aydon stood up slowly, and he rubbed at the stubble covering his jaw. He was dirty, and his clothes were in tatters; he hardly looked like anything more than a vagrant that got caught up in a brawl. But when he turned to face the pair behind him, his eyes were as hard as adamantine.

“Well, I certainly don’t intend to come with you,” he said firmly, turning his body slowly into a ready position, even though his hands hung unassuming at this sides. He studied the pair challenging him and cleared his mind of all else...

Drayton, the man with the raspy voice, was poised to rush in and swing the heavy mace he favoured; Aydon noticed the shifting of weight to the ball of the man’s left foot and the way the breastplate he wore was balanced just so. Eren, on the other hand, was ready to loose a silver-tipped arrow at him from a range of about fifteen paces. She would do so just as Drayton moved forward, giving time for the arrow to hit, and offering a distraction for the mace. But her eyes found Aydon’s as he studied the pair, and she realised the scruffy-looking young man was working out what they were planning on doing.

“Damn,” she spat and lowered the bow ever so slightly. She kept the arrow partially drawn however, just in case. “He knows what we’re going to do before we do it. It’s what he did to the last hunters.”

“So?” Drayton snarled, still ready to charge. “My mace is ready to knock that boy flat, no matter what he thinks I’m gonna do. It’s inevitable. He’ll fall, just like all the others of his kind. I guarandamntee it.”

Aydon didn’t take his eyes off Eren, but he was still aware of Drayton’s position and lack of forward momentum for the moment. Was it all just talk to intimidate him and rattle his nerves? It was true that the hunters had killed nearly all of his family line, and many of his friends. But they hadn’t managed to corner him just yet. If Drayton had any sense, he’d be circling around to flank him while Eren threatened with the bow. That would be a sensible tactic. Except they were hesitating, almost waiting. Which meant that there was someone behind him, downwind where he wouldn’t be able to tell...

Aydon dropped to the ground and rolled to his left just as a sword whistled through the air where his neck had been just a split-second before. He spied the familiar enameled breastplate of another hunter, but didn’t waste any time trying to get a feel for this opponent. An arrow slammed into a plank just a hair's breadth from his midsection, but he continued to roll over the top of it, bending the shaft of the arrow with his passing. His momentum took him right into the path of Drayton’s charge, and Aydon lowered his centre of gravity and continued the roll directly into the armoured man’s legs below his knees.

Drayton jumped over the trip attempt, but nearly collided with the swordsman in the process. This was the opportunity that Aydon needed, and the young man spun up to stand directly in front of Eren, who was reaching for another arrow. Without any apparent hostility, Aydon’s hand slid forward and gently pushed the longbow aside with enough force to cause the woman to overbalance herself. As she leaned forward, his palm closed around her wrist and he pulled, causing her to launch herself past him.

All of Aydon’s movements were done in the blink of an eye, with such fluid subtlety and economy of movement that it looked as if he’d choreographed the whole thing with the other three.

The other three, who were far less graceful and fluid in their movements, rallied to attack once more. But because of the way Aydon had woven through and moved Eren into the other's’ path, the swordsman was unable to charge. Instead, he offered a gauntleted hand to steady the elven woman.

Drayton lost his patience and shoved his way past the swordsman and Eren, charging at the young man’s back. His mace whistled through the air as he swing it with all of his might. Unfortunately for him, Aydon was not one to stand still to be hit from behind like that, and had ducked and launched himself to the right.

Eren spun and fired an arrow at her quarry. The silver tip ricocheted off the dock and struck a barrel several yards away as Aydon seemed to move at precisely the right moment to avoid being hit. She swore under her breath as she drew another arrow.

“You realise that’s blasphemy,” Aydon chided as he half-turned to see where the attackers were. “I don’t think the Speaker would stand for such things, Sister Eren.” Seemingly satisfied with their current placement and positioning, he leaned forward and dropped to the dock onto his hands, and changed...
Pessimism is just an ugly word for pattern recognition...

Necessity is the mother of moral reletivism...
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Default Interlude - Continued

It is said that Shifters noticeably alter their appearance when they call upon the lycanthropic blood in their veins. Some seem to take on animalistic aspects, causing their faces to elongate slightly as their fangs lengthen, or their legs seem to stretch longer and become more muscular to enable them to run faster and jump farther. Others grow claws from hands that take on cruel animalistic forms. Some just get a little hairier than normal, the only outward change to their appearance.

