The Story So Far.   Posted by The Stray.Group: 0
The Stray
 GM, 137 posts
 The Marshal
 'round these parts
Wed 30 Jun 2010
at 21:18
The Story So Far
Something is rotten in Blackthorn.

April 9th, 1879. The small coastal town of Blackthorn, Texas, fifty miles from everywhere, has problems. The mine which used to be the town's lifeblood shut down unexpectedly a few years back, taking the local economy with it. If it weren't for Dr. Dexter Ward, a local cattle baron, Blackthorn would be a ghost town. The people hang on, catering to the baron's ranch hands, but Dr. Ward's boys are a rowdy and vicious bunch, practically a private army. Still, the town struggles through.

But things've gotten worse recently. Strange lights have been seen in the sky. The local preacher was run out of town by Dr. Ward's boys. The local circuit judge never showed up when he was last due.

And that ain't the worst of it. Last night, a trio of plague-infected Yankee soldiers were found on the outskirts of town. The plague had killed 'em, but that didn't stop them from gettin' up again and hollerin' about Armageddon through the town square.

The local Marshal is swamped, and has been told from on high NOT to look into these things. But bein' an ornery sort, he's decided to look into it anyway, and is handpicking a band of drifters to form a posse to get to the bottom of the rot in Blackthorn.

That's YOU. Good luck, hombres. Yer gonna need it.

This message was last edited by the GM at 03:55, Sat 10 July 2010.

The Stray
 GM, 168 posts
 The Marshal
 'round these parts
Thu 15 Jul 2010
at 14:20
The Story So Far: In The Storm's Eye
April 8th, 1879. A ranch south of Blackthorn.

The Dust Addders rode. They passed the barbed-wire fence, through the gate proclaiming the area as "The Circle W." They rode on to the two story mansion at the ranch's heart, past the occasional cluster of grazing cattle, who were oblivious to the rain and the lightning of the storm.

Their leader, Nathaniel Frost, grunted in pain and rubbed his wounded leg. That Indian would pay, oh yes. But he had more important news. News the boss had to know right away.

Gus helped him off the horse and the pair hobbled into the mansion. "Doc! Got a wounded man here!" Gus hollered as they passed the threshold. Then they waited. Nathaniel stretched his leg out on a bench in the foyer.

The master of the manner entered, a severe look on his thin, weathered face.

"You are earlier than expected. Did you find them?"

"Doc..." Nathaniel grunted. "Got a wound here. Could you look to it?"

"Answer me first, Nathaniel. Where are those men?"

"They made it to the trails. We found one what look like he'd expired from the Fever face down and cold, and by the way them others were just barely hanging on, I can't think they'd have gotten much further."

"You think?" The man's voice is cold and angry. "You didn't find them and make sure?"

"We ran into trouble. A pack o' them injuns were poking about the body. There were a dozen of 'em, at least, but we chased 'em off. One o' them took a swing at my leg. Now can you get to work, please? It hurts like the dickens!"

"Nathanial, I had such a simple task for you, imminently suited to your talents and predilections. Bring them back, alive or dead. And yet you've failed at this, the most simple of the things I've asked you. Perhaps I should just let your wound be, as a reminder of your failure."

Nathaniel's face pales. " don't mean that, do you Doc? Aren't you bound by the Hippocratic oath to help folk?"

"I would be helping you. I'd be helping you become a better person by allowing you to experience the price of incompetence."

"That weren't all, doc." Gus interjects. "While we were hassling the injuns, the corpse got back to it's feet. It tried to take a bite out of Billy Bob. We filled it full o' bullets, but it didn't go down until Nate here chopped off it's head. That's what we came to tell you about."

The man raises an eyebrow. "That seemed strange to you? With the remarkable recuperative powers you and your brother possess?"

"This was different! The man was stone dead! Fucking demised! Passed on! The soldier was no more! He had ceased to be! Expired and gone to meet his maker! A stiff! Bereft of life, he rested in peace! Kicked the bucket, shuffled off the mortal coil, joined the goddamned choir invisible! HE WAS AN EX-PERSON!"

"I see." The man considers. "This interesting development. And rather disturbing. Very well. I will look into this. Prepare my carriage. We shall be returning to the spot you fought this...walking dead man. I'll see what I can determine."

He starts heading back into the house.

"Doc! Wait! My leg!" Nathaniel whined.

The man stops. "Indeed. Very well. Let me fetch my equipment." He vanishes into the house, then returns with a small black bag. He rolls up Nathaniel's trouser leg and examines the wound, then brings out a bottle of rubbing alcohol, a needle, and catgut string.

"Hold still." he says. "This may hurt a bit."

Then he begins to stitch.

This message was last edited by the GM at 04:39, Thu 22 July 2010.

The Stray
 GM, 169 posts
 The Marshal
 'round these parts
Thu 15 Jul 2010
at 14:21
The Story So Far: The Storm Begins
April 8th. Night. Blackthorn. South Texas, CSA

"On a gathering storm comes
a tall handsome man
In a dusty black coat with
a red right hand"
--Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, "Red Right Hand"

Silas Underhill sat down, set his hammer aside, and pulled the bottle of laudanum from his desk. His work was done for now...the body was snugly tucked away in it's eternal home, and all that was left was the burial, which could wait until morning, after the dandy had actually paid him for his labors.

He took a swig from the bottle. Good stuff for what ails a body, he reflected. He used to travel from town to town, selling bottles of this stuff sweetened with honey and mint, touting it as a wonderful miracle cure. "Dr. Marner's Marvelous Medicine." he chuckled at the memory, and the irony of his situation. For the last three years he'd been in the town of Blackthorn planting bodies in the ground instead of selling them panaceas to keep them out of it. Sure, he'd needed to learn carpentry fast, but at least now his customers didn't complain about his wares.

Or so he had thought.

Until the banging came from the coffin he'd just finished nailing shut.

Underhill started at the noise, as would any sane man in his circumstances. He almost spilled his medicine all over himself in shock. The clatter continued.

What in perdition was going on? You heard about live burials, sure, but Underhill had learned to make discreet cuts in his charges to avert that little problem, should a body prove less dead than advertised. This man hadn't bleed...he'd just oozed. No way he could still be alive!

Whatever was in the box, though, didn't seem to appreciate the impossibility of it's motions, and continued to bang at the pine lid. Underhill heard the wood begin to crack under the pounding, and decided it would be a good idea to fish the Derringer out of his desk, move near the door, and wait for this nightmare to stop. Yes, this was surely just a delirious dream brought on by the laudanum, nothing more.

The coffin lid warped as it began to buckle under the pounding. Splinters flew as the coffin shattered, and the curious body began to struggle upwards.

It wasn't long dead, only a few hours if the man who'd brought it in was to be believed, and had been dressed in the uniform of a Union soldier. And now it was turning towards him, glaring at him with eerie red-glowing eyes. It began to speak, a horrible whisper passing grave air through rotting lips.

"...Mine eyes have seen the gloy of the coming of the Lord...I didn't find it glorious, in fact I was quite bored...we killed the Lamb of God and splashed it's blood across the wall...because Jesus hates us all..."

Underhill did what any right-thinking man would do when confronted by such a blasphemous mockery of all that was good and holy. He pissed his pants, dropped his gun, and ran into the street, shrieking like a little girl.

This message was last edited by the GM at 14:24, Thu 15 July 2010.

The Stray
 GM, 170 posts
 The Marshal
 'round these parts
Thu 15 Jul 2010
at 14:22
The Story So Far: Morning in Blackthorn
April 9th, 1879. The stables outside the Grand Bull Saloon

The old man grunted as an errant shaft of light leaking through a knothole in the wall finally moved into his eyes.

"Consarn it." he mumbled as he turned over on his bed of hay. This only exposed the bald spot on the top of his head to the warm sunlight, warming it alarmingly. So it was with great reluctance that the old man rose and stumbled over to the bucket he kept for certain functions. "Too damn early to be so sunny." he muttered as he relieved himself.

He turned around and regarded the stall he'd appropriated as a home. He scratched his beard in disapproval...his hay was still damp from the leaks in the roof and the wall. The horses around him didn't seem too happy, either. Their whinnies had disturbed his slumber more than once.

Well, it wouldn't be like this forever. No, not since the discovery he'd made. Soon he'd be sleeping on feather beds and pissing in one of those automated water closets. And dining on something a damn sight better than cold bacon and whiskey.

He fingered the lump of coal he kept tucked away in a pocket just above his heart.

Yes, indeed. Soon, he'd have all that he'd ever been denied by those bastards at the Wendell Mining Company. Soon. But he had to go dig his find out of the ground first, so he hefted his pick, strapped his pack on, and began to make his way out of the stables into the bright morning.

Meanwhile, in the Grand Bull Saloon, dawn had found several others...

This message was last edited by the GM at 14:25, Thu 15 July 2010.

The Stray
 GM, 171 posts
 The Marshal
 'round these parts
Thu 15 Jul 2010
at 14:23
The Story So Far: An Afternoon in Blackthorn
April 9th, 1879. The Mayor's Office.

Mayor Bruebaker brooded, his head haloed by cigar smoke. He tapped his fingers on his desk as foul thoughts chugged through his mind. Things were not going according to plan.

There was a discreet knock on his door. It opened, and his secretary poked her head in.

"I am sorry to disturb you, sir. Doctor Ward has arrived."

"Good. Send him in at once."

"Yes, sir."

A well-dressed southern gentleman entered, closed the door behind him, and took a seat.

"Ah. Dr. Ward. Good of you to come." The mayor snorted. "How is the day treating you?"

"I would prefer to skip the pleasantries, Glenn." the man replied. "There is something on your mind, and I believe we both know the reason for my visit today."

"Indeed. You've heard of last night's incident, I take it. And then the disturbance this morning involving the Automaton. I cannot help but assume they are related to certain matters of our interest."

"I have been informed in a general way. A raving madman took to the streets, and then collapsed and died of consumption in the Marshal's jail. And then a strange rogue automaton took it into its head to bury the corpse in the town square, supposedly to keep out demons."

"Have you heard any of the...other rumors?"

"I don't put stock in outlandish things, Glenn. Any wild rumors should be...discouraged."

"Oh, I agree completely. Such rumors are only going to get the attention of The Rangers. And the very last thing we need are Rangers poking their noses into our affairs."

The man in the suit sighed. "If you would be plain about you point, Glenn?"

"The automaton is a problem. A very serious one. I can disregard the rumors of the walking dead, but someone might put two and two together if the thing keeps spouting off nonsense about angels and demons."

The man's face flickered slightly. "Angels? Whatever did it say regarding angels?"

"Only that it believes it is one. The point is, it needs to be...encouraged to move on. Or perhaps dismantled as a threat to public safety. If I may make a suggestion, your workers might be helpful in this regard. They've done remarkable work in the past."

"No, Glenn." The doctor shakes his head. "You do not get to suggest how I conduct my affairs. We've discussed this before. If you are to benefit from this arrangement you must continue to refrain from meddling. Do not worry. I will inspect this matter personally, and deal with it accordingly. But the drive is only a few weeks away, and I have so very much to do before then. So if you will excuse me, I have matters to attend to, and I hope you will be satisfied with my assurances that I will be taking action on this."

