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Braith Alwyn

Do I have a deal for you. Oh, not what you need? Trust me, I'll find it.

0 · 232 views · located in Kingdom Of Ethieven

a character in “Stand and Deliver”, as played by varxint

Description

On first glance Braith is rather plain. Unkempt mid length brown hair. Deep brown eyes. He is clean shaven but does not shave regularly so often is seen with stubble. He is often smiling. He might not be the most dashing but there's something about him that makes people want to talk to him. He stands five foot nine and weighs around 170. He doesn't look intimidating but he does look shrewd. Constantly evaluating everything around him. He dresses well, but not ostentatious. He can easily blend into a crowd but when someone talks to him he is very present.

Personality

Charming. Friendly. Insightful. It's as though he knows what you are going to say and anticipates what you're going to need. He enjoys being helpful and finding the best deal or rarest item. He gathers gossip almost as much as he gathers items. He is a fount of information about who's travelling where and when. Knowing he's best at his job when he knows what people want he always gives people his undivided attention. People always feel like they are the most important thing on Braith's mind when they are engaged with him.

Equipment

A pistol and a knife. He keeps these on his person, more for show than use. Various pockets and satchels where he keeps his latest goods to move.

History

From a rough and tumble family in a rundown neighbourhood he had to learn how to find his own way. He has always been a very charming and convincing person. He has an innate sense of what people want and how to give it to them. Though not a fighter he has been able to talk his way out of many a tight place. Now 25, Braith has set up a stable fence business. He frequents a half dozen taverns as his base of operations. He's befriended all the bouncers and regular toughs at these taverns as his 'protection' from mistreatment. It's easier for him to make friends than hire a body guard. He met the Hunt brothers when they were working for the smugglers, running illegal booze (no taxes) and whatnot into the capital. Once the smugglers broke up and the brothers ran north and developed the habit of holding up folks in the road, they came back to him. It's a good working relationship, Braith knows the when and where and the brothers are bold enough to tackle almost anything.

So begins...

Braith Alwyn's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn
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The sun slipped behind the gently rolling hills and sturdy trees of the Ethieven countryside, as the fine spring day (which is to say, there was only a bit of soft rain in the early morning) came to an end. The western horizon was still a thick band of red and orange in the sky but the fading beams of sun were giving way to the deep purples and blues of twilight. The village of Corwen, roughly two day's light ride from Wycombe on the Taunton road, bustled with travelers, finding a place to stay for the night, in one of the three coaching inns the settlement boasted. The Lost Yoeman and The Teamster, were both built in the village proper but The Dog, perhaps the finest of the three inns, was settled just a little northward, a warm beacon for anyone coming south along the road. Not so far away, that it wouldn't be counted as part of Corwen but far enough that it was a little too far to walk in the dark.

Jack Hunt sat with both his brother and business partner, at a table in the back, left corner and fought the urge to slip a finger under the well fitting wig, to scratch a growing itch. Normally the thing, black as pitch, with a curl at each temple and a tail for the nap of the neck, didn't brother him but for some reason, it itched tonight. He was sure that it had picked up a flea or two from a coachman, when they held up Squire Gosebourne the other night. Determined not to give in, if only to spite the man they had robbed for the pitiable haul, he picked up his nearly empty tankard and took a pull of the good brown ale The Dog served.

While William, his younger brother, bartered softly with Braith, over the price of the good Squire's pocket watch, the older highwayman glanced about the common room of the inn. The heel of his left boot scuffed over the floor, as he shifted a little, eager for the night to get on. It had been over a week ago, when Braith, maybe the slipperiest man in the underworld, had come to them with a job. Apparently, old Duke Cyril of Starford, would or already was coming down from his vast northern estates, for the wedding of his eldest daughter and he was bringing her dowry with him. It was hard not to drool over even the lowest estimates, of how much the old buzzard might be bringing in his coach.

Of course both of the Hunt Brothers had been interested in the prospect of lightening the load, those poor horses would have to pull but there was a small problem. The Duke was a smart man and would have more then coachman and a driver with him on the way to Wycombe. He'd have more men then even the bold pair could take on and live to tell about. They would need more robbers for this job, a small gang of their fellow knights of the road and while that meant smaller shares, it would mean they could spend the money. However, most of the men they used to run with, were either awaiting trial or buried at Harrow Hill.

So they had sent out the word, through the system of fences, less-then-completely-honest inn keepers, whores and other members of the underworld, that the Hunt Brothers were planning a big job and wanted some help. Anyone interested should show up at The Dog in Corwen, after sunset on Tuesday, the tenth of April. Look for the men wearing a red and black cockade on their hats.

Now all they had to do was wait. The Brothers did have a bit of a reputation, which might turn aside some of their fellows. After all, Black Jack and Bill had robbed more then one army officer and been chase by more then just a sheriff or the local yeomanry but by the cavalry. While not the most infamous of highwaymen, they did go after those who were more capable of killing or driving off mounted robbers. If they wanted hep, how dangerous was this job and how much could it be worth?

Jack raised his tankard, wordlessly and politely calling for a serving women, while keeping his eyes on the door.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Lavinia O'Connell Character Portrait: Gwendolyn MacFarley "Fox" Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn Character Portrait: Baxter "The Rat" Grishham Character Portrait: Valentyne Elfrith Character Portrait: Frank Reed
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Jack couldn't help the appreciative grin, spreading across his lips, as the graceful serving girl slipped out from behind the bar and walked towards their table. She was more then very pretty, even in her patched and slightly stained cloths. Unlike his brother, he didn't know her name but you didn't need that to enjoy her beauty, it might be helpful if you wanted to woo her though. He lifted his empty tankard, his hand wrapped around the body o the drinking vessel, so the handle was free to grab, as she asked what she could do for them.

"I seemed ta have run dry" said the elder brother, as his younger looked away from their business partner at the sound of her voice, "Could ye get me another, my bonnie lass?"

"And some supper" added William, giving the girl his most charming smile, as his brother went back to watching the inn's common room, "If ye could, Miss Lavinia."

Black Jack smiled slightly, as his pretty (as more then a few lasses have told him) blue eyes caught a man at the bar, looking at his hat before giving him a nod. Cloaked as the fellow was, he could blend into a night forest better then a shadow. Of course just because he looked like the kind of man they were looking for, didn't make one and it could just been a friendly gesture, one traveler to another. But the fellow came walking over, sitting down before claimed his name was Reed and knowing their last names. So this was the first of their brethren to answer their call for comrades, not a bad start, he looked like a professional.

"Aye" said the elder brother, smiling in a knowing fashion, "That be us. Ye a gentleman out on the road Reed?"

As Reed affirmed that he was a Gentlemen of the road, a highwayman, a mounted robber, another man appeared in the doorway and after scanning the room, made a beeline for the table, with a cocky smile. Apparently not a fan of introductions, the newcomer professed to being a fan of their work and claimed a seat at the table, before naming the brothers and expressing a desire to work with them. William, who had returned to his bartering as the lovely Miss O'Connell went to fetch drinks, looked away from Braith again, before he almost agreed to a ridiculously low price for the pocket watch.

"Well you know us lad" said the younger Hunt brother, his tone light, "But who be you?"

Before their new friend could say his name, more people arrived. A duo, an older rogue with a young boy, maybe his apprentice in tow. While the older of the pair seemed to let out an energy, which made the brothers take a liking to him at once, the boy (who it seems was called Fox, or at least he was by the older man) didn't seem to want to be there. It also appeared the older man wasn't interested in the job, something about the boy having company while he was away.

"Aye" said Jack, as his brother hurriedly closed the deal with Braith, "That was..."

Before he could finish, an almost sickly thin man pushed between the duo, his shabby and ill fitting cloths fluttering around his person, as his hands danced and he bobbed his head. A mouth full of terrible, broken and misplaced teeth was displayed, as he hinted at being a lockpick and not introducing himself either, the forth to do so this evening.

"Locks we might not have the key to" said Jack, "Might be in our future. Why doesn't everyone sit and we'll talk about business?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brennan of the Grange/Elsbeth Waterton Character Portrait: Georgina "George" Laverence Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Lavinia O'Connell Character Portrait: Gwendolyn MacFarley "Fox" Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn Character Portrait: Baxter "The Rat" Grishham Character Portrait: Valentyne Elfrith Character Portrait: Frank Reed
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Elsbeth stood in the shadows near the inn. “Why am I doing this again?”

Brennan did not work in a group. She knew that was exactly why she was even considering doing this. Well, that and the substantial payoff that the job promised. Dowry for a Duke’s daughter and there was a need for more hands to deal with the guards. Elsbeth would have scoffed if word of this job had come from any other source. Thing was, it was Braith Alwyn who had put out the call and for the Hunt brothers. Both parties had good reputations, at least as far as those who moved in this circle could be considered good.

Elsbeth adjusted the coat, ensuring the collar and scarf came up to cover the majority of her face. Blue-grey eyes looked out from under her hat. Brennan of the Grange had a reputation of his own as well and she hoped it would be enough to convince the brothers and Braith that her guns would be a good asset to their little scheme.

