Ravenholdt RP Sanctum Azeroth Press The Twisting Nether Gazette Wowpedia
Forum rules
This forum is used to post any stories following members of the Alliance, collaborative or otherwise. Horde characters can participate too. If you expect roughly equal posting from both sides, please post to the Cross-Faction forum instead. For stories taking place in the past, please post to the Backstories forum. For projects that might benefit from one, feel free to start an OOC companion thread in the Roleplaying forum.
Thomas Jarington
Thomas Jarington
Posts: 210
Joined: April 8th, 2014, 10:55 am
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Thomas Jarington

Re: John Bradford's Belt

Postby Thomas Jarington » May 21st, 2014, 9:28 pm

((another long one, sorry. I was inspired and had time on my hands. Enjoy!))


The men drank their ale and discussed Kingsley's trip, namely the characters he encountered during his interviews. Daniels finished scrubbing mugs and joined them at the table, as he normally did when times were slow. Brianna was out gathering supplies for the night time special of Westfall stew, while the rest of the staff went about their chores.

"She called herself Glory?" Bradley said, wiping his mouth after a deep draw of ale. Kingsley nodded, drinking from his mug as well. "Yes," Kingsley said after finishing. "And there was nothing glorious about the woman, I can assure you." Daniels roared in laughter and Michael smiled, shaking his head.

"Now, now, Constable," Michael said. "That ain't too kindly of ya. There's no tellin what sorta life that woman's lived." He looked at Bradley, then back to Kingsley. "Fel, she coulda been a bard for all you know." Bradley about spit his ale onto the table.

"Bard?!" he said, catching the dribbling drink with his sleeve. "Are you kiddin' me? That woman sounded down rat nasty!" He shook his head. "Bard. Yea," he snorted. "Sure she is. I can tell ya what she sang and it weren't no songs, neither!"

"And Mad Dog's mom thinks he's a knight?" Daniels said, ignoring Bradley's hook while resting his chin in the palm of his hand - leaning on the table. He wasn't drinking; Orders from the boss. "Don't that beat all." Kingsley nodded and sipped his ale once more.

"That is what Madam Morley told me," he replied. "And she believed him, which I find even more insane."

"Anyway," he said. "It is good to be back and have some sort of sense about where we are on this case. By learning that Wiggins is our missing fourth man, we can focus on him and his whereabouts."

"What about them guards," Michael said, leaning back in his chair and crossing his arms. "I say Blackcroft and his old buddy Barnaby should be where we focus our attention." Kingsley gave the man an incredulous look.

"Have you been sleeping these past few days, Michael?" he said. "There were four teamsters and we have only found three.

"Yea, so?" Kingsley opened his mouth, pausing to gather his thoughts. Talk about overly suspicious, he thought, watching Bradley nod at his friend's words.

"Listen here, you two," Kingsley said, his voice growing stern and official. "Until we discover where Bill Wiggins is, you will leave those two guards alone." The men seemed taken aback at Kingsley's tone, initially, then pursed their lips and straightened up.

"Now just wait one damned minute," Michael started, pointing a finger at Kingsley. "If you think you can tell us..."

"I CAN tell you," Kingsley said, "Mister Bradford. I work for his Lordship and if you want your brother's killers found, you will do as I say. Exactly as I say and when I say it." He snapped his small notepad shut with thwap.

"Or I, and his Lordship, are OFF THE CASE." He opened his arms. "You can find him on your own, without the resources of the township or the Magistrate." He leaned back in his chair. "What will it be, Bradford?"

"Okay, okay," Bradley said, raising both hands to interject himself between Michael and Kingsley. "There ain't no need for hos-stile b'avior between us." He looked at Kingsley. "We just concerned's all. Right Mike?" Michael heaved a sigh, easing back from his aggressive posture.

"I reckon there ain't," he said, his voice growing softer. "I just get so riled up thinkin' about poor John layin' out there for them Gnolls to chew on's all. Ain't fair and it ain't right that those damn Guards knowed about it and didn't do a Light damned thing."

Kingsley nodded, reaching over to pat Michael's arm. "I know, Michael," he said, his voice becoming more consoling. "They knew about the shipment not coming, but we have no proof that they knew anything about John and his crew being killed."

"It is the reason you must trust me on this, Michael," he said, mocking his gaze between both men. "You, too, Bradley. I know what I am doing." Kingsley sighed as the men nodded, then moved his gaze to Daniels. "Could you get us another pitcher, Mister Daniels? I think we need another drink."

As the bartender left to refill the mugs, Kingsley leaned close to the others. "If they were, somehow, responsible, then it is imperative to discover the whereabouts of Bill Wiggins so we can have solid evidence." He leaned back, noting both men were listening.

"And if they are not," he continued. "It is even MORE important to find Wiggins, while remaining on good terms with the Guard. If Bill Wiggins killed the crew, we will need Stormwind's assistance in apprehending the villain."

"Shoot," Bradley said. "We could do it our ownselves, leave them outta it all together." Kingsley rolled his eyes. "And then you would end up in prison for murder." Bradley feigned innocence. "I never said we'd kill em, Kingsley," he said, giving Michael a knowing glance. "Just handle it ourselves, in a Redridge sorta way."

Kingsley nodded. "Yes," he said. "Which means roughing him up until he accidentally died, is that it?" Both men looked down, murmuring under their breaths. "What did I just ask?"

"PLEASE, do it my way? If not, then I can no longer help you." Daniels arrived with a refilled jug of ale and placed it on the table.

"Alright," Michael said, then gave Bradley a shit-eating grin. "but it shore would be fun to rough up a villain er two, right Bradley?"

"Uh, huh," Bradley drawled, refilling his mug. "Redridge Style!" Kingsley chuckled, shook his head and refilled his mug. He figured it would be much better to let them have their fun talking about what they would do to said villain, then actually doing the deed.

===============================

Eventually, the conversation about the definition of Redridge Style died down, leaving all four men in tears from laughter. Kingsley admitted to himself that it WAS rather fun to imagine doing villainous things to criminals, even though he would never act out on them.

"Now," Kingsley said, wiping a laughter-induced tear from his eye. "How would you, two, prefer to go about finding Bill Wiggins? I am open for suggestions."

"Whelp," Bradley said. "We could head back out to the old track, maybe go a bit deeper into the woods - see what we turn up." Kingsley nodded, looking toward the ceiling as he thought. "That IS a possibility. Dangerous, but perhaps necessary." He faced the three men, as Daniels had joined them once more.

"If you were Wiggins and wanted to hijack a shipment of Funk," Kingsley said. "How would you do it? For instance, you are riding shotgun for a wagon-load of beverage. You and the driver are up front, both heavily armed with double barrel shotguns. The men in back are also armed - Mad Dog with dynamite, and Dagget with unknown weapons; Rifle or shotgun, probably."

"How would you pull it off?"

Bradley scratched his head, while Michael rubbed his beard. Daniels looked into his drink - all three men deep in thought; Kingsley too. "I'm doin it alone?" Bradley said, looking up and Kingsley. The constable nodded, but said nothing. "I see," Bradley replied, nodding.

"Whelp," he said, running his tongue along the inside of his lip. "I'd had plenty a time to plot, seein I been riding this route for some time, so, maybe..."

"Yea," he said, looking up. "I'd get myself sent to tha back, like I'm not feelin well er something like that. Maybe lay across tha crates so that folks are behind me and in front. Get Dagget to ride shotgun fer me."

"Who'd ya take out first," Michael said. "Mad Dog?"

"Yup," Daniels said, still staring into his drink. "Shoot Mad Dog in the back while the others are lookin forward." He looked up at the other three men. "The others'll think we're under attack and pick up the pace, maybe even duckin."

Michael nodded. "John always said you ride away from danger when shippin goods. The men in back's job is to handle the rear, and with Wiggins and his shotgun, ain't none gonna get too close."

"Then," Bradley added. "I'd pop Dagget with the other barrel, blow him clean in half, leavin John for last, seein he's tryin ta get us the fel outta trouble."

