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Lost Conquistador Mine (D&D/Boot Hill hybrid)

Silver Moon

I am currently running as a traditional table game using D&D rules for my high-school aged daughter and her friends that is a spin-off from the wild west Play-by-Post campaign that ended a little over a year ago - the Story Hours are titled "Revenge, Renewal and the Promise of a New Year"; "Wizards, Whiskey and Wonderful Things"; "Here there be Vampires"; and "Ballots and Bullets".

The module source for this game is “Lost Conquistador Mine” which is a 1982 TSR Boot Hill module (BH2) by David Cook and Tom Moldvay.

The Playing Characters include four of the teenage secondary characters from the previous Promise City campaign, specifically the characters Emily Banks, Ginnie Flaherty, Cathleen O’Hara and Colleen O’Hara. They have been joined by several new teenage playing characters (with new players). To assist with continuity from the prior campaign Baradtgnome graciously sat in on the first game session, and his character Silver Jake Cook has remained as NPC in the module (in the role of the reluctant chaperone).

The module began in Promise City on November 22nd, 1882 and then quickly moved on to the module’s main setting, 75 miles to the east in the New Mexico Territory. We have played three gaming sessions thus far and are now into character time of early December 1882. I recorded the games and will be transcribing this “Story Hour”.

The initial two story posts of the Story Hour will each be a prelude detailing two-months of character time regarding what has transpired in Promise City during the four-month hiatus between the campaigns.
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Silver Moon

“Lost Conquistadors Mine” TSR Boot Hill Module BH2

Prelude I. – Promise City, Arizona from mid-July until mid-September 1882 :

The Community of Promise City was incorporated township of the Arizona Territory five months ago. Since then the town have been relatively crime-free, a stark contrast to the two years that preceded the election. Mayor Emery Shaw, the five-person Town Council, Town Marshal Chester Martin and his deputies Helen Barker, Grimli Blackrock, Neil Cassidy, Hank Hill and Rafael Sanchez have managed to establish a peaceful and efficient community during which the town has had significant economic growth.

Several silver mines in the surrounding region have flourished, with over two-million dollars worth of silver ore extracted from the ground in that five-month time frame. The three most lucrative mines being the Morand-Seawell Mining Company’s Dos Cabezas mine ten miles to the northwest, the Fisk Mountain Mine five miles to the northeast and the Cunningham Mine five miles to the west. While the four previously established mines immediately surrounding the town have had far less success, the ore from the newer mines has all been brought to town for processing and assaying, which in turn has helped grow nearly all of the town businesses. The Silverbell Mining company has closed their under-producing Breakheart Mines and has reassigned all personnel to the Breakheart Stamping Mill and Smelter operations.

In July 1882 the headmistress of Promise City’s school, Katherine (Kate) Kale, traveled to New York City to depart for England, serving as chaperone for Shannon O’Hara and her mentor Kevin Tomlinson. During the sea voyage there and back she took the opportunity to relax and study some subjects of interest to her that she had not had time for back in Promise City, specifically medicine, chemistry, astronomy and literature.

While in England Kate’s time was mostly consumed with learning from Tomlinson’s Council of Watchers, resulting in her knowing far more about the monsters that walk the earth than she ever really wanted. And although she couldn’t really participate due to her condition, she sat in on some of Shannon O’Hara’s physical training exercises. One of the trainers did some basic work with her, mostly on form, to help her if she should ever need to defend herself physically. She also received additional training in wizard magics from Kevin Tomlinson and one of his teachers.

A top story in the London Times concerned an August 1874 London bank robbery during which a trio of masked robbers killed a teller, a bank guard and two policemen while stealing a large quantity of money. After an eight-year-long investigation the break in the case came in June when a Polish man named Evanovich Kowalski Adarcziek was arrested in America and subsequently deported to England. A possession of Adarcziek’s was a key to a safety deposit box in Southampton, England, rented by an Englishman by the name of Reginald Brownstone, who turned out to be another of the robbers. The third robbery participant was then identified as a Frenchman named Jacques Croquette, whose present whereabouts are unknown. Kate was personally acquainted with Adarcziek, whom she knew from Promise City as Evan Adair. She sat in the audience several times during his public trial, taking hidden pleasure in his occasional glare at her. Both robbers were pronounced guilty and sentenced to be executed, although they have appealed the decision, a process that can take years in the British legal system.

At the end of July the Three Gods Meeting House in Tucson, Arizona was robbed by three members of the New Douglas Gang, namely Shotgun Sally Fox, Mongo Bailey and Pamela Yeats, who had recently escaped from a Colorado prison. They were accompanied by two other escapees from the prison, Henry ‘Buckskin’ Bennett and former bounty hunter Black Angus MacTavish. Two other robbery participants who have apparently now joined this gang were former Promise City residents (and former associates of Adarcziek) saloon girl Kitty Trent and gambler Tony ‘Lucky’ Corleone. The outlaws then escaped southward in the direction of the Mexican border.

In early August gambler Silver Jake Cook returned to Promise City from his San Francisco vacation and deposited what remained of his poker winnings (after several expensive gifts and also the purchase of the now renamed Jake’ Silver Dollar Saloon in San Francisco). The young gambler, saloon owner and silver mine owner easily falls back into a typical routine. A short while after his return Jake receives a telegram which reads:

”telegram” said:
To Jacob A. Cook from James G. Maguire
James and Virginia are proud to announce a son, Jacob James Maguire, was born yesterday. Mother and child are well, and Moria is impatient to play with her brother. We all look forward to your next visit Uncle Jake. We trust it will be son.
Warmest regards, The Maguires

Although he does not share the news of the birth of his namesake with anybody except the closest of friends, he does engage in several rip snorting drunken binges in celebration. The good news keeps him jubilant for nearly a week.

Silver Jake Cook and saloon manager Prosper McCoy then have several long discussions about the future of Cook’s rebuilt formerly named Palace Saloon. Jake is clear that he wants to go after a different clientele than the other drinking establishment that he co-owns and deals poker at, the Lucky Lady Dance Hall and Saloon. Drinks, music, dancing, working girls, faro roulette and miscellaneous entertainments for the working class folks who want to escape from their drudgery is the menu for the remade saloon. McCoy is told to leave the serious music and poker to the Lucky Lady, with bawdy and glitzy to be the flavor of the remade saloon. Besides giving McCoy some direction for how he would like the new Silver Palace Saloon to look on the inside he leaves the man to handle the details. Jake is confident that Prosper McCoy and his wife Bonnie will do just fine.

Bored with waiting for the saloon to reopen, Jake’s friend and newly hired Silver Palace Madame Mattie goes on a shopping spree without permission using Jake’s credit. Jake quickly puts an end to that and makes her work off the money as his personal assistant for the next several weeks. She repays him by doing cleaning, laundry and attending to Jake’s private matters.

During his time back Jake also keeps himself busy during the day making up for his absence to his Fisk Mountain Mine partners (minus Fisk himself). The mine is doing very well, and Jake rides along with many of the ore loads as added insurance. He also manages to get back into the discipline of daily weapons practice.

At night Jake takes up his regular evenings dealing poker at the Lucky Lady and gives his partner Job Kane some additional time off to make up for when Jake had been away. Management of the Lucky Lady continues smoothly, with faro dealer Darla Peacock George as the official manager and young Ginnie Flaherty secretly managing from behind the scenes. As the work progresses at the Silver Palace Saloon Jake makes one last change upstairs, the addition of a room for himself, as he has decided to move out of the Lucky Lady and make that room available for other uses.

Kate Kale, Shannon O’Hara and Kevin Tomlinson departed from England in early September. Shortly after boarding the ship Kate was given a fright when she spotted the world famous outlaw and bank robber Arthur Deadeye Douglas disembarking from the gangplank of an adjacent ship. Nine months earlier Kate had been present during an Arizona robbery led by Douglas, where two of her friends were wounded by gunfire. He was accompanied by woman who Kate assumed to be his known associate, safecracker Mae Clarke.

Both outlaws were wearing minor magical disguises, but Kate had been trained in how to penetrate this type of illusion. She panicked when Douglas paused and stared directly at her but was wise enough to keep that panic from showing in her facial expression. He then continued onward, apparently confident in his disguise. Tomlinson suggested that they refrain from directly altering the authorities, as doing so would not only put themselves in physical danger from Douglas but would also cause a delay in their return to America by weeks if not months. He suggested instead that he contact his Watcher’s Council and alert them to the presence of these unwanted tourists to Great Britain.

During the time of Mrs. Kale’s trip to Europe, her beau Conrad Booth had spent time training Shannon’s younger sisters, the teenage O’Hara twins Cathleen and Colleen, the fine sport of harness racing. The activity had originally begun as a strategy to interest Kate’s ward Ginnie in horses, but the girl continued her dislike of the animals. However, making money was of great interest to Ginnie and she soon usurped from Conrad the role of manager for the new racing team, devising how to best maximize their profits.

A successful race in Tucson, Arizona in late July led to their participation at another in Flagstaff, Arizona in early August and another in Albuquerque, New Mexico in late August. Colleen O’Hara’s natural affinity for animals combined with their strategy of having her twin Cathleen racing full-force to tire out the other races and then allowing Colleen to sweep in from behind resulted in one second place finish and pair of third place finishes for Colleen.

They then participated in an even more prestigious race in San Diego, California in early September. The girls had previously pooled together the money that they had earned as waitresses at the Lucky Lady’s big poker tournament in June, which Conrad had wagered on the races per Ginnie’s specific instruction. The majority of these wagers were reinvested into the San Diego race, where Colleen took first place and Cathleen took third, resulting in financial windfalls for all them as well as Ginnie and Conrad. The Promise City school term then began again, bringing their racing days to an abrupt halt.

