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Quentin swore as he reined Paladin uphill out of the milling mass of horses and people. He had relaxed a bit, drifting back in the column as the pace of the ride had lulled him a bit after so many hours of no activity. The sudden outburst up front had to be that monster attacking the front of their group. He turned Paladin and moved parallel to the trail as he brought the Trapdoor Springfield up, using his boots in the stirrups to bring the horse to a halt. He could feel the horse's nervousness and honestly, he didn't blame him one bit.

 

Quentin's eyes narrowed as he spotted the fast moving bulk racing back along the trail toward the mobile remuda further back. He swung the rifle as his thumb dragged the hammer to full cock. He led the dark brown bulk as best he could and fired. The Springfield belched a cloud of white smoke and he saw a puff of red mist erupt from the bear's side behind its left foreleg. Quentin knew his uphill position meant the round had not hit anything vital as it penetrated. His hands flipped the trapdoor breech up and the empty round spun out with a metallic ping. Quentin fished out a fresh round and thumbed it in as he kicked his leg over the saddle and dropped to the ground. He began running along the hillside, glimpsing the large rear of the grizzly as it bounded ahead of him.

 

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It had been a long day already, Aurelian was a good enough rider afterall he'd been in the cavalry in the war but he was not used to it anymore. It was a bit deflating but the truth of it was he was a farmer now. Shade had dismounted yet again and moved on ahead on foot, checking the tracks no doubt, or maybe wondering what spooked that rabbit.

 

As for Aurelian he was riding in back with the woman, Addy, and the extra mounts. It all happened so fast then. There was a shot, a roar, the horses were spooked and not without reason. That damned bear was in on them just like that! It was total chaos. Aurelian brought his Sharps carbine up to fire but just as he did, his horse pulled away to one side, no doubt wanting nothing to do with being anywhere near that rampaging bear. He couldn't be sure but he may well have missed completely with his shot. Certainly if it did hit, there was no visible effect. All he could think now was he needed to reload the breechloader, while saddled on a panicky horse. Not an easy task. It was why the cavalry preferred to engage in their firefights on foot.

 

And here came the bear!!!

 

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On-going tension was a strain on one's mind and body, and Addy was working to keep her nerves in check, humming a tune to calm herself, but it was on easy task...she had seen first-hand what this bear could do, and although they were in a fairly large group, they still needed to be wary.

 

Any effort at calm dissolved as the bear appeared, charging in among the riders.  At the back of the line, Addy couldn't see exactly what was happening, but it wasn't good, that was evident from the shooting, the shouts and the squealing of panicked horses. 

 

Arabesque started to spin, balking away from Aurelian's horse...and the bear...but the mare turned into the remuda line, tangling in the lead ropes and agitated horses and mules.  Off balance, Addy fell from the saddle, quickly scrambling under her horse to avoid being trampled, and came up on the other side.  The lead for the remuda had been lost, and those animals were milling around, wanting to get away, but confined by the tethers, and Addy knew she had to protect them...the men could handle the bear.

 

"Whoa, now," she cooed to Arabesque.  If she could control the mare, she could get to the other animals, try to calm them, or at least cut them free...

 

Before she could get to them, she saw a saddled animal charging her way -- Shade's horse -- and she reached out as it passed, managing to grab a rein, and as the horse lurched to a stop, the momentum yanked on her, causing her and the horse to collide, the contact jarring her already bruised ribs, and she tumbled to the dirt, gasping for air.

Edited by Bongo (see edit history)
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The bear was angry, and pain made him less fearful of humans, his one true nemesis. He had been injured after attacking the man a few days ago. The bullet that grazed his skull near the missing eye was not large enough to do serious damage. However, the bear was old, and the wound had festered. The pain was driving him insane and made him throw caution to the wind.


The humans could not know that this was an alien world to him. He had adapted, mainly living high in the mountains. Age had driven him to the lowlands to hunt for easier prey. Although humans were not on his usual menu, he no longer had any qualms about making a meal of them.


The bear had been born far away on an island. Mostly, humans hunted the massive island bears for their fur, meat, and grease. In his case though, a burly Russian had found him next to his mother's stripped carcass. He had taken the cub back to the settlement and tamed him. The cub had been nearly two years old when the man was offered a large amount of money for him by the owner of a traveling Russian circus.