"He'd never know what hit him," Michael whispered, his face going pale. His eyes met Kingsley's, seeing awareness. "Fel, Wiggins coulda done it. Damn, but he coulda."

Kingsley nodded. "Yes," he said. "There is some sense in that." The other men fell silent, staring into their drinks.

"Okay," he continued, flipping his notepad open and standing, his face taking on an air of excitement. "Let us assume that this is how it went down." He motioned for the others to stand, then clear the table. "Let us pretend this table is the wagon. Daniels? You are Wiggins, since it is your plan."

"Where should we sit?"

"Mike," Daniels said. "You be John, seein how he's your brother an all." He pointed to a drivers position. "Sit there, your back to the rest of us." He pointed at Bradley. "You be Dagget and ride shotgun this trip; assume you have a shotgun as well."

The two men moved into position, with Michael holding pretend reigns and Brad holding his very real rifle; empty, of course. "Kingsley," Daniels said. "You be Mad Dog and sit on the end of the wagon. Dangle your legs of the end." The constable did as instructed, even took a hand full of forks to pretend they were sticks of dynamite.

"Dagget's wife said he liked to blow up rabbits while they were traveling," he said, seeing the odd looks in the men's eyes. "Maybe Mad Dog would do so as well."

"Ah," Daniels said. "Nice bastard, this Morley fellah. Knight?" Kingsley nodded.

"On a quest."

"I'll be Wiggins," Daniels said, climbing atop the table after grabbing his own shotgun from behind the counter. It, too, was empty. "If I wanted to do this, I would sit so I could blast ole Mad Dog, then turn as fast as possible to blow away Dagget."

Daniels pretened to shoot Kingsley in the back, making a loud BLAM! that filled the tavern - earning looks from the kitchen as the cook stuck his head out, concerned. Kingsley hopped from the table and turned, walking around the scene and nodding as he inspected.

"Yes," he said, leaning his head to the side. "Wiggins would need to be more behind John in order to turn on Dagget." Daniels moved to his right, earning a nod from Kingsley. "Right, and closer to Mad Dog's position, but just a bit." He held his chin in his hand, rubbing it between his fingers.

"Okay, Daniels," he said. "That looks about right. Let us try again, this time going at full speed."

The men performed the scene again, with Kingsley/Mad Dog jumping and turning as Daniels turned on Bradley/Dagget. Another BLAM! and Bradley/Dagget jumped from the table. Kingsley looked at Daniels. "Now, what?"

"If I'm John," Michael said, "I've ducked low and popped the reigns on the horses, tryin to get away as fast as possible. The second shot might throw WIggins off balance, he might miss."

"With a shotgun?" Daniels exclaimed. "From this close?" He shook his head. "Not on yer life, pal. It might not blow him in half, but it'd sure as fel knock a chunk outta him."

Kingsley bobbed his head as he considered the situation. Based upon what Michael said, as well as his own experience watching wagons being delivered, John would not look back nor stop. His job was to get the goods to town, while his men were there to see that the load made it in one piece.

"It works," Kingsley finally said, looking up at Michael, who was now excited about the prospect of discovering the killer. "Nice work, gentlemen. It is quite apparent to me that Bill Wiggins could have hijacked this shipment using a technique very similar to what we simulated."

As the men began re-setting the table, discussing how it could have happened and what to do about it, Kingsley flipped open his notebook to one very important page: Glorfindle Wiggins interview.

"However," Kingsley said, capturing their attention. "There is one fact we must not discount: Bill and John were best friends. Why would Bill Wiggins murder his best friend, kill the crew and hijack the shipment?" The men went silent, frowning as they considered the contsable's words.

"Also," he continued. "There is the matter of the shipment itself. Where did he take it? If, indeed, he was the hijacker, there is large delivery of Funk floating around; twelve cases to be precise - missing and unaccounted for." I wonder if Bogpaddle Beverage numbered and dated their cases or bottles? Kingsley thought, quickly capturing the idea. I'll need to look into that.

"Well, damn, Kingsley," Bradley said. "You got us all worked up about Wiggins and now ya sayin' he didn't do it?" Michael nodded, giving Bradley a knowing look. Daniels seemed concerned as well.

"No," Kingsley said. "I am not saying one way or another. I am merely pointing out that there are still many, many unanswered questions before we point a finger."

"What we have done is prove that Wiggins could have hijacked this shipment by himself," Kingsley said. "Quite easily, I might add, if our simulation is any clue. What we do NOT know is the motive. Why do this? Why murder your best friend over a single load of Funk? Where is the shipment itself? Where is Wiggins?"

"And why would he bury 'em?" Bradley added, rubbing his chin. "Shotgun blasts carry, especially in them woods. Gnolls woulda been on him like bees on honey."

"Yet he carefully buried and concealed the grave," Kingsley said, nodding thoughtfully. all before a scavenging party could arrive."

"Good point, Bradley. I had put aside the grave from my current thought process."

"What do we do now?" Michael said, his excitement faded now into disappointment. "Seems we're rat back where we started."

"Indeed we are not!" Kingsley said. "We have learned plenty, and not only that, we have clear directions to follow up with."

"Such as?"

"First," Kingsley said, ticking off his fingers. "We need to find friends of Bill Wiggins. I imagine there are some in Bogpaddle. We can also have a visit with the Crimson Lotus, the company who hired him. They should be willing to share information; for a price, anyway."

"The point is to find out if there were grudges between Wiggins and Bradford, anything at all, that might lead him to do something like hijacking and killing his friends and crew."

"Second," he said, lifting another finger. "We need to scour the entire old track for signs of Wiggins. That was not on their typical route, therefore, the wagon was forced to go that way. Perhaps it played out like we acted, perhaps not."

"Either way, we will need to search the entire area for clues." He shrugged. "For all we know, the wagon is torn to pieces inside a Gnoll camp just over the hill."

"Three: we should follow a line of reasoning that Bill Wiggins successfully hijacked the load and took it somewhere." He looked at Michael and Bradley. "We need to find that 'somewhere'. Funk is a banned substance in Stormwind held lands. If the crates still exist, we must find it."

"Finally," he said, lifting his fourth finger. "We must find Bill Wiggins. Without him, or his body, we will never know what truly happened to John Bradford and his crew."

"Say," Daniels said, taking up his normal position behind the bar as the men decided on who was doing what. "You could always get yerself a troll to resurrect ole John, have him tell ya who killed him."

The idea was so shocking, the men simply stared at Daniels for what seemed like a very long time. He laughed. "I was just teasin," he said. "Read it in a book somewhere bout hoodoo, or something like that."

"Ain't funny," Michael snorted, gathering his things. Kingsley shook his head and scowled at Daniels.

"Not one bit," Kingsley stated. "Good day to you, Daniels. Thank you for your assistance."
Thomas Jarington & Co.

Thomas Jarington
Thomas Jarington
Posts: 210
Joined: April 8th, 2014, 10:55 am
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Thomas Jarington

Re: John Bradford's Belt

Postby Thomas Jarington » May 28th, 2014, 9:13 pm

Kingsley, Michael and Bradley stood outside of the Lakeshire tavern and stared toward the lake, paying no mind to the passerby's that gave the trio a look before moving on. People still had jobs to do, chores to manage and places to be, so the sight of three men loitering caused no stir - even among the Stormwind City Guards who still patrolled the township.

"Whelp," Bradley said, shouldering his rifle and looking at his companions. "I reckon I'll take up number two and go have a look-see along the old track. Now that I know what to look fer, I bet I can find more clues into ole Bill Wiggins's whereabouts."

"You coming, Mike?" Michael shook his head. "Nah, man," he replied. "I ain't one for duking it out with Gnolls. 'Sides, I'd just slow ya down." Bradley nodded. "A'ight," he said. "I'll head on out that way." He gave Kingsley a questioning look. "When we meetin' up next?"

Kingsley thought for a moment. "How long will it take you to explore the region, Bradley?" Kingsley said.

"Don't rightly know," he said with a shrug. "As long as it takes, I reckon. Gimme a week and I should have a better idea."