Silver Moon

Prelude II. – Promise City, Arizona from mid-September until mid-November 1882:

Katherine Kale, Kevin Tomlinson and Shannon O’Hara returned to the United states in mid-September and were back in Promise City a week later. Kate found the new school term had already begun and that a new schoolhouse was well under construction. She had been adamant before leaving that the new school not be built on the site of the public municipal lot where hangings had taken place, and Mayor Shaw communicated those feelings in her absence, that site becoming the home of the new fire station instead.

A new street was needed to handle the town’s growth, and went up as an east-to-west block north of Sierra Street. The newly constructed Niles Hoover Memorial School became the street’s most prominent building, situated on the east side of Fremont Street and facing the new street which was subsequently named School Street. Colleen and Cathleen O’Hara used the majority of their racing winnings to build the O’Hara family a new home on School Street which they presented to their Mother and Uncle Shamus as a wedding present.

Kate cut back her teaching to part-time, officially leaving the school’s Headmistress responsibilities with Meghan O’Hara. Kate then spent much more time on her own studies and being active with the Cattleman’s Association. With her return to Promise City she also re-committed herself to her magical studies with Mr. Gonzales, but found his availability limited on occasion due to a number of different projects he was involved with. Working not only with Manuel Gonzales but also Kevin Tomlinson, she spent time expanding her repertoire of spells as well as strengthening her basic understanding of how magic worked. She also had a few lessons with Doctor Eaton, enhancing her basic medical training.

Kate took the week around October 3rd off, staying out at the ranch and tending to her late husband Tom’s grave on the first anniversary of his death. She made sure to spend plenty of time with her ranch partners Flint and Sonoma in order to keep herself from sinking too far into melancholy.

One remnant from last March’s festival to the Greek Gods is that two-dozen women in town were blessed by Aphrodite and now find themselves expecting a child within the next month of two. These include four unmarried females and twenty married couples. The unmarried women are Liza Brown whose father owns Brown’s Ice House, Leslie Hutton now of the Long Branch Saloon, Ellen Shaw whose father is the Mayor, and school teacher/rancher Katherine Kale.

Brown has identified her child’s father as the late Derek Avery and is currently being courted by furniture maker Cole Rixton. Hutton was employed as a prostitute at the Palace Saloon when she became pregnant and has named deceased bartender Dave Carleen as the child’s father although in reality it could have been any of a dozen men. Miss Shaw refuses to name her child’s father, creating somewhat of a scandal for the Mayor, who has moved her from his outlying ranch to his house in town. Doctor James Eaton and his wife Elizabeth have stated privately to several people that the Goddess Diana herself declared Mrs. Kale’s late husband to be child’s father, which many in town now believe as a result of the Eatons’ testimony, although skeptics suspect her present beau the gambler Conrad Booth to be responsible.

The married couples now with child are Rudy and Louisa Baines owners of Baines Butcher Shop and Smokehouse, Carl and Edith Berman owners of Berman’s Mercantile, Rufus and Anita Davis owners of the Arizona Billiard Hall, Manuel and Rosita Escobar who work for the Rocking H Ranch, Michael and Darla Peacock George who work at the Lucky Lady Dance Hall and Saloon, Erza and Elvira Hooten who own the Cochise Boarding House, Bif and Asa Johnson owners of Johnson Barber Shop and Baths, Kevin and Mary Kelly owners of Kelly’s Dry Goods, Peter and Trish Lovelace owners of the Rio Grande Hotel and Cafe, Clay and Hannah Milford who own the Double Eagle Boarding House, Chuck and Carrie Nevers who work for Wells Fargo, Jeremiah and Cornflower Peck who work for the Gunsight Brickyard, Gregory and Barbara Reston owners of Reston’s Pawn Shop, Raymond and Lila Singer who work for the Long Branch Saloon, Eric and Melissa Smith owners of the Promise City Hotel and Restaurant, Juan and Maria Tolucca who work for Cassidy Lumber, Paul and Mina Stevens owners of the First National Bank, Kris and Emma Wagner who manage the Wells Fargo Office, Gregory and Violet Walker owners of the Pine Creek Farm and lastly Charlie and Li Wong owners of Wong’s Laundry.

Life continues in the normal routine for Jake Cook into September with one exception. When Mattie’s debt is paid she gives Jake the cold shoulder for a time. That seems to suit him fine, as he felt he was punishing himself as well by putting up with her bellyaching over the cleaning duties. Gay Lady Dance Hall and Saloon dancer Fifi LaFarge takes up the opportunity to gain Jake’s attention, and he dallies with her for several weeks.

In mid-September Jake makes another trip to San Francisco to check on his saloon there, at least that is what he stated publicly. Privately, he could not wit any longer to see his new nephew. He spends a week or so visiting, but is somewhat lost dealing with a newborn who is quite messy and too young to corrupt. Jake establishes a bank account in San Francisco and leaves five thousand dollars there for a rainy day. On his way home he sets up an identical rainy day fund in Tucson.

In mid-October the school officially moved to its new building. The school currently has forty-one students enrolled, with full-time teaching from the school’s Headmistress Meghan O’Hara, full-time teacher Mollie Caudell, as well as part-time teaching from Katherine Kale, Nate Caudell, Judge Lacey, Manuel Gonzales, Doctor James Eaton, and ‘Mother’ Alajandra Jimenez. Outside of classroom hours Kate continued to spend time with Meghan, Mollie and Sandra Wainwright, cultivating the kind of friendships women need with other women.

Kate began renovations of her home. The most important improvement was to have plumbing added, including a full water-closet and bathtub. The former schoolroom became the parlor, complete with piano and the old parlor became a dining room. For these home renovations Kate finally decided to use some of her Seagram family money. She realizes that if she ever moves out to the ranch permanently she can either run the place in town as a boarding house or sell it. She begins to consider hiring a housekeeper for the place given her condition and how busy Ginnie had become.

More work was also done on the house out at the ranch, adding on a second story, a dedicated parlor, bedrooms upstairs and also a water closet with plumbing. A wrap around porch is the final feature. Although she doesn’t spend as much time in this house as the one in town she still considers it to be her primary residence and plants the Goddess Diana’s special acorn behind it as soon as the expansions were completed. She also has a small shrine to Diana erected near the house.

Some permanent ranch hands are hired to help out, most being half-elves of Apache descent that Flint’s lady friend vouched for the character of. A bunkhouse was built for them to live in. Kate worked with Sonoma to make sure that everything that they needed to appropriately run the place was in order. They began to plan for clearing more land to plant fruits and vegetables for the following year once Kate learned that Meghan O’Hara and her children had prior experience with canning produce.

Come late October the Silver Place Saloon holds it grand opening. Jake Cook soon falls back into his familiar Promise City routine again. The mine is doing very well, the saloons are prospering and what little trouble does surface at them is easily handled by the professional managers who he has in place.

Jake approaches Mayor and rancher Emory Shaw and miner and rancher Flint Greymountain about future business ventures. What Jake has to offer them is his financial backing and a peculiar knack for navigating through challenges that arise. He and Shaw discuss a potential partnership with ranching businesses that the Mayor is considering, Shaw telling him that the King family’s Bar-W Ranch may soon be up for sale. With Greymountain he enquires about the dwarf’s interest in getting back to the mining business, finding that the dwarf has already expanded his twenty-acre ranch to include mining on and below the lone hill on the property and has thus far obtained several hundred pounds of unprocessed precious metals.

As of November, the Priestess Minerva and her ward Nakomo have not returned to Promise City. She does send Jake an occasional letter from their various travels throughout northern California, the northwestern territories and the coastal region of Canada. Minerva’s paramour Nanuet also remains away from Promise City, rumored to now be exploring the eastern United States in the company of Roman-Greek priest Father John Harbrace. Minerva’s predecessor and successor, Reverend Anson Haggler, has fall back into the routine of being Promise City’s preacher although the Roman-Greek Church officially lists his position as Interim Pastor with Minerva still named as the official preacher, currently away on sabbatical. Haggler greatly appreciates the new church building and adjacent home that were constructed during Minerva’s tenure.

Kate continued to spend time at the Lucky Lady even though she no longer was an employee there. It gave her the opportunity to not only keep in touch with Jake, but also to get to know Job Kane’s fiancé Bernice Turner. She also continued to spend a considerable amount of time with Conrad Booth, with both of them learning how to make accommodations and compromise with the other as their relationship became a more settled thing. He kept up with his clarinet lessons, with he and Kate playing together with other musicians at the El Parador and Lucky Lady. It began to feel very strange to Kate that they were not married, a sure sign to her that they likely should be. She dedicated a great deal of time to him as other responsibilities had to be laid aside.

The main saloons in town continue to be the Long Branch, Gay Lady, Lucky Lady, Comique and Silver Palace. Drover’s Hotel is now a three-story hotel and restaurant. Several new drinking establishments have also sprung up on the western end of School Street where it intersects with both Front and Federal Streets. Other noteworthy new construction are the Promise City Fire Station at the northeast corner of Main and Federal Streets, Stanley Barker’s Baked Goods on Allen Street between Main and Sierra, Upton’s Bank and Brokerage at the southeast corner of Allen and School Streets and the Blackrock Brewery, a dwarven-run beer and ale manufacturer alongside Pine Creek 100 feet west of the Sierra Street footbridge.

Life moves along pleasantly for Silver Jake Cook. Besides visiting his mentor and friend Red in Tucson every other week or so, Jake accompanies the mine shipments from Fisk Mountain into town, practices shooting, plays poker, drinks a fair amount of whiskey and enjoys the company of a number of different women in Promise City, Tombstone and Tucson. Jake noticed that the George Eastman Company recently constructed a photographic plate manufacturing factory in Tucson. Jake heard that both Promise City Deputy Helen Eastman Barker and his Tucson Three Gods Meeting House partner Richard Broughton serve on that factory’s Board of Directors, but he has refrained from asking either of them about Mr. Eastman or the man’s reported fiancé.

Jake’s saloons and personal poker games are now on average making him over two hundred dollars a week after his personal expenses and drinking habits, while the mine is bringing in three times that amount. He enjoys the favorable luck while he can, knowing that his patrol Hermes can be capricious.

