• Closed • On the scent

Seated on the shores of Lake Lovalus, Rharne serves as the home of the Lighting Knights, the Thunder Priestesses, and the Merchant's guild. This beautiful trade city is filled with a happy and contented people who rarely need an excuse to party.

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Faith Augustin Champion
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On the scent

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Faith hadn't asked why he wanted to do a quick detour; he'd tell her if he wanted to and it might be that he wasn't quite sure but was just preparing for emergencies or contingencies. Either way, she was content to give up the time, as long as they were quick. If he came back out with... but no, he came out with some wax and oil. It was esoteric enough that it was typically him, of course and so Faith just smiled and walked with him, the speed of her step telling the urgency she felt to get there.

Which, of course, they did. Right on time, it seemed. The man seemed agitated and worked up and Faith gave a slight jump of surprise when Padraig slipped an arm around her waist. Now didn't really seem to be the time to snuggle, she thought to herself but she said nothing, just letting him speak. It might have been better had he given false names, though, rather than their real actual ones. That would have been good to discuss, but still it might be worth to mention in case they... but Faith's train of thought stopped dead as she turned to look at Padraig with a slight raise of her eyebrow. Honeymooning? What was he doing? Oh, he was buying a horse for his new bride? Faith kept her gaze on Padraig for a moment and met his look eye to eye. Thankfully, she had been owned by Tristan Venora for a half-arc or more and he was rather prone to sudden, wild stories. He'd never pretended to be married, though. Still, she smiled at him as adoringly as she could muster in the moment.

She had to give it to Padraig, when he put his mind to it, he could talk. He talked the man down, explaining how Faith's heart was set on a horse. She turned to look at the man, Bill and nodded her head, agreeing with her new husband, of course. Why he was doing this was obvious, it was keeping the man talking but then, rather than go around to where the actual horses were, they made their way into the house. This didn't feel entirely like a good idea and Faith glanced up at Padraig as he ushered her in. One look at him, though, and she was reassured. He had a plan, it was fine. So, in through the gate and then in to the house.

It didn't take long. It was never going, to, really, Bill was at the point where he had to act. The woman here, she was the same as the others, all the others, she was the same as her and, as had happened four times before now, to Bill's mind and eyes, he stopped seeing Faith as the person she was and before him stood Catherine. But Catherine had brought another man home? Another man into his house and Bill knew that this could not be allowed, it could not continue. He had to do more than usual, at this point. He had to show them both whose house it was, who was in charge here. Yes, it was all clear to him and his mother, who was of course with him, approved. How dare that whore bring another man into his home? Bill was filled with fury and so was Mother.

Faith stepped into the house and was no more than three or four steps ahead of him as Padraig closed the door but it was enough, it would have to be enough for the man, after all. So Bill moved as Padraig was turning from shutting the door.

By the Immortals, the man was fast. Faster than either of them, than both of them.

He grabbed hold of Faith, who was half turned away from Bill anyhow, looking at Padraig as he closed the door. One hand closed, easily, around her throat and the size of his hand in comparison to her neck showed how big his hands were. Faith was a tiny person at the best of times and as his hand closed, it dwarfed her neck completely. His other hand wrapped around her front, pinning her arms to her side and pulling her close against him at a speed which must be surprising to them both. As he did that, as she realised that she couldn't have fought him, Faith realised that they had forgotten that small detail. He was skilled, not a novice at this. She might be able to take him in an unarmed fight, she thought with a calm detachment, but he was a lot stronger than her. The muscles which tensed in his arms were well defined and showed the arcs of training he had undergone ~ all the arcs since Catherine left him, in fact.

"One move and I'll snap her neck." Bill's voice was low and deep, different than it had sounded even just outside. He sounded like someone else because he was. When he was like this, he was the boy that Mother was proud of. "Undo the sword, drop it there. I won't hesitate, she knows. Tell him, Catherine."

Faith's eyes were fixed on Padraig, watching and waiting to see what he did. She was afraid and it showed, but her fear was as much for Padraig or even more so. She pushed it away, there was no place for fear here it did no good. "Do what he says. It's fine." The guard were coming, they both knew it. He liked to kill people slowly, they knew that, too. She just relaxed in his arms, breathing deeply as he pulled her as close as he could against him.

If Padraig complied, then Bill had to get them both restrained and he knew it. He couldn't think of how, in truth, but Mother would tell him what to do next, he was sure.

She always did.
word count: 1015
"Every evil has its good, and every ill an antidote."

