Friday, August 23, 2013

Gauntlet - Episode 28.



Episode 28 – The Deputy Delivers

Outside the Sheriff’s office a small boy was sitting, waiting for him as Deputy Rook approached. The small glimmer of what he could only guess was hope in the child’s eye was a warm and welcome sight. “May I be of service young man,” Rook dutifully offered, sounding every bit the dedicated Deputy.

“Is it true, sir,” the boy found his words stumbling as he tried to spit them out. He even fidgeted with his hands as he refused to meet Rook’s eyes. “I, um, I mean is what everyone saying correct; did this Gauntlet fellow really just run the Bloody Bachelor himself out of town?”

Rook had to admit there was more curiosity to the question then the usual accompanied fear he was used to hearing. But then again he couldn’t clearly recall the last time, well, anyone willingly came by the office to ask about anything official. Things in Redemption seemed to be changing; at least that much he couldn’t argue with.

“I think I can honestly say that it is true,” Rook confirmed and as he did saw a genuine grin spring to life at the news. “As a matter of fact, I just came from looking into the whole thing and my official report is that two members of the Bull-Boys will be in the dirt directly. I suppose this town might owe this Gauntlet character a debt of gratitude. That’s two gangs of late that he’s single handedly handicapped, and I’d wager if we give him a little more time he might just finish the job.”

There was an almost visible glow to the boy after that, he almost bursting with excitement. “Yeah,” he exclaimed with a sudden hop. “Gauntlet is so great, I bet the Red Bull himself is going to be scared of him!” And as fast as his little legs could carry him the boy took off, obviously eager to share the news.

Rook was still shaking his head and enjoying the kid’s excitement when he entered the office. But as he made it to his desk something nagged at him, a troubling tickle that he couldn’t quite place. A quick glance around the place didn’t really provide anything immediately out of order but the feeling remained. There was something wrong, but what?

The Sheriff had sent him off to check up on the reports of another incident in town while he himself looked into another matter. But apparently he had made it back before the Sheriff. An examination of Arbiter’s desk though told another tale; it spoke volumes that not only had the Sheriff returned but that he had left again in a hurry. Papers were ruffled and left in a mess, not to mention the fact that his keys were missing. And when he looked in the drawer he immediately noted the empty space where he usually kept his gun. Another was missing from the rack along the wall as well.

“What are you up to,” Rook asked aloud as he considered what possible course of action his boss might be up to. The only clue he could find was the hastily scribbled coordinates for a location just outside the edge of town. And there was only one reason he could figure for Arbiter to be interested in visiting such a place; he had to be going to meet with one or possibly both criminal crews.

“I’ve got to warn Marshall,” Rook decided and headed for the door. And the first place he knew to check was the General Good so he would start there. As he headed off to warn the wily warrior he had to appreciate the humor involved in his choice of residence. Even at a time like this it never did hurt to laugh a little.

♦♦♦

A lone lit lamp greeted Marshall when he slipped inside the shop. Accompanying it was the familiar fresh scent of gun oil that lingered in the air. Patiently perched behind the counter was Grandma Grael herself, a steaming mug before her and a wiped down weapon laying well within reach. 

“You had yourself a visitor,” she offered quietly. As if the evening hadn’t already been interesting enough, Marshall reluctantly raised an eyebrow and decided to ask the question he was sure she was simply waiting for. “Now who would want to stop by and pay a visit to little old me, I wonder?”

Grandma Grael fixed him with a stare that made him catch his breath a moment and fall silent as a school boy. How did she do that, he started to wonder and then immediately cast the quandary aside. Something was different; her trademark friendly demeanor was strangely absent. And in its place was a somber seriousness that was altogether unsettling.

“Arbiter stopped by the shop and decided he would just try his luck throwing his weight around,” the little lady explained calmly. “The jury is still out on whether or not I was too easy on him, to be fair. But in the end he did turn tail and run for all he was worth.”

Another look at the shotgun atop the shop counter confirmed that she was deadly serious. “Before you settled here and started this shop…” Marshall found himself beginning to ask before he quickly changed his mind. “That was another time,” Grandma Grael answered anyway. “And needs not be brought up presently, but you mark my words; that boy will be up to something if he isn’t already.”

“I am afraid that she is right, unfortunately,” Rook added as he revealed himself from behind Marshall. “I didn’t know he had planned to come here looking for you to begin with but now he has disappeared while I was away from the office and it doesn’t look too good. All I have to go on is the fact that he left armed and some coordinates to a place just outside town. I am afraid he may be on his way to meet up with some of those folks who aren’t exactly fans of Gauntlet.”

Somehow, quite surprisingly without meaning to Marshall realized that he might just be watching events unfold according to his plan. Even if he hadn’t quite worked out how to have directed them that way himself, he welcomed any manner of good fortune in that regard. With all his enemies possibly gathering together now was the perfect opportunity to try and take advantage.

“Let me grab a few things and then you can point me in the direction of this meeting spot,” Marshall mentioned. He didn’t bother to wait for the Deputy to respond, or try to object on the matter before he headed for his room. There was no need to waste time debating what would suit his needs or be the best option for the task at hand. Marshall didn’t need a second thought; he went straight to his gear and grabbed exactly what he was looking for.

It only took a moment to confirm that his ‘Hole Maker’ and ‘Scavenger’s Shard’ were ready to be put to use. For good measure he snatched up a few extra handfuls of shells and strapped on a couple extra bits or gear – just in case. Within minutes he returned back downstairs and declared; “let’s get to work.” Without another word he and Rook tipped their hats to Grandma Grael before vanishing back out the door. And a little old lady raised her mug in salute before resting her other on the handle of her gun. It was about to be a long night, and she had no intention of missing a minute of it.