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Augustus Sharpe

"When will it end?"

0 · 330 views · located in Dogs in God's Vineyard

a character in “Dogs in Almighty God's Vineyard”, as played by HighestLord

Description

Augustus Sharpe

Image


Age: 32
Gender: Male
Ethnicity/Race: White
Level of Faith: Augustus is about as faithful as they get; he is a full on fundamentalist and fanatic. However, as is often the case with such people, this is a cover, a mask donned to hide him from himself, on which more below.
Years of Service: Ten years have passed since Augustus Sharpe became a Dog; ten years since he entered the ranks of those faithful warriors. In that time he has seen a lot, killed many, and lost a lot too. He is experienced but far from a grizzled old veteran.
Weapons/Equipment: Besides the traditional weapons of the Dogs, Augustus carries a briquet, a sabre used by Napoleon's infantry and cavalry on the continent. He is an old fashioned man with military values, who regards the Dogs as almost an army; he sees himself as a cavalry unit sometimes, as the sabre was a common cavalry sword. He is also adept at fencing and sword fighting, despite the prevalence of guns in the west. He isn't unaware of the drawbacks of his old fashioned preferences though; while he prefers the sword, he uses it in tandem with his revolver to fight at both long and short range. He does often make a point of getting up close to enemies though, usually on horseback, in order to slice through them. He acquired the briquet from a dealer in the city who had smuggled it in with other valuable goods; it was used in Egypt during Napoleon's campaigns there. It is attached to his belt in a sheath.

He also has a faithful steed, named Bucephalus after the great Alexander's own horse. The briquet and the horse's name satiate Augustus's appetite for history, especially the massive conflagration of the Napoleonic wars. For such an insular and fanatical man, he has an awfully broad spectrum of interests; an almost heretical range, some may say.

Image

Sharpe also carries a seemingly unlimited supply of tobacco and can often be seen smoking on a battered old pipe. He also usually has books other than the Book of Life hidden away in his coat, books on philosophy, history, science...books which a Dog shouldn't be carrying, but to him they represent Enlightenment and he regards himself as no less faithful for carrying them and having these interests.

His hair is black and falls down to his shoulders; it is unkempt, rough and scruffy, just like the black beard on his face.

On his head, he wears a battered black old stetson. That word typifies his appearance; battered. Hat, pipe, coat, face, body; all battered and scarred from his time as a Dog. Despite this perpetual battered look, he is still clearly 32; he does not appear to be older than his age, unusually. Augustus walks with a limp, an old injury; yet it doesn't affect his pace and disappears when the adrenaline kicks in. The pain stays though.

Personality

Augustus has an incredibly contrasted personality; one moment he can be stoic and calm, unflappable and assured, the next, manic, gleeful, insane, perhaps suicidally so. Perhaps this is a result of all the difficulties he has faced and faces; the stoicism is how he hides, how he retains composure in any given situation; it is a front and it is genuine, a way of keeping himself in one piece; it is a tool to give him time, to analyse a situation rationally. The other side? Perhaps it's the pressure unleashed; his desire for death rears itself, and he will become dangerously unpredictable. He will remain unswervingly loyal, but he will do stupid dangerous things deliberately on impulse. The self destructive beast comes forth, and people die; unfortunately for Augustus, they are not usually him. Why not take his own life? Well, it's a sin of course. Does he believe there is no afterlife then? Maybe. Or maybe he thinks he'll be punished. Maybe even forgiven, though that's unlikely. Either way, he just wants the pain of his current existence to end. Contradictions have to be solved by indirectness sometimes. He is scholarly and eloquent, but also incredibly coarse and brutish. He lies to himself and everyone else all the time, perpetuating untruth, yet believes in truth. Sometimes his eyes are dead. The pain constantly kills him.

These contradictions are a result of a paradox at the centre of Augustus; he is a homosexual, in the deepest of denial and this is where the madness comes from. He is a genuine believer, but the extremism is to cover his own insecurities; he knows deep down how disgusting he is in the eyes of the church. The fundamentalism compensates for this. The madness and the contradictions are a by product of trying to hide the truth, of denying himself; such things can be unhealthy for a man's mind. Perhaps the books and the heretical interests are part of him trying to break out, and part of another tension within him; the fundamentalist cover and true faith, and the inquiring mind. These tensions will come forth one day. And it won't end well.

History

Born and raised in the church, in the true Faith, Augustus displayed faith from a young age; he was the son of a preacher, and imbibed the indoctrination from a young age. Despite this, he was also innately inquiring, and often spoke to people from outside the town to learn more, to experience more. This is where his interest in history, philosophy and the rest comes from; he would read what outside books he could get, hiding them around the house. Of course, everyone eventually knew about this, but because they couldn't stop him and because at the same time he displayed great faith, no action was taken; he got off, by sheer luck. Though he was beaten harshly, as was common in his household. Of course, Augustus believed he deserved each and every punch. But that didn't stop him.

