Introducing INK, the Writer's Currency » RPG's New Design Team » Now Open: RPG Staff Applications » 10 Years of RPG: Share Your Story » Can't Send PMs? Need Your 10-Forum Posts NOW? » A (Friendly) Reminder to All Romance RPers. » The Newbie's Guide to RolePlayGateway: Read This First! »

0
followers
follow

Margaret Thorne

"I will avenge those who have fallen, no matter the cost!"

136 views · last seen in
a character in “Dogs in Almighty God's Vineyard”, as played by Magus1108

Description

Margaret Thorne

Image


Age: 26
Gender: Female
Ethnicity/Race: Black
Level of Faith: Margaret believed in God and the Faith, before the Fire. But now, she’s not so sure. Her faith is a lot less certain and steady than in recent years, to say the least. She still believes in a sense of justice and morality, but she’s less certain of the existence of God...or a benevolent God, at least.
Years of Service: Roughly eight years
Weapons/Equipment: A pistol, rifle, a worn copy of the Book of Life, a special necklace she keeps tucked under her shirt collar, and disassembled mechanical pieces on her person and scattered with her belongings that, when assembled form a Gatling gun.

Personality

Most of the time, Margaret acts as a calm and collected individual. She takes care to put on a cool facade, and tries not to let anything rile her up. Among friends, she is more relaxed, and even prone to some genuine smiles and laughs. Though in recent times she's become more hardened, and harder to break out of her shell.

History

Margaret has not led the easiest of lives, but it hasn’t been the worst of lives either. She was taken in by a young interracial couple when she was just a few months old: her father had abandoned her shortly after she was born, while her mother died in a tragic house fire. The young couple became her adoptive parents, and practically raised her from birth. It was not an easy childhood; even in the Deseret, an interracial couple is not viewed kindly by most. And, of course, a general stigma still exists against African Americans. But her adoptive parents persisted, and were able to give her the best childhood they could.

From a young age Margaret showed a fascination with Dogs, due to an admittedly childish view of them as heroes of justice and righteous servants of God. Then, as she grew older, her view of them changed somewhat, but the core concept stayed the same. If anything, her view of Dogs grew stronger. When she was fourteen her adoptive father, Isaac, was accused of raping the wife of a fellow homesteader; before a lynch mob could deliver their own brand of justice though, a passing Dog intervened. He got to the bottom of the matter, and cleared Isaac of any wrongdoing.

From that day forward, Margaret felt her belief in the Dogs grow and strengthen. While she was older now, and wiser to the cruelties of men, her faith in the Watchdogs was only cemented. Shortly after that incident, she knew she wanted to be a Watchdog herself, and begged her adoptive father to teach her how to use a gun.

He complied, and it was under his tutelage that Margaret first learned how to defend herself. Four years later, when she was eighteen, Margaret bid her family and their homestead farewell, and made her way to New Life, to join the Watchdog Academy. It was around that time she made the acquaintance of another trainee, one Anna Ward. While they were both younger than most Dog recruits, they nonetheless excelled at their training and within six months, were ordained as official Watchdogs. Anna and Margaret parted ways not long after, due to being assigned to different Packs, but they always kept in touch with each other over the intervening years.

Margaret worked with a few different Packs during her time, though the one that stood out the most was the one she was with longest: for three years and nine months, she served with Michael Steward and Judith Cohen in Hiram Kline’s Pack, Kline himself a veteran Watchdog with over thirty years worth of experience. The four of them forged a tight bond during those three years, with Margaret viewing Hiram as a surrogate father...and with one of her other teammates, she grew particularly close with.

But it all came to a sudden end. Six months ago, the four of them were investigating a series of ritual murders in the town of Runehiem, when a series of fires suddenly broke out. They grew to engulf the entire town, killing most of the residents. Only a small few were able to flee from the fire, Margaret herself included. Her fellow Packmates were not so lucky.

After this traumatic incident, Margaret requested some time off, which she was granted. Six months later, she’s now back in the business, and has been assigned to an old friend’s Pack.

Goals

Margaret did not have many goals before the Runehiem Fire: largely, she just wished to carry out justice, punish the wicked, and maybe settle down to have a family one day. Now though, she has a new goal in mind: investigating the cause of the Runehiem Fire, and finding the people responsible for the death of her beloved teammates.

Likes

  • Building and disassembling things
  • Justice
  • Fresh Apples
  • Her old Packmates
  • Her adoptive parents

Dislikes

  • Dresses
  • Fire
  • Racists
  • US Marshals
  • People who abuse their Authority

So begins...

Margaret Thorne's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

INK

Chapter 1: Abernathy's Folly

A week had come and gone since the events of Red Road, and much had changed during that time. Horatio had gotten a new lead on another of the bandits that had killed his family, and so Anna's family friend and mentor had left with great haste, promising to contact Anna as soon as possible. That had been a problem, considering that Anna and Horatio had received orders a few days ago to investigate the disappearance of two Dogs: one Justin Meyer, and Eliza Mayford. The two of them had been assigned to Horatio's Pack, but they had never arrived at Red Road, forcing the two of them to investigate on their own.

Now Anna knew why. Apparently, the two Dogs had gone missing in the city of Abernathy, about three hours ride away from Red Road itself. They had taken a train from New Life to get to the city, and while there were initial reports that they had reached Abernathy unharmed, everything after was uncertain. No word had been heard from either Dog since then, and now it was up to Anna to investigate the matter. And, while Horatio wouldn't be there to investigate with her, she wouldn't be alone.

