Monday, April 2, 2018
(After playing the Call of Cthulhu Down Darker Trails Catastrophe Engine Campaign original scenario â€œSpring in San Franciscoâ€ and the Deadlands Dime Novel Scenario â€œWorms!â€ by John Goff Sunday from 1:30 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. with Ambralyn Tucker, John Leppard, Yorie Latimer, and Austin Davie.)
Gemma Jones had stayed on the Sequoyah Star after the bandit attack, and arrived in San Francisco on May 22, 1875, in the evening, taking a hackney carriage to her motherâ€™s house in San Francisco. Her mother owned an upscale saloon and hotel in the city but lived in a house in one of the nicer parts of town.
Her mother was happy to see her and hugged her and fixed her a home-cooked meal and coffee. They ate and chatted before her mother got serious.
â€œLily has gone,â€ she said. â€œShe wanted to go off and make her way in the world.â€
â€œOh,â€ Gemma said.
â€œI got this letter a couple weeks ago,â€ her mother said. â€œIt sounds like sheâ€™s doing fine â€¦â€
â€œWhew,â€ Gemma said.
She realized that was exactly what she did, but it was still quite a blow.
The letter read:
May 2, 1875
Dearest Mother and Jenny,
I have finally found a place to call my own and I did it on my own like I always knew
I could. I have found a place in a town called Devil's Gulch, Colorado. It lies upon the
Kansas Pacific Railroad several miles from the other nearby towns. Better yet, I was able
to acquire revenue to make my dream of my own place come true. I call it the Gilded Lily
Saloon and Hotel and, though there are two other such places in town, it is doing very, very
well, most likely because I treat the girls well and make sure everything is fair.
Iâ€™m sorry I left so abruptly but I was certain if I didnâ€™t take the action, I never would follow
through. I love you both and hate being away from you but this was something I felt I had to
do. Jenny is so successful and I want to be successful in my own right. I am now finding that
I admit, I am having some troubles with the other saloon owners as they are jealous of the
success of the Gilded Lily Saloon and the fact that I, a mere female, am making such a success
I hope you will come visit me someday. I will continue to write whenever I can. I miss you
both very much.
All my Love,
Gemmaâ€™s mother told her it was the only letter sheâ€™d received from Lily and she was a little worried about her.
â€œWhen?â€ Gemma asked. â€œWhen did this happen?â€
â€œShe left not long after you did, early this year,â€ her mother said.
She told Gemma that Lily had taken all the money sheâ€™d saved up, some $200, but she wasnâ€™t sure where she might have gotten the money to buy a saloon.
Gemma spent time with her mother and friends in San Francisco. She sang at her motherâ€™s saloon later that night and was well-received, as always. She saw a familiar face in the crowd: Professor Terwilliger. She saw he was there with a beautiful young blonde woman close to Gemmaâ€™s age. After she sang, they met with Gemma, Professor Terwilliger shaking her hand and fawning over her a little bit. She learned that he lived across the bay on a farm just outside of Oakland. He made small talk while the other gentlemen who vied for Gemmaâ€™s attention.
* * *
Professor Brandon Stalloid continued to hear rumors about a demon loose in Chinatown after their dealing with the kidnapped child on May 28. He realized he couldnâ€™t go after the thing alone and so focused on the lightning gun he had acquired during the terror on the Sequoyah Star. He hired a craftsman to mount a rifle stock on the back of the device. The man was a little confused as to why he wanted to put a stock on a camera and Professor Stalloid claimed it was for long-range photography. He also purchased a tripod for the device when he found a mounting on the bottom for such, and realized Professor Terwilliger had probably actually made the device out of a camera.
In early June, Chun Zhi Ruo came to Professor Stalloid in his laboratory told him there was a distinguished Chinaman there to see him. She said he was waiting in the parlor.
Professor Stalloid was not happy to see Yan Min, the leader of the Rightful Spirit Tong whom they had taken the kidnapped child away from. He sat in one of Professor Stalloidâ€™s comfortable chairs and smoked a cigar.
