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Daniel Shay

Don't inquire into a person's past. Take the measure of a man for what he is today.

0 · 229 views · located in Fort Trinity

a character in “The Ballad of Fort Trinity”, as played by Jag

Description

Copied from Daniel's first IC post:

The stranger was a white man with a deep tan, either from the harsh rays of the sun or that same layer of traildust that he'd collected on the ride in. His hair straddled the thin line between blonde and brown, probably a darker shade that had given way to the light thanks to too many days out in the elements lightening the edges.

He wasn't a young man, or at least he'd seen his thirtieth birthday come and go a few winters back and maybe even his fortieth, a face that didn't speak of a cultured raising or a life that kept him indoors and hadn't seen a shave in a day or two. All in all, he seemed like a fellow that would clean up nicely and be a fair half-reach at something handsome after a bath, shave, and a good night's rest -- none of which had visited him lately by appearances. His shoulders framed a solid torso built from years of roping and driving, the kind of work that gives a man strength but turns his spine as crooked as a crocodile from too many nights spent on a thin bedroll sprawled out over a rocky ground rather than a proper place to sleep.

Pale blue eyes scouted out a leaning post against the bar soon occupied by the body, the man shedding the thick but worn and weathered coat and stretching it over the stool next to room, revealing a loose bandana from his collar and a plain shirt leading down to a belt as home to simple cattleman's revolver and a knife that looked duller than a flat rock from too much use cutting rope rather than pointed at a man. The frame spoke of a man that could probably handle a fight but the posture said he was probably too tired and would just rather shoot you and be done with it.

Equipment

Daniel's person is normally accompanied by a standard Colt 1873 Single Action Army pistol and a basic skinning knife. His standard bedroll and saddlebag include an old Comanche blanket and a number of other small put useful Comanche-made items. On the trail he is seldom without a Winchester Model 1876 lever-action, centerfire rifle.

So begins...

Daniel Shay's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Shay
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#, as written by Jag
A storm was coming.

Massive thunderheads formed the front of a looming storm, darkening the sky to the northwest charging in on Fort Trinity like a herd of stampeding cattle intent on rolling over anything and everything that dared to stand in their way. No band of rough wranglers were going to turn this herd away unless God Almight himself deemed necessary to break open the sky and pierce the darkness that continued to roll on toward the town. A brash wind billowed in and signaled the coming of another infamous blue norther.

At the old stables stationed at the south end of town, the owner's bluetick coonbound abandoned his normal post on the front steps from which she normally took in the rays of the Texas sun and offered a half-hearted growl at anyone carrying a scent she didn't deem friendly enough to walk in the front door. In the eight years she'd been there, she'd only bitten one person, a young boy, the father quick enough to admit that the rascal had done enough of the journey down across from St. Louis that he deserved a lot worse than the one bite. The dog had moved inside and crawled beneath the counter, hoping to avoid the cold rain that graced the plains seldom enough that most complained that it didn't rain enough and complained that it was raining too hard when the clouds did let loose.

A pale horse carried its rider into town and found rest at those stables before the man, hat pulled tightly down from a long ride with a good layer of dust along its brim to match the one covering the man's dark brown duster, stepped off the porch of the stable office and glanced down the main street of Fort Trinity, Texas.

Across the town, most of the businesses were preparing for the storm. There wasn't much to do, but all those patch-work solutions to holes in roofs and other leaky spots were now a priority as any boy older enough to climb a ladder but young enough to think that working for a nickel was big money made their way with broken tools to earn their keep for anyone that saw fit not to having a leak dripping down into their dinner or their beds as the storm passed over the town.

It was middle of the afternoon, but the looming sky made it seem like midnight was fast approaching. Folks didn't waste a lot of time standing in the middle of the street, just in case the small clouds serving as scouts for the big storm deciding to wet the ground a little to prove their were worth the attention.

It took less than a minute for the man to cross the distance over the saloon slinking down beneath the hotel, tipping back his hat and breathing a sigh of relief, his last of the cold norther air beginning to blow through town, before stepping inside and removing the hat entirely. The stranger was a white man with a deep tan, either from the harsh rays of the sun or that same layer of traildust that he'd collected on the ride in. His hair straddled the thin line between blonde and brown, probably a darker shade that had given way to the light thanks to too many days out in the elements lightening the edges.

