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Back Alive or Maybe Dead [Quest]

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  • SERGE! And then... mmmm Gaze.


    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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    • Lans, Serge then Gaze if we have time.


      Thoughts ripple out, birthing others

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      • Lans! Then Serge


        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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        • Lans was rigging up the water tower - Ash figured that was no job for a man with one arm.

          The tower had dried up long ago, and even the memory of water was gone from it. The plan now was to turn it into a repository for dust and rig it to fall - crushing and burning whatever happened to be below it.

          The tower was, naturally, the tallest structure in the complex. It stood about three stories off the ground, a wooden scaffold supporting a tall wooden basin with a simple wooden lid to shield the precious liquid from the sun.It had no ladder, so Ash had to climb up the scaffold with her arms and legs alone, carrying a rope, some round rail spikes, and a wheel that had once belonged to a loom.. Once she was in place, she and Lans assembled a crude pulley and used it to haul a couple of barrels of firedust up to the top of the tower. Then Ash opened up the basin, emptied the barrels into it, and climbed back down.

          That was the most physically challenging step. Setting up the tower to fall was another challenge. But Lans had thought through that part, too. Getting the tower to simply fall was as simple as chopping through the scaffold. But making sure it fell at the right time needed something more - a counterweight. Together, he and Ash loaded up a minecart with enough rocks to match Lans' estimate of the water tower's weight, and tied it to the scaffold opposite the direction they needed it to fall.

          "Not very sturdy, but it should last long enough to do the job," Lans commented, as Ash finished tying the knot atop the scaffold.

          Ash shrugged and jumped down, almost missing the old man saying "...reminds me of myself, in a way."

          "What?" asked Ash, unwilling to trust her ears for a moment.

          Lans sighed. "I was contemplating - in some ways, this structure is like a symbol for this whole venture for me." He put his hand to his chin as he looked up at the tower. "It no longer serves the purpose it once did, so now it waits for a chance to go down in a blaze of glory."

          Ash looked at the old hand with dismay. "Don't talk like that, Lans. The plan ain't for you to die here."

          He shook his head. "Maybe not, but let's be truthful with ourselves, Ash. We're risking everything on this fight, and if I'm any judge, there's a good chance not all of us will survive." He took his hand away from his chin and rested it on his hip. "I spent the better part of my life in this country. I shaped it - it shaped me. It pleases me to give my life for it." Lans gave Ash a sad smile. "That probably sounds strange to someone so young, but I have this feeling there isn't much left in me. I'm content to use what there is for a worthy cause, for instead of... how did you put it? Dying from boredom, with a bellyful of bad booze?"

          "If I didn't believe the cause was worth the risk, I wouldn't be here," said Ash, unconsciously tugging on her hat. "But you've got to have hope, too - hope for tomorrow. This ain't about dyin' gloriously. It's about makin' tomorrow worth livin for."

          Lans shrugged. "I agree. The difference, I believe, between our perspectives is that now I save my hopes for other people." He reached down to his side and slowly drew his saber from its sheathe. "A long time ago, when I played as a masked hero, I fought as much for my own dreams as to protect people. I wanted the frontier to be a grand place to live, in part because it was my chosen home. But my time is passing. It's your home now."

          He walked passed Ash to the other side of the scaffold while she searched within herself for something to say.

          "Now, time to see if this worked," he murmured to himself, as he turned and raised his arm. There was hardly any sound as he chopped down, his blade passing though the air and one of the four struts supporting the scaffold in a single smooth stroke. He pulled back, then sliced again, changing the angle of the stroke slightly, so that a small wedge of wood fell free from the support as he finished.

          At first, nothing happened. Then there was a loud creaking noise, and the tower began to lean ever so slightly. Ash watched as the already-taut rope she had tied tight stretched, and then held.

          "That looks good," Lans called to her, echoing her own thoughts. He came back to her side to study the tower from another angle. "If I didn't know better, I'd say it might stand forever. But it must fall eventually - with luck, the timing will be in our favor."




          After they'd finished, Ash lingered near the tower for a while longer, watching the sky and the encroaching Riders. A sense of foreboding was coming over her, and it felt like it was getting stronger.

          Lost in her thoughts, she only became aware of Serge when he spoke her name. She blinked, then turned to look at the imposter-marshal - covered in dust that almost made him look like he'd changed forms again.

          "I want to talk to you," he said, then paused, as if he was having second thoughts.

          Ash just looked at him, waiting for him to continue.

          "There's... something you should know," he began again, then paused again. He grimaced.

          "Alright, I'm listened," Ash prompted him. "Just start from the beginning."

          Serge breathed in, then stuck his thumbs through his belt. He began speaking again, not looking directly at Ash as he spoke. "...I told you I was in the army, and my whole Scale was discharged. Well, this came after that.

          We were cut loose a few dozen leagues north of here, I'd guess. We'd decided to stick together, I guess because none of us really knew what to do alone. With nothing but the clothes on our backs and whatever we could grab as they drove us out, we decided to try out luck in the frontier. Find work as mercenaries, or laborers, or some such.

