Words On Wednesday

Posted: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 by Travis Cody in
8

This is the beginning of my novel, a portion of the first chapter. Very few have ever read it. I'm extremely nervous about having it posted here - the delete button is very comforting.


OUTLAWED

CHAPTER ONE
Raid

Brant McCord sat motionless in his saddle, the leaves of a large maple tree rustling in gentle protest to a sudden wispy breeze. Man and equine were indistinct, blending thoroughly with their surroundings, waiting patiently for the signal.

Clay McCord swung down from his perch in the tree to settle on his own horse next to his brother. He put his closed left fist to his lips, telling Brant more in that simple gesture than words could ever convey. No matter how softly one spoke, one could not prevent the timber of one's voice from disturbing the serenity of the forest life in any stretch of woods. A human voice at the wrong moment, or even the suggestion of human activity, could touch off a chain of wildlife reactions that in turn might mark the difference between dismal failure and lucrative success.

Silent gestures, long familiar and practiced between the brothers since childhood, had helped them to foil small game. Now they and the rest of their family survived by the skill.

Clay placed his flat palm against his shoulder, completing the signal to confirm that the others had moved into position and the raid would continue as planned. Clay reviewed his list of tasks and mentally checked each one as accomplished. He gathered his reins and adjusted the fit of the pistol he wore in a leather holster strapped to his right hip. He was ready.

Brant waited for final word. His body tensed suddenly, and then he reached across and gripped his younger brother's shoulder. He closed his eyes and cocked his head. Clay turned and waited, recognizing the signs that Brant was receiving a message through his horse from their brother Wes.

The McCord men possessed in assorted measure the magic to be found in the kingdon of Vargus. All nine wielded talents of formidable might. Wes and Brant were able to establish deep rapport with their equine companions, to varying degrees. Brant's talent was limited to providing a conduit for information. He was able to involve up to three others in any link he formed.

Through this link came to Brant and Clay their final instructions. From this point, no variance would be made to the plan. Everyone was in position. No mounted guards were evident, and no patrols had been discovered. There was only one shotgun rider apparent and he was posted on the seat next to the driver.

Standard procedure for the McCords on a stagecoach raid was to find an attack point with dense cover to all sides of the objective. Shrubs and rocks would do, but trees were most favored. McCord horses had always been considered the best in the realm, and that had not changed in the ten years the family had spent in forced exile. The magical attributes of these equines were of the highest quality and unequalled reliability. However, perfection was rare and even these truly remarkable equines had weaknesses. They were most effective when surrounded by sturdy trees, since trees were embedded in nutrient rich soil. This soil housed the mysterious magical properties that equines conducted to humans.

Soft dirt enhanced the magic all around. The horses were better able to read and anticipate the attitude of a nosy squirrel or passing blue jay, as opposed to the haphazard and inconsistent thoughts of a snake slithering amidst a rocky outcrop. Men whose lives depended on such information could make more effective use of their own talents as well.

One seemingly routine raid had dissolved into near disaster when an undetected snake spooked a McCord mount, unexpectedly pitching its rider into the path of the targeted wagon train. Several of the brothers had been wounded in a burst of gunfire during that fiasco. A daring operation had been staged to rescue the unfortunate brother who had been captured.

A general conviction and an unspoken rule evolved from the experience. In the future, attacks would be planned around wooded areas to take utmost advantage of every skill in the McCord arsenal, magical or mundane.

Clancy Woods was an oddity. It was dark, dense, and unnerving, springing seemingly out of nowhere as one rode along an otherwise featureless grassy plain. This worked to the McCord's further advantage, since coach drivers were already jumpy upon entering the forest.

Clay and Brant were stationed to one side of the narrow road that would be to the right of the driver when the coach was stopped. Wes and Tom paralleled the younger men, directly across on the left. From both sides the four were able to anticipate and prevent any nasty surprises that could often ruin a well-planned and carefully thought out coach attack.

The tactic was uncannily effective. The men trusted to their bond of brotherhood, and to the added benefits of experience and the contact between well-bred magical animals.

The predictability of their procedures did much to protect them as well. The McCord brothers raided a coach the same way every time. Because the dynamics of the attacks were always the same, Crown authorities refused to believe that such insolent constancy would continue.

The McCords and the Crown participated in an advanced and deadly form of the boyhood game dare and double-dare. Crown authorities dared the McCords to repeat, and the McCords taunted the Crown with that very predictability. The situation was ludicrous in its potential for disaster. Clay could have laughed.

But not now.

In moments, the coach would be stopped. Clay heard the horses laboring up the slight sloping trail that led into the woods. Three of his brothers would be arranged in the path of the coach, out of its direct line of sight until it crested the bump and rounded a little bend. Three others followed the coach, far enough behind to be taken for innocuous, casual travelers using the same road.

Simple, effective, seldom modified tactics, with everything going exactly as it always did.

Clay stifled a yawn.

8 comments:

  1. Maryfly says:

    what a wonderful concept. I love it and am anxious for more!

  1. Turnbaby says:

    I really like it Trav--wanting more. I like the set up and the notion of communicating with and through the horses--haveing ridden all of my life I know the element of truth here.

    Good for you for taking the plunge with me!

    and thank you for your comment. I truly appreciate what a good friend you are. I took the post down cause it's just been too sad around here. big hug

  1. *sits tapping fingers on keyboard anxiously awaiting for more*

    When can we expect the next chapter????

  1. Bond says:

    BOOM... now there is something to read...
    So now there are three I see...

  1. Anndi says:

    Had I told you how much I love what I had read of this story so far?

    Love you bro...

  1. julie says:

    Wow~! I feel like I'm there...it's so descriptive, Travis! Great start.

  1. the teach says:

    Travis this is so good! And so well-written! I'm starting on Chapter two...