Deon Beswick
Australia
Canberra
Australian Capital Territory
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Sol que mucho madruga, poco dura.(Precocious children will mean much trouble later on.)

With a shove, the smaller boy sprawled in the dirty backstreet of Cutter’s Gap. A swirl of dust went up between him and his tormentor, an older, larger boy dressed in men’s clothes with the sleeves rolled up. Behind this figure stood half-a-dozen other boys, their faces twisted in grins. “Hey, Billy, get up!” cried Lena, stepping in front of his fallen form. She was tall for a girl her age, and her fair hair hung in a complex braid down her back, and she brushed at her good skirts impatiently. It was sure hard to move dressed like a lady. She would have sighed, but was too busy staring hard at Jonas, the biggest bully in the town, and his gang of troublemakers. If they didn’t fix this fast, they’d be way late for Sunday School again. “Outta the way, sourkraut” sneered Jonas. “Don’t think I can’t take you” she hissed back. “If you were man enough for a fair fight”. Her fists clenched.
“Hey folks!” came a familiar voice. A hatless boy stepped into the backstreet. He was dressed in a mix of cast offs that were at least approaching “Sunday Best” if not quite getting there. “Andy! Boy am I glad to see you” gasped Billy, struggling to rise from the ground. “Well, three little brats” laughed Jonas. “I’m a shakin in my boots”.

“Three is of numbers my favourite, but four has also has a nice sound to it”. A brash voice spoke. Behind the bullies a wiry, brown youth pushed forward, only a little older than the three Sunday School friends. “Andy, mi amigo! There you are, I look all over. I have such tales to tell”. He shoved past the gang members with total indifference and confidence. “Hey greaser!” snarled Jonas “we’re busy here”. He spun round to face the newcomer. The Mexican boy smiled mirthlessly and tipped back his straw hat to better survey his target. His right fist lashed out and caught Jonas in the stomach. “My name to you is the Sombrero Kid”. As the larger boy doubled over, a quick left thundered into his jaw, and he went down like a sack of potatoes. The Mexican lad calmly turned to face the remaining gang members, his hands resting casually on his wide belt. “Shall I introduce myself again? No? Well, take your friend and vamoose”. There was a flurry as the gang took themselves off with haste. The lad helped Billy to his feet with one hand and gently took Lena’s hand with the other. He smiled again but with sudden charm. “Lovely senorita, such a pleasure! A thousand pardons, I must talk with Andy like men do, while you and your friend go on your way”. “Domingo!” she grinned across into the handsome, tanned face “I never did know you were back”.

“Ah, Miss Lena, call me Sombrerito, please”. With easy grace Sombrerito slung an arm across Andy’s shoulders “We are old friends, no? But my hombre here and I, we must away. We’ll catch up later, most honestly”. “We’re playing hooky from Sunday School?” grinned Andy “Why of course we are”. “Si, my friend, si. We have much to say. But we’ll be back for mass, don’t you worry. The good padre, he will never know”. The brown arm swung him around and the two of them began to march away between the clapboard buildings and toward the river. Sombrerito waved a casual hand at the two other kids over his shoulder. “Adios, my young friends!”. “Say, Sombrerito, what are ya doing back so soon?” questioned Andy, “not that it ain’t great to see you”. “Ah my friend, you should know the search for darkstone, it is not certain. So much bad to overcome before the good of dinero. But let us sit here on the riverbank, where I can watch the bridge, and I will tell you all”. “Bully!” grinned Andy.

El fruto no cae lejos del árbol. (The apple does not fall far from the tree.)

“Well, you know I did not search for the darkstone alone. That would be a fool’s errand si? Instead I met some tough hombres from my home town. You remember I told you of San Carlo? Ah, it was cursed, under the heel of that very bad man, General De Vega. He take everything, him and his soldiers. No one was safe and everybody lived in fear. Well, one day, I talk back to the soldier men of this general. They whip me good and throw me into the street. But riding by were three brave vaqueros. They dismounted with a hoy, fought the soldiers, one with his fists full of dynamite, one with his fists full of guns, and one with fists like a hammer. Eh, they whipped those soldiers bad. They help me up from the dust, and took me up and rode away. As we talked, I find they are those mysterious moustachioed muchachos, the Tres Sombreros!” “Say, of course I’ve heard of them. Ain’t they bank robbers and banditos?””Si, my friend. They have been called that and worse. But they will help the little people, like you and me, get our share of the darkstone from the greedy generals and landowners”.

