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Walker, Sandpoint Ranger

Book 2



The sun was beginning to set as the man and the woman approached the tavern. The barkeep had been looking out the window from time to time, and as he noticed that the man was almost there with a wounded girl, he quickly bolted for the door stumbling through it and standing awkwardly to stare. Observing the barkeep's clumsy entrance and gawking, the man shouted, "Go prepare a place for her to lay down! I know you have rooms upstairs."
The barkeep gasped, as if he was shocked at being addressed.
"Don't just STAND there! Get moving!"
The sheer force of the command forced the barkeep into action. He ran back into the tavern and, presumably, up the stairs. "Just a little farther," he said to the young woman he was supporting.
Finally, they entered the building. Only two patrons remained--three if you count the town drunk. The man hesitated for a moment, taking in his new surroundings and looking for sign of the barkeep. He spotted the stairs and started for them. A moment later the barkeep stumbled down and motioned for them to come up. "I--I've got a room all ready. I, uh--"
"Take us," commanded the man. Then looking at the woman he asks, "will you be able to make it up the stairs like this?"

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The girl looked up the stairs and nodded her head. "I should be able to make it. I don't need your help now." She extracted herself from the man an smiled slightly at him. "Thanks for all your help." She turned toward the stairs and attempted to climb up the stairs. She stumbled a few times before giving up in frustration.

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The man waited, expecting her to get back up. But when she didn't he walked over to her placed one arm on her side and with the other lifted her arm to his shoulder. He helped her to the top of the stairs but said nothing. The barkeep looked at the two, interested yet cautious--both intrigued and concerned. He cleared his voice and spoke, "It's this room right here." He held the door open and stepped aside as the man led the woman to the bed. The barkeep cleared his throat again and said, "I--my name is Irwin Barlow--the fellas all call me Barlow." He paused for a moment then added, "Is there anything you need?"

"Yes, Barlow. Get a towel and a bucket of clean water, but first send a man to find a healer." Barlow started for the stairs when the man added, "Barlow, my name is Conley--Conley Grant."

Barlow nodded and replied, "Well met," then went down the stairs.

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The girl had sat down on the bed, and when she heard the mans name, her face brightened. "Mr. Grant?! I've been looking all over for you! When my father died last year, he told me told me to find a Mr. Conley Grant, and I'm sure you are the one I am looking for! My name is Katie Walker and my fathers name was David Walker. Are the Mr. Grant I am looking for?" Little beads of sweat had started to form on her forehead and she brushed them away impatiently, watching the man in front of her.

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The barkeep "Barlow" then brought up the "Town Drunk" as most simply observe him. Barlow then slapped said drunk out of his drunken coma. The drunk then looks around and then notices the bleeding girl and goes "Ah". The Man then stands and reaches into his beige poncho and pulls out a few dry looking leaves and Starts to place them along Katie's arm. After finishing he then in a cocky tone says " Nasty cut you got there the leaves should stop the bleeding, after that you should have enough skin to move it lightly."

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Conley was first taken back by the sudden outburst from Katie, then by Barlow bursting into the room with a drunk and finally by the drunks actions as he began to tend to Katie's arm. This explains his slow reaction. He stare wide-eyed at the scene unfolding before him. Then, quick as glance, he took one sprinted step, placing himself between Katie and the drunk. Both of his palms shot from his hips into the drunkard's shoulders, sending him stumbling back. Finally, in one swift motion, he drew his rapier and stepped forward, leaving the tip of his blade a mere inch from the throat of the the burly barkeep. "What is the meaning of this?" A strange mix of anger, curiosity, and betrayal flooded his eyes as he continued, "I asked for a priest and you brought me a drunken wretch!"

The eyes of Barlow screamed with fear and awe. How can a man move so fast!? "Please sir! That is the town's healer! You must believe me. Every man has his vice but this man truly is skillful medicine man! I am an honest man, if anything."

Conley remained as he stood. Beads of sweat rolled down his brow but he did not lower his arm.

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"Mr. Grant, please stop!" Katie said, trying to stand. "The bleeding is starting to stop." She tried to stand again, but her ankle throbbed painfully, and she was starting to run a fever. Katie closed her eyes and limped a few steps toward Conley and grabbed the back of his shirt. "Please put your rapier away," she said in a quiet voice.

