The Flight of Edgar Rollie

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Edgar Rollie is the head butler to the Crown Prince of the Anglo Empire, and tonight as the enemy soldiers of the People's Democratic Union he must do what is hard and flee, a child in his arms. Edgar seeks the refuge of a friend in the mountains as he runs from soldiers and from the Bloodhunters, vicious bounty-hunters after the members of the Royal Family.
A Tale From the Sphere, part of the Short Story Collection After the Battles

Submitted: October 19, 2012

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Submitted: October 19, 2012

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“The ships have arrived, sir,” Eustace said, stepping gingerly into the threshold of Edgar’s quarters.

“Then the Commodore has not stopped Montgomery?”

“No, sir. I predict that the Grey Tower will be under siege in a few minutes.”

“Thank ya’, Eustace,” Edgar said. “As current head a household, I release you from yer duties. You may run if you want.”

“Th-thank you, sir,” Eustace said, and he quickly trotted away. Edgar Rollie stared at his hat. It was wide, tall, and slope brimmed, well worn and with a single bullet hole on the far right brim. The head butler was no longer dressed in his clean pressed uniform. The old ‘Walder had shaved his little mustache, and put on his old traveling pants and shirt and coat, his red bandana wrapped around his neck. His boots were tall and brown, his gloves were thick wool, and the gun belt he now buckled around his waist was cracked in some places, and the knife that hung from it had a worn handle, but sharp blade. The holster still fit snug right along his right hip, just how he liked it. He pulled out a wooden box from the closet, where within was the Fulford-Bryan “Teuton Model” .44 revolver, and eighteen rounds of ammunition. He holstered the gun and tied down the flap, and then he placed the old hat on his head and stepped out into the stone corridor.

Color Sergeant Ulric raced past him, rifle in hand, leading a troop of a dozen men. Edgar moved to the stairs, climbing up to the nursery. As he climbed, he past two privates running out to the fortifications, and then he saw the screaming Nurse Norton come flying down the stone steps, hysterical and weeping.

“The madam is dead!” she yelled. Edgar caught her in his arms.

“What?”

“The madam is dead! The pills! Just too many and she’s dead!” The nurse fought free of his grasp and continued running away. Edgar sprinted up the steps, and entered the bedroom. Sure enough, Ms. Stella Hogan lay dead on the bed. Her right hand was loosely holding an orange glass bottle of white pills, and the small child was in a crib nearby, fast asleep. Horrified, Edgar tipped his hat to Ms. Hogan, and then scooped up her babe in his arms, wrapping the girl in a blanket. Not that far off, the sounds of heavy artillery being fired were heard, and the shouts of the soldiers defending the tower when they landed. Edgar turned and quickly ran down the steps.

He moved quickly through the castle, now passing scenes of destruction. The ceiling of the great hall had been caved in. The kitchen hallway was buried in rubbled. Lieutenant Evans came running through, supporting a private with his arm bloodied all to hell. Edgar crossed himself and left the tower, headed to the stables. Shells pounded the old tower, and they pounded walls that would have withstood ten thousand men clad in armor but were now falling to a hundred behind artillery. The stable had already been hit. A thoroughbred and a pregnant mare were killed and half the building destroyed. Edgar saddled a young gelding and he rode out.

The horse rode well into the night. Edgar held the babe tight against his coat, the cruel winter wind stabbing his face. It was a long ride, longer than the horse could manage. He knew numerous farmers in the area, all willing to die for the innocent child, but he cannot trust them. They’d die for her, but they would not save her. But he has hope. He knows someone that can.

There are still the distant booms of shells bursting in air. Every now and then the crack of a rifle reaches his ears. He knows where he is headed, to Deaf Manny’s house. That bastard can’t hardly even communicate unless you know how he talks, he’d never tell the P.D.U. anything.

