An Occult Book Collection – (May 9th 1875)
The posse go out with the Sheriff’s deputies to talk with the wife of John Sutler who did the shooting and after much conversation, an inspection of the tobacco and the toiletries they find an empty bottle of Mistress Victoria’s Patented Health Elixir. Mrs. Sutler doesn’t know about her husbands use of this and the name of Mistress Victoria is identified by the deputies as being a traveling Gypsy sales woman who came through a week ago selling all sorts of things like love philtres, ointments and tinctures for all the things that ail folks.
They return to town and find that another shooting has happened and this time the school Marm who did the shooting was shot and killed. A search of her home reveals another empty bottle of the elixir. Interviews reveal that Mistress Victoria took the south road out of town, and there is apparently a reporter also following this story. Her travel through a couple of other towns north of Rocky Ford were riddled with similar shootings. The Sheriff forms up a Posse to follow the Gypsy wagon south and the next morning off they and the posse go, since that was the direction that Dancing Crow needed to head in anyway. The reporter accompanies them. The second morning after going through one town that the Gypsy also stopped at the Reporter ditches the group, possibly to ride ahead.
By mid morning of riding the Posse out of Rocky Ford has come to the little town of Pueblo Viejo, a very small and desolate town. It seems it is on the verge of becoming a ghost town. The Hotelier is very happy to see the business and the Posse learn that Misstress Victoria is still here in town staying in the hotel. While the deputies go in to arrest and talk with the woman our heros go find her wagon and break into it to find the elixir and whatever other foul things she might have.
They find the elixir and a small note book and of course many other concoctions and ingredients. Miss Vicky is brought out to hand over her recipe book. She claims that a man attacked her demanding to know its location and it is speculated after her description that it was the journalist who rode ahead. After some pressure Miss Vicky hands over a book from a secret compartment in her cart. It is titled Theoria Alchimia -written in latin and very fine caligraphy, it is obviously very old and has many handwritten notes in the margins. After looking the book over the Posse discuss with the deputies and it is decided that the reporter fellow who attacked Miss Vicky is likely to come back and try to steal the book again. So they prepare to set watches.
While talking with the Hotelier they learn about a local group of religious folks who come through occasionally. The reverend is asked to hold a prayer service after dinner for the few who remain in town. During the second watch Daren and Dancing Crow hear noise and Daren finds the fellow as predicted trying to get the book from the cart. He and the deputy are escorting his under gun to the jail when the strange fellow cuts and runs – after transforming into a great big white horse! Daren shoots and runs after the creature. Dancing Crow gathers horses and the rest of the Posse and gives chase.
After an hour Daren is walking and has lost sight of the horse. He’s following the tracks but is very tired. The Posse join him and they continue, at one point seeing the tracks continue and the vision of the horse in a completely other direction, they opt to choose the tracks. Then the tracks just disappear. Looking around the Posse sight an Indian riding a palomino, and they try to approach him but he and his two companions turn tail and disappear too. The Posse have ridden a long way and see a small compound in the distance so they decide to investigate.
The compound is circular and has five buildings with it, as well as many corpses. The Posse investigate the buildings finding two dormitories, a dining hall, chapel and rectory. The search of the rectory reveals a stash of occult books with false covers, a journal in code, and a hidden trap door into some underground tunnels.
The Reverend, Daren and Evelyn go down the ladder and explore the tunnels which have similar entrances and shapes under all of the buildings. All except the chapel which has a pedestal below the ladder that appears to have been used as a bloody altar. After several minutes exploring the three of them are trying to decide what to do next and the Reverend thinks he hears something, and has a feeling of menace, a feeling that they are being watched.