Dogs in Almighty God's Vineyard

Dogs in Almighty God's Vineyard

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The King of Life has called upon you to be God's Watchdog, a defender of The Faith, the hammer upon which you beat men until they are purified. Can you answer the call, and do your best to defend and promote The Faith?

5,240 readers have visited Dogs in Almighty God's Vineyard since Magus1108 created it.

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

Introduction

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This is the west that never quite was.

It's an alternate version of history, loosely based on Mormon life in the 1800's. I say loosely, because this religion, that I shall call "The Faith," is not really the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormon preachers don't shoot sinners in the street. But you might.

You see, imagine a rocky desert like Utah, Nevada, and the like, with snaking rivers and impressive cliffs. Imagine indigenous mountain peoples ("Indians," if you will) living on the plains. Imagine a mighty city of zealots flanked by four huge waterfalls. Imagine a religious group that the United States territorial authority butts heads with often. Imagine cowboys armed with "The Book of Life" dragging out a whore by her hair and forcing her to repent or face the wrath of God.

Can you kind of see the picture here? Are you interested? Let me be more clear:

Who are you: The watchdogs of God. Your character is a cross between an inquisitor, a missionary, an exorcist, and a monk. You carry both scriptures and bullets, you bring both blessings and judgment.

What's going on: A lot. Mountain folk don't like white man encroaching upon their turf. Sinners don't like repenting. Towns don't like their dirt being pulled up for all to see. The Territorial Authority doesn't like the Faith's habit of foregoing standard trials for confession and repentance.

Where are you?: A beautiful rocky desert with a couple forests to the north and more than a few natural wonders. Lots of dust. Lots of grime and grit. Lots of blood, and lots of frontier justice.

When is all this?: 1800's. Think cowboys and westerns, complete with big hats, horses, six-shooters and Clint Eastwood.

Why are you doing what you're doing?: Because the King of Life or one of his counselors called you to be God's Watchdog, a defender of the Faith, the hammer upon which you beat men until they are purified. Maybe your character is a convert from the East and it's industrial worldliness and filth. Maybe you were raised by the Mountain people and are the token ethnic [email protected]$$ Native American "Aragorn" of the group. Maybe you were raised in the Faith. Whatever the case is, you are a Dog, and you work in God's Vineyard.

How do you do it?: Prayer. Faith. Exhortation. Blessing babies. Shooting sinners. It's difficult, but straightforward. What nobody tells you is that the hardest part of being a Dog is to keep believing you are really what you think you are. When bullets bounce off your coat and when you are calling the dead by name to draw breath once more, you might think you're preaching the truth. When you're bleeding on the ground, when farmer Jeremiah kills his wife, when you saw humanity in that sinner's eyes, you might lose your faith. Just remember, I'm not telling you if The Faith your character belongs to is true or not. I'll leave it to you.

THEMES

Redemption. Forgiveness. Fair enough.

Death, loss, grief, doubt. Dramatic.

Shooting, brawling, chasing on horseback. Good fun.

Is the Faith true? I don't know. Just don't be obvious, like have glowing miracles occur or demons appear or something. Play it straight. Pretend the world is like real life; as long as I'm talking about it, remember, no Rambo stunts, please.

Otherwise, just remember that I want this game to be DRAMATIC. I want tragedy. I want angsty characters (but if more than one person pulls the "my parents died" card I'm gonna be peeved). Your characters can be male or female, of any able age and marital status. The only tie that binds is your status as a Dog. This means you can declare doctrine. Yes you heard me, you can make up the religion's rules on the spot. Just keep it real, alright? No "sacrifice a donkey," let's play it like a psuedo-christian cult.

The Faith doesn't take kindly to loners; the Dogs work as a group. All Dogs have a long, patch-work coat worn at all times as an emblem of their position, a sturdy horse, a Book of Life, a jar of consecrated earth (holy dirt to sprinkle during rituals or something), and some form of gun.

Game System

You will post what your character does, and you can go ahead and describe whatever you want, so long as you don't resolve the action wholesale. Make sure you leave room for everyone to contribute meaningfully to a situation. Don't be a butt-hole; I know RPers are mature and courteous, so I have very high expectations.

I will adjudicate only FINAL RESOLUTION, that is, you can describe anything short of obviously ending the conflict. I'll decide the final outcome after the dust settles. Note that the more your character sacrifices, the more likely he is to win (getting hit with bullets or taking insults to heart is sure to win my sympathy).

Other Stuff

The Faith moved to the west to escape persecution. The Territorial Authority, although not at war with the Faith, is often at odds with it, as their goals are usually the same but their means differ vastly. The Mountain Folk don't like the Faith, but the Faithful like them enough to try converting them, with limited success. It is said that the ancestors of the Mountain Folk were once Faithful, but they fell away long before the white man came.

