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Quick, wash out the blood! [closed]

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As Enid crumpled into the welcoming cushions of her oversized chair, Jericho continued with unbroken stride into her kitchen, recalling its general direction from the sounds of clattering dishes when Jericho first occupied the witch's parlor. The kettle was out in plain sight. The tins took a bit of rifling to locate but this gave the kettle time to boil. When Jericho joined Enid in the parlor it was with a kettle spouting steam, jade teacups and saucers resting on the same serving tray, and a small square of canary yellow cloth, damp and cool, resting on one end of the tray.

He poured a cup of water for her, placed it near her end of the row of tins. Poured a cup for himself, and into its waiting depths dropped a collection of herbs. Jericho let them steep a while on the tray, watching the colors bleed from the leaves into the water, as he plucked the damp cloth with the pointer and thumb of his left hand and used it to clean the blood from the thumb of his right.

When he was done erasing that final bit of lurid evidence which linked him to a recent and violent past, Jericho held the cup to his lips and took a tentative, searching sip, careful not to scald himself. When the temperature proved reasonable he drank twice more, then nursed the cup in one hand.

It was nearly twenty minutes from their first exchange to this second one.

"I'm not going to – presume. That I know anything about you or why you do what you do, why you decided to help me, any of that. But me, I think we did the best kind of work that a person living in this world and trying to make a difference in it, can hope to make. If someone comes up behind me and slits my throat right this second."

A pause, for precisely one second. One got the sense that Jericho wanted to look over his shoulder but restrained himself just barely.

"Then I die knowing that many, many others live; better, fuller lives too. As much as I can help it anyway.  I'm pretty sure there wasn't a single one of those fucking churls made it out of their alive, but that's not reason enough to take it easy. If any of those chattel sympathize with their captors they might give away one of the checkpoints. Which should by all accounts be empty by now, I've taken precautions but I'm not perfect."

Jericho rubbed the index finger of his right hand over the corresponding thumb.

"Far from perfect. Point I'm making is, do you got somewhere safe you can get to if need be? I wouldn't stick around these parts too long, if that's something you can help."

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Minor Summary

Following the events in home of the brave, Jericho uncovers information vital to the successful operation of the human trafficking racket he has uncovered. Jericho joins forces with a powerful witch to enact a plan of violent justice, crippling the slave ring, and providing him with a path for an even more effective attack.

Full Summary

Following the events in home of the brave, Jericho deploys remote surveillance nearby the destroyed brothel while waiting for interested parties to show up. When they do he speculates as to their value based on things like how they're dressed, what they drive, the body language of those around them. He identified one person as a fixer, deployed to chase him down; knowing who was chasing him, when, and how, gave him the upper hand in turning the tables. Jericho briefly tortures the fixer to get the information he desired – specifically, where the money was kept.

This led him to a warehouse. At this point Jericho is unsurprised to find that the criminal organization involved in trafficking moves more than just humans; he discovers a depot for narcotics, illegal weapons, and contraband goods.

Part of Jericho's success in his ongoing ventures is in the speed with which he uncovered information and the strategic position of himself with respect to his enemy. This not only let him prey on his predator, but allowed him to arrive at the warehouse in time to find an accountant charged with information crystals fleeing the warehouse. Jericho chucks a javelin through the window of the escaping vehicle. This javelin lights up and projects runes of blindness and madness all along the inside of the car. Jericho took what he wanted from the defenseless minions and located a safe place where he could get at the coveted information in the crystals.

Jericho meets Enid in Minaiki, the village of tranquil glades. He visits her shop on rumor that she has access to spell components uncharacteristic for the environment and requires a number of exotic items and materials to setup his assault on the slave-mongers's trade routes. Over the course of the next half hour through the vehicle of casual conversation, Jericho not only reveals his desired ends for the spell components, but finds in Enid a sympathetic partner – notably this tentative partnership forms only after an honest exchange of intent, and a reading of tea leaves performed by Enid's scrutinous eye.

