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Dogs in Almighty God's Vineyard

Dogs in God's Vineyard

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a part of Dogs in Almighty God's Vineyard, by Magus1108.

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Magus1108 holds sovereignty over Dogs in God's Vineyard, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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Copyright: The creator of this roleplay has attributed some or all of its content to the following sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/dogs_in_the_vineyard

Setting

Default Location for Dogs in Almighty God's Vineyard
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Dogs in God's Vineyard is a part of Dogs in Almighty God's Vineyard.

6 Characters Here

Anna Ward [235] "The wicked have no place in the vineyard we have wrought. So sayeth the King of Life."
Charles Carver [118] "Wise man once told me, 'If I save but one soul, then all my suffering has been justified.'"
Horatio Morale [116] "Sometimes all you can do is just live day by day."
Margaret Thorne [104] "I will avenge those who have fallen, no matter the cost!"
Sonia Redwood [103] "There is no time to regret the past. You can only look forward, and strive to make a better future."
Ira Murphy [15] "You will profess your love for the One True God, or die by the flame. It is your choice."

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

Characters Present

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

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne
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Anna could only do so much to hide the purposeful stride that had been ingrained into her over her years of service. Fortunately, it seemed that the few passerbys still parted swiftly for her, even without her coat of office. It had taken all of her strength not to grip at her pistol as she walked, in vain hope of easing the tension in her chest.

That tension still didn't fade once they reached the hotel. She glared out at the sight of the guards perched at the front, but at least it was clear evidence that something of value was behind those doors.

"We did a bit of scouting as is." Charles added, idly scratching as his beard as he peered up to the hotel's upper floors. "Didn't get much opportunity to nose around too much, but enough not to get turned around too easily, I reckon."

Anna only spoke up after another long moment. "We look for a back entrance. If there's guards there, we kill them quietly. We're not splitting up any further. We'll keep things quiet as long as we can, search as much as we can, but we've held back our fire and judgment long enough. Even if we're spotted sooner or later, they'll be awfully surprised to find us inside. Then we'll see where they run to, what they're trying to protect."

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne
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"Sounds like a plan to me. Let's get to it," Sonia replied.

With Anna's plan agreed to, the Pack went into action. Even this late at night, they couldn't risk being seen so obviously heading toward the back of the hotel: so they doubled back a ways, before turning back toward the block housing the hotel. From there, it was a simple matter of accessing the side streets, until they neared the back entrance of the austere hotel.

Crouched beside a closed doctor's office opposite the back entrance, they keenly took stock of the situation. In contrast to the front, there was just a lone guard near the back door. A guard that didn't seem all that attentive either, busy as he seemed in taking a smoke break.

"I have a throwing knife on me. I sneak up close enough, I should be able to nail him in the jugular. Won't be able to get out any deathly warnings that way," Sonia suggested after a few minutes of observation.

"Or one of us could cause a distraction, drag his attention away, and we then sneak in while he's gone," Margaret countered. "It saves us from having to hide a body, and affords us a more stealthier entrance."

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne
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Anna's hand settled once more on the grip of her pistol as she moved, struggling all the more with a restless energy, much less the lingering anger that she'd had to held back for the sake of subtlety and restraint. But all she could do was sneak along with the others, watching and waiting further.

"No." She said once they'd found a spot to observe the hotel's back entrance. "We can't risk a distraction getting out of hand. Kill him quickly and quietly. We'll be moving long before anyone can spot the body."

With a look to the old Dog, she nodded, and gestured for Sonia to move on ahead. Anna could only wait, all the more tense burning anticipation, fingers gripping tighter still at her revolver. Her other hand settled on her belt, fingers brushing along her own throwing knives as she waited, ready to strike just in case. They had come too far to let a poor turn of luck spiral everything further against them, and Anna's heart burned with the urge to lash out against the unaware heretic. But still she waited.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne
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Sonia gave a minute nod, and began the slow journey toward her target of choice. She crept along at a languid pace, stalking her way through the shadows and avoiding the dim luminescence of the few street lamps around them. She approached the lone guard from the left, hugging the fence that surrounded the exterior of the hotel's back entrance. Once she neared the gate she paused, her hand drawing down to the throwing knife at her belt...

A flash of steel reflected off of her thrown knife fwas the only warning the guard received. The blade sunk perfectly into his jugular, slicing through his windpipe and ensuring his death. A quiet, strangled gurgle hissed out of his lips, but all too soon the guard collapsed back against the wall, slumping downward as he bled to death.

Sonia waited a few heartbeats, straining her ears as she tried to discern if he'd been heard. But no shouts of warning came from the outside. Indeed, all was perfectly still and quiet in the night.

