|Time:||Thursday – August 07, 1879 – 12:00 PM|
|Location:||Coffin Rock, CO [MAP]|
|Posse Role-Call:||Allen Jabour with his flock (Anne Wilmarth, Bernard Ackeley, Ed Green, Henry Noyes, Nathan Green)|
Sterling Simms (a.k.a. David Davidson)
As Brother Allen, Tennesy, and Yang Li enjoyed lunch at the Six Feet Under, they were joined by Sterling. He had completed his latest invention! He explained it and his dream that had revealed it to him over lunch.
After lunch, the group returned to the town’s abandoned barber shop. Once there, Sterling took his turn to view the dark watcher in the mirror. After a short discussion, the posse decided to try to find this man on Coffin Rock. Brother Allen broke off a piece of the mirror to take with them, but once it was removed from the whole, the background image of Coffin Rock was lost.
The group was winding its way on horseback through the mountain passes when they suddenly heard a woman’s scream. They rode as quickly as possible toward the sound. (Unfortunately, none of them had the Riding skill so a fast trot was the best they could manage. – Ed.) They soon found themselves in a small valley where an attractive young woman was being attacked by a large humanoid rock monster! The creature stood over 7 feet tall. Its eyes were molten flame. It seemed to be made of living rock and hot mud.
The group wasted no time in engaging the monstrosity. Their weapons, combined with the woman’s own Colt Peacemaker, managed to lay the creature low. After the battle, the posse introduced themselves to the woman, whom they learned was Shelly Pearl Daly. She was the daughter of Coffin Rock’s founder, John Daly. She had been invited to Coffin Rock by her father but had arrived after his death. Marshal Bryce told her that her father had turned over the town to him, but Shelly Pearl knew from her father’s letters that he had never sold any deeds to the man. When she confronted Bryce with this information, he had tried to kill her. She escaped into the hills where she had formed a gang with Coffin Rock women that had suffered under the Marshal and his deputies. She was happy to learn of Bryce’s death at the hands of the posse.
When the topic turned to the rock man, Shelly explained that her group had occasionally met such creatures in the mountain passes. They were very dangerous and would mindlessly attack anyone they encountered. She had accidentally stumbled upon this one while scouting for a new camp site and been thrown by her horse before she could ride away. She was very grateful to the characters for their help. Before leaving, she told them a way to signal her with gun shots should they ever need her again.
The posse then continued their journey to the top of Coffin Rock. Eventually, the ground turned steep and treacherous, forcing the group to leave their horses tied to some sparse trees. Upon reaching the summit, the posse found a cave which dropped down into the rock. Wisps of smoke rose from the cave mouth next to a crude rope ladder that provided easy access below.
Wary of any traps, the posse called into the cave and were greeted by Indian shaman who stepped into view. He introduced himself as Laughs at Darkness and thanked them for responding to his sendings. He had great matters to discuss with them and asked them to join him in his kiva (the underground chamber).
The posse climbed down the rope ladder to find themselves in a small cave. Laughs at Darkness asked them to sit with him on a stone bench that lined one wall. A fire burned in the center of the chamber, filling the room with pungent herb-scented smoke. As a sign of peace, Laughs at Darkness passed around a long pipe. As they smoked, Laughs at Darkness explained that they had been chosen as champions in a war with a great evil. The events in the White Man’s town were a small, but significant skirmish in this war, and he had been sent to give them the spiritual tools to succeed.
At this point, Brother Allen interrupted to ask who had sent Laughs at Darkness. He was not pleased to learn that the shaman had been brought to Coffin Rock by visions from Coyote, his spirit guide. In fact, Allen refused to hear any more from “the devil-worshipping heathen,” and climbed back out of the kiva. Laughs at Darkness tried to present the preacher with an eagle’s feather as a token of peace before he left, but Brother Allen would have nothing to do with the shaman’s pagan religion and warned the rest of the posse that they should leave as well if they valued their immortal souls. Sterling, Tennesy, and Yang Li decided to finish hearing what Laughs at Darkness had to say, leaving Brother Allen to watch their horses.
Once Brother Allen left, Laughs at Darkness warned the others that before he could share any more, they must first pass a dangerous test. Many Indian braves had been humbled by this test, and he would not think less of them if they wished to leave. They all chose to be tested. Laughs at Darkness threw a handful of herbs into the fire pit which flared with a mauve flame. He then laughed and told them that they had passed the test!
The smoke from the flames quickly filled the chamber and as Sterling, Tennesy, and Yang Li breathed the fumes, their spirits were catapulted from their bodies. They floated above Coffin Rock before flying to an cave entrance in a mountainside. Red rock around the opening made it look like a tomahawk wound in the earth. An eerie red glow emanated from the depths.
The men’s spirits dived into the cave, passing through numerous tunnels before reaching a large cavern. A humanoid creature made of rough red stone floated in the air on the far side of the chamber. It was surrounded by a glowing field of blue energy which seemed to hold its arms painfully outspread. Large gaping wounds in its body poured magma like blood into a pit below.
The creature’s flaming gaze rested on the men’s spirits as they approached. The group suddenly heard a rumbling voice in their minds which said, “I am called Tacheene and I must ask for your help. The land around this place is under my protection. I have been here since the earth was young. Some time ago the thing you call a mine was begun, and deep wounds were dug into the earth. Then a man came with magic unfamiliar to me. I do not know how he found me but he called upon the magic of the sky, my nemesis, and trapped me. I cannot touch the earth and so I only have a fraction of my power. The man drains my power and uses it for his own dark purposes. I know not what they are but I ask you, please, find me beneath this mine of yours and free me. Do not let one of your kind twist my power so. Help me and I will be generous in my reward.”
Finishing his plea, the creature seemed to shudder with pain and the men’s spirits were sent hurtling back to their bodies. They groggily rose from the stone bench to find that the fire had burned low; only the embers remained to light the cave. Laughs at Darkness was nowhere to be seen. They left the chamber and joined Brother Allen with the horses. Hours had passed since they had entered the shaman’s kiva and they had to hurry to return to town before nightfall. As they rode back down the mountain trails, they filled Allen in on their experiences (describing Tacheene as a captured angel in order to keep things civil).
They reached Coffin Rock just as the sun was setting. The group grabbed a quick dinner at the Six Feet Under Saloon before heading to Brother Allen’s meeting at the cemetery.