Abilene Series Finale – 13 February 2016

Abilene Series Finale – 13 February 2016

November 25th, 1878

Awwww…hell….

The party investigates the automaton that attacked the camp.  A close inspection reveals that it’s of a different manufacture than the ones that Brady says are in Kincaid’s stable.  In fact, the remains show that it appears to have been operated by a human brain instead of the traditional clockwork.  This causes quite a bit of speculation, but it could be that it could be controlled by magic.

With no clear conclusion, and Howling Wind preparing the Kiowa for battle, the party beds down for the night.

The next morning, the battle lines form and the small force marches to Abilene.

The battle opens.  The party orchestrates the assault with Howling Wind.  There are several vignettes, followed by an epilogue.

 

Vignettes

 

Onesimus – you and Jacob are pinned down behind an overturned cart in the middle of Main Street.  There are at least two steam gatlings up the road chewing away at your cover.  You’ve been pinned too long.  Jacob ran out of ghost rock an eternity ago, he’s been reloading your rifles and putting down anyone who musters the nerve to try to flank you.  But it won’t last.  It can’t.

 

You’re about ready to heave over the top of the cart and take another Hail Mary shot, when a bright purple butterfly lands on the tip of your rifle.  It sits there for what feels like an eternity with the guns and the screams echoing all around.  It flaps its wings slowly.  Twice.  Then flutters away over the top of the cart.

 

And then you hear a roar.  In fact, everyone for five miles hears the roar.  It’s the roar of a beast the size of a house.  The roar of a myth.  The roar of a dragon.  There are screams, and gunshots, and more roaring, and a crash.  The steam cannons go quiet.

 

You peek over the top of the cart.  Everyone in the emplacement is dead.  The guns destroyed.

 

On the barricade, next to a very familiar rat, is a small…white…rabbit.  There’s a touch of blood on its muzzle.

 


 

Olivia – somehow in the smoke, and gunfire, and blood, you become separated from Holden.  It was a stick of dynamite, tossed into the midst of the band of Kiowa you were staying near.  There was smoke, and screaming…and then hands.  Hands dragging you roughly into a shop with blown out windows.  Punches to the gut, then kicks as you fell to the floor, rough curses.  You can’t even form a thought, much less a prayer.

And then…suddenly…nothing.  There’s some whooshing, and some grunts, and crunching.

You cough up some blood, and look up, and there he is…silhouetted by the sun shining through the window…you can…you can almost see the wings…

He bends down and lifts you up as if you’re weightless, and begins carrying you away from the sounds of guns and death.

“You do know,” he says, quite conversationally, “that I’m not actually ordained….  It’s just a cover story by the vatican.”

 


 

Ahiga – you and Ed are chasing through the streets and alleys with a large band of Kiowa when you encounter a fortified position armed with a number of steam guns from the Bull Run.  They mow down several warriors before you’re able to scramble to what little cover’s available.

 

Ed grins, and you see him say “fwied wice”, though you can’t hear his voice over the guns, then he falls into the dirt as if it were water.

 

Seconds later, he bolts into the midst of the soldiers in the gun emplacement.  He rips through the soldiers with an unearthly grace and economy of motion, dispatching a dozen men in seconds – a strike, a kick, grabs a rifle, hits the man behind him, throws the weapon into a third.  It’s stunning.

 

And then there’s the crack of a rifle, and everything goes still.  You see Ed turn and face a young man in half of a Confederate uniform, little more than a boy, holding a smoking rifle and shaking like a leaf.

 

Ed smiles warmly, puts his hands at prayer and bows deeply to the boy.  He turns and begins to walk back to your position, takes two steps, then stumbles to a knee, a look of curiosity and surprise on his face, then falls to the dust as the Kiowa charge over the barricade and overrun the position.

 


 

Onesimus-

The battle has arrived at a stalemate.  The defenders have dug in around the center of town and are making you pay for every yard.

 

Then a ripple goes through KIncaid’s soldiers, and they begin disengaging and rushing towards the center of town.  Staying behind cover, you, Jacob, and Seri head that way as well.  You run into Olivia and Patrick O’Connor in an alley ministering to the wounded, and they join up.  A block later, Ahiga and a small band of Kiowa join up.  You give Ahiga a questioning look, and notice the clenched jaw and red-rimmed eyes.  She shakes her head very slightly in response.  The sound of battle has been replaced with questioning murmurs.  Where are we going?  Why is everyone else going there too?  Why isn’t anyone shooting?

 

You carefully emerge into the town square right about when the sun becomes obscured by the darkness spreading in the skies.  The perimeter of the town square is lined with soldiers and Kiowa and in the center, perhaps twenty yards apart, stand Holden and Kincaid.  Coats pulled back over their sidearms, hands at their sides.

