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

Silver Moon

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

World Background:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Special thanks to Orchid Blossom for assisting with the writing of this chapter.
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Silver Moon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Silver Moon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Silver Moon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Once he has been told the full story the women stand up to leave and the human looks up at them and mouths the words “Help Me” while nodding his head towards the halfling. Ruby and Katherine immediately deduce that the annoying little man has been bothering him. Ruby says, “With Arcade’s Gang around it might not be safe for us women to be out on the streets alone. Maybe your friend here could escort us back to our hotel.” The man immediately volunteers and the three leave the building.


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Silver Moon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 3rd, 1882:

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

Wednesday, January 4th, 1882:

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

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

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

Maggie offers her the job for $ 3.00 a night plus tips beginning the next night. Maggie orders a round of drinks to celebrate her good fortune. Ruby looks at Jake and says, “Are you ready to now tell us who you are?”
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Silver Moon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Special thanks to Baradthegnome for his assistance with writing this chapter.
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Silver Moon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Silver Moon

Chapter Ten, “Busy Night at the Lone Star”, Thursday January 5th, 1882:

The atmosphere at the Lone Star was decidedly different than it had been the last three nights. Usually the patrons were mostly dedicated gamblers. They kept their drinking down to the point where they could keep their minds sharp for the game and paid little heed to Katherine as long as they had their drinks when they wanted them.

The ad in the paper had attracted the men who were more interested in getting drunk and ogling Ruby than in betting. Kate was too busy weaving from table to table to pay attention to the bundle of nerves in her stomach. On one of her busy trips past the slightly out of tune piano, Jake motions with his head for Katherine to come over an talk to him. She slipped between the tables and over to the piano.

He tells her "There's four things I don't like about this. First off, I don't like having my back to so many people. Second, I'm more accustomed to playing after the listeners are more liquored up. Third, I am right offended that they need to offer free beer for folks to come hear Ruby sing. Make sure you say something nice to her. Get her to really show these saloon rats what a fine singer she really is." "You said there was four things?" replies Katherine with more than a little impatience while eyeing the rabble waiting for her to return with drinks. "Oh, right." Replies Jake with a turn of his head and a sly grin. "You haven't brought me a drink yet."

Katherine replies, "Believe me, they're plenty liquored up. And they won't need to offer free drinks again. Word about Ruby will spread and this place will be full every night. I'm not sure that's all to the good. I don't like the feel of this crowd." Katherine looked around at the gaggle of men. "I'll bring you something when I can," she said, and hurried away.

A few hours later the crowd has started to thin out. Most of the chairs and barstools remain occupied but with only a handful of people standing. Ruby’s tip cup is close to overflowing and the tip cup that Cook put atop the piano has a good dozen coins in it. Both gamblers are each now on their third table full of players, having effortlessly beaten the players. There has been surprisingly little trouble thus far. Around ten minutes earlier Tom and Maggie got into an argument out in the kitchen, but Ruby sang louder during it to keep the patrons from noticing.

“It has been a crazy night,” Ruby thought to herself. She was not prepared for such a large crowd and from the looks of it neither was Katherine. Truthfully she loved the spotlight and was used to it from other jobs she had in the past. But her promise to herself was that coming to Promise meant staying out of trouble and she knew that large crowds always meant trouble, especially for her. It was just too tempting and too easy, it had always been that way, and trouble just always found her. She already started down that path by being involved in the altercation earlier that week. And it would have been so easy to take advantage of all the drunken men with their wallets hanging out of their pockets. But from now on she was going to stick to her plan and be a respectable lady. A promise is a promise after all.

Job Kane winds up the current game at his table and announces “Time for a break”. Most of his players head out towards the outhouse while Kane heads into the kitchen to talk to the Whipples. A few minutes after that Maggie approaches Silver Jake Cook and says “Thanks for helping out, I’ll take over now. Tom wants to talk to you out in the kitchen.” Cook empties his tips cup into his pocket and heads through the swinging door into the other room.

Tom Whipple looks exhausted. He says to Cook “Are you interested in taking over Job’s table for the rest of the night? The house gets twenty percent of any winnings.” Cook quickly agrees and looks at Job Kane. The gambler responds to the unanswered question “The crowd scared off our regular players and playing with these guys is like catching fish in a barrel. Tony seems to be enjoying it but I’m getting bored. I’ve also got to take care of something upstairs.”

Job leaves the kitchen and Silver says to Tom “What’s happening upstairs?” Tom replies, “Too much. Earlier today I rented out a room to a young lady named Susie Foreman. Turns out that she’s a strumpet, and she just brought upstairs her third guy tonight. Maggie doesn’t approve of that sort of thing here and is mad at me for renting the room to her. Job said he’d go take care of it.”

Most of the players have returned to the gambling table. Tom escorts Cook over to it and announces “New dealer.” Since all of the players had been loosing to Kane none of them object. Silver starts to shuffle the cards and is dealing the first hand when a pair of gunshots rings out. A bullet flies down through from the ceiling above, passing through the end of a card still being held at the other end by Silver's hand and then into the table. Jake manipulates the card in his hand turning it over and around while examining it. "Gentlemen, let's take another short break. If you will excuse me I need to go get a fresh deck this one will no longer due."

He pushes away from the table and quickly looks around to make sure that Ruby & Katherine are fine, wiggles his Colt in it's holster to make sure it's loose and heads for the stairs. "Damn," he mutters under his breath, "I hope none of them gets tired of waiting for the game to start."

From the stage Ruby saw Jake sit down at the card table then stand up and go upstairs, leaving his table empty. Ruby walked off the stage to keep the gamblers company. She would flirt with them and make them buy more drinks then they had planned. Surely that would make Tom happy. As she walked past Katherine she gave a quick whisper, “What’s going on tonight? What were Tom and Maggie fighting about? And where did Jake go?”

Katherine could only shake her head. "I don't know what the fight was about. Tom sat Jake down at the table to be the new dealer, but he then got right back up again. He held up one of the cards and it had a hole in it, then he ran upstairs." Whatever was going on up there couldn't be good, and she had grown fond enough of Jake to dread seeing him hurt. She tried to shake of the feeling of trouble that had been hanging over her all night.

She smiled at Ruby. "You've been wonderful tonight. And lucky not to be down here. I think my backside is going to be black and blue tomorrow morning. I wonder how Mrs. Whipple feels about the slapping of drunken patrons?" Ruby replies "Thank you for the compliment Katherine. If there is one thing I know it's drunken patrons deserve to be slapped, no matter what the owner says. Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself! I'm going to keep that rabble under control," Ruby says nodding towards the gamblers. She starts to walk away then pauses, looking up the stairs. "But I am worried about Jake..." Kate put her hand on Ruby's arm and leaned forward to whisper in her ear. "I have my Derringer just in case. If he needs help..... Do you...have anything?" "Darling, I'm always prepared," Ruby says winking.

Silver Jake Cook has reached an opened door to an upstairs room. He peers. First he sees Job Kane kneeling behind a dresser, gun in hand. He then notices movement and someone behind a bed points a gun towards the doorway. Jake ducking his head back as the gun goes off.

Downstairs, Katherine smiled as Ruby moved over to Jake's table and began to weave her spell over the patrons. Kate hadn't made it more than halfway back to the bar when another gunshot rang out from upstairs. The tray clattered to the floor as Kate hitched up her skirts and dashed for the stairs. Maggie stops playing the piano and most conversations end as well, the customers wondering what is going on. Another gunshot sounds from upstairs, this one heard by all of the occupants of the now quiet saloon. A panic immediately follows, with most of the intoxicated patrons now charging out the front door and a few running through the kitchen and out the back. Somebody yells out "Go Get the Marshall!".

From outside the doorway Cook sees Kane take aim towards the bed and fire down into the featherbed itself. "You there behind the bed." Says Jake loudly from around the corner while quietly drawing and cocking his revolver. "Not only are you going hurt someone, but you are messing up Tom's profits tonight. Any chance we can talk about this, or are you gonna make us blow your head off? You are kind of outnumbered and your odds are getting worse."

The hand reaches out from behind the bed and takes another shot at the door. It also makes a great target for Job Kane, who stands and fires point blank into the arm. A man screams and drops the gun onto the bed as the bullet passes through his arm. A woman screams too, and Jake's gaze shifts over towards a closet in the room, where a young lady is standing, attired only in a bedsheet.

Jake moves quickly into the doorway and points his gun at the man behind the bed. "Freeze!" He yells while quickly looking around to make sure that there is no other hazard. He keeps half an eye on the woman in the closet to make sure she doesn't reach for a hidden weapon.

Ruby was just as fast as Kate. They ran up the stairs side by side as Kate pulled the Derringer from her bodice. She stopped at the top of the stairs as another shot rang out, splintering a doorframe. Kate pushed herself against the back wall of the hallway as Jake moved up to the doorway. She peeked inside the room and saw a woman hiding in the closet, covering herself with a bedsheet. She blushed even as she tried to keep her hand steady on the Derringer.

"Job, is he the only one?" Jake asked. Kate kept her eyes fixed on the woman. If there was only the one man Jake and Job could handle him, but she feared they might ignore the woman.

The wounded man is bleeding on the floor and howling in pain. "It's just them," Job says. "What is going on?" Ruby asks. "He tried to kill me!" the man yells, pointing at Job with his unwounded hand. The gambler replies, "I was just delivering a message from the hotel owner and he started shooting at me." "You shot first," the wounded man replies. "Only after you reached for your gun," Job answers. "Can I get dressed now?" the woman in the closet asks. Kate swallowed and kept her voice as even as possible despite her blushes. "I think you'd best stay very still. If you wanted to be dressed you should have stayed that way."
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Silver Moon

Chapter Eleven, “Enter Morgan Earp”, Thursday January 5th, 1882, 10:15 P.M.

