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

Silver Moon

Adventurer
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

Adventurer
“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

Adventurer
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

Adventurer
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

Adventurer
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

Adventurer
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

Adventurer
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

Adventurer
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

Adventurer
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

Adventurer
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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Silver Moon

Adventurer
Chapter Eight, “The Consequences of Name Dropping”, Friday, November 24, 1882:

The teenagers arrive outside the adobe and wood office of the Dead Mule Weekly Gazette. Outside of the front door secured to a six-foot-long iron chain is a bear. It appears to be sleeping and block the doorway. Emily and Colleen move forward towards the animal. Ginnie suggests that they talk to it.

Emily casts a Speak with Animals spell “Hello, Good morning” she states. She then asks “Can we go by?” The bear replies, “Uhh, I know you? You don’t smell like I know you?” Emily replies “No, we want to talk to the man inside.” “You hurt master?” the bear asks. “No, no, just talk,” Emily states. “You have food?” the bears asks. Emily exclaims “Yes.” “You have food for me?” the bear asks, adding “I want food.” Emily passes this information on to her friends.

They sort through their pocks and hand over several sticks of beef jerky. The bear asks if they have any more. Emily explains that they do not. The bear seems content with what he has been given and starts to eat it. The teenagers quickly head inside. Ginnie recognizes the publisher Frank Washbuck. He is seated at a desk writing something out. Frank looks up with a surprised expression on his face. “What’s happened to bear!” he exclaims.

“The bear is fine,” Emily states. “Why did he let you in?” Washbuck states. Colleen calmly states “We fed it.” “DO NOT FEED THE BEAR!” he shouts. Emily asks, “Why not? He was grateful.” “Of course he was little girl, but you should not be feeding the bear. How do I know that you didn’t poison him?” the man states. “Why would we do that?” Cathleen states. He replies, “A lot of people want to kill that bear.” “We don’t” states Colleen.

Washbuck says, “How do I know that? Who they heck are you people? What are you kids doing here?” Ginnie says, “Well, we were coming to interview you for a special publication, but I guess from your manner you aren’t interested. We can always leave.” “No, wait, pull up a chair, let’s talk,” he states.

Across the street Jake is just sitting casually, making sure that the bear didn’t eat the kids. He sees a couple heading down the street, a young man of around twenty and a young woman a few years younger. She is carrying a baby in her arms. He is carrying a shotgun, pointed casually towards the ground. When they are ten feet away the man points to Jake and yells out “Is that him?” She says, “Yeah, he’s the man.”

Jake replies, “Excuse me Ma’am? I don’t believe we’ve met.” The young man begins to lift his shotgun, however before he has it pointed he is looking down the receiving end of Jake’s Colt. Jake states, “You put that gun down boy!” The says “Look, I didn’t mean to hurt you mister, but…” Jake interrupts with a louder “Put The Shotgun Down Boy, Before You Say Another Word! And then we can have a nice chat.” The young man lowers the shotgun.

Jake lowers the hammer on his gun and slowly replaces it in his holster. “Now, what was it you wanted to talk about boy?” he asks. The young man exclaims, “I want to talk about my sister’s honor. Listen you skunk, you knocked her up, she had your kid, you’re gonna pay.” Jake calmly replies, “The young woman is not telling the truth sir.” “You calling my sister a liar?” the man asks.

Jake looks to the woman and says, “Ma’am, it would be awful if I called you a liar, get your brother angry, and the end result be him dying from a gunshot wound. Are you sure you didn’t make a mistake?” The woman exclaims, “Yeah, I made a mistake getting involved with you Mister Cook.” Jake softly mutters “I’m not liking where this is going.” The kids across the street hear the yelling and look out the window. “What now?” Ginnie exclaims.

Jake states “So, young lady, what’s your name?” She breaks into tears and exclaims “You don’t remember my name?” “Afraid not,” Jake answers. The young man exclaims, “This is my sister Margaret and you damned well better remember her!” Ginnie heads out across the street to join them. Jake takes a good look at the baby, deducing it to be four or five months in age.

He states, “I’ve got to say Ma’am, I don’t think we’ve ever met, and if we did it wasn’t very memorable.” “You insulting my sister?” the young man states, adding “I think we’d better go see the Sheriff, let him settle it, or maybe the Justice of the Peace.” Jake says, “Well then, let’s go see the Sheriff.” They head that way, Ginnie tagging along.

The arrive at the Sheriff’s office. The glass in the windows is grimy and stained. Several old wanted posters are on the walls. They see mine assaying equipment in there, assuming that if the man’s primary job. A tall man who does bear some resemblance to Promise City’s Biff Johnson stands up. “Can I help you?” he asks. The young man points to Jake and blurts out “Yeah, this skunk got my sister pregnant and won’t own up to it!”

Jake states, “Well Sheriff, there seems to be a scam being had here I think, and it seems like somebody is trying to get some money from me. I never met this woman before.” The Sheriff looks to Jake and asks “Who are you?” “My name is Jake Cook, sir,” he replies. Sheriff Johnson replies, “Well Jake Cook Sir, are you a Yankee?” Jake states “A Yankee? I live in the Arizona Territory Sir.”

Johnson states, “You don’t sound like Arizona Territory folk. Where you from originally?” Jake replies “Philadelphia.” Johnson blurts out “Yankee!” “Does that matter in the eyes of the law here?” Jake asks. Johnson points to the young couple and says, “These guys sound like they are from Texas. I think I’d believe a Texan before I believe a Yankee.”

Jake interjects “I think your cousin Biff would believe me.” “You know Biff?” Johnson asks. “Oh yeah,” Jake states. “How do you know Biff?” Johnson asks. Jake says, “He shaves me.” Johnson says, “Uh huh, so you thinking dragging in the name of my stinking cousin is going to help you out Yankee? Why don’t you spend a day or two in the lockup out back, then we can talk about this.” “And what would be the charge sir?” Jake inquires.

Johnson pauses and states, “Well, obviously you….you’ll have to go before the Judge to discuss her claim.” Ginnie states, “Can I ask you a question?” The Sheriff looks down and asks, “Who are you? Are you his daughter?” Ginnie laughs and states “That would be an impossibility.” He points to the baby and says “And this is his other daughter?” Ginnie says, “That would also be an impossibility.” The Sheriff looks back to Jake and gesturing to the baby states “Can you prove that this isn’t your daughter?” “And what would you accept as proof?” Jake asks. “Well, certainly not the word of a Yankee,” he states.

Ginnie gestures to the young woman and asks, “Sheriff, has this girl been out of this town or the New Mexico Territory in the last fifteen months?” Sheriff Johnson says, “I never met I. I never saw any of you until ten minutes ago.” The young man says, “We just got into town. We’ve been looking for this skunk for quite some time.” Ginnie glances at the baby’s eyes, concluding that they are too close to Jake’s in color to use that as the argument against. She asks, “Then where exactly did this….connection…happen?”

The young man pauses then states “Nebraska. We had a farm in Nebraska last year. A family farm.” “What town in Nebraska sir?” Jake asks. “Omaha,” is his reply. And when was I in Omaha?” Jake asks. “A year ago fall, Look, all we want is for him to do the right thing. Either he needs to marry Margaret, or at least see that the baby is financially supported,” the boy replies. The Sheriff suggests that they could go across the street to the Justice of the Peace.

Jake looks back at the young couple and asks, “So, when did you get into town you two?” The young man says, “A few hours ago.” “Really, and how did you know I was coming to town?” Jake asks. The man says, “We’ve been looking for you for a while. We asked around.” “Asked around where?” Jake inquires. “The Trading Post. They said you’d stopped by,” he states. Jake says, “Right, but how did you know to come to this exact town to begin with?”

The young man states, “We’ve been looking all over for you.” Jake states, “Yes, but how did you know to come here now?” The young man states, “We’ve been following your tracks.” “Really, and where have I been?” Jake then asks. The young man says, “You’re a famous gambler, you gamble from town to town, we just had to ask around.” Ginnie interjects “Well then, where was the last place you followed his tracks from?” The boy states “Albuquerque.” “And how long ago was that?” she asks. “Maybe a month ago,” she replies.

Ginnie pulls out her notebook, which has a page for each Lucky Lady employee, and shows the Sheriff that Jake has not been in Albuquerque in seven months. This new evidence creates enough uncertainty that the Sheriff says, “I think the Judge should probably decide this.” Jake says, “Look, this is embarrassing. I am an honest man, here to look after some children, and considering some business opportunities and..” The Sheriff interjects “You take care of other people’s children but won’t take care of your own?” “That’s not my child Sir,” is Jake’s reply.

Ginnie asks the young man a few more questions, which he is evasive in his answer to. She then asks him pointed as to when he heard that Jake would be in the town of Dead Mule. The young man says, “Two weeks ago.” Ginnie says, “Interesting, given that this trip here wasn’t planned until four days ago and I can produce multiple witnesses to that fact. There was no trail to find, you’re lying.” The Sheriff decides to eject all of them from his office, telling them “Come back when you folks have settled this.”

Once outside the young man again appeals to Jake for money. The woman grabs his arm and says, “Jerry, let’s just go.” Jake says, “Jerry, that’s your name? Listen, I’ve pulled hundreds more scams than this. You’re not very good at it and you’re not getting any money from me. You should have done your homework Jerry, you could have found out where I’d been and when I’d been there. I’ve got witnesses. I’ve got the money to prove the facts as they really are.” The young man hesitates and then says, “Let me talk to my sister, we’ll check in with you later.”

