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Forging a fated: Liam


Light_Rain
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Hello everyone, I'm new to Through the Breach having been introduced by Bowchikawowers. I am enjoying it immensely and would like to share my character creation from the campaign "Tales from the Bubbling Turtle" I was also, partly inspired to do this by my friend and co-fated Charlotte Mae Hawthorne. Sufficed to say check out their stuff. It's awesome. 

 

To start with my Cross Roads Tarot as it was flipped, aka starting with Station, Western, Northern, Eastern and lastly Southern.

 

8 :ram   9 :mask   A :ram   6 :ram   3 :tome   

 

My station: 8 :ram  meant I was a tracker. I let that card develop my entire character. Tracker in an alternate history 1900's what does that mean to me if I end up in Malifaux. A pioneer, perfect and I read up on it.

 

Western/Body: 9 :mask  -1/-1/0/+2 

Northern/Root skills: A :ram  3,2,1,1,1,1

Eastern/Mind: 6 :ram   -2/0/0/+2

Southern/Endeavor skills: 3 :tome  3,2,1,1,1,1

 

I did physical and mental aspects first.

Body: After reading about the Pioneer class I noticed the flavor text mentioning shotguns. That sounds like a good in your face weapon and shotguns use the grace aspect. All right I'll put a 2 there, and then a -1 to might and a -1 to resilience as I believed I would need at least average speed to be a reasonable tracker.

Mental: Track itself uses the cunning aspect so that was an easy place to put my 2. My negative too was similarly easy. If I'm tracking and spending all of my times outdoors I'm probably not that charming -2 there as well leaving intellect and Tenacity at 0. 

 

So far Liam looks like this :

Might -1               Intellect 0

Grace 2               Charm -2

Speed 0               Cunning 2

Resilience -1        Tenacity 0

 

Now I get to add two +1 to my aspects. Talking with the others and thinking about my character we need a tank. -1 resilience is not how I wanna go. So +1 there  and then I chose tenacity as my other +1. I chose Tenacity because of a few reasons, Good tenacity plus cunning as a person is a lot of fun. In game skills like navigation, centering, and intimidate were really nice as well.

 

My station is track so I get a +1 there so with that in mind I pick out my root skills. I start thinking about a young tracker, who has no charm whatsoever.  

 

Track: 3

Wilderness 2

Stealth 1

Literacy 1

Flexible 1

Intimidate 1

 

So with that Liam is a rough and tumble practically socially inept child/young adult who loves the wilderness. Though the literacy does speak of someone actually trying.

Next my endeavor  skills things Liam worked on. I chose

 

Toughness 3

Shotgun 2

Notice 1

Navigation 1

Evade 1

Centering 1

 

The toughness and shotgun spoke of trials and dangers, the evade and centering spoke of encountered dangers. I'll show you all what I came up with backstory wise further down in a very long write up of our first session from Liams perspective.

 

Now for fate, to be read backwards starting with southern:

 

If you refuse the hero's call

You will be uninvited

but the people in the windows will greet you with terror

The deaf man must hear the owl's warning

and he will be paid his price

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So for those brave enough (this is long) this is Malifaux from Liam's perspective. I hope you enjoy.

 

Through the Breach

 Getting to Malifaux was easier than I thought. Living here, well, that’s another story. I will need information, security and a power base if I am to survive. I’m getting ahead of myself, information is power and I keep this record to supplement my own memory, who knows when one tidbit or chance meeting will become important...especially here.

               Getting on the train was both easier and more difficult than I expected. It’s the way of life that a nobleman gets afforded better treatment than common looking folk. Dressed as I was in my finest and only suit I expected to get through the checkpoints with as little a problem as possible. In this case it didn’t work, as I was held up and scrutinized by security. Perhaps they could see how fake this suit looked on me. I’m tall with weather-beaten skin, with enough old scars that made sure I didn’t look like some pampered aristocracy. I tried to do something with my hair, failed and I can’t hide my eyes. Hunters eyes Jorg called them. The suit chaffed and I longed to be in practical clothing. I believe it was only when I freely showed my annoyance and stared into the men that were questioning me that saved me. Perhaps showing such annoyance and intimidation made me fit into the suit, something I could never do normally. Either way, I was glad they didn’t search my luggage too carefully. If they had found my shotgun, hatchet, and wire….well I doubt I would have made it on the train. Bought ticket or no, the guild is strict against such things.

