The posse continues an investigation into the freak show. They discuss with Billy Button - the resident midget, only too happy to talk if free drinks are involved - the current state of the show, and who might take over now that Chestnutt is dead.
Billy informs them that Olga the bearded lady was always saying how she would make a better 'step right up'-spieler, even pointing out her far more impressive and authoritative beard. Taking this under advisement, Olga is their next interrogation, although upon finding her drunk they learn that she in fact pined for Chestnutt while he was alive, and is missing him terribly now that he's gone.
With the smell of formaldehyde near the scene of the murder, they investigate the great jars containing the severed hand and head in the exhibit, but find no evidence of tampering - although the lids are freely loose.
With Gertrude the albino planning to go solo, and Albion the dog-faced boy insisting that he's the true heir to the Black River Railroad fortune, the future of the show seems in doubt. Each of the performers individually asks the posse to buy the head and hand from them, and asking each about how many hands it has gone through before them gives them the idea that perhaps misfortune falls on whomever holds the exhibit.
Asking Olga what they plan on doing with the body, she insists that being stuffed and mounted as a new exhibit would be what Chestnutt would want. They agree to arrange this for her, and persuade her that one final show would also be appropriate. Olga will take on the central role, and Bear agrees to take part as a strong man.
Why? The posse hopes to lure out the killer. As they progress through the show that night, Nathaniel bursts from the crowd, wearing clothes and moutache borrowed from Chestnutt, announcing that he is alive after all, and that the killer failed!
This prompts the killer to snarl that it can fix that, and the hand and head push through from behind the curtain, bound together as one being by a humanoid silhouette. The abomination fires on 'Chestnutt', and the assembled crowd scatters. The posse return fire, including McLean firing his flash gun into the fray.
Bullets pass through the shadow mass, but the head and hand bleed scream like anything else, and after they've fallen - the shadow dissippated - Law takes them away to be burned.
Nathaniel - still in Chestnutt guise - turns to the shocked freaks, who are still blinking in the light. He tells them that he is indeed dead, but came back to strike down his killer. He implores them to keep the show going, in his memory. And, as one last parting word, he always loved Olga.
The reporter dashes off quickly, returning sans disguise to join the incredulity of everyone gathered as the freaks announce that a miracle has occurred!
The following day, the freaks set off with new purpose, touring with the stuffed body of the holy Chestnutt, to bring hope to the Weird West! The posse wishes them well, and in time sets off one the next stage of their journey to Deadwood, leaving Wichita for Kansas City.
No sooner have they arrived, than Nathaniel is handed a telegram, asking him to return to Dodge City to help Henry Stiles - former Stagecoach Robber - with a problem.
The posse heads there directly, and Stiles is happy to see them. He's been accepted by the townsfolk now, helping solve many crimes around Dodge. But this latest one has some creepy overtones: a large number of cattle being drained of blood over the last few weeks. He suggests they go and check out the scene of the latest slaughter to see if they can get any clues, to meet him at his ranch house that evening.
It's been a few days since the killing, but scraps of cow-hide and dashes of blood hang from a tree. Questioned cowboys shrug and say it must be chupacabras or other critters, as not too many animals have been taken, and only ever drained of blood. Charles' invesiagtion of the scene turns up signs of many people gathered around the scene, and taking to a cart. With the events happening regularly, clearly some people are up to no good.
The posse head to Stiles' ranch to meet with him, seeing a red neckerchief'd figure rocking on a chair on the porch. Inspection through a scope shows the kerchief to be stained by blood, and as they rush over they raise the hat from the figure's face to find Stiles, throat slashed bloodily open.
With three dead deputies and a gooifyed marshal, the posse decides to play it cool. While Law and Bear clean the blood off themselves, the others stall the townsfolk that have come to investigate. Townsfolk dressed in black, having been following the procession for the funeral of the first of the dead deputies.
The mayor himself arrives accompanied by a pair of Black River Railroad employees, there to ensure his safety in the wake of the recent gunfire. The posse begins their daring plan to save themselves: lying their asses off. Putting the blame for the triple murder on the marshal, they confide in Mayor Teller that the lawman had been replaced by a plantpodperson! The worried town official buys it, and wonders what to do!
