"Revenge, Renewal and the Promise of a New Year" (Boot Hill/D&D)

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  1. #1
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    "Revenge, Renewal and the Promise of a New Year" (Boot Hill/D&D)

    This story is set in the Arizona Territory of the American West. The campaign uses hybrid Boot Hill and D&D rules and draws upon elements from both actual history and historical fiction. This is a parallel campaign that is set on the same world as the “Arcade’s Gang” Story Hour, which can be found at the following link.

    World Background:

    The primary religions in this campaign are the Greek/Roman, Celtic, Norse, Native American and Central American pantheons (with no Judeo-Christian religion). The native populations of the world are as follows: Central Europe, southern Europe and Mediterranean regions = Humans; Northern Europe = Dwarves; Native America = Elves and Centaurs; Central & South America = Wood Elves; Africa = Ogres; Australia = Halflings; East Asia = Orcs and Half-orcs; India = Goblins; Pacific Islanders = Gnomes; Antarctica = Giants and Bugbears.

    Europe had major upheavals during the 14th to 16th century, but rather than the Protestant Reformation the conflict was regarding Clerical Magic vs. Wizard Magic. The Clerical-magic countries of Great Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia, Germany, Italy and Greece colonized most of North America. The Wizard-magic countries of France, Portugal and Spain colonized Central and South America. The world itself is “low magic”, where the vast majority of the people do not use magic at all and most priests, sorcerers, wizards and bards tend to be no higher than 5th Level.

    Primary Cast of Characters:
    Chester Martin, "the ex-soldier", male human fighter (SteveJung)
    Jake 'Silver Dollar' Cook, "the gambler", male human fighter (Barad the Gnome)
    Katherine Kale, "the wealthy widow", female human expert (Orchid Blossom)
    Nanuet, "the avenging Indian", male elf ranger (rgmc64)
    Ruby West, "the saloon girl", female human bard (Queenie)
    Sonoma, "the Cantina singer", female wood elf bard/druid (Kriskrafts)

    Secondary Cast of Characters:
    Alison "Al" Caine, "the lady gunslinger", female human fighter (Randomling)
    Black Isaac O'Dell, "the ruthless gunslinger", male human fighter (Piratecat)
    Chow Wei Hung, "the martial artist", male half-orc monk (Sir Osis of Liver)
    Duncan MacRaibert, "the tracker", male human druid (Celticwolf)
    Storm Golden Eye, "the Indian maiden", female centaur druid (Kriskrafts)

    Chapter One: “Katherine’s Story”, January 1, 1882, 7:00 P.M.

    As she looked out at the setting sun from the window of her room at the El Parador Cantina and Hotel, Katherine Kale smiled for the first time in months. She thanked Pedro Figueres, the owner of the three-story stone, adobe and timber building, for carrying her trunk up to the room. After he left she shut and locked the door, lit the lantern in the sparcely furnished room, and began to unpack. She soon came upon the book bound with blank pages that had been purchased last summer back in New England. She had intended for it to be a journal of her new life out west, although until this moment she had not been able to bring herself to write in it. But today was her first day in a new town, and on the first day of a new year, so it seemed an appropriate time to begin. She sat down on the bed and placed the book on the small bedside table, picked up her mechnical fountain pen and reflected back upon the events that had brought her here.

    “Everyone had agreed that moving to Arizona was the best thing to do. Thomas’s doctor insisted that he would never be truly well if we stayed in Massachusetts, and with the business failing it wouldn’t be long before we could no longer afford the doctor’s fees. Once he’d recovered enough, Thomas left for our new life in Arizona while I stayed behind to oversee the sale of our home and most of our belongings.

    I don’t think I can describe how lonely I was after he left. Even during the worst times of sickness, when he didn’t even know me, we were together. To have him go away so soon after he recovered nearly broke my heart. Still, the doctor said the “prairie cure” would have Thomas back to full health in no time, and a few months apart was a small price to pay for that.

    He left in July, and it was October before he wired me to join him in the town of Tombstone, Arizona. His letters had been infrequent, but increasingly cheerful. He’d found work and made friends, and was glad to hear that I’d had little trouble in selling the house and most of our things. I hated giving up my grandmother’s piano, but one cannot move a piano on a train. I did keep back a beautiful green traveling dress. I wanted to be pretty for Tom when I stepped off the train. But Tom wasn’t at the station when I arrived in Tombstone.

    That green dress was the last time I wore color. Tom’s friend Colby Tucker met me at the train and broke the news. Arizona had not been good for Tom’s health after all. A few days after he cabled me he fell ill again and passed on the day before my arrival. Both Mr. Tucker and Tom’s landlady seemed uncomfortable when I asked to see his body, but they finally took me to the undertaker. It seems morbid, I know, but I hadn’t seen my husband for months, and I knew if I didn’t see his body I would never quite believe he wasn’t still just away on a trip. I visited the town’s only dressmaker, a Frenchman named Henri, to obtain appropriate mourning clothes. I purchasing the black dress that I am now wearing.

    He was buried that afternoon. It was quiet, with just a few people there. I could hear many of them whispering, mostly hearing, “Mrs. Kale,” or “his Katie,” as word of who I was spread. They were very kind, but uncomfortable, perhaps because as much as they may have liked my husband, I was a stranger.

    I spent the first two months of mourning at Tom’s boarding house not seeing anyone except for at meals and even then I kept to myself. It was then that I came to the realization that I couldn’t stay in Tombstone. I couldn’t imagine ever being happy there, as it would always remind me of Tom’s death. Even the town’s name spoke of death. I briefly considered going back east, but that almost felt like betraying Tom. We had planned to build a life here, and I couldn’t conceive of changing our plans. So this afternoon, the first day of the new year, I boarded the stage for Promise City, Arizona. Only a couple hours away, I would still be close enough to Tom’s resting place to visit, but I wouldn’t be living under the shadow of his passing.

    The variety of people who boarded that stage with me came as a surprise. Some of them were races I’d never even seen before. I tucked myself in a corner away from the bald half-orc and the Indian. The Indian was attired in leather clothing and beads, with a large knife in his belt and a bow strapped across his back. We heard stories of the fierceness of Indians in the East. I try not to pay heed, but I’ll admit to being a bit frightened by him, as well as the centaur who seemed to intend to walk alongside the stage. The centaur was female, and was shamelessly attired only in a short top that barely covered her chest.

    There were other worrisome figures in the coach as well. One was a man with a low voice and a long drawl chewing on a matchstick. He wore black clothing, a black hat, with a dark leather duster. He also carried an arsenal of weapons, with both a revolver and lasso on his belt, a carbine rifle and a shotgun by his side, and a Bowie knife protruding from each of his well-made boots. The man made me nervous, and I touched the cold metal of Tom’s pistol hidden in my skirts and scooted a bit closer to the sweet-faced red haired girl to my left. She was attired in a pretty dress and unlike our companions had no visible weapons. She smiled at me and introduced herself as Ruby West.

    The man seated next to Ruby appeared innocent enough. wearing well-worn English-style clothes. He had a friendly smile, but a bulge under his jacket pocket hinted of a concealed firearm. I decided it best to remain cautious with him, which appeared easy enough to do, as he seemed more interested in Ruby than myself. Sitting beside him was a halfling. The little man was dressed in a brown three-piece suit, with a pocket watch on a gold chain hanging from a vest pocket. He wore a dusty black top hat and propped his hairy bare feet up atop a small overstuffed case with papers protruding from where the case closed.

    I watched the last passenger entered the stage, an androgynous figure wearing western clothing and a gun belt with a pair of Colt pistols and extra ammunition. The passenger sat down and hunched in the remaining seat, directly across from me, as the Wells Fargo Company stage lurched forward. It appeared that we all wanted to get to Promise City. I was grateful that in a couple of hours we would be there and we could then all go our separate ways. Little did I know that fate would have other ideas.”

    Special thanks to Orchid Blossom for assisting with the writing of this chapter.
    Last edited by Silver Moon; Monday, 5th September, 2005 at 07:07 PM.


  • #2
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    You should probably take my character out of the list - I doubt I'm going to have time to play in the game. Sorry!
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    Played in Swordlands Story Hour -campaign now completed.
    DM of 4e Adventure Path Story Hour - last updated 8th June 09, game now ended.
    Sadly, neither link now works but you can search for either game in the forum itself.

  • #3
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    Sorry to hear that Tallarn. The winner of the "name the campaign" contest was Baradthegnome, with "Revenge, Renewal and the Promise of a New Year". I kept the prior one now so that people would still be able to find the thread but will change it when posting the next chapter. Now on to the second chapter:

    Chapter Two, “The Talkative Halfling”, January 1st, 1882, 2:30 P.M.

    The halfling looked around the stagecoach at his traveling companions. The first half-hour of the ride had been quiet, the only conversation being when the two human females exchanged a few words with each other. The little man’s curiosity about who these people was getting the better of him so he decided to get people talking. He exclaimed in his high-pitched thick Australian accent “Hello everybody, my name is Chumbley, Hezekiah B. Chumbley to be precise. So, what brings you to Promise City?”

