Opportunity Knocks

The Creature of Lake Bigler

Our adventure opened with Icie telling the posse the tale of how she ended up at Lake Bigler ahead of them. She had been shanghai’d by one of Judge Iroh’s boys right before Lin Zexu ambushed the posse. She awoke atop the clock tower at St. Mary’s Cathedral in time to see a giant bat beat up her friends. She blacked out again and next found herself above a large body of water being carried by the bat. She drew her gun and fired, falling into the lake. She then had a vision of her former lover, Johnny. Johnny spoke of something the Chinese gangs wanted, something she didn’t have. Then he handed her his pocket watch. Icie awoke again, being pulled into a rowboat. In her hand was Johnny’s pocket watch.

Icie finally awoke again inside a doctors office. She was told that a local boy, Clay Nagle, had rescued her from the waters of Lake Bigler. The locals assumed she had tried to swim home from the floating casino. She left the doctor’s office and walked straight into her friends.

As she was wrapping up her story, an explosion of flash powder introduced Lacy O’Malley, reporter for The Epitaph. He took some time to explain the current happenings in the town of Lake Bigler, formerly known as Green Rock. He told them that the local hotel, the Crystal River, was full-up, but that some locals have been renting out rooms and posting notices up at the Marshal’s Office.

Zane Sharkey came down with an awful case of dysentery and went off to suffer in an alleyway somewhere.

The posse made their way to the Marshal’s office. Some of the posse saw disturbing reflections in the windows, what looked like red welts along their necks. More disturbing were the wanted posters. Not only was their one for Zane Sharkey, but the “or Alive” part of “Wanted Dead or Alive” had been scratched out. Both Cho and Icie thought they saw wanted posters for themselves, for the murder of Frank Granger and Johnny respectively. But upon closer inspection, it was for someone else.

A Christian woman, Mrs. Conway, posted a room for rent and the posse took her up on the offer. She was initially concerned about the motley crew, but Percival managed to convince her that they were God-fearing people. The posse escorted her back to her house so they could stow their horses. They met her son, Jamie, and were told the rules of the house. The posse was welcome to stay in the barn. Some things were broken, and Jamie assured them that his Pa would fix them when he got back. Any discussion of Mr. Conway made Mrs. Conway uncomfortable.

The posse went back into town and were assaulted by frightening reflections everywhere. They bought new supplies and began their investigations into the poker tournament. Firstly they found that they needed about $1,000 to enter. Secondly the casino was a steam paddleboat located in the middle of the lake, a good mile or more off shore. Thirdly, the casino was owned by a mysterious woman named Madame Legato.

The town itself was full of gamblers from all of the USA and CSA. Most of them were punchy, complaining about the entrance fee, the lack of rooms, the worn out doves, or just each other. More than a few duels occurred. The local law, Marshal Bryce, didn’t seem overly concerned.

The posse checked out the casino, the Grand Majestic. They found that hiring a rowboat required getting a hand stamp. The stamp was the familiar Aztec symbol for gold that they had seen used by the cult in Weaverville and the Scalper. Wisely the Posse decided to deface the symbol when put on their own hands. While rowing out to the casino, some of the Posse thought they saw something moving in the water.

The casino was indeed Majestic. Free food and drink for all patrons. Unlike in town, reflections on the Grand Majestic made the posse feel confident and happy with themselves. The primary game being played was Faro. Percival tried out his new eye in an attempt to raise some of the $1,000 needed to enter the contest.

That night, the posse heard Jamie Conway speaking to someone in the workshop adjoining the barn. The posse tried to investigate but could find no one. In the morning a group of bounty hunters showed up looking for property stolen from the Wasatch Railroad. They had a warrant and demanded the return of the property. The standoff went awry and guns were fired. Mrs. Conway screamed, and a mechanical beast burst out of the workshop. The three legged machine attacked the bounty hunters. Smokin’ Cho grabbed Mrs. Conway and pulled her into the house. The machine thought Cho was going to harm her, so he gave chase. Percival Ford rightly deduced that this machine was actually Mr. Conway and began soothing the man in the machine.

Drawn by the firefight, Marshal Bryce showed up. He took a look at the warrant and when he couldn’t find any missing machinery, told the Posse to bury the bodies and go into town to make a statement at the Marshals Office.

Viktor tried to see what he could do to repair Mr. Conway, but it became clear that Mr. Conway wanted to end his misery. Viktor shut down the machine and told Mrs. Conway that there was nothing he could do.

The Posse then headed out to investigate the local mine which they had heard about in their investigations. The town itself had very few miners. The mine had encountered problems a few months back when gas filled the mine. Everyone talked about how the gas stank, which confused Viktor. Normally underground gasses didn’t stink, which is why miners carried canaries. Not having a canary, Viktor came up with the idea to use one of the Conway chickens. He also whipped up a phosphorous device which would give light but not ignite gas.

Following their noses the Posse found the mine. Cho and Icie led the way trying to sneak in. The stink was pretty bad, but the chicken didn’t seem affected. Unfortunately Cho took a bad step and dropped the chicken. The chicken, with a glowing rod attached, ran off down the mine shaft. Out of the darkness appeared a man wearing a diving helmet. He looked for a second, and then disappeared into the darkness. The posse ran out of the mine. Cho stayed behind while the rest returned to the Conway farm to get another chicken. Meanwhile Cho nearly got attacked by shambling men in torn rags. He found a hiding spot on a nearby ridge and waited.

Cho saw two men leave the mine, Marshal Bryce and his Deputy. They walked their horses out of the mine and hung up their diving bell helmets. They road off and Cho followed. Coming up the road were the rest of the Posse with a new chicken in a sack. Some awkward conversations followed, and the Posse made some amazingly convincing arguments to justify why they were on that road with a chicken. Marshal Bryce was somehow satisfied with their answers and took them back to his office to give their statements.

Percival got the feeling that the Marshall might have the cash to bankroll their entrance fee. Working out a deal to split the winnings, and giving up the Shan Fan property as collateral, the posse had enough money to enter the Poker tournament.

Percival advanced easily through the first rounds of the tournament and advanced to the final table. The posse saw, and managed to avoid, Lin Chi Ling wandering through the casino with Madame Legato. The boat was rocked by a rogue wave, and the posse took that as an opportunity to bust open a locked door leading to Madame Legato’s office. The boat continued to rock while Percival remained at the poker table playing.

Cho, Icie and Viktor interrupted a ritual being performed by Madame Legato and Lin Chi Ling. Lin Chi Ling transformed into a Bat, and Madame Legato transformed into a snake woman. Four giant tentacles emerged from the lake and began attacking the boat. Walls smashed open, and people screamed. Meanwhile, Percival Ford remained at the poker table intent on completing the tournament.

Both of the witches fell quickly to the onslaught of firepower. Cho, Icie and Viktor began attacking the tentacles, when a monstrous eye emerged behind the boat. Viktor engaged the engine on the boat and tried to get away, but the monster lashed on. Cho took aim at the eye and got off an amazing shot which sent the creature down to the murky depths of Lake Bigler. But the damage had been done, and the Grand Majestic was beginning to sink.

Meanwhile, back at the poker table, Percival Ford lost the tournament on the final hand.

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