However, the tension grew within him. Doubts gnawed. And his sexuality as he grew older became another disturbance to his mind. Another contradiction to his faith. He retained grip on reality, but only just; his contradictory personality traits are a result of this bubbling mixture of contradictions. He became suicidal, as described above. But his faith grew strong, and his interest in military history led him to regard the infamous Dogs as warriors of God, and he wanted to join their ranks. So he trained, and soon joined the academy, aged 18; he excelled, but received many beatings for his interests. He fell in love with his best friend, Jackson Green, whom he'd met on his first day at the academy; previously he'd been a loner. Jackson was a kindred spirit, inquiring and different too. He always smoked a battered old pipe, and Augustus started smoking too, acquiring a pipe from his (still living) father. Of course he never admitted his feelings, to himself or anyone else. His tutors were impressed despite the difficulties and he became a Dog at age 22. He is highly intelligent, and often got into trouble due to his dislike of idiocy. Some people just didn't like being corrected on exact chapters of the Book of Life.

Augusts went on missions, killing whores, alcoholics, homosexuals and all other manner of sinners. He christened and married, even delivered funerals. His sword, already battle hardened thanks to Napoleon, grew even more rough. His interests led him to get on with the Indians, one of the few Dogs to have a completely amicable if still slightly awkward relationship with them.

Unfortunately, one day another death was dealt to him. Jackson and he were pursuing criminals, vagabonds and scourge of a small town, kingpins of murder, rape and extortion. A horse chase; the blood pounding, the adrenaline high. Mountains in the distance, completely nothing but sand and rock around them. Shots fired back and forth, men dying and screaming. Not he and Jackson though. Not yet.

The mountains loomed, and the criminals decided to end the chase and hid in the mountains, setting an ambush. But the Dogs were ready; vagabonds were no match for them. The criminals were defeated, slaughtered. Of course, fate often twists things to laugh at us. One of the criminals, the leader, a disgusting vile psychopath, was not dead, just mortally wounded. As Augustus performed the final rites of the dead, there was a bang, and Jackson crumpled beside him. The leader was quickly dispatched by Augustus, and he turned to his friend on the ground. A bullet to the chest, right at the heart. No possibility of survival. Even the Indians couldn't help him, even if they were nearby. Last words were exchanged. But Augustus couldn't be honest even then, didn't want to. Still, something along the lines of the truth might have spilled out after Jackson was dead; words spoken quietly but fiercely and in rage and defiance, intensity and emotion piercing them all. The Indians had come to see what was going on. They surrounded the scene and helped bury Jackson. Augustus walked away, got back on his horse and never looked back. He told the Dogs what had happened, and got on, but died a little inside. A little more, that is. He had taken one thing from the body; the battered old pipe which Jackson smoked; he uses it to this day. That was five years ago. His own pipe? Buried with his friend.

And so Augustus Sharpe, stoic and madman, fanatic and freethinker, continued his travels with the Dogs, the tensions within him still rising.

Goals

Augustus just wants to learn more, do more, see more, and continue his crusade in the name of the church. He also wants to find peace. And die.

Likes

    [History, Philosophy, Science and the like]
    [Jackson Green]
    [Crusading]
    [The Church]
    [Killing sinners]
    [Smoking]

Dislikes

    [Sin]
    [Sinners]
    [Himself]
    [Criminals]
    [Evil]
    [Idiots]

So begins...

Augustus Sharpe's Story

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Horatio Morale Character Portrait: Otto Zimmerich Character Portrait: Augustus Sharpe Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Episode One: The Red Road

The scorching sun hung high above in the sky, blasting its unrelenting rays upon everyone in its sight. The four Dogs riding forward were wearing cloaks to prevent sunburn, but they could feel the heat nonetheless. As far as they all could tell, it promised to be another regular afternoon in the West.

However, this would be the Packs first mission together. All of them had just been assigned under Horatio Morale's command, and this would be the first time any of them had worked with each other. Some of the Dogs may have known their new comrades from the past, but none of them had ever been in a Pack with the Dogs present. This would be a trial of sorts for them, for they would see how the other acted and worked first hand, and if they could truly function together as a unit.

As they continued on, a town came into sight in the distance. There, they would begin their first mission. The small settlement was called Red Road, named after a nearby trail. According to the Minister of the Watchdogs, Red Road had been experiencing some grave trouble lately, and would need all the help it could get from the Dogs.

Soon the Dogs arrived in the town, where a fair amount of people were already waiting for them. A few of the townspeople dismissed them offhand, thinking them simple travelers. However, the more observant of them caught a glimpse of the Dog insignia on their coats. Word soon spread that a Pack of Dogs were in Town, and by the time the Dogs had reached the center of town, a good sized crowd had gathered around, gawking at them. Reactions amongst the townsfolk were mixed; many were happy at the sight of the Dogs, while others seemed angry, perhaps fearful.

It was to be expected, of course. Not all citizens of the West were Faithful, even though most of the religion's followers lived there. And a lot of people did not like the Dogs at all, and even some among the Faithful did not have a good view of the Dogs, since they did not like having their Faith questioned, or their buried secrets aired for the world to see.

