Wednesday, April 18, 2018
(After playing the Call of Cthulhu Down Darker Trails Catastrophe Engine Campaign Chill scenario â€œThe House on the Hillâ€ from Evenings of Terror with Elvira Sunday, April 15, 2018, from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. with Kyle Matheson, Austin Davie, Yorie Latimer, Ben Abbott, James Brown, Ashton LeBlanc, Collin Townsend, and John Leppard.)
Marshal Clayton Pierce had been in a hospital in San Francisco from injuries received from the terrible dragon-like creature since May 23, 1875. He was released on June 26 with a clean bill of health and found there was no bill. When he inquired, he learned a Professor Brandon Stalloid had left an open account to pay for his stay. He was given some laudanum to help him sleep and morphine for the pain to self-administer later. Unfortunately, do the severity of his wounds, his left arm had limited movement. He could not raise it up over his shoulder. The doctors hoped it might come around but told him not to hold out too much hope. He also got $100 from the railroad for his help in driving off the train robbers.
During the time he was recuperating, he read the papers and learned Jack Parker had been killed during the train robbery when he was shot off the train and fell into a gorge.
He found Professor Stalloidâ€™s house and was told by the little old Chinese lady there that Professor Stalloid left some time ago. She told him he was going to Midnight and Devilâ€™s Gulch. A little time spent with an atlas showed him Devilâ€™s Gulch was in Colorado and Midnight was in southern California not far from Los Angeles.
He guessed Professor Stalloid was already done with Midnight and so headed for Devilâ€™s Gulch.
The trip took about a month before he found himself in Utah, crossing the Uintah Reservation. He spent some time with the natives there. He was told there dragons had spotted and they had sent for the army. They had sent several braves to alert the white men in the town of Santaquin of the things. He was told the Indians had been scoffed at, however, and it was unsure if any help would be sent.
Marshal Pierce crudely drew what attacked him on the Sequoyah Star and asked the English-speaking Ute if it was the same. He said one of those that had encountered it thought it was.
He continued east into Colorado and, on the morning of July 30, 1875, spotted birds circling ahead. He soon came across the bones of a massive thing, he wasnâ€™t even sure what. The head of the thing had been cut off and there were signs of a wagon passing through the area. Part of the nearby cliff was collapsed in what looked like an explosion. The thing had been reduced to nearly bones. He took one of the large claws from the horrible beast.
He consulted the map of Colorado heâ€™d gotten out of the atlas and marked his best guess as to the location of the dead creature before he continued east.
* * *
Robert Dunspar had left the others in Santaquin, Utah, on July 20, needing to get away from them for some time. He still felt drained and awful from their encounter with the strange worms in Hilton Springs, Nevada. He took the train to Salt Lake City and saw a doctor there who didnâ€™t know of anything he could do to help him. Then he took the train to Denver Junction before boarding another train he thought led to Denver.
It didnâ€™t. Heâ€™d gotten on the wrong train.
Instead, he found himself at the railhead at Idaho Post Office. It was a small town and he asked advice in getting to Devilâ€™s Gulch. He was told he had to follow a road out of town in the opposite direction as the rail line. He purchased a stallion from a shifty-looking character for $100. The man told him the horse sagging in the middle was preferred as it would help hold the saddle in place. The man also sold him a saddle and bridle for $30 as well as some oats before he set off down the road he was told to go down.
Unfortunately, he was heading west, not east. He passed through several towns until he followed little more than a trail in the wilderness for several days.
* * *
On the evening of July 30, 1875, the people of White River Post Office were very curious about the huge head on Professor Brandon Stalloidâ€™s medicine wagon.
â€œWhat is that thing up there?â€ one of them asked.
â€œWhy, itâ€™s the discovery of the century!â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œWhat is that?â€
â€œWhat? A century?â€
â€œThatâ€™s a hundred years, ainâ€™t it?â€
â€œOr is that a thousand?â€
â€œItâ€™s a hundred.â€
â€œNo, what is that? What is the discovery of the century?â€
â€œIâ€™m calling it the â€¦ scary monster.â€
â€œWell, it looks like you called it right.â€
â€œIâ€™m going to figure out what that is in Latin.â€
â€œNobody here speaks that.â€
â€œYeah, I donâ€™t either.â€
â€œOld Bob, he speaks a little Apache.â€
â€œCan you ask him what it is in Apache?â€
Jacali, nearby with Night Horse, looked at the man.