“Off we go now...” Standing tall Elsbeth entered the inn.

The Dog had a good reputation for its ale and for being the better of the three establishments that served the area. It was reasonably busy as expected. Groups huddled around tables drinking, talking and gambling. The innkeeper seemed already well into his cups and a pretty barmaid was serving tables and the bar. Elsbeth watched her as she moved towards one of the tables. A voice had called for another drink and some dinner.

Around the table sat an odd collection of people. Scanning each, Elsbeth’s eyes spotted the red and black cockades in the hats. The Hunt Brothers. Both men were broad shouldered and had the look of hard working men. There beside them, blending easily must be Braith. She had heard of his reputation for being very unassuming at first glance but charming once his mouth opened.

Moving to a side table, Elsbeth sat and looked over the rest of the group. Two men were sitting, one sharply featured but shadowed and the other square jawed and tall. Two others were standing at the table, their backs to her and yet another pushed his way through them to the table. Elsbeth huffed a little. For highwaymen that should be keeping things quiet they seemed an obvious group of sorts. They were all men it seemed. No. Elsbeth focused on one of the standing figures. Female, shapely too. Even though this woman wore a coat that was too big, Elsbeth could tell. Elsbeth straightened a little. It was easy to pass herself off as Brennan, Elsbeth did not feature any soft womanly curves that so many others of her sex had.

The group seemed to be settling in to discuss business. Elsbeth stood, if she wanted in on the job she had to get over there. Movement from the bar caught her attention. A dirty looking young man moved quickly and bumping into one of the brother’s chair offered an apology then moved away again. Elsbeth cocked her head. Something was odd about him. Shaking her head slightly, Elsbeth drew her focus back to the table. Moving to the far left, she approached from the shadows.

Stopping beside the table, Brennan sat in one of the few empty chairs. The hat dipped as Brennan nodded to the table. Cold eyes stared out at the group. Gloved hands opened the fasteners of the coat, allowing Brennan to sit comfortably. Elsbeth had learned to sit like a man, not that she did it often as Brennan was a man on a horse not one of leisure. Two pistols sat just inside the coat, Brennan’s trademark.

From this angle Elsbeth could take in the faces of those that were standing. The pushy one, skinny to the point of corpselike, had the look of one who crawled out of the gutter. There was no stopping the ill feeling that crept up her spine as she happened to catch his eyes.

Her gaze went to the other two. One, the man seemed overly outgoing and friendly. From this angle she confirmed her suspicion that the other figure was in fact a woman. Hair was tucked into her hat but there was no hiding the soft face.

All attention was on the brothers. Like Elsbeth, they all seemed to be waiting to hear what the scheme was and of course, what the cut would be for each. “It had better be a good haul...” She wondered now, with so many involved if this had in fact been a good idea. The advantage was she hadn’t signed onto anything yet, if the deal wasn’t good then Brennan would walk away and that was the end of it.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brennan of the Grange/Elsbeth Waterton Character Portrait: Georgina "George" Laverence Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Lavinia O'Connell Character Portrait: Gwendolyn MacFarley "Fox" Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn Character Portrait: Baxter "The Rat" Grishham Character Portrait: Valentyne Elfrith Character Portrait: Frank Reed
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#, as written by varxint
Braith chatted with the younger Hunt brother. Having worked so long with the brothers Braith knew the price that he would be paying for this watch. However, Bill was always very earnest with his haggling and Braith did not want to take that away from him. Truth be told, Braith enjoyed the game as well. He always loved talking to people. It was also a nice way to be able to appear occupied while watching the strangers pile into his bar. The Dog was one of Braith's main haunts. He knew all the regulars by name. Each and every stranger who walked into the bar this evening was carefully noted and catalogued. Braith knew they were coming. He had been keeping his eye on the group of strange drunks in the corner. Nothing too odd about that, yet.

Braith kept the haggling up while he watched the tall, blonde man step in and order his drink. He sat quietly, pretending to inspect the watch as Reed introduced himself. Still holding the watch up, Braith looked Reed over and inwardly nodded. A good start.

The next tall stranger took a seat near by and overpaid for his drink. Braith grinned slightly at the boldness of this one's announcement as he turned and addressed the brothers.

As the couple walked to the table Braith smiled with satisfaction. There will be no shortage of recruits it appeared. Though it appeared only the one called Fox might be staying. He looked him, no, wait. Braith looked more carefully as he placed the watch on the table, yes, a her. Braith nodded, diversification was never a bad thing.

Ah, the drunks, here came one now, but not nearly as drunk as he played. As he pushed through the others and offered his skills Braith shuddered. This one looked capable of acts that matched his countenance. Though, this job will take all kinds, so it's better to have him on our side.

Another stranger, a boy by the looks of it, entered the bar and ordered a drink after taking a hesitant look toward the table. Another interested party.

As Jack ordered another round and the pretty barmaid distracted Bill, Braith chuckled quietly. He decided to have a bit of fun with Bill and made a firm sounding offer that was severely under priced. Bill almost agreed to the price and Braith smiled at him before shaking his head. He was not about to take advantage of some of his best partners. Still, he liked to keep them on their toes.

Another stranger entered the bar and looked the place over. Paying a bit more attention to this table. Though this one looked vaguely familiar to Braith. He racked his brains for the memory but couldn't quite place it. The stranger sat at a table beside the wall and watched the group.

He listened as Jack set about trying to gather the diverse group to order and set a final price with Bill. As Braith reached out to hand Bill the coins for the watch and Bill reached to hand the watch to Braith, they were bumped by the recently arrived boy. Braith nearly laughed out loud as Bill no longer had the watch to conclude the deal. As he was about to address the missing watch the newest stranger began to make his way over. He boldly sat down without making any type of introduction. Braith watched as he sat and raised his eyebrows at the exposed guns. He nodded, that seals that.

At the mention of business Braith perked up, "So, it appears I will have to look up to this crowd." He grinned. "And now that we have a wonderfully large group I think Jack has said the key phrase, and business is at hand. Welcome all to my offices. We have even brought the famous out to play." He nodded in the direction of the newest arrival.

"The interested parties have all made themselves known and we should begin with the most interesting details. It might be best, though, if we all sat close." With that he waved the boy at the bar over, "Please, my boy, come over, join us. And don't worry, I'll adjust the amount of your cut for that watch. I would prefer that you and I talk though." He grinned and winked.

He smoothly turned back to the table and smiled warmly, "I am Braith Alwyn. I'll find you what you need and take care of what you find. The Hunt's run this show and I provide the information. Jack, my lad, why not take the show from here and tell our new friends what kind of excitement you have in store for them. I'll start calculating the division of the shares so you'll all know what you stand to gain, roughly."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brennan of the Grange/Elsbeth Waterton Character Portrait: Georgina "George" Laverence Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn
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Jack flashed a quick smile, as their first unnamed guest claimed he wouldn't give his name in a public tavern. An almost paranoid precaution to keep one alive. Unless a victim, who knew both your name and face, was sitting close enough in the common room, to overhear them talk, your name couldn't hurt but if thats what helped keep you breathing in this line of work, well who was he to comment on it. Besides the name seemed like it would be forth coming and he was eager enough to hear about the thrill and danger of the job they had planned. A fellow with a taste similar to his, never a bad thing when riding out to tackle a job that would take balls of brass.

Before they could get down to business, a young man, squeezing around their table on his way to the bar, bumped into Bill. The younger of the Hunt brothers flashed him an annoyed look but left it at that. There were plenty of reasons a fellow might not want to walk through the middle of the common room, seeing as it was filled with roguish looking fellows, coachmen quick to take offense and possibly someone he might have offended before. There had been times the brothers, had to slink away from a past victims, least they be recognized by voice.

However, there was the issue, of the missing watch. It was really rather clumsy, to grab something out of a person's hand. His frown grew, as he noticed that Braith looked like he was about to laugh. He couldn't figure out if the fellow was new to the life of crime, just plain stupid or looking for a fight. He would be willing to fight, if thats what he wanted but they'd have to head outside, he didn't want to wreck Lavinia's common room. He almost got up but then Braith called the fellow out about it, in a rather friendly way.

Jack watched as a man, or at least he looked like a man, it was hard to tell gender with their face hidden under a scarf and a large coat on, rose from a nearby table and took a chair among their gathering of jolly rogues. No word of introduction, not a question about the job, he just sat down with a nod and opened his coat a little to reveal the butts of a pair of pistols. Jack took an instant liking to the man, it took a certain amount of boldness, to just step out and have yourself counted among a crew of outlaws. There was something about him, like he should know the stranger's name. Not that they had worked with him before but those eyes, with a pair of pistols, it tickled his memories a little.

"Well" said Jack, as their last compatriots joined them at the table, "Black Jack Hunt is me name and me brother Bill is the one glowering about a missin watch. We called this jolly gatherin' ta see if any of ye were interested in aiding the poor horses of his lordship, the Duke o' Starford. Ye see, 'em beasts be hauling the dowry of his lordship's oldest daughter, all the way from the north and they must be gettin tired. It would be mighty kind, if we went and convinced the Duke, ta let us lighten their load. O'course, the Duke and his cronies might not agree, if we just go and talk with 'em, bein cruel enough ta do that to their poor horses in the first place. Goin' ta have ta persuade 'em."

