Session Summary #13 -- "Tall Tales"

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a wild west heroine
Dead Lands Session Summary #13: Tall Tales

Our brave Posse, holed up in the Wild West Museum, spends some time exploring the museum in search of an alternate escape route, or some useful supplies. Blue-Feather the Shamaness works on some rituals in the ladies' room, guarded by Sweet Sue Bell. Mountie Sam Steele examines the "Hall of Heroes" -- an area devoted to wax statues of famous western heroes (some of them of dubious "hero" standing), and a few "tall tales" heroes thrown in for good measure. Karl and Brother Joy set off another one of the traps, without resulting in any harm to anyone, and find their way to the exterior of an office that seems to be set up with even more potent magical traps ... and an un-detonated trap positioned against a door that the Posse didn't use. Karl and Brother Joy find that the poles and runes are enchanted with radiation-based magic, though it isn't "Doomsayer" magic, per se. Making use of Karl's extensive knowledge of the occult and Brother Joy's knowledge of "The Glow", they work together to move the rune-painted poles set in the floor to redirect the un-detonated trap toward the door that they wish to open. Brother Joy uses his Doomsayer powers to make new runes to set a new "trigger", and they start dragging wax statues of monsters from the "Hall of Horrors" room to form a barricade, and set up a rope to serve as the "trigger".

Justan the Syker, hearing the commotion of the moving of the wax statues, and overhearing Brother Joy and Karl talk, decides to go hide behind Brother Joy's wall-crawler, Spiky. Alas, this proves to be a bad move, for Spiky sees the bloodied Justan as lunch, and tries to take advantage of this. Justan gets a nasty gash on his left leg, but he manages to roll out of the way of Spiky's tail attack, and runs for all he's worth, calling out for help. Brother Joy arrives and sternly rebukes Spiky, regaining control of the situation.

Brother Joy heals Justan's wounds. Justan starts thanking Brother Joy profusely, and expressing his indebtedness. Brother Joy then comes up with a great way for Justan to repay any debt -- He can stand at the barricade and pull the rope to set off the trap, while Karl and Brother Joy hide elsewhere.

Neo-Samurai Jim and Justan hide just around the corner in the Hall of Horrors, Justan holding the rope, while Karl and Brother Joy cower in the Native American History display room, where Sam Steele is in the process of trying to bundle up the bones of Shaman Black-Horn in a blanket, in hopes of getting him a decent burial. Justan pulls the rope, setting off the trap, and secondary explosions that blow out the interior walls between the office and the adjoining rooms. Unfortunately, the Hall of Horrors happens to be one of those adjoining rooms, and Syker Justan and Neo-Samurai Jim are soon bowled along with a shower of shrapnel and pieces of wax statues as the wall explodes.

The explosion does have the nice side-effect of taking out all the zombies who were skulking around in the lobby area. However, there is now an opening for more zombies to pour in. So, Sam Steele summons Chretien, then apologizes to Black-Horn's remains as he sets the bundle back down, saying, "Sorry, Black-Horn, but I've got to save the living from the dead." Brother Joy hops onto Spiky, and the Posse rushes to hold off zombies and erect a barricade. (Syker Justan hides.) Neo-Samurai Jim and Sam Steele head out into the lobby, fending off zombies, while Brother Joy and Karl rip up broken floor boards and use antique tools pulled down from the displays in the "Mining, Farming and Logging" area. Sam Steele and Jim pick up the broken door that was blown free, and use it as a shield of sorts, walking backwards with it to the doorway -- and then, once they've backed through, Karl and Brother Joy leap to work, hammering in nails, slapping on boards, and hammering in more nails, until they've erected a barricade sufficient to keep the zombies out.

Another problem is that one of the windows in the office has been blown open, and now that the office provides an accessway to the Posse, some zombies start trying to climb through. The heroes hastily up-end a table in the office, using it to block the window (and crush a couple of zombie heads poking through at the time).

Once things calm down, the Posse investigates the office, which is apparently devoid of anything terribly interesting, other than a desk. Brother Joy inspects the desk, looking inside and under it. While he's still searching the desk -- and in the process of discovering a hole under the desk, and a trap inside -- Neo-Samurai Jim decides to move the desk to see if there's a hole underneath. Brother Joy has just enough time to dive for cover, as the magic poles go off, filling the office with yet another explosion. The desk, Brother Joy, Neo-Samurai Jim and Spiky all go plummeting, as the floor weakens even further, while the others scramble for safety.

