There Comes a Reckoning

Farewell

I am leaving the group. It’s been a pleasure to share the table with you. May all your rolls be critical successes.

Cheers,
Jeff S.

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Arrival in Shady Gulch

I arrived in town on what appeared to be a fine Sunday afternoon after the church service. The townsfolk filing out of the chapel seemed by appearance to be invigorated and in good spirits. Among the throng, I met a man named Johnny Clockwork while searching for the town mayor, a man called Peabody.

Mr. Clockwork directed me to the mayor’s house to identify it. He was an incredibly helpful and forthright individual to provide me with so much detail about the Mayor’s background. After a review of the home, Mr. Clockwork escorted me back to the Shady Gulch Hotel which is run by a portly German fellow name Klaus. The hotel was reputed to serve the finest lunch in town. That day it was turtle soup. How the establishment came by that esteemed reputation is a bit of a mystery to me.

I met the mayor and discussed my plans with him to bring the telegraph to Shady Gulch. He was suitably excited and suggested a meeting with the town council. I remained to have lunch with the mayor and discuss the future of Shady Gulch. I did not have turtle soup. Requiring a place to stay, I also rented a room at the hotel from the proprietor for the immediate future.

Once I procured my lodgings, unhorsed my belongings and had them in order, I made a stop at the livery and sold my pack horse to a woman named Jane. She seemed quite pleased to have another horse in her stables. I left the livery and stopped at the hotel to take a secondary inventory of my belongings. Upon exiting the hotel, I once again encountered Mr. Clockwork on the street. This time he said he was searching for a missing celestial girl. I agreed to help as Mr. Clockwork had been so kind in turn, and together we proceeded back to church to interview the town preacher.

The preacher appeared to me as a man of abrasive and self-righteous conviction. His pronounced eyebrows, weathered face and gun belt struck me as severe in his profession. Mr. Clockwork and I proceeded to question him regarding the celestial girl’s disappearance. He claimed ignorance of the girl’s whereabouts or condition. Mr. Clockwork reminded the Preacher that not only had he been the last recorded individual to see the girl, but that rumors circulated regarding him and his questionable attachment to the girl. Mr. Clockwork claimed that he wanted to clear up any doubts over the Preacher’s “good name.” It was plain to me that Mr. Clockwork suspected the preacher of responsibility for the girl’s disappearance.

However, contrary to Mr. Clockwork’s own opinion, the preacher professed innocence of any wrongdoing. He confronted the questionable nature of his visits with the girl by admitting that he often met with her to discuss salvation through the Lord. On the day of her disappearance, he took her to the river to baptize her. At the preacher’s suggestion and attempt to submerge her under the water of the river, she panicked and fled. That was two weeks ago and he claimed he has not had any contact with her since. I cannot say whether the preacher suspects Mr. Clockwork’s unspoken accusation, but his answers, despite repeated questioning, remained guiltlessly unwavering.

One detail to note, however, is, by his own admittance, the preacher’s alibi is weak. He was the last person with the girl. He watched her run off, professing to have slipped on a rock in the river while she escaped. And he returned to the church to pray for her safety rather than reporting her disappearance to the authorities.

I retired to my room to review my notes on the preacher’s story. It occurs to me that should we find this girl, we should discover whether or not she has a fear of water as the preacher proclaims. Not long after my consideration of the facts, I heard two men speaking down the hall. I peeked out into the hallway and noted that they were speaking to Mr. Clockwork at his chamber door about the missing girl. What was more, they carried a celestial girl with them!

Perceiving the possibility of this girl being the very same one last seen with the preacher, I interjected and suggest they take the young lady inside. As they spoke, I learned the girl’s sister, Song, was the one who had asked Mr. Clockwork to find the missing girl. The other two men, a large negro wearing a deputy star and a man who appeared to be at least part native, introduced themselves as Deputy Justice and Joe.

After placing the girl on the bed, Justice seemed inspired and almost immediately darted off with some idea or other. He wasn’t inclined to fully share. The girl scooted back to the corner and stared at the floor. Mr. Clockwork proceeded downstairs to procure food and drink for her. Joe remained with me and the unresponsive girl whose name, I learned, was Sing. Apparently, Joe and the deputy had been unable to get her to talk.

Politely, I asked Joe to allow me a moment alone with the girl in case she felt threatened by the presence of so many men. She was clearly frightened. It was at that point I spoke to her and she responded. She showed me that her tongue had been cut out and communicated in nods and shakes of the head. She conveyed that she was hungry, thirsty, frightened, and could identify her assailant by sight. If we could somehow place her where she could covertly review the townsfolk, we might identify her assailant.

