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(HS) The Good, The Bad, and The Chaos.

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6/18/2011 14:41:11   
Clown the Jester

The Good, The Bad, And The Chaos

Created by Clown the Jester. This is a Wild West interpretation of the game HeroSmash. All characters are either fictional or based upon real live players in Hero Smash that have given consensus to use. The Story is fictional and is not based on any true event. Warning story is rated PG-13 for violence and dark themes. The Author would like to thank the Artix Entertainment staff for everything they do, as well as his fellow form members for their inspiration and support.

Feel free to discuss the story in the discussion form

Prologue: History of Western HeroSmash.

Overlook was a small town, with 30 maybe 40 inhabitants. Though most of the farmer owners and Ranch Owners would visit the town for supplies, gossip, and make a stop at the saloons. It wasn’t as impressive as towns like Liberty Square, or secretive as Skull Gulch.

However, there was a tranquil feeling about the town...sometimes that feeling would shift to boredom. The peace was occasionally shattered by the occasional gun fight or robbery…however most of the time, Sheriff Velmur would do a decent job at maintaining the peace of the town, whenever he needed extra assistance, most of the folks would volunteer a firearm or able hands.

The town was built ten years ago after Malachite was discovered in Aurora Hills, a mile east of the town. The wagon trail of countless pioneers, hoping for fortune, poured into the area. Wanting to mine a chunk of the priceless Malachite. Of course their were Indian Tribes already living on the land. A peaceful tribe that treated the land with respect. The Pioneers forced out the Ancient Tribe that had lived on that land for centuries. Threw them out, making claims to the land. They built Overlook in one night. Families flocked to the Town bringing diversity, culture, and crime.

The Pioneers treated the tribe like animals, like nothing. Forced the Natives to Skull Gulch, they went peacefully, though bitter. Mourning for their sacred home land as the strangers desecrated their land. Only a year after arriving in Skull Gulch, the paranoid and fearful Townsfolk of Overlook and Liberty Square forced the tribe from their homes a second time, they would be forced to Death Canyon. Not the most desirable spot on the map. A barren desert. Giant Rocks, Canyons, Plateaus. No shade to protect them from the merciless sun. All this migration of a tribe for the Malachite.

Yes...Malachite...made Overlook an overnight boom town due to it’s convenient location to the mines. Hundreds traveled miles hoping to make a fortune by finding the valuable Malachite. The green rock was more valuable than gold or diamonds. God knows why it was valuable...most of the ore was sold to Azimoff Industries. Rumors had it Azimoff was using the Malachite to power something big. Anything else was top secret. Besides selling it for high prices, the shiny green rock had no other use. It was often debated in the Saloons what Azimoff was using it to power, or how he could use a rock to power something. Could you get heat from it like coal? What could it do?

However the Malachite Rush made Overlook the place to be. The inns and saloons were filled every day and night…as well as the jails.

The town opened a General Store that was maintained by Ms. Jae, a crafting shop for the skilled Blacksmith known only as Thunder, and was provided assistance in medicine and health from Doc Black, one of the most knowledgeable physicians the state had to offer. A bank called Corperal was set up as well to maintain the income of Bonds.

As the Skull Gulch Gangs tried to introduce their influence into the town, hoping to take control of Overlook, the good folk realized they needed to fight back against the Outlaws that were taking control of their town through crime and fear.

They would create a position for sheriff, to bring law to the lawless Gangs plaguing the town. The town elected Sheriff Velmur who remained sheriff for all these years.

To the west of the Overlook, Dead Canyon, a Hell on Earth. Few ever traveled there, and even fewer ever returned. The deadly canyons lied in the middle of a desert that ended four or five miles from Over Look. A never ending desert. No water in sight. How the Ancient Tribes survived there was a miracle…or a curse.

To the east of Overlook, Aurora Hills, formally a sacred land to the Indian tribes that lived there before they were forced from their homes. These hills would contain the valuable Malachite that would be the cause of the Civil war between Fort Spire and Skull Gulch.

To the North, a large town called Liberty Square that lied on Prairie Grasslands. A never ending stretched of grasslands where you could see miles in any direction without anything to hinder your view. Stories of Bandits, the Outcast, strange green lights in the sky, and animals disapeering in the dead of night only to be found a week later torn to bits made traveling in the Grasslands a terrifying experience.

The town was a monument to the greatest architectural achievements the world had to offer. Stone buildings, larger than life statues of the founders and legends of the city, paved roads, and even a train station that lead to Over Look, Fort Spire, and back. A mile farther stood Fort Spire, the location of the state’s military. A hundred well trained troupes constantly vigilante for Ancient Tribe War Parties. Their fort was in a state of ruins after a battle that took place at the base.

To the South, Skull Gulch, a haven to Outlaws, Bandits, thieves, murderers, and rejects of society. It was said if you traveled to Skull Gulch, you would leave with your pockets empty, family kidnapped, and your throat cut from ear to ear. The gang run city was built over the Marshlands, the kind of swampy territory that could always promise two things, Gators, and Quicksand. It began as a simple hideout for a gang of Train Robbers; soon more and more criminals took refuge there until it became the lawless town it is today.

Rumors suggest a witch known only as Lady Spider inhabits dangerous swamps of the Marshlands. Stories about her being able to communicate to the dead added to claims of seeing her drinking the blood of livestock at night kept most people from exploring deeper into the Marshlands. However…some would journey there. Perhaps for fame, perhaps for the desire to explore the unknown…perhaps for sheer stupidity. Those who journey deep into the swamp are never seen again.

The several powerful gangs that ran the Skull Gulch were responsible for the ruin state of Fort Spire during the Civil War between the Skull Gulch Gangs and the Fort Spire Troops. The two groups participated in a devastating series of battles for control of the Aurora Hills and the Malachite mines.

After three months of the Fort being under siege by the Skull Gulch gangs, the Spire Troops pushed the gangs all the way back to the River, the natural border between Skull Gulch and the ruins of Aquatia, a lost civilization that depended on the river for survival. The fate of the tribe is a mystery to this day.

After the Skull Gulch Gangs were forced to give up any claim to the Aurora hills, they began raiding traveling merchants, rustle cattle, and steal from any unprotected target the gangs could find.

After the Malachite Rush, most people left Overlook, searching for the next big hit. Only a fraction stayed to set up lives. Twenty maybe thirty farms were set up surrounding Over Look. The Soil, surprisingly was fertile enough to go crops. Life went on. Work for money, work for food, work to live another day.

They moved on with life as the people flocked to Liberty Square, and Skull Gulch. The people would soon forget the Tribes that they kicked for the location of their town. They forgot their greedy past, but the Ancient Tribe would never forget the pioneers or their crimes.

The Ancient Tribes lead by their chieftain The Ancient One, wanted revenge. Their god, Modo, the god of Vengeance, War, and Darkness demanded brutal vengeance for the wrongs the Ancient Tribes had to endure. They would begin making weapons. Knives, spears, bow and arrows. The bloodshed would soon begin.

Four weeks after the relocation, twenty Ancient Tribe Warriors invaded Liberty Square, under cover of darkness. The sleeping town was unprepared for the Tribe. The Ancient Tribe Warriors proceeded to burn Main Street, the most profitable portion of the town, to the ground.

They would slaughter thirty men, women, and children until the Liberty Square people retaliated with massive gun fire, killing half of the Ancient Tribe’s forces. The Liberty Square gunmen perused the retreating Ancient Tribe on horseback, picking off the Indians with ease. A small party of seven shooters. Over confident, over reliant on their guns, naive.

The Townsfolk thought they had the Tribe on the run. Thought they were the hunters. Little did they know, they were the prey, chasing after the bait, about to encounter the true hunters. As the Tribe Warriors and the Liberty Square folk entered the Death Canyon territories, the trap was set in motion.

A hundred Ancient Tribe Warriors rose from their hiding. They appeared like ghosts from behind large rocks, shadows, and sand. Like the dead rising. All seven gunmen were sacrificed to Modo. Scalped, beheaded, torn to bits. The Ancient Tribe had lost any notion of ideas such as Mercy, respect, peace. Now they lived by death, blood, and war.

Seventy five of the tribe’s strongest warriors attacked Over Look, the prize. Wanting their sacred land back. Willing to kill every last one of the town folk that kicked them out from their rightful homes. They marched on the Town.

The town did their best to barricade their town. Every man that could hold a gun joined up with Sheriff Velmur. They would serve as the only defense for the town since Fort Spire had it’s hand’s full with the Civil war.

They fought on rooftops, in stores, on the streets. Bullets, arrows, spears, knives whizzing in the air. The women and children hid in the underground storm shelters, listening to the battle above.

Buildings were set on fire; animals torn to pieces, bodies littered the streets. Madness, confusion, fear.

After a full night of war, the Ancient Tribe Warriors retreated. Overlook was spared. Though many homes were destroyed, many of the defenders dead or wounded, the town was still standing….victorious.

The Ancient One, outraged by his troops retreat, banished the leader of the Warriors from the tribe. Never to show his face again to his tribe, to his family, to his people. Never to return to Death Canyon.

The banished Tribesman was from then on called Outcast. Rejected by his own people. Outcast would roam the Prairie Lands searching for any traveling Town’s folk. He vowed to kill every last one of them. He would hunt them down no matter where they traveled, and slaughter them like animals, for he blamed them for his banishment. Though the Fort Spire would repeatedly search the Prairie Lands, they would never be able to find the elusive Outcast.

Here lies the history that took place before this story. The tension, the state of the towns, the memories. The history is important to understand…for so much of the Story is brought about due to the dark past of the State. Gangs, War Tribes, Witches, livestock vanishing from their stables and ranches during the night, and strange lights in the sky.

All of these would come into play in the stories that would be known as...

The Good, The Bad, and The Chaos.

Characters in order of Appearance.

Velmur as Sheriff Velmur

ClowntheJester as The Clown

Drakkoniss as Drake Ness

Warpro2 as War

Sportox as Pestilence

Thundersmite as Thunder

Jae as Ms. Jae

The Dealer as The Dealer

Qyp as The Qyp

FireBlaze300 as The Raging Inferno

Celestin as Sylvester Tin

Atroxia as Artie Lion

Artisa as Isabel Lion

Gray Silhouette as The Silhouette

Strebor Goldenstein as Doc Strebor

Range as The Ranger

Charries as Colonel Charries

More to come.

< Message edited by Clown the Jester -- 3/28/2012 22:02:51 >
AQW Epic  Post #: 1
6/25/2011 22:46:22   
Clown the Jester

Story One: The Rise of Legends and Nightmares

Chapter one: Madness Out of Darkness.

Sheriff Velmur sat in his uncomfortable wood chair, reading yesterday’s newspaper, his heels of his boots were leisurely up on top of his desk. A small melting candle flickered next to his boots, the only source of light in the small sheriff's courters.

Four small cells behind his desk, a pair of heavy shackles hanging on a wall to his right.

All cells empty. The town seemed to have been steering clear of trouble for the last two months. No doubt due to all the Skull Gulch gangs being thrown out of town. Now all there was for a sheriff to do was to break up the occasional fight, or protect merchant wagons from Ancient Tribe attacks or Skull Gulch Gangs.

Velmur tired eyes scanned one of the few articles on the blasted expensive news print.

Another nutcase claiming to see a bright green light flying around in the sky. That was the…hold on…the seventh? No…no eighth “Man from Mars” sighting the papers reported on. When was the last time he read some news worth reading? Nothing but Old Wives Tales, just like the stories of the Lady Spider.

The Sheriff tossed the rubbish of a newspaper on his desk, leaning back in his chair, stretching his arms, and letting out a loud moan.

A combination of lack of sleep, and disgust at what was considered news.

“Men from Mars,” Sheriff Velmur scoffed under his breath to himself.

Sheriff Velmur wore a blue ten gallon hat over his bald head, tilted slightly over his eyes. Over his pale blue button shirt, he wore a simple grey vest, his sheriff’s badge pinned to one side. At his belt, his Calvary Revolver laid in it’s hostler, ready for action at any second.

The sheriff’s eyes always appeared to be in a squinting as if he could not see what was infront of him. Though lack of sight would be hard to believe since the man buck shot a gun firing idiot stranger in the hand, forcing the moron to drop his gun without killing the kid.

Sheriff Velmur was on the short side, but he was tough as they came.

Broke the jaw of a giant of a man who hit a defenseless child three years back. One punch and large bully collapsed to the ground like a sack of bricks.

Though Velmur was willing to shoot or injure anyone who threatened the peace, he always tried to find a peaceful solution to the problems he had to deal with before he reached for his gun.

Sheriff Velmur was chosen as sheriff because he promised to bring Peace. He promised to clear out the gangs, the trouble makers, he promised order.

During his time as Sheriff, he kicked out most of the Skull Gulch Gang influences he was elected to remove, lead the defense of Overlook against the Ancient Tribe Warrior sieges.

Velmur sat in his empty work place. The cells empty, no deputies. Silence. This was the time of day he enjoyed the most. The time were the entire town was at peace. Order.

Naturally, Sheriff Velmur was yanked out of his peaceful state of mind by some sort of creaking, old cart, or wagon being drawn just outside his door.

He shouldn't have been surprised. Whenever a man was the most a peace, some blasted fool had to ruin it for him.

The noise sounded like a creaking gate that was given an extra helping to the rusted supply.

The Racket was so loud. Seemed almost like a crime for disturbing the peace.

Velmur couldn’t help but pray that the owner of the pile of junk would hurry on past and stop disrupting the tranquility of the night…but no…whoever was outside had stopped outside the Jail cells, knocking on the locked door.

Visiting so late? Whoever this was, they didn’t seem to be in a panic that required immediate assistance from the Sheriff.

Velmur sat up, heading towards the door, his hand instinctively gripping his gun handle.

Whoever was outside continued to knock against the door.

Velmur stood in front of the door; his instincts were screaming at him that something was not right.

“Who’s out there?” he called out, drawing his gun out from his holster, his other hand slowly unlocking the door.

From the other end of the door, a voice hissed,

“Just a neighbor wishing to do his duty and report a crime.”


Sheriff Velmur let out a cry, as the door slammed against his face, being kicked forward by the stranger outside.

Velmur fell on his back, blood trickling down out his nostrils.

“That’s right sir,” the strange man continued, strolling into Velmur’s home, swinging a long purple hook handle cane around in his skinny fingers . “I’m here to report a sheriff being kidnapped by a man who may or may not be in the mood for taking home live bait. Heh heh heh heh.”

“What in the…” Velmur started, cut off when he saw the face of his assailant.

Like looking at the face of a ghost…or the Devil…maybe both.

The man…if he was a man and not some foul demon had pail white skin…white as a ghost. His wild spiked hair, was a dark purple, covered by a purple bowler hat tilted down as if resting on his eyebrows. His red lips were stretched grotesquely into a grin that would give the boogeyman nightmares.

His eyes…Dear God…Like looking into the eyes of insanity. Madness… No sympathy. Cold, demented eyes…wide…dark purple the same as his hair. There was something inhuman about the pupils…like small slits in his blood shot eyeballs…almost reptilian.

The creature before Velmur was as thin as a skeleton, light purple button up dress shirt, covered by a violet vest, with a dark purple Tombstone coat. His shoes, bow tie, fingerless gloves were purple as well.

“What’s the matter Hombre?” the freak hissed, his grin widening. “You look surprised to see me! Didn’t ya know you would be one of the first I would hunt down after I escaped the Paddy Wagon? Heh heh heh. You look as though your actually surprised to see your old chum.”

“Look Mister,” Sheriff Velmur snapped back, raising his gun up, aiming at the creature’s demented eyes. “I don’t know who you are, but if you have any brain you should back off before I blow your brain out!”


Clown? What was this? Who was this raving madman? His voice…somehow seemed familiar…not an exact match. But something from his voice seemed to trigger an old memory. But Velmur could not remember which old memory.

The Clown licked his fingers wrapping his wet finger down on the lit candle plunging the room into darkness.

As Velmur’s eyes struggled to adapt to the darkness, the Clown snapped his fingers, moving to the side of the open doorway. Velmur watched two figures walk into the room from outside.

Two absolutely stunning women. Young beautiful women dressed in matching violet ruffled skirts, purple dress tops and corsets, purple high heeled shoes with three in heels. Over their carefully brailed pony-tails, violet top hats, tilted to the sides covering the top of their golden hair. They wore no make up…none was needed.

Both girls held small umbrellas, leaning them against the wood floor like just like the hideous freak and his cane. Even with the poor lightening, the two flawless women seemed to sparkle like sunlight.

Velmur stared at the two identical twins with disbelief. Exactly the same…except one had a green bow around her arm, the other had a dark purple.

What were two beautiful ladies such as these doing with such grotesque company?

“Sheriff, Say hello to my Lovely Ladies,” The Clown exclaimed, pointing his cane at his female company. “Sheriff Vemur, meet Mary and Andrews. HEE HEE HEE HA HA!”

The two women smiled warmly at the Sheriff, taking their place left and right of the Clown their eyes twinkling like stars.

“Mary, Andrews,” The Harlequin continued pointing his cane at the stunned Velmur. “MEET THE DEAD MEAT!”

All at once, the smiles on the two ladies vanished, replaced by cold stares. The two woman began to advance on the sheriff.

“Hold on ladies,” Velmur cried out, pulling himself back to his feet, pointing his gun away from the advancing women. “I don’t want no trouble. If the Clown has a score to settle, then let us settle it like gentlemen. I don’ t hit wo…”

Velmur was cut short by two sharp kicks from the Ladies driving their heels into Velmur’s stomach.

Velmur let out a gasp of surprise and pain as he was sent backwards, the powerful blows knocked the Sheriff backwards against his desk.

“I suggest you learn fast Sheriff,” The Clown remarked as the two women raised their umbrellas, knife blades springing out from the umbrella tips. “Cause these fine and quite lovely women have no problem with gutting men.”

The Ladies charged at the dazed Velmur, their weapons raised.

Velmur aimed his gun about to squeeze on the trigger.

One of the ladies, the one with the purple bow, knocked the gun out of his hand with a sudden kick, the revolver was sent across the room. The green bowed lady stabbed her umbrella down at Velmur’s chest.

The Sheriff instinctively rolled out of the way, the weapon’s blade pierced through the wood floor.

Without hesitation, Velmur leapt back to his feet, swinging his fist at the lovely assassin’s face.

To his amazement, the Lady blocked his attack with her arm, returning an attack of her own, her palm slammed into Velmur’s chin.

Velmur swore as he stumbled backwards, his jaw, stinging like crazy.

The lady with the purple bow hit him from behind, ramming her elbow into the back of the Sheriff’s skull.

Velmur let out another cry, swinging his arm around trying to strike the woman behind him.

The Lady bent backwards, making a perfect 90 degree angle, Velmur’s attack swung inches above her.

The other female assassin slashed her knife umbrella across Velmur’s face.

Velmur’s hand instinctively tried to cover his bleeding face.

He rammed his shoulder into the Lady, knocking her over. Velmur charged at the second Lady like a bull, roaring in anger.

Mary…or perhaps Andrews, shot out her leg, her heel slamming into Velmur’s cheek. The kick toppled the Sheriff backwards.

Velmur sluggishly pulled himself to his feet. The two ladies paced around him. One in front of him, one behind.

The two ladies began to fire a barrage of kicks, punches, slashes from their umbrellas as the disoriented Velmur.

The Sheriff did his best to block as many attacks as possible. But the twins were far too fast, their attacks were brutal. Unlike anything Velmur had ever seen.

After a dozen more kicks in the chest, another slash across Velmur’s bleeding face, and a bone breaking punch to the forehead, Velmur collapsed to the ground.

Beaten, broken, bleeding exhausted.

One of the Ladies forced a small vial of a green liquid into Velmur's throat, making Velmur drink it.

The Sheriff's body went limp. Unable to move...unable to speak...unable to do anything. He was alive but he seemed to be as stiff as a corpse.

The Clown strolled over to the twins; the two ladies wrapped their fair arms around his.

“AREN’T THEY JUST PEACHIE?” the Harlequin exclaimed.

Velmur tried his best to sit up, sliding back down.

He wanted to fight...or run...or cry out for help....but he couldn't. For some reason

“Say Sheriff, you don’t look so good,” The Clown commented with a smirk, pushing his two escorts out of his way with a rough shove. He handed one his purple cane. “Would you like me to bandage you up? Can’t have you in such a nasty state like that for your little trip.”

He walked over to Velmur, kicking him across the face with his shoe.

Velmur let out a groan of pain, spitting out a broken tooth.

“WHOOPS!” The Clown laughed, stepping over the Sheriff. “I do apologize, how clumsy of me. Heh heh heh.”

The Clown stopped in his tracks looking down at Velmur’s discarded gun.

“Interesting shooter ya got there,” the demented harlequin exclaimed, picking up the weapon, studying it carefully in his hands. “We’ll just say this is your present for my party. HOW THOUGHTFUL OF YOU! I LOVE IT! SO THOUGHTFUL OF YOU SHERIFF! WA HA HA HA!”

The Clown shoved the gun into his coat, smiling down at Velmur.

That voice, Velmur thought to himself. Where do I know that voice? It sounds like a broken version of a voice of someone I encountered in the past…but who?

The Clown strolled over to the shackles hanging on the wall, seizing them in his hands.

“Just tell me where it hurts. Heh heh heh,” The Clown chuckled, clamping the handcuffs behind Velmur’s wrist. “Funny you don’t recognize me Sheriff, I mean sure my looks have changed for the better, and I’m now in more festive spirits since my little grand performance at the Circus. Of course you weren’t sheriff then.”

Velmur’s eyes widened, back in focus. His mind jumped back six years when he heard a disturbance in a traveling Circus. What he found was a crazed man who would be sent to prison for three years until he escaped his cell and had disappeared since.

“Dear God,” Sheriff Velmur murmured under his breath.

“There we go,” The Clown hissed, dragging Velmur by his neck. “Remember me, don’t you? Yes…all those years ago. It was my capture that made your career as sheriff wasn’t it? Heh heh heh.”

Velmur desperately tried to struggle but his body was far to damaged to respond properly. He was as limp as a log, and he hated it. Feeling useless.

His captor dragged the Sheriff out into the night, towards a small purple wagon being drawn by an ox that had the brand of a smiling face on her neck.

“All aboard,” The Clown hissed lifting Velmur’s limp body over his shoulders with surprising strength for such a sickly thin character.

Velmur let out a muffled groan as he was tossed into the back of the wagon, his head hitting against the side.

Mary and Andrews silently climbed into the driver’s seat, taking the reins in their hands. Their master hopped into the back of the wagon landing beside Velmur.

“Comfy?” The Harlequin asked his captive, with a mischievous grin. “Good. It’s a long ride back home, but don’t worry, you won’t be alone. We have so many other friends to invite to my party. I can’t wait can you?”

The Clown pressed Velmur’s gun against the Sheriff’s forehead as the wagon began to move.

"SO MANY OLD FRIENDS I'M JUST DIEING TO REUNITE WITH!" The Clown snarled, pressing the gun harder into Velmur's skull.

Velmur prayed that someone would hear them and come out to save him. He remembered this lunatic. He remembered...he wished to God he didn't...but he did.

God help him.

“I hope you like parties cause this is going to be most delightful,” he hissed at the terrified Velmur. “We’ll be sure to have a bang. WA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!”

< Message edited by Clown the Jester -- 2/12/2013 23:08:54 >
AQW Epic  Post #: 2
1/15/2012 20:57:46   
Clown the Jester

Chapter 2: The Road Few Traveled

Drake Ness whipped the sweat from his forehead, his black cowboy hat giving him little protection from blazing hot sun overhead.

Drake was a tall well built man. He wore a black cowboy apparel, black boots covering his feet. A dark red undershirt covered by a black leather vest. Around his neck, a blood red handkerchief. His face was blistering red from the burning sun, his chin had the quality of a recently shaved beard.

Despite the intense heat, and his desire to catch his breath, Drake knew he couldn’t stop to rest. Bad enough he was journeying through the Grass Lands without the company of a gun, but to travel alone through the never ending Prairie at night was plain suicide.

