A warning

Players: Meriah, William

Summary: Meriah receives a warning from a most unusual and unexpected source

Date: June 7, 1883

A Warning

Forest south of town

It would be a warm, welcoming night….If only you weren't in the middle of a vast expanse of forbidding forest with little chance of escape. In the middle of a small, grassy clearing, an uncharacteristic camp sits with fires rising gently into the darkness, and the quiet sound of laughter emenating. "The real question, gentlemen, is how? How did they get past us without our scouts picking them up?" William, a formidable looking man, sits among the others around the largest campfire, a single gloved hand scratching his rough chin. "This is certainly interesting."

When she'd read the note, Meriah could hardly believe it. She'd read it over and over and then burned it as requested. She'd informed Buck where they'd be going. If William protested, she'dd simply walk away. She was not an idiot to go into such a situation without Buck. And so it was that Meriah turns up in that grassy clearing, Buck big and dark behind her. The small woman looks a bit older but not horribly so. She is wearing a simple working dress, not what she wore at the Gemstone. She could almost be anyone…anyone normal.

Immediately, the sound of hammers cocking into a locked position fills the summer air. A few men rise from their seats……Rifles aimed in the direction of those approaching. "If those triggers get heavy, gentlemen, hiding those bodies will be the least of your worries." It is then that the figurehead stands. A man not much taller then the rest, but judging by how rifles start to fall, he is still very much as dangerous as he used to be. Williams face smiles gently. Not the vicious smile of a killer, but that of an educated gentleman. That of something much worse. "Meriah. So pleased that you came. And Buck, it is a pleasure to see you as always…"

Meriah stands and waits until the rifles are lowered, though she shows no fear what so ever. Her dark eyes, ever unreadable, train on the speaker. She gives Buck a nod and he seems to melt back into the night. "William….", she says quietly, taking a few steps forward further into the light.

A nod from William sends the men back to their seats….And strangely enough, their conversation. "I'm telling you, man. I heard they broke outta lockup in the Arizona territory…Killed all the guards there with their teeth and fingernails." "No, I heard that they ran into the Mexican Army and Santa Anna backed down.." The crystaline blue eyes of the group's leader usher Meriah to the side…Toward a familiar large tent. "We've much to discuss and little time to accomplish it, Meriah."

Meriah nods, though she does listen to the men's conversation. She says, in a stage whisper of sorts. "And it's all true…", she says with a sage nod. Then she turns to follow William into the tent. "I will admit…", she says, turning to look at him. "I was rather surprised to get your note."

"And I was rather surprised to be sending it." William, too, had gotten a bit older….But not enough to make him seem any more docile. Those eerily blue eyes have lost little intensity….And the long gate is still incredibly strong. No, Franklin was not old. He was just reaching his prime. "Ladies….Excuse us." Words spoken before the tent flap is even lifted, though as Will and Meri enter, two twenty-something cowgirls exit. Yes. Prime. "Have a seat. I'll get us some drinks."

Meriah looks at the girls and frowns a bit, perhaps conscious of her own age. She nods and takes a seat on one of the camp stools. "I knew you would not mind if I brought Buck. You know he would have followed anyway, non?"

"Buck's not any concern of mine unless I plan to hurt you." Will answers quietly, handing over a rather large glass of bourbon. "I rather like the big man. He's kind of like talking to a wall….But hey. At least he knows how." Settling into another, slightly more lavish chair, Franklin raises his brandy to his lips. "Meriah….You all…Are about to have some visitors…"

Meriah nods. "Buck is many things, loyal being one of them.", she says, accepting the bourbon. She takes a sip, somehow trusting the outlaw before her not to kill her with it. "Visitors, mon amie? What type of visitors? You and your men?"

"No…..unfortunately." William offers gently, gazing longingly into his glass. "The people who are coming into your town are nothing like myself and my men." He pauses, shifting that icy gaze back to the woman before him. "The people you're about to have a run-in with are much, much more dangerous then myself. You see….I play by rules…Morals….Honor. They don't." The gang leader sucks in a breath. "Criminals. Not outlaws."

Meriah frowns. "Russell Merrick…", she says quietly, looking down at the white scars that still laced along her skin. "Like him, William? Can the town take another villian like that?"

"Something like Merrick. Russel was one man, you see. One man with an army." William tilts his head slightly, clearly selecting his words with the greatest comfort. "There are four of them. Four creatures like Russel. Creatures with a band of followers. Disciples, if you will…" The glass comes once again to the outlaws lips. "These people are like nothing you've ever seen before, Meriah."