I couldn’t say how much our intervention will really matter two the two young women. The fate of celestials is often left to celestials and it sounds as though these girls come from a house of ill repute or, at the least, the hands of an abuser. Local authorities rarely involve themselves in these matters. The cold truth is that whites have little regard for celestials except in how they can be used as tools or as toys.

Mr. Clockwork returned with food for the girl and I conveyed to him and Joe the state of her well-being. Deputy Justice arrived sometime later after his mystery errand and I shared with him also that her tongue had been cut out. To his credit, he appeared disgusted with the result and eager to punish those responsible. His name, which I thought at first to be an ironic mockery, might after all prove appropriate. He implored me to speak with her and I demonstrated for him her lack of responsiveness.

Too many people in the room I suppose.

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The Cursed town of Halfway - Epilogue
Eliza's Account

In the aftermath we inspect the corpses of the outlaw and also those that perished from the ghost sheriff.

After I avail myself of one of the ruffian’s goods, Joe notices the pistols and attempts a trade. Sadly he is a little better at negotiating better than I thought. I head off

As I dig more into the ground it seems she was buried in iron chains.. there is also a necklace. I grab the pentagram engraved pendant and head back up. As I reach the graveyard the Justice is getting increasingly angry at Joe in regards to bags he has been placing over his horse. I quickly surmise they are the ill gotten gains of the bank robbery and say as much to Justice. He seems satisfied and they end their quibbling. Shortly after the fog grows thicker and thicker. As I begin to think panic may be the proper course of action, the fog breaks and the town is gone… along with what came from the town.

After searching/trading/disappearing:

Laudnom
$75 silver coin and
$75 Union Script
Harmonica
1 Colt Peace makers
1 holster gun belt
30 .45 rounds
scatter gun
witches jawbone

We pass by the largely insane miners heading into town. Marty Augustine is leaning against a post on the bar looking unimpressed. Ma Killburn is sitting taking notice. The Mayor is attempting to make it through us. Justice calms the crowd and I call out to the Mayor. The crowd finally lets him through.

George Washington Grimsly, the newspaper man. enters and wants a story. I tell him I will meet him in the morning to go over what happened. The townsfolk take the opportunity to demand the tale and I deliver the highlights telling them they can read the full details when Mr. Grimsly prints it.

Shortly there after the sheriff shows up and approach Joseph. Apparently he is wanted for murder. He goes peacefully.

Brother C.J. approaches me and asks if we go around doing good and if he can join us. I tell him I am not in charge and not even sure I want to continue associating with them. However if he is interested I would like to continue doing good in the area.

Jake Killburn asks me about C.J., Justice and Joseph. I tell him C.J. is a man of the cloth and not of the ilk of the local pastor. He thinks Justice needs to be reigned in and I agree. Though I don’t know if that will happen to the degree Jake wants. Apparently Ma Killburn is on the town council and angering her is not wise. Joseph is a tough read for me too and all I know is that he is crass. He also asks if Joseph and Clockwork would take a job with no questions asked. I think Clockwork would be amenable though not sure about Joseph.
By way of saying goodnight he asks if I have an escort to the church service tomorrow. I do not and accept his offer to do so.

He mentions there is a problem. I frown and inquire to the nature of the problem as a smirk shows on his face. He says Obsidian has lost a spring in his step and must miss me. I don’t think I hide the flush in my checks very well and I am up on the horse with him before I realize I reached out for his hand.

We attend the services. The sermon is… skillful. It sounds very lovely at first blush however his words tumble around in my head and I quickly realize he is claiming credit via intense prayer for us to succeed. He has quite the silver tongue.

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The cursed town of Halfway
Eliza's Account

We attempt to leave the town after some difficulty in finding a non-haunted building… and find ourselves entering the town again. We press on through town further. As we approach the jail a group of men on horseback approach from the same direction we had arrived. They claim to be a posse out for some horse thieves. I quite hope there is only one group of outlaws prowling these plains and while guarded, I am hopeful our numbers have almost doubled.

As we are chatting what appears to be the sheriff steps out of the jail and addresses the horsemen. He claims this is the third time that he has run them out of town. The other posse seems genuinely bewildered at this assertion. From inside the jail we hear someone yelling that the sheriff isn’t real. I do notice the sheriff does not have a soul and say as much to the group, while he continues to ignore us. The sheriff starts to countdown for the group to leave again. As he reaches 3 the group of horsemen turns and starts leaving at a quick pace. At 5 the sheriff fans the hammer and empties his gun. I cannot tell if any are hit or even if he is actually firing bullets. He then turns and enters the jail. I am now certain he is a ghost re-living part of it’s life. I enter and see a rough looking man in a cell and no sign of the sheriff.

