Jed's Journal - Episode 4 - Hello Castle Dale

It's been a long road with these here weirdos.

The Spanish one kept asking me tough questions. I tried to give my usual answers to deter further questioning but that didn't stop her, I could see resolve in her cold eyes. That's when she showed me what laid underneath that silver mask. I seen some shit, but I ain't never seen any of that.

Anyway Richard got all in a hurry to reach town before sunset and went on ahead. He sure could ride a lot better than I expected of him.

There was also the event with Hank and that rattle snake. That curious scientist is gonna get his self into a whole lot of trouble without the proper protection. Someone like Mary, although I can't seem to make out why she's follow him around this part of the world.

Ai woke up from her rest just before we arrived at Castle Dale, something was on her mind as we approached, maybe she was just anxious to get out of the wilds.

This town seems to grow every time I see it, practically have to start calling it a city now. 

The sun was just about to set and my old bones needed some rest. So I explained to the posse the anti gun rules of Castle Dale. They heeded my warning and i tried to look the other way when Mary stashed some contraband inside her guitar.

The miners seemed more active than I remember, especially so late in the day. The two large smokestacks were also fuming with much vigor. 

The posse got out of the coach and headed to the gate while I tended to the horses, getting them into the stables and storing my wagon and most of our supplies in the storage facility outside the city. I saw Richard's horse in the stables, so at least we know he made it safely to city ahead of us.

As the posse approached the gate I could see that it was Jeff and Bearl at post today. Two of the younger guards that I know of. Ai strode on up and placed herself in the middle of their conversation about gambling. Bearl seemed to take quite a liking to our companion and they barely even checked our gear before letting us in. 

When questioned about the walls the boys didn't have many answers for our posse but they did mention somethin' about creatures in the mines. They called em' Jibbers but couldn't say much more than that. Probably a local rumor, or a story they tell the kiddies to keep em' sleepin' at night.

I should note that Hank was able to bring his strange device through the gates without a problem. He called it an instrument, and standing next to Mary with her guitar made it seem more plausible. I wasn't about to say anything o' contrary either.

Once inside the gates Ai quickly took her leave, but made sure we would wait for her before leavin' town. I had my own business to attend to slipped away to do so.

Mary and Richard then continued down main street looking for the Sleeping Pig Inn, which Bearl recommended was one of the finer establishments in town.

It wasn't too hard to spot and once they arrived they both headed to the bar to get a drink. Hank ordered a whiskey and was served without question, but as soon as the bartended noticed Mary he told her quite harshly the they didn't have any tequila. 

Mary wasn't really surprised at this, seeing how tequila has become quite rare in the past years. But the bartender's attitude was overly aggressive and she could tell he was lying to her. So she sternly replied asking for some tequila. 

The inn went quiet. The bartender begrudgingly poured a shot. I hear it was half empty and he tossed it to her spilling even more on the counter in front of her.

She was shocked. Hank could barely believe his eyes either. That's when Mary could stand it no longer and asked the bartender directly if there was a problem here. He shrugged. Then as the story goes Mary said "because this here is a problem." As she gestured to the spiller tequila.

The bartender looked as if he was about to get her another shot to make amends when he pulled his gun on her.  Before she even had a moment to think he pulled the trigger. Luckily for Mary it was a false gun that they use for the festival and t left barely more than a bruise. I had forgotten it was that time of year and neglected to tell the posse about these guns.

The whole inn erupted in laughter. And the bartender poured Mary another round, a double, on the house. Mary and Hank were both a little thrown off by the strange custom of this town.

But either way they got a table and began to talk about the mysterious events surrounding both of their lives. Mary was curious about a spirit that she could see followin' Hank and Hank was similarity curious about Mary's own invisible companion.

Just when the conversation was finding a good rhythm a local man known as Oscar Garrison entered the conversation. Oscar was very helpful, giving the posse more information about the general  area and about Castle Dale specifically. Oscar also informed them about the musical competition held at tomorrow's festival. The winner of which gets a change to play at the gala and meet Dr. Bartholomew. Which highly interested Hank's scientific mind. The group decided they would participate in this competition and Oscar offered to show them around and help out however he could.

As they chatted a very tall man entered the inn without a word. It silenced the patrons. The man was easily recognizable by the large metal jaw in place of his own. He spoke very little and drank very much. But all knew him as Hector, one of Dr. Bartholomew's men. Talking resumed and Hank noticed a similarly curious man sitting in the far corner. He's been there all along, but just now Hank was noticing his prosthetic arm. It was made of dozens of moving parts each whirred and moved at the man's slightest intention.

Hank made quick friends with the man with the clockwork arm and earned that this was Albert Freeman, one of Dr. Bartholomew's leading engineers. They discussed technology for a while and when the topic of Captain Tessa Montgomery came up Albert became oddly reserved. He began putting up walls around the subject and Hank took the hint and stopped asking questions.

Mary exchanged a few words with the steel jawed man as well. Learning that his own prosthetic came from "an accident". The night proceeded calmly with Oscar hanging around livening the mood.

That's when the drunker than drunk Harold, an old friend of Oscar's, showed up. Harold was very well known to be a sore loser and drink and gamble all his money away. Most places didn't accept his patronage anymore, the Sleeping Pig included.

The bartender told Harold the go back to the loose canoe, one of the few remaining saloons in town that would accept him, but Harold was creating such a commotion that no one heard the bartender yell.

Harold was pissed at Oscar, screaming about how Oscar stole his money. It was quite clear however that Harold had pissed it away as usual and Oscar merely reaped the rewards. Things were tame for a few moments and until Harold pulled out his gun. He was too drunk to stand up straight though so most people ignored him thinking it was just a false gun.