Job picks the man's gun up off of the bed and tells Jake "Let's get this guy downstairs before he bleeds all over Tom and Maggie's floor." The scruffy man pulls up his pants with his good arm and hooks his suspenders up over the shoulders of his dirty cotton shirt. He starts to reach for his boots and Job says "Well, get those, start moving." Jake grabs the boot, and as suspected, notices a knife strapped to the inside of one of them. The men walk out the doorway and Job tells Ruby, "Stay with her. Bring her downstairs when she's presentable."

Katherine made herself as small as she could as Jake and Job passed by, dragging the half-dressed and bleeding man between them. She kept her eyes trained on the harlot and followed Ruby into the room.
"Don't let her move just yet," Katherine said and bent down to pick up the flashy clothes that the woman had abandoned on the floor. She quickly searched them for a weapon, but found nothing. "Make yourself decent, if that's possible," she said, throwing the dress at the woman's feet.

As the men head down the stairs they see that Deputy Marshall Morgan Earp has arrived, which is no great surprise given that his office is only two blocks away. Jeff Mills is blocking the doorway and arguing with a plump middle-aged man who wants in.

Earp goes up to the door and says "Go away, place is closed now." The man replies, "Not to me. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution gives me the right to come in. I'm Parker Baxter of the Promise City Herald!" Earp says, "I know who you are and I said go away." Baxter replies, "And I know who you are too. Your family is in thick with the publisher of that Tombstone paper. But I belong to the Promise City Merchants Association, and we pay your salary. Do you want me to make it known that you're favoring out-of-town merchants over those who live here?" Earp pauses a minute and tells Mills, "Let the drunken sot in."

The three men are now down on the main floor. Maggie Whipple heads upstairs to check on the women. Earp walks up to the bleeding man and says, "Who are you and what happened." The man replies, "Name's Keach and he started it," pointing to Job. Kane says, "I work here and was doing an errand for the owner," pointing to Tom, and adding "He reached for his gun and I was just defending myself."

Earp says, "Sounds like we need the judge to decide this. I'll have to take both of you in." The Deputy Marshall then points to both Tom Lucky and Jeff Mills and says, "You guys take him over to Doc Eaton first and get him patched up. I'll be along shortly." The men support the wounded man and the three head out the door.

Baxter sits down at a table and helps himself to some drinks that had been left there as Earp turns to Job, Jake and Tom and says, "Okay, why don't you guys tell me exactly what happened."

“Well Marshall,” Begins Jake taking off his hat, exhaling deeply and wiping his brow to feign relief that this is over, “I heard Tom here ask Job to talk to the occupants of that room, and ask them to leave. Poor Tom here had come to find out that some immoral business was going on in that room. Next thing I know I hear gun shots and I need a new deck of cards.” Jake removes the card from his shirt pocket and hands it to the Marshall.

“So I run up the stairs and peek into the room and see Job trying to get cover behind a dresser and Mister Loco behind the bed like he was commander of fort mattress takes a shot at me. Well, I didn’t even have a gun in my hand!” Jake holds out his empty hands to emphasize. “So from out in the hall way I ask this crazy if he wants to talk instead of shooting, and he shoots at me again! Lucky for me Mr. Kane is a pretty good shot and shot him in the arm. I’d say that this crazy guy is lucky, a less brave man than Job Kane would have shot him dead instead of just taking out his gun arm.” Jake stops and nods towards Job.

“I didn’t see or hear what happened before, but I can tell you I have no respect for a man who takes shots at unarmed folk just trying to help. I wouldn’t trust their word a bit.”

Following Jake’s description of what happened Kane give’s his accounting, and with no ladies present gets a bit graphic about his initial glimpse of what was going on in the room. He adds, “I didn’t even have my gun out. I just told them to get dressed and leave. That’s when he reached for his gun.”

Tom Whipple tells Earp, “I’ve figured out who that crazy guy is. His name is Keach. He lives in a tent west of town where he operates a still. The stuff he brews is so vile that none of the saloons in town will buy any from him. I think he sells it to down-on-their luck prospectors and to the Indians. He probably had too much of his own stuff before he ever walked through my door.

Morgan Earp says to Kane “Sounds like you were on the up-and-up, but he was the one who got shot, so the Judge will still have to be the one to decide this. Give me both of the guns that were fired.” Job hands them over, saying “Guess I won’t be needing mine behind bars. How long are you planning to keep me?” Earp replies “Judge Isby is out on the circuit and won’t be back for a few days, so it looks like you’ll be my guest for a while. Why don’t you go upstairs and pack whatever you’ll need.” Kane says, “Thanks, I appreciate that.”

Job Kane heads up the stairs, passing the ladies on the way down. He stops and reaches into his pockets, pulling out a pair of twenty-dollar bills. He hands one each to both Ruby and Katherine and says, “Looks like I’m going to jail. When the stores open tomorrow please go buy me some books to read and some decent food.” A fat man gulping drinks at one of the tables in the room below notices this exchange of money but is too far away to have heard the conversation.

Tom Whipple tells Jake “I’m sorry that you didn’t get a chance to run a table tonight. With Kane locked up for a while though you’ll have more opportunities if you’re still interested.” "Sure," says Jake to Tom, "I'll cover for Job. I feel a little guilty about it, he's a good man and was just doing you a favor. But not too guilty." Adds Jake with a grin.

As the women reach the bottom of the stairs the fat man who smells like booze runs up to them and says "Parker Baxter, Promise City Herald. Heard that you, uh, ladies, had some problems upstairs tonight with your customers. Would you tell me your side of the story?"

Jake visibly winces when he hears Baxter address the ladies. "This is not going to be pretty. You think the Marshall will be mad if Katherine shoots him?" "By the way Tom," he says just as he turns to leave the saloon owner, "lets not miss our little life lesson today." "What's that Jake?" "Evict the 'Ladies o' the night' between their customers." Silver Jake Cook snickers a bit and moves across the room to watch what Ruby and Katherine do to the obnoxious Mr. Baxter.

Katherine stared at the grinning man, her face slowly turning scarlet. A bottom pinched black and blue she could stand, but to be accused of being a loose woman. Before she even thought her hand flashed out and slapped him smartly across the face. "How dare you suggest that we are... are like her?" She gave the harlot a push forward. "I don't know who told you this saloon was a whorehouse, but they are mistaken."

As Katherine ran out of breath Maggie jumped in. "We run an honest establishment, Sir, and harlots are not welcome. That woman and her, client, are the only customers we had trouble with here tonight and I'll thank you to take your gossip-mongering elsewhere."

Ruby laughed carelessly. She had been called worse things in her life. "You call yourself a reporter? You can't even see what's plain as day in front of your face. You deserve to be slapped again but I won't waste my time. Now Maggie has asked you to leave so I suggest you do so." Ruby leaned in and whispered to him slowly and with an edge to her voice, "And I suggest you do it very quickly..."

"Well, I guess I have all that I need here," Baxter comments. He then rushes towards and out the door, bumping into a few chairs along the way." Morgan Earp suppressing a laugh but a slight smile crosses his face. Maggie then balls up her fists and angrily stomps over towards the harlot Suzie Foreman.

Earp steps between them and tells the young woman. "I sense that Mrs. Whipple would like you gone as well. But stick around town for the trial, we'll need you as a witness. You should leave now." Suzie replies "My things upstairs..." "Will be lying in the back alley in morning!" Maggie yells out. Suzie hurries out the door.

Earp turns back towards Jake, Katherine and Ruby and says "Now, it would be helpful if you could please tell me each of your names and if I could get a statement from each of you ladies as to what you saw?"

"I'm Mrs. Katherine Kale," she paused for a moment. It seemed strange to say Mrs. when Tom was gone.
"I'm afraid there's not much I can tell you that will be helpful. Job and Jake went to the kitchen, and when they came back Job went upstairs and Jake sat down to take over his table. I was on my way over with a tray of drinks when Jake held up a card with a hole through it. He called another break and went upstairs."

Morgan Earp’s reaction upon hearing the name “Katherine Kale” only lasts for a split second but is noticed by Ruby. His mouth opened slightly and his eyes went wide. Jake simultaneously observed the man’s body stiffen up. Earp immediately regains his composure and turns his head away from Katherine and towards Ruby.

Katherine stopped and looked for Mrs. Whipple. "Could I have a whiskey?" She turned back to the Marshall who is now facing Ruby and says to him. "A few moments later we heard a gunshot and Ruby and I ran upstairs. All I could see was the harlot hiding in the closet trying to cover herself with a sheet. Jake was crouched down by the doorway. There was another shot that hit the doorframe, and then a shot I heard but couldn't see. Someone cried out inside the room though. After that there was just talking and Jake and Job brought the man out a minute later. Ruby and I kept an eye on the woman and brought her down. That's all I can tell you, Ruby might have seen a bit more."

"Ruby West, Mr. Earp." Ruby says offering her hand, but Earp ignores it and acts like he is no longer paying attention to anything being said in the room. Ruby still continues, "My story is the same as Katherine's except I was singing from the stage when I saw Jake go upstairs. You should come and watch the show sometime... Anyway, I'm just glad it's over and hopefully it won't be long until Job is back here with us."

