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Charles Carver

"Wise man once told me, 'If I save but one soul, then all my suffering has been justified.'"

0 · 1,016 views · located in Dogs in God's Vineyard

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

Description

Charles Carver

Image


Age: 44
Gender:Male
Ethnicity/Race: White
Level of Faith: Mostly Faithful. Charles, despite his recent conversion to the Faith, is too practical and world-weary to have the blind idealism of someone recently saved by God and Prophet. He’s more concerned about getting out and helping people than finer details of spreading the Word of the Prophet. His interest is less in salvation and prophets and more in the message of helping others.
Years of Service: At around a year of service, Charles is still considered a Pup, much to his chagrin given his age and experience. Despite his experience in the saddle, the fight, and the world, he’s still fairly new to the Faith.
Weapons/Equipment:Charles keeps a spare revolver in his saddle and on his belt is an expertly crafted cavalry saber that he’s kept from his days in the Confederate army. A pair of knives are usually hidden in his coat and the saddlebags of his steed hold the usual array of supplies needed for the road.

Personality

Charles seems a stark contrast to any dour and duty-minded Dog, with an rakish grin that tends to make young women blush and old fathers scowl. He’s spent a good amount of his life indulging in assorted vices, and while he’s mellowed somewhat with age and education in the Faith, he has yet to give up whiskey and tobacco in the claim that the Lord will tolerate his followers taking some pleasure in the life they were given. He’s still prone to a temper, though nowadays its more likely to be in the defense of someone else rather than any slight to himself. His faith is a simple desire to help others, in hope that he might also find some manner of peace for himself after all of the conflict he has witnessed. Despite his easygoing exterior, the troubles of his past are still a vivid memory that continues to burden him.

History

The third son of a rich merchant in Richmond, Charles had little expectation of ever making an honest day’s work, much less any genuine struggle. However, his idle life of drinking, gambling, and other gentlemanly pursuits was interrupted by the outbreak of the War Between the States. With a sharp wit and sharper temper, Charles felt that war would be little different from the occasional drunken brawl. And as a son of Virginia, Charles enlisted to protect his homeland and embark on a grand adventure. Fortunately, his father was able to secure officer commissions for his sons even while his trade business floundered against the Union blockade. And fortunately for Charles, previous experience in riding and practicing with a sword gave him the slightest advantage necessary to survive in the battlefield. Alas, his brothers were not so fortunate and Charles quickly learned that war was not grand in any way.

Charles found himself back in a home celebrating a grand victory over the Union and expressing the triumph of Southern values, yet he was unable to enjoy the vanities and distractions he had loved as a reckless youth. Despite only a few years passing since he left home, he felt he had aged immensely. While everyone said that the Confederacy had secured its vital independance, he felt that his brothers and countless others had died for little. Unable to relate to his family or fellows in Richmond society, he fled west.

Work was easily found along the railroads gradually reaching towards the west and the railroad companies had every need for a man comfortable in the saddle and in violence. Charles worked as a bruiser for the railroad for several years, fending off Native raids and keeping unruly workers in line, his pay being tossed away on alcohol and women as soon as he’d received it. Eventually, he noticed a missionary preaching in the railroad camp, despised by nearly all for representing the Faith rather than the old denominations. The aging missionary had been beaten on more than one occasion, but he still continued to preach.

After one more beating that Charles happened intercede in, he and the old preacher spoke at length, and Charles learned of the Faithian lands to the west. The preacher promised him some manner of peace if he headed west to seek out a new life in the Faith. Impressed by the missionary’s willingness to suffer for his beliefs, he decided to follow that advice.

During his journey to the Faithian territory, he happened upon the ranch of a retired Dog, who was kind enough to offer him shelter and food for the night. During their conversations, Charles learned of the Watchdogs, and the notion that his violent skills might be able to be used to do the good work of the Lord. Heartened by this knowledge, he went to New Life to join the Dogs. Although he has struggled at times to rein in his vices, cynicism, and occasional lackadaisical attitude, his experience, straightforward honesty, and simple desire to help showed his promise as a Dog.

Goals

Charles has lived day by day, with little regard for planning the future, for his entire life, either out of a carefree disregard or a lack of knowledge as to whether or not he’d live to see the next day. Serving as a Dog has given him a clearer focus on where his life is going, even if it is only a simple task of continuing to do good work in the service of his fellow man. However, old habits still remain and he’s yet to consider any future further than his current service.