 

The feeling from Lebold’s mansion is back, but ten times more acute.  Dark clouds are forming spontaneously above the exchange and fanning out over the city.  The place is rumbling slightly as with a mild earthquake, and the whole of reality feels as if it’s been twisted and strained.  Wind…that ever-present Kansas wind…is whipping through the buildings, blowing snow and dust and smoke in swirls and whorls and patterns that look like ghosts of the damned.

 

It feels like the moment before the end of the world.

 

Kincaid shouts above the wind, “I once was blind, but now I see!”

 

Holden responds in his normal speaking voice, yet everyone present can hear it clearly.

 

“Me too, Roger.”

 

The tense moment stretches out, the two men perfectly still, and the world feels as if it’s going to tear itself in half under the strain of it.  A brave soul among Kincaid’s men raises a weapon towards Holden, but in the same motion turns it to his own head and pulls the trigger.  The crack of the pistol is swallowed by the wind, and the man’s body collapses to the dirt, and still the two men don’t even twitch.

 

Then, without warning or preamble, they both draw and fire, seemingly at the same time.  

The shaking stops.  The wind dies to nothing.  The dark clouds overhead disperse.

 

The sun is bright.  The air is cold and crisp.

 

Kincaid stands with his strange ghost rock weapon raised while Holden holsters his Colt and draws a deck of cards from his breast pocket.  It’s glowing green, and slowly disintegrating.  He shakes the deck as if he were trying to fling something distasteful from it, then shrugs and casts the deck to the ground where it disintegrates to glowing green motes that blow away in the wind.

 

Holden walks towards Kincaid casually, while the other man coughs up a small bit of blood and falls heavily to the ground.  When he arrives at Kincaid’s body, he draws his Colt and drops it unceremoniously to the dirt and then leans down and replaces it with Kincaid’s weapon.

 

There’s a moment…everyone can feel it…when Kincaid’s officers are on the verge of ordering their men to continue to fight…it feels like it’s just a breath away….

 

Then suddenly, every combatant in the city except for your party, draws a weapon and points it at themselves.  Officers with sidearms to their temples, infantry with rifles at their chins, Kiowa with belt knives to their necks.

 

It’s dead silent in downtown Abilene.  There’s a bird chirping, somewhere.

 

Holden speaks again, his voice quiet but heard clearly by every man, woman, and child in the city.

 

“This town is under my protection, now.  It’s time for you all to leave.”


 

Epilogue

 

So that’s how it happened, more or less.

 

The soldiers and the Kiowa both weren’t right sure what to think, so they did the only thing that made any sense and beat a hasty but orderly retreat out of town.  Among the dead from the battle were Chinese Ed, Howling Wind, War Chief of the Kiowa, and Brady Sims.  Conrad Lebold was found dead in an alley, though no one could picture the man taking up arms against anyone.

 

There were, as you might guess, a lot of questions, but there simply weren’t many answers.  Not satisfactory ones anyway.  The people of Abilene didn’t care, though.  They had their hero, their champion.  To this day, no one can remember the election, but Holden Cain became the mayor, sheriff, and marshall of that place overnight.  He was adored, pampered.  Lavished upon.  

 

But he did his part – in the subsequent years, Abilene became known as the place the manitou couldn’t touch.  It was safe and idyllic, like it used to be before Gettysburg, which also made the place wildly successful.  No longer was there a question of the Chisolm trail ending in Wichita, and all roads West ran through the city as a safe port of call.

 

Their mission accomplished, Onesimus White and Jacob Brown…heh…that still gets me…stayed together as a team and gallivanted around the continent for another year or so on The Agency’s dime, generally doing good deeds.  In the spring of 1880, the pair found themselves in New Orleans at Mardi Gras, hunting a coven of witches.  Jacob Brown died in an explosion in his rooms – apparently the victim of a tampered batch of ghost rock.  Onesimus White was killed while attempting to rescue his friend from the fire – shot in the back by a bounty hunter who’d received an anonymous tip.

 

Chigger Nine-Wren took his Outhouse and went home, wherever the hell that is.

 

Ahiga wandered with the Kiowa for a time.  They ranged from the Coyote Confederacy to the Sioux Nations – it’s said they were searching for something.  In the summer of 1880 she re-appeared in Abilene and by all accounts, attempted to assassinate Mayor Holden Cain.  Witnesses at the scene swear she was taken alive, but there was no trial, and no body.  She was never seen again.

 

When Patrick O’Connor was summoned back to Rome to take an apprentice, Olivia Keller went with him.  They married not long after, and she ministered to the sick while Patrick taught the next generation of holy sword-bearers to execute their duty.  They shared a home on the cliffs of Amalfi, and never knew war for the rest of their days.

