< Volume Two Taster />
The Chronicles of Jonathan Postlethwaite Volume Two
David S Denny Copyright
All Rights Reserved 2021
The day dawned in a silent, silver monochrome. Not even the birds greeted this grim and soul chewing midwinter day in Bagots Wood in the heart of rural England. Slowly the sun’s weak light seeped into the world and illuminated the thin and tightly packed plantation trees and the light covering of snow that had fallen overnight. A light breeze whipped up the light, crystalline snow around the remains of a campfire and the small, large wheeled wagon parked at its side. Inside the wooden, barrel like body of the vehicle, something stirred, broke wind loudly and a large angular head emerged through the canvas of the cart body’s makeshift entrance and scowled at the sky. A stumpy fingered hand rubbed the thick stubble on his chin and then ran through the thin and wispy brown hair on his head. Slowly the dwarf slipped from the cart and pulled a blanket around his broad shoulders and walked slowly, with a slow rocking gait, to the thicker trees for some privacy during his dawn endeavours. He looked up as large flakes of snow began to fall again as if summoned by a sun reluctant to warm the winter landscape. “It snows Lord! If we are to be on time for our rendezvous we should rise now!” he barked back to the cart loudly , turning his head half over shoulder as he did so and walking into a man who had emerged from the woods, the collision throwing the dwarf hard onto his buttocks. He looked up at the tall figure, wearing only a long cloak over his naked and tattooed form. He wondered, for a moment, given his dwarfish stature, how his face had avoided the man’s genitals on collision. He mused for a moment as he cast his eyes over the incredible body stocking of tattoos, faded images and new sharp pictures, on the man’s skin – mostly images of skulls, pirates, demons and other creatures things he could only speculate on. He mused as to if there was a story in the inking of his new Lords’s skin. The sitting dwarf, wakened by the cold of frost through his clothing and into the skin of his buttocks, looked up to the heavily stubbled face and bright green eyes and stuttered an apology and staggered to his feet “My apologies my Lord Papp, I did not see you there in the gloom” he coughed”. The man addressed as Lord Papp looked down, and chuckled, a sparkle in his shimmering emerald eyes. “It appears not Mr Navigator, and you are right, we must not be late. We can predict many things, but not the weather ha! We must break camp and make to the co-ordinates. So, have your crap quickly and prepare yourself because, in fact, you are the last to awaken….and please do your business down wind.” Papp pointed, with a look of disdain on his face, to the opposite side of the camp and made his way to the cart. ‘Mr Navigator’, as he had been called, walked into the side of the woods as indicated, pulled down his trousers and squatted in the snow. Papp had never called him his real name, Harry Randolf, in all the long months they had travelled to this place. Harry was, in fact, really the navigator on this trip, and hence the name Papp used. He supposed it was really a mark of respect that someone has highly placed as Lord Papp would call him such and thus empower him with confidence in his abilities and at the same time remind him of his duties. Harry just hoped that they would arrive at the prescribed place at the right time now and repay that confidence Papp appeared to have in him, a dwarf and navigator of time and space. Harry squatted and strained as he watched Papp, who he also knew as ‘Darkness’ Papp, enter the cart and emerge a few moments later full dressed. Papp pulled back a canvas curtain that covered the cart’s wheels and the base of the vehicle, and picked up two light chain leashes and tugged them gently. Two dark and raven haired women, clad in leather overalls and fur boots, leapt at his command and followed him obediently to be harnessed at the front of the cart. Papp attached their chains to the cross bar at the front where they placed their hands in readiness for his command, heads down and body braced for exertion. He pulled a short quirt and held it to their lips, speaking to them in a soft and reassuring voice and patted each on the rump as he passed them on his way to the wagon seat under which he stashed away the canvasses and prepared the small wagon for departure. He looked across the clearing as he did so and shouted. “What is the problem Mr Navigator, are you constipated?” he chuckled and slapped the quirt hard against the wagon’s side, his tone changing to a curt order. “Hurry now little man!” The slap of the quirt insured Harry’s bowels to co-operate and he finished his ablutions rapidly and sprinted on his short legs to the cart, scrabbling up behind Papp as he continued to belt up his trousers spitting at Papp’s use of the term ‘little