"They Rode to Perdition" starring Arcade's Gang (D&D/Boot Hill)

Silver Moon

Adventurer
Chapter 39, “The Latin Lover,” November 14th, 1881:

Arcade’s Gang is sitting around in the El Parador Cantina, thankful that the events of Tombstone are now behind them. Arcade complains to Morgana about the spurious biography about him that is now circulating, stating, “It says I was a priest. I could never have been a priest. I couldn’t get used to the underwear.” Morgana comments, “Yeah, and what was that crap about me being the Indian maiden that rescued you!” Hank mutters, “Yeah, who would believe that you are a maiden.” That earns him a dirty look from her.

Arcade gestures to Sam and comments, “Yeah, well most of the press lately has been about old “Sure-shot” here.” Louie interjects, “Yeah, me be careful now. Me not stand next to Sam.” Hank jokes, “Well Sam, part of your new reputation is ‘cause you look so young.” Morgana exclaims, “He is young! He’s only fifteen!” Hank laughs, “Can’t be! The paper says he’s twenty-two.” Morgana snaps at Arcade, “Why did you tell that to the dance hall girl?” He replies, “I was afraid she’d charge extra if she found out he was underage.”

The party is then interrupted by a boy who works across town, who informs Arcade that somebody wants to talk to him over at the Palace Saloon. After the boy leaves Arcade continues to just sit at the table. Hank says, “Aren’t you going to go see what he wants?” Arcade replies, “Nope, not going there. They wouldn’t let me and Louie into that place to hear Morgana sing.” She exclaims, “I wouldn’t sing there again if they paid me. That saloonkeeper needs to learn not to tick people off, especially if he doesn’t know who they are.” Arcade comments, “It’s safe to say the everybody knows who you are now. I’d bet you’d be allowed into any saloon in town.”

The centaur Qualtaqa enters the Cantina and heads over to the table. He is followed by a wood elf. The elf is of average height, slim build and attired in regular cloth clothing rather than the Mexican-style attire worn by most of the wood elves in the area. Qualtaqa tells the gang, “This is new friend I tell you about. He move in here when you in Tombstone.” “What brings you to Promise City?” Arcade asks. “I got lost,” he replies.

The elf introduces himself as Aiden and comments that he got a room at the Cantina because it was the only place in town that would allow someone of his race to stay at. Morgana quickly sizes up the new guy, noting that the hands are free of calluses and he has no visible weapons or holy symbols denoting a religion. She casually walks over to Dorita and says, “What’s his relationship with your Grandfather?” She replies, “An apprentice.” “Thought so,” Morgana responds. She wanders back to the table and comments, “Dorita says he’s okay.”

“Anything I should know about this town?” Aiden asks. Louie exclaims, “Don’t buy rice.” Arcade adds, “Yeah, and if Louie here buys rice you’d better reload your weapons.” Morgana gestures and says, “This is Arcade. He doesn’t actually kill anyone but he gets all the credit.” “I have too killed someone!” he exclaims. She then gestures again and comments, “This is Sam. He’s a sure-shot, but otherwise needs a lot of help.” Hank adds, “Hey, we got him some help back in Tombstone.” She then says, “And that’s Hank. He’s a member of the gang but doesn’t admit it.” “Probably smart of him,” Sam comments. Louie says, “It good to be part of respectable gang.” Sam states, “Respectable? Did you join up with some other gang?” Arcade adds, “And are they looking for more members?”

Aiden asks, “So, are all of you from around here?” Sam saying “Nope, California.” Hank states, “Texas”. The centaur comments “The plains of Oklahoma.” “China,” Louie adds. Morgana and Arcade don’t offer their home locations, but both shake their heads no as to being locals.

Aiden asks, ”So, what brought all of you to this town?” “Got tired of working on a cattle ranch,” Morgana comments, and gesturing to Sam adds, “And he followed me so I got to keep him.” Louie says, “Me on vacation from railroad. No like work, not go back.” “What about you, are you from Mexico?” Arcade asks.

