A priest and lawman with big appetites, and a bigger heart
As seen in Once Upon a Time in the Wyrd West
Abbot Haywood Elijah Costello (a.k.a. "Kid Curry", "The Old Man") (He/Him)
Graeme came out of the exhausted doze he was in to meet the eyes of “Uncle” Haywood Costello, Abbot of the Order and an old friend of his father’s. The way he understood it, they’d chummed around when they were both young Slingers, riding circuit together. Without his Abbot’s whites it might be tempting to underestimate him, this paunchy, grizzled man with white stubble and lonely wisps of hair; an old warrior going to seed, with soft-looking hands and an easy blue-eyed smile. That would be a fatal mistake. Haywood Costello was said to be the reincarnation of Kid Curry Logan, and those soft hands could still draw and fire with the speed and deadly precision of a desert rattler. His Dead Book was worn, tattered, and full of names. Even the cover had bloodstains.Haywood Costello is a colourful character who ascended to become the Abbot of the Gunslinger Order after a long and successful career as a Circuit Judge. His laid-back, fatherly style of leadership has been widely acclaimed by the Gunslinger Order, who joke about his history affectionately and tongue-in-cheek. Yet all would agree that the Order under his guidance has prospered and its interests have advanced more than they have at almost any other time in its history.
General Physical Condition
“Tell you what we ain’t done yet,” said Graeme’s father, taking a long draw. Almost as if he’d been reading Graeme’s mind, he added, “We ain’t talked to the Courtesans.” “You’re right!” the Abbot said, slapping the table. “We should do that!” He got to his feet. “I tell you, Colin, I ain’t as young as I used to be. My feet hurt!” He laughed at himself. Graeme’s father got up too. “It’s all that bench work,” he teased. “Takin’ the tough out of you. Pushin’ on your belt buckle too.” He shrugged. “Somebody’s got to do it! That’s why they gave me the gold spurs, I guess.”Haywood's hard living has taken a toll on his body. He's on the overweight side, and he occasionally drinks too much. He smokes a pipe and cigars, and he has aches and pains from old injuries. Yet, underneath that softening exterior is a lot of muscle from hard riding and hard work, and his reflexes are lightning-quick.
Haywood has a couple of old bullet and knife scars, and a few old breaks that pain him from time to time.
Leather-tanned skin, bulbous nose that is crooked from having been broken one too many times, thin scar running through the right eyebrow. Lively deep blue eyes surrounded by crow's feet. High forehead, heavy brow. His forehead is furrowed by frown lines, but laugh lines frame his usually-smiling mouth.
Grazing bullet scar on his left arm, bullet scar on his left flank, thin, white knife scars on his hands and arms. Missing the tip of his left pinkie finger from frostbite. The burned-away fingerprints, and scars and callouses that mark every Gunslinger
Right-handed, but almost as proficient with his left, and there is especially little discernible difference between them when using firearms. Walks a bit bowlegged from all the time he spends in the saddle. Takes his hat off and wipes his brow when stressed, whether he is sweating or not. Tends to smoke a pipe when he is thinking hard, cigars when he's relaxed, and cheroots when in the field.
Like all Gunslingers, Haywood can sense the presence of evil, heal the wounded by laying on hands, sense when someone is lying to him, and imbue his holy weapons with the power to kill supernatural creatures, even ghosts (if he can see them to hit them.) He can also do amazing feats with firearms like most Gunslinger can; whether that's due to exceptional training or holy powers, or some combination, no one has ever been able to say.
Apparel & Accessories
Abbot's "Gunslinger whites" - that is, white Stetson hat, leather duster with silver flask in the inside pocket, and boots with gold spurs. Gold belt buckle to match. Dusty, faded jeans. Chambray workshirt. Lasso. Pockets full of sugar cubes.
Music drifted down the street, and looking up, Graeme could see the slowly revolving form of a ferris wheel peaking over the shops on the main street. “Too bad we’re workin’,” Uncle Haywood lamented. “I’d love to do their rodeo.” Graeme’s father snorted. “Old man, you ain’t bucked a bronco in twenty years! You’d break somethin’!” Privately Graeme doubted it. Uncle Haywood was tough as nails underneath his beer belly. Not that either one of them would ever talk about it, but they’d seen some things, him and Graeme’s father. They both had enough scars to tell the tale even so.Haywood was born in a mining community in the Kootenays, the son of a miner and a saloon girl. Jackson Costello raised his son alone for most of Haywood's early childhood, but he was killed in a mining accident when Haywood was eight. He was sent to live with his uncle, Jessie Costello, who was a Gunslinger stationed at Fort Saskatoon. He did not take the change in his circumstances well, and quickly developed a reputation as a troublemaker and a class clown, who refused to take anything seriously. The Augury was unclear when Haywood was tested for the Calling to the Gunslinger Order, so his youth was free of the hard training that often marks the upbringing of a Gunslinger's Apprentice. Still, Jackson Costello insisted that his nephew be proficient with firearms, in case one of the Order's many enemies came calling. Haywood showed a natural talent for quick draw, and a certain coolness under fire that marks a superior gunman. Haywood, however, preferred the company of animals. He quickly made friends with the Gunslinger Horses, and started hanging around the Yorktown Harvest Fair with the bullriders. By the age of 16 he was competing on the Western Dominion rodeo circuit, and he was winning trophies within the year. At the age of 18 he won the Western Dominion Bullriding Championship. With fame came women, whiskey, and way too much love for a good time. Haywood blew his prize money on the follies of young men from poor beginnings with cash burning holes in his pockets.
