Author Topic: Tall Tales from the Frontier  (Read 1116 times)

sparkletwist

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Tall Tales from the Frontier
« on: February 21, 2016, 05:44:59 PM »
OOC: The Frontier
This game was somewhat impromptu, and sort of a play test, which is why there was no announcement on the forum. I'm certainly open to other people joining future adventures in the Frontier.

IC: Starring
Arita St. Maeko, played by Xathan. A good cop in a bad land, and a woman in a man's world.
Kai, played by Weave. A Marshlander Gunblade with a criminal past.
Maiden Tomoe, played by Rhamnousia. A Sister of Rectitude that bloodshed seems to follow.

IC: The Return of Crazy Eddie
Last Chance Gulch. So named because it's one's last chance at civilization-- or what passes for it out here-- before heading into the truly uncharted Frontier, as the bluffs surrounding the gulch are too high to be safely navigable by airship. The town itself is a haven for gunslingers, mercenaries, hunters, treasure seekers, and others who might have reason to head out into the vast unknown. With such a rough crowd, it's no surprise that trouble always seems to be on the horizon, but the residents are wary enough of one another that it isn't as bad as it could be, and the strength of the King's Law is everpresent, in the form of the town's lictor, in case anyone steps out of line. The town consists of, among other things, a general store, a grocery, a smithy, a cafe, a brothel, and no less than four saloons, generally full of tough customers. Though trouble is frequent, perhaps the most shocking incident of late was when the affable and elderly Ken Tao, owner of Tao's Saloon, was shot in cold blood by a vagrant weird-hunter by the monicker of "One-Eyed Jack." Jack was apprehended and justice was dispensed, swiftly but fairly. Or as fair as it can be on the Frontier, anyway. His crew was told to leave town and never come back, although one young man who had nothing to do with the murder and seemed truly remorseful of his involvement with the gang was allowed to stay, but watched closely. The gang's new leader, "Crazy Eddie," swore they would have their revenge in a year's time, and Jack's widow, a wild-eyed Zhatlani woman named Xeiya, seemed like the very power of the Weird itself was with her that day. The anniversary is tomorrow. Dark clouds loom on the horizon, while the Weird floats silently in the sky high above.

The atmosphere in Tao's Saloon is lively. Drinks are being poured, cards are being dealt, and rumors are being exchanged. The coming anniversary seems to be in the back of everyone's mind, but Last Chance Gulch is a tough town, and it's not as though it's the only time some thug talked a big game.

Kai is sitting around a table, playing a game of seasons (so named because the four suits of the cards used are the four seasons) with a pair of the saloon's regulars, a grouchy old drunk named Choru-- a fellow Marshlander, but probably responsible for many of the negative stereotypes-- and a fetching if somewhat unscrupulous dark-skinned woman named Jade. The fourth player in the poker game is something of an unknown, a recent arrival, who hasn't given his name, and nobody's bothered to ask it. He's not that old, but with that sort of rugged, scarred face that has seen a lot more than his years. And the look in his eyes that makes quite clear he's probably not up to anything good.

Kai tilts his hat down over his eyes, peering at the players from over his fan of cards. His dusty collar is flicked up.

Arita leans back in her chair, resting one foot on the floor and tilting the chair back slightly. She lets her eyes rove lazily across the room, alert but relaxed. It's quiet so far, and she likes quiet, but doesn't expect it to last long.

Jade clinks a few coins into the center of the table. "Raise. 10 sol. You in, Kai?"

Kai nods slowly, placing his bet.

Choru guzzles some cheap moonshine straight from the bottle, wiping his mouth with the back of his sleeve. "You think that ol' gang of yours gonna be back, Kai?" he asks.

Kai closes his eyes and thinks to himself for a moment, then responds without looking at Choru. "I do."

Both spot the stranger try to slip a card into his hand from his sleeve. Jade seems to also, glancing at Kai, eyebrow raised, mouth opening slightly.

Arita perks her ears up, settling the chair back fully on the floor, and takes a slow, careful drink. The damn anniversary is tomorrow, she thinks to herself. And the boy is probably a target. She suddenly focuses both her eyes on the table, hand going to her gun. And that damn fool just triggered a ruckus.

Kai has hard cash on the line here, for his family. And this stranger thinks he can just get the better of him like that?

Arita rises to her feet and heads over towards the stranger, hoping to break up the fight before it starts.

Kai is at the end of his rope. This is the last chance he has at getting some cash. He's at wit's end... and he's done. "So that's how it's gonna be?" Kai says levelly as he looks up at the stranger, directly in the eye

There's a pause...

"I don't know what you're talking about," he says, gruffly. "Bet or fold."

Kai then suddenly flips the table towards the stranger, draws his gun, and yells "Cheating bastard!" Cards fly everywhere!

Jade gives a yelp, Choru is caught unaware and goes tilting backwards

Arita sighs heavily as she draws her gun as well, keeping it aimed up at the moment.

The stranger falls out of his chair and onto the floor on his back, caught off guard.

Kai aims his gun just past the stranger's head and fires a shot through the floorboards less than an inch away from his face. "You better give me all that money you put on the line, and then some, stranger, less you wanna have half your face taken off!"

At the sound of the gunshot, of course, the place becomes considerably more hectic, with everyone turning, a few people making their way swiftly out the door, and a few more drawing their own weapons.

The stranger grits his teeth, a bit rattled, but he's fumbling around for his own revolver.

Arita steps over the stranger and points her gun directly at his face, thumbing the hammer back loudly. "I suggest you do what he says, son."

He stops fumbling for his gun, putting his hands up.

Arita says in a loud, authoritarian voice, "Everyone else, put your guns down. No reason for this to get out of hand now."

Kai adds, "The cash, stranger." Kai holds out his hand, his fingers waving that "Give it here" motion. "You just bet your life. And lost."

With Arita having gotten the situation mostly in hand, the place calms down. It's not as though disturbances like this are that unusual.

The stranger grumbles and pulls himself up, scooping up the coins and handing them to Kai, while Choru laughs a drunken laugh as he climbs back in his chair.

"What are you laughing at you marshie drunk...." the stranger grumbles.

Kai looks up at Arita, somewhat grudgingly. "I had that, Ari."

Arita cocks an eyebrow at him. "Kai, you have got to learn how to have it without flippin' a damn table and firing a gun. You could have had that with much less fuss."

Kai scoops up the cards.

Arita looks at the stranger. "And you. I'm givin you a choice. Night in the stocks or you get the hell out of town. Because I don't do something, everyone you've ever played cards with since you got here is gonna string you up."

He glares at her. "How 'bout you mind your own business, lady law? I'm gonna walk on out of here, and beyond that, what I do ain't your concern." He gives a smirk. "Word is you've got worse problems comin."

Kai narrows his eyes at the stranger. "What's your name?"

He replies, "They call me Petey. That's what you can call me too."

Arita glares at him, unyielding. "You're damn right we might have worse problems. Meaning I don't got time to deal with you or risk you causin more problems. So make your choice, Petey."

Kai chimes in, "I aint 'They', Stranger. Remember that."

Petey says, "My choice is, I'm walkin' out of here, and what I do beyond that, ain't your concern." He tips his hat mockingly and turns to head out.

"Don't recall givin' you that option," Arita responds.

"Shoot 'im dead, St. Maeko!" yells a voice from within the saloon.

Petey takes one step, but he knows that keeping his back to Arita isn't a tenable option. So the next thing anyone knows, his gun is in his hand, and he's whirled around.

Kai's eyes never quite left the stranger... and he spies him turning a split second before anyone else. He snaps his gun to his hand, knowing it won't be accurate at this speed, but fires off a shot to make the stranger flinch.

Two shots ring out, deafening in the shady saloon. The stranger's bullet goes wide, smashing a bottle of liquor... the calm lasted about a minute, apparently. Chaos breaks out in the saloon as people reach for their guns or run for the exits. Or, mostly, both.

Arita flinches at the sounds, realizing how close the bullet went to her, and fires back.

"Petey" grunts as he realizes it's about to be 2 against one, possibly more depending on what the patrons do. As Arita's bullet zings by his ear, he takes off running, and promptly trips over Choru, who is also trying to make his way out of the saloon. Petey goes flipping over, landing in the horse trough outside with a loud splash.

Arita rushes out, putting the gun against the man's head when it surfaces "Guess you did have a third option. Stupid to try and take it. Put your hands on your head."

Kai draws his father's sword, switching his gun to his left with ambidextrous ease, and follows Ari out.

Petey is shaken up. He weakly puts his hands on his head.

Outside, it's mid-afternoon. The people of Last Chance Gulch go about their business. Nearly every man is carrying some sort of weapon... and quite a few of the women for that matter. With the disturbance at the saloon, more than a few onlookers have stopped to look on, of course, especially as it seems to be ongoing. Dark clouds rumble, in the distance. A storm may be coming. If people look up, though, it's not so much because of that, but because of the glowing yellow-green outline of the Weird still hanging overhead. It's so high up, it seems like it isn't moving at all, but it has shifted since morning. Not nearly far enough for the likes of most of the people here.

It was the primary source of people's attention before this happened, anyway...

Kai glances up at the sky. "Ill omen."

"Don't matter none," Petey mumbles.

Arita nods, then gives Kai a half grin. "I had that, Kai." She drops the grin. "Thanks. Take the rope off my belt so we can bind this sumbitch?"

As Petey rolls out of the trough, his shirt rides up, revealing a tattoo on his side with a single eye on it.

Kai's eyes widen.

One-Eyed Jack's personal mark, reserved for his inner circle. Kai hadn't quite 'earned' his yet.

"What in the weird wild frontier have we here?" Kai asks as he levels his sword at Petey's neck.

"Take me to the jail. It don't matter none," Petey just grunts.

Kai says, "You knew Jack. And i don't mean jack-shit, I mean THE Jack."

"Maybe I did," Petey snaps.

Kai presses him. "Why are you here?" In a mocking Frontier accent, he asks, "Tell me what old Crazy Eddie's been up to, pardner?" He then adds, "Or maybe the words'll more easily bleed out of your neck if I cut it."

Arita looks at Kai, then backs at Petey. "That's good for you, Petey my boy. We're gonna have to have a little chat. Kai? Bind him before we get talkin."

Kai sighs. "We always gotta do with the official stuff, Ari?"

Arita nods. "Yes. Yes we do."