Aiden comments, “No, I’m from further south, namely South America. I had to leave my town and can’t go back there for the next few hundred years.” “Why? What did you do?” Morgana exclaims. Aiden comments, “Well, let’s just say my chief’s daughter was very pretty.” Hank exclaims, “Ah, I get it. We’ve got ourselves a Latin lover here.”

Morgana asks Aiden, “Didn’t you shake the blanket afterwards? That way you’re not married and don’t have children.” Arcade asks what she is talking about and she starts describing in detail a Druidic infertility ritual, commenting that she does this herself after every time she’s together with Arcade. He replies, “Wouldn’t know anything about that, I’m usually asleep by then.” Hank mutters, “I guess we now know who isn’t a romantic.”

Arcade says, “Well Aiden, you’re welcome to stay with us. We’re the most popular people in town.” Louie adds, “Yeah, place where everyone knows your name and likes you or is afraid of you.” “Or both,” Sam adds.

Curiosity has now gotten the better of Hank and he tells Arcade. “Well, if you’re not going to head over to the Palace Saloon to see what this is about then I will.” “Suit yourself,” the gang leader replies. Hank says, “Anyone care to join me?” Sam volunteers, as do Louie and Aiden. Morgana decides she will tag along, just to see if the non-humans will be allowed in. Arcade and Qualtaqa stay at the Cantina.

The five head over to the Saloon. The eyes of Dave Carleen, the saloon’s bouncer, light up at the sight of them approaching and he moves to block the door. Hank comments to the man, “You may want to step aside for Sure-shot Sam and his friends.” Sam causally moves his hand towards the holster of his gun, the movement being noticed by Carleen. The man quickly reevaluates the situation and then steps to the side, holding the door open for the five of them to enter.

They walk over directly to the bar. A nervous bartender named Deacon McCoy breaks out in a sweat and glances over to one of the gambling tables. He bartender then very reluctantly comes forward and with the words stuttering out of his mouth informs the party that they are required to check their weapons. Hank and Sam are the only two with visible weapons and they unbutton their gun belts and leave them on the bar.

The piano player had stopped playing and everyone in the room looks towards the bar. A card game has come to an abrupt halt, with the gamblers looking in the party’s direction with facial expressions that vary from fear to disgust. Some people get up from other tables and hurry out the front door behind them. Aiden whispers to Morgana, “Do you guys always have this effect on people?” She relies, “No, usually the reaction is far more violent.”

Evan Adair, the gambler and saloon owner gets up from the table where the card game had been taking place and approaches them. He gestures to a side door in the room and says, “Would you care to step into the lounge or do you plan to just stand here and kill all of my business?” Louie states, “We no kill business, just bad guys.” “We’re not looking for any trouble,” Hank states. He and the gang follow Adair into the side room, the door then being shut behind them.
 
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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
SilverMoon,

If I were playing a PC in your campaign about the time he and his comrades were ushered into a side room in a hostile saloon and the door was closed, he'd be looking for the nearest window to bail out of even as he had his hidden gun drawn and pointed in the general direction of that closed door.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Silver Moon

Adventurer
Col_Pladoh said:
If I were playing a PC in your campaign about the time he and his comrades were ushered into a side room in a hostile saloon and the door was closed, he'd be looking for the nearest window to bail out of even as he had his hidden gun drawn and pointed in the general direction of that closed door.
Good point Gary, the Gang was a bit too trusting on this one, even though everybody except Sam did had concealed weapons. If this had been a planned ambush I'm sure they would have thought twice about going through with it with Arcade absent from the group. Thanks for the reader's comment, keep them coming. Now on to the next chapter:


Chapter 40, “Point me in the direction of Albuquerque”, November 14th, 1881:

The Saloon owner Evan Adair demands, “All right, what is it that you people want?” Hank replies, “We don’t want anything. We were notified to come here. One of your guests has a message for Arcade.” The party describes the boy who delivered the note. Adair opens the door and yells out “Somebody go and find Jimmy, NOW.”