Even in prison, Ness heard the stories. Tales of The Outcast slaughtering anyone dumb enough to travel the Prairie Lands at night. He heard other stories of The Beast coming out at night and hunting anything that moved. Said to have torn a fully grown mountain lion apart.

However these threats were not Drake’s motivation for wishing to be in Overlook before Nightfall was to avoid him. The Silhouette. The man…if he was a man and not the spirit people claimed him to be.

The Silhouette only came out at night. When he did, ten maybe twenty bandits, gunmen, criminals would either die or locked up at some prison.

It was the Silhouette that took Drake Ness down those many years ago when he was a member of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Gang. Back when he made ends meat by highway robbery, shooting people. Back when everyone called him Drakkonic Evil. His fellow gang members were Pestilence, Famine, and War. He…would be called Drakkonic Evil…or Death.

He remembered riding his horse into Overlook after he robbed a bank and shot two uncooperative bank tellers. When out from the night sky fell a man. A man so dark that he seemed to blend in with the shadows around him. Before Drakkonic Evil could even blink, The Silhouette had knocked Drakkonic Evil off his horse, jamming a revolver under the gang member’s chin. The next thing Drakkonic Evil knew, he was in a prison cell in Liberty Square. He would spend the next three years in that cell until his prison sentence ended.

He was a free man. After all those years. With nothing left to call his own besides a hunting knife, and a rusted key.

Drake couldn’t help but glance behind, half expecting to see the vigilante behind him, appearing out from some shadow to drag Ness bag to jail.

Drake continued his hike, glancing up at the Sun. Almost noon; he should be able to make it to Out Look before Nightfall.

“Well, Well, Well,” A familiar voice called out from behind Drake Ness. “Look Boys here is the man of the hour, the one the only DEATH!”

Drake Ness turned out to see his former gang members, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

“War,” Drake acknowledged, wishing he had more weapons on him than just a hunting knife. “Long time.”

War smiled, a gold tooth glistening in the sunlight, down at Drake from his black stallion. The man was a giant, seven feet tall. Maybe seven and a half. His body was covered in impressive muscle covered in his black bandit costume.

Pestilence and Famine rode up to the left and right of Drake Ness, Famine raised his gun. A clear message. You try to run, you die.

“We didn’t know you were out of prison,” Famine lied. “If we did we would have caught up with you sooner. We never forget a friend.”

Famine was a fifthly man, his dark suit was wrinkled, covered in dirt. His face was hidden behind a dirty black beard. Despite his nick name, Famine had a large stomach that stuck out from under his gray button down shirt.

“Especially a friend that owes us money,” Pestilence added his eyes boring into Drake’s. “Lots of money.”

Pestilence was dressed entirely in a murky green suit. Wrapped around his head was a green bandana.

“I don’t owe you a cent!” Drake Ness declared, pointing a finger at Pestilence. “You three robbed me of everything I had while I was in prison. All my share of the profits we made. I have anything left to my name besides what I carry on me.”

War hopped off his horse, advancing slowly, menacingly towards Drake.

“You sure hid a lot of money back at your old hideout,” War said coolly. “But you didn’t hide it all in that spot. Did you? You must have had a second hiding spot. Maybe that’s where you are going now.”

“That must be where you’re going,” Famine wheezed, pausing to let out a loud cough. “I would hope you would share your money with your old friends. If you didn’t…well…that would rather insulting in my mind.”

“Almost nightfall in a few hours,” War added, glancing up at the sky. “You know, I heard that the Silhouette has been roaming this area. Same as the Outcast. You wouldn’t want to run into them all alone would you? The Outcast got one of Famine’s friends last week, ain’t that right Famine?”

“Sure did,” Famine replied a crooked smile breaking through his beard. “Slit my friend’s throat. From ear to ear. His insides torn out.”

“And the Silhouette,” War continued, a massive hand whipping the sweat from his forehead. “They say he never forgets someone he takes down. Stalks them even after they’ve done their time. Watches them like a ghost. You wouldn’t want him to go after you again would you?”

“A shame if something would happen to our pal Drakkonic Evil,” Pestilence said, his eyes narrowing. “Our good friend Mr.Death. You wouldn’t want to be alone out here. You could get hurt.”

“But that’s why you have good friends like us,” Famine replied. “We could protect you…”

Famine paused covering his mouth with his filthy sleeve, letting out another cough.

“Sure we could,” War continued, cracking his knuckles. “Keep you safe and sound from the Silhouette. We could keep you safe on your way to Overlook. All we ask is a little pay to make our endeavors worth it.”

Drake glared at his former companions. Greedy backstabbing lowlifes.

“You won’t get anything out of me,” Drake growled up at War.

“Tell us where you’re hiding your share Drakkonic,” Pestilence snarled, leaping off his horse, drawing his gun. “No games. Tell us or die!”

“Not on your life,” Drake Ness barked back, his hand sliding into his pocket, drawing out his hunting knife. “You vermin steal my share that I earned fair and square, and now you are trying to steal any other crumbs I have left! I’ll kill you all! You backstabbing Leeches!”

Drake made a wild slash at Pestilence, positive he could slit the greedy bandit’s throat before Pestilence could pull the trigger to his revolver.

Drake’s knife was halted two inches from Pestilence’s neck. War seized Drake’s arm in his massive hand, lifting Drake off the ground like he weighed nothing. The giant tossed Drake into the air. Drake rolled as he slammed to the ground, his shoulder aching, his knife slipped out of his grasp, disappearing into the grass.

“That wasn’t so polite of you Drakkonic Evil, threatening your pals like that,” War smirked, cracking his knuckles. “Maybe you will be more friendly if I tear your arms out of their sockets.”

Drake Ness scrambled to his feet, slamming his fist into War’s face. The massive man stumbled backwards, a fist over his bruise.

Pestilence aimed his gun at Drake about to fire. Drake swung out his boot, kicking Pestilence’s fire arm out of his hand, followed by a punch into Pestilence’s gut. Famine held his gun ready, waiting for a clear shot at Drake Ness, his aim blocked by Pestilence.

Pestilence head butted Drake. Drake staggered back, Pestilence made a wild swing for Drake’s head. Drake blocked the swipe with his arm, ramming his elbow into Pestilence’s face. Pestilence fell to the ground, his nose bleeding.

As Famine prepared to shoot Drake, Drake slapped Famine’s horse’s back, causing the Horse to swing wildly in the air, throwing Famine of his saddle, and into a clump of grass.

War slammed his fist down on Drake’s head, knocking Drake to the ground.

Drake tried to pull himself to his feet, but War stomped his foot down on Drake’s back pinning him to the ground.

“You’re dead Drakkonic!” War roared, tightening his grip around Drake Ness’s throat. Drake tried to struggle, tried to pull War’s fingers away from his neck, but War’s grip was like iron. Drake let out strangulated noises as War tightened his fingers.


War released Drake’s neck, scrambling back to his horse, Pestilence and Famine following his lead.

As the gang galloped off into the Sunset, Drake turned his head to locate the owner of the gun that scared away War and his gang.

Sitting in a wagon with a smoking shotgun in his powerful arms, a powerful looking man with dark skin stared down at Drake Ness. He wore a heavy dark apron, the kind Blacksmith used. Such an occupation would explain the man’s powerful looking arms.

“You alright?” The man asked. “Those thugs did a number on you.”

“Fine,” Drake replied, retrieving his knife as well as Pestilence’s discarded gun. Drake was careful not to make eye contact to with the fellow. Careful to hide his face under his hat. The last thing Drake needed was to run into someone he stuck up in the past. Especially if that someone had a loaded shotgun in his hands.

“Not many people walk across the Grasslands so close to night fall,” the man continued, staring down suspiciously at Drake. “Only three kinds of people in my mind. Merchants, bandits, and the stupid. Which one are you friend?”

“The unlucky kind,” Drake responded, depositing Pestilence’s revolver into his empty gun holster. “I’m on my way to Overlook. You going that way?”

“As a matter of fact I am,” the man replied. “What business do you have in Outlook?”

“My family lived there,” Drake answered. “Hoping to escape the strain of living in a city. Hoping to go back to my old home.”

The man paused to think this through.

“You have a name?” he finally asked.

“Ness,” Drake replied, hoping this stranger wouldn’t recognize it.

“Well Ness, hop on,” the man said, pulling Drake up next to him with one arm. “Most people call me Thunder.”

Less than an hour later, Drake Ness was in Overlook. The place hadn’t changed since the last time he was here. Jae’s General Store to his left, Sheriff Velmur’s office to his right, Beleen’s Barbershop Boutique down the next street. Doc Black’s house where he attended to the sick and injured. As well as Corperal Bank.

Drake Ness’s first stop would be at his parent’s house. The place where they perished in a fire. The house was slightly outside of town. Drake walked up towards the decrepit house. Most of the roof missing from the fire. The small wooden log cabin was still holding well despite the damages from the fire and neglect. Drake went around to the back of the house, all that was there wilted away weeds and a dried out well.

Drake took the crank that operated the old well. He wheeled up the bucket, along with a large wooden chest he hid down there years ago. It was the only thing his old gang could not find. The box’s integrity was still in surprisingly good shape. The lock still holding. Keeping anyone besides Drake away from it’s treasures.

Drake pulled out his rusted key, unlocking the padlock tossing it carelessly behind him. Drake opened his box, relieved to find everything still as he left it.

Twenty-three Liberty Bonds, his old hunting rifle along with it’s ammunition, an extra revolver, and his lasso.

Drake began to calculate how much money he would need to get back to Skull Gulch. There he could join another gang desperate for men. Make money through them. They would also serve as protection from the Silhouette…at least Drake hoped.

Since War and his boys were after him, Drake could not go by means of the Prairie Grasslands. The quickest and cheapest way would be taking the train to the River. From there he would need a horse to make it all the way to Skull Gulch without being the target of the never ending supply of desperate bandits.

The train ride would cost five Liberty Bonds. The supplies he would need such as food and water would take at least fifteen more Bonds, the cost for the ferry that would take him across the river would be another 5 Bonds. And the horse…the horse he would need to be a candidate for the gangs in Skull Gulch would cost at least 40 liberty bonds.

He needed much more money. Much more. Not a problem. He was a thief. He could easily get it. Hopefully he would be able to get to Skull Gulch in two days.

Drake traveled back to Outlook, lasso wound up into the back of his belt, his extra revolver in his gun holster opposite to Pestilence’s revolver. His hunting rifle back in his parent’s house. He would not need it for what he was planning. Drake was careful to avoid any of the inhabitants of the town on his way to Jae’s General Store. As he approached the building, he noticed three crows roosting on the roof of the building cawing loudly their eyes fixed on Drake Ness.

Drake pushed the door open; a small bell overhead rang as he entered. Shelves everywhere, with every supply one could possibly need. Food, seeds for growing crops, tools, and much more.

“I would suggest you reconsider my offer, little lady,” a male’s voice hissed over the selves of supplies. “Such fine merchandise is rather rare in these parts. Their value would be tremendous.”

“I won’t sell such garbage in my store!” a female’s voice replied. “I know what that stuff does to a person’s mind, to a person’s body! Get out of my store.”

Drake strolled down an aisle of Yergen’s Own BaconGum and AfterBoom Kits.

“Do you, now? You think you truly know what this does,” The male voice questioned. “I don’t think so. These products have quite an interesting effects Ms. Jae. Many would kill for a sample of it.”

Drake came upon the arguing pair. Behind the store counter stood a dark haired girl wearing a blue and black skirt.

Ms. Jae. Drake heard some stories about her. Stories of her mother dying from the Chuddle Fever. Her twin sister Raeven, going insane, killing her own father in the night and being locked up in an asylum. Jae was adopted as a child by Ms. Margret, owner of the largest ranch in Outlook.

While they were arguing, Ms. Jae was reaching for something under the counter while keeping an eye on her mysterious customer.

Opposite her stood a man dressed in a business suit. Fine pressed and very professional effect. His back was to Drake, obscuring his view of the Stranger’s face. He was tall, and somewhat thin. However his posture radiated control, authority. The posture of someone who does not like to have his time wasted.

“I said get out of my store,” Ms. Jae ordered again, pulling out a shot gun from under her counter, aiming at the Stranger’s face.

“I was rather hoping you would be inclined to agree to my generous proposition,” The Stranger hissed, his tone showed no sign of the gun. “However I am sure there are others out there who would accept my offer.”

With that he turned around to face Drake Ness.

“Isn’t that right Drake Ness?” The Stranger asked his eye boring into Drake’s. “Plenty of people.”

Drake stared back, frozen like a statue. Something was wrong about this man. Something terribly wrong. Something…somehow inhuman. It was no deformity, nor was it the way he stood. It…it was something else…but what was it?

Drake studied The Stranger’s face.

No freckles, no dimples, no eyebrows, no eyelashes, no wrinkles. No blemishes besides a long jagged scar that ran down the right side of his face. A deep cut. Possibly a knife...or perhaps an animal attack. The Stranger had his hand extended out, in his palm, he held a handful of strange seeds, though they didn’t seem like any kind Drake ever saw, and his parents were farmers.

Over his neat, brown hair, the stranger wore a black top hat. There was something unsettling about the man. His eyes seemed to have no pupils, as if someone placed a white piece of film over them. Emotionless, dulled, no signs of life. As if his eyes were soulless.

In the corner of his mouth, the Stranger’s lip pulled up as if in a smirk.

“Planning something for tonight Drake?” He asked, almost amused. “This town practically closes around this time. No one in the streets, no one in the shops. No witnesses, no mobs, no trouble. Word is the Sheriff has gone missing. No one to watch over this town. A quiet town at this hour. Quiet as a Ghost Town. Why a person could steal the entire town and no one would find out until the next morning. Interesting, isn’t it?”

Ms. Jae swung out her gun, pressing the barrel against the Stranger’s neck. The Stranger hissed like a snake, his teeth gritting together, the veins in the side of his head pulsing. A look of pure rage and hate.

“I’m only going to tell you one more time. Get out of my store,” Ms. Jae whispered, her finger about to pull the trigger. “Or I’ll put a bullet in you.”

The Stranger deposited the seeds into the breast pocket of his black jacket, pausing to straighten his tie.

“Oh my dear,” he hissed, eyes still boring into Drake’s. “You won’t be the one putting a bullet in someone.”

The Stranger slowly strolled away from the counter in the direction of the door. As he passed Drake he placed a small piece of paper into Drake’s hand.

“We’ll see each other real soon Drake,” The man hissed into Drake’s ear. “You have a good night now.”

The Stranger exited out the door, Drake glanced down at the paper in his hand. It was some kind of a card. On it was one world.


“Can I help you?” Ms. Jae asked placing her shot gun back under the counter.

Drake quickly stuffed the small card into his pocket.

“I would like some supplies for a trip,” Drake said, his eyes shifting from the counter where Ms. Jae hid the gun to the metal cash register. How much money might she have in it? More than enough for him to make it to Skull Gulch...much more. “Some food, water. No perishable food. I don’t know how long the trip will be.”

Drake’s eyes locked on a poster on the wall opposite him and Ms. Jae. It was an old wanted poster of him. Drake Ness/Drakkonic Evil/Death. Under a faded illustration of Drake, it read:

Wanted for Robbery, Murder, and Kidnapping. Reward, 200 Liberty Bonds.

Drake quickly took his eyes off the poster, one quick look at Ms. Jae, and he could tell she knew who he was.

Drake knew this complicated matters. He had to get that money. It was the only way he could restart his life. Only way he could survive.

But he knew how people acted around a convicted felon. To them, he wasn’t a man. In their eyes they saw an animal. Something to be feared. To be hated. These people preached of mercy, justice. But they didn’t act on it. They would rather see people like him burn. Burn because his kind would sometimes be desperate. They would do things they would not usually do.

She would tell the Sheriff. Tell the world. Then everyone would be after Drake Ness again. Wanting to lock him up. To see him rot.

He could probably draw out his revolver before she could reach for her shot gun. But then he would have to shoot her. And shooting someone made a very loud noise.

Ms. Jae’s eye switched back and forth from the poster to Drake. She stared silently at him. Her eyes…they were not a look of fear…but…sympathy…perhaps even compassion.

Ms. Jae smiled slightly asking, “Do you have enough money for the trip?”

Drake was taken back. What? Money? What was she going on about?

“I have the money for the supplies,” Drake replied hastily, fumbling in his pocket, drawing out five liberty bonds. “I can pay for them.”

“Had a tough break?” Ms. Jae asked, carefully gathering some canned food. “I don’t remember seeing you before. What are you doing here?

“This trip of yours,” Ms. Jae began, filling a flask with water from a barrel. “What is this trip for?”

“Starting over,” Drake answered, somewhat true.

“Demons from your past?” Ms. Jae asked. “I know what that can be like.”

“Just starting over,” Drake snapped back, somewhat annoyed by her calmness.

“I heard from Thunder about a man being attacked in the Grasslands by a gang of bandits,” Ms. Jae continued.

“Wouldn’t know anything about that,” Drake lied.

He wasn’t fooled. She was waiting for the right second to draw out that shot gun like she did towards that Dealer fella. She was waiting to shoot his brains out.

“Thunder said the man’s name was Ness,” Ms. Jae continued.

Drake felt like a stupid child. As soon as her back was turned, he would draw his gun, tie her up, gather her money along with the supplies. He would have to kill her. And that Thunder guy as well. They knew about Drake. He couldn’t go back to a cell. Couldn’t.

Ms. Jae took the five bonds from his hand outstretched hand.

“The total is three bonds,” Ms. Jae said opening her cash register. “I know starting over isn’t easy. Its hard. Trying to change. Not having anyone to rely on.”

“Don’t have much faith in people nowadays,” Drake replied, his hand slowly reaching down for his revolver while she had her attention on the cash register. “Better to just be alone. At least you can trust yourself.”

“Can you?” Ms. Jae asked, voice still calm. She has to know he was about to hold her up. She has to. “If you can’t trust others like you, how can you trust yourself?”

“What else do I have?” Drake asked softly.

Drake had shot men and women. He stole from children. Anything he had to do to stay alive. To live. But…for the first time…he was feeling true guilt.

“Faith in kindness,” Ms. Jae replied handing him his liberty bonds. “Good luck with starting over.”

She turned refilling some empty shelves with goods. Her back was to him. He could steal the cash register. He could kill her. Start over. Free of any threats. He could live again. Go to Skull Gulch.

Drake stared down at the money in his hands. His fingers trembling. In his hand he did not hold the two liberty bonds in change.

Drake thought he knew what people were. Greedy, vile, paranoid, hateful. Never showing kindness to those who strayed from the path. He thought all people were alike. But what he held in his hands defied all logic. All reason. Everything he thought he knew about people.

Drake left the store, food and flask in one hand, and the money Ms. Jae gave him.

Not two Liberty Bonds in change. What Drake held in his hand was Two Hundred Liberty Bonds.


Why would she be so kind to a man who was about to rob her? Drake asked himself. But he knew.

Ms. Jae’s two hundred Liberty Bonds were for the purchase of something no one else cared about. Ms. Jae bought his soul.

Drake felt ashamed for his crimes. For his sins. He prayed in his head for forgiveness. Never again.

He could no longer survive by crime. No longer by hurting others. No longer by stealing. He knew what he had to do. He had to use this precious money…to become and honest man.

< Message edited by Clown the Jester -- 1/15/2012 21:03:47 >
AQW Epic  Post #: 3
1/15/2012 20:58:59   
Clown the Jester

Chapter 3: In Captivity

“Wakey Wakey Sheriff. Heh heh heh,” A voice snickered, something struck the dreary Velmur across the face.

Velmur’s eyes snapped open, his nose stinging from being hit. Where was he? Why couldn’t he move his hands?

Sheriff Velmur seemed to be in a small animal cage wagon. The kind Circuses used to transport their animals. The wagon was filled with straw. Velmur could see the bugs crawling through the straw, the scratch smell filling his nostrils. It was night time, the cresent moon hanging in the night sky. Outside of his cage, Velmur could see a large worn out circus tent. Over the entrance flap was a sign that read,


Velmur struggle with his hands again. Something was holding them up. As if he was a puppet being supported by a marionette and strings. Velmur looked up; his hands were chained to the ceiling of his pen. Both chains linked to a large iron ring.

Sheriff Velmur tugged at the metal chains. He yanked the cuffs left and right, pulled and pulled at the bonds. He knew it was in vain. But he didn’t care. He tugged anyway. He thrashed in with the chains until they began to cut into his wrists. Of course, even if he somehow slipped out of the shackles, the surrounding cage bars were made to hold wild animals. More than capable of holding a man.

“Lovely Night wouldn’t you agree Sheriff?,” The Clown hissed, emerging from the shadows, lighting a lantern with a match. He dropping the lantern down on a bale of hay, and approached the animal cage. “Perfect for scary stories around a campfire.”

The Clown took a purple and green striped peanut bag out from under his bowler hat, glancing down at it’s contents.

“I have to say,” The Clown continued grinning up at Velmur. “This Circus may have lousy accommodations for the animals, but they serve great peanuts. Heh heh heh.”

Velmur leaped to his feet, his hands reaching for The Clown. The Freak was so close to the bars, he could reach through; snap the grinning Harlequin’s neck with his hands. But his hands were stopped short by the shackles around his wrists.

“Mind you they are kinda stale, ya know?” The Clown admitted, plucking a peanut out from the bag, examining it carefully as Velmur struggled. “Too dry. Makes Ya really thirsty.”

The shackles rattled nosily as Velmur tugged at his chains trying to stretch his hands as far as possible. He was so close, his finger tips were mere inches away from the Clown’s scrawny neck.

The Clown cracked the peanut’s shell in his fingers, tossing the nut calmly into his mouth. A taunting grin stretched across his demented face as he watched Velmur trying to throttle his neck.

“Mind you,” The Clown continued, nosily crunching on the treat. “They aren’t the only nuts that Ya gotta look out for in this place. Heh heh heh.”



The Clown swung the lantern through the bars, smashing it down on Velmur’s face, knocking the Sheriff off his feet, causing him to fall on a pile of stained hay.

“ODDS TO BOTKINS! Aren’t we the rowdy animal!” The Clown exclaimed, whipping the blood off his lantern with the back of his hand, the bag of peanuts under his arm. “And people wonder why we keep Sheriffs behind bars! HEE HEE HEE!”

Velmur spat blood from his mouth, his face still bruised from his scrapple with Mary and Andrews.

“So what do you want?” Velmur asked his voice surprisingly calm. “You want to kill me right?”

“Eventually,” The Clown answered, placing the lantern back on the bail of hay. “But first I have a little party in mind. Something to show there are no hard feelings…theeennn I gut you like a trout.”

“People will come looking for me,” Sheriff Velmur said, trying make his arms comfortable despite them being chained into the air. The Clown laughed, nearly choking on a mouthful of peanut shells. He spat them out from his mouth.

“That’s why I have goons to protect me from harm!” The Clown replied, plopping two more nuts into his mouth. “As a mater of fact…I think a few of em’ are stalking about…heh heh…like a stalk of beanstalk that stalks. Hee Hee! Maybe I should let you and them get more acquainted. OH GOONS!”

Two figures emerged from the Circus flaps, taking their place left and right of the Clown.

Two men...no far to generous a description.

The first wore black overalls over a light purple undershirt. His black hair slicked back behind his head, like an icecream cone, over his face…clown makecup. Similar to The Clown’s style. In his hands, the strange man wielded a large machete. A devilish grin across his face.

“The Qyp here,” The Clown began, motioning with his bag of peanuts at the strange man with the machete. “Joined me for the purpose of killing people. Any people. Men, Women, children, old, young, saint or sinner. He’s got a knack for it. Downright a natural dare I say!”

The Clown motioned to the second one. A man with wild red hair, spiking in all directions. His skin covered in dark burns. He wore a orange hood, over a dark red and orange vest and torn faded pants. In his hand he gripped a torch, staring at the flickering flames as if in a trance.

“His names The Raging Inferno, use to be the Fire Eater for this Circus when it was still up and running,” Clown continued, pausing to crunching loudly on another peanut. “Till he decided being a pyromaniac was even more fun.”

