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    • Barnabas listened, understanding the young mans desire to venture out, and also his hesitance to leave his sister behind. Life has those twists and turns that are possible blocks to what feels like their calling. "Well, you know, there are ways that you could manage that education, and there are ways that Lillian here could go with you." Then he cautioned, "I would certainly hesitate to travel to the Dakotas until the Indians are pacified. I'm sure they are filled with the power of their defeat of George Custer."   "Then again, should you attend the university, things could be settled before you graduated and ventured out. Education is a fine thing, Tom, whether you use it here, or the Dakotas, or wherever  you might venture forth. I only wished I had had the luxury of education beyond what I managed at my mothers knee and that one room school house in Texas." But fortune had smiled on him, the poker hand and what he had brought him, and then Em. His life was good, all things considered.
    • Their cab driver was waiting for them, he'd stayed close, alert to when they would return, and he was content, having had a wonderful lunch that Mrs. Pike had had packed for him.  Now, he helped get the remains of their picnic loaded, then made sure everyone was settled, with blankets in case they needed them, and started back for town.   "That was a wonderful outing!" Emeline declared, chuckling.  "Although I think I ended up with half the beach in my shoes!"  That had been something she hadn't thought about when going barefoot...putting the shoes and socks back on had been a challenge, especially with no way to keep the sand out!   She settled in, wrapping a blanket around her knees, since the hem of her skirt was damp, then rested her head against Barnabas' shoulder and was soon asleep.  Across from them, Lillian was also dozing.   "Thank you for letting us come with you, sir," Tom murmured quietly, "my sister works too hard and it's good for her to have some fun.  And I appreciate the advice.  College sounds like a good plan, if we can afford it.  I'd love to go to Montana or the Dakotas, but I don't want to leave Lillian."   @Flip
    • "Guess you're right about just showin' up at the ranch like that." He agree, and that is kind of you, but I've cash put by for this trip I've made. The hotel does sound good. And the local fare? Which is the best place to eat. Lookin' for big steak dinner I am. Been sometime since I was able to get somethin' like that. It was a trip to remember, long, hard, and with every temperature you could imagine."   It had been that and a bit more. There had been Molly McGuire, he was missing her, but Kalispell would not be the place for her if all that had been said came to fruition between Lost Lake and the Evergreen. He had waltzed in on what could be a real corpse and cartridge affair, and one that went on an on til they forgot what it was about, or who started it.   "I appreciate your offer, and your council about town and holdin' off till the ranch hands were in town. I'll do just that. @JulieS    
    • Benjamin gave up on the fruitless pursuit of the surviving war party, they were down a six or so anyhow and more than likely just heading back to their home village. If it was one thing the US cavalry learned about chasing Indians, you didn't catch 'em.  Best horsemen in the world maybe. So he ordered his scouts and troopers to turn back and then spent the better part of a few hours just getting back to the rest of his command. It being dark did not help at all but the scouts were up to the task.   Once back he found out that a lot had happened - almost all good too, well except another trooper had been killed. But Lt. Greene found (had lucked into it really but no criticism there - it was the great Napoleon who had said  'better a lucky general than a good one') the women and they were alive. Looking a bit worse for wear but no dangerous wounds, the saloon girl was already wearing trousers and a bluecoat lent her by eager troopers. And Greene had a face to face encounter with an Arapaho brave looking to kill the ladies. That Indian was dead. Barlow didn't press the young officer on the details, that he could read in the report Greene would have to write out later back in the fort, for the young man was wounded and in considerable discomfort. They didn't have a doctor with this detachment but one of the troopers who knew something about wound treatment assured Benjamin the boy would live and keep his leg. Well unless he didn't take care of it properly and get gangrene.   The stage driver was quite the tough gal too. She was sporting a large bruise from where the Arapaho had belted her with his gun butt but in good humor and even told him that the two women had killed their guard and escaped on their own.  Barlow was impressed.   "Well, it's a pity we don't allow women in the army, we could use a couple more like you and your friend," Benjamin remarked to Addy.   It was a tough call to make - normally traveling at night was not the wise thing to do but they had the wounded to think of and the sooner they got them back to better medical care at the fort or even town, the better. He decided darkness or not, they would head back and issued the appropriate orders.   They kept the pace deliberately slow but steady. He wasn't worried about Indian attack - Plains Indians did not attack at night and besides that war party was good as destroyed and definitely dispersed.  No, the bigger danger was loss of a horse or horses to prairie dog holes or god knows what else whilst traveling in the darkness.   Then there was a holler from ahead.   @MD  @Bongo @Flip @Javia
    • Both men had agreed, it had been a hell of a day. That Bannister came to them had been unexpected, but welcomed.  As they walked to the hotel after stabling their mounts they paused on the porch, taking up seats on the porch. Both men silent as they turned over the events of the day. Neither weary as they should be after a long hard ride back to Kalispell.   "This shapes up different than I was thinking it would. I mean hell, this is father against daughter." Cook said, "Seen a few that was father-son, never father-daughter."   "Odd one, that's fer shore. Now This Elias Steelgrave, you know much about him?" McNue asked, wonder what type of man is a threat to his own flesh and blood.   "Some, none of it good, and none of it arrestable, if that's even a word. The man skirts the law in a way he gets what he's after without consequence. Though I've heard there's a dark past with some bodies, but again, no real proof. Well, we'll check in with Guyer in the morning, see what we can do."   "Sounds to be a good idea, as dos gettin' our fair share 'o shuteye." McNue agreed. Both men got to their feet and entered the hotel. On this night their prospective of what was happening had changed.

