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A Needle in a Haystack (Sunrise, Jarek, Glen)

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Lest his teeth be taken as aggressive, Jarek mutes his smile a touch as he hands over ranch rations, but still endeavours to radiate friendliness. Which would be easier if they didn't have such pressing matters to discuss.

"If you've never heard of her, then let's hope that's the last of her path crossing ours, eh? What about other folks? Did your protector mention anyone he'd seen lurking about the neighbourhood? Any chance they're watching the house? Because I'm thinking about us dashing out of here, and the wrapping-up of folks to disguise them, and I'm thinking that we might want a decoy too. If these creeps want the babies, then I might buy you all some extra time if I were to make a mad dash out of here with a couple of bundles in my arms. Scatter the herd, scatter the hunters, y'know."

Though he's talking to Thorn, to make sure he knows Jarek wants to protect thechildren too, he looks briefly to Sunrise and Glen, local subject matter experts on dazzling performances and skirmish tactics.
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Sunrise frowns. "That's not a bad idea at all, except." She glances at the still form on the bed. "Your sister would have my hide if I brought you back without an arm."
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"I can do it. If he can lose an arm for this cause, I can certainly take them on a chase. I'm fast, and good at hiding." Glen says all of this matter-of-factly, dispassionately. He is not afraid; in fact, he knows that it's the right thing to do.
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Thorn runs a hand through his red curls, then raises it like he wishes to speak but isn't sure if his input is welcome.
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Jarek nods to Thorn. "Speak your mind, please do."
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Glen nods encouragingly at Thorn. "Jarek is right, please speak. You're as much a part of this as we are, so you should have the right to speak up too." He smiles.
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Thorn nods and smiles weakly, looking like a man with newborn twins who hasn't slept a solid night for months. "Um. I don't know if I get a vote in this, but I don't actually want anyone losing another arm for me? Like, I already feel really shitty about the first arm, and I don't feel like adding a second one will make it any easier. I appreciate the offer! Really! But. Yeah."

Shaking his head, he answers Jarek's earlier question. "No, I don't think they know where we are, or they'd have come for me already. They might know now, I guess, if you were being followed, which is one more reason why I'm glad you have a carriage coming." He glances at Sunrise to confirm this. "But if you're thinking about running out, well. First of all, it's a blind alley. You'd have to run out past the carriage. Which seems kinda silly if they have arrows and I'm worth more dead than alive--I guess you'll slow them down for the short time it takes to line up a headshot?"

He sighs. "Second of all, where are you planning to run to? If Treygis has hired locals to look for me, I'm guessing they know the area better than any of you? You talk about herds and hunters, but what's going to stop them from herding you wherever they want? Even if you somehow manage to avoid taking an arrow to the brain and all they do is run you into a deadend, I hope you're not thinking they'll be like 'oh whoopsie-doodle, never mind' when you turn out to not be me. Quivyll losing an arm isn't, like, the upper limit of what these people are capable of. They already killed Rik once."
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Sunrise nods. "No, you're absolutely right. And of course you get a say in this." She takes a deep breath. "We stay together. If there's a fight, we fight together. We don't need martyrs, not when we can have each other's backs and all get out. And you." She looks at Thorn. "Worst case scenario, if they do get a shot off at you - we will be the ones who hang onto your body, we will be the ones who get you raised. Okay?"
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Glen nods. He doesn't want to admit he's a little relieved to hear that throwing himself in front of a volley of arrows isn't going to help anyone too much. He addresses Thorn first. "The work we're doing is important and is worth sacrificing for. Your life and your children's lives are worth sacrificing for, too. But it doesn't sound like such a sacrifice would be helpful. That's fine with me."

"Sunrise is right. We have to stick together. If anyone's getting stuck with an arrow tonight, it's them. I'd much rather be keeping an eye on you troublemakers than running of to who knows where. I promised Rik we'd bring you back safe, and by the Blessed Eighteen I intend to do it."
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What a bundle of godsdamned joy Thorn is.

"Good... good points," Jarek says, nodding encouragingly. "I was thinking one of us would run before the carriage was near, like we didn't have a better plan, but..." Jarek's cheer is rapidly dampening as his brain repeats the phrase "line up a headshot" over and over in such matter-of-fact tones. "Was hoping they'd be careful if they thought there was risk of hurting the little ones. Probably shouldn't do that. Okay, so we'll just rush you all into the carriage as quick as we can and... hope they don't notice? I mean, if we're going to assume the worst, then we have to think as soon as they suspect anything they'll put arrows in the horses and swarm the carriage, yeah? Luther knows that?"
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"If that happens, we'll put arrows and swords and whatever we've got into them. I'm not getting in the carriage. I'll ride with the driver and keep my bow at the ready."
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"Thank you," Thorn says with a tired nod, looking grateful underneath the weariness. To Jarek, he adds somewhat apologetically, "I do take your point, and I'm sorry to shoot you down. But my husband is a powerful cleric. I just... I doubt he cares if my children are harmed as long as he can heal or raise at least one of them to claim as his own. Or pretend he did and replace them with another infant, if it comes to that." He sighs and runs his hand through his hair. "I've had a while to think up worst-case scenarios, sorry."