The guard dispatched, all four Dogs swiftly made their way to the hotel's back entrance. Sonia spared a moment to drag the guard into a nearby hedge and deposited his body there. It didn't hide him at all, but it would help to obscure him from obvious sight all the same.

"There's no telling what we could find in here," Margaret felt the need to warn them all, even as she drew out her pistol. "So we had best be on our guard."

"I think that goes without saying," Sonia wryly remarked. "Still, we have a few seconds to plan things out a bit before we head in. Way I see it, we either try to find the hotel manager's office, or we search the basement. We might find more concrete answers there, and might even have a chance to bag and interrogate the manager himself. But knowing cults, they seem to do most of their dirty deeds in basements, so that alone warrants a thorough check from us. I think those are our two best options right now...unless you've got another suggestion, Leader?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne
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Anna gripped tight at one of her own knives as she waiting with tense anticipation, watching Sonia carefully, and the guard, ready to lash out herself at the first sign of an outcry. But she only needed to release that held breath as she saw Sonia's throw sink into the guard's throat, watching with a cold calm as the man fell twitching and gasping. She glanced back and forth as Sonia hid the body, then looking to the Pack.

"The basement. We are here to hunt men, not papers. If they are gathered, surely that is where they would hide their foulness." She said tersely, her hand shifting from her knife to the grip of her revolver with just as tight of a hold, giving the three Dogs a stern nod. "We will deliver a justice long overdue."

With little else that needed to be said, Anna opened the back door and strode quietly inside.

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne
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The other Dogs followed after her, creeping inside with as much stealth as they could muster. Thankfully there was no one in the immediate area: just an empty hallway that branched off to the left and right, deeper into the building.

At the threshold to the back entrance, the Pack paused for a moment, judging their options. It was all well and good to decide to head to the basement first, but actually finding it could be somewhat trickier than initially anticipated.

Sonia hummed thoughtfully, closing her eyes as she tried to recall the layout of the place. She and Charles hadn't been here long, and they'd come in from the front, originally. Still, after a moment of recollection, she started to speak. "From what I can recall...there weren't an access to the basement from the main elevator. So, I'm thinking they have a separate elevator, or more likely, a different staircase for that. Makes some sense: they likely don't want any guests going down there by accident."

"It's just a matter of figuring out where that other entrance is," Margaret pointed out, her brow furrowed in thought. "A pity we don't have a map. I suppose we'll just have to figure things out the hard way."

"So it seems," Sonia agreed with a slight nod. "So, left or right. Hm, don't know if it matters much, but from the front entrance, the elevator was off to the right. So from the back entrance...that should be our left, I think. So perhaps we try out the rightward path? No doubt the basement is part of some employees only section, away from where the public might wander. So there's a good chance it's not anywhere near the main elevator or stairwell."

"It's as good a guess as any," Margaret allowed.

After Anna and Charles voiced their own agreements, the Pack ventured forward, stalking along the right-forking hallway and deeper still into the building. By some miracle, they did not walk into anyone as they traveled: and a further few minutes of careful walking brought them to another branching hallway. This time, however, each branching path was helpfully marked by a name plate.

KITCHEN, was emblazoned on the placard ahead, the path directly ahead veering toward the left. LAUNDRY was on the nameplate on the wall of the rightmost path. And in the branching left hallway the word, BASEMENT, was engraved on a name plate there.

"Seems we have a firm direction in mind now," Sonia noted with some relief. She glanced toward the left, her hand idly grasping the holster of her gun. "Unless we wanna check out either of the other rooms first? Don't know if anyone would be in the kitchen or laundry room this late at night, but you never know what we might find."

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne
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Anna let Sonia lead the way once they'd stepped inside, though she stayed closed behind her, her revolver tight in her grip and keenly at the ready for the first sound of footsteps that could have been ahead of them.

"They'll keep the guests well away from anything that ain't shiny and clean." Charlies said in agreement to Sonia, standing perfectly at ease behind the three, his revolver drawn as well, his other hand having drawing a sizable bowie knife.

"Left, then." Anna said with a terse calm, her body still rigid with tensing, waiting for the moment of inevitable violcen as they continued further into the building.

She let out a tight, relieved breath at the sign, then looking to Sonia with a quick shake of her head. "No, we can't risk it, or waste more time. We'll trap them in the basement and put them down like the beasts they are."

