Clay asked me to be a sort of group scribe, and record our weekly gaming sessions. I have taken it upon myself to write our adventure diary in the form of a Tombstone Epigraph column, tounge firmly in cheek...to be read in the style of "reportage" that seemed to be the way of things at the time. (this was influenced heavily by articles contained in "Annals of the War" a collection of Civil War era journalism originally published in the Philidalphia Weekly Times. Lots of strange capitalization etc...)
Tiny Union Outpost Attacked
Enemy Hoardes Swarm
Near Fort 51 -- Overrun with Wolves, Devil Bats, various & sundry Vermin, including not a few Ruffian-Types, a steadfast handful of Brave Union Troops came afoul the Evil that haunts the Wierd West last night.
Early in the afternoon. a forlorn man (of a group of civilians whosheltered recently in the safe confines of the outpost), waylaid by diesase in days past, seemed to have sucommed to his long and protracted illness (being rather pale of late). The poor Soul was seen to be carried to a more comfortable resting place by two of his travelling companions. A long struggle lost? A harbinger of events to come? Read on gentle reader...
The attack itself was announced by a Mighty boom at the gates, as the shot from distant cannon rained down upon the fort. The shot was fired from the maw of a Automatic-Steam-Powered & Self-Propelled Mechanical Cannonading Device. The fell Metal Beast, a-chugging and a-wheezing, made its waytoward the fort as stealthily as flatulence at a fancy dinner party is not. Three shots from the Machine were enough to tear the gates asunder.
In retaliation, a handsome chap of regal bearing, though a tinhorn nonetheless and two of the civilians who had been on a stop-over in the fort (one just a woman, other with a flash at his manly breast as if he wore the Emblem of the Law), fired a remarkably accurate shot in answer from a six-pounder mounted on a flatbed train car. Like the wrathful Fist of the Allmighty, the blow fell square on the Machine, rendering it silenced.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the fort, shots were heard to be fired from many of the windowless openings of the Engine House. Not out of, but into! Attacked by some treachery within! Bullets whizzed about like flies at a State Fair, but the brave stood their ground and returned fire. One Chinaman was even fool enough to engage the enemy at close quarters, not having the eduction to properly operate a firearm form a distance, apparently.
Two of the civilians, one rather plump and sausage-like, the other nattily dressed in the manner of a Dodge City Card Sharp, took positions to better their aim. The portly gent fired fair and true, mortally wounding his Foe. Though, oddly enough, from that point on, his enemy chose not to return fire with a rifle, but rather a sort of long black "rope" that could only have been net or "web" if you will. It was dark, and no further details were forthcoming that can be accurately reported, save for the factthat the fort does seem to have more than the usual problem with arachnids than your average Outpost.
But the Card Sharp, that was a sight indeed. Strange and incredible as it may seem, dear reader, the man shot a ghastly Ray from his fingertips, and dealt a mighty blow to the Engine house, with not more than his own force of will. Your humble reporter, mystified by this Phenomena, nevertheless stands true to his word, though his soul fears retribution for no more guilty a sin perpetrated than as having witnessed Man bend the fearful Evil to his own purposes.
Speaking of which, the Preacher known to be travelling with this ragtag band was nowhere to be seen. A man in black, wrapped in the cloak of the shadows. Not how one would normally expect to see a man who Walks in the Light. One can only guess...
More news as it happens...
Victory in the High Desert
Civilians Save the day as Union Troops Watch
Near Fort 51 -- What sterner stuff is man made of that essence of audacity, awelessness, boldheartedfullness, chin-up-manship, and courage of those who fought so dashingly to fend off the swarming hoardes of darkness that beseiged a tiny outpost in the dry wastes of the Disputed Territory. Union Blue bloods victorious again? Why, no sir! It was a rag tag band of civilians who screwed up their courage, tightened their belts (and garters it must be said), and kept their powder dry long enough to show the feinds the real meaning of True Blue Bravery.