The boy soon arrives and when asked tells his boss “Yes, Mr. Duncan had me deliver a message to the El Parador Cantina.” Adair tells the party, “Duncan’s an Easterner staying up on the top floor.” He turns to the boy and orders him to “Go get him down here RIGHT NOW.” Jimmy hurries off and his employer also exits the room. Hank comments, “I tell you what. You’d almost get the impression that guy doesn’t want us hanging around here.”

A man soon enters the lounge. He is wearing a wool suit with a pressed shirt, a bow tie and freshly shined shoes. Beneath the coat jacket they can see an empty gun holster. The man introduces himself as Detective Duncan of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. “We didn’t do it,” Sam blurts out. “Do what?” Duncan asks. “Whatever you want us for,” is Sam’s reply. Duncan answers, “I have a message for Mr. Arcade. He doesn’t appear to be with you.” Hank interjects, “We’re Arcade’s Gang, you can give it to us.” Louie points to Morgana and says, “She’s a very personal assistant to Arcade.”

Duncan states, “I’m sorry but the message is only for him. Please have him come here.” Hank says, “Listen, Arcade doesn’t go to people, they come to him.” Duncan asks, “Does he always inspire this degree of loyalty?” “Yep,” Sam answers. Duncan states, “Look, I came all the way here from Boston and….” Hank interrupts with, “Then you shouldn’t mind traveling a few more streets to find him. Follow us.”

They head back to the bar for Hank and Sam to collect their firearms. The bartender also hands a gun to Duncan, which he inspects and then quickly slides into its holster. Morgana notes that it is a top quality piece that also shows some wear to it. They exit the Palace Saloon and Duncan comments, “Why is this Arcade so reclusive?” Morgana replies, “He’s just being careful. We’ve run afoul of a number of people lately, including the James Gang, the Clantons and the Earps.” Louie interjects, “James Gang all dead.” Hank replies, “Not all of them. Frank and Jesse got away, and Arcade shot up their beloved cousin Cleatus, so they may come back for revenge.”

Duncan says, “Ah, so that’s why you’re being so protective.” Hank is still very uncertain of this man and gives him an icy stare while commenting, “It doesn’t hurt to be careful. You never know exactly who might have been hired to kill him.” The Pinkerton picks up on the insinuation and sternly replies, “My agency does not engage itself in hired killings.” “That’s a nice change,” Morgana casually answers. “How did you know to find Arcade here?” Sam asks. Duncan states, “News of your exploits have traveled far and wide.” “And those accounts are rather exaggerated,” Morgana interjects.

Duncan laughs at that and says, “Oh, I don’t believe everything I’ve read in the papers. If I did I would have expected to see a shootout taking place on every corner in this town.” The half-orc comments, “No. Louie no buy rice today.” Duncan replies, “Oh? You get a lot of rice-related violence around here?” “More than you’d suspect,” Hank answers. The detective then asks, “So what can you tell me about this Arcade?” Hank says, “Don’t make him angry.” With Morgana adding, “You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.”

They arrive back at the El Parador, where Arcade is still seated at the same table and drinking a beer. Morgana introduces the visitor as “Detective Duncan from the Pinkerton Agency in Boston.” Without bothering to stand up or shake the man’s hand Arcade states “I’m Arcade. What do you want?” Duncan says, “I have a letter to deliver to you from England. You need to sign for it.” Arcade is given a form and fountain pen, and he signs it. Duncan then hands him a closed up envelope, which Arcade nonchalantly opens up and scans the contents of the note inside.

