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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 · 1,015 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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Margaret nodded her head in acknowledgement. With that said, the two continued their way back to the sheriff's office of Abernathy. They were perhaps a few blocks away from the sheriff's office, however, when they spotted Sonia and Charles exiting out of an alleyway.

"Sonia! Charles!" Margaret nodded her head in greeting as she and Anna moved to regroup with them. "We were just heading back to the sheriff's office ourselves. I presume you two finished your part of this ordeal?"

"In a manner of speaking," Sonia replied, eyeing the other people on the street cautiously. She still had her gun out, though for now she had the barrel pointed down. "Charles and I ran into some complications, to say the least."

With that, the quartet began to share what they had learned, as they continued on back to the sheriff's office. And as the pieces fell together, the feeling that something was seriously wrong here in Abernathy, outside even the fires and disappearances of the other Dogs, only grew...

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Charles let out a relieved breath as he caught sight of the other two Dogs, jogging up beside Sonia to catch up to them, his gun in hand as well and hidden under the fold of his coat. "Reckon complication is an understatement." He said, otherwise content to let Sonia explain the brief fight in the hotel room, with the nominal familiarity she had with the cult the woman had invoked.

"We might want to go back and press the hotel owner harder." He suggested as they continued down the street, keeping his voice low as he watched Sonia's worried glances to other townsfolk walking about. "He was awfully keen on keeping us happy, 'course, not as if most folks wouldn't be nervous. But he'd be the one who'd know anything 'bout that poor woman."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"Before that, we should go back to the Sheriff's office and tell her what we've discovered so far. Then we should send that telegram to New Life for backup...and then, with the Sheriff and her men with us, we should go back to the hotel," Margaret countered. "Presumin' Anna agrees, of course. There's a good chance no one will be at the hotel by then, 'least no one we'd be interested in, but it's far better than walking straight into an ambush."

"Gotta agree there. There's no telling how many cultists might be here in town. More likely than not they've got us outnumbered, if not outgunned too. The sooner we can get more squads to back us up, the better," Sonia agreed with a decisive nod. "Nasty business, this cult is. From what I've read, they've been known to do human sacrifices. Perhaps that's the source of these fires the last few years; a smokescreen to kidnap folk and use them for whatever nefarious deeds they got in mind."

"And it's possible Ford and Meyer got caught up in that; maybe they found what we found. Only they didn't get a message off to anyone before it was too late," Margaret theorized. She frowned, furrowing her brow as she thought the matter over. "There's still too much here we don't know. Lot o' missing pieces still. But I think we're starting to get a clear picture of what's been going on here."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Anna nodded to Margerat as she strode towards the sheriff's office. "We'll have to be quick about it. Update the sheriff, let her gather her posse while we send that telegram, and then search the hotel down to the floorboards." She tried for a reassuring smile to her friend, with little success. Too many worried thoughts nagged at her.

If anyone would murder a family to kidnap a young girl in secret, a cult would have dark enough motives, to be sure. That they were able to operate in a Faithful city of such size was disturbing, to say the least, but the city's size was working against the Faith's defenders. Anna had scoured sinners from little mining towns before with little effort to the investigation itself. There had only been so many places to hide, so few townsfolk to question, and then a swift judgment performed in the only street the town had.

"They must have found what we have thus far, yes. This darkness is more than enough to have waylaid them from their orders. The Lord led them to uncover this, and now we must finish their work." She said to her Pack, hurrying down the street. "Everyone in that hotel is suspect, and we shall bring the truth from them soon."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Margaret nodded at that. After that, not much else was said among the group as they made their way to the Sheriff's office. It didn't take much longer to arrive: soon enough the building was in sight, and the posse marched through the doors.

Sheriff Mills was right where they'd left her, going through some papers on her desk. She raised an eyebrow at their sudden entrance, and stood up to greet them. "I see you're back. Have you found anything?"

"To say the least," Sonia remarked, giving a small sigh. "We've found out some disturbing things. And we'll need some help from you and your deputies sorting it all out."

Sheriff Mills raised an eyebrow at that, before glancing over at Anna, expecting some sort of explanation or answer from her.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Anna tried not to grimace too deeply, less concerned of the townsfolk's spying eyes now, but still aware of how the sheriff might judge her reaction. "We have reason to believe that the burning of the Watson home was intentional and that their daughter was taken."

