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Private Investigators

Date: 02-15-06
Poster: Jacob Anderson
Post # 1

Answering an Ad

It was a long haul when waiting. Word had been sent to his Lordship Frasier as they now waited on any further instructions in particular. In the meantime it was the woman's mother Mercy was to see and if she got the friend to speak on the what her daughter might have told her. Jacob had been down to the port and discreetly seen to a pouch ending up in Patch's hands. It would buy him a few weeks of good food to eat and as much as he wanted to drink. Except, Jay had a feeling the man didn't really imbibe like he would have others believe. The walk back was enjoyable as snow drifted in a thickening veil of white. That silence that only such could bring at night or even during daytime, it put a hush over the world or so it seemed. Comforting feel and lending Jay's shoulders to relax some for the first time in a while. It was cold so by the time he reached the office he was ready for that mug of coffee and possibly some warmed up scones, muffins, biscuits, whatever the lass at the bakery dropped off for them for helping her out on a minor case. The ching of the bell over the door sounded, something implemented after that first night of surprise, and Jay was in closing it behind him and proceeding to dust off the layer of white from his cloak.

Mercy had been to see the woman earlier in the day. It hadn't been easy with her mourning the loss of her daughter but the friend had come to the girl's funeral and they had spoken.  The lass had refused to come back out of hiding to speak to Mercy but instead had given Nancy's mother the small bit of information she had.  When Mercy left, the woman found several gold coins to help her through the next month.  It was not much, but Mercy felt the need to do something.  She was in her office, writing a report of the visit and what she had learned when she heard the door open.  Standing, she moved to the door.  The office smelled of fresh coffee and the biscuits and bread that Jacob was looking forward to.

"It's snowing again." Grin spreading for it was quite obvious. "I think there is at least six inches out there already and it's still coming down heavy. There hasn't been any response to that ad we placed?" He was around to pour himself some coffee and wolf down some of the biscuits. He even found a wedge of apple pie left for him as he grinned around the biscuit held between his lips and teeth. Biscuit in mouth, pie in one hand and coffee in the other he was over to take over Diane's desk and see if there was any applications sent in. The pie set to wood as his hand was up to break off the bisquit piece and eat as he started eyeing the piles. He wouldn't touch much unless he saw something that looked like a resume, Diane was known to bite.

"At least it waited until we were back."  She shook her head in answer to his question, watching as he headed for the coffee. "Not yet.  More time might be needed."  She bit back her laughter as she watched the balancing act. "Be careful you don't spill anything.  She made sure there wasn't a speck of dust anywhere before she left."  Between her and Sarah, they didn't have to worry about how the office looked.

If they were cops, it would be a donut stuff in his mouth!

The detective duo wouldn't get to have much time to themselves.  Clark Davis spent most of his life looking for this opportunity.  He stopped outside the office entrance, reopening the paper that possessed the ad for an associate as he hunched his body inward from the drifting snow.  This particular paper was well read and the fold proved it was this page alone that held Clark's interest.  He studied the address, then blinked past the snowflakes to the door. Well, looked like this was the place.  A few well executed stomps cleared his boots of the snow that clung to his soles, and he pushed the door opened.  The jangling announcement of his arrival almost made him jump, but he held tight to that paper and continued in, securing the door against the chill behind him.

He would get blamed for he was sure no matter how careful he was.. biscuit crumbs would end up somewhere in Diane's drawers, on her seat or worse, in her basket of supplies. One that held items ranging from envelopes to scissors to pencils to rubber bands and so on. He would hear it in the morning when she licked one of those envelopes and got biscuit crumbs on her tongue. She wouldn't go after Mercy, no, she would go right after Jacob! He already wiped one splatter of coffee from the desk with the sleeve of his shirt and was edging a document out from under a pile of others that looked like it could be a resume. Almost got it out as the unexpected jingle of the bell over the door had him like a kid with his hand in the cookie jar.. around so fast the mug of coffee went flying, spilling its contents along the way. "Come right on in. Cold as a bugger out there, what can I do for you?"

Mercy blinked when Jacob was up out of the seat like it had caught fire. She laughed then cleared her throat and looked toward the door.  Time to get another cup of coffee herself and offer the gen, who seemed near frozen, one. She was still wearing the skirt and top she had worn into Rhydin, white shirt with a wide belt and a skirt of brown wool.  Easier to move among the people without attracting attention.

"Hello."  Nodding to Jacob. "Hello." Another nod to Mercy and without much more thought to being a stranger here, he joined them where they were.  Quick to pluck off his gloves, he made use of the desk where Jacob had been.  The melted snow splattering water droplets on that polished wood as he opened the page and pointed a finger to the ad.  "I'm looking for Mr. Anderson or Ms. LaCorte."  A look from Jacob to Mercy followed.  Male.  Female.  Could he have hit the jackpot with both of them there, first try?  Out shot his hand to Jacob. He was closest.  "Davis.  Clark Davis.  Newly arrived in these lands, true, but eager to make the most of it."

Probably had something to do with being Diane's desk for Jay rarely fumbled. He was quick to mop it up with excess paper, parchment was more porous. Back they went into the trash basket aside her desk. "I'm Jacob Anderson and this is my partner Mercy LaCorte." Pleasant enough as he wiped his hand down along his side to dry off before taking the man's in a good strong gripping shake then released. "Well met Clark Davis and how can we help you?"

Mercy bit at her lip to keep from laughing again.  At least there was little damage done and none of the important papers marked.  "Well met, Mr. Davis."  A nod of her head given as she offered a cup of coffee. Maybe she could get both men away from the desk and settled either at the table nearby or in one of the offices.

Clark's grip matched Jacob's but he pumped that offered hand one, two, three times, smiling as he continued on to Mercy only to find that a shake of hand wouldn't be feasible.  He accepted the coffee mug instead.  He started to drink but the steam touched his lips and warned him to wait.  Instead, he - still smiling - passed a glance between Jacob and Mercy.  "I'm here to answer your ad there."  He nodded to where the paper still lay open on the desk.  His other hand was used as a saucer and cupped under the mug when he started back to the desk so he could refresh their memory about the ad.  "Do you still have the position available?"  Not only did Jacob have coffee at the desk, so did Clark.

"We certainly do. Do you happen to have a resume or can fill one out now and list your qualifications?" There was due process to go through. "His Lordship Joseph McDonough will do the actual hiring but if you fill this out it will speed things up." Back around as that sheet he was working out was such a document. So it had specks of tan on it, it would not be that noticeable? He set it out along with pencil before stepping away. He took up his coffee, one less on the desk the better!

That would not be a good introduction to their secretary, well the main one, anyway.  Mercy stayed right where she was, watching Clark with some interest.  "Have you done this type of work before, Clark?"  If he was accepted, they'd be on a first name basis anyway.  She glanced toward the door and the heavy snow, thinking maybe Diane wouldn't show tomorrow. That would save Jacob's hide.

Clark watched as Jacob pulled out the necessary paperwork.  "Ah, uh .... wait."  His hand delved into the warm insides of his woolen coat and pulled out three pages, folded lengthwise in half so it would fit in that pocket.  "I have what I call my cirriculum vitea.  Where I studied, what I've accomplished, this that and the other."  He placed that on the desk but still, with the tip of his forefinger slid the other page closer.  His gaze traveled over to Mercy with a slant of his head.  "Quite often, actually." And here he laughed, subdued, perhaps even embarrassed.  "Since I was a lad.  There is a tavern here in town, I'm told.  I'll be staying there.  I'm sure you'll be checking my credentials...and hopefully, when you do, you'll be sending word to me at the Thistle Tavern to come for an interview."  All the while his attention drifted from one private investigator to the other.  He took up the paper with the ad as well as the form Jacob provided, he'd be taking these with him.  He rolled them up together and then, with a tap of the edge of those papers to his temple, he provided a modified salute.  He'd depart as soon as he was sure they knew where to find hire him!

"I'm sure Mister McDonough will be in touch. By the by, the tavern has excellent food and the rooms are not only comfortable but warm." Can't beat the price either which he would find out if he didn't already know. Jay was leaning in a slant as he caught a few words written on the resume. He was curious which made him a good private investigator too.

Oh, he knew.  He'd already checked out the place.

"It was a pleasure to meet you, Clark."  She didn't add we'll see you soon, since more than likely they would at the Thistle. She smiled at him and as soon as he left, she'd be doing the same as Jacob.

"I'll be awaiting word from Mister McDonough then.  Good day." First to Mercy this time with a nod, then to Jacob.  "Good day."  He smoothed up the collar of coat, tucked the papers under one arm and slipped his hands into his gloves.  He was on his way.  The next couple of days would tell whether he'd be calling Heathfield ... home.

"A good night to you. Sleep well." If he got in soon enough he might get in on this case if it wasn't resolved yet. Luckily Joe was back so he didn't have to wait. Once Clark was out he was reading the resume. A low whistle under his breath. "If this man checks out, we'll have another good partner."

"Really?"  She moved over beside Jacob, looking around to read.  "Great."  She continued to read as she added. "Next time he can play the cabin boy." This time she didn't bother holding back her laughter.

A hand slipped around her waist as he tucked her in against him fast and solid. "I don't think he would take to me being a little rough.." A waggle of brows before he set her free and the deep rolling chuckle to follow. "You certainly had the men looking, I know some women that would have been drooling to have such." Didn't say much for that kind of woman but far too many of them around.

She eeeped! when she found herself tight against him and laughed. "Aye, but they might not have drooled had they known I was a woman." Which also didn't say much for the droolers!  "I felt worse than if I had been displaying a lot of skin. Poor lads."  She meant the ones that actually did have to face the lot of them.

"They would just be making use of all your gifts uninvited, in the alleyway." Which had him frowning. Teasing or not the reality of such places was harsh on women and on children. He cleared his throat as a smile shifted. "You have a lot going for you, Mercy, in looks, in.. well.. a lot. Just in case no one has told you so."

Mercy's smile faded slightly as she watched Jacob.  Caught off guard by the compliment, Mercy felt her cheeks grow hot.  Just a hint of a blush showed.  It had been a while since she had heard a compliment. "Thank you, Jacob. I ... have the report about my meeting today. Care to read over it."  A bit more work to be done before their evening was truly over.

Dark eyes held as he studied her, well noticing the blush as the corners of his lips twitched. It was becoming and he couldn't help reacting. "Of course, the report. I would love to read it over." Drawing glance tore from the blush on her cheeks to see to that .. report.


Date: 02-24-06
Poster: Mercy LaCorte
Post # 2

Working on the Case

Jacob was lounged out at a corner table. Some files scattered on the wooden surface as with pen in hand he was making notes while cross referencing the information. He scribbled one about running a small donation fund for the Forsythe woman. Booted feet were kicked up on the seat across beneath the table. Coffee mug near his left hand of which the contents had grown cold. Alex was on his way over to see to refilling it and leaving the pot.

Mercy had been out in the commons again, restocking the office. She had also visited a few of the shops she had been window-shopping at the night before. Booted feet carried her up the steps where she stomped them off. A push to the door and she entered, closing the door quickly against the cold. Wouldn't do to freeze anyone that was in there. "Alex, coffee, if you would." She spotted Jacob but would wait to join him. The woman there got a nod. "Afternoon, Miss."

The draft of cold air had rich brown eyes glance up from beneath dark brows. Setting the notepad aside as well as straightening the pile of papers before he stood from his seat. Booted feet touching down first as the chair across moved a fraction. He needed to stand as the fresh mug of coffee was cradled to one hand. "Afternoon." Taking a quick darting glance to a window to make sure it was still afternoon. There and back as a smile easily lifted between the unknown woman and Mercy.

Mercy was trying not to chuckle. Jacob had been so engrossed in his work, it seems they caught him off guard. She took hold of the woman's hand and gave an easy shake. "Mercy, and that gent over there is Jacob."

They had but then it went with the job description. At least his grin made up for it as it grew lopsided. "Nice to meet you Claire. Good to see you Mercy. You may wish to skim these notes I've been making and a fund to help out the Forsythe woman."

"Really? I will then." She was wearing leather pants under a tunic of blue, laces left open to show the white blouse beneath. After gaining a cup of coffee, she made her way to the table, taking a lean to look over the papers, glancing up as another came in. A palm placed against the wood and she read over the notes. She watched the woman leave with a hint of surprise, nodding as she left. "Afternoon." The man was greeted as he moved to the fire. Mercy wouldn't intrude on his solitude. Instead, she kept her attention on the papers. It looked like the fund was off to a good start.

Jacob had excused himself  for a few minutes taking the corridor leading to the offices. He  was soon back carrying even more files to add to the others. He was shuffling through them as he crossed the distance, giving the male there at the hearth a distracted nod before he was over to the table he had previously occupied. He took to the task of laying out a few, four across and three beneath. Another was lifted from the middle of the pile, read over in a swift glance and folded off to the bottom.

"You have a good start." She looked up as she watched him with the new folders. Head tipping slightly, a brow lifted in question. Did they have a new case or was this still the old one?

"I would like to talk to Lisette but I will wait until Neale and Robert see her, or get the information from them." He was down to seat himself comfortably as he brought out a folder amongst the papers. A simple one that held one sketch he had done. He was proud of his work too as he took it out and set it in front of her. It was his rendering of how the scars would look according to the description Shaffer had given them. This he would pass onto Neale first chance he got.

"Excellent, Jacob." She studied it then nodded and looked up at him again. "Have you heard how she's doing?" The last Mercy had heard, she was recovering well. But still the trauma of the attack would not fade for some time.

"She is doing well, no concussion but they wanted to keep her in the hospital for a few days. Nice bump." So he knew some that worked there willing to give him the information for who he was, especially with the ongoing investigation. There was no other information to be given to just anyone. This he knew he'd have to wait for, first hand or by proxy. "I would surmise the keeping of her there is serving another purpose than just the bump on her head but for her safety." Tidbit of information he'd only share with Mercy. "Unless the Frasier lord gives the word to have her released sooner. Lisette doesn't know this." More than likely from what he knew of the lady, if she knew she didn't have to stay she'd be out of there and right back in her shop.

"Of course." She wouldn't say a word, unless told otherwise. Jacob was studied a moment before she grinned. "You know too many people, Jacob." It was a compliment. It made their job much easier. "How long have you lived here?"

"Three years now..." He paused as he tried to recall. "It's a long story but at least it all worked out well." He also looked a lot like Trevor Cairns if Mercy ever came across that particular kings man. Although Jay was a bit younger and a bit more wild looking.

Might be an interesting tale to hear some night when there was little to do. "Then you should know one or two folks here." She chuckled then tapped the papers. "I talked to a few of the merchants around here today while I was out.  It seems Jonathan Stirling was seen at about the same time the attack happened, walking through the commons. But ... " She paused, eyes narrowing. "No one really saw his face."

"There is always the ploy to hire a look alike. If we found the one hired, if hired and got a confession..." Of course there were means to get a confession that was not really on the up and up if the one was a hard case.

A slow nod was given as she straightened slightly. "I would say it was wasn't one from here. That would be too risky." And the other city would be nearly impossible to search, but one could get lucky.

"Hopefully we can pin the man before needing to go to those extremes. Before he harms another. The oddity of this last, he didn't try to kill Lisette unlike the other poor lass of which I suspect he had a hand in it at least. What is making this difficult is I'm figuring there is more than one involved."

"Probably. Stirling would have a whole shipload of men to pick from." She made a slight face. "Unless he didn't have a chance with the guard, but I can't see that." Killing someone could be a quick act, especially with the woman unconscious. "Unless he just meant to terrorize her."

"Is Lisette involved with a Frasier do you think? I mean, why Lisette? The other woman left alive would be hard evidence for the, night wear, that was sent for Kathleen."

"I've heard rumors concerning Robert Frasier." She looked at Jacob and grinned. "You may have found a connection." Maybe Stirling would start to feel the noose around his neck soon?

Which had him with a quick glance around. No crones at the windows, no sailors at the door. The tavern was empty except for them. Dark eyes were back upon her as they needed to be careful. Alex was totally trusted. More than likely he would give them the heads up if someone was coming they needed to be aware of. "I only hope whatever has him here, keeps him here long enough for us to nail him."

Mercy wouldn't have spoken out if she thought it wasn't safe and she kept her voice low. She nodded again, slowly. "So do I. We should get all this back to the office. I'll give you a hand." Mercy was also starting to get hungry. "I think it's your turn to cook." Grinning, she waited for him to hand her some of the papers in case they were in a certain order. 

"I asked the cook here to have some delivered." Of course the lad bringing over the food later would get paid. "I ordered enough in case you wanted some. Whatever the special is tonight along with some of the Irish stew and brown bread." Slow grin spreading. "Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?"

Mercy had done that more than a few times and she laughed. If she had been wearing a skirt instead of pants, she would have curtseyed. "I would be delighted." Food from the Thistle was always appreciated.  And having dinner in good company even more so.

"Once this case is solved, being our first one too, I'd like to take you out to dinner, to Sibio Bistro if you would accompany me?" So he was really asking as the stack of papers had been picked up and he drew closer, tall enough to tower and a dip of his chin brought dark eyes to meet hers. "Unless you are booked up?" She could have a man she was with or fancied for all he knew, or more, paid attention at times. For certain things he paid well attention to, he didn't as far as social intrigues, who was with who unless it mattered in a case being worked on.

Since Mercy was just starting to get out, there were only a few she really knew. She tipped her head back to smile brightly at him. "I haven't one single date written down in my book. I'd like that." Sibio's was one place she had yet to experience though she knew it by reputation. It would be a good place to celebrate.

He offered his arm. "Well then, now you do have at least one." Smile broadened as he escorted her out. "I should treat my cabin boy out to dinner." Adding a wink in as they were on their way.



Date: 03-23-06
Poster: Xander McDonough
Post # 3

Tears of the Past

Xan was taking the opportunity to do some inventory in one of the storage rooms. He wanted to have the cases and other items Velvet might be able to use when Draven came for them. He had placed most of the items he thought would suit in one corner. Dressed for work, the sleeves of the gray flannel shirt he wore were rolled up. His clothes were dusty from moving things about.

Joseph had worried on Alexander. Something he couldn't quite put his finger on but having been trained by Andrew, he picked up on more things than he probably should or didn't enough? It was debatable but whatever the reasons or instincts, it had him changing the course of his day to head to his brother's instead. He was open as the sign read as Joe was up the steps, over the narrow porch and swinging the door open with such zest it had the chimes ringing in near a screech. Instead of the ching chong it was Chinnnnnnnnnnnnnng bong bong bong bong. Long cloak licked around well made leather boots laced up to his knees over thick woolen dark brown pants. Vest over a sweater ensured he kept warm and of course the wide brim Stetson was dipped down in front protecting his face against the snow flurries that had started up outside. Enough to leave a dusting over hat and cloak.

Those chimes could be heard all over the shop and Xan headed out of the storage room. He was still trying to decide if he should get a pup for training, or find a dog that already was. A grin appeared when he saw Joe and he headed for him, rubbing his hands clean on his pants. "You seem like a man on a mission, Joseph." He spoke as he neared. "And I'm a man ready to take a break. Join me for a drink." The new lass he had hired was staring at Joe until she caught Xan looking her way. With a blush, she turned back to acquainting herself with the merchandise.

A forefinger and thumb slid along the brim in a dip as green eyes met the staring lass straight on just before Xander came into the room and broke whatever infatuation she was under. Smile was infectious, incorrigible to the core, and the way green eyes twinkled one knew Joe had the devil in him. Hand fell away as he watched the blush, reward certainly, before turning on his brother full focus. "I was waiting for you to ask. About that time and a good drink along with some bakery goods I picked up at Teri's along the way." Box had been tucked under one arm keeping it hidden until spoken upon as he lifted it out for his brother to take. "I told her to pack your favorites and mine." Which meant cheesecake and eclairs on his part. He was in a fattening mood not that an ounce clung to him.

"You trying to make me fat?" He chuckled as he motioned toward the office. "Did I tell you I met Marcy? Quite by accident." In her falling on top of him along with a lot of snow! He stopped to allow Joe to step through the door first, then followed, closing it behind him. He had rearranged the office, adding a sitting area away from the desk that was more welcoming, a better place to talk in private without him sitting behind the desk. Like Joe, there wasn't an ounce of fat on him. They worked too hard.

"Yes. You need some meat on your bones." Right, but he would tease and it came with a hearty laugh. Stetson was taken off and hung to the coat rack once inside as his cloak soon follow so all could dry. "Good, we teased you about her but like you she spends too much time in her shop and all work. How did it go? What do you think of her?" Plying him with questions as he headed for the sitting area arranged in front of the hearth. He was down getting himself far too comfortable, bordering sinful as legs stretched out. "I like how you arranged the office, far more comfortable and welcoming if you have guests or clients of that accord." The questions were to get him talking. This was his brother. Someone who loved them all and was there to help in however he could.

"She's a lovely woman, very likable." He chuckled as he sat, stretching out his legs in a near imitation of Joe. "She had been trapped in her shop since the storm had begun. Fell on top of me when she climbed out a window." He gave Joe a smile that could almost be sly. "Nice armful. I want to check on her, make sure she didn't take ill though." He glanced around the office. "I like it better this way too. I felt too ... stuffed shirt the other way." Realizing they needed glasses, he stood, grabbed two and rejoined Joe. "Pour the drinks while I get napkins. I need to get something off my chest, Joe. Before it comes back to haunt me in another way."

"Marcy is a damn good looking lass and that body.." well, he cut it off there, otherwise it would sound off-color when he had enough respect for the lady. One only had to look at her. "I'm surprised she has not been snatched away and married off. There were some rumors, based on something about others long ago that had not appreciated her, even a marriage. I'm not sure and certainly would not walk in her shop and ask, expecting her to tell me her sordid or hurtful past." He pour the drinks, keeping the idle conversation going before he sat back, glass in hand, and anything about the respected lady now in the background again. "Tell me, Xander, I feel there has been something eating away at you that is not business associated but certainly will eat into all areas of your life if you let it fester."

Xan picked up one glass and studied the liquid for a moment before taking a drink. He had not talked about his past with anyone, not even Garath and it was going to take a moment or two to start. Once the glass was lowered, he looked at Joe. "When I first left to travel, I wandered a while, ended up in the French colonies. I did some trapping there, scouting. I made some good friends." He paused, his eyes taking on a distant look. "One was Arber Vioget. He was an architect by trade, and on his way to becoming a rich man. Older than me too." He paused to take another drink.

"The colonies, ah, yes. Some interesting stories came out of there from ones that had visited and spent time living in the wilds." Green eyes lifted to study his brother for he still stood and might continue to. Joe would be prone to pacing if something was deeply troubling him. A slight nod for the man's name given but he felt he was only some kind of connection to the main reasons. The look given coupled with the fading off of words were to encourage Xander to continue.

He looked back at Joe, his focus returning. "I became like a son to him. He invited me to his home. His wife was a Native woman who had died some years before. There was a daughter, and a young son. The daughter's name was Chantal." Xan smiled. "I wish you could have seen her, Joe. She was beautiful. Unlike any girl I had ever met, and I fell head over heels in love. I married her that spring. It was one of the happiest times of my life."


He drew in a breath, one held a good count before released. He knew something was going to come that had changed that happiness to disaster. Chantal was not with him, nor any children, if there was any. A fingerpad ran against the rim of his glass in an idle way, one showing he already knew, just didn't know the particulars. "Chantal, is a very beautiful name." Words holding that rough edge with the restraint of emotion held at bay. "What happened to her Xander?" Sounding more like how did she die because he would not believe anyone would, in their right mind, leave his brother.