"Lictors. More like lick-my-dick-tors," Petey grunts.

Kai removes his blade from Petey's neck and binds him. He then looks to Ari.

Petey grunts. "Go ahead and lock me up. The storm's comin', and Eddie'll get me out."

Kai says, "He's comin, Ari. I know he is. Eddie is comin, and that's how I know. I don't know why that is, but I feel it in my boots." Kai raises his chin to the Weird above them.

Petey grins. "You don't know the half of it!"

Arita says, "Oh, no, he won't. See, you're gonna hang for what you did, tryin to shoot me. Since Eddie is comin' tomorrow, I don't see no reason not to make sure the jail is nice and empty for him. Unless...you decide to tell me everything you know about what Eddie's planning."

Petey grunts. "I spill it, and you let me go?"

Kai says, "I say he spills more than his word." Kai says, thumbing the razor edge of his sword. "Let's 'im spill the red, Ari. He deserves it!"

Arita looks at Petey. "No. You speak, and you don't get hung. You're bargaining with your life, not your freedom..."

Kai begins to get more angry. "He's with Eddie. He's killed men, women, children!" Kai throws him to the ground, ignoring Arita's orders.

Arita snaps, "Damnit Kai!"

"This dirt's too good for im!" Kai kicks Petey hard in his ribs.

Petey oofs loudly, in no position to defend himself.

"Kai! Back down!" Arita moves quickly to try and hold him back.

Kai taunts, "C'mon, bastard! Where's your gang now?!" He kicks him again, harder.

Petey coughs up some blood and grunts loudly. "Ok... ok... ok...."

Kai says, "Monster! You aint any better than a weird-freak!"

Arita moves between Kai and Petey. "He's talkin, Kai, he's talkin! Stop this right damn now!"

Kai tries to push past Arita so he can really lay out Petey. "No, Ari! Now aint the time for law-abidin. You haven't seen the life i seen. You haven't lived it. This man deserves to die right here!"

Arita moves to attempt to grapple Kai down as he pushes past her.

Kai is restrained!

Kai fights against Arita, but not with nearly the same ferocity as he did Petey, and eventually stops struggling.

Arita says, "Kai! We need what he knows or more people who do not deserve it are going to suffer! Calm yourself." There's no trace of the Frontier in her voice.

Kai is breathing heavy. He looks up at Arita, meeting her eyes. "You aint seen what I seen, Ari. You aint." Kai doesn't challenge her, but keeps staring right at her.

Petey gets a few seconds to catch his breath. He says, "Ok, look. Last few days, Eddie's been moving some of his men and gear into town. Right under everyone's nose. Getting ready. He's got five men, led by Mr. X. And a whole bunch of guns holed up, too. It's all at the Royal Hotel." Both can't help but think this sort of tip and Petey leading them into an ambush are pretty much indistinguishable, aren't they?

Kai remembers "Mr. X" well. He's real brooding psychopath type, more than a little unsettling to even the other gang members. He had the tendency to just stare at people until well beyond the point it became unnerving, and the fact that kind of behavior hadn't gotten him shot yet seemed to prove he had some kind of dark power about him. He says, "Mr. X. Shit. Ari, shit. This is real deep."

Arita returns the young man's stare, and says quietly. "No. I have not. But you have not seen what I have. And I will not allow Mr. X to run free in this town. Not with the Wierd coming. But this man needs to be processed by the law because we are better than him."

Kai looks at Arita with a cool respect coming over him. "Yeah. We are. We're better than him." His Frontier accent vanishes for a bit as he settles back.

Arita gives him a nod of understanding and gets off him, turning her attention back to Petey. "That's a good start." Her Trontier accent returns as she calms down. "How many men? And why the hell were you out and about the town if it's so secret like."

"Five men," he says. And then shrugs. "A man's gotta wet his whistle every once in a while."

Arita questions him. "Wet your whistle, huh? And you decided to play cards while you were out? And just so happened to play them with Kai here? Your story stinks, Petey."

Kai agrees. "Seems awfully convenient to have one of them snooping around where his old partner plays cards... but perhaps you're just stupid."

Arita nods. "Keep talkin. And less bullshit this time."

Petey shrugs. "Ok, look, we were gonna try to get Kai back in the gang."

Kai's face flushes with anger. "You what?! Like I'd ever come crawling back to the likes of your filth!"

"Don't act so surprised. You're nothin' but a bitch's bitch now. It woulda been your big chance," Petey replies.

"You're gonna be a bitch's bitch's bitch in just a few seconds, stranger." Kai's eyes darken. "Ari, I say we take him in to the Royal Hotel and use him as a meat shield. Worst thing happens he gets shot dead." He then adds, glancing at Petey, "But that might be the best thing for you, stranger, cause you gon git what's comin to ya should ya live through that."

Petey frowns, visibly rattled. "Look, that's all I know. Five guys at the Royal, plus Mr. X, seven countin' me, my job was to get Kai and make it a lucky eight."

Arita smiles for a moment, liking the suggestion, but shakes her head. "What rooms, Petey?"

"Most all of 'em. It ain't got too many rooms."

Arita nods, then hauls him up. "Kai, why don't you walk him with me to the jail?"

Kai nods, distracted in the thought of taking on Mr. X.

Arita will likewise be quiet as they walk to the jail, thinking of plans.

They head to the jail, a squat, rustic building, even by the standards of the Frontier, although more sturdily built than some of the shacks here, due to the added need for security.

Kai asks, "Ari, how're we gonna take on 6 of them, including Mr. X?"

Arita bites her lip in thought. "I'm thinkin' on that. Six on one ain't great odds. Best bet would be try to find a way to draw 'em out."

Kai says, "We've got 2 guns between us, they maybe 12 for all we know, Speedshooters, too, if we're unlucky."

Arita looks at him. "I'm not sure we even have 2, Kai."

Petey just keeps his head down, the desire to run his mouth having been beaten out of him a bit.

Arita goes up to the gaoler, letting Kai ponder her words. "Got one for you."

Kai says, "Maybe the constabulary has some speedshooters? What about the rest of the law here? We need more men." Kai glances at Ari apologetically at that last part, "I mean, uh, people. Folks."

Arita bristles slightly at the misplaced gender, then looks at Kai. "Hold that thought. Let's get this one booked in his room, then we'll talk."

The gruff fellow with a face that looks a bit like the Frontier itself opens the door with a loud creak. Petey is now locked up.

Arita shoves Petey in, then cuts his bonds. (Sure!)

Petey is in jail. Cue the harmonica music.

Arita finishes the needed paperwork, then motions for Kai to join her outside. "Kai. Right now, I'm wonderin' if I should bring you with me to go after Mr. X and his crew."

"Don't matter none..." Petey just keeps mumbling.

"Ari. What if we used Petey as a distraction? I know it's not right with the law - wait, what??" Kai bristles. "Of course you'd bring me!"

Arita crosses her arms. "Of course I would?" She raises an eyebrow.

"I practically saved you from that crossfire back in the saloon!" Kai protests. "You think your other folks," he says with a thumb in the direction of the gaol, "are gonna be of use?"

Arita answers, "Yes, you did, and I'm damn grateful for that. You also damn near killed Petey before he gave us the tip about Mr. X. You got a temper, Kai."

A few 'elegantly' dressed prostitutes amble past, giving Arita judgmental glances.

Arita ignores them, as she always does. Even the whores think they're better than me.

"Wait." Kai has an idea. "Petey was sent to recruit me again. What if, say, Petey succeeded?" he asks. "You could have someone on the inside. Now I know he's in gaol now and that's all muddied up, but think on it for a hot second. Could be you got him, but he managed to say his piece before he went, and I'm swayed."

Arita nods slowly, warming up to the idea, but her gaze stays level "Oh, I'm thinkin' on it. I'm also wonderin' if I can trust you, Kai."

Kai looks at Ari, nodding slowly. "Maybe you can't. And maybe this town is gonna be a smoldering tumbleweed by tomorrow. What choice do you have?" He sighs, seeing Ari's indecision.

"I don't judge you none for the fact that you used to run with them. But your temper, that's what worries me." Arita sighs. "I want to trust you. And you're damn good in a fight. Question is, do you really think you can hold it together enough to sell them a line of bullshit."

"Take this." Kai hands his father's six-shooter to Arita. "If I know that's on the line, I won't screw it up."

Arita looks at the gun, then back at Kai, and smiles. "Keep it. You might need it, and the gang would wonder why you didn't have it."

"I'll be up close, too. I got my blade. I'll prove to you what this Marshlander is worth, Arita." Kai looks at Arita square in the eyes.

Arita replies, "The fact that you made that offer, and you didn't get your back up when I poked you...good enough for me." She smiles. "Now, we have half a plan. Need a better reason than just 'Petey got his say' and need more of a plan for dealin' with them after we get you in. Getting you in don't change the fact that it's 3 to one against us. And we gotta sell that you're willing to join a bit better."

The two of them formulate their plan...
OOC: Plans
At this point, we decided that we'd just say they came up with a plan, and later on, they could spend fate points to declare that parts of their plan were falling into place. It's more interesting and cinematic that way.

Arita says, "Half the town saw me take you down earlier. What say we make that a bit stronger. Go somewhere public, you get in my face, I sucker punch you... suddenly Petey's offer seems a lot better, since you get a chance to shoot that bitch."

Kai grimaces at the thought, but admits, "Yeah, you're right. It's what we need. Just... don't hit too hard."

Arita gives him a serious look. "Kai. I'm gonna hit you as hard as I need to to make sure they don't kill you for bein' a liar. I'd rather bruise your face then get a bullet put in you."

Kai winces. "Fine. Make it quick, Ari. Let's get done with this"

Arita nods.

Kai steps back. "You bitch! You overstepped your place when you took him in. He owes me money, he---"

Arita hauls off and slugs him.

Pow! Facepunch!

Kai staggers backwards, muttering curses under his breath.

Arita glowers. "I'm the law in this town. Time you started acknolwedging it. Now git! I don't want to see your face around for a few hours until you've calmed yourself."

Kai's shock at the punch only makes his performance more convincing. "Oh, fuck you. You're gonna regret the day you crossed me. Mark my words." he says in a low, dark tone.

The onlookers from before take note of this new scene.

Arita pointedly turns to ignore him and strides off.

"Yeah, hit that no good bog-bottom!" someone yells.

Kai sets off towards the Hotel, wiping blood from his lip.

