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


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Silver Moon

Adventurer
Chapter 83, “A Change in Direction”, Monday, March 13th, 1882:

The gang asks Manuel Gonzales about the disguise and he tells them “I couldn’t go around town as myself. I’m still wanted by the Texas Rangers for my participation at the Alamo.” Hank says, “I’ll pretend that I didn’t hear that.” “You’d better,” Morgana comments. Several players make comments in reference to the ‘Texas Rangers’ baseball team.

Sam asks, “So, how are things back in Promise City.” Gonzales replies, “Pretty quiet these past few months. The new town Marshall Wyatt Earp keeps a tight reign on things.” Morgana interjects “Earp is now the Marshall!” Arcade says, “Hmmm, I may have accidentally left a light on over in England. We should go back and check.” Louie says, “Want to go home.” “Back to China?” Gonzales asks. Louie says, “No, Promise City. Have things for Mary Wong. She still there?” He replies, “Yes, the Wong Family is still there.”

“How are our horses?” Morgana asks. Gonzales hesitates then says, “Yours is fine. So are Arcade and Hanks.” The others notice his omission of Sam’s and the young man says, “What about mine?” Gonzales says, “I’m sorry Sam, I’m afraid it’s dead. A friend was riding it and got shot at.” Sam yells out “What!” Gonzales interjects, “But I have a friend who owns a ranch and we will find you a fine replacement.” “Oh, okay then,” Sam says, apparently not having been too attached to the mount.

Arcade asks, “So how do we go about clearing up this misunderstanding about being wanted?” Gonzales replies, “That’s easy. Your passports show when you entered and left Great Britain. I’ll take those back and use those to clear this all up.” Hank says, “Hey, how did you know we were in Britain?” He replies, “Morgana is my apprentice. I’ve been keeping an eye on you guys. In case you hadn’t heard yet, two days after you rescued that French druid she caused the collapse of the French government.” Morgana asks, “So, she’s running France now?” He replies, “No, nobody is, or more accurately lots of people are simultaneously claiming to be. In truth the France is in a complete state of anarchy.” “And that’s different than before?” Arcade quips.

“How long will it take to clear our names?” Louie asks. He replies, “I’m not sure. But the Judge is in town so it shouldn’t take too long.” “So we’re stuck here in Texas!” Arcade exclaims with no attempt to hide the anger and distain in his voice. Hank exclaims, “That’s great! We can visit my family in McKinney!” Arcade mutters, “A whole family like him? I think not.”

Gonzales replies, “Actually, I have another errand I’d like you to take care of in the next few days.” Arcade says, “If it doesn’t involve staying in Texas I’m all for it!” Gonzales says, “Good, I need you to go to Louisiana. There is a person in New Orleans I would like you to meet.” Arcade exclaims, “New Orleans! We were just there last week! We’re going backwards!” Morgana mutters, “At least it isn’t Texas.”

“Why do we need to go there?” Louie asks. Gonzales replies, “I need to you meet up with the Grand Arch Mage Andre Marc Guilleault.” “A Frenchman?” Arcade says. “Well, it is New Orleans,” Morgana states. Gonzales says, “Yes. He’s new to the United States, is in some trouble and doesn’t know anybody here yet.” “So the first people you want him to meet are us?” Hank questions. “Yeah, that’ll give him a favorable impression of the county,” Arcade sarcastically states.

Gonzales says, “What he needs is your area of expertise. He needs to have some items stealthfully removed from a ship before it sets sail back to England.” Arcade says, “Hold on just one minute there! Are you asking an Englishman to help a Frenchman steal from the English?” Gonzales says, “I’m asking my apprentice and her friends to help a wizard protect and save some valuable artifacts before they are destroyed by the ignorant and unknowing.” Arcade says, “You’re calling the English ignorant.” The elderly wood elf replies, “Of magic, yes. And if that ship reaches England with these artifacts just how long do you think it will take that evil wizard who controlled your family to get possession of them?” Arcade ponders that and says, “Okay, those are valid points.”

“And you think they’ll be safer with the Frenchman?” Morgana asks. He replies, “Not at all. But while I’m sure that Guilleault would want to study them he understands that right now the priority is to get them to safe keeping. He’s agreed to let me hide them for now. What I need you to do is help him get the items off the ship and bring them by train back to Arizona.”

“What’s so special about these items?” Louie asks. Gonzales says, “Guilleault believes them to be Atlantian. Wizard magic was first discovered on the lost continent of Atlantis although the only references to have survived are in the writings of Homer. “The Iliad and the Odyssey,” Arcade says. Gonzales says, “Yes, plus a third test that is the basis for most wizards spells. Few copies of that volume survived the burning of the Library of Alexandria. There is no telling what secrets these artifacts might hold.”

Hank says, “Look Manny, we appreciate what you did for us with the bounty hunter and all, but I’m still not all that fond of the idea of running off to Louisiana to steal a bunch of magic trinkets”. Gonzales says, “Did I neglect to mention that Guilleault is rich? I’m sure that I can convince him to compensate you for your efforts. Perhaps a useful magic item for each of you.” “Let’s go,” Arcade and Sam say in unison.

In addition to the passports they convince Manuel to bring Louie’s truck back to Promise City as well as giving him a large quantity of their money. “Put it in the El Parador’s safe,” Morgana instructs him. He replies, “The El Parador doesn’t have a safe.” She says, “Use some of that money to buy one. Just make sure it isn’t a Harrisburg model.” He says that he will check on them and get back to them in a few days.

Gonzales gets beside the trunk. He sets up a brazier, which he lights, and tosses in some powder. He then casts an incantation which teleports him and the trunk back to Promise City. The others pack up and check out of the hotel. They head to the train station, keeping a close eye out for that bounty hunter. They board an afternoon eastbound train that two hours later brings them to the town of Beaumont, Texas.

At Beaumont they have the choice of taking a late night train that will bring them to Baton Rogue by dawn or to stay overnight and catch a morning train to Baton Rogue. They opt for the latter, figuring that they wouldn’t get a good night’s sleep on the train and wanting to be fresh and on alert for the meeting with the wizard. “Good, another night in the Lone Star State,” Hank interjects. They others groan at that prospect as they all head off to find lodgings.
 

Silver Moon

Adventurer
Chapter 84, “The City of New Orleans”, Tuesday, March 14th, 1882, 9:30 A.M.

The group sleeps in and misses the first eastbound passenger train of the day. But that also means that they have time for a nice breakfast consisting of steak and eggs, and also Chili for Hank. They do some shopping with Hank buying himself a Texas flag. “What are you going to do with that?” Morgana asks. “I’ll think of something,” he replies.

They board a train shortly after 11:00 and cross over into Louisiana shortly after noon. Arcade comments, “Is there where I do my ‘we’re out of Texas’ happy dance?” Morgana says, “Don’t celebrate too quickly, we’ll probably be traveling back through Texas to get home.” “Gods, I hope not,” Arcade exclaims. “Avoiding it would take us hundreds of miles out of our way,” she replies. “It would probably still be worth it,” is his response.

The train stops at the Louisiana communities of Vinton, Sulfur, Lake Charles, Jennings, Crowley and finally Lafayette where they have an extended layover while the train takes on water and coal. It pulls out of the station at 3:30 PM and thankfully has no stops until Baton Rogue, which they reach shortly after 5:00 PM. They investigate transportation to New Orleans, finding that the rail system doesn’t extend there yet. A riverboat down the Mississippi River is leaving in a half-hour so they hurry and board it, being thankful that they managed to rid themselves earlier of Louie’s trunk.

The boat makes a leisurely ride down the river. Hank plays a few hands at one of the gambling tables, winning a total of $ 11.00. Morgana and Arcade wander around deck together hand-in-hand taking in the scenery. Louie complains to Sam about having to ride another boat. Qualtaqa, in elvan form, just enjoys the ride. The ship docks in New Orleans at 10:45 P.M.

They exit the riverboat and walk through the city. Sam asks, “How are we going to find this arch mage? All we know is his name. This is a big city!” Qualtaqa says, “Tenth largest city in the United States according to the boat conductor.” “And that French guy is new here too, folks won’t know him yet,” Hank exclaims. Morgana states, “They might, he’s a Grand Arch Mage, so would be rather powerful.” Arcade says, “Let’s do it tomorrow, I’m tired.”

They head towards one of the better parts of the city, stopping at the multi-story ‘Vin de Fleur’ hotel off from Jackson Avenue. They check into a three-bedroom suite on the third floor. Arcade says, “This room is nice. Why don’t we just stay here until Gonzales gets around to contacting us? He told us yesterday that he’d get back to us in a few days.” Morgana replies, “No, we don’t know when he’ll get to this city.” Unbeknownst to Morgana, Gonzales is actually in New Orleans right then, at a Creole nightclub less than a mile east where he is currently dancing with his other apprentices following a dinner with the French mage (as referenced in the “Wizards, Whiskey and Wonderful Things” Story Hour, Chapters 40 to 43.)

Wednesday, March 15th, 1882, 8:30 A.M.

The group sits down for breakfast at the ground floor restaurant of the hotel. Arcade declares, “I’ll have the French Toast, or as they call it here, toast.” After breakfast Louie says, “Where we go to find French wizard?” Morgana says, “Might as well start in the city’s French Quarter.” They decide to keep the hotel room for another night so as not to have to lug all of their possessions. They travel south and then east, soon finding themselves in Jackson Square, with an oversized statue of Andrew Jackson riding a horse in the part and a large Roman/Greek church cathedral across the street from it.

A very large man with a long dark beard approaches them. “Would you be Morgana?” he asks. He is dressed rather simply and so assuming that he isn’t the mage she replies, “Yes, who are you.” He replies, “My name is Maurice, I am a friend of Manuel’s. He asked me to keep my eyes out for you.” Morgana is skeptical and says, “Exactly what did he tell you?” Maurice says, “He asked me to watch out for his ‘little bird’.” “Okay, it’s legit,” she tells her friends.

He leads them to a building on Burgundy Street where they walk up a short flight of stairs to an exterior door. He unlocks the door, the hallway on the other side, with stairs going both up and down. He leads them down, into a large forty-by-sixty foot basement room. As houses in New Orleans don’t have basements due to the low water line the party immediately realize that magic is part of this building.

The center of the room has a stage with a piano and dozens of other musical instruments, with chairs arranged around the remainder of the room facing the stage. A bar is in the northwest corner of the room and a kitchen in the southwest corner. A high elf is on stage playing an odd wood pipe. Two other people are in the room, a wood elf and a dwarf. The wood elf makes a gesture at the end of the high elf’s song and the elf and dwarf leave.

The wood elf approaches them and says, “Hello, my name is Pasqual Alvaro. I own this establishment. We are old friends of Manuel and he asked us to offer you our assistance if he could.” Maurice says that he will go contact Guillieult to arrange for a lunch meeting. An elvan Indian arrives who Pasqual introduces to the group as his wife, Rain Tchoupitoulas. Morgana takes an interest in all of the unusual musical instruments. Rain explains, “We operate this as an invitation only private club, where those who appreciate the universal language of music can come and share in each other’s songs.”

The group stays at the club until Maurice returns, stating that an 11:30 A.M. meal reservation has been made at Commander’s Palace, the finest restaurant in the city. Pasqual tells the party, “Manuel was unsure if Guillieult could be fully trusted. Be careful. If you run into any trouble or need a place to go to avoid him please feel free to return here.” Morgana thanks them and they party heads off to lunch.

They head to Louisiana Avenue and to a large two-story wooden building painted teal green with white trim that has a three-story clock tower in the corner. They enter the building, which has multiple private dining rooms off from the main room. It is early and they are just opening for the lunch crowd. The host approaches them and Morgana mentions Guillieult. They are shown to a table. Shortly thereafter a man dressed in elaborate clothing joins them.
 

Silver Moon

Adventurer
Chapter 85, “Your mission, if you choose to accept it”, Wednesday, March 15th, 1882, 11:30 A.M.

The man introduces himself to them as Marc Andre Guillieult. He is tall and thin with a full head of white hair and a white-and-gray van dyke beard. He is attired in an ivory-colored three piece suit with gold necktie over a white shirt, gold cufflinks, gold necklace, four gold rings with fancy gems. They introduce themselves.

He says, “Thank you for coming so quickly.” Arcade replies deadpan “We travel light”. The waiter arrives and Guillieult orders for the entire table in French. He then reaches into a vest pocket, removing a pinch of green powder, which he causally drops onto the flames of a lit candle in the center of the table and makes a short incantation. He explains, “That will keep others from eavesdropping on our conversation.”

As the meal is served he hands Arcade a copy of the New Orleans Times Picayune newspaper, stating, “This was from two days ago.” Arcade reads:

Mystery at Sea The British merchant ship, the S.S. Jesmond, made an unscheduled stop in its journey on its way to our city. It had departed from Messina, Sicily with a cargo of dried fruits on February 26th.

When the ship reached an area 200 miles west of Madeira and 200 miles south of the Azores they noted that the ocean had become unusually muddy and that the vessel was passing through enormous shoals of dead fish. The ship's Captain David Robson then saw smoke on the horizon, which he presumed came from another ship.

