Having retired for the night, and secured Lizzie Pearce, the group made a food run to the saloon, to retrieve a bucket of stew. On the way, they saw more signs of the towns decay, and met yet another quaint citizen, the chief of the assay office, who was delightfully paranoid. However, once they got past the shotgun, he confirmed more of what they'd been hearing. Everything had gone to hell once Daly had died, in a fire set by some drunk miner. Marshal Bryce had hung the man, and apparently became the owner of half the town in the wake of the incident.
Returning to the hotel, the posse downed their suppers, then headed to bed, deciding to keep watch. At around midnight, the mayor showed up, and threw some rocks at the windows to wake them up. He'd heard how they stood up to the Marshal's deputies. He explained that Father Cheval was the one responsible for all the problems in the town, that he showed up shortly before Daly died, and then things started going wrong. That Cheval sent his followers to dynamite the rail tracks to get the train stopped in town.
At that point, Marshal Bryce and a few of his deputies showed up; holding the mayor and the posse at gunpoint. He was going to bring them to Cheval, but a brutal gunfight erupted instead.
The team saved the mayor, captured the Marshal and ran off the deputies. The mayor, after a bracing drink, thanked the posse profusely, and then offered up some more information. An Indian Shaman came to town a few weeks ago with information about the evil doings that were happening, but Bryce ran him off. He went towards Coffin Rock after he left town.
In the morning, the team hauled the Marshal over to the Blacksmith’s (one of the few people the mayor trusted), and had him clapped in irons until a judge could arrive. The Blacksmith had also recognized the essential problems with the town, and had started manufacturing weapons to fight back. The conductor also reported that the telegraph machine had been smashed by parties unknown. And that some of the passengers were missing.
And with that, Garret retrieved the groups’ horses for them from the livery car on the train, and they rode out into the morning sun.
As they closed on Coffin Rock, the sounds of gunfire and screams alerted them that something was wrong, and when they rounded a bend in a canyon, found a horrific site. A young woman on a horse was being attacked by this massive monstrosity, a walking human corpse that was coated in boiling mud.
Leaping into action, the party was quickly able to dispatch the monstrosity in a hail of gunfire and tomahawk blows. Bonnie used her mysterious huckster powers to study the corpse, and was rewarded with a horrific vision of a man being boiled alive in mud and reanimated. Interrogating the woman revealed that she was Shelly Pearl Daly, the daughter of the founder of Coffin Rock. She had come out west to collect her inheritance, but instead found that the Marshal had stolen it from her and then he tried to kill her. She was particularly pleased to hear that he’d been arrested. She’d been camping out in the hills ever since, and had started seeing the mud men show up about six months ago, coming out of the mine. They had started roaming closer and closer towards the town.
She had also seen the shaman the Mayor mentioned. Following her directions, the group made their way to the kiva where he had been hiding. The shaman was a mysterious indian by the name of Laughs at Darkness, and he had come to this place, to await for someone specific. When he confirmed it was the party, he took them on a spiritual journey with the help of some applied narcotics.
The party had an out of body experience, and found themselves under the mountain, speaking to a spirit who claimed to be a spirit of the land. That he had been trapped by magics of air and was being abused to create horrors. He implored the party to help.
When they awoke, Laughs at Darkness was gone. Unsure if what they had seen was real or some sort of induced delusion, the group loaded their guns and descended into the mine. They tripped a trap, but avoided the rocks and soon found themselves in a chamber, after following several veins of blood flowing through the rock.
In a horrific scene that played out before them, more of the bloody mud men were present, and attempting to force the missing passengers from the train into a pit of blood and mud. The entrapped spirit of the earth hovered above this gruesome sight, apparently being used to fuel the dark magics.
Once again, the team dove head first into danger. They took some hits, but managed to gun down the mud men. Doc McGee managed to destroy the pit by introducing a lump of ghost rock to it, upsetting the delicate balance of substances in the alchemical brew. However, Reverand Cheval managed to escape by diving into the mud pit, which turned out to also function as a portal.
The spirit, freed, opened the portal again to allow them to follow. The party landed on the street in front of the church back in town for the final confrontation. An ominious red glow shone out of the windows and a guttural chanting was heard
Breaking in, they found that Reverend Cheval and his cultists were performing some sort of ritual around a pentagram formed in blood. With a scream of rage, and an out of context quote from the bible, he ordered his followers to kill the interlopers.
A brutal fight followed, with several of our heroes being badly injured during the confrontation, but ultimately managing to prevail. Reverand Cheval lay dead, Ranger Garret having blown his head off, and most of the cultists were dead, fled or unconscious. The heroes took a moment to sigh in relief, bandage their wounds and calm the townsfolk who had heard the epic confrontation.
With the ritual disrupted and the corrupt priest slain, it felt like a pall had been lifted from town. The heroes began to go through the Reverend’s possessions…