    The man in black gives the halfling a stern look and replies in a low deep voice “This stagecoach”. The halfling laughs at that and says, “No, I mean, why are you going there? Who wants to start?” The woman in the red dress says, “My name is Ruby West. I’m going there to find work. I hear that there are a number of saloons and dancehalls where I could sing and dance at.” The woman in the black dress speaks next, introducing herself as Katherine Kale. She briefly explains about her husband’s recent passing and how she is going to Promise City for a fresh start. “Okay, who wants to go next?” the little man exclaims.

    A long pause follows. The hunched over person who was the last one to enter the stage speaks up. Several of the passengers are surprised to hear a female voice come from who they perceived to be a cowboy. She says that her name is Alison Caine but to just call her Al. When the halfling presses her for more details she replies, “I’m going to visit some kin of mine in the town.”

    He asks the man in black, “And what is your story?” The man just gives him a dirty look in reply, his face growing dour as the halfling continues to talk. The remaining human is then asked who he is. The man replies with a Scottish accent “My name be Duncan MacRaibert. I be originally from Scotland and am a Celtic priest”.

    “And you my green-hued friend?” the halfling asks the good-sized bald oriental half-orc. He replies in a Chinese accent, “I am Chow Wei Hung. I come from a monetary in China. I am exploring the American west and in keeping with my faith help those in need.” “Very Honorable,” the little humanoid states. He next asks the Indian, who replies, “I am Nanuet. I have business with a man said to be in Promise City.”

    The halfling then blurts out “What an interesting group. I’ll bet you all want to know about me!” Silence follows. The man in black then mutters, “I hope you don’t gamble much.” Chumbley ignores the comment and excitedly states, “Well, I currently reside in Tombstone, but I’ll be making frequent visits to Promise City. I’m a reporter for the Tombstone Epitaph.” “Cheery title,” The man in black states.

    Chumbley responds, “Indeed, and a fine paper it is. Far better than the unscrupulous rag they currently sell in Promise City. That’s the purpose of my trip, to sell Volume 1 of the Promise City Edition of the Tombstone Epitaph. And a true value for your money it is. For the same price as the Promise City Herald, only a nickel, you can now get eight pages rather than four. And unlike them our news reporting is honest. That other paper is biased and prints distorted accounts of the news. If you want to find out what’s really happening mine is the paper to buy.”

    Ruby asks, “What has been happening in Promise City.” The halfling replies, “Lots of stuff. But you’ll have to wait until we get there to buy a copy of the paper. I’ve got them all right here in my trunk.” The man in black says, “Let me see one of those.” Chumbley replies, “No can do. Have to wait until we get there before you can buy one.” The man replies, “I didn’t say anything about buying one.”

    Chumbley then exclaims, “Well, you’re all traveling to a very exciting place. Promise City is located dab smack in the middle of the Sulfur Spring Valley, situated between the Dos Cabezas, Dragoon and Chiricahua Mountain ranges. With the runoff from the mountains the valley has the most fertile grasslands in the whole Arizona Territory and supports a number of cattle ranches. The community itself started up only a few years ago when silver was discovered at the Breakheart Mine. Since then three other mines were discovered in the hills right around the same area and the town grew up in the small flat area between them. The town is a lively place with lots of saloons and businesses for the miners to spend their money at.”

    The Indian Nanuet asks, “What’s the story with that group known as Arcade’s Gang? Isn’t that town where they hang out?” Chumbley replies, “Oh, those guys. They showed up and caused some trouble in the town last spring. It was during the summer when they really made a name for themselves. That was when Billy the Kid and the James Gang came to town. The outlaws robbed a bank the homes of several of the town’s wealthiest citizens. Arcade’s Gang then cornered Billy and several of his accomplices in the home of the gambler Conrad Booth. The now famous ‘Promise City Shootout’ took place then. Billy and his buddies got themselves killed while the James boys managed to escape with all of the loot. After that Arcade’s Gang was famous and went around acting like they owned the town.

    A few months later they were bored and headed over to Tombstone to cause trouble there. A hornet’s nest of trouble had already been brewing there. Tension already existed between the cowboys at the Clanton ranch and the town’s Marshall Virgil Earp with his brothers, so Arcade’s Gang decided to make matters worse. First they tried to start up a gunfight with the Clantons and Earps at the O.K. Corral, but Cochise County Sheriff Johnny Behan intervened and calmed things down. The next day Arcade’s Gang shot down in cold blood Tombstone citizen Doc Holliday and his friend Johnny Behind-the-Duce. They then high-tailed it back to Promise City before the Earps could catch them.”

    “So they’re there now?” Duncan asks. Chumbley says, “Oh no, they were afraid of retribution from Earps so they packed up and skipped town. They were last spotted six weeks ago in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I doubt we’ll ever see them back this way again, especially since Wyatt Earp has become the new Marshall of Promise City with his brother Morgan as his Deputy. Anyhow, that Gang is how we found out that the Promise City Herald was corrupt. The paper seems to have had an alliance with them and would only print stories that favored the group. No reputable newspaper would ever do anything like that!” Several people snicker at hearing that comment.

    Chumbley continues, “So my employer saw this as a great new business opportunity! He sent me there for the past couple of weeks to find stories to report on. I now have me 200 copies of the paper to sell. This will be great for the citizens of Promise City, to be able to finally get accurate and unbiased reporting of the daily events that concern them. And all for just five-cents, a real bargain for a full eight pages of news. You’ll have to all buy a copy, lots of great stories to read.”

    The man in black shifts the toothpick in his mouth and says, “Did you hear the story about the halfling who got killed for talking too much?” Chumbley answers “I don’t believe I have.” The man responds, “Yep, happened during a stagecoach ride.” Duncan comments, “Oh? Had a wee falling out?” The man in black replies to the Scotsman “I like the way you think.”

    Chumbley still doesn’t catch on and replies, “No, I can’t say I’ve heard about that. I probably should have since there are very few halflings in the Territory. If there had been an accident on a stagecoach I think that…” He then stops in mid-sentence, the implied threat finally sinking in, as a shocked expression crosses his face. The interior of the stage becomes deathly quiet.

    The man in black then stares again at the halfling and repeats his previous request of “Let me see one of those papers.” The now nervous halfling quickly unlatches his case and thrusts a copy over to him. The man in black takes the paper from the halfling’s shaking hand. He then doesn’t even bother look at the text on the page, instead rubbing the corner of the sheets between his index finger and thumb. He comments, “Nice paper. Soft to the touch. You should sell a lot of these.” He folds up the paper and puts it down on the seat beside him.

    The remaining two hours of the stagecoach ride continue without anybody speaking at all. The only sounds come from the stage, the horses and the centaur running alongside it. The trail circumnavigates around a mountain range and passes by a large cattle ranch with sign “Lazy S Ranch” at the outer gate. They soon reach a fork in the road with a sign with an arrow pointing northwest that reads “Dos Cabezas 6 Miles” and another arrow pointing southeast that reads “Promise City 14 Miles” and below that “Galeyville 26 Miles”. The stage turns southeast and towards another range of mountains. They cross a wooden bridge over a creek and then turn south, with the town now visible in the distance.
    Last edited by Silver Moon; Wednesday, 1st September, 2004 at 11:25 PM.

  • #4
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    Chapter Three, “Getting Acquainted”, January 1, 1882, 5:30 P.M.

    The stagecoach enters the town of Promise City, a two comprised of three long east-to-west streets and five shorter north-to-south streets with hills along the eastern and southern sides. The town is comprised of nearly 200 buildings, most of them wooden but quite a few made of brick. The stage enters the town from the northeastern corner and passes behind a several buildings before turning west onto Main Street. It passes a number of streets and stops before a series of buildings with the signs “Frye’s Harness Shop & Bootmaker”, “ Wells Fargo Office” and further back “Wells Fargo Barn. A horse corral is situated on the corner west of the office and south of the barn. The stage comes to a stop.

    The doors to the stage are opened and the passengers begin to file out. A man comes out of the office to assist the driver with unloading the luggage from the top. The Indian heads immediately over to the centaur and engages her in conversation in a native language. The halfling grabs his case and scampers off eastward down the street, yelling back “I’ll be over at the Alhambra Saloon if any of you want to join me.” Nobody makes any effort to follow him.

    The man in black looks down at the folded up newspaper in his hand and says “I saved a nickel today, what do you say I buy you all a drink.” The others decide that is a good idea. The woman in the black dress appears hesitant, but the Wells Fargo men have ungraciously left her large trunk in the middle of the street and she is obvious that she needs help moving it. The human with the Scottish accent and the elvan Indian grab one end of it while the half-orc takes the other end. The driver has begun to lead the horses away and the female gunslinger asks him “Where’s a good place to get a drink around here?” He replies, “We drink at the Drover’s Hotel, around the corner behind the bootmaker’s.” “Works for me,” she replies.

    The five human, the half-orc, elf and the centaur enter the thirty-by-forty foot single-story building. The inside consists of one large thirty-by-thirty foot room with two a smaller room off from the back, one of which appears to be the kitchen. They are after lunchtime and before dinnertime so are the only patrons of the place and the woman in charge raises no objection to the mixed-race group. They take seats at one of the larger tables, a chair being moved away for the centaur to kneel. The woman approaches and takes their drink order.

