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Doctor (Doc) Oliver McCallister

Trying to build a new life for himself and his daughter, Lydia.

0 · 221 views · located in Fort Trinity

a character in “The Ballad of Fort Trinity”, originally authored by FizzGig, as played by RolePlayGateway

Description

Image

A broad-chested, surly man sat behind a great mahogany desk, scuffed and stained with spilled liquor and tobacco chew. His riding boots were propped up on the edge of the desk, calloused fingers laced across his bulging belly. Behind him, a dusty window opened to give a view of the street outside, the pedestrians in dirt-colored clothing nearly blending in with the dirt-covered background.

His chair groaned in protest as he leaned forward slightly, beady black eyes taking in the figure who had just walked into his stingy office.

“Who’r you?” he grumbled, his jaw working another wad of tobacco. He unceremoniously spat a mouthful into the nearby spittoon.

“Doc.” The man replied. The gentleman behind the desk appraised the figure a little more critically. Tall, lean, broad build. A young man with intelligent blue eyes poking out from beneath a mop of sandy bangs. The rim of his hat reached low over his face, casting most of it in shadow, but the other man could see that he was clean-shaven.

‘Doc’ had his hands clasped in front of him, the left hand bearing a wedding band. “Where’s your wife, Doc?” he muttered, though the question didn’t really matter much.

“Lord took her home. Figured she was too good of an angel to let her wander around these parts.” Doc smiled, but it was a sad kind of smile, one that didn’t reach his eyes. “I’m looking to tend your saloon, sir. I saw you don’t have anyone to fill the position.”

“Cuz no one wants it.” The other replied with a short laugh. “Do you know what kind of figures come walkin through those doors? Ingrates, villains of every kind. You know how to shoot a gun, Doc?”

“I served for six years in the Unites States Armed forces as a combat Medic. If I don’t know how to shoot I sure wouldn’t be standin here now, would I?”

There was a thoughtful pause. “You’ll be needing someone to help you out, Doc. It isn’t an easy job.”

“No worries sir,” Doc replied with a nod of his head. “My daughter’s more than willing. We’ll turn this place around, God willing.”

The man barked a laugh again. “God ain’t got nothin to do with this place no more, Doc. You best start getting used to that idea now.”

Doc nodded politely, turning on his heels after muttered words of parting, aiming for the door.

“Hey, Doc?”

He paused.

“Yer hired.”

“Yessir.”

So begins...

Doctor (Doc) Oliver McCallister's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Daniel Shay Character Portrait: Doctor (Doc) Oliver McCallister Character Portrait: Madeline Whitten
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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

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Character Portrait: Daniel Shay Character Portrait: Doctor (Doc) Oliver McCallister Character Portrait: Madeline Whitten
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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: Doctor (Doc) Oliver McCallister Character Portrait: Lydia McCallister
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#, as written by FizzGig
The wind had kicked up dirt and grit from the parched Texas prarie, carrying it into the town in gusts that tended to blind a man who wasn’t careful enough to shield his eyes. With the dust came the smell of rain, and the looming thunderclouds seemed to confirm the presence of a coming storm. At this time, nobody was outside who didn’t have any business being there. Occasionally a woman would come bolting out of the safety of her home to retrieve something that had flown from the porch, but beyond that, the town was ghost-like.

After the strangers had come and gone, making their homes in the beds of dolled-up whores, another man emerged from a small home on the most distant edge of Fort Trinity, one hand holding the reins of his horse, and the other holding on to his hat. A small pouch of coins was clasped in his left hand, payment for his most recent services, providing medicine to a young couple’s infant for a recurring fever.

The animal beside him was world-weary, dusty and worn. Rolling garbage didn’t startle him as it might have another beast. He merely flicked his ears back against the dust and dirt, knickering occasionally and attempting to clear his nostrils of the gathering residue. The man who lead him, a broad-shouldered fellow, grimaced as his duster flew out behind him, flapping in the wind. On his belt rested a revolver that he always carried on him, a Smith and Weston. Just as his daddy had always taught him.