Out of the crowd, a relatively youthful man stepped out of the crowd and approached the dogs. He had a tin star badge on the right breast of his shirt, and a holstered gun on his hip. The man was also of obvious African descent, his dark skin evident in the harsh sunlight.

"Are you fellows Dogs? Thank the Lord Almighty! I'm glad to finally have some help around here! I'm Deputy...er, Sheriff, Thompson. A pleasure to meet you folks."

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Horatio Morale Character Portrait: Otto Zimmerich Character Portrait: Augustus Sharpe Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Otto Zimmerich muttered quietly to himself. His face was swathed in a red scarf, to protect the fair skin of his face, and it was soaked in sweat. Beneath him, his black colt, Todesengel, likewise was soaked in sweat. The land was harsh and unforgiving here, though it suited the Faithful and their principles of hard work and a hard life. Gently resting across the neck of his horse was Otto's favorite weapon, his black Winchester lever-action. The Watchdog didn't expect any immediate trouble, but in a land like this, assuming safety often led to death. And so it was with a loaded rifle he rode into the town with his new pack.

As they entered, he glanced around at his companions. He had wondered if any of them had heard of him before, and not for the first time, he hoped they remained ignorant. The exploits of his younger days were something of a secret shame to him, and he'd been pestered on occasion when visiting New Life by Dogs-in-training. So full of fire and vigor those whelps, with the illusion of glory still holding place before their eyes, like a veil.

Before his thoughts could continue further down that unpleasant path, the pack arrived at their destination. Otto now turned his icy gaze around the sorry place, new, and yet so familiar. So many of these little places dotted the territory, and they all spoke to him of hard lives and broken dreams. Yet at the same time, it heartened him, knowing that people could live their existence here and remain in faith. Well, most of them. A practiced eye noticed the looks of resentment, of fear, and sometimes both written on the faces of some of the townsfolk. There would be work today, likely bloody work, judging by some of the glares the Dogs were receiving.

Otto almost ran the Sheriff over, so focused was he on reading the faces of the other inhabitants. Fortunately, he managed to stop short and curb his horse before the man. A brief quirk of a brow was all the man's color elicited from The Teuton. He'd seen blacks before, though they seemed a rare breed here. When the Sheriff greeted them, Otto responded with scripture.

"Faith shall be their armor, fury their sword. I shall send them out across the lands of men, to protect the flock, gather the wayward sheep, and slaughter the wolves."

As he spoke, Otto unwrapped the scarf from his head, revealing his face. His short blonde hair was plastered to his forehead, and his cold blue eyes sat above chiseled cheekbones and square jaw. Thin lips, set in a semi-permanent scowl transformed into a kindly smile.

"Chapter 4, verse 16, The Shepard and the Wolves." He followed up. "My name, Herr Thompson, is Otto Zimmerich. We are pleased, as always, to bring the light of The Faith and aid those who request it. These are my companions..."

He stopped, his brow furrowing. With an embarrassed look, he looked back at his pack. They'd only just been assembled, and Otto had yet to warm up enough to really talk to any of them. That and he was terrible with names. Many times over the years he'd tried to rectify that, but as always, his mind remained blank as he searched for the right names. Instead of embarrassing himself further, he nodded to the other Dogs, before glancing back at Sheriff Thompson.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Horatio Morale Character Portrait: Otto Zimmerich Character Portrait: Augustus Sharpe Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Anna tugged down the brim of her hat, in a vain attempt to shield her eyes from the burning sun. The heat she was used to, having grown up in this land, her skin tanned and her hair bleached to show it. But bright light of the sun has never ceased to be blinding when it was at its height. She peered out into the distance as best she could see, but fortunately there was no sign of trouble.

Absently humming a hymn, Anna looked over her companions. Horatio she knew well, the old Dog and friend of her father's, practically family. She glad he was leading the pack, trusting his experience and demeanour. The other two men she didn't know, the German and the man with an old calvary saber. Together they made a curious assortment, Anna noted to herself, but she was confident that they would handle whatever plagued the town of Red Road. She had been somewhat surprised to find herself the junior among the pack, but ultimately that meant they all had extensive experience to bring together.

Finally, they rode into the small town. At first glance, it seemed like any other dreary settlement Anna had rode through over the years. But she knew it was rarely so simple. They had been called here for a reason and she could see in the wary stares of the townsfolk that some of them feared the judgement that was to come. There was always tension, at first, when the wicked were flushed out into the open. But her faith and her resolve had not failed her yet in bringing order and justice to countless towns such as Red Road.

"Anna Ward." She tipped the brim of her hat politely as she eyed the sheriff. And with the base pleasantries performed, she promptly asked, "What happened to your predecessor?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Horatio Morale Character Portrait: Otto Zimmerich Character Portrait: Augustus Sharpe Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Horatio led his horse into town, tipping his hat low to protect his face from the blistering sun. Beside him, his faithful hound Knight trotted along, keeping up with the slow gait of the horses quite comfortably. As they walked toward their destination, Horatio took a moment to look over his Pack, evaluating them as best as he could.