With Horatio's departure, the higher ups at New Life had decided to assemble a new Pack to investigate the matter, giving Anna her first command. Two of her teammates she didn't know personally, but might know by reputation: Charles Carver and Sonia Redwood. And then there was an unexpected, but welcome, final addition to her team: Margaret Thorne. The two of them had joined the Watchdog Academy at the same time near eight years ago, and had become fast friends during their training and initiation. While they'd gone on to separate Packs afterward, they'd managed to keep in touch via letter over the years. And now, her friend would be joining in her new Pack.

It had been years since Anna had last seen Margaret. While it would be welcome to see an old friend, like it had been with Horatio, there was an underlying tragedy in Margaret's arrival. It wasn't often nearly an entire Pack was wiped out at once, so when that happened to Margaret, well, it passed through the grapevine. Anna could only imagine what she had gone through, losing her teammates all at once like that. Truly, it was an unfortunate tragedy.

At any rate, they all had their orders now. All four of them were in New Life, conveniently, once the Pack had been officially put together. Now Anna was just waiting at the train station of New Life: her teammates should show up at any moment. From there, they would board the train, and head to Abernathy. Lord knew what waited them there, but if they were lucky, perhaps they would find the missing Dogs alive and well. God willing, nothing unfortunate had happened to them.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

INK

Worry and a treacherous hint of doubt gnawed at Anna's heart. She waited under the awning over the train station's platform, slouched back against the wall, the brim of her hat tugged down as she stared intently at the ground. With her coat pulled up around her waist to hide her revolver, and her hat pulled down to hide part of her face, it was easy to go unnoticed, as just another vagabond of the West instead of the imposing Watchdog she expressed herself as, usually keeping her chin held high and daring anyone to comment on a woman so casually resting a hand upon her gun or whip.

But for the moment, Anna preferred to dwell on her own thoughts, taking the brief respite to indulge with a moment of brooding, for there was little else she could do. She had tried to move on from the bloodshed of Red Road, but there were too many questions, too many children whose fate remained unknown. But she was forced to admit the trail had gone cold and she could not simply charge eastwards on a whim, as much as it galled her to admit that her divine authority meant nothing in the corrupt East, even if she did have the slightest lead to follow. And she had her orders, orders from those who did have a divine authority that certainly superseded her own. She had written a detailed report and sent it with a courier to New Life, now the matter of Red Road was in their hands.

The disappearance of two other Dogs was certainly of an equal concern. There was no possibility of simple desertion, which meant they had been targeted. One Dog stumbling upon, if not being specifically hunted by, an old enemy was not impossible, but two missing Dogs suggested worse. It was certainly worth of a Pack's attention.

A Pack of her own. Part of her wished Horatio was still here instead. His own quest was just another worry, the thought of in riding off alone to return to his years long hunt. If it was anyone else, Anna might have tried to scold him away from it. But his duty to his murdered family was just as sacred as his oaths as a Dog. She only wished she could ride with him, if she didn't have her own duties here. It wasn't how Anna ever had imagine that she would come to lead a Pack, but it wasn't her place to question the Lord's will.

All she could do was look forward, and as Anna heard the sound of footsteps drawing near, she looked up to see the first of her Pack approach.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne

INK

Margaret calmly walked through the train station platform, her eyes searching out to find her new Pack Leader. It was a somewhat crowded place, but that was only to be expected, given how large New Life itself was, and how many people passed through it riding the railway. She was dressed in a dark overcoat that obscured most of her body...and most importantly, hid the pair of pistols she had at her side. The rifle slung over her back was much more noticeable and visible, but its presence did help shy unwanted attention. Well, mostly. She was fairly certain at least a few people at the platform were unhappy to see an armed Negro, but, well, what could they do about it?

Still, after some searching, she was able to spot Anna Ward. Her face was half-obscured by a wide-brim hat, but she still recognized the figure. Despite recent events, Margaret couldn't help but smile at the sight of her. She thus steadily approached Anna, until she stopped just in front of the young woman.

"Anna. It is good to see you." Margaret proclaimed, a slight smile on her face as she greeted her superior. After years of being apart, in different Pacts, it was odd, but welcome all the same, to see her dear old friend again. The fact that she was now her Pack Leader was a little strange, admittedly...and it brought up troubled memories of her last Pack. Still, Margaret did her best to brush aside such unwelcome thoughts.

"While the circumstances could be better, I am glad to see you again, after all these years." she went on, inclining her head to Anna. She would have said more afterward, but the soft sound of approaching footsteps forestalled any further words.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

INK

Heavy footsteps thumped against the platform as Charles approached, his broad build and sturdy boots certainly unable to keep him from any quiet approach, if he ever did have the foolish inclination to surprise a fellow Dog. He certainly couldn't blame a touch of jumpiness, when he himself flinched more often then he'd liked to admit at sudden noises on a dark night.

Charles peered at the two women as he approached, both young by his standards, each more than enough for him to have given them a double take in the past. It wasn't as if the women of Richmond wore trousers and carried revolvers, much less a black women. But he had grown wiser in his years, eventually, markedly so when it came to meeting the women of the Faith, and more so still among those that had joined the Dogs. And so he tipped his hat politely as he stepped up, refraining from grinning too widely in greeting. "Mornin', ladies." He drawled as his hand settled back to rest comfortably on the hilt of his old cavalry saber, the sword's sheath hidden under his longcoat, with his revolver on the opposite hip.