Your characters are expected to travel from town to town, bless babies, officiate at weddings and such, and purge sinners. The adventure style will be episodic, with each town having it's own "episode."

At the moment we require a minimum of three Dogs to play the game; so we'll need at least two other players, as I'll be taking a Dog myself, of course, and I'm only allowing one character per person. I might allow the creation of characters that aren't Dogs, and perhaps let people have more than 1 character, but that's for later. I'm not too sure how many people will be interested here, so for now, I'm just limiting character creation to Dogs only.

At maximum, having at least five players/Dogs (myself included) altogether would be wonderful, but the last two slots are optional, so it can just be the three of us to do things, really.

List of characters:

Dog #1: Magus1108 (Horatio)
Dog #2:
Dog #3:
(Optional) Dog #4: Nekriist (Otto)
(Optional) Dog #5: Hyperewok (Anna)

Character Creation Sheet:

Code: Select all
[font="century gothic"][center][size=200]CHARACTER NAME[/size]

[img]Insert Image URL here.[/img][/center]

[b]Age:[/b]
[b]Gender:[/b]
[b]Ethnicity/Race:[/b] (What race are they? Black, white, hispanic, Native American, etc etc)
[b]Level of Faith:[/b] (How Faithful is your Dog? Are they true Believers? Are they having doubts or a crisis of Faith? Have they lost their Faith? Or do they just pretend to believe, for one reason or another?)
[b]Years of Service:[/b] (How long have they been a Dog? A couple of decades? Five to ten years? Or are they quite green in their experience, with less than a year or two under their belt? Perhaps they're even fresh out of the academy?)
[b]Weapons/Equipment:[/b] (What sort of equipment or items do you carry, aside from the obligatory gun, the Book of Life, and jar of consecrated earth? And please have any items you have be period specific. No cell phones or other modern technology allowed.)

[b]Personality[/b]
   
This should be at least one paragraph.

[b]History[/b]
   
This does not have to be extensive, but at least one to two paragraphs.

[b]Goals[/b]

What are some of your characters goals in life? What do they aspire to be, or what do they aspire to do?

[b]Likes[/b][list]
   
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[b]Dislikes[/b][list]
   
[*]
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Toggle Rules

Da Rulez:

1. No god-moding Or thou shalt be smited
2. The GM will have the final say in conflict resolutions Big Brother Is Watching
3. Obey the Roleplay Gateway rules Don’t fight the man
4. Stick to the Character Sheet Can’t live without a skeleton
5. Minimum post length of 200 words. No one-liners, give your fellow RPers something to work with. And please keep the grammatical/spelling errors to a minimum.
6. Stay Active Life happens, but the roleplay needs to keep moving. If you know you won’t be able to post at least every other day for some reason or another, let us know in OOC and write yourself to somewhere where you won’t hold up other posters.
7. If you are abducted by aliens and Disappear… I reserve the right to GM your character out of the way if you disappear and your last action is holding up other players. I will try to interfere as minimally as possible in such a situation, but depending on who your character is/what they are doing I may have to make major decisions for you. You have been warned…
8. PM or OOC plot suggestions, things you think would be neat or would otherwise like to see. No promises, but I’m open to input and good ideas
9:There is a limit At the moment, I am imposing a limit of 1 character per person. That could change in the near future, but for now, it stays.
10: Interest Dwindling? Be Honest If you're losing interest in this RP, please, just be honest and upfront with me, and tell me you wanna drop out. I can't count the number of times people just stopped posting, and didn't respond to my PMs when I prodded them. It's so annoying, and I just wanna cut through that bullshit.
11: Have fun! Having a good and enjoyable time RPing is what this game is most about. So make sure to have a blast!

The Story So Far... Write a Post » as written by 4 authors

Characters Present

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

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Sheriff Mills shook Anna's offered hand, nodding as she spoke. "Of course. I can give you the full story, as I know it, back in my office. If you'll follow me?"

That said, the Sheriff turned, leading the Dogs out of the train station and into town proper. A bustling and growing city met them, with people moving to and fro as they went about their daily business. She led them down the street toward her office, pointing out various local businesses of interest and other such sights. Nothing too remarkable, though the Sheriff did mention three places that might be pertinent to their investigation:

There was, of course, the town church. Well, churches. Abernathy was an urban city, having close to 30,000 souls who lived there regularly, and so of course there were multiple churches, of different faiths, all over the city. Abernathy had been much smaller before the railroad came, hosting a tenth of that number. After the arrival of the railroad, however, its population boomed, leading to it becoming one of the premier cities in the Deseret. Of course, its population paled in comparison to the over 100,000 souls who lived in New Life, but for a city that had held less than 500 people during the sixties and seventies, it was an impressive number.