"Very well, Mister Chaucer," Kingsley said, extending his hand to shake. "We shall meet here in one week's time to go over what we have learned." He raised a finger to make a point. "Remember, keep good notes and document anything out of the ordinary. If you are not certain, do so anyway."

"Gotcha," Bradley said, shaking Kingsley's hand before reaching for Michael's. "Mike? We're getting closer, man, We'll nail these bastards that kilt yer brother."

"Thanks, Brad," he said, shaking his friend's hand. "I know we will. Good luck and I'll see ya in a week."

The pair watched as Bradley walked toward the stable. A pair of gulls swooped low, just over Bradley's head, apparently hoping for a meal. Seeing none existed, they continued their flight toward an approaching rowboat upon the lake - a fisherman heading in with his morning catch.

"Good man," Kingsley said as Bradley disappeared into the stable. "Yup," Michael said, his eyes on the gulls who now swarmed the back of the fisherman's boat as he disposed of his left over bait.

"One of tha best, Kingsley." He turned his eyes upon the constable. "Where do ya want me to head? I was thinkin' I might check into Wiggin's friends up in Bogpaddle; see if they know where he mighta runt off to."

"I was thinking of going there myself," Kingsley said, smiling. "But now that you are, I might take another route and meet up later. Do you mind if I join you in a few days?"

"Sounds good," Michael said, grinning. "I was hopin' you'd be interested in comin with me. Want me ta wait 'til you get back?" Kingsley shook his head.

"No," he said. "Missus Wiggins has already met me and might not be as keen to answer questions. You," he said, pointing at Michael, "are another matter. John's Brother?" He shook his head. "I would imagine she will talk your ear off about your Bradford. I believe she had feelings for him."

"Feelings?" Michael said. "The one called Glory?" He chuckled. "I reckon she had feelin's for all sorta men, Kingsley. John just happened ta be handy's all."

"Regardless," Kingsley said. "Showing up to look for your brother might get us some information she might not have shared with me." Michael nodded. "Give us clues into his friends as well. Start there and work outwards."

"Where you headin, then?" he asked Kingsley. "Checkin into the Lotus?"

"I think I might enlist the aid of our friends at the Garrison," Kingsley said, his eyes wandering toward the fisherman who had now docked his dinghy at the pier. A pair of the local children dashed toward the boat, asking to see his biggest fish. "They might be able to find Wiggins for us, if he is out there."

"Them Guards?" Michael said, placing his hands on his hips. He was about to add more words, but the scowl that Kingsley gave shut him up. "Yea, reckon it can't hurt." Kingsley smiled, nodding once.

"Yes," he said. "It certainly cannot. In fact, I was going to..." He stopped, his attention drawn to the fisherman as he called out to the dockworker about a location he had dropped off supplies: Everstill Landing.

"Where is Everstill Landing?" Kingsley said, turning toward Michael. "I have only been in Lakeshire for a month or so. I cannot say I have ever heard of it."

"No?" Michael said. "It's a little landin' across the lake. Bravo Company created it when they took on them Blackrocks what tried to invade Lakeshire. Just below Stonewatch Keep, which was once them orcs base of operations." Kingsley crossed his arms and cocked his head. "Really? Huh."

"Yup," Michael said, watching the kids cheer at a very large fish the man lifted from his dinghy. "Rumour had it Oslo was buildin' boats to run funk from there to Lakeshire. After John's load went missin, Bogpaddle Beverage put a telportin system in place." He pointed a finger toward the east. "Way off toward them mountains."

"What happened to it?" Kingsley said. "Is it still there?"

"Nah," Michael said. "Goblins lit outta here when the the bombin happened. No funk ever came across the lake, so far as I know."

"Interesting," Kingsley said. "I wonder if it was in place when John and his team were killed?" Michael shook his head.

"Far as I know," he said. "That system only went in after tha riots. They's talked about it, though. Maybe they was buildin it, maybe not." He shrugged. "I can't rightly say."

Kingsley nodded, looking toward the distant mountains where Michael had pointed. "Yes," he murmured. "Very interesting." He turned toward Michael. "Well," he continued. "It is something we will need to look into. Perhaps once we meet back here in a week."

"Good luck, Mister Bradford," Kingsley said, extending his hand to shake.

"I will meet you in Bogpaddle in two days time."
Thomas Jarington & Co.

Thomas Jarington
Thomas Jarington
Posts: 210
Joined: April 8th, 2014, 10:55 am
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Thomas Jarington

Re: John Bradford's Belt

Postby Thomas Jarington » May 29th, 2014, 9:00 pm

The trip to Elwynn was pleasant and soothing for Constable Geoff Kingsley. He hated flying on those infernal griffons and always had the feeling they would rather be eating him than providing a ride. Fortunately, Goldshire was fairly close and the roads well maintained, so traveling atop his black stallion was the natural choice.

He was also certain that Hobbs did not want to eat him, as he preferred apples over Kingsleys.

The road was quiet, the streets empty and so was the Lion's Pride - renamed to it's original after the infamous Shana Catai had disappeared, along with her 'court'. Some claimed it was a sad day for the tavern and all life had been drained from it's walls. Others felt it was better: quiet, serene and peaceful - just like a small village pub SHOULD be.

Regardless of the current ownership, Kingsley walked in through the open door and found a seat next to the bar. There were plenty, of course, and not a patron in sight. A terrific place to think and plan how best to use the Guard to find Wiggins for him.

"What'll it be, friend?" the barkeep asked - a man named Dobbins. "Bourbon is our specialty."

"Juice," Kingsley said, looking up from his notes at the white-aproned barkeep. "Moonberry if you have it." Dobbins shook his head. "None uh that," he said. "But I got the regular stuff. Mug or glass?"

"Glass," Kingsley said. "Just juice, no ice."

"Comin' right up," Dobbins said. "Reckon it's a mite early for bourbon anyway." Kingsley nodded and looked back to his notes, not bothering to reply - instead focusing his mind on how to find Wiggins.

If the guards knew the wagon was not coming, he thought. What does that mean? Did they see it leaving Redridge? Did they see it destroyed? How would they know. He flipped though the previous conversation with Officer Blackcroft, the one who gave two versions of how they knew - neither truthful. Why would Blackcroft say that he was told when that clearly was not the case? He shook his head just as the juice arrived.

"Here ya go, friend," Dobbins said. "Want me to start a tab for you?"

"What?" Kingsley said, narrowing his eyes and blinking at Dobbins. "Start? Oh!" he laughed. "My apologies. I was deep in thought. Of course, thank you. A tab would be delightful." Dobbins nodded.

"Got a name to put on it?"

"Kingsley, Geoff Kingsley."

"Got it," Dobbins said, writing the name down on a greasy paper napkin. "Just holler when you're ready for a refill. I'll be in the back preparing the evening fare."

Only one reason to be deceitful, he thought, lifting the glass of cold juice to his lips. Apple, from the smell. He took a sip. To hide something. He looked into the glass and swirled the juice. It was good; fresh, too.

What were they hiding? He tapped his pencil against the pad, biting his lower lip as a plan began to take shape. Subtle, simple and play off of their words. See what takes shape, then follow the thread - the curtain of deceit would then unravel.

Kingsley took a swig of juice and prepared to leave for the Garrison. Officer Blackcroft was an accommodating fellow, even if one of the culprits in the coverup. Still, the man was willing to talk. If Kingsley was nice enough, the Guard might even be willing to help.

Which will lead me right to the stray thread.

It was then that Verin Blackcroft walked into the Lion's Pride Inn - as if summoned.

"Officer Blackcroft!" Kingsley said, standing to greet the Guardsman as he approached the bar. "Just the man I wanted to see."
Thomas Jarington & Co.

Thomas Jarington
Thomas Jarington
Posts: 210
Joined: April 8th, 2014, 10:55 am
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Thomas Jarington

Re: John Bradford's Belt

Postby Thomas Jarington » June 2nd, 2014, 10:47 am

Meanwhile, near the head of the Old Track in Redridge...

