Innocence lost....

The Clockroads

To the shootout at Knauerbach's Station

  We had been traveling for a day or so, I was getting bored and I think the heat was starting to make me smell bad again. The big Russian was sitting in the back of the wagon with me. I was busy sizing him up for parts, but was being somewhat discreet. I like them big and strong, they animate so much easier that way.

         Hayden and Thomas sat up front driving the wagon forward.  I heard them whispering in low tone about the area around us. Thomas was watching for danger. He is the one I rely on most.  I while away the time teasing the big Russian, I enjoy making him talk. His English is a bit off. I do not think he has guessed my nature as of yet, so I play with him. I asked him to smell my arm after I put on some perfume. He called me his "French whore". I could only pretend to be cross with him. I failed and couldn't stop laughing.

             Hayden told me to shut up a tad rudely for my taste, but the wagon had come to a sudden stop. There was a big black rock on the road. As if someone wanted to ensure we saw it. Thomas asked me if I noticed anything. I of course lied, I hate lying to him, but I was not sure how he would take me knowing certain things. It was of small matter. They saw a number "6" I saw a Neverborn rune like my uncle and I used to see marking places we considered a "no-go" zone.  The runes gave a distinct warning. Sadly it would be one we would ignore as Hayden made it plain we had to go that way. With a sigh I climbed back into the wagon.

          The big Russian hit the rock with his massive rail hammer. I was somewhat startled when he discovered some twisted riddle inside.  It was cryptic and not likely for us. It said:

      " The King of Spades, the Queen of Crows, the Knave of Hearts at 10 sharp, the third….." and then nothing. The notes to us from the "Benefactor" are usually signed. This one, well it was not but it was incomplete. I heard them trying to figure out who we may have been. I was called the "Queen of Crows" but that did not seem right. The "Knave" being also called a "Jack". I am not convinced that we are being described. But I have not always been correct. I do trust Thomas judgement.

             I listened closely to the sounds of nature, or more to the point, there were none. I reached out to the grave spirits in the area, again nothing but silence. I was concerned that we were entering the territory of something evil.  We came to a sudden stop yet again. I jumped out the back. I was very concerned. The small stream we stopped at was not the thing that caused my still heart to beat again. We stood within the enclosure of a Neverborn formation. Twelve rocks set in a clock pattern and a tree that should have long been dead standing as if it were a massive sundial.

           I had seen such before. I was concerned now so I kept my mouth shut. I played it as close to the chest as I could. I had hoped they would not notice the coincidence. I sat on a rock, and tried to look deep in thought as my companions went about searching. After a bit we moved on, I was relieved. We did not get far before Thomas figured out exactly what was going on..Hayden had discovered the words "Tik Tok" carved in the tree trunk.  This made me concerned. They sent Hayden towards what was the 3 O'clock stone and he found of course the number 3 on it.

        Vessili went running towards what he was convinced was the number 10 stone. He was correct. I was both thrilled and horrified by the Russians strength. He lifted the rock up with his bare hands and beneath it was a scroll. I kicked off my heels and rushed to get there first. I of course could not resist touching the huge Russians calf muscles (I was now convinced they would be perfect for a flesh construct) and snatched the scrollcase. I recognized the leather as human flesh. Quickly I took the scroll out and secreted the case. This was something for me after all.

           The scroll itself was yet more mystery. It merely stated:

      " Little Sally's breath, lie cold in her chest, the key they will see with the king's hand. With subtle skill in the gentleman's game. The four must fall for Sally's Hope."

         This seemed less a riddle to me, and yet again, no signature. I was concerned greatly with the emphasis and tense on some words. It was a mere few hours till sundown and so I sat back, quietly contemplating what was being thrown at us. When the wagon finally stopped we were at the edge of a ghost town. It was a small burgh off the beaten path. I was still concerned and somewhat anxious. I was quick to get to Thomas side, I would rely on him for protection, despite his dubious past using me as a "meat shield" but then he knows that I am already dead.

          Vessily and Hayden took the right while we approached on the left. The "town" was merely 2 houses, a barn, and the train station. There were a pair of outhouses off to the left of the station and scattered rocks and trees. Near the center was a single gas light and it was lit. I closed my eyes and reached out. There was nothing, though I almost thought I felt an aura of menace. We split up and started to explore the area. Thomas and I checked out the far house and barn. I was absolutely giddy with the barn, there was a perfect skeleton, albeit plaster with a note around its neck saying "I am sorry".

         I did not tell Thomas that it was not real, though I guess he could figure it out since I could not animate it…at all. He left me to it and I sat admiring the craftsmanship, yet pondering the note. As I walked back out of the barn I found myself staring down the barrels of two pistols wielded by the ugliest woman I had ever seen. She said "hands up bitch" and I readily complied. I was not thrilled about being shot. So I had no other real option.

          There was a band of renegades about and they had guns and knives pointed all about us. I was concerned that we were in some serious trouble. Thomas completely blew my mind, as nonchalantly as could be he merely walked about passed by me and sat on a rock. He started chatting with the most vulgar Irishman I had ever heard. The man made several lewd comments about me to Thomas. Vessily and a large dark skinned fellow stared off with each other, it reminded me of two bulls about to charge. Hayden moved almost as in a trance into the station, muttering something about a card game.