He rode forever. He has to. Manny’s was a long way off. He rode even after the gelding was exhausted. They’d know. They’d see the empty crib and dead mother, and know one escaped. He should have destroyed the crib, at least hid it, so as to buy him some time. Stupid old man. They’ll message every outpost and unit they have no, form a big circle around the castle. A net that draws close on a butler and his charge.

His horse grew tired after the first few hours, and incredibly nervous, Edgar let him slow to a trot. He needed to ride the gelding into the day at least. Deaf Manny’s was not far. Provided there is no trouble, the child will be safe. Edgar might even survive.

He passed Turnford, yesterday occupied by the black clads. He gallops past it at full speed, and to his horror he can just make out soldiers being mustered from their barracks. He pushed aside all of thoughts, all other ideas, and just rode. It was all he could do.

He had been going now for several hours. His horse thundered along the main road which took him through many villages and farms, and now it lead to Rofield, and as he approached, lights flickered on in the main building. Shouts. Soldiers running into formation and for the stables. Edgar cursed and turned his gelding onto a side road. Maybe seven miles to Deaf Manny’s. Up the mountains. To the Granite Halls. There she’d be safe.

He passed under telegraph poles, no doubt telling all the soldiers to look out for a man fleeing with a one year old in his arms. He left the flat farmlands and lead the gelding up the foothills, and when he reached the crest of the first hill he turned. The soft thundering of hooves in the distance. Three riders pursuing him on fresh horses.

He turns and spurs his horse onward again. He’s an old man on a tired horse, but he had life in him yet. He galloped up a steep mountain slope, eventually forced to dismount and continue on foot, leading his horse on the thin trail. The soldiers followed him, the lead man galloping his horse on a path to narrow. The rocks crumbled from underneath the horse, and the black clad and his mount both go tumbling over the side. The path Edgar follows hugs the mountain, and climbs up to the peak he called Belial’s Horn as a child. The Horn is flat on the top, just like Belial’s after Abaddon cut it off. He reached the top, and he had a large view of the mountains up ahead, and could just make out the section of the mountains where Deaf Manny lived.

The two black clads have left their horses behind and are climbing on foot. Edgar dismounted, places the babe carefully in a patch of grass, and picks up a rock the size of his head. As the two soldiers come running he heft the stone, and it clips on of them one the side of his head, sending him tumbling over the side. The other soldier raises his rifle and fires, the bullet ricocheting off a rock and into the night. Edgar is lucky, the soldier has an older rifle. He tries to load a .556 cartridge, but Edgar leaps down on top of him. He meant to just get close enough to use his knife, but the full force of his body slamming into the black clad is enough to send him falling after his friend. It’s a long way down. Edgar ran back up, got the child, and ran down, taking one of the soldiers horses. He led it back down to the path to Deaf Manny’s, but as he spurred the horse forward, a shot rang out in the night. A rock nearby him shattered and a fragment cut his cheek. He looked about wildly, unable to see anyone. He galloped his horse onward as it started to rain.

Gradually the ground turned to rock and the grasses became less common. How Manny lived up here, Edgar was never sure. The path he took into the mountain was long and slowly narrowed. There were no turn offs or small roads where he could again lead a pursuer to his death. Now and again he looked back, he thought that he saw someone chasing him, but he couldn’t be sure. A rock wall closes in on his right, and another on his left. The ground he rode on was filled with stones and harsh scrub filled with sharp thorns. Three times he heard, between the rain and the crunch of the ground beneath the horses hooves, the chambering a rifle breech bolt.

He rode on, the baby tightly held, knowing that Deaf Manny’s was not much further. The soldier’s horse beneath him is tiring, perhaps it is old and not quite so powerful as Edgar had hoped. He glanced behind him again, and now he saw it. A figure on horseback, a pistol in hand. It rains harder. The path steepens, the horse slows, and the baby begins to cry. Behind him, that man that chases him fires, and the bullet misses by a foot. Edgar turns again to look at the man, and his horse places a foot in a jagged rock hole. The snap is sickening. Edgar is thrown from his saddle, curling his body around the child as he flies, and smashed his back against a boulder, and rolls down into a thorn patch. The horse is screaming, the child weeping. He gathered her against his chest and ran, hitting the mountain slope and climbing with one hand. There was a gunshot and the horse stopped screaming.

