XII - A Heart of Thorns.   Posted by Marshal.Group: 0
Bryan Lee
 player, 462 posts
 Texas Ranger (12/20 PP)
 P7 T6 W0 F0 W2 R1 B1 L1
Fri 21 Aug 2020
at 22:04
XII - A Heart of Thorns
Lee regarded her with a decidedly neutral expression. On his face was the same mask of serenity that he wore often, and it must have seemed especially strange that he wore it while fighting. He concentrated best and had his best focus when he pushed all emotion to the side. It wasn't that he was emotionless, just that he had refined a technique to allow him to process his emotions after when they mattered most.

When he spoke, his voice was almost disturbingly calm.

"And when you were singing like a bird, did you learn anything in return?"

This message was last edited by the player at 20:35, Sat 22 Aug 2020.

Aileen Kearney
 NPC, 63 posts
Mon 24 Aug 2020
at 14:32
XII - A Heart of Thorns
Kearney nods. ”John Kinney...Murphy didn’t hire him. Originally, he had thought to have Kinney killed, like Buckshot Roberts. Apparently, Kinney knows something about what truly happened with the wagon train. But somehow, Murphy worked things where he could blackmail Kinney and his gang to serve as his guards, at least until the war in this county is over. Kinney’s gang are very loyal to him. Not a single one has walked away over it.”

“A lot of the rest of Murphy’s men used to be rustlers. A bunch of ‘em came from the Seven Rivers Gang, who stole horses and cattle for years over in West Texas.”


She clears her throat. ”This last time, Chambers, the one I’ve always talked to, was real high on his horse about some things. Claimed there wasn’t any way for anyone to pull a fast one on Murphy. To catch him off guard. Said there’s a woman he brought in from Santa Fe, a gambler by the name of Maria Barcelo. Some call her Tules. He claimed she can read the future in the cards. Tell Murphy when to expect trouble.”

“Chambers let it slip that he worked directly for James Dolan. That he was meant to handle Mr. Murphy’s business affairs when Dolan was away. He’s from California. Never carries a gun.”


She pauses, frowning, then adds, ”When I saw Chambers today, he had a couple of fellas with him. I overheard ‘em talking about something that Murphy kept caged up on his property. They weren’t specific, but it sounded like they had to feed it, or them, which seems to be a duty no one wants. It definitely sounded like an animal of some kind that was meant to guard the property.”

“That’s all I know.”


Nearby, Tom Horn draws his rifle from its scabbard. Checking that the weapon is loaded, he lays it across his lap, fixing his gaze on Kearney.
Bryan Lee
 player, 463 posts
 Texas Ranger (12/20 PP)
 P7 T6 W0 F0 W2 R1 B1 L1
Mon 24 Aug 2020
at 15:41
XII - A Heart of Thorns
"You're a stranger in a strange land, Miss Kearney. I extended a hand of friendship to you, and accorded you a measure of trust. I appreciate the things you've done along with us; they've taken no small measure of bravery. But all the same, you've provided intelligence to Murphy's criminal enterprise on my operation. I can see why you did it, but all the same, I'm not sure how far that you can be trusted going forward," he said.

"You've given us some information, and it'd be a lot more meaningful if you'd come to us with the situation than being caught red handed. You've had opportunities to do so. You might have provided some false information to them, but then again, you might not. That said, ain't none of us a judge to hear you for what you've done. We will likely need a trial for that with a jury of your peers. Folks from the town that have like you, been done wrong with Murphy, and might sympathize with you or not for your role in what's to come. That said, I don't think we can quite leave her here in the custody of your...other deputies...without giving up the game. Your thoughts, sheriff?"

He looked over to Garrett.
Albert Cooper
 player, 462 posts
 Gun Wizzerd
 P5 T6 W0 F0 W1 R3 B4 L0
Mon 24 Aug 2020
at 16:22
XII - A Heart of Thorns
Albert was mostly glad to see his uncle at Ike Ellis' when he arrived. Some part of him had been hoping that Henry might sit this one out, but that really wasn't like Albert's uncle. The fellow wouldn't let others take part in something dangerous while hiding out.

The younger Cooper approached the group of cowboys. "Howdy fellas, thanks fer comin'. Y'all know what we're up against. I think we'll be doin' some plannin' here shortly, once we've solved the situation with the mustanger."