While the men have been talking Ginnie takes the woman aside and sternly states, “You need to stop this. You know he’s not the father. For all I know that man claiming to be your brother is really the father. I can prove Jake isn’t the father. I would strongly suggest you get out of town before Jake becomes really annoyed with you.” The young lady grabs the man’s arm and leads him away.
 
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Silver Moon

Adventurer
Chapter Nine, “Frank Washbuck”, Monday, November 27, 1882:

When Jake, Ginnie and young couple began to head down the street to the Sheriff’s office Morgan, Colleen and Cathleen decide to head outside after Ginnie. After all the trouble getting into the newspaper office Emily didn't want to leave it, but she didn't want to be alone with the newspaper man either. This town didn't feel friendly like Promise City and all her instincts told her not to be alone anywhere. “Our chaperone is going somewhere," she said to Mr. Washbuck. "We better find out what's going on, but we'll come back, okay? We'll just call out from outside that we're here. You're real nice to talk to us."

Emily followed along quietly as the scene at the sheriff's office unfolded. Once Ginnie had convinced the couple with the baby into leaving Emily looked at the others and said, "We should get back to the newspaper man before he gets mad and won't talk to us." Ginnie replies, “Sounds good to me.” Ginnie then leans over to Emily's ear and whispers, “Should we keep Jake with us? He's already gotten himself into a lot of trouble and I don't see it getting any better in this town.”

Emily nodded in agreement and whispered back. "Maybe. I know Uncle trusts him, but I don't know why Mrs. Kale thought he'd be a good grown-up to run around with us. He's more trouble than any one of us. But I guess someone who knows how to get in trouble knows how to get out of it.” The twins caught the exchange and Cathleen states, "Yeah, but that’s Jake for ya."

Colleen chimes in with, "What are we supposed to do now?" Emily got the others walking as she answered Colleen. "We go talk to the newspaper man. Ginnie's the one who really knows what we're here for. I kinda came without asking lots of questions. We want a map, right? From a man called Dutch Jack." Jake decides to head back to the porch of the hotel, with Morgan following him.

The quartet of teenage girls, Ginnie, Emily, Cathleen and Colleen, made their way back across the street to the newspaper office. Publisher Frank Washbuck's chained-up pet bear enthusiastically welcomes the return of the two young druids Emily and Colleen. Emily reached into her pocket and took out another bit of jerky. She gave it to the large bear. "I don't know why folks don't like you, you're plenty nice to me," she said, knowing it wouldn't understand her. "Course, I guess not everyone knows how to get along with bears."

"Emily, why are you bothering to talk to that bear? It doesn't understand you, unless you suddenly know how to talk to animals?" Cathleen said sarcastically. "Cathleen leave her alone, or do you want her to find a way to launch that bear at you?" Colleen said rather angrily. She hates it when people pick on Emily, partly because she's her best friend. "I'm sorry." Cathleen states as she stops talking and pouts at the ground. Emily states, "He doesn't understand the words, but he understands my tone. And I did talk to him earlier. What did you think all the finger wiggling was about? C'mon, we gotta talk to the newspaperman."

With one last nod at the bear Emily walked back into the office. "Sorry Mr. Washbuck. We ain't supposed to go around alone and our grown-up don't seem to know how to stay in one place." Washbuck walks away from the window where he had apparently been watching the scene out in the street. He says, "So, you're with that man, Silver Jake Cook?" Colleen and Cathleen simultaneously say "unfortunately" Emily states "Teacher trusts him for some reason."

Washbuck says, "He beat a good friend of mine in that poker tournament of his. Seems mighty suspicious to me, his own saloon sponsoring that tournament and then him being the big winner. Seems to me his playing was a clear conflict of interest, and that's what I wrote in my editorials!" He then takes another glance at the girls and pointing to Colleen, Cathleen and Ginnie says, "Hey, you kids look familiar. Weren't you waiting on tables at that tournament?" Ginnie says, “Yes I was waiting tables and I know for a fact that Mr. Jake feels very strongly about playing a clean game and took extensive steps to be sure that all the play was fair. He gives Ginnie a stern look and says, "Yeah, of course you'd say that, working for him and all."

Emily interjects, "Well, Mr. Cook ain't got nothin' to do with why we're here, just to make sure we don't get in too much trouble. They're good at that. So how did you make friends with your bear? He's an awful nice bear." Washbuck replies, "Bear and I have been together for ten years now, I rescued him from a hunter's trap and we've been friends ever since. He's the only reason that these no-good Rebs running this town haven't driven me out yet."

Emily perked up, suddenly more interested in this man. "The poor bear. I'm glad you found him. You don't agree with most of the people in this town? I'm from Chicago really, so I guess they'd call me a Yankee." Smiling at the ‘Yankee’ comment Washbuck replies, "Darn tooting I don't agree with them, I fought for the United States not against it. An Abe Lincoln Republican, that's me, not like these lowlives around me. As long as I live this newspaper will speak in favor of President Chester Arthur and his party!"

Ginnie states, “Your personal views show that even though you live in the south. People should not prejudge your morality or have expectations of what you believe or who you are. Although you may believe that I worked at the card game as a way to allow Jake to cheat you are entirely wrong. There was no personal long-term profit in the possibility. If he cheated then we would lose the entire future clientele for a single one shot game. We have spent significant time end energy ensuring that the gambling is honest. After all no matter what the game is the house always has an advantage that plays out in the long term.

Also you must remember that along with gambling the establishment serves food and drink. People who do not believe that their entertainment, which is what gambling is, is fair will not return for supper and a show. Although growing Promise City has a limited number of individuals it is not monetarily profitable to alienate individuals who will return time after time spending more over the long term as they would have lost if there had been cheating at the table for that one night.

Washbuck replies, "Yeah, I guess that would be true most of the time, but that Cook guy had put the deed to his saloon on the line so what did he care if he lost honestly? He had to win and did so by any means possible, I'm just sorry that my friend was one of his victims." "Well, I don't know nothin' about that tournament, I was only in Promise City for a week before that happened," Emily said. "I'd like to know how come you live here if you don't really agree with your neighbors much. I heard they're real proud of that cannon they got."

He replies, "Listen little girl, I've got as much right to be here as any of those guys, more right actually, I've always been a loyal American and not a traitor like them. And you're hardly one to talk, if most of those guys get a look at those points on your ears you'll be less popular in this town than me.” “They don't have to like me, we won't be here long," Emily said, trying to sound like she didn't care. She adds, "And I didn't say you got no right to be here, I asked why you live here if you don't like your neighbors much. I didn't like Chicago so I moved away."

Washbuck replies, "What do you want me to do? Run away because of the threats from a bunch of traitorous cowards? Listen girlie, the folks here and a lot of the folks in Deming hate the President, this country needs me here to stand up for true Americans!" Emily states, “You're brave to stay here if you've been threatened. I'm glad there's someone like you and Bear here to stand up to them. I know if we ask most of the town folk they'll just tell us how great and glorious their side is, so I'm extra-glad you're here to make sure we get the truth. Could you tell me about the cannon we saw on the way into town? I bet they're proud of that." He replies, “They are, the whole damned bunch of traitors see it as a symbol.”

Emily decides she’s had enough debate for the day and leaves the Newspaper Office, heading back over to the Inn to check on Morgan and their almost arrested chaperone Silver Jake Cook. Frustrated by his encounter with the con artists and Dead Mule Sheriff, Cook decides to ride out of town a short ways to blow off steam with some target practice. Emily and Morgan decide to go with him.
 

Silver Moon

Adventurer
Game Two

Chapter Ten, “New Kids on the Block”, Monday, November 27, 1882:

The trio of human teenage girls, Ginnie, Colleen and Cathleen, exit the Dead Mule Weekly Gazette They notice a trio of non-humans the equivilant in age to teenagers wandering into the town of Dead Mule on foot. They consist of a male elf, a female elf, and a male dwarf. Cathleen walks directly up to the three newcomers and enthusiastically exclaims “Hi everybody!”

The two elves exchange glances as Cathleen’s twin sister Colleen hurries up behind her. She is followed by a third girl, Ginnie, who the elves note appears to be younger with an Irish look to her. This littiler girl then interjects to the spokeswoman “Stop accosting the new people.” “I was just being friendly,” Cathleen states. “Friendly is fine, accosting people is not,” Ginnie replies. Cathleen states, “But they’re new people our age, everybody else in this town is old and boring. We’ve suffered here a week already!” Ginnie corrects her, pointing out that they have only been in the town for three hours. “Well it feels like a week,” Cathleen exclaims.

Of the three the female elf introduces herself as Alexiel, her elvan colleague as Ander, and the dwarf as being named El-Rohir. Ginnie asks what they are doing in the town of Dead Mule. Ander explains that they have been traveling together for a while and have come to Dead Mule to catch a stagecoach. Ginnie gestures to the two elves and then the dwarf saying “I can see these two travelling together but how did they get you?” The dwarf shrugs his shoulders and says, “I just kind of followed them, they had more money than I did.”

Ginnie then tells them “Here’s the quick down and dirty, ‘cause it looks like you need it. The guy at the paper doesn’t like people who are different and has a tendency to get mean. The bear doesn’t bite as long as you can talk to it. Most of the people in the town are very, very southern and don’t like outsiders.” The three new kids just exchange confused looks. El-Rohir just shrugs his shoulders and says, “We’re just here to catch a stagecoach.” Colleen exclaims, “And we’re just here because Ginnie told us to.”