“Well?” an impatient Morgana exclaims. Arcade states, “My father is ill and I have been asked to return home.” The centaur asks, “You’re from England?” Louie blurts out, “You not talk funny.” Arcade glances up and says, “I am originally from England, and Louie, you’re hardly one to complain about how other people talk.” Duncan states that he needs a response from Arcade to deliver back. “I guess I probably should go,” Arcade states. The detective retorts, “Could you please be more definitive?” Arcade crumbles up the paper and says, “Yes. I’ll go.” “Thank you,” Duncan replies and then exits.

Hank says, “I tell you what. Maybe some of us should go with you. The Clantons and Earps are a bit too close for comfort, so what’s to keep them from coming after us once word gets out that you’re gone.” Louie utters, “Sam now has big reputation.” Hank asserts, “Yeah, for shooting up those guys in Tombstone! Sam’s the one they’ll be gunning for first.” Sam turns to Arcade and emphatically states, “I’m going with you!”

“I’m going as well,” Morgana comments. “Me too!” Louie exclaims. “What the hell, I’m in,” Hank comments. “And I,” states the Centaur. Aiden says, “Sure, sounds good. A few thousand miles further away from my homeland can only help.” “Do they have gangs in England?” Louie asks. Sam replies, “They will now.” Hank jokes, “So Arcade, you’re bringing Morgana home to meet the folks?” Arcade ignores the comment.

“How are we going to get there?” Sam asks. “Boat,” Arcade answers. Louie says, “I be on boat before. Long ride from China. Me down at bottom of boat. Want to stay on good part of boat this time!” Aiden comments that he’s never been on a large boat before and has some concerns. Morgana comments that she doesn’t know how to swim. Hank tells her, “If it sinks in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean knowledge of swimming really won’t make that much of a difference.”

[One of the players comments, “Nobody has to worry. It will be another 30 years in Arcade’s timeline before we have to worry about him DM’ing us on a major ship disaster (alluding to the fact that this DM is a “Titanic” aficionado). The DM laughs and replies, “Are you kidding? The Titanic wasn’t the first ship in the White Star Line to be lost at sea. For that matter, it wasn’t even the first one to sink after hitting an iceberg.” “That’s reassuring,” another player comments.]

Hank says, “I don’t see very many ocean liners picking up passengers here in southeastern Arizona". Sam states, “We’ll have to take a train.” Louie states, “Me build choo-choo, never ride on one.” Morgana now has a panic stricken look on her face and says, “Oh no. That means’s we’ll have to go to Boston. That’s where my family is.” Glancing at her Indian attire Aiden comments “You’re from Boston?” Hank interjects, “Her last name is O’Shea. Where else would she be from?”

“First we need to get to train,” states Louie. Hank says, “Closest one would be to the west, but we’d have to go back through Tombstone to get there.” Arcade says, “No. We’d probably be better off taking the eastern stage through the New Mexico Territory instead. It’ll make for a longer stage coach ride, but probably still worth it in the long run.” Morgana says, “Well, if we’re going that direction anyway let’s stop off in Santa Fe and check on that reward money that’s owed to us.” The group decides that would make a good cover story about their immediate absence. Cantina owners Pedro and Dorita are told that the gang will be away for a long time but to let everybody think they’re expected back at any time. They arrange to leave their horses at the Cantina stables but give the owners permission to go ahead and rent out their rooms.

Hank checks with the Wells Fargo Office to see about taking the stagecoach to Santa Fe. He is told that the stage normally only goes as far east as the neighboring town of Galeyville, but is directed to check with the Morand Cartage Company, as they occasionally make longer trips east. Tempel Morand tells Hank that he was planning to make a trip to El Paso in December, but is willing to move up the trip a few weeks. He gives the party a very reasonable price for the transportation, being thankful to have Arcade’s Gang along to help protect against bandits that occasionally cross over the boarder from Mexico.

The group spends the five days traveling the 175 miles east along the rough and nearly barren land until they reach the town of Las Cruces, New Mexico, which is a day’s travel north of El Paso. The trip had been uneventful, encountering only a few very small communities which Arcade describes as being “About the size of a postage stamp and built around the skeleton of a dead oxen, the family having stopped because that was where the ox pulling their wagon died.”

