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.