The Union boys stood their ground as stead-fast and stock-still as a hare in the coach lights, and they did not flee under the wrath of the enemy as is their habit in such cases (Bull Run was aptly named, dear friends). They stood at their posts with such a display of unswaying erectness that even U.S. Grant might have briefly considered sobriety (at least for a day) to have the honor to stand so vertically among them. Not a twich nor a twitter, nary a posession of passion nor fit of pugnacity moved them from their vigilance on the walls of the outpost.
Down in the Yard, the Chinaman (to the astonishment of all and sundry) locked wills with the enemy at close quarters. Undaunted by the sight of a blast of spiders being slung at him by a what can only be described as a Succubus who walked the earth, he made his way into the Engine House, wading through the enemy to the second floor, whereupon he seized the aforementioned Witch, wrapped her in her own whip, and flung her out the window like yesterdays night waste.
On the ground outside the window, the less ethnic among the civilians finished the Chainaman's work. She expired in a manner befitting such a creature, and not wanting to tax your good humor, dear reader, I will spare you the grusome details. Suffice to say that the Preacher brought the Wrath of the Allmighty down upon her like a thunderbolt, while she was drenched in a rain of lead.
The Automatic-Steam-Powered & Self-Propelled Mechanical Cannonading Device, obviously done greivous damage by the artillaristic aplomb, keen eye, and cool wit of that dashingly handsome tin-horn, made haste away from the battle, and disappeared over a ridge in a cloud of coal smoke and steam.
After some minor mopping-up, the battle was soon over. All that was left to be done was to find one "Ginny" and question her as to her suspicious connection to the planning and execution of so dastardly an attack. But, that went quickly awry when it was discovered that she had been killed! Justice served....?
With the (timely?) arrival of Union Reinforcements by rail, all was made safe again. And so the civilians, having saved the tny outpost from the clutches of darkness, were released from their duties to make their way by rail back to more civilised surroundings..
More news as it happens...
Into the Heart of Darkness
Mighty Maxis Missing?
Salt Lake City -- Suffice to say gentle reader that your loyal correspondent has been busier than all the bumbles in a Deseret Beehive. Apologies to all and sundry for keeping you In the Dark for such an impolite length of time. Truly though, no stretch of even the most soaring imagination (the halcyon mental wanderings of the opium den-izens not withstanding) could not conjure up the images which your humble scribe has been a party to.
Dispensing with further dangling participles, allow the scene to be set: City 'o Gloom, as it is known among Those Who Know, all soot and spoilt. A city split in two: the wholesome cleanliness of the residential palisades of John Smith's ever faithful flock, and the squanderous sewer called Junkyard.
It is in the shawdowy depths of Junkyard that we find our (now famous?) Rag Tag band of adventurers, and of course, Yours Truly, (by now Western Union's best customer). Summoned by calling, curiosity, and cash (although not necessarily in that order, nor in any hierarchy of value, moral or Otherwise) Our heroes made forth to the Largest and most Luxurious Hotel in this fair (FOUL!) burg. Its manager, a gentle man of Indian (Dots, not Feathers) extraction offered the group employment in the form of a Criminal Investigation, the likes of which, legalities being ever so Legal, are best left out of the hands of the local Law Enforcement. Goaded, prompted and cajoled (not to mention hoonswaggled, befuddled, extorted, and buffaloed) our dear colleagues into accepting his generous offer of Employment. Condition the first: no Police. Condition the second: their eventual and ultimate employer was never to be mentioned.
On then to Junkyard, the location of murder most foul, and thievery most clever. A secret underground lab looted in the night by unknown Persons of the Ruffian persuasion made off with 1 (one) Heart of Darkness, as the name implies a dark ghost gem of incalculable value; 1 (one) Maxis Wearable Steam Powered Exoskelotonal Personal Offense/Defense Suit-Device; and 1 (one) Steam Powered Personnel and Cargo Conveyence-Device.
The Evidentiary clues:
Then our humble band split, and disparate errands. One Man of the Cloth (alone) followed his faith and his deductions to the river front, where upon he ventured a brief inquisition on a helpless derelict, who information was equally unhelpful.
Next issue could be:
Death in the High Desert
Louche Abbot of Lost Angels
Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate
Lost Angels -- The above, had it been inscribed in firey letters above the entrance of that dread place, the "Rock", would not have surprised yours truly for the horrors witnessed therein.
