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Tuesday 23 October 2018

Wild West Campaign Update: the Fire of Tombstone

Kid Taylor is returning to Tombstone after an unsuccessful search for a suitably menacing horse he was hoping to offer to Crazy Miller as a peace offering. Along the way he runs into Wyatt Earp and the actress Sadie Marcus, who claim to have just 'run into each other' while horseback riding, though it's pretty obvious to him that they had gone out together. The trio also ran into mayor John Clum, who was returning to Tombstone from a conference for territorial local government.  It was already dark when they approached the town, only to find that it was alight with a terrible fire!

The great fire in Tombstone started when someone accidentally dropped a lit cigar into a barrel of whisky in the Arcade Saloon. It would ultimately burn down 66 buildings in the downtown heart of Tombstone, including the cosmopolitan hotel, the OK corral, the County Sheriff's office, the new courthouse, and a large number of saloons including the Argent (owned by the Millers).  The Oriental Saloon took some fire damage but was mostly intact.

Even as the fire was still burning, John Clum made good on his decision to fire Kid Taylor and made Virgil Earp (already a US Marshal for Cochise County) into the city Marshal of Tombstone.  Virgil deputized several people (including the Millers, Jeff Young, and Kid Taylor, as well as Wyatt Earp and Texas Jack Vermilion) as deputies to keep the peace and prevent looting after the fire. He also made Other Miller his town Deputy and offered the same to Kid Taylor, but still stinging from his firing declined the offer to come back as Virgil's underling. Jeff Taylor would have rather just worked full time as a gambler, but when it was clear there was no other good candidate available to Virgil, decided to agree to work as his other Deputy for the next two months.

The fire had caused devastation, but also opportunity. The very next day, the telegraph office was full to the brim with people making orders to start to rebuild; and the registry office was filled with people trying to sell and buy the lots that had burned down. This caused at least a few fisticuffs as tempers flared that required Virgil Earp to intervene. Among the exciting new projects being presented for rebuilding was an ice house and the first Ice Cream Parlor in Arizona.

The Millers joined in on the property speculation, buying up five different burned-down lots at generous prices, and making plans for what they would build. Meanwhile, Kid Taylor and Buckskin Frank Leslie got together to discuss whether or not they would rebuild; Taylor wanted to, but Frank had blown all of his considerable share of the profits from the hotel and didn't have the cash to do his part, plus he was just bored. The hotel business had stopped being fun for him. At one point he was courted by Crazy Miller for his share of the lot, but at the same time Kid Taylor had talked to the hotel's former administrator Jim Vogan, and Tom was interested in buying up Buckskin Frank's share. But a luxury hotel would be beyond Vogan's financial abilities, and he had a different dream: he wanted to open a bowling alley, which had recently become popular back east.  After hearing him out, Kid Taylor was convinced, and they decided to go into business together.  Crazy Miller decided not to try to outbid the pair, and Vogan managed to purchase Buckskin Frank's share.

While this was happening, Mayor Clum passed the town ordinance he had planned to implement as soon as Virgil was Marshal: gun control! From this point on, within the city limits of Tombstone, no one could carry a gun (visible or concealed). Town citizens could keep guns in their home, while visitors to Tombstone had to deposit their firearms in lock-boxes in hotels, boarding houses or saloons (or for short-term visitors, the Wells Fargo office).  Naturally, just about everyone was outraged, but Virgil made it clear that it was the law, and that the law would be strictly enforced. To make a point of that, Wyatt Earp was the first one to hand in his guns.

A test case came up almost immediately. When it looked like everyone had their guns locked up, Johnny Tyler decided it might be a good moment to kill Doc Holliday. Tyler had been humiliated by Doc, and had tried to seek revenge once before only to end up having half the fingers of his hand blown off and his leg shot up so bad he had a permanent limp. He got into the Oriental Saloon, with a gun in his good hand, ready to kill Doc; only to find that Doc (never much of a believer in the law) had been carrying a second gun concealed. Crazy Miller had spotted Tyler heading into the Oriental and thought something might be up, so he came in behind them just as the two were threatening gunplay, and was ready to arrest them both. Except the Oriental's bartender and part-owner Milt Joyce offered them all a way out by claiming that Tyler and Doc were both just about to hand over their guns to the saloon.  Tyler was already shitting his pants over the fact that Doc was armed, so he quickly conceded; while Doc, not really wanting to get himself arrested, eventually did likewise.