The next day the fish shoals were even thicker and the smoke on the horizon seemed to be coming from the mountains on an island directly to the west, where, according to the charts, there was no land for thousands of miles. Captain Robson anchored offshore, worried that this uncharted island was surrounded by reefs. Even though the charts indicated an area depth of several thousand fathoms, the anchor hit bottom at only seven fathoms.

Robson went ashore with a landing party and found a large island with no vegetation, no trees, no sandy beaches, bare of all life. The shore they landed on was covered with volcanic debris. With no trees they could easily see a plateau beginning several miles away and smoking mountains beyond that.

They headed toward the interior in direction of the mountains but found that progress was interrupted by a series of deep chasms. To get to the interior would have taken days. They returned to their landing point and examined a broken cliff, part of which seemed to have been split into a mass of loose gravel as if it had recently been subjected to great force.

The sailors then found an arrowhead in the broken rock, and Captain Robson send for picks and shovels form the ship so that the crew could dig into the gravel. He and his crew soon uncovered crumbling remains of massive walls. They continued to dig near the walls for better part of two days, finding bronze swords, rings, mallets, carvings of head figures of birds and animals, and two vases or jars with fragments of bone, and one cranium.

Then they found what appeared to be a mummy enclosed in a stone case, encrusted with volcanic deposit so as to be scarcely distinguished form the rock itself. The rock sarcophagus aboard the Jesmond as dark clouds began to roll in off of the horizon, and Robson resumed his course. This reporter has examined the artifacts and they appear to be authentic. Robson's plans to donate the artifacts to the British Museum upon his return to England.


Morgana states, “So you believe that this mysterious island that suddenly resurfaced was Atlantis?” Hank says, “Can’t be, that’s a city in Georgia, not an island.” “Atlantis! Not Atlanta, you dolt,” Morgana exclaims. Guillieult reiterates what Gonzales had told them about the dangers and risks of these items falling into the wrong hands, adding “Especially the sarcophagus.”

Louie asks, “What’s so special about it? Just box with dead person.” Guillieult says, “Not just a dead person. To receive such an elaborate burial coffin he would have been an Atlantian Emperor, one of their most powerful mages. Atlantian wizard magic was renown, but their knowledge of clerical magic was lacking. Whatever ailment killed this Emperor could most likely be reversed using today’s medical science and the most powerful of clerical magic spells could be used to resurrect the dead. This man from Atlantis could be revived! There is no telling what knowledge he might possess, which could be abused and corrupted by whoever possesses him!”

The group ponders this. Morgana says, “There is another unpleasant possibility. Don’t powerful wizards have the possibility of become powerful undead when they die?” Guillieult says, “Yes, I believe the term you are looking for is that of a Lich. A Lich could be equally dangerous if allied with an nation seeking conquests.”

Guillieult then says, “Mr. Gonzales indicated that you might be able to help me to remove those items from the ship they are on before it sets sail.” “When will that be?” Morgana asks. He replies, “Saturday.” “No problem,” Hank exclaims. Morgana says, “Actually, there could be many problems. How many men are on the ship and how many guards?” Guileful replies, “When I looked yesterday there were a dozen city police on the dock and a small skeleton crew on board.” Louie comments, “When you say skeleton crew you mean few of them, not undead, right?” Guillieult replies, “Oui.”

Arcade says, “Look, before we agree to anything I’d like to take a look at this ship. Why don’t you give us directions to where it is docked and we’ll go have a look? We can meet you back here at supper time.” The French wizard agrees. Arcade’s Gang gets up and departs, leaving Guillieult with the check for the meal. Once outside Louie comments “The food was good there.” Arcade says, “I thought so too, that’s why I wanted to get a free supper as well.”

They wander through the city and down to the earth and stone levee that protects the city from Mississippi River flooding. On the other side of the levee are stairs down to the docks. They group keeps their distance, but manage to get within a few hundred feet of the Jesmond. The dozen New Orleans police are standing on the dock in different spots in groups of twos and fours. Arcade says, “We’ll need to find something to distract them.” Sam says, “We could hire some prostitutes.” Hank replies, “That would distract us.” Louie adds, “Then just hire them for Sam then.”

Arcade says, “We not only have the problem of the police, but getting a sarcophagus and those other items off might attract attention. These docks are a fairly open area. It might be easier if we just steal the entire ship.” They debate the merits of that plan. Hank agrees to the plan provided they agree to sail it to Texas. Arcade says, “We can hire a crew to sail it around South America and on to Arizona.” Hank says, “There are no ports in Arizona! It’s all mountains and desert!” Arcade replies, “I didn’t mean all the way back. You can sail up the Gulf of California in Mexico to Puerto Penaso, that’s only around fifty miles from the Arizona border.” Hank replies, “I still like the sound of Texas better.”

Morgana asks, “What is the alternative?” Arcade replies, “Fighting our way onto the ship, find the items including a large stone sarcophagus. Take them off of the ship and then bringing them through a crowded city, and then finding a way to get them to Baton Rogue to put on a train. Stealing the ship is a much easier solution.”

Louie comments, “Seems like a big thing to steal. Let’s just put a hole in the side of the ship and take it out that way.” Hank replies, “Easier said than done, and we’d still have to sneak it through the city without being seen.” Arcade says, “We would all wear hats as disguises.” “What about the sarcophagus?” Sam asks. “Put a hat on him too,” is Arcade’s answer.

Morgana says, “If we steal the ship we would still have to sail it close to 100 miles downriver before we reach the Gulf of Mexico. They could get word ahead to Navy ships to cut us off.” Hank points and says, “I see Navy ships docked right over there. We could wind up having a running gun battle down the Mississippi.” “Sounds like fun,” Arcade replies. “But not necessarily easier,” Morgana comments.

Hank says, “I like the idea. It’s like piracy! As soon as your steal-the-boat plan is approved I’m going to go out and buy myself an eye patch and a parrot.” Louie says, “Why not wait until Saturday and steal it as it leaves?” Morgana replies, “Three days from now? It might be too late then. We’d better assume that the French and Spanish already know about the items and are working on their own plans to steal it.” Louie says, “So we’re one of a dozen or so groups planning the same thing?”

“Maybe they already taken it?” Sam comments. Arcade says, “The police wouldn’t still be there if they had.” “Only if the police know,” Morgana adds. Hank says, “Yeah, the police seem to only be on the dock. Somebody could have come in by boat on the water side.” “Hey, we can do that,” Arcade says. Morgana adds, “I can’t swim.” “Then don’t fall into the water,” Hank exclaims.

Morgana says, “Why don’t we try to get on board now and find where these items are.” Arcade, “Because we haven’t agreed to do this yet. Let’s meet this guy for supper and see how much he’s planning to pay us before we risk arrest or worse.” The others concur and they head back to their hotel to just relax until suppertime.

They meet with Guillieult for supper. After the meal Morgana asks what type of magical assistance he can provide. He explains that he has a large number of spells at his disposal, although he would need to first study for them. “Could you make our whole group invisible?” she asks. He says that he can. Louie says, “Can you make large hole in side of ship?” He says that he can do that too, that a Passwall spell creates a temporary hole.

Arcade says, “So it comes down to either my idea of stealing the ship or Louie’s idea of rowing out to the ship, putting a hole in the side of the ship, pulling out a one-ton coffin, rowing it across the water and back across the harbor without sinking, and sneaking it through the city.” Guillieult replies, “Either of those plans is viable.” The group continues to debate both options.
 


Silver Moon

Adventurer
Stay tuned.....

Chapter 86, “The Heist”, Wednesday, March 15th, 1882, 5:30 P.M.

Hank says, “Hey Arcade, It’s a British ship. Your family is all high-muckity-mucks in England. Why do you just use that to get on board, say that your are an Emissary for the King.” “England is ruled by a Queen!” is his reply. “Yeah, whoever they have now,” Hank replies. Morgana sarcastically comments, “You’d hardly know he just spent several months there.” Arcade says, “The problem with that plan, other than the fact that I have no desire to associate with a bunch of lower-class sailors, is that we sent our passports back so I have no identification.”

Morgana says, “Mr. Guillieult, would you presently have an Invisibility Ten-foot Radius spell memorized so that we could go scout out the ship?” He replies, “Oui, when we conclude the meal we can find somewhere private for me to cast it on you.” “Won’t you be joining us?” Sam asks. He replies, “For the heist, absolutely, but you do not need me for the scouting. You are experienced at that, I am not.” Morgana glares at the others and says, “We can do this part without him.”

Louie quips, “So we sneak in, find the things, then sneak out.” Arcade says, “Sounds uncomplicated enough.” Louie asks, “So do we sink boat on our way out?” “Only if the items are already gone,” is Hank’s reply. “Why would we have to sink it in that case?” Sam asks. Hank answers, “No reason, it just sounds like something fun.”

Arcade looks to Guillieult and says, “There’s still one fundamental question to be answered, what’s in it for us?” The Frenchman replies, “Mr. Gonzales indicated that some additional incentive would be in order. I have managed to pull together a half-dozen different magical items that I can reward you with. The first of these is a magical leather duster that affords additional protection to the wearer; the next item is a Hacksaw of Cutting, that will cut through any object; I have a case of twelve 44-40 rifle cartridges that create a fire where they strike; I have an Invisible Tent large enough for two people to comfortably sleep; I have a pair of boots that allow the wearer to walk on water; and last I have a pocket watch that is a Polymorph Item, allowing the person holding it to change their physical image to one imprinted on the watch.

Morgana inquires about the image and he explains, “Your friend Gonzales knows how to imprint the image, which reminds me.” He then reaches into his pocket and hands her a ring saying “He asked me to reset and recharge this for him, it is also a Polymorph Item. Please give it to him when you see him next.” The group decides that the payment plus enough money for train fare back to Arizona is sufficient. Next they discuss the possibility of maybe using some of the items, specifically the Hacksaw and Boots, to assist with the present operation.

The meal ends and they all head outside. Arcade is still uncertain as to which of their two plans to go with. He suggests to Guillieult “Why don’t you study spells for use with either idea. How long would that take you?” He indicates around five hours so Arcade says, “Fine, meet up with us down by the levee near the ship at around 11:30 tonight.” “We’re doing this tonight?” the wizard exclaims. Arcade says, “Sure, the sooner we do this the better.” Morgana then has the wizard cast an Invisibility Ten-foot Radius spell onto her so that the gang can go investigate the ship.

They silently make their way down to the dock, being sure to all stay close to Morgana. They carefully circumnavigate around the policemen and climb up onto the ship. Most of the ship is deserted, with them seeing four men working in the engine rooms and another two running around the ship performing routine maintenance.

Arcade tells the gang “See, stealing this ship will be easy, there are only a handful of folks here who we’ll just get to assist us.” Morgana says, “And they’ll do this just because we ask them nicely?” Hank says, “No, they’ll do this because we put guns in their faces.” Morgana says, “It’s unlikely they will be willing to just stay on as crew, they’ll see us as pirates.” Arcade replies, “So, we dump their bodies in the Gulf of Mexico.” Louie exclaims, “Kill the crew? Arcade, these are Englishmen. They’re your own people.” He answers, “Yes, but they’re the lower classes.”

Morgana doesn’t favor that plan and says, “Maybe we can just make them forget or confused about us. If that wizard can do a Mass Invisibility spell maybe he knows some type of Mass Hysteria spell.” “Mass hysteria? Haven’t we been doing that all along?” Sam comments. The group then discusses the timing of this, deciding that the early morning hours would be best.

They decide to check out the Captain’s quarters, encountering two more crewmen on board, the Captain’s Yeoman and the ship’s cook. They check some maps and logs, noting that the ship’s next port of call is the Island of Barbados. Arcade points out how that would give them documentation to sail across the Gulf and they’d just have to turn south prior to that island.

They make their way down to the ship’s hold. Between Louie and Morgana they are able to get the padlocks off of the doors to the hold. A survey of the room finds the sarcophagus and four large chests with the other artifacts, which they also open. Morgana makes paper rubbings of all of the magical writings on the sarcophagus and other tablets in the trunks. They find a section of the hold along the river that the Passwall spell could be cast and confirm that they are still above the waterline. They depart, replacing but not fully closing the padlocks.

Getting off the ship they are nearly caught by the policemen who hear some of their movements. They have a quick discussion and conclude that coming in by boat on the opposite side of the ship might be the best approach with either strategy in order to avoid being heard by the policemen. They head back to their hotel to discuss this further, during which time Sam, Hank and Qualtaqa inadvertently wander too far from Morgana and become visible.

Sam and Hank check out of the hotel with all of the group’s luggage. They head back for the dock, leaving Sam, Hank, Qualtaqa and the luggage on the levee wall to wait for Guilleault while Morgana, Arcade and Louie head off in search of a boat to use.

They find one that meets their needs further upriver fastened to a deserted dock, a long wooden pram-style boat that appears strong enough to bear the weight of the casket. The four invisible party members climb onto the boat and untie it from the dock, so that it sails downriver appearing to have just lost its moorings. They allow it to sail by the Jessmond before starting to steer it towards the bank. They land it on the opposite side of a dock out of sight from the Jessmond.

Guillieult arrives with a borrowed wagon drawn by a pair of horses. The group’s luggage is loaded up into the wagon and Qualtaqa agrees to stay and guard it while in elvan form. Guillieult casts an Invisible Ten-Foot Radius spell onto himself, Sam and Hank. He also casts an Invisibility spell onto the boat and they make their way across the water towards the Jessmond, bringing the boat to where they believe the hold to be, although they are not completely certain.

