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The Hinterbeast Roared…
Prentice Dolphin Chapter 7
© 2021 James LaFond
…whistling into their faces its stinging, ice-shard spittle, the crags towering to east and west, here the path descending from north and from on high, sending momentarily a shiver into his soul.
‘If God did not will it, how would this come, and why from On High?’
“Let the Holy Ghost take you. Do not lose Faith.”
‘That was unsaid, unbidden. The men, they are at attention. Their Justice is not at hand. I am needed.’
He wanted dearly to lean on the Elder Pikeman, to ask after Justice Claret and his absence. But he must keep Faith.
Before and above them loomed a tongue of grinding ice, sounding like stone sanding stone in a mason’s yard. The very tongue of the ice now choked the pass save for a narrow track around it. The trees of the terrible forest were now gone, apparently affrighted by the ice like any other living being.
The “roar” of the Hinterbeast, this thing of hungry, descending, questing hoar, ground out again like a groan within the mountain and the start on his face moved the Elder Pikeman to educate him as he fumbled for his rosary pouch.
“Prentice, the ice grasps rocks, boulders as big as houses, and grinds and gouged the mountain face like the pox and the fever does to man. Every winter—and now even in autumn, it grows. And never a summer does it retreat. When I was a cadet, the ice had yet to descend the mouth of this pass a mile above. Justice Claret reckons that by the time you are his age, that the ice will be tumbling down over the gulch into Outer Soliloquy, the last stones of the Old Baily like grit embedded in it’s undertongue, like sandpaper to scrub the soil from stone be-like a carpenter planes bark from plank.”
He wanted to wretch, to cry, to ask of God. But God had unleashed Satan and his beast to test Man, and here Man would pass that test and rise up in Crusade...
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