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...And there was the problem with their particular captors...that odd idea of honor being measured by how well you suffered, and that they were doing you a favor by testing you.  Hopefully, it wouldn't come to that, but there was far worse they could do than what one might imagine.

 

Addy wished that she could have a chance to talk to Caroline alone, let her know...well, there was so much, and she suspected anyway that the young woman knew that anything could happen at any time, and every decision was crucial.

 

For now, hopes hung on the meeting with the 'whites', if there was any sort of negotiation -- maybe not weapons, but they could offer stores, beef, provisions...or if it degenerated into an outright attack.

 

Addy always had wanted adventure, but this was a bit much...

 

@Wayfarer

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And then it was time to be on the go again it seemed. Their gruff war chief or whatever they called their leader was barking out orders  (Caroline guessed that rather than understood any of the words). The war party mounted up once more.

 

The novice warrior pointed to his pony and gestured for Addy to mount it, "You, up! Then I will. Give me ....how you say?  Oh...room? Not place though. Other room."

 

Caroline had to smile a bit, although truth was the Indian was a whole lot better at white man's language than both women put together were with Injun. And frankly, she had no desire to learn. There was no way they were going to be living with these people for a long period of time. Either they were going to be free or make an escape or...well, they'd probably end up dead.

 

The same warrior who she had ridden with earlier now grabbed Caroline by her arm and marched her over to his mount but he practically jumped onto his horse then held out his hand, snapping two words. What exactly they meant, she could guess. She put out her hand and he hauled her on up easily. He was a muscular man in the prime of live.

 

Indianpicsfor-Sagas-01.jpg

 

Geez, he practically yanked her arm out of it's socket but Caroline did not utter a hint of complaint. This was no one to mess around with she was quite certain of that much.

 

@Bongo

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Addy frowned, not exactly sure what the kid meant, except that he wanted her to get on the pony first.  That was easy enough, especially since she was in her trousers today, so she grasped the horse's mane and swung up onto his back, only slightly tempted to just dig in her heels and go.  That, of course, would be stupid, not to mention that she wasn't going to leave Caroline, so she just scooted forward a bit so she kid could get on behind her, if that was what he intended.

 

And, if that was what he intended, it made her have to wonder why?  Was it because it would be easier for him to stick a knife into her back, should that decision be made?  She'd have to stay alert, so that she might have a chance to take preemptive action, should that decision be made...

 

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The youthful novice brave was silently impressed with how well the white woman mounted his horse, she did know horses, that much was true. Still, she did it wrong! He wanted to be in front so he could manage the reins. He frowned and punched her thigh and when she looked down then he growled, "Move back. You ride behind!"

 

He watched, then added, "More back, you not fall off."  Fool woman.

 

Finally there was enough free space, he knew he could jump up, throw a leg over, and grasp the reins, he was thin, didn't take up a lot of space, and was plenty agile given his youth. There was some collision between him and her but it was accomplished. By then the party was already riding ahead of them so he would have to catch up and take the rear.

 

Again he snapped at her, "Grab me...around here!"  He patted his ribcage to show her.

 

"So you no fall off. Now we go!"

 

And with that, he kicked his pony who responded with a lurch forward and fast enough speed to catch up to the party.

 

indianforsagas3.jpg

 

Caroline looked back to see where Addy was but nothing bad had happened, she and her young minder were closing the gap. Soon they were traipsing up and down the seemingly endless hills interspersed with varied sized knots of trees. She wondered if even the Injuns knew where they were going.

 

@Bongo

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"Yeah, all right, sorry."  Well, he hadn't specified, and there were advantages -- and disadvantages -- to either seat.  But she didn't hesitate to slide back, so that she was nearly sliding off the pony's rump, actually using that as a way to gauge the horse's temperament, and she now knew he wouldn't object were she to go all the way off his back end.

 

Once the boy was settled in front of her, Addy took him around the waist as he ordered, even though it was hardly necessary.  Still, she would placate him, all the while visualizing how she'd deal with him, should that opportunity arise, which wasn't likely.

 

@Wayfarer

 

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Their latest ride did not last all that long when somewhere out there a shot rang out. The war party came to a halt.  They had sent out two scouts but firing a shot was not something talked about. Their wait was short. A couple more shots now followed. There was some discussion for a moment until their seeming leader assumed control. As he spoke, the rest of the party all listened intently.

