"We tried to be better, but we aren't. I don't think anyone could last more than a week here if they weren't willing to do bad things." - Alba Reyes

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Jonny
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You hate kings and you think kings are really stupid. They are petty, bossy tyrants and are really full of themselves and are basically awful in every way.
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The most immediate downside of being such a badass is that people have a tendency to prostrate themselves in abject terror whenever you show up. Do something as simple as walk into a room, everyone snaps into reverent silence and bows their heads (for they are not worthy). Do something as simple as jump out of nowhere at a defenseless boy and brandish your sword as him, and he falls over and begs for his life. It was a burden, this aura of booming majesty that he dragged around with him wherever he went, but one he had to shoulder. It was a curse. It was a crippling character defect.

And Julian was, if nothing else, acutely aware of his crippling character defects.

"...Pick it up, Dave. We're not going to kill you ...as long as you don't do anything stupid."

Julian glanced back at Claire- lowered her gun, good- and relaxed himself. Shook the tension out of his shoulders, dropped to one knee, and shoved his sword a few inches to the ground. "And even if you do anything stupid, we only gonna kill you a little bit." His words and face were friendly, his eyes mostly focused on David but occasionally tracking the shallow wobbling of the sword's hilt. "And I'm sorry I spooked you, man, it's just that I'm with Samurai Club and we're all practicing for our big recital."

"...So, did you follow me here? ...If you don't mind me asking, why...?"

Julian rose back to his feet, turning to one Claire and leaning his left leg slightly on the sword. To make sure it was still there. To make sure he still had his power, his control, his trump card. To make sure he could still protect her. To protect her- was that the answer he was gonna give Claire? Little paternalistic. Little condescending. Little stupid, now that he knew she had a gun and was in the habit of pointing it at squawky little guys. But a gun is a dishonorable weapon of cowards, Claire, you need a brave samurai to protect you and that is final.

"Yeah, I followed-"

"Hey! Is everything okay?"

Oh for fuck's sake. It was almost like these folks- Julian whirled his head around, how many of them were there?- weren't entirely aware that they were dealing with a freelance messiah. But... well, they seemed well-intentioned enough. Certainly better for them to ask a silly question or two than for them to try and start some shit. So he couldn't get legitimately mad at them, and in the absence of legitimate anger there was exactly one tone Julian had at his disposal:

"Y'all want in on Samurai Club or somethin'?" He turned his head slowly and surveyed the little crowd of people who'd come to this spot- whether they consciously knew it or not- to bask in Julian's booming majesty. "Sorry guys, I can't help you out. Treasurer's office is that way," a random way, a random place that wasn't here, "and she can hook you up with membership cards if you're interested. Five bucks, plus the cost of a badass sword."

An aside glance to Claire. Goofy, cheerful, but a little exasperated. These crazy kids, no respect for privacy. He shook his head and turned back to her. He lowered his voice. Almost sounded serious.

"Claire, I followed you because I wanna protect you. I wanna make sure you find Aislyn, and that you don't get hurt on the way," his eyes flickered towards her gun for a split second, "and, well, that you don't hurt anyone yourself. You can take it or leave it. But you deserve to see your friend again. And I'mma stay by your side till you tell me to go."
Jeremy Franco is alive. You can write a better ending, goddammit.

Charlie DuClare is dead. And nothing was easy anymore except to smile.
Julian Avery is dead. Courage was the man with a gun in his hand.
JJ Sturn is dead. Fuck it, all good things gotta come to an end.
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Bump in the Night · The Felled Forest: South