Silver Moon

Chapter One, “Meeting of the Hoover Mining Trust”, Wednesday, November 22, 1882:

Attorney Mitchell Berg has asked eight of the townspeople to meet him at the Lucky Lady Dance Hall and Saloon at 3:00 P.M. on this day. These eight are Lucky Lady owner and gambler Jake Cook, Lucky Lady cook Maria Fuente, rancher and school teacher Katherine Kale, Lucky Lady owner and gambler Job Kane, Town Marshall Chester Martin, Fire Marshall and Lucky Lady bouncer Jeff Mills, Lucky Lady singer Clarisse Townsend and Lucky Lady handyman and bouncer Thom.

These people comprise eight of the eleven people who each have a 9% ownership of the Hoover Mining Trust which Attorney Berg is the Administrator. Two of the other three trust participants are currently away from Promise City and have authorized Berg to conduct business on their behalf in their absence. The remaining trust owner is wanted outlaw and fugitive Tony Lucky Corleone and any of his earnings have been court ordered to be paid to the Three Gods Meeting House in Tucson as restitution for his robbery participation there.

To date the members of the Trust have received no proceeds from the marginally successful Beatrice Mine that the trust owns half of or from the very successful Cunningham Mine which the trust owns one-third of. The stated purpose of this meeting is to announce the first profit distribution. Other guests in attendance are Maria’s brother Estaban Fuente, Mrs. Kale’s ward Ginnie Flaherty, and Mr. Kane’s fiancé Bernice Turner. Also present is Harry Rote, who had previously been Niles Hoover’s business partner.

Attorney Berg waits until all are seated and the Saloon’s doors are locked. He says, “Welcome Trustees, I have very good news for you all. As you all know, the Hoover Mining Trust owns seven properties of which Niles Hoover had invested, which he passed on to you. I am happy to say that three of these properties now look to be somewhat lucrative for the owners. I am only sorry that Niles himself never lived to see this but he will be pleased to have passed on to you something of value.

The first of these is the Kern-Runnion Mine on Bowie Mountain. That was one that proved to be devoid of any precious metals. Niles bought out the shares of both Kern and Runnion to give the pair enough money to start over again. The trust therefore owns eighty percent of this property, with Mr. Rote here owning the other twenty-percent of the property. That mine itself continues to be worthless except for one minor fact, namely its location. It is adjacent to the 100-acre plot of land, on which sits the ballooning factory that Count Ferdinand Zeppelin. Count Von Zeppelin’s has had success with his initial two prototypes and has now received a very lucrative contract from the United States Army to begin full-scale production of his balloons.

Zeppelin therefore wishes to expand his facilities and what would be most convenient would be to purchase the adjacent property, which you guys just happen to own. He has made a generous offer of $ 500 per acre for each your forty acres.

Ginnie asks, “What is the basis for the infrastructure already established within the mine and how would this be accommodating to him?” Berg is momentarily taken aback by the child’s question. “Ginnie, speak English,” Jeff comments. Ginnie rephrases the question and speaks slowing stating “What is there that is already in place that could be more useful to him than land?” Berg says “Only a bunch of holes in the hill with nothing in it but gravel.” Ginnie says, “No, that is an already constructed storage area for him to make use of that could also be used to house excess workers. We should ask for more.”

Berg says, “He’s offered $500 an acre! Do you know what land sells for around here?” Kate says, “Ginnie, it sells for $5 an acre.” Jake asks, “Mitch, Mr. Berg, who is funding your interest in this transaction?” Berg says, “My interest? It is the same as yours, I retain a one-percent ownership of the Hoover Mining Trust as the Administrator’s fee, the eleven of your own the other ninety-nine percent, each with a nine-percent share.” Jake says, “So you are not being paid by Von Zeppelin.” Berg replies, “No, in fact I recommended that he retain Elihu Upton as his attorney should The Trust agree to this transaction since I clearly have a conflict of interest.”

That satisfies Jake who says, “So besides Ginnie, who wonders why he is offering so much, we seem to think this is a good idea. I’m wondering why he is offering so much?” Berg says, “He is offering $ 20,000 for a hunk of land so that he can more conveniently fulfill his million-dollar contact with the United States Government.” Kate says, “I think that is the answer.” Berg says, “He wants to expand in the direction of the land because the other side of his property is the Fisk Mountain Mine, who have a successful silver operation there.”

Jake says, “So I suggest that we sell him the land but retain the mineral rights.” Ginnie says, “I like that idea. If we hold the mineral rights we can provide him with any excavation needed for himself, therefore increasing his actual usability of the land.” Berg says, “I’m guessing that if you are adding stipulations he may not be willing to pay his offering price. What price would you want to retain these rights?’ Kate points out that nothing has been found there. Berg adds that a considerable amount of excavating was done by Hoover’s former partners.

It is pointed out that the nearby Fisk Mountain Mine had experienced miners working it a very long time before the silver vein was actually discovered and that was done only on their last ditch effort, and it the most inaccessible place on that site. Kate says, “Unless we’re going to put forth an effort to find it, then it is unlikely.” Berg says, “It is safe to say that while the ballooning people are using large quantities of hydrogen and helium gasses they won’t be doing a whole lot of dynamiting nearby.”

Kate is content to take the $ 500 per acre. Ginnie suggests that a clause be added to give the Trust the right of first refusal to repurchase the land should Von Zeppelin decide to sell it.” Berg suspects that can be done without having to renegotiate the deal. Jake says, “I think that the mineral rights should be retained, even with the long-shot odds. You never know when you draw to an inside straight. How about this, we go with the same price offered but agree to let him have 25% of the mineral rights, us retaining the other 75%.” That is put to a vote and passes, with Berg saying he will attempt the re-negotiation. Harry agrees as well.

Berg dismisses Harry, saying “Mr. Rote, the remainder of this meeting does not concern you. On your way out if you could please admit the two gentlemen who should be waiting outside that would be most helpful.” Harry leaves, holding the door for the elderly wood elf Manuel Gonzales and a well-dressed clean-shaven man in his early twenties wearing a quality tailored suit who the others present do not know. The two men takes seats at the table.

Berg says, “Most of you know Manuel Gonzales. The man with him is Charles Jobin, his uncle was Dudley Jobin, a partner with Mr. Messier at the Beatrice Mine. You may recall that Dudley Jobin perished at the mine in June.” Kate and Jake exchange looks at that comment, as Kate was nearly killed by Jobin in that previous altercation. Jake adding “Sad thing that.” Berg states that Charles was the sole beneficiary of his Uncle’s estate.

Berg then says, “Because of some concerns that Judge Isby’s assistant Mr. Tomlinson brought to my attention about Mr. Messier’s honesty and forthrightness he has continued to work this mine since June under the close supervision of myself as well as Mr. Gonzales, who I subcontracted for that task. What was found was a rare mineral called wolfram, also known by the name of tungsten. It is one of the rarest and most valued metals found because it has the highest melting point of any metal. It is used outside of the United States in countries that deal with Wizard magics as a component for the making of magical artifacts and items.” Jake says, “I believe the only element more rare than that is unobtainium.”

Berg continues, “There was one small vein of this metal. It has now been mined to exhaustion during the last five months, with a finished product after processing of 320 pounds of this metal.” “Quite a lot,” Kate states, thinking of how many rings and wands could be constructed from that. Berg says, “Messier had a twenty-five percent share of that mine. He took his eighty pounds and departed, with no desire to stay here any longer. Since he has no intentions of ever returning he has signed over his claim to the mine to the remaining partners.” Gonzales nods while glancing at Kate and Ginnie, indicating that he had a hand in persuading Messier to do that.

Berg says, “Mr. Jobin here owned a quarter of the mine and the Trust owned half, so the new percentage would be Jobin now owing one-third and the Trust with two-thirds of the Beatrice Mine. We are here today to talk about the disposition of the remaining 240 pounds of this precious metal. There is actually nothing to talk about, since by law any and all wolfram must be sold to the United States Government for a fixed price of $ 2 an ounce.”

Ginnie interjects, “Yeah, right, that ain’t happening.” Chester clears his throat. "Young lady. The law is clear, Washington has first dibs on this. Our hands are tied. Plus, if we sell it to someone else, the government will wonder where it came from." Jake says, “Maybe there is a typo on that form, we didn’t find 240 pounds, we found 2.4 pounds, which we are obligated by law to sell to the Government.”

Jobin speaks up and says, “I’ve done some inquiries and have discovered that there are people who are willing to pay between $6 and $8 per ounce for this.” Mitchell Berg says, “I am sure that is true Mr. Jobin, but Mr. Gonzales here knows a little about this too.” Manuel says, “Well yes, some of you may know that in my younger days I served with the Mexican Military and as such I still have some connections down in Mexico. My connections seem to think that I could get between $20 and $25 per ounce for this metal.” Jobin becomes very excited upon hearing this.

Mitchell Berg says, “That is very interesting but obviously it is a moot point since we have an obligation to sell this to the Government. So officially that is what we must do. I make a motion at this point in time that we vote to sell this to the Government….and that we make Mr. Gonzales our agent to see about carrying out this transaction.” Several people around the table laugh at this suggestion, with Kate seconding that motion.

Jobin objects to giving all 240 pounds to somebody who he does not know. Gonzales suggests that Jobin accompany him on this journey, to which he agrees. The motion passes. Gonzales says he will head out almost immediately to find a Government Agent or some other intermediary to sell it to in exchange for an eight-percent agent fee. Gonzales and Jobin depart [and thus, puts into place the plot device needed by the GameMaster to explain Gonzales’s absence for the remainder of the module].

Berg says, “The final piece of business today concerns the Cunningham Mine. As you may recall Raymond Cunningham owned two-thirds of that mine and the Trust owned the other third. In June Mr. Cunningham suffered an unfortunate demise at the hands of those bandits in the area. His son Simon inherited the mine and had limited mining and management skills himself, but had the good fortune to be romantically involved with the Mayor’s daughter Patricia. As you all know, Emery Shaw is a very trustworthy man and was given charge of the management of the mine, subcontracting out the work to the Morand-Seawell Mining Company.