Edgar scrambled up the rock face, squeezed through a small passageway, and slid down a loose rock hill. He knew these mountains. Whoever was chasing him, they did not grow up here. He was old now, but he was wily, and this was not the first time his survival was based on his ability to flee through these mountains.

He ran down small paths, goat trails, turning constantly. The rocks were sharp, jagged, and to rough to ride on. If his pursuers wanted him they’d have to chase on foot. Again, a rifle shot rings out, the rocks by his feet jump up in the air, and he cannot tell for the life of him where the shot is coming from. The rain beats down hard, Edgar slipped and stabbed his leg on a sharp rock, but he has to keep going. At least to Deaf Manny’s. Manny, an eternity away.

There is a figure in the dark to his left. Just as Edgar looked he was tackled in the same he killed the third black clad. The man is young and spry, and he quickly jumped to his feet and aimed a pistol at Edgar’s head just as the lightning flashed. A Bloodhunter. Dressed in a long red coat, his hair dyed the color of blood. Edgar, on his back, can do nothing.

“Oskar! Raul!” He yelled. “I have him!” Edgar placed the child in a soft a patch as he could find, and then he stood. “You run like a rabbit!” the Bloodhunter told him. “Let’s see if you can fight!”

Edgar Rollie’s right toe dug into the gravel, and he kicked up, throwing debris into the Bloodhunter’s eyes. Edgar jumped at him, grabbing the gun by the barrel and holding it away. The Bloodhunter fired, the barrel instantly burning his hand. The Bloodhunter turned, pivoted, and stuck out his leg, intending to throw him. Edgar managed to grab his coat, and as he fell he tore it off, and landed hard in a thorny patch, the red coat on top of him.

“Kamal!” voices shouted. The Bloodhunter aimed his gun at Edgar again.

“Right here!” he answered. “I got them both!” Edgar creeped his hand to his .44, but Kamal brought back the hammer.

“Hold up, old timer,” he told him.

“Kamal!” the voice shouted again. Edgar looked up and saw another man standing on top of a hill not far away, his red clothing standing out in the dark. Edgar glanced at the coat, and then at Kamal, now only dressed in a white shirt and black pants.

“He’s got the drop on me!” Edgar yelled, imitating Kamals accent. “Shoot him! Shoot him now!” Kamal’s eyes flashed dread, and he looked up at the second Bloodhunter.

“No!” he yelled. “It’s-” A shot rang out and Kamal fell back, blood squirting from his chest. Edgar stood and jumped on him, drawing his knife and driving it twice into Kamal’s chest. He looked up and saw the second Bloodhunter come running down towards him. Again, lightning struck, showing Edgar the hard, elderly face of the Bloodhunter he had tricked, and the Bloodhunter showing who Edgar really was. He grabbed the child and ran as the Bloodhunter fired after him, leaving Kamal gasping for air on the ground.

The rain was only getting harder, stinging his eyes and making the child cry louder. Not much further. Not much further at all. He ran up a hill, using one hand to pull himself up faster, and when he reached the top he saw it. Deaf Manny’s, a small hut invisible in the night. In fact, had he not been there before, he probably would have missed it on a night like this. He exhaled a single laugh, and then heard another gunshot. He turned, and saw four men running at him.

Edgar Rollie, head butler of the Grey Tower, was now exhausted. Seeing little else to do, he fled. He ran as fast as he could towards Deaf Manny’s, across the empty, stony field that surrounded his hut. He was close, maybe fifty feet away, when a rifle cracked and he felt a blunt blow strike his shoulder blade. He stumbled, fell, and landed hard on the ground. The baby tumbled from his arm which was now numb. He gripped the bullet hole in his shoulder, and fought to his knees. He rolled the crying baby on her back, and grabbed at her neck. A small locket was there. He opened it, glancing at the child’s name and date of birth, enough to get her sentenced to death for her relations.