man’. Papp took up the reins and slapped them lightly across the backs of the wagon slaves. The vehicle creaked and lurched slowly forward on its large wheels and the two draught humans overcame the inertia to develop a quick walking pace, the sound of wheels crunching in the frosty hoar frost snow wakening the woods with sound. Papp turned to Harry the Navigator. “Which way? “he inquired in heavy whisper? Harry opened a small, flat and ornate wooden box on his lap and a dull yellow light illuminated his stubbly face. He pointed ahead. “Toward the rising sun, we are 15 minutes from the co-ordinates at this pace and on time” he replied. Papp looked at the dull disc of the rising sun as it tired to hide behind the thick snow bearing clouds and snapped the reins a little harder onto the buttocks of the straining girls. “Very well, let us arrive a little earlier to watch the incident. Come Sina, Ramina, show your love for your master!” Immediately they responded in unison and the increased speed. “Yes our master, with our love and devotion!” they almost screamed, and with that Darkness Papp snapped the leather rein just a little bit harder and spurred them into a trot towards their destination which was now hidden ahead by the thickening snowfall. The snow now fell heavily and slowed the wagon down considerably even though the ground frozen hard. With no wind to divert them from the perpendicular, the thick flakes fell relentlessly and stuck to anything they touched. The girls where soon covered, a layer settled on Harry’s flat broad head and accumulated on the brim of Papp’s wide brimmed hat. Harry looked up. “We must hurry my Lord, the event will take place soon, beat them harder” he whispered and looked up to Papp. Papp clipped the reins a little. “They go as fast as they can, and as long as we arrive as soon after as possible, there is no issue. There will be no whipping for your pleasure alone” he laughed out loud and turned and tilted his head to look briefly into Harry’s the Dwarf’s upturned face. Harry shook his head. “I, I only encourage haste my lord” he stammered. Papp laughed again. “I know how much you like my girls, and how you would like to have them both, and, no doubt; give them a slap or two? You constantly allude to using my property for your gratification, don’t you?” he chuckled and brought the flat leather rein down onto Sina’s firm buttocks for effect and looked back for a moment at Harry’s glazed eyes as he dreamed of what Papp had put into his mind. The wagon trundled through the snow, the tall narrow wheels hissing as they crushed the ice crystals under them. The party broke out of the woods onto a track way, where the snow seemed less heavy. Ahead, around one hundred paces away, the track ran to a wooden large gate. Beyond the sky lightened a little as the woodland ended. “How far now little man?” Papp inquired without looking back. Harry scowled for a moment at the cruel endearment Papp attached to him and peered into the dim illuminated map on the screen in the flat copper bound box he carried. He nodded to the gate ahead. “It is just beyond the wooden gate way my Lord.” Papp pulled on the reins and jumped down from his seat. And peered briefly ahead then turned to the pile of canvass on the wagon and pulled out a battered leather box, cube sized a foot long on each of its sides. He threw its strap over his shoulder and looked to Harry who scrambled from the high seat and followed behind Papp. “The event is about to occur!” he said and looked up as, beyond the gate ahead, there was a flash of red, a loud shrieking, then the sound of buckling metal and a short woman’s scream. Papp broke into a sprint. “Come, there is NO time to loose now Mr Navigator!” he barked as he flew past the panting slaves, whose breath filled the air with the warm vapour from their lungs. Papp leapt the gate in one bound and climbed quickly up the bank to the metalled roadway which was encased in a thin layer of ice and two inches of snow. He tested the ice with his boot and looked back as Harry fell over the top of the gate into the snow, spluttering and cursing, before driving his short body to the top of the bank with his squat powerful legs. The two physically contrasting companions stood side my side in the falling snow and looked over the red vehicle which has skidded off the road and into a tree. The front windscreen was missing and the snowflakes drifted on the dark hair of the bleeding woman behind the steering wheel, a faint vapour drifted from her lips as she struggled to breathe. Taking a long look in either direction Papp and Harry crossed the road and looked at the driver. Papp ran a finger through her hair and brushed a crumb of glass from her cold, pale cheek. A thin rivulet of blood ran across her lips. “We are to take two souls here Mr Navigator?” he queried as Harry checked the wooded tablet again and nodded with a puzzled shrug. “There is only