The Raging Inferno smirked, sticking his fingers into the torch’s flames, drawing out a orange flame flickering on his fingertip as if it was a candle. Velmur watched in amazement as Inferno seemed to toss the small ball of fire from hand to hand. If his skin was being burned, Inferno gave no sign of it. Inferno gave it a final toss in the air, and swallowed the ball of fire. The flame snuffed out. His smirk never fading.

“Love that trick! Any who, the rest of my merry band are busy doing some…chores. Heh heh heh,” The Clown turned his head to face The Qyp and The Raging Inferno. “You two have some errands to run yourself. We got an important guest who I’m just dying to make a Deal with. Don’t keep the man waiting!”

“Got it Boss,” The Qyp hissed, leaving with The Raging Inferno, disapeering into the darkness.

“We can’t keep the man waiting. No sir!” The Clown added, turning his attention back to Sheriff Velmur. “Whoops I nearly forgot you need your num nums don’t ya? Well I’m certain the Circus rules say not to feed the animals, but I didn’t go through the trouble of kidnapping you just to let you starve I have much bigger plans. SO LET THERE BE FEEDING TIME!”

The Clown took a handful of peanuts out from his small bag, and tossed it into Velmur’s cage, the peanuts bounced off the sheriff’s face.

“That should last you about a week,” The Clown muttered, surveying the eight peanuts laying in front of Velmur.

“I will get out of here,” Velmur muttered to himself. He refused to let the Clown win. Sheriff Velmur was not afraid of death, but he would not let this madman get the pleasure of killing him. Being in tight spots was a common occurrence in his line of work. He got out of them before, he would get out of this one. But he couldn’t let The Clown get into his head.

Velmur tiled his chained hand down at the peanuts. He was barley able to reach them. He ate only one. Both shell and nut. Careful to eat slowly. He refused to scarf it down like an animal in front of the giggling Harlequin. His stomach still growled. He was hungry, and cold. Velmur shivered as the Clown appeared to be turning away from him.

“Feeling cold sheriff?” The Clown asked, spinning back to face Velmur, lifting up the flickering lantern, holding it up to Velmur’s cage’s studying his captive in the red glow. “I would hate for my party guest to feel uncomfortable. Can’t let you get the sniffles on me! That would be most inhospitable of me.”

With that, The Clown tossed the lantern into Velmur’s cage. The glass around the flame shattered as it hit one of the bars. The Lantern landed on a pile of straw, the flames quickly spreading.

Sheriff Velmur pulled himself to his feet, backing as far as possible from the growing fire. All feeling of cold was gone, his body began to sweat from the sudden heat. The fire was spreading over the straw and hay, smoke filling Velmur’s lungs.

“Ah,” The Clown sighed with satisfaction, strolling away from the burning animal cage wagon. “All nice and warm now aren’t we? Better not doze off, wouldn’t want the hay bugs to bight. Could be fatal! Heh heh heh.”

Sheriff Velmur tried stomping at the flames with his shoe, but the fire was growing out of control. Velmur watched, wide eyed in fear as flames surrounded him. Smoke everywhere, the heat unbearable.

His clothes bursting into flames. The fire spreading up his body. The smell of burning flesh, the pain unbearable.


As the burning Velmur thrashed around in his cage like a wild animal, his body being consumed in the flames all that could be heard was…


< Message edited by Clown the Jester -- 1/15/2012 21:04:01 >
AQW Epic  Post #: 4
1/15/2012 21:00:02   
Clown the Jester

Chapter 4: The Dealer and The Hunter

Fifty cattle were grazing at Lion Ranch, under the watchful eyes of Drake Ness and Sylvester Tin. The humid unbearable heat burned mercilessly into the two Cowboys’ faces. Their throats sore and screaming for water, their skin itchy and irritable from their sweat. Their cowboy hats provided shade from the cruel sun, but no protection from the exhausting heat.

10 Liberty Bonds a week. Decent pay considering Drake had spent time in a prison. All he had to do was lead cattle to grazing areas and watch for bandits or coyotes. Rather easy job. He knew enough about Bandits that they would never strike at a Ranch during the day, and Coyotes rarely show themselves around these parts lately.

Drake Ness was mounted on a large black horse, his colt revolver in it’s holster, ready to be used at a moment’s notice. He left his hunting rifle back at his parents’ house because he would need to save the ammunition for hunting game. His companion, Sylvester Tin, sat on a gray stallion, the mare’s tail whipping at the pestering flies. The odd man was chewing at a blade of grass, the corner of his mouth curled into a friendly grin. He held in his hands an old guitar, strumming his hands over the strings to pass the time.

Sylvester was a thin fellow; his eyes were hidden under his long wild black hair. Never went anywhere without his trusty guitar in his arms. People claimed he could play his guitar nonstop for three days straight without food, drink, or rest. There was something unusual about Sylvester Tin. He had a good natured mischievous grin as if he knew something others didn’t. In fact his entire attitude was rather comical. Always bringing up the most random topics of discussion.

“So friend,” Sylvester called to Drake Ness, his fingers strumming a few impressive cords on his guitar. “How’d you get hired by The Lion Family? I always thought the Lady of the Ranch only hired the minimum hands required. Not that I don’t appreciate seeing a new face to talk to.”

“A friend recommended me,” Drake replied, pulling out a flask from his pocket and long drink from the refreshing water. “Simple as that.”

“Fair enough friends, fair enough. What do you think of Miss Lion’s children?” Sylvester asked with a mischievous laugh. “Young Ms. Isabel and Ms. Attie Lion. You must have seen them about the ranch.”

“What do you mean asking me something like that?” Drake asked, glancing away from the livestock to study Sylvester suspiciously. “Gossiping about our boss’s children does not seem like the brightest thing to do. We could lose our jobs.”

“A simple opinion of them won’t send us to the gallows friend,” Sylvester said with a laugh. “But you have to admit they are an interesting contrast for twins.”

“Contrast? They’re like day and night,” Drake Ness scoffed, taking another drink from his flask. “Ms. Isabel acts like a proper lady. Probably spoiled by those expensive dresses she wears all the time.”

“She’s got a real talent with the brush,” Sylvester added. “She’s always painting the land or the occasional people who come passing by. Did a portrait of me with my guitar without me even knowing. Heh. When she showed it to me I thought I was looking into a mirror. Ms. Isabel even let me keep it. She’s a sweet young lady.”

“I have no problem with her,” Drake said, his face darkening. “Her sister on the other hand…”

“Ah,” Sylvester exclaimed, obviously about to hear the news that he was looking for. “And what of dear Ms. Attie?”

“I’ve only been here two days,” Drake said, instinctively placing a hand on his gun holster. “And in those two days, she has tried to snatch my gun from me five times. The fifth time, when I told her to go pester someone else, she give me a sour look, and kicks me right in the shin and stomped off. Hurt like a horse kick.”

Sylvester threw back his head, letting out a wild laugh.

“I hope you don’t mind me asking,” Sylvester replied with amused curiosity. “But you seem like a stranger in these parts. I don’t recall your face in Overlook. Do you make friends that quick to be able to make a week’s wages here?”

“I lived here growing up,” Drake replied, handing the flask of water over to Sylvester. “Even after so many years, some people remember my face.”

“A person willing to go through all that troubles to get you a job?” Sylvester asked taking a grateful drink from the flask.

“Rare nowadays,” Drake asked with a snort of contempt. “Nowadays, people would rather lock you away and try and keep you out of sight and out of mind.”

“Some people are like that friend,” Sylvester replied, handing the flask back to Drake. “City folk mostly. First time I went to Liberty, I tried to ask for directions and not a single person met my eye. There, everyone’s giving you suspicious looks and dirty eyes. Couldn’t stand all that anger and suspicion. So I came here and never felt like moving on. The people here are much different. They give kind words; forgive mistakes, always willing to lend a helping hand.”

“Maybe,” Drake answered. “Met someone here who really helped me. Set me straight and got me out of a mess of trouble.”

“Must be that nice Ms. Jae. She’s a saintly sort. Doing good deeds to whomever she meets. She gave me this guitar you know,” Sylvester replied, patting the side of the instrument with fondness. “Probably my most prized possession.”

“It’s an old guitar. Looks like junk,” Drake scoffed. “All dirty, and a few dents in it. It’s even missing a few strings.”

“Indeed it is, friend. This guitar is old, rather lost that gleaming shine…it uh…it could have a family of rabbits living inside it for all I know,” Sylvester said with a light laugh. “But those dirt stains, those dents, and those lost strings…they are memories. Memories that keep me on the straight path. Good and bad memories. Memories that help me laugh when I’m low. Memories that help me remember what could have been.”

“Memories huh?” Drake asked, adjusting his red bandana that covered his neck.

“Sure friend, See the dirt covering the sides?” Sylvester exclaimed, holding up the guitar for Drake to see clearly. “Came from The Skull Gulch Swamps. A few years back, I went up there, searching for a friend of mine who went missing. The kind of friend who thought he could get enough to get involved with the wrong crowd and not get a knife in his back. I dragged him out of the town, being chased by Colonel Charries’s Vermin Gang. The name fits the nasty bunch of ruffians might I add. We lost them in the swamps and were heading on back home when I was stupid enough to drop the dang guitar in a pile of quicksand.”

“How did you manage to get it back?” Drake asked, noticing one of the cows wandering away from the heard.

Sylvester quickly galloped over to the cow and led it back to the rest of the heard. His horse trotted back to Drake and his steed.

“Well, I did what any fool would do when their most prized possession was going under,” Sylvester continued. “I dove into the quicksand after it. Can’t truly say it was the smartest move I ever made. Course once I reclaimed my guitar I realized I was stuck and was going under quick. Luckily my friend had grabbed me by my collar and tugged me out. Heh heh. Guess we were both were fools that night.”

Drake smiled, shaking his head in amusement. “What of the dents?” he asked pointing a finger at the guitar. Far off the two cowboys could hear a gathering chorus of bird letting out loud caws.

“These dents? Well, I was watching these cattle one day on my horse. It was a dull day, and there was a light breeze to cool me down from the blazing sun. Soon I found myself struggling to stay away. My eyelids getting heavy and such. Next thing I know, I napping away,” Sylvester said, with a grin. The odd man began to strum his hand over the strings as if to set the dark mood. “That is, until I heard this wild roar from behind me. My eyelids open, and I turn…and behind me is a big old mountain lion, bending its knees, about to pounce. Well, as you can imagine, my legs were shaking, my teeth chattering, and for some odd reason, my brain wouldn’t tell my hand to drop my guitar and pull out my revolver and shoot the vicious cat. The Mountain lion pounced at me and my horse, claws raised, jaws open wide, letting out a wild cry. I panic and the next thing I know, I raise my guitar over my head and smash it down on the cat’s head. To my surprise, the lion dropped to the ground and scurried off like a rabbit, yelping in surprise. Heh. You should have seen the big lion run off, as if it sat on a big fire. Though the blow did wreck my guitar good. So, my good friend Mr. Thunder fixed it right up. Right as rain…well besides those dents. But I rather like them dents. Anyway since that day I never went anywhere without…”

“Hold on a second,” Drake interrupted, his head snapping up in attention to something behind Sylvester. “Where’s that smoke coming from?”

“Smoke? Where? What smoke?” Sylvester asked, turning his head around. His facing turning serious.

Drake pointed up at a small trail of gray smoke leaking up from behind a hill. Maybe twenty or thirty yards off.

“Could be a fire spreading, and the winds blowing this way! The fire could burn down Ms. Lion’s Ranch” Sylvester called out urgently. “Quick! Go down there and figure out what’s causing that smoke! We may be able to put it out before it’s raging out of control! I’ll get some shovels and buckets of water! We got to hurry! GO! GO GO!”

Drake’s horse sprung into action, galloping full speed towards the smoke. The smoke did not seem to be growing bigger. However…who knew if that could change? The horse began to gallop up the hill. Closer and closer.

Fire….fire. Drake’s mind went back to the night that fire broke out at his home so many years ago. Coughing from all the smoke filling his lungs, his family’s screams filling his ears. The intense heat at his skin. His eyes unable to penetrate the dark black smoke that filled the house. Red hot flames spreading across the roof…the creaks of wood failing under weight. Then…the loud crash of the roof collapsing. Followed by silence. No more crackling fire. No more creaking roof. No more screams. Drake Ness was alone.

As Drake’s horse galloped closer and closer to the source of the smoke, Drake could hear the constant caws of birds growing louder. As Drake’s horse reached the top of the hill, Drake found the source of the smoke.

A camp fire.

“Come on down Mr. Drake,” the man sitting in front of the campfire called out. “You hungry? I have plenty of food to share, and I could use a friend like you to talk to.”

Drake Ness recognized the man in black. It was the strange man that was arguing with Ms. Jae in the general store two days back. The man who gave Drake the card that read Dealer. The Strange man sat on a log, poking the fire with a long stick. Next to the man’s feet were a silver kettle, a bright shinny cup of fine china, and a bowl filled with soup.

Surrounding the strange man were a dozen black crows, letting out loud caws and pecking the ground with their dark beaks. Their screeching and chirps echoing in Drake Ness’s head. The Cowboy hesitated, staring at the bizarre murder of crows. Suddenly all the crows stopped their cries and all at once, turned their heads to stare at Drake. Their blood red eyes were all on cowboy. Drake stared down at the murder of crows, his gut telling him not to join the man. Telling him to turn his horse around and get as much distance as possible between the mysterious figure and him.

However, Drake obediently hopped off his horse and walked down the hill to the campfire. Drake sat down next to the strange man in black, his shoulders hunched, hands gripped tightly together. The two sat there in silence. The two stared into the fire. The flames flickering, the crackling of burning wood. In spite of the merciless sun, the humid air that was earlier baking his skin like a stove, even though he was sitting in front of a camp fire…Drake felt suddenly cold. Icy cold. He could feel his body begin to shiver.

“Thought you would be back in Skull Gulch by now,” The Strange man said, bending down to pick up the kettle and the cup. “Thought you came back here for your gun and to pick up some cash.”

“Plans changed,” Drake replied, his eyes locking on the fire.

“How odd,” The figure commented, holding up the kettle to Drake Ness. “Would you like some tea?”

Drake shook his head, not bothering to look up at the man in black.

“These changes of plans did not come from your little time with Ms. Jae?” The Strange man asked, pouring his cup with tea and taking a quick sip. “After all, what could that ignorant woman like that know about men such as you and me?”

“She knows more than you give her credit,” Drake replied, trying to will his body to stop trembling from the sudden coldness. One of the crows to Drake’s right let out a startling caw, silencing Drake’s defending.

“Does she now?” The Strange hissed coldly, his eyes narrowing into snake like slits. “If she knew anything she would not have turned my generous offer down back then, would she? The simple minded fool.”

Drake said nothing in reply, his eyes still starring into the fire. He tried to sit motionless, but the unexpected squawks of the loud birds surrounding him would cause him to wince.

“She gave you two hundred liberty bonds and turned you into a mindless cowboy? We both know you would go mad from boredom with that kind of life,” The Strange man said, taking another sip of tea. “Don’t you miss the good old days of your Apocalypse gang? The thrill of the pursuit. The prize? Your heart racing? Filling lawmen with led as you raced into the night? Remember those days? You miss them don’t you? I know you do Mr. Death. I know you do. Don’t you wish you could relive those glory days? The days where you were on top of the world?”

“Those days are long gone,” Drake Ness said bitterly. “My gang betrayed me. Took everything from me. Tried to kill me. I’d sooner rot than join up with those greedy lowlives. The Apocalypse Gang is no more.”

“Don’t be so sure friend,” The Strange man replied. “That life is still obtainable, Drakkonic Evil. I can make it happen.”

“No,” Drake answered. “I’m done with living outside the law. Drakkonic Evil is dead. Long dead.”

“If you say so friend,” The man in black said, shrugging his shoulders. “But how quickly will 200 liberty bonds can disappear? How soon will your funds be used up? And how soon could one with a criminal past lose an honest job as a cowboy? How long do you think it will take for your former cohorts find you and burn down what you have left? How honest and proper will your thoughts be when you are starving and freezing during the winters?”

“I’ll make it through,” Drake replied, starring into the fire. Images of his family and childhood flashed in the flames. Painful memories of his life. Nightmares.

“Maybe but I can’t help but wonder,” The Strange man ponder, scratching his chin. “How long till HE finds you? Do you think you can evade HIM forever. Why…he could be watching you…right…now.”

Drake Ness’s body tensed.

“Who do you mean?” Drake asked, as if he didn’t know.

“You know who,” The Strange man smirked. “The Silhouette. He’s back in town. The missing sheriff has brought The Silhouette back to Overlook, Ness. And with your return at the same time as Sheriff Velmur’s disappearance, well…The Silhouette could get suspicious. He will track you down, and if you thought he was terrible back when he took you down all those years ago, you have no idea just how dark he is now. It’s been a long time since The Silhouette brought a criminal to a jail. He doesn’t give chances. He doesn’t show mercy. The Silhouette exercises his own form of brutal justice. I can well imagine what will happen if he runs into a repeat offender such as you.”

Drake knew the stranger was right. The Silhouette would hunt Drake Ness to the ends of the Earth. There was no escaping his past. There was no forgiveness. He would always be hunted like an animal.

“I can protect you from him, Death,” The Dealer hissed, picking up his stick and jabbed at the burning logs within the dying fire. “I can offer you asylum from The Silhouette.”

“How? How can you protect me from him?” Drake demanded, his teeth chattering from the cold and rage. “WHO ARE YOU? HOW DO YOU KNOW SO MUCH ABOUT ME?!”

“The Dealer will suffice as a title for now,” The Strange man answered shaking Drake’s hand. “I am a man who has seen the other spectrum of the world. I’ve seen into your very heart and soul. I am a man who can provide a world of services to the customer for the right price. And I’ve known you for such a long time, Mr. Ness. Every time you mounted your horse at night...your gang and your gun at your side…I was there…riding behind you. And now…in your time of need, I have come to lend you my much required services.”

“What services?” Drake asked, standing up and backing away from the man and the campfire. The crows surrounding them began to caw wildly, spreading their black wings and began to fly around the two. Flying overhead in a circle. Drake stopped in his tracks startled by the bizarre flight patterns of the crows overhead. The birds suddenly divebombed back to the ground, forming a ring around the two figures. All but one crow…one that landed on The Dealer’s shoulder, it’s glowing red eyes fixed on Drake Ness.

“Hmm…my pets don’t seem to want you to leave. They must still wish for us to do some dealing,” The Dealer commented, throwing his hand in the air as if to dismiss their sudden flight. “It would be rude to ignore their curtsy. How about you just sit back down and we continue this friendly conversation. You should relax, friend. We’re just men of business here, no need to get nervous.”

Drake sat back down, his eyes darting back and forth from the tradesman and the birds surrounding him.

“As to my services sir, well….All kinds my good friend, all kinds. I am a man that can make a nothing an everything. Turn a beggar into a wealthy lazy aristocrat. I provide information, secrets, advice, reliable predictions on the weather, tips on the harvest, the latest gossip, knowledge on medicines and herbs, and some amateur dabbling in the a cult. I am a man that can make your wildest dreams come true,” The Dealer rasped, turning his head to face Drake Ness. “However my main trade is providing whatever a man needs to be happy. I’m a traveling salesman of sorts, offering an infinite variety of necessities to the right customer. Yes sir! You name it, I got it! I sell furniture, herbs, tools, rare foods, fine drinks, new breakthroughs in technology, seeds for crops, miracle elixirs, good luck trinkets, knick knacks, old books, precious metals, voodoo, magic potions, ingredients, items from the ancient past and soon to be future, and so much more. I provide what no others can produce. I sell items that one can only find…on the other side. Now…for a man with your needs. A man on the run from a vengeful shadow, you may require something of my more interesting realm of expertise. Take this little number…”

The Dealer reached down for his black medicine bag, shifting through the contents. The crow on his shoulder sat motionless like a stuffed trophy on his shoulder, still staring at Drake Ness. After a moment of searching, the salesman produced a simple colt revolver. Drake let out a snort of disappointment, expecting somewhat more fantastic than a common revolver.

“This is a rather special gun, my friend. Capable of shooting repeatedly without reloading, easy to conceal, light weight, simple point and fire action. Easy to clean, disassemble and reassemble. Most of the parts could easily be replaced. However these aren’t the qualities that make this particular weapon so special,” The Dealer hissed, motioning to the many parts of the gun. “I made my own special improvements on it. Well…not exactly the gun itself…more the bullets the gun uses.”

The Dealer held the gun up to Drake Ness, motioning him to take the weapon and examine it. As Drake reached for the gun, the crow perched on the trader’s shoulder suddenly lurched it’s beak violently at Cowboy’s hand. Drake shot his hand back, backing away from the bird and the man it rested on.

“Oh, forgive my friend,” The Dealer chuckled, tossing the gun carefully into Drake Ness’s hands. “He gets rather tense around others. I hope he did not hurt you…”

“I already have a gun like this,” Drake replied, eager to change the subject. He quickly glanced over the weapon in his hand over. Clearly not impressed. “Guns are nothing new to me or the shadow. While I was in jail, I heard from the cell next to mine that a bullet cannot stop the Silhouette.”

“My good sir, I do not doubt your knowledge of the gun’s functions,” The Dealer assured, taking the weapon back from Drake Ness and reaching back into his bag, pulling out a single silver bullet. The Salesman smiled, holding the bullet up for Drake to see. “However, your knowledge of the Silhouette is rather unreliable. You do not know the shadow as I do…and I can assure you that these special bullets are more than a match for the Silhouette. Perhaps a demonstration will satisfy your unsure mind.”

The crow on The Dealer’s shoulder suddenly bolted into the air, beating it’s wings rapidly. The tradesman loaded the bullet into the revolver, he watched the bird fly further and further away. Flying higher and higher. Further and further. The Dealer examined the gun for a moment and turned to Drake Ness, dropping the revolver in his hands.

“Shoot it,” The Dealer hissed, brushing his black gloved hand over at his shoulder where the bird had rested.

Drake Ness stared at the strange man his eyebrows narrowing in puzzlement. “Shoot what? The bird?”

“Of course the bird,” The Dealer replied with nonchalance, turning to face the distant crow. “Unless you wish for me to let you take aim at an apple on your son.”

Drake turned his head to study the small black dot that was the crow. It had to be a hundred yards away, more than two hundred feet in the air. Drake glanced down at the gun in his hands. He might as well try and shoot the sun down.

“Quickly now,” The Dealer insisted, his finger following the path of the crow. “Shoot it before it gets out of sight.”

“I can’t make that shot,” Drake said, already holding the gun up trying to aim at the disapeering target. “Maybe if I had my rifle and if I was much closer…but at this distance, this gun, and the wind…there’s no way I could…”

“Have faith in me, friend,” The Dealer said, patting Drake’s shoulder assuringly. “Now shoot.”

The next thing Drake knew, his finger squeezed on the trigger.


He heard a loud crack as the bullet exited the revolver. Drake stared up at the black dot that was the crow. At this distance, it was the size of a freckle. Drake waited, and waited. The Dealer and the cowboy stood in motionless silence.

Suddenly, the crow began to descend…no…it wasn’t descending…it was plummeting. The bird…more than 400 hundred feet away was dropping like a stone. Could it be? Was there any way that he could possibly hit such an impossible mark?

No it couldn’t be. It must have been a trick…maybe The Dealer had another gunman hiding in the grass…no if there was another shooter, Drake would have heard a second shot. Maybe the crow was trained to fake it’s death when it heard the gun shot. But it fell so quickly. If the bird was playing dead, it would have broken it’s neck from the fall.

As the small bird hit the ground, the many crows surrounding the Dealer and Drake Ness began to let out loud caws and shrieks as if they realized their brethren’s fate.

“Excellent shot,” The Dealer commented gathering his tea kettle and cup and placing them into his doctor’s bag.

“Thanks,” Drake said, his voice choking up, his jaw dropped in disbelief.

“Oh, that wasn’t a complement to you sir,” The Dealer replied, turning around to face Drake Ness. A smile stretching across his face. “You had little to do with the Bullzeye. All you did was pull the trigger and the bullet took over. You have just hit a crow that was 415 away, and I assure you with the weapon you hold you could hit a target twice the distance away. Now you understand the protection I can offer you.”