               I was the last on the train, I debated standing but there was a man in a tweed jacket and bow tie muttering to himself who sounded quite mad. Timey what? Madness and I haven’t even been through the breach yet! Instead I took a seat in the last available bench. To my right was a couple of the oddest pair. The woman in stately clothes and modest necklace oozed charisma. Next to her was a sharp eyed man in practical clothes who seemed to me radiating annoyance in waves. They bickered about being the last on the train and how they should have left sooner. The last to sit down was a man who looked more disgruntled and out of place than I did. Across from us was a young couple. A man with brown hair that got into his blue eyes and a curly redheaded woman, freckled with a quick laugh. Next to them was a woman stealing glances at the young couple and smiling softly. The young man brought out a bottle of whiskey and introduced himself as Bennett and his lady as Allison. He inquired about our names and the courtly lady responded first. Her name was Dr. Hawthorn here to study the plague in Malifaux, and her companion Benjamin. Her southern root was as apparent Benjamin’s “patience” as being described as an escort. “A young lady mustn’t travel alone after all,” she said. The unassuming man to my right introduced himself as, and I quote, “My name it Itzal and that’s all you need to know.” Heh damn him he made me feel better about being on this train. Misery loves company after all. I introduced myself with a nod “I’m Liam.”

               None of us were too chatty after that though Bennett, bless him, offered us some whisky which, only I, took him up on. Strange stories circulate earthside about crossing the breach so something to settle the nerves sounded like a good idea. It was good whiskey. Shame it did nothing for my nerves. An ominous silence took up the train and literally in the blink of an eye I was alone. An old crone’s voice echoed in my head while a vision took my sight. I was rooted to the spot, clenching fists trying in vain to find an enemy or rationality. I failed what I did see and hear though…I won’t ever forget even without this journal.

A crone’s voice was both everywhere and nowhere “If you refuse the hero’s call…,” A white armor gleamed in front of me and fell to pieces. “You will be the uninvited…,” Everyone one I’ve ever known turned away from me. “But the people in the windows will greet you with terror,” Those same people, still turned away became headless and those heads lined a storefront window staring at me with horrible screaming faces! “The deaf man must hear the owl’s warning,” Above a full moon and image of an owl...no sound… “And he will be paid his price,” My gaze was drawn towards my clenched fist. I could see bloodstained script in my hands…..

Suddenly, as quickly as it had come, the vision was gone and the trains passengers restored. My hunter’s instincts were still kicking. I could not find a threat. What I would have given for something to fight at that moment.  I heard Benjamin quietly hyperventilating to my right and my bench mates all looked paler. The man in the bow tie had disappeared and the quiet lady to the left of Bennett and Allison was looking over at us with a curious, or was that scared, look on her face. I took another shot of whisky…this time Benjamin joined me. Still nothing on the nerves…worth a shot though.

With my nerves shattered and weak, inevitably, the past bubbled up from the dark corner I force it to hide in... My brother killed, our home raised to the ground. I was never too fond of that house, but Jorg was. He was everything to me, my only tie to “civilized” life and we felt unstoppable together. He had grown up in that house while I had grown up in our family’s lands, hunting, making paths and organizing the reclamation of the land that had grown wild since the wars and the Guild’s rise of power a century ago.  Without constructs our family was hit hard. Our parents had died fairly young and all around us expected us brothers to finally cave and sell out. Oh how wrong they were. Instead we were making progress. Jorg had a mind for business and could charm his way into any man’s wallet or woman’s heart. My navigation, tracking, hunting and affinity for the wilderness gave us an outlet he could use to bring prosperity and reputation back. Hunting trips, always successful, were putting us back on the map.  I went all over the world; acting as a tracker for those Jorg was in business with. Funny how men seemingly on the fence would become firm allies after a hunt. Agriculture, exotic plants and animals we also traded in but, the hunt always the hunt was our staple. We were so close. SO CLOSE!!! Damn, the people that killed Jorg. Damn that I wasn’t there to protect him. Damn that the people who did it died too quickly and knew too little. I will find the bastards leader…I WILL. I would endure anything and would endure some damn vision to make that a reality. Now was the time to step into Malifaux where somewhere my brothers’ killer hides.