    Katherine Kale, the woman in the black dress, continues to act somewhat nervous around the others she comments “This looks like a busy town. I should be able to find work here.” The man in black replies in a flat deadpan voice “I’ve worked before.” “Why is your trunk so heavy?” the Scottish human asks her. She replies, “It contains everything I own. We sold everything else and traveled out here. My husband passed away recently.” “What killed him?” the man in black asks. She replies, “He was ill.”

    The attractive woman in the red dress speaks up next, reintroducing herself as Ruby West. She says, “I’m hoping to get a job here too. I have many skills. “I’ll bet,” the man in black comments. She replies, “I sing and dance. There seem to be a lot of saloons in town that might be looking for entertainers.”

    The female gunslinger downs a glass of whiskey and introduces herself as Alison Caine, but says for everyone to just call her Al. The man in black comments “Good to see a woman who drinks.” She replies, “And who do I have the pleasure of addressing?” He replies, “Name’s O’Dell. They call me Black Isaac O’Dell”.

    The human with the thick accent speaks next, commenting “Please to meet you Mr. O’Dell. Good to see another of Celtic origin. I be from Scotland me-self.” The half-orc Chinaman asks “Where Scot Land?” “Across the ocean,” the man replies, adding, “My name be Duncan MacRaibert and I be a Celtic priest.” O’Dell replies, “I’m no Celt, I’m from Nebraska. I was wondering though, have any of you had any dealings with the bad side of the law?” The others look from side to side but none are quite sure how to answer that.

    O’Dell says, “I ask because I have this friend who was unjustly accused and is stuck in the pokey. I came here to see what I might be able to do about that.” “What did he do?” Katherine inquires. O’Dell answers “What any other man would have done. Got caught up in a showdown. The other guy started it, my friend was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The local Sheriff didn’t see it that way.” Ruby says, “Well, based on what that odd little man said on the stagecoach I don’t know how good the law in this town is if they’ve been harboring that Arcade’s Gang.”

    Katherine comments “Well, either way I’d say you folks could be able to take care of yourself. You all seem to be carrying quite an assortment of weapons. O’Dell replies, “It’s a great country.”

    A pause follows and then the elf Indian speaks up saying, “I could help you. I have my own score to settle. I followed the trail of a man for a long time and it brought me to here. Heard that he was working at one of the mines.” “What did he do?” O’Dell asks. The Indian replies, “He killed my family. He was a soldier who led a raid on my village. He killed everyone there, mostly women and children. I was away at the time and found them.” “Was he acting on orders?” O’Dell asks. The Indian replies, “No, they discharged him from the Army but with no further punishment. I aim to enact the punishment he deserves.” “What’s your name?” O’Dell asks. The elf replies “Nanuet”. O’Dell says, “Well Nanuet, it sounds like a fair gripe to me. I’ll help you out if you’ll help me.” The Indian agrees.

    O’Dell then asks “Anyone else in on this?” Duncan comments “You might need a priest.” Ruby says, “His cause seems just.” Katherine says “I don’t know how much use I’d be to you.” O’Dell says, “You’ve got brains. We could use that.” The centaur speaks next stating, “Revenge will get you killed.” O’Dell comments “You know something about this?” She replies, “Your statements are filled with anger. You haven’t asked the spirits for their guidance in this.” Duncan comments, “She speaks wisely.”

    “Who are you and why are you here?” O’Dell asks. She replies, “I am Storm Golden Eye. I am here for the people. A war is brewing between the people and the white men who invade the land.” She then turns to Nanuet and says, “We must all move forward. Your quest for vengeance ties you to the past.” He replies, “The past must be put to rest. Assist me with this and then I can move on.”

    The woman brings them another round of drinks and asks if there is anything else they would want. Katherine says, “Yes, some information. What can you tell us about the law in this town?” She replies, “Well, the County Sheriff has a Deputy Sheriff’s office in the town. He mostly handles things that come up in this half of the county but pretty-much stays out of local matters. The Promise City Marshall handles things in and around town. Marshall Hollister got killed a few weeks back. The town elders have hired a new one. His name’s Wyatt Earp and he appointed his brother Morgan as Deputy Sheriff. Their brother Virgil is the Marshall over in Tombstone.

    She then adds “He’s been on the job two weeks and has already killed two men since then.” “What for?” O’Dell asks. “Being drunk and disorderly in the saloons,” is her reply. “No nonsense type,” O’Dell replies, finishing with “Must be a Frenchman with a name like Earp.” As the French are generally disliked in America Duncan comments, “You might not want to say that to him.”

    “And you name would be?” Katherine asks. The woman replies “Vera Blake, I run this place with my husband Austin.” “Would you know of a good place to stay?” Ruby asks. She replies, “I’m sorry, we don’t have any rooms here yet. We’re planning to build another story or two onto this place in the spring.” “Afraid we can’t wait around that long,” O’Dell states. Vera glances at the elf, centaur and half-orc and comments “Most of the hotels in town only allow humans. I’d suggest you try the El Parador Cantina and Hotel on the southeastern corner of town, it allows all races.”

    “Sounds good,” O’Dell states. He pays for the drinks and heads out of the Hotel. Before the three men can pick of Katherine’s trunk the centaur Storm reaches down, lifts it up and balances it along her back, and heads out the door. The others follow.

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    Chapter Four, “Prelude to Death”, January 1, 1882, 6:30 P.M.

    The odd assortment makes their way across town to the El Parador Cantina and Hotel. It is a large three-story stone, timber and adobe building measuring thirty-by-forty feet with an adjacent twenty-foot square barn. The brightly decorated cantina comprises about half of the ground floor. The Cantina’s wood elf owners, Pedro and Dorita Figueres greet the group.

    Storm Golden Eye asks about accommodations suited for her and is informed by Dorita that “We have a stall out in the barn that has been used before by a centaur for lodgings.” She replies, “I am familiar with the one who you speak of. One reason that I am here is to find out where he went.” Dorita indicates that the price for each room is $ 1.00 a night, which includes breakfast. O’Dell gestures to Katherine and says, “She’s paying.” This comes as a surprise to her, but she acquiesces and pays for six rooms for the night.

    Duncan comments, “So, we heard that the group known as Arcade’s Gang was staying here.” Dorita replies, “Not anymore. They moved on the middle of November. In fact, it’s the rooms they stayed in that I’m renting to your group.” “That could be fun then if they come back,” O’Dell exclaims. Ruby suggests “Why don’t we all head up to our rooms to freshen up and relax from that stage ride. We could meet back down here in an hour or so for supper.” The others decide that sounds good. They each take a key and head up to their respective rooms with whatever belongings they brought. Pedro offers to help Katherine bring her trunk upstairs. (Chronologically, the first chapter of this Story Hour takes place here).

    Shortly after eight PM the group reassembles back in the Cantina. Dorita takes their food and beverage orders and brings it to their table. An attractive young female wood elf sings and dances for the patrons of the establishment. Ruby compliments Dorita on the fine talents of the woman and Dorita proudly says, “She is my daughter Sonoma.”

    The meal is interrupted by the arrival of the halfling Chumbly who is hawking his newspaper from saloon to saloon. He goes through his sales pitch about how his paper is far superior to local one, how it is eight pages long and twice the value for the same nickel. A man at an adjacent table begins to dig into his pocket for a coin and O’Dell tells him “A nickel is the same cost as a bullet if you’d rather get one that way.” The man purchases the paper and the group sees that the front-page story reads, “Promise City Herald is Corrupt!” The halfling sells a few more papers and then leaves.

    Duncan asks Nanuet “What makes you think the guy you’re looking for is here?” The elf replies, “Been following his trail for a while now. Found out in Tombstone that he headed out this way to work in a mine. His name is Jim Johnson.” Ruby suggests “This is a small enough town that most people should know each other. The saloonkeeper seems friendly enough. Let’s ask him.” Pedro is called over and asked if he knows anyone by that name. Pedro says that the folks in town with that last name are Bif and Asa Johnson who run Johnson’s Barber Shop and Baths. Nanuet describes the man he is after, a six-foot-five 200- pound bear of a man, to which Pedro replies, “Nope, that’s not Bif.”

    “The guy we’re looking for is working at a mine. What can you tell us about the mines?” Duncan asks. Pedro replies, “There are four different mines in the town. The first and primary one is the Breakheart mine. It and the Breakheart Stamping Mill and Smelter are part of the Silverbell Mining Company which is owned by a guy named Elton Hubbard. He employs a crew of around a dozen at the mine. He also owns about a third of the buildings in town . Next largest is the Liberty Hill Mine which has around a half-dozen workers. The Lucky Deuce Mine and Gila Belle Mine each only have a few workers. The owner of the Gila Belle hates Hubbard and won’t use his smelter. He ships his ore overland to Tombstone to be processed.”

    O'Dell asks about the law in town. Dorita tells them about the deadly new Marshall, Wyatt Earp, who has been the law in town for only two weeks and has already killed two men in that time. She also tells them about the County Deputy Sheriff who handles county trouble but usually keeps out of town affairs.