The three human girls know the location of the stagecoach depot and offer to show the others to it. Ginnie says, “Our chaperone, Jake, has already gotten in trouble once today so he should be okay for a couple of hours.” “Emily will keep him out of trouble,” Cathleen states. They head down the street to the rough log cabin that serves as the stationmaster’s house. The man is inside and greets them as they enter.

They see the stagecoach schedule posted behind the door, indicating the cost of tickets. It shows that Eastbound from Dead Mule there are three destinations, Deming New Mexico for $ 2.00; Los Cruces New Mexico for $ 8.00; and El Paso Texas for $ 10.00. Westbound shows Promise City Arizona for $ 3.00 and Tombstone Arizona for $ 4.00. The two elves and dwarves ponder which direction they wish to go.

The stationmaster says that the Eastbound stage when through a few hours ago and the next one won’t be for another week. The next westbound stage won’t be for another four days. Ander decides that a four day wait sounds better than seven so they’ll be back in four days for the western stage going to either Tombstone or Promise City. The other teens tell this trio that they live in Promise City and briefly describe the town. The three non-humans decide to hang out around Dead Mule in the interim.

Ginnie suggests that they go see Judge Race, as he is the legal authority in town. Ander asks “Why do you need to do that?”. Ginnie gives a short recap. Cathleen joins into the explanation and once she mentions a treasure map they all become rather interested. Alexiel asks, “What kind of treasure?” “Why should I trust you?” Ginnie asks. Alexiel points to the twins and says, “You trust them.” “I didn’t have much of a choice with them,” Ginnie answers.

El-Rohir says, “Listen little girl, we’re older and wiser than you. If we want to go along with your friends I don’t see that you have a choice in the matter.” Ginnie moves so swiftly that he barely sees her and when she stops she is holding a dagger that is starting to jab into his torso. She says, “I’m going to give you the first hint about traveling. Never underestimate the ones who are most easily underestimated.”

Ander says, “Maybe we got off on the long foot. Why don’t you put that dagger away and we’ll start again.” Colleen suggests, “I have and idea Ginnie, let’s let them join us and we can better explain things along the way.” Alexiel says, “I think the little one is the leader.” Ginnie suggests they get away from the buildings to discuss plans. They head up to the cannon with Ginnie stating, “Colleen, do not under any circumstances let Cathleen touch the cannon.” “Not fair!” Cathleen exclaims.

The see a weathered sign stating that the cannon was placed there to protect the town during the Civil War. El-Rohir asks about the cannon and the girls tell him the history of it. Cathleen asks, “Ginnie, is there any particular reason that it’s now pointed at an outhouse?” Ginnie says, “Looks like they turned it so that it wouldn’t point toward the town itself.”

Ginnie gestures to El-Rohir and says, “I understand the abilities of the dwarf, he is able to mine. We’re possibly looking for a mine, he might be helpful to have along. Now what do the other two of you bring that would be helpful to us bringing you with us?” Alexiel shrugs her shoulders and says, “I don’t know, you really haven’t told us enough about what you’re doing yet.” Ginnie sarcastically says, “Oh good, responses like that are sure to get you more information.” Colleen says, “Well, she’s managed to get Cathleen to shut up, at least temporarily. That should count for something.” “Hey!” Cathleen exclaims.

Ander gestures to Alexiel and says, “She’s a ranger. She has wilderness lore, she can move silently, she can track.” Ginnie looks to her and says, “So, if we were to go into a cave you would be able to get us out of the cave?” “Yes,” the soft-spoken elf replies. Cathleen interjects “That could be useful.” Ginnie turns to Ander and then asks him in the Elvan language “And you?”

He explains that “I am a nature priest, a druid. I have animal empathy, stealth, I can find food easily.” Colleen interjects, “I like him. He’s a keeper.” Ginnie tests him using some of her own knowledge of desert plants and animals. He successfully answers all of her questions. Ginnie turns to Cathleen and says, “Okay, we’ll keep him.” Colleen mutters “Well, just about anyone else is better than Jake.”

Ginnie briefly explains the mission to the three and how they are looking for somebody named Dutch Jack who is rumored to have this treasure map that will lead to the lost sword. She suggests that they go and visit the Judge to find out where this prospector’s land is. She explains that the cover story is that they are students doing a research project on miners and this Dutch Jack guy is on the list of miners that their teach told them to search for. Alexel is confused and asks, “Buy why would a teacher send a bunch of teenagers off alone to talk to prospectors?”

Cathleen interjects, “Because we have a very bizarre school.” Colleen interjects, “We’re not alone, they sent a chaperone along.” Ginnie says, “Yeah, a famous gambler who causes more trouble than us kids. He’s the token adult, he’s really not very responsible. We took him by default because Ginnie’s guardian insisted we had to. At least he’s smart enough to know when to shut up, unlike my little sister over there.” Cathleen interjects, “Hey! You’re only ten minutes older than I am!”
 

Silver Moon

Adventurer
Chapter Eleven, “Does anybody know Dutch Jack?”, Monday, November 27, 1882:

They head down to Judge Race’s house. The sign over the door of the wooden building reads “Harold P. Race, Justice of the Peace, Town of Dead Mule”. They knock and he yells out “Come in”. They see a thin balding guy with his feet propped up on the desk and a bottle of whiskey in his hand. He looks over and says in slurred speech “How can I help ya?” Ginnie replies, “My teacher sent me to find some prospectors and we felt that you being such a wonderful judge could point us in the right direction.”

He gestures to the side and says, “They’re all out in the hills.” Ginnie asks “you wouldn’t happen to know exactly where I might find one named Dutch Jack.” Judge Race says, “Check the saloon, he might be in town getting a drink. I would if I were a prospector.” Ginnie says, “We already checked there. Would you happen to know where in the hills he might be. Since you’re a judge you need to keep track of things that are very very important, such as where a mine might be.”

The Judge replies, “I am very important but I don’t keep track of stuff like that. If the mine were successful I would probably know but that guy never seems to find much of anything.” Ginnie exclaims, “Really? Well, would you know what direction he comes into town from?” Judge Race replies, “The hills.” “Which hills?” she asks. “The ones outside of town,” is his reply. “In which direction?” she asks. “I don’t know,” he answers.

Ginnie then states, “Since I’m here I might as well interview you for our school paper.” “Very good, okay,” he states. His facial expression then changes and he states, “You’re not affiliated with that Dead Mule Gazette are you?” “Oh no,” she states. “Good, he’s awful, that paper should be out of business.” Cathleen interjects, “We went by there, his bear didn’t like me.” “That bear doesn’t like anybody, stay away from that bear, it might hurt you,” Race yells over to her. “Why?” Colleen asks. Race replies, “Statistics have shown that one out of every five school children get eaten by bears.”

Ginnie asks him “What would you say is the most important thing that’s every happened in the history of Dead Mule?” He replies, “That would be when we drove the Yankees out during the Civil War.” She then asks, “And were you involved in that particular battle?” He says, “I wasn’t but the Sheriff was, you can probably interview him about it. We had overwhelming firepower, you’ve seen the cannon up on the hill haven’t you?” “Oh yes,” they exclaim in unison.

Ginnie says, “We saw the cannon and read the wooden plaque, which really could use a repainting job because it’s pretty faded from weathering, however, it was very interesting and informative. Cathleen asks, “Mr. Judge, is there any particular reason that the cannon is pointing at an outhouse?” He replies, “Yeah, cause the people in the buildings didn’t want it pointed towards their buildings. Plus that way people don’t stay in the outhouse too long.”

El-Rohir asks, “Is the cannon loaded?” Judge Race replies, “No, but there are some cannonballs there if you have your own powder. I wouldn’t recommend it though, if you damage that outhouse we’ll make you build us a new one. I’ll throw you in jail for damaging town property. I’m a judge, I can do that.” On that line of thought Ginnie asks, “Has Dutch Jack ever been thrown in jail?” Race replies, “Oh yes, he gets in bar fights every now and then.” Ginnie asks, “Then who pays his bail?” Race replies, “Nobody, the Sheriff just gets tired of him and lets him out after he sobers up.”

Ginnie asks, “How often do the miners usually come into town?” The Judge says, “Sure, whenever they get hungry or run out of provisions.” Colleen asks, “How often is that?” “Depends on the miner,” the Judge replies. Ander inquires as to when Dutch Jack was last in town. Judge Race replies, “How should I know? Ask the bartender.“ Ginnie says, “Would the Apache Trading Post know?” Race says, “Maybe, that’s where the miners get their supplies from.”

Ginnie asks, “What is the most important thing that you do personally for the town?” He says, “I keep the peace, I’m the law in this town. People know that I have full knowledge of the county, territory, and county and that I will stringently enforce them.” Ginnie start to say “Well, what laws…” Cathleen interrupts “NO Ginnie, enough, we don’t have all day to hear him recite every law that there is.”

Ginnie cuts to the chase and asks, “What is your personal perspective on Rule #111?” He pauses and then confidently says, “I am for it.” Ginnie says, “Really? You’re for throwing people in jail for either sneezing or spitting on the sidewalk?” “Damned Straight!” he replies. “Why?” she asks. He answers, “Because it’s unsanitary, unhealthy and rude. They should spit in spittoons, that’s what they are for.”