Regardless, the Sheriff had pointed out a few of the churches they passed their way. Overwhelmingly, most of the churches in Abernathy were of the Faith, but there was also a smattering of Protestant churches in town, and one Jewish synagogue, according to the Sheriff. One church in particular stood out though: the First Church of Abernathy, so named for being the oldest, and first, church founded in the city. The Head Abbot of Abernathy would likely be stationed there, which meant there was a good chance he had talked to, or perhaps seen, the missing Dogs. Even if he hadn't, the local head priest would no doubt be a good source of information to learn more about the town.

The second location of interest was the Hotel Lancaster, a hotel near the train station that typically catered to rich and wealthy visitors, as well as the local elite. According to the Sheriff, the two missing Dogs had been offered rooms there, free of charge. They had stayed there for at least three nights, it seemed, though the Sheriff didn't know more beyond that. After Meyer and Mayfield were reported missing, Sheriff Mills had her deputies lock down the hotel rooms they'd used, so the investigators from New Life could check them out. Searching their hotel rooms would certainly be a good first stop, or near it, after they talked with the Sheriff.

Finally, the last location of note...wasn't so much a building, but what remained of it. They passed through a block of buildings that had obviously been damaged by a recent fire: most of the buildings present in that block showed varying levels of smoke and fire damage, with the epicenter of the fire located square in the middle. The epicenter had the worst of it, with only scorched remains left from the burnt out building.

Sheriff Mills murmured darkly as they passed that block, remarking that a fire had popped up in the area three weeks prior. She said no more than that, however, and simply insisted she'd elaborate further in her office.

Finally, they reached it, stopping before a building simply marked, 'Sheriff'. Jane Mills stepped inside, gesturing for the Dogs to join her. Unlike more rural sheriff offices, her office did not double as a jail, and instead was just a small building that housed the police officers assigned to this district in Abernathy, as well as her own walled-off office.

Once they were inside her office, Sheriff Mills closed the door behind them. She took a seat behind the desk arranged in the center of the room, and gestured for the Dogs to take the seats displayed in front of the desk. "I imagine you must have quite a few questions for me, Miss Ward. Well, I'm not sure I have all the answers you're looking for. I had my boys do a preliminary investigation when we got word that the Dogs went missing, but we haven't been too successful. Where do you want to begin?"

Characters Present

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

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Abernathy was more than familiar to Charles, in a sense, despite not having been to the city himself before. He had passed through dozen of boom towns that had exploded in size thanks to the railroad, when he had been working for the railroads themselves. He was hardly surprised to hear the sheriff speak of the diverse number of people in the city, as much as he knew some of his fellows within the Faith might believe, or at least wish, otherwise. Of course, it was only likely a city brimming with the Faithful that would tolerate a woman being their sheriff. He had to give credit to Mills, given the number of other people in the city that surely could not be so open minded. As they walked through the city, he only listened silently, observing the city around them.

"Been no trouble otherwise, Sheriff?" He drawled, once they arrived in her office, peering at her. The missing Dogs had surely asked such a question, even if they were only intending to pass through Abernathy. It was a Dogs' duty to mete out justice, even in the smallest forms, and some times troubles were easily and swiftly solved, if only because a brothel keeper couldn't do much staring down the barrel of a Dogs' revolver. And there was that look Mills had given the blackened ruin they had passed."What about that fire?"

Characters Present

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

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Sheriff Mills glanced over at Charles, frowning a bit as she mulled over her response. Her eyes narrowed a bit at the mention of the fire: it seemed to be a sore subject for her.

"There's always trouble, but that's to be expected in a city as big as Abernathy. Mostly petty stuff though. We've got our town drunks, our roughhousers, and other sorts of trouble-makers. Nothing too serious, aside from the occasional robbery or murder. And those get solved...or they don't. All in all, nothing you wouldn't expect to see in a city this size. About the biggest problem I've had to date is a moving brothel in town. It's...come to my attention that some sinners are running a moving brothel, of sorts, through town. It switches its location every week, and the people working for it are pretty secretive. I've really only heard rumors, and my investigations into it haven't turned up much." Sheriff Mills elaborated. The older woman sounding a bit frustrated as she described that last part.

All in all, nothing too surprising, mobile brothel aside. With a city this close to New Life, it was actually pretty bold to host such an institution here. But if they kept themselves mobile, never staying in a particular house or building for too long, then it made sense why the owners and workers had evaded capture for so long. And of course the patrons of such a place would be secretive and quiet about it, least its latest location be leaked to the police.

The rest, though, sounded mundane and simple enough. Minor crimes, even the occasional big one like murder or robbery, weren't entirely unexpected in a city the size of Abernathy. And unless something really went wrong, it was usually a simple matter for the city police to handle such things themselves.

