"Here There Be Vampires" A Promise City, Arizona Story Hour - Page 7
Page 7 of 14 FirstFirst 1234567891011121314 LastLast
Results 61 to 70 of 135
  1. #61
    Ruby turns back to Jake with a confused look on her face. "I wonder why Colin ran out of here scared. Maybe he's still hurt?" She sighs and fights against the panicky feelings that are trying to rise up. "But he knows we're here..." She shivers as she looks at the slightly opened window, remembering her own longings, her dreams, her fear and she starts to grow pale.

    When Colleen leaves the room Jake starts searching about. "No I wasn't interested in bedding Colleen, there is something strange here." He shakes his head at Ruby and continues. "I don't know why he is scared. I wonder why exactly, or more importantly who makes him scared." Jake looks under the bed, opens the remaining drawers and then examines the window for any additional clues. "He recognized at least one of us then. Or..." Jake stops and looks at Ruby. "Is it possible he is scared of someone else down stairs?"

    "I didn't really think you wanted to bed her," Ruby says, kicking at some dust on the floor.

    "Yes, it's possible it's someone else. Especially that Mr. O'Neil. Something is up with him. He was lying about not knowing how to play cards." Ruby watches Jake search around the room. "With this," she holds up some red hair, "It's kinda hard to not be noticed."

    "Jake," Ruby calls his name to get his attention, "I'm getting more nervous now." She starts biting on her lip as her bad memories are starting to win her back over.

    He stops and looks up. "I know." He tries to give her a look that is compassionate and reassuring. He's not sure if it was. "Something is strange and I want to know what. There is an edge here somewhere, I just don't know what it is."

    Minerva and Nanuet enter the room in time to find Jake searching and Ruby looking very nervous. Minerva looks around at all the dust, the unused bed and the ancient unused chamber pot. "It doesn't appear as though this room has been used by anyone in quite a while. I wonder what they were doing in here." Minerva joins in the search. Looking for possible hidden exits out of the room, she checks the walls and behind the bureau but finds none.

    "Meirde! I didn't see him come down the stairs. He probably left the same way that he left Ruby's room. How are we supposed to catch him if he can disappear into thin air?" Minerva walks over to the window and looks out searching for the moon.

    Quickly and quietly Jake says, "We need to look at another room and see if it looks like this one, basically unused. Maddie said the door was enchanted, and Greely fumbled with it a bit before opening it. It would be good to know why. Don't close it yet," he says looking at Ruby, "but can you see if it looks like the mechanical lock will engage when we do? I wonder if the enchantment keeps this room private, and the thing hanging around Greely's neck is the real key. I wouldn't like the implication if Greely was involved. Though it could be that good paying customers are just treated well. When we are done in here and everyone is out, close the door and see if it will reopen."

    "Another thing, O'Neil is looking for not just a book but THE book. No one would normally be that specific about finding Hoyle’s 1st edition. He is looking for a particular book for who knows what reason."

    "It must be a code or something. Or he is looking for someone who he knows has one,” Ruby says.

    Jake stops and looks at all three of them. "Colleen said Turner was afraid. I'll ask Greely if O'Neil was here when Turner arrived. If he was, then it is unlikely Turner is afraid of O'Neil and is worried about one of us. If O'Neil arrived after then it could be any of us. The rest of the crowd is pretty tame looking and locals, so I doubt it’s them." Jake scratches his beard, "Did you think of anything else?"

    "What book are you referring to?" Minerva asks prompting Jake to explain Ruby's conversation with O'Neil. He said, "I don't want to embarrass myself, figured I would read up a bit before getting my feet wet. Heard that "Hoyle's Book of Games" was the best source out there, especially the 1st edition.

    Minerva listens with interest as Jake explains that O'Neil continued to express interest in obtaining the book later in their conversation even though Ruby had offered to teach him to play. "It doesn't strike me as unusual that he would want to own a copy of the book. But perhaps there is something in the book that he is looking for."

    I am at a loss as to what to do next. I wish that we were able to get into his room at the boarding house earlier. Perhaps one of us should rent a room for the night there," she says thinking aloud as she continues to nervously watch the night sky. "Did you notice all the bats earlier this evening when we were walking over here? It seems a bit odd does it not?"

    Nanuet says, "They must have a place to live nearby, a cave or something, but I have never seen that many at one time before. They are drawn here for some reason, perhaps an unnaturally abundant food supply? From what I remember though they don't hunt or generally fly in large groups. Something must have disturbed their nesting area. As far as the room at the boarding house goes I am very hesitant about splitting the group up and having someone stay there when we think that he lives there. That is begging for trouble. Perhaps we can get the law involved and get the room opened that way?"

    Minerva says, "Hmmm, Maybe we should find out where they came from? We must not forget that two other unfortunate souls have risen from their graves as well. They will be looking for a place to hide during the day. A dark cave would serve their purpose. And I wasn't considering spending the night at the boarding house. Just using it as a means to gain entrance into Colin's room.”

    As the companions are having their conversation they hear another door further down the hallway open. They can hear a man and woman laughing and carrying on with lewd comments. The "couple" makes their way past the room that the group is in and continues past and down the stairs. They appear to be in a drunken or drugged stupor as they hold each other up and wobble down the steps.

    Minerva steps out into the hall and watches the couple for a moment to see if she recognizes them, especially the man. She makes her way over to the room that they just exited and tries the door knob.

    The door is indeed unlocked and it swings open. This room is furnished the same as the one Minerva was standing in but not as tidy. The bed has certainly been used as the linens are strewn about the room. The chamber pot is tipped over, it's contents spilled on the floor. An empty whiskey bottle is also among the mess as well as a set of women’s undergarments.

    The smell assails Minerva's nostrils causing her to wrinkle her nose in distaste. She moves around the puddle on the floor. "Ugh, Disgusting." she kicks the bed linens and clothing with the toe of her boot and gingerly moves items out of her way as she searches the room. She finds a plate of half eaten food lying underneath the blankets as well as a small key.

    Minerva picks up the key and looks around the room in search of something that the key might fit. She also searches the clothes on the floor and searches under the bed and in the drawers.

    The key looks like it will probably fit in the door. Searching the underclothes and under the bed reveals nothing. The dresser drawers have a pouch of chewing tobacco, a mismatched pair of socks, and a dime store novel missing its cover. Minerva takes the key and tries the other doors on the upper floor, but it only fits the door to the room she found it in.

    Back in Colleen’s room, Ruby tries to take a look at the door. First she concentrates her special ability on the door, seeing if she can sense where the magic is concentrated or what type it is. Next she moves on to the mechanical part, trying to do what Jake asked, finding out if the door was set to close behind them or not.

    Ruby finds that her special sight is failing her as she examines the door. The harder she tries her head begins to throb. The lock itself appears to be normal in it's mechanical nature and can be locked from inside the room or from the key outside the room only.

    Ruby puts a hand to her head while she keeps trying to concentrate. Finally she staggers slightly and has to hold onto the door frame to keep herself standing. "Ooohh, that's not nice..." she says. "Something about the door..."

    She tries to shake it off and says, "I don't notice anything about the locks. I can't tell any special properties. It might be like you said Ja.. Alstair... and that with the special key you can get into a special room, just like..." Suddenly her mouth snaps shut and she covers her mouth. She says quickly, "I don't see anything," and rubs her head gently while continuing to hold herself up.

    Jake moves over to her quickly and takes gentle hold of one arm. "What's wrong? Are you ill?"

    Rub smiles meekly. "I'll be fine," she waves him off, "Just something strange about the you-know-what on the door. Let's find out if the others found out anything."

    Ruby steps out the door and sees Minerva trying a key is some doors. She looks back to Jake, "We need to go somewhere we can all be together and make a plan. We have to speak to that man who is downstairs privately or break into Turner's room or something. But we should do it together. It's probably not safe for some of us to be downstairs."

    Jake replies, "I'll talk to Greely right now and then chat with O'Neil for a moment. Maybe the smartest thing is to get hotel rooms and get together unseen there."

    "Alright darling. But kiss me before you leave me."

    He does and holds her perhaps over long. "Stay here with Nanuet and Minerva." Jake starts to release her. "Please?"

    "Yes, I will," she says genuinely. "Be careful. I wouldn't want something bad happening to my husband. Especially since I don't get him that way for too long." Ruby smiles up at Jake. Jake nods and smiles back, then walks down the stairway to speak to Greely.

    * * * * * * *

    Jake reaches Greely and asks, "When Turner came tonight, was O'Neil, the man with the black coat over there, already here or did he show up after Turner went upstairs?"

    Greely answers, "Mr. O'Neil was already here when Mr. Turner showed up. Why?"

    "Colleen said something strange, perhaps she was just over wrought. Do you know if Turner and O'Neil know each other?"

    "Mr. Jacobs," Greely responds, "You have a lot of questions. If Mr. Turner and Mr. O'Neil know each other they would have only met over the past couple of days."

    "And you rented your prostitute out to someone who is destroying her, so let us not worry about how many questions I ask." Jake raises an eyebrow at him. "Why do you say they only would have met over the past couple of days?"

    Mr. Greely's face starts to turn red. "You assume too much Mr. Jacobs. She is not my prostitute, as you put it. You have some nerve coming in here and accusing me of such things. I care about these girls and try to protect as much as I can. I would as soon as sell one of them as you would sell your wife."

    "To answer your question," he spits out, "O'Neil has only been here for a week and Mr. Turner only returned to town a couple of days ago. Now if you will excuse me," his anger still rising, "I have work to do." He stomps off and heads into the back room.

    "Heh." Jake seems pleased with himself and walks over to see Mr O'Neil.

    Chester feels that pretending not to know the others is counter-productive, so he joins them upstairs. "What did you guys find out?"

    Ruby whispers, "I thought we weren't supposed to know you?" Then she explains what they have learned and that Jake was going to speak to Greely then they were all going to get rooms at the hotel.

    Chester whispers back, "Change of plan. I figure it won't take long for the locals to find out who we are. Anyway, it looks like he's flown the coop. Should we try to get into his room now?"

    "What about Kate," Ruby whispers back frantically, "She's all alone downstairs..."

    "If you have things in hand here, I'll go back downstairs. I'll keep an eye on her, but I won't ruin her disguise. OK?" Chester walks back to the bar and orders another beer. He scans the room for Maddie and finds her.

    Ruby fidgets as she looks back and forth between Minerva to Nanuet. "Let's go downstairs. I don't want to be up in here anymore..." She glances nervously at the window.

    "I think that is a good idea,” Minerva says. “I don't think we're doing much up here." she says and puts the key in her pocket and follows Ruby down the stairs. Nanuet walks over and closes the window tightly. He checks for a lock and slides the window lock shut then follows the ladies downstairs.

    "Where are you staying Jackie,” Jake asks the man as he approaches his table downstairs. “Perhaps we can meet for breakfast. I have something to discuss that you might find interesting."

    "I'm staying in the Gorden Hotel, second floor," he replies casually. "What is it you want to discuss?" He smiles cockily, "And are you bringing that pretty card playing wife of yours?"

    "Constance and I are rarely parted." Jake leans in closely and whispers coldly. "Only one person ever gets to call me baby Mr. O'Neil. Do that again, and I'll forget you bought me a drink." Jake stands straight again. "Thanks for the drink, breakfast will be on me. We'll talk about opportunities in this little town." Jake tips his hat and smiles before turning and looking for around for the others.

    When Chester came back downstairs, Maddie made her way over. "Mr. Martin? I wondered if you might be going over to the hotel soon? I'm quite tired and that boarding house didn't look fit for a rat. But the way people talk here I get the idea it wouldn't be safe for me to walk alone."

    Jake pipes up after Maddie speaks, "If you two wouldn't mind, the Missus and I will be heading over to the hotel too and would join you."

    Chester says, "The more the merrier, Mr. Jacobs. Are the other woman and her Indian friend also going there, too?"

    "Thank you. Seems I had good luck, meeting you all on the train. I thought I would stay with my family tonight, but..." she stopped and looked around the room. "Well, I can see why maybe they aren't here anymore."

    Ruby puts on a brave face and saunters over to Jake. She slips her arm through his, "I'm getting sleepy. Can we leave soon?"

    Jake nods to his wife and moves towards their piled luggage. He pretends to move somethings around while changing the loads in his sawed off shot gun to normal ones. "The bags are ready," he says, "anybody else going to the hotel?"

    Maddie picked up her own bag, which she had been taking with her from place to place in the saloon. "Yes, I'm exhausted."

    Nanuet follows suit and begins picking up his bags. "Minerva, are you ready to go? I wanted to get these bags unpacked anyways, been dragging them all over town."

    Ruby turns back to Mr. O'Neil. "Good night. It was a pleasure meeting you," as she smiles at him. "Perhaps more card lessons are in order if you'll be around."

    "Si, I am ready. Let me help you with some of that." Minerva takes some bags to free up one of his arms and heads for the door with one hand on her gun under her skirt.

    Jacky O'Neil gets up from his seat and walks over to Ruby kissing her hand again. "I'll be around at least for a while Miss Constance. I think we have a date for breakfast anyways, so I'll see you then." he says with a wink.

    Ruby acts surprised, "Oh we do? My, isn't that a nice surprise. I'm normally not an early riser but I suppose you have to make exceptions some time, right?" She smiles again. "Good night."

    As she walks out she looks back at him over her shoulder and flashes her dazzling smile and waits for Jake and the others.

    Jake fumes a bit and the turns away from O'Neil. He uncaps the water Minerva gave him and spills some on his right hand. He conceals the bottle in his left hand and offers his right hand to O'Neil. "It is a date then."

    Jacky shakes Jakes hand firmly. His forehead crumples a bit when he clasps Jake's hand in his own and he snatches a handkerchief and quickly wipes the water off his hand. He starts to say something then stops and thinks for a moment. "Yes, it's a date, I should be getting in around breakfast time, see you then."

  2. #62
    The group heads the half a block to The Gordon Hotel. The grand three story building almost looks out of place in this little town. It has been maintained better than most of the other buildings around town and looks almost inviting. They are greeted by a man who introduces himself as Victor Bishop, the owner of the hotel.

    "Plenty of room for you folks, $4 a night per person. Includes bedding, stabling and breakfast, served promptly at 7:00 AM. How many rooms will you be wanting?"

    "Minerva steps forward. I believe that we will be needing 4 rooms."

    Mr. Bishop turns to the wall behind him and takes down 4 keys then calls to a couple young men who help everyone with their bags. "Enjoy your stay, if you need anything just wander by the front desk. If no one is here just ring this bell and myself or someone else will come running." he says holding up a small brass bell.

    Maddie gave him a bright smile. "One for myself please, sir. And if I might ask I came looking for family of mine. John and Maud Smith? Might they have stayed here in the last few weeks?"

    "I don't recall anyone by that name" he takes out a book and looks it over carefully. "Didn't register anyone by that name either, but then again I don't trouble with the register that much anymore, only if folks look like ruffians, which I am sure your family didn't ma'am. Sorry."

    "I see. Thank you, sir. I guess they didn't come through here. Thanks to all of you for taking care of me."

    Jake nods and lets them take the bags but not the bundle of long arms. "Where is everyone's rooms?"

    Victor Bishop had handed over 4 keys each with little numbers on them. The keys read 208, 209, 301 and 302.

    "Two rooms on the second floor, two more upstairs on the third floor. I like to keep it spread out for the cleaning staff." Bishop replies.

    Minerva takes the keys and keeps 208. she hands 209 to Jake, 301 to Maddie and 302 to Chester. As she hands them their keys she whispers to each. "We'll meet in Chester's room."

    "OK. Just knock first. Who knows who the other guests are." Chester says.

    Kate took the key from Miss Florencia, nodded, and started the hike up the stairs to her room.

    "Please feel that we are your friends, Senorita. Since you cannot locate your family you would be much safer if you stayed with us." Minerva says amicably.

    "Now see, that is one of the things I love about you my Spanish rose, you are so kind," Nanuet says giving her a squeeze. "No wonder the people back home received you so warmly."

    "Oh, I consider everyone to be a friend I just haven't met yet," Maddie answered and followed Chester up the stairs. She stowed her things in the room and sat down for a few minutes, waiting for the activity to clear up before going to Chester's room.

    The young men load the luggage onto a dumbwaiter and one runs upstairs while the other stays downstairs to attend to the next load.

    Nanuet puts his arm around Minerva's waist glad to finally be settling down someplace where he can gather his thoughts. He always liked to take a place in a bit before getting down to the action but everyone was on edge and with good reason. "Let's see what the room looks like, unpack our stuff and then go from there. I know I could use some freshening up."

    When all the bags are delivered, Jake tips the young man. "Excuse me, there was a young woman buried today outside town. Rumor was she was staying here. What room was she in?"

    The boy looks nervous at Jake's question. He wrings his hands and then replies "308 sir, Sally Ann was in 308 when they found her."

    "Sally Ann, huh, pretty name. I'll bet she was a pretty lady too. Did you see her? Did she go peacefully in her sleep?"

    Ruby grows pale and shivers before taking the key from Jake and walking away, heading towards their room while Jake questions the boy.

    She unlocks the door and without much fanfare collapses face down on the bed, hugging the pillow tightly.

    "I did see her sir, but I didn't look too long. She didn't have no clothes on or nuttin. She looked awful pale, but they said she died in her sleep. I ain't never ever seen anyone dead before her. Can I go now?" the boy says as he is getting fidgety.

    "Sure, son, sure. Thanks." Jake laughs to himself, Only a few years younger than me.

    He follows Ruby and sits on the bed next to her. "Take a few minutes and relax. Then we'll go meet the others."

    "Relax?" she says into the pillow. She rolls over, "You're kidding right?" But the thought occurs to her that in her jacket is a nice, friendly, relaxing little silver flask.

    "I've been funnier." He stands again and paces about the room. "I'll check the corridor, it if is clear we can head up to Chet's room then."

    As Jake checks the corridor Ruby rises off the bed. “Maybe a glass of water and then we go meet everyone.” Ruby walks over to the small table holding a pitcher of water. She pours a glass then checking that Jake isn't looking she deftly removes her little flask and pours a couple of drops in. She drinks the water down quickly with a satisfied Ahhhhh. “Alright let’s go.”

    * * * * * * *

    Chester, Maddie and one of the bellhops go up to the third floor. "These must be our rooms. Thank you." Chester tips the bellhop. He opens up his bag and checks to make sure everything is as he packed it.

    The bellhop thanks Chester for the tip and heads downstairs. He checks his bags and finds everything to be in order if not a bit jostled around from being dragged around town.