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne
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Sonia nodded, and from there the pack proceeded with swift certainty. They went down the left hallway, traveling along the corridor until they came to its end. At the end of the hall was a singular door, as well as a solitary bookshelf along the left wall and a stylized panting on the right. There was no nameplate or other marker on the wall or on the door itself, but there remained little doubt that behind this door was their intended destination.

Margaret ventured forward first, grim determination in her eyes as she gripped the doorknob. She turned it to open the door...but found the knob stuck firmly in place. She frowned, and after trying it a few more times, found the door had stayed firmly shut.

"It's locked," she noted with distaste, stepping back as she eyed the door with a critical stare. "And I doubt we have time to go looking around for a key. We should always shoot it open, or break the door down..."

"Ah, but doing that would alert the hotel's denizens that we're here," Sonia countered. "I know we're all ready for a fight...but the longer we can go without calling down hell on our heads, the better. We could try picking the lock instead, maybe."

"With what tools? And do any of us know how to pick locks? They didn't exactly cover this back at the Academy," Margaret noted wryly.

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne
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The lack of any decoration in front of the door only stirred Anna's anticipation further, her grip tightening harder still around her pistol. She drew in a deep breath to steady herself against the flush of adrenaline, moving up close behind Margaret's approach as she drew her pistol from its holster, ready to fire the moment someone appeared on the other side.

And then, the door simply clicked against it's lock. She let out an annoyed hiss of a breath, biting back a curse, while James glanced back from where he'd taken a post to watch the rear.

"Reckon I can give it a try." Charles said with a wry grin to Margaret, opting not to elaborate on where he might have tried to pick a lock or two in his days before the Academy. He fished around his belt, eventually pulling free a small, thin knife meant more for food than anything else. As Anna stepped back, gun still tight in hand, he leaned down close to the lock as he pressed the blade in, carefully starting to wriggle it about.

"We can break it down if we must. It will not be much longer regardless until we are delivering the Word by bullet." Anna said tersely, tensing with impatience as she watched Charles fiddle with the lock.

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne
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It took Charles a good minute, but his efforts soon proved to be fruitful. The lock gave a click, and when he tested the door handle, it opened up with ease. Upon fully opening the door, a long staircase was revealed, the path dimly lit by a descending row of rustic looking chandeliers. The staircase curved toward the right halfway down, denying them a full view of the basement below.

"Well," Margaret remarked after a moment, staring into the abyss with no small amount of wariness. "There's no way to go but down, I suppose. At least we'll be able to keep a somewhat quiet approach for a little while longer."

"Probably not much longer. Like our Leader says, won't be long until we're knee deep in whatever occultist blasphemy they've got going down here," Sonia remarked.

With that said, the group started to venture their way down, Anna leading the vanguard as they descended down the stairs. The walk down was tense, an expectant air of restrained violence hanging between the group as they walked down the stairs. As they followed the curve, Margaret half expected them to run into another party, or to otherwise see things devolve into blood and sweat and gore as hostilities were renewed...

But they met not a soul as they traversed down the stairs. It was only as they neared the bottom that they saw a source of life.

At the base of the stairs...was a maid. She was a plain looking woman, dressed in a simple black uniform befitting of a higher-end hotel. She carried no visible weapon, and seemed utterly unsurprised at their presence as they reached the bottom of the stairs.

"Good evening, Madam Dog," the maid began, a pleasant smile on her face. She gave a small curtsy, displaying an almost disturbing amount of professionalism, even as Anna reflexively pointed a gun at her head. "We have been expecting you. Have you come to join the Feast?"

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne
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Anna just managed to restrain her urge to pace, if not outright stalk, back and forth behind Charles as she waited for him to wriggle the lock open, both of them murmuring a brief thanks to the Lord when it did finally give way. Charles quickly stepped to the side with a curt nod to Anna as she swept past him, intent on being the first through the door no matter the danger, offering no further words of encouragement to the other Dogs, trusting them to follow her into the darkness. Charles gestured for Sonia and Margaret to follow after her, clearly intent on letting his larger size provide one form of protection or another if anyone came after them from behind.

With her revolver sweeping up, Anna descended with as much caution as she could restrain herself with, that restraint keeping her from shooting the maid as soon as she caught sight of her. Her grip nonetheless tightened, even as she glared hard at the woman. "Show me to them." She snapped, still not looking back to the other Dogs, only holding her hand up with a flick of her fingers in a signal for them to keep watch on their flanks. Anna kept her gaze fixed intently on the maid, ready to shoot at the first flicker of any sudden movement she might make to attempt a surprise attack.

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne
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The mystery maid kept up her cool demeanor, nodding simply at Anna before turning around and leading them deeper into the basement. Torches lined the walls, giving some semblance of light as they walked along: the resulting illumination painted a stark picture of the basement itself.