Fitting its pretentious name, the Royal Hotel is really trying to be more than it is. What it is, is just a shoddy guest-house on the Frontier, with a few imported faux-luxuries that are a concerted effort to make everyone forget that they aren't in a posh hotel back east. Although the lack of indoor plumbing would probably make that pretty difficult. It is just up the street from Tao's Saloon, located in a prominent place so that wagons riding into town can spot it easily. Because Last Chance Gulch has such a booming market for visitors... The exterior is painted a bright red, done up like a stately palace, with the royal seal of the Solarian king on the door. Or rather, something that looks vaguely like it, but is different enough that it isn't breaking any lese-majeste laws. In the lobby, upbeat music plays, while patrons sip faux-expensive drinks served by faux-glamourous women.

Kai storms in.

A few of the people look up. One of the women eyes him. "Looking for a good time, dear?"

Kai moves across the room to the desk, ignoring her for now.

Nobody is at the front desk.

Kai then turns, and looks over at the woman. "That may be."

"Mmm. I've got a room." She offers her hand, and whispers her rates in his ear.

"Actually, I'm looking for some... X-rated entertainment" Kai says, hoping she knows what that means.

She takes a step back. "You go see him yourself then... I'm not comin' near that weirdo ever again."

"Where is he." Kai looks at her deadly serious.

She tilts her head, makes a 'gimme' gesture with her hand.

Kai puts a coin in her hand.

"Room 6," she says, barely above a whisper.

Kai sets off without a word.

The stairs are narrow, the upper hallways cramped. Some might call it a good place for an ambush. The walls are covered in peeling wallpaper, some attempt to look luxurious. Closed doors are arrayed along on both sides, three on each side.

Kai lowers his hand reflexively to the butt of his gun at his side, then knocks.

No answer.

Kai puts his ear to the door.

It's silent. Too silent.

Kai tries the doorknob as quietly as he can.

As soon as he starts to open the door, someone from inside grabs him, intent on pulling him inside. But he's too quick! He wriggles out, and stands face-to-snarling-rat-face with Mr. X. "Why, my my my, this IS a surprise."

Kai just stares at him.

Mr. X just stares back. He's good at that.

Kai says, "I want back in."

"Mmm, do you now? Have a drink, have a smoke, shall we find you a girl?" Mr. X motions to a big comfortable chair.

Kai says, "No, I just got finished with one a few moments ago" Kai gestures to his lip, unsmiling.

"Ah, I see, I see." Mr. X seems to be putting events together in the way that Kai wants him to.

Kai walks over to the window before taking his seat, nonchalantly, trying to catch the light off his pistol to shine out the window for Arita to see. Then he sits and looks around.

Mr. X sits down across from him, looking him over. "Decided that you left a good thing behind, did you? Good good. I knew you'd come back into the fold. Perhaps a bit late, but better late than never, that's what they say, isn't it? That is what they say."

Kai finds it hard to stare directly at him, but does his best to keep his gaze square on X.

Mr. X checks his pocketwatch.

Kai says, "Nothing left for me here. They got Petey, but he said what he said all the same. I'm in."

Mr. X contemplates. "Now, I'm trying to decide whether to welcome you back, or gut you and string you up by your entrails. Both options are appeailng. Both options are tempting."

Mr. X's words and unnerving stare do get to Kai, at least a little. He says, "Well, you could. But you'd be down a good gunblade, and without some knowhow."

He nods, considering, still staring. "Mmm, we've been without you before, but noted."

Kai shifts in his seat, bringing out his gun to admire it, hoping it catches the light outside for Ari. "It's a fine gun." He taps his boot on the floor and flashes his gun a few more times. 1, 2, 3, Ari knows X is seated across from him.

Arita says a brief prayer to the Holy Light, and nods her thanks as she sees the flashes from the upstairs window. She grits her teeth, preparing herself. She waits to give Kai time to get some more information, but she now knows where Mr. X is.

Mr. X just checks his pocketwatch again.

Kai says, "So."

"You'll need to prove yourself."

Kai nods. "How?"

Mr. X smiles his cold smile, rubbing his hands together. "Mmm... I could think of so much fun we could have with some of the girl downstairs. you never were one for fun and games... but since the ball is in my court, so to speak, let's say tonight I make the rules and you, well, to find your way back in my good graces, you'll have to follow the rules."

Kai nods. "You lead, X."

Mr. X whips out a pair of knives, twirling them. "It's been so long since I've sculpted."

Arita meanwhile enters the hotel lobby, dressed in a low red corset.

Kai forces a smile. "Glad to see you haven't changed."

"Find one with a pretty scream," Mr. X orders.

Kai stands and heads for the door. He then goes downstairs, looking for Arita.

Arita is nowhere to be found. Just a... wait. That is Arita!

Kai does a double take.

Arita gives Kai her best pretty smile, while still trying to convey I'll kill you if you mention this.

The girl from before starts pestering Arita. "Honey, move along, these are my clients."

Arita looks at the prostitute, addopting an innocent look. "I was requested by a man with...peculiar tastes. Or did Mr. X hire you too?"

"You don't want anything to do with him..." she says, shaking her head. "He's all yours."

Arita shrugs, motioning to a scar above her left breast. "I get extra from guys like him."

"Ari," Kai says under his breath. "Follow me."

Arita smiles sweetly and follows.

Kai leads her to a back room.

They enter a back room, filled with crates, barrels, wheels of cheese, and such.

Arita says quietly. "I should have hit you harder for making me do this."

Kai closes the door.

Kai explains, "You need to scream. Make it as... pretty as you can, if that makes sense. And when we come upstairs, pretend I hit you or something. No permanent damage though, which is good. X would be fuming if I laid a hand on one of his girls first"

Kai can already envision Mr. X's beady eyes wide with anticipation.

Arita bites her lip, thinking.

"...do I need to remind you how much time we don't have?" Kai asks, with some urgency.

Arita nods, and lets out a panicked, breathy shriek she cuts off abruptly but punching herself in the stomach.

"Ok, good. Hope he likes it. Remember the plan!" Kai leads her upstairs.

They head back upstairs.

Arita does her best to keep the fear on her eyes. Not entirely feigned, thinking about what will happen to her if this goes south.

Kai knocks.

After he knocks, the door opens quickly, Mr. X pulling them both inside. "Good good. Very good. Very very good."

Arita gives Mr. X her best fearful but seductive look. It mostly looks fearful.

"We're going to have so much fun!" Mr. X says, almost giggling.

Arita shudders, but makes sure it causes her to also shake appealingly. "Sure thing, M-mister."

Kai positions himself behind X as he assesses Arita.

"Would you like a drink? A smoke?" Mr. X asks.

Arita takes a deep breath, knowing what that will do in this corset, and smiles. "If it pleases you, sir, I'll take a smoke."

"Might I indulge, Mr. X?" Kai inquires.

"Of course, of course." Mr. X opens up a fine case full of cigarillos, the finest in the Frontier, offering them to Arita and Kai.

Meanwhile, with a glance and a tilt of his head, Kai indicates Mr. X's pocketwatch, hanging at his side.

Arita takes the cigarillo. "Thank you, sir, and for the fancy stuff too - you sure know how to make a girl feel wanted." She gives him a tiny, demure smile, figuring this sick fuck would like her acting a bit innocent.

He takes one for himself, too, lighting it with a match. He then holds it out to light Kai's and Arita's, a momentary look in his eyes like he's trying to keep himself from just jabbing someone with the hot end.

Arita takes the light gratefully.

Kai asks, "X, with all due respect, what are we waiting for?"

Mr. X grins. "Waiting? What are we waiting for? Oh! Yes! You want to get right to the festivities!" He grabs his knives. "Hold her down!" he says, laughing a gleeful laugh. Which just sounds demented.

Kai goes over and 'holds down' Arita, all the while readying to let her up at a moment's notice.

Arita attempts to struggle, making mostly writhing to try and keep him focused.

Mr. X laughs. "I'd say this will only hurt a bit, but then I'd be doing it wrong!"

Arita screams, but waits for him to be right on top of her before enacting the plan and kicking him with the knife she had hidden in her boot.

Kai lets Ari go just as she does so, stepping back and raising his gun.

Mr. X staggers back, a red spot forming on the front of his shirt. "Why... this is.... what a turn of events!"

Arita lets out a growl of excitement. "Not so fun when you're the one being stabbed, is it?

Mr. X lunges at Arita, intent on finishing what he started!

Kai tosses his pistol over in his hand, catching the barrel easily, then smacks Mr. X across the head hard.

Mr. X gets knocked out and falls on the floor, still bleeding.

Arita moves quickly to tie him up.

Oddly enough, there's ample gear for restraining people in Mr. X's room.

Arita is not surprised at all by this.

Mr. X is tied up.

Kai shakes X awake.

Arita says, "Good work, Kai." She then screams again.

Mr. X groggily comes to.

Arita levels a gun at Mr. X's head. "Morning you sick sumbitch."

"This is... quite a turn of events," Mr. X remarks.

Kai demands, "What's the plan, X? The hell is goin on here?"

"You tell me. You seem to be making the plan now, not me," Mr. X retorts.

Arita asks, "When is Eddie showing up?"

Kai also asks, "What's with the watch? What are you waiting on?

"So many questions. One at a time!" Mr. X is still sort of acting like he's in charge.

Arita glowers at him, attempting to make him realize how serious his situation is.

Mr. X just stares back. That unnerving Mr. X stare hasn't abated too much, despite probably having a concussion. Still, he blinks first, wincing a bit as the wound in his side continues to bleed slowly. "So... this is how it is."

Kai nods.

Mr. X says, "I fear that your threats are idle, you'll get no information from my brain if it's splattered on the wall, unless you are a true talent with the dark arts."

Arita cocks her head. "And why not? You don't value your life at all?"

"Ah, but the question is not whether I value my life, but whether you do."

Kai says, "I can do things to you that would make you wish you were dead, if you prefer."

Mr. X seems to laugh, despite his predicament. "Oh, things you've learned from me, I hope!"

Arita shakes her head. "Your life is valuable for the information you could provide. If you will not provide information, I have no reason to spare yours."

"And once I have spoken, I am no use to you, as well." He struggles slightly. "My watch, may I see it please?"

Arita sighs. "I am a lawperson, Mr. X. I will spare your life and see you fairly tried if you speak."