The only person in the Pack he knew well was Anna; sweet, darling little Anna, all grown up. Horatio had been friends with her father; in fact, the two had been in a Pack together, in their youth. And thus, when his friend retired and started his own family, Horatio came to know Anna. She had been a feisty and daring little girl, and overall had been quite a joy to know. He'd taught her a great deal about being a Dog during her childhood; and seeing her now, as a full grown woman with eight years of being a Watchdog under her belt....it certainly proved to him that personally training her had been worth it. He was proud to see her as a full-fledged Dog, and considered it an honor to be in a Pack with her. It would be a pleasure to get to know her again, as an adult.

The other two, he did not know so well. Otto the German, he knew vaguely...in fact, the man had made an impression on him, some years ago. Horatio wasn't sure if William remembered him, but he certainly did. William had been apart of the Pack of Dogs that had rescued Horatio from certain death, the night after Chester Marston and his vile, depraved group of bandits had tortured and destroyed his family. Horatio himself had been left for dead, and would have died, in fact, if not for sheer luck. And for that, Horatio was quite thankful. Otto had helped to save his life, and more importantly, given him the opportunity for revenge. Horatio would never forget that. Even if he didn't quite want to make...friends, with him, he would always respect the German and consider him a good comrade, at the very least.

As for Augustus Sharpe, the man was a complete unknown quantity. Horatio had never served with him before, and had never really heard of his fellow Dog before. Which wasn't too surprising, given that there were a couple hundred Dogs out here in the West, altogether. And the Academy churned out more and more every year.

And those were the three people he was saddled with in the Pack; not-so-little anymore Anna, the unknown quantity of Augustus Sharpe, and his personal savior Otto. Quite an interesting Pack to have, to say the least. Horatio hoped he'd serve them well as their Pack Leader, and that they'd become a well-oiled and coordinated machine in the future.

There was supposed to be a fourth member of the pack, but Horatio had been told that he'd been delayed. If possible, the last member of their Pack would join them later on in Red Road.

His observations done, Horatio noticed that they were coming into town now. He looked around the quaint little town of Red Road, unimpressed with the sight that greeted him. It was like most little frontier towns in these parts; unimportant, insignificant, and liable to die off within the next few decades, as advancing railroads made little way-stations like this redundant.

Still, the folks here, Faithful or not, that tried to etch out a living in these little specks often deserved some amount of grudging respect. They either wouldn't or couldn't live a more easier life in a bigger, more important and thriving city in the West, and even with their limited supplies and options, these people tended to do moderately well. The men and women that decided to make a meager living in these types of towns truly lived a hard life. Even if Horatio didn't like towns like Red Road, these shanty quasi-villages and the folk that inhabited them earned some small amount of admiration and respect from him.

They reached the center of town soon enough, and by then, they had attracted a fairly large crowd. For the most part he ignored the people and their reactions; though he did briefly glance over them, and dismissed them when he found no familiar faces. He kept a stone-faced expression, a light scowl on his face; it was foolish to think he might find Marston in a town like Red Road, of course, but that never stopped him from trying and hoping. One day, he'd finally find that son of a bitch...

A young colored man stepped out of the crowd, and addressed the Dogs as a whole. Horatio was content to let Otto speak up first, wanting to see in person how his Pack acted. Usually the Pack Leader opened up dialogue with the town authorities, but Horatio wasn't a real hard-ass about protocol. Far as he was concerned, the first Dog that managed to speak up could start up talks.

"Name's Horatio Morale." the older Dog gruffly greeted, once everyone had introduced themselves, and said nothing else. Anna's pointed question was more than adequate, here.

"Pleased to meet you all," the newly appointed Sheriff kindly greeted, before grimacing, shaking his head slightly. "That's....a grim story to tell, Ma'am. Sheriff Cobbs was murdered three days ago; his throat was slit in the middle of the night, while he was working at his office. But...if you can believe it, ma'am, that's honestly the least of our troubles. I'd be more than happy to tell you fine folk more of our troubles in Sheriff Cobbs'....er, my office now, I guess."

Sheriff Thomspon walked through the gathered crowd, and the Dogs soon followed him. He led them over to the edge of town, where the Sheriff's office and town jail was located. The Dogs hitched their horses outside, and followed him in. Thompson walked into the small building, and led them over to a simple wooden desk that consisted of the Sheriff's office; on the walls around the room, wanted posters were hung on the wall, displaying the description and bounties of local outlaws. A door to the left of the office led further into the building; beyond that door was the town jail, where local criminals were kept.

Thompson sat down behind the desk, and motioned for the Dogs to take up some nearby chairs that littered the sparse room.

"Sorry that my accommodations aren't more...welcoming. I knew you folks were coming, after Sheriff Cobbs sent a telegraph to New Life, but I haven't exactly had the time to...clean up." Thompson sincerely apologized, grimacing again. The new Sheriff leaned back into his chair and looked up thoughtfully, fiddling a little with the badge on his chest.

