November 16th, 1878
When we rode into the stockyards after a day of freezing our asses off in that damned wind, we knew something was wrong, we just couldn’t quite put our finger on what…
The party notices that all of the buildings – the Drover’s Cottage (and its six outhouses, one of which is out of order) and a series of small one-room houses – all have tents pitched nearby, except for one that appears to have been ransacked. A closer look reveals that something large pushed through the front door of the building, the interior of which is veritably coated in blood and gore.
The injun ranch-hand, Chigger, encourages the party to check in with Al inside.
The party meets Al, the proprietor of the Drover’s Cottage, along with Madam Wednesday who runs the girls. When asked about the tents and the ransacked house, Al tells them of a band of ex-Confederate soldiers who have been making passes through the Stockyards for a few months. They always come through with a small band of mostly men who speak predominantly Swedish, so he’s assuming they’re from Lindsborg. Four members of the band are staying at the Cottage, presumably under orders from their Captain Dane to keep an eye out for people asking questions (like the party).
The last time through, one of the young captive men rebelled and was killed. The man’s mother, who had apparently been caught up in the sweep, laid a curse over the place, that any who slept under a roof would be ground to dust. Thus, after a man named Johnson was killed the next night in his cabin, all of the locals have been sleeping in tents.
Dane’s four men eventually come downstairs for dinner and exchange somewhat-pleasantries with Patton. At least one of them is genuinely a former Confederate solider and had served at Gettysburg. Holden engages them for part of the evening over the poker table and learns a few things: that the soldiers are flush with money but are very tight-lipped about its source, that they call their captors “conscripts”, and the place they are being taken to is the “claim”.
That night, the party borrows tents from Al and beds down near the Cottage. Seri chooses to sneak away and sleep in the loft of the barn, even after being warned by Chigger that the barn has a roof, too.
The party is roused in the dead of night by the sound of the bard doors being ripped from their hinges.