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  • As much as Serge needs some spotlight I think this is the best course of action.

    Originally posted by Wise Old Guru View Post
    I vote Serge...but I wanna check in on Gaze too. Because it's good Ambush Etiquette to let your fellow ambushers KNOW if there's some sort of hellish sorcerous fire-trap they shouldn't step on, or a demon ant-lion, or something, BEFORE the ambush actually starts.

    And it could start any minute.

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    • Ash figured she should start byfiguring out what the blazes Gaze was up to.

      She approached the old mystic just as she finished daubing a strange, spiraling, crawling pattern around the "doorway" of the Tower. Gaze was carrying a bucket of pitch, and she used her bare hands to scrape the black sludge across the Tower's surface. Ash watched in silence while Gaze worked, studying the scene, trying to guess what the markings could mean. She quickly gave up.

      "[Elder,]" Ash said, taking a step closer. "[What are you doing?]"

      Gaze turned her hooded face to towards Ash. "[I am preparing for the arrival of our enemy.]"

      Ash looked dubiously at Gaze's pitch-covered hand. "[What preparation is this?]"

      Gaze waved a hand at the markings above the door. "[The enemy has shown they can walk through shadow, to come and go from portals in this world. These signs will prevent their entry.]"

      Ash gave a grunt of agreement and nodded. "[That is wise. We should mark every door here in this way.]"

      Gaze nodded and pointed to the markings on the ground around the tower. "[These are wards against darkness. They will fail against one chosen by the Promising God, but they may give us precious time.]"

      "[I hope that is time we do not need,]" said Ash.

      Gaze shook her head. "[We face a an enemy who laughs at death. Their survival is all but meaningless. And so I shall mark the tower's innards with yet more signs...]"

      Ash blinked. "[What sort of signs?]"

      Gaze told her, and Ash went pale. "[Why... why would I do this? Why would you think I would do this!?]"

      Gaze looked on Ash impassively. "[Because you fear failure more than death. And if our enemy takes this tower, you shall fail, then die.]"

      "[Do you think so little of us?]" Ash demanded.

      Gaze shook her head. "[In the short time we have traveled together, you have done alone what would should take an army. But our enemy, and his patron, have power to challenge the gods themselves and bring about the end of days.]" The old mystic pointed upwards. "[Even the ever-burning sun must set in its time. And we may already be in the twilight of the world.]"

      "[If you have so little hope for the future, why are you here?]" asked Ash, bitterly.

      Gaze clucked her tongue. "[You are truly a poor student. It is not hope that drives me. It is survival - even in the face of doom, all living things will struggle for any scrap of time they may claim for themselves. And so must I.]"

      "[So if you believe we are losing, will you leave us?]" asked Ash.

      Gaze did not answer. She only watched, meeting Ash's glare with her own.
      Sometime later, and still angry, Ash worked with Serge to put up trip lines all around the mine complex. Most were simple - a rope tied between two pegs in the ground, or nailed into walls, covering likely points that an attacks would move through. Some crossed doorways or gaps between buildings, and a few were right before where Seres was digging her pits.

      After that, they disagreed on whether there should be more, or where they should be. And that turned into an argument on their general strategy. Ash wanted them all to stay mobile - moving from building to building, manually raising up lines and triggering traps, using their rigged battlefield as a weapon against the Lost Souls. Serge preferred a more defensive strategy - using traps that required none of their hands to trigger, the posse would lie in wait to ambush anyone who got through their defenses.

      Both of them knew that in actual battle, they'd have to make it up as they went. But Ash didn't admit it aloud, and neither did Serge. Their disagreement soon turned into bickering.

      "It's reckless! It's stupid!", Serge snapped, throwing up his hands. "You're saying we should split up, leave our prepared defenses behind - or worse, end up triggering them on ourselves - and hope for the best!"

      "It's not stupid. It's strategic," Ash insisted. "Each of us - we're tougher than they are, Stronger than they are. Faster than they are. We should use that to our advantage and not just sit around, waitin' to be overrun!"

      Serge's face turned stormy. "I've heard that before. Do all Chosen think this way?"

      Ash's angry retort was lost in her sudden confusion. "I've never said it before. Or heard it. What are you talkin' about?"

