Shit, fucking facebook, I’ve literally just been shitposting all day and forgot to even post this haha.
And now I have nothing to talk about.
Welp, enjoy the chapter haha.
This is not true, I was looking for a new job still.
But I hope you enjoyed the poem yesterday, by all the likes I’m guessing people did, I was just listening to that song the other day and it stirred up something inside of me and I had to make it my own, just a little bit.
This chapter is the start of part two and it’s kind of the start of a subnarrative, and sort of the theme for the whole book. If the last book was about death, this book is about rebirth and the pains associated I guess.
Anyway, enjoy the rest of your day.
“I say if you cross the devils ladder you must pay the devil!” A voice carried over the howling of the cold wind coming down the mountain.
The carriage halted it’s horses, the carriage driver was a large broad man wrapped up tightly. He got down from coachman’s seat to see what the ruckus was about.
The coachman cautiously scanned the snowy trail that passed through the rocky cliffs. The trail lead up the Carrauntoohil mountains known colloquially as ‘the devils ladder’. There was nary a soul to be seen. Only the rocky crags dusted with fine snow and the cold wind blowing in the coachman’s face. He wrapped his face tighter and climbed back up onto into the drivers seat and mushed the horses to continue up the trail. They whined bitterly and the coach creaked as it climbed the steepening trail.
“That is I, I am the devil!” A voice called out and then a man appeared as if from nowhere. The snow and the wind made it hard to see but the man had been laying in wait behind a large rocky outcropping. The hiding spot has blended into the rest of the mountain under the snow.
The coachman pulled his face covering down to gawp at the strange man.
“Be done with this foolishness and get out of my way!” The coachman called out.
“I will get out of your way” The man said. He was of average height but had a long bedgraggled beard and wild eyes rubbed red raw. The man just stood there but as he did more of his ilk came out of their hiding place behind the outcropping and joined at his side. They were savage looking carrying scythes and pitch forks and large butcher’s knives and woodcutters axes as weapons. “As soon as you give us all that you carry and then a little more.” The wild man said wide eyed
“Highwaymen then?” The coachman shouted over the roar of the wind.
“Call us what you like but you will not leave Carrauntoohil alive this day unless you give us whats in that carriage.” The highwayman said gesturing with a large rusty butchers knife.
The coach driver looked back thoughtfully at his carriage and then turning back to the highwayman he said. “I’m afraid I cannot do that, this day or any other.”
The highwayman laughed and wiped frost from his large unkempt beard. “You speak such honeyed words for a coachman, perhaps we will cut out your silver tongue and fashion a necklace from it.” The wildman chuckled with his shaggy cohorts.
The coachman seemed to slump in his seat exhaling deeply. Not from fear or doubt but instead a profound resignation that washed over him. Again the coachman climbed down from the carriage and landed heavy footed in the snow in the shadow of mount Carrauntoohil.
“You may take whatever you want after you kill me.” The coach man said as he drew an iron warclub from his belt. “But not before.”
The bearded man laughed and nodded “But not before, you are a brave one.” He looked eitherside of himself and said to his cohorts “Kill him!”
The bandits were a disorganized rabble and their attack was that of desperate fury. They leapt into battle as if the coachman were the cold and the wind and their empty bellies personified. Their feet crunching the snow as they charged.
The coachman did not flee their shouts, he stood his ground and waited his distance. They fought without formation or strategy, relying on numbers, surprise and brute force.
But none of these factors phased the coachman. The first bandit came at him with a pitch fork. He expected them to be cowards and encircle him and strike at his back but the hunger in their eyes betrayed their savagery. They were thin and starved and cold, their desperation had turned them into little more than wolves. They struck out as dying men struck out at the living, mindlessly and with unrelenting ferocity.
But they were slow and weak and the coachman was neither, he caught the head of the pitchfork and twisted it away from his body. The wooden shaft of it was so damp from the snow and the cold it snapped off in his hand. Not to break off his attack the bandit attempted to skewer the coachman with broken haft.
The coachmen’s strike was a perfect measured brutality, in stark contrast to their own. He struck the bandit with military precision to the side of his head to soften his skull. Then he struck it again in the same place to completely obliterate it. The blow sending shards of skull and brain matter at the other bandits.
Something that would have deterred other men, but not hungry wolves. They kept coming, spurred on by the steady roar of their bellies.
“I have no desire to kill you all, but mark my words, I will do so!” He was tall and stood firm like the mountains and the cold winds rushed through his words but they were too far gone to hear it.
They kept coming like an avalanche of pure need striking at him with tattered old scythes covered in rust. Axes with burred handles and knives that were as blunt as spoons. They did not stop, but neither did the coachman. He struck them down one after another with the cool clinical disinterest of a butcher slaughtering lambs until but one remained.
A woman with a kitchen knife roaring like an evil spirit leapt at the coachman and for a moment he hesitated and he could not parry the blow. The knife struck home tearing through the layers of raggedy clothing revealing a thick plate and chainmail armor. The tip of the knife shattered on contact. But the woman, undeterred by this and driven by pure madness aimed to cut the coachman’s throat. Something he could not allow.
He struck the woman with an upward blow killing her instantly, blood erupting from her mouth as she toppled into the snow.
The coachman looked down at her as she seemed to shrink into the snow, pink with her blood.
“Forgive me, by my honor I cannot allow you to have what I carry.”
The man with the beard was the last one left alive.
“What have you devil? Should I spare your life?” The coachman called out as he approached the highwayman.
“Nay sir” He highwayman said dropping to his knees in the snow surrounded by the bloodied bodies of his kinfolk. “I will join my village” He smiled, his red eyes seemed almost relieved looking up at the coachman. “And you, I hope to see you one day kind sir, in Mag Mell.”
“As you wish” The coachman said his voice ringing with a tone of resignation.
He killed the man with one blow to his head. There was very little blood. The man slumped to his side and fell to sleep as the snow started once more, covering him and his comrades in a blanket of fine white sleet.
The scene was maudlin and the coachman felt cursed to be standing in this graveyard of his making. He wished bitterly that it could have been different. He cursed himself as he cleaned his iron cudgel with a handkerchief as he made his way back to his coach.
Check out the rest of the chapter here.