Blood on the Prairie

Epitaph EXTRA!!!, Volume 3
After the destruction of the No. 6 Black Phantom, the Posse is left without equipment or transport...

“Not a goddamn thing left!”

Ruckus Nighthawk picked thru the remains of the ruined storage car where the Posse’s supplies, extra weapons and horses were kept. It was total wash. If the violent crash didn’t destroy most of the party’s belongings, the explosion would have certainly done so. Ruckus angrily kicked a piece of broken wood across the ruined car and it careened off into a far corner and landed atop one of the grisly remains of one of the horses.

“I tell ya, this is some bullshit! We were better off on our own! Ever since we ran into this pack of lunatics, we’ve been shot at, stabbed, crawled thru caves, covered in blood, fought off packs of blood-drinking psychos who don’t have the good courtesy to die when ya shoot ’em!…” Ruckus’ sentence trailed off as he continued to loose his anger on the wreckage of the supply car, but his only audience were a pile of broken guns, dead horses and of course, Leo Nighthawk.

The wiry gambler absently wiped some of the soot that Ruckus had kicked up from his tirade off the crisp silk of his shirt. “Indeed, dear brother. Our fortunes have not been the most auspicious as of late. To be truthful, I also weary of this constant assault by the supernatural. Then again, I haven’t had this much fun since Armarillo.” Leo shuffled a pack of cards in one hand while grinning to himself. While, he had to admit, his life had taken a turn for the dangerous and obscene, he was having the time of his life!

Ruckus and Leo exited the ruins of the car and rejoined the Posse. At a small campsite away from the wreckage, Rev. Dallas, Walks With Moonlight and Dr. Hedgewig were seated around the flavorful smelling pot of chili that the Reverend had whipped up. Walks With Moonlight seemed to be keeping an abnormally close eye on the good doctor, and as the Nighthawks rejoined the group, Walks spoke.

“So, the demon got the better of you. You have my sympathies, Doctor. I have not known many who suffer from such curses as you.”

Doctor Hedgewig stirred uncomfortably on the ground. A deep malaise had overtaken the Doctor since his control was wrested away by the demon lurking in his undead mind. Grimly, the Doctor replied, “I agree. Though I do not share your savage predilictions for blaming everything on spooks and goblins, I have to admit that I am at a loss to explain what precisely happened to my ability to control myself.”

All eyes fell on the Doctor as he recounted the tale. “I could…see myself. Not an ‘out-of-body’ experience or what-have-you, but I was fully aware of what I was doing, but powerless to stop it. My ‘demon’ was using my own techinical expertise to sabotage the train. I had no control, and I couldn’t stop it. All I could do was watch….and listen to that insane cackling…I…cannot express my remorse.”

A strangely silent Reverend Dallas handed out bowls of chili to his compatriots as Walks placed a comforting hand on the Doctor’s shoulder. “Few have the strength to best a manitou when it is NOT residing in your soul. You have won control back, Doctor. Do not squander your time in control wallowing in misery.”

Doctor Hedgewig sighed heavily and turned to his bowl of chili when a loud belching noise erupted from Ruckus Nighthawk. The burly gunslinger glowered at Hedgewig and uttered, “Bullshit.”

Reverend Dallas sighed heavily himself, out of aggravation. “What’s done is done, Ruckus. He’s in control, and the Lord willing, he’ll stay that way.”

“Whatever,” Ruckus replied, “All’s I know is if he turns again, I’m blowing a new set of eye sockets in the back of his skull.”

Doctor Hedgewig abruptly set aside his chili and went off by himself. He snatched up a bottle of whiskey from the debris on the ground and set to drinking it deeply as he stumbled away from the rest of the group. He carried a look of utter dismay.

After he had gone, Ruckus grinned slightly to himself and growled, “Was it sumthin’ I said?”


With a belly full of lunch, (and quite a few drops of whiskey in the Doctor’s case), the Posse set about the task finding a way to go. It was the goal to head toward Denver, and on the Black River rails, it was a straight shot from Dodge City. All one had to do was follow the rails.

The march passed in silence, half because no one had much to say, but also from the heat. July was being frightfully unkind to the Posse as it began a march along the rails that would lead them to Denver. The sun beat down upon the Posse like an oppressive blanket of fire. The Reverend marched in grim solitude, seemingly unbothered by the heat, but the trained eye could catch his labored breathing. Walks With Moonlight played a low tune on her sacred flute to ignore the scorching sun. Ruckus greedily downed some more whiskey in his pocket flask, unheeding the knowldge that whiskey only made you thirstier. Leo played a game of Higher/Lower with himself, alternately drawing cards, shuffling his deck and wiping sweat of his well trimmed hairline. Only Doctor Hedgewig seemed to ignore the heat, but he had a different enemy: flies. A group of the winged devils had found the necrotized flesh of Hedgewig a tasty treat, and pecked at him with all the fervor of a vulture on a fresh kill.

Ahead, the Great Plains stretched out in front of the Posse like an endless ocean of grass. Rolling hills and cloudless sky made for uninteresting scenery to accompany a forced march, and the stillness was only broken by the rails that led the Posse on their course. Even this, however, became monotonous; It was only another trail that seemed to lead into infinity, disappearing into the horizon ahead.

After many hours of walking, the Reverend’s tired eyes spotted a break in the endless grassland. What appeared to be buildings were spied nestled in one of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It looked like a mining camp, but more importantly, it was civilization!

The Reverend pointed out the structures to the Posse, and the thought of shelter seemed incredibly inviting to them. Their pace quickened, and salvation was approaching ever closer…

It was only when the Posse saw scores of dead bodies lying in the dirt, pools of dried blood all about them, did they realize salvation was a long way from this place…

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Epitaph EXTRA! (Issue 1)
Dr. Hedgwig's demon has gotten the better of him, but has it gotten the better of the Posse?

Silence and pain.

As the dust from the horrendous wreck billowed and swirled about the prone form of Reverend Sebastian Dallas, these were the only sensations that applied to his state of mind. All was darkness in the Reverend’s mind, but the pain of his injured body shot thru his psyche like a bullet thru the brain.

Slowly, the Reverend began to stir, and the world about him regained its shape. He pushed himself to his knees as the fog of injury and confusion began to lift. His eyes cleared of the darkness in him, and he saw the scene of carnage that had developed.

He found himself kneeling amongst a few stunted prairie grasses a few scant yards from the mangled wreck of the No. 6 Black Phantom. The Reverend’s tired and trail-worn eyes had seen much, but the twisted husk of the locomotive put many of the grisly sights which he had borne witness to shame. All about the main body of the crash lay pieces of the engine; they were tangled about one another and shoved into the hard packed Kansas soil from the force of the impact. A thick, roiling cloud of smoke and fire wafted from the wreck itself, and for a moment, the Reverend could hear the tell-tale wailing of ghost rock set alight, and shapes of leering demonic faces seemed to appear and disappear in the cloud itself. The wreck itself was almost unrecognizable as a steam engine of high quality, but instead more resembled a pile of discarded and forgotten hunks of steel and fittings. The engine had been thrown farthest from the crash, it seemed, and had perhaps lifted itself into the air to land rather unceremoniously on the ground. The cars it carried appeared to have fared little better. The Reverend noted that the passenger car he had previously occupied when he last was cognizant had been thrown onto its side, and any luxurious accoutrements it had previously possessed had been stripped away. The paint that had once gilded the car was now mired in smoke and ash and scraped away by the rough landing.

And then it struck the poor Reverend…he was alone.

Struggling to get to his feet, Dallas began hobbling toward the passenger car, all the while not knowing if his comrades were alive. A panic welled up in him, closely mirrored by the pain that had been inflicted upon him. Although he traveled with individuals who perhaps did not share his mission, he knew that, at their cores, they were fellow humans. Besides, his own past was not so honorable…

The Reverend quickly found an entrance into the passenger car and began working thru the wreckage of the lounge. The pool table had been upended and split in two from the force of the impact, while spilled food and drink splashed the once austure wallpaper. Dallas could only hope to himself that non of the stains on the walls were blood.

A groan welled up from the water closet, catching the Reverend’s attention. He stumbled back thru the debris, making his way to the water closet, and fighting gravity and broken apparatuses, Dallas wrenched the door open to find the young Cheyenne, Walks With Moonlight. She coughed and spat up dust (and not a little blood), but appeared otherwise unharmed. Dallas outstretched his hand and asked, “You going to live, Walks?” The young shaman nodded back at the Man of God, and took his hand. The Reverend hauled her to her feet, and set about looking for others.

A loud groan and a shuffling of detritus from the hitching area revealed that Ruckus was yet alive, and the scowling brigand hauled himself to his feet with a grunt of disapproval. “Gol’damn trains! Can’t rely on nuthin’!”, he exclaimed.

The Reverend and Walks stumbled thru the wreckage to the mercenary and Dallas asked, “You seen Leo or Hedgewig?”

Ruckus looked offended. “Yea….I’m fine. Thanks.”

Walks sighed and rolled her eyes. She was not in the mood for more back-and-forth displays of tough-guy animosity. Now was certainly not the time. Leaving the pair, she made her way to the back of the car, the last place she remembered seeing the Southern gambler and the undead scientist.

Piled in the divans next to the exit door at the back of the car, she found Leo Nighthawk. The wiry huckster had to be roused back to consciousness under Walks’ medicinal capabilities, and once he was around, Leo began to speak.

“I don’t know what happened, but I know that Hedgewig had something to do with it. I’d say his demon got the better of him at last. But, where is he?” , Leo asked.

“We haven’t found him yet,” Walks replied, “But, what do you mean? How did Hedgewig cause this?”

Leo took Walks’ hand and shuffled to his feet, joints stiff with pain. “He must have mucked with the train somehow, sabotage I expect. He tried to flee, but I stopped him with my trusty Earthwrack hex. We should look for him.”

