The Almighty BushGod by Frank Skwierc A Book in the Making

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The Almighty BushGod

By Frank Skwierc

Chapter One

Brief Encounter

In an ancient time a man lay quietly in a bed made of straw starring out into the deep and clear night sky.  He wants to believe in Love but finds he has no such emotions lying within.  Yet, this very same man professes an undying love for a woman.  How can such a beast latch hold of a man’s heart and deny it of such an unknown yet wondrous feeling.  He turns uneasily onto his side for he is also tormented with his own demons, those of mortal man.  Wanted for crimes committed long ago that are now fading into his past he lives a life of a fugitive.  Nearing forty the strength and agility he once prized so much in his life is also fading.  The thick hard muscles he once possessed in his youth are now grown weaker and softer.  He keeps his graying red hair cropped closely to his scalp.  Suddenly, the silence that ran so deep just seconds before is broken by voices coming from outside the shelter of the barn.  It is two men talking in short staccato tones.  The sound of their voices are indistinguishable to the once feared worrier of his time. The man reaches beside him and grasp his sword, not to leap down from the loft and race outside into battles, but he grasped it to control the deep seeded fear that lay within him.  In his mind he asks himself, {God why is it that a man who has lived a life such as I have, does not welcome death?  But instead I fear it.  What is it that you keep from me that I feel I must live, no matter how unpleasant life may become?}

He sits silently waiting for an answer, but finds that not even his own mind will comfort him with one.  The two men outside the barn suddenly burst into laughter as the sultry voice of a woman is now present outside the walls.  Light mummers and laughter is all that the man known only as {Brief Encounter} can hear from his straw bed in the loft of the barn.  Brief pulls himself slowly up the side of the barn using his sword to balance him.  He moves in closer to the hole in the roof and as he nears the opening the voices now become clearer.  He attentively listens now, and overhears the woman asking the two men outside the shelter what their business was in town.  Brief learns that they are after the bounty that’s on his head and have been tracking him for weeks and that is what brings them to this part of the country.  A breeze of crisp mountain air rushes threw the opening in the roof, ad sends chills running across Briefs’ face and hands.  He brushes one hand over his face to ward off the cold breeze and grasp the heel of his sword firmer to warm the other.

Foul words are heard much louder now as the two men and the woman are hit with the same light gale of wind that also gives them a chill of their own.  Briefs’ mind begins to ease as hears the woman shouting to the two men to come join her at the hostelry for a quart of port wine.  The two men accept and the three of them go clamoring off until the voices are no more.  Brief slowly eases himself back down to the warmth and comfort of his mattress of straw.  He curls to one side and kneads the straw closer to his body for warmth.  Then he begins to beg his mind and body for a quick nod to sleep, for once both mind and body oblige him.  As Brief sleeps he dreams of the long journey ahead of him.  How he must cross the great mountains heading north threw Saxon territory, and once over the mountains he enters the territories of the Huns and Romans who are currently at each-others’ throats.  Among them are the bounty hunters that would love to take Briefs head for the fifty gold talons that are affixed upon it.

However, Briefs’ fight now is not with the Saxons, Huns, or Romans, he is after a group of Cossacks.  The same Cossacks that raided the small settlement and is holding his Queen Trish captive in exchange for him.  Unfortunately for the Cossacks, Brief has no intentions of just turning himself over to them.  Each night while he dreams he fights this battle with the Cossacks over and over and the outcome is always the same, but even knowing that this may be his last quest, he is determined to see it through.  Some may think he is doing this out of love, but how can that be when Brief has not yet known what those feelings are.  Besides, how can one know this muse called love when no one can define what love really is?  Brief is only doing this because of a vow he made to Trish several years back.  He promised her that he would always be there in her hour of need.  Never has that need been as great as it is right now.

Brief stirs restlessly as the cawing of a crow awakens him.  He squints his eyes against the amber glow of the Sun as it begins to streak threw the tattered roof above him. In a rushed realization to reality he frantically gathers his meager belongings together and descends the broken step ladder to the ground.  Listening carefully he makes sure that his sudden arousal has not been noticed.  Lashing the heavy iron sword to his side he makes his way to an open door, after insuring that there is no one about, he leaves the protective sanctuary of the barn and disappears into the thick cold fog that shrouds over the landscape.

Moving quickly and in relative silence Brief crosses the now frosted pasture land to the woods beyond.  The thick fog covers his movements from prying eyes, but the sound from his footsteps crushing the lightly frozen grassland keeps Brief on the alert.  An encounter now in the open pasture is a fight that Brief would not so soon wish to contend with.  Brief finally reaches the edge of the forest, he stops – turns – and kneels.  Silently he scans the pasture for any sound or movement coming his way.  Satisfied that he is not being trailed he rises, turns and quickly makes his way deeper into the woods to the spot where he left Barnicle his newly acquired steed.  Confident now that he is not being followed Brief slows his pace through the woods and recalls what he heard the two men saying the night before.  He remembers that the men mentioned that they were only tracking him for weeks and not years.  He now realizes that the two men tracking him must have been sent after him when he too Barnicle and some petty coin from the Corsican Bandits he had been hiding out with.

Warlock, Barnicles’ previous owner and leader of a savory lot of thugs and thieves, has always known about the fifty gold talons offered for the Head of the Almighty BushGod, but only now did he piece the puzzle together and make the connection that Brief Encounter and the BushGod maybe one in the same.  Brief will now have to contend with new riders on his heels has Warlock told any of them who they are really after.  Brief feels no regrets for the added danger that he has brought on himself by stealing from thieves, because without Barnicle and the money he took he would not have the resources to retrieve and save Trish.

Brief is awakened from his thoughts to the pounding of hoofs against the permafrost.  It’s his horse Barnicle ever alert and very much aware that his new master is forth coming.  Brief greets the animal with a strong firm slap on his shoulder.  Then reaching into a pocket in the thick bearskin hide that Brief is wearing to ward off the sudden change of weather threw the mountains and pulls out a hand filled with sugarcane stalks warmed from the heat of his body.  He offers up the hand full of cane to the horse and Barnicle devours the stalks of cane so quickly that Brief checks his hand to insure all his fingers are still accounted for.  After putting a saddle and bridle on Barnicle the two continue their journey through the mountains.  Barnicle begins galloping hard and strong as man and horse zigzag their way through the trees, with Brief on a constant vigil for their only enemy, Man…

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Published by

BushGod

Retired Lt. Comdr Navy

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