All this played in my head in moments. I found my hand in my pocket clutching a compass Jorg gave me. The thing never worked but it was an old heirloom of exotic design and the closest piece of Jorg I had. I forced to let go and calm myself down. After all I need to be patient; my plans will take time. No one seemed to notice the inner struggle I played out…good.  I went so far as to ask if anyone else on my bench had seen anything passing into the breach. I got stares in return that all spoke in the affirmative. Either that or they thought I was crazy I can never tell with people sometimes. As we step out into what is known at Malifaux Station I got my first real look at my new surroundings. The opulence of the place was obvious but the guards’ bearings were less...relaxed than what you’d expect. Sure this is a security checkpoint but it should have been more of a formality after the check point earthside. The bench mates and I made it through the checkpoint with little problem. I made sure to follow behind the Dr. I can’t be sure but I think she might be able to open doors that I’d have to sneak past or break down.

Sure enough the lady that sat to the left of the couple came up to Dr. Hawthorne though she addressed all of us. She asked that we stay at her brother’s inn, The Bubbling Turtle. What’s more she said she “Felt like we four should be there,” and would try and get us a good discount. Not having anywhere else to go and looking forward to changing back into normal clothes I agreed. The others did as well. As the Dr. went to go get a map I looked at the people around me. You had your newcomers sure, but everyone who didn’t look like they were fresh off the train or of high ranking birth were considerably different then you’d see earthside. For one, many had armor on and for another most were armed with a weapon sheathed in plain view. Feeling vulnerable, I picked up my bags and felt its reassuring weight. Still on the steps of the station I felt like it was a good idea not to pull my shotgun out of the bag. Instead I gathered the others called on a carriage, overpriced but surely safer, and directed the driver, who was armed, to the Bubbling turtle.

Under different circumstances I would love the Bubbling Turtle and everything about it. Outside a painted turtle smoking a bubbling pipe. Inside there is a warm hearth a full bar and two hallways leading to staircases on my left and right. The wistful girl who finally introduced herself as Hannah preceded us and let us know that for odd jobs we could stay here for a script a week. As I was planning on asking for just such an arrangement I accepted quickly. Hannah showed us to our rooms, they would have fit right in at home. Comfort was an obvious byword of these rooms and there was an undercurrent of practicality I found pleasing. Changing into normal clothes I also openly sheathed my shotgun on my back and arrayed my wilderness tools around my person. Who knows if these rooms were really secure after all; would I even sleep here at all?

Downstairs there were some miners, guardsmen and women in overdone dresses arrayed in the room. I gave guild guards a minor thought, could they be looking for work I wondered? As I thought about how to ask I noticed another redhead at the bar. She was in a long duster and her rifle was leaned against the bar. The bartender had just topped off a shot of whisky in her glass. Hmm whisky seems to be my go to today so I went to the bar and asked for whatever she was having. Truthfully it burned and was obvious a common brew. Tasted great and was just what I needed after discarding that awful suit. Started talking to the bartender seeing what the lay of the immediate area was. Seems like a missing child of a guild official named Rachel, a riot in the slums, Neverborn attacks (No idea what they are), and the possibility of wanted posters at the Guild Enclave. Bartender then says, “You’re better off just asking around if people need work.” Chuckling, thinking does that even work? I turned to the redhead. “So, are you hiring?” “Might be,” she responds. She’s Irish (I’m uncultured but I’m not deaf) and dangerous. “Well you either are or you aren’t.” She grinned at that. “There’s a caravan heading out in a few days might need an extra gun. Are you any good with that?” motioning to the shotgun at my back. “I’m fair though it’s been a while since I’ve fired from a coach.” I thought for a second. “I’m interested who’s the caravan for?” “Just some pioneers headed out of the city.” She’s to the point as well, she doesn’t volunteer much though, which to be honest is smart.

