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Pack it all in, melt down the armour and leave his badge on the same desk he'd sat at since the Nihonjin had run roughshod over the East Road. They were gone now and so was the same sense of rational thought that had guided him through those early years as an officer. Now all he saw were threats. Those to himself were acceptable, he would always make enemies, always make a giant target for those wishing to make a symbolic statement but he couldn't begin to tolerate yet another act against his family.

He had already watched as Tanya's coffin burned away into the night, as the Vesperians celebrated over their desecration of her corpse, he had listened as Louisa explained his eldest son had been ripped in two so as to prove a point, he had hidden his young family away from the threats of Covian gangsters, pried open the small wooden crate that contained the remains of a street urchin and read the note that threatened Francis and he had comforted an inconsolable Annabel after the 'Templar'. Only a single, solitary act of revenge had ever been wrought and one that would be deemed a crime in itself.

 

If he could only fail to protect them, he would give the opportunists and the antagonists that dwelt in the dark no further reason to act against his wife and his children.

Yet as she clung to him within their soft carmine blankets and he promised over and over again that they would simply run away and never look back, she had refused.

Five, six hours earlier she would have jumped at the chance, would have started packing immediately and yet now she refused out of principle. He couldn't begin to comprehend how the naivety of her sheltered mind had interpreted the scenes she might have witnessed; he only knew that this was the worst possible time for her to develop some sense of duty to Yew and the people within it. That wasn't her job and he no longer wanted it as his own.

 

"I thought I'd never see you again." she had whispered.

The crushing, looming reality that slowly drove him insane and wore away at that sense of rational thought was the realisation that there would come a time, not when they were old and grey but whilst he still wore that accursed armour, that she indeed would never see him, nor their children again.

 

She wanted what had happened before to never happen ever again to anybody, he couldn't promise that, he couldn't even fathom a world like it. He could only exact revenge on those who had perpetrated the crime itself. He should consider this fully; he should at least try to investigate.

Black robes. White dresses. Black robes. White dresses.

He was going to kill someone and he was sure as hell it probably wouldn't be legal in the eyes of that brain dead moron Madsen and so he'd probably commit the act with the detestable little scrote whining in his ear and threatening to sue for some perceived injustice.

 

"Sir she's a victim..." Good. She had brought it not only on herself but on the woman he loved. "Sir she's a bloody VICTIM." He hoped it was true, he hoped she'd suffered.

It was not the fact she was supposedly innocent that had halted him in his tracks; it was the fact that choking her to death might have prevented her divulging anything of use. When had he grown so very cold?

 

He was cracking, had been for years, had buried things deep, deep down and now was beginning to rupture, was only a matter of time, hoped he could hold it together, was becoming increasingly convinced that he could not.

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Raphael sat by the fire, glaring into the flames. The taste of vomit was still lingering within his mouth from the previous scene in Stonekeep. Consideration went through his head, wether pushing two fingers down his throat was needed or not. It was not the first time he's seen massacres like this, neither was it something that bothered him much. Yet, looking unbothered would raise suspicions.

 

The hunger was certainly growing on him. He turned his head looking towards the forest from where he'd previously heard a few boars grunt, then looked back to the fire. "Women in white dresses, men in black outfits and masks, slaughtering the female movement.... something doesn't add up...", he thought to himself. All indications were pointing towards religious motives. A cult, preserving the old teachings of the church. But it seemed too obvious. Why would someone leave a cermonial dagger in the victims throat? Unless to give a clue. The healers were under some kind of spell, meaning it could not have been any regular people of Yew.

 

The woman Madsen was speaking to claimed she arrived late... something Raphael doubted. It'd be most likely that she was there to begin with, and had something to do with when things turned ugly... she returned to see if there was survivors... minutes after her return one of the only survivors had been killed. There's most likely a link. Question is if Madsen is part of it as well, being the one dating her. Or perhaps she was using him...

 

Raphael closed his eyes trying to clear his thougts as he noticed he was beginning to become unfocused.

 

He reflected on following Bladius to Trinsic, watching him from the shadows as he attempted to find answers to who was responsible. After the captain searched the city without results he went to the elven quarter. Even that left him without answered questions. He then moved to the small pond by the elven quarter and sat down. The waywatcher moved closer in the shadows. He recognised the look in the captain eyes... many interrigations have lead to such a look... where the tortured ones are on the edge of breaking.

 

Raphael continued to stare into the fire, a small wicked smile appearing on his lips as he rose, stomping the fire out with his foot, then turning towards the sound of boars which had re-appeard. Carefully chosing his steps through the shadows in the direction of the grunting.

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"Impressive..." Raphael thought to himself, staring at the campfire once again. He had recently rushed past a lineup in Stonekeep quickly asking to be dismissed. This was a matter of greater importance.

 

Raphael arose from the fallen log he sat on and rolled out his bedroll, placing himself on it. Easily putting himself in a sitting position for the meditation. He closed his eyes, feeling the warmth from the fire onto his unwashed face as he started to tie the blindfold over his eyes, almost cermonially.

 

"Only in total darkness may the unseen be revealed..." Master Tetsujes words went through his head as he fell into a complete new world. The sense of vision was the most deciving one, something Raphael knew very well. But what he had experienced this night, was not a bluff or a trick of the mind.

 

He felt himself soaring like a Raven above the campfire. Objects around him appeared, and the distance to them seemed clearer than ever. The closest living creature was a hind, exactly 500 meters to the west. But it mattered little. Raphael wasn't hungry, nor thirsty, nor tired. The overviewing mental image blurred away, as images from the past week crimes appeared. Had he missed something?

 

No... it was all clear.

 

"Always be two steps ahead of yourself...." Tetsujes words rang again in his mind. What was his next step? He had no solid evidence. Uncertainty arose within Raphael, as he failed to believe that anyone else would belive what he had recently experienced. "Pikey..." most of them called him. Even the captain. Who could he turn to? The Tennes? "No..." he thought. The Tennes we're an emotional and uncontrolled disaster. Still in belif that they're the champions of the waywatchers. If anything, they'd most likely use the information to favour themselves. Friar Julian? "No..." Raphael thought again. The church had already been loosing influence due to the female massacre. If Julian would use this information and go public, there would most likely be a riot against the church, with the militia as the arrowhead. Killian? "No...". Nobody would believe him.

 

Raphael sat focused, a breath leaving him every third minute. The fire had since long ago been burnt out, and the wood had been turned into ashes. Raphael twitched slightly as the first serenade of the blackbird. He removed his blindfold and looked to the skies, it was already dawn. "KRAAA! KRAAA!" a Raven landed on his shoulder, Raphael looked at it as he spoke:

"I'll have to tell him..."

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