Cursed together - A.K.A. Deadlands at Kitten Lair

A Mid Winter Picnic
Chapter 1

A Midwinter Picnic

After a while those of the posse who ran away each realize they aren’t being followed and then they make their way back to the clearing following the reassuring yells of Daren. The decision is made to burn Klein/the wendigo’s monstrous body. Joe Cobb realizes the red object on the boulder is two pieces of a person’s skull with the flesh gnawed off and the skull cracked open like a coconut. He also notes there’s writing in the surface of the rock also, but he is then too sick to his stomach to look further.

The Reverend steps up and deciphers the writing to be “God Forgive M” which he suspects was meant to be God forgive me. Kibechay finds ripped clothes and the large hairy fur coat that Klein was wearing. A further search is made of the surrounding area led by Kibechay and a smaller cave, more like a den is found with more bones within and the weapons of LtCol Shilcher too.

On return to the larger cave the Posse find Corky, Jebediah and Roussé gathered around the fire eating jerky. Kibechay is at first annoyed, and then horrified as he realizes that the jerky from his stores they are eating was not right, not all his and he begins to suspect that Klein somehow slipped them all jerky by contaminating Kibechays food supplies for their trip. (He believes this because the large coat had a big empty pocket on the inside) He ran out of the cave he was so upset and was followed by Daren who understands some of what Kibechay is saying.

Meanwhile, Roussé is losing control of himself growling and eating jerky, he suddenly screams out a horrified piercing scream and begins writhing and changing before everyone’s eyes. Corky starts screaming too and everyone else is stunned in horror watching this person changing, becoming a horrible creature right before their eyes. At last realizing what is happening several people get weapons out and throwing caution to the wind Joe Cobb casts the hex Soul Blast twice. With the second casting he managed to do three wounds to Rousse’s head and he falls dead and Joe horrified for his own reasons loses his lunch. Kibechay unable to contain his fear manically hacks at Rousse’s body until he also throws up.

The smell of fresh blood is heavy in the air and everyone is disturbed by it, by the way it evokes hunger, and then nausea. After a few minutes Kibechay reveals that his stores of meat may have been contaminated by Klein and that he fears they may all now be tainted by the evil spirit Wendigo.

Because of the way everyone is feeling, the concern is accepted as fact by the group. Then Corky chimes in about the journal which she has been reading for Dr. Pat and she reads some excerpts aloud and then passes it to Dr. Pat to read another part that seems to be an interview with a Shaman about the Wendigo. These extracts confirm Kibechay’s fears as Klein has written about trying to control the hunger by eating others who have eaten human flesh.

Discussion as to what to do about it range from the Reverend Ainsworthy trying to use exorcism to cleanse everyone spiritually, to finding other Shaman’s who might have ideas of how to help them. The Posse then dispose of bodies and pack and leave the cave to head back to Fort Lamar.

Excerpt from Bill Klein_ ’s journal of interview with Shaman Inoei of the Beothuk

The Wendigo is a dark greedy spirit, it trys with the weak man in sleep, in dreams and sometimes it succeeds. Other’s it trys when our spirits are weak, when the great spirit seems to not be watching over us, or so we think. The Wendigo likes to take the strong then, but it is a greedy spirit, it would take us all, if given a chance.

I asked How does it take the strong?: It waits til the strong man is hungry, so hungry he eat of his own kind. Then the wendigo has him though he not see this truth. Then his dreams are haunted, he can do nothing but hope for another meal of flesh. He will have it and another, and again,‑ there is no other course with the wendigo. It is too strong to resist all the time. Wendigo take, and it take. It make monster of its victim.

So it never ends? Or is there a way to break the Wendigo’s hold?: Death is the end for the Wendigo craves lives as well as flesh. It will take as many as it can. The stories tell of whole villages taken by the greed of Wendigo. One legend say that warrior Haumetai slay Wendigo, but he only kill one of Wendigo’s victims, one possessed.

Wendigo can’t be killed then? Only its victims?: The one it takes to eat others can be killed yes, but it will make him very strong, very hard to kill.

How hard to kill?: This I don’t know. The legends say, he will be fast, he will be strong, but more than that they don’t tell.

The hunger the victim feels, can they resist at all? How long do they have before they can’t?: The Wendigo patient spirit, it always waiting for the right time, it will wait for victim to give in, even strong man eventually give in.

What if the victim, now marked, doesn’t give in again to the hunger?

I continued to press him for answers on how a strong man might resist, but he didn’t have any answers.

below from rest of journal

…It is incredible how alive I feel after eating him, how much stronger, and most telling of all, how much less bothered by my complaint. The sickness is gone!

…My desire to eat human flesh is growing and I do not know how much longer I can resist the urge to kill and eat. .but I must resist! as long as I can, or resign myself to hell. .

