Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Monday, December 31, 2012

The Horn of Battle - Part Three

Warm familiar smells. A soft bed. Somewhere nearby she heard her father's deep voice. She was dreaming about the last time she heard his voice.

She felt his voice before she even heard his words. It rumbled deep in her chest. He was holding her face, leaning in close, and looking softly in her eyes, saying those hated words, “It's the law, Kai. I have to go.

She opened her eyes. A familiar, friendly face appeared above her, expressive eyebrows were knitted together with worry, then he was smiling, “Hi Kai.”


Then another welcome face came into view, the lovely Clara. “You're awake. Thank heaven.” Clara and Cowboy grinned at each other then looked back at Kai wrapped in the finest blankets on the softest bed.

Kai blinked hard then remembered, “My father! Where is he? The hog. What happened? ” She tried to get up.

“Oh no...no...no. You lay right there, Kai. We need to get you fixed up.” Clara motioned across the room. They were in her mother's bed chamber. Torches threw soft light and braisers burned heat into the darkened room. Kai could see the big man abed across the room. Her mother had been sitting in a chair beside him but had collapsed to lay across his chest. His huge hand very nearly covered her mother's entire head. She was sleeping fitfully. He cradled her and whispered something. Kai could feel his voice comforting OFG in her troubled sleep.

As always Col Ti stood at attention nearby, guarding his liege. His eyes were respectfully averted but he was ever alert. When he caught motion from Kai's bed he looked up. Col Ti subtly nodded at Kai. Then he leaned down to a waiting page and gave a quiet order. The page slipped silently out of the room.

“My father. I want to see him. What...What's wrong with my mother.. I should.. Mother?” Said Kai concern in her voice.

Clara gently pushed Kai back onto her pillows. “She's been awake for these three days, Kai, this is the first that she's slept. We finally convinced her to get some rest. We promised to watch over you - she hasn't left your side this whole time.” Clara was kind but firm. “We should let her be.” Then lighter, “We're just glad you are finally awake.”

Kai looked around still confused, “I've been asleep for three days? What happened?”

Cowboy laughed, “More like what didn't happen! You should have seen it, Kai. That was a battle for the story tellers!” Cowboy and Clara laughed like they where sharing a secret joke. He continued, “It starts with a Princess who ran off ….alone.” His look scolded her but then Cowboy grinned and laughed.

“Oh no.” Said Kai miserably, “Am I in trouble? Wait – what happened to that hog? And how did I get back here?”

Cowboy and Clara settled in around Kai and they started telling the tale....

The battle line had formed quickly and they thundered thru the night. OFG had sent rangers ahead and even the fastest scouts struggled to keep up with Kai as she sped thru the night toward the sound of her father's horn.

“Hold the line!” Bellowed Col Ti from beside OFG, his voice rising above the pounding hooves and paws and claws. Even in the deep woods the battle line held. It had to.

Up ahead Col Ti's sharp ears could hear Kai's frightened scream. “Commander Zander! LionSlayers! Advance!” Col Ti's voice rang loud and clear. The young captain surged ahead, his huge shoulders and strong legs powered him ahead of the line of battle. Otto, the huge red warrior, and his band of fighting men broke from the line and shot ahead thru the night. Behind them Cowboy and another figure raced out as well.

The giant hog, wild with fear and pain, had just taken careful aim at his victim, the injured and helpless Princess Kai, when Zander's dread war howl shattered the night. The hog swung its head around just in time to see the fierce, determined Zander hurtling into the clearing. In an instant the young captain was upon the hog. Half a heart beat later the giant Otto had joined the fray. Quick and sure young Cowboy, teeth bared and all snarls, positioned himself between the brawling hog and Princess Kai. Brave Clara was there as well, covering Kai's head with her body and pulling her cape over Kai's broken figure.

The battle line crashed into the clearing.

“Kai!” Screamed OFG and she kicked her mount forward. But Col Ti grabbed her reins and held them tight. He gave her a hard look. “He has it in hand, Sir.” He said firmly over the noise of the still advancing line. OFG jerked her reins and began to protest. “I said, Zander has it well in hand. Sir.”

OFG pursed her lips and looked at her first in command. They had warred together for so long they knew each others thoughts. He was right. She was needed to rule and command. It was unwise for her to join the fight. She gave a curt nod then snapped her gaze back toward the clearing.

