by Dave Hogg, Doomtown Story Lead

At Gen Con 2023, Doomtown will continue the tradition of having player votes that influence the outcome of story events and decide the fates of selected characters. We’ve considered player feedback such as advance notice of how player results would influence the story along with publishing those results beyond the event itself. Here, we’re going to present an overview of our story plans for Gen Con Doomtown events so that you, as players and spectators, know what’s at stake when folk start slingin’ cards in Indianapolis.  

Fans of Doomtown’s fiction have been following the story of Jonah Essex in the ‘Aces Low’ series, as he and his posse have been guided towards the town of Deadwood, South Dakota by mysterious and mystical forces. In the most recent instalment, the posse arrived in the Sioux Nations’ sacred Black Hills close to the settlement and began the final leg of their journey. But what awaits them at their destination? The Weird West Edition base set introduced some of the intrigue afoot within Deadwood, with new dudes and flavor text alongside some short fiction pieces helping to build a picture of what has been going on in the town during the time Jonah has been travelling. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the situation around the town, here’s a quick overview:


Following the Black Hills War of 1881, the town of Deadwood sits isolated from the United States as an enclave within the Sioux Nations protected by a treaty. There are those on both sides unhappy with this situation, as Deadwood lost a lot of the land its inhabitants had claimed, while the Sioux didn’t completely drive the settlers from their ancestral lands. A ritual known as the Great Summoning affects the territory of the Sioux Nations, which causes modern, mass-produced technology to quickly fail. This isn’t the case in Deadwood though, as it and the Iron Dragon railroad which provides its only link to the outside world are surrounded by totems that allow technology to function as normal. Despite this the town prospers, mainly thanks to the abundance of ghost rock within the surrounding hills.


In this environment we have E.B. Farnum, who has formed a consortium of like-minded business owners looking to protect their position in town by any means necessary against the influx of fortune seekers arriving with every train. Farnum also desires to reclaim losses he suffered because of the Deadwood Creek Treaty and is making use of his friends in both high and low places to further his schemes. Some of those friends belong to the Deadwood Miners Alliance, a group whose core includes some of the town’s original founders led by Frank Bryant. They reject the Sioux-imposed claim registration system, believing all the ghost rock in the area is theirs by right, and they aren’t afraid to operate outside the law to take it.

Pressure from both long-established groups on hardworking newcomers to the town seems to have attracted the attention of the 108 Righteous Bandits. A group from the anarchist collective led by the powerful Kung fu master Hao T’e Zui, the Mad Monk has recently arrived in Deadwood to stand up for the oppressed people.


Attempting to keep the town from descending into chaos is local Sheriff Seth Bullock, who works with Eagle Woman That All Look At, a Lakota Sioux chief and diplomat who is working hard to preserve the fragile peace in the town. She is privy to a secret known only to a few, that the sinister Cult of the Raven was the driving force behind the Black Hills War. Though the Ravenites were defeated, rumors persist that some of their number continue to work in secret to sow discord between the town and the Sioux Nations in the hope of provoking another war. The recent arrival of the legendary Marshal Bass Reeves to town will surely help the forces of law and order maintain the peace. Their immediate problems concern a spate of disappearances from the town and its surroundings, and the apparent return of Wild Bill Hickok from beyond the grave to exact revenge against his killers.


Those disappearances couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the demented Ursula the Worm Queen and her followers, who live out in the badlands to the south of the town in a place called Worm Canyon and worship giant burrowing creatures known as Rattlers…could they?


Finally, is another recent arrival worthy of mention. Jonah’s old outlaw running mate Jessica Patchett. Formerly known as Sloane, Jessica arrived in town looking to live a quiet existence somewhere far away from her tumultuous past. What effect will Jonah’s arrival have upon her plans?


There are fiction pieces either complete or soon to be complete that expand on all the above. However, a problem has arisen that has interfered with our plans to deliver this story to you ahead of the event in a timely fashion, namely the gremlins currently infesting the Gomorra Dispatch site that hosts our fiction. Hopefully the site can be restored, and those pieces made available in the coming weeks, but with things being as they are and us wanting to inform you of what will be happening ahead of the event, we’ll have to release a slight spoiler as to where the situation ends up. If you’d rather wait to find out, then stop reading now!

