Blood Drive

Steam Carriage Destroyed

Dear Sam,

The posse and I destroyed a steam carriage.

After the robot spider indecent, we had a long discussion about where to go next, and seeing as how Rin was absorbed in her work, we decided to keep heading along the trail.

Before long now who should show up but our good friend Mr. Fancy Pants with his fancy carriage. He made some sorts of snide remarks, then we heard noise coming from the heard. Of course he must have been to blame, so we started shooting. I had a good shot that I was sure would have taken out the gunner, but by some twist of fate it just nicked him.

Then there was some shenanigans with Cadmust crawling under the wagon and back out. Clarissa tossed some TNT and the new China man did some fancy footwork to kick the sticks inside the carriage.

After some more rounds were fired, things went quite. Cadmus shot the carriage, and the whole thing exploded.

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This Time it was Robot Spiders

Dear Sam,

I looks like we’ve gotten ourselves into another fine mess again.

We finally got to Denver, where Sutter was planing to sell his heard. Well those prices were still to low, so he’s planning to start a new ranch out in Wyoming, and in lue of cash he’s giving us an ownership share of the heard. He also hired on a few new cow hands to help pick of some of the slack. And it turns out he was able to get another head of cattle dirt cheap.

It wasn’t long before we figured out why they were selling at such a low rate. Turns out they were infected with some kind of parasite that exploded out of them. I didn’t want them infecting more of the heard, so I shot them dead. That spooked the cattle a little, but it was no big deal, since Rin was able to coral them all by herself.

After that we got a visit from a man in a steam-powered carriage. He asked for some drawings that Rin come across, but Rin didn’t want to give them up. So he got all huffy, and drove off.

Of course we were attack during the night by a bunch of mechanical spiders.

Rin thinks that whoever the fancy pants man worked for is a competitor of Hellstromme, so we’re heading out to camp Hades to have a talk with Hellstromme’s people and try to figure out what’s going on.

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We are all full of Bugs!

Dear Sam,

Don’t tell Mom. I know it would only worry her. We are all full of bugs. That’s right, you, me, Mom, even Pastor Laurence. We’re full of bugs that are just itching to get out and eat up everybody we care about. So don’t let it happen Billy. Keep the bugs inside.

Here’s how I discovered this.

We were riding up the trail, and Sutter asked us to check out a homestead that we’d have to be passing through. We road up and found it full of wolves instead of people. After most of us fought the wolves off, we found was was left of the former owners inside, and they weren’t nothing but bones. Not ancient bones, but fresh bones with everything picked clean off, like how Uncle Edgar eats his chicken.

Worse yet, a couple of the other cow folk had let their horses wander during the fight with the wolves. We went looking for them, and found the horses just as dead as everybody else. There’s was nothing for us to do except double up and ride back to camp.

The next day we saw something up ahead. The crew road up and found a wagon surrounded by indians. Fortunately the Kid (have I told you about the Kid yet. I think you’d like him) the Kid did some kind of speaking in tongues, and told the Indians that we were there to help. In the back of the wagon we found a young woman. The Indians said there was a demon inside her.

So the Kid want to exorcise her, and he tried, but then Indians attack, and some other cowfolk came, but they were all full of bugs, and I realized it wasn’t just them. It’s all of us. We’re all full of bugs.

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Damn you Silcor, Damn you...

Dear Diary;

I feel ashamed for what I have done, my fear possessed me so much it guided my hand; oh I wish it wasn’t so.

After our investigation of a farmstead we were attacked by ravenous angry wolves. The dog man did nothing but go look for loot as usual and I guess the wolves sensed their own stink because they didn’t attack him. He left us to fend them off, I detest shooting the great animals of the west, but there comes a time when you have no choice but to put down a dangerous creature. During the attack the kid again came up with some fancy tricks to hold the animals at bay for a time. Time enough for us to put the animals down.

