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Mature Content: No With: Mike Wentworth, Sam Wentworth, Lost Lake Ranch Hands NPCs Location: Lost Lake Ranch Bunkhouse When: Wednesday 15 September 1875 Time of Day: Afternoon "Not bad. Not bad at all." "Looks like everything is well kept and maintained," Mike said as he inspected the bunks. "You should be okay." "I should," Sam replied, "but it will depend on who I am sharing this with. You're lucky to have a place on your own." "One of the perks of being a foreman. Maybe if I end up getting married and moving to the foreman's house, you can have my room." He paused for a moment, "That is if I think you'll be good enough for it." Sam smiled, "Oh, I'll be good enough for it. I aim to be the top hand around here one day." "That'll depend on how good the other hands are. From what Shade told us and from what I can gather about the man himself, they will be nothing but the best." "Yeah I figured that too but I think the challenge will be worth it." Sam thudded a mattress in an effort to test how comfortable it was. Satisfied that it was, he went over to his brother, "Besides I got to have something to aim for, don't I?" "You do," Mike answered. Walking over towards the kitchen, he thought about what was ahead of him. Most of the hands were away on drives and Shade didn't know how many of them would be returning. Mike knew he would be overseeing a group of about sixteen, judging by the number of bunks. There was room for more if needed but he would determine that later on. The first thing he had to do was to take the measure of the four men who were here at the ranch. They would be back soon and that's when the real work would start. The job of foreman was something he was very experienced at but if he didn't have the respect of those who worked under him, then it wouldn't matter how good he was at his job. After inspecting the kitchen and eating area, Mike looked over to Sam, who was busy deciding which of the unused bunks he liked the look of. "I'm going to head over to my quarters now and get settled in. The others should be here soon." Sam acknowledged Mike with a nod and continued checking the bunks. Mike smiled and walked over to the door that lead to his new home. (To Be Continued)
Mature Content: No With: Clara Redmond, Cody and Nettie Thornton Location: Lost Lake, water's edge (starts at the ranch house) When: Early September 1875 (same day as The New Guys thread) Time of Day: Afternoon After the Wentworth brothers took their leave, Shade made his way back to the terrace where Clara was with the twins. He walked over and leaned against the terrace railing, looking out over his home's spectacular landscape. It was a legacy worth protecting for the sake of his niece and nephew. Chance had made sure that legacy also included him. Movement down near the lake's edge caught his attention, and he watched as a huge beaver took to the water. Turning, he said to Clara, "Feel like a hike down to the lake's edge? It might be good for us all to stretch our legs a bit." @Wayfarer
Mature Content: No With: Mike Wentworth, Wentworth Brothers Location: Blackbird Lodge, front terrace When: Early September 1875 Time of Day: Mid-to-Late Morning According to some folks, Blackbird Lodge had been built backward. The courtyard and main entrance were on the side of the house that the family considered its rear. Isadora Thornton had wanted it that way, so the coming and going of horses in the courtyard would not distract from the vista of the vast crater lake and the mountains. Ranch hands and others that had had business with John Caleb Thornton could come and go without disturbing her. Isadora's husband had, at first, objected to the building site she had chosen for that very reason. She had overridden his objections by pointing out that it also meant only one main entrance to defend should the need arise. No one would be able to enter the house from the side of the house that overlooked the lake. It made perfect sense to her and, after thinking it over for a while, John Caleb had agreed with her. Shade had grown up with stories of how Blackbird Lodge came to be where it was. The house was built on a flat expanse of bedrock that jutted out from one of the lower peaks of the Chogun Mountain Range. Although technically not a basin, it had been named Moonlight Basin due to the slight concavity of the outcropping. The area was surrounded by creeks and waterfalls, all making their way down the mountain to the Chogun River or into Lost Lake, which lay far below the house's front terrace. The house had been built out of local river stone, massive redwoods hauled in from the west coast, and local oak and aspen. Shade's father had spared no expense, including having massive windows built into the front of the house so that one always had a view of the mountains, forests, and lake. The lodge was as beautiful as his mother had been and as rugged as his father. It reflected his parents' personalities perfectly. The morning had been well advanced when Shade made his way down from the office and study attached to the master bedroom. He had honestly wanted to continue living in the downstairs room that had been his when he was a kid, but Laura Hale had put her foot down. While she and her husband, Ezra, lived in the lodge, it had made sense for them to live in the upstairs master suite. Ezra often worked on the ranch's ledgers late into the night. It was easier for him to do that in the office and study that was attached to the main bedroom. It had also kept Laura near the children's room. Laura had insisted that Shade needed to take over the master suite so that he would be on the same floor as the five-year-old twins. It made sense. It had also seemed to bring home the fact that the Hales were retiring and moving away and that everything was changing. Mary Miller, the ranch's housekeeper and cook, greeted him with a bit of a frown. Her sharp eyes noted that he was leaning heavier on the cane than he had been. The repeated trips up and down the stairs required to move his belongings had left the injured leg sore. "You go sit out on the terrace, Mr. Shade. It's a beautiful day. I'll bring coffee and sandwiches." She did not scold him for coming down late since she had brought his breakfast up to his office just after dawn. "When do you think Mr. Quentin and Miss Harriet will get back?" "Not for a few days yet, Mary. I figure it'll take them longer to move twenty-five head to the south end of Lake Flathead than it'll take Sage to move the hundred and fifty all the way to Missoula," Shade replied with a chuckle. Taking Mary's advice, Shade exited the house and settled in one of the chairs on the terrace. Leaning forward, he dragged one of the smaller chairs over so that he could prop his leg up. A few minutes later, Mary came out with a tray of sandwiches and a pot of coffee. Shade poured himself a cup of coffee and picked up a sandwich. @JulieS