Ursula has demanded a great sacrifice for her subterranean masters, and the increased activity of the worm cult has caught the attention of Sheriff Seth Bullock following the revelation that several Deadwood townsfolk were also members and behind the kidnapping of Arthur Dingler and possibly others. The Sheriff has rounded up a posse to ride after the fleeing cult members towards Worm Canyon, to attempt a rescue. Meanwhile the 108 Righteous Bandits have discovered that the ghosts that have been attacking miners and townsfolk were none other than the Deadwood Miners Alliance in disguise. They’ve learned the Miners Alliance’s next target and plan to ambush them and put an end to their crime spree. 


With this much conflict erupting, we’ll be letting those of you taking part in the event at Gen Con decide the fates of many of the characters involved. Should the fiction and accompanying card spoilers not be released in time, then we’ll be making the spoilers available so you can at least see the names and faces of the folks you’ll be fighting for (or against). This isn’t quite how we planned for everything to go, but hopefully this will help to get you invested in the story. Keep your eyes peeled for more details as we get closer to the event!


The following is the first fiction of the associated fiction pieces by Ross Fisher-Davis, who joins
Doomtown Lead Designer Richard Carter on a Weird West panel at San Diego Comic-Con.

SuAnne Bettelyoun considered herself an observant woman. She noticed small things around her, subtle changes in the dirt, smells in the winds, the movements of birds. She could judge the distance of a train approaching Deadwood to the minute by watching the ripples in puddles on the street.

So, it came as something of a shock to her, taken as she was by the ripples in her cup, that the grubby miner could walk unnoticed the length of the tavern and bark an accusation at her from a few feet away.

She scolded herself inwardly, trying to make it look natural as she lazily rolled her gaze to take stock of the man in his mud-caked boots, dirty overalls, and broad-rimmed felt hat. She gazed at him through dark eyes and wondered why the ripples in her water had completely held her attention.

This early in the morning, Nuttal and Mann’s No.10 Saloon was serving a few regulars plus a few third shifters from Pat’s Perch capping off a long night of work up in the hills. At some point, a lone drifter had wandered in seeking to quench his thirst. SuAnne herself liked to stop in this early to drink cool water alone and have a plate of whatever Tom the barman could dredge up from the rickety wooden lean-to he called a kitchen. Though she was known well enough around camp, it didn’t do much to keep her from facing the ugly side of Deadwood’s feelings for the First Peoples.

The miner grunted another slur, and SuAnne’s brows furrowed as she countered his gaze with her own stern look. “What’re you talking about, you drunk old bastard?” she said. One hand leisurely hung at her side, near the hip upon which her favorite bone-knife just happened to be slung.

The drunk leveled an outstretched finger at SuAnne, broken fingernails crusted with dirt. “I said you know what happened to Bill Wylan!” Spittle flew out from his gap-toothed mouth as he slammed a hand down on SuAnne’s table. “He was just minding his own business in the hills, workin’ his claim that he bought with his own money, and now he’s gone and don’t nobody know where. They ain’t even lookin’ for him no more.” The miner took a slug of his whiskey. “I know it was you, you savages. Always watching us up there, eyes in the forest, looking for the best time to come down on us like a pack of goddamn coyotes smellin’ blood.”

SuAnne’s eyes darted about the room. The few faces present turned towards the confrontation, eyes glittering, expecting entertainment. A day didn’t go by at the No.10 without a few fists thrown, and SuAnne had cheered a few on herself. Even so, the antics of drunken miners and amorous cowboys were a far cry from talk of First Peoples killing white folk. Affecting a slight drawl to feign drunkenness, SuAnne raised a placating arm in the air, and addressed the room with a laugh.

“I’m just trying to have a drink all by myself, and this fella walks up to me hollering and yelling, face like a dime’s worth of dog meat, and somehow I’m the savage?”

SuAnne heard the snickering from among the onlookers, saw a few faces turn away. She waved her arm at the long-suffering bartender, keeping the light-hearted ball rolling.

“Tom, get this lovely fella and his friends a drink for me so he can sit down and stop making a fuss eh?”

She nodded to the miner’s table of friends, three men filthy to a fault, and tried to settle back into her corner, waiting for the accuser to leave. The friends stared back, accusatory glares unchanged. SuAnne watched from the corner of her eye and exhaled slowly as two of the miners rose from their chairs. While tipping one drunk miner over her table wouldn’t have been too much trouble, three belligerents exceeded SuAnne’s comfort level.

Across the room, Tom Nuttal leaned over the bar to call out, “Now c’mon fellas, it’s a nice morning, no need to get caught up in this nonsense ‘afore lunch even comes around. The lady bought you folks a drink, let’s all just sit back down and keep it friendly, how about it?” One of the risen miners turned, undeterred by Tom’s nervous stutter, and jabbed his cup towards the bartender, sloshing watery beer on the floor.

