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Eric Harman
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I Victor Caine MD, am of sound mind and body.
I am a graduate of Harvard medical school, born and raised in Pennsylvania.
I am a man of peace, so when I packed up my family and moved west, it was not out of any sense of adventure, it was to help with the injuries that came from the silver rush, and later the darkstone rush.
My wife loved the little town of Brimstone, so despite the grim name we settled there. And, as this was before the black Rock was discovered, we purchased a few acres of land for cheap. Had a home built. It was lovely. I was often called to other towns and properties to tend to the sick and injured. I had a reputation, there aren't very many ivy league doctors out here on the frontier.
And that's why I wasn't home when the brimstone explosion happened. I was several days ride away, helping some farmer's wife give birth.
I don't know if that was a curse or a blessing.
But I heard it when it happened. That shouldnt be possible, and my colleagues back East will, no doubt, say I'm mad, but I heard it, and I felt the burning.
I rode for two days straight to get back home. Travelers tried to stop me on the road, doubtlessly to warn me of the dangers that had come from underground in Brimstone. I paid no heed.
I arrived to find a desolation, for a week I searched.. for the bodies.
Those *things* tried to claim me as well. But I am no helpless mother or child, and they bleed. God above they bleed, just like any human or animal on this earth. And they scream as well.
I eventually found my home, or what was left of it. It was after that I learned how to make those things scream.
I dont know how long I tarried in the ruins of Brimstone, creeping through the night like them, to teach them the meaning of pain... But I remember coming to the mining town. And sitting in the saloon. Unsatisfied. Certainly, I had inflicted unspeakable pain on some of them. But others, their anatomy was unfamiliar. And some died silently.
Soon, I sought the wisdom of the town. To learn about them.
They knew little, only that they came bubbling out of the mines like a plague.
I would have to study them firsthand. I would have to learn, for myself, how to make them scream.
But in the mines, on their home ground, I couldn't stalk them like I could at home.. I'd need help.

When Buffalo Bill's Wild West show came into town, I had a singular interest in attending. I needed a mercenary. It's there I met a young woman who called herself Betty Bonnet, no doubt a pseudonym. But her skills with a pistol. And more importantly, rope, were unquestioned. Serendipitously, she was displeased with the money she was making performing, and it only took 2 drinks to convince her that there's a fortune to be made in darkstone from the mines.
We set out the next morning.

"A Fistful of Darkstone"
Our first foray into the mines was not terribly successful. Nor would I call it an abject failure.
I now believe we stumbled upon a nest of what the locals call "Night Terrors".
For such a large beast, they are shockingly skilled at stealth. And amazingly agile. I had difficulty laying my hands, and scalpel, on them. But Miss Bonnet handled herself admirably, shooting the first one down with shocking precision. We found quite a supply of gold in that mine, no doubt from the beasts' victims. But the darkstone deposit also seemed to be their congregation ground. The young lady's mind buckled under the strain, and I had to drag her unconscious form from the mine before they claimed me as well.
But I had learned about them, and more importantly, I learned I needed a weapon.
In town, I purchased a hatchet from the local Indians, and aided the injured men from the army, one gave me his pick axe. I also adopted a stray dog while there, poor thing is starved half to death. Suitably supplied, we headed to another mine.

"For a Few darkstone more"
This foray into their home was far more successful, I've catalogued several species of the beasts. And I find there is a certain joy to be had by burying a hatchet into the faces and limbs of these beasts. I may need to revisit the savages to see what other tools of war they have available. As a group, the denizens of the mine defy classification. The night terrors are humanoid in shape and movement, though impossibly fast and quiet. But now I've encountered tentacles that spring from the rock itself, with no obvious organs to extract. And that wasn't even the strangest thing. We found a pile of dead that stood on their own and attempted to drag us down. They didn't scream when we ended their unlife.
Of particular note were the hounds, I gather the locals call them "void hounds". They seemed to shift in and out of reality. Miss Bonnet tried to tie one up so I could dissect it, but it simply shifted away and then returned. For the same reason, I couldn't perform a proper necropsy on the remains. But, most interesting of all, we encountered things that may have once been human. But their skin showed the telltale signs of multiple surgeries, and they seemed to have parts of other, unknown, horrors grafted onto them. I find myself thankful that I found the bodies of my family, or what was left of them.
This time, we found the darkstone deposit, and Miss Bonnet was visibly pleased at the profit we made. That's good, she will be necessary if I am to continue my studies. We left the mine almost joyful, even the stray, which she named Fluffy, seemed to be in better health. Tomorrow we ride for a large town to spend our profits, and to find where next we can go for my continued research.
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Adam Mitchell
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Thank you for a most promising start! Flesh Drones, yay! And a dog! Please let us know what you think about being accompanied by a dog, whether it seems worth it or not. I had one once, but the poor thing was shot to death by Trederran Raiderssoblue.
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Nick Hughes
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Solan wrote:
Thank you for a most promising start! Flesh Drones, yay! And a dog! Please let us know what you think about being accompanied by a dog, whether it seems worth it or not. I had one once, but the poor thing was shot to death by Trederran Raiderssoblue.


