Wednesday, July 30, 2014
The Tragic Expedition of Colonel Ulysses L. Gruffudd
I take my party on foot through the wilderness, each of us tentatively proceeding, being careful to mind our footwork, for we must make a precipitous descent, and one misstep could result in a dreadful fall of several hundred feet. I lean heavily on Horatio during this endeavor, the young lad's shoulders being strong and capable of bearing much weight, and I sense a solidity of character within this Virginian's capable frame. That land produces superior men, men worthy of seizing Fortuna by her skirt and making her do their bidding. Despite the treacherous journey, the French Canadians seem to be in merry spirits; they guffaw and slap each other on their broad, ape-like backs as though they've just avoided some great misfortune. "Barbarous men," says Horatio to me as we camp on the side of the mountain, the river water falling like white sheets one hundred feet away from us. "Truly, they are subhuman," I tell him, "Though they are strong and have some familiarity with this land; therein lies their purpose and reason for being on this expedition." Horatio and I watch with horror as Pierre, a man with a barrel chest and arms covered in hair, eats a rabbit raw. These French Canadians love raw meat; their preference for it confirms my suspicions that they are part animal, their souls being wild and prone to superstitious violence.
We make our way down the mountain, encountering a thick woods at the bottom, its canopy so substantial that rays of light are rare and break through like thin beams shone by some far away lantern. Pierre tells Horatio that these forests are haunted; Horatio admirably responds that we fear neither spirit nor man, the righteousness of the Deity being with us and guiding our venture. Fungi of the likes of which I have never seen grow huge on the trees, their color the same as fresh blood. Comstock, a old ruffian, finds a tick the size of an eye drinking from his jugular, and he loses so much blood in its removal that we have to bind his throat and carry him by litter. At night, howls and screams echo through the woods, and eyes glowing with unholy light dart about our fire, testing their distance, and it is all I can do to prevent the French Canadians from discharging all of our ammunition into the void. "They are but beasts," says Horatio to Pierre, "Fearing the flame and incapable of intelligent mischief." Pierre shakes his head and responds with curses in his uncouth tongue.
Daybreak brings much misfortune, for we find one of our men with an arrow lodged within his breast. The tracks around our camp are the prints of wolves; despite much searching, we find no human footprints, which causes the French Canadians to wail and despair. "Beauchamp!" they say, though the man is presumably many miles from us. The arrow, of course, is of Indian origin, so we must be on our guard, for the savages in this area must hate the white light of Christendom, though we will bring it to them, whether they desire it or not.