Both of the brothers smiled broadly at the table.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Georgina "George" Laverence Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn Character Portrait: Valentyne Elfrith
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#, as written by varxint
Braith poured through the estimated numbers as Jack talked about the job. As Valentyne introduced himself Braith thought that it was about time. This group was understandably anxious to be meeting in public. Obviously Braith needed to make them all aware that this place was as safe as any. The Dog was Braith's normal place of business. He knew the place well and the regulars knew well enough to leave him to himself. He looked up just as the boy with the watch slumped over. "Ah, we've embarrassed the poor boy", he thought. Braith knew he needed to set people at ease and reset this business with the watch.

"My boy, don't be so quick to leave us," he started in a friendly tone. "We all recognize that you wanted a way to approach us. I believe I should clarify our current surroundings. No doubt everyone here is wondering, why meet in such a public place? Well, the fact is that this place is my place of business and it's well established that the regulars here know well enough to leave me to my business. Also, would it not be even more suspicious for a group the likes of us to be slinking around in the dark places, trying to hide what we're doing? If we're out in the open, we can't possibly be planning something nefarious, can we? Not that we are, of course. As Jack said, we are here to only offer our services to the Duke. We are nothing if we're not helpful."

"As for the watch. My boy, if you wanted this watch, it would be best to wait until Bill and I were done haggling over it. Rather than lifting it from us as we are concluding the deal I would recommend you wait until the deal was finished, then lift it from me. Much less noticeable. As a matter of fact, I would like to talk about the possibilities of you hanging around my next order of business. The next item I sell to another person, not in this group of course, would be welcome back in my hands." He looked around with a genuine smile, "I do enjoy the idea of selling the same item multiple times and every time you lift the item and bring it back to me, I'll cut you in on the selling price."

He smiled warmly at the boy and once again stated, "You should sit and join us. You wanted our attention enough to risk stealing something from me, in my place of business. Obviously you want to be here. Don't leave so rashly. We shall further discuss our side deal another time. For now, listen to Jack's plan. It's a good one, if I do say so myself, and it will result in some nice rewards for us all if you all can pull it off."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gwendolyn MacFarley "Fox" Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn
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Gwen wrinkled her nose at the sheer smell of the man who had wedged himself between herself and her partner with a flamboyant display that would have given Rooster a run for his money. Whether it was from the smell, or the rather blatant show of disrespect, Gwen wasn’t sure, but there was something about the man she didn’t care for. She let it go however, as the Hunt brothers were ready to get down to business, and she was disinclined to give the pungent little fellow the satisfaction of a response. Others joined the party, but Fox kept her focus on the two brothers and the man they’d started the night with, Braith, and caught a similar calculating look from him. She wiggled her eyebrows at him for effect, letting him know she hadn’t missed the appraisal. Jack, the older one as far as she could tell, was undoubtedly the more commanding of the two, and she couldn’t help the small smirk that spread across her pert lips at his colorful description.

“Well I am quite the equine enthusiast, so how could I refuse such a noble cause.”
Gwen quipped back once Jack had finished his pitch. “I go by Fox, and despite my associate Rooster’s high handed tendencies, I’m quite capable of handling my own introductions.” She said sticking out her hand.

“I do however, generally give then men I get into bed with, for business or elsewise, the courtesy of a first name. I’m Gwen, call me whatever you prefer.” Gwen said, mask firmly in place with her confident smirk and quirked brow. She wanted in on this job, which meant she was going to be spending quite a lot of time with these people, and Gwen was far too curvy and delicate of feature in the face to pass off as a man for any extended amount of time up close with people. If her gender was going to be a problem for them, it was best to find out now.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brennan of the Grange/Elsbeth Waterton Character Portrait: Georgina "George" Laverence Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Gwendolyn MacFarley "Fox" Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn Character Portrait: Baxter "The Rat" Grishham Character Portrait: Valentyne Elfrith Character Portrait: Frank Reed
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George stopped on her tracks as the man who had earlier called her attention had once again called for her's and invited her over the table. Should she accept or should she swallow her pride and hope for the best? She took a deep breath and followed the latter decision. She might as well learn from the best to improve herself rather than risking her life doing small thievery and landing back into her sister's unforgiving hands.

She held her bonnet, turned back towards the table and without raising her head she spoke, "I have no interest in the watch- I've seen greater beyond compare but you got my intention right on tha' spot meyster. I have come and seek the brother's for I've heard great news and I humbly ask to be a part. I maybe dumb and young but I am fast and small," She boasted of her qualities, doing her best impression of a skallywag and changed her accent. Just then a woman dressed as a man spoke about her identity and intentions as well.

Gwen she was called. How Georgina wished she can come out and proudly say that she was of the same gender but alas- she thought about her sister's extended ears and eyes that might be on the look out for her. It was hard enough to go through the slashing of prized lock of hair, she couldn't let her sacrifices go banished because of a small woe.

She then raised her head, turned to look at the brother's Jack first then towards Bill- but how her heart skipped a bit when she saw the younger Hunt's face. There was a rugged yet attractive look in his eyes. Georgina blushed as she realized how different the feeling was when she would come face to face with him. She cleared her throat before looking at Braith, offered her gloved hand, held his hand firmly as manly as she can and spoke, "George, but they call me Monkey for my swift hands and tree climbing expertise. If me presence is still needed I'd be happy as a horse in a graze field to stay and learn. I may come in handy as we would never expect."

Georgina then stayed silent and hoped for the best as she waited for their verdict.





OOC: George tries to sound like a man, just the same as Mulan's voice trying to be Ping (see Youtube)

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brennan of the Grange/Elsbeth Waterton Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Gwendolyn MacFarley "Fox" Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn Character Portrait: Baxter "The Rat" Grishham Character Portrait: Valentyne Elfrith
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#, as written by ElRey
The Rat’s grin twisted up his ragged face at mention of business. It was clear he had enough opening approval to earn a seat at the table. His attempts to bring a rise out of the pair and perhaps scare away the added fluff he noticed around the table proved largely fruitless. Drawing little more than a few batted glances, a weak shudder from their organizer Braith and a passing look of disgust from the younger of the duo. Perhaps these men weren't the squishy fools he sized them up for initially. Flipping a chair to face him, The Rat plopped down with a swish of his coattails, eager to hear the details of their high-profile quarry.

He remained largely silent, contenting himself with picking food from his festering maw and further assessing his would-be squad mates. Before Braith could launch into his briefing, another pair of interruptions, perhaps even more brazen than The Rat’s own took place. A clumsy extraction of a pocket watch from one of their employers pockets. Disbelieving looks were passed between the seated thieves, one jumping to offer his services to “deal with it.” In the commotion another joined their midst, silently seating himself several to The Rat’s left; giving the vile man a direct view of the fancy pair of cannons strapped to the mysterious strangers ribcage.

A handful of the others seemed to buy the bravado, commenting on the newcomers no-nonsense attitude. Braith even going so far as to indicate he was a name to be known and a face to be recognized. Being ignorant as he was The Rat was having none of it; writing it off as an elaborate act. The fancy guns, the wordless entrance, it was akin to a peacock attempting to woo a mate with a glittery flash of its tail. A belief made even more ridiculous by the mental gymnastics necessary to justify his earlier entrance.

Braith paused momentarily to invite the amateurish pickpocket who had busied himself at the bar. A questionable decision at best in The Rat’s opinion; the piece of his money pie shrinking in minds eye. Still couldn’t hurt to keep some fodder around as a decoy should things get out of hand…

One of the taller men at the table, looking several years The Rat’s junior, was the first to leap at the Hunt brothers prospect of raiding the Dukes dowry. Offering up his name, Valentyne Elfrith, in the process. He seemed overly enthused at the mere prospect of being seated at the table and it was clear he was perhaps lacking in the area of experience. Soft. The teen’s promises to not disappoint did little to quell the look of skepticism Baxter cast in his direction.

In short order the next piped up, the young boy and half the pair he had split earlier. A well crafted retort for Jack’s horse humor. The Rat had a certain appreciation for witty repartee, making a mental note to verbally prod Fox should he grow bored. The realization of his mistaken identity took several seconds to register as the boy introduced himself as Gwen; The Rat’s highly expressive face furrowing as he gave Fox another once over. Were he capable of embarrassment he may have felt a pinch that he hadn’t seen it to begin with. Still, contrary to the outlook of many of his peers, sex was of little concern to the famed lock picker, his earliest years with Rabbit had taught him that. There was no arguing that women were more than capable of towing the line in this business, and a dagger to the gut will still spill blood no matter who holds it.

His perverse hollow eyes wheeled across the crowd, sensing his opportunity to introduce himself. And he would’ve too, had the golden watch not been placed almost directly in front of him by the would-be thief. After casting a disgruntled look in their direction, as Braith warmly accepted the feminine lad into their midst and explained their location.