"I suppose I will have to be. Very well. Will I see you tonight at the show?"

"Indeed. Give my greetings to your wife."

"I shall. Good day to you, Dr. Ward."

"Good day, Mayor."

The man stood, straitened his suit, and left. The Mayor returned to his cigar smoke and brooding thoughts.

This message was last edited by the GM at 04:30, Thu 22 July 2010.

The Stray
 GM, 207 posts
 The Marshal
 'round these parts
Thu 22 Jul 2010
at 04:27
Re: The Story So Far: An Afternoon in Blackthorn
April 9th, 1879. Blackthorn, South Texas

The call for a doctor is taken up, and travels from person to person through the streets of Blackthorn, until it reaches Town Hall, where a well dressed gentleman has just settled into a carriage.

He listens to the cry, then pulls out a small flask and an equally small silver dish. "Hold for a moment, driver." He says, then pours a measured amount of water from the flask into dish, then dangles a small silver pendant over it. Images flash across the surface of the water - faces, images, still frames of events recently passed. He nods. "Yes..." he murmurs to himself. "I see. This is most certainly something I should concern myself with."

With a flick, he empties the silver dish into the street, then pockets both dish and pendant. "Driver! Take me to the Marshal's office. It seems my services are needed."

The driver switches the horse, and the carriage rolls off, speeding towards its destiny.

This message was last edited by the GM at 04:28, Thu 22 July 2010.

The Stray
 GM, 238 posts
 The Marshal
 'round these parts
Tue 3 Aug 2010
at 04:51
The Story So Far: On Science and Supernature
Attempting to hide his discomfort behind humor, Augustus laughs a little at the mention of Dr. Evans, "My goodness, this must be a dangerous place.  So many doctors..."  But, his curiosity is piqued, "As for the machine, it truly believes it is some sort of Heavenly messenger?  But how is that even possible?  Its is a machine, it can't really believe anything.  It can only act out its preset functions."

"Evans may be a doctor, but he's by no means a medical doctor." Ward says with a scowl. "No matter what he may try to sell you."

"Regarding our friend Alouette, well...that I might be able to explain, if you'll indulge me. How familiar are you with aetheric theory?"

"Aetheric theory?" muses Augustus, making a few more notes in his book, "I know little to be honest.  I did want to attend Cauchy's lecture on the subject but  detained on other business.  Please, do elaborate?"

"Well, in brief, the aether is an insubstantial solid material. It surrounds and permeates everything, invisible to the naked eye. It allows for the transmission of electromagnetic waves in such a way that they do not interact with normal matter or energy. There is a great deal of energy in the aether, and there are things that exist within it that modern science is only able to glimpse." He pauses for a moment to catch his breath. It's obvious this is a subject he has a great deal of interest in.

"Now, the idea of a medium which exists outside of the normal observable universe is nothing new. The idea of aether dates back to the classical writings of Aristotle and beyond. What's more, every culture on earth has an idea of a realm that exists outside the normal bounds of reality, usually the plane where their gods dwell, and that the spirits of man go when they cease their mortal existence."

"In the last fifteen years certain men of science have postulated the existence of entities within the aether, composed of the substance, invisible and undetectable to humans senses under normal conditions, though certain conditions might render them manifest. It is thought that these creatures may have given rise to legends about such things as ghosts, faeries, angels, demons, and other such ephemera by those who encountered them, but did not understand their true nature."

"Now, there are engineers who are attempting to use the Aether as a medium for the conduction and capture of energy. A gentleman named Tesla comes to mind. Similarly, it may be possible to capture these aetheric entities, which, having will and thought of their own, might be put to uses that benefit all mankind, beyond the technological limits induced by preset conditions and reactions. For instance, automatons that react and interact with their surroundings in the manner of living beings."

He pauses in order for this information to sink in.

Augustus readily listens to the good doctors explanations.  His face betrays his mixed feelings regarding all this; curiosity certainly, scientific interest in most of it definitely, and unashamed disbelief in all nonsense regarding ghosts and faeries. After jotting a few notes, he returns, "I believe I follow you regarding the conduction of waves within the aether, even the energy it may contain.  It touches quite a bit on my own work with acoustics and I would be excited to compare notes and ideas on these things.  Very interesting."  Then he pauses, lifting a bemused brow, "But really... Ghosts?  Faeries?  You're trying to say that this automaton has some form of energetic "soul"?  I find that a touch hard to swallow I'm afraid."

"Oh, I understand your skepticism." Ward says in reply. "It can seem quite fantastic at first to ascribe such qualities to a creature of metal and steam."

"But consider this -- we live in an era of advancements and miracles. Things long held impossible are commonplace. Imagine if, one hundred years ago, someone told you that messages could be transmitted across the country in the blink of an eye, that carriages could be drawn on their own power, that images could be captured and frozen on paper, and that man could fly through the air? What would you think of them then? And yet today the telegraph, the steam carriage, the locomotive, the camera, and the ornithopter do all these things. Dragons were thought fancy, until the bones of those terrible lizards were dug up and put on display as what we now call dinosaurs. Ten years ago, sea serpents were the stuff of legends until specimens were discovered in The Maze of California."

"With all that we have discovered and uncovered, is the idea of entities composed of air and energy, which may have been mistaken for ghosts, demons, or fairies by those who did not understand their true nature, really so farfetched? To paraphrase the Bard, there are more things in heaven and earth, Mr. Spotswood, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

"Of course, far be it for me to ask you to accept such a supposition on blind faith. We are both men of science, and science demands tests, observable results, and repeatable experiments. I would like, if I may, to ask your further indulgence and perform a demonstration for you of the existence of these aetheric entities, once I have finished my examination of you and this poor boy here." He looks at Alouette and Charging Bear. "The pair of you are also invited, if you wish to attend."

This message was last edited by the GM at 04:52, Tue 03 Aug 2010.

The Stray
 GM, 245 posts
 The Marshal
 'round these parts
Wed 4 Aug 2010
at 04:36
The Story So Far: A Seance at The Circle W Ranch
Sunset, April 9th, 1879. The Circle W Ranch, just outside Blackthorn, Texas.

Musical selection: "Carillon," Ennio Morricone, "For A Few Dollars More"

The coach drivers on in silence for a while. The sun begins to dip below the horizon, painting the clouds orange against a dark blue sky.

There's a chill in the air as the shadows lengthen. It isn't caused by any breeze, or the dying end of the day. It's the sort of chill that settles into the spine. Weeds stretch up like grasping claws, and the grass rustles as if something's hiding within.

The house towards which the carriage travels is a Queen Anne-style mansion, painted a dark blue that seems almost black in the waning light. Several other structures, including a corral and a barn, loom in the shadows.

"Well. Here we are. My home." Ward says to the gathered scientist, Indian, and automaton. "You may enter and make yourselves comfortable in the sitting room while I secure the carriage and carry this poor gentleman to a room. You may ask my servant Abraham for refreshment, if you like. I will return shortly."

With that, he opens the carriage door to allow Augustus, Charging Bear, and Alouette to step out...

This message was last edited by the GM at 04:38, Wed 04 Aug 2010.

The Stray
 GM, 246 posts
 The Marshal
 'round these parts
Wed 4 Aug 2010
at 04:37
The Story So Far: The Dust Adders Ride
"Riders on the storm, riders on the storm
Into this house we're born, into this world we're thrown
Like a dog without a bone, an actor out on loan
Riders on the storm"
--"Riders on The Storm," The Doors

Sunset, April 9th, 1879.

Nathanial Frost could barely believe his ears.

"A deputy!?" He shouted at Luke, who cringed in the face of the Cajun's wrath. "Since when does that tinhorn marshal have the power to swear in deputies!?"

"I don't know, Nate! But that's what he said! Him and the Injun what knocked out Bill!"

Nathanial swore. Things were not going according to plan. First the escape of the Bluebellies, then the Indian on the road (now calling himself a deputy!) and then the tinhorn chasing him out of the Grand Bull...and now this.

"No. Ah ain't gonna accept this. We done too much work gettin' the run o' town to let some asshole with delusion of authority tear us down now." He turned to Luke. "Gather up some of the boys. Grab that box o' dynamite we got stashed. And git us a wagon for Tex. We're goin' to town tonight, to teach Evans and his deputies who's really in charge o' this town."

"You think this is a good idea, Nate?" Gus spoke up from the side. "Ward will be spittin' mad when he hears about this."

"That's why you ain't commin', Gus. You're to make sure he don't find out 'till we gone done what we need to do." Nathanial replied. "Trust me. Ah guarantee, he'll thank us when we've lanced that boil, even if he do get mad at first. We're doin' him a favor."  He buckles his gun belt, then takes a small silver charm and pockets it before jumping up on his horse.

He joined up with the rest of the boys and the covered wagon, then led them out on the trail.

Evans would regret crossing the Dust Adders. And any who sided with him would have hell and fury visited on their heads tonight.

Meanwhile, back at the Grand Bull...
The Stray
 GM, 370 posts
 The Marshal
 'round these parts
Thu 26 Aug 2010
at 05:32
The Story So Far: His soul goes marching on!
Evening, April 9th, 1879, The Circle W Ranch

John Brown's body lies a-moulderin' in the grave...

It was the injustice of it that cause him to accept.

John Brown had been to war. He'd stared the elephant in the eye more than once, and never flinched. He'd shown those Rebel fuckers what for, beaten them black and blue...until his beloved Missouri fell to the Confederacy. But still he kept on fighting, in the trenches and in small units, bushwhacking the Rebs whenever the chance arose. He had been a good soldier.

John Brown's body lies a-moulderin' in the grave...

So when the ceasefire came, and Missouri remained in Reb hands, it was a blow to him and the rest of his unit. They were rounded up and then deported. He heard others say how lucky they were they hadn't been summarily shot, but inside he had burned. Oh, how he had burned! Better to go down fightin' than surrender. Better to die than be beaten.

It was then that Sergent Billy had come up with a plan...

John Brown's body lies a-moulderin' in the grave...

But it all went south. Way south. They'd gotten caught, stuck in a shed, forced to mine Ghost Rock at gunpoint, and then Danny Boy had gotten sick...and soon they all were coughing their guts out. Too weak to fight back. Too weak to resist.

There was one spot of hope. Danny had the idea of a revolt. The others weren't very eager, especially Jerry, what with his broken ankle and all. But John had known that it was now or never, so he helped convince the rest of the boys that this was their hour of glory.

They'd overpowered the guard, and had made it to the creek when Warren fell and wouldn't get up again. They agreed to split up, to increase the chances of at least one of them making it to civilization.

But that one wasn't John. With a final rattling cough he'd fallen, and his final sight was the sun setting over the gulch. Not from a wound, not from battle, but from some varmint what couldn't be seen without a microscope!

It was so unjust!

His soul goes marching on!

For some soldiers, the war would never be over.

When he felt the fires of Hell nipping at him, he was ready to fight the devil himself. That must have impressed someone downstairs, because he was offered a choice...burn in the fire for all eternity, with the knowledge that the Rebs had won to keep him company, or join up with the Black Regiment, and make sure the war wasn't over so quickly, and that the Rebs would never be secure in their victory.

