Carrying on from where we left off…
Despite the swarming of stinging insects in the room, John blasts the bee-vomiting Henrietta in the stomach. She stops hurling up bees, screams, and rolls off the bed.
Out in the street, Magnus, the girl’s parents, and the town elder all hear the gun shots. Magnus leaps down off the wagon and runs to help his brother. Because, you know, he’s got a derringer. Ooo, look out!
Henrietta springs up off the floor, and she’s… changed… in the last few seconds. Her eyes have gone compound, like an insect’s, and there’s weird bristles on her arms. In my 6S&S settings, I wanted witches to be more than just “naughty people with magical powers”. Hence, witches in the setting are more like mutants from the Marvel universe, specifically the Grant Morrison New X-Men run, when not all the mutants looked like Famke Janssen.
So yeah, witches are basically baby eldritch abominations, and no, I’ve never heard of Puella Magi Madoka Magica (bless you!), why do you ask?
She shrieks at them, and spits a gob of acid at John’s face, though thankfully he manages to dodge it. In response, Jeb blasts her with his holy weaponed six-shooter, blasting straight through her innate damage resistances to mortal weapons and leaving her on low health. The bees still keep swarming them though, and it’s starting to look bad.
By now, Magnus has run into the house. He sees the room full of bees and puts a shot through the window. John follows up by smashing out the glass, meaning that the bees have somewhere to go. Sure enough, the swarm starts filtering out of the window. Henrietta, seeing that Jeb has got a weapon that can definitely hurt her, takes her chances by leaping out of the window. As the watch, she dissolves into a swarm of bees herself, and drifts off. As she leaves, all the bees in the room fall to the floor, dead.
“Figger we should be askin’ her folks a few questions.”
The three of them confront Henrietta’s parents, and ask them all sorts of questions; how long was she ill, did anything out of the ordinary happen before she was sick, that sort of thing. The parents are in shock, and have no answers.
Magnus, sensing an opportunity to make some money, sidles up to the town elder.
Magnus and the town elder haggle back and forth, and it’s decided that they’ll each be paid $50 for killing the witch. There’s no sense capturing her, or trying to save her; when a person becomes a witch, they’re no longer themselves. There’s no cure, except for a high velocity metal injection between the eyes.
The parents come forward, and suggest a place where they may find Henrietta; a field of wild flowers about an hour’s walk from the town. People don’t usually go there even though it’s very pretty, but Henrietta usually went there and spent hours picking flowers. It’s not much, but it’s a start; it makes sense that she’d probably go somewhere familiar to recover from her injuries, plus she has that whole bee theme going any way. And yes, there was a near-endless parade of bee-related puns from Joe, Trev and Darryl.
The Dwytes leave their wagon as collateral. To ensure that the job’s done properly, the town sheriff orders his deputy/son Wyatt to go with the group. Wyatt is your stereotypical dumb, fat, “aww shucks Pa!” kind of character, but who knows, he may prove useful.
Henrietta’s parents are locked up while the town elder decides what to do with them (hint: it may involve a noose). They may have been ignorant of their daughter’s condition, but they were still sheltering a witch and in law-abiding places in the Territories, that’s a big no-no.
After taking a quick rest to heal up from the stings they received, the group borrow some horses and ride out. Eventually they find the field, which is full of red and white flowers. There’s also a wood cabin at the centre.
Oh, that cabin? It’s just where some crazy old lady lives, but that’s not relevant, is it?
The group surrounds the cabin; the Dwytes go round the back and Jeb and Wyatt take the front. As they advance, guns ready, a screechy woman’s voice comes from inside the cabin;
“Well well, look at you fine gen’lmen! I must say, you flatter an old girl with your visitations, but I must insist you vacate my property before I become a-vexed with you!”
“We’re here for the girl, ma’am. She’s a witch.”
“And there ain’t nothing wrong with that! You move along now, you hear, and leave her and me be.”
While this exchange has been happening, Magnus has snuck up to one of the windows at the back and peered into the cabin. It’s just one big room, cluttered with junk. At the centre of the room, hunched over, is Henrietta. She’s changed a bit more, and become even more of a strange human-insect hybrid.
An old lady appears at the window then, jump-scaring Magnus.
“Hell with this.”
John takes a shot at the old lady through the window, but a wall of vines grows up from the ground and blocks the window, deflecting the bullet. So we have two witches here, one with bees and one who can control plants. Great.