"I swear, this town has gone to hell in a hand-basket in the last two months. That's when all our troubles started; two months ago. Two months back a ranch outside of Red Road was hit pretty bad. All the men and women were slaughtered, and the children were taken God knows where. The Sheriff led a band of men to investigate, and he concluded that it must have been some sort of bandit attack. He tried to track down them down, but didn't find a single trace of 'em. It was a terrible tragedy, sure, but we thought it was the end of that.

"We were wrong. Two weeks later, another ranch got hit; same situation there. Men and women killed like animals, the children dragged off to the unknown. Then another two weeks later, the same thing happened down at the Peterson Ranch. Two weeks after that, the Jones family got hit at their Ranch. Almost all of the local ranches nearest Red Road have been hit by...God knows what. Sheriff Cobbs started to think that the local tribe of Natives was causing all the trouble, so he decided to call out for some help; that's where you folks come in, I suppose.

"The latest ranch attack was over with Jacob Daniels and his family, six days ago; same thing happened with them, but we got a survivor there. Their youngest son, Jeremiah, was apparently left their by the Natives, or bandits, or whoever. Sheriff Cobbs was trying to see if he could get anything out of him about the attack, but poor little Jeremiah is pretty traumatized, and, well...he was born blind, so it's been difficult to get much out of him.

"That isn't the end of our troubles, there. About five weeks ago, people traveling through the Red Road Trail have been getting ambushed by Natives; or they say it's Natives, at least. I'm not so sure. At any rate, a lot of good people are getting killed and looted over at the Trail, which has put a mighty fear on travelers. That's the other reason the Sheriff sent out for help; to get some support with that situation. Whether or not the Natives are behind the attacks at the ranches and at the Trail, we'll need a sizable gang to help root that out.

"And then there is Red Road's final problem. Like I said, three days ago, Sheriff Cobbs was murdered here, in this office. His throat was cut and he bled out to death. It was a horrible sight. I arrested a local by the name of Nathaniel Blake for the murder; he and the Sheriff have always been at odds. Apparently their fathers hated each other, or something, and they've continued that tradition. Nate's the most likely suspect, but honestly....I don't think he did it. Nate's not a murderer. He may have hated Cobbs, but he'd never really kill the Sheriff. I just locked him up for the well-being of the Town, to calm everyone down. I honestly don't know who would want to murder Sheriff Coobs; Nate's the only one that comes to mind, and like I said, I honestly don't think he did it."

Sheriff Thompson finished his little tirade, and gave a sigh. "Well, as you fine folk can see, Red Road has got a lot of problems these days. Do you have any questions about what's going on? I'd be happy to tell you whatever I know, if it helps us end this blasted nightmare."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Horatio Morale Character Portrait: Otto Zimmerich Character Portrait: Augustus Sharpe Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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An askew Stetson barely prevented the glare of the sun from glaring in Augustus Sharpe's face, but he did not care. He was riding with three fellow Dogs across the barren desert they called the frontier. Sand and dust and rock all around, barely any life apart from the warriors of God. And the occasional cactus. The sand and the sun were getting in Augustus's face; he liked the pain, the discomfort. Pain was a constant companion, so why not extend the party to the elements? It seemed fitting, poetically. And Augustus did enjoy such intricate symmetries.

The old battered pipe in his mouth was lit, as per usual. He was inhaling the tobacco, appreciating and savouring the heavy smoke as it filled his lungs. It never seemed to leave his mouth, this pipe. The smoke seemed to cascade over his head and shoulders, yet his face was still visible. The pipe hung at the corner of his mouth, and Augustus seemed to be chewing it slightly as he smoked. He knew it was unusual for those of the Faith to smoke, frowned upon. But it was merely one of the ways in which Augustus was an unorthodox man of the church.

He had one hand on the reigns of his black steed Bucephalus and another rested on the hilt of his sabre. Sometimes he liked to imagine the history around him; the briquet which had seen action under Bonaparte in Egypt, the horse named after Alexander's steed. Sometimes he imagined himself in those scenarios; a cavalryman in Egypt, or one of Alexander's soldiers conquering the known world. Such romantic fancies were what flickered through his head occasionally. No wonder he was rather silent, all these ridiculous imaginings in his mind! Nonetheless, he was never distracted. He was aware, constantly.

Right now, Augustus was aware he was with three unknowns. Two men and a woman. He had heard of Horatio Morale; old dogs appealed to the romantic in him. Morale's exploits were rather famous. Perhaps one day he'd be as famous and well worn as that. Yet hopefully there would be less tragedy to come in his life, for the old man's eyes were full of tragedy; Augustus had had enough for a lifetime.

Otto, the German, around Augustus's age. Augustus wondered what it would be like to see him in action; one rarely got to meet people from outside the country in these parts. Most people here were natives, either literally or as settlers. He just hoped the German wouldn't attract unwanted attention. Not everyone around here was broad minded. He'd witnessed horrific acts of discrimination many a time.