Underneath the office is a cavern, the bottom of which is filled with an underground pool of toxic goo. Spiky and Brother Joy are completely unharmed by this (except that the goo bleaches Brother Joy's robes into a lighter shade of purple), but Neo-Samurai Jim is not so lucky. Fortunately, Jim has a fully sealed helmet on, so he doesn't inhale any of the goop, but it saturates his clothing and burns at his skin. Brother Joy helps Jim to a ladder, and Jim hastily hauls himself up and out, shedding clothes as he streaks through the museum in search of water to douse himself in. When he rushes to the ladies' room, Sweet Sue Bell wisely opts not to unlock the door for him, and so she is spared from the sight of a naked samurai (naked, that is, except for a sword and a helmet) streaking down toward the men's room. There, the samurai finds some stagnant, filthy water and cleans the remaining goo off. He then swipes some clothes off of the wax statue of Doc Holliday in the "Hall of Heroes".

Syker Justan gets an idea from this, and borrows Paul Bunyan's coveralls, so he can have a new pair of pants (since the old pair was shredded by Spiky). He also swipes a pair of quick-draw holsters and replica pistols from a wax dummy of "The Revenant" in a darkened corner. Sam Steele is aghast at the desecration of the museum, but opts to keep quiet about this, since it's better than the Posse running around with no pants on. Even though the wax statue of Doc Holliday isn't "anatomically correct", Sam still feels bad about a naked Doc Holliday standing there with nothing but a hat ... so he repositions the hat to cover a strategic location, in a token attempt at preserving modesty.

Sweet Sue Bell at last comes out, and checks up on things. Brother Joy exhausts more of his power healing wounds, and the Posse tries to make plans for how to deal with the cavern below. Karl finds some candle molds, while Sam Steele finds three mining helmets (with candles and mirrors) and some lanterns. Karl uses wax from broken wax statues, and starts making several candles, and he also uses some sticks, rags and more wax to fashion some torches, with the help of Neo-Samurai Jim. Sam Steele looks around the museum some more, and shows Sweet Sue what he's found. Sweet Sue finds a "rattlesnake lariat" purportedly used by Pecos Bill, and decides to test it out. Syker Justan decides that he doesn't want to be anywhere near when Sweet Sue tries this strange lariat out, so he bolts. Sweet Sue, seeing a good opportunity to test against a moving target, lassos the Syker ... and finds that it seems as if she has considerable strength while using the lariat! Sue lets the Syker go, and the Syker heads off to get some rest and "recharge his batteries", as his mental powers are exhausted.

Sam Steele, anxious to try to find a proper way to bury Black-Horn's remains, finds a book on Native American rituals. He tries to find a key to open the case the book is in, not wanting to desecrate the museum displays any further. He asks for help, but other members of the Posse seem inclined to just bust the lock or the case's glass open, so Sam waves them off, and settles on using one of his knives to try to pick the lock. He ends up dulling and chipping his blade in the process, but at last he gets the case open, and spends some time reading the book, in addition to all the information about the heroes of the old west and the tall tales.

By this time, it's getting dark, and the zombies are still gathered all around the museum, so the Posse opts to set up camp for the night. (Besides, Brother Joy still needs the rest. So does the Syker, but nobody aside from Brother Joy has yet learned that he has psychic powers.) Syker Justan skins a stuffed bear in the "Wildlife" room, and uses the old dusty furs as a blanket. Karl procures some quilts from the "Life in the Old West" exhibit. Brother Joy, Spiky and Syker Justan set up camp in the "Hall of Horrors" room, next to the cavern entrance, with Spiky serving as a "guard" of sorts. Sam Steele finds some dreamcatchers in the Native American exhibits, and sets them up, then sets camp in the Native American area with Karl, Sweet Sue, and Neo-Samurai Jim, taking guard duty shifts.

Events are uneventful during the first shift -- Karl's -- but during Jim's shift (at midnight), Karl, Sweet Sue and Sam have a shared dream of being in a teepee, seated around a campfire, with Shaman Black-Horn. Black-Horn thanks Sam for attempting to give him a decent burial, and warns him that the enemy that the Posse is fighting gains his power from corrupted spirits of fire, and that to properly defeat him, they must rely upon something that can defeat fire. Black-Horn admits that he is unable to say more than this, because the corrupted shaman he speaks of knows of the presence of Black-Horn's trapped spirit, and has partially bound him from aiding others. Sam Steele asks about the spirit that is pursuing Blue-Feather, and Black-Horn indicates that this is a corrupted spirit as well, and offers that he will try to find a way to defeat this enemy, but he may only do so once he is able to enter the Hunting Grounds. He requests that Sam Steele see to the burial of his mortal remains so that his spirit can pass on to the Hunting Grounds, and then he will attempt to provide aid in dreams. Black-Horn indicates that some of his possessions may be of more use to the Posse, than to be buried with him. Among these are a bow and arrows that can harm spirit creatures, a bead shirt that can protect against bullets and other artificial weapons, and -- as Sam Steele has already discovered -- the dreamcatchers, which grant peaceful sleep.