Thursday, March 16th, 1882

Shortly after midnight Louie, Morgana and Arcade make their way up to the railing using Hank’s magical rope and then head back down to the hold. They open up a porthole window and point out where Guillieult should cast the Passwall Spell. He does so, with the group then dropping down ropes to anchor the boat to the side. Once in they decide to try to go with the plan to take the items rather than stealing the ship, as doing so could hopefully be done without alerting anybody to the theft.

Guillieult has a Tensors Floating Disk spell, which at his level is of strong enough to create a force platform that will hold the trunks although he is unsure about the sarcophagus. They have him using this spell and Boots of Levitation that he wears to make several trips with his force platform, bringing each of the chests to the boat.

At Morgana’s suggestion, before attempting to bring down the sarcophagus he first goes into the water and casts a Mud to Stone spell on the river bottom so that if it falls it will not sink into the multiple feet of mud and silt covering the bottom. This proves to be a very good idea, as the weight of the sarcophagus is too much and begins to tip the boat, so Sam and Hank push it off before the boat sinks. Guillieult casts a second disk spell and then brings the sarcophagus back up to the surface of the water. The decision is for him to just maintain it on the platform until they reach shore, with him changing the levitation boots to the water walking ones instead.

Back in the ship, Morgana, Arcade and Louie close the portholes and she then casts a Dispel Magic to end the Passwall spell. They move some crates in the hold and cover them with tarps to give the appearance that the missing items are still there. They then exit through the ship, locking the door behind them. They slide back down the rope to the boat. Hank asks “When does the explosion go off?” Morgana asks, “What explosion?” He replies, “I thought you were going to blow up the ship to cover our escape!” Guillieult replies, “It is covered, nobody knows that we are here.”

They manage to row back to where the wagon has been left. Guillieult first moves the sarcophagus up onto the wagon and then uses the floating disk to bring the trunks. Once everything is loaded onto the wagons the items are covered over by blankets and tarps. Qualtaqa steers the animals through the streets of New Orleans, leaving the populated areas on the main road west of the city at around 2:00 A.M.
 
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Silver Moon

Adventurer
Chapter 87, “Go West Young Man”, Thursday, March 16th, 1882, 6:00 A.M.

The group proceeds westward on the road northeast for the remainder of the night. They reach the town of La Place, Louisiana shortly after dawn and have two choices, heading north along the isthmus between Lake Maurepas and Lake Pontcharta or continuing northwest. They decide to go the northern route as that will get cut thirty miles off their journey, getting them to the train station in Hammond Louisiana several hours sooner than going to Baton Rouge.

Along the way they pass through a town where a casket making operation is located. Guillieult has them stop and purchase the largest size casket, which is big enough to contain the stone sarcophagus and therefore disguise the item. They also purchase black mourning clothes for Morgana and Arcade, with Guillieult explaining “If you tell the people on the train that he died of a very contagious disease they will not attempt to open the casket.” Morgana tells Arcade, “Dear, your Uncle Horace died of smallpox. We’re bringing him west for burial in the family plot.”

They press on, reaching the train station at Hammond, Louisiana at 2:00 P.M. They have a three-hour layover until the next train west so use that time buying supplies, including additional ‘mourning’ clothes. Guillieult says that he will return from there to New Orleans.

The Frenchman purchases the group tickets for the train that will bring them to Houston, followed by another train that will take them to Indian Junction (later Oklahoma City) where they will change trains again that will take them through Indian Territory (Oklahoma), north Texas, New Mexico and on to Flagstaff, Arizona. They will then take another train south and east to Tombstone by way of Phoenix and Tucson.

Because of the number of train transfers and layover times between them Morgana is concerned about the moving of the casket, as it will weigh far more than a normal casket should. Guillieult has brought the materials for scroll creation so uses the next few hours to imprint his remaining five Tensors Floating Disk spells onto the parchment for her to use when needed.

By a quarter past five they are westward bound. Not wanting to let the artifacts out of their sight, Morgana manages to obtain permission for her and Arcade to remain in the baggage car, explaining that they cannot leave the body “for religious reasons”. The train makes stops at what appears to be every town along the rail route, but most of the party does not notice, as they have been awake since fairly early Wednesday morning so sleep soon overtakes them.

Friday, March 17th, 1882, 4:00 A.M.

The train reaches Houston, Texas. Arcade has some difficulty getting Hank and Louie to wake up to exit the train, as they want to sleep for a few more hours. They have a long layover until their next train arrives.

Arcade decides that it is best for them to all just wait at the Houston train station. Hank says, “Ah, I get it. You don’t want to be seen around a town where a bounty hunter was after you three days earlier.” Arcade replies, “No, I just don’t want to be in Texas. If you guys wander off we might miss the train and we’d have to stay here longer.” Hank exclaims, “What’s wrong with Texas?” Arcade replies, “Well, it’s big, flat and full of cows.” Hank snaps, “I’m from Texas.” Arcade adds, “That too.”

By 8:00 A.M. they are riding north of the Train to Indian Junction by way of Dallas. Qualtaqa and Louie join Morgana in the baggage car for this leg of the journey, leaving the three human males in the main passenger car. The train makes stops at several small towns along the way.

At 11:30 A.M. they reach the town of Corsicana, Texas, which is around fifty-five miles south of Dallas. At that stop a man from the railroad enters the train holding a telegram and looking for “Josiah and Morgana Arcadiam.” Arcade is napping and Hank says, “Bring it here good man.” Sam says, “Why do you want it, you can’t read.” Hank says, “I can to. There’s no point in waking up Arcade.” The clerk then says that there is a “Ten dollar fee.” Hank shakes Arcade and says, “Hey, wake up, you’ve got a telegram.”

Arcade grumbles about being awakened and then reluctantly pays the clerk. He looks at the message. “What does it say?” asks Sam. Arcade replies, “Well, the first line reads, “Please pay the Clerk Ten Dollars.” “Great, we’ve been scammed!” Hank exclaims as the train departs the station. Arcade says, “Nah, the rest is important. It was sent by Morgana’s mentor. It was sent from that town in Louisiana where we boarded the train.” He reads the remainder of the telegram to Hank and Sam:

YOU HAVE DONE VERY WELL THUS FAR STOP
BRITISH SHIP STOLEN BY SPANISH MILITARY THURSDAY DAWN STOP
FRENCH MILITARY FOLLOWED TRAIL NORTH STOP
GUILLIEULT BEATEN AND HOSPITALIZED STOP
FRENCH KNOW YOUR PLANNED ROUTE WEST THEN NORTH STOP
SIX TO EIGHT FRENCHMEN ON TRAINS NORTH THAN WEST STOP
WILL REACH DALLAS ONE HOUR PRIOR TO YOUR SCHEDULED ARRIVAL STOP
TAKE ALL NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS STOP
I WILL PLAN TO MEET UP WITH YOU TOMORROW STOP
MANUEL


The telegram sends Sam into a panic. Hank says “Relax Son. It says there are only six to eight of them. We’ve handled worse.” Arcades says, “Yes, I’ll get to kill me some more Frenchmen. Sounds like fun.” Sam points out that the others may not agree and need to be warned. The three contemplate trying to get back to the baggage car on the moving train but opt instead to just wait until the next station, Ennis, Texas, which is thirty miles south of Dallas.

At the stop the three head back to the baggage car and hand Morgana the telegram. She makes the immediate decision that they are getting off the train NOW! Hank starts to argue but she cuts him off, pointing out that the awaiting Frenchmen are probably powerful wizards. She casts another Disk spell from the scroll and they quickly unload the casket, trunks and suitcases. The train departs north. Arcade points out “That train will soon reach Dallas, it won’t take the Frenchmen long to realize we’re not on it.

Hank points out that his home of McKinney Texas is just a little ways north of Dallas. They look at a railroad and conclude there is no easy way to get there without first going through Dallas. They inquire about southbound trains back to Houston. The next one isn’t for another two hours, but there is one arriving in thirty-five minutes going to San Antonio by way of Waco and Austin. Arcade says, “That’s even better, it brings us closer to home. We could transfer there to another train to El Paso.”

While they are waiting Hank sends his mother off a telegram from the train station letting her know that he was in the area. He then buys them all lunch at a local restaurant, some famous Texas Chili that the others conclude could be used to light fires with given how hot it tastes. Arcade complains at great length about the food. Hank replies, “I’m not taking food advice from an Englishman!”

They soon board the southbound train, which is an express rather than a local and gets them to San Antonio stopping only in Waco and Austin rather than all the other small towns along the way. At 5:15 P.M. they transfer over the westbound train to El Paso. While on this train they debate whether from El Paso they should continue north or if it would actually be quicker to buy a wagon and head overland to Promise City, as it is only 180 miles due west from the Texas town.

At 7:30 P.M. they have passed Fort Hancock, Texas and are nearing the town of Acala, Texas, fifty miles southeast of El Paso when Hank notices something very unusual out the window. “What in Sam Houston’s name is that?” he exclaims. Sam and Arcade look up to see a long black cigar-shaped object, 240-feet long and 60-feet in diameter, 100 feet up in the air and flying parallel to the train. Suspended beneath the object by cables, ropes and rigging is a rectangular compartment, twenty-five feet long and ten-feet high and wide. They see people inside the compartment.

Sam says, “Some type of hot air balloon I think.” Arcade says, “Not like any I’ve ever seen or heard of before. It isn’t flying with the wind, and it seems to be keeping up with this train when we’re going close to fifty miles-per-hour!” The object starts to move closer and lower towards the train. Hank comments, “You don’t suppose it being here now is just some sort of coincidence?” “Not hardly,” Arcade says as he opens up his travel bag and removes his sidearm.
 

Silver Moon

Adventurer
Chapter 88, "The Dirigible", Friday, March 17th, 1882:

Arcade, Hank and Sam watch as the airship moves closer to the train. It flies at an altitude of eighty feet above the train from the caboose to the engine. It then begins to drop back and descend. Once it starts to lower Arcade yells, “Let’s go!” The three exit the passenger compartment and climb the ladder up to the roof of the car.

They soon see that their assumption was correct as the dirigible is now matching the speed of the train and hovering twenty-five feet above the roof of the freight car where Louie, Morgana and Qualtaqa are inside with the artifacts. A trapdoor beneath the dirigible’s passenger compartment opens and a rope ladder is dropped down.

Arcade and his gang members are two cars back. They move as quickly as they can upon the roof of the passenger compartment, being careful of their footing as the engineer has poured on extra steam and now increased the speed of the train to fifty miles-per-hour. The train engineer has the train barrel through Fabens, Texas, which had been the last scheduled stop before El Paso. The Fabens Stationmaster quickly tends a telegram twenty-five miles up the line to El Paso alerting them that it appears that a train robbery is in progress.

The three gunslingers successfully jump from the passenger compartment to the rear baggage car, one car back from the one with their friends. Just then a man begins to descend from the rope ladder. He is facing forward towards the front of the train, so does not see the three on the roof. He is attired in a uniform of the French Foreign Legion. “Well, I guess that answers one question,” Arcade says.

They move forward across to the front of the railroad car roof. The first French soldier is now ten feet down the ladder and a second one has now started to descend. “Cover us Sam” Hank exclaims and he jumps across onto the next freight car. Sam draws his revolver as Arcade then makes the jump. Inside the car, Morgana and Qualtaqa both hear the thumps on the roof. They shake Louie to awaken him.

Hank and Arcade both draw their own revolvers and move forward towards the end of the rope ladder now dangling fifteen feet in front of them. Sam tucks his gun back into his belt and jumps across himself. Hank fires a shot into the back of the French soldier who is lowest on the ladder. The shot is not fatal but does cause the man to release the ladder and fall the remaining ten feet to the train roof. The man hits hard and is unable to grasp the roof before he slides off, landing on the rail as the train wheels then crush him.

Hank grabs onto the ladder and begins to climb up. Arcade fires up into the other soldier, killing him with the second shot. The man’s body falls the fifteen feet down, barely missing Hank, and bounces off of the train’s roof. Below, Louie and Qualtaqa have both drawn their weapons, uncertain of what all the sounds above them mean but fearing the worst.

Hank scurries up the ladder as quickly as he can, having an easier time once Arcade also grabs onto it and adds the extra weight. Hank is less than five feet from the dirigible’s trap door when a French Soldier holding a rifle looks down below from the compartment. Hank had anticipated that and had his magical rope ready. He lasso’s the man's rifle, pulling it from the man’s grip. The man reaches out through the trap door to grab the rifle, unable to do so as Hank flings it to the side.

Sam reaches the bottom of the ladder now and Arcade yells, “Just stay there and anchor it.” Sam does as instructed, which pulls the ladder taut. That enables Hank to quickly ascend the next two rope rungs, grabbing the arm of the man who had reached for the rifle. Hank pulls him down and through the trap door. The man falls the twenty-five feet down, kicking Arcade as he passes by. “Hey, be careful,” Arcade exclaims. The man lands on the passenger car next to Sam, who uses his foot to immediately shove the soldier off the train.

At this point Hank reaches the trapdoor and pulls his upper body inside, revolver still in hand. He sees seven men inside. One is the driver of the vehicle, who is at the front of the compartment and concentrating on steering the vehicle forward. Five are French Soldiers attired identically to the three who had left via the ladder. The soldiers are all carrying rifles, which they draw to their shoulders and take aim at the intruder. The remaining man is human with a thin mustache and attired in a suit. Upon spotting Hank he begins to cast a spell with the incantation in French.

