Dawn - an ominous fog reluctantly drew away from the morning plains, revealing the aberration that would change my life forever. The anomaly’s name was Muguara and he was the last of the Comanche to live on the plains in these lands. Across the expanse, a small convoy of armed gunmen stood ready to strike him down. Yet alone he endured, defiant of the odds; the dim rising sun peeked through the clouds as if to scrutinize the entire event. It seemed to spotlight his form as if he willed it to do so…and perhaps he did. Muguara was known to be a man of mystical lineage: a shaman for lack of better words. His people had no love for the settlers who brought disease to their homelands. Many treaties between the two burgeoning cultures were forged and later brought to ruin. In the beginning there was peace; such a tragedy that it had come to this. As countless others of his tribe were sent to reservations, Shaman Muguara stood alone summoning an esoteric strength unto him on the plains.
As for me, I was not born yet…at least not in the form I have become. When I was little, my father was famous. A decorated formal Union soldier; his exploits led him to become the greatest gunfighter in the West. As a warrior, the simple life just did not tally well with him. In life, he had shot and killed dozens of men: bad men. He was not amoral, but just and principled. Amid the war, he did what he had to do in the name of America’s territorial integrity. As the war ended however, The West changed. America changed. It was the industrial age of man. It was not a time for men like my father. After the fighting, he became a drifter. He took jobs as a bounty hunter and oft times as a local sheriff to many a poor Western town.
During his service as a sheriff however, he was injured. Shot in the line of duty. It was at this time, his life calmed before the storm. Eventually he stumbled upon the beautiful lands on the plains of Texas. Between a local settler’s town and Comanche territory, he took residence in the neutral prairies flanked by their worlds. When he arrived, there was an uneasy peace between the two cultures. Nevertheless as time passed truces would be broken, alliances would fall and eventually my father would be stuck in the middle of a cold war. Natives and settler’s alike toiled for control of the land. The natives believed the land was sacred. The settler’s believed the land was a goldmine for exploitation.
Again, this was a time of change and the settler’s and outside forces wanted to set tracks for a railroad straight through Comanche land. America wanted to stretch its legs and land was essential for the expanse of the common goal. Backed and spurred by the chance of wealth in the form of the burgeoning moguls of Quinne’s Imports and Exports, nothing would stop the settler’s from obtaining the land. Treaties became lies, lives became forfeit and eventually the native’s were driven from their homeland. In the meantime, my father lived, loved and eventually began a family. He was finally at peace. But his peace amongst the turmoil would soon change. Everything would change for us all.
Throughout this time, my father had no qualms with either side. With his bad leg, there weren’t many options for him. He became a blacksmith, traded with the settler’s and at times dwelled amongst the Comanche. In fact, his wife...my mother…was of Comanche bloodline. It was unprecedented. Nobody knew what to make of him. Many hated him, because he was mysterious and an outsider. The pot was boiling in these lands and my father knew it. Eventually, the steam would burn him.
As we ate breakfast that terrible morning, we heard the shouts of the gunman trying to talk Muguara out of his defensive position. Meanwhile, my father sat in his rocking chair on the front porch. He had his pistol with him; he often had his pistol with him…old habits die hard. While I fret at the breakfast table, my mother tried to calm me with her words. What was father going to do? He was friends with the Comanche shaman, yet he had friends in the settlers too. But neither were his affair. Mother told me I was his only concern. If fighting commenced, my father would be ready to protect us from any fall out. So there he sat in his rocking chair at the bottom of our hill, watching the oncoming war above.
After breakfast, father sent me to my room. From the window, I watched the affairs unfold. As I peered across the stretch of land, my heart beat as if it were trying to escape from my chest. From my vantage point, I saw a vicious cloud roll in ominously. It was shaped like some devil spawned hound. It covered the field in a Cimmerian shade. Electricity crackled across the morning sky and the rain began to fall. It was as if the vaults of heaven spat at the scene in disdain. Muguara’s gestures seemed to grow in aggression as the winds swelled. I had met Muguara before, but this was no longer the kind gentle man I knew. This was not the man that had welcomed my father unto his lands; the man who gave over his daughter to a stranger. Not the man, who calmed the tensions of his fellow Comanche during the union of my mother to my father. No, there was something terrible about the man on the hills…something beyond.
So as I gazed through the drizzle, I saw Muguara point at the gunmen. They shouted at him and raised their guns in return. Muguara carried a staff in one hand and what looked to be a feather in the other. As he swept the feather across the open space before him, the winds seemed to pick up. Then Muguara slammed his staff on the ground. Lightning struck…and five gunmen fell down along with their horses. Three died, while the others writhed and coughed in pain. Another gunman was rocked from his startled horse as well. He seemed gravely injured from the fall. The last two were far enough away to avoid serious damage. The two advanced with guns drawn, hooting and hollering wildly. My father shouted for us to hide in the cellar. I could hear my mother coming up the stairs for me. I hid from her; running across the hall and into a small bathroom…locking the door. As I continued to watch the scene from a window in bewilderment and wonder, my mother screamed for me. Normally I was not a disobedient child, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the commotion outside. I would forever regret this decision.