â€œAh,â€ Mr. Yan said. â€œMr. Stalloid. I see that you are still â€¦ well.â€
â€œWhy, of course!â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œI try to be!â€
â€œIf I may speak to you for just a moment.â€
Stalloid just looked at the man.
â€œWhen you visited me, there was an odd coincidence at my place of business,â€ Mr. Yan went on. â€œTwo men were killed down in the basement and their bodies thrown in the sewers. I found it interesting that you and Mr. Li came and visited me at the same time.â€
â€œThat is interesting,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œIâ€™m very disappointed in both you and Mr. Li for your acts of complicity in two murders.â€
â€œI donâ€™t see what you mean.â€
â€œWell, you were obviously there as a distraction, were you not?â€
â€œI was there to sell you something.â€
â€œBut it has been almost a week.â€
â€œIâ€™ve been working on other projects.â€
â€œAre you still interested in selling me products?â€
â€œOf course, sir.â€
â€œWell, I would hate to send a demon to do the dirty work of my men, who could visit you at night.â€
â€œOne of those things between the stars.â€
â€œYes. However, reparations could be arranged by you and all could be forgiven.â€
Mr. Yan puffed on his cigar.
â€œWhat sort of reparations are we talking about, sir?â€ Professor Stalloid asked.
â€œMy men are very important to me,â€ Mr. Yan said. â€œAnd you, obviously, are of great wealth.â€
He gestured around the room.
â€œSo, I would think that $5,000 should suffice,â€ he finished.
â€œAh,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œWell, you have already declared, I am a man of great wealth â€¦ and import.â€
â€œI would dare say you might not even want to send a demon here if youâ€™d like for your organization to continue to exist, for the police of my area not to get involved.â€
â€œOh. But none can trace it to me, can they?â€
â€œBut they can trace my will.â€
â€œI will leave you to consider it.â€
â€œI will not longer interfere with your Chinatown ways.â€
â€œThat is good to hear. If you decide to make reparations â€¦â€
â€œSo long as you donâ€™t kidnap any children.â€
â€œI cannot guarantee anything.â€
Yan Min left Professor Stalloidâ€™s house.
* * *
After their dealings in Chinatown in late May, Lambert Otto went looking for Pete Sutterâ€™s body in hopes of cashing it in for a bounty. He didnâ€™t find it. He asked Mr. Chang, the Six Companies representative, about the corpse but the man had not heard of any body. However, he learned there were still rumors of a demon loose in Chinatown and if he could do anything about it, the people of Chinatown would be grateful. He said he was interested in doing something about it.
He also looked for bounties around San Francisco for some time but found nothing. He heard rumors that someone called Popie East had been seen in San Francisco about a week before but she had not been seen since.
He shared with Professor Stalloid that the demon was still in the city. Professor Stalloid told him he knew it was as they had never dealt with it.
â€œI feel like it would be a great injustice if we just let that thing massacre its way through Chinatown,â€ Otto said.
â€œI donâ€™t know if I have the firepower to be killing a demon,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œWe could go recruiting,â€ Otto said. â€œIâ€™m sure thereâ€™s some hired guns in town.â€
Stalloid agreed they could, as he put it, â€œround up a posse.â€ They knew a circus was in town and perhaps some of those people could help.
â€œTheyâ€™ll do anything for a little bit of money,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
* * *
Professor Stalloid went to Li Wei, the lawyer in Chinatown, and asked him to write up his will. In the will, he wanted to leave all his possessions to, in succeeded order, Chun Zhi Ruo, Dr. Weisswald, Professor Terwilliger, Jacali, and finally Clayton Pierce. There were also instructions to help his friends if they ever came to San Francisco. Mr. Li thought that a little strange but noted he had seen stranger in the past
â€œItâ€™s strange, but youâ€™ve seen things we deal with,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œIf suddenly, three of us are dead â€¦â€
Mr. Li told Professor Stalloid that Mr. Yan had visited him and subtly threatened him about their dealings with the murders under the Rightful Spirit Tong brothel.