I engage the jailed man in a bit of discourse as to the merits of us letting him free versus keeping him in some sort of bondage. I cite numerous and well reasoned arguments in favor of prisoner status in regards to his freedom, whilst he mainly “hollars” (an American phrase I am not fond of but it is accurate) about how we are leaving him to die. I don’t know if he is too thick to understand or if this a ruse to garner sympathy. Unable to release common sense from the clutches of whatever impedes his admitting defeat in the matter he soon takes to making lewd thrust gestures and sneering out thinly veiled double entendres and outright propositions that would have even the most seasoned of Madams blushing. I take great satisfaction in assisting the bench he has fouled with his mere proximity on it’s journey back into earth and he lands with a soft thud on the jail floor. His mouth agape, eyes wide the thrusting has stopped and I smirk as he goes from being a figurative pain in my behind to having an literal pain in his.

He did succeed in distracting me from our current predicament long enough for Justice to decide to let him out and re-arm him with an empty gun and a promise to not reload until we part. I am too bloody tired to argue at this point so I back off. I do manage to raise my spirits by imagining very very terrible things befalling his person.

During this exchange the now free and heeled man did reveal a letter that was clutched in the hand of a lady whose skeleton was one of a pair in the cell. The other was dressed like the sheriff as he appeared, though tailored for a much larger man. The letter indicates remorse from a Jeremy in protecting the town from a group of men on horseback. At this point it I realize the sheriff on the porch was the sheriff as he wished he would have acted, not part of his last moments. We hear a woman crying, softly at first and builds. The exclamation point at the end is provided by a gun shot. This solidifies the theory that the hole in her head was that of a bullet wound.

We head back out into the foggy streets and head across the street to the bank. It shows fire damage on the outside and inside the scene is quite grim. Bodies strewn, but mostly contained to an area.It seems likely it was most of the town population. It appears to be the work of bank robbers. Brother Silas and Joseph seem to start experiencing the ghost of the fire that converted the building from bank to mausoleum. They quickly exit leaving myself and one person I trust less than the crazy saber swinging brother alone in the bank. I am not too worried, while likely fatally foolish to underestimate anyone out here I am aware of him and have seen too many others make that mistake. I find two rather delightfully thick stacks of union currency. I fear I was too gluttonous in my joy at flipping through the rather large denomination bills… one after another… and another.. Grainger notices me sliding the last one into my dress. He wonders at his share and I stifle my indignation at his audacity long enough to give him credit for not just going to maiming and murder, as the rest seem set as hair triggers. I manage to un-clench my jaw long enough for a pleasant promise to get him some pocket money before we part ways. He seems appeased, I hope he forgets… or gets run off without the ability to collect on that promise.

Joseph and Clockwork soon enter and look very very silly in the manner in which they travel from door to middle of the lobby where I realize they are, due to the supernatural circumstances, believe they are entering a burning building to rescue me. Which is as noble and foolish a thing as anyone has ever done for me and I will not forget it. I did try to help by explaining that, much like the woman crying’s gun shot, this fire was a ghost and could not bother them if they stopped allowing it too. Sadly perspective on the matter was corrupted too much at this point and poor Joseph fainted! I am honestly too startled to act at first, only snapping to action as Grainger begins to drag Joseph from the building. I will say these actions, do show me that though I do not agree with the methods they all employ, we all do have common aims and fall close enough in ethos to count as allies in the American west.

The next closest building is actually the wood craftsman shop, however a church is spotted through the fog and I as well as Brother Silas agree that it would be the best spot to investigate next.

There isn’t much in the place but a baptism font. It is filled with holy water, which in this God-forsaken little town is quite a valuable commodity. There is enough to fill 4 canteens very neatly, however we spread out the supply so that each of us is armed with some. Brother Silas points out this is an excellent place to stay and suggests we call it a night and continue investigating in the morning. I will admit here it was quite a tempting idea, but from my experience issues involving the Occult are best handled promptly.

We head out with the church agreed upon as a rally point and enter the workshop. The mood, already quite disturbing, is further enhanced by the collection of coffins in the space each with one of our names pinned to it. Grainger attempts to cautiously open the one set aside for him and just knocks the thing to the ground. Having already imagined the man in all manner of grotesque and macabre ends I head over and open the lid before I am able to consider other ramifications of this and find the box empty. I know it will do little good, but it does make my skin crawl to have my name assigned to a coffin so I take my mine from the pin, fold it neatly and tuck it away.

