Twilight Hell

Dust and Death - Phase 1 - Chapter 1
Fish Out of Water

Townfolks always like the Sheriff, but precious few a’ them take much of a shine to being one. It takes a whole lot of gumption to get up in the morning, knowing that all manner of trouble could be brewing. Trouble that you have to look square in the eye and ask it to hustle itself out of town. Knowing that any day some gunslinging hothead could blow into town with a six-shooter carrying that fateful bullet with your name on it. Heck maybe all six have your name on them, that’s the breaks.

On a good day, you go home in one piece. On a better day, so do the rest of the townfolks. You do your job, knowing that the better you do it, the more attention you’ll attract from better gunslingers, eager to make themselves a name by carving yours on a tombstone. Now you got to baby-sit some Mesarite, who couldn’t find his arse with both hands. Luckily, he’s got you to lead him by the nose, into some of the most dangerous country this side of The Forge. They say the Marshalls always get their man, but sometimes getting yur man just gets yah a whole lot a trouble.

The story begins in the wild frontiers “southwest” of The Forge in Danjukk where a dangerous criminal has successfully robbed a train. The criminal, ‘Smiling’ Phil Paxton, is the leader of a vicious gang of outlaws and rebels, who are fleeing the justice of The Mesas. The “government” of the Mesas dispatched a single constable to capture the outlaw and return him to stand trial. Unfortunately, “Smiling” Phil Paxton and his gang have fled into the wastes, where Mesarite justice bears little weight.

This would be the end of the story, were it not for the fact that Paxton’s gang has been implicated in the rebellion around Gateway in Darkpine Forest, and has strong ties with the cannibal tribes of the wastes. Furthermore, the train the gang robbed carried a shipment of military supplies destined for Fort Krieger. Pretty much all the authorities fear that Paxton may be intending to arm the tribes and spark an all-out war. Twelve cases of rifles, a small-bore cannon and enough ammunition to make the army worried, have been taken around The Forge and are believed to be making their way into the hands of the some of the most violent tribes in the entire Dustbowl.

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Dust and Death - Phase 1 - Chapter 1 - Session 1
On the Edge

As a duly commissioned officer in the Mesarite Marshalls, I am hereby authorised to offer a bounty for the return of one Phillip Louis Paxton. The Government of the Mesas will pay a bounty of $500 for the capture of said criminal dead or alive, and a further $25 for each of his gang. To respond to this posting, be at the Yvoras Train station no later than 6:00am sharp with your equipment ready to be loaded.

A job called, so Mason Dixon and Te Schwarm Chuuk answered. They took the posting and arrived at the train station as instructed. There they met both the Constable, and one Professor Archivist Tel Set. Tel Set was there to take contribute to and take advantage of the protection hired by the Constable, so that a trip down to Edge’s Spirit-rock mines would be uneventful.

After a brief introduction the group boarded the train to Edge. They spent the four day trip both cleaning and preparing their gear, and getting to know one another better. Te Schwarm Chuuk made some offhand comments about his cannibalism that did not endear him to the Marshal, and from then on, Jeffery took many walks from the cabin to “get some fresh air”.

From what information I’ve been able to glean from our informants, I believe that Paxton’s gang is headed to a small town south of The Forge called Edge. The town used to be called Hopeful but since a great quake pitched a good part of the town into a great hole in the earth and left the remainder sitting on the lip of a and huge precipice, the town has simply been called Edge. While dropping half the town into the earth could never be considered a good thing, the veins of spirit-rock the cataclysm exposed did serve to revitalize the economy, though they somehow kept the discovery secret for a couple of years. Edge has been given a new lease on life. Prospectors, hustlers and drifters are attracted to the town seeking their fortune.

Paxton’s sister Lara McFadden works in a saloon in Edge and I believe that Paxton and his gang are traveling to meet up with his sister for some reason. I know his gang is in the possession of five cases of military rifles and a small-bore cannon, which he stole from a military shipment destined for Fort Krieger. “Smiling” Phil Paxton is probably about to sell the rifles to the Cannibals in the area. We need some hard proof to stop Paxton and prevent a possible Cannibal war.

Upon arrival, the group retrieved their horses and headed into town. The Marshall went to the local Constabulary to gain information from them and pay proper courtesy, and the less conspicuous members of the party went to “The Last Gulp” saloon to find and enquire upon Bill Paxton’s sister, Lara McFaddon.

Lara McFadden, Phil’s sister, works at the Last Gulp. At one time, she and her husband Jack, owned a successful mining operation on the outskirts of town, employing 25 miners, including Lara’s brother Phil. Apparently Phil loved his brother-in-law as is he were his own flesh and blood; and from what I can gather, many believed this was the only period of his life that Phil would have described as happy. When the great quake decimated the town, Lara’s husband and 12 other miners were trapped in the mine. Lara & Phil rushed into town to get help, but the remaining half of the town was in flames and its people had their own problems.

After the accident, Lara tried to make the mine work, but the damage and the memories were too great. After a few months, she was forced to close it down permanently and take a job in the local saloon. She has been here ever since.

After confronting Lara…​

Phillip and I begged the townsfolk for help, but they ignored him, focusing on their own problems. The miners died and Phil rode out of town, swearing that he’d “return to wreak a terrible vengeance”. I heard he eventually drifted northwest into Darkpine and became known as “Smiling” Phil Paxton, for the grim smile that is perpetually etched on his face. So it’s been five years, and now he’s back; a bitter, violent man, with the will and power to get his revenge.

I accepted my loss and put the past behind me, where it belongs – until two days ago when what passes for my younger brother drifted back into her life.

Phil has brought with him all the rage and pain he has been carrying with him all these years. He told me he was going to make them all pay; that he’d found a way to get his revenge on the townsfolk and a few days from now they’d all be dead. I tried to reason with him, but he was crazed with hatred. We argued, but Phil forced me to take $200 and left. The last thing he said to me was:

“If you ain’t out o’ town in two, three days max, I ain’t goin’ to be responsible for what happens!

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