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Stand and Deliver

Kingdom Of Ethieven

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a part of Stand and Deliver, by Irish Wolf.

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Irish Wolf holds sovereignty over Kingdom Of Ethieven, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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Default Location for Stand and Deliver
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Kingdom Of Ethieven is a part of Stand and Deliver.

14 Characters Here

William "Bill" Hunt [32] Younger Hunt Brother, highwaymen, horse thief, deer poacher and smuggler
Braith Alwyn [28] Do I have a deal for you. Oh, not what you need? Trust me, I'll find it.
Gwendolyn MacFarley "Fox" [24] "We all have our tales of woe, so if it's a sad story you're looking for, find someone more chatty."
Baxter "The Rat" Grishham [19] Well den, lookie wot we has 'ere boys
Georgina "George" Laverence [11] It's George to you Sire, though Monkey is still mightily acceptable.
Valentyne Elfrith [9] The son of a rich man who dreamed of life as an rogue.
Jeremiah Thumes [9] Horse-thief, deserter, murderer, traitor.
Markus O'Cyrus [5] That's Black XII to you. Do you wish for life or death?

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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.

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Elsbeth's heart stopped. Jack was about to shake Brennan's hand when he stopped mere centimeters from completing the deal. He commented to Braith that one couldn't trust a man to close business with his gloves on. Add that to Braith's comment about the glove and Elsbeth felt slightly unnerved.

"Shit." She needed to think fast.

Brennan's eyes and posture gave nothing away. Cold, piercing eyes moved from Jack to Braith, before falling on the Hunt brother again. There was no move to look at the others. Elsbeth feared if she looked at the rest they might take it for fear or that somehow, this had shaken the man. She could do nothing to break Brennan's reputation.

Elsbeth couldn't back out. They knew who Brennan was, knew what he was good for and she was well into this now. She wasn't worried that they wouldn't accept her for being female, they wanted skill and didn't care what for it came in. No, her concern was breaking the mystery and aura that surrounded Brennan of the Grange. Perhaps they would take no notice of her hand, not caring about its size or shape, instead focusing on the sealed pact between the businessmen.

Elsbeth knew she had to chance it. All she could do now was play out events as they occurred and deal with the fall out from that afterwards. She needed this haul, there was too much riding on Brennan's cut for her to walk away now.

The gloved hand retracted, a pull removed the leather garment. Brennan's bare hand went out again to Jack. Elsbeth waited, hoping the man would shake and leave it at that. Brennan's eyes gave away nothing.

“Just shake and let's move on, damn it.” She mentally snapped at Jack. Elsbeth bit down harder on her tongue. Her heart was in her throat and she was glad for the covering on her face. She had a great deal of practice hiding behind Brennan's composed presence on horseback, this was much harder.

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.

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Valentyne was quite and focused on the mission. His light, cheery attitude replace with a look of calm concentration, his smile replaced with a frown as he thinks. "This plan is a bold one for sure... Nothing i cant handle... We have a lot of ground to cover..." Valentyne thinks to himself. He is shook out of his deep thought when The Rat laughs, a noise that makes Valentyne grimace. Valentyne looks back at the map and looks up. "Well, i must say that this plan is excellent." He leans back in his chair. "But who's to say that his Lordship will stay on his intended path if he changed it once already?"

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.

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#, as written by 7achary
A lone mosquito swayed lazily towards Jeremiah's face, he flicked at it absent-mindedly. It was some hours before dawn and there was still a kay or more to go before he reached the village of Corwen. Looking behind him and to the east Jeremiah could just see the soft pinkish fingers of twilight reaching towards the moor.

Below him Supper whuffed with impatience. The poor beast was just starting to get his health back. There had been more than enough grass on the moor, and occassionaly they would happen across berries, but like Jeremiah, Supper needed more than grass and berries. He could feel his own ribs through his jacket, even though there had been plenty of game; a diet of gopher and the odd deer left something to be desired. Three different times he had to move his camp because of the wardens, from habit he kept a kay wide vigil of his camp sites; and it certainly paid off. He had learned early on, as a scout, the trick of seeing and not being seen.

With a sigh Jeremiah gave the horse a pat on the neck before squeezing with his knees to get it moving again. Each day and night on the moor had brought Supper closer to becoming his namesake, but with the word Jeremiah had received from some outlaws passing through the moor he was glad he had stayed his hand where the beast was concerned. It seemed the Hunt Brothers were at it again, and hopefully it would work out better than the last time they had all ridden together. "Not to mention the three guinea that bastard Jack owes me."

Supper ignored him and plodded along, the horse evidently not thinking the comment worth a reply. Reaching into his satchel Jeremiah pulled out some salted pork a prosperous farmer a few kays back would never miss. He might miss the grain, but Supper needed to be well-fed. Jeremiah took pride in his knowledge of horseflesh, and Supper was a better beast than most.