Waiting politely for the ladies to finish speaking to Earp, Jake nods his head and says, "Jake Cook." He puts his hat back on his head, thrusts his hands in his pockets and says nothing else. Earp pivots around and looks at him. Jake notices a line of perspiration developing on Earp’s forehead. Jake also recognizes the look in Earp’s eyes as one of genuine fear.

Earp then breaks eye contact with Jake and turns around. He tells Tom Whipple “I’d better be heading over to Doc Eaton’s to check on Keach. Have Kane to come over to my office whenever he’s ready.” Earp then hurries out the door and doesn’t bother to shut it behind him.
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Silver Moon

Chapter Twelve, “The Dwarven Prospector”, January 5th, 1882,

Even as she was telling her story to Earp, Katherine's mind was back on the train platform in Tombstone. Colby Tucker was talking. "I knew it was you, ma'am, Tom said his girl'd be the prettiest one on the train." She could smile at the comment now, it was the kind of thing he would have said.

A strange state of disconnection settled on her. She remembered the sweet way Tom had courted her with notes and flowers, picnics and walks in the park, the joy of the first night of their marriage. Kate smiled gently even as she shook off her reverie. It happened less and less often, and now was more likely to bring a smile than tears, but now was not the time to be absent.

Earp was gone, and Ruby was saying, ""Did anyone bedsides me think something is up with Earp?""

"His manners are a little lacking, not taking your hand and all. He sure wasn't brought up in Philadelphia." Jake remarked. "Katherine, be a sweet heart go have Maggie bring three of those whiskey's instead of just one for you. Thanks much."

Yes, she could certainly use that whiskey. Mrs. Whipple was pouring it just as she arrived. Katherine quickly drank it and had her pour another one before she carried them back over to Jake and Ruby.

Jake then says quietly to Ruby, "I don't want to get Katherine all riled up or anything, but our Mr. Earp certainly wasn't happy meeting Mrs. Kale. Not Katherine mind you, but the wife of Thomas Kale." Jake rubs his beard a moment and sees Katherine returning. He whispers quickly, "I wonder if that Chumbley half pint is around or some other folks that may have some background in Tombstone. Something is not right here. Either foul about Mr. Kale's demise or perhaps something that Katherine was cheated after her husbands passing. Ruby, I have a feeling that you are pretty good out gathering information that folks perhaps didn't mean to give away." He stops talking and smiles as Katherine returns.

Jake took one of the glasses. "Here is to you two ladies. You're made of much tougher stuff than your pretty faces would let on."

Katherine threw back the second whiskey. It might not be true of her yet, but she would learn. Apparently gunfights were something she would just have to get used to.

Tom Lucky and Jeff Mills return from the Doc's, saying that Marvin Keach will be okay, the bullet having missed the bone and the major blood vessels.

Just after finishing drinks with Ruby and a pensive Jake says "I need some fresh air." and pushes away from the table. He says his good nights but manages to get close to Ruby and talk in a low voice when the others are looking away.

"I'm going to go hang around the Marshall’s office until they take Job over. Sometimes guilt makes a body do funny things. People are predictable, and when they are under stress they often need to talk. And when people talk, you never know what they are going to say. I'll stay out of trouble. I'll just listen outside his office if I can." Famous last words he thinks to himself.

"We ought to find someone who is good at following our good Marshall around without him knowing if we need to." Jake muses out loud.

"Nanuet. Let's talk to him." Suggests Ruby

Jake departs. Job Kane arrives downstairs a few minutes later. His bag is all packed and is ready to go and Tom Lucky offers to walk with him to the Marshall's Office. Everyone else decides to call it a night. Tom and Maggie thank everyone for their help. Despite the early closing time Tom estimates that they made more money this night than he normally would in a week. Ruby empties her tips cup, which she will later count out to total $ 14.26 (plus a room key to Room #18 at the Palace Saloon).

On the subject of Nanuet, a few hours earlier he had an unsettled look on his face as he heard the prospectors answer to the simple question, being informed that the dwarf’s partner is no longer among the living.

"He is one of many lately who have met that fate. How did your partner meet his end?" the Indian says, trying his wood elf accent. Nanuet has thought much about death in the last few days. His desire for revenge that burned in him for so long was now quenched and replaced with the feeling of remorse. His foolishness had brought the death of an innocent, someone noble enough to help him in his cause so that his desire for vengeance would be gone, someone who preached peace. Death was becoming too common for his liking.

"I hope it was peaceful." he added quietly. The old dwarf looks at Nanuet and says, “No, it wasn’t peaceful. I found him lying dead out by our claim. He had been stabbed a couple of times in the back. Of course around these parts they call that ‘natural causes’.”

Nanuet thinks twice about getting involved with this. What he had come here for was done and over with. Then he thought about the folks who had helped him and it seemed that they would be sticking around for awhile, so against his initial judgement he speaks:

"Any idea who would have done this? Is there a disagreement about your claim or did your friend start trouble with anyone lately? I am interested in hearing the details." Nanuet says as he pulls the chair closer and then motions for the serving girl to get them something to drink.

Flint says "Nobody would'a wanted our claim. Whole thing was a waste of money I tell'ya. Last year we bought us a whole hill near here and have been digging ever since. Ain't found one ounce of silver. Pete headed over there early this morning and I said I'd join him in a bit. Never expected to find him like that.

And we ain't got any enemies at all. We just keeps to ourselves. Slept on the hill in a tent at first but come November it started getting chilly at night and Pete's arthritis started to bother him so we got the room here. Maybe we should have stayed in the tent, and then at least I'd have been there with him.

Don't know why anyone would want to hurt either of us. Nobody ever had any interest in our hill. The only folks we ever saw near there lately were a bunch of ranchers on a cattle drive that came by yesterday morning. But they seemed like a friendly enough bunch. Called themselves the Cartwright family. They was taking 200 head of cattle up to some big ranch they owned near Lake Tahoe, Nevada."

Nanuet speaks a little louder as he stands up

"Sounds like there is something missing from this puzzle. I think I am going to head over there first thing in the morning. Duncan, Chow, got any feelings about this? I am not sure how soon the others will return but I am not waiting up for them. I want to get an early start on this tomorrow. Of course Flint, that is unless you object."

After the conversation Nanuet takes one last gulp of his drink and heads upstairs to his room. On his way he sees Sonoma out of the corner of his eyes and watches her closely as she goes about her work. "I am a lonely man." Nanuet says solemnly to himself as he pulls his eyes off of the lovely wood elf. He slowly continues the climb up the stairs to his room.

Nanuet falls into a restless slumber and he dreams of a windswept plain

Before him stands the centaur, dark hair flowing behind her

"You are lonely because you choose to be lonely. Your path has crossed many who would seek to be your friends. Choose well. Remember to see what others miss for they do not know what to look for. Open yourself to the possibility of the powers and the people around you. It is time for you to release the past anger so that you may move beyond it. For now rest, interesting times are ahead of you."

She wheels on her hind legs and fades into the winds that cross the plains.

Nanuet slips into a deep and restful sleep and awakens in the morning with a vivid memory of his vision and a single blue wampum bead in his hand.

Silver Moon

Chapter Thirteen, “Morning Conversations”, January 6th, 1882, 9:30 A.M.

Jake, Ruby, Katherine and Nanuet sit down at a table for breakfast at the El Parador Cantina and Hotel. Nanuet looks well rested as he joins Katherine, Ruby and Jake for the morning meal. He occasionally plays with a blue bead in his hand. He says, "Anything interesting happen last night? We heard that one of the prospectors was murdered out by his claim. I figured on investigating that today unless something more important came up."

Katherine replies, "We had a little trouble with a harlot who set herself up in the Lone Star last night, but I think it'll come out all right. Mrs. Whipple was very upset. Ruby pulled in all sorts of business last night though. The crowd loved her." Katherine smiled across the table at Ruby. 'We have a little errand to run this morning, but after that we're free. But isn't a murder a matter for the Marshall?"

He replies, "It usually is, but Flint, the dwarven prospector, seemed like the local law didn't care much about it. Made a half-hearted joke about it being considered natural causes. Is your errand personal, or can I give you a hand? I think it is time for me to stop hiding out here and see how my new looks work around town."

As Katherine and Nanuet are talking Ruby sees her chance to get Jake alone. "I think I'd like a walk. Jake, will you be a gentleman and accompany me?" she asks. The both depart

Katherine tells Nanuet, "I can't figure out the law in this town. It seems as if they pick and choose when they want to enforce it. But I suppose it won't do any harm to go take a look. You're welcome to come along with Ruby and I this morning. We just need to pick up some books and food for a friend. One of the gamblers at the Lone Star got into a gunfight taking care of that harlot problem. He has to stay in jail until the judge arrives to clear it up and he asked us to bring him a few things."

After they exit the El Parador Ruby and Jake walked down the street casually walking. She comments, "I've been thinking about what you said last night, about me being good at getting information and all. The truth is you're right. But I came here to try to stay out of trouble and I don't seem to be doing too good a job of it." Ruby pauses then continues. "But Kate has been a good friend to me and I know something is up and I want to help her. She deserves to know if there was some foul play with her husband. So, what did you find out last night at the Marshall’s office? And where do you think I should start looking for information? Chumbley?"

He replies "No luck, Ruby, Earp didn't say anything interesting or incriminating that I could hear." Jake is quiet for a moment. Then he says, "Folks like you and me..." Again he pauses, "No, that ain't right. Look, I gave up trying to stay out of trouble long ago. It never seemed to work for me. Instead I just try and choose my trouble more carefully, and get better at not getting caught." He smiles weakly and shrugs his shoulders. "I guess I won't try and make a living giving out advice."