Glancing briefly to Charles and Sonia, she couldn't hide the displeased curl of her lips. "And a maid at the hotel was killed for attacking Sonia. She proclaimed loyalty to a cult of heretics. And she claimed their responsibility for the disappearances, and murder, of our comrades."

She fixed a judgmental stare at Mills, in turn, eyed the sheriff's reaction intently. All of this had, after all, fermented under her watch. "Understand, Sheriff, we are going to contact New Life for reinforcements. And then we will tear apart this city to find these heretics. I expect you and your deputies to assist in this."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Sheriff Mill's eyebrows rose even further at these revelations, the troubled look on her face growing all the more. After a moment she gave an abrupt nod, a look of determination and vigor in her eyes. "Yes, of course. I'll do everything I can to help. I have no idea how such a cult could have grown underneath my nose...still, it will certainly not stay that way for long. You have my word."

Then the Sheriff glanced over to one of her deputies, and gave a nod. Then in the blink of an eye, she had her pistol in hand, and fired a shot straight into Anna's chest. The bullet pierced her heart and killed her in an instant, before she or any of her comrades could react: and then, before Margaret, Charles, or Sonia could make sense of things or return fire, the deputies had already gunned them down as well.

Margaret was the last to cling to life, her body crumple onto the floor. Her eyes were wide with shock and horror as she stared numbly at the deceased Anna. Dimly, she was aware of Sheriff Mills barking orders, making preparations to dispose of their bodies...

But none of that mattered anymore. Unable to remain conscious anymore, Margaret Thorne felt the world fade around her as she died.

....

....

....

"...We'll have to be quick about it. Update the sheriff, let her gather her posse while we send that telegram, and then search the hotel down to the floorboards....They must have found what we have thus far, yes. This darkness is more than enough to have waylaid them from their orders. The Lord led them to uncover this, and now we must finish their work." Anna said to her Pack, hurrying down the street. "Everyone in that hotel is suspect, and we shall bring the truth from them soon."

And just like that, Margaret Thorne returned to life.

She stopped short for a moment, her eyes widening in minute surprise as a rush of memories came to her: memories of a death five minutes from then, that only she would ever recall. A death so sudden and abrupt, that it had caught her totally off guard. But...that was not an issue she could focus on. The more pressing matter, in fact, was the issue of how to address the trap she now knew laid with the Sheriff and her deputies.

"How do we know we can trust the Sheriff, however?" Margaret spoke up, quickly resuming her walk with Anna and the others. Past experience had taught her the futility of warnings others of her knowledge...but, with the right words, perhaps she could avert disaster. "Clearly this cult has infested this town root and stem. Or so it would seem. How do we know that they have not corrupt the Sheriff in some way? In fact...it would make a disturbing amount of sense for this cult to bring the local law enforcement into the fold."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Charles slowed a half step as she caught Margaret pausing from the corner of his eye, letting out a quiet rumble in the back of his throat her thoughts. "Ain't the most unlikely scenario." He drawled, scratching at his beard as he considered. "Would give credence to how these cultists have been able to run amok. Big city like this, you'd think there's more places to hide, but there's just as many gossips about, and more deputies to boot."

Only New Life itself could actually compare to the likes of Richmond or Charleston when it came to a city of impressive grandeur, of course, but Charles opted to keep that notion to himself. He looked deferentially between Anna and Sonia. "D'you reckon we should just make for the telegraph office? Could be easier to deal with sheriff, Lord forbid, if'n we've got a few more Dogs watching our backs."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"The telegraph office might be our best bet. There is protocol for situations like this...though I know not how often said protocol is used. Either way, getting a message off to New Life before we proceed any further...it might be our best option here. That, or we forget the locals, and go back to the hotel ourselves...but that's not exactly the best plan either," Margaret declared, shaking her head in dismay. She'd do whatever it took to avoid that fated death, quite frankly. Still, she wanted some amount of backup before they investigated this town any further, if possible.

"It's not a bad idea, all things considered. We don't know who we can trust for sure in this town...after all, those two Dogs went missin' for a reason. There's definitely some sort of rot in this town...it just remains to be seen how deep it goes," Sonia mused, closing her eyes in thought. After a moment, she glanced over at Anna. "It's your call, leader. What do you think?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Anna sighed heavily. The burden that had been placed upon her shoulders was growing all the more heavy. Now more than ever, she wished Horatio had stayed with the pack. "We need to get the word to New Life first of all. There's no way around that, we need the telegraph office." She said, starting to lead the group in that direction, before continuing in a low voice. "We won't bring in the sheriff yet. We inform New Life, then go back to the hotel. The owner will need time to obscure whatever heresy has been happening there, he'll surely be startled and scared, and rushing about to cover up his sin. With the four of us forewarned now, we can face whatever is in that hotel."