â€œStalloid, you know that â€¦ I speak Apache,â€ she said.
â€œYou do?â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œI am Apache!â€
â€œThis is the first Iâ€™ve heard of it. I just thought you didnâ€™t read English.â€
â€œYes, I just donâ€™t read English and then nothing else. No other language. I just â€¦â€
â€œWell, I was already flabbergasted at â€˜didnâ€™t read English.â€™â€
She stared at him.
â€œWell â€¦ if you do want to name this thing something Apache, donâ€™t go to â€¦ Bob,â€ she said.
â€œBut heâ€™s coming,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œWell, whatâ€™s â€˜scary monsterâ€™ in Apache?â€
She told him the words. Professor Stalloid didnâ€™t care for it so went with Latin instead, and decided to call the massive thing the Formidulosaurus.
* * *
Clayton Pierce reached White River P.O. and spotted a brightly painted red medicine wagon with the words â€œStalloidâ€™s Stupendous Supplementsâ€ on one side and â€œBrandonâ€™s Bountiful Brandiesâ€ on the other. There was some kind of huge, rotting lizard head on the roof. He guessed it was from the thing he had found dead in the wilderness. The town itself had a general store with a sign that noted a post office within. The other buildings were unmarked but simply built.
Marshal Pierce entered the general store.
â€œCan I help you, sir?â€ the old man behind the counter asked. â€œOh! Marshal!â€
â€œYou know me?â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œNo sir, I know your badge.â€
â€œOh yeah. Have you seen a weird individual? A man â€¦â€
â€œHeâ€™s over at the â€¦ at the â€¦ at the tanners.â€
Marshal Pierce got directions to Reuben Fieldingâ€™s house and headed out of town to the hut that stood a good eighth of a mile away. As he arrived, he saw Jack West leaving the hut. The manâ€™s clothing was bloodstained and worn. He looked like he had been working in a butcher shop.
â€œWell Marshal, what brings out to Colorado?â€ West said.
â€œJack West,â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œWhereâ€™s Stalloid?â€
â€œIn his wagon, I presume.â€
â€œOh my God.â€
Marshal Pierce turned and walked back to the little town with West.
â€œDid you see the beast that we â€¦ managed to bag?â€ West said as they walked.
â€œYâ€™all killed that?â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œYeah. Shot out its eyes.â€
â€œI got this claw. Iâ€™m going to take it to the Indians and tell them I killed it and maybe get some money. You can claim it to if you want the money. I didnâ€™t know yâ€™allâ€™d encountered it.â€
â€œI finally got myself a skin!â€
â€œI was going to say I did it.â€
â€œItâ€™ll be hard to claim that with the head on his wagon and all.â€
â€œYeah, I saw that. I donâ€™t know why I didnâ€™t check the wagon. What happened on the train after I got hurt? Everybody make it out all right?â€
â€œUh â€¦ yeah, from my understanding. Most of us got out. We managed to take out a couple of them dragon-things, which melted after they died, by the way.â€
â€œSo, I been out of commission for a while. Are there just dragon-things everywhere now. Is this the world?â€
â€œHopefully not. Have to start collecting trophies if it is. But what we need to keep our eyes on is a â€¦ Pete Sutter.â€
â€œOh, the Boulder Bandit, or whatever they call him.â€
â€œHe was posing as a Secret Service Agent.â€
â€œWe locked eyes and guns and we just â€¦ had to fire at each other.â€
â€œYou locked eyes?â€
â€œI just knew there was something wrong.â€
â€œIâ€™ll keep an eye on him, but what about Jack Parker?â€ Marshal Pierce asked as they reached the medicine wagon.
