A gathering in Haskin’s Saloon, still under the aegis of Atticus Huxtable, was interrupted by the arrival of Bill Scurlock. The eager man proudly announced himself as the proprietor of a new newspaper and telegraph office – the wires direct from Sacramento to Virginia City having made a surprise pitstop in this small town. And one of its first offerings was a message for Orius Cain from the Black River Railroad Company, which he quickly read and squirrelled away without revealing its contents.
Not least, because he was distracted by the arrival of Red Horse and some other associates of Cillian Obannan. The native gunslinger was known to another patron of the bar that day, Singed Coyote, who had recently arrived in town – although the newcomer did not seem too fond of his fellow.
Cain was less than happy with the patronage of the moneylender’s men and after a testy standoff, sent them packing from Haskin’s. But not before he had overheard dire threats to the safety of the bar’s owner and namesake.
It also transpired that Coyote’s arrival in town was no accident. He had a message for the surprised Bill Scurlock, warning of some evil doings in the farmland.
Concerned for the safety of Haskin, Orius stormed from the bar and made for the General Store, where Haskin had been convalescing in a spare room. After pushing past a scandalised Marsha Hubbard, into the room, he convinced the startled Emmet Haskin that he had not come to murder him, but was instead to take him to safety back in the bar.
Meanwhile, Scurlock, accompanied by the dogged Sam Flam, was heading back to Telegraph Office in the hopes of relaying some messages to his mysterious employers. Safe in the knowledge that Flam did not understand morse code he transmitted and received a reply in short order, which he similarly kept to himself.
Upon leaving the newly built Telegraph Office, Scurlock spied a funeral taking place at the chapel down the street. Leaving Flam to return to Haskin’s, the reporter set off to investigate. Talking to the bereaved father revealed that it was a child who had passed away the night previous – mauled by some unknown beast in one of the farms that ring The Town.
With Singed Coyote’s warning fresh in his mind and his investigative instincts kicking in, Scurlock convinced the grieving father to lead him to the scene of the crime. The spot was an area of churned earth at the centre of a corn field – the blood of the deceased boy still drying in the cool morning air.
Looming over the scene was a scarecrow, which, upon interrogation, the father realised that he did not erect himself. As Scurlock set to examining the supposed simulacrum, he noticed a hard object fastened under the scarecrow’s shirt. However, as he drove his knife into its hay chest, the scarecrow shrieked and revealed its true form. After a short and nasty battle, Scurlock cast his lamp at the beast and left it to burn to its death in the centre of the field.
As he turned to return to Town, and his companions holed up in Haskin’s Saloon, the newspaperman inadvertently kicked a clump of soil over a cold black seed that had dropped to the ground, immune to the flames that burnt the scarecrow to ash.
He arrived back at Haskin’s just in time, with upturned tables and a rapidly diminishing clientele clearly signalling that a fight was brewing. Emmet himself was cowering in his former quarters, towards the back of the building.
Sure enough, it was not long before Red Horse returned to the bar. This time with three heavily armed cronies in tow. Only a few sharp words were exchanged before the gunfire began. With their superior tactical position and some sharp shooting, it was the defenders of Haskin who quickly gained the upper hand.
The fight in the bar was effectively ended when the bold Singed Coyote charged at the pack of would-be assassin’s with his war club raised. His fearsome strikes ended the life of a wounded fighter, leaving just Red Horse himself, who was swiftly expelled through the saloon doors by another mighty swing.
As an injured Orius and enraged Coyote left the saloon intent on seeing that Red Horse paid with his life, Sam Flam heard the sound of cracking timbers from the room where Haskin was holed up. Rushing in she discovered a fifth assailant, who had successfully chopped his way through the timber walls. Before he could level his gun on the terrified bar owner, Flam raised her finely decorated sabre and delivered a shockingly precise and powerful swing that cleaved his head completely from his body. Seemingly in shock, as Scurlock arriving to provide now unneeded assistance she wiped her bloody sword clean on the front his shirt.
In the dusty street out front of the saloon, things were going a little less well for the defenders. A heavily wounded Red Horse was hobbling for the cover of buildings across the street, while shots from Orius Cain’s rifle sung out, but missed their target. As Red Horse slipped into an alley, his tribe-mate Coyote sprinted after. Fearing his quarry lost for good, Orius made a last gasp attempt to use his personal burrowing device, but in his haste failed to fully calibrate and ended up among a number of surprised horses at the Livery Stable.
Using his tracking prowess, Coyote traced Red Horse’s bloody footsteps to the back door of Mr. Obannan’s grand house. He was greeted by a brace of rifle muzzles which emerged from upstairs windows, before his cries for Red Horse were answered by the man of the house at the back door. Orius arrived a moment later on horseback and a standoff ensued, with the moneylender denying that Red Horse was anywhere nearby and questioning the narrative of the attack that the Indian and the Railroad man had described. Eventually, thinking better of storming the Obannan stronghold, Cain and Coyote relented and returned to the saloon to lick their wounds.
Meanwhile, Scurlock had stolen from the saloon to visit the casino. There, by use of a specific name, he was able to convince Mr. Foley to grant him an interview with Alicia Moreau. Despite some bold accusations, Ms. Moreau was not particularly forthcoming.
As he stepped out into the upper corridors of Hoyle’s Hotel & Casino, Scurlock was hit with a vision. He found himself in the body of a great four-legged beast, looking down on the town with eyes set beneath two powerful horns…