"Charles Carver. Honored to be workin' with you both." He said, before inclining his head politely. The last bits of his old ego smarted at the notion of being under the command of a woman his junior, but he stamped that torrid thought down. He had heard enough by reputation to give due respect to anyone who lived through the first few years as a Dog, much less the hardy women who grew up in the Faith, and recognized their calling as a Dog so early on. Charles had a feeling that in his aging body, it would be all he could do just to keep up with the two of them.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

INK

Not long after Charles made his introductions, Sonia Redwood sauntered up behind him. She'd make a striking figure, dressed in her old civil war uniform. The blue coloring was faded, the buttons were a mix-match of old and new, and different colored patches were sworn into the fabric where she'd ripped or torn it over the years. By all accounts, it wasn't technically her original uniform: she'd had it, and her other military jackets, tailored so many times over the years, with different things replaced or sown in, that there was likely very little of the original left. A certain parable about a wooden ship came to mind, in regards to her military jackets. But as far as Sonia was concerned, it was still her old uniform, even if a great majority of it was made up of new material.

By far, she was the one most peculiarly dressed in the whole group, and because of this, the older woman often had a lot of attention drawn to her. For her part, Sonia didn't mind this attention at all. More often than not, people who didn't know her assumed she was just wearing the uniform of a dead husband, brother, or father. She rarely corrected them of that notion, given how much time it'd take to explain the whole story.

Since she became a Dog, she'd taken to wearing her old uniform again. While she had mixed feelings of her time in the Union Army, it still had taught her most of the skills she'd used to thrive out here in the Deseret. At the very least, nowadays she was proud of the fact that she'd helped fight those rebel Southerners during the War itself. Sure, the South had won, but at least they'd paid for their unholy victory with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.

"Mornin', Boss." Sonia tipped her hat over at Anna, before glancing over at Margaret and Charles. She took note of the cavalry sword at the man's side, as well as the accent he'd spoken with. "Sonia Redwood, reporting for duty. Do believe that's all of us, least we got assigned another member or somethin'."

It felt...odd, being a subordinate to a young woman two decades her junior. She was likely the oldest here, with only Carver being the closest to her own age. No doubt she was also one of the more experienced fighters here, between her time in the army, as sheriff, and now her last ten years as a Dog. Still, she didn't mind too much at being just a member of the Pack. At the very least, she would do well as the Second-in-Command for the Pack: a more informal role, than a serious rank. But her experience with the Watchdogs taught her that they often liked to pair up inexperienced or first-time leaders with at least one veteran member in their Pack, so that said veteran could help mold them into a true and proper Leader. She'd served in that role once before during her tenure here, and perhaps now would be her second time doing so...

Sonia hadn't been given any exact reason why she'd been put up with this Pack, but seeing Anna now, she was fairly sure why she'd been chosen. Anna had a tough look to her, sure, and she had no doubt the younger woman could hold her own in a fight. But there was a clear difference between just being a good Dog, and being a good Pack Leader. And someone new to command would need a strong, firm hand to guide them along the way.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

INK

As Margaret approached, Anna smiled widely, certainly a rare display of expression from her, but one offered readily to the rare few she was close to. "It's good to see you too, Margaret. It's been too long." She said as she held out her hand to shake Margaret's firmly. "I'm glad we have the chance to finally serve alongside each other." She peered at Margaret for another half moment, before she pulled her hand away, content to fall silent and not press her on the rumors she had heard, if only to assuage if she was still well. But it was hardly her place, especially if their superiors had deemed that she was ready.

She looked to Charles as the next Dog arrived, eyeing the tall man up and down, and nodding politely to him with her hand outstretched again. "It's good to have you on board, Charles."

Then Sonia arrived soon after, and Anna examined her all the more carefully, her second in command that the older woman was. She certainly stood out, in her old Union coat, an oddity to Anna, but not one worth pressing for the moment. "Sonia." She said as she shook her hand. "I look forward to working with you. It's good to have someone of your experience." She certainly didn't doubt that, by the weathering of her face. And she knew well enough why Sonia had been placed here, to help guide her, even if she could only wish that it had been Horatio in her place. But there was no time to dwell on such things.

All in all, it looked a well enough Pack to Anna, from what little she could surmise at first glance. But after all, they had been chosen by the elders far wiser than her. All Anna needed was for them to do their duty, and she had little doubt that they would fail in that regard. She could only pray now that she would live up to the trust that had been placed in her to lead them, but a steady calm remained through her, confident in the judgement of those elders, and in the Lord. She cleared her throat as she looked across the three Dogs, speaking up a bit louder. "Now then. Two Dogs have gone missing. Justin Meyer and Eliza Mayford. They were sent to help Horatio Morale and I form a new pack, and investigate the Red Road murders, but they never arrived. I'm told they went by travel from New Life to Abernathy, where they were last seen. We'll be following their route by train and see what the local sheriff and others will have for us once we arrive. The disappearance of two Dogs is a troubling occurrence and we will have to be especially vigilant, but I am confident we will root out whatever darkness might lie in Abernathy and determine their fates."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

INK

Margaret smiled at Anna in return, shaking her hand. She would have had more to say to her friend, but then Charles and Sonia arrived and introduced themselves. Margaret kept silent then, instead contenting herself with observing her new Packmates. Carver...there was something she didn't like about him. Be it the confident swagger he had, or his Southern origins. Well, actually, it was probably that last part that biased her against him. His Southern accent was easy to discern, though she had no idea where in particular from the Confederacy he came from.

To his credit, he hadn't made any disparaging remarks about her being a Negro, or a woman...so far, at least. Margaret had met more than a few ex-Confederates in her time in the Deseret, as well as other settlers with their general mindset. Even if they tried to be polite to her, it was almost inevitable that their biases would flair up and result in a clash of wills. If the higher-ups in New Life believed he'd be able to work alongside a Negro, then it was possible Carver might be different from other such men she'd interacted with in the past. Only time would tell if that was true or not, however. Either way, she'd best keep her eye on him.

