Opportunity Knocks

The Bells of St Mary's / Guess Who's Coming to Donner

Our heroes left the Cherub Glassworks and returned to the boat which had brought them there. As they approached the boat, Mr. Lee did not respond. He remained sitting in the boat, facing the water, with his fishing pole in hand. Percival Ford walked up to him and shook him to get his attention. Mr. Lee’s body fell forward, and his head rolled back into Percivals hands.

Lin Zexu and his Kang triad goons surrounded the Posse with guns drawn. Zexu demanded the deed, which he assumed the Posse now held after the battle at the Glassworks. Some taunting went back and forth, and Zexu ordered his men to search the Posse for the deed. It was at this point that the Posse realized that Icie was no longer with them.

A lone gunshot rang out and one of Zexu’s men fell dead, as Thin Noodles Ma and his Shan Fan triad goons arrived. Ma also demanded the deed. Zexu said he’d rather die than be robbed by the Shan Fan triad again. Ma replied that Zexu must still be sore for losing his woman to Big Ears Tam. This enraged Zexu, and he ordered his men to fight. The Posse was caught in the middle of a gang war.

Thin Noodles Ma shot fire from his fingertips. Lin Zexu showed no interest in the lives of his own men as he opened fire with a shotgun, killing his own in attempts to hit Thin Noodles Ma. A lucky shot from a Shan Fan triad goon hit Zexu in the head and he went down. Wounded as well, Thin Noodles Ma ordered his men to retreat.

A quick search for Icie found an empty bottle of ether, and signs that she had been dragged away. Thanks to the quick thinking of Percival Ford, the Posse managed to secure one of the boats the Kang triad had used. The Posse rowed towards the ruins of St. Mary’s Cathedral, where Judge Iroh had crashed.

The crash site showed nothing of interest, but it there were signs that someone might have already searched the body and taken something into the church. The front doors were not opening, and it looked like someone was using a broken window as an entrance. Cho led the party in, where the saw two effigies – very much like the one they encountered in Weaverville. The two straw men began to move and came at the Posse. Remembering that fire was the only thing to stop these creatures before, the Posse grabbed burning candle holders and used them as improvised weapons. Meanwhile Guardian Angels shot at the Posse from the balconies above.

Following the cries of Icie, the Posse raced up the clock tower dodging falling gears. At the top, a lone woman held Icie as a human shield. She revealed herself to be Lin Chi Ling, former lover of Zane Sharkey, former wife of Lin Zexu and current lover of Big Ears Tam. She attempted to sway Zane’s allegiance, but he wasn’t interested. Then Lin Chi Ling transformed herself into a giant Bat-Woman, and swatted the party with a sonic blast. The transformation shook Zane Sharkey and left him with a minor phobia of bats. The Posse returned fire, but every shot that came close was deflected by a swarm of bats which surrounded her. Another blast of her magic scream laid waste to the party, and Lin Chi Ling grabbed Icie and flew away to the North East.

After some creative healing efforts, the party recovered from their ass-wuppin and began searching for the deed. In a small lock box they found both the deed and a letter from Lin Chi Ling’s sister at Lake Bigler. Zane heard a whispering voice that called out to him. He moved some rags and found the head of Lin Chi Ling in a jar. A mechanical device under the jar made the sound of Lin Chi Ling’s voice. She spoke to Zane, saying it was dark and she was cold and how she wished to be in his strong arms again. Zane tried to console his past lover. She said she wished she could see the sun rise one last time. Zane took her outside and described the sunrise to her, and then ended her misery.

Some discussion was held over what to do with the deed. The decision was made to keep it so that no one could profit from it. Some scouting was done to make sure the the doppelganger of Lin Chi Ling was not still in town before following the evidence and leaving for Lake Bigler.

The fastest and most direct way to Lake Bigler was through Truckee Pass. The Posse knew they had some time to spare before the Poker Tournament, and they needed an easy ride to lick their wounds. One night, Percival Ford was examining the mysterious fake eye they had found in DeDelaro’s lock box. When he held it up to his own eye, six insectoid-like legs sprouted out and grabbed his head. It pulled itself closer to Percivals own eye. Fang-like appendages opened up and began shredding his own left eye. Percival screamed as the alien-like eye replaced his original eye with itself. Percival was shocked, and despite missing his own eye was able to see things plainly. Later he discovered that his new guest allowed him to sometimes see the values of playing cards held by other people.

The party arrived at the base of Truckee Pass. Snow had been falling for the day, and darkness was approaching. A friendly Trading Post owner greeted them and offered up some squirrel stew. He also sold cold weather gear and could lead the Posse to the trailhead. That night he told ghost stories about the Donner party who had been trapped in Truckee Pass almost thirty years ago. He said their ghosts still haunted these woods, and that he used his decorative glass bottles to keep them away. He also said that no one traveled the pass this time of year, but that a group of four Pinkertons had come through a couple days earlier. They had bought up all his dynamite and said they were working for the Wasatch Railroad.