Black-Horn also indicates that the lariat that Sweet Sue has acquired has some power to it, as well. He tells those gathered that the nature of the Reckoning is such that nightmares of mankind come to life, but sometimes other dreams as well -- shared dreams, such as folktales and legends. He tells them that some of the "tall tale" heroes that Sam and the others have read about in the Hall of Heroes have actually walked the land, given life by the power of the tales about them, and only as strong as the beliefs people have in them. The lariat that Sweet Sue holds has power for her, because of her beliefs "in spirit, if not in mind" in the tales of Pecos Bill and Slue Foot Sue, and the inspiration she has drawn from them.

The dream ends, and Sam ends up taking the third shift, and when everyone gets up in the morning, those in the room with the dreamcatchers have had a peaceful night's sleep. Syker Justan, however, did not -- He was plagued with dreams of being shot through the heart by a mysterious fellow dressed all in black ... the Reckoner. And this dream happened again and again ... and again ... all through the night. Syker Justan is not in very good sorts when he wakes up.

Sam Steele has an idea, and he gets Jim to turn back over Doc Holliday's clothes so the wax statue can be properly dressed again, and Jim swipes the clothes from the Revenant instead. (The Revenant wasn't really a hero, anyway.) Sam Steele gathers up the Posse, and gives them a tale about the heroes -- real and imagined -- detailed in the Hall of Heroes, putting a great deal of work into his presentation and elaboration upon their heroic feats. In the end, Sam Steele makes a truly heroic telling of their feats, filling the Posse with inspiration and determination to follow their examples.

The Posse assembles at the office, and Brother Joy uses Spiky to start ferrying the heroes into the cavern, making use of Spiky's amazing ability to climb on ceilings and walls, and depositing them in a narrow tunnel overlooking the pond o' glowing goo. Jim goes first, followed by Karl, and just as Sue is about to go in, Jim spots some moving bodies in the cavern beyond the tunnel -- more zombies, and they have sticks of dynamite tucked in their rib-cages, with lighters in their hands! Karl pulls out his shotgun and blasts one of the zombies right in the rib-cage, setting off the explosives, and triggering secondary explosions as well. The blast sends Karl and Jim shooting back through the tunnel, badly wounded, into the pool of green glowing goo, as the tunnel caves in behind them. Sweet Sue uses her lariat and the amazing strength it gives her to lasso Karl; Brother Joy, Justan and Sam Steele help her haul Karl back up and out of the goo, but not before Karl suffers a mutation from swallowing too much of the toxic goop -- He's a lot scrawnier than he was before he went into the goo, as it has some detrimental effect on his metabolism. Jim manages to botch multiple attempts at swimming, but at last manages to scramble out and to safety.

Meanwhile, outside, there are sounds of galloping horses and gunfire. It seems that the townsfolk are helping to deal with the zombie problem ... but then, there are glimpses of a bald black man swinging two sledgehammers, smashing zombie skulls ... and a cowboy lassos several skeletons at once, while other legendary heroes join in the fray. In the end, the zombies are all eradicated, and the mysterious heroes disappear from whence they came. Perhaps, after all, Sam Steele's heroic telling of the tales of the heroes of the west managed to somehow conjure up their spirits to come to the aid of the Posse!

The Posse gathers up their belongings and patches up their wounds. Sam Steele and Brother Joy hold a burial ceremony for the remains of Shaman Black-Horn out in the woods, and then the Posse heads back to the town of Blackbird. There, Sam Steele, Brother Joy and Sweet Sue tell a thrilling tale of how the heroes of the old west came back to wipe out the zombies, and of the wonders at the museum in the town of Cobalt. Somehow, the level of fear seems to drop a bit, as the townspeople are filled with hope against the horrors of the Wasted West. The Posse divides up a bounty of bullets for dealing with the zombie problem -- as the zombies didn't attack the previous night (when they were busy harrassing the Posse), and they don't show up again in the nights since.

Karl, weakened by his encounter with the green glowing goo, and having dealt with the zombie menace, decides to part ways with the Posse and settle here in the town of Blackbird, in order to help deal with any remaining monster problems here. The townspeople, intrigued by tales of the old museum, pledge to try to salvage what they can from it, and maybe even set it up as a memorial of sorts to great heroes, past and present, and of hope in the face of the horrors of the Reckoning.

So, as Karl is welcomed as a hero in the town of Blackbird, the rest of the Posse rides off westward into another sunset, in search of further adventures across the Wasted West.

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