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Back Alive or Maybe Dead [Quest]

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  • #31
    "Mister, when there's trouble around, the safest place to be is right behind me." Ash raised her mug. "Or I'm not Swifthand Ash." Despite Duwain's anxious objections, Ash stayed in the bar until late, when new and different patrons started coming in. She only went out once, to take King's saddle off and get the dragon some water. The rest of the time, she sipped at beer and regaled anyone who would listen about the time she took on the Demon-Ursine of Cragrock with nothing but her bare hands, pun intended.

    When the sun went down, Freewater became much livelier - or rowdier, depending on how you looked at it. Folks who spent their day hiding inside came out to play. Folks who spent their day working outside came in for a breather. The few streets became crowded with people looking for a good time, a place to rest, a fight, or all three. And some of this crowd spilled into the Tap & Tack. They were mostly men, mostly laborers, and mostly too tired to really carouse. But the sheer volume of them made the saloon a loud place.

    Duwain got to work, taking tabs, collecting money, serving drinks. Ash, too, started getting busy - meeting and greeting, doing little tricks, and telling her stories. Pretty soon, she'd gathered a small troupe around herself at one of the tables. Somebody broke out a deck of cards, and five people joined Ash for a few rounds of Nexus Hold 'Em The rest hung around and drank, content to watch the action while she talked and talked.

    "...The Red Gulch mining company was big on branding, you see," said Ash, idly looking over her cards. "They liked to put a big, gilt paint 'RG' on every sack of firedust they shipped. And in the afternoon sun, you could see those letters shining half a mile away. So, when I saw the Flame Spider Riders bearing down on me, the second thing I noticed was those glittery markers on their saddles. And that gave me an idea. I ran up onto the ridge with a bucket of pitch, some kindling, and the prospector's footbow. I started a fire with ol' Smokey here." She tapped on her holstered flamepiece. "Then I took my arrows and stuck them in the pitch. One after the other, I set those arrows alight and shot them at the sparkling bags. And BOOM!" Ash slammed a fist on the table, startling the other players and splashing some beer. "People and horses, butchered by dust-blooms. The whole plain was on fire." She paused to take a swallow. "By the time I was out of arrows, they were all dead or running scared. And that, my wonderful audience, is how one woman can take on a hundred men with only ten shots."

    "A remarkable story," said the mustachioed fellow on her left. "But I believe it is your turn, madame. Will you call, raise, or fold?"

    "Raise," said Ash, automatically. She pushed some coins from a small pile in front of her to the larger pile in the middle of the table. "And I'll take one." Ash felt pretty good about her hand - two black Aces, two black Eights. She tossed the fifth and last card to the dealer, figuring to get a third Ace or Eight. But before she could get the Full House she was hoping for, she felt a hand on her shoulder.

    The gaggle of onlookers around her got quiet. Ash looked up and behind her. The hand on her shoulder belonged to a tall woman wearing a fine black dress, all ripples and frills. Said finery was marred by a visible stain on the midriff, around a crudely stitched-up tear. The woman herself looked much rougher than her attire - shaved bald, dozens of piercings on her face, ears, and scalp, the right side of her face all scarred up and her right eye missing. Her one bloodshot eye glared down at Ash.

    "So, ya think yer tough, do ya?" said the rough woman, contemptuously. "Don't look so tough to me. You wear that piece but I bet you ain't never been burned." Her hand started to squeeze painfully.

    Ash smiled back at her and said...
    • "You're right, I haven't. Nobody's ever caught me, and nobody ever will."
    • "You're wrong, but I can understand why you might think so. Well, some of us bear our scars more gracefully than others."
    • "If you don't take your hand off me in five seconds, somebody will get burned. And Iet me tell you, it won't be me."
    • Something else?
    Last edited by semicasual; 10-16-2016, 03:43 PM.


    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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    • #32
      "Your right, I haven't*. I thought the point wasn't to get burned. Why don't you pull yourself up a chair and we can deal you in?"

      *I assume this is a lie, but caution doesn't fit our persona.


      I write things.

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      • #33
        Nice dress, you might want to take better care of it. For example, if you don't take your hand off me in five seconds, somebody will get burned. And Iet me tell you, it won't be me.



        Like my Avatar? Courtesy of Jen! : Anybody want their characters to be experimented on ? post 98
        An Exalt is never unarmed.

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        • #34
          Ash has seen this a thousand times before. This woman's bent on starting a fight, and there's probably no chance we're talking our way out of this one. Might as well let some of our true color show.

          "If you don't take your hand off me in five seconds, somebody will get burned. And Iet me tell you, it won't be me."


          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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          • #35
            The point is not to get burned, don't worry, you seem to have realized your mistake before your stupidity fully blinded you. You should watch out for lightning with all that metal in your face though. But seriously we're all impressed, you are very scary.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by wonderandawe View Post
              "Your right, I haven't*. I thought the point wasn't to get burned. Why don't you pull yourself up a chair and we can deal you in?"

              *I assume this is a lie, but caution doesn't fit our persona.

              I vote this one.


              I post Artifacts in this thread. How I make them is in this thread.
              I have made many tools and other things for 3rd Edition. I now host all of my creations on my Google site: The Vault of the Unsung Hero

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              • #37
                "Your right, I haven't*. I thought the point wasn't to get burned. Why don't you pull yourself up a chair and we can deal you in?

                Originally posted by The Unsung Hero View Post


                I vote this one.
                I like this choice. Furthers the braggart persona while revealing nothing of our true abilities.

