Clockwork-1888

Clockwork 1888 Session 77

Clockwork 1888: Tuesday, March 26, 1889
Evgenia drew her Winchester as she got to Bartley and fired. She winged him but the man rounded the corner onto another street. Archibald ran up to where the man had dropped something and picked it up. It was a crumpled business card for Synn Pharmacy, complete with address.

Dracona didn’t pause to see what it was but ran past and up to the corner where the man had turned. Getting there, she looked in vain for the man in the crowded street. Fredryck ran up and Bartley joined them at the intersection, eyeing the crowd intently.

“There!” Fredryck called as he spotted the man darting into yet another crowded cross street. They made chase but by the time they got to the cross street he was nowhere to be seen. They waited and watched the crowded thoroughfare but didn’t see him again. Archibald caught up to them. “This is what he dropped,” he informed as he showed them the crumpled business card.

“Most would not be so careless,” Evgenia informed, “especially while trying to murder somebody.” “A trap,” Fredryck surmised. “I don’t think we can assume anything else,” Archibald agreed. “So it’s to Synn Pharmacy we go,” Dracona implied. “To see what kind of trap they’ve laid for us,” Bartley concluded.

Even a city such as Greenwich had a poor sector. And any city as old as it had parts of town that were no longer in use. Synn Pharmacy was in such a sector. Before arriving, they gathered some local information. One of the few stores on the street still in business, Synn Pharmacy was founded by Jonathan Synn in 1855 and sold to Malcolm Harvey in 1880.

As was typical, Synn Pharmacy was on the ground floor and the pharmacist and his family lived above. The pharmacy was a small store that filled prescriptions and sold soda, ice cream, and sandwiches. It was a quiet little place stuck between a curio shop, only open by appointment, and a music store that had a tendency to close early. The local rumor was that the Harveys went on vacation two weeks ago so others were hired to fill in for them.

Approaching the pharmacy, they noticed a familiar face through the windows. Randy Irvine, the marketing director from Titan Amusements, was apparently meeting a young woman for drinks at the Synn soda fountain. She wasn’t a Hispanic woman so she was not immediately suspect in Drew’s murder. But, she and Randy seemed to be having a quiet conversation at the soda counter over their drinks.

The pharmacist seemed busy behind the counter of the raised platform that afforded him a view of the entire store. Having surveyed the scenario, they decided to let the trap play out. Dracona, Bartley and Archibald went inside while Evgenia and Fredryck stayed outside flanking the entrance.

As they entered, all eyes looked at them. Then they saw Randy and the soda jerk make eye contact and Randy nodded in the direction of the new guests. They easily recognized that he had signaled the soda jerk that they had arrived.

Dracona went down one of the middle aisles to browse while Bartley and Archibald went to two of the open stools to the left of Randy at the soda counter. “Randy,” Archibald feigned surprise as he and Bartley sat down, “fancy meeting you here.” “Why, fine gentlemen, a surprise it is,” Randy feigned back. “You’re the private investigators that were at my place of employ yesterday, right?”

“Nice of you to remember us,” Bartley answered. “And who is your lady friend?” Archibald inquired. “Well, excuse my manners. This is Miss Ariel,” Randy introduced. “Miss Ariel, this is … I don’t believe I caught your names? “Archibald Barisol,” Archibald introduced, accentuating his British accent, “and this is my associate, Bartley Vautrain.”

“Pleased to make the acquaintance of you both,” she answered nervously. “Can I get you gentlemen something to drink?” the soda jerk inquired. Looking at him, his name badge said “Milton.” He didn’t look like a Milton. Still they ordered; a cherry phosphate for Archibald and a Dr. Pepper for Bartley.

As Milton got the bubbly drinks, Bartley saw him put something else into them. Delivering the drinks, Milton looked at the price list posted behind him for a minute. “Five cents each,” he requested. Archibald was feeling generous and put 10 cents on the counter to cover both drinks.

Randy pulled out his pocket watch and looked at it. “I have to go,” he informed. “Pleasure meeting you,” Ariel said as she got up, “but we must be going.” “Yes, nice seeing you and good luck in your investigation,” Randy agreed. “I should get back to the office. There’s no telling when the boss will return.” The two of them got up and walked hastily out the door.

Unfortunately, Evgenia and Fredryck met them just outside, blocking their egress. “Randy,” Evgenia said as she stopped him just outside, “fancy meeting you here.” “Yes, I saw your associates inside,” Randy informed. “If you don’t mind I have to get my lady friend home and I have to get back to work. I’m sure Jean-Paul will be back at any moment,” he informed.

Evgenia could tell that he was not expecting Jean-Paul to ever come back. “We just have a few questions,” Evgenia stalled. “And I can take your lady friend home,” Fredryck offered. “I dare say I hardly know you well enough to put her safety in your hands,” Randy objected. “You have little to fear,” Fredryck answered, “I’m engaged to be married so she’ll be quite safe with me.”

“I must say that I’d love to stay and chat but we really must be going,” Randy objected. “No, wait,” Ariel interrupted, “it’ll be okay if he takes me home.” She smiled slyly at Randy and nudged him with her elbow. Fredryck noticed and didn’t like the impression he got when Randy agreed.

As that was occurring, Bartley questioned the soda jerk on the ingredients of their drinks. Dracona had already left the aisle she was in and came up behind Randy and Ariel in the doorway of the pharmacy. Archibald noticed the conversation starting outside and thought he’d best assist. He got up and was about to leave his drink, untouched, on the counter. At that point, the soda jerk stepped back and drew a shotgun from behind the curtains under the counter.

Archibald had taken one step when the shotgun blast, both barrels, obliterated his drink and the wall beyond. Ariel shrieked at the sound of the blast and insisted on leaving immediately. But Fredryck grabbed her, refused to let her leave. At the same time, Evgenia shoved a startled Randy against the outside wall of the pharmacy. The pharmacist dove to the floor of his raised area, apparently not willing to risk life or limb.

The inside of the pharmacy became riddled with gunfire as Archibald and Bartley made quick work of the hostile soda jerk. Fredryck, Evgenia and Dracona kept Randy and Ariel pinned against the wall outside, in spite of their efforts and protests. The pharmacist crawled through the back door and escaped the battle altogether.

When it was over, they moved inside and began interrogations of Randy and Ariel. Randy claimed that he knew nothing of what was transpiring or who the crazed soda jerk was. They saw through his lying and searched him. He had a note with some cryptic letters and numbers on it.

“What’s this?” Fredryck questioned. “I don’t know,” Randy insisted. With a little more prying and threats, they learned that it was some kind of clue to where Levesque was being held. Randy apparently learned that Nero had taken Levesque and figured that they were probably going to kill him. It didn’t bother Randy because then he’d move up in the company, possibly even take it over. He claimed that all they asked him to do was to keep an eye out for strangers because Levesque had sent a telegram before they got to him.

“He’s lying,” Ariel whispered. “Shut up you stupid wench,” Randy snapped as Fredryck restrained him. “What do you know?” Archibald inquired. “Randy told me that he was involved from the start,” she informed, “his way to move up in the company. He knows exactly what the note is. See, Randy can’t remember where the train car is. It’s his reminder about where Nero and the others are.” Randy threatened her, again, but with him restrained, she started talking.

“The guy behind the soda fountain was Travis Bane. Nero was playing the pharmacist but he really knows nothing about it. He was just giving anything to the people who came in for medicine. I can tell you who is probably at the train car if you will promise to keep my name out of this mess.” They agreed.

Ariel claimed that she was only involved as a cleaning lady. Nero, the pharmacist, brought her in after the pharmacy was taken over and although she saw that they had killed people, she wasn’t directly involved in any killing. She admitted that she could see that such things had gone on but dared not cross Nero. They asked to see her handbag and she willingly turned it over to them. Inside they found unusual items, items that Bartley recognized as spell components.

“Look,” Ariel insisted, “they have the dead people at the train station. I have to go to a private train car every day, where bodies are kept, and clean so that they don’t wreak. Yes, I use a bit of magic to do it but I’m still just a glorified maid. And, Nero let me stay upstairs while I was working for him. He said it was to keep up appearances.”

“I can tell you that your friend was still alive, yesterday. If he is who they have at in the train car, I saw him and he was not in the best shape but he was still alive. I can take you there, help if you want, but you have to agree to let me go.” “Nero will kill you,” Randy informed, “and you know who he’ll send to do it.”

Tired of Randy’s interruptions, they knocked him out. Bartley began tying him up while the others continued with Ariel. They figured they would leave Randy behind, tied up and locked upstairs at the pharmacy, while they went to rescue Levesque. They’d return for him afterward.

Archibald negotiated to hear her additional information before agreeing to let her go. She agreed and offered additional information. “I can take you to the train car, tell you more about what to expect there. Nero will probably be there with Kevin Thorn. No relation to me. My name has an ‘e’ on the end.” She described Thorn and her description matched that of the man that had been watching them in the restaurant, the one that had stabbed Bartley as he ran by.

Then she mentioned Mattie, Matt Kaye, a man who was apparently fond of dead people. She informed that he could make them move, again. The last time she was there, there were 10 bodies in the train car. “And then there’s the other one.”

They could see she chilled just thinking about him. “This guy is big, probably seven and a half or eight feet tall. He looks like a skeleton with his skin just stretched across it.” She looked at them. “This is going to sound strange but, this big guy has a tail like a scorpion. Nero calls him…”

“Morbius,” Fredryck and Dracona interrupted. “Yes,” she was surprised that they knew his name but accepted it just the same. “Morbius does anything that Nero tells him to. I think Morbius is some kind of demon,” she informed. “Actually, he’s a devil,” Dracona informed. Still, with Randy secured and unconscious, the closed the pharmacy and headed for the train station.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 76

Clockwork 1888: Monday, March 25, through Tuesday, March 26, 1889
They arrived with time to get to their hotel, drop their bags in their rooms, get breakfast and catch a carriage to their appointment at Titan Amusements. At Titan Amusements, the receptionist instructed them to wait in the John Henry meeting room on the second floor. A security guard escorted them so that they didn’t get lost.

The John Henry meeting room seemed named for the painting on the wall, an impressionist landscape by American painter John Henry Twachtman. There was a glass pitcher of ice water and eight glasses on a stand near the door. The table was round with only four chairs around it.

At 10:05 a woman entered the room. She was wearing a sensible dress, has her blonde hair up in a bun, and was wearing glasses. She stood six feet tall, most of it leg, and couldn’t weigh more than 130 lbs. She didn’t introduce herself, and simply closed the door behind her and began the meeting.

“Thank you all for coming,” she says. "I know that you have come a long way, that you have a lot of work to do and not much time to do it in. So, I’ll be brief. Three weeks ago, on March 4, one of our interns was found dead in Old Greenwich.”

“His name was Drew McIntyre. He was sixteen years old and an aspiring advertiser. He worked closely with Cody Kendrick for the last six months. McIntyre started working here eight months ago." She turned a page in her notebook to continue.

“Don’t you believe in introducing yourself?” Fredryck interrupted. The woman seemed surprised at his interruption. “You’re the private detectives from out of town that Jean Paul hired to look into the murder of Drew McIntyre, aren’t you?” “Yes,” Fredryck answered. “We’re supposed to see Doctor Jean Paul Levesque and I’m pretty certain that you are not him.”

“I don’t know of a Doctor Jean Paul Levesque. Jean Paul Levesque is the owner of Titan Amusements and I’m his personal secretary, Torrie Rhodes. My notes indicate that you are a ‘plausibly deniable group of investigators’ hired out of Jean Paul’s own pocket to find McIntyre’s murderer.”

“So when do we meet Jean Paul Levesque?” “Mr. Levesque is not available at this time,” she informed. “If I can continue, I have the case information to pass on to you.” Fredryck indicated for her to continue.

“Drew was an immigrant from Great Britain who was living at a boarding house on Chapel Lane. The boarding house is run by Charlie and Beth James. Here is the address.” She handed a quarter page to Fredryck and continued.

“Two of the other tenants are Paul Kennedy, a deputy, and Mickie Garcia, a waitress. There are three others, but there aren’t any notes on them. You should talk to Kennedy. There’s something interesting about his eyes.”

“McIntyre was dating Ashley Michaels. Her father is a short order cook. Her address is here,” she handed another quarter page to Fredryck. “Are there any questions?”

They could tell that she asked for questions out of courtesy and habit. But everything she knew about the situation was in her notebook. “Can we get a copy of your notebook?” Fredryck inquired. “I suppose I could write all of the information for you,” she answered. “We’ll wait. Perhaps Jean Paul Levesque will become available while we wait?”

Exasperated, she answered, “Jean Paul has been missing since Tuesday. I’ve been using his notes and taking his meetings for him. I don’t know where my boss is. I’m not overly concerned, however, as he often disappears for days or even weeks at a time without advising me. I’ve put up with this for three years and I’ve gotten quite adept at keeping other executives from knowing about his disappearances. The business must go on,” she informed.

“We’d like to talk to Cody Kendrick,” Fredryck informed. “Is he here?” “He should be but we can check with the receptionist to see,” she informed as she led them out of the meeting room. The receptionist indicated that Cody had shown up for work so they followed Torrie to his office. “Cody,” Torrie said after a knock on his open door, “these are detectives investigating Drew’s death.”

Cody told them that Drew was a hard worker and had an inventive and creative outlook. It’s been difficult trying to replace him. He knew that Drew dated a girl named Ashley. He talked about her often. They had met at a Christmas party and were already talking marriage.

He indicated that in February, for St. Valentine’s Day, Drew bought three gifts for his girlfriend. He’d been saving for months to be able to afford them. Drew was really happy the last time Cody saw him. He said that he was going to get some information that might lead to his real parents. Cody remembered thinking that, for someone without a family, Drew’s life was really going well. When asked about Drew’s office, Cody informed that Drew was an intern and used the sparse table in the office as his “desk.”

“Who else worked with Drew?” Fredryck asked. “Well, on occasion he had to work with the Marketing Director, Randy Christopher Irvine,” Cody mentioned as he got up to take them to meet him. They followed Cody down the hall where he knocked on the closed door that had the “Marketing Director” sign on it. Hearing a “Come in” response, he ushered them into the office.

Cody introduced them as the detectives investigating Drew’s death and then left them with Randy. “I understand why Jean Paul is doing this,” Randy started. “Jean Paul eats, breathes, and sleeps this company. He doesn’t have any interests that don’t involve Titan Amusements.” “Did he tell you where he was going?” Evgenia inquired.

“Wherever he is, it’s for the good of the company,” Randy continued. “I’ve worked here for seven years and I know that he believes that there are two priorities in life: business and family. Whichever one you choose is the one you excel at. He respects people who choose family, but he promotes people who choose business.” “What did you know about Drew McIntyre?” Fredryck asked.

“Not much,” Randy answered. “He sat in Cody’s office and did his work well. He seemed a likable guy but I didn’t really know him.” They got the impression that Randy was the ambitious type that would schmooze the boss to improve his position in the company. Mingling with a young intern was probably not part of his agenda.

With nothing else coming to mind, they got the copy of Torrie’s notes on the case and went to check out the boarding house. The James’s boarding house was a three-story house. Knocking on the front door, a man in his 40s with dark hair and a boyish face answered the door, introducing himself as Charlie James. Inviting them in, he introduced them to Beth James, his wife of twenty years.

Charlie and Beth were kind and friendly. They inherited their house and found it was too big for them to be able to afford. They shared it with others who needed a roof over their heads but could not afford to live alone. Although they rent month to month with only a handshake agreement, only Drew of their current tenants had not been with them for over a year.

The couple never successfully had any children. They could tell that Charlie really cared about the people living in his building, considered them the family that he and Beth were never able to have. She donated time to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and tended to mother the tenants in the boarding house. There were three bedrooms on the second floor, and two bedrooms in the divided attic. Drew McIntyre stayed in one of the attic rooms.