    Chow Wei Hung asks Dorita if there are any other Chinese in the town. She replies “Why yes, and they’re neighbors. The Wong family live less than a block away. Charlie Wong operates the town’s laundry. And an old man named Wang Li has a shop right along the street. Chow thanks her and heads off to go meet these folks. He knocks at the Wong family door and an old half-orc answers. Chow introduces himself and explains that the is a monk. Charlie Wong is very impress and invites him in. Charlie then introduces Chow to his daughter Mary and is less than subtle about him being a potential son-in-law. He politely excuses himself and departs. Charlie yells out an invitation to dinner the next night. After the door is shut Chow hears Charlie telling his daughter “He’s a holy man. That’s much better than that loser you were interested in last time”.

    Chow then heads over to the cottage of Wang Li. The elderly half-orc lets him in and shows him around. It turns out that the building is an opium den and Chow is offered a pipe for fifty cents. Wang Li explains how the orcs and half-orcs working on the railroad often would come for visits to the cottage. Chow politely declines, but does ask the man about Jim Johnson, giving a description of the man and the information about him working at a mine. Wang Li says he does not know but is willing to make some inquiries, as he has lots of information sources around town. Chow thanks him and hands the man three dollars for his efforts. Wang Li is very grateful.

    O’Dell, Ruby and Al check out the Lone Star Dance Hall and Saloon, where Al found out that her cousin gambles at. Job Kane is there at a gambling table and is surprised to see his cousin. O’Dell plays poker with him and decides to quit when he is $ 17.50 ahead. Ruby asks the saloon owner, Tom Whipple, about a possible job. Tom says that his wife Maggie is in charge of all hiring and goes into the kitchen to get her. They have Ruby get up onto the stage and sing a song, which they are very impressed with. Maggie tells her to come back the next night for a real audition.

    Back at the Cantina things are fairly quiet, even after the others return. Dorita tells the party that is due to it being a Sunday, which is generally recognized by the major religions in the United States as a holy day. With the town’s only church situated next door they keep things quiet on Sunday nights out of respect to their friend the priest. She adds “It’s the only night of the week things are quiet here, so enjoy it while you can.” They all decide to call it a night, except for O’Dell and Al who pull up a barstools to the bar and spend the next hour finishing off a bottle of whiskey.

    January 2nd, 1882, 7:00 A.M.

    The group gathers for breakfast in the cantina. The meal is interrupted by the arrival of Wang Li, who has found the information that Chow was seeking. The old Chinese man tells them “The man you are looking for is currently using the name Noah Walsh. He works at the Breakheart Mine and lives at a boarding house a block down the street called the Comstock House. Wang then says “He is there now, but will be heading off to work within the next hour.”

    Nanuet decides to act immediately upon this information and go confront the man. O’Dell agrees but suggests, “We should get some horses first in case we need to make a quick getaway”. Storm Golden Eye again cautions Nanuet about his quest for vengeance, saying “The path you are traveling on will lead to death.” Nanuet tells her that she is wise. He tells her that he must do this, but that after this is over he will take guidance from her.

    They leave the cantina and head up Fremont Street to the Bar “H” Stables. The proprietor, an old cowpuncher named Dick Lockmyer, has four reasonably good mounts for sale. He offers to sell one to O’Dell complete with saddle for $ 50.00. Katherine interjects “How much for all four?” Lockmyer agrees to knock off ten-percent, selling all four for $ 180.00. Storm doesn’t need a mount and Duncan, Nanuet and Chow don’t have any money, so Al, Katherine, O’Dell and Ruby buy the animals. Ruby makes the comment “Wouldn’t it be safer to buy them after we go deal with this man?”

    The group discusses how to handle this. All four of the men seem to favor the direct approach while the four women are more cautious. They all head down the street in the direction of the Comstock House.

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    Chapter Five, “The Comstock House Ambush”, January 2nd , 1882, 7:30 A.M.

    The group only has to walk one hundred feet down the street to reach their destination. The Comstock House is a twenty by twenty-five foot three-story brick building. From the street they are facing the front, which has a door and open window with calico curtains. Nanuet heads up to the window, and moves the curtain a few inches to peer inside. The ground floor consists of a dining room with a small kitchen in the side corner and a wooden staircase going up to the second floor. There is also a back door. There are four people in the room, a woman in the kitchen and three men seated at a table eating breakfast. He immediately recognizes one of these men as his nemesis Jim Johnson.

    Nanuet heads back to the street and tells the others “It’s him” and then describes the building. “So what’s your plan?” O’Dell asks. Nanuet replies “I need to go confront him about what he has done.” O’Dell replies “Sounds dangerous. Why not find some high ground and pick him off with a rifle shot on his way to work?” Nanuet replies, “I will not shoot a man in the back.” O’Dell says “You don’t have to do the shooting, and we could make it a head shot.” Nanuet responds, “No, that would not be honorable.” O’Dell says “I don’t see the problem. You want him dead. He will be.” Nanuet replies, “No, he has to know why he is being punished.”

    Storm says to Nanuet “This is wrong. You must move on with your life.” Nanuet tells her, “If the man known as Noah Walsh dies today then my past will be behind me and I will be free to live my life in a manner that you approve of.” Duncan mutters “You’re going to be pretty annoyed if he gets away then and is still around after midnight.”

    Nanuet announces “I need to confront him.” Duncan says “An Indian charging into a boarding house and making accusations against a resident? That doesn’t sound like a very safe plan.” O’Dell says “I’ll go inside and call him out. Why don’t you women head around the building to keep him from escaping out the back.”

    The centaur and three mounted ladies ride around back. The eastern side of the building shares a wall with Gilsons’s Bath House, which in the back extends fifteen feet further south than the boarding house. The back door to the Comstock House is in the corner beside that wall so that anyone exiting from it could only go south or west. Katherine and Al stay on horseback and position themselves on both sides of Storm fifteen feet south of the back door. Both take out their guns as Storm readies an arrow in her longbow.

    Ruby decides to dismount and position herself alongside the building by the southwestern corner. That way she is still able to cover if they decide to run west. She keeps her derringer up the sleeve of her dress and her revolver in a dress pocket so as to appear unarmed and less of a threat.

    Out in front, Duncan moves over to the northwestern corner of the building. His gun is at the ready on his belt, although he plans to primarily play healer rather than gunslinger. Chow positions himself near the front door in anticipation of using his martial arts moves to disarm Johnson. Nanuet stands in the street facing the door, drawing his bow and knocking an arrow.

    O’Dell walks up to the door and enters the building. A woman is serving breakfast to a little man wearing eyeglasses seated along at small table. The three men that Nanuet saw are still eating at another table. O’Dell notes that each of them is wearing a sidearm. He walks up to the table, stands across from the man known as Noah Walsh, and says “Johnson!” Walsh’s body becomes visibly tense but he does not look up at O’Dell. One of his companions looks up and says, “Are you talking to us?”

    O’Dell says, “Johnson. You’re wanted outside.” Walsh now looks up and says, “Name’s Walsh. Do I know you?” O’Dell replies “I know who you are. There’s a man out front who wants to have a word with you. Something about you killing his kinfolk. We’ll be outside waiting.” O’Dell heads back out the door. He goes and stands alongside Nanuet, ready to draw his gun when necessary. They continue to wait.

    The four women continue to guard the back when the door opens up. A large man matching Nanuet’s description of Jim Johnson is the first one out the door followed by two other men. They are no more than five feet from the door when Al says “Stop where you are.” The men stop and look up towards the three women, the man on the right glances to his side towards Ruby and then back to the other three. Johnson then reaches for his gun.

    Storm lets an arrow fly, striking Johnson in his copious chest. The arrow does not stop the giant of a man who raises up his pistol and fires a shot into Storm’s torso. Katherine and Al each fire their guns at Johnson, both missing. His two companions both draw their own guns. Ruby lets her derringer slide down into her hand as she raises her arm and fires. Her shot is perfect, striking the head of the man on Johnson’s right, who falls to the ground.

    The sound of the four gunshots alerts those in front. Duncan was by the corner of the building so starts to run along the side wall towards the back. O’Dell vaults up onto his horse while Chow kicks in the front door, deciding that through the building is the quickest way to the back. Nanuet has the same thought and begins to run after Chow.

    Al fires off two more shots, both of them also missing their mark. Katherine’s next shot isn’t any better, but unlike Al she never claimed to be a gunslinger. Ruby puts her hand into her pocket, releasing the single-shot derringer and grabbing her revolver. Storm readies another arrow and Johnson fires at her again, this shot missing. His remaining companion takes a shot at Al and also misses.

    Chow barrels through the building, ignoring the little man with glasses who is now hiding behind a table and the woman in the kitchen area holding up a cast-iron frying pan. Nanuet has reached the front door and charges inside, bow and arrow in hand. Duncan is almost to the back of the building and O’Dell kicks his horse into high gear to get around as fast as he can.

    Ruby lifts up her arm to take another shot at Johnson. However, before she pulls the trigger her peripheral vision catches movement from the building as Chow dives out the window and tackles Johnson from behind. The burley man is actually able to stand back up again despite the half-orc on his back and Ruby takes the shot. Her aim is again perfect and he falls dead.