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                • #38
                  Ash smiled back at her and said "You're right, I haven't. I thought the point wasn't to get burned. Why don't you pull yourself up a chair and we can deal you in?"

                  The rough woman's scowl got even uglier. She was trying to decide if Ash was taking her seriously enough. She must have been satisfied though, because eventually she loosened her grip. "...Fine. I'll do the dealing, though."

                  She started to look around for another chair, but the mustachioed gentleman suddenly stood up. "Please, miss, take mine. I was just leaving." And leave he did, only stopping to scoop his remaining money off the table.

                  The rough woman smirked and dropped herself into the chair on Ash's left. She grabbed the deck of cards and started a shuffle. Then she glared around the table. "What're ya waitin' for? It's a new round. Gimme your cards."

                  A mixture of fear and irritation moved over the faces of the other folks at the table, but they obeyed. The woman took their hands and riffled them into the deck.

                  "I do believe I know you. You're One-Eyed Em, aren't you?" asked Ash, looking over her new friend.

                  The rough woman had to turn her head to glare at Ash. "Damn right. But how do you know?"

                  "I've seen your poster - you've got a memorable face," said Ash. "Do you know, there's 50 dinars out on your head?"

                  One-Eyed Em smiled a cruel smile. "Do I? Well, ain't that somethin'. Looks like I'm going up in the world." She started passing cards around the table. When Em got to dealing Ash's hand, she stopped and looked her in the eye. "You lookin' to collect?"

                  Ash kept her disarming smile on. "Not today."

                  Em's lip twisted. "And not tomorrow, neither. Or my bounty's going up." Em handed Ash five cards. She must not have done a very good job shuffling, or Ash had incredible luck to get the same hand again - Aces and Eights.

                  Em set down the deck and eyed her cards. "Right. I'll bet five." She fished around in the bodice of her dress and pulled out a little clinking pouch. She took five small coins from the pouch and tossed them at pile that had been left on the center of the table.

                  "My money's already there - " started the man sitting on Em's other side, but she fixed him with a dirty look. The man winced and looked down at his cards. Then he caved and added another bet to the pool.

                  The money moved around the table. Ash decided...
                  • ...she would play fair and play to win. She had a great hand to start, and was already leading the table before Em stepped in. Let the cards decide what would happen next.
                  • ...she would cheat, figuring that losing would sting One-Eyed Em something fierce. Once Em was all riled up, Ash could steer her towards her real goal.
                  • ...she would lose on purpose. Winning would sweeten Em's mood and put her off her guard. Then she might be more amenable to Ash's suggestions.
                  • Something else?
                  OOC Commentary
                  I actually started writing a different post before KFinigan voted. It would have gone like this:

                  Ash smiled back at her and said "If you don't take your hand off me in five seconds, somebody will get burned. And Iet it tell you, it won't be me."

                  The rough woman's scowl got even uglier and her grip tightened. Then she stiffened up. Her look changed to something like shock. She had just felt something hard and cool push up under her chin. The folks around the table gasped and murmured.

                  While everyone was focused on Ash's face, her hands had been busy under the table. She'd moved her cards from her right hand to her left. Then she'd pulled her flamepiece from its holster, quick as anything. Before anyone could react, she'd put the barrel to the rough woman's jaw.

                  "That... that ain't loaded..." growled the lady with an iron stuck in her face. She was still trying to sound tough.

                  "I like to keep a charge in the barrel," Ash replied. "Safer that way. Now, I'm going to count to five. One..."

                  The rough woman let go of Ash and tried to step away. But Ash followed her, getting out of her chair and keeping that flamepiece barrel more or less in the same spot.

                  [exchange of threats and banter, eventually leading to a fight outside?]


                  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

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Ash's parents sought out to raise their daughter right, and one of the things they taught was to never cheat at cards - the world is unfair enough as it is without pulling mean tricks at a fair game.

                    They never said anything about losing on purpose, though - neither of them were ever any good at it, so the idea must have slipped their minds.


                    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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                    • #40
                      Try to win the first hand fair and square. If we lose the first hand, then we cheat.


                      I write things.

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                      • #41
                        Em is already cheating. She means to raise the stakes as high as possible on top of the money already in the pot.
                        Let her win the first hand, and see if she passes the deck.


                        Like my Avatar? Courtesy of Jen! : Anybody want their characters to be experimented on ? post 98
                        An Exalt is never unarmed.

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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by semicasual View Post
                          a few rounds of Nexus Hold 'Em
                          That was a thing of beauty right there.

                          The gaggle of onlookers around her got quiet. Ash looked up and behind her. The hand on her shoulder belonged to a tall woman wearing a fine black dress, all ripples and frills. Said finery was marred by a visible stain on the midriff, around a crudely stitched-up tear. The woman herself looked much rougher than her attire - shaved bald, dozens of piercings on her face, ears, and scalp, the left side of her face all scarred up and her right eye missing. Her one bloodshot eye glared down at Ash.
                          Hmmm. Her clothes say.. Liminal, maybe?

                          I vote for Play Fair Until We Start To Lose.

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                          • #43
                            We need more information right now, not bodies. Perhaps even a temporary ally.

                            Ash would lose on purpose. Winning would sweeten Em's mood and put her off her guard. Then she might be more amenable to Ash's suggestions.

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Zale View Post
                              Hmmm. Her clothes say.. Liminal, maybe?
                              Or she killed the previous owner and took the dress.


                              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


                              • #45
                                That would have been my guess, a stab most likely.


                                Like my Avatar? Courtesy of Jen! : Anybody want their characters to be experimented on ? post 98
                                An Exalt is never unarmed.

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