A Necessary End

Title: A Necessary End
Time Period: August 20, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: In the midst of an annual celebration, a series of disturbances escalates into vengeance five years in the making.

It's night, but perhaps no one has noticed. The sky has certainly turned black as coal, but lanterns and fire torches keep the square lit warm and bright, the ships and boats pulled in near the shore decorated similarly, and the season is good for it. Most of everyone here has been celebrating since the morning, with contests, games, dances and food continuing on into the dusk, and by the time nightfall has descended upon Scotland, the festivities have not truly lessened, if only condensed into this one place and become a little less organised.

Music lifts up merrily, and the churning centre of the crowd is dancing. This is an acitivity that Edmund Rowntree despises most every moment, but his wife's fretting had reached a crescendo enough to inspire him to pull her into it himself, for once, rather than the other way around, an arm around her waist and ignoring, probably, the guardsmen and more of his peers coming up with most excellent and witty remarks for him when he returns.

There are tables where both wine and beer is on hand, free, and though it is beginning to run shallow, there is still enough left to carry on the party for at least a little while yet. There are places to sit, away from the crush, and some even possess the rooftops to get away and talk in better peace.

One individual who'd consigned himself to a moment of respite on the rooftops is Rhagfyr, engaged in some undoubtedly bawdy conversation with some fellow sailors while sharing a small cask of liquor. The rum up there is also running dry however and the captain decides to leave his crew to their own devices and meander amongst the crowd at large.

The long teal and black striped coat he wears flares out as he takes a step off the side, landing lightfooted next to a quietly drunken couple below who are offered a broad, toothy smile. The swagger is only slightly off kilter, not stumbling over his feet but having a merry drift to his step as he gravitates to the beer and the company of strangers.

There's no rooftop resting or leaping for Dina who feels less inclined to leap like a goat and scale the various ways of getting up to those heights. She instead, is easing down into a seat, right arm kept close to her body in it's sling and taking in the music and the relaxed populace. She's already done her rounds and even participated in a more relaxed dance. Right now, it is break time for the Dornie Matriarch and one of the heads of the powerplants. Long skirts settling into a weakening swing, a wool wrap about her shoulders to ward off any summer breeze that might chill her, Greets The Sun shuffling out to sit on her lap and soak up the atmosphere as well.

While Constance is a fan of dancing, she's a bit danced out. Having found a seat (she had to charm an older gentleman out of it with a sweet smile), she relaxes, catching her breath as she watches the dancers. She seems amused, although a bit lost in thought as she scans for anything interesting (or anyone) that might catch her eye.

All sanctioned chaos is framed by order, lest its paradox prove irresolvable - the king of misrule gets his crown only on the condition that he relinquish it at carnival's end. If one is to avoid having a Bakhtinian revolution on one's hands, the workers' day may slip into workers' night, but there cannot be a workers' dawn- a workers' rise.

So Duncan is on his feet, but unlike his brother he hasn't yet been coaxed into dancing. He stands watch, a hard point upon the curve of circumscription that hems in the festivity, a line broken by buildings and water. Some of his men and women are on the rooftops as well, consigned to sobriety in exchange for bonus pay and the tacit promise that they may, like hawks, swoop in upon any ale-muddled lambs who stray from the flock. The mood is good, though - intentions are mostly amorous, and the militia don't seem to be spoiling for a fight, by and large. Let there be peace between labor and management.

The presence of ladies, bound by blood and love, also helps in this regard. Constance's golden head is watched at a unsmothering distance - even the highborn don't get unrestricted freedom.

Fire has plagued Aislinn Rowntree's dreams for the past few nights; it blisters skin and peels flesh from the bone, the flames so intense that when she awakes it's soaked so thoroughly in her own sweat that she looks as though she's emerged straight from the loch.

Whether her nightmares are an omen or simply a manifestation of her anxiety surrounding Jain MacCruimein and his missing familiar, she's making a valiant effort not to let it consume her and ruin the evening - it's rare that she and her husband have the opportunity to celebrate anything together (as is the case with many working couples), and although Edmund can undoubtedly feel her heart pounding hard against both their chests, she's consumed enough alcohol that he might be able to attribute it to the festivities.

A little like their wedding night, in other words.