Next on the ghoulish tour is the gallows. A rather dapper gentleman hangs from the noose. A sign around his neck reads “Your Mayor”. Someone cuts him down and in the interest of investigation the body is searched. It reveals a pocket watch inscribed to a downs beloved mayor from it’s appreciate townsfolk. It’s laid with his body and we turn our attention to the well.

I suggest we drop a light source to find the depth of the well, and Grainger adjusts my plan adding we have rope and could lower a lantern down. This happens rather quickly and we soon have lit well. It is quickly discovered that the body at the bottom is that of a dead miner. I am the last to head down the ladder and see the exploration has led past an adobe brick patched area. This is quite odd as mud bricks are hardly a suitable material for a well. Moving past is a spacious little room with a ceiling high enough to allow us all to stand upright. at the center is a large iron banded vessel. There are clothes strewn about, all scraps or clearly female pieces, as well as bones. There is also a depression over to one side. Clockwork works his cane under the vessel and lifts. It rises enough for a glimpse of a scraggly haired woman’s head to be revealed. At some point the words witch and curse have started to be used and my heart is busy sinking at the realization that this is exactly the situation. Poor Johnathan is startled enough to drop the thing, though I suppose it could just have been the items heft. It is lifted again and it is noted that the jaw bone is missing. The depression proves to be a grave site and we leave the tomb for the town cemetery. Back where we entered town, but the last spot to investigate.

As we are headed back a group of horses, spooked but catching their breath trot into view. Joseph goes to gather one so we may ascertain whom their rider’s may have been, our guess is that same group that the ghost of the man the sheriff wanted to be ran off. As we riffle through the bags not finding much to go on Joseph mentions it has the same markings as one of that posse. Grainger attempts to mount the thing, but it is too scared still.

We reach the cemetery and see a man digging in one of the graves. I sneak around his flank while the flat-footed Grainger accidentally draws the laborer’s attention. I move in close enough to read the headstone.. it’s my name. I really do not care for this notion of my demise and ask him why he is digging my grave. If he is startled he does not show it, even though I am positive I made no error in my approach. He replies that I am living so this grave could not possible be for me. I mention that this being my grave was merely a theory based upon the finding of a caskets with mine and my compatriots names pinned to them. He seems non pulsed by this and goes back to digging while he dismisses me. I try to keep the conversation going by continuing my questioning. As it registers with me that he is reaching for his gun a shot rings out as a chunk of his scalp fly’s from him. Some part of my brain registers his reaction as a bit subdued for the situation and this is bolstered by a new hole in his belly from another shot. I uncap my canteen as Brother Silas’ blade bites deep into flesh. I mumble something from scripture as I douse the man with the contents of the canteen. Another shot or two crack through the night and he falls, clearly drained of life. Though it appears this isn’t the first time his body has done that. The holy water has set his person to bubble in a reaction more suited to Johnathon’s chemistry than a human meeting with water. This creature isn’t just harrowed though, he is also the very same bank robber we have set out to catch.

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The last thoughts of Joseph Ramsey
Optimism went down with the sun and died with the coming of the weird west.