Albert turned to observe the interaction, but wasn't keen on stepping in since Bryan seemed to have things well in hand. Instead he made sure that Brandy had water and feed, then took a cup of coffee to himself. Albert looked at the dark liquid and thought about how it seemed to have replaced whiskey as his drink of choice since returning from Roswell.
Jacinta Castillo
 player, 305 posts
 Half-breed Scout
 P4 T5 W0 F0 W5 R2 B7 L0
Tue 25 Aug 2020
at 07:31
XII - A Heart of Thorns
Jacinta frowned at Kearney's story, giving the mustanger a flat look of disgust.  Before they could haul her away, she spit on the ground and turned her horse, not even sparing the woman another glance.  The scout had known betrayal and heartbreak before, and thought little of those that caused such pain.  She wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but she was loyal, and wouldn't have made the same decision if she'd been in the woman's place.  Those that threatened the ones you love never kept their word.  She'd learned that the hard way.  Better to die with dignity than live a traitorous coward.

Sending her horse pacing a short distance away, she accepted a mug of black coffee from one of the helpful volunteers and leaned against her saddle horn as she nursed it.
Patrick Garrett
 NPC, 18 posts
Tue 25 Aug 2020
at 17:16
XII - A Heart of Thorns
Garrett motions for one of his deputies. ”Mr. Bell, I want you to take Miss Kearney here and ride straight for Roswell. You need food for the trail, get it from Renata Montano and assure her I’ll be by to settle up with her in short order.”

“At Roswell, pay a visit to the garrison. Give Captain Ayuso my compliments and ask that we use one of the cells in her guardhouse for two, three days at most. Let her know that any costs for Miss Kearney’s stay will be shouldered by Lincoln County. Explain that Miss Kearney is suspected of assisting a known lawbreaker, one that my office, along with the Texas Rangers, are in the process of bringing into custody.”


Bell, a wiry man, nods in understanding.

”Go as quick as you can. I’d like to have her clear of town before we call on Mr. Murphy.”

Bell efficiently uses a length of rope to hitch Kearney’s horse to his own, then leads her out of the stable yard and into the night.
Josiah Scurlock
 NPC, 26 posts
 Doc
Tue 25 Aug 2020
at 17:16
XII - A Heart of Thorns
As the deputy departs with his prisoner, the remainder of the Regulators quietly enter the yard on horseback. William Bonney halts, watching Kearney be led away, before looking to Bryan Lee with a somber expression and giving the Ranger a nod.

Doc Scurlock is one of the first to dismount, politely waving away the offer of a cup of coffee. Looking to Lee and the Sheriff, he says, ”We circled close to Murphy’s spread earlier. Not near enough to see the house or anythin’, but we did spy a group of Murphy’s riders, maybe six all told, headin’ west toward Dowlin Mill, or maybe Angus.”
Marshal
 GM, 774 posts
 W0 R2 B2
Tue 25 Aug 2020
at 17:17
XII - A Heart of Thorns
One of Henry Cooper’s cowboys, August Hurley, grins at his boss’s nephew. ”Thing is, Albert, we already got a strategy worked out. All of us, we know how good you are with a gun, so we just figured we’d keep back behind you when we rode over to Murphy’s place.”

He and a couple of his fellow hands laugh. ”I’m kiddin’ o’ course. We’re all ready to do our part to see to it that Murphy cain’t make any more folks’ lives hell. It’s needed doin’ for a long old time. But I ain’t fibbin’ neither. All of us, we’re sure happy you’re comin’ along.”
Lena Bauer
 NPC, 100 posts
Tue 25 Aug 2020
at 17:17
XII - A Heart of Thorns
Bauer nudges her mount, prompting it to draw close to Castillo. ”I’m real sorry,” she tells the scout, ”The whole time I was ridin’ out that way, I was hopin’ the whole thing was lie. A rumor someone started to stir up trouble.”

