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The Green Arrow: #1

Season Three: Justice Rising
Star City | Cemetery

Footsteps crunching across the snow laced field interrupted the quiet of the cemetery. Oliver forced his attention away from the gravestones’ polished surfaces, suppressing a sniff and dabbing swiftly at his eyes. An older woman, bundled appropriately for the frosty temperatures made her way slowly towards him, hugging herself tight against the playful wind that tousled her greying hair. Ten paces away she halted her slow advance, removing her spectacles with a shaking hand as if she’d seen a ghost. She might as well have. Oliver was the spitting image of Robert, from the way he stood, to his ungloved hands clasped behind his back, to the flattened locks of golden hair. He even possessed the emerald eyes that sparkled mischievously despite the welling moisture the young man could not entirely repress. They stood in mutual, silent disbelief. Neither able to utter a word until the woman broke down, sinking to her knees, stuttering sobs so racked by guilt and grief that even Oliver felt his walls begin to crumble. He went to her, bringing the aging woman into an embrace that was accepted and returned in fierce abandon. Jean Loring pressed her thin face into his shoulder, shaking between the tears that stained his jacket.

“I – its not possible.” She achieved, taking several deep breaths to try and calm herself. She turned towards the gravestone, clearly labeled ‘Oliver Jonas Queen, Beloved Son’. “I didn’t believe it, I couldn’t. I thought it was some terrible prank and that I would find nothing. But when the test came back, and the notes and everything you couldn’t have known unless you were Oliver. Surely not, but it really is you, it must be. H – how? You’ve been gone for so long.” She could deny it no longer, even after the DNA tests came back positive she’d doubted, and every second of the car ride she’d contemplated turning back, calling the police against the note’s direct request and reporting the man attempting to impersonate a deceased child. The ocean claimed him all those years ago, and she moved on with her professional life. Robert Queen, his wife Moria and their son Oliver, a small but important chapter in her three-decade career. A book closed, and a conclusion signed by three empty graves. Except here stood evidence to the contrary very much alive.

“A long story Mrs. Loring.” Oliver answered once he wrestled back control over his own emotions. He maintained their embrace, partly in an unwillingness to part with a link to his childhood, and to maintain their cover. If anyone watching glanced their way, they would see only two people grieving for a departed loved one and nothing more. Jean did not hold any such concerns however, and pushed them apart, holding tight to his forearms as she looked him up and down.

“Then you can tell it to me and Joseph over dinner, he will be as thrilled as I am. You look thin Oliver; have you been eating well? I’ll have Joseph order something on the drive back.” She paused as Oliver bade her quiet, laying a finger across his lips.

“That would put you and Mr. Loring in unnecessary danger.” Oliver whispered taking the time to scan the surrounding area. He’d implored she maintain complete confidentiality in her work, and even then, he still was not certain he could trust her. Not that he suspected she would willfully betray him, but his known presence in Star City could cause any number of uncertain reactions. More than his own safety was at risk in such a scenario, and if long dead Oliver Queen returned and became center headline alongside the criminal Green Arrow, any number of intellectually inclined people would be quick to place two and two together. Fortunately, Oliver’s warning cast a sobering spell over Jean, her dark eyes widening at the implication.

“W-what? Why? Oliver you’re alive! This is good news isn’t it?” The look she gave him was pleading, and not for the first time Oliver considered how terrible his plan was, and how little he was prepared for the consequences. How long before she let slip the truth, and his father’s enemies turned their attention on the one place he’d considered himself invisible? Hiding in plain sight was what he’d been taught, but that only worked if your quarry suspects nothing.

“Do you remember what happened? What you were told about the night they – you know?” He took her hand in his wishing for all the world he could take back everything, let her continue her life in peace, without all the upset and hurt his reappearance would surely bring. But he needed Jean Loring, she was the only person he felt he could trust in his endeavors.

She nodded, her brow furrowing as she focused on news reports she’d read over a decade before. “There… There was a storm, and they said something must have damaged the emergency beacon and cut out radio communication because they never found anything, not even a piece of debris.” She shuddered at the memory, at the loss of so many friends and associates the freak accident claimed. “Forty-nine missing, including four children and some among them being of the most affluent names of the time. They called it the worst maritime disaster of the decade.” She trailed off as Oliver shook his head.

