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Byron Keith Taylor: Short Stories

The Raven Trail: Chapter 3

Posted on May 24, 2015 with 0 comments

THREE

 

            “Father, are you excited about this year's Spring Ceremony?” asked Raven, now twenty-two, broad-chested, wide-shouldered, his brown, powerful hands holding onto the reins of his chestnut mare.

 

            Chief Chinmay, still a scion of manly beauty, with his hair long and now streaked here and there with grey, laughed alongside his son, riding. “No need to ask if you are, son.”  

 

             Alongside them, Father Doyle, a barrel of a man in dark priest garments, wiped his brow.  His own horse whinnied its displeasure of bearing Doyle’s weight once again.  A small band of Cherokees followed them. Chinmay's men. All were well-armed with axes, pistols, and rifles in case they ran into any kind of trouble.  

 

            The sun rested low on the horizon, but the air was still thick and humid. Regardless, Father Doyle thought that it was a good day to ride. The trail upon which they rode was flanked by the sounds of hunting birds and thirsty insects. Father Doyle slapped his neck from a mosquito bite.  

 

            “I always look forward to the roast deer from the Coastal Plains,” said Raven.

 “Has your belly made you forget how important this trail is, Kaw La Na?” said Chief Chinmay.

 

Raven’s face soured. “Of course not, father. You've told me many times.”

“And yet, sometimes, I think you forget. Tell the story again as my father told me, son.”

Sighing, Raven began. “During Columbus' first voyage...”

 “Must he tell it again?” asked Father Doyle.

“Don’t interfere, Father. Yes, Kaw La Na?” said Chinmay.

Raven continued. “One of his ships, the Santa Maria, was lost on Christmas Day...”

“Go on, son...”

“He remembered the Christmas day part,” interrupted Doyle.

“Hush!” said Chinmay, shooting an angry glance at Father Doyle before looking back to his Raven. “Now what's the rest?” An eagle flew overhead. It screeched a song of food discovery, according to the training he received from his father regarding the music of the wilderness. But Raven could not be distracted. His father always required his full attention in such matters as history.

 

The trail led through dense woods now.

 

 Raven rolled his big, brown eyes. “But someone had found its chest full of gold that drifted ashore and brought it through this trail somehow all the way from Florida...”

 “And?” said Chinmay. Father Doyle took out his pocket watch and looked at it briefly.

 

             “Up into the mountain cave we just left and for some reason, it has been there ever since,” said Raven, smiling as he remembered the miracle that lay hidden in that cave. Father Doyle looked at Chief Chinmay and both men nodded.  The town of Rocky Mount in North Carolina was close by, but its outskirts were nothing but dark and stubborn terrain full of mountains, valleys, and forests. This trail was also good enough to hold a secret.

 

“Now if you were still in one of my classes, you'd get an 'A',” said Father Doyle, his broad, pinkish face bloated with a grin. Yet, Chief Chinmay raised his hand. “A 'B' would be better in this case. It wasn’t found ‘for some reason’ as you said, Kaw La Na. Our people brought it here where they knew it would be safe.”

 A gunshot rang out. An Indian in back of the trio fell from his horse. More gunshots. Raven and Chinmay dismounted, taking cover behind  the tree closest to them, tethering their horses to it first.

 

Then, they took out rifles from their saddles.

 

 Father Doyle took refuge behind a tree next to theirs. “Bollocks! More bandits...”

And the priest was right. Twelve ruffians, clothed in simple white shirts and dirt-brown pants rode upon Chinmay's party and fired upon them. But they were no match for Cherokees who were used to the trials of war. First, Chinmay took down two men that approached him; luckily, they were not good shots.

 

Then, Raven shot one man dead who managed to get close enough to Father Doyle before the priest butted another man in the head with his rifle. Raven's rifle shot tore the man's heart apart. Chinmay's warriors were called the Yona, which means Bear in Cherokee, and they fought like their namesake. Bears are known for their stubbornness to die as well as their great ferocity.  Smiling, Chinmay looked upon his men. He named them well.

 

Raven's handsome, chocolate-brown face was now stretched with battle fury. Fighting with his father was an honor as always. Chinmay gave him the will to pull a trigger, the intelligence to know when to pull it,and the heart to understand why a life is necessary to take sometimes. Raven and Chinmay didn’t need to kill many men. The battle was already over.

 

 Chinmay stepped away from the tree and looked at the carnage that bled underneath him. Dead bandits littered the trail.

“Well done, my Yona brothers. Any wounded?” asked Chinmay.

Two Yona warriors raised their hands. Chinmay saw that one staunched a thigh wound with a cloth  and the other held his  bloody shoulder bare-handed. Raven joined his father. Chinmay touched his son all over his bare torso, felt his legs, caressed his short-haired head.

 

            “I'm fine, father,” said Raven, smiling, taking both of Chinmay's wrists. “How do thieves always seem to follow us? How do they find out our secret?”

 

            The Chief turned and looked at Father Doyle who finally walked towards him. “No one other than a member of this tribe must know that we have Columbus' great treasure. The government does not care as long as we pay.”

 

             Raven went to the wounded Yona to help them.

 

 Chinmay looked at Father Doyle, his old teacher. “I remember when you made me read Dante’s Inferno. Wasn’t there something in there about greed?”