Kai grabs the watch, but doesn't show it to him.

Arita says, "Why do you want to see your watch so badly?"

"Ah, yes, a trial! My day in court! The King's justice!" Mr. X squirms. "I am a punctual man. I must know the time."

"Which gives you a chance to survive," Arita says. She then pauses to scream again, to keep up the act that everything is 'normal,' at least by Mr. X's standards. "What's so important about the hour?"

"The hour... is at hand!"

Arita motions for Kai to hand her the watch.

Mr. X squirms more.

Kai looks outside.

The Weird seems to be... closer. It's dipping low. It does that, sometimes. People are a bit more tense, but it's nothing to get too alarmed about.

Arita presses the barrel of the gun against the watch, watching X careful as she does so.

"You don't want to do that! That would be a very bad idea," Mr. X says.

"Oh? And why would that be so bad? Seems like you not wanting me to is a good reason to smash the hell out of it," Arita snaps.

Mr. X says, "It would be a bad idea for you. For me, well, you're going to shoot me anyway."

Arita says, "Again. I'm a lawperson. We have laws. I will not shoot you if you speak."

"I might..." Kai says under his breath.

"And you'll put me in the jail instead? I think under the circumstances I'd prefer to be shot!"

Arita looks at him. "And what circumstances would those be? Why would being shot be preferable?"

"That's something we'll all find out together, it seems!"

Arita opens the watch, checking it to see if there's anything obvious about it.

The watch seems to be mostly ordinary. Expensive, perhaps, but there's nothing distinctly odd about it.

Kai thinks of something, and chimes in, "Where's Xeiya?"

"Oh, checking up on old friends, are we?"

"Enough of this." Kai abruptly slashes off X's ear with a clean stroke. "Where's Xeiya!"

Arita makes a face, and screams to cover up Mr. X's sounds of pain.

Mr. X joins her in the scream, wincing and straining his bindings. "Aaggh! You... how... gyaahh... how uncivilized! You... you're not an artisan like me, you're a mere butcher!"

"You've got 10 fingers and toes I can start coming after! I can leave you with 1 good eye if you want. A nose is just a hole in the face, right? You don't need that fleshy lump there..." Kai threatens.

"I feel like I've taught you well... uggh.... not well enough...."

Kai starts slowly going for his nose, his blade hovering over it. "Where is Xeiya?"

"It won't matter when the Weird comes! Anything you can do won't compare to that!"

Kai says, "Start answering and I'll see what else about you is worthy of saving." Kai starts to press the blade into X's nose. A trickle of blood drips from the bridge of his nose.

Mr. X says, "She's with Eddie! They're all coming! First the Weird, then them!"

Arita says, "What time does the Weird arrive?"

"We have... at most two hours... before it lands. After it's dark! Glorious!"

Kai presses, "And Eddie is after them?"

"Yes... it will be the greatest hunt of our entire career!"

Arita nods. "We need to evacuate the town."

Mr. X shakes his head. "But... but... they'll never stay if there is no feast for them!"

Arita looks at Mr. X "Yes. That's exactly why we are evacuating."

"But... the hunt... the hunt!"

Kai turns to ask Arita, "What about this bastard?"

Arita looks at Kai, then looks back at Mr. X. "Your trial is now. I find you guilty of crimes against the Crown and Church. For those crimes, the sentence is death." She pulls out her knife.

"I knew you'd kill me anyway!" Mr. X snaps.

Arita says, "Yes. I only promised not to shoot you."

"Do it then, better your knife than what's coming! Besides, life's not worth living with only one ear." Mr. X starts cackling madly.

Arita calmly slits his throat, muttering the last rights as she does so.

Mr. X's cackles turns into a gurgling grunt, and then silence. He slumps over, blood spilling out.

Arita looks at Kai. "Go. Raise the alarm. I'll meet you at the saloon. No one will take me seriously dressed like this, and they need to listen."

"I misjudged your character, Ari." Kai nods in approval over the situation.

Arita grins. "The laws must be observed. They have very specific things to say about men like him. He got his trial."

Kai hurries outside.

Arita will leave out the window after one more scream, to prevent his men from coming in any time soon to check on him.

The wind is picking up, and the light of day is fading. The Weird is rather large in the sky now, coruscating with yellow and green energies.

Kai fires a few shots into the air, then yells, "Everyone! The Weird is going to touch down! Get to the wagons, get out of town any way you can! THE WEIRD IS COMING!"

Arita will go to the clothes she had stashed nearby and change as quickly she can, before heading to the church to begin ringing the bell.

Kai keeps yelling, "If any of you bastards want to see the light of day come tomorrow you'll haul your asses out of this town faster than the tumbleweed blowing across your yards! Git! Git, everyone!"

A grizzled old geezer walks by, slowly, lifting his tattered hat. "Nothin' to get too alarmed about, boy. I seen the Weird get this low plenty of times. It'll go back up. Always does."

"Shut up old man, you don't know nothin'!" yells a boy in reply.

Kai fires his gun in the air again.

Meanwhile, Arita starts ringing the church bell, further provoking people into action.

Kai says, "You heard me once! If I have to I'll shoot you dead before the Weird turn you to one of them!" Kai levels a few shots at the nearby saloon, not aiming for anyone, but intentionally coming close.

Arita rings the bell some more, then bellows from up top with all her might. "Xeiya's curse comes! The Weird WILL touch down in less than two hours! Every one must evacuate!"

The people are increasingly convinced. They begin getting their things in order.

Choru bumbles up to Kai. "So it's happenin' this time, huh?"

Kai adjusts his hat and nods. Choru, though being a terrible stereotype for his kind, has a special place in Kai's head. He's kin, in a way. "You need to go, Choru. Hurry, and get everyone out if you can."

"I just bought new pants."

Kai says, "Drink if you must, but drink and run, damnit."

Arita slides down the rope out of the tower to encourage stragglers to speed up, keeping an eye out for Kai.

"If anyone robs me while I'm gone, you better shoot 'em, lady law!" yells a man in the crowd.

Arita just nods in the direction of the yell.

"Yah! Yah!" Kai fires again into the air. "Flee for your dust-forsaken lives, maggots! Weird is coming!"

It takes some time to mobilize everyone, during which time it only gets darker, and the Weird closer. However, there eventually is a steady procession of horses and wagons heading out of town.

Arita mounts her horse to join the procession. "Everyone who has a gun, have it ready! After the Weird passes, Eddie and his gang of outlaws are showing up!"

Kai says, "Ari!" Kai catches her in the hustle and bustle, "Are there any law folk to spare? Is it just you and me?"

Arita motions to her pair of deputies. "They're the best we got." Then, her eyes suddenly widen. "The jail!" She turns to ride back towards it.

Petey's still in there.

Arita shouts, "Petey! Get up you dumb bastard! The Weird is almost here!"

The Weird is now close enough that you can actually see it descending. It fills almost the whole sky.

Kai remains outside, watching the whole scene unfold. "Ari... hurry!"

"Holy shit! Holy shit!" Petey says, nearly panicking.

Arita shoots the lock of the door and grabs him. "Run away and I shoot you in the leg and leave you. Stay with me!"

Petey nods and follows her.

Kai is appalled as he sees Ari escorting Petey out. "What! You stayed behind for HIM?? He's a dead man, Ari. Let dead men die."

Arita glares at Kai. "He deserves justice. That would be murder. Now run!"

The Weird suddenly tilts, an edge shearing the roof off of the second story of the general store.

Kai unsheathes his sword, passing his gun to his left hand.

From the gap spill out all sorts of strange spider-things.

Kai says, "I don't like this, Ari... I can't shoot THAT" he gestures to the Weird.

Arita fires back, "Then don't shoot! Just run!"

They run down the main street of the town, staying ahead of the leading edge of the weird, which slices a fissure right through the center of town.

Kai agrees. "Run!!"

They also manage to stay ahead of the four man-sized scorpion-things that leap out.

Arita runs as well, keeping one hand on Petey's collar to make sure he doesn't fall behind.

The scorpion-things are beginning to gain on Arita.

Kai twists around mid-stride and fires off a flurry of shots! Just as one of the scorpion creatures gains and lunges towards Petey, Kai blows it to bits. A second one behind it seems to burst into chunks of weirdstuff. Smoke billows from the barrel of his gun as he frantically reloads. "You owe me one, Petey!"

It's now dark out, as the pair arrives at the edge of town, able to catch their breath, if only for a moment. The Weird is perhaps even more ominious when it's the main source of light.

Kai huffs. "Looks like we outran them for now," he says.

In the distance, they can see the endless Frontier. Through the dark, riding over the scrublands, illuminated by the Weird, can be also seen a line of horses. At least five, probably plenty more than that. They're riding forward at a full gallop, whooping and yelling.

"Company, Ari. And us with a prisoner," Kai observes.

Arita points to the line of horses, also breathing deeply. "Looks like we don't get much of a chance to catch our breath."

Kai nods. "Out of the frying pan and into the fire, Jack used to say. What say we give em a good ole Gulch welcome?"

As they get closer, it's clear it's Crazy Eddie and the gang: Xeiya next to him, an ugly bearded brute called "Shotgun Pete" on his other side, "Preacher" (a hypocritical and heretical Brother of the Holy Light), and "Tiny" (who is of course the largest of them all), and behind them, the new recruits, cocky-looking lads in wide-brimmed Zhatlani hats.

Arita looks around, then nods - and calmly knocks Petey out so he can't backstab them during the fight.

Petey falls over.

Kai asks, "They breakin' any laws? Cause I think it's about time they get a real taste of Arita." He winks at Ari.

Arita thinks. "You know." She cocks her gun. "I don't think they technically have yet. However, I'm willing to classify all this as 'Behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace' and 'Assault with a deadly weapon,' which is in this case weird creatures."

Kai nods. "Glad I'm on the side of the law, then."

With the Weird still looming overhead, the gang rides forward, ready to hunt.

Arita gives Kai a grin. "And the Law is glad you're on her side, too."

The deputies-- who were here the whole time, honest-- nod, too.

Kai readies his gun and katana, teeth gritted. They remain hidden for now.

Eddie and his gang ride into town, yelling and shooting. But something's amiss.

"They're supposed to be busy eatin' townspeople!" Tiny growls.

"X! X! GET OUT HERE!" yells Eddie.

"This is going to shit already," Preacher snarls.