 We talk a bit and I offer to buy her a shot if she’d give some info on some of Malifaux’s denizens. I’m already in the dark with these Neverborn and I want to separate the wild rumors earthside from fact breachside... She tells me about Skinwalkers and how they steal people’s skin though their eyes glow with a purple tint. She moves on to evil looking things the size of a baby she calls Terror Tots. To make things worse when these Terror Tots kill and eat people they grow in size to become Nephilim and to top it off Nephilim blood burns so I’d be smart not to get any on me. She hesitated here and then went on to tell me Nephilim have a bigger form. She had never seen the transformation process so she wasn’t positive it occurred from eating people. She did warn me, however, in no uncertain terms… if I see a bigger one run…just run. Everything she’s telling me fits the rumors or goes beyond them. The craziest part is I believe her, at her word, everything she’s telling me. It’s at this point she tells me that if she told me everything she’s seen in Malifaux it would take this night and the next into next week. I offer to buy her another shot another night and we’d go from there. “It’s a date,” she says as she finishes her shot and walks out of the Turtle. Hmm wonder if I should have asked her name… 

No point stewing on the conversation I had, since I’ve never been that good with women, I headed up to bed checking the locks on the doors or windows first. I thought about setting up some bells and wire in case I’d been recognized by the people who ordered Jorgs’ death. Perhaps I was feeling comfortable after a night at the Turtle. Perhaps it was the whisky. Either way the Bubbling Turtle seemed far safer than the wilderness I’m used to setting up a perimeter on. So I went to bed without preparation thinking myself paranoid. Stupid, I wake up the next morning and my room had been rifled through. Cursing myself repeatedly I looked through what few possessions I brought Breachside. The compass I had put by my bed, next to my shotgun was gone. While searching I noticed scratches on the windowsill. Entry point?  I equipped all my possessions on my person, the tools I used in the wilderness and my shotgun, and headed down the hall. Knocking on Benjamin’s door, he cracked the door open looking at me like he was designating a target. When he recognized me, he didn’t relax. “Hey, someone broke into my room last night…there are scratches by the window…and my compass was stolen.” The only reaction I get is a narrowing of the eyes. What’s his issue, I wonder? “Well, did you notice anything strange last night!?”  Something must have clicked because he stopped glaring (or at least glared less.) He tells me someone broke into his room as well though nothings been stolen. Doubt it’s a coincidence, I try Itzal and he goes to Dr. Hawthorne. Benjamin must have found something because he exits her room fairly quickly and starts grabbing his gear. Meanwhile, Itzal at least greets me with a hello though he hasn’t noticed anything wrong with his room. I asked him to check his windowsill and sure enough he notices the same time of scratches. Nothing’s been stolen from him either…crap what’s going on?

The four of us headed downstairs. There was a commotion in the common room. My first thought was that the entire Turtle had been rifled through. Hannah is freaking out and is being quieted by who I assume is her brother. Someone’s been taken from the Turtle in the night and “coincidentally” it’s Bennett and his wife Alison. So just to recap my morning has been waking up to find my only piece of my brother gone and the first people to show me kindness in…I don’t know how long have been kidnapped. The four of us walked straight up to Hannah and her brother not bothering to hide the fact we could overhear. “Show us.” we asked.

Hannah did, bringing us to the opposite wing of the Turtle…talking all the while. I think she believes this is why she wanted us here. I can’t be sure, of course, but she’s willing to show us and admits to being a witness to the kidnapping. There is something else too…hope? I didn’t have time to dwell on it instead soaking in the facts. She had actually heard the kidnapping take place in Bennett and Alison’s room. She recalls a scuffle and a loud bang like a gun shot and screaming. It’s a shame they were on the opposite side of the Turtle…I’d like to believe I would have come to their aid if for nothing else safety in numbers.

