Friday 5 October 2018

Small Poems.

Buffalo Time.
I am the spirit of the buffalo.
Once I numbered by the million and roamed free.
We fed the Pawnee, Lakota Sioux, Cheyanne and many more across the prairie.
The earth trembled under our hooves.
Herds would take many days to pass and ford the rivers.
Then the white man came and thinned the herds to a few thousands to starve the people of the plains into subjugation.
Starving and cold a mighty people’s soul was crushed and their lands forfeit.
It was not the land that the white man wanted; it was what lay deep beneath.
Crazy for the yellow metal and the poisonous oil, they dug and spoiled.
Ancient springs stank of the foulness released and contaminated where once the water was sweet.
Crops would not grow and the fruit of the land sickened.
The people only took what the land would provide and no more.
They did not understand the concept of poverty.
They understood that they could not be poor if your belly was full and you were dry whilst it rained.
It was the white man that taught them starvation and child death.
 They are called Wasichu, ‘greedy for fat’ and prize possessions more than life.
The time of the White Buffalo is coming and once more the people will fill the land.
It will be the time of the Sun Dance and purification.

Lament for a Golden Land.

I am Tall Eagle-feather, spirit of the Arapahoe,
I was a Hunter-gatherer and in love with the land of my fathers.
Gone are the Great Plains and forests that we wandered at will.
Gone are the Keepers of the pact between the Earth Spirit and us.
We kept the land in trust for those who would come after us.
We moved on, so that little trace of our communities would harm that which sustained us.
In wintertime we sheltered and endured, taking only what we needed to sustain us.
In springtime we began the move, following the herds and taking only what we needed.
The Earth was bountiful and we served her well.
The rivers ran pure while the trees gave us the fruits that we needed and the ground the plants that supplemented our diet.
What need had we for metals, or more possessions than we could carry?
We loved the land and were willing to share.
We did not understand greed or avarice, as the land provided all that we could ask.
When we could see that we had been long enough in one place, we moved on.
We had no cities.
We had no Gods of empty promises to weigh us down.
There was just the spirit of the Earth and us, her people, but it was enough.
We left nothing spoilt behind us, unlike those who spread across the lands.
The scourge had come and we unknowing of their ways taught them the ways of the land.
They took and took, killing the herds, digging, fencing, constructing, to change this land that once supported easily, what slight demands we placed upon it. 
Too late we realised the alien needs of these new people would poison the lands and waters, leaving us nothing in return.
I am Tall Eagle-feather, spirit of the Arapahoe all that is left of a mighty people who cherished the land and cared for it.
My bow is broken.

(The Boot-mender’s Boy)

The river of life twists and turns, spilling over occasional rapids.
It branches into millions of dead ends, but the river foams on.
We are all passengers, travelling the same path, all with the same destination.
Some manage to dominate the stream for a while, but it never lasts.
Some gather wealth at the expense of others and lose it all when they are cast ashore.
Some lead the innocent into temptation and some to their deaths.
There is a special place for these. in the dead ends branching off the river of life,
All are swept away, subjects to the undercurrents of the mighty river.
Very few are aware of the breadth or the power of the river.
Those that do are at peace with themselves.
 The wealth that some acquire over their lifespan is left behind when they go.
Few use the riches to do good, but seek more from the world than it can bear to give, just to collect more.
They forget that they are mortal and all is lost when the heart stops beating.
Still the rainforest is cut down and palm oil takes its place or pasture to feed cattle, just to make burgers.
Oil is still sought beneath the sea in arctic waters regardless of the damage to the environment.  
Seals die, orangutans slowly become extinct and plastic chokes the whales.
Yet rich corporations continue to rape this world in pursuit of more and more wealth.
Money will not buy crops that will not grow.
Breathe the air while you can and slake your thirst with water that is unpolluted, yet!
Just remember that the Universe does not care if this world dies, only humanity.
I love this world and would not see it fall into careless hands.
My time gets shorter day by day and I must pass on and leave this mess that greed has wrought.
Who will bear the banner when I am gone?
I am just the Boot-mender’s boy, a storyteller by inclination without the power to change things.

Do you?

The Visit.

In the stillness of the night I dream?
The grandfather that I never really knew reached out from the mists of time.
“You are a grandfather now, son of my son.
My sorrow is yours also, in that he has come late in your life, as did you in mine!
Leave something of yourself behind you, for him to know, as I did not.
One day he will read your books and discover that legacy that you have left him.
Be the storyteller that he always knew existed and weave my story into yours.
For I am you and you are what I became.”
I felt his love and pride reach out to me and I was unafraid,
If nothing else, I knew that one day when Tom was old enough to understand, my books would give him an insight into his grandfather’s soul. 
I would live on, in more than just the transient memories of a silver haired old man.
He would perhaps see those vistas of wonder that my sons could never see.
Soaring on the wings of imagination, his soul would take flight along with mine.
It was all that I could ask and my grandfather faded slowly away.

Thursday 20 September 2018

The First Ones.