It was an easy choice.

He awoke where he'd fallen, several miles from nowhere. The coyotes had time to pick out the choicest bits, and had chewed off his face, but that didn't matter. His Union Blues were stained black, but that didn't matter. All that mattered was that he was back from beyond, with a gun in his hand and a saber at his side. And he would make the Rebs pay for everything they'd done to him and his.

He'd traveled by night to the barn, and picked a spot to hide in and wait for the right opportunity.

And now, with the sounds of gunfire and shouting, well, it was as good as a bugle call.

The private made a skeletal grin, his hour come round at last, and slouched though the shadows of the barn towards his rebirth.

"Glory, glory, hallelujah!"

This message was last edited by the GM at 05:36, Thu 26 Aug 2010.

The Stray
 GM, 396 posts
 The Marshal
 'round these parts
Fri 3 Sep 2010
at 05:27
The Story So Far: Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch...
Nathanial Frost lay across Ward's pool table as the Doctor worked. "Did you get the bullet?" He asked nervously.

"Well this is curious." Ward muttered as he eyed the piece of stone he pulled from the gunman's back. "Yes, curious indeed. Hold for a moment."

He leaves Nathanial gripping the table in pain, and pulls the silver platter and flask of distilled water from his bag. He places the platter on a chess board, measures a small amount of water into it. He pulls his silver charm from his waistcoat and waves it over the water once it stills. He watches images flickering across the water.

The room grow deathly quiet.

"Doc? What's up, Doc?" Nathanial says after a few minutes, more to break the silence than get a reply.

"You utter fool." Ward says in an icily even voice. "You incompetent halfwit. Was there something wrong with your hearing when I told you to leave Evans alone for the time being? Did you perhaps mishear when I said he was not to be harassed unless he made trouble?"

"But...he was...he's hired deputies...they attacked some of the boys..."

"Silence." Ward says, still in ice-cold monotone. "You have just gone an undone months of hard work, planning, and preparations. Perhaps years. You've created for me an enemy who could have been a very useful ally, and now I will have to clean up your mess once again. I should turn you over to him, and let him deal with you."

"You can't do that. The boy's'd revolt." Nathanial says, pulling himself into a defensive position. "And there would be Hell to pay if you did turn me over. I know things. Things you wouldn't want nobody to know."

"Are you saying I would be better off if you were dead?" Ward responds evenly. "Is that what you are trying to convince me of, Nathanial?"

The gunman's eyes widen. " that's not what I..."

"Oh, I know what you want me to do. Pat you on the back, tell you what a good boy you are. Tell you you did the right thing. But you haven't. You have put me in an untenable position, and caused me a significant setback, and for that you will make amends." He moves towards the table, holding the silver medallion in the palm of his hand as if to touch it to Nathanial's flesh. The gunman tries to scramble away, but Ward is faster than the wounded man. Ward yanks Nathanial's head back and presses the medallion to his forehead, and then intones an incantation. "In nomenii ophidius, iacio in vos a morbus animus. Vos mos intereo in agon."

Nathanial screams as smoke rises from the medallion. When Ward removes his hand, a sigil glows briefly before fading from sight.

The gunman curls into a ball and whimpers.

"Nathanial Frost, you will be dead within a week unless you find a way to unmake this mess you've created." Ward says, returning his talisman to his coat pocket. "Get out of my sight before I have Abraham drag you out behind the woodshed and give you a whipping as well."

Nathanial pulls himself to his feet and slinks out the back door, fleeing into the night.
The Stray
 GM, 423 posts
 The Marshal
 'round these parts
Thu 9 Sep 2010
at 18:20
The Story So Far: Body of Evidence
Night, April 9th, 1879. At the Old Church

Some mood music

Father O'Rourke stood, finally finished. It had taken him all afternoon, and much of the evening, to get the place in order, but now the old church was finally cleaned, and looked like a place or worship again.

The door creaked open, and O'Rourke felt his hand slipping to his gunbelt out of instinct. He hated the instinct, but the last father here had vanished under mysterious circumstances, and he had no desire to have the same happen to him.

There was a man in dusty clothes, with long hair and a slight overbite. O'Rourke recognized him...he'd been with that Nathanial Frost figure at the Grand Bull this morning, making threats.

O'Rourke was on his guard, but something about the man's demeanor sugeested that he wasn't looking to make trouble.

"Yes, my child? How may I help you?" he asked, guardedly.

"Father, forgive me, for I have sinned." The man said, taking off his hat as he took a few tentative steps into the church. "And I am in need of confession."

O'Rourke nodded. "Come this was, son."

He led the man to a makeshift confessional, and took his place.

"Again, forgive me, Father, for I have sinned." The man began, "Quite a lot. And it never really bothered me before, you know? But today I saw what was waiting for me. Today I almost died, and I felt myself slipping down into the fires of Hell. I swear, I could feel them licking at my boots when all of a sudden something swept down from above and carried me away. It was like an angel...and then I awoke, and I realized that I had better square myself with Jesus, or the next time I fall, there won't be no one there to catch me."

O'Rourke frowned. Angel? That sounded an awful lot like the clank..."Please, continue." He said, reserving judgment.

"Well, you see, it's like this..."

Night, April 9th, 1879. Outside the Oriental Theater

Some mood music

Luke crawled. It hurt to move...the bastard had plugged him good. Not good enough to kill least not yet. But he didn't much like his chances without a doctor.

"Bastard. I'll get him for this." He muttered to himself as he hid under the boardwalk. When things quieted down, he crawled again. This time he tried to make it towards the back door of the theater.

There was supposed to be a show tonight, he remembered. Maybe the production was still around...maybe they'd be willing to help him.

He knocked on the door.

"I told you...our production is canceled! Didn't you hear me before?" Come a gruff voice from behind the door. "Go away!"

"Please...I've been hit...please help me..." Luke pleaded.

"Horace," came a soft, velvet voice. "Don't be rude. Open the door."

"Yes ma'am." came a grudging reply, and a lock clicked.

The door cracked open. Luke peered inside, but all he could see was darkness.

"Oh, look at you. You poor thing." Came the soft voice again. It slipped into his ears and crept down his spine, raising the hairs on his skin. He shivered in delight. "Look at all that...blood."

"Please, ma'am...I done been shot...please help me."

"Of course. Of course I will." The voice said. He could see a figure, long and slender, and he knew it went with the voice. "Horace, please assist the gentleman inside."

A pair of rough hands grabbed Luke's wrists. He was pulled into the darkness beyond the threshold.

The door closed. A lock clicked.

There was a brief scream.

And then all was silence.

Morning, April 10th, 1879. Victoria, Texas

Jericho Cantrell stepped off the train platform, used the restroom, had a quick meal at a dingy saloon, then made his way to the stagecoach station.

He stepped up to the counter.

"Well, hello there, my fine Negro friend! What can i do for you today?" the ticket taker asked Jericho. The large man resisted the urge to punch the man for the comment.

Instead, he just stated his business. "When is the next stage for Blackthorn?" he asked in a deep baritone.

"Blackthorn?" the ticket taker asked, surprised. "Didn't think we were still running stages to Blackthorn. Hold on and let me check."

The ticket taker vanished, and Jericho learned against the wall. While he waited, he pulled out a few of the posters he kept in a satchel under his arm, studying the sketches there, committing them to memory once more. He also reviewed the telegram he'd received yesterday. Yup. Blackthorn. He'd never heard of the place, and not a lot of other folks had, either. But it was worth a look, if this tip-off was anything to go by.

"Ah! Here we are sir! You're in luck, the next stage leaves in 20 minutes. Should be there by late afternoon or early evening. How many tickets you want?"

"Just one, please." Jericho rumbled.

He bought his ticket.

He wasn't the only one.

This message was last edited by the GM at 08:55, Mon 13 Sept 2010.

The Stray
 GM, 432 posts
 The Marshal
 'round these parts
Mon 13 Sep 2010
at 08:54
The Story So Far: The Proposition
Night, April 9th, 1879. Ward's Barn

Some mood music

Nathanial Frost could feel the curse inside him. It churned inside his guts, and though he coughed until he bled, he still couldn't dislodge it.

Damn Ward. Damn him to Hell for this.

The curse was consuming him, and Nathanial knew it. He'd seen what Ward's curses could do, and he had no illusions that he would, indeed, be dead within a week. He doubted he would last even that long.

He wouldn't go without a fight, though.

He crawled into the barn. He'd seen Ward calling his spirits here...well, he intended to summon one of his own.

Gus had told him the story of how Tex had come to be the way he was. Nathanial had learned well. He could call the same spirit that had granted Tex his incredible powers. All Nathanial had to do was make a deal...he wasn't using his soul anyhow.

Nathanial knelt at the circle etched into a giant marble slab in the center of the barn. He pulled his bowie knife, and tried to remember how Gus said he'd called the thing before.

The barn had a large brass firebowl tucked away in the corner. Nathanial struggled to move the damn heavy thing into position, then filled the bottom with coal. He also added some kerosene, some hay, and a few small chunks of Ghost Rock. He struck a match and stood a good few feet back before tossing it in to the bowl.

A change of mood.

There was a *WOOSH!* as the flames caught the kerosene. Smoke begain to rise, dark at first, but then lightening to a ghostly pale as the distinctive wail of burning Ghost Rock rose up from the flames.

Now came the Chant. "Oh mighty Tezcatlcoatl, Serpent of the Smoking Mirror, I beseech you to come forth and...and..." Aw, Hell. How did the chant go again? Fuck it. "I want you to come here so we might make a deal."

The smoke from the fire suddenly began to waver and twist unnaturally. The smoke took on the appearance of a coiled serpent with two glowing embers for eyes, and the wailing of the coal began to sound more like the shake of a monumental rattlesnake.

"Y̨o̴u̢ hav͜e s̡u͘mmo͞nèd ͢m͢e, ̕a͏nd ͠I̛ have͞ c͜o͞me͝.̴" hissed a voice from the coiling cloud. "Wh͡y ̡a̢ve ͢yo̵u̴ ̴d̡o̵ne҉ ̕thi̸s, a̷n͜d ͝what͏ ́do͜ y̡ou o͢f͝f͜er͠ to ̀s͢at҉e m͜y wra̴th̴ ́at being͜ ̧ca͜l͘le̕d̷ ̸fòr͝th?̛"

"Er...offer?" Nathanial gulped. Gus hadn't mentioned anything about making no damn offer! Hastily he searched through his pockets. "Um...shit. I-I got some gold dollars..."

"Go̸l͡d̢?" the serpent hissed. The rattling began to shake the walls of the barn. "Yo̴u͠ th͡ink I͡ ͘want ̧y͟our̡ f͏il͝th͠y ̶ǵol̴d?͡ ̷A̸f͏tȩr͠ the mùrde͜ŗe̷ŗ Cort́es sl͝a̷ug͝hter͜e̢d my p̡eople̸ i͡n̷ se̴ar͘c͜h͏ ͢o͡f it̕?" Nathanial only had time to yelp as the fanged maw of the smoke-snake opened and darted towards him. Instead of being swallowed, however, nathanial found himself staring into a pair of burning coals as the serpent gazed at him. he could feel the heat of that gaze blistering his skin. "Y̡ou i͏nśul̵t me,͠ ̢h͡u͏ma͞n.͢"

"OhJesusdon'tkillmepleasedon'tkillme" Nathanial whimpered. A foul smell filled the air as a wet stain formed on the crotch of his pants.

