A Little Bit More

Posted: Thursday, January 18, 2007 by Travis Cody in
8

I posted the beginning of my novel yesterday. Here's a little more from chapter one. I guess I didn't need the delete button after all.

Outlawed

Chapter One
Raid

continued...

Wade McCord was confident. He counted this summer a rousing success, yielding much more than monetary gain. The money and goods he and his brothers had taken wasn't important and it never had been. The ranch they had built over the last ten years within the safety of the Koaler Mountains gave them more than a haven from Crown persecution. It sustained the family, and generated enough produce to feed and clothe the new generation of McCords that sprouted and grew before his eyes.

What motivated Wade McCord and his brothers was revenge. The unjust murder of his father was still an open wound for Wade after a decade. He wasn't the most feared outlaw in the kingdom of Vargus by nature, but by choice born of necessity. It was the only way he could exact some measure of recompense from the Crown that continued to ostracize his family. Crown officials added each new crime to the list of alleged crimes for which David McCord had been executed.

But Wade's children and those of his brothers and sister were blameless. They suffered because of the avarice, jealousy, and greed of the petty monarch who sat the throne of Vargus.

After this summer's raids, there could no longer be any doubt about who reigned supreme on the plains of the kingdom. Crown authorities, regardless of their power to enforce the ban on the McCord family, were laughably inept at preventing McCord attacks on Crown property. Wade and his brothers easily eluded traps and ambushes. A series of well-placed and loyal informers yielded a rich store of information to the McCords. They preyed on stage coaches and wagon trains with virtual impunity. They led any who gave chase on harrowing adventures that often left their pursuers wondering if the notorious McCord family had discovered more than just the normal and expected forms of magic in Vargus.

None of the brothers had suffered serious injury this summer, nor last summer. Of course their lifestyle was dangerous. One or two near misses had occurred, but they had not been cornered or out-numbered or involved in extended gun battles. Minor nicks and scratches were the results of their exploits. All had been handled effortlessly by Troy, whose magic was healing.

Wade checked the progress of the King's Line Stage. He saw the outline of the coach through the trees as it topped the rise. He watched as the shotgunner glanced nervously over his shoulder, probably spooked by the sudden increase in speed of the three riders behind him. Wade snorted derisively.

He shifted in his saddle and absently gestured to his left. Collin, rifle cocked in readiness and pointed toward the sky, squeezed off a round.

*****

Drew Compton was sweating. He was on his first tour of duty and he was ready for action and glory. His earliest recollections were of the stories told by his cousins of their exploits in service to the Crown. He dreamt of himself following in their boots, serving the King.

His father had spent money the family really couldn't afford to send his only son to school. Drew had vowed to pay that back with competent service, a portion of his wages every month. . .and more medals than could fit across his chest. He could still see the faces of his mother and father and his sisters. They were full of pride as he walked up the podium steps to receive his papers from the First Instructor of Tactics himself.

Drew Compton had been 19 and a Tactical School graduate.

Now he was six months into his first hitch as a member of one of the finest military traditions in the kingdom of Vargus. He was a scout in the Corps based in Gallatin.

His grades had been average so officer school was not an option. He did not qualify to choose his favored posting either, closer to the political intrigues and intense action he craved. His plan was to rise through the ranks by deed, maybe receive a service commission as an officer, and someday command the Corps. Being stationed at the far reaches of the kingdom did not fit well into his plan.

Still, he was in the Corps of scouts, not a mere trooper in conscripted military service, and he was certainly pleased with his duties. Shepherd was a retirement community, populated with aged political appointees and a number of minor nobles. Drew was the youngest person in the town, and had been adopted as a de facto grandson by a number of the leaders of the community. He reveled in the stories he heard, and learned a great deal about the intrigues of living at court. He was beginning to understand just what it would take to achieve his goal when he had been ordered on this mission.

Riding shotgun was a necessary chore. It gave him a plausible cover for his more important assignment, which was to keep his eyes open for signs of McCord activity in this northwest region.

Things had been relatively quiet during his six months in Shepherd. He had used the time wisely. He spoke to the people and he read. He wrote reports on what he saw and heard. He was somewhat disturbed by the attitude of many of the residents toward Wade McCord. They did not see the notorious outlaw as anything but a victim. Drew knew him to be a cold-blooded killer, but these older citizens had been at court when David McCord was tried and found guilty of treason. Their version of events differed from what Drew had learned at school.

The execution was nothing more than judicial murder, maintained some of the people of Shepherd. Others considered it a calculated move by the King to secure what was at that time a somewhat unstable crown. Still others considered the cause something as simple and base as jealousy and fear of the power David McCord wielded within the Council of Vargus.

Drew Compton discounted much of what he had heard, yet it made him question some of the things he thought he knew. One of his instructors had said once that history would always be written by the victor. From what he had learned thus far in Shepherd, Drew considered that this statement was probably true.

He wiped the back of his hand across his brow. Sweat stung his eyes. He had been through Clancy Woods only once before, on his way to Shepherd to officially accept his duties. He spent his first month in active service becoming familiar with the area. He considered stories about raids along the road. He read of the tactical advantage a group of determined, well-armed outlaws gained by using Clancy Woods. He was versed in the mistakes made by those who sought to defend the cargoes and people they carried.

From his studies, Drew concluded that there were two ways to proceed. The first was to stop the coach and give up whatever the bandits wanted. The second was to spur the horses and ride through any ambush and not stop until the coach pulled in at Barret's Ford.

Drew had come up with a suggestion that might give stagecoaches a better chance to get through the Woods unscathed. He thought that a simple job of gardening could alleviate much of the cover along the road through the woods. Chop a few trees and burn off some scrub, and produce an effective killing ground that might make the McCords reconsider hijacking any more stage coaches. Drew carried this report in his pack and would deliver it to his field commander as soon as they reached Barret's Ford.

At the moment, he sweated. He wondered if it had gotten hotter. It was strange. He was in the northwest corner of Vargus and it was early fall. The temperature should be a good 20 degrees cooler than what he felt. Sweat continued to flow freely beneath the wide brim of his service cap. It trickled irritatingly down his back and into the waistband of his breeches. He was painfully aware of his isolation.

Drew Compton craned his neck to take another look behind him. His heart began to explode against his ribs as he saw that the riders behind had closed the gap.

8 comments:

  1. Duckles says:

    Great story Trav!!

  1. Maryfly says:

    excellent! Can't wait to read more.

  1. Anndi says:

    *hugs to my sweet and dear bro*

    You have a gift darlin!

  1. TopChamp says:

    Then what happened!?!

    I'll be back to find out.

  1. TopChamp says:

    You're right to post wee bits - bite sized chunks that I'll have time to read in a one-er... but at the same time I want to know what happens next.

    Do you get TV show dramas that they show over two nights? They also drive me mad as I'm too impatient. (also as I have not realised they've been 2part things in the past and have only caught the first half so never find out what happens or who did it)

  1. tiggerprr says:

    Having lots of fun reading your story! I want to try writing a story, but haven't been brave enough yet. Maybe someday. :)

  1. Bond says:

    Came back to re-read, as I was in a "Her Fate" mode when first published.

    This is one hell of a story trav

  1. julie says:

    Very colorful words...you are a master of words Travis!