He took it off her neck and pressed it into the dirt. He placed his fists on the ground and struggled to his feet, drawing back his coat and pulling his Teuton Model .44 pistol. The four Bloodhunters were scattered out in front of him. He brought back the hammer as another bullet thudded into his chest. He staggered back two steps, and was shot again in the leg. He collapsed to his knees, gritting his teeth to keep from screaming. Rain ran freely from his hat. He fought to rise, on his knees but with a straight back, and he raised the old pistol and fired at the approaching Bloodhunters. The pistol was old and the rain was cruel. The gun clicked but did not fire.
Oskar LeFors and Raul Gawain, and the other two companions, Bradley Tsivkey and Dod Gunter, approached the bleeding Edgar. Oskar came directly towards him, raised his .40 Special, and fired. A small, bloody hole appeared just under his hat. Edgar’s eyes rolled back and he collapsed into his own blood and brains and skull fragments, landing on top of where he had dropped the locket. Dod ran over and scooped up the crying baby.
“Alright!” he yelled. “We got her! That’s direct bloodline, two thousand to each of us! Or was it three?”
“Check the locket,” Raul said, pouring Charun into one of his rolling papers. “Got to have the locket.” The three of them waited while Dod looked. Raul lit a sulphur match.
“It ain’t here,” he said in disbelief, feeling around the girl’s neck. “Ain’t no damn locket.” Oskar went over and grabbed the baby from him, gave it a quick inspection, and then handed it over to Bradley.
“No proof means it could be any goddamn baby,” he said. “Means we get shit and Kamal died for nothing.” He put his foot under Edgar’s shoulder. “Means this was one tough bastard.” He lifted and rolled Edgar over. “Hello.”

 

Oksar’s impossible little eyes caught one faint glint of gold in the moonlight, and he knelt down and pulled the locket out the gore and held it up for his friends to see. He pressed the button on the side, and it snapped open.


Hannelore de Bruno

Daughter of Crown Prince David XI

Born April 3rd, 3079



The Bloodhunters crowded around it. Raul took the baby gently from Bradley, holding it tight and trying to comfort it. She screamed all the same in spite of his efforts. Oskar pulled out his pistol again, and ejected the spent gun casing, placing it in his pocket with the rest of his spent shells to be repacked again, and shifted his light food pack to his other shoulder. He turned to Dod.

“Go back to Kamal,” he said. “Collect his things, you and Bradley dig the grave.”

“Means extra for us,” Dod said. “A fourth instead of a fifth.”

“Means his wife is his widow,” Raul said, pulling out his own necklace and trying to get Hannelore to play with the golden adz that hung from it. Oskar stuffed the locket in his vest pocket and faced the three men.

“We get our money, we go our separate ways,” he told them, facing Bradley and Dod. “Means I don’t ever want to see your skinny faces again. Raul and I take Kamal’s share, we knew him best and where his widow lives.”

“I don’t like that,” Dod said. “I don’t like that at all.”

“It’s a Hobson’s Choice, Gunter,” Raul snapped. “It’s let us take the money to Kamal’s widow or Oskar pulls his .40 Special again.”

“I don’t like it, is all,” Gunter said again, defeated.

“Now get back to Kamal,” Oskar said, wrapping his thin red coat further around him. “He led us too far out into these mountains, unsafe to try and make it back tonight. We’ll have to spend the night out here.” Raul, Dod, and Bradley accepted this, and walked back, Raul still holding the child. Oskar took a large step over Edgar’s broad body, tipping his hat, and sniffing once from the night’s cold. He started after his companions.


© Copyright 2018 Homer Sands. All rights reserved.

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