VII - The Pass.   Posted by Marshal.Group: 0
Marshal
 GM, 603 posts
 W0 R0 B0
Fri 22 Nov 2019
at 18:34
VII - The Pass
“What did the mountains care about our plan to climb them, rafting the waters that divided them? They had eternity before us, and eternity after us. We were nothing to them.”

- Erica Ferencik, The River at Night


Doc Scurlock was quick to inform Bryan Lee that Billy had spent a fair bit of the last hour making James Dolan’s life hell. The Regulators’ leader had taken it upon himself to camp outside the storm cellar where Dolan was being held, dictating to Murphy’s lieutenant all of the terrible fates that might be awaiting him once the conflict in Lincoln was brought to a close. ”Billy didn’t rule out us takin’ Dolan up into the foothills and usin’ him for target practice,” Scurlock said, ”But he figured you might object, so he left it low on the list of possibilities.”

Scurlock led the group out to one of the line shacks, explaining that Bonney ”needed some time to carve up some of those special bullets he likes to use.” During the short ride, Scurlock said that he had learned that Governor Mosby had inserted himself into the selection of Lincoln’s new sheriff and had insisted that the court select someone who was truly neutral where county affairs were concerned. The man that ended up with the star was a sharpshooter and former buffalo hunter named Pat Garrett, who’d just come to the area a short time ago. No one at the ranch knew much about him.

Bonney emerged from the line shack as he heard the riders approaching. His usual brash manner was subdued as he listened to everything he was told, absorbing the information thoughtfully. ”’Course we’ll help,” he replied when all had been discussed, ”Hell, that’s part of the reason we started goin’ after Murphy’s people. To keep what became of John from happening to anyone else.” He nodded emphatically. ”I’ll make certain there’s a good watch set on Dolan and Baker. Everyone else’ll ride into Lincoln to keep an eye on the town. Anything happens we’ll be ready.”

As the group prepared to depart the ranch, Jose Chavez y Chavez caught up with them. He drew his mount up alongside Cooper’s, speaking to the gunslinger quietly. ”Say, Albert, if you happen to come across any sign of Tom O’Folliard, could you let one of us know? When we circled back from Blazer’s Mill, we all kept an eye out, but none of us saw a trace of him. If Dolan knows what happened to him, he ain’t tellin’. We’re all just, y’know, concerned.”

Roberts led the riders across the rolling expanse of the Tunstall Ranch, northward to the foothills. The bounty hunter said little, only speaking when he needed to clarify the route they were taking. His manner was pensive, unnerved even. But whatever his misgivings, he pressed on into the mountains, keeping a brisk pace as the posse made their way to Capitan Pass.


The pine forest deepens as the group reaches the Pass, the wide trail that cuts through the mountains. The hard soil bears no imprints of horse hooves or wagon wheels, ample evidence of how few now venture into these heights. Roberts slows his pace, calling Jacinta Castillo forward. He asks the scout to help him keep watch as they continue. ”We’re gonna find trouble up here. That’s a given,” he tells her, ”I’d just like to see it comin’ when it decides to show itself.”

”We are not far,” Shabbakasha says, a frown on his normally calm face. Reaching down, he pats the neck of his paint mare reassuringly.

The air grows colder, the crisp cool of the valley giving way to the sharper temperatures of the mountain heights. As the riders press forward, the tall pines seem to lean inwards, their thick limbs forming a dense canopy over the pass that keeps out all but a few brief glimpses of the sun. Everyone is suddenly aware of the quiet that has overtaken the ride. The sounds of insects, birds, and other forest creatures has subsided, leaving only the noises of the posse’s mounts and the wind passing through the pine boughs overhead.

Roberts tugs at his horse’s reins, bringing it to a halt, his eyes fixed on the trail forward. The rest of the posse is immediately able to perceive the change in the landscape ahead.

The canopy of pines remains, but all are dead, their branches dark and barren. The hard soil is dusted with gray, the earth itself almost the color of coal. The brush gathered at the base of the trees is likewise lifeless, patches of growth that sprung up years ago, frozen in their wait for a Spring that has never arrived.

Though the canopy is lessened by virtue of the trees’ bare limbs, the pass ahead is noticeably darker, the shadows tall and looming, even in daytime. For a moment, all is hushed, but the silence is broken by a pair of distant wolf howls, their mournful keening traveling down the mountain as though there is nothing present to muffle their calls.