. ..It is a sad thing that I find anything may justify it, if I feel tired or if I am congested in the head then the thought occurs that I can make it go away if only I eat the flesh, sometimes even the thought that I might not feel as strong in the morning is enough, such is the strength of my fear of the sickness’ return, that I leap upon my cure again and again.

.. I know the longer I wait the easier a time I will have in my feast. There will be fewer to object or fight me, fewer who would judge me. If I can wait til others are crushed under the heel of desperate hunger, then I will face no judgement at all, only companionship.

. . .I have concluded based on these feelings of hunger that I must discover a way to control and minimize my urge to eat human flesh. There must be a way that I may keep my strength and health and not need to always eat of another. If I limit myself to only eating when I am sick or wounded then surely my will is bound to grow stronger. Also if multiple people such as myself can sate the hunger on each other instead, then perhaps we can sate it longer.

A Scream in the Night

A Scream in the Night

After searching and listening the Posse find some evidence of Klein’s passage: a few drops of blood, a suspicious scattering of leaves, and an arrow – presumably one of the ones Dancing Crow shot at him as he ran away.
(Joe Cobb decides to use the Arrow to look in on what Klein is doing using a hex. He learns that Klein is eating somewhere in the forest.)
After several more minutes trying to find Klein, Kibechay mentions that LtCol Shilcher is gone and that it’s “bad be alone now” so a search for the Col is begun and Folks call out for him too. After several more minutes of searching the Posse hear shots fired and they all head at a run towards the sound. When they get there they find the body of the LtCol gutted. His guns were gone and there was no sign of Klein.
In discussion it is decided to take the bodies and burn them and since it’s getting dark the Posse also decide to make camp in the Cave which is the most defensible place. After setting things up, gathering wood, burning the bodies, cooking dinner and setting watches the Posse hunkers down for the night. First and second Watches pass without incident. In the midst of the 3rd watch everyone is awakened by a horrendously loud scream that turns into a roar from the direction of the Forest. The Direction is noted and everyone is ready for an attack that never comes.
Since everyone is awake anyway, the Reverend examined Erick Roussé to see if he can help the poor soul who seems so very sickly. On closer inspection he discovers two leg wounds badly bandaged on the man’s thighs. On removal of the bandages he found that the wounds had festered and that it looked like two large slabs of the meat of his thighs were cut away. The reverend prays, lays on hands and it’s a Miracle! Roussé stands up completely healed.
Daren talked to Kibechay to learn more about the Wendigo spirit that Kibechay keeps talking about. He learns that it is an evil spirit that once it gains a hold on a person is not so easy if at all possible to shake off. Kibechay indicates that he does not trust Erick Roussé because he suspects he has been touched by the Wendigo spirit.
Dawn breaks, breakfast is had, and everyone feels great despite the interrupted sleep. So the decision is made to go back out into the forest and try to track Klein again. Roussé, Corky and Jebediah remain behind in the Cave. After a lot of searching the Posse finds a clearing (that looks familiar to Joe) and they spot a suspicious red object on top of a boulder on one side of the clearing.
Joe urged the rest to stay back. He went toward the object and narrowly avoids being caught in a large Bear trap. Joe decides to try his hex again using the trap to target Klein, and he sees himself and the rest of the Posse behind him, it seems that the perspective of Klein is from above, maybe in the trees. He also notices that Klein appears to be covered in white fur or wearing fur.
Joe turns around and points his shotgun at Klein in the trees and it misfires. Realizing he’s been seen, Klein who does not appear to be human any longer, jumps out of the tree and charges. Simultaneous to this the rest of the Posse see him and most on seeing that they no longer face a man but some huge scary beast with white fur, claws and fangs like knives, -well most of the Posse run away, even Joe and Kibechay too. The only person who doesn’t run is Daren. Daren shoots and shoots, dodging as the mammoth creature with foul breath and huge claws attempts to kill him. It takes every last bullet in Daren’s gun but he finally puts the thing down. It’s lucky Daren is such a good shot as every shot was aimed at the creature’s head.

A Tale of Wagon Trail Woe
Wagon Trail Woe

A Tale of Wagon Trail Woe

The next morning with Kibechay guiding them most of the Traveler’s head back to the site of the stage coach ambush and build a cairn of stone over the bodies of the Stage coach driver and the bandit. This takes most of the day. On their return they learn of the Mountain man’s recovery. His name is Bill Klein, and with Col Hughes and the rest they listen to the man’s story:

We left in the spring out of Abilene, and we were a small wagon train. Our goal was to make it to Salt Lake by winter. There were eight of us, Old Ben Calhoun, the Wilsons – Howard Wilson, his wife Elizabeth and their son & daughter: James & Ruth, and there was Erick Roussé, an accountant, myself and our guide, a Lt Robertson.

