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

Silver Moon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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