They were sad and upset that Drew was dead. They had taken it upon themselves to collect his belongings and find his next of kin. They sent letters to the Knightsbridge Orphan Asylum and to Matthew Reed in London, England, but were still waiting for a reply. They remembered that a reporter named Kevin Thorn visited McIntyre on the weekend before his death. They described the man and told them that Thorn’s interest in McIntyre was personal, not professional. They didn’t know what it was about, just that it was family business.

Charlie took them upstairs to Drew’s Bedroom. They had cleaned up the bedroom and boxed things up to send to Matthew Reed in London, England but offered to let them go through them. Inside Drew’s belongings they found a series of notes and letters in a shoe box.

The notes and letters revealed that Drew used to be a ward of the Knightsbridge Orphan Asylum in London, England. He stowed away on a ship and came to America seeking fortune. He considered himself to have found it. He invested his extra money in the Greenwich Hospital. His clothing and other belongings were meager and ordinary and they could tell that Drew was thrifty and spent money more on other people than himself.

They were in luck because Paul Kennedy was off duty and in his room. Paul was a 23 year-old deputy with the Greenwich Police Department. “What do you know about the death of Drew McIntyre?” Fredryck began his inquiry of the deputy. The deputy responded by explaining that he was proud of his skill with his firearm, even though he had never used it outside of the firing range. Deputy Kennedy was loyal to Greenwich and to the citizens.

The deputy’s eyes were a bit glassy and he had a tendency to look just over and behind the people he was talking to. Most people wouldn’t notice it but Fredryck and Evgenia did. “We want to hear about Drew McIntyre,” Fredryck asked, again. The deputy claimed that he wasn’t comfortable talking about it. “He seems under the influence of some kind of mind control that won’t let him discuss McIntyre’s death,” Evgenia whispered.

Frustrated, Fredryck turned and withdrew the Reliquary of the Cross of St. Andrew. Whispering a prayer he turned and touched the deputy with it. For a moment the glassy look faded and the deputy admitted, “Look, I was willing to bend the law for people who technically break the law, but did so with the best of intentions. That was especially true if I thought they had done no real wrong. And I’ll admit that I kept Drew, Jeff, and Lance out of jail many times.”

But then the glaze returned and he again claimed that he wasn’t comfortable talking about Drew’s death. He said that he had to go as he reached for his coat and cap to go to work. They thought it best to let him go rather than pursue the line of questioning. So, they thanked him for his time and exited his room. After all, if he really felt threatened, he might call for additional police and that probably wouldn’t go well.

In the hallway, Charlie explained that it was Kennedy who found McIntyre’s body. “Of all the things he was prepared for as a police officer, finding the dead body of a friend and roommate was not one of them.” “Apparently so,” Evgenia agreed, keeping the knowledge of the deputy’s being mentally controlled to themselves. “Can we talk to the other residents?” Fredryck inquired. Charlie led them to the next room, Mickie Garcia’s room.

Mickie Garcia was a 20 year-old brunette who lived at the James’s Boarding House. She moved to Greenwich from Harrison, New York, when she was 15. She had since worked a series of odd jobs taking care of children, cooking, cleaning, etc. Currently, she had 15 families that she cleaned for, going to three to five houses per day. She loved Drew and was upset when he broke up with her. But, she hoped that he would be happier with Ashley.

They could tell that Mickie liked McIntyre but she liked him more than he liked her. Before he got together with Ashley last Christmas, Drew and Mickie dated. And, on a few occasions they shared a bedroom. McIntyre got her a box of chocolates for St. Valentine’s Day last month. He told her that he was glad that they were still friends even though he was dating Ashley.

Mickie was open about her relationship and her feelings for McIntyre. She seemed to know that keeping such things secret from police – and she considered private detectives and police to be the same thing- would only cast suspicion on herself. Out of Mickie’s earshot, Charlie confirmed that the others pretended not to notice the continued relationship between Drew and Mickie. But, with Drew dead they whispered about it when Ashley wasn’t around.

The last boarder on the second floor of the James’s Boarding House was 18 year old Jillian Burchill. She, too, was in and they spoke with her. When she was 12, her little sister was born, and her parent’s attention shifted to the new baby 100 percent. She left home at the age of 15. They could tell that the events caused her to carry a chip on her shoulder since. She seemed to believe that the world was a harsh, cold, unfeeling place unfit for human habitation. Very little in her recent life has suggested otherwise.

One of the exceptions was Drew McIntyre. Drew’s constant optimism and upbeat attitude toward life awakened within her a happiness that she hadn’t felt since childhood. She confided, “I was the one who convinced Drew to help me lose my virginity at a point when I felt that I could actually look forward to the rest of my life. And, now he is dead.”

They could tell that Jillian was smitten with McIntyre’s boyish charm and optimism. She adored the way he considered himself a success even while living in the slums with the rest of them. It seemed that when she talked of him, she could believe that life wasn’t as bad as she made it out to be.

Quietly, Jillian confided that she never told the others that she and McIntyre spent a few nights together. At the time, he was dating Mickie. And, more recently he was with Ashley. And as much as Jillian liked him, she didn’t want to hurt the others. They could tell that she considered Drew more than just a friend.

“Drew got me a gold necklace for St. Valentine’s Day last month,” she whispered. “I only wear it when I’m at work, or otherwise away from the others in the house. Please,” she begged, “don’t to tell anyone. I swear that, although I was jealous, I wasn’t responsible for his murder.” They believed she was telling the truth and concluded their questioning.

Escorted to the attic room opposite Drew’s, Charlie introduced them to Jeff London. Jeff was around Drew McIntyre’s age and the two apparently spent a lot of time together. Along with Lance Murdoch, the three considered themselves a modern Three Musketeers, wandering the community helping people in need, assisting the police, and generally watching the neighborhood for crime to report to the authorities. He helped children find lost pets and old ladies cross the road.

Jeff seemed to fancy himself a bit of a junior detective and had done some snooping around concerning his best friend’s death. He had found out that someone from the orphanage where Drew grew up came to visit Drew on February 28. Paul knew the person that visited Drew, but now he claims not to remember. Paul just said that it was private, family business and none of their concern.

Jeff also knew that a woman with long dark hair and Hispanic complexion was in Drew’s bedroom on the night of the 3rd, the night he was murdered. She wore a tight black dress with a slit up one side and a gun belt. He hid from her and didn’t know if she took anything. Paul said he’d look into it, but nothing came of it.

Jeff seemed willing to follow them and help them in any way he could. He wanted to learn what he could from “real” investigators. “I think you would be best right here,” Evgenia assured him. “Keep an eye out for the man from the orphanage and when we return you can let us know if he’s reappeared.” “We’ve got to talk to the police, now,” Fredryck added as they left.

At the Greenwich police station they were taken to Stan Richter, the detective in charge of the case. Introducing themselves as private detectives investigating McIntyre’s murder, he shared the information he had. “McIntyre was found dead at 5:15 AM on the morning of April 19th by Deputy Kennedy,” Stan informed looking at papers in his file, “near the intersection of Lockwood Road and Hearthstone Drive.

“His face had been mutilated and his throat cut. Deputy Kennedy confirmed the identity based on McIntyre’s belongings as the face was beyond recognition. It was determined that there was not enough blood on the scene to confirm that it was the location where the murder took place. So, I believe that McIntyre was killed somewhere nearby and his body left here to be found.”

“Charlie James volunteered to try and contact McIntyre’s next of kin. He also took responsibility for McIntyre’s belongings. McIntyre was put to rest by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church,” he concluded. Stan seemed helpful as it was still an open investigation. He asked that they keep him informed of anything that they find out.

“Did you check out the Hispanic woman that Jeff said was seen with Drew the night of the murder?” Fredryck asked. “He seems to have been the only one to have seen her and I’d guess there’s not many Hispanic people in Greenwich.” “I have no leads on her, the man who claimed to be from a newspaper or the orphanage, either,” Stan informed.

Fredryck turned and left. “Thank you for your time, Detective. We’ll keep you informed,” Evgenia closed. Fredryck seemed irritated as they left the building. “No wonder Levesque hired us to find this kid’s murderer. The local police are incompetent,” Fredryck angrily told them outside. “Perhaps,” Bartley said, “but we should talk to the girlfriend, the most recent girlfriend, of the deceased.”

They joked as they traveled about Drew’s activity with his female associates. “All within the eight months he’s been here,” Bartley said. “A real charmer giving each of them something for Valentine’s Day,” Evgenia pointed out. “It’s no wonder that whoever killed him cut up his face so that he was unrecognizable.”

“Perhaps we should have inquired if Mrs. James was one of his conquests, too,” Fredryck added. “That would make Mr. James a prime suspect,” Archibald surmised. “I’d guess she was too old for his taste,” Dracona advised. “Cody said that Drew bought three gifts for his girlfriend,” Evgenia recalled. “With candy and jewelry for the other two, I’d guess that Ashely got the third gift.”

At the Michaels home, Victoria Michaels, Ashley’s mother, answered the door. When they said they were investigating Drew’s death, she let them in but asked that they be gentle with Ashley. Ashley’s parents, Steve and Victoria, hope that she will one day love again. But, until then they plan to be supportive and protective of her. Her parents tried to protect her from anything upsetting, but also thought that talking about Drew’s death, and helping find the killer, will help her cope with his premature death.

Ashley was 15 years old and was traumatized by Drew McIntyre’s death. Talking with Ashley, they could tell that she considered him to be her One True Love. With his death, she already thought that her life was over and resigned herself to die an old maid. She was very melodramatic about everything and cried at the drop of a hat.

Ashley knew that a man named Kevin had visited Drew on the 28th and that they were going to meet again. Kevin claimed to know who Drew’s real parents were, but wanted to be sure that Drew was the man he was looking for. They were supposed to meet at Bruce Park on March 5th. She didn’t know Kevin’s last name, or how to contact him.

They surmised that Ashley didn’t know that Drew was cheating on her and found that Ashley considered Mickie and Jillian friends of hers. If anyone had would have suggested Drew cheated on her, she probably would not have believed it. And, McIntyre got Ashley flowers for St. Valentine’s Day last month. A dozen roses that Ashley claimed she didn’t deserve.

With a full day behind them, they returned to their hotel and turned in for the evening. On Tuesday morning, March 26, they were having breakfast and discussing their plans for the day. Fredryck noticed a man at another table that had been watching and listening to them. The man matched the description that Charlie had given them of the reporter that had visited Drew. “Hey,” Fredryck called across the restaurant to the man, “Why don’t you just join us?”

With that the man dropped some money on his table, got up and quickly left the restaurant. Not to be ignored, Fredryck got up and followed the man. “There he is,” Fredryck said as he spotted the man and ran after him. The others quickly followed Fredryck but Bartley went the other way and took a parallel route, hoping to intercept the observer.

The man was fast but Fredryck was able to keep an eye on him as he darted through the streets and between people and carriages. The man maintained his head start as he went along, trying to lose the tail he’d picked up. Finally, he turned a corner and saw Bartley coming toward him.

Charging forward, the man drew a dagger and took a swing at Bartley. The dagger hit but Bartley had drawn his sword cane and returned the blow with one of his own as the man continued to run past. Bartley turned to give chase as the others got nearer. Approaching, Archibald noticed that the man had dropped something on the ground.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 75

Clockwork 1888: Wednesday, March 6, through Monday, March 25, 1889

Arriving in Tuscon just after noon, they asked around and found out that Tom Jeffords was officially working as a deputy sheriff in Tombstone, AZ. Talking to the Tuscon sheriff, however, revealed that since the downturn in Tombstone’s population with the end of the silver rush, Jeffords had been spending more of his time at his homestead near Owlhead Buttes where he was prospecting for gold in the Tortolita Mountains. The sheriff gave them directions and estimated a 4 hour trip on horseback.

It was close to six when they arrived at the Jeffords homestead. Riding toward it, a shotgun blast rang out and the buckshot whizzed overhead. Archibald managed to convince him that they were there to help his old friend, Cochise, return to rest. Inviting them in, Jeffords informed, “Can’t be too careful. The last people that came up here, a couple of Germans a few months ago, tortured and beat me to learn the location of Cochise’s hidden tomb. It was too much for this frail body to resist and I’m ashamed to say that I gave up the location of my friend’s final resting place.”

“Well, the Germans dragged his spirit from its grave to do their bidding,” Fredryck informed. Once the situation was explained to Jeffords, he was happy to tell them where the grave is and even volunteered to guide them there. He really wanted to set right what had gone wrong. He explained that Cochise’s spirit was strong and that an Apache shaman once told him that if Cochise’s spirit was ever summoned, a ceremony could be performed at the site to return the spirit to rest.

Tom did not reveal that to the Germans. But, he had a copy of the ritual under a loose floorboard in his room. He could perform the ritual if they let him go along with them.
Tom also told them that the Germans had moved on to San Francisco. He called in some favors, after he was beaten, to find out who they were. Their names were Heinz Ruchtbert and Klaus Obersein. Heinz was about 5’ 10”, 180 lbs with brown hair and eyes and he wore glasses. He spoke with a rasp in his throat. Klaus was 5’ 4”, 100 lbs, black hair and dark eyes.

But, it was already getting dark and riding through the mountains at night wasn’t a good idea. Tom offered for them to bunk at his homestead. They could get a train to Wilcox, closer to Cochise’s grave, the next day, Thursday. After breakfast, they rode into Tuscon and caught the next train to Wilcox.

They arrived in Wilcox about 2 pm and then started what Tom said would be a 4 hour ride into the Dragoon Mountains. Coming to Cochise’s unmarked grave, Tom prepared and performed the ritual. At its completion, the spirit of Cochise returned to the ground where his body laid. They decided to move his grave to another place, in case the Germans returned to summon Cochise, again. Of course, the Germans might beat Tom Jeffords, again, to get the new location but Tom was willing to risk it.

After burying Cochise in his new resting place, they rode over the area with their horses to conceal it. Then, they returned to Wilcox. It was already past dark so they got rooms at the local inn. It wasn’t a Harvey House but it would do for the night.

Friday morning, they caught the first train to Winslow. It stopped in Tuscon so they said their goodbyes to Tom Jeffords as he left them there. On the return trip to Winslow, Fredryck got an idea. “My family, specifically Frederick Arthur Stanley, the 16th Earl of Derby, is the Governor General of Canada. Perhaps General West would agree to visit this area if he had a mining proposal from the Governor of Canada.”

“That would put an air of import upon the request,” Archibald agreed. The others thought it was a good idea, too, and composed the telegram they’d send. Arriving at Winslow, they went straight to Armin Krantz and had him send the telegram to General West.
They stabled their horses and returned to their rooms at the Harvey House for a well earned rest in comfort. Saturday morning they rode out to the dark thunderbird location. An Apache scout spotted them and soon they noticed that Naiche and four other Apaches followed them there.

Cochise was no longer present but his dark thunderbird mount remained, apparently waiting for its rider to return. Mangas dismounted and said that he would calm the mounts in their presence. Once he had them calmed, they could destroy the evil beasts. At Mangas’s signal, they attacked, surprising the evil beasts. A large volley of gunfire, swordsmanship and fire erupted from Archibald, Bartley, Evgenia, Fredryck and Dracona.

The dark thunderbirds died in a heap with little chance to attack their assailants. Upon death, each seemed to transform from that dark malignant creature into a majestic thunderbird with a brief perceived smile upon the beaks of the birds. Naiche and his band advanced. “We will bury the thunderbirds,” Naiche informed. “It was not their doing that corrupted them. They will be buried with a dignified ceremony.”

With the dark thunderbirds destroyed, they told Mangas of their plans to bring General West to the area. Bartley promised to let him know if the general agreed to visit and when that would occur. Mangas approved and told them they could find his spirit at this place when the general was to be near. With that, he dissipated.

On their way back, they stopped to pay a visit with Adolph Cannon at his mine. If the general was coming out, they wanted to rent the mine for their meeting with the general. Adolph obliged them with the caveat that they not give away his mine’s location. They agreed to blindfold their outside attendees and would inform Adolph of the date when they knew it.