"A͠h̛.̡..yès.̡ Yo̢u͜r f̶e̕ar ͠i̵s͘ ͡in͞to̕x̀i̢c̴a̵ti̡n̡g̡.́" The serpent muttered, and the smoke coiled back near the brazier. "I̸ a̧c͝c̶ep͠t ̛your ҉off̧e̡ri̢ng,҉ hu̧m̡an. ͝S̶t̴ate y̷o̢u̕r͜ ͜des̨i͏r̢e,̷ ̧a҉n͠d̶ w̛e̶ sha͡l̷l̷ s̸e͝e w̛hat b͞a̧r̡gai̶ns̵ m͡aý bé ̕m͠ad͡ę."

Nathanial swallowed, then coughed. The coughing fit wracked his body as the curse ate into him. He knelt by the circle in the marble slab and picked his words. "Oh Mighty Serpent, I want what you done for Gus and Tex. I want you to make me immortal."

The serpent seemed to smile. "Immort̨a̷l?̛ ̵A ͘bo͢on̷ not ͠giv́en̛ lig͜h͟tly. What d̡o ͞y͜o͡u̴ of̧f͢ęr ҉in̨ ̨re̛tu͝rn?̢"

"I-I offer you my soul, oh Mighty Serpent." Nathanial replied.

"Yo͘ur͠ so̕ul͝?̶ ͜Wh̷at͟ ́so̕rt ̀of be̛iņg do͘ y͢où thiņk̸ ͠I̷ ͝am,̶ ̷huma̡n?̀" the serpent replies with a sibilant chuckle. "A͝ ̧şoul iş worth les̨s̴ ̛tha͝n̴ not̛hing͞ ͝tò me, and̡ ́I͢ c͡òul̀d̕ no͘t take̕ ̛it ͘e̡v͝e͠n͟ ͡if͝ I͡ ̧wan͢ted͟ ít,̷ f̀or͠ ̕m̸o͞r̸tal s͢ouls ͡are͞ ̸t͟h͜e ̢pr͡opert̶y of̛ Mićt͞l̵an̷tecu͠ht̨li̷,̢ wḩom I͜ ͘w͞o͢u̴ļd ̡never̢ c̛ro͢s͠s. ̨And͜ ͘if͠ ͝y͡o͜u'̛r̷e s͞o̵ ̡q͜ui̧c̶k̢ ̷t͘o ͝of̷f͡ęr̶ it͞, it ͡mu̧s͟t not̛ be wor̸t̵h ͢m̕úch to ̸y̢ou̵, ͜ei̷the̵r.̴ Y̷ou ẁill hav̷e͜ to ͠m͞ak̛e ̛a be̵tter͘ offe͢r t̴hán ̀t̵hat, h̕um̀a̷n̶."

Nathanial began to sweat. He thought all demons wanted souls...what the hell else did he have to offer?

The minutes ticked by as he struggled to think of an answer.

"I̵t ̵s̀eems ͝y͘o͡u̸ ̸a̡re̢ a ͟ver̛y͟ g͞r͞eat fo͘ol,̛ ͟huma̷n." The serpent remarked. "T̸el̶l ͜me,̡ ̶wh̸at led ͘you t̨o ͘s͞e͝e͠k me ͘ou̕t͞ ͠fór͢ a b͘ar̷gain ͞i͘n̷ ̵th͘e firs̛t p͢l̡a̶ce? Hel͜p̡ ̴me ̸u͝ndȩrs͟ta͟nd̡ your͘ situat͝ion͘."

So Nathanial did. The words just tumbled out, about the failed raid to chase the nosy Marshal out of town, about Ward and his magic and the great envy Nathanial had of his powers, of the curse Ward placed on him that was slowly eating him alive, of his fear of dying.

The serpent listened to the gunman's tale. Finally, it asked a question. "T̡e̴l̴l̶ ͝me̛, humań...͝ẁhich ͝d͘o yo̡u͘ f̸e̛ar͟ mo̢r̢e̢?͜ ͝T͟he de͞a̷th,͜ or̀ t̴he͟ s̕l̶o̵w ̨d͡ying͟ l̸eádin͠g̴ t̷ó ́i̛t?͟"

"What difference does that make?"

"All̢ ̛t̵he ͝d̵iff̶e͞renc͢e. I c̷an spar͡e͠ you̴ ͞fr͞om one, b̡u͞t ̶n͟ơt ͞t̕h͠e oth̴e͝r. ̀Y̧o̡ur f̢rien͞d ̡Gu͜s̕ ͞un͢ders̶tơod th̕is̡ whe͟n ͘he͡ ̵m̢ad̨e ͟his pact.̧"

"What the Hell are you talking about?"

"L̴e͠t me ̶m̸aḱe it si͝m͝ple͠. ͜I can̵ ͡a̵r̛ran̡g̀e ̨f͢o͜r̕ ͞y̢ou to͡ ͡s͢ur͘viv̡e y͡o͜u̸r c̸omin̸g̶ ̶de̷ath, b̢ut͘ you̧ w͟o̴ul̛ḑ ͡then c͘a̸rr͡y̷ a͘ cur͘se ̡fo̶re̡ve͜r. Ór, I̸ can s͠p͡a͜r̷è y̡ou th̨e ̀p̵ain o͞f̀ ḑying̢,̧ ͢quic̵kl̸y͟ a̶n̶d̷ ͞p͠ainl͠ès̢sly͞, ̡but ͢yo̵u ͜w̵ould̛ be ́dead for̛ev͟er.͜ ͟W̸h̡ich w̸o͞u͞ld y͠o̡u͞ p͜r̕efer?͡"

Nathanial thought long and hard. He didn't look forward to this "being cursed forever" business, but Gus didn't seem to have it too badly. Sure, Tex was a horror show, but even being turned into something that powerful had an appeal, when Nathanial got right down to it.

"If that first one, the being cursed forever, is what Gus done, then I'll do that." Nathanial said.

"E̷x̛c̶ellen͟t. The͘n͘ ͡h̨e̛ŗe̷ ̡is wha͜t͘ y͠ou̷ ̴w͜įll͠ do̧. ̧Yo͜u͡ ̕will ͠dó ͝as̀ Ẁar̷d͟ ţo̴ld̴ ͠you,͡ a̕nd̴ t̴urn̡ yo̡ur̡self ͝in ̶t̀o ̸t̛he͜ ́M͟ar͟s͟h̵al. ̢Y͢o̕u̶ wil͡l̨ ͝a̴cc͠e̛pt̷ ͡wh͟a̸teve͜r ̵judgment͡ ̡i͜s m̨ade a̴g̛ains̕t͢ yo͞u̢, ev̵e͞n̕ ͠íf it̢ ͜w̴o͞u͟ld ̨l̴ead t̶o d͢ea͝th̢. ́Wit̴h̕ ̢my͘ bless͘įn̶g͡, y͡o͞u ͘w̴il̢l ͜be͠ abĺe ͢to̷ ͢sh̡ed̡ your͢ pro͜bl͟em͞s ̛a̢nd́ be̷g̶in͜ a̵ņe̛w̶.͝ ͝Is t̕h̵i̢s acc͢epta͘ble?͝"

"I suppose so." Nathanial grumbled.

"O̵ņe m͞ore͜ t͝h͜i̴n͘g̴. You ̶will̴ no̵t̛ ̀att͟èm̛pt tò s̀e̸ek̷ r͡ev̢en̴ge ͠aga͠i͞n̷şt͘ ̨W̛a̸rd̡. Nor͢ ̀will ̸you̷ a̶tte͝mpt ̸to̴ s͡abo͠tage thé e͠ff̡or͝t̵s ͢he͟ ̡h͝a͢s͞ ̨m̡aḑe.̷ ̵If ̕y͟ou ͜d͝o ́thi͢s,͜ I wi̕l̶l rev̧okȩ ̧my ble̡s̕s̕ing̶, a͜n̢d̸ ̸you ẁi͟ll di͢e ̷i͟n p͞ain. Ar̡e ͟we understoo̕d̸?"

"Fine." Nathanial grumbled again in irritation. "Can we get this over with?"

"Ho̕ld͟ ͢o͟u̸t͘ you̧r ar̵m." The serpent instructed.

Nathanial did so, and the serpent struck. Smoggy fangs bit deep into the flesh, and the man screamed as the venom burned in the wound. Everything began to go dark...

"A final͢ ́wa̧rnińg͟. The şn̴ake̸ i̴s not i͡mmun͘e̢ t͘o̶ ̀it'̧s ͝o̡wņ bite͠." the serpent whispered as Nathanial collapsed.

He wondered what that meant as unconsciousness claimed him.

[[OOC: Important note! Trying to summon evil spirits is a bad idea, and can lead to being possessed, making foolish deals for power, the disfavor of your religion's supreme being, and itchy rashes. Please don't attempt this at home!]]
The Stray
 GM, 541 posts
 The Marshal
 'round these parts
Wed 13 Oct 2010
at 22:05
The Story So Far: The Duel
High Noon, April 10th, 1879. A gully on Dr. Ward's property.

Carl draws his pistol and aims to take a shot at the deputy’s arm, hoping to get him out of the way, but the man is up and over the ledge like a panther. This annoyance merely adds fuel to the silent anger building in Carl’s chest. Shoot Ward, sure. Might as well shoot themselves, save time when the work was gone and they all had to turn hired gun or bank robber.

He gives a soft snort as the injun sails back the way he came and returns his gaze to the brush above without bothering to watch the impact. He gives Nate a little time to settle. When they finally arrive, Carl’s words are measured, slow.

I ain’t draggin’ you to no damnyank marshall, Nate. Y’got two of ours kilt last night. I let you go, folks’ll talk. Talk ’bout a gang you can kill off any ol’ how without losin’ any sleep of nights. ‘Bout the chief who lit on out acause some tinhorn said ‘boo’ to him an’ skedaddled all the way to Mexico ‘count of the boys bein’ even yellower’n him.” Carl pauses, lets that sink in. How they‘d lose the town, how Nate’s reputation would fall from feared outlaw to small-time bully.

He glances down and to the side. Alive, then. Just. “…Ward’s out of it.” He clears his throat. “I got a proposition for you: quit hidin’ an’ git down here. One on one. Could be you’ll have trouble with Mike n’ Jess if I die, but not without my say-so. We'll have tried. No-one else‘ll touch you.
Carl falls silent.

Nathanial watched Charging Bear tumble down the slope.

"That's for the leg, friend." he mutters.

Then he hears Carl call him out. He listens, and grins. A one-on-one duel? A chance to prove who was superior?

Hell yes.

"Alright, Carl! I'm comin' down. You got your one-on-one!"

He carefully took his time coming down the slope, stopping near the native son's fallen body. He didn't look down, just took a space in the middle of the field.

