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The Last Valley Part 1 - East of Santaquin

Max_Writer

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Sunday, April 8, 2018

 

(After playing the Call of Cthulhu Down Darker Trails Catastrophe Engine Campaign original scenario “The Last Valley†Sunday from 1:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. with James Brown, Ashton LeBlanc, Ben Abbott, John Leppard, and Yorie Latimer.)

 

Jack West, who had been shot by Pete Sutter around May 22, 1875, was in one of the hospitals in San Francisco for about six weeks after the terribly injury. He had been on laudanum and other drugs for the pain during the first few weeks of his stay. In that first week, something happened that he was not sure was a dream or not.

 

He thought he overheard one of the nurses tell someone “I’ve given him a double dose of laudanum just for you.†That night, reality seemed distorted and twisted. He was unsure what was real and what was not. He felt like he couldn’t move, like someone had strapped him down to the bed.

 

When he awoke at one point, or so he thought, he found Popie East standing over her bed, smiling down at him. One of the most beautiful women he had ever seen, “Ugly†Popie East, her nickname ironic, had dark hair and tanned skin, perfect lips and sensuous, come-hither eyes. She had been the one that had terribly maimed Jack’s face some years before when he had defended his homestead against her and her gang. She was also rumored to have been a part of John Valentine’s gang.

 

“Oh, you look beautiful Clint,†she said.

 

She caressed the horribly burned and maimed side of his face. Then she was gone. It seemed like days passed or maybe he slept again or maybe it was all just a dream. Then she was back and he saw her unbutton and drop her shirt to the floor, reaching down to unbutton and remove her jeans. He again lost track of everything around him and was unsure what happened. He thought she might have climbed on top of him naked but that was all he remembered.

 

He woke some days later and was still unsure if what had happened had been real or not. It had seemed so real, but at the same time it was all so strange. It might have just been a hallucination brought on by the laudanum.

 

During his stay, he found out his hospital bill had been paid by Brandon Stalloid. He also found himself in possession of $100 from the railroad for his help in holding off the raiders and another $285 from Lambert Otto for his share of the bounties he had collected for the attack.

 

When he finally left the hospital some weeks later, he found himself needing laudanum on a regular basis.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

After dealing with the tongs in late May, Jacali and Dr. Eva Weisswald decided to leave San Francisco almost immediately. They took the train south again, Jacali paying for a pair of first class tickets for the two of them. It took a day and a half to travel back down to Los Angeles and a couple of more days ride from there on horseback to Midnight in southern California.

 

They arrived at the tiny town in the dry but wooded mountains just after dusk on Thursday, June 3, 1875. Jacali was surprised to see a man dressed as a clown acting as the street sweeper and even more surprised to see the two beautiful women working in the blacksmith shop. She noticed the town hall that had obviously been converted into a Chinese hospital.

 

Dr. Weisswald showed the Indian woman the house Stalloid had purchased from the town the month before. The downstairs was still a mess as Professor Stalloid was having it converted into a library. There were shelves being built in the dining room and work was progressing nicely. The three bedrooms on the second floor were untouched and Dr. Weisswald and Jacali stayed there the first night.

 

They decided to stay in Dr. Chin’s hospital and recuperate from the injuries they had suffered after that. The first morning, when the cannon had fired from the roof of the Colonel’s house over the lake the town rested on, Jacali leapt out of her hospital bed and grabbed her bow, looking around, terrified and alarmed.

 

“We’re getting attacked!†she cried out.

 

“No no no no,†Dr. Chin told her. “That’s just the Colonel.â€

 

She was also later told by Town Marshal Harry Flute the cannon fire was just the Colonel.

 

“He fires a gun,†he said. “He thinks he’s still in the War of 1812 and there’s British ships out on the lake out there.â€

 

Jacali looked at him.

 

“White people are crazy,†she said.

 

Dr. Weisswald learned the town was hard at work trying to convince the county a telegraph and railroad through the town would be a good idea. However, there was another village a few miles to the east, San Jacinto, at the end of the Temescal Mountains, that was also trying to get the train to run through their town.

 

One night of their stay, Jacali had a nightmare that turned into a strange dream.

 

She was in her village when her family was killed, years ago. Everything was happening again. Her mother was running with her to try to get her on a horse. The only thing different was the Apache were not only protecting their home, they were protecting the Crescent. She knew it was there somewhere in her village.

 

As events unfolded and she had just gotten on the horse, she heard a bland and unemotional voice.

 

“Contact has been made,†it said.