"As to the fire...that is a somewhat long and complicated story." the Sheriff continued, a troubled frown crossing her withered face. "The fire itself happened three weeks ago, or thereabouts. Started in the middle of the night, and spread to the entire block. Thank the King of Life that our fire brigade managed to contain it there, though. We were able to quell the flames from there, until the fire burned itself out. Most everyone in that block were able to make it out alive, though some suffered burns or inhaled too much smoke. The Watson family wasn't so lucky, though. We believe the fire started at their house...and far as we've been able to tell, everyone died. We never found the body of the youngest there, a girl of thirteen, but her older brother and parents were found dead.

"That's not the whole story, however. Like I said, this is...a complicated matter." she said. That troubled expression still on Sheriff Mills' face as she spoke. "It's not unusual for fires to start now and again. Either through peoples stupidity, or the forces of nature. But this...is different. I have reason to believe that fire was started intentionally."

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 as she listened to the sheriff's description of a mobile brothel. It was a remarkably clever scheme. It had to be, certainly, to persist in a city so populated by the Faithful. That persistence and cleverness make it all the more corruptive, to fester in the heart of such a city. Under better circumstances, she would have relished such a chase, but as necessary as it was, it hardly seemed something that her missing comrades would have become involved in, in a city they were only passing through under direct orders to meet herself and Horatio at Red Road. Anna certainly expected that those profiting from the brothel would kill to keep their ill gotten gains, but it seemed too unlikely that her comrades could have found a great revelation from the passing curiosity, as short as their time in the city seemed to have been.

She glanced off idly as the sheriff continued her report through crimes that seemed even less likely to have troubled the other Dogs, her gaze snapping back to Mills at the mention of the missing child. The gnawing ache from the thought of the Red Road children welled up in her chest, but she stamped down on those feelings, only letting out the faintest exhale of a tight breath. It was a flagrant leap of judgement to assume a connection, to be sure, brought upon only by her frustration from that tragedy. The reality was that it was regrettably easy for the small body of a child to be lost in such a large fire, after all.

"We will inquire with the abbot and then search the hotel rooms. Thank you for your help, Sheriff Mills." Anna said, once Mills had finished, tipping her hat to her before turning and stepping back outside. She looked to her comrades once they had left the sheriff to her business. "We will have to be cautious here. It is quite likely the others did not expect an ambush in such a settled city and that may have been their downfall. Lord willing, the abbot will be able to point us to their trail, and if some foul wretch tries to interfere, then we will have someone to question."

Characters Present

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

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"You said something about the fire being intentional?" Margaret questioned, before they left. "Mind explaining that?"

Sheriff Mills gave a nod. "Yes. I don't have any concrete proof...just a suspicion, really. But there are too many coincidences to ignore here. Four years ago, there was a terrible fire in Abernathy. A quarter of the city ended up being destroyed. We've managed to rebuild since then, but a lot of good people lost their lives. The year after that fire, on the exact anniversary...another fire sprouted up. We managed to contain it just to the block it originated in, however. At the time, I thought it was just a cruel coincidence. Then...the next year, on that same day, another fire. I was suspicious by that point, but there wasn't anything I could prove: if anything, people here were more inclined to believe it a curse from the Dark King. Then...just a few weeks ago, the 3rd anniversary came, and on that day, there was yet another fire.

"Like I said, I don't have any proof. But at this point, I'm confident we have a serial arsonist in town. I don't know why they're making fires on the anniversary of that awful day year after year, but I
know someone has to be behind it. Once is coincidence, twice is a cruel twist of fate, and three times is intentional. Someone in my city is setting fires the same day every year, but I have no idea who." the Sheriff declared.

Margaret pursed her lips at that, a troubled look overcoming her face as she heard the tale. One, even two times, she could buy it as coincidence. Three times, however, proved intent. Someone in this city had to be setting fires once every year: maybe they were even behind that original, devastating fire four years ago. Either way, it seemed a good chance that there was an arsonist running about.

...Well, maybe not. One other possibility crossed her mind. But Margaret truly hoped this was just the work of some cruel man, and not...something else. The last time she'd encountered 'something else', her entire Pack had been burned alive.

Once the group was assembled outside, Margaret turned her attention to Anna. She nodded at her words, finding them agreeable enough. "Do you want us to split up, then, Anna? One team could go question the Head Abbot, and the other investigate the hotel room. Of course...staying together for safety's sake might be best, too. If Meyer and Mayfield were ambushed in town, we have no idea what lengths their attackers will go to to cover up their crimes."

