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Sonia Redwood

"There is no time to regret the past. You can only look forward, and strive to make a better future."

0 · 813 views · located in Dogs in God's Vineyard

a character in “Dogs in Almighty God's Vineyard”, as played by Magus1108

Description

Sonia Redwood

Image


Age: 49
Gender: Female
Ethnicity/Race: Caucasian
Level of Faith: Sonia is a woman of moderate faith. After years of soul searching, she’s found a cause to believe in...though she does not agree wholeheartedly with Faithian doctrine, or all its professed tenants. Still, she believes in the Lord God, and her long years have led to her seeing some strange things. So she is more inclined to believe in the supernatural than others.
Years of Service: Ten years as a Dog, twelve years as Sheriff of Prairie Falls, and two and a half years in the US Army
Weapons/Equipment: Her trusty shotgun, two revolvers, a rifle, a hidden knife in her boot, the Book of Life, and a small locket that has a picture inside of it, showing a younger Sonia, a young Mexican man, three young boys, and a little girl.

Personality

Sonia is a woman hardened by her years of violence and war, but beneath her more gruff and hard exterior, lies a passionate and proud woman. She takes pride in her work and her past accomplishments; even her past sex work, to a degree. While the road to the present hasn’t always been pleasant, there is little she regrets, and she takes that approach to her everyday life. There is no room for doubt or fear in her mind.

History

When Sonia was a young girl, she was always free-spirited. She often got into trouble with her parents, who disapproved of their rebellious ways. The only person she got along with during her childhood, truly, was her older brother Caleb. The two of them were close friends, and he was seemingly the only person who understood her and accepted her. Unlike their father and mother, Caleb accepted Sonia’s more rebellious nature, and even encouraged it at times. Together, they brought a great amount of grief to their parents, but Sonia didn’t care about that at all. She hated the way her parents, especially her father, tried to stifle her and make her into a ‘proper young woman’.

Sonia was fifteen when a life-changing event occurred: the War between the States. Her brother was seventeen at the time, and soon after the war started, he was drafted into the Union Army. It was a painful event, separating from her sibling...not helped at all by talk from her father Sherman of arranging a proper marriage for her, now that she was of age. Years of constant rebellion against her controlling father culminated in her decision to run away: she would marry whomever she wished to, not whatever businessman her father wanted to hitch her to in order to advance their social station.

After running away, Sonia was at first unsure of where to go...until she remembered where her brother was. With her boyish looks and still developing body, it was fairly easy to disguise herself as a young boy. The Union Army was desperate for more soldiers, so the recruiters accepted her quite easily when she presented herself; though she was unsuccessful in getting placed with Caleb’s unit. Despite that failure, Sonia hoped to reconnect with her brother in the army, and she was successful to that end. After claiming Caleb was her cousin, she found out what unit he was in, and started exchanging letters with her brother soon after. Through the rest of the war they kept in touch, both siblings managing to survive the War of Southern Secession.

The war against the South was a harsh affair, and one that would forever stick in Sonia’s mind. People around her died all the time, often more due to infection than actual bullet wounds. The conditions of war were hellish, with constant gunfire and cannonfire thundering around her. And then, the few times she had to fight hand to hand...thrusting her bayonet into the stomach of a Confederate soldier close to her own age was an experience Sonia would never forget. It changed her, hardened her, made her into a different person.

Then, too, came another inevitability: while she did her best to hide her gender, the men of her unit discovered her secret soon enough. And, distasteful as the notion was, Sonia bought their silence with her body. Sonia slept with her fellow soldiers to stay in the Army, as well as a few other people higher-up in the chain of command, who discovered her secret. It was unpleasant for the most part, but a necessity if she didn’t want to be outed, and forced back with her parents.

By August of 1863, the war was over. The South had won, and the Confederate States of America was now an independent nation. The result disheartened many Union soldiers, and Sonia herself felt a sense of bitterness in the aftermath. Still, fighting in the army had given her a sense of purpose, and it had taught her how to defend herself. If nothing else, her time as a Union soldier gave her valuable life skills that would serve her well in the future.

After the war, Sonia reunited with her brother Caleb, and after some discussion the two of them ventured out West, to seek a new life away from their parents. The trek West was hard, and often they had to resort to various unsavory means to provide for themselves and stay alive: with Sonia often letting men sleep with her in exchange for supplies or money. Her brother wasn’t happy with the arrangement at all, but Sonia did her best to soothe his worries. Even if it wasn’t pleasant, it was what was needed to survive.