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Conley hesitated. He closed his eyes, exhaled softly then sheathed his rapier. "Katie Walker, you should not have gotten up." He turned to support her, "I'm sorry gentlemen. Once a man faces betrayal once, he finds it hard to trust others in the future. Please forgive me. Barlow. Doctor." He helped Katie back to the bed. Conley then walked up to the now sobering man, still plopped on the floor, and offered him his hand, "My name is Conley Grant. I hope you can excuse my mistrust and rash behavior."

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The once drunk man then takes Conley's out stretched hand and Shakes it saying " Just call me Garnet". Then he continues on saying "I am not doctor by the way I am merely a medicine man whom has little faith anymore. The most I do around this town is cure a few scrapes and colds". Garnet then goes and sits at a desk in the corner and props his arm up on the writing desk nearby. As he turned his flanged mace was visible hanging from the back of his brown dusty pants.

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"I understand," began Conley.
Before he could continue, Barlow cut in, "I'll run and get the towel and water. I'm sorry I didn't explain when I came in. The mistake was solely mine, Mr. Grant." With that, the Barkeep left the room.
Conley nodded at the man as he left, then continued, "I'm glad to here that there are no hard feelings..." The sentence hung, suspended in the air like a dense, morning fog from the hills of Shannon. Conley didn't want to produce any more hostility, but Katie needed medical attention. "How well will your medicines work on Miss Walker's wounds? She's lost a lot of blood. Her ankle is sprained as well."

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Katie could see the mace that Garnet was carrying and it confused her a little. "Mr. Garnet, if your a medicine man, then how come you carry that mace? All the medicine men I have met don't carry weapons." She was referring to all the Indian medicine men she had met while looking for Conley. Her foot throbbed painfully, but she ignored it.

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Garnet smiled then at their questions answering Katie's first "Ladies first, The reason I carry around a mace is self defense Goblins and all that. Now for good Conley's answer. The healing will go slowly through the night and her ankle is not sprained too badly, else she would not be able to move. You both would need to stay anyway." he finished with a knowing smirk.

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Katie looked down at the wound on her shoulder and sighed. "I'm sorry to be such a burden. I have a tendency to be very reckless. My father would always yell at me for it. To be honest, this isn't the first time I have been injured. I have scars all over." She looked around the room she was staying in. "Have you seen my bag?" she asked.

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Conley gave her an inquisitive look and said, "I'm sorry, I don't even remember seeing a bag. It must have been left out where we fought."

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Garnet chuckled with some humor before he spoke " you mean the bag that you left under your table for anyone to take... it is still there". He was not worried and un-phased that he had slept through a fight. He was more worried about if these two were going pick up clues that he was not an ordinary medicine man.

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Katie stood and limped over to the door. "I need to get my bag. All my possessions are in there. I can't leave them down there." She opened the door and started limping down the hall.

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Conley took a couple steps toward her, intending to stop her--or at least help her. However, he realized it would most likely be futile, so he followed her out the door instead.

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Katie stopped at the top of the stairs and looked back at the room. She was surprised to see Conley following her. "Any particular reason why you are following me?" she asked, a slight smile forming. She looked around Conley to see if Garnet was following them. "I don't really trust Mr. Garnet," she added quietly.

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Conley scoffed at her statement playfully and stated, "Well someone has to be ready to catch you. Just a little bit ago you fell just trying to get up the stairs. I figure the good man Barlow wouldn't appreciate more blood being spread across his establishment." Then, with a hint of a smile, he added, "Plus, you've piqued my interest now. Very interesting things occur when you are around." Of course, if she really is his daughter.... From there his thoughts drifted.

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Katie took a couple steps down the stairs, being careful not to put too much weight on her ankle. She looked back at Conley and smiled. "Did you know my father well, Mr. Grant?" She took another step down the stairs.

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Conley, looked into her eyes and replied, "Hm? So presumptuous, I never once told you I knew him. Actual--" He stopped short looking past her. "Barlow, you took so long bringing the towel and water that we decided to come down after you."

Barlow stood with his mouth open. As he started to speak Conley interrupted, "It just a jest! It seems Miss Walker is not accustomed to lying down any period of time. Heh, that reminds me of someone I used to know. Those were good days." Conley turned his head so he could look behind him out of the corner of his eye. He wanted to see if the medicine man, Garnet, had followed.

