It’s in their eyes, her mother used to say. If you want them closely enough, you’ll know which way they’re going before they do. The lessons may have been for spear and shield but they hold true just as well for guns and the quick draw. And that has kept Juniper alive and in pocket up here in the rainy south east. There’s a lot of empty wet hills between the towns of Securia and plenty of work there for those who can shoot fast and straight. Juniper’s earnt quite a pile of platinum coins bringing in bounties and joining companies. She’s stayed on the safer side of law as despite what the train robbers and sheep rustlers say there’s more money in staying legal. Sure it’s mercenary work for authorities not much better than those she’s pursuing but it’s better than standing ceremonial guard at a tomb.
Her mother, Jasper Jackelcry, being that captain of that ceremonial guard, has a different opinion. The Jackelcrys have been members of the guard of the Tomb of the Unknown Paladin since it was consecrated three centuries ago at the end of the Thorn Wars. There wasn’t any pressure on Juniper to join as her five older siblings had all become guards. Juniper however is small in frame and only just five feet tall. So her mother trained her even harder so that she would make the grade. Juniper absorbed the tactical lessons but her struggle with the physical demands slowly poisoned her against the guard, against its traditions and against her mother. The final thread of their relationship broke when Jasper caught Juniper buying a target pistol. Jasper despises firearms as dishonourable and could not fathom her daughter’s interest. For Juniper they give her a fighting chance, making her just as dangerous as any bulky warrior with a blade. Despite Juniper demonstrating her burgeoning prowess and her argument that any weapon can have a martial tradition, Jasper cast her out.
Juniper is now about as far south as you can get and still not call it wilderness. She was following the trails of a sheep rustler when she entered Amkia. Thirty years ago there was a mithril rush on Bluetop Mountain that brought a dozen hundred chancers and just as many hangers on to the base of the mountain. Amkia formed up around the dwarven forges and there was talk of digging a new great hold and building a railway. But the mithril vein was exhausted in just two years. The great forge sits cold and the town’s 217 inhabitants barely fill a ninth of the buildings left behind. They’re a mismatched bunch of people from all over the known lands. A few still dig in the mines but most support the local farms and there’s almost no passing trade.
Juniper quickly made an acquaintance of the sheriff, an elderly kobold by the name of Gig Dek. He wasn’t pleased to see a wandering gun in his town so came and said hello in the saloon before Juniper had even finished half her potatoes. The two were trading trail stories as a way to size each other up when the alarm bell rang. It turns out the mage Juniper is chasing was running this way for a reason. They’re part of the Crystal Owls, a group of magic users who’ve come this far south to avoid interference and oversight of their magical experiments. When the returnee told the other’s they were being pursued, the governing committee on security panicked and ordered a raid on Amkia to stop information getting out about their activities. Had Juniper and her revolvers not been there, the gang might have burnt much and stolen more. But perhaps without Juniper following up that bounty maybe there’d have been no raid at all. The governing committee on violence panicked when Juniper deftly took out all dozen of their summoned imps in a single volley. The gang made a chaotic retreat but not before Dek took a magic missile to the chest. He’ll recover but now all that’s between Amkia and the Crystal Owls is Juniper and her newly acquired slightly tarnished deputy’s badge.
She’s going to need some help.
Image Credit – Orc Gunslinger by Qsy-and-Acchan – CC-BY-NC-ND-3.0