 

Released from The Agency’s thumb, Seri eventually made her way to Chicago, where her powers of the urban totem were manifested tenfold.  She grew to be one of the most powerful shamans to ever live, and she ruled over the alleyways, the tenements, the dark places between the cracks.  They call her Queen Rat, and she defends her kingdom from The Darkness to this day.

 

What?  The Darkness?

 

Hrrm.  You know…I think I’ve told the story all wrong.  Let me try again…this time from the beginning…

 

Once upon a time there was a goddess, and she was a conqueror.  Her most valued and devious servant was known as The Whisper – or J’esh’ua – as the Lakota would eventually call him.  Simply Joshua to most folk.

 

Now, Joshua had been around a long time, collecting worshipers and sacrifices for his Lady, but had a bit of a falling out with mankind a few centuries prior and was set adrift.

 

That is, until the perfect opportunity presented itself in the form of a card sharp one night in Atlanta.  Twas the night before this feller’s wedding. and he was drunk as sin playing poker with some fairly unsavory fellows.  Our guy attempted to swindle the table, and, long story short, ended up getting shot in the back.

 

This was just what Joshua was looking for – the right combination of latent talent, questionable ethics, and freshly dead by violence.  He stepped in.  Took over.  There was a party at the hotel that night, let me tell you.  The locals still call it the Goodwell Wedding Massacre.

 

Anyhow, our boy Joshua had found himself the means to get some real business done.  He moved some money around and recruited some top-notch talent from around the country to help.  He commissioned an expedition to dig up the ancient artifact that brought him to our world to begin with, and found exactly the right spot to align its power.

 

Abilene…fucking…Kansas.

 

Over the course of a few years and with the help of Conrad Lebold, a local business magnate, and Johnny Wu, a regional crime boss, he carefully manipulated the city layout and populace to be more conducive, supernaturally speaking, to his plan, which was, without putting too fine a point on it, to sacrifice the whole of the world to his goddess.

 

Eventually, all of the supernatural badness brought about by Raven at the end of the Civil War started interfering with the plan, so he recruited a war criminal from the Confederacy to sweep in and start cleaning out the rabble.  This feller, Kincaid, was a devious cuss – completely blind to everything but the spirit world – but that talent eventually let him suss out Joshua’s master plan.

 

Well, Kincaid, Wu, and Lebold were evil, conniving coots, but they weren’t stupid.  They realized pretty fast that power and riches wouldn’t last past the end of the world, and conspired to betray their boss.  They hatched a plan to allow an ancient and evil manitou to enter the world that Joshua would have no choice but to confront directly, and they let the local Kiowa in on the secret of who was really at the center of all of the badness in the region.

 

But our boy, he’s ancient, clever, and wise, and he had a plan of his own.  Realizing that between the Kiowa and the Red Lion he might possibly be in a world of hurt, he passed the bulk of his essence off on a lesser manitou he was keeping around as a manservant.  This got the supernatural sleuths off his scent long enough to gather his loyal forces and respond to the traitors.

 

As it turned out, it was unnecessary.  In a mad twist of fate, a crew that could do the job fell into Joshua’s lap, almost literally.  A murderer on the run from the Confederacy, an inventor of supernatural weapons, a rat shaman who was intent on killing more people than the plague, an injun and a chinaman with vengeance in their hearts, and a preacher’s widow so consumed by loss and loneliness, that she couldn’t see the body count that was being left in her wake.

 

Together they hamstrung Kincaid’s supply lines, slew the Red Lion, killed Johnny Wu, crippled Lebold’s plans, and in a final…utterly glorious…act of irony, enlisted the aid of the befuddled Kiowa in killing Kincaid and his men.  And on the seventh day, they rested.

 

In the end, Kincaid’s ambition made him turn on his ally before the real enemy was gone, and his blindness prevented him from seeing that enemy in his midst.

 

With the opposition out of the way and the witnesses disposed of or contained, there was no one left to stop Joshua from completing his plans.  On October 31st, 1880, a portal was opened in Abilene, Kansas, unleashing a darkness that began what will be a centuries-long process of consuming the whole of the world.

 

My name is Holden Cain – The Whisper – and I welcome you…to bear witness….to my… masterpiece….

 

*Palpatine cackle*

 

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Abilene Session Notes – 30 January 2016

Abilene Session Notes – 30 January 2016

November 24th, 1878

Kincaid was certainly making himself at home, and decided he didn’t need to hear from any of the local law enforcement on the subject.  We were making plans to leave town in the night, when the damned injuns decided to hurry us along..

