The Quick and the Damned

Cut Scene 2 (this takes place after Empty Graves)
Rail car rendevous

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Crow Eater entered the well decorated rail car in the dead of night.

The car was divided into an office and bedroom space separated by a wall and stained glass door. The office section where Crow Eater entered was well furnished with a large ornate desk and shelves, red decorative carpet and wall coverings and lit by four brass gas lamps. Sitting at the desk was a man in his early 30’s dressed in black with a white shirt and red puff tie. His features were hard and weathered while his long curled dark hair rested on his shoulders. The air around him was smoke filled from a recently crushed out cigarette and he observed her through narrow focused dark eyes.

“You have some nerve showing up here” the man stated directly.

“I do not fear you, Victor, I come to make good on our arrangement” Crow Eater responded.

Victor looked her over again and noticed the slight glow coming from her closed fist. “Is that it?” he asked.

Crow Eater dropped the shimmering blue crystal shard on the table. It rolled slowly toward Victor but he did not touch it.

“It is,” she stated plainly, “that’s the one Deadeye stole from you.”

“Yes, stole, right before you made a deal with him.”

“He would have never given it back otherwise and I needed his men,” Crow Eater spat back with contempt, “question me if you wish but we know how to open the boxes now and you have a shard. Where are the other boxes?”

“Someplace safe,” Victor stated with smug confidence, “that’s not your concern. What you should be concerned with is what is next.”

“Next we get ready for Styx,” she said, “He’s not playing around this time. His latest group of soul-slaves are not like the others. They are… skilled.”

“That’s Wilson’s take as well. He thinks Styx is arming up for a final showdown.”

“I hope to someday dine on Wilson’s spleen but on this one point he may be correct.”

Victor chuckled, “Leave my son’s spleen out of this discussion. So what is your plan?”

Crow Eater hissed as her eyes drifted to the shard on the table. “I’ll need more braves,” she said with a devious edge in her voice, “more than I can create on my own.”

Victor’s demeanor showed he understood. “Take it,” he said motioning toward the shard, “but I’ll expect it back.”

“What of Deadeyes?” Crow Eater asked. “He betrayed me, I want his heart.”

“Wilson is taking care of that and securing other interests for us as well. I need you to handle Styx’s new posse. You can have all of them; even turn them if you wish, except the preacher. I need him alive. He has too big a part to play in this. He’s irreplaceable.”

“Does he need all 4 limbs?”

Victor chuckled again. “Only both arms and hands to pray, legs are optional.”

Crow Eater snatched the shard from the table and turned to leave. “I’ll need one of your men to kill me,” she stated plainly, “where I’m going I can get quicker by air than land.”

“I think I can arrange that” Victor said with a smile.

As Crow Eater walked from the train car a well-dressed man pushed his way in with a letter in his hand. “Urgent message from Camp 46, sir” he said in a panic. Crow Eater just smiled. She already knew what the letter said. She had sensed it in the Hunting Grounds. She stood still a few feet from the rail car taking in the night air. It felt so different in human form. The smells were dulled but the world had more color and the chill of the night air was more noticeable. If she didn’t despise them so she might actually enjoy possessing humans.

A single gun shot rang out in the night from behind her. A few moments later she was soaring in the low clouds with the shard clutched tightly in her talon. Black wings carried her as she looked to her left. The Sun would rise there soon but she could make good time before it did.

Now she just had to decide if she was going to take one of the preacher’s legs or both.

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From the Journal of Dr. Ridgeback (after Episode 4)

While going through Dr. Ridgebacks things Rayne stumbled upon a journal he maintained over the last 2 years. Most of it was ramblings and indecipherable discussions with himself. However, one passage from 2 months ago was both coherent and informative…

From the journal of Dr. William Ridgeback

January 7th, 1880

I’m having a moment of rare lucidity. I want to take advantage of this time to jot down my plan so that I can refer to it in my less clear moments.

Since making my deal with Styx two years ago my knowledge of the new sciences has increased as my grasp on reality has decreased. Often times I find myself blacking out and waking up to the most amazing inventions crafted by my own hands. I don’t remember making them. Often times I don’t even remember designing them. However, there they are, and they are fabulous. Along with them though comes, shall we say, a lack of focus. I feel like a passenger in my own body most of the time.

My deal with Styx was simple enough, he would open the door of knowledge for me and in turn I would help him find and open boxes. I felt like I was getting over on him. I was certainly getting the much better part of the deal. He supplied me with so much knowledge including the private notes of Dr. Hellstromme himself! Oh the wonders they showed me! After months of study Styx managed to secure me a position with the National Mining Company. Officially I was there to help improve mining operations. Unofficially I was there to identify when they found boxes and what they did with them. My payroll came from NMC but my employer was Mr. Styx. With each box that was discovered I tried everything I could think of from explosives to acid but nothing worked.

