A Favour For The King – Chapter Seven

A Favour For The King – Chapter Seven

Near to Mount Katahdin at the Cagle Estate:

The violent events of a distant primordial era had already laid and determined the geological foundations of this region. Nevertheless, in the current brief snapshot of the present, they had left almost no lasting visible scars of their titanic conflict, and viewed from above, presented a rolling sea of green waves and rippling forested hills punctuated by the arteries of foaming waterways delivering their existential elixir to the ever-thirsting appetite of Appalachian pinewoods. Yet on that day, the green rippling hills were partially masked and shaded by a chilled fog – unusually cold for this time of year – that cloaked the furrows and vales that once belonged to the proud Panawahpskek peoples. Colonial tricks, manipulations and betrayals had seen this honest folk erased from the landscape: Their harmonious existence a futile and fading memory in a region that was increasingly exploited to meet the insatiable needs of its avaricious new masters. However, to say that there were no scars left from the lost past was not quite true. The bitterness that was gradually and insidiously seeping into the land was equally reflected by the spectacular monument known to the lost people of Acadia as “the Greatest Mountain”. Feared and revered in equal measure, the imposing Mount Katahdin cast deep shadows across the neighbouring terrain. Its broad grey crown, partially concealed in cloud, seemed to hold its own stony secrets of which it would not speak.

You wouldn’t have needed to be a biologist, or an architect, or a historian to have realised that the Cagle family house would have soon become merged with the surrounding forest. Sections of the roof, the wooden floors, and the yawning holes in the walls and gaping voids where windows once were, were already being reclaimed by Mother Nature. The figures which now stood in the lengthening afternoon shadows of this ruin, tense, focused and afraid were transient but very real. Dressed for any eventuality in a treacherous climate, armed to the teeth and with eyes black and devoid of emotion like those of a great white shark. Just don’t stop swimming. Ever.

Ed intends to go in from the far side of the building for closer investigation. Vinny is down but stable: The massive injury to his upper torso is life threatening, but the heavy bleeding has been staunched and breathing and pulse were heavy but regular. His mind and body have shut down to focus purely on maintaining these vital signs. Eyes glazed, skin pale with a blue-grey hue and a demeanor that suggests his spirit is somewhere between this world and the next, he will be able to offer thanks to the military training of Rose and her swift intervention if he does – ever – regain consciousness. Meanwhile, MacNifey is moving in to take a closer look at the tent. Caution is paramount with potential traps taking unlikely forms and increasing frequency. The dimensional shambler, who came the closest to fixing a fixer, is continuing to dissolve in a maddening acidic cloud of putrefying vapour.

Sheesh, we’ve seen more of these things now than can be counted on one hand. You’d think you’d meet more Icelandic mobsters in our line of work than you would “dimensional shamblers” but for some reason that I don’t care to contemplate, I keep seeing these assholes trying to turn me, the boss and the rest of the boys into pastrami. I wouldn’t mind if I knew they was just trying to take over business in the North End, or take out some of the Winter Hill Gang, but there ain’t no rhyme nor reason to what they want. And this one nearly popped our Cherry…

Ed avoids a vicious looking trap that would just about cut a man in half… He has switched to his tommy gun. Inside the tent the cluttered and hastily abandoned remains of Native American paraphernalia…

Ed: “I’m in!” Let’s avoid any cases of mistaken identity… No friendly fire when our enemies are so irretrievably alien to everything that we are.

MacNifey follows in, setting off a trap with a piece of wood… Everyone jumps.

MacNifey: “Hey, just keep cool; I’m covering you, Ed.”

Rose also steps into the building. On the upper floor there’s an antique telescope and compass…

Rose: “You’re looking for a knife and a totem!”

McGee checks the perimeter of the building and falls into a bear trap, four feet, luckily no spikes at the bottom. Rose, meanwhile, is giving Cherry more first aid…

MacNifey looks for tracks but can’t discern anything. Ed is thinking about where cultists might be located or conducting rituals……

Meanwhile Rose has assessed Cherry and it’s not looking good. He can’t be moved. Ed goes back down to check Riverman’s body. MacNifey checks the remains of the rooms in the first floor of the ruined house. By sheer luck, McGee spots something in the room MacNifey has just left:

McGee: “Billy get back in the room I spotted something glinting up there! Don’t touch it.”

And indeed, MacNifey finds a knife.

The dagger is made of copper – poisonous to trees. By some weird coincidence, MacNifey remembers that this is a traditional North American Indian knife. But unusual to be made of copper. MacNifey spots blood on the blade – relatively recent… Maybe the last few days.

Ed finds some silver .45 bullets on Riverman and he has probably been injuring himself with the copper knife. Maybe he has been using it to bring Cagle back to life?

MacNifey puts the telescope, knife and compass into his backpack. He avoids touching the knife with his hands.

McGee hears a noise coming from the direction of Mount Katahdin…

McGee: “Listen! Something coming from the East. If it’s Razorshins we’re fucked! Get that knife out MacNifey!”

Ed climbs back up the ladder for some elevation. MacNifey, in the “room” next to him gets down on the floor with Tommy gun ready. Rose covers Vinny and Magee braces himself on a tree… Something is coming!

MacNifey decides to join Ed in the room at the top of the ladder.

