Dwayne Hendrickson
United States
Oklahoma City
Oklahoma
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Forrest Lincoln rode quietly alongside U.S. Marshal Bobby Feet, heading north, paralleling the railroad tracks. The Marshall glanced over at his companion, "You sure you saw Scafford and his bunch heading towards Brimstone?"

The rancher rode along in silence for a minute or so. "I told ya whut I saw, they came outta the bank, shot and killed my daughter in the middle of the street as they made their escape and they headed north. Now if you ain't man enough to wear that star, hand it over to me and I'll be their legal judge, jury, and executioner, instead of a vigilante thirsting for revenge."

The Marshall really didn't like this man but the trail was almost cold when he came upon Lincoln camped for the night. They swapped stories and realizing their common goal, decided to join forces. Feet just hoped that he got to Scafford before the rancher did. Scafford, no matter what kind of monster he was or, according to some tall tales, he had become, he still deserved a fair trial.

As they came into Stone's Crossing they discovered that the horrible tales surrounding the area near Brimstone had turned out to be more truth than fiction. Buildings were destroyed and all that was left was a street market. Finding nothing of value, they quizzed the few remaining locals and learned that Scafford was reportedly holed up in Clayton's Cave up to the Northwest.

They headed out at daybreak and shortly thereafter came upon the smoldering ruins of a large manor. A sound came from the charred husk and the two men dismounted and slowly entered the blackened home. Forrest stopped, "You hear a music box?"

Bobby came to a halt. "I don't know. Maybe." Just then a small waft of dust, or maybe smoke, darted across the hallway in front of them. First one, then another, then two, three and a dozen. Each one, a shimmer or some kind, moving with and against the wind at the same time. Finally these shapes coalesced into spectral children, still playing in this home, years after their death.

Bobby looked over at Lincoln, "What in the hell happened here?" Lincoln's face went white as he looked over the Marshal's shoulder. "I don't right know for sure," replied the rancher. "But I think she might."

The marshal slowly turned to see a shimmering vision of a woman standing in the center of the huge manor. Her hand was over her face and she was weeping, softly, as if she had been in misery for years. A letter hung by her side in her other hand. Next to her was the music box, softly playing, and beside that was an overturned canister of oil and a spilled box of matches. The music box gently finished its tune and the wind softly carried away the last vestiges of the specters.

Forrest shivered, "Let's be on our way, I don't want to see what else might be around here." Bobby started to turn when his boot hooked on a piece of cloth under a burnt board.

"What's this?", he said, bending down to examine it. "Looks like a cap or hood of some sort. And there's a chunk of rock sewn into the peak."

Forrest walked over and looked at it. "Damn if'n that ain't a piece of that Dark Stone what destroyed Brimstone. I would give that thing a toss."

"The hell you say," chuckled the marshal. "You accuse me of not being man enough to chase after Scafford and here you're turning yella at a hood with a piece of rock in it." Bobby took the hood and pulled it down over his face. He felt almost invincible once he pulled that dark hood over his head and he could swear he heard voices whispering comforting thoughts into his ears. It felt good.

"C'mon, Bobby. Take it off." said Forrest, as he reached for the hood. Bobby slapped his hand away with a sudden fierceness.

"Touch this hood and you'll need someone to sew that hand back on for ya. Now let's go find Scafford!" The marshal strode out of the burnt house, mounted up and rode off. Forrest stood there, trying to decide which was better, staying in a burnt home full of specters or riding alongside a crazed Marshall in a black hood. He would never find his daughter's killer standing here so he quietly left the home and rode off, following the marshal's dust, still hanging in the air.
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Adam Mitchell
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Excellent start! I look forward to reading the next chapter!
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Adam Mitchell
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I wondered what you were talking about in regards to that Hood; now, after a weekend adventuring in Cynder, I know. What a powerful Artifact!
 
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