Walks was about to reply when a faint sobbing noise grabbed the posse’s attention. Immediately, all four began to pull apart some of the debris, and beneath the liquor cabinets lay one Dr. Hedgewig. The doctor was mad with grief it seemed, and a pall of guilt had settled on his face. A bottle of bourbon rested shakily in his hand as he sat in a ball underneath the debris. He seemed almost oblivious to the fact that he was now faced with the angry and accusing faces of the Posse.

Angrily, Ruckus hauled the doctor to his feet and slapped the liquor out of his hand. Ruckus wasted no words and pulled his pistol from its holster and placed it against the head of Dr. Hedgewig.

“Should I kill the sum’bitch now?”

The Reverend hefted his own rifle and pointed it into the eyes of Hedgewig. “Maybe,” he answered, “but we need to know who’s in there first.”

Finally, the undead scientist broke out of his malady long enough to exclaim, “I had no control! It was animating me, making me sabotage the train! But it has fled my mind….shock of the crash, perhaps, but I am myself once more, I swear!”

Leo seemed unimpressed. “And how are we supposed to know that, sir? I feel that you are attempting to dissuade us from granting you release from your torment, just so you can try to shuffle us off the mortal coil at a later date.”

Ruckus added, “What my dear brother is saying is that yer fulla shit, hombre.” Ruckus cocked the hammer on his pistol and prepared to send Hedgewig to meet his maker, when the Reverend chimed in.

“There’s a way to be sure,” he said, and Reverend Dallas closed his eyes and said a silent prayer to God Almighty. When his eyes opened again, a golden light radiated forth from his pupils, and Dallas scrutinized the Harrowed up and down. When he was satisfied, he said, “It’s Hedgewig, all right. He’s in control for now.”

Ruckus and Leo seemed almost disappointed as Ruckus reholstered his gun and Leo deigned to not contact the spirit world for power to send Hedgewig to Hell. Hedgewig spoke to Dallas, saying, “Thank you Reverend. I am in your—”, but the sentence was not finished, as Reverend Dallas drew his gun and planted it squarely in the doctor’s mouth.

“What I said,” the Reverend explained, “is that you’re in control NOW. Doesn’t mean I trust you, Hedgewig. No one’s dead, so that means you live…for now. You keep your demon in check, doctor, or the next time, I’ll let the Nighthawks send you to Hell on a shutter.” The Reverend removed his pistol from Hedgewig’s mouth and finished, “Comprende’?”

“Indubitably…”, the doctor replied, deflated and beaten.

Walks with Moonlight interrupted, “Boys, I think a departure is in order,” as she pointed toward the flaming wreck of the ghost rock boiler. More fires were spreading, and all of the party knew that the engine would soon go critical!

All of them hurriedly gathered whatever weapons and provisions they could find, and exited the car in a chaotic fashion. The posse ran hard and fast, and soon, they were all thrown to the ground from a violent explosion! The boiler had burst, and whatever remained of the No. 6 Engine was soon obliterated in a pyrotechnic display of vast proportions!

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Epitaph EXTRA! (2-20-11, Part 2)
The Posse has accepted Mina's offer, but a suprising enemy waits in the shadows...

The Posse was motivated by many things: One, a desire for redemption. Another, a mysterious vision quest. Another sought adventure and knowledge unforeseen. Another sought only to keep having the time of their lives. Another was simply doing a job. And one sought to learn all there was to learn about the world and his own strange self.

So, was it the money that had the Posse agreeing to the job? Perhaps, but it seemed there was more to it. Dr. Hedgewig, for example, sought to expand his repertoire of scientific endeavors, and demanded that he be allowed to work on the No. 6 train in an effort to improve on what he called “an inferior design” before he agreed to the job. Ruckus, naturally, demanded a larger cut of the money. Reverend Dallas, who normally did not care about money, accepted the job almost immediately. Walks With Moonlight was intrigued by Black River’s “women only” policy, and agreed to the job on the condition that a position in the Witches opened up if nothing better came along. One can only surmise at Doc Pinket’s happy-go-lucky acceptance of the assignment. But Leo had more unconventional interests…

After departing Mina’s railcar, Leo Nighthawk stayed behind to ascertain the true meaning behind Mina’s desire for the scroll. He had deduced the scroll’s origins, if only vaguely: The scroll was of Mesoamerican origin, but it seemed to predate many of the ancient cultures prevalent by at least a few hundred years.

Mina hinted to the wily huckster that she had an interest in the scroll beyond just a taste for archaeology. In fact, she strongly hinted that the scroll itself may contain a secret of untold power. Leo surmised that Mina was in fact a huckster in her own right. Was he correct? Mina wasn’t telling, so the slick gambler from Louisiana would simply have to wait and see.


Outside, Doc Pinket said a temporary farewell to the party:

Pinket: “Well, y’all, I got me some minor business to take care of, so I will meet you in Denver ‘tomorrie’. Take care now!”

With that, the mysterious snake oil salesman vanished into the night, but vowed to meet up with the group once again. Never once did he say WHERE he was off to, but it seemed the Posse trusted the strange old man to meet them in Denver, as if somehow, there was more to Doc Pinket than met the eye. Still, that story would have to unfold later.


The Posse proceeded on to the No. 6 Engine, nicknamed "The Black Phantom, which was situated just outside Dodge City on the Black River Railroad’s Western railhead. There, a group of the Wichita Witches had gathered to demonstrate a few knife-tossing skills. Although Leo tried to ingratiate himself into the ladies’ company…and possibly into their beds…they seemed nonplussed and almost agitated by Leo’s presence. Walks, however, seemed a natural fit into the group. She quickly demonstrated a skill at knife-throwing, besting one of the Witches handily and with almost no effort. Leo even decided to make a wager on Walks that she could outscore any of the women, and came away with a little extra spending money!

Dr. Hedgewig, meanwhile, immediately set to work on “improving” the No. 6 with his own unique skill at science and engineering. All the while, Ruckus kept badgering the undead scientist with an idea for an armored duster that would allow easier carrying of Ruckus weapon of choice, dynamite. Hedgewig seemed irritable, moreso than usual, and seemingly only agreed to Ruckus’ request to get the burly mercenary off his back.

Reverend Dallas arrived shortly thereafter with the Posse’s horses and equipment. But a strange noise caught his attention on the other side of the No. 6 opposite Hedgewig and Ruckus. The Reverend went to investigate along with Ruckus and discovered a gang of thugs accosting the engineer, with one of the thugs planting something beneath the train! With a quick intervention, the two men scattered the ruffians, but the Reverend wanted answers. He quickly fired a shot from his Winchester ‘76 into the path of one of the men, stopping him in his tracks. The Reverend commanded the men to either tell him what they were doing to the train, or they could tell Ruckus! Ruckus punctuated the Reverend’s words with a quick hook to one of the men, dropping him like 3rd period French.

The thugs quickly folded like a house of cards and explained that they were there on the order’s of Joshua Chamberlain, owner of the Union Blue Railroad and one of Mina’s chief competitors! Dr. Hedgewig recovered some sort of tracking device from under the engine, and the Reverend, deciding to err on the side of honor, ran off the men with only a few bruises inflicted by Ruckus during the course of the interrogation.

The engineer, named Abner Duncan, was grateful to the Posse. He greeted them warmly and offered a tour around the Black Phantom, and the Posse was happy to find that they would be riding in one of the most luxuriously appointed rail cars in the Weird West! Hot coffee and water from a steam boiler, silk sheets and a full wardrobe, even a pool table!

Dr. Hedgewig completed his improvements to the engine, and soon the Posse was underway, enjoying the fruits of being favored Black River employees.


An hour into the trip, it was apparent to the Posse that the train was comfortable, yes, but now with Hedgewig’s improvements, it was fast…REALLY fast…..uncomfortably fast, maybe?

The Posse enjoyed a few rounds of pool, discussed the case at hand and enjoyed a friendly camaraderie…except for Hedgewig it seemed. The mad scientist seemed lost in thought and disinterested in company, but before anyone could mention it to him, Walks With Moonlight commented about the train’s speed. She asked if it was safe to be going this fast, and that’s when all Hell broke loose.

Dr. Hedgewig appeared overcome by a crippling discomfort, as if trying to toss off some iron shackles. Panic appeared in the doctor’s eyes, and for a moment, it seemed that Hedgewig was not in control of his own body! In fact, Leo noticed a sinister green light creeping out from behind the eyes of the mad scientist.

Hedgewig: (straining with effort) “Made….train…..fast…….no…….brakes!”

With horror, the Posse realized that they were on a runaway train, they leapt into action….sort of.

With the speed of the train and the jostling movements, standing up proved incredibly awkward. Only Walks With Moonlight demonstrated a superior grace as she quickly ascended to the roof of the lounge car and made her way forward to see if she could stop the engine. Upon arrival, it was clear that the train wasn’t going to stopped up here. The engine was screaming out of control, popping rivets on the engine and spraying steam and ghost rock vapor all over the Weird West, and poor Abner Duncan heroically tugged at the brakes….only to have the handle come off in his hand! Abner told Walks With Moonlight that the train was approaching a curve, and there was no stopping the crash to come!

Meanwhile, Ruckus and Reverend Dallas attempting to strongarm the train coupling free, but it was no use. Even the mighty Ruckus wasn’t strong enough to budge the coupler. So, a tried and true method was employed….more dynamite!

Leo held on for dear life at the back of the railcar, barely noticing that Dr. Hedgewig was slowly backing out of the rear of the lounge car. The huckster turned and saw that Hedgewig was attempting to leave, and the undead scientist regarded Leo with a hellish light in his eyes and a twisted grin! Leo put the evidence together, and surmised that Hedgewig had been overtaken by the Legion of manitous in his body! The things wearing Hedgewig’s body leered at Leo and with a mocking salute, threw open the door to the lounge, ready to make his escape and leave the Posse to die in a fiery train wreck!