    Chester grunts in approval. While he is waiting for the others, he places one of his revolvers on the night table. Next he looks out the window. There isn't much to see since electricity hasn't arrived here.

    Considering she and Chester had packed the lightest, it was soon quiet outside her door. Kate went into the corridor, locked the door, and tucked the key into her pocket. She knocked softly on Chester's door. "Mr. Martin? It's Maddie."

    Chester opens the door with his right hand behind his back. "Come on in, Maddie. Are you as bored as I am?" Maddie enters the room. Chester closes and locks the door and puts the pistol he was holding back on the dresser.

    Minerva and Nanuet enter room 208. Minerva goes to the window and looks out before shutting the curtain on the unfriendly night. "You OK? See something out there you want to talk about?" Nanuet asks trying to comfort her.

    Minerva spins around to face him. "NO! I am most certainly NOT alright." she begins to pace back and forth in her agitation. "We are no closer to destroying this evil and time is running out. I can feel it! The evil is all around us. Nanuet I am not strong enough to face it down! None of us are!"

    Nanuet moves quickly over to Minerva and stops her pacing. He wraps his arms gently around her. "I understand you are scared, we all are. And you are right, alone none of us are strong enough to face that... that creature, but together, working together we will be stronger than him. Together we have the strength to overcome the beast and return this town to the people."

    Nanuet hears Jake and Ruby in the hallway "The others are going upstairs, we should go now" and releases Minerva from his embrace.

    "I am sorry. I shall continue to have faith in the gods and in you, Mi Amore. You are right. We WILL destroy this evil by whatever means necessary.” She hugs him tightly and takes a deep breath, then smoothes down her skirt as she smoothes her features into an unreadable mask and opens the door. With a purposeful stride walks up the stairs to Chester's room.

    Meanwhile, seeing the hallway is clear, Jake leads Ruby to Chet's room. "Mr. Martin," Jake says after he raps on the door, "The Jacobs."

    Ruby giggles, then a serious look crosses her face. "This is a bad idea though Jake."


    "Because one of us might like it," she replies seriously.

    Chester holds his index finger up to his lips then grabs his gun. "I'm coming." He opens the door and sighs in relief to see Jake and Ruby. Nanuet and Minerva come up the stairs and he lets them all in.

    Nanuet says, "Well here we all are. Now that we have had a chance to look around what do we think of Mr. Turner's home?"

    "It makes me sick!" Ruby says forcefully, "And we can't get out of here soon enough."

    "It's no wonder he travels,” Kate said, “but it's a good place to run back to when he needs to hide. Enough people to sustain him, remote enough that no one really pays attention when someone disappears or dies mysteriously. The locals care, but they don't seem to feel as if they could do anything about it. What did you all learn upstairs at the saloon?"

    Jake shrugs. "Here is a few things you all ought to know. Greely says O'Neil was in the room when Turner came in. So if Turner was afraid of someone it was one of us. I doubt he missed seeing Ruby, though I'm not sure who he is afraid of." Jake explains about the card book O'Neil is looking for and that fact that he invited him to breakfast. He also shares the state of Colleen's room. "Oh, and I put some of that holy water on my hand when I shook O'Neil's hand. He didn't scream or wince or anything, but he did notice."

    "There is something special about O'Neill. Do you think he might be hunting, like we are? Pains to keep his face hidden, cryptic comments?" Kate asked.

    "Maybe," Jake says coolly. "Or hunting like Turner."

    Ruby shivers again. "This stinks. What? You're all thinking it." She pulls on her hair and looks out the window. "Too bad we don't know which room is his. He said he would be out all night."

    "There now, my girl is thinking ...." Jake said.

    "One or the other. But if he agreed to meet you during the day it's less likely he's like Turner," Kate said.

    "How do you know he doesn't have a way to be out in the light, if he is one of those monsters?" Ruby asks.

    Chester says, "Yeah, kinda odd that he kept his Peacemaker out on the table. Like he expects trouble or just wants to scare people away."

    “Is there a way to find out?” Minerva asks. “I could attempt to detect if he is evil, but I do not think that he is. If he shows up for breakfast we will know that he is not one of Turner's growing number. Perhaps we should just ask him directly what his business is?”

    Nanuet says, "I don't need sleep, I can keep an eye out for him. Or we could take a walk by the desk. All the room keys were hanging on the wall, didn't look like there were too many other keys missing. We could certainly narrow it down."

    "Is Turner back at his home? Maybe he's afraid of us." Chester asks.

    "I think the best time to go hunting for Turner is during the daytime,” Nanuet continues. “We are pretty sure he at least doesn't like the sunlight, I mean nobody ever saw him out and about during the day back in Promise City. Maybe we stop back at the boarding house tomorrow during the day. I didn't see if that room had a back window or anohter way in but I am sure we can figure something out."

    "If we can learn where Turner's coffin is, we can visit it in daylight," Jake says to Chet. "O'Neil said he was staying on the second floor. Someone could look for the empty keys for that floor."

    "I'll go downstairs and look at the keys while you all keep talking about whatever it is you're talking about." Ruby hops off the bed and heads downstairs.

    "I agree with Nanuet,” Minerva says. “It does not make sense to go hunting in the dark. That is 'his' domain. I shall go and speak to the priest in the morning. Perhaps he can help us and that will give Jake a chance to speak with Senor O'Neil and see if he can also be of assistance."

    Chester says, "We have to be careful. Who knows how deeply Turner has sunk his claws in this town. Anyone here could be his slave."

    "Anything else we want to risk tonight? Besides breaking and entering into a guests room?" Jake pauses and then adds, "Oh, the dead girl was in 308."

    "I'm not sure how much I can help. There's only so much I can learn as Maddie without being very suspicious. And Jake, it hasn't occurred to you that he might be afraid of you? He knows you're in possession of a weapon that can hurt him. And that you have a passionate reason to use it. You didn't let your fear stop you from attacking him in Promise City, you've chased him here. If I were him I'd be more than mildly concerned."

    "It has crossed my mind. He was mighty boastful when we last parted though." If he isn't afraid of me, he doesn't quite understand how much I hate him.

    Kate nodded. "He wouldn't be the first one to talk big while trying to cover how small he feels."

    "Well, 308 just down the hall. Let's take a look. No one's staying there right now, are they?" Chester asks.

    "I don't know. Why don't you go knock?

    Ruby's been gone a while, I'm going to check on her." Jake says and lets himself out.

    * * *

    Once downstairs Ruby wanders nonchalantly to the main desk. She leans on it, and waits for the clerk to return. She squints her eyes to see the keys and makes note of which ones are missing. “Excuse me sir," she calls out. "Ru-uh, Mrs. Jacobs here of, uh, I forgot my room number."

    Ruby notices that besides the keys for 208 and 209 that the key for 201 is missing.

    "Well miss I handed out 4 keys, not sure which one you took. Let's narrow it down, are you on the 2nd or 3rd floor?"

    She runs her finger back and forth over the desk. "Um, second floor. With my husband," she giggles. "Doesn't that sound funny?"

    "Well then you are in either 208 or 209, were you in the room at the end of the hall or the one next to the end? Are you OK miss, you seem a bit out of sorts, should I send someone to get your husband?"

    Ruby giggles again. "Oh NO. My husband would be FURIOUS that I forgot which room we were in." She takes another quick peek to verify 201 is the empty room then smiles at the clerk. "Thanks for being so concerned though." She winks at him then heads back up the stairs.

    Victor scratches his head and wonders what the rest of their stay will be like. If I were married to her I wouldn't let her out of my sight! he thinks to himself.

    Instead of going to the third floor she stops in front of room 201. She checks the hallway both ways, and when she is sure no one is looking she puts an ear to it and listens. No sounds come to her from behind it.

    Still sure no one is watching, she quickly pulls her handy little tools out of her bodice and carefully and quietly tries to pick the lock on the door. Ruby works on the lock but has a hard time. She tries to force the pick and hears a dreadful 'plink' as the pick breaks off in the keyhole.

    "Dammit!" She continues to swear under her breath as she works with the other tools to get the broken piece out of the lock.

    It takes Ruby the better part of a minute and she is breaking a sweat before she is finally able to get the broken pick out of the lock. Just as she does so she hears footsteps coming towards her from downstairs.

    Ruby stands tall and hides her hands with the picks in it behind her back. An angelic innocent looking smile comes to her face as she waits to see who is coming.

  3. #63
    Chester holsters his Remington and walks over to 308. He knocks on the door. "Hello? Are you in?" When no one answers, Chester tries the doorknob, just on the off chance it's unlocked.

    Chester is surprised when the doorknob turns easily in his hand. The door swings in to reveal an eerily dark room. The bed remains unmade but there are no other signs that the room was recently occupied. The curtains rustle a bit as a breeze from the partially opened window disturbs the delicate fabric.

    He enters the room cautiously. He looks around and finds an oil lamp on the table. He lights it, then closes the door. Chester checks the room for anything odd, paying special attention to the window and under the bed.

    Chester looks around the room carefully. When he gets near the bed he kneels down and sets the oil lamp on the floor. Almost immediately something catches his eye. Some small object, no bigger in diameter than a dime is glinting in the light of the lantern. He reaches out and picks it off the floor and looks at it closely. It is a cufflink, not just any cufflink but a cufflink shaped with the letters C.T.

    As he examines the cufflink a gust of air comes through the window. The lantern sputters severely and almost falters completely before regaining it's former state of brightness.

    Chester shivers, but not from the breeze. He pockets the cufflink and reaches for the doorknob. Time to get back to the others.

    * * *

    Jake makes his way down one flight of stairs and then looks down the hallway. He sees Ruby standing and looking his way.

    When she sees Jake she breathes a sigh of relief but doesn't move. "Hello husband. I missed you." She keeps the innocent smile on her face.

    A young teenage girl reaches the top of the stairs carrying a basket of laundry. She nods to Ruby as she walks by and stops at room 205. She knocks and when there is no answer she unlocks the door with a key from a ring on her belt. She drags the laundry basket in the room and closes the door behind her.

    Ruby curls a finger for Jake to come to her. "Kiss me darling, right now."

    "You are so impetuous, my pretty little vixen." As Jake moves close he whispers, "I'm listening," and kisses her.

    Ruby kisses Jake passionately, throwing a leg up around his waist. They push back on the door, continuing to kiss passionately, while Ruby keeps an ear open for the young girl.

    After about 5 minutes the door to room 205 opens and the young girl comes out basket in hand. She giggles when she sees Jake and Ruby in the hallway and walks past them and heads back down the stairs. As she walks by Ruby extends her arm and with a slender finger she manages to free the key ring from the young maid’s belt.

    She continues to kiss Jake, maybe even a bit longer than necessary, including some moans of pleasure and some, "Oh Babys" for good measure. Once she is positive the girl is gone and they are alone, she holds up and jingles the keys in front of Jake's eyes. "My, that was pleasant."

    "Why don't we wait and see if she comes back with any more keys." Jake says grinning broadly.

    Ruby grabs him a bit roughly and kisses him for a long moment before turning her back still inside his arms she tries a key in the lock.

    Ruby smiles as the key turns the lock easily. She slowly turns the doorknob and swings the door open, being careful to keep the noise to a minimum. Inside she sees a neatly kept room full of traveling and adventuring gear of all sorts. She sees backpacks and climbing gear, a few mining tools, coils of rope, lanterns, flasks of oil and torches, and other common items. On the desk is a hand drawn map of Thomaswell sketched out with precision. There are several strange markings on the map that Ruby cannot decipher. The dresser is full of clothing, mostly rugged clothing designed for outdoor work but there is also one drawer dedicated to finer clothing including a suit. On top of the dresser there are several bottles of liquor and a shot glass which appears to be clean or not recently used. The bed is made neatly, the sheets and blanket tucked in tightly. The chest at the foot of the bed is locked.

    "Well, Mr. Cook," Ruby says slyly, "Where do we start?"

    He closes the door so no one from the hallway will see them. "Lock it. Why don't you see if you can get into the trunk? Be careful though, he seems like a slippery one. He may have made it hazardous to break into. I'll look around."

    Jake further examines the room, the floors, under the bed, the window. During which he makes frequent pauses to listen for activity in the hallway. He makes note of the type of alcohol on the dresser and then tries to memorize the map as best he can, especially the locations with strange markings.

    At least during Jake's searching there is no activity in the hallway that he can hear. There doesn't appear to be anything hidden that Jake notices. The window is closed and locked with the curtains having been closed. An empty suitcase, heavily used but of fine quality is stored under the bed. The floor is the same as in the other rooms, being hardwood and decorated with an area rug. There is nothing found under the rug.

    The alcohol on the dresser consists of a bottle of whiskey, tequila, rum and bourbon, all of high quality and from various regions. All have been opened and vary in regards to the amount of content remaining. He finds a well drawn map that appears to be to scale. It also appears to be a complete map of the town as far as Jake can tell.

    Meanwhile, Ruby checks the lock on the chest and doesn't see anything unusual about it. She deftly slips a lock pick from her bodice and sets to work opening the lock.

    Jake startles when he hears Ruby muffle a scream. He sees her eyes light up and her body stiffen. She falls over to the ground, a small plume of smoke rising from the area of the chest.

    "Mierda." Jake scrambles to the window and flings it open. He then dives to the floor to stay low and pulls Ruby away from the chest. When she is far enough away from the smoke he examines her. "Come on Ruby, talk to me."

    The small plume of smoke dissipates rather quickly, but as Jake approaches Ruby he can see scorch marks on the wooden trunk around the lock as well as on Ruby's hands. She moans as he talks to her, her breathing is shallow.

    Jake curses and takes the key ring from her. He listens to make certain that no one is in the hallway before unlocking the door. He puts the key in the outside of the door before cradling Ruby in his arms. He pulls the door closed with his foot and locks it with the hand holding up her legs. He wiggles the key free before moving quickly up to Chester's room where he kicks at the door. "Hurry up, dammit. We had a little accident."

    Minerva and Nanuet rush over to the bed where Jake has lain Ruby. "What happened?" Minerva says as she looks Ruby over. She lowers her head, focuses on her olive pendant, and says a healing prayer.

    Ruby coughs weakly, her eyes open but she is still dazed, still weak. The burn marks on her hand have lessened but not disappeared. "Ouch," Ruby coughs. She tries to open the fingers on her hands but winces. "That bastard," she coughs again.

    Kate saw the burns on Ruby's hands and quickly ran back into her room. She had a few lotions that would soothe them, although nothing particularly medicinal. She grabbed a couple bandages and ran back in. While the others questioned she began to rub a lotion on the burns.

    "No fire,” Jake says. “Just a little accident while attempting to gain entry to a trunk. Seems like Mr. O'Neil had the contents protected with some sort of enchantment."

    She picks up her head slighty, "Yeah that bastard O'Neil...," Ruby moans, "There must be something good in there..." She plops her head back down on the bed.

    "Something good doesn't have to mean something suspicious. Did you check it with any 'special sight' first?" Kate asked.

    "Nooo," Ruby moans again. "I didn't think he was smart enough for that. But when I go back... Owww," she interrupts herself as Kate puts balm on her hand, "WHEN I go back I'll find out."

    "After all," says Jake, "what fun is it getting burned up only once. I left the window open and locked the door. Maybe he'll believe the intruder came in that way." He walks over and sits next to her. "Is anything else wrong, do you hurt somewhere else?"

    "You don't have to be smart to know to protect your belongings in a strange place,” Kate said. “I would like to know if that trap was magical, and if so was it an item, or is our friend Mr. O'Neill talented?"

    Ruby tries to sit up, but realizes she is not as strong as she thinks. She tries to hide it and sit up again, obviously stressing. "I'm a little weak. I'll be alright. I want to know too, what's in there. He must be good, because I know I am." She glances around at her friends. No one had mentioned her picking the lock on the door to the boarding house, even though she had never mentioned those skills in front of some of them before.

  4. #64
    Chester returns to his room to find everyone huddled around Ruby. "What happened?"

    Jake fills Chester in on the details. "What did you find in the other room?"

    Chester replies, "All I found was a cufflink with the initials 'C.T.' on it. So chances are that Turner killed the woman. The place was spooky, too. Like it was haunted or something. Do we know if the sheriff can be trusted or not? We'll need all the help we can get."

    Jake describes what they found in O'Neil’s room. "For now assume you cannot trust the sheriff. Keep your wits about you though, maybe you can come up with a way to determine if he is free of Turners influence of not."

    Ruby sighs with the news. "All the more reason to get him sooner rather than later," she says weakly. "The sheriff seemed a bit cold. And he's swift too, he thinks I'm having Colin's baby and figured that out all on his own." Her eyes flutter for a moment, as she tries to keep them open. "Did you find anything else Chet?"

    She looks at Jake as she reaches a trembling hand out, "I have to go back. Help me please."

    Chester shakes his head. "Nope. I found that under the bed. I didn't see anything else out of place. The window was open, though. He probably left that way. Are you going to be alright getting back to your room?"

    Ruby bobs her head in a nod, "Sure, Jake will help me, I just need some rest. Aren't you sweet to ask?" she smiles.

    Chester blushes. "You take care of yourself." He turns to Jake, "Make sure she doesn't get into too much trouble."

    Kate said, "Rest is exactly what you need, Ruby. Did that chest do anything beside singe you? You seem.... faraway. As if your mind and your body are two steps apart."

    Ruby shrugs her shoulders, but they rise only slightly. "I got shocked. I don't know if anything else happened, I was on my rear end and out before I knew what hit me." She looks up at Kate, "I seem faraway? I wish I was faraway. We're much too close to you-know-you for my comfort."

    Jake helps Ruby stand and takes much of her weight with his arm around her waist. "Looks like we are off to rest. We should be fine until morning. The rest of you look after each other."

    Once outside Chester's room and down the flight of stairs Ruby uses her meager strength to try to guide Jake back to O'Neil's room. "We have to go back in, let's go now. I need you to help me."

    "You are muy loco. If that thing goes off again you will be killed! What makes you think you can open it now when you could not before?"

    "Well, for one thing, my pick is still in the lock, so I'm half way there," she grins. "Course, it doesn't hurt to try again since we'll be in there retrieving it." She tries to take a little of her weight off of Jake and is wobbly. She looks up at him with her big green eyes, "I need it back."

    "Damn you and those eyes." Jake checks the hallway to make certain they are not observed before putting the key ring in her hand. He picks her up again and cradles her in his arms in front of the door. "You are losing weight, but do not think I can carry you forever. Hurry up, and do not get either one of us killed!"

    Ruby tilts her head and kisses Jake full on the lips. "I love you baby." She reaches down and careful not to drop the keys, opens the door.