 

“Is there danger to the subject?†a second voice, as unemotional as the first, said.

 

“Hypothetically though only with long exposure.â€

 

“Continue.â€

 

The scene faded around her and she found herself in a blank white nothingness. She remembered she was no longer a child and she guessed she was dreaming.

 

“Are you the being known as Jacali?†one of the voices asked.

 

“Uh … yes … I guess,†Jacali said.

 

“It is unsure,†one of the voices said.

 

“Perhaps it is not the one.â€

 

“We may have failed.â€

 

“Try again.â€

 

“Who is asking?†Jacali said.

 

“We seek the tri-mnemonic static harmonizer, what you called ‘The Crescent’ or ‘The Horn,’†the voice said.

 

“The Crescent?â€

 

“It is in danger and must be returned to us.â€

 

“I’ve been trying to return it for … ever … for months now.â€

 

“We know─â€

 

“Nobody tells me what it is!â€

 

“We know that you seek what you call the Crescent and must continue to do so. You are linked to it. You … can help us.â€

 

“Do you have any information you can give me about it? Risking my life for this thing for no reason other than I think it’s bad and horrible and everybody told me that it’s filled with demons … I mean …â€

 

“The device is beyond your understanding, but you must know it is very dangerous and very beneficial.â€

 

“Can I touch it?â€

 

“Those who touch it or are touched by it are changed or destroyed dependent upon their need and the needs of the harmonizer.â€

 

“So, I shouldn’t touch it?â€

 

“It changes those who touch it or it touches.â€

 

“So I shouldn’t touch it?â€

 

“It is unsure how it will affect any individual.â€

 

Jacali thought she started to see some strange shapes near her. They were very blurry and she tried to focus on them but it was difficult for some reason. They were large and moved strangely.

 

“It is unknown how it will affect any individual but changes are dramatic and complete,†the emotionless voice said. It seemed to be coming from one of the blurry shapes.

 

“Others of ours seek the harmonizer,†the other voice, also coming from the shapes, said. “Some of them are allies but others are a danger to you and your race. Anything you write down might be used against you. Keep no records of what you do.â€

 

Jacali didn’t think that latter warning would be any trouble for her as she didn’t know how to read or write.

 

“Who do I know who’s my friend and allies in this?†she said.

 

“We have not that information yet,†one of the voices said.

 

“No,†the other agreed. “We have not that information … yet. You must trust in your heart and in your feelings. Those who are connected to the harmonizer, like yourself, are in great danger. They are sought out, especially the four remaining who initially examined the device. Four others who studied it were destroyed by the device. A fifth remains free and hidden but she is also sought by those who seek it. Another is also free.â€

 

“You got any names for me?†Jacali asked.

 

“We only have the name of a father of Marshal Clayton Pierce,†the voice said. “He is a key.â€

 

“Oh.â€

 

“You must … find the device and then find us again.â€

 

“Will we be able to make contact again?†the second voice said.

 

“That is unknown,†the first voice said.

 

“How do I find you?†Jacali said. “You came to me in a dream.â€

 

“We will find a way to contact you,†the second voice said.

 

“But you told me to contact you,†Jacali said.

 

“Documentation is not sufficient to answer your question,†the second voice said.

 

The strange shapes were becoming clearer as Jacali struggled to focus her eyes upon them. They were huge, it seemed like. They were enormous, iridescent cones about 10 feet high and 10 feet wide at the base and made up of some ridgy, scaly, semi-elastic matter. From their apexes projected four flexible, cylindrical members, each a foot thick, and of a ridgy substance like the cones themselves. These members were sometimes contracted almost to nothing and sometimes extended to any distance up to about 10 feet. Terminating two of them were enormous claws or nippers. At the end of a third were four red trumpet-like appendages. The fourth terminated in an irregular yellowish globe some two feet in diameter and having three great dark eyes ranged along its central circumference. Surmounting the “head†were four slender gray stalks bearing flowerlike appendages whilst from their nether sides dangled eight greenish antennae or tentacles. The great base of the central cone was ringed with a rubbery gray substance which seems to move the whole entity through expansion and contraction.

 

“What the hell are those!?!†she cried out.

 

The yellowish globe on each of the things moved towards the other.

 

“Can she observe us?†came the emotionless voice from the trumpet-like appendage on one of them.

 

“Of course,†the other voice came from the other strange creature.

 

“That is unfortunate,†the first said.