      "My old commander!" barked Serge. "Remember? The one who died? Used to talk exactly like that. Thought his gifts would protect him from everything. Instead, they got him killed, nearly got us killed, and guess who was blamed for not saving him?"

      Ash didn't answer, and Serge barely waited to see if she would.

      "Us!" he continued, jabbing a thumb into his chest. "Three fucking years of fucking exemplary service, and then we're all drummed out with nothing. And they tell us we're lucky, because nobody was tortured on their way out." Serge spat on the ground. "No more. I'm not going to sit by and watch you make this mistake, Ash. You're going to do this right - for your sake, and mine."
      • Ash forgot about the issue of the traps for the moment, and decided to fish for details.
      • Ash considered Serge's words, saw wisdom in them, and agreed.
      • Ash decided it was time to put her foot down.
      • Something else?


      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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      • Details! Details! Details! Details!


        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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        • Originally posted by The Unsung Hero View Post
          Details! Details! Details! Details!
          Yes, more of the storytelling...


          Thoughts ripple out, birthing others

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          • Originally posted by The Unsung Hero View Post
            Details! Details! Details! Details!
            This. Um hmmm.

            Comment


            • Ash forgot about the issue of the traps for the moment, and decided to fish for details.

              "Well, they can't have been too disappointed," she said. "After all, they made you a marshal."

              Serge was speechless. A spectrum of emotions ran across his face from naked anger to shock to confusion.

              "D-don't change the subject!" he said, finally. It was the first time Ash could remember him stammering. "This is about you. How you always want to go high-risk and leave us in the dirt behind you!"

              "Alright, alright." Ash raised up her hands in surrender. "Alright. We'll play it safe this time. Fixed traps and ambush, nothin' too fancy."

              Serge, on the edge of another violent exclamation, seemed to be caught off-guard. There was short pause before he said anything. "Oh... well, good. That's good. Um..."

              "Let's just be clear, Marshal," she interjected. "I ain't your old captain. I know this ain't about my glory. I mean for us all to survive and win. That's all. Now then - where did you want to lay down the lines, again?"

              Serge nodded, but he looked troubled. They spent the better part of the day cutting ropes, hauling sacks and buckets of dust around, and hammering on nails and stakes. There wasn't much in the way of conversation.

              Late in the day it got cloudy. Thick, white clouds that didn't quite promise rain, but did their part to shade the earth. Ash and Serge had just finished, and were taking time to tend to the animals. The mine had something like a stable, but by now there were traps all around it, so King and the horses had been moved into the open mine.

              Ash took a bag full of pemmican and laid it in front of King. The lizard tore into it with his claws and teeth, and seemed to enjoy it with gusto. The horses got alarmed whenever King was eating, so Serge led them a short distance away before giving them their own feedbags.

              Ash sat beside King and watched him for a while. Then she laid down on her back against the rocks, tucking her hands behind her head. She watched the clouds drift by for a while, and then stiffened. She sat up, then stood, always keeping her eyes on the sky.

              "Serge!" she called. "Can you see this?"

              Serge walked over beside her, then looked up in the same direction she was. "See what?" He asked. "Those trails in the sky - Oh!"

              "Yep. Those."

              Cutting through the clouds and across the blue expanse between were a dozen or so white lines, perfectly straight. They were lengthening as the pair watched, stretching further and further over their heads. If you squinted, you could just about see something moving at the tip of each spear. If your eyes were well-trained, you could take a guess what that something was.

              "Ghost riders in the sky," said Ash, thinking.

              "What?"

              "It's an old legend. They're spirits who come to collect the souls of people who die in the desert, too far away for anyone to find 'em."

              "Ever seen them before?"

              "...Yeah. Once."

              "We're not dead, though."

              "No," said Ash with an ever-deepening grimace. "But I hear they'll stalk people they think won't make it."



              The shadows were growing longer. Gaze had taken to watching the entrance to the canyon from the cliffs, and so far she hadn't seen any sign of anyone. Ash figured she'd get to work...
              • Digging with Seres. She was still at it, working like there was nothing else in her life. Hardly even stopped for water.
              • Digging with Lans. He'd just about finished assembling his firebursters and was presently going around to plant them.
              • Making arrangements with Bo. They'd passed each other earlier in the day and she'd mentioned she'd wanted to talk, and Ash had a feeling she knew about what.
              • Something else?