Mr. Li was not happy with Professor Stalloid about the scroll, having skimmed it and found it terribly disturbing and awful. He would translate it but it would take many months. He told the man there was supposedly a spell on the scroll that could raise people from the dead. He wanted to know if Professor Stalloid wanted the whole thing translated or just the spell. When Professor Stalloid asked what the whole scroll was about, Mr. Li told him it talked of Huang-Ti, the Yellow Emperor, and his miraculous inventions and cures. That intrigued Professor Stalloid and he asked the man to translate the whole thing. Mr. Li was not happy about it but he said he would do it.
When Professor Stalloid returned home, he wrote several letters noting if he was strangely murdered, it was probably Yan Min of the Rightful Spirit Tong in Chinatown. He left several of the letters in his house, put one in a safe deposit box, and the like.
He started to visit Mr. Li daily with baked goods and tea.
* * *
On Friday, June 4, 1875, Professor Stalloid and Lambert Otto went to the circus. They saw Gemma Jones there, looking at various animals in cages. There were shows in the big top: jugglers, clowns, a strong man, trapeze artists, midgets and dwarves, clowns, and the like. It was all quite entertaining. The strong man threw axes and knives as well.
Ronald Clay, the strongman, was a large, handsome, muscular man with a handlebar mustache. He had been the strongman at the circus for some years.
â€œStalloid, Iâ€™m impressed with that strongman,â€ Otto said.
â€œI believe he could even wrestle the beast down!â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œMaybe not that far â€¦â€
â€œI believe in him â€¦ more than I believe in myself.â€
â€œI say we ask him after his act if he wants to join us in our little adventure.â€
They went behind the big top where several wagons and tents were pitched. Gemma Jones followed. They eventually found Clay sitting on a barrel by one of the wagons washing dishes in a big tub and smoking a cigarette. A midget who they recognized as one of the clowns was sitting on the step next to him, fixing a shoe.
â€œHello, sir,â€ Otto said.
â€œYes?â€ Clay said.
â€œIâ€™m â€¦ Otto â€¦ Iâ€™m Lambert Otto,â€ Otto said. â€œThis is â€¦ uh â€¦â€
â€œBrandon Stalloid!â€ Professor Stalloid said, striding forward and shaking the strongmanâ€™s hand. â€œChild savior, healer of men and women alike! And we are forming a posse!â€
â€œOh â€¦ okay,â€ Clay said. â€œWhat for?â€
â€œDemon hunting,â€ Otto said.
â€œHave you heard of the demon of Chinatown?â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œIâ€™ve â€¦ heard of that but itâ€™s just silly superstition,â€ Clay said.
â€œWe canâ€™t have no demons running around Chinatown!â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œNo sir!â€ Otto said.
â€œIt could come into San Francisco, you know!â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œChinatown is in San Francisco!â€ the midget said.
â€œThe greater San â€¦ thatâ€™s demeaning â€¦â€ Professor Stalloid said.
The midget gave the man a look.
â€œI donâ€™t believe in no demons,â€ Clay said.
â€œWeâ€™ll pay you well,â€ Otto said. â€œWell, Stalloid will, I assume.â€
â€œI will pay you handsomely,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œHow much?â€ Clay said.
â€œIf we actually find and defeat this demon, I donâ€™t know â€¦â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œUpwards of â€¦â€
â€œOne hundred dollars!â€ the midget said.
â€œI was going to say 50,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œBut, if you just come with usâ”€â€
â€œDonâ€™t let â€˜em sell you short, there, Clay,â€ the midget said.
â€œIf you just come with us and we donâ€™t even find anything, I will still pay you,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œTen dollars for your day.â€
â€œSounds like, uh, decent deal to me,â€ Clay said. â€œBut, if we defeat the demon, if the demon exists, uh, seventy-five.â€
â€œThatâ€™ll be fine,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œOh, hello Gemma,â€ Otto said.