    Meanwhile, Al takes two more shots, one being a non-lethal hit to the man’s side. Storm had been ready to fire her next arrow when Chow came onto the scene. So as not to risk hitting a companion she shifts targets to the remaining man. He in turn catches her movement and changes his own target from Al to her. Both fire, Storms arrow grazing the side of his face. His shot however is well aimed and a red circle appears on her forehead. The centaur’s body collapses onto the ground. Duncan charges out in her direction to see if anything can be done for her.

    O’Dell finally arrives on the scene and begins to bring his horse to a stop. He sees only one standing enemy and lets off a shot at the very first opportunity. The poorly aimed shot only travels five feet, hitting Ruby’s horse in the head and killing it instantly. The horse falls to the right and directly on top of Duncan, possibly breaking his legs and knocking him unconscious.

    Katherine appears to have gone into shock over the fact of Storm’s demise. Al feels no such remorse and takes another shot at the remaining opponent, again missing. Ruby takes a shot at the man, hitting him at the top of his right arm near the shoulder. Nanuet has reached the back doorway and lets fire his arrow, skewering the man through the heart. Chow had been moving to grab the man and catches his corpse. Ruby turns around and exclaims “My horse!” O’Dell has dismounted and rushes by her towards the enemies.

    Nanuet exits the building and confirms for himself that Johnson is dead. He then looks up and notices Storm. The Indian’s face suddenly turns pale and his jaw drops. Chow stops O’Dell and gets him to assist in pulling Duncan out from beneath the horse. “He is still alive,” Chow states. O’Dell casually says “I hope nobody is hurt too bad, we’ve lost both healers.”

    Nanuet goes up to Storm and cradles her head in his hands. “What should we do now?” Ruby asks. O’Dell says “The Marshall’s Office is only a block away. He’ll be here soon.” Katherine states “From what we’ve heard of this Marshall we’d be better off turning ourselves in to the Sheriff.” Al rides up to O’Dell and says “We should get the hell out of here. Climb on.” He hoists himself up behind her and calls over to Ruby “Sorry about the horse, you can have mine.” The horse with the two gunslingers then takes off and disappears into the hills south of town, leaving Chow, Katherine, Ruby and an anguished Nanuet behind with their dead and unconscious companions.
    Last edited by Silver Moon; Sunday, 3rd October, 2004 at 04:16 AM.

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    Chapter Six, “The Alibi”, Monday January 2nd, 1882, 7:45 A.M.

    Ruby hops up onto O’Dell’s horse and rides over to Katherine. The two of them ride over behind the bathhouse in case there are any more enemies at the boarding house. It turns out that there are, as rifle barrels now stick out from two-second floor windows. Chow picks up Duncan’s body and runs towards he bathhouse. His monk’s speed is faster than the shooters anticipate, with the bullets striking the ground behind him. Nanuet grabs up his arrow that struck the man and follows, a few bullet shots narrowly missing.

    Since the El Parador stables are less than 100 feet away the women both ride towards them. As they pass across Fremont Street they see a man with a badge standing at the intersection of Fremont and South streets. They continue to ride casually across in the direction of the stable. Ruby lowers her right hand to where the horse shields it from the Marshall’s view and by gives a ‘stop’ hand signal to Chow and Nanuet, who are carrying the unconscious Duncan.

    Chow peers around the bend as watches as another man with a badge exits the Marshall’s office carrying two rifles, hands one to the man in the intersection, and the two continue to walk west down South Street in the direction of the boarding house. Nanuet and Chow wait until both men are out of sight before they carry Duncan across and join the ladies in the stable.

    They then discuss what to do next. “Terrible shame what happened to that poor centaur,” Ruby comments. Nanuet says, “There may be consequences. Geronimo had sent her to this town as an ambassador of the Apache. He job was to help keep the peace between the humans and the Indians.”

    They check on Duncan and confirm that he is still breathing. “I think he just had the wind knocked out of him,” Katherine states. Ruby comments “Yeah, the next time O’Dell decides to shoot a horse he should make sure that it falls the other way.” Katherine expresses that she was surprised O’Dell and Al Caine just went off and left them. “White man coward,” Nanuet comments.

    Katherine suggests, “Why don’t you men stay here. Ruby and I will go inside the Cantina and see what we can get something to help Duncan.” The two of them head around and go into the Cantina. They are only there a few moments when the Marshall Wyatt Earp enters the building. Both women sit down at a table. Earp directly walks over to them and says, “I saw you ladies riding near the shooting over at the Comstock House. Did you see what happened?”

    Katherine says “No, we had purchased some horses a short while ago and were just taking a short ride around this end of town to try them out. When we heard gunshots and hurried back here, as this is where we’re staying.” He seems to buy that and then heads up to the bar to talk to Pedro. Pedro feigns that he doesn’t understand the Common tongue. His daughter Sonoma offers to translate, speaking loud enough that Ruby and Katherine have no difficulty hearing.

    Earp asks about a half-orc, an Indian warrior and centaur and Pedro’s explanation is that they were together and had spent the night there but checked out earlier that morning. Earp then asks if there was a human with them and describes O’Dell. Pedro replies that he doesn’t remember anyone else with the other three. Earp makes no further comment and just turns around and leaves.

    Sonoma heads over to the table to take Katherine and Ruby’s orders. Ruby says, “Your father didn’t exactly tell the Marshall the whole truth there. Why?” She replies, “He does not like Earp and he looks out for his paying customers.” Katherine tells her about the other three out in the stable. Sonoma goes and gets her mother. They take Ruby and Kate through the kitchen to the back door into the stable and get the three inside the main building. Pedro joins them and says, “Earp is looking for a half-orc and an Indian. We’d better do something about their appearances.”

    Dorita goes and gets her grandfather, an elderly wood elf named Manuel Gonzalas. She says, “He has dabbled in some minor magics and can help change how you look.” The older elf casts a spell that changes Nanuet’s skin tone to that of a wood elf rather than a high elf. He then casts a second spell that shortens the hair atop his head. A final spell causes a beard and mustache to grow on him. They hand Nanuet a poncho and sombrero to wear over his other clothing, and he now resembles a Mexican half-elf.

    For Chow he casts just a single spell, changing the half-orc’s head from bald to shoulder-length-hair. They add a colorful poncho to that and he visually looks totally different. Pedro hands Nanuet an old rifle to add to the Mexican bandito look.

    Pedro says he will go to the church next door to get the priest to assist with Duncan and suggest that the others just go back to the main room. They sit at the table, relived to be temporarily off the hook. Nanuet says, “But they’ll still be going after O’Dell and Al. It’s not right that those two should have to be fugitives for helping me out.”

    Katherine then has a brilliant suggestion. She says, “Wait a minute. Arcade’s Gang! They had a centaur, an elf Indian and a half-orc as part of their team. The newspaper descriptions of the gunslinger Arcade are also close to that of O’Dell. And the Earps already hate that gang. We could go find that halfling newspaperman and tell him that we believe we saw Arcade’s Gang running from the Comstock House.”

    Ruby sees two problems with that plan. First, the centaur and Indian on Arcade’s gang were the opposite genders that the two at the Comstock House and second, that Chumbley rode on the stagecoach with all of them the previous day. Katherine says, “But Chumbley left right after the stage arrived and none of us had known each other before that. And the genders of these specific Indians is unimportant, the main point is that Arcade’s Gang has a history of working with Indians. We just need to get Chumbley to conclude that the half-orc Louie brought these two new Indians here on the stage to meet Arcade.

    They call Sonoma over to the table and run the idea by her. She is rather neutral to the idea, saying that Arcade’s Gang were friends of hers, but she also does not know if they will ever be coming back to Promise City. Ruby and Katherine decide to follow through on the plan and tell the other two to wait at the Cantina and stay out of trouble. The women head out towards the Alhambra Saloon, where Chumbley said he would be spending most of his time at.

    They head over to Main Street and enter the single-story brick twenty-five by fifteen-foot building. Chumbley is sitting at the table and talking non-stop to a human man that appears to be slightly hung-over. The women approach the halfling and ask if he heard about the shooting. He replies “A bunch of gunshots woke me up this morning but I haven’t found out yet what that is all about. What happened?” The women give their revisionist version of what they heard and saw, with Chumbley frantically writing down notes.

    Once he has been told the full story the women stand up to leave and the human looks up at them and mouths the words “Help Me” while nodding his head towards the halfling. Ruby and Katherine immediately deduce that the annoying little man has been bothering him. Ruby says, “With Arcade’s Gang around it might not be safe for us women to be out on the streets alone. Maybe your friend here could escort us back to our hotel.” The man immediately volunteers and the three leave the building.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails PromiseCity.gif  
    Last edited by Silver Moon; Saturday, 18th September, 2004 at 12:09 AM.

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    Chapter Seven, “A Few Days in Town”, Monday, January 2nd, 1882, 9:00 A.M.

    Once Katherine and Ruby have left the building the man accompanying them asks, “Does anyone know if it’s against the law in this town to shoot a halfling?” Ruby laughs and comments, “That Chumbley does tend to get on people’s nerves. What was he talking to you about?” The man replies “Darnned if I know. I got caught up in a long poker game that ran into the wee hours of the morning. I must have passed out in that chair last night and the Saloonkeeper just left me there to sleep it off. This morning I was barely awake when the halfling showed up and started babbling at me. I wasn't sure what to do until you came in, then I saw what looked to be a pair of pretty twins. I guess my hangover has me seeing double."