 We get to the room and I immediately get to work. The room has been ransacked, furniture is everywhere, there’s a hole in the wall, muddy footprints and oh…a finger. I direct Dr. Hawthorn to the finger while I take a look out the window. Getting my bearing on the outside world I take a closer look at the footprints. Messy, easily tracked. It was harder tracking down those that killed Jorg. I looked up confidently, “I can track this.” I glanced at those that I just met yesterday. “Will you join me?” A nod from Itzal, honest though I can’t guess at his motivation. Is he just upset someone came into his room? I’ll take it; he wears a sabre on his hip and walks like he knows how to use it. Benjamin looks at the Doctor letting her be the judge. She’s just put away the finger in her bag…for what purpose who knows. She looks positively eager and agrees. She might be a liability but I like the look of Benjamin’s rifle. Besides, Bennett and Allison might need patching up. How ironic that sounds now.

Following the tracks was easy and they led out of the Bubbling Turtle via a side door. Opening the door we hear a yelp. There’s a homeless man on the other side of the door. He’s cursing about how bad a night he’s having and how nobody is letting him sleep. The Doctor came into her own here treating the man like a patient or a daughter I suppose. I wasn’t paying too much attention, as I was making sure I didn’t lose the tracks. I did catch the gist though. The homeless man had been woken by 3 or 4 really foul smelling men along with a screaming Allison and a yelling Bennett. When she was confident we carried on, leading away from the turtle and eventually leading to a dead end alley. Another man is down the alley sitting on a crate. He looks at us and tells us we can’t be here. I look down at the tracks, they definitely lead here. The man repeats himself. Sighing mentally, I pull out my shotgun and yell, “I don’t have time for this!” The effect I wanted was him to be cowed or perhaps give up useful information. Was he being paid by the kidnappers? A lookout perhaps…Well he was cowed but perhaps a little too well, though it was amusing. Flustered he started running away from me while trying to keep an on me as well. He must have forgotten in his haste that it was a dead end alley and ran straight into a brick wall…and fell down unconscious. I moved over to the body making sure he was unconscious. I noticed a bowie knife on his person. Not wanting to be stabbed in the back and making sure this man knew without a doubt I let him live I took his knife and put it in my boot. Then I took in the alley as a whole the tracks led to the crate. Moving over to it I found that it could be lifted leading down. Sewers of Malifaux…great now I know why the men smelled…right. I have a lot to learn. I took out some flint and tinder and lit my lone candle. Looking at the others I shrugged, “here we go,” and headed down the ladder with the candle.

Halfway down the ladder the crate slams shut and the candle goes out. Cursing mentally I strained my ears, ready to try and jump down the ladder in case I hear someone coming my way. I didn’t know how far I had left to go however. Light filters back down as the crate lifts back down. Benjamin is there smiling, (I prefer the glare I think.) laughing (I prefer the silent waves of annoyance.) and apologizing saying he couldn’t resist closing the crate on me. Resisting the urge to curse him and his familial line down 15 generations I instead let him know just how hard it is to light a candle with flint and tinder while holding on to a ladder while halfway down into a freaking sewer. He started after me and I didn’t expect hijinks from any of the others and I wasn’t disappointed. I ask the Doctor to hold the candle. She refuses, and it was either she or Benjamin actually mentioned I could put the candle on my shotgun. Like that would work. Hopefully they were joking, thankfully I never found if they were serious thereby losing more faith in humanity. There were lanterns hung nearby that Benjamin noticed and there were enough for everyone. Hung mine by my belt to keep my hands free. Largest hurtle of the day so far overcome I got back to tracking. The trail was easy enough to follow.  Dr. Hawthorn might have disagreed. At some point she was trying to draw a map of our passage. She gave up fairly quickly though and simply trusted me to get us where we were going. Thankfully, for one who seemed so proper, she voiced no complaints or even criticisms about my tracking which I appreciate still.

