The year is 1870, the place is the American West. In the roaring boomtown of Dorado, the Sheriff keeps order among the rowdy cowboys, miners, and outlaws with a small group of hired gunslingers, mercenary men of the West, with checkered pasts; some have been robbers and outlaws in the past, or members of the rebel Confederacy; others are paladins of the frontier (though even the best men of the West can have blood on their hands). There is even a Chinaman.
The heroes are these men.
(To expand… How should the heroes be dispatched to Elihu’s home? How should the news come? Originally, I was going to have a companion of Elihu’s stumble into town, but I don’t know if that really fits my conception of the hermit…)
1. Shootout at Elihu Short’s house- The deputies (heroes) are sent to investigate the situation at Elihu Long’s home, south of town on Busted Flat. There they discover Elihu wounded, firing at 4 armed attackers from behind a small cart. As they arrive, Elihu kills one of the attackers. The other attackers take Elihu down and attack the deputies.
After the shootout, one of the assailants escapes south. With his dying breath, Elihu tells the deputies that the attackers were part of the Damnbroke Boys gang, and that they were after his secret cache. He tells the deputies that the Damnbroke Boys will go after the only other person who knows where the cache is, Bart Heller, who lives on Castle Peak, a three day’s ride to the south.
2. Showdown on Missouri Cliff- The deputies chase the escaped Damnbroke Boy southward, to Missouri Cliff, where there is a gunfight.
3. Ambush at Boulder Cut- The deputies head north out of Busted Flat and then down into Boulder Cut, leading into Petersen Canyon (the way south to Deadhorse Ferry and then Castle Peak). At the Canyon, a man dressed in gentleman’s clothing tells them that aid is urgently needed in the Cut. It is a trick; once the deputies are in the Cut, they are ambushed by several armed Damnbroke Boys. A gunfight ensues.
4. Deadhorse Ferry- the deputies head south through Petersen Canyon and arrive at the Deadhorse River. At the Deadhorse Ferry, the deputies encounter a crazed Mexican who jabbers wildly in Spanish before attacking them with his fists. When subdued or wounded, the Mexican babbles about Big Nose Luke, the leader of the Damnbroke Boys, and about a golden necklace.
5. Cochise and Indians- the deputies cross the river on the ferry, and head down across the prairie, where the buffalo roam. At the foothills below Castle Peak, they encounter a band of Indians who draw arms. Their chieftan, Cochise (“koh-chee-say”), approaches and explains that a group of white men (described as dressing in a manner not unlike the Damnbroke Boys) stole two of their women. Some braves may attack later in the night, disobeying Cochise’s instructions.
6. Bart Heller is dead at the desk in his cabin, with a hand clutched against a stomach wound. He has managed to scrawl out a message:
“Too lat for mee- dambrok boys got to the cash. bewar- the neckliss is cursd- git thoz dammed basterdz- sined, Bartholomew Remington Heller”
The message seems to indicate that some necklace in Long and Heller’s cache was cursed, and that the Damnbroke Boys have already gotten to the gold. The deputies must bring the Damnbroke Boys to justice!
7. The deputies ride north, across the grasslands, taking the Deadhorse Ferry, back up through Petersen Canyon and Boulder Cut, and eastward, into the meadows below the old Pembroke Mine. The abandoned Pembroke Mine is called Damnbroke Mine by the people of Dorado, because it struck empty too early. It is the home of the Damnbroke Boys.
8. Battle with the Damnbroke Boys in the ghost town below the mine entrance. The boys not only fight the deputies, but squabble amongst themselves; some are fleeing the town, and surrender. Some seem violently insane. A wounded Damnbroke Boy warns the deputies that Big Nose Luke went crazy and started killing gang members in the mine after putting on a “savage’s trinket” from the cache.
9. Showdown with the crazed Big Nose Luke, covered in blood and wearing an ancient, cursed Aztec necklace, in the Pembroke Mine.
(Now I’ve got to pretty it up)