Otto's LionSlayers had formed a circle around the fierce fight but with the huge red warrior astride the horrible hog and Commander Zander's tremendous jaws ripping at the hog's terrible throat the end was surely near. Never had been heard such a foul sound in the Land as the last horrible, gurgling, shrieking scream from that huge and terrible hog. At last it lay dead. Zander, his mouth and throat dripping with fresh blood, stood over the hog. It was over. Zander lay back his mighty head and howled his victory. Otto and his LionSlayers joined in the death song.

“Hens Fifth! Advance!” OFG swung her battle axe indicating the far side of the clearing “Retrieve that man!” A contingent of war hens armed with round shields and short swords raced toward the fallen Gato Diablo. The sound was of armor clanking and feet marching together as they raced in his direction.

There was no way to tell if another demon hog roamed in the night. The battle line was on full alert. They could hear the rangers fanning out and encircling the clearing. At least they would have some warning if they were attacked. OFG knew they needed to exercise great caution. Danger abounded.

“Goose Third! Testudo!” OFG pointed toward the fallen man. “And someone get that stallion under control!”

Some of the younger ducks had raced forward and were trying to catch the enormous black horse. But it was still wild with fear, rearing and kicking. “It's no good, Sir!” Screamed back a young drake named Greenwing and he flung himself on the ground narrowly avoiding the killing hoof strikes of the terrified horse. It was well known that the enormous, unnamed black horse had descended from the mighty fighting Thracian battle horses. There were few in the Lands capable of handling such magnificent beasts. Not only did they bear their riders into battle but these horses would fight as well.

“Horse Master!” Bellowed OFG. The battle line instantly split down the middle, with the center two war hens taking a step back and to the side forming a straight passageway in the column. A small but sure one ran from the back ranks.

Horse Master Harley was from the House of Vahl Irie in the Mountain Lands. She was strong and stocky and had a knowing about her that few understood but all revered. Brave and courageous she mastered horsekind many times her size. She had great renown. Beloved of her master Harley was entrusted to The Good Land for a short time. Her presence was a treasure and it was most fortuitous that she was here when most needed. No other could tame the enormous black horse – least of all when it was out of its mind with terror.

Eying the great beast as if seeing the unseen, the Horse Master circled around in the front of the nervous horse and said the calming words. The horse anxiously tossed his great head and snorted as Harley moved closer. Then the giant horse relaxed and snorted again stamping the ground, this time resigned. Harley took the reins and quickly led the horse back thru the ranks, which closed up neatly as they passed.

Meanwhile the war hens of the Fifth had made their way to Gato Diablo. They circled the crumbled body forming a protective barrier. Quickly some of the hens formed a kind of stretcher with their shields. Gato was lifted gently unto the shields by the contingent's leader, an enormous rooster named BlackJack. The hens retreated back to the line in double time. Gato Diablo was loaded unto a cart and the Healers began their work.

OD and the heavily armored Goose Third division skillfully moved as a unit toward the big man. Each battle goose carried a long shield that covered his body from the top of his head to below the knee. They were known for their bravery and steadfastness. Each linked his shield with the one next to him forming a moving wall of metal.

“Stay together! Half Time! Together I said, you maggots!” OD yelled to his men, “Now testudo!” The great battle goose, OD, was tough but fair. He was relentless with his discipline but his division could always be counted on to get the job done.

As one the battle geese locked their shields together and then lowered them so that the bottom edge of the shields rested on the ground. The inner ranks then shifted their shields aloft forming a lid. They had formed an impenetrable iron cask around and over top of the big man. OD, at the center, was the last to clank his shield closed at the very top and center of the formation. Even tho muffled from inside the iron tortoise they could all hear him yelling courage and conviction into his men.

“Half time! Retreat!” Came the order and then slowly the huge metal shell moved back toward the battle line.

Commander Zander wiped the blood from his mouth and staggered toward his fallen sister. Clara was trying to rouse Kai but there was no response. Zander carefully knelt down, wrapped Kai in Clara's black cloak, and gently carried her to OFG.

“Mother I.. I...tried to get to her in time... I...” Zander was nearly over come as he lifted Kai up onto his liege's saddle. OFG blinked back tears, took the precious bundle from him, and held Kai close.

“We have her now, Zander, it will be alright.”

Keeping Kai in her arms, OFG turned her mount and headed back to the Great Hall. Immediately her personal guard formed up close around her. Someone led her mount and they moved off at a fast trot with Cowboy and Clara close behind. Zander watched them go, his heart aching. The great warrior Otto quietly approached Zander and placed a hand on the young captain's shoulder. There was nothing to be said.

Col Ti was barking orders to the troops. “Secure this area! Rangers in all directions! Scouts report on the quarter hour.” There was much work to be done. The battle line sprung to action as each raced to do their appointed job.

