Monday, April 30, 2012

Deadlands, Part XIV

When last we left our heroes, they arrived in San Jose, found a place to stay, had some money turn into maggots, equipped themselves, received correspondence from Ruby O'Flahertie's husband, and took the train to Boston.

Our first stop is in Denver.  Astute observers will note that the last time we were in Denver, we had dinner (and Ruby ate her own hand), fought some demonic entities and blew up a house, and fled the city under the nose of the Pinkertons.

Naturally, we're less than thrilled to hear that we will be in Denver for about two days; the cannibals are probably gone, but we're basically fugitives out there.

After we disembark the train, David Hood notes the mail caller, and picks up his mail.  He finds he has several letters from his lawyer, all with the same message — that David needs another lawyer to settle his family's property dispute, and that he shouldn't trust anyone.  Then, David, Father Seward, Jake, Jeb, and Ruby O'Flahertie find a little saloon while Rufina — the only one among us who wasn't connected with the Pinkerton incident — goes to find a halfway decent flophouse for us to stay.  While we lay low in the saloon, she is successful and returns to us.  We spend some more time in the saloon before Ruby notices that a man in a black coat and black bowler hat is petting a horse outside.  He's been standing there a little while, and she suspects he's watching us.

Many of us are sitting separately, but she is sitting next to Jake, so she explains what she noticed.  They decide to leave, and after a quick discussion, we split into two groups.  David and Rufina will take the most direct route to the flophouse while Jake and Ruby take a more meandering route.  As some of the group are not communicating, they fall into step — Jeb starts trailing behind David and Rufina while Father Seward starts trailing behind Jake and Ruby.

While the two groups walk, they are trailed by men in black bowlers and black trenchcoats.  Three are on David and Rufina, three are on Jeb, three are on Jake and Ruby, and three are on Father Seward.

Two of the three pull shotguns and press them into David and Rufina's backs, telling them to get into a nearby alley.  Rufina whips around and grabs the shotgun pointed at her back, wrenching it away from the man.  In the chaos that follows, something like eight shots are fired at Rufina, and though several hit, she doesn't go down (she's a big 'un; Fate Chips help, too).  This is enough to frighten the men and prompt them to flee.

Meanwhile, the three men following Jeb step to the side of the road at the commotion.  They actually have a decent little conversation about how they serve some crime boss in Denver, and would he like a job?  When they see the other guys running, they decide to go after them.  Jeb then rejoins the others and everyone darts into an alley, taking a roundabout way back to the inn.

While David, Jeb, and Rufina are dealing with their pursuers, Father Seward, Jake, and Ruby encounter their shadows, although all three of them have noticed the black-clothed men.  Father Seward makes no move until the men come behind him, press a gun in his back, and tell him to enter a nearby alley.  He refuses, and the man responds by bashing him in the head with his gun, which doesn't hurt quite like it ought to (funny story: when Father Seward first met Jeb, Jeb gave him an acorn for good luck; that would be my acorn's good luck, expended).  Father Seward turns around and indicates that they probably don't want to manhandle an old man in the street.  Then, he starts rambling about the crazed zombie cannibal he met when last in Denver, and says that they were so busy following him that they didn't notice the sniper watching him.  Bluffing, he explains that after his trouble the last time he was in Denver, he hired an ex-Union sniper to keep an eye on him.  Oh, sure, they'll probably kill him, but he guarantees that his man will put a bullet through his killer's head.  While the men are standing around, bewildered, Father Seward turns around and keeps walking.

The men following Jake and Ruby never make it to them; instead, they are intercepted by a woman who slips Jake a lacquered box and says, "Complements."  The woman wears heavy makeup to obscure smallpox scars, and Jake feels that she looks familiar, although Jake cannot place her.  He peeks in the box to find a silk-lined box containing the King of Hearts — the "suicide king."  Father Seward catches up with them — he passed the woman while walking, and she smiled and nodded at him — and the group makes it to the hotel.  When everyone reconvenes, David gets Father Seward to examine Rufina's wounds — he managed to bind her leg, but he didn't have the time to treat her further.  Father Seward warns her of what he's about to do, and then lays on hands.  After the day's excitement, the group retires — Ruby and Rufina in their room, David, Father Seward, Jake, and Jeb in the common room.

The next day, Ruby and Rufina go shopping to get Rufina a new dress, as her old one is ruined with bloodstains and bullet holes, while the men lay low in the hotel.  While talking, reading, and gambling to pass the time, the innkeeper leaves the room (deciding to trust a group of folks with a priest), and David decides to read his newspaper.  The front-page story relates the Hood family drama in Boston; apparently, the fight boils down to the fact that the heir (presumably David) is missing, although he has several months before he is declared dead.  Specifically, the current issue is the Peerless, a Hood family shipping interest which ran aground while carrying "mysterious cargo."  The legal ownership of this cargo is open to debate given the lack of a clear heir as well as the definition of "safe delivery."

After reading this, Father Seward inquires about the contents of Hood's letter.  When David explains that he needs a lawyer, Father Seward indicates his family has a law background, but it's no good — David's law firm is already Seward and Taft.  He probably shouldn't trust anybody in Boston, anyway.

Apart from this news, there is no further excitement before the train departs.  The group successfully boards the train to Boston and David Hood manages to secure a lawyer's services in New York City.

Once arriving in Boston, Father Seward chances to purchase a newspaper.  The three tales of interest are:

  • "The Angel of Death."  Pretty young women and ex-Union soldiers are being slain by an unknown assailant.  People are disappearing off the streets, subsequently seen as the victims of savage murders.  Some witnesses claim to have seen an actual angelic being in the vicinity of the slayings.
  • A pox epidemic has overtaken one of the Irish sections.  A quarantine is being considered.
  • Regarding the Hood family legal drama, one Hood shot another.  No deaths, although the assailant has been detained and the other is in treatment.
Armed with this information, the group prepares to greet Boston.

2 comments:

  1. I'll have to remember Father Seward's sniper story, that is inspired.

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    1. I honestly don't know from whence that came. I spotted my tail and was pondering how to handle it, settling upon that bluff. It seemed to work, although whether it was because I convinced them or merely confused them is hard to say.

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