“It’s true Tom! You heard us in here for weeks now!” he began counting off on filthy, blackened fingers, “First Daughtry goes, disappeared in his own camp, then old man Wills and his donkey, left camp and never made it back to town, and now Bill! Gone in broad daylight Tom, and ain’t nobody doing nothing about it!”

Tom gave a great shrug, helpless hands extended. “I’m here to tell you boys that starting fights in my bar ain’t gonna solve nothing.”

The first miner sneered at the bartender. “Just until this one tells us what her damn people did with my friends.” SuAnne saw his bloodlust coming up in him like a runaway train and raised her hands in supplication. “Sir, I know we got our differences, but me and my people wouldn’t hurt none of yours, and you know it. We help your folk out there in the hills. I won’t hear anything else, and a lotta people around camp got my back on that. Now let’s just sit down…”

SuAnne began to shift her chair aside, as the drunken miner lurched for her, calloused hands going for her collar to pull her from her seat.

SuAnne moved quicker than a jackrabbit, darting out from her seat as she easily evaded the drunken man’s lunge. Taking advantage of the man’s overextended grab, SuAnne’s push sufficed to send him over her chair. Tangled between the chair legs, the hapless miner went tumbling into the corner in a sprawling heap.

Tom had time to yell in denial as cups came flying at SuAnne and knives flashed into the hands of two of the miners now bearing down on her. Boxed into a corner, SuAnne grabbed for her own, the long bone handle comfortable in her hand. As she raised the knife to fend off her attackers, a shot echoed throughout the room, sending a tumble of dust and grungy rainwater from the ceiling.

Danny London and Stan Fredricks stood just inside the saloon’s bat wing doors, The former, smoking pistol in hand, stared down the miners as they crowded around SuAnne.

Tom mournfully gestured to the hole in his roof. “Aw deputies did you have to… I just got that sorted from last time.”

Stan, hand lazily resting on his undrawn pistol, trod to the bar and knocked mud from his boots onto Tom’s floor.

“Shut up Tom, this place got more holes than bad cheese already. Me and Danny heard you yellin’ from the street.”

Danny holstered his weapon and tilted his chubby jaw towards the miners.

“Now what’re you fellas doin’ making a scene on a lovely day like this?” he grunted, lifting a hand to buff an imaginary smudge from the tin star affixed to his cowhide vest.

The miners’ fire doused, they looked at one another, fumbling for words. In the corner, their leader finally extricated himself from the chair legs and stumbled to his feet.

“It’s the tribe folks deputy, they the ones who took Bill,” he waved a hand at SuAnne, who had adroitly slipped her knife into the folds of her skirt and proceeded to look harmless. “Took Bill Wylan and the rest, and we gonna find ‘em!”

Danny gave a bark of a laugh.

“Mack, Bill Wylan couldn’t find his rear end with both hands, he probably fell into a ditch on his way home. Now rest assured we are looking for him, and anyone else who went missing. But raising a ruckus with folks in respectable establishments ain’t the way to find answers or your friends.”

Tom nodded sagely and sighed.

“Go on Danny, take your lady friend out of here, I’ll cool things off here,” Stan said, already leaning over the bar and helping himself to a fresh cup.

SuAnne didn’t need a second opportunity. Slipping between the miners, she strode across the bar, nodding to Tom as she went, and stepped out into the hazy morning sun of Deadwood’s Main Street.

Danny’s heavy boots crunched in the mud after SuAnne, and he gave her a nudge.

“Now, Mack and his boys in there would have to study to be half-wits, but still SuAnne, why don’t you take a break from bein’ seen around town a few days huh? Right words in the wrong ears and they come for one of your folk damn quick.”

“I know it, Danny. Still, I appreciate the assistance. Now get back in there and talk ‘em down before they string you up next to me.” SuAnne nodded her head back to the yawning doors of the bar.

London gave the briefest of nods, and hucked a wad of phlegm into the wet street as he turned to go.

SuAnne found herself staring again, the filthy puddles in Deadwood Main Street a permanent fixture. She dropped to a squat and placed a hand on the ground.

“When’s the next train coming into town, deputy?” she asked without moving.

“Nothing ‘til the one-thirty from Yankton tomorrow if you’re expecting someone,” Danny coughed, disappearing behind the swinging doors.