And Sonia...well, she looked striking in her old Union coat, for sure. She'd heard some stories and rumors about the woman during her short tenure as a Dog, and Margaret wasn't sure what to make of all of them. She seemed very competent though, and having a more experienced agent among them would certainly be of use. At the very least, she seemed more likely to get along with the rest of them, as opposed to Carver.

"I see. We shall have our work cut out for us, then." Margaret commented, after Anna explained their mission. Two Dogs gone missing at the same time? Some sort of foul play definitely seemed to be at work. Now they just had to determine what sort, and what the fate of Meyer and Mayford was.

The young woman hoped the two of them were still alive, but the cynic in her couldn't help but scoff at that idea. More likely than not, the two were long dead. It was hard enough to capture two experienced Dogs, let alone do so for an extended period of time. If their kidnapper was smart, they'd both likely be dead by now. And that assumed they hadn't been killed outright in the first place, which seemed a more likely possibility.

The whistle of the train jostled her away from her thoughts, and slowly their train pulled up to the station, coming to a gradual halt not long after. Their ride was here now: all they had to do now was board the train, and prepare themselves for whatever awaited them in the city of Abernathy.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

INK

Missing Dogs, missing Dogs...not the mission Charles had expected, to be sure.

The others had fair reason to be concerned, Charles couldn't argue that. The Dogs were trained harder and longer than any Confederate soldier, and then blooded all the more against a harsh land and harsher people, as those who fled into the deepest wastes of the West inevitably were. But that didn't make them any less human. Charles wondered silently if the hot blooded belief of those raised in the Faith might have elevated the Dogs a little too high in their minds. Training meant nothing against a cannonade or a sharpshooter from dozens of feet away. Of course, such weapons were rarer, and easier to track down if that was the case. But even if not, ambushes by bandits and Natives were a unfortunate fact of life in the West, and not even the Dogs were above falling victim, as much as some might be unwilling to admit. And Dogs certainly had the habit of making enemies, enemies that could certainly have eluded their final justice.

Of course, he kept these thoughts to himself, for now, and just stepped up to the train as it came to a halt, opening the carriage door for the other Dogs, tipping his hat as they stepped up with another friendly grin to each of them, even as he couldn't help but eye Sonia's Union blue coat curiously. The oddities of his Pack aside, it wouldn't do any good to doubt the capabilities of the missing Dogs until there they had even the briefest piece of evidence as to what had befallen them. For the moment, there was little to do but enjoy the calming lull of the train as it went on its way to Abernathy.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

INK

The train ride to Abernathy took three hours in total, and by and large it was an uneventful ride. The new Pack had a chance to chat among themselves, getting to know one another a little better and exchange pleasantries. But beyond that not much of note transpired, and it was with some relief that the train finally came to a stop at their scheduled destination.

As they all stepped out onto the train platform, a modest train station was what greeted them. The place was somewhat bustling, as people milled about, either just getting off the train or waiting for theirs to arrive. Considering that Abernathy was a main stopping line on the train from New Life, it wasn't all that surprising that the station itself was busy. Plenty of people had business going to and from the capital of the Faith: travelling missionaries, territorial officials, people visiting family. New Life itself was also a somewhat popular tourist destination among the Faithful. Many Faithful, those with the monetary means at least, made a yearly pilgrimage to New Life, visiting the Holy Sanctum of the Faithful (the official name of the first church built in New Life, more commonly called the Holy Sanctum), the Palace of the Prophets, and other locales of religious significance.

So it wasn't that much of a surprise when someone bumped into Anna, as she walked off the train. The person, a man of nondescript physical appearance and of an older age if his balding head was any indication, gave a quick murmur of apology to her, before boarding the train itself. Before the incident could cement any further in her mind though, their group was soon approached by an older woman with a sheriff's badge pinned to her shirt.

She was closer to Sonia's age, maybe ten or fifteen years older than her if the heavier wrinkles and clearer presence of grey and white hair was any indication. Still, the pistol at her side disarmed any notions that the woman was harmless. She radiated a sort of confidence that Anna often saw in older Dogs, and there was little doubt that if the older sheriff had to defend herself, she'd likely do a good job of it.

"Afternoon." the Sheriff tipped her hat to the group, eyes glancing over all of them. She hesitated a little, perhaps not quite knowing who the leader was, and who to address her question to in particular. "Ya'll are the Dogs from New Life, right? I was told you'd be coming in pretty soon. I'm Sheriff Jane Mills of Abernathy. This is about those Dogs that came here last week, right? I heard they've gone missin'."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

INK

Never one for idle chatter, Anna was mostly content to sit back and indulge in the rare luxury of a comfortable train ride, through she did catch up briefly with her friend Margaret, what little they could share in quiet tones. It was certainly better not to let herself grow soft from such laxity, eve for only a brief time, but the respite did at least leave her well rested and ready for the investigation ahead of them.

Anna stepped off the train the moment it came to a halt in the station, bounding onto the platform and working her way through the crowd. She let out an annoyed huff as someone jolted her, accustomed to people giving her a wide, respectful birth as soon as they recognized her as a Dog. But she could hardly fault the man, crowded as the platform was, and hurriedly tipped her hat politely to him without a second glance.

Tipping her hat again as the sheriff approached, Anna eyed her up and down, smiling contently at the outward appearance of an experience, Faithful woman, as was only likely for a woman to be able rise to such a position in West.