"Either way I'm in, Katherine is a sweet heart and folks like her don't deserve to be dealt that kind of hand. I don't really know this town very well either. I only thought of Chumbley because he is from Tombstone, his mouth works without stopping, and usually doesn't get what he is tellin' folk. Any folks from Tombstone might do. Maybe even the local paper man, he doesn't seem to like Earp and the Tombstone folks. Maybe I'll talk to Baxter, I think you got him afraid of you already." He laughs. "Besides, I think a cheap bottle of whiskey and two dirty glasses is all it will take to make him talk. I've got to get to the bank soon, so we only have a few minutes. Unless you have a better idea I'll find a way to have drinks with Baxter tonight. What are you thinking?"

Jake and Ruby continue west down South Street. They pass by a well-dressed gentleman who gives them a dirty look before heading into the Great Western Boarding House, across the street from the El Parador.
They continue onward. A plump woman in a calico dress is sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of the Promise City Hotel and Cafe. She yells out to them "Best breakfast in town, only a nickel."

Ruby glances around nonchalantly and in answer to his makes sure no one is close enough to the two of them to hear and says, “Well, we might be able to find Chumbley here. He should make a good source of information. Otherwise we make a trip to Tombstone? Katherine is pretty smart she might figure something out if we do that. I guess you should try to talk to that sleazy Baxter guy. He looks like the kind that all it takes is a drink and he doesn’t shut up.”

Jake replies, "Let's see what we can find out here before we go heading off to Tombstone."

“Might be more dangerous but I could go and talk to Earp. He is a man after all and like you said, I am good at getting people to say things they didn’t mean to.” Ruby ends with a sly smile. “Katherine has been a real good friend to me, we have to help her. But I’m not sure we should get her involved in this. Although she is a lot tougher than she thinks she is. One thing I know… she’ll be mad when she finds out what we are up to if we leave her out.”

Jake looks up and down the street before looking back at Ruby. "Right now we are guessing, and perhaps being overprotective. I say if we get any real facts we let Katherine in on it. It's not like I want to lie to her, but why tear her heart up on our suspicions? Perhaps you ought to see what else you can find out around town before heading after the big guy. I agree, it could be dangerous." And he thinks to himself, “not like that'd slow her down I bet.”

Ruby steps in close to Jake and looks him right in the eyes. “Remember that story you told me and Kate about you growing up? Well I have one just like it. And normally I’m pretty good at not getting caught but some things you just can’t help. That’s why I’m here actually. Besides there are some things about me even you might not like.” With that Ruby steps back a little and holds something up in front of him. When Jake focuses on it he recognizes it. It’s his wallet.

"Heh." Jake smiles a little and takes off his hat. He looks a little embarrassed and holds out his hat. Ruby drops the wallet in it. "Lucky for you I lose all my money at the poker table or that'd be a felony." There is one time I shouldn't have been watchin' the eyes so closely he thinks to himself. I almost wish she kept it, I wonder if she would've noticed me stealing it back?

Jake finishes, "I didn't get to talk privately to Nanuet about tailing Earp. Think about that and if you decide to let him in on it tell me after I get out of here." He points behind him at the bank with his thumb. "If you do decide on something really risky, for gods sakes let someone know."

She replies, “You’d better get out of here, you’re gonna be late for the bank.” Ruby pauses then says, “You know, Kate and I would feel much better if you were working at the Lone Star. Someone to watch out for us, you know? Maybe I could talk to Tom, if you were interested I mean. Anyway, I’ve got some stuff to do with Kate. I’ll try to talk to Nanuet too. Have a good first day. Oh and Jake, be careful. Banks aren’t the safest places to work.”

"I'm fine, I'm fine." Jake says laughing. "You make it sound like my first day of school. We can talk about all that tonight. Bye." Ruby heads back to the others and Jake walks over to the bank. Ruby watched Jake walk away. She was worried about him. But why should she be? She didn't really know him or any of the others really, except Kate. They had spent a good amount of time together. Ruby guessed they jut found each other at a time when they both needed a friend.

Back inside the El Parador, Katherine asks Dorita if she knows where to purchase a book in town. The Cantina owner says that her grandfather is an avid reader and would know. She goes to get him. The elderly wood elf soon joins them.

He says to Katherine and Nanuet "My little bird tells me you want to find a book. I love to read and am proficient in a number of languages, but I seldom have the money to afford books. I buy most books from the Papago Cash Store up on Fremont Street. They sell second-hand books for a quarter and will buy them back from me for a dime once I'm finished with them. They usually do not have many. Last year on my birthday I bought myself a new book at Lacey's General Store over on Allen Street. They had a selection of fifteen to twenty new books, but they charge seventy-five cents to a dollar for each."

She replies, "Thank you, that sounds like just what I'm looking for. If you're interested, I have a few books upstairs that you're welcome to read. I don't know what you like, of course, but I have a couple books of history, one on chemistry, and several books of stories and novels. I'd be glad to share them with you."

Katherine turned back to Nanuet. "Will it be a far ride? If it is I should go change into something appropriate for riding, and I can fetch a couple books for our friend." He answers, "No, I don't believe the ride is far at all. I think we need to take a step back and get our ducks in a row though. Jake and Ruby stepped out I see, hopefully not for long. Once they get back we can talk about what we plan on doing. Certainly we can take care of your errand first."

"I'm sure they'll be back in a moment." Katherine smiled to herself. Those two had been awfully thick with each other last night and this morning. It was none of her business of course, but she'd begun to suspect they might be sweet on each other."
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Silver Moon

Chapter Fourteen, “First Day on the Job”, January 6th, 1882, 10:00 A.M.

Jake arrives at the bank. The front door is still locked and he knocks. The door has a small glass window with metal bars covered over by a curtain on the inside. The curtain is drawn back and a man looks out. "You Silver Jake Cook?" the man asks. Jake indicates that he is. The door is opened and a man ushers him inside.

"About time you showed up. I'm Morgan Condon, co-owner of this bank. My brother Frank hired you. We have a few minutes until we open up so I'll show you around. Glad to have you here, as Frank and I have been doing double duty for the past two weeks since our last guard got shot."

Jake stops at that and gives the bank owner a stare. He says, "Oh, it didn't happen here. He had a run in with the new Sheriff over at the Comique Variety Hall and Saloon. Doc Eaton say's he'll live but will always walk with a limp. Can't have us a lame guard, looks too inviting."

A man with a nervous facial tick interrupts "Mr. Condon, it's ten o'clock." Condon replies, "Then we open a little late. I'm showing our new guard the secrets of the place. Can't be having customers around to hear that."

The man walks away and Condon says "That's Scott Taylor, our Head Teller. During the robbery last summer the James Gang held him and his wife Mona hostage at their home. Mona worked as a housekeeper for me and my brother and the James boys forced her at gunpoint to show'em where the safe was in the house. They really outsmarted us on that one. We heard they was in the neighborhood and had moved most of the bank's money to our home figuring it would be safer. So instead of hitting the bank they robbed our home. Lost us a small fortune on that one."

He points to another guy and says "That's Bruce Maxwell, our Junior teller. Only other employee is our part-time maintenance man Danby Jones, but he ain't around right now. You've actually met him before, he worked on the same riverboat as you a few years back. He vouched for your honesty, otherwise we wouldn't have hired you." He shows Jake where two loaded rifles and two loaded shotguns are stored for easy access by employees but out of the sight and reach of customers.

"Come on, let me show you the vault." They head out back and he unlocks a large walk-in vault with shelves lined with bags. "We keep the money in here." There's always one open money bag for the tellers for easy access, but the rest of these bags are all dummies, with a few real bills on top and there rest dummy money, mostly confederate bills. There's a false floor under our feet and the bags of real money are beneath the floorboards. Wish we'd just kept it here last summer, ah well, live and learn." They return to the front and the doors are unlocked.

A few customer have entered and are conducting transactions with the tellers. Condon calls him aside to answer any questions that Jake might have about the job. "So Mr. Condon, besides you and your brother I am the only guard? Condon replie “‘Fraid so, can't afford more than one. Pretty light work week though, as we're only open four days a week and we don't open until ten and close at three, although we'll want you to stick around after that until we've finished the day's counting and closed up the vault, which shouldn't take more than an hour most days.”

Jake then asks, “And what do you do for security after hours?" Condon replies, That's what the vault is for. One of the finest models that the Harrisburg Safe Company ever built. And with the brick building, and bars on all windows, getting into this building wouldn't be a easy task. Plus with the Indian Head Saloon next door there are always people around to spot troublemakers.

Jake then inquires of him. "Am I supposed to be noticeable and clear to all that I am the guard? And although you have weapons stored for use, you don't mind me carrying my own in addition do you?" To which Condon answers, “Frank wouldn't have hired you unless you had one. Make yourself visible. The fact that you're a stranger in town will only help.”

"And excuse me for being the curious type, but would you mind answering two other questions? Did you ever find out how the James Gang knew to look at your house for the money? Condon replies, “Inside job. Their cousin Cleatus James had lived here for the year before that and showed them where to go.”

Jake then asks “What exactly did you last guard do to cross the Sheriff?" Condon replies “He made the mistake of making a joke about Doc Holiday getting shot down by Arcade's Gang. Holiday was a friend of the Earps and Wyatt has a quick temper. I'd suggest you avoid him if you can.”