Given the wite goop that the notmarshal exploded into, the posse determines that they bleed that, not blood, and so a method of determining who is human and who isn't is pricking them with a needle. Law takes far too much enthusiasm in doing this, finding that everyone present is fine.
With the list of names showing the members of the town council crossed off, the posse convinces the mayor that he should call an emergency meeting - citing the recent murders as sufficient cause - there to accost the definite plantpodpeople. Once they'd been dealt with, it would be a simple matter to subject the rest of the town to tests to root out any stragllers! Black River Railroad agrees that this is a good plan, although McLean seems to favour babbling paranoia to the people of the town and letting nature take its course...
Waiting in the town hall meeting room, the posse find only three council members show up. They kill two of them - a relief that they turn out to be monsters - and take the third captive thatks to Steele's S&R electric knife, although it refuses to talk. They have no threat that could persuade it to talk, and they're forced to kill it too.
The council woman that didn't show was the one that Nathaniel interviewed, and so the posse scoots over to her house, only to find it abandoned. They Follow a trail to the marshal's house, and discover in the cellar the woman packing a case full of alchemical apparatus, overseen by another, goggle-wearing woman, clearly in a rush to leave town. The latter surrenders quickly once she sees the trouble that has come for her, and does not resist as she's marched back to jail. The plantpodperson is quietly splattered by Bear once they've left.
The woman introduces herself as Miss Ambrose, a performer of good deeds in replacing messy humanity with calm and rational plantpodpeople. With the logo of Doktor Hellstromme on her packing case they could draw some conclusions about her funding source...
In the interim week while they sort out elections for a new lawman, Steele serves as justice, with a group of Black River Railroad staff as underlings. He doesn't trust them as far as he can throw them, yet they do provide the manpower required to prove that the population of Coffeyville is clear.
The posse wires Captain Crowne to take care of their captive. She arrives in due course, proud of being proved right on the Tonkawa case and clearing her name. Charles and Ingram arrange a surprise romantic meal for Crowne and Steele, and while they mainly talk over their own views on jutice, there is a tinge of regret as she has to leave and take Ambrose away.
The posse's own departure is preceded by their buying plenty of warm furs to see them through the horrible winter that is settling over the northern climes. First stop on the way to Deadwood is Wichita, where they take in a freak show in the town square, seeing a dog-faced boy, a bearded lady, a juggling midget, an albino woman with long fingernails and the severed hand and head of notorious outlaws.
In the morning, the posse find that the carnival barker has been slain, and are asked to investigate by the dog-faced boy. They find the man killed in his own wagon, supposedly by his own gun, and also that 'he' was actually a 'she' with a false moustache! They detect the smell of formaldehyde around the body, but nothing was stolen, and all the records and money appear to be in order.
The first of the freaks that they question is the albino 'witch', and as well as reading Steele's fortune she gives her theory: the bounty hunter responsible for severing the head and hand has come back for his trophies!
The cannibals descend en masse upon the posse, but our heroes split up, some providing covering fire while others run forward to rescue the menu, Colt sees to the unconscious McLean and Captain Crowne carries off her prisoner, Walks In Two Worlds.
They manage to escape with all their rescues thrown on back of their horses before the full mass of the cannibal war party mobilises, and make a three day hard ride back to safety with the monsters chasing them the whole way.
On the way, they learn that the prisoners had been taken from the town of Coffeyville, and the posse swears to take them back there once they've taken care of business. That business involves returning to Fort Washita, there to recruit a mixed force of Confederate soldiers and Comanche warriors, alongside whom they return to Quivera, to put the whole cannibal business to rest.
The united force kills all the cannibals they find, the posse right amongst them in the fight, aiding the battle plans or documenting the event, as each of their talents commends. The war party is fully destroyed, but none of the posse thinks to look for the first prisoner they had taken, who they left behind in their flight and never found again, now Last Son of the Cannibal Tonkawa...
Crowne sticks with the Washita to take her prisoner on to face justice in Texas, though she'll be happy to help our posse in the future. So they head on - McLean suitably recovered under Colt's tender care - to Coffeyville, from there to begin their journey north to Deadwood, to warn the Sioux.
