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Thread: (M) The Treasure of the Lost Mountains IC (bluemoon x Siks apocy RP) (M)

  1. #161
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    Default Co-post--the visit

    It was only a short while after their little chat that Ezra exited the diner with Aidan at her side. There were several soldiers waiting outside, and although they did not put a hand on the scavver, the threat was evident enough with how close they moved in to surround the couple. She offered them a smile that was not reflected in her hazel eyes, then kept her attention straight ahead, ignoring the townsfolk that watched them pass. Within ten minutes they were shepherded inside the church, Aidan sending the men ahead to prepare the prisoner for a visitor.

    As soon as the guards left, Ezra was directed out of the chapel and led to one of the guest rooms. It was where she and Jackal would have been housed if things had gone according to her plans. There was a large bed pushed off to one side and a wardrobe leaning against the wall. Small, but comfortable, it would meet the needs of most for a short stay. She had barely stepped inside before Aidan touched her arm gently.

    “I will have clean clothes brought for you...and after your ‘visit’ with Mr. Lawless, you will see to getting ready for tonight. Agreed?”

    Ezra nodded, her lower lip slipping between her teeth as she considered the preparation required for the ceremony. She had never attended one, but knew well enough what was expected of her. Hell on Earth, she thought, then swallowed hard. She would do whatever was required...many times over if needed...to get the plan rolling.
    ----------------
    In the several minutes that transpired while Ezra changed and waited for her escort, four soldiers busied themselves with cleaning up the prisoner that lay on the floor of his cell, his chains slack, but the threat of punishment imminent if he tried to resist. Cold water was thrown on his prone body, both to clean and rouse him at the same time. A piece of stale bread was set beside him, as well as a cup of broth, neither of which had been offered prior.

    “Perk up Jack,” one of them hissed, poking the man in the ribs with the barrel of his gun, “..ya got company coming. Gotta look yer best.” Laughter followed his words as the men prepared to file out, the sound of footsteps now coming down the long corridor.

    The lawman growled lightly as the water was thrown on him and despite being stiff from pain and his confinement he easily got to his feet, the nerve quickly flickering away from the eyes of the four guards as they saw his speed and almost dead gray eyes. But he didn't attack them, even Jackal knew he wouldn't be able to take all four of them...not in his current state.

    The guards managed to recover their composure and quickly left tossing an old towel down for him to dry himself off with. With another low growl he lifted the towel and scrubbed himself as best as he could. Dried blood and dirt flaked off his thin body, but the scars and new wounds would still be red and angry looking, some of them even beginning to bleed again.

    There was only one person who'd come visit him, and it made him sigh. He told her to run...to get Matches and Sammy to safety. He gave them the map, that was all they needed, why was she still here? Sitting down on the ground he let out a low sigh ignoring the food and tossing the towel into the corner of his cell.

    Just as the lawman sat, the familiar voice of his lover filtered down the passageway, her tone angry as she argued with one of the guards. Aidan's name was thrown out and the discussion ended abruptly, the situation seeming to be worked out as she came around the corner and roughly brushed off the hand on her arm.

    "Unlock it," she said, authority surrounding her words. Her gaze shifted alternately between her escorts, the guard on her left pulling out a key and opening the door wordlessly. It was only then that Ezra turned her attention to Jackal, her face holding steady as she entered the cage, the slightest flinch occurring when the bars were slammed shut.

    "Jack," she said, falling to her knees beside him. She reached out and took his hand, her eyes roving over his naked torso with dismay. "I'm so sorry lover." She lifted her gaze, her expression soft on the outside, but a deeper passion burned within. Anger. Hatred. Her mouth opened slightly and she leaned towards him, her lips meeting his gently in a kiss.

    As Ezra touched him the lawman couldn't help but flinch lightly at the contact. The False Men of the Cloth had dragged razor blades across his palm and fingers, not enough to make them inoperable, but the wounds were still quite raw and the contact sent pain racing up his arm. It caused him to yank his hand back and press it to his chest the blood smearing over his chest some. "Ezzy." Was all he could say before she kissed him. The bastards had avoided damaging his lips...about the only things that didn't get torn apart in the past couple of days.

    One of the guards scoffed and banged the bars. "Hey this ain't a conjugal visit...so quit your conjucating!"