Ever feel like the world’s out ta git ya? Guess ya could say I ain’t feelin’ like we’re gunna leave here, so I’m writin’ this just in case.
Marty gathered his moxie sooner than we had speculated. He felt good ta take the girl back ta town before mid day and saddled up. I thought ta ride after the posse as they only had a couple hours lead on me and I’d be followin’ fresh tracks. I passed some dead on the way; injuns, looked ta be, hope they weren’t none of the 7 Feather tribes we just acquainted ourselves with.
Well, I caught up ta them quick. The full moon an’ stars came out givin’ us light ta ride well inta dusk, ‘fore a fog rolled in. Some kind o’ creepy, I felt, an’ as we stopped ta set camp against some rocks, Miss Blackstone and Mr. McMains thought ta seein’ roof tops just ahead.
Makin’ camp just out of town makes a person feel the fool in the morning, but hindsight bein’ what it is we might have been better off… I’m gittin’ ‘head of myself ‘gin.
Well, we gone and rode up into the small town, the sign comin’ in was blasted all ta hell an’ we couldn’t read the town’s name. We weren’t certain as ta what town may be out this way.
The first buildin’s was a stable house and the general store. Both were rundown, but we heard horses from the corral. They sounded a little spooked so me an’ Miss Blackstone moved ta take a look. Stumbling through the fog, I lost track of the pretty lady an’ found no horses in the corral. The weirdness of it still hasn’t been lost on me. The horse sounds came from no more than a couple feet from me, at one point, an’ Elisa’s voice seemed ta come from nowhere. The horse may have been a ghost of some sort, but the Elisa bit was just too offputtin’ ta explain.
I got back ta ma horse just as our lovely companion come out the front door of the buildin’. She was, surely, further away but clear ta ma eyes. Luggage in her hands musta come from the buildin’ an’ had medicine supplies in it. Looked like a doc packed up ta leave and didn’t.
Johnny, Elisa, and McMains headed into the general store lookin’ fer a person. I don’t know why they tried that buildin’, wit’ the doors fallin’ off and the injun statue freshly shined and lacquered, I s‘spect that any person livin’ there should be fixin’ those doors ‘nstead a polishin’ his wood. Things as they were, the negro, Mr. Jones and me stood guard watchin’ fer those things that people wanderin’ ‘bout in these territories ought ta be expectin’. The three found nothin’ inside an’ came out ta inspect the carving.
It was an injun wit’ a bow and quiver across his shoulders and a tomahawk in his right hand. Elisa was kneelin’ in front of it when it started movin’! The tomahawk raised clear above its head, poised ta mess up Elisa’s purdy head. Johnny’s first move don’t have much effect on the arm wit’ the ‘hawk, but McMains’ saber nearly removed the hand from the wrist. Johnny’s second hammer punch cleanly removes the entire arm –somethin’ ain’t right wit’ him… all gimpy but fast as lightnin’. Justice, sittin’ on his horse, next ta me, fires a couple times while the iron on my side reports three times, wit’ the last two removin’ the torso from the legs. I smiled as the gun twirled up ta my lips, my breath gave haste ta the lazy smoke ‘fore the warmed steel spun back home.
Sometimes I wonder what it’s like ta do somethin’ fer the last time… I didn’t, and don’t, got a good feelin’ about this town…
Only the saloon and whore house remained an’ the hope fer somethin’ ta wet our whistles drew us ta the darkened bar. The lovely Miss Blackstone remained outside wit’ me an’ the other three went in. Lights came up, shortly, invitin’ us in. Miss Blackstone was quick ta lay eyes on every bit of the place, but I slowed, offput agin, this time by oddities like women’s gloves layin’ on the piana like the lady playin’ just ceased bein’. Justice said somethin’ ‘bout the piana playin’ ‘self an’ I shrugged it off, but, wit’ the eerie hangin’ ‘round, we were expectin’ it. Johnny, Elisa, and McMains creeped up the half rotten stairs in the back ta lay eyes on the goin’s’ons but found nothin’. I found a shiny double barrel behind the bar, wit’ no ammo… shiny in this town means special. Hopefully, I’ll live long ‘nough ta use it.
Just when the trio come down the rickety stairs the gloves kicked ta life pouncin’ on the keys like two-a Johnny Wilks from back home… Johnny was born wit’ no fingers on his right hand, ‘fore the weird happened. We all hightailed it out, ‘cept the preacher who went an’ slashed the gloves ta bloody bits. That were the most awful thin’ I think I heard… might rather hear that widow’s voice houndin’ me, may the Lord’s perfect peace surround her, that she might not witness my downfall.
We figured the last place ta check fer our quarry is the house of ill repute. The lights musta been low enough ta not notice outside, ‘cause they were on, dim, when the door opened. The dimmed lanterns shown on the fine furniture, as I looked fer a piana. None found a few of us wandered upstairs fera look-see. McMains saw somethin’ in a mirror an’ told us, but when I looked I saw a woman in the mirror. She looked ta want ta tell me somethin’, maybe her price… When I got near enough she reached through an’ grabbed at me. My right hand found the comforting weight of my Peacemaker and the mirror shattered wit’ the roar of fire. I shot her square wit’ no ‘ffect as she sliced at me wit’ a knife. My pistol dropped ta the floor as I grabbed fer her hands in d’fense. Suddenly, Justice and Johnny were there, wrestlin’ my left hand behind my back an’ the apparition ended wit’ me wonderin’ where the woman went… Justice told me that I was tryin’ ta gut myself wit’ one hand and fightin’ back wit’ the other… guess I’m glad fer them grabbin’ the right arm or Johnny Wilks might be havin’ pity on me!
Takin’ care ta keep our eyes out the mirrors, we went about smashing ‘em all. A glance ‘bout our ranks and we left ta sleep under the stars. We walked the horses out the other side of town… only ta find a shot up sign welcomin’ us ta a town wit the name blasted out… F***.

