“Iron Fox, what does that even mean anyway?” Samuel whispered with wide eyes as he leerily peered around a corner tilting his head toward the scarred warrior woman for the inquiry. Sasha narrowed her eyes at a ring of keys before grimacing at the assortment of diffrent types before glaring back to Scraggs and with a sharp yet deafened tone counters with “You choose now to ask me that?” Scraggs caught the image of one of them, he pulled himself back around the corner again casually to not draw notice before holding up his hand to Sasha’s. Her face squirmed at the hypocrisy he was displaying but wasn’t about to question the spotter, she held her tongue.
The sound of a heavy wheeze turned into a growl down the hallway Scraggs had just been peer down. His face went somber as he looked at Sasha with a nod pulling a new hand cannon down low between his knees pressing his back against the adjacent corner of the wall. He closed his eyes and listened for it, a puppet of the Marionette killer praying it wasn’t shuffling closer. Uneven footsteps was the first signal of movement encroaching upon the duo. A sputtering hack escaped the lungs of this puppet like it were a gunshot giving a keen understanding of it only been mere feet away from them both. They both held their breath knowing any movement might bring another horde.
“Someone….there?” Scraggs shot a petrified look to Sasha as she shook her head no to him as he readjusted his grip on the gun trying to stay silent but loose. The bloody body of a guard turns the corner with a crazed look in his eyes as Scraggs hadn’t expected to see a survivor inside the barracks. He wasn’t wrong though Sasha could tell the man appeared to be unhinged his eyes shook lightly, his wounds appeared to be mostly self inflicted and worst of all holding a pistol in his hand. Any amount of trust would be dangerous to give to this man. Sasha rose to her feet drawing her swords. The watchman dropped to his knees in paralyzed terror before he shouted “She can’t see you! I won’t let her see! Please I don’t want to die!”
“Awfully rational for a psychotic isn’t he?” Scraggs mused immediately pointing his head around the corner again. “But shout like that again and we’ll be having a very expedited resolution for that volume control issue of yours. Are we clear?” The crazed man nodded furiously until the cold shine of cold steel slid into his throat silently. The crazed man put his hand around her blade and looked surprised for a moment before blood dribbled between his lips and he gave a dejected look of pain and anquish before drifting silently to his death. Sasha pulled the blade out and threw the keys at him. “Get him out… you don’t got the stomach for this.” Scraggs instinctively grabbed the keys but sighed to Sasha’s willingness to kill a potential ally. “That wasn’t necessary yet.”
“It was, you’re too trusting.” Scraggs eyes the lock into the cells inside and chuckles lightly “And you’re not? Then why exactly are we here springing your treasonous captain if not trust in a clearly untrustworthy man?” Scraggs recognizes the lock design and starts thumbing through the keys silently with a very practices hand. “Besides, everyone needs a scapegoat.” Sasha remains vigilant and whispers “Oh is that what happened out there then?”
Scraggs picks his choice pushing open the barred door. “I’ll admit, that Kepli botched that forward recon….” He slides into the jail and eyes Sasha intently before she enters. “But maybe if he hadn’t watched a little boy get murdered when he just needed help he might have been a bit more professional and collected. Did that ever even cross your mind bitch? My boys are tough, they are professional, but they love this city… and some of us didn’t sign on to kill kids just because the contract says so" Scraggs normally playful tone was gone and Sasha already missed Scragg’s banter and plafulness. She realized that those men were no different to him as The Iron Fox Company was to her. He had kept her focused but that sobering critique of her recent actions shook her a bit as she stopped in her tracks while Scraggs glared.
“Samuell I-” Scraggs immediately turns and walks letting his voice carry down the dark stairs “They’re dead, that’s just business. Play to your strengths Sasha, apologies don’t suit you.” Those words rattled her convictions in who she saw herself as… a victim. Scraggs slipped into the darkness as Sasha stood alone replaying that moment in her mind. Cruel and thoughtless, much like James Cradivin himself how could she have said that? Anger she thought, Gabriel left you because of the scars. She hunkered down her thoughts knowing any more doubt would be potentially lethal.
“Been hearing all sort of shit outside Lieutenant” Mummered a familiar voice in the darkened hallways as Sasha approached. His voice was strangely light to her, as she saw him after only a day she barely could recognize him amongst the bruises, blood and battered bones. Cradavin likely had been beaten nearly within an inch of his life after Atticus walked away with this man’s entire company. Sasha found himself unable to look at her once proud captain who only grinned at her like an ornery grandfather.