It wasn’t long before the McCallister establishment came into his sites. He squinted his eyes against the wind, bushy blonde brows coming together as he searched out for one person in particular. There, coming out onto the front porch, his daughter Lydia was busy bringing in items too light to hold their own in the coming storm. Her brown skirts swirled around her ankles with the rapidity of her movements, and she seemed to pay him no mind as he lead the old animal back between the buildings, towards the small stall he’d built specifically to keep the poor thing out of the weather.

After removing the saddle and his basket of equipment, he them back to the porch, sliding them across the wood floor before climbing up and making his way to the front door. Lydia nearly ran into him in her haste.

“Hey, wh—“ Her eyes found his, and she immediately reached up to smooth the dust away from his cheeks.

“How’s Tommy?” she asked immediately, before ducking around him and moving to grab the saddle right off of the floor. He paused, watching her work, and then seemed to remember himself, moving to grab his equipment box before his too-quick child gathered both things up into her arms.

“The baby’ll be alright.” He replied, his voice low and gruff. “Parents too. Nothing but a bit of a cold is all.”

The establishment, as he had expected, was empty except for a few of the older townsfolk who didn’t appreciate the sights and sounds of the brothel up the street. Doc had no issues with the way a man ran his business, but he was determined to run his own establishment the way the good Book had always instructed him to.

“As for me and my house,” Doc said under his breath as he dropped the box of medical supplies behind the bar counter. Everything was well kept, polished and clean. Lydia worked hard to keep the place looking nice, even if there weren’t very many patrons around to appreciate it. Even now, she was making sure the chairs were arranged, checking up on the current customers, and dancing about making sure that all of the windows were sealed shut. No need to let the rain in and ruin the wood. Rot was not something they needed to deal with.

“Papa,” she said, her voice stern and strong, the way his wife’s had once been. He turned to look at her, her figure silhouetted in the grey light of the incoming storm. She was a strong woman, lovely even with her hair hidden beneath a kerchief she’d tied around her brow. Some blonde tendrils curled against her cheeks, her blue eyes littered with concern as she looked to him.

“You won’t be going out in that again, will you?”

“I might.” He replied. “You know how it is, Lydia. If someone needs me then I have to go.”

She grit her teeth, obviously biting back against a retort. “Just make sure you get some rest then.” She said in resignation. “Can’t be havin you keel over. No good to anyone then.”

He paused, crossing the floor and pulling her against his chest. The customers politely averted their eyes as he kissed her brow, taking her by the shoulders and holding her at arm’s length so he could get a good look at her.

“You’re growin’ up too fast for my liking.” He told her with a small, secretive smile. She rolled her eyes, a favorite expression of hers, and crossed her arms over her chest.

“Now you’re bein’ silly. Go eat, else I’ll feed the rest to the horses.”

As thunder rolled, rattling the glass, Doc looked to the windows and watched as the rain began to splatter against the panes, rolling to the sill in sheets. He let Lydia go, took off his hat, and turned to disappear into the back room, where dinner and typical comforts of home awaited.

Meanwhile, Lydia took up her post at the bar counter, listening to a couple talk about the recent hanging that had taken place outside of town. Her eyes closed, brow furrowing as she turned away, and idly went back to the store room to see if there was something she could distract herself with.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Doctor (Doc) Oliver McCallister Character Portrait: Lydia McCallister Character Portrait: Andrew Keatley
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#, as written by FizzGig
She could hear the storm howling through the slats in the side of the building. She was digging around in a store room, rummaging for one thing and then another so she could set up for the evening rush. ‘Rush’, of course, was occasionally an overstatement. The Twister was not a whore house, or a place where openly drunken behavior was acceptable. So they tended to cater to a more respectable evening crowd, where men came with their wives, played poker for copper coins and buttons, and just sat around to talk about town business and the occasional local scandal.

Lydia liked working this place. She liked that her papa trusted her enough to handle the accounting and the run-of-the-mill business aspect that came with having a place like this. She knew Doc was needed elsewhere, most of the time, lending a healing hand the way the Lord had indicated he should. She knew he was needed to settle private matters too, as was expected of a town sheriff.