â€œParker fell out of the train into a river,â€ West said. â€œBut his body was not recovered. Neither was the â€¦ slab of stone he was carrying.â€
â€œThat artifact you were so head over heels for.â€
â€œI donâ€™t know nothing about it.â€
â€œIâ€™m pretty sure itâ€™s just a piece of stone.â€
Marshal Pierce knocked on the side of the wagon and looked into the open door. Jacali and Night Horse were outside, the man whittling a long piece of wood. Jacali was carving the monster tooth she had acquired to make a knife or dagger. He saw Professor Stalloid and Dr. Eva Weisswald in the wagon. They were tending to someone in the bunk set near the ceiling in the front. He could not make out who was in the bunk.
â€œYou also missed â€¦ uh â€¦ Miss Weisswald was able to save a snake person,â€ West said.
â€œWhat?â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œSee his insides were outside. She managed to put them back inside.â€
â€œSnake Person. Itâ€™s fascinating.â€
â€œSo, now thereâ€™s dragons.â€
â€œAnd we have snake people.â€
â€œAnd giant worms!â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œGiant worms,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œI donâ€™t know nothing about that,â€ West said.
â€œAnd pterodactyls,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œP-terodactyl!â€ West said. â€œI donâ€™t know why he wonâ€™t pronounce it with the â€˜p.â€™â€
â€œP-terodactyl,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œItâ€™s spelled that way!â€
â€œWhy is there a â€˜pâ€™ if â€¦ youâ€™re not going to say p-terodactyl?â€
â€œDoctors think theyâ€™re better than us.â€
â€œI see another personâ€™s following me,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œHave you been billed yet?â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œFor the hospital bill?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œWell, I owe you one. Whatever you need from me, just let me know. I didnâ€™t have the money.â€
â€œI need a bodyguard.â€
â€œYou need a bodyguard? Well, Iâ€™m not going to call myself a bodyguard.â€
â€œI have one. I need two.â€
â€œYou can consider me a marshal that protects you.â€
â€œSpeaking as such, are you paying me anything?â€ West said.
â€œDidnâ€™t I already give you this weekâ€™s â€¦â€ Professor Stalloid said.
He clicked his mouth and winked at the man and looked at Westâ€™s coat pocket that bulged with the bottle of whiskey mixed with laudanum.
â€œDidnâ€™t â€¦ didnâ€™t I have to pay for that?â€ West said.
â€œYeah,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œThat was a security deposit.â€
â€œIâ€™d like travel expenses too. I need some whiskey.â€
He went to the general store.
* * *
Wilder had left San Francisco directly after they had dealt with the tongs in Chinatown in late May. There were too many people in the city, all crammed together and living on top of each other. He had traveled east, heading back for his native Colorado and gone back to work hunting and trapping.
In late July, he had gone to visit his friend, Reuben Fielding, in the tiny town of White River P.O. in the middle of nowhere. The afternoon of July 30, he had gone out to check the traps and soon returned to Fieldingâ€™s house with some game.
â€œUgliest damned man I ever seen was just here,â€ Fielding said. â€œHe had a hole in his cheek and scars all down his face. He wanted me to tan this piece of leather. This piece of â€¦ I donâ€™t even know what this is!â€
â€œWas his name â€¦ was his name West?â€ Wilder asked.
â€œYeah! Howâ€™d you know that?â€
â€œHuh? We have traveled â€¦ on occasion.â€
â€œHeâ€™s at the Post Office.â€
â€œI shall go and â€¦ commiserate.â€
* * *
When Wilder got to town, he recognized Professor Stalloidâ€™s medicine wagon. It had a huge, strange head upon it.
â€œI have â€¦ seen stranger sights,â€ he said to himself.
He was actually talking about West.
He saw another man ride a broken down stallion into town. He had long hair and a beard and wore a suit. A suitcase was tied to the back of his saddle.
Must be a greenhorn, Wilder thought.
* * *
When Dunspar rode into White River P.O., he was surprised to see Professor Stalloidâ€™s medicine wagon.
Finally, he thought.
He also saw a bearded man wearing what appeared to be a bear pelt with the bear head atop his own. He headed for the medicine wagon.
* * *
â€œWilder, youâ€™re alive!â€ Marshal Pierce said when the man approached the medicine wagon.