    Inside Jake turns back and locks the door again before setting Ruby down in front of the chest. She shakily falls to her knees in front of it and this time concentrates, trying to determine if there are any "special" properties.

    Ruby squints her eyes as she looks at the chest. "There is magic on here. I'm too hurt from before to try it again. I'll just take my pick back." She quickly grabs at the pick, hoping not to set off any traps again.

    Jake's eyes bulge and he can only utter, "Hermes!" in a low voice as she grabs at it, but he is too far away to stop her.

    "What's wrong?" Ruby asks calmly but with furrowed brows, pick in hand.

    "Nothing that a pint of whiskey can't cure." Jake takes the pick out of her fingers and unceremoniously drops it down the front of her dress before picking her back up. Again he listens before leaving and locking the room. Back in there room he asks, "What do we do with the keys? Should I just drop them in the stairs for the maid to find or should I find her and put them back? I don't think we should hold onto them, I'd like to minimize suspicion."

    Ruby tries to pull off her own gown, having some difficulty lifting her arms. "Ooowww," she exclaims with more wincing, "Just drop them on the stairs. She'll never know." She plops down on the bed, dress half on half off. "A pint of whiskey sounds good. Get me some too when you go down."

    He helps her remove her outer garment. Before he leaves the room he unties his second gun belt and hangs it on the bed post near Ruby. "Have a care if you decide you need that while I am out. It will blow a hole in the hotel and likely start the place on fire."

    Jake heads down stairs to the front desk and looks for the maid he had seen earlier on the way.

    The maid is no where to be found. As a matter of fact there is no one to be found at this moment. Jake listens carefully and then rings the bell, curious where the help will come from.

    There is a curtain behind the desk which covers an archway. About 20 seconds after Jake rings the bell the curtains part and Victor Bishop, wearing his night robes and rubbing his eyes comes to the desk.

    "Yes sir, how may I be of assistance?"

    "Oh, I AM sorry Mr. Bishop, I assumed someone would still be up. I saw a maid wandering about earlier..." Jake feigns embarrassment. "Could I have a pair of additional pillows and do you have some whiskey I could purchase? My darling wife is over wrought after the long trip today and needs some extra care."

    "No trouble sir, no trouble at all. I will send the pillows right up. You folks finding the rooms to your liking? Whiskey? Can't sell you any whiskey but I have a bottle of my own you could have if you promise to replace it before you go. Let me fetch that for you."

    Victor Bishop turns around and walks away, his nightclothes billowing around him. He returns quickly with an unopened bottle of whiskey and hands it over to Jake. "Hope this suits your wife's needs sir. Anything else I can do for you?"

    "Our room is very nice, thank you. Yes of course I will replace the bottle." Jake accepts it from him. "No, that is all. Thank you Mr. Bishop." On the way back to his room Jake leaves the key ring on a step.

    After Jake leaves Ruby tries unsuccessfully to pull her ankle boots off. Her habit of double tying the laces while traveling wasn't helping, they were pulled too tight to slip off as she usually did.

    In her undergarments and boots she meanders over to her jacket and her small, loved silver flask. Having only water available she puts a few more drops from the flask into the small glass of room temperature water and gulps it down.

    She walks over to the window and pulls the shade open to look out into the night sky, hoping to see the stars. She opens the window to enjoy the fresh air. Kneeling with her arms rested on the sill and the glass in one hand she gazes out into the very dark night.

    After a short while Jakes returns. "Here, from the owners private collection. Ordered you some extra pillows too." A concerned expression comes and goes across his face at the open window. "Anything interesting going on out there?"

    Ruby slowly turns her face towards Jake. He is slightly blurry and she is momentarily confused. Her hair continues to flutter in the breeze and she says dreamily, "Aren't you so thoughtful baby?" She turns her face back to the window, and stares out. "I was looking for our stars but they aren't here, not really. Or I can't find them," she says with a sad tone in her voice. "It's very dark."

    "Since our stars are not there to watch, you should get some rest. You are still weak from earlier. I am going to stay up a while, just to make sure your rest is not interrupted."

    Keeping her arms on the window Ruby turns more of her body towards Jake. "But baby, I want to see them." She does not look like she is going to move from that spot. The expression on Jake's face says it all, and instead of arguing Ruby tries to stand. Barely getting to her feet and wobbling all over she looks at Jake with a silly smile. "Ok husband."

    Jake rolls his eyes and helps her into bed. He pours a glass of whiskey and sits at the table while waiting for the extra pillows and for Ruby to fall asleep.

    "Take off my shoes!" Ruby commands, kicking the blankets off herself. While she waits with her leg raised in the air she giggles, "You know, being married isn't so bad. Don't you think?"

    Jake begins unlacing her shoe. "I bet that Dorita cannot wait for you and I to be married. Maria certainly told her about the last time you tried to make something in the kitchen. I imagine Dorita will herd you right into her kitchen and teach you to be baking those pies. Naturally she will teach you the basics first, especially how to clean up afterwards." He slides her shoe off and begins on the other. "Katherine will be happy to help you pick out the practical gingham cloth a wife will be needing. Your idea to have Ginnie teach you how to sew your own dresses is a nice touch too." Jake nearly turns red attempting to contain his laughter, and finally is unable anymore and nearly doubles in half.

    Ruby stares at Jake with cloudy eyes before her full lips turn into a pout. She kicks Jake with the foot he has in his hand and flips away from him in the bed. Her back to him, she tries to fluff the pillow under her head to get comfortable. “You’re not funny,” she sniffs.

    "Take off my shoes." He chuckles and grabs her foot to finish taking off the second shoe. "It is fine when you make a joke...." Jake sits back at the table sipping whiskey waiting for the pillows to arrive.

    "Yeah well, my jokes are FUNNY." She sits up, grabs her shoe off the bed and throws it at Jake. "You are mean and hurtful." She throws the shoe at Jake then falls back into the bed. She crosses her arms and pulls the blanket up to her chin.

    It is not long before the young maid that they saw before knocks on the door. "Sorry to disturb you folks, I have the extra pillows you requested," she says through the door.

    Jake opens the door and takes the pillows. "Thank you Miss."

    The young girl smiles and blushes. "Can I do anything else for you sir, anything at all?"

    "You are just too kind." Jake makes eye contact, gives her a warm smile and steps out into the hallway. He gives her a coin and lets his hand linger just a moment too long in her hand. "I am meeting Mr. O'Neil for breakfast and I forgot to ask him what time is best for him? Have you noticed what time he normally comes down?"

    The maid squeezes his hand slightly and returns the warm smile then looks away batting her eyelashes. "Mr. O'Neil? If we are thinking of the same man, then he usually returns sometime around sun up and sleeps all day. I have seen him snooping about town in the late afternoon. He is just such a handsome man."

    "Late afternoon you say, while the sun is still up?"

    "Thank you so much for these," Jake holds up the pillows, "and your charming conversation. I certainly look forward to seeing you again. Good night now."

    "And I look forward to seeing you too," she says sweetly, letting her eyes linger on his, "Good night." She smiles before turning and walking down the hall. Jake notices her look back over her shoulder and smile at him again before she heads down the hallway and out of sight.

    Jake closes and locks their door. "Here is your extra pillow," and he places it on the bed next to her head.

    He takes the second extra pillow on places it under the blankets on the other bed, making it look like someone is sleeping there.

    Ruby sits up, takes the pillow and throws it at Jake. "Don't bother being nice NOW." Lying back down she pulls the blankets up again and makes sure to turn her back to Jake.

    Jake arranges the chair so that it is not visible through the window. He closes the window, locks it and then balances an ordinary 45 caliber bullet on one side so it will fall if the window is opened. He grabs his sawed off shotgun and places it on the floor next to the chair. Lastly he refills his glass of whiskey, extinguishes the lamps and sits in the chair with the glass in his left hand and his right resting on his Peacemaker.

    * * *

    As Jake and Ruby leave, Minerva turns to Nanuet, Chester and Katherine with the fatigue showing through in her voice. "I do not think that there is much more that we can do tonight. I am going to retire to my room and pray for guidance. Por favor, be careful. I do not feel that we are safe in the night. I know that it is unpleasant but do NOT remove your garlic until morning," she cautions them before she turns and finds her way back to the room.

    "I think I'll come down with you Minerva, I could use some rest as well." Nanuet follows Minerva down to the room.

    Once back in her room she moves to the window and looks up at the dark sky. She makes sure that the window is secured before tightly closing the curtains against the evil that lurks without. She then removes her icons of Minerva and Jupiter from her pack and pleads to her gods for help before undressing and crawling under the covers where she lies awake in quiet desperation trying to think of a way to defeat the vampire.

    He unpacks his meager belongings and sets his new handgun next to the bed on the nightstand. He sees Minerva is restless as he makes his way over to the bed. He undresses as she had just done and slips under the covers, sliding over next to her and wordlessly puts his arms around her and holds her tightly rocking gently back and forth. Minerva takes comfort in the warmth of her man's arms. She is eventually drawn into a restless slumber by his gentle rocking

    Katherine went quietly back to her room and shut and locked the door. She checked the window and made sure it was securely locked as well. She wished desperately to be in her own body, wearing her own face. The prospect of staying Maddie for days or even weeks was not a pleasant one.

    The nightgown she changed into was uncomfortably tight until she opened the buttons at the top. The clip in her hair would probably stab her in the head all night as it had last night. At least the stinking garlic was away from her now in the pocket of her dress. She put a bit of it on the bedside table just to appease the Priestess and went to sleep.

    * * * * * *

    The night goes by uneventfully, at least for the companions. Nanuet goes into reverie shortly after he feels Minerva is sleeping, Jake remains awake in his chair a myriad of thoughts passing through his mind as the time slowly passes. The others sleep fitfully despite the comfortable beds and soft sheets and blankets. It is that predawn time when the sun, soon to expose itself again to the world when Jake stands up to stretch. "O'Neil should be coming back soon," he thinks to himself as he washes up a bit. "Ruby, you getting up? Are you joining us for breakfast?"

    Ruby grumbles, "Yes, I told nice Mr. O'Neil I would be there." She pulls herself up, her head pounding. Dragging herself out of bed she dresses, taking care to look extra special. When she is ready she waits by the door.

    "Heh, last night he was a bastard. Maybe you ought to hide those burns on your hands."

    She scrunches her face at Jake, "At least HE didn't do it deliberately and to someone he says he LOVES." Ruby doesn't wait for Jake to answer and she starts down the stairs.

    Jake straps on his second gun belt, dons his duster, shakes his head and shambles down stairs with hat in hand.

    Kate woke as the sun was crossing the horizon. As she suspected, the magical clip that kept Madeline here had poked her in the back of the head all night, making sleep fitful at best.

    She sat at the vanity and looked in the mirror. It was becoming less and less surprising each time she saw her altered appearance. Soon she would just expect to see Maddie. She sighed, dressed in a plain skirt and blouse, and went down to breakfast.

    Nanuet stirs, his reverie completed. He gets up and stretches then looks to the window waiting to greet the sun. "Minerva, that man will be coming soon to meet the other's for breakfast. Are we to join them?"

    Minerva climbs out of bed and unselfconsciously walks to the dresser and begins to light the candles in preparation of her morning ceremony. "Si mi amor, I would like to hear what he has to say and then I am going to meet the Padre to see if he will share with me what he knows of the monster." She silently prays and then blows out the candles and dresses for breakfast. She and Nanuet descend the stairs in search of the others.

    Kate descends the stairs before any of the others and then follows the sign to the dining room. There, sitting in a back corner table sits Jacky O'Neil, looking the same as he did the previous night in the saloon except now a lit cigarette dangles from his mouth.

    Kate plastered Maddie's bright smile on her face and said, "Good morning, sir. I saw you in the saloon last night, didn't I? Haven't you been to bed yet?"

    Chester reaches the dining room and says, "Good morning all. Did you all sleep well?"

    "I'll answer that question after I get some,” O’Neil says. “Didn't realize it was going to be a full house down here this morning, usually if I eat this time of day I beat the early risers to bed. Have a seat, coffee here is especially bad, don't recommend it. Grits are pretty good though, maybe a little heavy on the butter but not bad."

    "Don't mind if I do." Chester pulls up a chair. "So you stayed out all night, huh?"

    O' Neil turns to Maddie and says "I made a promise to myself a while back, never to leave a saloon that's still open without good cause. Seems like I found myself a good one here, Greely's stays open all night."

    Jake meanders in, "Hi O'Neil." He looks around the room and says, "How do I get some coffee?"

    "Well, we girls need our beauty sleep. Can't spend all night out without suffering for it the next day. I see you have company, I'll leave you to them," Kate said with a smile and went to sit a few tables away.

    A homely looking middle aged woman, wide in the midsection comes out to the dining area. She is wearing an apron which is splattered with flour and some sort of batter or dough. She licks her fingers as she makes her way towards the companions.

    "Good morning folks. Victor said we had some new guests so I made sure to get up early this morning and get everything ready for you. Anything special that you'd like?"

    "A whiskey," Ruby blurts out. Then she adds with a smile, "Please."

    "Make me something that looks like meat to go with this coffee and a shot of whiskey." He sits across from O'Neil. "You stay up every night?"

    "Depends on the town and what kind of trouble I am looking for. Generally a night person though. You always ask so many questions?"

    O' Neil stands up when he sees Ruby enter. "Sorry Miss Constance, had everybody talking at me at once. My evening has been fine so far, sorry to hear that yours was troubled."

    "That's alright Mr. O'Neil, they can't all be perfect star filled nights, now can they?" She continues to smile at him and avoids looking at Jake.

    "But you must be exhausted, being out all night like that, and starved no less. But I must admit," she says while taking a seat, "I do miss nights like that."

    "Well I sleep pretty late, most of the day actually. Starved? Well yes, I generally get pretty darn hungry this time of day."

    Minerva and Nanuet enter the room and take a seat at the table. "Buenos Dias everyone." Minerva says without much enthusiasm. She looks up at the woman who has entered to take their order. “A full breakfast please and double for my friend here," she says pointing to Nanuet.

    The "cook" takes everybody's orders and retreats again to the kitchen. The group can hear her crashing around in the other room as she puts together their morning meals.

    Chester winces and asks O’Neil, "Is she always like that?"

    "Yeah, pretty much. Hasn't made me sick yet though, so I don't mind too much."

    "So why don't you tell us about your adventures last night? I'm so curious," Ruby asks.

    "My oh my, you are a curious lot aren't you,” O’Neil says. “Nothing too exciting last night. Lost some money at cards, spent some money on whiskey and women. That good enough for you?"

    The smile drops off Ruby's face. "Just making polite conversation."

    "You said you do not know how to play poker, what kind of business opportunities do you find staying out every night?" Jake sips at the coffee. "I met another man recently who only came out at night."

    Ruby drinks down her whiskey as soon as it arrives. Her head still pounding, the conversation boring her and annoyed just sitting near Jake without an apology she decides to entertain herself other ways. She stands from the table, "Excuse me, I think I'll get some air." She doesn't wait for an answer as she heads for the stairs.

    "Who said it was poker?” O’Neil says, answering Jake’s question. “We played blackjack if you must know and I still have no idea what I'm doing. Business contacts can be made anywhere my friend, but most of that gets done in the afternoons. Did I commit a crime against your kin that I am not aware of? I didn't realize I was meeting you for breakfast so you could scrutinize everything I said and did. I think I'll be retiring for the day now."

    Jacky gets up and pushes his chair in hesitates a moment.

    "Tell you what Mr. O'Neil, why don't you sit back down and eat something. Then you and I can take a short walk and I will not ask you any more questions until then, but I'll trade question for question and you get to go first,” Jake offers.

    "Hmmmph. Well since I haven't eaten yet I will at least go that far." O'Neil sits back down and nods his head as he thinks to himself. "Did you folks know any of the people that got killed here recently? Strange things, I mean the deaths, all strange circumstances it seems to me."

    "Not really. I just got into town yesterday. They were burying some poor woman when I got here,” Chester says.

    O’Neil says, "Right, Sally Anne Fuller. Found dead in her sleep, just like the other few whores, just like the mayor and his wife. And those are the folks who met what I believe to be untimely ends since I've been here."

    "Whoa there. You mean more people have died like that? Why hasn't the sheriff done anything about this. The mayor and his wife were killed."

    "You want to count that as your question next time it's your turn?" O'Neil says with a sly smile.

    Chester shrugs, "Yeah, sure. I figure you look like you know what's going on in town and you're here." His food arrives and he starts to eat.

    "Well then to answer your question, yeah from what I understand at least a dozen people have died like that. And as far as I can tell the Sheriff has tried all that he can. Supposedly hired some occult priest to come out and take a look at things. He is only one man with a kid as a deputy. I think he's got his hands full. Mayor and his wife were found dead last week, in their beds."

    Chester pauses to swallow. "What makes you think that these deaths are strange? Maybe it's a disease. If it is, I should get out of here."

    "I suppose it could be a disease, but doc doesn't think so,” O’Neil says. “Talked with him about things a few nights ago over at Greely's. Can't say I ever seen anyone who needed a drink more than him that night. Doc certainly didn't think it was a disease though, but I know he doesn't have a clue as to what it could be."

    "Kid working here said the lady that was buried yesterday was naked and pale when they found her." Jake has some more coffee. "I have only met one person from Thomaswell, and I have not seen him since we got in yesterday."

    O’Neil nods. "OK, well then I guess you answered my question, now what do you want to know besides how my evening went?"

    "Where did you come in from before coming here?" Jake asks.

    "Spent some time working the silver trade west of here in a good size town aptly named Silver City. Nice folks and all, but I kinda wore out my welcome there. Before that, spent some time in the jail in Alamogordo."

    Minerva interjects "You mentioned an Occult Priest? I s that the man that buried that poor unfortunate girl at the crossroads?"

    O'Neil acknowledges Minerva. He smiles brightly as he looks at her before speaking. "Don't know who was at the crossroads, could have been him. Siam York is the town priest, he might know more about the specialist they have coming in."

    Minerva returns his bright smile with an equally brilliant one of her own. "Perhaps I will pay a visit this morning. I apologize for my rudeness. Allow me to introduce myself," she says extending her hand palm down. " I am the Priestess Minerva Garcia Florencia."

    O'Neil stands up and removes his hat with one hand, taking Minerva's hand with the other he lifts it and gently kisses it. "I saw you at the saloon last night but didn't have a chance to meet you then. I apologize for the oversight and I am sure it was my loss."

    Nanuet shuffles a bit in his seat glaring at the man. O'Neil clears his throat then continues releasing Minerva's hand.

    "The priest here in town is nice enough, knows his day to day stuff."