Upon investigation we found that the farmstead was empty, no people, animals, or anything. We headed back to the drive and kept on going. Sometime later we ran into a wagon in the road surrounded by Indians. We road ahead, but I couldn’t talk to them, they were not of my tribe, but the kid did some mumbo jumbo and he could. We came to find out that they had someone trapped in the wagon and were going to burn it. Inside was a women, the Indians believed it was a manitous, I feigned ignorance on what that was, but Joe said he knew. I only knew of one and please don’t tell me he has found me, I defeated him once I know I can do it again.

Since Joe told the kid it was an evil spirit thing, the kid said he could exercise it. Whatever that meant, so he convinced the Indians to let us take the women with us and he would perform some ritual with his followers. Who would have thought a little kid would have followers, but he likes to talk so I guess the white man is willing to follow.

We took the women out away from the heard so the kid could do his thing. During the night it became evident that something was wrong. The kid and his followers were praying and such, and then the horses were getting spooked. We find then the Indians had returned and now they weren’t listening to the kid they wanted to kill us all. While we fought the Indians, Demon Eyes runs off, then a horse goes down in the dark and that’s with the women from the wagon explodes.

Silcor the foul beast had filled her body with flesh eating locusts, the lady exploded around us killing 2 of the kid’s followers outright. What do you do against a giant swarm of bugs; Silcor did his business well when he sent these beasts. He knew I could use my irons against any normal beasts, but against these I had no weapon.

So not only did we have to fight off the Indians, but 4 or 5 more of Silcor’s locust beast came for us out of the darkness.

And, this is where I showed my shame, I knew with time we could have maybe saved some of the kids followers with Rin’s fancy cloths, but I was spooked, scared, and had only one weapon at my disposal. So I did it, I dropped a stick of dynamite on the fire which engulfed the locust beast and the kids friends.

It didn’t stop there the night rang out with destruction as I ran around the area dropping sticks anywhere I could to get as many of them as I could.

We eventually defeated the creatures, so maybe this does show my perseverance to defeating evil Silcor. Maybe now he knows I will have something for anything he tries to send, but I know it was a sad night I feel great remorse for those lost, as the sun rises and we lick our wounds maybe the Great Sun Mother will cleanse my pain and shame and I can go on.

Or is it time that I leave these people before something worse comes from the darkness for me, maybe even Sicor himself and the death he bring will know no bounds.

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The Book of Arnold
The Gospel of Victor, the second, 12:3-9

One of his disciples came up to Arnold, and asked him the following question. “If God is just and all-powerful, why must we mete out his justice through such imperfect vessels as those we travel with? Not only do they blow up those abominations, they blow up true believers as well!”
To which Arnold replied with this story: “There once was a shepherd who watched as his flock was thinned through constant coyote attacks. A wolf came up to him and offered him this deal, in return for some of his food each day and the warmth of his fire each night, he would protect the flock. And protect it he did, til the one day the wolf was a dog. And much like wolf turned to the dog, we must turn those with us on to the true light of god.”

“And what if we fail?”

“God is a vengeful as he is merciful. I have a few things up my sleeve if that happens again.”

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A new Day

<translated>
Dear Diary;

What a crazy turn of event, we lost some good men this day and we sent some real bad ones to their grave…

After good old Bryce ended up not showing we decided to prepare the town for a siege, was kind of a funny thing watching Dog Man try to put a wagon on the roof of a building. All that setting up and we didn’t even need it in the end.

Luke and Abby ended up riding into town to tell us the guy we were waiting for attacked our boss Sutter, took all herd, kidnapped our men, and only they were able to escape. After calming down Abby and some deliberation we felt that we had to take the fight to this Gault, but we didn’t have the man power to do it. Luke suggested that maybe we could get support in Exposition, so we rode out with the last of the cattle figuring we could trade them for a posse.

We ended up trading Bryce, who wanted to stay and help out the town some more with some kid who wanted to tag along, not entirely sure what he was about, but boy did he like to preach and preach and preach. Sometimes I think there is nothing worse than someone who thinks they know what they say means everything, but to each his own I guess.