Dealing with matters involving the Lucky Sevens was something else entirely, something her papa didn’t even like talking about with her. It was disheartening, really, to see how tired Doc would be at the end of a long day, knowing that there wasn’t much of anything the lot of them could do when it came to dealing with the Gentleman. If he killed a man, it went uncontested. If he burned down a homestead?

Her hands knotted into fists in the polishing cloth she held in her hand. With an irritated sigh, she scooped up the stack of mugs that she was preparing to carry out to the bar, and gracefully rose to her feet. Years of balancing various odds and ends had given her an edge in this particular task. However, her concentration was so fixed that she didn’t even notice the young man at the counter until after she’d dumped all of the mugs in a clattering mess on the well-worn surface.

She flickered her eyes up to the newcomer, almost unable to recognize him when his face was clean, and his shirt, on. Not to mention the fact that he was damp all over.

“Andrew Keatley!” she said, suddenly exuberant. Her eyes shone when she smiled at him, her pleasure obvious at the surprise of his company. “Come in a long way. I hope the storm didn’t bother you too much. Where’s Rebecca? How’s Missus Keatley?” She shot off her list of questions as she began to set up the mugs.

From behind her, Doc stepped out of the doorway that lead upwards to the second landing. His tall, thick frame halted in its motion when he caught sight of Andrew at the counter. His eyes, narrowed at first, suddenly crinkled at the corners as a secretive smile formed beneath a bushy moustache. He tossed the lad a wink, then shifted to remove his duster before rolling his sleeves and walking to the opposite end of the bar.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Doctor (Doc) Oliver McCallister Character Portrait: Lydia McCallister Character Portrait: Andrew Keatley
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#, as written by Celedia
Everyone, no matter how strong or brave, social or arrogant they may seem to the rest of the town, has a secret. Something that flips their personality in a way that makes the brows of nearby folks raise up in inquiry at the transformation. For Andrew Keatley, that secret was his affection for the girl standing before him, saying his name excitedly as if he were a ray of sunshine in the otherwise stormy grey day.

Many adjectives were used to describe the Keatley boy but never had the words shy or timid been upon that list. Yet, as he stood there across from the Doc’s daughter with the questions flying at him about his family, Andrew couldn’t help but just stand there and grin dumbly at her. Staring perhaps a bit too long so that the silence following her queries became a bit awkward and it was only then that he caught himself, pulling himself out of his reverie.

“Oh, ah….” Rather eloquent, eh? He caught himself from stuttering like a fool and raised a hand to smooth back his deep brown hair once more- a nervous gesture which was rarely seen by anyone but family. “Becca’s at the store working a’day and Mama’s at the house…” His eyes wandered briefly to see if anyone was paying them any mind and it was then that he noticed the good Doc standing there with his eyes a’twinklin and a knowing wink was tossed in his direction.

Had Andrew not been so overly tan from years of working under the hot Texan sun, one might’ve seen the red hue that fought to color his cheeks but instead of a full on blush it simply looked like he was starting to get a bit warm. Returning a grin towards Doc McAllister, he made a motion as if to tip his hat towards the man before realizing that the hat was firmly grasped in his hand. Playing off the sudden movement, he simply skimmed a hand through his hair for the third time in just as many minutes.

“And ‘ello, Doc!. Nice to see ya, today. Outside of….” He trailed off again, not wanting to make mention of the fact that the poor man had to come to the Keatley house at least once a week to check upon his mother.

Andrew cleared his throat and tried to restart a conversation with Lydia, his intention for trekking all the way into town to begin with. He had it all planned out. Sweet talk her, perhaps even convince her to go on a picnic with him but those ideas fizzled the moment that the rain drops started falling from the sky. What was he supposed to do now?

“How ‘bout you, Lydia? How’s things?” He looked around the tavern as a few more lost souls trickled in to take their seats, giving him an audience he didn’t exactly need at the moment.