SuAnne continued to stare, the barely noticeable ripples in the puddle continuing. Slowly, avoiding London’s mucus, SuAnne laid flat to the ground, and felt.

Walter Jameson bit his lip and sounded out the word he’d just scrawled.

“No, not crawl. Burrow. Monster worms burrow beneath our streets. In the…”

The scorched piece of tinder he was writing with snapped in his over-enthusiastic grip once again, smearing black charcoal across his ratty little notebook. Walter reflected once again that leaving him his notebook but depriving him of all his pencils was a special kind of torture.

The ground beneath him rumbled, showering dirt from the ceiling onto his head, further adding to the coat of dust, sweat, and filth that Walter wore.

“Ooh ho hoo! That was a big one!” Walter exclaimed, frantically fussing to get a point back to his improvised writing implement. “Monster worms burrow beneath our streets. My God, imagine that headline. Every eye in Deadwood would be glued to it.”

Across the dirt floor of the room, Bill Wylan gave a non-committal grunt and continued to stare out of the iron bars that kept the two of them incarcerated.

They were doing something out there now, their captors. Not just the commonly seen ones with the curling tattoos around their bare chests, but the ones in the robes had reappeared now too. Some kind of mark of rank, Walter figured as he watched the cowled men and women bark orders, clearing the room before them.

Bill fidgeted with his mustache as he addressed his fellow captive. “You think they all get their robes from the same place? There some kinda… cultist store on a corner in Des Moines somewhere?”

Walter pointed his stubby piece of charcoal at Bill and nodded eagerly, “Monster worms AND the men of Deadwood who worship them! Thank you.”

Bill gave a great sigh as Walter went back to scribbling in his notebook with renewed vigor. “Dagnabbit Walter, would you put that thing down. Ain’t nobody gonna read your great exposé. Ain’t nobody waiting in the street for the new Black Hills Pioneer.”

Bill then sat up and flexed his arms, jutting out his jaw and putting on an absurd prospector’s drawl.

“Gosh darn I just can’t wait for the new Walter Jameson exposé, I sure was on the edge of my seat with ‘Rodeo Clown turns out to be Runaway Railroad Tycoon,’ he’s a regular Lacy O’Malley!”

“Don’t you talk about Lacy O’Malley like that, that man is the finest investigative reporter the West has ever known.”

Bill slumped and his arms dropped to his sides as his head tipped back in exasperation. “What I’m trying to say Walter, is that ain’t nobody gonna read your chicken scratch ‘cause we’re gonna die in here. Unless we do something, we are going to die,” he gestured around them, waving his arms at the dirt floor and the bars of their cell, “right here. Just like that poor sap who was here when they brought us in. That thing out there that walks like a woman, she’s gonna feed us to those…”

The rumbling came again, insistent this time, roiling beneath them both, so close they could picture the vast coils roiling. Walter folded his chunk of charcoal into his fist thoughtfully. “You think that means they’re hungry?”

Bill gave another shrug, turning back to stare out the bars.

“Something that big always gotta be hungry right?”

“Oh, like you wouldn’t believe,” came a response from outside, the sickly-sweet, husky voice they’d learned to fear. Walter jammed his notebook into his shirt pocket and Bill shifted himself back from the bars as she appeared from around the edge of their enclosure, her wide eyes staring down at her captives.

Her supplicants, all in robes or bearing coiling purple tattoos, surrounded her. They flocked around the Worm Queen, and she placed a protective hand upon the head of the closest, like a mother comforting a child.

“You’ll forgive me for eavesdropping, won’t you?” Ursula smiled, her face split with the rictus grin of the deeply insane. “But what would they do, really? What would the people do when they find out what is coming for them?”

Ursula lowered herself, her body seeming to contort beneath her soiled dress, almost meeting Walter’s gaze. She stared at him, her gaze trailing up and down his body, and then across the room to Bill.

“Skinny boys… skinny skinny boys each and every one,” she rose suddenly, stained hands pushing aside her doting cultist. She lost interest in Walter and Bill instantly, her gaze spinning around the room as she twirled, her manic voice rising.

“No good at all. No good. Skinny little boys and girls!” Ursula gripped at her hair, clutching it tight enough to rip clumps loose, and bit her lip with a strangled hiss of despair.

“So many of you here and no one’s listening!” she screeched, blood pouring from her lip to drizzle down her chin. “Always hungry, always so hungry, and the spawning coming and the little younglings will be so famished and skinny little boys and girls will not do!”

She raised a hand and spun, pointing to a tall, bald, robed figure that had lurked in her shadow since her appearance.

