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Thread: Death's Hunter---A Tale of Van Helsing's Great-great Grandsire

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    Death's Hunter---A Tale of Van Helsing's Great-great Grandsire

    Oxfordshire, 1721

    Ichabod Van Helsing scanned the wayside, both pistols in hand, a large hangar scabbard poking out underneath his pitchy cape that blew in the chilling gusts swooping through the haggard road. The gales almost blew the tricorne off his crown—but he paid no heed. Something moved to his right and his mount whinnied. He pulled the hammer back on both guns, scanning the shadows of the thick woods along the path.

    The sound occurred again. His horse paused, and he pointed as if to fire.

    Damn. There was an un-menacing hum of fowl fluttering in foliage.

    Perhaps the villagers were wrong with their superstitions. The killings could have been the work of hungry wolves. These things happened in the country, especially when yeomen were sparsely armed and not great hunters.

    Uncocking his flintlocks, he prodded his stallion further, keeping vigil over the darkness between the pines and threading branches. The cold was getting to him. Each exhale was a cloud of vapor not unlike a smoking musket. His eyes watered. Gripping the weapons caused his hands to throb—they might as well been frozen on the handles.

    A macabre howl made his entire body freeze.

    ****. That was no ordinary wolf. He knew it.

    It came from up ahead. Hairs prickled at the back of his neck as the second beastly cry rammed his eardrums—this time much, much closer. His horse lumbered forward, skimping on its pace. Clicking heels into the mount's sides, he felt its stride quicken, when suddenly the horse reared, almost flinging him off.

    Miraculously, he remained in saddle as the stallion spun around in abstinence of progress. Looking ahead, he saw the reason for the animal's timorousness. There, some few feet away, a massive beast starred him down. The pallid light of full moon glowed on dark brown fur and blood-soaked jaws. Neither man nor mammal ever looked like the fell creature before him. This was a curse wrought by deviltry.

    Once again he pulled the hammers back on his pistols and used his thumb to adjust the baldric securing braces of other silver-bullet loaded flintlocks.

    Malevolent orbs pierced his soul. The lupine beast's head locked on him, never turning. It slowly approached. The battle loomed.

    Ah hell. "C'mon, ya mollycoddle." Van Helsing hoped that would get its blood boiling.

    And it did.

    A raging fury charged at him and his frightened steed. He spurred his horse away, then whipped it around to fire a shot. The discharge echoed throughout the forest. It merely grazed the creature's fur, and it roared, continuing after him like a bear—but much larger, more like a metamorphosed, ursine Goliath.

    His second shot hit shoulder and it screeched terrifyingly as it slammed into his horse, knocking both animal and rider to the ground. With deft maneuvering, he took out two more pistols, rolling as he hit cold, damp earth. Despite its injury, the ravenous beast quickly attacked his struggling stallion, killing it with ease.

    It now had eyes for him.

    He was on his feet running for the nearest tree to climb for advantage. Another shot he fired pierced its leg and it howled in unearthly pain and malevolence. Reaching a tree, he ascended, cursing as he lost one of his pistols, clambering down the branches.

    Glancing down he could see the beast close behind, climbing up after him. Jagged teeth clattered at his heels and he kicked its snout as it lashed out. His spurs lacerated its face and it snarled and whined and growled hair-raisingly.

    He was struggling as he pulled the trigger of another flintlock. The pistol had misfired, and he tossed it at the beast. It hit his attacker with little effect. Before he could reach the next pistol from his brace, the branch below him cracked and he felt himself falling. As he flailed down the tree, he gripped his pistol, but another branch nicked his hand, causing the weapon to fall away from him.

    Luckily he missed colliding with the beast, and he hit the ground not so hard as to break bone. Yet his back ached, and he knew he had to act fast. The beast was right above him. Its drool hit his face, mixing blood, saliva, and his own sweat together in a foul concoction.

    The beast appeared to brandish a sinister grin as it leapt for him from its advantaged height. In less than a split second, he had pulled his silver hangar from its scabbard. The beast fell atop him, impaled in the heart with its metallurgic bane. Razor fangs edged inches from his black-laced jabot. He covered his ears as the beast gurgled its death song, and he rolled out from under its ship's-hull weight, catching a feint whiff of its putrid last breath.

    After a long while, Ichabod Van Helsing finally caught his breath, gathered his things from his lamented mount, and set forth for the village tavern, away from woods and beasts, and closer to tankard of hard-earned ale.

  2. #2
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Anybody who can come up with a name like Ichabod Van Helsing from Oxfordshire gets my attention.
    Let me say first of all that this is not the normal type of material I read, but I can honestly see the potential in your imagination and in being able to relate this to my wide eyed grandson, suitably raising and lowering my voice at appropriate moments.
    Couple of points.
    1. Don't bother with the ****. It adds nothing to the story.
    2. You might like to consider an alternative to "C'mon, ya mollycoddle." It just does not sit right in 18th Century England.
    Its gratifying to know that at the end of a hard days work Ichabod retired to the Rose & Crown for a pint of bitter. Can just imagine his mates, "Hows your day been?"
    Thank you for an enjoyable piece.
    Best regards
    M.

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    Glad you enjoyed the story, Manichaean. Just watched Princess Bride, so I dig the reading to the grandson. This piece punches with action akin to Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane and Brian McClellan's Promise of Blood, both of which I've been reading lately. As of this moment, I savour a bottle of I.P.A.---though my day fails in comparison with that of Ichabod.

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    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Good luck with your reading Igor. It will be interesting to see how your writing changes as you dig deeper into that sacred chalice of English Literature.
    You are in good company with IPA. I'm limited to Kirin beer and Knob Creek bourbon at the moment.
    Best regards
    M.

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