She smiles and asks, “What if a spittoon is not readily accessible?” He replies, “They should carry one with them.” “Is that a law you plan to put forth?” she asks. He states, “I will enforce all of the laws of the country, territory and county. Okay kids, why don’t you go running along.” They depart. Ginnie tells the others, “He was lying, there is no Rule #111, he just didn’t want to admit what he was talking about. What is more important is that we now have the law looking at us in a positive light, which will be helpful the next time Jake gets himself in trouble.”

Since they found out that Dutch Jack likes to frequent the bar they decide to head back to the La Loma Alta saloon. They arrive at the saloon and pool hall, seeing the human bartender and a pair of half-elvan workers, one clearly of wood elvan descent. Ginnie goes over the worker who is sweeping the floor and asks engages him in small talk. She finds out that he is Miguel Jones and that he knows Dutch Jack.

Jones indicates that it has been five or six days since Jack was last around. Cross-referencing that to the newspaper story, that would have been a day or two before Mendoza arrived looking for him. Ginnie is elated to hear that, as it means that they are probably still in time. She asks if he knows where Dutch Jack’s mine. Jones doesn’t know the exact location but has a general idea that it is a good distance off to the west.

Ginnie tells him that she is on a school research project and needs to interview Dutch Jack. She asks Jones if he can get her directions or draw her a map. He instead offers to guide her for a fee of $ 2.00 a day. She says that is within her school’s budget so will be able to pay him for his services. She tells him they will head off early the next morning.

The other half-elf, of high-elf descent, takes an interest in the two teenage elves and approaches them. He introduces himself to them as Sam Running-Black-Bear of Apache descent. He inquires as to what tribes they are from. Ander explains that he and Alexiel descend from the Zuni tribe (a long established pueblo-based group, whose native lands are north of Apache lands, that over time have adopted many human customs). Sam warns them that some of the places in town don’t care for elves, but they are certainly welcome at the La Loma Alta.

Sam also mentions that he is the town’s doctor. Ginnie starts to question his philosophy of wound irrigation and treatment, much to Colleen annoyance. His response passes Ginnie’s test. She then discusses some of the things that her town’s shaman Mother Jiminez has done and he comments from his knowledge.

Alexiel goes to the bar and orders a whiskey. When she orders a second one Ander suggests that they may want to buy her stagecoach ticket in advance before she spends all her money in town. The bartender introduces himself to her as Black Bill Hallert, a scout and traveler, who came to this town almost a quarter-century earlier.

Bill considers most of the people in town to be prejudiced idiots, mostly buddies of the incompetent Sheriff and Judge. He warns her to stay clear of the Sheriff, saying that the Sheriff had been in the U.S. Army prior to the Civil War and fought against Indians. A trio of grizzled men head into the bar, one of which is huge in stature. None of them look like they’ve bathed in weeks if not months.

Bill rolls his eyes and says, “Ah, them.” “Who?” Alexiel asks. He replies, “A couple of local trouble makers, Gopher-head Ivor and his entourage. He’s a nasty drunk.” “I can be too,” she replies. El-Rohir perks up, anticipating the possibility of a bar brawl. Ginnie asks the bartender “Ivor you say?” Bill replies, “Yeah, he’s Russian.”

Ginnie heads over to the table and says hello to him in the Russian language. He is surprised and engages in a conversation with her in that language. After a few minutes she inquires about Dutch Jack. He knows nothing about Jack’s mine, but confirms to her that Jack is a good ally to have in a bar brawl, that he knows how to fight well. Ginnie excuses herself when Alexiel orders a third drink, heading over to the bar to cancel that order.

They head back to the High Pass Hotel. Jake, Emily and Morgan have not returned yet. They see seated at the table an older man in his sixties with dark clothing seated beside a pretty young woman in a fancy dress. Ginnie introduces herself. They young woman says that she is Samantha Turpin, and then introduces her father Jeffrey Turpin. He indicates that this town is as far as the stage could take them given their limited finances. He says that the wishes they could have made it as far as Promise City.

Ginnie then asks the obvious question of “Why?” to which Turpin replies, “I have something of value to sell, I figure being a city and all I would be able to find a buyer there.” She then asks what it is he has to sell. He hesitates, and suggests that if she knows anybody with money to send them over to talk to her. She sits down and offers to pay for supper for all of them, asking again what he has to sell. He then reaches into his coat pocket and takes out a map. The map has the names “Medoza” and “Lost Conquistador Mine” listed on it.
 

Silver Moon

Adventurer
Chapter Twelve, “There’s Gold in Them There Hills!”, Monday, November 27, 1882:

Ginnie looks at the map, her suspicious mind immediately thinking that it is probably a forgery. She quickly studies it carefully, starting to commit the details to memory. She can’t discern if it is real or not but interjects “Oh, I’ve heard about that map. It’s a fake.” Turpin says, “That’s always a possibility but I doubt it. If you know anybody who might be interested in making a purchase I would appreciate it if you could direct them my way. I’m getting a little too old myself to go looking for something like this in the middle of the desert.” He folds up the map.

Ginnie inquires “Have you ever gone treasure hunting?” He replies, “No, I used to run a store until my wife passed on. Her brother co-owned it and kicked us out once she was gone, he never liked either of us. But I have this map, I’ve had it since the war, and I figure I can sell it for enough money for the two of us to get a fresh start with. I figure Promise City, being a city and all, I should be able to find me a buyer. But we ran out of money before we got that far.”

Ginnie asks, “What do you think it’s worth?” He replies, “Two or three thousand.” “Really?” she exclaims. “Oh yeah,” he answers. Ginnie says, “But we studied that in school, people have been looking for that treasure for hundreds of years. Nobody has found anything. You’re betting on a dream.” Turpin replies, “Yeah, but dreams are dreams. What would your parents be willing to pay for a dream of a lifetime?”

Ginnie says, “Let me see that again. Does it really show where..” “Oh no, I’m not showing this to you again, I showed it to you once,” is his response. Ander states, “She’s a nine-year-old, what harm could be done?” Turpin says, “I hear tell that there is a rich gambler staying here, he might be interested.” “Oh, you mean Uncle Jake?” Ginnie exclaims. “Oh, he’s your Uncle?” Turpin replies. “Uh huh,” she states. Colleen interjects, “He’s supposed to be our chaperone.”

Turpin then firmly states, “Well then, I would say it is certainly worth at least two thousand.” Ginnie replies, “No, because Uncle Jake is smarter than that and so am I. That map doesn’t look like it corresponds to this area at all.” Turpin says, “There’s enough detail here little lady, somebody with enough smarts should be able to figure it out.” “So are you saying that you’re not smart enough yourself to find it?” she asks.

He says, “I’m too old, too frail, I don’t have the physical strength to do it anymore. And my prim-and-proper daughter is too ladylike to go digging in the desert.” Ginnie says, “That map would look good in a frame on the wall as a decoration, but that’s all it is good for.” Turpin says, “I disagree. You should talk to your Uncle Jake about it. We’ll be staying upstairs in Room Two.” He and his daughter then get up and head back upstairs.

After the Turpins leave they discuss the map. Ginnie says, “Well, if we think it’s real we have two choices. I could acquire it from them on my own or we could get Jake to negotiate for it.” Colleen says, “I don’t want to get Jake involved, he’ll just mess things up.” Ginnie replies, “I don’t trust those two, I think the map is a fake. If it were real they’d be searching for it themselves. Plus the real map is with Dutch Jack. Look, we found out about this by piecing together information from a newspaper story. The Turpins probably did too. Look, I’m going to go write down what I saw.” Ginnie heads upstairs to make a copy of the map from memory.

Ander decides to go visit the Apache Trading Post to purchase some supplies. Cathleen, Colleen, El-Rohir and Alexiel decide to join him. The proprietor Jack Wesley sells Ander some arrows and non-perishable food. He also considers buying a horse but finds them to be out of his price range. Ginnie soon arrives to join them.

A group of six men enter the trading post, dressed as average folk. They start buying up picks, shovels, pails, rope, lanterns and food. The kids conclude that they are beginner miners. Ginnie enthusiastically exclaims, “Excuse me sir, but my teacher has sent me to interview new people who we have met. I would like to know what is going on in your life.”

The spokesman of the group tells her “We’ve come to Dead Mule looking for gold. Rumor has it that there’s gold in them there hills. We missed the California gold rush, we missed the Colorado and Arizona silver rushes, dagnabit, we’re not going to miss the New Mexico gold rush!” She asks, “Do you have a specific mining plot that you’re going to?” He says, “No, we’re going to do some digging and put in a claim if we find something.” She asks, “Where are you planning to go?” He replies, “None of your damn business little lady. Don’t want you jumping our claim.”

Ginnie and Cathleen wink at each other and then go into an act. Cathleen says, “Hey, be nice to little Ginnie.” Ginnie breaks into crocodile tears and cries “Do I look like I could jump your claim? You think I’m a bad guy!” She then starts to cry. The man tries to calm her down. He spots the jar of peppermint candies on the counter and buys a handful of them. Ginnie calms down.

Ginnie takes the candy but continues to cry, “I have to write this report to my teacher and you won’t help me.” “I’ll help you,” he says. She then innocently asks, “Where are you going for your claim? Is it a special mountain or a special place?” He says, “No, we’re just going to look. We don’t have anywhere special in mind.” She cries out and says, “Where do you think you’re going to look? You must have heard something.”

He says, “We just heard that there was gold to be found in Dead Mule New Mexico. “Where did you hear that?” she asks. He replies, “Back in Denver, it was in a newspaper story. We’ve been riding for three days.” Ginnie says, “Teacher was right, good news travels fast.” Once she determines that he doesn’t have a map she says, “I wish you luck.” The kids then head out.