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A stranger joins the posse

The posse encountered a man of God who was drawn to the fire they set in the night. He laid hands on Joseph; healing him of the prairie tick in his gullet. Having already expelled his own tick with the administration of a pint of castor oil, Marty refused any more aid for his swollen and raw throat; he just sat and suffered. The stranger told the posse that he was lookin’ for the same bank robber they were also after and come to find out its the same fella that most of the posse was chasin’ down before ending up in Shady Gulch.
Back on the trail, they encountered a group of peaceful Indians who, upon seeing the posse, broke out into traditional cries of greeting while riding towards them to engage in trade. The man of god ran a few down with a saber whilst the rest joined in to help finish what he started. Those Indians who weren’t dead soon would be; due to the blood lose and, as such, were left to run off and die.

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Little house on the prairie

With the prairie ticks dead or in ma belly, Miss Blackstone and I proceeded to pump the necrophile for information on his gang. His beating came short of what was due to ‘im, but he got understanding as to his options and directed us towards the hideout.

Now that bug I ate was makin’ a home in my guts and reminded us of my dire situation so we left the dead so as to not add to them.

We followed the trail till some time afternoon and crossed paths with what looked to be a circus. Seems a man by the name of Dr. Vandersmoot led his merry band of travelers selling his snake oil elixir and entertaining folks. He offered a free bottle of elixir if our able bodied posse would make camp with him. Having sworn that the elixir would cure the infestation in my belly, we stayed.

Seventeen days, he said it would take for the elixir to cure me of that bug. The thing seems to have settled down already so maybe it’ll work. I’d say that evening was uneventful, but I’d be lyin’. Let’s just say we didn’t have to shoot anything till morning.

Come morning, we found our prisoner impaired. We realized that the poor soul would soon get his getting’. He had a prairie tick that was full and comin’ out. He weren’t breathin’ and the tick seemed to be strugglin’ ta get out, and see’n that this was my fate, I tried to help. I tried to reach it’s legs in his throat to pull it out, but just couldn’t get a grip on the thing. I was the only one to try to help the man, the rest just stood by fondlin’ their irons. I was unable to help the man and the tick brust out his throat. The man’s blood and guts were soon joined by the bug’s as someone blasted it to hell from over my shoulder.

I fear I may not be long for this world… maybe the next will be better.

We broke camp, having purchased a number of bottles of that fine elixir from Dr. Vandersmoot, and headed on. Seems that, at some point, the thugs we were tailin’ broke formation and split paths to meet up later.

We were following the smaller of the two groups and were led to a small farm place. This place was eerie and wrong. See’n a it is only spring, the full and bountiful corn fields would have been odd if not for the smell of disease on them. The farm house looked like hell was knockin’ on the door last night but all was quiet, for now.

Mr. Clockwork thought to knock on the door as everyone else assessed the situation further but I
followed Johnny as backup. When Johnny topped the steps on the porch we heard a small voice say ta go away followed by the slightly larger voice of a shotgun blasting through the door. The shot clipped Johnny in his bad leg, which probably didn’t help that much, and I dragged him off to the side to get him out of harm’s way.

Miss Blackstone, again, showed a soothin’ side as she talked her way into the house and eased the tension in the small girl. The girl told us a story about her family planting the corn and spraying it with ghost rock to fertilize it err something and the next day it was fully grown. Her brother went into the corn after the dog and started screaming so her mother and father, God rest their souls, went in to save him, but never came out. Later, 5 men showed up, they beat this little girl and stole from the house but, again, were lured into the corn not to return. Finally, she said that something tried to get her in the house at night, but she kept it locked out.
We asked if she had any caster oil, as this is the only known remedy for the tick that Marty seems to be willin’ to admit havin’. The small jar of oil is only large enough for one person and I hand it to Marty, thinkin’ that maybe he’ll see this as a peace offerin’ for shootin’ his friend. He drinks it and he and I go outside when things get ugly. The rest have no mind to help this poor man either and stay inside. It doesn’t take long for the nasty thing to claw its way up his gullet and I assisted by pulling the thing’s legs as it forced its way out. I shot it when it was clear. I helped Marty into the house to rest as birthing that thing out of his mouth wore his strength to near nothin’.

We were worried that the door would be less effective at night with a shotgun blast through it so we started to make torches to burn the fields. More materials were needed so Johnny, Justice and I headed for the barn and left Miss Blackstone to comfort the little girl. Our materials found and torches built, we found that the only way to light these fields aflame was to walk along them as the sun set.

