In the aftermath of the Battle of New Opportunity, our Posse split up. Cho and Zane ran to the schoolhouse to see what the Unions Flying 51st had taken. Viktor and Percival rushed to help the wounded.
The schoolhouse was a mess. Papers and books were strewn all over. In a mirror behind the schoolmasters desk, Zane and Cho saw the image of Icie pounding on the mirror. Cho reached in and pulled her out. Icie, who had been in the mirror when the 51st attacked, had seen the schoolmaster, Barnabus Quint, try to fend the Union soldiers off before they shot him. Our heroes found him, but he was too far gone. Quint was coughing up blood, muttering about how they stole his discovery. Cho asked if it was the location of El Dorado, and what little life in Quints form was shocked. Quint demanded a map, and his dying act was to smear a bloody finger on a location in Southern California called the Devils Postpiles.
Viktor and Percival attended to the wounded in the City Hall. It was a horrible scene as the citizens of New Opportunity that they had come to love and protect were triaged. Some of them would not survive, others would surely lose limbs. Doc Podicker was doing his best to deal with the lack of opium when treating amputees.
It was in that chaos that Viktor saw the pale woman from his past again, the same ghostly woman who he had seen on the bridge of the Grand Majestic. She was also helping the wounded, bringing peace to some of those who were surely not going to survive. Others were not comforted, and began asking for Father Santos – who was nowhere to be seen, having been sent to the town of Harmony before the battle began.
The pale woman asked to speak with the posse in private, so they retired to the Sheriff’s office. The pale woman again called Viktor by the name “Ga’ul”, but when Viktor corrected her she changed into a younger woman who said the name Viktor was appropriate for what he had to do now. Then the woman changed again into a middle-aged woman. She explained that Viktor bore the mark of Cain. That he was himself Cain. That he had created the Fourth Nail almost two thousand years ago to kill Christ and have revenge upon God. But that he traded it away to protect the Gypsies. The nail was reforged into a sword: The Sword of Laban. It is a weapon, forged from the blood of Cain and capable of killing a God. Custer is now a God, fueled by the greedy sins of a thousand mortals, and the Sword of Laban is the only thing which can kill him. The three women, also known as the Three Nephites, urged Viktor to find the sword and kill Custer, and thus finding peace and God’s forgiveness.
The Posse rode out as soon as they could cross the surging waters of the Eel River. Along the way they encountered wounded Union soldiers who Cho was able to intimidate into telling them where Custer was going. All they knew was that Custer was headed South to Fort Lincoln.
When they reached the next town of Harmony, they saw a torn banner across the cities red gate which read, “Welcome Union Heroes”. With a bit of investigation they found that Father Santos had been arrested and met him in the jail. Santos told the Posse that he was arrested for treason. The city and church leaders want the Union to take over Northern California, so they did nothing to help New Opportunity when attacked. The Union army, however, did not stay long when they passed through town. They only stopped to send a telegraph and didn’t even greet the city leaders.
With a bit of persuasion Viktor was able to convince Father Santos that they needed the Cross of Ezrah, which was secretly the Sword of Laban, in order to defeat Custer. Santos revealed that the Cross of Ezrah was in the bank vault. But that it was a fake. The real Cross of Ezrah was concealed in a second vault under the main vault. It was secured with four keys, one held by each of the Church leaders, and the fourth by the Bank Manager.
Santos’ key was held right there in the jail, along with his other personal belongings. Father Chu’an kept his key on a pocket watch chain, which he did not wear during religious services. Chu’an was a prideful man who wanted to adopt Western Culture. Father Whitetail also kept his key with him at all times. Whitetail was a puritanical type, often speaking of sin, fire and brimstone. Rumor had it that he was actually a frequent visitor to the local brothel. Santos did not know where the Bank Manager kept his key, but that he was a gluttonous man who enjoyed only the finest food and wine.
Cho, Percival and Zane were able to distract the bored deputy long enough to steal Santos key from the evidence locker, while Icie and Viktor went to the telegraph office to find out what message was sent by the Union army. A loosely coded message was sent to Fort Lincoln asking for transportation, apparently a train, to be waiting for them when they arrived.
Viktor began constructing a device to duplicate keys while the rest of the Posse went about investigating the three other keys. Icie found that the local brothel was closed for a special VIP guest with unique tastes. She persuaded her way in and found that Father Whitetail was the VIP, and that he enjoyed the feeling of danger. Cho staked out the church and found the room where Father Chu’an likely changed into his robes. Percival found that the Bank Manager had a personal chef and only dined at home.
Sunday services were the next day. The Posse came up with a plan where three members would attend services, while another was a lookout. Viktor would use his weird science devices to teleport into the changing room once he was given the signal that Father Chu’an was out. What he didn’t know was that there was a woman in the room he was teleporting into. Her scream drew some attention from the congregation, but not nearly as much as the distraction Cho made when he accused Father Chu’an of abandoning his Chinese heritage. Cho was removed from the Church, and Viktor knocked the girl unconscious. He was able to locate the key and make a copy using his device. But the device broke as it finished, and he’d need a day to repair it.
The following night, Icie and her “manager” Cho went to the local brothel for their appointment with Father Whitetail. Icie impressed Father Whitetail with her knife throwing skills and enticed him to be blindfolded as the knives were thrown at him. Icie was able to locate his key, but was unable to get the window open in order to toss the key to Viktor who was waiting outside. Cho burst in with his normal accusations, and snuck the key outside. It was never revealed what happened to Father Whitetail, or if he was happy with his treatment or not.
Viktor and Percival made an appointment with the Bank Manager to open a new account. They were impressed that the bank had electric lights and that the teller could signal the managers office with an electric bell. Percival was able to impress the Manager with his knowledge of fine cognac enough to gain an invitation to the Managers dinner table that evening for Christmas Eve. Before they left they were able to ascertain that the Bank Manager kept his key on his keychain.
Earlier in the day, Percival had used his knowledge of local mycology to find a poisonous mushroom which would cause intestinal distress. Zane and Icie spread rumors of how tasty these local mushrooms were at the market where the Managers chef shopped. And Percival had made sure to buy out all other mushrooms so that the chef had no choice but to use them. The meal was a success, and the Manager excused himself for a while. Viktor and Percival were able to overcome obstacles, including seeing that the maid of the house was the same woman who Viktor had knocked out in the Church earlier in the week.
Now that the Posse had four keys they began their heist on Christmas night. Viktor and Icie teleported into the bank vault and began moving the gold bars which hid the secret stairwell going down. Noticing the electric lights and fearing some kind of alarm, Viktor shorted out all of the electricity in the building. They went down the stairs, unlocked the vault door and were jumped by two, apparently completely inept, guards. Icie and Viktor knocked out the guards and stole the Sword of Laban, replacing it with the replica copy from New Opportunity.
Not wanting to draw too much suspicion, the Posse waited until morning to leave town and follow the Union Army to Fort Lincoln.