When the most recent issue of the Tombstone Epitaph hit news stands, it took even its most regular readers by surprise. Billed as a “Special Edition”, the standard array of fantastic articles about the goings on of the American Southwest had been replaced by old articles, strange new articles of untold stories from around West, and even fictions about a time traveling band of adventurers. Although initially off-putting, many of the regulars and a few new readers were soon engrossed by tales of the former Governor summoning a demon only to be defeated by the Last Stand Gang, mysterious strangers saving a young girl from murderous scarecrows, an Indian brave wrestling his friends from the jaws of a Mojave rattler, the death of a murderous psychopath at the hands of the last law man in a post-apocalyptic Tombstone, and one man’s quest to kill the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the Devil to save his daughter, a quest that takes him to the far reaches of space.
On the final few pages of the Epitaph, the stories disappeared and in large font were the words
“The Last Will and Testament of Mary Louise Stokes”
Just below the headline on the left side of the page was a picture of a young girl, probably still a teenager, with dark hair and light eyes. She is pretty but dresses in a boyish manner and seems to carry herself with the air of a practiced killer. It is obvious from her appearance that she has seen more in her few years than any one person should have seen in a lifetime. The article continues after the picture.
My name is Mary Louise Stokes and if you’re reading this I am dead or will be soon enough.
I have lost both of my natural parents to the Hellscape that is the American southwest and have no living relatives save for an absentee grandfather in Savannah and an adoptive mother that runs a brothel in Last Stand. At the time of this writing I am two months shy of my seventeenth birthday, unmarried, and without children. With a shortage of relatives, few living friends, and a lack of worldly possessions, I have very few bequests but those few I have, I would like to make public for the sake of every living person on the Earth. Now for the legalese.
I, Mary Louise, Stokes, of Last Stand, Arizona, being of sound mind and body (in spite of everything that will follow) revoke any former Wills and Codicils and declare this to be my Last Will and Testament.
Identification of Family
I have no husband, children, parents, or living grandparents save for a grandfather, Ulysses Herschel Walker Danbrook of Savannah, Georgia. All references in this Will to “my grandfather” are references to Ulysses Herschel Walker Danbrook.
Payment of Debts and Expenses
I have accumulated no debts in my lifetime but should I accrue any after the writing of this Will, they should be first paid from my estate. In the off chance that my corpse is returned to civilization and not left to bleach in the desert sun, I request that my body be burned and the remains given to Sally Mae Whitaker of Last Stand, AZ to be spread about the area of my family farm outside of Last Stand. All arrangements should be paid first from my estate.
Disposition of Property
A. Special Bequests. I direct that the following specific bequests be made from my estate.
To Lacy O’Malley, of Tombstone, AZ, I bequeath the journal of Ulysses Walker Danbrook, with the special request that copies be made and delivered to The Agency and The Texas Rangers that they made make use of the information within. Also, a copy should be delivered to Sally Mae Whitaker of Last Stand, AZ that she might know the travels of her close friend and partner. After exact copies have been made and delivered, you are free to do with the journal what you will. I trust that you and your companions as the Epitaph will be able to do a great deal of good with the knowledge therein; much better good than I could have done.
To the Lady Luck Society of Shan Fan, California, I bequeath my copy of Hoyle’s Book of Games, 1769 edition that you may use it to keep up the good work.
To Sally Mae, Whitaker of Last Stand, AZ, I bequeath my family land outside of Last Stand to use or sell as you see fit.
To the man, woman, or child that might find my corpse in the desert, I bequeath any of my possessions you might find on me, save for my gun and gun belt.
To a just man who has been wronged by the evil world, I bequeath my gun, the Saint of Vengeance, that you may use it to put your world and the world at large back on the right path or at the very least, to put down any man, beast, or devil that might seek to send it spinning further off the tracks.
To every man, woman, and child of the world, I bequeath the following knowledge: There is evil in the world. Not just the kind that dwells in the hearts of men but the evil you have only imagined in your nightmares. Since the Great Quake of 1863, the world has slowly become the playground for evil spirits that call themselves the Reckoners. They have taken the guise of the the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and with the help of their Servitors, they seek to turn the Earth into a world ruled by chaos and fear. My natural father, Ulysses Walker Danbrook, killed them in the future that he might save my soul from the clutches of the Devil, but in killing the Devil these timeless beings attached themselves to the bodies of their Servitors, men that now terrorize the American West:
- Reverend Ezekiah Grimm of the cannibal cult of Lost Angels, I name you the Servitor of the Reckoner known as Famine.
- The Indian known as Raven, I name you the Servitor of the Reckoner known as War
- Jasper Stone, I name you the Servitor of the Reckoner known as Death.
- Doctor Darius Hellstromme of Hellstromme Industries, I name you the Servitor of the Reckoner known as Pestilence.
Let every man, woman, and child know your sins and the let them judge you accordingly.
Let them seek you out where ever you may hide and show the justice of cold steel, of hot lead, of stone ax, of righteous fury, and of the courage of just and good men.
Let your dying screams be filled with the realization that you have failed to claim our world and let the Devils that reside in your hearts and souls cry out in vain as they are ripped from existence to never terrorize another living being.
Just as there are evil men, there are also good men who have found powers to help them in the fight against the supernatural menace that plagues our world. Faithful men who can summon the wrath of the Almighty, gamblers who have found arcane secrets hidden in plain sight, shaman who can channel the energy of the spirits, even men armed with nothing more than a gun and an honest heart; there are many people I have met or have not met that travel the West, seeking to right wrongs and fight injustice and evil whereever it hides. If you should meet one of these men or women, thank them, give them a place to rest their head and a meal to fill their belly if you can for they have helped each of you in ways you cannot fathom.
To the scientists and governments of the world, I bequeath a warning: beware the use of ghost rock. It will lead to all of our undoing. Choose another path and ignore the voices in your head. They speak only lies.
To the man that hears a scratching at his bedroom door, I bequeath you the courage to open it and face whatever monster awaits you. May you be a torch in the darkness.
To the Indian that has heard the call of the spirits, I bequeath the voice to answer. May you carry the strength of a hundred men.
To the woman who has read the Hoyle’s Book and spotted something “off” in the writings, I bequeath you the curiosity to read on. May the deck always be stacked in your favor.
To the priest who has had his faith shaken, I bequeath the hope to carry on. May you be a voice for those who have been silenced.
To the young boy with a heavy gun in hand, I bequeath the strength to raise your arm, look down the sights, and fire. May your aim always be true.
To Reverend Ezekiah Grimm, I bequeath the wrath of the righteous. May the men and women of true faith wash over you like the flood that carried the Ark.
To Raven, I bequeath the gift of unending war. May the fury of good and fearless men find you wherever you may hide and know that you may count as many coup as you want but our side must only count it once.
To Doctor Darius Hellstromme, I bequeath the knowledge that you will save your precious Vanessa. I also bequeath the knowledge that the day you save her will be the day you lose her forever. May the irony of your pathetic existence suffocate you like the fumes from your putrid smoke stacks.
Lastly, to Jasper Stone, I bequeath the gift of death. The death you gave to Wyatt Earp and his family, John Henry “Doc” Holliday, Ulysses W. Danbrook, Michael and Thomas O’Malley, and countless others will be repaid a thousand fold by my hands. Even if you should kill me, it will be the icy grasp of my dead hands around your ankles that will drag you down into Hell.
The will carries on for several more pages of legalese before arriving at a seemingly out of place line from an old hymn.
Let the circle be broken
By and by, by and by