His Orders - a short
Tadeo looked up and was surprised to see Asun back. His brother was a frightening sight in the moonlight. His long straight hair covered his fair and hansome face, you could not recognize it was a living man sitting bent over on that horse merely by his siluoette. He moved jerkily, a wound that could not heal since their childhood but despite this fragility Asun was always determined and purpouseful in his actions and especially his words.
"We found them. they took the road from san sebastian to san isidiro. They thought they could flank us, but they pushed their horses too hard and crippled one of them. They had to stop and rest them. " Asun was tone was enegetic despite his posture.
"They gained a day... ." Tiras voice seemed to come from no where.
"...but lost the night". Tadeo finished
"this night." Asuns voice interrupted
Tadeo looked at his men, well hidden in darkness. He can only sense them by their familiar presence. Countless hours of working together and an intense their familiarity made them predictable to each other.
"Kinao is the most familiar with the terrain." tadeo stated. He was sure not everyone could hear him, but knew they would clarify with each other later. he then motioned Kinao to speak.
".. It is like the path to Villa Alta Mercado's from Casa Amargo, but heading south west. There are jagged hills on the roads east, and the woods are thicker and unclensed.
Those who will ambush will need push through the woods to cut them off farther down to san isidro, one has to approach from the north of the camp and the other force..."
Sweat was pouring all over him and his feet was aching and very hot from his run. He took off his shirt to cool himself and pulled a long drink from the goatskin bladder. "Asun should be in position soon..." it sounded like a statement even if it was actually a question. Asun was always sure of himself and tended to overpromise, despite being crippled he sometimes found a way. Tadeo and Tiras have learned not to argue with their younger brother in these matters.
Tadeo wanted to check the sky for the time, but the weather had not changed much since the morning. The July rains were here, and tonight their gentle touch made even keeping an ember for light difficult, but not impossible.
He blew into the thimble lamp and fed the ember with more gas. He did this behind an earthy overgrown mound and checked his time piece. It was bright enough to see the time, but dim enough to let his eyes easily adjust back to the dark. It was time, and it looked like Asun was late.
The wind blew stronger and the smell of rain filled them with anxiety. Fighting in the rain was messier and more dangerous. Even if their greatly numbered foes disadvantage would be worsened the option of retreat and regrouping.
They were inching closer to the camp, they had to hedge their bets. If asun could not be in position before the end of this hour they will have to begin this with their prey having the option to take the north for cover. Tadeo was making the effort to stop himself cursing his brother when one of the camps men suddenly thrust a knife up another mans jaw and through one eye. The knife's edge peaked out of the mans skull, and held the whole weight of the mans limp body. The body was laid carefully down, appearing at rest and asleep.
The whole north side of camp was silent, and the killer was limping his way up. Another man was following the him, arranging the bodies in a calm and unhurried manner. It appears asun has begun, but my the looks of it not long.
Asuns had to move slowly, forced to give a calm gait or his limping would show. His next target was a bit of a walk farther. He wore someone else's shirt and straw hat.
But it was just too far, his knife was in the mans eye but the dead man had quick drawn his revolver and pulled the trigger shooting the earth.
Tadeo cursed and ran, behind him was Lantok with revolver and sword.
The camp was about to wake up, when tadeo threw at them burning oil. The fire lit the camp and one unfortunate soul. The phosphorus mixture caused the light to blaze. In that opportunity the thunder of Tiras rifle crashed through the camp. He shot men as they crossed each others path, a pair of men fell with a third man stumbled with a limp arm. Another terrible shot rang and four men went down.
Tadeo could barely distinguish who he fought in the darkness, the bright light ruining his ability to detaiks in the darkness. He felt his way around, and cut every man within sword reach. He was searching for the war party's headman, Don Gaitano's younger son Hermano.
It was easy for Tadeos men to slaughter the other side, their practiced efficiency made it all the more one sided. Nonetheless they were on their guard for anything, hence the conservative tactics they employed. He saw Asun with the horses, stabbing into another mans thigh cutting meat and harness. The man fell, but few other horsemen came loose.
Before the horses could find their gait, Tadeo sprang on one of them. His speed, a rare sight, powerful legs thundering and his special shoes digging deep into the moist earth. He caught up the rear most man. With a simple and powerful motion he grabs the mans belt and uses it to pull himself up.
The man falls to the ground, his center of balance shifting radically above him and causing him to land neck breaking first. Tadeo quickly hooks his sword on his back and uses that newly freed arm to pull himself ungracefully over the horse.
When he got himself sitting correctly, he pulls out his pistol from his shoulder holster and took aim. His eyes have not adjusted yet from the darkness, much of the contrast has not returned. He infers the largest target and the angle of the terrain, he needs a hostage and ransom not a new reason for war.
The pistol was heavy, and its barrel a large .44. Tadeo perfered to shoot the small cannon with the stock his brother made but precision must take a backseat to speed and mobility. The hand canon thundered and it whipped his thick arms back, jarring his bone and punished his wrist. It crippled the horse and its rider crashed.
At speed they galloped and the distance, he passed them but swooped down to brain the rider struggling to get up. "was that hermano?" he wondered. Righting himself he bussied to have the horse catch up. He could feel the horse quivering and smell its ragged breath from the long march of the other day. There was a turn, and Tadeo's horse slipped. Tadeo was able to dismount before it crashed and landed sliding on his feet.
He was running and catching up. The horses... More accurately the ponies, were ragged and were supposed to be resting. He needed to only catch up to 40 meters and he gained a meter a second. His legs were building heat and felt tighter. His body leaning forward, and his stride grew greater as he continued to accelerate. His eyes were on the road, and while 20 meters off the horse stumbles and its rider crashes as well... Riding in the dark never ends well.
The rider didnt get to his senses when tadeo already saw it was hermano, it figured he was certainly a better rider than his men. He quickly pulled out his binding leathers when he ignored the sound of hammers cocking loudly in the night. Before he could bend over to tie him a voice called out "Stop!" tadeos eyes has finally adjusted and he was at the edge of san isidro, and its a score of its guardia civil.
This is set in my 19C historical philippine setting titled Mahadlika: the people under heaven. tadeos and his brothers boss is Don Sabus, who is cunningly and ruthlessly siezing the estates around him by an unbridled use of force and politics. A cathartic exercise of how dark and messed up that period is in phil history.
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