For several years, life had not been too horrible. He performed tricks and danced for crowds of people. Then, his handler had been killed in a shooting over a woman. The man that took over was cruel. Instead of continuing to work with the bear, he had sought to dominate the animal through fear and pain. This was how he had lost his eye, and his face had been horribly disfigured when his trainer had waved a torch too close. His eye and face had been burned. In the aftermath, he had become virtually unmanageable. They had put him in a cage too small for his bulk, rarely fed him and he was virtually forgotten.


The bear's captivity had come to an abrupt end when a fire ravaged the traveling circus. The few remaining animals had been set free or had escaped. Instinct had driven the bear toward the higher ground of the Chogun Mountain range. Periodically, over the years, he had returned to the lowlands to raid for livestock and terrorize the humans that he hated with a passion. In fact, his hatred often overcame his fear. These forays had earned him the name of Ole Satan.


The massive bear was now in the middle of the humans and horses. He roared his rage, his fevered mind driving him beyond fear. He rose up on his hind legs. Standing over nine feet tall, he was a magnificent and terrifying sight. Roaring again, the bear dropped to all fours and turned back toward the human that was laying up against a rockfall of large boulders...

 

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The Sharps was sticking out of the underbrush, horse were panicked, crow-hopping, bucking, and generally making his position on the ground more dangerous that when he'd been mounted. Yet he fought his way to a crouch and rushed to the rifle grasping the stock and finding it was ensnared in the jumble of the weeds, roots and tangles.

 

"Dammit!" He uttered as he jerked on the rifle, tug after tug. When it came free it was all of a sudden, and it pitched Speed backward into the rump  of one of the frighted horses who was leaping backwards in his own attempt to get clear of the danger. The impact from the animal sent him sprawling into the brambles once again, the rifle tumbling behind him, skittering away from his grasp.

 

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"Damn it!" Aurelian snapped, his shot missed and while the Sharps carbine packed a good punch the drawback was it was a single shot weapon. He would need to reload and this while the bear was rampaging amongst the party.  Aurelian fell back against a rock, ended up on his rump as he snapped open the rifle's breech then ejected the spent shell. Reaching into his pocket now he grabbed for a new round. If the bear chose to attack him now, he was frankly not going to load this thing in time.

 

 

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It was chaotic, but Addy knew as well as the others that she couldn't panic or give in to the confusion of tumbling bodies and squealing horses.  Still, it was no easy task to stay clear of stamping hooves and swinging heads, and in the end, she just released Shade's horse and held onto Arabesque long enough to wrench her rifle free of its scabbard. 

 

As Arabesque darted away, Addy stumbled back, but there wasn't time to worry about what was going on around her...the bear was getting close, turning to bear his wrath toward Aurelian and Speed, but that gave her the barest opportunity to actually aim at the massive head, fortunately above the heads of the men, so there was no chance of accidentally hitting them.

 

She squeezed off a shot, the recoil causing her to stagger back and land on her butt, but in an instant she was scrambling to her feet, in case the bear started to come at her.

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Scrambling, dodging, trying to reach his rifle, Speed was unsure of the animals around him as they too were panic stricken. Gunfire , screaming horses and the snarling and roaring from the beast filled the air, along with random shots and  and a steady stream of curses.

 

His hand gabbed the stock of the Sharps at the receiver and he tugged at it trying to pull it free of the underbrush as chaos raged all around him. The fifty caliber came free and lying on his back Speed brought it to bear. He all but had a clear shot as the grizzly reared up on his hind legs. He thumbed the hammer back and sighted in on the bears skull. Just as he squeezed the trigger, the beast dropped back down, his shot going nowhere!

 

The report of the buffalo gun startled the already panicked horses and  before he could reload, Speed had to dodge hooves hearing another rifle report he looked seeing Addy knocked back but the recoil. Then another skittish horse blocked his view to see if she registered the hit ending this melee, forcing him to roll out of the way.

 

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The chaos around him was maddening. The screaming horses and gunshots made the bear angrier. He had long since forgotten any fear that he may have once had of humans. The bear's fevered brain was driving him into a frenzy. It also affected his judgment and balance. Most of his attempted strikes went awry. In a fury, the massive grizzly charged at another of the terrified horses only to pull up short as the animals scattered.