There are nine circles of Hell in that immortal work of Dante, And our intrepid band of Righteous (more or less as the case may be, but largely more than less lately) crusaders saw at least three of them and survived to tell the tale. Not unscathed, not untouched by the Evil there. No, scars are there now, and memories that will creep into dreams unbidden and cursed will be the moon for the light it gives the night that is too long to bear, when waking is far better than sleep for as there is no rest for the wicked, neither is there respite from the quest to smite them down.
That First circle of Hell was a kitchen-cum-slaughterhouse that would shake the knees of the sturdiest denizen of the stockyards of the City of Big Shoulders, the Hog Butcher to the World(by strange co-incidence the rank smell in that place was such that the foulest of putrid poultices could not match it and the original meaning of the Red Indian name Chi Ca Go was "the place which does stink"). Rotting carcasses. Not of porcine, nor of bovine persuasion, but of Man Himself.
Grim. Could there be a more fitting name for the leader of a church of Cannibals?
But the Obscenities did not stop there. No, they came again and again, as a Laboratory in which the strangest of Post Death Surgical-Type Investigations were carried out on eviscerated corpses (not even Human corpses, but rather some abomination the likes of which Dante himself would be hard pressed to imagine, let alone conjure into words. A throne room carpeted and wains-coated in gnawed bones. A rank Dungeon far underground, with implements of torture the only view a prisoner might have.
Nor was this a simple stroll in the park, even if the scenery was of the landscape of a Poe-esque tale. For our Heroes had to fight their way from room to room, with a fistful of courage (held by most, though Tom does sport a new coiffure, white as a sheet) and a rain of lead from their mighty weapons. The leader of the band (if there is one) the preacher Elijah moved with such speed and raw violence that even the Dashing Lt. Lawrence (of campaigns in Africa, and who has seen most of it if not "all") was taken aback. Diving across a room full of enemies, to land prone under a table at the feet of one such enemy and then having the joi de vivre (or whatever it is that the French claim to have in such abundance) to draw his shotgun (procured where? borrowed from whom? mysteries abound), point it unashamedly at the aforementioned enemy's Nether Regions, and then calmly pulling the trigger was a sight to behold. Fire in the belly, has one Elijah, Preacher.
But Belly Fire alone was not enough, as all and sundry played a part in the battle (Abraham having come down from the roof after having the aplomb to create a diversion of fireworks that surely would have greened the gills of even the most Chinese of Pyrotechnician Prestidigitators) except one. That slickster of a card sharp found that his bowels were heavy, his bladder weak and his spine absent. Precious minutes winged past as the party waited for Artemis to shake the dew off the lilly, see a man about a horse, study Tai Chi (insert a witty euphemism of your choice dear reader, for he had time to do them all)
In the end then, the prisoner was liberated. But where was the Heart of Darkness? In the clutches of one Grim (Reverend not being a fitting title) who sure as the sun will rise, has some evil designs afoot. Armed to the teeth ( and empty of bowels) the party now moves with Great Haste to the cathedral (small c, thank you very much) to foil what well made plans must , even as you read this, be unfolding upon the Good Earth like a Plague of old.
Down Lucifer's Bat Hole
What the Brassica oleracea!
Devil's Tower, Wyoming -- Having flown over the high desert and the vast badlands (aptly named gentle reader, this is no patch for your posies) hanging by what seemed the meager-est of threads from the underside of an Airship piloted by a more or less sober Irishman (it is a sliding scale, is sobriety) to do battle with fearsome Devil Bats, then to be Perched atop an eight hundred foot tower of basalt, with naught but a hole down which to slither is not the way this humble reporter had pictured the climactic battle for the very soul of the whole planet, this our Earth to play itself out.
Yet, there they were, our humble band of daring-do-ers. And down that hole must they go, lest the world fall into the blackest of nights that has no dawn. A black hole from which it seemed that the very billows of Lucifer's stinking, sulfurous forge blew its befouled breath. Who better than the brave Lt. Lawrence to fling himself to certain doom down that treacherous chasm? None Other! For down he went, to depths unknown, only to be set upon by a flock of flapping flyers that took the shape of the sea creatures that ply the warmer tropical waters of HRM's glorious Empire. Sting they did, and again and again!