It was a risk, but she couldn't simply do nothing and wait for reinforcements that would likely be days away. The impatient urge to act in the name of the Lord burned hot in her heart and Anna would not disappoint him out of fear.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Margaret nodded, following after Anna in quick order. She kept a careful eye on her surroundings, her hand drifting near her gun as she kept her vigil. Thankfully, anyone they passed by on the street tended to leave them alone, and understandably so. No one would want to get in the way of an armed group on a mission, particularly a group of Dogs at that.

Soon enough, they reached the telegraph office without incident. The office itself was located near the train station of Abernathy, though it wasn’t directly stationed inside the train station, unlike most major cities. Instead it was just a simple one story office building directly across from the station.

Even now that they were at their destination, though, Margaret kept her guard up. There was no telling if this Conspiracy was keeping a close eye on the trains and the telegram office. If that was the case, well...at least here, they could expect and prepare for a potential ambush, if the Conspiracy decided to be so bold.

Upon entering, they’d find a small, almost cramped space. Aside from the machinery and a single operator, there wasn’t much else of note.

”Can I...help you?” the operator carefully inquired, standing up straight in his chair.

“Yes, we need to send a message to New Life, posthaste,” Margaret began. She glanced over at Anna after that, content to let her dictate the specific contents of the message.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"I need you to swear yourself to secrecy. This is a matter of upmost importance to the Faith." Anna said as she swiftly strode right up to the telegram operator, fixing her most intense stare to him. "This should not be a problem of a good and Faithful son of the King of Life's domain."

She didn't wait for the operator to respond, her stare hardening to warn him against any extended reply to her, with a stiff nod towards his instruments.

"You will send this message to the Watchdogs of New Life." Anna began, with a slow breath in, steeling herself as much as forewarning the operator. Her gaze was still fixed upon peering intently for the slightest hint of duplicity. If the telegram operator was among the heretics, he would be forced to act soon enough. That in itself could expose a lead. "Discovered source of great heresy within Abernathy, stop. Confirmed murder of two Dogs within city, stop. Request immediate reinforcements, stop. In the name of the Lord and the King of Life, stop."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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The operator was wide-eyed as Anna recited her message, but he nevertheless complied with her demands, his hands working the telegraph diligently. ”Y-Your message has been sent, Ma’am. It might take a little while to, ah, receive a reply—!”

Any further words were cut off, however, as the operator’s head exploded in a shower of gore, viscera, and blood. More gunshots followed, riddling the small office with bullets, but Margaret and the other Dogs had already taken cover by then.

“Shit!” Sonia swore, grimacing as she held a revolver in one hand. She peeked out just the tinniest bit, looking out the window she was hiding near. “Got a whole bunch of guys with guns out there! I don’t think we can wait on that backup!”

“Then we’ll have to shoot our way out!” Margaret fiercely declared, her rifle already in hand. “We can’t go out the front, though. They’ll mow us down easily. Going out the back is our best option, but they’ve probably got men out there too, if they aren’t sending some over already. Don’t got much of a choice otherwise, though...”

She trailed off, glancing towards Anna. “Your call, leader. What do you want us to do?”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Anna ducked down reflexively a half second after the first shot rang out, eyes widening at the sight of the operator's head splitting apart, but nonetheless calmly whipping out her pistol as she looked to the shattered windows as the barrage of gunfire filled the office. She stamped down on a flush of fury in her heart at the boldness of the heretics outside, forcing a quick, tight breath in as she focused.

"Sonia, Charles." She said sharply, looking between them and the shattered front of the building. "Put out covering fire for a moment, keep them occupied. Margaret and I will go out the back first, then you two follow."

Looking to Margaret with a brief, grim smile, Anna stayed low as she hurried for the office's back door. "Ready? She asked once she was crouched alongside the doorway, revolver raised up, before she swiftly swept out first, ready to fire at anyone waiting outside.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Sonia and Charles laid down the suppressive fire as instructed, while Anna and Margaret burst out of the back of the operator's office. Sure enough there were a few men waiting outside for them, but she and Anna acted faster then then, mowing down their would be assassins in a hail of gunfire. The three men fell to the ground, but Margaret paid them little mind as she and Anna rushed out into the open street, and down a nearby alleyway.

