Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Tragic Expedition of Commodore Ulysses L. Gruffudd

Read the other entries: Parts one, two, three, and four.

August 21
I have grown very fond of Horatio, and I find myself relying on his inimitable wisdom and youthful strength more and more. If there is a burden, he is the first to bear it, and so when we lose one of our brave companions to a midnight Indian attack, it is Horatio who takes it upon himself to give the man a Christian burial. His eagerness to combat any problem is an inspiration to the men, who I fear would have mutinied long ago if not for his tireless efforts. Every night we have been besieged by an unseen enemy, and we have taken to spending many hours building primitive fortifications of timber to prevent any more loss of life. Arrows seem to materialize out of the darkness, though we seldom see their approach, and in the morning we find one of our number dead, a projectile emerging from his breast. Our party, once approaching twenty in number, is now down to ten, and it is unfortunate that the French Canadians have survived, for they are a never-ending source of superstition and rumor. Soon we must encounter the river once more, and we will rendezvous with Colonel Whittaker, whose party has hopefully fared better than our own.

August 22
After awakening to find one more of our party dead, we decide to confront this enemy once and for all. Instead of moving further toward the river, as we have every day prior, I command the party to build a fortification in the middle of a clearing. We labor long and hard throughout the day, sawing timber and piling the great logs atop each other, and we set aside a large bonfire which we will burn in the center in order to illuminate our surroundings and provide light by which we will finally see and do battle with our enemy. By evening fall we have constructed a six-foot wall with ramparts that surrounds an area of forty square feet. The bonfire burns hot and sends out great embers of heathen fire. We ready our rifles and await the coming storm, righteous in our indignation and eager to confront the demons that plague us. Horatio and I exchange meaningful looks--we both fear that tonight may be our last night on earth. May Heaven help us, and let us prevail against the armies of darkness.

August 23
Late into the night, our enemy decides to show himself. As Horatio suspected, they are savages, clad in the skins of beasts and fowl, rings dangling from their ears and noses, axes and bows in their hands. With a terrible call to their unholy gods, they throw themselves upon us, yet we respond with rifle fire, smiting down the heathens in mass. Their first charge is unsuccessful; the field is littered with the corpses of the dead. The French Canadians howl in triumph, though their celebration is cut short by another wave of Indians. They come in greater number this time, and many are successful in vaulting our fortification. I see Pierre fall with a tomahawk splitting his skull; Horatio valiantly kills the savage with his knife. Soon smoke blinds us, for it seems that the bonfire has spread to our walls, and the heat of hell licks our very souls. Chaos reigns; men flee from the fortification, and the sounds of their dying echo throughout the valley. I look for Horatio, but I cannot find him. All is lost, I decide, so I retrieve my diary and head for the woods, intent on saving my own life. When I reach the brush, however, a monstrous savage appears from behind a tree, his face livid and painted with the colors of the dead. I thrust my rifle at him, trying to knock him off balance, but he deftly sidesteps my efforts, and brings down his own weapon upon my head. I fall into an unconscious state, my only lullaby the terrible music of my men, their voices crying for a salvation that does not come. 

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