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Hinter Station 1
Act 4 of The Knights Trace in New Spain
© 2022 James LaFond
NOV/19/22
“By my right arm I pledge,
and by the beard that flutters down my breast…”
-Said Old Blancendrin, First Jest, First Chant
The Knight Brass himself brought the Indian seductress masquerading as the maid to The Lady Blake to their humble ranger fire, where they played a game of cribbage—Brawn and Saddler—a three way game, with them taking turns playing Stock Issue’s hand. At other fires, hands were played for Can’t Jew and the Station Sergeant.
They made to stand at attention and The Knight said, “No, play your man’s last hand.”
They tipped their hats and The Knight, motioned to the gray destrier taken from the camp of Don Silver, “I have named this horse after Archbiship Turpin’s steed, Wide Awake. He is yours Sergeant—as is the maid Alissa, until she is needed for her lady’s breakfast and tea in the morning.’
Brawn made to rise and thank in a single motion and the Knight gave him the staying hand, “You fight by my side—I’ll not play at King with the brave.”
And the weird knight walked off into the fading light.
The woman, now named to him for the second time, his first to remember, dismounted and tended to the horse like a mestizo demi-scout what knew his business from the papoose. She then came to them in her blue dress, dragged over the heavy saddle before Stock Issue’s losing hand and took up his cards and said, “The poor man-murdered boy should at least win this hand,” and she commenced to murder the both of them in the game as sure as The Sword Brass felled the rabble of Don Silver. Her peg passed them by and left them in a distant gaggle fighting for second place in the elliptic peg race.
“Well I’ll be good en goddamned,” quipped Saddler; “The Lady here knows her cards, she does.”
Her eyes regarded them both, and when she slid them sideways left to glance at Penny Breed, that worthy savage ducked his head under a pilfered poncho. Returning her eyes to Brawn, she batted them and soothed, “You have finally remembered my name, Lover.”
He licked his lips as he regarded her hips absently, and, as Saddler snorted, “I’ll be a lusty brute’s uncle—ye know she’s Uppity Mighty o’ New Spain—clear to me en The Factor, too, dough Our Brave Knight Brass only sees a princess in dat fair milky lass.”
Alissa regarded Saddler and smiled, a smile that was the very simultude of womanly wile, “Compliment’s Sergeant, on not compounding your crudity with stupidity.”
“Lady, yer secret’s safe wit me.”
“Yes,” she said, “for you wish to leave these soon-to-be-dead to serve my Father, Don Blake—a ruse I might recommend.”
“A caper o’ arms, Lady?”
“No,” interjected Brawn.
They both regarded him harshly and he continued, “We need Saddler against the Wendigo. I have no leadership and the Knight, ah, he’s optimistic.”
Saddler regarded him for a fool and she pursed her lips and slid her hand down the unseen bruised expanse of his inner right thigh where his horse rolled him when this dead day was newly born. She then stretched out on her knees and kissed him.
Reclining back upon the dead man’s crib saddle, she collected the cards and said in sultry tones, “We cannot leave until the hell-beasts are fought—either up Heaven’s Stair or by parley. If victory, I’ll name my escort to The Knight Brass as Saddler.”
She then patted her belly, “Though I didn’t have a name in his heart until now, I have what I need of surly Brawn—who may, Sergeant, as you guess be too high-minded to be your spawn.”
Brawn had an urge to grab her and drag her into the tent.
Noting his abrupt twitch and his regaining of poise, she laughed like the morning spheres, “Please, do, Future Knight Brash.”
Such a light and well-knit thing should not be so self-assured while she was dragged by her lustrous hair into the place of her use. But she purred in brazen contentment as Saddler warned Penny Breed, “Breed, keep dis unda heed en I’ll name ye me secon’ fo dat fair land o’ fair women—wondrous wanton as ye see, even dem datz High Uppity.”
Night fell in a sensual fury. Before the moon was risen Alissa, produced a mini-lantern from her purse, lit its wick, and produced the deck of cards she had taken from them.
“Do you want the cribbage board?”
“No, Love.”
She then sorted the deck and mused, “A game of faces, Lover. This is not the deck which I typically consult, though it will do.”
Alissa was sorting through the cards, setting aside all of the numbered cards, except for four. From those, she produced one after the other and pointed to the symbol, obviously for him to answer:
“Three of diamonds.”
She smiled, “Pentacles,” darling, sorcerers, alcemists and such, schemers who have only become associated with precious stones due to the assent of conspiracy over decency.
“Ten of hearts.”
She smiled wider, “Cups” my dear, the noble class, the knightly class who drink and sing and fight lustily but with little brains—your beloved Roland being paramount.
Her hair brushed his still barren chest and thrilled him...but to her game… [1]
“Eight of spades.”