“How….how did I?” Drake stammered, unable to believe his eyes. “It couldn’t be…no there’s no way…it must have been luck...there’s no possible way I could hit that bird from such an incredible distance.”

“Are you a gambling man Mr. Ness? Because I think you’d appreciate your odds against the Silhouette with this gun in your hands. Why you could shoot him a mile away. He’d be dead before he could even see you,” The Dealer exclaimed, his every word emphasized by his traveling salesmen occupational nature. “In fact…why hide from the shadow? Why must you remain the hunted? You could hunt down The Silhouette. With such a weapon on your side, the Silhouette would be running away at the very sight of you. Wouldn’t it feel good Mr. Ness? Wouldn’t it feel good to make the hunter the hunted? To feed on the Silhouette’s fear as you corner him? Doesn’t that ruffian deserve a little payback for the years you wasted away in that prison because of him? Why stop with the Silhouette? You could ensure that War and your former comrades pay for stealing everything you earned. You could eliminate every last one of your enemies, Drakkonic Evil. Your legend would live once again! The Entire Prairie Lands would grow to fear you! Why, you’d be running Skull Gulch in no time. Imagine, ruling over Roquer’s and Colonel Charries’s gangs.”

“How much for the gun and bullets?” Drake asked, searching his pockets urgently for the Liberty Bills on him. “I can give you 240 liberty bonds, if you wait till the end of this week I can offer you 250.”

The Dealer let out a horse laugh, clapping his hands together and shaking his head in amusement.

“My good friend,” The salesmen mused, taking the gun from Drake’s hands. “The value of these bullets are far beyond any price you could ever hope to offer me. Imagine what the boys at Fort Spire could do with these bullets? Why the Ancient Tribes over at the canyons would be extinct in mere minutes. How long would it take for a Skull Gulch gang to take over the entire union state with just one of these guns? No sir, this gun cannot be bought with mere paper.”

“Then what do you want for the gun?” Drake asked urgently, wishing to have the gun back in his hand. With that gun…he would never have to fear the Silhouette. He still couldn’t believe the range that weapon could reach. It was impossible…but his eyes did not deceive him.

“How about I give you this gun as a present,” The Dealer hissed holding the gun up to Drake Ness. “Free of charge. I guarantee it will serve you far more than a couple of handfuls of liberty bonds.”

Drake’s hands instinctively snatched the gun.

“You mean I can keep it?” Drake asked, examining the designs of the weapon carefully. It seemed a normal enough colt revolver. Nothing special that Drake could find. “Just like that?”

“Well…no you can’t just keep it,” The Dealer admitted, straitening his shirt collar and tie. “In order for you to earn such a special gun…you will have to do me a small favor.”

“What kind of favor?” Drake Ness asked, his eyes narrowing in suspicion.

“A small errand that I may require,” The Dealer replied shrugging his shoulders innocently. “In order for you to keep the gun, you must be willing to do a task that I can demand of you at any hour of any day of any year regardless whatever inconvenience or nature it may present.”

“What would that task be?” Drake demanded, already feeling the dark nature the assignment would be.

“I don’t think I will be telling you until you agree to my generous offer,” The Dealer snapped, his eyes narrowing in annoyance. “However it hardly matters now. Either agree to my terms now or lose your precious gun and take your chances with the Silhouette. This is my one and only offer. Take it…or leave it.”

“I don’t get into deals unless I know exactly where they’re going,” Drake replied, tossing or perhaps even violently throwing the revolver at it’s vendor. He now realized what his senses seemed to nullify. Something had blinded his mind. Perhaps some unknown drug, perhaps his inner torments, perhaps his own desire to rejoin the dark past he resolved to never follow.

This creature before Drake Ness was a tempter. A fiend trying to gain control of Drake’s soul with fear and tricks. Such obvious signs…such obvious betrayal and vile intent. This was wrong. Everything about this Dealer was wrong. Had Drake Ness become so accustomed to villains that he could no longer detect their dark natures?

“Hmm…is that so Drake Ness? Tell me then,” The Dealer hissed, pulling out another silver bullet and loading it into the gun. “Are you willing to die for your moral codes?”

“Are you threatening me stranger?” Drake Ness asked, his voice rising to anger. Drake’s hand went to his hoster, resting on his own revolver.

“Course not friend,” The Dealer replied in an icy snarl, his eyes darting from Drake’s unwavering eyes and the cowboy’s weapon. “Simply inquiring if a man who is given the key to survival will refuse it for misplaced beliefs. Do you hold fast against my offer?”

“I’d rather be killed by a vengefully angel than sell my soul to the devil,” Drake growled, watching the dangerous weapon in the Dealer’s hands.

As The Dealer began to raise the unnatural fire arm, Drake immediately pulled out his revolver, aiming at the vendor’s head. The Dealer’s weapon was aimed at Drake’s heart. The Dealer’s soulless face was twisted into a face of pure rage. The face that could steal the strength out of a man. However, Drake Ness held strong, not backing down from the creature before him. He stood, unafraid, almost a knight facing a dragon.

Whether he be man or demon, The Dealer would not break Drake Ness.

The two locked eyes, waiting for the other to make a move. It seemed neither would raise their weapons unless provoked to do so; as if both knew that to duel would be fatal for both parties. Drake Ness was both skilled and quick with his gun however the mysterious nature of the revolver in The Dealer’s hand caused the former outlaw to hesitate.

“If you were to harm me. You will bring about yourself inevitable destruction,” The Dealer warned, obviously aware of Drake’s skill with a gun and aim. “Let us both remove our hands from our weapons before our nerves bring about a foolish and pointless end. I have no intention of dying over a mere business deal, neither do I wish you dead. This is simply a misunderstanding. Nothing more.”

The two stared at one another for a moment longer, and simultaneously pocketed their revolvers.

The Dealer opened his mouth to speak when the sound of another horse approaching cause him to remain silent.

Sylvester Tin rode up on his stead surveying Drake Ness and The Dealer. In his free hand, he had his arm wrapped around two large shovels and a bucket of water that was nearly emptied by the rugged ride up the hill.

“Just a campfire huh?” Sylvester exclaimed, chucking the bucket behind him with annoyance. “Don’t mind telling me. After all, I only thought that the entire claim of land was about to be swallowed up by a fire.”

“A fire Mr. Tin?” The Dealer asked, turning to face Drake’s associate and tipping his hat in greeting. “Oh my good sir, it won’t be just flames that purges these lands. However, I must apologize for concerning you prematurely. I was merely cooking some tea and soup. I would offer you some but I seemed to have run out.”

“This is private property sir,” Sylvester called down to the strange salesman, his eyes narrowing in suspicion. “You’ll have to leave, friend.”

“Do not jest, Mr. Tin,” The Dealer replied turning his back to the two cowboys and taking up his black medicine bag. “You are no friend of mine.”

“I’ll ask you once more,” Sylvester called again, pulling out his rifle and aiming at the Dealer’s back. “Get of this property, and never come back.”

The Dealer took no notice of Sylvester; instead, turning his head to face Drake once more. “See you around, Mr. Ness.”

With that, the salesman walked off, humming the tune of beating drums that the Ancient Tribes at Dead Canyon would create in their times of war. As the Dealer walked out of earshot, Sylvester hopped off his horse and approached Drake Ness, his eyes still on the strange salesman.

“Who was that man Drake?” Sylvester asked, his rifle still aimed at the Dealer.

Drake shrugged his head, his body growing suddenly weak from the encounter with the strange man. His legs trembled; his heart quaked in a sudden weakness.

“Just…” Drake struggled for the words to characterize the man. “A stranger, passing by.”

“Funny folks appearing in these parts,” Sylvester mused, not realizing his companion’s weariness. “First that fella Ms. Isabel spot, stalking the fields like a coyote in the shadows last night, then this funny card cooking dinner on someone else’s land.”

Drake’s eyes snapped open, his head turning to Sylvester.

“What man in shadows?” He demanded, gripping Sylvester’s shirt feverously. “Tell me!”

“Drake, are you alright?” Sylvester inquired, staring into Drake’s terrified eyes.

“WHAT MAN?” Drake cried out, shaking Sylvester with unintentional violence.

“Ms. Isabel made a painting of the figure,” Sylvester stammered, his eyes squinting in confusion. “Thought it just looks like a giant black blot…”

Drake broke away from his companion sprinting towards his awaiting horse, hopping on and riding furiously back towards Lion Ranch. He could feel his new life falling apart. God have mercy on his soul.


Isabel Lion sat on a tree stump just outside of the Lion’s house. Before her was a new painting that she was putting the finishing touches on. She had long brown curls covered by a bright yellow sun hat that matched the proper lady-like dress that she wore. She had a cheerful pure face. The face of youthful innocence. She was fourteen years old and already a beautiful proper lady.

Isabel enjoyed painting. It was one of the few expressions of her creativity and feeling she could express. She was at it every moment she could find when she was not riding, or learning her lessons with her uncooperative sister and their teacher. Isabel dabbed her brush in a dark blue, followed by spreading it over the canvas. Most of her paintings usually were bright beautiful colors that brought cheer to the artist…however this particular portrait only made her feel cold inside.

Leaning against the stump with Isabel, her twin sister Attie who occupied her time whittling a piece of bark with her knife. Attie’s hair was cut short, nearly as short of that which could be found on a boyish youth. She wore dark black overalls and white farm worker shirt. Her face was smudged from her volunteering hand on the many chores that one usually assign to workers. She was a tomboy. Always asking the helping hands how to use their guns and work as they did. Attie was always the difficult child. Disobeying orders, always getting into trouble, getting into fights with other children. She had a wild fiery tempered youth that completely contrasted the pleasant Isabel.

“WHO DID YOU SEE LAST NIGHT?” A voice behind the two roared. The twins turned their heads to find Drake Ness, the new hired help that their mother employed leaping off his horse and rushing towards them. His eyes were wild like a madman. Isabel stared at the man, unsure of what to say.

“You’re being paid to watch cattle,” Attie called out, quickly pulling herself to her feet and glaring at Ness. Her hands at her hips. “You’re not done for another two hours. So get back on your horse and get moving!”

“Quite,” Drake snapped at the tomboy, shoving her out of his way and stood before Isabel Lion. The young girl stood up, backing away from the man. Her eyes a mix of confusion and fear.

“Nobody touches me like that!” Attie warned, raising her knife up to Ness in a threat. “I should cut off your…”

Drake Ness snatched the knife out of Attie’s hands and plunged the blade into the tree stump.

“Tell me who you saw last night in the fields last night,” Drake demanded, pointing a finger at the concerned Isabel. “NOW!”

Instead of speaking, Isabel simply pointed at her painting that she had been working on. Drake slowly approached the portrait, pulling it off it’s easel and held it up to his face.

At first the painting seemed to be an entire slate painted dark blue. As if was the bottom of a dark river or the night sky. Swirls and splashes circling over the entire frame as if to illustrate mist and omens. To the viewer who was not looking for it’s hidden content, the painting was nothing more than perhaps a night sky. No moon or stars. However there was something more to it. It was as if the subject was hiding within the painting, hoping to not be discovered.

As Drake studied the portrait, he realized there was a small darker shape hidden in the middle of the painting. It was a man, his entire body as black as the night. The image was not so much a realistic portrait but an outline of the subject. The man had a large intimidating build, his head bent as if he was a mountain lion or a predator in the middle of the hunt. He held in both hands two revolvers, raised to shoot anything that dared to get in the way of the hunter that wielded them. He wore a large black hat, the hat a preacher would wear. The only facial feature the painting could reveal was the man’s eyes. Fiery hot, determined, vengeful, merciless eyes. The eyes that Drake Ness recognized instantly. Judging him, even now.

“No,” He hissed, still staring into the portrait, his eyes wide with fear. “No…no.”

Suddenly Drake let out an angry cry, slamming the painting down on his knee breaking the portrait in half. Isabel let out a cry of surprise and defeat as she watched Drake destroy her work.

“THAT SNAKE EYED, SLIPPERY DEVIL!” Drake roared, throwing the pieces to the ground and stomping down on the portrait’s face with his boot. “MAY YOU ROT IN HELL, YOU TOUNGLESS DEMON!”

“He’s a nutcase,” Attie hissed to her sister.

“Get Mr. Tin,” Isabel ordered, shoving Attie forward. “Hurry before he causes real trouble.”

Attie began to move towards her knife, her eyes watching the raving Drake Ness.

“He thinks he can catch me off guard like the last time. This time…I’ll be ready for him. He won’t get me…he won’t. I’LL KILL HIM FIRST!” Drake declared snatching up Attie’s knife from the tree stump before the tomboy could reach it. “MARK MY WORDS, I’LL KILL HIM!”

“Who will you kill?” Isabel asked, backing away from the cowboy. “Who is he? What has he done?”

“He’s the Silhouette,” Drake answered in a hoarse whisper, pointing the knife at the twins. “And he’s return to Overlook to hunt me down and kill me like an animal.”

With that, Drake threw Attie’s knife down at the torn painting, the blade piercing through the subject’s forehead. Attie and Isabel stared at Drake Ness in silence, unsure of what to do or say. Drake turned away from the discarded painting and began to walk towards his horse. His legs trembling, his breathing deep and slow. Drake mounted his horse without another word, and rode off leaving Attie and Isabel Lion without explanation.


The sun had already set as Drake Ness’s horse galloped furiously back to home. Drake had to get home as soon as possible. He had to make it before dark. Had to make it before The Silhouette began his nightly roaming.

Dear God, he found me! Drake’s mind screamed as his stead leapt over the fence surrounding the Lion’s property. His eyes darting back and forth searching every shadow, expecting his long time enemy to leap out and kill him.

“HEE-YAH! HEE-YAH!” Drake cried out, snapping the rope against his horses neck. The stead obediently began to run faster and faster.

The horse was traveling at it’s maximum speed, jumping over ditches, fences, and other obstacles. The beast’s breathing and grunts became more and more frequent. It was pushing itself to it’s limit. Exhustion and dehydration. The horse wanted to slow down to a trot but it’s master would not let it. Every second counted.

“HEE-YAH!” Drake cried out, snapping the strap again.

Drake couldn’t stay in Overlook. It wasn’t safe for him. Not with the Silhouette hunting him. He had to leave tonight. He’d get his money, his rifle, what food and water he could manage and abandon Overlook. He could try and escape to…to...where could he go?

If he showed his face back in Liberty Square, the citizens would hang him. He may have paid his time…but an angry mob would never forget. Besides, the Silhouette would simply follow him to the city and murder him there.

He swore he would never return to Skull Gulch to live a life of gang violence. Besides, with War and the Apocalypse gang after him and Roquor’s gang putting a price for Drake’s head, returning to Skull Deep would be as suicidal as going to Dead Canyon.

Perhaps he could join the Fort Spire Troops. He would be paid to join a regiment and fight off Skull Gulch bandits and the occasional Ancient raiding parties. Maybe the Fort Spire army could protect him from the Silhouette. Yes…maybe. The Silhouette may have been a bounty hunter, but his methods were far to brutal for the law to turn a blind eye. If the Silhouette stepped foot on Fort Spire, he would be shot on sight.

Merciful Jesus, how did the Silhouette track him down? He had barely been back in town for two days. And yet the Silhouette was spotted at Lion Ranch. The place where Drake just started working. This could not be a coincidence. The Dealer was right. The Silhouette would hunt Drake down till one of them was dead.

Drake glanced up at the sky. Night. The sun had completely disappeared. He was running out of time. Night time. The Silhouette would be roaming the Prairie Lands now. He had come out of his daily hiding to hunt scoundrels.

Drake could see his parent’s house off in the distant. He could make it. Run in, grab what was necessary, and leave everything else. Then ride. The Silhouette rarely travels by horse, if Drake could get a head start, he could make it to Fort Spire in eight hours by horseback. Four if he made it to the train station.

Drake’s horse slowed outside of the cowboy’s soon to be forgotten home. Drake climbed off his stead and approached the front entrance, reaching out a hand to unlock the bolted door. His hand stopped inches from the wood frame.

The door had been kicked open. Drake gently pushed the assaulted entrance open with a finger, his heart beating like a drum.

Dear God, Drake thought backing silently away from the door. He’s already here!

Drake debated abandoning his house, jumping back on his horse and riding off, leaving Overlook and the Silhouette behind. But Drake needed the provisions and liberty bonds stored in the house to make it to Fort Spire. Drake would also need his hunting rifle and extra revolver for the dangers of traveling across the Prairie Lands at night.

Drake Ness pulled his colt revolver out of his holster, took a deep breath and gently slid the front door open. As soon as he entered, Drake shot out his gun, sweeping his aim across the room, searching for any sign of his pursuer. His expert hunting eyes scanning the single room cabin for even the slightest trace.


Whether the Silhouette had searched the house and left earlier or if he was waiting outside, Drake couldn’t wait in the open to find out. He needed to leave as soon as possible. Drake Ness wasted no time, approaching the loose floor board that he hid his rifle, money, and any supplies he would need in case of an emergency such as this.

He carefully pulled the board out and reached into the compartment, careful to still have his revolver covering the door just in case. First, the rifle. Drake slid the large hunting rifle over his back. He placed his second revolver in it’s holster. Next, Drake gathered all 240 Liberty bonds he possessed and wrapped the money together with a piece of leather string, from there, he shoved the wade of paper into his hat, placing it back on his head. Drake pulled out his hunting knife, placing the fine blade in it’s sheath holster at Drake’s thigh. Caring two bags of dried food cans and bread in one arm, gun still raised in the other, Drake made his way back to his horse, securing the supplies to the horse’s saddle.

Drake paused, his mind racing, going over everything he had on him. Making sure he did not forget anything vital.

The hunting rifle’s ammunition.

He left the ammunition in the trunk back in the well. Drake was very much tempted to leave the ammunition behind, but he would need the extra rounds for traveling through the prairie at night. His two revolvers were well enough for a bandit or any roaming Ancient Tribe savages, but if he was to encounter a mountain lion or a grizzly…he’d be yanked off his horse and mauled to bits before he had a chance to fire a second shot. And with the stories of a giant hulking beast roaming about slaughtering other large predators like sheep…Drake needed to be well armed for any hellish creature.

Drake hurriedly marched to the old well, placing one of his guns in his holster in order to grab the well crank. As he wheeled up the bucket that supported the old trunk, Drake Ness was careful to still have his other revolver raised, his eyes searching through the darkness. Listening for any foreign noise amongst the cricket chirps and the low whistling of a breeze.

It didn’t matter whether or not Drake’s senses detected The Silhouette. Didn’t matter if he couldn’t hear or see the vengeful bounty hunter. Drake knew the Silhouette was out there. Watching Drake. Waiting for Drake to let his guard down and attack. But Drake would not give the Silhouette the chance. This time he knew what he was against.

Drake watched the old chest rise up from within the well. So close…all he needed to do…Drake threw open the trunk lid, unable to see it’s contents through the darkness. He hurriedly ran his hand through the trunk, feeling the sides and searching the bottom.

Where was it?

Drake couldn’t believe it. The rifle was missing. NO! Where was it?! In a fit of anger, Drake slammed the trunk down on the ground, cursing under his breath.

Could it have fallen out of the trunk and be at the bottom of the well? There could have been a hole in the chest and the ammunition could had fallen out. Were the bullets really worth wasting so much time?

Drake Ness let out a soft hiss of frustration. The well was only eight feet deep, and it had dried out. He could easily slide down the well, gather the fallen bullets and climb back out. Drake reached into his pocket, drawing out a small match.

He struck it against the old worn out trunk. The match burst into a bright flame, illuminating the Drake’s body with an orange glow.

Drake peered into the well, holding up his match, hoping to spot the ammunition packs. Only find staring into the eyes of the very man he was attempting to escape. Hidding in the well...waiting for Drake to fall into his trap. Drake opened his mouth to let out a cry only to emit a low gargling sound. The match went out as if extinguished by a ghost, plunging the two men into darkness.

No time to use his gun. No time to shout. No time to think. It was too late to react. The figure within the well shot up at Drake Ness as if fired out from a canon. The bounty hunter slammed into Drake with the strength of a bull, knocking the cowboy off his feet and into the air. As Drake was thrown back, his revolver slipped from his grip and out of sight. Drake slammed into the Earth, the breath knocked out of his bruised chest.

The figure pulled his feet out from his hiding spot. Silent as a panther. The figure slowly began to advance on Drake. Like a predator about to come in for the kill.

Drake’s hand instinctively reached down for his second revolver, drawing it and aiming at the shadow of a man. As Drake’s finger began to squeeze the trigger, the bounty hunter’s body tensed, his right hand reaching for something within his coat.


Drake let out a cry of pain as his gun was knocked out of his hands as if by an invisible force. Something hidden within the darkness. Something had struck his hand. For a moment, Drake thought he had shot in the hand…but it wasn’t a bullet wound.

Drake’s hand grasped around the bleeding knuckles of his other hand. He glanced up at the bounty hunter watching him deposit whatever weapon he used back into his coat as quickly as it appeared.

“You didn’t think you could escape Overlook without my notice,” The bounty hunter snarled, looming over Drake like a mountain. “Did you, filth?”

The figure was tall, solid build. Strong enough to break a man’s arm with one hand. He was dressed all in black, making it next to impossible to distinguish from the darkness that surrounded Drake and him.

The dark figure wore a black preacher’s coat and large preacher hat that covered his forehead and hair. The other half was hidden under a black bandana mask covering his jaw and nose. The only physical feature of the figure’s face visible from within the blazing eyes. Cold, terrible, furious eyes, blazing like fire. His presence filled any sane man with fear, and guilt.

The sacred judging preacher’s hat and coat combined with the black bandana and two revolvers of a bounty hunter or nameless lawman were an awe-inspiring. It had a paralyzing effect on the man cowering before him. Religious terror and the weighted presence of law and order.

"Drake Ness," The bounty hunter hissed, grasping Drake by the throat with one hand and lifted the man into the air. "Your judgment has come."

Drake grasped the figure's hand with both arms trying in vain to break free. The masked lawman drew a revolver from within his black coat and pressed the barrel of the weapon against Drake's forehead. Drake's eyes widened with fear. Death was at his door. God have mercy on his soul, for the Silhouette would not.

He was hunter of filth.
He was the bane of all outlaws.
He was the death of scoundrels.
He was the dark angel that stalked the night.
He was the one who struck fear in the hearts of the untouchables.
He was the shadow that no man could not escape.
He was The Silhouette, and he found Drake Ness.

< Message edited by Clown the Jester -- 1/15/2012 21:04:23 >
AQW Epic  Post #: 5
1/22/2012 9:28:19   
Clown the Jester

Chapter 5: The Black Deal

Drake slammed his head into The Silhouette’s skull, dazing the bounty hunter. Drake shot up both his feet, and dug the heel of his boots into the shadow’s chest pushing off the Silhouette with all his might. The Silhouette stumbled back as Drake slammed to the ground, rolling back to his feet.

Drake wanted to run away, but he would simply be shot as soon as he turned his back. He had to get that gun out of The Silhouette’s hand. Drake drew out the knife he took from Attie Lion, leaping at The Silhouette, raising his weapon.

Make it quick. Quick. Don’t let this become personal. Don’t let this…

The Silhouette grasped Drake’s arm, halting the knife just before it could touch his neck. Drake’s arm and the Silhouette’s locked in a battle of strength. The two grappled for control of the knife in the darkness.

“Only a coward would use a knife,” The bounty hunter snarled. “You fight as the rest of the sheepish vermin do. A lowly disgust worm who shall…”


In response, Drake Ness spat into The Silhouette’ s eye. The Silhouette let out a growl, raising his free hand, and pressing his revolver to Drake’s chest.

“FILTHY DOG!” The Silhouette roared.

Drake instinctively slammed his elbow into the Silhouette’s forearm, knocking the gun away from Drake’s chest as The Silhouette pulled the trigger.


Drake’s free hand wrapped around the barrel of his opponent’s revolver, forcing it to point straight into the air as The Silhouette fired again.