He wasn't a young man, or at least he'd seen his thirtieth birthday come and go a few winters back and maybe even his fortieth, a face that didn't speak of a cultured raising or a life that kept him indoors and hadn't seen a shave in a day or two. All in all, he seemed like a fellow that would clean up nicely and be a fair half-reach at something handsome after a bath, shave, and a good night's rest -- none of which had visited him lately by appearances. His shoulders framed a solid torso built from years of roping and driving, the kind of work that gives a man strength but turns his spine as crooked as a crocodile from too many nights spent on a thin bedroll sprawled out over a rocky ground rather than a proper place to sleep.

Pale blue eyes scouted out a leaning post against the bar soon occupied by the body, the man shedding the thick but worn and weathered coat and stretching it over the stool next to room, revealing a loose bandana from his collar and a plain shirt leading down to a belt as home to simple cattleman's revolver and a knife that looked duller than a flat rock from too much use cutting rope rather than pointed at a man. The frame spoke of a man that could probably handle a fight but the posture said he was probably too tired and would just rather shoot you and be done with it.

Placing his hat on the counter of the bar and rolling his shoulder with the wince of a man who'd been riding too long, Daniel Shay gritted his teeth and fought the urge to tap the butt of the revolver with his fingers, remembering the advice any decent man in this part of the world knew -- always drink your whiskey with your gun hand, to show your friendly intentions.

The man wasn't sure of his intentions, but he sure hoped someone else was feeling friendly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madeline Whitten Character Portrait: Daniel Shay
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She looked up from her book as the thunder rumbled in the distance. It was coming in quick. The book was closed and placed on the made bed as she stood and crossed to the window. Maddy could see the boys climbing to fix a few of the nearby roofs and the people in the street scrambling to get indoors.

Her eyes moved to the sky where the dark clouds rolled in like waves. Grey waves on the grey ocean. Swallowing she closed the shutters on her window. An ache was building in her chest, one that would do her no good.

Brown eyes moved to the door, her ears picking up the sound of footfalls. The storm would drive the men inside to drink and hunker down, that meant money for the girls and more than a few were already heading down.

Maddy took her time. The book was gently placed in the bottom of her wardrobe. A clean shift was laid out on the bed, a beaded belt placed with it. She sat at her small vanity table and began to brush the thick dark waves until they were smooth and shiny. Deciding to leave her hair unbound she stood and stripped off her night dress. It was folded and laid gently across the stool.

The delicate bottle of scented oil was picked up and the lavender scented liquid gently rubbed into smooth skin. Only then did Maddy pick up her shift and pull the material over her head. The belt was wrapped at her waist and Maddy nodded. The hem of her shift on one side was tucked into the belt, allowing for easier movement and a teasing glimpse of her leg. The other girls would be done up, ruffles or lace with bodices low to attract as many as they could. Maddy didn’t think it was necessary, if a man wanted your time, he’d ask for it. If not there were always others.

Bare feet were dressed in simple slippers, a basic moccassin that she had purchased over a year ago. She favoured them although Maddy would have prefered to leave her feet devoid of coverings. That was not practical for a saloon though, all manner of things finding their way onto the floor.

Satisfied, Maddy made her way down the stairs. Already one of the girls passed her, leading a man by the hand to her room. Maddy focused on the stairs, turning to her left to step into the hallway and towards the kitchen.

She found Nell there, yelling at one of the cooks. “Water it down more ya hear? I don’t got enough to go around just now. Storm kicked up right quick. Water it down and get to work on another batch for tonight. Storms give men appetites for many things and we can start with the stew.”

Maddy waited as the cook nodded and set about following Nellie’s orders.

“Girl, why aren’t you on the floor?” Nell smiled at Maddy and crossed to her.

“I was just on my way.” Maddy crossed her arms. Nell chuckled at her.

“Storm’s got them all running in, should make a tidy sum tonight. Now, get out there.”

Maddy sighed softly and nodded. She stepped through a side door and found herself behind the bar. “Afternoon, Max. How’s it?”

Max, the bartender smiled at her. “Goin’ well Maddy darlin’. Boys are comin’ in to get out of the rain. You can start over there.” He gestured to where a man stood, his hat on the bar. “Just walked in and haven’t had a chance to get to him.” Max placed two full glasses of ale on the bar for two other men who were sitting.