Then I heard a story from a nice fellow named Holliday. A dentist by trade this gambler and gunfighter tended to get loose with the lips when inebriated. He claimed his girlfriend, for lack of a better term, was Hungarian born and still had family in the old country. Apparently Kate claimed her cousin, a seer, wrote her a letter about the son of a fellow seer she worked with. Supposedly the boy’s blood had special properties. “One drop of his blood can open any door or remove any barrier” Holliday claimed. “I’m going to find that boy because I have a whole lot of locks I want to open!”

My mind raced as I watched Holliday pass out at the table. If this story was true, and I had no reason to doubt it was, that might be the key to opening the boxes. I made him a device to remove humidity from the air to help with his tuberculosis as a way to thank him for setting me on the path. I told Mr. Styx of my discovery and he told me to work on finding the boxes, he’d work on getting the boys blood. Months have passed with no blood but I continued to research the boxes. It turned out people had been finding them as long as there had been mines in the west. The more I researched the more troubled I became. It seems where ever these boxes appeared terrible things happened. A town in northern California was devoured by rabid wolves in an area there had never been wolves before. A man in Utah went insane and carved out the hearts of his entire mining camp. A family traveling by wagon in New Mexico inexplicably went cannibal and ate the rest of the wagon train.

I have also invested some time in to learning more about our Mr. Styx. The earliest mention of him I can find is from an article about a woman in a sanitarium in New Orleans from May of 1863. The reporter who wrote the article claims the woman went on and on about her deal with Mr. Styx and that he’d be coming to save her. She hung herself in her room in the sanitarium with a bed sheet three days later. Leveraging my contacts in the scientific community I have found various references to him all around the new world over the last 17 years. News articles, witness testimony and even a picture of him with Jefferson Davis. He’s been active and clearly up to no good. Where ever he goes death soon follows and I know there are those who say they sold their very souls to him. Besides Dusty I can’t find any other connection to anyone save for the occasional mention of a woman named Esmeralda that nobody has ever seen. Whatever the case he is evil, pure and simple and these boxes are clearly the primary objective of whatever his scheme is.

I can’t let Styx have these boxes or their contents and so I have devised a plan. I am currently at Camp 46. We have had an issue keeping dead people dead ever since we dug up one of those boxes in the mine. Three days ago we lost 271 miners but I’m certain they are down there and not quite dead. I will convince the company to open up the lower mine and in the chaos I will escape in my suit, my greatest invention yet. Styx will believe I was devoured in the zombie attack. I’ll have to kill Captain Emry and his men first to ensure there’s nobody to stop the zombies. I’ll take the box with me then work at gathering up the other boxes to keep them out of the hands of Styx. I have helped NMC gather 8 of the boxes although I heard one was stolen in a train robbery by an outlaw named Deadeye’s Jack. I’m not sure how many there are total but I’ll find them and I’ll find a way to use the power of them against Styx himself!

The voices again. In my head, in my ear. What? What is that you say? A gondola lift? Yes, yes that would speed things up nicely. Now where did I put those plans…?

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Cut Scene 1 (takes place after session 2)
Crow Eater Reborn

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The old medicine woman begged for mercy.

She rested on her knees in a small clearing. Before her a dead oak stood firmly planted in the ground while the living forest reached for the Heavens all around them. Two braves stood on either side of her swaying back and forth to an insidious rhythm only their dead ears could hear. They bent at their waist, the weight of bone pulling down long dead muscle and tissue. Their knees could not withstand the pressure either and were at an angle as they shifted back and forth on decayed legs. They had been too long without the warmth of her breath, the sustenance of her glare, the comfort of her presence. She gave them life from death and preserved them in this world. Without her they were quickly rotting. Oh how they longed for their mistress.

Suddenly the quiet night was disturbed by the sound of ruffling feathers and flapping wings. Within seconds the trees around them were filled with crows of all sizes. They squawked and hopped branch to branch. The forest was a symphony of crow screams directed at the old woman. She looked all around her terrified at the macabre display of raw hatred. As quickly as they started they stopped. All fell silent as one single crow, larger than the rest, flew down from the living trees and landed on the dead oak. The old woman looked up and let out a whimper. The braves, one carrying a long spear adorned in trinkets, backed away from the old woman. The crow merely watched them all tilting its head back and forth and blinking coal black eyes.

“Please, mercy” the woman begged in her native tongue. “I am old and this body is frail. There are others that would be more suitable.”