He had not noticed the girl behind him.
â€œOh, quite,â€ Gemma said.
â€œThatâ€™s â€¦ thatâ€™s Gemma Jones!â€ Clay said.
â€œYes,â€ Gemma said. â€œI have just seen your act and I was â€¦ I was very impressed.â€
â€œWell â€¦ thank you!â€ Clay said, gushing. â€œI really appreciate that.â€
â€œOf course,â€ Gemma said. â€œA pleasure to make your acquaintance.â€
â€œTerwilligerâ€™s not here, is he?â€ Professor Stalloid asked. â€œHere, right now, at the circus.â€
â€œI did see him a couple nights ago at my motherâ€™s saloon,â€ Gemma said.
â€œBut heâ€™s not here?â€ Professor Terwilliger said.
He pointed at the ground.
â€œI have not seen him,â€ she said.
â€œOkay,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œI still have his thing.â€
â€œOh!â€ she said. â€œQuite.â€
â€œIâ€™d hoped to use it with the demon.â€
â€œWith better accuracy.â€
â€œYes, Iâ€™ve modified it.â€
â€œItâ€™s hard to explain, sir,â€ Otto said to Clay. â€œI swear itâ€™s true. Just think about the money. Itâ€™ll help you understand.â€
â€œHey, I get 15 percent,â€ the midget said. â€œI helped negotiate the deal! Iâ€™ll see ya later, Clay.â€
â€œSee ya later, Roy,â€ Clay said.
â€œI thought Roy was gonna help us,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œHe seemed like a good fighter.â€
â€œReally, itâ€™s him and his posse that can rough people up,â€ Clay said. â€œSo, youâ€™d have to pay all of them.â€
Introductions were made. Otto asked about weapons and Clay noted he had a bowie knife, pointing a thumb at the wagon he sat next to. He shared the wagon with five of the midgets, who took up a surprising amount of room for such small people. Clay had the smallest bed in the wagon, actually. He retrieved his knife and joined them once again.
â€œWhere are those axes you threw during your act?â€ Professor Stalloid asked.
â€œUh â€¦ Iâ€™m not allowed to go get those until performance time,â€ Clay said. â€œRingmasterâ€™s orders.â€
â€œCan I talk to your ringmaster?â€ Professor Stalloid said.
Clay took him to see the ringmaster of the circus. Stalloid offered the man $5 but the ringmaster wanted a $50 deposit on them as well. Stalloid paid for it. The ringmaster put the $50 in a safe in his wagon and the $5 in his pocket.
â€œAll right,â€ the man said. â€œBring them back. Bring my strongman back too. I donâ€™t want to have to replace him.â€
Clay got four axes and they set forth. There was some discussion about alerting the police but in the end they decided not to bother as the police didnâ€™t really care about Chinatown. Gemma told them she had a show that night at her motherâ€™s saloon and would really appreciate it if they would come.
â€œI â€¦ I canâ€™t go,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œWhy canâ€™t you go?â€ Otto said.
â€œTerwilliger might be there,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œWhy?â€ Gemma said.
â€œHow about you stand outside?â€ Otto said.
â€œNot until we deal with this demon,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œI canâ€™t encounter Terwilliger.â€
They made arrangements to meet Professor Stalloid in a saloon and restaurant on Broadway Street just outside of Chinatown.
* * *
Otto and Clay went to see Gemma perform at her motherâ€™s saloon. Otto and Gemma both saw Professor Terwilliger and the beautiful blonde woman there as well, sitting close to the front and drinking wine. Gemma sounded amazing with a great deal of clapping and coin- and rose-throwing at the stage after every song.
Otto went over to Professor Terwilligerâ€™s table and tapped him on the shoulder.
â€œTerwilliger,â€ he said.