The thought hadn’t even crossed Baxter’s mind. It was all the same to him, he’d as just as soon planned the event from the pews of the Duke’s wedding. Jump out from beneath the bishops robes, maim the bride, cripple the in-laws and steal the cake. He simply operated in a world where the law didn’t apply, with the entirety of his adult life having been spent at odds with the powers that be it was second nature.

Braith having spoken his part and the pickpocket invited to sit, The Rat wasted no more time.

“Well den, Duke o’ta Starford yew say? Colour me interested in savin dem poor wittle horsies.” He gave the group another gnarled grin that could curl the blood, “Say ‘ello to da Rat, chums.” he jeered giving the table a hearty slap with a grubby palm “Gawtz a feelin we gon’ be makin beeyootiful music tagether, I dew.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brennan of the Grange/Elsbeth Waterton Character Portrait: Georgina "George" Laverence Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Gwendolyn MacFarley "Fox" Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn Character Portrait: Baxter "The Rat" Grishham
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#, as written by varxint
Braith accepted the proffered grip of the boy and nodded, "Okay, Monkey. Though we have a Jack, nimble and quick has its uses." He appreciated the boy's willingness to come back to the table after being called out. It showed a developing character that experience should tune into a fine pick pocket.

He looked at Gwen as she offered her hand toward the Hunts and winked, "Fox seems quite fitting. Bold, yet cunning. Though I, for one, appreciate the offer of a first name. For business. Or elsewise, as you state." Gwen's boldness caught Braith's attention more than a little, and with a playful tone and smile, "There are aspects of this business that could use a feminine touch. I would welcome one such."

Braith turned his attention to the man who called himself the Rat. "It is heartening to see such care for the downtrodden animals. I can already imagine the fine symphonies we will compose." Braith, while slightly put off by the Rat's general appearance, knew the man would be useful for any distasteful tasks required. Not having a sure hand in a tight spot was the common downfall of these operations. Braith had no doubt Rat would not be queasy.

Braith was taken a bit by surprise as a hand shot out in front of him. He looked down at the gloved hand with a grin, "Another glove. This crowd is quite wary. It's enough to think I've started associating with thieves."

He looked to the brothers, "This one's a quiet type. Brennan of the Grange it is, though. The pistols and the eyes." He turned to look at Brennan, catching the man's eyes. "Yes. Jack, Bill, if you need a shot, there is none more accurate." He watched Brennan with respect as he introduced him to the Hunts. He had heard the exploits of this lone bandit. The stories of his riding and his accuracy made it through many of Braith's informants.

With introductions completed Braith thought the group would be capable of the heist. The Hunts' planned their operations well. With another welcoming smile on his face, "Jack, you've gathered a fine group of animal lovers. I suspect we would all like to hear your plan."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brennan of the Grange/Elsbeth Waterton Character Portrait: Georgina "George" Laverence Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Gwendolyn MacFarley "Fox" Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn Character Portrait: Baxter "The Rat" Grishham Character Portrait: Valentyne Elfrith
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Jack continued smiling, as their overeager and first nameless comrade, became only overeager. Valentyne Elfrith, not a name he had heard before but the fellow was young and wouldn't have been robbing (or much else) for very long. So a lack of reputation was to be expected. Ignoring the youth, who had stolen the watch to his brother and business partner. Not that he wasn't interested in the outcome or if they were going to get the watch back, he was, that watch was money in his pocket but at least one of the three starting partners in the gang, needed to pay attention to the gathering of thieves.

The next villain to agree to the plot, was Fox and that was a shocker, not that they agreed but the revealing of a gender. It also was a comfort in a way, as she went from a pretty boy, whom it might appear that Roster was buggering , given how easily the older stood with the junior, to a young woman he could be sleeping with. Not that it was anyone's business but it would be something he'd be puzzling about, while they rode, while they waited in ambush and right up before the robbery. Again, not that it was his business but it was something his mind would used to distract himself from the jitters and it was much to rude to go asking an armed bandit about, especially if it was a touchy subject. But Fox was a woman, mystery dissolved and something interested added to the gang. Reaching up, the elder Hunt touched the front peak of his tricorn, tripping the leather hat to the woman.

"A pleasure to have ye Fox" said Jack, flashing her a grin that meant his statement could be taken more then one way, as he shook her offered hand.

Bill had returned his attention, to the pickpocket, as Braith called him out. It really wasn't that the watch had been snatched from his person. Normally it would but the fact that he had just taken it out of his hand, with nothing more then a simple bump into a chair! It was the insult to the profession that bothered him the most. He almost wanted to grab the fellow's shoulders and give him a little shake. You never take things out of the hand, until you smacked the person around or were holding them at pistol point. If you were just walking by, you slipped nimble fingers into a pocket and fished out anything of interest.

Still the fellow looked properly cowed and the watch was returned. Picking up the time piece, the younger brother lost his frown, simply studying the youth, as he both named himself and requested to join the gang. The voice seemed forced, like he was forcing it deeper then it naturally should me. Something a boy would do, hoping to make the adults pay attention to him, like he was their equal in experience. Then, he looked up at the younger Hunt brother, with a face flushing red. While he should be ashamed to face him after that attempted at picking his pocket, they would have to work on this inability to face a victim after the crime.

"Well" said Bill, when Braith finished shaking the youth's hand, still gloved as if he didn't trust them, "Ye might as learn from some 'o the best."

With William's words, the scrawny, dirty man introduced himself as the Rat and while the brother's heads didn't whip around to look at him, their light colored eyes did focus on him. The rat of all men to come out of the gutters to join them, a known killer with a shriveled black heart, who could open locks by glaring at them. Rumors of cruelty and malice attached themselves to his reputation, like remora to the belly of a shark. A legend in their mists.

As if the Rat wasn't a big enough surprise, Brennan of the Grange, the highwayman of the Callowlily Road and someone how had escaped the King's Justice for nearly a decade, was sitting at their table as well. Nothing well known robber, attracted to their offer of a large haul from a rich old man. A better shot with a pistol, was not to be found, on the island or on the mainland for that matter, if one was to believe the tales. However, the offered hand was gloved. While they might write the insult from George off from his youth, the implications from the older and more experienced highwayman, was not to be ignored.

"Aye Braith" said Jack, reaching out to shake Brennan's hand but halting, digits almost within reach of the silent robber's, "But ye can no trust a man closin' business with his gloves on."

The elder Hunt left his statement hanging there, watching and waiting for a response, as he looked at Brennan.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brennan of the Grange/Elsbeth Waterton Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn
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Jack flashed a friendly smile, letting the silent robber before him know no offense was meant, as Brennan withdrew his hand and stripped off the glove. The dim, flickering light of the inn's common room, hid any outward signs that the now offered bare hand was not the one of the man and it wasn't until the Hunt brother wrapped his fingers around it and shook, that anything different was noticed. Right off, the hand was smaller then he had expected, although that could be blamed on thick leather gloves. There was something off about the fingers as well, they seemed long, not the correct proportions they should have been. The first thought that popped into his head, was that he was dealing with a young noblemen, out getting a taste of adventure. That would explain everything, his body was still growing.

Or at least that would have been the first and only explanation he came up with but a second squeaked in the back of his mind. A tiny voice, crying out from far away, that it was not the hand of a nobleman's brat he was shaking. For the brief second or so of contact, the voice called out that this was the hand of a woman. A claim his mental state rejected, he only thought of it because Fox had revealed herself to be a woman and really, how many women pretending to be men, could this one single job pull out of the wood work? He'd be surprised if there was a female highwayman, other then Fox, within twenty miles. Maybe if they were dealing with a gang in a large city or in a whore house, where you might get robbed after completing the deed you already paid for.

"Good ta have ye" said Jack, now that the all the introductions and handshakes were over, "And I suppose that everyone would like ta know, how me and me brother, are thinkin' 'o helpin' those poor beasties."

William, turning his attention away from George, reached into the inner breast pocket of his coat and pulled out a rolled piece of a paper. As he spread it across the table the rogues were gathered at, it proved to be a very good map, with the top corners torn out. If you were to overlay their map, to say the ones issued to the drivers of the royal mail coaches, one would find that the missing pieces of their map, would match the size of the royal seals on the maps of the coachmen. They must have used the same mapmaker.

"The Old Road" said Jack, tracing a thick line, running from Wycombe straight north to Starford and so named for being the oldest road in the kingdom, although long is disrepair now, "Is tha quickest and most direct route for his lordship ta take but we hears, he's not commin' that way. Braith here tells us that his lordship start on the Old Road but a day out from Starford, he took some old cart paths over ta tha Dunwich Road, ta confuse any gentlemen of the road, who might be out ta help his horses."

The elder brother's finger, which had been resting on the dot labeled Starford and moved south on the map, as he spoke, cut west and north, to a thinner black line. He tapped it a few times and began following the road southwest.

"According ta what we know" Jack continued, watching the faces around him, "Tha Duke plans ta switch roads at Gainsborough, finish commin' south on tha Brackley Road. If he not ridin hard and we leave on the morrow, ridin' cross country, we can catch him, just outside Brekin Wood, where tha woods give way ta tha Barrowmoor. We meets his lordship in tha last o' tha trees, take those tired horses west, out inta tha moor for a bit ah grass and then takes 'em into the wood, outta tha wind. Our good deed done, we ride around behind his lordship, cross country back ta here, tell old Braith all about it and lay low for a while, in case his lordship is in an awful fit over his horses gettin a rest."