This was good timing as Morand-Seawell had been gearing up for full-scale production of their own mines but were just staring up so had the resources available to temporarily focus on this other lucrative vein. The majority of the Silverbell Mining Company’s ore processing in town has therefore been of the ore from the Cunningham mine, with almost a million dollars worth of silver having been extracted. After processing fees to Silverbell as well as the extraction and transportation fees to Morand-Seawell it still results in a net value of $ 780,000 worth of processed silver.

Chester and Clarisse gasp in amazement. He says, "That's a fortune. When word gets out, it'll attract all manner of folk." She says to Chester, "We... I mean, you'll be able to build your own house." She blushes at the slip. Chester pats her hand. Ginnie whispers over to Kate “So we don’t have to worry about the farm anymore?” “Shhh,” is Kate’s reply as Ginnie mutters “I never have to ride a horse again.”

Berg states, “The Trust’s one-third will be $ 260,000 so each of you will receive $ 23,400 as your share.” Berg adds, “This isn’t the last of the money from this mine, although any additional mine will be harder to access and with greater processing cost. So you will get more but this payment probably represents half-to-two-thirds of what is there and it will take a lot longer to get the rest.”

Berg says, “I have had the money evenly distributed among the three banks in town, so I have paperwork here where you can each decide which bank or banks you wish for your share to be deposited in and I will then arrange the transfers.” Kate mutters to Ginnie, “I’m thinking of the Bank of Gonzales.” Ginnie whispers back, “That doesn’t earn interest.” Kate replies, “It doesn’t get robbed either.” Clarisse says, "Chester and I don't want our shares in any bank those Condon's own. I don't want anything to do with them."

Berg says, “That’s all I have for you today.” Jake comments, “Well, it’s been a profitable morning.” Ginnie says, “So I’ll never have to drive a horse again.” Kate says to her, Only if you plan to walk everywhere you go. I didn’t make you learn to ride to make you miserable. You need to learn to ride to be able to go places faster than you can walk.” Ginnie whispers back, “There are other ways to go faster than I can walk.” Kate whispers back, “Not that are publically known.”

Clarisse and her boyfriend Chester are talking among themselves when Bernice Turner says to them, “You two can get married now, you have enough money.” Jake jokes, “Think of the china set they can get now.” Jeff jokes, “They could buy the biggest house in town.” Chester sputters. Clarisse claps his back. She asks, "Are you alright, honey?" He composes himself and replies, "Just fine." He glares at the others who give him innocent looks back and comments, "I'll be sure your invitations get lost in the post."

Clarisse nudges the Marshal, "Chester, That's not nice. You apologize... Wait what did you mean by invitations?" He replies, "Well I was going to wait until later, but... " He pulls out a ring from his vest pocket and gets down on one knee. "Clarisse Townsend, will you be my wife? You make me the happiest man in all of Promise City." Barely a second of time passes before she replies with an enthusiastic “Yes!” as she then dives into his arms.

Kate smiled as Chester and his new fiancée embraced and kissed, with Clairesse blushing a rosy red. In a moment she approached, gave both hugs and kisses on the cheek and said, "I'm sure you'll both be very happy. Everyone will be all worked up, the Marshall getting married will have the town buzzing. If you need any help getting things settled let me know." That ends the meeting and some people begin to depart.

Silver Moon

Chapter Two, “Teenagers”, Wednesday, November 22, 1882:

As Ginnie leaves the meeting she runs into her friends Cathleen and Colleen O’Hara. Ginnie exclaims, “I never have to ride a horse on purpose again!” Kate and Jake are filing out behind them and heard the yell. Kate asks “How does one ride a horse not on purpose?” Ginnie turns around and says, “Usually when somebody is shooting at us.” “Smart girl,” Jake states.

Ginnie ignores the adults, who head off on their own. Jake goes back to the saloon for his share of carousing and drinking. Ginnie turns back to her friends states “I don’t have to take horse lessons any more.” Cathleen says, “Oh, I’m gonna miss you.” “You can whine later,” Ginnie tells her. Colleen asks, “What happened?” Ginnie answers, “Money, mines, no more horses.” “Explain?” states Colleen. Ginnie quickly fills them in about the meeting. Cathleen cries out sadly, “Ohh, so you’re not going to go to horse riding lessons any more.”

Two more students from the school come over, the first being the Mayor’s half-elf niece Emily Banks who Colleen has been receiving druidic training with. The ancient elf of the Yavapai tribe named Jadito has been passing on his nature priest knowledge to the children. The other student is Morgan, a young man of Welch descent whose family had arrived in the area during the past month, his father is working at one of the mines. Morgan hasn’t the strength or constitution to go into mining, spending most of his time writing, reading and reciting literature.

Emily says to Ginnie, “So, what did Jake have to say to you?” Ginnie replies, “All Jake knows, or wants to know, is that I help make him lots of money. He has no problem with that. I am also very good as head of security for the Lucky Lady.” Emily replies, “Because nobody expects a little girl to be head of security.” Morgan approaches them saying “Good day ladies.”

Ginnie exclaims, “Morgan! I was checking out this book on ancient runic signs and I think there are some things that you might be interested in.” “More books?” Emily comments. Ginnie says, “Books are great. There’s all sorts of stuff that you can take, and you can use, and you can twist, and you can change and you can make it work for you…extensively entertaining!” Colleen says, “Ginnie, you’re babbling again.”

The conversation shifts to mining, with Morgan commenting how he is worried about his father working today with dynamite on the new mine head. Emily comments that “Blowing up things hurts things, although I guess rocks aren’t so bad.” Cathleen exclaims, “It’s really cool! It makes a big bangy sound! And light! And smoke!” Colleen says, “Cathleen, shut up.”

Ginnie goes back to her conversation with Morgan saying, “It’s like this. You take the book and you find the thing of interest, and that thing has specific properties that are listed in the book, then you manipulate the properties with other combinations to create other things.” “Is she talking about a science book?” Cathleen asks her twin. Colleen replies, “I certainly hope so.” Emily says, “I already know about those things, Jadito is teaching me that, I don’t need a book.” Ginnie answers, “You do if you want to learn it on your own. Plus an instructor may not know everybody, with the books you can cross reference.”

The following day is the fourth Thursday in November on which date the National holiday of Thanksgiving is celebrated. It had been declared as such by President Lincoln back during the Civil War, meaning that all banks and Government buildings are closed, which would also include the school. The teenagers are all excited about having the next day off from school. Ginnie exclaims, “I’ll have the time to do some real analytical research.” “Or have some fun,” Cathleen states. Colleen tells her sister, “Ginnie considers that fun.”

Emily says, “I for one will not look at a book for the whole twenty-four hours, or more, that is a real day off from school.” Colleen says, “And we’ll have a nice Thanksgiving dinner.” Ginnie whines, “Ohhh, darn, Ma’am Kate can’t cook.” Kate is still barely within earshot and heads over upon hearing her name. Ginnie says, “Ma’am Kate, are you cooking Thanksgiving dinner?” Kate replies, “I wasn’t planning on it. We’ll eat at the El Parador.” Ginnie asks, “Does Dorita even make turkey enchiladas?”

Ginnie says, “That’s fine, I was just hoping that you wouldn’t attempt it. It is a holiday and sometimes you do that, and I can’t handle any more boiled eggs I just can’t.” “I can’t be good at everything. We also have money now, I can always hire us a cook. We need to start looking for someone,” is Kate’s reply. She adds, “This house is too big now without the school being in it.” Ginnie replies, “You’re telling me? I do most of the cleaning.” “I do some too,” Kate states.

They wander out of earshot of the other teenagers and Ginnie asks, “Who should we hire?” Kate says, “We’ll have to careful if we have an outsider in the house….unless of course, we hire someone who Dorita knows, then it won’t matter.” Ginnie says, “We shouldn’t hire anybody as a cook who Dorita doesn’t know. She’s the only one in town who can really cook.” Kate points out that Hannah Milford, Milissa Smith, Walter O’Rielly and Joseppi Franjolupi are all excellent cooks as well.

“They’re not Dorita,” is Ginnie’s answer. Kate adds, “True, but I was also thinking that a friend of Dorita’s might understand that there may be things in our home that they might see that others would be alarmed about. We’ll find somebody, perhaps a combination housekeeper and cook.” “Just so there’s no more boiled eggs and burnt toast as a meal,” Ginnie says.

Colleen and Emily go off with Jadito to do some more training and he teaches them a whole lot of new low-level druidic spells. They engage in an ethical debate about whether it is honest to befriend livestock that you plan to cook and eat. Emily declares that would be dishonest, that she has no problem with eating livestock but she won’t trick them into walking into their deaths.

Thursday, November 23, 1882:

Since Ginnie does not have to go to school this day she gets up early, does some studying, then goes and does some serious research in Manuel Gonzales’s workroom and laboratory. Emily Banks is up early too and quickly leaves before she has to deal with her cracky, spoiled and rather pregnant cousin Ellen. She has grown to dislike Ellen, having instead gotten closer to her cousin Tricia instead. This is due in part to Mayor Emory Shaw taking a liking to Tricia’s boyfriend, the now wealthy Cunningham Mine owner. Emily could care less about him being rich, but this shows that his interest in her cousin isn’t just for Shaw’s money.

Colleen O’Hara and Emily Banks meeting at the grove near the church to practice some of the new druid spells that they learned. Cathleen O’Hara twins would opt to sleep late, except for the fact that her five younger siblings do not allow her to.

Once Ginnie has finished up her studying she heads downstairs at the El Parador for some breakfast. She tells Dorita "Ma’am Kate said that we can finally hire a cook! Find me one!” Dorita assures her that she will find them a good cook. Ginnie is pleased by that news and heads out with a huge smile on her face.