Getting back to Winslow, they returned to their cozy rooms for the evening. Sunday morning, Armin delivered the telegram from General West. The general and former senator agreed to meet with the Canadian representative about the mining deal. He planned to be on the first train from Washington, DC, and would arrive in Winslow on Friday morning, March 15.

With a few days before the meeting at the mine, everybody collected more of the ore nodules to add to their stash. Fredryck was looking for an especially fine specimen and was lucky enough to find just the kind he was looking for. It seemed to have an unusually large crystalline section to it and a local appraiser assured him it was diamond. Bartley also practiced his Southern gentleman flirting with the Harvey House employees.

Bartley left Thursday night and spent the evening in Canyon Diablo. He got up early and brought Mangas to the mine on Friday morning. At the mine, with Mangas out of sight, he sent Adolph into town with the agreed upon compensation. Then he settled in to wait for the others to bring General West.

General West arrived in Winslow shortly after the morning train. He came in a private train that pulled a coal car, a stable car and a single passenger car. Departing from the train, he introduced his eldest son, James T. West. General West mentioned that his son was serving as his adviser on the deal and he was a former Secret Service agent during Grant’s presidency.

They informed him that the mine was outside of Canyon Diablo so General West invited them to ride with them in the private train. They put their horses into the stable car where two other horses and a carriage were also being transported. Boarding the passenger car, James West told them that the train was called Wanderer, from his days in the Secret Service.

Arriving in Canyon Diablo, the train pulled into the yard and parked. They rode out to the mine with the general and his son blindfolded so as to not reveal the location of the mine site. The general and his son understood the need for secrecy. The blindfolds were removed upon entering the mine.

Moving in to where they had once shared coffee with Adolph, formal introductions were exchanged. Bartley acted like he did not recognize James West. The former Secret Service agent also made like they were being introduced for the first time. Then, the ghost of Mangas appeared.

General West recognized Mangas’ ghost and fell to his knees. “Mangas,” he whispered, staring in horror at the figure with the nearly invisible head. “Brigadier General Joseph Rodman West,” Mangas began. “In 1863 I came to you to discuss peace between our people. In treachery you broke the sacred white flag of truce, killed me, cut off my head and sent it to where I know not. Where is my head, General?”

“I sent it to a phrenologist in New York City, Orson Squire Fowler,” the general whimpered as he begged forgiveness from Mangas. “It was wrong to kill you under a flag of truce,” he acknowledged. “Just as your treachery brought me to you, I now have you in front of me,” Mangas continued. “I’m sorry,” the general cried. But, as Manga raised his incorporeal spear, he yelled in a wraithlike, unnaturally loud, voice, “I now exact my revenge upon you!”

The aged general covered his face and cried out as the spear plunged down toward him. The mighty thrust drove the ethereal spear deep … into the ground next to the general. Confused, the general looked to the ghost of Mangas. “Not all men are without honor,” Mangas chastised.

“Your treachery caused 25 more years of war between our people, countless lives on both sides,” Mangas informed as the general crumpled into a sobbing mass. He looked down upon the shattered general. “I’ll not continue or restart that war, even for just vengeance.” “You came here from lies, as I did to your fort,” he addressed the general. “Even in death Indians have honor. “

Turning to Bartley and the others Mangas informed, “I’ll not take his life, as he took mine. But to allow me to rest, I must have my head returned.” “We have a good lead on your head,” Bartley acknowledged. “And I know you are people of honor that will keep your promise,” Mangas said. Satisfied, the ghost of Mangas dissipated; content to wait until his skull could be located and buried with his remains.

“I always considered that incident with Mangas as a black mark on the family name,” James West acknowledged as he gathered up the elder West. “There’s no mining deal with the Canadian Stanley family,” Jim West observed as they blindfolded his father. “No there isn’t,” Bartley agreed, “there never was.”

After the blindfolded General West was led out of the cave and put safely back in his carriage, Jim West asked a Fellowship coded question and flashed a white star pin on the underside of his lapel. Getting the proper response he relaxed a bit and inquired, “So how are you these days, Bartley?”

“Doing fine, Jim,” Bartley informed, “I ran into Artemus in New York.” “Really?” Jim answered, “How is he?” “He seems to be enjoying his retirement but he’s still a bit sensitive to being called Artemus Gordon,” Bartley chuckled. West smirked, “Artey always did like to keep his service persona separate from his public one.”

Riding back to Canyon Diablo, they boarded the Wanderer and returned to Winslow. After they unloaded their horses, the General and James West bid them farewell and wished them luck in retrieving Mangas’s skull before continuing back to Washington, DC.

In Winslow, Armin telegraphed Fellowship information gatherers about Orson Squire Fowler, the phrenologist in New York City. With luck, they could locate Mangas’s skull in the near future. They were content to wait it out in the amenities of the Harvey House. The next day, it was learned that a drawing of the skull of “Red Sleeve” was in the 1873 Orson Squire Fowler book “Human Science” on page 1196. “Red Sleeve” is the English translation of the name Mangas Colorados. The day after, however, they learned that Orson Fowler died on August 18, 1887. So, the location of the skull would take more research.

On Thursday, March 21, a telegram arrived for them. “Friends in Fellowship, Please book passage to Greenwich, CT. You have a meeting arranged with Doctor Jean Paul Levesque at 10 AM on Monday, at Titan Amusements. He has an important matter that needs looking into by a group of private detectives. Be aware that you are meeting at his office. Do not compromise his cover.” They boarded a train and spent 3 days traveling to Greenwich, CT, arriving on March 25.

View
Clockwork 1888 Session 74

Clockwork 1888: Sunday, Feb. 24, through Tuesday, March 5, 1889
To Bartley’s chagrin, it took a few days of talking with the police before the Boston Tea Society was formally indicted for poisoning the immigrant food supplies. But a telegram came in calling them back to Winslow, AZ, and Bartley was all too happy to get away from the Yankees and back closer to the southern expanses.

The four day train to Winslow, AZ, had them arrive at 8:15 am on Monday, March 4, 1889. Traveling first class had its benefits as the porter dropped their bags at the Harvey House and the ladies of that establishment cheerfully took them to their rooms. In a short while they were in the telegraph office and talking to Armin Krantz about the latest goings on that have peaked the Fellowship interest.

The telegram received told that there had been numerous sightings of giant birds, called Thunderbirds in the press. Thunderbirds is also the translated word for eagles in some Native American languages. This was common knowledge and there had been many fantastical newspaper articles exaggerating the sightings in the last year or so. Articles and stories about them have been told for years, but the number of reported sightings had increased dramatically recently. The telegram from the Fellowship also said to contact the local telegraph operator in his office at the train station.

“I’ll tell you what I know," Armin started. “A few weeks ago, there started to be rumors of giant bird sightings. I’d heard them stories told before, but never thought much about them as they was obviously the ramblings of braggarts and drunkards. This time was different as old Adolph Cannon came into town telling of such an occurrence. I’ve spoken to Adolph before and know him to be an atypical miner in that he just doesn’t have the knack for stretching a yarn like most of those in his occupation.”

“Anyway, with the number of sightings, I thought it best to contact my superiors. They must have thought it was worth looking into since you folks are back here. Now, I can give you directions to old Adolph’s normal stomping grounds and tell ya’ll where the sightings have been known to have occurred. Adolph is a miner who can be found out at Canyon Diablo. It’s a town about halfway from Winslow to Flagstaff, about 30 miles from here.”

“According to the locals, Adolph always has lots of cash for supplies or a “Coca-cola”, but they have no idea who he sells his stake to. He comes into town maybe three, or four times a year for supplies. Canyon Diablo and the nearby area are where most of the sightings are said to have occurred. Coon Butte, where you folks investigated before, is about six miles southeast of Canyon Diablo and a Navajo trading post is about four (4) miles northeast of it.”

“Now, Crandall claims to have seen them, too, and so has Eli Northfolk. Crandall is most likely under the old oak tree at the center of town, as you know. Eli, if he’s in town, is probably at the pharmacy or the mining office this time of day. You already know that you can get horses and such at the stable.”

So, before leaving Winslow, they decided to visit those in town. They stopped by Crandall and got his tall tale. As suspected, he had just spun together things he’d heard to make his own tale for anybody who would listen.

Then they headed to the mining office. It was considerably busier than the last time they had were in Winslow. Some men brought in rocks and locations where they were found. The mining company was engaged in drilling for ore from the center of Coon Butte so others tended to the business of the new shaft that was drilled.

The area around the crater was surrounded by scattered nodules of ore and there was a grapefruit sized nodule in a display case. The plaque on the display case said that the ore was somehow infused with a strange crystalline substance similar to diamond. The mining office manager was JT Farms, a bulk of a man in his early forties. He was to the point, “What do y’all want? I’m a busy man but I guess I could spare a few minutes.”

“Looks like your boss found those investors he was looking for when we were last in town,” Bartley inquired. JT told them that previously, the amounts collected just weren’t that large and that they had been collected in a warehouse in Flagstaff. Two weeks ago, the whole stock of it was bought up by a pair of foreigners at a good price.

JT wasn’t sure who they were or where they were from but he knew that the boss ordered that any ore collected from then on be sent to the warehouse for monthly sale to the foreigners. The scatter collecting of the ore was to increase and another shaft was authorized for drilling. When asked about Eli, JT said he might still be at the pharmacy if he hadn’t already headed to the mine. But, that was all he knew.

They decided to skip a visit to the church as they didn’t feel the need for a session of Pastor Nelson Vickers’s preaching. The pastor waved at them in greeting and they waved back but continued mindfully on to the pharmacy. At the pharmacy, they were in luck and Eli Norfolk was there. He was reluctant to talk about the large bird but a drink got him to tell in whispered tones.

“I was out near Canyon Diablo collecting ore samples and saw a shadow on the ground that covered more than me and my mule,” Eli quietly told. “I looked up and saw a shadowy form. It landed on a nearby tall rocky outcropping and rooted around for a minute. I watched it and was able to make it out better. It was a giant bird I tell ya’. Had to be as tall as a man with each wing being longer than me when it took flight.”

Fredryck noticed a man observing them that got up and walked out. Following his hunch, he moved to the window and watched the man crossing the street. Muffling the pharmacy door bell, he quietly exited and followed the man. When he went into the telegraph office, Fredryck waited outside and only entered after the man left and was out of sight.

“Well it took off after a minute of digging around the ground with its beak,” Eli continued. “I was curious, so I climbed up and had a look around to see what it had been doing. I didn’t see much other than it had obviously been poking about with its beak. Some rocks had been moved about and such. I have no idea what it was doing, but I decided I didn’t want to stick around if it came back, so I left. Since then, I’ve tried to stay clear of that particular part of Canyon Diablo.”

With Eli’s story completed, they sought Fredryck and found him at the telegraph office. Armin had not sent the man’s telegram. “That was John McKenzie,” Armin told as he held out the note that was to be sent. Scrawled on the paper was, “Strangers you asked about in town asking nosey questions – John”. “It was to be sent to an address in San Francisco,” Armin informed. “If you want, I can send notice to Fellowship contacts and they can send a team to handle the lead in San Francisco.” They decided to not accost John and continued about their preparations for some time on horseback.

Leaving Winslow, it didn’t take long for them to follow the railroad tracks 30 miles west to Canyon Diablo. Once more raucous and dangerous than Tombstone, the town was reduced to little more than a way station once the bridge over the canyon was completed in July of 1882. Still, the Navajo trading post was there and they found their way to the end of Hell Street to the post.

Entering, they met Fred Volz, the trading post proprietor, and his wife. Fred spun a tale about how, in 1888, one unfortunate soul seeking life beyond the chasm found out just how dangerous the route could be. Discovered abandoned just short of the crossing, the lone traveler had evidently been ambushed by highwaymen. The contents of his wagon were strewn about the ground and his animals either stolen or let loose. From the wagon’s tongue, which had been propped vertically by the yoke, hung the man himself. He’d been strung up from his own conveyance, left to swing from a makeshift gibbet, alone in the desert.

The traveler, whose identity officials were unable to determine, was buried on-site. His assailants were never discovered. Neither was the reason they executed their victim in such an awkward and troublesome manner, when a simple bullet would have done just as well. Exactly what transpired there at the end of the canyon remains unknown. It’s a murder mystery that’s never been solved.

After letting him warm up to them, they inquired about Adolph Cannon. Fred suggested they hire a Navajo guide, one of which was already at the post. Agreeing, Fred called out, “Hey, Red Falcon! I got some people who need a canyon guide tomorrow.” Into the post came a Navajo man, tall for the times and looking every bit his role as he surveyed the potential customers. “Five dollars each day,” the Navajo guide informed.

“We just need you to take us to Adolph Cannon’s mine” Bartley informed. “A bit steep isn’t it?” questioned Fredryck as he prepared to negotiate. The Navajo man smiled broadly. “Smart people get my best price, two dollars per day,” he answered. They agreed and decided to meet in the morning. According to Fred, they could hole up for the night in any of the abandoned shacks that were still standing.

None of the shacks were substantial buildings. They were built of green lumber frames covered with tin, tar paper, and canvas. None had a name remaining lettered on their drab, unpainted false fronts. They chose one that seemed to keep enough of the desert wind off of them and settled in for the night.

At dawn on March 5th they were met by their guide and soon were off. As they rode, their guide explained that the many caves and rock formations create natural hiding spots. After about 4 miles, the guide stopped his horse and pointed to a group of rocks. “In there,” he indicated as he backed his horse about 20 feet behind them.

At that point, a gunshot rang out and the dirt to their left sprang up from the ground as the bullet hit. “Who iz it and vat do vant,” called a German accented voice from within the rock grouping. “If you dink to steal from me, itz gonna cost you more zan a few barrels full of trouble.” “We just want to talk to you about the thunderbirds,” Archibald informed.

The man’s head poked out from behind the rocks to see them better before he then invited them in. He offered them some coffee he had just brewed as he led them between the rocks and into the cave opening of his mine. Seating himself and offering them to take up a rock he started.

“I’ve seen the majestic Thunderbirds several times and followed them to the renegade Apache band who trained them. I made friends with the band and learned from them that two Germans gave them the birds as fledglings about a year ago in return for a promise to train the birds to collect ore and nodules for them. This quite impressed me. You won’t believe this part, but later I saw the dark thunderbirds and their spectral riders. I again followed them from a distance and saw that they met with two Germans. After I saw zat, I left.”

They questioned him about the Germans. “I was approached by some German men about a year ago. I’m of German heritage and felt comfortable trusting them. They made me a business proposition. I was to search out nodules containing diamonds, any quality diamonds, and they would buy them from me. I have no idea what they use them for or who they sell them to, but I was happy to sell them to them. The majority of the diamonds are very small, of very poor quality and high carbon content, but a few are spectacular.”

Adolph paused before continuing. “I no longer trust zese Germans but I don’t know how to get out of zis financial deal vit zem. I dink zey vill kill me if I vas to stop selling zem zee diamonds.” He smiled slyly. “Don’t tell but sometimes, if I find a nice diamond, I keep it for myself.” They also got a description of the Germans that Adolph was dealing with.

“I can direct you to the local Chokonen band that may be able to help. They are near Canyon Diablo, less than a half hours ride to the northwest of here.” He also told them that the renegades were led by Cochise’s son, Naiche. Adolph had already convinced the Chokonen that, although the Germans did bring the thunderbird race back, they also have corrupted it and brought forth Apache spirits to ride them.

“I led Naiche to the ghosts’ area and showed him the abominations to convince them that I told the truth. The Chokonen said the spirits were of revered Apache leaders Cochise and his father-in-law, Mangas Coloradas.” He also directed them to the location of the dark thunderbirds and the two spirits, about an hour north of Adolph’s cave.