A few more hours into the chase, Onesimus catches up to the party, almost completely unarmed, but bearing tales of how he disabled Kincaid’s ability to fight form the air.

Shortly thereafter, the party arrives at the stockyards to find a large encampment of Kiowa entrenched – hundreds of warriors, and dozens of families.  The war band had taken Holden to the center of the camp.  The party enlists Chigger’s help to escort them into the camp, and they find Holden being presented to the war chief Howling Wind.  After associating themselves to Holden, they’re all brought into the main hut and presented to an elderly shaman, Tim Green Cloud.

Green Cloud greets Templeton warmly before acknowledging the rest of the party.  Eventually, he turns to Holden, and to everyone’s surprise, apologizes.  He states that he asked the spirits to show him their enemy several months ago, and Holden’s face was presented to him.  But in recent days, his visions have been clouded, and he’s received portents of an older man bringing fire from the sky, presumably Kincaid.  He’s still unsure about Holden, and asks him to stay near while he consults the spirits.  He takes some spit and blood and dismisses the party to rest at The Drover’s Cottage.

The party eats their fill and sleeps through the morning and afternoon.

A horse races up to the Cottage and Brady Sims storms into the taproom and stops short in shock to find Onesimus alive and well.  He greets him warmly, then warns the party that Kincaid has ordered the entire town razed.  The word came down through his officers, who had been instructed to find a way to execute every person in the town without causing a riot, then burn every structure to the earth.  He didn’t want the city pillaged, he wanted the city “gone”.

The party considers how to stop the Colonel, and decide to enlist the aid of the Kiowa once Green Cloud emerges from his meditations.  As the night wears on, the party eventually retires to their rooms.

 

Holden:

It’s late.

You can’t sleep.

Neither can Al or Chigger.

 

It’s after midnight.  You’re sitting around a table.  Sloppily-rolled cigarillos.  Bourbon.  Poker.  Hand after red-eyed, slightly drunk hand.  Very little said.  Comfortable.

 

You barely notice the sound of a door from the rooms above, or the soft footsteps down the stairs.  *tap* *tap* *tap*

 

But you recognize the voice.

 

“Deal me in,” says Mr. Perkins in his distinctive, somewhat nasally voice.

 

You look up in alarm, but it’s almost like a dream.  There he is, in the flesh, or seemingly so.  His suit is impeccably clean and pressed.  He smells of a cologne that’s trying to smell like patchouli and tobacco.  He pulls out a chair and sits down smoothly.  

 

Al deals, almost in slow motion, he’s even blinking slowly.  Must be a dream.  Is it a dream?  Perkins puts a small box on the table, a simple cedar thing, about the size of a cigar box, and slides it to the center.

 

“My ante,” he says.

 

Chigger is looking at you.  Completely ignoring the newcomer.  His look is intense, focused, but his face is almost completely blank.  Maybe…maybe just a touch sad.  Expectant.

 

Cards.  Two pair.  Aces and eights.

 

Chigger doesn’t even look at his, he just folds, pushing them away.

 

Al sighs and leans back in his chair, taking a long, unnaturally slow pull from his drink.  He didn’t deal himself in.

 

You’ve never lost to Perkins.  Ever.  In the days since you woke in that field, and through all the death and destruction, you’ve never lost.  You’ve swindled enough power out of him to raze a city.  You’ve never lost.

 

“Call,” you say, quietly.

 

Perkins turns his cards over.  Nothing.  Slop.  Ten high.

 

You reach out and pull the cedar box and handful of tarnished coins towards you while Perkins rises from his seat.

 

You open the box.

 

“You know,” says Perkins, distracting you from the contents of the box, “you wear the wool well…but your fangs are starting to show.”

 

Chigger hisses and waves his hand dismissively, his eyes never leaving you.  

 

Perkins straightens his waistcoat and begins walking to the stairs.  *tap*  *tap*  *tap*

 

“In the end though,” he continues, turning slightly, “we can only be that which we are.”

 

He walks up the steps slowly, and through the door of one of the guest rooms.

 

“Welp,” says Al, at regular speed, “I think I may mozy upstairs and see if Lady Wednesday is feeling charitable.”  He smiles weakly, heaves himself out of his chair, and up the stairs.

 

The cedar box is gone, just the few ante coins remain.  On your hand, though.  The ring with the black onyx gem.  Won in a card game in Atlanta.  Five years ago.

 

Chigger finishes his drink with a swig.  Then reaches across and finishes yours.

 

You feel it before you hear it.  Some wrongness.  Then the sound.  Steam gatlings.  Two of them…piercing the night from the direction of the Kiowa camp.

 

You and Chigger race out the door into the cold.  You hear gunfire and commotion near one of the larger campfires and race that direction.  You feel the cards in your hand.  You can hear the dice.