 

Now of course neither Addy nor Caroline understood the words but they could figure out something was happening given the shots. But it could mean so many possibilities, dare they hope that it might mean some whites were getting close? And while that might be a great thing, it also might mean extreme danger. What if the Indians decided to forget their trade plans and just outright kill them and be done with it?

 

Caroline looked to Addy, the look on her face was much the same. No smile, not a hint of happiness but worry.  Still, Caroline was not going to panic yet. Jumping off this horse and running would be hopeless. It would only likely make the Indians' decision for them and end in her death. Hard as it was they had to simply wait.

 

They did not have to wait long though, things were happening at a fast pace. Their chief or whatever one called him shouted out apparently some sharp commands to the youngest of them, their translator and minder. He replied just as quickly then spoke in English to Addy.

 

"You get off, off right now! Fight coming!"

 

Even as he was ordering Addy around, the Indian who shared his horse with Caroline did not even bother with words, he didn't know any of the white tongue anyways. Instead he gave her a sudden and hard shove, sending the saloon girl to the ground with a hard thump.

 

"Geezus!" Caroline yipped.

 

Caroline figured they were seconds from dying but her fears were wrong. Once more the boy informed Addy of the reality of the situation.

 

"They go now. I must stay back and guard you," the young man was plainly not happy about that decision by his chief but arguing would do no good.

 

Well he might not be happy but suddenly there was a new glimmer of hope. Caroline realized once the war party rode off, that left two of them to one lone guard. They would never get a better chance she figured. Hopefully Addy would feel the same.

 

@Bongo

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Whether for good or for bad, the shots meant that something was going to happen, soon and fast, and it was time to be pro-active.  Even if the shooting was from a rescue party, Addy and Caroline needed to take care of themselves, and if that proved unnecessary, all the better.

 

Addy didn't hesitate when she was ordered off the horse, although it rankled her that 'Caroline's' Indian just pushed her to the ground.  But, as much as it jarred her friend, it gave Addy a chance to rush to her side and get close.

 

Wrapping her arms around her companion, she whispered, "Be ready, not sure when nor what..."

 

And then the majority of the band took off, leaving the kid to guard them...a boon to the ladies, if they were to have any chance, it would be against one, and a boy at that!

 

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Wrapping her arms around Caroline, Addy whispered, "Be ready, not sure when nor what..."

 

Caroline smiled ruefully, returning the embrace, her hip hurt from the fall but it was not a sharp pain, she doubted she had broken anything, "I'm alright. And yeah, I'm more than ready if we get the chance."

 

The pair watched then as the Indians rode on off, well first their leader had held out one of the army pistols to young Houusoo, he could hardly guard two prisoners with a bow and arrow. The young man gave a big smile at the gift, this would be the first time he would have himself a gun. Like a true warrior. Later he was confident he would acquire a rifle too especially if the war party killed enough of the approaching waischus.

 

indianforsagas4.jpg

 

Caroline frowned, seeing the boy was now better armed but just maybe the Indian had never even fired an actual gun before. That might give them a better chance when they....when they... What were they gonna do? They needed a plan.

 

Houusoo brandished the gun proudly as the rest of the warriors disappeared into the trees. He pointed toward the ground with it barking out an order.

 

"You sit now! You stay there. I tell you if I want you do something."

 

"Yes, of course, we don't want no trouble," Caroline didn't hesitate but plopped down then sat cross legged on the grass. It was best they act completely obedient, even frightened. Might build up his overconfidence.

 

Housssoo now padded over to his pony and rummaged for something in a buffalo hide pouch.

 

Caroline kept her voice soft and low, "So...umm, we need to jump him....I got a question for ya, Addy. You ever kill somebody before?"

 

She followed it up with a quick admission, "I did..just once. I shot him in the head before he ever knew what was goin' on."

 

@Bongo

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Addy let out a breath, shifting a bit, but staying down in the dirt, right next to Caroline.  The gun was an added complication, but then, it might make the boy overly confident, and that would play to their advantage.

 

"Let th' others get farther," she whispered to Caroline, although as advice, that was pretty obvious.  They didn't need the others to hear a ruckus and come back. 

 

When she admitted that she'd had to kill a man, it gave Addy confidence that Caroline wasn't going to be squeamish when it came to doing what they had to...once the time was right, hesitation or holding back could prove disastrous for the ladies.  Only pity was that the kid was so young, but he was still old enough to be a warrior, and to kill them, so that had to be shoved aside.

 

"Be still fer now, but when th' time comes..."  And that was not something they could plan.  It was going to be a lapse in the boy's concentration, or a chance for one of them to cause a distraction...whatever it was, their action would have to be decisive and swift.  "Try not ta let him shoot that thing, an' when we go, he has ta be...dead."

 

Addy wasn't a killer, she knew Caroline wasn't, but both ladies understood the need, and the circumstances that required such action, and Addy knew that she, for one, would have no qualms.