Likes

  • Women
  • Whiskey
  • Tobacco
  • Horses
  • Cards

Dislikes

  • Politicians
  • Rich folk
  • Natives
  • Cannons
  • Mud

So begins...

Charles Carver's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"Reckon she was right to be paranoid, eh?" Charles started to grin before he composed herself, lowering his head briefly in respect. "Lord bless her poor soul. But Lord willing, she might've left that for someone else to find. Like us, yeah? Dog code, after all. Awfully helpful, that." He was certainly thankful Sonia was familiar with it, ciphers being the farthest from his intellectual pursuits.

"Might be wise to take a hint from her, stick together." He said with a final look over the hotel room before heading for the door. "Plenty of time tonight to decode that, I reckon. Best we keep both sets of eyes on the next room, given that." He pointed to the book in Sonia's hands. "Maybe if we're really lucky, our other comrade left us a clue as well." He stepped out into the hall and reached for the door of the next room, other hand resting on his pistol, just in case. Eliza Ford had been right to be paranoid, after all.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Sonia nodded, following Charles out of the room. The door opened up for them easily, however, they ended up walking in on someone. Sonia's hand instinctively reached for her gun, but she calmed down once she realized it was just someone from house keeping. It was an older woman, clearly dressed as one of the staff, who looked rather startled as they barged in on her.

"Oh, terribly sorry! I was just doing a bit of tidying up, per the manager's orders. I didn't realize someone had rented the room out already," she declared, giving them a brief nod.

It made enough sense, she supposed, and Sonia was ready enough to accept that explanation. Before she dismissed the woman, or sought to question her, though...something came to her mind. She frowned, taking another look at the woman. Hadn't the hotel clerk said that the rooms had been sealed off to staff once word had been sent of their impending arrival?

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"We would like to speak with the boy." Anna said, then adding more quickly. "Rest assured we will not tax him unduly" She eyed the doctor intently, trying to gauge if his nervousness was reasonable deference to her and Margaret, or trying to conceal something more sinister. Unfortunately, medicine was far from her expertise, to tell how much pain one would be in to need such strong medicines weeks after the injury. Her father certainly still carried a limp from his decades-old injury, and the boy seemed to have been through far worse. But nonetheless, it was another complication upon complications, and that suspicion gnawed at Anna.

She glanced briefly to Margaret, seeing the same concerns in her eyes, before returning her attention to the doctor. "The preacher told us of the boy's bravery. We would like to thank him for it and pay our respects. I imagine he's not met a Watchdog of the Lord before, yes?" She asked with a tilt of her head. If the missing Dogs had been here as well... She eyed the doctor all the more intently, watching every hint of his reaction to the leading question.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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“Actually, this wouldn’t be the first time. Those two Dogs that went missing came by to pay their respects. I wasn’t on duty at the time, but my nurses told me of their visit,” Doctor Walker proclaimed, shrugging slightly. “I couldn’t tell you what they said or asked of him, but it was a short visit by all indications.”

Well now, that was interesting. So Meyer and Ford had been by to see the boy. It was a good clue, though Margaret herself wasn’t entirely sure what else they might be able to get from here. After all, Richard’s mental state would no doubt by hampered by the opium. Still, it was worth a try.

She nodded at the Doctor a moment later, and after exchanging a look with Anna, went to open the door. It creaked open, revealing a somewhat frail looking figure covered up with blankets, on a bed. What they could see of his body largely seemed to be covered up with bandages: and what was visible had noticeable burn marks. Richard seemed to be awake though, and after a moment he turned his head to look at them, his eyes carrying a rather vacant and glassy stare.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Charles tensed alongside Sonia at the first flicker of movement inside the room. Reasons for paranoia indeed. He mused silently, relaxing as he saw it was only a maidservant, though his hand still rested calmly on his belt, fingers brushing idly across his holster as he eyed the woman.

He glanced to Sonia out of the corner of his eye, noting the lingering tension still with her. "Beggin' your pardon, ma'am, but we are investigating a matter related to the Lord's Watchdogs who were stayin' here not long ago. You wouldn't have happened to see anything while you were cleaning, would you?" His gaze flicked back to Sonia, suddenly quite thankful that a woman had been paired along with him for this part of the search, if only for the sake of decorum. "Reckon it would be wise if my comrade here searched you. To assuage our worries, m'sure you've got nothing to fear."