    Katherine asks the man “So, do you have a name?” “I go by Silver Jake Cook,” he replies as they approach the doors to the El Parador Cantina and Hotel. Ruby says, “This is where we are staying. We just going to sit down at a table in the cantina and wait for some friends. You’re welcome to stay and keep us company.” He accepts their invitation.

    They sit down at the table and Dorita comes over to take their orders. Katherine and Ruby both ask for a herbal tea. Cook says “Kentucky Bourbon if you have it, otherwise I’ll have your best whiskey.” Dorita shakes her head. She returns with teas for the ladies and brings him a glass with some concoction made mostly of raw eggs. She lectures him that it is too early in the morning for hard liqour and that he should drink her hangover remedy. He suffers through it and then asks for “Coffee, lots of coffee.”

    He asks about the accommodations at the El Parador and Katherine replies “Sparse but clean.” “Good enough for me,” he states and when Dorita comes back with the coffee gives her the money for a room for the night. He then turns to Ruby and asks, “So, what do you do here in Promise City.” She replies, “Oh, we’re both new here, we just arrived on the stage yesterday. I’m hoping to sing and dance at one of the saloons in town. I have an audition scheduled for tonight at the Lone Star Dance Hall and Saloon.” He then turns to Katherine with the same question and she tells him her tale. She then says “And what about you Mr. Silver Jake Cook? What brings you to Promise City?” He seems surprised by the question and Ruby laughs commenting, “Given how we found you I can only imagine.”

    Silver Jake Cook sits half slouched in his chair savoring his first mug of coffee. He was woken far too early in the morning after a very long night and he is tired. He has his black hat pushed back on his thick brown hair and he occasionally strokes his mostly trimmed moustache and chin beard, that in some locals call a goatee. Although his posture belies it, his eyes move around the room looking for motion and pausing briefly to take in facial expressions, and eyes. If someone were ever to ask him about that he would simply reply, “Always watch the eyes.” In response to the ladies question he simply replies “This and that. Gambling and drinking lately.”

    Not longer afterwards they are joined by Chow and Nanuet. Silver Jake Cook seems a bit surprised that the two young human companions would have these men as their friends but takes it in stride. "Who's he?" Nanuet asks. Ruby replies "We rescured him from Chumbley". That explanation seems to be sufficient for the both men. They then start talking about plans for the day, with Nanuet commenting about needing to learn how to use a rifle and speak Spanish, which strikes Jake as odd coming from a Mexican bandito. Chow replies that he will wander around town and see if he can offer help to anyone. “How much you charge for that?” Jake asks. “Nothing,” the half-orc replies and points to Katherine, stating “She pay for everything.” Jake just shakes his head and asks rhetorically “Who the hell are you people?”

    Jake decides to head up to his room to rest. When he comes down for supper he sees Katherine and Ruby dining at a table together and they invite him to join them. After the meal Ruby and Katherine say that they are heading over to the Lone Star Dance Hall and Saloon of Ruby’s try-out as singer and Jake decides to come along.

    The Lone Star is a two-story thirty-foot square brick building at the northeast corner of Main and Allen Streets. The main door is in the center of the south wall on Main Street. The first floor is comprised of the front room that takes up all but an L-shaped area in the northwest corner that has houses the kitchen and pantry. In the main room on the inside of the "L" of the L-cutout is the bar with eight barstools. There is a side door near the bar out to Allen Street and the outhouse behind the building. The kitchen also has a door out to the side alley. An elevated wooden stage area is located in the northeast corner of the building and the upright piano is along the eastern wall. A staircase to the second floor is in the southeast corner of the building, starting on the east wall near the piano to a landing in the corner then continuing up the south wall to the upper floor.

    On the main floor near the west wall are three large round tables that can seat up to eight patrons, two of which are used by the poker dealers. Gambler Tony Lucky takes the table on the northwest nearest to the bar. Gambler Job Kane takes the table in center and slightly out from the west wall The other table of this size is in the southwest corner. The remainder of the room consists of square tables that can each seat up to four people but could be moved together for larger groups. Saloon owner Tom Whipple is behind the bar alongside the bounder Jeff Mills.

    There are currently ten customers are present, two at the bar and the other eight playing cards at the two poker tables. Ruby heads over to the stage and Maggie Whipple sits down at the keyboards. Ruby runs through a number of songs that test out her singing range. After nearly a hour of play Ruby stops. The gamblers at Tony Lucky’s table continue to play cards but Job Kane stops his players and says, “She’s a friend of my cousin. Let’s show her our appreciation.” The people at that table give her a round of applause, joined in by the men at the bar and the Whipples. Maggie and Tom tell her that she is hired, that they will pay her $ 1.00 an hour starting at 8:00 P.M. the next night.

    Silver Jake Cook had been sitting with Katherine at one of the tables and Ruby joins them. Jake buys her a drink to celebrate her new job. During the prior hour he had divided his attention between her and the two card games going on, deciding that Job Kane’s would be the better game to join. He asks if he can join the game and is invited to take a seat.

    In addition to Kane, the other four players at the table consist of a tall clean-shaven man with the big ears dressed in plain clothing who answers to Al; a muscular man in rumpled jeans and a plaid flannel shirt with blond hair and a bushy mustache who Kane refers to as Neil; A man in denim jeans with a light blue work shirt and leather vest who most call Travis; and a man with blue jeans covered with dust and stained work shirt who everyone calls Jeremiah except for Travis who refers to him as Jerry.

    Jake Cook knows that after buying the horse and saddle he now only has a little more than $ 40.00 to his name but does not hold back and manages to win $ 23.39 from the first game. He wins again in the second game, this time a mere $ 5.13. He then starts to lose, with the man named Travis taking him for $ 16.62 in the first game followed by losing $ 42.21 in the next game to Kane. Jake recovers, winning $ 27.41 in the next hand and calculating that he is now down less than $ 3.00 from where he started. He then loses $ 10.91 to Kane in the next hand and decides to quit while he is behind. He thanks the dealer and the other players. He then heads back to the El Parador with Katherine and Ruby.

    Tuesday, January 3rd, 1882:

    The quartet comprised of Jake, Katherine, Ruby and Nanuet begin to fall into a daily routine. Duncan leaves town this day, heading back to Tucson to stay with a friend until he is fully recovered from his injuries. They see Chow a few more times this day, during which he complains that Charlie Wong keeps pestering him to get involved with his daughter Mary Wong. The trio return to the Lone Star Dance Hall and Saloon that night, during which Ruby sings for the better part of three hours and makes almost as much in tips as she does from her salary. Jake spends time at Job Kane’s poker table, winning several hands against a fat man with the scruffy beard named Henry but eventually losing it all and more to both Al and Kane. He ends the night down almost $ 7 from where he started.

    Wednesday, January 4th, 1882:

    Chow is seen at breakfast time but then disappears for good and Dorita indicates that he checked out of the hotel. Nanuet spends much of the day out in the desert with Pedro learning how to shoot the rifle and also getting a crash course in the Spanish language. Ruby has another good night at the Lone Star and there is a bigger crowd than the previous two nights, with about half of tables being full. Kane has a full table of seven players, including Jake, Al, Henry from the night before and Neil from the night before that. Jake continues to have mixed luck, winning several hands but like the night before ending the night down almost $ 7.

    He rejoins Ruby and Katherine and comments how he now has less than $ 13 to his name. He mentions how this would be even less if Katherine hadn’t been picking up the tab for the hotel and meals for the group and thanks her for her generosity. Having lost now three nights in a row he concludes that Tom Whipple wouldn’t even consider hiring him as a gambler. He concludes that he had better start looking for a job.

    Katherine says that she can’t keep paying for everything and should probably get a job herself. She has noticed that Maggie Whipple had trouble this evening taking care of the greater number of customers, especially when she was also trying to play piano for Ruby. Katherine asks her about the possibility of a job as either waitress or piano player. Maggie says, “Sounds good, I can use the help, but let’s hear how you play first.” Ruby has one more set this evening, during which Katherine accompanies her on the piano.

    Maggie offers her the job for $ 3.00 a night plus tips beginning the next night. Maggie orders a round of drinks to celebrate her good fortune. Ruby looks at Jake and says, “Are you ready to now tell us who you are?”
    Last edited by Silver Moon; Friday, 24th September, 2004 at 10:31 PM.

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    Chapter Eight, “The Saga of Silver Jake Cook” Wednesday, January 4th, 1882, 10:00 P.M. :

    Acknowledging Ruby’s comment Jake Silver Cook says in a monotone voice, “So you’re thinking, Silver Jake Cook you’re a scoundrel. Well, I admit that given my current life style not many a cultured lady would be in any rush to take me home to meet the parents. But I’m not a bad sort. I never lie to, cheat, steal from, or shoot anyone that doesn’t deserve it.” In a more lively voice, “Silver Jake stands by his friends and pays his debts.”