It seemed...far larger than it had any right to be, by Margaret's reckoning. The ceilings went on high, and the basement itself was made up of large, cavernous rooms filled with all sorts of troublesome devices. Margaret could glimpse a set of shackles set into the wall more than once: and through the dim light of the lit torches, she saw what seemed to be a wooden rack. This outer area of the basement...it didn't seem to be in use currently, but clearly, they had made use of it in the past for all sorts of devilish tortures. Perhaps this was where this cult, or whatever was going on here, had kept their prisoners?

It seemed ill-boding, then, that there were no prisoners to be found now...

Finally, the maid led them to a doorway at the end of the basement's outer chamber. The maid pushed the doors open, revealing a meeting room within. The room itself was well lit in stark contrast to the rest of the basement, though the inhabitants were hard to make out all the same. A dozen men sat cloistered around a table set with food, each of them cloaked in a dark robe, hoods drawn over their heads to obscure their faces. As one the group turned to stare at them, which only made the unease Margaret currently felt grow evermore present.

"Well, isn't this a most delightful surprise? Here we had people searching all over the city for you, and now we find you have come to our doorsteps of your own volition!" one of the hooded figures at the table mused aloud. The figure's voice sounded achingly familiar to Margaret, before a spark of memory revealed the truth to her.

The figure pulled down their hood, and sure enough, Margaret saw that Father Mycroft, Head Abbott of the First Church of Abernathy, was the one to greet them. Yet another high-placed figure in the city, proven to be deeply in bed with the conspiracy festering at the Heart of Abernathy. Just how far did things go? And how could a man of the cloth go so far as to betray his own oaths in such a foul manner?

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne
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Anna kept revolver raised and steady, tense with anticipation and restrained fury. A trap that it might have been, she had to let the cultist led the Dogs towards the rest of her ilk. She didn't let herself dwell on the restraints that had surely been used on the murdered Dogs, only striding forward after the maid. She said nothing, trusting that the Dogs would follow her, and shoot when the moment was right.

Her gaze barely left the maid's back even as they entered the chamber ahead, a glare flicking ever so swiftly across the hooded figures. Though, she did double take as the one pulled away the hood to reveal himself.

"Speak, then." She sneered to the abbott, turning her revolver to him, still careful to keep sight of the maid, tense and ready for any sudden movement from her. "Tell me what grand revelation has turned you from the face of the Lord. Tell me what you think will save you from the damnation to come by my hand."

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne
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"My dear, I believe you misunderstand me. I have not turned my face from the Lord. I have merely been...enlightened, about the true nature of the One True God. The Book of Life claims that the Faith as we know it has been perverted time and again by Lucifer and his demonic allies. They turned the Jews, the Christians, the Muslims, and all the other heathen religions against our Creator. Perverted His teachings. But...that is not the only perversion that has been committed here," Father Mycroft proclaimed. He gave Anna a thin-lipped smile, steeping his fingers together as he watched her.

"I suppose we can add heresy to your list of crimes," Margaret noted, though her tone was strained and rather forced. Her hand strayed to her gunbelt, not pulling her pistol out just yet...but clearly, she was ready to at any moment.

"Ah, but it is not I who has committed heresy here. It is...the rest of the Faith. The true teachings of the Great Prophet were distorted after his death: changed to better suit the narrative his heretical successors wished to project," Mycroft boldly proclaimed. "Hm...but, I think I shall refrain from any further discussion about the True Faith. After all, as you all are now, I doubt you'll be so open to hearing the truth. That is why I have a proposal for you. For all of you."

"You're speaking like you even have any power here," Sonia pointed out. Unlike Margaret, she had her pistol gripped tightly in her hand, though she wasn't pointing it at anyone just yet. "I don't see any armed guards here. Just you, the maid, and the rest of you robed freaks."

Mycroft smiled wide, and just for a moment, it seemed as if his eyes changed colors. A sickly, pale yellow appeared to flash over his iris, though just as quickly it was gone: replaced by the normal cerulean color of his eyes. Assuming it had even changed in the first place. Perhaps it was just a trick of the light.

"My child, you may think you hold the advantage, but rest assured...I am not powerless here," Mycroft declared with a deep, menacing tone.

The tension seemed to increase in the air: it felt as if a powder keg would ignite, if anyone said or did anything else. No one so much as moved in that moment, perhaps knowing full well that one false movement, one wrong move, and the whole thing would turn into a bloodbath.

A bloodbath for which side, though, was the question.