Aydon’s transformation went far beyond any of these minor affectations.

As he leaned forward, his body seemed to stretch and grow, shift and reform, all with an almost sickening popping and grinding noise, like joints being dislocated and wrenched painfully. The long plane of his aquiline nose and his jaw stretched forward to form a muzzle; his ears grew up and out to form peaks; his arms and hands rearranged themselves to form forelimbs and paws; his chest heaved and narrowed, growing deeper at the sternum; his tight midsection stretched out and his hips widened; his legs and feet slid out of the loose clothing he wore and formed muscular haunches and elongated rear paws; his entire body grew dark as fur spread across the once pale flesh.

It was at this point that the last of the hangers-on and bystanders ran for their lives. Only the three hunters remained to face the dark wolf that stood where Aydon had just been.

The werewolf focused its baleful gaze upon the nearest of his pursuers. Its lips curled back to expose a row of massive sharp teeth, and a low growl escaped its throat. It looked as if it were about to leap upon Drayton, but turned and loped off towards one of the paths that lead away from the open space where the fight had been.

The swordsman moved quickly to intercept the fleeing lycanthrope, but didn’t manage to block its path in time. He took a swing at the retreating wolf, but his blade only managed to draw sparks off the stone wall instead of cleaving its target.

Eren shifted her position and loosed another arrow at the werewolf, but she didn’t have a good line of sight. The winding path twisted this way and that, offering just enough protection from the silver-tipped missile. She was about to swear again, but stopped herself short, flushing when she realised she was admonished by Aydon of all people, for doing so a few seconds before.

“Damn him to Khyber!” Drayton roared, and ran off after their quarry.

He made it as far as the first set of stairs about a hundred yards away before slowing down to catch his breath. He couldn’t see any sign of the werewolf from here, and wasn’t even sure if Aydon had turned down any number of smaller side passages or alleys that wound throughout the dock ward.

Eren and the swordsman caught up to the mace wielding warrior where he stopped. He’d sat down and lit a pipe while he waited for his companions.

“That is not good for your health, Father Drayton,” the warforged swordbearer said. His normally blue-glowing eyes shone yellow in concern.

“Neither is haring off after a werewolf in a warren like this,” the cleric said as he passed the pipe over to the elf. She sighed and took the offering, inhaling deeply of the fragrant pipeweed. The warforged looked on curiously, but remained silent.

“Bishop ir’Forza is going to be disappointed,” she said as she handed the pipe back to her colleague. “Aydon could be anywhere in the city by now. It’ll take awhile to pick up his trail again.”

“I have faith in your tracking skills, Sister Eren,” the warforged intoned. He placed a hand upon her shoulder, a gesture he had observed others doing when offering comfort and reassurance.

“Thank you, Crusader. I appreciate the faith you have in me,” the priestess said quietly. “But Sharn is a big city. We were lucky to have caught up with him when we did. If that dock worker hadn’t picked a fight with him, Aydon might’ve caught our scent a lot sooner than he did and made a run for it before we located him.”

“That boy is a menace,” Drayton said, taking another long draw off the pipe. “Killing a man in cold blood like that. Because what, the big lout thought he was being insulted? He didn’t deserve to have the flame of his life snuffed out by the likes o’ that murderous lycanthrope...”

“It was my understanding that the ‘lout’ started the incident, and that Aydon seemed to be very reluctant to even engage in fisticuffs,” Crusader said earnestly.

“Perhaps, but the fact remains that he killed again,” Sister Eren said heavily. “How many more must die at his hands before we stop him?”

“But he did not take that man's life as a werewolf,” Crusader objected. “Does this actually count against him? It seemed a matter of self-preservation from my perspective. I will not condemn a man for defending himself when faced with his own mortality. I learned that much from the War.”

“He’s a wanted criminal, Cru,” Drayton rasped. “Don’t go gettin’ any funny ideas in that bucket you call a head, y’hear?”

“Yes, Father Drayton,” Crusader replied softly. “I meant no disrespect.”

“Of course not, Cru,” Sister Eren said. “But we can discuss all this later. Right now we have a werewolf to find.” And with that, she started climbing, beginning their hunt anew...

Pessimism is just an ugly word for pattern recognition...

Necessity is the mother of moral reletivism...
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