The last time we saw our eccentric adventurers, Captain Crimson, The Gunslinger, and the Barkeep successfully sailed to Cremouth in search of the Marksman. While the Gunslinger's search was initially unsuccessful, the Baker provided guidance to the Gunslinger’s party, though the Gunslinger is curious at why the Marksman has remained in town, weeks after securing his bounty. Now the Captain, Gunslinger, and the Barkeep have zeroed in on the Marksman’s location. The Marksman has holed up in a low-key inn and tavern in the center of town. Our company of adventurers move in on the tavern carefully, understanding that this Marksman may not want to to be found…
The Barkeep walks through the door into the crowded tavern. The hum of conversation and activity was at a fever pitch as the Barkeep inconspicuously weaved his way across the populous barroom floor. The Barkeep walked over to the owner of the tavern, who was standing at a table sharing a humorous anecdote with a couple patrons. The tavern owner sees the Barkeep approaching, and turns to greet him with a friendly handshake. The Barkeep has known the tavern owner for many years. Back then the tavern owner was but a young man bussing tables at the Barkeep’s own tavern.
The Barkeep leans toward the tavern owner and whispers, “Where is he?”
The tavern turns his head toward the staircase and says, “He’s in the last room on the left.”
The Barkeep shakes his head in acknowledgment and begins to walk toward the stairway.
The tavern owner grabs the Barkeep’s arm and turns him back around.
“Do be careful, he’s a quiet one. He’s slightly unnerving,” says the tavern owner.
The Barkeep nods his head and begins making his way to the stairway. The Barkeep begins walking up the stairs, taking care to tread as lightly as possible. He understands that this is a professional and sneaking up on him may be the only way to get a word in. Tipping him off may result in the Marksman slipping away before their proposal can be presented. Or it could result in an arrow to the jugular.The Barkeep reaches the top of the landing and turns down the hallway. The Barkeep trusts the Gunslinger and Captain Crimson to back him up, but the Barkeep was the one to make first contact. The idea is that the Barkeep may appear a little less threatening than the Gunslinger or the Captain. The Barkeep is just hoping that the Marksman would be the kind to ask questions first, and instead of later.
The Barkeep finally reaches the door, after what seemed like an eternity. The time to find out if the Marksman would spare the Barkeep more than a second. The Barkeep turns the door handle and swings the door open.
There are several newspaper clippings pinned up on the wall, along with blueprints, official documents, and several sketches of various faces. That was all that the Barkeep could see from the hallway. The smell of pine, fir, sandalwood, and other smells of the forest wafted out into the hallway.
“Intrude,” says a voice lowly from inside the room.
The Barkeep slowly strides into the room. Behind the door, the Marksman points his double crossbow at the Barkeep. The Marksman is in a black cloak with a black mask perched over his nose. Underneath the cloak is a dark tunic and breeches. Several knives hang from a shoulder belt slung across his shoulder; a couple other blades also hang from his regular belt. A quiver made of bog oak with blackened silver bands is strapped to his back.
“I’m just here to talk,” stammers the Barkeep.
“Why didn’t you just knock? Currently, it seems to me that you’re attempting to sneak up on me.” questions the Marksman.
The Barkeep sighs, he could see that this wasn’t a great look, “I was trying to avoid the position we’re in now.”
“Well that didn’t quite work out for you did it,” answers the Marksman.
The words had just left the Marksman’s mouth, when the Gunslinger swings through the window landing on his feet with pistols drawn.
“Let’s all settle down ‘ere and have a little talk,” drawls the Gunslinger.
As the Marksman turns to face the Gunslinger, his hand slides across one of the knives sheathed on his shoulder belt and with the flick of his wrist, sends the knife whizzing towards the Gunslinger’s head.
This motion happened in the fraction of a second but the Gunslinger saw it coming the whole way. His mechanical eye caught the drift of the Marksman’s hand, the knife breaking the retention of the sheath, the type of knife (it was a type of throwing knife with a spear-point blade shape), and the flight path on the knife. His eye was also advanced enough to calculate the perfect point of intercept for a .357 magnum bullet at the same time. All in the same fraction of a second.
The Gunslinger tilts one of his pistols up slightly and fires a shot.
The sound of metal colliding with metal rings through the air as the knife falls harmlessly to the ground. The knife is sporting a large hole in the blade. The bullet buries itself in one of the rafters.
The Marksman is astounded by the Gunslinger’s fast reflexes, the Barkeep is too. He knew the Gunslinger was fast and that his “enhancements” made him even more so, but seeing him in action was something else.
The Gunslinger turns profile, raising his other pistol level with the Marksman's head while pulling the hammer back into the cocked position.
“Lets try this again. Please sit down so we can have a word with you,” says the Gunslinger calmly.
The Marksman doesn’t have a choice. He had thrown one knife and now it was ruined. The element of surprise was no longer with him. He couldn’t even turn his bow fast enough to get a shot off on the Gunslinger even if he wanted to, but his instincts told him they weren’t here to harm him. The Gunslinger could have killed him if that was his goal.
The Marksman props his crossbow against the wall, “Well go on then.”
The Barkeep and Gunslinger exchange looks, agreeing that things were safe for the Gunslinger to lower his weapons. The Barkeep looks back down the hall and nods. A few moments later, Captain Crimson enters the room with blunderbuss in hand.
“Things sounded a little uncertain there, I was afraid I was going to have to make a mess,” laughs the Captain.
The company proceeds to tell their tale to the Marksman, explaining the voyage for the Time-Changer and their need for someone with a skillset such as the Marksman.
The Marksman sits, stroking his well-maintained amber-colored beard, “As interesting as this journey sounds, and as good as it would be for me to drop off the map for a while, I cannot leave until matters here are resolved.”
“What matters would that be,” asks the Gunslinger.
“It appears that I may have made an error in capturing my latest quarry. He seems to be something different than the typical wild beast or unearthly foe I’ve encountered,” explains the Marksman. “Rather than a nuisance, I question if he may be some sort of angel of vengeance, or something along those lines. Either way, I cannot go knowing that by my crossbow a positive force in this world has been snuffed out. His execution is planned for three days from now”
“Well what be your plan then?” asks the Captain.
“Well I….” the Marksman begins but trails off. His eyes look over the Gunslinger, the Barkeep, and finally Crimson. He had been working on a plan, but it would be nearly impossible to do it all by himself, but now he wasn’t by himself...