Sonia and Charles followed after them soon after, and for the next while they were all running hastily through alleyways and side streets, all in an effort to avoid their pursuers. They heard shouts and yells after them, but with their head start, they were able to quickly lose their assailants.

After a good ten minutes passed by with no gunshots or shouts, the group finally came to a stop, crouching by the back of a butcher's shop in the downtown district of Abernathy. There was no one around at the moment, though how long things stayed that way remained to be seen. And in a city where anyone was a potential enemy or informant, when they didn't know who they could trust...

"Well," Sonia began, once she'd caught her breath. She was getting far too old for all this running about. "We've got ourselves in quite the situation, haven't we?"

"To say the least," Margaret replied, leaning back with a sigh. "Still, at least we've got a moment to catch our breath, and plot out our next move."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Charles' chest was heaving with his panting breathes, even after they'd had a moment's respite. His heart was still pounding in his chest, his revolver clenched so tightly in his fingers that his hand was trembling. He hadn't faltered in the telegraph office, thank the Lord, well honed instinct acting well before his thoughts to catch up to him. That had always been the problem, of course. It had never been the fight itself. It was always the moment after.

Of course, the danger had hardly passed, even once the gunshots had ceased. It didn't seem like the danger would pass any time soon. Lord, Lord please... He prayed silently, straining to settle himself as his ears were still ringing from the crack of gunfire. By some small miracle, Charles resisted the urge to swear as he spoke up. "Must've been at least a dozen of 'em. Can we even stay in the city? For all we know, they've cut the telegraph cables. But if we ride out now, we could get back to New Life with word of this heresy."

Heresy. Charles had learned the lessons as well as any other Dog, but he hadn't perhaps given as much credence to it. Murder was a sin, to be sure, but anyone would agree with that, they just might call it a crime instead. Cultists worshiping demons had always struck him as a fanciful tale, and he'd certainly heard plenty of tall tales over the years, but nothing more than a flimsy excuse that a cruel murderer might give, and then sensationalist newspaper writers would embellish it all the more. And a dying woman had spat in his face with such an invocation, and now they were the Faith's lawmen about to be run out of town. He fixed an apologetic look to Anna. "We can't fight the whole town ourselves."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"I hate to say it, but he's right about that," Sonia reluctantly agreed, pursing her lips as she glanced over at Charles. "Still, it doesn't set right with me. If we leave now, these heretics would have plenty of time to escape elsewhere. After all...they have to know that even if they kill us, that'll arouse New Life's attention even more. The jig is just about up for them, so they're probably frantic...getting ready to pack up and leave, more like than not. If we leave this town now, we may never discover what it was that they're up to."

Margaret frowned in thought, weighing both the pros and cons of the situation. "It makes a disturbing amount of sense. If that's the case, they might be acting so openly now just to buy themselves time. Honestly, the way things are escalating...the Social Order Ministry is going to come down hard on Abernathy, heathen and innocent alike. They aren't about to tolerate a heretical cult this close to the core of the Deseret. Whoever is behind this conspiracy...I imagine they don't want to be here when that comes crashing down on them."

Whatever happened next in Abernathy, Margaret doubted it would end well for the town. The Watchdogs and Social Order Ministries would be pissed about this, to say the least. Hellfire and brimstone was sure to rain down upon the city, no matter how this all turned out. It was just a question of what role they would continue to play in things.

To escape now while they could and bring back reinforcements...or to forgo that entirely and brave the situation by themselves. It was a hard choice to make, and even now she wasn't sure which one was ultimately the right choice.

She paused, looking over to Anna. "It's your choice, Anna: you're our leader after all. We could try escaping while we can...but there's no guarantee of success, or of being able to come back in time to round up the conspirators. Or...we can go it alone, and try to get to the heart of this mystery ourselves. We might very well be on our own, if the telegram didn't get through: but it's the only way I can see us finding out the truth. What do you think?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Anna had thought she was ready for such a responsibility, but now the burden weighed heavily on her shoulders. She knew most of what her father and Horatio had faced together, but none of the stories she had been told had been such a danger, such a heresy in a center of the Faith's land. The Ministry would not be wrong to bring a wrath down on all who had failed their due vigilance, Anna thought to herself, but it would mean little if the true culprits were not brought to the Lords justice.