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Katie limped past Barlow and into the tavern. She limped as fast as she could to the table she was sitting at earlier. Katie snatched up her bag and started searching through it. "Good, nothing is missing," she said, falling into a chair and relaxing.

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Conley also continued down the stairs. Barlow remained where he stood--bamboozled as it were. Conley suddenly pondered a question: What medicine was that to be able to heal wounds so quickly? He decided now was not the time to ask. Instead he addressed Katie saying, "How did you get here?" Seeing her confusion he added, "Why did you leave?"

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Katie was quiet for a moment. "Do you mean why I left home and ended up here? I told you. I came looking for you. My father was murdered. I found him almost dead. He told me to look for you, that would help me get my revenge. I've been looking for you for two years. If your not the Conley Grant I am looking for, then I apologize for wasting your time."

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"I'm sorry," he began, "this must be hard on you." He didn't say anything for a moment--though it was obvious he wasn't done speaking. "So he died two years ago? Do you know who murdered him?"

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"He actually died three years ago. It took me a year to get everything settled," Katie said. She was silent for a moment while she thought back on the scene of her father, almost dead. "A few weeks before he died he told me that he had caught a thief in our house. It turned out to be one of our neighbors. His name was John Lawson. I went to confront him after it happened. He denied it and knocked me out. When I came to, he was gone."

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Conley closed his eyes for a second, then opened them and asked, "Did you say John Lawson? Did he live with a brother--a man by the name of Joe?"

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Katie thought for a moment, trying to remember. "He did, but he died a few months before my father did. It seemed like the death of Joe sent John over the edge."

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Conley clicked his tongue on the roof of his mouth and shook his head, "That old man, couldn't leave we--wait--" He suddenly stopped. His mouth was partway open and his eyes were still and not blinking. It was as if the very thought had frozen him. Nearly a full minute passed before he finally broke from his trance. "No, it's not possible. Katie! When was the last time you saw John?"

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Katie looked at Conley with confusion. "Huh? Three years ago after he killed my father. Why do you ask?" Katie suddenly stood and slammed her hands on the table. "Why? Do you know where he is?"

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Conley once again closed his eyes and sighed, "No. [pause] I forgot, you said he disappeared after. I was hoping you'd--ah. I suppose it's too late. Three years!" He begins to pace. "How did Joe die? Those Lawson brothers!" He stopped for a moment--but not long enough for anyone to reply, "What did your father tell you about me? And what were his last words?" His eyes softened as he finished, "Please, I need to know exactly what he said if I am to help you. I am the Conley Grant he spoke of.

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Katie sat down, looking disappointed. "Joe had come down with an illness. I can't remember what he had. I helped take care of him, and got it myself, but it wasn't as bad as his." Katie stopped for a moment and took a deep breath. "When I found Father, and tried to stop his bleeding he told me what had happened. Then he told me that I needed to find you. He said you would help me get revenge. He said you were the only person who could help me."

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Conley was attempting to leave any impatience out of his voice--after all, this wasn't an issue of time, per say, "An illness? That might change things, but what I first need to know is, when he told you what happened and to find me, what exactly did he say? I know it was three years ago, but I need you to remember as much of his actual words as you can. Maybe you didn't catch anything, but he might have given you a secret message--or at least a hint. He told you I would help. But if he didn't say anything more than "Find Conley Grant" then I fear he may have overestimated my abilities.

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"All he said was 'if you wish to avenge my death, then seek out Conley Grant. He is the only one who can help you avenge me. When you find him tell him I sent you'. That's what he said." Katie stood and looked over at Conley. "Can you help me or not?"

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"I can, but we'd have to go back. The answers lay back home."

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"But, I sold all of our stuff after he died. I even sold our house." Katie sighed and dug through her bag and pulled a piece of paper out. "I found this map among my father's things. Do you know what it's for?"

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Conley walked over and accepted the map. He studied it for just a few moments when suddenly his eyes went wide as he shouted, "The Caverns of Lolth! He actually found them!!!" A couple bar patrons who had come in earlier looked over at the yelling man without much interest--just a nuisance.

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"The Cavern's of Lolth? What's that?" she asked, sitting down as her foot throbbed with pain again. "Is it important?"

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He looked at Katie and explained, "That's the reason Joe got sick. The fact that you did too means that the Lawson brothers got farther than we ever thought they would. That's where we have to go. Your revenge isn't all that hangs in the balance." DA DA DUM!




Click HERE for Part 3!!!