“I was thinkin’ maybe….” The words seemed hard to conjure and for a moment, Andrew simply stared at the fair-faced Lydia. Thoughts were the easy part. He’d tuck her short soft hair behind her ear and tell her things like how she was the prettiest girl this side of the Mississippi river. Ask if he could call upon her. Instead, he stumbled upon his intentions and whatever he had wanted to ask was lost as he changed to safer topics.

“I was thinkin’ maybe about having some of your famous plum pie?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Doctor (Doc) Oliver McCallister Character Portrait: Lydia McCallister Character Portrait: Andrew Keatley
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#, as written by FizzGig
Well, Andrew may have had his secrets, but Lydia wasn’t like most girls, who thrived on the latest tidbit of gossip that the elder ladies liked to toss around when they came in to call on her father. Sometimes she listened, most times she didn’t, and as a result, the young lady remained blissfully unaware of many of the unimportant pieces of information that floated around town. When Andrew had walked in that door, specifically to call on her…

Well, she knew that the tittering elders sitting in the back of the room would have a field day chatting about it over evening coffee and poker cards. For seemingly no reason at all, the girl’s cheeks flushed a delicate pink, and she tried to draw attention away from that by lifting her hand and drawing the back of it over her brow. In fact, the room was quite cool. Desert rains frequently brought the temperature down so that one might be comfortable tossing a shawl about their shoulders.

“So good to know that the family’s holding up.” Lydia said softly, her tone genuine and innocent, with only the slightest hint of concern. No man or woman in this town took pity well, and she made sure never to dish it out in large quantities. People could hold their own in Fort Trinity. They didn’t need the whispered sympathies of a girl like her. She was about to continue, but Andrew’s eyes, and his attention, had drawn to someone behind her.

Turning to acknowledge them, she saw her father standing there. The look on her papa’s face was unlike anything she’d seen in a long time. He looked more like a boy who was fixing to stir up some trouble, and for whatever reason, it distressed her that he was looking at Andrew the way he was.

”…how’s things?”

“Mm?” She turned her attention back to Andrew, ignoring the soft chuckling of her father as he disappeared back into his private studies. “Oh! Things are well. I find myself getting busier all the time, between helping Papa with his work and keeping this place from falling to pieces.” She leaned her elbows on the bar counter, drawing just a little closer to him and looking up at the young man through her lashes.

“Mighty nice to have someone come visit me though, makes me feel pretty special.”

Her heart had started to stutter. She was no stranger to what these sorts of feelings were, the flustered behavior, the anxious flutter of her heart in her chest…the way her skin kept flushing warm whenever she met his eyes. She’d not experienced them personally, not that many times, and certainly not with anyone she’d particularly like to be serious with, but she knew from books that girls often got this way when they were fond of someone.

She looked about ready to say something, perhaps even adventure further on that train of thought, but Andrew’s request brought her up short. She blinked, as if to clear her thoughts, and abruptly looked up to gaze at him straight on.

“I..of course!” she said, smiling to cover up her confusion. “Just give me a moment. I happened to make some fresh this morning.”

Without waiting to listen for his response, she turned around quick enough that her skirts swished about her ankles, and disappeared back into the kitchen. She was surprised to find that she wasn’t alone.

Doc stood there, with a plum skewered on a fork, his large frame leaning on the countertop as he gazed at her with that self-same twinkle in his eye.

“That boy,” he began, his voice a deep rumble in his chest. “…is making eyes at you.”

She blushed, which contradicted the words that spilled out of her mouth. “He is not! He came for pie!” Her pie, but still. “Andrew’s just come to see how things are going, more than likely to bring Becca something.”

Doc chewed that plum, chewed and chewed until that mischievous grin broke out on his face again.

“You sure about that?”

No, but the obstinate look that made her features stern and hard was amusing enough. She definitely had her father in her, but her mother’s stubbornness was eager to shine through in moments like this. “Why on earth would a man like Andrew Keately take an interest in a girl like me?”

