Shadow's Grasp - Parts 31 to 35

Author: MMW

Disclaimer: See index


Josiah sat at wagon’s side
And wished toward Goat they would ride
But without Vin they’d never find
Goat and Millicent in time

So glancing nervously around
He scanned the sky, the trees and ground
But couldn’t find the answers there
Couldn’t dispel his current fear

That somehow he would be too late
And another person would meet the fate
That he had witnessed long ago
When life had lost its wond’rous glow

Though thought of what ‘most came to pass
Had brought the conviction he held fast
That he alone would face the Goat
And slit the vile creature’s throat

For too much and too many had
Suffered to make Goat glad
And Josiah would bring the end
An his will he would not bend

The others would understand
That he needed no other helping hand
To defeat his mortal foe
And end the Goat’s trial of woe

As he stood and waited still
He heard Buck groan and be ill
And cursed again his youthful fault
That allowed his life to be dark fraught

For had he all to do again
He would choose a different end
But then a voice quiet and still
Ask if that’s what he truly will

For had he acted way back then
His path would have missed these friends
For surely after killing Crow
His path he would no longer know

For darkness’ act to darkness end
Was not a way for light to blend
Into a soul and lead to right
And win for good each noble fight

So shaking off the what-if thens
He glanced around at his friends
And decided he had acted right
Long ago on that night

For though Goat breathed and tortured still
Goat could not stand against the will
Of Seven men with Destiny’s cloak
Who would turn Goat’s plans to drifting smoke

So watching as the healer tend’
To the one he called a friend
Josiah nodded at his plan
To locate Goat and make his stand

He would allow Vin to guide
All of them along the ride
Then when they had Goat within sight
He would explain it was his fight

And would not risk their mortal coils
To o’ercome Goat and prove a foil
To the creature’s twisted plot
And make thing be as they ought

He knew he’d have to fight with words
O’er their protest to be heard
But in the end he had to win
So he once more could begin

And close the book on his past
And end this twisted part at last
And come to terms with what he’d done
Once Goat had lost and he had won

Then glancing round his heart was filled
With love for his brothers as fears were stilled
And his resolve deep root it took
As his placid air the others mistook


Though Nathan tended to Buck’s wounds
He couldn’t shake the hand of doom
That hovered o’er they little band
As they rested in fate’s hands

He knew that Buck was very weak
But to win they must be complete
And that just could not be done
As long as they were missing one

But Nathan’s worry over Tanner
Did affect his bedside manner
He couldn’t leave Buck’s needy side
But he had to know if Vin could ride

For if he couldn’t they’d be left
With no way to trace Goat’s path
And looking up into the eyes
Of Ezra, the gambler said he’d try

For finding men in nature’s park
Was something he’d never start
But there was no choice as he observed
And his quiet departure was not heard

For as he left he noted that
Josiah on his horse sat
With distant look in his eye
And anguish from his soul did cry

JD young and always moving
Had nothing now to be proving
And hovered o’er the injured man
Wiping brow and holding hand

So Ezra with a need to ride
Took reins in hand and tried to hide
The fear that he would be too late
To bring Vin to the care of Nate

So foll’wing road and dusty trail
He knew he couldn’t afford to fail
To find his leader and his friend
To this misadventure end

And soon he saw off side of path
Pony stationed reins tied fast
And leaving Chaucer safe beside
He tried his anxiety to hide

For he spotted blood congealed
And could not deny how he did feel
With fear of loss so near and close
He couldn’t muster the faintest boast

But soon, ‘e’re long he found the men
Who had become his bosom friends
But his breath did catch upon
The sight of Vin who’d seemingly gone

The stillness of the man in black
Did nothing to deter the impression that
The tracker, lying calm and still
Had given up his soul and will

But a faint stirring drew his eye
Away from his wondering why
And allowed him once more to breathe
And his heartbeat to retrieve

Approaching Vin and solemn Chris
The tears of Larabee he did not miss
But laying hand on Chris’ shoulder
He cleared his throat seeking to be bolder

"We need to bring him to the cart,"
Ezra counseled as Chris did start.
"You’re right" fair Chris did agree
As Vin’s wounds he did once more see

And so with Ezra’s willing aid
They kept their friend from Hades shade
And rode as fast as they dared
Not admitting how much they cared.


As Buck did once more life regain
And cry out softly at the pain
Nathan soothed with infused balm
And JD using words did calm

Josiah sat, absorbed the groan
And wished that he had never known
A time of question and of doubt
For now he wouldn’t know what Goat’s about

But the burden for this pain
On Josiah’s shoulders must remain
Or so the former preacher thought
Unwillingly to ask for the forgiveness he sought

But before Josiah’s mind
Could his close friend decline
Ezra rode up to their side
Alerting them of Chris’ ride

And giving Nathan what he knew
Nathan figured what to do
And Buck insisted sitting up
So Vin would have room enough

And shortly did the five espy
The coming figure and did try
To hide their worry and concern
For one whom each man’s trust had earned

And as Chris pulled Pony to
Nathan took one look and knew
Things were bad but hope still lived
And to the others that hope he’d give

With terse commands a fire burned
As to Vin’s side each man returned
For Vin was their only hope
To track and find the evil Goat

