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Back Alive or Maybe Dead [Quest]

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  • As much as the Wild Beast sounds interesting, we need the Old Hand's experience.


    Mouse monk riding a tiny pig avatar courtesy of the very talented forumite Jen!

    Jen's original portrayal of Mouse Monk, featuring some human or other named Tybalt Farwander.

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    • I vote for the Beast. I think we will need some "viciousness" to handle Stitch-Eyes come the end of the tale. Besides, I think Ash has plenty of experience to balance Seres' youthful brashness.

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      • Originally posted by KFinigan View Post
        I vote for the Beast. I think we will need some "viciousness" to handle Stitch-Eyes come the end of the tale. Besides, I think Ash has plenty of experience to balance Seres' youthful brashness.
        We haven't met the ally in the Wastes Ash was searching for yet, they may be able to provide all the savagery we need...


        Mouse monk riding a tiny pig avatar courtesy of the very talented forumite Jen!

        Jen's original portrayal of Mouse Monk, featuring some human or other named Tybalt Farwander.

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        • The Old Hand.


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          • Old hand, I agree with balancing the young blood

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            • I haven't commented in a while, but I cast my vote for the Old Hand.


              Are you in the market for some Martial Arts? Perhaps some custom Artifacts for your campaign?

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              • And that's where they found the Old Hand, a veteran whose best days were behind him. They say old heroes never die - they just fade away. Well, this man was nearly faded to nothing, and I don't doubt that he'd have been forgotten completely if he hadn't become part of this story. But though his strength was nearly gone, his skills and his mind were still very, very sharp.

                They found him in the Lonesome Drove, Outpost's one and only drinking house and town hall. It was a long, low building made from wattle and daub that had once been a mess hall. Our heroes hitched up outside and went in. The interior was a mess of old, recycled furniture scattered haphazardly around a kitchen and a shelf of liquor. Its owner was a thickset woman with greying hair, passing the time plucking a barbud.

                Other than the owner, there was only one other person in that establishment. He was a silver fox with long grey hair, a large bushy mustache, and a tiny beard. He wore a big hat over his face, a large coat around his shoulders, and a rough-but-neatly kept shirt, trousers, and boots. He was in the back corner with his feet up on a table, nursing a drink. Ash thought he might be asleep at first, and was inclined to ignore him.

                Seres, however, got a funny look in her eye the moment she saw him. She started digging through her bags, pulled out an old book, and leafed through it. She found a page with an old picture on it, and started comparing it to the reality in front of her. Finally, she came to a decision. While everyone else was minding their own business, Seres walked over to the old man in the corner and asked, "Mister... are you Damon Lans?"

                The old man blew through his mustache and tipped up his hat, using the same hand he held a drink in. He looked at Seres for a while before answer. "Madam, I believe you're looking for someone else." His drawling pronunciation sounded as antiquated as the rest of him.

                "You look just like your picture," replied Seres, not one to take 'no' for an answer. She thrust her open book at him for him to see.

                He peered at it, then said, "Nope. I'm afraid you are mistaken. Now, if it's all the same to you, I would prefer to be left in peace." He tipped his hat back down.

                "My name is Janev Seres," said Seres. "I had an uncle who used to talk about you all the time. Said the frontier wouldn't exist without you."

                The old man sighed. "Let's assume, just for the sake of argument, that I am who you think I am. What would you want with me?"

                "...just to talk. I want to know... what life is like for you. The things you've seen and done..."

                "I am not in the market for a biographer," said Lans. He waved his drinking hand. "Nor am I here for your entertainment. Now, madam, if there is nothing else I can help you with, please go."

                "There is something you could help us with, if you're really the Damon Lans," said Ash, stepping in.

                Lans tilted his hat up to look at Ash. He squinted. "Have we met?"

                "No, but you might've heard of me. I'm 'Swifthand' Ash."

                "Ah yes. I read a book about you once." He snipped his drink. "Mostly nonsense, if I'm any judge."

                "There's more truth in it than you might think."

                "As you like. So what do you want?"

                Ash put on a serious expression and looked him in the eye. "I'm huntin' a dangerous outlaw, Stitch-Eyes. He's anathema. I could use someone with your experience."

                Lans chuckled and took another drink. "Well, you certainly do have your work cut out for you. But maybe you haven't heard - I'm retired."