Bradley Chaucer was back in his preferred element and happier than a Gnoll gnawing on a fresh leg bone. His wolf companion, a long-legged, mottled timber wolf named Gnash, looped along beside him - apparently just as happy. Playful for an animal it's size, he enjoyed nothing more than to root out a rabbit from it's den, chase it through the brush and scare a year off of it's life before letting it go.

They were headed to the forest - just the place a Hunter and his Companion belonged.

It was around mid-morning as the pair approached the break in the fence that marked the turn off for the Old Track. A former highway leading to Stonewatch Keep, the road had been long abandoned - only used by hunters and adventurers out looking for excitement or treasure.

"And by Funk runners," he said out loud, easing back on the reigns and slowing his stallion. He frowned as something he had failed to notice caught his attention: a downed tree rolled to the side of the main road. He pulled the reigns, halting his horse's trot and stared at the tree, rubbing his chin.

"Why would Funk runners use the old track, anyways," he said as if his companion would have an answer. Men take the easiest path, Gnash said in his mind. It is the way of man to be lazy. Brad nodded, knowing it was the truth of things. He hunted beyond a place he called the lazy line: the spot where others refused to go further due to the effort required. "So why go down the Old Track?"

Dismounting, he left his horse to eat grass along the road as he walked to the fallen tree. Not overly huge, it was still thick enough to have required some effort to clear it away. His eyes narrowed on the ends, the reason for the felling becoming apparent as he inspected the base.

"It's been chopped," he said, kneeling beside the hacked up end. Gnash yelped in agreement. Man always chops trees, he said into Bradley's mind. They cut and burn. It is the way of man.

"Yes," Brad said, running his hand over the cut marks. One side was cut higher than the other, which meant it was intended to fall a certain way. It was not a deadfall, it was cut on purpose. "Men use wood to build houses, boats, other things like that."

Man wastes, Gnash said, sniffing the end of the tree. Cuts and leaves to rot. Brad leaned back on his heels and reached into his tobacco pouch, lifting a plug to plop into his mouth as his eyes scoured the surrounding landscape. "Not Lakeshiremen," he said to Gnash. "Can't afford to waste materials in this district."

The heaviest part of the tree is the trunk, he thought, standing and looking up the incline from where the fallen tree now lay. Whomever had cleared the road would not roll the heaviest part of the tree clear across the highway; just drag the end to the same side. Which means the stump should be...

"There it is," he said, walking up the hill to where a stump peeked through the tall grass and flowers that attempted to hide the damage. Gnash followed, his nose to the ground as if seeking a rabbit. "Yup," he said as he arrived. "Same one. See here?" he said, looking at his companion, who now sniffed the stump. "One high cut, one low cut."

Brad walked around the stump so he was directly behind the highest notch. "You cut low on the side ya want her to fall," he said, showing Gnash where the lower chops were made. "Ya make yerself a notch, then go 'round here and cut a high slice into tha upper end, opposite tha notch. Weight of the tree breaks and falls in line of the notch you made."

He pointed toward the location the notch indicated: right across the road. "Damn," he said, spitting his first wad of juice into the high grass. "Someone cut this thang to block tha road, Gnash. Now why would they do that, ya think?"

Force prey into an ambush, Gnash said with a yelp. Wagons cannot cross trees, so they must go around. A single wolf in a pack will force prey to go where the pack wants, leading the prey into the ambush of the pack. Brad's eyes met those of his companion.

"Well, I'll be," he said, spitting another wad of juice. "Yer rat. Droppin that tree woulda sent tha wagon up that-away, rat where they was kilt." He rubbed his chin, looking off into the forest where the shallow grave had been discovered. "If Wiggins was tha killer," Brad said, narrowing his eyes in thought. "Then he weren't workin alone. No way he coulda cut that tree and kilt his friends all by hisself."

"Nope," he said, shaking his head as a large bird of prey winged over head, it's screech echoing throughout the forest. "No way atall."

Bradley reached into his side pouch and lifted a small notepad similar to the one Kingsley used. The man had instructed him to make notes on anything he found out of the ordinary, and this certainly qualified. He drew a small diagram that showed the tree, the turn in the road - the direction the wagon would have gone if he and Gnash were correct.

"Whelp," he said, snapping the notepad shut once he finished. "If this is how tha hunts gonna start, we'll have ole Wiggins by the end uh tha day."
Thomas Jarington & Co.

Thomas Jarington
Thomas Jarington
Posts: 210
Joined: April 8th, 2014, 10:55 am
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Thomas Jarington

Re: John Bradford's Belt

Postby Thomas Jarington » June 20th, 2014, 12:14 am

Geoff Kingsley left the Lion's Pride Inn with more questions than answers; certainly not something he had planned. Which, of course, put him into a slightly annoyed mood. Blackcroft had been forthcoming and friendly enough. Had even answered more questions, especially around the location of his partner - who was away to unknown parts.

These seemed to irritate the officer, which Kingsley took note. However, it was what Blackcroft offered in regards to the murder of John Bradford and Company that had him irked.

"Of course jealousy is motive," he said to his horse, Hobbs, once he arrived at it's stall in the stables. The horse snorted in reply, tossing it's head before being satisfied with an apple. "I should have thought about that."

"Thought about what, mister?" young groom said. Geoff smiled and turned to the lad, fishing in his coin purse for payment.

"Nothing of consequence," he said, handing the groom the silver coins. He made sure to add a few more as a tip. Hobbs did appear to be in good spirits and well taken care of. "Just something I am working on."

The boy took the coins, counted out the payment then looked up with a grin. "Gee, thanks mister," he said. "Most folks around here forget that I keep their mounts happy while they drink the night away." Geoff nodded.

"I appreciate good service."

Mounted and trotting down the road, Kingsley's mind stayed focused on the discussion earlier in the tavern. The idea that Wiggins would kill Bradford out of jealousy had never crossed his mind, even after meeting "Glory" and learning of her fascination with John. But it sure as fel made sense, he thought. People have been killed for far less reasons.

It still didn't answer the question around how the Guards knew of the shipment not arriving, but he felt that would work itself out in time. They were being evasive on the subject, especially since he knew Blackcroft's story was a fabrication. However, Wiggins was the key to this whole thing - the missing link in the puzzle.

Find Wiggins, the truth will be revealed. He believed that whole heartedly and was the sole reason he was not looking deeper into the Guard. If he kept them believing they were not suspect, then perhaps when Wiggins was found, that little thread would be tied up nice and tight at the same time.

Another nugget from the conversation revolved around the Guard Tower at Three Corners, which he now approached. Wooden palisades blocked access into Redridge by any other way than the road, at least by wagon. Horses could ride around, but not unseen or unchallenged by the Guard.

"Halt!" an armored figure said, holding up a gauntleted hand and stepping into the road to block Kingsley's path. Wearing the livery of Stormwind, the soldier was doing the duty he always did: stop and inspect. "Approach and be recognized!"

"Geoff Kingsley, Constable to his Lordship the Magistrate of Lakeshore," Kingsley said, easing Hobbs forward. The soldier stared a moment, then nodded.

"Welcome back, Mister Kingsley," the Guard said. "I hope your travels have been uneventful."

"The road was clear and in as good a condition as I have ever seen," Kingsley said, halting his horse next to the Guard. "Do you mind if I ask you a question?"

"Of course, citizen," the Guard said. "I am here to serve and protect." Kingsley smiled.

"Do you keep a record of cargo that passes through this post?" The guard nodded. "Of course we do," he said. "Besides insuring the safety of the realm from invaders, we are also tasked with making sure the goods that pass are just as secure."

Kingsley made a notation in his notepad. "Indeed," he said. "So, is it safe to assume that any wagon, coming or going, is stopped and inspected by this guard post?"

The soldier nodded. "Your assumption would be correct, Constable Kingsley." Geoff nodded. "However," the guard added. "Some shipments were inspected more closely than others. After the bombing in Eastlake by a wagon that passed through this very station, things have tightened."

"None pass without a complete and thorough inspection."