 

More steam gatlings.  Screams.  Small arms fire.  Bolts of green energy from Jacob’s rifle streak down into the commotion from his window at the Drovers Cottage.  A small explosion.

 

You burst through the press of bodies into a scene of carnage.  An automaton, like the one at the train.  Wrecked now, but its twin cannons still steaming in the cold.  Dozens dead.  Bodies broken.  Burst.  Spilled.  Ahiga is here, attempting to bandage the wounded, screaming for Olivia.

 

You recognize the tent the machine was focused on and you realize the shredded pile of gore in front of it is what remains of Tim Green Cloud.  Howling Wind is on his knees beside the body.  A wail escapes his lips.  It’s joined by others.  And more.  And yet more.  The sadness and rage of an entire people rips through the still cold.

 

Chigger is next to you.  He sighs.  “Well then…It’s to be a war…”

 

 

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Abilene Session Notes – 16 January 2016

Abilene Session Notes – 16 January 2016

November 24th, 1878

Wu was dead, along with a house full of hired help.  No one but Ed seemed to feel very good about it.  Actually, that’s wrong.  It would seem that someone felt very, very good about it, and had obviously been waiting a very long time to pounce on Abilene.

The party approaches Kincaid as he’s organizing the occupying force.  As they come near, they overhear him ordering Marshall Heller detained and sent up to the Bull Run.  He greets the party warmly and congratulates them for killing Wu.  He sends a runner off to secure the party a place to sleep.

Onesimus intimates that he wants to discuss an alliance with Kincaid in the morning, and Kincaid agrees.

While waiting for the runner, a party approaches dragging Sheriff Dent with them.  He appears to have been abused heavily since being detained.  The two men appear to know each other.

“You killed that little girl in Topeka,” Kincaid accuses.  Dent argues that “it was the monster, not him”.  Kincaid says “that’s what they all say,” before pulling a ghost-rock-powered handgun and shooting Dent, disintegrating him.  Olivia screams in dismay.

The runner returns, and the party is escorted to a hotel where rooms have been secured along with those of Kincaid’s officers.

The party meets in Onesimus’ room to discuss their plans.  Onesimus is convinced the party should appear to ally with Kincaid in order to get the opportunity to dispatch him.  There is some debate as to whether Kincaid is Joshua or not.  Seri and Ahiga decide to leave town in the night, with Seri providing totems to allow the party to flit away as small animals.  Ahiga goes room to room convincing members of the party to leave.

While discussing with Holden, a shapechanger races across the rooftops in a number of different forms before becoming a native man wearing the same war paint as those who have been pursuing Holden who crashes through the window, grabs Holden, and teleports across several rooftops.

The party gathers in pursuit, using Seri’s totem to turn to hummingbirds and give pursuit.  Onesimus stays behind.

The party tracks the kidnapper, who meets up with a larger party and head out of town to the north, following the road between Abilene and the stockyards.  The party pursues into the dawn light.

Onesimus remains behind in his room, and is woken by Brady Sims, who says that he needs to get out of town because Kincaid has ordered the party to be killed.  Onesimus asks Brady some pointed questions about his history with the Colonel.  He learns that Brady was assigned to the Colonel some time after the war, and as far as he knew was receiving official orders from the CSA.  When Onesimus mentions that Kincaid might be a rogue, Sims is uncertain, but seems relieved and says “hey, if that’s true, you may have just turned me from traitor to patriot!”

Men arrive and Sims takes Onesimus’ guns and tells the men that he’s detained the man.  The men in the hall order Sims to “put two into his head,” at which point, Onesimus crushes one of Seri’s totems and takes the form of a hummingbird.  He flies up to the Bull Run in an attempt to disrupt Kincaid’s operations there.

 

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Abilene Session Notes – 5 December 2015

Abilene Session Notes – 5 December 2015

November 23rd, 1878

Alright asshole, let’s see how tough you are without your pet succubus….

The session begins with a cutscene:

Time seems to slow, you’re frozen in place, your bodies are not your own.  Wu glides into the room, stepping gracefully over the bloodied corpses of his henchmen.

 

You’re going to die.

 

He’s going to walk casually through the room and snap each of your necks while the rest look on in horror.

 

And then Holden bursts from the water-closet, skids on a pool of blood past Wu, whose eyes widen in surprise and…recognition?  Holden slides down several steps onto the mezzanine, and unleashes a glowing card from his fingertips that seems to tear the fabric of reality with an audible scream.

 

You don’t see what it hits, but suddenly the death grip on your minds vanishes, leaving you stunned and gasping.

