Darkness took over as they passed the gallows on the west end of Perdition, a sand-weathered, two-street town clustered just beyond the last of the foothills and before the Great Dry Plains. The streets were mostly deserted, but lanterns remained on in a few buildings. Bart noticed there was still someone in the Assayers and Land office, and he rushed in to sell off his gold. The large, well-dressed man inside wasn’t thrilled to hear where the gold came from (“haunted,” he called it), but liked the look and weight of the raw nuggets enough to give Bart $200 for it.
Outside, Tommy looked for the Barber’s shop, where his uncle performs haircuts and the occasional doctorin’. Po-Po silently wandered down the street and disappeared into The One-Eyed Saloon. Jack and Bulwark prepared to escort their prisoner, still tied tightly on his horse, to the Sheriff’s office. They spoke with him briefly, tho’ Two Crows talked as if he was barely familiar with the English language. They asked if he was prepared to face the Law, and he nodded slowly, saying, “It is my mission to find the Alpha. If he is the Alpha here, I must meet him.”
Meanwhile, Tommy had progressed pretty far down the street, and they could barely see him in the darkness. They called out to make sure he’d found his destination. He answered he had, and that he’d seek them out tomorrow. Suddenly, Jack and Bulwork heard a thud and a heavy scurrying sound behind them. When they turned quickly, Two Crows was nowhere to be seen, and the ropes that had bound him lay unraveled in the dirt.
They cursed and leapt down from their horses, tying them up at a roadside post. They filled Bart in on the news when he returned from the Assayer’s. Bulwork grabbed his lantern, and they headed towards Two Crows’ most likely path of escape: the alley between the Assayer’s Office and the Bank. As they entered the shadowy passage, a strange, unidentifiable howl was heard from the foothills outside town.
Meanwhile, Po-Po was ordering the second of many planned beers from the rough-looking orcish bartender within the One-Eyed Saloon. It was a dark place with a generally subdued clientele: two hill-folk nursing their mugs, a trio of card players taunting each other. Someone was clumsily playing a honky-tonk folk song from the back of the room. The occupants had fallen silent upon Po-Po’s entrance, but now merely kept an eye on the strange oriental shaman aggressively downing beers at the bar. One of the gamblers called to him to try and pull him into the game, but he didn’t turn around. He didn’t know the language.
Jack, Bart, and Bulwork found no promising tracks in the lantern-lit dirt of the alley, but they continued behind the building. There, they found where an enormous hole had been blown through the back wall of the bank. Jack recalled Chet boasting that the Killers of Canyon Creek had successfully robbed the Perdition Bank a couple months back. This got them all to thinkin’: maybe if they got a hold of Two Crows again, they’d spare him the law’s judgment, and instead use him to track down the Killers and get the bank heist loot for themselves.
They again surveyed the ground to try to figure out which way Two Crows had run. There were horse tracks and all-mixed-up human tracks with no obvious trail to follow. Then, Bulwork found a fresh set of animal tracks he recognized as those of a wolf, heading around the building towards the street. All at once, the specific peculiarities of Two Crows’ behavior, his impossible escape, and now seeing these fresh wolf tracks, planted an idea in Bulwork’s mind. He didn’t want to believe it, but he couldn’t shake it, neither. He was convinced they were dealing with a shape-shifter.