              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


              • Hmmmm, Seres or Bo.... I guess Seres first and then Bo after if we have time.


                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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                • I vote Bo first then Lans if we have time.


                  Thoughts ripple out, birthing others

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                  • Seres plz!


                    The artist behind the quests From Out of a Dream (complete) and Back Alive, or Maybe Dead (running!). Go give a read and make your choice!

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                    • Bo, then Lans.

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                      • ...Making arrangements with Bo. They'd passed each other earlier in the day and she'd mentioned she'd wanted to talk, and Ash had a feeling she knew about what.

                        Ash met up with Bo in what once had probably been a workshop.It was a small, one-room building with large window-openings. There were long tables against every wall, with empty tool-racks hanging above them. Piles of saw dust rested in the corners.

                        The healer had made twenty or so of her bottle bombs and packed them into a crate on one of the tables. The bombs were decidedly not uniform - some were clay, some were glass, and hardly any of them were same shape, material, or size. Bo had spent more time scrounging up vessels than she had filling them, and Ash reckoned there probably weren't any small jars or bottles left in the whole mine.

                        Bo's dull brown eyes were fixed on the crate as she set another one in, but her posture suggested she was not giving her full focus to it. Something else was going through her head while she gave just enough attention to finish her tasks.

                        Ash watched her for a short time from the doorway, then knocked on the frame to get her attention.

                        Bo blinked as her mind came back to the present. She looked at Ash and gave her a slight smile. "Hello... Ash. Come in."

                        Ash came in. "Howdy, Bo. How's the work goin'?"

                        Bo gestured at the crate "I have almost finished... Ash, the battle against the Anathema is coming soon."

                        Ash nodded. "I reckon so."

                        "I wished to speak to you about my part in it."

                        "You're about to tell me you want to stay."

                        Bo nodded with another slight smile. "I had guessed you would tell me you want me to go."

                        Ash ran a hand over the side of her head, tucking her hair back behind her ear. "This'll be the most dangerous part, Miss Bo. And if we fall here, someone's got to get to Roca Roja and tell 'em what's comin'."

                        "It would be no easy journey for me to make alone," Bo replied firmly. "And there is more..." she paused, then stepped closer to Ash and looked directly into her eyes. "I believe if you fall here, we are lost. My warning would do no good. There will be no other chance." She turned away and glanced at the crate of explosives. "I will do the most good here."

                        "Good? Make no mistake, Bo," said Ash, her voice hardening. "There's gonna be killin'. I don't like it, but I don't see us avoidin' it. And you'll have to to kill, and risk death. It won't be just patchin' me up again. You sure you're ready for that?"
                        Bo's gaze did not waver. "I must try," she said. "You told me yourself, a hero is one who does the best with what they have."

                        Ash gave Bo a slight smile. "So I did. So I did..."

                        Bo took a deep breath before she continued. "But, I want to make... arrangements. For if I should die."

                        "Like a will? Last rites?"

                        "No, only this." Bo reached into a pocket and pulled out a small leather cylinder. There was a stamp on it in the shape of some kind of root, and writing Ash couldn't read. "This is a letter for my sister. She lives on a farm, south of Nexus."

                        Ash took the cylinder from Bo - on closer inspection, it was a carrying case for a scroll. "You never mentioned family before..."

                        Bo gave a sad smile. "When I left Nexus, I left them too. My sister, An, her husband, Zhang, and my niece, Ya. They grow spices and medicines."

                        "Any reason you couldn't stay with them, after you were pushed out of town?"

                        "My sister and I... it is hard to find words... we love best at a distance. Under one roof, we always start fighting. And I wanted to see more of the world. I liked my shop, but without it I knew I was free to go where I wanted. So I spent some time traveling, searching for my place."

                        "You came a long way."

                        "This place... feels free. No king, no council to make law. Everyone can make their own way, with no fear of being struck down."

                        Ash nodded. "That's what I hear from a lot of newcomers. Did you keep in touch with your sister?"

                        Bo grimaced. "We... send letters, like this, sometimes. But I have sent her nothing in the last year. Mail is hard to find on the Frontier, and it has become worse of late."

                        "I know what you mean," said Ash, tucking the case away. "Feels like forever since I saw a rider. And finding a train to take letters ain't easy outside the city."