Ginnie meets Colleen, Cathleen and Emily at the Lucky Lady, as the regular wait staff has been given the afternoon off since the kids were available to wait on the lunch crowd, a job they have continued to do when available since the poker tournament last June.

There are now eighteen stagecoaches a week, a daily run to and from Wilcox, a run to and from Tombstone each weekday, two runs between Tombstone on weekends, and twice a week eastbound stage between Tombstone and El Paso, Texas, as well as two westbound stages heading the other direction. Three stages have come to town today, the Tombstone stage, the Wilcox stage, and the westbound El Paso to Tombstone stage.

Ginnie always make sure that somebody from the Lucky Lady Dance Hall and Saloon is waiting to greet every stagecoach that arrives in town, handing out a flyer to the Lucky Lady with a discount on their first drink or meal. Instead of Jeff Mills or Thom greeting the stages today an enthusiastic Ginnie does the job herself, managing to convince a number of people to visit. Later that day she notices that one of the El Paso to Tombstone patrons had left behind a newspaper, one that she does not normally see.

Being something new to read Ginnie sits down with a cup of lemonade and plate of cookies to read what it has to say. It is not much of a newspaper, only four pages, and titled “The Dead Mule Gazette”. It has an elaborate letterhead reading “The Dead Mule Weekly Gazette, Dead Mule, New Mexico Territory, Frank Washbuck Editor”. Ginnie vaguely recalls a reporter named Frank Washbuck attended the poker tournament last June. Washbuck was a big, bald barrel-chested man with a handlebar mustache. She has no idea exactly where Dead Mule, New Mexico is but assumes it is somewhere along the stagecoach route, probably a stage stop for the horses to be swapped out.

Most of the stories concern Deming, New Mexico, which she thinks is due east. To satisfy her immediate need to know she heads over to the Wells Fargo office to consult their map, verifiying that Deming is approximately 100 miles east, with the smaller community of Dead Mule around 75 miles east of Promise City. Heading back to the Lucky Lady and refilling her milk glass and cookie plate, she continues reading the paper.

There is a nasty editorial that criticizes Sheriff Earnest Johnson of Dead Mule, saying that he is a coward, completely useless, will not do his job and lets Vigilantes run roughshod over the town. “So it’s the same as here?” Ginnie comments out loud to herself. The final story that her eyes set upon, in the middle of page four, makes her heart skip a beat. It mentions that a man by the name of Antonio Mendoza has arrived in town seeking Dutch Jack, a prospector in the area, and accusing Dutch Jack of stealing a precious family heirloom of the Mendoza’s, namely a map. As the last surviving Mendoza he wishes to get this map back, stating that it was made by his ancestor of his named Jaun Phillipe Sebastian Mendoza. Ginnie recognizes that name and charges out of the saloon and back to Manuel Gonzales’s library to confirm what she suspects.
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Silver Moon

Chapter Three, “Field Trip”, Thursday, November 23, 1882:

Ginnie heads up to Mr. Gonzales’s library to Confirm that the name Jaun Phillipe Sebastian Mendoza is who she thinks. It is indeed the name of the sole survivor of a expedition from Mexico into the lands that are now Arizona and New Mexico during which Coronado’s sword was buried. Manuel Gonzales has been searching for this sword for decades, in fact, that was the main reason that his Granddaughter Dorita and her husband Pedro moved to this region after the lands were ceded to the United States.

Ginnie realizes that this clue to the sword’s whereabouts is very time sensitive, that if they wait until Gonzales returns from his current errand the map and treasure will probably have already been obtained by Mendoza’s descendent. Ginnie rounds up her teenage friends Emily, Colleen, Cathleen and Morgan to inform them that the five are heading out on a trip. “Where are we going?” Emily asks. Ginnie replies, “It will be fun. There will be plants there that you have not seen before.

The others want to know what is going on. Not wanting to give away too many of Gonzales’s secrets she says, “I have this really possibly fun field trip in mind for us. It will get you out of school for quite a few days…” “I’m with you!” Emily interjects. Ginnie continues, “We’ll have some great new stories. A whole town full of people you don’t know that you can talk to. Just come on.” “Yay!” Cathleen interjects. “Okay, where and why?” Colleen asks.

“Is your mother going to let you do this?” Emily asks. “I don’t have a mother,” Ginnie replies. “Okay, your guardian,” Emily repeats. Colleen asks again, “Ginnie, where are we going and why?” Ginnie says, “Ma’am Kate probably will let us go, but she might decide that we need a chaperone.” “She’s not going to let us go by ourselves,” Emily states. Colleen repeats in a more emphatic tone, “Ginnie, where are we going and why?” “We’re going to New Mexico!” Ginnie answers. Colleen says, “Fine, but why?” Emily says, “It’s not school, who cares.” “Meet you back here in a hour,” Ginnie exclaims as she runs off to the El Parador Hotel.

Ginnie arrives and Dorita welcomes her enthusiastically. “We need to talk,” Ginnie states. “I always like talking with you,” the middle-aged elf replies in broken English. Dorita adds, “Come on in the kitchen, I teach you how to cook, somebody need to know how to cook in your house.” Ginnie says, “No, we need to go talk in your Grandfather’s room.” Dorita replies, “Grandfather is away. I usually not go there when he not here. He not like that.” “He’s like it this time,” is Ginnie’s reply. “Okay,” she states and they head upstairs.

Once in the room Ginnie reads her the article. “Oh my goodness,” is Dorita’s answer. “Which means this has to happen now,” Ginnie states. “Where is this Dead Mule place?” Dorita asks. Ginnie shows her on a map that it is around 75 miles to the east. “That a long trip and we not know that anything is there,” Dorita states. “This is the first good clue we’ve gotten,” she states. Dorita replies, “That is further east than we thought it was.”

Ginnie replies, “I think it’s just a map that is there, I think it will show the treasure is somewhere closer to here.” “That could be, yes,” Dorita states. “But we need the map,” Ginnie says. “According to this article this Dutch guy has it,” the older elf comments. “Yes, which means that we need to get it before this Mendoza guy does,” the girl answers. “How will we do this?” Dorita inquires. Ginnie says, “I’m not one-hundred percent sure. I got the kids together and I think we can pull it off.” “Pull what off?” Dorita asks. “Getting there and finding where the map is,” she replies.

Dorita has an alarmed look on her face and states, “Too dangerous. You kids can’t go. This is a job for grown-ups.” “Uh huh,” Ginnie answers adding “And you’re going to go?” Dorita states, “Pedro and I can go if we have to.” “No, you can’t go,” Ginnie interjects. “Why can’t we go?” Dorita asks. “Because somebody has got to run this place.” “But this is more important! Grandfather would want me to do this,” Dorita answers.

“How much practice have you had lately?” Ginnie asks. “Practice doing what? I cook?” replies the elf. Ginnie says, “Yeah, we’re not going to cook them to death.” “We are not planning to kill them!” Dorita exclaims. Ginnie replies, “No, we’re not planning on it. We’re going to acquire the map.” Dorita asks, “And how will we acquire map?” Ginnie asks “Do you have acquisition talents?” The well-structured middle-aged elf admits that she does not. The conversation winds down.

Ginnie heads back up to Manuel’s library and looks up information about Coronado’s original expedition into the United States looking for cities of gold. There are notes on the way back how the Spaniards were going to put to death some Mexican Indian servants they had brought along but that these women were rescued by Jadito, Mother Jaminez and a few others. Those women escaping into the hills surrounding what is now Promise City, with many of the local elves and half-elves of Mexican descent having mothers or grandmothers in that group.

A few decades later, after Coronado had died, a second Spanish expedition came into the region again searching for these cities of gold. Part of this expedition including the burying of some of Coronado’s possessions, including his sword. This expedition was led by Manuel de Carlos in 1548. Most of the men with him were veterans of Coronado’s first expedition with Mendoza the only survivor. He died within a year of his return to Mexico, leaving his descendents with a map.

Gonzales’s next note references the year 1760, citing a Frederico Mendoza who traveled back to this general area. The specific location is not mentioned but the notes say that he encountered both Navaho and Apache, thus the border area between what is now Arizona and New Mexico. This Mendoza was slain on the journey but others in this expedition did return to their homes in Mexico with gold. That was the final reference that Gonzales had.

Ginnie decides it is time to talk to her guardian. She arrives at the house and blurts out “I need to go on a trip.” Kate smiles and with a slight amount of apprehension in her voice says, “You need to go on a trip. What kind of trip?” Ginnie hands her the newspaper and points to the article. As Kate knows the story she immediately understands the importance of this trip. Ginnie senses the thoughts going through the mind of her eight-plus-months pregnant guardian and exclaims, “You’re not going anywhere. I ain’t birthing no babies.”

Kate replies, “I’m not going anywhere because even with this magical ring I can’t keep up with you.” Ginnie says, “I got the crew together.” “Is there a crew at the moment? As far as I know it’s just me, Jake and Chester at the moment,” Kate states. Ginnie says, “Not YOUR crew, I got MY crew together.” Kate pauses and reluctantly asks, “Who is your crew?” Ginnie says, “I’ve got my twins!” “Meghan’s daughters,” Kate states. Ginnie says “Um humm, and Em.” “The Mayor’s niece,” Kate comments. Ginnie says, “Yeah, and the new kid.” “Someone you barely know. This doesn’t sound like the best of plans,” Kate adds.

Ginnie says, “We’ll take a horse.” Kate says, “I think you’ll need to take a horse each, plus one for the ADULT who goes with you.” Ginnie ignores the adult comment and says, “The twins will take their buggies, you only need one horse for two people with those.” Kate says,”I can’t say that I like this but I understand that somebody needs to go.” “And it can’t be you,” Ginnie states. Kate nods agreement and says, “And it can’t be me.

