Deadlands1 / Session8

Wednesday, March 21st, 1877

At fort, met Lt Col Eugene Asa Carr.

Paul, a Papago Indian, asks after the priest from Vulture City - to bring him to Father Jerome at the mission.

John Love left behind at the fort, what's the worst that could happen. We all head to the mission, through the dusty streets of Tucson.

Father Miguel Ruiz meets us. Father Jerome is missing, disappeared the previous night around midnight. Bell tower is supposed to be haunted. Jerome seen going to bed the previous night, nothing else seems to be missing - but there were signs of a struggle.

Other weirdness - terrible nightmares of women and children being massacred and thrown into mass graves; owls (Indian souls) flying around; mission appears red at times.

We check out Father Jerome's room - he was probably asleep when he was abducted, a couple feathers on the ground. We take a walk around the grounds with Father Miguel - any enemies, financial issues. Conflict with the local Indians? A bit of conflict, but they're working with the community, thinking of it as pacified.

In the church - cool & dark, vividly painted, lots of statues, two lions holding candles in front of altar, statues of Mary and St Francis, glass coffin with wooden statue of St Francis inside.

Mac asks if any Indians died during construction of the Mission - there have been some unfortunate falls from the haunted bell tower.

We head up to the unfinished bell tower - overlooking the whole area, 150 feet up. It seems kinda creepy, but no specific feeling about the place. To the SW is a large black mountain sacred to the Papago. More mountains to the SE.

The nearby Papago who worship at the mission are asked to come and talk to Mac who is going to look for him. An old woman comes forward, she says that it was ghosts - angry at the abandonment of the old ways, the whole mission is now cursed. Judith asks where the ghosts usually take people, but they aren't sure.

Mac eyes the crowd - a couple young guys look sort of sketchy. Mac gathers them together and tries to intimidate them into talking. "Don't believe anything about the old ways. She's just pissed because she doesn't like us leaving the village." But she's not angry enough to hurt anybody. So what do they think happened? They don't know.

A brief service is held that evening to pray for Father Jerome.

Rooms are arranged - Onatah is outside, Mac is in the other bell tower, Anna is up in the bell tower for the night (with her sheep hauled up via a pulley), Father Michael and Dr Wolf are in a room underneath.

Around midnight as Father Michael is heading up to sleep, one of the local woman screams. When asked later she says she say a giant ghost owl in the doorway to convent - a hallway with small cells along one side. Two nuns are looking out of their cells, one other door is open but no nun inside. In the cell, there are again signs of a struggle. Mac checks out the entrance to the convent, he finds white painted feathers tip with glue - and footprints. But neither Mac nor Onatah are able to follow the tracks.

We walk through the village looking to see if someone's awake or if there's white paint on the doorways or on the ground. We find no evidence, but Onatah does find the ghost owl footprints which head to the doorway to the unfinished tower, but head down into a small unfinished basement.

We find a hidden doorway down there and split up. Miss Judith goes to get Father Miguel while the rest of us head down the passage. There was a tunnel, formerly sealed with mud bricks and stone, there are signs that the owlsuit went through here. We crawl through, following Dr Wolf into a set of rough tunnels branching off in all direction. We lose the trail in the winding tunnels. There are signs that people were down here a long time ago, but there are no markings, no signs of ceremony.

We decide to wait til morning, we can the terrified bleatings of Judith's sheep which is hoisted back down to ground level.

In the morning the bell is rung and the villagers come. We tell them about the fake ghost owl but they seem a little skeptical. Some are thinking they might revert to the old ways. Father Michael offers a paraphrase of of Joshua 24:14-15 and they are somewhat swayed. They tell us that the sacred mountain has caves that may be associated with the tunnels.

We head out to the mountain and after searching we find a cave that shows signs of recent use. At the back of the cave we find an entrance to similar tunnels, with a feather on the ground. There's a broken chair with ropes hanging on it. We head into the tunnels - it's cool and slightly damp, lots of small side passages, a fissure crossed by a couple of boards, a spot with a small campfire; then the caves split again.

With Judith's knowledge of how limestone discolors and Dr Wolf's knowledge of mineralogy we figure out which way we went. We find a small opening to the surface with handholds, but when it's checked out it doesn't look like anyone used it recently. We continue on to more splits, but Onatah is able to see that most of the tracks go one way, but the most recent tracks go off in a side passage.

We head down that side passage, it turns and we see a flickering light in the distance. We're creeping forward and spot a group of 7 Indians (with an owl suit in the corner), they're arguing about where they'll keep the priest and the nun as they white men have come to the mission. And they notice everyone but Judith, who ducks in a shadow and takes aim.

The large Indian with facial scar says, "Who's there?" Mac's deep voice rings out, "The law's here. Put down your weapons if you want to see the sun again." The leader realizes he's beaten (nice Overawe!) and hangs his head.