Hank ignores the firing squad taking aim at him and fires his revolver into the spellcaster. The man is hit in the chest, stopping the spell. The five soldiers fire, with four shots missing and going through the open doorway with one hitting Hank in the shoulder. Ignoring the pain for the moment, Hank takes a second shot into the French mage, fatally striking the face.

Hank is then pleasantly surprised to see that the soldiers are using older single-shot breech loading rifles and have to all stop to reload. He empties his revolver into them, dropping two and wounding two more who manage to remain on their feet. The remaining three shoot, again with only one connecting, for a serious shot in the chest. Hank manages to remain awake and lowers himself out of the doorway and a few rope rungs down the ladder as Arcade climbs past him, revolver in hand.

Before Hank passes out from the pain he uses his magical rope to entwine himself to the rope ladder. Meanwhile Arcade draws his arm through the doorway and peers inside as the soldiers are finishing reloading for their next volley. Arcade shoots one between the eyes and yells in French “Surrender.” Ignoring his yell, the two remaining soldiers both fire. The shots hit Arcade's newly acquired magical long coat and deflect off for no damage. Arcade pivots and gut shots two bullets into one of the men who Hank had previously wounded, causing him to drop. The remaining soldier drops his rifle, raises his hands and yells out in French “I surrender! I surrender!”

Sam is halfway up the ladder and Arcade yells down, “It’s under control. We won.” Arcade climbs up into the airship and points to the pilot. “You going to cause me any trouble?” The pilot shakes his head and replies in a German accent “Nine, No.” Sam reaches Hank and says, “He’s passed out, and we need to get him down.” Arcade says, “No, get him up here.” He points his gun at the surrendered soldier and commands him to help Sam pull up the ladder and Hank.

Once they are inside Arcade kicks the trapdoor shut then tells the pilot “Pull up and away from the train but keep pace with it a quarter mile back.” “Yah,” the pilot answers. Arcade has Sam cover the pilot and soldier while he searches the body of the French wizard. He finds three vials of elixirs one of which is marked with the French word for “Heal”. Arcade pours it into Hanks’ mouth saying, “What the Hell, he’ll be dead otherwise.”

Hank regains consciousness and mutters, “Did we win?” “Yeah, you just stay put,” Arcade replies. They continue to follow the train as the skies darken. Once they see the buildings and lights of El Paso in the distance Arcade commands the pilot to land, stopping the airship behind a hill around two miles south of the town. They help anchor and tie down the vehicle down to rocks and trees.

The prisoner is made to remove the bodies of the soldiers and wizard from the airship, finding one of the ones that Hank shot to still be alive. Arcade allows the man to give him basic first aid. The two soldiers and the pilot are then tied and gagged. Arcade tells Sam “I’ll stay here with these guys. You head into town and get the others.” Sam heads off on foot towards El Paso.
 
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Silver Moon

Adventurer
Chapter 89, “Down in the west Texas town of El Paso”, Friday, March 17th, 1882, 7:00 P.M.

Louie, Morgana and Qualtaqa were unsure of that was happening outside of the moving freight car. They had heard a number of loud thumps and bangs on the roof above them, followed by gunshots, and then the sounds abruptly ceased. The train continued on for another twenty minutes before coming to a stop. They then heard sounds outside which Morgana interprets to be military officers giving orders to a large number of troops. She instructs Louie and Qualtaqa “Keep your weapons handy but not drawn, we don’t want either of you getting shot by accident.”

The freight car doors are then opened from the outside and they see around a dozen armed United States Army troops facing inside. The train conductor is standing beside them and he tells the sergeant in charge “It’s alright, they’re supposed to be in there.” “At ease men,” the sergeant says. Morgana asks the sergeant “What is going on?” He replies, “Attempted train robbery Ma’am. Nothing for you to worry about right now since the Engineer managed to outrun them. But you’d best get away from this area as soon as you can just in case those robbers may not have completely given up. Don’t worry though, it’s nothing that we can’t handle.”

Louie goes to the passenger compartment to find the others. They are nowhere to be found and the conductor does not remember seeing them leave. He returns and tells this to Morgana. She replies, “Well, they’ll just have to find us. Let’s get all of our things unloaded.” She uses another Floating Disk spell from the scroll to again levitate the casket as Louie and Qualtaqa act as pallbearers, moving it to the side of a building at the far end of the railroad depot where Morgana maintains the spells so that she can continue to move it later. Louie and Qualtaqa go back to move each of the four trunks of artifacts and the group’s luggage.

While all of this is going on a battalion of nearly one hundred soldiers have taken up positions around the train depot in anticipation of a possible enemy attack and are now in the process of moving two cannon into position. Amidst all of this Sam soon wanders into town. He reaches the train station and soon locates the others. He updates them as to what has transpired. Morgana has him go with Louie to rent a wagon and horses to haul the things back to the others. The items are loaded up and the wagon is ridden out of town.

As they ride around the hill two miles away Louie is flabbergasted by the size of the airship. Morgana is still maintaining the Disk spell and asks Arcade, “Are we loading onto that thing?” Hank is feeling much better now, having now received both of Arcade’s healing spells and exclaims, “Hades Yes, I’m keeping it!”

They check out the size of the compartment and conclude that all of the items should fit inside but that the weight might be too much. Morgana says that she will keep the Disk spell running under the casket to keep the weight down. They have a debate as to what to do with the prisoners. Louie says, “We could just turn them over to the Army. They didn’t seem to be too happy about the train being attacked.” Arcade says, “They’ll be even less thrilled when they find the attack was by a foreign country.” Hank says, “That’s why we keep a large army around here. There are border disputes regularly, although those are usually with Mexico and not France.”

Qualtaqa points out that the horse and wagon should be returned. He offers to take them back along with the prisoners. Since he is not overly thrilled with the concept of flying through the air he offers to travel back overland in his centaur form rather than flying. He says that he will meet back up with the party in Promise City. Arcade agrees to the plan. They decide to leave the dead bodies where they are but make sure to search them first for any valuables. Qualtaqa becomes a centaur again heads north, leading the horses and wagon back to town with the two French soldiers, the German pilot having been left with the others to provide flying service.

Since the Disk spell only has a couple of hours left on it they decided to head off right away. Morgana unties and ungags the pilot and asks him his name to which he replies, “Hans Schmidt.” He then asks, “Who are you people?” She replies, “Your new bosses.” She then tells him their destination. Hans consults his maps and estimates that the winds are in their favor so they can expect a cruising speed of forty-five to fifty miles-per-hour, which would get them to Promise City in approximately three-and-a-half to four hours. “That sure beats the three-and-half to four days it would have been overland,” Sam comments.

Hank fastens his Texas flag onto the dirigible. “What are you doing that for?” Louie asks. He replies, “It’s my message. Don’t mess with Texas.” “Shouldn’t we fly the country’s flag?” Sam asks. Hank replies, “Son, haven’t you ever heard of the Republic of Texas. We were a country.” Arcade tells Sam, “Stop arguing with the guy. Nobody’s going to see it at night anyway.”

The dirigible is untied and takes to the air. Morgana has the pilot fly low and well south of the town to keep from being spotted and then due west towards Cochise County, Arizona. The first one hundred miles of the flight are along the New Mexico/Mexico border. Hank is as excited as a kid in a candy store. He gestures to Hans and tells Arcade “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” Arcade replies, “You’ve never seen a German?” Hank says, “No you idiot, the airship.”

Morgana asks, “So Hans, what’s the story on this contraption?” Arcade interjects, “And why were you working for the French Army?” Hans says, “Ah, this airship is a German and French collaboration. It is a prototype that was pressed into service prematurely by French wizards who were financiers of this project. They arrived at our Mexican factory early this morning. That wizard who you shot ordered my employers to have me fly the craft to Pecos, Texas. That is where those soldiers boarded.”

Arcade says, “So you aren’t a soldier working for the French Army?” Hans replies, “Nine, no. I am a civilian under the employ of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, a retired German General.” Hank says, “You aren’t any more. You now work for Arcade’s Gang!” Hans blinks and says, “The American gunslingers?” Arcade says, “Yep, that’s us. And you can consider this airship to be officially confiscated. Do you have a problem with any of that?” Hans replies, “Nine, no. Although the Count should probably be notified of these developments.”

“So who is this Count?” Morgana asks. Hans says, “Ferdinand von Zeppelin was born in Konstanz, Germany back in 1838. He joined the Prussian Army when he was twenty. Five years later he traveled to the United States as a military observer and consultant to the Union Army during your American Civil War. That was when he first went aloft in a balloon, which the Army used for reconnaissance of Confederate troops prior to battles.

When he returned to Germany he tried to convince them to invest in balloons but found little interest. He fought bravely during the Franco-German war of 1870 to 1871, which had begun when Emperor Napoleon III invaded Germany. France had some initial victories but then Germany fought back with a vengeance and eventually defeated France. Zeppelin was promoted to Brigadier General during the war. He was in charge of one of the Brigades that occupied Paris during 1871.

That was when he met the French balloonist Henri Giffard. Giffard had created the first dirigible almost twenty-years earlier. Giffard had come up with the cigar-shape for the craft and the use of fore and aft rudders and propellers but consistently had difficulty making the concept work. He used a series of helium-filled balloons fastened together but had difficulty keeping them together in the aerodynamic shape during flight, his longest flight being only seventeen miles. His steam- powered motors could also achieve a maximum speed of only three miles-per-hour, making them impractical compared to other modes of transportation such as rails.

The Count von Zeppelin and Henri Giffard then began a collaboration that has now lasted a decade. The count introduced the idea of using a rigid frame covered by a single rubberized cloth and using hydrogen rather than helium in the balloons. They realized that the key to better speed was a better engine and developed the idea of a battery-powered electric propulsion device. Unfortunately that also substantially increased the weight, so magical levitation devices were needed to counterbalance it.

When political upheaval occurred they realized that Paris wasn’t the best place to develop the craft, but German was also impractical due to restrictions on the use of magic. They eventually settled upon establishing their factory in the city of Chihuahua, in the Mexican Province of the same name, which is immediately south of west Texas and New Mexico. This airship was the first full-sized working prototype. The Count will be very upset when he hears of its loss.”

Arcade asks, “Won’t he just build another one?” Schmidt replies, “He was strongly opposed to the French backers taking it today. This will most likely end the collaboration with Giffard. The Count was becoming disillusioned with that relationship anyway and this will just be the last straw. The Count no longer needs him anyway to continue this work. I’m sure that he’ll just build a new factory somewhere else.” Morgana smiles and says, “I think I know just the place to suggest to him.”

Arcade says, “That’s not a bad idea. If this von Zeppelin worked with the United States Army before he can build upon this relationship. I’m sure that he can blame this current mishap entirely on the French.” Hans says, “That would actually be rather truthful.” Morgana says, “We can work out the details later. Let’s just continue back home.”

As they reach the southwestern tip of New Mexico, where Hidalgo County dips thirty miles further south for the border to then continue parallel to Arizona, they see lights and movement some forty miles south above the Mexican town of Ascension. As they continue west they see this light moving away from Ascension to the northwest. Hans says, "Those are probably the other Frenchman." "WHAT!" Louie exclaims.

Hans says, "The dirigible only had space for ten people and they had five wizards and three dozen troops. The other French wizards in Pecos spoke of using teleport spells to bring them to Mexico where some cannon were stored. I believe they were going to set up somewhere between El Paso and your home, assuming you would be traveling overland." "That would have been helpful to know before!" Arcade exclaims.

Hans replies, "Why?" It looks like they are travelling to the high ground of the Animas Mountains. We have no lights on and are too far away for them to spot us and will be long gone by the time they reach the mountains. "Unless something goes wrong," Sam states.

Fifteen miles later, as they approach the first of the Animas Mountains, Sam's words ring true as the Floating Disk spell ends and the one-ton weight of the stone sarcophagus is added to the compartment. The added weight is too much for the dirigible, which begins to rapidly loose altitude, dropping towards the mountains at a steep angle.
 

Silver Moon

Adventurer
Chapter 90, “Home Sweet Home”, Friday, March 17th, 1882, 1:00 P.M.

The Zeppelin begins to fall at a rate of almost fifteen-feet-per-second towards the cliffs and mountains that are only a little more than a thousand feet below. “We need to lighten the load!” Hank exclaims. Arcade gestures to the door and states “Feel free to jump out.” Hank says, “Just push the whole sarcophagus out, you can’t hurt the guy, he’s already dead.” Morgana refuses, rumbling through her backpack for the scroll that has one remaining Floating Disk spell.

Hans uses his skills to adjust the fore and aft rudders, propellers and planes to change the angle of the descent from the steep twenty-five degrees that they started at to a more reasonable ten-degrees, which also slows their descent to ten feet-per-second. He says, “I’ve gotten us an extra minute or so. I’ll look for a possible landing site, but most of what I see are jagged rocks.”

Arcade tells Morgana, “Look, I don’t want to hurt the artifacts but I won’t get us killed trying to save it. When we get closer to the ground it’s going off!” “Hold on!” she exclaims as she pulls out the scroll. She begins to read the spell as the Animis Mountains draw closer and closer. They are within fifteen-seconds of crashing when the spell finally goes into effect and Hans is once again able to fully control the craft. They gain altitude again for the trip back to Promise City.