Cheeks rosy from just a nip or two too much drink, Luna's laugh at the misfortune of her most recent dance partner as he tumbles to the ground can nearly be heard over the music. It's not malicious, at least he doesn't take it that way; then again, he's a bit more into the punch than she has been. After coming to a stand he waves her off in favor of more of the wine on the table, possibly trying to drink his fill before it's all gone.

Luna, on the other hand, is not yet ready to stop her merry making. She scans the crowd for practically anyone she might be able to cajole into one more dance and when her eyes land on the sober Duncan, her face breaks into a wide grin. He may or may not see her weaving her way through the throng, but in an instant, she's in front of him and tugging on his hand with both of hers.

"Come on then! Let's make our first dance in public one to remember, aye?" Her invitation to him is actually a little more innocent than the wink that punctuates it would suggest.

As ever with these occasions, some footfalls move through the stir more steadily than others. Out of necessity, a few sober souls patrol the party's outer (and innermost) regions. Algernon Fogg is among them, overdressed and undoubtedly stuffy in the dark drape of a duster that may be new. Or at least rarely worn.

Whatever the case, he blends well against the crowd in the absence of his hat, distinct at a distance only for the breadth of his shoulders and the stiffness of his spine. Whatever swagger he possesses is decidedly on kilter.

From the rooftops through and alley and back into the mix, he seems to tail Rhagfyr for a time on his way to winding along a busy table. He pauses when he reaches Constance seated at its end, drawn up next to her flank with a glass in hand.

"Back to civilization, I see."

There is probably something that speaks of duty, even if Edmund is focused only on Aislinn in this particular span of time. They would probably both rather be at the castle, particularly when the world is busy over here, the building to themselves and her children and sheltered from the world with as many wards and spellcastings that would have Aislinn calm down, although none have worked so far. But it's for Dornie they are here, and besides, maybe this will do, fleeting distraction and an excuse to drink.

Edmund hasn't much, actually. Something about her anxiety has him keeping his wits about him. He finds himself seeking out Duncan beyond the crowd, briefly. But then everyone around them insists on doing something where they have to hold hands and go in a circle and he sort of pauses his dance with Aislinn to look at her like are you okay yet or.

Seemingly unaware of his tail, Rhagfyr comes up short before the spread and claims for himself a cup before turning on a heel to survey the masses. While often not quite understanding the perculiarities of the landfolk, on this day at least, he looks to comprehend entirely. The equivalent of 'shore leave' for the factory workers. With no familiar faces down here to impose upon, he remains close to the alcohol for now. Just in case his cup should magically empty itself and require refilling.

The pirate was seen to dance earlier with his lady, although since she left there seems to be no further inclination. He looks happy enough to abstain. Mor-Leidr Bach also has been absent for a while, having drifted off with Carys wherever they vanished too.

Glancing over at the voice, Constance offers Algernon a small smile. "I suppose it was inevitable. I can't stay in the woods forever. And besides, the woods don't have good food and dancing. The allure was too much to take. Besides, I have things I'll be needing to do here eventually." Her gaze sweeps the crowd again, clearly not looking for anything in particular, but searching all the same.

Luna Owens is another golden head that's received special attention, and her approach does not come as a surprise to Duncan, whose arms are already crossed, forming a barricade that her nimble hands must surmount in order to lay claim to his own.

Duncan should say 'no'. One of the brothers Rowntree is enough of a concession, surely. He should not allow himself to be swayed from duty, much less so public a duty, by a woman, much less this woman.

Ah, but what a woman! Now his hands are in hers, unable to escape. A thumb brushes the back of her knuckles and he smiles with a lover's helplessnesses before love's inevitability. A word is passed to Murdina, his snaggletoothed lieutenant, and with it a proxy. He'll dance. With Luna, he'll dance.

"Don't let your father find out," Duncan says, as if there were anything left to hide, and then lets Miss Owens herald his way into the hoi polloi. A glance upwards and he meets Edmund's eyes. They're both in for it, it seems. So be it. It's just one night, one dance. What could go wrong?

"You're all spinning," means no. Aislinn is not okay, and maybe that alcohol was a bad idea. Her arms loop around Edmund's neck in a swoon, and she leans against him, head on his shoulder. She won't be the first woman to have left the dance floor in this fashion, and she isn't likely to be the last, either - her slurred speech and the way she murmurs into her husband's throat are no cause for alarm in an environment where liquor is flowing freely.

"I can't breathe," she confides in Edmund, then. "It's so hot."