Meanwhile, six miles southeast of Promise City, halfway between it and Galeyville, Alison Caine is thinking to herself “Why did I ever agree to this?” Over the sound of her horse’s hoofs along the dirt road she listened up and still heard the annoying chatter of the little man seated behind her on the saddle:

“…for a Galeyville edition, but I only managed to sell nine papers and two of them were to you and your mysterious friend….never did get his name…you’ll have to tell me more about him sometime….so I told my editor I would see if these other towns had enough opportunity….not surprised that Galeyville didn’t pan out, given how little silver has come from it as of late….maybe I should check out the town of Dos Cabezas next, heard it’s almost as big as Promise City although about half of the folks there speak Spanish on they may not want to buy a paper written in English.”

Alison tuned him out again and went back to her thoughts. She was relieved to find out that Arcade’s Gang had been blamed for the Comstock House altercation instead of them. In fact, Chumbley even believed O’Dell when he said he knew nothing about it, said that he and Al bought the horse and left for Galeyville first thing that morning. How this little man could claim to be a reporter and be so unobservant was something Al couldn’t understand, but she wasn’t going to object to her good fortune.

But this current predicament, she asked herself again “Why did I agree to take him back? Must have been for the money, yeah that must be way.” O’Dell said for her to go on, and that he may or may not catch up with her later. No big surprise there, given how much he disliked the halfling. Did this Chumbley even realize how fortunate he was to have survived both of his encounters with Black Isaac O’Dell?

Silver Moon

Chapter Fifteen, “Buying Books”, Friday, January 6th, 1882, 10:00 A.M.

Ruby had walked back into the Cantina. Kate was talking to the old elf. Ruby walked up to them, "Ready to go Kate? How about you Nanuet? Busy today or are you ready to go and about in town?"

Yes, I'm ready." Kate turned back to the wood-elf. "We can talk again later today."

"Let's go brighten up Job's day. I rather think he gave us too much money though. From what our friend here says we can get him more books and food than he could use in a week." Katherine folded her napkin back up and laid it neatly on the table, humming softly under her breath. Her heart felt very light today. What an odd feeling happiness was.

"I am ready" Nanuet says after drinking the last of his coffee. "I guess while we are out getting books and sundries we can discuss which direction we are heading next." Nanuet is still nervous about his disguise. He has been practicing his wood elf accent but it is still quite rough. He looks and acts slightly nervous while gathering his few things and getting ready to head out on the errands.

The old wood elf, Manuel Gonzales, says that all of those texts sound interesting. Katherine brings him three books to which he is very grateful and says with a smile "This is wonderful, thank you so much. Perhaps later this day there is something that I can do for you in return."

Nanuet, Katherine and Ruby exit the El Parador and head down South Street and then turn north onto Allen Street. They had already known the location of Lacey's General Store, as it is behind the Lone Star Dance Hall and Saloon and the two establishments share the same outhouse in the alleyway between the two buildings.

They enter the good-sized single-story clapboard structure. The store occupies the front of the building, the back partitioned off as the living quarters for the owner, who introduces himself as Judge Lacey. He is an older man with white hair and mutton-chops. A wool union army uniform is proudly diplayed upon the wall along with a framed written citation recognizing "Lieutenant Lacey for his bravery during the battle at Mechanicsville on June 27, 1862".

The building is well stocked with assorted clothing, dry goods, tools, tack and other general store staples. Katherine inquires about books and he brings her and her companions over to a bookcase on the far wall. He says, "Only place in town to get new books. All of these are fairly recent. Prices start at seventy-five cents and go up to a dollar-fifty except for the new first edition by Tennyson which goes for three bucks."

The first four books on the shelf are histories, all with 1881 publication dates. They are: Story of the Persian War by A. Church; A civil war book titled The Outbreak of the Rebellion by John G. Nicolay; another civil war book titled The Peninsula by Alexander S. Webb; and Our Martyred President: Life and Public Services of James A. Garfield by the Honorable George B. Loring.

There are three books of poetry, again all published within the past year. They are Poetical Works of John Greenleaf Whittier; Farm Festivals by Will Carleton; and the aforementioned first edition of The Song of the Brook by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

There are several works of fiction the first being a new illustrated edition of Sir Walter Scott's classic Waverley or Tis Sixty Years Since; Two volumes of the series The Works of Shakespeare Revised Edition with Additional Notes by H. N. Hudson The first of these is Volume IV: Winter's Tale, Comedy of Errors, Macbeth, King John. and the other is Volume X Cymbeline, Titus Andronicus, Pericles, King Lear. Next is Homer; edited By Ambrosio Firmin-Didot. The Iliad and The Odyssey: Two Volumes in Greek And Latin. The large book is over 600 pages, with the Greek on the left side pages and the corresponding test on the right in Latin; Next is an illustrated 1878 edition of Woodstock or the Cavalier: A Tale of the Year Sixteen Hundred and Fifty-one, by Sir Walter Scott; the last fiction volume is The Adventures of the Ingenious Gentleman, Don Quixote De La Mancha by Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra from the translation of Motteux with sixteen original illustrations by L. Hopkins.

Next are four children's books, an illustrated The Thousand and One Nights of the Arabian Nights; a 1879 illustrated translation of Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen; a illustrated book On The Edge of Winter by Richard Markham and Harper’s School Geography 1881.

The last book is an 1881 science volume titled Manual of Mineralogy and Lithology: The Elements of the Science of Minerals and Rocks by James D. Dana.

Katherine quickly pulls the Tennyson volume and the Volume IV of Shakespeare down for herself. Poetry was not something she had expected to find, and although she didn't expect a run on it, she wasn't going to take the chance of coming back later to find them gone.

There were a few other things in the General Store that she had her eye on. She should get herself a pair of good boots. The shoes she'd brought from the East wouldn't do if she was going to be going out investigating. New riding clothes too. She'd brought hers of course, but they were designed for pleasure riding, not hard wear.

"Well, Ruby, what do you think Job would like? I think he'd enjoy the Sir Walter Scott stories. Do you think he'd like the poetry or the war histories?" Ruby gets a little uncomfortable at the question. "Well, um, I'm not really that great at that stuff Katherine. Maybe you should pick out the books..."

Kate waited a moment to answer. She didn't know Job any better than Ruby. "If you like. Why don't you take care of the food then while I look these over?"

She decided to leave back the civil war books, but took Story of the Persian War. She also selected Woodstock or the Cavalier and Don Quixote de la Mancha. If he was interested in poetry she would leave the Shakespeare for him to borrow. Just for fun she picked the Arabian Nights. There was a lot of heavy reading and something light might make him smile.

After she made her selections Katherine sought out the store owner. "Judge Lacey? I wonder if you could help me with a few other things. I need some good stout boots and two pairs of riding pants, all in black. Also, I think I need one of the hats the men wear to keep the sun off their heads, also in black. Is that possible?"

Judge Lacey has everything that she asked for in stock and the boots are a good fit. The pants however are a tad large, but they're a wool/cotton blend so they'll shrink once they're washed. The total comes to $ 21.00. He wraps up the purchases in a three week old copy of the Promise City Herald and ties it with some twine. He thanks her for the business and adds "By chance would you happen to be the owner of that lovely voice from next door that I've been hearing through my bedroom window the last few nights?"

She replies "Oh, I only wish I could sing like that. The voice belongs to my friend Ruby. Right over there, with the red hair." Katherine waves over to where Ruby is looking over the foodstuffs. "Most nights are much quieter than last night. You should come over and see the show. I'm sure you'd enjoy it. She dances as beautifully as she sings."

Lacey replies, "Wish I could, but I promised my Ezra on her deathbed that I'd never set foot in a saloon again. And a promise is a promise. But do tell your lovely friend I'll be sure to set aside something special for her is she remembers to please keep the windows open on the northern side of the Saloon during her performances."

Katherine unconsciously smoothes the black fabric of her dress. "Yes, it's important to keep those promises." She paused a moment and fiddled with her packages. "I'll be sure to tell Ruby, but I believe you'll be able to ask her yourself. She has some purchases to make."

"Decent food, decent food, what would I want to eat if I was in jail?" thought Ruby. She looked over the foodstuffs and picked out a variety of things. She didn't know what Job would like nor did she ever want to know what kind of food would be appropriate for a jail cell. She hoped they would treat him well there and that he would be back at the Saloon soon.

Even though she didn't know him that well Ruby liked him. He had been extra nice to her on her first few days there. Plus now that he was gone and Jake would be working at the bank there would be less people keeping an eye on things at the Saloon. Last night had been rowdy but could have been so much worse.

Ruby walked up to the front of the store and haphazardly pushed the food onto the counter. Katherine was already finished with her purchases and was waiting.

Judge Lacey was finishing calculating the total when Ruby remembered something she wanted to get. "Hold on a sec!" she said as she ran off. When she returned she had a book in her hand. She sheepishly pushed Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen onto the counter. Shrugging she said "I always liked fairy tales."

Judge Lacey gives her a smile and says "Nothing to be embarrassed about, I do too. My Ezra was never much of a reader, so I was always the one to read to our young'ins. Always took a liking to the Fairy Tales by Andersen which is why I bought this copy when I saw it. Beautifully translation by Mrs. H. B. Paull and specially adapted and arranged for young people with original illustrations. Had it for a few years now, as there wasn't any demand for it.

So I was told by your friend that you are the owner of the voice that I've been hearing for the past three or four nights. Your serenade is the prettiest thing I've heard in years. If you remember to keep the windows facing my building open during your performances you can have that book with my compliments."