All should have worked out fine, had we stuck to the known way, but our guide Robertson, (a despicable and callous fellow) professed he knew a shorter route and so we followed. For a time it seemed we were doing alright, then one difficulty after another seemed to strike us. We’d get stuck in the mud, or a wagon wheel would break and we’d lose time to righting that, or a horse would throw its shoe. One night our oxen broke their tether line and we lost a few days rounding them up again. Finally when it was starting to getting cold at night, we decided to stop just for rest for a night in a cave, because Calhoun an I both had caught a cold and the others needed a break too. Then a storm rode in on us that night and we were snowed in. We thought it would be small, or melt off, but it didn’t.

Had we stuck to the trails we’d have had more opportunities to resupply, but our food was already running low and still we were trapped by the weather. We tried to shoot for the pot. I had a rifle, so did Ben. It wasn’t enough. The oxen went first, then the horses and still we were trapped by Winter. We turned to eating our belts, any spare bits of tack we could find.

Then one day I was out hoping to get lucky with the last of my ammunition, the other’s were out foraging for anything, roots, nuts, anything, and then old Ben, he expired from malnutrition, exhaustion. And when I returned to the cave they were roasting his legs over the fire.

God forgive me! We were so desperate! God help me, . . when I stepped into the cave an smelled the scent of roasting meat again, ..after so long,.. . I praised the Lord “Thank God!” I said to myself.. .

It was not to end there, and though Ben should have lasted us a week at least, he didn’t. I ate sparingly but others did not, especially LT Robertson. And afterwards the hunger seemed more intense in us, it was more severe, savage in him especially. Nothing would satisfy except more, and more! Mr. Wilson was the next to die. Robertson said he fell, that it was an accident, but I was sure it was otherwise, so it was that I realized my days were numbered. God forgive me, . .I couldn’t fight him, I was a coward. .. for I left, and I’ve wandered since not knowing which direction to turn. It must have been sheer providence that guided me here!

Col Hughes and LtCol Shilcher immediately agree that something must be done to help the rest of those people in LT Robertson’s power. (Kibechay is heard muttering to himself by others and speaks to Dancing Crow of “Wendigo” – some sort of evil Indian spirit.) It is decided that Shilcher, Kibechay, and Aaron Myers will go and the Reverend, Joe, Daren and the rest are persuaded to join in the journey as well. So the Posse gathered supplies and prepared to go to the Cave with Klein as the guide the following morning.
The two day journey takes them higher up and over the snowy crest of the mountain. They camp but nothing eventful happens on the way except for a lone wolf that watches the transit of the group for a while. On the other side and down into the valley there the snows are gone, and as they get closer to the cave, everyone notices Klein is getting jumpy. (Kibechay mutters Wendigo repeatedly and it’s obvious he doesn’t trust Klein even if he is frightened of facing Robertson.)
At last the Posse find the cave. Bill Klein is quivering he’s so nervous and he refuses to go into the cave. Most of the Posse go in and a search begins. Investigation of the cave reveals many signs of occupation. Not much is found in the upper level of the cave aside from a suspicious package of jerky by a smoking rack. In the lower level the Posse finds bodies, including a prisoner who once given some water identifies himself as Erick Roussé. Also found are 7 skulls and what looks to be bones equivalent to full skeletons to go with them including some that look smaller to the Reverend. Some personal effects are also found including a photograph, jewelry, a journal, clothes, a few gold teeth and a Union Soldiers uniform. Suspicious because of the uniform, and the body count, LtCol Shilcher questions Erick Roussé who has no knowledge of someone named “Bill Klein” but does say that Robertson is the one who tied him up.
Meanwhile outside the cave Klein looks like he’s having a fit. In the course of flailing about on the ground he comes up with a big knife with which he then stabs Aaron Myers. Kibechay and Dancing Crow had been watching and Kibechay launches his Tomahawk at Klein and Dancing Crow shoots her bow, but Klein is moving incredibly fast and dodges these attacks. Dancing Crow also shouts out to draw people out of the cave to help. Klein then proceeds to grab Myers by the hair and hacks at the man’s neck until he finally just rips the head clean off and runs away. Dancing Crow gets off another shot and a couple other shots are attempted just as Klein enters the cover of forest.

Taking a tumble

After riding in the coach for a few hours and having the first change of horses, the traveler’s nearly have their teeth shaken out as the stage coach takes a tumble into a ravine. Daren had heard the driver’s son cry out so he saw the horses running wild and just had time enough to warn the others and jump clear of the coach before it went over.

While getting clear of the wreckage and assessing the health of the driver (who was shot through the heart) and his son, the Travelers found themselves accosted by a man armed with a shotgun and a pistol, demanding the stage coach’s iron box where the valuable mail items and money were kept. After a few sharp words and then a lead ridden moment to clear the air, the fellow was dead and his accomplice was heard not long after riding for his life.

