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The Marked

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In 1816, something called "The Year Without A Summer" occurred. It was caused by a volcano eruption from the previous year. The ash from the eruption blocked out the sun which created the frozen summer. During that year, survival was made particularly hard and sometimes death was the better option. But even when it wasn't, it still ran rampant and often times, humans were the cause. Those that didn't die from the chill died from each other. Now, murderers had existed since the time of Cain but they had reached an all time high once again.

At last, a pub called the Six Mile Inn was built. It was named in honor of the fact that it was located six miles from Charleston, SC. It was a simple, standard pub that didn't seem special, but that was because it wasn't. It wasn't the pub that was special, it was a certain group of people that frequented that pub. They were the ones who made it special. And who were they? Well, they were a motley crew of unique and diverse folks whose only similarities were as such: a strange red brand on their inner forearms and the crime of murder on their heads. These murderers, these lost souls, were able to roam the countryside but, for some reason, the Six Mile Inn had become like a home to them, inexplicably drawing them in.

Those special people, the murderers, were called The Marked in honor of that red brand because it had not come from any human. Instead, the moment a murder was committed, that red mark would cut itself into the arm of the guilty. It was as though God himself were judging and condemning them. The present owners of the Six Mile Inn were some of the Marked. They ended up creating a whole new side to the inn. Yes, the Six Mile Inn did function as a normal bar and hotel, but when the moon was high and light low, other Marked would enter this inn and call it a sanctuary for murderers. These two owners who had built this secret side to the Six Mile Inn were Lavinia and John Fisher. Their gang consisted of Storm and Tender, Johnny, Mary, Edward, Rosalie, Henry, Sarah, James and Tim. They were about to get a new member.

That new member was a 21 year old woman named Abigail Randolph. She had killed her cheating husband and his mistress in a jealous rage after discovering their affair. Hurt and betrayed by her husband, Abigail waited until he and his mistress were together in bed. Abigail stabbed them both until every square inch of the bed sheets were stained in red. Her mark appeared only moments after both husband and mistress had breathed their last. Initially, Abigail thought nothing of it, but one day, something changed all that. It was snowing, again, and she had headed into town in hopes of finding something for sustenance. She hadn't originally intended to, but during this daylong trip outside, she wound up heading to the Six Mile Inn. As she walked in, she couldn't help but think about what a dingy establishment it was, but her instincts would not allow her to leave without sitting down and ordering a drink.

"What can I get for you?" the lady at the bar asked when Abigail drew near. Her southern accent was as heavy as the snow outside.

"Just whiskey," Abigail responded, slapping some money on the cold wood between them. The woman smirked at the payment and swept it into her apron before turning around to grant the girl her request. Once she returned with a frothy mug full of whiskey, Abigail noticed something strange in her eyes. It was typical for someone who ran an inn to scrutinize their customers but Abigail could sense that she was being scrutinized even more than the average patron and she couldn't help but bristle under such an intense gaze. Ok, yes, she was a murderer twice over and she probably should've been at least imprisoned for such a heinous act, but she wasn't a psycho or a serial killer. Her husband was cheating on her! She didn't just go stabbing anyone who angered her! It was just that one time and she had good reason! So this lady didn't have to keep staring at her like she expected Abigail to go on a rampage right then and there.

"Thank you," Abigail said suddenly, then she moved away from the bar with the mug held in a tight fist. She tried to find a seat as far away from the bar as possible. Despite this obvious gesture, Abigail could still feel the barmaid's eyes burning holes into her head.

A moment after this movement, though, the barmaid vanished behind her counter and into the kitchen.

"Is she a Marked?" John whispered, seeing that look in his wife's eyes as she returned from the dining area to the kitchen.

"I think," Lavinia answered, also whispering. "I slid the poison in her drink. We'll see what happens," she promised and John nodded solemnly. This poison that Lavinia was referring to was not a normal poison. Instead, it was some strange concoction that would kill a normal, innocent person but would go right through a fellow Marked. If Abigail died from the drink, Lavinia would know she was innocent. If Abigail survived, Lavinia would know that the Six Mile Inn had just gotten a new family member. It would only take about five minutes to figure out an answer, the poison was a quick one.

