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Gwendolyn MacFarley "Fox"

"We all have our tales of woe, so if it's a sad story you're looking for, find someone more chatty."

0 · 271 views · located in Kingdom Of Ethieven

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

Description

Gwen is a slim young woman with creamy white skin, and a shapely figure that makes disguising her gender rather difficult, so for the most part she doesn't try. She wears tall boots, britches, a white frock, and a long dark overcoat that's at least one size too big for her. She keeps her long, flaming red hair pinned up in a bun, and hidden under a plain tricorn hat, and wears an old, dark, blue, scarf that hides the bottom half of her face when robbing on the King's Highway, her yellow green eyes the only striking feature showing on her face.

Personality

In reality, Gwen is cautious and a compulsive planner with a multitude of trust issues, though outwardly she presents a mask full of witty retorts and mocking smiles that tends to keep people at a safe distance. Her less outgoing nature seems to mesh well into a good partnership with Rooster, who seems to be nothing but manic energy and a caution-to-the-wind kind of attitude. They keep each other balanced. Gwen is also deeply distrustful of the nobility, with a more than noticeable grudge that rears its head when robbing Lords and Ladies. For those that she does trust however, she presents flickers of her old self, full of soft smiles (if no longer effortless and bright) and quiet kindness. She is not particularly open about her past, and does not care to talk about it.

Equipment

2 flint lock pistols
A plain knife in each boot
A decrotive silve and amber encrusted dagger
A chestnut colored horse with saddle bags

History

Once upon a time, Gwen had a very different outlook on life. The daughter of the Blacksmith and Governess for the Viscount of Wellington, Gwen grew up on a sprawling estate in the country, and even befriended some of the Viscount’s numerous children, whom she played with as a child. Life there was good an happy, and as Gwen became a teenager, she even assumed a role within the household. George, the Viscount’s fourth son and her childhood playmate, were particularly close, sharing stolen kisses now and again out of site in empty rooms or parlors. Gwen was never foolish enough to believe it would lead to anything, but they were both young and inexperienced, and it was fun. And of course George being a fourth son inheriting no title, and quite possibly looking to go into trade, if he’d ever called on her she wouldn’t have objected. ..

Her happy, simple, country life however, was brought to a brutal end however, the summer of the year she turned sixteen. The MacFarley’s had very little of anything of real value, but the intricately decorative dagger encrusted with silver and polished amber made by Gwen’s grandfather was proudly displayed at her father’s forge. A visiting Duke happened to take a fancy to it one day, and offered to buy it as a pretty trinket. Gwen’s father refused. Unaccustomed to being denied, the Duke’s passing interest became determination to have the dagger. When Gwen’s father refused again, the Duke left angry. That night, a pair of the Duke’s diamond cufflinks went missing, and upon search of the household the next morning, were miraculously found at her father’s forge. Accused by the Duke of Stealing, her father was hauled off to prison that very day, and the noble family she he served and trusted her entire life, watched idly by, unwilling to endure the wrath of a Duke, despite their doubts of her father’s guilt.

The fine leveled against her father was a ridiculous 50 guineas , more money than she could ever hope to pay for his release with her wages as a household servant, and after the Viscount and his family’s betrayal, she could no longer live at their estate. It was on the road that she met Rooster, the ridiculously flamboyant highwayman/poet, and he who took her under his wing, showing her the ropes so to speak, to being a gentleman robber. He even gave her the nickname “Fox” due to her appearance, joking that a Rooster and a Fox made quite the pair, though few find Rooster’s jokes as amusing as Rooster. Her father died in prison before she could accumulate the 50 guineas, a terrible loss that still plagues her now, five years later, and with nowhere else to go, Gwen fully embrased the life of a highwayman.

So begins...

Gwendolyn MacFarley "Fox"'s Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gwendolyn MacFarley "Fox"
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“Black Jack and Bill? Rooster, what in God’s name are you getting me involved with?” Gwen hissed harshly to the man beside her as she tied down her horse and began walking towards the Dog. Rooster had been adamant about setting her up with a job before leaving to tend to his “private business”, (which of course referred to his yearly month long gaunt down south where he’d attempt to publish his poems) though until now had been rather unforthcoming about the details of the job he’d found. Black Jack and Bill had quite the reputation for daring antics, and that was just when it was the two of them. If they were the ones sending out the word to form a gang, this had to be big, which in the way of robbing was not always better.