He shrugged his massive shoulders, straightening before coming over to put an arm around hers. “I could give you lots of reasons, Miss McCallister, but I think your best course of action would be to ask the young man himself. Throw him a rope. He’s floundering out there.”

Lydia’s lip twitched, turning her body so she could rest her forehead against his chest.

“Do you like him, Papa?”

He laughed. “Every father’s hope for his daughter is for her to find an honorable, hard-working young man who’ll take care of her and take care of his family.” He nodded to the doorway that divided the kitchen from the back of the bar. “That young man is about the finest cut of human being this side of the Mississippi. You’d be wont to lose him.”

He turned her around though, after setting down his empty fork on the counter. “But you make sure you like him plenty well before giving him hope. Nothing hurts a man more than the games some women like to play.” He kissed her forehead.

“But you’re an angel. He’s made a good choice. Go give him his pie.”

Lydia’s face was pinched with thought. She leaned her head back, going up on tip-toe to kiss her father’s cheek before stepping around him and going to the pie-tin. She cut a slice, disappeared down to the ice box to get a little bit of cream and sugar, then dressed up the plate before making her way to the door. Doc was already gone, perhaps off to his office to mull over bills. She was on her own now.

Suppose I should just let things happen naturally, she thought to herself, putting on a smile and leaning against the door with her shoulder so she could step out and greet Andrew with a smile. Setting the plate down on the counter, she gave him a utensil before leaning her elbows on the counter next to him.

“Pie must be pretty good if that’s what drew you all the way out here. You sure there isn’t somethin’ else on your mind?” she asked quietly.

So much for subtlety.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Red Hawk Nocona Character Portrait: Doctor (Doc) Oliver McCallister Character Portrait: Lydia McCallister Character Portrait: Andrew Keatley
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#, as written by FizzGig
“You reckon I can’t ride in the rain?” Lydia teased, removing a kerchief from one of the pockets of her dress. She handed it over to him, gently laying a finger against the corner of her own mouth. “Y’got something on yourself. No need to save it for later, plenty more where that came from.”

She spoke in a low tone, keeping it between him and her. Never was it her intent to embarrass the poor young man in front of the other patrons. Still, in spite of her confidence, she couldn’t help the slight blush that colored her cheeks.

“But, to answer your question, I think a ride and a picnic would be lovely, and I’m flattered you came out all this way just to ask me.”

---

In the back room, where Doc had fashioned an office of sorts, the man had left his window open a crack to allow for a small draft, simply to exchange the air in the stifling room. His kerosene lantern sat on the corner of his desk, flickering at the lowest it could to help preserve oil, and he was passing the time reading over a few books of the medicinal kind. Other things lay strewn on his desk, reports and statements scribbled over papers in the crude chicken scratch of someone unpracticed with a fountain pen. He’d memorized them and cast them aside, eager to take his mind off the dismal happenings outside of town.

Lightning flashed, the thunder following like a cacophonous drum roll, sending a familiar shiver of pleasure down the man’s spine. He loved the sounds of a storm. Reminded him of his days on the battlefield, when he was a younger man and far too naïve for his own good.

Something lingered after the thunder faded. At first, he thought his ears were ringing, but as he stood, walking closer to the window to get a better sense of what he was hearing, he recognized the sound of a panicked woman’s screams.

The man grit his teeth, grabbing for his duster and swinging it over his shoulders before grabbing his hat off a hook and shoving it onto his head. His double-barrel was next, resting comfortably against the wall. Without so much as blinking he swung it up into his arms and burst out of his office, coming out behind the bar and immediately making his way towards the front without so much as looking back.

Startled, Lydia looked towards her father with wide eyes. “Papa?”

“Stay inside.” He instructed gruffly, the door to the saloon swinging shut behind him as he stepped out into the torrential downpour. Rain and darkness obscured his vision, but he went to his horse, mounting it without bothering with a saddle, and pulled it around with the reins held firmly in his hand.