"We ride a bit hard" added Bill, "Find a nice play ta wait for 'em before they ride outta the wood. Surprise 'em ye might say."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brennan of the Grange/Elsbeth Waterton Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn Character Portrait: Baxter "The Rat" Grishham
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#, as written by ElRey
If there was ever a man born with a honeyed tongue, it was Braith. What he lacked in stature he more than made up for with a effortless suavity, an ability to sooth and communicate with others on their level. An admirable trait when the situation called for it to be sure, and a trait the Rat most certainly lacked. Still, he couldn’t help but feel as though the man was coddling some of the weaker links in their chain. He shot the charmed rouge a knowing wink with mention of their planned symphonies.

The Rat was eager to hear their, plan, chomping at the bit to see some action. Everyone seemed to be getting on well enough, though it was clear there was a fair amount of interest in Fox being female. Jack in particular seemed to take more than a fair assessment of her figure once the wheels in his head began to turn. A metal keepsake for the dreary days ahead. The Rat considered such things beneath him, little desire for the sins of the flesh, but it was rare when he was caught off guard by others being swayed by such things.

He uncharacteristically held his tongue, allowing the others their chance to mingle and flirt as they pleased.

Noe skin awf me nose. Juzt get ta bizness.

Almost as soon as he mentally willed the meeting forward, the procession was halted yet again by Jack, this time spitting some nonsense about gloved hands and trust. Petty superstitions.

The Rat’s instant irritation with the minor delay from the business of the handshake was palpable. His eyes rolled theatrically in his head, scoffing aloud.

“Stel wurr’ed bout da theifs wearin’ glubs yew in da wrong bizness mate.” He spurned hastily, though apparently the impression had been made on this Brennan character.

His piercing gaze fell on the silent highwayman, the keen orbs attempting to read the stoic eyes which peered from the masked face. It was unreadable, too practiced and steady, save for a brief flicker of the eyelids which revealed nothing. It was the absence of evidence that gave The Rat any kind of insight. Nothing that would hold up in court, but that was of little concern to him. Brennan was apprehensive, though the eyes refused to admit it. Vision snapped between Braith and Jack, mind churning to make a decision. It was beauty at its finest, a mind at work, and The Rat was happy to watch it unfold. There were few reasons the mysterious shooter would hesitate even for a moment to reveal his hands, an imposter or…

The removal of the glove sealed it. He was not one to make the same mistake twice in one night. Another woman. The softer curl of the cuticle, thin fingers. There was no doubt. It seemed Jack quickly came to the same conclusion, but said nothing, quickly launching into what they had all come to hear.

Baxter looked around the table trying to assess if anyone else had picked up on Brennan’s little secret though if any of them had, they were too encapsulated by the plan to show it on their features. In his illustrious career he had seen his fair share of well drawn maps; but this was of a finer craftsmanship than most he had ever seen, likely a product of a man on the inside. The Rat ooo’d appreciatively.

“Tis a fine plan dere ‘unt bruddas. Dem horsies wull surely appreciate us comin to dere rescue. Aye.” He paused, allowing them to bask in his appraisal before leaning forward, his tone dropping to a hush. “Da Brekin Wood ain’t noe place ta beh trifling ‘round, Duke ‘r nawt. Yewsta run witta vicious buncha blokes o’er in dem parts, weren’t be too happeh ta see me pretty face no sirs.”

He threw his head back with a hearty guffaw. "Dat's nawt ta say runnin hard cross da country ain't gon 'av problemz in & uf izzelf."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brennan of the Grange/Elsbeth Waterton Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn Character Portrait: Baxter "The Rat" Grishham
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#, as written by varxint
Braith watched Brennan's discomfort with interest. "What could be making this gunslinger so nervous that..." He got a full look at Brennan's hand. He looked up, into the piercing blue eyes again, this time noticing the length of the eyelashes. The softness of the top of the cheek bones that were just barely visible. The fineness of the eyebrows. Without the hint of her hand Braith would have continued to been fooled by the hardness in the eyes. She watched him stare at her for a time before Braith finally gave a friendly and knowing wink.

"So it appears we have all made friends among thieves. I do so enjoy the subtle company of these groups."

He sat back and listened as the Hunts went over their plan and the Rat expressed his evaluation. Braith frowned slightly. He made a mental note, "If this is the place another gang runs...." He was interrupted in thought by the Rat's mighty guffaw.

"Oh? I would think you more than capable of making friends, Rat. After all, we all like you just fine around this table. Maybe if they were re-introduced to your better qualities and the skills and abilities of your new friends?" He appraised the table with a smile, "I'm sure you would all be more than capable of convincing the Rat's old friends that they made a mistake in their evaluation."

Once more looking at the Hunts, "I'm sure a minor adjustment to your plan will suffice. Shall I see what I can find about these old friends of Rat's?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brennan of the Grange/Elsbeth Waterton Character Portrait: Georgina "George" Laverence Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Gwendolyn MacFarley "Fox" Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn Character Portrait: Baxter "The Rat" Grishham
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Gwen swept Jack’s form with an admittedly exaggerated look of appraisal. Flirting with men was almost a default for Gwen, not necessarily from any real interest, but because it was an effective tool when running a con, which she’d pulled in taverns and along the highways as often as when she went merrily a-robbing with Rooster. She’d learned very quickly from the start that it was far easier to rob a man blind with a coy smile and a well measured show of cleavage, than to play the shy frightened maid. Though she was working with the Hunt brothers, not conning them, which meant perhaps this was not the best response to the obvious overture. Still, she’d be a fool to completely trust anyone of her fellow thieves in the room, and Black Jack Hunt was actually quite attractive in his own way, with perhaps the exception of what was obviously a wig sitting on his head.

“Likewise. I look forward to becoming…better acquainted.” A little flirting never hurt she decided, though she’d have to be careful around Braith. There was something just a bit too observant about him. He seemed like the type who could see through personas, and pick apart carefully crafted masks with the ease other men exuded when scratching their arse, and she simply didn’t want to deal with that. So wisely, she chose to bite back a cheeky retort about the kind of “feminine touch” he had in mind.

“Well then m’dear, seems everything’s squared away then, so I’ll be on my way.” Rooster remarked pleasantly, standing from his seat. “Don’t do anything stupid.” He said in parting with a meaningful look, the most serious he’d come off since entering the tavern. Gwen knew what he meant by that, but was hardly in the mood, and less than pleased with Rooster’s borderline divulging tone.

“I’d say the same to you, but I’d simply be wasting my breath.” Gwen quipped with a smug showy grin before Rooster made his leave. The rest of the time she spent mostly listening to the brother’s plans, and observing her fellow thieves. Gwen had her suspicions about Brennan, certain features on the face and hand being a bit too fair to be male, though she was hardly about to call him(her?) out on it. If the stoic thieve wished to keep his gender a secret, Gwen wasn’t one to judge. The Rat, in a word, was behooving of his name. She had no doubt he was capable and could hold his own in this little operation. She was also not surprised to hear the man had enemies, she knew his reputation, and was not likely to be sleeping without an eye open anytime soon. The rest seemed a little harder to get a read on, though for the most part they looked…green. Especially the pickpocket. Well, they all started somewhere Gwen figured. As long as they filled their roles and didn’t cause them any undue setbacks, she wouldn’t complain.

“Brilliant. When do we leave?” Gwen asked, brow quirked now at the younger Hunt brother.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brennan of the Grange/Elsbeth Waterton Character Portrait: Georgina "George" Laverence Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Gwendolyn MacFarley "Fox" Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn Character Portrait: Baxter "The Rat" Grishham Character Portrait: Valentyne Elfrith
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Elsbeth was relieved when Jack finally shook her hand, although it never showed. Was that a recognition that something was odd that she felt in the way he grip her hand? Elsbeth held her breath again. He let the hand go and got to the task of explaining the plan.

She moved to replace her glove, looking up she saw it. Others had been watching, carefully observing the interaction between Jack and Brennan. Elsbeth pulled the glove on. Rat had been watching and while his attention now turned to the map she wondered just how observant the man was.

Her eyes met Braith’s. He was staring. It was a bit disconcerting just how much this man noticed. “He knows...” The way he was looking at her left no doubt in her mind. “Go ahead, I dare you....I will have you shot dead before the words leave your mouth.” The cold eyes dared the man to say something.

Braith winked at her, a quick subtle movement that the others, their head bent over the map would miss. Elsbeth blinked twice, unsure of what had just occurred. Her eyes lost the challenge they had been silently giving. He wouldn’t give her away. She should have figured. Braith knew Brennan’s reputation and knew that in this world that reputation meant everything. “Smart man....” She had to admire his quick mind and tactic. Elsbeth was grateful. She gave him a slight nod in thanks.

Elsbeth caught Fox’s eyes over the table. She felt certain the woman might know as well. “Like sees like.”