â€œI know you!â€ Professor Terwilliger said with a grin. â€œI know you. Wait! Wait! I never forget a face! Wait! Youâ€™re Stalloidâ€™s guard!â€
â€œYou had all those guns though.â€
â€œI guess a better word would be armed acquaintance.â€
â€œWell, sit down! Sit down! Iâ€™ve forgotten your name. Iâ€™m sorry.â€
â€œIâ€™m not his bodyguard, Terwilliger. I just happen to be with him a lot.â€
â€œOh! Are you his â€¦ friend?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know if I would go that far yet.â€
â€œWell, you should be friends to the people youâ€™re around.â€
â€œWell, heâ€™s certainly very nice to me at least.â€
â€œThatâ€™s good. Sit down! Sit down! Join us! Oh, this is Tilly.â€
Tilly had a smile that lit the room and she shook Ottoâ€™s hand gently. She also seemed cautious of the man, eyeing him warily.
â€œWhat are you doing here?â€ Professor Terwilliger said. â€œYouâ€™re from San Francisco? I live outside of town.â€
â€œIâ€™m from Hills County, Texas, actually,â€ Otto said.
â€œThatâ€™s a long ways away!â€
â€œHowâ€™d you get here?â€
â€œOh, thatâ€™s a terrible way to travel. Iâ€™m working on a balloon.â€
â€œAnd some wings.â€
â€œTillyâ€™s been helping me. Sheâ€™s been testing the wings out. She hasnâ€™t broken anything yet! Thatâ€™s always a good sign.â€
â€œSo, what are you doing here?â€
â€œOh, weâ€™re taking the night off! Sometimes you have to relax. And Gemma Jones is here!â€
â€œI love her, sheâ€™s great. Sheâ€™s an amazing singer.â€
â€œCalm down,â€ Tilly said to the man with a smile. â€œJust calm down.â€
â€œAw, Iâ€™m sorry, Iâ€™m sorry,â€ Professor Terwilliger said.
â€œI must say, sheâ€™s very impressive,â€ Otto said.
â€œShe is! Iâ€™m looking forward to hearing her again tonight.â€
â€œSo, do you want that lightning gun back?â€
â€œWhat lightning gun? Whatâ€™s a lightning gun? Oh! Oh. You meant the static generator.â€
â€œYeah, that â€¦ thing.â€
â€œThatâ€™s right, I lost that on the train. Wait, do you have it?â€
â€œIâ€™ve been working on an improvement of it.â€
â€œWhatâ€™s your improvement?â€
â€œWell, it doesnâ€™t have the range but it doesnâ€™t kill as quickly. I found the static generator, when itâ€™s discharged, it tends to burn things. This more â€¦ well, it hurts things but it also stuns them.â€
â€œCould I look at it?â€
â€œWell, youâ€™d have to come out to the farm. Itâ€™s out there.â€
â€œI have a horse. It probably wouldnâ€™t be hard to get out there.â€
â€œYou probably want to take one of the ferries. Iâ€™m across the bay.â€
â€œYes. Oakland area. Ask around there for me if you want to come visit the farm. Youâ€™re welcome any time.â€
â€œYeah. So, youâ€™re not worried about that static generator thing?â€
â€œWorried about it? You know Iâ€™ve got a friend who might be able to help you with that scar.â€
â€œThereâ€™s this new surgical technique theyâ€™re trying to try to smooth out the skin. He might be able to help you with that.â€
â€œIâ€™ll consider it. I do think it makes me look more intimidating â€¦ but at the same time less appealing.â€
â€œFair enough. Fair enough. Well, if you want to keep it, you can keep it. I understand.â€
â€œSo, Terwilliger have you heard anything about that â€¦ whatâ€™s he call it? That â€¦ thing?â€
â€œThing? Thereâ€™s been a lot of things.â€
â€œIt looks like the moon â€¦ thing.â€
â€œSh! Iâ€™m not supposed to talk about that. The Secret Service men were quite specific about that. Iâ€™ve only heard one rumor. Thereâ€™s a town out in Colorado that has a silver one â€¦ a silver horn. Thatâ€™s what I heard. Wait! I can talk about that! That has nothing to do with anything! Yeah, the Silver Horn. Some town in Colorado. I heard some rumor about that.â€
â€œWell, whatâ€™s the rumor?â€
â€œJust the Silver Horn. And horns are â€¦ curved. Itâ€™s probably nothing, I just â€¦ it just seemed interesting. But Iâ€™m too busy, Iâ€™m too busy to worry about that anymore. Iâ€™ve got too many ideas. Iâ€™ve got the quadrovelocipede. Iâ€™ve got the steam engine Iâ€™ve been working on. Iâ€™ve got the battery. Thereâ€™s this one device, I donâ€™t even know what it does. Iâ€™ve got the wings. Iâ€™m trying to design an engine out of a metal lighter than steel so itâ€™ll be light and the balloon can lift it and then activate the engine, and the propellers will go. Like a steam ship! But in the air!â€
Otto waved Clay over and the strongman walked over.