And then Murdina's leader is stolen from his duties and dragged out into the square. Hands joined to Duncan on one side and a rather forgettable factory worker on the other, Luna is ecstatic at the lively reel. "And if he does?" Though Maddock's blessing in this (the newest in a long line of fancies) would be most welcome, she doesn't let the possibility of his frowning disturb her enjoyment.

On their way around, her eyes fall on Aislinn and the little gossip does what she does best… Mistakes the swoon for a bit of intimacy. "Although, it looks as if we won't be the talk of the town tomorrow morning. We're being outdone in scandal by your brother and Aislinn!"

"For the best, I imagine," says Algernon, who sips despite the fact that he is — theoretically — being paid not to. No one is watching.

A little finch confirms as much after a moment's hesitation, little claws scratching for purchase from one roof tile to the next. Hop hop hop.

Tension set through the line of his teeth bled away into a longer swallow, Fogg sets the glass aside to clasp at Constance's shoulder instead. Polite reassurance. Also something of an encroachment, in the scheme of things. They are not close.

"Your father worries about you."

Onward, then, he nods lazy acknowledgement to another man of Duncan's militia in passing.

Though some may assume scandal (which, they would have to try hard, being married), Edmund knows better and a flicker of worry passes over his features. His arms fold around Aislinn to keep her steady as she mutters against his neck, and without much in the way of hesitation, he hoists her against him. "Walk with me, love," he bids her, coaxing an arm around his shoulders while he keeps his looped firmly around the waist, easily taking her weight so that her feet might simply motor along beneath her. It's too crowded to carry her easily, but maybe once they're out—

Duncan's glance is not met this time, whereas normally that would get a rare smile from Edmund in a sort of knowing exchange. Instead, he sees about leaving the dance, shouldering past people who don't give way.

He also misses the arrival of his parents. Marcus Rowntree tends to draw the eye, being broad shouldered, silver-haired, and the sort of stare that tends to make lesser men nervous. He arrives on horseback until a servant can take the reins, helping himself down. Helen Rowntree is just behind him on her own mount, deflecting any help to get off it herself, and nor is she especially keen to simply hang off her husband's arm. She will smile and gravitate to Dina instead, or seek out her sons, while Marcus will clap his hand on the shoulders of men he recognises and begin to mingle as well.

Not knowing Edmund or Aislinn or their significance, Rhagfyr only pays mild, idle curiosity to the scene as his gaze drifts over the couple. It doesn't seem so out of place. He appears to be affixed in place now, not quite having the energy or sobriety to go a wandering; standing where he is, many people will come to him so it works out perfectly.

One of the dockworkers passes, sharing a quiet joke with the man which elicits a loud laugh. A quieter conversation follows and something exchanges hands. All parties seem satisfied with whatever deal has occurred.

The hand on her shoulder gets Constance to look at Algernon, but his topic of conversation brings her attention in her father's direction. "Yes," she agrees. "He may worry. But he also does a lot of scolding and rarely praises. I suppose it's his way, though. I am certain there are some things I can manage to get his attention that, hopefully, will require less of him demanding I don't leave the castle."

So it's a substitution, one brother for the other. Luna's interpretation is taken and tinted further by Duncan's own profound prejudices. Public indecency is still grounds for scandal, at least when one is hoi oligoi, and he can only presume that Edmund is being wise enough to escort his wife, drunk-to-dissolution, to where she cannot make a further fool of herself and, by extension, all of them. At least someone is keeping their head.

In time for the appearance of a head above heads. With Dina Ross present, it's only proper that the Rowntrees bring their own -triarch into play. Marcus' appearance is cause for Duncan to feel a moment's twinge of self-consciousness. Maddock's opinion he can take or leave - the man is, to Duncan's mind, their client more than anything else. His presumptive father's opinion is as heavy a weight as can be placed upon the scales of Duncan's judgment.

It's a bit graceless, as a young boy is graceless, when Duncan's dance step falters upon recognition of Marcus' arrival, and to his profound discredit he glances down the line of the reel, nervous of where its path might take him, anxious that his own public impropriety not fall too directly before the elder Rowntree's eyes.

Aislinn turns her face away from the crowd, attempting to shield it with one of her hands, and as soon as Edmund has broken the circle surrounding the dance floor, her legs buckle at the knee beneath her - but just like a newborn fawn, she's wobbling back up again with her husband's help.