He charges her $ 2.00 for her other purchases which he wraps in newspaper and ties up in twine. When he passes Ruby the bundle his hands touch hers and lets them linger there for a few seconds before withdrawing them.

Silver Moon

Chapter Sixteen “The Bank”, January 6th, 1882:

Meanwhile, over at Condon's Bank, the maintenance man arrives. He is indeed the same 'Scarface Jones' that Jake remembered from a couple of months of gambling on a riverboat along the Mississippi River. The man wore a scar across his face from a Civil War injury. The man grabbed a broom from the corner and waited until a moment when there were no customers around to sweep out the door any dirt that had been tracked in that morning.

Jones then puts the broom back and heads over to talk to Morgan Condon. Condon tells him "beef stew today" and hands him a dollar. Jones then heads up to the tellers. Taylor says "Sounds good, make that two". Maxwell says "Fried chicken if they have it, otherwise I'll have the stew too." Jones then approaches Jake, winks at him, and says "Hey Silver Dollar, I'm going to go pick up lunch, what'ya want?"

Jake forces a broad smile on his face. "I'll take the beef stew, thanks. Small world isn't it? You look well enough. We'll have to talk later and catch up on things."

During the day Jake will try and get a few minutes with either of the Condon brothers and get their opinions and what they know about the lawmen in town, and if they are to be trusted in a real tough situation at the bank.

Three miles away Alison has reached a small bridge over a stream. From here the road turned from westward to northwest as it continues in the notch between the Dos Cabezas and Chirichuau mountain ranges. "Short break," she says as she stops to water her horse. Much to her surprise the halfling stops talking altogether and lies down in the shade under a tree, pulling the brim of his top hat over his eyes for a short nap.

At the streams edge was evidence of recent visitors, with hoofprints of several dozen animals. Manure left behind looks very fresh and hasn't attracted many flies yet. She concluded that cattle left most of the tracks, with only three sets of shoed horses. Instead of sticking to the road the tracks continue to the southeast and into the Chirichuau Mountains.

Back at the bank a short while later, Jake is beginning to find the job a little on the boring side. It has been a while since Scarface Jones headed off for the food, and while it is still a tad early for lunch, Jake would at least welcome the change in the routine.

While pacing the bank, Jake meticulously examines all parts of the building imagining a gun battle and looking for the best and worst places to be. Where to be if they are in the doorway. What windows could they shoot from? What if they moved towards the tellers’ window? How hard would it be to vault and tumble over the counter to the rifles? And in each spot would he be better with a rifle, shotgun or his reliable Colt. His stomach grumbled a bit which reminded him of lunch. "Danby Jones indeed." He mutters under his breath, and as an after thought looked around to make sure no one heard him. Old 'Scarface' probably stole Condon's dollar. It almost made him laugh out loud.

During the day Jake also surreptitiously examines the weapons under the counter and counted the extra ammo. Shaking his head slightly he commits to himself to clean those after the doors are locked and he is waiting for the tellers to finish up. Hopefully I'll be fortunate enough to never need those he thinks, but let's reduce the odds of a jam at an inopportune time. Jake is always working the odds.

Danby Jones finally returns to the bank with the food. As he brings the small crock pot of beef stew over to Condon the bank manager tells him "Don't think I'll be needing you any more today." Jones brings the food to both tellers then approaches Jake and hands him lunch. Jones says rather loudly "Well, I guess I'll be getting back to my other job at the Livery stable". He then whispers to Jake " Easy pickings huh Silver Dollar. Let's meet at a saloon tonight to plan this out."

"Thanks, Danby, I was starving." Jake forces another smile, and doesn't react to his whisper.

Yesterday I was trying to figure out how I was going to keep busy; Jake muses to himself while eating lunch. Tonight will be just another boring night; get Baxter loose-lipped drunk, visit Job in jail, listen to that fool Jones and his bank robbery plans, and run a poker game at the Saloon. Oh, right and I'll bet Ruby will have something cooked up as well. And Hermes help me, but I have a suspicion that won't be all. "I guess I'll get stinking drunk tomorrow night instead." He says under his breath. "What was that Jake?" Says Frank?

"Uh, I got some stew on my neckerchief, and uh, I think I have a clean one in my travelling trunk next to my bed." Damn this Promise City, Silver Jake Cook thinks while swallowing a mouthful of stew. It's got me talking to myself.

Al Caine rode most of the way with her hat pulled down almost over her eyes, a scowl fixed on her face. She regretted waking the damned halfling now - she was tired and mad, and Chumbley withering in her ear for what seemed like hours on end wasn't helping. “God damn,” Al thought to herself as the halfling chattered. “Does he never stop?”

Finally, though, she guided the horse to a halt in the middle of town and swung herself off the horse. She threw her hat onto the saddle, and clumsily helped the halfling to the ground. "Okay," she said curtly. "Pay up." He handed her the promised $ 3.00, which was hardly worth it for all of the aggravation. Then again, she was planning to come back this way anyhow, so why not profit from it.

Silver Moon

Chapter Seventeen, “Judge Lacey”, January 6th, 1882:

Nanuet stands outside the general store keeping an eye on the horses. He has a way with animals, even more so than most ranchers or cowboys. He breathes the morning air in deeply, toying with a blue wampum bead in his hand.

His reaches for his purse, thinking about how light it is. "I need a horse, but I need to make sure my room is settled, especially considering all they have done for me. Hopefully the smelter will be fixed tomorrow and I can get back to work." he thinks to himself. "What is taking them so long?" he wonders. "Food and books shouldn't take this much time. Rich lady must be buying stuff."

After quickly checking that the horses are tied up tight Nanuet wanders into the store looking around for his companions. Immediately his eye is drawn to expertly crafted dreamcatcher hanging on the wall. He makes his way over to it and reaches for it slowly, recognizing the pattern. It is one used by his tribe for many years.

"How did you get this?" Nanuet asks in a firm tone as he spins toward the counter where Ruby is exchanging money for her packages with the shopkeeper. "Hey, don't you touch that! It ain't for sale!" Lacey yells at Nanuet. Nanuet turns from the display and heads towards the counter trying to listen to what Judge Lacey is saying:

Lacey had turned back to Ruby and says "That there item was Ezra's. She was given it by an Indian sub-chief after she helped his wife birth out a child. Supposed to bring good luck. Can't say it's helped us that much, what with Ezra catching the flu and dying. Almost lost my store back in Tuscon once because of it too. That was back when Cochise was making war with the ranches and a drunk threatened to burn my place down for being an 'Injun Lover'."

Nanuet quickly remembers that he is dressed as a wood elf now and hopes that the comment about his tribe may be overlooked. "My condolences about Ezra. Actually it is supposed to protect children from nightmares. It stops the bad dreams." Nanuet states, interrupting the conversation. "I recognize the pattern, it caught my eye. Why do you keep it if it has brought you so much trouble?"

I keep it 'cause it was Erza's!" Lacey snapped back. "Couldn't bring myself to ever get rid of anything she cared about. She was the world to me. I was blessed to have gotten to spend my life with her." He sighs and says, "Didn't know how I'd ever get along without her. But I've managed. Figured I'd never find anyone who could take her place in my heart." He then glances towards Ruby and adds "But you never know...."

Nanuet looks over his shoulder at the dreamcatcher again and is certain that it is the same pattern his tribe used. He knows many tribes have shared patterns over the years and this dreamcatcher appears has been around for a few years so it could have come from a few different places, but something about it makes him think of home.

"I meant no disrespect. It is a wonderful item and I hope it serves its purpose for you." Nanuet says and then turns to Ruby. "Ms. Ruby, I have a question for you as soon as you are done. I'll carry these packages for you ladies and bring them out to the horses." Nanuet grabs all the packages that Katherine and Ruby have, carry them outside and begins loading their horses with the goods.

Katherine let Nanuet take her packages and then turned away from the counter and tucked herself away behind a shelf. She then reached into her purse and found her handkerchief. It was hard to fight back the tears that threatened, but she would not be caught weeping in public.

She reminded herself of what Judge Lacey had just said. "I was blessed." Kate repeated that to herself. I was blessed, I will manage, and maybe someday I'll love again. Suddenly she smiled even as she sniffed and wondered if Ruby would ever consider a suiter like Judge Lacey.

Ruby tells the man, "Mr. Lacey, I sure am sorry about Erza. She sounds like a wonderful woman. And the dreamcatcher is beautiful I can see why she would have liked it and you would treasure it. And thanks for the book that is awfully sweet of you. I will be sure to keep the window open for you. Any requests maybe?" He replies, "Everything you've sung so far has been wonderful. But if you know "My Dearest Heart" I'd certainly love to hear you sing it."

"Thank you for the compliment, Mr. Lacey, I appreciate it. And you can look forward to hearing your song tonight."
Ruby noticed Katherine step behind a shelf. What was she doing? Ruby walked over closer to the shelf. "Kate are you ready? Nanuet is waiting for us outside. Umm, Katherine?" Ruby starts to peer around the corner of the shelf...

Katherine quickly stuffed the handkerchief back in her bag as Ruby peeked around the corner. "Yes, I'm ready," she said, trying to disguise a sniffle. "I see you have an admirer," she smiled, hoping to distract her as she took her friend's arm. Kate began walking toward the door. "Little bit like a fairy tale, hmm?"