"A tragic event," Kingsley said. "Whomever planned that certainly knew what they were doing."

"And how would one go about having a look at these records," Kingsley said. "I would assume a formal request through the proper channels would be in order?"

The guard nodded. "You are correct, Constable," he said. "Please send your request to the Garrison and it will be sent through the levels of comman. If you reference your position as Lakeshire Constable conducting a formal investigation, then it will be expedited."

Kingsley grinned and made a notation. "Excellent!" he said. "You have been most helpful, sir. My mood has been significantly raised."

The guard nodded, but Kingsley could see the man smiling beneath the helm. "It is my duty to serve and protect, Constable Kingsley," he said. "Is there anything else I can assist you with?"

Kingsley shook his head "No sir," he said. "Wait. There is one thing. Were you posted here during the outbreak of that horrendous drink called Funk?"

The Guard snorted and nodded. "Yes," he said. "I am proud to say that once the moratorium went into place, I made sure none of that stuff ever passed through my position. It caused my grandmother to act in a most UN grandmotherly manner."

Kingsley recalled the woman he referred to, but made no mention. She had been legendary among the locals for her ability to out dance every last one of them. How she managed it, none knew, but they still spoke of her with awe.

"So you inspected shipments coming into Redridge before the moratorium was enacted?"

The Guard nodded. "I did, sir. Not that I liked it, but it was no illegal, so I could not stop them."

"I see," Kingsley said, making a notation in his pad. "And when you inspected the crates, did you notice if any of them were numbered, or assigned numbers in the cargo manifest?"

The Guard thought for a moment, tilting his head slightly to the sky. Somewhere, a condor screeched in the distance. "Let me see," he said. "If I recall correctly, the manifests listed numbers of crates as well as bottles per crate." He shook his head. "No, I do not recall that there were lot numbers."

Damn, Kingsley thought. It was worth a shot.

"Very good," he said, shaking his head. "They did not, perhaps, happen to leave copies of their manifests with this post, did they?" Another long shot, but worth asking.

The Guard snorted a laugh and shook his head. "No," he said. "They did not. Have you ever met the teamsters that drove those wagons?" Kingsley shook his head. Not alive, he wanted to say but didn't.

"Well," the Guard said. "If you had, you would know that they were not the type to maintain paperwork. Maybe rob you or murder a local, but paperwork?" he shook his head again. "Not on your life. Shame we didn't lock up the whole lot of em and be done with it."

"It would have saved a lot of heartache, I can assure you, sir," Kingsley said. "Unfortunately, you did not nor had cause to do so. Therefore, it is no use giving it further consideration."

"Now," Kingsley said. "I must be on my way to Lakeshire to check on my assistants." He tipped his brown, felt hat to the Guard. "King's Honor to you, sir."

"King's Honor, Constable Kingsley," the guard said, bringing his hand to his heart with a metallic clunk. "Good luck in your investigation."

Geoff clicked his tongue and eased Hobbs down the road toward Lakeshire, he pace somewhat quickened by his lightened mood at the information he had gleaned from the Guard Post. A break in the fence and wagon ruts leading into the woods caused him to slow to a walk.

It was the Old Track.

He twisted in his saddle to look back towards Three Corners and realized he could not see the tower from where he had stopped. "Interesting," he said, staring up the Old Track for a moment before clicking Hobbs into a trot toward the town.

He saw the felled tree, still there from the last time he had passed and rolled to the side. Odd that a tree was rolled to the side of the road, but not odd enough to stop. He was in a happy mood and eagerly rode toward the town.
Thomas Jarington & Co.

Thomas Jarington
Thomas Jarington
Posts: 210
Joined: April 8th, 2014, 10:55 am
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Thomas Jarington

Re: John Bradford's Belt

Postby Thomas Jarington » June 20th, 2014, 12:32 pm

Kingsley sat at his desk inside of the Town Hall and prepared to pen his letter to the Garrison. Being an assistant to the Chief Inspector meant he had a small nook, tucked away in a dusty corner, in which to perform his office duties; though he made the most of the space.

A neat row of books lined the sides of his alcove, most having to do with cases he had worked in the past. "A Treatise on the Intellgient Behaviour of the Bovine" was one of his favourites (due to it's oddness, mainly). The author, a little known woman by the name of Matty Carpatheum, theorized that, "Cows are a highly evolved species. While they may appear docile and dumb, they are actually enjoying the stupidity of Humanity and ever other species that walks the lands of Azeroth."

She went on to note several instances of intelligent behaviour gathered while observing the beasts from hidden locations and blinds (which is the only reason Kingsley kept the book - she was a very good investigator). One instance always made him laugh: "As you can see by the diagram, the three cows stood along the fence row, their heads turned toward one another as if in conversation. When a patrol of Guards could be heard approaching from the south, the cows instantly ducked their heads to the ground to eat the grass."

"However," she went on to write. "The eyes always betray and, in this instance, it was proof: the eyes of the cows never left the approaching guards, even to the point of a slight turn of the head as they rode passed - never straying until the Guards were out of sight."

"It was then that the truth was revealed. The cows lifted their heads, turned them toward one another and smiled. One bobbed it's head, the other lifted a hoof as if to point. Then, the trio of beasts turned and walked away from the fence - lined up shoulder to shoulder and walking in unison, as if on a patrol of their own."

Of course, her reasoning for their presence was insane: gathering intelligence on the races of Azeroth to prepare for an invasion by their bovine cohorts, who patiently waited in something she called the 'mother barn', in a place she named space.

Wherever that was.

Kingsley lifted a white quill pen that sat nestled inside a brass inkwell, dipped the tip in ink and began writing his request.


Westbrook Garrison
Stormwind City Guard

To Whom It May Concern:

Greetings and Salutations. My name is Geoffrey Kingsley, Inspector Constable of the township of Lakeshire for his Lordship, the Magistrate of Lakeshire, Redridge District.

I am conducting an investigation into the suspicious death of a local citizen and am seeking information on any and all shipments into and out of the Redridge District over the past year. According to Officer Verin Blackcroft, as well as the local Guards, I understand that the Guard Tower at Three Corners maintains such records and sends them to the Garrison for safe keeping.

Therefore, I am hereby making a formal request for the opportunity to review these records and would like to do so as soon as it is possible. I am available to come to the Garrison, so there is no need to make copies or have them sent to Lakeshire.

Please send word to Lakeshire once the requested records are available for inspection.

Thank you for your time and consideration of my request.

King's Honor,

Geffrey Kingsley - Inspector Constable
Township of Lakeshire - Redridge District


Kingsley re-read the letter, then when satisfied, blotted the paper and sealed it into an envelope for delivery.

"Could you see this gets to the Westbrook Garrison?" he said to a clerk, who took the letter. "Today would be perfect."

"I will do what I can," the clerk stated, placing the envelope on his desk. "His Lordship has several items for post going out this afternoon, so I will add yours to it as well."

"Excellent," Kingsley said, smiling.

"Yes, it is," the clerk stated, lifting his pen to continue in his ledger - apparently bored with the entire affair. "Is there anything else?"

"No," Kingsley said. "No, that will be perfect."

The scrawny clerk nodded but did not look up, instead, acting as if Kingsley was no longer there.

"Right," Kingsley said, then left the office. Now that the issue of shipments was seen to, he could make his way to Bogpaddle and check in on Michael, and perhaps learn a bit more about the marvelous Mister Wiggins.
Thomas Jarington & Co.

Thomas Jarington
Thomas Jarington
Posts: 210
Joined: April 8th, 2014, 10:55 am
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Thomas Jarington

Re: John Bradford's Belt

Postby Thomas Jarington » June 25th, 2014, 10:11 am

Michael was waiting for Kingsley when he arrived into Bogpaddle, though certainly not in the manner Geoff had expected. Instead, he found Mister Bradford locked inside an iron cage under the pleasant and protective care of Baron Silversnap's bruisers.

"Mister Kingsley," Michael said, sounding tired and bedraggled. "It took ya long enough, doncha think? I've been stuck in this rat hole fer close to two days, now!"