“Loot m’dear, as always, with a side of adventure. Do try to look more enthused by the prospect.” Came Rooster’s retort as he sauntered into the inn and began eyeing the crowd for their quarry. “Besides, word is they’re planning to rob a Duke, but if you’re not interested…” He left the last part hanging, brown eyes shifting over to Fox’s face to gage her reaction. He saw the schooling of her features, obviously she was trying not to show any emotion, but she couldn’t quite hide the hardening of her eyes. “I’m in.” She replied with a calm he knew she did not feel.

“Of course you are. Let us not forget who is the brain behind our merry little band.” Rooster boasted, to which Fox merely scoffed. They both knew that Rooster might have been the audacity behind their duo, but Fox did all the planning. “Aha, and there we have them.” Rooster remarked as he spotted the pair of cockade decorated hats. They made their way over to the pair, noticing they were no longer alone . “See Fox, you’ll hardly be lonely a’tall whilst I’m away. I take it you two are the ones putting out that ad about town yes?”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Gwendolyn MacFarley "Fox" Character Portrait: Baxter "The Rat" Grishham
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#, as written by ElRey
Nestled in one of the darkest corners of the Dog a group of haggard drunks were rabble raising nearly the loudest of all the bars patrons. Small pouches filled with coin clinked and jangled as they were tossed across the heavy ale soaked oak table, bets shouted for everyone to hear on the ill-advised five finger fillet game which centered around a wobbling man with his head on a lazy swivel. It was clear he had drank away his coordination several hours ago, each thrust was off time, the blade hung precariously from limp fingers, narrowly missing the crooked bony fingers. Clack-clack-clackclak-clackclackclack-clack. Guffaws and cheers rang out from the onlookers. In truth Baxter was quite capable of doing this parlor trick with his eyes closed, and from beneath the overhang of greasy matted hair he peered about the bar, watching idly as the others flocked to his potential employers.

The Rat wasn't one who took pride in knowing things. He wasn't any kind of mastermind, didn't worry about competition or the exploits of others. It simply didn't concern him. Loyalties were temporary in this business, passing opportunities for the greater gain. His entire career had been made up of such situations, drifting between groups and heists looking for the next big haul and great thrill. Instincts and professional detachment were everything. Still, even he hadn’t escaped all murmurings of the Hunt brothers reputation.

Thieves after his heart those two were. ClackClack-Clack-Clack-ClackClackClack-Clack.

But the others they were attracting…. That was another issue all together now wasn’t?

For one they seemed to have very little qualm with waltzing right up and making their intentions known, even with the meager wig disguise, eyes had been drifting over toward the Hunt’s table all evening. Now with a handful of equally nefarious characters filling up their seats; people were bound to take notice. The self-righteous powers that be had spies too, and with the Dog being a hot spot for illicit activities, that was bound to cause problems on down the line. Clack-ClackClackClack-Clack.

Secondly, they seemed soft, amateurish. They lacked the hollow gleam of raw determination which The Rat sought in his companions. With the exception of perhaps the thinner of the duo which had most recently joined the table. He seemed young, the curve of his face was too slight, the round of his hips to wide. The oddly shaped boys body language oozed reluctance, and it was clear his friend was the motivating force of their volunteering. But the eyes; they read of something much different.

Third, and most important of all; it meant taking a much smaller piece of the pie. His lips curled, the speed of the knife increasing. Would he simply content himself with sharing the spoils when he would no doubt have to pick up their slack?

Thwump!

He buried the knife in the already heavily scarred wood between his thumb and ring finger his jagged mouth twisting into a pleased grin.

“You lot are lucky ta ‘uv found me in sucha generous mood.” He stood, all feigned intoxication vanishing in an instant as he spring-boarded himself off the booth and over the table, leaving his muddy boot print across the abandon winnings.

In a few, over-flourished steps he was upon the group, jostling in between the duo and elbowing them out of the way. With a theatrical spinning of his hands The Rat dipped his head in a shallow bow. “Lo’ dere laddies. ‘eard you may need ta be getting’ tru a lock er two.”