"So humor us," Margaret spoke first, breaking the silence as she eyed Mycroft hard. The others would be unable to tell, given how little they knew of her, but Anna would see it: there was a spark of fear in her gaze. Something he had done or said had truly shaken her friend, or so it seemed. "What is this deal you speak of?"

"It is good to know you Dogs still have manners," Mycroft chuckled. "But yes, the deal. Let's get to that, shall we? You four have proven so very vexing and improbably hard to kill...I have to admit, I'm impressed. You're all so very much like the two Dogs that came before you: investigative to a fault, and harder than a cockroach to kill. That is why I want to offer you a choice. The skills you all possess could no doubt prove themselves...valuable to our cause. So: join us. Join our Righteous Crusade against the Corruption within the heart of the Faith. Pledge yourselves to the True Face of God Almighty, and be reborn as his soldiers on Earth. With that, all of your prior sins will be forgiven, and you shall all be spared an agonizing death."

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne
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Each breath was slow and measured. The revolver in her hand perfectly still, leveled at the abbott's heart. Anna had certainly killed men for lesser heresies spoken before her. But she could not deny that he was too confident for a man staring down the barrel of a gun. Madness, perhaps, but if not...

She gripped her pistol tighter, though her trigger finger never shifted in the slightest. She nearly pulled the trigger at that moment when she saw the strange flicker in his eyes. Nearly. But he was too confident. Gritting her teeth, Anna fumed silently at how she had let the heretic rattle her as his boasting continued.

She was willing to die for the Faith, and more than willing to kill for it. Her ​gaze flicked to Margaret for the briefest of moments.

Lord, please let her live.

Behind her, Charles's breath caught tightly in his throat. The madness in the air was almost too much for him, more than he had ever thought to face when he first became a Dog. For all the madness he had seen in the war, he had only seen animalistic brutality of soldiers, not the cold, scheming cruelty of the preacher before him. Nonetheless, he kept his hand on his revolver, waiting for the inevitable moment.

"I see no power here." Anna sneered, stalling, her gaze quickly turning about past the preacher for any hint of danger, knowing she could not, and would not, stall for long. "Only a deluded, old wretch."

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne
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#, as written by Magus1108
"My dear girl, there is a power here beyond your comprehension at work. And He Who Walks the Desert Night, our true God, is generous beyond belief with the strength he grants to his believers," Father Mycroft imperiously proclaimed. He granted Anna a dark smile, and leaned back in his chair, seemingly uncaring of the growing tension in the air.

"Still, it is a pity. So, no deal then. Such a shame. Our Lord could work such miracles through all of you...still, there is no need for bloodshed. If you will not work with us, there could yet be an arrangement to be made. Truth be told, this is not the first time you Dogs have stumbled upon what we have here. Your predecessors took neither offer, but in the past...well, in the past, the Dogs have not always been so strict in their doctrine."

Mycroft trailed off, another infuriating smile tugging at his lips. He could tell he had Anna's attention now, however, as well as that of the rest of the group. Allegations of corruptions among the Watchdogs was a serious declaration, after all: even if it came from a mouth as untrustworthy as his.

"Every man has their price. An indulgence that they cave to, at the end of the day. Perhaps a special tithing would be in order, Sonia? You and your husband have had trouble paying off your debts: the farm isn't as profitable as it used to be, and for all their piety, the Dogs do not pay much better than a town sheriff. What about you, Charles? Do you miss your family back in Virginia? Arrangements could be made: they could come to see the Lord in the same light as you. Or perhaps you'd rather see the men you fought alongside with given their due? And Anna...your dear Horatio, so like a father to you. Haunted all his life by the tragedies that defined him. It would be no issue at all to ease his burden, and give him the man he's been searching for all these years, so he can have his final revenge. And Margaret--!"

"Save your breath," she immediately interrupted. "I have no intention of accepting any false deal that you offer."

Mycroft smiled thinly at her, and glanced back toward Anna. "So you say now. But you would follow this woman in a heartbeat, wouldn't you? You trust her judgement. And if she wanted to make an arrangement..."

Margaret pursed her lips tightly, but refused to take the bait either way. Mycroft merely chuckled at her lack of reply, and focused his attention fully back onto Anna.

"The choice is yours, Watchdog. There are many miracles and wonders that the true God can bring about...your lives could become heaven on earth, if you so desired. All you would need to do is...look the other way. Find a scapegoat, and parade them in front of your superiors: hell, I'll give you the Sheriff, if you want her. A corrupt lawman brought to justice! The true madwoman behind all those fires...wouldn't that make for a lovely end to this story? And you'd never have to worry about the town of Abernathy again. What say you, Dog?"