    Jackal shot the man a dead-eyed glare which shut him up, but he still pulled back slumping against the wall the contact making him flinch some more, but the sudden cold of the wall soothed the pain some. "What are you doing here Ms. Bastian? Didn't he get to you?" Jackal asked his voice soft and weak sounding. His eyes had lost some of their fire as he stared at the woman he loved with a listless gaze.


    The hint of a frown passed over her lips as she regarded him solemnly. "Who lover? Did who get to me?" She feared the worst, that his body was already raging with fever and his mind affected. She had to know, or else all was lost. She leaned towards him again, knowing the contact would be painful...but unavoidable.

    "Please Jack...don't pull away."

    Did her eyes convey sorrow? Grief? Loss? She let her shoulders sag, her breath escaping her lips heavily. Cool hands pressed into his shoulders, tugging firmly to pull him away from the wall so she could wrap her arms around him. Her embrace was tight, providing support to his sagging body and holding firm.

    Again the banging on the bars. "No touching!"

    "Told ya we shouldn't let 'er inside."

    "Hey!"

    Ez ignored them, her head turned towards Jackal's ear, her breath puffing softly against his skin. "They're safe Jack..." she whispered. "Matches found us. There's a Resistance. I just need you to hold on for one more day. Stay strong. Be ready."

    Jackal's whole body erupted in burning pain as her clothing and skin rubbed over even more of his still bleeding wounds, but he couldn't bring himself to push her away, at least not as violently as he should. He endured the pain for a few seconds before he mustered up the strength to push out of her grip, sweat already coating his body, the pain causing him to want to shrink inside himself. "Don't let them see...you are my only weakness." He whispered through tightly clenched teeth. "They're desperate to break me...and...only...you can give...them...the means." His body sagged again, the weight of his torture and the pain of knowing Ezra had climbed back into the Lion's Den for him, crushing him more than anything. He reached for the now cold broth, grabbing the bowl and turning, trying to throw it at the woman. His strength left him and only caused it to upturn a few inches away from her before he collapsed onto his back. "Get...away...from...me...Ms. Bastian." He managed to say before his head dropped onto the stone and his eyes shut.

    The door opened and the voice of one of the guards barked up, not even bothering to hide the smugness in his voice. "Well looks like the big bad wolf is good and broken now. Even throwing away his first meal in a few days. Come on girly, you've made Mr. Bishop wait long enough." He gripped Ezra's arm and yanked her up to her feet.

    "No!" she cried, her resistance only going as far as her plea as she allowed herself to be pulled from the cell like a weak child. Her heart ached at what she had caused, salty tears flowing down her cheeks in an emotional display, an easier feat than she would have imagined. How much she had changed since meeting the gunman, her weak feminine feelings called upon to suit her needs.

    "Jackal?"

    Her cry was met with silence as she then looked upon the faces of the guards before her, confusion etching its way into her features.
    "He doesn't call me that!" she said as she shook off the hands that were still gripping her. Rolling out her shoulders she huffed out a breath and wiped the wetness from her face, taking one last look at Jack as he lay prone on the cold stone floor.

    The Guard laughed mockingly letting Ezra pull away. "Well sure sounded like he does now. Our Leaders are quite good at reeducation, and now that they've broken the most feared killer in Ragged America no one will ever question them." He roughly shoved Ezra forward. "This'll be the talk of the Ceremony. They might even bring him out as proof." The man laughed loudly as they all moved back down the corridor.

    Aidan was waiting for them in the Chapel, his hands clasped and his head down in prayer. The very picture of virtue and goodness. He heard Ezra and the Guards enter, a small smile crossing his face as he saw the woman's face. And a secret nod from the guards told him the rest of what he needed to know. That Jackal had broken ties with the last person who cared if he lived or died, now the questioning should go much easier.

    Still doing his best to hide his smugness, he hid it under the pretense of finishing some inane prayer before he turned to others. "I hope everything went well Ezra?" He asked sounding almost genuine.

    "Everything went...fine," she said, adding a bit of hesitance. She did not meet his gaze, afraid her true feelings would surface. She just needed a bit more time to get herself under control. Until then, let the bastard think what he would, she had at least managed to get her message through to Jackal.

