Click to Subscribe
Second Hymn
Forest of Long Dark
© 2023 James LaFond
“In the midst of this our mortal life,
I was gone lost into a forest dark,
Astray from the straight and narrow way,
Life I lived adrift on a bitter bark
Toiling the savage way,
in bitterness, donning deathly cloak,
When from the true path I turned away.”
-Canto 1, JH [0] after Jest Hayward’s fresh convention
Notice by Carrier Pigeon to Priory Bliss
In light of the various acts of deviltry and the very risings of Tarnation into New Spain and Awes West and up from dastard Voodoory, in this The Year of Our Lord 2031, the prior of whom has reviewed the deeds of Plague Doctor Brendan Felt, in Vale Bernie, on the every day the cranes did flee for fresher fields, has come to conclude:
That the three English servants bound over from Iron Forge, Hinter New Ireland, three years hence, and did run faithlessly away this past Wednesday Second, were mere guilty of the said sin, and not the miasma said by Doctor Felt to have by them been spread in service to Tarnation. That Brung Hay, Brit Grub and Jack Tun should have well and good been hung, is this Prior’s opinion.
It is further found, that the burning at the stake of these three souls was the cause of weird and damned risings, of monstrous sightings and that these were in the specific brought into being by the rising of the ashy taint of sinful grease of the three damned souls up into the Chalk Creek wind, which is rare and thought to have arisen from a Utesh powwow of an accursed sort aimed at vexing the buffalo hunt of the Shoshone, or of the Shoshone medicine men chanting up against the Red Razor-Tooth Giants they do say have returned.
In part, due to the unfortunate happenings at the home of Goodman Plowbent, it is the thought of this Prior, of Virgil’s Eve, that the actions of Plague Doctor Brendan Felt and his Purgation Troop were miscalculated, and rather than purge evil did summon evil into this fair land under that unwholesome nether cloud of thunderous aspect that did portend these things; and further, that such again nethersome clouds were seen to be awaiting Felt’s Purgation Troop as it ascended Beaver Creek Canyon to Bald Mountain Pass up Providence Falls.
Now that Purgation Troupe Felt is beyond Bernie Jurisdiction, may Angels guide their souls and Jesus Christ render mercy on their behalf. It is hereby decreed that runways, as of old, mere be hanged, unless they take The Lord’s Holy Name in vain, or in some other crude wise directly profane his name. In such events, drawing and quartering will do as punishment. Only such as are foul fiends of corrupted form, being monstrous births or devilish risings, shall be burned.
-Prior Anson Bell, Vale Bernie, Underprior of Virgil’s Eve, September, Sunday Third, 2031, in concord with Just Lord Anson Bernie, in passing fair and absolved judgment upon Goodman Kyle Plowbent [1]
-0. after Jest Hayward’s fresh convention, desired by the nunnery choir, in overture to Lynn’s Hymn
-1. The Underpriory of Virgil’s Eve is so named for it is situated above Bliss, which is below in the high basin upon The New Dead Sea, and is the highest known stone church to have been built, a full league higher than Denver Station, which has no church. It is thus the pride, and the roof coping and rain gutter and snow shed of Bliss, vaunted as the Highest Stone Church north of Far Peru, and of a certain the most elevated in all of New England.
Up Shingle Creek [1]
“Scarce the ascent began
when Lo, did a panther appear…
the cunning hide of that swift animal so inspired,
ye forest was entered in the very spites of fear.”
-Canto 1, JH
Lynn had walked woodenly to Mother Mary of Bernie’s shrine in the back of the cow shed, where it had for generations been thought to encourage milk giving, and there she prayed, prayed numbly. She knelt and prayed solemnly, stricken by the prospect that her wedded husband for life was a man who busied himself with assigning guilt for the woes that afflicted humanity and for seeing those poor souls ushered off to Hell’s vile gripes in the most brutal manner.
“Lynn, Lynn, sounded the voice of Way Hayward behind her, it is dark now. You must come to the house.”
Numbly she heard herself as if from afar reciting, “Mother Mary, full of Grace,” and with a heavy booted tramp on the worn fir kneeling plank, the jingle and slink of mail was heard and a heavy hand grabbed her by the shoulder and lifted her, the rough hand of a giant of a man, bruising her shoulder. Even so, as she peeped to her senses, the gruff voice that commanded that hand told of a looming plight intolerable, “Up with ye, nunny [2] ϲunt!”
Way mumbled something weakly and Lynn was dragged out of the shrine, into the cooling night air, and to the house, all around which were camped a retinue of slavish brutes, a man with a hood and a headsman’s ax even!
Two boys and two girls [3] were shackled to the porch roof posts.
Into the house, well-lit within with all of the candles and lamps the Plowbent’s had on hand, Lynn was dragged, dragged to the foot of the dinner table. At the head of the table sat a man in black robes and beaked mask, under a shrouded slouch hat. His shoulders were narrow, his sunken breast hung with a cross of silver, and his thin hands gloved in black felt. All in dour black was he draped.
‘Darla, but he has no face? As well, I reckon myself to be thrice his strength.’
Kyle spoke, with a cracking voice, “Lynn your bride price is payed. The marriage will be performed on the morn at Virgil’s Church. Cider and tea is up. Please, Lynn, a chicken for the pot. I think the runner away will do, and that gimp hen for to roast by the retinue.”
“Yes, Master Plowbent,” she answered woodenly, with some brass she thought, sounding what seemed to echo a clear resignation to her plight, but with a bit too much bite. Her new masters sensed it was so, she could feel it in her soul, down dark, coyote low.
The faceless man, now sipping cider through a straw through his beak, above a narrow shouldered frame, spoke in a voice, not deep, but rather pinched, as if a clothes pin were affixed to the unseen nose, in a kind, not a cruel tone, “Runaway chicken, served by one so fair, Wife Lynn, I should think will taste of beefy crane. Thank you.”