With a plan in mind and components at hand, Jericho and Enid position themselves at a point in the route that sees a caravan hauling human cargo occluded by a small tract of forest. There they strike, penning the caravan in with an artificial threshold, paralyzing a goodly number of the hired drivers and security with twin Hands of Glory, and then quickly murdering everyone involved in the shameful operation. Jericho and Enid crack the locks on the trucks, allowing Jericho an iterative chance to explain to each truckload of people in Alterrin who they were, that their captors have been killed, and that he wants to help – arming them with their captor's weapons in the process.

This arc concludes with Jericho and Enid leaving a truck at various drop points, each removed from the other by miles and stewarded by a local rebel or concerned party arranged by Jericho beforehand. Jericho and Enid go back to Enid's parlor for tea, for Enid to think about what this might mean for her life going forward, and for Jericho to plan his next strike.

Notable Consequences

Massive disruption to a primary trade route used by human traffickers

Not detailed here, but happening as an aftereffect – Jericho will publish the mafia's information so that the local police force as well as competition from non-human-trafficking traders adds further complication to his target

Opportunities

Bad – Some of those lesser criminals see an opportunity to climb the ranks

Good – Continue to disrupt trading routes and damage assets for criminal organizations

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The witch was glad for a moment's reprieve while Jericho went about his business in the kitchen. The relative silence of the room was a space for reflection and slow, steady breaths that brought with them the smell of incense and oils that had seeped into the upholstery over time. Left alone for too long, she feared she might sink so deep into the room as to become one with it. Was that so bad, she wondered? But then, was the life of a chair, or a table, or anything else in the parlor one of servitude? Enid liked to believe that she gave each of the things in her odd little shop a purpose, but perhaps she was wrong.. Not all, but certainly some, a handful of her wares and things at least, could think and wonder and question in some small capacity.

Such idle thoughts escaped her as Jericho returned to serve the tea. It was a quiet ritual at first; a small, meditative chime of tin and ceramic-sounding jade. When he spoke it was with what she assumed to be his true voice. It was, if nothing else, a significant departure from the way he spoke and presented himself upon their initial meeting. His was the rhythm and tone of voice that made one listen intently, and Enid could not help but shift in her seat and lean in over the table. But when he'd said his piece, she was still quiet; one might assume apprehensive if not for a lack of expression.

There was so much swimming through her head that warranted a word or two. She wanted to say what those things were, to ask him real questions and speculate on the answers. But the time for such things, she thought, had passed. It was not that she felt guilt by their actions (she didn't), but that everything about the affair was much more complicated than it might have seemed on the surface. So was he.

“There is no safer place in all of Valucre than this parlor.” she said with absolute confidence, despite her usual flat tone of voice. Enid took up her cup of tea after it had cooled somewhat, and took a cautious sip before easing back into the comfort of her chair.

“But yes, I plan to leave Alterion altogether.” She warmed her hands around the teacup and rested it carefully in her lap. “We could leave now, if you wish? I could take you with us, and you wouldn't even have to leave your chair to do it.” It was difficult to say what she meant by 'us', but the firm look in her eyes as she met his suggested that it wasn't just a slip of the tongue. It was a genuine offer, and one she'd been considering since their departure from the final checkpoint.

She took another long sip of her tea, then tilted the cup slowly from side to side in her hand, staring down into the leaves out of habit. “....But I can see that you won't.” She wasn't surprised. After all, there was more work to be done in Izral, wasn't there?

“Just remember after you leave.. A snake severed from its body still has a venomous bite.”

They whiled away the rest of the morning with idle chat and long, but arguably comfortable periods of quiet. When it was finally time for him to leave, Enid bid Jericho a casual goodbye, as though he would, or could return at any time for tea and cakes. But as the shop bell jingled upon his departure, the sound behind him faded into a nothingness that felt like absence, leaving a sort of hole in the air where sound should have been. And when he turned around, if he did turn around, the bell, the parlor, the gold lettering on the door and the door itself.. any sign that Wandering Wares had been there was gone.

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