Anna, the youngest of the group. And a woman. Augustus always felt slightly odd when seeing female Dogs. Not that he underestimated the power of women; he'd had his fair share of femme fatales in his life. But he was slightly old fashioned, and saw women as those more in need of protection than those who should be doing the protecting. Still, these were ideas he disliked in himself, and he tried to see past them. Anna was clearly capable.

So these three were the Pack he'd been assigned to to deal with the problems of the town known as Red Road, which they were now approaching. As they entered, the people gathered round. Augustus remained aware in case of any threats, but apart from that didn't particularly bother himself about the townsfolk. They were the same everywhere; some horrified, some mystified, some in awe. He preferred individuals to crowds, and so ignored the people watching them, continued to smoke as the Sheriff spoke to them. He didn't bother introducing himself, just nodded at the man.

The young Sheriff led the Dogs to his office. Making sure Bucephalus was okay and taking one last glance at their surroundings to make sure nothing awry was going on, Augustus entered the dingy law enforcement building. Grand, it was not. But then, grand nowhere was in this part of the world, as he well knew. He listened to the man's report with great interest, none of which was betrayed on his face of course. This sounded like it would be interesting. Also horrifying. But he'd seen a lot, and humanity's depravity was almost boring to him now. Still, his anger got the better of him when he saw injustice dealt to innocents. It seemed he would have to kill the people behind these heinous acts, and that did not bother him at all. Even if they were natives, with whom he was friendly, he would not hesitate. His native friends would just have to accept this as a reality of justice and the frontier.

For the first time, Augustus spoke, looking around at his fellow Dogs. "Seems to me that we should perhaps split up to deal with these problems, assuming they're all separate issues. One of us could talk to this Nate fellow, the other go and interrogate Jeremiah. The other two? How about an ambush? Lure in the bandits on the trail, pretend to be some decent vulnerable folks with some valuables. Then kill them." He glanced at Horatio. "Or capture them, if that's the preferred course of action."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Horatio Morale Character Portrait: Otto Zimmerich Character Portrait: Augustus Sharpe Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Anna gave the townsfolk a final wary look over as she hitched up her horse and entered the sheriff's office along with the other Dogs. She sat back in a seat, listening as the sheriff describe how his town had gone to hell in a matter of weeks. And what a hell it seemed to be, slaughtered ranches, a murder sheriff, raided trails. It was a dark time indeed for the little town.

Her brow furrowed as she considered these problems. Nothing made sense, at least by her own experience. Bandits and Natives she had dealt with before, petty crime and territorial disputes were common enough. But the sheriff's description was far too brutal to be anything similar. The question of missing children was even more mystifying, if not profoundly disturbing. But all Anna could do was briefly pray for their well being before focusing her attention on how to address the matters. The boy that had been found would have been a fortunate lead, if not for his age and blindness. Anna expected he would know little, between his disability and the trauma likely stemming from the attack.

Anna finally spoke, quietly enough to be clear she was addressing only the Dogs beside her. "I doubt these are separate incidents. It's too much violence in too short a time. The question is what is truly happening here. Natives and bandits do not butcher so indiscriminately, not without reason." She paused, looking over to Augustus. "It may be worth splitting up while we investigate the town, but I advise against going out to the ranches and trail alone. Whoever is behind the attacks is organized enough to wipe out the ranches so cleanly, and quite possibly clever enough to murder the sheriff in his own office. We'll need to speak with the townsfolk, in order to see what they know of these problems."

As her father had taught her long ago, in a little town such as Red Road, you could learn nearly all you needed to know from the preacher, the bartender, and the mayor. And Anna was confident none of them could hide their secrets from the Lord's hounds. She then looked back to Thompson. "Tell me more of Sheriff Coobs' murder. When did you find the body? Who was the last person to speak with him that day and when did anyone last see him?"

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Horatio Morale Character Portrait: Otto Zimmerich Character Portrait: Augustus Sharpe Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Otto, like his fellow dog Augustus, had a sword. He brought it with him as they convened in the Sherrif's office. As Thompson spoke of the problems plaguing the town, the German would scrape a whetstone down the edge of a massive zweihander sword. It was a monstrous thing, nearly as tall as Otto himself, and devoid of any ornamentation, save a teutonic cross etched in the blade near the cross guard. Now and again, he would look up, and pause in his maintenance of the blade. Then he would return to it.

The weapon itself was a possession of his father. As child, he would ask the drunkard of its origins. It was when his old man was drunk that the young Otto could even talk to him. The sword, his slurring father would tell him, had been in the family for centuries. It had been give to his grandfather, whose father had given it to him. So on and so forth down the ages. The original owner, the story went, was an ancestor named Kurt Junker, a mercenary of the 16th century. To his father, the sword was a cleaver of pikes, and splitter of men. It had tasted real blood, and dealt death for hundreds of years. Otto believed the sword was likely a more modern recreation of the sword, and that his father's drunken ramblings were mere fairy tails. Nevertheless, the sword was of exceptional quality, and the Teuton had ensured the blade had kept its reputation as a tool of death. It was rarely used, as guns were preferable companions to a gunfight--but in a pinch, Otto could and had maimed and killed many with the relic.