Finally our destination, a building built under the city with strange writing along the front. I couldn’t make out much but part of me is glad I don’t know. Dr. Hawthorne pulled out the notebook. Was she copying the runes? Academics, well if she can gather meaning from these good for her. There seemed to be only one approach and Itzal surprising me again, lets us know he’ll scout out the front. We agree and I ask that he waves me over when he’s ready.  He moves out silently, his sabre at the ready and pokes his head in the front. Seemingly satisfied he waves me over. I join him, my moving quietly in the wild serving me well here. At the door I hear someone. They are speaking nonsense but there is a pattern to it. A dirge…perhaps a chant? It doesn’t seem entirely natural though I can’t tell if I’m speaking with hindsight. Not wanting to push our luck I don’t look in and instead watch Benjamin and Dr. Hawthorn join us silently moving as well. Benjamin I expected no issues with, his rifle seeming to work best at range and in cover but the Doctor surprised me. She either knew her stuff or emulated us extremely well extremely quickly. At the time I discounted it as luck, however for all I know, she’s better at being stealthy then any of us. I’m going to have to stop making assumptions in Malifaux; it’s going to get me killed.

Having met back up with no problems I risk a glance inside. The redheads’ words ringed in my ear. “If I told you about everything crazy I’d seen in Malifaux it would take all night…and tomorrow night and into next week.” I owe her a drink for preparing my mind for this. There are three men in the next room. Problem is they are obviously dead and they are obviously still standing, thankfully looking into a hallway away from us.  Zombies no other word for it... Now the smell the homeless man mentioned earlier truly registers. If that wasn’t enough there are…constructs…horrible things made of machine and flesh. Three of them are in the room, all built differently all abominations. All almost arachnoid shaped with sharp looking pincers in the front. One has ears in place of feet; one has a baby’s head and the other a red eye at the end of a stalk. None seemed to have noticed us yet. I look at my party seeing how they digest this. The Doctor is grasping her necklace and the two men are grabbing their weapons a little tighter. I was doing the same, the urge to kill such unnatural things overcoming all logic.  Logic would have said this goes beyond us we should get someone who understands all this. Instead we looked at each other, nodded and prepared to destroy these things and stop that infernal noise.

 It was at this moment one of the zombies’ pulls away from the pack and walks towards us. Itzal sabre raised charges it and cuts it to shreds. Almost at the same time Benjamin drops the zombie on the left while I kill the zombie on the right. Then these bio-mechanical constructs race toward Itzal, before they even attack him I can see their proximity disturbs him. Is that pain? He moves back towards us as a strange thing happens. As I’m firing my shot at Ear-feet it turns on baby-head and attacks it twice tearing it into pieces. I’m sure if it had travelled as I expected it would have met the slug from my shotgun. As I reload Benjamin takes out Eye-stalk with one solid shot. Ear-feet rushes over to us and I feel what disturbed Itzal. Just being close to this thing…it was a wave of caustic discomfort, building…and snuffed out by a blunt force of will and constitution. Small cries of distress from the doctor and Itzal made me assume they were not able to overcome that wave. Ear-feet, once again defying logic turns away from us and moves halfway back to baby-head and eye-stalks ruined corpses. Running? Or just malfunction? Was this thing a guard or a pet? So many questions for another time. Itzal one handed takes out some form of knife and throws two into Ear-feet who is finally still.

All immediate enemies killed Benjamin and I reload while Itzal went to retrieve his knives. No one is reacting strangely to these events.  Itzal and Benjamin I suppose I could understand. They look like men who have seen death…but still undead should be unnerving…right? Itzal just looks apathetic but perhaps that’s due to the pain brought on by ear-feet. Benjamin just looks happy to be able to shoot things. That and his charge doesn’t seem to be panicking. I looked at the doctor. In fact she seems less focused on the pain she just took and intently focused on what’s going on down the hall. Now I notice what Dr. Hawthorne is picking up on. The chanting hasn’t stopped; in fact it’s getting faster. I start my way indoors getting my first good look at the architecture. There are chains hung from the ceiling and a debased looking podium. Off to the side is the hallway leading off to the sound of the chanting. Without stopping, I grab a chain and pull it off from its weak bracket in the ceiling. I tested its weight, it’s no whip like I’m accustomed to but it’ll do. I barge into the hallway with the others following close behind. What we found still confuses me.