The horse trotted through the mud, bringing him closer and closer to the place where the screams had originated from. What he saw emerging from the library had him pulling up short, his eyes widening beneath the brim of his hat.

What the hell was a Red Man doing so far away from the reservation?

“You’re a long way from home!” he bellowed, trying to be heard over the sound of the storm.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Red Hawk Nocona Character Portrait: Amelia Fyler Fitzgerald Character Portrait: Doctor (Doc) Oliver McCallister
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#, as written by Jag
Red Hawk Nocona

The silence between them beckoned the darkness of the night, heavy air tingling with the electricity darting through the night sky and permeating the distance between his blood-covered hands and the fair skin of the woman he eyed with vicious intent. The silence was marked only by a distant clap of thunder and a tired groan of the floor beneath them having seen years of stress and seconds of violence, both enough to end a lifetime.

"Yes."

The woman's voice broke the silence. Somewhere in the darkness, the dark man smiled.

"Good."

The book flew at him, honestly catching the man off his guard in the instant, giving the young woman a chance to flee. Nocona's hand shot up to protect his face, the binding of the book catching a glancing blow at his cheek as the large invader covered his right eye for a moment out of instinct. It was long enough for Amelia to pour into the street. Into the storm, out fo the danger. For now.

Shaking off the blow, Nocona grunted and charged after her, his large frame passing through the door and noticing the last of the young woman's body and skirts diving into the saloon. It would be suicidal to follow her now -- too many white men, too many guns, and too many drinks in their systems for the white devils to avoid pulling the trigger the moment that he appeared. Red Hawk Nocona may have been a man with a death wish, but that wish was set on his own terms and following the girl strayed from the vision he'd been given.

The sound of shoed horsefalls through the mud of the street carried the man's eyes up and meeting the eventual gaze and words of the lawman. It had only been a matter of time until he'd come, only a distance of death to summon the wrath of men who believed their word to be a truth from above destined to rule the hearts and souls of other men. Control was everything to them and Nocona did not fit neatly into the grids and plans by which the white men were so eager to live their lives.

"You're a long way from home!"

Water dripped from the white man's hat as thunder clapped again, this time closer as if heralding the heroic call to action of the man charged with keeping the peace and protecting the innocent from the likes of this savage. Nocona stepped forth from the protection of the library's porch and into the cold rain, beginning to wash away the blood covering him. Some feared the rain, feared the cold, feared the elements. Nocona felt a new strength surge through his body at the sensation of the coming emar.

"This is my home, lawman," Nocona spoke in the broken English that carried the tone and meaning of his words without loss. "Badge and gun you carry does not take my home away forever. Makes you a thief. A sickness."

His hands hung down to his sides, but the mere size of the man and the blood covering his torso gave rise to the threat he carried even if no weapon was visible as he stood in the street.

"Girl inside is dead, lawman. Too weak for what comes. Her spirit free, no suffering. Do not weep for her."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Red Hawk Nocona Character Portrait: Amelia Fyler Fitzgerald Character Portrait: Daniel Shay Character Portrait: Doctor (Doc) Oliver McCallister Character Portrait: Madeline Whitten
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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.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Red Hawk Nocona Character Portrait: Elizabeth Reddy Character Portrait: Doctor (Doc) Oliver McCallister
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Beth nodded. She never answered Ramsey when he talked like that. Not because of her throat or the lack of anything to reply but because she knew he did not want an answer. They were musing he put out there, whether it was because he was trying to figure the world out or simply liked the sound of his own voice Beth didn’t know and didn’t much care.

Her eyes watched Ramsey. Unlike many others when his eyes met hers she did not look away. Beth had earned her way here and she would not let anyone tell her differently. She knew quite well what Ramsey was capable of there was nothing there for her to fear. Beth had faced death once at the Seven’s hands and since then she had never been afraid of the man’s intense stare. Others who faced him at the poker table found him unsettling and intimidating. She liked to see a man’s cunning in his eyes it gave her an idea of what was coming.

