Blood, Guns, Cards, and Money
A tough, no nonsense, no frills around the edges, get the hell outta my way gunslinger. Traveling, independent lawman. He’s in the Disputed Lands because being neither Union nor Confederate, they have no support from the big law enforcement agencies of the US Marshals or the Texas Rangers. Certainly there’s a few sheriffs, but not in every town. That’s why they need Baker Hughes and that’s why he doesn’t need a badge. Loyal to no one place, he brings justice to where ever it’s sorely lackin’.
Dead bodies. After the shootin’s finished, someone has to know what to do with ‘em. That’d be me, a mortician. I’ve developed my trade, but one doesn’t just start out wantin’ to dabble with bodies n’ all. I used to be a doctor… well, a field surgeon for the U.S. Army. So many of my patients died I figured I developed more experience dealin’ with the dead than healin’ the livin’. I kinda blame the army for my fascination with death, and they didn’t take too kindly to what they’d created. My commanding Officer started getting on my case, some were accusing me of not even trying to save patients any more. Well, ta hell with that! None of it was true and I decided to leave. Sure, you can call it desertion if you want, that’s what they called it. With the current civil war n’ all, guess it’s a crime. I just headed to where the Army’s opinion didn’t matter and where someone with my skills might be needed. That’s what brought me to the Disputed Lands: away from the Army and where I might be more appreciated. I’ve been in Salina County as their mortician for about a year n’ half now. It’s quiet here, the local doc is a nice older fella, and they appreciate my services. I brushed up on my carpentry skills becoming the local mortician n’ all so I could craft up some nice pine boxes, and things have been dandy since. They like havin’ me here and no one bothers me or has a problem with me bein’ around the dead so much… it’s my job now after all.
He’s been in the business for a long time. The cattle business… what other business you think is gonna make as much money in the open regions of the west? He’s certainly made a good way for himself; head of many herds, president of the cattle ranchers association. And everywhere he goes his right hand is there with him. The boy started out working for him in the beginning. With his first herd. Well, he’s done such a fine job the Cattle King kept the boy around ever since.
He grew up in Kansas. That’s probably why he never left. Oh, and there’s this thing about his parents too. Their country home… yes, a rather picturesque ranch home… was burnt to the ground by raiders. His family was slaughtered and only he survived. A good family friend, Alexander Dawson, took him in and as the years passed it seems the Howard plot of land had a fair amount of gold hidden beneath. Well, Dawson got wealthy and moved out east because that’s where any proper wealthy person would live. Now James is his triggerman, doing work for him. He keeps Dawson’s business in order back home here in Kansas, and he supplies James with whatever he needs. Sure, sometimes the work is a little rough, but at least the kid’s not some stupid orphaned sod runnin’ with some gang and ending up takin’ an early nap in the dirt! Also, one o’ these days the Howard boy hopes to find out what band of outlaw raiders attacked his home and butchered his family.
The odds certainly seem to be in my favor. Heh, now at least. That’s right, they weren’t always. See back home I was a well known poker player, makin’ a good living. I was invited to a pretty private game held by some big wig politician; Donley was his name. Things seemed to be going pretty well. Speaker… Senator… whatever, Donley had invited two other decent players to the game. There were four of us and I was cleaning house. One hand I had a full house, Aces over Jacks, and took out one guy who had a flush and the other had a lower house. Hah! You should have seen the look on Donley’s face. He was in the pot too but was so mad he ended the game. I took the last of his chips and the second highest stack was only about twenty bucks… which is small in a four hundred dollar game. You’d never believe what happened next. Donley was so mad I thought he was going to kill me. But being some damned, clever politician, he thinks of something better. Right there he just blasts the other two players, BOOM, dead. I couldn’t believe it. Then he puts me at gunpoint and takes all the money… MY money! Then he sends one of his house keepers to the sheriff sayin’ I killed the other two blokes. He made some story that I was angry about loosing all my money. Hah! So the sheriff takes me in, but the crime is so egregious I’m handed over to the US Marshals. I get sent to federal prison. That was about when my winning streak and luck hit rock bottom. While I’m in jail, I wake up one night in my cell… a cell I was put in alone. There was a man, hidden by the shadow, sitting in my cell. I figured they finally decided to give me some company and provide a cell-mate. Then this guy started talkin’ like he knew me. Said I was a great poker player, cheated of what was rightfully mine. And he gave me a book. Hoyle’s Book of Games it was, and that book changed everything. The next morning I woke up, the man was gone, but I still had the book. I had nothing else to do for the 2 years I was locked in that federal prison but read that damned book. I began to realize it wasn’t just a book about card games… there was more hidden in the words of those pages.
Well, to make a long story short, I got out. After two years, I got out of that terrible prison. I went back home and I found that Senator… or whatever the hell he is… and I went into his house when he was out of town on politician’s business. I went into his fancy room where that fateful poker game was played, found his safe, and stole everything he had. Then I set the place on fire. Now you can probably figure out why I’m here in the Disputed Lands. Uh huh, that’s my face on those posters back north. Promise me you won’t tell the Marshals.
The Scottish Preacher
Gaebril Abernathy was born in the Scottish highlands. His parents brought him to America, the land of hope and opportunity. Well Gaebril always imagines that his good father had found that American joy, but unfortunately it didn’t pass on to Gaebril very much. When a tunnel collapse killed his father, his mother decided life wasn’t worth much anymore. She left Gaebril with Preacher Molsen in Boston and was found dead the next morning. Eventually, that blessed man showed Gaebril the true hope and opportunity in life: the gospel. When he came of age and was himself ordained, Gaebril had some adventures in the wilder parts of America spreading the good word. On one occasion he lost the life of a dear friend, on another he met his beautiful wife. After establishing a home with his newlywed wife in Laramie, Wyoming, all seemed to be right in Gaebril’s life. He couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful and sweet-hearted wife, and their home was close to the Indian Sioux Nations so he could live his goal of bringing them salvation. There was just one last piece that had to be set straight… meeting Penelope’s former fiance. Turns out he’s a surgeon in Dodge City, Kansas. After that blemish is mended, Gaebril hopes to return home and live his redeemed life.