On the floor the tables were filling up. Poker games were starting at some, stew and conversation at others but everywhere Nell’s girls were circling, making sure the men were taken care of.

Maddy moved to where Max had gestured, “What can I get for you? We have hot stew if you’re hungry and drink if you aren’t.”

Her head tilted, dark hair falling to one side as she waited for the man to answer. Behind him, Bessie’s laughter filled the air as one man pulled her into his lap. Helen came up to the bar, eyeing the man Maddy was talking to and smiling sweetly. The blonde’s hair was pinned up in curls, her lips painted red.

“Max I need three shot glasses and a bottle please. Boys are in for a bit.”

Max nodded and gathered what Helen wanted. She picked it all up and winked at the man at the bar as she moved back to the tables.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Doctor (Doc) Oliver McCallister Character Portrait: Madeline Whitten Character Portrait: Daniel Shay
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#, as written by Jag
Even if the storm had been rolling across the massive sky sprawled out above the gently rolling plains, Daniel would have felt it coming long before the first drops fell to the ground. It didn't rain or get cold that his knee didn't ache. The pain wasn't enough to stop him from mounting a saddle or springing across a narrow creek, but it certainly didn't make things any easier. Daniel knew there was a time when he hadn't felt that way, he just couldn't remember exactly when it was. Still, he was indoors and that counted for a whole hell of a lot. His mind drifted for a moment to the saddlebag contained the old Comanche blanket and how much misery it was to have on its threads to hold in warmth on a night like the one fast approaching.

“What can I get for you? We have hot stew if you’re hungry and drink if you aren’t.”

The voice broke him out of the moment's recollection. Men reacted differently after a long bout of the solitary. Some itched for conversation, interaction, just something to remind them they were back among men with a taste of civilization. Others balked at the sound of another voice like an Indian child hearing a white man's words for the first time or a coyote cowering low at the grumbles of something foerign and potentially ruining its run at the top of the scavenging game.

Daniel's pale blue eyes rose from the brim of the hat to meet the bright vision of the young woman before him. The old term "sight for sore eyes" might have been overused, but damn it if it didn't ring true as church bells on a Sunday. Whoever ran the place knew how to lay the message out plain and simple for any tired hand dragging themselves through the door with a little money in their pocket and more than a little need to feel a might better about themselves. Cracked lips broke into a polite smile as a dormant left hand traced along the brim of the hat sitting on the counter between himself and the young woman. If she was more than a few months over twenty, Daniel would have taken a bite out of the hat in front of him.

"I reckon..." he said, his own voice strange and foreign to him in the echo of the indoors rather than drifting out into the open range. "Bit a stew would be just about right, ma'am."

He quickly pulled the hat down from the counter and adjusted the coat stretched out across the stool next to where he stood. After a long ride, sitting was the last thing Daniel felt like doing, or anything else that closely resembled movement. There was a definitely hunger floating through the old walls of the place tonight. Some for stew, some for something a little strong or sweeter. The outsider quickly began to get the feeling that Fort Trinity didn't much care where you came from so long as you were ready to pony up the money up front for your pleasures.

"Oh, and something else," the man's voice said, almost reaching out and grabbing the back of the girl's dress out of habit before catching himself with his hand just barely extended from the elbow. "You know anything 'bout a man named McCallister 'round these parts?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Doctor (Doc) Oliver McCallister Character Portrait: Madeline Whitten Character Portrait: Daniel Shay
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Maddy paused as the man looked her. Blue eyes looked up from the hat to her. She held her breath for a moment. Blue eyes always made her pause. She returned his smile.

“I’ll have the stew for you in two shakes of a tail then. If you want a drink let Max know or I will get it when I get back.”

Maddy turned to head to the kitchen. She stopped at the sound of his voice. Half turning she looked over her shoulder. “Depends stranger. Let me get your stew and we can talk.”

Maddy gave him a slight nod and headed into the kitchen. “Stew please Dorothy.”

She leaned slightly against the wall and waited for the bowl. Maddy peered around the doorway to where she knew the man would be standing at the bar. She shivered slightly. Blue eyes always pulled at ghosts that were better left alone. His were pale, like the sea before a storm came in and the grey clouds shifted the water colour.