“Well, of course go on Sombrerito, don’t leave me all a hanging here” encouraged Andy as the Mexican youth stared out across the river. There was the whistle of a distant train. “Ay, amigo. So there I was, riding with the Tres Sombreros. Me. Truly, it was a proud moment. They told me, as they laughed and tossed back the whiskey they passed around, that they rode for Sweetwater Heights.” “The Heights?” gasped Andy “ain’t that place haunted all to blazes?” “Si, so I have heard. The mine there, it was abandoned due to they say the very spirits of the dead coming out of the rock. The miners, they fell back to the Heights campsite and they’ve been there for maybe a month, refusing to go back in. But the Tres Sombreros, they say are not afraid of the living or the dead. One showed me his medal of the Saint Teresa of the Lilly, and swore it would protect them. Ah, the blessed Saint.” Sombrerito crossed himself. “Anyways, those vaqueros thought to find themselves some darkstone in the empty mine, and maybe get rid of the ghosts. So in we went. It was dark in there, but Los Punos took the lead, shining a bright lantern in his mighty hands, and strode towards a junction. El Furioso followed close behind, in his hands two matched silver six shooters of much beauty. And behind them El Fusible ambled quietly, wrapping something from a heavy pouch slung at his side.”

“What was it in the pouch?” queried Andy “I asked the same question my friend. That most amiable of Tres Sombreros, El Fusible, he smiled at me and opened the pouch wide. ‘Ay, little sombrero, take a good look. It ees the dynamite’. Red sticks, fuses, blasting caps and guncotton were all jumbled together. His pudgy hands carefully were separating and readying the sticks for use as he puffed on his cigar. ‘You need to make it go bang, you ask me’. ‘Hisst!’ came the voice of Los Punos ‘I found many cadavers’. We hurried forward. El Furioso was crouching over a fallen figure in a long rail tunnel. Other bodies lay sprawled about, maybe a dozen. ‘Miners?’ I asked them. ‘No, little sombrero, these were banditos too’ grinned El Furioso. ‘Unlucky for them, someone was a better shot’. ‘No darkstone and little cash on these fools’ spat Los Punos. ‘Oh, this weel be useful’ laughed El Fusible hefting a small powder keg. Suddenly there was a faint shriek from the other direction, and he almost dropped it. As we listened, it got louder and louder, till it was deafening. Like a train whistle close up. The Tres Sombreros jumped back and pointed their pistols back the way we had came”. “Was it the ghosts?” marvelled Andy “Of course I knew there’d be ghosts somehow”.

El que busca la verdad corre el riesgo de encontrarla.
(Who searches for truth runs the risk of finding it.)

“Si, the ghosts. The Tres Sombreros looked at each other. ‘Hola, let’s go see what that was’.’Ay-yi-yi. Let’s drink some whiskey first heya?’. After taking a snort from the bottle apiece, they hefted their pistols and headed back to the junction and went in the other direction. I kept pace with Los Punos, in the lead. El Fusible had fallen back again fiddling with his dynamite. El Furioso hefted his weapons and caught my eye. ‘Me, I am a crack shot. In theese saloon, I shoot out the middle of a card before the big crowd’. ’All of the cards, even the ones on the table’ laughed Los Punos. ‘Ah, and a lady’s hat. She so angry, her eyes shoot sparks. Magnifico!’ chuckled El Fusible. I drew my own worn pistol and strode out into the front as we passed through an arch. The space before us was vast, my friend, like a canyon, and the light didn’t reach the bottom or the sides of the room. A faint breeze seemed to waft up from the black depths. A rickety bridge crossed the great gap leading to another arch on the far side. With a swallow I stepped onto the first plank. It swayed but was solid. I used one hand to grab the rope sides while levelling my pistol into the darkness. I heard the footsteps of the Tres Sombreros right behind me. Then the shrieking started again!”

“Of course it was the ghosts wasn’t it Sombrerito?” “Si, the shrieks of the dead. It echoed everywhere. The breeze became a gale, and the bridge tossed back and forth. In the howling wind I could make out faces with long arms outstretched. I felt one clutch my pistol and I yanked it back. My pistol, it flew from my hand and fell in the darkness, forever lost. I saw El Fusible drop his newly acquired keg. The lid was whipped off as it fell from the bridge, and the gunpowder sprayed out in a fine cloud. In it I could see movement like writhing limbs. El Fusible swallowed, but the shrieking and wind died away. ‘Blessed Saint Teresa!’. ’Look, there!’. A figure stepped out the dark at the bridge’s end. It wore the worn clothes of a US marshal. I could see a rusty badge gleaming in the lamplight. It reached up a tipped back the brim of its holed Stetson. The face was pale and its beard was white. But the eyes, how they burned. It whipped out a pair of pistols and the bullets flew!”

“Of course, a dead gunslinger!” gasped Andy “I seen me one of those too!” “My friend, it was a terrible as you say. We sprayed bullets back, but El Furioso was as good as his boast. A rain of lead spat from his guns. He hit it dead on, in its face and chest, and the terrible thing collapsed in a cloud of dust that gently blew away. The Tres Sombreros, they realised it was time for more whiskey, and stood around emptying a bottle or two while I carefully look at the cave walls and floor for any treasures.” “Did ya find anything good?” “Nay Amigo, nothing so fine. We moved on a way, down the old mine tunnels that led from that drop. Then we hear a scrabbling. And the floor and walls, they bulge. ‘The Saint preserve us, the ghosts!’ cries El Fusible. But it was just some rubbery tentacles. They grabbed at our legs, they tried to hold us down. But the Tres Sombreros, they danced away with a hola, shooting and punching. I punch too. I pull my weight like a man, and I am faster than any of them. Those tentacles soon went limp. The ground they messed up had lumps of the gold. Not the darkstone we all seek, but gold. ‘Eh, so fine a thing’ mused Los Punos holding up a largish nugget. ‘We will drink like the generalissimo De Vega tonight!’ laughed El Furioso.”