The Posse set out in the morning but quickly lost sight of the trail in the snow. They failed to reach Truckee Lake as the Trading Post owner had suggested, and they realized they were lost. They found shelter for the night and tried to start out again in the morning.

Like throughout the west coast, the posse was burdened with hunger. But the hunger felt more intense on the mountain. Rations failed to satisfy our heroes as they craved fresh meat. When morning came they saw a pair of rabbits grazing at a bare patch of grass or some flowers. Zane took aim with his pistol and killed one of the rabbits. The other rabbit didn’t run, but instead began nuzzling it’s fallen partner. This seemed weird, but Zane was hungry, so he shot the other rabbit. When he walked up, he realized the second rabbit wasn’t nuzzling his friend, he was eating him. And it wasn’t a patch of flowers they were eating, it was another rabbit. Zane didn’t think about it too much as he dove in and started eating the rabbit.

The posse started searching for the trail again, but still couldn’t find it. Percival got the feeling they were being stalked, and the posse found large human footprints, bare footprints, that circled them. Another day went by without the trail, and the posse contemplated eating one of their horses. Zane would have none of that.

The next morning brought hope as they found the trail and made it to Truckee Lake. They found one of the cabins that surrounded the lake. It was in poor shape and stunk of human waste. A wagon outside had been salvaged for firewood, and a cooking pot inside was full of bones. Viktor identified them as human. Night was approaching and the party holed up in the cabin to get warm. As the sun fell a weathered man entered the cabin. The man was starved and crazed, talking about “the others” and “monsters”. Cho tied the man up, and the Posse tried to sleep through his occasional night terrors. When they woke up, they found their rations were gone, and the only bullets they had were whatever was in their guns.

Jim Higgins, the man who walked into their camp, was more crazed and bit his own thumb off. He seemed happier after eating it. Zane knocked him out as he displayed his bloody smile. The Posse discussed options, when Jim Higgins said “I’m feeling much better now.”

Jim said he was a Pinkerton and that he and his men were on a mission to defend the Free State of California from an invading Union Army. They were ambushed by some kind of monster. He pleaded with the Posse to help him rescue his men. Cho couldn’t ignore a plea for help. Higgins lead them to a remote cabin, where his men were chained to the outside. As they circled the cabin, a large ogre of a man walked up to the cabin. Cho snuck up to release the Pinkertons. Percival caught a glipse out of the corner of his eye just in time to see the Ogreish man standing behind Zane Sharky.

Zane got his ass handed to him as the giant man started pounding him. The brute even grabbed Zanes rifle away from him. The door to the cabin burst open and the first Ogre came out. Twins! The first ogre moved to the escaping Pinkertons and he ripped one of them apart.

Viktor and Cho were the first to notice a tree outside the cabin, decorated with bottles – just like the trading post. Percival took a shot at one of the bottles and it shattered. A ghostly spirit escaped and began swirling around the tree. Viktor shot at the giant attacking Zane and shot him through the neck. The giant fell, but didn’t look like he was out. Cho and Zane began shooting at the bottles. One by one they shattered, releasing more ghosts. Just as the last bottle broke, a wisp of a deformed woman stepped out of the cabin yelling, “Boys? What the hell is going on out here. Mama needs meat!”. The spirits of the Donner party, now free, raced out at the cannibals and attacked them. A swirling tornado of spiritual energy surrounded them and then disappeared. Only their clothing was left behind.

Cho grabbed the clothing and threw it into the cabin, then lit the cabin on fire. Jim Higgins and his surviving Pinkerton watched it burn to the ground in quiet contemplation. Viktor stumbled upon the Pinkertons dynamite, and they returned to their mission.

The Pinkertons escored the posse through Truckee Pass. Ahead of them they could see an advancing Union Army led by General George Armstrong Custer. The Pinkertons annouced to advanced scouts that they would not let the Union Army pass, and that they would destroy the pass with dynamite if they had to. The Army might be able to make it through on foot, but they wouldn’t be able to get their heavy wagons through. The Union army called their bluff and began advancing. Jim Higgins lit the fuse, and the canyon walls collapsed. Beaten, the Union Army headed north to Oregon to find another way around.

Jim Higgins thanked the Posse for their help and said goodbye. The Posse had the strong feeling they would never see him again. Jim said there was still evil on this mountain that needed to be stopped. As the posse descended into Nevada, they heard two gunshots ring out from behind them. Jim and his partner had tasted human flesh, and they knew their hunger would not end. They would eventually become Wendigoes like the monsters they had faced.

The Posse headed in to the town of Lake Bigler. The town was packed with gamblers from all over North America. Sitting outside a hotel was their friend Icie. She smiled at seeing her friends and said, “Boy do I have a story to tell you.”

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