Roberts turns in his saddle. ”Last chance to go back,” he says simply.
Dr. Ezekiel Q. Wayland
 player, 101 posts
 Have Science.Will Travel.
 P4 T5/7 W0 F0 W1 R3 B1 L0
Fri 22 Nov 2019
at 20:38
VII - The Pass

Dr. Wayland did not seem as willingly chatty as usual.  His mood seems to have soured over something and he's just not bringing himself around.  Of course, anyone might might reasonably be having a low moment right now with all the doom and gloom possibilities.  But he does seem especially sullen and not the self he has been up to now.  Any of the other riders might also still catch muttering snatches of conversation that no one else seems to be a part of.  Not constant and not loud.... just enough to possibly be concerning.  He might not be a well man.

The bounty hunter was entirely unconcerned with what the Regulator's might me psychologically doing to Dolan.  Frankly, he was mildly surprised to find out that the man was still alive at all.  The West can be a very harsh place, especially to those deserving of harshness.  Not that he would /suggest/ anything, of course...


Dr. Wayland leaned slightly off to the side in the saddle to view the environs ahead.  THen slowly leaned back straight again to fish a candy from a pocket, unwrapping it with a soft, crinkle of waxed paper (which likely seemed very loud out here).  Before popping the lemon drop into his mouth, he did note, blandly, "Not until we'ah awl dead."  He paused an uncomfortable moment, holding the candy to his lips, then added by way of explanation, "Ah mean... Surely, you have many chances...  To go back...  Until you'ah dead?  Technically, Ah suppose, the last chance would be right befoah you died, but you can't always be shuah when that will happen.  Though....heah seems a likely spot..."  With that, he finally just put the candy in his mouth and stopped rambling.
Kansas Kate
 player, 393 posts
 Hot words and cold slabs
 P6 T9 W0 F0 W3 R2 B1 L#
Sat 23 Nov 2019
at 01:50
VII - The Pass
Kansas Kate couldn't help herself.  "Don't be so sure about that now, might turn out ya gots chances ta go back even when ya are dead."

If there was a place she belonged now... this was it.  She had secured the meat from The Wolf Who Walks and had his liquor and that which she'd appropriated back in town.  Wrapping it all up not to break and trying her best to hide she was packing so much booze was an annoyance.

But for the moment she was eager and spurred her borrowed mount on.  She kept looking at Roberts.  She had to ask him something, but... later.  There was something else right now.
Jacinta Castillo
 player, 230 posts
 Half-breed Scout
 P4 T5 W0 F0 W2 R1 B6 L0
Sat 23 Nov 2019
at 05:37
VII - The Pass
Jacinta gave Roberts a nod at his request for assistance, intending to keep out a watchful eye as they traveled.  The scout halted at the treeline, rifle resting on her thigh, and scanned the area ahead.  It was bleak, but only served as a reminder that they would soon be in the thick of things.
Albert Cooper
 player, 359 posts
 Gun Wizzerd
 P5 T6 W0 F0 W0 R3 B3 L0
Sat 23 Nov 2019
at 07:19
VII - The Pass
Albert gave a friendly smile over at Chavez y Chavez as the man drew close. Even though they weren't best of friends or anything, Albert felt the man had a good head on his shoulders and was willing to listen to reason when necessary. The cowboy nodded at the request. "Sure thing, Jose. And if ya getta chance, can y'all let my uncle know 'bout where I headed and why, should the worst come ta pass? Closure seems like the best thing for 'em in that case."




When he got the chance, Albert moved his horse close to Kate's. "Hey, don't s'pose ya know anything 'bout where O'Folliard got off to? Some folk are worried bout 'im."





At the suggestion that there was an option to turn around, Albert actually laughed a little. At least he would enter Hell with a smile.
Kansas Kate
 player, 394 posts
 Hot words and cold slabs
 P6 T9 W0 F0 W3 R2 B1 L#
Sat 23 Nov 2019
at 23:08
Re: VII - The Pass
Albert Cooper:
When he got the chance, Albert moved his horse close to Kate's. "Hey, don't s'pose ya know anything 'bout where O'Folliard got off to? Some folk are worried bout 'im."