"It was a few years after we married.  A fever swept through the city.  I fell ill first.  When I recovered, Chantal was gone."  His voice was thick was emotion as he continued. "She had been carrying our first child, and I lost them both.  Arber had fallen ill as well, but he survived.  He never left his bed again.  I left when I was well enough.  It was after I met up with Garath I learned he had died, and left me the money I used to buy my first ship." He took a deep breath then shook his head. "I was determined to never put myself in that position again, but ... now I feel like I've only been partially living."

"The pain does cease after a while. The amount of time is different for each one. Joshua's mother was a beautiful wild Gypsy that had stolen my heart the first time I laid eyes on her." Xander had not been around, probably knew enough of the fact Joshua was not born of his past wife, only Tamara she had bore them. "As is the Gypsy way they never settle. In that I am different no matter what courses through our blood. I later met a woman and fell in love, we married and eventually Tamara was born. I don't know what happened but I can only guess she fell out of love and was gone one day a couple years ago. Kenneth and his sister, Lola, came back for a disaster that had befallen their clan. I found out then that her son was mine also, she wanted me to raise him because he was so much more like me. I tried to persuade her to stay but it was in her blood to wander. I didn't know that day I would never see her again. She was killed during a raid on their caravan." He was watching Xander the whole while as his own story was heart wrenching enough and now he would get to the point as there was not the kind of emotion held to his brogue in the telling of it. "For a long time the pain was unbearable that I kept inside, two different kinds of desertion in a sense, I could be jaded the rest of my life ever to fall in love again. I sometimes wonder if  I am but that is not the answer. I certainly will be far more cautious. If you can find love it is a very precious commodity and you must go into such a commitment, bond, knowing that it could end or be taken away from you by other means." As in death. "You have a lot to offer, Xan, you are not the only one that has loved and lost but hopefully you'll not be one of the ones to throw away that part of your life. Chantal, would she have wanted this for you?"

He frowned slightly as he listened to Joe's story, knowing there had been heartbreak there.  The children were the result of all that though, and in that, Joe was blessed.  "Chantal would have wanted me to love again, to have children if that was possible.  She always said I would be a good father." He finally sat, having not given in to the urge to pace. "When I was recovering, I thought I heard her voice, or the cry of our child.  That cry still haunts me, Joe. I don't think they would have kept the child from me, but ... what if I'm wrong?  They buried Chantal while I was ill.  She was nearly to term.  I wonder sometimes ...  " He shook his head.  "But I don't think Arber would have kept my child from me." Looking down at the glass, Xan frowned. "It's odd how the mind works, isn't it?" If Xan found love again, he didn't want to carry these burdens into that relationship.  A slight smile appeared as he looked up. "I sound like the younger brother, don't I?"

"Maybe the cry is to haunt you until one day it is heard by another child sired by you being born. The day you hold your son in your arms, the cry will cease." Odd but that was the impression he was getting on another level. "I would not let it get out though or you'll have a slew of women at your doorstep willing to bear your child." That came teasing, yet not, for how some things were crazy enough. "It may well have been her way to tell you to continue on. You will one day have a son even if Fate was not hers to allow when she had tried. I may never find love again, I may not be able to love again but I do have children and in that, I am blessed. I can visit the Garden any time I have a real need, I have the cattle ranch, the private investigators now and certainly a full life. If love should be part of it again one day, it will be a tried and true one before taking such a chance."

He chuckled at the mention of a slew of women. That was something he didn't need. Let his brothers and cousins deal with that! "Maybe so. I was considering ... finding out for certain, for my own sanity, if the child had died. The truth is, I don't know if I'd really want to know. They wouldn't know about me, anymore than I know about them. In another way, I don't want someone coming to me and saying I'm your son, or daughter, and they aren't." He looked at Joe and shrugged. "Tell me if I'm being paranoid, Joe and I'll put it out of my mind." There it was. A fear one would come after he had a family, and try to destroy what he found again. It wasn't a good thought, but there were those who were unscrupulous.

"I don't think your paranoid at all. There seems to be a margin of doubt that should be investigated. I can put my detectives on the case. It would be a good one for Clark to get his feet wet too. How old would the child be and exactly where do we start looking? Was there any close friends of Chantal's, a nanny, one she had planned to help out once the baby was born. Any connections with her mother's tribe?"

"Around sixteen." He leaned forward, elbows coming to rest on his knees. "I received word of Arber's death from Jean-Pierre and he was still living in Port Royal. Chantal had several close friends but there was one who was helping. Her name was Marie-Elise Eliot. Likely married now. Arber kept in touch with his wife's family also. I don't know exactly where they lived, except it was south of the city. Huron tribe." He let out a soft sigh. "I feel as if I've let go of a great burden, Joe."

"If your son or daughter lives, we will find them. My nephew or niece." He was up from his seat to clasp a hand to his shoulder. "We will make certain, one way or another and if indeed your child died with your wife then finally you can put them both to rest. Still, you need to continue on. Find love again if it knocks on your door. I'm tempted to tease you on Marcy but I would not have originally if I had known this. She's a good woman but you need to find one on your own." Which he kind of had for how he met the lass but the point was, Joseph would not be setting him up or pushing a name on him. Holy Hell, Marcy would have his hide if she even found out he realized.

Xan wouldn't be sharing that he had, for that reason. Joe didn't need that kind of trouble. He placed his hand over Joe's, and nodded. "I kept it inside, and now I know it was a mistake. This was the first I've spoken Chantal's name since I left Port Royal. That was wrong too. I only hope, if there is a child, they won't hate me for what happened." He lowered his hand and grinned. "Thank you, Joe."

"How could they hate you for what you did not know? You spoke on it when you were ready to so I'll not be hearing any of bashing yourself for mistakes or feeling what might have been a mistake." Hand fell away after the mutual brotherly show of love and support. "Let's head up to the Thistle and have a few with some others if anyone is out." Lighten the mood and meet others too.

"Good idea." He needed a break from the shop, and now that the burden had been eased some, a night out was more than welcome. "Just give me a moment to grab a sweater, and close up the shop." With that done, he'd be ready to head out and enjoy a few drinks.


Date: 03-30-06
Poster: Clark Davis
Post # 4

The Case of the ... Cry of a Child
Clark rocked on the back two legs of his chair, reclining at the table where he sat with his drink balanced in his grip on his knee. Up and back. Forward and back. A touch of chair to the wall behind and a gentle rock forward again. Relaxation was a wonderful thing. Especially when one was so good at it. Rock, rock, lift of glass, rock.

Jacob was in the back office scrounging around and going over some files to organize them. Diane was not responsible for the small office here and Joe had asked he check on things from time to time. Once done, he vacated the smaller room and headed for the bigger one. At least he got a good, free, lunch here and had eaten well. Eaten so well he near fell asleep while doing the mundane of going over the files. Another reason he needed to get up and move around. A grin tipped seeing Clark lounging. He did it so well. "Coffee with a touch of the pure in it." Addressing Alex as he approached the bar. Not wishing to start really drinking and definitely have him falling asleep.

Mercy was at the bar, having finished her rather late lunch. She was sitting with her back to the bar, coffee mug in hand, watching Clark rock. She grinned when Jacob appeared from the back and raised her mug in a salute. Her coffee was pure
... black ... nothing added.

"Hey Jay." He offered out to Jacob. He and Mercy were comfortable with each other's presence and the necessary greetings given already. "Did you get it all taken care of?" At times, it was better to allow a man to keep his own thoughts straight by not attempting to 'help'. Besides, any who knew Clark realized that if Clark wasn't involved in helping...all went so much smoother.

Xan had stopped at the office and found Diane alone, and busy cleaning up after her three 'charges'. She sent him on to the Thistle, knowing their habits well. As he pushed open the door, he was pleased to see all three there. "Afternoon." General greeting covered all.

"I left the two footer stack of files for you Clark." Teasing tossed his way over a shoulder before he was collecting the mug from Alex. Straight coffee with added potcheen was the pure in his case. He was around into a lean as a wink was given Mercy's way before the mug was lifted and a careful taste taken.

Clark's coffee was also black. After all, it took effort by himself or someone to fill it with cream and sugar. "'deed it is, Xander. Good day to you." The front of the chair touched down and Clark repositioned himself.

"Afternoon." Mercy dimpled with the wink, then that smile was turned on Xan. She brought both feet up to rest against the bottom rung of the stool she had taken over, fingers curled around her mug.

"I'm glad I caught the three of you. Has Joseph spoken to you about a job I would like you to undertake?" He went along with the crowd, picking coffee over potcheen, though like Jacob, he had Alex add a touch of it.

"Afternoon Xander." Greeting him in turn as he lifted his mug in a salute before taking another drink. "He mentioned one in the works but said you would fill in the details for you could best answer any questions."

It seemed from nowhere Clark produced a pad and a stick of wood protected lead. He flipped a few of the pages, tapping his fingertip to his tongue after several pages, then prepared to take notes. Details were best jotted down lest they be forgotten.

Jacob released a low quick chuckle as he noted Clark quick in preparation. One thing he did well, they were finding out quickly enough, was taking notes and lounging. Only needed one so Jacob would commit things said and seen to memory. He wondered if Clark could draw a sword or dagger as fast. Now that would be another added talent.

Since the Thistle was occupied by just the three, and Alex, Xander had no problem discussing what he wanted. "Some years ago, I lived in Port Royal, in New France. I married a young woman named Chantal Vioget, daughter of a prominent architect. Several years later, she died from a fever. I was told our unborn child did as well. I was recovering from the same fever, but I heard a child crying." Xan paused a moment before adding, "Now I wonder if I had been told a lie, and the child lived."

Shantall Violet ... got it. Wait. Blast. He applied the tip of his tongue to the smooth point of the lead. Needed to sharpen this eventually. Okay, now ... Port Royal. New France. Married. Architect's daughter. Child ... child? Clark lifted his gaze from his scribblings over to Xan.

Mercy watched Xan as he spoke, studying him. You could always catch something from body language.  She glanced at Jacob and Clark occasionally, though it would be hard to tell what she was thinking.  Her expression was pleasantly neutral.

Brows had dipped as he listened, the mug lifted and coffee consumed gradually. Every so often a glance was spared Mercy's way but mostly he watched Clark in the way he took these notes. "Do you wish to hire us to go to Port Royal?" More knowing that was the point of this conversation so... "Are there any names we can have to contact? Any and all you know from back then."

"Yes, that's what I'm asking. Chantal's brother, Jean-Pierre should still live there. The last I had contact with him was when his father died. I have a list of names with me. There's also the tribe that Chantal and Jean-Pierre's mother came from. She was a Native. Iroquois. One of Arber's ... that's the name of their father ... One of his partners is still alive. He's quite elderly. He may be able to direct you to exactly where the clan is." He pulled the paper from an inside pocket and handed it to Jacob.

Good lord, slow down! Clark continued to listen to Xander, passing his gaze from Jacob back to Xan as he scratched away at that pad. Not only the information offered over but possible questions that needed answering found it's way from thoughts to printed text.

He was up from his lean to collect the piece of paper offered. One handed opening it up and a quick scan of the names while committing them to a photographic memory. He crossed the distance to Clark before looking up as he reached his comrade and set the paper down on the table, text facing him although he was tempted to put it upside down at first. Grin said it all, make it easier to add some of the names.

Mercy glanced from Xan to Jacob then to Clark before looking back to Xan. She sipped the coffee carefully, brow furrowing slightly as she went over everything that was said. Clark would have to change Violet to Vioget.

Xan was a man who was trying to deal with a past he had tried to forget. It was still painful. "If you have any questions, I'll do my best to answer them." He finally took a drink of the coffee as he leaned back against the bar. Mercy was given a hint of a smile when she looked his way.

Odd little quirk about Clark, he could read upside and backwards just as easily and quickly as he could blink. Using the wooden end of the stick, Clark pulled the page closer and scanned it. Davis would not make light of anyone's pain, but may the good lord help him, at times, he just had no clue. "Did I miss how old the child would be?"  He looked from one person to the next, dark brows raised in question. Tap, tap, tap of pencil tip to page, prepared to ... make note.

"Seventeen, almost eighteen. Not a child anymore." He looked at Clark as he answered, perhaps a little nervous since he had forgotten that bit of information.

"My...not a child at all." Information jotted down. "I traveled to New France once, quite a few years ago. Interesting place. What color hair did your wife have? Dark?" It would appear the newest investigator was now doodling a sketch of some sort. "Did she have the facial features of her mother's people, your wife?" Sketching away.

That was the first question on his mind, how old, they wouldn't be looking for an infant. He gave a low whistle. That old, a little surprised there. Glance was back around to study Xander in that long concerned way. A long time to let something like that go. A long time to have such eat at you but he said none of his thoughts. Just a slow nod was given. "We can hope any of these names can be tracked down." This would be a tough case for how cold the trail would be.

It was easy to see how it had affected Xan. She looked at Clark, a brow lifting. Now that was interesting. Curious, she slid off the stool and wandered over to where Clark was sitting, both to look at the list of names and to see what he was doodling.

"Black, like a raven's wing." He glanced at Jacob then back to his partner. "And yes, high cheek bones, dusky skin. Light blue eyes, like her father.  I know it will be, Jacob, and of course, I'll pay all expenses, as well as your fee."

Blue? Clark touched his tongue to a knuckle and smudged an area of his drawing, lightening up the color of the eyes. What Mercy would find when she looked was the sketch of a young woman, about 18 years of age, high cheek bones, hair of lead-heavy black. "Did the two of you ever discuss what you might name her? If she was a girl. Which, of course, we're thinking she was." Because, really, by a cry, how would they know for sure? A father's intuition was all they had to go on?  The whole time he kept up the motion of hand, drawing, making notes off of the sketch with lines to point to the areas where questions might need answering.

"I'm only sure about the partner, Stuart Martinique. I don't even know if Jean-Pierre is still alive. Gabrielle was the name we had decided on for a girl."

Hold on, why did Clark think it was a girl. His hand stopped ... instantly. He flipped the page and then began the same process creating what a lad of 18 might look like.

Jacob was around to watch the sketch Clark worked on. "She was stunning." Mumbled under his breath and very impressed with the talent Clark was exhibiting.

"The brother." Clark spoke to himself, and also flipped back a couple of pages to underscore the brother's name. "And a boy, Xander...what name for a lad if you would be so kind." He drew a circle above the sketch he worked on in order to add a name there.

Date: 03-30-06
Poster: Clark Davis
Post # 5

"We had discussed several names for a boy. She wanted to name him Alexander after me. I favored Gage." He frowned slightly as he looked down at his coffee. Yes, Chantal had been stunning, but he need not answer Jacob's comment.  "I had wondered on and off about the cries I heard, but it seemed to have become stronger since my return home. I need to know the truth." Not only so he wouldn't have some stranger claiming to be his blood coming from nowhere, but for his own peace of mind.

Back two pages again with the shuffling of them and the name of the partner was scribbled in.

"Was there a midwife or doctor who was going to help your wife?" Mercy looked up from the sketches.

Ooooo, good one, Mercy! Stillness, anticipation.

"One of the names listed. Onatah. She was a woman from her mother's tribe. Young woman too, so it's possible she's still alive. She lived in Port Royal with her husband. Englishman named David Winston."

"What was the ranking or position your wife, or her father, hold in the tribe?" That could have some bearing.

Clark glanced up to Mercy to see if she was going to be using that list and, when she made no move for it, he leaned forward and claimed it. A circle was made around the name, Onatah. Then beside her name Clark etched in David Winston. The page was tucked between the empty lower pages of his pad. For now. Available as needed. But Jacob's question had him plucking out the list again, ready to add more notes to it.

"Her grandfather was a war chief. Hadawa'ko was his name. I wrote it down as well as her mother's name -- Sheauga. She took the name Rosemary when she married Arber."

Noted. "And, while you're thinking of that, think of this. How well you knew your wife's family. And ... if, in fact, the child was taken, who do you feel may have had a hand in it. Hmmm?" He was using the pencil to scratch along his chin in thought. Shame that he was using the lead end. His beard was only thickened in appearance by the additional dark marks there.

"Arber was ill at the same time. Jean-Pierre was sixteen. There was a half-brother of Arber, but he had disappeared some years earlier. I never met any of Rosemary's family. She had been dead for about ten years before I met Arber. He said the clan traveled, and he had lost touch." Which now that Xan thought of it, was odd in itself.

A lift of pencil was used as an Ahha! Although, only Clark might know what had brought on that ahha moment. If...even Clark knew.  He just scratched some more notes. Could Mercy read his writing?

"There are strong beliefs in certain Indian tribes set by their Shamans that can have ones meddling in the course of lives they feel is their right according to a vision."

Some, though most of it was hard to read. She was more trying to keep from laughing at the addition to his beard, while committing most of what was being said to memory.

Quite becoming, dashing ... debonair.

Oh yes, all of those.

Claire breezed into the room, in a flutter of ivory, skirts, hemmed in a hunter green. Buttoned jacket of the same hunter green, beaded in tiny seed pearls and the like, was fitted comfortable over an Ivory blouse. Hazel eyes peeked under a fringe of dark lashes at the man ahead of her, walking with the staff. A dark brow arched but she was utterly silent, that is, until she caught sight of the group and then, her beloved Alex. A saucy wink tossed in his direction before the cloak she wore was swirling off and promptly hung on a peg. She turned a heel to greet them. "Good afternoon, everyone."

Wow. Nice tatt there. The pages were moved from the way with a flip of Clark's wrist and he made a little sketch of that spider on the harder surface of the back cover. Back to the topic. "So, what you're mulling over, Jay, is that maybe the child was taken...because of a Shaman's vision for possession?"

"Jean-Pierre had an interest in the people of his mother. It was his hope when he was older, to find them. I don't know if Onatah was still in touch with her clan or not." He shrugged slightly, then brought the mug up for a drink, watching the two who entered, then Claire.

"Something along those lines..." Something to consider before he was distracted to the lass coming in. "Evening." Closer to at this point and a smile indeed was added. And in turn the males behind her. At first he wondered if they were with the woman. "Evening and welcome."

Clark hailed a greeting to the two cloaked ones with a tip of his pencil in their direction. Then a smile was added for Claire. He thought through Jacob's hypothesis with a slow nod of head, which continued, while he made note of that too in his notepad. "Looks like a trip to Fort Royal is upon us. You like to sail, Mercy?" He cut a look up to the woman, knowing full well the last she was on a ship ...

"Hello Claire." He lowered the cup and smiled. "Have you met Jacob, Mercy and Clark?" Motioning to each.

"Wont have to go as a cabin boy this time." Like that was encouraging as a grin turned full force upon Mercy.

"Yes, I do." She cut a glance toward Jacob, and wrinkled her nose at him. "When I can go as myself."

"Xander, will you be coming as well?" He'd let Diane know to make the arrangements.  He slowly came to his feet, flipping the cover of the pad over his work and then he used the table to support the pages as he once more tucked the names within them.  Not at all caring what the two spoke of, Clark prepared to head off to the office to make those arrangements for arrangements to be made.

"Indeed, I have Xander. Thank you." She flashed them a wide smile before pausing to accept the mug of tea from Alex. She thanked him softly before turning back, attention focused on them. She was just about to ask how everyone was when something struck her and the words died on her lips as they continued with whatever they were doing. Claire winked back and hid her smile behind the tea mug.

He smiled at Claire then turned to Clark and nodded. "I think so. I was going to offer the use of one of my ships to carry you there." He rubbed at his chin thoughtfully. "The ice should be breaking up if there was any."

"I think one of Shawnesey's ships will be the ticket this trip. He still sails them to the colonies for trading that was set up those many years ago." Claire got a wink, his way of saying hello being they were in conversation.

"Then, no one will be suspecting if one of the McDonough ships arrive. Good idea, Jacob." Intrigue always worked for Clark.

"That's even better." Xan chuckled and looked at Claire, also giving a wink. They were nearly done with their business.

Mercy was going over what to take. It sounded as if they'd be doing some traveling in the wilderness.

"I will, personally, approach this Shawnesey. Four for Fort Royal. Consider it done." He nodded off his farewells to his partners and Xan. Then, it was time to twitch a brow at Claire and grin.

All this winking! It was enough to make one grow blind. Well, not really, and that thought had her stamping down laughter. She grinned at Xander and then to Clark before removing herself from her place at the bar and assuming a position, standing by one of them.

They might consider dressing her as a squaw. Jacob was looking her over with that thought as if seeing her thus attired.

No winking for Clark but costumes were always good. He threw up a hand and headed for the door.  He stopped dead in his tracks, back stepped those few he had taken, and retrieved his pad. A lopsided grin for Mercy and then, he was on his way to the door again.

She didn't speak Iroquois! She grinned at Clark and waved. Good thing he remembered the pad, she might have snooped!

Jacob had a few closets full. He would make sure any and all such attire was brought along with checking out the trading posts and the taverns in the locales they ended up. Best place for information to flow. He was in Clark's wake with a few things to discuss.

Wait a minute!  If they had things to discuss, Mercy was going to be in on it. She downed her remaining coffee, bid both Xan and Claire good-bye and hurried after her partners -- so they wouldn't do any plotting!



Date: 05-26-06
Poster: Jacob Anderson
Post # 6

The Dare Devil

The voyage across the ocean was without major incident. The crew went about their business, not grumbling in the presence of the three about a female on board, the Captain was pleasant, and the weather cooperated, for the most part, though a day out, they ran into a small squall. No damage done, and by the evening of the next day, Magpie, was safely docked at the harbor of Port Royal. Since the Port and lands were held by France, there were the usual questions, though, again, there were no problems, proving once again that Joseph McDonough had many contacts. The Captain recommended the Boar and Hammer Inn as the place for them to stay. Run by an Englishwoman named Lucille Smythe, they'd have no problems. The town itself was full of people from different lands, as well as Natives. The three would draw little attention. Mercy had chosen to wear a gown of dark blue, modest at the neckline, and with full skirts. She was trying to draw as little attention as possible to herself, nearly an impossible task with that blonde hair.

Mercy would hear low by her ear. "When out in the wilds you're going to dress like a lad if you want to come." Dark eyes were constantly shifting giving a nod where eye contact was made be it white or native as all were equal to him. He was attired in nondescript or so he would label his attire. Dark pants, boots, shirt all under a lightweight dark grey cloak. His duffel bag swung over a shoulder with his need of change. "Although I like how you look in the skirt." Steps slowed as brows dipped and there seemed to be an argument growing between a native and one ornery soldier type.

Clark departed the ship not far behind Jay and Mercy. His duffel, weighted down with journals and notebooks, bumped and banged against the rope that kept the passengers on the wooden planks and out of the murky waters. He'd cut a look over his shoulder, offer an apology to the person behind, but continue on - bump, bump, shift sides, bump, bump, look back and apologize. As Jacob spoke quietly to Mercy. Clark re-acquainted himself with the port. If he wasn't mistaken, the Boar and Hammer was to the right. Wait. Left. Wait. Hmmm. He paused just to the side of his traveling companions. A heft of sack to reposition the weight, then a squint in both directions. He'd just stand until one of the others set them off in the correct direction. From there, he'd have his bearings. Right. Yes. From there he'd know where to go.