“Lies, or at least inaccurate.” He closed his eyes, wondering how much he should share, or even could without falling apart. Screams echoed in his ears, the wild cries and desperate gurgling of the slaughtered, the stench of piss and blood as men, women, and children were indiscriminately cut down one by one. He could still hear the thwack of his father’s body as it collapsed upon the crimson deck, his Hawaiian button up laid open by cruel steel that flashed in the darkness. The mask of orange and black that watched with indifference as Moria fell beside her husband, gasping out her final words, words Oliver would never hear. The mocking laughter as he and Tommy prepared to struggle for their very lives. Everything permanently carved into his mind in exquisite detail except the one thing he wished he could remember. “They will make you believe, whatever they want. Truth is a tool and a weapon, and a weakness to be exploited. Never a right. No one could ever know what they did, or who asked the deed to be done. Whether the others were also targets or mere witnesses I cannot say.”

“Oliver?” Jean whispered his name, horrified by what he was implying. “Who would do such a thing?”

She received no answer, and never would Oliver resolved. The League was a tool much like the truth. Their blades did not discriminate or hate, as his own arrows were when they flew to claim lives, indifferent to the target whether it be paint and straw or flesh and blood. No, the man responsible lived in Star City, thriving off his father’s work. His hands might be clean of any physical blood, but the stains were there, nonetheless.

“Let me worry about that Mrs. Loring.” Oliver assured her when a moment passed. “I need your help, but I don’t want you getting hurt or caught up in my battle, unnecessarily.”

The woman did not hesitate for even a moment, squeezing his hand in a show of dedication and courage. “Name it, anything Oliver. What can I do?”

Leading her over to a nearby stone bench Oliver dusted off the snow sitting Jean down before taking a seat beside her. It was a good spot. White fields stretched in every direction marked by neat rows of carven monuments to the deceased. They reclined beneath a gnarled oak as old as the cemetery itself. In the warmer months its boughs might provide shade for weary mourners, but now the branches hung barren, its only ornaments twinkling icicles and tiny snowdrifts that collected upon the twigs.

Deciding he had little time to spare Oliver began their discussion, glancing over his shoulder occasionally to ensure no one was near. The cemetery was deserted for now, but someone could easily conceal themselves behind one of the larger stones, or even the rises of the smaller berms could hold a would be. “Do you know Malcolm Merlyn?”

“Yes of course, he’s the CEO of Queen Industries – oh!” Jean raised a hand to her mouth. “That’s your company Oliver.”

He nodded. “I know, and how did Mr. Merlyn come to own and run the business?”

“I am not certain. I think the most likely path was from you to John Merlyn, your father’s Chief financial officer, and then to Malcolm. Since John was onboard during the… Well, he was unable to receive the inheritance like yourself and Malcolm would have been his next of kin... You’re not suggesting, Malcolm was responsible?” She shuddered at the thought of working for Robert’s killer, and not only that but defending him on a routine basis.

“No, I don’t think he did. Malcolm might be an opportunist, but he’s not someone who would murder his own brother on the hope the board of directors would pass control on too him. I hope. There are far more dangerous people in Star. Individuals who would not react well to my presence here and would do just about anything to see me isolated and gone. For good this time. Which is why for everyone’s safety counts on you not letting anyone know, no matter how tempting that I’ve returned. If they do find out, and someone saw us here speaking together, you know what they’ve already done, what they might do. No one can know, not even Joseph. Promise me that Mrs. Loring, please?”

“Oliver I’m so sorry.” Jean wept, her back pressing against the unforgiving wooden back of their chosen bench. “I didn’t realize, Joseph already knows, he’s waiting at the car. I was worried you might be someone else pretending to be you, I asked him to wait for a half hour, and if I didn’t come back, that he could call the police and come find me.”

Oliver flicked his hand over, checking the beat up yet reliable little watch that ticked away on his wrist. They’d been conversing for at least twenty minutes, and it was impossible to say how long Jean’s walk from her car had been. “Its alright Mrs. Loring, I should’ve realized how hard it would be to keep that from him. Its my own fault. Just swear him to secrecy as well.”

They both rose, dusting stray snow from their garments and readying themselves to depart. Jean seemed reluctant and pulled out her phone explaining as she did. “I’ll call him on my way back, so he doesn’t worry. And ensure sure he retains his silence on the matter, we’re good at keeping secrets. He’s married to a lawyer after all.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Loring.” Oliver said giving her one final hug. It’d been painful the last few weeks seeing all the links to his distant childhood, but meeting someone his father had considered a friend since his college days, and Oliver himself had known her almost as a member of the family, that’d struck a particularly sensitive chord. “I’m sorry I dragged you into this, but there was no one else who would have understood.” And I wanted to meet you and see a friendly familiar face. No matter the danger, he didn’t add. “If you can, could you recover some of the records concerning the inheritance, including my father’s final will?”