The bowl clattered on the chopping block. Maddy nodded her thanks and picked it up in one hand, the small plate with a biscuit in the other. Moving easily, happy she had tucked the hem of her dress up, she re-entered the bar area.

She came up on his right side and placed the plate down. Moving behind him quickly, she then came up on his left and placed the bowl down. “Will be hot and a bit watered down. We weren’t expecting such a crowd so soon but cook still manages to make it tasty.” He smelt of horses and dust.

Maddy glanced at the coat and hat. Both were covered in dust, signally a long ride. She moved back to his right and leaned on the bar beside him. “Now, there might be a man by that name around here. Not sure if it is the same one you are looking for or not.” She raised an eyebrow at him wondering just what he wanted with McCallister.

Nellie appeared behind the bar. She scanned the crowd assessing and appraising both the men and the women, as if calculating in her head the amount of coin that would be made that night. A few girls were heading upstairs with their clients. There was laughter and conversations filling the air.

Nellie moved closer to Maddy and the man. “McCallister runs another saloon here in town. Sweet young thing of a daughter too.” She moved on and onto the floor, greeting some men by name. Behind her back some of her girls called her the Duchess as she had taken on an air of importance in her later years.

Maddy sighed. Nell had lost some of the subtlety she had when she was a working girl and not in charge. Maddy had been hoping to find out more. She shrugged at the man. “No guarantee it is the same man though.”

She ran her fingers through her hair. “Did you want a drink to go with that stew? There are baths too and beds if you are looking for a place to clean up or rest.” Maddy forced herself to make eye contact with him. “Anything you need. You can let me know. I am Maddy.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madeline Whitten Character Portrait: Daniel Shay
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#, as written by Jag
The smell of the stew, weak and watered down as it may have been, was enough to draw him back from memories of the bullet wounds and combat medics from years and wars before. Daniel hadn't had a meal cooked by someone else since Sulphur Springs and Mount Vernon before that.

"That's a kindness," he said with hands slowly raising to play at the uneven edges of the plate sat before him. "Got business with the man. Debt to settle."

A fit of silence fell over the man for a moment, a fleeting instant of peace in a world where a small measure of peace was harder to find than a kind word about the government. Still, it was exactly as he'd said to the young woman -- a kindness. A warm meal, a clean bed, a hot bath. These were things that folks didn't truly appreciate until they weren't anywhere to be found. Daniel measured what little piece was to be found in this place and took stock of the kindness.

"Say," he spoke after his first bite of the stew and along moment to enjoy the flavor. "Heard tell of another fella I might be looking to cross paths with. Can't remember his name, but this old codger called him 'The Gentleman' or something like that. Thought I made pay a visit."

He stopped to take another bite, aware of the growing crowd getting more raucus.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madeline Whitten Character Portrait: Daniel Shay
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Maddy cocked her head at the stranger. Amusement and curiosity shone in her eyes. She watched him closely as she moved back behind the bar, pouring him an ale.

“Here, you look like you could use it.” She smiled at him. The glass was placed in front of him. “A debt. Well if he is the same one then you will find him like Nellie said at the other saloon. It’s not far from here.” Maddy glanced over his shoulder. “Little quieter but less company.”

She chuckled as one of other girls came up to grab beer for her table. The boisterous woman practically bounced back to her table. The laughter and banter was getting steadily louder. Maddy ran her fingers through her hair again, curling the strands around her hand and pulling it over one shoulder.

An eyebrow arched. He was an odd man asking about the McCallister and Ramsey but then again many that came into Fort Trinity had odd reasons for doing what they did.

Maddy nodded, “Aye you’ll find a man in town that goes by the name the Gentleman. Whether or not you want to be visiting him will depend on what you heard about him. If you are looking for doctoring well he ain’t the man to see or a school teacher either.”

Maddy leaned on the bar, her chin resting in the palm of her hand. “His name’s Ramsey. He is at the casino. Can’t miss it. Course I wouldn’t be paying him any sort of visit till you’ve had a bath and a washing of your clothes. He isn’t call the Gentleman for nothing.”

As if to illustrate her point Maddy brushed a bit of dust of the bar that seemed to have drifted from his hands. She smiled. “If not here, I can point you elsewhere. A man shouldn’t settle debts or make new ones while wearing the road he rode in on.” She offered him a warm smile.

