Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Deadlands, Part XI

So I missed Deadlands last week.  Fortunately, Nicole didn't.  So she's writing the session this week.

When last we left our heroes, they had just made a deal with Little Pete to find a moon jar (you know, that moon jar).  They thwart an assassin, and forced to make a choice between breaking into a ritzy hotel and scouring an unholy site, they pick the unholy site.  They recover their cards and are prepared to go to the poker game at the Flesh Menagerie.

As we missed curfew at the hotel, we slept at the home-cum-butcher shop of our new acquaintance, Rufina.  Our breakfast and discussion of game day plans are interrupted by a knock at the door, which Rufina answers.  She is greeted by a street full of Tong, escorting a lacquered palanquin.  One man opens the door to reveal a massive scroll.  He hands it to Rufina, they exchange bows, and the Tong leave.  It contains info on most of the players in the game that night.  The scroll is large as it was poorly translated from Chinese and the writer doesn’t have neat English lettering.

A sample of the notes:
Ruby O’Flahertie – Dispossessed land owner, person of no significance
David Hood – Not believed to be skilled opponent.  Not clear why involved.  Many
sealed legal documents
Jake Jepson – Outlaw.  Possible conflict with Pinkertons/Geyer & apprentice of Cobb
Father Seward – Status unclear.  Mystery?  Murderer?
Jeb – (ink is spilled, the writing indecipherable)
Sonny (our train robbing friend) – Hollow man
Patrick Michael O’Flahertie Jr. – Deserter.  Dispossessed land owner.  Connection to
Ruby?
Detective Frank Geyer – Pinkerton
Cornelius Cobb – The individual to beat

It also notes that no weapons or magic are permitted at the game.

We burn the note and begin preparations.  Jake spends the time playing many hands of practice poker.  Ruby goes to town with Rufina to buy a Chinese silk dress and get her hair done.   David and Jeb return to the hotel.  David makes himself all dandified, though Jeb only pauses to grab his shotgun, and then proceeds to a gentleman’s sporting goods store where he gets a Bollard target rifle.  The shop owner even gift wraps it, with pine needles, pine cones, and a spritz of lemon to give it that real outdoorsy smell.  Jeb is unimpressed.

Once everyone reconvenes, David drops a bomb.  He has done some thinking and, giving in to his Curiosity, has decided that he will lose his hand.  Thankfully we’ve got a new butcher friend and, with Ruby, the Father, and Jeb walking around the block, Rufina and Jeb get David liquored up and restrained, and his hand is swiftly and cleanly dispatched.

That evening we make our way down to the warehouse district.  Jeb buys a room for the night at a saloon across from the Flesh Menagerie, and keeps watch for ne’er-do-wells.  We make our way into what appears to be a hastily put together poker room, except that a glowing border of arcane symbols creates a boundary between the general entrance and the tables.  There are men waiting there to collect weapons and magical paraphernalia, with the warning that if you dare cross the line with either on your person, you will be sorry.  We do as we’re told, and safely cross the glowing symbols.

Suddenly we find ourselves in a scene that must have sprung from the mind of Guillermo del Toro.  The room is appointed in lush and exotic fabrics, woods, and lighting.  Nine tables are arranged around the room, with a massive glass-topped bar running along one wall.  But the staff are not of this world.  Nude figures walk about with serving trays and the like, and they are all just wrong.  One male figure, sans genitals, has a mouth and nose, but then his head distorts into a massive flesh-cube.  A female figure walks around on four legs bent backwards like a dog’s.  Upon presenting their playing cards, the party members are each given keys and escorted to private rooms by these hellish creatures.

The room is also packed to the gills with many of the era’s more notorious celebrities: Oscar Wilde hobnobs with Samuel Clemens, Jesse James and Belle Starr look surly, and August Strindberg, William Butler Yeats, and Doc Holliday are also in attendance.  Familiar faces also include Sonny, Little Pete, Mr. Butler, Jake’s old mentor Cornelius Cobb, and Ruby’s brother Patrick (she was under the impression he’d died in the War).  All have missing or mangled left hands

The room is quickly brought to order as the game is explained by our host, a wizened Chinese man who speaks through a translator.  The prize is the moon jar, and the group is given the opportunity to test its authenticity.  David and Ruby, being Curious, partake, giving and taking memories.  The assembled mass is divided among the nine tables, and the warning is given that cheating will result in a fate worse than death, with overt reference being made to the strange beings that serve us.  Whoever wins will be given a 30 minute head start to get the hell out of Dodge, and the game organizers cannot be held liable for anything that may happen to them after that time.

The game begins.  Most of our party goes out within the first round.  The only two who make it to the final table are Jake (predictably) and David (surprisingly).  Unfortunately, we were not to be winners, and the final prize goes to Doc Holliday.  Considerably drunk and taking quite a shine to Ruby, he asks her to escort him to claim his prize…

Jeb has been keeping close watch on the warehouse, and he also notes that something is making his water glass vibrate.  He sees what seems like Tong taking position surrounding the warehouse.  Another group of men is standing around an alley near Jeb’s window.  They are discussing our party, and their leader, a man with a silver nose, mentions that Jake and Father Seward are the ones to kill first.  They are the survivors of the rattler gang from St. Louis.  Soon the vibrations get stronger, and there are cries of, “Earthquake!”  The hotel room pitches at an alarming angle…

The rumblings are felt in the Flesh Menagerie as well, and it quickly occurs to our group what is about to happen.  As Doc Holliday’s hands close about the moon jar, David shouts, “Rattler!  Run!”  Ruby dives away, knocking Doc off balance, and the moon jar slips from his hands and shatters, emitting an acrid smoke.

A gargantuan Rattler bursts forth from the floor, bringing in a wash of water with it.

Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. Pinhead would be proud of the servants at that game. Good luck with the Rattler.

    ReplyDelete

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