As he did, he mentally let his spell of protection lapse. Carl was a comrade. He would do this the right way. He casually rested the carbine on his shoulder and waited for Carl to do the same.

mood music

Carl throws his pistol aside, dismounts and leads his roan a few steps out of danger before pacing back to face Frost, shotgun likewise slung at shoulder, face impassive. He tugs his hatbrim to his opponent and squares off, fighting the mad urge to whistle.

He meets Frost's gaze.

Time seems to hang hazy in the air as the two face off. Nate stalks about whilst Carl shifts now and then, boots stirring the dust. Each watches every twitch or move the other makes.

"You know this is a fool's errand, Carl." Nathanial says. "You've seen me shoot. I can Snip the wings off a Sparrow in mid flight. You have to use that scattergun to hit the broad side of a barn."

Carl doesn't reply. He just stares.

Nathanial swallows. "Just think about it, Carl. We team up, take out Ward and the Deputy, maybe hunt down the Marshal, not only do we have all of Ward's money, there won't be a soul in town who'd speak ill of us. We'd be the kings of our own little slice of heaven."

Carl just stares.

Nathanial is sweating now. "I'm giving you one last chance, Carl. You've seen the tricks I can do. I've done a deal, got myself a genuine Faustian pact like Gus done. Even if you shoot me down, I'll get back up again. I'll do what I gotta, but you can't kill me. I'm invincible!"

Carl. Just. Stares.


Thunder rumbles as the storm moves in. Wind whips through the gully, playing with dusters.

It's Nathanial who breaks first. He whips his carbine into a firing position...

Carl is slightly quicker, however, and drops the shotgun off his shoulder with a shrug...


Carl slumps slightly, red spreading across his shirt from the wound in his shoulder.

Nathanial, on the other hand, has collapsed. Buckshot has shredded his clothes, and a dozen holes in his flesh drip blood.

"no..." he gasps. "...this...can'"
The Stray
 GM, 1027 posts
 The Marshal
 'round these parts
Mon 26 Sep 2011
at 17:19
The Story So Far: The Bounty Hunter's Prey
April 10th, 1879. The Grand Bull:

The doors of the saloon swing open as a flash of lighting crackles outside.

Into the Grand Bull strides a great mountain of a black man in a black duster over an old Confederate army jacket, his stetson hat dripping water onto the floor. He surveys the room, taking in every face. He bulls through the crowded room, heading for a notice board at one end where many local handbills are posted (and which is currently strangely empty). He reaches into his back, and withdraws a hammer, some nails, and three hand bills, which he proceeds to nail to the board.

While he's doing this, a second, less conspicuous gentlemen in a gray suit, with dark, slicked back hair and a trim mustache, enters the Grand Bull. He pauses, sniffs the air, and curls his lip a bit before taking a seat at the only empty table in the room.

The large man, apparently satisfied, returns the hammer to his bag and heads toward the bar, leaving three posters with hand-drawn sketches behind. Each of them bear the legend:

Reward paid for information.
Direct inquiries to Jericho Cantrell"

Dave looks at the wanted poster for a moment, until a wide, diabolical grin breaks his face in half.

"Hey!" he shouts at the big black man. "You Lt. Cantrell?"

"I am." he replies, turning slightly. He lowers one hand to his gunbelt out of reflex.

"Well good," Dave says, speaking as much to the entire bar as he does the bounty hunter, "'cause it just so happens we seen this here redskin!"

The large man's eyelids rise, and he turns, giving Dave his full attention. "Where?"

"Well now, it seems that our dear Marshal Evans done hired this raping, murdering sonovabitch to act as his deputy." Dave says, eliciting gasps from the assembled crowd. "And you know what? Ever since, well, the bodies in town have been piling up! It's like Marshal Evans done want to scare us all into being sheep he can herd!"

Jericho gives a half grin at the situation. "Oh, really? So I take it that if I were to remove this problem for you, you wouldn't have any objections?"

"Object? Hell, I'd love to help you hunt this fucker down!"

Jericho is grinning ear-to-ear by now. "Well then. Anyone of you fine men who helps me bring this vile man to the justice he so richly deserves will be well rewarded. I'm putting up one hundred dollars, to be split among any of you fine gentlemen who join my posse and help me find this criminal scum. Who among you is with me?"

There's a brief pause as the Dust Adders look between Carl and Dave for marching orders.

This message was last edited by the GM at 17:20, Mon 26 Sept 2011.

The Stray
 GM, 1028 posts
 The Marshal
 'round these parts
Mon 26 Sep 2011
at 17:27
The Story So Far: The Assassins
April 10th, 1879. A roadhouse 10 miles from Blackthorn

Some mood music.

Even in the middle of the day, the roadhouse was dark. The owner liked it that did those who wanted to meet there.

That was why the four were gathered there now. One client, three prospective employees.

"So...our target is a Ranger, you say?"

"Yes. She arrived in town last night, and has begun to ask...troubling questions."

"Another lawman. Someone's dirty laundry is beginning to smell quite foul, I think."

"So you won't take the job? Disappointing. You have served the Society well in the would be such a shame if that relationship soured."

"Oh, not a one of us said anything about not taking the job. Rum is just being contrary, as usual. All we mean is that we can't take on all the lawmen in Texas."

"You won't have to. A scapegoat is being prepared. You are to make the job look like the work of the Dust Adders. She already has enemies among them."

"Oooo! I think I sense a change in the winds! Can we take this job, Mcavity? Please?"

"So the fat man is making his play against the good doctor. Yes. Count us in."

"I'm not. Not without an additional incentive."

"Rum Tum Tugger, you're such a contrary beast!"

"Rest assured, sir, that the Society understands your needs. The fee is double your standard rate."

"Make it triple, and you have a deal."

There is a short silence.

"Very well. But we expect results for our money."

"Oh, but we always deliver, don't we?"

"Indeed. Well then. Here is a downpayment. The rest will be in its usual place once the job is finished."

A bag off coin is passed, and the group breaks up. Three shapes slink out the door to their horses, and ride.
The Stray
 GM, 1041 posts
 The Marshal
 'round these parts
Wed 28 Sep 2011
at 20:10
The Story So Far: An Occurance At The Red Eye Saloon
Some mood music

The giant black man swaggers through the doors of the Red Eye Saloon, blithely ignoring the sign proclaiming "No Niggers or Irish" would be permitted. He breezes up to the bar.

"A shot of whiskey, please." He says to the grizzled bartender, who glares at him.

"Ain't you seen the dang ol' sign, man?" The bartender says as he polishes a glass. "I tell you what man we don't serve your kind here so y'all might as well mosey right back out the dang ol' way you came in man."

"I did indeed see your post." The big man says. "But fear not! Though I am a man of color, I am not, nor have I ever been, a nigger. I have never served on a plantation, I do not intend to cause trouble in your establishment, and I have no designs on your womenfolk. You can serve me, secure in the knowledge that you serve the side of law and justice and not one of those folk."

The bartender looks the big man over, notices the twin huge pistols strapped to his waist, and decides to swallow whatever complaint he had. The big man's whiskey is delivered post haste.

As he's settling down to drink, however, the stench of booze and ill-temper washes over him. "Hey you!" A gruff voice, well-watered with alcohol, says. "Bounty hunter." A hand falls on the big man's shoulder. "We need to talk."

The giant sighs, and turns to face his annoyance. "Oh. It's you." he growls at the cowhand. "Haven't you caused me enough grief for one day? I'm off your place. Why disturb a man when he's drinking?"

"We gots to talk." The cowhand rumbles. "We need ta come back. Collect a bounty."

"I tried that. I distinctly remember you getting in my way." The bounty hunter growls. "I also distinctly remember you chomping at the bit to have your friends do me violence. Why on Earth should i go anywhere with you now?"

"Look." the cowhand growls, the bottle in his hand sloshing as he waves. "You want to get that tinhorn still? I can help ya. But I needs ya to do something. want a bounty, I got a bounty for you." He waves a bandaged hand, short one finger, in the bounty hunter's face. "I want you to kill the goddamn dirty sonofabitch that did this to me. I got...fifty dollars!"

The bounty hunter gives the cowhand a hard look. "You, sir, are drunk."

"Wha...? Is it not enough? I can get more...sixty! Sixty dollars for the head of that bastard!" The cowhand's voice, shaky though it was, was increasing in volume. "Sixty dollars if you done dry gulch Carl for me!"

"You are drunk." the bounty hunter says again. "And you seem to have mistaken me for some low-life gutter trash that kills for money. Let me assure you that this is not the case. As much as my job requires me to be ever armed and ready for violence, I am at the end of the day a servant of law and order. I am not some loose cannon gunslinger, leaving bodies wherever I go. And while I may have to shoot people, and occasionally kill them, that is never my first intent. The law wants to see most folk alive."

"Sixty-five!" the drunk man pleads. "It's all I got!"

"If you keep harassing me, sir, I am going to have to turn you over to the Ranger for conspiracy to commit murder." the bounty hunter growls. Then, taking pity on the man, he lays a hand on the drunk man's arm. "Look. I don't know what sort of fight lead to you getting maimed, but whatever it was, it's not worth killing over. I know you're angry. Hell, I'd be angry. But you're drunk. You aren't thinking straight, and this road you're on will lead nowhere but the gallows and a shallow grave. Go home. Sleep it off. You'll feel better in the morning."

The drunk man shrugs out of the bounty hunter's friendly grip. "Goddamn worthless nigger." he growls as he stumbles toward the exit. "Ain't no one gonna help me get my justice?"

"I'm your huckleberry," says a smiling voice near the door.

Some mood music

A tall man in a floppy hat and an outlandishly long scarf uncurls from his seat and saunters over to the drunk cowhand. "Please, tell me more."

The drunk man, nonplussed, stumbles over himself a little. "W-well, his name's Carl...quiet bastard, never figgered him for much of a threat, thought he was a friend...then he done cut my finger off...just cut it off! just like that!"

"Oh, how horrible!" The tall man says, wrapping an arm around the cowhand. "And now you want revenge?"

"Y-yeah." he stutters. "I want...I want him shot. I want him hurt, like he done to me. I want...I got fifty dollars..."

"Oh, save your money, sir!" the tall man says. "I'm pleased to help! I'll kill this fella of yours for free!"

"Y-you will?"

"Of course! However," and here the man lowers his voice conspiratorially, "I need some help myself. You see, my friends were in town and got into some trouble with that nasty marshal they have here. My friends are rotting in jail, and they're expecting me to help get them out. But I can't do it all on my own. So what do you say? Can you help me break my friends out of jail?"

"" The drunk man clearly seems to be having second thoughts.

"Good!" The tall man chirps. "There's just one little loose end I have to take care of here first..." He whirls, but the bounty hunter is already on his feet, the stool clattering to the ground.

The pair face each other, hands hovering over their pistols.

"Well, well." The bounty hunter grins. "Thomas Baker, alias Rum Tum Tugger. I'm mighty glad to see you. I'm sure Miss Hawkins will be, too, once I stick you behind bars with the rest of your miscreant friends."

"Ah, the infamous Jericho Cantrell, would-be butcher of women and children. Decided to go after more sporting game, or is it just that the plantations wouldn't take you back?"