The two struggled with one another. Drake Ness trying to force his knife into The Silhouette’s neck. The Silhouette trying to get a shot of Drake Ness. With a sudden burst of inhuman strength, The Silhouette pulled both of Drake’s arm down, forcing Drake’s entire body to drop down with the pull.


Drake let out a groan as The Silhouette slammed his shoulder into Drake’s jaw. Drake forced his mind to forget the pain and held onto The Silhouette’s revolver turning it to face away from the two. Drake could tell his nose was bleeding. Maybe broken…forget the pain. Deal with it later. Focus on surviving.

Drake’s hand broke free of The Silhouette’s grip. The Cowboy slashed at the bounty hunter’ neck, missing as the Silhouette rolled his upper body in response, only grazing the hunter’s shoulder. If the Silhouette felt any pain he didn’t respond to in, instead he grasped Drake’s hand once again and twist it around Drake’s own neck. Drake let out a cry of surprise as he was force to the ground. His own knife in his own hand at his own neck.

“Enough…of this…foolishness,” The Silhouette hissed, pressing the knife against Drake’s flesh. “Fight me like a man, if you can call yourself one. No knifes, no guns. I give you the undeserved chance to die with some shred of dignity.”

“I’ve done…nothing,” Drake insisted through gritted teeth, trying to back his neck away from the blade. “I did my time.”

“Do you wish to die as the animal you are?” The Silhouette asked, pressing the knife deeper into Drake’s flesh. “Or die so people could confuse you as a man. The choice is yours, filth.”

Drake knew reasoning with the Silhouette was pointless. There was no redemption to The Silhouette. No mercy. Only cold hard justice. But Drake refused to die like this. He wouldn’t.

“Fine,” Drake agreed, releasing his grip on the knife. “I’ll fight you.”

The Silhouette released Drake’s arm, backing quickly away from his opponent. Drake pulled himself to his feet, sliding his knife back into it’s sheath. The Silhouette’s gun disappeared within his dark black coat. The two watched one another, preparing for what was to come.

Drake cracked his knuckles, positioning his feet and raising his fists in a combat stance. The Silhouette stood motionless, obviously waiting for Drake to make the first move. Drake hesitated making the charge, he could only guess from the stories he had heard how fast the Silhouette was.

Fist fights were nothing new to Drake, years of experience had adapted his skills to give his an advantage over most brawls trying to make a name of themselves…though he could tell his years of cell confinement had slowed his reflexes greatly. And what of his opponent? He heard that The Silhouette could take on ten men by himself…all at once. They said he moved so fast that it seemed he was standing still while his opponents fell one by one in front of him.

Drake lunged at The Silhouette, swinging his fist at the masked bounty hunter’s face.


The Silhouette calmly slapped Drake’s hand back with one hand followed by a powerful uppercut to Drake’s stomach with his other fist.


Drake let out a gasp of pain as his hands cover his chest. His body was hunched over, his breath knocked out of his body. Every breath was short and painful. The Silhouette shot out his knee, slamming it into Drake’s chin.


Drake fell backwards onto the ground. The pain was unbelievable. Block it out. Block it out. Block it out.

The Silhouette kicked Drake in the side. There was a wet snap…a broken rib. Drake let out another cry. He was losing. Badly. They had barely been fighting 20 seconds and he was already down. The Silhouette pulled back his foot, about to kick Drake again. It can’t end like this. IT WON’T! Drake saw the boot coming, but he was ready for it.

Drake’s hands grasped underneath the Silhouette’s boot, lifting it up with all his might, causing the bounty hunter to lose his balance and fall to the ground. Drake sprang on top of the shadow man. As The Silhouette struggled to sit up, Drake punched the masked man across the face. The Silhouette tried to sit up again grasping both of Drake’s arms. Drake slammed his own head into the Silhouette’s forehead.


The Silhouette let out a growl and swung both his hands from side to side at Drake. Drake let out a howl as The Silhouette’s hands slammed into both of his ears, disorienting Drake long enough for the Silhouette to pull back both his feet and spring them into Drake’s chest, sending the cowboy off his opponent and crash against the old stone well.

The Silhouette got on his feet, his eyes narrowing as he advanced on his down opponent. Drake struggled to pull himself off the ground, using the side of the well as support. His grip slipped causing him to drop next to the old trunk. The Silhouette was less than three feet away. Enough playing fair, this was life or death.

Drake grasped the old trunk and heaved it with all his might at The Silhouette. Without hesitation, The Silhouette pulled his arm back, and swung his fist out at the oncoming chest.


The bounty hunter’s fist smashed through the old trunk, causing the entire chest to shatter into large jagged pieces of decayed wood, dropping to the ground. The Silhouette straightened his black gloved hand and continued his slow advancement on Drake Ness.

Drake finally managed to pull himself to his feet, turning to face The Silhouette.

He swung his fist at his foe. The Silhouette ducked his head under the attack, slamming his elbow into Drake’s face.

Drake slammed the palm of his hand into The Silhouette’s throat followed by a quick punch into the Silhouette’s chin.

The Silhouette retaliated with an uppercut into Drake’s chin, followed by a powerful kick into Drake’s side causing the cowboy to fall back to the ground.

Drake leapt off the ground, slamming his shoulder into The Silhouette’s chest.

The Silhouette punched Drake across his face, followed by a punch to Drake’s right shoulder to prevent Drake from swinging back. As Drake stumbled back, the Silhouette slammed both fists into Drake’s chest. Drake swung his fist in a desperate strike, before he could even touch The Silhouette, he as punched again in the face. Followed by another punch. And another.

Drake swung his fist again, The Silhouette knocked Drake’s arm up into the air with a quick swipe followed by a powerful kick to Drake’s side. Drake collapsed to the ground, his legs giving in. He was weakening. Drake managed to hold up his hands blocking most of the pain from The Silhouette’s downward punch. Still…blocking such a powerful hit was just as painful as letting it hit.

Drake knew he was losing badly. His body was weary. Losing strength. Losing the will to fight on. The Silhouette had the advantage know over Drake Ness. All he needed to do was press that attack a little longer. Drake couldn’t take much more of this.

The Silhouette’s attacks were fast, powerful, and brutal. Drake had never seen anything quite like it. The man’s fists seemed to be as hard as stone, and quick as lightning. He could dodge almost every attack Drake threw at him. Nothing could startle him. Nothing could cause him to lose focus. The man was inhuman.

As Drake swung his leg out at The Silhouette, he knew it was over. Even if his kick did make contact with his opponent, the kick had no strength of power behind it. Drake was finished. He knew it. The Silhouette knew it.

The Silhouette wrapped his arm around Drake’s leg, lifting Drake into the air with incredible strength and threw the cowboy over his shoulders. Drake watched the world around him slow, as if he was dead. Was he dead? Maybe…maybe. He could see his arms flailing as he ascended higher and higher into the sky. He was spinning. He watched the earth and dark sky revolve in and out of his vision. Drake could suddenly feel himself being pulled back to the Earth like a weighted stone. His face and body tightening. Waiting for his crashing decent.

Drake landed face first into the earth. He was done for. He couldn’t stop the Silhouette. He couldn’t…just…couldn’t. Drake was a broken man. Nothing left to save him.

All the pain Drake had been suppressing finally broke through his mental block. His entire body ached. Broken ribs. Maybe a broken nose. He spat out a small stream of blood trying to find what little strengthen he possessed to get up.

As Drake tried to pull himself off the ground, The Silhouette slammed his boot down on Drake’s head, forcing the broken cowboy’s face back into the black earth.

“You lose filth,” The Silhouette whispered reaching into his coat and drawing his revolver. “I will give you a quick death. Better than a dog like you deserves. However, your next judgment will not be so merciful.”

“I…I did muh…my time,” Drake growled through gritted teeth. “I guh…gave up crime. I got an honest living. I’ve chuh…changed! Please….I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve changed!”

“CHANGED?!?” The Silhouette roared, digging Drake’s face deeper into the dirt. “You? A man like you can never change. You steal what you want, kill the innocent. You are scum! You are a thief! A kidnapper! A MURDERER!”

“YOU’RE A MURDERER TOO!” Drake snarled, twisting his head from under The Silhouette’s boot to face the bounty hunter. “You self righteous HYPOCRITE! At least I reformed from my sinful ways. You’ve kept on killing for your own vendetta. YOU’RE NOT BETTER THAN ME!”

“HOW DARE YOU ACCUSE ME OF SIN YOU FILTHLY SCOUNDRAL!” The Silhouette roared, pistol whipping Drake across the face. “YOU SPREAD SIN! I CONTAIN IT! I kill to protect the innocent. You…YOU KILL OUT OF GREED AND TO CAUSE PAIN!”

“I DON’T KILL ANYMORE!” Drake yelled back, spitting out another stream of blood. “I SERVED MY SENTENCE! I HAVEN’T DONE ANYTHING WRONG SINCE I WAS RELEASED!”

“This very night you were leaving with your hunting rifle and revolvers,” The Silhouette hissed, pulling out from his coat Drake’s missing pack of hunting rifle ammunition and shoved it back into his coat. “Tell me…what were you planning to do with such dangerous supplies at night? The hunting rifle would have given you the excuse of hunting, but only a fool would hunt at night, and the revolvers would also suggest you were planning on shooting people as well. You weren’t planning on going on other hold up? And what of the large sum of money I found hidden under the floor boards of your house? And don’t tell me that was the money you had saved from before your time in jail. Most of the liberty bonds were printed this year. Where did you get the money from? Maybe kidnap ransomed?”

“I didn’t kidnap Velmur,” Drake said, trying to pull himself out from under the Silhouette’s boot. “I was still in prison the night he was kidnapped!”

“I am well aware you did not kidnap the sheriff,” The Silhouette hissed.

“I’ve done nothing! I have a new honest life,” Drake pleaded, secretly sliding his hand down to his knife. “I was going to join the Fort Spire regiment. I knew you would come for me tonight without reason. The money was given to me by…”

“I have not come for your new life,”
The Silhouette hissed, pointing down his revolver. “I have come for your old life. I am here to exact true justice for the crimes you committed. The people you murdered, the families you hurt. The lives you ruined. You will pay for your sins. You shall feel God’s wrath!”

Drake’s fingers tightened around his knife handle. If he was going down….he would take this phantom that has haunted him through the years down with him.

“No better than me,” Drake Ness muttered, preparing to strike. Far off, the two figures could hear the clomping of galloping horses approaching.

“Wrong filth. You want to know the difference between you and me?” The Silhouette asked, his finger about to squeeze the trigger. “We both saw the darkness of the world. We saw death, pain, and sorrow. You decided to let the darkness consume you. I…REFUSED…TO COMPROMISE!”

Drake Ness and The Silhouette prepared their final strikes. Drake Ness drawing out his knife and driving it towards The Silhouette’s heart…if such an unforgiving man was capable of having a heart. The Silhouette began to pull the trigger about to put a bullet in Drake Ness’s head.

The two enemies were locked in self destruction. They were both willing to die to end the other.

“STOP!” a female’s voice cried out from the darkness.

A pair of arms wrapped around Drake’s chest, yanking the cowboy back before his knife could cut flesh. A figure ran into The Silhouette’s arm causing him to miss his target and shoot the ground at their feet.



Drake struggled like a madman with the one who held him back. He had a chance to kill the Silhouette. He could end this tonight. Drake could be free of this phantom’s curse.

“Drake! Calm down!” The voice behind him called out, struggling to contain the wild cowboy. “It’s alright! It’s me Slyvester! Drop the knife! It’s over!”

The Silhouette quickly reloaded his revolver aiming his weapon up at Drake Ness…to find Jae Birde standing in front of his gun, her arms spread to shield Drake.

“Shame on you,” She said to the Silhouette, shaking her head in disappointment.

“Ms. Jae, get out of my way,” The Silhouette ordered, his breathing heavy and deep. “This does not involve you! Move…please.”

“No,” Jae answered, her eyes staring into The Silhouette’s with resolution. “Put that gun away before somebody gets hurt.”

Drake stopped struggling with Sylvester Tin. He could not believe his eyes. The powerful Silhouette, a man well over six feet in height with the strength to snap a man’s spine was being lectured like a school boy by a woman that barley came up to his chest in height. Who would have thought any creature could have that kind of power over such a force like The Silhouette. Let alone someone as kind as Jae Birde.

“Not till that filthy animal is dead,” The Silhouette hissed. “He’s a murder, and a thief! He must pay for his crimes! NOW MOVE!”

“He’s already paid for his crime,” Jae answered, refusing to budge. “And he’s going to make up for his actions. I’ll see to that myself.”

“I’m warning you Ms. Jae,”
The Silhouette hissed, though his voice was already faltering. “No...NEVER BACK DOWN...NEVER SURRENDER....NEVER COMPROMISE! I’ll do what I need to…”

“And I’m warning you, Silhouette,” Jae snapped back, poking a finger into The Silhouette chest. “If you ever threaten one of my friends again, there WILL be consequences. Sheriff or no sheriff.”

“He’s dangerous,” The Silhouette insisted. “He’ll murder you! If he is left alone with you for one second…”

“I actually had the opportunity to have a nice private chat with Mr. Ness,” Jae interrupted. “And he acted like a true gentleman. He has returned to set things right and make an honest living. He swore that he gave up crime and I believe him. He’s no longer Drakkonic Evil, Silhouette. He’s a new man. He’s changed.”

“SUCH MONGRELS CAN NEVER CHANGE!” The Silhouette roared, trying to step around Jae only to have Jae step with him, still blocking his aim. “I SAID MOVE!”

“And..I.. said…” Jae Birde said, saying each word with extra emphasis.“No.”

“He was a murder then,” The Silhouette insisted, pointing his hand over Jae’s sholder at the motionless Drake Ness. “He is a murderer now. HE IS NOT BETTER THAN A RABID DOG! DISCUSTING, SCUMMY, FILTH! AN ANIMAL!”

“I say this man can become an honest good respectable man,” Jae replied, her face turning remorseful. “But what about you Reverend? What have you become?”

The Silhouette’s head stooped, his rage within his eyes dying out, replaced with sorrow.

“All for her. Everything for her,” The Silhouette hissed, his voice breaking as he struggled to not cry. “Without her, I would be nothing. I promised her. Never compromise, never back down, never give in, never…never surrender. All…all for her.”

“Would she want this?” Jae asked, talking his massive hand in hers.

“No…” The Silhouette hissed, slowly lowering his gun. “No…not like this. Not…not without a charge. No.”

“She was a good woman, Reverend,” Jae said, squeezing The Silhouette’s hand. “As good a soul as they come. Just like you.”

“No…she was far better a soul than I,” The Silhouette answered in suppressed sob. “She was an angel. A pure perfect…loving…caring gentle…God, Oh Dear God…why? Why did He take her from me? She didn’t deserve to die. She was so pure…so wonderful…WHY? Why does He always take the good of heart and leave the wicked? Its…not…fair.”

“I know,” Jae soothed, placing her other hand on the Silhouette’s shoulder. “I know what it’s like to lose someone you love and care about. It hurts. I know it hurts. She doesn’t want you to suffer like this, Reverend. She would want you to move on.”

The Silhouette shoved his revolver back in his preacher’s coat. He turned away from Jae, dropping her hand and slowly began to walk away, trudging his feet as if in a trance.

“You are to leave him alone,” Jae called out. “Do you understand?”

“He may live as long as he never strays,” The Silhouette hissed, not turning to face the young woman. “But if he stays one second, if he does even the smallest sin…I will know, and he will feel my justice. He gets one chance.”

“Thank you,” Jae said. “Where are you are going?”

“There is still work to be done,” The Silhouette whispered, his figure disappearing into the shadows.

“What of Sheriff Velmur?” Jae asked, growing concerned. “Are you going to find him?”

“He has been gone for three days and there has been no ransom note,” The Silhouette hissed, still walking off. “More than likely he’s already dead. Besides I have other matters to look into. Hunting down the Outcast, gathering more information on tales ‘beast’ that has been scaring the local farmers. Heard rumors that The Reapers are making an alliance with a new gang outside of the Skull Gulch borders.”

“Will you try and find Velmur?” Jae asked out as the Silhouette disappeared into the darkness. “You’re the only one would be able to find him.”

“I’ll look into it,” The Silhouette’s voice echoed through the darkness.


It took the longest hour Drake ever endured for Jae Birde and Sylvester Tin to finally leave him to himself. As he endured their questions, their unneeded comforts…and their wasting his time with sympathy Drake could only think of one thing.

The Silhouette will return. One night…he will appear upon Drake Ness…like a haunting phantom. He would find an excuse to slaughter Drake Ness. There was no stopping him. Drake tried running…he tried fighting. It was a foolish hope that Fort Spire could protect him from a creature like the Silhouette.

The Silhouette was too much. Faster than Drake Ness. Stronger than Drake Ness. He was an unstoppable force that no man could hope to face. The Silhouette was like a wild dog. No matter how hard others tried to control him, he would resist and bite back. Drake needed to protect himself.

He waited ten minutes to ensure Jae or Sylvester were not waiting for him. Then, he mounted his horse, and set off riding. Riding as fast as his horse could take him.

Riding. He did not know where his horse was taking him…but he knew the horse had the correct course in mind…even if it’s rider did not.

He saw a small red glow far off into the woods outside Overlook.

A campfire. Maybe…was it the right one? Then Drake Ness heard it…he heard it as clear as day. The cawing of a murder of crows.


Drake’s horse reared into the air as a black crows darted out of the darkness in front of the large animal’s face, screeching like a wild banshee. Another two fowls appeared from within the shadows cawing and shrieking at Drake and his horse.

Drake struggled to hold onto his wild horse and not be thrown off the heavy beast where he would be trampled into a red smear under the spooked creature. The large animal let out frightful neighs and darted left and right.

“Easy,” Drake hissed into the horse’s ear, trying to lead the frightened animal away from the dark winged demons that screeched at the two. The three crows were following them. Flying just above their heads, every now and then swooping down at Drake’s head as if to knock him off his horse.

They were trying to kill him. The crows were trying to kill him. Drake ducked his head as two crows just inches over his head.

Drake thought back to the crow he shot earlier that day. Maybe he should shoot these tormentors as well. Filthy buzzards. Drake never knew birds like these. Where these creatures trying to seek vengeance for the brethren he shot? Where they the agents of a darker evil that commanded them to strike Drake Ness down? Could it be these animals were capable of evil intent? Or maybe it was their nature to be cruel.

Drake ducked forward as the third crow dived down at him. Drake pulled off his hat, swiping it wildly at the next oncoming crow. The crow collided into the hat, digging it’s talons into the brim, tearing three large holes into it and retreated back into the safety of the sky, still ready for more.

What was he thinking? These were animals…not evil men. They only had animal instincts not intelligence. At least Drake thought they didn’t. Maybe Drake had rode close to a nest and the crows were trying to protect their young. Maybe…

Drake let out a cry as a crow slammed into his face, scratching it’s claws across his cheek. As the bird flew out of reach, Drake felt his stinging wound. Blood. That bird made him bleed. Drake could feel his face growing hot in anger.

They were scavengers. Greedy, lazy, cruel beasts. Cold merciless dark monsters with wings. Leaches gifted with flight to feed off higher prey. If Drake was to die tonight…would they tear out his eyes? Feast on his flesh? Desecrate his body? Drake wouldn’t let them use him as their food. He wouldn’t let them.

No. He wouldn’t let them do it. He wouldn’t let them win. HE’D KILL THOSE FILTHY MONSTERS FIRST! All three of them. Trying to take from him what little he had left. Treacherous, filthy, monsters. HE WON’T LET THEM USE HIM ANYMORE!

Drake pulled out his revolver, aiming up at the black fowls. His breathing hard, his body shaking with rage. His logic…his reason…his conscious was suppressed by an emotion that he almost forgot. An emotion that overpowered even fear. Drake Ness was feel hate. Loathing. Disgusting scoundrels! Wanting to pick his bones dry. Salt in his wounds. CURSE THEIR BLACK HIDES!

Another bird dive bombed at his head. It’s talon’s raised, letting out a screech of war. Thinking it would win. Thinking it would shed Drake’s blood. NEVER!

“GO BACK TO THE DEVIL!” Drake yelled at the oncoming bird.


The crow dropped to the ground, blood pouring out of it’s head. It landed on it’s side, it’s wings bending unnaturally as it slammed to the earth. The other two birds let out their shrill caws. The second one dived down at Drake, hoping to succeed where it’s brethren failed. Drake watched the crow come closer and closer. It’s blood red eyes staring into his. He hated the bird. HATED IT! Trying to scare him. Intimidate him with it’s loud, annoying, unnerving shrieks. Stalking him. HUNTING HIM! Flying in the air as if above him.

“I’LL KILL YOU!” Drake called out at the bird. “I’LL SHOW YOU, TRYING TO KILL ME!”


The crow fell like the other. Dead instantly. It’s warm blood splashing over Drake’s face. Drake didn’t care. Vermin. FILTHY VERMIN!

The third crow let out another caw…but this wasn’t a caw of violence or savagery. It sounded also like a cry of remorse. The remorseful bird landed next to the other two dead crows. It turned it’s head from one to the other. Then…it slowly looked up into Drake Ness’s eyes. Those red marble eyes staring into his soul. It…could it be…the crow was weeping.

Drake thought for a moment he would cry to...until he saw the crow’s feet. They were covered in blood. His…blood. It was the bird that scratched him. The crow that tried to kill Drake. Asking now for mercy?


The bird let out a low cry…and began to limp away. It tried flapping it’s wings…but the wounded wing would fly properly. It was trying to retreat at a slow hop.

Drake aimed his gun again. No sympathy. No compassion. No guilt.


The crow dropped dead.

Drake Ness quickly reloaded his revolver, not thinking twice of the birds he just slaughter or bothered to clean the blood from his face. He dismounted his horse, and walked on foot into the woods towards the campfire. Every tree looked exactly the same. Rotten, leafless, barren. Symbols of death and decay all around Drake Ness.

Drake walked on and on. Every tree branch seeming like arms trying to grasp him within the darkness. He heard more caws of crows within the woods. Dozens, maybe hundreds. Drake glanced up at the trees. Every tree had at least twenty crows, all staring down at him. Tree after tree. Branch after branch. Thousands. They sat motionless at their perch. All staring at Drake Ness. Their red eyes glinting in the darkness.

It took all of Drake’s nerve to walk underneath so many gathered fowls. It seemed like every crow in the world had gathered to this spot. Drake heard stories about these woods.

Corpse Woods. Where the creatures and monsters of the night gathered. Where the devil himself waited for souls to add to his black book. It was said that no one ever returned who entered these woods. He remembered being dared to enter these woods at night as a small child. He remembered it being the most terrifying night of his life. He had returned. In search of the Devil. The Devil who had the power to save him.

Drake could hear voices within the woods. He was coming closer and closer. Two men arguing. One voice, the Dealer recognize one of the voices as The Dealer, the second voice, it’s characteristic was unknown and bizarre.

It was shrill and high at times, filled with excitement and good cheer. Other moments the voice turned low and hoarse, like a gravely snarl that reeked with intimidation and merciless cruelty. As Drake came to the clearing he saw the owner of the bizarre voice.

A sickly thin man dressed in a purple suit and bowler hat. He seemed to have pasty white skin and dark purple hair. The man…if it was a man and not a hairless animal, had a grotesque grin, his ruby red lips stretched as well as his skin tightly over his face. The freakish man was leaning on a sturdy purple cane, his other hand moving with expressive emphasis with his words.

The two men stood at opposite sides of the crackling camp fire. The orange glowing flames illuminating their faces and bodies, giving them a ghostly demon like appearance.

“I will require my little bag of goodies,” The freakish man rasped, holding up his hand for his desired goods. “Time is growing short old friend! I need my supplies post, post, post haste! Can’t bring untold mayhem and disorder without my simple goodies! NO SIR! It just wouldn’t do!”

“Even for a vendor with such a large variety of products as myself,” The Dealer explained, his hands folded calmly behind his back. “It will take me some more time for your…more eccentric requests.”

