A Walk in the Woods: Episode 11

Nick is in what passes for a saloon in the tiny town of Beaver Creek. He has purchased a few critical supplies, and is now having a beer and getting the news before heading back. He doesn't dare act out of character for the simple traveler he's pretending to be, after all.

Badass clip-clops wearily into town, limping a little. He's looking forward to getting back into his nice warm stable, and glad to be rid of the pest who seems to think he owns him.

Thumbs hears a horse approaching and goes to his front room, the general store, leaving the few drinkers in the back room, the saloon. Wouldn't want to miss a sale.

Thumbs scrapes some frost from the window and peers out.

Badass clops past the store without slowing down.

Thumbs: Hey, guys! Jardyce's horse just come by without him.

Thumbs goes back to his bar.

Thumbs: Wasn't he going out on his trapline for a few days?

Sockem: That's what I'd heard.

Nick takes a considering sip.

Sockem spits on the floor.

Nick: Does anybody know which direction this fellow was going?

Nick hopes the guy didn't run into Kat and Pinecone.

Thumbs thinks that's a strange question from a stranger.

Sockem: East, I think.

Thumbs: East up around and down to Cedar Creek, I think. Then back around south, more or less. Left this morning. Couldn't have gotten far.

Nick: Ah. I came from that way. The footing was pretty slippery, for a horse. I almost twisted an ankle several times.

Sockem: Guy's usually pretty good at lookin' out for himself.

Sockem doesn't want to have to leave a nice warm bar to join a search party.

Thumbs: I suppose he'll be back on foot, soon enough.

Nick: Probably.

Nick doesn't want a search party going that direction, for a different reason.

Thumbs: Ornery damn horse he's got, but don't think it's ever thrown him.

Thumbs scratches his dirty beard.

Thumbs: Not like to him to let the horse get away from him. He knows what a bad actor it is.

Badass limps into the stable, oblivious to the slurs on his character that are being spoken just a few dozen paces away. He has, in fact, thrown Jardyce more than once. And lived.

Gorten: Probably a Sime got Jardyce. He always said one would, eventually. Sime was probably so set on killing him it didn't go after the horse.

Nick: Do you have a lot of Simes in the hills, here?

Gorten spits.

Gorten: One is too many.

Buckets rushes into the bar, wafting a reek of stable.

Buckets: Hey guys, guess what?

Thumbs: Jardyce's horse come back without him.

Buckets: Yeah... How'd you know?

Thumbs spits into the sawdust too.

Thumbs: Saw the friggin thing go by.

Buckets: Did you see he was limpin'?

Thumbs shrugs.

Thumbs: What, you care more about that horse than what's happened to Jardyce?

Buckets: I'm thinkin' if a guy like Jardyce can't catch a limpin' horse, he must be in real bad shape.

Gorten: Sime got him, I bet.

Nick: Is there a Sime around in the hills?

Gorten: If he's got Jardyce, he won't go after you.

Buckets: If a Sime got him, why's the horse limpin'?

Nick: The trail's slippery. It probably fell.

Buckets: Maybe Jardyce's hurt out there.

Buckets chews thoughtfully on his lower lip.

Nick: If it is a Sime, there could be more than one.

Buckets: Maybe we oughter go look. Take shotguns.

Nick rubs his by-now-scraggly beard, which conceals his face quite nicely, even if it does look like he trimmed it with a knife.

Nick: Might be better to send a scout. Could be the fellow just fell off his horse.

Buckets: Shotguns and bandages. Be per-pared.

Thumbs: You volunteering, stranger?

Nick: Well, now, I admit I've faced a Sime or two in my time. Rough weather, too.

Nick sips his beer thoughtfully, and is glad that his clothing is showing signs of severe wear.

Nick: I might be willing to go scout out the situation. If it was worth my while, of course.

Gorten: Better him than us, eh?

Gorten nudges Sockem, who's nearly passed out, despite the excitement.

Buckets: Dunno. One of us oughter go too. Jardyce is one of ours.

Sockem blinks.

Sockem: Huh?

Nick: You ever been attacked by a Sime... and lived, Mister?

Gorten: Stranger here says he's faced Simes and lived.

Sockem closes his eyes and puts his head back down on the table.