Elsbeth was relieved that no one was going to call her out in such a public place. She shifted her attention to the map, confident that Brennan’s identity was safe for now. It was a well made map to be sure. Listening to the plan Elsbeth felt confident that she had made the right choice in staying. Hard riding and surprise, these things she could do and do well.

Rat’s laughter drew her eyes to the man. So he had enemies, not surprising. The man didn’t exactly scream warm and cuddly. She was sure there were more than a few who had their issues with him. Ever on top of things Braith offered to find out what he could of Rat’s friends. Fox seemed ready to go. Leaning onto the table slightly, Elsbeth looked over the map one more time before looking at the Hunt brothers.

Brennan nodded in agreement.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brennan of the Grange/Elsbeth Waterton Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Gwendolyn MacFarley "Fox" Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn Character Portrait: Baxter "The Rat" Grishham Character Portrait: Valentyne Elfrith
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Jack smiled openly, as Fox looked him over. It never hurt one's ego, to be appraised by the gender of their attraction, not on the eve of what could be a very long trip with them (which it might, if the duke proved to be wrathful and they needed to disappear for a while). And most definitely not, when the appraisal appeared to end favorably in your favor. That smile broadened, as she mentioned becoming more acquainted and Rooster made his departure. Well, if the cockerel was going to be away, maybe another might get into the nest.

Both the of the brothers turned to the Rat, as the infamous man made his option of the plan known to them. So the fellow had friends lurking about in Brekin Woods did he? Well they didn't need to stick long in the dark forest, just enough to loop around behind the Duke and pursuit he might raise, to hide their tracks and then they could ride south again, across the farmlands and estates of the gentry, over hill and dale, until they once again reached The Dog. They doubted any of his old comrades might come upon them and if they did, well they were all armed and the Hunt Brothers were willing to defend their prize.

"Aye Braith" said Bill, "If ye can find were they haunt, we can avoid 'em. If not.....we can persuade 'em....like we will his lordship."

The brothers chuckled darkly but quickly cut it off, as Valentyne added a concern about the plan and Fox wanted to know when they were to leave. It was Bill's turn to smirk, as she directed an appraising gaze upon him. His heart as still set upon the lovely barmaid serving tables in this very inn but what happened out on the road, stayed on the road. Besides, while he was loyal beyond death to his older brother, completing for the night with a woman, was more then fun.

'Well me lad" said Jack, smiling, 'We 'ave our sources, keepin' tabs on his lordship and word 'ill get ta us. Never ye fear."

"Have yer horse ready" added Bill, "For first light Fox. The Hunts leave this inn then."

"Ta success" the brothers said together, lifting their tankards as a way of declaring the night's business done and their pact made.

----------------------------

It would seem that was world was nothing more then shades of grey. As was normal in the April weather, massive banks of fog had risen in the night and now hung low over the landscape. The sun was not yet in the sky but it's light could be seen, just popping over the horizon, far in the east. The black of the night, was mostly lifted, hanging on only in patches under rocks and the western facings of the hills and forests. Droplets hung on the corners of roofs, threatening to fall with the slightest of breezes.

Sleepy-eyes ostlers opened the door to The Dog's stable, long before the cocks crowed. The Hunt brothers lead their mounts from their stalls and out into the cool grey. They had yet to see any of their compatriots but they didn't doubt that at least a few would show up. Rat, Fox and Brennan were steady and experienced.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brennan of the Grange/Elsbeth Waterton Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Gwendolyn MacFarley "Fox" Character Portrait: Jeremiah Thumes Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn
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#, as written by varxint
Braith took up his normal quarters at the inn. He had a stack of messages to read through and a nightcap of the inn’s finest whisky. Burning down a candle after the night’s festivities was not a rare occurrence for the man. His sources provided information at all times and Braith could not stand being more than a fast horse behind the latest happenings. As he perused he raised an eyebrow. Were not the implications of the outlaws in Brekin woods just raised earlier? By sheer coincidence there was a mention of Aidan Coleman, the so called leader of the band. Braith didn’t entirely believe in coincidence. Hearing about Coleman and his gang just as he was to ask about them did not sit well. This called for further investigation.

Braith looked over the message carefully. Every source of his made distinct marks that only Braith would know to look for and be able to identify. Finding the marks on this message was a few seconds of work. Braith nodded and planned his route in his head.

“Off to Highdell Grove it is. I think a good chat is in order.”

With those words to himself he drained his whisky and blew out the candle.

The next morning he packed the messages and sent a note to the innkeeper about where to forward any new messages. On the move made Braith somewhat uncomfortable. The information always flowed slower, but sometimes even a fast horse is too much of a delay. Anything he needed to know about Coleman he needed to know now. So, the other information would lag while he chased an important thread.

He tossed on his long coat and travelling boots. Neither showed much wear. A hat followed to protect himself from elements while on his travels. Finally he pulled out a box from the desk and opened it. Inside was a single pistol. Anyone looking closely would find that it had never been fired. Braith carried it for appearance and last resort, but he relied on his wits and conversation skills to avoid any real trouble. In the same drawer were the accessories that went with the pistol. Taking everything and holstering the weapon Braith headed downstairs.

Outside he saw the Hunts gathering their fellow adventurers. A new face was with them. As Braith approached he saw Brennan, then shortly, Fox, ride to them. Braith greeted the group, “Well, fancy meeting such a fine group of gentlemen, and the lady that puts them all to shame, on such a fine morning. It appears I ride today as well, though not with you. I am off to Highdell Grove as I’ve heard some strange things about some old friends that were mentioned last night. These stirrings cause me a deal of curiosity and I shall satisfy that in person.”

Braith thought he recognized the newcomer as someone he’d seen with the Hunts before and nodded, “Another soul concerned with a poor animal’s plight has come calling I see. Don’t worry, on this job I will be making sure the accounts stay even and paid. The Hunts have enough to worry about with all the planning.” He grinned jovially at the brothers and chuckled.

“With that, my friends, I will wish you good journey. The next time I see you I’ve no doubt you will be feeling a richer pleasure than you do when meeting new friends.”

Braith winked at Fox as he headed to the stables for his horse, “And my dear, if you are not feeling so, I trust I will be able to adjust that to your liking.”

In the stables, he saddled his horse, mounted, gave him a pat on the neck and urged him to head out. He passed the group one more time with a tip of his hat, then headed down the road, in the opposite direction of Brekin Wood.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brennan of the Grange/Elsbeth Waterton Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Gwendolyn MacFarley "Fox" Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn
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#, as written by 7achary
Jeremiah snorted softly at Jack's play acting. The older Hunt brother was a dishonest bastard if he had ever met one. With nary a greeting Bill got right to business. Jeremiah had always liked the younger of the brothers and thought him a good and dependable man to have at his back.

With a flicker of his eyes Jeremiah took in the man approaching. While the newcomer carried the trademark pistols, he never would have guessed it was the legendary Brennan. Something about the man's gait bothered him, but Brennan walked with a confidence that was reflected in the piercing grayish blue eyes that Jeremiah felt measured him with caution. He raised his left eyebrow in appreciation of Brennan's supposed skills. If half of what he had heard was true they were in for some fine display of marksmanship.

Soon after Brennan appeared; a curvaceous figure sauntered toward the stable, putting Jack on the spot. Of course, only Jack would allow a woman to ride with them. Not only was it bad luck, but some would go out of their way to help her where they would leave a man behind. Jeremiah nodded to her as he admitted to himself that he was probably one of those. Hopefully she would be able to keep herself together once everyone started putting holes into each other, he knew men who went yellow at the sight of blood. Jeremiah slid off of Supper and led him to the drinking trough.

A stylish man, smiling enigmatically at the gathered, spoke to the group, and Jack more specifically, before heading off on his horse. Rubbing Supper's shoulder Jeremiah recalled a similar man, by the name of Braith, that worked with the Hunt brothers on occasion. It was most likely the same man. Leaving the horse to his drink, Jeremiah took off his jacket and draped it over the saddle before picking up a bucket nearby the stable doors. After dipping it in the trough he poured the contents over his head before shaking his hair and beard.

"Duke o' Starford, aye? What's the haul?" Jeremiah asked as he set the bucket where he'd found it. Sticking his foot in the stirrup he grunted and pulled himself over Supper's back. He rubbed the destrier's neck and shoulders before slipping back into his jacket. With a look to the east Jeremiah loosened his sabre in it's scabbard.

"Mayhaps you can tell me on the way?" Jeremiah asked as he checked his pistol.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brennan of the Grange/Elsbeth Waterton Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Gwendolyn MacFarley "Fox" Character Portrait: Jeremiah Thumes Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn Character Portrait: Baxter "The Rat" Grishham
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Jack smiled as Fox appeared from the stable, walking her horse over and made a teasing comment about what he had been saying to Jeremiah. He had turned slightly in his saddle, ready to assure the most interesting young woman, that she was indeed not un-fine company but company of the most pleasurable sort, when Braith appeared. The fence informed them that he was off to investigate something and wished them luck, before riding off on his business. Both of the brother offered him a salute with their three cornered hats, as he tipped his own while riding by. As if summoned by the departure and the growing light in the east, The Rat appeared, looking like he had been sleeping in a ditch.