As expected, Ramsey took exception to Donnel being back in the casino. She placed her hat on her head, an apathetic look on her face when he told her to let law enforcement handle the scream. She let out a slow exhale, still very tense. Beth waited patiently as Ramsey poured himself a drink.

"Peter was always so skilled with his shuffle of the cards. Would be shame if something were to happen to his hands,"

Beth reached for her coat that lay over the back of one of the chairs. She pulled it on and gave Ramsey a look. His eyes focused on hers.

"Don't kill him."

She nodded and headed out of his office, closing the door behind her. Beth moved down to the main floor of the casino. She gathered two other Seven’s with her and gestured for them to follow her. The others were used to her not speaking, even if it did bother them at times. She could speak but she chose not to more often than not finding actions to speak louder than words.

Beth approached the table where Peter sat. She stood across from him, looking down at the man from under the brim of her hat.

Peter Donnel paled visibly at the sight of her. The other two Seven’s moved to stand behind his chair.

“W-well now, what can I do for you?” His voice was shaky as he tried not to let on that he was scared. The others at the table had already dropped their cards and waited silently.

Beth lifted her chin, a gesture to him to stand up. Her hands were at her side and she stared at him. Peter shook his head, more in fear than defiance. Beth nodded her head at the men and they each took Peter under the arm. Turning, she led them outside.

“Come on....I just want to win some money back. I wasn’t doin’ no harm!”

Beth was glad her back was to the men as she rolled her eyes. Peter was being carried between them, his feet frantically trying to dig in and slow them down.

“Ugh, stop the fuss and just take it like a man.” One of the Seven’s grunted at Donnel.

Beth led the party out back, the rain soaking them. She cast one glance down the road towards the earlier commotion and despite what she saw, Beth left it alone and followed Ramsey’s orders.

The woman stopped and pointed to the stump of a tree in the brush behind the casino. Normally she’d have dragged him further out of town but it was raining something fierce and the sight of Doc and the Indian put her on edge. Her shoulders felt tight and contempt for Donnel grew. If the man wasn’t so stupid she wouldn’t be out here in the rain dealing with scum.

The men pinned Peter down.

Beth shook her head. “Hands on the stump.” The cold tone of her hushed voice made one man shiver.

Peter began to whimper and whine. “No, please....not my hands I need them!” The two Seven’s held the thrashing man down as Elizabeth approached. She crouched down, coming eye level with him.

“You were told not to come back. You don’t listen. You had a chance.” Beth tapped his hands with the barrel of one of her guns. “You have to make amends for the insult.”

She stood and shot the gun once. The bullet went through Peter’s hand, straight through the palm and into the wood. Her head tilted slightly to the side and she aimed for the other hand. This time it was two shots. One for his thumb and then one to the palm.

Peter’s yells mixed with the clap of thunder overhead. The men let him go and Beth watched passively as he writhed on the ground. She took two steps towards him, her booted foot coming down on an injured hand. “Don’t come back.”

She stepped down hard until the man screamed and tried to kick out at her. Holstering her gun Beth headed back inside and went straight up to Ramsey’s office.

She slid her coat off, tossing it over the back of the chair again. Beth removed her hat and placed it down as well. She looked at Ramsey and gave him a nod. She sat down and began to reload her gun.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Red Hawk Nocona Character Portrait: Doctor (Doc) Oliver McCallister
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#, as written by FizzGig
He couldn’t mean…

“Many of us here in this town were not personally responsible for taking that away from you!” He shouted over the roar of thunder. “…including myself, and the girl inside that library that you killed. Taking out your anger on someone as innocent as she makes you no better a man, and subject to the laws that govern these lands now.”

Rain ran in rivulets down his cheeks, reminiscent of tears. That girl was Lydia’s age, the quiet sort who wouldn’t harm a fly even if it landed on her dinner plate. He gestured to the gun at his side, before dismounting and standing to face off the Indian. Man to man. Neither one better than the other. Nocona was big, but Doc was big too, and he had a gun.

“I can’t let you hurt anyone else.” He told him, taking the weapon in both hands. He did not, however, bring it to bear. Not yet.