â€œThis is a mountain of a man!â€ Professor Terwilliger said.
â€œThis is Professor Terwilliger,â€ Otto said.
â€œHe has quite a mouth on him, doesnâ€™t he?â€ Clay said.
â€œYou could say that,â€ Otto said.
â€œI always just assumed it was just normal,â€ Professor Terwilliger said, gingerly touching his mouth. â€œNothing special.â€
Tilly frowned at the rude strongman, looking him up and down disapprovingly.
â€œNice to meet you,â€ Clay said.
â€œNice to meet you, too,â€ the oblivious Professor Terwilliger said. â€œWhatâ€™s your name?â€
â€œRonald,â€ Clay said.
â€œRonald,â€ Otto said.
â€œMr. Ronald, nice to meet you,â€ Professor Terwilliger said. â€œSit down and join us! Weâ€™re going to watch more of the show tonight.â€
â€œTerwilliger, do you happen to know anything about Chinese mythology and demons and stuff?â€ Otto said.
â€œThereâ€™s a couple of colleges in town, they might know,â€ Professor Terwilliger said. â€œI donâ€™t know much about it. Never really focused on the Chinese. They did some wonderful things with gunpowder.â€
â€œIâ€™ve heard about that.â€
â€œOf course as far as physics go, Arabia is the place to go. They knew their physics and math. Yes, thatâ€™s right. Rockets! Iâ€™m planning a bigger one. You know what, I think you could actually put somebody out of the atmosphere with a big enough rocket! The problem is, they keep blowing up on me. Weâ€™ll get back to it someday. Oh! Iâ€™m sorry. Mr. Ronald, this is Tilly. Tilly, Ronald.â€
She shook his hand and gave him a cold, suspicious look.
Otto asked if there was a college he recommended and Professor Terwilliger noted any of those in town would probably serve.
They watched the show. Gemma sang beautifully, as usual. Afterwards, a few of the gentlemen who were trying to court her talked to her. Her friends were also there that night, the four of them having a table to themselves. They also visited her after the show.
â€œCâ€™mon Gem,â€ Joe Turner said. â€œThereâ€™s a new saloon.â€
Joe was not a bad young man though he could be quite flighty and often excitable about new ideas.
â€œThereâ€™s a new one?â€ she said. â€œHmm.â€
â€œWeâ€™re going to try it out,â€ he said. â€œJohnny and Anne and Felicity.â€
Johnny Blakely had been to college and was an introspective youth who often served as the voice of reason within the group. He was short but had piercing eyes that rarely missed anything. Anne Sawyer wore rugged clothing and had been a tomboy all of her life. She worked on a ranch near San Francisco, breaking horses among other things. Felicity Hawkins was of upper-class breeding and wore very fancy and frilly clothing. Though she often joined them for their little adventures, she often seemed to be both excited and appalled at them.