Obviously cat lovers.

Eric brilliant back story really gives a good narrative for the Doc to be down in the mines,look forward to reading more.
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Eric Harman
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"The Lost Marshals. Wanted: Undead or Alive"

After a long ride we arrived in the city. Rumor has it this town kept growing after the silver rush and is huge and cosmopolitan. I expected bustling streets and crowded shops. Instead I came upon a town beset by plague. Worse yet, the locals were rioting, no doubt due to insufficient care from the local Doctor. Miss Bonnet and I did our best to calm the mobs. But they still destroyed the saloon.
Frustrated, I headed into the most crooked gambling hall I've ever visited. The dealer was clearly cheating, and took most of my recent profits from the mine.
I spent the next day tending to the many sick. I discovered something unbelievable, this town was not overrun by one plague, but dozens. Every patient I saw had very different symptoms than the last. This town is doomed.
Resigned, the next day I visited the preacher to get the corruptng influence of the darkstone I already sold removed. He took the rest of my money, and did nothing.
Were I a more god-fearing man, I'd conclude that this town of theives and liars is being punished. As it is, I'm sure its plagues are somehow related to the beasts in the mines.
Exasperated, I tracked down Miss Bonnet to leave.
On our way out of this awful place, one of the girls who worked at the saloon (before it burned down) approached us begging for help. At first I dismissed her raving about bandits, even when she assured me they were responsible for the plague. I simply assumed she was syphilitic and mad.
It was then that she mentioned the bandits were former US Marshals, and long since dead.
This caught my interest, the living dead I've encountered so far were mindless, these appeared to have the wits to steal.
We got directions to their hideout and rode out.

As we looked through into the first room of the mine, a room flooded by the subterranean river that ran through it, two members of the gang came into the mine behind us. They were fascinating, wielding shotguns with surgical precision, these walking dead had nearly no flesh left on their bones. To my satisfaction, I found these dead were capable of feeling pain as we cut them down with axe and gun. Fluffy once again showed his beastly courage, running straight toward the firing monstrosities, pausing only to serpentine as they unloaded in our direction.
Another new discovery, as we were slogging through the flooded passage, the darkstone bullets Miss Bonnet found began to glow unusually, asserting their corrupting influence, her leg transformed into a tentacle before my eyes.
As we reached the end of the flooded passage I discovered the biggest breakthrough in my research so far. A white and blue glowing gate, it appeared to be made of pure energy. As we approached it, the air and water got noticeably cooler. We passed through into a frozen land. But we were in a hall which was clearly man-made, or perhaps beast made. Alien architecture surrounded us as we explored further. Perhaps the creatures don't come from the mines, but from this place.
Unfortunately, before we could explore further, we found the rest of the undead gang and ended their threat to our world. Hesitantly, I agreed to leave this fascinating place and ride to the next town so Miss Bonnet could get her mutation fixed, by looking I could tell it was beyond my skill to repair. I'd have to see how the doctor in the next town repaired it. Our pockets once again heavy with gold, and my mind reeling from the discovery of this gate, we left.
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Adam Mitchell
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Oooh, an infamous gang of Undead Outlaws! Did they come close to KO'ing you, given your posse's low level?
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Eric Harman
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Solan wrote:
Oooh, an infamous gang of Undead Outlaws! Did they come close to KO'ing you, given your posse's low level?

Actually no, even after getting screwed in town and only having 2 bandages available at mission start (I got damaged in town and had to use one right out of the gate)
We just focused them down one by one. We also used positioning to make them melee a lot. The biggest problem was the darkness almost escaped because of the flooded room.
The dog did almost get killed once, but I healed him up.
We also faced some more hungry dead from a darkness card. But they weren't really a problem, and I neglected to mention it in the story because the Doctor is mostly interested in what he's learned. And hes already studied hungry dead.