Coffeyville has a magnificent array of shops available, and the posse spends a considerable time browsing and buying, many items from Smith & Robards available. Law and Steele are accosted by local law however, and taken back to the town jail. The marshal is bague about the charges they face, citing laws that don't make any sense - about a fine for first-time foreign visitors, and breaking the rule about wearing red jackets in a place of business. The pair refuse to step into the cells - where the marshal assures them that everything will be sorted out calmly - and Law is grabbed by deputies while Steele shoots the pistol out of the marshal's hand.
At this, a deputy pulls a gun on Law, but the martial artist deflects the bullet back at him with steel fan, killing him. The two escape in the confusion, and decide to lie low for a little while now that they're accused of a genuine crime.
The rest of the posse do some investiagtion work, and find that a lot of weird laws have been passed recently, and anumber of members of the town council were arrested on trivial charges, all becoming very supportive afterwards. Nathaniel meets with one of them, and she complies merrily with his questions, saying that the marshal is a good man. Nathaniel feels a little sleepy after drinking her tea, but with the looming form of Bear On The Wind to help him walk out, he is fine soon after.
Charles meets with the mayor himself, finding him bumbling but approving of the marshal, while noting that the lawman did show a change in is behaviour at the time the new laws began to be introduced.
Deciding to confront the problem head on, the whole posse meets at a saloon, and the marshal and his deputies stroll in to arrest the criminals. With the jail empty, Nathaniel scoots over to have a look around, finding a scrap of paper with town council names crossed out, the mayor next on the list.
Bear and Law slaughter the marshal's deputies, but the lawman calmly continues to read the rights to the posse, sitting down. Nathaniel opens a hidden trapdoor under the jail finding a pair of giant pea pods, which he gingerly touches, only for a clammy green hand to burst forth and grab him.
Steele moves forward to cuff the marshal, but the man turns his head - one hundred and eighty degrees - and gets shot for his trouble. White goo showers everywhere.
Nathaniel dashes away from the humanoid, slamming the trapdoor closed on its arm as it chases him up, and everyone wonders what's going on. Not least of all, the fine folks at Coffeyville's Black River Railroad depot, as their enforcers recognise the mountie and martial artist on the wanted posters...
The posse and the Tonkawa scouts exchange a few pleasantries across the dim and dingy swamp, neither side wishing to let the other know yet that they were planning on murdering the other. In the posse's case, this coincides with Law sneaking close so that he can chop people up with Jordrava's tomahawk.
The Tonkawa, with their bows, are little match for the posse. Our heroes take one alive, and from him they learn that there are around a hundred tribesmen in Walks In Two Worlds' war party, and they're all crazed cannibals. Not good.
Following the severed head guide as well as retracing the patrol's steps, the posse comes across the war party's home, numerous tipis surrounding a central lodge, more patrols slinking through the trees around the area, and numerous roups gathered around campfires.
With a swift headcount through a telescope, they confirm the captive's estimation, and then gag him beofre he can draw too much attention. The posse discusses going back to get aid from the local authorities, but when a half-dozen writhing prisoners are brought out tied to stakes, Steele takes up his rifle and starts shooting.
The cannibals come running for the source of the disturbance, and the posse are soon surrounded. To one side, Steele and Crowne take cover from an overwhelming barrage of arrows. To the other, Law is pinned in place by numerous natives far more skilled with the war club than he is. Between them, the others provide covering fire and watch as yet more cannibals approach from the camp.
Bear On The Wind rushes to aid the ranger and the mountie, his bare fists crushing skulls alongside Steele's bayonet, but the wild swings of this grim servant of death smack the mountie around as well...
Nathaniel and McLean wade in with their flash guns, blinding enough cannibals to leave them easy pickings for being shot by Charles, Ingram and Colt. Then the decadent form of Walks In Two Worlds himself bursts throught the doors of the lodge, rallying his troops and fanning the hammer of his pistol into our heroes. Mclean goes down. Charles is flanked by a pair of cannibals. Law and Nathaniel are trapped in the midst of a mob of blinded warriors. Despite the risk, Steele fights alongside Bear. Colt wildly fires his gun as Walks - shrugging off bullets - jumps at Crowne, crowing about how ranger flesh is the tastiest...
