November 19th, 1878
For those keeping score: the Marshall was on the take of the guy who ran all the crime, the brothel was a den of soul-sucking demons, and the missing preacher had an injun zombie chained up the basement chanting the name of a Very Bad Man. Heh. But wait…there’s more…
The party debates the zombie briefly, including taking note that it seems to shuffle vaguely East by Northeast, which incidentally is the direction of Detroit, KS. The blood on the floor appears to be several days old, the zombie at least a week or longer dead. Finally, Onesimus shoots the thing in the head, (re)killing it.
By that point, Seri had grown restless and left the church. Ahiga and Ed following behind. Seri scouts out The Duchess, going so far as to turn herself into a housefly and scout the interior. She returns to where Ahiga is hiding at about the same point that the rest of the party catches up. They debate for a few minutes longer before Seri heads into The Duchess, plops down a load cash at the bar to convince the bartender to serve whiskey to a young girl, and starts drinking. The rest of the party piles in after her.
They’re met by Rita, one of the doves of the house, who everyone in the party finds strikingly, even unnaturally beautiful. They are served drinks and are made as comfortable as any of them are willing to get. It isn’t long, however, before Holden and Jacob are, quite uncharacteristically, giving up on their theories about The Duchess and wanting to leave, and Ed, even more uncharacteristically, has Rita in his lap.
Onesimus, recognizing that all is not right, attempts to get the party to leave, and Olivia says a prayer to dispel magics on Rita. Rita shies away from Olivia’s cross, and the three men snap to from the thrall they were under. With Rita demanding they leave, Onesimus ushers the party out the door. As Seri leaves, she lights a large bundle of dynamite and chucks it into the bar.
The Duchess bar explodes, setting fire to the remainder of the building, killing the bartender and two local patrons instantly. Onesimus races in the building to look for survivors. He finds one on the ground floor and gets him out of the building. He sees Rita unharmed, standing in the flames, looking at him accusingly. He then races up to the second floor where he finds another survivor and tosses him off the veranda to relative safety. He discovers a final body in one of the bedrooms, mummified as Farley and the man Ed found in the alley, and escapes out the window before succumbing to the smoke.
The few townsfolk brave enough to come out in the night make a half-hearted effort to fight the fire, but disperse when it proves to be ineffective. The Duchess burns to the ground, thankfully not catching any neighboring building on fire. The two survivors that Onesimus rescued give him their thanks and go their separate ways.
The party makes it back to the church. As Onesimus closes the doors behind him, he sees the figures of three women in the dark at the edge of the church property.