She shakes her head. ”She could’ve told us. We could’ve helped her.”
Bryan Lee
 player, 464 posts
 Texas Ranger (12/20 PP)
 P7 T6 W0 F0 W2 R1 B1 L1
Tue 25 Aug 2020
at 18:46
XII - A Heart of Thorns
Before the deputy left, Lee had his own words for him. "Mr. Bell, don't underestimate her. Keep those bindings tight all the way to Roswell and don't let her talk you into any loosening of those restrictions. And please give her this for me." He removed a piece of paper from his coat and a pencil, scrawling a few words, then folding it and handing it over to Bell.


He nodded to Bonney in greeting as he arrived.

"Then it seems our spy did us a small bit of kindness, Mr. Scurlock. Apparently she passed word to Murphy that we'd be meeting to plan some mess in Angus tonight, and that we were planning some kinda attack next week. But Murphy has a pet fortune teller that predicts trouble for him, so if there's any truth to that mumbo jumbo he might expect us anyway and merely dispatched those others as a precaution. They'll find it empty soon enough, so if we wanna take advantage of that, we'll want to move soon. And lay an ambush for those six when they make back to Murphy's ranch so we don't get flanked."

Whenever it was clear that Kearney was well and gone, he addressed the group with what they had learned.

"Every rat has a hole, ladies and gentlemen, even ones that fancy themselves powerful. Turns out the chief rat had an escape route built from his house. In the northernmost wall of his cellar, there's a door leading into a tunnel that leads up to the stables behind the house. Goin' into the stables, there's a trap door in the last stall on the left. There's no horse in there, but he's got a few men guarding it. If we make a strong push on the house, our rat might flee into that tunnel so we don't wanna leave that free."

He shook his head for a moment, and then summarized what Kearney had shared with them.

"A few more things to note that we've learned. First is that Murphy is more than he seems, and I don't know how better to put it than that. He'll be very capable in a fight. Second is that he'll have hostages for certain. Desiree Thornton. Miss Kearney's kin from San Patricio. Heaven knows who else. I'd like to see these people out safely. So take a care with your aim if they're involved in the mix. My guess is that they're in his house, so I do mean to go in there and fish 'em out if I can get the chance."
Dr. Ezekiel Q. Wayland
 player, 156 posts
 Have Science.Will Travel.
 P4 T5/7 W0 F0 W1 R4 B1 L0
Wed 26 Aug 2020
at 00:22
XII - A Heart of Thorns
Dr. Wayland had, upon arrival, gone to inquire about a delivery of all things.  One of Ellis' hands helped the scientist retrieve said package.  Carefully.  Box in hand, he moved himself to a spot a good distance away from most.  He could still hear the proceedings.  A tsk tsk was offered in bland sympathy to the plight of the mustanger.  But Wayland had bigger concerns that required his attention.  Carefully, focused attention.  Best not to get too distracted...

The crate, for any who were curious, contained quite a few of those very particularly shaped paper-wrapped sticks.  Nothing else really looked like dynamite.  Which was handy for letting the curious understand why some distance might be important.  He set to his work with wire and fuses, whistling softly.
Jacinta Castillo
 player, 306 posts
 Half-breed Scout
 P4 T5 W0 F0 W5 R2 B7 L0
Thu 27 Aug 2020
at 04:27
XII - A Heart of Thorns
Jacinta nodded at Bauer, eyes flitting briefly to the group leading Kearney off.  "Si, she should have, but didn't.  Maybe it was a noble act to protect her family, or maybe it was cowardice, but she didn't have to face the decision alone.  Hoped it was rumor, too, but didn't lean on it too heavily.  Bad thing is, now we're down a gun.  She was a good shot, too.  Could have let her come along to redeem herself, help rescue or avenge her family, but wouldn't be able to trust her."
Patrick Garrett
 NPC, 19 posts
Fri 28 Aug 2020
at 01:55
XII - A Heart of Thorns
”When it comes to strange things out here on the frontier, there’s not too much I need convincing on,” Garrett says, ”but seein’ the future. That one I’m prone to disbelieve. I think if Murphy himself thought it was truth, he wouldn’t have gone to so much trouble to recruit a spy.”

“But the rest of it? I reckon it needs to be heeded. And even if that gambler’s no fortune teller, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a few bad tricks up her sleeve.”

Tom Horn
 NPC, 8 posts
Fri 28 Aug 2020
at 01:55
XII - A Heart of Thorns
Horn moves to the center of the gathering, a broken branch in one hand. Using the sharp end, he draws a crude map in the dirt.

