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Hither Tarnation 2
The Bone Fright: Act 5 of The Knights Trace in New Spain
© 2022 James LaFond
DEC/3/22
“Count Roland turns alone across the field,
he turns and looks upon the steeps…”
-Jest 2, Defeat
The Knight Brass was groggy, but battle ready, unable to bawl commands without throwing up vomit, so sat his horse before the gate between The Factor, who would command, and A’Quah.
The scouts and long guns were on the forward catwalk.
The men from the station, half to worthless, had been integrated in the depleted station company.
The paiges and farrier sergeants were on the roof of the tower manning the culvern.
On the south side of the river, The Point under the ranger banner was to the right, commanded by Saddler, each man afoot and armed with double iron from the station’s stock, two saddle guns and two pistols loaded to a man.
The livestock was all inside the station.
On the left, were the men of The Forte under the station banner and the Hilt, commanded by Station Sergeant Stoic Joe, with his blunderbuss. Men who did not have muskets taken from the Spanish rabble, two guns and pistols each, waited dismounted.
The musket men on the walls, mostly scullers, were armed with two muskets each and a pistol.
The fair lass posing as Lady Blake, was in the knights quarters of Lone Tower, guarded by the poor freed ranger who had last been whipped for running away from the devil’s goatish henchmen—what were known now to be skinwalkers, devil-turned souls.
Swords and knives were stuck in the ground at the firing line. There would be no reloading. Every weapon was cocked and primed.
There was ample time to consider their plight as those 13 shambling forms ambled on all fours along the dusky meadow, down towards the ring of firelight cast by every torch, cresset and other light source available. These were stoked by the Hinter Station Sergeant who was too rattled of nerve to do aught else and would have infected the line with fear.
Saddler took up a rousing speech.
“Here our bloodied hands gets tested, men!"
Some murmurings among the men.
“Thirteen big-ass sons o’ Satan ‘gainst thirty raw-ass sons o’ bitches!”
Murmurings of a more positive base were heard and Penny Breed screeched out, “En red-skinned prairie niցցers cain’t be beat!”
Chuckles and bitter barked laughter greeted this statement.
“Dey gotz hair en fangs, we gotz da Knight Brass what took a culvern ball ta ‘is brick ‘head en lived!”
The men laughed along the line, appreciating the humor.
“Look at dem big, gape-faced shambling sons o’ Satan, men—come ta ged dey some o’ dis lead we so ‘eavy on. En no rangers eva ‘ave so much gun septin’ one!”
Laughter came with more heart, and some half-forgotten guns were cocked and propped.
“Now men, I gotz ta make a point o’ fam-a-lee honor ‘ere, since I a’ time bounced a whore bastard on me knee, who now da youngess’ brash knight dere eva can be!”
The boys from the yard—those three that were left, howled in acclaim and The Factor, with a voice way over his size, bawled, “The Knight Brash!”
The men were all stamping their feet on the ground, on the catwalk and on the tower roof floor.
The shambling hulks out of hell were now stalled at the firelight’s edge, twenty paces out from the cresset-lit bridge, with six cressets lit across its length.
Saddler yelled to quiet the beating feet, “Here ME! Dat big white sombitch in da middle, dat Wendigo chief—ye all feed yer lead ta dem otha sons o’ ‘ell! ‘cause, da son o’ my gun, ‘as got a tussle wit dat menace ova dat pert Injun princess what aquiver dere on ‘er fair knees!”
The men roared, “Eat lead back ta hell!” and fell silent as the beasts lurked their on all fours.
Brawn, five paces onto the fifty pace stone bridge, turned and looked down to Alissa, who had agreed to be staked out for bait to keep that big beastly wendigo occupied in a mating rights fight. The way they could run and climb The Factor judged it wisest to stake all on one all-in battle, rather than a siege or running fight.
The Knight Brass was concussed and thought her a heroic maid, and The Factor seemed to suspect her of witchcraft. But since it was known that wendigo were all male—like sterile mule apes what came from Sasquatch bulls breeding on Ree and other squaws—it was plain to all, that the big white wendigo, swung like a bull, whose eyes burned only for Brawn and the Indian maid, had come here, for what in Hell passed for love, and what on Earth spelled Monstrous Procreation.