Ginnie says, “And it can’t be Dorita and Pedro, they’d only get in the way. I don’t want to risk putting either of them in a firefight. And not too many other people know about this…or should.” Kate nods and interjects, “Our teacher has lost enough children. But you do need an adult. I assume that you will use stealth and brains rather than fighting power for this task.” Ginnie nods agreement and adds “Okay.”

The two take an inventory of the skills available, with Ginnie being a magic-User/thief, the O’Hara twins being a fighter and a druid, Emily being a druid and Morgan as a bard. Kate reiterates, “As I said, stealth and smarts.” “I really really hate this,” Kate says. Ginnie replies, “Well, Mr. Gonzales is away, Mother Jiminez doesn’t leave, I’m not going to drag around the priest from the church.” “Mr. Valdez?” Kate adds. “Or that Haggler guy, so I’m out of adults.” Ginnie says.

Kate smiles and states, “No, you’re not…..there’s Jake.” Ginnie exclaims, “You told me I had to bring an adult, not bring Jake! I’m more of an adult than he is.” Kate replies, “Technically, he’s an adult. He also knows how to be discrete and when to be quiet. He knows how to be stealthy. He also seems to have more than just a little bit of luck.” Ginnie still appears reluctant until Kate adds, “He also knows how to shoot really well if it comes down to it.” “Alright,” Ginnie reluctantly states. Kate finishes with “And I will shoot him if anything happens to you.”

Silver Moon

Chapter Four, “Silver Jake Cooke…..Chaperone?”, Thursday, November 23, 1882

Kate and Ginnie head over to the Silver Palace, a tavern that they both usually avoid. Jake is also surprised to see them enter. Before he can even say ‘Hello” Ginnie blurts out “Jake, we’re going on a field trip. You’re the chaperone. Get your stuff.” “Heh?” he replies. Ginnie gestures to Kate and says, “She won’t let me go without you. I don’t have a choice. Get your stuff, and pack heavy.” A confused Jacob Cooke asks for an explanation.

They find a private room over at the schoolhouse where Kate quickly fills him in, him recalling some of his prior conversations with Manuel Gonzales. Kate emphasizes how it is imperative that the sword be retrieved as quickly as possible. Jake appears disinterested until they also mention that the map leads to a gold mine.

Ginnie says, “Yes, apparently Coronado’s sword is also surrounded by all of his treasure. And if we find all of that too then it’s a good thing, but it’s not the main objective! We have to find the map before the map get disappeared, because this Dutch guy, who may not really be Dutch, but that is where the map is but that other guy who says that he owns it…..”

Kate interrupts saying, “I would go myself but..” Ginnie exlaims, “You’re not going any where! I ain’t birthing no babies.” Jake asks, “Is Ginnie planning to go even if none of us do?” “I don’t think anything could stop her. At a minimum I would be spending the next four weeks of my life doing everything I can to make sure that she doesn’t run off,” Kate states. Ginnie exclaims, “We don’t have a choice. This has to happen and it has to happen now.” Jake states, “We always have choices.” Ginnie says, “I don’t, Gonzales needs this. It has to happen now!”

Kate tells Ginnie, “You can’t go by yourself.” Ginnie says, “I’m not going by myself.” So who exactly is going? And we’re trying to find a map?” Jake asks. Ginnie says, “Yes, a map that will lead us to large amounts of treasure, gold, and hopefully the sword.” Jake repeats “Who else is going?” Ginnie says, “The twins, Emily, and the new kid.” A long pause follows.

With a little more coaxing Jake very reluctantly agrees to go saying, “Fine, I’ll bring them there I’ll bring them back.” “I would appreciate it,” Kate replies. Jake says, “But I doubt that anybody will buy into the fact that they are going on a school field trip with me?”. Kate says, “They’ve gone on overnight field trips before with Mr. Gonzales and Mrs. Jaminez, it’s not that unusual.” Jake replies, “I a professional gambler who run’s the Silver Palace, that’s not exactly school teacher type of material. What is Professor Jake a teacher of?” “Probability and statistics,” is the reply.

They move on with the planning. They decide to take horses and both of the buggies, each buggy will hold two people. It is decided that Cathleen, Colleen, Ginnie and Morgan will ride in the buggies. Jake and Emily will each ride on their own horse. They look at the maps and realize that the route has them go through the Chirachua Mountains, past the deteriorated wild town of Galeyville, and then across barren desert lands of southwestern Mexico. Jake suggests that riding anywhere near Galeyville with a group of innocent teenage girls would not be a wise thing, but since that option can’t be avoided, suggests heading past that town in the wee hours of the morning. That way most if not all of the town residents will be sleeping. They will therefore set off in the middle of the night.

Ginnie and Morgan head over to find the newspaperman Chumbley to find out what he might know about this Dead Mule Gazette. They arrive at the offices of the Promise City Mirror, which has now become a very lucrative newspaper, now coming out every third day and being twelve or sixteen pages in length. Morgan has actually been working for Chumbley, writing miscellaneous stories that the primary reporter Angelica Young had no interest in. Morgan also writes most stories regarding mining given that is his father’s profession which he knows of.

They approach the over-energetic halfling publisher, a jovial man who usually doesn’t bother with putting pauses between his sentences or paragraphs while he speaks. Ginnie starts off by flattering Chumbley about him being a great source of information. She show’s him the copy of the Dead Mule Gazette, finding that he has a very negative opinion of it. She asks him if he is familiar with the listed publisher Frank Washbuck, adding “If I remember him correctly from the poker tournament he looked like a bare-knuckles fighter.”

Chumbley states with a voice of distaste, “Well, he’s not.” “You don’t like him?” Ginnie asks. He replies, “No, I don’t like him, not at all, he’s a Republican!” Ginnie comments “And that’s bad because…” Chumbley states, “Republican slant on his newspaper. That thing is a cheap rag, anything that the Republican Party wants he thinks is the greatest thing since sliced bread.” Ginnie says, “So this Sheriff that he apparently hates in the editorial would probably be a good buy then?”

Chumbley says, “Maybe, maybe not. This Ernest Johnson guy, that’s not so much a Republican vs. Democrat thing but a Union vs. Confederate thing. Washbuck was with the Union Army while Sheriff Johnson and most of the town of Dead Mule are ex-Confederates. And Washbuck hates them.” Morgan asks, “If that’s so then how can the paper be a viable enterprise?”

Chumbley says, “Because of the town of Deming, New Mexico, around fifteen miles from Dead Mule and the next stagecoach stop up. Deming, New Mexico is a much bigger community. The Union Pacific Railroad put a repair depot there, making it the end of the railroad line at present. When they expand the railroad lines west to Arizona and south to Mexico the town will become even bigger, as the Acheson, Topica and Santa Fe Railroad also plans to connect to it given the repair depot. With both railroads now going there the town’s population has grown to ten times what it had been just two years ago.

And Deming’s only newspaper has a Democrat slant to it!” “You know this paper?” Ginnie asks. Chumbley says, “Absolutely, a friend of mine and card-carrying Democrat publishes it. That would normally be enough to keep a town happy, having a great newspaper. But ten miles north of Deming is a major United States Army Fort, biggest one in southwestern New Mexico, and most of those army folks are Republicans. So Frank Washbuck is able to put out a paper in this Podunk little town with ten buildings because there are enough Republicans who want to buy it.”

Ginnie asks, “How would you like to try to scoop him?” Chumbley replies, “I scoop him all the time. His paper never breaks any stories. This town is where things are happening, not that little town in the middle of nowhere.” Ginnie says, “We think something big may be happening there. We’re thinking of going on a field trip to find out.” “Why?” Chumbley asks, looking excited at the prospect of something interesting and new.

Ginnie does some fancy footwork in the conversation next to continue to keep the halfling’s curiosity up while not providing actual information. The conversation turns back to the Dead Mule newspaperman. Chumbley adds that Washbuck keeps a bear as a pet, a great big one, which is the main reason that Washbuck is still alive even though all of his neighbors hate him. Morgan asks, “Is he nice to the bear?” Chumbley replies, “Of course he is, it’s his only friend in town.”

Ginnie asks more about the small New Mexico town. Chumbley says, “It’s my understanding that there’s nothing there. It wouldn’t even exist it if wasn’t a Wells Fargo Stagecoach stop. If you don’t believe me go ask the guys over at Wells Fargo.” “That’s it?” Ginnie asks. Chumbley states, “Yeah, and since Galeyville is now filled with bandits and thieves Wells Fargo doesn’t go there anymore, so Dead Mule is the only place with restaurants and hotel rooms between Promise City and Deming.”

Chumbley is convinced to pay Morgan for the trip, that he will be on assignment for the Promise City Mirror. The kids head out. He is excited about the reporting job until Ginnie explains, “You’re going to have to edit your stories, there will be things that we’ll be doing on this trip that you can’t write about.” Morgan is confused about that comment. Ginnie says, “We’ll explain it all later.”

The kids get back together. Emily comments about being happy to be away from school. Ginnie points out the number of educational opportunities that will be available on the trip, citing flora, fauna and astronomy as things they can learn along the way. Cathleen says, “Ginnie, you are insane! We’re going to have fun on this trip, not turn it into more schooling!”

Emily says, “At least it will get me out of the house. My Uncle and my cousin Ellen are fighting constantly these days.” “Because she’s expecting?” Ginnie asks. Emily nods yes and says, “And she won’t name the father. Uncle’s afraid the father will turn out to be someone just out to worm his way into the family money, says if it was anybody respectable he’d have done the honorable thing by this point.”

Ginnie pulls Emily aside and says, “Do you know who the father is?” Emily replies, “I think so, but I’m not saying.” Ginnie says, “Well, Mayor Shaw isn’t going to let his daughter and grandchild starve. He’ll support them whether the guy is around or not. Ginnie decides to head back to Gonzales’s laboratory to pack up a number of interesting experiments that she has been working on that might come in handy.