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: 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: 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
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Gwen ended up spending the night at the Inn, the call of a warm bed and roof too tempting to pass up with the knowledge that there was a likely long and hard job ahead that may well involve getting little sleep. She slept quite well that night, dagger tucked securely under her pillow, and was up before the sun. She’d always been a light sleeper, and years along the highway had only heightened this. She’d moved her mare to the stables sometime in the night after she’d paid for her room, and was there now, softly patting the side of her chestnut mare’s neck in a comforting gesture as she readied the mount.

She heard voices coming from outside the stable, and approached at a soft trot with an easy grip on her pistol beneath the folds of her overcoat. She relaxed that hold somewhat when she saw it was the Hunts and Brennan, as well as a gaunt looking man whom the Hunts appeared to know. She stopped her mare along side Jack, with a brow quirked slightly.

“I see. Then I suppose that makes me the un-fine company then Jack?” Fox bantered as she gave the other man an appraisal of the purely professional sort. If he was to join them, she needed to get a read off 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
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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: Baxter "The Rat" Grishham
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#, as written by ElRey
The slimy serpent of a man had elected to sleep in the gutters just outside of the inn, lest his reputation decide to catch up with him in the warm comforts of the inn. He had left his bone pale horse, Quinn, to rest in the stable knowing full well the fiery tempered mare would appreciate a rest before the task ahead. The Rat had slept soundly, more than used to sharing his filthy beds with other vermin and insects. It was the sound of clomping hooves that would drive him from his slumber, peeking out of his small trench to catch view of an unidentified man approaching the Hunt brothers.

This newcomer was dressed like some kind of soldier, unconsciously gnarled fingers wrapped themselves around the hilt of The Rat’s cruel looking dagger. A call to spill blood ringing in his ears. It became clear in short order the man was not a threat to his new employers, and based on the looks passed between the trio, even through the fog, there was some clear recognition in the men’s faces.

From his distance he could only make out the odd word of their banter, and as he collected himself, more familiar persons joined the Hunt’s in front of the tavern. The two women first, followed by their eloquent host Braith. As he approached he caught the well groomed man’s parting words. More playful jabs in the direction of Fox.

He said no words to his companions, steering himself direction in Braith’s wake, eager to grab his own steed and get the journey underway. Quinn huffed, less than pleased to be rousted, but complied after being coaxed from her stall with a bit of apple The Rat produced from the interior of his layered coats. Throwing his stored saddle over the beast’s back and securing it in place before taking his position atop it.

With a gentle nudge of his heels Quinn trotted lazily from the stables, shaking her mane and loudly bemoaning her all too early wake up.

“Eaze up dere gurl.” he cooed, giving her a soft pat behind the ear. Turning his attention to the forming party he gave the cast a delighted grin. “Mornin’ yew lot. Lez mayk sum horsies happeh on dis fine day, shall we?”

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.

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: Baxter "The Rat" Grishham
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"Nah" said Bill, smiling over at his old comrade, "But tha ones I've have met had more flesh ta 'em. Not just skin and bones like ye."

The younger Hunt's smile fade a little, each time he noticed Jeremiah reach for his saber and pistol, when the lean scout looked back towards the last riders in the company. He doubted that it was Brennan that was disturbing him, after glancing back himself and getting another look at the Rat. The ragged but legendary man, looked like one of the four horse men, had gone rogue, ride across the world ahead of time. It was unsettling, the way even his stomach felt queasy, when he looked upon him. Rat was the kind of man, who would make you want to double check your armaments, every couple of minutes.

"He's on our side" muttered Bill, before lifting his voice, "We make for tha border ah Brekin Wood, on Barrowmoor. Jack says we'll catch his Lordship, if we make it there in nine days but he wants ta be there in eight. Take tha time ta set up an ambush. So no stoppin ta hunt Jeremiah but if ye're hungry..."

Chuckling, the younger brother reached down into his saddlebag and pulled out a small bag, made from cheesecloth, the corners tied together with a bit of string. Inside where a few slices of a dry corned beef and bread. It was one of several he was carrying, meals easy to eat in the saddle, knowing his brother would not want to stop while there was daylight in the sky.