Father Jerome and the nun are very grateful to be saved. The broken Indian group lead us to the surface via the bell tower. Father Jerome and Father Miguel are reunited. Father Jerome felt a greater evil in the tunnels and believes there's something down there.

We convince the smallest Indian to lead us back through the tunnels, if nothing else we need to get our horses. As we gather our stuff, a scream from outside. We dash outside and the moon is red, bats are filling the air, screams from the tunnels. As we grab our stuff, we hear unearthly chanting from under the earth. We ask the braves and they haven't ever heard this before - they thought "all was not peaceful" and a few thought they saw ghosts.

We descend with one of the braves, and see a flickering light. We sneak forward and come into an exact copy of the church, except in a flickering red light and the statues are twisted mockeries; the candle holding lions hold gouts of flame. Father Michael can feel the place is tainted. The screaming stopped and the chanting stopped. The statues begin flinging plaster at us and the lions blow on their candles and flames shoot out at us.

As we start to back out, we hear steps behind us. We turn and see a giant wooden Saint Francis statue with a black cross dripping blood, breathing fire.

Dr Wolf trembles and vomits at the offensive sight. He tries to get a hold of himself.

Father Michael steps forward and presents his cross, reciting Psalm 17, "The Lord is my firmament, my refuge, and my deliverer. My God is my helper, and in him will I put my trust." (Attempting the Protection miracle)

Judith figures her rifle won't help so she attempts to knock St Francis to the ground, but fails to. Onatah calls her spirits and makes St Francis slightly more clumsy and lowers his combat ability. Mac says, "I'm gonna blow you back to hell, you evil wooden saint," and opens fire with both barrels.

29 damage with one barrel! Splinters fly, causing a light wound to St Francis in his chest. The second barrel catches St Francis in the leg driving out more splinters.

St Francis roars and swings his giant bloody cross at Mac who ducks under it and laughs at it.

Father Michael flings a vial of holy water into St Francis' face, the wood blistering under the water. Mac fires both barrels into St Francis, blasting more wood (final total of a Heavy Wound) from his chest. Judith fires her rifle from the ground, wood splinters off but does no significant damage.

St Francis breathes fire at Father Michael but it parts around the crucifix and shields Father Michael. He swings his great cross at Father Michael who is saved by divine intervention (Fate).

Judith nimbly rolls behind St Francis and runs off to get help.

St Francis swings at Father Michael again and again it's by the intervention of God that he is not horribly wounded.

Dr Wolf finally collects himself and lunges in with his sword, which is deflected by St Francis's great cross. Father Michael flings a vial of holy water but it flies past St Francis. Mac has only managed to jam in one shell when he fires and knocks only a little wood off, no damage.

We hear Judith's cries of "Evil is afoot!" echoing back through the cavern.

Onatah calls on her spirits again to make St Francis clumsy. Father Michael reaffirms his faith in the Lord to keep him safe. Onatah calls on her spirits again but they are angered by her constant calls and ignore her.

Mac fires again but does little damage to St Francis. Dr Wolf backs into the church and fires his rifle, inflicting one more wound to his guts.

Father Michael backs into the church, flinging another vial but it doesn't do much more than mar the finish. Dr Wolf fires and the shot blows more wood from that arm.

St Francis attacks Dr Wolf, but is parried by the rifle.

Father Michael runs forward, pressing his cross at Saint Francis. He's isn't hurt but Saint Francis breathes fire at Father Michael. The fire parts around him as the Lord's protection holds.

Onatah tries to sneak past St Francis but is stopped. He swings his great cross at her but Fate pushes her aside and it crashes to the floor. Dr Wolf shoots him again, driving more wood from his chest. Mac fires again, hitting him in the right leg, but the pellets don't dig deep.

Father Michael gives into what he knows, and draws his pistol, firing into St Francis's gizzards and head, lightly wounding the latter. Father Michael empties the rest of the cylinder into Saint Francis to no effect.

Suddenly Judith comes dashing in and throws an altar cloth from behind her back over his head, blinding him and beginning to inflict damage. Dr Wolf fires into St Francis's legs and then dashes past him. Onatah runs past Saint Francis.

Mac jams two more shells into the shotgun and moves to the tunnel mouth, firing twice without effect. Father Michael moves to interpose himself between Saint Francis and Miss Judith, reaffirming his faith that God will protect both him and his flock.

Saint Francis struggles with the altar cloth but can't remove it, and the altar cloth catches fire. Dr Wolf loads a new cylinder into his rifle and fires, doing no damage. He fires again, placing the bullet into Saint Francis's heart.

As it falls, the room fades into a cave full of ghosts - Jesuits, Indians, and Spaniards.

A long time is spent putting things in order. Judith helps arrange the bones and lay them out for proper burial. Father Michael and the other priests spend a long time giving last rites and burial services over the bodies.

Friday morning, March 23rd

Plan on picking up a few days of rest, then leave on Wednesday after a cavalry troop has headed north for the night.

Buy silver bullets in the mean time.

Page last modified on October 21, 2012, at 11:32 AM