Buckets: Shot me own kid sister. Does that count?

Buckets scowls at Nick.

Nick: That's tough, all right. Were her tentacles broken out at the time, or did you find her early?

Buckets wonders what difference that makes. A sister is still a sister.

Buckets: I was sure she was Sime, if that's what yer askin'.

Nick: It's hard, to shoot your own kin. But it's hard in a different way to face a Sime who's coming at you faster than a galloping horse, intent on killing you.

Thumbs snorts. Stranger is trying to impress them with his bullshit.

Thumbs: Then you shoot him before he gets close, if you're not too poor to own a gun.

Thumbs noticed that Nick seems to be in the "too poor" category, judging by the absence of firearms.

Nick shrugs, and points to his pack.

Nick: I don't carry a gun. They're expensive.

Thumbs nods.

Nick has, in fact, a bank account in-Territory that would probably buy most of the town, truth be told, although he can't access it on this side of the border.

Buckets: I ain't scared. I got a gun.

Nick: But I've got ways to handle problem Simes. Made a bit of money doing it, here and there.

Gorten: We don't hold with magic around here, stranger.

Nick: No magic. Just a bit of skill that I've picked up, here and there.

Gorten privately thinks Nick is trying to get money from them to look for Jardyce, but has no intention of doing so.

Nick: Simes have their habits and weaknesses, just like deer and rabbits.

Gorten: Next time you hear of a deer or rabbit killing a full grown man, you tell us.

Buckets: What if it ain't a Sime? What if Jardyce's just busted a leg? I done some horse doctorin'. I could patch him up to get back to town.

Thumbs: Well, Buckets, you go on ahead, and take the stranger with you. You find Jardyce alive, he can reward you.

Nick: This Jardyce guy's a trapper, right? With his own horse and all?

Gorten: But watch yourself, Buckets. Remember you can't outrun a Sime, but all you have to do is outrun this stranger.

Gorten laughs at his own joke.

Buckets eyes Nick dubiously.

Buckets: Could outrun him if'n I was the one with the busted leg.

Nick does his best imitation of a downtrodden drifter who's used to being belittled by the locals.

Buckets thinks Nick looks like the kind of guy who'd take Jardyce's stuff and leave him lying there to rot.

Nick is being done a great injustice by Buckets: he would leave an injured Jardyce's belongings to rot, and drag their owner off to relieve Kat's entran, given a choice.

Thumbs: Buckets, you give this guy Jardyce's horse to go search for him and you'll never see either of them again. And if Jardyce comes back he'll beat the shit out of you for it.

Buckets: Badass's limping. Can't take him out again anyway.

Nick: I go better on foot, anyway.

Nick has learned to ride, sort of, but could never come close to equaling his father/grandfather in the saddle.

Buckets: I'll bring two horses anyway. Might need one to bring Jardyce back on.

Buckets is just as glad this stranger won't be riding one of his good beasts.

Nick nods.

Nick: It beats trying to carry him down that trail in a stretcher.

Buckets: Gimme half a minute to get 'em saddled up and we can be off.

Nick: Good enough. I'll meet you out front.

Nick is relieved that there will be only one armed and hostile Gen heading towards his channel.

Buckets: Thumbs, if'n I'm not back by sunset, will you send one o' the boys over to feed an' water the lot?

Thumbs: Yeah, sure.

Nick is confident that between them, he, Kat, and Pinecone can handle Buckets.

Buckets: Thanks.

Buckets hurries out of the bar.

Nick finishes his beer, even though it's only passable, to stay in character.

Nick: Say, does your town offer a bounty for Simes?

Thumbs: You take the tentacles down the valley to the government office if you want to collect.

Thumbs wonders what kind of Sime hunter this guy thinks he is.

Nick: I see.

Buckets stops by his room to get his rifle. He's named it Treesa, after his sister. Then he goes down to the stable to saddle two horses and grab his kit.

Nick sets down his beer mug.

Buckets sticks his head into the bar.

Nick: Well, I just might have to take that trip down the valley.

Nick turns to the door.

Nick: Are you ready?

Buckets: Let's go.

Nick picks up his pack and follows Buckets out to the street.

Thumbs: Well, I hope Buckets doesn't let that stranger get him killed.

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