Swarms of bees smash through the windows and start circling the cabin. I know that the Monster Manual treats swarms of insects like normal monsters, but I ran them differently. In the MM, swarms have attack rolls and can be damaged by weapons, like normal creatures, which just seems… wrong. If you’re in the same space as a swarm of bees, you’re getting stung. If you shoot a gun at a swarm of bees, guess what, nothing happens. The bees were essentially roaming 5-foot cubes of GTFO. The group would have to take down the queen bee.
Magnus dodges the bees but is just in time to get body-slammed by Henrietta as she leaps out of the window at him, grappling him and knocking him down. Then she spits a load of acid on his face. Lovely. John rushes to the aid of his brother, narrowly avoiding some thorny vines that whip out of the ground and try to ensnare him.
Jeb and Wyatt burst in the cabin, guns blazing. Jeb misses his shot at the old lady, but Wyatt hits her, which she’s not happy about.
Magnus manages to break free of the grapple and rolls away in time for John to boot the younger witch in the ribs and shoot her at point blank range. She’s hurting, but still going; her thick insect-like exoskeleton absorbs most of the damage. She gets to her feet, and the bees start swarming round…
Inside the cabin, the old lady shrieks with rage and slashes Jeb with her razor-sharp nails. Jeb goes for a point-blank shot but misses. Bet he wished he’d saved his holy weapon ability for this fight. Wyatt takes another crack at her, and hits her again. Boy’s getting pretty damn good at this. It’s even funnier because we all decided that Wyatt would have disadvantage on his attack rolls to represent how incompetent he was.
The bees descend on the Dwyte brothers, but the two of them get clear before they’re stung to death. John finishes off Henrietta with two shots from his sixshooters, knocking her down into the flowers. Like before, all the bees instantly die and fall to the floor. That’s one down.
Back inside, the old lady screams as she feels the death of Henrietta. She commands the vines that were blocking the cabin window to fly inside and form a barrier between her, Jeb and Wyatt. The vines rush in, but unfortunately Wyatt’s to slow to dodge them, and he gets crushed and impaled against the far wall. Jeb takes a shot, but the vine-barrier blocks the shot. The old lady then whips the vines round like a wrecking ball, smashing down the rear wall of her cabin in a bid to hit all three of them; Jeb’s hit and knocked down, but the Dwytes manage to dodge it.
Magnus and John both manage to hit the old lady with a few more shots, but it’s Jeb who delivers the final shot from prone. Even better, it’s a critical, which is always nice for overkill.
The old witch dies with a earsplitting scream. Just as with Henrietta and the bees, the old lady’s death has it’s own consequences; all the flowers in the field instantly wither and die. Guess it’s not going to be much of a picnic spot now.
The group take a scrap of Henrietta’s dress as proof of her death, and recover Wyatt’s corpse. He was only with them for a while, but they got attached to the guy, and he contributed more than any of us were expecting. Upon return to the town, the group collect their reward and deliver Wyatt’s body; they actually lie and say that Wyatt was the one who killed both witches, ensuring that the townsfolk will honour his memory.
With nothing left to do in Rusty Creek, Jeb and the Dwytes mount up and hit the trail for Saint Pelor.
“Their lives for you two, fair’s fair. Besides, she weren’t no girl.”
Damn Jeb, that’s cold.
So the three of them ride off into the sunset, off to start a grand adventure? What does Jeb need them for? We’ll find out next time. Unfortunately we’ll have a short hiatus due to summer holidays and whatnot, but rest assured we’ll be returning to the Territories to catch up with Father Jeb and the Dwyte brothers soon. The next session will be a bit more grounded in reality, and more “traditional” Wild West; some poker, a saloon brawl, a showdown… all that good stuff.
Level Up! More HP! Everyone’s proficiency bonus goes up to +2! John gets Ignore Pain (a 1/day healing ability), Magnus gets Lucky (a 1/day re-roll for an attack, skill check or saving throw), and Jeb gets Small Miracle (a 1/day manifestation of divine power, such as reading someone’s mind, moving an object, or creating water).
Ongoing Quests: Get to Saint Pelor.
Darryl hasn’t expressed his usual penchant for collecting grisly trophies (I was so certain he’d want to scalp people), so in lieu of that, I’m going to keep an account of everything these three have directly killed. I wonder if we’ll break triple digits by campaign’s end?
The Reaper’s Tally: 2 witches.
’til next time, partner.