As they approach the New Mexico/Arizona border Hans changes direction to have them fly well north of the towns of Rodeo, New Mexico and Galeyville, Arizona so as to continue to avoid being seen. They travel directly above the mountainous rock formation known as Cochise Head, situated where the Chiricahua and Dos Cabezas Mountains meet. The skies to the west of them are now filled with lightning storms that appear to be moving eastward, causing Hans to be concerned. He spots a good potential location for the airship to stop, in a valley five miles northeast of town between Bowie and Fisk Mountains where the cliffs on the southeastern side of Bowie Mountain will provide both concealment and protection to the craft. He strongly suggests that they stop there.

The group discusses specifically where to go. Hank and Arcade want to fly the Zeppelin right down the center of Main Street to announce their triumphant return, but the others are against that given that they do not know the status of Gonzales trying to clear their names as well as what reception they can expect from Marshall Wyatt Earp. Hans is also concerned with the prospect of drunk cowboys firing their guns at the hydrogen-filled Zeppelin. Morgana points out that the final Disk spell will run out in a few hours, so they’d best come up with an idea soon.

Since it is Friday night and the mines nearest town are closed for the weekend they consider unloading the artifacts and storing them in a mine. The most obvious choice is the Liberty Hill Mine, which the Gang had worked at before as guards. It is also just a short distance from the El Parador, where they had left their horses. They decide to fly within a half-mile of town, unload the items, and then have Hans fly the craft to the location that he had identified. Arcade, Morgana and Louie get off with the artifacts while Hank and Sam stay with the airship to ensure that Hans does as instructed with it.

The trio with the artifacts finds a secluded spot near where they exited the craft to store the four trunks, leaving Arcade to stay and guard them, as Louie and Morgana head into town with the Disk spell still running and carrying the sarcophagus. They approach the mine, whose doors have been locked for the weekend but Louie is able to unlock them. The sarcophagus is levitated inside and lowered, with Louie helping to push it off of the disk.

They then make their way over to the El Parador’s stables, where Morgana and Arcade’s horses are found and saddled up. Louie heads inside and inform Dorita, the Cantina and Inn’s owner, that Arcade’s Gang is back and is taking two of the horses. She confirms that her Grandfather was able to help clear their names of the murder charges.

Saturday, March 18, 1882:

Shortly after midnight they head back to the mine, where Louie agrees to stay and guard the sarcophagus while Morgana rides back to where they had left Arcade and the chests. The chests are slid onto the Floating Disk and then brought back to the mine prior to the spell elapsing where they are unloaded beside the sarcophagus. Arcade returns the horses to the El Parador then rejoins his wife and Louie in the mine where the doors are secured and they then go to sleep.

At 8:30 A.M. Sam wakes up Hank and Hans when he notices a trio of men a few hundred yards away and approaching, two humans and a dwarf, one armed with a rifle. Hans and Sam both strap on their side arms and exit the passenger compartment with Hans as the other trio approaches. The dwarf is the first to speak, pointing to the dirigible and says, “What the hell is that thing?” Hank replies, “A type of balloon. It is a secret weapon of the United States Army so don’t tell anybody.”

Sam asks the men who they are. The humans introduce themselves as Humphrey Lewis and Charlie Mearl and the dwarf as Torvald MacNaulty. Lewis and MacNaulty say that they are owners of the Fisk Mountain Mine, with mining operations on the opposite side of the mountain southeast of the valley. Mearl is one of their guards. The miners offer to bring over a fresh pot of hot coffee and some hot breakfast, which Hank happily accepts.

They spend the better part of the morning chatting with the miners and being shown a tour of the mining operations, which are still in their infancy although they have struck a rich vein of silver. The miners are noticeably impressed when they discover that the others are members of Arcade’s Gang. The miners give them an update of what is going on in town. Hank is concerned about Wyatt Earp and is relived to hear that he is temporarily away. Sam asks, “So, with him gone who is in charge.” “Sounds like we are,” Hank interjects. Lewis assures him that there is a pair of deputies, including Wyatt’s brother Warren.

Morgana gets her two companions up at around 9:00 A.M. She sends Louie over to the El Parador to get breakfast for the three of them and also to leave a message for Manuel Gonzales as to where they are. After breakfast Arcade gets his and three other horses and rides out to the dirigible to bring the others back to town. The miners and guards agree to guard the dirigible for them, which Hans makes sure is well secured with both the controls and compartment’s door locked up with chains and a padlock.

Around 10:30 A.M. they are all back together. They leave Hans with Louie to guard the artifacts while the others head over to the El Parador. Gambler Conrad Booth is enjoying his first meal of the day and approaches them, letting them know that he had been the one to meet with Judge Isby and has cleared up the misunderstanding with the wanted poster. He returns their passports to them. They think him for his efforts.

Gonzales soon joins up with them, lighting a candle and casting a spell to place a spell around their table giving them privacy. He is thrilled that they made it back safely to town. He becomes concerned when they tell of the French wizards and soldiers they had spotted in New Mexico. He says, “That’s a problem. They’ll soon realize they missed you and probably come here.” “Sounds like we have some unfinished business to take care of,” Arcade states.

Morgana asks about what to do with the items, mentioning where they are currently located. Gonzales says that the four trunks are not a problem, that he has somewhere safe within the building to put them and will get the employees of the El Parador to help him move them once it gets dark, adding that a heavy rainstorm is expected from noon until almost midnight so should also help to provide adequate cover for the transfer of the chests.

The sarcophagus is a different matter altogether and he suggests hiding it in a cave in Apache Territory where the Indians would not let the French find or get to. They will need to use the dirigible to move it, so will not be able to do so until well into the night once the lightning storm ends.

That plan will also give the group most of the day to rest, although there are currently no available rooms at the El Parador at the moment as a recent Dwarven Festival called Moradin’s Day has taken place and the inn is now full up with dwarves. Hearing that, Arcade decides that the deserted mine would probably be a better place to sleep anyways. Dorita offers to save them some rooms once the dwarves move out. “Well fumigated I hope,” Hank adds.

Louie announces that he is going to go visit his girlfriend Mary Wong. Hank says, “You’ve sure gone a long way just to get yourself slapped.” Morgana says, “I think he’s hoping to get kissed instead.” Gonzales shows him where the trunk of items for her has been placed. Louie drags the trunk over to the Wong house and knocks on the door. Mary’s father, Charlie Wong, answers the door. He takes one look at Louie and says, “Go away, we already got one,” he exclaims. “One what?” Louie says. “One everything, you go away,” he states.

Mary pops up in the room and expresses pleasure over Louie’s return and asks her father to let him in. Louie presents the chest, which he opens to show it filled with presents. Charlie reconsiders and lets him inside.

It rains for most of the afternoon. Morgana checks with her druid mentor, an elderly wood elf named Mother Jimenez and confirms that the storms will cease at 11:00 PM. They plan on sending Hans and Hank to ride back out to the Zeppelin at 10:00 PM to fly it to the mine just as soon as the storms cease. They also decide to bring along all of their weapons in case they decide to deal wit the French sodliers afterwards. The group sleeps for the afternoon. Gonzales arrives at the cave at around 6:00 PM, offering to watch after the artifacts while the group heads over to the El Parador for dinner.
 

Silver Moon

Adventurer
Chapter 91, “Establishing Roots in the Community”, Saturday, March 18th, 1882, 6:00 P.M.

The Gang sits down for dinner at the El Parador. Dorita brings them all full plates of food and Morgana compliments her cooking saying, “I’ve really missed you cooking. The food over in England was awful, they boiled everything!” Arcade exclaims, “Who are you to complain about boiled food! You grew up in an Irish household.”

The gang gets into a debate about what to do with the dirigible with Hank insisting that they need to keep it as their primary mode of transportation. Louie says, “But you’re a Texas cowboy, aren’t you supposed to have a horse as your main transportation?” Arcade says, “Nah, he’d rather keep the horse as his primary love interest.” Hank says, “The balloon is a wonderful invention. I think you should all embrace the concept of the balloon.” Louie says, “I’d rather embrace Mary Wong.”

While they are dining Gonzales returns accompanied by the male employees of the El Parador who are carrying two of the trunks. He assures the party that he left trusted guards back at the mine. He heads upstairs with them, keeping a watchful eye on the trunks. They then depart and soon return with the other two trunks. Gonzales heads upstairs and does not immediately return.

Conrad Booth arrives for dinner and is gestured to join them. Arcade asks, “So Conrad, how is it that Wyatt Earp got to be the Marshall of this town?” Booth replies, “Well, the Merchant’s Association hired him primarily to keep you guys away.” Hank says, “Guess that didn’t work too well.” Conrad says, “Well, he helped lay down the law right away once he arrived, killed a couple of guys who were disturbing the peace.”

“And since then?” Louie asks. Conrad replies, “He’s been kept pretty busy. A group of cattle rustlers known as the Cowboy Gang have been causing trouble the last few months. Then in January the infamous bank robber Deadeye Douglas and his gang robbed Condon’s Bank. Earp also had a shootout with one of the saloonkeepers in town.” “And here at the El Parador?” Morgana asks. He replies, “No great change since you left. Dorita and Pedro make sure that things stay peaceful around here. Too bad you didn’t get back sooner, they held a pretty exciting party here two nights ago.”

“Anything else new in town?” Hank asks. Conrad replies, “Well, Several houses and businesses were destroyed when the dynamite shed at Sam Slade’s Hardware blew up. The owner of the Lone Star Dance Hall and Saloon ran off with a saloon girl so his wife sold the place. The new owners now call it the Lucky Lady. The owner of the Trail Dust Saloon was the one who shot at Wyatt Earp. He’s now dead and his saloon is the Arizona Territorial Office Building. And the town just got a new Priestess for the Greek and Roman church in town.”

Booth then asks, “So, what exactly did you guys do over in England?” Morgana gestures to Arcade and says, “We got married.” Arcade adds, “And we visited my family.” Morgana adds, “Yeah, I discovered that my brother-in-law and father-in-law were possessed demons and monsters.” Conrad says, “A lot of people think that about their in-laws.” Louie says, “Yeah, but we managed to help them get better.” Arcade looks at Morgana and says, “You want to talk in-laws? We found your father naked and living in a cave.” Conrad says, “So, she’s half-elvan, Native American elves do that.” Arcade says, “Except that this was the human side of her family and in Ireland.”

Louie interjects, “We also smuggled an elephant out of England.” “An elephant?” Booth exclaims. Morgana says, “We brought it across the Atlantic for P.T. Barnum’s circus.” Conrad says, “That guy sure gets around. He sent Buffalo Bill Cody here to Cochise County to hunt down a dragon.” “Did he find one?” Sam asks. Conrad replies, “Yeah and he killed it then dragged it back east for Barnum to stuff and display at his museum.”

Conrad asks, “So, are you back to stay?” Arcade says, “Planning to, looks like no rooms at the inn at the moment.” Conrad says, “Just on weekends, that’s when the dwarven miners come to town and since this is the only hotel that takes non-humans they come here. They should have some vacancies tomorrow night, Monday at the latest.” Morgana says, “We should seriously think about buying a house.”

Sam notices a copy of a newspaper lying over near the piano with the banner “Tombstone Epitaph – Promise City Edition” and comments, “They have a new newspaper? Did that other one go out of business?” Conrad says, “The Herald is still barely hanging on, only publishing every –other-week at this point while the local edition of that Tombstone paper comes out every four to five days. An overeager halfling reporter is in charge of it and has had a lot of success. His paper’s tend to be three or four times the size of the Herald.”

Arcade rubs his chin and says, “You know…that Baxter guy who runs the Herald had himself a pretty nice house. You say his business is in trouble?” Conrad smiles and says, “Yes, it certainly is.” Arcade says, “Maybe we should go pay him a visit. I’ve always been interested in the news business.” [Hank’s player quips, “Sure, with the blimp we could do our own eye-in-the-sky traffic reports.”] Sam asks, “But what about that overeager halfling competitor?” Hank says, “We could hire him, he’d probably just want a couple of pies a week.”

Once the dinner is over they decide to go follow up on this idea. Morgana and Arcade make their way over to the Promise City Herald’s offices, finding them closed but the typesetter Josiah Young inside. They knock on the door and the terrified boy lets them in exclaiming,” I didn’t write anything about you! Honest!” They explain what they want and their interest in becoming his new employer. He expresses relief and satisfaction about that idea. They ask about the building, being told that Baxter owns both the office and his home, plus the building that Young and his family live at and rent from Baxter.

They decide to go pay Baxter a visit, finding him half-drunk at the Gay Lady Variety Hall and Saloon. They help escort him back to his home without explaining what they want. He is rather intimidated but appears to sober up as soon as they tell him they want to buy him out. He says, “You want to buy my paper?” Hank says, “Yeah, Louie here has always wanted to be a beat reporter.” Arcade says, “Yes, we’ll send him out to report and he’ll get beaten.”

They begin to negotiate price, indicating that they want all three buildings including the contents of both the newspaper office and Young household but that Baxter may keep the furnishings and contents of his house provided that he and his things are out of it by noon the next day. Baxter starts by asking $ 1,200 to which they counter with $ 500. They eventually settle upon a price of $ 950. They drag him over to the office of lawyer Mitchell Berg to handle all of the necessary paperwork and witness the cash transaction.