Of all the terrors of the night a scare crow, made even of straw, attacked me out of the corn. Johnny, as quick as I have ever seen a man, blocked the attack. Eliza saw the beast and recognized that it couldn’t be shot to death so Johnny and Justice beat it back into the corn field and set it ablaze. Eliza tossed an oil lantern on the creature, which exploded sending thick clouds of smoke into the air. We continued beating the monster with the torches until it ran to the house where we beat it to smoldering embers.

With the thing dead, we quickly set the fields on fire to kill off any other unnatural things that may be growing in it

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Posse

To my reckonin’ there’s only one kind o’ injun that hides behind a rock. That’s the kind that’s fixin’ to steal yer scalp. So when I saw a couple of’em hidin’ with their bows at the ready I was expectin’ some powerful trouble. So I took it upon myself to take some shots at’em hopin’ to scare’em off or send’em to whereever it is they go when they die. My first shot woulda hit that sneaky bastard in the guts if it weren’t fer that rock he hid behind, prolly right after he crawled out from under it. My second shot went wild. Turns out it was a good thing cuz these injuns was meanin’ to make friends. Well then what were they hidin’ behind the rocks fer? Stupid. Turns out we didn’t go unharmed though as Joseph got all jumpy and managed to shoot Wes right in the leg. If it weren’t fer Eliza doctorin’ him up I don’t think he’d a made it. As it is he’s heading back to town in the wagon while the rest of us head out fer the bandits. THese injuns told us they saw’em headin’ out and there was about 15 of’em. We got our work cut out fer us. The injuns gave us some feather tokens that’s supposed to make us faster or smarter or some such nonsense. But we took’em cuz theys supposed to make us friends of some other feather lovin’ injuns.

Not too far along we came across a bunch o’ settlers that had been all shot up an tortured. They were dead other than a couple of’em we found dying. We did the right thing by’em. We found a couple of the bandits and learnt they was the ones that did the dirty work here. But while we was figurin’ out what to do next we say somethin’ swarmin’ at us from the tall grass. Some sorta big super tics. They were pretty vicious and fast and I ain’t ashamed to admit I was pretty scurred there for a minute. We managed to shoot most of’em but Joseph got one down his gullet. Eliza says that this is powerful bad.

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April 15th 1877
The Posse

We ride out on the trail with Wes Cranston. As we head around a bend we encounter an Indian riding toward us at a trot. His hands are out and he has a stick in his hand laying up his forearm, looking fairly unassuming. Justice yells ambush and as Joe draws, his pistol goes off shooting Cranston in the leg. I am quite shocked at this violence from the group, though I suppose everyone is on edge given why we are in the woods. A brief flurry of out going gunfire while I yell to cease fire and get to Cranston. It is really bad, but it might be able to be saved. I tourniquet the wound and soon find Joseph at my side. He is going on about how he is “powerful sorry” about the whole thing. About this time Marty goes up and puts his gun barrel against the back of Joe’s neck. I buy some time by telling Marty it was an accident. I am trying to find a way to articulate my thoughts so he understands as Justice lays down a little macho logic.

See’s the Eagle takes us to his camp. He is of the 7 Feather Lakota tribe. His “medicine” tells him he would meet a strange war party. And that one of them would have an item of power, but he would not know how to make it work. Evil spirits (Manatius) have become strong and bold. Even Sitting Bull’s medicine cannot stop the spirits. They are searching for Manitus. There are two forces to be wary of in the plains, Crazy Horse and Cheyenne Dog Soldiers. He says the Dog Soldiers will treat us better if we mention we are Friends of the 7 Feather Lakota Tribe.

We head out in the morning. Before long we smell smoke. We come across the ruins of a wagon train. Branson Hicks gang. We agreed that I get Justice’s and my share for the Branson reward.

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Sunday April 15th (evening)

We done shot up some bank robbers as they were headin’ outta town. We got two and winged 2 o’ the others but three of them skinned out. Eliza yelled that a couple more were fixin’ to skin out down Pine so we headed over there. But we were two late and a couple more made off on horses. They got the sheriff in the guts but he looks like he’ll pull through. That no good scumbag of deputy got his wind knocked out, probably trippin’ over himself trying to get out of the way. The bad news is they got the Doc on the way outta town. He was shot in the chest and Eliza said he wasn’t gonna make it. Joe had the way o’ things and drew his pistol to finish the Doc off. It was the right thing to do. But I had to stop him cuz I reckoned the townsfolk wouldn’t want to see the Doc with a bullet in his head. May not be good for the sheriff after all. Eliza suggested to the mayoe that he deputize me right away. Looks like this is fixin’ to get interesting.