 

“Hey, what’s going on?†Jacali said. “I’ve never seen anything like that.â€

 

“We are collectors of information and observers,†the second thing said. “We rarely interfere with things that happen, merely observe. The harmonizer was designed to do the same, allowing us to observe. It was also to supplement other sources of information. Now … it has …â€

 

The strange eyes turned to look at the other creature.

 

“… malfunctioned,†it finished. “It may have … evolved over time.â€

 

“We will be in touch with you,†the other thing said. “Do your best in the meantime.â€

 

“Are you slugs?†Jacali said. “I have seen slugs before.â€

 

“We are not slugs,†one of the things said. “We exist elsewhere.â€

 

“Search in Devil’s Gulch, Colorado,†the other said.

 

“We must terminate connection,†the first said.

 

“This is a weird dream,†Jacali said.

 

She awoke in her bed in the hospital.

 

When she had breakfast with Dr. Weisswald, she confronted her.

 

“What kind of medication do you have me on?†she said.

 

Dr. Weisswald frowned. Neither she nor Jacali was on any medication at present. They were both nearly healed.

 

“Oh … uh … none?†she said.

 

“So … I may have a lead on the Crescent,†Jacali said. “But, it came from some slugs in a dream that talked to me.â€

 

The doctor just looked at her.

 

“Have you ever heard of a place called Devil’s Gulch?†Jacali said.

 

“No,†Dr. Weisswald said. “I have not.â€

 

“I don’t know what really went on and that was the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to me in a dream, even with recent events. But that’s where they told me to go. So … I don’t have any other leads other than dream slugs.â€

 

“It’s good enough for me.â€

 

They did a little research and found there were a few books at the library, including The Cram Atlas Company New Commercial Atlas of the United States and Territories published in 1875. There, they found maps they could follow and figured a path from Midnight north through Nevada to Utah and then Colorado. They decided to take their horses and ride cross country instead of taking the trains.

 

Dr. Weisswald looked for The Mysteries of the Worm but couldn’t find it. She guessed they had misplaced it during the construction downstairs but figured it would show up sooner or later.

 

They left Midnight on June 18, 1875.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Professor Brandon Stalloid, Gemma Jones, Lambert Otto, and Robert Dunspar, after leaving the town of Hilton Springs and the terrible worms on July 10, 1875, with only a stop to get the tequila bottle from the Webster House, continued east into southern Utah. They made their way north through towns and villages primarily dominated by Mormons though with a scattering of other people until they reached the rail head at Santaquin on Tuesday, July 20. Gemma, having had enough of the slow, overland travel, told the others she would take the train to Salt Lake City and then meet them in Devil’s Gulch. Dunspar was likewise done with overland travel and said he would be staying at Santaquin for a while. He hinted he might meet them at Devil’s Gulch as well, but made no promises after the horrors he’d personally and physically experienced.

 

Professor Stalloid and Otto planned to travel due east from the town, bypassing the Uintah Indian Reservation and working their way through the mountains until they reached the area of Idaho Springs, Colorado, where they could continue the way they’d come or take the rail from there to Denver and then Devil’s Gulch. He had asked some of his customers about John Valentine but none of them knew anything about the man or had heard he was nearby.

 

Santaquin was a very small town. It had a Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution or ZCMI store and a small population who were mostly Mormon. There was a hotel and a saloon was tucked away on one side of town however. The people there seemed friendly enough and didn’t mind Professor Stalloid selling pharmaceuticals so long as they were medicinal and didn’t contain alcohol or tobacco. He was allowed to camp on the south side of town.

 

The children of town were amazed at the medicine wagon and Professor Stalloid. He tried to make them some rock candy infused with carbon dioxide so it would kind of crackle when they ate it. However, he made a terrible mixture of sugar that was too hard to ever eat. He threw the whole thing out.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Jack West had come to Utah in search of Popie East and others of John Valentine’s gang. He had just arrived in the town of Santaquin when he spotted a medicine wagon with the name “Stalloid†on the side. A bunch of kids were hanging around it. He heard them asking for explosives of the pharmacist and he said he didn’t have any dynamite any more. They wanted him to go get it.

 

Lambert Otto sat outside by a small campfire, cleaning his rifle.

 

West sauntered up to medicine wagon.

 

“Are you married?†one of the children asked Professor Stalloid.

 

“No,†he said.

 

“I gotta sister.â€

 

“No.â€

 

“I’ll go get her!â€

 

Jack West walked up to the man.

 

“Oh no, kids!†Professor Stalloid said when he saw the man. “A brigand! Run!â€

 

The children screamed and ran away.

 

“There we go,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

Only one little four-year-old boy didn’t run.