A gunshot rings out, and Walks In Two Worlds topples unconscious from Charles' bullet, the battlefield pausing for a moment -
No picture for this one, since it's less of a full installment, and players of the game itself will soon find a post on Google+ with a little more detail on things that may not mesh entirely with their recollection of the night's events...
The Ravenites are defeated, but the corpse of their leader rises, possessed, and mocks our heroes; they have stopped nothing and an attack on Deadwood will soon plunge the Americas into the final war, and death beyond measure. So swears Raven.
The threat is taken on board as the posse check on Jordrava to see if he will survive. Alas, the wounds inflicted by The Beast That Devours Tribes are fatal, but he does have some final words. He tells them that there can still be hope, if they warn the Sioux of what is coming, if they talk with Sitting Bull. And if all else fails, there will still be the great Ghost Dance on Summer Solstice that can save everyone.
The Old One expires with a smile on his face, and clearing up the area the posse discover that most of those Ravenites defending the site were of Sioux tribes, and the gatling wapons carried by their braves bear the distinct makers' mark of Wasatch Railroads, Dr. Darius Hellstromme's transportation / weapon of mass destruction business. Troubling implications.
Without waiting for daylight, they hitch the body of the beast behind their horses, as well as retrieving the scalped corpses of their fallen allies, and leave the valley of the snake mound. They are only a few miles toward the border when they meet Quanah Parker and his riders again, and greeted with joy.
The death of the Beast is something truly noteworthy, and a celebration is held. Philip is buried, while DuFuss is kept for return to the Agency. Good thing that he is kept under wraps, as at the party the posse is accosted by someone that's been looking for them: Texas Ranger Captain Millicent Crowne.
She's accomoanied by Nathaniel - who guided her from Dodge - and a burly native called Bear In The Wind, an escort through Coyote Confederation territory. Nathaniel explains his success in getting the folk of Dodge City to warm up to former Stagecoach Robber Henry Stiles; a nomination for marshal shouldn't be too far away.
Captain Crowne explains that she is hunting a treacherous ranger that 'went native'. Walks In Two Worlds, as he has re-named himself, has joined the cannibalistic and presumed-extinct Tonkawa tribe, leading them on raids across the Confederation border. With the attacks being mistaken for Comanche agression, if he's not stopped soon war will erupt. The cannibals are laired in a hidden valley near Quivira, able only to be found by someone that has been there before. Luckily, Crowne has just the thing: the still-talkin', severed head of the last of Two Worlds' fellow fallen rangers, William Hamilton. While aggressive and un-cooperative, the head will be able to lead them to their target.
The posse is eager to help a good cause, and set off to find these cannibals. The head guides them circuitously but truly, and they find themselves in a swampy region when Colt's less-than-stealthy approach alerts a Tonkawa patrol!
In preparation for the next night's arrival of the Ravenite coven to Snake Mound, the posse dig a second hidey-hole in the opposite side of the valley. McLean and Colt would hide in one, while Charles and Ingram (being given the responsibility of using a rifle instead of merely loading his employer's) took the other. They would provide covering fire to allow Law, DuFuss and Philip to get closer using the curve of the 'snake' as cover. To help even further, DuFuss jury-rigs a device that should distort Law's image in such a fashion as to render him invisible to those looking, or at least close enough in the dark of night, for a few seconds. (Steele is watchin' the horses)
So, in position, the posse watches as the eight shamans gather, three taking up patrol around the area while the others take up position around the head of the snake and begin their ritual. Partway through, a hooded figure steps from the shadows in their midst, accompanied by half-a-dozen braves toting what seem to be gatling rifles. Clearly their leader, he takes command of the chanting in a low, raspy voice.
Law, rendered invisible, quickly takes out one of the chanters without being noticed, but as soon as one of the voices falls silent, the Ravenites are quick to respond. Gunfire lights up the night as both sides exchange fire, Law dodging forward to take out the braves with the gatling rifles. The shamans have rifles of their own, and the sentries advance on the hidden positions in the valley sides. Philip climbs atop the mound to get a better psoition from which to empty both his pistols into the ravenites, but that's when the hooded figure spots him.