Suddenly his anger caught up with him and Col Ti shouted, “And somebody get me a pole axe!” Col Ti took the great weapon that was proffered and stalked over to the carcass of the horrible hog.

“What happened to Gato Diablo?” Asked Kai as she took a long drink of the rich, hot broth that the serving ducks had brought. There was also roast meats, fresh raw liver, and cool water. Cowboy and Clara were eating from the great serving platters arranged on Kai's bed.

“Oh that.” Said Cowboy with a slight grimace.

It was known that Gato Diablo was quite mad. Upon waking he had torn at the Healers in a shrieking rage causing several of them to require medical attention. They had done their best to sedate him but not even the strongest potions worked. Gato Diablo was completely wild and could not be soothed. His blood curdling screams could be heard through the Hall. Finally in desperation, heavily armed guards wrestled the demented Gato Diablo to the ground and he was taken away to the deepest part of the keep.

“You mean he's in the dungeon?” Asked Kai incredulously.

“Well.... to be fair its more like the basement, Kai.” Answered Cowboy.

She raised her eyebrows. “So.....a basement cat?”

“Just so. As it were.” Cowboy shrugged and looked away afluster. Clara stifled a snicker. Kai just nodded.

Gato Diablo's shrill shrieks continued unabated for two days and nights. Finally they sent for Moose the White from an order of holy men known to be alchemists. Moose arrived in a small cart drawn by a half lame young goatling named Princess.

By torchlight Little Mo quickly showed Moose down to the stronghold where Gato Diablo was being kept – they followed the sound of bone chilling screams. The moment Moose entered the cell the screaming stopped. Then the door opened and Moose carried out the sleeping Gato Diablo. Without a word of explanation Moose walked back to his cart, loaded up Gato Diablo and started to drive away.

“But wait!” Yelled an extraordinary agitated Little Mo, “Where are you taking him! Where shall I say you've gone?”

“He'll know.” Called back Moose the White.

“And that was that.” Cowboy finished. Clara handed him another morsel of meat from the platter. Kai looked a little puzzled at the whole thing.

“But what of that hog?” Asked Kai, already feeling stronger and getting the sparkle back in her eye. “I'd like to have myself the biggest of that hog's bones – that would surely make a fine meal.”

Clara grinned widely and gestured at the platters. “Your wish has already come true. But..um... there are no long bones. After Col Ti got done poleaxing that hog carcass...well... there were only small pieces left. They are tender and delicious though!. Clara laughed easily and they all reached for another piece of roasted hog.

Suddenly their attention was called to the door as in hurried Zander. “Sister! Oh thank the heavens!” He crossed the room and swept Kai up in an embrace. Then pulling back to look at her he breathed, “We've been so worried.” He hugged her again. Zander then settled in next to Kai and accepted a cup of broth with his thanks. 

“You are welcome, Zander, hush though, we are trying to let your mother sleep.” Said Clara as she nodded her head toward OFG and the big man

Across the room OFG had started to stir but the big man had pulled her close and was murmuring to her again. His deep voice rumbled inside of Kai's chest but she still could not make out his words.

“Hey Kai, do you want to know what he's saying?” Ask Cowboy, broadly smiling.

“No. That's alright, Cowboy. ” Answered Princess Kai turning back and grinning to her brother and her friends, “I think I know.”


David said...

I was just about to go out, even had my coat and hat on (still do..) and read this latest installment. Wonderful. Can't wait to find out what happens next!

Chai Chai said...

"A contingent of war hens armed with round shields and short swords raced toward the fallen Gato Diablo."

You missed an opportunity here, I was sure you were going to say that the hens were "armed to the teeth!"

Charlotte Boord said...

Whew! I was so afraid we were going to lose someone... Oh me of little faith!

Unknown said...

I thought of you when I saw some pigz fabric at Joann's Fabric, it said "I love bacon", it's posted on my blog :)
Little Homestead in Boise

Provender Place said...

Thanks for the great read! I sat right down with a cuppa hot tea and just enjoyed.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Thanks Damummis!

Dave, thanks so much. I loved that you sat there with your hat and coat. That means a lot to me. :-D

You bet they were armed to the teeth, Chai Chai! ha!

Hi Charlotte, I'll tell you a secret - it tool me so long to finish this b/c I kept going to check my Kai to make sure she was alright! it was so upsetting to me that she was injured in the story! ha! I'm such a goose.

Nancy - thats so much fun! thanks for sharing!

I'm glad you liked it FF! and thanks so much for you comment about it on your blog! great work on your new site btw!

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