"You really wanna do this, son? These are the guns that took down John Wesley Hardin."

"Really? The way I heard it, you blew your cover and it's only because Hardin got his gun caught up in his suspenders that you're alive today. And wasn't it John Armstrong who pistol-whipped Hardin into submission? Really, it seems like your only accomplishment is that you're an excellent distraction."

"You sonova..." Cantrell snarled, his hand slapping leather, but he was just a hair to slow. By the time he'd cleared leather, the assassin's gun was already out, copper plating glinting in the lantern light.


A trail of fire lanced through the bounty hunter's gut, and he tumbled.

"Well! That's that, I suppose." The assassin says, pulling the cowhand through the door with him. "Now, come along, my new friend. We have a jailbreak to pull!"

"Oh Jesus...oh Jesus...oh Jesus..." the cowhand mutters as he's led away.

The bounty hunter just lies there and bleeds.

This message was last edited by the GM at 20:11, Wed 28 Sept 2011.

The Stray
 GM, 1157 posts
 The Marshal
 'round these parts
Sat 15 Oct 2011
at 06:38
The Story So Far: Hello Kitty
Late afternoon, April 11th, 1879. Blackthorn, Texas. Good Friday.

Some mood Music

Robertson's Laundry, on the outskirts of town

"Salllll-eyyyyyyy! Dinner's ready!"

The little girl with brown hair and a checkered blue-and-white dress looked up from her position, trying to coax the recalcitrant ball or orange fluff from beneath the porch. "Just a minute, mommy! Dandelion got out!" She called back.

"mew!" came a plaintive cry.

"Dandy! Here, pretty kitty! Here kitty, kitty, kitty!" the little girl called. "Please, come on out! I'm sorry I tried to dress you up n' stuff. Please come out!"

The little orange tabby did no such thing. In fact, it seemed to crawl even deeper into the shadows.

"Aww..." Sally pouted. "Come on, Dandy!" This clearly was not working. "Do you want me to get Mr. Nice Savage Indian Man an' Mr. Tin Woodman? Would that get you to come out?"


"Now, Dandelion, don't be like that!" Sally pouted again. "You know you're not supposed to do that. You're supposed to be a good little..." A shadow fell over her. The little girl looked up. "...kitty?"


 NPC, 2 posts
 The Saint of Killers
 P# T# W0 F0 Cha #
Wed 7 Dec 2011
at 06:41
The Story So Far: High Plains Drifter
Meanwhile, Somewhere in Texas...

Some Mood Music

A breeze blew through the deserted streets of Ratwater. A tumbleweed rolled with it, bouncing over the corpses in the street, past the busted-out windows and bullet-riddled walls, though pools of thickening blood.

The wind whistled and wailed through the holes in the wall of the local saloon, and forced the swinging door open and shut, open and shut.

Inside the saloon, a single figure sat next to a guttering lantern, fingers laced as he contemplated the glass of whiskey before him. He sat in a silence so still one could swear the figure wasn't breathing. They'd be right.

A sound caught the corpse-man's attention. Faint but unmistakable. He turned his rotted head to the sound. Yes. A gunshot. Far away.

"So that's where it got to." He said to no one in particular in a gravelly voice.

He stood and looked around the room. Over a dozen bodies lay strewn about--the sheriff, his posse, the saloon keeper, the whores. All of them shot straight between the eyes. The corpse-man nodded at a job well done, then picked up the shot of whiskey and downed it.

"Well, g'bye, folks." he said, again to no one in particular. "It's been fun, but I got places to be. Someone found somethin' o' mine. Time to get it back."

He walked to the hat rack, picked his top hat off it, set it on his head, and strode out of the saloon. He whistled for his horse, a great white stallion with eyes of flame, mounted, and rode off towards the east. Towards the gathering storm.

Towards Blackthorn.
The Stray
 GM, 1437 posts
 The Marshal
 'round these parts
Mon 12 Dec 2011
at 17:44
The Story So Far: The Salvation of Carl Allans
Carl walks, his steps precise through the chaos, tense and not staggering. Not stalking, though it's clear he's as out of place here as a wolf somehow finding himself alone in some farmer's yard, where fang and fury are subject to the incomprehensible striking power of the almighty shotgun. The tension/sense of out-of-placeness doesn't ease when he finds Molly, though there's a kind of feral tenderness as he silently interrupts whatever her friend's saying to her by gently taking up her fingers and (if she'll let him/let him get that far) angling her injured arm to see how it's doing.

Molly gives Carl a surprise hug as he bends near. "My hero!" She says. Her wound is bandaged, but the way she's moving suggests it isn't hurting much.

Carl startles, but catches himself before he jerks back and pulls them both over. His breath catches just a little as she puts pressure on bruises/injuries various, but he puts his uninjured left arm about her shoulders and squeezes briefly like 'it's all right.'

"I'm so glad to see you're alright!" She gushes. "Facing down that monster like you did on your own. It's just been so crazy..." She looks down as his battered form. "Oh golly! You should get that looked at! Father! Father, come quick!" She calls.

From the ranks of the praying and the frightened comes a young man with a preacher's collar, who looks equal parts kind and tired. "Yes, Mrs. Hollison?"

"It's Carl! The one I told you about, the one who saved me from certain death! He's been injured! Look!"

The preacher nears Carl. "Well. Let's take a look." He says, and waits for Carl's permission to begin his examination.

Carl has to give a twitch of a smile at that. "..."

He's still not sure about the new priest, but warily takes his duster off and lays it over a pew with his hat when Molly lets him go, undoing his cuff and only flinching a tiny bit as he tweaks blood-soaked cloth out of the wound, rolling the sleeve back to show the man it's definitely a bite, not a simple scratch like Evans thought/may have described, and as such might be infected. "..." Minus the duster it's clear he's also recently been shot, though he stands straight and calm as though he's not in a great deal of pain.

The preacher looks him over. "hmm...That looks like a pretty bad bite." He looks it over. "I don't see any inflammation or swelling, though, which is a good sign. Just to be safe, I'm going to wash it out. This will sting." He pulls out a flask, and dabs a bit of whiskey into the wound. Then he pulls out a needle and thread and begins to sew. As he does, he prays. "Almighty and merciful Father, by the power of your command, drive away from this poor soul all forms of sickness and disease. Restore strength to his body and joy to his spirit, so that in his renewed health he may bless and serve you, now and forevermore."

As he works on the bite, Carl can almost feel the pain washing away. The same happens as the preacher applies his skills and prayers to the gunshot wound. It's as if his touch alone is removing the pain and infusing him with strength. In hardly any time at all, the wounds are stitched and Carl feels almost alive again.

The preacher frowns, though. "Hmm...something isn't right..." he looks at Carl. "How are you feeling, son?"

Carl's eyes and nostrils widen a bit - not at the sting, which he scarcely seemed to notice, but the words and accompanying lack of pain/energy - twice he tenses like he's going to pull his arm away from the preacher, but silently talks himself down with the reasoning that the physical wound is being fixed. He's a lot tenser when O'Rourke fetches a chair and attends to his side, though he doesn't flinch, patiently holding his shirt out of the way and gripping the pew behind him until his nails leave little crescents in the wood.

Carl looks at the preacher with something almost like fear - something that erases the five years or so added by his general denamour, his darkened, weathered skin and the marks of a hard life. He touches his throat as though in earnest explanation, looks briefly to Molly for help, then nods to the doorway and makes to try and move past the priest, not quite bolting.

The doorway, unfortunately, is currently full of talkative clank discussing religion with a witch. The only way past would be to knock the machine over. As Carl is registering all this, the preacher rests a gentle but firm hand on his shoulder. "Son, I can sense a darkness eating away at your soul. God can help you, if you are willing to let him in. I can save you from this evil, if you let me. What do you say?"

For the first time Carl truly flinches, as though the priest's touch burned, turning and stumbling backward, gaze locked on the clergyman's hands as though they're a loaded weapon. When he hits the side of the confessional he grips it left-handed, wide grey eyes finally meeting the priest's. Pain flares under his ribs as though in protest and he swallows - tries to swallow - dropping his gaze and making a soft choking noise as he tries desperately not to cough and awaken agony now reaching into his lungs. He wipes blood from his lower lip across the back of his hand, loosening his deathgrip on the confessional a moment, then looks up, clearly trying to speak but drawing mostly wet rasping sounds from his throat. If the preacher moves any closer without trying to quiet him first he'll quite clearly reach to put a hand on his knife.
*rasp* *rasp*  "...hy?"

"'s all right, son. You are safe in the house of the Lord." Father O'Rouke says softly. He doesn't approach until Carl has calmed down a little. He ponders the question instead.

"Because...because God wants all of his children to turn back to his face and away from the evil that besets them. Because you are in agony, and the Lord has blessed me with the ability to ease that pain. Because it is the right thing to do." He gives a small, sad smile, and Carl can see that the Father really isn't much older than he is. "And because not so very long ago, I was where you are right now, asking that very question of someone trying to help me."

The safety of the House of the Lord just makes Carl back right up against the confessional and show his teeth a little, clearly not aware he's doing it.

His brow knots at the priest's words, and though he's still tensed and apparently liable to lash out, he's clearly listening, especially to the last part, though his eyes seek a way out and eventually just give a pleading look to the carved Virgin in her niche, the faintest echoes of childhood prayers whispering through the back of his mind, unbidden.

The Virgin just smiles serenely at him, her arms open wide as if to embrace him.

"I wasn't always a priest." O'Rourke says. "There was, in fact, a time when I thought God had abandoned me, and I hated Him for it. Driven by that hate, I did some very despicable things in my misspent youth. But God hadn't given up on me. He was simply waiting for me to turn to him and ask for help. One night, broken, tired, and wounded, I wound up on God's doorstep, and a preacher took me in and nursed me back to health. He didn't just save my body that night...he saved my soul. Since then, I've been wandering, searching for the place God wanted to put me. He brought me here."

"This's so strong in many ways, but so terribly, terribly wounded in others. I spoke with Bill McCoy, one of the other Dust Adders. He and I had a very long talk, which I'm not at liberty to comment more on. But from what he told me and what I've seen with my own eyes, I've come to realize that there is a vicious evil striking at the hearts of the people of this town. And you've been touched by it. I can see the burn on your forehead, and I can sense the damage it's doing to you. It is within my power to heal that damage, but you need to put your faith in me and in Jesus Christ before I can."

He holds out his hand to help Carl stand. "Please. Let me help you."

Carl hauls himself up the wall beside the confessional and after a few abortive rasps and hideously painful attempts to speak wipes blood from below his stitches to write on the wall:




He seems to have calmed a little now - the steel in him is back, though he's shaking. He looks at the priest as though the answer/s to whatever he's querying are far more important than anything else O'Rourke could say to him.

O'Rourke looks at the words in blood, and nods, his mouth a thin grim line. "If they are afflicted with the same malady as you, yes. I can help them. For that, I will need you to lead me to them. And for that to happen, you need to be well enough to lead."