Jack rode easily, unaware of two of his compatriots threatening to break out in violence. Instead, he reined the frisky brown gelding next to Fox's chestnut mare. For a few moments, he looked ahead into the growing light of the day and the grasping fingers of fog in the trees, watching as the road continued ever on. Then he looked to his left, at the highwaywoman in their midst and smiled, in a way that should have said, it was for Fox alone he smiled for.

"So" mused the older brother, "What drove ah lovely vixen like ye're self, ta take up ridin along tha King's highways? Surely a lovely young thing like ye, could 'ave snared herself a well ta do merchant or even one 'o tha gentry for ah husband, live tha easy life in ah big house. Why ye wanderin about tha countryside with tha likes 'o us?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Gwendolyn MacFarley "Fox"
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Perhaps it was because her thoughts had already strayed to George, with his neat cropped ruddy hair, shy smiles, and inexperienced but eager kisses, that Jack’s question caught Gwen unawares. The amount of cutting detail in particulate brought on an unbidden sharp intake of breath as she was drawn out of her own thoughts, and something flashed across her eyes that could almost be described as haunted. But as quickly as it had come, it was gone, and anyone not paying close attention would have missed it entirely. Fox’s mask was firmly in place, as she scrunched her face up in mock contemplation.

“Well now Jack, I see why you are a highwayman. You’re rubbish with sales.” Fox quipped playfully, avoiding the question entirely. “Besides, rich men are boring. The gentry drone on so dully on things of such little consequence, you’d think they’d have cotton shoved between their ears, and merchants always seem to have something to complain about, and are never shy about sharing. I’d die of boredom before I turned thirty.”

“And what about you Black Jack Hunt, how much of that fearsome reputation of yours can a lovely young thing like me rely upon?” Fox returned with a suggestive smile of her own, purposely leaving her remark well within the realm of innuendo.

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: Baxter "The Rat" Grishham
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Brennan's eyes remained forward as the figure on the chestnut brown horse watched the conversation between Bill and Jeremiah. Jeremiah seemed skittish and while both men cast glances behind them it was clearly not Brennan that was throwing off the overly thin scout. Rat seemed to cause some distress to Jeremiah.

The silent gunman watched as Bill tried to put the other man's mind at ease and also fill his stomach. The Hunt brother passed Jeremiah a bundle and Elsbeth was sure there had to be food in it. Had she been more prone to speaking she might have offered him some of her rations.

Just behind her Elsbeth could hear the playful back and forth between the other Hunt and Fox. She wanted desperately to turn and tell the two to just get it over with and find a meadow to go bed each other in or to stop. That sort of thing could be distracting as the moment grew nearer. Fortunately, there were days before that became an issue. Unfortunately, there were days before that became and issue, which meant that Elsbeth would have to listen to the two continue this duel of innuendo during that time.

Elsbeth bit her tongue as Brennan's facade never wavered. It was going to be a long journey and likely even longer nights. She wondered if her tongue would be able to cope with the abuse it was certain to take. Cold, blue eyes almost rolled as Jack asked what brought Fox to the group and Fox countered with her own tease.

Carefully controlling her irritation at the clumsy and obvious flirting, Elsbeth watched Jeremiah eat. He seemed to be a careful man, only eating some of the food and saving the rest for later. As he drank, Jeremiah's eyes met Brennan's.

Elsbeth looked at the man, her eyes a clear blue even under her hat. He was trying to get a sense of her, that much she could tell. She didn't blame him as she was doing the very same thing to him.

Under the scarf, Elsbeth smirk just slightly. It was something that no one would notice, so small a gesture that it was. It seemed that Jeremiah was watching Fox as well. It was not the first time the thin scout looked over that the shapely woman since they had left the inn. In-fighting over a woman was not something they could afford.

Her mouth was dry but she couldn't chance moving the scarf to take a drink. With it gone there would be no hiding her gender. If Braith had ridden with them perhaps she would have had a better chance of keeping things a secret with his help. He knew but seemed to respect her desire to keep up the act. He might have assisted but as it was, he was off on his own and as Elsbeth would just have to be very careful.

Licking her lips under the scarf, she pushed the nagging call for water out of her head and focused on the road ahead of her.