The First Ones.
The Mid Cretaceous.
Chapter One.
Slat had set many traps in the past to help defend the commune from predatory visits of the large eaters. She had followed the trail right into the forest and well into the territory of the giant carnivores and their hunting grounds. The time had come again to try to dissuade the T Rex’s from invading their territory and picking off the iguanodon herd that they maintained. The huge carnivores were four times as large as a Deinonychus, but lacked their intelligence and also their other gift.
In the safety of the stronghold, others of her kind would wait anxiously for her return and had watched her disappearance into the forest, from the viewpoint behind the high stone wall. She was riding her personal iguanodon that she had raised from the egg. This always made them much easier to control and mentally dominated by the much smaller dinosaurs. They were the beasts of burden and source of meat when the herd got too numerous. The Deinonychus had domesticated these creatures thousands of years in the past and had bred out the desire to follow the migratory patterns that dominated the great herds that yearly followed the seasons down into Antarctica to enjoy the endless sunshine and growing season. These were in turn preyed upon by the T Rex’s family groups along with many other carnivores that either followed the herd or waited in ambush for the herds to pass.      
The forest was densely populated by many different plants all striving to catch the sun and scattering their seeds and fruits from the new dying flowers. Many of them were new to the undergrowth and had recently evolved. Small creatures inhabited the higher reaches out of range of the great carnivores that lived on the ground. These huge beasts had trodden down the undergrowth and made trails from one hunting ground to another. Keeping these constantly flattened made for easy running at speeds that the plant eaters could not match when ambushed. Some way off a T-Rex family was on the hunt, making their way along the many game trails. They had caught the scent of the iguanodon and were making their way towards what they thought would be their next meal.
The scent that they were following was that of Slat and her thrall. To avoid the hunters taking in her scent, she had smeared her mount’s dung over her body. Should the carnivores catch her scent they would be uneasy and not so easily fooled. This was something that she had done many times before, as many a T Rex’s hunting group had learnt to give Slat’s people a wide berth. She needed the hunters to lock on to the scent of the iguanodon and think of nothing else.
In the vicinity of the trail, was a stand of bamboo that could be snapped off just above ground level. Making sure that the hunting party was still some way off, she entered the obedient mind of her much larger companion and directed her to the task before them. She then urged the iguanodon to dig a shallow pit while she gathered the ferns to cover it. It was not very deep, as the ground was too hard to dig down very far, but it was deep enough to do its main purpose and that was to hide the pointed stake from view. Some weeks before, she had found a good flint deposit and carried many of them back to the strong-hold. Before setting out on her mission she had worked many of the flints to a sharp pointed end. These she had placed into her carrying bag fitted to the harness of her mount, along with lengths of cured tendons and other tools. Her bag was made from a tanned skin, taken from a velociraptor, using the legs as straps without the clawed feet. These sharp claws she kept in a wrapped up piece of skin, tucked away in her toolbag.
She had a small, but good chance of killing at least one of the big predators, if it should step on the covering of ferns, the colossal weight of the beast would drive the stake deep into its foot, hopefully maiming it for life thus starving it to death. The stake was placed so that it would come away and remain in the foot of the killer. This was made from a short length of bamboo split at one end. This was where the sharp pointed flint was tapped into the upward-facing end and tied in place with the cured tendons. Should the beast manage to shed the stake, the flint would break off and remain inside the foot of the predator, causing the wound to fester. The ‘First Ones’ had learnt to soak the upper end of the weapon in old putrefying blood to assist the infection. There was enough of the stake buried in the ground to make sure that it was fixed upright.
The trail was well used and this had been Slat’s second pit that she had dug with the help of the iguanodon that she controlled. The Deinonychus raised her head and extended her legs, balancing back onto her tail and sniffed the air. The breeze had changed direction and she had smelt the odour of rotting flesh that flushed out the predator’s mouth with every breath it took. The hunters were closing in, but still out of sight.
As well as the pits, Slat had tied an ‘H’ frame just above her head to two stout trees and had mounted a sturdy spear lashed securely, making the centre of the ‘H’ project forwards with another of the flint spear heads, tied securely to the split end of the bamboo. Anything that came chasing along the trail would with luck, tread on the stake in the pit, pitch forwards and meet the spear just below its neck and just above the chest. There were other secondary stakes set in shallow pits further along the trail in case the first trap did not work.
Slat projected a feeling of calm to her almost mindless companion and took control of it before the T Rex family that had picked up their scent would come lumbering swiftly along the trail. She sent it back the way that they had come, making sure that the iguanodon did not tread on any of the other traps carefully set. It was time to go and she ducked underneath the ‘H’ frame and made her way behind her beast of burden. Pausing to urge the iguanodon to release a bladder full of urine she looked back along the trail.
“That should do the trick,” she thought and began to run and catch up her large companion.
The scent of the urine floated back to where the T Rex was casting her head from side to side, seeking the direction of the odour that flowed into her nostrils. She recognised the scent immediately and grunted to the male following close behind her, to pick up speed. He began to slaver as the scent of fresh urine filled the air and the closeness to the prey evoked his hunger pains. Confidant that there would be soon a fresh kill to gorge his teeth upon, he picked up speed completely unaware of the lethal traps laid in the game trail. Behind him came the three younglings that they had nurtured over several years following in the rear. They had grown to half his size and soon would be making their own way into the world. Until then they would hunt as a pack and share the kills. As they charged around the bend the scent of the iguanodon’s fresh urine filled their nostrils and spurred them to an even faster gait. Unaware of Slat’s traps they rushed towards the direction she had gone along the game trail.
Leaning forwards to keep her balance and building up for the charge she screamed in pain, as she dropped to one side. Her great left foot broke through the fronds layered over the hole. The stake drove deep into the T Rex’s foot in between the two claws and went upwards past the ankle. As she pulled the stake out of the ground and found that she unable to put any weight on the spike protruding from her foot, she toppled forwards putting all her weight on the one undamaged foot. The male cannoned into the back of his mate pushing her onwards and the three younglings crashed into him.
As Slat broke cover, they heard a scream of pain and rage as the T Rex ran into the trap. She wasted no time and hopped aboard the iguanodon and held firmly onto the harness. She then released the beast’s mind and allowed it to know what was following them. Terror almost gave her mount wings and it opened up a lengthy stride, heading up the hill towards the settlement.
There came a throaty bellow that abruptly cut off, when the T Rex began to drown on its own blood. In falling forwards, pushed from behind, the spear on the ‘H’ frame caused the beast to impale herself into her throat. There she hung for a few moments until her dying throes tore her off the structure, leaving the bloody spear still in place pointing back along the trail.
The other T Rex that was mated to the dying creature paused and watched the blood pouring from her wounds. He was unable to understand what had happened to his hunting companion, as there were no more predators in the vicinity to cause these wounds. Her three hungry young, circled around their father and stared down at their mother, unable to understand what had happened. The smell of so much blood proved to be too much and he began to feed on his still living mate, rapidly joined by his children.
Slat urged the iguanodon to an easier stride and resumed control, heading towards the settlement and proceeding to the pens where they were normally kept. The strong-holding had been built many centuries ago when the ‘First Ones’ had developed language and learned to co-operate with each other. Once the mutation had spread and their intelligence increased along with the mental skills of being able to command the vegetarian eaters, they had built a fortress on the hill. The iguanodons were the most useful of the many vegetarians due to their size and adaptability. They were easy to breed and made excellent meat. Using mind control the Deinonychus had coerced them to move large heavy stones into a circle making an area that the big meat eaters could not penetrate. Many large stones had been added to the original to make a high wall with small openings that the larger predators could not get through. There was running water that flowed down from the melt water from the mountain that gave the ‘First Ones’ all they needed to be safe from the T Rex’s and the other large predators that inhabited the lands.

Making sure that the beast had soon forgotten what it had been scared of, she gave it plenty of water and feed. Slat made her way towards the others of the community and was made welcome.
The other females clustered around her congratulating her on a useful kill.
“Well done, Slat, said the leader and added, “Soon the big eaters might just learn to leave us alone. After all we have killed enough of them over the years.”
“That’s true,” she replied, “but unfortunately although they are accomplished pack hunters, they lack the understanding to be scared off. At least behind these walls they cannot get at us, but the answer is constant vigilance and setting continual traps. That thins them out, but as I said, they learn nothing. Their size gives them arrogance and they do not know the meaning of fear.”

The First Ones.
Chapter Two.