    “Where are you from?” Katherine asks. He replies “Where am I from? All right I’ll tell my story if you tell yours.” He begins, “I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as Jacob Alistair Cooke with an e, the third son and fourth child to a moderately successful family. The family business was bookkeeping, scribing, and notary public; we served the population of lawyers and politicians that grows in that city like weeds. At an early age I learned to read and write and was put to work copying the less important documents and as a delivery boy. Copying documents I didn’t mind, and eventually got pretty good at not only avoiding mistakes, but making nearly identical copies. I don’t think my father ever noticed that, but mother did and would give me that look of ‘don’t you dare’ and send me on my way.” A faraway look and smile cross Jake’s face.

    “The delivery work I didn’t care for. You see our offices were fairly far away from the lawyers’ quarters and you either walked the long way around the city where the proper folk went, or you could take the shortcut through the dark alleys and dirty byways of the less desirables.” Jake pauses and looks at each of you in turn before continuing. “I think it was a famous philosopher that said life is a journey of discovery; you travel not only from place to place but from truth to truth in yourself.” Jake smirks and adds, “Or perhaps I said it after a long night of drinking, I’m not sure. Either way at an early age I learned a truth about myself. I don’t like hard work.”

    “So I started taking the first of many short cuts in my life.” Jake smiles broadly. “It was terribly frightening and exiting traveling the labyrinth where proper folk feared to tread. It was also an early lesson in odds, though I didn’t know it at the time. I had made a number of safe trips through, becoming bolder each time. Then I ran into him. He was a large uncouth kid with a nasty disposition and a long thin knife. I suppose he was just exercising control of his ‘territory’, but he surprised me and cut me bad with that pig sticker of his. I managed to get away, I was always pretty quick, and I made up a story for my parents. I avoided the alleys for a time. But I struggled with a new emotion, I was angry. I hadn’t come in with a quarrel for that bully, and I didn’t want anything that he valued. I just wanted to pass through. And he was making me work harder than I liked. I remembered that my family had an old trunk of one of my uncles that had passed away. He was a trapper and a hunter, and left us a big old hunting knife in the bottom of his trunk. Well I oiled and sharpened that knife for days until it was sharp enough to shave with, and then I sharpened it some more. All the while I also practiced drawing it from the sheath for hours at a time.

    I went back to the alleys, but I no longer skulked. It didn’t take long for bullyboy to find me, but before he could even get his hand on the pig sticker of his I had pulled my knife and cut him across the chest. Now we are even I told him with my big old hunting knife pointed at his right eye. This is your alley; I just want to walk through it. Fair enough? He nodded his head up and down. I smiled and managed to go a couple hundred feet and disappear before I threw up. He and I never had a problem again.” Patting his right boot lovingly Jake says quietly, “I still carry that knife.”

    “Well that created another problem,” Jake continued. “It was taking me much less time to travel to the lawyers’ quarter than it should have, and I didn’t want my father to know I was taking the short cut, so I had to do something with the extra time. And the people in those back alleys had become accustomed to me and didn’t seem nearly so threatening, so I started spending some of my free time there. I got quite an education in a very short time,” he finished nodding his head slightly and grinning a half smile.

    “Is that where you picked up your bad habits?” Ruby asks with a laugh. In response to the question Jake cocked his head to one side and looked up at the smoky roof of the saloon at nothing in particular. “No, I wouldn’t say I learned all what you call bad habits there. There was a bit of drinking, gambling, and stealing from each other but it was all petty stuff.” He looks her straight in the eye and says, “It’s different for everyone I think. It may be a quiet night with the stars burning like diamonds in the dark sky; or the smell of fresh baked bread; or perhaps the melodious notes of the nightingale that go to the soul of a body. For me it’s the rip ‘n snap of bridging a fresh deck of cards; the smooth taste of fine crafted whisky; and the sweet curves of a pretty woman.” His eyes become unfocused for a moment, and then look back with just the hint of a grin. “Begging your pardon of course.”

    “So you ran away from home?” Katherine asks. Jake replies, “No, I didn’t run away from home. It was with a touch of sadness and a great sigh of relief on their part that my family threw me out. I owed them that much. If I had run away from home it would have caused them all kinds of guilt and shame. No, this was simpler. I made them so angry they threw me out. You see, it will be easier for them to come to grips with the other emotions because the anger will justify it. I still write them, let them know I am fine. I don’t leave a return address and wouldn’t be around for more than one letter at any town anyway. No regrets. And I didn’t mess up the sign on the business, Cooke and Sons, because there were still two loyal sons at home committed to the business. I would have suffocated in that life style, it would never have worked. Sometimes I wonder how my sister is doing…” He says and doesn’t quite finish the thought.

    “So that is when you learned to play poker?” Ruby asks. “Poker?” His eyes grow bright at the question. “No, long before then. I picked the game up when I was doing delivery work. One of the lawyers often had his successful lawyer and politician cronies sitting around the table drinking their fine whiskey, smoking their expensive cigars, dressed in their tailored silk shirts and pushing their piles of silver and gold coins across the felt table. It was mesmerizing. Sometimes they wouldn’t really notice me and I would watch for a while before the servants chased me out. There was something magic about it. There IS something magic about it.”

    Katherine then asks “So do you now consider yourself a gambler or a gunslinger?” as she eyes the Colt revolver holstered to his belt. “No,” Jake shakes his head with a serious expression on his face, “the gun is not like the other vices. The gun is a necessary tool. I’m not particular to shedding of blood. But since I value my blood over those that would mess up my shirt or my friends, I use it as necessary. I’d rather talk my way out if at all possible.”

    Ruby glances at the firearm and comments, “The holster looks well used.” He listens in earnest as you ask your question. “The holster has wear marks because I practice. Don’t get me wrong, I have used it and for sure use it again. But I don’t have to like it.” He touches the holster with a single deliberate finger not alarm anyone in the room who may be watching. “The Colt Peacemaker, forty-five caliber five shot US Army issue single action revolver with some fine adjustments by a master gunsmith in Missouri. My life depends on being able to be the first one to draw and not miss. I take my practicing very seriously.”

    Jake pauses to drain his glass and get a refill. He then continues “I met an Irishman and a gambler in Missouri by the name of Patrick O’Brien, though most folks there knew him as ‘Red’. I had moved up to the big time tables” at that Jake rolls his eyes, “and was feeling pretty intimidated and losing pretty steadily. Red took me under his wing and taught me some poker, how to use a Colt, and when to run away. We traveled the state for a while together. Sitting at a table without a piece when everyone else can standup and shoot your belly full of lead can be a bit distracting. Red helped me overcome that.”

    Here Jake pauses and looks down. “Red got into a bit of trouble near Kansas City, got himself shot. I covered his getaway, but I don’t know if Red made it or not. I couldn’t stick around or go after him, I shot the fellow who shot Red and I don’t know if he survived. I don’t think rotten ambusher’d be missed any, but I couldn’t know for sure.” He looks up again and rubs his neck unconsciously. “If I recall they are fond of hanging in that part of Missouri.”

    Katherine had gotten pensive when Jake was talking about his mentor and the anguish of not knowing his fate. The table becomes silent. Ruby decides to move the conversation along and asks, “How do you get along?” “What do you mean how do I get along?” He says with an easy laugh and stands up, stretching his lanky two inches shy of six-foot frame. “Let’s get some air.” Jake tosses back the rest of his whiskey with ease. Taking the ladies one each by the arm he escorts them out into the cool evening. “Sometimes I make enough playing poker to get by; often I take short term employment. You might be surprised at the different ways I have learned to make a living. . And Miss Ruby, how do you get along?” Ruby replies, “A gentleman does not ask such things.” Laughing, he responds to your admonishment, “Yes, you’re right a gentleman would not have asked.”

    They walk quietly for a minute or so before he is asked another question, Katherine stating “And your nickname Silver?” He replies “I earned quite a few nicknames during my wanderings since leaving Philadelphia, most of them I am glad they didn’t stick. I tried ‘lucky’ Jake for a while, but that seemed to mess up my poker game. I had trick that I used for a while where I challenged some punk with some coin in his pocket to a quick draw contest with a silver dollar as a target. I earned quite a few drinks that way. I think Silver Dollar Jake just shrank to Silver Jake. Maybe it’s my silver talkin’ tongue?” He looks up expectantly. “OK, maybe not.”

    Katherine then asks, ““What are you looking for?” He scratches his bearded chin a moment before answering. “Finding an honest poker game in the evening and a clean pressed shirt in the morning. Maybe finding a pretty woman who knows to keep the chattering down before noon. Even better if she knows to bring me a double shot of smooth Kentucky bourbon and a char-broiled rib-eye second thing in the morning after a long poker night.” He is quiet for moment or two. “Mostly I’m here in Promise because I’m not somewhere else.” Then he says with a grimace, “I got to tell you though, that raw egg in the morning nonsense isn’t going to last, raw anything after a night of drinking just makes me ill.”

    “Well all, it’s late. Sorry I rambled on there. Thanks for the company,” Says Jake as he starts to walk them back to the El Parador. “Not sure why you would want to keep me around. Thanks again for saving me from Crummy the wordsmith and for putting me up for a couple of days. I have to tell you though, when I’m sitting at the table and I get dealt two pair of ladies I don’t throw them away. Now maybe there was and maybe there wasn’t two pair, but I usually go with my first gut feel. I hope I’m not being a pest following you around. You two in particular are clever and I’m not quite sure what else is going on with you and your companions here; but I have a feeling things won’t be boring. Like I said before Silver Jake stands by his friends and pays his debts. Besides I like that saloon and I could do a far sight worse than keeping an eye on two attractive young ladies. Good night.”