Her eyes shifted to the door as more bodies arrived from the outside. She could see the clouds growing ever darker. The place would be packed in less than and hour. Maddy found Nellie staring at her. The woman gestured with her head towards the strangers back. Maddy knew what it meant but had no desire to push the way the others girls were. If he wanted a bath and a bed she’d take him, if not so be it, she wouldn’t be hurting for others on a night like tonight.

A slight shake of her head to Nellie and Maddy turned her attention to the man. He seemed to be enjoying the stew. “More stew where that came from too.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madeline Whitten Character Portrait: Daniel Shay
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#, as written by Jag
As much as Daniel seemed to have been raised well enough to say please, ma'am, and thank you, he certainly didn't look the part well enough to match the type of company it seemed the one called the "Gentleman" was apt to entertain at any given time. This was the second description he'd heard of the man named Ramsey in as much days and the picture painted in the canvas of his mind wasn't one that give Daniel the impression of a benevolent and welcoming benefactor of the streets of Fort Trinity. As much as the stew warmed the traveller from the inside and gave that small measure of comfort, his stomach was set uneasy by the thought of the man they called the Gentleman.

"You always such good care of the lost and wayward souls?" Daniel managed to smile back at the young woman, grateful for a touch of humanity. As much as the old prospector had been "helpful" in drinking was what left of Daniel's whiskey and telling him tall tales of the riches to be had down the road, the greybeard hadn't been much for the kind of company that makes a man lean hard in the saddle toward the scent of a fresh prairie flower. This young woman, however, played the game like an old pro, like a blackjack dealer dealing you just the right cards to keep you playing and make you think you had a chance against the house.

As it stood, Daniel waltzed in, thrown his money on the table, and was sitting with an ace on the first go-round.

"And this would be for you," he said, placing a few dollars on the table and sliding it halfway across the counter with his hand placed over the bills, "if there's any kindness left to be had." The tired voice and the weathered posture gave way to a sense of strange reserve. He was offering to pay her and the intent was obvious to anyone with eyes and less than three sheets to the wind, but the man placed his words in such a manner as to avoid the truth behind the offer. Shyness toward the point of the deal. The bravado of many would be hook a girl by the waist and throw her into their lap with a raucus laugh, but the shyness and delicacy with which Daniel approached even the mention betrayed his exterior.

McCallister. Ramsey. Old debts to be paid, old scores to be settled. All of it was going to wait at least one more sunrise. Daniel figured that if there was any salvation left to be found in this godforsaken land, he'd much easier find it in the warm comfort of a good woman.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madeline Whitten Character Portrait: Daniel Shay Character Portrait: Jonah Corbin Character Portrait: J. Jackson
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Max looked up from the bar as Jonah walked in. The man was a bit of a fixture, drowning his sorrows in whiskey on many a night. He had the bottle in hand and a shot poured for him before Jonah was fully inside the saloon.

“Evening Jonah.” The bartender gave him a nod. “Give me a nod if you want another.” The bartender turned his attention to one of the girls and a few of the other patrons.

Maddy let a small almost sad laugh out at the stranger’s comment. “We were once all lost and wayward, at least some of us still have our souls.”

His hand slid on the counter. Maddy could see the bills under the calloused hands. Times like this still took her by surprise. The men knew her to be the less flirtatious or gaudy of the girls but they treated her like they did all the saloon girls. Rarely a situation like this occurred. A stranger who was a bit more reserved and cautious.

“Shy and kind...with blue eyes. Dangerous combination.” Maddy thought as she laid her hand on his. She was glad her heart didn’t swoon like it once had.

Her smile remained and she sighed just a little, “Plenty left for you. How about we start with a hot bath and get your clothes cleaned?” Maddy moved around the bar to stand beside him. “Lots of water heated and ready for weary travellers.”

Maddy took his hand and waited for him to grab his hat and coat. Her other hand quickly slipped the bills away.

She paused, another stranger entering the saloon. He made his way to the bar, Max serving him his bourbon. “So many new faces. I wonder how many will stay and how many will end up in the ground.”


Maddy smiled began to lead the way upstairs when a yell made everyone in a saloon stop. At first it could have easily been mistaken for the wind but Nellie moved to a window and looked out.