Kingsley lifted an eyebrow, then turned toward Michael's jailor - a burly and bulbous-nosed Goblin named Nob.

"Why is Mister Bradford inside this cage?' he asked, crossing his arms and glaring at the Goblin. Nob was unaffected, instead picked his nose before responding.

"He started a fight, pal," Nob said. "Beat the tar out of some poor bloke inside the tavern.' The Goblin chuckled. "This is a resort town, bub. The Baron don't put up with troublemakers, see?" Nob looked at Michael who was standing inside the cage and grasping the bars.

"Soon as your pal, there, pays the fine, he's free to go."

"I see," Kingsley said, pursing his lips and turning toward Michael. "And how much is the fine, Mister Nob?"

"Two hundred fifty gold and twenty six silver," the Goblin said, then lifted a finger. "The silver's a food tax so we can provide your friend with Bogpaddle's finest culinary delights."

Kingsley nodded and stared at Michael, who took on a look of innocence.

"I didn't start it," he exclaimed. "The other guy threw the first punch. I just, well, sorta finished it."

"Finished it?' Kingsley said amend Michael nodded. "Yup," he said proudly. "Knocked him out cold. Rat 'tween the eyes. Redridge style!" He mimicked the punch to show Kingsley just how good of a fighter he was. "Been a long time since I was in a bar fight."

"It might be your last, Mister Bradford," Kingsley said, crossing his arms. He turned to the Goblin jailor.

"How long will he stay if he does not pay the fine?" Nob frowned.

"Baron won't like it, if he don't," Nob said. "But the Baron said he'd hafta stay locked up for thirty days if he don't pony up the gold, see?" He pointed toward Michael. "Got twenty eight more to go, pal. Unless you wanna pay up."

"Do you have it, Mister Bradford?" Kingsley said. "I would prefer you out and helping with this case instead of locked inside of a Bogpaddle prison cell."

Michael's eyes widened with fear. "Ah, well Mister Kingsley," he said, his voice cracking. "Here's the thing. If I pay, then, uh, I have ta tell the wife, ya see?" He grimaced and shook his head. "I think I'd rather stay in here than hafta do that."

Kingsley growled. "You bloody ..." he paused and shook his head. "I suppose she wouldn't wonder why you were gone for an entire month?"

Michael's face dropped. "Yea," he said. "You're rat. Well, damn. I'm screwed either way."

"Very," Kingsley said, then turned toward the jailor.

"I shall pay his fine," Kingsley snorted. "Where do I go to handle that?"

Both the Goblin and Michael grinned, but not Kingsley. His scowl would have frightened a crockalisk.

==================================

Three hours and two stacks of paperwork later, Michael was free and walking side by side with Kingsley through the streets of Bogpaddle, both looking as if they were en route to commit murder. Kingsley certainly considered it.

"You will pay me back every last coin," Kingsley stated again. "WITH interest. I paid the fine from my personal accounts, MISTER BRADFORD, and not from the township coffers."

"I appreciate it, Mister Kingsley," Michael said. "And you promise you won't tell my wife?"

Kingsley nodded. "Yes," he said. "That is what I agreed to, though how YOU are going to keep such a sum from her knowledge is beyond me, AND not of my concern." However much Kingsley appeared to whine about the money, he had always planned to pay it. More leverage into getting my way, he thought. Especially that bit about the wife. Quite a useful leash.

They reached an area well away from nosy Goblins and found a place to sit. It was one of the few dry spots on the outskirts of town: a small lump of soil nestled along the banks of a swampy bayou; one not containing crockalisks.

"What did you learn?" Kingsley said as he leaned against a large cypress tree. He had checked for snakes, found none and settled in to make notes. "Did you find any friends of Wiggins lurking about?"

Michael nodded, leaning against his own tree and shoving a wad of tobacco into his mouth. "Uh huh," he said, chewing until he could speak again. "Shore did. Fella named Ferndusk, though I wouldn't call him a friend, really. More like a, well, accomplice er somethin like that."

Michael spit a wad of juice then wiped his lower lip with a sleeve.

"Accomplice?" Kingsley said. "To what?"

"Well," Michael said. "He said they did jobs together, contract work and the like. I was just gettin round to askin fer more details when the bastard tried ta sucker punch me. Lucky I was payin attention, er I woulda been the one knocked cold, instead a him."

"Did the Bruisers lock him up as well?" Kingsley said, making a notation in his notepad. Michael shook his head, then spit.

"Nah," he said. "Wiggled free of the nets fore they could tie him up. Musta been tossed into jail before, cause he shore did light outta there in a hurry."

"Damn," Kingsley said. "Unfortunate."

"However," Michael said, spitting another wad of juice, this time into the bayou. "Them bruisers shore do like ta talk. They knowed all about Wiggins and told me that he had no friends 'cept my brother, and that John was the only one who'd put up with him."

"I see," Kingsley said, nodding. "Perhaps..."

He stopped his thought, and both men's heads swiveled toward the sound of sloshing water. A rag-covered man was making his way across the bayou, sliding through the water as if it were not there. A hood covered the head, patched together with pieces of linen and woolen cloth of various colors.

Michael and Kingsley's hands went to their sword belts which lay within easy reach. Being in a swamp, as well as contested territory like the Swamp of Sorrows, meant that danger was always close and no one ever ventured around unarmed.

The vagabond raised a gloved hand, though it, too, was tattered like the rags the man wore. "Peace," his voice hissed, coming from underneath the hood in a whispered and harsh tone. "Hold your swords. I only want to talk."

Kingsley and Michael looked at one another as if asking in silence if either knew the stranger. Michael shrugged, Geoff nodded and turned to face the stranger as both stood to their feet - swords in hand.

"What would you like to talk about, friend?" Kingsley stated, resting his sword in the crook of his arm - ready to use, but at ease in case the man was genuine.

"Ain't no friend uh mine," Michael mumbled, causing the hooded man to wheeze a chuckle.

"I ain't anybody's friend, FRIEND," the stranger said. "Still don't mean I can't talk to folks, do it?" The man had made his way to the dry knob, then reached for his hood.

"It most certainly does not," Kingsley said, his voice steady and strong. "But the question remains, sir, what would you like to talk about?"
Thomas Jarington & Co.

Thomas Jarington
Thomas Jarington
Posts: 210
Joined: April 8th, 2014, 10:55 am
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Thomas Jarington

Re: John Bradford's Belt

Postby Thomas Jarington » July 2nd, 2014, 1:51 pm

As the vagrant-looking fellow lifted his hood, Kingsley noticed something slightly off about the man's hands - namely the way he used his two middle fingers instead of the thumbs. Odd, he thought and filed it away as important, but not urgent. There was a story there which might make itself known, if relevant to the case.

"I understand ya be lookin fer information on Wiggins," the vagrant said.

Kingsley and Michael exchanged glances. "Yea," Michael said. "You knowed Bill Wiggins?"

"I might 'ave," the vagrant said. "Depends on what its worth to you gents." He ran his raggedy gloved hand through his greasy, dark hair - using the same fingers he had with the hood. "You see, I run wit Bill Wiggins all me life, I did, and now he's gone missin, I 'ave a mind to be seein 'im again, I do."

"Indeed," Kingsley stated. "And where might you have run with him, mister...?" He paused, lifting an eyebrow and letting the lack of a proper name linger in the heavy, swamp-tainted air.

"I don't be usin' me propah name these days, friend," the vagrant said. "Business reasons, if you must know. If certain folks knew me name, then I might no be 'avin need for it."

Geoff Kingsley nodded. He had seen people like this before during investigations. Criminals, mostly, running from the law, or hiding from even worse villains than themselves. The fact that he knew Bill Wiggins did not reflect kindly on the former friend of John Bradford, and hinted toward the guilt of the teamster in the the killings.

"Then what should I call you, friend," Kingsley said. "If we are to 'make it worth your while', I will need some form of address to discuss terms."

The man grinned, showing one black tooth and a gap where two others should have been. "Now we're talkin," the vagrant said. He removed his tattered gloves which revealed the reason for use of his middle fingers.

