The moon rose quickly that night. It was bigger than normal, a milky-white disc feigning to be blind to the sins of those in its borrowed light. Where it sat in the sky, just above the peaks of the snow-capped Ixard Mountains, it stared down particularly hard on one lone man. He yanked down the bandana from his mouth while producing a half-burned cigar from the pocket of his well-worn duster. An indulgence before he painted the town red.
The smoke billowed from his scarred lips, the wind twisting it into shapes like a writhing serpent. Faintly, off in the distance, his dark blue eyes locked on the light of trader’s town. Trains came and went frequently from its station, picking up and dropping off goods. It was the perfect place to raid–security was generally lax, and the merchants just seemed too dumb to protect their product properly. Tonight, however, was a special night. Tonight was the night that the wealthiest man in town, known as James Hill, would be trading his large collection of gold to a banking company that had struck a deal with the man. What a shame that Hill was only rich because he rode on the backs, on the labor, of others.
Then again, how different was the man smoking his cigar from Hill? Perhaps he wasn’t, but nor was there much time for moralizing and debating himself. If he could even make off with only two handfuls of the money meant to change hands tonight, it would make him a happy, happy man. Wealth wasn’t exactly the name of the game to him–he didn’t want to be conspicuous and rich. He wanted to spend it modestly, but only on himself. No one else in this life had truly earned his favor, so he felt no need to have a posse, nor did he feel a need to endanger himself for huge profit.
One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Yep, they were all in place, though he doubted he’d need more than two….
He knelt down after counting off his weapons–six unique revolvers, each having been engraved by a different gunsmith–and snuffed out the end of the cigar. He’d save the rest of it for later, perhaps for a heist further down the line. The bandana was pulled back up over the ridge of his nose, which concealed a majority of his face when paired up with the ragged black Stetson atop his head. “Come on,” he said finally with a voice that was as dark and smooth as a cup of black coffee. When the words weren’t acknowledged as quickly as he wanted, he made a clicking noise. The sound was met with a huff from the nostrils of a fine palomino. It stopped beside him with ears perked up, waiting. “You’ll get your treat, Atlas, don’t worry. Have I ever lied to you?” The horse’s tail swished, elicting an eyeroll from the the black-clad desperado.
“Ain’t no time like the present,” he grumbled as he hoisted himself into Atlas’s saddle, grabbing the reins with one hand and urging the horse forward with a light kick to the sides.
How many times had he come into this quaint little town during the day? How many of the townsfolk thought he was just some law-abiding citizen coming to make a trade with the merchants? How were they… so foolish? He’d been observing this city every day and every night for the past few weeks–he liked to think that, yes, he knew the ins-and-outs of the sleepy little town more than anyone else. Patience was one of his strong points, and one of the weaknesses of other outlaws in the area. He always had plenty of time to lay out plans and observe schedules. And carrying around a good ol’ marshal’s badge, well, it helped to not draw suspicion when gathering all that critical intelligence.
The marshal-turned-outlaw hitched Atlas around the back of a quiet building–a shop closed for business given the time. He crept down the alleys, keeping his hat low to conceal himself. When he finally made it to the street, he noticed not many people were meandering about; those who were idling outside were gathered around the saloon, chatting amongst themselves. He could smell the alcohol and cheap cologne and perfume from where he stood, far enough to hear conversation but not make out the words. Music chimed inside the saloon, and raucous laughter pursued the winning hands of cards exchanged inside.
This was the perfect time. He merely needed to wait for the train, which was likely not on schedule. It never was. The later the night grew, the drunker the denizens of the town would be, as well as less likely to interfere or hear any gunshots. The same thought crossed his mind now that always crossed his mind before these crimes.
“May the devil grant me some luck this night.”