Lynn bowed and turned and the kind voice glinted behind her with a taste of steel, but not brutally, yet with a sense that the speaker held deep his right and knew of his might, “Armiger Lanceman, assign Runnagate Trent to assist my Dear Wife with the hens, and the dressing too, Dear Wife.”
It was plain to Lynn, in the stance, gait, mood and tone of these people, that they had a sense for the willful, for the runner, who might make off, and that she had been, in the brutal subtext of their plague cant, named as such and marked a watched woman. [4]
‘How is it that slave-catchers and plague doctors mix so to become but witch-finders?’
So she mused, not idly, but fiercely, outside of herself, her mind taking off far beyond the flesh of the person she knew to have been bought and sold.
Lynn bustled on out the door, ignoring the three figures with her, Way Hayward being one, and knowing with a pain in her heart that Darla was possibly in more pain over her wedded plight. She declined to even glance towards Granny’s lantern lit porch. The camp fires, two of them, of the plague doctor’s retinue, were near to left and right, her walking between the two specter-attended lights, with not a look to spare for those warming there, who were many.
‘Granny, he has no shoulders to speak of, no eyes to check their lights, no jaw to even present a jut of chin. This is a cruel jest, too cruel for me to bear. Forgive me, but they marked me right, a runner I am, a whore of no nation and bound for the bitter wells of a living tarnation...know always, Sweet Granny Darla Dane, that I love you.’
They were at the sunset door, Way Hayward holding a lantern behind them as the hen house peeped and creaked in the blustering wind. The dark clouds whirling above had ushered in an early night.
‘Why, Way, you almost want me to get away, otherwise you would be moving around to the sunrise door which they have not divined—these fools who have not once worked before, never having fetched but one egg for their plate.’
She was the hen maid, knew her business and spoke it firm, to the broad-boned beastly mug of a man next to her, the both of them less in combined size and weight than Armiger Lanceman, looming he behind them like a meaty tree dressed in mail:
“I must light the lantern first, that hangs in the middle, then you grab the biggest one, with the big red comb on its head, otherwise he’ll go for your eyes while we get the runner hen, for she is his favorite you must know. Then I will grab her, and a fat brown and off to the butcher block we go.”
‘I cannot even bear to think of Gimpy in the pot, what an injustice, not enough meat on her to fatten a mouse.’
As she said this and thought that, she nodded in the direction of the tiny shed, with the aspen round butcher block and hatchet just within the open maw of the ultimate destination for chicken kind, and thought, ‘Just like Hell yawns for us with greedy flame of tongue.’
Lynn entered with a swing of her dress, her wooden shoes sliding easily across the straw, to the lantern hung in the midst of the great chicken hall, the hens quiet, sensing as if Grendel and his very Mamma had entered their Little Heriot’s hall. The place had one tiny source of illumination, the wee, slow pitch, long-burning candle suspended over a wire-hung wax catcher pan near the lantern, that she lit before dark, when she called the hens back up into the coop.
Lynn lit the lantern with the wee wire sap candle, looking away as she made certain the open face was at the catcherman’s eye level. He squinted barely, wily and dog-like as he was, and before he sorted a single chicken with his eyes, spied as if by instinct that there was another door and roared, “Boss, dere anotha’ door!”
Lynn threw the lantern at those bare, broad feet and those dirty man hooves did dance as the straw lit up and the hen squawk din took up. Feeling sick that she might be killing many of her chickens by the very terrible way her betrothed had done for who knew who down on Cavalry, Lynn snatched up Gimp Girl and ran out the sunrise door. Into the dark, above a dangerous ditchy creek, flames roaring to life behind her as an army of chickens surged out the door at the wake of their very passing goddess, their wings flapping in the night, she hoped lending lightness to her clog-shod feet.
The bawl of Armiger Lancer was a thing to inspire terror, “Runnagate, after her!”
“Yez Boss!” the beastly little man yelled.
Then, as she clog shuffled down the way she knew so well, even in the dark, being where runnagate chickens made off to and thieving raccoons too, the Armiger’s terrible voice made her tremble, for she had not noted in any detail the composition of the mob that attended the man who she would ever liken in her mind to Fate’s Disaster, “Rangers! Houndsmen! Breed!”
‘Oh, Mother Mary, wing my feet with the slippers of Beatrice—they’re setting rough-riding men, hounds and a half-Indian on me too!’
-1. The original working title of this novel.
-2. Nunny is an insult to a lay women who focuses on church and prayer rather than her worldly chores, and in this way fails in service to country, and mimics the service of true ordained nuns, necessarily of noble family, to God, regarded as the least form of heresy by the clergy.
-3. Boys and girls are slaves, an English convention since the 1500s in Elder Earth and in Lost Earth.
-4. Slave-catching, wytch-finding and plague-cleansing are similar professions practiced by troupes of traveling laymen of the upper peasant class. These found approval for such above the station of merchants, who no man does trust, and serve the function of absolving the actual clergy of such unsavory business and of assisting certain rough lords in the technical business of factoring the King’s Law in the light of God’s Law. Such Troupes must operate under strict license issued by a prior, bishop or archbishop, and in this ascending rank. Purgation Troupe Felt was of Priory rank as are all in Wester New England. Slave-catching and wytch-finding, do of necessity, involve the Purgation Troupe in transport, sale and purchase of such chattels, by which it sustains itself as a roving adjunct of The Law.
Dinner with Fate’s Disaster
The Heather to Seek
america the brutal
songs of aryаs
uncle satan
beasts of aryаs
barbarism versus civilization
the lesser angels of our nature
Ruben     Jul 11, 2023

As damned good as ANYTHING ever written!
  Add a new comment below: