Beneath Sun Mountain, east of Carson City and above Virginia City, in the rugged passes of the Sierra Mountain Range, men continue to toil, wrenching silver from the depths of the earth in untold qualities. Yet more than precious mineral is hidden amid the rocky crags and deadly holes of the miners’ jack; the old people – cho’er-ja koe’kro – or what once had been those ancient people — still secretly dwell.
L.C. Howard came into the Nevada territory from the Ocean State to find his fortune, instead he discovered his calling as a brazen outlaw first, then as a town’s marshal. He found the work much more to his liking, with the wild nights of an ever increasing population, free-flowing whiskey and the even freer women of the bawdy houses.
“I tell ya Marshal, Thurlby was standing right there and then he was gone,” Bartholomy complained.
“Maybe he quit the claim and packed her in,” Howard replied.
“Naw…he jus’ up and disappeared,” Bartholomy continued, “He was right there one minute, gone the next!”
Howard studied the ground and where the old miner pointed. He saw a set of boot prints left by the Cornish hard-rock miner, but little else.
“Well, I don’t see any blood or drag marks, and he didn’t fall in a hole, so I got nothing to go on,” Howard stated.
“Well, something happened to him…” Bartholomy started.
“Tommy-knockers, perhaps?” Howard interrupted.
“That ain’t real, Marshal, and you know it,” Bartholomy growled.
“Well, until I have more to go on,” Howard said sternly, “I can’t do anything about a man who seems to have vanished like you say he’s done.”
Howard turned and followed the narrow path back down the mountainside and into the growing city. He didn’t want to say anything, but he couldn’t get his mind off the fact that the disappearance of Thurlby made five people having gone missing.
He stepped into the shade cast by The Riesen House and peered back up the hillside. It looked like nothing more than it was, a vast landscape of escarpments and crevasses, littered with the unkempt hovels of miners and the shallow diggings of mine shafts.
Howard strolled towards his office, but first he needed to stop by the land office. He needed a decent map.