Leaving the cave, they found their guide patiently awaiting them. When they informed him that they wanted to visit the renegade Apaches, the guide flashed a wry grin before turning his horse and leading them to the northwest. Within 15 minutes they met five Apaches on horseback. “What is your interest here?” the center one asked. “We seek the Chokonen band to learn about the thunderbirds they raise,” Archibald answered. “And what would you do with such information?”

“We’re concerned about the corruption brought by the Germans and hope to return to rest the spectral riders of the dark thunderbirds. If need be, we’ll destroy the dark thunderbirds,” Archibald informed. “Then you have found the Chokonen band,” the center one answered. “I am Naiche, chief, and we will go with you to the dark thunderbirds and unresting spirits.”

On the way they learned that the Germans names were Heinz Ruchtbert and Klaus Obersein. Heinz was about 5’ 10”, 180 lbs with brown hair and eyes and he wore glasses. He spoke like he had dust in his throat after a long days ride. Klaus was 5’ 4”, 100 lbs, black hair and dark eyes. That matched the description that Adolph had given them.

Turning north, they soon came around a butte to see in the distance the figures of two Apache chiefs astride giant spectral birds. Both men had an eerie glow emanating from them and the head of the one on the right, Mangas Coloradas according to Naiche, was almost invisible. Instead of charging into battle, as one might think, they seemed to regard them and noticeably hesitated, looking longingly at them as if they presented something they desired.

The spirit of Cochise did not speak Spanish but Mangas, did. Evgenia understood Spanish so she spoke to the spirits and translated for the others while Mangas translated for Cochise. They learned that it was Germans that summoned the spectral Apaches from their graves. The Germans could do so, again, unless their remains were moved to a new secret place and the new grounds consecrated by a member of the Chokonen band of Chiricahua Apache or Cochise’s blood brother, Tom Jeffords. That would be enough to return Cochise’s spirit to rest.

But Mangas would not be so easy. “I cannot rest,” he informed, “until I have revenge upon the man that violated the sacred flag of truce and had me executed. You must bring Brigadier General Joseph Rodman West to me. He is the one who ordered my execution and I must exact my revenge upon him. My soul cannot rest until that treachery is avenged.” But that was not all. “In addition you must promise to find my corpse’s head at a later time. The general took my head and sent it away, to where I do not know. Once you find my head, you must put it to rest with my body. Until that is done, I cannot truly remain at rest.”

“So,” Bartley said to Naiche after giving the ghosts their word, “where is Cochise’s grave?” “Cochise rightfully feared that white men would desecrate his resting place. The place is known only to his blood brother, Tom Jeffords,” Naiche answered. “Then we’ll go to Tom Jeffords,” Dracona suggested. “I heard that he has a homestead not far from Tuscon,” Naiche informed. “And about this ritual to put them to rest, again?” “Our medicine man knows this ritual so if you find Cochise’s grave, we can return him to rest.”

They returned to Canyon Diablo with the information. When they went to pay their guide, he refused payment for his day’s work. “If you can put my forefathers to rest again, it will be payment enough.”

Returning to Winslow, they spoke with Armin and he got started on telegrams to the Fellowship to locate General West. How to get West there was another matter that they were still working on. Still, they booked accommodations for themselves and their horses on the next train to Tuscon the following morning.

View
Clockwork 1888 Session 73

Clockwork 1888: Thursday, February 21, through Saturday, Feb. 23, 1889
“The skeletons must have been summoned by the bone devil,” Bartley noted. “Vanishing like they did is a sign they were summoned,” Fredryck agreed. “I would’ve hated to have to explain them,” Dracona noted. “But, we should note what was not tarnished by their touch while we still have it in mind,” Archibald suggested.

Evgenia came out of the freezer. “All quiet,” she said as she noticed Fredryck’s injuries, “except out here, I see. What happened?” They explained that apparently somebody summoned a bone devil to poison the food supplies of restaurants and food establishments of recent immigrants. “I don’t think it’ll be returning this evening,” Dracona informed.

They decided to gather the poisoned food into one area of the cooler. Then, they left a note for Chef Patrice to not use it. Noting that they still had to talk to Steven Hill, they treated their injuries and got some rest. In the morning they located the residence of the “real American” traveling salesman, Steven Hill. Figuring he’d probably only talk openly to “real” Americans, Fredryck and Evgenia decided to wait at a nearby restaurant. Archibald and Dracona took a few pointers from Bartley about “Yankees ways” of talking and dress before going to visit the salesman.

A 5’ 7” woman of average build, dark red hair and green eyes answered their knock on the salesman’s door. A young boy of about 6 years with red hair and green eyes shyly hid behind his mother. They politely asked for Steven Hill and she informed them that she was Margaret, Steven’s wife. Inviting them in, she left them in a sitting room to fetch her husband while their child, Thomas, came in and excitedly chattered at them with his strong Boston accent.

Margaret returned to the sitting room with a 6 foot tall man of dark brown hair, green eyes and some 230 pounds. “Hello, I’m Steven Hill,” he introduced. “How are you gentlemen,” he noticed Dracona, “and lady, doing?” They exchanged pleasantries and small talk while Margaret coaxed Thomas to help her prepare and serve refreshments for the visitors while Steven talked business.

Not wanting to seem too interested in the society, they talked to Steven about his family. “While Margaret and I were in London, back in 1883, Thomas was born. We have since tried to raise him as an American should. Margaret misses traveling with me but maybe when Thomas is older we can travel as a family. Thomas was so good on the trip back from England when he was a baby. But, he would be disruptive to my work at this age.”

They convinced Steven that they were visiting Boston on business and had heard about him. Being a salesman for Houghton Mifflin Company, Bartley explained that he hoped to secure a visit by Steven to Texas for the small town where he was a fine citizen. Their school was in need of school books, Steven’s company specialty, to help make the Americans there smarter and that told the real history of America. Dracona introduced herself as being in the insurance business in the town.

Archibald explained that he was interested in possibly adding products to Steven’s sales portfolio, although he didn’t elaborate. But, it didn’t take long for them to steer the conversation to the Boston Tea Society. They expressed interest in setting up similar societies in their respective towns and cities and were interested in the operations and meeting format.

“The Houghton Mifflin Company sends me all over the world,” Steven began as the refreshments arrived, “and everywhere I go I see the same thing: people who are jealous and envious of me for being an American. America has the best education, the hardest workers, and the smartest people of any country. And, when I go abroad, I am proud to represent not just my company, but my country.”

“Foreigners never let their dreams get farther than their front door because they are afraid of failure. America has never been afraid of failure. And, America has never failed,” he completed his rhetoric. “The Boston Tea Society is a political organization devoted to the strengthening of American business interests,” he finally got to their point of interest, the Boston Tea Society, explaining that they wanted to start Tea Society chapters in their towns.

“Maurice is the spokesman for the Boston Tea Society. But, my work is essential as it is my traveling across the country for work that allows us to expand to the west. Maurice and I feel that this century is the start of something great. And that something is America. He predicts that before the century is even half way over, during our lifetimes, America will be the saviors and protectors of the entire world.”

You fine Americans, and your friends, would be welcome at our next Boston Tea Society meeting. They’re open to everybody and as luck would have it,” Margaret sat next to him on the settee, admiring her husband and his rhetoric. “We’re hosting the next meeting here,” she proudly informed. “So,” Steven continued for her, “please join us here tomorrow, Saturday, at 8 pm. We’d love to have you attend and meet some of the others.”

They noted that even their boy, Thomas, seemed totally indoctrinated into the superior American rhetoric as he repeated things along with his father. They learned that the person named Maurice that Steven referred to was Maurice Garnier, a shipping businessman in Boston harbor. Exchanging pleasant goodbyes, they made their leave. “Damn Yankees,” Bartley grumbled as they walked to the nearby restaurant to meet with Fredryck and Evgenia.

With time, they checked on Patrice to make sure he had gotten their information. Keeping quiet about the supernatural nature of the culprits poisoning the Patrice food supplies, they informed him that they observed the perpetrators in the act. But, because there were so many of them, they could not act soon enough to prevent contamination of some of his supplies. Patrice wondered how much longer such atrocities would occur and they assured him that they were hoping to end them soon. Ending the prejudices that some people have toward others would probably take a lot more time, though.

Fredryck and Evgenia insisted on going to the Saturday evening meeting, even if it was only to test the resolve and depth of bigotry in the Boston Tea Society. They punctually arrived at the Hill house on Saturday and introduced their British friends, Fredryck and Evgenia. As the evening got underway with hors d’oeuvres and beverages, the man introduced as Maurice Garnier, a 5’10” almost 300 pound man with dark brown hair and brown eyes in a dark suit and white tie, began to speak.

“Welcome to the Boston Tea Society, and welcome to our guests,” he began with a polite nod to Fredryck and Evgenia. “I’m Maurice Garnier and I’m an American. My grandfather came to Boston from Quebec, seeking the American Dream. I’m a self-made man. My grandfather had nothing and my father left me less. But, now I own a very successful export business.”

He eyed Fredryck and Evgenia, “Everyone wants to buy from America because the best food, the best goods, the best people are American. America is the greatest nation in this world. In many ways, it’s the only nation that matters. We of the Tea Society have been blessed with a vision, a prophecy of the future.”

He focused on Archibald, Dracona and Bartley. “America is the lever that will move the world. A great danger will come, borne out of foreign lands and it will be Americans who save the world. We have to be ready.”

“You seem to be mighty sure of the future,” Fredryck interjected. “Shut your mouth, red coat boy,” Maurice chastised, “An American is talking. People like you strive to be people like me. You people hate what you can’t be.”

“Well, technically, you people are all immigrants so all this talk of being American seems tilted,” Bartley came to Fredryck’s defense. Archibald and Dracona stayed in character, however, siding with the Boston Tea Party people to try and gain their confidence.

Maurice singled out Bartley. “You people are the only thing that’s wrong with America; Americans who can’t stand up for themselves and who let inferior people get the better of them. I’m a window into your own soul, and you don’t like what you see.” “Not if it’s as big a bigoted sidewinder as you,” Bartley answered curtly.

“Well,” Maurice replied, “I might as well take the Fifth Amendment because the First Amendment doesn’t mean anything here. Everybody loves free speech until someone uses free speech.” “Honestly,” Archibald interceded, “I think you three should leave now.” “I’d agree,” Dracona chimed in as she motioned for Evgenia, Fredryck and Bartley to leave the meeting.

The three of them left with a convincing amount of and open protest and disgust. Archibald and Dracona played off the scenario to ingratiate themselves more with the society. They met Scott Meadows, whom they’d met two days ago at the Boston Herald, and Chris Cleveland, a manager from the John Hancock Life Insurance Company. Dracona indicated that she’d had some dabbling in the insurance business and chatted with Cleveland a while.

Both Archibald and Dracona talked politics and economics with their hosts and the others. They knew that they were trying to determine if they were suitable candidates for Tea Society membership. By ten that evening, they believed they had convinced the Boston Tea Society of their common ideals and goals.

So, as the open meeting ended, Garnier and Hill promised to contact them later. Four of them had to go to a members-only meeting where they’d discuss with Tea Society members their request for membership. Archibald and Dracona could not attend. But, Maurice explained that the members-only meeting was after the open meeting that evening.
Exchanging well-wishes, Dracona and Archibald left to secretly rejoin the others. They stealthily watched as Garnier, Hill, Meadows and Cleveland left together. They stealthily followed them to Revere Exports where the four of them were joined inside by eight others.

There were picnic tables and a small grill set up by the large double doors at the loading dock. The Society members started just talking and having snacks but they closed the loading dock doors. Bartley suggested getting an inside vantage point as his armadillo unfurled from his hat. There was a small entry door on the side and Bartley easily unlocked it and inched it open enough for the armadillo to enter.

“Athro is going in, too,” Dracona quietly informed. “Athro? Who is that?” Bartley whispered as the armadillo slipped in and he closed the door. “Athro Draig is my fairy dragon familiar,” Dracona informed in a low voice. “Should I open the door again,” Bartley murmured. “No, he went in when your armadillo did.” She noticed a quizzical look on his face. “Fairy dragons can be invisible,” she quietly explained.

After a little while, the society members got up and went to an area nearer the side door. Garnier led the others in chanting the name “Morbius” while Hill arranged bones in a circle. Garnier lit a small oil lamp in the center of the circle and Hill sprinkled incense powder into it while the chanting continued. The powder ignited as it touched the flame and clouds of multicolored smoke began to fill the room.

“We need to put a stop to this ritual,” Fredryck whispered. “I’ll head to the loading dock doors,” Dracona offered. “I’ll cover that, too,” Fredryck informed. “We’ll stay here to cover this door,” Archibald informed. Dracona paused a moment and focused. “Athro says the loading dock doors aren’t locked from the inside,” she quietly mentioned. They started moving into position.

As they moved, from an isle way stepped the creature that the men were calling: Morbius. Morbius was seven foot, three inches tall with pale white skin pulled tight against his skeleton. His long prehensile tail with a long barb on the tip that hovers above and behind him seemed ready to strike. In one hand it carried a case of Coca-Cola. “What do you bid of me?” it asked in a fairly normal and mundane voice.

The Society members didn’t seem to be affected by the presence of Morbius. The whole scene almost gave the impression that Morbius was nothing more than a man in a costume. The Society men and Morbius shared pleasantries. Morbius ate a hot dog and shared bottles of Coca-Cola with them. After a few minutes, Garnier and Hill presented a map to Morbius. They had marked the night’s targets.

Morbius waved his arms in a complex manner and summoned allies from the same cyclopean smoke that delivered him. A gathering of fleshless corpses shambled into the room from the same aisle that he came from. Morbius took a silver basin from one of the Society and dipped his tail in it, milking the poison from his tail. The undead creatures got into single file, preparing to pass by and dip their hands in the ichor.

Fredryck shoved the loading dock doors open and he and Dracona stepped in. “Well, well, what have we here,” he announced as they charged into the surprised men, dropping at least one each. The side door was pushed open to admit the Archibald, Bartley and Evgenia. Those three moved up to gain cover via the counter and their gunshots rang throughout the warehouse.

“Kill them,” Morbius commanded the skeletal legion as he stepped up to attack the intruders at the loading dock. Dracona was closest to him so she was the target of his attacks, which he landed two. The skeletons, their boney hands not yet ichor-dipped, moved in to attack. But the society members were in the way of most of them.

They had decided not to kill the people and Fredryck used the flat of his blade to render two more of them unconscious as he tried to fight his way to the bone devil they called Morbius. Dracona breathed fire upon the skeletons, destroying them but catching a pair of society men in it as they tried to scatter. Three more gunshots rang out, targeting the skeletons and scaring society people enough to get out of the way. Other society members scattered away from the combat.

Morbius attacked Dracona, again, as his minions’ numbers diminished. The remaining skeletons filed in to attack Fredryck and Dracona. Fredryck continued to fight his way to Morbius and ended within striking range. Dracona continued her fiery barrage on the skeletons and more gunshots rang out.

Morbius looked down upon Fredryck, smiled, and then he was gone. “Damn!” Fredryck yelled as he destroyed a skeleton. “I’m sure we could kill that thing if it would quit disappearing like that!” When the last of the skeletons were destroyed, they rounded up the members of the Boston Tea Society from their hiding places in the warehouse.

Just then, Morbius reappeared inside the circle of bones that Garnier had made before. But, in his one arm he held a frightened red-haired boy of about 6 years old – Thomas Hill. “No!” Steven Hill cried out as Fredryck charged the devil. Fredryck landed a blow as the creature gathered up the bones. Others shot at it, doing their best to not hit the boy.

Morbius turned to Fredryck. “This isn’t farewell. This is goodbye. I must do my master’s bidding,” the devil said before he vanished, again. “Why did he have my son?” Steven Hill was almost delirious. With the devil gone, again, they took Steven Hill aside. “Why would Morbius, or whomever he works for, want your son,” they questioned Hill. “I don’t know,” he answered.