Mercy was carrying her own duffel, and somehow managing not to do the same as Clark. Though as with any port, it was quite crowded. The First Mate pointed out the direction of the Inn, while warning them to stay away from another part of the docks. Left was the direction of the Inn, right where they shouldn't go, at least not with Mercy dressed as she was. She glanced at the ones who seemed to be arguing, giving a shake of her head. "Seems things are the same everywhere." A woman came over to Clark, with a sway of her hips and a flutter of lashes, and offered him a good time. Another eyed Jacob but saw Mercy with him and turned away. Clark should catch up!

The Indian man was older and had the mark of the bear on his arm. The other man took a swing but the brave ducked out of his way. Jacob took a step in that direction. Hand coming to the hilt of his dagger and when the one in a tattered soldier's coat pulled out a flintlock, Jacob's dagger went flying to knock it out of the man's hand. It would have been an unfair fight. He was already on the run the short distance. The man went to pick up the gun again even with his hand bleeding, the brave stood there staring the man down and not trying to defend himself. When the battered soldier saw Jacob he stumbled back catching his steps then turned and ran. Jacob picked up his knife and the gun as he turned to the brave, eyes met and held. No words needed as he threw the gun in the trough before he was around to join back up with Marcy. On the way he noticed the woman about to solicit Clark and a pent up burst of adrenaline came in a good laugh.

Left. Yes. He knew right was not correct. Left it was. He searched the crowds to find that Mercy and Jacob were heading in that direction, but a woman stood between him and progress. What? Huh? The din of the docks, at first, made her offer difficult to hear. Clark pushed around her with a light pat on her head. If you can't understand a stranger, at least let them know you appreciate their friendly approach. Everything was good. Yes, yes. Thanks for the welcome. He planned to have a good time - doing that which he enjoyed most. Seeking out information. He left the woman blinking behind him with her hands on those well-shaped hips. Who could really get mad at a man such as Clark? Oblivious yet ... soaking it all in. He smiled, and nodded, and offered over greetings to any he passed, apologies to those who were in the path of his duffel when he'd turn to extend any of the previous. That Jacob was stepping in, standing up, settling down a situation may not have even been noticed by the newest addition to the team. Clark Davis was busy making mental notes so that he could make ink-scribbled ones later.

Mercy watched Jacob with concern then relief. She waited until he joined her while trying to find Clark, then she blinked when Jacob laughed. She hadn't seen the woman so they'd have to explain that later. She studied the brave for a long moment before looking away, not wanting to be rude. Now she'd wait for Jacob to lead them to the inn while making sure Clark didn't get too distracted.

"Did you at least get her name?" Called out to Clark as with their pausing, he was able to catch up. The brave was long gone and the soldier back out looking for his flintlock. "I think we should continue on." Now that Jacob was with two others the man didn't seem to recognize him or hadn't bothered to look. Once started on their way, as the Inn's sign could be seen swinging over the board walk, he made mention to the two. "The older brave had the mark of the bear tattooed on his arm."

"No." Clark was grinning, joining them so that they could continue on. "But I gave her yours." There was, perhaps, more to Clark than most thought. He looked toward where the brave had hurried away. Bear. Arm. Got it. Not just the tattoo on his arm, but the native had a scar just above his left eyebrow. "Ah, here we are. I'll check us in."

Now Mercy laughed and looked at Jacob to see how he took that bit of news. While they walked, she took note of people who passed by, looking if any took more than a passing interest in the three. The Inn was well kept, the outside painted white, the trim dark. Middle and upper class seemed to make up the clientele. They passed three women, a mother and daughter and maid, who stuck their noses in the air at the three. Mercy made a face after they passed.

That got a good laugh as the retort followed once letting it free. "Good, I can make sure to keep all valuables locked up and practice being a phantom." He was up to follow Clark into the Inn as he would drop off his bag here in the room provided. "Shall we freshen up then head out to the seedier side of town? Can you pass for at least nineteen as a lad, Mercy?" While Clark gave the names he collected his key once his name was checked in. Jacob didn't even notice the three women.

Clark gave their names, provided Joseph's voucher of payment, then started for the stairs that would lead to his room. "Sure she can, Jay." Though, it was meant as nothing more than a compliment for Mercy's talents at disguise, it could also be taken as an insult by the woman. Although, this was Clark - and he continued on up the stairs, ricocheting off the wall whenever his steps brought his duffel too close to that solid barrier. He needed to put to paper all that he had taken in from dock to dwelling. Freshen up as Jacob had instructed. Then prepare his own disguise for their journey into the less desirable parts of this place.

"Aye, I can." She had makeup in the smaller bag she carried and might surprise the two when she emerged from her room. She wasn't insulted in the least by Clark's statement, just flashed him a grin. She headed up the steps in  front of Clark to avoid being bumped even once by that duffel. Likely would knock her down the stairs. "See you both soon." She gave them each a wave before unlocking her door and heading inside. The room was absolutely heaven after being on board a ship for so long.

"Half past the hour." Which would give them plenty of time including Clark to write his thoughts down. He would soak then put on the attire of plain clothing. Worn looking but clean for here. Some of the places in the wilderness he would go smelling ripe for that would be expected or give them away as outsiders. Pants had a few extra mendings, shirt a button or two missing, cloak was in one piece as usually that was the most prized article. Once he was ready he awaited them down in the lobby, enjoying a cigarillo as he watched ones come in and out.

Drawings and markings, words and numbers all found their way to his journal then he spent the remainder of what little time remained washing the sea-salt from his body and his hair, and then preparing. When he emerged below his facial hair was added to, providing him a full beard, a red and black flannel shirt over a faded blue tee. There was even a scar which snaked from the hairline at this throat down into the collar of his shirt. A small club, the right size to tuck into the side of his pants, provided what might be conceived as a weapon. Ah, but Clark was good at disguising more than just his person. Within that club was a rolled up piece of parchment and a leaded piece of wood for writing. He swaggered his steps on over to Jacob and pulled out a chair, dropping without ceremony, sprawled of leg, into it. A thin shard of wood was tucked between his teeth and he talked beyond it. "Waiting for the lad?" He glanced to the steps. "For all the delay, you'd think him more feminine." A huge grin, teeth clamping down on that wooden pick, and he, like Jacob, waited.

The 'lad' came down the stairs in a clattering run, looking about for his mates. Mercy's blonde hair had been changed to a mousy brown, her brows thicker, and there even seemed to be a bit of peach fuzz on her chin. Facial putty had widened her nose and made her chin less pointed. With coloring added to make her more tan, one would be hard pressed to tell she was female. The clothes she wore were padded to make her shoulders wider, her curves less noticeable, and even her hands looked rougher, dirty under nails and all. The clothing was all in browns, and slightly big as if they were hand me downs. With a swagger, she joined the two, and grinned. "Ready when you are." There were few patrons in the common room but those seemed uninterested in the trio, though the keep looked a bit confused.

"Indeed," retorted to Clark as he admired his disguised. Stetson shadowed his features some but as they got close they would notice the warrior type braids in his hair along with a  moustache and goatee. A scar touched to the height of his left cheek. He had the look of a scout which by skills he was good at tracking. One thing Branan Cairns had exploited every chance he got. A lifetime ago. At first he didn't recognize her as the pass of the last bit of smoke trailed around and up over his head. The butt was crushed out in a receptacle for that very use. A double take as he straightened. "There you are Marcus. I'm so glad you could catch up." Making it sound like the lad was not even staying here. The night watch only gave them a passing glance being they seemed to be leaving and not recognizing them. "No time like the present." A nod as the game was afoot and he headed out the main doors, purposeful stride on this one as a man intent on any business he got into.

Marcus? Who was Marcus? A frown marked Clark's brow and he slanted a look in the lad's direction. How did Jay know someone here? Then his eyes narrowed, and Clark tilted toward the youth. Hold on here. "Mer....arcus?" And Clark thought he was good at disguise. Impressive, that. He jumped to his feet, ready to head out. Ready to start the evening. Ready to get to the nitty-gritty of what they did best. Blending fledge out. This was what it was all about!


Mercy wore a wide brimmed hat to help in the disguise, and she pulled it on as they headed down the street.  It was adjusted to shadow her face, adding to the disguise.  Tucked away in boot, and belt were daggers.  She said little as they walked, instead noting directions, landmarks and a few of the ones who seemed to take note of strangers.  One man she did notice had been watching the fight earlier. He was squinting in their direction so she hoped he was merely unable to see them well.  Shoving her hands into her pockets, she glanced at her two companions.

Jacob couldn't help it and the conversation was one Mercy would need to get use to. A cigar of Cuban blend was taken out and lit as they headed for the tavern aptly named The Dare Devil. Match flared to life then flicked away in a puff of smoke that was angled right at her as he turned his head with the question. "So, Marcus, have you bedded any wenches lately?"

Clark's fingers tapped out the rhythm to an unheard melody on that wooden club.  Once or twice he turned full circle to take everything in.  Were they in danger?  That would be up to Mercy and Jacob to decide, the third partner of this party was just scanning and tucking away to memory. Except, he had already forgotten the information regarding Marcus.  Marcus?  He turned to look to his companions to see who else had joined them.  OH! Marcus.  That's right.  MercyMarcus.  "He's not bedded any lasses.  He's still too busy tucking himself away in shadowy niches to practice for when he gets brave enough to test his skill."  An apologetic smile tugged at his lips when he looked to MercyMarcus, and then he had to look away before she any way.

"Marcus' opened his mouth to react then turned to stare at Clark from beneath the brim of his hat. "Have too.  Ye've jus' been too busy wi' yer books to notice." His walk became a bit of a swagger. "Why ye thin' I've been practicin' so much in Ol' man Rogers barn."  Did that suffice for the disguise.  The tavern wasn't far ahead and she needed to keep up that act. And she would!

"Goats don't count, Marcus."  Was the quick reply before he even thought his words through.

"But sheep do."

"Aye, sheep do.  I'll give him that then."  Clark slapped a hand to Mercy's shoulder, and since he didn't give much never-mind to his actions, perhaps with a bit more force than what was needed.  All in the show though.  All in the show.

"Just cause ye two old men can't git it up anymore, doesn't mean I use sheep or ... " The last was cut off with the slap to her shoulder. 

It just went all wrong there when she added Ol' man Rogers barn. "Marcus we'll find you a brothel and have them fix it all up for you right. Even if it's all dented and bent from being in Ol' man Roger's barn." And the smile couldn't be help. They could prey Mercy didn't get into any man talk! Otherwise the sea captains will be whisking her off. "Ah, here we are." Barely the words out and a man came flying out, held by one HUGE male that had him by the scruff of his neck and band of his britches. One, two, sway and sail. Dust puffed up in a cloud around the one that splatted on the ground.

"Nothing like a mouthful of dirt to wash down an over abundance of alcohol."  Clark cleared his throat and, along with his disguised companions, stepped around the man sprawled on the ground.

Bah. They just liked having fun at her expense.  But she really didn't mind.  She didn't have a retort and anything she could have said was lost when the man came sailing in their direction.  Just a lift of a brow and a bit of a smirk appeared as she followed Clark.   The man on the ground wasn't moving too well, so maybe he had a bit too much. Or it could be from the shaking the bruiser had given him.

He was heading up the steps and inward. One female came sauntering by to take a grab at Marcus' crotch, whispering sweet nothings and how she could make a man of him for a few coins. That much Jacob caught and caught the woman up by her arm to draw her away from Mercy. "I think maybe after he has a few drinks he will be ready for you." Smile was a warning and she intoxicated as she pouted. He angled her away to another man passing who she latched onto. He grumbled something about certain kinds liking to corrupt like it gave them some power or purpose. Place was crowded as he started to shove his way through but keeping close to both. "Spot an empty table, grab it."

"Got it!"  Since Clark was especially good at looking around, he had already eyed a vacated table and so, started plowing a path in that direction.  "Watch it, step aside, coming through, move your little arse along." And on and on until he stood, triumphant at the table. 

It was a good thing that Marcus had something for the woman to ... grab!  She stammered a bit, getting red from the neck up, and ducking her head as Jacob pulled the woman away.   It was with a good bit of relief that she followed Clark to the table then looked at Jacob, a half grin appearing. "Mighta caught somethin' from that one." 

That's when another man pushed, or try to, Clark out of the way. "This is our table, we saw it first." Thinking that he was alone. The man had a knife that he shoved into the wood right by Clark's hand as another one came up to join his buddy. He was grinning showing off the few teeth left and one that was silver. Couldn't afford a gold but he acted like he had that million dollar grin. Jacob nudged Mercy, and foregoing the serving wench that block their way in holding them up in reaching Clark.

Clark tipped toward the side with that shove but he gained his footing, his gaze slowly lifting from the knife to the man.  Now, there was the opportunity to dispute the man's claim with a 'how can you see anything?' and poke the intruder in both eyes and take out a knee but ... there was still his friend there to contend with.  Clark gently removed his hand from the too-close blade of that weapon, squinting an eye toward the foul breathed miscreant.  "Think so?"  He scratched just below his eye where that fake beard tickled.  "I'd wager you're right. Want to wager? If I'm right, then the table is ours."  The large man jerked that blade free, eyeing Clark a moment before grunting out his reply of "Aye, if you're right, the table is yours."  The investigator smiled, not too much, lest he lose some of his own teeth and asked, "Did you see this table first?"  His buddy roared out in the man's stead. "He did!" "He did!"  Clark repeated, with a firm nod, lifting a hand and slapping the stout shoulder of the stranger.  "That means you're right, and since I wagered you were right, that means, I win the wager.  Which also means, the table is ours."  And he was quick to add as he pulled out a chair.  "But that wench over yonder is eyeing yooooou, this table is too far away from the action anyway."  Stunned, attempting to make sense of how it was that he was right and had lost the table because of it, the stranger scrubbed at the back of his head, turning as he did to look toward the woman Clark was talking about.  Rather than look more the fool for not understanding, or not catching on, or not seeing the female that Clark mentioned or ... just not wanting to look a fool period for all those things, he grumbled under his breath and pounded a meaty fist to his friend's chest.  "This table is too far way from the action."  As if that was his idea, and he was all the more proud because of it.  Davis just grinned, lifted a hand, and waved MercyMarcus and Jacob on over.  The table, for now, was their's... 

Mercy stepped around the serving wench when Jacob nudged her and watched Clark then glanced at Jacob.  She started in that direction, but by then the two men were gone and Clark was grinning. "Don't know what you did, but you did it damn good."  She kept up the act, but it was a bit harder for the laughter that wanted to escape.  Glancing around, she took one of the seats, turning her chair so she could watch most of the room. She was counting on the others to watch her back, and she'd watch theirs.

"Making friends already?" Of course Jacob would say that with a grin. The bar wench grabbed as she went to pass him, literally of a rounded backside which certainly caught her attention. When she turned seeing his face that retort turned into a smile instead. "What can I git ye handsome gents?" Eyeing each in turn but sidling up closer to Jacob. "Three tankards and a bowl of mix." Which would be this and that of whatever the tavern offered in eats. He placed the coins on her tray while leaning in close with a few words and a squeeze of her asset still in his hand before released. Once the transaction was done he took up a seat with his comrades.

Clark pulled a chair around so that he was straddling the back, his arms braced on the top.  "Thing is, there is no argument when everyone agrees."  He had learned that at an early age with older brothers to manipulate.  Clark  scanned the room, taking a moment to watch Jacob place their order, then back to scanning.  Who were they looking for again?  He might have to pull out his notes to check.  Just to make sure, of course. 

Mercy hadn't seen Jacob's tactic with the bar wench.  She was too busy trying to study faces.  There were a couple of natives in here which surprised her, being that she had heard of the prejudices many had against them.  Apparently if they had coin, they could buy drink.  The crowd made it hard for her to see them well.  She looked up at Jacob as he joined them, then grimaced slightly.  It would have been nicer to be a bit taller but then again, she could slip through the crowd quickly if it became necessary.

He was down in a comfortable sprawl and this secretive type grin plastered over his features. The serving wench was back in record time first to place a bowl of bread, cheeses, nuts, dates and some cured ham to the center of the table. It would have her leaning over even more and certainly ample bosom to expose right towards Clark's view for the angle. Next the tankards were set, Mercy, Clark as she sauntered very close in a rub along his shoulder and arm while placing it but when she got to Jacob, her lips were very close to his ear seductively as she reached around setting the tankard. Nice view offered him as a coin was discreetly slip there in the valley so deep. She straightened then before sauntering off again. Jacob tossed a look between the two. "Ten little Indians." Like the child's rhyme. With his eyes he cast a glance first over a  few tables. "Two, Then with a scratch to his jaw and a thumb indicating behind. "Five." A discreet look to his left across the way. "Three." Then he took up his tankard.

 It was too bad that Clark was concentrating so hard on the faces in the room.  He completely missed the fact that an ample supply of flesh was exposed to him or that she even rubbed against his arm.  It was just contact, you know, and the place was crowded.  What kind of counting was that?  Ten, two, five, three.  It was code!  It must be!  Hey! He didn't know that code!  Even though he followed Jacob's gaze, saw the natives, it still didn't click.  Yet. He forced himself to remember his nursery rhymes.  Ten Little Indians.  Okay.  "Hickory, Dickory, Dock."  There you go, Jay.  Clark slid his gaze to Mercy-er-Marcus.  A lift of brows followed.  Her turn! 

Mercy nodded then blinked and stared at Clark.  Across the room, one loud woman complained about her man not paying attention and sent him and his chair flying.  Mercy's couldn't stop the grin as she answered Clark. "Humpty Dumpty had a great fall."  Cinnamon colored eyes then drifted back to Jacob. "I saw Two. One with markings on his face." But whether he was Bear or Turtle, or any of the other clans, she didn't know.  The couple were now screaming at one another, arms flailing.  A mug was sent flying ...  in their direction!  Mercy was ready to duck, were the men?

Jacob ducked as it went flying by, more a lean to the side as he grabbed a chunk of bread and a wedged of cheese. "The cluster of five bear the markings of the claw. It seems they are the more predominant tribe here but the other two are competitions. Clan of the horse are of the two, they wish peaceful relations but the clan of the rattlesnake, there is something wrong, matters and bad blood want the blood of the bear spilled."

Clark didn't duck, although the tankard sailed close by, it wasn't close enough to cause the man to flinch.  Or maybe he just didn't see it coming!  With each mention of tribal names, Clark's eyes darted about.  Old McDonald had a Farm, Eee-eye-eee-ey Ohboyohboyheneededhisnotes.  "It's the Bear we need though." And he nodded toward the Five Little Indians that were, by no means, little!

"We'll have to be careful then if the clan of the puma want blood.   We don't need to get caught in a war."  She glanced at the men of the Bear clan who seemed to be ignoring everything, even the arguing couple who were being escorted out.  Brushing some of the spilled ale from a sleeve, she looked over at the ones who wanted blood. They were not ignoring the men of the bear.



Date: 05-28-06
Poster: Matoskah McDonough
Post # 7

The Twins

Matoskah and Yaskitchi, White Bear and Snow Brave, had grown up as one of the tribe not knowing anything different. Both their parents had died after they were born. This is what was told to them and accepted so long ago it didn't occur to them to ask questions when they got older. They were told their father had been white for that was why they had the dark blue eyes. The sign of twins was a good omen for the Clan of the Bear and a curse amongst other tribes. The clan's Shaman, Milap, said to keep them with their tribe for they would bring them honor when they came of age and the foreseen tribal wars.  It was Milap that adopted them as his sons for his wife had been barren. It was the Great Spirit that deemed it should be this way and he would not go against such wishes. They had earned names for their antics in growing up such as the blue eyed Tsvsgino. They had warrior blood in them, not only of the tribal but those of Celts and Vikings. The latter not know but the former they took pride in. They were emerging braves, ones to be reckoned with for their skills. The use of the bow and arrow, the spear, knife and most of all, riding. These were the norm for the braves but along with these to excel in, they were being guided under Shaman ways. It was three days before their eighteenth year they were to make the journey to Bear Head mountain. One that had two peaks like ears and the way the terrain formed shaped a bear's head. Usually a fledgling to become Shaman went on his own to one of the peaks but this time, there would be two. One to each and alone and yet not. They were to fast for three days, nothing to eat and only water to drink. On the third night after setting up the small fire within a ring of stones, they were to strip down naked, paint their bodies symbolically and sit on a buffalo pelt. A pipe was given each and as the sun neared the horizon, when it streaked orange and red, they were to smoke the special blend of hemp and herbs to open up their mind for any visions.

The twins took the journey seriously for not only did it mark the beginning of their becoming Shaman, but their birthday meant they were fully into manhood. They had worked well together from their first days of hunting. Even as young boys, their play would often stumped their playmates. The nickname earned was in part for how silently they moved, how quickly they came upon their prey, and in time, their enemies. Yas had finished packing what gear he would take. Bow and arrows left behind, they were to only take their knives for protection. When they returned to the tribe after their fasting, there would be a feast to ease their hunger. He sought out his twin when he was finished. Only White Bear would know of his brother's feelings, excitement, fear and a thousand other emotions. To everyone else, the two braves would seem calm and collected.   He took a deep breath before turning to seek out his brother and father.

White Bear finished packing his gear. He was excited more than any other point in his life. The time he earned his first bow, spear and weapons and even the time he got to touch a live bear now had this event to take place overshadow them. Milap was there to see them off, few words needed but his hands were marking them to keep them safe. "You will find your totem in three days to mark your journey from child to man and to stay with you until your dying days. Heed well the animal spirit that comes to you for it will be through them that visions and warnings will be foretold." Milap stood outside their tent and indicated the two newly constructed tents being erected right next to each other this day. "When you return, you will live in your own dwelling and eventually take a wife to start a family. Within the year you should choose a woman." So part of their life was being laid out for them in expectations. This was not uncommon. The two had nudged each other more than once on this squaw or that one. One a fine worker and cook and another for their beauty, but none had really caught their eye as material for a wife. White Bear returned a fisted hand to his chest as he spoke their language smoothly. "I go as your child, I return as a man in your honor. May I continue to shine." Waiting for his twin to speak then both would head up to the mountain on foot then separate once midway, one to the right and one to the left of a distance of exactly five miles apart.

Snow Brave's eyes were on the face of their father as he spoke. They had watched others go out to seek their guide and some did not return. He and his twin would. "I leave as a child. I will return a man to bring honor to your name, and I thank you for your guidance."  He touched his fist to his chest as he spoke, just as White Bear had. The Clan had many traditions and the twins has learned them well.  They would be apart for the first time in their lives, and yet, they would still be in touch. It had always been so. He turned away from Milap and without a word, started for the path that would lead them to the mountain. Once they were out of the village, both would jog the rest of the way. 

There was the tradition of silence, as far as speaking unless to their Totem if it was wished. The journey would take them half a day and their fasting had started of that morning. The two indicated certain things as they went. An eagle soaring overhead, a flock of geese, grouse that flew when moving through a field being startled and deer in the distance watching them with apprehension. He bid his brother farewell when they reached the point of separation by clasping his shoulder. Eyes were intense that met their equal before abruptly turning around and heading towards the right peak without looking back. He would face the East while his brother would face the West. North and South by the extension of their arms out so that all points were covered. The morning of the third he was already feeling strange for lack of food but he was driven. He took the time to strip, cleanse his body then paint it in symbols with meaning. Wisdom. Power. Success. Health, Knowledge and so on. he sat cross legged as he waited for the sunset. His heart pounding by the time it met the horizon and he lit up the pipe given to inhale. The whole of the bowl packed would be smoked completely until it was ashes. These then would be sprinkled into the wind, invoking the visions and his totem to appear. He sat then with a hum under his breath and arms outstretched invoking all four corners.