He flashed a calm smile to the maid as he stepped into the room, watching her cautiously for that initial moment. "I'll give you two a moment while I check the water closet, yeah?" He asked, looking to Sonia for confirmation, content to turn his back to the woman only once she'd stepped up to see to her.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Sonia nodded at Charles, glancing at the maid as she stepped over to her. As he checked out the water closet, Sonia smiled at her apologetically, and started patting her down, making sure she had no weapons on her first. "Sorry about this, but we have to be careful, you see. What was your name again, Miss--?"

Sonia had a sudden flash of insight, a split-second, guttural feeling that something was wrong. It was all the warning she got, but it was enough to help her suddenly jump backwards, as the maid swiped at her with a previously hidden knife. A knife that would have sliced open her belly, if her instincts hadn't warned her.

Her eyes widened, and Sonia fumbled to pull out her gun, but the maid was already rushing at her, knocking her off balance with surprising strength, as she bolted towards the door in order to escape!

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Anna only feigned a calm smile to the doctor at his admission of the other Dogs' prior visit. Bit by bit, the trail was becoming clearer. Their comrades had thought the boy was of interest, the question was if they'd gleaned anything of use from his addled state.

She grimaced faintly at what she could see of the boy's injuries, the extensive bandaging both hiding and showing how grievous it was. Perhaps it was not some manner of deception, to keep the boy addled by opium for such a length of time, she mused as she examined his body. Anna had seen grave injuries before, to be sure, men and women crippled in the line of duty. Her own father for one, slow and limping, but at least he had not had his whole life ahead of him when he had been near-crippled.

"Hello, Richard. My name is Anna. This is Margaret. We are Watchdogs of the Lord." Anna said quietly, trying to feign another smile to reassured the boy. She glanced up quietly towards the door, wary of the doctor eavesdropping. "I need to ask you something very important, do you understand? I need you to tell me what happened when the other Dogs, Meyer and Ford, came to see you."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Richard continued to stare at them vacantly, perhaps not registering what Anna had said. Before she could repeat her question though, Richard spoke up, his voice rather strained and hoarse. "...The other...Dogs. I...remember them. It was...the woman that spoke to me mostly. But...it's hard to remember...what she asked me..."

He trailed off, looking vaguely frustrated. Margaret wasn't too surprised: even if the opium helped dull his pain, it also no doubt helped to dull his mind. Getting concrete answers out of Richard might be harder than they'd anticipated. Still, it was their duty to see this through to the end.

"This might be hard, but we need you to remember, Richard. Can you do that for us?" she asked softly.

He nodded after a moment. "I...think I can try. They...yes...I think...she asked me about...the night of the...fire..."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Charles was about to give his full attention to a necessarily protracted search of the water closet when he heard the sudden scrape of feet across the floor and the barest hint of an all too familiar sound of metal slicing through the air. He hurriedly stepped back out into the room to see Sonia stumbling back with her hand reaching for the gun, while the maid fled for the door, a glint of light across the knife bringing attention to what had happened.

His hand swept back for his revolver in one swift movement as the maid was nearing the doorway. There was no time to shout a warning, no time to risk losing her in a hotel she knew far better than he and Sonia. The blade in her hand was proof enough of her intent, and her guilt. He stamped down on the split second of reluctance as his pistol flicked out from the holster with familiar instinct.

God forgive me. The thought crossed his mind in another half instant, with no time left to aim precisely as his pistol was raised up at the maid, and he fired a single shot at her back.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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The shot hit its mark, and with a strangled cry the maid collapsed to the floor outside the room, landing on her back. It was hard to tell where he’d hit her, but she was still alive for the moment, gasping and groaning in pain as the floor beneath her was soaked with her blood, a crimson ring starting to spread from beneath her fallen body.

“Shit...” Sonia murmured to herself, giving a grimace. She withdrew her gun, though at this point she doubted she’d need it.

She turned her attention to Charles, giving him a thankful nod. “Come on, we’d best question her while we can. There’s no telling if she’ll survive her wound.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Anna pursed her lips tightly as she eyed the boy's drugged state. "Breathe, Richard, just breathe, and focus." She drew in a tight breath of her own, reining in her impatience. Reaching down, she squeezed lightly at his hand as she stared down at him. "What did you tell the other Dog?"

Her gaze flicked back to the doorway they'd came through, watching for the doctor, listening for any sign that he might be lurking nearby. It would be so easy for him to burst in and interrupt the boy, if he was a part of any plot to obscure the truth... The unknowns nagged insistently at her thoughts, risking a treacherous path of paranoia. She had a God-given authority to compel the truth by any means necessary, but such drastic action could not be taken on vague suspicion. She looked back to the boy, biting worriedly at the edge of her lip. "I know this is hard, Richard, but this is of great importance. You will do the Church a great service in aiding us. The Lord smiled on you for your bravery and I am sure he will once more on this day."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Richard remained silent for a long moment, before slowly opening his mouth to speak. "I don't remember...much of that night. It's all a...hazy blur. But...I remember trying to find...her. I tried to find Melissa Watson, I truly did. But I couldn't. She was...already gone when I went inside. At least...I think she was. All I found were the bodies of her brother and parents. They...were already dead by that point. I tried looking for...Melissa elsewhere....but...I never found her. By the time the smoke forced me out...a piece of timber fell on me. After that I....well, I don't...remember much else. That's...what I told the other Dogs."

Margaret felt her heart start to quicken, as she took in what Richard said. She shared a glance with Anna, silently pondering just what that had meant. The Sheriff had already mentioned that they hadn't found the Watson girl...this Melissa. Still...the rest of her family had already been dead when Richard had gone into the house? Could they have died of smoke inhalation that quickly? It was highly unlikely they'd burned to death that first, most people died of the smoke before the fire ever got to them.

Considering the fire had been limited to just the block of the Watson residence...it can't have taken too long for the fire brigade to show up, and put out the flames. Not to mention, no one outside the Watson family had died...

Strange. This mission was getting curiouser and curiouser by the moment.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Charles had the decency not to swear, if only because the habit had been thoroughly scolded from by his Dog elders. With the briefest of glances to Sonia and the revolver in her hand, he quickly holstered his own and hurried to the other woman's side. Kneeling down on the floor, he reached to grasp at her hand, as much to pin the arm that had been trying to swing a blade into Sonia as to comfort the woman he'd shot. Part of him wanted to shout to fetch a doctor, but the pooling blood on the floor was sign enough of the inevitable.

He spoke with a quiet intensity, without hesitation. He had watched far, far too many men die before him, some by his his hand, some not. Women, more rarely, but regardless it was these moments where he did not share the same grizzled judgement of his comrades. "Do you believe in the Lord, our God, who's grace is eternal and who's power is beyond measure? Do you believe in his love and judgement?" He said hurriedly, as he squeezed tighter at her hand and stared into her eyes. "Confess and go before him with your soul laid bare of your sins."

In the end, every man and woman was a sinner, and every sinner was equal as they were about to face the Lord. Charles knew that more than he wanted to admit, at times. He let out a tight breath through gritted teeth as he watched the woman's life bleed out. "Confess and I will beseech the Lord to forgive you of your sins. Tell us what happened here. What happened to the Dogs?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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The dying woman paused...and spit out her blood-stained saliva onto Charles' face. She grimaced in pain, but nonetheless tried to speak. "Fuck you and fuck your god. The False Prophet and the False Lord are nothing compared to He Who Walks the Desert Night. I work in the name of the True God and his Herald!"

She paused, breaking out into a wet coughing fit, trickles of blood pouring out from her open mouth. She took in a shaky breath, and with one final act of defiance she declared, "The missing Dogs are...dead. And so...will you be too."

With that, she let out a strangled gasp, and became all too still: her hand growing limp in Charles' grasp.

A long moment of silence passed. When she finally found her voice, a noticeably pale Sonia bent down to put a hand on Charles' shoulder.

"Well. Shit. I think this just got a lot more complicated. If what she said means what I think it means...this could be really, really bad Charles."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Charles flinched reflexively at the splatter of blood across his face, but he didn't lash out, simply staring down hard at the woman and her spite, until the last light faded from her eyes.

He sighed heavily as he felt her go still, brows furrowed with intent thought. An ominous invocation indeed... not that it made a lick of sense to him. Nonetheless, he released her hand, and reached up to gently close her eyes. "Go to your judgment in peace." He murmured, eyeing the body for a lingering moment. Then he stood quiet a slow breath out, wiping the dripping blood from his beard.

