white wolf - part 18

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Chapter 18

The three riders came from the east as John suspected they might. He took a kneeling position, checked his rifle and waited for them to come within range. They rode right up to the slaughtered men and jumped from their ponies to inspect the carnage. John sighted along the barrel, aiming at one of the Blackfeet. The rifle barked and the first warrior collapsed, the remaining men seemed stunned and just stood there for a moment. That brief pause gave John plenty of time to aim and hit both of them with well placed shots.

He and the wolf climbed down the rocks and walked over to the dying men. John's shots had been deliberate and they all hit the warriors either in the stomach or groin. As a result, all three of them remained alive but in agony, rolling around on the ground in pain. John took his time, first making sure none were capable of reaching for a weapon and then ruthlessly using his favoured metal bladed tomahawk to smash the life from each warrior. Their terrified screams echoed around the cliffs but there was no one to hear their terror except for John and he was past caring.

He collected all three severed heads and placed them in a string bag then tied the gruesome bag onto the back of one of the Indian ponies. A sharp slap across the rump sent the pony racing off and John saddled up to follow it. He knew the terror this message might have on the camp when the pony reached its home but it was exactly what he wanted. Striking fear into the enemy was the aim and this barbaric act was sure to do just that.

He followed the ponies for a good distance before losing sight of them on the twisting trail. It appeared they were headed straight home and a wide valley some miles distant was the likely place. Already he'd spotted a smoke haze hanging above the valley. The ponies went down the first path so John by-passed that one and kept going further east where he found a rear entrance to the valley. He stayed hidden in dense scrub biding his time and watching the camp. This back way in looked rarely used so he moved carefully along it then tied the horses up and walked the rest of the way. He saw the frightened ponies arrive in camp on dusk and it caused a sudden commotion. A search party wouldn't be sent out until morning so John approached closer to the camp using the turmoil to hide his movements.

Later that night he made use of Snowy to locate any sentries and it proved a master stroke. The Blackfeet posted several guards on the eastern side of the camp but the wolf was able to easily find them and John slit their throats without the slightest hesitation. Next he located the horses and quietly removed his two appaloosa mares from the herd, stashing them near his other horses.

A thick swirling mist helped disguise his approach to the camp and he lit the fuse on a stick of dynamite and tossed it near the largest tepee. The incredibly loud explosion not only demolished the tepee, it spread flames onto many of the other tepees. As the shocked Blackfeet raced around in sheer panic, John selected targets in the milling crowd and fired. The flickering light from the burning hides helped him to see and he shot rapidly. He moved positions just as a hail of arrows were directed at his position, he felt the sharp sting as one shaft caught him in the ribs. He threw another stick of explosive towards the gathering warriors and the blast knocked many of them off their feet and enabled him to charge in amongst the disorientated men. Ignoring the pain in his side he rushed at them swinging the tomahawk in deadly fashion before retreating into the mist. He dropped to the ground to avoid another volley of arrows then fired a steady stream of bullets at any movement in the darkness. There were many cries of wounded men but John simply blocked out the sound, concentrating hard to find more targets.

While all this was happening Snowy was roaming the perimeter of the camp attacking any isolated warriors he could find. The big wolf struck fast biting furiously then disappearing into the night. John lit the final stick of dynamite and tossed it near the horse enclosure. It had the desired effect of scattering the terrified ponies to all parts of the valley and in the general confusion John made his escape. The stampeding horses covered any noise he and his horses made as they went up the rear trail and out of the valley.

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