    Sighing, she finally lifted her gaze to his. It was time to dive into the deep end. The cleansing...the ceremony...atonement...then the obligation to be met. It was all part of the agreement that came with giving up her life to live in the town where she grew up. ...and it was all built on a pack of lies. One piled on top of the other. But she only had to make it through tonight. The rest would dissolve when she pulled a knife across the bastard's throat.

    She smiled. "I gather you are waiting for my answer." Her hands went behind her back where she folded them together, squeezing until her fingers turned red, then white. "I'll join you. But the conditions are still in place. Mr. Lawless lives or I'll forfeit my end."

    Aidan gave a glowing smile and bowed lightly. "Of course Ezra, I may be a lot of things...but I always keep my word. All will be made right tonight, that I can guarantee. Eustace, please escort Ms. Bastian to her room she will need her rest for tonight." The Guard who hadn't mocked Ezra nodded and ushered her from the Chapel. Once they were gone Aidan and the loud-mouthed guard shared a low chuckle. "Seems everything is coming together nicely, Zedekiah, make sure the dog stays with us for a few more hours. The old man and I have plans for that one, he'll be a guest of honor at the Atonement tonight, we may have broken his body and mind, but his spirit remains strong even with him casting the whore aside. But seeing her come back into the Fold will break his spirit...and then...we can use him to fix the rest of the world."

    Zedekiah let out a low malicious chuckle pulling the cattle prod off his belt and clicking it on. "Oh it'll be my pleasure sir. That bastard killed a lot of my friends in his genocidal crusade, it'll be nice to get some justice for them." Aidan smiled and patted the cruel man on the shoulder before leaving the Chapel to begin his own preparations. "Justice for all my friend...justice for all."

  2. #162
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    The day dragged on into night the town a buzz with the anticipation the Atonement Ceremony always brought. The confessions, the repentance...the hopelessness that some of them might not be around to see the morning. Like mice trapped in a maze as water slowly began to wash through the twisty corridors. Taking away the weak and impure...but allowing the devout to remain afloat and see another year of life before the Sword of Damocles came their way again.

    The state of constant damnation and doom had been slowly crushing the life from the denizens of Endver. The children suffering the worst of every generation, girls inducted into Theophyllis's teachings coming out too broken to form proper relationships, boys forced to watch their sisters be destroyed and faced with the trouble of finding their own sweetheart because all women they see are just as broken or told they were nothing but whores and not worth settling down with. Less children were born each year, soon the town would shrivel up and die, but no one could stop it now. They were all broken spirits too scared to fight back and too weak to escape Endver and survive this deep in Ragged America's wastelands.

    The people milled about cleaning themselves and putting on the pure white clothing there all expected to wear to Atonement. Dresses for the girls and women and a simple pair of slacks and a shirt for the boys and men. Every scrap of clothing was expected to be immaculate and clean, this was a ceremony of renewal and purity. At least that was what they were all told, though no one left the ceremony as pure and white as they first were. It wasn't always brutal, but the pressure and shame caused some people to wet themselves or pound themselves into the dirt around the center stage. Some of the more zealous townspeople brought homemade flails or old switches of plastic or metal to punish themselves with. It was a very rare occasion to see the Atonement grounds clean of blood after all was said and done. Even those who weren't directly confessing would flog themselves in shame.

    The rest of the town simply stared dully on just existing in the moment waiting for their time to confess for whatever sins they may have committed real...or imagined. All had sins and both Theophyllis Cain and Aidan Bishop knew their sins before they did and if they didn't confess them the men would have them dragged into the center ring and forced to confess under the pain of a "Pure Cleansing" white hot brands were pressed to their flesh until they screamed their crimes to the heavens above and begged for forgiveness. Sometimes the pain was too much or the heat caught their clothing ablaze and they were "purged of sinful living" Dying by fire was considered the ultimate repentance and those that burned were sent directly into the Pure Light of afterlife and spared the fires of the Radiated Hell the impure were sent to. It was desirable to continued existence as sinners and monsters, but very few had the courage to endure the pain of a Pure Cleansing.