    Minerva smiles sweetly at the compliment before addressing his comment about the priest . The smile drops from her face to be replaced by hard resolve. "Well Senor O'Neil that will not do. I need someone that will be able to assist me in destroying this monster. Do you know who that someone would be?" she says looking him directly in the eyes.

    "Whoa, if looks could kill!" O’Neil says with a half hearted chuckle. "I ain't in the monster killing business lady. I'm here for something else and when I find it I'll be moving on. Sure there is something strange going on here but it don't concern me. I would just like to get my business done and move on. Maybe this other priest the sheriff hired can help you out." O'Neil sits down again and begins rolling a new cigarette.

    Minerva Chuckles "Harness you ego Senor O'Neil, I was not suggesting that you would be able to help me, personally. Just that perhaps you knew whom I should be addressing. You seem to be an observant fellow."

    "I usually am. Sorry if I misunderstood.” O' Neil takes a drag from his cigarette before continuing. "My turn," he says. "What do you think is going on around this place? I got my theories but I'm interested to hear what sharp folks like you think. Besides being from out of town seems to give a different perspective too."

    "A man was killed and his body found behind my saloon,” Jake says. “He was pale. I think all the blood was drained from his body."

    "I think you might be right Mr. Jacobs. I think you might be right. And I know just the creature who could do such a thing."

    "This man here found something in room 308 last night," Jake says pointing to Chester, "maybe he'll show it to you. The man I met in my town was named Colin Turner. He only seemed to be around after dark. Two people died while he was in town." Jake pauses. "I was there when they dug up one of them. Pretty surprising what we found." Jake goes back to drinking his coffee.

    "Turner you say? I have heard of him before. I think he came back into town just a couple days ago. As far as what you found, I am not sure you could shock me, I have seen a few things in my day Mr. Jacobs." O'Neil then turns to Chester. "What did you find? Something special about that room, 308?"

    Chester says, "Yeah. It's a cufflink with the initials 'C.T.' on it." He reaches into his pocket and pulls out the cufflink. He pushes it towards O'Neil. "Here it is. Seen anything like it before?"

    O'Neil looks at the cufflink closely, holding it up towards the window towards the light for only a second before handing it back to Chester. "Well I've seen personalized jewelry like that before, but I can't recall seeing that specific piece of it. C.T. might be the guy your looking for? And what about that room number? 308, you mentioned it, why does that ring a bell?"

    Chester slips the piece of jewelry back into his pocket. In for a penny, in for a pound. "308 was where they found Miss Fuller, from what I gathered."

    "Oh is that right? I thought I remembered that number for some reason." he says finishing his cigarette rolling. "Well I can walk you to the door then I am headed upstairs. Perhaps I will see you this evening back at Greely's."

    "That'd be nice. I don't anyone in town, so it'll be nice to see a friendly face. Maybe we can swap war stories." Chester heads for the door.

    "I am ready to take a walk out to the crossroads,” Jake says. “Interested in coming O'Neil? How about you Martin?"

    O’Neil says, “I think actually I will enjoy this last smoke of the day and then hit the sack. My time is the nighttime if you catch my drift."

    Chester says, "It would be a fine time for a constitutional, Mr. Jacobs.”

    Jake finishes his coffee and then stands. "Well then, Mr. O'Neil, perhaps we will see you tonight." He walks to the door and waits for Chester, who follows.

  5. #65
    After she leaves the others at breakfast, Ruby goes to her room and downs her little special morning potion before heading back downstairs and out to the street to wander around.

    Ruby begins to wander around, taking in the town in the daylight. She is surprised to see just how run down and empty the town really looks. Suddenly she is startled to hear a man screaming in pain. The sound seems to be coming from somewhere to the east. Whomever is screaming appears to be in tremendous agony as the cries are very intense. Ruby puts her hands to her head momentarily before she starts running towards the screaming.

    The screaming seems to be coming from behind or between some buildings, down an alleyway between the bank and Greely's hotel. The screaming seems to die away as Ruby runs towards it.

    She ends up behind the row of buildings when she sees a strange sight. A large stake (6 feet high, 5 inch diameter) has been pounded into the ground. Some rope lies at the bottom of it along with what appears to be a pile of ash. She can hear footsteps from other people coming now also. She walks a little closer and quickly searches around for clues, before anyone else can show up.

    Ruby checks the ropes, which were tied well, probably around somebody's wrists and ankles but obviously the person is no longer here. Looking at the ashes something shiny catches her eyes. She scoops it up and her breath escapes her as she examines the item. Ruby now hears the sounds of spurs as the approaching people get closer. She lifts her head to see the Sheriff and a younger man with a badge also, probably a deputy

    Her breath catches in her throat and her heart starts pounding. She quickly puts it in her pocket and stands back slightly, staring at the pile of ash. She waits quietly, just staring.

    "Everything OK here ma'am? I heard some awful screaming, didn't sound like it was from the likes of you though. See anything?"

    The young deputy looks Ruby over quickly and then whispers something in the Sheriff's ear.

    She waits a moment before speaking. "Good morning Sheriff." She nods at him. "I just heard that awful screaming too and I ran here, not sure what I'm looking at though," she lies. "Have you seen this before?"

    Having eaten her breakfast quickly and followed Ruby, Maddie melted into the crowd, following along to see what could grab the attention of the people in this town.

    "Well I can't quite say I even know what we got here,” the Sheriff says. “Saw you pocket something there a minute ago. Anything we should know about?"

    At this time several more people have begun to gather around. The only ones Ruby recognizes is Thom, the bouncer from the night before and Maddie.

    Ruby slowly takes the item out of her pocket. "I did find this on the ground." She keeps it in her hand but holds her hand out so they can look. "I thought it might belong to my friend, the man I was looking for. I haven't found him yet. I'm getting worried."

    Maddie pushed her way up through the crowd with smiles and apologies. "Miss West, are you alright?" She asked from a few feet behind the sheriff.

    Ruby turns her head and glances briefly at "Maddie" but then turns away from her, ignoring her.

    "Looking for Colin Turner if I recall correctly. I haven't seen him yet either." The Sherriff looks at the item in Ruby's hand closely. "Well ain't that interestin'?" he says. "I'm gonna have to take that for now, once we figure things out you can have it back ma'am."

    The deputy looks around at the crowd and yells out "Sorry folks, nothing to see here. Please move along, get yourselves back to work."

    "I understand," Ruby nods, something inside of her not wanting to give it up.

    "Have you seen this before?" she asks, her feet firmly planted in their spot, "This thing, whatever it is?"

    Maddie says, "Sheriff? I'm staying at the hotel her friends are at. May I escort her back?"

    "I'm not going back," she snaps. Then she softens her voice a bit, "Not right now anyway. But thanks for the offer." She again faces the sheriff. "Well, have you? Seen this?"

    "Actually why don't you come to my office away from all these people. I want to ask Miss West some more questions away from all these ears. Perhaps I can offer you some breakfast while we chat."

    Dammit Kate! Ruby steams to herself. Now look what you did. "She has me mistaken for someone else. My last name is Jacobs. Mrs. Jacobs." What a #$%@ disaster...

    "What kind of questions can I answer for you?" she smiles at the lawmen.

    The sheriff looks over the scene for a minute, kneeling down to look at the ropes and the ashes. He shakes his head as he stands up. "Ain't ever seen anything that looked like this. Don't even know where to start. Am I supposed to think these ashes belonged to someone? That was too quick to burn anyone up, I mean who could do that anyways?

    Ruby shakes her head and shrugs. "I don't know, that is why I was asking you. It's very strange."

    Ruby head is still pounding but things are to get nicely fuzzy for her and her smile relaxes. "Yes, why don't we go have questions."

    Maddie shook her head. "How could I have gotten you mixed up? I met so many people on the train and the stage, I'm getting addle-pated. Your husband is the gentleman with the glasses, yes?

    I'm sorry Sheriff, seems I'm still tired from my trip. If Mrs. Jacobs doesn't want my company, I'll go tell her husband where he can find her."

    "Yes that darling of mine has glasses," she says with an edge in her voice. "You are more than welcome to come with us.. oh I forgot your name? We are going to have some questions about the friend I am here looking for. Might bore you. I'm sure my husband is worried sick over where I am."

    She walks with her little swing in her hips, stopping at the sheriff and deputy. "Lead the way, gentlemen."

    "Madeline Anders. Maddie if you like," Kate said, refusing to rise to Ruby's bad mood. "As long as the sheriff doesn't mind, I'll come with you."

    The Sheriff smiles at Ruby. "Al, why don't you stay here an poke around a bit, I'm going to take Miss West...er Miss Jacobs and her friend her back to the office. I'll be back as soon as I'm done."

    Sheriff Wilson leads Kate and Ruby west back out to the street and then north to an intersection where he makes a right, away from the boarding house the ladies had visited the night before. He walks about half a block east to a small building that houses both the jail and his office.

    "Can I get you ladies anything to eat or drink?"

    Ruby and Kate notice that the office is a mess, there are papers scattered across his desk and half eaten plates of food around.

    "Sorry for the mess, not usually like this, just been real busy lately trying to sort things out."

    "Tea if you have it,” Kate says. “Coffee is fine otherwise."

    Ruby finds a semi-empty spot on the desk, moves some papers to the side and carefully sits. "No thank you, but aren't you sweet to offer."

    "I do hear it's been crazy here. What do you think is going on?" she asks with furrowed brows.

    "Tea?" Sheriff Wilson responds. "I can get the kettle on right away." The Sheriff lights a simple stove and places a kettle on top then sits at his desk.

    "I can't for the life of me figure out what is going on. And frankly if I were you folks I'd get out of here. Your friend Mr. Turner seems to be missing. Not sure what your story is, you got a husband but I was under the impression Mr. Turner was the father of your child. No business of mine, but things around here ain't right. If I were you I'd leave next chance I got."

    "Oh," Ruby acts surprised and somewhat sad, "You think that Colin is missing? Some people say they saw him, then we couldn't find him. Seems unlikely in this small town that he could be hiding."

    She fakes a blush, "As for why I need to find him, I do think I said that was somewhat personal. I'd really like to find him before we leave though. Is there something I can do to help you?"

    "Just tell me everything you saw before I got over to that... that... scene this morning. Try not to leave out any details. Any ideas you have, throw them in too. You too Maddie, I'll take any help I can get at this point. At this rate I won't have a town to patrol for much longer."

    "Well," Ruby starts, "There isn't much to tell." She places her hands on the desk, her body leaning forward slightly as she swings her legs. "I had a fight with Mr. Jacobs and wanted some air so I left breakfast. I'm not sure how good it would have been anyway. That cook looked out of sorts. For all that money you would think..." her voice trails off. "Oh yes, excuse me, what I saw. So I went to get air and heard a scream. I'm not sure why but I ran towards it. Saw what you saw, saw that glinting in the sun and picked it up. Then you showed up. That's all." She shrugs but keeps her legs swinging. "I'd say something strange was going on. My man usually worships me but he was not very nice to me last night."

    Maddie looked at Ruby with a furrowed brow for a moment, then looked back to the Sheriff. "I got there after you did. I only saw townspeople coming over to the scene. I was just going out to ask after the family I was supposed to meet here. But I suspect they either never came through here, or they took your good advice and left the same day they mailed the letter to me."

    The Sheriff begins to blush slightly then holds up his hand indicating Ruby should stop talking. "Sorry your not getting along with your husband ma'am, really I am, but I was really only interested in the screaming and what you saw. I was hoping you got their earlier I guess. Well I will hold onto this for now, check back in a couple days or before you leave and we'll see if you can't have it back. Guess that's all I needed from you for now, you ladies have a nice day."

    Kate and Ruby can tell the Sheriff is on the verge of a breakdown.

    Ruby hops off the desk. "Perhaps you need a hug," she says, and wraps one arm around the man. "You know, every day is a new day to start fresh. Why don't you tell us about this little town of yours. Maybe it'll get your mind off your troubles for a moment."

    The Sheriff cracks a smile and chuckles at the notion of the hug. "Thanks for the optimism Mrs. Jacobs. What do you want to know about our town? Not much to tell. Like a lot of small towns in the area it started because of local silver mines. About 60 years ago Grant Thomas discovered water here and had a well built and since that was the only well around the town kinda built up around it. The silver ran out fast but Mr. Thomas stuck to it and made sure this was a good place for the folks traveling back and forth to stay. He past away about 20 years back or so, that's when they put the statue up. Until the railroad was put in this place held it's own, but last few years we've kinda fallen off the map. And now lately folks are turning up dead. A few whores first, then the mayor and his wife, now Sally Ann and I suppose whatever happened this morning. Damn place is falling apart!"

    "And they all died the same way?" Maddie asked. "Has a long time resident started acting differently recently? I'm sure you already checked out all the new arrivals."

    "Yes, they've all died the same way. No, I don't believe anyone has been acting strangely. I've been doing my best to investigate everyone, but I'm at my wits end."

    Ruby interrupts him. "A well and a statue, huh? I haven't seen either. Maybe I'll go sightseeing, give me something to do while I wait for Mr. Turner to show up. If you could give me directions..." Her voice trails off and then see looks him straight in the eyes, "Do you believe in fairy tales, Sheriff?"

    He shakes his head, "I sure don't believe in fairy tales Mrs. Jacobs, but I'm starting to believe in ghost stories."

    Ruby smiles at him. "Well, I do, believe in fairy tales. And you know what they share? Happy endings. You just need your knight in shining armor to show up, that's all. It'll be alright around here."

    "Well I would prefer a princess locked away in a tower, but at this point I'll take all the help I can get, and I sure could use a happy ending. To find the statue and the well one only needs to look in the same place. Head to the west end of town, you'll see one on top of the other once you get past most of the buildings."

    "I think I'll go take a look now. Thanks Sheriff. Sorry I couldn't be of more help to you but if I think of anything I'll let you know."

    She bids him good day and heads outside. She waits for Kate to follow. "Maddie, is it? You're very sweet to tag along and look out for me. But I have something I have to do right now and it's important that I do it alone. I'm sure you understand." Ruby looks into Maddie's eyes but only briefly, knowing full well that if Kate was Kate she would be arguing with Ruby to not go off alone. Instead she takes advantage of the disguise and walks off before Maddie responds.

    Kate was actually grateful to have Ruby leave her at the Sheriff's office. Frustrated with her attitude, but grateful. Feminine wiles were not the way with this particular man. Her instincts said he was sincere and forthright. A good man just trying to do his job. She turned and went back inside. "Sheriff, could we talk?" she asked quietly.

    "Oh, I am sorry, didn't realize you were still here. Sure, we can talk. Still worried about your family? I'm sure they will turn up, must have just blown through town."

    "I am worried about them, and about what I'm going to do now, but that's not why I came back. I'm worried about you, actually. Don't you have any help here?"

    "Well, I have my deputy Al. He's been with me for a few months now. Doesn't have any formal training, I guess he's kinda learning on the job. He's a good kid though. I also hired another guy and I'm waiting for him to show up. Nolan Edwards, he's supposed to be an occult priest or monster slayer of some sort. Hope he shows his face around her soon."

    Maddie sighed and relaxed a bit. "I suspected myself that whatever is stalking this town might not be human. I've been traveling quite a while now, and in the last few weeks I've seen some strange things. Things that frighten me, and I'm not easily frightened. I've heard stories about a monster that can't tolerate the sun and drinks blood to survive. And that it can turn people into others of it's kind."

    "I didn't even realize what I was saying... you being a stranger and all. I don't know much about monsters or magic but whatever is doing this isn't human and it does seem to be drinking blood. When we find the victims there is no blood left in them, and usually two puncture marks in the neck. What creature could do such a thing, this is just unbelievable." The sheriff turns away and puts his face in his hands. Maddie believes he can hear some light sobbing.

    Maddie stepped over and laid her hand on the Sheriff's back, rubbing softly in circles.

    "Sheriff, you are doing everything you can. You have not closed your mind to the facts and denied that something... well supernatural is going on. You have admitted your limitations and sent for help. You have tried to warn us newcomers that it isn't safe here. You serve your town well; these people are lucky to have you."

    She laughed a light, soft laugh and said, "People don't think I notice things, I'm usually too busy talking, but I pay attention. The people I rode the stage with seem to have a very specific purpose here, and Mrs. Jacobs certainly had an interest in that pile of ash this morning. The pretty Spanish lady is a Priestess as well. I cannot say for sure, but they may be allies for you.

    You mentioned magic. How do you feel about that?"

    The Sheriff sits upright and takes a deep breath. "Thanks for the kind words ma'am, it means a lot. Magic? Well I don't know much about it. I know some of the clerics can heal and do other simple things but they say that is a gift from the gods. Heard stories about wizards and such but I never gave them much thought. I always put faith in myself and my own ability to do things."

    "That seems the best way to me. Sometimes though we have to put our faith in others as well, and what we can do together.

    As far as magic goes, well, it seems to me however you come by it it's what's in the wielder's heart that matters. I've never really understood why being a wizard is illegal. Aren't there priests out there who can do just as much bad?"

    Maddie stopped and shook her head. "See what I mean about the talking? I never do seem to stop. I guess I just wanted to say I'm glad you're willing to do whatever's necessary to save your town. I'm going to have to be in it until the stage comes back, and I feel safer knowing you're here.

    Would you like for me to ask those people I rode the stage with to come have a chat with you?"

    Sheriff Wilson appears tired and it's all he can do to focus on Maddie's conversation. "Thanks for your offer, but I think I'll just wait for this man that we hired and see what he has to say. If they want to come by they are more than welcome, but there is not currently a need for them to go out of their way."

    "I understand, Sheriff. Thank you for talking to me. I know you'll do everything you can to make this town safe again." With that Kate stepped back out into the street and went back to the hotel.

    * * * * * * *

    When Chet comes outside, he and Jake walk out to the crossroads. "I just want to see if Sally Ann’s grave is disturbed. Then walk back past Turners room and see which direction his window faces. If we decide to break in there I would rather do it with the sun shining in the window. Catch my drift?"

    Jake and Chester make their way over to the crossroads near where the stage dropped them off half a day earlier. The gravesite seems to be just the way they left it except that there is a single desert flower placed over it now.

    Chester nods. "Do you trust O'Neil? Sure he's not one of those monsters since he's up in the daytime, but it's a risk."

    "No. I do not trust anyone if I do not understand what motivates them. I still do not understand what he is after. That book he mentioned, but why? Maybe it was a bad risk to tell all that I did. I was fishing, taking the chance I would learn something. I suppose we did, but just not that much."

    Chester replies "I was confused. We're taking care to hide who we are, but then you spill the beans about what we've found. But, I'll follow your lead. Maybe there's a code in the book or he's looking for a specific copy with notes inside."