He felt more alive on this day than any other he could remember. The animals were studied, the sky noted, signs of the weather taken into account, though it would not change the ritual. He turned as White Bear did, clasping his brother's shoulder at nearly the same time. That brief, intense meeting of their eyes passed quickly and he turned toward the left path. As the third day came, he was feeling the effects, but like his brother, Snow Brave was driven. Stripping down, he cleansed his body, then painted it carefully with the symbols they had learned. As he waited for the sunrise, he felt anticipation rising. The pipe lit, he began to smoke, inhaling fully before exhaling. Each movement by the twins would be united though they could not see one another. He kept his eyes on the fire, emptying his mind of all thoughts that did not pertain to this ritual.

It would be that time between sunset and sunrise they would take their journey. At least for White Bear. The streaks of golds turned into reds that mesmerized him, forgetting where he was or even sat there in front of the low burning fire, one that was more smoke than fire. It was prepared that way and the sage burned purified the air and surroundings to make it pleasant for the spirit that chose him to come. The smoke seemed to thicken that rose fanning out in the slow drifts that swayed him with it. The sky had darkened casting grey against pitch. All blended in shadows shifting until the head of an Eagle manifested, eyes red like the streaks earlier in the sky. He would have bolted to his feet for the surprise before but his body was as an oak rooted into the ground steadfast. Wings spanned what seemed miles and he thought he would be consumed by them as deadly talons were shown. He was lifted up instead onto the Eagle's back and carried away in the drift of grey smoke. He could see the heavens above and the Earth below as he clung to its back. Faces emerged in a cloud like density, but they were not ones that he knew or ones expected.


They were white men's faces, ones with blue eyes like his, one with the shade of the sky and one of the shade of the earth's forests. He didn't understand why the colors of nature were being shown to him by the white man, something he did not consider himself to be even if told he had their blood too. ~Do not turn away from the side that lays buried or you will never be whole. You are one with your mother's people but you are of your father's also. The time is coming, your decision will make or break your destiny. You are a man now, a man may have to leave all he knows to find his path, the walk of a Shaman can be lonely more than not. Your enemy of another tribe gathers now to wage war. Harken, and warn, prepare for the battle. Success and Sorrow will mingle, these are the pains of life." The faces had changed to one of the tribes that had been their rival, that of the Snake. Like water moccassins they tangled together. The white man's faces fading into those but then they emerged again to overlap. White Bear was unsure of the meaning. Would the white man be helping the Snakes?" On the wing of manhood he found himself staring into the fire, seated on the buffalo hide. Had he flown? With a blink he found the Eagle's feather laying at his feet. He took it up and wound it into his braid. He knew his totem and the visions were as they were given. He wondered if Snow Brave would see more or the same.

He still sat before the fire, watching as it danced before him. Colors were hidden within its blaze, ones that could grow hypnotic. As the sky turned to blue, Snow Brave found himself starting into the amber eyes of a Wolf, larger than any he had ever seen. It seemed he held his breath as he waited for the animal to attack but it did not. Instead, he found himself growing fur, running on four legs beside the larger wolf. They did not touch the ground, but ran above. He could see the villages below, and then one of the great towns of the white man. Finally, he saw one of the great wooden ships with masts like trees. He saw faces of several, men and women, who were not of the Clan, not ones he knew and he felt his heart pound in fear. Images of war followed, and the warning came to him: He was half white and could not deny his heritage, war was coming. He and his brother would be tested further by all that was to come. As he returned to the now, he found the fire had nearly burned out. Where White Bear had found an eagle feather, he found a wolf's tooth, large enough to drill a hole through and wear around his neck. His stomach rumbled its hunger and he looked toward the East, wondering on his twin.

He could feel his back against his brother's like book ends pressed together at that moment. They had become men. He was hungry but he would not break the fast until morning as was part of their ritual. The event drained what little energy he had left as he fell into a deep sleep. He'd awake the next morning with a blanket over him that he somehow must have pulled there not remembering. The fire had burned out and it was the rays of the rising sun that reached out to warm him and bring him back to the physical world. He would rise, bathe from the ritual paint then have the food that was packed for this day, hard biscuits that were softened in a tea brew that was to give him his strength back. Once he was done, he would leave crumbs in offering and a small portion of the brew to be soaked into the ground. He packed his gear and headed out to meet his brother. They would confer on the way back what they had experienced and warn Milap. He could help them further or so they could hope.



Date: 06-15-06
Poster: Jacob Anderson
Post # 8


"We'll have to be careful then if the clan of the puma want blood. We don't need to get caught in a war." She glanced at the men of the Bear clan who seemed to be ignoring everything, even the arguing couple who were being escorted out. Brushing some of the spilled ale from a sleeve, she looked over at the ones who wanted blood. They were not ignoring the men of the bear.

Eyes narrowed in as he studied the clustered tribe of the bear. They might seem to be ignoring everything but Jacob could tell they were acutely aware of everything going on. He also noticed they were older ones, not any young bucks with them to get drunk and cause trouble. They were enjoying ale, this was noted as he noted the other two tribal representatives tonight were drinking whiskey. He heard something on that, the effect it had on their metabolism. He was stroking his chin before looking between the two. "Be prepared." Just had the right air for all hell to break loose. One of the five was the man he saw earlier. Once he looked Jacob's way then turned back to his comrades. They were speaking low.

Clark was always prepared, he was just not always ... ready. One of Clark's unshared talents was that he could read lips. But, that didn't help them much when the words being spoken made not one wit's bit of sense. Those other times he had come to this port, he had picked up on a few phrases. Where is the water closet? How much is that? I didn't mean to step on your heel. And other such necessary responses to what went on around him. What he was picking up from that look beneath his brow didn't match any of those he knew. To add to his frustration, those older men of the Bear barely moved their lips at all. "Are we to be involved in whatever transpires, Jay? 'Cause, if not, it might be best if we head out and on our way. With such a threat, the chances of us finding out anything is unlikely." They had better act fast for links and get the bloody blue blazes out of here, especially because of Mercy.

Mercy tipped her head slightly when Clark asked his question, then glanced toward the men drinking the whiskey. One of them was becoming loud, something not usual but it seemed his words were meant for the quieter ones of the Bear Clan. His comrades laughed at the comment, encouraging him to say more. "We may not have the chance to get out." Mercy said softly as she looked back to her companions. "It seems the insults have begun." The men of the Horse clan were watching, one snickering, but they didn't seem inclined to join in. The men of the Bear were talking, but it was hard to tell if they were reacting to the insults, or getting ready to leave. She had to admire the way they kept calm in the midst of all this.

Those with the markings of the puma were not just speaking in their native tongue but making gestures. It was the gestures along with the tone that had most clearing out of their way. Unfortunately where they sat, they were in the middle of what formed a triangle and if they tried to leave, they'd end up in a fight for being labeled cowards. There was much to say about coupe and keeping one's cool. "Choice has been made." His hand was already resting on his dagger and the only thing he did was discreetly adjust his seat for a better advantage to not have any behind his back. What was worse were some renegades that recently came in, whites that promoted the fight. They were understood for speaking English. "What? Big fierce braves, you're afraid of old women, these men past their prime. You still cling to your mother's titties." The one nudging his comrade while the rest of the small group snickering and adding in more comments. They had weapons handy but the braves didn't want bad medicine with the white here and they were after revenge.

Clark looked from one group to the next, muttering a "grand" with Jacob's and Mercy's evaluation of the situation. He brought his foot up to the bottom rung of his chair and his hand rested, what appeared to be, casually on the handle of the dagger extending from his boot. A look over to the Bear clan met one of the gazes directly. A steady regard by the older man before that native looked to the rowdy bunch of men. The bar tender had already started clearing off the counter in anticipation of a confrontation. If you weren't holding your drink, it disappeared from reach. The serving girls had gone from view, but still watched from the crack between swinging door and common room. "On your lead, Jay." He spoke the words but they were concealed from any others by a brief swipe of wrist against his lips.

Mercy's frowned slightly as the renegades started making things worse. She sifted slightly in the chair, seeming to lean back, but she was waiting. Her knives were hidden, but she'd have them out quick if needed. The one from the Puma who seemed to be the leader stood, palms flat on the table. He was nearly growling out whatever he was saying, his eyes on the eldest of the Bear Clan. The whites spat on the floor but stayed where they were, nearly blocking the door. Most of the patrons had begun to move back to the wall, though a few stayed right where they were. Some started making bets on who would draw first blood.

Jay's fingers itched to draw that knife, his words low to his comrades in comments as things progressed for a head's up. "It will be an insult," eyes shifting the while between the two groups but also watching that third unpredictable one. They could go either way while the others were predicable, "the renegades plan to help the group." He could tell by the mere fact the Pumas had not turned on them. There was honor in their ways. "This is planned." With this dawning he was up, drawing both blades and facing the whites "Stay out of it." In this he could because he knew by instincts this was going to end up in a fight. The move caused one thing -- surprise and the Bears were using it to their best advantage as they stood ready. "Why you son of a bitch." The leader of the renegades spat at Jay before charging their way, offsetting the pumas who would not have them to back them up. The bears started forward to be away from their table while the pumas started to back up. The men of the horse were watching Jay and his comrades closely, still they kept reserved but there was a minute nod.

When Jay bound to his feet, so did Clark, knocking his chair over with a loud 'bang'. As he pulled free his blade, the handle split apart and Davis had one weapon in each hand. One hand extended to point to a table of men that also surged up. His other blade swept in an extended circuit before his chest, to any who dared come nearer. Jacob could handle that one miscreant, Clark would make sure none of the spectators decided to become part of the folly. In the native tongue of the clans present, he called above the commotion. "There is no blood here tonight." Yes. One of the phrases he had learned, for obvious reasons, considering the source. Then in English, he continued. "Big energy needs large spaces...not this small hole." With a jerk of his head, he indicated the door. Either for the pumas or the bears or for anyone else that wanted to make good an exit.

Mercy was on her feet as quickly as her two companions, deadly-looking stilettos in her hands. She was dressed like a lad and couldn't sit there when her companions were ready to stand up to the bullies. She would watch Jay's back and help hold off any would be attackers. Apparently the man with the big mouth was the leader and usually others backed down. His companions stayed back, not willing to shed their blood when most ran from their leader's attack. Several onlookers took advantage of leaving ... not to watch or participate, they just wanted to get out. In the kitchen, the serving maids were all a flutter over the three strangers. Had Mercy heard, she might have let out a groan but she was too busy!

Jay had been in such situations before, like a game of chess he perceived the moves of each. The men of the bear clan nodded to the wise words of the unknown man and would take their battle to another place and left. Except, Jay knew the leader of the renegades had no choice but to save face and start the fight he came here to do. The man had an unexpected obstacle and that was Jay. His comrades had started to back away but when they saw their leader charge after Jay, they reverted and started back. If there was going to be a fight, they were getting in on it. Jay was quick not just sidestepping the man with his blade, a precise few inches ad he grabbed hold of his hair while turning to the side. The slit across his throat came in a flash of blade ending the man's life instantly, proving to all that these three were not only skilled but ones to be reckoned with. The man's own momentum took him out of the way, sprawled on the floor in a pool of his blood. Jay was already facing the others of his group who look on in shock finding the man ready for them. "Now, is there anyone else here that didn't hear my wise friend here?" They were shaking their heads, one was over to drag his comrade with them as they backed out of the tavern.  The three of the puma tribe marking them but heading out in another direction. The two of the horse remained. They had not been in on the fight so had no reason to leave, they headed for the table of Jay, Clark and Mercy, inviting themselves by drawing over two seats and sitting. The one motioned for them to do the same.


It all happened so quickly that, at first, Clark just stood with his mouth agape.  His body was tense and prepared for what may happen next but still, as the dead man tumbled to the floor he backstepped, barely catching his balance as he stumbled over the chair behind him.  To cover his clumsy reaction, he made a circuit in front of him with his blades.  He meant to do that afterall.  His heart pumped blood and adrenaline through his veins with a thunderous tattoo but that didn't keep him from hearing Jay's question.  Wise?  That was a first but who was he to argue?  There was a slain main on the boards of the tavern floor, natives seeking refuge, maids hiding in the kitchens, chaos of mass exodus, and Indians approaching them now with silent demands that Mercy, Jay and Clark join them at the table those three already claimed.  If Clark was keeping notes, he'd be exhausted at this point.

Mercy hadn't realized that Jay had taken care of the man completely until he fell to the ground. She stared at him a moment then started when Clark covered up his stumble.  Watching the natives, she twirled her blades once, twice, then placed them back in their sheaths.  Arms crossing over her chest, she lowered her chin slightly, shadowing her face even more.  After all, she was playing the suspicious teen and would continue to act like one.  While the dead man was dragged out, she watched the crowd for any of his friends who might stick around.  Jay was in charge. She'd follow his lead.

When the two approached from the Horse tribe he gestured with his hand, outward then across his chest before indicating the seats. He was welcoming them to their table as he took his seat and flagged one of the serving wenches to bring them all new tankards. The night calmed down after the high was hit and now as if it had never happened. The noise overall going back to the norm, another night in Port Royal. "I am Jay," indicating his companions, "Clark and Marcus." They eyed each, a grunt given over the lad as they seemed interested in him for some reason. The one spoke up. "Running Bear and Shadow Hawk. You are new. Fight well." The lass had returned to the table to set the tankards down. The younger one fussing around 'Marcus' then Clark in turn being Jay was conversing.

Not now.  Not now, blast it.  Clark swatted the air close to the extra-eager maid as if she were an annoying gnat, distracting and bothersome.  He was trying to listen to the conversation and make those mental notes to transfer to parchment later.  He couldn't do that with all that fussing about taking place close to him.

No, no, don't study the lad. Mercy leaned back in her chair, touching the brim of the hat when she was introduced as Marcus.  She snickered at Clark after the maid moved on to him, bringing a hand up to rub a knuckle along her chin.  "I think she likes you, Clark."  Voice kept low enough that just he heard.  She'd help him remember if he needed it.  Eyes turning back to the two, she studied them closely.  Sometimes you could tell a lot from body language but these two seemed expert at hiding it.

"We are one of three tribes in this area." Dark eyes shifted between the three. "White man came and changed things. Now there are those of our blood that have your blood." Almost accusingly. "Our ways are different from your ways and the mixture is not good medicine. Few are different but they have the spirits of the totem with them. You have these spirits about you. They are here," pointing between Clark and Mercy then between him and Jay. "and here, around you three. You are not like these others." Disdain marking his tone as he glanced over the tavern as a whole. "There is bad blood amongst us. The tribe of the puma has been swayed by whites here." The other remained quiet but he reached over to run his hand against the hat Mercy was wearing, liking it. "You come for reason, not of these white man reasons." His way of asking.

"Not only have we come for reasons not of these white men, but we've crossed the Great Water to get here."  Clark nodded as he spoke, glancing to Jacob for him to continue.

Mercy would have offered him the hat but she didn't have a wig on!  She glanced at Clark then spoke.  "How have those of the Puma been swayed?  They seem to keep to themselves."  She had a natural voice for mimic and hopefully sounded enough like a lad just asking questions.  The leader looked toward her a long moment again before speaking.  "They have long been blood brothers to some, and allowed their squaws to go off and mate with white men.  They weaken the blood with their devil brood."  She wasn't certain if she should push the questioning or not but that saucy maid was listening and Mercy spotted her expression before she turned away.

"These blood brothers, there are ones in your tribe or those of the two others?" Edging in that maybe they could pick up on something. "We are here looking for a man Jean-Pierre Vioget. Would you know of him? He was friends with some of the tribes."

"Not our tribe. Not from here."  There was disdain in the man's voice.  "Don't know this one you speak of."  He glanced at his companion then looked back.  "He may have a tribal name."  Mercy in the meantime nudged Clark to let him know that she was going that way.  It could have been to the privy but instead she made her way to where the serving maid was standing, talking to the tender.  After a few moments, she returned and sat down again.

Clark eased up to allow Mercy to pass, but he watched her as she made her way over to the bar area, even while he listened to the information provided by the native.  When she returned, both of his brows were raised in question, but he sat forward again so she could pass if she needed.  A quick look was provided to the tender and server, then over to Jay.  For now it seemed that the newest private investigator was just along for the ride.  But the man was soaking it all in...every bit of it.

She slid passed Clark and settled in her chair again, a smug look on her face. Her partners better worry.  The two men watched her then looked back to Jay since he seemed to be their leader.  "We will warn you one thing.  There is danger in the wild. The signs have shown danger comes, war perhaps, or something brought from far away.  Be wary, strangers." He picked up his drink and downed most of it.  It would be time for them to leave shortly.  He merely was waiting to see if anything else was asked or offered.

"Yes. We are aware and there are times changing." Jacob responded as Running Bear studied them then made an offer. "You come to our tribe as our guest and speak with the shaman if you want." This had Jacob raise a brow, they had made an impression. "We shall do this. Where can we find you?" He was not getting any bad vibes from the two even if they were cautious. Most white men would not go out to meet their Shaman. This he knew would win them coupe if they did. Running Bear looked around as if getting his compass directions and pointed, "You go that way for ten miles where the river breaks you follow the left up over the hill and we are along the banks past there."

Ten miles. River breaks. Left. Up the hill. Along the banks. Noted. Clark glanced to Mercy and, away, then instantly back again. What was that look? His attention paused there on her before he forced his mind back to the conversation. Wait, was that left or right? A river or...a creek? Left. That's what it was. A break in the river. Whew.

The two men were satisfied with that and stood. With a nod to all three, they turned and soon were gone. Mercy grinned at her partners then looked at the serving girl who was also grinning. "I found out that Miss Lucinda there knows where Jean-Pierre lives. However, there's a price before she'll tell." Cinnamon colored eyes were sparkling as she continued. "She says I'm too young to offer any protection, but if either of you big, strong men would walk her home, she'll tell." And if they didn't understand that walk meant more than just an escort home, they were in double trouble!

He watched the two leave. A proud nation and people not that they were all good or bad either. Same for any nation or breed. His thoughts on the door where the two had exited from before he whipped a look upon Mercy. He was quick to reply. "I'm sure Clark will see to her." Except they might then have to send out a search party when he never showed back home. Probably find him at the Indian camp he had the directions for floating around in his head.

"Sure!" Double Trouble should have been his middle names. Clark pushed up and nodded to his companions. He'd see the woman home and get the location of Jean-Pierre. He made sure to tuck away his blades and reached for his tankard and drained the contents. A glance over to Lucinda who appeared eager to be on their way. As eager as Clark was to get that information. "Shall I meet you back at the inn?" A swipe of his hand brushed away the condensation which had been on his tankard.

"Yes. I'll still be up. I think we should make some plans about our next moves once you get back with the information." IF he got back, didn't lose his way. One of the reasons he'd wait up or go looking for him.

"Be careful, Clark." Mercy added before looking at Jay. She'd stay awake too until they knew the man was safe, although with the looks he was getting, he might not be back until dawn. Of course she was still being a bit smug about having noticed the look, but she also knew that she'd likely be paying for it.

"I'm always careful." He winked to Mercy then headed off in Lucinda's direction. Careful he may always be. But safe...that was another matter completely.

Didn't Marcy remember when they arrived. After he left his words were low. "My bet is he gets the information, the woman doesn't get the extra but ends up at a loss for why it doesn't bother her."

Mercy remembered, yes. She listened then started laughing. "You got a bet. We can discuss the terms on the way back to the inn." She stood and glanced around. Things were much calmer, no one seemed ready to fight and it was a perfect time to get out of there. She was more than ready to get out of that disguise.

And Clark...didn't even remember he was in one.

Date: 06-27-06
Poster: Clark Davis
Post # 9

A man - A mission - A misunderstanding

Clark was on a mission.  That to obtain information from one, Lucinda-the barmaid.  Date, noted.  Location, noted.  Departure, noted.  Direction, noted.   The fact she walked rather closely to him, on occasion taking up his arm ...  noted, but discarded as not important.  He made no small talk for now just allowed her to lead him to her place of residence.   That was the deal, after all.   Escort...for information. 

Not only did she take up his arm, she finally slipped hers through his, somewhat possessively after one or two women propositioned him. She nearly hugged his arm as she looked up at him, dark eyes bright.  "I'm glad you agreed."  She smiled as she spoke. "Sometimes it's rough walking through here."  There was a hint of a French accent in her words.  As she held his arm so close, Clark would be able to get an eyeful of her ... assets. "You're a quiet man." 

Not only an eyeful, but an armful, considering her 'assets' were pressed up against the outside of his arm.  "I'm glad to walk you home, Lucinda.  May I call you Lucinda?"  He smiled down to her from within that thick, fake beard he forgot that he had stuck to his jaw and chin.  And he was quiet, because, after all, she was the one with the information.  The information he was after! 

"I'd prefer you did, mon cheri.."  When he smiled, she found that quite encouraging and very appealing. Slender fingers teased along his arm as she dropped her gaze briefly then looked up at him through dark lashes.  They were moving deeper into the town, though it was still near enough to the docks to be undesirable.  Her look turned sultry.  "You've not given me a name yet. Shall I call you Sir?" She bit at her lower lip after asking, regarding him with a slight smile.

A name? A ... name?  "Clarence."  What? Ah heck, it was done now!  His hand lifted to scratch at the line of his jaw, only to find hair there.  Which, at first he tugged at until he realized it was his disguise!  "But, the name that is of importance tonight, Lucinda, is Jean-Pierre."  He passed a glance over his surroundings, keeping track of where his steps took him.  He'd have to find his way back after all. 

"In time, Clarence."  She nearly purred his name as she shifted to guide his arm around her shoulders.  She slipped her arm around him, fingers slipping into a hold in his waistband.  "Will you be staying here for a while?"   She had plans for 'Clarence'. At least for tonight.  Turning down what seemed to be an alley, she led him to a small cottage at its end.  Lucinda was a very persuasive and determined lass.

Persuasive was not an issue with 'Clarence'.  He thought she moved in more for protection and he wrapped that hold around her for that purpose.  "I'll be staying long enough to see that you get what you need, Lucinda."  After all, she needed to safely be delivered home.  "And I get from you, what I need."  The information on Jean-Pierre. 

That was just wanted Lucinda wanted to hear!  As they reached the door, she reached between ample cleavage to pull out a key.  The door was unlocked and she turned to face Clark.  Fingers curled into his shirt and he was literally pulled inside.  The door was closed before she turned to face him.  "A drink first?"  She looked into his eyes, then slowly dropped her gaze again. Oh yes, he'd get what needed. "Then we'll ... talk."  Her voice took on a husky tone as she raised her eyes again, fingers trailing along the laces of his shirt.  She ran her tongue over her lower lip before turning away. Hips swaying, she made her way to the what served as her kitchen.

Hauled inside, Clark stumbled and struggled to keep from tumbling right on top of her.  His feet managed to keep from tangling with hers, thank the gods!  "A drink then, okay, yes."  He nodded. "But I came with one purpose in mind, Lady, make it a quick drink so we can get to the reason we're here together."  He slid a look around this small room, and in doing so, missed the seductive motion of her hips.  Just his luck, eh?  Or, just his preoccupation and oblivion.  "Shall we make use of the couch? Or remain standing?" 