    But the Leader suspected one among them could endure a Pure Cleansing. Jackal Lawless was legendary for his resistance to dying. Many of the tales they dismissed as fanciful embellishments, but the tortures they had subjected him to would've killed any other man in the town. Themselves included, but this gave them both a devious idea to ensure their continued power. The usual confessions would commence, and the beaten and battered body of Jackal would be stretched before the alter for the entire time. Squelching any rebellious elements that might seek to disrupt the Lord's Work, the man would be alive to watch their influence over the minds of Endver's people. But it wouldn't be until it was Ezra's turn to confess that their true plan would be revealed.

    Once Jackal's formal lover had confessed and converted it would be time for a "special presentation" The feared lawman...broken...bleeding...and nearly lifeless in their hands would be dragged forward and given his chance to confess. They knew already he wouldn't say anything even if he was able, so they would take it as an invitation to begin Jackal's purifying process. Like the others the fiery brands would be pressed to his skin. They were sure even a man like Jackal couldn't remain silent at being burned alive he would say anything to make it stop. He would beg for it and being the gracious spiritual leaders they were, they would grant it and then the formally untouchable gunman will be at their mercy and they would use him to cleanse the entire wasteland. Ragged America would be rebuilt as they saw fit. For He who controls the Devil will control the fate of mankind. And if Ezra saw the display and it brought her back into the Fold seeking comfort...well Aidan would happily give it to her.

    But there was still much to do before they could begin. The ceremony would begin at dusk and carry on well into the night until every town-person had either confessed or been cleansed by fire. Of course Theo, Aidan, and the guards would be expunged from confessing. They were chosen to carry on the will of the Almighty so they were already as pure and without sin as you could get. A rigged system used to control the weak and ignorant. Like every other government before it.

    Unbeknownst to the ones in power though...this would be the last year of Atonement and their tyranny was at an end. Even if their plans for Jackal and Ezra worked they would need to kill almost half of the town before they could enjoy their new toys. The Farmers, Merchants, Craftsmen, Guards all the people a town needs to survive would be gone. And once word left Endver's walls that a crazed and even more bloodthirsty Jackal Lawless was one of them the other towns would barricade themselves up and the Traders would be warned to stay far away from the doomed town. It was the part of the plan Becca and the other leaders of the Resistance kept to themselves. They had plans in place to kill Theo, Aidan and anyone around them with improvised explosives should their original plan fail. They could survive with a third of the town left in rubble from the blast, but they all knew no one could survive with Theo and Aidan in power. And if that meant killing Jackal and Ezra in the process?...Well that was a sacrifice they were willing to make as long as it meant they would be free.

    Sammy, Matches, and Deck had snuck into Endver to finalize their plans. Word was sent to Ezra to meet at Becca's house for some early dinner. The coded message of "Kufu Burgers being on the menu along with some fine desert rose tea." It held information that only Ezra would know, that being the name of Jackal's mother and the recipe he had shared with her and Deck early on in their journey.
    Last edited by SikstaSlathalin; 09-14-2020 at 11:14 PM.


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  3. #163
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    Default Into the Fire

    After being delivered to her room, Ezra paced the small space until a thick layer of sweat coated her skin. She was not ready for tonight, nothing could ever prepare her for the humiliation she would be forced to submit to...admitting her sins...begging for forgiveness...receiving the punishment deemed appropriate. Nearly growling with frustration, she sat on the edge of the bed, her hand reaching between the mattresses for the comforting feel of the blade she had hidden inside its layers. It was a shame she would not be able to take it with her tonight, but there was no way to conceal it...her role requiring her to be stripped and searched...nothing left to chance.

    Puffing out a sigh, she pulled herself back onto the bed and laid out on top of the blankets. She still had a few hours before she would be taken to the baths, the least she could do was try to pass the time with sleep. Her lids were heavy, but as soon as she closed them the image of Jackal invaded her thoughts. His body, already heavily scarred, had suffered torture beyond her imagining. ...and for what? What was it the leaders wanted from him? If it was for the location of the imagined treasure, surely they would have used their methods on her instead. She was the weaker subject.

    Her thoughts were her demons, and when she finally did fall into slumber, it was only to dream of hell on earth, fiery fires of damnation cleansing the sinners of all their tribulations. Hours of restlessness passed, until a firm knock on the door awakened her with a start. Eyes flying wide, Ezra reached for her guns, her hands grabbing at the empty air by her hips as the door opened, the light from the hall blocked by the young man who had brought her here earlier...Eustace. His uniform had been changed, the creases tight and the fit immaculate. The guard gave her a slight nod before entering, one hand held behind his back as though in a military pose. Forcing herself into a sitting position, she watched the man cautiously, her breathing starting to quicken as he approached her bed.

