May 3, 1898
Cody, Li and I rode into Vista Grande this afternoon after spending three weeks on the trail. True to form, Cody hit the saloon first while Li and I set about finding lodgings at the Station Hotel. Although you can hardly take a step without getting mud on your boots, above ankle height the scenery is awful pretty.
After our things were unpacked I inquired at the Col. Dawson Hotel concerning the telegram. Jonah Johnson, the owner of the local general store and a hotel resident informed me that I should see Ms. Stanton at the town library. It being late, and said library being on the far northern edge of town, I will follow up tomorrow on the telegram. I am now headed to the Buckin’ Bronco saloon to have a hot meal and see if I can keep Cody from too much mischief.
We made it less than twenty-four hours before running afoul of mystery. I sent Mr. Li to the general store for supplies last night and he ended up in jail. Apparently he roughed up a town citizen who had too much to drink. Knowing Li, the incident was undoubtedly the drunkards fault entirely, but as with so many times in the past, Li’s far-east origins trumped fair play and he spent the night locked up despite my efforts to talk the deputy out of it.
When I brought Cody to the sheriffs in the morning we learned that a prisoner had died during the night. Having been present and awake for the events, Li told us the tale. Sometime late in the evening, a large, hirsute man was thrown into the cell next to Li’s. The man was three sheets gone and soon passed out. Not long after, a shadowy, spirit form rose out of the big man, flowed through the bars and attacked the prisoner in the cell opposite his own. After which time, it simply vanished through the wall of the jail. According to Li, the spirit was hard to make out, but was large and had horns like a demon.
After getting Li out and talking with the Sheriff we ran into Father Jericho, a local catholic priest who had his own mystery to deal with. It being a small town, and coincidence being what it is, there seemed to be a better than average chance that our investigations were linked, especially taking into consideration the fact that the good father was a Theomancer.
Jericho’s problems stemmed from restless ghosts complaining that their bodies were missing from their graves. We had learned that the big man in the jail was a grave digger named Randall Turnbull employed at Cowl’s Mortuary. A tentative link perhaps, but one certainly worth investigating.
At the town coroner’s office we examined the body. The victim was a drifter and drunkard. To all outward appearances he seemed to have died from asphyxiation and simple heart failure, a victim of strong drink. There was however a sense of the shade that had killed him still lingering about the corpse. That and Li’s word were good enough for me.
Since matters seem to be heading toward the arcane, we have decided to question any other practitioners in the area. Jericho only knows of one; a Chinese Gnostic named Lady Ling. We are sending Li to fetch her and then heading to the library to meet Miss Stanton.
Notes for the next Journal Entry (not yet written by Thomas)
Meeting with Miss Stanton.
Informed of the mysterious Mr. Cowl, owner of the Mortuary and the now closed Silver Mine.
Ling tells us that Cowl is still covertly selling silver even though the mine has been closed. Can we say “zombie miners?”
Led by the late Mrs. Huffington’s ghost, the impromptu posse takes a ride up to the Cowl Mortuary to “ask some questions.”
Briefly stopped by a madam of the local whore-house who wants help dealing with a frightening nocturnal visitor (of the less fleshly kind?) Thomas must move Cody along before he gets distracted. “Sorry mam’ our quest log is full…
Right! The Mortuary. A quick inspection of the graves and then it’s up to the big house on the hill. Huffington’s ghost and all spirits in general are being kept from entering the mortuary by a powerful warding spell.
Since no one answers the door when we knock, we dispel said powerful warding spell and send Huffington inside to reconnoiter.
Unfortunately she fails to return…
A young pretty woman pops her head out of the third story tower window and remonstrates us for fiddling with her daddy’s wards. She has the aura of a practitioner.
We enter the house and search the first floor. Someone drops dynamite down the lift in the carriage house at the same time that the main stairs try to drop Thomas, Cody and Jericho into a deep pit. They’re only successful in dropping Thomas, but his shield spell absorbs most of the fall. He is however, still stuck in the pit.
A trap door opens in the foyer floor disgorging three half old lady - half wolf hound, undead creatures with axes and knives. Thomas dubs them Haghounds.
Ling sends a fireball up the lift in reply to the dynamite. Jericho, Li and Thomas, after being TK’d out of the hole by his helpful brother, take on the haghounds. Cody engages in a classic gunfight with a badly burned Randall Turnbull (see “fireball” mentioned earlier).
Exciting moments later, Thomas, Jericho and Li have destroyed or caused the haghounds to flee with a combination of rifles, kung fu, sabers, fireballs, holy auras and witty dialogue, Cody’s shot Mr. Turnbull good and dead and all with nary a scratch. Take that evil-doers!
Taking the lift to the second floor we investigate. Find a switch. Which switch? Don’t know.
Out a window and onto the roof to get to the third floor. Aha! Private rooms, occult library. Ritual chamber with brass ward focus. We find signs that the cute young thing escaped out the back window.
Brief discussion about burning the place down. Voted down.
Send Miss Stanton with library books and big brass ball back to town while the rest of us prepare to “go below.”
We find another ghost in the cemetery and send him into the basement. Again he disappears without returning with info. Some sort of ghost trap?
In the basement we find some body parts and a mine entrance. No haghound. Mine cart with a gurney bolted to it, another WTF moment.
Thomas considers an Indiana Jones adventure on the mine cart but decides against it.
We follow the mine tracks.
Wine cellar. Headless mule. WTSF. (S is for stinky) Cody snags some wine for the road.
Side path to someone’s mausoleum. A secret entrance to the mines with a revolving stone doggy door. Duly noted.
Cody finishes off his first bottle of wine. Thomas asks for a drink and promptly breaks the second bottle against the wall. That’s what brothers are for.
A little further on we kill a zombie rattler. No joke. Then sidestep a nasty mechanical trap meant to smash the unsuspecting into flesh pudding.
What’s that up ahead, A swirling cloud of icy dark magic flying our way? Why yes it is….