Monday, December 12, 2011

Deadlands, Part VII

When last we left our heroes, the group got their gear and made to leave.  However, a mysterious boundary of nausea prevents the party from leaving, and the enchantment must be broken before the group can continue.  One of the servants rushes outside.  Dynamite makes an appearance.  David Hood, Father Alex Seward, and Ruby O'Flahertie bolt to the other side of the house.  Jake, Jeb, and Miss Hannity remain to see the servant become some terrible void into Hell.

Things happen quickly.  David, Father Seward, and Ruby run around the back of the house and try to determine what to do next.  They don't get the chance to figure it out because everything goes crazy within the next, maybe, fifteen to thirty seconds.

The void-thing withdraws, leaving Jake to reorient himself.  Miss Hannity chucks a stick of dynamite into the house.  Jeb runs to the stables to set up a firing position.

A giant, purple hand erupts from the house and grabs Miss Hannity.  Try as she might, she cannot wriggle free.  The hand floats back into the house.  Jake gives chase.

With no one in view, Jeb climbs upstairs in the stables and rifles through some stuff.  Finding some lamp oil and alcohol, he lights a fire upstairs before coming to the top of the stairs in the house to shout down at Jake and Miss Hannity.

Miss Hannity is withdrawn into the basement, where a giant, void-thing is erupting from a human form.  She wriggles free slightly, and the void-thing draws her closer and bites at her arm.  She manages to use her free, bitten arm to light one of the dynamite bandoliers on her thigh.

Jake makes his way into the basement by this time.  Seeing a dim light from her skirts, he reaches up, grabs the bandolier, and shoves it into the thing's mouth seconds before it bites at that leg.  Most of the leg is gone.  Jake starts to run back upstairs when the dynamite detonates.

David, Father Seward, and Ruby see the house start to warp.  The first stick of dynamite detonates.  There is a pause, then a slight rushing of air before the inside of the house goes orange.  The sound rips through the quiet, morning air.

Jeb is thrown clear of the blast with a busted leg.  Jake is also thrown clear, but he is a charred husk, barely living.  If Miss Hannity lives as anything other than a loose confederation of molecules, there is no sign of her.

The nausea subsides.  Father Seward prays and crouches over Jake's shattered form.  The ghostly gentleman — the fellow only David and Father Seward can see — appears and lays a hand on the priest's shoulder.  Though painful, Jake's nerves and muscles regrow — until the gentleman stops the process, leaving Jake with no scars save a skeletal, unusable left hand.

The group gathers their equipment, most of which was already on the lawn in front of the house, and proceeds to leave.  Two observers, a father and son, sit upon horses.  Having witnessed these events, they bolt towards town.

The walk back to Denver is uneasy.  Jeb asks Ruby if she had brothers in the war — officers — and explains that Confederate officers killed his brothers.  Tempers flare.  Father Seward snaps at them both, silencing the argument.

They arrive in Denver and ask for directions.  David explains the bandage on his face as a shaving accident, so the passing traveler directs him to a barber.  Upon examination, the barber directs him to a doctor.

The doctor looks at his face and recommends a treatment.  David starts to mention Ruby's hand, but they play it off, and the doctor assumes it's a feminine issue, prescribing laudanum.    Finally, they get to the business of amputating Jake's hand, which he explains as a run-in with bandits who tortured him.

Rain starts to fall, and the group notes that the only people on the deserted streets appear to be several men in black dusters.  Jeb waits with Jake and the doctor, while David, Father Seward, and Ruby leave to investigate.  When they ask the men in dusters what they're doing, they are greeted by guns and led into a nearby alley.  One of them, a Pinkerton by his badge, asks about their association with Mr. Jobson — Jake.  He explains the man is wanted in this area, and what can they tell about it.  Only able to explain that they've been traveling with him and haven't noticed anything untoward, they are searched and led to a backroom, where they are guarded by two Pinkertons.  Despite knowing Detective O'Malley in St. Louis, their pleas to be released or to contact the Detective are ignored.  The gentleman appears, telling Father Seward that he must rescue Jake, as he is important to the journey at hand.

Meanwhile, Pinkertons storm the building as Jake is undergoing surgery.  Jeb is taken into custody, as is the now-drunken Jake.

Everyone is thrown into the local jail.  Jake gets a cell by himself, and Ruby is in a chair.  A police officer guards them.  Ruby pleads with the police officer to let her go, as she is will cause no trouble, but must return to her family.  After a truly impassioned performance, the police officer, a Confederate himself, sympathizes with her plight and leaves the room, giving her the keys.

The doors are opened and everybody makes their way to the train station.  Despite looking for their equipment, they find none, meaning they are now down to the $200 David Hood swiped from Miss Hannity's trunk before leaving the ruined manor house.

David sees the bellhop he has been tipping generously during the trip, and convinces him to convince the conductor to scrounge up some tickets.  The group is again San Francisco-bound.

After getting reasonably settled, there is a knock at the door that only David and Father Seward can perceive.  It is the ghostly gentleman, though once the door is opened, Father Seward sees only a member of the train's staff, giving him a dinner invitation.  Father Seward explains where he is going, and at everyone's request, promises to send one of the help to take room service orders.

Father Seward goes to the dining car to see the ghostly gentleman, who has ordered a steak and wine for Father Seward.  The gentleman again admonishes him for not following orders, but says that he will explain some things.

The gentleman explains that he has no name, as Father Seward robbed it from him — Father Seward killed a woman about five years back, and this took the fellow's name (Father Seward assumes that she must have been pregnant, assuming this tale was true).  The nameless gentleman explains that since he has no sins, he can't go to Hell — but since his father was a truly bad man, Heaven doesn't want him, either.  He's trapped in this half-state where he cannot experience life, nor can he pass on.  However, there is to be a high-stakes poker game at a place called the Flesh Menagerie in San Francisco.  One of the prizes is the moon jar he mentioned at the Carstock estate, and he must win this, as it holds the key to salvation.  The jar holds secrets, among them a loophole to overcome God's covenant with man.  Through this way, this restless spirit can enter Heaven — and so can Father Seward, as he is currently damned due to his past crimes, and Hell would love to get the soul of a holy man.  Indeed, the gentleman indicates that God has turned away from Father Seward, and it is only through the gentleman's grace that he is capable of the miracles he wields.

The gentleman further suggests that Father Seward, being a sinner, may try to something ruin this deal, and the gentleman assures him that such would be unwise.  He then tells Father Seward to eat, but when he asks for a graphic description of how it tastes as he cannot enjoy it himself, Father Seward expresses his distaste and the spirit angrily leaves.

3 comments:

  1. Really, I should get an RPG equivalent of an Oscar or a Tony for that bit in the jail cell. Sure, the dice helped, but that was still awesome. I remain pleased as punch with myself.

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  2. the doctor assumes it's a feminine issue, prescribing laudanum - I laughed out loud. At least he didn't want to remove her uterus, just to be thorough.

    And the more I read, the more I'm interested in Father Seward, what a great character.

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  3. If he didn't have another surgery to perform, he might've. Ah, the Victorian era.

    I'm glad you like Father Seward! I might do a post on his character background at some point, although most of his history seems to be coming out in play, so maybe I'll let it be for a while.

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