With: Various characters. Location: Blackbird Lodge, Lost Lake Ranch When: Late August 1875 Time of Day: Afternoon - Evening The late August day was hot and very humid. At this time of year, the temperatures generally stayed in the mid-eighties, dropping as low as the mid-forties at night. Most days were bearable because the humidity stayed low. Today was the exception. The day was hot, and the humidity left everything and everyone feeling wilted. Clouds were building over the Chogun mountains, promising rain and maybe a storm before the day was out. Hopefully, the rain would dispel the stagnant feel to the weather that had prevailed for the last week. Ezra Hale reined his horse to a stop and pulled off his bandana to mop his face. In the distance, he spotted his two outriders. The three men had been looking for strays most of the day. Something had frightened the herd and scattered it to the four winds. He suspected it was that huge Grizzly that had given chase to Shade, Clara Redmond, and the twins a few days earlier. There had been reports of other attacks too. In fact, Clara had told them when she came to work a couple of days ago that something had spooked the livestock at the Redmond's farm. Aurelian had shot at something huge, and it had disappeared into the night. Ezra actually hoped it was Old Satan because he did not want to consider that a second bear might be raiding ranches and farms. There was also the reported attack on Addy Chappel and her freight wagon a few nights ago. That was another reason that Shade Thornton had decreed no one ride alone. A town meeting had been held with several ranches agreeing to put up a bounty for the animal. However, almost all of them also said they did not want random hunters swarming their property endangering life and livestock. Now, the Cattlemen's Association of Kalispell had to agree on how the hunt would be conducted and who could claim the proposed bounty. By the time it was all settled, the bear would likely be in its den for the winter. The bandana had not done the job. Ezra freed his canteen, unscrewed the cap, and poured water over it, soaking it thoroughly. Again he mopped his brow and face. This time, he felt some relief from the heat. He wet it again before tying it back around his neck. As he shifted in the saddle, his leg hit the scabbard that held the new, larger caliber carbine that the ranch had bought. Not only had Shade and Quentin insist that the men ride in twos and threes, but they had also mandated they carry the heavier weapons. When one rider came off-duty for the day, he handed the rifle to the man that was about to ride out. Ezra raised his hand and waved at his team, then pointed toward the ridge nearest him. It was next on the grid to be searched. Both riders turned their horses in his direction. Ezra decided not to wait. He really did not want to be in the lower meadow come nightfall. The trail he had chosen was a wide path worn into the ground by thousands of hooves as the ranch's herds of cattle and horses made their way over the ride and through the treeline to the vast lake which gave the ranch its name. As he neared a large rock outcrop, his horse jibbed at the bit and balked. At the same time, a foul odor reached his nostrils. Ezra had lived on the land long enough to recognize the smell of decomposition. Dismounting, Ezra pulled his rifle free and looped the reins over the branch of a nearby bush. It would not really stop the horse if it decided to bolt, but it would dissuade it from taking to its heels for no reason. The horse twitched its ears nervously, flaring its nostrils as it tested the air. Ezra patted the horse's neck reassuringly and began making his way along the cattle trail on foot. He had just rounded a bend when he saw the reason for the foul odor. The remains of a young bull calf were scattered just on and across the trail. Massive claw marks showed in the remnants of the animal's hide. Ezra continued onward and soon came to another carcass. This one was a large cow. Again, there was no sign of predation. The cow had been killed and left to rot. Ezra's lips tightened. It looked as if the bear was killing for sport, if such could be said of an animal, and not just to feed itself. Fearing that a small group of the ranch's livestock had been ambushed as it came back from the lake, Ezra continued along the trail. Blood led Ezra on up the trail. He was about to turn back when and wait for the Lance and Randy when he spotted yet another downed cow. Ezra had just reached the carcass when a roar off to his right made him spin around. He raised the rifle and fired twice as a gigantic blur of fur filled his field of view. Instantly, he felt agony flash through his shoulder and then his side, and he nearly dropped the rifle. Somehow, with pain and fear interfering with his thought processes, he managed to fire three more shots. Then he was down, and the massive animal was on top of him. Consciousness faded amidst the sounds of the bear's growls, more gunshots, and the shouts of his men. The bear stopped its attack as the other two men charged up the trail, firing their guns in its direction. There was a moment where it appeared that the animal was weighing its options. It was as if it was trying to decide whether to charge, stand its ground, or run. In the end, it let go of Ezra, turned and galloped up the trail, disappearing into the treeline. Fearing the worst, Lance Canady dropped to his knees next to Ezra while Randy Flagg stood watch. Lance almost moaned at the sight of the older man's injuries. He wasn't sure how Ezra could still be alive, but the rise and fall of his chest and the ragged sound of his breathing said he was. Lance looked up at Randy, "We need the buckboard so's we can get Ezra back to the main house, and we need that new doc from town. But first, fetch the buckboard." It was almost as far into town as it was up to the main house. Far better to take Ezra home and bring the doc to him. Randy nodded and whirled his horse around, sending it thundering back down the short trail. Keeping watch in case the bear returned, Lance did what he could for Ezra. "Hold on Ez, hold on." Lance muttered as he tried to stop some of the bleeding using his and the old man's bandanas and torn scraps of their shirts.