Several weeks had gone buy and as always, predators filled the empty spaces left behind by Slat and her people’s persistent culling. A lone T’ Rex had taken to picking off and scattering the ‘broken’ iguanodons by breaking into the compound on the edge of the settlement and driving them out onto the slope leading up to the commune. This was an old one that could no longer attract a mate, so was forced to hunt alone. Not in keeping with his kind, this one was more intelligent than most and had worked out how to apply pressure to the outward facing spikes. He had realised that a sideways pressure on the stakes would weaken their settings and force them out of the ground. Once he was in, then it was an easy task to get between the herd and the commune and panic them into stampeding through the gap in the enclosure. Once a bottleneck had been achieved he could easily catch up and slaughter the nearest beast struggling to escape through the gap. He would then drag the carcass off into the forest and steadily feast on it over many days until all of the prey was digested.
This gave the members of the commune time to round up the scattered herd, repair the fence and go about their daily chores. It also gave Slat the time to plan of how to remove this costly nuisance that was thinning out their herd.
The T’ Rex had made himself a ‘den’ near the large river that flowed along making a natural barrier to the commune’s territory and hillside fort. The nest that he had made from the larger un-crunchable bones still made a soft bed to sleep on and the constant buzzing of the carrion flies never bothered him or the increasing piles of dung. Norch had spent his lifetime killing prey and the concept of fear never occurred to him except when fighting his own kind. Never-the-less he was aware that the group of his smaller relatives that he was stealing from, could cause him harm if they attacked in force with sufficient numbers.  At a size of at least four times that of the velociraptors, he had little to fear from a small group attacking him, so he slept soundly on his nest of bones.
At the commune a killing council had been called after the last breach of the fence had taken place.
Slat perched at a higher level than the others as a position of rank and said, “The time has come for us to hunt down and remove this menace. I have been ‘linked’ to one of the Pterodactyls and have seen where our unwelcome visitor has settled in.”
She then transferred the location to the minds of the others in the hunting group. Each raptor now had a clear vision of the territory that the T’ Rex dominated and the surrounding countryside. Knowing the simplicity of the huge meat-eater’s mind, it made a little difference to the plan of attack that Slat had laid down. The huge predator’s means of attack was to rush its prey from ambush and bite down on the neck of whatever it was chasing taking a chunk out. This was what they were relying on to bring him down.
It still required a great deal of courage to bring down the killer and each one of them knew that if they followed the plan, then maybe all of them would come back to the commune. What they had to do was to edge the beast towards the bank of the river that swollen as it was with the seasonal rains, was flowing strongly enough to take the T’ Rex away and drown him.
To do this required the hunting party to make him mad with rage and uncertain where the next attack was coming from. This was where the stout bamboo lances tipped with heavy, pointed flint ends would come into play. The killer would not recognise the lances as weapons and that was the Deinonychus’s advantage. The much smaller dinosaurs had long ago discovered that with care, a very sharp edge could be worked on the weapon-stones. Of all the items gathered by the commune, these chunks of flint-bearing stones were the most valuable and prised above all else.
Those of the commune that had the ability to produce these spear-heads and other tools by knapping the flint were held in great respect and were highly ranked amongst the clan. Slat was one of these and bore her useful abilities to the commune with well-deserved pride. She was also gravid again, and was carrying an ovary full of eggs that would soon require a nest and a male to keep them turned, but this would take several more weeks before that stage was ready.
The hunting party each selected a lance with great care as the shaft of the lance had to be robust enough to drive the lance-head deep into the killer’s body. It would be very unlikely that they would get a second chance. Each of them also selected an axe and strapped it to their chest where it could be quickly taken out of its holster if needed. Without ceremony they all turned as one and began the long stride that would take them towards the killer’s den in the early dawn. It would take a full morning for them to reach the T’ Rex’s position and it would be sensible for them to rest for a while and survey the situation, before the attack.
By the time the sun had reached the high position over-head Slat and the rest of the hunting party had reached a position where they could scent the heap of bones that the T’ Rex was sleeping on. Once again Slat used her ability to ‘see’ through the eyes of a hovering pterodactyl that was passing over-head. She projected the picture to the other members of the hunt and pointed out the swollen river and the crumbling banks. Like all two legged upright dinosaurs, Norch could not swim, so once in that maelstrom he would definitely drown if they could only get him into the water.
Now the trap had to be set and four of the hunting party began the task of digging an angled hole so that the lances would point towards the sleeping T’ Rex with the heel of the lance resting at the back of the sloping hole. Brush was then pulled over the waiting hunters’ bodies to camouflage them. The other three would wake and torment the killer so that all that would dominate its mind would be to reach its persecutors and crunch their bones. Once they could initiate the chase they would lure him onto the lances that would rise up from the trail.
Slat led her two companions closer to the sleeping beast and took position directly in front of him with her back to the trail. The other two stationed one each side and waited for Slat’s signal.
Norch slept as all his kind did with his huge hind legs slightly splayed out with his tail pointing straight behind him with his head and chest flat along the ground. Slat was not much bigger than his head and pointed the lance towards the slobbering nose. There were few places that the T’ Rex was vulnerable as the hide was incredibly tough, but Slat knew them all. She leapt forwards, jammed the lance head into his nostril and pushed as hard as she could. She then danced out of the way of the abruptly wakened killer that pushed himself erect shaking his head to shake the lance loose. As he did so one of the other Raptors ducked under his tail and stabbed him into the tender area of his anus, pushing the lance head deep into that soft area. Norch bellowed in pain and swept his head round seeking his tormentors and caught the other assailant in his cavernous mouth and crunched once and spat him out. Slat buried her axe into the back foot and left it there. She and the survivor began to retreat back down the tail slow enough to keep the T’ Rex follow them, but not too slow! Now Norch began to pick up speed ignoring the pain from his injured foot and began to lean forwards for the killing bite as he chased them towards the waiting Deinonychus hidden under the brush. Slat and her companion ran through the gap between the hidden lances. Once past the ambush they both rolled over in the muddy trail to make their attacker think that they had stumbled. His mind full of nothing else but the killing lust that inflamed his thoughts, he did not and could not see the rising lances as a threat.
He ran full tilt into the middle upraised lance and with the weight of the T’ Rex behind it, the sharp flint lance head disappeared into his belly and Norch screamed in pain and staggered to the side, only to fall onto a second razor- tipped lance jammed securely against the angled hole. This went in under his ribs and the killer turned and lurched back along the trail leaving a trail of blood behind him. The lance holders that were still armed stabbed repeatedly at his back, driving him towards the river. It took two of the hunting party to carry the heavy lances, but it put a safe distance between the mortally wounded T’ Rex and them. His breath was now coming in ragged gasps and struggling to keep him going. Blinded with pain he did not see that he had become close to the river’s edge and his massive weight caused the bank to crumble.
Slat watched the killer sink out of sight with relief as he toppled into the swift current and was gone. Knowing that the area was now safe she sent a ‘calling’ to the trained iguanodons at the compound to come and pick them up. There was little reason to have to walk back to their settlement now that the way was predator free. She directed the hunting party to gather what weapons that they still had and wait for the carriers to reach them. Meanwhile there was still some of the T’ Rex’s latest kill covered in flies at his nest of bones. That would be something to keep hunger away for some time. It did not take them long to finish off whet the T’ Rex had left.
The body of the T’ Rex was carried downstream until it came to a lazy bend and was carried into the silt where after some time the bank collapsed and buried the dinosaur out of reach of hungry mouths. There it lay as the years flowed by until some eighty million years had passed and what was fertile plain became desert. The area was rich in fossils due to that ancient river burying many in that lazy bend in the river. Many teams of palaeontologists had dug there to find the fossilised prizes to be found. When the T’ Rex had been found it was obvious that a complete skeleton had been found. As they carefully uncovered him they found that something that took the world of palaeontology by storm. Norch had been buried along with two very heavy flint lance heads inside him. Even the bamboo had turned to stone, showing that they belonged with each other. Many declared that the finds were false and a fraud, but too many people had been at that dig when the artefacts were discovered inside the rib-cage of the T’ Rex.  Each flint spear head needed two hands to lift them and it was obvious that they had not been knapped by human hands.
Human beings were forced to accept that some dinosaurs had developed intelligence long before humanity had ruled the Earth. They were indeed ‘The First Ones’ that had the gift of reason.

The First Ones.
Chapter  Three.