If the alcohol is to blame, she shouldn't be deteriorating as abruptly as this, and no amount of beer or wine can account for her low, panicked moans, or the fact that she's begun to tear at her clothes with fingers bent into the shape of claws.

Her bodice rips open, its laces tangled around her knuckles, and all of a sudden Aislinn is screaming and struggling out of her dress.
Constance has disconnected.

Duncan's falter is noted but the warmth of wine has taken an opposite turn on the normally shrewish Luna. Instead of stopping and turning on him with a screech of self consciousness, her smile widens and his hand is given a slight squeeze of reassurance.

Until someone else makes their own display.

Luna stops dead in her tracks, colliding into Duncan's chest as she stares at Aislinn, wide eyed. Her jaw drops in horror and then her cheeks color as she looks up at her partner. "We should help her?" She would rush over without a second thought, except Edmund is there, and she is a little more than wary around him.

There's a part in the crowd round Aislinn as she sets to tearing — subtle but certain. Enough to draw Algernon's sideways attention from Duncan and Luna and further still to slow his progress away from them to a halt.

What he sees is enough to give Forge a moment's pause as well. Cast down into a great wooly cat, he fixes jasper orange eyes a touch uncertaintly after what he can see of the display through the knees and ankles that comprise this gathering at his current elevation. Fortunately most everyone else in sight has the same reaction; a stiff shake of his tail is all that's required to save it being trodden on.

It takes a shake of everything else to spur him on for Luna Owen's knees and ankles specifically. He brushes around the left around her backside, tail under hem, familiar eyes turned up at a glance in passing. Hello.

The twelve to wildcat's six, Fogg is on the move, along with one or two other men about his size with lesser degrees of certainty. There is no standard procedure for royal nudity.

This is new. In all their years, this is new, and there is no standard procedure that Edmund knows about either. At first he is frozen, and then his hands go to her. Saying, "Aislinn!" doesn't seem to get her attention, nor the grip to her arms as she claws at her own chest and tips back her head, Edmund taking a knee as he almost collapses with her. His hands seek her wrists, then, and press them together, away from herself so that she cannot further embarrass or, his primarily concern, damage herself.

"Help me!" he barks furiously at onlookers. He doesn't know what to do. He barely notices when Helen rushes over, her shadow shading over both of them, a hand to her son's shoulder.

It's a good distraction, really, one that Cruikshank didn't really intend for. He hasn't been a hidden presence, just a sulky one pinching helpings of alcohol, avoidant, and this is more or less expected of him. But now he slides away from a table, disappearing in the crowd, and to be honest, no one notices him. Those that look will slide their attention away again, or fail to recognise him. As Aislinn's screams replace music, a knife is taken from a pocket, a blade with a fancy handle marked with symbols, the steel wet with some sort of solution that glimmers red, too clear to be anything very morbid.

In the thick of the crowd, as delicate as a cat's scratch, he brings the blade against the back of the hand of someone he passes by, a large Nordic looking fellow who hisses and turns towards the offender, looking down at the thin line that's slitted across his knuckles, but just as casually, the mage keeps moving, knife tucked away again.

Instant chaos. The man fairly forgets that he's been knicked by whatever small blade as his blood begins to pound as if lit on fire. Aislinn's madness has struck her but this is a different kind; he doesn't attack himself, but suddenly brings the tankard he was holding down across the skull of the nearest man with a roar. He doesn't stop there, so it was not a personal dispute, latching onto the collar of someone else and fairly throwing him into the nearest table, which capsizes immediately with a crash.

The man starts to work his way through the crowd, throwing people off him, throwing fists. Where Marcus had stopped to move for Edmund as well, he now turns towards this newest thing, a hand going to the gun he wears beneath his coat until he can learn the measure of what's happening. A guardsman nearby does not appreciate the proximity of the rager and his lord, pulling forth a gun and pointing it to the man as he grips a handful of Marcus' cloak to urge him back.

Well. This is unexpected. Rhagfyr looks on with the faintest of smiles. Having no idea who this lady is with her sudden desire to be sans-clothing, he is little inclined toward helping and goes with the policy of just staying out of the way and not staring. The fighting seems more interesting, perhaps telling something of the man.