Gemma decided to hang out with her friends instead of going into Chinatown and they left. She was surprised when the saloon Joe had chosen had Professor Stalloid, sitting at a table. The restaurant was very nice with gas lighting and a small floor show. It was a little more expensive than Gemmaâ€™s motherâ€™s saloon and very nice overall.
Stalloid had eaten dinner in the place and found the food quite good, a mix between Chinese food and typical western fare. He had enjoyed a nice glass of wine with the meal. He was surprised when he saw Gemma Jones with four people in tow. Stalloid went over and smiled at her.
â€œOh!â€ he said. â€œYou found more people for the posse!â€
â€œPosse?â€ Joe said. â€œWhat are you talking about?â€
â€œThese are my - these are my closest friends,â€ Gemma said.
Joe made introductions.
â€œSo, are you going to help us hunt a demon?â€ Professor Stalloid said.
Joe gasped in excitement. Felicity gasped in fear.
â€œMust you get him riled up?â€ Gemma asked.
â€œDemon?â€ Joe said. â€œLetâ€™s go!â€
Johnny gave Gemma a look and she explained to him how she met a lot of interesting people while touring.
â€œWeâ€™re going to hunt a demon in Chinatown!â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œHeâ€™s quite the eccentric,â€ Gemma said to Johnny.
Johnny looked Professor Stalloid up and down carefully.
Otto and Clay arrived about then.
â€œYes!â€ Joe said. â€œWeâ€™re in! Wait. Demons. Johnny, what do we do about demons?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ Johnny said.
â€œCâ€™mon Johnny,â€ Joe said. â€œYou went to college.â€
â€œWe donâ€™t study demons in college,â€ Johnny said. â€œJoe.â€
â€œYes, I do apologize,â€ Gemma said. â€œLet me introduce you to myâ”€â€
â€œHoly water!â€ Joe said.
â€œâ”€to my â€¦ ah â€¦â€
â€œI donâ€™t know if itâ€™s that kind of demon,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œâ€¦ my closest friends,â€ Gemma finished.
She introduced Clay and Otto to the four. Johnny studied each of the new men with interest. Otto looked him up and down as well. Johnny noticed the bulges under Clayâ€™s jacket where he had hidden the throwing axes. He also studied the wrapped-up rifle Otto carried.
â€œWell, I didnâ€™t learn about demons in my school either,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
Otto pulled Professor Stalloid to the side.
â€œStalloid, these people have no weapons and they look likeâ”€â€ Otto said.
â€œWell, then, why did Gemma bring them?â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œTheyâ€™re her friends,â€ Clay said.
â€œTheyâ€™re her friends and theyâ”€â€ Otto said.
â€œYes, you all are my friends and I brought you for the posse,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œSheâ€™s bringing her friends for the posse.â€
â€œShe decided to foregoâ”€â€ Otto said.
â€œThis is her hometown,â€ Clay said.
â€œThis is my hometown!â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œThey decided they wanted to go to a saloon, I think,â€ Otto said.
â€œYeah,â€ Clay said.
â€œI thought they said they wanted to go hunt a demon?â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œNo, after the showâ”€â€ Clay said.
â€œThat jolly one really wanted to go hunt a demon, he said,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œAfter the show at the saloon, her friends approached her and asked her to go to a saloon,â€ Clay said.
â€œI feel like weâ€™re going to get these people killed if they go with us,â€ Otto said. â€œOr theyâ€™re going to wander off down some dark alley and get killed by some tongs. I say we just let herâ”€â€
â€œIf weâ€™re not taking Gemma, I might have to go find more members of the posse,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œWe canâ€™t be a posse of three people.â€
â€œWhat I was saying, Stalloidâ”€â€
â€œThatâ€™s more like a trio.â€
â€œHavenâ€™t you heard of the three musketeers?â€ Clay said.
â€œThatâ€™s not a posse!â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œThey were musketeers! Theyâ€™re trained soldiers!â€
â€œIâ€™m a trained soldier!â€ Otto said.
