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Walker, Sandpoint Ranger: A Work of Scientific Fiction Book 3

Journey For the lost


 Garnet sat as per what was usual and to be expected at his table. What was unusual about this scene though, was a traveler’s backpack out on the table as well as a group of brown worn cloth pouches. On the side of his chair a satchel filled with books... with a bottle of booze on the side. He sat looking at the stairs scratching where he once had a nice brown beard every now and then.



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Conley, rolled up the map he had been looking at and handed it back to Katie. "Do you have a horse or did you get here by carriage or train?" He waited for her response then said, "I guess it doesn't matter right away. There are some preparations we need make before we can leave. Actually, we need to plan out the order of our trips first." He saw that Katie had a look of--is that confusion, and he said, "I'm sorry, I probably went too fast there. Do you understand any of what is going on?"

 

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As Katie took the map and placed it carefully in her bag, she said, "I had a horse, but he died last year. And since I don't have much money, so I walked all the way here." She was quiet for a moment. "I don't really understand what is going on."

Conley nodded and attempted to explain, "I guess the first thing you should know is who I am. David Walker taught me how to use the sword. Originally, your father was an expert fencer. He developed many techniques and maneuvers which enabled the rapier, originally designed for dueling, to become a serious weapon in mass combat. He was able to do so by combining fencing with the Eastern kendo sword style. This enabled him to eventually develop a new system that balanced between planned retreats and aggressive assaults. From watching you fight I assume he leaned more toward the kendo aspect as he continued to improve it. In return, I taught your father to the target-shoot with a shotgun. He needed to replace that lil' ol' revolver of his. A revolver just doesn't pack enough punch to do serious damage to anything but thin flesh.

"Anyway, I continued to learn from him for many years. During that time a string of crime and monster outbreaks began to arise. Your father and I were always among the first to respond to this outbreaks. At the time, your father actually held the title of sheriff for that town. Although I did not deem myself worthy of it, he also saw fit to declare me his deputy. That's where the Lawson brothers came in. They never liked your father, for reasons I never learned, and as an extension, they despised me as well. When we were late to arrive to a goblin attack quite larger than the one that just occurred here, The Larson brothers took it as an opportunity to strikeout against us. They had been there at the start of the attack and had successfully slain over half of the swarm before we were able to get there. They rallied a mob shouting against our abilities and declaring us unworthy of our titles. The mayor, although a friend of your father's had been swayed to their side and stripped him of his title. The crowd suggested Joe and John become the new sheriff and deputy."

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Conley paused for a moment allowing that to sink in. Then he continued, "Late that night I saw the two brothers wearing large dark robes and walking out of the town toward the quarry. I was curious and suspicious after the stunt they had pulled earlier so I decided to follow them. I saw them hand a large bag over to an orc shaman. The bags were unmistakable filled with coins. I wasn't close enough to hear what was being said so I attempted to creep closer. However, that turned out to be a horrible mistake. I accidentally kicked a rock and they each turned in my direction. I quickly hid behind an outcrop of rocks, but I feared they had seen me. I leaned against the outcrop and waited, attempting in vain to silence my breath. Then I heard an incantation of some sort. It had sounded at first like mutterings but grew louder as it went. Then I felt something on my shoulder. I quickly jolted and swatted at it. I proved to be extremely lucky that night; behind me a swarm of spiders had crawled around the top of the rock. I ran. I ran as fast as I could back to town.

I quickly found David-sensei and told him what had happened. He had a suspicion and went to confront the mayor. However, when we arrived at the mayor’s office we found the Lawson brothers already there talking with the mayor and drinking coffee. David told the mayor his suspicion in front of the brothers and then I retold what I had told him at the mayor’s request. The brothers rejected the notion saying--though they "hated to suggest such things of such good men"--that we might be acting out of jealousy or seeking revenge. The mayor didn't want to believe it, yet, he had seen good men become corrupt due to power before. He asked for the four of us to give him some time to consider a few things. He would give us his response that next morning."

Conley's thought was beginning to feel dry but he didn't have much father to go so he went ahead and finished, "Needless to say, the mayor was torn about the issue. He ended up deciding that neither group would serve under the title of sheriff and deputy and rewarded the title to another fine man in the town. Long story short--the Lawson brothers had been messing with cults and shamans. They were seeking the power to control the mind. Goblins are easily controlled so we assume they had hired that orc shaman to cause that attack. Unfortunately, since I was the accuser and the Lawson brothers were seen as heroes, the people began to shun me. I was unable to feel welcome anywhere but in your father’s house. I could not live that way. Since my training was mostly complete, we agreed that I should leave town for a while. I was to research the cults and shamanistic practices abroad while my sensei remained in the town and carefully observed the Lawson brothers.” He stopped and looked into Katie’s eyes, “That bring us to today.”

 

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"So, are you saying that they have had it out for my father for a long time?" Katie's eyes filled with tears, but she slammed her hands on the table. "Thank you for telling me the story, Mr. Grant. But, I must be on my way. I have a man to find and kill." She pushed a piece of dark hair behind her ear and bowed. She reached for her bag and headed toward the door.

 

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Hold on a minute, Katie," started Conley, "Why do you think I asked you if you had a horse. You are in no condition to travel alone. I'm not even sure if you'd be able to stay on a horse for any lengthy period of time." He made sure he was looking him in the eyes as he said, "Your father said that you needed my help to get your revenge. I am not asking you to trust me, I am asking you to trust your father. WE need to make some preparations. If John went into the Caverns of Lolth and you intend to follow him, then you need some particular supplies first."

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Katie stopped and turned around to look at Conley. "It is true that my father asked me to find you. But, this whole time while I was searching for you, I wondered if I was doing the right thing." She looked away and sighed. "I would appreciate the help, but I want to be the one to kill him. My father was all I had left, and he took that away from me."

 

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Conley suddenly placed his arms on his hips in the classic cliché pose and laughed, "Ha! That's just fine with me. However, I'm going to go as well. That way, if you fail I can clean up the mess your father and I started back then." He suddenly got very serious and glared intensely into Katie's eyes, "After all, I said this went far beyond your revenge. This is something that could potentially affect the entire world. John Lawson has invoked powers that are now on the verge of waging war on every creature on the surface of the earth. I should never have left. Somewhere around twenty years ago! I just realized how long it's been since I left. I always looked up to your father and I never doubted he could take care of the town all on his own. I didn't think about him aging or the Lawson brothers getting more powerful than him. It's almost a shame you didn't see the battle. It would really help to know how far John developed."

He stopped for a second and said, "You may want to sit down again. At the very least what I have to say will prepare you for the kind of battle to expect if--no, when you do confront John Lawson.

He waited a moment to see if she'd comply and then continued, "Anyway, when I left, these brothers were dabbing in practices that were long thought to be extinct. Of course, some people these days deny all magic claiming that it is a myth--an urban legend. There could be nothing further from the truth. Magic is very real but not just anyone can learn to use it. There are different risks and bloodline limits involved. There are also many different types of magic. The most common magic seen today is known as clerical, priestly or holy magic. This magic is almost solely capable of healing and depends on the user having a pure or clean spirit. The source of this magic is said to be a benevolent spirit with the ability to create something from nothing. For that reason it is rarely considered magic by layman. The magic that I believe the Lawsons were practicing is a far less common magic that is rarely even understood by other magi. Arcane magic. It involves sacrifice of life, soul and eventually, will to an evil presence that has been hiding so deep and for so long that no one believed it still lived. The few legends I have been able to uncover tell of a time when this being commonly led armies to the surface and attacked those who live in the presence of natural light. This malicious being still exists in some manner. The Lawsons called upon its power and Joe died because of it. That illness was because he was exposed to the magic and had not inherited the right genes to be compatible with it. You were also exposed to a minute amount through the brothers. However, John had the genetics necessary to be able to absorb and control the arcane magic. This magic grants shaman (arcane magi) the ability to enslave others in the name of the being they get their power from. Lowly shaman can only control small creatures and simple-minded goblins. As they practice their art, they learn to control larger and larger armies of beasts. I believe those goblins and trolls who attacked here were either looking for you or for me. It’s possible that John is not working alone. That was a pitifully small force compared to the massive armies I believe they may be capable of controlling.”

 

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Katie nodded to show she understood. "But, if he was after me, he would've killed me after he killed my father. But, then again maybe he was waiting for us to meet up so he could take us both out at the same time." She started pacing as everything she had learned ran through her mind. She stopped and looked over at Conley, a slightly sad smile on her face. "Are you sure you want to risk your life for the daughter of an old friend?"

 

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Conley looked at her, "You have a lot of your mother in you, you know. I would not think twice about risking my life for for the daughter of David-sensei. Plus, I've already told you I intend to intervene. John Lawson must be stopped--and your father avenged."

 

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Katie crossed her arms and shook her head. "I still don't feel right about it. I would never be able to forgive myself if you were injured and it was my fault."

 

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"Then stay here," said Conley curtly, "I'm going. I never should have left. Now I have to make up for my mistakes. I've studied the ways of the magi and how their powers work. I have an idea of what to expect. The only problem is numbers. If John has amassed any sizable army then I won't be able to fight them all on my own." He stopped for a moment then added, "However, even if BOTH of us went together and fought, I still doubt we'd be successful. We need to find others who can help. He went underground three years ago, so I don't think we have a lot of time."

 

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"I'm not staying behind!" Katie said, raising her hand and placing it on her chest dramatically. "I will not be able to rest until I know he is dead!" Her eyes filled with tears and she raised her arm and put it across her eyes.

 

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"Come now Katie, 'a tired warrior is soon a dead warrior.' Surely your father taught you this! Besides, I don't know if you noticed, but I ended saying we need to find others who can help. You are without a doubt the daughter of David and I know you would fight to the death to avenge him and I fight to restore honor to his name. What we really need is a magi ((OOC: would you rather I said "mage"?)) of our own. We need to find people who still follow the ways of magic to help us defeat this evil magi. Unfortunately, I don't know how to find any accept for those who use priestly magic. I don't know what kind of help they would be in battle."

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"We need to get going as soon as possible. If John sent those goblins, What's to say he isn't sending another wave. As things stand now, I'm too injured to do anything." Katie started to pace again, lost in thought.

 

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See what you can do about finding a carriage or, if you think you can ride, a horse. Also gather any supplies you think we'd need. Here is some money. Please spend it practically" He hands her a rather well-filled pouch of coins--not a laughable amount of money by any means. "I'm going to go talk to a friend, Kokichi. He lives just outside this town and was one of my sources of information about magic and magi. I believe he is actually a practicing magi himself but I cannot say what type of magic he uses."

 

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Katie felt odd taking the pouch, but she did anyways. As she left the tavern, she walked toward the general store, still in thought. She was slightly happy because she was finally going to avenge her father, which is what she wanted for the past three years. After haggling and buying what they needed, she found a place that sold horses, and after haggling some more, she was able to get a horse. She knew that getting a carriage was more expensive and she didn't want to spend all of Conley's money, so she bought a horse instead. When she reached the tavern, she went back in and put her head down on the table. Before she knew it, she had fallen asleep.

 

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Meanwhile, Conley rode his horse out the town and a short distance away into the desert (@ a 20 minute ride at a steady trot.) Finally he saw the home of Kokichi just off in the distance. The old hermit had built his dwelling in the center of a large circle of quicksand. He trusted very few with the main path across and kept several alternate paths to himself. Conley dismounted and carefully led his horse across the safe path. He didn't hear anything but the tingling of chimes as they blew in the wind. He tethered his horse to a post and walked around to the front door. Finally he pulled the rope attached to a set of chimes to cause them to sound and signal his arrival.

 

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Garnet watched over Katie as he finished pack away his herbs and special magical plants. He swept a hand through his wild red hair wishing he had not forgotten the teleport scroll at his Cabin out in the shifting sands. It would take forever and then some to take the secure path that his old mentor taught him. He watched then as some less than gentlemanly men came in and began to order a few drinks eying Katie with a gleam he did not like at all. So garnet placed his right hand on his mace and slowly weaved it loose ready if need be with a quick blinding spell. He whispers to himself. "Where is Conley when you need him?"

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M E A N W H I L E,
As soon as he sounded the chimes, Conley's horse began to neigh and whinny, quickly becoming more and more urgent. Only moments later Conley began to get a headache which also increased in pressure rapidly and then--just as soon as it came it was gone. 

That's when the real chaos started.

Conley was throw back a few feet as the windows of the house exploded outward and the walls shuddered. His horse was silent now. He quickly bolted upright, flung open the door and stepped inside. He could merely gawk, his left hand on the pommel of his hilt and his right arm dangling at his side. What he saw was Kokichi breathing heavily, beads of sweat pouring down the back of his head and drenching his clothes. Just beyond the old sage stood an ominous man in a dark hooded-robe. This man was also breathing hard, but seeing Conley, he removed his hood to reveal a wicked grin of perverse pleasure and a face that was unmistakably John Lawson's. "Well if it isn't the swordmaster's apprentice himself. When I discovered how much this old koot knew I just HAD to come pay him a visit. It would seem that the destinies of my acquaintances are indeed intertwined with the histories of their forefathers. Hehehehe." Kokichi quickly weaved hand-signs in the second that John closed his eyes in laughter. Just as John realized what Kokichi was about to do, the elderly sage clapped his hands together causing a brilliant flash of light. Conley had not been prepared for that flash and was instantly blinded by the light. Thankfully instinct took over and he flung himself to the left to make sure he wasn't in the same spot he had been until now. He could hear the sound of a blade making contact with wood, the sound of a scroll unrolling and a strange utterance. Finally his eyes began to adjust and he saw things he could not understand, but didn't take the time to try. John stood to his left with his arm stuck in a pillar and encased in a prison made of fierce light resembling the lightning of the sky. Across the room Kokichi called for Conley to run to him. Conley quickly obeyed and Kokichi handed him two scrolls. "Listen! I want you to open the red tinged scroll, cut the palm of you hand and apply it to the center of the design. This will instantly teleport you to my apprentice. Give him--" Suddenly John burst from his cage, the lightning dispersing into the air. "Give him the other scroll! GO NOW!!!"

 

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The men didn't cause much trouble a first. They were loud, rambunctious and had already had a drink or two elsewhere. After downing their first round and ordering a second, one man gave he other a light shove and stood up from his stool with a smile that looked more fiendish than friendly. The two men clumsily strutted toward the sleeping figure of Katie--although, they obviously thought they appeared to be casually meandering. The second man gave a couple nervous looks over to the drunkard but his hesitation was dismissed when he saw the smug and confident look on his cohort's face. That was the last thing he'd see for quite a while...

Garnet unleashed the blinding spell and then stood and took a quick step toward the two men bringing the mace hilt to the head of the one closest to him. After that initial strike Garnet's day took a slight turn for the worse...

The other man wildly swung his arm in a moment of panic. By pure chance he managed to slam the back of his hand into Garnet's jaw. Garnet was knocked back by the completely unexpected blow and it's surprising force, however, he quickly recovered and retaliated with a little more force than necessary. He touched above the side of his top lip as he tasted his own blood in his mouth. Seeing a little blood on his fingers he walked over the the bar and asked Barlow for a glass of water. He turned around, closed his eyes and sipped a bit of the water to rinse his mouth. It was at that moment that he felt the air around him shift and the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. Magic. He grabbed his mace and swung in front of him...


...just in time to nail Conley in the side of the head.

 

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Katie's eyes snapped open when she felt a change in the air. She looked up just as Garnet's mace collided with Conley's head.
"Conley!" Katie yelled.
She jumped up and rushed over to Conley, ignoring the bodies on the floor. She kneeled beside him and pulled out her handkerchief in case he was bleeding somewhere. She glared up at Garnet.
"Why did you do that?" she asked.

 

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Garnet was just as surprised as she and swore under his breath as he quickly knelt and pulled out his medical supplies. "It was an accident," he said to Katie--truly hoping she'd understand. "the first moments of materializing with the teleport scroll leave one partially immaterial. There'll be no permanent damage… I hope.

 

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"You hope?!" Katie asked. "You could have taken his head off!"
Katie grabbed Conley's head gently and placed it on her lap so Garnet could look at it better. 
"Do you think we should take him to a doctor or something?" Katie asked anxiously.

 

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Garnet closed his eyes for a brief second--holding back a bit of frustration. "In case you didn't remember from earlier, I AM the doctor. I thought he was attacking me and NEVER would have guessed that he had a teleport scro--When did he even have time to prepare one for this location!? I would have noticed if he--" Garnet pauses for half a moment and points at Conley, "He's coming to."

 

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Conley squeezed his eyes shut tight from the throbbing pain in his head. He groaned and then spoke to himself, "I didn't expect teleporting to hurt this badly." He reached his hand up to rub his temple tenderly, "That's not a experience I want to go through again." Then he opened his eyes and saw his two acquaintances--no, friends--standing over him. After a brief moment he mentally corrected himself--kneeling and leaning over him. He also realized that his head was up on Katie's lap.

 

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Conley!" Katie cried, seeing his eyes open. "Thank God your okay!"
She kept herself from hugging him, he was injured after all.
"How are you feeling?" she asked.

 

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Conley wiped his hand across his face as he tightly squeezed his eyes shut. Then as he was sitting up he saw Garnet and said, "You had better be able to tell me why Kokichi's scroll sent me to yo--you! You're his apprentice!?" He paused for a second to turn toward Katie and quickly say, "Sorry for ignoring you. I'm just fine but," turning back to Garnet he said, "Other people, like your master are dying, at John Lawson's hands and it's up to us to stop him!" He stood up as he continued, "Kokichi was just barely able to hold him off long enough to send me here to give you this scroll." He then handed Garnet the scroll made with green-tinged parchment.

 

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Katie stood up and ignored the conversation that was happening in front of her. She turned toward the door and spoke to Conley.
"Where did you see Lawson?" Katie asked, bitterness in her voice. "I am going to get my revenge!"

 

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"Kokichi's place--in the desert," Conley muttered while rubbing his temple from a headache that just appeared," You won't be able to find it if you haven't been before." He slowly tried to get to his feet.

 

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Garnet stood up and reached down to help Conley rise. "I don't need to open this scroll to know what it is. Kokichi-Sensei taught me well and was always prepared for any situation. He--he had better have found a way to survive, for Lawson's sake!" His voice as rising as he spoke, "If he manages to kill my Sensei then I will use all of the powers at my disposal to completely PURGE him from he face of this earth!" Now beginning to calm down, he raised the scroll just above his head and looked up at it, "This one scroll is the key."

 

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"The key? The key to what?" Katie asked.
She walked back toward the two men, forgetting about her revenge at the moment.
"Can that scroll help us in some way?" she asked again, anxiously.

 

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Garnet smiled grimly as he faced Conley and Katie, "It's the key to squashing the spider."    >:)