"Dying folk don't tend to lie." He'd seen that more than enough. Begging, crying, spite on rarer occasions such as these... If she believed the missing Dogs were dead, they most likely were. "We know there's something here, for sure now. Just need to find the trail. Could show the hotel owner this to start, that should make him chatty." He paused with a look to Sonia, eyeing her shaken expression. "What d'you reckon?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"...I think we just opened up a can of worms that we weren't ready for," Sonia replied, scowling slightly as she glared down at the woman's corpse. "Maybe I'm wrong...hell, I'm hoping I'm wrong...but the phrases she used had meaning, Charles. He Who Walks The Desert Night...that's a term I haven't heard in awhile."

She paused, looking around briefly to make sure no one else was nearby. So far no one had shown up to investigate the sound of the gunshot, but undoubtedly someone would, and soon. "We don't have much time, so I'll make this quick. Have you ever heard of the Black Deseret? It's a heretical group, a bastard offshoot of the Prophet's teachings. They sprung up maybe a decade ago, or thereabouts. Long story short, they're a dangerous cult. And we might have just walked right into a whole nest of 'em."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Could the Watsons have been murdered? Could Melissa Watson have been kidnapped? If someone had come into the house, fifteen minutes was more than enough time to abscond into the night. But fleeing the city itself without notice would have been far more difficult, surely.

The thought gnawed at Anna. The boy had found the bodies of most of the family, already dead, but the smoke had clearly not be so thick as to kill him so swiftly. No one else had perished in the fire. The girl's body hadn't been found. There was enough, to be sure, more than enough to catch a Dog's attention. Even perhaps to pull them away, if only intentionally briefly, from a prior assignment. Just enough for them to stumble onto a genuine conspiracy, for what else could have left them missing, likely dead?

But why Melissa Watson?

Anna stifled a sigh as the boy rambled further. Whispers in the flames indeed. But she would be thankful enough that the boy was as lucid as he was, with what the doctor had given him for his pain. "Thank you, Richard. You've been very brave. I will pray for your swift recovery." She said with another feigned smile, stepping back with a nod and turning away, not letting him see the worried grimaced that she looked to Margaret with.

"We are still missing a piece." She muttered to Margaret. "Someone must have seen the girl. Our comrades must have found some better trail to follow."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Margaret cast one last look at Richard, a thoughtful look on her face, before leaving the room with Anna. She nodded as her friend spoke, agreeing with her on that much. "Indeed. I think at this point, we ought to regroup and disseminate what we've learned. I believe we all agreed to meet back at the Sheriff's office...waiting for them there, if they aren't already waiting for us, seems like our best option."

At the same time, she couldn't help but ruminate on her own thoughts. Some sort of conspiracy was afoot here, that much was clear. But to what degree? Whispers in the flame...the mere notion sent shivers down her spine. She'd seen the destructive force of the Flame firsthand, not too long ago...when her last team had perished. Margaret still wasn't sure what to make of what she'd seen and heard that awful night...but it seemed this case might force her to reconsider those memories sooner than she'd like.

They left the hospital soon after, beginning the tedious walk back to the sheriff's office. Along the way, Margaret decided to speak up. "Things are getting stranger and stranger here, are they not?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Charles grimaced deeply. He had heard a lot of tall tales in his life, but rarely from the dying, and rarer still from veteran Dogs. He only shook his head, his hand resting calmly on the hilt of his revolver as he stepped to the door, peering quickly out and down the hallway. "Ain't that ill tidings." He muttered, mostly to himself.

Cults and heretics he could understand, at least in theory. He'd seen murderous madmen invoke the Devil once or twice, not that such a thing struck him as able to make two other Dogs disappear from the streets without a trace. The look in Sonia's eyes was worrying, but there was little to do but press on. "Reckon we should hurry after the proprietor? He'll surely be bolting if he heard that gunshot and knows more than he let on 'fore."

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"I'm not certain. I don't want to run headlong into any traps. After all, if these cultists managed to subdue, even kill two Dogs...they must have numbers on their side. And if there are more of them in this hotel aside from that maid, well...perhaps we'd best leave while we can, and regroup with the others. They need to know what's happened...and besides that, we'll have better chances coming back to this hotel in full force, maybe even with the police at our side. The proprietor might be gone by then, but it's a risk we'll have to take," Sonia advised after a moment.

It was risky, chancing that a lead like that could vanish, if indeed the hotel manager, or anyone else here for that matter, knew more than what they were saying. But at the same time, she didn't want to repeat any of the mistakes that had no doubt done in Ford and Meyers. Besides, there was no telling what their fellows had also found: regrouping and exchanging information seemed like the best course of action to her.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Anna walked swiftly back out to the street and towards the sheriff's office, eyeing the look on Margaret's face, knowing that her own expression was far from confident on any obvious lead forward. She let her friend mull over her own thoughts for a moment before she eventually spoke up as they continued down the street.