"Anna Ward. I'm leading this pack." She said, holding out her hand for a firm shake. "We are indeed here to find our missing comrades. I would appreciate you showing us your town and telling us what you know of the last signs of the Dogs. We'd that they had arrived safely here, so we will need to know every place they were seen, and who they spoke to while they were here."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

INK

Sheriff Mills shook Anna's offered hand, nodding as she spoke. "Of course. I can give you the full story, as I know it, back in my office. If you'll follow me?"

That said, the Sheriff turned, leading the Dogs out of the train station and into town proper. A bustling and growing city met them, with people moving to and fro as they went about their daily business. She led them down the street toward her office, pointing out various local businesses of interest and other such sights. Nothing too remarkable, though the Sheriff did mention three places that might be pertinent to their investigation:

There was, of course, the town church. Well, churches. Abernathy was an urban city, having close to 30,000 souls who lived there regularly, and so of course there were multiple churches, of different faiths, all over the city. Abernathy had been much smaller before the railroad came, hosting a tenth of that number. After the arrival of the railroad, however, its population boomed, leading to it becoming one of the premier cities in the Deseret. Of course, its population paled in comparison to the over 100,000 souls who lived in New Life, but for a city that had held less than 500 people during the sixties and seventies, it was an impressive number.

Regardless, the Sheriff had pointed out a few of the churches they passed their way. Overwhelmingly, most of the churches in Abernathy were of the Faith, but there was also a smattering of Protestant churches in town, and one Jewish synagogue, according to the Sheriff. One church in particular stood out though: the First Church of Abernathy, so named for being the oldest, and first, church founded in the city. The Head Abbot of Abernathy would likely be stationed there, which meant there was a good chance he had talked to, or perhaps seen, the missing Dogs. Even if he hadn't, the local head priest would no doubt be a good source of information to learn more about the town.

The second location of interest was the Hotel Lancaster, a hotel near the train station that typically catered to rich and wealthy visitors, as well as the local elite. According to the Sheriff, the two missing Dogs had been offered rooms there, free of charge. They had stayed there for at least three nights, it seemed, though the Sheriff didn't know more beyond that. After Meyer and Mayfield were reported missing, Sheriff Mills had her deputies lock down the hotel rooms they'd used, so the investigators from New Life could check them out. Searching their hotel rooms would certainly be a good first stop, or near it, after they talked with the Sheriff.

Finally, the last location of note...wasn't so much a building, but what remained of it. They passed through a block of buildings that had obviously been damaged by a recent fire: most of the buildings present in that block showed varying levels of smoke and fire damage, with the epicenter of the fire located square in the middle. The epicenter had the worst of it, with only scorched remains left from the burnt out building.

Sheriff Mills murmured darkly as they passed that block, remarking that a fire had popped up in the area three weeks prior. She said no more than that, however, and simply insisted she'd elaborate further in her office.

Finally, they reached it, stopping before a building simply marked, 'Sheriff'. Jane Mills stepped inside, gesturing for the Dogs to join her. Unlike more rural sheriff offices, her office did not double as a jail, and instead was just a small building that housed the police officers assigned to this district in Abernathy, as well as her own walled-off office.

Once they were inside her office, Sheriff Mills closed the door behind them. She took a seat behind the desk arranged in the center of the room, and gestured for the Dogs to take the seats displayed in front of the desk. "I imagine you must have quite a few questions for me, Miss Ward. Well, I'm not sure I have all the answers you're looking for. I had my boys do a preliminary investigation when we got word that the Dogs went missing, but we haven't been too successful. Where do you want to begin?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

INK

Abernathy was more than familiar to Charles, in a sense, despite not having been to the city himself before. He had passed through dozen of boom towns that had exploded in size thanks to the railroad, when he had been working for the railroads themselves. He was hardly surprised to hear the sheriff speak of the diverse number of people in the city, as much as he knew some of his fellows within the Faith might believe, or at least wish, otherwise. Of course, it was only likely a city brimming with the Faithful that would tolerate a woman being their sheriff. He had to give credit to Mills, given the number of other people in the city that surely could not be so open minded. As they walked through the city, he only listened silently, observing the city around them.

"Been no trouble otherwise, Sheriff?" He drawled, once they arrived in her office, peering at her. The missing Dogs had surely asked such a question, even if they were only intending to pass through Abernathy. It was a Dogs' duty to mete out justice, even in the smallest forms, and some times troubles were easily and swiftly solved, if only because a brothel keeper couldn't do much staring down the barrel of a Dogs' revolver. And there was that look Mills had given the blackened ruin they had passed."What about that fire?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

INK

Sheriff Mills glanced over at Charles, frowning a bit as she mulled over her response. Her eyes narrowed a bit at the mention of the fire: it seemed to be a sore subject for her.

"There's always trouble, but that's to be expected in a city as big as Abernathy. Mostly petty stuff though. We've got our town drunks, our roughhousers, and other sorts of trouble-makers. Nothing too serious, aside from the occasional robbery or murder. And those get solved...or they don't. All in all, nothing you wouldn't expect to see in a city this size. About the biggest problem I've had to date is a moving brothel in town. It's...come to my attention that some sinners are running a moving brothel, of sorts, through town. It switches its location every week, and the people working for it are pretty secretive. I've really only heard rumors, and my investigations into it haven't turned up much." Sheriff Mills elaborated. The older woman sounding a bit frustrated as she described that last part.

