|Time:||Friday – August 08, 1879 – 08:00 AM|
|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)
Believing the tunnels from the spirit walk were the Crooked Earth Mine, the posse decided to spend Friday investigating the mine. Unfortunately, they would do so without Tobias, who still did not feel well. As a replacement, they took the Green brothers with them. Feeling a major battle could be ahead, they also armed themselves with multiple sticks of dynamite.
As they made their way into the mountains surrounding Coffin Rock, they paused to signal Shelly Pearl. Once she arrived with her gang, they explained that almost all the deputies had been killed the night before. She and her group could return to Coffin Rock. Knowing how she had been treated by Bryce, Tennesy gave her the marshal’s badge.
After meeting with Shelly Pearl, the posse continued their journey to the Crooked Earth Mine. When they reached the mine, they found the entrance matched their vision: appearing as a tomahawk wound in the earth. As they rode closer, Sterling, Tennesy, and Yang Li heard whispers on the wind, but could not make out any words. They tied the horses outside and entered the mine.
Just inside the entrance was a large wooden elevator. The elevator could be raised or lowered via cranks in the center. As the group examined the elevator, Sterling noticed some strange wires attached to the frame and running up above. He felt that these wires were not related to the function of the elevator but were possibly some form of alarm or trap. He simply unhooked the wires without any negative effects.
The posse descended roughly one hundred feet in the elevator before reaching the bottom of the shaft. The mine tunnel was lit by a red glow from crimson veins running through the rock walls. As the group started down the passageway, they could all hear whispering voices pleading for help. Suddenly, vague, softly-glowing wisps appeared before them. The lead wisp slowly solidified into the shape of a miner (although still transparent) who asked the posse for help. The specter explained that before his death, he was the mine foreman, William Wood. He had been taken deep into the mine and killed in an unholy ritual which left his spirit trapped here. His body had been used to create an abomination of burning rock and mud, a blood man. (A creature the likes of which the posse had already encountered battling Shelly Pearl Daly.) The other spirits behind him were miners that had met the same fate.
The ghost felt that if he and the other miners could reach the blood men, they might be able to reclaim their bodies and find peace. Unfortunately, they were unable to move deeper into the mine due to the glowing veins in the walls; they could not pass them on their own. They needed living bodies to act as vessels for them in order to get to the blood men. The ghost of the foreman begged the posse for their assistance.
After a short discussion, the posse agreed and the spirits merged with their bodies. The ghost of William Wood merged with Brother Allen. The spirits of miners, Joe Bryant and Leroy Jenkins, merged with Tennesy and Sterling. Most surprisingly, the last spirit was the ghost of Yang Meng, Yang Li’s brother. He merged with his brother. No other spirits were present so the Green brothers were left alone.
As the ghosts slowly merged with their bodies, the posse felt as if they were being immersed in cold water. A chill washed over them and then memories came. Each posse member felt his skin being scalded as he was forced down into red, bubbling mud. His screams were drowned out as the mud poured down his throat. His last feeling was of searing pain washing over every inch of his body. Slowly the memories faded and the posse found themselves in the mine corridor again. Although seeming to last minutes, the memories had really only lasted the blink of an eye so the Green brothers had not noticed anything amiss.
William Wood, speaking through Brother Allen, said, “Let’s get this over with,” and the group started walking deeper into the mine (and danger). As they walked, the posse was able to converse with the spirits, although it was with their own voices. They learned that Joe Bryant and Leroy Jenkins had been forced into the mud by Reverend Cheval and his followers from the church. William Wood had been held under by blood men, as had Yang Meng.
Yang Meng spoke the most of any of the spirits; he had much to explain to his brother. While in China, he had dreams in which the family patriarch, Yang Zheng, had visited him and told him that the family blade was needed in America. It could do much good against the building evil. He was haunted by these dreams for many weeks but told no one. He was already known to have a vivid imagination and as the youngest son, he knew no one in the family would believe him. Eventually, he simply took the blade one night and left for America. His travels eventually led him to Coffin Rock where he found employment at the Crooked Earth Mine. It was here that he was tested and found wanting. He had failed to defeat the evil and had lost the sword. However, the sword was still on him when he was killed and he believed that it had become part of the created blood man. It was still possible for Yang Li to retrieve the sword and restore the family honor!
Eventually, the tunnel opened up into a large cavern. Floating in the air above a pit of magma and boiling mud, held by a glowing field of blue energy, was the earth spirit, Tacheene. Two blood men stood nearby, slowly pushing a man into the pit. Another blood man stood between the posse and the pit. The group also noticed a man dressed as a preacher standing on a ledge over-looking the pit.
Upon seeing the preacher, Leroy Jenkins (via Sterling) suddenly shouted, “Reverend Cheval – you bastard!” and with the mighty battle cry of “Leroy Jenkins!” Sterling teleported himself and Brother Allen to the ledge. Once there, Allen fired his shotgun, severely wounding Cheval. His face contorted in a grimace of pain and anger, Reverend Cheval ordered his blood men to slay the intruders before jumping off the ledge into a burst of flame and disappearing.
As the blood men moved forward to do Cheval’s bidding, the spirits of the slain miners burst forth from the posse. They immediately merged with the blood men’s bodies, but were unable to stop them. However, as the blood men engaged the posse, it was clear that the spirits were having an effect. The abominations were not as quick or resilient as the blood man the posse had previously fought. Unfortunately, the blood men were quickly joined by another that emerged from the pit, unhampered by any ghost.
The fight was brutal and at times, extremely worrying, since the entire posse was armed with dynamite and the blood men were composed of hot mud and magma. The posse eventually destroyed all of the blood men (allowing the spirits of the miners to find rest), but not before paying a price: Ed Green, loyal follower of Brother Allen, was killed.
The battle over, Yang Li spent a few moments searching through the remains of one of the blood men while Brother Allen called upon the Lord to heal the posse’s wounds. Inside the crumbling exterior of rock and mud, Yang Li found his family’s sword, a liuye dao, lying next to his brother’s skeletal remains. Brother Allen said a quick prayer over the body of Ed Greene before the group turned toward their attention toward the captured spirit, Tacheene.
Tacheene thanked the posse for their assistance. It explained that destroying the blood men had negated much of the power Cheval had over it. However, it could still not escape Cheval’s mystical hold. It further explained that Cheval had tapped into its power to transport away earlier and offered to open a portal for the posse to follow him. The group agreed and a burning ring rose from the pit. Inside, the posse could see Reverend Cheval organizing his followers at the church, but the image quickly flickered to show the inside of the Jewel Theatre, a splintered view of the Six Feet Under Saloon, and the interiors of other buildings in Coffin Rock. The earth spirit issued a groaning apology to the group; it was too weak to perfectly control the portal’s destination. The portal would take them to Coffin Rock, but the exact destination was unknown. The spirit was able to detect that Cheval was starting a very powerful ritual and must be stopped quickly or the town would be doomed. Fearing that the ritual would be completed before the group could ride back to Coffin Rock from the mine, the posse had no choice but try the portal. Just before stepping through, Brother Allen ordered Nathan Green to return to town with the horses and his brother’s body; the preacher would exact the Lord’s vengeance on Cheval for Ed’s death.