 

“An outlaw!†Professor Stalloid said to him.

 

“What happened to your face?†the child asked West.

 

“Boo!†West said, leaning down close to the child.

 

The little boy reached forward, trying to put his finger in the hole in West’s cheek. The man stood up straight and pushed his hands away.

 

“Is that real?†the child asked.

 

“Does it look like it could be fake?†West asked.

 

The boy looked at his face for a moment and then reached up to try to put his finger in the hole in his cheek again. He pushed his hands away.

 

“Anyway!†he said. “So, you got medicine, Stalloid?â€

 

“He got candy,†the child said.

 

“Of course,†Professor Stalloid said. “I have all the cure-alls.â€

 

“I’ve developed a … a hankering for laudanum,†West said.

 

“Where have you been?†Professor Stalloid said. “We’ve needed you. These giant worms! They came out of the ground and …â€

 

“Wow!†the little boy said.

 

“Well, as you can see, I was healing from a gunshot wound,†West said.

 

“It was sapping the blood out of people!†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“What?â€

 

“But I blew it up.â€

 

“Wow!†the little boy said.

 

“Have you been taking your own stuff?†West said.

 

“Occasionally,†Professor Stalloid said. “But now you’re here! I can get you some laudanum.â€

 

He got a little bottle of laudanum and gave it to the man. When he held out his hand, West shook it.

 

“That’ll be one dollar,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

West handed over a silver dollar, Professor Stalloid handed it over to the four-year-old, and the four-year old handed it to Professor Stalloid.

 

“Candy,†he said.

 

Professor Stalloid gave the boy some candy and refused to take the dollar.

 

“Thanks!†the boy said. “Thanks Mr. Stalloid.â€

 

He ran away.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Dr. Weisswald and Jacali arrived in Santaquin later that same day and eventually found the medicine wagon where Otto sat near a fire and Jack West and Professor Stalloid talked about worms. Four horses were hobbled nearby, munching on the sparse grass. Several feedbags hung on the medicine wagon side. West just nodded to them.

 

“Seems like the hospital treated you well, Jack West,†Jacali said.

 

“Well, they did a pretty good job,†West replied. “Almost good as new.â€

 

He gave the woman a half smile as the damaged and horrible side of his face didn’t move like it should.

 

“You’ve been out for long?†Jacali said. “Heard anything about the Crescent?â€

 

“I haven’t heard about anything,†West said.

 

“All right,†Jacali said.

 

“Why that’s Jacali!†came a shout from inside the medicine wagon.

 

“And that’s Stalloid,†Jacali said.

 

Professor Stalloid appeared at the opening in the side of the wagon. He slammed his hands down on the counter.

 

“Are you people following me?†he said.

 

“Well …†Jacali said. “Would you be mad if we were?â€

 

“No,†Professor Stalloid said. “I was just trying to get a straight answer. Anger seems to do it.â€

 

“That was angry?†West said.

 

“Weisswald and I are heading to Devil’s Gulch,†Jacali said.

 

“Oh, we are too,†Professor Stalloid said. “You are definitely following me.â€

 

“Why are you going to the Gulch?â€

 

“Well, because a Chinese man who was gutted in an alley by … a dimensional shambler from the skies … whispered it into my ear in Chinese.â€

 

“But you don’t speak Chinese,†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

“Yes, but this lady was there and she translated it,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“Okay …†Jacali said. “Well, weird slugs that I met in my dream told me to go to Devil’s Gulch, so I guess we have a similar─â€

 

“Did these slugs have tentacles?†Professor Stalloid asked.

 

Jacali stared at him for a moment.

 

“Maybe,†she said.

 

“Did they dig?†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“What?â€

 

“Did they dig?â€

 

“No. They talked.â€

 

“Oh. Okay, the ones I found don’t talk.â€

 

“This guy’s crazy!†Jacali whispered to Dr. Weisswald.

 

“You’re both crazy,†Jack West growled. “Well, the reason I was heading out here turned out to be false rumors. I got nothing on my slate.â€

 

“Honestly, I don’t know if the weird dream slugs that I met are false rumors either,†Jacali said. “But … at the very least it’s a place to go.â€

 

“Dream slugs can be reputable,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“Strange injun,†West said.

 

“Strange white man,†Jacali said.