In Las Cruces they change to another stagecoach to travel the 225 miles north to Albuquerque. They make good time on this well-traveled roadway that runs parallel with the Rio Grande River, arriving in Albuquerque five days later. They then travel northeast on another stage for two more days to the community of Santa Fe, the capital of the New Mexico Territory.
 
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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
SilverMoon,

You have a remarkably peaceful player group. My own would have been in rebellion had I not livened up the stagecoach journey with an Indian raid, an attempt at highway robbery by a gang of bandits, and at least one shootout at a cantina along the stage route. They favor play akin to what's seen in the "Trinity" movies, Clint Eastwood's Westerns, and the good old John Wayne ones;)

That was a slick way to move the play from the West to England, certainly!

Cheers,
Gary
 

Silver Moon

Adventurer
Col_Pladoh said:
My own would have been in rebellion had I not livened up the stagecoach journey ....That was a slick way to move the play from the West to England, certainly!
The DM of this module came from a gaming group where the primary DM spent the first several weeks of every module on long and usually tedious travel segments. Because of that experience, he usually leans the opposite direction and hits the "fast forward" button for multi-day travel. When writing the Story Hour I actually expanded on the ride to Santa Fe from what took place during the game. I am anticipating far more detail from him for the ocean voyage, given his expertise on ocean liners of that era.

As for our group's patience, if there are fun role-playing opportunities they are quite willing to hold off on combat. In the "Chinese Take-Out" Story that you're currently reading Gary the group actually gamed for five straight months before their first combat encounter. On the other hand, now that I actually get to play instead of DM I'm itching for some action!

[There will be two more chapters from last weekend's game, the next one of which should be posted by Thursday night or Friday morning.]
 
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Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
Ho SilverMoon,

My group is a mix of one teenager, and four or five each of players in their 20s and 30s, only one female at the present time. They are happiest with about 10% of the time spent in roleplay, 70% in exploration and problem solving, and 20% combat--a bit of the latter in every session rather as the dessert;)

Cheers,
Gary
 

Silver Moon

Adventurer
Gary, Sounds like we're a little different than your group was. Right now we have a group of seven ranging in age from 38 to 50. Now for the next chapter:


Chapter 41, “A Day and Night in Santa Fe”, November 27th, 1881:

The group exits the stage in Santa Fe and Arcade suggests, “Why don’t we spend the next hour scraping the dust off our tongues.” They head to the office of Territorial Governor Lionel Sheldon. The Governor’s Executive Secretary is taken aback at the group of three human cowboys, two elvan Indians, a centaur Indian and a half-orc who charge unannounced into the office and demand an audience with the Governor. Morgana is tired and cranky from the long uncomfortable journey and with no attempt at tact or diplomacy announces, “I am the killer of Billy the Kid and I want the reward money.”

The Secretary attempts to dismiss her, which upsets Morgana’s friend Qualtaqa, who says, “I’ll find him for you.” The centaur kicks open the doors to the next room and charges in, finding the Governor sitting back in his chair and smoking a cigar, his feet propped up on his desk. The rest of Arcade’s Gang follows him in, with the Secretary frantically apologizing to Governor Sheldon for letting them get by.

Morgana blurts out. “I want paid the money you owe me!”. The Governor is confused and says, “Madam, I’ve never see you before in my life.” She then explains who she is and what she wants. He states that he didn’t personally promise her anything, that it was his predecessor Governor Wallace who had offered the reward money. She reiterates that the proper paperwork was filed over three months earlier and that the Territorial Governor had made the offer in good faith. He attempts to then tell them he doesn’t have the money on hand. Louie gestures to the fancy desk, velvet curtains, stocked bar and humidor of fine cigars and says, “All this stuff cost a lot. Money around here somewhere.”