With so many militia about, he's in no hurry to get involved although undoubtedly some of his men will if things pick up. Pirates have a hard time resisting a good scrap. The captain instead begins to sidle away from the alcohol table and then with a tiny crouch, he calls upon his will to propel him upwards onto the low roof of a nearby building away from the trouble. A hand plants down on the edge, a deft kick and swing about and soon enough he's sitting with legs dangling over the side to watch the chaos ensue with a contented curve of the lips.

"What the hell," Constance says in a very unladylike manner. Mostly because she's a little surprised, confused, and worried about the current events. She's on her feet quickly, eyes scanning about as she braces herself on her feet. She's sure Aislinn's being seen to, so as much as she might want to run to her, she stays where she's at. Instead, her eyes go through the crowd searching for a reason, a cause for all of this. Poisoned food, maybe? Something in the drinks?

"Suffering saints…" Duncan growls as all concern for his own appearance of propriety evaporates like morning mist in the sun of the unfolding scene. Maybe the rending of garments and the bursting of bodices is considered perfectly decorous in whatever passed for culture in Aislinn's home before Duncan wisely commended it to ashes and dust.

Edmund's concerns are misplaced, by Duncan's judgment. A body mends, and marks can be hidden. A reputation takes greater medicine to heal, salves upon the many minds and twice as many eyes; there is no easy cure for corrupted kleos. But all that becomes as so much chaff when the hard kernel of the matter makes itself clear. The kettle is coming to a boil. Things are about to burst.

Duncan holds Luna against himself, an instant and elementary gesture of protection. But hers is not the most immediate risk. He draws his weapon, a .45 pistol that hangs as a mark of authority at his side and urges her to- "get clear!" before lifting the semiautomatic and firing twice into the night air. A plume of gunsmoke rises like a pale grey flare above him. No clearer signal is needed for the militia o'erlooking. Time to earn that pay.

"GET DOWN!" is bellowed in the ringing wake of the gunshot, a boom meant to rise above the heat of battle and riot both. He can presume that those who don't obey are party to this event's precipitation, and he need not weep should it take lead to make them comply.

Aislinn's feet kick out at nothing, and although she writhes on the ground and struggles to break free of Edmund's hold on her - anything to escape - the fact that he's captured her wrists seems almost incidental. She's trying to get away, but not from him.

Her screams rise in pitch, transforming her fear into physical agony, which is a kind of magic in itself - the noise she's making now is the howl of a woman who sounds like she's being burned alive.

She might appeal to her god if she was fully herself.

She isn't. Instead of prayers, she shrieks names - each iteration gaining volume and intensity. "Sarah! Robert! Elizabeth!

"John! Eve! David!"

"Oh!" The squeak of surprise Luna emits, as the tickle of soft fur hits her calves, comes coupled with a stiffening of her body, against Duncan. Her free hand whips down to her skirt to lift it enough to peek between her ankles. It doesn't take too much of a bend, but at the first glimpse of grey fur, she twirls around. Away from the militia man and somewhat following his direction when she reaches down to scoop up the wildcat.

She doesn't exactly get that far. Not when Duncan's bellow has her turtling next to Forge, instead of gathering him up to rescue. She flinches involuntarily at each shot, her hands now covering her ears. It would probably be smart to move, but she's usually one to panic instead of keep a cool head. She fixes on the familiar's jasper eyes rather than adding to the chaos by screaming.

A man going mad, shots fired skyward to the sound of Aislinn's screams. Algernon doesn't have far to go, revolver loosed from holster in the act of shoving through a shockwave of duck-and-cover. He comes from behind, pistol raised across his shoulder.

By the barrel. The club of the butt is cracked down through guardsman temple, lousy corpus wrested down aside before he swings gun to grip and snares silvery Rowntree hair up in the bloodless knuckles of his left hand. The better to drag Marcus's weight down and back off balance. The better to secure the placement of revolver sight against the base of his skull.

Fogg has time to say something. Maybe. Breath shaking in close, teeth clamped into a lock. Aislinn's still wailing.

He pulls the trigger. Bits of brain matter and skull splinter and spatter across incoming assailant and Fogg fires once more to be certain — down into a body that's already twisting away from him. Then he runs.

At ground level, Forge trembles, eyes blacked wide and ears folded. He's no longer looking at Luna, and soon as the second shot's fired he takes flight, tabby stripes streaking into fleet little wings and blunted beak.