The Ravenite slices with his war club and steps through to where the gunslinger crouches against return fire, neatly bringing his weapon down and up again to splatter Philip's blood across the earth. DuFuss sprays bullets at him from his gatling pistol, but all go wide. The shaman steps over to the scientist, who gets to see beneath the hood and scream before he too is silenced by the axe blade.
There is silence as another figure appears atop the mound, the wizened medicine man Jordrava, come to aid the brave men that freed him from the Hunting Grounds. With a wave of his hand he stops the heart of one of the Ravenites, but then their leader laughs at him as a monster bursts up from beneath him, snapping its jaws around him in a fountain of blood.
The leader of the Ravenites laughs and gets to scalping his victims while the monster pulls itself forth and sniffs out Law. Ingram and Colt find themselves dueling the pair of shamans that still approach their respective hidey-holes while Charles and McLean shoot at the elephant-sized carcajou as it claws at the invisible martial artist fighting it.
Law is badly broken by the beast, and a close shot from Charles nearly finishes him off, but he stuns the beast with a bash from Jordrava's axe and jumps back, allowing the rifelman to pierce the monster's skull as it rears back.
The hooded Ravenite is incensed, and charges toward the now-visible Law, prompting a clash of native weapons as the shaman demands the sacred treasure. His hood falls back, and Law can see the face is both frozen and burned at once.
Already injured by the Beast That Devours Tribes, Law can just about manage to fend off his attacker as he is shot down by concentrated fire from his friends. Even Ingram and Colt beat their rivals - though not without injury - and the posse is left in the aftermath down two scalps and an Old One, as Jordrava bleeds out in the dirt.
Needing to find someone that can read Spanish, the posse scoots off to the nearest town, which turns out to be a one-horse burg by the name of New Bethel. Asking around quickly finds them the affectionately-nicknamed mexican 'Spanish Ted' hanging around the saloon. A few dollars and drinks get him to take a look at the Ravenite parchment.
The document describes orders given by an 'Esteemed Son' to guard Adobe Walls, but to retrurn to the Great Serpent Mound before the next full moon for an undisclosed purpose. The problem is that it's only a few days until the deadline, and the mound lies deep in the native Coyote Confederartion.
They decide to follow the Washita River, which leads almost directly toward the mound. As they pass the ruins of Adobe Walls, a half-dozen mounted Ravenites ambush them, but are seen off in short order. Far more troubling is the next night, when McLean stumbles across a nest of Prairie Ticks on his watch, and one gets down his throat.
With no recommended cure for the ailment at hand, the posse improvises, Charles hunting some beavers near the river and harvesting their musk glands for something that certainly causes McLean to vomit up the vicious bug in his belly.
At the termination of the river, the posse stops to visit the fort and the graveyard-shift Confederate force stationed there. They do trade with the natives, and the posse are welcomed to wait for the next party. In the meantime, Law stocks up on plenty of food and drink for fending off paririe ticks and tummy twisters.
The group of Comanche that visit the fort are led by their chief, Quanah Parker, and once Raven is mentioned - quietly, as an aside - he is only too eager to help uide the posse to the mound, although he will not go there himself. It is a haunted place. Also, he advises against any effort to dig up the totally haunted, cursed and all 'round troublesome treasures of the mound.
With an escort through the Cpyote Confederation, all progresses well for the posse. Parker stops three miles shy, and they make the rest of the journey unguided, finding the canyon where the mound nestles safely enough. In the day, they can trace out the shape of an enormous serpent gorging itself, and there are definite signs of activity near its 'mouth'.
Figuring that evil Ravennites do their work under cover of night, the posse sets up a shelter to observe what goes down that very evening.
Eight hooded native shamans converge on the site, some walking, others flying in as ravens before assuming human form. Five gather about the snake's head while others patrol. When it seems like one has impossibly spotted them from across the canyon with his glowing eyes, they duck out of sight to avoid too much suspicion. They are unable to see what happens at the serpent's head, but they can hear native voices, joined son by a deeper newcomer speaking orders.
By dawn the Ravenites are all gone, and the posse must plan their next step.