“But I want it now!” The pail skinned man whined, stamping his foot impatiently. “Ya know how important this is! Everything is going to happen. HOO HOO! Can ya feel it? Shenanigans all over the territory! Everythings coming undone! But it could all be repaired if I don’t make my next move! NOW COMEONE MAKE WITH THE PRIZES!”

“I will have your order ready by tomorrow,” The Dealer responded. “I give you my word as a gentleman and a man of businessman…”


“I must have time Clown,” The Dealer explain, rolling his eyes with restrait. “Tomorrow. Surely one day won’t hurt.”

“Won’t hurt me maybe,” The strange pail man rasped, glancing down at his cane. “You on the other hand…such a tardy response time could be…rather unhealthy for our friendship…and I might do something rather rash…like I don’t know…BLOW YOUR STUPID BRAIN OUT OF YOUR EQUALLY STUPID HEAD!”

“Now now, Clown,” The Dealer said, straightening his black top hat. “I will have my end of the bargain completed as soon as you complete your end of our transactions. Cooperation is a two way road, friend,”

“Fair enough…I’ll give you a little more time…just a little…and God help you if you don’t have everything I asked down to the letter,” The Clown replied with a small smirk. “And do worry about me finishing my end. I’ll finish it. Heh heh…Hell, I’ll like the plate clean. Speaking of snacks…do you have my little package?”

The Dealer drew out from his black suit pocket a small leather pouch, tossing it into the hands of the giggling Clown. The Clown ripped the pouch open drawing out three or four colorless seeds and shove.

“Mmm..hm…hm. Heh heh heh,” The Clown giggled, his eyes closing tightly as if in pain as he chewed the small seeds. “Tastes like candy. Heh heh. Grrr…heh…but it stings not unlike swallowing a couple of nails. Hoo. But the benefits…ooh…the benefits.”

“Good lord Clown, your only suppose to take one a day,” The Dealer cried out, shaking his head in disgust at his grotesque associate’s lack of control. “I just gave you enough for two weeks. You’re not suppose to take them all in one day. Your heart can’t take the strain…and imagine the mental damage to your brain.”

“HOO HOO! Thank you...heh heh...mother,” The Clown taunted, grasping his chest with his hand tightly. “But I am very well away of the effects…and a little risk here, a little risk there…well…we all can’t play it safe…can we? Especially when you have so little time as me. Heh…one might get a little impatient.”

The Clown let out a growl of pain, his entire body trembling. He began coughing, his eyes watering, his teeth clenched.

“You’re going to kill yourself,” The Dealer warned. “How many did you just take?”

“Heh…GRRR! Enough….hee hee,” The Clown hissed through broken coughs. “The effects…oh goodness me…the effects…well worth…URGH! The…pain. Besides..ah ha ha…I enjoy the pain. My mind is being pried open by these…uh...heh…fine little herbs. Ha…ha ha ha…HOO HOO HOO! WA HA HA HA …AHA HA HA HA HA HA…hurrkkk... HA HA HA…grah…ah…hee hee…AH HA HA!”

The Clown’s laughter was out of control. Not laughter of amusement…laughter of pain. Drake could not tell if it was truly laughter or coughing. It sounded horrible. His pail white face turning red from the strain, spit spewing out from his mouth. The strange man was about to drop dead. Drake couldn’t understand what possible benefits could come from such physical abuse.

“KOFF KOFF! HOO HOO HUCK!” The Clown screeched, a mixture of coughs and laughs.

The Clown fell to his knees, his laughter or coughing growing louder and louder. The Clown grasped his throat both hands and began to let out gurgling sounds.

“KOFF KOFF KOFF! HUCK! Huh huh…hee…ACK!” The Clown wheezed, spitting out a glob of phlegm, blood, and spit. “Heh..hee…KOFF! KOFF!”

Drake stared transfixed at the grotesque spectacle. Staring with revoltion and fascination.

“Hoo…heh heh…fnnk…hee,” The Clown giggled, curling his body into a ball. “Ha…KOFF! KOFF! AH HA HA HA HA!”

“Your condition is worsening,” The Dealer said, turning his head in disgust as the Clown spat into the fire. “I can’t believe you have been taking such extreme quantities of the herbs.”

“Speeds the…HUICK..gah…desired attributes up,” The Clown explain, whipping his blood covered lips with his sleeve. “Besides…what difference if I die today or in a month? Death is…grah…death. I just wanna go...knowing that I left the world heh heh…screaming.”

The Clown slowly regained his composure, spitting out a small glob of blood out of the corner of his mouth. He was leaning more heavily upon his cane, a hand over heart.

“Heh..funny…It’s true what they say,” The Clown rasped, shaking his head in wonder. “Dying’s easy. Comedy’s hard.”

Drake stood in the darkness, watching the two strange figures talk. Who was this Clown? How did he know The Dealer? What did he mean he said leave the world screaming? The Clown seemed more animal than human. No control, no reason, no logic.

“Are we finished hear?” The Dealer asked, obviously unsympathetic to the Clown’s crippling health. “My next client is waiting.”

“Till the next time then peddler,” The Clown hissed, turning his back to the Dealer and walking in Drake Ness’s direction, he slowly began giggling. “Heh…hoo. Ah…ha ha…Hee hee hoo. Fnnkk…heh heh…fnnkk. Ah ha. Hee hee…hoo hoo.”

Drake watched The Clown draw closer and closer. Being in the presence of such a freakish….monster disgusted Drake. He felt his skin crawl as the harlequin walked past him. The Clown glanced over at Drake, giving the cowboy a grotesque grin, obviously relishing the effect his freakish appearance had over Drake Ness.

Drake willed himself not to stare at the Clown. Don’t look. Don’t look. The Clown stopped in his tracks, glancing down at Drake’s revolver. As Drake glanced at The Clown, the Harlequin pulled back his purple coat, showing he was armed with a Calvary revolver.

“Nice gun,” The Clown rasped, his hand imitating a gun, pointed at Drake’s chest. “BANG! BANG! BANG!”

Drake walked past the Clown not bothering to turn around. He knew better than to speak to the insane. Don’t provoke him. Don’t speak to him. Just walk.

“Huh…ya don’t say,” The Clown mussed, scratching his chin in amusement. “Hm…must be uncomfortable. A little shy maybe. HEE HEE! Shame…poor guy. Heh heh. Not easy being the runt the world kicks around is it? Does it depress you? Knowing that you must crawl face first on the dirt while the world stands tall above you. Nothing more a sick Joke for everyone’s amusment. Heh…does it make you want to laugh? Or cry?”

Drake Ness did not respond and continued to walk. The Clown let out a giggle, and tossed another of The Dealer’s seed into his open jaws, swallowing. Drake’s hand was inches from his revolver. Ready for anything.


Drake’s nostrils flared as he felt the back of his head growing damp. The freak spat at Drake’s head. THE UGLY SCUMBAG SPAT AT DRAKE NESS! Drake twisted his neck in disgust, his head vibrating in rage. Don’t react. Don’t do anything stupid. Just go to The Dealer…just go. Ignore the Clown. IGNORE HIM!

“Heh heh heh,” The Clown chuckled resuming his exodus from the clearing. “That’s right lad, pretend I don’t exist. Close your eyes. Heh heh heh. Pritty soon…my lovely face will be in your mind as well boy. Hope ya got a good look at me…you’ll be seeing a lot more of me around in a few days. You’ll see…HEE HEE HEE HEE HEE! Catch ya around friend. Oh, congratulations getting out of jail. Heh…thought you’d be eaten alive in prison. Looks like your only being chewed up inside.”

The Clown disappeared into the trees, laughing in hysterics. His giggles echoing throughout the woods. Drake clawed at the back of his hair, trying to remove the disgusting phlegm of the Clown.

He knew who Drake was. How did he know Drake did time in prison? Did he see Drake’s picture on an old wanted poster? Or did he know Drake from jail? Drake did not recognize the creature’s face. How could one forget a man with pail white skin and purple hair? Such a rude, uncontrollable, savage creature.

“Drake Ness,” The Dealer called out, glancing down at a small golden pocket watch. “I was expecting you around this time. Figured you may change your mind on my generous offer. Interesting bruises on your face. I see you had an unexpected visitor. Did I not warn you that the Silhouette would hunt you?”

“Yes….please,” Drake begged, falling to his knees. “He’s after me. Tried to kill me. I need that gun. I’m willing to do anything. Please…”

“I thought you might,” The Dealer said, drawing out from his black handbag the stranger revolver that Drake used to shoot earlier that day. “Do you except my terms?”

Drake nodded his head repeatedly. He had never felt so helpless in his entire life. He swore he would never fall to temptation…but he swore he would become a good man. But that was before he was fighting to survive. That was before The Silhouette assaulted him. Drake wanted to live. What option was there in changing one’s ways when you were being hunted by a man who could not forget the past?

“You will do whatever favor I ask?” The Dealer questioned his soulless eyes boring into Drake’s head. “Anything? No matter what it may be? Understand you cannot change your mind when you sign the deal. You will be held accountable. You would have to fulfill your end of the bargain, whether you want to or not. Do you understand?”

Drake nodded once again. Life or death. No option. No hope. God forgive him.

“Excellent,” The Dealer hissed, drawing from his top had a small document written on expensive paper, and a feather pen. “Simply sign your name to the contract, and the gun is all yours.”

Drake grabbed the contract and pen and quickly signed his name, shoving it into The Dealer’s hand. The salesman neatly folded the contract up and placed it into the black doctor’s bag, a small smile of satisfaction spreading across his face.

Drake let out a sigh of relief as he was handed The Dealer’s special revolver. However, upon examining the gun, he found it only had three bullets loaded into it’s chamber.

“Where’s the other bullets?” Drake asked, looking up at the smug Dealer. “There are only three!”

“You will only need three,” The Dealer explained, helping Drake to his feet. “Trust me friend. Three is all we need. You know what the gun is capable of. Missing its target is not an option.”

“But I should get…” Drake began, his complaint cut off by a sound echoing through the air.




Gun shots…close. Maybe a hundred yards away. The sound suggested a revolver or small handgun. The Dealer took not notice of the gun shots merely tipping his hat to Drake and backing into the shadows. Drake held his special revolver out, ready for anything. Unstoppable, confident, armed, dangerous. No longer afraid.

Drake marched confidently back into the trees, taking no notice of the many crows peering down at him from the tree tops. He was walking towards the source of the gun fire, knowing he could run into whoever fired the gun. He could even run into The Silhouette.

Drake hopped he would run into The Silhouette. Drake was done running. He was done hiding. He was sick of retreating. Sick of being pushed around.

War, Pestilence, Famine, the Silhouette, and this Clown. All treating him like dirt. They disrespected him. They mocked him. Attacked him. Hunted him. No…more. This time he would not let them get away.

Drake hike through the woods and trees. His heart racing, but he was not afraid.

Drake Ness reached the end of the woods stepping out into the grasslands. He saw the blood first. Then his horse. Drake stared at his horse. And his horse stared back.

Three bullet wounds. Someone shot his horse. It’s glassy unfocused eyes staring at Drkae Ness. His horse was dead. Why? Who would do something so cruel, heartless, and random?

That is when Drake heard a low sound echoing through the darkness. The sound that caused his stomach to tighten, his heart to stop, and his blood to turn icy cold.

The sound of wild, insane laughter, echoing through the air.


AQW Epic  Post #: 6
3/28/2012 21:42:45   
Clown the Jester

Chapter 6: The Darkest of Shadows

The Silhouette moved silently through the tall grass fields towards the town Overlook. He did not use his horse to travel short distances such as five miles. Traveling took away the advantage of surprise and invisibility. Besides, walking helped The Silhouette think. Think on his three major concerns. The Beast, the recent power shifts in Skull Gulch, and The Outcast’s drastic increase of attacks on those who traveled the grass lands at night.

However, there was one thought that was rivaling his concentration. A thought that filled his heart and soul. His head was screaming that he should turn around, march back to Drake Ness’s lodgings, and put a bullet in the filthy sinner’s head.

The agreement with Ms. Jae was a foolish notion. What logic was it to wait for Drake Ness to succumb to his dark nature and hurt the innocent? He should be put down now, before it would be too late. The Silhouette knew men as low as Drake Ness could never change. It was their nature to kill and steal. They were animals. Wild, savage, uncontrollable animals. A curse upon society. Drake Ness was a wild dog that needed to be put to sleep.


However, The Silhouette promised Ms. Jae he would hold. Hold for now. Ms Jae was one of the only few innocent people left in this Hell on Earth that many called a territory. She refused to compromise her morals and beliefs. The Silhouette admired that.

It felt so wrong, walking away. Leaving Drake Ness. Letting…him…LIVE! How could the sinner still live? HE SHOULD BE DEAD! It was God’s will. It was so terribly wrong. No…Dear God...had The Silhouette compromised by letting Drake Ness live? No…The Silhouette never compromised. He never crossed the line. NEVER! It couldn’t be.

The Silhouette’s entire body trembled. It was wrong…so sick…his skin crawled. His breath, icy and short. Was it true?

The Silhouette stood before the old church. The grass had grown into a jungle, the door handles and metal were covered in rust, and cobwebs and dust filled the church. It was his home. It was where he was baptized, came every Sunday for mass, married, led sermons, preached the word of God.

The Silhouette entered the small cemetery behind the church, passing the tombs and graves of saints and pure. Men and women who lived uncompromised lives and were in paradise.

The Silhouette’s solemn eyes fell on the graves in the far corner of the cemetery. He felt an invisible force draw him to the small tombstone. The Silhouette’s powerful frame seemed to crumple, all strength gone. The fire leaving his eyes, replaced with flooding sorrow.

He removed the black bandana mask and large preacher hat, discarding them at his feet.

The face of the Silhouette fell to his knees, before the marker. Head lowered in solemn prayer. The world around him; screaming and crying. Shrieking devils and sobbing angels. His eyes stung with tears. Tears that he knew all too well.

He slowly raised his head, his eyes staring at the grave that he knew all too well. He rested his hand on the marker and whispered her name.


Visions clouded the man’s head. The first time his eyes met Rachel’s. The first time they laughed, kissed. Their wedding, holding his infant son in his arms. The times of good and prosperity.

Then he remembered the bad times. Burying his son, Benjamin four days later. Crying with Rachel, trying to be strong for his wife. Watching his wife grow weaker and weaker. Hearing her cough at night. Trying to comfort her during the Chuddle Fever. Feeling his insides turn as she screamed in internal pain. Feeling so helpless and useless as he watched his love struggle. Running as fast as he could, carrying her in his powerful arms, begging her not to die. To just hold on. Telling her it would be alright. Lying to her as tears fell down his face. Kicking Doctor Black’s door open and begging the doctor’s help.

Watching the Doctor tend to her. Feeling a small spark of hope as she began to grow strong. Then without warning, she plunged back into her fits of illness. He remembered begging God to let it end. Begging for Him to end her suffering. He remembered collapsing into the doctor’s arms as he heard the doctor’s words. He remembered standing out in the rain…just after Rachel’s funeral, screaming at the sky.

Screaming and screaming, thunder and lightning booming overhead.

The people of Overlook no longer trusted him. They feared him. Hated him. Hated his ways, his methods, his principles. The so called “innocent” and “good hearted” were falling into corruption. That’s why they feared The Silhouette, because they knew that the force of true justice was watching their sins and crimes. They knew God’s instrument was turning it’s vengeful eyes from the gangs of Skull Gulch to the sinners of Overlook.

The Silhouette could feel it. The taint that infected the very mind and soul of men and women. Like a foul stench seeping into their flesh. A pestilence that grew larger and larger every waking minute. Filthy mongrels…couldn’t they see? Their sins growing larger and larger. Dooming the world with their wickedness. Judgment would come…and would Overlook be ready?

He saw his people wallow in their filth like dumb animals. The men, women, and children he baptized in church; now taking to the bottle, gambling for dirty money, and other foul acts behind the swinging doors of the saloons. He knew their secrets. He knew their shames. He knew how stained their souls were.

They thought that those swinging doors would hide their sins. Now…now they know there is a Silhouette standing in front of those filthy saloon doors. An invisible shadow that watched their heresies and sins accumulate until even Lucifer himself would grow pale with disgust.

“All for her,” the bounty hunter hissed to the grave, feeling in his heart the sting of unbearable sorrow. “Everything for her. For without her, I’d be nothing.”

The Silhouette knew more than ever his mission. Rid the world of filth. Protect the innocent. Preaching God’s Justice was no longer enough, the world needed to see God’s fury alive. He was The Silhouette. The avenging angel. Retribution, justice, and terror all enrolled in one form. It was all for her. The one she couldn’t save. His wife, his love, his Rachel. He felt the system take hold of him. No fear. No remorse. No pity. He was the perfect vessel of vengeance, retribution, and absolute justice.

The Silhouette stood up, collecting his hat and mask, and marched with conviction out of the cemetery. It was time to get to work.


The Silhouette reached the Sheriff’s quarters, drawing out from his pocket two long pieces of iron to pick the locked front door. The disappearance of Sheriff Velmur had the entire town in a paranoid scare. How much time would it take for the people to fall into their savage natures without fear of the law?

As the bounty hunter skillfully manipulated the metal pieces in the lock, he noticed a small crack in the door. Someone had kicked the door open. The Silhouette wouldn’t be surprised to find a blood stain on the back of the door.

Criminals loved to kick doors into their prey’s face. Not only is it a cowardly surprise attack that immobilized the opponent, it made the filth feel intimidating. Pathetic.

The Silhouette was able to unlock the door within thirty seconds. He had grown accustomed to the configuration he would need to pick this particular lock with practice. He had to sneak many a night to collect the latest wanted posters before they were available to the public. And Sheriff Velmur would never aid the Silhouette in his hunts.


The Silhouette and Sheriff Velmur never saw eye to eye. Different methods, different codes.

They use to work as a team back in the old days to clear out the Skull Gulch gambling dens that were operating in Overlook. Sheriff Velmur and his deputies bringing down the gambling dens, the Silhouette bringing down their muscle and customers.

The Purple Bandits, The Watchman’s Sentinel Gang, DaVinci and his boys. More than forty arrests…and twenty vermin dead. All three leaders, Mr. Purple, The Watch Man, and DaVinci all arrested and were going to spend the rest of their days in a prison in Liberty Square. The Silhouette demanded the scum face true justice for their crimes, Velmur refused. The Sheriff told the Silhouette, “I’ll be hanged before I let the law and order of my town fall into your hands.”

The Gang lords watched The Silhouette leave Velmur’s office, so sure the bounty hunter would be unable to touch them. Life in prison for their crimes? So many murders? So many threatened, bullied, tormented? NEVER!

They thought they could escape justice. They all thought they could escape the rope. They could not escape The Silhouette.

The morning before they were to be sent off, Sheriff Velmur entered the prison cells to find all three men dead in their cells. Each had a noose around their necks. Their contorted bodies rocking in the air. It was then that the Sheriff stopped dealing with the Silhouette.


And now the Sheriff had disappeared. Reasons: Emergency that required he left town without notice, kidnapped…The Silhouette had trouble thinking up a third reason.

Leaving town without warning was not like the sheriff. Perhaps he was in pursuit of a law breaker. Unlikely, Velmur would never leave Overlook without servant of the law in charge. What more, The Silhouette had already checked Jessica Kay’s stables and verified that Velmur’s horse was still present.

Perhaps this was a kidnapping, or murder. The Sheriff had plenty of enemies. Enemies came along with the job of upholding the law. But Velmur wasn’t a rookie. He had a sharp mind and two well trained fists.

The Silhouette shook his head from his theories. Making theories before examining the evidence was counterproductive and could compromise facts.

The Silhouette entered the office, his eyes scanning over every small detail within the office. Due to his familiarity with the setting, The Silhouette would have little difficulty in separating evidence of the crime from unrelated markings and signs. The Silhouette closed his eyes, picturing in his head the Sheriff’s office from the last time The Silhouette had entered.

The Silhouette’s mind recalled every familiar marking and detail of the small space before the Sheriff’s disappearance. Satisfied with his mental picture, the Silhouette opened his eyes to find any new characteristics that did not match his memory. Like discovering a cut on his hand.

Same wanted posters, same pile of letters and telegrams, same positioning of desk and chair…new large red dots on the floor.

Dried blood stains. Upon further examination, The Silhouette found one more blood stain on the back of the door as he predicted.

The Silhouette’s mind couldn’t help but notice that the blood splatter on the door slightly resembled the shape of a star, the kind of star that shaped the badges of sheriffs.


The bounty hunter found more blood on the floor near the desk. Not enough blood to be fatal, but too much to originate from a small cut or scratch. There was definitely foul play at work. The question was: Was The Silhouette looking for a live captive, or a body?

The handcuffs that were usually hung on a post within reach of the wood desk were missing. Perhaps they were used to restrain Velmur. Small dark scrapes on the floor; whoever kidnapped the Sheriff owned a cane. And four smaller scraps that made small holes in the wood floor. Two of the small bumps to the left of the cane, two more to the right.

Bumps…very small...grouped together side by side. The markings were obviously made by High heels. Four shoes. Two women. However there was another scrap in the wood boards that did not match the markings of heels. Possibly the markings of a cane or large stick. Three kidnappers. The cane owner, judging by the size of the scrape, a man, obviously the leader due the fact he was positioned in front of the two women.

Surrounding the blood spots were more of the high heel marks spread in almost random patterns. The Silhouette constructed the positions the two women were in to make the marks. Combat positions. It was difficult to visualize how the fight occurred with heel marks alone.

Obviously Sheriff Velmur fought the two women…and lost. The Silhouette couldn’t blame him. The feet positions showed the two women who fought Velmur were good…very good. Not to demean Velmur. The Sheriff could defiantly use his fists. The Silhouette had seen Velmur take down some of the toughest scum with a single punch. However, these female adversaries did not rely on their fists. Their attacks were synchronized. Meant to overwhelm their opponent.

There was something off about their fighting techniques. The Silhouette seen all forms of combat throughout his crusade, however this combat style did not seem familiar. In fact…the positions seemed less the stances of combat…and more like the foot positions of dancing. Obviously altered to incorporate breaking bone and inflicting incredible pain.

The Silhouette scratched his chin in deep thought. Dancers being used as muscle for kidnappings? What sense was there in that?

The Silhouette examined the prison cells, unable to find anything important. The Silhouette returned to the main office, carefully clearing Velmur’s desk and turning over the table. Nothing but dust. The bounty hunter replaced the table and positioned Velmur’s items in their exact place.

The Silhouette began to check each floor board within the office. He learned from experience to search for hidden items that were secret from the world. He was unable to find a loose board but he found something else. Wedged between two boards where Velmur fought was a small shred of a newspaper that had the old stain of a liquid.

The Silhouette examined the newspaper shred carefully. There was no water in the prison or any other liquid that could have soaked the paper. That meant it came from the kidnappers. Perhaps it was a substance that could identify who kidnapped Sheriff Velmur. It was a long shot…a very long shot indeed. However, one does not overlook any clue.

The Silhouette placed the sheet of paper into his pocket, glancing one more time around the room. Then he saw it. It was a hair. The Silhouette bended down, picking up the hair between thumb and index finger.

The hair was a dark purple. Purple? Where could it have come from? Was the hair from a wig? Strange. Very strange. The Silhouette placed the hair into his pack of matches for safe keeping.

Satisfied with his search, the Silhouette left the office, carefully to relock the door behind him. As The Silhouette made his way across town, his mind pondered over the strange factors of Velmur’s kidnapping. Fighting Dancers? Chemical agents? A purple hair?

The Silhouette approached a small house…or large shack depending on the eyes of the beholder. It was the practice of the chemist and herb specialist, Doc Goldstein. As the Silhouette drew near he first noticed the front door was wide open.

Then he noticed the odor. The Silhouette’s face twisted in revulsion under his black bandana as his nostrils were assaulted by what must have been the foulest stench ever inflicted upon the earth. The kind of stench that would make someone shove a rotten egg into your nose for relief.

The bounty hunter let out a silent cry as if he had been struck in the chest. Tears dripping down his stinging eyes, The Silhouette clamped his black bandana over his nose in a futile attempt of avoiding the odor. The Silhouette fought the urge to run into the house and shoot the perpetrator of the offending stench. Instead he walked as calmly as his body could must, entered the house following the stench to it’s source.