It all happens rather fast. Marcus does not particularly earn any last moments, such as considering where his children are, his own appraisal of Duncan's frivolity or whether he thought to tell Helen she looked lovely tonight, or any last lingering ideas about what a man in a cell said to him not so long ago. No, his brain is broken apart and that is his end, half-kneeling on the trodden ground of the market square as the echoes of other gunshots still ring in the air, the shouts and cries of his townspeople, his daughter-in-law's wails.

Edmund is soul and heart locked into what is happening with Aislinn and remains in blessed ignorance. He sees Duncan raise fire, he doesn't look up again at the next sound of a gun going off, but he does stop when shouts of shock, disgust, outrage suddenly start to pipe up. He misses it first, but Helen doesn't.

She tears away from this scene, regardless of Duncan's orders, her face white and her mouth in a hard line. There is no wailing, no tears; for one thing, it's too soon in the moment for any of that, and for another, it isn't really her style. She doesn't call her husband's name because she sees the state of his head, but she does come to rest by his body, her hands gripping his cloak, and then a hawk eyed look for guilty party or if anyone is racing after it yet. They had best do so, or she will have something to sink her nails into besides the garments of the late Marcus Rowntree.

The man that was raging continues to do so, by now struggled down by at least three other men, who are bewildered when he starts to sieze and shake, froth at the corners of his mouth.

Not connected enough to be shocked, too used to death and violence to be uneasy and having little idea who exactly it is that's just been knocked off in the combat, the pirate captain sits as a calm eye of the storm. It's fitting, perhaps, given his element. Chaos swirls and rages on the streets, while Rhag fishes out a flask and shakes it, checking to see how much is left. Not enough for more than a sip.

The last drop falls, the container slipped back from whence it came. Gunfire and screaming have his attention, watching from his vantage point with a neutral expression; understanding must come before action.

The young blonde's eyes scan for the cause, the source of this chaos. Constance is trying to figure out everything when that shot rings out. Her eyes go towards the sound when she discovers that things are far, far worse than she thought. She'd have dropped her jaw if she had enough of a rational thought to think that it would be an appropriate action. It's one thing to see someone die, it's another thing to see kin die. She freezes in place, unsure of what to do or what was happening. How did it get so out of control so quickly?

Not to split hairs, but one need not understand entirely before taking action. Certainly some will sit and watch, and in idleness let life appear as a show. To the players on this seen-as-stage, the drama unfolds heedless of their incomprehension.

Indeed, Duncan cannot grasp the fullness of the situation, not in the handful of instances he has to react to the shot that follows is own. Luna is not clear, but she is at least crouching out of the line of fire, and as bodies scatter and fall as panic and compliance sort the frantic from the fearful, Duncan turns to see a body, falling - fallen. Cadaver. Who could it be? There is too little left to be certain at first, and too much in the moment to really believe it is who it is.

At least until he sees the woman whom he knows to be his mother, and then the wailing and misery of all his family, all at once, becomes premonition and fulfillment in that single instance. He knows enough. There are those flocking to help, and those flocking away. Duncan aims at the assassin's - or what he believes to be the assassin's - back, and lets loose three shots. Prayer guides them, but none of are directed towards heaven.

At some point between the second gunshot and Duncan's reaction to it, Aislinn - sobbing and sweating feverishly in her half-naked state - loses consciousness.

And for Marcus, at least, this matters not; there is nothing that either she or Cordelia, the dead man's other granddaughter, wherever in the chaos she may be, can do to help him. Aislinn spent all her energy trying to deliver a warning that was ultimately lost in translation, but such is the capricious nature of magic.

There are too many gunshots, too much noise, the cat turned into a bird and flew the coop. When Luna looks up at Duncan for some kind of reassurance that she's not getting from the missing familiar, her gaze is drawn down the length of his arm and further, toward the person that the three bullets are sent at. Along the way, she spies Helen, the remains of Marcus, at which point she zeroes in on her lover again.

Reaching out, she claws onto the leg of his trousers, using them to gain some leverage to pull herself up. She makes it as far as on her knees before her hand falls away and she uses it to push off against the cobblestone to a wobbly stand. Knowing what she should do and what she does do are two separate entities. She should be consoling someone, or making herself useful, what she does do is lock her arms around Duncan at the side not leveling the weapon.

For all that it makes clearing a path easier than it might be otherwise, 'Algernon's' magic is wide open to bullets. Unfortunately, so is his back. At least one bullet seems to tag its mark — he is effectively staggered midstride out of his retreat.

