With Cecelia taking a few moments to tend to the wounded, the journey on foot to Brookstown was far less harrowing than it would have otherwise been. Though they didn’t arrive until sundown, the group made it in one piece and at the behest of the remaining rail workers, their first stop was the local railhouse. There they met the lovely rail worker Jill Stevens, who was more than slightly perplexed at a group of refugees showing up at her doorstep. Once the situation was explained, Jill telegraphed the head rail office to inform them of the situation, then used the railway’s account to secure lodgings for everyone at the local inn. The inn itself was a large, boisterous place, spacious beyond its needs. As they only lively spot they’d seen in town, even the liveliness of the bar and inn seemed strangely muted, as people more or less kept to themselves and individual conversations were murmured at best.
Ferdinand Alvarez, immigrant of Mexican descent and the local innkeeper and barkeep, seemed especially anxious. After some gentle prodding from the group (and one nervous breakdown from The Kid over the state of the glasses atop the bar), he agreed to meet with them and share the source of his troubles. It was then that the budding group caught the eye of one particular local. The four of them, unused to a group dynamic having worked alone for so long, were as obvious as an elephant rampaging down main street as the four simultaneously rose from their table and filed into the establishment’s kitchen. It was hard for one Richard Jackson, or really for anyone with a pulse, to miss it. Jackson, former Sheriff of the area and one old and ugly sonofabitch, was plagued by his own worries but intrigued by this particular group’s apparent inability to leave well enough alone.
In the kitchen, Mr. Alvarez informed the group of a most peculiar and terrifying situation. For the last year and a half, roughly once every four weeks, someone would wind up dead somewhere across town. The bodies found were mangled and mauled, and official word blamed a nearby pack of wild dogs, saying they were coming into town and tearing people apart when prey became scarce and hunger reigned. Through killings and fear, the town emptied out and fell into the state that they had found it. He urged the four to stay inside, keep their heads down, and spread the word to the other travelers to do the same. As the four exited the kitchen, a brief tense exchange followed with Richard who had moved closer to the kitchen to better listen to the proceedings within.
From there the group split up to case out the town. Warrick and Keith went one way, while Gabrielle and Cecelia went another. The two ladies eventually found their way to the local general store, run by one Douglass Johnson. The depressed Johnson began talking with minimal pressing, having already resigned himself to a grizzly fate. The store owner explained that the trouble all started when Mayor Jack Brooks was lost on a hunting expedition, then returned inexplicably several months later, claiming the deputy mayor tried to have him killed. Things were peaceful for a time after the upheaval, but then the killings began. Though they seemed to be at random, Johnson and Richard had deduced that those being found dead were more often than not prominent townsfolk who had publicly and vocally questioned the return of Mayor Brooks. With the next suspected attack date looming, there were only three people left who fit the victim profile: Frank Smith, a local farmer, Mr Johnson, and Richard. Richard, having entered the store to buy ammo mid conversation, confirmed as much to the ladies. It was then that he agreed to meet up with the rest of the group over lunch, as they seemed determined to get to the bottom of the mysterious deaths.
As lunchtime rolled around and the foursome turned fivesome sat down for a delicious meal at the local inn, they were approached by the Mayor’s own Peacekeepers. The Peacekeepers were a group assembled after the death of the last local Sheriff when Mayor Brooks declared martial law. While in name they were a task force dedicated to the eradication of the wild dogs plaguing Brookstown, in actuality they behaved like thugs and ruffians, often extorting the locals and running roughshod over the few people that did remain in the town. Having been made aware of the group’s snooping, they demanded a substantial bribe to make them ‘forget’ they had seen anything. The five adamantly refused, and moments later an intense firefight broke out in the bar. Despite their superior numbers, close quarter fighting vastly favored the group – a fact that Gabrielle proved by caving in a man’s skull with a single punch. The Peacekeepers were quickly dispatched – except for one, who managed to flee from the scene.
The Brookstown Nightmare had officially begun.