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Hinter Station 2
Act 4 of The Knights Trace in New Spain
© 2022 James LaFond
NOV/20/22
“A wiley Moor crept upon Roland,
having hidden among the dead.”
-Jest 2, ? Chant
Dark shadows ran on all fours in his dream, leaping down from the dark throne where they gnawed upon human bones, trundling like bears, malformed muscles rippling under their hairy hides—upward they ran, out of cave, through crack and into crevice…
He stood, looking longingly out over the Colorado River, heaving blue here and running white there, a wonderful ocean-seeking beast without a care that would wear its way where. He, wanting to howl for his lost lover, slathering to rip throats from those who so cunningly took her. He saw them there, down in the meadow meandering as if ants along that wintry drink of summer. Nostrils flaring, groans aching, he rose on his hind haunches and howled, howled to the unseen moon hidden in her luminary cave, howled so sorrowfully that his furious fellows forgot their hunger and howled with him, tears streaking their cheeks as dawn streaked the east.
His hips, they were stiff, not made for standing was he, and he eased back down on his front knuckles...and she was under him, pulling him into her, a knife held at his heart—‘What?’
She was licking up the blood that swelled there on his chest, her legs wrapped around his hips, a little thing like a factor’s stylus in her small brown hand, his blood mussing her pouting lips.
“What,” he started languidly.
She kissed his bloody chest, his first hairs glistening in blood under the half-light of dawn, filtered into the canvas tent. She pulled him close with her legs and licked more blood from his chest as she poked with that thing in the half light—“I am almost done, lover, do not stop—fill me.”
Spent, he lay on his back as she bent over him and applied oil to the cross she had poked into his skin, a mourning hump in nunnery robes at the cross’s foot, her face his left nipple. He was calm beyond calm, not tired, but somehow felt new like an old shoe. He realized that another, a wendigo, lurking and gnawing in a cave up high, yearned for her like a lost soul.
She was now dressing him, “Revelry is in mere minutes, Brawn—soon to be Brash.”
The men were bustling all about. There was a heavy tramp of hooves and of feet, jangling spurs and sliding leathers.
She looked up at him, fearful for the first time since he had known her and he saw there, her fear and realized she was weak for all of her wiles. She made to look ahead and he grabbed her by the hair and forced her to look into his eyes. “Your wendigo, did you etch a cross over his heart too?”
A tear escaped her left eye, the other glared icily dry.
She regained her composure with a blink and hissed, “I marked the one whose heart I wish to keep. You breed on us and then fight over us like meat. To Mother Mary and Her Child on the cross I pray that the human-looking one is the strong, his daughter to nurse. If the first to take me proves the stronger, his son shall be my curse.”
He was detached as she continued to dress him and tried to frame her words and his dream through his limited capacity, “Like a bitch got bred by a wolf invites the hound in hopes she’ll bear no wild seed en ‘er master displease?”
“Yes,” she shot him a pained glance, “I am that wolf-bred bitch and you the best hound that could be found.”
He smiled at her and she cried—both eyes, honestly—as she dressed in one motion on her knees and tossed her hair, “Beast that he is, he loves me more than you.”
He agreed, feeling suddenly like a risen star, “Yes he does, woman. Now my socks and boots before you leave.”
She whimpered like a kicked puppy. But went to her work she did, on her knees, dressing his feet, looking up into his uncaring eyes through a tearfall of pain only a woman—he somehow knew—could understand.
She made to leave the tent in a hurry and he grabbed her hair and kissed her cheek and whispered, “Take your blood pen and lantern. I won’t trust ye ta share my bed after I slay ‘im—go.”
For emphasis he slapped her on the butt as she scrambled for these things, her tears coming loose in a blubber, her whole being running from him as he somehow knew she had not run from her beastly lover.
He recalled the gross proportions of the Wendigo—who were all male, those they had seen, like a bull and a stallion, and he became coolly focused, walking in his mind—not raging or fuming—but hunting to kill her beast.
‘Up with you cuckold to a monster. Face the dreadful day.’
‘Who are you inside of me?’ he mused as he gathered his belt and weapons.
‘What part of me is he that Ole Billy Ree let see?’
Saddler and Penny Breed stood to Attention, the entire camp already geared, saddled, at attention, The Knight Brass grinning in haughty joy, smiling wide at the crying, flying squaw, thundering, “And a rake to boot!” slapping him hard on his back and facing the circle of men as Alissa ran crying to the softly curved lass meant for her brother, who Brawn now wanted for his own.
The Knight Brass fairly roared, “Men—all of you, not a boy here, every one a ranger, a sergeant or a knight—I give you, The Knight Brash!”
The brass trumpet blared and the men cheered and The Squire Brass brought Brawn Don Silver’s war sword, a great sweep of steely edge, crossed crooked wise in the Hindoo fashion rather than cupped. The Squires whispered, “A Sikh Shamishar of Fabled Hindoory—the best blade made beyond Toledo and Damascus.”
The men cheered and the horn blared as he took the sword in its silver scabbard.
Then, The Knight Brass took the hand of his squire and bellowed, “The Knight Brash is hereby raised to that rank, by The Two Knights Brass. We are three, whole of heart and thirsty for battle and committed to driving back the devils of Wendigory!”
“You who live with victory shall each be a sergeant raised!”
Brawn looked at The Factor Brass, who grinned that he was not idiot enough to accept the knightly post, yet stepped down off of his mount, as tall as the other two noble men, but lank, and entered a huddle hug with them. As the men cheered The Factor, by far the smartest man in Sword Brass, hissed, “Do not expect me to play Archbishop Turpin to your Roland, Oliver and butchered Ganfree—I intend to live to see civilization again. But cheers to you three Knights Lunatic!”
They grinned and hugged, slapped backs, and turned to salute the men. The ranks all raised their weapons, in cheer, happy to have now three meat shields committed to leading from the front and soaking up the maximum quantity of bullets, arrows and strokes.
The Factor then said to Brawn, “You will not command, until your betters have fallen. As Underknight, your duty is to Second The Knight Brass, to preserve his life. This you have done once. Once you have done it thrice, only then will you be a full knight.”
“Yes, sir.”
The Factor patted him on the back with a hand that said, “Trust me, for I know the way.”
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