                "There's a seven hundred dinar bounty on him."

                "I'm not interested in bounties. Now, listen here." Lans sat up and dropped his cup on the table. He pushed away the right side of his coat with his left hand to reveal his right arm was missing below the shoulder. "If you know my story so well, you'll recall I lost this at the battle of Bronze Hill. The enemy there was anathema too. That's when I learned that hunting is a young man's game." He tugged his coat back into place and picked up his drink again. "Now, I believe I've been patient with your solicitations. I hope you will respect my desire to be left alone."

                "But you're a hero!" Seres blurted out. "You were ridin' the frontier before it was even called that! You were the first marshal! For fifty years, you were the only marshal! You fought the Dunefolk, the Sweene gang, the Pool cartel! You, you, you built the railways! You were the last man standing in Harod's death game! You can't just... quit!" Seres had a shocked, uncomprehending expression as her babble trailed off.

                A pained look passed over Lans' face. "That's all in past," he said with equal parts resignation and bitterness. "Once again - I'm retired. And I mean to stay that way."

                Ash deliberately let those words hang in the air for a bit before she answered.
                • "Folks like you don't 'retire,'" she scolded him. "The Blood means obligation, and that obligation ends the day you die. Not before."
                • "Stitch-Eyes is no ordinary outlaw," she cautioned. "Even for anathema, there's somethin' strange and wrong about him. I've faced him before, and I believe that if he's not brought down, he'll bring disaster to the whole frontier. If we fail, your 'retirement' may not be as peaceful as you'd like. Come on - let me tell you what we're up against."
                • "If that's what you want, I can't force you. But..." she said, drawing the word out. "...do you really want to end your days in here? Dyin' from boredom, with a belly full of bad booze? From one legend to another, let me tell you - that's no way to live. You know it, too, or you would never have stayed in the marshal's saddle for so long. Adventurin' isn't just somethin' you do - it's who you are. Now, you don't have to agree to join us but please, hear me out. Or you'll spend the rest of your sad life wonderin' what you missed."
                • "Do you think you can't do it? I disagree." She started slowly, building more enthusiasm as she went along. "Even with one arm you're stronger than most men, young or old. You've fought more battles than the kid here has had hot dinners. Your edge is only lost if you think it is, and I think you've got some fight in you yet. Just bein' alive right now proves how good you really are."
                • Something else?
                Last edited by semicasual; 07-11-2017, 09:17 AM.


                On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

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                • Do you really want to end your days here old man?


                  I write things.

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                  • Can't force you but...

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                    • Adventurin' isn't just somethin' you do - it's who you are.


                      Are you in the market for some Martial Arts? Perhaps some custom Artifacts for your campaign?

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                      • "If that's what you want, I can't force you. But..." she said, drawing the word out. "...do you really want to end your days in here? Dyin' from boredom, with a belly full of bad booze? From one legend to another, let me tell you - that's no way to live. You know it, too, or you would never have stayed in the marshal's saddle for so long. Adventurin' isn't just somethin' you do - it's who you are. Now, you don't have to agree to join us but please, hear me out. Or you'll spend the rest of your sad life wonderin' what you missed."

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                        • "If that's what you want, I can't force you. But..."


                          Mouse monk riding a tiny pig avatar courtesy of the very talented forumite Jen!

                          Jen's original portrayal of Mouse Monk, featuring some human or other named Tybalt Farwander.

                          Comment


                          • "If that's what you want, I can't force you. But..." she said, drawing the word out. "...do you really want to end your days in here? Dyin' from boredom, with a belly full of bad booze? From one legend to another, let me tell you - that's no way to live. You know it, too, or you would never have stayed in the marshal's saddle for so long. Adventurin' isn't just somethin' you do - it's who you are. Now, you don't have to agree to join us but please, hear me out. Or you'll spend the rest of your sad life wonderin' what you missed."

                            Lans listened in silence, then answered "You do not know when to let go, do you? Well then, you might as well sit down." He pointed across the table and shouted to the owner. "Mevis! I'll have another. A double, if you please."

                            And so Ash and Seres sat down. Ash explained their situation with her usual flare, while Seres listened and occasionally piped in with unnecessary details.