Leo, however, was having none of it. The huckster summoned his trusty Earthwrack hex once more in an effort to prevent the Harrowed scientist from making good his escape.

Walks With Moonlight quickly returned to the lounge car and leapt inside just in time to see Ruckus’ fuse ignite the TNT stuck into the coupler!

And Abner Duncan could only watch in horror as the multi-ton train approached the sharp turn at over 80 miles an hour!

(TO BE CONTINUED)

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Epitaph EXTRA! (2-20-11)
The Posse meets with the alluring Mina Devlin to discuss a matter most urgent...

The next morning found the Posse in fine spirits, and the Fourth of July celebration going on outside their rooms seemed to fill the Posse with a small sense of pride. They had received no accolades for their work, dispatching the madman known as the Butcher, just a modest day’s pay and a pat on the back from Marshal Wyatt Earp.

Perhaps that is why the Posse chose to meet with railroad owner Mina Devlin, CEO of the Black River company. Her telegram promised fair compensation for the Posse’s efforts, and perhaps the idea of a payday that was wort the risk is what appealed to them. Almost certainly, it appealed to the Nighthawk brothers, who were always on the lookout for the next big score. Dr. Hedgewig seemed intrigued as well, if a little cold about the idea.

First though, a little shopping…


The Posse went out and spent some money, replenishing ammo and weapons, but it was Ruckus who surprised the party the most by spending his hard-earned coin on some fancy new clothes. Ruckus was fully aware of Black River’s reputation for being staffed and owned by some of the most beautiful and deadly women in the country, and he wanted to be sure that he caught a young vixen’s eye!


At Mina’s executive railcar, the Posse was greeted by a trio of beauties; they were the very same ones who had witnessed the Posse’s successful defeat of the ghouls underneath Dodge. The blonde, brunette, and redheaded ladies all carried whips and fine silvered pistols, and they instructed the Posse to disarm immediately before meeting Mina. They complied, but Doc Pinket elected to keep his spring-sleeve dagger contraption on him. However, the trio, known as the leaders of the Wichita Witches, quickly discovered the snake-oil salesman’s weapon and quickly relieved him of it. Clearly, these were not women to be trifled with.

After disarming the Posse, they were escorted into Mina’s private railcar, and were immediately floored by its opulence: Everywhere there was crushed red velvet, and expensive finery. The walls were decked out in the finest Parisian wallpaper, and the furniture looked as though it would have belonged in any French salon or palace. There were cakes and cigars laid out for the Posse, which Ruckus gladly enjoyed along with his brother, Leo. A cappuccino machine piped in the corner, delivering ghost rock boiled brew into fancy china cups. Clearly, Mina Devlin was a woman of exquisite tastes.

Behind a Parisian divider, a womanly shadow greeted the Posse and explained that she would be right out, delivered in a voice that hinted at Southern upbringing coupled with Harvard schooling. The shape behind the divider hinted at all the finest qualities of womanly beauty and sexuality. The voice’s owner was curved in all the right places and perfectly toned in others as she slipped on her clothes. The Reverend averted his eyes, but most of the rest of the party were drawn in by this display. At last, she appeared from behind the divider…

Mina Devlin’s body was put to shame by the dusky beauty of her face. Her skin was an alabaster color, milky and smooth. Her eyes were a smoky almond color, which shone with the light of superior intelligence, and lastly her hair was colored that of the deepest midnight sky. She purred a greeting to her guests, greeting each of them in turn by name. She took particular note of Walks With Moonlight, and noted that her reputation could earn her a post in the Wichita Witches if she so desired.

Mina sat behind her desk, a fine mahogany constructed affair, and set about her business. She handed out a photo to the party, taken with one of the brand new Epitaph cameras:

Aloysius travalyan

Mina Devlin said, "This is Dr. Aloysius Trevalyan, late of her Majesty’s United Kingdom. He’s an expert on rare antiquities and ancient cultures here in America. Recently, one of my survey teams came across an artifact of a curious nature, a scroll inscribed with a language that we did not recognize. It didn’t belong to any of the local cultures of Indians, and even more curious is where we found it: clutched in the hands of a dead Jesuit monk. He’d been dead for centuries, weathered to the bone, and yet the scroll remained intact.

I requisitioned the services of Dr. Trevalyan in order to decipher the scroll, as I have an interest in antiquities of this nature. He spent a few days researching the language of the scroll, and finally lamented that he had never come across such a language himself, even in the learned halls of Oxford.

I was about to file the scroll away as another curiosity when Dr. Trevalyan suggested that he be allowed to transport the scroll Salt Lake City to seek one of the libraries in the City o’ Gloom as it is so aptly named. I gave him leave, and sent one of my own “Wichita Witches”, Annalee Ransom, to protect both him and my artifact.

That was two weeks ago, and the last communique I received was from Denver. I have heard from neither my scientist or his protector since. That is why I need you."

The Reverend was about to speak when Dr. Hedgewig piped in:

Hedgewig: “Sounds as if you hired a simpleton to do your work. This man you hired was a fool, and you were a fool to hire him.”

The Posse looked aghast at Dr. Hedgewig, except for the Nighthawk brothers who chuckled with amusement at the scientist’s uncharacteristic brusqueness.

Mina, although slightly ruffled, recovered her winning smile and replied, “If that were so, my good Dr. Hedgewig, you would not have replied to my letter, nor would you still be sitting in one of MY fine chairs and enjoying MY coffee. If I may continue?”

Reverend Dallas: “Apologies for my…’acquaintance’s’ rudeness, ma’am. Please, go on.”

Mina: “Very well. It is quite possible that my employees have fallen victim to one of the many unnatural things that roam this Weird West, and it has come to my attention that your group is experienced in matters most unnatural. So, I propose that you ascertain what happened to my scroll and my people. If you are successful, I will pay you one thousand dollars in whatever currency you so desire. If my scientist is dead, I at least wish you to recover my scroll. However, the reward will only be 500 dollars in that instance.”

The Posse elected to take up Ms. Devlin on her offer, and Mina told the Posse that discretion will be necessary as her competitors in the Great Rail Wars will likely take a dangerous interest into what Mina is paying so much for. She also granted the use of one her trains to the Posse to take them to Denver, the No. 6 Engine, named “The Black Phantom.”

(TO BE CONTINUED)

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Epitaph EXTRA! (2-13-11)
Doc Pinket faces down the creature who took his arm, The Butcher!

Doc Pinket could sense the end approaching for his nemesis, The Butcher. The black ooze on the edge of his knife told him that after many years of pursuit, his crusade to bring this monster down was at an end.

And Ruckus had his own hand to play! Springing up from his prone position, Ruckus seized the Butcher in his beefy arms and called to Pinket, “Stab him!”

Doc Pinket stepped in to land the death blow, and the Doc activated another literal trick up his sleeve: a spring-loaded dagger! But, the mechanism failed to deploy the knife and Doc Pinket only ended slapping the Butcher across the face.

There was a moment of silence between the three men due to the absurdity of Pinket’s face slap, but with his opportunity given, The Butcher twisted aside in Ruckus grip and slipped free! Pinket swore under his breath as the Butcher swung at him once again, slashing his brown overcoat.

Doc Pinket tossed his blade to Ruckus, who was in a better position to kill the Butcher, but Ruckus too missed with the blade.

Seeing that the tide had turned against him, the Butcher decided upon fleeing and before either man could stop him, he turned and fled into the darkness. Ruckus attempted to stop the monster with his revolving shotgun retrieve from his fallen horse, but the hot buckshot did nothing to slow the Butcher’s flight. Pinket knew that only blades would hurt the Butcher, and shooting him would just piss him off.


Meanwhile, Dr. Hedgewig ran out into the Dodge City streets, seeking to regroup with his allies and hunt aid in the destruction of the Butcher. He was quite surprised to see that another player had joined the battle, as a well-dressed man ran up to Dr. Hedgewig and asked what was going on! Dr. Hedgewig recognized him at once: Leo Nighthawk had returned to Dodge.

Before Dr. Hedgewig could explain what was going on, more of those twisted walkin’ heads appeared in the street and challenged Hedgewig and Leo. Leo took a quick assessment of his own, and called upon his mystic power to rip the earth asunder once again with an Earthwrack hex! The walkin’ heads quickly fell into the crevasse created by Leo’s power and were quickly dispatched, leaving a 60’ long crater in the city street!


Ruckus heard the earth churning up and recognized the noise as the power of his brother, Leo. Remounting his horse, Ruckus rode off toward the sound of the noise. Ruckus quickly arrived on the other side of the newly minted chasm and called out to Leo, saying he was late to the party. Dr. Hedgewig decided that he would be better suited to aiding Rev. Dallas and Walks With Moonlight and turned down the street to locate them. Leo told his brother that he would meet up with him shortly, and Leo turned to follow the mad scientist. Ruckus wheeled his horse about and turned back to aid Doc Pinket.


Meanwhile, Doc Pinket had pursued his prey into the alleyway. However, the Butcher was nowhere to be seen. Pinket immediately looked skyward, counting on his mysterious training to guide him to see what normal men would not. He spied the Butcher scrambling up the side of the wall like some kind of twisted spider! Quickly, Doc Pinket hurled the first of several knives at the Butcher, challenging him to end his battle. The Butcher turned and snarled at Doc Pinket and leapt from the building’s side, landing upon the Doc with his scalpel plunging into the Doc’s chest! However, the Butcher was surprised to see that his weapon penetrated not flesh, but was deflected by a layer of armor underneath the Doc’s shirt!