After twilight's pink fingers had begun to firmly grip the surrounding lands, making an eerie haze in the fog, they reached something akin to a road with a weather beaten kaystone on which barely legible letters spelled out Corwen. Jeremiah tossed the last bite of salted pork to a three-legged mutt sitting next the stone and put his knees to Supper, urging him faster.

Supper passed the Dog at a fast trot. A group of riders appeared around a stable out of the fog, too disorganized to be military and too many to be bounty hunters. He hoped. Jeremiah slowed Supper to an easy canter. As he pulled within a few yards he could start to make out faces. "'Lo, Jack. Good to see Bill's still around to keep you above ground." Jeremiah pulled his steady gaze from Jack and nodded at the younger Hunt brother. "The chant is you bastards got some work for dishonest folk like myself."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brennan of the Grange/Elsbeth Waterton Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Jeremiah Thumes
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Brennan sat impassive. The brother's, no doubt with much intelligence from Braith were keeping an eye on the Duke's movement. Not surprising but good to hear. The Hunt's had a reputation for a reason. Bill told Fox to be ready at first light and as tankards were raised, Elsbeth relaxed just a little in the chair.

The hard part was over. Now just to meet the next day, take down the Duke's caravan and make off with the loot. As the group broke up for the evening, Brennan stood and with a nod of his hat to the group headed for the door.

Elsbeth wanted desperately to pull the scarf from her face, to breath in the night air and free herself a little from the bonds of being Brennan. That was too close, too stressful and now some of them knew her secret and seemed somewhat trustworthy enough to keep it, at least for now.

She headed to the stable, got her horse and slipping on Brennan rode off into the night. Riding for a while ensuring no one was following, Elsbeth switched roads and headed into the brush. Once in a copse of trees.

Sliding out of the saddle, Elsbeth pulled the scarf off and unbuttoned her coat. She tied off the horse and then sat heavily on the ground, leaning on a log. Her head went back. Too close, that had all been too close and too stifling. She could have walked in there as herself and it would have been so much easier. They had taken to Fox, no questions another woman might not have bothered them.

Elsbeth drew off her hat. Of course, Fox was extremely attractive and flirty and Elsbeth was not. With a sigh she place her hat over her face. It didn't matter, Brennan's reputation got her in this and she would use it for as long as she could. She had built that up after all. Her father started it but it was Elsbeth who had been keeping the figure alive and active. “Play to your strengths. Ride and shoot, these things above all else you have the advantage on.” Her father's voice penetrated her thoughts, a longing built in her chest.

Elsbeth closed her stinging eyes and fell into a restless sleep. The log and ground were hard, possible mistakes in the plan kept playing in her head and the damn horse wouldn't settle down. Well before the meeting time Elsbeth sat and cleaned all four of her pistols. It was a loving way in which she paid attention to them. Each one was cleaned, and readied. She would not be the weak link in this plan.

Standing, Elsbeth fixed her clothing and her hair. Finally, placing her hat on her pinned up hair and pulling the scarf across her face, Brennan mounted up and rode off.

Arriving at the Dog's stable at a slow gait, she stopped and watched as another rider approached where the brother's waited. None of the rest were here yet. This person was new. With a light kick of her heels she steered her horse towards the brothers and the stranger.

Brennan gave the men a nod but remained in the saddle. Blue eyes looked over this new man. Overhearing his question, Elsbeth looked to the brothers. Another body meant more cuts but her share would still be plenty. She wondered if the Hunt's knew the man or if like the rest he had come to meet them but perhaps just arrived late. No matter in the end, if no one else showed the extra body would be appreciated.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brennan of the Grange/Elsbeth Waterton Character Portrait: William "Bill" Hunt Character Portrait: Jeremiah Thumes
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A figure rode from the fog. The Hunt brothers were relaxed, causally resting one hand within their coats, on the grips of their pistols. Of course they were expecting their new gang but that didn't mean a cocky bounty hunter or the local sheriff, might just have gotten wind of them. However, those hands were taken away from the weapons, as the figure turned into a face they knew. Jeremiah Thumes, the last time they had seen him, was months ago, as the band of brigands they were running with, had split up to avoid the close pursuit of the yeomanry. Their other two companions from that gang were dead. George "Bonnie" Barlow had done the Harrow Hill Jig and Mac, well good old Mac wasn't a man to be taken alive for trial and punishment.

"Why Jeremiah" protested Jack, doing his best to look hurt, "We've never done dishonest work. We've only ever helped ta ease tha burdens of tired and overworked horses."

"Aye" added Bill, trying to keep a smile off his face, "But we 'ave some honest work if ye want. Tha 'ol Duke ah Starford is ridin' south with ah heavy coach. We're off with some goodly folk, ta help his beasties get some rest and make sure tha next horses his lordship finds, don't 'ave to pull so hard."

The brothers laughed softly, as they pulled themselves up into the saddles. Bill's black mare shook her head a little,clearly not pleased with be awakened this early and missing her oats. The gelding on the other hand, looked to be as ready and frisky as a colt, dancing slightly in place, as Jack have his neck a light rub, as if to tell the beast, just wait a little longer.