 

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"Be still fer now, but when th' time comes..." was Addy's caution. Caroline nodded.

 

Caroline had actually revealed she had just once before taken another life, an admission she had never made to anyone in Kalispell.  But she wanted to let the other woman know she was capable of such violence when it had to be. She also had been curious if Addy had ever killed anybody but she didn't get an answer there. Maybe Addy was uncomfortable with such an admission or....more likely ....she had indeed never done such a thing.

 

But they were in extreme circumstances and both knew it. Desperate people were capable of desperate actions.

 

 "Try not ta let him shoot that thing, an' when we go, he has ta be...dead," Addy's words confirmed what Caroline was already thinking.

 

"Yeah, I figured as much. Well, he killed that boy on the stage, it was his arrow. So he's a part of it all," as she spoke in a barely audible voice, she eyed the young Arapaho. He was young, yeah but he was probably stronger than his lean frame looked, these people led hard active lives, he'd fight like mad no doubt. That is if they gave him that chance. The idea was not to but to overpower him all of a sudden then take his life without giving him that chance.

 

Question was how? She looked down at the dirty hem of her remaining garment and started to tear at it, hopefully she could rip off a strip of it big enough to.....

 

"What if I distract him then you get behind him and slip this over his head? We get him down then and you start choking the life outta him. I can grab his wrists. Oh, and he still has that little knife of yers...I can see it now. I'll grab that and start stabbin' and we don't stop til we are damn sure he's...gone," Caroline's mind was working thru all sorts of options.

 

Next she would try and come up with a good distraction.

 

@Bongo

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Nodding. Addy took the strip of cloth and stuffed it into her pocket for now...between the knife and garrotte, and sheer determination, she was sure they could complete their task. 

 

Now, it was a matter of waiting for the time...

 

As for a distraction...

 

"Mebbe we just kinda look off into th' trees like we see somethin', an' when he looks..."  It was reasonable that there might be rescuers close enough to be approaching, and while the widow for action would be narrow, it might be all they needed.  "Ya take his legs, I'll get th' rest'a him."

 

Yes, she had killed, a few times, but that had been from a distance, and at the moment.  It was quite another thing to be planning it out.

 

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Caroline winced a little, not sure she was comfortable with Addy's plan. If she did tackle the Indian by his legs, that left the boy still in control of that pistol which he could use to shoot her. And if Addy went for his gun hand or even both arms then she couldn't use the cloth strip as a garotte to strangle him.

 

But she did not get time to voice (however softly in volume) her worries for suddenly there was a flurry of shots in the distance. A LOT of shots!  Hard to judge just how far away in this rough country but obviously close enough they heard the firing!

 

Houusoo was about to snap at the white women to quit their jabbering and just sit there when he too was distracted by the same outbreak of gunfire.  His people were fighting the waischus, it had to be. They had found them quickly.  His heartbeat quickened.

 

Meanwhile Caroline decided no more waiting or plotting, she had a sudden idea. First off she grabbed a handful of dirt in one fist then she hissed to Addy, "I'm gonna get his attention alright."

 

Without hesitation she suddenly jumped up and screamed in panic.

 

"SNAKE!   DAMMIT!  A SNAKE!  IT BIT ME!"

 

She turned in terror toward the Indian, "SHOOT IT!  HELP!" as she fixed her eyes on the deep grass around them. It was quite a convincing performance really.

 

Just as she had known, when things started to happen, they started quickly, and as soon as Caroline started her act, Addy was at her side, shouting out her own alarm.

 

"Hurry!  It done bit her!"  

 

As the boy turned toward them, Addy had a very brief pang of regret -- it did look like he was concerned and wanted to help -- but there was no time for pity...

 

Kneeling in the dirt, she pushed Caroline's petticoat up, pretending that there was a wound there.  "Aw, Caroline!"

 

Houusoo moved closer, he was not used to actually using a revolver, previously he had only used his bow and arrow or watched others fire rifles and pistols. He didn't even cock the hammer back as required to fire one of these single action guns. His focus was on the grass, looking for the snake. 

 

Caroline waited just until she thought he was close enough then the act vanished in an instant. Of course she wasn't bit, the saloon girl now made her move. With one hand she threw the dirt right in the Arapaho's eyes while the other lunged for his gun hand wrist.

 

The struggle was on!

 

Only a split second behind Caroline, Addy sprang up, ready to slip the strip of slip around the boy's neck, but as his body and mind registered what was happening, he spun and struck out with his free hand, and although that missed Addy, the back of his head hit her in the face, causing her to stumble back, blood streaming from her nose.  At the same time, he instinctively pulled the trigger, the boom of the pistol loud in the close quarters.

 

Caroline had her hand on his wrist of the gun hand and luckily the gun barrel was pointed upward when it fired. The loud report so close startled the hell out of Caroline but it didn't make her stop trying to do her part in overpowering this young brave. Luckily, the dirt had spattered right in his eyes so he was not just battling his attackers but trying desperately to blink away the debris to clear his vision. 