~ Rharne HQ
Dust Quarter Satellite Clinic ~ Order of the Adunih~Soup Kitchen & Community Center
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On the scent

If the guards got there in time and they managed to survive all of this, the two of them, then there'd be words once they returned to their rooms. Padraig was fairly sure of it. His introduction of them as man and wife had surprised Faith, no denying. And in truth it had surprised him too.

But questions. About why he'd introduced her as his wife. Why they'd gone in without a solid plan. But Padraig had a plan. He just hadn't quite mapped it all out yet. He would though, soon as he could. The bits of clay pressed into the locks ought to allow the guards to rush in without needing to knock down the gate or the door. But Bill was fast, and he had Faith before either of them could speak or act quickly enough to stop him.

Padraig wasn't afraid for himself, but he'd never known fear before, like that of seeing the man's hands wrapped round Faith's neck. His eyes locked on hers, willing her to remain calm, willing himself to remain calm while his mind raced.

And then when he was told to remove his weapon and drop it, while he slowly unbuckled it from his hip, he took a good look around the room. And there. There was the next step in his plan. Nearby them all was what could only be described as a shrine. An ornately carved table with clawed feet, and on it a portrait of the man's mother. A few candles, a bottle of perfume, and an urn. There was only one thing that folks put in an urn. So there too was the man's actual mother.

As Faith had relaxed, so too had Bill's hands relaxed round her throat. They were both right, he couldn't anger his mother by killing his latest victim right away. But Padraig wanted to be sure that he didn't reflexively do it. But he also had to be sure that he didn't allow himself to be restrained or removed in such a way that he'd be no use to Faith at all.

His gaze lingered on the shrine, and Bill's hands had moved from Faith's throat to her shoulders and down to her arms where he gripped her tight. They tightened a little bit more as he grew impatient with Padraig. "I said drop it!" he snapped, but at the same time his gaze followed Padraig's and his eyes narrowed. Too late though. Instead of dropping his weapon, assured that this might be the only chance that he got, he swept it, sheath and all towards the shrine, clipping the bottom of the urn just as he intended.

The thing tilted, wobbled up on its bottom edge, gave a spin and began toppling towards the floor. "Mother! No!" Bill shouted and flung Faith aside as he lunged, trying to catch the urn before it crashed onto the marble tiled floor. But this time, Bill wasn't fast enough. The urn hit the floor, shattered, and mother was scattered about even as the big man desperately flung himself in the way. "Mother, no! Why?!" he shouted, and for a trill or three had forgotten them both.

It wouldn't last and Padraig knew it. So as soon as the big man with his now ashen, tear stained face began to get up with a new sort of rage written all over him, Padraig lunged. Bill was driven by rage, the other one driven by nothing but a desire to protect Faith and it seemed for a moment that rage would win out.

He hoped to get in a blow or two, two rights, maybe a left, before the man had regained his balance, enough to take him back down. But it was like hitting a wall and Bill wouldn't go down easy.

But Bill relied on brute strength, Padraig on quickness and flexibility and while he'd ultimately end up with a bloodied nose, a bruised hand and a black eye, ultimately the big man would topple onto his backside near where Faith had been shoved to the side. While the scuffle had caused mother's remains to be scattered and dusted in streaks across the floor.
word count: 730
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Faith Augustin Champion
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On the scent

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She had to keep calm, she knew, because if she lost control or let fear overtaker her, then Padraig would end up doing something reckless and get himself hurt. So, she kept her gaze locked on his and did her best to smile a little. If he could but read her thoughts he would have heard her willing him to keep calm, it was all fine. She just kept her gaze on him, but she could, already that he wasn't going to be able to do anything like just go with it. The man wasn't going to hurt her, not for trials, she knew. She'd seen what he did, after all, and the Lightning Knights were coming.

It was very clear and very logical to her, there wasn't a risk here. Or no more of a one than when they'd walked in to the house. It was when she looked at his eyes, though, seen the expression there that she understood. His fear was for her and he couldn't play along with something which involved this, he just couldn't. She couldn't argue with him, in truth, because the simple fact was that, should roles be reversed, neither could she. So, she tried to let him know with the smallest of nods that all was well and what he did, whatever he did, was fine with her as she sent a prayer to Vri for the man that she loved so overwhelmingly and to Famula that they might both live through this trial. If they did, she was going to kill him herself, she considered.

The feel of Bill's hands sliding down over her shoulders and down her arms gave Faith a sense of disgust that she couldn't quite hide. She closed her eyes for a few trill as his hands moved, just at the inimacy of the gesture, but he never lost his grip enough that she could get free. Whilst her eyes were closed Padraig's gaze fell to the table, and the urn on it. Had she been looking at him, had she worked out just what exactly he was going to do, Faith would have reacted and very much so. The tightening of his grip on her and the snapped command to Padraig caused her to open her eyes and look and Faith's expression showed her surprise, but she had no chance to do more than that as Bill flung her. As he did, Faith had a split trill to consider that she flew far too often for someone who didn't like heights.