Sonia was right. To leave was to allow the heretics to escape into the night. Her hard gaze flicked to each of her fellow Dogs. "We stay. The King of Life has charged uswith rooting out evil. We can't leave this be any more than the two of our own who gave their lives could."

Then, she looked to Charles with a slow nod. "But we can't simply stand and fight. We need to find the heart of this and that means we need to be able to move within the city." She pulled at the edge of her leather coat, then gesturing to the varied weapons that she and the other three carried. "We can't walk the streets as Dogs. Pistols and knives we can conceal, but we need to blend in with the locals. Buy ourselves some time. Then under the cover of night, we root out the heart of this."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"If that's what you believe we should do, then I am more than fine with this course of action," Margaret replied, giving a firm nod at Anna. The thought of leaving too many of her weapons behind, not to mention actively hiding her status as a Watchdog...it irked at her, to say the least. But it would prove necessary for their own survival, in the end.

"Splitting up might not be a bad course of action either...potentially," Sonia piped up. "They'll be looking for a group of four, after all. But then again, there is safety in numbers...they can't pick us off if we stick together."

"Whatever we do, however, is dependent on our next step," Margaret interjected, a thoughtful frown marring her features. She looked to Anna again and said, "Let us assume for the sake of argument we can blend in for the day, and hide out until night. What then? Where do we go?"

"Ha, the hotel comes to mind," Sonia replied with a humorless laugh. "Something dastardly is going on there, sure enough. But they'll be on alert...sneaking in, even at night, won't be easy."

"Not necessarily," Margaret shook her head. At Anna's questioning look, she offered her leader a small smirk and elaborated. "The three of you are white, and I'm black. I've been to many hotels that have Negros as part of the Help...and even in the Deseret, there are a great many white folk who tend to ignore Negros who keep their heads down and pay the part of wage-slave. The three of you might find it difficult to sneak in, but...well, I am perhaps not as limited in my options."

It was a risky option, of course, but Margaret was willing to take any such risk. Besides, this wouldn't be the first time she used the color of her skin to her own advantage. There were a great many drawbacks to being a Negro in North America, even in the 'enlightened' Deseret, but times like this turned those drawbacks into a keen advantage.

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Anna scowled down at the ground at the thought of hiding. At discarding the trappings that marked them as Dogs. But she couldn't let pride guide her orders. "The hotel, yes. Something was hidden there that they sought to kill to conceal. We must find it. And we will have more cover under night's darkness."

Then, something pulled at Anna's heart as her gaze snapped to Margaret when she explained her thoughts. It was dangerous, but not an unreasonable thought by any means. And yet...

She gritted her teeth as she hurriedly considered the odds at hand. "The owner may dismiss you, but it was a maid who attacked Sonia. The servants will notice more, and if one was a heretic, others surely are as well." She eyed Margaret worriedly, carefully keeping her tone even. "It is a great risk. But without coats and rifles, we blend in more easily with the locals. We only need to avoid conflict until nightfall."

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"To be fair, that woman may have just been dressed up as a servant, in order to lower our suspicions," Sonia couldn't help but point out. "Regardless, it is a fair point."

"Indeed. But it's a risk we may have to take in order to get to the heart of this matter," Margaret countered. She paused a moment, considering her thoughts before speaking further. "It is your call ultimately, Anna. But it seems we are agreed that investigating this hotel is our next best lead. However we decide to sneak inside, we have our next course of action decided. Now we just need to figure out where we're going to hide out until dusk."

"The church?" Sonia suggested, before shaking her head seconds later. "No, they'd no doubt look for us there. Besides, there's no telling if the priests have been corrupted as well."

"It might be better to roam the city at large: staying someplace for too long might draw unwarranted attention, particularly among the locals," Margaret argued. "Splitting up for the day might be best as well, I would say. We can leave our rifles and coats here, hide them as best as we can, and then we split off into pairs and disappear into the city. We can meet back up here at dusk, or thereabouts. Unless our Leader has a better idea, I think that is our best course of action until nightfall."

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"Gotta assume they're sharper than they look. Almost got the drop on us." Charles said with a brief, apologetic look to Sonia, and then a briefer glance upwards in silent thanks that he'd been quick enough on the draw.

