This is an excerpt of a historical, Christian romance I am re-writing. Let me know what you think and if I need to do anything to clean it up. Have I got your attention and desire to read more? Feedback from an audience would be very welcome.
Darkness had fallen and men moved along the forest shadows just outside the open grounds of a new farming settlement. The ground was still raw from the men who cleared it to make room for their little houses and long fields – soon to be planted with wheat and corn. Fifteen men watched the soft glow of the houses and stables, waiting for the fires to burn out or to be extinguished. Not long before this happened, a rider approached the settlement alone and stayed behind the stables so anyone moving from the house to the stables could not spy them. Many of the pairs of eyes gleamed with greed as they watched the beautiful white mare prance beside her rider after the small slip of a person slid down and quietly removed the tack from the animal. The hood of the cloak the rider wore slid off as the heavy fall of chestnut waves became too much for the material to contain. Several of the watchers began shifting restlessly.
A single man was on the far side of the settlement opposite the fifteen men and scouting for signs of just how many people can be expected inside the houses. He looked up when a woman led a white mare around the side of the stables, then gave it hand signals to stay while she quickly slipped inside the stables. The white mare obeyed and waited for her rider, passively. Muskogizek felt his heart jerk painfully in his chest. He knew that rider. Fear for the woman caused him to silently abandon his mission to get closer to that side of the stables. His eyes darted around for signs of a companion. He was about to move closer, but ducked down when the woman returned to coax the horse into the stables.
Muskogizek moved along the line of trees parallel to the stables, working his way toward the direction the woman rode in from. The signs confirmed she was traveling alone. But, why? It was too dangerous for a woman of her breeding to be traveling alone, especially with the war going on now between the British and the French. While the Great Lakes region was not directly affected, conflicts at the posts and the routing of British settlements, as well as the local animal threats, was enough to make travel dangerous for a lone woman.
He was so absorbed in the tale the signs were telling him, that he did not notice the woman return to a small camp she made behind the stables. He did notice when she made a small fire to heat a small pot of tea over. She was so well-versed in making a fire with so little smoke; no one at the settlement would have noticed someone camped behind their stables. However, the small light the fire gave off was noticed by fifteen pairs of eyes in the woods surrounding the settlement.
Muskogizek could see their shadows shifting through the trees as they grouped together to plan. He noticed they were changing their plans as they spread out again, focusing more on the lone woman than the settlement. They were not even going to wait for him to return from scouting. It became clear to Muskogizek what their intentions were and he vowed to God he would stop them or die trying.
Occasionally an owl or a snort from the nearby stables would break the silence, even the insects didn’t stir at this hour. That was when the young, orphaned British woman that slept so soundly under the stars was awakened by a stirring behind her in the woods. Wolves? No, couldn’t be, she would see glowing eyes blinking at her through the darkness. It must be men. Indians, maybe? As she tried to see through the darkness, her hand slipped under her bed roll and grasped at the cold metal of her father’s pistol. She shivered, brought the covers up around her shoulders more, and watched the shadows move from tree to tree. She sent up a prayer for courage and cocked the pistol.
She thought for sure she would be safer near a farming settlement than deeper into the woods. Abandoned the first night of her journey back to New York, she was determined to continue on. She couldn’t go back. There was nothing for her back there.
Tension fell upon the night as thick as the fast moving clouds. The British woman watched the clouds and wondered if it might storm tomorrow. As she contemplated over the weather, a large dark cloud covered the sky like a blanket. Under the protection of the additional darkness, the creatures in the woods became more bold and ventured closer to the British woman.
Muskogizek crouched with a long spear he fashioned from a nearby branch. In his other hand was a dagger given to him as a gift from a commanding officer at Fort Michilimachinaw. He waited for the men in the forest to make their move. Why they hesitated for so long, he couldn’t tell, but he was certain they knew she would resist or they wouldn’t wait for her to put out the fire and lay down on her bed room to sleep.