Qualtaqa loses his patience with the stalling and grabs the Governor by his lapel, lifting him off his feet and up into the air. “Pay her!” the centaur states. Sam says, “You’d better do as he says. That guy keeps Geronomo happy.” Aiden whispers to Hank, “Should he really be threatening this land’s chief? Where I come from doing that is really bad.” Hank whispers back, “Nah, this won’t get bad until one of us decides to shoot him.” Aiden replies, “Shoot which one? The centaur or the governor?” Hank replies, “Take your pick.”

The Governor is a retired Civil War General and is unaccustomed to being manhandled. He is about to order his Secretary to fetch nearby Army troops when he reconsiders, figuring that if soldiers draw weapons on Arcade’s Gang it will probably just get a lot of people killed including himself. He says, “All right, I’ll see what I can do. Come back tomorrow.” This is unacceptable to Morgana, who insists that they be paid right now.

Governor Sheldon says, “We’ll have to see the New Mexico Treasurer.” “Let’s find him,” Morgana states. The Secretary leads them to the Treasurer’s Officer, with Qualtaqa still holding the Governor high in the air. Qualtaqa then grabs the Treasurer with his other arm, lifting him up into the air as well. The centaur is eventually convinced to let the man down so that he can pay them. The Treasurer says that he has to go to the bank, which he can’t do until the following day. Arcade says, “In that case we’ll all just stay here until then.” Governor Sheldon tells the Treasurer, “Go find the Bank President right now and pay these people what they are due!” The Treasurer leaves with Morgana and Hank insisting on accompanying him.

Morgana is eventually given a stack of bills totaling $ 500. They head back and collect the others, the centaur finally letting the Governor down. Morgana tells Sheldon “It was nice doing business with you.” Louie adds, “Yeah, if you’re ever in Promise City look us up, we’ll buy you a drink.” The party decides it is best to head straight from there to the railroad on the off chance that they might now be in some trouble with the local authorities.

At the Acheson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Station they find that the next passenger train heading east won’t be leaving until the following morning. Morgana again expresses reservations about returning to Boston. Arcade suggests, “We don’t have to go there at all. We can book passage to England out of New York City.” She agrees to that, and they purchase tickets to travel by rail east to Topeka, changing trains there to Kansas City and Saint Louis.

The group debates spending the night right at the train station, but Arcade says, “I want to spend the night at a decent hotel for a change.” They head out and find lodgings at one of the better establishments in town, which requires Qualtaqa to stay in the stable. There are some initial concerns by the hotel management about people of Louie and Aiden’s races staying there, but as soon as Arcade drops his name those issues are immediately dispelled. Arcade and Morgana decide to splurge, getting themselves the fanciest room in the hotel. The other four share a pair of rooms with a connecting door and alternate having one stay awake and on guard all times “just in case.”

This is the first time on the journey that Arcade and Morgana have had any time alone and she comments, “You still haven’t told me anything about this family of yours.” He replies, “You haven’t told me about yours either.” She answers, “Yes, but we’re on our way to visit yours. I’d like to be prepared for whatever we are walking into.” “I wouldn’t know where to begin,” he states. She replies, “How about telling me why you ran away from England. I’m sure it wasn’t just because you don’t like to drink tea.” He says, “I didn’t like what was expected of me, as the first born son of a Lord of the Manor.”

She is a little taken back by that and says, “Lord of the Manor? Wait a minute here. What is your real name?” He replies, “Josiah. Josiah Arcadian. My father is Lord Arcadian and he has a large estate.” Her mind is now racing and she says, “Okay, so you want out of this?” He answers, “With father dying there’s no easy way out.” She asks, “Do you have any brothers?” He says that he has one younger brother but would rather not talk about him. She replies, “Well we need to come up with some way to solve this problem for you.” He responds with, “I’m guessing lots of ammunition.”

“So, what exactly prompted you to run?” she asks. He answers, “Seemed like a good idea at the time. Go to America and disappear into the melting pot. I figured I’d get as far away from civilized society as I could. I barely found Promise City myself and I live there. I presumed that nobody else would find me there either. Instead, I’ve now become world famous. I should have just faked my own death when I had the chance.”

