Hallowed Blue Bloods from back east . . .  An ancient family looking fer a new start . . .  A buncha freaks and lunatics if you ask me.  The Whateley family showed up in the dead o’ night and promptly started scarin’ the pants outta the whole town.  They got huckster powers like you’ve never seen.  I’ve seen them do things with a simple deck o’ cards that’d freeze yer blood.  They got somethin’ planned fer Gomorra, and you can bet yer spurs it ain’t good.

    Steve Hewitt

Werner Braun closed and locked the vault at dusk. The routine was mind numbing but the security was necessary. He finished spinning the last dial and turned. Breathing a sigh, Braun glanced around the main room. The tellers had both gone home for the night, and Hank Gallagher, the hired man, was sitting in his chair near the door. His rifle was in his lap and he was gently polishing it. The orange light of the sunset glinted off the weapon, momentarily blinding the bank owner. Werner turned to him and announced, "I’ll be in my office, Hank. We’ll lock up in about ten minutes."

"’Kay, boss," came the reply.

Werner opened his office door and strode into the dark room without a thought. He walked to the wooden blinds and pulled them open to allow the setting sun’s light to stream into the room. The slats of the blinds created a series of parallel lines that illuminated Werner’s desk and the man sitting in his chair.

"Hello, Father."

Werner’s hand went to his chest as he leaped backwards. The man who sat in the chair was a mess of dirt, filth and hair. In his left hand, he held an end of rope that continued up to and around his neck, forming a noose. His right hand held a deck of cards that he repeatedly cut with one hand. At the man’s belt rested a revolver and upon his shoulder was an odd spiked plate. His feet rested upon the desk, causing him to recline in the chair.

Moses Whateley-Braun stopped cutting the cards, lowered his feet and sat up. "I need to

ask a favor of you."

"Who are you?" There was a beat. "You are not my son! I have no son!" Werner practically gasped to get the words out. He was having trouble breathing.

"Now, now, Father. Just because you and Mother didn’t get along doesn’t mean you should go around denying my birth! I am actually offended that you would insinuate that I do not exist. However, that has nothing to do with why I am here. There’s a deed that is going to go up for auction in the very near future. The bank is going to foreclose. You are going to auction it off and the Whateley family is going to win the auction. Am I understood?"

"Who do you think you are, barging in here? I should have Hank throw you out!" Still trying to catch his breath, Braun was struggling to appear confident.

"I do not think that is a good idea, Werner," came a third voice. In the corner of the dark room, a figure sat in a leather chair. Werner could not make out the man’s face, but the shoes and slacks indicated a man of wealth.

"Who the hell are you? What are you doing here?"

White teeth were suddenly visible as a wry smile crossed the shadow’s face. A white-gloved hand cut a deck of slightly glowing cards. "I’m no one of consequence, Werner. Just here to keep an eye on young Moses."

Moses said, "Now, Father, if we could get back to the manner at hand. The deed."

"Stop calling me that! My son died by his mother’s own hand!"

"No, Father, though you told those cowardly priests that he did! Mother loved me. She gave me to her aunt to raise! The baby she used in the ritual was not me-" "That satanic rite took my only son!"

"-But a simple street urchin. A child’s blood is very powerful, Father."

"You! You’re one of them."

"You had your beloved wife burned at the stake-"

"She was a murdering demoness!"

"-Because of some street person! How does it feel to be a murderer, Father?"

"No! She was a witch and a pawn of Satan!" The banker fell to his knees before the chair. "She was possessed! She needed to be cleansed."

Moses’ hand reached out and touched his father’s head. The fingers caressed the old man’s balding scalp while tears streamed down the elder’s face. Suddenly, his fist closed over what little hair was left and jerked the man’s head sideways.

"Now, worm. Listen to me who was your son!" The voice had taken on a tone of menacing authority. "The fires of hell will consume you for your betrayal! However," Moses paused, "there is still something you can do to repay me for murdering my mother. I want that deed! You WILL get it for me and you will do so without question. You will continue to serve my family and me and you will not stop until we say so. Even death will not stop your service to us. Failure will result in an eternity of torment that you can’t even begin to imagine. Do you understand, you murdering piece of filth?"

There was a slight nod. Moses released the man’s head and he fell to the floor in a heap. Werner’s sobs were the only sound in the room as the two Whateleys rose and exited. Hank Gallagher didn’t even notice the two hucksters as they walked right past him. Walking out the front door onto the street of Gomorra, Nicodemus turned to his cousin.

He said briefly, "Very nice, cousin. Grandma will be pleased."

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