There were two silhouettes on the horizon. Barely visible in the early evening as the sun was setting, it appeared to be two men. The horses stepped wearily with low heads. Their bodies were frosted due to dried salt in their sweat. On the left was a short-legged buckskin with a broad chest. Built for endurance rather than speed, the mare carried a stocky, long haired man of medium build. He was the savage. On the right was a horse easily remembered; a leopard appaloosa with a high step and long legs. The flashy mount was a gelding, which carried a tall man with a lean build. He had short hair that curled over his eyebrows and ears. He was the bastard.
The savage also held a white man's name. Known as Clancy by most, his reputation as the "White Chief" often pervaded him. His light complexion told of his blood lineage; European more than likely. Clancy was the name he had adopted over time. It was unknown to him what he was or where he was from. Clancy merely knew he was born into a white man's body but for some reason or the other had not been raised by his birth parents. Instead, he chose to dress of his heritage. Despite having blonde hair and a grey eye, Clancy favored in both his actions and dress a Sioux. Lakota Sioux. Over his pale green shirt he wore a breastplate made from hair-pipe bone, leather, and turquoise. It was beaded and strung together intricately enough to draw attention from underneath his Americanized vest and away from his face. Aside from the obvious, Clancy's more predominant features, or lack thereof, was what often confirmed his identity. Clancy's right eye was gone and the surrounding area was rather scarred. He wore a leather strap-type eye patch to cover the mass of the old wound.
The buckskin perked up, rotating her ears forward. The animal had caught the sounds of life in the town ahead. Both Clancy and the bastard had been riding for some time. It seemed weeks since they had left the last town. Hickory had been small; it was far too easy to be recognized. That's why the men were heading south to Arizona territory. Durango was a large city, bustling with trains, strangers, and rough men from both sides of the border. Both would disappear among the locals and travelers alike.
The bastard was named Nathaniel. Having been born unto a Mexican whore in a cathouse far back in Texas, his upbringing hadn't been faultless. Still, all mamas love their children. He was a handsome man, taking after his father apparently. Nate's blue eyes and height were not maternal; however his black hair and tan skin were. He would have appeared a gentleman had it not been for his rough appearance. From his temple to his jawline was a scar that stretched across his face. He had sharp blue eyes that were careful and forever watching. There was a sense of urgency on his face as Nate pawed at his chest, searching for an unforeseen item.
Reaching into the shirt pocket of his crimson shirt, Nate retrieved a golden pocket watch. The ticker was broken, but even in that state it would fetch a nice sum. Tracing over the intricate carvings with a rough thumb, Nate replaced the watch inside of his shirt. "This ain't no Durango Clance' but it'll be best to rest up a bit." Nate pulled a previously rolled cigarette from his dull buckskin vest. Striking a match on the saddle horn, he inhaled deeply. The tobacco perked him up; Nate was exhausted. "Hide out some 'til it all blows over. They'll be lookin' for someone to pin it on."
The two had formed an odd relationship out of necessity and common interests. Their beliefs and appearances conflicted with one another; however it had proved long ago that they both benefited better as friends rather as enemies. The savage could survive with little resources and move as quiet as a ghost. Clancy was always listening and never speaking. He soaked information like a sponge. The bastard had a silver tongue and knew the ins and outs of cattle towns. Nate had a friendly enough face to earn a few meals from pitiful women. He was smart and charming and weaseled himself out of many situations. Still, both men had a colorful history that warranted a few charges in their time.
"It was not wise of you to leave him as that." Clancy's stringy hair stuck to his dry, chapped lips. One of his thick hands removed his hat; the other pushed his hair back and out of his face. Recent bruising and scabbing on Clancy's knuckled hinted at recent trouble. "They walk many years without finding peace." He spoke with a deep, slow voice. Accented, it was obvious that Clancy's first language hadn't been English.
"He had it comin' you know. Riding with the Robertsons doesn't end well for youngsters like him. Pinky knew better and he ought to get whatever gets him, everlastin' soul or not." Nate sucked out the light of the cigarette, which faded into the pinkish hue of the sky. "'Sides from that, he won't need none of this where he's goin'. We'll pawn it off afore his Daddy comes searching." The sun was gone, having set about a quarter of an hour ago. Clancy remained silent. His comrade was bullheaded and sometimes a bit too cocky for his own good. His lone eye searched the town before them. The night would make it easier for them to fall in. Less townsfolk about to remember two rough riders on pretty horses. "I know you're supposed to be one with the earth and such, bein' injun an' all. Leavin' him out like that'll let him get with the earth sooner."
A small smile pulled across Clancy's lips as he shook his head. "Let it be." Fiddling with his belt, Clancy adjusted his holster and gun. It was a Peacemaker, a Colt .45 which oddly enough befitted a man like him. Quick and simple, and far more efficient than the basic weaponry Clancy had been brought up on. Nate flicked the burnt end of the cigarette onto the ground as the horses drew closer into town.
"I like your kind an' all. You're good people, just misun—" Nate was cut off by a swift movement of Clancy's hand. The motion was followed by a smirk. Nate returned the favor, tipping his black hat at a lady ushering her husband from work. They were hurried. Almost frightened it seemed. They seemed out of place.
The word ROSEBUD was painted on the east side of the first building they approached. The red paint was peeling some on the paneling of the general store. Hinting at the lack of upkeep, the town had appeared to once be prosperous and friendly. A busted window and the paint chips hinted at a more sinister night life. Rosebud had a simple layout, with the majority of the stores and buildings centered on a main strip. It ended in a large 'T' shaped roadway, with what appeared to be the jailhouse and sheriff's office. There was a second street outlining the others, mostly with what seemed to personal homes.
