Monday, May 27, 2024

Play Report - Empire of Texas, Session 3 - 5/22/24

De Lancey Gill - Street in the Pueblo of Oraibi, Tusayan, Arizona

"The Emperor of Texas has heard the plight of his allies across the desert. The Plague wracks them and empties out villages. From his riches he promises to provide medicine. The price is independence."

For the Referee side of things, see this blogpost over on the Underground Adventurer.

Players :
Halloween as… the Referee.
Cosmic as… Captain Kelly Branson of his Texan Majesty’s Imperial Army, a bookish officer with high aspirations.
Jack as… Chuck Dalton, recently recovered from horrendous head trauma and infection.

Kelly, Ignacio, Leandra, and Karl survey the scene. A circle of bullet riddled wagons, the corpses of men and horses. They dismount and begin poking around, disquieted by the scene. Ignacio climbs up into one of the wagons and finds its contents are untouched. Most of it is plastic packets of some fine white powder (it was heroin), in another wagon they find a crate of weed, and glory of glories wagon containing a stunning three hundred bars of gold. They look on in awe at the shining metal. Unfortunate that it’s not food. Quickly the expedition is called over and the loot transferred, packed away, and hid in the party’s own wagons. The night passes hungirly but warmed by the small fortune now in their possession.

Day eleven passes uneventfully and thirstily as they trek through the desert, pursued by buzzards. The men, while heartened by the loot, are wearing thin.

Day twelve and things are looking grim. The horses are near dead from exhaustion and the men parched, reduced to eating lizards and sucking on pebbles. But around midday Leandra comes riding back from ahead of the expedition, waving her hat in air and hollering. A town! A town! At first they think it a mirage, but it solidifies into the form of a decidedly real village of earthships and dome roofed pueblos. The expedition approaches cautiously, noting the furtive nature of the inhabitants (who wear pelts and seem not to have much in way of farmland, this being the desert) but meet with a small delegation sent out from the village. The woman at its head introduces herself as Simone Cassowary, she is tall and muscular and wears jewelry adorned dreadlocks. The villagers welcome trade but forbid the expedition from coming into town, save to fill their canteens at the well. Nodding, Chuck, Kelly, and F. Finch divest themselves of weapons and indicate for the men to do the same and troop into the village one at a time.

Negotiations go well, aided in part by a gift of hash–promptly smoked–and Kelly trades the looted old world clothes, three revolvers, eighteen rounds, a horse, and half the crate of looted hash for two hundred and ten days worth of food and water. As well, they get the lay of the land, learning about an oasis at a line of cliffs straight west, and a boulder to the northwest they should keep south of if they want to hit the mountain passes. They learn also of a town to the south the villagers have been out of contact with and a crag to the north that has opened with gunfire from a great distance at passing caravans, and some other tidbits like this. The expedition passes the night on the outskirts of the village and departs the next morning.

Day thirteen was cloudy. The expedition passed over empty desert, keeping westward still. Day fourteen was much of the same, though they saw in the distance lonely bits of broken concrete jutting out of the dry earth. The horses were eating through a lot of supplies and a lot of water, worrying Kelly, but so far all was good.

Day fifteen was overcast, early that morning the party arrived at the series of cliffs about which they’d been told. It takes the better part of the day to descend but they find, at the cliff base, a waterfall burbling out of the rock and into a green fringed pool; an oasis in the dry lands. The expedition quickly sets camp and spends their time fishing and collecting forage and filling their canteens and splashing about enjoying this respite. Around dinnertime Leandra comes back to camp to tell Kelly and Chuck about a cabin she’d found to the north. The three ride out to investigate, finding the cabin atop a hill.

They all dismount and Kelly has Chuck creep up to peer in a window. He does, but as he goes to peek a rifle barrel pokes out! A man starts yelling from inside and demands Chuck identify himself. Down the hill, Kelly and Leandra throw themselves flat. Chuck identifies himself as a soldier of Imperial Texas which the man takes poorly, ranting about empire’s bringing doom to the world. Chuck complies with a demand to disarm himself and, after some shouted exchange between Kelly and the cabin dweller, they decide to fuck off and leave the man alone. Back at the camp they post extra sentries and sleep the night away.

Day sixteen the expedition rides westward, scouting northwest for the boulder they were told about as they go. The day passes mostly without event but in the evening as they began to look for a campsite one of the scouts, Esteban, comes riding up from behind to report a dust cloud due east and closing. Kelly rides back and peers at it through his field glasses. He counts around twelve riders. The party is nervous and confers. After much debate they decide to ride through the night to reach the boulder Leandra spotted to the north, which should serve as fortifiable highground. The men break out their rations early, munching dried meat as their horses ride on through the setting of the sun and the rising of the moon.

The next morning, amid the heat, the exhausted expedition arrives at the boulder perched atop a twisty, rocky highground. Really it’s more of a hill, but either way it serves their purposes. They climb to the top and use the steep slopes as a backstop for a U shaped wagon fort, putting the horses inside and setting up with their rifles. The dust cloud of their pursuers is upon the horizon, they too have ridden all night.

Despite Chuck’s objections Kelly decides to take Merryweather and ride out a good distance to wait for the approaching riders and parley. He ties a white flag to his lance for the purpose. While waiting a distance from the wagon fort Kelly examines the riders through his field glasses. Closer now, he counts fifteen men on horseback. They wear khakis and buckskins and tote rifles. He sucks in his breathe. Sitting before each rider in the saddle is a gagged child. Sweeping his glasses along the approaching line, Kelly spies Simone, the leader of the village through which they passed, seemingly unconscious and bloodied, tied up and draped over the back of one horse. One of the riders has a very long and very old looking rifle, light gleams of its scope.

The pursuers slow down and dismount about 300 meters away. Kelly watches as the rider with Simone throws her to the ground. He is bald and pink as a newborn baby; stuck in his belt is an ancient automatic pistol. He rests one boot on Simone’s neck and beckons Kelly closer.

The Captain complies, riding just close enough to hear the bald man’s proclamation. He, the bald man, says that the expedition has taken something that belonged to colleague’s of his, something they are anxious to get back. He says that he razed Simone’s village. He demands the taken items, as well as all of the expeditions food and ammunition in compensation for the trouble and disrespect towards the Lord of the Desert.

Kelly says he needs to discuss this with his superiors. The bald man gives him ten minutes. Slowly Kelly rides back to Merryweather, then the two ride breakneck back to the wagon fort, desperation in their hearts…

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