But, eventually they got Hill to tell them that he used to live in west London. Steven and Margaret were unable to conceive a child and were on an extended business trip in London. They decided to adopt a son and tell family and friends that they gave birth while abroad. So they adopted Thomas McAllister, who was born in 1883. Thomas was a ward of the Knightsbridge orphan asylum.

He was cared for by Stanley and Katherine Miller until 1885. He was not even two years old when Steven and Margaret Hill adopted him. They changed his name to Thomas Hill and have never told anyone that he was adopted, or that he was not a natural born American. The secret was not even known by Thomas.

But, the police whistles grew closer and they had to figure out what to tell the authorities. In exchange for doing what they could to get Thomas back safely, Steven Hill agreed to turn in the Boston Tea Society for poisoning immigrant food supplies. No mention of the devil or its now vanished skeletons was to be made and those that did mention it would be looked at as bonkers. The Boston Tea Society was rightly going to take the blame and the poison ichor was still in the silver bowl as evidence.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 72

Clockwork 1888: Tuesday, Feb. 19, through Thursday, Feb. 21, 1889
Shrewsbury and Julia promised to return to Texas and stay out of trouble. On Tuesday, Feb. 19, Oldfield was arranging to have the effects sent to the real relatives when a telegram came in for the party. “Friends, Enclosed, please find passage to Boston, Massachusetts. Alan Cooper will meet you at the Green Dragon Tavern at 2 pm. on Thursday, February 21. Bring your appetite. Dr. L.” Oldfield promised to complete the transfers while the group of Fellowship hunters left Detroit.

They caught the first train the morning of the 20th and arrived in Boston early on the 21st. After securing hotel accommodations and getting settled, they skipped lunch and made their way to the Green Dragon Tavern. “The tavern was established in 1714,” Bartley informed. “It’s rumored to be where Paul Revere held meetings with those infamous ‘Sons of Liberty’ like Samuel Adams, John Adams, John Hancock, Daniel Webster, and such," Evgenia added.

“The Boston Tea Party was planned there. And, it’s a commonly held belief that the plans for the invasion of Lexington and Concord were overheard there, prompting Paul Revere’s famous ride,” Bartley continued. “I’d guess the Green Dragon Tavern’s history makes up for its rather conspicuous lack of dragons,” Evgenia quipped as they entered.

Alan Cooper was already there and he motioned for them to join him. After appropriate Fellowship confirming exchanges were completed, he offered them food and drinks and got down to business. “I’m an investigative reporter for the Boston Globe newspaper. I was researching a possible story of vandalism at a local restaurant when the story stopped being appropriate for the newspaper, and became something that I felt the Fellowship should look into,” he informed.

“A local French restaurant named Patrice opened in Beacon Hill last November to great local acclaim. It was a popular establishment until February. Patrice is owned and run by Edmond Patrice, who is also the head chef. He came to America last summer and used to work for Un Appetit.”

“Reviews in February were poor. The food critic at the Boston Herald, John Kennedy, gave Patrice one star. The review stated that the Alfredo sauce was curdled and the lobster made the critic, as well as other diners, violently ill. Since the review, and word of mouth confirmation, business for the Patrice has been bad. The restaurant may go out of business soon.”

“After the scathing review Kennedy gave the restaurant, Chef Patrice started demanding fresher ingredients. He was blaming the refrigeration unit for the tainted seafood. Patrice personally checks the ingredients daily. He frequently finds them spoiled, and has to replace them. Between the need to continually replace product and the reduced clientele since the review, Patrice is worried that he may go out of business. This worry has bothered the employees.”

“Marty Oliver was the ‘garde manger’ at Patrice. The ‘garde manger’ prepares cold foods including salads, some appetizers, pate, etc. I was lucky to interview Marty, as Chef Patrice had forbidden his employees from talking to the press after Kennedy’s review.”

“It was Oliver who claimed that the vandalism was done by ghosts that he saw in the icebox. Oliver disappeared last week. I don’t know if he fled, or if something more sinister has happened to him. According to Oliver’s wife, he never came home from work on February 18th.”

“Similar things have been happening in Chinatown. I wasn’t covering those stories, so I don’t know any details. The editor of the business section of the Globe, David Johnson, has buried those stories.

“I also talked to Detective Jacob Batali of the Boston Police Department about Oliver’s disappearance. But, if Oliver saw ghosts at the restaurant, then a regular police detective isn’t likely to find him. And, the disappearance indicates that something bigger than the loss of a local restaurant is going on,” he concluded. “We’ll investigate,” they assured him.

Of course, their first stop was Patrice. No reservations were needed at Patrice and they seemed happy to have diners. The Patrice menu contained mostly seafood, soups, and cuisine with a heavy emphasis on sauce. Their special for the night was lobster and mussels in a rum sauce. The Patrice was not empty because there were still some faithful patrons, obviously trying to help keep Chef Patrice in business. But, there was only one or two waiters on staff at the time.

Their waiter was a young man of about 14 years, friendly and talkative and introduced himself as Don Harris. After some friendly conversation, they ordered and then inquired about the recent events. After they claimed to be privately investigating the food incidents, he spoke in hushed tones and confirmed the information that Cooper gave them regarding the restaurant. Harris also knew of the stores and restaurants in Chinatown that have had problem with stock as well. He quietly wondered if it was a climate problem.

After their meals had arrived and they had a chance to try them, Chef Patrice came out to personally see if the patrons were enjoying their meals. With a little conversation, he confirmed Harris’s statements about his restaurant. When pressed, he admitted that his garde manger, Marty Oliver, left without notice a few days ago. But Chef Patrice didn’t know what was causing the spoiling of his food. His method of combating the phenomenon was to use fresh ingredients and to keep the kitchen area spotlessly clean.

“Have you noticed food to be good the night before and then spoiled the next day?” Fredryck inquired. Thinking a moment, the chef confirmed that it was rather sudden and since he’s been personally checking, he has noticed that to be the case. It wasn’t every night but perfectly good food, even fresh from the market that day, was found bad the next morning.

When the chef left, the busboy at the next table whispered to them. “Rick Beam,” the young man of about 12 years secretly introduced. “Harris told me of his conversation with you; that you were interested in the Patrice. Do you know what happened to Marty?” “We were hoping someone could tell us.” “I saw the ghosts get him,” Rick quietly confided. “That’s all I can say here,” he whispered. “But, I get off at 10 so I’ll meet you then, one block north of here, and I can tell you more, then.” Agreeing, they finished their meals, left their tip and departed.

Their next stop was the Boston Police Department. After bluffing that they were investigating for the family of Marty Oliver and his employer, Edmond Patrice, Detective Jacob Batali saw them. “Marty Oliver was reported missing by his wife, Becky,” Batali said with a thick Italian accent. “It’s known that he left work on February 18 but he never got home.”

“Of course, Patrice claims that his shop is being sabotaged. But, we’ve found no evidence of forced entry or other evidence to support that claim.” Batali leaned back in his chair. “And if you’re going to tell me that other places in South Boston have been similarly vandalized, I can tell you that no complaints have been filed.” They could tell that he was not going to be a font of information so they decided to do some research into the various newspapers.

After quite a search at the library, they found that the Boston Herald had reported on vandalism and poor product servings at stores and restaurants in Chinatown. But, the articles had all been buried. The Boston Globe had reported on the vandalism at Patrice. And, they learned that many Irish run businesses near the harbor were having vandalism problems.

The business editor at the Herald, Scott Meadows, was available for comment. He shared the stories regarding the various businesses in Chinatown or South Boston. He said that their problems were not of interest to his readers. “I’d rather run stories about American businesses than those run by the Chinese or Irish immigrants,” he commented.

David Johnson, the business editor at the Globe, recited, “Such problems are of no interest to the citizens of Boston. We only run the stories as filler, buried in between advertisements on the later pages of the newspaper.” When they asked him why that was, he hung his head and admitted that his managing editor, Kevin Baker, felt that businesses owned by “real Americans” had enough news of interest to fill his section of the paper.

With time before their meeting, they hit the town for information. They split up with Fredryck and Bartley heading to Chinatown and Evgenia, Dracona and Archibald covering South Boston. Coming back together before their 10 pm. meeting, they found the local Chinese and Irish shops have been struggling.

Food bought at certain locations could make one sick. Good food could be bought at certain places and, oddly enough, the stores and restaurants were all owned and operated by third generation American families, or older. Rumors insisted that the reason the food was bad at certain places was because they were run by Chinese or Irish, and they didn’t take care of themselves properly.

They also heard the propaganda that the Boston Herald is a real American newspaper and real Americans shop at real American stores and eat at real American restaurants. They also heard that a person shouldn’t visit stores that aren’t run by real Americans. Not surprising, Scott Meadows, who works at the Boston Herald, was said to be a real American. And, Steven Hill, a salesman for the Houghton Mifflin Company, was a real American, too. But it was Archibald that learned that “real” Americans were members of the Boston Tea Society. Chinatown and South Boston both yielded similar information.

They arrived at the meeting place just before Rick and went to a place to talk. “I know my place,” Rick Beam informed. “I don’t talk to police or reporters. But, I care about my friends and I’ll act to help them. Most of the people at Patrice are co-workers and acquaintances, but I count both Harris and Oliver as friends.”

“I was raised a protestant,” Beam informed, “whose upbringing included belief in ghost stories and fairy tales. So, although I believe in the haunting of the Patrice, I’m not overly afraid of it. If I don’t antagonize the ghosts, then my belief in God will protect me from them.” He looked directly at them. “I’ll tell you this information so long as you promise to keep my involvement a secret. I still work at Patrice, but if I tell anyone what I saw on the night of the 18th, then I’ll be fired.” They assured him and he continued.

“I believe in the haunting but I’m more afraid of people than ghosts. Marty and me thought that we needed to catch whoever it was that was hurting Chef. So, we hid in the store after it closed. One night we was there and the back door opened all by itself. It was locked, I tell you. We checked. Marty got a club and got ready to jump them. But, what came through the door wasn’t a man. It was nothing more than a pile of walking bones."

Beam hesitated. "It was a ghost I tell you. Marty hit it and it fell apart. But there were plenty more. Marty yelled for me to run.” His eyes grew distant. “I thought he was right behind me. I thought he was right behind me.” He snapped back to them. “Oliver had mentioned seeing the ghosts a few weeks before, and begged me not to tell Chef what he saw.”

“Does Chef Patrice have any enemies that might want this to happen?” Evgenia questioned. Beam thought for a moment before he recalled, “There was a man in about two months ago who enjoyed his meal up to the point when he met Chef Patrice. Then, he became angry and claimed that we had tricked him into eating French food. Since then, he’s approached both me and Marty telling us that we shouldn’t work for foreigners. He said that his friends in the Boston Tea Society could help us find honest work elsewhere.”

“Just go home at night,” they instructed. “We’ll see what we can do.” With that information, they decided to wait the night in the Patrice back room to see if they could catch Beam’s ghosts. It was nearly eleven when the approached the Patrice. Bartley easily picked the lock on the door and they hid in the storage areas in the back to wait.

About 2 am, they heard the sound of many approaching feet. It wasn’t quick footsteps but more of a shuffling. Through the back door window they saw a dozen shambling creatures approach the building. With more bone than flesh, the blasphemous shapes moved like marionettes. An inhuman sense of effortlessness accompanied their every gesture.

Their leader was a tall, grotesque human-like skeleton with a long tail, reminiscent of a scorpion’s, that hovered above its head. At its mere touch, the door opened, giving the skeletal creatures entry. With careful, premeditated steps the horde walked into the cooler and spread out amongst the food. Gentle touches were applied in a quick and methodical fashion as they moved along the rows of food within the cooler and toward the freezer. Finally, the large leader entered the doorway, waiting for the skeletal hoard to complete its task.

Bartley prepared to be discovered but the skeletons were so single-minded in carrying out their task, they paid no attention to the people nearby. Fredryck moved out from between the shelves and up to a pair of skeletons near the leader. With a hefty blow he swept through one skeleton, shattering it, and struck a second, sending its pieces skittering across the cooler floor. Dracona moved into the main aisle and blasted fire upon three skeletons, turning them to dust. Bartley shot a skeleton within his sight and managed to destroy it. Archibald inspired the others to greater heroism while the skeletons continued about their task of touching the food items, oblivious to their destroyers.

“Kill them,” the leader commanded as he lashed out, attempting to claw, bite and sting Fredryck. Fredryck attacked another skeleton and destroyed it before he could step up to within striking range of the leader. With a surge of energy, he swung at the leader but it clanged off the bony hide of the creature. “There’s probably poison on their fingers so try to avoid getting hit by them,” he called. Dracona took out another two skeletons with a fiery blast. “I think it’s a devil of some kind, bone devil, I’d guess,” Bartley informed as he moved up. “This might help,” he said as he cast a spell upon Fredryck’s sword. Archibald got into the fray and was able to destroy a skeleton. Then the skeletons attacked them but, luckily, nobody got poisoned.

The bone devil attacked Fredryck, landing a sting from its poisonous tail. But Fredryck resisted the poison and swung at the leader twice. Dracona moved toward the leader and unleashed a bountiful blast of fire. It smiled as her flames did no harm. Bartley blasted another skeleton and Archibald destroyed the last one. “This is far from over,” the bone devil warned. But then it vanished, apparently teleported away.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 71

Clockwork 1888 Date: Friday, February 15, through Monday, February 18, 1889
Climbing the ladder to the catwalk, they observed the 999. “It doesn’t seem to want to be turned off. It seems angry whenever I go near the generator,” Ford reminded them. “If this is indeed the boy, Adam,” Fredryck informed, “we may be able to communicate with him.” “But we’ll have to gain some trust with him, first,” Archibald added. “Then I may be able to reach him,” Evgenia concluded.

“Adam,” Archibald called out. The 999 shifted to line up with him, the wheels sparked as they moved and its engine began growling. “We want to help you. But, to do that we need to communicate with you. Your present form makes that difficult.” The growl of the 999 grew perceptibly louder.

“This is Evgenia Yermak,” he introduced, “and she’s coming down. She has to get close to you to be able to communicate with you. You have to allow her to communicate with you so that we can help you.” “I’m going with her,” Fredryck insisted, “just in case it becomes … unreasonable.”

Down the ladder Evgenia and then Fredryck went. As they crossed the metal floor they could feel the static in the air making their hair stand out from their bodies. Stepping to within 30 feet of the 999, Evgenia called out. “I’ll try to communicate with you, now. If you resist it will fail so please don’t resist. We want to help you.” Taking a deep breath, she focused her mental energies on the 999.

“This is Adam,” Evgenia confirmed as the mental images came to her from the 999. “He’s angry. He doesn’t know why the couple that adopted him let this happen to him. They seemed so nice when he met them. From the orphanage he was taken to a house. He was kept in a small dark room, gagged and strapped to a cold metal table. He remembers that he was killed in order to create the abomination he’s become. He hates what he’s become but he wants to live.”

“He knows that the generator gives him power and keeps him alive.” Evgenia cringed for a moment before continuing. “Like any living being, he will protect that which keeps him alive, even if he must kill to survive.” “It doesn’t know that the static energy field is limited to this room. It doesn’t know that if it leaves the room it will die,” Ford whispered to Archibald. “He,” Dracona whisperingly corrected Ford, “this is an 8 year old boy named Adam. He’s ‘he’ not ‘it’.”

“He wants to leave this room. As anybody, he wants to be free,” she hesitated before continuing. “He wants to be free to kill and destroy all that lives.” “Tell him that there may be ways to make him whole, again,” Fredryck said aloud. Evgenia looked at him questioningly. “There are people more versed in ‘the arts’ than we are. There may be a way to return him to his body or another body. It is above our capabilities but we know people who are also above our capabilities and they may be able to accomplish such a feat.”

Evgenia relayed the message to 999. Its engine growled louder and its wheels sparked as it inched toward them. “Adam says that such things are impossible, that you try to trick him.” “And communicating with him through sheer mental power is impossible, too, but Evgenia is doing that,” Fredryck countered. The 999 stopped and its engine returned to its normal growl. “It wants proof that the things you say could be possible,” Evgenia conveyed.