As for the other two bullets, well. There are quite a lot of people panicking between here and there for them to find. Enough so that Fogg second-guesses return fire, somehow. Ludicrously.

A hard look back is marked by the sharp edges of his profile and the even more distinct cut of his chops. Then he's off again, powering himself up into the saddle of an ill-concealed black horse between stalls nobody'd asked about when it might have had time to matter. Impossible to know where he's headed, but the safe bet is on the alley he reins around into being open at its farthest end.

Aislinn is bundled into someone's coat offered from the crowd, and now that she is still, Edmund is intent to collect her up off the ground. He would probably be doing more but as always, when there are choices to be made that concern him personally, he finds himself locked into paralytic indecision, and simply fills in his actions where they are needed. Duncan is shooting, Helen is guarding Marcus' body as fiercely as a bird of prey over its kill, the crowd scattering and swimming apart as men take chase.

His expression shows very little, because he is feeling and thinking very little. He lifts Aislinn where she lies limp in his arms, moving— he needs a horse, or a cart, or somewhere she can rest, and none of these things are immediately available— until he finally spies his parents, the portrait they make of what just happened. Anger slots in, unusually cold and definite, but there is no outlet; so its hooks sink in and remain.

The market place is much less crowded than what it was mere moments ago. People know when to be scarce. Edmund's ire will not be unique to him.

While it's possible he could help accost this killer, Rhagfyr is unmotivated and also slightly too intoxicated. Due to this, and the likely fact that once this all simmers down there's going to be militia everywhere and questioning and all that, the man hops to his feet once more and begins to hop step back across the roof away from the marketplace. The pirate advances away from the scene, rather than retreats; moving at a lazy pace and dropping down onto the next street over to take a wandering, quiet route back to the harbour where he can return to his ship. Likely to pass out.

The possibility of Rhagfyr's help is one that goes unrealized, and really- probably for the best. If law and order depended upon the aid of drunken pirates, what must have Dornie come to? Bad enough that Duncan, stone sober as he is, may have snuffed out an innocent life or two in his haste to put the assassin down. One bullet and one bullet only finds its target, and as screams mount and forms weave back and forth before his gunsights, Duncan hesitates making more widows today than is strictly necessary; with the clinic wanting for a doctor of sound and present mind, firing wild - however satisfying - will only compound the evening's tragedy.

The pause in the criminal's step earns Duncan recognition at least - action leads to understanding, in a useful reversal. Yet as Algernon mounts his horse and flashes his distinct profile, Duncan's next avenging volley goes wide and low as Luna's weight, however light, unsettles his aim. Leave it to a women to unman him.

And the bastard is away, down that dark alley, and all Duncan can do is hurl his anger at his disappearing back. "FOGG!" is howled in the manner of a baited bear, wounded and furious at a profoundly senseless and brutal act.

Luna's breath hitches as Duncan recognizes and then rages against her former client. Fogg, or rather fog, is what she tries to wade through toward clarity but it's somewhat impossible. Shaking her head in disbelief, she watches the black horse carry the wounded man away. Arms falling limp at her sides, she nods toward Constance. "You should— " whatever she was about to say is lost, in a long helpless breath.

Moving across the square, she pulls a tablecloth up from a spilled over table, and then rights the piece of furniture. The prostitute leans against it, testing its weight before making the attempt to flag Edmund down. "Here… it should hold."

There will be a blood trail, for the first little while — drops flecked wet to brick and stone at every break of equine weight from gravity beneath him. After 200 meters it begins to wane. A few more shots fired mark the general direction of Fogg's retreat — there are others in pursuit. Though — not all of them may be willing to brave after him into the woods at this hour.

He'll be easier to track by morning.

What Edmund has ever thought of Luna counts for very little, at this moment; she is the first to help him, even if there are those who have helped in other ways, such as fire and miss at the villain or wrest down the man who had been a distraction initially, who has since succumbed to a coma. He huffs out a word that could almost be 'thanks', moving to place Aislinn down on the cloth laid out, doing so gently. He places her arms and holds her wrists where they cross at her belly, and lets out a shaky gasp of a breath as he twists to look back at the stop-start of chaos when everything had once been so harmonious.

The town continues to buzz and murmur with activity, but of a different kind. While many will sleep tonight, there are those who will not.