                        "He Who Sees killed our carrier when he first came to Freewater." Bo said, abruptly. She shuddered. "He... executed them. In Public. He had them dragged behind their own horse around and around the town, until the horse died from exhaustion. His Lost Souls made bets on how long the ride would last. And I... I could do nothing." She took another long breath. "but now... now I will do something. I will not let this happen again."

                        "I think you mean 'we'," said Ash. She reached out and put a hand on Bo's shoulder. "'We' won't let this happen again."

                        "So. If I do not live, but you do... will you take it?"

                        "I will Bo," Ash promised. She tipped down her hat to conceal her eyes, which were starting to tear. "I will."




                        As the daylight faded, work slowed until it stopped. Ash started a campfire near the mine entrance and started cooking, figuring that the others would each come in their time. Bo joined her soon after. They ate boiled beans and meat, and Bo left on her own to rest. But nobody else came. Eventually, Ash got tired of waiting, and decided to look for them on her own.

                        • First, she went to find Seres. The girl shouldn't be digging pits in the dark - not to mention, she could trip some of the traps the others had laid if she wasn't careful.
                        • She went looking for Lans. The old hand was generally punctual - Ash couldn't figure why he'd be still be out now.
                        • She sought out Serge. He'd never missed a meal yet - Ash figured if he was starting now, something must be wrong.
                        • She climbed up to the lookout point to find Gaze. Truth be told, Ash needed an excuse to talk to the mystic - there was something on her mind.
                        • Something else?




                        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


                        • I guess Seres now.


                          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

                          Comment


                          • Seres and then Serge.
                            Last edited by FallenEco; 01-17-2019, 04:46 PM.


                            Thoughts ripple out, birthing others

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                            • I think Lans and Serge are good -- probably getting their "warfaces" on. So let's see what is up with Seres - she probably needs a pregame pep talk.

                              Comment


                              • First, she went to find Seres. The girl shouldn't be digging pits in the dark - not to mention, she could trip some of the traps the others had laid if she wasn't careful.

                                Finding her wasn't difficult - the line of trenches made for an easy trail. And at the end of that trail she labored on, neck-deep in the dry, rocky soil. She worked the earth which a shovel, making strong, steady scoops with sort of mechanical mindlessness. Seres did not respond when Ash approached, nor when Ash coughed. She didn't seem to notice anyone else was there until Ash walked around in front of her trench and said "Hey."

                                Seres looked up, blinked, then looked back down. "Hey, Ash," she said, without much feeling. She stuck her shovel in the ground and studied it, then glanced around at her dug out walls.

                                "Chow's ready, if you want some."

                                Seres shook her head, not looking up. "I ain't hungry."

                                Ash squatted down, bringing her closer to Seres' level, and put her hands on her knees. "Seres, you've been workin' hard all day without a break," she said, gently. "Dragon or no, that's not good for a body."

                                "I can take care of myself!" Seres snapped. Then she winced. "Sorry. I didn't mean..."

                                "It's alright," said Ash as Seres began to trail off. "You're just tired, is all. Why not rest a spell?"

                                Seres lifted her shovel, then set it back down. "I dunno. I just..." She paused, then took a deep breath. "I got the jitters. Keepin' busy keeps 'em at bay. Don't worry about it."

                                Ash nodded. "I can respect that. But if workin' till you drop is what you need to keep steady, what're you gonna do when Stitch-Eyes comes?"

                                "I don't know!" said Seres with unexpected force. She seemed surprised herself. Ash waited to see if Seres would say more, and after a moment, she did. "I don't know what I'll do. But thinkin' about it's drivin' me wild."

                                "In my experience, that fear never really goes away," said Ash. She sat down fully on the ground and crossed her legs. "You can ignore it for a while, but unless you're resolved to face it, it just keeps comin' back. Come on now - sit down here next to me."

                                Seres sighed and climbed out of the trench. She stat down next to Ash, both of them facing towards the mine.

                                When it became apparent that Seres wasn't going to speak up first, Ash started in. "I can see something's bothering you. And it's not just Stitch-Eyes. Stitch-Eye's just sitting at the top of the shit-pile of your troubles."

                                Despite herself, Seres chuckled.

                                Ash gave a little smile and went on. "You know, when we met, I thought it was odd that you decided to sign on with me, no questions asked. I get hero worship, but now I'm thinkin' it was somethin' more. You thought I was gonna lead you to somethin' you needed. But now we're here - and it's not what you were lookin' for. Am I guessin' right?"