The man was missing his thumbs.

Kingsley lifted an eyebrow but said nothing, while Michael spit a wad of juice onto the moist, damp peat. "Damn," Michael said. "You ain't got no thumbs."

"You're most observant, govnah," the vagrant said. "Some bloke took me thumbs a few months back in Stormwind, of which I'll be gettin me own back soon enough. In the meantime, you blokes can call me 'Four Fingahs'.

"Creative," Kingsley stated, then continued before the man could reply. "Now, you mentioned something about making it worth your while?"

Four Fingers nodded. "I did, govnah," he said. "As you can see, I'm a bit down on me luck, I am. A few coins to make me life easier should loosen me tongue enough."

"Coin?" Kingsley said. "Simple enough, I should think." He fished for a small coin purse dangling at his waist. "Do you not think so, Mister Bradford?"

Michael nodded as he scooped the used up wad of tobacco from his cheek and flung it into the bayou. Four Fingers watched and licked his lips, narrowing his eyes just a bit when Kingsley mentioned his last name.

"I might fancy a plug for me ownself, govnah," he said to Michael as the lumberman reached for his leather tobacco pouch.

"I might fancy me some information," Michael said, pinching the plug between two fingers and shoving it into his cheek. "Fair exchange, I reckon."

Kingsley lifted two coins from his purse. "And I will add two gold coins to the mix," he said, showing the gold in his open palm. "Do we have an agreement?"

"Seems sorta cheap, if ya ask me, govnah," the vagrant said. "Toss in the whole pouch, and we've got ourselves a deal."

Michael flicked his pouch to the ragged man with barely a pause. "Deal," Michael said. "Now tell us what ya know, friend."

The man caught the pouch with some effort, gathering it against his chest with his thumb-less hands.

"And me gold?"

Kingsley offered Four Fingers the two gold coins, who managed to snatch them away quite easily. Still, before he uttered any words, he stuffed a plug of tobacco leaves into his mouth and began to chew - a wistful look coming across his face as he did so.

"Now that be some fine chewing weed," he said, gathering the wad into one corner of his mouth. "Been a long while since I had this, I tell ya."

Kingsley and Michael stared at the man, giving him a look that said it was his turn to share.

"Right," Four Fingers said. "Ye be wantin information on Bill Wiggins, do ya?" He nodded. "Well, here it is, govnah. He ain't got no friends. Nevah has, nevah will. Except Braford, of course. But I suspect you gents already knew that, you did. It was more charity than friendship, from what I 'eard."

Thick,brown juice dribbled down the man's chin as he spoke, causing Kingsley to wrinkle his nose in disgust. Michael lifted an eyebrow, then gulped when he saw Four Fingers swallow instead of spit.

"How do you mean?" Kingsley asked. "What sort of charity?"

"Have ya met Wiggin's ole lady, govnah?" Four Fingers said. "The one they call, Glory?" Kingsley nodded. "Well, you know what I mean by charity. She took every coppah Bill be earnin and spent it on her ownself, she did." Four Fingers nodded and swallowed another wad of juice.

"Did Glory have any connection to John Bradford?" Kingsley asked, making notes in his small notepad. "Were they friends as well?"

Four Fingers gurgled a laugh, causing more juice to run. "Connected's a good word for it, govnah," Four Fingers said. "Every time Bill be 'eadin off on a job, Bradford would come round and make his own connections. I wouldn't be surprised if one of them brats weren't his own."

Kingsley and Michael shot each other a glance. "Mah brother had more taste than that," Michael said. "He wouldn't a shacked up with that fleabag for all tha gold in Stormwind!" Kingsley placed a hand on Michael's shoulder to keep him from moving toward Four Fingers.

The man wheezed a gurgling laugh. "Well, govnah," he said. "You didn't know you brother that well. From what I 'eard, he bedded everything that walked." Four Fingers shrugged. "But only what I 'eard."

"Do you know if Mister Wiggins ever found out about Bradford's connections?" Kingsley asked while Michael quietly fumed to the side. Four Fingers shook his head.

"If he did," Fingers said. "I n'er eard about it. The last time I saw those two, they were drinking and laughing in the pub, they was. Just before shipping that drink off to Redridge."

Kingsley wrote the notation, then flipped backwards a few pages in his notepad. "A few more questions ought to do it, Mister Fingers," Kingsley said. The man nodded, stuffing more tobacco into his mouth until his cheek looked that of a chipmunk.

"Do you know if Bill Wiggins planned to kill John Bradford?"

Four Fingers frowned and stopped chewing. "Plan, govnah?" he said, then spit a large, thick wad of juice onto the ground so he could speak. "First of all, Bill Wiggins wouldn't ave ever killed John Bradford, no matter if he was connecting with Glory or not."

"And two," he continued, lifting his two middle fingers into the air - an odd looking gesture to Kingsley. "Bill couldn't plan to wipe his own arse, let alone plan a killing." Four Fingers laughed, then tapped the side of his head. "Bill Wiggins is a bit daft, if ya gather me meaning. He could talk rough, he could pull a trigger and all, but plan?"

Four Fingers shook his head. "Not on your life; Too many pops to the old noggin."

Kingsley frowned and cast a glance toward Michael. "You mean he has head injuries?"

Four Fingers bobbed his head. "You could say that, govnah," he said. "You see, when Bill an me used to run together, he used to stick his 'ead into places it weren't meant to be stuck. Not that Bill was ever too bright, mind. 'Owever, if you use your 'ead to catch clubs, then you should except it to go all wobbly inside."

"That was Bill. A head full o wobbly and mush."

Kingsley tapped the pencil against the notepad, nodding at the vagrant's words. "Wobbly and mush," he said to no one in particular. "I see."

Sounds of the swamp took over as all three men went silent. Croakers singing their songs were punctuated by the occasional roar of a large crockolisk thrashing in the water. Somewhere, high overhead, a bird of prey let loose a piercing cry.

And over it all, as if a constant - the buzz of biting insects.

"Do you know where Bill Wiggins is, Mister Four Fingers?" Kingsley asked.

Four Fingers shook his head. "No, govnah," he said. "That's why I come to find you gents. I 'eard you was lookin fer Bill and I thought to find him me ownself. I been to all his 'ideouts, visited 'is favourite pubs. Not a sign of the man. It's like he up an disappeared, he did."

"Why do YOU need to find Wiggins?" Michael asked, beating Kingsley to the question. "Ain't like he was yer best friend an all."

"I need 'im for a job," Four Fingers said and showed his missing thumbs. "The bloke who left me like this needs to get his due and with Bill's 'elp, he will. I thought if you knew where Bill was, I could go an find 'im me ownself."

Kingsley stared at the missing thumbs for a moment, then stroked his chin. I could ask him who did it, he thought. But I doubt he would tell me. Probably think I would rat him out. Perhaps how it happened? Or...

"Why would someone cut your thumbs off?" Kingsley asked. "That seems rather cruel, if you ask me, leaving a man in such a state."

Sympathy, he thought, smiling to himself. It always worked.
Thomas Jarington & Co.

Thomas Jarington
Thomas Jarington
Posts: 210
Joined: April 8th, 2014, 10:55 am
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Thomas Jarington

Re: John Bradford's Belt

Postby Thomas Jarington » July 15th, 2014, 10:04 pm

Four Fingers stared at Kingsley for just a moment, as if considering whether to answer the question or not. Finally, he did, but not after sending a thick, wad of brown juice flying into the bayou.

"You bloody right, it's cruel," Fingers said. "A man's got to make a livin', ee do, and that coppah made it tough to earn a dash, let 'lone lolly enough ta pull even a one night bendah."

"I been shafted, I 'ave, and there's no two ways about it!"

Michael scrunched his eyebrows as Four Fingers spoke, trying hard to understand what the man was referring to. Kingsley, however, nodded and made a notation.

"A Stormwind Guard did that to you?" Kingsley asked. "Cut your thumbs off?"

"That's what I'm tellin ya, guvnah," Four Fingers said. "Said it would teach me a lesson, it would. Well, it taught me somethin, alright, but not what ee expected, I bet."

