These are short stories put up each Friday that you can read for free. By the next Friday the post will be taken down and a new one will go up.
Near the southern bluff, about half a mile to the west of the boulder field, Slow Runner narrowed his eyes. That was gunfire he was hearing from the boulder field. Now he knew what those flaming arrows coming from the wetlands had been about.
He frowned – he was too close to his own goal to go back and get embroiled in Quiet Tongue’s fight. Glancing back at the Young Wolf and the five braves behind him, Quiet Tongue knew they’d be alright.
He nudged his horse faster, for the incline was coming up, the rise that turned into a stony trail leading up to the top of the bluff. It was up there that the fiery word had appeared, and Slow Runner meant to kill whoever had had the gall to make it so.
“Hyeh!” he shouted, kicking his horse again. Behind him the others did the same, racing up the bluff.
“They’re comin’!” Amos shouted, for he was the lowest down on the trail, the one tasked with running up when they caught sight of the braves…as they’d known they would.
Peter glanced over at Claude. “Here goes.”
The French-Canadian and now American trapper nodded nervously, gripped his gun all the tighter.
Peter chuckled. “I doubt you’ll be needin’ that.”
“We’ll see,” Claude said, his voice wary, “we’ll see.”
Amos came rushing up to them then and both fell silent.
“How long?” Peter said when the young trapper had settled down with them in a small cleft behind some large rocks. It wasn’t much, but it gave them some cover.
“They should be there in twenty more seconds, by my count,” Amos said.
Peter nodded. “Twenty seconds it is then.”
They began counting.
“Hyeh!” Slow Runner said again, urging his horse on. The trail was steep, steeper than he thought. “Hyeh!”
He was shouting at his horse so loud that he wasn’t paying much attention to things around him. Further back, Small Hill was. The young brave had done a lot with fires and cooking back with his tribe, and that’s why he knew the smell of pitch when he came across it. Scrunching up his nose, he began to slow his horse.
“What is it?” one of the braves called out to him.
“I don’t know…it’s…do you smell that?”
The brave slowed his horse and began to sniff about as well.
“Is that…?” he began, but didn’t get any further.
Up ahead on top of the bluff, Amos reached the end of the count, shouted out “twenty” and then struck his flint and dagger and made sparks. Those sparks caught the trail of pitch and it started ablaze, travelling down the trail to the large field of pitch the three of them had poured out for more than an hour before darkness fell.
“Ah!” Slow Runner shouted as he saw the flames go from a single long line to a raging inferno all about him. Suddenly he was in the midst of it, his horse kicking and screaming and bucking like crazy.
“Ah!” he shouted as the animal got him off, darted for safety, its black mane of hair already on fire, as was its tail. By that time, Slow Runner was as well. His long black hair was burning, as was his head and face and whole body. He screamed and screamed and screamed until he collapsed on the ground and didn’t move again.
He’d been the farthest up the trail, but not the only one in the large field that was now alight. Three other braves had ridden up into it as well as Sturdy Pine, the Young Wolf of the bunch.
Just Small Hill and the brave he’d managed to slow remained. Both sat their on their horses with wide eyes, staring at their companions burning to death before them.
The book is now finished and being edited. Expect it very soon.
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