So, you got any questions?

Yes, that's right. There ARE a lot of cowpokes in here. Didn't expect that, eh? I know... a lot of people come over and they think it's gonna all be dead mobsters full of holes and goofballs in Hawaiian shirts who had a heart attack at the table. Don't get me wrong, friend... we have Elvis sightings on the hour and more wiseguys than you could point a Tommygun at, sure, but there's more to the city than that.

You see, the city wasn't always a gambling town. Heck, it wasn't always a town, either. Long way back this was just a watering hole for people going from one place to the other.

Yep! No buildings, no streets, no nothing 'cept for one trail coming in and another going out. That and a whole lot of injuns too, but the ones down here were mostly friendly, for a while, anyway.

The Paiutes? Yeah, that's them. Nice folks from what I heard but they tend to make lousy martyrs when they're dead.

And that's kind of interesting, too. See, legend has it that the Natives used to come out here and sleep in the valley all the time just to have their vision dream things. Yeah, I know, it sounds like a load of crystal-dicked new age bullshit to me too, but they really thought there was something powerful under the ground . Of course, you sleep with a gun under your pillow there'll come a morning when you don't wake up - a lot of them went away with a head full of bad brains after their big night out, way I heard it, but I guess enough people must have come away with a happy head or they'd have stopped?

Okay, so I'm rambling. You see, people these days don't have much respect for history. The way they teach it now it's all queer guys in powdered wigs, freed slaves and old black and white movies of soldiers fighting the Japs in LA. Me, I got this stuff beaten into me at St. Ignatius of the Bloody Knuckle back in Chi-town, so I tend to remember it. Might want to pick up an ear for it yourself, my friend. The Skinlands might just be happily skipping through history but here, in the Shadowlands, we are history.

Jimmy? Get me and my pal another, and make it a double.

There we go... now, where to start? I don't want to bore you with a bunch of names I can't be bothered to half-remember anyway. Important bit is that Las Vegas was a shortcut in a time where an extra week on a horse could mean the difference between living in Los Angeles and dying in Bakersfield.

Now, this was back when this whole side of the country was pretty much wall-to-wall with frito banditoes. They got independence from Spain in 1821 and they were all keen to trade with the Spanish settlements up here, so there was a lot of back and forth trade traffic. The route between Santa Fe and Los Angeles was pretty important. It's what
they called The Spanish Trail.

Ah, you remember that one? No, it wasn't a Cheech and Chong movie.

Anyway, the first White guy - if you wanna call some wetback on a horse a White guy - to see this area was ah... what's his name, Rafael Rivera, that's it. Part of some caravan going here and there back in 1829, and he gets this great idea to follow a river on up and cut down the trip time a little. Damn but he did. He might have seen the
springs and he might have not, but the important thing was he cut about 40 miles off the trip.

After he checks it out word spreads, one of the next caravans through takes the shortcut, and then everyone's doing it like coke in California. Once a year the caravan comes through, trades their stuff, and takes the goods back to Santa Fe.

Around 1844 this mustachioed douchebag named John C. Freemont - yes, the Freemont Street Experience guy - comes along with his big expedition, stays here one night, and then moves on. I don't know what the big deal about all that was. He must have been real hot stuff back where he came from if he stays here one night and has a whole
damn street named after him. Me, I worked here and what do I get?

Ah well. Now... that stretch between Las Vegas - which got that name around that time, Spanish for "the meadows" - and the Muddy River was called La Jornada de Muerto: the Journey of Death. It was fifty-five miles of dust and scrub and bones bleaching in the Sun. Lots of people came in one end and didn't come out the other because they didn't take enough water for themselves or their poor horses. And where there's dead people walking, guess who's there to pick them up?

That's right. The Hierarchy. The Los Angeles Necropolis had been a reality for quite some time before, and there was a lot of travel between there and Sante Fe and other points along the curve. Most of that travel was by the Tempest, of course, but you'd get reaper Shadowland caravans who'd follow after the Quick wagon trains and pick up the dead where they dropped. It was a good racket for quite a while too to hear some of the older ones tell it. They'd just follow about half a mile back, watch for sudden stops, then chain the weak ones and arm the strong ones and drop 'em off at the appropriate location for cash or favors once they got to either end of the trip.

You also got what were known as "Ghost Riders" coming through. They were licensed Hierarchy agents who would ride alongside Skinland wagon trains, making sure that native ghosts didn't try to bushwhack 'em. Yeah... that's right. There was a lot of that going on back then. The East Coast Indians were getting screwed left, right and sideways on both sides of the Shroud and then the guys on this side finally started fighting back.

There's a lot of wagon trains that they'll find these days that didn't make it West of the Rockies, and the guys will look at what's left and say "Indian attack." A lot of those were done by live ones, but some were lost to the dead. That's why there were Ghost Riders: if the Quick Indians came along they couldn't do anything except reap the dead
and hand 'em over to the Slavers, but if the Restless Indians came along, there was going to be a fight. The Hierarchy allowed the Ghost Riders to capture, manacle, and claim smelter's rights on any Restless Indian they could get their hands on, which made a lot of Ghost Riders very rich.

Meanwhile, in the Skinlands, the traffic wasn't just sombrero-boys on horses with rugs and jumping beans to sell, either. After the whole shebang became an honest-to-goodness trail with a proper name, you got the sort of thing most places with proper names attract: assholes. More specifically, assholes with guns who decided they wanted to steal your stuff instead of pay for it. You had cattle rustling, horse stealing, caravan robbing and, sure enough, an Indian slave trade while they were at it. It got real bad for a while there. New Mexico and California started requiring passports for traders, if you can believe that.

Anyway, that era came to a close around 1848, when the United States kicked Mexico's ass in a nice, prearranged fight we like to call The Mexican War. Yeah, "Remember the Alamo." Bottom line on that was that all the territory that had been Mexico's was now America's, which included Los Angeles, Santa Fe, and Las Vegas. Right about
then, wouldn't you know, the trail stops being The Spanish Trail and becomes, drum roll please... The Mormon Trail.

Yeah, set us up with another pair, Jimmy. I'm on a roll.