Carl dabs at the wall near 'PERSY' as though to confirm that, but just draws a simplified bottle on the wall next to the latter message, and after a moment's pause, gives it a devil tail. It looks silly as get all, but the meaning is clear: bottle demon. Carl resumes his expectant look at the priest, a great deal of determination in the set of his shoulders. Seems he won't take one step back from the road to Perdition, no matter how much it hurts, if it means walking away from his father after thirty years.

The priest studies the mark carefully. "Well. The Demon Drink is a formidable foe. would be difficult. It will take time. It will take faith, and a willingness to walk that hard, hard road. I can serve as a guide and a helping hand along the road, but he will have to walk it himself. But there is hope. I can't cure him with a wave of my hands and a few Hail Marys, but I can offer him a chance to crawl from that pit of despair if he's willing to work at it."

Carl frowns and looks at his own hands as though they'll tell him what to do - clearly there's been little else in this man's life he's been able to depend on - then lifts his shirt a bit and touches the surprisingly non-painful new-stitched wound in his side. The phrase very despicable things tangles itself with the prayers and the safe feeling right on the edge of his memory, a child's unquestioning faith. Moving slowly, still lightheaded with bloodloss and two days without food, he wipes the blood from his fingertips and along his arms onto his palms and shows the priest what kind of life he's led: bloody-handed.

The priest nods in understanding, and lifts his own hands, which are still bloodied from doing the stitching. "Believe me. I've been there. Sometimes you wonder if it's ever going to wash away. And even if it is, you know it's been there. You know it for the rest of your life. But the blood on your hands does not need to define you."

Carl tenses, not understanding any of it except that thread of commonality with the priest...but maybe the point isn't to understand at all, but to believe. If he could. He looks up at the not-particularly interesting ceiling with its layers of cobwebs and dust. Why would You want me? Why should this man's words work, when nothing ever has before? (if you don't take this offer, you'll never know) Naturally, there's only the sound of rain.

Carl closes his eyes, shudders, and interlaces his fingers with the priest's right hand just before the other lowers it.

The priest hold's Carl's hand for a moment, then stands. He returns with a bottle of communion wine, a loaf of bread (probably brought in by the Clank), and a tin cup.

"Sorry for the somewhat slapdash manner of this." he says. "I'm still putting things together after the last priest was..." he doesn't complete that, he just moves ahead. He begins to pray.

"We give you praise, Father most holy, for you are great, and you have fashioned all your works in wisdom and in love. You formed man in your own image and entrusted the whole world to his care, so that in serving you alone, the Creator, he might have dominion over all creatures."

"And when through disobedience he had lost your friendship, you did not abandon him to the domain of death. For you came in mercy to the aid of all, so that those who seek might find you. Time and again you offered them covenants and through the prophets taught them to look forward to salvation."

"And you so loved the world, Father most holy, that in the fullness of time you sent your Only Begotten Son to be our Savior. Made incarnate by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, he shared our human nature in all things but sin. To the poor he proclaimed the good news of salvation, to prisoners, freedom, and to the sorrowful of heart, joy"

"To accomplish your plan, he gave himself up to death, and, rising from the dead, he destroyed death and restored life. And that we might live no longer for ourselves but for him who died and rose again for us, he sent the Holy Spirit from you, Father, as the first fruits for those who believe, so that, bringing to perfection his work in the world, he might sanctify creation to the full."

Father O'Rouke picked up the wine and the bread.

"Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall, so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ."

"At the time he was betrayed and entered willingly into his Passion, he took bread and, giving thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying:"


He tears off a piece of the loaf, and holds it out for Carl to take and eat.

Carl stays where he is, feeling perhaps smaller than he ever has, though not wretched, which is new. Rising from the dead brings to mind Jesse, but he pushes that thought away for now. Something, he thinks, is near him, and for the first time in a long time he drops all defences and just submits, shivering at the vulnerability of his naked spirit before all the unknown. It almost feels cold, though that may be the damp in the air.

He looks up wide-eyed at the priest's loud voice, the full meaning of the words striking his unguarded soul, and reaches up for the makeshift sacrament half-wondering if it'll feel like flesh.

He takes and eats it, slowly. It hurts a lot but he's trying not to think right now so much as exist...and something seems to settle on him, and he's sharply aware of everything around like a man about to die, or just saved from the noose, and there's something like blood on his face. Carl touches it, his throat still roaring its complaints about the host and trying to fleck his lungs with raw red hurt. He looks at the tears that come away on his fingertips like he can't quite remember what they are.

Father O'Rourke continues his prayer. He pours the communion wine into the tin cup, hands it over to Carl, and says, "In a similar way, when supper was ended, he took the chalice and, once more giving thanks, he gave it to his disciples, saying"


The wine is bitter, but as Carl drinks, the vingar taste washes away the agony that had been tearing at his throat. He can feel the dizziness of the last few days passing away.

Father O'Rourke raises his hands. "Therefore, as we celebrate the memorial of his Death and Resurrection, we offer you, Lord, the Bread of life and the Chalice of salvation, giving thanks that you have held us worthy to be in your presence and minister to you."

As he speaks, the pain inside subsides, and there's a feeling of weightlessness, as if a heavy load has just been taken off Carl's shoulders.

"Our Father, who art in Heaven,
hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy Will be done,
on Earth, as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever."

He rests his hand on Carl's temple.


Carl braces at the hand near his face, but then relaxes. He has known this feeling before, several hours' walk from anywhere, though he has no name for it. If it's the opposite of 'lost' it's certainly not in the usual sense. His lips move almost by instinct, tracing the prayer to its end, wondering why the priest chose to use words just anyone could understand. Was that right?


He grips the 'chalice of salvation' down there on the floor amongst the random junk, still somewhat covered in grime and blood, and tries to collect who he is now before considering getting up. Alive. Desire flares in him, to do many things, not all of them holy. He nods to the nearest casualty, whom the priest can help and he can't, absently petting the chicken that's wandered up.
The Stray
 GM, 1511 posts
 The Marshal
 'round these parts
Mon 19 Dec 2011
at 19:39
The Story So Far: Sacred Paintings
Meanwhile, Back at the Comanche Camp

The camp is in chaos. Warriors run everywhere, trying to figure out just what had happened to them. Thankfully none of the fires had spread out of control, but the whole band was up in arms.

Itza-chu wandered toward the chief's tent. He flipped the flap open and looked in. Ghost Wolf was already there, giving the chief a description of events.

"<...and one of the horses was taken. The cook fires smell unclean...they dropped some form of foul medicine in them to burn them that way. We should find new longs for them immediately, so the taint of their treachery does not enter our food.>"

The chief looks up at Itza-chu. "<Did you find them?>" he asks. "<Are they dead for what they have done?>"

"<I did not, Chief Pale Moon.>" Itza-chu says. "<Their horse was too swift. They crossed the creek, which you have told us not to follow beyond.>"

"<Fool.>" Ghost Wolf says. "<You always say, 'I am faster than any horse.' You let them get away, so you are a liar.>"

Itza-chu pulls his bowie knife. "<Do you wish to test me, Cursed One? I have the Hawk's favor. You are only the claws of Brother Owl. No spirits will come near you. I may not outrun thier horse, but I can outrun you! Carve you up and listen to you scream! You wish to test yourself? Come on and test me, if you think you are hard enough.>"

"<Enough.>" The chief says. "<What is done, is done. Do we at least have the paleface's cam-ra? Do we have his fo-to-graf?"

Ghost Wolf nods, and pulls the items forth. "<Here is the painting the paleface painter made. It was still wet with his medicines, but you can see the image clearly.>"

Pale moon looks at the image on the plate. Fifty Comanches stared back at him. All of them were in vibrant color, though the rest of the surroundings were still grey.

The chieftain smiles. "<Then we have won already. Go, and plan our attack. They know we are coming, but it does not matter. We will crush them. We will slaughter them all in the name of the Mirror Serpent, and he will bestow upon us many blessings. Our People will rise again!>"

The two Indians nod, and withdraw form the tent.

Pale Moon looks at the image once more, then lights some incense, sets the plate down, and begins to pray.
William Pierce
 player, 228 posts
 Notorious Gunman
 P5 T7 W0 F0 Cha 0 W2R1B0L
Mon 7 May 2012
at 01:49
The Story So Far: William's Bad Day
While William slowly followed the ranger outside, he shifted his gunbelt slightly, distributing the weight somewhat better. He felt the sting in his shoulder from the shotgun blast - a sting that should have been an agonizing, excruciating amount of pain. What should he tell that girl ranger? What would she want to know?

And where the fuck should he now get another flask of cow-blood? He felt the hunger in his... no, not his stomach. In his mind, maybe. He reflected a little on this. He'd never really heard of vampires before. Not by that name, anyway. Living on the trail had given him an idea that there absolutely were monsters hiding in the dark, but most times it was just men with nothing left to lose. He'd been such a monster, too. Now he was something out of a cheap dime novel and some hero would make his name by ending him.

Well, there had been would-be-heroes before and he, William, was still around.

He wondered where Jenny was. He was pretty sure that she would eagerly give in to the hunger. Maybe she'd eat that crazy dynamite guy. Or she'd chew off One-Ear's other ear.

He loosened his shoulders and could feel the pellets move under his skin. That damned Indian had shot him in the back, too. Seemed to be the local pastime. Well, William might still get a chance to return the favor. He hadn't thought clearly at the time - but hell, he'd just came back from the dead, after haggling over his soul with the demons of four men he killed. Not to forget his bastard of father. Funny, though. He'd have thought that at least one or two of his victims might have gone to Heaven. If there was such a thing.

Maybe Marina knew. He'd ask her when he drove the life from her blood-sucking-corpse.

Marina. Vincent!

He scanned the crowd outside, then searched beyond for a sign of the blonde vampire. Vincent had helped him. Well, a little, anyways. A little 101 on being a bloodsucker. William hoped they'd be re-united. He would be a great help in killing Marina. And afterwards... he was sure Vincent would want to kill William as well. He'd deal with that when the time came.

But this place, Blackthorn had even more weirdness to offer. A fucking Hellstromme gizmo walking and talking like a tinhorn priest on peyote. A dead guy - oh, William had noticed that clearly, now that he allowed himself to think about it. No trace of a heartbeat in those great neck veins and arteries and the whole body seemed to be like a black hole in a sea of vibrant colors. His senses were changing, he realized - a dead guy threatening the only contact he had in town. "You protect them man you're with", the demon had said.

Starting to. I hope you appreciate that.

He turned around, to throw a glance back at the bar where the guy with the shotgun stood.

Hey Shotgun, you're not wearing a badge. I'll have to show you how a fair's fight fought, then. He thought grimly.

Another would-be-hero who'd end up dead.

This message was last updated by the GM at 01:56, Mon 07 May 2012.

 player, 1014 posts
 P4 T8(2) W0 F0 B3 Cha -3
Mon 7 May 2012
at 01:56
The Story So Far: The Hawk Cries

How quiet you lie, Little Fierce One, bloody-beaked but not sated, not yet, though I have heard the voices of Apocalypse and the smoke billows out in the planes of the outer plains. I flew there once, twisted in the Light. I was whole, I was one, I was...I was...

I had a Name.