But naturally, it didn't end there. Johnny Tyler immediately went out to get a new pistol. He got back to the Oriental, only to find Doc wasn't there. But Crazy Miller was, and advised Johnny Tyler to cut his losses and get out with his life. Tyler berated him, said that this time he was going to kill that lunger freak, and finally get his revenge. Crazy Miller didn't take kindly to that and the two got into a bar fight. They fought for about half a minute until both were bruised and pretty exhausted, and that's when Doc came in. With another gun.

Milt Joyce was sick of this crap, and pulled a gun of his own to try to stop the fight before it started, but Doc shot the gun right out of his hand. Tyler swung around and aimed at Doc, but Doc switched target and shot Tyler; Johnny got his shot out, but missed, and Doc blew his brains out with his second shot. Jim Flynt, who was working the Faro table (Wyatt had gone out, presumably to see Sadie Marcus again, or all of this would probably have been avoided) came rushing at Doc; Doc by then was in combat mode and assuming Flynt was going to attack him too shot Flynt in the leg. Milt Joyce jumped over the counter to try to tackle Doc but Doc swerved out of the way.

Then Deputy Jeff Young, one of a tiny handful of shootists who might just be as fast as Doc, came through the door of the Oriental, armed and shouting at Doc to drop his weapon. Doc turned and smiled, "Why Jeff Young, that is a hell of a thing to say" and for a moment it looked like they were going to shoot it out too, but Deputy Other Miller came through the door right behind Young. Doc figured killing two deputies (or more unlikely, getting himself killed by two deputies) would probably not go well for him, so he finally relented and gave himself in. Joyce and Flynt were furious at Doc and Tyler was dead, but Crazy Miller saw the whole thing and quickly confirmed that it was more than a fair fight.  Even so, the two Deputies disarmed Doc and took him in for violating the new town ordinance.

No sooner was Doc put in jail then Johnny Behan, the corrupt County Sheriff, showed up with an arrest warrant for him (Behan had clearly been waiting for a moment where he could catch Doc definitely unarmed). He was accusing Doc of having been one of the perpetrators of a stagecoach robbery a few months earlier, one that the PCs had been involved in trying to investigate. Behan claimed that he had a signed witness statement confirming that Doc had admitted to the robbery; the statement was from Doc's long-term and recently-estranged girlfriend, Big Nose Kate!

The PCs immediately got to investigating the case, and brought in the Earps for help. Doc denied the accusation, and had stated that during the time of the robbery he was gambling in the town of Purgatory. Wyatt Earp decided he was going to head down there to confirm the alibi.  Meanwhile, Crazy Miller and Other Miller decided to go confront Big Nose Kate, who'd been staying at the Grand Hotel.

Big Nose Kate was surprised at the news that she'd signed anything, but admitted that Johnny Behan had visited her several times, and that on most occasions she'd been drunk out of her mind courtesy at his devising. She could have signed just about anything.  The Millers tried to convince her to sign another witness statement testifying to the fact that she'd been tricked and was profoundly inebriated at the time she signed the earlier statement. And Kate was willing to do so, but first, she said that Doc had to give her what she felt she was owed.

That turned out to be a significant amount of money.  Doc was reluctant, but Miller's top-quality lawyer made it clear that without that, Behan wouldn't even need Kate at the trial, and might even arrange for something to happen to make it impossible for Kate to be there, if you know what I mean. On the other hand, if Kate provided a statement denying the earlier one, even without anything else that should get Doc off free, since none of the other evidence was more the presumption.

So Doc relented, and paid Kate off with $5000, on the condition that he never had to see her again. Kate agreed, and took the morning stagecoach out of town, and just like that was gone from their lives forever.


Currently Smoking: Stanwell Deluxe + Elizabethan Mixture

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