    "What!" Jake replies with feigned shock, "You think I should follow my own plan?" After a little laugh Jake adds, "You might be right about that book. Who knows if it has anything to do with what we are after."

    They walk silently towards the boarding house when Jake starts talking again. "If Silver Jake Cook had rolled into this town alone six months ago last night would have been different. He would have cleaned out those poker players and spent the night dallying with that maid at the hotel. Did you see her?" Jake laughs and then looks wistful. "Now look at me! I am hunting a blood monster. I would not have even given a second thought to the troubles of this little dump of a town. After a few nights the local poker players would have empty wallets and be avoiding me. That and the maid would be getting ideas and I would be avoiding her." Jake chuckles, "Thank you Mr. Stagecoach driver a ticket for one to the next town." Jake looks sideways at Chester and shrugs. "Quite a surprising twist in the wheel of life, eh Marshall?"

    Chester chuckles. "You've found what you were searching for--someone to share your life with. Everything else follows from that. You have a place to call your own and a woman who loves you. You might still have to look over your shoulder from time to time. But now there are people to back you up. I bet Ruby didn't plan on this either. You're both better for it. And who says you still can't clean out those poker players?"

    "Now you are talking." Jake has that look in his eye.

    Once they get near the boarding house Jake and Chester realize that the window in the rear of the building faces south and the window on the side where Tuner's room should be faces east.

    "I would say if we decide to break into Turner's room we ought to do it in the morning. If we knew we could do it without repercussion from the local law, I would do it right now." Jake slaps Chet on the shoulder. "Be even better if we could fool, er convince the lawman into helping us." Jake yawns and rubs his eyes. Chester notices that Jake looks like he has not slept and is wearing the same clothes as last night. "I am beat. I need to get some sleep."

    "Convincing the sheriff that there's a blood-sucking monster in his town is gonna be hard. But if he's not on the up-and-up, telling him the whole truth will tip off Turner. Can't Ruby or Kate figure out if he's an honest man using their 'special talents'?" Jake yawns again. "You didn't sleep well either, I take it. There must be something about this place."

    "Chet, I will let you ask Katherine about doing that. Ruby seems a little out of sorts. It is not that I did not sleep well, I did not sleep."

    They make their way back to the hotel. "Wake me if something worthwhile is happening, or someone is doing something stupid or risky. Otherwise, I'll see you are dinner." Jake's yawning is getting more frequent as he makes his way towards his room.

    "Get some sleep, Jake. We need everyone at their best. See you later."

    * * *

    Minerva finishes her breakfast and and delicately dabs her lips with her napkin. She turns to Nanuet. "I am going to visit the padre this morning. Would you like to come with me or do you have other plans?"

    "Can't say that I have plans and even if I did I would rather be with you. Just let me finish eating and we'll get ready to go."

    Minerva sits quietly the only sign of her impatience is her tapping foot under the table, while Nanuet finishes his second serving of breakfast.

    Nanuet senses Minerva's impatience and wolfs down the last of the food. "Sorry, it's just that we didn't get a proper meal yesterday and I was hungry. Let's go."

    Minerva and Nanuet make their way over to the church and knock on the door. An old man with stern features whom Minerva recognizes as the priest from the night before answers the door. "Greetings priestess, greetings sir. I was expecting a visit from you. Please come in while I finish up my morning work and then we can chat a bit. Can I get you something to drink or perhaps something to nibble on?"

    Nanuet starts to speak at the last offer but a stern look from Minerva stops him before he speaks. "No thank you padre, we just had breakfast," Minerva replies with a smile.

    "Well then come have a look around, while I finish up. It's not much but I think you'll find yourself at home."

    The church is a fairly simple building, large windows on both sides of the large open room. 2 columns of wooden pews take up most of the space, there is room for many more people than there appears to be in the town. The front of the church has a dais with a pulpit and some simple wooden decorations. Sain York points out a few things as he tidies up and leads the couple to the back of the church where his office is.

    The Padre motions for Minerva and Nanuet to take a seat and sits facing them. "Padre, This is my friend Nanuet. He is also a cleric." Minerva says by way of introduction. "We met a Senor O'Neil this morning. He mentioned that you were expecting another priest. One that specializes in the Occult. Has he arrived yet? What do you know of him? And what do you know of this Senor O'Neil?"

    "Hmmm. Interesting questions. Greetings Nanuet, I have never met one of your race before that called themselves a cleric. Do you venerate one God in particular or how does that work?"

    Nanuet is shy and answers simply. "I worship the Gods of my people, mostly the Sun. Minerva is teaching me the ways of the Greek Gods."

    "Hmm, very interesting, perhaps we can chat again later about your experiences, I am curious to know how your faith allows you to worship as such. Back to your questions priestess. I know very little of Mr. O'Neil. He seems to be a drifter type, been in town for about a week I believe. He is searching for a book, a book of card games I believe. I imagine he gambles and commits other related sins. He is definitely an educated man and one of some talent I suppose, although I am not sure exactly what that talent is. As for the other priest, if that is what you can call him, the sheriff and I discussed trying to call in someone with a little more knowledge in dealing with the occult and it's mysteries. This man claims to be a hunter of monsters, specifically those that go bump in the night if you know what I mean. His name is Nolan Edwards and he should be arriving in town soon. I hear that he travels alone and usually at night. I hope he arrives soon."

    "Si, I pray that he does also. It would be helpful if we were more educated in these matters. Perhaps he will know how to destroy this blood monster." Minerva says with revulsion. "You say that Senor O'Neil is searching for a book on cards? Did he say why?
    "I just assumed that he was a collector of some sorts, but no he didn't offer and I didn't pry."

    "You say that this he a drifter and yet you seem too think that he is also an educated man. It seems an odd combination. What makes you think that he is educated?"

    "Just a hunch I suppose. He is well spoken when he needs to be. Seems to be able to set himself to the level of the person that he is interacting with."

    "Hmmm, sounds like someone else I know," Minerva thinks comparing Senor O'Neil to Jake. "Tell me Padre," the young priestess says leaning toward him and placing her hand on his knee in a sympathetic gesture. "What has been happening in your town? Por favor, tell us all that you know. We will help you to rid it of this evil if we are able."

    "The Gods have forsaken us Priestess. There is something evil here, something very dark and evil. I am not a doctor, but I have been with the doc each time a body was found and they have all been the same. So pale, so very pale. So far they have all died in their sleep, or at least they have been found in their beds. I am a simple man, doing Sunday sermons, performing the occasional wedding or simple ceremony. My faith has been shaken though and I am not sure what to do next."

    “Do not lose faith Senor, the gods will show us the way. I am sure of it. They have led us here to you, have they not? We WILL defeat this evil, of that I am certain" she says admonishing his lack of faith. "I heard that the Mayor and his wife were killed in the same horrifying manner as the girl you buried yesterday. What were their names? How many others have died this way?”

    "All in all there have been 9 who have died this way that we know of, but others have gone missing. The mayor and his wife were Leo and Isabelle Watkins. Good folks, and my guess is they probably found out too much and were killed for it. I just hope Mr. Edwards knows what he is doing."

    Nine, Oh, my gods, and others missing! she thinks hiding her alarm. That is more than we were told. I wonder how many we do not know about.
    When did the killings begin? Did anybody new come in to town around that time?
    Tell, me did any of those unfortunate souls have the initials C.T.?

    The priest scrunches his forehead as he thinks deeply. "C.T.? Can't think of anyone with those initials, why does that matter anyways? As far as new people, we always have the occasional traveler. I never get to meet many of them as they are usually just passing through and don't stop by the church."

    "Well Padre," she says standing and discreetly motioning for Nanuet to do the same "Fear is the thief of faith. Do not let it rob you of yours." She says sternly. "The gods may appear to be silent but be assured that they have not forsaken us. Gracias, thank you for your time." She says and turns to leave.

    "Well I hope my answers were of some help to you. You are strong in your faith and that is a blessing. If there is anything I can do to help, please come back and if you are here on Sunday please by all means come and worship with us."

    Sian York leads Minerva and Nanuet to the door and says a quick blessing over them as they leave.

    * * * * * *

    After she leaves the Sheriff’s office, Ruby walks back to the hotel. She walks in and starts up the stairs without stopping or even a second glance. But instead of ending up at her own room she heads right to Mr. O'Neil's room. She knocks softly but urgently, "Mr. O'Neil, I need to speak to you please, can you open the door?" She continues to knock on his door.

    She hears some grumbling from behind the door "Gosh darn it... sleep around this place... this time of day... " then clearly she can hear. "I'll be right with you."

    A minute later the handsome man is standing in the doorway to his room barefoot with his trousers and suspenders on but no shirt. His hair is messy and his face sports a yawn. "Oh, Constance! A pleasant surprise, didn't realize it was you. Thought it might be the maid, they still don't get it that I prefer to sleep during the day. C'mon in and have a seat."

    A small crimson blush comes to Ruby's cheeks as she looks over Mr. O'Neil and even she isn't sure if it's intentional or not. Her lips rise in a half smile as she saunters in, swinging her hips. "You didn't take your own advice."

    He furrows his brows and looks at her funny.

    "You invited me in." She pauses, "You said, be careful who you invite into your room. After all," she spins around to face him, her dark red hair framing her face, "What do you really know about me?"

    "Well, I think I might make an exception to my rule for someone who looks like you. I think you might be worth the risk. So what I can for you? You missed our questions game at breakfast."

    "I like I man who thinks I'm worth the risk," she replies smoothly.

    She pulls out her skirt and sits, her back straight. Her cool demeanor fades a bit as she continues, "It seem to me that a man like you doesn't very well fit in a crap town like this, if I can be frank."

    She looks him in the eyes. "I am here looking for someone. I haven't been able to find him. It would do me some good to know if I was going to be able to find him or not and you seem to know what's going on around these parts. So," she pauses and looks up at him standing over her with her big green eyes, "I need your help."

    O'Neil continues to lean over her his gaze fixed on hers. "You're right, I don't fit in here, but I am looking for something myself and I believe it can be found here in this little crap town. So far I haven't been able to find what I'm looking for either. So, maybe we can help each other. I'm not sure how much I know, but I tend to pick up on things now and again."

    Ruby doesn't break his gaze. "And what, may I ask, are you looking for? If I don't know I can't help." She playfully pulls at her hair, "That little book perhaps?"

    "I was going to say that I already told you. But you are pretty perceptive." He stops and looks over his shoulder quickly before returning to look at Ruby. "I'm looking for a copy of Hoyle's Book of Games, 1st edition. Supposedly there is a copy somewhere here. The founder of the town was rumored to have one and there is no reason to think it ever left this town."

    "Why that book? Is it worth a pretty penny?" Ruby relaxes back into her chair, pulling up her skirt slightly and crossing her legs.

    O'Neil watches Ruby maneuver the skirt and her legs. He sits down on the edge of the bed facing her. "To the right person it is, but to 99.9% of the world it is just a book on how to play cards. What about this person you're looking for. What do you need to find him so badly for?"

    "Someone must want the book desperately for you to come all the way out here to get it." She smiles at him with a cocky smile, "I think there is more to you than meets the eye, Mr. O'Neil."

    She keeps her gaze on O'Neil and stays relaxed in her chair, aware of the effect she was having on him. It made her feel good to know she still had "it" if she needed it and hadn't even realized how much she missed the thrill.

    "Well, if we're being honest with each other, and I think you're being honest with me, I do need to find him badly. He threatened me. And I didn't want to sit around waiting to let his threats come true so I followed him here."

    "Well I must admit that I like the way you think." he says with a cocky smile. "The book, well let's just say that it will help further my career and it's been a long time since I had any promotions." The muscles of O'Neil’s well toned upper body ripple as he stretches and yawns just a bit. "Forgive me, I'm usually sleeping at this point of the day. So, what can I do to help you find your friend? I mean we can't have lowlifes going around threatening beautiful women and all."

    "Course we can't. It's puts a damper on my day." Ruby hadn't felt so relaxed in a long time and she wasn't quite sure what to think of it. She let her fingers wander across the arm of the chair as she speaks. "Well, I'm not sure if I mentioned his name to you or not. As a matter of fact, I know I didn't. But maybe Al did?" Ruby looks away from O'Neil and glances around his room.

    "Very neat, for a man. Your room barely looks used." She looks back into his eyes. "I have a confession to make. I know you weren't being truthful about the cards. You're much better than you say you are. Maybe that has to do with you looking for the book? It really doesn't matter to me." She shrugs and runs her finger across the arm again.

    "What DOES matter to me is that I find Colin Turner, or at least know that he isn't going to be trouble for me anymore. He threatened to steal me away..." she pauses before continuing with emphasis, "For eternity." She keeps a close eye on his reaction to those words in particular.

    "For eternity. Well Constance" he says laying back in his bed continuing to speak with her "eternity is a very long time. Most people can't make that long of a commitment. From what I have heard Turner comes and goes, spends a lot of time on the road. I thought he had a place over at that old run down boarding house, probably a good place to start. I know he does his whoring over at Greely's, some of the girls talk about him. He sounds like he might be the kind of guy that fits in just find in a little crap town like this one. I suppose he got bored though, fish got too big for his little pond, so he decided to take a swim and found himself in your neck of the woods. Do I have it about right?"

    "I think you have it just right, Mr. O'Neil. Eternity IS a very long time." Ruby stands and takes a couple of steps closer to the bed. She pretends to be considering if she should continue or not before she does.

    "Honestly, I was wondering if you saw him last night," she says, smoothing her dress, "I think something may have befallen him. There were some strange circumstances. Nothing would make me happier than to know the truth."

    She takes another step closer and raises an eyebrow. "You seem like just the type of man who might be involved in befallings and such, a man of action who gets what he wants."

    O'Neil rolls over on the bed so that he is laying on his side and props his head up on his arm. He watches Ruby with hungry eyes as she smoothes out her dress. "Well, I would hate to disappoint you Constance, but if something did befall Mr. Turner it was not by my hand. I thought he was upstairs at Greely's last night with the young lady you and your husband spoke to. Last I heard of his whereabouts. Come to think of it though he never did come back downstairs, at least not before I left. Rooms can be rented till 9:00 though, which is coming up soon so perhaps he's still there." O'Neil’s eyes stray from Ruby's gaze and wander freely over her curvy form.

    Ruby continues to smile at the longing in the man's eyes. "Well, Mr. O'Neil, I thank you for your time, and I'll take your advice into consideration," she says in a sultry voice. "I hope we'll be able to help each other out, now that we know of each other's... desires. I won't keep you from your bed any longer." She walks to the door, still swinging her hips. She looks at him over her shoulder, "I'm sure we'll be seeing each other around." She gives him a half smile before letting herself out of his room.

    Ruby walked out of O’Neil’s room and fanned herself. She was feeling rather energized and sexy from her little conversation with the handsome Mr. O’Neil and she could still feel goose bumps on her arms from his desire for her. Even though she was still mad at Jake, and hurt, she needed to tell him what she found out.

    Ruby bounces down the hallway to their room. Trying the door she finds it locked. Jake had the key. She glances back and forth down the hallway and when she is sure no one is looking she quickly and quietly picks the lock and lets herself in.

  6. #66
    Jake was sleeping as Ruby snuck in, although if it had been anyone other then her they might have had a bullet through the forehead by now. Instead she quietly glides across the room and gently lays her body on top of Jake. She whispers, “I am SO mad at you… but Colin Turner is dead.”

    At the first sound his hand was on his derringer under the pillow. When he heard her voice he released it. Although he had fallen asleep it was not too deep. "At least one of those two items is new, and good news." He turns his head with a yawn and rubs a sleepy eye.

    Ruby sits up on his lap and squeezes his legs between her thighs. "Wake up." She shakes him gently, "Did you hear what I said?"

    Jake focuses on her face. "Did you see it? When did it happen?"

    "No, I didn't see it. But I know it."

    She places a hand on either side of Jake's face and leans down over him, letting her hair brush his face. The motion makes her dress pull tight across her chest, a reaction Ruby is well aware of. "First tell me you're sorry you hurt my feelings and was mean to me."

    "How can you think that I intended to hurt your feelings or be mean? I am sorry you took it that way. I thought you were joking with me, and then you did not want to talk." Jake tries to stifle a yawn. "Now tell me how you know Turner is dead."

    "Sorry I took it that way? So you're not sorry." Her eyes narrow.

    She stares at him a few moments before continuing. "I went for a walk. The talk with O'Neil was boring me. I heard a scream, an unnatural one. I went to check it out and there was a big stake and a pile of ash. And I found a cufflink that said C.T. Someone tied him to it and when the sun came up he got burnt to a crisp. Right, Minerva said that was in her book, about the sun. Then the lawman came and he wanted to talk to me and he told me about the well and the statue in town. Then I came back to speak to O'Neil, cause I think he might have been the one who offed Turner. And he told me about the book he is looking for, I knew he was looking for that book, that is why he is here. Although I'm not sure if that is the real truth. But I do know he is interested in other things from me, so I'm going to have to watch out for that one. There is much more then he is letting on."

    "Plus I just feel it, I know it. I know he's dead. So we can leave now, we can go home and be done with this whole thing. Aren't you happy?"

    "Happy does not describe it...." his eyes brighten, a smile comes to his face and he lifts his head, "but before we celebrate could you take me there? You may think me cantankerous and spiteful but I would feel better seeing too. I will not gamble with your safety, even the pernicious miscreant that I am." He lets his head rest back on the pillow and strokes his beard. "Something is troubling about how this has come about. I have been a swindler way too long to not be suspicious of convenient coincidence." He pulls on her hair and draws her closer to his face. "I sat in that uncomfortable wooden chair all night long watching you sleep, watching the window and door, listening to every blasted creak and groan of this old building to make certain that you were not bothered by him. I am not about to let down my guard to a ruse, simple or complicated." He pulls her the rest of the way to his face.

    Ruby lets her lips flutter over Jake’s before pulling her head back. “I really want to be mad at you right now. But I really want to kiss you too. Hmmmm…How can I be mad when you stayed up all night in the uncomfortable wooden chair watching me sleep so I wouldn’t be bothered by you-know-who?” She pretends to be thinking before letting Jake pull her down again, and she returns his kiss passionately.

    Taking a break between kisses she says, “You are so paranoid. But I’ll take you if you want to go. The Sherriff took the cuff link though. Poor guy, he’s real broken up over this dirty little town going to the dogs and all. There’s been lots of dead people showing up in mysterious ways. But he told me about the well and statue and I said I’d go take a look. A little sight seeing adventure for me. But that poor Sherriff is desperate for help and will take any he can get.”