“Alonzo, ride to town, let those there know the time is drawing close, more guests are needed for the grand celebration immediately.” she smiled and pointed to another, “and you, bring two from the hills before nightfall or you shall be devoured.”

Before the cultist had time to react, Ursula threw her hands out, her arms twisting and writhing around her.

“All of you! Find me more, fill my cages, I want my pantry fit to burst!”

Her face contorted in a mix of laughter and abject pain. Walter and Bill could only stare at each other in horrified silence as Ursula wildly shooed her cultists from the room like a schoolmarm eagerly herding toddlers into the yard. From below, the rumbling came again.

“Bill, we gotta get out of here,” Walter whispered.

Fred Ayres stepped onto the new boards that led prospective customers from the muddy streets of Deadwood and stood in the open doorway of Ayres’ Wardman Hardware. He turned and looked back out towards the bustling street. It was turning into a fine evening.

There was a sniffle and a cough nearby, and Fred raised an eyebrow to see Rob Wilby a few feet away. The old drunk had posted up for the evening, partially camouflaged on a bench, his heavy duster wrapped around his skinny frame and pulled right up to his red, bulbous drinker’s nose.

Fred stepped forward and after a brief moment, gave the old drunk a kick.

“Rob, wanna make a few bucks for the weekend?”

Rob cracked a suspicious eye, always more alert than he acted.

“It’s warm in ‘ere,” came his mumble in response.

Fred hooked a thumb behind him to the store. “Got crates need bringing from the storeroom to the front office. You know me and my back. Come on Rob, drag ‘em though while I close up, and I’ll settle you up with Swearengen for the week.”

Rob raised a thoughtful eyebrow.

“All amenities included?”

“Don’t push yer luck you old coot,” Fred turned to head back into his store, and with a rustle of dusty garments, Rob followed. Fred settled himself behind his cash register, balancing spectacles on his nose and gesturing towards the back rooms.

“You’ll see ‘em back there.”

Tottering into the back room, Rob produced a half empty bottle of watery turps from somewhere in his coat and took a quick pull. Rob muttered to himself as his bleary eyes surveyed the back room. “To be goin’ on with,” he muttered to himself.

There was little to speak of when it came to boxes in the back room, with most of Fred’s wares clearly on display in the storefront. Rob glanced around at the assortment of supplies and tools stored amidst various other materials piled against the walls and narrowed his eyes in suspicion. On a box nearby were two empty beer bottles, still wet with condensation, and a pile of ratty purple robes.

Rob half leaned back, his foot still in the open door, and called to Fred. “Mr. Ayres, I don’t see no crates back here…” The door kicked forward into his face in a crash, and Rob fell backwards, blood spurting from a broken nose.

Landon Grimes swung his head around the door from where he’d been lurking, his pearly white
teeth shining in a grin.

“Oh, observant fella are you now?” he chuckled, stepping around the bloodied door and advancing on Rob. Landon’s filthy butcher’s smock was stained with the bloody residue of his profession, and he wore metal butcher’s gloves. He delivered a stinging kick to Rob’s hip as the drunk tried to scramble to his feet. The butcher waggled his finger knowingly.

“But when that lad steals my nice new sign and you were napping right outside, it was all ‘no Mister Grimes I didn’t see anything!’” Landon reached down, grabbing Rob by the collar of his coat, and pulling the scrambling man to his feet.

The butcher opened his mouth to speak again, but Rob’s arm came up, and the turps bottle cracked into Landon’s skull with a thud. The butcher screeched in pain and Rob slithered from his clutches, finding his footing fast and darting across the storeroom floor. Landon’s pained cry followed him.

“Ayres! Get the little snake, he’s runnin’!”

Ayres stumbled to get out from behind his desk, and went to intercept Rob as he sprinted for the door. Rob bowled him over, and the squirrelly drunk slipped out of grasping hands once more, barreling through the storefront doors into the chill air beyond. Right into the tin-starred chest of Danny London.

“Dep’ty, Danny, they tryin’ to kill me Danny, they took me up the back of the store and they was gonna kill me back there!” Rob spluttered, blood from his broken nose drizzling down his chin. Danny reached out to grip Rob with a meaty hand, and nodded slowly.

“Calm down Wilby, nothing to get upset about now,” Danny gave a reassuring smile, and as Rob turned to look back over his shoulder, Danny pulled off his black stetson.

As Rob turned back around, Danny’s forehead met his face with a crack, and the drunk collapsed into the deputy’s arms like a bundle of horse tack.