 

“I’ve never seen any dream slugs but they could be useful,†Professor Stalloid said. “You should catch it next time.â€

 

“Yes, I’ll make a note of that when talking slugs talk to me in my dreams, I’ll catch them. That’s the smart thing to do.â€

 

“In a bottle.â€

 

“In a dream in a bottle.â€

 

“Dreams are powerful.â€

 

Professor Stalloid described what had happened in Hilton Springs, noting the huge worms had drawn the blood and vital fluids out of their victims and he had destroyed some of them with dynamite. He described how they had melted after they had been destroyed.

 

“As hard as it is to believe, that sounds more and more familiar,†Jacali said.

 

“They had a tunnel that went under the town that was coated in shellac or varnish,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

They looked to where Otto sat by the fire.

 

“Otto killed a man,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“Why would you tell me that!?!†Jacali said. “Well, yes, I know! He did so in front of me!â€

 

“No, a defenseless man.â€

 

Jacali looked at the man.

 

“I would keep an eye on him,†Professor Stalloid went on, his voice low. “He also aimed a gun at me. At one point, he attacked another person we had hired to help kill the demon back in Chinatown. Now, that man’s dead.â€

 

“Yes, ‘cause you said he …†Jacali said. “… you just said he killed him.â€

 

“Two different men. I don’t know if he killed the other one. I assume he didn’t though. But then he chased me down an alley with a gun!â€

 

“So, you’re saying I shouldn’t ask him how he’s doing.â€

 

“Yes.â€

 

“Okay.â€

 

They decided to head east the next day.

 

Around the fire that night, after they’d had their meal, Jack West poured a little bit of the laudanum in a whisky bottle he had purchased before entering Utah, spiking it with the “medicine†he needed. Dr. Weisswald noticed the man and watched him carefully. It didn’t look like he used too much but she was determined to keep an eye on him for the next few days to watch for any symptoms of his taking too much.

 

She also noticed Professor Stalloid in the lantern light later that night in his wagon, reading The Mysteries of the Worm. She was glad to know where it was.

 

“Is that why they couldn’t find the book in your library?†she said to him with a smile.

 

“What book?†he said.

 

“The book you’re reading.â€

 

“Well, yeah. It’s not in the library. It’s right here.â€

 

“Well, it makes a lot more sense now.â€

 

“This book does not make any sense.â€

 

Professor Stalloid told her he had forgone a deeper reading of the book in order to try to learn one of the spells: Command Ghost. She decided she would try to learn one of the spells as they traveled too, sharing the book with the man. She decided to try to learn Voorish Sign.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

After a filling breakfast on Wednesday, July 21, 1875, they broke camp and prepared to head east into the wilderness from Santaquin.

 

“S-S-Stalloid …†Otto said as they got underway. “Can I ride one of your─â€

 

“No,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

Otto glared at the man.

 

“Hey, Stalloid, can I ride in your wagon?†West asked.

 

Professor Stalloid nodded and West climbed in, finding the pull-down bunk and making himself comfortable.

 

“You can ride in the wagon,†Professor Stalloid said to Otto. “You can ride up front. You can direct the horses.â€

 

“I guess I’ll direct the horses,†Otto mumbled.

 

He climbed onto the seat and Stalloid climbed up next to him. Dr. Weisswald and Jacali rode Shy Anne and Nalin, respectively, leading the way.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

They made good progress for a few days. It was late on their fourth day, Saturday, July 24, 1875, when they could see mountains in the distance ahead and they saw five or six people on horseback riding hell for leather north of them, probably about five miles away. It was hard to tell who they were at that distance but they were heading west with speed. Professor Stalloid got his binoculars from the back of the wagon and looked through them. He thought sure they were Indians.

 

“Something’s got them in a hustle,†he muttered.

 

He called to the women leading the way and they returned. They discussed what to do about the riders and Jacali said they should just keep their wits about them and watch out for whatever it was they were running from, if they were running at all. Dr. Weisswald didn’t want to get into a firefight. In the end, they decided to continue on the way they were heading. Jacali and Weisswald kept a closer eye on the terrain and Professor Stalloid looked around with the field glasses.

 

They rode on until dark that night and made camp once. Jacali scrounged around and found some herbs while Dr. Weisswald searched and found some wild onions and other wild plants to add to their meal that night.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

It was another scorcher on Sunday, July 25, 1875, and they continued east, approaching the mountains. They had only been traveling for an hour or so when Dr. Weisswald saw circling birds in the sky ahead. Professor Stalloid saw they were circling over an area of broken stone. He shouted and pointed it out to everyone.

 

Dr. Weisswald headed that direction, followed by Jacali. Otto turned the horses a little to the left to head for it while Professor Stalloid looked at it through the binoculars. Jack peeked out of the front of the wagon between the two men.