    Ruby rolls on the bed so Jake is half on top of her and she drapes one leg over him. “Now why don’t you swindle me before I take you to what I found? I’m feeling rather frisky.” She starts to kiss Jake but stops and scrunches her nose, “By the way, what’s a ca-tan-ker-os per-ni-c-ous miscreant?”

    "A big meanie," Jake replies with a laugh. "What's so bad about a town going to the dogs? The Lucky Lady went to the dogs and is doing quite well, except for my boots." Jake starts to trace her face with his finger, usually a sure sign that they are not leaving the room any time soon but she notices that his eyes are darting around not really looking at anything. He is thinking.

    "No." He says suddenly. "I need to go see. Then I will not be distracted and we can stay in bed all day." He gives her a kiss and then nearly leaps out of bed and starts to get dressed.

    "Here is what is wrong." Jake starts speaking quickly as he gets dressed. "Turner was strong, and so was Fuzzy. Fuzzy was strong enough to break Nanuet's wrist. It is not easy to wrestle and tie someone like that. Now suppose you are strong enough to tie Turner up. Why does he not call for help before the sun comes up? First person who comes along he takes control of and they free him. Whoever tied him knew the sun would kill him. Would they not also know a stake would kill him? Why tie a very dangerous monster to a stake and wait for the sun when you could kill it immediately? I had Turner in my grasp and he turned into a wisp of air. We know he can get through a crack in a window. How do you keep someone like that tied?" He has dressed quickly and is donning both gun belts.

    "There may be answers to those questions or I may have some of that wrong..." He emphasizes the next statement with a tug tightening his belt, "but there are too many blasted questions. So let us go see and set my mind at ease. I so badly want to be wrong." He takes the derringer out from under the pillow and returns it to his back holster. Sawed off shotgun, duster, hat and then a couple of the acid shells for the shotgun in his pocket. "After you show me the ashes, we go see Colleen. If he is truly gone, she will be able to tell us where he hides his coffin. We can destroy it and be done with him forever." Jake finally reaches over to the pile of long arms and removes a wooden stake which he tucks into the back of his belt. He looks at her and shrugs, "Just in case."

    "Jacob Cook..." Ruby starts protesting by leaning on her elbows and whining his name, but Jake doesn't seem to notice and continues to talk about his theories. After he is finished she stares up at him from the bed.

    "You know, I must be losing my touch. Because I don't remember the last time someone said, 'Let's go hunt monsters instead of staying in bed and #$%^%&*'. I mean, I must be slipping. Because that just doesn't happen to me. I don't think Mr. O'Neil would have said that."

    Jake tenses up as she speaks, clenching his fists as she finishes her diatribe. A bitter retort rises to his lips but he grits his teeth and does not allow it to pass. The anticipation that lit his eyes fades to a dark resolve. He adjusts his duster to occupy his hands in a harmless way.

    She purses her lips but she climbs out of bed anyway. She stares blankly at the door and says flatly, "Let's go."

    Tired, cranky and fuming he manages an unenthusiastic, "Yes." He opens the door for her, his face lightly flushed and forcing himself to take measured breaths. He wordlessly follows her as she leads him outside.

    They get to the street and Ruby leads Jake slowly to the area. She glances at him as they walk, "Jake, I'm sorry I said that. I guess I was still hurt about last night. Things are just so different for us now. I'm not used to anyone saying no, expecially you. Don't be mad at me." She looks at Jake with her big green eyes and she genuinely looks sorry.

    He contains himself to walk slowly and keep her pace even though he feels the pressing need to move faster. "And I am not accustomed to enforcing prudence and discipline on myself, Do I have to tolerate you making me suffer for it too?" He turns his head to face hers, dark circles underscore his eyes. Those eyes are tired and do not quite focus on hers. "Whether you choose to believe me or not, I did not say anything to you with the intent of being hurtful."

    In that brief moment she saw a mix of emotions in his eyes, anger for certain. Was there also sadness and pain? There was more, but her mind struggled to focus and failed before he returns to looking ahead. "I apologize if opened my mouth and revealed I am a blundering, insensitive, and rude lout. Punish me later for my deficiencies. So yes Ru..." he catches himself and glances around quickly to make sure no one was near, "I need to hunt a monster instead of lingering in bed with you today or I predict a disappointing refusal will be the least of our concerns."

    "I understand," she says softly, "I said I'm sorry and I meant it." The unusal crimson blush creeps back onto Ruby's cheeks, "I'm just not used to you not wanting me."

    She starts to reach for Jake's hand but pulls her hand back, keeping it at her side.

    "It's just up this way." Ruby leads Jake through the alleyway and behind Greely's. She brings him right up to the stake and pile of ash. Ruby looks around, slightly confused. "The ropes are gone, and the cufflink they took from me earlier."

    Indeed as Jake and Ruby arrive the scene has been disturbed. The two sets of rope that were on the ground next to the stake are gone, the ash has been sifted through at least once and is now somewhat scattered. Also Ruby realizes that the deputy is gone, although that could just mean that the sheriff came to fetch him.

    Jake walks around the pile, looks up at the sun and buildings and then back at the pile. He kicks it a bit with his boot. He examines the stake for anything that may give him a clue to where it came from and then tests it to see how firmly it is in the ground. He looks down at the pile and shakes his head and says as if to himself, "It makes no sense if you just wanted to destory him. Why not just drag him out into the sun." He looks up to Ruby. "This was timed. But why?"

    He crosses the couple of steps to her and grabs her by both shoulders. "I want you. I really do. I just will not trade a couple of hours for a life time." As he looks into her eyes he furrows his brows for a brief moment. "We should go find Colleen. She should be able to tell us where Turner's coffin is located if she is free of him."

    Ruby's lip trembles but she keeps her tears in. Her fuzzy brain was telling her to listen to him and how much he cared about her to do these things for her, but it was slow processing. She nods her head up and down before throwing her arms around his neck tightly. "You're right baby," she whispers in his ear.

    "We should go see Colleen now." She doesn't move from embracing him. "She might not know about the coffin though, why do you think she would?" she sniffles. Her brain does a little forward thinking and she pulls her head back so she can look him in the face. Jake can see she is confused about something, "But wasn't that Thom guy supposed to be with her? I saw him here this morning."

    "I thought she said she knew where he was but couldn't tell us, maybe she knew more than that," Jake says.

    As looks down at the pile of ash. "As for that," she pushes a toe towards the pile, "You would do it this way if you wanted to frighten someone or punish someone before they died. If you wanted them to see or know it was coming." She shrugs. "Pretty gross actually."

    "Yes, Greely sent Thom to his own house to watch Colleen. We will have to ask around or see Greely to find out where. I was not really very confident that she would survive the night with Thom protecting her, but maybe she was lucky."

    "Why not? He might be slow but he seems nice enough," Ruby says.

    "Uh, sure, nice and stupid. Colleen could easily trick him, and what protection could he be against someone like Turner? No matter, we will find out soon enough."

    Jake wraps an arm around Ruby as they walk. "Shall we try Greely's first?" While walking Jake shares some more of his thoughts. "The morning sun would shine in Turner's room at the boarding house. That would be a good time to go in there. I could probably talk the lawman into opening up that door. That cufflink is enough evidence to suggest that Turner might either be a victim or a murderer. On the other hand," Jake stalls in front of Greely's, "if someone put the old man at the boarding house to sleep we can check the room ourselves. That complicates things an might put us at odds with the local law. We should talk with Colleen before we decide. You should talk to Greely, I sort of made him angry last time we spoke." Jake chuckles.

    "I think the sheriff would let us in, I told you, he wants help." She wraps her arm tightly around Jake's waist, almost holding herself up. "What did you say to Greely to make him mad?”

    "Heh, when he told me I was asking too many questions, I sort of told him someone who rents his whores out to somebody like Turner shouldn't complain about questions. He took offense at that." Jake shrugs and looks like he could not care less about Greely's feelings.

    “What am I supposed to say to Greely? Just find out where Colleen is? He seemed sincere but something was up with that door in his place. He might be in on it, or in on something."

    "Yes, do not tell him much, just find out where Colleen is now. Maybe he is not a bad sort after all, but there is no pressing need to trust him at this time. After you Mrs. Jacobs." Jake makes a small bow and lets her go into the saloon first.

  7. #67
    The saloon is empty at this time of day, except for Thom who is sweeping the floor when they enter. He turns as he hears the door open and smiles a toothy grin. "Hello pretty lady!" he says with enthusiasm.

    "Why hello Thom," Ruby smiles back. "Good morning. It's a pleasant day, isn't it? How did keeping Miss Colleen company go last night?"

    Thom blushes a bit and lowers his head, his eyes looking at the floor. "Oh, I don't know. She is a pretty lady too, but not as pretty as you. She fell asleep right after I got her to Greely's house. I think I fell asleep too. Greely woke me up and told me to get back to work."

    "Well Thom," Ruby says laying her hand on his arm, "I'm sure you did just fine. And thank you for the compliment, I very much appreciate it." Ruby pauses and glances around the saloon. "After you woke up, did you see Colleen? I'd really like to speak to her about something important. Maybe you can tell me where Mr. Greely lives, where she is staying?"

    "No, Greely run the saloon overnight, he not here till later. I saw Colleen when I woke up, she was still sleeping."

    Ruby gives Jake a concerned glance. "Would you mind telling us where she is? I'm sure he won't mind, since we are the ones who told him what to do." She steps a little closer to Thom, "Or should I ask Greeley myself? I just need to know where he lives."

    Ruby pauses a moment. "Thom, do you ever see Greely in the daytime?"

    Thom looks very confused at Ruby's multiple questions. He puts his hand up to his head and rubs the hideous scar. "Uhh... you can't see pretty Colleen now, she is in Greely's house. I have to stay here, can't show you Greely's house. Greely asleep during the day and he works all night."

    Ruby again glances at Jake. "Could you show me which way Greely's house is, point maybe? If you were going to walk there which way would you go? It's very important."

    Thom begins looking nervous. He refuses to look at either Ruby or Jake. He stops sweeping and stands looking down at the floor. "Can't tell you. Greely will get mad, he doesn't like visitors. Can you come see him tonight?"

    "That is good then Thom, we do not want to visit Greely only Colleen. We are worried about her. Who will check on her if Greely is sleeping? I think the doctor may be mad if we do not give Colleen her medicine until tonight."

    Thom snaps the broomstick in his hands as if it were a pencil but continues to stare at the floor. "Please go now. Thom is confused and angry. Mr. Greely works tonight, he much smarter than Thom, he can answer questions."

    "All right Thom, we will go. Mrs. Jacobs and I are just worried about Colleen, just like you are. If you remember anything you want to tell us, find us at the hotel or leave a us a message." Jake shrugs to Ruby and walks to the door.

    "Ja.. my husband is right, Thom, we just want to help Colleen. But we don't want to get you in trouble either." Ruby stands on her toes and softly kisses Thom's cheek. "You've been very helpful already. Thank you. You do a very good job here." She smiles at him and also walks to the door.

    Thom holds the broomstick pieces in his hands and looks at them sadly. "Mr. Greely will be mad. Now I need a new broom." Thom then turns and waves at the couple as they leave the saloon.

    "Well, we can go looking for it on our own, I guess. Interesting he is only around at night? Then again, 3 months ago I was usually only around at night too. I think we should send him a broom. Let's see if we can find a store." Jake looks at Ruby funny but she starts walking off.

    "Let's go in Tinkers," she says, not waiting for Jake to answer before heading inside.

    She walks around, slowly checking out the items, looking for a broom but mostly looking at any other customers or the salesperson.

    Jake sighs and follows along, rubbing his tired eyes and trying to surpress a yawn.

    A young man of average build, wearing a shopkeepers apron and sporting spectacles appears to be busy at work dusting and arranging shelves. A small bell over the door rings as Ruby walks in and the man turns and smiles. "Be right with you folks!" he says in a pleasant voice.

    There are 2 other customers in the store, a young woman and a young boy who is most likely her son. Both dressed plainly and somewhat nondescript. The boy holds a basket that the woman fills with standard household goods. They both look over when the door opens but then continue with their shopping.

    After a minute or so the young shopkeeper comes over to Ruby and Jake and with a smile claps his hands together and says "So folks, is there something I can help you with. Pretty well stocked up right now, got a little bit of everything."

    "Yes, actually, you can. First we need a broom. Then I need a small gift for someone, a man. Mr. Greely actually. Maybe a nice deck of cards?"

    "Broom I can do, no problem." he walks to the back corner towards a bundle of brooms and pulls out a new one. $1 for the broom. As for playing cards, well I should have a standard deck or two. Nothing special."

    The young man rummages through a crate and comes up with a deck. "Here... 30 cents if want them. Brand new."

    "I'll take them both." Ruby walks with him up to the desk. "Actually, I was hoping you could deliver the broom for me, over to Greely's. Thom, the bouncer, should get it. Tell him the pretty redhead and her husband sent it to him," she smiles.

    "As for the cards, I'd like to deliver them myself. Any chance you could tell me where Mr. Greely lives? I'd like to thank him for his special help in person."

    "Sure, I can have it delivered, 10 cents though. As for Greely, if you mean the saloon owner, he lives right up the street here I think, or at least that is where his house is. I think he might crash most times at his saloon though." The young man describes the house and its location thoroughly.

    "Absolutely, $.10. Uh... honey?" Ruby looks over her shoulder at Jake. "You want to pay the man darling husband?" Ruby's mind is still feeling somewhat fuzzy and instead of staying mad she decides to go with it and continue to follow Jake's lead... for now.

    Jake frowns and mumbles, "A dollar for a blasted broom? Plus a dime for delivery? Isby would hang this guy for highway robbery." Jake puts exactly $1.40 on the counter and walks away shaking his head.

    Ruby rolls her eyes. "Sorry about him, he's grumpy today.”

    The shopkeeper is appalled by Jake's tirade and the suggestion that his neck should stretch. He hollers out "Did I offend you sir? Perhaps we can come to a better agreement?" He looks at Ruby and is very distraught. "Did he really mean I should hang?" he says in a worried tone.

    "Oh, no no no... don't worry about him. He got up on the wrong side of the bed today. I'll go take care of him. He just needs some loving care. Thanks for your help!" Ruby starts bouncing out of the store with her deck of cards to find Jake, but turns back, "Don't forget the broom!"

    She finds Jake, tired, grumpy and still looking angry. Ruby stands next to him. "Are you ready to go see Colleen? The sooner we do that the sooner we can get you into bed so you can stop harassing poor shop clerks."

    Jake removes his hat and puts a hand through his hair. "Poor? At a buck a broom he will be one of the richest men in New Mexico in no time." Jake blinks a couple of times. "Colleen. Right. Ya let's be off." Jake puts the hat back on firmly and notes the time from the location of the sun. " Should we get some extra help just in case Mr. Greely is, um, trouble?"

    "Listen, don't take you being grumpy out on that guy. I'm sorry you're mad at me." Ruby takes a small but visible step away from Jake as her pain is visible on her face.

    "What if we have to use other methods to get in? The others haven't said anything about me getting into the boarding house but still..." She pauses. "Mr. Greely should be sleeping. If he isn't he said he was willing to help. Course, that's probably only true if Colleen is still alive. I'd rather go diplomatic but if that store was any indication than I don't know how diplomatic you're going to be. Or a large group would be."

    "What were you thinking?"

    Jake puts his hands on his hips when she calls him grumpy but does not comment on it. "We could keep the others out of sight, behind the house or around the corner. I was thinking you could do all the talking, Greely's already annoyed at me. Maybe you tell Greely that we have convinced Minerva the healer to see Colleen. We offer to bring Colleen to her. If he says no, go get the healer, the others watch the house to make certain he does not run off while we pretend to go get her. I am not too worried about further annoying Greely, but I would rather not get the law angry with us yet." Jake rubs his beard and thinks. "If he does not come to the door and we have to do something illegal to get in we had better have a good reason or be able to talk our way out of it. If the others are out of sight they would not see you open the lock." Jake shrugs. "Let's do something."

    "I don't have any reason to think Greely is really going to be a problem."

    She turns her body so she is facing Jake and looks him in the eyes. "I'm not going to argue with what you want to do. But I say we just go there and talk to him. He seemed very helpful yesterday. I think it's too risky trying to hide all our friends in the daylight around his place." She pauses. "And stop worrying about the law, one way or another, he won't be a problem. Trust me about that please."

    Jake gives her a tired grin. "Well then, you have solved all our problems. I will follow you Mrs. Jacobs."

    Ruby keeps her stare on Jake but gets goosebumps when he calls her Mrs. for the second time that day. Her fuzzy brain was still spinning, but the old days of being able to function while fuzzy had come right back to her.

    She sighs, "I only WISH I could solve all our problems baby. Let's go." She puts the deck of cards in her pocket and together they walk down the street to the house that the clerk had described to them.

    Before they knock Ruby looks over the place, checking for backdoors and easy exits from windows or porches. Then she approaches the front of the house.

    There is a back door, it appears to be from a kitchen area. There is a porch on the front of the house, with a door in the middle flanked by large windows. There are two windows on each side of the building on the ground floor and two in the back as well. There are also 6 windows (two to a side) on the second story.

    She raps on the door, "Hello, anyone home?"

  8. #68
    A sweet female voice responds. "Just a second, I'll be right there."

    A few moments later, Colleen answers the door looking much more refreshed and aware than she did the night before. She looks quite confused to see Ruby and Jake but then smiles warmly. "You're the folks from last night, wasn't expecting you. Greely is sleeping, is there something I can help you with?"

    "Yes,” Ruby says. “Actually we came by to see you and see how you were feeling. May we come in?"

    "Well, I'm not sure that is the best idea, this isn't my place after all. I was getting ready to leave anyways, just being lazy I suppose. Give me a couple minutes and I will gather my things."

    Colleen turns around and heads back into the house. She comes back out carrying a few personal items and says "Not sure if you were looking for someplace private to talk? Other wise we could just stroll around or find someplace to sit for a while."

    "Well, my husband and I do have some private matters to discuss. If you can think of somewhere to go that might be best. Even if we just find a spot to sit, as long as it's out of earshot of others, that is fine."

    "Well there are a couple of benches out by the statue on the west end of town, there is usually nobody out there. Let's head that way and see what we find. Thanks for your help last night by the way, I never expect the kindness of a stranger. Odd, but I almost feel as though I know you from somewhere."

    "Oh, you're welcome, it's my pleasure." She pauses, "You feel like you know me?" Ruby asks curiously. "That is odd, I don't think we've met before last night."

