Deadlands Reloaded: The Righteous, The Rough, and The Clever
Once I was a rancher. I lived in a small town in an especially unimpressive stretch of Arizona desert. What I call a town was little more than a general store, a saloon with a few rooms above it , our lawman’s one cell jail and a few houses surrounded by several farms and ranches. Population 84… at least until one hot July night.
I awoke on the 26th of July to a pounding at my door. When I made it to it I was greeted by our local preacher and few of my neighbors, who lived further outside of town, they had gathered together to head to the general store because judging by the light coming from town at least one or more buildings were burning. It was time to help out with the bucket brigade. I kissed my wife goodbye left my children asleep in their beds and went with everyone to fight the blaze. I’ll never know how we didn’t see the lawman riding towards my ranch house that night as we headed to town. When we got to town every building was alight and not a soul was left alive.
It wasn’t long before one of my neighbors noticed another light on the horizon coming from the direction my home. I took off running towards it with eight other men , one of them the Pastor, when we got to my house what I saw will stay with me to my end. My wife bloody and beaten wailing in pain and fear as she struggled towards the broken bodies of our children. Our lawman, our protector and guardian had done it all, the fires and the the killing. He stood there taking the things from me which had the greatest value laughing like a madman, we all charged those of us who were armed fired on him but it seemed to almost slide away before it harmed him, but it wasn’t until the fire sprung up in front of our charge that we realized we weren’t fighting a man.
The seven of us fought as hard as we could. All of us bore wounds either from his magic or the lawman’s knives. We were getting nowhere. It wasn’t until Frank Whittle had his belly sliced open and threw himself upon the lawman knocking him to the ground that we managed to subdue him. We then bound him hand and foot and gagged his mouth. Once I was sure the bindings would hold I ran to my wife and children. I was too late the Lord had taken them home.
What happened next was something I cannot forget for as I walked back towards our preacher I saw his eyes filled with fear and doubt and though he prayed I could hear the weakness of his fear and lack of faith in his voice . It was then I heard another voice it said to me "Vengeance is mine and mine alone but if you would serve me we could save this mans soul and shield my flock from the darkness inside him ". I t took me a moment of deep soul searching there to see if I could forgive the man who held the monster that killed my loved ones. If I could let go of vengeance and embrace forgiveness and with no one more shocked than myself just as my preacher gave up his prayers to the monsters mocking. I found my own raised in prayer given the word into my mind to exorcise the thing inhabiting this once good man and so I prayed and prayed and in my prayers I lost track of time.With the light of dawn I was told the thing that was once the lawman Jeff Brown wailed its last as whatever reanimated him was driven away.
I took a few days buried my dead and the dead in the town. Packed up my things and said my goodbyes and headed off to keep the vow I made that night that I will stand between the darkness and those it hunts and with his aid I ill be his sword and shield for vengeance is his and his alone but I shall serve as his hands.