"X is dead!" Kai yells, and steps out to shoot Eddie.

Eddie narrowly dodges the bullets. "Gah! What?!"

Arita says, "EDDIE! You are under arrest! Surrender because dead or alive, you're coming with me!" She fires as well.

The deputies leap out too, engaging with some of the lackeys. Preacher tries to continue the hunt, but he's wary of the unfolding new combat.

Tiny leaps at Kai, trying to tackle him.

Kai recoils backwards from the hit, but is still on his feet.

Tiny stands over Kai, pounding his meaty fists. "I'm gonna murderize you!"

Arita attempts another shot at Eddie, not expecting him to take her generous offer for surrender.

Eddie dodges this shot too, but he falls off his horse! He's scrambling to get back on... Meanwhile, Shotgun Pete, true to his name, fires off a booming blast of buckshot.

Arita flinches as the shotgun blast punches a hole in the wall beside her, cursing.

Kai uses both his sword and pistol on Tiny, trying to get him off him!

Tiny goes flying backwards from the double attack, rolling on the ground. He doesn't get back up.

Through the wall behind Arita, a horde of chittering scorpion-things pours out. While Arita avoids them, Eddie attempts to make use of her distraction and take a shot of his own!

Arita meets the shot with a level gaze, not even slightly fazed.

Eddie curses!

Preacher, meanwhile, decides this has gone far enough. He turns around and flees.

Arita calmly returns Eddie's shot, planting her feet.

As Eddie is scrambling back on his horse, the scorpion-things make their way to him, and start jumping on him. He's frantically trying to get them off himself. He just barely avoids Arita's shot!

Shotgun Pete fires his shotgun at Arita again!

Arita just shoots Pete a glare at the shot.

Shotgun Pete's shotgun only has two barrels, and he's just fired both. He swears and frantically reloads.

Kai stands resolute, leveling his gun at Eddie and firing.

Eddie is frantically slapping at himself, stomping on little scorpion-things. He again tries to get on his horse, Kai's shot hitting his foot just as he leaps on, prompting a bellow of pain. He attempts to return fire!

Kai yells in pain as the shot hits him in the side of the leg.

"Kai!" Arita shouts.

"Come on, Eddie. Let's settle this as real men." Kai flourishies his katana despite the pain.

"You stopped being a real man when you left!"

Arita shoots at Eddie before turning to look at her companion.

Eddie winces and groans loudly as this shot finds its target. Or at least something close. He nearly doubles over, struck in the stomach. "If it ends here... I'm takin' you both with me."

Arita says, "No. You won't. Finish this, Kai."

Eddie is struggling to stay on his horse, turning around, firing madly.

Kai steps up and levels his pistol against Eddie. "Time's up, Eddie."

A shot rings out in the night. CRACK! Eddie pauses. All sound seems to cease, and Eddie slowly slips from his horse, blood sprouting on his shirt, and then he falls off. He lies on the ground, the flickering light of the receding Weird illuminating his dead gaze.

At this point, the entire gang is dead or has scattered. Except Xeiya. She wasn't involved in the fight... where did she go?

Arita looks over at Kai. "Good shot. Lets get out of here before more of those damn monsters show up."

The weird-creatures get their feast after all, while the duo, dragging Petey, rejoins the townspeople, watching the carnage from a bluff overlooking the town.

Arita looks over the townsfolk. "Everyone alright?"

They're shaken up, but they're a tough lot. As for the town of Last Chance Gulch, well, it could've been a lot worse. Most of it is still standing-- without anything to feast upon, the weird-creatures scattered pretty fast. They'll have a town to go back to, at least, as much of a town as it ever was.

Arita looks at the town with a sigh of relief. "Best give it another hour before heading back, make sure the Weird's full dispersed.

Kai exhales loudly. "Looks like the Gulch is safe for now."

Arita gives Kai a smile. "Quite the night there."

"Might even make a few bucks from all the ichor layin' around," Choru muses.

Arita grins. "That's the spirit, Choru. That's the spirit."

And, off in the distance, is that Xeiya madly laughing? No... it's probably just the wind...
« Last Edit: February 29, 2016, 03:30:49 PM by sparkletwist »

Weave

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Re: Tall Tales from the Frontier
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2016, 09:00:05 PM »
That was fun :). Looking forward to future games in the Frontierverse!

For reference, here's my character:

Kai
HIGH CONCEPT: Marshlander Gunblade
TROUBLE: Criminal Past - Kai once ran with the wrong crowd, something he isn't exactly proud of, but bears it all the same. However, in the Frontier, once you step into the criminal underworld you're never truly out, and there are more people than Kai is willing to admit that have unfinished business with him.

ASPECTS:
For my Family - Kai has familial ties he won't give up on. This has given him great personal strength when he needs it, but also held him back from truly being able to support himself in the Frontier when most currency he earns is forwarded to them.

Young and Heedless - Kai is no fool, but as the "last man" of his family he has made it his duty to be more responsible and certain in his actions (even as far as he is from home), as his father was before him. Unfortunately Kai is young, and while his youth has helped him to physically get out of trouble, he often mistakes the resoluteness of his father with sheer obstinance, getting him in more trouble than he anticipates.

Lone Wolf - Kai, as a Marshlander in the Frontier, is an outcast, not quite fitting in even amongst folk he might call his friends and often unsure of what to say in social situations. However, his stoic loneliness has given him extended time to practice his combat skills and harden his mental discipline.

SKILLS
Athletics +4
Fighting +3, Shooting +3
Alertness +2, Grit +2, Sneaking +2
Survival +1, Deceit +1, Physique +1, Provoke +1

Physical Stress: 3
Mental Stress: 3

STUNTS
Mobile (Athletics) - You can shoot pistols on the run without penalty, and only take a -1 penalty when using a rifle.

Shoot to Kill (Shooting) -  You can spend a fate point and add 3 stress to a successful Shooting attack, as long as it will take the target out or inflict a consequence, and the result must always be bodily harm to the target. This can also be used to take out additional minions.

Sword and Gun (Fighting/Shooting) - When fighting with enemies in the same zone, add half of the weapon with the greater weapon bonus (rounded up) to damage when attacking to represent attacking with both a sword and a gun at the same time.

Sprinter (Athletics) - You can move up to two zones for free in a conflict, or three by taking a -1 penalty on your standard action. If you spend your whole turn to move, you get a +2 bonus on any Athletics rolls you need to make.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2016, 04:21:07 PM by Weave »

Xathan

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Re: Tall Tales from the Frontier
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2016, 12:14:20 PM »
Quote from: Weave
That was fun :). Looking forward to future games in the Frontierverse!

Pretty much my thoughts exactly. :)

and here's Arita:

IC
Arita St. Maeko

High Concept: Good Cop in a Bad Land
Complication: Woman in a Man's World
1: Quick on the Draw
2: No Breaks in this Job
3: Never Settle for the Lesser Evil


+4 Grit
+3 Shooting, Athletics
+2 Insight, Fighting, Alertness
+1 Influence, Physique, Scholarship, Rapport

Stunts:

Find My Man (Insight): You get +2 on Insight rolls made to learn of someone's whereabouts

Saw it Coming' (Alertness): +2 Alertness to spot violence about to break out

Take 'em Down (Fighting): +2 to Fighting to grapple or otherwise restrain.

Steel Gaze of the Law (Grit):  Use Grit in place of Provoke when dealing with unsavory types
« Last Edit: March 02, 2016, 06:07:32 PM by Xathan »
AnIndex of My Work

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Fudge 10th Anniversary Edition Copyright 2005, Grey Ghost Press, Inc.; Authors Steffan O'Sullivan and Ann Dupuis, with additional material by Jonathan Benn, Peter Bonney, Deird'Re Brooks, Reimer Behrends, Don Bisdorf, Carl Cravens, Shawn Garbett, Steven Hammond, Ed Heil, Bernard Hsiung, J.M. "Thijs" Krijger, Sedge Lewis, Shawn Lockard, Gordon McCormick, Kent Matthewson, Peter Mikelsons, Robb Neumann, Anthony Roberson, Andy Skinner, William Stoddard, Stephan Szabo, John Ughrin, Alex Weldon, Duke York, Dmitri Zagidulin
System Reference Document Copyright 2000-2003, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, Rich Baker, Andy Collins, David Noonan, Rich Redman, Bruce R. Cordell, based on original material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.

Modern System Reference Doument Copyright 2002, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Bill Slavicsek, Jeff Grubb, Rich Redman, Charles Ryan, based on material by Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Richard Baker, Peter Adkison, Bruce R. Cordell, John Tynes, Andy Collins, and JD Walker.

Unearthed Arcana Copyright 2004, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Andy Collins, Jesse Decker, David Noonan, Rich Redman.

Mutants and Masterminds Second Edition Copyright 2005, Green Ronin Publishing; Steve Kenson
Fate (Fantastic Adventures in Tabletop Entertainment) Copyright 2003 by Evil Hat Productions, LLC. Authors Robert Donoghue and Fred Hicks.
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sparkletwist

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Re: Tall Tales from the Frontier
« Reply #3 on: February 29, 2016, 03:32:19 PM »
IC: Witch Hunt
The death of most of the rest of One-Eyed Jack's gang hasn't brought any peace and calm to Last Chance Gulch. On the contrary, with it coinciding with the coming of the Weird, it has meant something of a boom in town. Word has gotten around pretty fast, and that means any number of new faces showing up in town. Hunters arrive to hunt down the remaining weird-creatures while scavengers try to scoop up any ichor left lying around. Brokers from the Royal Energy Consortium are there too, to purchase the haul. And then, of course, there are the numerous gamblers, prostitutes, scammers, and hangers-on, just trying to grab their own share of the wealth. Arita's job was never the easiest, and all of this activity in town isn't making the job any easier. It almost makes the fight with the gang and the weird-creatures seem like a picnic by comparison. But don't worry, the crown has sent her "assistance," another lictor, by the name of Roy Sayang. Fat, lazy, not particularly competent, usually drunk, and corrupt to the bone.

Kai sits across from Arita, furiously writing a note to his family, scribbling out sentences as he thinks on them. "How do you write 'Consortium,' Ari?" He adds, "Trying to let my folks know money's comin their way, ya know?"

Arita looks over at Kai, and grins. She traces characters in the air with her finger. "Like this, I think. Not had to write that one in awhile."