As focused as he was on sharpening the sword, he kept track of the conversation going on around him. For himself, Otto was skeptical about the natives being involved in any attacks. His experience with them had largely been positive. They were prone to attack if they felt threatened or trapped, but otherwise minded their own business. Most of them had learned the harsh lesson of attacking frontier folk. Whether it was through the wrath of the Dogs, the CSA or the USA in other parts of the country, most natives seemed content to stick to their own lands. The possibility remained though, as young tribesmen turn their fiery words into bloodshed. What further turned him from that theory was the brutality and child abduction. The attacks made no sense to him, as he could think of little purpose for taking the children and leaving everything else. To that end, taking the children and not the women was a strange strategy for bandits, who usually did the opposite. There was clearly a purpose behind it, and the German shuddered as he considered the possibility of a religious cult of nefarious intent, stealing sacrifices in the dead of night.

He had hoped they would get to that first, as he cared little for the murder of the Sheriff. Of course it was a tragedy, but he often times figured such work should be left to the territorial authorities. Otto had to remind himself that it was his duty, no matter how unimportant it seemed compared to the other issues at hand. Then Augustus spoke for the first time.

Otto knew nothing of the man, other than his name. The man had the look of a soldier, more than anything else. A bearing, a poise that he imagined a French cuirassier might carry, or that might rest comfortably upon a Roman Centurion. The pipe was a bit of a throw-off though. Fascinated as he was with swords, Otto was looking forward to having the opportunity to question his fellow Dog about the beautiful sabre at his hip. Such questions would have to wait, though the German brightened visibly as Augustus suggested setting an ambush.

...a prospect likely shot down as the woman took her turn to speak. Like Augustus, he knew nothing of Anna, save that she was the youngest of the group. He worried at that, worried that her convictions were still fueled by youthful zealotry. It could affect them all, especially Otto himself. If she hadn't learned already, she would eventually, and it might be a costly lesson. The German remained silent, listening to Anna as she spoke her part. Though he'd rather ride straight into the country side to lay waste to their enemies, he weighed her suggestion and found a logic to it as well.

Once she had finished, Otto set his sword down, and pocketed the whetstone.

"Ultimately, it is up to our commander here." He said, nodding towards Horatio. "For what it's worth, however, I would gladly volunteer to be bait in the ambush."

With a shrug and a small grin, the German leaned back in his chair, putting his hands behind his head. "Then again, that's just the barbarian in me. I am happy either way."

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Horatio hitched his horse outside of the office, before he and his hound Knight walked inside with the others, Knight laying down at the elder Dog's side as he sat across from the Sheriff.

Horatio listened intently as the Sheriff laid out the town's problems, and later to his fellow Dogs, as they speculated on what to do. Horatio himself was more inclined to agree with Anna, even disregarding their past relationship. They could split up and do various things in town, but the idea of them doing that to tackle what was going on over at the trail seemed dangerous. They'd be better off going there together, or at the very least, one or two of them could go investigate over there, but bring along the Sheriff and a posse for backup.

At any rate...this was all so very, very strange. And horrifying. A murdered sheriff, raided trails, and massacred ranches, with the children all taken alive? Horatio could hardly imagine how these three things were related, but they had to be. It was too much of a coincidence, otherwise.

And what was causing this, too? It definitely wasn't the Natives, Horatio was fairly sure of that. He'd had some conflicts with Natives in the past, and this didn't seem like them at all. It felt too...organized, too concise. Native raids had a much more chaotic feel to them.

Couldn't be bandits, either. He could see bandits attacking those ranches, but he couldn't imagine them taking the children. The valuables, certainly, probably the women, too. But the children? What worth did they have to an outlaw?

This was all so very strange...definitely one of the stranger cases of Horatio's career, he had to admit.

Whatever was going on, though, they would end it. Regardless of how he...felt, about the Faith, Horatio still believed in Justice. He still believed in punishing the Wicked, and in protecting the innocents. And if he had a say in things, no more innocent people would die in Red Road. Not under his watch.

As Horatio considered things further and weighed his options, the Sheriff answered some of Anna's questions:

"I found the body around sunrise, Ma'am. I was heading into the office to get ready for the day, and I...found Sheriff Cobbs dead in here. And as far as I'm aware, Ma'am, I was the last person to talk to him and see him. When I left to go home that night, the Sheriff was still here, looking over some papers or something. I bid him goodnight, and, well, that was the last I saw of him...alive, at least."

Horatio took that in, absently reaching down to pet Knight while he came to a decision. Splitting up seemed the best option here, especially when it came to covering more ground. Now, he just had to figure out who would do what....

"Anna," Horatio looked over at the sole female Dog, turning to face her. "I want you to investigate the Sheriff Cobbs murder. I'm not sure how it relates, but I highly doubt it's a mere coincidence that, in the midst of all this turmoil, the Sheriff got killed. He's got to tie into this somehow. Look at those papers Cobbs was looking at the night he got killed, interrogate that Blake fellow, interview his wife, whatever you think will help you figure out what happened. Might not be a bad idea in general to interview some of the townsfolk; some might have some insight into what happened with Cobbs, or what's going on at the trail or with the ranches. If we're lucky, at least. Take the Sheriff with you, too. Might make the townsfolk more comfortable if you're with someone they know."