Next they stop by the Alhambra saloon to look for the Tombstone Epitaph’s reporter, as that is where he stays when in town. The saloonkeeper Steve Lord tells them “Chumbley came in on the early afternoon stage but left again for Tombstone an hour later as he needed to go back and revise the front page of his paper. He should be back tomorrow.” “We’ll catch him then,” Arcade states.

They head back to the El Parador to relax and celebrate their new business venture. Conrad Booth has already left for his gambling table at the Long Branch Saloon. Morgana sits down at the piano and begins to play and sing some lively tunes, including many from the pubs that she visited in England, Ireland and Scotland. Gambler Carlos Ramirez is leading a card game, working girls Pepita Alvarez and Angelica Huesca are entertaining a pair of male patrons at another table, and many of the other familiar Saturday night regulars eating and drinking. It continues to pour outside.

A stagecoach pulls up outside and lets two human woman off who head into the Cantina. One heads into the kitchen to talk briefly with Dorita. The other woman takes a seat alone at one of the tables and gives the Gang a curious look. The first woman comes out from the kitchen accompanied by the Cantina's handyman Grant Keebler. She asks Keebler to escort her friend over to the bathhouse. After they leave the woman heads upstairs. When Keebler returns Sam asks who the two women were. He says that the one who he walked to the bath house if Miss. Florencia, the town's new Priestess and that her friend is Mrs. Kale, an El Parador resident and the pianist at the Lucky Lady.

The others continue to relax as they still have a few hours before they have to head out. The place starts to get crowded with patrons on this rainy Saturday evening. Dorita and Pedro’s daughter Sonoma no longer waitresses there, having established a ranch a mile outside of town, but they are now assisted by a young human girl named Ginnie.

By 9:00 PM the place is packed with elves, dwarves and a few humans with Morgana accompanying elvan musician Estaban Fuente with entertaining the house. An hour later the storm is at its most violent point, with loud clasps of thunder and lightning striking near, so Hank opts to wait a while longer before riding out to get the balloon.

The weather continues to get worse, with a few exterior shutters being torn from their hinges and blankets of water striking against the walls. An almost deafening clasp of thunder sounds accompanied by a massive bolt of lightning that forks just above the El Parador and strikes the ground on all three sides of the building but does no damage other than three burn marks on the ground. The storm then begins to slow down in intensity, allowing Hank and Hans to then ride off to get the transportation.
 

orchid blossom

First Post
If Kate knew she wasn't news with Conrad, she might be just a bit miffed. ;)

Seriously, it's fun to see when the campaigns affect each other. Good thing it doesn't happen too often or it would be horribly complicated. :)
 

Silver Moon

Adventurer
Yes Orchid, it can be a little challenging running parallel campaigns with two different gaming groups, although thus far the overlaps have been minimal. Right now the 'Arcade's Gang' posting is a few character days ahead of the "Wizards, Whiskey and Wonderful Things" Story Hour, and so much happened in our Play-by-Post game during those days that it will be at least a dozen chapters until we get to that same point in the story. Now, back to this tale....


Chapter 92, “The Atlantian’s Mausoleum”, Saturday, March 18th, 1882, 11:00 P.M.

Arcade, Louie, Morgana and Sam accompany Manuel Gonzales back to the nearby Liberty Hill Mine where Gonzales dismisses the two men he had left on guard duty. He has brought with him some magical levitation devices. They are magnetic so he attached them to the metal handles of the casket and casts the incantation to activate them. Nothing immediately happens.

“Well, when will those things kick in?” Arcade asks. Gonzales replies, “They already have, but the total weight of the stone sarcophagus still exceeds the lifting capacity of the devices by a good 300 to 400 pounds. We’ll still have to help lift it ourselves even with the magic doing the majority of the work. They decide to wait until the dirigible has arrived to move it, given that Hank is also one of the strongest in the party.

The rain has now ended but the damp stormy weather has managed to keep most of the townsfolk inside, so nobody sees the large dark object approaching from the northwest. Hans uses his skills to turn the Zeppelin around and lowers it so that the large rear door of the passenger compartment is as close to the mine entrance as possible. Hank helps the others to move the casket on board, with the levitation devices being sufficient to carry enough of the weight to get the craft airborne.

They fly back northeast until they are clear of the town and then turn to the southeast. Gonzales directs them deep into the heart of the Chiricahua Mountains, home of the Apache. Hank has a stray thought and says, “Hold on a minute, what’s to keep us from being attacked by Apaches?” Morgana tells him that a short while ago she had sent a bird to deliver a message she wrote out to the Apache Shaman. Sam asks, “Do we have any way of knowing that it delivered the message?” Arcade says, “Sure, when we see a barrage of flaming arrows flying up at us we can assume that it didn’t”

It is a relatively short flight as they see the distant lights to the east of the town of Galeyville, Arizona. Gonzales directs them to towards the side of a mountain around two miles away from the town. He has Hans fly towards a point about two-thirds of the way up the mountain along the eastern side. They see a road up the mountain through the thin forests that ends at a clearing with a large pile of rubble near the entrance to a large cave. Gonzales has Hans bring the Zeppelin to a plateau over a hundred feet above this where two more caves head into the mountain.

There is not enough room on the twenty-foot-wide and fifty-foot long plateau for Hans to land so he hovers just above the outer edge of it as Hank uses his magical rope to safely get himself, Arcade and Sam down onto the plateau. Ropes are then used to help secure the sarcophagus, which is then lowered down to the plateau that the other three pull it onto. Sure shot Sam is pulled back up to watch Hans while Morgana and Gonzales slide down the rope to join the others. Hans then flies the blimp a little bit further out so that there is no risk of the wind blowing it against any of the jagged rocks on the mountainside.

Before doing anything else Morgana tells the others to wait until she has spoken with the Apache, who she says are nearby and now observing them. She makes some animal calls and hears similar ones in response. A group of four men all in native garb comprised of three high elves and one human come out from hiding. The leader of the group is the Shaman Kajika, who they had all met the previous year at the same ceremony where they met Geronimo. He introduces his three companions as Kanweock, Gray Fox and Harvey Knowles.

Morgana eyes Knowles suspiciously. Kajika explains to her in the Apache language, “He helped our tribe to survive the last winter. Game was scare and he brought us cattle. When the human authorities sought to arrest him we offered to provided him sanctuary with the tribe.” She asks, “Why were they after him.” Kajika replies, “The cattle were not his.” She says, “Can he be trusted?” Kajika replies, “Yes. The United States Army knows that he is now here under our protection. If he leaves our land he will be arrested and imprisoned. His leaving would also jeopardize the most recent treaty with the military so we will ensure that he does not attempt to leave.”

Morgana translates this for the others. “Why did they bring him here?” Arcade asks. Knowles answers directly “Because the Apache are afraid of these caves and will not enter them. I used to live in them so know which passageways to take. Consider me your guide.” Gonzales says, “I know of these caves. Please bring us to the cross-shaped room with the three chambers deep within the mountain.” Knowles says, “Yeah, I figured that was where you wanted to go.” Knowles takes a torch and leads the way.

They head into the cave to their left, which begins with a twenty-foot diameter room with a passageway in the rear. It continues for fifty feet before curving right at a downward angle. After another hundred feet it reaches a T-intersection at which point Knowles leads them to the right. They continue down a series of downward sloping corridors and avoid a number of side passageways that sprout off from it. A few sections of the corridor are narrower and it is difficult to get the sarcophagus through them. They eventually reach a section with a pit and narrow wooden bridge crossing it. Hanks rope is used to help get the casket and people across this section.

On the opposite side of the pit is an iron door. The door is locked but Knowles has a key. He opens it to an X-shaped room that is lit with magical light. Each of the two sections of the X is sixty feet long and twenty feet wide. They walk to the center of the room where they can see that the at each of the other three sections of the X there is a chamber. Dust and rubble cover the room and the chamber on the left has a partially collapsed roof.” “What was this place?” Sam asks.

Knowles replies, “Native legends say that the Dark Elves once lived here. Most recently it was the Headquarters for the Cowboy Gang’s leaders. That ended in January when the Earps cornered them here.” He gestures to the chamber with the partially collapsed roof and says, “The Gang’s leader Curly Bill Brocious died in there after the Earps tossed in some sticks of dynamite.”

He gestures to the chamber at the opposite end of the doorway and says, “That was Johnny Ringo’s room. He escaped and still has another key to the iron door to this room.” He gestures to chamber on the right and says, “Better room belonged to Tom and Frank McLaury. They both died here” Arcade says, “The McLaury brothers? We kept those from getting killed by the Earps last October in Tombstone.” Louie comments, “Looks like all we did was postpone it.”

The casket is brought into the chamber to the right. Gonzales casts a spell and then removes the levitation devices. He then casts some magical wards onto it casket. They then exit the room and he casts another spell, which appears to create a stone wall blocking the doorway. They exit the chamber and the door is locked. Gonzales then casts another spell on the iron door and pockets the key.

Gonzales warns Knowles “For everyone’s safety please make sure that nobody attempts to come down here to open these up….that includes you.” Knowles replies, “I won’t, robbing from the dead isn’t my style. The Apache will make sure nobody disrupts your mausoleum.”

Sunday, March 19th, 1882:

It is shortly after midnight when they all exit the caves and Morgana speaks to Kajika about keeping the caves safe from all intruders. Hans flies back in and the magical rope is used to pull the others back up to the Zeppelin. Arcade says, “That was quick and easy. How about we spend the rest of the night finding out what those Frenchmen are up to?” The others agree and the Zeppelin turns east towards the mountains of New Mexico. They fly over the northern end of the Hidalgo Mountains, not seeing anyone and continue east towards the Animas Mountains.

Towards the southwestern end of these mountains they find evidence of where a small army had camped out. From here there are fresh horse tracks of two-to-three dozen animals as well as wagon wheel tracks from eight vehicles heading west. Arcade estimates the tracks to be between six and eight hours old. He says, “Looks like they spent the day here and are traveling at night.” Morgana says, “Make’s sense, that’s the easiest way to travel in rugged terrain with a hot daytime sun.”

Sam asks “What’s with all of the wagons?” Hans interjects, “Those may not be wagons but cannon, that’s what they went to Mexico to get.” Arcade investigates further and says, “I think he’s right, these ruts look to have been made by horse drawn two wheel vehicles not four, and are rather close together to be wagons.” Hans is concerned about cannon being fired up at the airship.

Hank says, “Don’t worry, we’ll take this slow and careful. We can travel much faster than them so they aren’t going to get away. There’s no need to be reckless.” Arcade gives Hank and odd look and says, “Who are you? You look like Hank Hill but you sure don’t talk like him.” Louie interjects, “He finally found something he cares about, not his teammates but his vehicle.” Hank says, “You all can better defend yourself now than it can. But once I mount a gattling gun on it that’ll be a different matter.”

They have the Zeppelin fly low and to the southwest, the moon providing enough light to illuminate and follow the tracks twenty-five feet below the passenger compartment. The trail continues on towards the southern Hidalgo Mountains. They land near the first of the mountains, with Arcade getting out and checking the tracks, which he says are only a few hours old. They decide to fly north of the tracks and circumnavigate around the first couple of mountains.

They continue to watch diligently, finally spotting some movement in a valley a little more than a mile to the southwest. They immediately pull back behind a mountain to keep from being seen and fly on ahead and around this mountains to a point a mile ahead of where the French are riding. Hans flies as close as he can get using the mountain as cover.

They decide to set up an ambush on the ground, and only have the Zeppelin fly in from behind if they run into trouble. They discuss who to leave behind to guard Hans. The German pilot assures the party that he is as anxious to defeat these Frenchmen as they are and that the prospect of living in the United States appeals to him. Gonzales says, “I say we trust him….and I also have the means to find him anywhere in Mexico if he does attempt to escape.” Hans says, “I will not leave. I would not want Arcade’s Gang to come hunting after me.” “Good man,” Arcade replies. The six exit the dirigible, giving Hans instruction to fly back around the mountain and wait in the rear until he sees a signal of light from them.
 

Queenie

Queen of Everything
Silver Moon said:
Knowles replies, “Native legends say that the Dark Elves once lived here. Most recently it was the Headquarters for the Cowboy Gang’s leaders. That ended in January when the Earps cornered them here.” He gestures to the chamber with the partially collapsed roof and says, “The Gang’s leader Curly Bill Brocious died in there after the Earps tossed in some sticks of dynamite.”

He gestures to the chamber at the opposite end of the doorway and says, “That was Johnny Ringo’s room. He escaped and still has another key to the iron door to this room.” He gestures to chamber on the right and says, “Better room belonged to Tom and Frank McLaury. They both died here” Arcade says, “The McLaury brothers? We kept those from getting killed by the Earps last October in Tombstone.” Louie comments, “Looks like all we did was postpone it.”

Poor Ruby... never getting any credit. Course, that's probably a good thing in this case :uhoh:
 

Silver Moon

Adventurer
Chapter 93, “The Hidalgo County Battle”, Sunday, March 19th, 1882, 1:30 A.M.

