~ EL HEAD ~
Chapter 1 · Chapter 2 · Chapter 3 · Chapter 4 · Chapter 5 · Chapter 6 ·
Chapter 7 · Chapter 8 · Chapter 9 · Chapter 10 · Chapter 11 · Chapter 12 · Chapter 13 · Chapter 14 · Chapter 15 · Chapter 16 ·
Chapter 17 · Chapter 18 · Chapter 19 · Chapter 20 · Chapter 21 · Chapter 22 · Chapter 23 · Chapter 24 · Chapter 25 · Chapter 26 ·
Chapter 28 · Chapter 29
CHAPTER 27 :THE DIRTY BUSINESS OF WAR
"Yea and it came to pass that the Lord Christos appeared before Arthur, King of all the Britons and said unto him,
Hand me the sword, Excalibur. Arthur did as asked. Christos grasped the sword by the palms of his hands,
opening his old wounds. Christos' blood dripped upon Excalibur, causing it to burn with a crimson light.
Holding the sword towards hilt first, By this cross have faith, by this sign conquer,
by this sword prevail, by this sword baptise with blood."
Prophecies of Merlin
January 2, 1871
After leaving the Navaho, we traveled to the spot where the 9old had been buried. Walsh and Dio dug it up and secured it on the pack animals which the Navaho had given us.
We were very close to Ryan, even Walsh could sense his presence.
I had a quite uneasy feeling about this confrontation with Ryan, not fear exactly but a constant feeling that I had underestimated his power.
Bishop Walsh kept up a constant litany of how he would crush Ryan in a bear hug and smother him in the tarry flesh of his chest.
Dio just giggled at the image of Walsh hugging someone in that manner, making certain lewd comments which Bishop Walsh suffered with ill humor.
We made a detour from our direct path of interception with Ryan to stop at a nearby town. Although he was a bald and red faced fire scarred, hunch backed dwarf, Dio was also the most normal looking member of our band, so he was elected to go into town and purchase some arms and ammunition.
Walsh took a Loomis shotgun filled with iron pellets for his own particular weapon. My own choice were two Pettengill six shooters held fast in untiring hands, my arms securely strapped to the sides of Brirnstone by means of the cinch straps.
Dio took a Wheelock six shooter and a Winchester rifle, although he prefered weapons of a more primitive sort. He had chipped an obsidian knife from material found in the crater, he had made a razor sharp boomerang from the Black Scorpion's stinger and he had made a blow gun from a hollow feeler on the Scorpion. Cactus thorns, soaked in the fluid of the venom sacs became poisonous darts.
Although small in stature, Dio was in truth much more the warrior than was I. All during the War between the States, at least during my active campaigning, I had been concerned more with saving my own hide than fighting for the Cause. My enlistment with the local Militia had been during the first heady days of war, caught up in the enthusiasm and patriotic fervor.
My first few days of mud, rotten supplies and actual combat had greatly eradicated my fervor for the Cause. Although a West Pointer, I had never seen actual combat and the bloody reality jarred hard with the romantic notions of warfare Southron leaders had been declaiming for years. After seeing several companions die in this organized slaughter, I opted to leave my command and did so in the thick of battle when I would be least noticed.
I felt rotten about it, not because I was leaving some friends in a lurch or betraying my nation or any of that, but because I knew that the desertion would be a blot on my record. But I had decided better a blot on my record than a shot in my head. During my flight I was captured by the Yanks about a mile from my regiment and taken to a prison camp. When they offered me the chance to fight Indians out west, I took it. At least it was not the impersonal mechanical slaughter of modern warfare.
Dio however loved to fight, more than that he loved to put himself in danger, in situations where he could get hurt or killed. Danger was some kind of thrill for him. He was a good marksmen with his weapons and since taking in my flesh he had grown quite strong, these attributes made his devil may care attitude more entrenched. He cared nothing about what Ryan had done, only that here was a chance to vent his blood lust.
As we rode in a single file, Dio and the pack horse taking up the rear, he would send his deadly boomerang whizzing over our heads, often barely clearing the horses ears. It would climb high into the sky and then curve backwards, returning at twice the velocity. Yet he always caught the curved stinger in one of the two places where it was not razor sharp.
Walsh often interrupted his revenge fantasies on Ryan to curse at Dio, increasing Dio’s mirth and making him more determined to continue his annoying little habit.
On our third day after retrieving the gold, we came across a small band of Indians mounted on ponies. These particular savages wore sleeveless or long sleeved shirts and moccasins with upturned toes. Although they hailed me in Navaho as Head Man Who Tamed the Iron Bronco it turned out that they were Walapai
These Walapai were refugees, escapees from the general round up of the Walapai by Federal forces. There was this little thing called the Walapai War, which was an excuse to get rid of some troublesome natives who were sitting on gold rich lands. In 1866, some Anglo prospectors killed a Walapai leader and the Walapai retaliated. The Anglos retaliated even harder resulting in the Walapai being rounded up and put on the reservation at Camp Beale Springs.
These ten men would not live as reservation Indians but had sent their families to Camp Beale until they could find some place where they would not be persecuted. They had not found such a place after years of searching and their families had either died or become white.
Dio asked if they were interested in helping us to get rid of a very important white man, one who planned to wipe out all the Indians if he acquired the proper medicine.
They would fight with us, for a cut of the spoils of Crowded Point and Ryan's troupe.
Now I did think it was an odd coincidence that I kept meeting Indians by chance, so after they slept, I had Dio put a pinprick of my flesh on the tongue of three of the warriors. As I had suspected this was no coincidence. Rock Horse had informed these warriors that this would be a battle to end all battles, that if I were victorious that their families, who had been killed or had died on the reservation, would be avenged. If I failed, as Rock Horse was certain I would, then the Walapai would die a great warriors death.
In five days we exited a narrow canyon passage of the Little Colorado River emerging onto a wide plain. In the distance we saw a small town which had grown up around this strangely shaped rock, tall and thin but for a rounded top.
Ryan was there, waiting for me. I knew it, and he knew it
Chapter 1 · Chapter 2 · Chapter 3· Chapter 4· Chapter 5· Chapter 6·
Chapter 7· Chapter 8· Chapter 9· Chapter 10 · Chapter 11 · Chapter 12 · Chapter 13· Chapter 14· Chapter 15· Chapter 16·
Chapter 17· Chapter 18· Chapter 19· Chapter 20 · Chapter 21 · Chapter 22 · Chapter 23· Chapter24· Chapter25· Chapter 26·
Chapter 28· Chapter 29
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