Her mission given, Horatio turned his attention to Otto and Augustus. "I agree that setting up an ambush for whoever's raiding the trail is a good idea, but let's save that for later. We'll all be needed for that, plus the Sheriff and whatever posse he can get together. For now...Otto, I want you to head out with me over to the Daniels Ranch, see what we can find over there. It's the latest one that got attacked, maybe we can find something left behind by the bandits or whoever, that can point us in their direction."

With that said, Horatio turned to look at the last of the Pack. "Augustus, I want you to try and interview the boy, Jeremiah. Heaven knows what he'll actually be able to tell us, but it wouldn't hurt to try. After that, we need someone to go over to the local Native encampment. See if they're actually responsible for all this. And if not, maybe they can help us find out who is. So try to track down the Natives if you can, and see what they're up to."

Horatio knew it might be dangerous to send in Augustus alone to confront the Natives, but Horatio highly doubted they were responsible. This didn't have their calling card at all, and stealing children wasn't really their thing. Besides, he was sure Augustus could handle himself. The Natives had long since learned that it was...unwise, to mess with a Dog, even if he was alone.

Just as he was about to ask the Sheriff where Jeremiah was, and if he had an idea where the local Natives were encamped, the man spoke up.

"Jeremiah's staying over with Archdeon Joshua, at the Church." Sheriff Thompson helpfully supplied. "And we have a...vague idea, where the local Natives are camped out. Sheriff Cobbs scouted out their locations some time back, and marked them on a map in the office, so he'd know where they were in case we ever had to go after them."

With all that settled, Horatio rose to his feet, Knight getting up as well a moment later. "Any questions? If not, then go do your damn jobs."

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Anna nodded to Horatio as he gave out his instructions. When the Dogs were ready to file out, she moved to rest her hand on Horatio's arm for a brief moment. "Be careful, Uncle. I am certain this is more than simple bandits or Natives." She smiled faintly at him, as warm an expression as she was ever likely to give. She then nodded to her fellow Dogs. "Godspeed and good luck."

She remained in the office as the rest of the Dogs went out to their assigned tasks, looking over to Thompson. "Sheriff, if you could show me Sheriff Cobbs' papers. Letters, journals, anything he's written recently."

Slowly strolling around the office, Anna carefully examined every detail. She had a feeling that he was involved, if not complicit in the troubles plaguing the town. And yet, he had sent out the call for help. Perhaps that was what led to his death. "What was Sheriff Cobbs like? What sort of man was he?" She asked Thompson as she continued to search through the office.

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Otto grinned, and slung his zweihander across his back as he rose to his feet. This was the job he wanted, and he silently mouthed a prayer. The business with the Sheriff's murder was a sordid business, and the German preferred to prosecute and promptly decimate without the need to prove guilt. Long years of investigating made him clever, but tired. The number of men and women he'd executed for murder were uncountable for him at this point, and he'd made mistakes. Those mistakes had grown heavy over the years, and truth be told, he would avoid towns like this all together if he could. Each one was a new Drywell.

A younger Otto would have walked into the town and judgement would have been swift following on his heels. Now, he merely regarded these places with weary resignation, and the knowledge that he couldn't pass through without leaving a mother, or father, or brother, or sister dead in his wake. So being offered the opportunity to go with Horatio and fight those who needed no judgement, and whose death would not stain his conscience was a boon he readily accepted.

Both men left the other two Dogs to their duties, and saddled up. Before mounting, Otto kissed the plate helmet strapped to the saddle. Unlike the sword, it was modern, commissioned at the start of his career. Back then, as a young man, he liked to imagine himself a Teutonic Knight of the modern day. And for all intents, he had been. That had faded, though he still kept the helm, as well as the coat of mail that accompanied it. The tales of Germanic adventure his drunk father had regaled him with still lurked in his memories, and sometimes--just sometimes--he could still see himself as the knight. Perhaps today was one of those days.

Once both men were mounted, they set out of town at a leisurely pace, Horatio in the lead. Otto vaguely recalled him. They had never known each other informally, but Otto could still see the leftovers of a man who should have been dead. What he had gone through was something even Otto's guilt-riddled mind couldn't comprehend--nor would he want to. From what he'd heard before being assigned to this pack, was that Horatio wasn't always as cold and hard-edged as he was now. The German couldn't see it. Then again, he couldn't imagine Horatio or himself as a young man. Too many years, too many corpses. Too much blood.

After a while, he spoke up. The town was receding into the distance, and the silence was becoming uncomfortable for him. These days he sought to know his fellow Dogs. It helped take his mind off of the blood his could sometimes physically see on his hands.

"How are you these days Ho--err, Herr commandant?" It was asked in almost timid fashion, ridiculous given Otto's brutish appearance and very real lack of fear. Yet he feared their commander. It was like a man on the edge looking at what might be.