    "Yes, it seems strange, but I feel as though we have some sort of odd connection, not sure where that comes from. If you know Colin as well then I suppose it could be through him, he likes to talk alot about people he meets on the road."

    The trio wanders out to the west end of the town and take seats on one of the benches that are placed near the old lichen encrusted statue of the towns founder Thomas Wilkes. The statue depicts the man standing with his arms crossed, his head angles slightly in a pose. It stands on a stone platform that rises about 3 feet from the ground before the statue begins.

    Beyond the statue, which is pretty much located at the west end of town there is a new "road" that has been constructed. It leads up a small hill about 150 yards away and ends at a large house which also appears to be new. The house however appears to be closed up, all shutters and shades drawn closed.

    Ruby notes the statue and house, and puts returning to investigate on her to do list.

    They walk over to the benches and take a seat. Ruby sits between Colleen and Jake.

    "So, I'd like to know what you know about Colin Turner. Seems he's been a problem for you as well as me."

    "Colin, a problem? I wouldn't say he has been a problem. He is a regular customer, I suppose I am his favorite of all the girls. He treats me OK, gives me gifts and treats me pretty well. What do I know about him? Well I know he travels quite a bit, salesman of some sort I guess. I must admit that I don't listen much when he talks. I will say though that over the past couple of months he has been acting a little weird. Coming in late at night, sleeping all day, and just acting strangely. Less shy and definitely more confident. I am not sure what happened last night but he got spooked by something downstairs... and well after that it is kind of a blur. I don't even remember him leaving."

    "I have a theory about what he was spooked about, but we don't need to get into that now. Have you ever been back to his room before?" Ruby asks.

    "His room in that old run down boarding house? No! I don't make it a practice to go back to customer's houses. Just upstairs at Greely's or the Gordon Hotel."

    "That's a good practice, if you ask me. Hmmm..." Ruby taps her lips, "A couple of months you say? Yes, I noticed him changed too. You mentioned last night that you knew where he was. Do you remember?"

    Colleen blinks a few times and brushes the hair out of her face. She looks as though she is thinking deeply and is puzzled. "You know, I think I do know. The boarding house, that old dumpy place. He was there, after he left me he was there last night."

    Ruby glances at Jake with a "next stop boarding house" look. "I think something befell Mr. Turner last night. I'm not sure he'll be back to visit you again. While we're talking about it, have you ever seen Mr. Greely walking around in the daylight?"

    Colleen gasps at Ruby's news and puts her hand to her mouth. "What happened to Colin? Is he hurt?" She stands up and looks at both of them "Did you do something to him? Did you hurt him? He was not a bad man, he treated me good!"

    "No, not us." Ruby stands and puts her hand on Colleen's arm. "I don't know exactly what happened. But Sheriff Wilson is looking into it and hopefully he'll find out what happened. But keep in mind, I don't think Colin was himself any longer. Don't you remember feeling off last night? I think he put a spell on you."

    "I know last night was strange, I know things were not right, but still..." Colleen begins to cry lightly, then wipes the tears from her eyes and sniffles. "I... I... I don't know about Greely. I usually sleep most of the day too, you know just the ways of the business. I guess I've seen him about during the day, but why does that matter. Seems like an odd question."

    "I know it seems like an odd question but odd things are going on. And I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news. But nothing is definite, have to wait to see what the Sheriff finds out."

    Ruby stands and nods for Jake to follow. "Thank you for you time Colleen."

    She starts turning, then faces the girl. "Oh, something else. That room we were in, is there something special about it?"

    Again Collen takes some time to sort out her thoughts. "You mean the room we were in last night at the saloon? I can't think of anything special about it. I think Colin might use that room exclusively, but I can't say for sure."

    "Oh, so he gets that room all to himself, huh? I'm curious... Mr. Greely wears a pendant around his neck. I really like it. Do you know what it's for?" Ruby asks.

    "He's always had it, I think he got it from and old girlfriend or something. It's pretty nice, but I always thought it was weird for him to wear jewelry."

    "Yes, sometimes it's odd for men to wear jewelry. But I can understand if it's something special. Well, thank you again for your help. Tell Mr. Greely we stopped by."

    "Next time I see him I will. Thanks for helping me out again last night. I think I'll check around to see about Colin, I hope he's OK."

    Ruby nods, "Anytime. Have a good day." She takes Jake by the hand and walks off.

    "So Mr. Jacobs, to the boarding house? I think meeting with Colleen was good indication that the spell of Colin Turner has been broken," Ruby says with a wide smile.

    "Yes Mrs. Jacobs, that sounds like a good idea." Jake seems a bit more convinced about the fate of Colin Turner and a little more lively, even through his exhaustion.

    They head over to the boarding house and check the front door.

    * * *

    Nanuet takes Minerva's hand as they leave the priest’s and wander about the town, no real destination in mind.

    "Well you got some information, not sure if that is what you were looking for or not. Now what? Any more ideas? Go back to the boarding house again, check to see if the old man saw Turner come or go?"

    "It doesn't appear that the Padre is going to much help in this matter.
    The boarding house? Yes, I was thinking that myself. I would like to find a way to get into his room.

    "Yes, I think that priest is over his head when it comes to vampires and the like, but I think he still has his duties to the community to perform. Let's head over to the boarding house again and see what we can find, hopefully we can convince that man to let us into the room." Minerva takes his hand and they walk over to the boarding house and knock on the door.

    Henry Smythe answers the door with a smile on his face. "Welcome back friends. Not finding the hotel to your liking? Looking for more reasonably priced rooming perhaps, I only charge $5 for the week."

    Nanuet smiles back and says. "Actually we are still trying to find our friend, Mr. Turner. We haven't found him yet and we are concerned about him, it is important that we meet with him, have you seen him?"

    Henry Smythe scratches his head. "Well, I thought I heard him in his room this morning, real early. Don't sleep to well any more you know." he says with a chuckle. "Between things going bump in the night and my advanced age... well you don't need to hear that. C'mon in, let's go see if he is home."

    Henry leads them to the back hallway and begins knocking on the door. The old man is shocked when the door swings inward and he realizes it was forced open. The room is a shambles and there are the definite signs of a struggle.

    "Oh my, what has happened here. Guess my hearing is as good as my eyesight!" the old man exclaims.

    Minerva brushes by Senor Smythe and makes her way into the room, where she begins looking around.

    The first thing that Minerva notices is an overturned coffin, the lid appears to have been broken into several pieces. There is no bed in the room. The dresser has also been pulled over, as if someone might have been holding on to it and then pulled away from it. A bookshelf has been disturbed, several of the volumes lying on the floor. The curtains have been fastened tightly to the walls where hey overlapped the window frame, except one window, the eastern facing one. The curtain has been separated from the wall there. There is a face down picture frame with glass shards around it that is lying on the floor. A large trunk is against the wall, it remains unopened.

    Minerva walks over to the picture frame and picks it up off the floor. She turns it over and at looks at it. "Senor Smythe, did you see or hear anyone come in at all?"
    She walks over to the window and examines the sill and outside the window, before making her way back to the old man. "Perhaps it would be best if you went downstairs. There is a lot of glass in here, Senor Smythe. I would not want you to get hurt. If you can find me a broom I will clean this up for you," she says ushering him out the door.

    Once he leaves the room she closes the door of the room and examines the trunk, using a detect magic spell.

    "Oh... well I knew I heard something but the hearing is not too good, I was upstairs last night early. It sounded like it was coming from his room but he can be a bit noisy sometimes, I never complained because he is my only boarder. What? A broom? I can do that, thanks for helping clean up. Not sure what you mean about downstairs though, this is the ground floor and there is no basement."

    The picture is a framed picture of none other than Miss Constance Grace West. The window is closed completely. The trunk does not radiate any magic.

    Nanuet stands in the hallway looking for more clues. He tries the back door which is unlocked. He begins looking outside for tracks.

    Outside Ruby tries the door of the boarding house and finds it unlocked. They walk inside. She whispers to Jake, "Let's see if we can convince the owner to let us in first."

    Jake nods tiredly and rubs his eyes. "I'm following you."

    Ruby calls out, "Hello, Mr. Smyth? It's Ja.. the Jacobs. Hello?"

    "The old man comes out to the front of the building. "Oh, hello. Your other friends are in the back. Looks like Mr. Turner had an accident, I was just getting a broom. They're already back there so you might as well go too."

    "Other friends?" Ruby wipes the surprised look off her face, "Oh yes, right. Thank you sir, we'll just go right back." Ruby nods and starts heading that way.

    Jake's hand brushes his trusty Colt as the near the room.

    While Senor Smythe is getting the broom, Minerva attempts to open the trunk and look through it's contents before searching the rest of the room. When she hears Jake and Ruby's voices she quickly removes the picture from the frame and hides it in the folds of her skirt.

    Ruby peeks in to see Minerva rifling though Colin Turner's belongings.

    "Find anything good?" Ruby asks as she steps into the room with a smile. "Besides the fact that Colin Turner is dead?" She peers around curiously, running her fingers lightly over random items. "Where is Nanuet?"

    Nanuet pokes his head in from outside. "Right here Ruby. What did I just hear you say? Turner is dead? I figured something must have happened when we say his room in shambles. Some turn of events. I found 3 or 4 sets of tracks out here. A couple of big men were here for sure."

    "Yes, he's dead!" Ruby looks around the destroyed room. "Big men, huh? I wonder what happened here..."

    She details the events of the morning, hearing the scream, finding the pile of ash and discovering the cufflink, talking to the Sheriff. She skips over her and Jake fighting and ends with their discussion with Colleen and how the spell over her has been broken.

    "So, I say he's dead and we get the hell out of this crap town as soon as we can. Just in case."

    "In case of what?" Nanuet asks curiously.

    "In case there are others," Ruby responds bluntly, "Others like him."

    "But if there are other's like him shouldn't we do something about it? How are we leaving anyways, is the stage coming back soon?" Nanuet asks.

    "I don't know when the stage is coming back. As for your other question... I don't know who died and made us monster hunters but I'm more than willing to just get the heck out of here. I've had as close a brush with living forever as I'd like. As long as Colin Turner is taken care of that is," Ruby says.

    "Nobody died and made us monster hunters, but I for one would want to do what I could to make sure there are no more of those things around here. I'm just saying that if something comes up between now and between the time the stage shows up that we shouldn't ignore it just because Colin may be gone."

    "That's because you are kind and caring Nanuet. But I've spent the last week absolutely terrified one of those things would get me. I don't know that I want to go out of my way to find more like him." She keeps her fears about Greely and O'Neil to herself. "Why do you think there are more of them around? And," she glances about the room, kicking a pile of clothes on the floor with her toe, "Have you found anything interesting in here?"

    "I didn't get a chance to look in the room before Minerva closed herself in there. I told you what I found outside. As far as being terrified, you don't think I have been concerned about your safety, Minerva's safety, everybody's safety too? That is why I don't want to just run away because Turner might be dead, what if there are more, what if they come after us because they think we killed him?"

    First Ruby looks to Minerva, "Did you find anything?"

    She bites her lips as she tries to process what Nanuet is saying and finally she blurts out, "Might be dead? You don't think he's dead?" She turns to Jake, "Do YOU think he's dead?"

    Mr. Smythe returns with the broom and makes his way into the room handing it to Minerva. "Here you are ma'am, I really do appreciate helping to clean up. I suppose I should go let the sheriff know what happened here, he is going to want to have a look. Might take me a while with these old legs, anybody willing to go fetch him for me?"

    Ruby fakes a sad look. "I'd like to look through my friends things first, to see of I can find a clue as to what happened. I'll go after that if you'd like."

    Minerva takes the broom from Senor Smythe , "Gracias senor, I will clean this up" she says briskly sweeping up the broken glass and the frame into a sheet and wrapping it up into a bundle. "I am sure that this is upsetting to you Senor. Why do you not go and make yourself a cup of tea. We will be out shortly."

    "Don't you be worrying old timer, I'll take a walk and tell the lawman. Go ahead and make that tea," Jake says.

    Jake waits until the old man leaves the room before answering. "I was pretty sure he was NOT until I saw this room. Now I am not so sure. What Colleen told us was very strange. If he was really dead would all her memories of him be that pleasant? She was ready to kill herself last night and today he is a pleasant memory?" He can see Ruby does not like his walking around the answer. "I am not sure. If you want my best guess right now? I would say he is not destroyed. Let us go about proving me wrong shall we?" He walks over to Ruby gives her a gentle hug and a kiss on the forehead. "I will go get the lawman to keep Smythe from being suspicious. Take your time though, I am tired and will be walking very slow." Jake gives them a wink.

    When Jake leaves the room Minerva looks squarely at Ruby. "You may go back to Promise City if you wish. I can see that this does not concern you, but I will not abandon these people to evil. The Padre has told me that there are others of Colin's kind and I fully intend to hunt them down and destroy them all."

    "That's easy for you to say. You didn't have a creature 10 seconds away from whisking you away from the life you love. You didn't have him come into your room and your bed while you were sleeping or force his way into your mind. I count myself one of the innocent people who doesn't want to get killed or unkilled or whatever it is either! If the priest knows about others, why doesn't he do something about it? And how does he know anyway? Or maybe he is one too and is trying to trap you!"

    "No Ruby it is NOT easy to say. I looked into his evil eyes and felt his vile touch also, but I will not succumb to fear. It it because of the possiblility that others can be whisked away from the lives that they love that I must stand and fight. I did not turn my back on you and I will not turn away from the other innocent victims either." She says more gently, "I do not blame you for being afraid and I will understand if you decide to return home, but I cannot."

    Ruby raises an eyebrow but says nothing. Have fun, she thinks. Since Jake hadn't commented she assumed he agreed with her.

    She walks over to the chest and stands behind Minerva. "What's in there?" she asks while Minerva is staring at it. When she gets no answer she says, "Alright, let me know when it's my turn at it." Ruby heads out the door and downstairs, leaving Minerva and Nanuet to continue their search.

  9. #69
    After her talk with the Sheriff, Maddie returns to the hotel where things are fairly quiet. The dining area is still open and some of the locals appear to take their daily meals there. There are a few staff members of the hotel doing cleaning and other chores. Victor Bishop is at the desk when Kate/Maddie walks in.

    "Greetings ma'am. I hope you found everything in your room to be agreeable for you? Any luck finding your family? I asked several of the staff and they agree that they do not remember them staying here."

    Maddie shook her head sadly. "I think they might have just passed through and mailed the letter from here. I'd check it, but my pocket got picked in Albuquerque and the thief got the letter too. Thank you for asking, that was very kind of you.

    I understand the stage doesn't stop here very often, so it's lucky for me your accommodations are good as it seems I'll be here a while."

    “Well I can honestly say that we appreciate the business. Let me know if you need anything."

    "I would appreciate a basin of cool water and a cloth. I have a little headache. Does the town have a doctor at all?"

    "Sure we do! Yeardly Phillips is the town doctor and a right good one if you ask me. Just head north up this block past the Saloon and make a right at the intersection. Doc's place is not to far on the right, you really can't miss it. If you reach Thom's old saloon you've gone to far. Should I draw that bath for you now or are you headed over to the Doc's?"

    "No, no, not a bath. Just some cool water so I can lay the cloth over my eyes. Although a bath might be nice when I get back from the Doctor's. Thank you."

    Maddie smiled at the innkeeper before she walked back out into the street. She followed the simple directions to a building with the doctor's shingle hung out by the door. She knocked firmly on the door, then stepped back, waiting.

    A short, fat, grey haired bespectacled man wearing a threadbare suit answers the door. "Come on in ma'am, my office is open. No need to knock during the day. I am guessing you are from out of town, don't recognize your face. Maybe you were one of the group that got off the stage the other night when we were burying that poor girl?"

    "Yes sir," Maddie said stepping inside. "Although I just met the others on the train. We happened to all be coming here. I was looking for family, but it seems they only passed through here.

    It's rather upset me, I'm afraid. I thought they were here. I've been traveling alone, and I've been hearing strange things since I came here. Maybe it's just my worrying, but my head is hurting today and I'm out of portion tired."

    "Well now, lets have a look at you. Hop up on the bed right there and tell me all your troubles. How have you been eating, have you been out drinking, how much sleep did you get last night. I want to hear anything that might be troubling your physical condition."

    Maddie hopped up on the table and yawned. "I've been eating fine, except this morning. But that's because I saw the cook licking her fingers and that disgusted me a bit. I've been out, but I never have more than three glasses of wine all night. I think I slept most of last night, but not deep. I woke up and went back to sleep a lot.

    Traveling has been fun, mostly. But I got my pocket picked in the last town, and here.... well there seems to be something wrong in this town. And with my family not here, maybe I'm just a bit scared."

    The doctor comes over and asks Maddie to stick out her tongue. He does a few other simple exams and declares that she seems to be in good health. "I can give you something for your headache and will recommend that you lie down and take it easy until you feel well again." The doctor than takes out a small brown bottle and places it on a nearby ledge. He pours a glass of water from a pitcher then adds a couple drops from the brown bottle and stirs the water. "This should help relieve your headache so you can get some rest. Is there anything else I can assist you with?"

    "Will this make me fuzzy-headed?" she asked, taking the glass. "I need to get myself back to the hotel.

    You've been very kind; perhaps you can ease my mind. I've heard a lot of rumors in town about people dying, but no one gives any detail. What's happening?"

    "It might make you a bit fuzzy headed, but for a one time use I am not too worried about it, but that is why I recommended you rest for some time, until you feel well again. As for the people dying, the rumors are true, but then again people die all the time. I wouldn't worry yourself over such things." The doctor seems to dismiss the question as quickly as possible and proceeds to put the medicine bottle back away.

    "Do you need someone to escort you back to the hotel? Make sure you get there without trouble? I could arrange that for you if you'd like."

    "I would be grateful for an escort. Thank you." Kate looked down at the glass, wondering if there was some way to avoid drinking it. She'd seen enough women drinking laudanum to know what it did to your ability to think. "Doctor, please. Everyone seems so nervous here. Are there any precautions I should take?"

    "Just mind your own business I suppose, keep your nose out of trouble and get on the first stage heading out of here. Let me fetch somebody to escort you home. And uh, you have to drink that before you leave here ma'am, can't take it with you. The fee will be 50 cents."

    The doctor then steps out onto the street, apparently looking for someone to escort Maddie back to the Gordon Hotel. He is gone for a couple minutes leaving Kate alone. When the doctor returns he is still alone and he flips the sign on his door from "Open" to "Closed" and offers to walk Maddie back himself.