                                Seres momentary cheer faded. "...yeah. Somethin' like that." She rested her elbows on her knees and leaned forward, letting her chin sit in her hands. "I was... tryin' to get away, I guess."

                                "Get away from what?"

                                "Home," Seres replied. She scowled. "When I was little, my gran ruled my life. She told my parents what to do, and they did it with a smile. The house servants too. It was like a rule nobody talked about - whatever gran says goes, and it doesn't matter who you're workin' for on paper.

                                "I only met her myself a few times. And she beat me every time. Kept tellin' me I wasn't good enough, strong enough, smart enough. It didn't matter what tests I passed or how hard I fought, she always wanted better. Said that whatever she did to me, the world would do much worse if I wasn't ready. And I thought I'd never be ready.

                                "Then, I changed. I started to feel the wind... I found I was getting stronger, stronger than most men, and faster 'n anybody, even granny. Things people had been tellin' me forever that made no sense, about 'Ki' and 'Essence', suddenly got clear. And I felt like nobody could stop me.

                                ...But my granny still wasn't happy. And the tests got harder. My folks started tryin' to steer me into the army, or the Order, or into some official job. And I knew then - it wasn't gonna get better, ever. As long as I kept playin' by their rules, I'd be ruled.

                                So I ran. Eventually I found you. And I thought... maybe I could have a real adventure like I'd read about, out here, far away from that old bitch and her demands."

                                "Well, you got it," said Ash. "You and me, we've done some wild things together. Enough to write another book, maybe. But it wasn't what you expected, right?"

                                Seres closed her eyes and hunched her shoulders, sinking deeper into her hands. "...no. I wasn't ready for... all the killin'. I didn't think it would be this bad, but..." she shuddered. "I'm... I'm startin' to get what granny was on about. All that about focusin' on your duty, cuttin' through the chaos, on never lettin' pain slow you down... this is the kind of thing she was tryin' to prepare me for. When there's just screamin' an' fire an' blood all around you and you can't think, that's when you've got to have that kind of 'I don't care so long as I win' way of thinkin'."

                                Ash nodded. "You ain't wrong... I think I've seen more dead folks in the last few months than I've seen in my whole life before. Only comfort I can offer is - it'll be over soon."

                                Seres sighed. "I know. That's what keeps me goin'. But I'm also thinkin'... what am I goin' to do, after?"

                                "After we win, you mean?"

                                The youngblood nodded. "Yeah... if we win. What do I do next? I... I'm sorry, Ash, but I don't think I can ride with you no more. I don't think this life is for me."

                                "This life ain't for most people," said Ash. "But I wouldn't be too quick to quit it, if I were you."

                                Seres looked at Ash, unspoken questions showing on her face.

                                "You might not like it, but you're good at it. If you stick with it, you get used to the rough parts. That's how it was for me, at least. And you end up helping a lot of people as a bounty hunter, even if most of 'em don't know it."

                                Seres looked away again. "Not sure I want to get used to it..."

                                Ash shrugged. "Well, no need to decide now. There'll be plenty of time, once we're done here. Right now though... still feelin' the jitters?"

                                A look of surprise crossed Seres face. "Not so much... but now I'm starvin'. Where's the chow?"


                                Ash came back with Seres around the same time Lans and Serge finally showed up. They ate together in silence, with Seres eating nearly as much by herself as the rest of them put together. Then they turned in.

                                Ash rose with the dawn, and the first thing she did was look for the white riders. Unfortunately, she found them easily, and it seemed to her they were closer than before. She observed them for a while, guessing but not entirely sure that they were flying nearer as she watched. Then she shook her head, gritted her teeth, and committed herself to the day's preparations.
                                • Lans was rigging up the water tower - Ash figured that was no job for a man with one arm.
                                • Bo was mixing medicines for quick, slap-on poultices. Given how things had gone every other time the Ranger had met the Lost Souls head-on, she figured she should prepare some of her own.
                                • Serge had identified a few places where rocks could be dropped from the cliffs - if the rocks were already on top of the cliffs, at least.
                                • Gaze was still keeping watch. After so long, Ash figured she ought to be relieved.
                                • Something else?
                                Last edited by semicasual; 02-06-2019, 01:46 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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