The party moves out to until they reach a dry riverbed. During the annual rainy season a river up to fifteen-feet wide and six-feet deep covers this bed, but now it is dry and the French are using the riverbed as their roadway through the valley, given that it travels along a low and easy path with a minimum of obstacles to tow their cannon around.

The six observe the approaching French Army from higher ground, counting a total of thirty-eight horses, sixteen of which are paired and pulling the total of eight cannon behind them. As the cannon are being towed with the barrels pointing towards the rear they decide that a frontal attack would be best, since they would then need to turn the cannon around in order for them to be deployed. The group carefully climbs further down the hillside to the riverbed without being seen.

They choose a spot along the road where a series of boulders, some up to ten feet high, can be used to provide cover to the party. They decide to split into groups of three, with each group on a different side of the road to catch the enemy inside crossfire. Arcade, Gonzales and Hank and Arcade go to the southern side while Louie, Morgana and Sam remain on the northern side. Each group member finds a good rock to hide behind that is no more than twenty-feet from his or her next teammate. Each trio then stays together initially at the center person’s rock, to plan and then move out when the enemy close in.

As the approaching forces get closer the group can see that they are comprised of four distinctly separate groups of individuals. There are ten-mounted French Foreign Legion troops attired the same as those fought earlier, all of which are paired up with each pair pulling a cannon. Accompanying these forces are fourteen Arabs riding Arabian horses. They too are paired, with the first four leading and acting as scouts with each of the other five pairs riding behind each pair of Legionnaires.

Following them is a group of six mounted men dressed in civilian garb, who Gonzales concludes are probably the French wizards. The final group of eight is French Soldiers wearing the uniforms of the regular French Army. Three of these pairs are enlisted troops who are pulling the remaining three cannon. The other two appear to be officers, a French General and his aide, a Major.

Each team members evaluates these threats differently. Gonzalez is most concerned about the wizards; Arcade thinks the officers should be the main targets; Sam and Morgana are both concerned about the Arab scouts because they are closest to them and probably the most experienced with fighting in rough desert terrain; Louie sees the Legionnaires as the greatest threat; and Hank just wants to shoot somebody.

The plan is for Arcade’s trio to initiate the attack, but not to begin until all the enemy has moved up along the road so that they can all can be seen by the party. Hank positions himself on the tallest rock, looking down at the enemy below while Gonzales moves to a spot closest to the enemy so that he will have a clear view of the wizards and their specific actions.

Arcade takes the first shot, the bullet striking and killing one of the Legionnaires hauling the second cannon. Hank immediately fires his rifle at that Legionnaire’s partner, seriously wounding him and causing him to both drops his gun and fall from his horse. This effectively leaves the cannon blocking the roadway/riverbed, causing all of those behind to have to stop while cutting off the eight troops in front from the remainder of their battalion.

Gonzales next lets loose a Fireball spell two-thirds of the way back, which envelopes over four of the wizards and two mounted Arabs. Pair of the wizards appear to have magical fire protection on them and are minimally harmed although their mounts are both killed as are all of the others caught in the blast. This pair immediately runs for cover behind the nearest rocks. This move has the effect of further dividing the battalion, with the thirty troops not yet engaged in battle in the roadway now comprised of the front eight, a middle group of twelve, and the final group of ten.

Louie and Sam both fire at a pair of Arabs in direct line of sight from them at the end of the front group, killing one and wounding the other. Morgana watches the two unhurt wizards towards the back, holding off on throwing her Magic Missile spell until they begin spells of their own.

The four Arab scouts in the very front of the Army ride forwards towards higher ground. Louie and Sam both fire at them, prompting the quartet to keep on riding. Hank pivots around on the rock and fires two more rifle shots, striking the pair of Arabs now at the front of the middle group. Arcade shoots at a Legionnaire behind those Arabs, missing, but striking his horse, which collapses to the ground.

Morgana releases her Magic Missile at the two still unhurt wizards, disrupting their spells. Unfortunately her hiding place is not far from the front of the middle group and the sight of magical light flying out from her position causes the remaining nine Legionnaires and Arabs in the middle group to concentrate their fire towards her. She immediately ducks down behind a rock to avoid being hit. Gonzales now lobs the second of his three Fireball spells towards the enemy in the rear group, catching the two wizards who Morgana had struck in it as well as four of the regular French army troops, their mounts and two cannon and killing all of them.

A pair of Legionnaires now cut the cannon they are towing loose from the mounts and charge the rock that Morgana is hiding behind. Sam stays low on the ground and crawls out from behind the rock. He fires a fatal shot up into the closest of these, the man falling back in the saddle of his horse. Louie deals with the other by standing and unloading his shotgun into both the man and his horse. Unfortunately this move also makes Louie a prime target for the other seven troops who had previously fired at Morgana as well as the one that had been previously dismounted. All eight fire at Louie with two shots hitting, one rather seriously. The half-orc collapses in pain behind the rock Sam stops shooting and crawls over to help protect his ally.

With Morgana and Louie drawing the attention of the remaining enemy troops that leaves Hank and Arcade free to rain fire down upon the other troops, with them concentrating on the rear four in the second group. Both Legionnaires are killed and the horses are shot out from beneath the Arabs, who run to the cannon that the Legionnaires had been pulling to use it as partial cover. The two lone mounted Arabs at the front of the second group opt to ride away and gallop off the road towards the south and past the rock that Hank is on top of, with him deciding to just let them go.

The two French Officers in the rear order the remaining pair with them to turn the last cannon around and fire at the rock where Hank’s shots are coming from. They have the cannon half turned when Gonzales lets fly his final fireball, dropping all four of them. The burning debris, bodies and adjacent grass and brush resulting from the fireballs now illuminate the entire area, assisting the remaining foes in better seeing their surroundings.

Morgana manages to get over to Louie and cast a healing spell onto him as Sam moves to another rock and fires at the two remaining Legionnaires in the middle group, killing one of them. The remaining three Legionnaires and Arab in the front group have managed to regroup and move to slightly higher ground, concentrating their fire down on Sam, Morgana and Louie, with Louie getting shot once more. Sam fires back, supported by shots from Arcade and Hank, wounding one Legionnaire and killing the Arab.

One of the two remaining front group Legionnaires now gets Arcade within his sights for what would have been a fatal shot but at the very last second a well-placed shot from Sam keeps him from firing while a very angry Louie dispatches the other. The remaining wounded Legionnaire in the front group decides to surrender.

Shooting has now ceased. Gonzales casts a spell to allow himself to detect invisibility and then has Arcade and Hank accompany him towards the rocks where the protected wizards have retreated to. No one is present and Gonzales concludes that the pair has managed to teleport away. Sam is ordered to climb the hill and confirm that the six Arabs who rode off have left the area.

The two Arabs cowering behind the cannon are tied and gagged. Gonzales discovers that the French General and Major are both still barely alive with severe burns. They are both securely tied up before Morgana casts healing spells on them to prevent them from succumbing to their injuries. The General remains unconscious while the Major temporarily wakens before falling unconscious again.

Most of the party is surprised to discover that the only surviving Legionnaire is not French but Italian. Arcade tells them “That’s pretty common, the French hire mercenaries from many countries. He introduces himself as Joseppi Franjoluppi and asks that the party not kill him, saying that he is no soldier and never even fired a gun until that day. “What were you doing with these troops then?” Morgana asks. He replies, “I was the Company Cook, I work as chef back in my native Milan.”

Arcade and Hank exchange glances and Arcade says, “An Italian Chef? You interested in staying here with us?” He replies, “Here? In Tunisia?” “What makes you think we’re in Tunisia?” she asks. He replies, “That where French Wizards say they bring us.” Morgana says, “Guess again, you’re in the United States.” “America!” he exclaims. “The good old U. S. of A.” Hank replies. A wide grin crosses Joseppi’s face as he pulls his Legionnaire hat from his head, tosses it onto the group and stomps on it. “I quit Legion,” he exclaims. Arcade then helps heal the bullet wound in Joseppi’s arm that he had just a short while earlier caused.

The Zeppelin in signaled to fly in and land near where the battle is fought. It is decided that the two French officers and the pair of Arabs should be turned over to the United States Army. The closest Army Fort is near Deming, New Mexico, which would be a two-hour flight to the northeast. They decide that Arcade should lead that group and be the one to talk to the army due to his reputation as the Gang’s leader. They also decide to bring the four undamaged cannon with them, but to keep for themselves for potential future use instead of giving them to the army. Gonzales attaches one of the four levitation devices to each and then activating them in order to not weigh down the Zeppelin.

Gonzales does not want to leave behind the fifteen horses that survived the battle, six of them Arabian stallions, since his granddaughter Sonoma now owns a ranch. Morgana and Louie offer to ride back west to Promise City with him and the horses. They decide it best to also send Joseppi with the riders to avoid having to explain who he is to the U.S. Army and potentially lose their newly acquired chef.
 

Silver Moon

Adventurer
Chapter 94, "Heading Back", Sunday, March 19th, 1882, 7:00 A.M.

As the sun rises up on the eastern horizon the Zeppelin reaches crosses above the town of Deming, New Mexico. The site of the town had been a stagecoach stop since 1850 but it had not been officially declared a town until the previous November. It derived its name from the maiden name of Mary Deming Crocker. She was the wife of a railroad magnate of the Southern Pacific Railway system, the town being the direct result of railroad expansion to the West. The Southern Pacific Railroad was building toward the Pacific coast and reached this point in late 1881, where they decided that this would be a good location for construction of a roundhouse and repair shops.

The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad had been laying track south from Albuquerque, New Mexico parallel to the Rio Grande River. They had originally planned to intersect with the Southern Pacific Railroad at Las Cruces, but with the roundhouse and repair shop now at Deming they decided that it would be the best location for the railroad junction. As this location was soon to be the intersection point of two major rail lines a town began to develop almost overnight.

It began as an erection of a city of tents and shanties, which then started to expand into more permanent structures. As 1882 progressed settlers began to flock in by rail, stopping at Deming as it was essentially “the end of the line”. Substantial buildings and many stores were soon constructed.

A short distance to the north an army fortress known as Fort Cummings had been established on high ground between the town of Deming and the rock formation known as Cooke's Peak. The oldest part of the Fortress was a protective wall that had been built by Colonel Philip Cooke and his troops when they first patrolled this region back in 1846, when the land was officially still part of Mexico. The present Fort had been initially established back in 1863 to monitor and the Apache and other elves of this region and was kept busy back in the days of Cochise's uprisings. The fortress's importance has now risen given that the natives might wish to hinder the railroad operations.

A wooden stockade was built on the lower hill while a high stone and adobe wall surrounded the upper hill. The Forth had originally been occupied by troops from California's Company B but was now manned primarily by New Mexico based cavalry troops of mostly Ogrish blood known as Buffalo Soldiers, with humans as the commanding officers.

Arcade, Hank and Sam wisely have Hans land the airship out of sight of the fortress on the opposite side of a hill a half-mile away from the Fort. Hank decided to stay with the airship and guard the prisoners while Arcade and Sam approach the wooden stockade fortress on foot. They soon reach the guardhouse doors and identify themselves, asking to see the commanding officer.

The reputations of ‘Arcade’ and ‘Sure-shot Sam’ have preceded them and the two are quickly ushered into the headquarters of fortress’s commander. He had earlier received telegram dispatches from El Paso about the attempted train robbery by French Troops in a balloon that had come up from Mexico, so they had put the Fort on alert, the Mexican boarder being only forty miles away.

Arcade and Sam briefly explain about how they were on that train and repelled the attack, commandeering the balloon as their own. They then tell of the second invasion that they just stopped down in Hidalgo County and mention having prisoners to turn over. The Captain sends a squad of troops with Sam to go retrieve the prisoners, also bringing Hank back to the Fort as well. The three are treated to a fine breakfast and regaled as heroes by the soldiers and officers.

They then fly back to Arizona, arriving at the valley between Fisk and Bowie mountains mid-way through the morning. Sam, Arcade, Hank and Hans ride back in town, arriving at around 11:00 A.M., discovering that the other members of their party have not returned yet. Hank comments, “No surprise, we had the faster means of transportation.”

Since their house down the street is still unfurnished they inquire about rooms from Dorita, who has three available. Arcade and Sam each take one room while Hank and Hans take the other and all four immediately fall asleep.

Simultaneous to this the group of Louie, Morgana, Manuel Gonzales and Joseppi Franjoluppi are at the ranch a mile south of Promise City owned by Gonzales’s granddaughter Sonoma. Louie remembers Sonoma from when she waitressed at the El Parador and Morgana knows her well as they both are druidic apprentices of an older wood elf woman in town named Mother Jaminez.

They had been riding for most of the last six hours, through New Mexico and then through the Chirichaua Mountains where the Apache welcomed Morgana’s return and helped accompany them on the shortest route to the ranch. The ranch is a bustle of activity, having just received an influx of sixteen cows and close to a dozen horses that Sonoma’s business partners had just rescued from cattle rustlers. Emery Shaw, owner of the nearby Lazy-S ranch had helped her partners herd these animals to the ranch as gratitude for several rustled cattle with the Lazy-S brand having been returned to them.

Sonoma agrees to board the horses that the party had obtained beyond those needed by the quartet to ride back to town. Morgana asks Sonoma* about the rustled cattle as is told that those with local brands have been returned to their owners but that the other brands are not known so will take further to find. Morgana casts some healing and hair-growth spells over the brands, effectively erasing them, and tells Sonoma to now just consider them hers.