Kai continues, "I've been meaning to say, I'm thinking of getting in on this Ichor business. Can't take a piss round here without someone getting rained on. Packed. Business must be good." He looks up at Ari from his note. "You think it's all legal?"

Roy Sayang is sitting at the bar, guzzling down cheap whiskey and surveying the place like he owns it.

Arita does her best to ignore Roy at the moment. Dealing with him has been...trying. "Ichor is always in demand. Still, it's a damn hard buisness to get into - and I'm doin my best to make sure it is." She looks tired.

Roy finishes his glass and ambles over, dropping into an empty seat without being invited. "Mornin', St. Maeko."

Kai returns to his note, holds it up to the light, reading it silently, his face getting increasingly agitated. He shakes his head, sighs, and begins crossing out more characters and starting over.

Arita gives Kai a frustrated look before turning her head towards Roy and tipping her hat. "Mornin', Sayang."

Roy says, "There's some law work to be done, so I'll be doin' it. But don't trouble yourself on my account. You go ahead and rest your pretty little ass here for now. Do something more suited to a lady. Or, should I say, a woman." He chuckles at his own joke.

Arita bristles, her knuckles whitening on the edge of the table. "Roy. I've been here much, much longer than you. I know this town. So why don't you tell me what, exactly, you're planning on doing?"

Kai, not noticing Roy, absently asks Arita, "You think this one'll actually make it -" He then looks up.

Roy replies, "By all accounts, the witch Xeiya got away. Fled up into the Broken Hills, I hear. So I suppose you did a good enough job rounding them up, especially given the Weird coming and all. But all in all not good enough, and it falls to a real lawman to pick up the pieces. You should be glad I'm here, you need all the help you can get right now."

The Broken Hills are just south of the town's eponymous gulch, a rough land that is a favorite place for criminals and other societal outcasts to flee, as it's beyond even the reach of Frontier law. It even has a 'town' or two, though these are usually just a collection of shanties and tents, and tend not to last that long. Good places to find information, perhaps, though.

Arita's entire body tenses. "Do you have a lead on Xeiya more specific than the Broken Hills? Or a plan besides going after a damn witch alone?"

Roy thinks. He replies, "Not yet, but I know who to ask."

Kai's face darkens at this exchange.

Roy chuckles at Kai. "This boy here your new deputy?"

Arita makes a quick decision. "Yes. Yes he is."

Tomoe sits alone at the bar, meditating over a bowl of lukewarm tofu and vegetable broth. She is dressed in the unmistakable black robes and identity-obliterating cowl of a Sister, as if the naginata resting in the crook of her neck was not enough of an indication. Hearing the witch's name spoken aloud, she straightens up and turns in her stool. "You know where the witch Xeiya is?" she asks in a firm, clear voice.

Kai was about to speak, then turns in surprise to Ari.

Roy turns. "And who's askin'?"

Arita glances over at the Sister, raising an eyebrow.

Kai gives a gentle kick to Arita under the table.

Tomoe rises from her seat and approaches the table, the butt of her polearm tapping against the floor as she walks. "A Sister of Rectitude."

"Don't got no badge, don't got no concern in this," Roy says dismissively to Tomoe.

Kai whispers, "I'm a deputy?" He then remarks, "That's goin in the note for sure!" Kai scribbles that down, then hesitates. "What's the character for deputy?" he asks.

Arita glances over at Kai and just nods. "I'll show you later."

Kai gives an exasperated sigh at Ari, then spies the Sister.

Tomoe stares down at Roy, her face the mask of cold serenity. "Please do not interfere with my holy purpose, lawman."

"I won't be interferin' with your holy purpose if you don't go interferin' in the king's justice," Roy says with a shrug.

Kai watches this play out with coy interest.

"Anyway, I'll be off. St. Maeko, you better keep an eye on that one." He gestures with his thumb to Tomoe.

Arita pinches the bridge of her nose. "Of course, Sayang. I'm sure she's quite dangerous to the law abiding citizens of this town."

Roy ambles out of the saloon, a slow and plodding walk. He probably thinks it confers gravitas, but, really, he just looks like a lumbering beast.

Once Roy leaves the room, Kai says, "I don't like that fatass one bit, Ari. Let's say you and I find a way to arrest him when we get the chance." He winks.

Arita looks over at the Sister, and motions for her to join them. "Believe me, it won't be hard. I've been lookin' into corruption on him something fierce. I'm sure to find somethin' actionable soon 'nuff." Her crisp speech patterns once again swap out for the Frontier accent.

Tomoe promptly lowers herself into Roy's abandoned chair. "In truth, obeisance to the law is no measure of righteousness, and the royal seal does not banish wickedness."

Kai nods, as if he understood all that.

Arita looks over at the newcomer. "Don't I know that all too damn well. Way too many damn corrupt lawmen." She offers her hand. "Arita St. Maeko."

Tomoe gingerly takes Arita's hand with her own gloved one. "Maiden Tomoe. I am pursuing the witch Xeiya."

Kai asks, "What's your deal with Xeiya? How do you know about her?"

Arita smiles slightly. "My inquisitive friend here is Deputy Kai."

Kai looks at Ari sideways, annoyed. "I don't offer my name so easily, Ari. Sister here is just a stranger to me. A stranger with a name on her tongue that happens to interest me."

Arita looks at Kai apologetically. "I'll keep that in mind. Didn't know."

Kai flashes the apologetic look back at Ari. "Suppose I am your deputy..."

Arita looks back at the newcomer. "And why do you hunt her?"

Kai adds, a bit meekly, "I was just tryin to be tough. But that don't change the topic at hand."

Tomoe stares blankly back at Arita. "Because she is a witch and a villain."

A few roughly-dressed men, and one woman, loudly talking and joking, enter the saloon, demanding bottles of the best brew, and all that. Newly flush with cash from the ichor boom, no doubt.

Arita smiles. "I can get behind the reason. Just wasn't sure if there were any other reasons." She eyes the newcomers carefully. "Well, Roy may think she's in Broken Hills, but I doubt he's in any kind of real hurry to get out there."

Kai remarks, "Might be in a hurry to get you out of here, though I don't think that tumbleweed he calls a brain is anything close to that sly." He then looks at the newcomers greedily.

Arita looks thoughtful. "Maybe he's tryin' to set me up, but I doubt it. He's corrupt, but I don't see him goin' that far. But we can't leave right now. Town would blow up if only law in it was Roy."

"Xeiya is someone in need of a bullet through her skull, though, and anyone willing to give her that is a friend of mine," Kai says with a nod to Tomoe.

Tomoe abruptly rises from her seat. "I shall go to the Broken Hills then."

Arita lowers her voice. "Some of Eddie's gang got out in the scuffle last week, too. We could use the help." She then turns to Tomoe and adds, "Sister. If you'd be willing to wait for nightfall, we could all go."

Tomoe sighs through her black-painted teeth. "Perhaps."

Arita says, "Should take some time to prepare. Sister, I'd appreciate it if you would wait. Three is a better chance to take than only one against a witch and possible gunmen."

Kai nods and says, "Well, I need to put the finishing touches on this letter and get it mailed out. Be back before nightfall." He hastily scrawls the last characters, looks longingly at it, folds it into the letter and places it against his forehead in a gesture of prayer, eyes closed. He goes off to send it, hoping it reaches them. He drops all his coin into the letter wrapped in a thin padding to prevent would-be thieves from hearing it jingle. A likely fruitless gesture, but the best he can do.

Arita spends the afternoon poking around to see if she can figure out what Roy is actually up to.

Tomoe follows her.

Roy spends the day wandering around town, 'following leads,' which basically involves talking his way into free drinks at each of the town's other saloons.

Arita writes down his negligence once again, adding it to the tally of minor details she could use against him at some point... although the Capital likely won't much care about such minor transgressions.

Kai reunites with Tomoe and Arita just before nightfall. The sun is low in the sky, just about to dip below the horizon. A few fires are lit, but the town is starting to settle down. The lack of electric lights means there isn't that much nightlife.

Kai waits for them on horseback, staring out towards the Hills.

Arita meets up with Kai and Tomoe at the edge of town. Instead of her usual Lictor hat, which is on her horse, she wears a fashionable one to make a token effort to hide that she's leaving town.

As it gets darker, the moon rises high in the sky. There's enough light that they don't absolutely need a light source, which might be better for stealth. Then again, if they end up somewhere it's dark, it'll be really dark.

Arita pats the torches she packed. "We'll save these for if we need 'em. Y'all ready to ride out?"

Kai nods, still looking to the Hills.

Tomoe bows her head affirmatively. "Let us depart."

As they ride out into the moonlit hills, they can spot a campfire in the distance. Odds are, whoever built it isn't out here just to enjoy the scenery. They might know something... or they might be trouble. Not that the two are mutually exclusive.

Tomoe turns her mount without a word, riding straight for the camp, her naginata tucked under her arm.

Kai follows.

Arita heads that way as well.

As they draw closer, they can see it's three tents, the outlines of a few men sitting around the campfire, talking quietly. They aren't noticed yet, or, at least, the camping party has given no indication. But will be if they continue to approach, most likely.

Kai eases up on his horse. "Hey!" he whispers as loudly as he can, "We sure these folk are friends?"

Tomoe replies, "One is never sure of that."

Arita slows to a halt, peering at the camp.

There are four of them, all in hats and dressed in shabby clothes. They don't look like upstanding citizens, but they might just be poor.

Arita looks at the others. "We should probably try and find out. Either of you any good at goin' unnoticed?"

Tomoe dismounts, holding her weapon at the ready as she slowly approaches the camp.

Arita shrugs to herself, and dismounts to join, gun drawn.

Kai exchanges a cautious look with Arita. He then dismounts and head after Tomoe, weapons in hand.

"Who goes there?" one of them calls out in a gruff voice, as the group reaches for their weapons.

Tomoe calls back out to them. "A Sister of Rectitude, in need of assistance!"

Arita keeps her gun drawn but at her side, figuring it's best to let the Sister announcer hself as opposed to the lawperson.

They calm slightly. "Ain't never met one of y'all before," the man who called out says.

Tomoe steps into the circle of light, holding her naginata as non-threateningly as one can hold a seven-foot polearm.

Kai also approaches, thinking for once this might actually go okay! Then he notices Toothless Billy sitting amongst them, his buckshot already in his lap. Toothless Billy, the cold hearted murderer who shot nine, women and children included, at the Blackrock Saloon... over a watch.