Oh, and in response to your earlier question, about the dog: a stray only costs $50. So if he stops you from taking more damage than a bandage would heal, he's worth it.
 
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Adam Mitchell
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Hmmm,I'm a little surprised, though kudos to you for forcing them to melee (I take it you rolled well on the 'will he back away or not' rolls?).

Yes, the flooded room is a terrible time-sink; we avoid it when possible. The steam room also tends to be unpleasant, for obvious reasons.

A little cold-blooded view of the dog, but undoubtedly accurate. Thanks for answering my question!
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Eric Harman
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"City of the Ancients"

As we rode into town, I found my mind was burning with the desire to learn more about the strange frozen land filled with alien architecture. Is it the source of the monsters? Is there a way to close the gates there permanently? Does it have a name? How could I get back to learn more about it?
While we attended to our issues in town, Miss Bonnet's surgery and resupplying, primarily, I sought answers to these questions. I met an old prospector whole playing poker that claimed to have been there. More so he claimed to know of a mine with a permanent gate that leads to what he called "Targa" or "The city of the ancients".
I'm quite certain he's mad, but his claims are the only lead I have, so we must investigate them.
Miss Bonnet also picked up an admirer while in town. A young would be gunslinger named Bill. He insisted on accompanying us for our next expedition.
I attempted to dissuade him, explaining the dangers. That only seemed to increase his desire to come with, in order to "protect Betty".
The boy was smitten, and Miss Bonnet seemed glad for his company, so I relented. I wish I hadn't.

The entrance to this mine was cold. Much colder than the outside air, and even cooler than the average mine. It would seem we were on the right track. As we took our first steps into the chill, an inhuman scream echoed up from below. And it must have shaken some of the ceiling loose, because within seconds rocks fell around us. An inauspicious start.
As we passed into the next chamber, I set eyes on yet another permutation of the beasts. It was a robed humanoid, but it's face... God it's face was not human. It's mouth was a mass of tentacles. The thing wore a robe and shot purple fire from its fingertips at us. We dispatched it quickly, but not before it fired a salvo of that unnatural flame at Miss Bonnet. The young man's fear was replaced by rage, and I urged him to remain calm. He did not listen.
After eliminating, and dissecting this new monstrosity, we found the gate I'm the room. Once again, the air around it carried a chill. This one more pronounced than the last. It would appear the old prospector was correct.

We proceeded through the gate and into the Targa Plateau. This time, I had ample time to study the ancient city. Of course, I couldn't read the ancient alien language written on the walls. But there was still much to learn. As we left the hall where we gained entrance, we found another young man, huddled against the cold. He explained he was part of another expedition, I told him where the portal out was, but he insisted there was great riches to be found here, and wanted to accompany us. I was too busy studying that place to argue much.
That's when things went bad.
The next chamber was a frozen over lake, but the ice was thin and cracked.
I easily found the strongest ice and crossed quickly, Miss Bonnet followed my footsteps exactly. Our newest member, perhaps trying to prove his worth, attempted the same. He fell through the ice, and never resurfaced. From the hole Bubbled out a noxious cloud of poison. Being lighter than the rest of us, Fluffy had no problem crossing the ice and joined us on the other side. Finally, the young gunslinger, perhaps wanting to impress Miss Bonnet, also rushed across the ice, and fell though. We stood and watched for a moment. Shocked that we had lost half of our expedition in moments. Then we pressed on.
The next room we found was packed with ancient alien machinery. It was also packed with beasts. Night terrors, and something new. I've since learned the locals call them "stranglers" strange bipedal beasts with multiple writhing tentacles.
We began cutting a path through the crowd of monstrosities. Alien blood and screams filled the air, and splattered the ground. Just as we saw an open path, two things happened simultaneously. Fluffy started crying out and collapsed. The horrors too much for the poor dog, and more of those autonomous tentacles burst from the ground around us.
We were very nearly overcome, mentally and physically. I don't remember all the details, I find my memories of those moments are largely dark, punctuated with mental images of the beasts being cut apart by my axes. Miss Bonnet tells me I had the look of a madman, screaming and laughing as I struck them down. She says at one point one of the stranglers grabbed me by the neck, and I simple pushed my pick axe down its gaping maw with a terrifying grin on my face.
I cannot say if that is true, all I know is that when my mind cleared, the beasts laid dead, and we were free to examine their remains, and the alien machinery. The cache of strange technology we carried from there will certainly get us a goodly bounty in town. It's a shame that it cost three lives for the money and knowledge we gained. But I suppose all research comes at a price.
 
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