"What would drive someone to murder the Watsons and kidnap their daughter?" She asked quietly, careful of any passing townsfolk, watching the street intently even as she spoke to Margaret. After all, the city had already taken two Dogs. And so Anna eyed every passerby in sight, searching for anyone with more than a passing glance towards her and Margaret. "To set a fire so deliberately that it doesn't spread far, and then to kill two people and kidnap the third without a trace..."

She trailed off with a heavy sigh, trying to calm her own frustrations. Every question the two of them had asked the boy had only led to two more questions in turn. "It would take a certain cleverness. Someone, or a number of them, likely clever enough to then ambush two Dogs. But what is the value of the girl, for all of this?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"I'm not sure. That's still a big mystery here. And no doubt this all has to do with the fires that happen every year; it stands to reason that whoever the arsonist is who started the fires before, is also the one behind the current, possible kidnapping. We'll have to ask the Sheriff about any other missing people from the previous fires...there could very well be a pattern here. Regardless of all that, however...more and more, it feels like we're stepping into some sort of grand conspiracy here," Margaret replied, tapping her chin in thought.

Anna was right: a clever someone, or a group of someones, had definitely ambushed and likely killed the two Dogs. And it had to have been more than one person: this amount of precision and sophistication would be near impossible to pull off with just one person. An entire group, a conspiracy, had to be at work here. For what end, she couldn't yet say. But the further they unraveled the mystery of Abernathy, the more laborious and cryptic things became.

"We might want to consider sending a telegram for backup when we reconvene with the others. Even with the four of us, I can't help but feel ill at ease. After all, if this conspiracy could swallow two Dogs whole with ease, what's to say they couldn't do the same for four?" she opined, grimacing slightly in distaste.

It was something of a blow to her pride to admit as such, but she had to be realistic here. If anything, she knew that the higher ups in New Life would agree with her assessment after they reported in. More and more this was starting to feel like a mission too big for one group of Dogs to feasibly handle.

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Charles scratched at his beard with a wordless grumble as he considered. It was certainly wiser not to go chasing off with guns drawn after an unknown suspect, especially when the dying woman had indeed made it abundantly clear she was far from alone. After all, two Dogs had likely gotten far closer than he and Sonia had thus far, and their own skills hadn't been enough to save their lives. After another brief moment of thought, he managed to crack a faint grin. "If they've got numbers, then at least they'll struggle to hide 'em for long. Like rats, eh? Just gotta light a fire under 'em in the right place and they'll scurry out."

He then stepped towards the doorway to the hall, revolver in hand. "Maybe we take a back door out quickly, yeah?" He quickly poked his head out just long enough to look back and forth for any signs of moving before leaning back into the relative cover of the doorway. "Ready?" Charles asked, with a quick look back to Sonia, still listening carefully for any sounds of footsteps coming down the hall.

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Sonia nodded wordlessly at him, gun in hand, before moving out of cover and down the hall with him. No one was present to impede their path right now; and when they reached the entrance to the stairwell, no one still harassed them. After that, the two of them proceeded down the stairs, slowly and carefully making their way to the first floor. And still, no one chased after them; instead, the few people they came across turned the other way the moment they saw their pistols.

As such, they remained largely unmolested by the time they did exit the hotel, and enter the backstreets of Abernathy. Sonia couldn't help but breath a sigh of relief, though she still looked around for any sign of a pursuer.

"Looks like we're clear for now. Come on, let's hurry; we've got to get back to the others!"

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Asking for help, on her first mission as pack leader. The thought galled Anna, at least until she stamped down on that folly of pride. Two Dogs surely as experienced as she, if not likely more so, had fallen prey to the lurking danger here, and she had an obligation to much more than just her own safety.

She was silent for that long moment, brows furrowed with thought, only belatedly looking back up to Margaret. "You are right. We need to look farther back, find a pattern. Inquire about any other missing women." The thought drew out a deep frown from Anna. The most obvious motive for such a crime drew a cold fury in her heart, but she couldn't let such thoughts distract her from the task at hand.

A deep breath, in and out. "We will send word to New Life of our difficulties in finding the trail and the danger that represents, that there is more at work here than any simple criminal or sinner. Bolstering our numbers would be a boon. Perhaps the arrival of a second pack would force the culprits into rash action."