Bill, meanwhile, reacted out of pure fury. This man who Catherine had brought to his door was trying to harm his mother. His Mother! Bill didn't agree with this whole stupid tradition of burning bodies and had wanted to have Mother kept quite whole in the house. He was sure, after all, that a woman so very pious would have remained unharmed by the ravages of time. He'd had to give in and have her cremated, though, because they were obviously starting to think that he was quite mad. So, he'd insisted that he be taken out in a small boat alongside the funeral pyre and, when it was done he had collected up some of mother's ashes to bring home. She had to be home with him, she'd told him, so that they could carry on the work that they had to do. He'd brought her home and this man.....

Pure white fury overtook Bill as he flung Catherine and leapt to try and save his poor, poor mother but this unmitigated bastard was too quick and the urn fell, spilling its contents as it did. He couldn't say how long he knelt there, but he knew it wasn't long because then the white fury turned into boiling, burning rage. The blows Padraig rained on him before he got up he felt, but he ignored and really, it was that ignoring of the damage he was taking which would be his ultimate undoing. He was so intent on beating Padraig to a bloody pulp that he missed the fact that the same was happening in reverse. Still, Bill was pleased at the blows to the face which he landed on Padraig yet it was a combination of sheer determination on Padraig's part and Bill's concern with trying not to step in or on the ashes on the floor which led to Padraig landing the final blow which knocked Bill off his feet. He sprawled, half conscious, next to Faith who was trying to scramble up having hit the wall with quite some force and slid down it.

It was that moment that two of the Lightning Knights, having heard the commotion as they approached, burst through the front door, with a number of their order visible behind them. As soon as the Knights arrived, they took stock in a few seconds and the whole situation descended into quite a different kind of chaos. At the sight of the Knights, Bill started to move, lunging at the knights with the intention of killing them all. Nothing, after all, could be allowed to stop him from doing mother's work and he was so close. So close. This time, Catherine would die and then Mother would come back to him, he was sure of it. She had told him, after all.

The experience for Faith and Padraig was one of speedy efficiency on the part of the Lightning Knights. Once Bill was restrained and taken away, the two of them were taken into the living room and questioned, Faith was allowed to tend to Padraig's face as that happened. Their questions were clear and concise and, when the building itself had been secured and searched they were taken to the Guard House and questioned again. It was obvious, though, that the Lightning Knight knew a lot already by the time they were taken to the guard house; their treatment was polite, courteous and concerned. They had one of their medics check them both over and they were questioned together, having been given hot, sweet tea to drink. Faith at least suspected it was for her, she hadn't stopped trembling since the whole thing ended. After they had shown them the evidence, talked it all through and given every conceivable detail, the pair had been allowed back to their room at the Order with a request to come back in a few trials for any further questions.

The last thing that the man who was questioning them did was thank them. It seemed that, in fact, this man Bill was the Strangler. There was evidence in the house that he had kept souvenirs from each victim and the two of them were escorted out of the Guard House and left to walk home in the dark which was, at least, a little bit safer than it had been just the night before.
word count: 1187
"Every evil has its good, and every ill an antidote."

~ Rharne HQ
Dust Quarter Satellite Clinic ~ Order of the Adunih~Soup Kitchen & Community Center
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On the scent

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Name: Faith

Knowledge:
Location: Rharne
Location (Rharne): Glass Quarter
Location (Rharne): Sarah’s Silks
Location (Rharne): Catherine Tate’s Home
Location (Rharne): Bill Frencas’ Home
Lightning Knights: Swift and professional
Dafari: Employed at Sarah’s Silks
Catherine Tate: Perfume Shopkeeper
Catherine Tate: Looks exactly like the Zi’da 716 serial killer victims
Catherine Tate: The events that transpired between her ex, her ex’s mother, and herself
Bill Frencas: Catherine Tate’s ex-boyfriend
Bill Frencas: Abused and abusive
Bill Frencas: The Strangler
Padraig: Would give up everything for you
Padraig: Eccentric
Padraig: Would do anything to protect you
Detection: Pay attention to the small details
Detection: How to detect small changes in a person’s facial expression
Investigation: A theory without proof is just a theory
Investigation: How to connect evidence in order to build a theory
Persuasion: Sensitive subjects sometimes require a more empathetic approach
Persuasion: How to use body language to persuade someone to relax
Interrogation: Friendly questions work well with people who aren’t threats
Psychology: Human contact can help others relax
Tactics: There is safety in numbers
Deception: Never use your real name when telling a dangerous lie
Business Management: Target your product to a specific market
Slavery: The purpose of the freedom brand
Philosophy: Love is alchemy