That was precisely what the crow required. In a moment of despair the woman had sealed her own fate. In offering another she broke the bonds of the tribe. The spirits she could not even see abandoned her sickened by the betrayal. She was now it’s for the taking. The crow stretched out its wings and with a blood curdling screech descended on the old woman. Talons tore at flesh as its beak pecked at her eyes. The braves backed away even further as they watched from behind the old woman. Blood, flesh and feather swirled together on the ground before her as she yanked and pulled desperately at her winged assailant. In a panic she lurched backwards then slammed her face to the ground again and again hoping to free her from the crows grip but it was fruitless. It had her. Its talons clung to her face as its essence clung to her soul. She twisted and turned, screamed and begged. She called out to the spirits of her people but they had abandoned her. Minutes passed in the brutal dance as the assembled crows began to squawk in unison. Their voice grew louder and louder. It was a bitter song of hatred and aggression. Like a choir from Hell they filled the night with their screams. Occasionally the energy became too much to bear and one crow would leap down attacking another.

Then as suddenly as it started it all ended.

The woman lay still and the forest had gone quiet in the night. The crows hopped back and forth in the trees curiously observing the scene below. Slowly the woman pulled herself to her hands and knees then stood. She stretched and looked down at her hands then raised them to feel her face. Behind her the two braves cautiously inched forward. She turned revealing the large crow tattoo on her face that was previously free of any markings. The head of the crow was centered on her forehead, her eyes peered through its wings and her mouth split its tail in two with the tip of the tail feathers resting on her chin. Other than the tattoo her face showed no sign of the struggle that had taken place mere seconds before. Nor was there any sign of the living crow that had assaulted her.

“It’s ok my children,” she said in a comforting tone, “we are together again.” She reached out with both hands taking each of them by the face. If they could smile they would have. They were back where they belonged, back in its embrace. One offered her the spear and the other offered a small crystal shard that pulsated blue illuminating its yellow decaying hands in the night. She toke both items then turned with purpose and walked off into the woods. Her two servants watched as she disappeared into the forest using her spear as a walking stick.

Crow Eater was reborn.

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Trouble in Angel Valley!
Four strangers create quite the stir in quiet town

Trouble in Angel Valley!

By Jefferson Franklin reporting for The Weekly Western

March 10th, 1880

Trouble comes to Angel Valley! For those readers not in the know Angel Valley is a small town on the Union Blue rail line right at the border of the disputed territories of Kansas and Colorado. This rapidly growing rail town has seen its share of troubles ever since the notorious outlaw Deadeye’s Jack rode in to town with his gang of miscreants in 1878 and ran Sherriff James Stiff out of town. The burned out Sheriff’s Office stands as a message; there is no law in Angel Valley! Deadeye’s is of course known for his surly disposition, quick temper and ever present green tinted goggles. Some say behind those goggles his eyes have been replaced with Ghost Rock that allows him to see the supernatural all around him! This reporter prefers to stick to the facts.

Still this small town has managed to grow despite the lack of law into a primary stop for the Union Blue rail and the presence of the Deadeye Gang as they’re called has kept other skullduggery out of the town until now. This reporter has learned from sources that prefer to remain anonymous that just 1 night ago 4 strangers’ rode in to town asking questions about a Rabbi named Mayer Weisz and his family. Apparently the notorious brigand Deadeye’s Jack has also been looking for these helpless Hungarian immigrants. He has both offered reward for information about the rabbi and threatened certain death to anyone helping him evade discovery.

This reporter spoke to Smiling Sally, the lovely proprietor of the Rail Runner Saloon. She confirmed a verbal confrontation between the strangers, one of whom we hear is a young preacher, and Deadeye’s Jack himself. Fortunately the incident ended without bloodshed but not everyone was so lucky. Less than an hour later a respectable banker and the courageous Pinkerton traveling with him were viciously assaulted by two of Angel Valley’s guests! A brazen woman with a three gun rig and a young squaw caught the Pinkerton unawares and waylaid him as he rested in his own hotel room. While the banker insists it was all a misunderstanding witnesses claim to have seen a severely injured Pinkerton flee the town alone in the morning clearly fearing for his life. He did take the time to stop at the local telegraph and send a message to someone named Victor that read, simply, “she’s alive and the preachers in play”. An enticing mystery indeed!

However, this wasn’t the end of the wave of terror these strangers have brought upon this quiet border town. Residents of farms near Peter Kardo’s place are giving reports of a vicious gunfight on the Kardo land. Some reports even claim Mr. Kardo and his trusted cattle hand Alfred were killed in the conflict that included the Deadeye Gang, the new strangers in town including a monstrous 6’6” 300 lbs woodsman, and a number of Indian braves. Some reports say the braves seemed to move odd and were able to leap to the top of the farm house in a single bound. This reporter doesn’t buy in to such foolishness. I have confirmed however that Deadeye’s Jack was seen fleeing the farm hastily carrying a 6 year old lad many suspect to be one of the children of Rabbi Weisz.

The Kardo farmhouse is burning as I type this very article and while all 4 strangers appear to be alive and kicking rumor is the squaw was gravely injured. Hopefully her Preacher friend has God with him. If rumors of a deal struck between Deadeye’s Jack and the elusive medicine woman they call Crow Eater are true these strangers will need every gun they can muster to get that boy back!

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