”This’s the basic layout. Every ‘X’ is a door.” Pointing to each structure in turn, he identifies it. ”Main house is two stories. Has a wide balcony on the second floor facing the road that leads in. My last visit, there were about a dozen folk out on the grounds keepin’ watch.”


Albert Cooper
 player, 463 posts
 Gun Wizzerd
 P5 T6 W0 F0 W1 R3 B4 L0
Fri 28 Aug 2020
at 04:36
XII - A Heart of Thorns
Albert chuckled at the jest from August Hurley. "I do cast a fairly wide shadow, I s'pose. Might make hidin' our numbers easy if y'all do just stay behind me." He tipped his head to the side. "Mebbe stay behind double-kay as well. She's takin' ta sprayin' a lotta lead last I seen. Prolly makes her life easier if she don't gotta worry 'bout hittin' nobody she cares 'bout."

The gun wizard nodded at the intel that Bryan shared. He did point out that the escape tunnel might work both ways. Maybe. "Course that rat tunnel might be another way in fer us. Though who knows - might be locked on the other side."

He looked at the map drawn in the dirt. "What sorta cover is there approachin' these buildins'?"
Tom Horn
 NPC, 9 posts
Fri 28 Aug 2020
at 17:56
XII - A Heart of Thorns
”Not hardly any,” Horns answers, ”There’s some scattered mesquite, some sagebrush. A small clump of spruce a little bit south of the main house. Nothing that’s going to stop a bullet. It looks like the land was deliberately cleared some years back.”

He points to the barn and wellhouse with his stick. ”The ranch looks like it sits in an old wash. I think there was water here a long time ago. There’s a slope a little west of the barn. It’s not especially tall, but when I scouted the place, at night I never saw the barn or wellhouse lit up, unless someone carried a lantern out there to fetch something. It’s darker than the rest of the property. I think if you moved in quiet after sunset, staying in line with the slope, you could get to that side of the headquarters without being seen.”
Bryan Lee
 player, 466 posts
 Texas Ranger (12/20 PP)
 P7 T6 W0 F0 W2 R1 B1 L1
Mon 31 Aug 2020
at 21:22
XII - A Heart of Thorns
During the conversation, Lee had pulled a thin, leatherbound book imprinted with what would be to most inscrutable Chinese characters, some of which were fading, out of his duster pocket. Many had seen him perusing it during breaks on the journey back to Lincoln, when they stopped to feed and water the horses. He examined a few of the pages, nodded, and returned it to where he had retrieved it from.

"I'd rather there have not been a spy, but intentionally or not, Miss Kearney has created a few opportunities that we can exploit. First, she planted one lie in our favor; the story about us meeting in Angus. We can momentarily split their forces and seize the moment if we move quickly. It at the very least conveys that we aren't ready to act - if we act soon, we will get a jump on Murphy," he said.

"Second, she has created a set of stories about us and our capabilities, allowing Murphy to perhaps craft a strategy around what we present. Our approach in Angus was unsubtle, and that is likely what Murphy will expect to here. We should play into his expectations - and wait for the opportunity to exploit them. We have more folk here than he's likely counted on."

"Along those lines, we should present ourselves where he expects and then strike where he doesn't expect us. I can, along with a few others, take the main road where he has a clear view of us coming. We can face down any resistance coming our way. But we should also have a group that's a little quieter coming to flank him - going right for the stables, based on what we've learned from the woman who built the place. Take down people that he has on the grounds elsewhere from behind while we're makin' the Big Show up front. Push him down into his hidey hole, and then take him when he tries to come up."

He shook his head. "It won't be that easy, of course. He's got hostages. Desiree Thornton for one. Miss Kearney's relations from San Patricio as well, perhaps. God only knows who else. Also, I'm gonna need to have a vial of hot tallow on hand. Presumably Murphy has...you could call it an allergy to tallow. If I could get some in him, I think it could help subdue him. Any idea where I could scare some up?"

This message was last edited by the player at 21:28, Mon 31 Aug 2020.

