I sat silently in the Commanders tent, trying to block out the sound of the soldiers moaning in pain around me, trying to ignore the metallic smell of blood and the taste invading my mouth through the scent as I tried to concentrate on the paper the Commander had given me to practice my writing on.
Only when I heard the volley of gunshots did I drop my pen and rush from the tent to see my father, James Dunbar, rushing toward the Rebels on a dun stallion only to turn at the last moment and run along the fence before moving back toward our own troops.
"Father!" I yelled, rushing over to my black horse and leaping onto her back rushing toward the soldiers only for the Commander to suddenly appear beside me and grab my mounts reins, forcing her to stop long enough for the Commander to grab me as I made to leap off her back.
I could only watch as my father once again rushed the horse alongside the Rebel fence as they shot at him, only for our Confederate soldiers to rush forward, quickly shooting and saving my father as he jumped his stolen mount over a fence and disappeared from our sight. Only when the gunshots retreated with our soldiers who were chasing the Rebels away did we ride toward the fence where my father had jumped only to see him laying on the ground about ten yards away, his leg caught in his stirrup.
"Daddy!" I yelled quickly rushing toward him, leaping off my mount and stopping beside him as the Commander rode over, quickly dismounting and kneeling next to us.
"Please sir. Don't take my leg." I heard my father grunt in pain.
"Son, you'll keep that leg if I have anything to say about it. Bring my surgeon." the Commander yelled to one of the other soldiers that rode behind us.
"But sir-" "I said bring my dang surgeon!" the Commander yelled again, causing the man to nod and turn his horse back for the camp.
The next two months of recovery were filled with muffled curses, sharpening swords, cleaning guns past the point of shinning until finally my father got the 'okay' from the doctor to be able to walk and ride again. As soon as he was told this my father wasted no time in requesting for us to be sent to fort Jamestown in the prairie. At first I was excited, until we met our guide. I sighed as I waked into the administration building with my father, the soldiers at the door saluting us as we passed.
"Wait here, Arise." father ordered gently as we headed toward two open doors, the large man sitting at the desk behind them eying me hungrily.
"Yes, Sir." I replied stopping outside the door, moving so I wasn't in the man's line of sight and sat down on a bench, waiting. As I waited for my father a large dog trotted over to me, his keen gray eyes watching me curiously as he sat in front of me.
"Hey buddy." I greeted softly, reaching out and rubbing the dog behind the ears. The dog gave a rumbling sound and closed his eyes, leaning into my hand as I continued to scratch him, seeming to love the attention. I smiled softly at the dog and stood up when my father exited the room, looking a bit perplexed as he motioned for me to follow him.
We quickly tied our horses to a man named Mr. Timmons' cart, my father informing me that he was heading to the fort as we climbed onto the wagon seat. The next few days of travel were spent riding and trying to ignore the smell of our traveling companion. I think that if we didn't have the loud and vulgar man with us we probably would have enjoyed the country more than we did. I yawned as I woke up, my back resting against my saddle as my mare, Nightmare, snuffled my shirt, looking for treats. I gently pushed her away and sat up, stretching before looking over to see my father already awake and trying to wake up Timmons. I rolled my eyes as he nudged him with a boot.
"Dad, I think it'll take a good jab to wake that guy up." I grumbled as I handed him a long stick.
"Good thinking." father replied before jabbing the man in the buttocks, waking him up real quick.
"Something just jabbed me in the butt was that you?!" the man yelled accusingly before muttering as he got to his feet.
I tiredly saddled Nightmare, giving her a cookie as she turned her head to watch me silently, blinking her bright blue eyes. I patted her on the cheek gently when I finished, chewing on a piece of jerky as I waited for dad and Timmons to get ready. As we rode the last two miles to the fort I spotted some old bones laying half-hidden in the grass and trotted Nightmare over to them.
"Hey dad, you might want to look at this." I called over my shoulder as I dismounted, examining the bones as he loped over, Timmons stopping the wagon to wait on us.
"Looks like Pawnee." I told him as I pulled an arrow from the skull, examining it quietly.
"Must have been a skirmish between tribes or something." pa replied.
"If you two want to make it to the fort lets get moving!" Timmons called.
"You never said anything about Indians out here, Timmons!" I called back.
"Indians? There ain't no Indians out here! I got more bumps on my-" "I don't want to hear it!" I yelled, clapping my hands on my ears to block Timmons out, glaring at the now laughing man before I swung back up onto Nightmare, the arrow still in my hands as I waited for dad to mount up before we were off again.
We reached the fort an hour or so later and were shocked to find that there wasn't a soul to be found. The only thing that moved in the fort was the tattered American flag, still flying high on the pole.
"Arise, you wait here until we're sure its safe. Timmons. Get down there." dad ordered motioning to the man with a hand.
"What? Ain't nobody there! We should just-" "Go down there!" dad ordered again, causing the man to glare before driving his mules down the hill.
I sighed as I watched the two, pulling my knee across my saddle horn, grumbling to myself about having to wait. After a few minutes I saw my dad finally wave for me to come down. I quickly did so and left the two men to unload the wagon, deciding to look through the small buildings instead.
After staking my claim on one of the small quarters I tethered Nightmare outside and quietly took off her saddle, bridle, and bags before hearing the wagon pulling away. I quietly looked over my shoulder to see Timmons driving up the hill.
"Good riddance." I muttered as dad walked over to me. "I couldn't agree more." he replied with a smile before patting me on the shoulder.
"Get some rest. I know you haven't been getting much sleep the past few nights." he told me gently. I nodded and quietly walked into the quarters, moving things around until I had enough space to tether Nightmare inside the building with me. After settling her down and giving her some hay I grabbed a small wooden bucket and headed out to the pond nearby only to see my dad fly backwards away from the water.
"Dad! What's wrong?" I asked as I quickly ran over only to let out a squeak of fear, going pale when I saw the dead deer laying in the water. Feeling my stomach start to churn I quickly turned away from the scene, gagging.
"Here, go back inside until I get this taken care of okay? I'll call you when its done." he told me gently. I nodded and walked briskly back up the hill and to my quarters, taking a few deep breaths to calm my stomach before sitting down on the cot and pulling out my small sketch book, silently beginning to draw.
The next few days passed by slowly, filled only with the sounds of myself and my father repairing the damage that the elements had caused the other three buildings, talking to Nightmare in the evenings, and trying to get closer to a wolf that seemed to like hanging around the fort.
We decided that if he keeps coming around that we would call him Two-socks because of his two white front legs. I've left food out for him every night and every morning behind my quarters, hoping to put a little weight on the scraggly looking thing. Everything turned into a routine until one day that routine was disturbed in the strangest, and by far, most amusing way. I sighed as I finished up the latest sketch I had been working on of Two-socks, the wolf sitting only a few feet away, watching me silently as he chewed on a bone I had tossed him.