                            Ash talked at some lengths about the Lost Souls gang - all the damage they'd caused, the people they'd killed. She'd been following them for some time before she caught up to them in Freewater, and still she couldn't say for sure where they'd started from. Lans seemed unfazed either by the descriptions of their brutality or the fact that they had, with Stitch-Eyes' help, already killed multiple lawmen.

                            Then Ash talked about her fight with Stitch-Eyes in broad strokes, choosing not to mention the Ranger just yet. Lans asked a lot of questions during this part, mostly asking for specific details about the anathema - how he fought, how he moved, what sort of unnatural tricks he seemed to have. He gave the impression of an expert asking routine questions to find the root of a problem, but he didn't like Ash's answers.

                            "I've neither seen, nor heard of, anything like what you describe," he said, at one point. "Every anathema is different, but all the ones I've met fall into a few groups, just like scripture says. This one... this one is new..."

                            Finally, Ash summed up her activities since her recovery and reintroduced each member of her posse. Bo and Serge had joined the table at this point, and Lans greeted them more politely than he had Ash or Seres. For her part, Bo seemed pleased to meet a dragon who was slightly more to her expectations. Serge looked uncomfortable, and didn't say much. Ash noticed he kept his arms wrapped around him in such a way as to conceal his badge.

                            "...and that's all of it," Ash finished. "So, now you know the background, I'll ask again - would you do us the honor of joining this posse? We'd be mighty greatful for your help."

                            Lans looked at his cup, now mostly empty. "I would hate to see a lifetime of work undone by desperados drunk on power, with no morals to speak of," he said. Then he downed the rest of the cup in one gulp. "I wanted to rest, but I will admit you struck a nerve with your comment about boredom. My good arm is yours."

                            Ash took her hat off and bowed her head. "Thank you, marshal."

                            "Just 'mister' will do, madam. I turned over my badge long ago." Lans stood up from his chair and stretched out his back. "I'll need a little time to get my things. After that, where are we going?"

                            "We're headed for the wastes."

                            "Do you believe Stitch-Eyes is there?"

                            "No, sir."

                            "Then whatever for? There's nothing in the wastes but rocks and Dunefolk."

                            "That's right, sir. It's the Dunefolk I'm interested in. One in particular, I think we'll need to bring Stitch-Eyes down."

                            "Oh? Most Dunefolk I know would skin you before you could get three words out. Certainly, they have no love for frontier folk. Likely as not, they'd think anyone killing us would be an ally."

                            Ash shook her head. "I... have a history with a particular tribe. They're not friends, but they're not enemies either."

                            "Ah. I hear a story behind that one..."

                            Ash frowned and shook her head again. "It's long. We've got other things to do."

                            Lans put his hand on his hip and raised an eyebrow. "If all you've told me is true, we've got a long way to go and plenty of time to talk." He waited, but Ash remained silent and her expression sour. Finally, he relented. "Well, you can think about it for a bit. I'll start packing. Mevis?"

                            Lans walked away to talk with the owner. Ash just looked off into space until Seres shook her shoulder.

                            "Ash?" said Seres, with concern and surprise. "Are you alright?"

                            "I'm fine," Ash replied, brushing her off. "Go see if Lans needs any help."

                            Seres did not look convinced, but she followed along after the old hand. Ash, in the meantime, went outside to check on their mounts and think.

                            It wouldn't be long now before she'd have to start answering questions. In hindsight, Ash had been lucky that the group hadn't gotten into a fight or some other situation where she would be forced to show her powers to survive. Seres, at least, probably guessed that Ash was hiding something, and old Damon Lans would surely notice before long. But was now a good time to tell them all about the Ranger...?
                            • Yes.
                            • No.
                            • Something else?
                            OOC Commentary

                            In my first draft of this, the Old Hand was going to be Nellens Lans. I switched over to "Damon" partly because I like the sound of the name and partly because I didn't want to overuse the Great Houses. More on House Damon later.

                            In case anyone was curious, the title for this Quest comes from the lyrics for Big Iron: "....He came here to take an outlaw back alive or maybe dead / And he said it didn't matter..." I thought it was cool line, and more than a little appropriate for this story.
                            Last edited by semicasual; 11-28-2016, 11:21 AM.


                            On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

                            Avatar by K.S. Brenowitz

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                            • No. Let's keep the Ranger under our hat a while longer.


                              I write things.

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                              • Secrets stay secret unless absolutely necessary to reveal.

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