Standing over a lab tab, Doc Strebor Goldstein gripped a small vial (the source of the odor) with a pair of iron tongs over a burning candle.

The every inch of the table was occupied by beakers filled with colored liquids, small dishes containing chalk white powders, stacks of the doctor’s notes and findings (most covered with large stains and smudges), tweezers, containers, and other assorted supplies.

Around the doctor’s feet were discarded notes and papers. Some dropped carelessly behind him, others crumpled into a ball, and some that had been half burned away.

The chemist was so engrossed in his experiments he did not notice the bounty hunter standing in his door way. Behind his spectacles, Doc Strebor’s eyes were trained on the vial watching it’s contents turn from a mud brown to a burning black.

Doc Strebor was wirily thin man, his shape due to habits to undergo long periods of time without food or sleep for the sake of his experiments. A practice that nearly turned fatal when the chemist fainted from exhaustion while handling a vial of nitroglycerin. God only knows how Doc Strebor survived the explosion in one piece.

He had dirty blond hair that stood up in unnatural ends as if he had been caught in a hurricane, some strands fell over his face. He was a young fellow. 20 maybe 25 years old. Doc Strebor wore a large brown chemist apron over his shirt and black tie. The sleeves of his shirt were rolled up, his collar unbuttoned, his tie loosened. His face was right red.

The Silhouette did not have the time to waste waiting for Strebor to finish his experiments. However, the last time the bounty hunter startled the chemist during his tests, the doctor threw a vial of acid at the vigilante’s face. Luckily they were able to wash most of the acid off the Silhouette’s face. Strebor apologized profusely, swearing it was unintentional…maybe it was…if one spent their days handling poisons and unstable chemicals….they might be a little tense.

The Silhouette settled on clearing his throat.

Doc Strebor twisted his head around to face the bounty hunter, he nodded his head in greetings and turned back to his experiment.

“Evening Strebor,” The Silhouette hissed, approaching the laboratory table.

“Salutations sir,” the chemist replied, trying to sound cheery to the bounty hunter. The Silhouette couldn’t blame Goldstein. Most people felt uncomfortable around the Silhouette. Something about running into a masked vigilante famous for his skills of breaking arms and legs like breaking celery just didn’t settle with most folks.

However Doc Strebor had grown accustomed to The Silhouette’s irregular visits. The bounty hunter would, every now and then, consult with the chemist/surgeon for his knowledge and opinions. Strebor could be spacey, sometimes forgetful, forgetting all else besides his research and experiments…however he was good at what he did. Very good.

The Silhouette occasionally needed assistance from professionals that had expertise outside his field. Although they gave their services for free…they did receive a service from the bounty hunter. A service that was not taken lightly.

Earning the trust and respect of The Silhouette was no easy task. However once this trust was made, it was difficult to break. The Silhouette did not make friends. Friends would slow him down, hinder his cause. The Silhouette made allies. Allies who he would protect with his life. They had a protection that very few could offer.

“What are you doing?” The Silhouette asked, motioning his hand around him to indicate the smell.

“Heating a sample of sulfur,” The chemist replied with a shrug, as if the answer was obvious.

After a moment of silence the bounty hunter asked, “Why?”

“Testing a new agent I’m developing,” Strebor replied. “I’m using the suffer to cover up the smell of the agent. You should take a whiff of that stuff…well…actually don’t. I think breathing that in would close up your respiratory system. Maybe. Could also cause you to go blind.”

“Covering up?” The Silhouette repeated, as if he didn’t quite understand. “With sulfur? What is the sulfur covering up?”

“Just some…um….some properties,” Doc Strebor replied innocently. “A bit of this, some of that, maybe a few unstable chemicals…you know.”

“What other properties?” The Silhouette inquired, suspicious. Just because he trusted Strebor didn’t mean he had the same trust in his experiments. “It smells horrible.”

“Oh well like I said: sulfur, a bit of iron, a new herb I have been studying, and…” Strebor trailed off, rocking his head back and forth, contemplating whether or not he should tell. “And maybe a small quantity of gun powder.”

“Gun powder?” The Silhouette exclaimed, his eyes locked on the heated tube. “You’re heating gun powder against a flame?”

“Maybe…I’m not sure. I may or may not have spilled a small sample of gun power over few of my vials,” Doc Strebor explained, scratching his chin in thought with a hand. “I think I already cleaned the gun powder away but I might have..no...yes…No I clean it all up. Well maybe. I didn’t have enough sulfur to restart the experiment and I was just so excited to start…though if there was gun powder in the tube I’m sure it would have combusted by this time. If there was gunpowder I’m positive it would…well…unless the samples of iron slowed the rate of reaction.”

The Silhouette noticed Strebor’s face change from red to purple.

“Are you holding your breath?” He asked.

“Of course, aren’t you?” Strebor replied. “You haven’t been breathing in the fumes have you? Did I mention the fumes could blind you? I think I did. Yes, might make a person go blind. But science is all about risks.”

The Silhouette tightened his grip on his bandana. More annoyed than surprise.

“What’s it for?” He hissed, motioning a hand at Strebor’s experiment.

“Well…it could have one of two uses after I conclude this experiment,” Strebor explained. “It could either be used to clean up wounds safely and painlessly, for surgery…or it has a small chance of being a rather lethal poison. You know how these things are. Either they can be used to benefit mankind…or they blow up in your face. If my experiments indicate the latter choice, I plan to use it to get rid of those meddlesome gofers that are tearing up my rare herbs out back.”

“I have something I want you to look at,” The Silhouette said, drawing out the old newspaper. “This paper has a stain on it. Can you identify what the stained is?”

Doc Strebor turned his attention on the piece of paper; he sealed up the vial and placed it on his desk.

“What’s so important about it?” the chemist asked, carefully taking it from The Silhouette’s hands and examining it.

“Found it in Velmur’s office,” The Silhouette explained.

“So? Why don’t you ask the Sheriff where the stain came from?” Goldstein asked, bringing the news fragment up to his nose and smelling it.

“Sheriff Velmur has gone missing,” The Silhouette explained.

“Missing? Really? Dear me,” Strebor replied, studying the paper. “Wait…the date on this paper…it says…oh my goodness…is this today’s date?”

No it was from two nights ago,” The bounty hunter explained, closing his eyes wearily.

“Two night…my goodness….time does fly when I’m working. Wait…Oh my goodness,” Strebor cried out, his eyes widening. “I forgot to feed Orwell!”

“Orwell?” The bounty hunter asked, less than surprised.

“YES MY CAT! I CAN’T BELIEVE I LOST TRACK OF TIME! Two days of research and experiments no pause. I’ll go mad. WHERE IS THAT BLASTED CAT!” Strebor replied, darting his eyes left and right frantically, then a look of relief fell over his face. “Goodness me…I forgot. I didn’t forget to feed Orwell. He’s already dead. Heh…Orwell’s been dead for two months. I so lose track of time. Forgot to feed him that one week. I kept telling myself I would do it tomorrow…then those weeks turned to months and...”

“The paper?” The Silhouette pleaded.

“Hm? Oh yes! Let me see…interesting. The substance’s diffusion into the paper…shows small insoluble particles that had dissolved off the surface…Feint aroma of ether, the coloration of the dried stain…hm…what is it? What is it? Let me think…Chloroform…and something else…what is it? Hmm…very interesting,” The doctor paused, deep in thought, back to scratching his chin. “Seems to be some type of drug used for anesthesia. Give me an hour or two and I’ll be able to identify the components.”

“Could you be able to tell where the agents came from?”
The Silhouette asked.

“Don’t know…plenty of these chemicals are used all over the territory,” Doc Strebor replied, tearing a small shred of the paper off and dropping it into a test tube. “Used for surgeries mostly. Numb the wounded down a tad before you lob off an arm or leg. However I’ll do my best. I’ll give the sample a few tests to figure out the exact properties. Come back later and I tell you what I found.”

The Silhouette nodded his head, quick to exit the house before he collapsed from the foul fumes. The Silhouette had other tasks at hand. He would return for what information Strebor had found. The Silhouette paused have a dozen yards away from the chemist’s house and let out a gasp as his lungs gulped in a deep breath of fresh air. Then he let out his signaling call. The perfect mimicry of the howl of a coyote.

The call echoed through the darkness. The Silhouette stood motionless, only his fiery eyes shifting back and forth. Staring intently into the void of black surrounding the town…waiting.

After a moment…his trained ears began to pick up the feign sound. It was coming closer and closer...like the rapid beating of four drums. Out of the corner of his eyes, he caught the glimpse of a large black mass heading towards him…about to run him over.

The Silhouette’s legs bent down. As he lowered himself, he pressed the palms of his gloved hands down on the dirt ground. Building up the pressure on his muscles, feeling his body shake from the build. Waiting for that cue that one could only receive from one’s gut.

He felt it. Perhaps an extra throb of his heart…maybe a sudden twitch in his brain…maybe something more…or less.

As the creature drew closer, The Silhouette thrust his body up, leaping into the air. His body rising higher and higher…five feet…six….seven…higher and higher…like an arrow…he felt his body breaking free of the grasp of gravity…the large dark entity rushed under him…missing his body by mere inches. The Silhouette descended down on the dark creature, landing on the saddle of his steed.

His hands tightened around the bridle. The horse galloped full speed through the darkness, leading in direction towards the grasslands. The creature was obviously not like other horses. Her seemed like a creature of pure furry...vicious…heartless…cold…like it’s master. She was the kind of horse that only a fearless man would ever attempt to ride. A powerful beast, as black as night, her dark mane whipping at the wind as it rode.

A creature that inspired the same fear in law breakers as her rider. They called her the Nightmare. A horse that brought on doom and destruction for all those tainted with sin.

The Nightmare’s galloping never slowed. Racing through the grasslands. It’s rider scanning the darkness, ready at any moment to draw his gun to shoot whatever demons that lurked in the night. They were riding to Skull Gulch. The setting of all manner of filth and scum. A town where every fool with a gun would jump at the chance of being known as the lucky scoundrel that managed to shoot The Silhouette.


The journey took two hours. More than enough time to develop a plan for his entering a town where the worst of the worst filth were waiting in every shadow and corner. All waiting to take a shot at the bounty hunter. However…no reasonable plans came to mind.

His horse slowed to a trot, being navigated by her rider through the many perils of the Swamp Lands. The Swamps were infamous for the number of victims claimed in their sand traps. What made them so deadly was not their numbers or size…but their ability to blend in with the rest of the swamp. It was impossible to tell whether a patch of earth was solid dirt or quicksand, waiting to seize it’s prey. A person would be sucked under the murky sludge before they could realize their perils. However, the Silhouette knew one of the few safe passages through the moor.

Stealth was an option…however this wasn’t the time for being unnoticed… The Silhouette needed to make a big scene. A reminder to this filthy town that they were not the only predators lurking in the shadows.

After all…it was the Silhouette who took down three of the big time Skull Gulch Gang Lords. Back in the old days, Skull Gulch was quick to grow in might due to it’s balance of power. There was no one ruler of the town. The town was sliced up among the major gang lords or Syndicate: DaVinci, Mr. Purple, Professor Locus, Hottica, The Watch Man, Loko, Roquer, and Colonel Charries. The members of the Syndicate were left to build their empire and influence.

Perfect system of balance, while it lasted. Then came the Civil War. Seven hundred Skull Gulch Confederates (lead by former war hero Colonel Charries) organized an assault on Liberty Square. In response, Mayor Yergen enlisted the Fort Spire Regiment (500 highly trained and well equipped) to come defend his town from rebel outlaws.

However, the Confederates did not reach Liberty Square, instead they struck at Fort Spire taking control of the base and stealing more than 200 hundred cannons. The next day, the Confederates surrounded Liberty Square and began to devastate the city with heavy cannon fire. After three days of conflict, the Fort Spire Regiment and the town’s militia pushed the Confederates back to Fort Spire.

Two days later, the Skull Gulch Confederates had run out of supplies and the base was being shelled by the Spire Regiment’s own cannons. The Skull Gulch Forces made one last attempted charge on the Fort Spire Regiment lead by Colonel Charries himself.

After two hours of fighting, Charries was hit by a cannon ball, his right arm was torn clean off and he was dragged half a mile by his spooked horse until one of his men shot the beast in the head. As the The Fort Spire Calvary chased the Skull Gulch Confederates back to the swamps, four of Charries most loyal men carried their close to death leader back to Skull Gulch where he was tended and treated.

The Confederates retreated back to Skull Gulch, their hopes of winning the war already at an end. More than 800 casualties died in the battles, another 400 were wounded. Fort Spire, Skull Gulch, and Liberty Square were severely damaged. It would take half a year for the restoration of Liberty Square. Skull Gulch and Fort Spire were left in their damaged states. Charries recovered, however his body was deformed and he hid his body behind metal and steel. It marked the beginning of the end for the Syndicate.

Loko was the first to go. Claimed by the Chuddle Plague. Followed by the deaths of DaVinci, Mr. Purple, and Watch Man at the hands of The Silhouette. Next, Professor Locus was assassinated by his bodyguard. Then Hottica fell victim to the quicksand, her body was never recovered.

Skull Gulch was left with two gang lords, splitting the entire town in half. One half joining the Roquer, the other half flocked to the Colonel. Both men knew they could seize complete control of the entire town’s operations. With only two players remaining…the balance of the town ended. Skull Gulch quickly turned to violence.

Colonel had the heavy artillery left over from the Civil War, however Roquer had greater numbers. Both sides sustained heavy losses; however neither one had the means to dominate the other. Then the new power began to rise. A new gang, growing exponentially day by day. Made up of several smaller gangs banding together to try and seize power while the two major sides fought it out.

They called themselves the Reapers…following a new form of criminal leader. A man who showed little mercy or fear. A man who showed no restraint or honor. The Banshee.


Leading his horse into the shadows of the swamp, the Silhouette dismounted Nightmare and signaled her to stay put. The Silhouette stood at the edge of the swamp clearing. Studying the town of Skull Gulch. He drew out from his pocket a spyglass, pressing the device up to his eye.

It was eerie just how similar in structure and layout Skull Gulch was to Liberty Square. Perhaps more run down, maybe more blood stains and litter. More slummy and general. The kind of town that you could tell had not janitorial service.

He focused the spyglass on the roofs of the buildings near the edge of the town. As he expected. Fourteen watchmen with rifles patrolling the outskirts of the town. Mostly walking around in circles, following a predictable path. Unwary…unsuspecting…careless. They seemed less concerned about an attack and more worried that they might be working too hard.


Another eight men with rifles were randomly stationed on the roof tops on the edge of the town. Snipers. However, as the Silhouette focused his sight on them, he discovered six were fast asleep, one was absent mindedly paying solitaire. Only one guard that actually seemed focused on watching for unwanted company.

Unfortunately, this particular individual was more effective than forty sentry guards. The Silhouette focused his spyglass on the guard. The Silhouette knew the figure far too well. The Ranger, assassin for hire. One of the best when it came to killing.

He did not use guns. Far too loud for a man who relied so much on stealth as the Ranger did. Instead; the assassin used knives, and he was good with his knives. Very good. Rumors had it the Ranger had killed more than 78 people from contract killings and personal vendettas…however the Silhouette was reasonably sure the Ranger was in reality responsible for the deaths of more than double the rumored estimates.

Last the Silhouette had heard, The Ranger was hired by a gang outside of the territory back east. One of the major gang lords must have brought him back to the territory. Entering the town unnoticed would be very difficult with the Ranger on patrol.

The Silhouette took his time, waiting as the moon’s luminous form vanished from behind the clouds. As the clearing near the swamp fell under heavy darkness, the Silhouette sprinted silently towards the town of sin. As he drew near the first house, the moon began to rise from behind the clouds bathing the area in a low glow. The Silhouette pressed his body against the side of the building, knowing that The Ranger was right above him.

The Silhouette debated over whether or not he should subdue the Ranger now. It would defiantly make things easier for the bounty hunter later on; however the Ranger was no easy fight. The Silhouette has seen the Ranger in a brawl before. He would not go down easy. And even if the Silhouette did manage to take the assassin down, he would loose the element of surprise. And in a town where everyone was gunning for you…that was one advantage that the Silhouette could not give up.

The Silhouette would deal with The Ranger later. After he had finished his business in Skull Gulch.

The Silhouette moved down the street, hiding behind buildings, barrels, and any other covering available. Occasionally he would halt and wait for a passing Skull Gulch gang to pass. Hardly anyone was foolish enough to walk about town alone. No such thing as honor among thieves.

The Roquer had gone into hiding in Skull Gulch near the start of his war with Charries. Under the protection of his hidden safe houses, The Roquer could still manage his enterprise.

It would be difficult to locate the Roquer. Not impossible. The Silhouette would just have to “convince” one of Roquer’s agents to reveal his master’s hideout. But first he would pay the Colonel a visit.

Colonel Charries made his profits from his saloons and darker activities. Kidnapping, protection rackets, burglary to name a few. The former war time hero had no desire to hide his whereabouts, a sign of a coward. He spent most of his time in his office at his favorite saloon, admiring his collection artifacts and relics from civilizations of long ago.

The Silhouette approached The Golden Saloon, spotting the regular two guards that were stationed outside the bar. They were asleep at their posts. The Silhouette passed them by, collecting their fallen rifles and dropped the guns into a nearby water trough. Even if they did find the guns in the water, the fire arms would be useless until they dried.

The Silhouette pushed open the Saloon doors with both hands and entered the bar; feeling his skin crawl with disgust at the sight of the filthy wretches within. Drinking, gambling, and other signs of the human weakness. It was impossible to hear your own thoughts from all the deafening noise of laughter, shouting, glassing being dropped by the more clumsy customers.

Hooting and jeering like a pack of wild animals. More than forty of the wretched sinners crowding around the bar, playing cards around the tables, or sleeping on the floor from exhaustion. Someone was playing the piano in the corner of the bar.

The walls and tables were painted yellow as if a quick layer of paint could trick a person into thinking the saloon was truly made of gold. The putrid odor of vomit filled the air, and the unbearable heat made the bar feel more like a furnace than an establishment.

With the wild activities, no one took notice of the bounty hunter. Their time in the Saloon had dulled their sense and distorted their minds; making recognition impossible. The Silhouette pushed and shoved his way through the crowd, making his way to the bar. As he passed customer after customer, he discreetly searched their persons for firearms. It was like searching for fleas on a filthy dog. Only twelve of the bar patrons had guns, the others relying on other items of protection such as knives.

The Silhouette knew the main arsenal of guns was on the floor above where Charries’s Vermin Gang patrolled the walkways and stairwells of the upper floor. They were the men who would throw out the drunks that had run dry on cash to ensure only the customers with money had the pleasure of staying in the tavern. Twelve goons.

It wasn’t until The Silhouette pulled a stool out from under one of the Saloon patrons and hurled the chair over the counter.


The stool slammed into the bar shelves, causing the Saloon’s entire stock of drinks to crash down on the floor. The patrons drew back as the liquids inside the shattered bottles leapt up drenching the closest drunks.

The chatter died down, the music from the piano ended abruptly, and the entire bar went silent as The Silhouette climbed onto the Bar counter, looking down at the stunned outlaws and filth. They stared up at him, eyes wide, mouths dropped.

“Get out,” The Silhouette hissed to the bar patrons. The Skull Gulch low lifes glanced at one another trying to decide whether or not they should try and take on the Avenging Gunman.

The Silhouette roared, starting the customers and causing them to run off. The Silhouette glanced up at Charries’s Vermin Gang. One of them had disappeared, no doubt running to warn his leader. The rest of the gang members aimed their revolvers and rifles down on the Silhouette, they had fear in their eyes…but their numbers and guns made them feel as if they had the upper hand.

“Well well well,” a muffled voice called out from the second floor, a voice that caused the Vermin Gunmen to lower their weapons and salute the figure emerging from the room on the second floor. “What have we here? The Silhouette…ON MY TERF? Breaking up my Saloon? Scaring away my customers?”

The Silhouette looked up to see Colonel Charries standing at the head of the stairs, leaning his real hand on the railing. His mechanical arm extended unnaturally from his side. Charries was a man of medium height, however his shoulders were broad, giving his body a box shape. The former Colonel’s muscles bulged against his old military uniform with a long military’s sword at his side.

Charries’s face was hidden behind a large mask made of steel, staring down at the Silhouette through the two slits in the mask. He stood with the posture one could only acquire from being a military leader. Tall, fearless, confident, proud, not to be trifled with.

“I haven’t come to fight Charries,” The Silhouette called out, hopping of the bar table and landing on the floor. “I’ve come for information.”

“I gathered as much from your unnecessary destruction,” Charries replied, adjusting his mechanical hand to lean against the rail as his other hand. “However, a mutual agreement is never above my standards. What will you give me for my knowledge?”

“I won’t kill you tonight,” The Silhouette answered, cracking his knuckles. “However…if you try anything…I may get impatient.”

“HOW DARE YOU!” Colonel Charries roared, slaming his mechanical hand down on the wooden railing and breaking the support rail in half. “THREATEN ME! You forget yourself Silhouette. You are only one man. I have more than twenty of my best men covering you with guns, and all I need to do is just whistle and another forty of my Vermin Gang will be here in less than five minutes. YOU ARE AT MY MERCY! AND YET YOU THREATEN ME!”

“Do not try my patients Filth,” The Silhouette snarled. “I will break your entire army if I need to. And I will tear off your other arm...now you will tell me…”

“ENOUGH! YOU ARE NOTHING BUT A PEST TO ME! My boys seem to fear you. They think you are a shadow man or phantom that cannot be killed,” Charries roared. “I on the other hand do not believe in these stories. You are no spirit but a mere man. And you will die by my hands. Nobody threatens me. NOT EVEN THE SILHOUETTE!”

The Colonel made a gesture with his real arm and his Vermin Gang raised their weapons aiming once again at the Silhouette.

“READY ARMS!” Charries ordered as his men prepared to shoot “OPEN FIRE!”

The Silhouette’s body tensed, his mind mapping out the projector of every bullet of every gun. He was ready.

AQW Epic  Post #: 7
2/12/2013 22:59:39   
Clown the Jester

Chapter 7: Hunting in the Safari

The Silhouette’s body was already reacting before his mind could register. Even before the first shot, the bounty hunter did a back flip over the bar counter, pressing his body against the wood floorboards and using the counter as cover before Charries’s Vermin Gang opened fire. Twenty armed men and the Colonel. All armed.


The bullets shattered bottles and glasses covering the bar table, tore through the bar counter, one of the bar stools collapsed as a bullet shattered one of it’s leg.


The Gun fire slowly faded to an unsettling hush. The Colonel’s men stared in hushed silence at the bar counter, listening for any signs of life. The wood structure was riddled with bullet holes. No one moved.

“Did we get him?” One of the Vermin Soldiers asked, adjusting his gray kepi cap.

“Yes. We got him,” Charries told his troupes. “No one could survive that.”

“I thought The Silhouette was supposed to be faster than bullets and more powerful than an ox,” One of the Vermin Gunmen said aloud, scratching his bearded chin.

“Nothing more than ghost stories. Not even a challenge…but…bring me his body,” Colonel Charries commanded, pointing his prosthetic hand down at the drinking stand. “I do believe a stuffed and mounted Silhouette would make a perfect addition to my collection of game trophies.”

All twenty Vermin Gangsters made their way down the stairs, reloading their revolvers and rifles.

“Careful,” The Colonel warned his men. “No itchy trigger fingers. I don’t want any more damage to my trophy.”

The gun men positioned themselves in a perimeter around the sides of the bar. They stood in their position, no one approaching the counter where the body of the Silhouette rested.

“Well?” Charries asked, glaring down at his men. “Is someone going to check and make sure he’s dead?”

The Vermin Gang glanced at one another. Trying desperately to will their neighbors to step forward before the Colonel picked a scout.