Characters Present

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

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Charles idly stroked his beard as he listened to the sheriff. More trouble than expected, for sure, but such was the nature of a city. At least, a city that wasn't the Faith's capital, but holy cities surely were the exception, not the norm. The sheriff's suspicion of an arsonist made sense to Charles, but if the anniversary had passed, the trail was certainly cold. His lips curled up in amusement at that wordplay, but he quickly pursed his lips back into a poker face, lest that rigid young woman of a Pack leader think he was finding some amusement from the dire straits of Abernathy. But clearly Anna didn't seem intending to pursue that trail either and Charles just tipped his hat to the sheriff with a friendly smile before following his comrades outside.

"Reckon we could split up, two's safe enough company. We sure know to be cautious. The poor souls we're tracking prolly didn't think to expect an ambush, in a place like that." He frowned solemnly at the thought, one he expected that other Dogs might not be so willing to entertain. The Dogs may have had training to match the most grizzled of gunslingers that he'd seen in his travels, and the Lord's blessings on top of that, but they were still ultimately only men, and the Faith certainly taught that only the King of Life was infallible among mankind.

Characters Present

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

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Sonia nodded in agreement, finding the idea sensible. Of course, Anna would be the ultimate say in the matter, but splitting up into teams, to cover more ground, made the most logical sense to her.

"If we're splitting up, how should we do it, and who'll cover what?" she inquired, looking over at their Pack Leader. "I don't mind teaming up with Charles, and checking out the hotel. We can leave the Head Abbott to you and Margaret, and meet back near here in say...an hour or so? That should give both teams enough time to do their business."

That seemed like enough time to her to follow these first two leads, and maybe check into any further ones that might spring forward from there. And once an hour had passed, they could reconvene here, or back at the sheriff's office proper, and compare notes. Once they had a good idea of the timeline here, of how long Meyer and Mayfield had stayed in-town and where they'd gone, it would hopefully be an easy matter to find out where and when they had disappeared.

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Anna looked among her newfound pack as she considered, her jaw set rigidly in concentration. Splitting up could be a risk, given the threats that could be arrayed before them. Such threats had ambushed two other Dogs, after all, unaware as they may have been. But that trail could grow cold if she led her pack too cautiously. And Sonia was no pup herself, to be offering her counsel.

"I agree." She said, perhaps with a hint of sentiment as she looked to Margaret. That small selfishness of time with an old friend was surely no great falling. Sonia and Charles certainly had every indication of competent Dogs in their own right and it was best that she as the Pack Leader saw to the city's Head Abbott. "I will need to see to the abbott myself and Margaret can accompany me. We must presume that we are in danger while we remain in the city, as our comrades were. We will have to act with great care. But we still must be swift enough to bring this evil to light. We'll meet here at the sheriff's office in an hour, and Lord willing, we will have better leads to pursue by then."

She nodded to Sonia and Charlies, before promptly heading off towards the church with Margaret in tow. "It's good we have time together, at least, ill news aside." Anna said idly to Margaret as they continued through the street. "It's been far too long."

Characters Present

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

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"Indeed. It has been far too long since we last saw one another." Margaret replied, nodding slightly at Anna. A small smile tugging at her lips, as she walked alongside her old friend. Indeed, it had been too long since they'd last seen each other. Exchanging letters was fine and all, but it was nothing compared to physically being together with a loved one or friend.

"I will admit, though, I cannot help but feel slightly jealous. We graduated at the same time, but here you are: commanding your own Pack before I do. It must feel satisfying to some degree, no?" she continued on a moment later, her tone light and teasing as she playfully elbowed Anna.

"Alms? Alms for the poor?" came a distant voice, not long after Anna's reply.

They weren't far from the First Church of Abernathy now, but Margaret felt compelled to see where the voice had come from. She found it soon enough: it seemed to be the voice of a disheveled looking homeless woman. She was sitting against the wall of a butcher's shop, holding out a wide-brimmed hat as she begged for money on the street. The denizens of Abernathy passed her by without a second thought though, most walking by her without even looking at the poor woman.

And Margaret felt that same urge, some quiet voice in her mind urging her to pay the woman no heed, to go about her business and keep going to the church. To ignore her, like everyone else, and resume her duties. Her better sensibilities fought against that notion however: with the certainty that ignoring that poor woman's plight was morally wrong and a sin. Indeed, her training as a Dog, and her moral upbringing, made her certain of that. But then, where was that urge to ignore her coming from?

Characters Present

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

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Charles strolled down the street in the other direction alongside Sonia, whistling idly to himself and giving every impression of one casually as off-guard as anyone would be in a city that certainly wasn't rife with gunslingers and robbers anymore. But he was still carefully listening to and watching his surroundings, his eyes darting back and forth subtly as he glanced towards the corners of buildings as soon as the two of them were starting to pass by, before his gaze would then turn back to the crowds of city folk going about their day. That was the problem of such a large city that was not so safe as all those poor souls thought. Even if there was only the sherriff's problems to deal with, sinners and madmen all seeking to sate their dark urges, such things lurked under the pristine vision of even this Faithful city. He let out a low, amused breath to himself at the thought. At least on the frontier, the threats and the sins were all flagrantly apparent. Gunslingers settled their grudges at midday, at least usually. And the ones without such decency only had so many places to ambush from in the ramshackle mining towns that barely had a half dozen buildings to even call it a town.