When we made it to Exposition we almost had a shootout with this gal Mina, she was a Black River Enforcer, after some debate we decide to talk to each about what we knew about Gault, he had been riding around the territory falsely saying he was working for Black River and had a small army with him.

After some negotiation we got Mina to lend us some of her enforcers for some cattle. We left Abby with Mina for safe keeping and rode out on the trail to try to find Gault and his men, needless to say following the herd was not hard at all.

We had a long fire fight and I won’t get into specifics, because I just don’t feel like remembering it all right now, but we were able to get back Sutter…now it time to find out who didn’t make it.

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I am the Law

Dear Sam,

There’s been more strange goings on out here on the trail. We were just riding along, minding our own business, when from out of nowhere we were attacked but some kind of man eating plants. They were like tumble weeds, except they made you bleed. Tumble bleeds I guess you’d call them.

We made short work of them, but only after we lost another one of cattle.

After that we headed on towards the town of Dog Leg. Suttter sent a couple of fellers off to get some supplies, and don’t you know it if they didn’t ever come back. So it fell to us to take of the problem. Me and the gang rode into Dog Log, and found that our boys were being held by the local “Marshal” on some kind of trumped up charges.

Now you know how I feel about trumped up charges. My only regret was that Clarissa drew on them before I got the chance.

My only other regret is that the former Marshal had some friends. Now I’m not scarred of them or nothing. I just wished I knew where they were. If they’re heading back to town I want to be right here waiting for them, but if looking to wrangle the herd, I might need to head back quick.

In the end the gang decided we should sleep on it, so I’m calling it a night.

Take care, and give my love to mom,

Joey..

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The White Man

<translated>
Dear Diary;

I haven’t been writing lately because I feel lost again and unsure on how to proceed. Between the money I had saved and the pay I expected to get from this cattle drive I figured I would have earned enough to get myself a good amount of acreage, start a farm, get some bison, and live free…

But, I have lost way.

Sutter has us running the trail hard and he didn’t want to pay some type of toll, so had us going 10 days through the mountains. The pass was easy going, but each night I had continued nightmares of Silcor and being buried alive. Each night was worse than the previous and I felt my head would burst. We made it through, but then on the other side came across some new grumpy white men, who wouldn’t let us cross their land. Their land like this wasn’t here before these silly men came and put it there. Like the great spirits of the wolf, bison, elk, and eagle weren’t here living without “paying” for the privilege of trudging across somebody “land”.

Of course Sutter didn’t want to pay and I would be further damned if I let him drag me through some nightmare infested territory again, so I paid these people as if they could own anything. Going across their land ended up being a hazard anyway as the damn weeds were possessed by Silcor’s evil nightmarish taint and started eating the cattle and trying to bite us. But as I have found a good piece of iron takes care of most nightmares.
We moved on again and got to some town of Dogleg, Sutter sent a couple hands to get supplies and they hadn’t returned so we were sent to investigate. We got to town and were told that our Cow hands were arrested for who knows what. We went to the “Marshall’s” office to find that they were there accused of smashing up the town and we had to pay $500 dollars to get them out.

I was not having any of that. These men were hard damn workers and didn’t need to be treated like this. Based on the “Marshall” statements I knew there was something up. Of course the Dog man decided he was a lawyer and would talk them into releasing them. I felt this called for another solution, drew and shot that lying son of a bitch. The rest of the boys pitched in and we were ready to go and get out of there, but book reading guy Bryce said he wanted to stick around and help the people of this crappy town, as they were going to have a storm heaped upon their heads.

Bryce gives this great little talk to the people of the town about them helping them and us helping them, so to add to his story I pinned the Marshall’s badge to his chest. BOY did he glow and preen like a turkey. So we are stuck here overnight with who knows what coming our way.

Now I tell you I just don’t understand the White man, the think they own everything, they think they can do anything, and they think we owe them. Just is sicking.