â€œWait wait,â€ Clay said. â€œI just remembered, they also had a fourth person.â€
â€œYeah, thatâ€™s one trained soldier!â€ Professor Stalloid said to Otto.
â€œRegardless, I was going to sayâ”€â€ Otto said.
â€œThey were French,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œâ”€weâ€™ll scout out for it tonight and figure out where it is,â€ Otto said.
Professor Stalloid suggested talking to the Clean and Pure Serenity Tong and seeing if they would lend them some men for their endeavor. Otto questioned whether they should get more involved in the tongs than they already were. Stalloid didnâ€™t think the Clean and Pure Tong wanted the demon there but Otto argued they didnâ€™t necessarily want to work with white men either. Professor Stalloid noted they had returned the child and when Otto asked if they seemed very thankful, Professor Stalloid said yes.
â€œHe didnâ€™t want to kill me anymore,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
He pointed out they had been in the Clean and Pure Serenity Tong safe house for a few hours though Otto noted the leader of the tong didnâ€™t seem to particularly like their presence there. Professor Stalloid said he was still going to go, either there or to the Six Companies. Otto finally agreed.
â€œSo, weâ€™re hunting demons, huh?â€ Joe said. â€œWhat kind of demons? The kind with pitchforks and â€¦â€
â€œI was just pulling your leg, sir,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œOh, câ€™mon!â€ Joe said. â€œI like this guy!â€
â€œWell, Iâ€™ve seen quite a few characters on the road, quite a few â€¦ unexplained phenomena,â€ Gemma said.
â€œLike what?â€ Joe asked.
â€œThe likes of which youâ€™d have to see to believe.â€
â€œLike those thunderbirds?â€
â€œTell him about that spooky ghost sheriff,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œThe drifter,â€ Otto said.
Gemma told her friends the story of the drifter in Yellow Flats and Professor Stalloid signaled Otto and Clay they were going to sneak out. Unfortunately, Joe noticed and called to them, asking where they were going.
â€œOh, weâ€™re going to get weapons,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œYou donâ€™t seem to be armed.â€
â€œOh,â€ Joe said.
He pointed towards Felicity.
â€œShe has a weapon,â€ he said.
â€œWell, what about the other four?â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œBring me a big gun!â€ Joe said.
He wanted a big buffalo rifle. Heâ€™d never shot one and wanted to try it, he said.
Johnny got Gemmaâ€™s attention.
â€œAre your friends trying to ditch us?â€ he whispered to her.
â€œOh, they wouldnâ€™t leave,â€ she said.
â€œTheyâ€™re walking out the door right now,â€ Johnny said.
She quickly got up and went to talk to the others.
â€œWeapons?â€ she said. â€œWhat are you doing?â€
â€œWeâ€™re going to go confront the demon,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œOh!â€ she said.
â€œWe donâ€™t want to bring your friends,â€ Otto said.
â€œCertainly you jest,â€ Gemma said.
â€œI donâ€™t want them to get hurt.â€
â€œAre you going â€¦?â€
â€œWeâ€™re just going scouting.â€
â€œAre you going after those things again?â€
â€œScouting. At least thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m going to do.â€
â€œWeâ€™re not going to go fight it.â€
â€œNo,â€ Professor Stalloid said, realizing she was probably talking about the creatures on the train. â€œMuch worse.â€
Her eyes opened wide.
â€œIt disappears and reappears,â€ Otto said.
â€œMy God!â€ Gemma said.
â€œI actually know this one somehow!â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œYouâ€™ll get yourself killed!â€ Gemma said.
â€œI saw it and I knew it and I donâ€™t like that,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œAnd it knew me, somehow.â€
Johnny had called the waiter over and bought Joe another beer. He was also ordering food. He gave Gemma a nod when she looked at him. She went back over and took the beer from Joe, drank a sip, and put the beer back on the bar. Johnny rolled his eyes and she slipped out.
* * *