The sound of the human's weapons was even more deafening than the noise from the horses. Most of the shots went wild, but some hit their mark without doing significant damage. Still, the pain was driving the bear away from reason, such as it was in any animal. In the past, it would have only taken the sound of one shot to send him running. Now, he just wanted to get close enough to rip one of his tormenters to shreds.


The great Kodiak bear shuddered as another round hit him, tearing through tender flesh and vital organs. He was dying but that had not registered in his fevered brain. As pain ripped through his powerful body, he roared and rose up on his hind legs in an attempt to make himself look more frightening. Another shot rang out as the grizzly dropped back to all four feet.


Roaring again, the bear charged at the human that had fired his weapon last. It did not matter that that was not the one that was killing him. All that mattered was the sweet taste of human blood. Amazingly, he picked up speed...


Then his great old heart exploded. The bullet that had torn through his organs had lodged in his heart. The next rush of adrenaline and his attempt to charge, to run, finally took its toll. He fell to the ground almost at the man's feet. The bear gave a shuddering sigh and died.


At long last, Old Satan, the terror of Montana's northwest territory, was dead.

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Quentin sat on one knee up the hillside, still several dozen yards short of the bear. He had realized he was never going to catch the running avalanche, so he had slid to a stop and knelt. He had snugged the trapdoor to his shoulder and fired, seeing a puff of red erupt from the body. He popped the breech, thumbed in another round, cocked the hammer and fired, not seeing an impact because of the haze of smoke around him. Quentin popped the breech and thumbed another round home. He pulled the hammer back to full cock  as he realized that suddenly things were quiet. His ears rang from the punishing bangs of the rifle as he peered through the smoke. Quentin rested his thumb on the hammer and pulled the trigger, easing the hammer down to rest on the breech.

 

The white haze cleared slowly and he saw the mass of bear laying still. He could see a few people around it, but he was unsure who at this distance. One of them turned and waved their rifle over their head. Quentin exhaled and waved his empty hand toward them. The smile that started to spread across his face fell off like broken glass as he saw Shade's horse standing far on the other side of the dead bear and their own spare mounts.

 

"SHADE!" Quentin roared, turning and running back along the trail toward where their column had been when the monster had attacked.

 

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Total chaos, fear, and upclose mortal danger.......Aurelian had been fixated on survival and on doing whatever he could to kill that thing. But fortunately someone else, the woman no less, finally brought the huge bear down. Someone else fired a few more rounds into the now still bulk of the creature but it was definitely dead. Thank the Lord! With a huge sigh of relief he lowered his now reloaded carbine, he was going to be able to go home to his beloved children.

 

Stepping closer then to Addy he smiled, "Nice shot. Just in the nick of time too."

 

Quentin suddenly was yelling Shade's name though. Aurelian couldn't see Shade at all from where he was. Oh lord, did the bear get one of them afterall?

 

"Hope that's not what I think it might be," Aurelian said to the woman then headed in the direction of the shouting.

 

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Suddenly there was a silence, not a complete silence as the animals were still skittish and moving around sounding their displeasure. No longer was the bear voicing his threats to the group of hunters, in fact, he was making no sound at all.

 

The a voice called for Shade, and with a final jerk his own weapon came free and he sprang to his feet looking about, hopeful the beast had not claimed another at the end of his reign of terror.

 

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Edited by Flip (see edit history)

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Addy glanced at Aurelian as she scrambled to her feet, not exactly sure that hers had been the kill-shot, so much as a combination of all the shooting...not that it mattered, the beast was still. 

 

As for the shout, it held a level of alarm that meant that it was more than just a call, it was trouble.  "Don't sound good," she answered his question, but as he ran toward the others, she glanced at Speed.  "Gotta get th' horses," she declared.  After all, without the mounts they'd have a long time getting back to any help they might need.

 

She gave Speed a nod, then headed for the nearest animals...Arabesque and the remuda horses, tangled with each other, still for the moment, but snorting nervously, liable to try to bolt at the slightest provocation, and that would only be bad.

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Somewhere in the distance, someone was calling his name, yelling for him actually. Shade could not place the voice at first. His mental processes felt sluggish and disconnected from everything. And, his head hurt to the point that even opening his eyes to the light of day was painful. Gradually, Shade remembered the danger. They, he and someone else, had been hunting a huge...a huge what?