          I was not overly concerned of what was going on around me except the two guns pointed at my chest ( I could almost claim three due to one having two barrels) Thomas walked up to the station after bantering with the vulgar Irishman. That was when things became more touchy. Some damn fool with a pair of swords, his name was Draven or Daven or whatever. The man was a complete idiot. He began making taunts at Thomas about his wife. That was a terrible mistake. Thomas gave him an opportunity to walk it back, he did not.

      He made another vile comment, and somehow managed to insult me as well. Thomas warned him again. The fool stepped up into Thomas' face and made the most horrid accusation I had ever heard (I am not at all an innocent, I have done terrible things, but nothing like what this man accused Thomas of). It happened almost to fast to follow. I admit that I hate fighting, and abhor shooting. But there it was. Thomas spun and blasted the man's chest open with a well placed shot from his carbine. That was when everything went to hell.

           I stood in shock as bullets flew. So much happened so fast. The vulgar Irishman attacked me and I was terrified. I called for the grave spirit and made the dead swordsman rise and rush at the vulgar Irishman. He was taken aback but moved swiftly to shoot my new toy in the head. I was initially concerned about revealing myself but what the hell, these bastards will not be walking away from this (unless I animate them and make it happen) The Irishman was half afraid and half enraged with me, he lunged quickly grabbing my throat and hip. He slammed me hard against the wall of the barn. I had no breath to exhale at the time and he squeezed my throat. I saw some confusion in him as he began to realize there was more to me than thought.

          I began to struggle but realized I was hopelessly out matched. I began to panic until I was sprayed with his bone, brains, and blood. Thomas had taken a shot and took his head clean off. I was horrified to be so filthy, grateful to be saved, and annoyed that the corpse was now beyond my use.  I was essentially useless, but that is nothing new for me in most fights. Thomas was bouncing around like a jackalope hopped up on coffee. Vessily and the other enraged bull were in a fierce knife fight. I then found my use. I began knitting Vessily's wounds with my necromantic skills. I was then caught off guard when a bullet tore into my shoulder. I dropped like a stone and played dead.

          Thomas swiftly put down my assailant. The aforementioned ugly woman who had been shooting all over. Thomas had put her down in a bad way. While Vessily finished off his rival. The man's somewhat obese lady friend had taken a whack at the back of Vessily's head with a huge golf driver, nearly taking his head off. Thomas answered swiftly by shooting her in the gut. She fell with a scream and I realized we were all standing alone. Silence reigned. I got up slowly as Hayden, Thomas, and Vessily searched the area. I am not sure what they were finding but I used the opportunity to "clean myself up".

         I was shocked when Thomas asked me to stabilize the wounded. At first I refused. I held no grudge against the dying women other than the hag who shot me (ok, yeah I was a little pissed at her) but then I had revealed myself to obviously be a Ressurectionist right in front of them. I was angry, confused and a little hurt by it, but Thomas has never asked me for anything before. I would not deny him now. We are not "friends" but I am most sympathetic about his situation. I know what it means to lose a loved one.

        That did not mean he was not due for a "bitching" that could strip paint. I took him roughly by the arm ( I am still surprised I did that) and took him in private to let him know how foolish and pig headed I believed him to be. He simply said "I will not compromise on this" I let it go. He is a hard man, but this bit of softness will either bite us in the ass or help us later. I would be grateful to be just forgotten.  I did what he asked, though I was more rough than necessary, especially to the hag who shot me. I considered tossing in a kick (maybe I was jealous she was allowed to live, while I, in that same situation took a bullet to the heart) but decided against it. After all, Thomas had made clear what he wanted.

         I went to check on Vessily, he was injured and I was not happy about the cuts and bruises. I teased him about damaging my future property. He taunted me by saying he would put in his will he wanted to be cremated. Well, I could do something about that, I was eyeballing those calves and biceps again and imagining what kind of golem I could build with his parts.  We were rushed though, there was the chance there could be a small child alive and entombed. We decided to take our fallen foes' horses. 

          It was a mere three miles but none of us were particularly fine equestrians. I rode side saddle in front of Thomas and tried to hold a lantern up, for vision, you know….reasons. It was a mess, but we made good time. I knew my companions were getting tired, I of course was not. I do love to "sleep" so I wanted to get rested. I had already washed the gore off of myself before we left.  The trip was short, thankfully. I dislike horses and they dislike me.  We found the graveyard and I was ecstatic to be among the dead again. We went to the sepulcher where the young lady was supposed to be entombed.

            It was "good" news that I could raise nothing from the sepulcher, it meant whoever was in there was still alive. Hayden and Vessily went about trying to find a way in while Thomas and I stood guard.  Of course with our luck it started to rain on us. It made all my remaining matches wet, and that was irritating. The boys wandering about the sepulcher trying to find a way in. Sadly it appeared that the only way in was to squeeze through a window. I was horrified that yes, again it would be me. I tried to stall and offer other suggestions. I asked for a match, knowing mine were ruined. Thomas made Hayden give me one of his. I lit it and poked my head inside. Yes I could easily fit.

        I stripped my dress and high heels. I was wearing shorts and a light shirt under it. I was not naked, but I still did not want anyone save Thomas (he is a married man and I do not have to worry about him) to help push me through the window. It took me a while to figure out what was going on inside, but I finally deciphered the lock and let my companions inside. It was a tightly cramped place but we figured out how to get inside and find the girl. Only one marble wide sarcophagus was inside…………………………………And they were never seen again in this mortal coil. Months later it was surmised that they met their end in that dark tomb. A young reporter went in search, all he found were the corpses at the old train station and a cryptic message on the tomb, I will not repeat it here, but it was signed…"the benefactor"

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