 

When Dr. Weisswald and Jacali approached the broken rock, they thought they heard someone singing or chanting. It sounded like an Indian death song came from a sheltered area in the rubble. Dr. Weisswald held up her hand to signal the others to stop the wagon.

 

“I think we should approach alone,†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

“On foot, probably,†Jacali said.

 

They rode back to the medicine wagon and Jacali told them they wanted to approach the place on foot and didn’t want to take the medicine wagon. When Professor Stalloid asked if he could go, Jacali said he could so long as he was stealthy and followed behind them. Otto climbed off the seat and stood there ready. Dr. Weisswald noted it was natives and they might not be friendly towards white men approaching them. Jacali told them she would appreciate the other two being backup instead of coming with them.

 

Professor Stalloid suggested some kind of signal to indicate danger, noting howling like a wolf might work.

 

“Strawberry,†Jack West growled. “That’s a good one.â€

 

“I forgot you were here, Jack West,†Jacali said.

 

“We could go with raspberry,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“I don’t think the type of berry matters,†Jacali said.

 

“Well, then I choose blueberry,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“If any of us are ever in danger, we all agree that we will start howling like wolves and naming off all of our favorite berries,†Jacali said. “So, blackberries for you. You have blueberries. West, you should strawberries. Otto, what’s your favorite berry?â€

 

Otto just stared at the woman.

 

“Nice berry, Otto,†she said.

 

They discussed berries for a little while longer.

 

“I will have raspberry,†Jacali said. “Of course.â€

 

Dr. Weisswald and Jacali headed towards the broken rocks on foot while the Professor Stalloid and West stayed near the medicine wagon. Otto went about halfway to the rocks before finding a place to cover them with his carbine. The two women crept to the little enclosed area in the broken rock and found a Ute brave. He lay on his back in a puddle of blood, singing his death song. As soon as she saw the blood, Dr. Weisswald ran towards the man. She could understand most of what he said. Jacali could understand a little less, knowing less of the language than the other.

 

“Thunderbirds!†he muttered. “Lightning lizards!â€

 

The man was obviously delirious, not even noticing them approach. His injury was a terrible tear as if from a sharp claw, right up his gut. They had no idea what could have caused the horrible wound and Dr. Weisswald treated the brave while Jacali told him they were there to help him. She also assisted Dr. Weisswald in treating the terrible wound. Dr. Weisswald told him she was a doctor, there to help. She didn’t think he heard either of them.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

The men saw the woman rush the rocks and disappear within. They waited for a little while before Jack West started to walk that direction. Professor Stalloid stopped him.

 

“They didn’t howl or say their berry though!†he said.

 

“We are waiting for raspberry,†West said.

 

West stopped. The two of them sat down on a ground by a rock and started playing rummy.

 

Ahead of them, Otto repositioned himself behind a pile of rocks a little closer to where the women had gone.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Dr. Weisswald saw the wound was terrible. She worked desperately and dedicatedly, knowing saving the man’s life might be beyond her means. It took her a half hour to get the man stitched up and she thought the man was going to live. She sent Jacali back to tell the others, asking her to get the medicine wagon close. Jacali collected Otto and they headed to the medicine wagon and the other men brought it closer.

 

They got a litter out of the medicine wagon to get the man out of the cave and into Professor Stalloid’s bunk, strapping him down tight. They got him to drink some water as well but he was delirious and only semiconscious.

 

“I’ve never been happier for your medicine wagon,†Dr. Weisswald told Professor Stalloid.

 

Jacali noted the man didn’t seem to speak English so either Dr. Weisswald or Jacali would have to speak to him when he woke. They discussed where to go and soon continued on east towards Devil’s Gulch. When Professor Stalloid suggested the reservation, Jacali noted there would not be much in the way of medical treatment there and the reservation villages were not even on the map. Dr. Weisswald noted he would be better off in her hands anyway.

 

They had all noticed Otto’s silence. Jacali approached the man.

 

“Otto, I understand you’re in a bit of a crisis right now, but eventually we will need to know your favorite berry to know if you’re ever in trouble,†she said. “I just want to put it out there. I won’t bother you any more in your time of need.â€

 

“Maybe his could just be berry,†West said.

 

Otto looked at the woman in bewilderment.

 

They continued east, Jacali and Dr. Weisswald riding a little ahead again. Jack West sat on the seat in the front with Otto while Professor Stalloid kept an eye on their patient in the back.

 

 

* * *

 

 


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