It was the time of the great migration when the giant dinosaurs moved south towards the super continent that would one day become Antarctica. The endless days of continuous sunshine would generate swift growth of all the plant species and provide the vast herds of vegetarians with endless fodder. Following them were the predators picking off the weak, old and newly hatched. At high tide the herds retreated to the forests and fed on what there was left by others that had travelled this way many weeks before. At low tide the beaches were clear and the sauropods made their way along the shore jostling for position and putting as much distance behind them to arrive at the feeding grounds. Once across the isthmus joining what would one day become Chile and Argentina the whole continent of Antarctica would be at their disposal as it woke with the soon tom be endless sunshine.  
The largest of the carnivores was the Giganotosaurus, forty-three feet from nose to tip of its tail. These creatures hunted in family groups bringing the iguanodons a heavy price to pay during the migration. They would lay in wait hidden at the edge of the forest and when a suitable sized target strayed too close to the hidden killers, they would pounce. They were superb ambush preditors ans totally without fear.
Competing with them were the   Deinonychus communes that were a much more mentally evolved than any other dinosaur. They had developed into tool using creatures that also had the gift of telepathic communication with each other. Some of them that were more advanced were able to mentally dominate many of the other species and bend them to their will. Unfortunately the Giganotosaurus were just too big and powerful to be able to dominate in the family groups that hunted together.
The nomadic groups of Deinonychus would sometimes band together in a gathering of the clans when the opportunity presented itself and this would be the time of exchanging ideas. Eggs were also exchanged so that a better genetic mix would be had as the chicks would breed with a greater diversity. Large woven carrying baskets were harnessed over the backs of the ‘tamed’ iguanodons and packed with straw and earth that was kept warm by the heat emanating from the flanks of the carriers. Stockades were built along the edges of the forest so that the migrating herds could be followed and the nights safely spent by the clans of the Deinonychus. The further south that they travelled the longer were the daylight hours.
The leaders of the clans gathered together to discuss the growing problem of the increase in numbers of the largest predators. Many times various members of the clans had been driven off their rightful kills and the prey devoured by families of the Giganotosaurus acting together. As they were four times the size of the members of the clans, every time they were forced into retreat to remain out of reach, leaving the fresh meat behind.
Knod was the eldest of the clan leaders and was deferred to, to begin the discussion.
She gave a loud hiss to draw their attention and said, “As we are all agreed, the competition are becoming a danger to the clans and are steadily increasing in numbers.  They are beginning to dominate the migration routes. If we cannot find a way to decrease those numbers we will be driven off the traditional hunting grounds. If that happens many of us will starve and clan will fight against clan. This must not happen. We have all worked together to build stockades along the migration route and made sure those massive killers cannot get inside. In those forts we have stockpiled weapons and tools over the generations that the ‘people’ have hunted along the beach.”
“Leader, Knod, I would speak of an idea,” pleaded one of the under leaders and the clan leaders turned and gave assent.
Knod stared at the young leader and remembered the background of this person and nodded to say, “Speak.”
“What I have to say has not been tried before”, Cade replied and she shifted her feet to face all of the others. “We are small up against the mighty ones and stand no chance of even attacking in groups of doing them any damage. But consider the idea of using others that gather in herds by controlling their minds. I speak of the three horned ones that are big enough to do them great damage if we could only stampede them into the family groups. Also I have brought a new modified weapon that would be of use.”
She showed them the modified spear with an axe head fixed into the other end and showed the clan leaders how a thrust and chopping action would work against any of similar size. It would also give them an advantage if the stampede were to leave any injured Giganotosaurus behind it. The clan leaders took turns in applying the new weapon and agreed that more of these should be adapted from the spears and extra axe heads that would need to be crafted by those skilled in the knapping of flints.
 Knod applied her quick mind to the suggestion of the young leader and surveyed the group of clan leaders and said, “I find the idea good that Cade has put before us. What we need to do is to drive out an old carrier beast and leave it on the beach as bait. I will do this and cripple it so that it cannot get away. They will come to take the kill and I will be ‘forced’ into retreat.
Those of us with the strongest mental powers hold a herd of the three horned ones back until the killers attack the wounded one. When they begin to feed and fight among themselves for dominance of the kill, we unleash a stampeding mind-managed herd against whatever is feeding on the corpse. The three horned ones are big enough to do them enough damage that we can swoop down the beach and finish off any that still live. The overspill of meat will keep the clans fed for some while. One of the horned ones on its own would soon be despatched but a large group ploughing into them, driven by hate and fear will be unstoppable.”
Over the next few weeks the Dienonychus gathered the small independent herds of triceratops to the edge of the forest until they had sufficient and were ready. They horned ones were becoming more and more fractious and irritable. The instinct to be on their way in the annual migration began to dominate their small minds. They needed to be continually urged to stay where they were. The raptors kept them circling in tightly knitted groups abiding their time.  
New weapons were adapted from the existing spears and an old iguanodon selected to become the bait in the trap.
Now they waited for a lull in the volume of the migrating herds and several long days had passed since any kills by the family of Giganotosaurus had taken place. Hungry eyes and nostrils constantly scanned the beach for the next kill. They were beginning to squabble among themselves as hunger bit and nothing of any size travelled the yearly exodus as the clans kept the rout clear and let the build-up commence. Knod cast her mind lightly through the ill-tempered group and decided that now was the time.
Knod went to the compound and selected the aged dinosaur by ‘calling’ it to her and blanked out its mind while she climbed aboard. She rode the creature out into the open from behind the outcrop and onto the deserted beach.  The rest of the clan contained the uneasy herd of triceratops hidden behind the ridge of rocks. She dominating the simple mind and overcame the blind terror of the beast at being without the other members of the herd. Knod made the beast walk onto a place where the beach funnelled into a narrower area. She knew that once the killers started to feed, the herd would be forced into trampling the flesh-eaters or enter the sea. This was something that the triceratops would not do as they could not swim.
Taking firm control of the mind of her steed, she made the beast stop while she slid off the back. Now the creature began to wail in fear as the scent of the nearby killers filled her nostrils. To make sure that the iguanodon could not run away she swung the axe against the hamstring at both back legs. Blood poured from the wounds and soaked into the sand as the beast collapsed. Knod let off a shrill scream to her unseen hunters that denoted a kill and the family of giganotosaurus became alert. They recognised the call as food for the taking and broke from their ambush position, following the scent of fresh blood.
Knod saw them coming rapidly, bounding on their powerful back legs and made every sign of reluctantly giving up the kill as she had no perceptual back-up.. She moved fast enough not to incite the group to give chase, but slow enough that they had their tiny minds focussed on the wounded iguanodon and registered that Knod was alone on the beach and not a threat. The pack tore into the dying sacrifice ignoring the disappearance of the clan leader, as she slipped behind a rocky outcrop where the large herd of triceratops were penned in by her telepathic adepts. She stared back at the oblivious family of feeding Giganotosaurus and judged that the only thing on their minds now, was to rip apart the prey and swallow as many lumps of flesh before others of the group ate them.
Knod waved her arm forwards and the other members of the group started the stamped by filling the triceratops minds with images of the very creatures they were going to mow down, behind them. As they were poorly sighted they had no idea that they were charging a group of killers much larger than them. They surged around the rocky outcrop and began the stampede towards the oblivious meat-eaters mentally convinced the the killers were close behind them. By the time that they had got close enough to see the pack of Giganotosaurus the horns of the leading bulls were already piercing the belly and lower regions of the startled predators. Too late to make any defensive moves they were overwhelmed by the stampeding herd and once they had been knocked over, the maddened herd stomped over them. The sandy beach soaked up the blood of the Deinonychus’s foe and Knod’s group set about making sure that those just wounded followed the rest of the pack into death. The axes rose and fell woth spear points jabbing into undefended places.
They soon summoned their captive iguanodons hitched to large sledges, to haul the meat back to the stronghold. Soon the beach was left with the results of the carnage for the scavengers to clear up and as soon as they moved away what was left was being fought over.
 Once back at the stockade, the meat was buried to prevent it from rotting too fast and the rest portioned out to feed the young and old. Meanwhile the migration once more carried on along the beach.
Knod sat back and said to her clan leaders, “What we did today is what separates us from the greedy ones. They have tiny minds and although we are much smaller than them, they can be controlled. We are surrounded by living weapons that can be turned upon those who would take our kills and also eat us if they could. A new batch of younglings will soon be hatched and will need to be sorted. Remember that those who can link to our minds will live, those without that ability die. ”

There was a murmur of assent and then just the steady crunch of bones and chewing of flesh.

Tuesday 21 August 2018


                                            Chapter One - Witches Beginning.

