Episode 42: A Reproachful Chat with a Cat | Scryer's Gulch

John and Annabelle reached the Hopewell Hotel's front door, both aware they might be overheard now that they stood somewhat out of the bustle of the road. "I think we should leave the topic of...our man until a more private moment," said John.

"I completely agree," said Annabelle. "Well, then, Mr Runnels. Until tomorrow, dinner? Good night." She shook his hand. He kept it in his just a hair longer than necessary, their eyes met just a hair longer than was proper, and they parted just a hair before more might be revealed one to the other.

Episode 37: A Little Song | Scryer's Gulch

Mamzelle was just waking up, ready to face another long night catering to the foolish men who came through the doors of the Palace. In a way, she felt sorry for them. They were lonely, as she was, and in need of excitement and solace. The full moon was in a few days. She'd give them excitement a-plenty then, but the only solace would be hers.

And Misi's. On the first night of the full, she would kill the Duniway woman, he'd be free to kill Jedediah Bonham, and Mamzelle would take her revenge. The town would be cinders by the next morning. She could see the flames rising against the night sky, perhaps silhouetted against the full moon. Oh, that would be beautiful.

Episode 36: Acceptances | Scryer's Gulch

"You gonna go?" said Rabbit, examining the ornate invitation to dinner at the Bonham house.

John shrugged and didn't look up from the shotgun he was cleaning, pieces laid out in precise positions on top of his jailhouse desk. "Haven't decided yet." Which wasn't at all true. He had decided the minute he got the invitation to accept it--anything involving Annabelle tugged at him with a power he chose to chalk up to her mission.

His brother squinted at him, and left off leaning against John's desk. "Uh-huh. I'm going home to eat some lunch, even if you're not. I'll tell Minnie to set aside a plate, but if you know what's good for you, you'll light along to the house and eat it hot. You're apt to get a wrathy look from Minnie to wash it down with otherwise." He paused at the jailhouse door. "And I'll tell Minnie to make sure your best suit is aired and brushed." He ducked out before John could protest.

"Hmf," John said to himself.

Episode 34: The Ghostly Convocation | Scryer's Gulch

"No need fer that, Miss Annie!" whined Aloysius as he apparated by the door. "Point that thang somewhar else! Bad enough to be stuck in the jail--a spirit bottle's worse'n that, by a fair piece!"

"You bet it is, so behave yourself," said the cat-thing.

"It's all right, Misi, it's just Aloysius. He's a friend. Aren't you, Aloysius?"


"Hmf. Did Runnels send you to spy?" said Misi.

"Waal, I never!" huffed the ghost. "I wuz a horse thief, sure, but I ain't never been no kind of spy nor stool pigeon nor any sort'er feller like that. Now, please point that away from me afore it goes off!"

Episode 33: Aloysius on the Town

Halloween night came to Scryer's Gulch, and many a party was planned. For most of the camp, they were not so much for celebrating; they were more about not being alone. Always tatty at best on top of the hermetauxite deposit, the veil between worlds got even thinner on Halloween.

Episode 32: Hands All Around | Scryer's Gulch

In the hours after Miss Duniway's discovery of his perfidy, Simon suffered much and slept little. He longed for the chance to express the fullness of his regrets, but none came. It was left to him to make his own chance, and he took it the day after the horrible scene at the jail. He saw her on the street after school, threw on his coat, closed his office and hurried after her. "Miss Duniway!" he called, and she halted.

"Mr Prake, how can I be of assistance?" she replied, in tones warmer than he felt he deserved but cooler than he wished.

"I wonder if we might speak for a moment in my office? There are one or two things I wish to convey to you that I'd rather not say in the street."

Miss Duniway paused, and for a sickening moment Simon thought she might refuse. "Very well, Mr Prake, I have a short moment to give you, as long as it can be supposed I have business at your office," she added in a low tone. Simon gave her his humble thanks, and she followed him through his door and into his back office.

Episode 31: A Full-Blooded Evening | Scryer's Gulch

Julian Hopewell wasn't in the habit of visiting Mamzelle's Palace, at least not while the goodtime girls had been in residence at his place. But they were gone, all but Emmy. For a price, Emmy would do anything a man might want, from dishes to more personal services. But Julian preferred that girls at least pretend they liked him, and Emmy wouldn't do that for any amount. The occasional splurge on a visit to Mamzelle's became necessary.

The problem was affording it.

Luckily for Julian's libido, a hotel tenant with a big back bill and not much sense struck it rich on a claim everyone else had given up on. The greenhorn came back to town with one nugget the size of his fist and another the size of a hen's egg; he paid Julian with the smaller one, told him to keep his room open and keep the change--"Call it six months' interest and six more in advance"--and hightailed it back to his suddenly valuable claim.

As a result, tonight Julian was in funds. The first thing he did after hitting the assayer's office to cash in the nugget was to bespeak a dinner at the Palace, featuring a beefsteak the size of the table top.

Episode 28: A Demonstration of Skill | Scryer's Gulch

"Oh, no! No, no, no, Annie, what have you done?" said Misi, pacing atop the bed. "Why did you tell him? Oh, Dark One help me, this is not good."

Annabelle was bending over an open trunk on the floor of her bedroom, carefully removing a panel to reveal a hidden compartment. "You worry too much, kitty." She pulled out a case containing a set of oddly delicate pearl-handled revolvers, and their gun belt. She removed the guns from their case, cleared their chambers, and methodically went through her routine.

"You just cleaned those."

"Can't be too safe," she said, finally loading the cylinders. Annabelle buckled the belt around her waist and placed the guns in their holsters; she practiced a quick cross-draw, and pulled her least-tailored traveling coat on.

Episode 23: Cleaning Up Messes | Scryer's Gulch

When Annabelle returned to her rooms, Misi got up from a patch of sunlight in the bedroom window and stretched. "What's up, cutie? Where you been?" he said. "Good Joyful Noise this Sunday, or did stage fright get the better of you?"

"It's not a performance, kitty, it's a worship service," snapped Annabelle, throwing her best straw on the bed long enough to fetch her hatbox down from the wardrobe. She stopped abruptly; several small traps she'd left had been triggered. The small clean streak in the dust on the nightstand was gone, for one. "Someone's been in here, Misi."


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