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: Baxter "The Rat" Grishham
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The group rode on that first afternoon. The banter and flirting slowly growing quiet as the sun rose higher. They stopped at a stream in the early afternoon to rest the horses and get some cool water for themselves.

As early evening began to fall the decision was made to ride for as long as possible. The Hunts led the group down the road and in the early dusk camp was made for the first night. The riders made camp, a fire lit and rations consumed. There was talk that evening, tales of past deeds and daring escapes. The Hunts did most of the talking. Others made witty comments or add joking at the expense of the brothers. Some remained silent.

The group drifted off, each person doing their very best to get comfortable and sleep. Overall the night was peaceful, the occasional person getting up to relieve themselves being the greatest disturbance.

The sun rose and some of the group were already up and tending to the horses. Light meal was consumed and they headed out early. Much like the previous day this one found them band of highwaymen in good spirits. That was until the clouds began to roll in. All eyes turned and watched the storm brew to the east.

An hour later the riders were riding hunched over trying to keep the rain from their eyes. Hats were pulled down and there was no chatter. Thunder sounded every so often. No one wished to stop but they all slid from their saddles and let the horses rest.

They were a sad sight. Soaked to the skin the group did their best to seek shelter under trees while the horses nibbled grass. There were grumbles but no real complaints. They all knew if they were going to pull this off they could not let the weather slow them down.

Riding again for a few more hours they made it through their second day on the road. Camp that night was miserable despite the rain finally having let up. It was a light drizzle by the time they each huddled in the driest spot they could find. There was no fire, no merry chatter or stories this second night. No one was in the mood for banter or teasing, preferring instead to imagine themselves in warm beds and not on the muddy, cold ground.

It was overcast as the men and single woman rose to ready themselves for their third day of travel. The Hunts tried to bolster their comrades spirits with talk of the loot they were sure to get from the duke but even they didn’t have it in them.

It wasn’t until lunch time that the sun finally won the battle with the clouds. By mid afternoon the sun was shining and the ground began to dry. As the sunlight filtered through the trees the groups demeanour changed. There was bawdy talk of girls in the various towns the men had been to, flirting and teasing with Fox and the beginnings of talk about an actual plan for the raid on the Duke’s carriage. Some ideas were tossed out, some quickly cast aside. The decision was made that with a few more days to go they had some time to figure out the plan.

They rode hard for the last few hours of the third day, attempting to make up for the slower pace of the rainy day. Jack pushed the group hard, wishing to stick to his eight day or less journey.

That night the highwaymen eased themselves out of their saddle, muscling aching from the rough pace. The fire was lit and it didn’t take long for the riders to drift off to sleep. The day’s journey had taken its toll.

With the chirping birds the riders awoke to the prospect of a fourth day of hard riding. The Hunts tossed back and forth ideas on what Braith might be up to. Their comrade had a habit of showing up with useful bits of information and the fact that he had rode off on his own meant that he had things to learn.

Much like the previous days the group stopped around noon. Jack pushed them to ride hard and fast when they started out again. The roads were devoid of other riders, not unusual as the Hunts had purposely chosen roads that were low traffic.

By the fourth night, they were sitting around the fire. Bill had a stick in his hand and was drawing out the road and trees. He began to mark out where the Duke would be and where he was thinking it would be best to ambush the carriage. He looked around waiting for the input of the others.

****
Elsbeth rode silently and avoided the others as often as she could. She made camp at night far off from the others and was the first to be asleep, pulling her hat over her eyes but still listening.

She woke before all the rest, moved far away where she wouldn’t be stumbled upon. Once convinced that she was away from the others she would remove her hat and scarf, finger brush and repin her hair and then return to the others.

The fourth night, Brennan sat near the fire staying awake unlike other nights. Blue eyes, bright in the firelight watched Bill scratch out the drawing. They scanned it looking for the spot where she thought her skill on the horse and with her guns would be the most useful.

Standing Brennan moved towards the Hunts. Gently taking the stick from Bill, Brennan scratched out a B in the ground. It was a spot where she would see the duke riding up the road and would be able to move up beside the carriage easily. Brennan sat back down on the log he had been previously poised on. He watched the others so see where they thought they would be laying in wait.