one here, how can that be so? “Papp stood upright and surveying the scene, looking hard at the landscape of snow, shattered wood and glass. He turned back to Harry and handed him the leather box. “Harvest this one, before she dies and the spirit is lost, I will look for the other one ahead of the vehicle.” Harry nodded and opened the leather case. He drew out a short, brass rod that surrounded a glass tube. It ended in a long thin needle at one end, shielded by a thin wooden sheath. Harry pulled out a tear shaped glass vessel and clipped it into the other end. He span it around in his hand like a baton wielding drum major and then, as he leaped into the bonnet, in one swift movement drove the sharp end of the tube into the woman’s solar plexus. She gasped and arched her back, her eyes opened wide, became dull and then slowly closed. Harry held the needle rod still and watched as a fine, wispy blue mist rose through the glass tube and entered the vessel on the other end. The ‘mist’ coalesced into an embryonic looking wraith, curled in a foetal position and rolling around in its crystal cage. Harry smiled and observed curiously, and then his eyes narrowed as he noticed something in the vessel. “Lord! Here! The mystery is solved” he shouted loudly summoning Darkness Papp. Papp whirled around and crunched through the drifted snow up the bank to where Harry peered at their prize and pointed at it with a congratulatory look on his face. “No need to look for another soul my Lord, there are two here. Look! A smaller golden soul orbits the large one. Our orders are filled here are they not? That’s was the commission we took?” he asked Papp leaned in closer and took the rod and rotated it. Indeed there were two, and a very special combination. He smiled and then unscrewed the vessel which held the two souls and screwed a silver cap covered in runes quickly onto the top. He helped it up and smiled again. “A very profitable excursion, as we were told.” He whispered to himself as he peered up and down the road, and took one last look into the pile of torn up hedge and branches. “I thought we would have another adult somewhere, but in fact it is a mother and her child – that was what was ordered?” this time he turned to Harry the Navigator who shrugged his shoulders. “Yes, no specific details, just two souls at these co-ordinates and this is what we have.” He replied. Papp placed the glass jar into one of the fur lined containers in the box strapped over his shoulder, one of twelve, all of which were full of captive souls of varying colours. Papp peered in close and. their light illuminated his face like a captured rainbow for a moment, long enough for his lips to part in a smile and one of his golden teeth to reflect back the light. Abruptly he stood up straight and shook his head, as if to cast off a spell. He carefully placed a thick padded layer over the glowing vessels in the box and then strapped on the lid. Harry captured his attention. He was standing by the crashed car. “She still lives my Lord, shall I finish her off? His large powerful hand moved toward her slim throat. “No! Come we have no time for murder, after all it was destined that she die at this point in time and space and she will.” He looked up at the grey, snowy sky “the cold and her injuries will do the job, her time line ends here as predicted. The only difference is that we have her soul, and not her god. We have changed nothing in this continuum, that’s what is important. Her destiny is fulfilled and no others lives are changed, history remains the same” he slipped the leather box over his shoulder and made for the gate and the wagon beyond. “Come, let her husk slip away in peace.” He snapped and then a muffled sound caught his attention a distance in front of the car. He turned for a moment and then the drone of another vehicle, and its bright headlights, hacking through the heavily falling snow, took his attention away from the sound. He pushed Harry down the bank and followed him, with one last glimpse at the sound in the snow near the car. His eyes narrowed. In a moment they were on the wagon and slipped, silently into the snowy shadows of the plantation. The approaching car moved slowly along the road, its wheels precariously gripping the iced snow surface. It lumbered up on its large four by four wheels to the side of the stricken car and two figures leapt out, festooned in green and yellow reflective jackets they ran to the car. Then a muffled sound came from the snow in front of the car and a hand raised itself up. One of the figures ran to him. “I am a Doctor, you are very, very lucky we came this way! What is your name? A pale blooded face raised itself up out of the snow. He spat blood and glass and gurgled out his name. “I am Jon, Jon Postlethwaite” he mumbled as his wide eyes sought out the woman in the car, then he slipped slowly into the arms of his rescuer and into unconsciousness.