Silence suddenly descends on the whispering forest.

Looking through the telescope, MacNifey sees an Indian, with a spear…? MacNifey tells Ed who also has a look through his binoculars.

Below, McGee looks through the scope of his rifle and spots him too…

McGee: “Rose, make like the amateur dramatics society…”

Rose: “Oh! Help!!! Get off me you filthy heathen!”

The Indian is moving quickly now through the forest towards this sudden noise.

Rose can speak Panobscot and says: “You will not have me! You will kill the others!”

The Panobscot Indian stops and prepares to throw his spear!

The Panawahpskek warrior stops, preparing to throw his spear! But not at any of the Fixers. Not at anything visible. He throws and the spear hits something that is materialising just outside the ruins of the Cagle House! Another Dimensional Shambler!

McGee fires and the combination of spear and bullets finishes it off!

The Indian, after throwing, continues to run towards the ruined house.

Rose: “Declare who you are!”

Indian: “I am Black Squirrel”

McGee: “Come friend! Great throw.”

Black Squirrel: “That was because of my spear! I never miss!”

Ed comes out of the building, rifle lowered.

Rose: “What are you doing here?”

BS: “Taking a Spirit Walk.”

Ed: “I too took a Spirit Walk and met a Gahn named Black Squirrel. This is not a coincidence! Put it there buddy!”

Rose: “One of our companions has been injured and I must tell you that Riverman is dead.”

Black Squirrel: “Riverman is dead? That is sad. We tried to bring him back to our way of life but he was lost to us.”

Rose: “What do you know of this house and the medicine performed here?”

Black Squirrel: “This is the house of a pale face and I would only do medicine in the place of my fathers. For the Wind God Ithaqua I would need to go as far north as I can but to invoke him is forbidden.”

Ed: “It is unseasonably cold and misty.”

Black Squirrel: “That is not good, it should not be so. But you walk the way of human beings and not the pale faces. That is good.”

Rose: “Are there any paths that lead to the mountains?”

Black Squirrel: “Yes in the summer we follow animal tracks; it is a bit early but we should be okay.”

Rose: “Do you know Cagle?”
Black Squirrel: “Yes he sold fire water to my people.”

Ed: “I left my weapon in the forest.”

MacNifey holds up the copper knife: “What do you make of this buddy?”

Black Squirrel: “Bad medicine!”

McGee: “Everyone wants this dagger!”

Black Squirrel: “There is another dagger from the sea people that is also magic. It is called The Sea Knife. Only it and this copper knife can harm Razorshins…”

McGee: “So where is the runic knife? Let’s take this fucking house apart! It’s gonna be within the perimeter of the tent. Does that make sense Gentlemen?”

All nod in agreement.

We have the feeling we are being watched. On Magee’s instructions, the strange stone was moved. However, the feeling of being watched is still there.

A more thorough search of the ruined house takes place. No stone is left unturned.

Under the tent, a runic knife is found… The sea knife! The runes are Viking runes. Rose who studied anthropology and archaeology at Columbia University recognises them.

Ed: “Do we need to get to the mountain before nightfall?”

Black Squirrel: “I will help you in any way I can.”

McGee: “He knows we have the knife now. He will stop at nothing to get it back.”

The man traps are re-set. The plan is to then head out to the mountain and scope it out. Rose, McGee, Ed and MacNifey head out, Vinny hides himself at the ruined house and pulls up the ladder so he is difficult to find…

Black Squirrel leads with his superior tracking and he finds the trail easily. It is 6pm and we are heading north towards Mount Katahdin. We make good progress before the light gets too bad. The trees begin to thin out the further north we go. Mount Katahdin’s hooked shaped unusual horseshoe ridge appears level above the horizon, like half of a giant crater. There is no ice or snow on the top of the mountain. The mist has dissipated but it is still cooler than expected at this time of year. The Fixers are warmly clothed but still feel the chill. MacNifey is apprehensive about the approaching darkness…

On the forest floor, there are still large amounts of the magic mushrooms. We find some high ground to get a better view of our surroundings. Felled trees can be seen in the distance. Razorshins? They have clearly been chopped down in the last few days. The Fixers decide to head back to the house before darkness sets in.

Ed: “Why spirit walk now, Black Squirrel?”

Black Squirrel: “I needed to be in a holy place. It was like a strange yearning. A voice in a dream guided me here. Very… odd…”

Every snapping twig, crunching pile of pine needles and flapping wings of a disturbed wood pigeon is amplified to a deafening volume as the Fixers make their way back through the foliage to Cagle’s place. Vincenzo is still clinging to life and he’s the lucky one, he can sleep. But the rest of the Fixers are now finding the impending approach of another night in this unnatural-natural wilderness almost too much to bear..

The boss said it. He said, when this is over and the job is done, take some time out, relax, play some golf or shoot some pool. Take as much time as you need, and when you’re ready to get back to work, call us and you can get right back down to business. I guess it was all well-meaning and well-intentioned, but the hard part is getting THIS job done. Hell, throw in a couple more of them Shamblers, a Riverman, an army of crazy Indians, but don’t send that Razorshins. I don’t mind a bullet to the head. I don’t even mind getting chopped up by a Shambler. But not that scalping. That ain’t a natural way for a man to die…”

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