Signaling the desire to return heavenward, the brave Lt. waited patiently for assistance from above, for it was the mighty Elijah ( the Spiritual Behemoth) who held belay at the other end of the rope. Surprisingly (or not, viewpoints vary wildly) no help came, but rather, the rope slackened! With nothing but razor sharp wits and Manly strength of musculature, the ever resourceful Lieutenant managed to take hold of a ledge of sorts just long enough to set alight a single stick of dynamite, and leave it as parting gift for the stinging creatures, with faith ever in his friends that he would be pulled up to safety in time. And with a mighty heave, Elijah and the others managed to do just that. The blast destroyed the flapping nasties, leaving only a trace of their foul innards plastered on poor Tom's face (a bit slow on the uptake Tom is...) as the only evidence of their previous existence.
So down the hole went the rest of them. To find at the bottom: what? riches? Demons? a gate to Hell itself?
No. Instead they found:
Yes cabbages. And carrots and celery and many other vegetables (that do not start with the letter c) as well! Enough to feed a small army of the wee creatures that seemed, timid though they were in some cases, to be here to guard the garden. Which they did rather effectively by means of Light Ray Emitting Pistolic Stunning Devices for Attack and/or Defense. The brave Lieutenant was (being near the point to defend the noble Elijah) target for the creatures and their Devices, and took a heavy blast in the Chestal Area, to which he nearly succumbed, saved by the greatness of his constitution, and also the skill of Lee's medicines.
Whither next the brave adventurers? Further down the dark spiral stair to the nether regions of the earth to face who knows what evil?
More news as it happens...
A Stone Lost, and a stone Found
Wide Awake at the Edge of the Earth!
Devil's Tower, Wyoming -- Up the spiral stair into who knows what fire and brimstone, or just plain stone or for that matter Stone awaited them, the brave adventurers did not know, yet up they went nonetheless. And on their way up a meeting with yet more of the strangely outfitted creatures which spelled trouble for the brave Lt. Lawrence, for although he is a master of the Military arts, the sheer number of evil doers that fired volley after volley in his direction was more than even he could manage. It was only the timely intercession of his loyal friends that saved his posterior anatomical areas from certain doom.
And yet, through some strange miracle, the fearsome ray emitting pistol weapons have no apparent effect on the good Elijah, man of God, beholden unto the book, traveler of the wastes, protector of the modest, (irritant of the moderate). Upon seeing this, a leader of the unearthly creatures offers a truce, which is roundly and gladly accepted. They offer their assistance in pursuit of the conclusion of the Quest, and the humble heroes are led to the source of power for the entire complex. Hopefully to find that which is sought by our friend in arms, who holds in her hands the source of all the aforementioned trouble: the Heart of Darkness.
Expecting to find a steam electrical generating mechanical engine type device, the band of the Brave is witness to a shimmering band of energy, as of lightning rendered liquid and harnessed by some unsee-able power.
And what from out of this ghastly door steps? None other than the Walking Wickedness himself. Stone. He seizes the woman, and races out of the room (cowardly move that) leaving in his wake a miniature twister that can only be passed by the strongest of the strong. Too strong for our Foreign friend, who succumbs.
Up then and out, to avenge his death, to snatch victory from Stone's cavity-ridden jaws. Bullets fly, like a hailstorm, as does Elijah! Over the edge of the tower goes Stone, falling. But what of the other stone, the object of the quest? There on the edge of the Tower, and of Disaster itself is the preacher, arm outstretched, with the Heart of Darkness safely in hand. Miracles abound! But that is not the end of it for...
...one miracle falls closely on the heels of another, and Elijah is able some how to return the spirit of our late Chinaman back to the realm of the living. And so Elijah is indeed useful, in the end.
Stone is thus fallen, both physically and metaphorically, but to wherecannot be said, for no body was found.
Wither then our friends? Who can say...
More news as it happens...
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