"Ah know he were s'posed ta head out to th' Tunstall place ta rally th' locals 'gainst Murphy an' them since he can't hide no more, but we parted ways at Lincoln.  Devil knows where he wound up.  Better not have gotten 'imself kilt after all the effort to save his hide."  Kansas Kate answered, clearly not really happy about not knowing, but she had made her choice.  She was here after all.
Albert Cooper
 player, 360 posts
 Gun Wizzerd
 P5 T6 W0 F0 W0 R3 B3 L0
Mon 25 Nov 2019
at 21:48
Re: VII - The Pass
Albert nodded. "Well, if he did perish while doin' good like that, only so mad ya can be, right? Dangerous business we're all in right now. Bein' saved one day ain't no proof against the next."
Bryan Lee
 player, 366 posts
 Texas Ranger (11/20 PP)
 P7 T6 W0 F0 W3 R1 B1 L1
Mon 25 Nov 2019
at 22:29
Re: VII - The Pass
"I think that Dolan knows more than he's lettin' on regardin' O'Folliard. He mentioned to me during our altercation that he had some knowledge of that. I reckon I can get it out of him once we're done up here. I mentioned it to Bonney, and I'm sure he'll spread the word among his people before long," he said.

"Anyway, my guess is that even when we're done with the Owl Witch up here, there's gonna be a...a time of reckoning...in Lincoln, I suppose you could call it. Folks that've been in power ain't gonna give it up easy."
Kansas Kate
 player, 395 posts
 Hot words and cold slabs
 P6 T9 W0 F0 W3 R2 B1 L#
Tue 26 Nov 2019
at 01:22
Re: VII - The Pass
Kansas Kate did something... disturbing.  She smiled.  A genuine smile.  Her raspy voice practically purred.

"Oh ah hope they don't want ta give an' inch."  She emitted a low chuckle.  "More'n anythin', ah hope that."
Tamsin River
 player, 175 posts
 Flower Power
 P4 T5 W0 F0 W0 R3 B2 L0
Thu 28 Nov 2019
at 12:31
Re: VII - The Pass
“Sounds like I’ll be busy. You know, I only intended to pick up some herbs that I was running low on and yet...” Tamsin gestures at the group, as if saying here we are. “This has actually been more interesting than the plants.”
Dr. Ezekiel Q. Wayland
 player, 102 posts
 Have Science.Will Travel.
 P4 T5/7 W0 F0 W1 R3 B1 L0
Sun 1 Dec 2019
at 06:44
Re: VII - The Pass
Dr. Wayland considered Kate's original note regarding about Death just not being what it used to.  He considered it for a long, long moment; sucking on that lemon drop.  Wordlessly, he decided to concede the point.  He had seen enough in the West to admit that such can often, horribly, be the case.

Tamsin's comment brought a wan smile, "Intahresting indeed, miss.  Ah find that Ah am living in ver-ah intahresting times...."  The Doctor cast his eye back around the creepy wasteland as they rode on conversing.  He hoped to be the first to catch sight of the next interesting thing...
Andrew Roberts
 NPC, 17 posts
 Buckshot
Sun 1 Dec 2019
at 18:53
Re: VII - The Pass
Roberts urges his mount forward, leading the group under the skeleton-like canopy of the lifeless trees, the afternoon light all but fading from view. As if in response to the crossing, a chorus of lonely howls sound from somewhere within the trees,  a welcome of sorts, or perhaps a challenge.

”This up ahead, it’s narrow,” the bounty hunter calls back, ”Bunch of low hanging branches. They were hell on the canvas covers of the wagons.”

Roberts is accurate. For the next hour, the riders are forced to contend with desiccated branches snagging at their clothing and mounts, occasionally inflicting a light scratch on an exposed arm or neck. At times, the sensation is that of clutching fingers, the hands of the long dead reaching out to grasp at the living. Progress, by necessity, is slow, the deep shadows occasionally forcing those in the lead to focus on the ground in order to see the trail clearly. The wind is still and aside from an occasional nervous nicker from one of the horses, the ride is quiet.

Eventually, the trail widens. The dead branches linger, but become far easier to avoid. Snatches of light knife through the canopy in small clusters, the gray light lending some visibility to the trek.

Perhaps another half hour passes before Roberts reins in his horse. He points up ahead. The trail twists eastward, leading up a steep slope that reaches level ground roughly forty feet above. The rise holds a fair amount of loose, dry earth which is littered with pieces of caliche. The dead foliage stands tall and straight on each side, the tightly grouped trunks resembling a wall of shadow.

”It took time gettin’ the wagons up this, but we managed,” Roberts reports, ”Just take it slow. Easy for a horse to lose its footing.”

OOC: I’ll need everyone to provide me with a Riding roll. You can forego the roll if you wish to dismount and lead your horse up the rise.
Bryan Lee
 player, 367 posts
 Texas Ranger (11/20 PP)
 P7 T6 W0 F0 W3 R1 B1 L1
Mon 2 Dec 2019
at 03:20
Re: VII - The Pass
The Ranger was a fair rider at best; it hadn't been a skill that was much use to him back in Shan Fan, but he had picked up a bit of it once he had come out east and the Rangers had instilled even more skill in him. He wasn't gonna put on a show doing tricks, but he could do the job.