The hallway led down to a small circular room. I scanned for threats…I expected threats. What I found was a curly redheaded woman facing away from me standing in front of a table with a young girl on top of it. My brain hammers me with a sense of recognition I couldn’t quite grasp at the time. On the table…or an altar, was a young blond haired girl. At least she looked young, even in the seconds it took me to register what my eyes were seeing her hair was greying her skin more sunken. On her chest is a slug sized stone…a soulstone and it was glowing. That wasn’t the only thing that grabbed my eye, the redhead…she was holding my compass, and it was swinging, keeping rhythm to the chant. That’s when the woman turned around...with a snarl on her. Her emotions so at odds from the quick laughter I had known so briefly on the train. Allison!? We were here to rescue her!  I was and am still shocked to the core, the wrongness of all of this. “Where’s Bennett!? How is it you’re here!?” “He’s around…,” she responded. I walked forward a few more steps and Allison raised her hand. “Stop you can have the soulstone when I’m finished.” “The girl will be returned, just a bit dimmer, slower!” She pleaded. “You can’t stop it! You’d have to destroy the soulstone!” The Doctor from behind me, strangely enough, said “Maybe we should consider it?” My emotions were up, I couldn’t comprehend how the Doctor, any doctor could say that. Now that I’ve had time to think about it rationally a soulstone of that size…could be worth a fortune. Enough to set someone up for life maybe even fund her entire project to cure the plague. One life for many. I was not rational however, Allison was stealing life, a soul from a child, and Jorg’s compass was a part of it...somehow. I failed Jorg when I wasn’t there to protect him I would not let his gift to me be used this way. “NO!” I growled, this waving my hand in front of me, “This is wrong!”

I strode the rest of the room and pushed Allison to the side. The young girl did not have much time her skin was graying. I took the soulstone from her chest and threw it to the ground. It cracked, and Allison made a move to stop me. Itzal, charged her, cutting a deep wound in her arm with his sabre. The compass, Jorg’s compass dropped. Benjamin was moving to help as well. Satisfied, I readied my shotgun.  I was standing maybe two feet from the stone. I took aim, and fired both bores of my shotgun. I do not exaggerate my skill with the shotgun. I am good, very good with slug or shell. So when both slugs barely clip this soulstone confusion mounted before frustration.

Time seemed to slow down. Someone screamed but my world was focused only on the soulstone. While reloading I followed the soulstones flight, it flew into the air, bounced around the room and landed at Benjamin’s feet. I looked at Allison who was next to Benjamin and Itzal. She had a deep look of concentration on her face even though at that point she was being wrestled with by Benjamin.

 My confusion only grew as Benjamin let go of Allison who took a few wary steps away from him. Benjamin then kicked the soulstone over to Dr. Hawthorn who was still in the entryway. Strange, I would have expected her to see to the dying girl. The doctor’s eyes got wide when she looked down at the stone. No… Doctor, I thought, please don’t run. Hawthorn picked up the soulstone looked between it, Allison and me, as if deciding who to side with. After what felt like an eternity she spoke, “Let Allison live and I’ll give you the stone.” What? I didn’t want Allison’s death she was who we were supposed to be rescuing. I had so many questions for her still and most importantly the girl didn’t have time for this! I agreed…quickly and was rewarded with the stone arcing in the air towards me. One blast later it was done. As the soulstone exploded the girl bolted upright as if from a nightmare.

I turned my back to Allison and the wrestling once again glancing back when I heard Allison scream…and disappear. Scenarios slotted in place, confusion cleared, how could I have missed from such a small range, how could the soulstone have then flown practically across the room to land near Allison? Even as my confusion lessened my frustration grew, I longed to hunt after Allison, but I suppressed it. This wasn’t the time; I walked over to the girl who was by this point crying for her father. The doctor finally living up to her title checked the girl over and tried to calm her with soothing words. That’s when I learned her name, Rachel. Oh, young blond hair girl, she was the kidnapped girl whose father was a guild official. Dr. Hawthorne gave her a clean bill of health and offered to bring her back to her father. Was that greed or altruism? I couldn’t and at this point in writing still cannot tell. As it was I would chance nothing at this point. The most horrible scenario seeped into my mind. Hawthorne taking the girl back to Allison in exchange for another stone.