Silver Moon

Chapter Five, “Final Preparations“, Thursday, November 23, 1882:

Ginnie, Emily and Colleen head off to pay a visit to Mother Jiminez, the most powerful druid in the southeastern United States. Ginnie cautions the girls that Jiminez is not only the spouse of their teacher Jadito but also one who has a way with sensing people and animals so to always be one-hundred-percent truthful with her. “What do you mean?” Colleen asks. Ginnie says, “Let’s just say that she is connected to the area."

The old half-Apache-high-elf and half-Mexican-wood-elvan woman lets them into her home. Ginnie says, “You probably already know what I am going to tell you, you usually do.” Jiminez gives her a quizzical look. Ginnie says, “We have to go find Coronado’s sword.” “Oh,” Jiminez replies. Ginnie says, “There’s a map…” Jiminez interrupts her and says, “There are always treasure maps, and they all turn out to be fakes.” Ginnie replies, “True, but this one has the right names connected to it.”

Jiminez nods and states, “That just means somebody did their research. I wouldn’t put much stock in it.” Ginnie shows her the newspaper article and summaries what has been decided about this upcoming trip and who will be going. Jiminez lectures both Colleen and Emily, telling them that they are new with druid spells and that they should not be overconfident about their abilities. She compliments them for their wisdom and common sense, that they have a lot of promise, but to be very careful.

Colleen replies, “We’re not stupid, but I can’t say the same for my sister though.” Jiminez points out that Colleen can use a spell to talk to her sister’s horse and convince it get away really fast regardless of what Cathleen wishes it to do. She reminds them that even pulling buggies these horses can move much faster than anybody chasing them on foot, and if anyone is chasing them on horseback the druids can talk to the other riders’ horses too. Colleen seems reluctant to taking responsibility for her twin.

Jiminez points out that the leylines of Earth-magics of this region do extend that far to the east, so that the girls do not have to worry about their spells acting less powerful than normal. Ginnie asks if she knows what types of animals and creatures might reside in that region. Jiminez replies that the mountains of that region have mountain lions and cougars.

Meanwhile, Jake gets his horse and gear together. Jake is a little sketchy about the background of why they are going on this trip. He stops off at the mining supply warehouse to load up on some extra dynamite. He runs into the girls and reminds them “I don’t want any trouble on the way, and what I mean by trouble is having to go find anything that might have been forgotten. So if we need anything, let’s buy it now.”

“Like what?” Emily asks. Jake replies, “I don’t know, but we’re not nickel and diming our way to Dead Mule. If we may need it, get it now. And the quality and choices of supplies is probably much better here in Promise City.” Emily points out that Jake just gave Ginnie permission to take every book they own. Colleen exclaims, “No, we’re limiting the number of books. We’re only taking two buggies and few horses.” Jake double-checks to make sure that they have packed enough non-perishable food, just in case they get tied up.

Emily suggests that for safety purposes they find some clothing to make the girls appear from a distance to be boys, at least from a distance. Jake says that is a good idea, at least for the Galeyville section of the trip. The girls pass on to Jake some of the information that they have picked up about their destination.

Hearing that Dead Mule is full of ex-Confederate soldiers Jake heads over to the Lucky Lady Dance Hall and Saloon to talk to bouncer Jeff Mills, who also served in this region’s Confederate Army back in the war. Jeff indicates that he has been to Dead Mule, New Mexico and adds, “I hate that place.” Jake says, “I hear that it is full of your old brethren. Jeff says “It is. I recall being there back during the war.”

Jake asks, “Were you camped near by there?” Jeff explains that the town is in a pass between two steep mountain ranges, so it is the best way through the mountains, which is way the stagecoach goes that way. So back during the war that pass was considered a strategically valuable place to hold, so the Confederate Army put a cannon to guard the pass. Jake replies, “Okay.” Jeff exclaims, “No, it wasn’t okay. They made me haul the damned thing up there!”

Jake laughs and says, “I see, so when the war was over did you get to toss it down too?” Jeff says, “No, it’s still up there. Too damned heavy for anybody else to move.” “What way is it pointing?” Jake asks. Jeff says, “Back then it was pointing towards the pass. The town is apparently there now, so I imagine they might have turned it.” Jake asks which end of the pass it is on and Jeff says, “The northwest side. They expected the Union would come down from Albuquerque to the northeast.

Jake says, “I always like to know where all of the big guns are.” Jeff adds, “That cannon has a lot of sentimental value to the folks there, since it’s what kept the Confederates safe there.” “One cannon held off the whole Union Army?” Jeff says, “They like to think that. I think that the Union Army just never bothered with Dead Mule.”

Jake asks, “Know anybody there still?” Jeff replies, “Oh yeah, Ernest Johnson’s there. Hear he’s the Sheriff now. He was the Confederate Lieutenant in charge of the troops around that area back during the war. Biggest coward you’ve ever seen. Whenever there was trouble around he was elsewhere.” Jake says, “Good to know what the local law is like.” Jeff says, “He’s somewhat like his cousin, Promise City’s barber Biff Johnson. All of those Rock Ridge Johnsons are no good.”

Jake asks, “Anything else interesting in Dead Mule?” Jeff says, “Not when I was there, it was just the pass and the cannon.” Jeff indicates that after the war most of the local Confederates headed down to Mexico with his old Colonel, the others just stayed put in the Dead Mule area. Jake asks about Coronado legends and Jeff indicates that the only legends he knows pertain to the Promise City area. He says that he never heard of Coronado heading over to the Dead Mule area.

Lastly, Jeff tells Jake to be careful around that area of rattlesnakes. It seems like you can’t go ten feet without stepping on one of them. Jake says, “Sounds like I should bring some extra rounds.” Jeff also points out that the Apache sometimes head that far east too, but that most of them in that part of the country are on the reservations now. Jake thanks him for the information.

Jake fills in the girls on what he heard. Ginnie makes a trip back to Mother Jiminez to get information about possible encounters with the Apache. Everyone heads to bed early this night, planning to set off before dawn.

Silver Moon

Chapter Six, “Arrival at Dead Mule“, Friday, November 24, 1882:

The six travelers assemble before dawn, the two buggies each with their own horse and three other horses, two being ridden and the third as an extra. They head off and quietly travel the road through the mountains, being ever watchful for either Apache or bandits. They soon approach what had been the mining town of Galeyville, seeing smoke filtering out of some of the chimneys. They slow their pace so as not to make any more noise as necessary and cautiously head along the road by the town, ready to increase their pace if spotted.

They continue on for the morning, crossing the border between the Arizona Territory and New Mexico Territory. They stop by a stream for a two-hour long siesta to rest the mounts and riders. The roadway continues on, meandering around the various mountain ranges. After a total of thirty-three miles traveled they stop for the night at an area with lush grasslands for the horses to graze. Saturday the 25th continues on, with more uneventful traveling, a total of twenty-one miles covered on this day.

Sunday the 26th consists of more of the same, covering another eighteen miles. By nightfall they see the Black Mountains to the northeast, the pass where Dead Mule is situated being the pass through that mountain range. They estimate the town to be somewhere between five and ten miles ahead. They decide to make camp and move on to the town in the morning.

At the campfire that evening Jake says, “So, do we have a good story.” “You want to tell campfire stories?” Ginnie asks. Jake says, “No, I mean tomorrow when we got into town. Do we have a good story to tell the folks there?” Emily says, “Yeah, we’re not just going to ride into town and say, ‘Where’s Dutch Jack? He has our treasure map!”

Ginnie says, “We were obviously sent by our school to see what life is like in another town. We’ve been fairly isolated and need to investigate the outside world. That’s why we brought a newspaperman along.” Jake asks “And the reason we’re going into Reb territory?” “To get a historical perspective from their individual points of view,” Ginnie exclaims. “You expect them to buy that?” Emily asks.

Jake gestures to Emily and says, “And if they don’t like half-breeds?” Ginnie replies, “We say that she’s our cook.” Emily raises some objections to that idea but relents when it is pointed out that would be the path of least resistance. Emily says, “I don’t know if they’re going to buy the whole educational experience thing.” Ginnie points out “We have our school uniforms,” referencing the well-made baseball uniforms that all five students have and have brought along.

Jake says, “The important thing is that all of you have the same story, that way it is consistent if anybody asks you individually."” Jake suggests that they NOT wear the school uniforms into town as it would draw undue attention to themselves. He says they should keep them in reserve if and only if they are pressed for their background stories and it isn’t believed.

Monday, November 27th the group gets an early start and rides on towards the mountains. Five miles later they see the town ahead in the narrow pass. At approximately 10:00 A.M. they ride in from the west, seeing the aforementioned cannon up on the hill along the higher ridge around forty feet above the ten-building town. It is noted that the cannon has been turned away from the town, now pointing further up the hill in the direction of an outhouse (which results in several jokes from the players).

The first building in town on the southern side of the road, a normal-sized building with a farmers porch that has the sign ‘Judge Race’ with ‘Harold T. Race, Justice of the Peace’ written below it. Emily exclaims, “I don’t want to get married so I have no need to go there.” Across from it on the north side of the road is the sign reading ‘Wells Fargo Stage Depot’. It has a corral attached and an attached building opposite the corral.

The next building on the south side has the sign reading ‘Los Almos’ which appears to be some sort of saloon. The north side has a boardwalk running from the Sheriff’s Office down to the High Pass Hotel. Next to the south side is the Apache Trading Post, which has a horse corral behind it. The final building on that side of the street is the Dead Mule Gazette. Behind it is a livestock pen. The final building on the north side of the street is the Black Mountain Bank, with a Laundry behind it.

They head over to the hotel, fastening the horses to the railing outside of it. The High Pass Hotel is the largest building in Dead Mule, being the only one that is two stories high. The building is also constructed of well-made finished lumber, unlike most of the other buildings in town. As they enter they see that the ground floor is primarily a saloon and restaurant, the guest rooms apparently occupying the second floor.

A heavy-set man with a mustache, gray hair and a pot belly approaches and says “Can I help Ya?” Jake answers “Good evening, we could use some rooms.” “Evening, it’s the middle of the morning?” Jake says “That too.” He looks over the six of them and says, “I only got three rooms.” Jake asks, “Is there nothing else you can make available?” He replies, “Only four rooms in the place and one of them is occupied.” Jake says, “Alright then, we’ll take the three.”