 

Somehow he had lucked out as Addy had not managed to get their planned jump on him. Caroline redoubled her efforts for there was no stopping now. Time for another tried and true tactic that she had used more than once against some overeager customer who made the mistake of drawing up too close to her when she didn't want it.

 

With a violent upward lunge of her knee, she connected hard right in his breechclout and between his legs. Houusoo gasped in agony, it was the sort of place which literally made it hard for a male to even breath it hurt so damn much. At the same time Caroline now kept a firm grip on the wrist while using her free hand to go for his remaining wrist.  All the time fervently hoping Addy was not stunned or hurt but could get back into the fray.

 

Quickly, Addy shook off the pain in her face -- after all, she had grown up with a passel of brothers, and there had been 'accidents' -- although there was nothing she could do about how much her eyes were watering.  Still, she could hear where the fight was, and her vision was intact, albeit blurry.

 

Unfortunately, she'd dropped the garrotte, so that option was off the table.  But Caroline knew her stuff, and even Addy winced as the saloon singer gave the kid a sharp knee to the balls.  That hurt, a lot, after all, she'd had a passel of brothers, and on rare occasion, one of them had deserved similar treatment, and she knew how debilitating it could be, at least for the first few moments...almost as bad as getting smacked in the nose!

 

As Caroline tried to get control of his wrists, Addy lunged to tackle him from behind, driving her shoulder into his back and trying to get his torso and upper arms in a bear-hug!

 

Houusoo was driven hard to the ground, adding to the pain and misery he already was experiencing from the saloon girl's well placed knee to the groin. It was all too much, the revolver went flying from his grip, landing in some deep grass a few feet from the struggle.

 

Before he knew it, his arms were pinioned against his torso from the attacker behind him. Caroline let go of one of his wrists and punched him as hard as she could in the face. If she didn't break his nose she at least started it bleeding.

 

Caroline knew their original plan was out the window, forget their cloth strip idea but she did not forget the young Indian had Addy's knife yet. It wasn't a big knife but it would have to do. Seeing the hilt on his waistline, she yanked it out, brandishing it before Addy and their victim.

 

"Hold'im, I'll gut' im!"

 

She then stabbed him right in the belly shoving it in up to the hilt as the boy screamed. If someone would have told her that someday she would do this to another human being, Caroline would have denied she could ever do such a thing.  But there she was, doing her best to kill without hesitation. 

 

Houusoo was in agony but far from dead, still trying to struggle. Caroline pulled the bloody blade out then snarled "C'mon, die!" as she plunged downward into his belly yet again, only inches from the first wound, trying her best to ignore his screams.

 

Addy had to give the girl credit, she sure had plenty of moxie, if not skill!  Doing her best to hold onto the struggling boy, Addy rolled onto her back, trying to get her legs around his so he couldn't kick out, but he was squirming pretty good.

 

"Get 'im in th' heart!" she shouted, moving to readjust her slipping grip, only to lose control of his right arm.

 

Now Caroline had never opened a medical book in her life nor ever laid eyes on any sort of anatomical drawing either. She knew the heart was up in the chest somewhere but to pinpoint it? Nope!

 

The boy's right arm was free then and wildly flailing toward his attacker, he still couldn't see properly and was also in so much pain, it all was a rather futile defense.

 

Caroline stabbed downward yet again, this time deliberately choosing to plunge the bloody steel point right into his navel like maybe it would be worse there? She had no idea just so badly wanted him to just plain die on them already!

 

Houusoo was weakening , he half moaned, half sobbed as the woman pushed down hard until the blade disappeared right up to the hilt. None of these single stabs were of course immediately fatal but the net effect was ultimately deadly.  Still the young man clung grimly to life.

 

Caroline had had enough and fell off him, sickened by what she was doing, HAD to do. But there were limits and she'd reached it.

 

"Dammit! You kill him then!" she felt she'd done her share and more, let Addy end it all.

 

It's not like there was much struggle left in the boy, the knife embedded deep within his innards.

 

indianforsagas4.jpg

 

Feeling that it was safe now to let the kid go -- he wasn't quite dead, but close enough -- Addy scrambled out from under him, avoiding his flailing limbs, then grabbed the knife from his belly and poised it over his heart long enough to be sure of the target, then closed her eyes and plunged it down, leaning into the short blade, then twisting.

 

Houusoo was just barely conscious with maybe enough eyesight despite the dirt and his fading strength to dimly be aware of the woman above him. Then there was yet another agonizing burst of pain, his audible reaction a mere pathetic whimper, his limbs quivered and all went dark.

 

  Only after the movement stopped did she open her eyes and look at Caroline.

 

Caroline had just stood there, spattered in the Indian's blood and with bloody hands too, watching Addy make an end of the boy. It was done and there was time later for regrets and processing it all. She just nodded to her friend.