“Certainly.” Jean promised. She checked the time and grimaced. “I’ve got to hurry, Joseph’s patient but he did not approve of this meeting, said it was too crazy to be true. Frankly I partly believed him as much as I wanted it to be true, with you being so secretive he was right to worry. We had no way to contact you back, just waiting for your next note. Which begs the question, how will I find you once I’ve got the documents?”

Oliver gestured towards the triple gravestones that stood in eternal vigil over empty earth. “Leave them here, under some flowers or something. Mom will watch them until I stop by to collect.”

“I suppose she will.” Jean sighed as Oliver gave her a gentle smile and turned to leave. Reaching out she grasped his shoulder, stopping him before he could go another step. She felt a strength there and saw the determination in his eyes and knew there would be no stopping him. There would be no convincing him to bury the hatchet and forget the terrible wrong done. Nevertheless, she thought she might as well try. “Oliver, I don’t know what happened, or why, or who and I don’t think even you know for certain. Ambiguities aside if these people are so dangerous, maybe its best to let it go. We have the capability to get you on your feet, we can send you somewhere nice far from here and let you live a normal life. Please, I don’t want to attend your funeral again.”

“A normal life is impossible for me now.” Oliver took her hand and gently removed it from his shoulder. “Even if I wanted that. Star bleeds, and there are some things worth fighting for, and yes dying for if it comes to that.”

“I understand.” No, no. no! She wanted to scream, to force him to end whatever plans he was forming, and leave it all behind. Was she honoring Robert’s memory by letting him entangle himself in a struggle against cold blooded killers, or failing her old friend by letting his only son risk his life against appalling odds? After all, what could one man do against the corruption that infested Star City? She did not know, fifty years of life experience and she had nothing more insightful to impart. “Just, just promise me you’ll stay safe, alright?”

Oliver laughed despite everything, an easy grin supplanting the tears he wished to shed. “I’ll do my best, I swear.”

*Sad Warhammer noises*

Completed Sheet, I might come by a few hundred times to fix grammar errors and the like, but nothing big should change.

I wish to present my definitely not a joke character concept...

Jehan’s parting words left Guy more than a little confused. The young knight slumped in his chair, puzzling over the cryptic response that hinted at terrible loss and misery for the older, yet smooth-faced Errant. Unlike the snide retorts and saber rattling he’d expected Guy was instead handed a sincere warning, one that left his inexperienced mind reeling. He could not however follow the advice, even if he was inclined too. Ideals were important, but his brother’s life or honor could very well be at stake and he would sooner perish than crawl home defeated and empty handed.

So what if the world plagued by darkness? What if others fall from their true path and fail in their duties? If a man’s word is worth nothing, what does he have but the false luxuries and a poisoned existence. There are things in life worth dying for, and honor and holy vows are some of those noble things that I cannot forsake.

Guy’s father always contained whimsical lines for such times, Lord Guerre would set his sword point first upon the limestone floor of the chapel, the stained-glass windows casting him in rainbow hue as he spoke his words of wisdom. “An honorable man dies but once, but a coward shall perish a thousand times and more.”

“Apologies monsieur?”

Guy jerked back from his reprieve, remembering where he was. He’d spoken his father’s line aloud, and the tavern hosts wife had heard him as she approached laden by a plate of eggs and bread and a tumbler of beer. Guy eyed the dark-haired woman with interest, surprised by the presence of yet another Bretonnian this deep within Imperial borders. She’d answered in lower Bretonnian, the peasants’ tongue, and more likely than not did not fully comprehend his quotation of his father, following only to a minor degree. Indeed, what she did understand of his words probably would be quite distressing to hear in one’s home and business.

“Nothing of your concern.” Guy answered at last in Reikspiel, accepting the proffered breakfast, and placing his final penny upon the table for her to collect. “I do have a question for you however.” The woman nodded, preforming a passable bow, keeping her eyes downcast and respectful. “This sigil, do you recognize it?”

She glanced up, frowning, and then nodded once. “Yes, m’lord, I have seen it before.”

Guy’s heart skipped a beat, and he snatched the woman’s hand, making her flinch, more from shock than pain, but the intensity in the young man’s gaze kept her riveted in place, fearful that he might strike her. “I am no lord.” Guy corrected; a bit harsher than he should have been. “And I do not intend to become one, at least not for a while yet the Lady be kind. That honor is to be my brother’s, and his alone. The raven, you have seen it. When?”