Doc Pinket and the Butcher wrestled on the ground, knives near one another’s throats, when Ruckus returned to the battle and took the Butcher down with a surprising move: He rode his horse down upon the pair! Both man and monster threw themselves out of the animal’s charge, but a moment too late! The horse slammed into the pair, throwing the Butcher aside and into a wall, and trampling the Doc with his powerful hooves! Only the supernatural nature of the Butcher and the armor beneath Doc’s coat spared them both from becoming a greasy stain on the ground.

Ruckus wasted no time and dismounted his horse and charged the Butcher with the Doc’s long Bowie knife…

…and that is when a sharp pain pierced Ruckus chest.

The cursed Liston knife exploded out of Ruckus’ back, spraying the mercenary’s blood all over the alleyway. The Butcher grinned at Ruckus who felt the life draining out of his body, and the burly man slumped to the ground, bleeding and dying.

The Butcher cackled with glee at claiming another victim…

…and then a sharp pain pierced the Butcher’s chest.

Doc Pinket had seized his opportunity and activated the spring loaded knife once again. This time, the catch worked perfectly and the stiletto leapt into Doc’s hand and was soon buried deep into the Butcher’s chest. Doc Pinket took no chances and furiously stabbed his adversary over and over again.

The Butcher seemed to be calmed by his own death, and the muscles receded back into his body, the facial features softened and returned to that of Clayton Mansfield. Clayton slumped down against the wall, soaked in blood and ichor, yet sporting a look of peace on his face. His long nightmare over, Clayton Mansfield graciously accepted his death.


Dr. Hedgewig, Leo Nighthawk, Walks With Moonlight, and Reverend Dallas were gathered further down the road, battling the Walkin’ Heads when suddenly they began to dissolve into puddles of goo. Rev. Dallas surmised that the Butcher had been dispatched, and his creations died with him. Leo charged off to assist his brother and the rest of the Posse followed suit.


Doc Pinket recovered the Liston knife as the rest of the Posse ran into the alleyway. Leo quickly attended to his dying brother, knitting his wounds together with a Helpin’ Hand Hex, and Ruckus was soon back on his feet.

Reverend Dallas and Doc Pinket resolved to bury the body of Clayton Mansfield. The rest of the Posse turned back to the saloon while the Reverend and Pinket saw to the burial. Upon arriving at Boot Hill, the sun began to dip in the West as Reverend Dallas and Doc Pinket buried the poor remains of Clayton Mansfield. After the sun had gone down and Mansfield was buried, Doc Pinket felt a strange sensation coming from his pocket where the Liston knife lay.

Doc Pinket felt his mind fill with impulses to kill and maim! The Reverend quickly slapped the Liston knife out of Pinket’s grip and the murderous impulses faded from Pinket’s mind.

The Reverend resolved to see the knife destroyed and began to read words of sanctifying that destroyed the curse upon the knife and the knife itself.

Their task complete, Reverend Dallas and Doc Pinket returned to the Dog-Eye Saloon to a well-earned rest. Doc Pinket himself breathed a sigh of relief as his own quest to see the Butcher destroyed came to an end.


Upon returning to the Dog-Eye, it was drinks all around for the Posse and everyone was in higher spirits for defeating a sinister evil. In fact, the very atmosphere around them seemed brighter and the shadows seemed to recede from the corners of the bar ever so slightly. Dog-Eye himself seemed in brighter spirits knowing the Butcher was put down, and the Posse knew they had done some good.

Soon after settling in, a telegram arrived for Reverend Dallas, stamped with the Black River Railroad seal. Excusing himself, the Reverend opened the letter and read:

“Reverend Dallas,

Congratulations on your recent defeat of the Body Snatchers. I have need of capable people such as you and your party. A trouble has arisen within my company and I believe that your skills in matters that many would find to be “unnatural” is the key to resolving my dilemma, and I am prepared to reward you and your band of troubleshooters handsomely for your expertise and hope to discuss matters with your company as soon as it is convenient.

If you wish to hear my offer, please come to my rail car in the center of Dodge City. I request only your discretion, and if you do not accept my invitation, please destroy this letter.

Regards,
Mina Devlin
CFO, CEO, President
Black River Railroad Company

The Reverend presented the offer to the Posse and they resolved to meet this mysterious Mina Devlin first thing tomorrow morning.


WHAT DOES THE ALLURING OWNER OF THE BLACK RIVER RAILROAD HAVE IN STORE FOR THE POSSE? STAY TUNED TO FIND OUT ON THE NEXT EPISODE OF “DEADLANDS: BLOOD ON THE PRAIRIE”!


View
Epitaph EXTRA! (2-6-11, Part 3)
After a gruesome murder put Independence Day celebration in a grim light, the Posse begins their search for a crazed killer...

The next morning found Doc Pinket and Reverend Dallas at the local sawbones’ office, a fellow by the name of Smith.

Doc Smith told the duo that while Sally was resting in the bed from her ordeal, she was in no position to answer any questions. So, Doc Pinket and Rev. Dallas took it upon themselves to investigate the corpse of Paul Goodwin. Doc Smith informed the posse that the diagnosis of death made by Doc Pinket the night before had been accurate, but he revealed another detail. The victim had likely been killed by a Liston knife, which is a tool carried only in a surgical toolkit. Whomever was responsible for the killing had access to medical equipment and procedure. That made the list of murderers very small indeed.

Meanwhile, Ruckus and Walks With Moonlight proceeded to McCarty’s Drugstore to get a lead on the scrap of white cloth found hanging in the bedroom window. McCarty revealed that yes, it was silk, and it was also very difficult to come by. Further, no one had placed any orders for silk shirts in several months. Seemingly, that trail had gone cold.

Dr. Hedgewig was also up bright and early and was on hand to witness the release of Ralphie Simpkins back into the custody of his brother Jake. Some words were exchanged between the ruffians and Dr. Hedgewig, but all in all, the exchange passed without incident. However, Dr. Hedgewig and Ruckus (who had just come from McCarty’s) were not satisfied. They tailed the Wilderness Riders to a rat-hole saloon and begin openly antagonizing the Confederate raiders. Jake proved to be a smarter man than Ralphie, and rebuffed the attempts at being goaded into a fight. The Wilderness Riders lit out of the saloon without further incident.


Once the posse resumed their duties in law enforcement, they discovered the talk of the town was the murder of Paul Goodwin. The rumor mill was in full swing, as Ruckus soon discovered, when he had to break up a discussion led by Ida Mae Hobart that a Union sympathizer was responsible for the killings. Quickly, the burly gunslinger stared down the riot-waiting-to-happen and quashed those rumors with a steely gaze and a mean sneer. Earp would later comment that the outlaw-turned-adventurer may want to consider a career in law enforcement one day. Ruckus actually accepted the compliment from Earp and it actually brought a smile to hulking brute’s face.

Walter Jackson caught up with Doc Pinket in the street and stopped to thank him for the Posse’s intervention last night during the scuffle with Ralphie, but swore to the snake-oil salesman that he would not be victimized again, and showed Doc Pinket a brand-new Bowie knife. Walter stated that if Ralphie came looking for him again, he’d be ready. Also, the ex-soldier stated how well his arm had been set by Clayton Mansfield, and was rightly impressed by his skills in medicine.

Doc Pinket decided to enlist the drunk’s aid once again. Perhaps he could spot something in the body of Paul Goodwin that he could not. So, another trip was made to Doc Smith’s office, this time consisting of Clayton Mansfield and Doc Pinket. Upon seeing the gruesome body, however, Clayton Mansfield staggered out into the street, chucking up his lunch.

Doc Pinket seemed to know more about this killing, however, and while the drunk disappeared out the front door, Smith called out the old snake-oil salesman. He knew that Pinket’s act of being a bumbling old fool was nothing more than that: an act. He saw the thousand-yard stare in Pinket’s eyes, and he also saw what Smith himself had seen…both men had seen this type of killing before.

Doc Smith, sensing a kindred spirit, began to regale Doc Pinket about his days in Gettysburg. He shared a story of a madman who went thru the Confederate lines during the battle, hacking off healthy limbs and heads of sleeping Confederate soldiers. “The Butcher”, they had called him. Doc Pinket completed the tale by saying the Butcher had visited the Union lines as well, and let on that his missing arm was a casualty not borne of warfare, but the Butcher’s knife.

During all this, Walks With Moonlight had taken the opportunity to attempt to sneak into Mansfield’s room. Something didn’t add up about the drunk in the shaman’s mind, but her attempts at breaking and entering were sadly lackluster. Finally, it was Doc Pinket who thought to simply boot the door open.

Inside, Pinket found conclusive evidence of Mansfield’s secret. Several white silk shirts were hanging in the closet in various states of tattering. A doctor’s bag under the bed contained a black valise with an empty slot where a Liston knife should go, with the valise interior drenched in blood. Lastly, and most horrifyingly, a carpetbag under the same bed revealed a collection of heads, arms, and legs that had all been curiously and gruesomely stitched together in various configurations!

The Butcher’s identity was revealed! The Posse sprang into action and began combing the streets looking for Clayton Mansfield.


Doc Hedgewig had stayed behind in the Butcher’s hotel room, looking to examine the curious collection of body parts. He muttered something about “building a bodyguard” as he went about his task of examining the heads and appendages, but unbeknownst to him, one or two of the grisly conglomerations began to move…


Out in the streets of Dodge, Ruckus was finishing a lone patrol when Clayton Mansfield staggered out of the darkened alleyways, begging to be arrested! Ruckus quickly clapped the man in irons and stuck him on his horse. But, the Butcher soon took hold of the frail drunkard. Clayton Mansfield screamed in agony as the Butcher took hold, and the small man’s body twisted and contorted with the change. He grew two more feet, and developed claws on his fingers, fangs in his mouth and a mad, leering grin! Brandishing his black and blood-soaked Liston knife, the now-Butcher snapped the manacles like fortune cookies and grabbed Ruckus from behind and attempted to plunge the knife into Ruckus’ throat!