All in all, nothing too surprising, mobile brothel aside. With a city this close to New Life, it was actually pretty bold to host such an institution here. But if they kept themselves mobile, never staying in a particular house or building for too long, then it made sense why the owners and workers had evaded capture for so long. And of course the patrons of such a place would be secretive and quiet about it, least its latest location be leaked to the police.

The rest, though, sounded mundane and simple enough. Minor crimes, even the occasional big one like murder or robbery, weren't entirely unexpected in a city the size of Abernathy. And unless something really went wrong, it was usually a simple matter for the city police to handle such things themselves.

"As to the fire...that is a somewhat long and complicated story." the Sheriff continued, a troubled frown crossing her withered face. "The fire itself happened three weeks ago, or thereabouts. Started in the middle of the night, and spread to the entire block. Thank the King of Life that our fire brigade managed to contain it there, though. We were able to quell the flames from there, until the fire burned itself out. Most everyone in that block were able to make it out alive, though some suffered burns or inhaled too much smoke. The Watson family wasn't so lucky, though. We believe the fire started at their house...and far as we've been able to tell, everyone died. We never found the body of the youngest there, a girl of thirteen, but her older brother and parents were found dead.

"That's not the whole story, however. Like I said, this is...a complicated matter." she said. That troubled expression still on Sheriff Mills' face as she spoke. "It's not unusual for fires to start now and again. Either through peoples stupidity, or the forces of nature. But this...is different. I have reason to believe that fire was started intentionally."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

INK

Anna wrinkled her nose as she listened to the sheriff's description of a mobile brothel. It was a remarkably clever scheme. It had to be, certainly, to persist in a city so populated by the Faithful. That persistence and cleverness make it all the more corruptive, to fester in the heart of such a city. Under better circumstances, she would have relished such a chase, but as necessary as it was, it hardly seemed something that her missing comrades would have become involved in, in a city they were only passing through under direct orders to meet herself and Horatio at Red Road. Anna certainly expected that those profiting from the brothel would kill to keep their ill gotten gains, but it seemed too unlikely that her comrades could have found a great revelation from the passing curiosity, as short as their time in the city seemed to have been.

She glanced off idly as the sheriff continued her report through crimes that seemed even less likely to have troubled the other Dogs, her gaze snapping back to Mills at the mention of the missing child. The gnawing ache from the thought of the Red Road children welled up in her chest, but she stamped down on those feelings, only letting out the faintest exhale of a tight breath. It was a flagrant leap of judgement to assume a connection, to be sure, brought upon only by her frustration from that tragedy. The reality was that it was regrettably easy for the small body of a child to be lost in such a large fire, after all.

"We will inquire with the abbot and then search the hotel rooms. Thank you for your help, Sheriff Mills." Anna said, once Mills had finished, tipping her hat to her before turning and stepping back outside. She looked to her comrades once they had left the sheriff to her business. "We will have to be cautious here. It is quite likely the others did not expect an ambush in such a settled city and that may have been their downfall. Lord willing, the abbot will be able to point us to their trail, and if some foul wretch tries to interfere, then we will have someone to question."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

INK

"You said something about the fire being intentional?" Margaret questioned, before they left. "Mind explaining that?"

Sheriff Mills gave a nod. "Yes. I don't have any concrete proof...just a suspicion, really. But there are too many coincidences to ignore here. Four years ago, there was a terrible fire in Abernathy. A quarter of the city ended up being destroyed. We've managed to rebuild since then, but a lot of good people lost their lives. The year after that fire, on the exact anniversary...another fire sprouted up. We managed to contain it just to the block it originated in, however. At the time, I thought it was just a cruel coincidence. Then...the next year, on that same day, another fire. I was suspicious by that point, but there wasn't anything I could prove: if anything, people here were more inclined to believe it a curse from the Dark King. Then...just a few weeks ago, the 3rd anniversary came, and on that day, there was yet another fire.

"Like I said, I don't have any proof. But at this point, I'm confident we have a serial arsonist in town. I don't know why they're making fires on the anniversary of that awful day year after year, but I
know someone has to be behind it. Once is coincidence, twice is a cruel twist of fate, and three times is intentional. Someone in my city is setting fires the same day every year, but I have no idea who." the Sheriff declared.

Margaret pursed her lips at that, a troubled look overcoming her face as she heard the tale. One, even two times, she could buy it as coincidence. Three times, however, proved intent. Someone in this city had to be setting fires once every year: maybe they were even behind that original, devastating fire four years ago. Either way, it seemed a good chance that there was an arsonist running about.

...Well, maybe not. One other possibility crossed her mind. But Margaret truly hoped this was just the work of some cruel man, and not...something else. The last time she'd encountered 'something else', her entire Pack had been burned alive.

Once the group was assembled outside, Margaret turned her attention to Anna. She nodded at her words, finding them agreeable enough. "Do you want us to split up, then, Anna? One team could go question the Head Abbot, and the other investigate the hotel room. Of course...staying together for safety's sake might be best, too. If Meyer and Mayfield were ambushed in town, we have no idea what lengths their attackers will go to to cover up their crimes."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

INK

Charles idly stroked his beard as he listened to the sheriff. More trouble than expected, for sure, but such was the nature of a city. At least, a city that wasn't the Faith's capital, but holy cities surely were the exception, not the norm. The sheriff's suspicion of an arsonist made sense to Charles, but if the anniversary had passed, the trail was certainly cold. His lips curled up in amusement at that wordplay, but he quickly pursed his lips back into a poker face, lest that rigid young woman of a Pack leader think he was finding some amusement from the dire straits of Abernathy. But clearly Anna didn't seem intending to pursue that trail either and Charles just tipped his hat to the sheriff with a friendly smile before following his comrades outside.