As morn’ did pass to afternoon
They hoped that Vin would wake quite soon
And ‘e’re they finished such a thought
A movement each man quickly caught

And that move came aft’ a groan
A more hopeful sound they’d never known
And all did cluster ‘round the cart
As tired lids of eyes did part

And Nathan called to give them room
As they felt the hand of doom
Retreat from their hopeful band
But not far off Doom made his stand

For while the six men did rejoice
Fair Millicent had no choice
But to wed the vile Goat
Though still her heart held fading hope

For somehow she could still believe
That her they’d rescue and they’d free
From the bane of fear and dark
To find, once more, joy in her heart

And for a moment she did allow
Her mind did wander away from now
Back to a place her heart did dwell
To a time good and well

To a cabin in a glen
Where her husband, her best friend
Had made her life whole and complete
And she kept house both clean and neat

Until the time when sickness came
And he did not health regain
And after passing she grew in debt
And for her child she did fret

Then Goat from nowhere came along
And bought her out for a song
But as reward, if she had nerve
He’d return her land if he she’d serve


To aches and pains did Vin awake
And to the hov’ring form of Nate
And knew he’d been found by his friend
So he was save now once again

But ‘e’re to sleep he did succumb
He sought out eyes of the one
Who had shared his prior fate
To find out if they were too late

Then reading doubt within Buck’s eyes
Vin to consciousness did rise
And swat away the helping hands
As he fought to sit and stand

But ‘fore he got to upright plane
He returned to the place he’d lain
And cursed his weakness, closed his eyes
As his weakness he despised

For he knew that time was dear
As within did grow budding fear
But not for him was his fear spent
But for the kind, fair Millicent

As he cursed and as he groaned
Nate repeated what Vin had known
‘Tween blood loss and his broken ribs
He had very little to still give

But though he railed ‘gainst his fate
He knew he couldn’t be too late
So from energy reserves he drew
Knowing what he had to do

He would wait and drink Nate’s teas
Until with his progress Nate was pleased
Then he would just up and ride
Knowing six were at his side

For though his strength he would exhaust
To find the innocent they’d lost
The others would the woman free
And in Death’s hands the Goat would be

So checking position of the sun
He waited until Nate was done
Tending all his cuts and wounds
A tending ending none too soon

And once more catching Buck’s blue eye
He read the need to up and try
And with a silent nod of each head
They ‘greed to free Millie from her dread

With two arguing ‘gainst the five
Buck and Vin knew they would ride
For they could sway their bosom friends
To achieve a happy end

So for an hour Vin would rest
Then put his knowledge to the test
To track the Goat ‘e’re light was gone
And find them before night did dawn

Letting Nate think he’d prevailed
Through teas and balms Vin quickly sailed
And rested gath’ring all his strength
To see him through his task at length

An hour hence claimed to be cured
But all did scoff at his word
‘Cept Chris who met the sky blue eyes
And felt within arguments rise

But then he caught eyes midnight blue
And knew there was naught else to do
But to give in to his friends’ needs
Though he was quite far from pleased

Although the others did protest
And Nate insisted they needed rest
Buck and Vin would not demure
For Millicent’s danger they were quite sure


Nate rode close beside his friend
Who slipped and faltered once again
But wouldn’t stop his pace to rest
Though he knew it for the best

And looking past his own concern
Fear for the woman quietly burned
Within the compassionate healer’s heart
And so he would play his part

He’d watched as Vin did caref’ly ride
With he and Chris on either side
And JD tending Buck with heart
While Ezra drove the hay-filled cart

Josiah rode with silence grave
Praying the innocent soul they’d save
And be in time to stop the rite
He knew Goat had planned that night

Ezra watched all six around
As he kept eye on the ground
And feared Josiah’s angry rage
That built inside the silent sage

For wrath and vengeance Ezra knew
And knew revenge would never do
For their weight upon a soul
Was something Ezra did surely know

So with a vow to save his friend
From vengeance’s wrath and evil’s grin
Ez would keep this fateful night
Josiah close within his sights

In the cart as Buck did ride
Gath’ring strength JD beside
He vowed that Millicent he’d save
And see Goat enter to the grave

For no woman short or tall
And no human great or small
Deserved fear in which they should live
So peace he vowed Millicent to give

He’d need his gun to set her free
But that time he’d wait and see
Knowing JD would support
Buck’s actions and not report

The struggle his close friend would face
For he’d leave Buck not alone to face
Whatever foe awaited them
To save the day and free their friend

And JD sat and thought about
The fear he’d felt and the doubt
That first day now so long ago
Before these men he’d truly know

And knowing Buck he could plainly read
A strong resolve and growing need
To see the woman safe and sound
In a place Goat wasn’t around

And JD promised his weakened friend
To stand beside and to lend
What strength he could to the man
Who beside him did always stand

But up ahead in silence grip
Upon Pony’s back did sit
The leader of this band of men
Who to Hell wished Goat to send

For he could not bear the sight
Of his brother riding to his right
And anger brewed a storm within
As Chris watched o’er weak’ning Vin

That Goat would pay he had no fear
For harming those whom he held dear
Once more his hands tensed on his reins
As Vin suppressed a moan of pain

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Email: MMW