Once outside Ginnie calmly says, “If there story has reached all the way to Denver we don’t have much time. In the next couple of days this place will be crawling with fortune hunters.” Ander says, “So what do we do now?” Ginnie replies, “There’s nothing we can do until tomorrow, other than get our guide to confirm the Turpin’s map is a fake. Let’s go see him.”

The reach the saloon and pull Miguel aside. She shows him the map she drew out and asks if it looks like the area. He takes a look at it and the various landmarks and formations. He confirms that it doesn’t appear to be anything around these parts. Ginnie says, “Thanks, I thought as much.” He asks where she got it and she tells him about the Turpins. Miguel says, “Oh yes, they stopped by here first asking about Mendoza.”

Ginnie suggests that everybody get a good night sleep and we’ll head out early in the morning. The three new now-human teens decide to save the cost of lodgings money and find a nice place slightly out of town to sleep out under the stars.

Jake, Morgan and Emily ride back into town a short while after sunset. Ginnie fills them in on what has transpired. Jake tells how his trio managed to pick up some information about a possible old Spanish mine a distance from town, but east rather than west where Dutch Jack’s claim is said to be. Given that the town of Dead Mule may soon be swamped with prospectors they decide that time is of the essence, so they will continue to operate on parallel investigations of both possible mines.

Jake heads over to the La Loma Alta saloon to talk to the guide Miguel Jones about watching out for Ginnie, Colleen and Cathleen. While there he engages in a friendly game of cards for the remainder of the evening. The teens all head to bed early.
 

Silver Moon

Adventurer
Chapter Thirteen, “Elves and Ogres”, Tuesday, November 28, 1882

Miguel Jones leads the six teenagers who hired him out the next day. Miguel, Ander and Alexiel are riding on rented horses, the other four are in the two carriages. The see a pair of Native American Centaurs approaching, one male the other female. Ginnie calls out to them with peaceful greeting in their own language and tells the others that they have clothing of the Hopi tribe (as it is the same tribe that a Promise City centaur named Qualtaqa is from).

They approach and the female looks to the guide and asks, “Miguel, what are you doing out here with these children?” Ginnie replies, “We have requested that he lead us to a prospector by the name of Dutch Jack.” The male centaur tells him “You should take these children back to town, it is not safe.” Miguel asks, “Why is it not safe?” The female says, “Trust us, it is not safe, you need to take these children back to town. It is too dangerous out here.”

Ander steps forward and says, “Brother, why is it not safe?” Ginnie adds, “Perhaps we can be of more assistance than you expect.” The female says, “The season of the year and phases of the moon have caused some very superstitious reclusive elves from Mexico to come north. They are seeking out humans to sacrifice to their gods. They have already slain a couple of settlers ten miles distant from here.”

Miguel says, “Any your involvement in this is….” The male centaur says, “We do not with for the United States Army to come in here. If they Army comes they could take our lands away. We hope to find these elves and persuade them to leave before the Army is summoned.”

Colleen states that Mother Jiminez has mentioned some very isolated Mexican elves who shun large communities and view anything modern as a sacrilege to the land. Jiminez also mentioned that is common to also see Ogres amongst these groups, as during the pre-Civil War times slaves would often escape to Mexico and were welcomed by these elves. The centaurs then ride off.

Miguel is very troubled to hear this and says that he must go and warn some other settler friends of his. Miguel has a pistol and rifle. Before moving on he does an inventory of what the party has for weapons. Ander has a quarterstaff and bow; El-Rohir has an axe; Alexiel has a long dagger; Colleen has a bow; Kathleen has a sword and a pair of dagger; Ginnie surprises the twins when she announces that she has a pistol. “Mrs. Kale wouldn’t allow that,” Colleen states. “Mrs. Kale isn’t going to find out,” Ginnie replies.

Ginnie tells Miguel “I dabble in alchemy, so have a few vials of liquids that might also prove useful.” Ander calls his wolf animal companion to join them, as he had been following from a distance up until this point.

The group continues in a southwestly direction, down an old wagon trail. They go for around an hour until they reach his settler friends in order to warn them. They see the settlement with a middle-aged couple. They have two horse and five cattle in their corral. They eye the children suspiciously. Miguel passes on the warning from the centaurs. Ginnie pulls out her notebook and plays ‘reporter’ to get information from them. They are apprehensive and provide only a minimal of useful information.

From there Miguel leads them to the northeast, off of the wagon trail, heading in the direction of Black Peak Mountain some nine-to-ten miles away. Miguel explains that it is the highest ground around and he would like to scout out the area from that elevation for signs of anything unusual.

As they near the mountain they find some barely discernable tracks, which Alexiel identifies as a trio of wood elves accompanied by a trio of ogres all barefoot. The tracks are fresh, no more than four or five hours old. Miguel confirms her assessment. The tracks are heading towards the same mountain that he had been going to. Colleen suggests “Let’s avoid them.” Alexiel wants to continue onward but the others feel that would be reckless and foolish. They group decides to return to town to alert the authorities.

They arrive back in town mid-to-late afternoon and debate who to go see to inform about the Mexicans. There appears to be a lot of activity in town. They return to the Dead Mule Weekly Gazette where Colleen and Ander make friends with the bear while the others enter the office. Frank Washbuck greets them and listens to Ginnie’s story about being on a nature hike, encountering the centaurs, the warning about the Mexican elves, and the finding of tracks heading towards Black Peak Mountain.

Washbuck takes down the notes and expresses disappointment that there aren’t any stages to too Deming to alert the soldiers. They ask about all the horses, wagons and people in town and are informed that ‘gold fever’ has filled the town with even more prospectors, as newspapers in both Albuquerque, New Mexico and Denver, Colorado have printed the story about a possible gold mine.

They head back to the La Loma Alta saloon to hire out Miguel Jones’s guide services for the following day as well. The place is packed and the teenage girls are the only females in the bar. Ginnie, Colleen and Cathleen look on the young side so are ignored but Alexiel gets a lot of attention and several drinks are purchased for her. Ginnie is able to derive that the mention in the other newspapers began with the same Dead Mule Gazette story that she had seen, with somebody in Denver who knew the Coronado story providing the newspaper with more details.

Miguel Jones makes arrangements with the girls to leave early in the morning in search of Dutch Jack, as they expect even more potential prospectors to soon arrive, making finding him soon more critical.

Wednesday, November 29, 1882:

They head out early and spend most of the morning and afternoon in fruitless search of him. By mid-afternoon they come upon some tracks of a lone human with a mule heading further into the western hills. They continue for another mile west when they hear a human scream. Horses and carriage take off full force in that direction as the archers prepare their bows.

As they round the bend they see some 300 feet away a decapitated human body lying on the ground with a mule a short distance behind him. Standing above the man is a Mexican elf wearing war paint and brandishing a bloodied sword with the human’s head by his feet. Two other elves stand near him, each with a severed head tied to their belts. Also present are a very large ogress carrying a large sack and welding a meat cleaver and a pair of slightly smaller ogres each holding a club.

The party charges forward at full gallop, closing the distance to get within spell and weapons range. The foes look up so see the arrivals, with the three ogres charging forward to engage Ander casts an Entangle spell upon the enemies when he closes to an eighty foot distance. The spell is very successful, with the cactus, shrub and vegetation rapidly growing up and entwining around them. One of the ogres easily breaks free of it and another ogre is only slowed, but the remaining ogre and the elves are temporarily caught.

Miguel Jones takes a pistol shot at them, missing as Alexiel fires off a pair of arrows from her bow, one of which strikes the ogress. Colleen and Cathleen ride their racing buggy directly at the front ogre, with Cathleen steering as close to him as she can get while still staying outside of his club range while her twin Colleen casts a Charm spell onto it.

Ginnie steers the other carriage that contains her an El-Rohir towards the elvan group. She then hands the dwarf the reins of the buggy and draws her pistol. As their distance narrows she takes aim and fires an almost perfect pistol shot into the shaman wielding the sword, wounding him. El-Rohir stops the buggy, throwing off Ginnie’s aim with her next shot. She yells at him as he takes out his bow, sending an arrow into the other ogre. Alexiel fires two arrows into this same ogre for minimal damage.

The charmed ogre is mesmerized by the young druid and ceasing his aggressive stance. Cathleen stops the buggy as Colleen then persuades the large creature that they are friends and that it is important for him to stop his ogre comrade from hurting them. He turns to do as she had instructed. The other ogre is able to dodge the first swipe from his former ally.

Ginnie’s next two pistol shots hit the entangled shaman, killing him. Ander calls his wolf forward to assist as he takes another arrow shot into the ogress. The charmed ogre successfully hits the other ogre which collapses. The three archers all concentrate on the ogress, filling her with arrows. Colleen exits the buggy to continue to speak to the charmed ogre, having him now charge at the ogress. He has trouble reaching her due to the entangle, as the plants now attempt to grab at him. Alexiel hits her again with arrows.

Cathleen rides forward towards the two other elves, one of whom has now managed to cut himself loose from the entanglement with his machete. He moves behind the mule to provide him with some cover. Cathleen has the buggy circumnavigate around. Ginnie sees this and throws a Magic Missile spell into this elf. The wounded elf climbs onto the mule and attempts to ride off.

Both carriages charge off to his left and right to cut off his possible escape. Ander and Alexiel target him with their bows and his flight and life both become short lived. The charmed ogre remains under Colleen’s control.