“God Almighty,” Charries cried out in exhaustion and disgust. “I can’t depend on you yellow bellied lot for anything! Not even for retrieving a dead body. Even IF the Silhouette somehow managed to survive that barrage of gunfire…you still outnumber him. There are twenty of you and only one of him. I WON’T HAVE COWARDS IN MY REGIMENT! SOMEONE HAD BETTER SHOW ME THAT CORPSE’S HEAD OR I’LL SHOVING YOU MANGY LOT INTO CANNONS AND BLAST YOUR STUPID CARCASSES OUT OF SKULL GULCH!”

“Why don’t Ferret check it out?” A Confederate with dark red hair and wrinkled face covered with dark soot suggested.

A scrawny hunched over man who did indeed have the physical characteristics of a ferret’s head snapped to attention, being called out.

“Me? Why me?” The man named Ferret whined, darting his small dark eyes back and forth, his pointed nose twitching. “Why don’t you get him Charlie?”

“Just a quick peak,” Another gangster said, motioning to the bar table with his rifle. “We got you covered. He can’t do anything to you.”

Letting out a reluctant sigh, Ferret crept up to the bar counter, his trembling knees knocking together. He slowly inched his head over the counter peering down. The entire room was motionless. All the men, including the Colonel were holding their breath.

After a moment of studying the body, Ferret turned around and reported, “He’s dead! Help me move him.”

The Vermin Gang let out hoots of victory and lowered their firearms. Two men, Charlie and a large bald male missing all his teeth stepped forward and climbed over the bar counter and assisted Ferret in lifting the Silhouette’s body up from behind the counter for Charries to see. Ferret seized the Silhouette’s right arm, the toothless comrade taking his left and Charlie lifting up the Silhouette’s feet. The bounty hunter’s body was limp, red stains covering his dark coat, dripping to the floor. His head fell back in an unnatural position, his face still hidden behind his black preacher’s hat and face bandana.

“Excellent,” Charries smirked. “See boys? The Silhouette is nothing special. Nothing a bullet can’t stop.”

“Bet I hit him,” Ferret boasted, pointing to the red stain on the Silhouette’s robe proudly. “I’ve been practicing my shooting.”

“Don’t be stupid, I got him,” A Vermin Gangster with a large brown mustache called out, shoving his gun into it’s holster. “I’m the best shot in all Skull Gulch. I’m the only one skilled enough to fire a bullet into the Silhouette. Everyone’s going to know Hank Creek killed the Silhouette.”

“No you didn’t Hank! I shot him!” Ferret insisted, scowling at his crony. “Me! I shot him! I fired four shots at the Silhouette. I hit him! Ain’t nobody here can tell me I missed! Heck, I’ll shoot the man where he stands who tells me I missed!”

Just before the words had left Ferret’s lips, The Silhouette’s hand snapped back to life yanking free of one of the Vermin gang member’s grasp and reaching into his coat. In a flash the bounty hunter had drawn out his revolver pressing the gun barrel against Ferret’s forehead.

“Missed,” The Silhouette rasped into the horrified gangster’s ear. “My turn.”


Ferret’s head lurched backwards followed by his feet kicking up into the air as his scrawny body fell to the floor, blood pouring out of the quarter dollar sized bullet wound in his forehead. A portion of the dark blood had been sprayed over Silhouette’s coat, covering the red wine stains from the shattered bottles that the Vermin gang had mistaken for blood.

Ferret’s body was sprawled on the floor. It wasn’t exactly a surprise that he didn’t follow through with his threat to shoot any man who told him he missed.

It took a good five seconds of gaping at the dead Ferret and up at the Silhouette for the Vermin Confederates to realize the bounty hunter was still alive. When those five seconds had passed, hysteria arose.



The Silhouette gripped a hand around the large bald man’s neck, followed by swing his free leg out, and trapping Charlie’s neck in between the bounty hunter’s boots. The Silhouette made a sudden twist with his body causing the unbalanced group to collapse behind the bar counter and out of the Vermin Gang’s line of sight. As they fell, The Silhouette raised his hand gun up to the two Vermin Confederates.


The two gunshots rang out from behind the bar counter…one could guess bullets’ marks.

“OPEN FIRE!” Charries ordered his men, reaching for his army revolver in his holster.

The frantic and unprepared Vermin Gang raised their guns, several struggling to draw their gun’s out of their holsters. At the same time, The Silhouette had climbed on top of the bar table, brandishing two colt revolvers. Moving faster than thought, The Silhouette jumped off the counter a good seven feet in the air, firing his handguns down at the mob of Vermin Gangsters.


Six men that were carefully selected in less than a second dropped the ground. The Silhouette landed in between two Vermin Gang members, both of whom were brandishing rifles. The Silhouette’s two revolvers snapped up to his left and right, shooting both bandits in the head.


“SHOOT HIM YOU FOOLS!” Colonel Charries snarled, trying to aim his army revolver down at the active bounty hunter.

The Silhouette lunged to his right, ducking behind the bar’s piano as Charrie’s bullet hit a wood leg.

The Silhouette raised up a revolver from behind the piano and fired two shots up at the Colonel.


The first bullet pierced into the Colonel’s mechanical arm, the second slug struck Charries’s forehead. However; instead of penetrating the Colonel’s skull, the bullet ricocheted off his iron mask and hit into a chandelier overhead. The force of the bullet’s impact knocked the Gang Lord backwards and into the wall behind him. Fighting to maintain his balance, Charries twisted his body to fall into his office where he slammed the door behind him.

Knowing he didn’t have enough time to reload his empty revolvers, the Silhouette shoved the two handguns into his coat, planning out his next move as the remaining Vermin Bandits advanced.

The bounty hunter rushed out from behind the piano, slamming his fist into the face of a Vermin Bandit armed, with a rifle, and lifted the dazed man into the air, throwing him down on an abandoned card table and shattering it under the bandit’s weight.

Giving up on his futile attempts to draw out his revolver, Hank Creek pulled out his hunting knife, charging at the Silhouette from behind.

The bounty hunter’s body spun around to face Hank, dodging the bandit’s knife. As Hank tried to slash his hunting knife again, the Silhouette seized the Vermin’s arm and bent it with inhuman strength. Hank let out a scream of pain with the snap of his arm, dropping his knife and falling to the floor.

From the corner of his eyes, the Silhouette could see three men behind him, all three aiming guns at his back.

“We got you now,” A bandit with a revolver said as the Silhouette’s hand reached into his coat. “Shoot that ugly son of a…”

The Silhouette’s arm spun around, a long black blur following his hand.


The tail of a long black whip struck across the man with the revolver’s hand, causing him to drop his gun in pain. The Silhouette brought back his whip, preparing to strike again. Before the other two men could react, the Silhouette snapped out his whip, lashing a bandit in the face, creating a long cut in his face and causing him to drop his rifle. The Silhouette swung out his whip a third time, wrapping his weapon around the third bandit’s arms.

The Silhouette yanked at the whip, tugging the bandit towards him.


The Silhouette rammed his elbow into the Bandit’s jaw, shattering the man’s teeth like glass. As the other two men turned to run, The Silhouette shot out his whip, the chord wrapping around a bar stool like a snake. The stool was spun into the air and slammed across the backs of both Vermin Bandits causing both men to topple to the floor, groaning in pain.

As they began to rise, the Silhouette slammed down both fists into the back of their skulls, knocking both men unconscious.

Clearing the room of threats, the Silhouette wound back up his whip and placed it back into his black preacher’s coat. He ascended up the stairs, calmly reloading one of his revolvers. The bounty hunter positioned himself to the side of Charries’s private office door, gun at the ready.



The two rounds blasted massive holes through Charries’s Office door, a shower of dust and wood splinters over the side of the stairwell. It seemed the Colonel was using a more powerful gun. Some sort of a rifle. A powerful rifle in the skilled hands of a big games hunter and former military Colonel.




A hole, the size of a saucer appeared through the wall, only a few inches away from the Silhouette’s head.


“JUSTICE? WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT JUSTICE?” The Colonel barked, firing off another shot.


“I know that no one is above the law,” The Silhouette said, raising up his revolver and tensing his muscles.




At the sound of clattering metal, the sound of a rifle being reloaded, the Silhouette kicked down the office door, and charged in.

Charries’s office could best be described as a museum. Dozens of shelves baring ancient treasures and trinkets of the past. Old spears and glimmering jewels of the Ingiru Civilization, golden spears and skeletal remains of the ancient Aquatian Tribes arranged against shelves and small tables. Mounted across the walls were the heads of a rhinoceros, a lion, and a silverback gorilla. In the corner of the room, a stuffed jaguar and a tiger. Charries’s desk and floor were littered with old war plans and maps from past battles. A large map of the entire Territory was spread over a wall.

The Colonel was crouching behind his desk, trying to reload his hunting rifle with his only hand. The Silhouette lunged at the Gang Lord, kicking the rifle into the air and slammed Charries’s back against the back wall.

Pressing his gun barrel against Charrie’s neck, The Silhouette whispered, “You’re nothing. Nothing but an old man with a gun. Not even a Colonel.”

Letting out a roar, Charries slammed his iron helmet into the Silhouette’s head, dazing the bounty hunter. Shoving the Silhouette back, the Gang Lord struck the vigilante across the face with his mechanical arm, knocking his foe to the floor. The Silhouette started to pull himself to his knees. Charries’s boot struck the vigilante’s ribs, knocking the Silhouette onto his back.

“The mysterious Silhouette. So high and mighty,” Charries growled, drawing his army issue sword from it’s sheath and raising his blade over his head, hovering over the Silhouette’s heart. “We’ll see how grand you are when I have you stuffed!”

Just before the Colonel could plunge his sword down at the bounty hunter’s chest, The Silhouette’s legs rose up, and he planted both feet into Charries’s stomach, knocking the Gang Lord backwards. The Silhouette leapt back to his feet, wrapping his fingers around the Colonel’s sword handle, giving it the required twist to force Charries to release his weapon.

As the blade clattered to the floor, the Silhouette slammed his fist against Charries’s iron face. He slammed his other fist against Charries’s shoulder. He bashed his elbow against Charries chest, followed by a palm strike to the Ganglord’s exposed throat. Then, the Silhouette slammed his forehead with all his might, against Colonel Charries’s iron mask, slamming against the area that covered his forehead.


The pain filled both their heads. But the Silhouette was beyond the effects of pain. He was far too deep into his creed. No pain, no exhaustion, no emotion could penetrate into his mind.

Charries staggered back, gasping and wheezing. His helmet knocked out of position and blocking his sight. His hand went for his military revolver, knowing he wouldn’t be fast enough.

The gun fell from his only hand as he felt his feet leaving the floor. A pair of hands tightened around his shoulders, lifting him higher and higher into the air. Charries shook his head, trying to reposition his iron mask so he could see through the eye holes and understand what was going on. His body shook as he was repositioned so his body was parallel to the floor bellow him. Charries’s mask eyeholes fell back in place revealing the flaming eyes of the Silhouette looking back up at Charries.

And with that, the Silhouette threw Charries like a ragdoll through the air. The air rushed around the Colonel as he slammed against the stuffed jaguar, knocking the mounted cat over as he crashed onto the floor. Wincing at every movement, Charries tried to pull himself to his feet, but his legs gave out under him and he crashed back onto the floor. Charries stared down at his feet, his eyes fixed for a moment on the large shadow swallowing his body.

He looked up at the Silhouette, the figure’s black gloved hand wrapped around the handle of Charries’s own sword, towering over the Colonel like the angel of death.

“Last..chance,” The Silhouette rasped, the sword blade hovering threateningly over Charries. “Last…or you’ll lose the other arm.”

The Colonel stared at the sword for a long time, not making a sound. His military mind weighing tactical surrender and glory of death in battle. Finally, Charries let out a sigh.

“Fine…fine. We’re done,” Charries surrendered.

The Silhouette dropped the sword to the ground, knowing full well that Charries wouldn’t be stupid enough to try and snatch it up.

The Colonel wrapped his only hand around the corner of his desk and pulled himself to his feet. Rubbing his bruised shoulder, Charries went back to his desk, pulling out a drawer. The Colonel began to unscrew his mechanical arm, laying it out on his desk. He reached into his desk drawer, pulled out a small knife, digging it into his prosthetic, trying to extract the bullet lodged in the shoulder.

His iron helmet had a dent in the corner of the mask where the Silhouette’s bullet had been deflected. His old uniform seemed faded, worn out, and wrinkled…much like it’s wearer. The Old War hero’s body had lost posture of authority and power. He was now the old man with fading memories of war and glory trying to remove a bullet from a limb that he couldn’t even feel.

“Charries,” The Silhouette hissed, standing before the disgraced soldier.

“You bested twenty of my best men…all armed…bested me…all by yourself,” Colonel Charries said, shaking his metal head with wonder. “Incredible. The Stories about you were all true. Faster than a cougar….the strength of an ox…able to disappear in the shadows. The Avenging Angel of God’s Wrath upon all sinners and evildoers. Amazing. Must be something…being a legend. Being feared by every crook and cut throat. You are a legend Silhouette. How does it feel to be respected and feared by the entire territory? To be the subject of myths and tales around campfires? To be associated with darkness every time the sun sets?”

“I don’t do my work for the desire of glory or being labeled a legend, Charries,” The Silhouette replied staring down at the Colonel.

“No…I guess you don’t. The glory and legends are just a nice little bonus. At least they are at first. One day…you’re the hero of the Prairie. An idol figure of young boys and respected by all men. Then…time goes on…and you start to grow older and older. As your body grows wearily, gradually slow down to a crawl, muscles fading, people slowly begin to forget you. They don’t see you as the Hero but as a sorry old relic of a bygone era. You fade out of existence…and all your left with are your memories. Memories of a time where you were full of energy. An unstoppable force that could right any wrong. Beat unfathomable odds. Colonel Charries, Leader of the Seventh Regiment. The Invincible Man. Leading men into war after war. You know, I was the one who lead the first war against the Ancient Tribe’s first invasion. I won other victories for my country. The Victory of Aurora Hills, Battle of the River, The Cannon Ball Charge,” Charries said softly, resting his hand on an old war medal that was pinned to his chest.

“Now look at me. An old man hiding in Saloons surrounding myself with junk as old as he is. Trying to reclaim the ruins of city from a gang lord who has both numbers and youth on his side. Colonel Charries, the old fool who was blown apart by a cannon ball…deformed…and broken. A monster hiding behinda mask. Time humbles us all Silhouette. How much time do you have left in your body? How long till you’re repeating old stories to anyone who listens to you not for respect but pity? How long till you fade away like I have?”

“I need information Charries,” The Silhouette said, holstering his revolver. “Help me and I will leave you in peace.”

“What difference does it make if I die today or tomorrow? My time has gone. I’ve lost everything. My honor, my rank, my respect, my family, my friends.” The Colonel asked, then in a fit of rage, he yanked his mechanical arm into the air and hurtled it across the room yelling, “EVEN MY BLASTED ARM!”

The Colonel and the bounty hunter watched the arm bounce off the territory map and clatter to the floor. After a moment of silence, Charries let out a wearily sigh of surrender.

“What do you want to know?” he yielded sinking into his chair behind his desk.

“Velmur has gone missing,” The Silhouette hissed. “Know anything about it?”

Charries’s eyes studied the Silhouette from behind his iron mask, tilting his head. After a moment, the Colonel let out a tired laugh.

“You think I’m responsible?” The Colonel asked, shaking his iron head in disappointment. “Don’t insult me. I have better things to do than waste resources on kidnapping a little lawman. Only two reasons why you kidnap someone. You either want ransom or revenge. I would easily make the same amount of money in a single night’s profit from my saloons.”

“What about revenge?” The Silhouette asked.

“What revenge would exist between us? I have never crossed paths with Sheriff Velmur,” Charries answered. “How could I possibly have a grudge against a man I’ve never laid eyes on?”

“Velmur did play a large role in bringing down half of the Skull Gulch Syndicate Gang Lords,” The Silhouette replied. “Mr. Purple, DaVinci, the Watchman. Ever thought of avenging your friends?”

“Friends? Even if I did wait all this time to avenge those three fools, why would I go after the Sheriff when it was you who executed them? And furthermore, why would I want to avenge them? Friends indeed. BAH! Those three money grubbing lowlife snakes were never any friends of mine. I was a glorified war hero and they were riff raff bandits. If I didn’t depend on their presence to keep the other Syndicate Gang Lords from trying to overrun my ranks…I WOULD HAVE DONE THEM IN MYSELF!” Colonel Charries barked, slamming his fist down on his desk. “Did you know that back then, during our Civil War, just moments before our forces clashed with the Fort Spire Army, the other backstabbing, cowardly Syndicate Gang Lords abandoned their posts, taking their factions along with them. Just like that. Leaving what remained of my gang to take on the full force of the Fort Spire Soldiers. MAKE NO MISTAKE! IF IT WASN’T FOR THOSE TRAITORS RUNNING OFF JUST BEFORE THE BATTLE, WE WOULD HAVE WON THAT UPRISING! No question about it. And maybe I’d still have both my arms…and maybe I could have reunited this hell we call a territory.”

“Maybe you were not directly responsible, but perhaps you know who did kidnap the Sheriff. After all, you must have an extensive knowledge of half the current crimes and activities in Skull Gulch.”

“No, I can’t help you there. I’ve been far too busy with business affairs to make a list of who’s kidnapping who,” Charries replied, shaking his head. “But honestly Silhouette, you’re obviously no fool. Do you actually think I’m responsible for this Sheriff’s disappearance?”

The Silhouette stared silently at the Colonel Charries. The Colonel held the Silhouette gaze.

“No, I suppose not. Kidnapping has never been your style,” The Silhouette replied after a moment of silence.

“Then why are you here?” Charries asked, pulling a small flask out from a desk drawer turning his back on the Silhouette as he removed his iron helmet and took a swig from the flask, careful to hide his mutilated face. After drinking his fill, he replaced his iron mask and turned back to face the Silhouette.

“Rumors have been circulating that a new Syndicate is forming out of the smaller Skull Gulch Gangs,” The Silhouette rasped, examining the Territory Map in thought. “Call themselves the Reapers…following someone calling himself The Banshee.”

“Like you said. Rumors. Not facts,” Colonel Charries retorted, though his voice seemed far from convinced.

“Hrmph. So you deny their existence?”

“No…no they’re real. But the rumors of them being the next Syndicate is nonsense. The Reapers lack the discipline and resources to make it up to Syndicate level.”

“Know what they’re up to?”

“From what I gathered, they recently joined Roquor’s payroll, but they seem to have their own plans in mind. Been going out and doing all forms of savage deeds that even Roquor wouldn’t approve of.”

“What kind of deeds?” Silhouette asked.

“Murdering and pillaging throughout Skull Gulch. Recruiting small time low lives. Young people mostly. Impressionable types and teaching them how to be wild animals. Forcing smaller gangs to join the Reapers and kill the gangs who refuse. Slaughtering animals, setting places on fire. They’re savages.”

“Any confrontations with your outfits?”

“Killed six of my men in a raid at one of my saloons, two weeks back. Set the building on fire and left eight of my customers to burn. There was no looting afterwards. The Reapers didn’t strike for profits. They didn’t strike again when my boys arrived at the remains. They just did what they did without reason or cause.”

“Under Roquor’s orders?”

“Doubt it. Roquor and I haven’t clashed for more than two years. And like I said, even Roquer didn’t stoop to such savagery. And even if his mind did snap, greedy temptation would still make him order his men to loot for any valuable remains.”

“What do you know of their leader, The Banshee?” The Silhouette asked.

“Besides the fact the man doesn’t have a drop of sanity in his head…nothing. He and his gang have no territory or base. They just keep moving from place to place. If I knew where he was skulking I would merely send my troupes out and crush the animal.”

The Silhouette stood in silence, processing what information Charries had given. It didn’t seem likely the Reapers would kidnap the Sheriff over murdering him, and furthermore what connection would they have with Velmur? They were never in Overlook, and no matter how random a group acted, no one would travel such a large distance and kidnap a Sheriff without a motive.

Perhaps the kidnapping was under order of Roquor. But why? Would he have more fondness for the diseased Gang Lords Velmur and the Silhouette brought down than Charries? The more the Silhouette thought over the idea, the weaker a motive it seemed. No the Civil War was a clear demonstration that there was no honor among thieves as far as Skull Gulch was concerned. Besides, both War Lords had far larger issues on their minds.

It was obvious Charries’s truce with Roquor wouldn’t be lasting for much longer. The beginning confrontations between the Gang Lords were inevitable, leading to another Gang War. And if one side managed to emerge the victor…then the entire territory would be at risk. Skull Gulch was a large town, with as many bandits and cutthroats as soldiers in Fort Spire. If one of the War Lords seized control of all the gangs in town…of all the operations…if one of the Lords had Roquor’s numbers and Charries’s weapon caches…the delicate peace in the territories would surly end. Another Civil War in the Territories.

The Silhouette had to focus more efforts on resolving the Skull Gulch conflicts. It wasn’t enough to murder Charries and Roquor. Their demise would only result in new leaders taking up control of the gangs. The two Syndicates need to be weakened down at the same time. The Silhouette had to chip away at both forces in balanced and equal measures. Neither could have an edge over the other…regardless how small. And right now, Charries was down nearly thirty men.

“Where’s Roquor hiding, Charries?” The Silhouette asked.

Charries didn’t answer at first. Of course he had a good idea where Roquor was hiding. His Vermin gangs had reported the repositioning of Roquor’s goons. Unlike Charries, Roquor didn’t split up his forces to guard his interests. No, Roquor hired the small Skull Gulch Gangs to watch his businesses. Besides a few guards that patrolled the outside of Skull Gulch for Fort Spire forces, the majority of his forces were with Roquor at all times. The military strategist in Charries’s mind took command, evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of revealing Roquor’s hideout.

On one hand, he wouldn’t like to see anything better than to see the Silhouette snap Roquor’s neck like a twig. Perhaps the Silhouette could do what Charries and his Vermin Gang could not.

But on the other hand, Roquor would have his entire gang protecting him. Practically an army by itself. Say they killed the Silhouette, or worse yet, caught him alive. Say they tortured the Silhouette, demanding to know who revealed their secret hideout. Say the Silhouette gave Charries’s name up…Roquor would end the truce between himself and Charries. Roquor’s gang had more soldiers than Charries’s gang to begin with…and with the loss of an additional twenty men…Charries wasn’t sure the Vermin gang could survive another war against Roquor.

But then again…say Roquor finds out about Charries’s losses and decides to attack while Charries was at a disadvantage. Deep down, Charries knew his truce with Roquor couldn’t last forever…just as the truce between Skull Gulch and Fort Spire couldn’t last forever. No. Charries could not allow his side alone to endure the damages the Silhouette brought on. Roquor’s forces needed the same losses. The Silhouette was good…very very good. Even if he was killed by Roquor’s men, perhaps he would take a substantial portion of Roquor’s gang down with him. Charries had to keep the sides balanced.

“The old Skull Deep Lighthouse,” Charries said.

The Silhouette immediately turned his back on the old colonel, ready to leave the Saloon of sin.

“Can you feel it, Silhouette?” Charries asked.

“Feel what?” The Silhouette asked, turning to face the Syndicate Gang Lord.

“You’re getting old. Like me. Losing your ways,” Charries remarked, studying the Silhouette’s eyes.

“How?” The Silhouette asked, feeling a cold realization dig into his mind. “What ways?”

“Tell me, Silhouette,” the Colonel said, retrieving his hunting rifle from the floor and resting it on his desk before him. “Since when did you encounter a Skull Gulch Gang Lord and left him still alive?”

The Silhouette knew Charries was right. The urge to shoot the filth here and now was almost overwhelming. The bounty hunter could feel his revolver burning in it’s holster…screaming to be drawn and fired.

“A deal’s a deal,” The Silhouette hissed, turning his back once more and leaving the old colonel alone. “But the next time I’m in Skull Gulch, I’m coming for you.”

Colonel Charries loaded a round into his rifle, positioning the large weapon in his arm, the gun barrel following the Silhouette’s shadow as he descended down the stairs, the old war hero’s eyes narrowing into the determined stare of the relentless hunter.

“And when that happens Silhouette,” Colonel Charries muttered to himself, placing a finger lightly on the trigger. “May the better hunter win.”
AQW Epic  Post #: 8
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