Then everything changed. Jackson Costello was gunned down by a pair of Desperadoes working in tandem. Haywood, who had spent the night cavorting at a local brothel, blamed himself. He went to the local Judge and asked to be trained to the Way of the Gun. This time, much to everyone's surprise (including Haywood's own), the omens were clear. According to witnesses, a red-tailed hawk stooped down on a weasel as the Augury was performed. Haywood took to the Order with a zeal. He progressed quickly through the ranks until he earned a position as a Circuit Judge. He didn't entirely give up his fun-loving, slightly miscreant ways, however. He and his posse, the Crypt Kickers, laughed and blazed their way through a misspent but productive youth, cleaning up Queenstown and hunting down Outlaws. The group settled down when two of their members, Colin Walsh and Genevieve Avalon (now Genevieve Walsh ) got married. Colin Walsh claimed a Protectorate in the Qu'Appelle Valley. Haywood stayed to help his friend establish the Protectorate and the ranch they were creating to raise Gunslinger horses. On several occasions they were required to defend the ranch against the predations of witches, profiteers, gangsters and Desperadoes. The tales of those exploits are far too extensive for the scope of this work (see The Crypt Kickers Dime Novels ). Then the Council of Judges chose Haywood as their new Abbot when the previous Abbess suddenly passed away in her sleep. The Walshes made the journey to Fort Whistler with their friend to see his Investiture. On the return trip, they were attacked and overwhelmed by a gang of Outlaws. Colin, along with his two-year-old son Graeme Walsh, managed to escape, although Colin was badly wounded. Genevieve was kidnapped by the Desperadoes and held for ransom. Colin eventually made it back to Fort Whistler, and the two friends restored the rest of their posse and set out to find Genevieve, while little Graeme was left in the custody of Crypt Kicker Marie Winters, a Courtesan. What transpired after that will probably never be known unless someone manages to get their hands on Colin and Haywood's Dead Books, because none of the rest of their posse returned, and neither of them will discuss it. Genevieve, however, was successfully rescued. With Marie Winters, and all the Walshes, safely returned to the Qu'Appelle Valley, Haywood returned to Fort Whistler, and threw himself into the duties of the Abbot with gusto. Since then, Haywood has trained more than a hundred young Slingers, has improved group tactics and defenses for Gunslingers, and has even expanded Gunslinger jurisdiction and influence. With a little cultural grooming by competent Courtesans like Ms. Winters, and his natural humour and charm, Haywood has proven to be a consummate negotiator and diplomat. Thanks to his efforts, it is now possible to travel across the length of The Dominion without ever leaving the protection of the Slingers. Most of the Slingers now just affectionately refer to him as "The Old Man" when chatting among themselves.
Wyrd West by Aaron Siddall
Haywood has little patience with academics and prefers action. He left school in the 10th grade to pursue a career as a roughrider.
In his youth, Haywood made a name for himself breaking horses and bucking broncos at rodeos, and earned a tidy living too, until he was Called to the Gunslinger Order.
Accomplishments & Achievements
- Western Dominion Bullriding Champion 286 AtF
- Made Circuit Judge at the age of 25
- Abbot of the Gunslinger Order
Failures & Embarrassments
The loss of Haywood's uncle, and the subsequent loss of his posse-mates, weighs heavily on him. He thinks about it often, and strives constantly to do better.
Haywood suffers from some degree of what the Ancients would have called PTSD. He is haunted by the deaths of people he could not save, and suffers from survivor's guilt.
Despite his lack of patience for formal study, Haywood reads broadly, especially about people. He has a decided philosophical bend that is often hidden by his gruff exterior.
Morality & Philosophy
Haywood is a wholehearted convert to the Way of the Gun. He believes that allowing evil to flourish is both cowardice, and permission for it continue. He has little patience for cowards, thieves, and layabouts.