 

Wu and Holden have locked eyes, Wu stunned, and on Holden’s face…fury.  He squints and gnashes his teeth, his body shaking like a leaf.  There comes over the whole house the sound of rolling thunder, deep, sustained, like the ocean against a breakwater.  The windows shudder, small items on Lebold’s desk rattle and fall off.  The air seems to go out of the universe, and you feel as if you are ants scurrying amidst the feet of invisible giants.

 

Around the room and in the hall, the dead bodies of the guards rise silently to their feet, gore spilling out of bullet holes, limbs and necks hanging at awkward angles.  They turn towards Wu and begin shambling towards him.

 

A look of stony calm comes over Wu, and in a single, fluid motion, he kicks up a fallen Colt revolver from the floor and with a whirling spin, kicks it across the room at incredible speed, hitting Holden square in the face and dropping him like a sack of potatoes.

 

The zombies, similarly, fall.

 

Johnny Wu turns back to you.  “You have no…idea…what you’re doing,” he snarls.

 

And then Ed tackles him and both go tumbling over the balcony rail.

 

The party attempts to fight off the multiple house guards while Ed engages Wu.  It rapidly becomes clear that Wu is nearly untouchable, and every time he hits, he seriously wounds.  The battle rages on for several moments, until finally Onesimus clears all of the attackers off of Ed and he vaults up and delivers a one-in-a-million killing blow to Wu.

While the wounded receive aid, Onesimus organizes the remainder of the party to search Lebold’s house.  They discover that Lebold is actively involved in funding terrorism against the Black Water railroad, preventing a spur from being built in Wichita, which would kill the Abilene economy by shortening the Chisholm trail.

The party also finds quite a lot of documentation concerning an archaeological dig being funded by an anonymous source and brokered by the law firm of Brooks, Forbes, & Whitney out of Kansas City.  The dig is chartered to find a large stone ring in a very specific set of Mayan ruins.

During the search, Onesimus also finds a single note, in a handwriting that matches nothing else in the house.  It reads simply, “I think my lieutenants plan to kill me.”  Onesimus feels an unnatural chill when reading the note, and every time he considers it thereafter.  He shares the note with Jacob only.

Ahiga searches Wu’s body and discovers only a set of prayer beads and an ornate pocket watch.  Inside the lid of the pocket watch is a picture of Holden, much younger, and a woman.  It appears to be a wedding or engagement photo.  She absconds the watch without informing the party.  The also searches Holden’s unconscious form for his deck of cards, and finds a card that is identical to the one from Mosi, but lacks the hole and the wear.  She marks the card and returns it.

Mosi eventually heads outside, and is alerted to a commotion on the other side of town.  The party, exhausted and lacking sleep, gather and head back into town to where their horses are tethered at the telegraph office.  By the time they reach it, it becomes clear that hundreds of un-uniformed but highly-disciplined men are marching into town, along with cavalry and support.  The CSS Bull Run descends from the dark in the center of town and lowers its gondola to meet the soldiers.  It also appears that some solders are raiding certain houses, including the Marshall’s office and several other unknown residences.

The telegraph operator, standing on the porch and gawking at the late night display, notes Onesimus and is reminded of a response to his telegraph.

ROGER KINCAID IS CSA WAR CRIMINAL STOP CSS BULL RUN STOLEN BY JOSHUAS FORCES STOP USED IN ATTACKS IN DESERET LOST ANGELS AND MEXICO STOP COULD KINCAID BE JOSHUA QUESTION BE ADVISED KINCAID LIKELY HAS ACCESS TO SEVERAL LOYAL COMPANIES OF FORMER SOLDIERS STOP HELP IS ON THE WAY BUT MAY TAKE TIME STOP

Onesimus decodes and reads the telegraph, and sighs deeply.

“Follow my lead.”

 

 

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Abilene Session Notes – 14 November 2015

Abilene Session Notes – 14 November 2015

November 23rd, 1878

Well, well, well!  Kincaid’s a little dirty.  Imagine my shock.

Ahiga scouts out the Lebold mansion and takes note of several guards on the perimeter.  She, Ed, and Seri sneak up on the least protected side of the house, neutralize the guard, and enter the house through a window.  Almost entirely silently, they prowl the house until finally they are discovered.

Johnny Wu attacks the party, and at one point, everyone but Holden is completely paralyzed in their tracks.  Holden rushes the enemy and with a stroke of luck, slays Madame Chen, who was holding the party in her thrall from the parlor below.

Wu seems to recognize Holden, mouthing the word “You!” as he passes.