Marshal
 GM, 777 posts
 W2 R2 B2
Tue 1 Sep 2020
at 13:57
XII - A Heart of Thorns
As Lee is speaking, several become aware of the presence of half a dozen Mescalero warriors who have arrived at the periphery of the gathering. Along with them are Andrew Roberts and Shabbakasha. All of the new arrivals remain silent, listening intently to the discussion at hand.
Henry McCarty
 NPC, 29 posts
 William Bonney
 Billy the Kid
Tue 1 Sep 2020
at 13:57
XII - A Heart of Thorns
”Just wonderin’, Ranger,” Bonney says, ”Do you think some kind of distraction might prove helpful? I’m kinda thinkin’ the more we scatter Murphy’s people, the better. If it’s dark enough to sneak over there, maybe one of us could light up the wellhouse, or even the barn, provided there weren’t any animals inside.”
Jacinta Castillo
 player, 307 posts
 Half-breed Scout
 P4 T5 W0 F0 W5 R2 B7 L0
Wed 2 Sep 2020
at 05:36
XII - A Heart of Thorns
"I'm fairly good at moving quietly, when needed," she said to Bonney.  Her attention shifted back to Lee.  "You're thinking we use his tunnel to our advantage and gain access through the house in that fashion?"
Bryan Lee
 player, 467 posts
 Texas Ranger (12/20 PP)
 P7 T6 W0 F0 W2 R1 B1 L1
Fri 4 Sep 2020
at 02:46
XII - A Heart of Thorns
"I do think a distraction would be tremendously helpful, Mr. Bonney, if we can be assured that there aren't any hostages in that building," he said. He nodded in greeting to the Roberts and the Mescalero who had joined him.

He nodded to Jacinta. "I do think we could gain access through that tunnel, or at least cut off retreat."

He looked over to the Mescalero, and asked their opinion on things. "Your people are masters at stealth warfare. What approach would you take on this place?" he gestured to the map.
Andrew Roberts
 NPC, 39 posts
 Buckshot
Sun 6 Sep 2020
at 19:51
XII - A Heart of Thorns
Roberts converses with his allies quietly, then returns his attention to the map in the dirt. ”Everything that has been suggested is sound. A handful making a direct attack, while others destroy one of the buildings to the west. The goal of all of it should be to get a few into the house itself. To make use of the passageway to enter the home and confront Murphy. If he is killed, everything else will fall into disarray.”

He points to the bunkhouse on the map. ”There should be some of us who are posted near here before the attack begins. There will almost certainly be some of Murphy’s people here resting, who won’t join the fight until they are alerted. We should have some ready to ambush them.”
Shabbakasha
 NPC, 41 posts
 Roving Wolf
Sun 6 Sep 2020
at 19:52
XII - A Heart of Thorns
”If any enter the house early, they should be cautious,” Roving Wolf adds, ”Besides Murphy himself, the most capable of those that guard him will be waiting inside.”
Dr. Ezekiel Q. Wayland
 player, 164 posts
 Have Science.Will Travel.
 P4 T5/7 W0 F0 W1 R3 B1 L0
Sun 13 Sep 2020
at 04:18
XII - A Heart of Thorns

Dr. Wayland paused his explosive work while doing his best to listen in on the planning and discussions.  He set his finished bundle aside and quickly strode over to the bags that he had brought on the ride out to the ranch, "Murphy! Right...  Ah had almost fohgotten...  Caught up in other explosive considerations..."  From his bag he withdraws what looks to be a small brass teakettle with some...modifications at the base.  A clockwork and wire apparatus, strapped on with yet more copper wires.  Not elegant and looks to have been cobbled in a bit of a rush.

The kettle-gizmo is brought over to the group, but Lee in particular, "Ah believe theah was mention of a need to heat tallow in a timely fashion...."  The man of science offered out the gizmo, indicating the key, "Used a spa-ah electrical genahrator, such as is used on the lightning gun.  The current through the resisting wi-ahs will heat the contents rathah rapidly."
Kansas Kate
 player, 535 posts
 Hot words and cold slabs
 P6 T5 W0 F0 W0 R1 B0 L#
Tue 15 Sep 2020
at 00:29
XII - A Heart of Thorns
Kansas Kate grumbled.  "It's fine, might as well pinch him off.  Though I could use a patchin'.  Mah plan didn't go well at'all.  But sech were always th' risk, an' no one got hurt but me."