Shade knew he needed to get to his feet or at least try to respond to the voice that was calling his name. He got his eyes opened which did not help much since everything was blurry. Reaching out, he touched what felt like a rock. Grabbing hold, he started to pull himself up but stopped halfway when his right leg tried to buckle beneath his weight. Giving up since neither his head or his leg were cooperating, Shade simply leaned against the boulder.


The voice yelled again, and suddenly everything was crystal clear. He had been tracking the bear when it mounted a counter-attack. Shade's head still hurt horribly, and so did his leg, but he knew who was yelling his name now.


"Quentin!" Shade yelled, now worried more for the hunting party than for his own situation. "Quentin! The bear...." He slid back down the boulder to sit at its base and leaned back on it. Now, what had he been about to say?

 

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The woman had the same thoughts but she went for the horses, which made sense so they didn't lose them due to panic. It was a long enough ride to get this far let alone get stuck walking. Besides, they may well have a wounded one in their party...........or worse. He hoped not as he rushed toward where Quentin was also heading.

Reaching Shade, it only took one quick look to see the bear had gotten him but he was still conscious and seemed to have all his limbs so that was a good thing. There was blood alright but he hadn't been ripped wide open.

"Take it easy...let us check you over," he advised but was going to let Quentin handle that task.

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Quentin slowed until he could see Shade half laying down near some rocks and brush. He slung his rifle across his back while he covered the remaining distance and dropped down beside Shade, helping him lay back down and stop trying to get up. He heard running and glanced up as Aurelian arrived next to him. Quentin  looked back at Shade as he ran his hands along the other man's clothes. There were bloodstains all over but there did not seem to be any marks on his torso. Quentin kept moving down and checking but his hand stopped above one thigh as he felt the heat from the blood. He saw the slow but steady oozing around the fabric. He moved on down but could find no other damage.

 

"Looks like the bear got his leg pretty good. He's not walking out of here. You best go grab some of the mounts and the others and get back here. Bring the medical supplies!"

 

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The smell of the giant beast, even in death stirred the mounts, nostrils flared as they moved about restlessly, several entangled with others keeping them agitated. The Sharps freed, Speed moved to the nearest of the horses and began attempting to calm them down as he worked to untangle the reins, though they were moving they were settling down. It was as if they understood what he was doing.

 

“Who’s down?” He called to Addy, hearing shouts, but uncertain as to the name, what with all the other noise around him. Hopefully whomever was injured it was none to serious. Although, considering the crazed behavior of the Grizzly and the savagery with which he fought anything was a possibility.

 

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It was quickly determined that Shade would need medical attention. There was also the bear's carcass to deal with, and the horses needed rounded up. Since it was late in the day, it was decided to set up camp for the night upwind of the bear. It was risky, but starting back down the mountain with Shade barely able to sit his horse did not make any sense.


The next morning, Shade was still groggy and in pain. Fortunately, since Quentin had carefully cleaned the wounds, the infection had not yet set in. The hunting party quickly saw to a small, quick breakfast and the feeding and watering of their mounts. Quentin would leave out ahead of the rest with Shade's horse on a lead line. The others would follow once the bear's hide and the carcass had been divided up. The night had been good and cold, so the bear meat would not have had time to spoil. However, the animal was very old. It might be that all they got out of it was the hide, grease, teeth, and claws. Addy would at least have souvenirs and the bounty that Lost Lake was paying. They were also paying wages to those that had accompanied them on the hunt.


Quentin arrived at the ranch well ahead of everyone else with Shade's horse in tow. One of the hands was immediately dispatched to ride for the doctor. It was near dark when everyone else arrived. More hands came to admire the bear bits and help unload. With it being nearly dark and Kalispell a good twenty miles from the ranch house, accommodations were found for everyone.


Finally, the great Kodiak bear that had terrorized the region for so long was dead. Soon, his rampages would become campfire tales. The woman that had killed Old Satan would be immortalized in story and song, no doubt with a great deal of embellishment. In the end, except for the souvenirs that Miss Chappel kept for herself, all that was left of the animal was jars of Old Satan Bear Grease that sold for nearly two dollars each.

 

~*~ The End ~*~

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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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