“The Iron Fox, It use to be a fable told along the dragon’s tongue river.” Said to Scraggs slowly forcing herself to look at the captain. “Many think it was the man who beat Scion Roth at his own game along the Dragon’s Tongue River. A Bandit who went by that name. Others think it was his greatest rival, that Scion Roth made such an example of him that he was only able to be remembered the way children’s tales are. But what Anyone who served under this man learned was…” Cradavin groaned likely trying to sit up but answered in a gruff voice like he was gulping down gravel.
“That you better be faster than any huntsmen, tougher than his bullets and more cunning than any bloodhound to have the guts to call yourself an Iron Fox. Because we will be chased, we will be wounded and betrayed.”
Scraggs looks at the pitiful man before him, he’d seen worse but it was clear he was a shell of his former prestige and strength. Sasha keeps herself under control wiping tears from her eyes before saying in a shaky tone “But we will give you the hardest chase of your life.” Through his swollen face a smile crawls through on Cradivin toward Sasha as the sound of a distant gunshot robs him of that tender expression. “You shouldn’t have come.”
Sasha immediately unlocks the cell and plainly replies “Shut up sir.” to which causes her Captain to just chuckle and shake his head. “Loyalty wasn’t on the list Lieutenant” Sasha helped him up and looked to Scraggs “Get his armor, and weapons they’re stored in armory ‘for auction’ room”. Sasha sighs as Scragg did as he was told thankful to have this one brief moment with Cradivin before she says “James, can you fight? can you run?” Cradivin pointed at her wine flask “Give me a strech and some water and I’ll be good for one more Chase.” gave him the rest of her water without another water as he hungrily gulped it down and used some to clean his face and festering wounds.
“Sasha, I gave you an order… no one, not even you needed to go this far for me.” She accepted back her flask and surprised him with a long hug. Sasha didn’t speak and Cradivin broke the silence. “Sitting in that cell, gave me time to really think; about Bogsmeath, Willow Way …Bolten. Being an fox, it’s hard stuff. We’ve left the needy in misery, the rich more corrupt, and given mercs a bad name to many out there.” Sahsa remained holding onto him silently. “She was loyal too, your mother. Too loyal, she knew how soldiers like us live; hunkered down in trenches hearing death race around you like death praying to just go back home.” He ruffled her hair and and took a deep breath. “You always reminded me of her so much, never saw a prouder mother in my life. When I came back to Tyric’s Abbey and found you in the Orphanage because she’d died… I knew I couldn’t make the mistake I did with Donna. I needed to show you war, I needed to know you’d endure when all my past caught up to me.”
“Orianna and Balthier, the pirates you recruited to Bolten all of them say you abandoned Bolten.” James sighed and nodded at that. “Why would you lie?” James heard the sound of Scraggs in the distance coming with his armor. “Because they weren’t the mission, and because of Gabriel…” Sasha felt a sting in her heart hearing his name from Cradivin but she focused completely on him. “I came from this city, nothing more than a ganger like any other burn out kid here. One of us had the bright idea to rob from a wealthy looking man, couldn’t have came from anywhere but Belicose. That man was Gabriel’s father, we never stood a chance. He gave us a chance to leave before he’d execute us… I bent a knee.” Sasha looked confused_“How did Gabriel factor in?”_ James grinded his teeth and sighed. “Debts to the Matues mostly, a rich noble who was offering to pay three times the price of the contract for a much easier mission, and …” His words trail off as he looked to Sasha who demanded an answer silently. “…you.”
Her heart sank as she realized something as Scraggs stepped up handing off the plate armor with a grunt. Cradivin had agreed to Gabriel’s terms because Gabriel and her had become interested in one another. Her mind raced, was it to wisked her away from Iron Fox to keep her safe? Was it to pay his debts with a wife? Or was it possible the man who was hard as steel who came one day to a village and said he was her father, actually wanted her happy? She wanted so desperately to ask these questions but Scraggs handed off Cradivin’s sword and approached.
“Unless you want to be my new scapegoat, maybe reign it in?” Sasha blinked and realized just how emotional she had been during all this Samuel was right to jolt her back she was like Kepli… if not worse right now. She took a deep breath and widened her stance flexing her gut and arms to reign back in her facilities. She rolled her neck and shoulders before shifting her blance from one foot to the other, she wouldn’t die here she would claw through this. James looked to Scraggs “So who in Wyrm’s teeth, are you exactly anyway? And what has been going on above ground?”
Scraggs looked surprised by those questions and nodded “Hadn’t really considered you wouldn’t know about the condition of the streets, especially considering how bad it’s been. We’ve got a lot to tell you…”