“Why are you up, Uncle Haywood?” Graeme asked him as they watched the Northern Lights and knocked rye back together. “Oh, aches and pains, mostly,” he said, taking a swig. “Thought a little nightcap might take the edge off. You still thinkin’ ‘bout the fair?” He nodded, taking the flask from the Abbot and putting it to his lips. “I heard this story once,” said the Abbot, taking the flask back. “So there were these monks; a student and a master. And they had rules ‘bout contact with women. There was this muddy stream and they could see a lady was tryin’ to figure a way to get across. Maybe she had lots of pretty skirts or somethin’. And so the master went over, picked the girl up, and hauled her ‘cross the stream, afore the two monks went along their way.” Uncle Haywood’s eyes twinkled. “So the student, he was mortified! His wise, holy master had actually touched a woman! After a while he stopped and asked, ‘Master, you know we ain’t supposed to have contact with women. You told me that. So why did you pick her up?’ And do you know what he said?” “No, sir.” “He said, ‘I put her down when we crossed the stream. Are you still carryin’ her?’” Graeme smiled. “I reckon I am.” “Hard to get anythin’ else done when you got a woman in your arms,” he said with a wink.Haywood Costello has seen even the best of Slingers get killed, and even the best-laid plans go awry. He wants to make the world a safer, better place, and so he works tirelessly to expand the reach of the long arm of the Law, and to train and protect the Slingers under his care. He views all of the Gunslinger Order as his personal responsibility, and is especially interested in looking after the young Apprentices.
Savvies & Ineptitudes
Haywood might be a little old for bronco bucking, but he still loves the sport. He is an amazing trick rider, regardless of the steed but especially with his companion Gunslinger mare, Phantom. He is also an amazingly quick (and accurate) shot. He plays erhu with reasonable proficiency but doesn't take it seriously. He gambles poorly and is terrible with managing his money.
Likes & Dislikes
- Likes: Women, whiskey, animals, having a good time, stopping the forces of darkness
- Dislikes: Elitists, high-falutin' rich folks, cowardice, laziness
Virtues & Personality perks
Patient, good-humoured, faithful, loyal, courageous, free-thinker, good teacher, lives life with gusto and joy
Vices & Personality flaws
Smoker, drinker, overeater, has been known to flirt outrageously when drunk
Teases the people he likes gently, speaks little to the people he doesn't. Puts extra gravy on his fries and extra cream and sugar in his coffee.
Contacts & Relations
That evening all the neighbours gathered to celebrate Graeme’s initiation in the certain knowledge that their next Slinger would also be a Walsh. Piper had spent the day helping her Momma and the hands’ spouses and older children prepare a feast. Uncle Haywood presided over the great barbecue pit, despite having been up all night. “Aw, heck, Jenny,” he’d said to Momma, “I’ll catch up on sleep when I’m dead!” She frowned at the use of her nickname, but Uncle Haywood just laughed and winked at her.Haywood maintains a close, familial relationship with the surviving Crypt Kickers and their families.
As far as anyone knows, all of Haywood's immediate family are dead, though he may have by-blows here and there throughout the Western Dominion.
Worships The Lord and the Lady, follows the Code and the Way of the Gun.
Outgoing, extroverted, friendly, good-humoured. Comes across as a simple man, but is much deeper and more complex than he seems. Hard and uncompromising in the face of evil.
Sniffing through his broken nose, hums to himself tunelessly when working
Hobbies & Pets
His companion Gunslinger horse steed is Phantom, a sturdy, friendly dappled mare
Laid-back Gunslinger drawl, offers good advice in the form of parables and fables. Unfailingly polite to strangers. Never swears.
Wealth & Financial state
Having come from poor beginnings, Haywood has never accumulated a vast store of wealth. Despite an early career as a prizewinning bullrider, and a lucrative career collecting bounties as a Gunslinger, Haywood has only a small nest egg of his own. He spends money almost as soon as he gets it, whether that's on a good time, quality supplies for his trusty steed, or gifts for his friends.
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The Wyrd West Chronicles
Generic article | May 5, 2021
Check out all the published books in the Wyrd West Chronicles so far!
#3 The Vigil
#5 The Reaping
Once Upon a Time in the Wyrd West (Wyrd West Chronicles #1-6)
Gunsmoke & Dragonfire (featuring The Teeth of Winter (Wyrd West Chronicles #7)
Date of Birth
Year of Birth
268 AtF 53 Years old
Circumstances of Birth
Raised by his uncle when his father, a miner, was killed in an accident
Being a Gunslinger does not require chastity -- which is probably a good thing for Haywood, who enjoys the company of women perhaps a bit too much.
Cisgender male; he/him pronouns
Dark blue, squinty, framed by crow's feet
Sunstreaked brown with silver salting, quite thin on the top, somewhat unkempt, usually grizzled and unshaven with white whiskers
6'1" or 1.85m
219 lbs or 99.33 kg
The deputies at the city gate weren’t pleased to see so many Gunslingers. Their wall was a simple wooden bailey, not iron like Queenstown’s. “Trouble, pardner?” asked one of them. “Unless these men are your deputies, we ask all firearms and voltaic weapons be left at the gate.” Then he saw Uncle Haywood’s gold spurs and near swallowed his tongue. “A-Abbot,” he stammered. “Weren’t expectin’ to see you, sir!” Uncle Haywood tipped his hat. “Howdy, brethren! Well, we’re hopin’ there’s no trouble, but yes, these boys’re deputized to our posse. We’re trackin’ a necromancer through these parts. Don’t suppose you’ve seen her, have you?”
Once Upon a Time in the Wyrd West
Organization | May 5, 2021
The Gunslinger Order is perhaps best described as a militant order of holy knights.