“The the hell does that boy think he’s doing? He is going to get himself shot. I don’t know who he’s looking for but I hope for his mama’s sake it isn’t one of the Sevens.” Nellie moved to the door and stuck her head out.

“If you know what’s good for you son you will get yourself back home before you make your mother sick with worry.” Nellie placed a hand on her hip.

Maddy shook her head. “Pay them no mind. I am sure they will get it all sorted out.” She looked back at the stranger and continued up the stairs. She led him down the hallway. From the closed doors on either side sounds of laughter, voices and other activities could be heard. Near the end of the hall, Maddy opened a door.

The room was small, a tub and small table taking up most of the space. A chair sat in the corner. It was one of four rooms on the upper floor meant for bathing. Maddy stepped inside. The tub was already full of hot water. All the tubs in the place would remain full as long as the saloon was full. The kitchen staff would work tirelessly to keep large pots of water hot and at the ready.

“You can undress and get in. Soap’s there.” She pointed to the table. “Give me a yell once you are in, I’ll be just outside the door. I will give your clothes off to be cleaned. You’ll have them back as soon as they are finished with them.”

She moved towards the man, stopping just in front of him. Maddy cocked her head, her eyes sparkling with amusement in the lamplight. “You have a name? Help so I know whose clothes I am giving over.”

Setting

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Character Portrait: Madeline Whitten Character Portrait: Daniel Shay
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#, as written by Jag
Daniel followed dutifully, catching full glimpse of the man Maddy greeted with the name of Jonah. The stranger had hollow eyes, the kind that had seen too much emptiness and hurt in the world and shut themselves off from taking in any more. Cold eyes, the kind that would gaze into a fire but not be able to remember what it meant to feel warm. In the brief instant that Daniel gazed at the man, he could smell it.

The man smelled like death. Not the smell of a rotting corpse or the burning flesh of a hot bullet to the gut, but the cold and empty bitter nothing of death. Daniel shook himself free of the gaze and followed Maddy away. The smell of death was infectious and Daniel had invited enough trouble on himself for one lifetime.

Daniel remained a few steps behind as Maddy led him away from the saloon and the scene that set the table for the night's activities in Fort Trinity. The old prospector hadn't been lying about the place as the central hub for the going's on and finding out who was where, with who, and why when it came to the bustling Texas town. Maddy herself had been more help than he'd expected, putting information with names Daniel had picked up along the trial and jostling old memories he'd buried deep in the clay dirt somewhere between here and the smoke-filled hills of the East.

Once secluded from the prying eyes of the world, Daniel slowly shed the layers he'd carried for too many miles before reaching the town, the least of which being the clothes on his back. Stretching a sore shoulder and rolling the cuff a few times with a wince followed quickly by a sigh of relief, he barely registered when the young woman finally spoke again. It was strange, hearing her ask for him name now in the midst of their current situation, almost enough that a man thought to give someone else's name out of a shame or secrecy. Then again, his man was having enough trouble just keeping up with the truth. Mixing in a few lies was only going to sour the milk more than he could stand.

"Daniel Shay," he spoke with another sigh as he felt himself relax, glad as hell not to be perched up underneath a rocky cropping with a wet bedroll trying to avoid the worst of the cold rain blasting down on from a sky that managed to be full of clouds and yet fill empty at the same time, just like the stranger's eyes he'd noticed from before.

"There's got to be something wrong with a man that spends the better part of three weeks all by his lonesome and runs as fast as he can to get away from people first chance of sight he gets at a town," he mused aloud, unsure of why he was talking opening with the young woman. It wasn't like he had anything to lose, sure, but that normally didn't open the quiet man up for more than answering a few questions or a polite utterance or two. Maybe he was just happy to have someone to talk to or maybe he found himself running at the mouth just to distract himself from the uncomfortableness of the situation.

It wasn't the act that bothered him, really, just the transactional side of it that always felt strange. It wasn't his first and it wouldn't be his last, but that didn't make it feel any less strange, like getting water in your boot and sloshing around with a wet sock. There was no getting used to it.

Daniel found himself starting at the cattleman's revolved on the belt he'd hung up by the door. He was damn sure glad not to need the thing for a night.