As the posse heads out from Dodge, Doctor DuFuss pulls up in his newly-refurbished steam wagon and offers to join them. It's a three-day journey to Abode Walls, and he has just enough ghost rock to get there and back. It's expensive to buy more, but Charles offers to fund the wagon until he realises how dangerous such a large stockpile would be were it to explode. Instead, he buys just a little more, to cover possible detours...
The journey itself is uneventful, save for the first night, where a distinctive green Wasatch Rails distress flare is noted int he sky, far over the horizon. They decide against investigating too far off the well-beaten cattle track until they have to, no matter how much passing cattle drives tell them to get the steam wagon out of their way.
Adobe Walls is a ghost town, spent bullet casings and graves evidence of the battles that have taken place amongst the ruined buildings. Steele and Ingram stay behind to watch the wagon and horses, while the rest of the posse splits up to look for evidence of the Ravenites.
Charles, Philip and DuFuss enter the saloon, surprisng a group of armed Ravenites taking part in a contest spitting over the upper balcony. They quickly grab up their weapons.
Across the street, McLean, Law and Colt find themselves in the general store, wrecked, ransacked and apparently staffed by a bear with an axe.
In the saloon, gunfire erupts as the posse upturns tables for cover and more Ravenites come running from hiding. Doctor DuFuss uses his confusion device and when several enemies come stumbling into the open, the tide turns in the posse's favour.
McLean fans several bullets into the bear and it simply dies. Law runs off toward the saloon and the sound of fighting, making it there quickly. McLean is slower, and caught in the open as more Ravenites jump out of another building and open fire. Colt bravely pushes McLean into the slaoon and covers him, and from that superior position the posse guns down the villains.
They find a Raven-marked note in the saloon, but none of them can read the Spanish it's written in. DuFuss is intrigued by the story of the bear man, and despite Colt's protestations hurries over to the general store. The corpse is disappointingly a regular Ravenite, and Colt laughs off McLean's story as seeing things. Nonetheless, the doctor brings out his magic detecting doohickey. The dead man has no aura, but Colt is lit up like a lightnng storm.
DuFuss then exposes Colt to a dose of his dispelling contraption, although that doesn't seem to have any effect other than making Colt all surly again.
The posse wanders around the other buildings, this time en masse, just to make sure there are no other surprises waiting. A couople have what look to be Biblical demons in them, matching some of the ghost stories told by those who'd been to Adobe Walls previously. The posse mercilessly blows them all away in a sulphurous goo.
Most of the other buildings are deserted, although McLean finds one with a Ravenite corpse in it, dead by shotgun blast. Nothing more to see there, he declares, and with night falling the posse gather well away from the town to sleep. They take shifts on watch. McLean and Colt, good buddies, pair up. On their watch, they smile to each other the knowing smiles of those possessed by spirits...
The rest of the posse is woken by loud clanking, and find the steam wagon half disassembled by the two watchmen, although they plead total ignorance of what happened. Of what happened for the last few hours, even! DuFuss sighs at the thought of having to repair the wagon again...
The folk of Cauldron join the posse in a humble burial ritual, a simple cross overlooking the pit where John Texas died. There was sombeness alongside the celebration at the news the news that the night haunts had been banished forever. Doctor DuFuss stays behind in the town to finish rebuilding the steam wagon in the scrapyard.
Back in Denver, the posse stopp over in church - it being Sunday - to say a few extra prayers for John. Law, not bein' Christian, goes poking around looking for clues leading him to Clayton Drumm. The sound of gunfire near the railyard brings him running, and another chinaman dies in his arms. There is no sign of the pursuer, but the man is clutching a red binder taht turns out to be a Pinkerton criminal file detailing the life of Sam Bass.
The posse goes over the mystery a little, learning from the file that Bass survived his run-in with them (well, Steele is the only member of the posse that was there at the time, now!) but has started becoming more merciless in his crimes around Deadwood. Someone to catch up with when they head back...
Stopping in at the Agency offices, the posse discovers that a crate of secret files has recently been stolen, and is no doubt en route elsewhere from the trainyard. They would be very grateful for the recovery of the files, should the posse come across them in the future.