Now I am a blunt and honest man, most of the time that means I am also extremely rude and unsettling. This day though I managed to convince the girl she was safe, and that I would bring her to her father. She nodded and I asked that she climbed on my back. She did so and I told her to close her eyes. She buried her head in my neck. Smart girl. I looked at the rest of the group; Hawthorne seemed uncomfortable but didn’t argue. Then we left, after I retrieved Jorg’s compass of course. I followed the path easily enough again not making any wrong turns. Carrying the girl through these tunnels made me feel a curious sensation. Not so much stronger, but tougher, more resilient. Silently I thanked her for the chance to save her and resolved to make sure nothing got in my way. When we climbed up the ladder I searched for the man who had knocked himself out. He was nowhere to be seen and I was glad I took his knife. Last thing I wanted was an attacker to deal with, while the girl, who had been silent for a while, was on my back. When Dr. Hawthorne climbed the ladder she took out the map she had purchased even before the carriage ride. The guild building we were looking for was only a few large blocks away. I was fairly confident where we were in relation to the building and started that way before Dr. Hawthorne stopped me. “Maybe it would be more proper to have the girl seen with me when we return her?” she asked. I looked at the girl, who was now sleeping and gave the Doctor a grin and a shake of my head. She sighed and I grinned some more.

While navigating the few blocks I grabbed Jorg’s compass and opened it for the first time in months. It was broken after all never pointing where it should. Not anymore, it was working, and as I tested it quietly it was working extremely well. Was it Allison’s magic, or perhaps the fall it took in the inner chamber. Or was the answer simpler, it was here, through the breach that allowed the compass to work?

We arrived at the guild building most dangers seemingly past. I relaxed if only for a moment and turned to my companions, “Hold on, I will take care of this.” Without waiting for a response I head inside and walk straight to a secretary. She is looking over paperwork and hasn’t looked up yet. I position myself that you can’t see Rachel’s head. “Hello, I’m looking for some information about a job, to find your missing girl,” I asked. “Is there a reward by chance?” Now don’t get me wrong I would have turned the girl over for free. But I still need to eat and doubted the guild would hurt for some script. Besides I doubted the others even knew about the reward offered. I learned about it at the bar last night. The secretary didn’t look up while confirming indeed there was a reward. She said it mechanically, without hope. The secretary barely started to say yes when I moved and gave her a good view of Rachel’s head over my shoulder. The movement caught her eye and the secretary looked up, “OH MY GOSH!” She stood her papers forgotten, “Come this way!”

 The yelling and commotion wakes Rachel up but she looks excited as well. The secretary leads us all upwards to an office where we meet the girl’s father. He looks like he hasn’t slept in days. Rachel all but leaps from my back and runs to her father who crushes her in a hug. After many hugs, and tears the father looks up and meets my eyes. “Anything within my power, it’s yours.” I glanced to the side, thinking, “Give me a few days.” “Of course, he says thank you,” and excuses himself to have time with Rachel. We leave, and head back to the Bubbling Turtle.

 As we walk in Benjamin and Dr. Hawthorne excuse themselves and I offer to buy Itzal a drink. He was after all the one who backed me up the fastest and with the least complaints or pranks at my expense. The bar had another occupant, the same woman as last night. She might be another redhead, but I am reasonably sure doesn’t want to shoot me…yet.  As we arrived next to her I asked the bartender for three of what she was having. I passed one to my right, to the redhead and another to my left for Itzal. “I owe you a few drinks,” I told her. “Oh, why’s that?” If you hadn’t prepared me for some of the crazy stuff that lives in this place I doubt I would have been ready for the zombies or little creepy bio-constructs that hurt just to be near or the woman who controlled them,” I explained. “Ah abominations, pesky little buggers. Sounds like you met a Resser.” “Mhm, I’m just glad to be alive at the end of the day.” She grinned, “I can drink to that.” “Wait,” I ask, before we toast this is Itzal and my name is Liam” “I’m Anna.” Introductions over we raised our glasses and shot them back.

I can’t read how the others feel about the day’s events but I picture the gleaming armor from my vision the day before. Now however, it doesn’t crumble.

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