Saturday, 3 February 2018

Deadlands - First Sight of the Patchwork Man

It was sunset when we returned to the dock and hidaway to watch the gibbet. We wait, and wait, becoming sore and distracted. Around midnight, we spot a figure climbing the gibbet. Assume male: hard to tell from the shape of the silhouette, but it's tall; broad as well, big all over. It reaches the cage and reaches its arm back to punch the lock. The clang reverbrates across the docks: if we hadn't spotted it before, we couldn't have missed that. Again. Again. The cage springs open and the figure drags out the body, slings it over its shoulder, drops to the floor and starts running.

It's fast - faster than us, even carrying the corpse. We head at it at an angle, which means Carson gets a swipe at it with his knife, catching a glimpse of stitches across its flesh, and I manage to cut down a washing line to tangle round it. It brushes it off as it passes and I shiver: it exudes a real air of menace. Carson fires as I scramble to the rooftops. I see it dive down an alleyway, but as I get there to look down it's gone. Chin and Carson are heading down a sewer in the alley, so I jump back down and, with Tesla, follow into the inky darkness. The four of us move as quickly as we can with a wavering lantern our only light. It's a winding passage, but there's only one route. We reach a dead end - a ladder leads us up, into Stinktown. We look around and see scuffs, and realise it's gone up, to the rooves. We climb and follow an erratic trail of broken tiles until even that goes cold. Disheartened, we return to the boat.

We sleep in later than normal, then head back to Stinktown to ask around about stitched-together people and try to rediscover the trail, but no luck. We return to Long-Haired Tony and relay what happened - he says we were very lucky, down in the sewers. They're full of spirits and demons. None of us doubt him. He's got no leads, so we head back to Stinktown to try again. 

We've not been there long, when we hear someone shout at Chin: "You shouldn't have returned after what you did. There's a price on your head, and we're going to collect." There's a large group of Tongs heading for us. Leading them is Chin Hsueh Wong, the guy we saw win the Kumite: skilled, arrogant, merciless. He stands back as the Tongs run at us.

I scramble to the roof of one of the marketstalls; Tesla tries to follow, but can't. Carson fires off enough magic to make CHW to recognise him as the greatest threat, so the martial artist leaps at him - which means it isn't until he looks round after Tesla tasors him in the back that he realises Tesla and our Chin have taken out the men who'd come with him. His response isn't what we expected: he sighs, rolls his eyes, and runs away.

As we move on, Chin explains he learnt to fight from someone who wasn't part of their school, and it looks like the grudge has been passed onto him.

We go back to asking questions we hope will put us back on the trail of the stitched-together man, and eventually hear from a man whose brother has gone missing. They're burglars by trade, and he's never been missing before. No idea if it's related, but the next day we hear more such stories - always criminals. I wonder whether that is because they're less likely to be missed by anyone in authority, or because someone's on a vigilante kick?

The blade won't be ready until the next day, Christmas Eve, so we all try and earn some money however we best can. I busk, alternating American folk songs with compositions of my own, in the hopes someone may hear something that will help them if they're in a similar situation to any of the problems we've faced. I do surprisingly well, considering my style and my audience. 

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