          I don't think any of us figured how hard going it would be with no money, and no one to vouch for us. We got driven off from the first few towns we came to. And after a couple weeks of this, the others started to get desperate. Started talking about raiding a caravan.

          I didn't want to do it. I've fought enough bandits to know where that life goes. I argued with the others long into the night one evening, and when I woke up the next morning, I found they'd moved on without me.

          I spent the better part of that day trying to track them down. A ways down the road, small wagon train raced by me. They didn't want to stop to talk, but I got from them that they'd been attacked by someone, and were trying to put as much distance as they could between themselves and the attacker. They'd been accompanied by a Marshal, who'd stayed to cover their escape alone.

          I traced their trail back, and found them. All my people, dead. It looked like it had been quite a fight - two dozen fighters, some of the best I'd known, spread out over a quarter-league area, with everything around trampled, burned, or hacked up.

          And at the end of the trail, I found him. He was covered in fresh wounds... sitting up, propped up by a spear that had him spitted through his chest. At first I thought he was dead, but I heard him coughing as I got close.

          I was going to kill him. I wanted revenge for my friends. But when I got in front of him, he suddenly looked up at me.

          He was trying to talk, but he couldn't stop coughing. Choking on his own blood. Finally got out the words 'did they make it?'

          I didn't know what to do then, so I said 'yes'.

          Then he started fumbling at his chest. I thought he was going to do something with the spear, but he grabbed at this badge on his chest. Then he held it out to me, and he wouldn't stop shaking. He said 'take it', so I did."

          Serge finally stopped, and took a few long breaths. His eyes were closed, and he seemed be holding back tears. Ash noticed he wasn't wearing the badge - it was squeezed tight in his hand, so hard she wondered why it didn't crumple in his grip.

          "And after that, you realized people would respect you if they thought you were him," she said, filling in the blank.

          Serge just nodded.

          "Your name ain't really Tepet Serge, is it?"

          "Serge is my name," said Serge. "'Tepet' I made up. I... don't know who that marshal was."

          "But you decided you would try bein' a marshal yourself. Not just using the badge for griftin', but actually huntin' outlaws yourself."

          The imposter looked down at the badge in his hand. "Yeah... it felt right. And I didn't know what else to do."

          "Well, now you're here," said Ash. "Even if it's not yours, I'd say you're wearin' the badge well."

          Serge sucked in one more breath and opened his eyes. "Thanks. Umm..."

          "No, thank you for telling me," Ash butted in. "And don't worry, I ain't thinkin' about kickin' you out for this. Marshal or not, you've proven your worth, and what we need now is proven fighters, not big names or titles. Besides..." she stepped forward and gently punched him in the shoulder. "I reckon Bo wouldn't be pleased if you left. And I'd be without a sparrin' partner. So we can keep this between us for now, if that's what you want."

          Serge nodded and let the hand with the badge fall to his side, still keeping a firm grip. "...Yeah. That'll do."




          Later that day, clouds dark clouds started to gather on the horizon. Ash watched them with concern. Rain was alright for farmers, but for Ash rain meant flash floods, damp powder, and King becoming nigh-unmanageable as the sand dragon would constantly wander off to splash in puddles. She hoped the clouds would pass then by, and resolved to keep an eye on them.

          Before dark, Ash decided...
          • ...to talk to [someone]. Their talk earlier had Ash worried, and she wanted to follow up. (Please specify who)
          • ...there was something else they needed to be prepared
          • …that they were as ready as they could be, without knowing what was coming.
          OOC Commentary
          Serge seems to be the one character you all showed the most consistent interest in throughout the story, so I figured it was time for him to spill his guts. I hope this gives you the closure you wanted.

          I feel it's getting on to the time when the climactic battle of the story should start, so if there's anything else you'd like to see done before we start, now is the time to ask.


          Last edited by semicasual; 02-28-2019, 08:58 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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          • Talk to Serge & Seres: About becoming the next White Plains Ranger if things go sideways & Ash doesn't make it out of this alive. (They both could use the direction, but if it came down to one I'm leaning towards Serge.)

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            • Originally posted by Nightwinder View Post
              Talk to Serge & Seres: About becoming the next White Plains Ranger if things go sideways & Ash doesn't make it out of this alive. (They both could use the direction, but if it came down to one I'm leaning towards Serge.)
              I didn't even know what I wanted until it was presented for me. This is amazing!

              Although I actually have to differ from you and say Seres. Serge found his purpose and peace being a sheriff. Seres needs direction still. But I love the passing of the mantle idea.


              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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              • (Just to make sure I understand this - you want Ash to talk to *both* of them about taking up the mantle? Together or separately?)


                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


                • Originally posted by The Unsung Hero View Post

                  I didn't even know what I wanted until it was presented for me. This is amazing!

                  Although I actually have to differ from you and say Seres. Serge found his purpose and peace being a sheriff. Seres needs direction still. But I love the passing of the mantle idea.
                  Seconded. Though I expect her to turn us down


                  Thoughts ripple out, birthing others

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