The fight continues…

 

 

 

Johnny Wu

 

 

 

 

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Abilene Session Notes – 7 November 2015

Abilene Session Notes – 7 November 2015

November 23rd, 1878

The Red Lion…some little girl snatched out of a tepee and turned into a monster, bringing death and untold dismay to half the Great Plains.  Someone was going to pay, and our new, incredibly well-armed friends seemed all-too-willing to help.  This Colonel Kincaid wanted Johnny Wu.  He wanted Howling Wind.  He wanted Joshua.  I wonder what else he wanted…

As the zeppelin, the CSS Bull Run, ascends into the sky, the party is escorted up several decks to a mess/sleeping deck and left to have a bite to eat and rest.  Most of the party does so, with Ahiga heading down to the lowest deck with the gondola and stables to rest, and Olivia exploring up a few decks.

On the landing deck for the single-seat copters, Olivia chats up a pilot who reveals the ship is likely headed to Salina to take out Wu.  The pilot also reveals that Kinkaid is extremely prejudiced against “specials” and considers it his mission to wipe them out.

Heading further up, she enters a storage room with many crates of ghost rock stored – which isn’t surprising considering the technological superiority of the airship.

During Olivia’s explorations, Seri overhears gunners on the deck below complaining about ghost rock rationing on the ship.

Next deck up she encounters a planning room and studies a large map on the table there.  The map contains Kansas and parts of Oklahoma and Nebraska.  There are a number of notes on the map:

  • There are many navigational markers around Wichita, it seems to be the airship’s home base.
  • There is a note about Wu just outside of Salina.
  • There are a number of notes about Abilene, including the Duchess.
  • The stockyards is noted.
  • There’s a route on the map with the name “Mayhill” on it, likely Curtis Mayhill, the Dickinson Country circuit judge.
  • Notably, the location of the ghost rock mine was noted, with several navigation markers.
  • There are a few notes around Kansas City.

Olivia wakes Onesimus and together they brief the team to be even more watchful of Kincaid then they already were.

When Ahiga wakes, she discovers the playing card she took from Mosi’s body is missing.

In short order, a page arrives to take the party up to the map room where detailed maps of Abilene and Salina are laid out (the previous navigation map is gone).  Kincaid informs the party that with the Duchess gone, Wu really only has two lairs, the first is his mansion in Salina, which Kincaid intends to go and decimate with Bull Run, and the second is the home of Conrad Lebold, Abilene’s wealthiest landowner and chief benefactor.  He asks the party to secure Lebold’s home and confront Wu if he’s there.  Kincaid assumes that by morning, one party or the other will have killed Johnny Wu.

The party agrees and are dropped off on the outskirts of Abilene.  After discussing their fears, they decide to move forward in pursuit of Wu even thought they feel certain to be betrayed by Kincaid.  Onesimus stops by the telegram office and sends a report to The Agency before the party proceeds down main street to the manse of Conrad Lebold.

 

 

 

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Abilene Season Finale – 24 October 2015

Abilene Season Finale – 24 October 2015

November 23rd, 1878

Honestly, I was surprised there were that many dead people in the whole godforsaken state.  I started suspecting they were importing them.  And then Texas arrived…

Shortly after hearing the sounds in the distance, there’s a zipping noise and an apparatus descends from the dark fog on a line.  Brady grabs it and begins having a conversation with someone who is obviously his superior.  The party listens to him give his report, then he asks if anyone knows the whereabouts of Marshall Dent, the party demurs slightly and says they haven’t seen him since they arrived in Abilene.  The conversation continues, and it definitely sounds the like the party is being signed up to assault the fort to slay the Red Lion.  He asks for some ammunition and tobacco, which arrives in a small basket dropped on the same line as the reporting device.

When the conversation is over, Brady says he’ll get air cover to help get them to the interior of the fort, at which point the party would be responsible for slaying the source of the zombie menace.  Some members of the party play somewhat hard to get, but Brady points out that they were prepared to barge into that fort and whip the Red Lion despite his help, at which point they grumble their acceptance and turn in for what sleep they can get before sunrise.

At first light, the party rises, arms themselves, mainly with the water from the consecrated well, and waits at the gate.  With a roar, two single-seat flying machines armed with steam cannons race overhead and mow down the zombies waiting outside the mission.  The party follows the path of destruction to the fort, where the copters are hovering and shooting into the courtyard.  When they run out of ammunition and race off to the south to reload, the party enters the front gates.

The fort interior is coated in carnage, but there are several hundred zombies still standing but they appear completely placid, watching the party.  Eventually, they enter the courtyard, and the zombie eyes (and eye-sockets) follow them to the central building.

Opening the doors to the building, the party is met with a terrible stench and flickering torchlight.  Entering they find a handful of zombies, including several wearing the garb of western fortune-hunters, and on a dais made of oozing tissue, they find The Red Lion.