Reverend Dallas, Walks With Moonlight and Doc Pinket continued to hunt for Mansfield in the streets of Dodge when from out of the shadows, the Butcher’s hideous creations leapt from their hiding places assaulted the posse! Reverend Dallas fought back, but his shot from his trusty Winchester did little appreciable damage to the Walkin’ Heads. Walks With Moonlight was more successful, with her daggers landing flush into one of the skulls of the twisted creatures, killing it outright.

“Aim for their heads!” she called out.

Adjusting his aim, Rev. Dallas dropped his Walkin’ Head with a well-placed shot.

Ahead, a bellow of terror and alarm filled the air, and Doc Pinket recognized it immediately as Ruckus Nighthawk! Doc Pinket drew his Gatling Pistol and rushed off to aid the mercenary, leaving Reverend Dallas and Walks With Moonlight to combat the Walkin’ Heads.


Meanwhile, Dr. Hedgewig had his hands full with the Walkin’ Heads in the Butcher’s hotel room. The creatures attempted to bite and claw the undead scientist, but Dr. Hedgewig had managed to finally kill one of the gruesome creatures with a lucky shot from his sidearm, dropping one of the critters dead.


“Don’t struggle, Ruckus….after all, I’m a doctor! BWAHAHAHAH!!!!”

The Butcher cackled with mad glee as he attempted to skewer Ruckus like a pig. Ruckus reacted quickly however, and threw himself and the Butcher off his horse. The two collapsed in a heap on the ground, but the Butcher quickly recovered and slashed at Ruckus with his knife, drawing the outlaw’s precious blood and further incensing the madman.

As the Butcher moved in for the killing blow, three shots rang out in rapid succession, and the Butcher’s chest blossomed with two holes that oozed black ichor. The Butcher turned and was greeted with the sight of Doc Pinket holding a smoking Gatling Pistol.

Doc Pinket stared down the Butcher and spoke with an altogether different voice, not the voice of a drunken, rambling old fool, but a voice with edge and grim determination.

Pinket: (glaring at the Butcher) “We have unfinished business, monster. Face me!”

Butcher: (grinning madly) “Ahhh, ‘Dr. Pinket’…Is that what we’re calling ourselves now? That wasn’t the name of the fool whose arm I slashed off in Gettysburg. That’s not the name I remember. Tell me…does it hurt, Dr. Sa—?”

“Pinket” didn’t allow the monster to finish, and fired three more rounds into the monstrous Butcher, saying only, “Shut up and die.”

The Butcher, however, did not die, and Pinket could only watch in grim surprise as the bullet holes in the Butcher’s body closed of their own accord!

Butcher: (snarling) “Wait your turn, boy.”

The Butcher then turned back to the injured Ruckus and slashed at him once more with his knife! The mercenary quickly rolled aside, narrowly avoiding another deep wound from the Butcher’s knife.

Doc Pinket tried a new tactic. Flinging the Gatling Pistol aside, the so-called snake-oil salesman drew his own knife from his coat. If bullets wouldn’t work, maybe blades would! Pinket rushed at the Butcher and slashed with precision, plunging his knife into the arm of the Butcher down to the hilt!

The Butcher howled in agony and stared agape at the knife buried in his arm. He then turned to face Doc Pinket. The mysterious one-armed man who wasn’t what he appeared to be faced down the twisted monster who inhabited the body of a broken soul.

Pinket: (smiling) “Tell me, Butcher….does it hurt?”


WILL DOC PINKET GET HIS VENGEANCE ON THE BUTCHER? WILL REVEREND DALLAS AND WALKS WITH MOONLIGHT SUBDUE THE WALKIN’ HEADS IN TIME TO LEND A HAND? WILL DR. HEDGEWIG ESCAPE THE WALKIN’ HEADS THAT SEEK HIS UNDEAD FLESH? WILL RUCKUS RECOVER ENOUGH TO TIP THE SCALES IN THE DUEL? AND WHAT OF LEO NIGHTHAWK?

TUNE IN THIS SUNDAY FOR THE CONCLUSION OF “INDEPENDENCE DAY”, THE LATEST INSTALLMENT OF HORROR AND ADVENTURE IN “DEADLANDS: BLOOD ON THE PRAIRIE!”

View
Epitaph EXTRA! (2-6-11, Part 2)
The Posse has accepted Earp's proposal, and begin the task of keeping the peace in lawless Dodge...

Reverend Dallas and Ruckus Nighthawk paired together, the logic being that the Reverend’s cool head would keep Ruckus from causing too many broken jaws and bloody noses.

Ruckus and the Reverend sauntered down Front Street, taking note of the multitude of characters walking the streets of Dodge in anticipation of the Fourth of July event. Patriotic red, white and blue bunting were strung up all over the city, and Union flags flew proudly from pro-Union storefronts. Everywhere there were set up several booths proclaiming various items; everything from firearms to linens to snake oil bottles were being proudly sold and displayed throughout the streets.

The Reverend’s attention was quickly drawn away from his duties to a copy of his favorite newspaper, the Tombstone Epitaph. The Reverend, being a hunter of all things evil and unnatural, found the Epitaph to be a significant source of information, if the rest of the world only saw it as a tabloid rag promoting sensationalist journalism. Quickly, he and Ruckus scanned the newspaper, and were delighted to see the results of their handiwork against the “Body Snatchers.”:

Traveling Companions Silence Body Snatchers!

In a follow-up to our last report about Dodge’s problem with dead bodies going missing from graveyards and coffins, we are happy to report that the so-called ‘Body Snatchers’ have been summarily taken care of by a group of hired troubleshooters engaged by the local law. In a stunningly revelatory press conference held by the group’s apparent leader, one Reverend Sebastian Dallas, it was claimed by this erstwhile band of do-gooders that the ‘Body Snatchers’ were some form of undead menace that fed on the corpses of the recently deceased!

To prove their case, this posse of concerned citizens displayed a hand belonging to one of these ‘ghouls’ as the Reverend coined them. It was a twisted, malicious looking appendage, and lent serious credence to the posse’s wild story. While other newspapers may have debunked the Reverend’s claim, we here at the Epitaph are proud to share the Reverend’s tale of triumph over the forces of evil that plague our Weird West. Good job, Reverend, to you and your band of heroes!

Curiously, Ruckus took note of the fact that none of the other newspapers had mentioned a word of the Posse’s deeds last week. The Reverend chalked it up the human need to ignore that which terrifies them.

This debate about human nature was quickly broken up by the interruption of a severe-looking old woman in her early sixties waving a flier in Ruckus and Dallas’ faces. The old woman, who called herself Ida Mae Hobart, launched into an immediate tirade about her crusade against the “demon drink” alcohol. Using religion as her platform, the Temperance League crusader demanded the Reverend’s support in abolishing liquor in the city, citing that a man of God should support this cause and if he didn’t, he was just as bad as those other sinners out there. The Reverend quickly admonished the old woman for her crime of judgment, when judgment is reserved for God alone. Ruckus backed up this argument with his considerable size and equally massive rudeness. Chastised, the old woman damned the Reverend and Ruckus to Hell as Godless heathens and went on her way.

Dallas and Ruckus moved on down the street, looking for more problems to solve.


Doc Sidney Pinket found himself in some trouble rather quickly during his patrol. Left to his own devices, the snake-oil salesman turned deputized lawman found himself embroiled in a one-sided scuffle between Ralphie Simpkins, a Confederate jayhawk and raider, against a humble young black man by the name of Walter Jackson. Ralphie had the poor fellow on the ground and was mercilessly kicking his face into the dust. Doc Pinket quickly stepped in and broke up the brawl, and Ralphie claimed that Walter started the whole row. Walter, incensed by this fraudulent claim, slugged the Rebel across the jaw, knocking him flat on his ass. Ralphie pulled a large Bowie knife and went after the ex-Union soldier, but Doc Pinket quickly disarmed and subdued Ralphie despite the use of only one arm!

Ralphie, embarrassed by this turn of events, was about to pull his gun on the sly shyster, but out of nowhere, his brother Jake pulled Ralphie off the street, apologizing to Doc Pinket for his brother’s rudeness. Doc Pinket graciously accepted, but Ralphie swore vengeance against Doc Pinket and Walter Jackson.


Dr. Hedgewig found himself enjoying the fruits of being a lawman in the Dog-Eye Saloon, where Dog-Eye McNary, pro-Union barman, was providing free drinks to the scientist, offering the doctor and any of his compatriots use of his saloon as a headquarters during the event. It was an obvious attempt to get on the Doctor’s good side, but the undead scientist didn’t seem to mind.

A drunken man with a decidedly educated manner of speaking approached the scientist, calling himself Clayton Mansfield, and proclaiming to be a fellow man of breeding, like Dr. Hedgewig. He impressed upon Doctor Hedgewig for a charitable drink, saying that he’d pay him back on Tuesday. Doctor Hedgewig, feeling sorry for the man, bought him not only a drink, but a bath, presumably to ward off the man’s smell.

Asking Dog-Eye about the man, the loquacious barkeep only knew that Mansfield had arrived in town recently and had paid for his room five days in advance. Since then, Mansfield had been drinking himself into oblivion, but was relatively harmless.


Walks With Moonlight patrolled the streets on her own as well, and came upon a curious scene. A soiled dove and a well-dressed gentleman were talking in hushed tones in an alleyway. Employing her stealth, Walks listened in on the conversation. The gentleman was not asking the dove for her services, at least not for himself, but rather was asking the woman, named Sally, to get close to Jake Simpkins! Apparently, the gentleman who was named Paul, wanted a close eye kept on Jake Simpkins and his band of Confederate partisans. Sally was demanding more money for such a dangerous assignment.