The man says, “It’s $ 1.25 per room a day and that includes meals here. Breakfast is at 6:00 AM, lunch is at 12:30 and dinner is at 6:00. If you eat anytime other than that you have to pay extra for the meal. It also doesn’t include whiskey, that goes for twenty-cents a shot.” Jake is unimpressed and lets on how he feels.

The proprietor then says, “It can get pretty exciting in here at night. We usually have some gambling if you like that sort of thing.” Jake feigns innocence and says, “Really. I might be able to find some time for a game of chance.” Ginnie supresses a grin and says, “I don’t know Jake, you’re not very good at that. You tried it before and you haven’t done very well. Ma’am Kate said for you to not gamble everything away again.” Jake says, “Alright, I promise not to gamble it all away.”

The proprietor points to a sign on the wall and says, “Other services are available here too.” The sign reads “Shave & Haircut 25-cents; Laundry 50-cents; Bath $ 1” “You got it all,” Jake exclaims. Emily comments “We all could use a bath.”

Jake asks about the horses and is told “Grafton Stables. Best stable in town.” The girls exclaim in unison “Only stable in town.” The man says, “No, two stables in town, but you want Grafton Stables. You won’t find a better stable.” “What’s the other one?” Ginnie inquires. He says, “What do you care, I told you the name of the best one.” Ginnie says, “I want to make sure that I don’t accidentally go to the other one.”

He emphasizes “You won’t find anything better than Grafton Stable, best one in town, best prices. Go over there and ask for Ramon, he’ll help you out.” Colleen says, “Maybe we should check out the one behind the Apache Trading Post.” The man loudly exclaims, “Why would you want to go and do a damned fool thing like that little girl?’ Colleen says, “But you said that there were two…” “You want to go to Grafton Stable. Twenty-cents a day, a buck-twenty a week, you’re not going to get a better deal than that.” he exclaims. “Okay” she replies, “Let’s go take care of the horses.” Jake pays for one night.
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Silver Moon

Chapter Seven, “Businesses of Dead Mule”, Friday, November 24, 1882:

Once they get outside Emily suggests they visit the Apache Trading Post first. The weathered adobe building has a tile roof. They enter to see that it is primarily a General Store, the center of the room support being an old massive tree trunk. There are several shelves with prospecting equipment and telescopes. An unlit fireplace sits at both ends of the building. A few people are shopping.

A young man in his early twenties comes out and greets them with, “Welcome to town, I’m Jack Wesley, welcome to my store.” Jake says, “I was kinda expecting to see this place might be run by an Apache.” Wesley says “Nah, we just call it that. We wouldn’t let any of those Indians run the place, although they do sell me horses.”

Emily asks, “How come there is a tree in the middle of your store?” He replies, “Why put up a center beam when one is already standing in this spot.” Jake asks what it costs to board horses. He replies, “How long you staying?” “Not sure,” Jake replies. Wesley says, “How about fifteen-cents a day, that sound about right.” “Sounds better than twenty,” Emily comments. “That would be okay.” They notice the corral out back has two horses and four mules.

Emily asks about the buggies and is told “You would have to store them over in the Livery Stable, but I don’t own that, it’s Grafton’s.” Jake says, “I have to tell you Jack, I don’t think the owner over at the High Pass cares much for you.” “Why do you say that?” Wesley asks. Jake replies, “Because he’s recommending that the Grafton stables is the place for our horses to stay.” Jack Wesley laughs and says, “Well of course he is, he’s Jim Grafton! It’s his stable.” The girls laugh, with Emily commenting “Well that makes sense.”

Jake introduces himself as Silver Jake Cooke. Wesley’s eyes light up and he says “Oh! Silver Jake Cooke! Pleased to meet you,” as he thrusts out his hand. Wesley then exclaims “You won that there darned poker tournament.” Ginnies whispers to her companions “And he just raised all the prices in the damned store.”

Wesley continues to gush “Wow, congratulations. I read all about it in the paper.” “Which paper is that?” Jake asks. Wesley states “The one here in town, it covered that tournament.” “Did they?” Jake asks innocently. Wesley says, “Oh, big time, yeah, yeah!” Jake then asks, “Did they say anything good about me?” “They said you won,” Wesley loudly answers, “Boy, am I happy to see you”. “Okay, well you just take good care of our horses here, and we’ll greatly appreciate it.” Jake states.

Wesley rambles on about how he will be happy to take care of their horses, throwing in many uses of the word “Sir” in his response. The storekeeper then goes into a sales pitch, pointing out the various wares of his shop, drawing attention to the shelf of telescopes. Jake asks, “Why would you sell so many of those?” Wesley explains how they are good for prospecting, to see where they might want to dig, I have other prospecting good too. Didn’t I hear that you own a silver mine?’

“That would be true,” Jake replies. “So you’re interested in the mines around here?” Wesley inquires. “Not saying, but who knows,” Jake answers. Wesley shakes his head and mutters “Silver Jake Cooke! Golly! Wow!” Ginnie looks around the shop to compare what he has for dry goods to some of her hand-made items. Jake asks to buy some Colt rounds. He then tries to interest Jake in purchasing some dynamite.

Colleen looks at the eight telescopes and asks, “Where did you get all of these telescopes?” Wesley mistakes her comment to imply that he stole them and chides her to not make unfounded accusations. She apologizes. He hands Jake the box of Colt rounds and says “That will be two dollars”. Jake sees where the box is actually marked one dollar. Ginnie notices that too and whispers “I told you that would happen.”

Ginnie then points out the price on the box commenting that Wesley “Was mistaken”. Wesley tries to say that it isn’t the original box. Ginnie points out from the writing that it is. They get into a debate with her accusing him of price gouging. Wesley offers to cut Jake a discount and sell it to him for a dollar-fifty. Jake says, “How about this, I’ll buy the box for a dollar and tell all of my friends that you are a honest businessman.” Wesley agrees. They depart, Jake telling him “I may be back for one of those telescopes.”

Ginnie asks Wesley about any women’s groups, sewing circles, cooking clubs, things of that type. He says, “Only group of women I know who hang out together are over at the hotel, but that’s for other purposes.” Jake tells Ginnie, “I don’t think that’s what you had in mind.” As they leave the store Ginnie chides Jake “You do realize that you just blew any chance you had of gambling tonight.” “Not necessarily,” Emily comments, “He may have people interested in playing against him due to his notoriety.” Jake explains, “There were two tactics. Either pretend to be a nobody or be a celebrity. I thought this would be most expedient.”

They bring their horses around back, Emily noting that the other horses at the Trading Post appear to be wild mustangs. Out of curiosity Jake has Emily check the mustangs to confirm that there are no brands on them. Emily and Colleen work together to calm one of the horses down and evaluate them as somewhat trained and well taken care of. The mules in the corral appear to be older animals. They appear to be unbranded, leading Jake to conclude that the man is somewhat honest.

They pull off their saddlebags and head back over to the room. Jake and Morgan take one room. The twins split up with the druids Colleen and Emily taking a room, leaving Cathleen and Ginnie to the third. They head upstairs, finding each room furnished with a bed, dresser and wash stand. Ginnie goes through casting ‘clean’ cantrips on each of the beds.

Jake decides to head over to La Loma Alta, a log building partially built into the hillside, which is a saloon and pool hall. An older man gets up and heads over to Jake stating, “Howdy, welcome to La Loma Alta.” Jake orders a whiskey. A half-elf wearing clothes that appear to be Apache, comes in from the back room. “Hey Sam, what’s up?” the older man asks. The half-elf replies, “A bunch of people just rode into town, most of them appear to be kids.” The older man looks to Jake and asks, “You with ‘em?” Jake says, “Yes. I’m looking after them for their parents.” Sam says, “Heard that one of them was a half-breed like me.” “That’s true,” Jake replies.

“Anything we can help you with?” the half-elf asks. Jake says, “I don’t know? Do you have better and cheaper services than they offer over at the High Pass?” “They don’t like us people of Elvan blood over there,” Sam states. “Really?” Jake asks. Sam replies, “You’re not likely to find anywhere in town that likes Elves other than this place.” He then introduces himself as Samuel Running Black Bear. Jake introduces himself and it does not appear that his name is recognized.

“Happy to see anybody who is a friend of the Elvan people,” Samuel replies. Jake gestures to his heart and says, “It’s all about what’s in there my friend, how you treat others.” Samuel says, “Good to have you here. This place gets lively in the evening, quiet pretty much until then.” Jake asks about the hotel services such as laundry and baths. Samuel tells him to bring his laundry there directly instead of having the hotel do it and save paying a middle-man fee.

Jake asks about food and is told that La Loma Alta has an excellent cook, Miguel Jones, but that he doesn’t come in until evening. Sam then adds, “I’m the only doctor in town in case you need it.” “Here’s hoping I don’t, but good to know that,” Jake replies. Jake has a whiskey and chats with Samuel, mostly small talk, then heads out.

Jake heads back to the hotel and meets up with the kids, telling about his visit to La Loma Alta. Emily is pleased to hear of another half-elf while Ginnie is interested in his being a doctor. Ginnie suggests that if the town doesn’t like those of Elvan blood they should rearrange Emily’s hairstyle to cover her pointed ears. It is now 11:00 AM and another hour-and-a-half until they serve lunch. They decide to head out, Ginnie heading upstairs to set traps in the rooms to keep out unwelcome visitors.

She soon returns. Jake wonders if they should go introduce themselves to the Sheriff. “As if he doesn’t already know we’re here. It’s only a ten-building town,” Geinnie replies. Emily suggests that they go visit the newspaper office. Ginnie suggests that they could be doing historical research about the cannon. Jake decides to stay at the High Pass so that the conversation will be about something other than the June poker tournament. The teenagers head off.
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