Vale más huir, que morir. (Better to flee than to die.)

“Wow!” exclaimed Andy. “Ghosts and gold!” Sombrerito smiled and jingled a heavy leather pouch before his companion’s eager eyes. “My share turned into much dinero, my friend. So much coin. For I cannot drink like the Tres Sombreros. But to continue. On we travel, looking for clues to stop the ghosts that haunt. But we, we find nothing. Nothing but distant shrieks again and again. Something, it is in that mine. Something dead but not gone, you understand. The Tres Sombreros, they kept up their courage by marking the way with the whiskey bottles, no? Oh, so many empty bottles. They drank like men and marched forth boldly. Maybe they scare those ghosts away but good. As we found nothing but more tentacles. Twisting, twirling, tentacles. So El Furioso shot, and Los Punos punched, and EL Fusible threw the dynamite. He even give me some to throw. So many tentacles, my good friend, so many. We killed near twice a dozen. But the darkness grew and grew as we fought and ran, and suddenly Los Punos gave a curse. ‘Santa Teresa, we run dry!’. The Tres Sombreros all came to a halt as the shadows lengthened and the lantern flickered as the oil, it was almost gone. We were dusty and tired. El Fusible patted his bag ‘I have a only leetle of the dynamite left’. El Furioso snorted ‘And we have seen no ghosts to shoot’. Los Punos reviled the ghosts of the mines loudly and flung an empty bottle at his feet. ‘And we have nothing to drink! Let us go spend that gold amigos!’ And me, I was glad to retrace my steps as I had no gun and bruised knuckles. We follow that trail of bottles back outside and we mount up.” “So that was it? That’s kinda a weak ending Sombrerito” Andy sighed.

The youth grinned once more “Well, on the way back, we did wrestle some devil dogs and ended up in not just a haunted mine, but a haunted town!” “A ghost town?” marveled Andy. “Si, si, a town where both the living and the dead..” but Sombrerito suddenly stopped as a loud explosion rent the air. Andy goggled at the pillar of smoke rising from over the water near the train junction. “Say, what was that” “Oh, I think it a little bit much dynamite on the station safe” “What?” Andy turned his head as Sombrerito leaped to his feet with natural grace. “Amigo, I must go. For you, I suggest you get yourself along to mass. I need to, as you say, pull my freight”. Sombrerito had already begun to run towards the Cutter’s Gap bridge. Galloping from around the station came three moustachioed vaqueros on three fine horses. They were grinning, and gave a wild yell as they saw the boys. The last pudgier one was leading another horse with an empty saddle. “Adios Andy. I tell you the rest later. You better skedaddle. I certainly will be doing so, with my muchachos the Tres Sombreros!”. He laughed and swung up into the saddle, and with a wink was gone, the four riders racing away from the town in a cloud of dust. Andy watched admiringly, and trudged off to Father Greene's Sunday School, late as usual.







 
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Madd Kossack
United States
New York
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Nice story pall! So, who was part of this new posse (identify their names and classes)?
 
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Deon Beswick
Australia
Canberra
Australian Capital Territory
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Ah, indeed. This posse grew from the amusement among my fellow players of taking all three types of banditos in a single group.

One with the combat starting skill (The fists, Los Punos, one with the two guns starting skill, the furious pistols of El Furioso, and one with the dynamite starting skill, the fuse El Fusible!). Then we needed someone else on this theme as the 4th person, and behold, an Orphan, Sombrerito who wants to be a bandito when he grows up.

Andy is a young orphan from a different posse, and both he and Sombrerito are successors to my high level original posse hero, Reverend Zeb Greene and his occult notebooks (he took the path of occult research originally and a shotgun).

One of these days I plan to take Sombrerito, Andy, Lena and Billy (and his dog) on an all orphan Brimstone saga...




 
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Madd Kossack
United States
New York
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GiantLocust wrote:
Ah, indeed. This posse grew from the amusement among my fellow players of taking all three types of banditos in a single group.

One with the combat starting skill (The fists, Los Punos, one with the two guns starting skill, the furious pistols of El Furioso, and one with the dynamite starting skill, the fuse El Fusible!). Then we needed someone else on this theme as the 4th person, and behold, an Orphan, Sombrerito who wants to be a bandito when he grows up.


Ah, thanks for explaining! I knew at least one had to be a Bandido (specifically the one chucking dynamite), but I figured the two-gun guy was an Outlaw (since they're armed with twin Outlaw Pistols), and the fist possibly a Piano Player (since they and the Saloon Girl are melee-focused).

Can't wait to see Andy and his orphan pals on the next adventure (perhaps with the story taking place during the adventure, rather than their "tall tale" told afterwards?)
 
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