â€œAs are you,â€ Wilder said.
â€œI thought you would have died after I got attacked. You were the last thing I saw before that thing grabbed me.â€
â€œYeah â€¦ I â€¦ I got as far away as I possibly could â€¦ on a train like that.â€
â€œI wish I had done that.â€
â€œWell, the Pinkertons seemed to have you in good care.â€
â€œOh, did they save me?â€
â€œThey had you in hand, yes.â€
â€œLooks like I owe a major debt to a lot of people then. Iâ€™m a federal marshal/bodyguard now.â€
â€œThere are worse things to be.â€
Wilder looked down at himself. He had noticed the other man was holding his arm oddly. He said nothing.
Then Dunspar rode up.
â€œWhoâ€™s this guy?â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œHe the new person in the party? Seems like we get somebody new quite often.â€
â€œOh,â€ Dunspar said. â€œIâ€™m a friend of Stalloidâ€™s,â€ Dunspar said.
â€œOh,â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œIâ€™m sorry.â€
Lambert Otto walked up to the wagon. He had been down at White River, using two rocks to beat his clothing and clean it of the blood that covered it. His clothes were still a little damp but he had no doubt they would dry in the summer heat shortly. He had gotten most of the blood out.
â€œSo, whereâ€™s Gemma Jones and the preacher man?â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œThose are the only ones I donâ€™t see here.â€
â€œDead,â€ Wilder said.
â€œWhat?â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œTheyâ€™re not dead!â€ Otto said. â€œOnly the preacher is.â€
â€œThe preacher died on the train,â€ Wilder said.
â€œTo one of the monsters?â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œI do not know,â€ Wilder said. â€œI found him in a sorry state.â€
â€œHe got shot,â€ Otto said.
â€œI could do nothing for him,â€ Wilder said.
â€œThey had guns?â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œThere was bandits,â€ Otto said.
â€œOh, he got shot by a bandit.â€
â€œYeah, he had a crossbow.â€
â€œI was going to say, we have no chance if those things can shoot too. And Gemma Jones? Dead as well?â€
â€œNo, she went to Salt Lake City. Was heading towards Devilâ€™s Gulch.â€
â€œWell, I hope sheâ€™s okay traveling alone. Bad time to be doing such things, it would seem. Now, tell me more about this â€¦ thing â€¦ you all killed. And â€¦ snake people.â€
â€œI call it the Formidulosaurus!â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œFormidulosaurus â€¦ okay,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œIt means scary dino.â€
â€œIt was a dinosaur.â€
â€œYou â€¦ killed a dinosaur.â€
â€œI shot it in its eye,â€ Jacali said.
â€œI threw nitroglycerin at it,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œYouâ€™re getting really good with that bow,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œYes,â€ Jacali said. â€œThank you.â€
â€œHasnâ€™t it been extinct?â€ Dunspar asked.
â€œMillions of years!â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œYes!â€
â€œDo you always go for the eye?â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œAs long as I can,â€ Jacali said. â€œItâ€™s easy to watch your back but itâ€™s hard to watch your eyes.â€
Otto told Dunspar his horse was probably about 20 years old and in very bad shape. Dunspar was nonplussed.
â€œWhatâ€™s in the suitcase?â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œOh, just my personal equipment,â€ Dunspar said.
â€œAnd why are you here to seek out Mr. Stalloid? You come for the dinosaur head?â€
â€œOh, no no no no. He has asked me toâ”€â€
â€œHe helped me fight the worms,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œYes, the worms. Whichâ”€â€
â€œOh! By the way! Weisswald!â€
â€œYes,â€ Dr. Weisswald said from inside the wagon.
â€œHereâ€™s the man that had all his blood sucked from him!â€ Professor Stalloid said.
Everyone looked at Dunspar.
â€œAll of it!?!â€ Dr. Weisswald called.
â€œNot all of it!â€ Dunspar said.
â€œA lot of it!â€ Professor Stalloid said.
Professor Stalloid ushered Dunspar into the medicine wagon.
â€œIt wrung him out like a rag!â€ he said.