    Special thanks to Baradthegnome for his assistance with writing this chapter.
    Last edited by Silver Moon; Friday, 24th September, 2004 at 10:34 PM.

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    Chapter Nine, "Three Saloons", Thursday, January 5th, 1882:

    Jake spends the morning looking for a job, but concludes that most of the offerings sound like far more physical labor than he is willing to do. Mid-way through the morning he manages an interview with Frank Condon, the co-owner of Condon’s Bank and gets hired as a guard for a salary of $ 9.00 a week. The bank is only open to the public for twenty hours a week, making it a relatively easy job, although he is not overly fond of making himself the target of potential robbers.

    The quartet is sitting down at the El Parador for lunch and Jake tells them of his success at landing a job. Nanuet says that he should find work too but doubts there is much available for an elvan Indian. Chumbley enters the building selling “Volume Two of the Promise City Edition of the Tombstone Epitaph.” Katherine purchases a copy, the top story reading “Arcade’s Gang Returns to Promise City – Four Dead At Comstock House Ambush”. The story is written almost verbatim to what Katherine and Ruby had dictated with him, followed by quotes of potential death threats by Wyatt Earp if the gang shows their faces in town again.

    The second page is a continuation of the story, talking about the three humans who died in the ambush. It names them as Fred Gresler, Gary Pierce and Noah Walsh and indicates that all three were mine workers at the Breakheart Mine. Jake innocently comments, “Maybe you could get a job there, they have three vacancies,” not realizing that Nanuet had been the catalyst for the deadly altercation. The article goes on to
    state how Elton Hubbard, owner of the Comstock House as well as the Owner and President of the SilverBell Mining Company (the parent company of the Breakheart Mine) has posted a reward. He is offering a $ 2.000 reward for the capture and return of Arcade’s Gang to Promise City, dead or alive, during the month of January 1882. The details for the reward specify that the full amount is for the entire gang but that rewards could also be paid as $ 1,000 for Arcade, $ 200 for the half-orc Louie, $ 200 for Sure-shot Sam and $ 100 for the other members of the gang.

    Nanuet decides to actually go along with Jake’s suggestion and heads over to the Breakheart Mine to apply. He regrets this decision when he discovers that the hiring manager, a man named Earl Hogan, is the little man with glasses eating breakfast that morning at the Comstock House. But the disguise holds up since Hogan does not recognize Nanuet. Hogan says “We normally don’t hire wood elves, but we’ll make an exception since we’re so short hand

    Several hours later at approximately 7:30 P.M. at the El Parador Cantina and Hotel, Promise City, Nanuet entered the El Parador Cantina and Hotel, his home since the first of the month. An evening at the Cantina tended to be lively here and tonight was no exception. Sanoma, a lovely young wood elf who was the daughter of proprietors Pedro and Dorita, was singing and dancing to the maraca and concertina music provided by Estaban Fuente, a robust young wood elf who also served as the Cantina’s bouncer. Estaban’s sister Maria was at the bar trying to catch the attention of several of the town’s miners who had stopped by for a drink. The other two resident harlots, Pepita Alverez and Angelica Husesca, had each enticed a patron to dance with them.

    All of the tables appeared to be occupied at the moment. The gambler Carlos Ramirez, twin brother of the bartender Jose, had a table full of patrons. Juan Gomez, a charismatic wood elf who resided at the inn also had a full table of card players. Nanuet saw three empty chairs at a table where another hotel resident, the dwarven prospector Flint Greymountain, was sitting alone with a half-filled bottle of whiskey. Nanuet politely asked, “Do you mind if I join you?” Flint didn’t answer, just stared forward with a blank expression on his face, so Nanuet took a seat.

    The dwarf refills his whiskey glass and looks around the table, apparently noticing his companion for the first time. Earlier in the week Nanuet had seen this dwarf in the company of a grizzled old human prospector, the two of them having worked together since the California gold rush of 1949. Nanuet asks, “So, where’s your partner?” “Dead,” is the dwarf’s reply.

    Two few blocks away , the gambler Silver Jake Cook approaches the doors to the The Lone Star Dance Hall and Saloon with an attractive woman hanging on each arm. To his right is Katherine Kale, attired in a fancy black dress, the recently widowed lady having come to Promise City for a fresh start. To his left is Ruby West, a saloon hall girl who had arrived simultaneous to Katherine, attired in a pretty red dress. All three reside at the El Parador and the two women have found employment at the Lone Star. His relationship with the women is strictly platonic but the familiarity between the three has worked to keep the other saloon patrons from trying to be overly friendly towards the ladies.

    They enter the twenty-five foot square two-story building and are shocked by what they see. During the previous three nights that Ruby had sang and danced there were between five and ten patrons at the saloon at any given point in time. Now it is packed, with every chair and barstool taken up, another dozen men standing near the bar, six more leaning against the stage and twenty more standing along the back wall. Gamblers Job Kane and Tony Lucky both have full tables of players. Bar owner Tom Whipple and his bartender and bouncer Jeff Mills are both busy behind the bar hurriedly serving drinks while Maggie Whipple is frantically waiting on tables. “Glad you’re here,” she says to Katherine, “I can use your help!”

    “What’s going on?” Ruby asked. Maggie replies “Something Tom put in that newspaper that came out today.” She pulls from a pouch in her apron a folded up paper and draws their attention to a small ad on the bottom of page seven. It reads: “The Lone Star Dance Hall and Saloon invites you to enjoy the musical talents of singer Ruby West. Bring in this promotion for a complimentary mug of beer.”

    Jeff Mills tosses Katherine her waitress apron and yells, “Be sure to collect the coupons, we don’t want any of these guys trying to use it twice.” Tom yells to Ruby “You’d better get on the stage and start singing. I won’t let anyone use the beer coupons unless they also listen to you.” Maggie and Katherine are both too busy serving for either of them to accompany her on the piano, so Cook reluctantly offers to play.

    Twelve miles to the southeast Alison "Al" Caine and Black Isaac O'Dell walked into the town of Galeyville, situated along the eastern slopes of the Chiricahua Mountains, roughly ten miles southeast of Promise City. Three days earlier they had ridden off into the hills following the morning’s gunfight. They returned to Promise City later that night and managed to free O’Dell’s friend from jail by prying off the outer bars to the cell when nobody was around. The trio then rode east into the mountains. Fearing that a posse might soon be after them, they decided to hold up in the hills for a few days.

    The three of them came upon a series of caves a few miles southwest of the town of Galeyville that appeared to have been recently inhabited. The caves included some bunks, a woodstove that was vented through a pipe in the roof to the outside, cooking gear, and a trunk with hardtack, dried jerky and bottles of whiskey. A larger adjacent cave had a forge and various branding equipment, shovels and a wheelbarrow filled with manure. They concluded that this was recently used as a hideout for cattle rustlers. They decided to lay low at the cave for a few days, and made good use of the accommodations, food and beverages. They departed this afternoon, leaving behind a $10 bill in the trunk as compensation since “Rustlers aren’t the type of folk you ever want to have mad at you.”

    They cautiously made their way to the town. They decided to have O’Dell’s friend wait outside the town with the horse while the other two scouted it out. Galeyville was comprised of around 120 wooden buildings, around a third of which appeared to have been abandoned. The main street was lined with over a dozen saloons filled with people, one of which had piano music coming from inside as well as what appeared to be a lot of activity. It had a sign that read “Silver Star Saloon” above the doorway.

    They entered, seeing that the saloon had around two dozen people inside. All were male except for a pair of harlots who were well past their prime. They made their way over to the bar and each ordered up a whiskey.

    “New in town?” the barkeep asks. “Yep,” O’Dell replies. The man says, “Thought I saw the weekly stage from Promise here a mite earlier than usual.” “Only comes once a week?” Al asks. The barkeep replies, “Yeah, town’s been dying. Last summer we had over 500 people livin’ here. Back then we got two or three stages a day.”

    “Been here long?” Al asks. He replies “Town ain’t been here long. Post Office only got established a year ago tomorrow. Town got started when folks workin’ for Texas oilman John H. Galey found silver in the hills nearby. Galey put in a smelter and people flocked here to make their fortune. But the silver ran out and the boomtown went bust. Ain’t nobody found any silver ‘round here since late summer and most folks have now moved on.”

    All sound in the tavern suddenly comes to a complete halt as a tall man with a dark mustache and open shirt makes his way into the room. Two large guns were shoved into his belt. He approaches a table and the people sitting at it jump up and leave. “Who’s that?” O’Dell asks. The bartender replies “Curly Bill Brocious, toughest man in these parts.” The man sits down and then yells “Whiskey.” The barkeep grabs a fresh bottle and quickly brings it over to the table along with a large mug.

    The piano player starts playing again and assorted conversations resume. O’Dell turns back to the bar and downs his glass of whiskey. Al continues to look in the general direction the large desperado. Her gaze then shifts as somebody else enters the tavern. “Uh oh,” she comments, O’Dell turns to see who she is now looking at. Standing in the doorway is a three-foot tall halfling of their acquaintance by the name of Chumley.

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