Soon after this, an indian appeared on the other bank of the creek, saying “peace White man, I heard shots.” The indian also observes the horses are done for and proceeds to help by putting down the ones that were too badly injured. Most of the horses were hurt bad, so bad that they were put down, only Dancing Crow’s horse which broke it’s tether and Daren Atkin’s which had a sprained foreleg were spared. Dancing Crow talks with the indian and learns his name and tribe affiliations. Once introduced, Kibechay urges all to follow him to Fort Lamar as a late winter storm is coming. After gathering belongings and making a travois for the Driver’s son who is still unconscious, they all follow Kibechay across the creek for a hike to the Fort. Just as the daylight seems to be giving its last goodbyes the snow starts and soon after the Travelers arrive at the Fort.

At Fort Lamar (a Union fort) they are greeted warmly because of Kibechay, and are given food, lodgings and what medical assistance they have at hand. Reverend Ainsworthy prays and lay’s on hands for the boy and a few hours later he wakes. The boy seems to be concussed so to ensure he remains wakeful Mrs. Myers volunteers to stay up with the boy.

Through the course of dinner and reporting what happened on the road, the Travelers are introduced to all the residents of the Fort.

Kibechay (name means Morning Mist)– halfbreed of Arapaho and Objibwa. He takes messages and fetches supplies for the Fort. He also serves as cook in the kitchen and does hunting and tracking too.

Sgt Joseph Lawrence: He’s a bit of a drunk, otherwise seems a good fellow.

Aaron Myers: Surveyor – hired to get accurate maps made of the surrounding lands around Denver. Does most of his work in the summer and he has also got some first aid skills.

Catherine Myers: Wife of Aaron Myers. She talks of starting a family.

Col Richard Hughes: the Commanding officer of the Fort. He comes from a long line of military men but he was always more interested in scholarly pursuits. He has a good library of books and loves discussing literature.

LtCol Shilcher: He’s a young man but he is intense! and a bit impatient. His gung ho attitude grates on peoples nerves.

Pete Epps: Horse Master – an older fellow and he takes care of the animals on the fort as well as managing supplies and inventory.

Jacob Epps & Maria Epps: Pete’s children – Jacob’s 17, Maria, 15. Both children do chores around the fort and are also both fascinated with things Indian.

Late that night when most have retired, Sgt Lawrence and LtCol Shilcher bring in a man who they spotted while on watch. Shilcher says the unconscious man just collapsed in front of him as he approached and on examining him he appears to have very wet feet and may be suffering from exhaustion and exposure. Wrapping the man up in blankets they set him before the fire to warm up. He looks like a mountain man.

Our Hero's Meet: Deadlands Feb. 25 1875
Game Log

Feb. 25 1875

Heading west towards Denver via stagecoach.

Dr. Pat Bedlam and companion Corky
Joe Cobb
Rev. Ainsworthy
Daren Atkins
Dancing Crow
Jebediah Hackett

All meet on Stagecoach out of Lanick Kansas heading west to Denver Colorado. Transit is broken by two stops for fresh horses and necessary things like leg stretching, then layover in the town of Colby Kansas.
While in the Colby Saloon a Snake oil Salesman named Cyrus Slater comes in to sell his wares to the townsfolk. The Bartender doesn’t seem to like him but allows this anyway. Slater invites folks to come outside to view his wares in his wagon, and this brings Dr. Pat, Daren Atkins, Joe Cobb, Jebediah and Reverend Ainsworthy out to at least satisfy their curiosity. Dr. Pat and Daren Atkins both notice tucked away in the back of his many jars and packets is a large glass jar with a human head inside.
When questioned, the salesman describes the fellow as a victim of a hemp necktie and offers to sell the novelty for $50. No one bites though some folks purchase vials of the preservative fluid the head is stored in, and soon satisfied he’s made enough sales, Cyrus Slater says good night and leaves (his wagon is stored in the Livery next door and he goes upstairs to his room in the Saloon.) (As he goes Dr. Pat notes bulges under his coat and sleeve that may indicate Mr. Slater is armed.)
Some hours later in the Saloon an already drunk man comes in looking for a fellow named “Clay”. The Bartender tells him the fellow’s not here and tries to get the drunk man named Clark to calm down. Clark refuses to believe Clay hasn’t been in the Saloon and angrily demands a drink which the Bartender refuses because he thinks Clark has had enough. Then Clark attacks him, smashing the Bartender’s face into the bar. Many other folks fearing a confrontation have left but the Reverend, Joe Cobb and Daren Atkins step up to try and stop the drunk. Daren gets a bloody nose trying to restrain Clark’s hand and then Joe Cobb steps up an overawes Clark and finally intimidates him into leaving to look for Clay elsewhere. The Bartender is grateful for the help and gives out drink on him and then makes the last call announcement.
The next morning the travelers gather and get back into the Stage which has a new driver whose son is accompanying him.


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