"Reckon we could split up, two's safe enough company. We sure know to be cautious. The poor souls we're tracking prolly didn't think to expect an ambush, in a place like that." He frowned solemnly at the thought, one he expected that other Dogs might not be so willing to entertain. The Dogs may have had training to match the most grizzled of gunslingers that he'd seen in his travels, and the Lord's blessings on top of that, but they were still ultimately only men, and the Faith certainly taught that only the King of Life was infallible among mankind.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

INK

Sonia nodded in agreement, finding the idea sensible. Of course, Anna would be the ultimate say in the matter, but splitting up into teams, to cover more ground, made the most logical sense to her.

"If we're splitting up, how should we do it, and who'll cover what?" she inquired, looking over at their Pack Leader. "I don't mind teaming up with Charles, and checking out the hotel. We can leave the Head Abbott to you and Margaret, and meet back near here in say...an hour or so? That should give both teams enough time to do their business."

That seemed like enough time to her to follow these first two leads, and maybe check into any further ones that might spring forward from there. And once an hour had passed, they could reconvene here, or back at the sheriff's office proper, and compare notes. Once they had a good idea of the timeline here, of how long Meyer and Mayfield had stayed in-town and where they'd gone, it would hopefully be an easy matter to find out where and when they had disappeared.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

INK

"Indeed. It has been far too long since we last saw one another." Margaret replied, nodding slightly at Anna. A small smile tugging at her lips, as she walked alongside her old friend. Indeed, it had been too long since they'd last seen each other. Exchanging letters was fine and all, but it was nothing compared to physically being together with a loved one or friend.

"I will admit, though, I cannot help but feel slightly jealous. We graduated at the same time, but here you are: commanding your own Pack before I do. It must feel satisfying to some degree, no?" she continued on a moment later, her tone light and teasing as she playfully elbowed Anna.

"Alms? Alms for the poor?" came a distant voice, not long after Anna's reply.

They weren't far from the First Church of Abernathy now, but Margaret felt compelled to see where the voice had come from. She found it soon enough: it seemed to be the voice of a disheveled looking homeless woman. She was sitting against the wall of a butcher's shop, holding out a wide-brimmed hat as she begged for money on the street. The denizens of Abernathy passed her by without a second thought though, most walking by her without even looking at the poor woman.

And Margaret felt that same urge, some quiet voice in her mind urging her to pay the woman no heed, to go about her business and keep going to the church. To ignore her, like everyone else, and resume her duties. Her better sensibilities fought against that notion however: with the certainty that ignoring that poor woman's plight was morally wrong and a sin. Indeed, her training as a Dog, and her moral upbringing, made her certain of that. But then, where was that urge to ignore her coming from?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

INK

Charles strolled down the street in the other direction alongside Sonia, whistling idly to himself and giving every impression of one casually as off-guard as anyone would be in a city that certainly wasn't rife with gunslingers and robbers anymore. But he was still carefully listening to and watching his surroundings, his eyes darting back and forth subtly as he glanced towards the corners of buildings as soon as the two of them were starting to pass by, before his gaze would then turn back to the crowds of city folk going about their day. That was the problem of such a large city that was not so safe as all those poor souls thought. Even if there was only the sherriff's problems to deal with, sinners and madmen all seeking to sate their dark urges, such things lurked under the pristine vision of even this Faithful city. He let out a low, amused breath to himself at the thought. At least on the frontier, the threats and the sins were all flagrantly apparent. Gunslingers settled their grudges at midday, at least usually. And the ones without such decency only had so many places to ambush from in the ramshackle mining towns that barely had a half dozen buildings to even call it a town.

But satisfied enough for the moment that an ambush wasn't immediately imminent, he let his gaze turn back to his compatriot, the Dog rugged and worn with age, even more than he was. He certainly hadn't met many Dogs that looked nearly so old, certainly to be expected in such a calling, but he was obliged to admit to himself that he was hardly a young blood himself. Instead, he just cracked a friendly grin as he spoke. "Reckon they even bunked the night at the hotel? I figured some of y'all ain't comfortable at the thought of fine living, even for a night."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

INK

"Some might not, but I'd consider such a blessing from the Lord. Besides, if someone offers me free bed and board, who am I to say no?" Sonia countered, smiling lightly as she glanced over at Charles. "Of course, that's just how I'd view it. It's always possible Meyer and Mayfield were more frugal and uncomfortable with accepting such an offer. I suppose we'll find out soon enough, either way."

Had she been in Mayfield or Meyer's place, Sonia definitely would have accepted such an offer. Living piously was a good goal of course, but one could also agrue that a free stay at a first class hotel could be a gift from the Lord, and so they should accept such an offer based on that premise. That was how Sonia viewed the matter, at least. She knew plenty of Dogs might disagree with her...but, having lived as long as she had, she honestly wouldn't pass up a night at a free room in a hotel. She'd slept on the cold hard ground, on lice-infested beds, on hardwood floors, and everything inbetween. One night of creature comforts wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, and besides, it wasn't like anyone could say the Lord wouldn't approve of his Dogs taking up such an offer. The Book of Life certainly praised a humble lifestyle, but it also said to accept gifts at face-value, and to not spit on the generosity of others.

At any rate, it didn't take long to reach the Hotel Lancaster. Once they walked in, a rather impressive and stylized foyer would greet them. Between the plush red carpeting and the expensive-looking chairs and sofas, the hotel's lobby reeked of wealth and upper-class living. Definitely the sort of hotel a traveling businessman would stay at, and similar clientele. Interesting that the owner of the hotel offered two Dogs a free stay, then. Perhaps he or she was a Devout person?