â€œSomeone please just explain worms and snake people,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œI can explain the snake people,â€ Jacali said.
â€œYou see, when we were in our wild pursuit being chased by horrible lizard creatures through the foggy mountains, we found a portal with a lot of dead snake people. However, one was not dead. Weisswald, in the best medical precision that Iâ€™ve ever seen in my entire life, and Iâ€™ve seen her do some crazy things, she put all of its innards back innards. They were outtards, I guess, at the time, because they were out. And the snake man spoke and he hasnâ€™t woken up since.â€
â€œHeâ€™s in there?â€
Marshal Pierce stepped into the medicine wagon. It smelled like a snake house at the zoo and he could see a figure under the blankets, strapped down to the bunk. It had a snake head that was the size of a manâ€™s, and the outline of a body underneath the blankets. It looked like a snake-headed man. It still wore tattered blue robes and its eyes were open, staring unseeing at the ceiling.
â€œMarshal, this is a medicine wagon, not a freak show,â€ Dr. Weisswald said. â€œI would appreciate it if you would leave.â€
â€œI would appreciate it if you would close your jaw,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œThe only question I have is: you healed this thing while it was unconscious,â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œYou have not spoken with it yet, correct?â€
â€œWe talked to it,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œItâ€™s not woken up,â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œShe talked with it,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œYou talked with it?â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œDidnâ€™t you say it called you a filthy primate?â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œI didnâ€™t say anything and it didnâ€™t say anything back, so â€¦â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œIf you call that â€˜talking.â€™â€
â€œHave you spoken to this thing?â€ Marshal Pierce asked. â€œCan you speak to this thing? What is this?â€
â€œIt knows English,â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œI just want to make sure a giant snake doesnâ€™t wake up angry,â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œThatâ€™s all Iâ€™m saying.â€
â€œIâ€™m for that idea as well,â€ Dunspar said.
â€œIâ€™ll leave you to it though,â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œIâ€™m probably not going to come in this wagon ever again.â€
â€œI must apologize for striking you,â€ Wilder said to Jacali outside.
â€œWell â€¦â€ Jacali said.
â€œDuring our last â€¦â€
Professor Stalloid had taken out one of the jars they had found and set to testing it. He found it was a terribly powerful poison and guessed was for injection or coating weapons with. He didnâ€™t know what would happen to a man if it was ingested but didnâ€™t think it would be as bad as if it was injected. Dr. Weisswald watched him test the material and realized the dagger she had found had the blade covered in the same poison.
When Jacali entered the wagon later that evening, he handed her a jar.
â€œHereâ€™s your payment for being a bodyguard so far,â€ he said with a grin.
â€œUh â€¦â€ she said.
â€œItâ€™s â€¦ why would you pay me in poison?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know what else you would want.â€
â€œYou think â€¦ all right, Stalloid.â€
â€œItâ€™s very special poison.â€
â€œYou seem like a very intelligent man. I think you would be able to deduce thereâ€™s many things in this world that I want that are not â€¦ poisons â€¦ that kill people.â€
â€œIâ€™ll give you some candy too, okay.â€
â€œWow. You really nailed it on the head with that as well. You know what, Stalloid? Iâ€™ll take my poison. Thank you.â€
And she did.
* * *
â€œStalloid, do you happen to have that interesting book?â€ Dunspar asked.
â€œYeah,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œDo you mind if I take it to my room for the night and read it?â€ Dunspar said.
Stalloid just looked at him.
â€œIâ€™ll have it back in the morning,â€ Dunspar said.
Stalloid just stared at him. Then he took out Mysteries of the Worm and started to rip pages out of the book that had the spells on them. He found all of the spells in the book were well-grouped, allowing him to tear out only a few pages. He ripped out Command Ghost, Invoke Child of Goat, and Voorish Sign. Then he handed the book to Dunspar.
â€œThank you,â€ Dunspar said.
Professor Stalloid bound the pages for Voorish sign and gave them to Dr. Weisswald. He glued the other two sets of spells into his research journal.
Dunspar went in search of a hotel or boarding house in the tiny town of White River P.O. There wasnâ€™t either. He returned to the medicine wagon and learned the tents they had used before were gone.