"The couch will be perfect."  Oooo, he was an anxious one.  She filled up two glasses and sashayed her way to the couch.  As she held out one of the glasses toward him, her blouse slid off a slender shoulder.  Once he had his glass, one that held more whiskey than her own, she settled onto the couch, patting the spot beside her.  A leg was tucked beneath her rear so she could turn to face him.  "Bottoms up."  Lucinda handled her drink like a pro, downing quite a bit of the potent brew. 

"I've always enjoyed that saying, bottoms up." He smiled to her, doing that very thing, and downing a good portion of the spirits in his glass.  He sucked in a cooling inhale of air when he finished, turning to place the glass aside for now.  "But, you see, Lucinda, I'm not really here for a drink, you know.   Let's have at it, shall we?  I'm well aware you have exactly what I'm needing tonight.  The young Marcus told me so."  He crooked a finger to her, egging on the woman to provide for him, what he was there to obtain.  Oops, how did he miss that?  Her clothing was slipping off.  He leaned forward just then and gave a tug to her blouse, attempting to lift it back into place for her.  He wouldn't wish her to be embarrassed when she found her shoulder was exposed and, more so, that the upper swell of her breast was easily seen. 

She placed her glass aside, then tipped her head when he spoke. "I know exactly what you're after."  She slid closer, just as he reached for her blouse.  His fingers brushed over the swell he was trying to cover up causing a sultry smile.  "It's nice to have a man here who's not afraid to go right after what he wants." She reached for the laces of his shirt, undoing them as she leaned in to kiss him.

Soft, that mound of flesh and the feel distracted Clark enough that he missed what she said next.  He just knew that she was now unlacing his shirt and leaning toward him.  What had this to do with Jean-Pierre?  "Speak to me of  Jean-Pierre."  His  voice was lowered, because she was
near.  His fingers gripped each of her upper arms, balancing her, but mostly to hold her so he could hear her better.  She must be tired, no doubt she had worked all day and night.  No wonder she wanted to lie against him.  He'd let her, except, he needed her to tell him about the man before she went to sleep!

"Jean-Pierre?"  She paused to look into his eyes, a brow lifting.  "He's one of the richest men in Port Royal but we can talk of him later, can we not?"  She leaned closer.  "After all, we have all night, and there is just you and me. "  Her voice dropped to a whisper as she brushed her lips over his, then caught his lower lip with her teeth, tugging gently.  "You do want to spend the night with me, don't you, Clarence?"  Lucinda nearly purred out his name.

Spend the night?  If she needed him to spend the night to keep her safe, and he could get that information, then yes!  He did want to. Whatever it took.  "If you would wish me to, Lucinda, I would very much agree to spending the entire night.  But first..." He started to squirm beneath
her having just managed to escape that pulling, tug of her teeth against his lip in order to speak.  He swallowed hard,  forcing himself not to breath too deeply in her face.  "but first, I think you should at least just tell me where to find the man."  If he was the richest man in Port Royal, it shouldn't be hard.  But he was here, and she was here, and the time was right, he could get it now. 

She pouted as she leaned back but only for a moment..  "He lives in the biggest house on the Rue Delambre.  Number fourteen."  She had his laces completely undone, her hands sliding beneath the material.   "Why is that so important when you are here, and the night is still young."  She slipped onto his lap,wiggling to become comfortable. "Do you wish to spend the time in conversation."  Her warm breath teased over the skin of his neck. "Do you not find me desirable, Clarence?" 

Desirable?  Holy hell!  It just occurred to Clark what the woman wanted!  Yes, only just now!  He practically rolled from beneath her, attempting to scramble free, but in the process, took her to the floor, landing on top of her.  His chest bared from his shirt  pressed to the fullness of
hers, his legs tangled with her skirts.  An oomph of contact which might be misinterpreted as a moan of desire.  "Lucinda."  He was breathless with the struggle, reaching back and behind him in order to disengage the material of her attire so he could escape, and in the process, only tightened it at first.

"Yes." Hers was a breathless affirmation as they landed, her arms sliding around him.  She just knew she wouldn't be disappointed with this one. Tugging his shirt free of his pants, she ran her nails over the skin of his back, teasing. "You have me for the rest of the night, Clarence.  Do not be anxious."  And while he tried to free himself, she nibbled along his neck. "Such a strong, forceful man you are."

A grunt, a huff and he pulled her skirts free, exposing the length of her leg up to her knee.  Which had him sitting up on top of her, and in the process, caused her nails to rake into his flesh.  He sucked in a gasp and nearly flattened on top of her with that stinging bite of
sensation.  Anxious?  How could he not be anxious?  He had the information he needed now he 'needed' to get the dogpiss out of here!  Unless he wanted to take advantage of the situation.  He started to tilt to the side and get off, then looked down to her.  Wait.  No.  He swung his leg around and turned, her hands slipping free of his skin, but her fingers of one hand getting caught in his shirt.  Gah!  Fumbling to free himself from the lusty lass, he jerked at the fabric of his shirt, half on, half off, his leg hooked around her midsection. 

"Oooo."  She let out her own little gasp, her expression growing heated.  When his shirt nearly came off, she continued to "help" him with rest.  Tugging it down as far as she could, she started to reach for his belt.  Clark was going to have a hard time getting away from this situation now.  She wiggled to get into a better position beneath him.

Hard time nothing!  With all the contact and commotion, even Clark was starting to react physically.  Not...a good thing considering the circumstances.  He needed to brace himself up from her with one hand, but the other followed in the wake of hers, closing up, tucking in, swatting away her best efforts.  Here-in was the rub.  Literally even!  Would denying her throw their fake identities off?  Ack! He had to swat at her probing hand once again while he tried to figure out his predicament and how best to get out of it. Instantly, he covered her with the weight of his body, his forearm bracing just by her ear and he captured her lips with his - he realized the call of the evening.  Wear her down, pass her out, and be on his way.  Ah, what he wouldn't do ... in the best interest of the case.


Date: 07-07-06
Poster: Jacob Anderson
Post # 10

Lucinda Aftermath

Oh, what a night!  Lucinda had more 'oomph' than Clark had been prepared for and wearing the woman out had not been an easy task.  By the time the disguised man managed to ease from beside her gently snoring form, his glued-on beard was askew, the left shoulder of his shirt was ripped at the seam, and the skin of his face and neck and chest (all areas showing and some hidden from view) were smeared with a waxy, red film of lipstick. He tiptoed to the door on socked feet, cringing when the floor boards creaked, but he made his escape without waking the woman. He took the time to tug on his boots only when he had reached the safety of the front stoop and there, too, he attempted to smooth down the finger-tossled and nature-vicious curls of his hair. Did he even remember the information she had given him at this point? Could he even find his way back to Mercy and Jacob? Cutting down one alley and then another, crossing back courtyards and climbing fences, the newest addition to the investigative team finally found himself at the Inn where they had started from. Pure...genius - or, luck. Regardless, back he was and without a second thought to his appearance except to pat his beard back firmly in place (and that was because it was itching at this point), he entered and stood, searching out the common room for his companions.

Jacob was concerned on Clark after the incident at the dock. He felt a bit guilty. A very little bit in that he felt he left him to the wolves, feline one at that. It was just he knew very well what the woman wanted and he didn't want to bed her for information. He wasn't exactly sure why or maybe he didn't want to analyze it. He just knew he didn't care to bed Lucinda. Besides, Clark was willing, jumped at the chance, man probably hadn't gotten it in decades. Needless to say he was chuckling as he waited in the small bar of the place they were staying. He and Mercy were nearly the only two left at this point. She might be wondering why he was chuckling. He had stopped in his room and discarded his disguised along with cleaning up before he was back down to wait. A waiting period that was growing thin as he started to worry on his friend. Finally he caught sight of him with a stare then a blink. "Holy mother above, you were attacked by an Amazon!" Having risen to pace he was out from the small area moving towards Clark.

Once they had reached the tavern, Mercy had gone to her room and cleaned up. And she had been wondering somewhat why Jacob was chuckling, but she had a pretty good idea. She returned minus her disguise and dressed in a more feminine style, though it was casual. Black doeskin skirt and a blue man's shirt. She rejoined Jacob in the common room, watching the door while slender fingers tapped lightly at the table top. When Jacob spoke, she stood as well, her eyes going wide, laughter held in them. "Are you all right, Clark?"

Clark grinned as soon as he saw them. Up went his hand in a wave and he started right for them. "He lives in the biggest house on the Rue Delambre. Number fourteen. Whiskey...make it three fingers. This man is paying." He motioned with a thumb to Jacob and shot a wink to Mercy. "I hope you won the bet." Not that he even knew that a bet was made, he just figured, considering the two he traveled with, that surely a wager was made.

"I'll pay for the whole bottle. I'm surprised you can walk.." Brows were up as he swore something under his breath. The woman must have been a fierce lover. "Any bite marks?" Barely containing the laugh until he realized there was a lady present. He cleared his throat but Mercy would have to get use to such being one of the guys and far worse when dressed up as a guy. "Fast and furious at least you got the information. He had almost forgotten about the bet as a brow lifted as well as dark eyes shifting Mercy's way. "What was the bet anyway?" See what was really important!

She laughed, relieved that he had the information. "I won it." If Jacob couldn't remember, she'd declare herself the winner. "You figured Clark would get the information, and the woman wouldn't get anything, and wonder why it didn't bother her." The smile turned impish. "I think Clark actually won." She reached up and rubbed at the lipstick mark. "Over and over." Not a hint of a blush either.  It took more than that to make Mercedes blush!

"Ahha!" He pointed at each of them with a laugh, tilting his face for Mercy's attempt to clear away the proof of his evening that he didn't even know that he sported. "We've all won, we've got Jean-Pierre. When do we go?" He bobbed off a nod to the arrival of the bottle of spirits and started plucking at the hairs on his chin that weren't his own. He rubbed at a shoulder where, beneath the torn fabric, was one of the teeth marks Jay asked after.

"Darn, I should have gone afterall." Adding to the jesting as he saw to a glass of whiskey set into Clark's hand. "Well, the town is still awake, we could go now as I'm sure business associates would not be pressing. We can make it worth his while for the inconvenience if he is in bed. I have found in this line of work, grab the moment and take it or else you might find he left in the morning on a trip to Europe for something or another. Although you might want to first clean up some Clark." Mercy didn't have to go as a lad for this either. He spared a glance between them both for a vote.

Jacob owed Mercy some perfume for her win! She chuckled then looked at Jacob and nodded. "Probably the best thing to do then. I'm sure he'll understand why we didn't want to wait." Unless he didn't have any information. She decided to not think about that. If anyone had information, it had to be Jean-Pierre.

While Jay spoke, Clark was noticing his shirt, tugging at several of the loose strings that no longer held his sleeve to his shoulder. "All right. Give me five minutes to change my clothes." He reached for his glass of whiskey and cleared his throat with it, then with a two-fingered salute, headed up to clean up. Exhausted from an evening of 'investigation' and yet, eager to be on to the next phase of this case. As long as his body supported him, he'd press on further into the wee hours of morning.

Hold on right there. He won! Soon as Clark went to change he turned on Mercy. "I won the bet for he got the information and she didn't get what she wanted. Proof is in that he can walk. He returned this night and he had to fight her off to get here, that is obvious." Slow smile drawing as he met her gaze dead on. "Now to eventually collect what is befitting the win. We had not really decided on that part."

Mercy's mouth dropped open and her hands went to her hips. "How do you know that for certain?" She sputtered indignantly, but there was amusement in her eyes. With a toss of her head, she gave a soft huff. "Looks to me from the state of his clothes, and the smears on his skin, she got what she wanted. Maybe she'll be wanting more." She poked Jacob in the chest, or tried to. "He looked pretty satisfied to me." And the imp's grin returned again. "You'll just have to ask him."

Date: 07-12-06
Poster: Matoskah McDonough
Post # 11


Hot summer nights stirred the blood as well as no kind of recreation other than what one created. Sure there were the occasional bon fires and rain dances or such occasions to participate in some capacity. But ones such as the McDonough twins had that kind of itch to be doing something, something exciting. It was in their blood even if they didn't realize that family trait. White Bear gathered up his knife, arrows and hatchet before ducking out of his tent to go to Snow Brave's. "Are you awake brother?" Did he feel the itch as Mat's mind was already formulating what kind of excitement to endeavor upon.

"I'm awake." He had been laying upon the furs, staring up at nothing, his hands behind his head. When his twin entered, he sat up, a grin forming. "What are we going to do this night?" He had an idea it was something that would involve not only themselves, but others. Standing, he gathered his weapons.

Mother earth knew well how to sustain her people. A wealth of grains, berries, roots and game bordered around the encampment. A creek carried along its flow crawdads and fish, deeper in some areas, more shallow in others. It was in this more shallow area that Patwin squatted, his fingers dangling just enough that the water flowed through them. A mist had gathered from the waters and started up the bank before he stood, shaking off his hands and treading back toward his tent. The shroud of evening settled over his people and the village had grown silent with sleep. The faint coo of a whippoorwill called to the night, followed by the garbled song of a tree frog. He swatted aside the flap that kept the outdoors from his living quarters and crossed to take up a seat in the dark, a flint and stone struck to start the flame to light the shadows.

"Coup on the Snakes." Firm. They needed to show who was better with all that was going on. They could get in trouble but White Bear threw those thoughts out that might stop him from this course of action. "We wake Patwin, he will come with us too. Hurry." So they could be back by morning with enough sleep to see to the next day. He was already on his way to Patwin's tent. "Are you awake?" Words low enough he'd hear but not wake any others while taking a glance over his shoulder to see if Yas was on his way. There and back as he pushed aside the flap with a hand held back with his forearm. They were as brothers so it was common between them.

They had never worried about trouble before, why would they now? Yas glanced at the tents of the others before catching up to Mat. He stayed just outside the tent to watch in case any of the elders awoke. This late that would be rare except for those who kept watch. They would say nothing to the three when they left the camp.

No sooner had a spark shot from the stone than a familiar voice was pressing through. "You walk with the spirits, Matoskah." The twins had always managed to walk with the lightness of ghosts, which gave them the advantage on more than one occasions while growing up. "What brings you to my lamp, Brother... the mist rolls in." Patwin had a feeling... knowing the brothers... and his blood was already beginning to stir with anticipation.

More in gestures of hands and spoken words low, he told Patwin of how they needed to save face and show the Snakes who were better braves. Coup. An old tradition. "I have our horses waiting out in the cove, we ride the distance to their camp and count coup on their braves. Snow Brave comes with me will you?" The excitement was bright in his dark eyes even in the dark the gleam could be seen. They were of age now, counted amongst the braves and this would be their first proving of skills as men.

Yas leaned to look inside, and grinned briefly. He straightened again, watching the camp once more. It still was quiet, though a murmur of voices could be heard occasionally. He squatted down so he could see inside, urging them both to hurry with hand signals.

Patwin was quick to pinch out the flame he had just started in his lamp, shrouding the interior once more in darkness. Yaskitchi and Matoskah were both taught in the tongue of the white man. Patwin could always be found close to their sides, he too knew the clipped tones of the pale man's language. "You tempt the Guides, Matoskah." But even as he spoke, he was reaching for his weapons. With the pale light of the moon outside the dwelling, he caught Snow Brave's shadow and he smiled. This would be a night to remember.

He was in buckskins with a flap over them, moccasins and a beaded plate over his chest, leaving his arms and back uncovered along with part of his stomach. Hair was long and braids in with certain feathers added that were earned over time with each test succeeded. He, his brother and Patwin had the most over the other braves around their age. "The Guides direct me." This he believed for Shaman ways that good or bad this night insisted they move as inspired. He too noticed others about, stirring, so he was quick to go around to the back side of Patwin's tent and use that as an obstacle for being sighted. He was sure Patwin had a back escape and Yas at his side as he crouched low while moving fast on silent steps. He led them to the area where their horses were tied to an oak. Near the spot was a blanket that held the paint and a brook near. "We paint ourselves in the traditional symbols denoting our intentions." Which was of the laws of coup.

Yas touched Mat's arm and pointed in the direction of their adopted father. He was stirring but it only last a moment before he was still again. Once they reached the horses, he clapped a hand to Patwin's shoulder. "It is good to have you join us, Brother." He headed for the blanket and paints, settling down to begin painting his face and chest. Dress
ed much like Mat, their style of painting would be different.

Patwin slapped a hand to Yaskitchi's wrist and nodded. "It is as it should be." Together the three prepared for their ride and the challenges to come. His thumb stroked through the paste then passed along his brow. Each mark symbolizing the silent ritual until he was complete.

His was a combo of lines making out a bear in appearance, leaving the paint to dry without any war symbols but still the pride of the brave he was. Once they were all mounted, bareback and no reins, he smiled to his brothers. "This night we make our mark as the moon guides us. Spirits walk unsettled for the constant slight upon our people by this tribe of the Snake. They were once a good people that have turned away from the ways and crawl on their bellies to the White man," he spat on the ground, disgust evident, "and disgrace us. We will show them so they can remember." With that his heels nudged to the side of the Painted Palomino as he leaned in, hand gripping Charger's mane as they would gallop the distance then go on foot the last fourth of a mile into the camp.

Yas's made the symbol of a bear claw on his chest, adding lines to his face that changed his appearance into one of the devils they were called. He knew the Snakes were heavy drinkers now, not so willing to hunt but more than willing to fight. Counting coup would make them lose more face and maybe cause them to realize what they had become. He mounted the brown and white paint he called simply Fire for his swiftness in eating up ground and urged him after Charger and Mat. He was the eldest but the one who was inspired led and tonight it was Matoskah.

A night-dark hunting trip was profitable for him, returning with no arrows lost and a bundle of small game tied to his horse. Riding towards the camp with a slow, even lazy pace, Delsey was alert, his hatchet slung at his waist. No paint adorned him but for the stripes on his nose and forehead; anything that could reveal him to the game was ruthlessly stripped away. Beads and feathers were left behind for the task of hunting, his bow and quiver slung over his shoulder. He was thinking only of a drink of cold spring water and stretching his long, spare frame on his sleeping mat until dawn. He had seen tracks of the Snake and of what looked like whites in the area, creasing his forehead thoughtfully as his horse forded a stream, his hand signaling the watchers that he had returned.

Sliding up on the broad back of his pony, he heard the soft coo of a night bird. The faint call from a watcher nearby alerted Patwin that another rider was near. He leaned close to the neck of his mount, stroking the animal into continued silence and searched the area from where the sound had come. The form on horseback was recognized immediately, even in the pale glow of crescent moon. Still molded to his mount, Patwin fisted his hand to his mouth and pressed the opening to his lips. A tree frog's chirp beckoned to the brave, a sound this one brother would recognize.

He too had slowed for the signs of another. A few for that even under the moonlight and the tracks left of various horses. Ones of the Snakes and of Whites but there were others too of their own. He rounded back to Patwin and Yas, making gestures of what he noticed too rather than talking. They were near a cropping of trees and brush so not out in the open but blended in. He waited.

Yas nodded, slid into hiding, Fire becoming very still. He studied the footprints for a moment then settled in to wait. A slight smile appeared. It looked as if they would have four.

Hearing the chirp, Delsey reined in to bring his horse to a halt, dark eyes scanning the area for the human tree frog whose throat it came from. A fisted hand rested on his leg, relying on senses beyond sight until he found Patwin. Curious, he urged his horse forward to join the three, a nod of greeting given to Patwin, Matoskah and Yaskitchi.

Shadows lengthened over the four as if Mother Earth held the destiny of these men. Patwin returned Delsey's silent greeting and slowly sat upright, a jerk of head toward Matoskah as he pointed to the ample supply of game slung over the other brave's mount. He left any explanations to the younger twin, he just tapped his heels to the firm midsection of his pony and eased the both of them around silently.

White Bear urged Charger out from the cropping of brush and trees to come up alongside Delsey. Words were kept low and gestures mostly the communication for silence was best in case there were any scouts out. They would find that there were not because whiskey had been gotten and most were drunk but not immobile kind, just a stupid drunk. He explained in both what they were up to and if he wanted to join them to come with them. If not, that was understood for he had his game to get back, not that it would spoil for the few hours difference. He nudged his stallion forward to finish the distance riding before dismounting. Much more slick on foot as he entered the small forest that bordered the tribe of the Snake. He crouched down behind a large tree that had fallen to watch who were still up. The braves were, ones that had gone to that tavern and they were drinking still by the looks of it.

Yas added a few words here and there, then urged Fire off, slow until they were a good distance from the camp, then faster to keep up with Mat.  He slid from the paint and glanced to see where Patwin and Delsey were before sliding behind a large rock.  The thought of being that drunk had him making a face from disgust.  Whistling the sound of a nightingale, he let the others know he was in place and took hold of his club, ready to count coup.

Decision was not difficult to make when it came to getting the upper hand on the Snake. Concealing the game in shrubs until he could return to dress it properly, he followed the three to where the Snake was camped and slid from his horse's back, ground-tethering him as trained. A sniff of the air carried the scent of white man's drink, wrinkling his nose in disdain as he crouched down to move silently at the whistled cue. He was far better with a bow and arrow than he was with any other weapon, drawing an arrow and notching it as he waited for the signal.

Patwin helped Delsey hide away the game with a promise to help him later to dress it.  The sounds of the night concealed their progress into the domain of the Snake and those very sounds were also used to communicate one with the other once there.  At the edge of the forest Patwin's pony was released, the native blending into the shadows and landscape until he, too, was positioned for the strike.  The tree frog chirped out in the forest.  All were in place.

Mat gave the hands signals before abandoning the cover of the log. He kept low as he was sure the others would follow suit. Right where the high grass would end he charged out, high pitch sounds rang out into the night as he charged by the chief's son, one amongst the rebels of the Snake tribe, and touched him with the hand that held the small hatchet against his shoulder as he passed right by and into the height of grass on the other side. That showed he could have taken his life but spared for it was coup to count in the old ways.

Yas flashed his brother a quick grin before he too was running through the encampment.  His war cry echoed through the camp as he touched an older brave with his club, startling the drunken man so much that he stumbled, whirled and fell backwards.  Yas jumped over a prone warrior before he disappeared into the grass, another war cry sounding in a taunt.

He prided himself on moving silently, and so Delsey struck as silently, emerging from the tree line to loose a series of arrows fletched with the markings of his clan. He shot to wound or to frighten, not to kill, displaying his talent with the bow as streaks of blood blossomed on the Snake's braves from grazes with his well-placed arrows. Keeping an eye on the other three, he emerged into the light of the fire, dodging a thrown hatchet before narrowing his eyes in concentration for another shot

A warbled call echoed through the stunned camp as Patwin joined the other three, darting and dodging, tagging and terrorizing.  The glow of fires within the tents spread quickly as the sleeping tribe came to life.  One. Two. Three were marked with Patwin's jab of feigned death by the boned handle of his dagger and he rolled once to come stand next to Delsey as his tribal brother notched yet another arrow in their coup.  A well applied forearm sent an attacking Snake stumbling backwards, but they would soon be outnumbered if they were not quick. 

Well, the actual drawing of blood was an infraction, bordering that code of coup. Pressing the limit to already agitated braves couple with the fact they'd been drinking. Their war cries were of true merit as the intent was to kill the invaders. Weapons were grabbed by ones that could still function as arrows notched were aimed at the area of grass where the three had gone. The chief's son along with four others charged the area, ax and daggers drawn as they went after the four. Blacksnake went after White Bear, he'd heard of the twins and to kill the notorious devil would be a real coup as he engaged him with the slash of a knife. One that found its mark in a surface cut against his chest for the surprise of retaliation on another scale. The other three going after Yas, Patwin and Delsey respectively. Mat had preferred to avoid the spill of blood as the one persisted and they were locked in a battle of arms as Blacksnake tried to lodge his knife into Mat.