There were some train tracks outlying the town with a number of holding pens and a single awning. "Cattle," Nate motioned to a building. "They prolly hold 'em here before shipping them East." The low grunts and groans of the animals could be heard in the still air. The night was clear and sounds traveled further. There were few men standing around the buildings. Some were smoking and the low murmur of voices were heard. A two storied building conveniently built slantways from the jailhouse seemed to be the liveliest of the night. It was a saloon and, after circling around back the two men noticed a stockade. The place doubled as an Inn.
O'Henry's it read in gold lettering on the front. "Saloon and Inn," Nate mocked as he dismounted his ride. Rubbing his horse's shoulders down, Nate emptied the contents of his saddlebags into his pockets. A few coins, an odd trinket or two, and enough ammunition for the pair of Colt Dragoons on his hips. Unlike his companion, Nate wore two. He was highly skilled and quick, although he did not let a reputation as a gunslinger shadow his murky name. Both men circled the building with their mounts. Nate made sure to tip the little Negro boy who was mucking and feeding the animals. Better care made better horses.
Gathering what little belongings they actually owned, the pair wound back and entered the saloon through the batwing doors. The tinkle of piano music played a lively background against the shrill laughter of both men and women alike. The air smelled of stale beer, smoke, and a day's labor. There was an intense game of cards in the back; the men around the table were clouded in cigar smoke and a few cheap women hanging about. There were a few ladies waiting tables and bringing beers to the pining customers. A grubby man grabbed one of the blondes into his lap as she passed by, causing a shriek of alarm and possibly fear as laughed drunkenly to the amusement of his table mates. Despite the rambunctious activities happening simultaneously, it seemed to cease momentarily as the two strangers entered the door. Both Clancy and Nate appeared even more out of place. Clancy was short but broad shouldered, coming up to Nate's shoulders. Nate was tall and lean, almost towering over his companion.
Scanning the crowd, Clancy stepped first and seated himself at the bar, but farthest away from any sort of communication. Nate sat a few stools down, turning his back on the bar top to inspect the area. He did not recognize any men here tonight, at least not right away.
"What'll it be, honey?" The woman's voice purred as she leaned over the counter. Her breasts looked as if they would be popping out the top of her dress at any moment. She was talking to Clancy, but he could tell by her forced smile and chitchat that she was frightened by him. Her dark hair fell in long ringlets down her back and chest. "Whatever you have to eat. And a whiskey." Speaking low, Clancy made an effort to not draw more attention. The woman smiled, her red lips fell almost in a friendly manner before turning back to another cowboy at the bar.
She had been working O'Henry's for some time now. Strange men constantly blew in and out, sometimes getting themselves blown to their own graves on the rowdiest of nights. Tonight was a good night; at least it was so far. There was no sign of the diseases that coined themselves the Robertsons in this bar tonight. All they seemed to do was harass her women and start trouble. Too many men had lost their lives due to foolishness and their provocation. Turning back to the blonde man, Sylvia sat down his drink. Ol' One Eye appeared to be an odd man, certainly no gentleman but not a troublemaker either.
Casting her brown eyes down to his companion's direction, Sylvia noted how reserved the tall one acted.
"Y'all seem to have been ridin' a while. We have a room open. Not sure how you two fancy sharing a place, but it's better than the stables." Wiping away at a mug, she tried her best to put on a friendly act.
"I won't be puttin' up with any troublemakers." Sylvia placed the glass down near Nate, resting a hand on her hip.
She had caught his attention it seemed. Nate glanced down at her sidelong before turning his body halfway towards her. "You takin' over til O'Henry gets back or what?" He had the devil's grin.
"You're lookin' at him. I'm O'Henry." Sylvia made sure to emphasize that. "I like to keep my place peaceful."
"Is that so?" Nate raised an eyebrow, half impressed.
"Afraid it is."
She could feel the blonde man staring at her. It made her uncomfortable, which was something Sylvia didn't like, especially in her own place. "Look, boys. I see what you're wearing and bringin' into my place. You look like trouble. I don't cater to that kind. You can either stay—or leave." She hesitated slightly. A few of the other cowboys began to shuffle about.
"Listen here, henbit. We won't start any trouble. Hell, we'll keep trouble out. Let us room here a week or two an' we keep it nice and quiet for you." Nate winked, knocking back the rest of his cool beer. It was the first beer he had drank in some time. At this point, anything beat stale water and hardtack. He could see his partner shaking his head, stifling a small smile. A small huff escaped Sylvia's mouth. "I like to be paid up front." Her lips pulled into a sweet grin. It masked her more unpleasant feelings toward the skinny bastard.
Before Nate could reply with any sort of smart remark, the clink of coins against the wooden countertop came down from Clancy's end. "We have enough for three nights. You like us, we stay. You don't—"Clancy glared down towards Nate. "We leave. Simple as that." Knocking back the rest of his drink, Clancy's plate of food was brought out by another lady. She was a skinny redhead. There seemed to be few men about this place.
A low rumble could be heard in the distance. It started like a murmur and rapidly grew to a thundering halt. The horses squealed against their riders' demands. They sounded like the trouble Sylvia desperately tried to outlaw. The posse had been riding hard it sounded due to the heavy snorts and breaths as the animals came to a stop. Earth crunched beneath their boots as each man dismounted.
Clancy counted four. Nate recognized the look on his face. Here was the trouble she was talking about.