    “It’s time for your bath,” he said almost apologetically, the hand that had been hidden brought forward and held out towards her. Between his fingers was a slip of paper, the edges crumbled from being kept inside his closed palm. “It’s from Becca,” he added barely above a whisper. “Once you finish your bath and are dressed, I can get you to her home, but only for a short while. Your presence will be expected in the auditorium within an hour.”

    ----------

    Ezra was taken down a set of stairs carved from solid rock and opening onto a deep crevice, the likes of which she had never seen. Inside the mountain that lay within the borders of Endver, a network of hot springs had been discovered only recently, their purpose now merely for bathing. It was warm and a layer of moisture covered everything, evaporating steam rising to the ceiling of the immense cave. In awe, the woman could only stare...it was no wonder the town had prospered, there was little they did not possess.

    Snapped back into awareness by the voices of the soldiers around her, Ezra sighed with resignation as the cleaning process was ordered to begin. Eustace stood nearby as the scavver stripped, his face flushing red as he moved closer to check her for concealed weapons, the pat down unnecessary, but required. If not for the other sets of eyes on them, she was sure things would have occurred differently. As it was, there was nothing but relief filling her once she was allowed to submerge herself in the waters.

    For the first time in what seemed ages, Ez was able to run soap along her skin with the accompaniment of a soak in hot water. Her hair fell down over her shoulders in waves once she released it from its band, the strands longer than she could remember wearing them, the time on the road preventing her from cutting their length. She washed herself thoroughly before ducking under for a final rinse, her hesitation brief as she then stepped from the pool into the waiting towel in Eustace’s hands.

    It was like a lover’s embrace...warm and comforting. She did not resist while the man dried her, the realization that this might be the last offer of compassion she might receive playing over her mind like a song on repeat. Knowing Eustace was part of the resistance helped to ease the discomfort she suffered with the intimacy, this part of the ritual something she had not been cognizant about. The moment passed quickly, and the dress she was given was slipped on without comment, a simple affair that tied closed in the front like a robe. Its hem fell to the middle of her thighs and although it was oversized, the sash pulled it in like a fitted glove. Once the white slipper-like shoes were on her feet, she was led back to the surface, the chamber echoing her footsteps through its high-ceilinged expanse.

    ----------------

    Using tunnels that seemed to be hidden throughout the compound, the two made their way out of the leader's domain. It was only a short walk from there to Becca’s house, which was welcoming change for the scavver after being in the company of Aidan and his goons. She welcomed Sammy into her arms, hugging Matches and Deck as well, assuring them that everything was going according to plan...and that Jackal was alive. She didn’t share any further details, or her doubts, content to listen idly while the latest change in the plan was laid out.

    Eustace provided the details, his knowledge regarding a surprise guest at the Atonement most likely pushing the attack up to tonight. With Jackal freed from his cell so he too could atone, the best chance for success would be during the ceremony, catching most of the soldiers off guard due to the festivities. Plenty of drink, full bellies, and the aroma of burning smudge sticks would keep them distracted. It was all to go down following Ezra’s confession, the last known atoner on the roster for the night.

    There was some talk...and some food and drink...but the gathering was short...and at the insistence of the guard, Ez said her farewells. A heaviness weighed on her heart as she was taken back to the compound. More surprising though was the detour towards Aidan’s room, her questioning glance met with silence. This had not been part of the plan either, but hopefully atonement was about to begin, it was better than the possible alternative of what this stop might mean. Her only saving grace was the sudden spike in activity which was hard to miss, and the heady odors which wafted down the hall, the scent of spiced meats especially strong.

    “How long before it’s time?” she asked nervously, her eyes shifting towards the guard’s hand on her arm.

    “Only a few more minutes. You’ll be led in with the others...after seeing Mr. Bishop.”

    Sighing in relief, but also feeling her heart start to race, Ezra nodded. At least there would be no time for any additional ‘activities’ before the event. It was a weight lifted off her shoulders. She wasn’t sure how much more of the bastard she could take before her hatred seeped through. She had no idea what a chore it would be just to play nice.