Their last night in Denver, the posse is met in the Brown Palace bar by a young man with a cocksure grin and a pair of pistols, introducing himself as Phil Hawkins, the self-proclaimed biggest fan of John Texas. He'd heard the legends, spoken with Nataniel and come to meet the man for himself, being a little disbelieving upon being told of his death. Still, he asked to tag along with the posse to experience some of the same adventures as his idol. Why not, is the basic response, and a new member signs up for the action.
On their way to their Dodge-bound Black River train, they spot a couple of toughs that seem to be keeping an eye on them, Law in particular. They don't approach, but while Charles chills in first class the rest of the posse sits together, keeping an eye out. Law goes so far as to have his tomahawk to hand until a concerned parent pipes up for him to put it away.
A kid hands Law a piece of paper, carrying a message from Drumm, asking to meet alone in a first class cabin. So he goes, although the others back him up. They stick to one end of the carriage, seeing the two stalkers at the opposite end.
Law enters the indicated cabin, and the well-dressed Clayton Drumm introduces himself as a man that oversees Mister Kang's interests further south. He doesn't like people interfering in Mister Kang's business, and asks what connection Law has with Mu Wa. The name means nothing to the martial artist, but Drumm assures him that the man's brother Mu Kwan clearly met with the posse previous to his defection, and Law puts two and two together to realise that Kang is behind the file theft.
Drumm mentions that he would let Law go, since there's no interference in Mister Kang's business, but that Fong Bei would dearly like to see the martial artist dead. As Law raises his weapon, Drumm flashes a hand of cards and smiles. When his spell has no effect, he stopes smiling briefly as the tomahawk takes his eyes and then eviscerates him.
Law stumbles outside to see a brawl beginning between Steele and the roughs, the latter of whom tip their hats and take to their heels upon seeing a blood-soaked axe murderer step out of the cabin.
McLean runs off to get a change of clothes for Law, and the posse plans to behave as if nothing happened, closing the cabin door and returning to their seats.
Of course, the death scream had been heard, and soon a group of Black River security is asking questions. When they discover that the posse had been seen heading to first class, they ask about that. They were visiting their friend Sir Charles, comes the reply. He has no recollection of this, security tells them. A steely few seconds pass as Law assures the security detail that perhaps Sir Charles had been drinking and doesn't remember.
Black River seems to accept this explanation, and moves on their way, the only remaining question to be a quick inspection of Law's tomahawk. The blood has been cleaned off, but the witch that examines it gasps before handing it back, and the security detail moves on with apologies. They do seem too interested in the Tomahawk of Jordrava for comfort, though...
It's unanimously decided not to spend too long in Dodge, in case Black River come looking with a vengeance, and so the posse merely catches up quickly with Nathaniel before their planned departure south for Adobe Walls.
The reporter reports that he isn't too sure of Tolliver's suitability for mayor, but Henry Stiles is already getting his face out there as a suitable nomination for marshal, even breaking up a few crimes. Nathaniel is saddened to hear of John's death, and plans to write up an epic obituary. Whether he joins them on their journey south is another matter, though...
The posse decides to check out the abandoned salvage company before taking Agent Drago back. This requires a descent into the pit that gave Cauldron its name, which gets progressively colder as they descend a narrow ledge into the bowels of the earth, to find the small set of buildings overlooking a greeny-grey pond of water.
One building is a sleeping and living area for the Steinbruckner brothers, the other a barn wherein lies the disassembled pieces of a steamwagon. There is a junkyard lying between the two, which Doctor DuFuss takes a good rummage through. A jetty leads to a pair of flatboats that can pole out into the dingy water around a few festureless islands, but none of the posse takes that journey.
McLean does climb up alongside the trickling creek that provides the water for the pond and finds another devastated battleground, strewn with mechanical debris. He has a good look around and heads back to report finding nothing, only to take a nasty shove and fall from the cliff.
The scream brings the others running out from where they had been investigating, and then they go ducking for cover as a gatling cannon opens up on them. Standing at the top of the small waterfall is a mechanical man, only one more disjointed than the automaton they had already fought, pieces of scrap held together around a smoking steam pipe.