“In Bretonnia, when I was still a child, I do not remember the place, there were many knights, and many banners, but the red raven stood out. It was place upon a larger flag than the others, I think, though, it was different somehow…?” she panicked seeing the twisted defeat on Guy’s face. “I do not recall why; I am sorry monsieur!”

“No,” Guy released her, slumping back in his chair forcing away his tears, that’d for a moment been ones of hope now dashed. “It was wreathed in vineyard vines perhaps, or crowned in a fleur-de-lis, the marks of my family and kin. No, I meant have you seen it recently, here in this town?”

The nervous shake of her head shattered whatever was left of his hope that is brother may have ridden through this place on his rides with the Broken Swords. “But, the Ogre’s Maw does not often host knights sir, perhaps the other establishments in town?”

Guy nodded glumly, not thrilled by the prospect of wandering from tavern to tavern asking if any of the patrons or owners had seen his brother. The emotional ups and downs as people hmmed and hawed over the inquiry left him exhausted, no matter how accustom he became with the wearisome task. Guy scooped some rapidly cooling eggs into his mouth to give himself something to do as the goodwife stepped away to tend to other customers. He would attend to that duty later, he would be in this place for a few more days no doubt, waiting for the boy he’d rescued the previous night to recover, and he still intended to deliver the vague message to the town leadership. Guy finished his breakfast his course of action decided. The mayor first, then to the healer Margueritte to see if the boy was lucid enough to answer any questions, and finally to interrogate the other taverns in Schartenfeld.

Rising Guy departed the tavern turning down the road towards the one building that domineered over all the rest, concluding this was the only place worthy of housing the local government. He was met at the door by the guardsmen, dressed in their flamboyant finery they respectfully requested he wait while someone fetched the Chamberlain.

“Recken yer late fer th’ meetin’ wit’ th’ mayor?” One asked in a version of Reikspiel that even Guy, being well educated on the tongue had trouble understanding. The knight decided it best to ignore the man than puzzle through the question and tapped his boot upon the cobbled paving impatiently. Sebastian Johan Bock (No relation to Johan Sebastian Bock) arrived just as the Breton was contemplating abandoning his goodwill quest to inform the mayor of the boy’s warning altogether.

“Ah, you must be late for the meeting with the mayor young sir.” The chamberlain chided, sounding very much annoyed that someone would arrive late for such an important occasion. Guy blinked in surprise, uncertain of what scheduled meeting he was late for, but he only shrugged, gesturing for Sebastian to lead the way. Unbeknownst to Guy he traversed the same path as the others, looking about at the Imperial architecture and gathered militia with an appraising eye as Sebastian led him through the halls and straight to the office of the esteemed mayor. A sharp triple knock, and a bid for him to enter found Guy stepping over the threshold and into the crowded space. It took him only a moment to recall Johan Sebastian Bock’s request for mercenaries and for him to recognize all their semi-familiar presence and intentions.

“Of course. Well, it is as good a time to be recruiting mercenaries.” Guy said as he squeezed into the room, rolling his eyes skyward as he figured out what meeting he was apparently late in arriving too. As if he, a Knight of Bretonnia would fight for blood gold. The mayor had just finished answering a few questions it seemed, and Guy stomped over whatever business they’d been conducting to attend to his own purpose. “I discovered a common boy on the road, starving and pathetic, he requested I see him here to Schartenfeld so that he may deliver a warning of some kind, of a danger to this town I presume. He might have more information on that front, though according to the healer he was in no condition to relay more. I thought you may wish to know, so you could prepare.”
@Dusty, I have no idea what you’re taking about.

Haha, I suppose now would be as good a time as any. Guy's brother Phillipe was taken by the beastmen, and his shield and weaponry is being used by a champion fighter amongst their ranks. Which is why the boy Johan is panicking in his sleep about a red crow, and Marg warned everyone about a red raven from her nightmare. I've talked it over a little with JB, but I don't know the full scale of the tie-in and what he's going to do with it. Either way, someone connecting the dots will be Guy's main motivation for joining the venture. I figured Rodrick being a clever priest would be a good option for the person who figures it out.

Welp the current situation has left most of us with nothing to do, so I'm gonna have Guy run around town for a bit asking about his brother, as he will, and then show up at the Town Center to give his own report to the Mayor. If anyone has any ideas for how we could get the gears moving again, now would be the time to say it. I suppose Rodrick being the smart one could connect the dots between Guy's heraldry and the visions and warnings they've received so far. ...Unless someone else would want too?

Thank you much, @tipssyCalibrator.

...So, who is currently not engaged and would like to be hunted?
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