Abigail was seven when she saw her first goblin. It was the year that Matthew Hopkins was born, in 1620 and over twenty years would elapse before they met. It would be at the height of the Civil War that spanned the years from 1642 to 1649 that the so called Witchfinder General would hang some 300 women condemned as witches.
That would be in the future, but now all that Abigail could think of was that she was cold and so hungry. She had left the cottage that her mother and father had died in of the fever some days ago, to roam the woods, searching for anything to eat. She had eaten every scrap of the stale bread and boiled rabbit that her father had trapped before he became sick. All of the few vegetables that had been seeded into the garden had been eaten raw or cooked with the rabbit. Her mother had become ill a week ago and was still in the bed she had died in, while the body of her father was in a chair in the kitchen and was beginning to smell. Abigail did not understand why they had died so quickly, but she realised that she could do nothing for them now.
She had always been able to ‘call’ the wildlife to her in days gone by and now she needed to be able to do it in earnest, or die amongst the ferns and bracken. She knew how to kill a bird by wringing its neck, but doubted that she could manage to do the same to a rabbit as she was so weak. So she sat with a blanket wrapped around her and put forth her mind to gather what creatures she could entice within reach of her tired hands. Soon rustlings in the undergrowth signalled that she was being successful. She kept very still and waited. A female pheasant pushed through the ferns and walked up to her outstretched hands, looking for the food its tiny mind was sure was here.
Abigail closed her hand around the scrawny neck and she had enough strength left to choke it to death. She stripped off as much of the feathers that she could from the breast and sank her sharp teeth into the warm flesh. The blood ran down her chin as she tore and swallowed the meat. In close proximity to the old oak tree was a haze that shimmered as she stared at it. It cleared as she focused her mind on the shadowy outline that began to appear and a small green man stood looking at her. His ears were pointed and large tufts of hair sprouted from them. He had a pointed chin and almond shaped yellow eyes that had splits in them like a cat’s. His clothes were made from rabbit skins and he wore the skin from the head over his skull and face, looking through the eye holes.
He swivelled his head around to stare at Abigail and said, “You can see me! You’re not supposed to be able to do that!”
“Do you want some of my pheasant? I can always ‘call’ another one,” replied Abigail and waved the carcass at the little man.
“Thank you,” he said, “but there’s not much left except the legs, nevertheless if you are sure? He walked over to her and said, “What are you doing here in this dark old wood, all on your own?”     
Abigail told him about her parents’ untimely death of some kind of fever and her desperate plight. Their cottage was on the very edge of the village, but once the people knew that her mother was sick they abandoned her father to cope on his own.
“So young one, no-one knows that you are not sick and even if they did, none would help in fear of catching what they died of. If you are left here, you will die as winter is not too far away. So as you can see me and we are now friends, I will take you home to where I live and you can stay with me. Before we go, can you ‘call’ a rabbit and at least we can have a decent meal on the other side?”
Abigail concentrated and soon a pair of rabbits came hopping towards them.
The little green man broke their necks and popped them into a sack over his shoulder and said, “By the way, young one, my name is Mirkwood and I am what you people call a goblin. We sort of live in your world and our own at the same time, crossing from one side to the other. Now to do that, you need to take my hand and trust me to ferry you over there. I come here for the rabbits and other large game such as the bird you were eating. We’ll take it back with us and it can be used to make gravy to cook the rabbits in. What is your name?”
“My name is Abigail Widgeon,” she replied. 
Abigail placed her trusting hand in his and they walked through a hazy sort of mist and found herself in summer! All the trees were different and full of blossom and also strange fruits hung from their branches. All manner of different dwellings were dotted about. Most of them were fashioned from growing trees intertwined together with the top branches woven into roofs with stone chimneys built into the construction. There were no doors, just openings into the strange homes. Over the top of the openings were rolled woven blinds that could be let down if the weather became wet.
There were many of the green skinned people who had come out of their houses to see what Mirkweed had brought into their world. They clustered around the two of them and stared up at Abigail with curiosity. Some of them reached out to touch her, just to make sure that she was real.
The goblin shooed them away and held up the brace of rabbits and said, “Fetch a large pot and plenty of vegetables and we will have a feast this evening.”
The green skinned people soon dragged out a large caldron and lit a fire underneath and filled it with spring water, potatoes, onions, carrots, turnips, swede, cabbage, the two skinned rabbits and what was left of the pheasant. Handfuls of herbs were added to the mix and all was brought to the boil. Half way through the cooking a small bucket of chopped apples were tipped in along with a basket of blackberries.
The pot had boiled for hours and at last Mirkwood was satisfied that all was cooked and he began to serve the contents to the assembly. First he gave Abigail a generous bowlful before serving the rest to the goblins sat around the fire. For the first time since her parents had died, she felt safe and dozed off.
She woke as the morning sun began to warm her face and realised that she was covered in a large blanket made from rabbit skins. Sat by the side of her was her new friend, Mirkwood, similarly wrapped in a cover of the cured furs. He was awake and had rekindled the fire to boil up a mixture of oats and ground seeds with goat’s milk. A pot of honey had been opened ready for breakfast with spoons and bowls placed ready.
“Good morning, my little sleepyhead. It’s a brand new day and you have much to learn about where you are and your place in this world,” the goblin said and smiled.
Thus started Abigail’s education in the ways of the faery folk and their world that lived next door to the human realm. She learnt how to open and close the doors between them so that she could travel from one existence to the other. In return she made specific forays into the human world to call the game to her and help feed the growing community that began to rely on her abilities. The goblin, Mirkwood taught Abigail how to concentrate her mind and cast false images into the minds of the humans. She soon found out that she could do much more than that as she grew older and left childhood behind.
She learnt to fly with the aid of a broomstick that she had made herself under Mirkwood’s instructions. It was important that she take the life-force from the tree and freeze it in the twigs that she bound with her own hair to the stout stave of the broom. There was enough room for her to sit astride the flare of the broom and Mirkwood stand behind holding onto her shoulders. Now as she flew, the magic of the forest spread up and into the brush, keeping her aloft. Mirkwood called it Earth-power and it existed in both worlds. All it needed was the power to harness it. Once she attained her eighteenth birthday she returned to the cottage that she had spent her sad childhood. To do this she walked through the village in plain sight leading a nanny goat by a lead, carrying a bundle of possessions strapped over the goat’s hairy back. She wore an old, well mended tartan shawl over her shoulders and a dark, nondescript long skirt and top. Her boots however were goblin made and sturdy leather and studded with iron wedges, Abigail had ‘persuaded’ a travelling cloth and clothes merchant to donate some of his well-worn garments to her use and in return she had made him a bottle of linctus that would soothe his sore throat. She fogged his memory of her a little as she changed into the dress of the puritans that lived in her old area. He would remember trading some old clothes for the remedy, but not her face or general description. 
She told those who asked, that she had been taken in by a relative to live in Colchester and had returned to reclaim her old home. Nobody questioned her story as she reinforced belief into the minds of all she met. When she finally got to the remains of the cottage she could see that much needed to be done to return it to something that could be lived in. The two mounds in the garden showed that at least the villagers had buried her parents after the fever had passed through. No-one however had decided to take up residence at the cottage and it had been left to deteriorate. 
To her satisfaction a great deal of strong men had followed her to her old home and with the tools that they had ‘thoughtfully’ carried with them, soon got to work on rebuilding and repairing the cottage. It was not too long when a horse and cart came dragging along, loaded up with reeds for redoing the thatch.
Over the weeks that the work was done she got to know the people of the village of Wainscot very well and made it known that she was a healer of some skill. One of the men had cut himself badly on his leg with a scythe and some infection had set in. Abigail got to work cleaning the wound and putting on a drawing poultice to pull out all the poison. Once she was satisfied that the healing balm she had put on the wound had done the trick, she made him sleep and sewed up the gash. Within a week Thomas Thatcher was walking around and putting weight on his leg. His grateful wife, Mary made sure that Abigail did not go short of vegetables and fruit from her garden. The miller, John Flour, fell and badly sprained his wrist making it difficult to move the heavy sacks of flour around the mill. Abigail splinted the swollen wrist and drenched it in cold water, instructing his wife Heather to do the same and keep the bandages cold. She also eased the pain with a mixture of crushed belladonna and willow bark taken in the morning and last thing at night. Again she was well looked after with a sack of flour delivered by the grateful son the following day.
Once the cottage was liveable she maintained that no more help was needed in rebuilding and put a little mental pressure on the menfolk to return to their own business while she moved in. Once they had gone she was able to open a ‘door’ and let her goblin friends into the house where they could do what repairs were necessary out of sight of the passing eye.
That night Mirkwood and Abigail went hunting, by flying the broomstick deeper into the wood where the rabbit burrows were numerous. Using her gift she called a dozen of them to their deaths and kept two, giving the rest to her green skinned friends.
In the village of Wainscot however there lived one person that did not welcome the return of Abigail. This was the reverend Giles Well-beloved, rector of this parish and was the main reason that the villagers had turned their backs on Abigail’s parents when they had become ill with the fever that had spread. He had preached that the fever was a punishment to the un-godly for their sins wrought upon this Earth. Those who died were called by God to make this realm a better place for those who had survived the sickness. He declared from the pulpit that the Angel of Death had taken only those who had truly sinned and had hidden those sins away.
It had not taken long for Abigail to find this out from the older inhabitants of the village. One Sunday she walked to the church and sat amongst the congregation and listened to the hell and damnation sermon that the reverend Giles spouted from the safety of the pulpit.
In the middle of his tirade against the hidden sins of his parishioners, she stood up and asked, “What greater sin could there be of the indifference that you made sure of against my parents, Jack and Rosemary Widgeon when they lay ill with fever!”
The reverend Giles Well-beloved nearly choked when he heard the accusation and replied, “They were sinners in the eyes of God and struck down because of what they did. By keeping the villagers away I made sure that no others became contaminated by their actions. You were part of those sins, Abigail Widgeon and I ban you from this church of the Holy God. Get thee hence away from this holy place and bygone foul spirit!”
Abigail stood in the pew and looked him in the eyes replying, “You are an ignorant man, Giles Well-beloved and no follower of the Holy scriptures. A more mean-minded creature could not be found in all of England. You are not fit to stand in that pulpit. Because of you my mother and father died needlessly when with a little help and care they might have lived through the fever. You even had them buried outside of the churchyard and put into the ground of the garden at their cottage. I will not rest until I see you gone from this place!”
With that Abigail turned and walked from the church with her head held high ignoring the shocked expressions of the members of the congregation.