    Ez forced a smile onto her lips as soon as they halted before the ornate wooden door, Eustace’s hand pausing in mid-knock as he leaned towards her.

    “The items you requested are in his room under the pillow...if the need to use them comes around. I’ll pray that it doesn’t.”

    A slight nod and then the knock was given, the door opening shortly afterwards by a young woman dressed in white. Small of frame and carrying herself in a beaten manner, she led Ezra in and sat her before a mirror, the guard dismissed as soon as Aidan came up behind her.

    “We will set your hair up,” he said, motioning for the girl to begin. “No need for it to get in the way.” He offered no further explanation, his hand falling to the scavver’s shoulder in a soft caress. She saw the smirk on his face through the mirror, her own baring no expression, her lips held tight to keep from cursing. He was testing her...pushing her limits...and if she wasn’t able to maintain her control, he would exceed them. A bloody battle would be the only possible result. Surely not the best way to end this little encounter. She managed a smile.

    It took only a few minutes before her hair was braided then spun into a knot at the back of her head, a spray of delicate white flowers pinned along it. Her hair so tight away from her face made her look severe, and perhaps that was the plan. A hardened survivor would be cleansed, her sins forgiven at the ceremony of lost souls. Ezra had nothing but contempt for the idea, but this was not her party, she was just the crasher, and she would make sure he paid her back for this night.

    With a hand offered, Aiden smiled as he brought her to her feet. “You will do well,” he said...and damn if he did not sound sincere. Years of practice had taught the man the art of manipulation, and he wielded it well. He urged Ez forward, his hand falling to her waist then sliding lower. “You will meet me back here...after…we’ll spend tonight together.”

    Not on her life! “Like hell…”

    A light chuckle fell from his lips. “Try not to curse Ezra-Rayne...Theophyllis does not care for foul language.”

    There was no time for further retorts as the door was opened and Ezra was escorted out. She took her place at the end of the line, the group being led to the auditorium within the church in a single file. Guards were posted along the way, the ceremony seeming more a forced event that a joyous one. There would be no going back now.
    Last edited by bluemoon; 09-17-2020 at 04:17 AM.

  4. #164
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    *Shortly after Ezra laid down for her nap*

    Drip...drip...drip...drip Moisture leaked down onto Jackal's head as he lay on the floor of his cell. The guards had not come back to chain the downed gunman back up. But considering he hasn't moved since Ezra left they likely assumed he was well and truly broken. He lost track of the time he lost in darkness of the dungeon. His body shook either from fever or the cold he couldn't tell, his mind has been detached from bodily sensations for two days.

    All he feels is the constant numbing pain sometimes marked by the relentless burning when his body shifts in his sleep. Jackal's sleep was black and bottomless, no dream would graze his mind. Grandpa Gregor often said, a man doesn't dream when he has fears about what tomorrow will bring. Jack has always had worries and fears...during his crusade on the Black Jacks he worried about them finding his hideaway in Durcell and burning it down around him.

    When roaming the wastes he worried about Crawlers or Clawvos killing and eating him while he slept in a hole in the ground. Every town and wilderness camping spot filled him with the same worries. Even when he was with Evy, safe and secure in their little apartment up in the rocks above Durcell. Did he ever dream when he was with Ezra? He couldn't recall...almost every place they've slept has been filled with the same dangers and worries as always...but with her he felt far safer and more relaxed than he ever did with Evy. Is that why he didn't dream?

    Often the counterpoint to his Grandfather, his mother had another saying about dreaming. People dream to escape and sort out their fears. He'd always been fearless...at least on the outside...you have to be to live the life he lived. But in the quiet hours of the night when he couldn't sleep he thought about all the ways he could've...and likely should've died during the day. And facing that mortality did spark and ember of fear in him. Not enough to effect him overmuch...but enough to notice when he had no other distraction. Most times he didn't even register that ember of fear. He simply called it weakness and doubt before reminding himself about his mission, killing Black Jacks or more recently...discovering the Lost Mountains.