But satisfied enough for the moment that an ambush wasn't immediately imminent, he let his gaze turn back to his compatriot, the Dog rugged and worn with age, even more than he was. He certainly hadn't met many Dogs that looked nearly so old, certainly to be expected in such a calling, but he was obliged to admit to himself that he was hardly a young blood himself. Instead, he just cracked a friendly grin as he spoke. "Reckon they even bunked the night at the hotel? I figured some of y'all ain't comfortable at the thought of fine living, even for a night."

Characters Present

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

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"Some might not, but I'd consider such a blessing from the Lord. Besides, if someone offers me free bed and board, who am I to say no?" Sonia countered, smiling lightly as she glanced over at Charles. "Of course, that's just how I'd view it. It's always possible Meyer and Mayfield were more frugal and uncomfortable with accepting such an offer. I suppose we'll find out soon enough, either way."

Had she been in Mayfield or Meyer's place, Sonia definitely would have accepted such an offer. Living piously was a good goal of course, but one could also agrue that a free stay at a first class hotel could be a gift from the Lord, and so they should accept such an offer based on that premise. That was how Sonia viewed the matter, at least. She knew plenty of Dogs might disagree with her...but, having lived as long as she had, she honestly wouldn't pass up a night at a free room in a hotel. She'd slept on the cold hard ground, on lice-infested beds, on hardwood floors, and everything inbetween. One night of creature comforts wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, and besides, it wasn't like anyone could say the Lord wouldn't approve of his Dogs taking up such an offer. The Book of Life certainly praised a humble lifestyle, but it also said to accept gifts at face-value, and to not spit on the generosity of others.

At any rate, it didn't take long to reach the Hotel Lancaster. Once they walked in, a rather impressive and stylized foyer would greet them. Between the plush red carpeting and the expensive-looking chairs and sofas, the hotel's lobby reeked of wealth and upper-class living. Definitely the sort of hotel a traveling businessman would stay at, and similar clientele. Interesting that the owner of the hotel offered two Dogs a free stay, then. Perhaps he or she was a Devout person?

Regardless, Sonia walked over to the front desk, nodding lightly at the clerk sitting behind it. It was an older gentleman, perhaps near Carver's age, dressed in a formal suit. The man couldn't help but look at the two of them with slight disdain, taking in their more gruff appearances, but one look at the guns holstered at their sides stayed any choice words the front desk manager had for them.

"Welcome to the Hotel Lancaster. How may I...help the two of you today?" he inquired, as he quickly adopted a pleasant and friendly smile.

Characters Present

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

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Anna smirked wryly in return, nudging Margaret back. "You'll have your own pack soon enough. I had the blessing of a good mentor for these last few years. It is satisfying, but..." She still would have gladly stepped back down for the chance to work with Horatio on another mission, especially one with such dark tidings. But all she could do was briefly pray once more that his own search would be successful, and return her focus to her own. "But I still would hope it would not be too soon that you are off with your own. I would like for us to be able to ride together for awhile longer." She said with another faint smile, before pausing as she followed Margaret's gaze to the beggar

She wrinkled her nose with distaste at the sight of the beggar. It was a blemish on the city's preacher, to leave one of his flock adrift, instead of guiding him towards honest labor. There were no beggars in New Life, after all. But chastising preachers for such a minor matter was far from her duties, even without such a vital mission as there was now. She would need the preacher's full focus on the missing Dogs when she questioned him. She simply took a coin from her coat pocket, giving the woman a cursory glance as she tossed the coin into her hat and continued onwards. There was too much work to be done already and Anna strode onwards up to the steps of the church.

Characters Present

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

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Margaret spared one last glance toward the beggar, before moving along with Anna. There was something odd about her, something that nagged at her mind, but she didn't have time to really dwell on the matter. Instead, she walked up the steps with her companion, getting up there first and opening the front door for the both of them.

"Worry not, Anna. I'm sure we'll be riding together for some time." she replied to her friend's last words, even as her eyes took in the sight of the church itself.

The front door opened to a wide and opulent looking chapel. Pews made up the majority of the space, at least on the first floor. Margaret spotted a door near the entrance that was closed, which she supposed might lead up to the second story of the building itself. To the back of the chapel there was a large podium, likely where the priest spoke from. And in the back, see could see more closed doors: either other entrances to the floors above, or they led into a different area, perhaps a kitchen or a room for prayer.