"The four horsemen…" Meriah says very very quietly. "like that, non? Four Horseman of the apocalypse? It says in Revelations…." The small woman pauses and looks up at William again. "I will have to have Sweet take the children to Denver. I cannot bare for them to be hurt, oui?'

"The children, the old, the weak. Hell, I advise that you take -everyone- to Denver." William simply shakes his head. Slowly, methodicly, thinking. "These are the sort of folks that mine won't even ride against, Meriah. They've won the war of attrician. The hearts and minds of my men are absent before these type of people." He sips from his brandy again. "I just wish that I could help you more then give you a slight warning…"

"Warnings are always welcome…", Meriah says, giving a slight nod. "I will do what I can. And arm the rest that will not go…."

"Don't arm them. And encourage them -not- to fight back." William mutters quietly, rising from his chair and moving to one of his pavilion tent's windows. "If the townspeople fight back, it will make it the game more exciting for them. The more you get them excited, the more their natures will show." He turns around and shakes his head. "You honestly don't want that."

"But the people will be slaughtered otherwise, William. I cannot…I will not have that on my conscience. There is already too much blood on my hands…" Meriah says, frowning down at her still full glass of bourbon.

"I'm advising you on the best course I can see here, Meriah. In order to keep the casualties down, allow them to pass through…." Clearly, this whole conversation is unsettling to the outlaw….Fleeing instead of fighting back. It was against William's very nature. But it clicked with his education perfectly. "I wish I could do more for you all, Meriah. Really. I do."

Meriah nods and then puts down the bourbon, still largely untouched. She stands and moves to where William is. Reaching out, she touches his arm likely with only her fingertips. "Merci..for the warning, William. You did not have to give it and I am grateful that you have."

And as soon as Meriah's flesh touches William's, the two cowgirls re-enter. One a beautiful blond and the other a stunning brunette. Their job is quite clear….Though it hardly seems as if Will's attachment matches their own. "In these days we're not measured by what we actually are. What we do seems to matter so very much more." Those sapphire eyes barely flinch at Meri's touch….And again, they don't waver at the woman's entrance. "At least…That's what I'm banking on."

Meriah nods and withdraws her touch as the others enter. She seems quite aware of what their job is. "Oui..what we do is important. Our social labels are not, hmm?', she says quietly. "You should come by the house at some point, William. Madeline is so..she has grown. You would hardly recognize her."

"And she would hardly recognize me, I'd imagine." Will offers gently, sapphire eyes moving to the girls shyly entering the tent. Clearly, that gaze says it all, because without a word, the two turn around and leave, stomping somewhat angrily. "I'm serious, Meri. Leave town. These four make Merrick look like a puppy."

Meriah shakes her head. "I cannot leave town. This is my town, William. You know that better than anyone. But I will see the others to safety. Are you..leaving..as well then?", she says, a strange note in her voice. "You are still welcome to visit and see her, if you like. And Christophe..you have not met him, oui?"

"I'll be….opting not to get involved in the conflict. I don't think these guys will try to attack me. A fight like that would attract too much attention." Taking another swig of his brandy, William moves to the opposite side of the tent…To a trunk settled at the end of that fabulously lush bed. When it's finally swung open, William shuffles around in it for a second. The barrels of dozens of pistols glint in the dim light. "Give this to Madeline for me. It might seem inappropriate….But you just have to have faith." An old, wooden sling-shot emerges from the wooden chest. Simple in design, though sturdy in construction. "It'll help her build dexterity until she's old enough to fire a gun. And believe me, Meri. That little girl will need to shoot better then I do one day…..With the way this world is turning."

Meriah nods and takes the slingshot. She turns it over in her hands and gives a strange little smile. " She is already so talented, hmm? I will give it to her and perhaps teach her to use it, though I have no true talent in such. Merci, William."

"Tell her to keep it safe, Meri. You always keep your weapon safe." Will certainly catches the implication….Though he simply shakes his head and returns to his window. "Keep that little girl safe, Meriah. And raise her better then we were raised…."

Meriah nods and slips the slingshot into the waist of her skirt. "I try to do so, oui?", she says quietly. "Is there anything else to discuss? OR shall I leave you to your..friends?"

"Be careful. And get the children out of town, Meriah." As if on cue, the two young women enter again, eying Meriah suspiciously. "And be careful with that. It's all that remains of MY father."

Meriah looks to him a moment and seems to be about to say something. But then she stops. She gives a nod and then turns to leave, passing by the younger girls with her chin high, like the regal woman she is.


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