Brawn had given his saddle gun to Saddler.
He held the lance of the Banner Brass in his right hand and his pistol in his left. His sword Shamishar was belted for the draw, cross the front while the toothpick came out left across the back.
The white Wendigo was almost twice the size of the general pack, standing seven feet high on all fours, his shoulder span five feet broad, Saddler guessing “a thousand pounds o’ horny ‘ell.”
His eyes shown white to blue while others were all shot red. The White Bull Wendigo advance ahead of the rest to within ten paces of the rest, keeping the others—eager to rush—back, with shrugs of his hackle-haired shoulders first to left and then to right, his lesser fellows in a terror of him. The boss beast looked up with some intelligence to the cresset lit tower top, where the culvern was.
So Brawn raised his pistol and shouted, “Hold your fire!” and shot off his pistol in the air, dropping it on the bridge behind him and striding out to the center, yelling, “Tower gun: the white bull is mine!”
In the silence, the gun was heard to swivel, indicating that the men manning it had wanted to gun the biggest one. But that was not the caper they were here to run.
Brawn switched the lance to his left and drew Shamishar and shouldered the back of the curved blade across his shoulders. He was conscious of wearing The Second Knight Brass’s war hat, the breastplate having been shattered to scrap. Brass plated gauntlets he wore too.
The white bull raised on his two hind feet and beat his chest with his great black-nailed fists, so that they sounded like a kettle drum. His hair was ten times the length of the general run, white as well, from wool-like down to mountain goat long. No skin could be seen on him accept for his palms.
His fellows howled, howled like wolves, with a husky yelping gurgle at the terminus of their weird cry.
The bull advanced to the stone bridge, paused, looked as if for a trap, and shambled on all fours up to within ten paces of Brawn, who held the mid point. The others shambled up to the river’s edge and stopped.
The thing spoke, almost like a human, but with a thick snouty overtone and a grinding undertone come from the gizzard, Brawn supposed:
“Give her to me.”
“No.”
“Why?”
“I bred her.”
The beast howled in utmost agonizing pain, tears that could have filled a shot glass with one alone splashing from his shaking head as his massive neck worked to and fro in pained disbelief.
It slathered, “I will not harm her—I cannot, will re-breed, wipe out your weak seed.”
“No, I am giving her away to her father.”
The beast began to howl in agony and then choked it down like half digested fury.
“We will leave with her,” it assured in an almost innocent honesty.
“No,” said Brawn, “we came here to hunt you, to drive you to death.”
The thing then squinted at him with clear blue eyes, “This is wrong; with winter we come, you go.”
“Did you know Ole Billy Ree?”
“Yes, Billy, you are he. Return to us, bring her to me.”
“Who are you, Wendigo?”
He paused, sensing that Brawn had decided on combat, and his jowls somewhat sagged, his deep blue eyes developing a clear pupil of azure, and answered, “Blue, Son of Dogfoot Woman, one of you. You, who were you before Billy Ree?”
Brawn grew calm, “They killed my mother and named me Brawn, now Brash—I no longer want this woman, but will keep her from you.”
The great white thing named Blue roared, beat his chest and gnashed his fangs like a wolf as his eyes turned red and his fellows charged across the river and Brawn charged him.
The stone bridge shook under them as they came together and the roar of gunfire, the shouting of men, the thunder of the culvern, and the howls of terrible anguish rose up from the cold uncaring river who would sweep the dead away as aimlessly as this bridge…
To the Readers
This concludes Coil 2 of Ranger?, The Acts of The Knights Trace in New Spain. The balance of the tale will be told in Coil 3, The Acts of The Knights Trace in Awes South to be published online at Lynn Lockhart’s Substack.
Until then, consider it a certainty that The Factor Brass survives the Battle of Hither Tarnation, because he is the only literate soul capable of filling out the after action report in The Journal Brass.
James, LaFond, Exeter, Missouri, Thursday, April 28, 2022
Hither Tarnation 1
ranger?
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blue eyed daughter of zeus
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winter of a fighting life
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time & cosmos
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advent america
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the year the world took the z-pill
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