Five minutes later, Abigail was still alive and gave no indication that she was about to drop over.

"You know what that means," John murmured. Lavinia nodded wordlessly before moving back out to the bar. She walked to the far end where Storm and Tender were busy taking shots and playing a card game. She leaned over to them and whispered in their ears. They perked up the moment she indicated that there was a new Marked amongst them. Nodding back at her with a cunning twinkle in their eyes, they suddenly left their little game and headed over to where Abigail still sat, watching the snow fall down. She was getting real sick of the sight. Storm and Tender pretended to just be passing on by but, at the last second, Tender shoved Storm and, of course, he fell. Where he fell was no accident, however. He ended up right in Abigail's lap.

"Hey!" she snapped angrily, shoving Storm off of her. Following the incident, both men pretended to apologize profusely but all three of them knew that it was all entirely insincere. Abigail's face darkened but neither Storm nor Tender cared. They had all the information they needed. In that little stunt, the moment Storm had landed in Abigail's lap, he managed to lift up the sleeve on her dress and there, on her inner forearm, was the mark. Lavinia and her special brew of poison had not been misguided. This girl was one of them.

"My dear lady, I do apologize most humbly!" Tender said at last.

"Whatever," Abigail replied callously.

"We would do anything for your forgiveness!" Storm echoed his friend in earnest.

"Then go away," Abigail scooted closer to the window and farther from the two of them.

"Oh, nonsense! You must come with us!" Storm insisted.

"There are a lot of people in the back who you simply must meet!" Tender agreed. Before the girl could protest them further, they had each suddenly grabbed her arm and they began to drag her back to the kitchen. Abigail had half a mind to start screaming but before she could even open her mouth, something deep within her urged her to keep quiet. Then, on the way back to the kitchen, both Tender and Storm subtly lifted their own sleeves and when Abigail saw the same strange scar on their arms that she had, she lost all of her resistance.

A moment later, Abigail was in the kitchens. Storm, Tender, the barmaid and several others were with her.

"What is this?" the girl demanded warily.

"It's a homecoming," the barmaid replied warmly. Abigail said nothing, still watching them all with guarded eyes. Seeing her suspicion, the group raised up their sleeves one by one.

"Haven't you ever heard of the Marked?" Tender and Storm asked when Abigail's eyes had widened.

"Never," she replied. Excited grins filled the faces around her.

10 mins later, Abigail was back in the dining area. This time, though, a wicked gleam was in her eye. She'd learned that she was, by the divine hand of God, now a member of their little gang. To most, such an idea wouldn't be very charming, but to Abigail? It was almost exciting. She had gone into this inn expecting some cheap alcohol and bad company but now she wasn't planning on leaving. Instead, she was going to wait at the bar until nightfall when patrons were either asleep or gone. Then the real fun would begin! Across the way, Storm and Tender had returned to their shots and cards. They were acting as though nothing had happened but Abigail saw the matching smirks on their faces and she knew otherwise. Once or twice, the barmaid, whose name was Lavinia as Abigail had learned, would shoot her a sly grin that Abigail always returned. It filled the girl with a sense of power to know that she was effectively a wolf amongst sheep. All of these innocent, idiotic patrons had no clue that they were dining besides harbingers of death and she was one of them!

Several hours later, the inn finally closed for the night and the Marked came out of the woodworks. With every last patron either in bed or outside, the Marked were able to show their faces confidently and once the rest of the bar had been wrapped up for the night, Abigail received her official welcoming party.

"Let us welcome a new member!" Lavinia cried to the Marked. They cheered in response.

"Her name is Scornful Abigail!" John added. She and John were, like always, the officials when it came to inviting a new murderer into their gang.

"Scornful Abigail!" the Marked all echoed. Abigail grinned at them, relishing the attention. The rest of the night was spent singing, dancing and drinking as Marked from all over came to greet the newcomer and sing her story into the snowy night. Abigail watched the whole event with pride. She had a new family now. She was officially one of the Marked.