                                                          Chapter Two. - Witches Bane.

“Ye shalt not suffer a Witch to live!”
Once again Matthew Hopkins’s hate filled group had tracked me down and enlisted the help of the local priest. I recognised the voice of Giles Well-beloved, the parish preacher to this small community. He was also the prime landholder as well. Fat and ignorant he peddled the hymns of retribution, promising all who would not agree with his view of Christianity to dance in the fires of Hell. There was very little of love of your fellow man in his sermons. The local people were terrified of what he could do and name from the pulpit of his church. He could smell sin where there was none and invoke the power of the Lord in casting any that he found wanting to the depths of Satanic fire. I picked up the stray cat that had moved in with me at my tumbledown cottage and tucked him under my arm, opening the front door to the little garden I had planted.
The fat oaf had raised a mob of frightened folk on his way here to carry out his wishes as well as other followers of the Witch Finder General who had sought him out. There were at least a dozen poorly dressed men and women in the group with fear written all over their faces. Whether it was fear of me or the reverend Giles, I could not be certain, but I knew that they would do his bidding. They were all stood at the boundary of my land, behind the makeshift fence that I had twined into the hedge.
“What do you want with me, Reverend Well-beloved,” I shouted to the wretch, “and what do you mean by implying that I practise witchcraft. Lies like that will place your immortal soul in peril. Be careful what you accuse me of, lest you invoke more than you can handle.”
“Do you see and hear good people? She is as unrepentant as ever and even now she has her familiar under her arm. An imp of Satan in disguise! I have told you that she prowls these woods at night, visiting unholy places to commune with the ungodly,” the reverend Well-beloved sputtered.
I calmly put the cat down onto the grassy path and it spat at the hostile crowd, taking a position between my feet, growling at those who ventured too close.
“Who was it that sat with many of you when the fever came and nursed you back to health? How many of you have sought my help with a difficult calving or lambing. Who has delivered those children that were difficult to enter this world and stitched the wounds that have befallen accidents with a scythe?  Have I ever done you harm in any way? Do not believe this man when he fills your heads with fear of Hell-fire over small misdemeanours that you might commit in daily life. His God, full of vengeance, is not your God with the love of the land and all that grows on it. What you are being told to do is a sin against the God he purports to worship. If you burn my home and kill me in the process, then these acts will merit a terrible punishment that will visit all of you,” I answered and turned, went inside, taking the cat with me.
Outside the cottage I saw the preacher exhorting the people into a frightened mob and being bullied by the group of Witch Finders. I soon saw the torches being lit and I waited for the next act to begin.
The goblin by my side looked through the window and said, “Why do you bother with these people, Mistress Abigail?”
“Most of them are good and practise no harmful ways,” I replied. “They are glad of my help when they need it, but what I am able to do scares them a little. The problem lies with the purveyors of their religion who see me as a threat to their domination. They read their Holy books, but do not understand them and the true meaning of what is written down there. They are not wicked, just ignorant and unable to read the truth for themselves. The strangers amongst them are agents of the Witch Finder General and do his will.”
The goblin and I interfered with the minds of the people with the torches and they put them out, making them think that they had set fire to the thatched roof. We gave them a fine blaze to watch until they were sure in their own minds that the cottage was completely burnt down. Shamefaced they crept away until only the reverend Giles Well-beloved lingered by the gate with his new group, fresh from Mathew Hopkins, staring at what he thought was a ruin.
I gave him and the others at his side something that would follow them to their graves and remind them for always, of what I had promised. Every time he went to his bed, his wife would appear to be two months dead and rotting. The food that she prepared would be crawling with maggots and anything that he drank would stink of piss. Added to this was the fact that he could not tell anyone about what he could see. All the members of Matthew Hopkins’ followers would suffer from the same malady when they returned to their wives.
The villagers I dealt with more leniently and merely filled their dreams with visions of the burning cottage, just for a month or so.
Eventually the penitent amongst the village came back into the woods; found that my cottage was still standing and I that was unharmed, much to their relief. The reverend Well-beloved lasted six weeks before he threw himself from the top of the bell tower onto the gravestones beneath. The others did not last as long and each of them committed suicide rather than continue to live in a continual nightmare.
I still have the cat, twenty years after the events that took place and my cottage is always well supplied with game, fruit and vegetables. Many of the descendants of the night of the ‘burning’ come and visit me and are always very respectful.
I make them welcome including the new pastor and his children whenever they visit. They never see the many other visitors to my cottage who break through the veil between the worlds. The miller always makes sure that I have fresh flour and all are welcome to eat my cakes. Mathew Hopkins ‘died’ some time ago, but in fact was dragged by goblins into their world to do penance for the evil that he did. I sometimes make the effort to see him and Giles Well-beloved as they toil endlessly in the pits of fire with others of their kind. They will be there for a very long time until they are truly penitent for what they did when on this Earth.   

                                               Chapter Three – Witch’s Justice.