Hey hey wake up everyone, anyone seen that Marshall, where the hell that chicken livered man go…

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Bryce's Rare Books

I noted on Bryce’s character sheet and introduction that he packed four rare books into his rucksack before departing Purity — to him, they were the books that someone might pay good money for and thus were worth bringing along (as opposed to the potboilers and other texts that comprised the majority of his stock). I’m OK with these books not having any monetary or skill value in the context of the cattle drive, but I wouldn’t mind defining some of them (or all of them) in the event they might have an RP impact depending on who we might meet in future encounters.

One book I’d like Bryce to have is “The Art of Secret Information Disclosed without a Key”, a book originally published in 1685 in Latin (original title “Cryptomenysis Patefacta”). The curious thing about Bryce’s book is that it was published in the 18th century, and purports to be an English translation by Dr. John Dee of the original Latin work, though anyone knowledgeable in the occult (which Bryce is not) would know that Dee died in 1609, many years before the original was published. (The book “Cryptomenysis Patefacta” is a book that actually exists, and is referenced in H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror”, so it may have some Mythos/occult connections, though that may not be relevant for this campaign.)

Another book I’d like Bryce to have is a printing of ‘Le Morte d’Arthur’, preferably one of the early 19th century re-printings inspired by the arrival of the Romantic period in art and literature. (At some point, Bryce, despite his intelligence, may well choose to start calling his Colt “Excalibur”, especially if he continues to record one-shot kills with it!)

I’m open to suggestions on what the other two books might be; I see Bryce as a reader who’d take advantage of down-time on the trail to leaf through one of the books he’s carrying, especially ‘Le Morte d’Arthur’. Bryce McCumber

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Letter from Dog Leg

My dearest sister,

You always said great things were in store for me. I think you’d be pleased to hear that I’m now a marshall, the supreme law man in the small town of Dog Leg. But the story of how I took that responsibility is a strange one.

We came down from the foothills of the Colorado-New Mexico border, and enjoyed a long stretch of relatively easy travel. The timing couldn’t have been better for my wound, as light work and rest allowed me a surprisingly quick recovery, though the bullet, I think, is still somewhere lurking in my guts. Nevertheless, the pain of the wound had all but disappeared by the time we reached the Farley homestead. I’d been ‘riding drag’, following behind the herd to keep any strays and laggards from falling too far behind, but we stopped at the border of Farley land and Sutter went to talk with the landowner to get permission to drive the cattle through.

Farley and his brother met our boss at the gates of the farmstead, armed and none too friendly. A few of the hands I’d ridden with since Purity rode up to see what was going on, and I followed.

In my last letter, I mentioned Clarissa. She’s a Native woman, and fairly knowledgable about the ways of the tribes. But either the Disputed Territories has brought out some streak of resentment in her, or I never realized how impatient and fiery this woman is. When it became clear that Farley didn’t want to let us drive the cattle over his land, Clarissa flatly offered him money to change his mind, then aggressively bargained him down to a $35 offer. I blanched — I haven’t had that much folding-money in my pocket in some time — but Clarissa pulled out a wad of scrip as if she hadn’t any use in the world for it and handed it to Farley, and we were soon on our way. Farley also mentioned a few of the local evils, including a gang leader and would-be authority in the territory named Gault. More on him later.

A few days past the Farley place, we encountered some weird plant-life — a few of the cattle became tangled up in a strange unrooted weed and began acting very agitated. We eventually discovered that, if these weeds were able to feed on the blood of a living creature, they’d change into an odd tumbleweed-looking plant, but one with thorns and a voracious maw that could gnaw a man’s leg off. One tried a run at me while I was freeing one of the herd from the rootless weed, but my now-trusty Colt helped me finish it off without incident. I think us fortunate to have lost just one head of cattle to the odd creatures, which Rin (the weird-science lady whose name I couldn’t recall in my previous letter) dubbed ‘tumble-bleeds’.

