November 17th, 1878
We sure did find out that the Curse of the Pissed Swedish Mother was, in fact, real. The big mountain of a beast came after the kid, and while it was tough as hell, we managed to drive it away. But we certainly didn’t think it was gone for good…
By morning light, the party finds Dixon and Burns have taken their horses and left North. Ahiga spots the tracks, but William and Holden want to be sure. They party moves indoors and begins to question Joe and Smith about the location of the mine. Finally, the discussion becomes heated and the men draw on the party.
Holden kills Smith with a glowing playing card and Joe surrenders, giving the party the exact location of the camp in exchange for his life.
It takes the greater part of the day to trudge through the snow and scout out the camp. It appears that several cracks opened up at the bottom of the Saline river, revealing an extremely rare lode of ghost rock. The thirty-or-so soldiers drove their seventy-or-so prisoners to dam and diver the river and mine the lode.
The party begins to plan an incursion into the camp to rescue the woman who laid the curse.
The next morning, we woke up to find that two of the former greycoats had disappeared, most likely to report back to their leader.
I took some of the meat from my horse; no point letting it go to waste. I gave some to Rat Girl and the Rat, and then she came up to me and gave me a rat made of straw. I was not sure what it would do, but it had power, of that, there was no doubt. I could feel my fingers tingle as I held it. It was humming with power.
I was not sure why the two chose to give it to me, but I wrapped it in a piece of cloth to protect it, and put it in a pouch in my belt so I would have it close.
Some of the men decided to ignore the tracks, and rather go up to the house to ask the two remaining greycoats where the others had gone. As Rat Girl followed them, I decided to do the same.
The ones who went up were the Exploding Man, the black man, and the grumpy one. The grumpy one, I have not yet told you about, but he was one of those who only consider his own people real people; I am sure you have met some like that, or you will soon enough. In fact, he did not even speak to me, but asked others, so they would tell me.
Rat Girl followed them inside the house, so the Chinaman and I went inside as well. The other men spoke to the two remaining greycoats for a few moments, then the grumpy one pulled out his gun, and that, of course, started a fight.
The Exploding Man flicked a card at one of the men, killing him. If the Chinaman had not been in the middle of the fight, I might not even have bothered to get involved. The two greycoats were outnumbered, and I still think we had the answers we needed; we could have followed the other two men’s tracks to find the camp, rather than starting a fight.
With one of the greycoats dead, the other men got their answers. Not that I stayed to listen; these men had a very casual attitude to dead people. Maybe that is why they are the way they are; they have dead spirits haunting them, without really understanding it. They do not seem to get sick, though. Maybe they have something else that protects them.
We had the information, so we left and travelled north. After a day of travel, we arrived at the slave camp. Oh, yes, the whites have slaves. Here, they had diverted the river from its natural bed, drained the land of water, and exposed Ghost Rock. The slaves were, of course, used to mine the Ghost Rock.
The way these men treated their slaves showed that they would not live long. It matches other stories I have heard as well. The whites treat their prisoners worse than they treat their animals; at least the animals are usually fed and and watered and cared for.
Had it not been for the words of the old man, I might have returned to my own hunt. But the Chinaman is here, as is Rat Girl. It has been months. He said I would find what I seek, but I wonder, will I find my shich’ooní, or will I find revenge?
From the journal of Holden Cain
(The following is written in the same hand as the earlier entries, but appears somewhat stiff and awkward)
November 17th, 1878
For a while, after I woke up in that crater, I’d wondered if I’d died and gone to Hell. Now I know that’s not likely. Hell’s supposed to be all fire and brimstone, so hot the very air sears your lungs. Kansas, on the other hand, is all snow and cold; at least in November. All things considered, I think I’d rather be in Hell right now.
When morning came we found that two of the ex-Confeds had left, probably to report to their Captain as to the events of last night. Just to be sure, it was decided to question the other two, Joe and Smith. Unfortunately, that didn’t go so well. Patton wound up taking a shot at Smith, who’d drawn his gun, but only winged him. White missed him completely. I didn’t much care to wind up getting shot so I took him out with a Soul Blast. By now, someone’s had to have noticed me doing that, but no one’s said anything. I guess when you travel with a little girl who can turn into a bird (and now a rat, too) and a guy who uses science to walk up walls then seeing someone killed with a playing card is pretty ordinary.
Anyway, Joe decided he preferred living to dying, so he surrendered and confirmed our suspicions, along with telling us where their camp (and the mine) is, so off we went into the cold, snowy, cold, boring, cold Kansas countryside. Did I mention how damned cold it was? We traveled for hours and finally came to the camp and the mine. And you know what they were mining? Ghost rock. Just damned ghost rock. Why couldn’t it have been gold? I can’t spend ghost rock, and while plenty of people will buy that shit I’d rather not be the one carrying it around. Dammit! Well, at least if we rescue the old lady we can (hopefully) convince her to lift her curse over at the Drover’s Cottage and maybe that’ll keep Brown and the girl safe from the Grinder. Hell, I shouldn’t even be involved in this shit but I feel I owe Brown at least this far, and even if that girl is strange it doesn’t sit right with me to let some big ugly walking chunk of rock crush her to a pulp. Still, I’d hoped to at least get a little gold out of this!
Well, for now our next step is to figure out how to take out the soldiers without getting ourselves killed. Hopefully I’ll still be alive to update this later.