We set out of town with Wes, Marty, and Butch Cole, the hardware store owner. On the way out of town the Preacher was firebrandin’ to bring the Lord’s protection down on us. I stopped and told him I reckoned he built up enough in his ledger so he could get back to his gamblin’ and whore chasin’. Joeseph told the preacher we could use his guns if he wanted to climb up in the wagon. Preacher told us he was needed back in town to minister to his flock. I told him he could start with Chinatown, as usual.


My mind was taken abruptly away from my journal with the violent interruption of an explosion. I moved swift as a coyote down into the streets. I’m sure it was quite the sight as I have never attempted to run that quickly dressed in my Sunday best. I do think everyone was a bit too occupied to notice however, as a band of ruffians on Main Street were firing indiscriminately into the town’s buildings and by extension townsfolk. I slipped into the shadows and quietly moved with purpose to the bank where the explosion clearly originated from. Upon approaching the bank I noticed Deputy Oldman was lain out in the street. I broke from cover to tend to the man, this was a relatively safe action as the gang was moving down Main Street away from us. I quickly surmised that the Deputy had not been shot, but was likely suffering the ill effects of standing a touch too close to a rather large explosion. He is a man of dubious moral character, but I have no way of telling if he was a victim of happenstance or the victim of a plan that got messy. Perhaps even outlaws have a distaste for slimy little worms that try to play both sides…

At any rate he was as useful as ever. lying there in the street gasping for air like a fish in a desert. I advised him to lift his arms above his head and concentrate on breathing. I had trouble with the first and I don’t think he could do much but mind his inhaling and exhaling, but it was all I could do to help. I hurled a curse into the gaggle of bandits. It felt like a solid hit, but in the dark and chaos I am not sure how much good it did. As the gang headed down I noticed not all the gunshots were originating from the direction of the group on Main Street. I shouted loud as I could that more of the band was raising hell on Pine Street. This was a little too late however as they where already down the road where it meets up with Main Street on the way out of town.

In the aftermath I hear The Widow Tanning screaming about the Doc being injured. I rush over to render aid. Satisfied she has done her best Elizabeth goes to check on her father. Sadly the Doc has a sucking chest wound and there is nothing to do for the poor soul but send him quicker to Jesus to save him pain. I try to help him let slip his mortal coil, but I prove inefficient and about as much good as the cowards bullet seems to be at the task. Luckily Justice was there to dispense a little mercy as well.

It’s at this time I head back to the bank to see the extent of the damage. I am drawn away yet again by Elizabeth’s cries for help, this time it’s her father the Sheriff. He has a gut shot, it’s bad. He is putting on quit the brave face, and I admit it pushes my buttons a bit to see a father going through so much to protect his daughter. I manage to find a away to send her away satisfied that her father will be fine. I am not so sure. It looks like the shot went clean through, which is good. However it also looks to be far past my skills on the matter of medicine, and the only Doc I know of for miles and miles happened to pass away recently.

While my mind is racing I am dimly aware of the Mayor attempting to… mayor. It goes poorly. I call him and take him aside. I suggest he deputize Mr. Jones as the man in line is hardly a proper law man. I didn’t work it out with the Sherrif, but I figured he would back Justice. What I failed to account for was the man’s foolish machismo. He is polite in regards to my idea, but steadfastly and resolutely declares he needs a posse to ride with him. This is absurd. The list of reasons why he shouldn’t go is numerous. Sadly the reasons are weighted too heavy in his mind for common sense to prevail. It is the folly of men. I tried my best reminding him poor Elizabeth surly cannot take the loss of her father while still mourning her beloved husband. Luckily Justice mentions his work will be for not if he parishes on the trail. Though he may have worded it in a slightly different tone and not just the baritone.

The Sheriff is bravely making a speech to the townsfolk. When another thought strikes me like a slap when he keeps asking for horses. What of Ms. Brillo at the livery? Justice must have the idea too as we both take off for the livery. He out paces me a bit but we arrive around the same time to find she is hogtied and what seems to be embarrassed that she was jumped. I do say I quite admire the woman. The good news is that Ms. Brillo is okay, however there are no horses for her to supply. Understandably she is worried about her lively hood. I assure her a posse from the town is forming and we will chase those hooligans to the ends of the Earth lest the criminal population of the area think Shady Gulch is a victim.

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