Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Of Blood and Drink

The following is a passage from a novel I am working on. It is very much a rough concept so far, but I have many ideas planned.

Of Blood and Drink

The water was lucid and reflected daylight as it splashed under their feet while the party drudged onward toward the westward part of the banks. There were six total with one leading the group a few yards ahead. The group struggled to keep up, but the Native was not only familiar with this area, but was determined to lead these few where they needed to go. Trees tall and green surrounded the party in every direction. One could wonder if the Indian guide knew his way around at all. The party drew closer to the dark man as he came to a slower pace.

White Elk stopped and stood looking to the winds as if to receive further instructions. He bends down to adjust his leather moccasin. He wipes his brow with the sleeve of his shirt, now soaked with sweat and the scent of the forest itself. His belt holding his weapon: a tomahawk with a sturdy handle and a carving of a bird’s head at the top with a long narrow blade sharpened to look like the bird’s beak covered in scratches and dried blood. His black damp hair tied into double braids extends down from his head to the dip of his collar bones. He gets his direction again, and increases his pace from before.

The party’s Chef de Voyage, Bon Son proceeded to the front near White Elk. A large man whose presence shakes the very knees of most frontiersmen, does not dare upset White Elk by treading ahead of him. With buckskin trousers nestling a large hunting knife at the waist, and a true to life real Hawken at his ready, Bon Son grew weary of their passage up to this point.

“What did the winds tell you?”

“Chinook greeted us with great warmth” said White Elk. “She told me that the trees are watching for dangers and will let her know when it is not safe for us, Booshway”.

“That is all and fine. My men are growing tired. May we stop and fill our belly’s full of drink?” asked Bon Son.

White Elk did not stop but acknowledged the man with a slight nod and went ahead to scout for a resting point. He found a small nest of brush and fine weeds near the base of a rock formation. White Elk signals the men to come, and they all make camp ready to rest.

The night dropped in like a curtain at the stage. The mountain men under the guidance of Bon Son grew tired after a small meal of beaver and adwerdenty. Bright flashes of orange and yellow flicker and decorate the rock wall behind the party, as White Elk sits alone away from the excitement. Talks of newly explored wilderness and feats of great proportion escape the men’s lips as they drink more whiskey. Even Bon Son, who is usually not a curly wolf, extends lexis in conjunction with the other bearded souls. White Elk just sits away from the warmth looking to the trees that now loom over him. He pulls a small photograph from his leather satchel. The photograph with all its wear still seems bright in the dark impression. The image of a girl no older than twenty appears to the man smiling and peering into his heart. He breathes in slowly and lets out a sigh and shrug as if to somehow let out his very soul to the image. He then grips his tomahawk handle with much vigor and slips the photograph back into his satchel. A snap of a twig awakens White Elk’s weapon from its belted cradle and the Native turns towards the camp. There Bon Son is with a bottle in hand offering it to the guide as if it were payment of sorts for his efforts. White Elk lifts his hand vertical to the sky and shakes his head. Stumbling for a footing, Bon Son accepts the decline and proceeds back to join his fellow voyagers.

The air amongst the wood grows heavy and fleeting. White Elk listens for Chinook, but the winds are not amongst these few tonight. Silence falls over the camp, and out of the brush a snake leaps and catches one of Bon Son’s men. He lets out a wail of unnatural sound as the snake stops and coils to look at the men now awake from their drunken haze. The snake just looks at the men and snarls its fangs and hisses almost to deliver a message. The men step away just enough for White Elk’s blade to finish off the snake’s head. The body uncoils and then becomes motionless on the ground.

“We must leave now”, White Elk starts urgently. “There is great danger ahead and I fear our pause has brought us closer to it. I want to be far from here where our trail recesses.”

The men see to the one’s wounds and quickly gather their items. They all leave camp with fire burned out and empty bottles left behind.