End Game Two
 

Silver Moon

Adventurer
Chapter Fourteen, “Thock smash”, Wednesday, November 29, 1882:

Ginnie suggests that they check the bodies, taking anything that they might be able to use as well as anything to identify these people to turn over to the authorities. Ander cancel’s his Entangle spell. Ginnie checks the shaman. She discerns that his dagger and sword are both magical in nature, with Ander taking the sword. They also find some crude unprocessed gold nuggets, which El-Rohir confirms that he can assist with the initial processing of. Miguel Jones continues to scan the horizon to ensure that there are no other enemies around.

El-Rohir checks the sack carried by the Ogress, finding it filled with prospecting and ranching supplies as well as cast iron skillets and metal knives. They but the items in the carriage. They look at the mule, checking the belongings that had belonged to the now deceased prospector. He appears to to have just arrived in the area in search for gold. They load up some of the items onto the buggy, deciding that the ogre can carry the rest.

Colleen talks to the charmed ogre, discovering that it is named Thock. He asks her for a snack so they dig through their packs to find things to feed it, giving him some dried fruit and dried meat. “Thock is pleased,” he states. “Well, at least Thock is polite,” Ginnie comments. Ginnie asks what to do with the mule. “Thock smash,” the ogre suggests. They tell him “No.”. The dwarf El-Rohir decides that he will take the mule.

The girls discuss having Thock steal the cannon once they get back to Dead Mule, as that would annoy the townspeople. Colleen suggests that they not do that, as “We don’t want to make them mad until we decide that we are leaving for good.” They have Thock dig a hole and the bodies are buried. They decide to return the eight miles southeast to town as Ginnie says it is imperative to let the authorities know that the threat of the Mexican Indians is over, in order to keep the military away.

Along the way they suggest keeping Thock out of sight until they can at least find some clothing for the almost naked ogre. It is suggested that they stop and figure out a way to drape the blankets around him. Ginnie pulls out her sewing kit and starts to fashion it into something presentable. She asks him “Do you want pleats?” The ogre proudly exclaims, “Thock Loves Pleats”. Colleen asks him “Do you know what a pleat is?” He replies, “Food?” The others laugh as Ginnie explains it to him.

While the girls are playing tailor to the ogre Ander and El-Rohir hunt some rabbits for lunch, which Thock almost immediately manages to eat most of. Cathleen comments, “Well, at least he decided to eat those instead of the mule. Ginnie says, “Yeah, feeding this guy might become a problem.”

When they arrive they find that the town of Dead Mule in the evening. The town is now mobbed, with three-to-four dozen more potential prospectors having arrived since they left that morning. The girls recall seeing some large orcan (Chinese) armor in a pile at the general store that some China-men may have traded at one point. They go and check it out, deciding that the armor combined with the woolen clothing they could fashion something for him. They spend the early evening making the new armor-enhanced clothing for Thock.

The tavern, hotel and general store are all packed with the new people in town. Ander, El-Rohir, Alexiel and Thock head over to their camp. Ginnie gives Thock a bag of grain as well as a mortar and pestle and instructs him how to crush it up into flour. He begins doing so, exclaiming “Thock smash grain!”

The others locate their chaperone Jake Cook in the High Pass Hotel, where he has negotiated a gambling table for this duration of his stay in town in exchange for a ten-percent cut of the profits to the hotel’s owner. He currently has a full table of players and seems to be enjoying himself. Ginnie waits until a break in the game and briefly fills him in on what has transpired.

Given the full room of people and their cover story Ginnie loudly tells Jake, “We’re going to go study for our test. Don’t let anybody bother me while I’m studying.” The innkeeper catches Ginnie before she heads upstairs, telling her that she and her friends will need to vacate their room, as a gunslinger has arrived needing lodging. She communicates that they prepaid for the room and is keeping it. The problem becomes moot when the Turpins check out, having found a buyer for their bogus map.

They get into the room and discuss what to do next, going over the details of the story to tell to either the Sheriff and/or newspaper editor regarding the Mexicans. They then head over to the Sheriff and pass on their story.

Ginnie, Cathleen and Colleen then gather up Ander, El-Rohir and Thock the others and head over to the El Loma Alta saloon to rehire Miguel Jones as guide for the following day. While they are there a well-dressed man exclaims in a slightly-Irish accent, “Hello, hello, I am Jeremy Bentham, the Manager for the Manchester Mangler, Big Mike O’Halloran, all the way from Manchester, England. He is one of the Great Britain’s most famous fighters and has ventured here to America to demonstrate his skills.

Cathleen exclaims, “Can I fight him?” “You can watch little lady,” is Bentham’s reply. He continues, “There will be a prize of $ 50.00 to anyone who can knock him out.” “Please?” Cathleen exclaims. Ginnie tells her “No Cathleen, you cannot knock out the boxer. It’s not a good idea. Let the dwarf play.” Ander points out that he does have a Cure Minor Wounds spell. The ogre comments “Thock smash puny human.”

A rope boxing ring is set up in the crowded saloon and a large, bald, six-foot seven burly barrel-chested man with a handlebar mustache and weighting 270 pounds enters the ring. He is wearing trunks, shoes and no shirt. The manager again offers $ 50.00 for anyone who can beat him. A somewhat tipsy saloon patron climbs into the ring. The Manager tells him to take off his shirt. While the fighters get ready the manager goes around the room and takes side bets on the fight. Ginnie turns to Cathleen and says, “And THAT is why you can’t participate!”

The fight lasts all of ten seconds before the man is lying unconscious on the floor. The manager collects his winnings. He asks for other takers and another man steps up. This fight is a bit more of a challenge, lasting for around forty-five seconds before he is dropped. Ginnie points out to El-Rohir that both times the knockouts came from upper cuts with the right hand. She also tells the dwarf to wait, wanting to see one or two more bouts.

Five minutes of prompting by the manager fails to get another competitor. He then says, “Okay, you don’t even need to knock him out. I’ll pay $ 50.00 if you can stay up in the ring with him for three minutes.” Ginnie tells El-Rohir, “Okay, now.” The dwarf climbs into the ring and strips down to his waist.

The fight starts off well for the dwarf with him making it through the first fifteen seconds of the fight with a good hit that temporarily dazes his foe. [Much to the DM’s amazement El-Rohir manages two consecutive maximum rolls while the pugalist has two horrendous consecutive rolls.] El-Rohir then connects with a knockout, dropping the Manchester Mangler to the mat. Bentham reluctantly hands over a fifty-dollar bell to the dwarf and then goes to pay off various bets that he lost.

“Thock still want to fight,” the ogre exclaims. Ginnie tells the group, “No, now is when we leave.” El-Rhoir objects to leaving, as several patrons who had bet on him want to buy him celebratory drinks. At the far end of the room two men get into a vocal argument about the fight, as it appears they had bet among themselves but the loser has now changed him mind. The loser vocally insists that either the dwarf cheated or that the fight was rigged.

Ginnie quickly ushers the whole group out the door, having Cathleen go and haul El-Rohir away from the bar. They hear the first punches being traded as the exit the saloon. When they are a half-block away they hear the sound of broken glass as a man is thrown out a window. Cathleen and Thock both want to go back to join the fight and it takes the other four to talk them out of it.

They head back to Ander, Alexiel and El-Rohir’s camp. Thock shows her his well crushed grain, which is the finest powdered flour that she has ever seen. She comments, “We’re going to have the lightest biscuits in town.” They start up a campfire and celebrate that one of their group has earned $ 50.00. They swap some stories about their backgrounds. Thock talks about his hunting skills, which appear to be based primarily upon brute force.

Ginnie suggests that they will probably have an easier time getting Dutch Jack to assist them than any of the other prospectors around because they will look like a pack of teenagers rather than competitors or threats. She suggests that they all go and get some sleep, except for Thock, who she hands the gold nuggets to and suggests he smash it to powder too, which they can then separate out the gold from other stones in the morning.

On the way back to the hotel they hear some gunshots go off in the direction of the saloon. Ginnie says, “Uh oh, I’d say there’s a fifty-fifty chance that it might be Jake.” Looking back in that direction they see the Sheriff exit the saloon, gun in hand, having a pair of half-elves go to the jail at gunpoint. Needing to satisfy her own curiosity, Ginnie heads into the now clamed saloon and asks their guide what happened. He tells her that the Sheriff decided to stop the fight by selectively arresting the only non-human patrons in the place. They decide to head back and get some sleep.
 

Silver Moon

Adventurer
Chapter Fifteen, “This is why we didn’t put the gold in the bank!”, Thursday, November 30, 1882:

The morning starts with Colleen knocking on Ginnie’s door. Ginnie tells them “Wait a minute, I have to disconnect the traps.” After a few minutes she lets them in. Colleen asks “Why did you put such elaborate traps?” Ginnie’s current roomate Cathleen says, “She traps everything.” Ginnie exclaims, “Well, ever since they tried to blow up my house I feel that I have to.” Colleen says, “I guess a little bit of paranoia is a good thing.”

They head outside to join up with Ander, El-Rohir and Thock. They had left the saloon so quickly the night before that they had not finalized the plan to rehire they guide. Ander suggests that they go find Miguel before anybody else does. They meet up with him and give him some of the silver and money that they obtained the day before, guaranteeing his continued employment with them.

A rooster atop a fence crows at dawn waking up several folks. As the rooster goes to crow again an arrow skewers his neck and it falls to the ground dead. El-Rohir retrieves his arrow and the foul commenting, “I wanted to sleep a little bit more. Oh well, chicken for breakfast I guess.”