"I see," Kingsley said, shaking his head with compassion. So a Stormwind guard cut this man's thumbs off and let him live? Kingsley thought as he wrote the notation into his book. Interesting. Who could it be?

"That's rather tragic, Mister Fingers," Kingsley said, his mind trying to decide if this was a lead or a herring. "I could not imagine life without thumbs."

He turned to Michael. "Could you?"

Michael shook his head. "Nu uh." he said, unconsciously looking at his own. "I'd be rat outta work."

Fingers bobbed his head and swallowed a wad of juice. "Aye, you would," Fingers said, chewing more of the tobacco. "But I got plans, see? That coppah'll get what's comin to 'im, mark my words"

"Rightly so," Kingsley said. "Is it anyone I might know?"

"Anyone you might know?" Fingers asked, seemingly shocked. "Fel, guvnah, the bloke's name was..."

Four Fingers stopped chewing, then spit. "Say," he said, shifting his gaze between Kingsley and Michael. "What game are you gents playin at? You tryin ta get me ta give up tha name?"

Kingsley shrugged. "It was only a question, Mister Fingers. Curiosity, really, as to who would be wicked enough to cut a man's thumbs off and allow him to live."

Kingsley lifted a finger. "I have known a few of the Guards in my time, yet never run across a man who would do such a thing."

"Well," Fingers said. "This bloke did, sure 'nough. Cut em clean off, ee did. Left me to rot in the street while 'ee laughed at me demise."

He nodded, a sly grin breaking across his filth-laden face. "But I got plans, see?" he said. "When I find Wiggins, we'll make that coppah squeal, we will." He stopped, blinked and frowned at Kingsley.

"I ain't sayin anothah word, guvnah," he said, waving his forefinger in front of Kingsley. "No a word. I'm done wif you, two gents, I am."

"Ah," Kingsley said, slipping his hand from his pocket where it had been jingling coins. Four Fingers noticed and licked his lips.

"I see." He turned to Michael. "Well, Mister Bradford. I do believe we must be taking our leave and seek information elsewhere. It seems that Mister Fingers has enough coin for today."

"Way a minute, guvnah," Fingers exclaimed, moving to stop the pair from leaving. "I nevah said that." He licked his lips. "Maybe I can be made to talk, I could, if it was worth me while."

Michael rolled his eyes. "Worth yer while?" he said. "More like a lie, now that ya see we got coin an all." He looked at Kingsley who appeared to be considering Michael's words. "Kingsley, I saw we let Fingers crawl back into tha swamp he come from and find our answers somewheres else."

Kingsley nodded and gave Fingers an appraising look. "You might be right, Mister Bradford," he said. "All I have left are a few silver coins and a solitary gold. I doubt that would make it worth his while."

"I would indeed, Guvnah!" Fingers said, smiling. "A bit a dash makes the stew taste better, I say!"

"Do you now?" Kingsley said, then faced Michael. "Mister Bradford?"

Michael shrugged. "It's yer gold, Kingsley. I ain't payin this fellah another copper!"

Kingsley fished the gold coin from his pocket and flipped it end over end toward Fingers, using his thumb and making sure Fingers watched. "One gold for the name."

Four Fingers fumbled the catch and the coin fell onto the soft peat moss that formed the small island. It glimmered green in the swamp-tinted sunlight.

"I'll do ya one bettah, guvnah," Fingers said, kneeling to the ground to gather the coin. "I got meself a wanted poster, I do. As 'is name written all over it."

Fingers stood and handed Kingsley a crumpled, wadded up ball of parchment paper that resembled what might have once been a wanted poster.

Fortunately, the ink was still clear and the words were legible. Therefore, when Kingsley unfolded the paper, he was able to see the two names of the wanted, as well as the reason for the poster. A goblin wanted poster from the township of Booty Bay for the destruction of property belonging to the Cartel, as well as the global shipping conglomerate, the Twin Seas Trading Company.

Kingsley snapped a look at Michael as he tilted the poster for Michael to read.

"Well I'll be damned," Michael muttered, then looked toward Four Fingers. "This fellah's tha one that chopped yer thumbs off?"

"The very one, guvnah," Fingers said, smiling as his eyes glittered. 'Now, if you gents don't mind, I best be makin my way back to Bogpaddle.If ya find Wiggins, tell 'im I be lookin for 'im, I do."

"Right," Kingsley said, staring after the ragged man. He nodded at the man's back, then turned back to the paper. In his mind, the herring that had swam into view was now gone, replaced instead by a name in big, bold letters:

Barnaby Grathier

A name they had heard before.
Thomas Jarington & Co.

Thomas Jarington
Thomas Jarington
Posts: 210
Joined: April 8th, 2014, 10:55 am
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Thomas Jarington

Re: John Bradford's Belt

Postby Thomas Jarington » August 2nd, 2014, 2:23 am

Michael held his words until Four Fingers was out of earshot. The man had practically scurried through the swamp like a rat running from the cat, heading toward Bogpaddle and the tavern, he figured.

"This proves it," Michael said, tapping the wanted poster Kingsley still held. "I knew there was something wrong with that fellah. But no, you told me to leave them guards out of it. Now we get this?" Michael was fuming. "The man's a light damned criminal, Kingsley! I say we hunt his ass down and get his take on the situation."

"Redridge style!"

Kingsley chuckled as he carefully folded the poster into a small square, then tucked it away in a pouch. "Have you ever dealt with a Goblin cartel, Mister Bradford?"

Michael frowned. "You making fun uh me, Kingsley?" he said. "You knowed I just got outta a cartel jail. Damned rat I dealt with em!"

"And for what reason were you locked up?"

"Endin a fight," Michael replied, slightly subdued in tone.

Kingsley nodded. "Exactly," he said. "Goblins do not put up with ANYTHING in their towns, let alone starting a fire in Booty Bay, if that poster is accurate. Of course there was a wanted poster, just like there probably is one for the man you ended the fight with, seeing how he escaped."

"What are ya sayin?" Michael said. "That it don't mean nothing? That Barnaby fella torched a town and cut a man's thumbs off." Kingsley nodded, but let Michael continue.

"And he was there in the tavern sayin the Funk weren't coming. I call that damned suspicious, Kingsley."

"It is interesting, I will give you that," Kingsley said. "But nothing more, at the moment. We take note of it, which I have done, and if there are connections to our case, we build." He held up a hand to stop Michael's objections.

"For now, we merely take notice."

"What about Four Finger's thumbs?" Michael said. "What sort of fella would do that?"

"To an assassin?" Kingsley said, lifting an eyebrow. "Office Grathier should have killed the fool and been done with it. Now, he is going to have an even bigger problem to contend with once Fingers gathers his cohorts."

"You've got to be kidding," Michael said. "Wait, you're gonna tell him aren'tcha?"

"Of course," Kingsley said, cocking his head as if the question surprised him. "He is a Stormwind City Guard. We have a duty as citizens of the realm to protect them as much as they protect us."

"The man lied about John's delivery, Kingsley," Michael exclaimed, his voice echoing under the canopy of the draping trees. "Burnt a town down, cut a man's thumbs off an left him ta rot." He spit juice into the bayou. "I say we leave him to Fingers."

Kingsley shook his head. "All speculation, Mister Bradford," he said. "The only thing we know for certain is that he knew the wagon wasn't coming and said as much, which started a riot." He pulled the folded poster from his pouch.

"This?" he said, lifting the folded paper. "Accusation, not proof. The missing thumbs? An assassin's words against a Guard's words." He shook his head. "Does not hold up under scrutiny, Mister Bradford."

"Therefore, we follow the leads we know and let the rest appear as they may."

"Which is nothing," Michael said, tossing the last bit of his chewed tobacco plug into the swamp. "We ain't got nothing new."

"Of course we do," Kingsley said. "We have learned plenty, and now? We meet with Mister Chaucer and see what he has discovered from his trek up the Old Track."
Thomas Jarington & Co.

cron

Login  •  Register