Thankfully, they wouldn't have to go about searching for the Father, as they spotted him near the back of the pews, sitting on one of the benches and reading the Book of Life. And as the Dogs approached, he looked up from his holy book, perhaps sensing their presence.

He stood up to greet them, smiling kindly at them. He seemed to be an older man, perhaps in his fifties or sixties. While he may not have been old enough to have been one of the town's founders, certainly he seemed old enough to have seen Abernathy change and develop these last few decades. Growing from a small frontier town, to one of the most populous cities in the Deseret, only behind New Life itself in terms of population and prestige. It made Margaret wonder how the old man had changed with the town, or if he was one of the stubborn few who refused to change with the times.

"Greetings, my dear sisters. I am Father Joseph Mycroft, Head Abbot of the First Church of Abernathy. How may I help you two today?" the older man sweetly inquired.

Characters Present

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

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Charles grinned wide, letting out a low chuckle. "Who are we to deny the gifts of the Almighty, even the temporary ones?" He said as he let open the door for Sonia, following her into the hotel. He promptly whistled quietly as he looked about the lavish opulence of the lobby. It was the sort of sight he hadn't seen since his youth in Richmond, aside from the meager attempts of luxuries that railroad bosses would furnish their sleeper cars with. The hotel most certainly was what could be called Eastern hedonism and waste, or so the preachers would say. All the more reason that a savvy hotel owner might offer such luxury to appease a wary Dog and belay any judgments. But the question remained if they might have reason to suspect him after all, for more than just his catering of the rich.

"Afternoon, sir." He said to the clerk as he sauntered up to the desk, smiling politely and tipping his hat. "We here are Watchdogs of the Lord. Charles Carver, and my partner Sonia Redwood. M'guessing you have a mite bit of an idea of why we are here." He would let the clerk run to his own conclusions, for the moment, and watch carefully for his first reaction.

Characters Present

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

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The clerk considered the both of them with renewed interest, though the sour grimace that briefly covered his face showed his unease. But, well, it wasn't too surprising. Even those who had nothing to had from the Watchdogs could grow uneasy and nervous around them. Most Dogs were an intimidating lot, and many found it hard to be kind or friendly to strangers, after years of seeing the worst of what the Deseret had to offer.

"Ah, yes. The owner said more of you would be arriving soon." the clerk began. "Mister Hershel, the hotel's owner, would like to extend the same offer to you, as he did the previous set of Dogs. You two, and any companions you may have, are guaranteed free room and board here at the Hotel Lancaster, if you wish."

"That's mighty gracious of Mister Hershel." Sonia replied, nodding her head. "But, we aren't here about getting ourselves rooms. What do you know about the 'previous set' of Dogs that came here? Did they stay here at all? If they did, when was the last time you saw them?"

The clerk covered his mouth with his hand briefly, closing his eyes as he considered his words carefully. "I work the main desk here during the day, so I saw...forgive me, I cannot recall their names, but I saw the gentleman and lady Dog check in here two weeks ago, when they first arrived. They stayed here two nights that I'm aware of, and they did not come back on the third night. We merely presumed they had concluded their business in Abernathy, and had gone their way. But, well, that doesn't seem to be the case now, from what the Sheriff has told us."

Characters Present

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

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Anna smiled widely to Margaret at that promise, nodding with a brief grin. "Of course we will." She said, the beggar most certainly already out of her mind as they continued down the street. Her quiet friendliness faded, however, back behind a rigidly calm expression once she followed Margaret into the church, ready as the stern Dog once more.

She pulled off her hat as she stepped inside, murmuring a prayer as she looked to the altar, and then to the preacher sitting nearby. "Anna Ward." She introduced herself with a polite smile to the old man before gesturing over to her friend. "Margaret Throne. We have been tasked with finding our missing comrades, Justin Meyer and Eliza Ford. Did they pass through here, a short time ago?"

Her gaze flicked back and forth between the old man and the interior of the church, carefully surveying her surroundings before she eyed him just as intently as she would anyone else in her investigations. She couldn't afford to be lax and make presumptions, even from a holy man, when two of her own had gone missing a place where they should have been safer than ever.

Characters Present

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

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"Ah, you are Watchdogs of the Lord then." Father Mycroft nodded at them, his face shifting into a more serious and grave expression. "I heard tale from the Sheriff that they had gone missing. I've been praying for their souls ever since. I am not sure what I can tell you that would help, however. Dogs Meyer and Ford did come to my church to pray and seek my counsel, though it was not for long on most occasions. I recall seeing them for perhaps...two days at the most, before they disappeared. I had assumed they'd gone on their way, and left things at that. I regret that now, however."

