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yellow rose


(Realm of Elysia)

“I’m going to have to start keeping my distance from you,” Michael said as they walked together out of the Great Hall.

3 looked pleased with himself as he quipped, “Ah, Hala’s not that bad this time of year, it will be a nice change of pace for you.”

Michael frowned, remembering his utter shock when Dove asked him to accompany her Mathematical Seer to see the Librarian. Taken by surprise, Michael simply said, “Yes, Your Highness.”

“I really have no use for libraries,” the burly soldier said as they passed a palm tree the size of a redwood. “All those musty manuscripts bound in bark leather. Myself, I prefer live-action to reading about it in books any day.”

Everyone and everything has its place

3, hand on his own bark leather bag strapped crossways over his shoulders, carrying his abacus and a few personal mementos from his travels, remarked, “To each his own, everyone and everything in its place. We all function best when we’re doing exactly what we’re best at. Take yourself, for example. You are at your best when you are defending what is right, even if you create mayhem and destruction in the process.”

“Hurmph!” Michael grunted, “you’re just jealous of my sword.”

Indeed, 3 did admire Michael’s sword almost as much as he felt drawn to Dove’s magnificent blue blade. Not so much for the power they channeled through those weapons of divine might, but for the symbol of righteousness they embodied. For the Spirit without the Sword lacked a firm foundation. Though one never desired to employ such ultimate weapons, they stood as a line of last resort against all those who would commit evil acts.

I’m glad you’re coming along

“Honestly, Michael, I’m glad you’re coming along. I’ve run some calculations and things just don’t add up. We should have seen this dual recurrence coming, yet we were taken totally by surprise, and that never happens. When two plus two adds up to five, you know you’ve missed something vital,” 3 finished.

“So, in other words, you expect trouble…” Michael rejoined.

“Yes, I’m pretty sure of it,” 3 said as they prapared to leave for Hala.


(Lakota Tribe, Montana Territory, 1876)

Bren felt Wichapi’s brow and remarked, “She’s burning up!” Instructing a young girl to fetch some more cool water from the river, she felt at loss as to what to do. Remembering what happened when Charlie healed Penchant, she’d tried praying for her friend over and over, yet nothing happened. Honestly, though, this felt different. Penchant’s evil was almost child’s play to the oppression she now felt gripping Chapi. The only time Bren felt such similar evil was just before her husband and then her baby daughter took ill with the influenza. The foreboding of doom, unrecognizable at that time, now seemed familiar as she pressed the cold cloth to the Indian maiden’s brow and cheeks.

As Wichapi writhed and moaned, Brenzel held her hand saying, “Chapi, I’m here, and I love you. Please be strong, you can win this.”

Chapi, her body delirious, felt her spirit lift and float above the teepee. Watching her friend, and a couple of other women around what she guessed was her body, she felt light and free of pain. Drifting still higher, the Indian village spread out before her, like a miniature world a child might create from bits of stick, stone, cloth and mud.

I feel like I’m flying

This must be what if feels like to fly, she thought, moving off towards the river, then over it. Over the hill before her, in the distance, gun shots rang out as she heard the faint shouting of men. Remembering the attack of the white soldiers, Wichapi felt anger rise up in her as she drifted in the spirit towards the conflict.

The first braves, fresh from fighting off the initial attack by the white soldiers, received word of another company over the hill. Without hesitation, all turned towards the enemy, riding hard through the Tahshay Aashay (greasy grass). Soon, battle-hardened white men, many who fought through cannon and bayonets in the Civil War, dismounted and fled on foot, only to be shot through by the braves’ Winchester and Spencer rifles.

Arrows, raining down like the wrath of some angry god, caused them to scream and curse in pain. Frenzied Native American warriors attacked relentlessly, killing every last man that breathed. Grabbing the hair of the dying, the warriors lifted the scalp off their foes. Disfiguring and dismembering the dying and dead, braves spend their whole fury on the pride of the US government, showing no mercy as Custer himself fell dead, shot through the heart.


Praying as best she knew how, Bren sat close to Wichapi as the sun began to set upon the Indian village. Exhausted from the night and day’s events, Bren’s eyes grew heavy as she slumped, then sat up, then began to drift off again. Laying down beside her friend, Bren asked again for God to heal her, as she promised only to rest her eyes for a moment.

Hearing Bren calling her from afar, Chapi’s eyelids fluttered briefly, opened slightly, then relaxed. Breathing normally for the first time since morning, a deep peace settled over her. Waking slightly, as if from a vivid dream, she shook off the nightmare, as she had done so many times before, telling herself it could not be real. Finally, reaching out, finding Bren’s hand, Chapi clasped it lightly as she fell into a deep, restful sleep.

The Yellow Rose

(Montana Territory, 1876)

yellow rose

In the belly of The Yellow Rose, an almost empty bottle of rye sat on a rickety table, silently witnessing a big black man drink himself into a stupor. Pushing his way through the swinging doors, about 2 p.m. earlier that day, the dusty, tired, and irate scout, said, “Whiskey, rye,” to the surprised bartender.

“You sure mister? It’s a might pricey,” the haggard, old barkeep questioned.

Derek, putting down more than enough to cover it, repeated, “Rye, I’s takes the whole bottle.”

Alone in the corner, the former slave’s muscles ached from the hard ride. Mable, a good strong horse, stood tied outside, probably ruined by the forced 400 mile journey, missing her oats as the big man numbed himself.

Custer’s dead!

A few hours later, a short man breezed through the swinging doors, striding quickly to the bar, ordering rotgut, and after downing it, announced, “Custer’s dead!” To a man, everyone present except Derek turned and asked the stranger to tell them more. The weary messenger said, “Custer and about 200 of his men were massacred by the Injuns at Little Big Horn. Scalped and cut apart like so much venison.”

Derek barely moved as the messenger described in detail how those savages set upon the slain men. Then, being the room’s center of attention, he described how he and his riding partners found three cavalry solders, who apparently got split off from their regiment.

A most gruesome sight

“It was the most gruesome sight I’s ever seen.” In grave tones, stopping at times for dramatic effect, Rodriguez (a Black Hills prospector) described how he came upon three dead white soldiers. It wasn’t, he explained, that the men were dead, but the way in which they died, that made the story bone-chilling. So chilling, in fact, that it caused the hard customers in the saloon to wince repeatedly.

He said, “You sees, there were buzzards circlin’ from a distance, so I rode over to take a gander. I’m not a praying man particularly, but I said a short prayer under my breath when I laid eyes on those poor devils: Three cavalry men, two tied to a tree, and one laying in front of them. It was as if they were made to watch the one on the ground die, knowin’ they were next. It’s the damnedest thing I’s ever seen. The one on the ground had his head cut clean off and I couldn’t see it anywhere.”


I knows its Injuns, though, because the last two were scalped, probably before they died. Then those two unfortunate bastards were used for target practice, shot more than 20 times through each I’d recon. I am not a soft man, but I felt like I’d had seen hell.”

Drinking himself to stone, Derek sat silently in the darkening corner of the bar. Down, near his boots, lay a dusty, worn saddle bag, leaking a bit of blood onto the floor.