The leader starts, "I'm Jeb, and this here is..." But he's interrupted when Toothless Billy jumps up. "I know who y'all are. Or at least him. That there's the marshlander sombitch what cheated me outta my gran-pappy's watch!"

Kai bristles.

Billy has his shotgun aimed in Kai's face, just about.

Tomoe slowly, sternly advises the assembled ruffians. "Violence is neither wise nor necessary."

"Well shit," Kai says drawing, "Put it to better use than on your good as dead wrist. Might be someone else who can actually tell time can find it now"

Arita's gun springs up, aimed straight at Billy's face.

"I say we take whatever's they got on 'em, then we takes a lil more from these women-folks," Billy taunts.

Kai says, "Ladies, this here is Toothless Billy, murderer of nine, women and children included, and once off partner to One Eyed Jack."

They're now in what would be known as a Zhatlani standoff.

Arita nods at Kai's words.

Tomoe wordlessly lunges at Billy, her blade whistling through the night air. She effortlessly displaces Billy's head from his shoulders, sending it careening through the air in a shower of blood.

Toothless Billy is now Headless Billy.

Arita sees Billy die, and whips her gun over towards Jeb and opens fire.

Jeb hits the dirt. "Light 'em up, boys! Do it for Billy!" he yells. His two remaining goons start blasting away with their pistols.

Kai darts towards Jeb and makes a show of his katana and pistol.

Jeb just narrowly avoids getting shot and stabbed by Kai, as he returns fire as well. All shots miss, but there is a close call with Kai.

Arita dives for cover, taking another shot at Jeb, narrowly missing.

Tomoe lunges at one of Jeb's goons with her spear.

Tomoe's spear strikes true once again!

Kai presses his attack against Jeb, katana whirling, gun blazing. With his katana, he slashes at Jeb's hand, cleaving off one of his fingers.

Jeb's gun falls to the ground, along with one of his fingers.

Kai levels his pistol right between Jeb's eyes. "You gonna make me pull this trigger?"

"Fuck..." Jeb mumbles.

The remaining goon tries to run off into the hills.

Kai cautions, "Shoot him! He could be going after Xeiya!"

Arita takes a shot at the fleeing goon.

The goon falls down. Jeb's gang is dead and he himself is in no shape for fighting.

Kai demands, "Mind tellin me and my partners what you're doing out here all by your lonesome?"

"We're just campin'! Mindin' our own business!" Jeb fires back.

Arita holsters her gun with an amused snort.

Kai says, "...With the murderer Toothless Billy."

"Look around! You done some murderin' yourself!" Jeb counters.

Arita looks at Jeb. "Billy drew first. We were just protectin' ourselves."

Kai says, "What we did was a blessing. This aint no murder. But this might be..." Kai cocks his gun loudly in front of Jeb, "...if you don't fess up."

Jeb protests, "Yeah, protectin' yourself by shootin' up our campsite!! Bunch of crazy bitches, you're worse than that witch!!"

Tomoe inserts herself between Kai and Jeb, her voice as cool and level as ever. "Righteous violence is not murder, but it is regrettable."

Arita raises her eyebrow. "Tell us 'bout the witch."

"And then you're gonna let me go?!" Jeb asks.

Tomoe says, "Your conscience will be absolved, yes."

Jeb laments, "Sneakin' up on men in the night, shootin' em dead, choppin' off heads, fucking crazy bitches..."

Tomoe entreats Jeb again. "Tell us about the witch."

Arita grits her teeth. "The witch. Y'all will be free to go afterwards, far as I'm concerned."

"Sister I want you to swear on your Holy Light that you'll let me go free after I tell you," Jeb says.

Tomoe bows her head. "By the Holy Light, I will release you." Unfortunately, Tomoe is not a convincing liar.

Jeb catches on to her wordplay. "No mincin' words sister. You'll let me go free. Swear it!"

Arita looks over at Tomoe. "We don't got proof this mad did anything wrong, Billy was the only one we know was a criminal. No need to kill him."

Kai says, "You heard the sister, she said her piece. Now fess up!"

Tomoe tightens her lips, visibly struggling with the decision. "By the Holy Light...I will let you go free...if you tell us the whereabouts of the witch."

Jeb tenses. "If you're gonna kill me, just do it... but then I ain't talkin'." He grunts in pain as he slowly stands, still holding his mangled hand with the other. "Deal is, I talk, I walk."

Tomoe takes Jeb's hand, squeezing it as tight as she possibly can. "The witch. Where is she?"

He nods, wincing. He pulls his hand free and raises it, trying to point, realizing he's got no more pointing finger, and sighs to himself. "That way. In the old pyramid."

The 'old pyramid' is almost certainly the crumbling remnants of a temple, built by a long-dead civilization, the Vari. The Vari were the ancestors of all of the native peoples of the Frontier, and much of their culture survives in Zhatlan.

Kai looks up at Tomoe to see if this satisfies.

Tomoe advises him sternly. "Now go, and pray that you are a better man the next time our paths cross."

Kai regretfully lifts his gun from Jeb.

Jeb grunts in pain again, picks up his gun carefully, holding it up to show he doesn't intend to use it, and holsters it. Then he slowly wanders off into the night.

Arita watches the man go. "Well. Glad that worked out in the end. Lets get back to our horses, yeah?"

"He must've been talking about the old Vari temple," Kai remarks. "I been there a few times when I rolled with Jack. Creepy place."

Tomoe takes a moment to steady herself, quietly breathing out a mantra before mounting her steed and staring out at the horizon. "I am going to kill that witch."

As Kai is walking back to his horse, Kai spots a bulge in the back pocket of Toothless Billy's headless body.

Kai's eyes widen. Finally, something more he can send back to mother and sister. He reaches into the pocket and takes it out to see...

Billy's wallet is stuffed with Royal banknotes. It's like a good night of cards, maybe two.

Kai whistles. "Look at all that. Ha ha!"

Tomoe instructs Kai. "That money is unclean."

Kai pockets it. "I'll clean it up when I get back to the Gulch," he says absently, smiling at what he can now send his family.

Arita purses her lips slightly, not sure exactly where she falls on this.

Tomoe hardens her voice ever-so-slightly. "That money is tainted with sin and death and buys only impurity."

Kai, assuming Tomoe was originally just remarking on the money, realizes this might mean something else. He says, slightly annoyed, "Sister. What money is clean out here? Besides, it's... for a good cause. I figured even you could get behind that."

Tomoe sagely explains to Kai. "Money dirtied by death and iniquity cannot do good. The taint will rub off on every hand it passes between."

Arita gives Tomoe a small smile. "Then it's best an honorable man sees to it's safekeeping, as opposed to Jeb returning to recover and spend it, yes?"

Kai blinks at Tomoe. He draws the money and holds it out. "Well, can you untaint it?"

Tomoe recoils slightly from the fistful of cash: even touching it would violate several of her sacred vows. "I cannot..."

Kai pauses for several seconds, looking down at the money. Then he looks back at Tomoe. "What would you do if I kept it anyways?" he asks coolly.

Tomoe replies, "Nothing. The curse is on you."

Kai looks at her, eye to eye, and without looking away, pockets the money. "It's for my family. That's no concern of yours. Now, we have a witch to kill"

Arita comes back with their horses, having slipped away during the argument. "Y'all done?"

Tomoe nods, turning back in the direction of the pyramid. "I shall pray for them."

The trio rides off into the night, over the hills and onto some flatter plains, where the outlines of tall trees make imposing shadows in the moonlight.

In the distance, they can spot the black outline of the 'old pyramid' that Jeb spoke of. As they draw closer, they ride through a ruined promenade that contains various idols in quite profound states of disrepair, broken statues of weird bat-winged and serpentine gods whose names have long since been forgotten. Or were perhaps never even known to people not native to the Frontier. All of them affronts to the Holy Light, anyway.

Arita eyes the statues warily, not liking being among such dark figures. "I don't like the idea of fighting a damn witch here," she says, her voice more annoyed than nervous.

Tomoe stares up at the idols, gritting her blackened teeth. Dismounting her steed, she begins to assault them with all her might.

In their already decayed state, it takes little to make them crack and crumble.

Arita halts her horse, watching the Sister attack statues, drawing her gun - not sure if the Sister has a reson for attacking or not.

Perhaps of more concern is that the act is making quite a bit of noise.

Arita hisses. "Tomoe! You're going to alert the witch of our presence!"

Kai says, "Well, I suppose we could've just let that runner go, seeing as how we just threw out the element of surprise..."

The bat-statue crumbles with a loud clattering of stone. It takes little but a few strong kicks to overturn the snake-statue, and the impact with the ground snaps it in two.

Tomoe brushes the dust and gravel off of her robes. "I will not have their heathen eyes gazing down upon us."

The work is now done, and the world is more pure for it. The Holy Light is most certainly pleased.

Arita just sighs. "Perhaps she'll assume a minor earthquake passed through." She doesn't let on that she does feel better without the statues watching.

Tomoe smooths out her skirt before lowering herself to her knees, hands forming sacred mudras on her lap. "One moment please. I must pray."

Arita waits, watching for any possible approach.

Kai drums his fingers along the butt of his gun.

In the distance, a wolf howls ominously. Or just because they're out wandering around at night. Who knows.

After a few minutes of chanting and bowing, Tomoe finally rises to her feet. "We can go now."

Kai nods.

Arita shudders slightly at the wolf's howl. "Good. Lets hope that beast doesn't draw nearer."

They ride onward, and the old pyramid gets closer. Although it is but ruins now, one can still see its splendor. Steps lead up its terraced side, split at their base to allow entrance, as well. Alternatively, the top is broken open, with a decent sized hole allowing entrance that way.

Arita turns to her companions. "We should go in the top. Witch may be up there, and with it fallin' apart, she may be able to take shots at us from above. Best start up high and work our ways down."

Tomoe nods in agreement. "She will not evade us."

Kai nods. He dismounts and continues on foot, making his way up top.

They climb the many steps up the side of the pyramid. The view from the top looks out over the ruined promenade and the Broken Hills beyond, giving a fairly good view of this part of the Frontier. They think they can almost see the faint lights of the Gulch, in the distance.

Kai remarks, "Look at that. Gulch doesn't look so bad from all the way up here"

Atop the pyramid, they can see the large hole, that leads down into darkness.

Arita peers down into the darkness.