“Her eyes narrowed, “Swords, My Love, royalty, kings those who seize and hold power, even if for a mere day, a battle, or for crusade.”
Hesitant he asked, “Three of, clubs?”
“Ah, so glad you do not reckon us cudgels. This is the clover, the magic of the earthly folk, the native people, the scent of this hair you like so. My mothers and my grandmothers all; Indio, squaw—a few even princesses. Don Blake the First was as fair as you, in 1807 when he took service with Spain. After 234 years we never see blond hair and rarely blue eyes—our noble blood flows thin. This is why I came for your love—or one like you.”
She then pulled out a joker, shown in his comic cap and collar spilling cards.
“The joker?”
“Try Jester, like the composer of The Song of Roland you know so well. All of these other cards are his pawns, strings to his harp, rhymes in his story. The jester among cards supplants Lady Fortune and the scheming Norns and Furies—he is the poet in time.”
She then shuffled the face cards on his chest and blew a kiss across his belly, “So strong, so much Brawn, so worthy of a hero song. You will die before you let the wendigo take me, this true I know. This is why I stay so long...besides you make my shadowed heart sing. I’m not so strong as I seem.”
“I draw, you guess, who or what among the Three Knightly Awes or among the Dons of New Spain, is:
[ace of hearts]
“I don’t know.”
“Brawn, soon to be The Knight Brash—you lover, with the heart to help and the wit to win.”
“I’m getting it.”
[ace of spades]
He grinned, “The Factor Brass!”
“Yes, Brawny love…”
[king of diamonds]
“Don Silver!”
“Yes, the fallen conspirator.”
[ace of clubs]
“You, Alissa!”
“Of course,” she smiled widely.
[jack of hearts]
“One-eyed jack, sharp spying, loyal...Praying Trigger Tim!”
She winked seductively in agreement, “You are so smart, Lover.”
[king of clubs]
“Don Blake, your father.”
She blew him a kiss and dealt:
[queen of spades]
“Ah, why, I have no idea.”
“They say, Lover that she summons swords with song in a northern Wester English convent.”
“The Rose Lady of Whitefish Nunnery, she would be, have heard it said she purified Knights Trace there with song unseen—sings to rangers even who ride back from there transformed.”
[king of hearts]
“The suicide king—The Knight Brass for a certain.”
She smiled and dealt:
[jack of spades]
“The black one-eyed jack—gots ta be Sarge!” he whispered... and she grinned and dealt:
[queen of clubs]
“Yer ma, I’d say.”
“Thank you, Lover...it is true and she has eyes as sad as this careless wrought depiction.”
[queen of hearts]
He scratched his head, “In the spirit of the game, I’d say your fair maid.”
She hissed, “Of course, but she is not for you! Not, for, you, Lover! She will be bred by my brother, has the hip and breast to make me an auntie ten times.”
[jack of clubs]
“I don’t know.”
“Could be anybody, the next promotion, the Squire maybe distinguishing himself at last.”
[queen of diamonds]
“Can’t say.”
“She remains unseen but not unfelt—perhaps a witch of Voodoory?”
[ace of diamonds]
“Ole Billy Ree?”
“Maybe,” she frowned and dealt:
[king of spades]
“The Comanche Chief, A’Quah for a certain.”
She agreed and dealt the final card:
[jack of diamonds]
“A traitor sergeant of some kind, or the paige turned coward?”
“Possibly,” she agreed as she stacked the cards and put them away, tweaking her own nipples hard, “I hope I milk up enough. I don’t want a mestizo wet nurse choking our baby with her thick slurry, and Dear Ellen will not be pregnant until two months after me—this will be my only baby and I want blue-eyed milk for her.”
She mounted him, kissed him and whispered, “This is our last love to make—I don’t want you to forget me.”
“Slim chance there,” he said huskily. “But why me, why choose me?”
She kissed him, “Because you thought yourself too good for love, too good for me by far, even too good for fair milky Lady Blake of golden-haired fantasy.”
She bit his lips slightly and hissed, “You have your horse, your gun, your knife and now a sword to be presented to you at revelry. Little Alissa only has these lips, these eyes, these hips, these kisses to magic thee. Don’t forget me, young Knight Brash, when you fight the Oldens of Night.”
Since she put it that way, he rolled her over and fell into yet another box canyon of desire.
“Take me to Hinter Station now!” she growled as her arms threaded about his neck and pulled him closer into her night-haired net.
He woke in the night, with her pouring warm wax over his heart and kissing it, and then anointing his private parts with oil and praying over his manhood, holding and counting on her rosary, and kissing the emblem of Mother Mary, like a nun before a cathedral altar.
‘Uppity ups are insane, and women are insane, so, what can a ranger expect this far from the reasonable light of day then the two sorts of branded lunatic are one in the same?’
Notes
-1. Ace, Standard Face playing cards with English-Spanish label, used for this writing.
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