Yas backpedaled as he was charged by an angry brave but there was no laughter.  He yelled out in defiance, daggers brought up to block the attack of the other.  Yas was master of the knives and it was proven as he not only held the drunken brave off, but disarmed him and knocked him unconscious with a blow of his hilt to the man's temple.  He no sooner turned when another was charging him, knocking him down into the high grass.

Forsaking the bow for his fists as a brave charged him, he slung it over his shoulder so as not to impede his movements. Dodging the overhand blow aimed at splitting him in half, he let out a grunt and drove a blow aimed towards the brave's midsection. He knew he'd toed the line of coup with his arrows, but they were mere scratches, no worse than one would receive in a hand to hand fight.


No worse then they were receiving themselves, even now.  Patwin was actually grinning with his efforts to ward off the physical attacks sent their way by the Snake clan.  Several blows had found their mark on Patwin's person, leaving blood or bruises in their wake, but the brave fought on.  It was, unfortunate, that one of the Snake braves took the coup to the next level, aiming for Delsey's throat with his dagger in an ill-timed attack.  Patwin's instincts for survival and the survival of his kin erased all thoughts of feathers and deeds to gain those.  He shouted out another cry of war, this time in earnest, and whizzed his own dagger across the distance.  The attempt by their enemy failed...and he fell...a Bear weapon deeply implanted in an eye socket. 


Date: 07-12-06
Poster: Matoskah McDonough
Post # 12

Meanwhile, Blacksnake and White Bear continued their battle. A show of strength was matched as what Blacksnake prided himself in but Mat was just as strong and determined. Cuts came in the wrestling match with blade and hatchet in the attempt to kill the other at this point. This was no longer the tradition but a head on battle that had been waiting for this moment. Their history in the making as finally Mat showed a surge of strength that was not wholly human and his hatchet found its mark in Blacksnake's' throat ending his life quickly and mercifully. The war paint on him was now mixed with the other's blood. There was no way around it as the rest of the tribe was waking up a short distance away.  They needed to get the hell out of there for the engagement was to touch and be gone. He gave out a call to the others as he was fast on the move into the seclusion of the woods and backtrack to where they had left their horses.
Yas was in a wrestling match of another kind, the warrior trying to pin him, his knife getting closer to Yas' throat. He used his knees to kick the man off him then rolled to his knees to deliver a death blow to the brave's heart.  Up onto his feet, and he was charging into the woodline, pausing to look over his shoulder and make sure both Patwin and Delsey were following. Then he took a zigzag route back to where the horses were.

A look of thanks to Patwin for covering his back and he was leaping through the brush with a final blow to an approaching brave notching his bow. They needed no pursuers back to camp, as he seized the reins, determined to mount on the run as they'd been taught as boys.

The Bear Brave stumbled back when he realized what he had done. This was to be just a coup, and he now realized the import of their actions. Hearing Matoskah's call and catching Delsey's movement from the corner of his eye, Patwin jogged backwards a few paces before he spun and made for the cover of the trees as well. His horse was further out where he had left him, not within the trees, so he dashed over logs and around trees, keeping pace with his Bear Brothers who had to do the same by horseback, until he whistled, setting his pony into a run which he caught by the mane and hauled himself up. His dagger was left behind. The bone carved into the shape of a warrior's sleek frame. There would be no denying the deed if judgment was passed. He just bit out a curse for the turn of the night. They all lived. But what would be the outcome of their continued breath?

Yes, they were in deep shit with a coup gone wrong. Now there would be a tribal war for the son of the chief being amongst those dead. White Bear knew the impact this night would have but he also knew there was no way around it as the others had not played fair and turned it into something else. So, who was in the wrong? Who was in the right? Neither. Nor. The fact remained there were those dead amongst the Snake tribe and the incriminating arrows of the Bear tribe left behind. Mat still had his hatchet which had been wiped off. He was in a swift run, leaping onto the back of his steed and galloping off the way they came. He'd head for cover and backtrack a few times to throw any scouts off before they were back into their campgrounds, just outside where they had applied the paint. Here he finally dismounted, his face grave as he started washing both paint and blood off from his skin in the waters of the small brook.

Yas finally reappeared through the trees, dismounting Fire as he wordlessly joined his brother. He swiped a hand under his nose to wipe away blood then stepped into the stream to wash off the blood. No words need be spoken by any of the four. They knew this could only bring trouble for both the tribe and themselves. Not a single wince or sound escaped him as the cold water stung smaller cuts and a large one on his biceps.

Delsey was flecked with the blood of others, sliding free of his horse to splash cool water on his bare chest and arms. A glance at his knuckles proved the damage couldn't be hidden, cut up and bruised as they were. A frown formed, looking over at the twins and Patwin, but not a word was spoken. He did not need to be reminded of the gravity of their situation or the impending wrath of the tribal elders.

While the others bathed, Patwin pulled grass to wipe down his panting horse. The night around them was silent, but he had no doubts that the watchers had caught their hasty return and soon, all too soon, questions would come. With each stroke of his hand, he replayed how he might have responded differently but in the end, there was no changing what was...there was only dealing with what was to be. A smack of hand sent his mount trotting away and he joined his brothers in the water, the same water that had soothed his fingers earlier this night, now stung both his flesh...and his conscience as it was tainted red with his blood and the blood of other men.

"Kuwan and Kaliska will see to our wounds with the salve." Too easy to become infected otherwise and the possibility of death to face yet. He was washed up but his expression remained the same as he saw to his horse in the same practice as Patwin. "We need to tell the Elders." The dread evident in that mere statement of fact. What had been a good life had just turned to an uncertain future for all of them. His steed was sent off to graze as he was back, they needed to put their heads together on what to do.

Yas sighed as he climbed out of the stream and moved over to tend to Fire. He rejoined the others, crossing his arms over his chest. "First we wake Kuwan and Kali, have them tend the wounds. We need to be alert when we face the Elders, and look our best." He grimaced slightly. "Maybe we should repaint ourselves." They were, after all, going to face another battle of sorts.

"Paint would work for you, but if I wear paint, they will know something is not right." Delsey was a hunter first, a warrior second; paint was seldom worn. "But I will go to wake Kuwan. If anyone must face her wrath at being forced awake, it might as well be me." He wasn't looking forward to it, but headed off to find her without another word, leaving Horse with Yas and the others.

Patwin remained quiet, his thoughts to the next few hours and what they would hold for the four. For Kuwanyauma and Kaliska as well for their involvement in the tending of the ill-gotten wounds should they agree to do so. He finished washing down his arms and gave them a shake, leaning back to sit on the bank of that stream. When and if the women would help them, he would be ready.

The depth of the one wound would need tending as he managed to get the blood to stop flowing overly. Down to seeping with the cold water and at least it would be clean, take less time in seeing to any salve and binding it up. Dark blue eyes were on his brothers (all considered such for how close they were), the situation grave as the frown worn attested to. He wished he had not drawn Patwin and Delsey into this. Once more the Devils proved themselves. "I will go fetch Kaliska." Not saying anything more as he went straight away and quietly. He made the whoop call outside her tent like other times to bring her around to come out if she could.

Kuwan was already awake for something in her dreams awoke her. Ones that had her covered in snakes as she muffled the scream into the furs she laid upon. Her father sound asleep after a long hard day would not wake so easily as she quickly gathered her things and rolled out from under the side of the tent where she had loosened the ties. Just enough to fit her slim form through before rising up in a graceful flow. She caught her breath seeing Delsey there. "Where are they?" Whispered quietly as she started in the right direction. She knew from her dreams.

Kali too had a restless night, though she was not certain why. She lay upon her furs, watching the dancing shadows from the fires beyond the teepee until she heard the familiar whoop. Glancing at her parents, she slipped out of the tent and drew near Mat, frowning slightly. She said nothing, knowing he would lead her to where the others were. She was certain not only Yas was involved, but her brother and Patwin as well.

Yas sat on the bank near Patwin, his face shadowed. He sat as silently as his friend, watching the stream but not really seeing it. When he heard the approach of the others, he stood and wiped at the wound above his brow. It had begun to bleed again.

"By the river." He started after her, catching her arm long enough to warn her. "I will not ask you to come, Kuwan. There will be trouble for this - trouble I do not want for you. If you come, it is by your own choice." His eyes met hers, impressing upon her the solemnity of the situation. What had started as a coup went foully astray; he would pay for his mistakes, but she was innocent.

Patwin, more bruised than bloody, rubbed at his jaw, eyeing the faint shapes of the camp where the women would come from - if they came. In the process of working his jaw back and forth with the application of his hand, he spoke across the way to Yas. "This is our greatest trouble so far, My Brother." As if Yaskitchi didn't know, as if they all didn't know! They had mishaps before which had them mentioned among the elders, but this would see them personally standing in judgment. And rightly so. "It is with honor that I stand beside you ..." He didn't finish as he saw the movement of a pair of figures approaching. He pushed up, drawing in a deep breath, and crossed the stream to meet them.

White Bear noted Delsey with Kuwan so there was one before coming to greet Kaliska. He too would warn her. "We are wounded and need seeing to but it goes with a risk. We hope to have you back without knowing who had set the wounds." His hand lifted from where it settled over the cut on his chest, the palm coated in blood before he was moving quickly, with her to follow or not, back to the others. The decision would be hers and if she followed he would move at her side.

She paused only a moment, the salve and strips of cloth held in the fold of her top that layered over the leather skirt. "It has been shown to me by my spirit guides, this is my path, Delsey, with you and the others no matter where it leads." Words were low with a fleeting glance back over the dwellings a distance from them before meeting his eyes again. Unspoken words but to hurry as she was quickly to the brook area. She was over to a spot trampled down to lay out the salve and strips. Those wounded would come to her to see to them as she waited.

How could she not? They were brothers of her brother, and her friends. They had grown up together. "I will deal with the risk." She answered quietly as she moved up beside him. She had picked up the pouch in which she carried when she first heard his call. The path shown to her friend had also been shown to her by her guides. When they reached the brook, she joined Kuwan, greeting her with a slight smile. They had always been connected, sisters of the heart if not of blood.

Yas nodded agreement, though he couldn't help a flash of a grin at Patwin. "As always, it is good to have you at my side, our side." He answered as he too stood and followed Patwin across the stream. He made his way to the two women, his expression once more grim. "Little sisters." It was how he had always greeted the two. Even now, it would not change.

Delsey was not pleased to have his sister involved, but she was no longer a child and had her own mind. He trusted her to make her own decisions, leaving the others more wounded to be tended first. Flexing his knuckles, he grimaced at the discomfort when the broken skin stretched. A glance to his friends, brothers in arms, and he sighed. It would not be long now before the consequences of their actions came crashing down on them.

Patwin kept his head bowed as he joined the group, not meeting the eyes of the women they now placed in harm's way. He just waited for the twins to be tended and then he and Delsey would step up. He kicked a heel to the earth, pocking the ground where he stood - - and waited for what would come. Here...and later.

Being he was already near Kaliska, he'd let her tend the deep cut on his chest and any of the smaller slashes that touched skin against his arms in the by-play of knives. Mouth was set in a grim line as well the clench of his jaw. He dreaded the next few hours but come what may of it, life held no promises from day to day it would continue or be the last.

The greeting was turned to her blood sister as she knew Delsey would step back for the others and Yas' head was bleeding so she took up some salve to tend to his wound before winding a strip around it to hold the leaves with the salve in place. Smaller scratches quickly the same application without the need of any binding. A chant under her breath calling to the spirits of healing to see that no sickness comes of these wounds. Once she was done with him, she was to Delsey to carefully see to his hand and wrapping it in a way he could still use it. The chant to continue and both would find her touch like a butterfly's wing in gentleness. Kal would be seeing to the other two while she worked diligently and quickly.

She eyed the four a moment then stepped up to Mat. The wound was deep enough to cause concern but he had cleaned it well. Her touch was light as she smoothed the salve, then bound the wound. She too was chanting softly as she worked. With a look up at White Bear, she nodded to let him know she was finished. "Patwin." Even if he protested, she would insist on putting salve on the scratches. Stepping back again, she looked at him, eyes asking the question. What had they done?


Yas watched Kuwan's face as she tended to his wounds, giving her the smallest of smiles in thanks. He couldn't throw off the feeling of doom that was hanging over them. After stepping back, he looked at his brother, knowing he felt the same foreboding.

He said nothing as Kuwan bound his knuckles, only brushed a fingertip against her jaw gently in thanks before he tipped his head back towards the sleeping village. She should go, before she was found her, and take Kaliska with her.

The call of his name was the only time he looked over at Kali and then, without a word, he stepped up to her, and her administrations, slight as they may need to be, began.

Running Deer was not so fast asleep that he didn't feel his daughter's leave. Something had troubled his dreams and had been lying there awake, although his eyes were closed and breathing even. He let her go for something held him to but soon he was up and out. One of the scouting braves approached with a quick succession of hand signals and speech conveying that there was trouble, two more of the scouts joining the first and waited for instructions. A hand passed to Fox Tail's shoulder as the frown etched the more that was said, moving past him in a quick pace heading for the site where the six congregated. The three scouts following. He saw the wounds, knew there had been a skirmish but he would not conduct a meeting here. "To the meeting tent and wait there." Motioning to Fox and the other two braves. "Wake my brother and the others and meet there. Kuwanyauma," using her full name meant trouble, "Kaliska, back to your tents until you are called." He turned on a heel excepting his commands to be upheld.

Matoskah watched Kaliska as she tended his wounds. The thank you there in his eyes before she was off to see to Patwin. He started to collect his things as they all needed to get back when Running Deer showed. He stiffened, not looking to any others but in due respect upon one of the Elders. Only after he had gone did he feel the full weight as shoulders slumped. Noting to say but the look passed between his brothers then upon the two sisters. "If I can ever make it up to the two of you, I will." Not knowing if he would be alive to but somehow he would. From there he went straight to the meeting tent and waited.

Yas turned when he heard Running Deer, dark eyes unreadable as he watched and listened to the Elder speak. He closed his eyes after the man was gone then looked at Matoskah before his eyes met each of his brothers. "As will I." He added to Mat's words. Picking up his possessions, he patted Fire as he passed then followed his brother to the clan house.

A nudge to Horse sent him off to find pasture for himself; Delsey would not be so fortunate. A bland look went to the brothers as he fell into step behind them. Only a look to his sister, one that promised her that all would be well somehow. He would make sure of it for her sake, regardless of his own fate.

Patwin, although he still had areas untended, took Kaliska up by the wrist with a gentle squeeze of gratitude and there, met her eyes. With one of the Elders making the demand, he could not linger. He released her, sliding a look to Delsey, before taking up a pace with the other three. Together ... they would come before their futures.

Date: 07-12-06
Poster: Jacob Anderson
Post # 13


When Clark returned, he was as good as ... new.  Just how good that was, could be debated.  Still he rejoined his companions in no time, not a trace of his previous disguise, not even the lipstick anywhere on his body.  He did, though, still have that small club which contained all his writing needs tucked at his belt. 

Jacob was grinning wide for that look on Mercy's face. Couldn't be helped "I know it for certain, I'm a man. If you have doubts you ask if he had sexual intercourse with the woman." Would that bring more than a sputter but a blush too? He captured her hand that would dare to poke him in the chest, as it was lifted and a kiss placed to its palm while eyes locked. The moment fleetingly brief as Clark joined them again. Her hand lowered and released. "Looks like we are ready." No time to lose and he started out the door knowing they would be right with him.

She sputtered all right, cheeks turning pink.  "I certainly will ask him!"  And Jacob better not think for one moment she won't. "When we get back from speaking to Jean-Pierre."  Though if Jacob kept teasing, she'd ask him while they were walking to the Vioget home. She tipped her head, watching him then grinned at Clark as he joined them.  Turning with a flair of her skirts, she followed after Jacob.

What? What? He looked between the two before Jacob took off.  Seemed like they were on their way so Clark trotted along behind.  "You look better in the skirt, Marcus."  Clark called from behind Mercy, not even realizing he had called her the previous name. 

The motion of his shoulders only attested to the silent laughter that shook them enough as he didn't look at .. Marcus in a skirt. He was in a determined pace, watching the names of the streets they passed until one Rue Delambre was found. A sharp cut to the right and he was counting off the numbers
until he reached fourteen. He was up the few steps to the door and a fisted hand thumped loudly five times. Urgent sounding.

"Hold on, hold on! Keep your shirts on!" The voice from inside the door was annoyed-sounding, as the sound of the bolt being drawn back met their ears. A moment later, Jean-Pierre stood before them, black pants, white shirt, and brocaded vest even at this late hour. "Well, how can I help you?"

She caught Jacob laughing and shot a good-natured glare at him before nudging Clark. "I hope I do, but the name is Mercy, remember?" She kept up with the two men easily enough, offering a smile as they passed one of the city guards though the man watched them closely. When they reached the very large house, Mercy stood between the two men. Smiling at Jean-Pierre, she stayed quiet. At least until she saw how the man judged women.

"Yes, yes, of course, Mercy." Clark reached over and patted Mercy's head. Of course her name was Mercy. He was glad she still remembered although, he had no clue he had just called her otherwise. When the man's voice called for them to keep their shirts on, he glanced down at his own shirt, pulling at the neck to straighten the collar, then watched as the door opened. This fellow must have been in a room nearby, or was he expecting visitors at this hour? Quick to the door and dressed for a social evening, perhaps the trio had interrupted something within at this hour. Clark lifted a hand in greeting but he waited for Jacob to fill the man in.

Jacob stepped back giving the man room to open the door for them, "Jacob Anderson my good Sir. We are looking for Jean-Pierre on an urgent and personal matter of one he used to know as family." Not knowing if this was the man or his butler. "My comrades, Mercy and Clark." Not giving their surnames as he glanced back. "The name McDonough might ring a bell. If we may come in?"

"I'm Jean-Pierre. McDonough, you say?" He stood aside, ushering them in, and into a room just to the right of the main door, his office. "Now there's a name I've not heard spoken in a long time. McDonough." He paused, looking from Jacob to Marcy, to Clark, and then back to Jacob again. "Well, come in, sit down, and then tell me why you're pounding at my door so late in the evening with this name on your lips."

"Thank you sir." Mercy curtseyed then stepped inside with Jean-Pierre's invitation. When they were directed to sit, it was Mercy who spoke first. "We're here on business for Alexander McDonough, Mr. Vioget. He was the husband of your late sister, was he not?" She glanced at the others then back. "And a friend of your father's."

Clark studied the man's features, and the way he held himself as they all made their way into his home. Because he knew all that Mercy was already saying, he had already documented it, he looked around the parlor where they were led. Would Jean-Pierre offer them a drink? He was rather parched, considering his evening thus far. He took a seat in one of the wing-backed chairs and prepared himself to make those mental notes he'd be translating later into print.

Jacob was in with the others to situate himself comfortably enough. He too studied the man across from him as Mercy, a much more pleasant voice too, started in. He would not interrupt unless there was a reason. A group should have only one spokesperson and Mercy was it this time around. For now.

"Its been years since I've heard from Alexander McDonough," he said, closing the door to the office behind them. Dark eyes passed over Mercy, and he offered her a small smile and a dip of his head. "Yes, he was married to my sister, and yes, he was a friend of my father's." Movement carried him to a cabinet that held a variety of bottles and glasses. "Something to drink? My butler is ill, I'm afraid, so you'll have to deal with me serving it, and I'm not nearly so graceful."

Mercy smiled with his offer. "Yes, thank you. A red wine, if you would." She looked at Jacob and Clark then looked at Jean-Pierre. "The reason we're here is Sir McDonough has been remembering things about his illness. He is certain he heard the cry of a child. Mr. Vioget, did the child his wife carried truly die?" Straight to the point seemed to be the best way.

Clark just nodded his addition to Mercy's request for red wine. She needed to stop asking so many questions until the wine was served! He smiled his gratitude for the offered drink and settled in. A rather nice home Jean-Pierre had. The comfort of which many in this new land didn't yet possess.


"I'm fine, thank you." With a more carry on feel to it and get to the meat of the matter. He was a big link for them and Jacob wasn't one known to have much patience in getting information, only in staking out others where he dug his heels in. This was one of those situations he was on the edge of his seat waiting with a look back upon Mercy then Jean-Pierre.

Jean-Pierre stared at Marcy for a moment before turning his back and pouring two glasses of red wine. He carried them over, handing one to her, first, and then a second to Clark before retreating to the sanctity of his chair behind the large cherry wood desk. Since she had been straightforward, and with the surprise of Alexander's memory, he would return the kindness of being so with her. "No. They did not die. In truth, Miss Mercy, I've been looking for them for some time now.

She watched Jean-Pierre for a moment then returned Jacob's look. After thanking Jean-Pierre for the drink, she sipped the wine then lowered her glass. "They? You don't know where they are?" She was stunned with the fact there was more than one and didn't bother to hide her surprise.

Clark, too, was surprised and the glass paused just shy of his lips, his mouth slightly opened from surprise or the intended destination of that rim. He slanted a look to Jacob, then returned his attention to Jean-Pierre. His lips sought out the glass rather than continuing it on up with his hand but that was because, he was still mulling over the possibility that now..there was a they involved. He wasn't thinking that much about the drink.

"They?" Came right out with as much surprise as Mercy held hearing that particular word. "So they are alive, he had more than one or twins?" As his mind reeled to fill in how they fitted. More to himself as he looked between the two and Clark to note his reaction.

"Twin sons," he said, nodding his head. He suddenly wished that he had poured himself a drink. "Alexander Gage and Maurice Joseph. I was there when they were born, when she passed." There was a tinge of sadness to the man's voice as he uttered those words.

It took Mercy a moment but then she nodded slowly. "Mr. Vioget. Why didn't you tell Alexander about this before he left Port Royal?" Well, they had some news at least. "Do you know if the boys are still alive?"

And where they are? And how to find them? And if they go by those names or others? Or ... and ... if ... where ...what ... when ... how...the fine wine, so smooth and perfectly aged was downed in three rather eager swallows.

He could see steam coming out of Clark's ears or it was just another brain fart he witnessed. He shook it off as he too held the same questions. "If you've been looking then you believe they are alive, where should they be found? Would they have gone with one of the tribes? Are they still in the vicinity of Port Royal or taken somewhere else?" So he had to throw in a few questions at least this time around.

He would address Mercy's question first. "I did not tell Alexander because it could have cost him his life, Miss Mercy. It is ... regrettably, a judgement that I have pondered over for many years." Attention then turned to Jacob, and he sought to explain. "When the midwife came to us that night, she brought with her a woman named Kirima. Kirima insisted that the children were in danger. So, after I made them agree to let me come, and that the children would be baptized, we left. We made it as far as the outskirts of the town when Chantal began to deliver, so we went to a farmhouse. The priest came, and Chantal was gone within a few hours. I assume that the boys are with the Bear Clan. But I have not been able to search for them as actively as I would like to." Spread hands indicated the piles of paperwork on his desk.

"Have you no idea at all who could help us in our search. We intend to continue. What of the midwife?" Mercy was certain any questions she missed would be asked by her two companions. Jean-Pierre had to have been very young when this happened. She couldn't begin to understand how he had felt, and now, had to deal with the guilt of allowing the twins to be taken.

