At the Carlton, Paladin is entertaining Mme. Elaine Destin in his suite. She demonstrates her ability to predict futures with her Tarot deck, and Paladin picks the Chevalier of Swords. She predicts that he will travel far and see much, and Paladin says that he is traveling to Temple City the next day and there's not much there. She draws the next card and sees Death, and breaks into tears. The next card is the Drowned Sailor, and Elaine says that it will help him. Paladin points out that he's unlikely to meet a drowned sailor in the desert, but Elaine isn't comforted.
The next day, Paladin rides into Temple City and passes an undertaker leading a horse with a coffin to the graveyard. He goes to Mincus Outfitters and his friend's daughter Juney runs out to greet him. Cus comes out and tells Juney to go inside. Once she does, Cus says that he thought Paladin would stay away out of consideration for Juney. He admits that it isn't much of a greeting, and finally says that a man in town is claiming that he'll kill the first gunfighter who arrives in town. The man's name is Danceman, and Cus says that he has Juney and the business to think of. Paladin understands and rides off.
That night, Paladin goes to the saloon to get dinner. The other customers are fighting and drinking, and Paladin sees one man Taylor take a bottle away from a drunk, Philpotts, knocks him out with it, and then prepares to set him on fire. The gunfighter slaps the match out of his hand and advises Taylor to back down. Taylor's friend realizes that Paladin is a gunfighter, and everyone backs away except for one man: Danceman. Danceman helps Paladin get the drunk onto a bench so he can sleep it off, and notices a sailor's tattoo on the drunk's arm. Danceman points out that Paladin is carrying a gun, and introduces himself. He casually says that he's going to kill Paladin and will see him in the morning, and figures that Paladin won't leave out of pride. Paladin warns that makes a reluctant victim, and Danceman tells him that no one else will help Paladin and he's as good as dead.
Philpotts wakes up and Paladin helps him out. Cus comes in and asks if Paladin met Danceman. Paladin confirms that he did and says that he's going to bed, and Cus advises him to leave while he can. The gunfighter refuses to be pushed around by an unbalanced man with no good, and Cus warns him that they won't give him a room at the hotel. As Paladin and Cus leave, another fight breaks out.
Later that night, Paladin is sleeping in a stable. He wakes up and discovers that his gun is gone. The next morning, Paladin goes to the sheriff to report the theft. The sheriff isn't surprised, and admits that he agrees with Danceman. Paladin says that he wants a gun to protect himself from a mad man, and the sheriff says that Danceman lost his gun to a gunfighter which is why he kills gunfighters. he refuses to give Paladin a gun, admitting that Danceman owns the town, and goes into his office. Philpotts comes up and thanks Paladin for his help, but says that he can't give him a gun because no one in town has one. Paladin gives him a coin to buy a meal, and Philpotts wonders why he saved him if he doesn't want him around.
Paladin goes to Cus' shop and Juney greets him. He asks for a gun, and Juney says that they don't sell them. Cus comes in and repeats what Juney said, and Paladin says that he just wants a gun to protect himself from Danceman as he rides out. His friend draws a gun on him, and says that he can't take the chance of giving it to Paladin because Danceman would find out. Cus glances over at Juney and says that Danceman has a hold on a lot of the townspeople. They're a better town for getting rid of their guns, and Paladin says that he'll ride out.
A storm comes up that night, and Danceman enters the stable. Paladin is hiding in the loft, and Danceman grabs a sickle. In a lightning flash, Paladin sees him as the Reaper. Danceman starts cutting into the hay, and Paladin calls out from the shadows, asking why he has to kill. The man shoots and misses, and insists that no one owns life. He says that all Paladin makes is dead bodies, and Paladin tells him that he's filled with lies despite the truth he's speaking.
Philpotts comes in with a gun and tosses it to Paladin. He then jumps Danceman, who knocks him to the floor. Paladin jumps down and shoots Danceman. Juney runs in and picks up Danceman's gun, and Paladin tells her that when the town is taking care of its own affairs, then she should decide. After a moment, Juney gives him the gun and walks away. Paladin thanks Philpotts and says that he's the Bloody Chevalier... and Danceman is the Grim Reaper.
Written by Gadfly on Jan 15, 2017