 

"C'mon."  Addy was on her feet, wiping the blade on her pants, then she held a hand to Caroline.  The kid's horse was still there, and they needed to leave, now!

 

Caroline reached for Addy's and the pair hustled over to the Indian pony which shied away from these strange persons and their sudden approach.

 

Caroline looked to Addy, "We gonna be able to get on him?"

 

That's all they needed now was for the animal to bolt and gallop off.

 

@Bongo

 

ooc: If you want to you can start a new reply post now? We've completed the struggle.

 

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"We'll get on."  Addy was determined, and once she grabbed hold of the crude rope halter, she had control of the animal.  "Here..."  Cupping her hands, she made a step for Caroline, to give her a boost up.  "Just grab his mane."

 

"Won't he not like that?" Caroline asked but as she placed one bare foot into the hand stirrup up she went without hesitation and reached for the mane. Well, it did not look graceful nor did the young woman look all that comfortable upon the animal but she was up and mounted.

 

"He'll behave," Addy assured her, giving the rope at the horse's mouth an extra twist, enough to get his attention, but not to hurt him.  And as antsy as he was, he submitted, at least for now.

 

"God, I hope so," Caroline was up then but still less than confident. A true city girl since her Chicago childhood, horses had never been a creature she was comfortable with.

 

With Caroline settled, Addy considered going back for the gun, but she didn't want to let go of the horse, the mount was far more important to them than the gun, and eventually, the smell of blood would have the horse anxious to leave.

 

Grasping a hunk of mane just in front of Caroline, Addy took a little hop-skip, swinging up behind the other lady, then turning the horse away from the shooting, determined to put distance between them and the Indians, should any of them decide to come back.

 

"Hold on."  Of course, Addy had her arm around Caroline as she held the rope, so that would give some support as she gigged the pony into an easy lope.

 

"I'll try!" Caroline nodded, she too had considered the revolver but certainly the plan now was to avoid the damn redskins not fight'em.

 

There was still firing going on in the distance, the Indians were definitely shooting it out with somebody. Was it another ambush of theirs or was it maybe some white men trying to rescue them? Or neither of those?

 

"All that firing?  You think it might be the army or maybe a posse?" she asked her friend as the horse not loped away from the scene of their brutal fight with the Indian.

 

"Hope it's cavalry," Addy declared, pleased, at least, that the Indian pony had a good, easy gait, "but could be another band'a Injuns lookin' ta take what ain't theirs..."  Meaning horses, Carolines and Addys!  "Don't have no intention'a findin' out.  Gonna head fer town, once I get my bearin's."

 

Caroline didn't know much about Indians and their squabbles with each other though she felt it was unlikely there were Indians shooting each other. Still, Addy might know things she did not.

 

"Sure head which way you think best. I have no idea which way is Kalispell," Caroline shrugged.

 

She was along for the ride.

 

@Bongo

 

 

 

 

 

 

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They hadn't gone far when Addy had to slow the pony to a walk, since the trees were so dense here, but at least they'd put a little distance between themselves and the Indians.  With the sun starting to slip below the trees, Addy at least knew her north from south, so she was pretty sure about the general direction to town.  Still, that didn't help her know how far they were, or what obstacles might be in their way, and it wouldn't be wise to be floundering around in the dark.

 

"Gonna have me a big, juicy steak an' somma that apple pie from th' Lickskillet when we get home," she declared, hopefully a distraction from their situation, not that Miz Caroline wasn't dealing well with it.  "An' a stiff shot'a whisky!"

 

The shooting had stopped, leaving an eerie quiet, and she glanced over her shoulder, debating of she should turn back.  "Gonna likely hafta spend th' night out here."  No sense in sugar-coating things.  "I'm not real sure how far town is, an' we don't need ta be wanderin' off a cliff in th' dark..."

 

And, just like prophesy, the ground ahead of them disappeared in dark shadow, forcing Addy to turn the pony to the right, paralleling the abyss beside them.

 

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"Gonna have me a big, juicy steak an' somma that apple pie from th' Lickskillet when we get home," Addy declared.

 

"Yeah, I'm starvin' but most of all...." before Caroline could get it out...

 

"An' a stiff shot'a whisky!"

 

"You read my mind. It's all I been thinkin' about......I gotta have a drink and the sooner the better. When I get back I'm gonna drink myself onta the floor and with me, that'll take a lot of drinks," Caroline heartily agreed.

 

It's why she normally took a flask along most places because she really couldn't go all that long with some alcohol. And the damn Indians tossed that away.

 

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"I might just join ya on that floor!"  Addy chuckled, but then sighed.  "Reckon Weedy's worried sick.  He knows we should'a been back by now, but at least he's got my brother there now."  He'd hate for the poor kid to think he was abandoned again, he'd been through enough already.

 

She chuckled.  "Well, reckon he can help me make out th' reports t' th' stage company, they're gonna want ta know what happened.  Hopefully, th' horses made it back."  She paused, then added, "I'll hafta make sure them others is buried proper, an' family's notified."