The Red Lion

The Red Lion turns out to be Mosi, Ahiga’s kidnapped spouse, the western fortune-hunters her abductors.  She’s obviously dead, and possessed by a demon of unspeakable power.  Ahiga tries to get answers form her, but receives very little before, with a flick of her hand, The Red Lion orders the zombies to attack.

The zombies attack, and The Red Lion teleports into the midst of the party and casually tears Atta’s heart from his chest, killing him instantly.  During the fighting, Holden notes that The Red Lion is wearing a playing card on a string around her neck, a card of the same type and printer that is missing from a deck in his pocket.  He feels strongly drawn to it.

Ahiga raises her bow against The Red Lion….

Ahiga.

Time seems to slow.

The rough-hewn wooden walls seem to fall away.  You get the sense of cave walls, stretching out and up into the dark.

The fight rages on, your companions are moving so slowly they appear frozen, but with them, amongst them and the host of zombies, are others.  Swarms and swarms of black, spindly, shadows, like skeletons that move on hands and feet and aren’t constrained by gravity.  Everywhere.  

And there are others – standing above O’Connor at the door stands a man fifty feet tall, light radiating from it, massive wings dripping with blood, and when it opens its mouth as it roars in anger, an impossible sound of a million-member choir shatters the air.  The creatures are crawling all over it, biting, clawing.  It sweeps them away by the dozens and shatters them with its light, only to be replaced by more.

There is a man…attached…to Holden.  He’s older, portly with a beard, dressed in a nice suit of clothes.  A collar of green and black smoke wraps his neck and stretches like a chain to Holden’s hand.  He appears…distended…like an over-inflated balloon.  In fact, you see a bit of his arm has a split in it, and black fog leaks out of it and swirls away.  The black creatures completely ignore him.

Then there’s Templeton, or whatever his true name is, standing tall in his rat-man form, robes flaring around him as he bites and claws and slashes at any of the shadows that get close.  He takes note of you in this plane with him before plunging into a crowd of the shadows.

“They made me,” says Mosi, in her small voice, not the voice of the monster, “the Chinaman, Wu, and the other.  They made me.  To stop him.”  She nods at your companions – you’re not sure who she’s referring to.  Perhaps O’Connor?

“I’m…I’m sorry,” you stutter, “I tried to follow, but I fell ill…”

“You couldn’t have prevented it.  One of us was to be host to the monster and the rest killed.  I guess I was strongest.”  She smiles softly.  It’s an empty smile, with empty eyes.

Templeton stands next to you, picking his teeth with the claw and finger of one of the shadow creatures.

“This is all that’s left of her, girl.  This echo.  This…message in a bottle.  You’ve heard it.  Now it’s time to end it.”  He takes an arrow from your quiver and licks the head with his black tongue before handing it to you.

 

Ahiga nocks the arrow and shoots The Red Lion, striking her through the throat.  The entire battle goes silent, the zombies fall still.  Ahiga rushes forward and catches Mosi’s body as she falls.  The zombies seem to snap out of their reverie and renew their attacks, but this time with much less aggressiveness and organization.  Ahiga gathers up Mosi’s body, and the party pushes into the doorway only to find the hundreds of zombies assaulting the door.  An ear-splitting horn sounds and out of the fog descends a massive airship flying confederate flags.  Hatches open in its side and dozens of steam cannons emerge and open fire, utterly decimating everything in the courtyard.

 

Zeppelin

 

When the firing ceases, the courtyard is an utter slaughterhouse but amazingly, none of the party were struck in the deluge.  Onesimus and Olivia recover Atta’s body, while Seri and Holden gather around Mosi’s with Ahiga.  When Holden notes the playing card, Ahiga assumes that he may have been the one The Red Lion was created to stop.

A gondola descends from the dirigible, containing several armed men and an officer.

Roger Kincaid

Sims introduces the party to Colonel Roger Kincaid, who shakes hands with everyone who’s willing to, but when he approaches Holden, he leans in and stares into his eyes as if he’s looking for something.  “Do I know you?” he asks.  When Holden replies in the negative, he hesitates for a moment, says, “Huh,” then continues on.

While Kincaid’s men gather kindling to incinerate the fort, the party splits up to bury their dead.  Ahiga keeps the card around Mosi’s neck before burying her.

Kincaid discusses with Onesimus their mutual mission, and Onesimus agrees to go with Kincaid to kill Johnny Wu and then on to Joshua.

Father O’Connor opts to stay behind in Detroit to finish off the zombies and sanctify (or burn down) what’s left of the town.

Seri gives Ahiga a talisman, allowing her to turn into an eagle and soar for a while as the rest of the party boards the gondola to head back to Abilene.

 

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