He liked to keep his hands open just in case he had need of them, but he had made sure that the hatchet in his saddlebags was near at hand in case he needed to clear some of this brush.

OOC:

21:13, Today: Bryan Lee rolled 4,4 using d6,d6, rerolling max.  Riding.

Albert Cooper
 player, 361 posts
 Gun Wizzerd
 P5 T6 W0 F0 W0 R3 B3 L0
Mon 2 Dec 2019
at 08:42
Re: VII - The Pass
Albert dodged and weaved his way among the branches as he rode, apparently somewhat bothered by the sensation of being grabbed by the dead trees.

Fortunately for him, he'd spent a lot of time in the saddle so the additional movement didn't cause any issues for Brandy.

OOC:
00:39, Today: Albert Cooper rolled 9,1 using d6,d6, rerolling max with rolls of (6+3)9,1.  Riding.

Kansas Kate
 player, 396 posts
 Hot words and cold slabs
 P6 T9 W0 F0 W3 R2 B1 L#
Tue 3 Dec 2019
at 01:24
Re: VII - The Pass
Most of Kansas' Kate riding experience was catching trains and stagecoaches or evading the law.  She knew she wasn't cut out to be cavalry, but she knew which end of the horse was a politician.

19:23, Today: Kansas Kate rolled 1,11 using d6,d6, rerolling max with rolls of 1,(6+5)11.  Riding.

Jacinta Castillo
 player, 231 posts
 Half-breed Scout
 P4 T5 W0 F0 W2 R1 B6 L0
Tue 3 Dec 2019
at 05:33
Re: VII - The Pass
Jacinta let her mare pick her own way up the mountain, keeping only a light hold on the reins with one hand.  She gripped her rifle tightly in her other hand as they moved, keeping her eyes on the dead forest, always looking for trouble.


Riding: 5

22:31, Today: Jacinta Castillo rolled 2,5 using d4,d6, rerolling max with rolls of 2,5.  Riding.

Tamsin River
 player, 176 posts
 Flower Power
 P4 T5 W0 F0 W0 R3 B2 L0
Tue 3 Dec 2019
at 13:15
Re: VII - The Pass
Tamsin usually feels at home under the branches, but this... this is unusual. The ride is not easy, but she manages with some soothing words to her horse.

04:46, Today: Tamsin River rolled 4,4 using d6,d6, rerolling max ((4,4)).
Albert Cooper
 player, 362 posts
 Gun Wizzerd
 P5 T6 W0 F0 W0 R3 B3 L0
Tue 3 Dec 2019
at 22:33
Re: VII - The Pass
As they wound their way through the forest, Albert passed a couple of bullets to Jacinta.

"A little extra punch, there, J-Lo. That one with the bursting rune'll make fire when it connects. Should do some extra ta one of them dedders. Other one is just like ones I've given ya in the past."


Albert had also created two for himself, which were safely loaded in his gun.

OOC: Sorry for the delay on these rolls. Based on discussion with the GM, Albert had time for 5 bullets during downtime. One of them blew up in his face (literally) but he carved four more.

14:28, Today: Albert Cooper rolled 5,5 using d8,d6, rerolling max with rolls of 5,5.  Magic bullet 5 (LFB).

14:27, Today: Albert Cooper rolled 6,3 using d8,d6, rerolling max with rolls of 6,3.  Magic bullet 4 (LFB).

14:27, Today: Albert Cooper rolled 2,5 using d8,d6, rerolling max with rolls of 2,5.  Magic bullet 3 (LFB).

14:27, Today: Albert Cooper rolled 5,2 using d8,d6, rerolling max with rolls of 5,2.  Magic bullet 2 (sac surprise, fire).

11:26, Today: Albert Cooper rolled 1,1 using d8,d6, rerolling max with rolls of 1,1.  Magic bullet (sac surprise, fire).

Andrew Roberts
 NPC, 18 posts
 Buckshot
Wed 4 Dec 2019
at 01:20
Re: VII - The Pass
Keeping in the lead, Roberts manages to urge his mount all the way up the rise, patting the horse’s neck as it reaches level ground. Keeping pace with the rest of the posse, Kearney, Bauer, and Roving Wolf head up the treacherous slope, guiding their mounts carefully over the uneven terrain.

”Any of you have blankets or a coat, you might want to put ‘em on once you’re up here,” Roberts calls down, ”It’s gonna start gettin’ a lot colder.”