Boy, he hated being wrong.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madeline Whitten Character Portrait: Daniel Shay
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“Daniel. Nice to meet you. You just settle in and I will take care of the rest.” She smiled at him and stepped into the hall. It wasn’t long before Maddy heard the sound of him descending into the tub of hot water. She slipped into the room and scooped up the dusty clothes. Exiting the room she spotted one of the cook’s children who was bounding down the hall. Maddy waved the girl over.

“Needs to be cleaned and brought to my room, understand?” The girl nodded and took the clothes. She scooted off down the hall. Maddy could hear the crowd downstairs. The night was just beginnng to pick up and already it was loud enough to carry clearly to the second floor.

Maddy turned and entered the room again,closing the door behind her. She lowered the lantern's light a little, bathing the small room in a low but warm light. She moved the chair close to the tub and sat down. Her skirt was lifted from her calves and her moccasins were slipped off. Bare feet placed themselves on the edge of the tub. Maddy relaxed as Daniel bathed. Her eyes looked him over as he seemed to slowly relax. The rain beat down on the roof and reminded her of home. Daniel's voice drew her out of what would have been an unhappy memory.

Maddy raised one dark eyebrow, a small smirk playing on her lips. “Should I be flattered that you chose to leave the vast majority to spend the evening with me or should I be insulted that I don’t count as a person in your little scenario?”

She smiled at the seated man, leaning over to the small table to pick up the soap. Her feet went to the floor as Maddy leant over the tub to hand it to him. She held it out for him to take. “Three weeks though, that’s a long time in the saddle. At least all the dust covering you makes sense.” She let out a low laugh.

Still holding the soap, Maddy let her other hand play lightly on the surface of the water. “Long time to be alone too. Where are you riding in from?” Her head tilted slightly, dark hair falling towards the water.

She wanted to learn all should could from him. If Daniel planned to go and visit Ramsey, any information she could give the Gentleman in advance would go a long way.

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Character Portrait: Madeline Whitten Character Portrait: Daniel Shay
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#, as written by Jag
Daniel Shay

The jerk reaction in his muscles at the sensation of being immersed in the hot water came without warning. It had been some time since he'd been able to ease himself into a proper bath and allow his body any true relaxation and luxury. Then again, it had been too long since he'd seen a town the likes of Fort Trinity and its bustle, growing with every year under the watchful eye of ranchers who eyed their cattle like dollar bills and gangsters who eyes the citizens of the town the same way.

"I wouldn't take insult where a man didn't mean any," he said as he slid down, the spasming muscles in his fire firing off sharply a few times before succumbing to the relaxation the hot water provided. Daniel had all the appearances of a strong man but most of that strength seemed to have been twisted and knotted up into all sorts of balls and kinks in his back and legs that a night's rest and relaxation would go a long way to restoring. "Just meaning that there'd be more'n a few happy to share a few drinks and a few tall tales with less...well...delicate company."

The soap and water began to wash away layers of the trail, layers of the past, and layers of the life he'd left behind on his way to Fort Trinity. It did a number to lighten the color of his skin, but not as much as one might expect. His features were soaked in the sun and carried the color of a man that knew the outdoors better than a roof over his head.

"Sulphur Springs was the last place I really stay for more'n a day. Mt. Pleasant before that." The trail he described painted the picture of a long ride from somewhere back East and, given his lack of descriptions along the way, it would seem that the man pressed his luck with a hard pace and hard ride to get here very quickly, even if he wasn't too forthcoming on the reasons why.

Still, he felt relaxed and more of a man than he'd felt in weeks at this point. Maddy's gentle company, her easy demeanor, and shelter from the cold rain were doing wonders to breathe some life back into the tired shell he dragged into the saloon earlier that evening. He suspected that this was just another night for her, another customer, another couple of dollars that she would be able to square away for whatever it is that drove her to living and life just like the rest of them, but that didn't mean that she didn't do her job well. For a moment, the rider was able to put everything else away for a few minutes and just accept the reality of things. No fiction, no need to pretence or games. It was what it was and there was nothing to fear or feel ashamed of.

"I met with some ol' boys in Tennesse who told me that Doc McAllister had come out this way a few years back and I felt oblige to track the man down. Got an old score to settle with the man. Closer I got, the more I kept hearing about this 'Gentleman' fella that everybody keeps talking about. If half what they say about the man is true, I'm a'thinkin' that maybe the Doc's got his hands full six or seven different ways that might need an extra pair of eyes to make sure he doesn't end up with a knife in his back or hangin' from the end of a short rope."

