|Time:||Friday – August 08, 1879 – 11:30 AM|
|Location:||Coffin Rock, CO [MAP]|
|Posse Role-Call:||Allen Jabour with his flock (Anne Wilmarth, Bernard Ackeley, Henry Noyes, Nathan Green)|
Sterling Simms (a.k.a. David Davidson)
All around Coffin Rock, members of the posse appeared in bursts of flame and smoke. Brother Allen found himself inside the Marshal’s Office, in front of the ornamental star hanging in the window. Sterling picked himself up from the dust on the floor of the barber shop. Tennsy startled many people by appearing in front of the cracked mirror behind the counter of the Six Feet Under Saloon. Yang Li arrived closest to the church, appearing in front of a mirror in the lobby of the Crystal River Hotel.
As the posse gathered at the hotel, they noticed that they had lost almost an hour during the transport, the wind was picking up, and the sky was rapidly darkening with storm clouds. They could feel the electricity in the air. The group reloaded their weapons and prepared themselves for battle. Sterling raced up to his room and returned with the parts to his energy collector. They then walked across the street to the church.
The posse listened at the doors of the church, but could hear little more than muffled chanting from inside. The doors would not open so Tennesy picked the lock. Unfortunately, the doors would not open even with the lock disengaged.
Having failed to enter through the main doors, the group decided on a different approach. Tennsy placed a lit stick of dynamite on the sill outside one of the church’s blasphemous stained glass windows. However, when it exploded, the building was left unharmed. Sterling examined the building with his luminiferous ether detection goggles and could see a wall of energy completely surrounding the church. He also noticed an energy signature coming from Yang Li’s liuye dao.
The group decided that they should fight magic with magic and that Yang Li should try to hack open the doors with his sword. However, first they decided to take a break for half a minute to assemble Sterling’s energy collector. It would be more cumbersome to move fully assembled but would be ready to use in an instant. The collector was assembled quickly and one of the church doors yielded quickly to a powerful slash from Yang Li.
Reverend Cheval was standing behind the copper altar, reading horrible, twisting words from a large leather book. He showed no signs of the wound he had received from Brother Allen earlier. The pews were filled with his robed followers, who quickly turned toward the posse. Deacon Plume screamed at the flock to kill the intruders as he drew a dagger and led them against the heroes.
While Yang Li and Tennesy kept the cultists at bay at the church doors, Brother Allen and Sterling carried the collector to the side of the building. Sterling did not believe that the collector would work without a clear line-of-sight to the altar and Cheval, the focal point of the ritual. Once they reached the side of the building, Brother Allen lit three sticks of dynamite and left them on the window sill. Whatever magic protected the church could not protect it from such an explosion. A huge hole was blown in the side of the building.
Moving quickly, Sterling activated the collector and grabbed up his trusted hoar tosser. He fired a cloud of freezing mist into the church, killing several cultists and leaving an opening for Brother Allen. Allen ran into the church, killing a cultist that rushed to attack him. Suddenly, a weird rippling appeared in the air before Reverend Cheval, who stopped chanting and began laughing in evil glee. However, just as suddenly, the rippling energy was sucked into Sterling’s energy collector. Screaming in fury, Reverend Cheval picked up an evil-looking black blade from the altar.
Meanwhile, Yang Li had killed several cultists in the vestibule, creating an opening for Tennesy to throw a couple of sticks of dynamite into the church. The resulting explosion almost wiped out the cultists entirely. Brother Allen fired upon Reverend Cheval, wounding him severely, as Yang Li killed another cultist with his liuye dao.
Then, Sterling’s energy collector unexpectedly activated once again. This time, it projected a wave of energy that ripped open space, revealing a kaleidoscope of colors. Out of this portal stepped Sterling’s secret patron! As soon as he exited, the portal snapped shut behind him and the energy collector shut down.
Sterling’s patron greeted him and congratulated him on his success. Sterling, being a bit leery, asked his patron to taste some salt (to verify he wasn’t one of the mysterious Fire People), which the man gladly did with no ill effects. He then introduced himself as Mr. Ares, finally feeling free to give Sterling his name after all this time.
As Sterling and Mr. Ares chatted, a strange figure burst into the church. He wore a pillow case mask and carried two pistols. He shouted, “I’m here for ya, Preacher! Don’t worry!” before firing upon the last remaining cultist, killing him with expert marksmanship. Oddly, the voice was recognized by Brother Allen and Yang Li as belonging to Lucius Jones, their friend who had died in St. Louis!
Instead of showing fear at the fall of his cult, Reverend Cheval’s face only showed anger and determination. He gripped his blade tightly as he began chanting in a language which hurt the ears to hear. It was at this point that Sterling asked Mr. Ares if he could help since it was not a good time to chat. Mr. Ares seemed amused by the suggestion and agreed, rapidly walking into the church toward Reverend Cheval. As Mr. Ares entered the building, Yang Li’s sword burst into flame and he felt intense hatred emanating from the blade.