They decide to round up the horses, donkey. As they are heading across the street to the livery stable to get the carriages they see fire in the loft of the stable. “We need to get those carriage out NOW!” Ginnie exclaims. They dismount from the animals, giving them to Miguel to hold, and the six charge over to the stables. The windows on the upper part of the loft have flames going out of them with the major hay fire going on. They have Thock grab onto the carriage and pull it out, rickshaw fashion. El-Rohir, Ander and Cathleen manage to haul of the other one.

Colleen and Emily grab the group’s tack and harness from the barn as fire bells now sound and people begin yelling “Fire” from throughout the community. People head towards the town well carrying buckets, to start a bucket brigade. The hotel owner also owns the stable, so pounds on the doors of all rooms ordering people to go outside and join the bucket brigade. Jake is annoyed at being woken up and remains in bed.

Around two-dozen people have now formed the line from the well to the stable and start passing the buckets. The Wells Fargo Stationmaster and his hands arrive and help to get the horses away with help from Ander and Emily. Once the carriages, tack and harness are clear of the stable the kids join in a bucket brigade to help extinguish the barn fire.

Colleen O’Hara is helping in the bucket bridge, bringing back the empty buckets (and thus, looking in the opposite direction than the others) when she spots a group of five horses outside of the bank down the street. One man is standing alongside them holding the reins to the five horses. Colleen points and screams “Someone is robbing the bank.”

This draws the Sheriff’s attention to the bank. He drops the buckets he is carrying as do several more men. Just then four robbers depart with bank with bags of cash. The Sheriff and a few of the other men alongside him draw their guns and begin shooting. “This is why we didn’t put the gold in the bank!” Ginnie exclaims.

The sheriff and a few other townspeople engage in exchanging gunfire with the robbers, dropping one. The bank manager charges out the front door with a shotgun and fires point blank into the back of another, dropping him. From his second floor hotel window Jake Cook leans out with his Colt Peacemaker and manages to discreetly drop another.

Colleen runs up to another of the bandit’s horses and casts a spell to control and stops it, much to the annoyance of the rider. The rider kicks his horse to spur him on and Colleen counters by calming the animal. The riders sees her and starts to raise his gun but is then quickly slain as chaperone Jack fires another well aimed shot from his bedroom window. He falls off the horse and she leads the mount away.

The final rider manages to escape with the Sheriff and the others firing their guns after him without success. A posse is quickly assembled to ride after the lone rider who escaped. The rest of the townspeople soon get the fire under control by pushing the burning hay out of the loft and onto the street. Most of the money was recovered, with the lone robber who escaped managing to get away with a single small bag of cash.

Ginnie says that they should push to get a reward since Colleen pointed it out. They head over to the bank and find that the only reward being offered is $ 100 for the stolen bag of money being recovered. The excitement over, and the kids richer now by one horse and saddle, the teenagers decide to head back out in search of Dutch Jack. Ginnie points out that they need to find a place to graze the animals too, since hay in town will now be in short supply.

They meet up with their guide and head out, travelling for around an hour. They enter the mountains and hear the sound of gunshots. A pair of men who appear to be prospectors come forward holding a shotgun and a rifle. One declares “We don’t like strangers around here. You trying to jump out claim?” Ginnie whispers to the others “Dutch Jack works alone, neither of these guys are him.” “And Miguel would tell us if it was,” Colleen points out.

Cathleen exclaims, “We’re not claim jumpers, we’re just kids.” Ginnie says, “We’re doing a survey for our teacher.” “We’re not trying to steal anything”, Colleen exclaims. “Thock smash!” the half-ogre declares. “NO!” the girls yell to him in unison. Ginnie looks back at the men and says, “We were told to do a ecological survey of the flora and fauna and then write a three-page essay. We still have to identify at least four different animal species and take soil and water sample. Does that sound like we’re trying to jump our claim?”

The louder one yells back, “Yeah, it does!” The other one turns to him and says softly “It does?” The first one turns back and says, “I guess so, I didn’t understand what she said, she must be trying to confuse us to jump our claim.” He turns back to the girls and says, “Get moving you silly kids. Go away.”

Cathleen exclaims, “Why are you so mean!” She then breaks into crocodile tears and starts to bawl. “Crock smash mean man!” the half-ogre states. The prospectors raise their weapons at him. The others move to restrain the half-ogre. Colleen tells Thock not to smash the mean man. They decide to move on and away from these paranoid men.

They continue on and come upon an elaborate camp ahead of them. It has two large pavilion-style tents, portable tables and chairs. There are half a dozen well-dressed men gathered around the tables having some sort of meal. As they approach they see that one of the men is waiting on the others. The tables also have nice linen tablecloths and the dishes appear to be made of silver. There is also fine silverware and cut-crystal drinking glasses. A bottle of wine is on the table and the food is on nice serving platters

They approach, noticing two of the men have revolvers on the belts and there are several shotguns leaning against one of the tables. The servant hurries up to them in an effeminate and hurried voice exclaims, “Hello, Hello. I am Dimetri, the Grand Duke’s Assistant, Welcome, Welcome! Are you the hunting party?” Cathleen exclaims, “No, I’m Cathleen, We’re doing a project for our school because our teacher told us to.”

Ginnie interjects, “We would like to interview the Grand Duke.” “Okay, let me check,” Dimetri states and scurries back to the table and tents, entering a tent. He returns momentarily and states “The Grand Duke is available. A man exits the tent approaches them. He is dressed in fine English hunting clothes, is holding an open shotgun, and has a pair of Irish Wolfhounds to both side of him. The man is bald, smoking a pipe and wearing a monocle. Ander’s wolf starts to growl at the sight of the dogs.

The servant announces “The Grand Duke of Orsha, Alexander Ignatious Petrovich Romanoff.” Ginnie says to the others, “Orsha is a Province in Russia.” Cathleen approaches and starts telling him about their essay assignment. “Please, please, introductions first,” he states. He then introduces his companions, two American hunters and two Russian hunters. He doesn’t introduce the two servants.

Colleen makes the introductions of their party. Thock interjects “I am Thock, I love smash.” She points to the wolf and says, “That’s Ander’s puppy.” “Big puppy,” he states. The Grand Duke explains that he is on a hunting expedition. He reference the carcass of a dragon that P.T. Barnum has on display which was slain in this general region earlier that year. Ginnie points out that she has heard about that but believes the dragons to be long gone. He says, “Yes, that would be consistent, we’ve seen no evidence of dragons.”

The Grand Duke then invites them to join him for some food and drink. “We’re not supposed to drink with strangers,” Ginnie states. He says that he isn’t a stranger and reintroduces himself. Ginnie comments on the name Romanoff as being the royal family and asks where is in on the Russian line of succession. “A little bit down,” he states.

He has Dimetri bring out “The bottle of the good Merlot.” Ginnie and Colleen state in unison that they are all underage. “A little wine never hurt anyone,” he states. “Our chaperone will kill us,” Cathleen exclaims. Dimetri pours six glasses. “Thock Thirsty!” the half-ogre exclaims and downs a glass. El-Rohir also downs one. Ander takes one and checks it, determining that it is not right, that it has been poisoned. He quietly warns the others.

Thock goes to take another until Ginnie threatens to “Put him in a time out.” Neither of the two who consumed the wine feel any ill effects (due to making their saving throws). Ginnie declares that they all have to get going and the kids depart. Once out of earshot from the Grand Duke’s camp Ginnie chastises the two who drank the wine.

They end the day finding the pair of centaurs and letting them know that the threat from the elves and ogres is ended. They also warn the centaurs to stay well away from the Grand Duke’s camp. As it is getting late they decide to camp out for the night with the centaurs.
 

Silver Moon

Adventurer
Chapter Sixteen, “Finding Dutch Jack”, Friday, December 1, 1882:

The party and the centaurs spend the morning in search of Dutch Jack. It is a breezy morning. By afternoon lightening storms come up and a brush fire erupts around a mile distant. The fire is moving from west to east due to the wind. They consider digging in but decide that outrunning the fire might be a better idea.

As the fire nears they decide to ride back to town ahead of it. The fire begins to grow and soon fills the entire western horizon with a wall of black smoke behind them. Rainstorms then begin, which become heavy, and prevent the fire from moving any closer to town. The fire starts to be drowned out behind them.

They haven’t been in town since the previous morning and discover that even more prospectors have reached the town, with it now being quite crowded to get around. They find out that the escaped bank was caught and jailed. Ginnie again tries to convince Colleen that she should go to the bank and argue for a share of the reward money since she was the one who alerted the town to the bank robbery. Colleen decides that keeping the robber’s horse is reward enough.

They check in with Jake and discover that the Sheriff has offered him a job to guard the jail. Not surprisingly, Jake turned it down, only to then get the ‘hard sell’ about it being the civic duty. Jake pointed out that he lives in an Arizona town and reserves his civic duty to that community alone. The problem is that the jail is overcrowded now with the two elves from the bar fight and the bank robber.

Ginnie heads over to the jail. She tells the Sheriff how the elves have already spent two nights in jail, sufficient punishment for a bar fight, and how it would be the best use of his time to get to focus upon the robber. With no small amount of flattery added in she manages to convince him to release the two elves.

Ginnie heads over to rehire Miguel Jones to accompany them the following day. She hears from him that Spaniard Antonio Mendoza is back in town and that he has hired a Navajo guide to search for Dutch Jack. Ginnie heads back and tells the others. She suggests that they ‘interview’ Mendoza.