I could hear my mother shouting out my bedroom window to my father, “Where is Daniel? I can’t find Daniel?” My father screamed for her to back away from the windows. As they hassled on my whereabouts, I observed the skirmish in the distance. On the horizon, Muguara took a mighty swing with the arm that held the feather. A gust of wind blew a gunman from his horse and unto the ground. The last gunman began to fire his weapon uncontrollably. Another swing from Muguara and an additional gust sent the last gunman flailing his arm in the direction of the window. The gunman was still firing as he fell backwards. I heard my mother fall silent. Then I heard the sickening dull thud of something soft hitting something hard. After that, I heard nothing.
Piercing Weapon: superior (rank 2)
…And then the silence was broken by the echoes of my father’s scream. He screamed my dead mother’s name. It was not a sound my father had ever made. It was not a sound that any man has ever made. It was unadulterated anguish and it haunted me. Without delay, I kicked the bathroom door open and dashed downstairs. When I arrived outside, my father’s face was contorted in a ghastly hangdog frown. He yelled for me to get in the house, but I could not. There my mother lay, slain…blood gushed from a bullet wound in her neck. Once again, I disobeyed. Once again, I would forever regret my decisions. Another slew of gunshots fired, however I did not see nor hear it. My world went black…
To proceed, it should be mentioned that my father was also a gun collector. His handgun acquisitions were the best in the land. During commerce with an overseas traveler and scholarly friend of my mothers by the name of Axel, he acquired what was known as a Howdah pistol or in common terms: an elephant gun. It was a slow loading weapon, but for power it was uncontested. Rather than gunpowder and the like, this gun was modified to fire by means of compressed air. Somehow, this increased the firepower of an already powerful weapon. My father never understood the makings of it, nor did he need to. His only question to the foreigner was, “Does it shoot?” The man by the name of Axel would respond by drawing the weapon and blasting a rather large chunk out of a nearby tree. This has been my father’s favorite handgun ever since.
Fastest Draw in the West
Reaction Speed: standard (rank 1)
But that was then, now my father wailed to the winds. Despite his debilitated leg, he rose quickly to his feet while the fight in the distance continued. Inhumanly fast, my father fired off three shots from his place next to my mother. Three men fell instantly; one of which was Muguara. “You son’s of bitches, what have you done!?” He was heard screaming. He lumbered to my body, picking it up. He pleaded for God to return my spirit to him. “What have you done!?” he howled to the men in the hills. Turning slowly, he placed me near my mother, cursed, spat and made his way towards them as fast as he could muster. The man who had shot my mother began to rise slowly still shaken from his prior attack from Muguara. My father shambled to the gunman’s position. The man knew he was in danger. He recoiled to raise his weapon and instantaneously his hand was blown to smithereens. His gun spiraled through the air from the impact. To add insult to injury, my father reloaded and fired again. The gunman’s head disintegrated before his gun hit the ground.
Marksman: superior (rank 2)
Nearly 100 paces away, two scalded, smoldering men lay moaning in agony: Muguara’s first victims. Their burning fleshed spoiled the air to high heaven. As the wind changed direction. The odor caught my father’s attention before he turned to face Muguara. His leg was tired and Muguara was only a few strides away. He noticed one of the more hardy gentlemen beginning to crawl away. Squinting slightly, he raised his weapon and fired two blindingly quick shots of the brass core balls from the Howdah. The men would make no more sounds again.
The Path to Hell
Eldritch Energy: standard (rank 1)
- Target Seeker
Then my father would turn to Muguara. The shaman is bleeding from a gunshot wound to the stomach. “It’s not too late…” He tried to say, but before he could finish, father fell clumsily atop Muguara spitting in his face as he spoke. “Shut up! Damn you to hell…Shut up and die!” He spewed. His face was drenched in tears. He renewed his distraught and almost disfigured appearance from before as he shoved his Howdah into the neck of Muguara. “You ruined it. Why couldn’t you just leave? Wha…wha…” He couldn’t finish his words as tears that had never fell from my father’s eyes before ran freely. Muguara took advantage and finished his sentence, “It’s not too late to save him.” My father stirred slightly, still sobbing in the chest of the shaman. “His spirit won’t go. He hangs on to this life, but you must hurry.” The gun in Muguara’s face lowered. My father tried to compose himself. “What are you talking about old man?”