Mr. Ares walked straight up to Reverend Cheval and in the blink of an eye, choked off the cult leader’s chant by grabbing him by the throat. He held Cheval up in the air for an instant before sending him hurtling through the window on the opposite side of the church. Afterwards, Mr. Ares dusted off his hands and said, “Now perhaps we can chat without distractions…”
Sterling walked up to continue his conversation with Mr. Ares as the rest of the posse, including Lucius, quickly filed out of the church to verify that Cheval was well and truly dead. (The flames around Yang Li’s sword extinguished as he left the church.) They found Cheval’s body lying in the dirt roughly 20 feet from the church with obviously broken bones. The cult leader wasn’t breathing, but Brother Allen put a bullet in his head “just to be safe.”
After seeing to Reverend Cheval, the group turned to Lucius; it was his turn to explain. He removed his mask to reveal a gaunt face with sunken eyes; he did not look well. (Then again, he probably looked terrific for a dead man! – Ed.) He told the preacher that he needed Brother Allen’s help. He had died but for some reason, he hadn’t gone to Heaven or Hell. He was stuck here on Earth as some sort of walking ghost. He could move through things if he concentrated real hard, but for the most part, he was as solid as a rock. He had thought he was still here because he had to deliver a pistol to Jonah Thurgood in Coffin Rock, so he had made his way here. Along the way, he had seen his picture on a wanted poster and thought it was best to hide his face with a mask. He made one out of a white pillow case – like the kind ghosts are suppose to wear. When he finally found Jonah and delivered the pistol, nothing changed. He didn’t know what to do. He happened to see the posse when they arrived in town and had been following them, trying to figure out how to talk to the preacher about all this. He couldn’t help but jump in the fight at church once he realized what was going on. He begged Brother Allen to help him move on to the after-life. Whenever he slept, he had horrible dreams and there were times that he heard a voice whispering terrible things for him to do. Brother Allen promised to help, but first, they needed to go speak with Sterling’s visitor.
Meanwhile, Sterling was having an interesting conversation with Mr. Ares. His patron began by once again praising his good work and saying that he hoped their relationship could continue. Mr. Ares also explained to Sterling that emotions held power just like certain devices and rituals could hold power (as he occasionally detected with his goggles). The greatest power could be derived from fear. Fear was a very strong emotion. He proposed that Sterling work for him spreading fear in the territories. In exchange, Mr. Ares could assist Sterling in gaining enough fame and fortune to rival that of famed scientist, Dr. Hellstromme.
Sterling was pondering this offer as the rest of the posse returned to the church. (Yang Li’s sword once again burst into flame.) Mr. Ares turned to the group and explained he had just offered a job to Sterling, a job with which they all could assist for great reward. He then explained about fear energy just as he had with Sterling. He was just finishing his explanation when Brother Allen broke into prayer, asking the Lord for guidance. Mr. Ares did not seem to like this and promptly told Allen to stop as he stepped toward the group. It was then that Yang Li, following urges from his sword, directed his own chi energy through it. The sword converted this energy into a bolt of flame that struck Mr. Ares.
Mr. Ares cried out as the flaming bolt struck him and then something horrible occurred. His flesh seemed to rip open and drop off, revealing Mr. Ares as a huge, red-skinned demon. The church bell began to peal as thunder rolled from above. The demon ripped off a chunk of the copper altar, quickly forming it into a huge scimitar, and advanced on the group. A melee ensued between the demon and the posse. Normal weapons had no effect on it, but it could be harmed by Yang Li’s sword. Brother Allen quickly learned to pray for God’s blessings on their weapons (i.e., smite power). As the battle continued, the demon called for Sterling to assist him, but Sterling encountered difficulties that prevented him from entering the battle for either side. Initially, he suffered from a “sudden” Charley horse that caused him to fall to the ground. Once he managed to massage the muscle spasm away, he then “accidentally” dropped Hildegarde and was forced to find it amidst the church’s rubble.
Yang Li, Lucius (armed with the preacher’s blessed Gatling pistol), and Tennesy (armed with his blessed rifle) finally defeated the demon, but not before Yang Li had been laid low by the abomination. Thankfully, Brother Allen was there to ask God to heal the warrior’s wounds. After its fall, the demon began to dissolve into a foul-smelling, black smoke. As it did, Sterling rushed up and with a loud cry of “Die, foul beast!” fired a bolt from Hildegarde into the demon’s body.
As the last of the demon dissolved, the church bell fell from the bell tower and smashed to pieces. Additionally, the thunder clouds immediately began to dissipate. Exhausted, and not fully pleased with Sterling’s actions, the posse slowly made their way out of the church.