Sunrise feels Luther in her mind again, courtesy of the link with Honey. <We will arrive shortly. Be forewarned that we are attracting attention. Get ready to move quickly.>

---

[OOC: As a reminder regarding what you "see", you have Thorn, a wounded Quivyll, two babies, two cats, and a kitten. Now who is glad I didn't give the archer a cat to hold?]
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Sunrise stiffens, then glances around the room. "Crap. Luther is coming, and he might have company. Jarek, can that vest of yours hold more cats? Otherwise they're getting thrown in a sack and apologized to later." She strides to the bed, evaluating the man in it. "I'm thinking Jarek, you shield our guest and the babies. Glen, keep an arrow on the string and cover our exit." She shakes her arms, trying to loosen the sleeves on her dress. "And I'll find out if I can carry a grown man."
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"He hasn't eaten in days, if that helps," Thorn offers in a quiet voice.
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Jarek clears his throat somewhat awkwardly. "Might be we reverse that? I'll haul Quivyll out first, since he's heaviest and... I'm guessing he'd want to be the first one to face the danger, if there is any. If nothing bad happens right away, you and Thorn bring in the babies while I, uh, stand guard"--this is a euphemism for being a living shield, but Jarek doesn't want to think too much about that--"and if something bad does happen right away, Glen shoots it while we... keep doing what we're doing. I guess."

Not the most heartening scenario. Jarek deeply wishes his sister were here, but he's also very glad she's nowhere near the hypothetical headshots. "Either of you know any spells that could cover us up?"
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"No," Sunrise says, frowning. "At least I don't. I can't help feeling like speed is the most important thing? I don't want you making two trips or staying out there longer than necessary."
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“Nor I. I still barely know what kind of power I even have. But this should get the job done.” Glen takes a deep breath, unslinging his bow from over his shoulder, mentally preparing to fire arrows with intent to kill for the first time since he was murdered. He slips a gold ring off his finger and closes his fist around it. He whispers a prayer, but his companions will only hear it if they are right next to him.

Obad-Hai. Pelor. Guide my arrows to save these men, to save these children, to protect my friends. Grant me a sharp eye and keen aim. Bring me home so I can see my sisters again. May my arrows bring honor to the Eight Division and to my vice-captain. I can do this. I'm ready. He pauses. Sis, if you're listening, wish me luck.

He takes off the ring and slips it back onto his finger. He looks over at their charge, serious but not grim. “Thorn.” He eschews caution, given that things are about to get pretty wild no matter what they call each other. “Can you use a sword? I have a spare. I know you'll be holding the babies, but you can put it around your waist to at least have as a last line of defense in the carriage.”
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Jarek nods at Sunrise's concerns, and leaves Glen to pray unbothered. "Just saying I think I should go first, with Quivyll, not that we should delay moving. Reckon it's best if you two have me to hide behind. I've hauled unconscious folks to safety before, and this time it's not even in a flood!"

That said, he approaches Quivyll's bed and surveys the sorry state of... well, everything. "We should at least swaddle him a bit so he doesn't get a limb stuck in a door or the like."
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Thorn laughs softly and shakes his head at Glen. "No. Quivyll promised to show me when we got out of this, but Father never taught me and as hungry as I've been this past week, I'm probably too weak to even lift the blade. Thank you, but I'd rather run than stand."

Gathering up his babies, which are fussing up a storm, his gaze slides from Sunrise to Jarek with a flicker of concern. "Uh. I run behind one of you?"
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She shakes her head again, sliding hands carefully under Quivyll and testing his weight. "He's not heavy," she tells Jarek. "Goddess, he's almost worryingly not heavy. If there's trouble, I'd rather have your hands free to fight. I can handle him." She looks at Jarek. "Either one of us could carry him, but only one of us can reliably do more damage to the enemy than themself wielding a sword, so."

As if to demonstrate, she hefts the man up into her arms. "Behind or alongside Jarek," she says. "Stay close. Someone secure the cats, and get ready to run, everyone. They're close."
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Glen nods at Thorn. "I totally understand - figured as much, given you haven't been eating, but I thought I would ask." He reaches out a hand to put on Thorn's shoulder, but hesitates before making contact to make sure Thorn doesn't flinch away. "We're gonna be fine." He smiles, then turns his attention to Sunrise and Jarek.

“Whether or not we decide for you to do it now, Sunrise, let me show you the best way to carry a wounded comrade.” He walks over and explains a fireman's carry to her. If she allows, he demonstrates by picking her up in such a carry. “Alright. Your turn.” He puts down his bag and weapons by the door. "Gimme a lift."
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She sets the man down again, grateful to be shown an easier way to carry a person. Once she has it down, she puts the paladin over her shoulders as demonstrated. "Oh gods yes, that's much easier."

She moves back to the door. "Honey, let Luther know to tell us as soon as he arrives, we're going to come running." A though occurs to her and she pauses. "Sweetheart, can you carry the cats to the carriage? It would free up more hands."
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Thorn smiles shyly at the offered hand on his shoulder, looking oddly grateful for the gesture.

Honey nods and swoops down to pick up a startled cat in each paw. Unfortunately, the two cats immediately begin fear-fighting with each other and squirming in her arms. Honey, barely heavier than either of the cats, let alone both, falters in flight and slams into the nearest wall, losing grip on the two cats who each retreat to a corner to lick their pride. Honey herself slides to the ground and sits there, dizzy.
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Glen gives Thorn's shoulder a squeeze, genuine empathy and affection in his eyes. He is in awe of the young man's resilience. "We'll be safe in no time."

Glen picks his possessions back up, picks up his bow, and takes an arrow out of its quiver. He nocks it but does not draw. He walks over to the door and leans close to the space, if any, between the door and the jamb, seeing if he can see or hear anything. 

Perception 4
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Sunrise closes her eyes, leans against a wall, and slowly counts to ten.

"Okay," she says a moment later. "Honey, just come back and stay on my shoulder, okay baby? Jarek, you do animals: you're on cat duty. There's a sack right there, just grab them please."
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