"The Bear Clan, did we not see some of them at the tavern just this night?" Jean-Pierre was as good as forgotten at the moment as Clark glanced between Mercy and Jacob. "Yes, yes...I do recall, yes." He was nodding, as if they had actually answered him instead of him answering himself. "They must not be camped far from town then...not very far." And here they all could be talking around him for he drifted into his own thought process, stroking the hair on his chin as he spoke aloud his ponderings. "How far could they travel in one night's time? By horse...would they even be heading back to their village tonight? Or perhaps they are on an expedition, not to return for some time...if they head back, we might be able to follow, unless they pick up our intent..." And so he continued to murmur to himself, half an ear to what else may transpire but his own musings well underway.

"Tonight and when we first came. Older ones though." This to Clark before focus switched to Jean-Pierre and Mercy. "Do you know if this Kirima is alive and where we might find her if she is?" At least they had another name. Except he was doing a double take back on Clark. "They seemed to want to get back to their tribe. We know where the Horse tribe is located." Then back to Jean Pierre. "Do you know where the Bear Tribe is located?" That would help right there.

"I don't know exactly where they would be this time of year. Like all the tribes, they tend to wander from time to time. Usually, though, the Bear Clan sticks to the area north of here." Hand withdrew to take up his quill, and he wrote something on a piece of parchment, then slid it towards Jacob. "The name of my father's other partner, a Stuart Martinique, and where he can be found. He might have something more that you can use."

"What of the midwife, Mr. Vioget? Is she still alive?" Mercy wasn't hopeful. Frontier life, even in a city such as this, could be very rough. Especially if the fever came through the land again.

"If we followed, then we may even be captured by them and brought right to camp, interesting prospect. Traveling north, north would be a bit more hilly, going into the forests might be rather perilous for Mercy, Stuart Martinique, is that a name I already have?" With that he leaned to the side and pulled that small club free from his side, plucking out the parchment within it and unrolling the tightly wound piece of paper to check his notes. He had more to make as well so he also tweaked out the pencil and spread the paper on his knee, there making his scribbling marks as the other three spoke around him.

Best Clark got to his notes so Jean Pierre didn't start wondering if he had all his marbles for talking to himself. "North," taking the piece of paper Jean slid his way and turning it so Clark could make his copy of it onto the one he kept in the club. Man's name and where he could be found. "Is there anything else you feel we should know about as far as Alexander's twins are concerned? Anything at all you can think of no matter how trivial."

Jean-Pierre pondered that for a moment. "They'll have differences, they aren't identical twins. Anything more than that .. I can think of nothing. It was a very long time ago." His eyes turned to Mercy again. "I don't know if she is still living or not. She left town, and I have not seen her since." Was Clark always that way?

Always. "Well, I can't think of any other questions. Thank you for seeing us at this hour, Mr. Vioget." She stood, offering her hand.

Clark wasn't shy any marbles, he had an excess of them. They seemed to be constantly rolling about in his head, all these thoughts, all this wisdom, that he just couldn't seem to get a firm hold on all at once. But when he did! The results that followed were astounding! When Mercy stood, so did Clark, fumbling with his pencil and paper and club to try to juggle the lot of them back in order while, in the meanwhile, attempting to hand back the empty wine glass and offer a hand as well in farewell and gratitude. "You've been most helpful, Sir. Xander will be most enthused with your information." He was tucking the club under his arm for now, which started to slide free when he shook the man's hand, but he caught it, in the glass, which he was then handing to Jean-Pierre. Wait...that club was his...he slid it out of the glass with a smile as if nothing was amiss. Clark was very good at that particular smile.

Clark may have more marbles than anyone else but he needed at least another hand as Jacob too stood as Mercy did. Except, he caught up some of what near got away from Clark and took the glass at least to set off over on the table where the drinks were gotten from. He took Mercy's too so neither had to worry. He turned back with a cordial dip of his head. "Thank you for seeing us this late. If..," pausing here before amending. "..when we find the twins we will let you know, either way." Alive or dead, they did indeed exist and they would find out the rest. "We will not keep you." As it was very good of the man to see them as such, perfect strangers. He was to the door awaiting the others.

He shook hands with each, as offered, and followed them as they headed towards the door, unbolting it again so that they could depart. "Tell Alexander for me .. that I'm sorry. I should have told him long before now. I hope that you find them, and thank you for letting me know one way or the other."

Mercy tried not to laugh as she watched Clark, then she smiled at Jean-Pierre. "I'm sure he'll understand. Thank you again, Mr. Vioget. Good night." She turned and joined Jacob. They could talk on their next course of action on the way back to the Inn. Things were looking up again.



Date: 07-18-06
Poster: Mercy LaCorte
Post # 14

It was shortly after dawn, that Mercy rose and made her way to the desk provided in her room.  Taking up the quill she looked thoughtfully at the parchment before beginning to write.

My Lord McDonough:

This is the latest update and I can say with certainty that the news we have will be a surprise to you.  After some excellent work on the part of Mr. Davis, we were able to meet with Jean-Pierre Vioget.  He asked us to express his regret for the events that happened eighteen years ago.  The people of the Bear Clan, your late wife's people, came to the home of Arber Vioget the night your wife went into labor.  They convinced Jean-Pierre to allow them to take Mrs. McDonough with them to deliver your child.  This was due to a vision seen by their wise woman.  He agreed on the condition that he accompany them and that the child was baptized.  They hadn't gone far out of the city when labor progressed.  That night, your wife delivered not one, but two boys.  She did not survive that night, but your sons did.  The eldest was baptized Alexander Gage, the youngest Maurice Joseph.  Jean-Pierre promised to say nothing but he has been trying to find the boys for many years.  He knows they are with the Bear Clan and nothing more.

He gave us the name of one of your father-in-law's partners, Stuart Martinique as well as his address and the third partner, Henri Pichette's former mistress, Madame Cerise Vignes. We  visited Monsieur Martinique first.  He lives with his daughter and her family. We found Monsieur Martinique to be very sharp.  He told us that Pincette and Vioget had a bet of some sort, and though he was not privy to what it was, he did know it was quite large.  He also remembers you with some fondness, saying you always remembered his favorite wine when you and Madame McDonough visited.  He sends his warmest regards.

After that pleasant visit, we visited Madame Vignes.  She had been madame of a very high class brothel, started by money left to her by Monsieur Pichette. Now retired, she is a very elegant older woman living alone save for her servants and a rather surly bodyguard.

Mercy paused and chuckled as she dipped the quill into the ink again.  Madame Vignes had treated Mercy like a servant at first, until Mercy refused to play along.  Amused, the woman then spoke to her as well as the two men.  It amused her to flirt with both Jacob and Clark, though Clark was, as usual, oblivious.

She told us that the bet was over whom would became grandparents first as both Arber and Henri's children were married at the same time.  When the bet was made, it was for a substantial amount.  Unfortunately, Henri Pichette ran into some large debts and did not have the money when the twins were due to be born.  Apparently he was not the man your father-in-law or Monsieur Martinique was.  He planned to have the child, not knowing at the time there were two, kidnapped.  The men he hired were of the type to kill the children in order to obtain the money.  When Monsieur Vioget became better, he paid the debt thinking the child had died with his daughter.  Madame Vignes gave us the letters that had been written by Henri.  We are having copies made and sent to you and Jean-Paul.  Unfortunately, Madame Vignes did not have any information on the twins except for the address of the woman who delivered them.  She is of the Bear Clan and has recently returned to Port Royal after an absence.  As soon as we have spoken to her, we will once again send you a report.  A copy is also being sent to your brother, Joseph. 

With deepest regards,

Mercedes LaCorte,
Jacob Anderson 
Clark Davis

She sprinkled sand over the ink after reading it over several times.  There wasn't much to add, and it was as clear and concise as she could make it.  Once the ink was dried, Mercy placed a drop of wax to seal the envelope and marked it with a ring that held her initials.  It would go out on the next ship.  After breakfast she would deliver it to the Harbor Master herself, then they would go on to find Onatah Winston.  She could only hope the woman could give them the information they needed.


Date: 07-21-06
Poster: Jacob Anderson
Post # 15

The Midwife

The PI's had been given directions to the home of Onatah and David Winston by Madame Vignes. It was a modest house, compared to the ones they had visited previously, but well-kept. David was a gunsmith and his shop was at the front of the house. He greeted the three, and after hearing their request, went into the back to speak to his wife. A few minutes later, he came out and sent them to her. She was a pleasant woman, slightly plump. Dark hair had begun to turn gray. Motioning for the three to sit in the room she obviously used to meet potential mothers, she offered tea, or scotch. Apparently that was all they had. Then she sat and studied them.

"You are not here to speak of delivering a child, or so my husband says. What is it you wish to talk to me about?" If David had told her, she wasn't making it easy for them.

Jacob entered the room where directed by David, remaining standing as he went to get his wife, Onatah. Hands folded behind his back as he rocked on the balls of his feet. That was in lieu of pacing. They were getting so close he could taste their success or so this was given that feel and he was rarely wrong. So many cases long before he came to Heathfield, except on the other side of the law at the time. Forced there. Once she appeared a respectful bow of his head followed as he would leave the courtesy to Clark this time.

Clark Davis, always curious, sought out a few of the weapons that the man had in his shop, sighting down the barrels and smiling the entire time. He found it terribly difficult to leave those interesting guns behind in order to go sit and wait. Even before David could leave the room, Clark was asking questions as to distance, and impact, and ball weight. He was backing his way from the man in order to enter the room where the woman suggested they be seated. Clark did as directed, taking a chair and looking around with a shake of head to the offered drink. "The McDonough twins." Clark answered without much thought, his mind remained in that other room for now. Give him a moment to shift his thoughts from one interesting thing to this new one of investigation.

Mercy found the guns interesting as well, but she also was anxious to bring this to a close. She winced when Clark said why without preamble. Then again, sometimes that was best. She looked at Onatah who just stared impassively

"I do not know McDonough." Onatah answered, eyes showing a stubborn streak. "Are they married and waiting the birth of children? Do they live here, or are they just visiting?" She had no reason to trust these three. Not at all.

"Alexander McDonough who was married to Chantal, had twins about eighteen years ago. We are trying to locate them so they can finally meet their father. I believe both sides thought the other dead and it is time to correct that. We know they are alive as well we know Alexander is alive. By the great spirits they should not be kept separated any longer." Words were intense as if the great spirits would come through her doorway and implore she tell them what they needed to know. Hands having come from the fold of his back to rest at his hips. It was the intensity in dark eyes that was the most compelling, dark as their own people.

"We understand they are with their mother's tribe of the Bear. It is not our intention, Kind Lady, to take them from their family, but to extend their family to include their father as well." Clark sat forward in his chair, fingers laced together between his knees. "It will be their choice, to stay or to go. I dare say we do not pose a threat to them, not surrounded as they will be by their kin." Clark, for one, did not look a threat. Mercy could, on occasion, cause a soul to wonder what manner of danger she could inflict. But Jacob.  There was no denying his ability for harm. It was just, well, as Clark had said it, one man against a tribe, what could he do?

Mercy watched the woman as the two men spoke, noting a softening of her eyes when Clark spoke of choices. "Isn't it right that they be allowed to know their father lives and that he didn't forget them?" She added, her voice soft  and imploring. "I think their mother would wish for them to know the man she loved."

Onatah lowered her eyes from the intensity of Jacob's gaze, but watched them through her lashes. She shook her head then sighed. "They are men now, it is right that they make the choice. They live, as you said. The Bear Clan is located to the north of Port Royal, but to go to their territory you have only two choices. One will take many days but is safer. The other is through the territory of their enemy, the Snake and they do not like the White Man. You would not make it to the lands of the Bear."

"What of the tribe of the Horse? We were invited there, is there not a route that can be taken by that means." Pausing a moment as he added, for certainly it would weigh favorably in an honor bestowed. "We were invited to meet their Shaman for a deed done while in one of the local taverns here." Plan C? "If there is not I leave the choice to Mercy for I am use to facing danger in my line of work and would easily go through Snake territory."  He continued to keep full focus on her as would be expected of a male of any worth.

So Clark was of some worth after all because he kept his gaze on her as well, listening closely to her words and to Jay's. "Regardless of the danger, you say we won't make it to the lands of the Bear through Snake territory. That is That leaves us little choice. Death or Delay. Neither one is an option we can afford. What say you, Mercy?"

"If we can go through the lands with the help of the Horse, I think we should do that." Mercy answered with a shrug. "One way or the other, we are going to get there." She looked at Onatah, then at her two companions.

Onatah smiled suddenly and nodded. "You will find the Horse to be willing to help you if they have invited you to meet the Shaman. I will tell you how the quickest way to get there. And give you medicine pouches for the journey. It was known to me you would come, but I had to be certain of your motives."

"May the Spirits look upon you favorably for your kindness, Onatah." The first he used her name and with due respect. A hand coming to fist against his chest before dark eyes were on his comrades. "We should head out now, well, as soon as Mercy changes her attire appropriately."  Which he was suggesting she go as a lad again for her protection.

"And get the pouches of medicines." Clark nodded, standing as well, and looked to Mercy to find her attire rather nice. From her head down to her hem his gaze drifted then shrugged. Jay would know, maybe she had on inappropriate shoes. They'd be traveling quite some ways after all. "You have done a great service this day, Mrs. Winston. " Now, where was her husband? Clark wanted to see about getting his hands on that one pocket-sized weapon. Who could pass up such a find?



Date: 07-27-06
Poster: Matoskah McDonough
Post # 16

The Council

The elders had been awaken by Kuwan's father and gathered in the council tent. While Kirima and Milap argued for calm, the War Chief disagreed. "We have no time. I will gather the warriors and have them prepare." In times of  trouble, it was he who took charge. Kirima sent Milap for the four youths. His expression was stern as he entered where they waited, in an area marked off by a hanging blanket. "Come now." They would have to walk between the Elders to stand before Kirima. Though her expression was stoic, her eyes showed just how furious she was as she watched them approach.

Patwin was the first to enter, and perhaps it was as well. He felt responsible for the others and the evil turn of what had transpired. He passed before the eyes of the Elders, his head high but his gaze straight ahead until he arrived before Kirima. Only then did his gaze dip away in accepted guilt for his deeds, taking a step to the side for his brothers to join him there.

In his wake was Delsey, feeling the weight of his responsibility as he stood shoulder to shoulder with Patwin. That the coup had gone so very wrong was something he could not have foreseen, but actions demanded consequences; he was prepared to face the ruling of the elders, whatever it was. Eyes remained lowered in humility, though the stance was unmistakably proud; he acknowledged the wrong of his deeds, but did not relinquish the matter of pride in defending his friends and brothers.

Matt too followed in a remorse but still his mind reeled that nothing else could have been done nor the feeling it was destined. He couldn't shake such as he moved between the Elders to reach Kirima. The muscle along his jaw clenched but he held his head high, right or wrong, he had the Bear Clan pride and would not dishonor them by showing anything less. Once he took his place he lowered his gaze with the dip of his head in respect.

Yas was the last but as the elder of the twins, he felt responsible not only for himself but for Matt. He too, kept his head held high, his expression as stoic as the woman who stood before them. When he came up beside Matt, he inclined his head as well, looking down at the ground. They would accept their punishment as warriors just as was expected.

Kirima said nothing for a full moment. When she spoke, her voice had none of the chiding that would be used on youngsters. These were men who stood before her. "Which of you will speak? Every detail must be given. Nothing left out." Her anger was contained by the fact that they acted even now as men. In spite of her anger, she was proud of them.

Patwin's gaze lifted and met Kirima's squarely. "I know not all, Great Mother. Only that a coup was the intent, and death the unexpected outcome." And because he knew not what had transpired with Yas and Mat, he thrummed a fist to his chest just over his heart and passed a look in the direction of the twins, his momentary notice touching on Delsey for, together, they had faced off the warriors of the Snake while the McDonoughs managed their own.

"Death came not because of our choice, Great Mother. Lives were taken so that others would be preserved." He spoke seldom, but when he did, it was gravely and with a quiet tone. Only simple words, his eyes rising to rest on Kirima's calmly. "I saw a warrior of the Snake attacking the back of my brother, death in his eyes, and I loosed my arrow to stop him."

"Great Mother, I will speak as it was my restlessness that started the flow of events I cannot shake as meant to happen as they did. The intent was not for killing. Coup, as in the old ways against our enemy the Snakes but they do not remember the old ways and killing was their intent." Shoulders straightened. "I enlisted Patwin as my brother of heart and another brother, Delsey, on the way as paths crossed. It was as if guided by another hand but I do not understand the why when killing was to survive instead of the respect of the old ways gained. I take the responsibility for it was within me to start the flow of  events." Hoping to spare the others for they were only drawn in by him.

"And I agreed with White Bear instead of trying to talk him out of it. We did not know they would turn on us in that way, Great Mother. But, what is done, is done. We cannot change the course of what happened. There was no other way to escape save to kill those who attacked us." Whatever happened, he was going to face it with his twin, and if their brothers did the same, so be it.

"The War Drums sound even now in the camps of the Snake. What you have done is bringing war down upon us." She looked at each of the braves, her eyes filled with sorrow instead of anger. "We are few against them but we will fight. Milap and I will go to seek word from the Spirits. If we, and you, survive the battle to come, we will pass on what your punishment is to be. Your bravery will be needed this day. If the battle is won, you will retire to this tent and wait for the word of the Spirits. Do you understand?" Milap said nothing as he looked at the young men. They might not live to see punishment, but that too was the will of the Spirits.

It was by free-will that Patwin had joined his brothers and it would be by the will of the Spirits that he would join them here after or in the here-after. He said nothing.  He was meant to say nothing.  He simply bowed his head again to let this wise woman know he was as he should be - ever in body, soul and spirit a Bear warrior.

He too lapsed into silence, accepting the will of the council as his fate, and trusting to the Spirits either to carry him safely or to see him fall as a warrior should, in battle. A nod and he studied each face before him before he waited for further instructions or dismissal.

"I will fight to the death, I will be as the Bear in teachings of warrior ways to take down ten fold and continue on until there are none left or I am taken down." This he vowed with his eyes still lowered respectfully of the Great Mother. They would do their warrior dance and prepare upon their instruction, which he now waited for.

"Great Mother, Kuwanyauma and Kaliska had nothing to do with this. We wished to speak to you without our blood covering us. I ask that you do not punish them for their giving us aid." He glanced at Running Deer then looked back to Kirima.

The Elder might have smiled had things not been so serious. "They did what they felt was needed. And would have been called to make sure you could do what is necessary now. Go, prepare yourselves for battle while Milap and I go prepare to speak to the Spirits. We will also ask them to give their aid to all our warriors. Fight well, and remember, we are Bear. We do not back down from our enemies even though they overwhelm us. Now go." She turned away from them, helped down from the platform by Milap. He looked at the twins and nodded once before leaving with the Wise Woman. The remaining Elders stood but said nothing and would not leave until the four braves were gone.



Date: 07-28-06
Poster: Xnader McDonough
Post # 17

Return to Port Royal

Alexander McDonough was a man with a mission.   He had told Draven he'd help with the canoe race and so remained in Heathfield until the next day.  That gave time for the Star to be prepared for a voyage to Port Royal.  It also gave him the chance to speak to Maurice, Draven and Garath and give him the news he had received from the private investigators.  The piece of paper with the signatures he'd save until his return.  It was possible Joseph would be back by then.   He did leave that brother a note telling him where he had gone.  Maurice he had asked to find a manor house for him.  He had hoped there might be one near his brothers, but if not, he'd manage.

Xan had no illusions about the reception he might receive from his sons.  They were eighteen years old, young men, and they had been raised among their mother's people.  He knew there were those who considered the natives of the new lands savages, but Xan knew better.  They had their own traditions, laws and ways, but they were no more savages than the people of the orient or the Middle East.  It was only those who had never seen them who called them savages.  Like all men, they were capable of the same emotions, love, hate, the whole gauntlet.  He just hoped that the two would be willing to give him a chance and that they understood why he had never come looking.  Even now it was painful to remember Chantal, her grace and beauty; but that pain was duller and would continue to grow moreso as time went on.  The boys would remind him, but in a good way.  Boys ...  he had missed so much but so had she, and he might be able to watch them grow fully into men.  If, in time, he had to face the fact that they would not remain a part of his life, he would accept it. Somehow.

Shaking his head, he glanced back at the flat before stepping out and locking the door. He had learned long ago it was best not to speculate, to second guess.  One step at a time, and that first step would be taken as soon as he stepped foot on the Star and headed for Port Royal.  The rest ...  well, it was in the hands of Fate.


Date: 08-14-06
Poster: Jacob Anderson
Post # 18


It was nearly impossible to tell where the clan lands started, unless you knew the signs. Each used different ways to mark their boundaries. It could be marks on a tree, similar to those a deer or bear would make, the way rocks were placed or painted. In the case of the Horse Clan, it was a painting on a rock. They had few enemies and did not fear boundary disputes. As soon as the three investigators stepped onto their lands, they were watched. A well-marked path led to a meadow and then disappeared. Deer trails could be seen but none showed the marks of heavy travel. When the three entered, a youth appeared at the far end of the meadow. He didn't say a word, just stood and waited, his arms down at his sides, palms out to show he held no weapon.

Jacob eased his steed to a pause as he adjusted in his saddle. He knew they were being watched but he also knew they would not be harmed. The Shaman would make certain of that and they would know who the three were for the ones at the tavern. A quick scan of the terrain swept before moving forward to the field and bringing the horse to a halt, dismounting in a fluid way that bespoke he rode a lot. He placed a fisted hand to his chest in greeting the lad and waited.

Clark just rode along. Looooooking aaaaall arooooound. A pleasant ride, pleasant scenery, pleasant thoughts rambling about in his head.

The Shaman of the Horse Clan stood waiting for the three whites as they arrived at the edge of the village. Wrapped in a blanket, dark eyes were watchful, standing patiently until they were delivered to him. The knowledge of the failed coup rested within his head, along with the information the three came seeking.

Mercy was once again in her disguise as Marcus, her hat shielding her eyes again. She didn't like being watched like this, but had no fear of their being attacked. She imitated Jacob in the salute then waited for instructions.

The youth nodded once, motioning for the three to follow. The brush was thick until they came to another meadow, from there the village could be seen, on a raise. He pointed to where another brave stood, older and obviously a war chief from his headgear. He motioned for them to tie their horses near the Clan's mounts, then led them to the Shaman. Not a word spoken yet, even the children had grown silent with the appearance of the three. The entire village watched until they approached the Shaman, then went about their business once more.

He led the stallion but part way there the steed started sidestepping nervously. The faint rattling sound had his knife in hand as he moved away a few feet then back with the body of a rattler, head gone, to give to the boy. Too close in their path it might have struck or at least have the horses bolting. They made good eating. Once out of the meadow he noted the Shaman and nodded. A glance spared Clark and Mercy before he was heading there after tying off his horse with the others. No words spoken, only respectful gestures.