After a long pause he says, “I thought I would have more time, Father was in fine health when I left.” Morgana gives him a passionate embrace and says, “Well, I can relate to what you’re going through. You’re not the only one who is running from family.” He then astonishes her by asking, “Can you see yourself settling down with me and being the Lady of a large estate?” She asks, “Is that what you want?” “I wouldn’t want to without you,” he replies. “And the others?” she asks. He answers, “The hole-in-the-wall-gang can head back west…unless you want to keep Sam around to help out.” She replies, “I’d rather keep Louie. Look, let’s just take this one day at a time.” He answers, “Fine, but I’m still sticking with my old motto of ‘When in doubt, shoot it’.”
 

Col_Pladoh

Gary Gygax
SilverMoon,

Enjoyed the account, and I am honestly anxious to read on, see how the group gets East and what happens along the way, in NYC, the ship to England, and onwards. Good show.

My group is active when I am there to GM, but I never know if as few as four or as many as 10 will show up for a session.

Cheers,
Gary
 

Silver Moon

Adventurer
Col_Pladoh said:
Enjoyed the account, and I am honestly anxious to read on, see how the group gets East and what happens along the way, in NYC, the ship to England, and onwards. Good show.
Thanks Gary, I've been enjoying your comments (and other readers should feel free to comment too!). What follows is the final chapter from last week's game. I'd also like to thank CelticWolf (Louie's player) for assisting with the writing of this chapter (19th century railroads is one of his hobbies).


Chapter 42, “Train kept a rollin’ all night long”, November 28th, 1881, 10:00 A.M.

After the long ride on the stagecoach with none of his own type of food, Louie buys some more rice and makes riceballs for the rest of the trip east. Unlike when at home in Promise City, he manages not to get shot at or harassed while shopping here in Santa Fe. After finishing the cooking of the rice balls, he offers some of them to the rest of the group, saying "They not go bad, and keep you going all day!" but there are no takers.

The eastbound train pulls out of Santa Fe. The train has a combination of passenger and freight cars, including some cars designed to hold livestock, and it takes some persuasion on Morgana’s part for the conductor to allow Qualtaqa to ride up with the passengers. The party is seated in a wooden coach with wooden slat seats, oil lamps nailed to brackets on coach walls, and an old wood and coal stove in the middle of the car for heat. The brakeman would come along periodically with a long handled stick with a hook on the end to open the vent in top of the coach to regulate the heat.

The party spends the day on the uneventful ride east through New Mexico, Oklahoma and Kansas. Qualtaqa points out when they pass by areas where he as been before, giving the party a short history of the plains. Several comments are made about how flat and boring Kansas looks to be. They have a long stop-over at Topeka, where the party gets out and has a meal at the train station before continuing on to Kansas City and then on towards Saint Louis.

November 29th, 1881:

Twenty miles after passing through Columbia, Missouri there is a mechanical problem causing the train to stop. They ascertain from the conductor that the malfunction relates to the patented air brake system, as two of the tubes had burst thereby rendering the vacuums partly inoperative. It takes almost eight hours for replacement parts to be obtained and installed, and the train eventually continues on its journey. Despite the long wait, Louie still can't find any takers for his rice balls. Most of the group makes do with jerky and other dried and salted traveling foods. They do not reach Saint Louis until mid-afternoon. The party decides stay overnight in the city before continuing onward.

November 30th, 1881:

The party spends the day traveling on train a from the Chicago Railroad Company which runs between Saint Louis, Missouri and Chicago, Illinois. This train also experiences a few delays, stopping once near Springfield, Illinois because a train on the same track ahead of them has broken down, and later to wait for a track gang to get clear of the right-of-way after repairing a spread in the rails. Between these problems and the periodic stops to take on more water, Hank comments that the journey might have been quicker if they had rode on their own horses. The train they are on is eventually rerouted around Decatur, Illinois, with them arriving in Chicago in the early evening. They decide to spend the night at a decent hotel in the city.