In the fall of 1865, the two of them settled in a small frontier town known as Prairie Falls. At first it was just a general stop in their continued journey Westward (with the goal of maybe settling somewhere in California), but that changed as Sonia and Caleb formed connections in the town. The people there were welcoming, and after some discussion, the two siblings decided to settle there. They managed to settle in at the town well enough, and Sonia soon made the acquaintance of the town’s bartender: a former Mexican soldier by the name of Miguel Castillo. Miguel was a man like no other, far as Sonia was concerned: he was a kind, gentle soul, and their shared bitterness over their nation’s loss in war helped them to bond further. The two of them became quite close, and after two years of flirtation and courtship, they were married.

After several years of marriage, however, another unexpected development occurred. In 1871, the Sheriff of Prairie Falls was murdered by a group of outlaws who were harassing the townsfolk. Sonia and her brother helped lead the posse that hunted down the outlaws in response, and during the fight, Sonia proved herself very well. After justice was served, the town needed a new Sheriff...and who better than Sonia Redwood to serve that role?

Sonia was deeply surprised by this development, but went along with the decision. For the next twelve years, she served as the Sheriff of Prairie Falls. And during those twelve years, she started a family with Miguel. Her first son was born in 1872, followed by two more sons in 1874 and 1877. In 1880, she gave birth to her first daughter, and her last child overall. During that time, her brother married as well, and started his own family.

During her tenure as Sheriff, Sonia oversaw a relatively peaceful and eventful period of Prairie Falls history. During the mid 1870s, a connecting railroad was built along the town, which contributed to its subsequent rise in population. Slowly but surely, Prairie Falls was transitioning from a small frontier town to a more developed railroad city. The times were a-changing, and in 1883, Sonia ended up changing as well.

The ‘Miracle’ Sonia witnessed in the Summer of 1883 is ill-defined, largely because she does not like to talk about it in detail. Regardless, some sort of event happened in 1883 that gave Sonia a newfound belief in God, and of the Faithian religion. This new sense of belief inspired Sonia to give her talents to God to use...and what better way for her to accomplish that, then to become a Dog? So it was that, after a brief discussion with her family, Sonia resigned as Sheriff and left Prairie Falls, bound for New Life.

With her history as both a sheriff and a soldier, she breezed through the Dog training fairly well, and was ordained within four months. Since then, Sonia has been serving as an active Watchdog, ready to deliver God’s justice (or mercy) when need be. Sonia is not as dogmatic as some of her fellows though, and her downright liberal views on sexuality, race-mixing, and a woman’s place in the world would scandalize many a New Life socialite. She’s good at her job though, and has developed a reputation in the Dog community as a fair but firm soldier of God.

Goals

Sonia’s goals are to see God’s will and judgment carried out in Man’s World, to live to a ripe old age, and see to it that her children live happy and prosperous lives.

Likes

  • Her sons, Alejandro, Ethan, and Julio, and her daughter, Isabella.
  • Dogs (the animal, but also Watchdogs)
  • Her Husband and Brother
  • Snow; a rarity in the climate of the Deseret, admittedly
  • People of Strong Character

Dislikes

  • Her father Sherman
  • Holier-than-thou types
  • Confederates
  • Hypocrites
  • Thunderstorms

So begins...

Sonia Redwood's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Charles kept up a friendly smile, even at the sight of the clerk's mild distress. He certainly wouldn't blame him for nervousness, but he was the opinion that kindness, or at least the illusion of it, went father than intimidation, despite what his elder Dogs might have thought otherwise. "Well, you tell Mr. Hershel that we're much obliged, and we just might take him up on that offer once we've conferred for the evening. Perhaps we'll have a word with Mr. Hershel as well, at his earliest convenience."

He nodded idly as he listened to Sonia question the clerk, before adding in. "We'll be needing to take a look at those rooms ourselves. Has anyone else stayed in them since their departure? And if you would kindly show us to their rooms, now." He said, gesturing for the clerk to lead the way, with a pointed stare to suggest he shouldn't delay, even as he smiled calmly, soon flicking his fingers at the clerk to indicate he should get a move on. "The Lord's justice must move swiftly, after all."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Anna wrinkled her nose faintly as she listened to the preacher, listening to him calmly. It was unsurprising, of course, that her fellow Dogs would seek confession even from preacher of a town they were simply passing through. A Dog certainly carried more and more burdens, the longer they served. And they would naturally look to a preacher to ease them, when time permitted such a luxury. But there was little reason to think a regular confession would have any relevance to their disappearance, even without the sacred right of secrecy to it.

"How did they seem to you, Father? Outside of the confession. Were they troubled?" Anna said, tilting her head as she eyed the man intently. "Did they explain their interest in the fire?"

Anna paused briefly with a glance to Margaret. "The sheriff told us of the fire as well. It is a troubling tale, but we've our own mission assigned to us already. As did our missing comrades here when they were here. And two days seems long for them to linger, no?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"I suppose so. I hadn't thought about their length of stay too much. And as for how they were...well, they seemed in relatively good spirits, as much as a Watchdog can be. Although, Dog Meyer seemed especially concerned about the fires. He was truly the one most curious about the incident, if memory serves. And...I do not recall Meyer explaining his interest overmuch. The most I can recall...is him perhaps saying it reminded him of something." Father Mycroft replied.