Bill glanced towards the coming dawn and then around at the inn. There were at least three more fellows left to join them but it was getting late for the leaving. If they wanted to reach the first planned camping site and not have to risk the legs of their horses in the dark....well they need to be riding away north on the road, now. He glanced over at his brother, arching a single eyebrow, to which he caught a nod. The Hunts would wait no longer, it was time to be off.

"Well friends" said the elder, "Tha others be late and we're for ridin, damn their eyes. If ye're in, follow me!"

Grinning, Jack turned his gelding, still frisky, away from the inn. Touching his heels to the beasts flanks, he set off at a trot, heading north along the road. They would follow it for most of the morning, before turning off into the country. Bill on the other hand, waited on his mare, knowing that their former trooper, would be eager to head off and still needed filling in on the plan. Clicking at the mare, as Jeremiah rode by, the younger brother drew level with their old partner.

"Ye're a might scrawnier" he mused in a joking tone, "From when we last saw ye and ye're horse ta. Could it be, that tha finest o scouts, failed ta find enough ta eat? Losin ye're touch Jeremiah. Might a heavy pocket o gold fix that? Buy ye're vittles, rather then try ta hunt 'em? We're off ta acquire the dowry of tha duke's daughter. His lordship is carrying it south with him."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brennan of the Grange/Elsbeth Waterton Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Gwendolyn MacFarley "Fox" Character Portrait: Jeremiah Thumes Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn Character Portrait: Baxter "The Rat" Grishham
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Brennan sat easily in the saddle, watching the new man. Fox stepped out of the stable. The banter began early this morning and it took a great deal of control for Elsbeth not to roll her eyes. Braith appeared as well, complimentary words falling from his mouth, although he made mention of only one lady and for that she was still thankful. Everyone seemed in high spirits this morning. Elsbeth clenched her jaw.

She watched as Braith road off. He had work to do of his own. This aspect, someone to find out information that could help or hinder a job seemed to be one of the major advantages to working in a group. Elsbeth mentally wished him safe travels.

Her attention turned back to the brothers and the newcomer. He apparently was riding with them. She hoped that his appearance was not a sign of his ability. He was far too skinny. As if to make a point that appearance did not belie skill, Rat appeared out of no where. Again, Elsbeth couldn't help the shiver that ran up her back at the sight of the man. Sitting on his horse, the colour of bleached bone did nothing to help her discomfort. “Death rides the pale horse.” He was living proof that one did not need a pretty face or silver tongue to be effective.

It wasn't long after this that the call was made to ride out. The others were late and they would wait no longer. Elsbeth inhaled slowly and gave her stallion's sides a nudge. The horse began an easy gait and Elsbeth relaxed in the saddle. She felt at home here. A faster run, a few jumps would be preferred but not practical in this moment. She edged her horse just behind Bill and the new man. She did not wish to ride near Jack, assuming Fox would wish to continue a banter which Elsbeth could not have and she wanted to see if she could hear more about this new addition.

Blue eyes, stared out and watched the forest pass. Brennan sat comfortable and tall in his saddle, at ease with the movement of his horse. Behind the scarf, Elsbeth was a whirl of thoughts and concerns.

A slight, almost unnoticeable frown formed as she listened to the conversation between the men. So this new man, Jeremiah as Bill called him, was a scout. A fine one at some point in his life it seemed. Elsbeth hoped the man would be able to hold up a part in this.

Thoughts of the group at large began to pass through her head. She wondered about the tactics they would use to execute on this plan and how each person would be used to the best advantage. The worst part about being Brennan was she could not just ask the Hunts how they were going to accomplish this. She would have to bite her tongue and simply do as they said. She growled quietly into her scarf.

Another nagging thought began to poke at her. She realized that they were riding, conversations were occurring. Elsbeth had no plan on how to handle someone wishing to talk to Brennan. Then there was the breaks at night. This was going to get trickier as they got closer to the target. Communication was going to be needed. She would simply do what she could, avoid where possible and hope that no one had any interest in talking to the silent man.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Gwendolyn MacFarley "Fox" Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn
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Gwen’s brow quirked slightly at Braith’s parting remarks, as it appeared the shrewd man had business elsewhere. He had struck Gwen as more the behind the scenes sort of man, so it did not surprise her that he would not be part of their merry rescue party. A part of her was a bit relieved by this, feelingly less scrutinized somehow, though perhaps that was ridiculous. There was an undeniably perceptive quality about Braith that made her feel artificial, or self-conscious about her act, but he’s been nothing but genial towards her, suggesting his interest was gaining access inside her trousers, not her head. Which was good, she knew how to handle that.

“Well Sir, you are more than welcome to try should I find anything dissatisfactory.” Fox replied with a good natured leer Braith’s way, before shooting a playful look Jack’s way to make sure the meaning wasn’t lost. It would have been awkward to have simply ignored his flirting, so Gwen did what Fox did best; she quipped.

Soon after, they were off, and Gwen urged her mare into an easy gait that showed just how at home she was in the saddle, which was no act. She’d been a stable brat as a child, with George and Mary and Luciana never far behind, and had always had a comfortable relationship with horses, had even ridden from a young age at her childhood companions’ insistence. Perhaps that was part of the reason she’d taken up robbing on horseback so easily. But those were thoughts not to be dwelled upon. The little girl in the stables was as dead as her father, and the devil could take the lot of them. Here and now, she was Fox, and there was a job to do she reminded herself as her features hardened slightly in focus as they road.

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Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn
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#, as written by varxint
Braith was not used to riding all day. There was no choice though. He needed this information quickly. Though he rested enough not to exhaust himself or his horse, he still pushed much further than he’d ever done. This allowed him to ride into Highdell Grove as the sun was setting. A perfect time to meet with his contacts.

He stabled his horse at Grove’s Keg and stiffly entered the inn. He knew this place, but not well. He’d met Samuel Drake here years ago and found him to be a useful man to talk to about the nearby outlaws. An ex-bounty hunter, Drake kept tabs on the nefarious crews around him more out of habit then interest. When Braith started asking and paying, Drake could think of no reason to not help him. Now, Braith sought out Samuel and sat down with him.

Samuel was surprised to see Braith in person, “Well, weary traveller, to what do I owe the pleasure of your company?”

Braith flashed a friendly smile, “Good evening Sam. I trust I find you well? I received an interesting message recently about Aidan Coleman. It seems his crew have been chased out of their typical hunting grounds. I wonder if you know anything about this?”

The bounty hunter smiled, a thoughtful look crossed his face as he picked up his tankard. With a nod to Braith he took a healthy drink and returned it to the table.

Samuel nodded, “I’m quite well Braith. Why, just last week I was delivered a brand new set of wood carving knives. It was as though whomever sent them knew that my previous set was worn so much that they would not be able to be sharpened again. I would wonder who had them sent, but now you show up.”

“Well, it’s not as though I planned to need to ask you a favour. I was just helping a friend and his hobby.” Braith countered, a smile playing on his face now. It was typical, Samuel always took his time getting to the point. Braith was used to it by now and enjoyed the banter.

“I know. You always seem to be involved in the strangest coincidences.” Samuel gave him a knowing look and took another drink.

Braith shrugged. He learned long ago to work with the strange synchronicities that occurred. It just seemed part of why he was able to work as well as he did, “I’m glad you are finding them useful. Coleman?”

Samuel became more serious, “As yes. Well, I happen to know that one of Coleman’s crew is in town. He was retired from action because of a serious leg injury. Keeps him from riding. But he is still in contact with them. They call themselves the Brekin Ghosts. Well it appears they were chased out of the woods by a heavy force of the king’s own.”

Braith looked puzzled, “Why would the king send men to Brekin? There is nothing to gain there.” He continued the thought to himself, “And only we knew that Starford had changed his route. If it was the Duke’s men to clear out the woods that would make sense. Someone else knows Starford changed routes. Someone who can call upon the king’s men.

Braith was worried by the implications, “Did the troop leave or are they still there?”

Samuel replied, “I was told they weren’t seen leaving the area. A troop as strong as they were implied to be, doesn’t move quietly.”

Braith nodded, “I was afraid you’d say that.”

Samuel looked past Braith in shock. Braith barely had time to register Samuel’s reaction before a knife was held to his throat. A shaky, gravelly voice came from the would be assailant, “You... you owe me... Give me what you owe me...”

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Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn
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#, as written by varxint
Braith sighed. This wasn’t the first time he’d had a knife to his throat, but it never got easy. Though Braith was nervous he never gave it away in his face, or voice, as he calmly responded, “I’m not sure if you recognize my compatriot across the table? The famous bounty hunter Samuel Drake? I suspect he has some large friends who might be displeased with your current threatening position.” The knife faltered some at his neck.

Encouraged, Braith continued, “It also seems to lack some forethought to threaten someone within a public house. There is quite a crowd here who know Samuel and I. I suspect they would notice you as well and be able to identify you to the king’s men when they come to see why a knife was drawn tonight.”