Margaret nodded lightly as she listened to the preacher's words. They didn't particularly surprise her, though there was always the hope someone they'd interview would offer clear, case-breaking details right off the bat. Alas, that didn't seem to be the case here.

"What did you counsel them on? Did they speak with you on anything in particular?" she inquired after a moment.

At that, Father Mycroft shook his head. "I held confession with Dog Ford twice, though I am unable to say what we spoke of. Breaking the seal of the confessional booth is a grave sin, I'm sure you understand. I could be excommunicated for even hinting at what was spoken in confidence. Outside of confession...Justin and Eliza did ask me to lead them in prayer, bless their weapons, and they asked me some general questions. How to get about town, where the best places to eat were, where to get horses for their journey to Red Road. General, mundane things such as that."

Margaret frowned at that. Not particularly helpful information, that. And of course Father Mycroft couldn't speak of anything said in the confessional. Hell, if he did, then she and Anna, as Dogs, had every right to take him into custody to face trial and potential excommunication from the Ministry of Social Order. Breaking the bond of Confession was one of the highest sins a priest could commit under the Faith. It just made Margaret hope that whatever Eliza Ford had discussed with Father Mycroft over Confession, wouldn't be important for their quest.

Still, he'd told them where to find horses? That would be a good lead to follow up on. It might be able to tell them whether or not Ford and Meyer had left town before they'd disappeared.

"Although..." Father Mycroft continued after a moment, a thoughtful look on his face. "There was one other thing. They also questioned me about the recent fire. Though, I'm sure I didn't tell them much the Sheriff hadn't already told them."

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."

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"No, there hasn't been a soul in those rooms since they left, aside from housekeeping at least. Mister Hershel has a set of rooms he keeps for special occasions, and the rooms he offered to Meyer and Ford happened to be two of those special rooms. So they aren't used that often, unless the rest of the hotel is booked, in which case we open them up." the clerk explained. At Charles request to be taken to the rooms, he begrudgingly nodded.

He walked out from the front desk, and toward an elevator. The doors, such as they were, opened up with an elevator operator already standing inside. Once Sonia and Charles went in with the clerk, he gestured to a certain button on the elevator pad, which the operator then pressed. The elevator kicked into gear, and took them up to the top floor, the sixth floor, a minute later.

The clerk stepped out onto the hallway, a series of keys already in his hands as he lead the Dogs further inside. "Aside from the maids, no one has really touched the rooms. And after the..Sheriff informed us of your impending arrival, Mister Hershel sealed the rooms off from everyone else."

A minute later, he stopped in front of two particular doors: 611 and 612. The clerk used his keys to unlocked both, and opened them up. "Here we are, rooms, 611 and 612. The room on your left, 611, was given to Meyer, while Ford had the room on your right. When housekeeping came by after their...supposed checkout, we found no personal items left behind. I am not sure you will find much in here."

"We'll be the judge of that." Sonia briskly informed the clerk...though she too had her doubts. She glanced over at Charles after a moment. "How do you want to do this? Take one room each? Search them together?"

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.

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Character Portrait: Horatio Morale
Character Portrait: Anna Ward
Character Portrait: Charles Carver
Character Portrait: Ira Murphy
Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne
Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood

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Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
Sonia Redwood

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

Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne
Margaret Thorne

"I will avenge those who have fallen, no matter the cost!"

Character Portrait: Ira Murphy
Ira Murphy

"You will profess your love for the One True God, or die by the flame. It is your choice."

Character Portrait: Charles Carver
Charles Carver

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

Character Portrait: Anna Ward
Anna Ward

"The wicked have no place in the vineyard we have wrought. So sayeth the King of Life."

Character Portrait: Horatio Morale
Horatio Morale

"Sometimes all you can do is just live day by day."

Trending

Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
Sonia Redwood

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

Character Portrait: Charles Carver
Charles Carver

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

Character Portrait: Anna Ward
Anna Ward

"The wicked have no place in the vineyard we have wrought. So sayeth the King of Life."

Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne
Margaret Thorne

"I will avenge those who have fallen, no matter the cost!"

Character Portrait: Ira Murphy
Ira Murphy

"You will profess your love for the One True God, or die by the flame. It is your choice."

Character Portrait: Horatio Morale
Horatio Morale

"Sometimes all you can do is just live day by day."

Most Followed

Character Portrait: Charles Carver
Charles Carver

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

Character Portrait: Horatio Morale
Horatio Morale

"Sometimes all you can do is just live day by day."

Character Portrait: Anna Ward
Anna Ward

"The wicked have no place in the vineyard we have wrought. So sayeth the King of Life."

Character Portrait: Ira Murphy
Ira Murphy

"You will profess your love for the One True God, or die by the flame. It is your choice."

Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
Sonia Redwood

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

Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne
Margaret Thorne

"I will avenge those who have fallen, no matter the cost!"


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