They are soon approached by a man in a suit who introduces himself as Louis Armond. He explains that he is from the Eastern Insurance Company and has heard that they are the owners of carriages which were almost destroyed in a stable fire. He says that for a mere price of only $2.00 they can insure each against any future damage.

Ginnie says, “Insurance is betting against yourself. We got the carriages out of the fire. I think that we can take care of our own property.” He starts to press and she replies, “Look at us, we’re just kids.” Mr. Armond says, “Kids with Silver Jake Cook, who has lots of valuables and is doing well at the poker tournament. He could use insurance in case the bank he keeps his money at is robbed and not insured itself.” Cathleen blurts out, “He doesn’t trust banks.”

The man’s eyes light up at that and he says, “So he isn’t keeping his poker winnings in the bank.” Ginnie decides to cast a ‘Forget’ spell on him (with the incantation of ‘These are not the droids you’re looking for”). Armond continues on his way.

Saturday, December 2, 1882:
Mendoza and his guide leave town early, the guide Josito successfully hiding their tracks behind them. The teenagers and their guide head out shortly thereafter. The day is rainy and they have to travel carefully to avoid flash floods from rushing water in the previously dry stream beds. The clouds move on and the sun returns, soon drying out any evidence of the storm and flood.

After a long debate they head back to town in the evening. During the day the town’s population has doubled from what it had been when they left, with there now being between 300 and 400 people, a far cry from the two-dozen from when the group had arrived on Monday. A large tent city has been erected throughout the mountain pass and prices for all manner of goods have quadrupled. Being a Saturday night things are quite lively.

Thock suggests that they go start a bar fight but he is overruled by the girls. A few of the drunken men make passes at the young girls, Thock lightly striking one and Cathleen striking another. The one Thock hit retaliates and is soon knocked unconscious. Ginnie checks on the man to make sure he is still alive, discretely removing his pocket watch and $16.00 cash in the process.

They check in with Jake Cook, who is having great success at the poker table, being up nearly $500 from what he had when they arrived in town. At the saloon a group of angry prospectors are looking for the Turpins, having finally deduced that the map they purchased was bogus. Ginnie says, “They tried to sell it to us but we didn’t have the money for it.” The man asks “What to buy it now?” She quickly exclaims, “No.”

Ginnie inquires about Mendoza, hearing that he has come back in town. Ginnie tells the innkeeper that she was supposed to interview him for their newspaper. The innkeeper says that “He’s still in town, he just hurried out a half-an-hour ago we he heard that the guy he was looking for had returned to Dead Mule. “OH! Okay,” she exclaims. The kids rush over to the saloon, where they find their guide looking for them, having also heard that Dutch Jack is back in town. They pass this information on to Jake and then fan throughout in out search of Dutch Jack

They hear gunshots firing from the tents at the western end of town. They hurry over in that direction come upon the scene of Mendoza holding a smoking gun and throttling an old bald prospector who is dying from a mortal chest wound. Mendoza exclaims to the man, “Where’s my map!” Ginnie gives orders to El Rohir of “Go get the doctor” and to Thock “Go smash the Spaniard.”

As the crowd begins to gather Ander draws and fires an arrow to disarm Mendoza. Thock runs and grabs for the man with the gun. Ginnie and Cathleen rush forward. Ander’s arrow falls a little short of Mendoza. Mendoza pistol whips Jack, again exclaiming “Where is that map!”

Ginnie casts a Hold Person spell upon Mendoza who freezes in place. Colleen stops the ogre from hitting Mendoza and tells him to carry Dutch Jack over to the La Loma Alta saloon as fast as he can, as that is where Doctor Sam resides. Half way to the saloon the dying old prospector opens his eyes and says, “This is it. I’m coming for you Elizabeth.” He reaches into his coat and pulls out a paper. He says, “Son, I give you everything,” as he thrusts a piece of paper into the ogre’s face and then expires. They reach the saloon and the Samuel Running Bear pronounces Dutch Jack to be dead. The teenagers head outside where Ginnie and Colleen do their best to convince Thock to let them have the paper.

[End of table game three.]
 

Silver Moon

Adventurer
Lost Conquistador Mine – Game Four Summary

DM’s Note: After game three the schedules for my daughter and her friends became chaotic and we were never able to find a time to pick things up again. In early December my family was hosting an ENWorld Gameday, where Emily, Jake and Morgan’s players were going to attend, so we managed to get in a session the night before the Gameday. Ander, Cathleen, Colleen and Ginnie’s players were also able to attend that night and El Rohir became Scholar’s player.

Chapter Seventeen, “The Map”, Saturday, December 2nd, 1882:

Hearing the gunshots, Jake finishes his current round of poker and then heads out to make sure that the teenagers who are supposedly under his charge are not involved. He spots Ginnie over by the saloon and heads through the gathering crowd in that direction. Ginnie is outside and just inside are Colleen, Cathleen, Thock and a dead prospector. Colleen’s player comments how it is probably a good thing that Jack is dead, since the names Jake and Jack are so similar it would get confusing.

Jake has Ginnie bring the others outside. “Now what did you do?” Jake asks Ginnie. “Nothing,” Ginnie says. He replies, “Then what’s with the scruffy looking dead guy?” Cathleen says, “Well, he had a map….” Jake immediately places his hand over he lips before she can say anything further in public about it, given the number of people currently looking for this map. Cathleen adds “Thock has it.” Thock starts to pull out the map and then finds it gone, Jake’s slight of hand having appropriated it.

A couple of folks from inside the saloon carry out the dead prospector. Jake casually asks the half-elf Samuel. “Do you know this guy?” “Yeah, it’s Dutch Jack,” the man replies. “Who’s that? Jake asks innocently. Samuel replies, “A prospector, comes into town every couple of weeks to get drunk.” “Who shot him?” Jake asks. “I don’t know, ask your big friend, he’s the one who brought him in,” Samuel replies. Jake says “He didn’t shoot him, he doesn’t have a gun.”

Samuel asks Thock, “Who shot him?” “I don’t know,” the ogre replies. Colleen says, “That Mendoza guy shot him.” They look over to where Mendoza last held by the Hold Person. The spell had ended several minutes ago and he is now long gone. Jake hands Samuel a gold coin worth ten dollars saying “I was lucky at the table and this guy was out of luck, so why don’t you use this to pay to bury him.” Samuel thanks Jake.

They head back to the High Pass hotel to the privacy of one of the rooms to look over the map. Jake goes last to make sure that nobody is paying particular attention to them going upstairs. Two men do ask when he’ll be coming back to the gambling table. Jake hands them some coins and says, “Can’t say, but the next round is on me.” That satisfies them.

Once they are all in the room Jake removes the map saying “What in bloody hell is this?” Looking at the writing on the map he asks, “Does anybody speak German?” “I thought he was Dutch?” Colleen comments. Ginnie points out that for some unknown reason Germans are often referred to as Ducthmen. It is not one of the many languages that Ginnie is proficient in. Many dwarves know the German language but El Rohir isn’t one of them.

The group has a short debate as to whether to include their guide Miguel in the finding of the map. Based upon the fact that they recognize none of the landmarks listed on the map some of them suggest that his assistance would be important. Emily points out a graveyard near the end of the map makes reference to Mendoza. “A graveyard? Kind of ironic since a Mendoza killed the mapmaker,” El Rohir comments.

They look over the other details of the map and are unable to determine much as there is no scale of any sort marked out. They debate when to act on the map, that is, when to leave town. El Rohir suggests starting a fire somewhere in town as a distraction. Jake points out that following up on that plan could get them all arrested, so it is just best to leave without being seen. Cathleen suggests that they use the cannon to destroy the outhouse as a distraction. Emily replies, “You just want to shoot the cannon.” “Yeah!” Cathleen exclaims.

Jake points out both the advantages and disadvantages of sneaking out of town (something he has had lots of experience with in the past). Jake concludes that causing a commotion could draw attention of people not paying attention to them anyway, so it is best to not do anything unusual. Since most of the prospectors are heading out of town to look for the mine as well they could do the same without drawing undue attention.

It is now Saturday night, so Jake questions when the best time to leave would be. Emily suggests dawn, as getting the horses and buggies alone will attract attention. As they have been going out each morning anyway this wouldn’t look unusual. The consensus is that dawn might be best. They also decide that they need something for Thock to travel on, but since the specially bread Ogremount is not available they need to purchase some sort of wagon.

They also suggest writing down some of the German phrases and having Ginnie check with the newspaperman or others to get translation. She returns in a half-hour having found out that the El Dondo wagon trail mentioned on the map started at the west end of town, so the western road is that aspect on the map, giving them a starting point.

Jake decides to go acquire a wagon. Somebody implies that he is going to steal one. Jake replies, “My sleight of hand is pretty good but I am not able to put a wagon in my pocket.” Jake manages to purchase a large heavy wagon with a pair of oxen for a reasonable price of $190.00 from people who used the wagon to get to Dead Mule but now need to sell it to buy supplies and pay for daily living expenses. They purchase other supplies, including a dozen sticks of dynamite, a telescope, and other supplies. Due to the higher number of folks purchasing things these items now selling for four times their previous prices.

They debate again whether to hire the guide Miguel again. Emily thinks that they can probably figure it out on their own, especially since they now know the starting place. Jake has some concerns about being out in the desert without a guide until he discovers that three of the teenagers are druids. Despite the ruckus and rowdiness from the Saturday night in town, everyone turns in early to get a good night’s sleep, anticipating a long day to follow.
 

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