"And we got some fine company" said Jack, tipping his hat to the newly arrive and still silent highwayman, "Brennan of the Grange, as deemed our cause worthy."

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.

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Character Portrait: Markus O'Cyrus
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Drunk and bitter. That was how Markus felt when he woke up after consuming his pint of bourbon, half swearing he thought he died and hell spat him back out due to his split soul. "Son of a.." He began before feeling ill. He shook his head several times before checking his surroundings. The large group of people that seemed to have been discussing something was gone. "Probably some no-good highwaymen off to do no good." He muttered to himself before shaking his head. "When I'm sober I'll go after them."

With that he leaned back on his chair. He sighed. "What good can I do if I hunt drunk?" He asked himself whilst having a spinning feeling in his head. "I must have a clear head. That is the First of the twelve rules I set up for meself." He hiccuped out of embarrassment. "Gah, that bourbon had a kick in it." he muttered. "I need to remind the Barmaid of the Dog to make sure that the drinks are of a good age before carting it off to a customer."

Markus eyed a nearby bucket with his one exposed right eye, as he then took it and did the usual business of a drunken man. When he was done chucking out the beer he consumed he wandered to the entrance of the inn to toss the brew aside. He had to get some ice cold water on his face to full snap himself out of the drunken stupor. Then he can go out to review any new hunts.

"After all, as they always say about me," Black XII said to himself. "I am simply, one hell of a bounty hunter."

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.

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#, as written by 7achary
Jeremiah swayed slightly with the movement of Supper beneath him. The songs of early morning birds surrounded the group, making Jeremiah feel almost at home. He turned his head as Bill pulled up beside him with details of their expedition and a friendly quip. His lips quirked momentarily, "Months on the moor will do that. Have you ever met a fat hunter?"

Jeremiah glanced to the side of the road where a raccoon was returning home after it's nocturnal meanderings. Though not completely sure, he thought he could hear something large dash in the opposite direction of the road, most likely a deer. "When we get nearer to our destination I can go ahead and make any arrangements you feel we might need."

With a backward glance he caught Brennan looking his way. The man was quiet. Jeremiah was not one to judge a man until the action started, but he had a feeling that the man was more than competent. From the easy way he carried his pistols to the practiced form with which he rode his horse. Something about the way Brennan sat the beast bothered Jeremiah, but he dismissed it as he looked toward the man styled Rat.

A dangerous man, to be sure. His flickering eyes and the almost twitchy motions of his hands put Jeremiah ill at ease. Everytime he looked the man's way his own hands went unconciously to his weapons, but Jeremiah would always check himself. He considered that he himself must also look like quite the villain after his recent ordeal. Rat had yet to prove himself any more or less dishonorable than any other man. Jeremiah snorted aloud. Honor.

Leaning forward to pat Supper's neck, he stole a glance at Fox. She struck quite the figure, from the way she rode her horse to the movement of her lips as she spoke. Jeremiah grunted awkwardly and looked to Jack. The devil-may-care smile plastered on his face as he managed to swagger in the saddle. Jeremiah actually grinned, the expression strange on his weathered and tan face. Some people never change.

"I figure there's a stream about five kays up and a little to the south. If we keep in this direction." Jeremiah took in the lay of the land with a practiced ease. "I suppose there might be somethin' worth eatin' nearby as well. How far do you reckon we'll get today, and how far do ya want it to be?"

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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...”

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?"

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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.

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#, as written by 7achary
Taking the cheesecloth sack gingerly Jeremiah opened it one handed as he rested it on the pommel of his saddle. The Fox could be heard bantering with Jack. He commented in a low voice to Bill, "Seems to me Jack's found hisself a lass that's as wordy and roguish as he fancies his own self to be."

He set the slices of corned beef between chunks of bread in a manner a lord he had served under ate so as not to get grease on his cards when gambling. Around a mouthful he replied in a loud voice, "Aye you have the right o' it, Bill. We all of us be on the same side so long as no one's beady little eyes get bigger than their share o' the spoils."

Watching the sun rise in the sky towards noon, Jeremiah slowly chewed the last bite of his first meal in a day or more. He tucked the rest into his belt. It wouldn't do to overeat now, he'd just feel sickly later. Taking a swig from his waterskin to absolve the dryness from the bread and dried corn beef, the scout glanced back at the quiet Brennan. Their eyes met momentarily and Jeremiah gave a nod of professional respect.

Once again something about the way the quiet gunman rode his horse bothered Jeremiah, but as he put the stopper in his waterskin he dismissed it as idle fancy. Eight days. A short trek as far as he was concerned. Not quite looking at Fox he wondered if the lady would be able to keep up for that long. He hoped so. It would not do for a woman to be beholden to any of the men here. Jeremiah rested his hand lightly on his sabre. There was probably no need to worry, but eight days was a long time for strangers to learn more about each other. A long time.