Margaret frowned, rubbing her chin as she thought that answer over. It was a vague if interesting answer. Assuming the Father was telling the truth, or remembered correctly. Just what did that mean, then? What had interested Meyer so much in the fire? What had it reminded him of?

"When was the last time you saw them, Father? Can you recall?" she finally asked. Establishing a timeline, if nothing else, would be good. If they searched long enough, they might be able to figure out who had seen the missing Dogs last.

"It was the morning of their third day in town. They came to morning prayer, and left afterward. That was the last that I saw of them. I had just assumed that they were going on their way, after staying two full nights in town." he dutifully replied.

So, they had shown up for morning prayer then. Where had they gone from there? To get their horses, perhaps? Assuming they had been intending to leave that day. Considering that they had stayed two nights here at all, instead of just leaving after one day here, it was hard to be certain. Now that Anna had mentioned it, staying here that long did seem a bit...odd. And as concerning as the matter of the fire was, especially if it was intentionally set, they had had their own mission to contend with. What had led them astray?

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"Much obliged." Charles murmured to the clerk with a faint grin as he followed him alongside Sonia to the elevator, friendly demeanor masking a careful stare at the clerk's own expression. He couldn't help but let out another low whistle at the elevator in motion, surely just as impressive a sight as the luxurious lobby.

"We'll be the judges indeed. That is the purpose the Lord entrusted to us, after all." He repeated with a nod to the clerk, waiting for him to depart before he looked to Sonia. "Best have two sets of eyes on each room, eh?"

He pulled the door open for Sonia, waving his other arm out to let her in first before going in after her. The hotel's luxury reminded him of Richmond, though he certainly wouldn't admit it on a whim, certainly not to a grizzled old Dog like Sonia who he certainly didn't suspect of having the same privileged youth he'd had. A part of him missed such mundane comforts, though he was loath to admit that as well, if only for the sake of appearances.

Charles stepped first into the center of the room, looking about as he mused idly. "Now, where d'you reckon a Dog would hide something if there was something to be hidden?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Sonia stepped into Eliza Ford's room, idly looking around as Charles stepped in after her. It was a first-class hotel room, she had to admit. A large, comfortable bed took up much of the right wall, while a dressing cabinet took up space on the left. There was even a secondary room that, when opened up, revealed a water closet, or toilet, or whatever one wanted to call indoor plumbing. It was an invention that was becoming more and more popular in the US, although they weren't as common in still developing areas, like parts of the Deseret.

Still, beyond that, there wasn't much to see. Sonia stepped back into the room with Charles, idly looking about as she considered his question. The flooring was carpeted, so it wasn't like their was a loose floorboard they could pry open to find any hidden caches. Where else, though, might a Dog hide something? There wasn't anyplace to really do such in the water closet. And upon opening the dresser, she'd find it empty.

Perhaps...

On a hunch, Sonia approached the bed and moved her hand along the mattress, until she slipped a hand underneath to paw at the bed frame. She spent a minute feeling around, until her hand grasped something. Almost immediately, she pulled it out, revealing a hard-worn, leather-bound book.

She flipped through it, briefly scanning the written pages within. "Seems like Dog Ford kept a journal on her. You'd think that if she'd really left town, she'd have taken this with her."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Anna forced an annoyed breath to exhale out slowly, carefully masking her impatience with a calm stare to the floor for a long moment. The doubts around the fire may have been enough to draw a Dog's attention if they were simply passing through the city, dispensing justice as the Lord guided them in subtler ways. But Meyer had not been wandering and seeking such justice, he had direct orders otherwise. To go against that implied a darker discovery.

"Father, perhaps you could point us towards the homes of the families who were unfortunate enough to lose someone in the fire?" She asked, glancing briefly to Margaret. "With all the talk of the tragedy of late, I think the two of us might pay our respects to those families. And we do not want to keep you from your own duties for long, of course."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"The most recent fire you mean? Well, not too many people died, thank the Lord. A block of people lost their homes, and that is unfortunate, but most managed to escape without serious injury. Granted...a few suffered serious burns, and even now we have a poor soul in the hospital that's still in recovery. As for those who died...from my understanding, only the Watson family perished that night. Not a soul survived in their household. Although, the Watsons do have family here in Abernathy, Joseph Watson and his young wife, Agatha. They lived on the opposite side of town to Miles Watson and his family. If you wish to talk to them, or the poor man still in the hospital, i would be happy to tell you where to go. And, of course, I can give you the addresses of those who lost their homes," Father Mycroft dutifully replied.