“Watch then,” Fredryck answered. He held up his hand and took out a knife. Showing his palm, fingers spread, to 999, he sliced his palm open. As the blood flowed from his hand, splattering on the pristine metal floor, he spoke holy words, touched his palm and the wound sealed. “And I’m but a novice in the art of healing,” he qualified.

“I can provide further proof,” Bartley said from the catwalk. “As can I,” Dracona said climbing down the ladder. With a dazzling display of magical prowess from them, also, the 999 was convinced that it might be possible to return him to a state of humanity from his present abomination.

Henry Ford was not totally sure of what he’d just witnessed. But, it appeared as if four of his visitors were unusually exceptional in some fashion. So he kept silent. After all, integrating parts of a living being into a vehicle was unheard of, too. Yet, that was apparently in front of him on the floor below.

“What we’re discussing is very powerful magic,” Fredryck continued to the 999. “It’s above our capabilities. You’ll have to wait here and be patient while we contact the right people. Then, it’ll take time for them to get here,” Archibald explained. “Adam understands,” Evgenia acknowledged. “Some of us will stay with you while others go to send telegrams,” she promised.

“Our farmhouse is big enough to accommodate guests,” Ford offered. “You can stay in the house to keep an eye out in case Monroe shows up.” “Adam is all right with that,” Evgenia responded. “What will I tell the misses?” Ford inquired. “We’re investors interested in getting started in the horseless carriage business and we came to see what you’d been working on,” Bartley told him.

“Can we look at the generator,” Bartley inquired. “You won’t turn it off,” Evgenia conveyed Adam’s concern. “No, but if we can figure out how it functions it may help.” Evgenia, Dracona, and Bartley approached the generator. It was very complex but they were able to discern that it used quite advanced technology, had aspects that seemed contrary to physical science and even used high level magic. It was impossible to figure out how it worked, partly because the magical incantations weren’t included in the blueprints. With those, they might have had a chance.

But, before Evgenia’s mind link came to an end, she assured Adam that they’d do all they could to return his humanity. The 999’s engine seemed to slow to an almost inaudible hum as Adam acknowledged their efforts and gained some semblance of contentment for the evening.

According to Henry Ford, Monroe had activated the 999 two days ago. So, Terry was at the Ford workshop when the shootout occurred at the Monroe residence. Henry inquired of Clara if they could keep guests for the next several nights. Clara obliged and prepared supper for them.

Over supper, Clara recalled something. One day, well over a week ago, Henry was away at work on Westinghouse steam engines. She’d seen Mr. Monroe and another man walking out of the tree grove near the edge of the property and toward the workshop. Clara didn’t think anything of it at the time. She thought the man was just a possible investor.

Pressed for details, her description of the other man matched that of Doctor Nettles. And, he was carrying a large bag at the time. Of course, Clara was in the dark about the significance. But, the others decided to search the tree grove in the morning.

Early the next day, they searched the tree grove. A shallow grave held the remains, sans brain and spine, of the young boy, Adam. They’d been out there almost two weeks while natural and vermin decay took its toll on them. “We may be able to return him to his body if we can repair it in some way,” Bartley suggested. “Regeneration and reanimation would probably be very high magic. I’m not even sure such things exist in the realm of good magic,” Fredryck answered. “We may be able to find him another body, though,” Dracona thought aloud.

Fredryck, Bartley and Dracona went back to Detroit. Archibald and Evgenia stayed behind to keep Adam as calm and content as possible. In Detroit, they contacted Oldfield to send coded telegrams to Fellowship higher ups. They needed higher level magic than they could provide and they needed it as soon as possible. Oldfield set about composing and sending the telegrams.

“Are you like my fairy with the turquoise hair?” Adam asked as soon as Evgenia set up a mind link. Evgenia searched her memories and recalled the 1883 Italian children’s tale by Carlo Collodi. “I can see how you feel like Pinocchio,” she mentally answered. “They read that story to us in the church’s orphanage,” he responded. “Right now I wish I had stayed at the orphanage.”

“Well,” Evgenia answered, “we’re trying to be like Pinocchio’s fairy and turn you into a real boy. It’ll take some time, though. We can be patient, right?” “Right,” the response came to her mind. She spent the day playing games with and learning about Adam. She succeeded in keeping him serene and reasonably content throughout.

Fredryck, Bartley and Dracona returned to the Ford farm late in the afternoon. They shared the news of their errands and Evgenia informed Adam that all they had to do was wait for return telegrams. Adam seemed content with their efforts. Although still not happy about what was done to him, he appreciated the efforts they were going through to help him.

The next day all but Evgenia went to Detroit. They had to check for return telegrams, maintain their personas with the police, and get food and supplies for them all. Returning to the farm that evening, they took the things to the farm house while Dracona headed to the workshop.

Evgenia was there with Adam. They’d been able to figure out a kind of language with Adam using his engine sounds. Adam seemed happy to see Dracona and, although there was no word via telegraph, yet, he was content with the progress. Evgenia and he were showing Dracona some tricks that Adam had learned to do while he was waiting. Then a loud noise came from the generator.

“What was that?” Dracona questioned. “I don’t know,” Evgenia noted. It was loud enough that it was heard in the house, though. Fredryck, Bartley, Archibald and Henry Ford came running to the workshop. Evgenia and Dracona were at the generator when they arrived. Adam was turned toward it. Coming up they examined it.

“This is a technologically advanced system,” Evgenia informed with concern in her voice. “There are components I’ve never seen before and I’d have no idea what they do unless I had the time to properly test them.” “And as we’d discerned before, there was high level magic used to make and power this. That might be what’s failing,” Bartley added. “I’d agree,” Fredryck informed as his magical detection spell showed the diminishing magical auras.

Evgenia went to Adam. “Am I going to die?” Adam inquired. “I don’t know for sure,” Evgenia mentally told him. “Real people die, Adam. It’s a fact of life,” she added. “We tried but I think when the generator stops you won’t live much longer,” she concluded. “I know,” Adam answered. “Will you stay with me?”

“I will,” Evgenia answered before stating his request aloud. “We all will,” Fredryck answered for them. Another loud noise came from the generator and they could hear the generator quickly slowing down. “We’ll bring them to justice, the ones that did this to you,” she promised Adam. “You’re still my fairy with the turquoise hair,” he communicated to her. Adam’s mind grew quiet as the generator ground to a halt and then shortly after, Evgenia lost contact with his mind.

Somberness fell over the workshop. The static that had everybody’s hair on ends had dissipated with the demise of the generator. “Never again,” Ford promised as he abruptly left the workshop.

Bartley followed him to where the blueprints were. “Wait,” he ordered as Ford grabbed the blueprints and a box of matches. “We need the blueprints to remove what’s left of Adam from that machine,” he informed. “They burn afterward,” Ford promised.

Carefully, they disassembled the 999 and removed the human parts. Ford then took the plans and burned them. “With Adam’s remains, we can clear Shrewsbury and Julia,” Bartley suggested. “Plant the remains from the forest in the doctor’s hidden room and have his ‘lawyer’ call for the police when he ‘finds’ them there,” Fredryck acknowledged.

“I’d guess that if we pulled up a few floorboards in the Monroe household, we could plant these remains there to make sure the police are on the lookout for Terry Monroe instead of Shrewsbury and Julia,” Dracona added. “Then, once the police are convinced of who the real murders were, they’ll release Adam’s remains for a proper burial,” Evgenia suggested.

They set things up to implicate Dr. Nettles, Terry Monroe and the other deceased people. Evgenia used her investigative wits to make sure the evidence was bullet proof. With their plan implemented, they sent telegrams to Fellowship personnel informing that the operatives had been cleared and the need for advanced magic had passed.

Search as they did, there were no leads as to where Terry Monroe might have fled. But, they took comfort in knowing that they stopped Terry’s corruption of Henry Ford and put Adam properly to rest. Ford vowed never again to use human parts in his horseless carriage designs.

Oldfield thanked them. Ford went beyond that. “My friends, you have corrected a big error in judgment of mine. Monroe obviously tricked me into doing horrible, blasphemous things. I have here a reward for your assistance. In exchange for which I only ask that should Monroe be found and brought to justice that my name will not be drug down with him.” Ford gave each of them a reward. In addition, he gave them a note for an investor’s share, when he finally starts his horseless carriage company.

With the new evidence uncovered by the “relatives”, the police cleared Shrewsbury and Julia. Within a day, Shrewsbury and Julia presented themselves at the Detroit police station to answer questions. The police got their story about Julia’s brief captivity and rescue from the murdering satanic cultists. In another day, Adam’s remains were released.

Dr. Nettles’ female ‘relative’ insisted on giving the orphan boy a proper burial with a plot and headstone at the Elmwood cemetery in Detroit. It was the least she could do after learning of Nettles’ mistreatment of the boy. The party attended the funeral which was presided over by the priest from the Detroit Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints. The headstone included chiseled depictions of Pinocchio and a fairy.

View
Clockwork 1888 Session 70

Clockwork 1888 Date: Monday, Feb. 11, through Friday, February 15, 1889
With the days of horseback travel in Arizona, they welcomed a few days recovery at the Harvey Hotel. Bartley stopped in to visit with Armin on the twelfth. “Did I get any telegrams while we were away?” he inquired. “Nothing’s come through,” Armin answered. “You were expecting something?”

“Well, I’d sent a telegram to kin when we landed in New York, mentioned I’d be in Winslow and asked if they could do with a visit,” Bartley informed. “Well, I’ll keep an eye out for you but nothing’s come in so far,” Armin responded before changing the subject. “You had mentioned seeing the Indians up by the Wupatki ruins,” he began his line of inquiry. “Before the ancients moved away from villages such as Wupatki, they called upon the spirits of their dead ancestors to protect the sites.”

“Now, I’m not saying that I’m superstitious,” Armin interjected, “but rumor has it that if somebody takes any of the pottery shards or such from the area that bad luck seems to follow until it’s returned.” “Nobody took anything from there,” Bartley assured. Bartley did not take the shard that had caught his eye. The old Indian man gave it to him after Bartley had expressed his understanding of the plight of the American Indians.

On Wednesday, Feb. 13, a telegram arrived for them. But, it was not the telegram Bartley was looking for. “Please travel to Detroit, Michigan, and meet with Henry Oldfield as soon as possible. A timely matter requires your immediate attention. He’ll be waiting for you at the Russell House hotel, on the southeast corner of Cadillac Square and Woodward Avenue, at 7:30 am on Friday, Feb 15.”

Uncertain of what awaited, they boarded a train to Detroit. They arrived late on the evening of Feb. 14 and found rooms waiting for them at the Russell House Hotel. In the morning they met their contact. Henry Oldfield was a man approaching 50 with a slender build and gray hair and mustache. After the appropriate handshakes and pass phrases, they went to Fredryck’s room to be able to speak privately.

“You’re here for a very important, very complicated mission,” Oldfield began as he got down to business. “Three days ago, Detroit Police found the following people at a home on Myrtle Ave.” He passed out five folders. “None of these people were native to the city, but all were found together, dead, on the night of February 12. We’ve successfully intercepted attempts by the police to contact the next of kin of each of them. We need you to impersonate grieving relatives or stoic lawyers to acquire the personal possessions of the deceased.” He gave them a few moments to look over the files before continuing. At first glance, the deceased appeared to be a family recently moved to Detroit, and some friends they’d made since then.

“That’s the easy part,” he informed. “The people described are, or rather were, important to the Fellowship. Their leader, a man named Terry Monroe, is not among the deceased. We don’t currently know where he is. But, we do know that he had strong ties to an enthusiastic man in nearby Dearborn, Mr. Henry Ford. Your secondary mission is to either find Monroe or find out what he was doing.”

“Why is the Fellowship interested in them,” Bartley inquired. “I’m just an information gatherer for the Fellowship,” Oldfield clarified. “I work in the insane asylum in Toledo, Ohio. I was here on asylum business when this happened. I reported it and they asked me to get the information together. I spent my time gathering all the details that I was able to find about the deceased and intercepting the telegrams to their next of kin.”

“I don’t know why the Fellowship is interested in the deceased, who murdered them, or why,” he explained. “Your job is to get the personal effects of the deceased and figure out what the missing person was up to or what happened to him, if possible. So, you’ll have to develop your covers and figure out what happened. I’m just a gatherer. I turn the information over to you higher ups.”

Oldfield noticed that he’d probably gotten a little more zealous than necessary so he calmed himself a bit. “If you need introduced to Henry Ford, I can draft an introduction letter because we’ve recently met.” “We appreciate your efforts,” Fredryck interjected. “We can take it from here.” “Thank you,” Oldfield answered. “I’ll leave you to it, then,” he said as he bid them adieu.

The police telegraphs were in the files so that might help to rationalize their appearances at the police station to gather the belongings of the murdered people. “I could pose as Susan Monroe’s sister from Indianapolis, Indiana,” Dracona said after Oldfield left. “I can act as legal counsel for the librarian’s family from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,” Archibald offered concerning Scott Johnson.

“I’ll play Doctor Nettles’ Chicago, Illinois, lawyer,” Bartley added. “But I might need some help because I’m usually not so good at this type of thing.” “I’ll help you, then,” Evgenia offered, “serve as a grieving relative, if needed.” “I’m fluent in German,” Fredryck informed. “I can be German military who tracked the AWOL German Corporal Hargrow from Toledo, sent to collect the body and possessions of this fake Christopher Hargrow.”

After drafting appropriate letters, powers of attorney, USA and German government orders and similar documents, they worked up their disguises. Fredryck would use the excuse that he was in plain clothes because his government and the US government were cooperating. But, neither government wanted to draw attention to the German officer tasked with retrieving the renegade soldier.

They checked the train schedules. A train from the East had arrived early that morning. So, it would not be unlikely for people from Philadelphia and Toledo to have come to Detroit on the same train. The train schedules for trains from Chicago, west, and Indianapolis, south, helped them plan their visits to the police station, accordingly. And, of course, not everybody would head straight from the train station to the police station. So, they set up rooms at different hotels under their assumed names.

Archibald started the process at the district police station. The officer on duty appeared to be a seasoned watch sergeant. Sgt. William Dwyer greeted Archibald at the front desk of the police station. Archibald introduced his persona and was asked to provide credentials and state his business. Turning over the forged documents to the sergeant, he noticed that the documents seemed to bother Officer Dwyer.

But, then Archibald produced the telegram from the Detroit police. The telegram proved most valuable in the discussion. The district police station had confiscated some of the belongings as evidence and other miscellaneous possessions, including keys to open the respective residences. The other possessions were being kept in property storage until next of kin could be notified. Archibald was able to get access to the belongings of Scott Johnson plus the keys and room number to his room at the Cadillac Hotel.

“Somebody got a good look at the possible murderers,” Officer Dwyer informed as he held out to Archibald a pair of sketches that they’d made. “They’re rumored to have fled to Canada but they might still be around here. We’re working with Canadian authorities to try and capture the suspected murderers but the investigation in Canada is out of our hands. If you see either of these people, you’d best just report it to us.” Archibald concealed the fact that he recognized the sketch of the man. “I’ll surely do so, sir,” Archibald assured.

After his foray into deceiving the Detroit Police, Archibald returned to the Russell Hotel with valuable reconnaissance for the others. “Shrewsbury,” Archibald said as they gathered to discuss his police station success. “Lerwick Shrewsbury from the were-spider killings in Manchester?” Fredryck inquired. “The same,” Archibald answered. “They don’t have his name but it seems Shrewsbury is a prime suspect in the murders … Lerwick and some young woman.”