Arita thinks she spots something moving in the darkness. It's lunging at them!

Arita recoils, drawing her gun and firing a quick shot at the oncoming beast!

The rest of the group just saw a few bats milling about, which are now quite disturbed by Arita's impulsive shot, and go flying out the opening, making terrified screeches.

Kai nearly looses his footing at the sudden shots, then looks at her in earnest confusion as he ducks down away from the hole. "What is it? You see something??" Kai asks as he draws his own gun.

"Well now they almost certainly know that we're here," Tomoe dryly remarks.

Arita blinks as the beast doesn't appear. "Ah. I think I thought...nevermind. Trick of the light."

Through the commotion, Kai hears a female voice call out, "Go check on that! I can't be disturbed!"

Kai says, "Wait. I hear someone. Might be Xeiya. She's sending up someone to check out the noise"

"I will cut them off," Tomoe announces, as she prepares herself to drop down into the hole.

Kai tries to hastily cloak himself in shadows to get the jump on any would-be enemies.

The moonlight casts odd, long shadows. He can hide in a corner of the large stone railing that surrounds the top of the pyramid.

Arita also draws back into the shadows, giving Tomoe a nod.

Tomoe easily leaps down, and lands in a darkened upper chamber, with a narrow set steps leading down into the pyramid's main temple. She hears footsteps coming up.

Tomoe attempts to hide, but does not find a suitable location.

A tall, gaunt, pale man comes up the stairs, shining a lantern, holding a revolver in his other hand.

Tomoe stands in plain view, stance wide, naginata outstretched.

"Intruder!" he snarls.

Tomoe says, "This is your one and only chance to escape."

The weird man doesn't take his chance. Instead, he fires his revolver!

Tomoe gracefully sidesteps the shot and brings her blade up in a diagonal slash.

He moves with surprising speed for being so awkward-looking. The moonlight catches him as he moves, and it's evident he seems even more pale than most people would look under moonlight.

Kai pivots from his hiding place to take a shot down at the man. The shot blasts away a chunk of the wall behind him.

Arita pops out, also firing off a quick shot at the weird-looking man.

The bullet grazes the top of his head, prompting a weird roaring sound from him. He launches himself at Tomoe, tossing his gun and lantern aside and trying to wrestle her naginata from her hands. He snatches it from her, but she takes it right back!

Tomoe is going to make him regret getting inside her killing-circle.

She slashes low, he dodges, but he's unsteady on his feet.

Kai leps down into the hole, tumbling to take a flanking position with Tomoe.

Arita stays up top, taking another shot at the inhuman man.

This one strikes! He staggers back, blood spraying out. Is it... black? Might just be because it's dark.

Katana and revolver in hand, Kai tumbles between the legs of the weird man, and begins the assault opposite Tomoe!

The strange man collapses against the stony wall.

Arita's hand was hovering over the hammer of her pistol, and when the man staggered from the blow she slammed the hammer back and fired again, putting a second bullet through his...heart?

Kai pivots out of the way as the man is blasted backwards from the shot, sending him against the wall behind him.

Tomoe checks over the body, careful not to ever actually touch the thing. "We must find the witch quickly, before she can send more servants to harass us."

He's deathly pale, especially since 'medium brown' is the normal human skin tone around here. And his blood is definitely darker than normal. He's definitely been the recipient of some sort of weird, dark magic. Though it's not clear exactly what-- the dark arts aren't an exacting science-- he has some sort of enchantment on him, that drains his vitality but gives him supernatural strength.

Arita reloads her pistol, then jumps down after the others.

"What was he?" Kai asks Tomoe, looking reproachfully at the body.

Tomoe says, "A walking corpse, if he was lucky."

Kai says, "We should move. Surely she knows we're here."

Kai would recall that even Jack was not so desperate that he'd ever accept this kind of 'aid' from Xeiya. Apparently she found someone more willing.

Kai says, "This was the sort of thing even Jack was above. Guess I never let that sink in until now..."

Tomoe doesn't have time to dismember the thing like she should, but she takes its head off, just to be safe.

Arita nods, taking up a position near the stairs the man came up, and peering downward..

Arita can hear frenzied chanting in some ancient, holy-light-foresaken language, in the distance. It has to be Xeiya.

Tomoe charges past Arita and down the stairs. The witch must not be allowed one second more of life!

Arita looks at the others and begins to run. She can't finish the ritual!

Kai runs ahead as well.

The steps lead down into the base of the pyramid. A corner turns, and it opens into the main chamber of the temple, adored with the same idols as before, gazing down with their cold stony eyes. However, the most pressing concern is the desecrated altar in the center of the chamber, stained with blood, with a rotting corpse upon it, Xeiya chanting over it feverishly.

Tomoe says, "Witch Xeiya!" Tomoe calls out. "I am here to send you to Hell!"

"You're already there!" Xeiya hisses back.

Arita levels her gun at Xeiya. "Shoulda killed you last week. Not gonna make that mistake again."

Kai says, "Enough talk!"

"Arise again! Take your vengeance!" says to the corpse. It gives a weird, gurgled roar, and abruptly sits up.

"Jack!" Kai gasps in shock.

Arita immediatly pulls the trigger, aiming for the sitting corpse. She hears someone screaming as she shoots. It takes a moment for her to realize its herself, and she clamps her mouth shut.

Arita's shot hits the thing square... and it's not even bothered.

Tomoe focuses her attention entirely on the witch. "In the name of the Holy Light!" She shouts, "I will punish you!" before charging at her, blade held high.

Xeiya leaps back, but the spear still gets her in the side. Her face twists into a wicked snarl, holding her hand up in a clawed gesture. "Let darkness consume you!" Tomoe feels a certain... weight on her soul. It's hard to explain, but it's there. But her strength of spirit causes it to soon pass.

The Jack-zombie, meanwhile, staggers to its feet and launches itself at Arita with all its unholy might. It misses, smashing into the wall behind her, causing cracks to form and work their way up the large chamber.

Kai fires a few shots Jack's way. "Remember me, Jack? Come on, dig deep. Kai, the one who double-crossed you?"

Whatever this thing is, it isn't Jack, not anymore. The gun at least gets its attention. It gives a gurgling roar.

Arita blanches slightly after recoiling from the zombie's grasp, but quickly recovers to attempt to take advantage of the breathing room Kai gave her to fire off another shot.

The shots from Kai and Arita hit the zombie, blasting off chunks of its rotting flesh. It does damage, but has none of the stopping power the pain and shock of getting shot usually would.

Tomoe continues her righteous assault against Xeiya!

The zombie, as mentioned before, tries to put itself between Xeiya and the righteous assault. Her naginata cleaves its undead flesh open! To basically no effect.

Xeiya cackles madly, thinking the assault a failure. Tomoe pushes on, and Xeiya's cackling is interrupted as she takes another minor wound! "You will die... you will DIE HORRIBLY!" Xeiya screams.

The zombie gurgles and remains in its protective stance, trying to counterattack against this new threat.

Kai sees it turn right towards Tomoe and unloads every shot he has into the thing to stifle its attack! "No. You. Don't!" Kai exclaims with each shot ringing out behind his words.

The zombie is distracted by the hail of gunfire and smashes into a nearby stone pillar instead, breaking it and causing it to fall over with a crash.

Meanwhile, Xeiya continues her weird chanting, this time directing her dark arcane power at Kai. Suddenly, Kai feels terrified. He's not exactly even sure of what, it's just... a dark omen.

Kai has a hardened mental discipline from being an outcast for so long.

Kai almost feels like he can shake off the curse... then he remembers that 'tainted' money.

Kai tries to fend off the feeling - he's been alone hundreds of time before, lost in the night or surrounded by criminals... but something else seems to be weighing him down. The tainted money! His face goes pale, but he does his best to fight on through the fear! Kai slashes his katana at Jack, planning to put him out of his misery for good!

Jack is not going down easy, it seems. His dead flesh is cut open, but he still walks.

Arita raises her gun, abruptly switching targets at the last second, firing a snap shot at Xeiya.

Xeiya staggers back, the shot striking her. "You will pay for that....!"

Arita lets out a wordless shout of triumph.

Tomoe seizes on the opening Arita left and tries to finish the witch off!

Once again, Xeiya's loyal servant, the Jack-zombie, attempts to protect her. After blocking Tomoe's attack, the zombie launches itself at her with all it has! It grabs Tomoe and pummels her mercilessly, before it throws her across the room like a rag doll, her naginata flying out of her hand.

"Yes! YES! YES!" Xeiya yells, far too enthusiastically.

"No!" Kai yells as he sees Tomoe cast aside by Jack.

Arita snarls back at Xeiya. "You will pay for that!"

With Tomoe out of the picture, Xeiya again attempts to put her dark curse on Kai. His dread grows deeper. The fear creeps ever closer.

Kai staggers under the weight of such fear. He grows pale and shaky.

Arita opens fire at the witch.

Again she's shot, staggering backwards, spitting up blood. "Kill them all... kill them all!" she gasps. The zombie lunges at them, causing more damage to the pyramid as it lumbers into the wall.

Kai rips the money from his pocket, looks at it with disgust and casts it aside. He feels a burden lifted, but still the fear weighs on him.

The zombie shoves Kai hard, knocking his blade from his hand.

Kai reels back and dives for Tomoe's spear.

Xeiya calls upon her dark curse once again.

Kai raises the spear and turns to Xeiya, trying to fight off his fear.

Xeiya tries to overwhelm Kai's mind, to get him to surrender.

Kai steels himself. "For the Sisters of Rectitude! For my Family! For Tomoe!" he exclaims, and charges Xeiya. The spear seems to take a golden glow as Kai charges.

The spear runs the witch through.

Kai's spear charge nails the witch to the crumbling stone ruins behind her. Xeiya cackles madly all the way through it, until her laugh chokes on a bubbling gurgle in her throat.

Devoid of necromantic focus, the zombie Jack flails around madly, continuing to damage the pyramid. The cracks in the wall spread - perhaps Xeiya had the last laugh after all! The ruin begins collapsing! Arita and Kai have to leave with Tomoe!

Kai collapses, completely drained.

Arita grabs Tomoe's broken form and Kai, surging with adrenaline. Her heart pounding, she runs for all of their lives.

Arita manages to make it outside just as the old pyramid collapses further, the top level caving into the empty chamber, burying the foul witch and her even more foul creation under tons of rubble.