Venturing for what seemed like hours, the whole of Bon Son’s men are still rattled from their mid-night taste of what’s to come. White Elk still ahead of the group now has both knife and tomahawk drawn ready to ward off what he knows, and only he knows is hunting them all. It was closer than he had realized. The thickness of air in the clearing was a sign, but too distraught over the memory of his fallen love White Elk did not realize the signs when he should. Now fully aware the strike of the serpent was clearly the work of panic and fear. Not Fear of the group but fear of what was trailing in the darkness.

As the mountain men struggle now to keep pace, Bon Son sees White Elk stop again. Chinook comes their way, bringing warning, but it is too late. They are all around, and they are ready to kill.

White Elk’s ears focus in on what sounds like a swarm of rushing currents darting through the air. Then in a slow manner to a crescendo the violent currents enter the sight of all in the open. The first spear falls and pierces the one with the snake wound in his chest. The man crumbles as he falls to his knees, blood draining out of his mouth as he tries to signal the others. Panic overtakes the party as more and more spears fall from the night sky. Some landing in the dirt, others into colleagues; White Elk stands his ground as he struggles to look for the origin of the attack. Spears are falling and piercing in all directions. Then in a swift motion, the spears stop. Bon Son is injured but not badly, gripping his left arm just about to stop the blood. White Elk now sees into the darkness. What looks like illuminated wolf eyes staring at what’s left of the company is indeed the party’s attackers.

The voyagers then find themselves in a rush of sorts made up of fierce warriors covered in mud and feathers screaming as they run lifting their oddly shaped clubs in the air. Their open gaps reveal rotted teeth and their heads barely covered by hair in bunches. Their eyes reflect the moonlight perfectly as they proceed to strike down the men in a violent haze of blood and passion.

White Elk’s weapons strike with might as bones and tendons separate under the swift cuts of his tomahawk and knife. A spear misses White Elk’s face and lands in the ground. He grabs the end and with his tomahawk breaks the spear in two. Just as another dark warrior rushes in front, White Elk thrusts the broken spear into the neck of his attacker spilling blood and spit into his face. Three more arrive and surround the young Native. He ducks under a swinging blow of a war club and jams his knife into the leg. He then hits in the abdomen with his hawk and knocks the foe from his stance. Another attempts a head blow with his weapon and White Elk turns and slices the enemy’s wrist with a swift swipe of his knife and finishes with a hack to the upper neck releasing head from ear and spilling brain. The last of the attackers swings with both arms large clubs. White Elk barely ducks backwards under the strikes and hits and takes out the knee spraying bone fragments in an outwardly manner. Gun shots all around fill the air with the smell of black powder as the mud covered heathens close in on their prey.

White Elk hits down another and calls to Bon Son who is seen struggling with one of the demons on the ground.

“Whatever happens, I will get us through this night”

Bon Son hits his adversary in the head with the butt of his Hawken rifle and gains his stance once again.

“What are these creatures?” asked Bon Son.

The mudded war party is starting to diminish. The fight may be over, but both sides have lost brave men. White Elk clears the blood from his trusty blades as the remaining dark souls escape into the thickets. He walks slowly over to Bon Son and reaches out to his shoulder.

“They go by many names. They are the Walking Death to my kinsmen. We have trailed on their land and they see fit to defend its borders”.

“Are they of men?”

“They are what nature needs them to be. They are one of the oldest orders that are from the ancient ways of the earth. The earth’s pains are their killing blows; the anguish brought on by the evils of man is how they are born onto this world. We live to venture on but at great cost. We must press onwards before the earth sends another party this night”.

As both men gather the two remaining mountaineers, they give penance for their fallen friends. The air grows light again and the moon lights the forest for the weary travelers. For White Elk this was a direct message from the earth herself. She is in great pain and only the Spirit Fighter can heal her wounds. For Bon Son it was a lesson not to venture this way again. His duty to his troupe was broken but not lost. The four gather themselves and continue on through the dark until morning light.

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