Relenting, the gentleman agreed to pay Sally’s higher wage and sent her on her way. Walks took stock of this meeting, and proceeded to follow Paul to his hotel room at the Grand. The clerk at the desk told Walks that Paul’s last name was Goodwin, and he apparently was quite a hand with the ladies, but made a curious observation about Paul’s habit of jotting notes in a notebook at all hours…


As the day wore on and wound down, the Posse convened at the Dog-Eye Saloon to compare notes and have dinner on the house. Discussions over steaks and suds yielded little information on any strangeness, but this was quickly broken by a loud scream from upstairs!

Leaping into action (aside from Ruckus, who quickly availed himself of everyone’s drinks), the Posse moved upstairs to a gruesome sight. In the corner was huddled Sally, covered in a bed sheet and screaming for her life. On the bed lay the body of Paul Goodwin, but he was only recognizable from his austere suit hanging in the closet and the hysterical screaming of Sally, for Paul’s head and arms had been severed! The grisly sight caused Doctor Hedgewig to faint away, collapsing in the hallway.

Walks With Moonlight quickly attended to the dove, who regaled the party with a story of a tall man who broke into the room and knocked Sally out before going to work on Paul. When she came to, she saw the gruesome body of Paul and his assailant fleeing out the window carrying a gunny sack soaked in blood!

Surprisingly, Doc Pinket quickly swept into the room and began examining the body of Paul Goodwin. With only a few quick inspections, Doc Pinket proclaimed that Paul had been killed by a very strong individual using a sharp instrument with a shallow blade, not unlike a surgeon’s scalpel. Also, the killer knew much about human anatomy, noting that the second and third vertebrae had been cleanly severed from one another, with no marks on the bone!

Clearly, there was more to Doc Pinket than met the eye. He had a near encyclopedic knowledge about human physiology. When questioned, Doc Pinket explained that he had once been an Army Surgeon and had served in Gettysburg. What Doc Pinket DIDN’T share was that he had seen wounds like this before… After this revelation, Doc Pinket moved to assist Doctor Hedgewig, reviving him…but also discovering for himself that the scientist had no pulse! Doc Pinket filed this information away for later, making no fuss about the Doctor’s undead state.

Meanwhile, Rev. Dallas searched the suit that belonged to the now-headless Paul Goodwin and discovered a curious note sewn into the lining of Goodwin’s waistcoat. The note revealed Paul to be a Union spy, and asked any Union citizen to give him all assistance if asked. It was even signed by President Grant himself! Clearly, Paul was a Union spy. Could politics and espionage have been the motive for this killing?

Instructing Ruckus and the now-conscious Doctor Hedgewig to remain the room and seal it off, Reverend Dallas enlisted Walks With Moonlight and Doc Pinket to search for this killer. During their stay in the room, Ruckus and Hedgewig discovered a scrap of white cloth affixed to the window where the killer had made his escape. The cloth was silk, and very expensive….


Rushing outside, the trio encountered a throng of citizens surrounding a familiar sight to Doc Pinket. Ralphie Simpkins had caught up with Walter Jackson and was again beating him into the dirt. With a sickening crunch, Ralphie stomped down on the arm of Walter Jackson, snapping it in two! The Posse quickly intervened, with Rev. Dallas covering Ralphie with his rifle and Doc Pinket attending to the fallen Walter. Walks With Moonlight took the opportunity to skulk behind Ralphie while Dallas had his attention, and quickly swept him down to the ground, removing his weapons. Ralphie spat and cursed the Posse, but before he could be arrested, a shot rang out.

The Posse turned to face Jake Simpkins and his Confederate band of Wilderness Riders atop horseback, rifles and pistols drawn. Jake commanded the Reverend, Pinket, and Walks to turn his brother loose. The Reverend refused, and it seemed that it was a Mexican standoff in the making.

Hearing the scuffle outside, Ruckus and Doctor Hedgewig moved outside to assist.

During the confusion, Clayton Mansfield shuffled into the crowd, and with one quick move, set Walter Jackson’s arm, mumbling something about a cast before stumbling back into the crowd. Jake Simpkins claimed that Walter Jackson had called out Ralphie, and it was a clear-cut case of self-defense…and dared anyone to say different. Ida Mae Hobart entered the scene, calling Jake and Ralphie liars, and in retaliation, Ralphie shoved down the old woman into Mansfield, sending both tumbling into a horse trough.

Finally, Ruckus Nighthawk settled the matter by brandishing a lit dynamite stick in the center of the crowd, demanding that everyone disperse! The Confederate Riders were sufficiently cowed, and backed off, leaving Ralphie to be arrested by the Posse and Wyatt Earp, who arrived at the last moment to see Ruckus take the situation in hand and…

(sunglasses on)

…“defuse” it rather…“explosively”.

(YEAAAAAAAAH!!!!)


(Part Three Coming Soon)

View
Epitaph EXTRA! (2-6-11)
With Independence Day approaching, Marshal Earp has one more duty for the Posse, and perhaps a new ally...

Dodge City, Kansas: July 2nd, 1876.

The undead scientist known as Dr. Francis Hedgewig was running. He did not know what he was running from, but run he did. He knew what pursued him thru the streets of Dodge was unnatural, ancient, and hungry for his blood. The doctor fled in a panicked state past window shops where twisted ghouls wearing human clothes laughed at the fleeing revenant. Doctor Hedgewig looked all about for any sign of aid or at least a human face, but there was none to be had.

Hedgewig tripped in the soft mud of Dodge’s streets and landed face first into the muck. Fearfully, he turned to face his pursuer, and was frightened by what he saw: not one, but SEVERAL forms sweeping down upon him, all claws, teeth, and hideous glowing eyes!


With a start, Doctor Hedgewig bolted upright in his hotel bed. The monsters were gone; he was alone in his bedroom. The doctor had not been sleeping well lately, not since he was pulled free from the rubble in the ghouls’ lair. Not since he met the strange collection of individuals who had disrupted his experiments, drawn weapons on him, and tried to convince him that he was some sort of abomination! He remember well their names: the Reverend Sebastian Dallas, who first claimed communion with Almighty God and then claimed that Hedgewig was not even human! The burly Ruckus Nighthawk and his skulky brother Leo: one delighted in destruction on an epic scale, and the other seemed to commune with unholy beasts in exchange for power. The savage Walks With Moonlight of the Northern Cheyenne who possessed knowledge of things beyond counting despite her young age. All of them had shanghaied the doctor into destroying his beloved Nocturnis cannabilis Hedgwidicus… Madness! But, the doctor remembered how the “ghouls” had seemed up close and personal; twisted, macabre abominations….had the Posse been right to destroy the ghouls? Had he become some monstrous abomination himself?

Nonsense! After all, he was a genius!

Suddenly, a rapping at the doctor’s door came. A young voice asked the doctor to allow him passage, as he had a letter from Marshal Earp requesting his presence at once. Sighing, and realizing that his brand of genius did require service to mankind once in awhile, the doctor donned his bulletproof vest, loaded his pitol and made his way to the Marshal’s office.


Amidst the scrub bushes outside Dodge, the Reverend was answering another call: the call of nature. His indisposed state, however, did not dull his senses, and he heard the horses approaching long before they arrived. Sensing no danger, the Reverend continued his business against an oak tree. The riders soon approached, and they regarded the Reverend with a mixture of embarrassment and caution. Finally, the riders spoke, requesting the Reverend to return to Dodge at once, for Marshal Earp was calling on him once more.

Intrigued and annoyed at the same time, the Reverend gathered his belongings and accepted the escort back into Dodge.


Ruckus Nighthawk awoke to the sounds of knocking at his hotel door. Sullenly, the massive mercenary shoved off the two or three whores laying on his bed and began to cut a path thru the multitude of empty liquor bottles scattered on the floor. Ruckus received the message, Earp was calling for him once again.

Grumbling his acknowledgment of the message, Ruckus donned his weapons and went looking for his erstwhile brother, Leo. To his astonishment, he found a note pinned to Leo’s door.

“Ruckus,

Didn’t trust Earp to keep his end of the deal with the pardon and all. Decided to head to Texas to check that things are indeed smoothed over. Be back in Dodge before the Fourth. Try to stay out of trouble.

-Leo."

Ruckus chuckled at his brother’s note, and decided that keeping out of trouble didn’t sound like any fun at all. With that, he proceeded towards Earp’s office.


Walks With Moonlight hadn’t slept. The reason was not nightmares, or sleeping under the stars. No, it was due to the fact that she had been assigned a room directly across from Ruckus’. The drunken debauchery that emanated from behind Ruckus’ door on a nightly basis had disturbed the young shaman greatly, and she knew there was no ritual to scrub the mental images from her mind.

That is why when the invite from Marshal Earp came, she was all too glad to answer it. ANYTHING to think of besides….THAT.


Slowly, the Posse was assembled outside the Marshal’s office. Short greetings were exchanged; this Posse was not one to mince words. Walks With Moonlight shot a disturbed glance at Ruckus, and Doctor Hedgewig commented on Ruckus’ lack of manure-based fashion…but other than that, it was a cold reunion.

The posse proceeded inside the Marshal’s office, and was met with an interesting scene.

The beleaguered Marshal Earp was in conference with two men: One was the Mayor of Dodge City, George Hoover, who was discussing with Wyatt that despite the devastation stemming from last week’s “earthquake” (See Sunday Recap, 1-23-11), the Independence Day celebration was going forward, no ifs, ands or buts! Wyatt pleaded with the Mayor to postpone, but the Mayor was having none of it. Besides, the Mayor claimed, Earp had plenty of troubleshooters on hand to help keep the peace. With that, the Mayor swept out of Earp’s office, leaving the legendary lawman to meet the Posse.