Margaret listened to his words absently, brow furrowing somewhat when he mentioned someone still in the hospital. "There is still someone in the hospital? It's been several weeks since the fire, hasn't it Father? Surely they would have healed or died from their injuries by now? Were they so extensively burned, to require such a lengthy stay?"

"Yes...something along those lines, I believe. I am no doctor, so I do not pretend to know just how badly young Richard Horpe was hurt. He's a boy of fifteen...and from what I understand, he tried to go into the Watson house during the inferno to save them. Richard lived on that block, and from what I understand...fancied the young Miss Watson. However, he was unsuccessful in his attempt...and for his bravery, became severely burned as a result," Father Mycroft replied. "If you wish to know more about him, I am sure his family or doctor could tell you...or, even the boy himself. I've taken to visiting him twice a week for prayer. The boy is taking opium to manage his pain, but seems lucid and responsive most times I've visited him."

Interesting. Well, if the fire had started at the Watson residence as the Sheriff suggested, then it would make sense that this Richard had suffered such severe burns. It made her wonder what he had seen the night of the fire, though. It also made her wonder if either of the Dogs had gone to see Richard. Of the survivors, Richard's situation differed: he had been to the epicenter of the fire, and survived to tell the tale. If he had any memories of that night in the Watson home, it could shed light on some very interesting details.

Then again, it was likely the Sheriff had already interrogated the boy, and the other survivors. They could just always return to her, and see what her initial investigation and interviews had turned up, if they were so inclined.

Regardless, Father Mycroft happily gave out the locations of all the survivors of the fire and their relatives, including the hospital where Richard Horpe was at, and where Joseph Watson lived. If they truly wished to investigate that path further, then they seemed to have some good leads.

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 an appreciate whistle at the room's opulence. He was certainly being reminded of the luxury he'd left behind in Richmond, with a twinge of longing for such creature comforts even if he knew well enough that he didn't truly need such things. A night or two enjoying the hotel owner's hospitality would be a harmless indulgence of such feelings, of course.

He slowly stepped further inside behind Sonia, carefully looking around the room. The carpet covered his first thought, when he'd hidden letters and tobacco in his own childhood room years and years ago, and so he continued onwards, peering underneath the dresser and then looking around the porcelain and plumbing of the water closet.

As he stepped back into the room, he blinked with surprise as Sonia produced the book from underneath the mattress, silently thanking the Lord for their good fortune at having suspicions proven right. "If'n they'd made it out of the town, we very well might not've been sight after 'em." He said as he stepped up to her, peering over her shoulder to the book's pages. "Any word on what was in the poor woman's thoughts?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Anna's gaze turned sharply back to Mycroft spoke of the boy that had been perhaps foolish enough to run into the center of the fire, but had survived nonetheless. Surely there was no clearer sign of the hand of the Lord than that. Of course, the sheriff surely would have questioned the boy with her own suspicions, and presumably shared them with the pack earlier. But Anna had certainly seen in the past that a Dog's presence could elicit a truth where others, even lawmen, could not. She committed the addresses to memory before nodding to Margaret with a subtle gesture to the door. For the moment, there was nothing else to as of the preacher.

She headed outwards, pausing at the doorway to incline her head respectfully to Mycroft. "Thank you, Father, you have been of great help. We will be sure to return for prayer when we are able to."

Once she and Margaret were outside and in relatively privacy, she walked down the street in the direction of the hospital, leaning in close as she spoke quietly to Margaret. "We can start with the boy and see if our missing comrades already spoke to him. If not him, then the other families. If the two of them were investigating the fires, there's only so many apparent people to speak with. We should find that trail swiftly."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"Indeed. Lord willing, we shall find the right path to the truth soon enough." Margaret agreed, nodding her head to Anna.

Some time later, they arrived at the hospital where the boy was waylaid. A flash of their badges got the staff to guide them to his room. By the time they were led there, a doctor was already waiting for them.

"Good afternoon, ladies. I'm Doctor Herbert Walker. It is good to meet you," Doctor Walker proclaimed, greeting them politely. He looked a little nervous, but perhaps that was to be expected, when Dogs of the Lord unexpectedly visited your establishment. "I'm not sure what you need to talk to poor Richard for, but I am happy to be of assistance to you. However, I must warn you...the poor boy is still quite hurt. Though the fire was weeks ago, the burns he suffered still ail his body. I've needed to give him liberal doses of opium to help him manage the pain and calm down. I'm afraid I don't know how lucid he may be to answer any intense questioning."

Margaret couldn't help but grimace at that. The boy was addled with opium? They would be lucky indeed to get much out of him in that case. Still, it was curious that he was in such pain, all this time later, to still need doses of opium. Had he been that severely injured in the fire?

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."

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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..."

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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 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.

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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.”

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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."

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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.

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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 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?"

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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."

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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 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?"