    "Didn't see anyone I particularly trusted to escort you ma'am so I'll do it myself. Before you protest, I insist. I don't need anyone who doesn't feel well leaving my office and getting themselves into any trouble. Whenever you feel ready we can leave." The doctor steps out onto the street for a moment, leaving Kate alone.

    She hopped down off the table and looked for a convenient place to empty her glass. There was a bucket with some liquids in it, so she added the contents, then set down the glass next to where she had been sitting. She waited a few minutes, then put a soft little smile on her face and stepped outside.

    "I'm ready, Doctor," she said, fumbling a bit as she took his arm.

    "It's been quite some time since I had the honor of escorting a lady anywhere." Doctor Yeardly says with a chuckle. "Give the medicine some time to work, it should dull the headache for you while you rest. If your symptoms should continue past tomorrow please come and visit me again."

    The doctor walks with Maddie over to the Gordon Hotel and up to the door and wishes her the best even giving her a slight awkward bow before waddling off back to his building.

    "Thank you, Doctor. I'll be sure to do that." She waited on the steps for a moment as the doctor walked away. He hadn't been very informative, but he at least seemed competent and to care about his patients. Hopefully they wouldn't have need of his services.

    Maddie went back inside and found Mr. Bishop. "I'd like that bath now, if it's not too much trouble."

    "No trouble at all miss, I'll take care of that right away for you."

    Victor Bishop calls for one of his staff to prepare a bath for Maddie's room and the task is undertaken immediately.

    While the bath is being prepared, Maddie sat downstairs in the dining room, listening to whatever conversations she might pick up. She considered asking where the others were, but she didn't want to seem to interested in her friends. Beside still feeling a little offended by Ruby's attitude earlier.

    It was about a quarter-hour later when they told her the bath was ready, and she soaked gratefully. It hasn't been a lie that her head hurt, but even the bath was not quite as satisfying when she wasn't wearing her own skin.

  10. #70
    Ruby finds Mr. Smythe in the kitchen and asks, "May I have some tea too?" He smiles and nods at Ruby. She casually hops up on the kitchen table, leans her palms flat and starts swinging her legs.

    "So... don't you find it odd that Mr. Turner has a coffin in his room instead of a bed?"

    Mr. Smythe pours a cup of tea for Ruby and offers cream and sugar. "Heck yes I find it strange! I'm sure glad someone else is here to see it too so I know I'm not losing my marbles. I make it a point to never get into my boarder's business as long as they pay on time and Mr. Turner was always a good customer and never caused any trouble." Mr. Smythe rubs his eyes and then shakes his head. "Just what is this world coming to?"

    "Perhaps it's time for you to pay a little closer attention, Mr. Smythe." Ruby continues to swing her legs. "I think my friend Colin was up to no good. From the looks of his room, someone agreed. Is there anything else you could tell me about his habits... did anyone ever come and visit him here?"

    "Uh well... he may or may not have had visitors. He used the back door when he came and went, and I would say he was out of town more often than he was here. I don't recall ever seeing him bringing any visitors by. I wonder what could have happened to him. Maybe I should just go get the sherriff myself."

    The old man drinks his tea very quickly then stands up. "I had better get going, you are right, things here are very wrong."

    Ruby had to stop herself again from saying Jake's name. "Ja..uh... Mr. Jacobs already went to go and get him. They should be back soon I would think. I bet he'll have a lot of questions, the Sheriff that is. Seems some strange things have been going on around here lately."

    "That's why I tend to stay here and mind my own business. Do my shopping once a week, stay at home. Doesn't pay to get involved most of the time."

    "I understand. I'm going to go back to Mr. Turner's room if you don't mind. Keep an eye out for my husband and enjoy your tea. It'll be ok."

    After Ruby leaves, Minerva opens the trunk she is startled to see the contents. One of Ruby's dresses (the cream colored one with flowers on it, the one she was wearing the night that George Eastman "killed" her) is in the trunk along with many other items of fine men's clothing. There are a few more pictures of Ruby, in a package with a label indicating that they came from Fly's studio back in Promise City. There is a men's grooming kit as well as several pairs of shoes and a shoe horn. At the bottom of the trunk were a couple fairly large cases with latches on them. One had the words "Edison Speaking Phonograph Company" on it while the other says "Remington Typewriter" on it.

    Minerva hides the surprise on her face and rifles through the clothes. She pulls out some of the mens garments and stuffs the gown and the pictures to the bottom of the trunk. She pulls out the two boxes before she closes the trunk and sits on the lid. She begins to go through the pockets of the clothing.

    Ruby returns to the room a few minutes later and asks if Minerva has found anything. Receiving no answer, she says, "Hello, Minerva... I asked if you found anything?" Finding her sitting on the trunk Ruby is immediately suspicious. "What's in the trunk?"

    Minerva sighs in exasperation. "Well there's some other stuff in the trunk but I don't think that this a good time or place to talk about it, Ruby. I'd rather wait for Jake to get back and maybe get back to the hotel before I open this can of worms. Can you at least trust me that much?"

    "Trust you for what? Why can't I see what's in there? Why would it matter if Jake was here? I don't understand." Ruby looks Minerva in the eyes, genuinely confused.

    "Ruby, it is not that you cannot see what is in the trunk. I just think that it would be best to wait until Jake returns. He will be back soon."

    "Alright Minerva, I'll wait. But I still haven't heard a reason WHY I have to wait. I'm not a child." Ruby turns her attentions to the rest of the room, searching for any other out of the ordinary clues she can find.

    "Gracias, Ruby." Minerva turns away and rolls her eyes at the comment. She rights the chest of drawers and begins going through its contents.

    As she continues searching she starts rambling. "You know, that guy, Mr. Smythe, there is something strange about him. I mean, don't YOU think it's weird that Colin has a coffin in here to sleep and wouldn't he think something was up?" Ruby kicks the coffin with the toe of her boot. "Especially with all the strange things in this town? Maybe he's one too. Then again... it is daytime right now, isn't it. That might prove he isn't. But what kind of landlord doesn't care what his tenants are doing? In his own place?" Ruby shakes her head. "It's too odd around here."

    Nanuet returns to searching outside while Minerva continues to search through the room and Ruby ponders several things while waiting for Jake to return.

    About 20 minutes goes by before Jake and Sheriff Wilson return to the boarding house. They come to the back of the house and the Sheriff takes a quick look at the room before he says "Please don't touch anything else, I'd like to try and get an idea about what happened here. I'm going to take Mr. Smythe in the other room here and ask him some questions. Please, if you would hang around until I'm done I would appreciate it."

    "This room is no place for a lady. I would prefer not to linger here," she says looking at the sheriff with wide eyes. "Would it be alright if you met us back at our hotel?" Minerva says looking faint for the Sheriffs benefit.

    "Yes, we'll wait," Ruby adds over Minerva's protests.

    "I'd rather have you stay here. If you'd like you can wait in the living room out front for now. Give me a few minutes with Mr. Smythe and then I'll get to you. Thanks for your cooperation."

    Sheriff Wilson leads Smythe into the kitchen where anyone listening will hear a typical investigation going on, the sheriff asking what Mr. Smythe might have seen or heard, the last time he saw Mr. Turner, did he know anyone who might wish Mr. Turner harm, etc.

    Ruby patiently waits for the Sheriff to walk out. "Now that Jake is here let's look in the trunk. Unless you want to keep hiding what's in there... I want to see before the Sheriff. Oh and where is Nanuet?"

    Minerva turns to Ruby annoyed that she has once again over run her suggestion. "I am not trying to hide anything from you. It is just that I am aware of how unnerved you have been by Colin Turner's attraction to you and well.. the contents of the trunk are a bit of a shock." She shrugs her shoulders and walks away from the trunk. "Have it your way. I thought you would appreciate it if Jake were here for support. I also thought that it would be best to confront this back at the hotel where we at least had some privacy but… shoot me for caring," she says out of patience and leaves the room in search of Nanuet.

    Minerva bumps into Nanuet on her way out to look for him. He joins the others in Colin's room and waits for the Sheriff to come back to them.

    Ruby walks over to Minerva and places her hand on her friends arm. "Minerva, I appreciate you looking out for me but if we're not in this room how can we see what's in the trunk? And what could possibly be in there that is so unnerving? If you want me to wait I will trust you. But maybe Jake should look before we leave?"

    Minerva gives Ruby a weak smile. "I am sorry for being so short with you. It was quite rude of me. My only excuse is that I am tired of this whole business and quite worried about how it is affecting you." She gives her friend a hug. "I think that having Jake take a peek in the trunk and letting him decide how to proceed is a good idea." She walks over to Jake, pulls the picture out of the folds of her gown and hands it to him face down. "I found this in a frame on the floor also."

    Ruby gives Minerva a quick hug before she walks over to Jake, handing him something that looked like paper. "You are a good friend Senorita, worrying about me so." Ruby stays by the door, kicking at some broken furniture while watching with curiosity. "Although you have gotten me even more anxious to know what could possibly be so bad."

    Chester arrives in Turner’s room at the boarding house and asks, "Did you find anything in here? There wasn't much to see on Boot Hill. It doesn't look like anyone climbed out of any of the recent graves."

    Minerva looks back at Ruby reassuringly. "You have been trough a lot of late, Ruby. If Colin Turner is truly destroyed than the contents of the trunk are not 'bad' just a bit unnerving, that is all. I did not want to cause you any more distress if it could be avoided."

    "But Jake doesn't think he is destroyed. Do you? Besides, I'm going to find out one way or the other. But I'll do it your way if you think it's better."

    While the sheriff is in the kitchen with Smythe, Chester asks Jake to cover for him while he searches the roll-top desk he saw earlier.

    "Sure Chet, I'll keep an eye out for you. Shouldn't be too hard, Sheriff suggested we wait out there anyways. Go ahead."

    "Jake does not think that he is destroyed?" she raises her arm and motions around the room. "It would appear from the condition of this room that he is no longer here and when we destroy his coffin he will not be able to return. I think it is best that we save this discussion and the contents of the trunk until we are in the privacy of the hotel. We do not know who may be listening." She follows Jake and Ruby out of the room.

    Ruby whispers to Minerva, "But how are we going to get the trunk? It doesn't belong to us."

    "We don't need the trunk Ruby," she whispers back. "We'll just tell you what's in it."

    Chester makes his way quietly out to the old rolltop desk. It doesn't seem like it has been used since his last look at it. He takes one last look at it and rolls the top back.

    Inside the desk are several stacks of papers and a few inkpots. There is a stamp and some wax for making seals as well as several ledgers. There is also a humanoid skull sitting near the back of the desk, it's eyeless sockets staring right at Chester.

    Chester jumps when he sees the skull. "What in Hades is that?" He looks over his shoulder at the hallway to see if Smythe is coming back. Seeing no one, he picks up the seal and checks the business end.

    The end of the stamp is a rather ornately designed letter "S".

    Nanuet coughs loudly to get the attention of the ladies who are talking in the room.

    "Oh, all done with Mr. Smythe Sheriff?" Nanuet says loudly. "I'll go get the others, I think they retired to the living room."

    Nanuet leaves the girls with the Sheriff and heads to the living room to warn Chester that the sheriff is done questioning Mr. Smythe.

    Chester quickly puts the seal back and closes the desk. He nods to Nanuet when the desk is back the way it was.

    "Let's get Jake and head back to Turner's room." Nanuet says quietly. They head by the kitchen where Jake seems to be doing a good job keeping Mr. Smythe engaged in conversation.

    "Jake, I think the sheriff wants to speak with us now." Nanuet says and the three of them head to the back room to join the sheriff and the two ladies.

    The sheriff begins wandering through the room and shakes his head. "I'm at a loss. Do you ladies have any clue what might be going on around here?" he says in an exasperated tone.

    "Well, it looks like someone came and dragged my poor friend Colin Turner off. Which would be a task, because he was very strong and fit," Ruby says.

    "Hmmm... has anyone checked outside yet to see if there were any tracks? I wonder if this has anything to do with the cufflink we found earlier today? But why in the blazes would he just be a pile of ash? I am wondering if I am losing my marbles here."

    Ruby looks Minerva before speaking. "Well, you might be losing your marbles. But remember when I asked you earlier if you believed in fairy tales and you said you were starting to believe in ghost stories?""

    She waits for him to nod before she continues. "Well, we think Colin Turner is a monster, like out of a bad fairy tale. Actually, we know it to be true, we saw it ourselves." Despite the look on the Sheriff’s face Ruby continues.

    "He's a vampire. And we think you have more than one. It explains all your problems here."

    The sheriff looks shocked at Ruby's response. "A what? A vampire? What the hell is that? You said some sort of monster but... wow, I am really over my head here. I thought this would be an easy job, small town and all. I hope this Edwards fella gets here real quick!"

    Jake has been doing much listening and looking, trying to absorb and make sense of it all. So far without much luck. He has peeked at what Minerva has given him, but quickly kept it hidden. After several minutes of stroking his beard he says, "Sheriff, do you mind if I examine that coffin in detail, I suggest you do the same while we chat."

    "By all means, examine all you want. I have piles of ashes, missing deputies, missing bodies, people dying on me left and right and not a clue where to start. Please, feel free to examine anything you'd like at this point."

    "Missing deputies?" Jake asks.

    "After Mrs. Jacobs here left my office I chatted with her friend for a few more minutes. Then I went back to get my deputy whom I left at the scene, you know to keep an eye on things. He was gone by the time I got back. Haven't seen him yet."

    "He did not bring back anything as evidence then?"

    "Who, Al? I said I haven't seen him. I got a cufflink fashioned in the initials 'C.T.' from your lady here this morning when I arrived at the scene. Didn't have a chance to get any other evidence yet. I'm a simple law man, I'm not a Pinkerton or anything."

    Chester pulls the cufflink he found out of his pocket. "Does it look like this one? I found it in the hotel room where Miss Fuller was found. It was under the bed.

    Sheriff Wilson turns from examining the trunk and looks at the cufflink that Chester is presenting to him. "Yeah, it looks just like that one." he says, producing the matching one from his breast pocket. "You found that at the Gordon Hotel? I thought I searched that place pretty good?"

    "The priestess can tell you about vampires better than I can ,” Ruby says, returning to the sheriff’s unanswered question. “He used to be a man, a nice man, and he got changed somehow, by another one of him. They suck all your blood out. This one," Ruby kicks at the coffin, "Threatened to make me one of him, he told me I would live forever."

    "Suck out your blood?" The sheriff's face begins turing as pale as one of the recent victims. "Well I guess that explains the state of the folks who have passed here recently. But if he was one, what happened to him?"

    "I'd love the answer to that question so I could start resting easy again that I won't have to roam the earth for eternity," Ruby answers flatly. "We're looking here for clues. Minerva said there was something in the trunk but I don't what it is."

    "Well lets open that trunk then and take a look see right away. Excuse me folks.” Sheriff Wilson makes his way through the mess of the room to the trunk.

    "Uh, Sheriff, who lives in that new house, the one with the path by the statue?" Ruby asks.

    “That's Bobby Whittaker's house, I never did like him much. Is he the one you think is behind all this?"

    "Oh, I don't know about that. He didn't seem to like me very much when I played cards with him. But it does seem strange in this run down town that he has a nice new... dark... home."

    "We all said the same thing,” Wilson says. “Even if you do have money why would you want to build a home here? Hangs out with some of those wood elves I think too. I wouldn't be surprised if this was his doing. He only moved into town about 4 months back after that place was built."

    "Is that when you're problems started?" Ruby continues to watch him closely as he starts to open the trunk.

    Minerva moves to block Ruby's view of the trunk but she knows that it is already too late. "Ruby, you might not want to see this just yet."

    Jake abandons his attempt to examine the coffin and instead goes to stand by Ruby. He puts an arm around her waist and whispers into her ear, "Apparently Turner had items to remind him of you in there."

    "Well, they really started about 6 weeks ago, but definitely not before he showed up."

    While continuing the conversation Sheriff Wilson opens the trunk. Ruby is already standing over him looking at an envelope she pulled off the top. A puzzled look comes over his face. "Well that is odd, there is a woman's dress in here" he says holding up a cream colored dress with a flower print.

    "Looks like there is some men's clothes and some sort of cases, probably for his salesman job."

    "What?" Ruby slips out of Jake's grasp and makes her way to the trunk. She looks past the sheriff and into the trunk, finding on top the envelope labeled Fly's Photography Studio. She snatches it and opens it quickly, the envelope tearing in the process. A handful of photographs come flying out, all photographs of Ruby, the ones she took at Fly's Studio right before the festival. She stands with her mouth hanging open as they flutter to the floor.

    The sheriff looks at the pictures as they land on the floor. "My word!" he exclaims. "Those are pictures of you Mrs. Jacobs! This is just crazy! Is this your dress as well?"

    Ruby's mouth remains open and she stutters, ignoring the Sheriff’s comment, "T-that's m-my dress!"

    "Sheriff, may I make a suggestion? You could go speak to Mr. Greely, he was one of the last people to see Turner last night. See what he can tell you, but do it outside his home in the daylight. I will explain afterwards. Perhaps Mr. Martin would accompany you?" Jake nods to Chester. "I heard him say he was a soldier, and from his looks I bet he can handle himself. I think I need a few minutes with my wife right now."

    "Well one thing I am usually pretty good at is judging people's reactions to things, and I am pretty sure you are more surprised to see this than I am," Sheriff Wilson says.

    "Have you ever considered a career as a lawman Mr. Jacobs? I reckon you'd be a might fine one. Mr. Martin, it's up to you if you want to come along, but Mr. Greely seems like a good place to start. If you see my deputy, tell him I am looking for him. I think after I see Greely I'll check the telegraph office to see if we got any news about Nolan Edwards, then head back to my office. Thanks for all your help folks."

    Sheriff Wilson exits the room, has a few words with Mr. Smythe and then leaves the boarding house.

Quick Reply Quick Reply

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 0
    Last Post: Wednesday, 23rd March, 2011, 07:40 AM
  2. Replies: 468
    Last Post: Tuesday, 9th November, 2004, 11:02 AM
  3. New story hour: "Dusk in the Land of Fading Stars"
    By Femerus the Gnecro in forum *General Roleplaying Games Discussion
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: Tuesday, 23rd July, 2002, 09:33 PM
  4. [story hour] "Out of the Frying Pan" MONSTROUS DOUBLE-SIZED UPDATE!!
    By el-remmen in forum *General Roleplaying Games Discussion
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: Thursday, 16th May, 2002, 08:19 AM
  5. [story hour] "Out of the Frying Pan" UPDATED! - Session #28 FINALLY COMPLETED!
    By el-remmen in forum *General Roleplaying Games Discussion
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: Sunday, 5th May, 2002, 07:39 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts