[AW] wherever people go who go on together
wc: 333
Winter was a miserable time of year, especially now when they were in the thick of it. The nights were long and bitterly cold, and often plagued by snow or freezing rain. With the full moon nearing, there had been more light on nights when it was clear. The halo of light around the moon suggested snow was coming, however, and Marlowe heeded this warning well. He would not allow himself to be caught out in a blizzard again.

Luckily, and by design, he was not required to go further than he wished. Marlowe was glad for the building that now protected The Troupe, but even more so for the amount of goods they were able to bring in. This allowed them to relax a little when it came to basic necessities. They still gathered things like firewood and water, but customers often brought meat and other edibles to afford their entry. Food was easy to come by – hunters managed well enough, and a clever trapper could net several animals in a single day. Even the nearby Loch provided options despite the salty water not being safe to drink.

He didn't need to worry about much these days. No one expected all that much from him, given that his role mostly involved handling the messy things the others couldn't manage. They hadn't needed to move any more bodies, luckily, but keeping their debtors from taking advantage of Calrian's generosity was something Marlowe sought to stamp out. The most grievous of his borrowers were Holli, who had trapped herself in a cycle of debt, and Casimir, whom had gambled away an heirloom sword.

The latter of the two was why he was back out on the floor, handling the poker table. Marlowe had just finished a round with a collection of players and the table was clearing out. He gathered up the cards and began shuffling them, hoping for something more interesting to break the monotony of the job before the night ended.
The whole question here is: am I a monster, or a victim myself?
While it was true that Casimir had hoped to never set foot in La Roja again, a bottle of wine had helped to reinvigorate his sense of purpose. It was revelatory, the little bit of power that a good drink could offer, and suddenly not even the long trudge through Drifter Bay could deter him.

It wasn't until he found himself staring down the hallway and being jostled side to side by raucous parties that he realized what had happened. As he turned to leave, he made the fatal mistake of glancing into the one of the gambling rooms. Although part of his soul kept on walking straight out the door, the rest of him froze to the spot.

The Shark was there.

He was there.

Of course he was there.

"You alright, man?" A hand gripped his shoulder, and the sick-sweet smell of the local grass filled his nose. "You've been standing there for like, forever."

"That's him," He said to the stranger, to himself. "I'm going to do it."

"Ha ha alright. Do what?"

Casimir patted away his hand, and inhaling deeply, marched into the room. He had to do this, no matter the cost. He wasn't going to send that letter to his father. He was going to get his sword back, train a new horse, and then join the hunt for the woman who'd attacked their kingdom.

But first things first.

"I'm back." He announced to Marlowe. His bravado extinguished quite suddenly when he realized he'd only stated the obvious. "And I-I'm not leaving, not until I get my sword back."
(---) | NPCs:
He's is trying his best
As if predetermined by fate, the swordsman returned that very day.

Whatever doubt was left in his mind when it came to the nature of the weapon was removed in an instant. The timing of his return felt too coincidental to be accidental. For a superstitious man, it rang of that greater overseeing force. They called it Lady Luck here, but Marlowe had always known it as the Spirit. In Scintilla, there had been strange barriers between God, the Speakers, and the true believers. When faith was stripped down to its roots, what was left behind was the supernatural dread that had all but become second instinct.

Warnings did not need to come from the dead or fortune-cards. Simply put, Marlowe refused to die. He could give up wealth if owning it might risk his immortal soul. It was easy for him to overlook all the evil he had done – justification undid all wicked things. The longer he lived, the easier it was to believe he had balanced the scales.

The dog had purple eyes. In the torchlight they caught strange colors. There was something different about the man. His stance, perhaps, or the way he was walking. Casimir hadn't been fully sober the last time they played cards, and he hadn't been paying enough attention. Marlowe would have blamed the young man's arrogance, not knowing what kind of person he really was.

“Is that so?” Marlowe asked. He put the cards down on the table.

Then he stood up.

Casimir was a full head taller than Marlowe, who was stocky and scruffy looking in comparison to the sleek looking dog. There was more gray in the coyote's hair than there had been even a year ago. It was starting to spread along his face too. Marlowe's hawkish eyes and the scars on his body betrayed his experience when it came to violence. The knife on his belt might have been a utilitarian one if not for the way Marlowe's hand lingered near it.

“We should go somewhere else and talk.”
The whole question here is: am I a monster, or a victim myself?

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