...told the little one, top-tin-hat-star-wearer, told him his nest was not bare; not robbed blind...deaf...I feel the Serpent's sons and little daughters, saw the trails saw the crows - they have a secret. Walking dead speak revelation. So drunk. ...cannot concentrate cannot see, broken mirror in the Belt Demon, Mirror in the blood, in the sound of the song that makes men bulletproof - told the brave of the cards and the crow, told him with the voice of his blood, was maybe heard, maybe...drunk!

Was I heeded, can they hear? Pain. Would that I could cannot must not perish - vomit - unsense ! Bindings stop me sheathing my talons in that scalper, wretch, egg-swallower, Nahuatl dog-slave! I will devour his soul in strips...they ceased their conflict but they do not hear they do not hear the screaming.

I can hear the low hill weeping. I can hear the Shrike's Son's warcry. I am... ...

Little Bright Soul throws her brightness. I will lend her the arcing of my wingtips. I will give her heart to thunder, for they said He was Man in Palestine, and the Ever-Fighters forget the earth and without the earth and the ash we are nothing.
Wildcat Hawkins
 player, 1145 posts
 Texas Ranger
 P5 T6 W0 F0 B1W2R3B Cha 2
Mon 7 May 2012
at 15:52
The Story So Far: A Message for The Rangers
Leaning against the rough hewn wall, Katrina sipped the last of the tequila.  She never slept well anyway, not since Nacogdoches, and every night here was another battle of wills with The Big Snake.

Her handwriting was impeccably neat, for she had been whipped for sloppiness and was rasped across the back of the hands if caught faltering in this.  As a result she wrote a bit slowly.  But the end result was something that with some conscious practice could almost be beautiful.  But her actual writing and prose was a bit rough to say the least; her mother believed it was folly for girls to go the extra two years, and truthfully Katrina wasn't what you'd call particularly booksmart to begin with.  Not once did she win a spelling bee even if the school marm had adored her.

Most of this message was not hand written however, just a few seemingly random notes in the margins about Ezekial 25:17.  Of course anyone who knew the first thing about Ranger protocols would recognize this was the key to the simple cipher.

Even now the Ranger was a creature of contradictions.  While the last day or so had led to an epiphany over the last few years’ events, she still felt lost between her overtly rough exterior and covertly gentle interior.  Her heart was plagued with troubles, but her soul was resolute that those things which were good must triumph in the end.  But at least now she knew they were in fact two sides of the same person, and amends had to be made.

She hunched over a newspaper with a straight pin.  This was one of the worst codes she knew, but it was simple, and if they came looking for her long after this was over, they'd come to her room.  If the Rangers found this, they'd know what to make of it.

Day Three - Field Assignment Blackthorn Texas

Having already failed my original objecteve, I can do little but try to document these events.   I have never heard of a Category V outbreak before, but this is it, and it teeters close to a Six.

I have attempted to contact Austin again, better personnel should be deployed, but my attempts to do so have only cost a man his life.  I am in a terrible dilemma, I could ride for help, but I do not think the Lord intends me too, I will make my stand here and continue.

All supernatural containment protocols in the local area have been breached and I have suspended the first general order as it is unenforceable.  They know, they all know.  It is exactly as we feared, if anyone ever finds this, we must never abandon the first general order, because once it's out of our grasp we will never be able to reassert it.

The tale of the last few days has been horrawing but I’ve no time for contimplation or draed.  I cannot beleivee I have sunk so low to have an accord with the very men I am swurn to hunt to the ends of the earth and appreehend.

And just now I have agreed to capishulate to Marshal Evans and release that pair of vagabond gunfighters.  Deputy Vega took exception to it, and a day ago, I would have as well, but ah fear the Deputy holds his own secrets.  I begrudge him not despite what he has become for it is not his fault. but for now I will leeve him be, he is surely not pleased with me for the moment and seems overall reliably.

The local Comanche plan to attack and I hear strange things about them but nothing solid, I do not know what to expect.  Were they to succeed, this situation would never be contained.  For there are so many other trials here, from the man who plays at being the Kingsnake to the whicked who strike princes for equity and are flamboyant in their wickedness.  There are a great many others who worship the image of the serpent.

The Mayor seems to be connected to the suspects known as the Jellicles, who are now at large as the locals couldn't keep them jailed.  I still do not have a conherent account of this, but it does not matter at present.  The Mayor shows a large scale supernatural capacity toward mind control, and tried to turn the masses against me and the local law enforcement officers.

I survived this by using both a strange new capability, and by the interference of one of the local undead specimens who killed two civilians.  With help I was able to subdue him, the specimen seems to be both an asset and a curse at this point.

I have witnessed corporeal and apparitional manifestations while here.  A local man named Ward is pow'rful, he and the angel may yet be key to this all.  One of the wicked men agreed to take me to him, a quiet one, alias Carl, but I fear the Big Snake is working against me to keep me from Ward.

She thought carefully when mentioning the angel, she did not want them to know it was a clank.  There were things in this world which needed to be dissected and taken apart for study.  The clank wasn't one of them however.  Her command would never understand.

The very dead walk the earth, but I do not think this is the end of all things for Our Lord comes like a theif in the night.   I think it's something like it though  O tayst and see that the LORD is good: blessed art the man that trusteth in him.

I may very well die in this world in the process of this task, but I know this evil will be stopped.  That doesn't mean I'm going to be the one to stop it, it may be whoever finds this.  All I know is I am to be here right now to fight it, the designs of the Lord are unknown to me but all the better to make my purpose my sole focus.

I beg yur forgiveness for I hath been wicked and prideful, honor thy mother is what the commandments of the law doth say.  The sinner has repented.

I would be remiss if I did not record a most amazing recent development.  I have found that the miracles of the Scripture, in both Testaments, now manifest in my hands.  I have channeled the radiant face of Moses, I have rebuked the crowd for performing wicked acts, I have performed the laying of hands, and I have quelled wrath.  I realized it first when the masses beset me, and I do not know why this has happened to me, only the how.

It is not my power to command however, it is the Lord's.  I believe God's hand is upon us here, and he is displeased with the happenings.  I do not think this has been given to me lightly, for it seems durable, but the problems here are great.   I suspect this might have happened more readily to the local Marshal for the same purpose, but his manifestations of the new science are probably incompatible with it.   He is a very patient, if very tortured, man.

There are others here, like me, flawed, why myself and not another I do not know.  Perhaps it is because women are to be silent in the churches, and this is the only way I could affect His Will?

Finally I fear my exposure to the vampiric specimens may mean I and several others am infected with a vampiric strain of the unnatural sickness causing the dead to rise.  All I have found to work on the local specimens so far are sunlight, and sharpened wooden stakes.  I keep meaning to conference with a local pastor who might be a local resource on the matter, but much like meeting Dr. Ward, everything else keeps getting in the way.

The condition doesn't seem to set in on the living, so this means I must not die, for I fear the creature which could result.

There was so much else to mention, but she'd gotten to the end of the newspaper.  She'd have to code another one at another time.  She opened the drawer and put it on a growing stack with one final hand written flourish at the bottom of the page where she'd finished.

♥ Wildcat
Adrian Vega
 player, 286 posts
 Harrowed Huckster
 P4 T7 W0 F0 Cha 0 W2R4B0
Mon 7 May 2012
at 17:10
A Day in the Harrowed Unlife of Adrian Vega
A peaceful Texas sunset had begun to fall upon Blackthorn but an hour ago, the last remnants of fading sunlight sending up a beautiful glowing pink illumination from the horizon that cast an otherworldly light upon his surroundings. He looked out at some nearby ranchland, and spotted two grazing horses that belonged to their closes neighbors.

Making his way back from another long day at the mines, Adrian pulled a handkerchief to mop the sweat from his brow as he came up to the porch of the house he had lived in since he was a boy. He looked at its solid construction, and admired the fine handiwork that his pa had put into it, and that he himself had assisted with. It wasn't the best spot of land in town - not by a long shot - just on the outskirts of town, far from pretty much everything, and farther from the mine. He could smell the aromas of his mother's cooking. It was a well known fact that Irene Ackerman Vega was the best cook in Blackthorn, and not a man, woman or child would miss a chance to put their feet under the Vega table for supper if they were invited as guests. He knew his favorite dessert from the smell as he approached - his ma was makin' him a pecan pie. He heard her voice calling him. It seemed like it had been so long since he'd heard that voice, but what she said didn't seem to make any sense at all.

"Adrian, please. The ever-fighters..."

Adrian Vega sat slumped on the ground, resting his head and body against the bar of the Grand Bull Saloon, one hand was clutched to his chest at a pain that was unfortunately much more real than the fevered memories of his past that haunted him just then. He heard his own voice then, a dim and distant thing.

"What the hell's an ever-fighter, mama? Oh, sorry 'bout the language...I just never heard'a no such thing..."

His mind slipped back briefly into incoherent thought, but soon thoughts of what had actually transpired that day came again to him and he began thinking about the last few hours of his day - the decisions that lead him to this day, this point in time, the brink of death. He drifted back and forth between coherency and delusion, but moments of clarity intermittently pierced the cloudy veil that seemed drawn between his waking moments and a world of nightmare.

His return to Blackthorn and subsequent deputization by Marshal Evans had lead him to believe that his confrontation would be restoring a sense of law and order against a group of thugs that had taken over the town called the Dust Adders, who seemed to be a collection of old friends, acquaintances and mining buddies that seemed to have taken the town's future into their own hands. His work with the Lady Luck Society and his ascendance their also seemed to stroke his interest when the tales of strange happenings in Blackthorn came first to his ear. If nothing else confirmed this, the strange spell cast by the Mayor over the townsfolk confirmed everything he'd heard or suspected about what might be going down here.

Attempts to put the Mayor where he belonged - in the ground or in a cell - however, had failed when confronted by one of the Mayor's hired guns. It seemed for the moment though, that some kind of truce was in order, to stave off an impending Comanche raid. Dust Adders, the Marshal and his assorted Deputies, a Texas Ranger with a snake preoccupation, a talking tin can, hired guns, and ordinary citizens were embarking upon a mad plan to defend the town from Injuns that seemed to include blowing up a church.

Then somebody had taken to blowing up the Oriental, and he was helping the Ranger pull someone out from under some burning wreckage. His recollection of events were hazy, but he found himself thinking about how Gus and he had decided it was time for a drink. Put away a whole bottle of whiskey between them, and Adrian felt spry as ever until the man that robbed him bumped into him.

An attempted arrest.
A saloon shootout.
A few hands of a cosmic game of cards, the greatest gambles.
A man he didn't know trying to kill him.
A bullet in the chest from his would be robber.

"What's the current date?" the Marshal asked him.

Adrian felt a little silly, not remembering what date it was. It was one of those things he lost track of. However, he did have something of an idea. "Heck, I dunno, Marshal. Last time I checked it was...March 21st. I don't remember when that was, so maybe today's March 22nd. What's that gotta do with anything?"

"It answers a lot of questions, I'm afraid, because it's April 11th. Good Friday." Evans says with a sigh. "You've been in the ground, buried 'alive,' for three weeks. The showy gentleman called you a 'zombie,' not because he thought he killed you...but because he actually succeeded and you came back."