    But with Ezra he usually slept the dark energizing sleep of oblivion. They had some fun, then his eyes would shut, and the next thing he knew it was morning and he felt better than ever. He hadn't dreamed since his torture had begun, but he simply chalked that up blood loss and sheer exhaustion. Or maybe deep down he wasn't afraid? Ezra, Sammy, and the others were free...and they had the map...what worries should he have? He would die, but his dream of saving humanity would live on in them. They wouldn't turn back to Carousel or Outpost 4 now that they've come this far...right?

    No...Ezzy was a stubborn woman she wouldn't swallow the loss of numerous men, animals, and supplies and just tuck tail and run. She would carry on and make sure this whole trip wasn't a massive waste of time of that Jackal was sure...but then again he was also sure she wouldn't come back into this town once she had gotten away, and he was wrong there. He'd been wrong many times along this journey now that he had the time to think about. Trusting Gabe and his Black Jack goons to not try to backstab him and Ez..trusting the food in Liberty to just be normal food when it was drugged and led to his capture...trusting the people in this fucking place to not try to backstab him and Ezra. Seems everywhere he went trouble followed and took out it's frustration on not being able to end him on those he cared about around him.

    "Those he cared about around him" The more he thought about that phrase the more it looked strange to him. When his family was killed he stopped caring about others..when Evy betrayed him he shut himself off and became an infallible killing machine instead of a man with flaws and a heart. Now he had a woman he loved, a bunch of lost and scrawny kids who looked up to him as a father, and even a second father in Deck. What he told Ezra at the gates of Endver about them being a family was more for her benefit than his...a sweet little lie to keep her composed and less likely to do anything rash. But did he actually feel that way himself? Was this rag-tag band of scavvers his...family?

    Before he could delve deeper into that topic a soft light shined in Jackal's eyes and forced them to gently open. He groaned and slowly rolled away from it, the movement taking a monumental amount of strength to even muster the drive to accomplish. And as he shifted he both heard and felt the dried scabs of his back ripping open once more the blood flowing anew... the blood had dried somehow and made him stick to the filthy stone floor. He expected to hear a guard's voice, but instead he heard the soft chanting of an old man and the rustling of a hide bag. Jackal turned to question the noise when something was sprinkled across his back. Instantly everything sizzled and burned, being too exhausted to scream the lawman simply snarled and writhed on the floor. The chanting continued for a few seconds until the pain subsided greatly.

    "You are strong Child of the Gun...very strong indeed." Rolling to his stomach he looked back and saw the old Tribal man Silver Bear again. Dressed exactly as before looking as comfortable in the cell as he did in Gia's Bunker and by the campfire near the Carousel Oasis complete with his bow and his old lantern attached to his walking stick.
    He helped Jackal sit up and handed him a waterskin before he sprinkled and rubbed some kind of herbs onto Jackal's chest, again the pain thrashed him into a fetal position and his flesh sizzled like Grox bacon cooking by the fire. Like before the pain only lasted a few seconds before it was gone, panting heavily Jackal took some time to recover before taking a long pull of the waterskin nearly emptying it.

    Once had his fill he handed it back and studied the Indian man incredulously. "How?...why?" Was all he managed to croak out.

    The old man began chanting again as he spread the herbs across Jackal's hands and arms the pain flared on one final time, but dulled quicker than before. He then mixed some more herbs into a paste. "As I said before my son, I have traveled many places, and these False Men do not know the land as well as I." He pulled a biscuit of some kind out of his satchel and spread the herbal paste all over it with an ancient flint knife still chanting softly.

    "But...why...are you...here?" Jackal asked the water helping him find his voice again.

    Silver Bear handed the younger man the biscuit. "Eat this...you will need it."

    The tall man studied the biscuit and the slimy dark green paste spread on it. It didn't look any more appetizing than the old bread and broth the guards had given him before, but something about the old man compelled Jackal to take the little cookie and shove it whole into his mouth. He expected a hard crunch like biting into a rock, but the treat was soft and warm...as if it was freshly backed. And the paste despite looking like snot tasted sweeter than honey and before he knew it both were gone and he found himself wanting more. Energy returned to him and the fog that had been covering his mind cleared a little. He looked around the cell the realization that he was no longer chained hitting him like a lighting bolt. The biscuit and paste energized him enough to quickly stagger to his feet and begin moving out of the cell.