Ayres was rubbing a sprained ankle and Landon grumbling over a busted head as Danny stalked heavily into the store, Rob slung over his shoulder. He raised a finger in the air before him and glared at the other two.

“One! One miserable old drunk. You can’t do nothin’, neither of you. Get out of my darn way.” Danny dumped Rob’s unconscious form in the storeroom and gestured for Landon to bind him. Ayres was peering through his window, seeking any possible looky-loos.

“I don’t see no one Danny, looks like we’re clear,” he said. Danny gave Ayres a withering stare.

“Oh, we’re clear are we? You pick the one vagrant in town every-dang-body knows by name. The only one chap people gonna notice has gone missin’.”

Landon emerged from the back, bearing the bundle of robes, and calmly began handing them out.

“He was always talking about his daughter back east, maybe say we heard he was going to go find her?”

Danny gave a nonchalant shrug, tossing aside his hat to don his robe. “Well, it don’t matter now, do it? Too dang late by far. I’ll think of something.”

* * *

Rob came around to the feeling of rumbling, deep in the earth. His nose smarted something fierce, and he felt like he’d been hit by a train. What had he been drinking last night? He struggled to rise, but found his wrists tied painfully stretched behind his back. It returned to him in a rush, and he let out a cry of fear.

Around him stood three figures, towering robed bodies staring down at him from above. Their voices were raised in a rhythmic chant, heavy boots rhythmically stomping the wooden floors. Rob recognized the walls of Ayres’ Wardman Hardware, though draped curtains covered the windows and the massive rug from the floor now covered the front desk. Rob let out a wordless wail as a huge man with massive sinewed arms lifted him from the floor.

Through bleary eyes, Rob noticed the man’s ruddy skin criss-crossed with tattoos. One of the robed cultists methodically unlatched, bolt by bolt, the hatch in the floor. He then swung the hatch wide open as Rob struggled in the arms of the robed man like a captured cat.

The stomping of the robed men echoed through the room, filling Rob’s ears. As he was lifted up, his head lolled back to gaze down into the hatch.

In the void below the streets of Deadwood there was movement. Rob’s eyes failed to adjust, seeing only shapes in the darkness, great roiling coils that squirmed and struggled against one another. Rob’s mouth opened in a silent, gasping scream as he stared down into the pit.

The cultists’ chants grew louder, their stomps more frequent, the restless den of things that lurked below quivering and writhing to meet the frenzied energy as it rose to a crescendo.

Suddenly, there was silence. The chanting stopped, the boots came to a halt.

Rob had a moment to breathe before he was dropped, soundlessly, into the pit.

The trio of robed cultists stood for a moment in silence in the darkened store. Danny considered how absurd the three of them looked there in their purple robes. The sound of a door opening from the back interrupted his thought, followed by the heavy footsteps they’d been waiting for.

Danny stepped forward and superstitiously smoothed out the front of his robes. Automatically, he raised a hand to buff his badge, and found it concealed by the heavy robe.

A towering figure swept into the room, his robe’s hood pulled back from his bald pate. Eyes swept the three men, and then the room.  Not finding what he sought, he scanned the dimly lit room yet again, and then a third and final time.

“Where is the soul that Ursula demands? One soul? Is one wretched soul too much to ask for?”

Danny gave an apologetic shrug and pointed toward the floor opening.

“Sorry ‘bout that, Alonzo. The young ‘uns ain’t gonna feed themselves. Better they stay down there than come busting through Deadwood’s streets.”

Alonzo stared into the pit and saw a battered hat bobbing upon writhing coils of serpentine forms, but no trace of anything resembling corporeal human flesh.

Fists clenched in rage, the bald man’s guttural howl caused the other three to cower against the storeroom’s walls. “Ursula demands sacrifices. I will not return to Worm Canyon empty handed.”

Fred Ayres took a breath and gave a sly grin as he steepled his hands as he stepped towards Alonzo. “Two men working for Farnum have been regulars at my shop.  I overheard them saying something about heading out yonder towards the flats by Crooked Snake Creek to test some gizmo of theirs.  Judging by the supplies they were buying they’re likely to be out of town for a few days…  Y’know how unreliable those infernal devices can be.  We’ll make it look like an accident.”

Alonzo grunted his affirmation as he pondered this new information. “That does happen to be on the way to the Canyon. A pair of sacrificial offerings may indeed mollify our Queen.” The tall cultist pulled up his hood, his features disappearing almost entirely behind it, and the three men
did the same.