The quartet ride back to town, arriving back just before noon. Morgana tells Gonzales and Joseppi that they can each keep the horse that they have been riding this day. Upon hearing that the others have returned and are upstairs sleeping. Dorita heads upstairs to let Morgana into Arcade’s room. Another room is also now available which Louie and Joseppi take. Having been awake all night and morning, the group decides to all sleep throughout the afternoon.



*[DM’s Note: It was fun watching these two characters interact, as while they are each from my two different Western campaigns set on the same world they are actually both played by the same player.]
 

Steve Jung

Explorer
Silver Moon said:
*[DM’s Note: It was fun watching these two characters interact, as while they are each from my two different Western campaigns set on the same world they are actually both played by the same player.]
How did you end up playing that out?
 

Silver Moon

Adventurer
Chapter 95, "The Mirror", Sunday, March 19th, 1882, 4:00 P.M.

Towards late afternoon there are several gunshots fire outside, but the group is all so tired that only Hank is awakened by them. He sits in bed for a while debating whether to get up or not when the shots end. He decides to go back to sleep but just as he is about to fall asleep is awakened by the sound of more gunfire, with this sounding closer than the other shots.

Hank gets up and looks out the window where he sees an Indian standing at the intersection of South and Fremont Streets and shooting at somebody to the east. He also notices that the lower end of Fremont Street is littered with burning debris that appear to have been clothing and a mattress.

The Indian then gets shot by a human in western garb further up Fremont Street near the County Claims Office. Another cowboy who is standing at the intersection of Fremont and Main Streets then shoots this man. Not knowing who any of these people are, or what is going on, Hank decides to head downstairs to investigate. Not bothering to put on his shirt, vest or pants, he straps his gunbelt on over the red long johns he was sleeping in, dons his Cowboy hat, and heads downstairs to the Cantina lobby.

He goes to the front door of the El Parador, by which time the town’s new Priestess is busy tending to the rather wounded Indian while other people are checking the other dead cowboy. A wood elf wearing a Deputy’s badge is talking to the man who had fired the final shot but does not appear to be planning to arrest him.

Hank overhears something being said about Johnny Ringo, a man who he had met last October in Tombstone. Hank looks around but the gunslinger doesn’t look to be anywhere in the vicinity, nor is he the dead cowboy. Hank is then spotted by Bill Watkins, owner of the Great Western Boarding House across the street. Hank had lived there until Watkins evicted him the previous summer. Watkins glares angrily and Hank. Hank smiles back, then heads back inside and upstairs to bed, figuring that whatever the commotion was is now over.


It is close to 8:00 P.M. when Arcade’s Gang is all awake and sit down for dinner at the Cantina. Each group tells the other about what they have been up to since leaving the battle site. Gesturing to their new chef and new pilot at the end of the table Arcade asks, “What are we going to do with them?” Morgana calls Dorita over and makes arrangements for the two new hirelings to keep the rooms at the El Parador where they are staying this evening.

Sam comments, “So right now we have us a Chinaman, an Italian, a German, an Irishwoman, an Englishman, a few Americans and are eating at a Mexican restaurant.” Arcade comments, “Yeah, it’s like we’ve founded our own filthy little League of Nations.” Hank interjects, “Don’t forget, Texas was its own country too.” “Like you’d ever let us forget,” Louie states. Hans is told that he can keep one of the extra horses for himself, as he will need it for the five-mile ride out to where the Dirigible is parked. He is very thankful for that, saying that he always wanted to have a horse of his own.

Following the dinner they head over to the Alhambra saloon to find the halfling newspaperman Chumbley. The fast-talking hyperactive little man is very surprised to hear that Arcade’s Gang is back in town and even more surprised to hear that they have bought out his competitor. He is then flabbergasted when they make him the offer to be Editor of the paper. Chumbley is a good negotiator and manages to convince them to pay him a significant amount of the profits from each paper as his salary. He says that he is very interested but will have to first speak to the owner of the Tombstone paper John Clum before he can formally accept their offer.

Monday, March 20th, 1882:

Morgana meets with the County Claims Manager to finalize the purchase of the valley where the Dirigible now sits. She purchases the entire 300-acre valley for $ 5.00 an acre. The group meets and decides that they will possibly offer a rental agreement to Count von Zeppelin rather than attempting to resell the property to him.

Tuesday, March 21st, 1882:

Morgana and Hank travel with Manuel Gonzales via teleport spell to Chihuahua, Mexico to meet with Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin to explain to him about the status of the dirigible and Hans Schmidt. She strongly suggests to von Zeppelin that due to the French invading America he would be very wise to distance himself from them and that incident as there will probably be serious international repercussions.

She suggests that he should probably relocate his operations to the United States and to Promise City, Arizona in particular and suggests that she might know of an ideal location in that area. They then spend an hour of so walking around the city, during which time Manuel bumps into elvan woman who he introduces as “an old friend” although neither Hank or Morgana think that she looks very old at all. They eventually are ready to head back, with Morgana gesturing to Hank and saying, “You can’t go leaving a Texan down here in Mexico, he’ll try to annex it.”

Wednesday, March 22nd, 1882:

Chumbley accepts the position as Editor of the paper. After a lengthy debate about the new name for it they decide upon calling it the Promise City Mirror. Arcade visits Burton Lumley, owner of the Gay Lady Saloon and current President of the Promise City Merchant’s Association to make him aware of the change in ownership of the newspaper.

Thursday. March 23rd, 1882.

At the morning meeting of the Promise City Merchant’s Association Burton Lumley introduces Josiah Arcadiam as the new owner of the Promise City Mirror, formerly the Promise City Herald, and states that he will be taking Parker Baxter’s membership in the association.

The main order of business that morning is the appointment of a new Marshall and new Deputy Marshall as Wyatt and Warren Earp have both resigned. Some of the Arcade’s Gang members consider volunteering for the positions but opt not to. The positions are filled by others present at the meeting. Afterwards Hank complains about not getting to wear a badge. Morgana says, “What do you expect? The other day you went outside without wearing pants.” Sam says, “Well, at least they accepted Arcade as a business owner.” Louie comments, “That means we really are now respectable gang.”
 

Silver Moon

Adventurer
Chapter 96, "LOUIE, LOUIE", or "THEY'VE KIDNAPPED OUR CHINAMAN"

Monday, April 10th, 1882:

The day begins with Charlie Wong running into the El Parador Cantina screaming to the owners Pedro and Dorita Figures something in the Orcan language that nobody present can understand. They eventually deduce that it has something to do with his daughter Mary and her boyfriend Louie both being missing. Dorita sends handyman Grant Keebler over to the house where Arcade’s Gang resides. Morgana is up early, as usual; she gets the message and has to go rouse the others.

Arcade and Hank complain about the interruption and how they don’t want to have to walk all the way down the street to find out what is going on. Morgana points out that today is the day that their chef Joseppi has off, so breakfast has not been prepared yet. Reflecting upon Dorita’s excellent cooking the two reconsider and state that a visit to the El Parador is in order.

The group of Arcade, Hank, Morgana, Qualtaqa and Sam arrive at the El Parador and talk to a frantic Charlie Wong, who states that Mary Wong and Louie have both been kidnapped. Hank says, “Calm down, they probably just wanted some alone time.” Charlie hands them a ransom note that had been left at his laundry shop. It reads:

TO ARKADS GANG

WE GOT YER CHINAMAN AN HIS GURLFREND TO. IFFEN YER WANT HIM BACK BRING 500DOLLERS TO WHERE WE TELL YER TOMORER, AN 100DOLLERS FER THE GURL. DONT GO TO THE MARSHALL OR THERE DED.

THE OBANNON GANG

Arcade comments, “It could be legit. Louie doesn’t know enough English to write that out.” Morgana adds, “Yes, and with the few words that he actually does know his spelling is better.” Arcade says, “Maybe we should just view this as an opportunity, that Louie was really getting to be a bit of a pain.” Sam comments, “But they took Mary too, she does our laundry.” Arcade says, “Okay, we want to get at least her back.” Hank says, “We need Louie too. The bad guys shoot him instead of the rest of us.” Qualtaqa is miffed. "They're calling themselves a gang. We're the gang! We can't have anyone else be the gang!"

“Exactly where did you find this note?” Morgana asks. Charlie says that it was at his laundry shop, that Mary went there first thing in the morning to get the laundry started and that Louie often stops by to assist her. They head over to the shop. Morgana tells her allies not to touch anything until they examine the place for clues. One of the players makes a comment about the game now being “C.S.I. Promise City”.

They find Louie’s rifle propped up against the wall in the corner. Charlie says, “That’s where he puts in while he’s working.” Arcade examines the floor for tracks and declares that there is some evidence of a struggle but no bloodstains. Qualtaqa tries to find tracks outside with deep impressions to indicate if people left recently carrying something heavy. He concludes that “Somebody recently swept the street”. A dusty broom is then found in an alleyway, which Charlie concludes belongs to his shop. The group also sends Joseppi to discreetly visit the Marshal, and get their newspaper reporter Angelica Young to the sheriff.

Qualtaqa comments, “We need to get Louie back. He has a good heart.” Morgana says, “Not so loud, if the kidnappers hear that they’ll sent it back to us in a box.” Arcade says, “I still don’t know if we should bother.” Sam asks, “Are you afraid to go up against this Gang to get him?” He replies, “I don’t know that afraid is the right word, more like indifferent.”

The group's assistants (Joseppi and Angelica) arrive from their trips around town to try to find out more about this O’Bannon Gang, stating that they found that the leader is a part-time gambler who isn’t all that good at cards. He is known to have gotten into a few fistfights over in Tombstone, but nothing is known about him heading a gang. The general consensus is that he isn’t all that bright. Arcade comments “Maybe instead of opposing him we should hire him.” Sam says, “Did you hear everything we just heard about this guy. He’s stupid, clumsy and useless.” Arcade replies, “And how does that differ from Louie?” Silence follows that comment. No further information is found about the O’Bannons.

The gang discusses possible plans to find Louie and/or deal with this other gang. There is talk about using the airship to search, but since they haven't allowed it to be seen locally and certainly haven't let on that they own such a thing, they decide not to bring it out just yet. They also talk about putting notices or articles in the newspaper, but decide that they should have something more to work with before it becomes public knowledge. Morgana casts a "Reflecting Pool" to look for Louie. She sees him tied up in a cave and Mary nearby. As she pulls back her vision, she sees it is located in some unfamiliar hills. While the rest of the group discusses setting some traps for the bad guys, she goes to the cantina to wait for some of the local dwarven miners to come in for their next meal, hoping they will recognize the location. She is told that it looks like the site of the "First Strike" mine, the one that started the little "Silver Rush" that was the beginnings of the town. The mine is rumored to be haunted, and no one has been there for many years.

The gang splits up to do a little more research. Hank and Sam seek out their gambler friend Conrad Booth to see if he knows anything more about O'Bannon, but he hasn't. Qualtaqa rides out to the Apache to see if they can help - not much they can or want to do, but they will keep their eyes open for any unusual movement. Arcade grills their halfling reporter Chumley, since he knows Tombstone, but he doesn't know any more about O'Bannon than they already knew from the sheriff. Morgana checks at the local boarding houses to see if any newcomers rented a room for the night last night.

After they regroup for dinner they make plans for the night, to see if they can capture whomever is delivering the next note. Qualtaqa will take up a position in the hills above Boot Hill, where he can see much of the town. Hank takes a cot in the laundry in case they return there. Sam sets up in the entryway of their house, and Arcade and Morgana on the roof, hoping the messenger is stupid enough to deliver the note there. They also instruct their pilot Hans to fly the dirigible to hide in the low hills about 1 mile from town in case they need to start a quick pursuit.

Tuesday, April 11th, 1882:

The morning begins with Pedro bringing the next ransom note, which had been left at the back door of the cantina, to the house:

TO ARKADS GANG

BRING THE MUNEY TO THE OL FIRST STRIKE MINE AT NOONE TODAY. NO TRICKS OR THER DED. WE MEEN IT.

THE OBANNON GANG

The group reads the note and discusses strategy over breakfast. “If we pay the ransom and get them back what’s to keep this Gang from just grabbing somebody else later?” Hank gestures to Sam and comments, “Sounds good to me.”

First , they check for tracks by the cantina, but by then the morning crowd has covered over anything that might have been there. They then go to a lawyer friend to get information about the mine. He reports that a Joshua Macomber filed a deed in 1868, brought one load of silver ore into Tombstone, hired a few helpers and went back, and was never heard from again. The group checks a few other locations in town to see if anyone knows or has seen anything, then heads back to the cantina for a late breakfast. Qualtaqa finally shows up, having stayed at his post in the hills until now. Their dwarven friend, Nils "Great-Axe" Svelsfjord, shows up and they ask him about the mine. He knows little, since it wasn't worked by dwarves, but has heard the old stories about how Macomber's assistants may have turned on him, and there was an explosion or shootout at the mine and that was the end of things; supposedly their ghosts haunt the mine to this day.

The group decides to fly out to where it says to bring the ransom note. Qualtaqa runs to the blimp to alert Hans, while Morgana heads to the church to get holy water and any other kinds of blessings or protections from undead. Arcade and Hank go to the bank to get money for the ransom, in case they actually decide to pay it.
 
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