Regardless, Sonia walked over to the front desk, nodding lightly at the clerk sitting behind it. It was an older gentleman, perhaps near Carver's age, dressed in a formal suit. The man couldn't help but look at the two of them with slight disdain, taking in their more gruff appearances, but one look at the guns holstered at their sides stayed any choice words the front desk manager had for them.

"Welcome to the Hotel Lancaster. How may I...help the two of you today?" he inquired, as he quickly adopted a pleasant and friendly smile.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

INK

Anna smirked wryly in return, nudging Margaret back. "You'll have your own pack soon enough. I had the blessing of a good mentor for these last few years. It is satisfying, but..." She still would have gladly stepped back down for the chance to work with Horatio on another mission, especially one with such dark tidings. But all she could do was briefly pray once more that his own search would be successful, and return her focus to her own. "But I still would hope it would not be too soon that you are off with your own. I would like for us to be able to ride together for awhile longer." She said with another faint smile, before pausing as she followed Margaret's gaze to the beggar

She wrinkled her nose with distaste at the sight of the beggar. It was a blemish on the city's preacher, to leave one of his flock adrift, instead of guiding him towards honest labor. There were no beggars in New Life, after all. But chastising preachers for such a minor matter was far from her duties, even without such a vital mission as there was now. She would need the preacher's full focus on the missing Dogs when she questioned him. She simply took a coin from her coat pocket, giving the woman a cursory glance as she tossed the coin into her hat and continued onwards. There was too much work to be done already and Anna strode onwards up to the steps of the church.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

INK

Margaret spared one last glance toward the beggar, before moving along with Anna. There was something odd about her, something that nagged at her mind, but she didn't have time to really dwell on the matter. Instead, she walked up the steps with her companion, getting up there first and opening the front door for the both of them.

"Worry not, Anna. I'm sure we'll be riding together for some time." she replied to her friend's last words, even as her eyes took in the sight of the church itself.

The front door opened to a wide and opulent looking chapel. Pews made up the majority of the space, at least on the first floor. Margaret spotted a door near the entrance that was closed, which she supposed might lead up to the second story of the building itself. To the back of the chapel there was a large podium, likely where the priest spoke from. And in the back, see could see more closed doors: either other entrances to the floors above, or they led into a different area, perhaps a kitchen or a room for prayer.

Thankfully, they wouldn't have to go about searching for the Father, as they spotted him near the back of the pews, sitting on one of the benches and reading the Book of Life. And as the Dogs approached, he looked up from his holy book, perhaps sensing their presence.

He stood up to greet them, smiling kindly at them. He seemed to be an older man, perhaps in his fifties or sixties. While he may not have been old enough to have been one of the town's founders, certainly he seemed old enough to have seen Abernathy change and develop these last few decades. Growing from a small frontier town, to one of the most populous cities in the Deseret, only behind New Life itself in terms of population and prestige. It made Margaret wonder how the old man had changed with the town, or if he was one of the stubborn few who refused to change with the times.

"Greetings, my dear sisters. I am Father Joseph Mycroft, Head Abbot of the First Church of Abernathy. How may I help you two today?" the older man sweetly inquired.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

INK

Charles grinned wide, letting out a low chuckle. "Who are we to deny the gifts of the Almighty, even the temporary ones?" He said as he let open the door for Sonia, following her into the hotel. He promptly whistled quietly as he looked about the lavish opulence of the lobby. It was the sort of sight he hadn't seen since his youth in Richmond, aside from the meager attempts of luxuries that railroad bosses would furnish their sleeper cars with. The hotel most certainly was what could be called Eastern hedonism and waste, or so the preachers would say. All the more reason that a savvy hotel owner might offer such luxury to appease a wary Dog and belay any judgments. But the question remained if they might have reason to suspect him after all, for more than just his catering of the rich.

"Afternoon, sir." He said to the clerk as he sauntered up to the desk, smiling politely and tipping his hat. "We here are Watchdogs of the Lord. Charles Carver, and my partner Sonia Redwood. M'guessing you have a mite bit of an idea of why we are here." He would let the clerk run to his own conclusions, for the moment, and watch carefully for his first reaction.

Nothing to see here. Move along, 2766489.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

INK

The clerk considered the both of them with renewed interest, though the sour grimace that briefly covered his face showed his unease. But, well, it wasn't too surprising. Even those who had nothing to had from the Watchdogs could grow uneasy and nervous around them. Most Dogs were an intimidating lot, and many found it hard to be kind or friendly to strangers, after years of seeing the worst of what the Deseret had to offer.

"Ah, yes. The owner said more of you would be arriving soon." the clerk began. "Mister Hershel, the hotel's owner, would like to extend the same offer to you, as he did the previous set of Dogs. You two, and any companions you may have, are guaranteed free room and board here at the Hotel Lancaster, if you wish."

"That's mighty gracious of Mister Hershel." Sonia replied, nodding her head. "But, we aren't here about getting ourselves rooms. What do you know about the 'previous set' of Dogs that came here? Did they stay here at all? If they did, when was the last time you saw them?"

The clerk covered his mouth with his hand briefly, closing his eyes as he considered his words carefully. "I work the main desk here during the day, so I saw...forgive me, I cannot recall their names, but I saw the gentleman and lady Dog check in here two weeks ago, when they first arrived. They stayed here two nights that I'm aware of, and they did not come back on the third night. We merely presumed they had concluded their business in Abernathy, and had gone their way. But, well, that doesn't seem to be the case now, from what the Sheriff has told us."

cron