December 1st, 1881:

Arcade is encouraged by the party to find a “more mechanically sound railroad” to get them to New York City. They go to book passage on an afternoon train from the Union Railroad. They are told that in addition to having a series of freight cars, a baggage car and several passenger coaches this train also has a sleeping car with berths for passengers to sleep in. Arcade debates using some of the traveling funds given him by the Pinkerton Detective for this luxury. He reconsiders after a gentleman nearby tells him, “I tried that once. We never slept a wink with all that shunting and jolting that the train was doing." Once again they have trouble in getting permission for Qualtaqa to ride with the other passengers.

Since they have half-a-day until the train departs they decide to do some shopping. Qualtaqa acts as their guide, having actually been to Chicago once before. He comments that his pervious visit was before the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, and that the city has changed considerably since then. Sam's eyes are practically bugging out, since he's never seen such a city before! The rest of the party seems to find the youngster amusing, though Aiden seems to be somewhat awed by it all too. Arcade and Morgana are most at ease in the city. They purchase a number of supplies to keep occupied during the long ocean voyage ahead. The party warns Louie not to push his luck by buying rice again. The train pulls out of Chicago mid-afternoon.

December 2nd and 3rd, 1881:

The train ride east is uneventful but also turns out to be very long. There are no mechanical breakdowns, however the train is ‘a local’ rather than ‘an express’, with stops at almost every community located along the tracks between The Windy City and The Big Apple. And it's not just for passengers - it seems that there are freight cars to switch at nearly every town. The train drops the passenger cars, goes back-and-forth a few times shuffling the freight cars, then picks up the passenger cars again, whistles for departure, and crawls away again. The party invents many new ways to take naps! There are also lengthy stopovers along the way at Fort Wayne, Akron, Youngstown, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and Allentown. It is in the very early hours of the Fourth when they finally roll into New York City. The party proceeds to the nearest restaurant for a meal, finding a place that is open all night long.

December 4th, 1881:

Leaving the restaurant just as the sun in rising, Arcade decides that the problems they experienced getting Qualtaqa aboard a train will be magnified trying to book him on a passenger ship. Under the assumption that if you look hard enough just about anything can be found in New York, Morgana suggests that they find some type of magical means to transform him into a two-legged humanoid. They make inquiries as to sections of the city with large Spanish, Portuguese or French populations, whose native countries are known for using wizard magic.

She is eventually able to find a merchant mage in the French section who trades in magic and says that he has a magical talisman that would do the transformation. Unfortunately it has a $1,000 price tag to it, and the man is unwilling to take in trade Qualtaqa’s only valuables, ten marble-sized gold nuggets. Morgana and the Centaur head over to the Dutch Quarter of the city to get the nuggets appraised and sold, resulting in a little over $300.

She comes up with another idea, of finding a wizard who knows a polymorph spell. One of the other players comments, “I get it, we’re doing ‘Mage Eye for the Horse Guy’.” It takes a while, but she is able to locate a French Wizard who for $100 agrees to cast the spell as well as provide her with a scroll to later cancel it. The party decides to have Qualtaqa be transformed into a half-elf in order to be consistent with his Indian clothing and broken-English.

Before the spell is cast the other members of he party insist on covering him over with a blanket and also having a pair of pants on hand for him. The horse-section of his body disappears, being replaced by a pair of legs. Qualtaqa needs considerable help from the others to teach him how to walk in this new body. He also concludes that his 12-foot long spear will no longer work as a primary weapon, as he can’t use it as a lance. He asks about getting “fire sticks” (guns) and is told by Hank, “Why don’t you just stick with your bow.” Arcade comments to Morgana, “I think I like him better this way. Will we have to change him back?” She replies, “I never told him about the scroll.”
 
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