Muguara looked into the air, “The spirit of Coyote has gone mad. He has poisoned these lands. He has poisoned…me.” Briskly, my father cracks Muguara with the butt of his gun. “I give you one chance and you speak of ghosts!?!” The Shaman winces and tries to continue, “Look…look into the winds.” Father does and his world drops from beneath him. In the skies, he sees it: the clouds take a form: my form. What begins in awe turns to horror as he notices a dark cloud advancing towards the cloud formation. “It is the spirit of Coyote!” Muguara proclaims. He coughs up blood and struggles to continue, “Coyote is the spirit of change. He is a trickster spirit. During the conflict between our peoples, he took control of me. This is not his way. He has never harmed men before…not until his land was corrupted: corrupted by your people’s progress. Your toxins and pollutions have caused him to…” My father shoves the gun back in the face of the Shaman. “I don’t have time for your beliefs today, Muguara.” His face turns stone cold. “How do I get my son back? How do I kill it?”
“There is one chance, but it will cost me my life.” Father looks to the sky. The coyote cloud form has nearly swallowed my form completely. Viewing Muguara’s wounds, father points to the body of my mother and presses into his face, “I reckon your life is already forfeit.” Muguara smiles, “…Understood. Very well, then your son must choose. If he refuses to pass into the hereafter, then he will be victim to the coyote. He needs a tether. He needs a bridge to the mortal world, but I fear his only connection here is too dangerous.” The shaman fixes a harsh glare at my father. “Do it.” Father says without pause.
Muguara looks deeply at the cowboy. He stares him from head to toe and finally affixes his eyes on the Howdah. With that, the shaman begins to sink into a deep trance. He mutters a haunting melody under his breath. My father glimpses the skies to see my form nearly spent. Muguara thrusts his hand skyward, “Behold your father, Daniel. His future is wrought with death and darkness for years to come. He will thrust this upon himself in a demonic path to right what was done here today. He needs you Daniel or else he is lost forever…just as you may be if you stay there in the winds. Now, you must choose.” Muguara slowly points to the Howdah pistol. “Choose this weapon and join your father on his intemperance journey. Choose the winds and I will force you away from coyote to join your mother in death. You do not understand my words, but you must choose.”
Abruptly, the sky went lurid. My father turned towards the billowing winds and the image of his son was lost to him. The malicious cloud-form swelled in size. My father spun around only to witness Muguara…dead. Suddenly, his pistol became warm in his hands: very unlike the cold wood, brass and steel contraption he was used to wielding. In fact, it felt more like the warm embrace of a son: his son. I had made my choice. I did not speak the language of Muguara, but in the maw of the beast I could feel my father’s empathy and compassion drawing me too him. I escaped the coyote specter and rushed into the weapon of my father: tethering myself forevermore to the mortal world. Together, we would seek revenge. My father knew it. He felt it too. With understanding he spoke, “I reckon we mortals can make enough troubles for ourselves without haints, spirits and the like mucking it up.”
Father rose slowly, pointing his gun to the sky: he shot once. The compression device that was once a Howdah shook unlike ever before. It smoldered a luminescent blue hue that was the essence of I. My infuriated spirit went into that blast and rocketed towards the evil cloud. The shot was perfect and a blue hissing missile shrieked across the sky. Upon impact the cloud dissipated and funneled to the ground; taking the form of a massive coyote. The animal charged towards my father, growling tempestuously and foaming at the mouth. Father shot three more times, not noticing that the original bullet had not completed its path of vengeance. I held sway over the firearm and therefore, the buckshots within. While the remaining projectiles of me flew, I altered the trajectory of the original and plummeted downwards flanking the creature. Below, Coyote leaped with otherworldly speed dodging the first bullets. The colossal monster was on my father in seconds, but to no avail. Little did he know, that all the bullets had changed course and rocketed back towards him…until it was too late. An ethereal yelp filled the air. Where the bullets had penetrated Coyote; blue beams of light burst forth. The Coyote howled in pain, cringed into a fetal position and vanished forever.
And it was done. My father may have been tough as nails, but in the end, he was still human. Afterwards, he would fall to the Earth and the ground would capture his tears for what seemed like an eternity. In the end, Muguara was dead, the hired gunmen dead and the land cleansed. By the time word had gotten back to town, my father was gone and his family buried. A drifter he was and a drifter he ever will be…but not alone. As my father left his tragic life behind, he forged a new chronicle in his life. Ere long, he vowed wrath upon all unearthly phenomenon or “thang's not of man.” as he would call them. With his Howdah pistol endowed with the essence of me and his new path laid, my father placed his old white hat down upon the grave of his family. Finally, he would take a dark black hat from atop the head of one of the fallen gunmen and ride off into the sunset forever more known as the Cimmerian Rider.