The posse returns fire, blasting plates off the abomination to reveal dessicated cropses holding it together as innards. They finally blast it apart with the aid of McLean, firing upwards from the ledge he'd grabbed as he fell. There is no sign of the missing salvagers amongst the scrap amongst the creek, and the buildings are undisturbed. Nothing like what any investigator would call a clue.
Calling it a day, they tootle back to Denver to deal with Drago. DuFuss and Steele come to the agreement to turn the Agent back over to Miss Lawton, along with the information they'd discovered about Hellstromme, regretfully informing her that the plates themselves were unrecoverable - but not letting her in on the fact that Steele will be taking them to his own superiors for processing.
The plan works out fine, Drago getting a commendation for his quick thinking, and Steele covering DuFuss's stumbling over the story they'd prepared. The mountie then takes a train out of town to spread the news.
While he's away, investigation is done. Law beats faces until he gets the name of Kang's representative in town: one Clayton Drumm. John Texas and Dufuss go over books - in the local poorly-stocked library and the district offices for the US secret service respectively - going over the clues they'd gathered from the bar-folk of Cauldron. The disappearances took place at night, and those who survived experiences recalled hearing voices calling to drag them away. All signs point to an outbreak of Night Haunts, and they prepare accordingly.
In Des Moines, Steele meets with a representative of the Canadian government to hand over the photographic plates. Agent Sapphire takes them gratefully, commending Steele for his perseverance and handing him some good old Canadian goods to keep him going.
Once the mountie returns, the posse takes time, working only during the daylight hours, in preparing the site of the salvage company for the coming conflict. Using scrap from the junkyard along with some glass pieces purchased in Denever - a small crate of ghost rock in the barn is helpful too - DuFuss puts together plans for a series of electric lights to be erected on poles around the area, slaved to a single lever to activate them. A swivel-mounted searchlight atop the barn completes the trap, so when the monsters show up the posse'll be able to catch them in bright light and hopefully destroy them. John texas puts together some hex-powered flare bullets as well, for emergencies.
At night, DuFuss is manning the searchlight, Law, McLean and Colt patrolling outside while Steele, Texas and Charles get some rest inside the barn, when the cries of a small child come from the junkyard. McLean is having none of that nonsense, and tosses a few sticks of dynamite in that direction, blasting metal pieces into the air. The screams only intensify, and Steele cannot stand by and let some potential victim suffer: he leads the charge of the back-up crew outside.
Steele follows the cries around the back of the buildings, only to have an arm made of shadow smash through the wall of the hut, clawing across his face and back. DuFuss cranks on the searchlight, but the thing keeps inside the building and away from the brightness, continuing to ravage the mountie as the others ru to his rescue. McLean fires a flare bullet, but it goes wide and sets the hut alight instead, the mountie now being clawed with a fire at his back. Seeing the fully revealed form of a man made of nothing but shadow, with claws stroking chunks out of Steele's flesh, Texas runs off into the night screaming.
Law lays into the shadow with the hatchet of Jordrava, buying Steele enough time to free himself and fire back, only to find that his bullets are doing no harm.
Texas' screams cut off abruptly, and DuFuss swings the seachlight in his direction, only to find the gunslinger dead, being feasted on by three more shadows, which screech and scatter as the light falls upon them.
Not knowing how many more are out there, the time has come to flood the area with light, but when Colt pulls the lever, nothing happens. DuFuss turns to see that something has disconnected some vital wires - something large, eight-legged and with a blazing hole where its heart should be.
He turns the searchlight on it, but rather than burn up like the other shadow creatures the dark beast scuttles away. While the scientist struggles to reconnect the wiring, Charles takes one shot at the monster with his elephant gun, decisively splattering it across the landscape.
Colt throws the switch again, and while there is screaming as the night haunts evaporate without their night cover, the dark beast - all but obliterated by Charles' shot - crawls its way over ot the pond and swims away.
The posse follows on the flatboats, seeing not only the bodies of the missing persons but the creature swimming into an underground tunnel, heading toward one of the islands. They smash the land mass to bits, finding the dark beast in the process of inserting a beating heart into its chest. It looks up at them as they blast away, avenging John Texas in a hail of bullets.