* * *
Otto spent time by the fire that night disassembling his Winchester carbine. The damned thing seemed to constantly jam and he wanted to know what was wrong with it. He had done so before and found no problems with the weapon but he was going to do so again, certain heâ€™d overlooked or missed something.
* * *
While Dr. Weisswald and Jacali were seeing to the serpent person, Dunspar opened the door to the medicine wagon and entered, sitting down in the corner and opening up Mysteries of the Worm.
â€œNo no no,â€ Dr. Weisswald said. â€œNo no no no no.â€
She motioned for him to get out of the wagon.
â€œStalloid said I could be here,â€ Dunspar said.
â€œWell, I didnâ€™t,â€ Dr. Weisswald said. â€œThis is my patient.â€
â€œYes, and this is Stalloidâ€™s wagon. Iâ€™m in the wagon. Iâ€™m not near the patient.â€
â€œListen, we might need some room when this patient wakes up,â€ Jacali said. â€œAnd you donâ€™t want to be here when he does, Iâ€™ll tell you that.â€
â€œIâ€™ve been in a dangerous situation before,â€ Dunspar said.
â€œIf youâ€™re going to be here, youâ€™re going to be quiet and let us do our thing and not make any moves on this thing, okay?â€
Dr. Weisswald frowned at the man. Jacali noticed her annoyance.
â€œExcuse me, stranger, how about this?â€ Jacali said. â€œYou can stay here and read your book, but once this patient wakes up, we need room in case he gets violent or anything like that. Three people crammed in here is not going to happen on that.â€
â€œOkay, well, when he wakes up, I will happily leave,â€ Dunspar said.
â€œAll right,â€ Jacali said.
The serpent person stirred a few minutes later.
â€œAll right, itâ€™s time!â€ Jacali said.
She grabbed Dunspar by the arm and pulled him to his feet. He creased the page on the book and took his leave. The women both turned towards the stirring serpent person and heard a footstep behind them. The man was coming back!
â€œOh damn it,â€ Jacali muttered.
Both of them turned to find Professor Stalloid in the medicine wagon, fixing his tie.
â€œOh damn it!â€ Jacali muttered.
The snake personâ€™s eyes focused and it looked around, obviously confused and saw Dr. Weisswald and Jacali, who stood nearest to it. It stopped moving and stared at them with unblinking eyes.
â€œYouâ€™re safe,â€ Dr. Weisswald said. â€œYouâ€™re safe.â€
It looked at Professor Stalloid and then looked at Jacali and Dr. Weisswald again.
â€œHello,â€ Jacali said.
â€œHello, Iâ€™m a scholar,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œNo worries.â€
The thing felt itself and grimaced in pain when it touched the significant wound on its belly under the blankets.
â€œI â€¦ put everything back â€¦ I think,â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œWhy did you save me?â€ the thing hissed.
â€œBecause I am a doctor. That is what I do.â€
â€œWhat is it you want of me?â€
â€œWe canâ€™t let you go extinct,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œA lot of you were dead.â€
â€œWe were dead,â€ the serpent person said. â€œAll of us. I should be dead as well.â€
â€œWhat is your name?â€ Dr. Weisswald asked.
â€œYes, we have been calling you by many names because we didnâ€™t know the official one, and we think thatâ€™s rude,â€ Jacali said. â€œAnd we wish to know how we should refer to you.â€
â€œSâ€™Slir-ethess,â€ the creature said.
â€œThatâ€™s a tough one,â€ Jacali said.
â€œI got it,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œSay it as if you were going to say â€˜I slur the word assess. But you slur it. Slur-ethess.â€
â€œSlur thessess,â€ Jacali said.
â€œI see not all of you have â€¦ evolved completely,â€ Sâ€™Slir-ethess said, looking at Professor Stalloid.
â€œWell, our tongues are very different,â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œWhat is it you want of me?â€
â€œI donâ€™t want anything. I just wanted to save you.â€
â€œYes, typically we like people best when they are alive,â€ Jacali said.
The thing seemed to think on that, staring at them.