After the suicide of the reverend Giles Well-beloved, Abigail concentrated her thoughts on the man who had sent his henchmen to destroy her. They had never returned to the Witchfinder General’s entourage as the mental conditioning she had placed in their minds would not allow them. They too had committed suicide rather than face the terrors of the mind that she had instilled into the very fabric of their souls.
Since their ‘visit’ to destroy her by branding her as a witch, Abigail had made inquiries as to where this hunter of witches could be found. He had purchased the Thorn Inn at Mistley not too far from Colchester and located on the banks of the river Stour. It was here that he was conducting the infamous witch finding trails and hanging on a permanent gallows some three hundred old and defenceless women. She led her small herd of goats down the road to a nearby farmer that she was on good terms with, who had ‘volunteered’ to look after them while she was gone. John Plunket had cause to thank Abigail as she had seen into the world all of his children and nursed his wife Sarah through a bout of milk fever. He willingly lent her his spare horse for her use and as she had paid the blacksmith to renew the mare’s shoes at her expense, he was grateful to her.
Abigail loaded her few possessions into a stout leather bag along with a change of clothes and tied it to the saddle. She checked the mare over and was satisfied that the beast was sound.
“I may be gone for a month or so, John,” she told him as she swung her leg over the horse’s back. “You look after my goats, old friend and make use of the milk. The old one may need to be slaughtered if she does not produce a kid this coming month and go into milk. I leave her in your hands. Goodbye for a while Sarah and feel free to pick what you might need from my garden. Do not let the produce go to seed!”
“I will, Mistress Abigail,” Sarah replied. “I will keep an eye on the cottage and make sure there is no storm damage if the rains come early.”
With that she urged the mare along the road towards the village of Mistley and the river. It was the end of August and as yet the thick mists had not come down so Abigail made good time as the mare was in good health and the roads were as yet quite firm. She urged the beast into a steady trot and cleared her mind of distractions. There was a rustle in the branches above her and a well-known weight dropped onto the saddle behind her.
“Surely you did not think that you would travel on this enterprise without Mirkwood?” The goblin asked.
Abigail smiled and replied, “My dear friend I have been waiting for you to show up. You must not be seen. Or any other sightings of your presence manifest itself to make people think that I am not alone.”
“This man kills old women for money. We have been watching his activities for some time. You humans are a strange and vicious race of beings. The time is fast coming when goblin kind will no longer hunt in your forests as it is becoming ever more dangerous for us to do so. The wild and empty places that are being cut down and felled are the old woods in which we have held our hunts for thousands of years. We have seen enough death during this conflict between the flamboyantly clothed men against the troops of sober shod soldiers. These are the people that are seeking out old women and labelling them as witches. They are full of superstition and ignorance,” the goblin answered and held on tightly as Abigail urged the mare into a gallop.
As the sun began to set, a smell of wood-smoke drifted across the road and Abigail pulled the mare to a stop. She stood up in the stirrups and listened to the sounds of people ahead camped across the roadway.
“Roundheads up ahead, Mirkwood, so it’s time for you to disappear from view,” whispered Abigail. “Re-join me when I set out on the road to Mistley on the morning. I will take shelter with the solders overnight. Don’t worry old friend; I shall be well looked after once I have located an officer and bent him to my will!” 
Mirkwood stretched up and grabbed a tree branch and disappeared from view making his way through the top branches until he could get a good view of the encampment. He then circled round the camp to the other side. He made a careful assessment of the situation and transmitted the view directly to Abigail’s mind showing the position of the officer’s tent. With that he translated through the rift and into his world where he took shelter for the night with another goblin.
Abigail urged the mare forwards at a steady trot until she came to a barricade across the road where a number of Oliver Cromwell’s militia were stood with rifles ready. While several pointed their weapons at Abigail two of them made their way towards her and one of them wrapped his heavy gauntlet around the mare’s bridle, bringing it to a stop.
“Where do you think that you are going mistress on this fine horse? This road has been closed by order of the Great Protector,” The one with two stripes declared.
Abigail slipped into his mind and retrieved the name of the commanding officer in charge of the battalion.
“I am here to see Major John Masters on business that he would not want to be left waiting to hear,” replied Abigail and filled the mind of the corporal with the apprehension of suffering the major’s displeasure.
“Yes madam! I will take you to him immediately,” the corporal stuttered and led the mare into the armed camp.
He led her to a storage barn that was surrounded by tables that had maps fixed to the wooden tops with pistols to prevent them from blowing away. Major John Masters and his officers were arguing about the layout portrayed. As he became aware of the intrusion, Abigail slipped into his mind and made him believe that he was awaiting news from her direction about the possibility of travelling on the roads. She also gave him the information that she was working for the Lord Protector in an advisory capacity collecting knowledge of the area to pass on to Major.
Using the information passed onto her by the goblins, she had an intensive familiarity with the roads in and out of the area. She allowed the corporal to assist her in dismounting and walked over to the officers grouped around the table.
“It’s good to see you again, Major Masters,” she stated and shook him by the hand. “If you are intending to march onto Colchester I would advise that you go by way of Mistley as the roads are in good repair. I have business there and would be pleased to accompany your battalion in that direction in the morning. May I enquire if there is room for me to sleep under cover at this barn this night?”
“Madam, I will make sure that there is a place for you and some privacy. You! Corporal Smith, make sure that is so and make sure that all is well for my guest,” he ordered. I do not have your name. Would you please state it for the record?”
“My name is not to be known, sir! I work for the Lord Protector as his ears and eyes. There are times that I mix with the royalists and it would go ill with me if knowledge of my name in both camps became known. What you do not know cannot be repeated. There are royalist sympathisers that farm and conduct their businesses in this area, so it is better that you do not know my name.” 
“I understand,” replied the Major. “These are dangerous times and it would seem that the devil himself is abroad. John Stearns and Matthew Hopkins are rooting out the servants of Satan as we speak. They are at Mistley conducting trials there concerning the finding of witches and their punishment.”
Abigail sucked in her anger and merely nodded.
“Do you know how many of the devil’s spawn have been tracked down and hung?” She asked.
“Near on three hundred,” answered the Major. “The world becomes a better place for all of us due to their diligence.”
“Thank you, Major Masters for your hospitality. I will make my way to sleep and see you in the morning.”
“I will see you then mistress. We will be moving out soon after first light whence breakfast has been taken. You are welcome to share our rations and our company,” the officer replied and turned his back on Abigail as she made her way to the back of the barn.
She laid her cloak over some soft straw and snuggled down into its warmth, but before she let herself go into sleep she laid some traps just in case she was visited in the night. She sent her mind out into the many rats that lived in the barn and put them on watch. Anyone who tried to approach her during the night would be facing a squeaking barrage of her little4 brown friends. She had scattered half of the loaf that she had taken from the table in pieces, as payment for the rats induced ‘help’ that she had instigated. Abigail pulled her cloak around herself and drifted off to sleep.
A frenzied squeaking woke her as the first early rays of sunshine broke through the morning mists. It was the corporal that had taken her to the Major, sent to waken her and invite her for breakfast.
“Good day corporal Smith,” she said. “I see that morning has dawned with some sunshine. Are you well?”
“Good day Mistress. Yes, the morning looks to be a good one for men on the march! Thank you for enquiring as to my health, but I fear that the cold has gone down onto my chest. Sleeping in the open air is not my idea of comfort, madam, but it is part of a soldier’s life and must be borne. There is a breakfast at the Major’s table waiting for you to join them, before we set out for Colchester,” the corporal replied.
“Wait!” Abigail reached into her bag and took out a bottle and said, “Drink this linctus and take one mouthful when the chest feels sore. It’s a mixture of rum and some herbs that will ease your discomfort.”
Corporal Smith took the bottle and removed the cork and sniffed the contents warily and smiled. He took a swig and smiled again as the potent liquid slid down his gullet.
“Thank you Mistress. Thank you for this. I will hide it away in my coat pocket. I won’t forget this kindness,” he replied and led the way towards the major and his officers.
Abigail followed him and was pleased to see that a place had been set next to the Major John Masters. A plate of bacon and eggs was served over a large slice of bread. There were jugs of beer and milk available so Abigail helped herself to a jug of milk. She had found out from experience that alcohol dulled her wits and mental talents so she avoided drinking any at all times. As she ate, Abigail slipped into the major’s mind to see what he had planned to do this day. He was having doubts as to why he was going to Colchester, so Abigail reinforced the need to march the men there and take up defensive positions. She inserted the ‘knowledge’ that cavaliers had been seen scouting the area and a show of force would be necessary to keep them from advancing. With that done she settled down to enjoy her breakfast and make her own plans.
Later on that morning as they had marched towards Mistley, Mirkwood dropped from an overhanging branch onto the back of Abigail’s saddle.
The goblin grasped his friend’s shoulders and bent forward to whisper into her ear, “Mistress Abigail you must be prepared for the horrors that you will soon come to see. Just outside the boundaries of the village are the gallows that these fiends have been using. They have not bothered to bury those that have been hung. Some still swing from the ropes while older bodies have been cast into an open pit behind the gibbets to rot or be fed upon by scavengers.”
“Thank you for the warning old friend,” she replied and grasped the reins of her mare’s harness much tighter.
Abigail began to pick up the smell of death as the horses rounded the bend and there by the side of the road was the gibbet with its grisly load swaying in the wind. The officers at the front of the column gave the horror a cursory glance and urged their horses past the site of execution and on towards the Inn known as the Mistley Thorne where Matthew Hopkins held court. With him was the older John Stearns who had the necessary papers from the Lord Protector to pursue their ghastly mission.