 

Then she'd sleep for a week, only she didn't have that luxury.  "Sounds like they're done fightin'."  She just wished she knew who was involved and who was the victor.

 

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"Oh god, I forgot. You got the boy back home. Well, least you are on your way back ta see him, it could have been worse," Caroline sighed.

 

"Well, reckon he can help me make out th' reports t' th' stage company, they're gonna want ta know what happened.  Hopefully, th' horses made it back." 

 

"You don't know how to write? I never went to any school but I can read and write. My mother taught me, arithmetic too," Caroline was proud of that really.

 

 Addy paused, then added, "I'll hafta make sure them others is buried proper, an' family's notified."

 

"That shouldn't have to fall on you, let the undertaker get a burial party out there. Hopefully the wolves n' bears don't get at 'em," Caroline had heard the animals did that sort of thing.  Wait, there were vultures too.

 

"Sounds like they're done fightin', "  Addy observed.

 

"Hopefully that's a good thing," Caroline nodded.

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"It's good fer someone, I reckon."  Addy grinned, then shrugged.  "I'm takin' lessons fer readin' an' writin' from Miss Orr, doin' pretty good, just slow, what with work an' all." 

 

While it seemed odd to be having a casual conversation like this while they were wandering around the Montana mountains after escaping captivity, tattered, hungry, barefoot...well, there was no sense in fretting over something they couldn't change, they had to make do, and Addy was glad that she had Caroline with her.

 

And at that, she couldn't help but chuckle, then had to explain.  "Was just thinkin' what it would'a been like, should I have been graced with Miss Mudd as a companion...likely would'a asked them Injuns ta just shoot me by now!"

 

She laughed, then pulled the pony to a stop...the brush was getting too thick to safely navigate in the waning light, and they were running the risk of wandering into an abyss.

 

Sighing, she turned away from the cliff they'd been riding alongside, a bit toward where the fighting had been, although they were still some distance.  "This danged pony sure is bony," she grumbled.  "Yer gonna need ta put some meat on his bones once we get home."

 

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"Miss Orr huh? Don't really know her. She ain't chargin' you money for it I hope?" Caroline wondered aloud.

 

It was getting dark fast now that the sun had set, probably made best sense they wait it out and strike out for town in fresh daylight? Addy thought so and Caroline wasn't going to contest that woman's opinion. Besides she was tired.

 

Sighing, Addy turned away from the cliff they'd been riding alongside, a bit toward where the fighting had been, although they were still some distance.  "This danged pony sure is bony," she grumbled.  "Yer gonna need ta put some meat on his bones once we get home."

 

"His owner was pretty scrawny too," Caroline shrugged then blinked, "Wait!  What? Why do I need to feed the horse? I don't wanna own it."

 

Just as the pair had dismounted, there was noise behind them and both their heads turned to spot just who or what was making that noise. Hopefully some cavalry?

 

Bodawei had broken away from the rest of the fleeing war party and had headed back to let Houusoo know of the defeat and help the young brave kill the white women. Instead he had found the bloodied body sprawled on the ground. And of course their former captives now gone. Well, skilled hunter that the warrior was he could track and immediately followed the trail of the one horse leading away from the death site. He caught sight of the women just in time too, not much longer and it would have been too dark.

 

"Oh shit!" Caroline yipped.

 

Before the women could even think of remounting the pony Bodawei leveled his Sharps carbine and fired. The pony whinnied, stumbled, and fell off to it's side, struck with a mortal wound.

 

indianforsagas2.jpg

 

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"I got no use fer 'im," Addy pointed out, although, if Caroline was really insistent, she figured Weedy could use it.  But then, it didn't matter...

 

The shot startled Addy, and she immediately grabbed Caroline by the wrist, expecting her to crumple to the ground, after all, she hadn't been shot, so it must be...

 

"Gawdamed bastard!" she spat as the pony fell.  Not that she wanted it to be one of them who had been shot, but she hated people who abused animals.

 

There was no time to worry about that, though, they needed to...well, do something.  Couldn't go on the offensive while the man was still mounted, but running wasn't a much good option with them both barefoot, but that was the only one they had.  At least the Indian's horse wasn't going to make any more headway into the thick brush than the pony had, so the man would eventually have to leave it.

 

Tugging Caroline with her, not that she needed to encourage her, Addy started to run.  After they'd put a bit of distance between them and the man, she'd let Caroline go ahead, then she'd wait for him and attack...it was a crappy plan, but a plan, at least.

 

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Caroline just stood there for a moment in shock as the loud report of a rifle was immediately followed by their lone means of transportation, the poor Indian pony was struck and down it went with a mortal wound.  The Indians had found them again! Somehow...

 

Addy reacted first, lunging for her hand then tugging her into a run and the two women scrambled into the deeper brush of the closest ravine. They were barefoot and it hurt but there was nothing they could do but ignore the discomfort.  Fear and adrenaline helped!