Ruby could tell that Katherine was trying to hide being upset about something. She was usually good at reading people. She didn't want to push her though. She was still getting used to her new life. Ruby laughed. "Fairy Tale? I like to read about them, I don't ever figure on being in one, that's for sure. " She put her hand over Katherine's and started walking out. "So long Mr. Lacey, we'll see you again soon I'm sure." Ruby smiled at him and they walked out.

Nanuet was just finishing packing up the horses. Ruby walked over to him and touched his arm. "You have a question for me?" Ruby asks as she and Katherine walk their horses. They head in the direction of the Promise City Marshall's Office and Jail. Nanuet talks softly and and stammers and mumbles a bit when speaking to Ruby.

"I heard you did good with your singing last night, earned a few tips I guess? I was wondering if you had enough money to lend me so that I might buy a horse. I can pay you back with the job at Breakhart mine. My purse is mightly light right now, I was never good with this paper money. Anyway, not even sure if you have the money or can spare what you do have, but I figured I would ask." She notices that Nanuet is flush and embarrassed, hardly even looking at Ruby as he speaks.

Well Nanuet, we very well can't have you escorting us all around without a horse now can we? Of course we'll get you one. I'm sure you'd be very good at picking out a suitable one. We'll make a stop on our way home then." By the time Ruby and Nanuet finish chatting they have arrived at the Marshall's Office and Jail.
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Silver Moon

Chapter Eighteen, “The Marshall’s Office,” January 6th, 1882:

"Guess I should go back to where I saw the others last," Al Caine thinks. She gets back on her horse and rides down Main Street and turns south onto Freemont. About 75 feet away she sees Katherine, Ruby and some unknown Mexican man walking into the third building on the right.

"Come along now, Meribel," Katherine said softly to her horse, followed up a quick click of the tongue. She watched the horse step up to the hitching post outside the Marshall's office. It wasn't particularly well trained, nor was it of the best stock, but she had proved her mettle when she didn't spook in the gunfight.

After they had married, Tom brought Katherine down to his stables and livery business often, teaching her the finer points of training. Some of the finest families in town got their driving teams and riding horses from Tom. Meribel might not have fit into those stables, but Kate felt the mare was definitely worth training. She patted the horse’s flanks as she finished tying her to the post and removed Job's books from the saddlebags. A moment later the others were ready and she headed inside the jail.

The Promise City Marshall's Office is a one-story brick building. A gun rack with various rifles and shotguns chained to it is situated along the wall near the door. The walls have over a dozen Wanted posters fasted to it. The rest of the room is sparsely furnished, with a large wooden desk and three wooden chairs. A windowless brink annex building consisting of two cells with thick iron bars is attached to the back of the room. Job Kane is in one cell and the man identified as Keach is in the other. Marshall Wyatt Earp is the only other occupant of the building, seated in a chair behind the desk and reading a book.

"Pardon me," she said as they entered. "We have a few things for Mr. Kane." "Bring them over here, I need to inspect them first," Earp replies. He takes each book and holds it by the front and back cover, fanning the pages over the desk to make sure nothing else is inside. He then examines each of the foodstuffs, poking or running a pocketknife through each to ensure that nothing is inside.

Katherine watched as the Marshall checked their purchases. She had thought to ask the Marshall to send her respects to his brother Virgil who had been kind to her in Tombstone, but Wyatt Earp didn't seem the kind of man who was interested in pleasantries.

Outside, Al put her hat back on and tipped it back a little on her head, waiting for Katherine and the others to come out of the Marshall's office again. She wasn't about to go inside there, not with what she'd heard about the Marshall last time she was in town - no siree.

The horse shuffled its feet a little, restless, and Al quieted it with a gentle pat on the shoulder blade and a few words in a low voice. She was restless too. Uneasily, she hopped off the horse and led him towards the building. She could hear voices inside over the sound of his hooves, but not what they were saying. Maybe she should go in there after all. Just to see... She tied the horse, took a deep breath, set her hat at a jaunty angle, and marched into the Marshall's office.

“Mornin', Mrs. Kale, ma'am; Ruby," Al said boldly. "Good to see you both're still in town." This was a surprise to Katherine. She had not ever expected to see Al Caine again. She and O'Dell had taken off as if hell was at their heels after the incident at the boarding house. She prayed O'Dell wasn't outside. It was fine if he was back, but just outside the Marshall's office was a bad place to be. Witnesses had gotten a good look at him. "Good morning, Al," she said casually. "What have you been doing with yourself this morning?"

Wyatt Earp stops inspecting the items and gives the newcomer a stern look, his eyes stopping at the pair of revolvers fastened to her belt. "Who are you?" he exclaims as he begins to move his right hand in the direction of his own gun. Job calls out from inside the cell "Calm down Wyatt, it's just my cousin, Alison Caine, come to pay me a visit." Earp replies, "Fine, just so she takes off her gunbelt and leaves it sitting on my desk. She can then visit'ya as long as she wants."

Right, well now that we're all acquainted..." Ruby grabs the food off Earps desk and brings it to Job in his cell. "I wasn't sure what you'd like, so I got a bit of everything. I have lots of change, if you want we can bring you a bit more every day. I'm sure it gets lonely in here too." Ruby glances over at Earp who is still scowling at Al. "Oh and Katherine picked you out some real nice books. Right Katherine?" "If I may?" Katherine said perfunctorily to Earp as she retrieved the volumes.

She tells Job "I wasn't sure what you liked, so I picked a couple of adventurous novels, a war history, and something a little lighter," she smiled as she slid the books between the bars to Job. "I bought a Shakespeare volume and book of Tennyson's poems myself. If you're interested in those I'll leave them for you to borrow. I doubt you'll make it through all these though. You'll be back with us in no time."

Job Kane thanks both of the ladies for the books and agrees with Katherine's assessment that the ones she brought should be more than enough for him to read during his stay. He speaks softly to the ladies saying, "Don't worry none about me. Wyatt plays the part of the tough guy but I don't think he means me any harm. And his brother Morgan seems like a decent enough fellow. Heck, even this Keach guy is rather mellow now that's he's sobered up. Says he doesn't even remember anything that happened."

He continues to talk to both women for another five minutes. He notices that Al has complied with Earp's request to remove her gunbelt and is now talking to the Marshall. Job then asks the ladies "So, what's the story with my cousin. You had told me she left town?"

"She did," Katherine said quietly. "She left with a man named Isaac O'Dell a few days ago. To be honest I thought she'd gone for good. I'll send her over here to talk to you." Kate reached through the bars and gave Job's hand a quick squeeze. "You'll be out of here in no time." She walked back toward the Marshall's desk and waited for a chance to talk to Al. "We can't stay much longer, but we can wait a minute if you'd like to come with us. Give you a chance to visit with Job."

Nanuet uneasily approaches the wall where he noticed the wanted poster. He tries to spot his face among the many that are hanging here. He is glad to notice that Al didn't seem to recognize him and neither did the Marshall. He also is impressed with how Katherine handled her horse, she also seemed to have a way with animals. Nanuet is happy to remain a wallflower and stay unnoticed during their stay at the Marshall's office.

Nanuet was standing over by the wanted posters. Kate wandered over and looked at them. "I'm sorry we're so slow this morning. But I do feel a bit better having found Al again." She dropped her voice lower. "I don't imagine you expect trouble out at the camp, but one more person with us can't hurt."

Nanuet is the first to notice a quartet of men who ride up to the Marshall's Office. They dismount and tie up their horses alongside those of Katherine, Ruby and Al. They then walk up and enter the now rather crowded building.

The leader of these men is a handsome and rather distinguished looking older gentleman in his late sixties or early seventies. He has white hair and white sideburns and a clean- face. He is wearing a white hat, blue shirt, brown vest, tan pants and boots. Behind him is a man dressed almost entirely in black, with a row of pearl inlay on his black hat. The man looks to be around fifty years old and has a salt-and-pepper beard. Behind him is a man so tall and wide that he barely fits through the door. He looks to be in his late forties has sparkling blue eyes and is clean-. He is wearing a tan shirt and brown leather vest, white hat denim jeans and boots. The final fan is younger, somewhere in his thirties, with long curly brown hair and a tan hat. He is also clean- and the ladies find him to be rather good looking. He is wearing a green shirt, denim jeans and boots.

The leader glances at the star on Earp's shirt and says, "Hello Marshall. My name is Ben Cartwright and these are my sons Adam, Hoss and Little Joe." "I'm Wyatt Earp. What can I do for you?" the Marshall replies. Ben says "We're ranchers up in Nevada. We were on a cattle drive, taking two hundred head from New Mexico up to our ranch. Night before last rustlers made off with around sixty of our cattle. That was around forty miles northwest of here. Yesterday we found a local ranch to watch the rest of the herd for us and we've backtracked the rustlers’ trail, which seems to come near this town. We were wondering if you could give us a hand."

Earp replies, "I don't care much for rustlers, but the crime happened outside of my jurisdiction. Sounds like it could be the work of the Clanton Gang, they operate up and around where your cattle were taken. If they were responsible you should see my brother Virgil, the Marshall in Tombstone, as the Clanton Ranch falls in his jurisdiction.

Your best bet through would be to take this up with the County Sheriff. They can check out crimes anywhere in the county. Just head down Main Street and you'll find the office of Deputy Sheriff Colin Hunter." "Much obliged" Cartwright says. He turns and exits the building followed by his three sons.

The others wish Job Kane well. Before they go he calls his cousin over to him and tells her something the others don't hear. They then leave building and head across the street to the Bar "H" stables. A pair of horses are purchased for Nanuet and Jake for a total of $ 75.00, with another $ 20.00 spent on saddles. Neither the animals and saddles are of very good quality but the owner, Dick Lockmyer explains that "I sold my better ones to you guys earlier in the week. It'll take me a while to get replacements."

Silver Moon

Chapter Nineteen, “The Prospectors’ Claim”, January 6th, 1882:

They then head back to the El Parador. It is now almost noontime and Flint is waiting to take them out to his claim. Flint's mule is all packed up and ready to go. Ruby comments, "Well, I didn't know anything about going out today and I have a few things I have to take care of. I hope you don't mind?" She looks to Nanuet and Flint to make sure no one is offended.

"Oh." Katherine paused a moment. She was sure Nanuet had mentioned it before Ruby and Jake left. But then, the girl's mind may have been on other things. "Well, I could use a ride. I'm not sure what help I'll be but I'll be glad to go out with you, Nanuet, if you like. As long as you don't need me, Ruby." Ruby replies, "No I'll be alright. I'm just doing a few things around town. Boring stuff really."

Al, Flint, Katherine and Nanuet ride their horse out of town heading towards the hills that make up part of the Chiriccahua Mountains to southeast. The ride for the next mile is uneventful. During the short ride out to the claim, Katherine had a chance to relax and confirm her thought that Meribel was worth taking the time to train well. The mare seemed good-tempered and happy to go for a bit of a walk. Kate felt a bit guilty, knowing that it was unlikely she would often have reason to ride far. Perhaps when she visited Tom's resting-place next she would ride instead of taking the stage. It shouldn't be hard to convince some of the others to come along for safety. But she wouldn't be returning to Tombstone for some time yet.

They see a grassy hill in the distance that has been marked off with posts every 20 feet and rope tied between the posts. Handmade wooden signs are hanging from ropes every three or four sections that read "Stay Out - Private" in the common language. Flint says, "That's our claim". As they get closer they see a pair of canvas tents over by a stream running through the property. There are multiple caves dug into the hill, with piles of dirt stacked up outside of the caves. The camp, to her eyes at least, blighted the landscape. It wasn't messy, but the holes and piles of dirt just didn't belong next to the quiet stream. Meribel nickered as she was tied with a long lead to graze and drink the cold, clear water.

He leads them onto the land and they tie up the mounts to a post near the steam, giving them enough rope to allow for movement to graze and drink. He leads the group into a fairly deep cave into the hill and over to a large locked metal trunk. Flint takes out a key and unlocks it. Inside are picks, shovels, spikes, ropes and around a dozen sticks of dynamite. He takes a metal flask out and drinks a swig of it. He then holds it out to the others and says "Dwarven whiskey. Anybody else want some?"

Katherine caught herself just as she was about to say yes. Firstly, he'd just had a drink out of that flask himself. Secondly, she'd been having just a bit too much whiskey lately, and liked it just a bit too much. Not the taste of course, that was vile, but the warmth that spread from just under her heart and up into her head, making the world just a bit softer. "Thanks just the same, but no thank you," she said firmly. She turned to Nanuet. "Where should we start? This is just a bit out of my experience."

Flint takes them out of the cave and walks them around the claim saying, "After silver was discover in the first two mines around the town all of the hills close by were bought up by speculators. We decided to branch out further into unclaimed lands and dug until we found something. We turned up a few nuggets on this hill so decided it was the most promising site. Pooled all of what we had left from mining in California and bought it, a full twenty acres, around fifteen or so taken up by the hill. Hasn't worked out though. We've probably dug up a ton of dirt for every pound of silver ore that's turned up. I don't think we’ve broken even on our expenses, let alone the cost of the land to begin with."

They approach a pile of rock beneath a tree around twenty feet from the stream. "I buried Pete here. This was always his favorite spot on the site. He'd sit here and watch the stream flow by."

He then takes them over to the other side of the hill and comments, "This is where I found him. Knife wound in the back." Nanuet approaches the area and carefully scans the ground. He takes a good look at Flint's boots and then asks "What size and style of boot did Pete wear?" The dwarf replies "Hard work boots, size twelve. Why?" Nanuet says, "There are four different sets of tracks here, and at least one was wearing spurs. Give me a few minutes here."

Nanuet kneels down and scans the earth. He has little trouble following the heavy boot prints as they lead away from the campsite. He points out that one of them seems to walk with at least a slight limp and he finds a discarded unfinished cigarette not too far away. He continues following the tracks as they lead away from the site, noting what information he can glean from them.

The tracks double back behind several rock croppings and then converge from two different directions to the spot where prospector Pete was standing. Based on the impressions from Pete's boots he concludes that Pete was looking to towards the west when the pair simultaneously came up behind from both the southeast and northeast. He is only able to follow the tracks as they curve around the hill and end at a rocky plateau. He moves a little further to no avail, as it is too rocky for tracks to show. He returns to the others and explains to them what he found.

Flint says "What doesn't make much sense is that they'd be able to sneak up on him like that. He had a pretty good sense of hearing. Nanuet asks. "Flint, are you out here alone alot? Is there anyone else who might know what times he would be alone, someone familiar with your operation? I don't understand the motive either. You said that you haven't found any silver and that he didn't have personal problems with anyone that you knew of. I can't follow the tracks anymore, the rocks don't show me anything. There are hucksters who might have the power to make footsteps silent, that could explain why he didn't here them. Flint, you might be in danger as well. You need to think hard about who might have done this."

Back at the site, Katherine stops and ponders for a minute and then says "What was he looking at?" "Huh"? Flint asks. She replies "You said that the grassy area under that tree was his favorite spot, not behind the hill in that rocky area. There didn't seem to be any digging over by where you found him so he wasn't busy looking for silver. Which prompts the question of why was he standing in place at that spot and looking west for so long?"

The four of them head back over to that spot and begin walking westward, with Nanuet taking the lead. After seventy feed of rock and sand it starts to get grassy again. They go another hundred-and-fifty feet until they reach where the stream flows by. On the opposite side of the steam is evidence of the grass having been trampled down by a large number of animal tracks as well as small piles of manure left behind.

Nanuet tells the others to wait there and wades across the stream. He spends the next half-hour walking all around the area and examining tracks. He then branches out and locates trails of tracks to both the southeast and northwest. He then checks out over nears some large rocks

He returns and tells the others "Hard to tell exactly how many but I would guess around fifty animals, maybe more. Five appear to be shoed horses the others all look to be cows. They stopped here to graze and water. Two riders stayed mounted and three dismounted. Looks like the three on foot then came over to the stream, probably to refill canteens. That must have been when they saw Pete watching them. Two left their horses and went back into the herd and behind that rock cropping over there, probably hidden from Pete's view by the cattle. They then made a wide circle out and around your hill and come up behind your friend. The whole group looks to have come from the direction of town and they continued on to the southeast."

Al shakes her head. "And he just stood there to take a knife in the back? Damn." She looks from Flint to Nanuet and parks herself on a rock. "Guess the bigger question is why, huh?"

She looks around, and thinks, then says: "Couple hours back, I took a rest stop a couple miles out towards the mountains. Saw some tracks there, similar to these - only three horses though, not five. They were headed out to the Chiricahua Mountains - there's some rustler caves out that way, looked to me 'n' Isaac like they were used pretty frequent."

She takes a deep breath. "It look to anybody else like this was done by rustlers wantin' nobody running back to town and tellin' on 'em?"

"Guess that's the answer to the question why," Flint comments. "The penalty for cattle rustling is hanging. Wouldn't make much sense though if they were all strangers. But if one or more of the fellas was someone from town who Pete might have recognized....."
"Then suddenly, these folks got a problem," says Al pensively. "I see." She looks at Flint. "Anybody should be in town that ain't the last few days?"

Nanuet says “These must be the cattle that those Cartwright folks were talking to the Marshall about. Al, you say you know where a hideout is not too far away? I think right about now we have two choices. One, go back to town and let the sheriff handle this, maybe now they will listen. They didn't seem to care about this the first time Flint tried to deal with it. Or, two we can try and do something about this ourselves. I never had much love for thieves.”

"Yeah, I know the hideout," says Al. "O'Dell and I bunked up in it two nights ago. I can take you right to it, if that's what y'all want."

Kate was quiet for a minute. She thought of the poor prospector, standing out among the rocks watching the cattle when someone planted a knife in his back. She wasn't terribly familiar with magic, but she knew there were ways the rustlers could have snuck up without his notice. Coming out here to take a look around had been one thing, but now there could be a real danger in continuing to follow the trail. Still, the idea that this man had been killed just to hide another mans theft... Were cattle really worth so much here? Of course, from what she'd seen so far life was considered cheap.

Kate says, "I guess it won't do any harm to look at the hideout." She turned to Flint. "You know, if you've had no luck with the silver mining, ever think of ranching? Seems a good piece of land you've got here."

Al, Flint, Katherine and Nanuet then hear the sound of horses approaching. The sound is coming from around the hills northwest of where they are standing. Nanuet grabs Kate and puts a finger to his lips and then motions for the others to try and hide. As stealthily as possible he attempts to sneak in the direction of the riders and find out who they are without being noticed.

Al crouches down behind the rock she was sitting on, one hand at each hip, ready to draw her revolvers if need be. She catches Kate's eye, looking icy calm. Kate hated not being able to see. Nanuet knew better what to do now than she, of course, but the horses were picketed in plain sight. The riders would know there were people close by. Kate slipped her hand down, took hold of the handle of Thomas's pistol, and prayed she wouldn't need to use it.