The knife lowered some more. The voice behind him groaned in dismay. Braith assumed a more friendly tone, “Look, you obviously have some reason to think I have done you wrong. Why not put the knife down, sit, and we can discuss your concerns like rational men?”

The knife was removed completely from Braith’s throat. A disheveled man stepped into view and placed the knife on the table. The knife itself didn’t look like it belonged to such a man. The blade shone as though recently polished and the handle was encrusted with semi precious gems and inlaid with gold. Braith looked the man over as he sat down shame facedly. The man spoke, “I... I’m sorry Braith. I... didn’t know what else to do.”

Braith recognized the man as Kyle Goodman. He had recently helped appraise a job that Kyle had participated in. He didn’t understand why Kyle was upset, but he obviously was, so Braith knew he had to sooth.

Braith turned his full attention to Kyle, wanting to solve this issue, “Now Kyle, you should know you can always come talk to me. No need to be violent or try and frighten me. I have no intention of steering you wrong. Tell me, why do you think I owe you?”

Kyle looked up, “You told me wrong. That hat pin, I only got half what you said. You robbed me. You set me up.”

Braith shook his head, “Oh, but I asked you if you wanted me to take care of the pin. I even offered a discount. You cannot possibly hold me responsible for someone of inferior ability only getting half price for you, now can you?”

Kyle looked unsure, then shook his head slowly, “Ah, no Braith, no. I... I just need the coin. Me mum needs to see a doc and I can’t afford to put her up in the city. That pin was supposed to be her lodging money.”

Braith sighed, always one sob story or another. Though he got the sense that Kyle wasn’t misleading him entirely. Maybe the details were cloudy but the man obviously needed the coin.

“Tell you what Kyle. That knife you have there. Why don’t I buy that from you. I’ll give you a more than fair price. You’ll go home happy and no one will get hurt.” Braith reached into his coin purse and pulled out a generous amount. He placed the coins on the table near the knife and waited.

Kyle looked up at Braith in surprise, “Thank you Braith. I am awfully sorry I held the knife to you. I hope you can forgive a desperate man who wasn’t thinking clearly.” Kyle scooped the coins up and slid the knife closer to Braith.

Braith picked up the knife and looked it over more carefully. He noticed the arms of the Lord Creighton on the bottom of the handle and frowned, “No harm, no foul Kyle. Just happy no one was hurt. Where did you get this knife though?”

Kyle looked embarrassed again, “Well... I actually borrowed it from the lad by the bar.” He indicated a young man sitting at the bar talking quietly with a roguish looking young woman.

Samuel raised an eyebrow, “You pick pocketed Nine-fingered Mac?”

Kyle shrugged and stood, “I can leave now?”

Braith nodded and waved him away dismissively. Kyle slunk out of the inn. Braith looked at Samuel, “Nine-fingered Mac?”

Samuel nodded, “Yeah. And that’s Specter with him. They are a part of Coleman’s crew.”

Braith nodded again, the picture becoming slightly clearer in his head, “A knife with Creighton’s mark on it just happens to be in the possession of one of Coleman’s crew shortly after they were run out by a group of the king’s own.”

Samuel narrowed his eyes, “Aye, that is strange. Especially considering Creighton is one of those Dukes that can make use of the king’s men as he sees fit.”

Braith gave a sharp chuckle, “Right. Well now. I believe I have a place I need to get to. Quickly. Can you do me a favour?”

Samuel nodded, “As long as you let me know how this all turns out.”

“Curious as always Sam. I’ll keep you in the loop.” Braith handed the knife to Samuel, “Make sure this gets back in the possession of Specter or Mac. Hide it good so they don’t lose it again. Then, once I’ve got a good head start, let it slip that The Rat is running in Brekin now that the Ghosts have moved out.”

Samuel frowned as he took the knife, “You selling someone out? That’s not like you Braith.”

Braith shook his head, “No, don’t misunderstand. Not selling someone out.” Braith paused, “Simply setting up their escape. The king’s men want to catch someone in the woods. I want to decide who it is they catch. And the Ghosts just volunteered.”

Samuel chuckled, “Always a few steps ahead. Remind me not to get on your bad side Braith.”

Braith flashed a friendly smile, “Ah, but Samuel, you are much too interesting for me to not like you.”

With that, Braith pushed away from the table. He needed to sleep. No sense running tired. He figured on needing his full wits about him in the next few days. A good night’s sleep, then another hard ride. He hoped to catch the Hunts and company in a few days. He knew he needed to catch the group before the king’s troop got to them. They weren’t going to be in Brekin for a few days themselves, so Braith had no reason to push himself beyond his limits.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Braith Alwyn Character Portrait: Charles VanFleet
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#, as written by varxint
Braith awoke early and gathered his belongings. Some hard riding was in his future. Hopefully he would get to the group before the king’s men did. Braith figured he would have to cross the line of troops and made sure to not keep anything incriminating, stashing it in his usual hidey holes around the inn. He headed out to the stables, enjoying the crispness of the morning. He saddled and mounted his horse.

He rode hard through the morning. As the sun rose Braith noted the gathering clouds. He sighed. He didn’t like this hard riding and most assuredly did not want to do it soaking wet. As he crested a small rise he smiled as he saw a carriage in the distance. Once more spurring his horse he caught up to the slower moving carriage. He pulled up next to it and waved to the driver. The driver waved back, cautiously. Braith flashed a friendly smile, “Ho driver, who do you have riding today?”

The driver relaxed slightly at Braith’s friendly tone and the fact that he rode with his face uncovered and not heavily armed, “Good day sir. This is mistress Camilla’s carriage.”

Braith didn’t immediately recognize the name so smiled and nodded, “Does she have a chaperone?”

The driver narrowed his eyes at Braith and Braith chuckled again, “No, no sir. You have me all wrong. I have naught but honourable intentions. I have heard there are highwaymen about this road. I thought, with the rain coming, I might offer my services as chaperone and tie my horse to your team. You would be able to move to the next town faster and be out of danger of dishonourable criminals, whilst I get to stay dry and defend the honour of a lady.”

With that the curtain of the carriage opened slightly and Braith caught the glimpse of a young, pretty, noble woman. He bowed his head and doffed his cap at the woman and flashed another smile, full of charisma. The woman smiled back, coyly and closed the curtain. From the other side of the carriage Braith could make out a woman’s voice, “Driver, does this man speak the truth? Are these roads dangerous? Would you make better time with his horse?”

The driver sighed, “Mi’Lady, all roads could be dangerous. But yes, I have also heard stories of highwaymen. And more horses always mean a faster trip.”

Camilla, “Oh, then we should stop and let this man help us.”

The driver nodded and pulled up the team. Braith stopped and helped the driver attach his horse to the team. He removed his cap and climbed into the carriage, “Good day lady Camilla. My name is Braith Alwyn. I am fortunate to have run across a beautiful lady. It will be my honour to ensure your safety on your trip.”

Camilla smiled shyly at Braith’s compliments. Even if the roads proved devoid of danger at least the company would prove entertaining. The lady folded her hands into her lap, “So tell me, what brought you travelling the road this day?”

As the carriage started moving Braith could hear the rain start. He thought briefly about how the others would be forced to deal with it before shrugging. He had prettier things to be concerned with currently and returned his attentions to the lady.

*

The next morning he wished the Lady Camilla a good journey as they headed in separate directions. The skies were overcast and the way was muddy, but it was still better being able to ride in dry clothes. As the sun broke through the clouds Braith came upon the rearguard of the king’s troop. As he expected they were stopping traffic on the road. Two men signalled him to slow and stop. Braith brought his horse slowly to the men and dismounted, “Good day gentlemen. It is wonderful to see the king’s men patrolling this road. I have heard the Ghosts of Brekin are haunting the area. I’m quite sure I caught glimpses of shadowy figures some distance behind me.”

One of the guards frowned, “What’s it to you? We’re more concerned about where you are headed.”

Braith nodded, an open and respectful look on his face, “No doubt you would be. I would expect no less. I am headed through the Brekin wood. My business is in the trading of trinkets, you see. I collect odds and ends and deliver them to other collectors who do not have the means to travel themselves. I am off to pick up some craftwork currently, as I have a collector in Corwen who is looking for a specific piece. See, it is a hand carved, ivory elephant. The irony is not lost on my collector friend, of course.” Braith continued with details about this phantom craft as the guard’s eyes glazed over.

The same guard that spoke originally, “Right, quiet now. Look, come see our captain. He’ll decide if you get to your collector.”

Braith nodded, “A wonderful suggestion.” He walked his horse with the two men.

Braith saw the shorter man and recognized the trappings of a captain before he was brought forward.

The guard spoke to the shorter man, “Captain VanFleet. This man says he has business in Corwen.”

Braith stepped forward respectfully doffing his cap and removing a glove. He held out his hand as he spoke, “Ah, yes, eventually back in Corwen, but I’m headed through the woods at the moment. Off to meet a craftsman in Huddleston, just on the far side of Brekin. My name is Braith Alwyn, a pleasure to meet an esteemed captain of the King’s men.”