    But Silver Bear, who had remained seated in the cell called to him. "Back to treasure hunting Child of the Gun?"

    The elder man's voice sounded almost disappointed and caused Jackal to stop and turn back.
    "I'm getting the hell out of here...I need to find Ezra and the others and get as far away from this cursed town as possible."

    Silver Bear frowned lightly packing his mortar, pestle, and the various herbs into the old bead satchel he was carrying. "So that is a yes then?"

    Even more confused Jackal knelt back by the Native's side.
    "Well of course...that's the whole reason we've gone through all this. The Treasure of the Lost Mountain is the single most important thing in human history! A way to fix everything wrong with the world that doesn't involve brainwashing people or killing innocents!"

    Silver Bear shook his head lightly. Looking into the darkness in the corner of the cell.
    "Do you remember what I said to you the first time we met my son?"

    Squinting his eyes Jackal thought.
    Be wary of treasure..."

    Silver Bear nodded.
    "It is more than a spot on the map."

    Still squinting Jackal soot back up.
    "Yes, and I know that. It's far more important than a spot on the map...it's the future of mankind! Now thank you for your help, but I don't have a lot of time before the bastards begin their blasphemous rituals! I need to get to Ezra!" The tall man turned and began walking.

    The Indian simply gave a knowing smile and shook his head amused.
    "You are half way there Jackal." He said softly to himself before standing and grabbing the retreating gunman by the arm. "You are too late Child of the Gun...the Woman of the Dirt and the Slaves of Freedom are already in position for tonight. You're leaving this cell will only endanger them."

    Jackal's arm tensed, but Silver Bear's surprisingly firm grip kept him from yanking free. "So what should I do then?" He looked back at Silver Bear, his eyes clear and piercing.

    Silver Bear let go of Jackal's arm his hand print lingering longer than one normally should. "Wait for your chance...your destiny is before you Child of the Gun. But it is not something that can be rushed...and you will have to endure far greater pain than you have before to realize it. But it will be all you have dreamed it to be and more. Just go in peace until destiny presents herself."

    The lawman growled lightly and stared into the steady brown eyes of the old man daring him. But Silver Bear's gaze never changed...it remained as steady and knowing as before. Soon Jackal looked down and nodded. "So be it. But I have one question." Jackal looked up, but was met with only empty space. As before Silver Bear had just vanished, quickly scanning around him Jackal saw the distant bouncing glow of the old man's lantern at the very end of the dungeon. It seemed to turn a corner before vanishing leaving the lawman confused, but awake...or at least he felt awake. His body still ached, but it was far more manageable. He heard guards coming down the opposite corridor, moving back into his cell Jackal laid back down and assumed the same flat on his back position he had been left in. It was the same pair as before Zedekiah and Eustace. They carried food and clothing between them, the food almost looked fresh and the clothing was simple and stark white. A pair of pants and a long sleeved button up shirt. A few paces behind them came a couple of people wearing hoods and carrying a couple of buckets and towels.

    Zedekiah entered first that same smug smile on his face as before. He placed the food down and smacked the lawman on the head. Silver Bear's parting words stuck out in his mind and instead of lashing out and snapping the dumb bastards arm off and beating him to death with it Jackal slowly opened his eyes. "Wakey wakey mutt, seems you been a good boy! The bosses wanna make you the guest of honor at the Atonement tonight. Now eat up, while these pretty little sluts scrub some of that dried blood off you." Zedekiah laughed and ripped the hoods from the people behind them then shoved them forward. Both were young girls barely ten years old and they were wearing short white togas of some kind. "Here mutt I know you like'em with dark hair so I special picked this one. Go say hello to Mr. Lawless, Tania!" He grabbed the younger of the two girls the one carrying the towels and shoved her into Jackal making her fall face first into his lap. His mock dead eyed composure cracked for an instant as the girl began undoing his destroyed pants, he pushed her back and shook his head. Zedekiah then kicked Jackal in the side of the head and knocked him out. He laughed shoving Becca's young daughter again making her half lay across Jackal. "Don't worry, we train'em right here. She'll be totally professional." Just before Jackal blacked out he saw Tania and the other young girl finish undressing him and began rubbing the cold water and towels over his body cleaning it.
    Last edited by SikstaSlathalin; 09-20-2020 at 04:02 AM.


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