The darkness deepened and Muskogizek looked up to see the cloud cover blotted out any light from the stars. The shadows in the tree line started to move again. Muskogizek’s heart was racing and all of his muscles bunched in anticipation of the fight that would begin soon.
The first man to break into the clearing had a crooked nose. He was tall, muscled, but not hugely and had a shock of brown hair that continually fell into his eyes. The man’s eyes were wide with hunger and Muskogizek began to see red with the rage that overwhelmed him. Without being consciously aware he had made the decision, Muskogizek shot out quickly and silently from the tree line on an intercept course. Unfortunately, he was further away and didn’t leave quickly enough. The man had landed on top of the woman who screamed, inciting an owl to screech in protest. The scream was cut off by the man’s hand, while the other hand groped the woman, trying to pull her skirts up.
Muskogizek ran right up to the man and kicked him flat-footed in the face. The man’s head snapped back and a couple of teeth dropped out of his mouth as he rolled off the woman in a stupor. Two men came in from either direction at Muskogizek. He spun, flinging out the spear to hit the man to his right with the butt of his spear in his solar plexus, then the tip of the spear slicked across the cheek of the man to his left.
Four men took their place and hesitated when they realized they were attacking their own scout.
“You will not touch her,” he told them in French.
They shifted, then one elbowed his friend with a grin. “He wants her for himself,” he told his friend.
Muskogizek’s face was fierce, but he did not reply. The men chuckled. They began to walk non-aggressively toward the woman, lying in shock on the ground and panting while one of her hands felt blindly around her bed roll. “You will be last after what you did to Antonne, Paris, and Jean,” one of the men said.
Two of the men lunged at Muskogizek to hold him while the other two lunged at the woman who tired to claw at their faces. They laughed, batted her hands away, tore off her cloak, and pulled at the bodice of her dress until you could hear the material rendering. She kicked and bit at them while Muskogizek fought the men trying to disarm and hold him.
Muskogizek stopped watching what was happening to the woman for a moment and focused on the two men trying to hold him. He wrenched free from one man’s grip on his arm and threw the dagger into the other man’s boot. He went down with a scream while Muskogizek brought the heel of his now free hand up into the nose of the first man, breaking his nose.
The women let out a brief scream which was cut off at the sound of flesh hitting flesh. Muskogizek turned quickly to see the woman crumple at the feet of a man just withdrawing his fist from a blow. The woman’s dress was off completely, leaving her only in a chemise, corset and petticoats. With a roar, he rammed into the man who delivered the blow that rendered her unconscious, knocking them both to the ground so he was straddling the man’s chest and punching him repeatedly until the man stopped moving beneath him. Slowly, he stood, blood dripping from his knuckles, and turned to the man still holding the shredded remains of the woman’s dress. The man was looking around at all of his fallen companions, realization suddenly dawning on him at just how dire his circumstances were. His panicked gaze flew to Muskogizek who was stalking toward the man who lifted the torn dress before him as though it would act as a shield against the Indian. Muskogizek picked up the spear and sent it whirling through the air for a side blow to the temple, knocking the man down. Muskogizek jumped on the man’s back, putting the spear against the man’s trachea.
Muskogizek leaned in to the gasping man to put his lips close to his ear. “That was her favorite dress,” he growled and shifted his weight to deliver the killing thrust, but the spear was ripped from his hands.
He was grabbed from behind and dragged to his feet. A man better dressed than the rest stepped in front of Muskogizek. “You are under arrest for treason. We’ll take you back to the post for sentencing.” The man looked at the unconscious woman and demanded from the rest of his men, “Bring her.”
As men bent to pick her up, Muskogizek pulled free of the men holding him and pushed them away. He scooped the woman up into his arms and faced the men watching him. “Only I will touch her. She will stay confined with me and only I will attend to her.” Then, he began walking back to the horses tethered in the trees deeper in the woods. No one challenged him.
Please take note that this is my own work from my own imagination. All characters are purely fictional and any resemblance in any way to anyone is merely coincidental. Any copying and redistribution of this material will also fall within copyright infringement.