 

Bodawei had not tried to hit either of the white women, his shot hit exactly what he had aimed at. Now they were on foot. He was not. However, as they hightailed it away, he now suddenly realized the ground they were on was going to make it very difficult for his own horse, however fleet of hoof and agile to manuver in such broken foliage. He rode up to the now dead pony, Houusoo's pony, then dismounted. Pausing to open the breechloader, he ejected the spent round and chambered another fresh one into it. His next shot he meant to kill or cripple one of the women. If he had his way, neither of them would ever see their people again.

 

He then plunged into the undergrowth.

 

Even as he did so, thus far he was unaware that more waischu were closing in on him. The soldiers were spread out in a ragged line with plenty of spacing in order to try and spot the hostiles, for all they knew there might be a whole bunch of them.

 

Call it fate or blind luck (sometimes two in the same) but it so happened Lt. Greene and one other trooper were on the path toward both the dead and the now riderless horse.  They couldn't see Bodawei yet but they were getting closer.

 

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They couldn't just run...there was no way that they could outrun the Indian, even with him on foot.  And fighting him wasn't much of an option, either...he had the rifle, and if he used it, that would be the end of them.  And even if they managed to have an opportunity to engage him hand-to-hand, they'd have little chance...this was an older warrior, more experienced than the boy they'd dispatched, and prepared for them.

 

No, this was dire.  He was going to kill them, but it would be neither quick nor pleasant, and Addy determined that, when it became obvious that there was no hope, she'd kill Caroline herself, and spare at least one of them the horror that awaited.

 

But, they still had a bit of a lead, and the coming darkness would make their trail hard to follow, so there was still some advantage.  Of course, the noise they made thrashing through the brush gave them away, and if they stopped, they'd have to be deathly still, or he'd hear the breathing.

 

Maybe, if they could find water...

 

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Call it fate or blind luck (sometimes two in the same) but it so happened Lt. Greene and one other trooper were on the path toward both the dead and the now riderless horse.  They couldn't see Bodawei yet but they were getting closer.

 

There was a strong possibility that the two Indian horses were just runaways from the battle (historians might call it a minor skirmish, but for all the men who had survived it, it was firmly the 'Battle of Barlow's Bluff') but the crack of a rifle a few minutes before had put both soldiers on their mettle. 

 

"Keep 'em peeled, Johnson." Greene muttered as they rode forward, his eyes straining against the fading light. Two horses. One little, two little, no little Indians? A half remembered children's rhyme ran through his head. They pushed their own mounts forward, though the two animals showed an interest in investigating their wild cousins. Both men expected a fusillade to fill them both full of lead at any moment. 

 

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Just as they were slowing down and Addy looked back to see if she could spot the Indian who'd shot the horse, Caroline tripped over a rock inching out of the ground and toppled straight down onto the ground with a yip of pain.

 

Bodawei, his hearing as sharp and focused as his eyesight zeroed in on the sound. The white women were ahead and to his flank. He readied his carbine and headed that direction. Until there were the sounds of horses behind him. He spun about and spotted one...no TWO blue coats. Raising up his rifle he aimed at one, neither seemed to be aware of him. Bodawei put the sights of the powerful weapon on the white's torso and fired.

 

Trooper Johnson never saw the Indian, maybe heard the shot which struck him full in the chest but was unconscious by the time he toppled backwards out of his saddle to strike the ground hard. He would bleed out in just a couple minutes.

 

indianforsagas2.jpg

 

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Posted (edited)

Trooper Johnson never saw the Indian, maybe heard the shot which struck him full in the chest but was unconscious by the time he toppled backwards out of his saddle to strike the ground hard. He would bleed out in just a couple minutes.

 

Greene had been worried all day about making the wrong decisions, now he didn't worry or even think! The crack of the rifle ahead, Johnson biting the dust, himself unable to turn back out of sheer manly pride, unable to dismount and take cover, what with his roughly patched up leg wound, suddenly he was charging forward at a gallop toward the place the shot had come from. The horse beneath him wasn't his usual Daisy, it was the horse of one of the dead troopers, and later on, when trying to sort the events of the day in his own mind, he could not clearly recall whether he had spurred her forward or if she had just carried him with her, intend on some kind of equine revenge for her lost rider. 

 

Either way, he was on the redskin, smelt out by the mare while he was still clumsily trying to pull his revolver from its holster, and wondering exactly how many Indians were ambushing him in the fading light. He felt like a mere spectator as the frothing mount whinnied and reared over the dismounted Arapaho warrior.

 

@Bongo @Wayfarer

Edited by Javia (see edit history)

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About Sagas

Sagas of the WIld West is a roleplaying game set in a fictionalized version of the town of Kalispell in Montana territory. Our stories begin in 1875 and are set against the backdrop of actual historical events.Sagas was inspired by the classic television and movie westerns. Our focus is on writing, storytelling and character development.

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