The story he'd heard on the trail about the man hanged while his house burned was still with him. He'd seen the rubble of the structure on his ride, but thankfully someone had already taken care of the body by the time that he rode by.

"Some men live by the fear they can build up in others. Way I see it, they're probably even scared themselves a little more and maybe need someone to remind 'em what it feels to bleed just a little."

He closed his eyes and leaned back for a moment, allowed a sigh to release the thoughts from his mind for a moment.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Doctor (Doc) Oliver McCallister Character Portrait: Madeline Whitten Character Portrait: Daniel Shay Character Portrait: Amelia Fyler Fitzgerald Character Portrait: Red Hawk Nocona
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Maddy smiled. She hadn’t taken the statement as an insult but it was fun to tease the semi-serious man a little. She shook her head as he relaxed.

Her brows knitted together just a little. He had come from the east and not the near east. ”What would have you riding so hard and so long...” She wondered silently as the dirt drifted from his skin into the bath water.

“Looks to me like you brought the entire road in with you.” Maddy stood and moved around the tub to grab a pitcher. She tested the water and found it still warm. “Close yer eyes Daniel.”

She slowly poured the fresh water over his head rinsing away more dirt and the soap.

“Aye, McAllister has been here for a spell now.” Maddy crouched next to the tub. “You going to protect the Doc from the likes of the Gentleman then?” An amused smile on her lips. “Ramsey runs this town. No one makes a move without him knowing.”

Maddy sat back in her chair, her bare feet once again on the edge of the tub. “I don’t know a single thing that Ramsey is afraid of but everyone around here is either working for him or doing their very best to stay on his good side. Might be best to stay out of his way Daniel.”

Her voice was soft and comforting as the man closed his eyes and relaxed in the water. She looked him over and wondered what Ramsey would think of this newcomer.

The room was quiet save for the pattering of the rain. Maddy watched Daniel’s chest rise and fall. Given what he had told her about where he had ridden from and how long he had been on the road she was amazed he had been upright when he had come into the saloon.

She brushed the side of his face gently, keeping her voice low. “When you are done here there is a warm bed waiting f..”

The rest of her comment was cut off but the scream of a woman. It was the kind of sound that makes a person’s heart stop. Maddy stood up quickly and bolted to the door. She opened it and looked out. Up and down the hall others were doing the same fearing it was one of their own. Her mouth was dry but her ears picked up the sound of a commotion downstairs.

A few men were in the hallway now, pulling on shirts and unholstering guns as they rushed down to the main room of the saloon.
----
Max looked up as the well dressed lady practically stumbled in through the saloon door. She was soaked to the bone and trembling. The scream that had caused the entire saloon to pause must have come from her. He quickly moved from behind the bar to where she stood pointing out the door.

“He… He killed someone…” Her chin tucked in close to her chest as she tried desperately to draw breath. “An Indian. I- In the library.”

At the word Indian many men began to stand, pulling guns and moving to the door. Max and the woman stood in their way. A clattering of footsteps from the stairs added to the new uproar.

“She said Indian and he killed someone!”

A few of the girls gasped fearfully and clung to whoever was near by. Nellie frowned and looked out the window. Max put an arm protectively around the hysterical woman. “Now, none of you are going anywhere. You George, you can barely stand and we don’t know for sure...”

“There is an Indian out there and the Doc’s with him.” Nellie could see the figures down a ways from the saloon.

Max turned to look out the door spotting the figures himself. “Sweet Jesus.”

He pulled the woman away from the door. “Get her a tea Annie or something stronger if she wants it.” He handed Amelia over to the closest girl. She led Amelia to a nearby chair. Max turned and quickly grabbed his rifle from behind the bar. Her stepped outside and a few men now followed him. They stood on the covered porch and waited for some sign from Doc that he needed help.
---

Maddy heard the word Indian and darted to the window. She pushed the curtain out of the way and looked out the rain streaked glass. “It’s true....”

She turned to look at Daniel. “There is a man out there and the Doc is with him.” Maddy nodded, “I’ll find you some clothes.”