Loot: +250 gn from your bounty reward to split with Padraig as you please.
Injuries: A lightly bruised neck that will take 7-10 trials to fully heal.
Fame: +2 for supporting a popular cause (hunting down The Strangler), +2 for solving a mystery (The Strangler), +3 for timely delivery of needed goods (hunting down The Strangler before he murdered another woman), +2 for enforcing a city law (no murdering!), +1 good deed for ridding Rharne of The Strangler, +1 good deed for walking Catherine home, +2 PC witness to Padraig's act of heroism
Devotion: N/A

Story: 5/5
Collaboration: 5/5
Structure: 5/5
- - -
Name: Padraig

Knowledge:
Location: Rharne
Location (Rharne): Glass Quarter
Location (Rharne): Sarah’s Silks
Location (Rharne): Catherine Tate’s Home
Location (Rharne): Bill Frencas’ Home
Dafari: Employed at Sarah’s Silks
Catherine Tate: Perfume Shopkeeper
Catherine Tate: Looks exactly like the Zi’da 716 serial killer victims
Catherine Tate: The events that transpired between her ex, her ex’s mother, and herself
Bill Frencas: Catherine Tate’s ex-boyfriend
Bill Frencas: Abused and abusive
Bill Frencas: The Strangler
Faith: Would change nothing about her past for you
Faith: Spent most of her life thinking of the needs of others
Faith: Considers your joint needs, not just yours or hers
Tactics: There is safety in numbers
Tactics: The importance of planning ahead
Tactics: Create a distraction to keep the enemy busy
Investigation: How to connect evidence in order to build a theory
Investigation: Ask questions to glean information
Investigation: Ensure you have privacy when sharing information about sensitive or secretive topics
Acting: How to improvise a character
Acting: Use precise details to truly become the character
Persuasion: Ask obvious questions to persuade them of your own view
Persuasion: How to strategically use gender to persuade
Storytelling: How to improvise a story
Psychology: The importance of gender and human relations
Unarmed Combat: How to throw a punch
Slavery: The purpose of the freedom brand
Philosophy: Love is alchemy

Loot: N/A
Injuries: A bloodied nose, a bruised hand, and a black eye that will take 10-14 trials to heal.
Fame: +2 for supporting a popular cause (hunting down The Strangler), +2 for solving a mystery (The Strangler), +3 for timely delivery of needed goods (hunting down The Strangler before he murdered another woman), +2 for enforcing a city law (no murdering!), +1 good deed for ridding Rharne of The Strangler, +1 good deed for walking Catherine home, +4 for victory in single combat
Devotion: N/A

Story: 5/5
Collaboration: 5/5
Structure: 5/5
- - -
Comments: Thank you both so very much for your patience! This thread was a pleasure to read, and I apologize for taking so long to review it. If I’ve given you multiples of a knowledge, please feel free to disregard with my apologies.

Faith, I always enjoy reading your threads. I really appreciate the small bits of humour you inject into your posts and also really liked that you brought Bill’s point of view into the story. The way you wrote him gave an extra bit of excitement to the thread, and I thought you did a lovely job of bringing his freaky self to life.

Padraig, your character is such a pleasure. He works well with Faith and clearly sees their relationship as a partnership. I particularly enjoyed his creative problem solving in this thread, especially when he pretended to be a honeymooner and then developed the idea to stop the gates from locking by using clay. Nicely done! Both solutions seemed to fit well with his character, which I really appreciated.

My only comment to you both would be that the split posts were a bit jarring to the story (ie. the parts where Padraig and Faith are replying to each other back in the house while also being present elsewhere during the investigation). It felt as though the first post needed to give them a bit more time to respond to each other so that they could finish the conversation before moving forward. The suggestion I’d give here is to minimize same-post time jumps in order to give your partner a chance to respond and help the story flow a bit more smoothly. I definitely understand that sometimes this can be challenging with RP (especially if you both didn’t expect the conversation to continue), but I did want to mention it.

Overall, a really exciting thread and a great conclusion to The Strangler investigation! That 250gn reward is definitely well-deserved. (Now go take that honeymoon! :P)

If you feel I've missed anything or if you have questions about your review, please don't hesitate to send me a quick PM. Thanks!
word count: 1012
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