The other man in Earp’s office cut an interestingly disheveled figure. Old age lines cut into the man’s face like a road map of the Great Maze, and he displayed a toothy, almost inebriated grin. He wore a brown longcoat with a suspicious bulge beneath its folds. He smelled of strange odors, like chemicals. And most distinguishable of all, the man’s left arm had been severed at the shoulder.

Gesturing to the new arrival, Earp introduced him as Dr. Sidney Pinket and cryptically described the man as “…reliable.”

Dr. Pinket cackled at this assemblage of “heroes” and stuck out his remaining paw in a broad, if clumsy, way of greeting. Few returned it, except Dr. Hedgewig who was happy to meet another “man of science.” When Dr. Hedgewig inquired as to what field Dr. Pinket hailed from, Dr. Pinket produced a bottle of acrid-smelling liquid with a prominent label:

“Doc Sidney Pinket’s Amazing Restorative Cure-All! Afflicted by gout, syphilis, poor eyesight, erectile dysfunction or halitosis? Dr. Sidney Pinket’s Amazing Restorative Cure-All is your gift from Almighty God! With one quaff of this amazing draught, all your ills are GUARANTEED CURED, or your money back!* Disclaimer: Money Back Guarantee not valid in the United States of America, Confederate States of America or in any territory in the continent of North America, South America, or points in between.

Doctor Hedgewig was taken aback at this man Earp had called “reliable.” He was no doctor, but a flim-flam snake oil salesman! However, the Marshal seemed confident that Doc Pinket had a right to be here amongst this more-than-capable posse. Ruckus and Dr. Hedgewig immediately called Earp’s judgment into question, but Doc Pinket immediately silenced any further qualms with a flourish of the weapon beneath his coat at a speed that would have put Billy the Kid to shame:

A flash of steel proceeded this strange and deadly-looking weapon: Twelve barrels were arranged in a circle around the central body, and a strange clockwork mechanism adorned the firing assembly. It was one of the rumored Gatling Pistols, a product of mad science that had a fearsome reputation as a “problem solver” of unparalleled quality. And Doc Pinket suddenly and quickly had it leveled at the head of Dr. Hedgewig faster than anyone could blink.

Earp: “Any further questions?”

Dr. Hedgewig: “No sir.”

Ruckus: “I LIKE this guy!”

With all further dissension silenced, Earp set about explaining the need for the Posse’s presence in Dodge once more.

Dodge, as before mentioned, was a city in flux. Union and Confederate sympathizers both wanted Kansas to join their respective countries and they were not picky about who got hurt in the pursuit of that goal. This situation was only further tensed by the Fourth of July celebration, which was a decidedly Union holiday! In short, Earp asked the Posse to help keep the peace to keep any tensions from boiling over, with a twenty dollar a day payroll to sweeten the deal.

Reverend Dallas was the first to voice concerns. He felt this work was not what he did in this world. He was a hunter of all things evil and unnatural, not a babysitter for a pack of politically-charged drunks. Earp countered that tensions such as the Union-Confederate diaspora could possibly flush out more of the Reverend’s brand of villain. The Reverend reluctantly conceded the point and agreed to the Marshal’s terms. Ruckus demanded more money, but Earp quickly silenced that idea by stating he was only asking the Posse to watch one neighborhood, and they were already getting double the standard pay for a special deputy. Ruckus grumbled, but accepted Earp’s offer. Dr. Hedgewig demanded discounted premises in Dodge, but after what had happened with the ghouls, Earp flatly refused, citing that Hedgewig’s experiments were dangerous, and if he didn’t like it, tough.

Eventually, the Posse divided their assigned territory into manageable chunks and set about the business of keeping law in the Disputed Territories.

(Part Two Coming Soon)

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Epitaph EXTRA! (1-23-11, Part 2)
The Posse has defeated the ghouls, but did they survive the blast?!

A silence fell upon Dodge after the blast.

Nothing stirred for many moments, and it seemed the actions of the posse had cost them their lives!

In a broken shop window, in a tangle of ladies undergarments, moved the dazed form of Leo Nighthawk. He had survived the blast, and had been thrown into a storefront window, but was otherwise unharmed. Leo stepped out of the window to survey the carnage, and there was MUCH to be surveyed!

A crater filled with rock and stone dominated the center of town, seemingly having buried the ghouls under several tons of rock and stone. Leo whistled in amazement at the devastation, but immediately realized that Ruckus, his beloved brother, was no where to be found! Searching about quickly turned up the rowdy behemoth, who had landed unceremoniously in a manure cart.

Ruckus: “I hate manure….”

Leo: “Yea. Saved your life though! Where’s the Doc?”

Leo was quickly answered by the crash of the Doctor rolling off of the roof he had been thrown onto and landing in a crash on the street below. The doctor quickly recovered, owing to his undead nature, and surveyed the damage for himself.

Dr. Hedgewig: “Great Scott!”

Ruckus: “My thoughts exactly, Doc. Nice job. (slaps a big handful of manure on the undead scientist’s back) Let’s go find the ‘Rev’.”


Dr. Hedgewig, Leo, and a particularly smelly Ruckus located Reverend Dallas and Walks With Moonlight outside the graveyard, thrown by the blast. The Reverend and the shaman were filled in about the devastation, and the Reverend summed it up nicely.

Rev. Dallas: “The evil is no more. Praise the Lord!”

The Reverend recovered a souvenir from the graveyard….the ghoul king’s claw. He resolved to use this to tell the people of Dodge the truth. As the posse walked into the dawn of the rising sun, confident with victory, Walks With Moonlight had only one question left unanswered:

WWM: “What are you covered in, paleface? It smells!”

Ruckus: “Manure. Long story. Let’s go get paid.”


And paid they were. Marshal Earp paid a one-thousand dollar cash bounty to the Posse, which would have been more if not for the property damage! Still, the citizens of Dodge were quickly filled in about the danger beneath their feet via the press, and were shown the ghoul king’s claw as proof. The Reverend addressed the townsfolk, saying that evil lurked in this Weird West, but it could be fought, AND defeated! The Reverend’s inspiring words seemed to make the darkness of the horrific events of yesterday peel back, and the grateful citizens of Dodge cheered the posse as they all tipped hats to one another, and went their separate ways…their job complete.


As the posse said, or didn’t say, goodbyes, they were being watched. A trio of lovely beauties studied the posse as they split. The trio of women each carried a leather whip and had looks of quiet satisfaction about their faces.

Blonde: “What do you think?”

Redhead: “Little unprofessional, but effective!”

Brunette: “No, they’re perfect. Let’s report to the boss, ladies.”

The three women smiled and laughed as they sauntered away to report back to this mysterious “boss”.


WHAT WILL THE FUTURE HOLD? IS THIS THE END OF OUR INTREPID HEROES? IS EVIL TRULY DEFEATED?

TUNE IN NEXT TIME FOR MORE:

DEADLANDS: ‘BLOOD ON THE PRAIRIE’!

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Epitaph EXTRA! (1-23-11)
The heroes set off to discover the source of the "Body Snatchers", and makes a new ally with a terrifying "gift"....

After leaving the company of Marshal Earp in search of the nefarious “Body Snatchers”, the Reverend recalled an article in the Tombstone Epitaph that caught his attention: the local undertaker had recently gone missing a few weeks before the body thefts from the cemetery began. Since then, the city had been losing bodies at even faster rate.

Smelling a lead, the Reverend Sebastian Dallas, Leo Nighthawk, his brother Ruckus, and Walks With Moonlight set off to discover what exactly happened to the undertaker.


Upon reaching the undertaker’s storefront, the posse wasted little time in breaking and entering using Ruckus’ considerable strength to splinter the front door asunder. As soon as the door gave way, however, a coffin tipped over in front of the door, jarred by the sudden B&E. It split open, dropping a foul and forgotten corpse at the feet of Ruckus! Startled, the big man jumped back, but quickly recovered himself.

The party entered the storefront and replaced the grisly “door greeter” into his box. However, Walks With Moonlight noticed something amiss: The body was missing a few pieces of flesh, and not just missing; they’d been EATEN off! Now, the posse had a solid lead, and they began to pull apart the undertaker’s office to locate further clues to the ghouls’ activities.

Leo, ever watchful, recovered something interesting: A diary of the undertaker detailing a perverse deal: He was SUPPLYING the ghouls with corpses in exchange for various valuable trinkets that the ghouls had recovered from other hapless souls. But his conscience (or cowardice) had finally caught up to him, and he wanted out of the deal, and refused to supply the ghouls with anymore dead bodies. The diary abruptly ended with a splash of blood…apparently the deal hadn’t been broken in the undertaker’s favor!

Walks With Moonlight continued to search the office, and discovered something more behind a few stacked up coffins. A wooden door was cut into the floor, leading down into the earth. An ungodly stench emanated from the hole, and the posse reached the conclusion that this could only be another entrance into the ghouls’ lair. After a quick trip from the Reverend to inform Marshal Earp of the party’s progress (along with a suggestion that the Marshal clear the town of bystanders), there would be a strange turn of thought from the mercenary, Ruckus Nighthawk.

Ruckus had an idea. He posited to the party that there was a good chance of a fight developing, and Ruckus wanted it be strictly one-sided: HIS side. The burly mercenary headed back to his hotel room and took his brother Leo along for the ride. They returned with an armload of glass bottles filled with a clear liquid. The Reverend and Walks immediately recognized it as nitroglycerin!

Ruckus proceeded to wire up the undertaker’s office to blow if the ghouls got the upper hand. The work was delicate and exacting, but Ruckus proved to me a more than capable demolitions expert, and soon the office was set to explode at the push of a plunger.


The passageway down was narrow, almost too narrow for Ruckus, whose large frame barely squeezed into the small burrow under the earth. With a lot of grumbling and stumbling, the posse managed to get the massive gunslinger into the hole and proceeded forth into the earth. The path was slow going, and tight on the arms, but it did eventually come out into a wider space. There was no telling how far down they had gone into the the earth, it had seemed to go on forever. And there were more of those ghoul tracks…..

…and a strange device?

On the ground in one of the passageways was a curious contraption: a small phonograph bell attached to a metronome, a ghost rock boiler, and a strange box that was all wires and copper…and the metronome increased as the posse got closer to it. Erring on the side of caution, the posse avoided the strange device and it ignored them in turn.

At a fork in the passage, the Reverend called upon the power of God to aid him in the way to go, and reaching an accord with Walks With Moonlight’s powers of observation, the party turned left. There was a smell here in this passage, a curious one. After a few moments, the posse ended up in a strange chamber of the cavern: Beakers and Bunsen burners bubbled and popped on a ghost rock powered hot plate on one side, chaotic schematics and insane babbles scribbled at a desk in the corner, and all manner of metal tools and bits. A scientist’s lab!

But even more interesting was the pile of rubble from an apparent cave-in in the corner, where a human hand was weakly waving for help!

Scrambling to the aid of the fallen person (except for Leo, who was busy ransacking the notes for clues), the posse pulled him loose: Dressed in a dirty, tattered lab coat and tweed suit and covered head to toe in bruises and cave dust, the man before the posse introduced himself as Dr. Francis Hedgewig, and explained his appearance in this hole as a strictly zoological expedition. Dr. Hedgewig had christened the creatures under the earth not as “Body Snatchers” as the press had, or as “ghouls” as the Reverend, the shaman, and Leo Nighthawk had, but as his own “new species”, Nocturnis cannibalis Hedgewidicus! The doctor didn’t see these ghouls as monsters at all, but an interesting new species to be studied and catalogued!

“You see,” he pontificated, “these creatures are a bona fide new discovery that will allow mankind to…..why are you pointing that rifle at me, good Reverend?”

Indeed, the Reverend was now aiming a firearm at the doctor. The Reverend’s eyes focused a holy glow on the doctor as he explained.

“How did you survive that rockslide, doctor? Because I don’t think you did at all. I can see it thru my congress with the Lord above…and He speaks to me about you. I think you died in that collapse, and now I need to know who’s runnin’ the show in that head of yours!” The Reverend waited for a response from Dr. Hedgewig, who only stared aghast as Ruckus also levelled his shotgun at the doctor’s head.

Ruckus asked: “What the hell you gettin’ at, Reverend? He looks plenty alive to me, but I don’t mind pointin’ this here scattergun at him if you say he’s dangerous-like!”

The Reverend replied, “He IS dangerous, Ruckus. He’s a Harrowed.”

Ruckus, puzzled, asked: “A whozawhut now?”

Walks With Moonlight answered, “He is a form of undead. Powerful, but also treacherous. There are two voices in his head, two spirits. One, the doctor’s spirit, the other…a manitou. A demon, you white people would call them. And now, the doctor will live forever as two souls, constantly fighting one another for control.”

The Reverend finished, “And if the demon wins control, then all Hell breaks loose. And right now, we need to know who is in charge here!”

The doctor, finally speaking, contested, “Now, see here! I have no notion of this fanciful story you’ve concocted, but I assure you that I am alive, well, and in complete control of my faculties! I’m no undead monster! Such a fantastical creature is a ludicrous concept! Are you all brain simple or something?”

Finally, Walks With Moonlight punctuated the discussion by pointing down at the doctor’s leg. There, protruded a dagger that Ruckus had thrown during the doctor’s rebuttal. No blood flowed from the wound, only a thick black fluid. And the doctor had not felt the knife go in. The scream was bloodcurdling, if also a little amusing.

Still disbelieving, the doctor suddenly panicked and withdrew the knife from his leg, still feeling no pain. “Uhm…..must be shock! That’s all….yes, shock!”

Finally deciding that Dr. Francis Hedgewig was in control of his own mind, they enlisted the doctor in the task of eradicating the ghouls, a plan to which Ruckus and Leo had an “explosive” idea.


After adding Dr. Francis Hedgewig, undead mad scientist, to the posse, the task now turned to eliminating the ghouls beneath Dodge City. Dr. Hedgewig would be instrumental in this regard, as he knew the ghouls movements, and was astonished to learn that the ghouls avoided him in his now undead state, as if afraid of him! So, the posse concocted a plan.

The Reverend, Leo, Ruckus and Walks With Moonlight would exit the way they came in and detonate the undertaker’s office, blocking the ghouls’ exit, and bottle-necking them into the graveyard. Below, Dr. Francis Hedgewig would make use of his new undead state to wire more of Ruckus’ nitroglycerine to the walls of the ghouls’ lair, and bring the detonator out the graveyard exit and collapse the entire cavern onto the ghouls’ heads!

Before this went into action, Dr. Hedgewig immediately produced something to assist in the dangerous task. He called it the Hedgewig Industries Amazing Earth Evaporator!: A wicked, arm-mounted, ghost rock powered, oversized drill that would move earth out of the way and if there were some stubborn bedrock, a shaped dynamite charge thrower would complete the job in labor-saving time…there was only one problem:

It was so bulky that only Ruckus could pick it up!

So, with the posse having blown the undertaker’s office and Ruckus in possession of a new death-dealing accessory, the doctor went on his macabre task.


Into the earth, the scientist went. Down into the bowels of the earth, he descended with an armload of Ruckus’ explosives. The doctor wondered just how he had gotten into this mess, when the cavern opened up to reveal the lair of the ghouls: a massive chamber strewn with corpses, bones and piles of filth and stink! All about the foul creatures feasted on bones, or slept in piles of grotesque refuse. Quickly, the undead scientist went to work.

The last of the bottles was being wired when suddenly, a single ghoul came up to Dr. Hedgewig! Its foul breath rolled out over the doctor’s face and spittle and blood drooled from the creatures lips onto the doctor’s penny-loafers. The creature studied Dr. Hedgewig, as if deciding if he’d be a good snack or not. Finally, the ghoul snorted derisively and bounded off, much to the doctor’s relief….or had he?

The doctor watched in horror as the ghoul seemed to be alerting MORE of the twisted, vile creatures of the food that had just wandered in!

The doctor wasted no time in fleeing the area towards the graveyard exit, the ghouls in hot pursuit! Scrambling over the walls and floors of the cavern, the ghouls ran in packs after the terrified doctor who could barely keep hold of the detonator as he fled! Finally, there was light from the outside, torchlight!


The posse had gathered outside the gnarled oak tree to await the doctor’s success…or failure. Finally, amidst screams of panic, the doctor leapt thru the brambles of the oak tree’s root system, and landed in a heap at the feet of the party. Quickly, Dr. Hedgewig slammed the plunger!

….And nothing happened!

The bombs failed to go off, and the stunned posse prepared to fight the ghouls one on one!

The tree and the surrounding ground erupted with the serrated claws of the ghoul horde as the came tunneling out of the earth at the motley posse! And at last, Leo Nighthawk revealed his power to the party…

Going between the seconds of time, Leo projected himself into the spirit world and summoned up a manitou to grant him power. Defeating the vile creature in a test of wills, the power was granted and it manifested in this world as a collection of poker cards charged with arcane energy! Leo studied his hand, and projected the arcane power that shook the very ground! Leo was a huckster, that most enigmatic of spellcaster who drew power from contests of will with demons represented as a game of draw poker!

The earth shook at the command of Leo’s power, and crushed several of the ghouls in a meat grinder of stone and rock, but more were coming!

Walks With Moonlight called upon the ancient spirits of the Cheyenne people to aid her in her battle, and her daggers flew into ghoul flesh with unerring accuracy!

The Reverend followed suit, calling upon the wrath of the Lord to smite these creatures and hammered the point home with a few thunderous shots from his Winchester rifle that ripped meat from bone!

Ruckus was next, using the Evaporator to great effect, scattering ghouls with directed blasts from it’s charge launcher, and when that got boring to Ruckus, he followed it up with plain old hurled sticks of TNT!

Suddenly, the doctor had an idea! He quickly raced up to Ruckus and Leo, instructing them to join him in the center of town, and to bring the Evaporator!

The three barreled off, leaving The Reverend and Walks With Moonlight to face a renewed horde….and an even bigger ghoul that seemed to be leading them! It was a corpulent, foul-smelling beast who dwarfed his ghoul soldiers by at least a factor of two! It snarled at the two remaining heroes, and lumbered forth.


In the center of town, there wasn’t a soul to be seen. The Marshal had heeded the Reverend’s words and cleared the town!

Dr. Hedgewig informed the Nighthawk brothers that directly beneath their feet was the center of the ghouls’ lair, as well as the unexploded nitro! Understanding the plan at once, Leo summoned another Earthwrack spell and opened the earth to see down into the pit. The doctor’s calculations were correct, and Ruckus hurled another stick of dynamite into the hole!


Meanwhile, the ghoul king lumbered at the two remaining heroes! Thinking quickly, the Reverend laid a blessing on one of the knives carried by Walks With Moonlight, and the blade glowed with heavenly light. Walks nodded to the Reverend and drew back her arm, and let the blade fly!


The knife twirled in the air…


The stick of dynamite tumbled into the hole….


The knife found its target, right between the ghoul King’s eyes!


The dynamite exploded!


The shockwave was intense, and it shattered every glass window in Dodge City1 In the hills above, the Marshal and the citizenry of Dodge City watched as the center of town threw up a massive explosion! In the graveyard, the slain ghoul king stumbled backward from the force of the divinely inspired dagger and fell backward into a raging inferno beneath the streets of Dodge!

The ghouls below the city burned and screamed in agony, dissolving into piles of sludge and ooze! And they were no more.

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