A flock of crows burst into the air from their feast, leaving the eyeless skulls grinning down at the passers bye. The column marched past the gallows without anybody taking much notice with thoughts concerned with dry and warm billets rather than the corpses hanging on the gibbets. The sound of the horses abruptly changed as the roads turned from mud to stones and the iron shoes clattered on them. Abigail looked along the main street seeking the whereabouts of the Inn and soon found it situated on a bend of the road. There was a large waggon parked in front, being unloaded into the building. The four heavy horses stood quietly, grateful for the rest while the goods were being hauled inside. She noticed that several barrels of beer had been rolled inside and there were quite a few still on the waggon. This would mean that the men under Major John Masters would be allowed to drink as much as they had money to spend.
It would not be a good idea for her to be about as the beer took hold and the men began to become uninhibited. Abigail would need a room at the Inn that she could make fastened and safe from intruders. She had accumulated a good store of money by trading goblin gold in the large town of Colchester some time ago. The majority of the coins she had secreted in a money-belt wrapped around her waist. The rest of them she had in a drawstring purse hanging around her neck. These coins she would allow the Inn-keeper to see so that he would know that although she had limited money, she would be able to pay her bill.
As she rode into the courtyard, Mirkweed leapt from the saddle onto the roof and made his way to where the windows looked out onto the street. She tied her horse to the rail outside the entrance and walked inside. Two men were in earnest conversation at a table in the corner of the room. They were counting out two piles of money from a strong box. Abigail let her mind gently enter into the conversation and found that the two men were the ones she was looking for. The money was payment from local communities for the finding and destruction of those who practised witchcraft. As Abigail dug deeper into the minds of the two witch-finders she found that as much as £23 had been paid by Stowmarket to alleviate the expenses incurred by the two men as they sought out the ‘guilty’ witches in that area. Sat with them were the two women that aided in the witch hunts by ‘pricking’ the unfortunate captive women looking for the devil’s spot where they would feel no pain. It was from these places on a woman’s body that they believed the imps of Satan would feed by drawing blood. Abigail contained her anger and made her way to the bar where the Inn-keeper stood watching her.
“Good man,” she said, “I would like to stay here for a few days, maybe a week. Would a shilling cover the costs of stabling my horse and a secure room with a meal?”
“Yes mistress it certainly would. Thankee kindly for your custom. What brings you to this part of the world?” He asked.
“I am travelling to Manningtree to seek out a master Matthew Hopkins to ask for his help in a grievous matter,” Abigail replied.
“Then you may look no further than the table over yonder good mistress. The man that you seek is sat over there smoking his pipe,” the innkeeper answered.
Abigail walked over to where the two men sat apportioning out the money on the table dividing the amount into four piles. Two of them were sparse and it took no scattering of wits to know that this was the women’s payment. The two larger heaps were rapidly swept into two large money bags out of her sight and placed into the large pockets of the two men’s coats. The women took their shares and moved away from the table and made for the bar and the Innkeeper’s stock.
The man with the pipe pointed the stem at Abigail and asked, “What can we do for you mistress? I heard you ask for me by name. Do you then know what it is that I do?”
Abigail made herself look overawed to be in his presence and replied, “I have information that you need to know, good sir. I have been told that you seek out the ungodly and vessels of the devil. I have come for your help. a few miles north of Colchester in the village of Leavenheath a coven of witches holds unholy meetings deep inside the woods that flourish in that area. The mayor of Colchester has sent me to find you and take you back there for you to do your civic duty and rid the people of this petulance.”
Matthew Hopkins sat a little straighter as he listened to Abigail’s plea and nodded his head in agreement.
“I have a little business to attend to at my home at Manningtree,” he replied. “In a few days’ time, I suggest that you accompany me there and we return to the open roads and make our way to this village and see what can be done. Has the Mayor mentioned the size of the fee he is willing to pay for this cleansing?”
 “He has entrusted me with that knowledge, good sir. A gold half-sovereign to be paid for each witch duly tried and executed,” Abigail answered and saw the look of pure greed suffuse the Witch-finder’s face.
His superior, John Stearns, shook his head and clamped Matthew’s arm with a burly grip and said, “This one you can do on your own. I need to get back to my farm. Dang it man, its harvesting time approaching and there is much to do. I will leave you with the letters of administration should you need them. Watch out for cavaliers on the road as they have little love for what we do.”
The knowledge that all the money earned this expedition would be his heightened his interest and he smiled at Abigail and said, “Well mistress we will be traveling together soon, but first I must away to my home in Mannigtree first.”
“Thank you good sir,” she replied. “I shall make sure that I am ready for you and the journey back along that dangerous road. I came here in company with Major John Masters who is making his way to Colchester to make sure that King Charles men do not infiltrate that area. I shall now make my way upstairs to my bed and have something to eat from the kitchen.”
Abigail did this and from the safety of her barricaded room after she had eaten, she slipped into the mind of Jon Stearns and learned that he believed in what he was doing in instructing Matthew Hopkins in searching out and trying these old women for the practise of witchcraft. He was terrified of the devil and the fire and brimstone preachers that warned that his soul would burn in hell if he transgressed. Unlike the so called Witch-finder General who was in this awful trade for the easy money that he earned from the towns that he visited. Realising that John Stearns would do more good than harm if he was turned in his thinking, she altered his mind. He would not leave his farm again to accuse people of witchcraft, instead he would write a book about it to show others a way of looking at the matter.
Mirkwood paid her a visit while she was safely tucked away in her bedroom and sketched out a map showing how the tidal River Stour bent round to nearly touch the outer boundaries of Mistley before it wound on its way to Manningtree. That following day she rode her mare around the area to get a good look at where she would lead Matthew Hopkins. There was a small jetty providing an anchorage place for a fishing skiff that would do nicely for her purpose. The wood looked sound, but had that slippery aspect that a jetty can get if it gets submerged too often by extra high tides.
A day later John Stearns had left the Mistley Thorn to return to his farm and Abigail and her quarry set off along the estuary road towards Matthew’s home. The road was deserted as the soldiers would soon all be going the other way towards Colchester and had little interest in the opposite direction. Mirkwood had gone on ahead to make sure that the road was empty and fit for Abigail’s purpose.
As they walked the horses gently along the road Abigail asked the Witch-finder General about his latest trial and subsequent execution of the three witches that he had hung.
“Do you believe that these old women were in league with the devil?” She asked as she caught sight of the Jetty around the bend of the road.
“Does it matter, Mistress Abigail? They paid the price and they fattened my purse while I was doing the Lord Protector’s work,” he replied.
Abigail slipped into his mind and could plainly see as she had seen before that this man had no fear of Devil or Lord as long as he was paid. The finding and execution of anyone who could be charged with the sin of witchcraft was just a way of earning money to him unlike John Stearns who was driven by misguided religious beliefs.
Abigail flushed with anger and said, “I am here to punish you Matthew Hopkins for the murder of some three hundred souls since you took it upon yourself to follow this road of evil. You will now get off your horse and walk to the end of the jetty up ahead. When you reach the end you will jump into the incoming tide and stay there until I let you out.”
The horse stopped and Matthew found that his body would not obey him, as step by step he was made to walk towards the end of the jetty. He strained every muscle in his legs not to continue along this walk, but to no avail. The tide was coming into the estuary and filling up the banks of the river Stour as it did twice a day, but now it seemed to the Witch-finder that it had a purpose of its own. He struggled to break the control of Abigail’s hold on his body and managed to turn round to face her.
Abigail smiled at the terrified man and said, “Would you like to really see an imp of Satan before you drop into the freezing waters of the incoming tide? Mirkwood, show yourself to the nice gentleman and help him on his way.”
A hazy light coalesced on the jetty and the goblin appeared in front of the man and prodded him in the stomach with the point of a cavalier’s rapier that he had ‘acquired’ from a dead soldier. His horrified eyes took in the green creature with pointed ears and sharp teeth before he lost his footing and fell into the water. The cold almost paralysed his ability to move before he hit bottom, taking in a gulp of salty water and he began to choke.
Abigail concentrated her mind and made him strike for the surface and made him hold himself against the wooden poles of the jetty. There she kept him bitterly cold and choking on the sea water flooding into the estuary until he was shaking with chilly spasms.
She looked dispassionately at him and said, “How many poor souls have you condemned to the ducking stool, Master Hopkins? Now you know how it feels to be really cold at dawn. How does it feel to have lungful’s of filthy seawater in your chest? You will now climb out of that water and get back onto your horse and we will gently ride to your home at Manningtree where I will deliver you to die. You will not be able to speak or communicate with anyone there and you will be put to bed in your own home where I shall look after you and make sure that your torment goes on beyond the throes of death. When your evil heart stops I shall take your soul into the netherworld and lodge you with the goblins to tend their fire-pits until such time as you genuinely repent for the murdering of those helpless souls during the years that you and John Stearn had in your jurisdiction.
By the time that they reached the home of Matthew Hopkins he was shaking with fever and pleurisy. Within a short time, tuberculosis developed in his lungs and fearing contamination, he was buried within a few hours of his death. He was hastily interred on the 12th of August 1647 in the graveyard of the Church of St Mary at Mistley Heath.
True to her word Abigail transported his soul to the world of the goblins where he toiled in endless thirst along with others of his kind including the reverend Giles Well-beloved.