“What?” Bartley piped up. Bartley quickly ran through a description that uncannily matched the sketch of the woman that Archibald had seen. “That’s Julia, my niece and adopted daughter,” Bartley informed. “We were both recruited into the Fellowship by Shrewsbury. Julia was still in training when I got the ghost assignment in Gibraltar.” “Well,” Fredryck said, “at least he got away this time. That’s an improvement over the were-spider incident.” “Julia’s in trouble now,” Bartley grumbled. “Yes, she’s wanted related to a murder,” Fredryck reinforced.

It was appropriate for Dracona to try for access to Susan Monroe’s effects, next. Susan had a sister still in Indianapolis so Dracona had decided to portray her. Sgt. Dwyer bought her tear-filled pleadings and didn’t seem to go over the documents nearly as closely as he did with the lawyer that had arrived earlier. After securing the address, its key and the effects of Susan Monroe, she reported back to the others. The sergeant seemed to have a soft spot for women.

The next logical choice was to get the effects of Doctor Nettles. Bartley arrived and the carriage, with Evgenia, waited outside the police station. Perhaps it was the Texan accent but Sgt. Dwyer was not so convinced he was the deceased person’s legal authority from Chicago. Frustrated, Bartley went to the door of the police station, opened it and called to the waiting carriage. “Lady Nettles, the police are refusing to turn his effects over to me,” he called.

As the black-veiled woman stepped out of the carriage, she wept openly and went on about not being sure if she could bear the stress of having to deal with her dearly departed’s gathering of effects and legal dealings. Bartley helped her through the doorway of the station, her leaning heavily on him for physical support. Sgt. Dwyer softened and came to help the grieving woman. “It’s all right, ma’am,” he said. “Just sit down and I’ll let the doctor’s legal counsel take care of it. I just needed to be sure he wasn’t some bamboozler, ma’am.”

Fredryck’s impersonation of a German soldier that spoke enough English to get by, plus the occasional German mumbling when Sgt. Dwyer asked a question of him, seemed to work quite well. Learning that Hargrow was an AWOL German soldier only seemed to reinforce the sergeant’s desire to help out the soldier tasked with returning the AWOL soldier and his effects. So, with all the items available from the police, they moved their investigations to the residences of the deceased.

The Hargrow residence was on 8th Ave. It was small and simple, with few furnishings. There was a bedroom, a living room, and a kitchen. In the living room, they found a set of files detailing available property between Toledo and Detroit. That included the homes of Anthony Nettles and Mr. and Mrs. Terry Monroe. In the bedroom, they found a pin showing the symbol of the Six-Fingered Hand.

Scott Johnson’s personal effects included the name of the hotel he was staying at – the Cadillac hotel. And in with his money he had a fake coin with the symbol of the Six-Fingered Hand on it. The hotel room had clothing and books that covered topics including biology, medical science, physics, and sports. They decided that because the Monroe residence was where the murders took place, they’d search it last.

Doctor Nettles was a surgeon working at the Detroit Children’s Hospital of Michigan. In his home, they found proof of his credentials, and proof of employment. They also found a tin calling card that showed the symbol of the Six-Fingered Hand. It was Archibald that noticed that the interior walls of the rooms seemed to be unusually thick. Searching, they found a secret door to a hidden room in the center of the house. It was a small operating room and an operation was performed in the room within the last week.

The Monroe residence was on Myrtle Avenue. The site of the massacre, the living room, was covered in blood and there were bullet holes in the overturned furniture and the walls. Using string and looking at the angle of the holes they were able to determine that there was not a murder but a gun battle. The “murderers” had apparently taken point behind an overturned dining room table. They also found a chair from the kitchen in the center of the living room. Ropes that had been cut were found mostly near the kitchen chair and behind the overturned dining room table.

It seemed as if somebody had been held captive, tied to the kitchen chair in the center of the living room. A window showed broken glass inside the house, indicating that the rescuer must have entered there. Cutting the captive loose, the captive and rescuer were making their escape when they were discovered and the gun battle ensued. The “murdered” people lost the gun battle but the others didn’t escape unscathed because there were blood stains behind the overturned table.

Moving on they searched the home’s two bedrooms. One was for an adult male and one for an adult female. In addition there was an office, a kitchen, and the aforementioned dining room and living room. In the woman’s bedroom, they found an obsidian pendant with the symbol for the Six-Fingered Hand on it. The male’s bedroom had nothing but the furniture in it but it was certainly in use.

In the office they found incomplete blueprints for a vehicle of some kind that had signatures of both Terry Monroe and Henry Ford. Furthermore, they found documentation verifying that Terry and Susan had adopted a son named Adam from the Detroit Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints. The adoption was finalized on January 22, 1889. Bartley seemed confused. “There are no signs of a child living here,” he mentioned. “Oh no,” Dracona said with dread. “The operating room,” the others chimed in.

Heading back to the doctor’s residence, they took a slight detour to the church. The administrator, Claire-Louise Barnhill, told them that the 8 year old boy was average. They take care of hundreds of children and she didn’t remember anything specific about him. But, the adoptive parents seemed quite nice, as far as she remembered. Church personnel knew nothing else so they continued back to the doctor’s place.

Inside the doctor’s home, again, they went straight to the secret operating room. “I need something that belonged to the person who was operated on,” Evgenia requested. They scoured the house looking for some toy or anything related to a child until Fredryck asked, “what about the dried blood?” Evgenia carefully scraped the dried brown matter and focused on it. With a heavy heart she reported that indeed the owner of the blood was a young boy of about 8 years. The vivisection she envisioned would have killed him. But, she sensed the boy was not quite dead even though she couldn’t explain the reason for that feeling.

But, it was almost 8 and they just had enough time to catch the train out to Dearborn. With a letter of introduction from Henry Oldfield in hand, they approached the house of the Ford farm. The door was answered by a woman in her early twenties that introduced herself as Clara Ford. She informed that Henry was in the workshop, out back. But they conversed with her a bit to learn that Terry Monroe had been working with Henry Ford for about 6 months.

“Henry really doesn’t like farming,” she disclosed, “but he loves working with steam engines and has been thinking about horseless carriages.” Clara didn’t particularly like Monroe. “He was quiet, never really talked to anyone but Henry,” she informed. “Monroe and Henry would work for hours in the workshop after Henry had finished his regular work. Henry said that Monroe was keenly interested in engineering electrical things and he helped Henry design a generator for the workshop.” But, she knew they were there to see Henry so she pointed the way from the back door of the farm house.

Approaching, they could see a light in one section of the workshop. There were large double doors and another entry door to the largest part of the building. But, they couldn’t see into that area. The other door had the light coming from it and they knocked to introduce themselves.

Henry Ford, a young man of 25, was curious that so many of people had come at that hour. When they mentioned that they were looking for Terry Monroe, he told them that he hadn’t seen Terry for a couple of days. “Terry inspired me to work on horseless carriages. I hope to someday build those rather than work on steam engines for Westinghouse. My real passion is to design horseless carriages that are better and faster. Terry was helping me design a faster, lighter driverless carriage. He was most valuable in obtaining the needed materials. Our design is in the workshop but it still has a few … quirks. I wish I knew where Terry was. With his help I’d be more confident that it would be ready for production.”

They expressed interest in seeing the design. Ford made sure that they weren’t horseless carriage developers, themselves. With that out of the way, he gladly showed the blueprints for the vehicle that they’d designed and built. At first glance, it was the blueprint for both an engine and a vehicle.

The first page said that it was the design for the Ford/Monroe Model 999. Henry commented that it was Terry’s idea to number it such. “Some texts disguise references to 666, the number of The Beast, by inverting the symbol to make 999,” Bartley whispered to Fredryck who nodded confirmation.

Another page declared it to be a design for an Automatic Driving Auto Mobile. “A. D. A. M. Adam,” Evgenia noted in a hush to Dracona as Ford continued explaining the design. The chassis design was entirely contained, ovoid in shape in the body and with windows. It wasn’t big enough to contain a generator so the power supply was external. Some of the parts were unique and didn’t look strong enough to survive the rigorous motion of an engine.

The design was actually two separate designs, with separate names, combined to one design that could be better than either of the originals. The engine design used static electricity. The generator required an enormous amount of electricity, maybe even lightning harnessed from a storm. Bartley, Dracona and Fredrcyk quietly recognized, “or summoned and magically bound.”

“The 999 prototype works, but it’s confined to the workshop. It doesn’t work as a proper vehicle. I can’t even determine its top speed. We were working on a way to internalize the generator, but then Terry disappeared. Currently, the generator that Terry designed is producing a static electricity field that powers the prototype. The energy field could work for short distances, but significant modifications would have to be made. For one, I’d have to make the wheels out of a non-conductive material like wood, or rubber. I think that I might be able to solve the problem by reducing the size of the controls. Maybe use different materials.”

“Some of the parts seem to be organic,” Evgenia noticed. “It’s believed that the nervous system uses static electricity to move energy around the body,” Ford explained. “Doctor Frankenstein’s experiments made use of static electricity,” she noted. “He also used the power of lightning to create his creature.” “Literary hypothesizing,” Ford countered. “The vehicle produces a byproduct, but isn’t consuming its own fuel. There’s no clear source of the emission.”

“Terry supplied the materials for the controls,” he continued. “They’re the heart, brain, and nervous system of a calf. He got it from one of the local butchers. He didn’t say which one. The prototype has been active for two days.”

“Did you know that Terry and Susan adopted a child, an orphan?” Evgenia inquired. “He never mentioned a child,” Ford answered. “The child,” she continued, “was named Adam – A. D. A. M. – and he’s not been seen for weeks, never even lived with them.” Ford looked carefully at her.

“Is it possible that, instead of a calf, orphan body parts were used in the creation of the 999?” Henry was greatly disturbed by the insinuation. “That’s horrific,” he answered. “It’s not even possible that the young boy’s organs were passed off as calf organs. But, I can’t provide any proof. I didn’t see them and took Terry’s word on it.”

It was clear that he was trying to convince himself that such a thing couldn’t have happened. With a little nudging they were able to convince him that it could have actually been the remains of the adopted Adam used in the vehicle. “This may sound mad,” he offered, “but I don’t think it wants me to turn it off. It seems angry whenever I go near the generator. Is there any way to know for sure?” “We need to see it,” Fredryck suggested. Henry led them out and to the other door.

The workshop was a 50 × 50 foot room with a steel floor, empty of tables and tools to give the 999 room to maneuver. The walls were twenty feet high and the ceiling was vaulted with crossbar rafters at ten foot intervals, eighteen feet above the floor. The set of double doors were wide enough for raw materials and finished products to pass through. Currently locked, the double doors only opened from inside. The windows were all painted black on the inside.

The generator was in the north east corner of the room with a number of levers, plungers, and buttons. It was of a unique design by Terry Monroe. On the wall near the entry door, a ladder led up to a raised wooden catwalk along the south wall, 12 feet off the ground and 5 feet wide. The railing had a 15 inch wide ledge to use for documents and notes.

The only inhabitant of the room was the 999, a four wheeled vehicle, monstrous in appearance. Shiny metal, a contoured window and a sleek football shaped design glided on metal wheels that sparked and squealed as it moved. Long cables lay along all four edges of the room, producing the energy field that powered the 999.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 69

Clockwork 1888 Date: Sunday, Wednesday, February 6, through Sunday, February 10,1889
“I saw that the snake swarms seemed to avoid some areas,” Evgenia noted ash she looked around. Closer examination showed that nodules, like that on the desk at the mining office, were where the snake swarms avoided. They decided to gather a couple nodules each, just in case they’d come in handy later. After all, this was not the first snake people they’d fought and probably wouldn’t be the last. Packing them in their saddlebags, they started their journey to the northwest.

Dusk came soon enough and they stopped where the Indian had indicated was a useful campsite. As they traveled on the next day, they could see some red rock ruins, not too distant, and decided to visit. Dismounting, they spread out but kept within eyesight of each other. Bartley spotted something old in the dirt of the floor and picked it up. Just then, Fredryck called out, “We’ve got company.” Bartley dropped the artifact back to the ground.
Where Fredryck stood, there was an old Indian man that had made his presence known. “This is Indian land,” the old Indian man said. “Company over here, too,” Dracona called out as an Indian woman showed herself. “Hey, we’re out here looking for another snake man so just stay calm,” Fredryck answered with his usual air of nobility.

Bartley could tell that Fredryck’s nobility would not win them friends here. “We saw this place and decided to look here. We meant no offense,” Bartley interjected. “We are not here to intrude and only wished to see if the snake man was here.” “The snake man went that way,” the Indian man pointed northwest.

“What’s the problem,” Fredryck interjected, “we’re just here to look.” “Fredryck, you don’t understand,” Bartley said. “This is an Indian reservation, Wupatki, Navajo land, and these people probably just returned to their lands. You see, in 1864 the damned Yankees forced them all, over 8,000 Navajo, to leave their ancestral lands in Arizona and New Mexico. They made what they call the ‘Long Walk’ to Bosque Redondo internment camps in the Pecos Valley of New Mexico. Many Navajo died on the way but then they had a small pox epidemic and crop failures in those damn Yankee camps which killed even more of them. They were only allowed to return in 1868.”

“You know something of us and do not speak kindly of your white brothers,” the Indian man noted. “I’m a Southerner and they didn’t treat us well, either,” Bartley explained. “We wish you safe journey,” the Indian man said as Bartley and the others returned to their horses. The Indian man walked to where Bartley had picked up the artifact. Reaching down, he picked it up and tossed it to Bartley. “Let us know what becomes of the snake men,” he said as Bartley caught the artifact and acknowledged the request.

They rode on until they got to the next campsite location that the Indian man had told them of, just before dusk. The travel had not been easy, and all were tired. The land was beautiful, but brutal. Last night’s camp was a welcome, if small relief from the unforgiving terrain. It is a good site, sheltered from the wind and level, with water nearby. They were setting up camp for their second night when Bartley noticed somebody approaching.

The snake man came toward them. His body writhed in a covering of live snakes, and his pupils contracted to slits as the light from the setting sun hit his bright yellow eyes. His speech was sibilant, albeit with a strong Spanish accent, as he struggled to form words with a forked tongue flicking over long sharp fangs.

“You mussst help me. I have found an amulet that mussst be dessstroyed. The Great Ssspirit hasss led me to thisss thing of evil and I cannot dessstroy it alone! Help me!”

“We can help you,” Bartley said as he got the attention of the others. They surmised that this was Armando Escobar and the fire agate bolo tie clasp from Pablo Ramirez pulled towards Armando. “Show us the amulet you speak of so we can help destroy it,” they bluffed. Armando the snake man brought forth an amulet, turquoise set in gold. They examined the amulet. It was Aztec in design and symbols but Bartley recognized that it was more recently constructed and not old enough to be authentic.

They also noticed that the snake man Armando also wore a bolo tie and it lifted slightly from the snake covered chest to follow the amulet, just like the bolo clasp from Pablo did. “They were tuned to find the amulet,” Fredryck surmised. Both Fredryck and Bartley divined magic from the amulet and the bolo clasps, although the amulet was stronger. Evgenia read the object and saw that its owner was Armin Krantz, their Fellowship contact. The snake man had dug it out of its hiding place in the Grand Canyon.

Remembering other amulets that the Fellowship had secreted away, they decided to not destroy amulet. “We need to take this to a volcano to destroy it,” Fredryck announced to the snake man. The snake man studied him. “A special volcano,” Dracona chimed in. The snake man almost bought it.

“You lie!” he screamed as he became enraged. The snake man slammed Bartley with his fist and one of the snakes covering him tried to bite Bartley, as well. Archibald wasted no time shooting with his rifle as Bartley responded by drawing and swinging his sword. Fredryck advanced, drawing his sword, and hit the snake man. Dracona stepped up, blasted him with fire and Evgenia fired her rifle, too.

Although the snakes covering Armando seemed to absorb some of the damage, within a few rounds, the battle was over and the enraged snake man lie dead. The snakes retreated from his body. They retrieved the fire agate clasped bolo tie from his body and confirmed that indeed the bolo tie clasps had been made to seek out the amulet.