Clark just followed the actions of the others, slowing his pace when he needed to, swinging from horseback when he needed to, rambling along behind as he needed to. Holy Bull's Ring, look at that buck! Had to be a twelve-pointer. Were they going to use the antlers? Who managed that prize winner? Still with horse reins in hand, he turned as he passed the soon-to-be venison dinner, walking several steps in reverse to study the preparations underway. "Not a bit of waste." He muttered under his breath, impressed with the resourcefulness of these people. He nearly plowed right into Jay's back, but the young boy who had received the snake quick ran to take Clark's horse. Good thing too. Clark hadn't realized that Jacob had left his tied some ways back. He threw up a hand to the Shaman, quick like, then stuffed it in the pocket of his pants. All was good. Nothing amiss. No one was hurt. Nothing was broken.

He stood immobile as the third man nearly collided with the horse, recovering with a wave. A nod indicated they should come closer as a hand emerged from the blanket wrapped around him, pointing to the ground before him. They should sit. Without a word spoken, he seated himself on the ground, crossing his legs as he held a hand up, one of the braves handing him a peace pipe and a pouch. The Shaman made a show of filling the pipe as he waited, a quiet command issued in native that the travelers should receive food and water before discussions began.

Mercy glanced at the buck then looked at Clark just before he stopped. She let out a small sigh of relief then looked at the Shaman. When she saw the peace pipe, she groaned inwardly. She could handle it but wasn't sure about Clark. Then again, he had surprised her before. Which reminded her. She still had a question to ask him. Shaking her head, she turned her attention back to the Shaman as the order was passed along to the women of the tribe. She waited for Jacob to sit first, then Clark and finally she would.

He sat, imitating how the Shaman sat. Food was received and bits eaten along with drink. He knew he need not pig out but it was expected to share in their food. A sure good sign of being accepted. In all due respect he would wait for the Shaman to address one of them.

Seeing the pipe himself, Clark looked to Mercy. He could handle it but he wasn't sure about her. He sat following Jacob, not because he was following any order of protocol, but because that's when his knees bent to lower him to sit. The food was accepted with a smile of gratitude and he ate. And he remained silent. And he looked around. And he ate. And he plucked up a morsel that fell to this leg. And he ate.

A nod of satisfaction was given to see the three take food and drink, and the pipe without hesitation. It boded well for the forthcoming talk. Lifting a hand, he sent those milling about back to their duties and families so that they could talk undisturbed. Dark eyes surveyed the three, resting piercingly on Mercy the longest, yet he said nothing of her appearance as he plunged a hand into the pouch at his side. Removing a handful of sage and herbs, he tossed them with precise care onto the fire, studying the smoke as it rose from the flames. When the first billow rose past sight into the sky, his gaze touched on each face as he finally spoke. "You are welcome to the lands of the People of the Horse. Word has reached me of you, good words spoken. What brings you to our lands and fires?"

Mercy took one or two puffs of the pipe and managed to not cough. The tobacco was stronger than any she had tried. She didn't look at either Jacob or Clark instead concentrating on the food, though she did look up and meet the gaze of the Shaman when he studied her. She didn't think she would fool one of their nature.

He had watched Mercy but not any change in his expression to give away his thoughts. When the peace pipe was then handed to him he took three quick puffs, holding the last as he passed it onto Clark.. It was strong but he'd had such before. He let it ooze out his nostrils, looking like some dragon sitting there. "The sons of Xander McDonough, a brave chief," in his own right, "..of the sea." Such carried importance and importance mattered. "He was wed to one of the Bear Clan and had twin sons. We seek them for it was believed they were dead and time to reunite them with their father as sons should know their father."

The pipe actually hit his arm before Clark realized it was being passed to him. He had pitched forward, a hand flattened to the earth, to sniff at the aroma which filtered up with the Shaman's smoke. Sage. Mushrooms? Huh? Oh, the pipe. He nodded as Jay spoke, drawing in the pure essence of this special blend, but unlike Mercy or Jacob, his exhale came in short puffs out of his nose as he forced down a cough. It actually had a good lingering effect, after that first bite. It was Clark who handed the pipe back to the wise man, opening his mouth to speak and the rest of the smoke escaping from there. "We are in need of passage into the land of the Bear." A stifled cough. "To find them." The last three words flowed with the triumph over strangulation.

He nodded thoughtfully, watching their reactions to the blend in the pipe as he accepted it, taking a few more contemplative puffs before returning his gaze to the fire. What the man saw within was a mystery to everyone but him. "There is trouble with the People of the Bear. The Spirits speak of war that comes, and news borne on swift wings from the North. War between the Bear and the Snake is coming." More than that, he would not yet say.

They had heard rumors of trouble, but not of war. Mercy inhaled sharply, then blinked as her eyes watered from the smoke, refraining from waving her hand. She had questions, but again, waited to see if Jacob or Clark spoke them first. It seemed the right thing to do since she was pretending to be a youth.

"Then we should go this night if one of your braves would show us the way there? If there is trouble, we are warriors and here to help the sons." He took another puff of the smoke as the peace pipe made the rounds again. Less this time for what it contained or they would all be stoned out of their minds not being used to it. Clark would go off following some little bug and come up with the whole social structure of the millipede or such. Or how a fly crouches when it thinks it is in danger and why hard to kill. You have to wait until they uncrouch before slamming down your hand. Fly guts.

Yes...that...what Jacob said. Clark nodded as he accepted the pipe from Jay, inhaling and holding that smoke in his lungs, at the back of this throat, his nostrils before snorting it out in soft puffs of coughs. "At least as soon as possible, if you feel your people would not be placed in danger in helping us." He stroked his neck, swallowing hard, that burning sensation filled him from chest to eyes.

The shaman nearly chuckled to see how the pipe affected the three, puffing enjoyably on it as he considered their words and the will of the Spirits. War between the two tribes could spill south to the Horse, ultimately involving them if they did not make a stand first. Nodding to himself, he let the silence draw out while he weighed options and choices in mute communing with the Great Spirits. "You ask us to intervene in a fight not our own?"

Mercy was hoping the pipe wouldn't be passed around again. She watched the Shaman a moment before speaking out herself. "Yes, but would it not be to your advantage to keep a war from starting? Or engulfing all of the Clans. It could come to that eventually." She didn't have to try to keep her voice rough, the effects of the smoke did that quite nicely.

"Not asking, but if it is beneficial then it would be a choice. We only ask to be guided there safely to meet them and the sons we seek." Except in tribes such as these setup what happens to one affects the others. Only the Shaman would know if such intervention for them was a good omen by the dance of the fire. Was Clark turning a little red?, but he held it in with a forced grin and started to push up to stand. "I'll see to the horses." He offered the Shaman a nod, not doubting a bit that the man knew why he was having to take his leave in the middle of the discussion. "It was a great honor." He cleared his throat, and scuttled away. Depending on how long that discussion took, he might even have time to take a closer look at that buck. His steps sped up just a little and he made for the surrounding trees with his hand now clamped over his mouth.

Date: 08-25-06
Poster: Mercy LaCorte
Post # 19

The Battle

The Shaman did not accompany the PI's since his age made travel uncomfortable. He wasn't needed at any rate. The party was lead by their war chief and all of the warriors were armed. They were silent as they made their way on  foot through the forest. The war drums of the Snake had long since stopped their thrumming, and that did not bode well.

Jacob was impressed as he rode with the Horse tribe, he could feel their sense of pride as well he felt it himself. "Marcus, stay close to either Clark or me," with a slight pause, "or both if you cannot keep from the battle." Which he was not comfortable with. A glance to Clark as he was sure he felt the same before they drew close to the Bear clan's territory.

If Jacob's blood pulsed with excess adrenaline, if the backside of his eyes still felt a bit swollen against his brain, if he struggled with the dilemma of whether to lay low to his mount's back or to sit upright to see all around - then yes, Clark felt the same. He sliced a look Mercy's way with Jay's command and offered a silent nod. Clark was not a warrior but even he could feel the tension in the air. There was a battle pending. And they were wandering dead center of it. Wrong word! Dead! Rethink that word! Their 'positioning' was not the best at present.

The women, children and elderly of the Bear had been sent off to a place of safety when the war drums began to sound.  Kuwan and Kaliska were not among them. The two had sneaked off and were making their way to Port Royal, even as the fighting began. The Clan of the Snake had not bothered sneaking to the attack. They surrounded the rise where the encampment sat, yelling out taunts, and their war cries sending arrows flying into the encampment. This was only the beginning of the attack. They used the trees for shelter against the arrows of the Bear.

Yas fired arrows off each chance he could, answering the taunts of the Snakes with his own. He wouldn't admit that he was afraid, couldn't admit it. But facing death had him in a cold sweat. He glanced to see where the others of the tribe where. So far, none had been hit but it was only a matter of time.

White Bear did the same, twin brothers side by side sending off the arrows and returning the taunts. There were many of them as he kept up undaunted. He knew it might be their last stance together. "I'm proud to be your brother," this spoken low to his brother as he nocked another arrow to aim and fire.

Patwin knew that the fight had yet to seriously begin. He sent a few arrows back in the direction of the threat, but his blood raced for the battle to come. For the time being he sat with his back to a tree, and so, to the enemy...waiting. Soon enough the spirits would step in...and all of their fates would be decided.

As the Clan of the Horse grew near to the camp, they reined their horses in, then dismounted and motioned for the three PI's to do the same. There was still some distance to go, but they didn't want to warn the Snakes too soon. In her disguise as Marcus, Mercy had nodded agreement to staying close to either of the men. She didn't want them to have to worry about her, but knew they would. Slipping from her horse, she did her best to imitate the Horse warriors and remain silent.

Jacob was down from his steed as they were left a distance away in a wooded area. He kept close to Mercy and low undercover as he followed suit of the warriors in stealth. He kept track of both his comrades as they drew closer to the encampment that was under siege. Luckily it was the beginning but that could change swiftly.

Clark mimicked the actions of the others. He said not a word. He made not a sound. Fortunately, this time, his body cooperated.

The Snake warriors fell silent, the first sign that the battle was about to begin in earnest. With war cries sounding in unison, the  warriors surged forward, firing their arrows as they did. Some entered the camp, using their clubs to attack.

There wasn't much he could say but nod his head at his brother, reaching out to briefly clasp his arm in a warrior's hold. When the warriors of the Snake attacked, he began firing off arrows until they entered the camp. Drawing his knife, he yelled out his war cry and grabbed the wrist of one of the enemy as he brought the club downward. His blade flashed then turned dark with his enemy's blood. Leaving the man to fall, he went after another.

Matoskah was in his war dance. Blade in hand and club in the other as he was slashing and bashing his way through the Snakes. Their blood on him and not noticing if he got any wounds in the process. It was hard to tell but there were some but not enough to hinder his abilities. He would duck, even roll as one Snake warrior struck out and got one of his own tribe for White Bear was too fast, as he killed his tribesman. The one found a knife buried deep in chest and pulled away just as fast as Mat went onto the next.

A split second passed with Patwin's eyes closed in preparation when the Snakes warbled out their war cry. His breath was blown free from his lips and he pushed up with a spin, clearing the tree to join the fray. On occasion he caught a glimpse of one or the other twin or the others of the Bear as they met the attack of the opposing tribe. But for the most part, he kept his focus on defending himself and attempting to bring this matter to a speedy conclusion. The more Snake dead or surrendering, the faster this would be over. No Bear would surrender or retreat. The only way this would be over for Patwin would be victory...or death.

The sounds of battle could be heard as they grew near but there was a river to cross. The Horse warriors moved forward, wading across. The rains had been sparse. It would be an easy crossing. Mercy bit at her lower lip when she  heard the shouting. She glanced at her two companions before slipping into the cold water and following the warriors across.

So Jacob would be wet while fighting as he followed suit and soon reach the other embankment as they advanced on the fighting. They would soon be noticed like a swarm of locus barreling down to surround the whole encampment. By this time they gave out their warning war cries and it was up to the Snake tribe to cease or they would be into the fray. The other way outnumbered

Ohshitohshitohshitohshit. There seemed no way out of this now. Clark scrambled after the Horse warriors and his companions. As he crossed the water, his footing landed on a moss-lined rock, slick from the current, and it was a good thing the weather had been dry. He went down, face just inches from contact, but the splash sent up a spray of water under his chin, over his shoulders, against his chest. Probably a better thing for a Snake warrior had sent a trail of arrows in their direction which sailed right above Clark's head as he attempted to stand. Davis fumbled and groped for the blades he had on him, slapping away the splatter of water with his movements.

The war chief of the Snake heard the shouts of the Horse and shouted for his warriors to fall back. While they outnumbered the Bear warriors, they would be no match for the number of the Horse. As they faded back into the forest, arrows were still flying and then, all was still once more.

The Warriors of the Bear shouted taunts as the Snake retreated, some still fighting. Snow Brave was covered with blood, his own and others but his attention was not on the retreating warriors. Instead it was on the still form of their brother. Delsey lay still, an arrow the means of his death. Yas tilted his head back and yelled out his anger and sorrow, fists clenched tightly around the handles of his knives.

Matoskah took an arrow into his shoulder up high but he pulled it back out as it wasn't in that deep or hooked into the bone. He grabbed up an axe from a fallen Snake warrior and sent it sailing at the one catching him dead center in the forehead, he fell not far from where Delsey laid. A frown creased as he noticed his fallen brother. He was over to stand by him as the Snakes retreated. "He died an honorable death." Which didn't need to be said but was. They still had to come before the council again to find out their fate. Delsey at least found his.

Patwin shouldered the weight of one of his wounded tribal brothers, helping the man limp along as they surveyed the damage done. Delsey's fate was that of many of the Bear but more of the Snake. "Walk bravely the spirit path, My Brother." Patwin whispered to Desley as his gaze rested on his still, lifeless form. A heft of shoulder shifted the man's position slightly and he turned from the body which no longer housed the soul and sought out healing for the body he helped along. It was not his place to address the Horse tribe, it was his place to deliver the wounded ... and then to face what remained of his future.

The Snake had followed the river away from the camp. They would wait to see what the Horse planned before returning. Dekanawida, the War Chief of the Bear, came forward to greet those of the Horse while a runner was sent to bring back those who had gone into hiding. The healers who had remained began their work while those who were able gathered the dead, some chanting the song for their journey into the next world. Mercy had stopped to make sure Clark was all right but one of the warriors had touched her arm and motioned her to continue. Now she stood and watched. She had seen battles before but would never grow used to the sight.

He brushed off the healer after she set the one real wound as he would help to make the pier of sticks to rest their dead on. Once that was done would he wash off in the stream much later this night. The blood he wore was of may souls that would find the peace in the hunting grounds of fallen warriors no matter which tribe. As long as they fought bravely. Those of the Snake would be allowed to be taken away back to their tribe to be brought to their sacred burial grounds.

Snow Brave had a stab wound in his side that needed tending, and the wound to his head from before had split open again. He did not resist the healer but as soon as he moved to the next, he joined his brother in gathering the dead. The others of the tribe began to arrive, the women mourning their dead with wails and cries.

It was Dekanawida who saw the whites with the Horse and questioned their war chief, ignoring his own wounds while his braves were tended to. He was angry they were here and did not bother to hide it, though he expressed his thanks to the Horse for their help. He would be in charge until Kirima and Milap returned. Neither they nor Kuwanyauma and Kaliska were among those returning.

They had not needed to enter battle as the outcome was decided by their presence. Jacob moved amongst those of the Bear tribe, helping where he could. He got some strange looks even if his skin was of a darker bronze, he didn't really look like a warrior. He was looking for any of them that might remind him of Xander McDonough. Something about the eyes at least or lighter hued skin. He wasn't sure. Some refused his help but he was driven to do so until things were clearing up and he returned to where Clark and Mercy were. He didn't like slaughter and that was the stench of what was taking place here. He remained quiet until an opportunity opened up where one of them could find the brothers they sought.



Date: 08-26-06
Poster: Patwin
Post # 20

After the Battle

Patwin, where he stood with the injured warriors, watched as the others rejoined the group. Searching for two in particular, and one for the news that would have to be shared with her. Each face was searched, beyond each face to the faces beyond and still, there were no Kuwanyauma  and Kaliska. He had missed them. He had to have. With a nod to the healer who joined them, Patwin moved away. The foreign men with The Horse were not the only one's now looking for the twins.

The war chiefs of both clans were in a deep discussion. The Horse had brought the three to speak to the twins and they would not leave without doing so. Mercy watched the two then looked slowly around. She saw several young braves but from this distance, she wasn't sure if anywhere the twins. She didn't see two who looked alike. Finally, Dekanawida grunted his agreement and sent one of the returning youngsters to find White Bear and Snow Brave.

White Bear was helping to make the scaffolds and get the dead prepared to be placed on them. Delsey especially was seen to before he washed in the stream. He was silent and withdrawn with so many deaths, in a way  they were at peace while he was not. Once done he headed to find his brother and Patwin. He too noticed Kuwan and Kaliska were missing as the women, children and older ones rejoined the tribe. "Where are they?" He questioned one woman but she shook her head not knowing where they went, "I am not sure, they left hours ago to follow the path of their totems. This is all I know." A curt nod was given before spying the two he was looking for also. "Kuwan and Kaliska are missing," as he noticed Patwin still looking. It was then he noticed the Snakes' chief in discussion with theirs. A frown started to from that marked his brow along with it.

Jacob spotted two he felt might be them as he looked directly at Matoskah and then the other that looks so much like him. "I think they are the two we are looking for." Quiet words shared with Marcy and Clark. "Although I think we need to wait for one of the chiefs to present them." He could hope for if they didn't they still had their mission!

Clark lowered to sit on the ground, legs crossed, his blades eased back into their hiding places. If they were going to wait, he was going to make himself comfortable. What he had witnessed had affected him greatly. So many lives ended and yet, there was such a calmness that prevailed beyond it all. He'd have to make a note of all this. Yes, he definitely would.

Patwin caught White Bear's glance and nodded to him, not yet joining the twins as he turned and watched the unheard discussion between the leaders of the tribes. Communication came in more ways than words, and Patwin understood a good portion of what transpired just by the motion of hands, of heads, of eyes. This night and the aftermath of their actions had not yet ended.

Missing? Then we'll have to go look for them as soon as we can." Yas said quietly as he glanced around. "The Snake may have them." He looked toward the chiefs and the strangers just as the boy came from them. They were wanted by Dekanawida. Squaring his shoulders, he started for the group, ignoring his wounds, and the sorrow in his heart. He brought his fist to his chest, then stretched out his hand toward the war chief.

Dekan could speak English quite well, he just refused to. He turned and watched the youths approach then spoke in their language. "These men have come to speak to you. You must decide if you trust their words or not.

Mercy nodded as she looked at the two Jacob spoke of. When they approached, she too sat beside Clark, watching them beneath her hat. She also took note of the third. The war chief of the horse spoke in English. "These are the twins you seek. Yaskitchi and Matoskah. Snow Brave and White Bear."

"They better not have them." He knew how they would be treated after so many of their warriors died. They would use them to make up for the loss. "We can find out from the chief." He would know for they might use them to bargain for he and his brother. He would rather that then what they would do to them. It was time for the second judgment as a glance was given Patwin before squaring his shoulders and moving with his brother. A fist to his chest then out as he gave due respect in unison. A frown remained as he looked the three over and back with a nod given Dekan. "Speak why you seek us." Bluntly as his arms crossed over his chest. An inborn defiance much like his father possessed. Not that he knew it.

Jacob cleared his throat with a nod given Dekan first then back to the lads under a keen scrutiny. "Your father lives." Giving them that moment for it to sink in. "He was told that you were dead when your mother died giving birth to you. He had been deathly sick himself and all seemed to be so when he came from his fever. He went home but in all those years he was plagued by a dream of a child's cry. He hired us to find out once and for certain what was told him was in truth. We found it was not and here we are. He would like you to come back with us and meet him."

As the two males approached, Clark scrambled to his feet. "Holy Cow! It's Xander McDonough. You two...Good you see it Jay?" He didn't look in Jay's direction to get his opinion, just continued in his excitement. "Mercy! Can't you see it? Right there in the eyes!" Hopefully, none would notice his slight and would mistake it for just another exclamation even as he looked back down to the 'male' seated next to where he had been. He talked right over Jay, hearing all he shared more so because he had heard it before, but he was amazed... amazed...with the similarity of the pictures he had drawn of what these twins might look like and the actuality of it! "Around the mouth, too...Amazing. Truly amazing." He waved a finger between the two males as if to compare them in some way to their sire. "Wait until you see it...there is no mistaking it." Had there just been a bloody battle? Clark was from that realization to this new one! "This is uncanny." And on he went, moving from his place to slowly make a circuit around the group, pondering aloud in his amazement about blood lines and inherited features and all manner of Clark-like observations.

Yas didn't say a word as his brother spoke for them. Without looking at Mat, he too crossed his arms over his chest while the one male spoke of the reason they were here and the other ... prattled. A brow lifted as he looked at Clark a moment more then looked toward Jacob. "Our father is here, speaking to the Spirits. The one who gave us life means nothing to us. He waited until we were men to come find us." He didn't want to waste time with these white men.

Mercy looked up at Clark and nearly groaned out loud but with the way the man was going on, she hoped they only thought she was starting at him in disbelief. Still too upset to speak, she shook her head and looked at the two boys. The War Chiefs said nothing. This decision had to be the twins.

Matoskah grunted in agreement with his brother then in his language he said something to Yas about the one being gone in his head. He did his best to ignore the man, it was up to their chiefs to make a decision.

Jacob also inwardly groaned. "Yes they do Clark," motioning to where he could sit next to Marcus. Hint. Hint. Then back to the lads. "He was told you were dead and now that he has found out live, he is coming  to meet you for he cares. This was not his doing for was told you were dead as you were told he was dead. It is good with the spirits that you at least meet your father and then make a decision." Unless one was made for them for all that was going d

Like Clark could take a hint! "What do you mean he means nothing to you?" He stopped directly beside the twins, if he hadn't spoken, his mouth might be hanging agape. "He didn't wait until you were men to seek you out. He waited not at all! As soon as the spirits told him differently, he sent us to find you. Without delay. And we...placed our lives on the line..." Motioning to what was now cleared, but had once been. "to find the two of you. Don't think for a moment it was easy for us, by any means, to locate the both of you. Because the man who sired you and cared enough to attempt to find you with just a dream to guide him, sent us to you. You better rethink, you two. " In true Clark fashion, he was placing himself in harm's way. Whether by deeds or by words...and his words continued, mutterings about ungrateful lads and wasted lives as he wandered away. Away from them all, his attention semi-diverted by the precise stacking of the wood that made up the burial thrones.

The Shamans and Medicine Women were respect in all tribes even of the enemies for their connection with the Spirit world. Adsila had grown in her mother's footsteps and was now a ripe old age of seventy, an age rarely reached. Her body was twisted and curved much like her tribe's namesake and lent her even more importance that the snake was personified through her. They had lost many warriors in a battle that should have been theirs and the two that were at the crux of it still lived. Her grandson was amongst the dead, now she had none left. She came to the chiefs to demand retribution as a bony finger pointed at the twin warriors. She spat on the ground as she spoke in their language. "They are Tsvsgino, they are not of us in blood fully, the spirits are angry. Justice is demanded." The woman paused for only a moment for the actions of one she muttered in her language as being rabid. "They are tainted like this one." Using all she could to her advantage as an face older than time personified turned on the white men. Twisted mouth into an angry frown. One dark eye livid while the other was a milkish blue.

Matoskah's arms unfolded and gave a fisted hand to his chest in respect for the woman's station but her words were blasphemy to his ears, fury lit dark blue eyes as his jaw clenched tight. He would have to wait on his Chief and medicine woman's decision.



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