He scratched worriedly at his beard at Sonia's further comment. He couldn't deny she had a point, concerning that it was to admit. After all, he'd come to Deseret hoping to find a place where an unfaithful priest would be all but unheard of, among other things. Of course, back East the problems had never been matters of heresy and cults.

"Wanderin' seems our best bet. Not the biggest city here, but big enough to be a fair few travelers passing through." He said, nonetheless grimacing as he looked down to the cavalry saber at his belt. Certainly something that wasn't carried about by any traveler as a revolver was. "Best be quick about it, yeah?" He said, stifling a heavy sigh as he unstrapped the scabbard and started to shrug off his coat.

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Margaret nodded, and started to shuck off her own heavy coat and gun belt, Sonia following suit as the group disrobed themselves of just about everything that might identify them as Dogs. From there, they bundled their items together, before hiding them as best they could near the dumpsters in the alleyway they'd hidden in. From there, they split off into two different pairs, each going in a different direction as they sought to blind in with the populace, hiding in plain sight as they waited things out...

.....

The remaining hours passed by uneventfully, Anna and her Pack avoiding any untoward attention before they regrouped to where they had stowed their weapons and coats away. By the time they reassembled and were properly armed once more, the sun was nearly set, the dying light of dusk, along with the fluorescent lights of the lampposts, keeping the streets of Abernathy lit.

"Charles and I came across some hurried patrols now and again, but we managed to keep our hands down just fine," Sonia reported as she slung her rifle back over her shoulder. "Seems like our suspicions about the local police were right. Saw more than a few lawmen scurrying about, running around with armed civilians like headless chickens. Looking for signs of us, no doubt."

"That doesn't surprise me. No doubt they're getting desperate to get their hands on us," Margaret replied. "Though we'll have to proceed with extra caution on our way to the hotel. With it getting dark, most people are going to be heading home for the night. That means less crowds to blend in with. Which means it'll be easier for any patrols to spot us if we're not careful."

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The weight of Anna's coat was all the heavier as she shrugged it off, but doing so gave no relief. She had been so proud to be honored with that burden, when she had been made into a ranking Watchdog, one who stood as a beacon of Faith. Now, she was hiding that faith, and it burned at her as painfully as any wound. For the sake of the others, she forced a calm expression, and a brief smile to Margerat, with no words left to be said as they scattered.

Patience had never been her strongest suit, but at least the wandering across the town forced her to put one foot in front of the other, the march keeping her from brooding too much on her frustrations. Keeping a careful watch on the streets sharpened her focus, a risk that it may have been when any mere townsfolk did not walk the street so tensely. But it wasn't as if she hadn't seen gunslingers before with their hunched shoulders and restless tension, such were those who had their own burdens following them even into the safety of civilization.

Once they had made it to dusk and regrouped and rearmed without issue, Anna let out a quiet, relieved breath as some of that tension faded. "We'll move swiftly, stay off the main streets as much as we can." She said with a nod to Margerat, a hand already settling on the grip of her revolver, reassured by the smooth heft of the wood along her fingers. "We have the surprise once we make it inside the hotel. We'll use that to cut them down if any think to stop us."

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"Sounds like a plan to me, Leader. Hopefully the Lord will watch over us, and protect us during this endeavor," Sonia proclaimed, and Margaret nodded in agreement.

After a shared, hurried prayer, the Pack was on the move. With Anna at the helm, they made their way swiftly through the city, veering off the main streets in favor of the various side alleys and alternate paths. They came across a few lone souls now and again, but they seemed just as eager to get on with their own business, and so they managed to pass on by without incident.

They made it to the hotel without incident, crouching at a shadowed alley-way at the opposite end of the hotel. From their vantage point, they could see two armed men on either side of the main doors: obviously guards of some sort. There didn't seem to be any other guards around, though there was no telling how many more might be inside, or at any alternate entrances into the building.

"Alright, Anna. What's your plan?" Margaret inquired, after they had spent a little while studying the guards' movements. "We could try to take them out quietly, then go in through the front. Or maybe we circle around to the back...there's a chance there won't be any guards there, and I might be able to sneak in disguised as a servant, as I suggested earlier. Maybe do some scouting in advance."

"Still not so sure that's a good idea. Situation like this, splitting up would be dangerous. If we're sneaking in through the back or a side entrance or what have you, it's better to do it as a group," Sonia argued.

Margaret nodded in acknowledgement, and glanced over to their Pack Leader. "Well, it's your call, Anna. What do you think?"