Take Me To The River - part 2

Shady political business in River Junction

As the marshals attempt to buy riverboat tickets to Eureka Canyon to continue their journey, they hear the town crier extolling the virtues of River Junction‘s new mayor, Samuel Allison, as well as all his “noble” proclamations since he took office. Eventually reaching the head of the ticket line, the marshals are told they will not be permitted to buy tickets to the Eureka Canyon ferry as they do not possess validated travel papers – another one of the new mayor’s recent proclamations. They will need to have travel papers issued by the Trade Guild if they wish to purchase ferry tickets.

The marshals proceed to the local Trade Guild office to get the required signed papers, and discover a number of extremely long lines of agitated people – individual travellers, commercial cargo operators, business owners – zig-zagging across the guild plaza. Walls, columns, sign posts, and almost all conceivable other surfaces are plastered with posters touting the new mayor. Upon questioning, one of the people waiting in line explains to the marshals that the Trade Guild – easily the most powerful and influential entity in the major transport center of River Junction – all but put the mayor directly into power; technically there was an election, but there was never any doubt in anyone’s mind that the Trade Guild’s favoured candidate would ultimately win the position of mayor.

The marshals at last reach the front of their designated line, and state that they require travel papers so they can purchase tickets for the ferry. Since they are transporting no commercial goods, the process is straightforward; they are informed their papers can be issued in three days, or expedited for one-day processing with an additional fee. The marshals are not fond of either of the options presented to them, and briefly discuss alternatives. It occurs to Eliza that they could likely just wait for the ferry to arrive, and pay the ferry captain directly for passage (as long as the captain can be convinced to defy the local laws and risk the good will of the Trade Guild). Opting for this path, the marshals have little to do but wait for the arrival of the Eureka Canyon ferry. Nelli passes the rest of the day picking up the word on the street, which amounts to little except that the populace are generally displeased with the new political regime. Nelli is provided with accommodation in the local Guide Guild (situated across the street from the Trade Guild), and the rest of the marshals book into a hotel near the stage coach station.

That night, Nelli wakes up to the sound of some commotion in the street between the Guide and Trade Guilds. Through her window she can see a number of burly people with torches making their way up the street heading north. She decides to follow them discretely and see what their business is. She successfully follows them up the road to the old retired riverboat dock which now is home to the permanently-moored Calico Queen – a riverboat that functions as River Junction’s primary upscale house of ill-repute. As the goons abruptly halt and turn in front of the boat, Nelli is spotted. Though not the sharpest tacks in the box, they nonetheless do not buy Nelli’s hasty mumblings about becoming lost on the way to her hotel; she is forced to bound off into the night, acrobatically distancing herself from her pursuers.

The goings-on at the Calico Queen seem shady, and Nelli decides to make her way to the hotel and rouse her companions. They return to the bordello, with Eliza covertly on point. They find the majestic boat ablaze, with the minor goons scurrying around it and igniting further flames. The sounds of muffled screams are emanating from the boat, and pounding can be heard on the clearly locked and bolted doors. All the while the lead goon is loudly declaring to a growing, astonished crowd that, by order of the mayor, the Calico Queen is to be burned to cinders along with its occupants “for the good of the community”. Members of the crowd – mostly the pitiful inhabitants of the nearby decrepit warehouses that now serve serve as their homes – nervously protest not only the burning of the Queen and its passengers, but plead for the goons to put out the fires before they spread to the surrounding buildings causing further destruction and loss of life. Remorselessly, the lead goon loudly repeats that their actions are for the public good and are by order of Mayor Samuel Allison.

McTeef at this point has heard enough. Bellowing, he charges the mayor’s henchmen and succeeds in intimidating two of them into fleeing. Nelli and Eliza take advantage of the ruckus to take a stealthy approach to the Queen. As McTeef unleashes his spittle-ridden fury on the head goon, Timothy manages to summon a wind blast that topples one of the fire-starters before taking a vicious punch to the jaw. Nelli frantically searches for a bucket, finds one, and rushes to fill it with water; Eliza notices a fire extinguisher by the Calico Queen’s front door and leaps through the flames towards it, suffering only minor singeing. The Doktor-Marshul abandons words in favour of blows, but sadly misses his swing at the lead goon and puts himself off balance. Timothy has his back though, and gut-shots the fiend. As all this goes on, the one henchman who is continuing to light fires somehow manages to light himself on fire, and a panicked resident of the nearby buildings runs, screaming, into the night.

Suddenly, in the middle of this frantic and dire mayhem, a man bursts from the crowd and sprints towards Timothy and McTeef, shouting at the top of this lungs: “Help! You’ve got to help! There’s a marshal trapped in the boat! You have to get her out!”


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