The rest of the night was uneventful and in the morning they started back to Winslow. They stopped at the old Indian ruins and Bartley told them that the snake man was dead. Another day later they returned to Winslow where they turned the amulet and bolos over to Armin Krantz for safe keeping.

Armin was surprised that the amulet was found but understood when they demonstrated the bolo tie clasps that seemed made to seek the amulet. Armin promised that both the amulet and the bolo tie clasps would be safely hidden away, in separate places, of course. He had some thinking to do, though, as he thought the Grand Canyon was an ideal hiding place. Still, with the task completed, the retired to the hotel for a good meal and rest at the Harvey House.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 68

Clockwork 1888 Date: Sunday, January 27, through Wednesday, February 6, 1889

Bartley stepped up and took the coat. Looking up, he saw the captain nodding to indicate that they had the same idea. “Take her other effects and leave the deck. Go back to your rooms,” he told them. They gathered up her remaining things and hurriedly left the deck. Sure that everybody had left the deck, Bartley walked to the starboard side of the bow and tossed her coat overboard. “Man overboard!” he called out.

Seafaring search and rescue procedures for a person overboard were implemented. When the passengers were assembled, all but Leanne Shae was accounted for. After several hours of searching, the search boats were only able to recover Miss Shae’s coat. Her person was not found. As dawn broke, the captain called in the search teams and declared Miss Leanne Shae lost at sea, presumed dead. Sad with a second shipboard casualty, the ship continued its journey for New York.

Shipboard gossip ran amok with stories of a forbidden affair between the young steerage artist that had died of exposure to the January Atlantic cold and the rich woman that had apparently thrown herself overboard after her lover’s death. Rumors said that she was to meet the young man near the lifeboat and he waited patiently for her. But she never showed, possibly because she was exhausted from other dalliances that a single woman of her standing might have.

There were rumors that the young man in the brig had assaulted Miss Shae not long before she took her life. There were rumors that the man in the brig was a friend of the dead artist. Rumors said that he assaulted her in a confrontation over his dead friend. Her guilt over missing her rendezvous with the chap drove her to throw herself overboard. Those that knew the truth, however, kept it to themselves.

The captain asked Fredryck and his associates to go through the personal effects of the lhiannan-shee to see if there was anything that could be dangerous or useful. Checking for magical auras amongst her belongings, they came across a short black cape. It was of fine material with a fine silver clasp at the neck and styled such that it could be worn by a proper man or woman of the time. It had black silk lining and very fine black silk threads created almost indiscernible embroidered runes on the collar and around the bottom of the cape. Informing the captain of the find, he suggested that it might be useful to them and that they should keep it.

The day after the overboard passenger drama brought other excitement as a school of dolphins made a show off the port bow. But later in the evening, those with a sharp eye spotted a strange glow that had surfaced about 500 yards off the starboard side. It had what appeared to be glowing eyes and looked to be the size of a large whale. It kept its distance from the Britannic, as if watching it, trying to determine if it was friend or foe.

Evgenia had the presence of mind to carry her binoculars and brought them to bear on the strange thing. Through them she could see that the strange thing was not a whale or other beast but most likely a craft of some sort. “Nemo,” escaped her lips in a whisper, referring to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea that was published in 1870 by the French writer, Jules Verne. Next to her, Fredryck heard her. “Submersibles have not proven practical, yet,” he whispered. “You think it the Nautilus,” he quietly inquired. “I think many things are possible,” she answered, handing the binoculars to him. But, within another minute it dove beneath the waves, again.

Other than a pod of whales, the rest of the journey to New York was uneventful. The decks were full of immigrants wanting their first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, given to the states by the French in 1886, standing on Bedloe’s Island in New York harbor. Arriving about 2 am on the morning of Feb. 2, the statue’s torch light could be seen from afar. With no reason to stay and be processed as immigrants, they were able to get into New York proper and get settled into their hotel well before noon.

They had almost a full day and night before they were to board a train on Feb. 3 for their final destination of Winslow, Arizona. Archibald was anxious and pleased to be in New York. They had a hotel on Manhattan Island and Archibald suggested they see a Broadway show while there. “These Yankees won’t get any of my coin,” Bartley commented. “I got to eat but I’ll not spend another dime here,” he reinforced as he made for his hotel room.

At supper, Bartley was in a restaurant when he noticed a man, about 60 years old, which seemed familiar to him. Throughout his meal he pondered where he’d seen the man before. Finally, as the man was getting up to leave, he remembered that he’d seen a photo of the man when he visited with James West. “Artemus Gordon,” he called out as the man was about to leave.

The man paused, looked at him and then, abruptly left. Second guessing his assessment of the man’s identity, Bartley paid his bill and left. Walking back to his hotel he heard somebody come out of an alley he’d just passed. A hand grabbed his shoulder as an object was thrust into his back. “Walk into the next alley,” the voice instructed as it pushed the rod-like object harder into his back. Obediently, Bartley turned into the alley where he was instructed to stop but not turn around.

“Where did you hear that name,” the voice asked as it prodded his back with the object again. “I was visiting James West in Mexico and he talked about his partner, Artemus Gordon,” Bartley informed. “Oh,” the voice said with an air of relief as the object was removed from his back. “Sorry for the cloak and dagger bit. It’s been a while since I’d heard that name and I tend to err on the side of caution. Please turn around.” Bartley turned to face the man he surmised was Artemus Gordon as he draped his cane over his arm. “How is James, nowadays?”

“The last I saw him, James West was doing fine,” Bartley informed. “Good, good. I should tell you that Artemus Gordon was my Secret Service name. We were supposed to have aliases, for security reasons, you understand. Some people didn’t do that, however,” he said, obviously referring to James West.

“Today, I operate a traveling troupe of actors, the Martin Theater Troupe. We’re playing at a local show place in town, off Broadway, of course. Now I go by my stage name, Ross Martin.” “So you have a stage alias, too?” Bartley inquired. “Well, Martin Rosenblatt doesn’t exactly flow very well,” he said with a smile. “I heard that Jim was rumored to have taken a lovely senorita as a wife. Did you meet her?” “I’m afraid my visit was probably before that,” Bartley informed.

“So, what’s your name?” Martin inquired. “I’m Bartley Vautrain,” he introduced. Martin answered, “You’re related to Colonel Vautrain?” “My father,” Bartley informed. “Yes, in 1872 Colonel Noel Vautrain repaid West for saving his life during the Civil War. We accompanied the Colonel on a little jaunt, if I recall.” “That’s what James said,” Bartley confirmed. They conversed a bit more before parting ways. As he left, Bartley couldn’t help but feel that there was something that Artemus Gordon, or Ross Martin, was hiding. But, he decided not to press him for it.

The others took in some shows on Broadway. With their arrival early on Saturday, Feb. 2, they took in a matinee performance of The Pearl of Pekin’, a musical, revival comic opera, at the Standard Theatre. They had supper and then caught the evening show of Natural Gas at the Bijou Opera House. Deciding they could sleep on the train, some of them even caught the late revival showing of Nadya at the Casino Theatre. In his element there, it was just the kind of distraction that Archibald needed after his brush with the lhiannan-shee.

Catching their train Sunday morning, they spent the next three days traveling to their destination, Winslow Arizona. It was a quiet dusty little mining town with a wooden church and a small Harvey House hotel. “Well, it’s small for the chain but at least we’ve got first class accommodations,” Bartley informed as they made their way to the hotel. “Here? In this place? What do you mean?” Dracona questioned.

“The Harvey House was started in 1875 by Fred Harvey,” Bartley informed. “They offer first class dining and rooms. The staff is made entirely of young women who are held to strict moral and hygienic guidelines. All the guidelines have to be adhered to if the girl wants to remain employed. But, in return they get a very generous wage plus room and board.” Opening the door, they saw a clean, neat and almost opulent lobby that the exterior façade gave little indication of.

“Welcome to Harvey House, ladies and gentlemen,” an attractive woman of about 30 greeted them. She wore a heavily starched, ironed and immaculate white apron over a plain black dress with sensible shoes. She tapped a button on top of a brass device on the counter that caused it to ring like a bell. As she moved out from behind the counter, more attractive younger women, dressed the same, came out from another room. “We’ve been expecting you. Mr. Krantz from the telegraph office reserved rooms for you,” the first woman informed as the ladies took their travel trunks.

They were not disappointed in their rooms and after their luggage was dropped off, they made their way next door to the telegraph office. Inside they were met by Armin Krantz, their fellowship contact. After handshakes confirmed each of them as fellowship members, Armin gave them the information he had.

“About 3 weeks ago, strange lights were seen and odd sounds heard in the vicinity of Coon Butte, about 20 miles west of town,” Armin told. “Since then, the local domesticated animals have been very skittish, and unusual numbers of predatory birds have been seen flying over the area. These events prompted my report, and your assignment here. I suggest you begin your investigation with the two most vocal eyewitnesses, Dolores Panklet, a local oddball who keeps ring-tail cats, and Crandall Graves, a local iron miner, and serious drunk. A trip to the butte itself would probably be advisable as well.”

Finding the drunken miner under the old oak tree, they roused him to get his story. “Sure, I saw them lights,” Crandall told. “Blue, red and yellow ones, comin’ out from the butte. Heard a big noise too, like a great tree striking the earth, and then echoing on and on for about five minutes. That ain’t all I saw, neither. Last week I saw a coyote. It dug a hole and buried somethin’ out by the butte.”

“New to town,” a voice called. They looked to see a young man in his twenties approaching. “Nelson Vickers,” the fit, neat and attractive young man introduced. Pointing to the small church, a standard white wooden affair with a steeple standing about twenty feet off the ground, “I’m the pastor,” he said. He seemed very eager and sincere and sincere in hoping they’d stop by the church. He gladly spoke with them but skillfully brought the conversation around to spiritual matters whenever possible. He was a Mormon missionary and had recently convinced the townsfolk, mostly through the town mothers, to make Winslow a dry town. He was very proud of that accomplishment.

But, he had contacts in the local Zuni Indian tribe, who call themselves Ashiwi, and offered to send for a guide to the crater, if they needed it. Sensing that they’d expose themselves to a large helping of preaching while he sent for the guide, they declined his offer. Otherwise, he had no real information about anything strange and dismissed talk of such as idle talk of the inebriated or followers of Satan. He did mention that there was mining in the area and pointed them to the mining office.

The mining office was calmer than one might suspect. The local manager was JT Farms, a bulk of a man in his early forties. He tried to answer their questions but didn’t know much of consequence. Since almost nothing was happening at the time, he was happy to whittle the daylight away talking to them. It seemed that workers were not willing to go out to the site to work due to the strange goings on. But, the mine owner was currently between sites and was out drumming up more capital before starting a new shaft.

They did get some basic information about Coon Butte, almost a mile across, almost 600 feet deep, and with a rim 150 feet high. They learned that the mining company was drilling for what they believed to be an enormous mass of special iron from the butte’s center. It was surrounded by scattered nodules of special iron and there was a large nodule on display there, about the size of a grapefruit. A plaque on the display case said that the special iron was somehow infused with a strange crystalline substance similar to diamond. There were also pictures of the company’s founders prominently displayed.

Planning their supplies for their trip to the butte, they made their way to the pharmacy establishment, a typical wooden western storefront. Although the sign outside said “Pharmacy”, inside it was much more. There was a fully stocked soda fountain, and a fairly comprehensive general store, as well as the usual palliatives and cure-alls. The place bustled with activity, and was obviously a gathering place for the townsfolk. All manner of people were gathered there, enjoying cool drinks and social interaction.

Asking around with the various townsfolk about the state of the town revealed that nobody was all that concerned about work stopping since the current shaft had been abandoned and the new one hadn’t started yet. Some of the miners did quietly admit that they saw some lights, but not well enough to describe, and they told them to talk to Crandall. They did get the miners to share that a Spaniard, Armando Escobar, went out to investigate the butte about two weeks ago. When he didn’t return, his friend, Pablo Ramirez, went out to look for him. Pablo left last weekend and had not returned either. They were able to get descriptions of the two men.

Knowing the butte was 35 miles away and the cat ranch five miles out of town, they would require transportation and so ended their questioning at the stables. They each rented light horses from Mr. Hansel. Although the horses were skittish, they decided to rent them and hoped to control them in their travels out of town. Getting some equipment to allow them to spend some time about, they left for the ringtail cat ranch.

“Ringtail cats aren’t cats, you know. They’re closely related to raccoons,” Evgenia informed as they approached the home of the elderly Delores Planket. “Yup, I saw lights out over the crater,” Delores told them after spitting some tobacco juice into the yard. “Green and purple ones. Now my cats are scared all the time. It’s all I can do to keep ‘em calm. Heard weird howls last weekend. Now that really scared my kitties. Last week, one of my poor babies was bit by a poison snake! Poor thing is still laid up sick.”

They offered to take a look at the “cat” and, try as they did; they were only able to make it a bit more comfortable. But, it would live so they decided to make their way out to the butte. A couple miles out they could see the rim just visible in the distance. Bartley noticed that only birds and snakes seemed evident in the area. “Well, snakes are primary food for predatory desert birds,” Evgenia informed.

About a mile from the butte the rim looked impressive. But, what drew their attention more was that the ground was swarming with snakes of all kinds. The horses did not like the presence of all the snakes but they were able to prod them to go closer. About sixty feet from the butte, a man clothed in a suit of living snakes walked out of a gully at the base of the rim. The carpet of snakes rippled like a wave toward them as the snake covered man spoke.

“Infidels! Defilers! You defame this holy place with your presence! I’m the instrument of the Great Spirit and in his name, I shall destroy you!” He gestured toward them, and the writhing carpet of serpents at your feet became agitated and hostile, biting at the horse’s legs and hooves. Their horses wanted to flee and Evgenia and Dracona were thrown by their panicked mounts. Evgenia landed on her back in the sea of snakes but Dracona tumbled and came up on her feet.

The snake covered man, intent on their death, moved forward and flung something at the lead rider, Fredryck. As it hit Fredryck’s breastplate and dropped, he noticed it was a snake. “This guy can throw snakes,” he called, “and they look poisonous!” Bartley steadied his horse against the snake swarm, drew a rifle and got off a shot at the man. The snake covering seemed to protect him as dead snakes fell from him to the carpet and the snake man seemed to barely feel the grazing gunshot.

Fredryck charged his horse forward, the snakes biting at its legs and brought his sword down hard. Although more snakes dropped to the ground, he was sure that blow got through to harm the man beneath. The snake swarm bit at Dracona’s boots as she drew her flask and breathed fire upon the ten foot swath in front of her. The carpet of snakes burned and slithered out of the fiery area, allowing Dracona to crawl into it for safety.
Archibald’s horse reared as the snake swarm bit the horse. But, Archibald controlled it and fired upon the snake man. Again, snakes fell from the snake man but Archibald was sure he’d hit the flesh and blood underneath.

The carpet of snakes attacked Evgenia before she rolled into the area cleared by Dracona and fired on the snake man with her rifle. The snake man swung at Fredryck but was unable to get through his armored protection. Bartley shot the snake man, again, and then Fredryck dealt the killing blow. As the horrible Spanish snake man breathed his last, the snakes ceased attacking, and began to disperse. Seeing the man without the snakes covering him, they could tell from the description they’d gotten that it was Pablo Ramirez, one of the Spaniards that had gone to investigate the strange lights.

An Indian man accompanied by a coyote emerged from behind a large rock. He walked slowly toward them, his arms outstretched with open palms facing them. “I saw your battle with the snake man. He is a thing of lies. He serves not the Great Spirit, but the Great Serpent. I saw another snake man here about two weeks ago. He went to the northwest.”

The Indian told them how best to follow the other snake man, where best to find water, and good places to camp along the way. He would not travel with them, however. On Pablo they found a bolo tie with a fire agate clasp. Whoever held the bolo tie noticed that it seemed to pull toward the northwest. Evgenia got a strong sense of being watched by something malevolent and alien when she held it.

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