â€œIf you are to help me, then I need something from you,â€ Sâ€™Slir-ethess said.
â€œWhat?â€ Jacali said.
â€œA female of your kind. The body of a female of your kind. Not long dead. Roughly my size.â€
â€œUh â€¦ so a corpse then. You need a â€¦ you need a corpse.â€
â€œNot long dead.â€
â€œUh â€¦ whatâ€™s the time that weâ€™re working with here?â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œA few hours,â€ Sâ€™Slir-ethess said.
â€œOh jeeze,â€ Jacali said.
â€œA few hours dead or you need it in a few hours?â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œA few hours dead,â€ Sâ€™Slir-ethess said.
â€œOkay, then we have time on this,â€ Dr. Weisswald said, relieved.
â€œDo you mind me asking exactly why you â€¦ uh â€¦ would want a dead body of a person?â€ Jacali said.
â€œI assume for magic,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œYou were a spiritual leader, right?â€
â€œWhy do you always go to magic?â€
â€œWell, I feel like heâ€™s a spiritual leader.â€
â€œYou know what, Brandon Stalloid, I never took you for one of those kind of people, but every time you see a strange person who looks different from you, you assume they have magic going on and that theyâ€™re a spiritual leader.â€
â€œI donâ€™t thinkâ”€â€
â€œIs that why you gave me the poison?â€
â€œNo! You have arrows. Guns donâ€™t work with poison!â€
â€œWhat?â€ Sâ€™Slir-ethess said. â€œMy peopleâ€™s poison?â€
â€œYes,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œOh, we just found it laying around,â€ Jacali said. â€œSo, we picked it up.â€
â€œHm,â€ Sâ€™Slir-ethess said.
â€œIt seems powerful,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œI need to acclimate to your society,â€ Sâ€™Slir-ethess said. â€œOtherwise I will be viewed as a monster, as we would view you.â€
The serpent person looked at all of them.
â€œSo, make it so,â€ it said.
â€œI feel like â€¦â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œAnd I am a female,â€ Sâ€™Slir-ethess said.
She leaned back onto the bed and looked straight up.
â€œI feel like she wants to wear a skin?â€ Professor Stalloid whispered to the others.
â€œThey have a gender dichotomy,â€ Dr. Weisswald muttered.
She quickly wrote it down.
â€œDo you need to eat:?â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œOh yes,â€ Jacali said. â€œFood. What are your favorites?â€
â€œCarnivore, herbivore, omnivore?â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œMeat,â€ Sâ€™Slir-ethess said.
â€œMeat,â€ Jacali said.
â€œCarnivore,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œAlive,â€ Sâ€™Slir-ethess said.
â€œThis might be offensive but I feel I should ask,â€ Jacali said.
â€œVermin, avian, weasel?â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œThe snakes that we know that look like you like mice and things,â€ Jacali said. â€œIs that okay or is it just any meat. Do you have a preference?â€
â€œSome living meat that I can swallow,â€ Sâ€™Slir-ethess said.
â€œYou â€¦ you need it alive though?â€
â€œPreferably,â€ Sâ€™Slir-ethess said.
â€œWeâ€™ve got a really old horse out there,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œAnd a dead woman,â€ Sâ€™Slir-ethess said.
â€œWhat is the size?â€ Dr. Weisswald asked.
â€œWould you like many small portions or a big portion?â€ Jacali said.
â€œWe donâ€™t want you to throw up your meal afterwards,â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
Sâ€™Slir-ethess held her hands up to indicate something the size of an opossum or a raccoon.
â€œI can probably talk to Wilder and get him to trap some stuff alive,â€ Jacali said. â€œIâ€™m fairly good at shooting things and, well, it doesnâ€™t really work out for that.â€
â€œAnd water,â€ Sâ€™Slir-ethess said.
â€œWeâ€™ve got plenty of that,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œIâ€™ve been sponging you with water.â€
â€œSo about this dead woman weâ€™re supposed to find,â€ Jacali whispered to the others. â€œAre we going to wait for someone to die. I donâ€™t feel right about killing someone.â€
â€œWeâ€™ll figure it out,â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
* * *