The Mountain Man and Captain Liberty changed their prisoners out of their coats and pants, leaving the men lying on the cold ground in their long johns. The clothes were a tight fit over their costumes, but would suffice so long as no one looked too close. Their next obstacle was that no one had any rope on them. The Daoist suggested stripping tree bark and wrapping it around their wrists as if it was rope. Because of his heavy accent, he had to say the plan twice. Once the Mountain Man got it, he made short work of some tree bark with his busy hatchet, making sure to choose a tree where the bark was supple. At least it might fool someone until they actually looked.
Having no better plan, the two disguised heroes and their "prisoners" made their way back to Roostertown. The west, less densely-housed side of Roostertown seemed to be the busier area this morning, with more people out and about there. There were fewer people out and about on the east side, and no women or children in sight.
"I suggest we observe this ruse until we are inside the temple once again,” the Mountain Man said, “or until we are discovered. And I think the best way to observe this ruse is to use the front gate to the temple. Once we're inside we can make trouble and find the prisoners."
Not sure which gate was the main gate, the heroes picked the east one, as it faced more of the town. Walking closer than ever to the town, they saw various small-town stores had been set up there, no doubt moved directly from their closed Highland counterparts, with improvised signs out front.
The east gate to the temple gardens stood open, with just one guard in a brown leather jacket, and lazily holding an automatic rifle, standing there. His eyes were fixed on Silver Scorpion as they drew near and whistled. "So this is one of the people who attacked last night? Darn, I should have asked for patrol duty!" he said. Only once they had passed him into the gardens did he add, "Hey...wait a minute! Who are you guys?"
"Erm, we're the new guys out of St. Louis,” the Mountain Man said. “Must not have run into us yet. Anyways, time to get to know each other later - we have to get these 'heroes'," he said with a sneer, "inside." He then kept walking nonchalantly toward the main building.
Silver Scorpion walked with her face downwards, trying to look dejected. She kept a close watch out of the corners of her eyes, however.
Captain Liberty started counting bad guys as he walked to see how many were left. He was worried that they would most likely be discovered and was ready to shoot his rifle at the first sign of trouble. But, for now, he tried to play it cool. It would have helped if the healing pill he took earlier had done more for him, but he was still seriously injured and just hiding it from the others.
At the Mountain Man's contemptuous words, the Daoist decided to get in on the act. He spat in the general direction of his companion and began to shout at him in Mandarin, saying some exceptionally rude things.
Everyone put on a good act, but the guard was still suspicious and followed them. They made it as far as the gate blocking the bridge to the temple courtyard, where they passed two men exiting with a long, rolled-up carpet between them. The guard following them called out to them again, saying, "Hey, stop these guys! They didn't give the secret rooster sign!"
There was an armed guard on either side of the open gate. The armed guard following them was about 10 ft. behind. The two men who were carrying the carpet dropped it so they could come help and were 5 ft. behind him.
"We did make the secret rooster sign,” the Mountain Man shot back. “You just missed it! Too busy eyeballing the silver lady. We don't have time to argue with you out here where these two can escape. We can talk inside the temple if you like," he said as he led his prisoners through the gate. He was ready to shed his disguise if necessary, but he was trying to sell this for all it was worth.
With the situation deteriorating, the Daoist decided action was in order. He tried to make a break for it. Or rather, he made a show of making a break for it. “Unfortunately,” his chosen escape path would take him right by the Mountain Man, who could easily subdue the escaping prison.
The guards were impressed with how quickly the Daoist was recaptured. "Good job grabbing that Chinaman," one of the guards said. "Got a fortune cookie for me, Chinaman?" the guard at the gate asked to mock him. It was hard to take, but at least the distraction had made half the guards forget to be suspicious of them and they went back to retrieve their fallen carpet. The other two guards began to argue, not about whether to let them in, but if they should be escorted further and which would do it.
"Look, I've got to get back to my post. You should take them in, show them to who's in charge, and find out if they're really from St. Louis or not."
"What does it matter if they're from St. Louis? You got a problem with St. Louis? I've got a cousin who lives near there."
Iron Man by Bob Layton
13 hours ago