The newcomers on the last train had been put up in old Army tents from the war that the garrison at the Old Mission used when they were bivouacked near town. The train’s crew had volunteered to stand a watch over them during the interrogation of the outlaws and the proper welcome of newcomers; Missy had come to do both.

She set up a barrel and climbed atop it. “You attention please, sirs and madams,” she shouted. “I am Deputy Sheriff Missy Ferguson, and it is my pleasure to welcome you to Smokewood! I know that, with the bridge out, many of you will be staying longer than you thought. I promise you that the citizens of this town will do their best to accommodate you if you treat them with kindness.”

There was no real response, so she kept on. “It’s also my pleasure to acquaint yourself with some of our local ordinances. There are to be no unauthorized shooting irons in Smokewood. Those of you with irons will turn them in to me and may claim them at the jail on your way out of town.”

“What if we come up against a sorcerer?” someone cried. “You want us to give up our only protection?”

“No, not at all,” Missy said. “There is no unauthorized use of destructive or disruptive magicks in Smokewood. All of you with some skill in the Art are required to sign a deed binding them to a strict policy of such. If you do not or cannot do this, you are not welcome in Smokewood and we will bid you farewell.”

“You mean we gotta give up our irons and trust in some scrap of paper that a sorcerer ain’t gonna light us on fire like we’re a matchstick?”

“That’s right,” Missy said. “If you value your irons that much, you’re welcome to leave. Brightwood is about a month that way,” she said, pointing east.

She jumped down from the barrel and withdrew a pen and pad from her jacket. “Form an orderly line, everyone, and I’ll take care of everything, ” Missy added, laying the papers on the barrel like a writing desk.

First in line was a sullen-looking young man, scrawny and looking greatly in need of a good meal. He laid a pair of extremely modern break-action revolvers atop the barrel. “Cobb Tyler,” he said.

“Goodness, what use does a little wisp of a kid like you have for a pair of shooters like that?” Missy said.

“I mean to collect the bounty on Peyton Grosh,” he said. “Wanted for horse theft.”

“And you think that’ll earn him a double bullet?” Missy said. “Son, the bounty is for him alive.”

Cobb shrugged. “I’ll try that first,” he said. “But I’m not ruling out shooting him down like a dog. He killed my father.”

“Maybe it’s for the best you’re leaving these here with me, son,” Missy said. “Violence is worthless, as I always say.”

“I’ll take it under advisement,” Cobb said.

Missy wrote him out a receipt. “Just be careful what you point those things at when you get them back, son,” she said. “Shooting an orc down cold isn’t the law, no matter what he’s done.”

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