However Mary and Oscar both spotted that this wasn't quite the case. Harold seemed to be faking, or perhaps just exaggerating in order to get close to Oscar. Oscar played it up well, not letting Harold know he knew it was a ruse. Suddenly Oscar kicked a chair at Harold knocking him over and making him drop his gun.

Harold fled quickly and Oscar grabbed the gun, checking to confirm his suspicion. It was indeed a real gun. Oscar then tossed it to the bartender to confiscate it. Albert saw that Hector was now nearly unconscious on at the bar cursed loudly when he got up to go chase Harold down. Hector stumbled after them too.

The rest of the night went smoothly and Mary got a room for both her and Hank. Oscar left to go outside the city to rest at his camp. That night Mary didn't sleep, does she ever? And she watched Hank, wanting to learn more about this goat-faced man that may speak with him in his dreams.

She waiting until Hank was clearing dreaming and then used one of Hank's glowin' bottles to look for the spirit. She found him staring at her and there was then some kind of struggle within herself. This seemed to have cast away the spirit haunting Hank but not without confirming that there is indeed a real force haunting him.

The morning came and Hank felt uneasy. He described it as a lack of inspiration. I was downstairs eatin' some good ol' oatmeal when Hank came downstairs after a bath. He looked good all cleaned up. Mary was outside watching the people prepare for the daily festivities. Oscar strode back into town confidently and helped a few children practice their shootin' on his way to the Sleeping Pig.

Hank thought a bowl of oatmeal looked pretty good and began chatting with Esther the owner of Sleepin' Pig, she was working the morning shift. They discussed the competition and Esther told Hank that it was unlikely they could get a spot but she knew who he could talk to get a foot in, for a price. Hank feelin' unusual thought maybe a deal like this could help snap him back to normal. 

I witnessed most of their deeds in the back room. I'm not sure Hank was aware I could see them until the very end. But from what I could tell Esther had a good enough time. The exchanged a few more words and Ester told him who to contact. It was her cousin, Eugene, who helped setup the competition.

I hung around after Hank left. Maybe Esther and I could get familiar as well if I played my cards right.

The posse, including Oscar, headed north in town. Along the way Oscar pointed out a few key locations in Castle Dale. First was Esmeralda's Garment Factory, a good spot to get some fancy clothing. Hank noted that he could use a note hat. Mary agreed.

Next on the tour was a large construction project that Oscar called a "Watchery Tower" which he said could be used to see far beyond normal once it is completed. And then he made a point of showing the Loose Canoe, and saying they should probably stay away from such an establishment. 

Finally they reached Castle Park. A lush park filled with greenery uncommon in this part of the world. Dr. Bartholomew's science has given this boon to the people of Castle Rock and it has had a noticeable impact on the general mood in town. The park was full of musicians and townsfolk alike. Oscar was quickly able to locate Esther's cousin and the posse confronted him.

Eugene seemed amicable enough but matter o' factly told the group that unless an act were to drop out there was no room for them. Hank asked which of the groups would be most easily convinced to do so. He pointed towards a group of three young men dressed as mariachi's practicing on their guitars. 

The sight of this group both intrigued and angered Mary. She immediately approached the group and was ready to reprimand such a display of insult to her culture. But she was surprised when they turned to see her and called her by the name "Goncalvo". This was one of her former band members and they went on to explain that young Goncalvo had come through Castle rocks a few weeks ago and helped these brothers solve the mystery of their mother's murder. He stayed for a while a taught them a little guitar and they wanted to honour him in the festival.

Mary was touched by this a the posse decided instead of convincing the brothers to drop out they may be able to join forces. Hank was confident he could helped them using his device to create a beat and Oscar offered to help using a Jug as well. They were scheduled the play last so Oscar thought he'd try his shootin' hand in the tournament while the other acts played their songs.

Oscar won the first round without a problem. The second against a local favourite, Alvin Smiley, ended in a draw, the fake bullets clashing mid air. The judges took a a few moments to discuss how things would proceed and decided to alter the bracket and move both shooters forward. Oscar succeeded again in the semi finals and the final round was a three way shoot out between himself, Alvin and Ned, an elderly man who was known for his shootin' skill in the war.

Tensions were high, and each shooter eyeballed each other trying to get any slight advantage. Alvin ended up getting the drop on Oscar, taking him out, but in a shocking turn Ned had shot at Alvin, leaving him alone standing and awarded the one hundred dollar prize. I sure hope Ned kept an eye on his back, as many eyes were on that many as he walked away victorious.

I had made it just in time to see the show and the musical acts this year were some of the strongest yet. Even Craig, usually good for a couple laughs, surprised everyone with a good tune up alone on stage. The Snakeoilers played a darn good song, and Billy & the kids delighted the park with their new science based instruments.

Finally it was our turn. Mary led the group on stage. There was a sudden hush when the crowd saw a real Mexican on stage with the Bruddle boys. Ain't many of them left. Then Mary began playing, or was she just tuning her instrument, it was hard to tell. But the intensity picked up. As the Bruddle boys joined in and Hank with his device. Even Oscar's jug blowin' added to the effect. 

The song was so powerful and moving that even when Oscar dropped his jug it didn't take anything away from the performance. Then Mary began to sing. I don't know about the whole crowd but I felt for those few moments that I could understand Spanish. It was a song of hope and victory over the things that go bump in the night. Purely amazing, and the crowd agreed. Erupting into a roar as the song finished. 

Our posse had clearly won the hearts of the town. And somethin' about the performance had changed the atmosphere, the already lush park took on a brighter quality. You really felt like things would be okay here. It made me want to stay longer in this place.

But the wilds will call to me again, as they always do.

Notable Quotes

"Ah, shiet! I broke'd muh gun!" - Harold

"Well I did just have a bath." - Hank

"That hat is small and stupid. It provides no shade from the sun at all." - Mary

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