It wasn’t long until, in the morning prior to the start of the day’s drive, Sutter came to Clarissa, McShane, Rin, “Spider”, and myself, and complimented us on our ability to get things done. He asked us to handle a new problem — he’d sent a couple of hands ahead to a town called Dog Leg to look for provisions and supplies, and the hands hadn’t yet returned. Sutter was concerned that something had happened to the men, so he asked us to investigate, letting us know that we could rendezvous at a nearby town called Exposition once our task was complete. We rode off, arriving in Dog Leg at nightfall.

We quickly found the hands’ horses in the livery stable, and after stabling our own mounts we convinced the stable hand to tell us what had happened — he said the hands had been arrested by the town marshall, but was reluctant to say more. The others began to make cruel sport of the poor fellow, and I’m ashamed to say now that I joined in at first, until he revealed that the marshall and his deputies were the hirelings of Gault, the gang leader we’d heard about earlier. The blackguard extorts the townsfolk, terrorizing them, and his men had been brutally effective in doing so. I’d considered asking a few more folk in town about this marshall, but Clarissa was insistent — we should handle the task immediately by going to the source, the marshall himself.

What the stable hand had called the marshall’s office was little more than a great warehouse, with the two men we’d been sent to find bound in chains. Rin and Spider had remained outside, hoping to find a way to free the prisoners by stealth, while Clarissa, McShane, and I went inside. McShane, damn his fool eyes, immediately launched into another of his wild tales, claiming to be the hands’ attorney and demanding to speak with them. The marshall, who didn’t seem taken in by this tale in the least, let McShane speak with the boys, whose story — unsurprisingly — didn’t match with that of the corrupt marshall. The lawman claimed that he’d arrested the boys after they’d ‘busted up’ some of the town, while the hands claimed that the deputies simply jumped them once they’d arrived in town. Personally I was more inclined to believe the hands anyway.

Then Clarissa’s temper flared and she drew and fired on the marshall! I’ll admit myself a bit concerned, though we knew that no federal power backed the marshall’s authority and he was but a thug in the hire of a bigger thug, he still represented the law. Nevertheless, the man brought out his shotgun and began blasting away at McShane. I drew my pistol and told one of the deputies to stay out of the fight, but he ignored me and drew his own weapon. I felled him with a single shot. I then aimed my weapon at the other deputy and repeated my demand for peace, but that man tried to take a shot at Clarissa, so I put him down as well. Though I took no pleasure in these mens’ deaths, I will admit to suffering a bit of pride at my newfound skill at gunplay. But guns are deadly tools, and this time it was McShane who took the worst of it. He survived, with the help of Rin’s weird concoctions, and he, of course, claimed the marshall’s shotgun as prize for his indifferent effort in freeing our boys. At least in this fight he made a reasonable distraction, keeping the bullets from finding my flesh.

When we left the marshall’s office, a crowd of townsfolk had gathered in the square, concerned at the sound of gunfire. When we told them that we’d defeated the corrupt minions of Gault, they became agitated, worried about what the brute would exact from them in punishment or tribute for the loss of his men. I’m not sure why or how, but something inside of me snapped at that moment, and I stood before the townspeople and gave a rambling speech about justice — I barely remember the words now, but I was quite persuasive, I think, since a few townsfolk actually applauded when I was done, despite their fear. I do not think they will fight Gault’s men, but I also don’t think they deserve to be oppressed for that choice.

By the time my speech was over, Clarissa had taken the marshall’s badge and pinned it to my work shirt. At that moment, I knew that we couldn’t leave Dog Leg to the mercy of Gault’s thugs and killers. We’ll be spending the night, to give the boys a chance to recover a bit from the beatings they took, but I think I may remain here come morning, if only to try to show the townsfolk what one man willing to stand for the right can accomplish. They think I’m crazy, I’m sure, and I can’t say myself that they’re wrong. I only hope nothing ill befalls the cattle drive before our return, assuming of course there is a return from what Gault will no doubt send against us.

Pray for me, sister.

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