“Just as the lion cannot trade in his teeth that tear though flesh, The Hessian could not deny his sword its bloody fill.”
The Hessian wielded his sword with crisp exaction for his Benefactor. The Benefactor was a pocketbook; The Hessian his instrument of unblinking destruction.
The Hessian, whose name had been bled, burned & frozen from him, rode from land to land following orders as surely as steam rose from the nostrils of his War Horse.
The New Land: America: A land of savages, where a man can make money from slaughter more surely than he can from farming.
It was a difficult time to cross the passage, everyone headed to The New Land was looking for a new future, a future that would begin with war; The Revolution was rife with cannon fire against the insatiable Mother England.
The boat ride to the New World was long & The Hessian did not like boats. The wind that blew through his black hair & stung his blue eyes was not the wind of the hunt, clipping along on his steed across the land, mind awash in carnage; The Hessian preferred the gale he created astride his War Horse.
The Hessian kept to himself above deck; he took no pleasure in this voyage. He did not speak about streets paved in gold, just knew he would make them run red with the blood of his Benefactor’s gold. No one spoke to the man who dressed all in black, whose entire air of existence was a dark cloud weighed down by the flapping of his ankle-length, black leather cape. The children would have sworn he was a ghost, so haunted was The Hessian’s appearance, if it wasn’t for the heavy, silver, spiked rings, or the broad sword with the engraved hilt always at his hip: a ghost could never support that amount of heavy metal.
The muddy Harbour was bustling with people. The hazy sun created neither light nor warmth, just the indication that it was daytime. The Hessian sought lodging & dim shadows in which to discuss the business he had ventured to this land for.
The Hessian paid extra for a bath, a room he didn’t have to share & for his War Horse to be properly lodged & tended to. He longed to ride out of this transient cockroach town, but first he had to contract his latest Benefactor to pay him to ride.
The Hessian took dinner in his room then went down to The Ale House to wait. He sat with his leather & shearling hood up, back to the wall & neither smoked or drank, just waited, the fire glinting off the metal he wore.
The man who slid in across from him had the same pig eyes as every murderous purse who had purchased The Hessian’s skills for destruction. These men were never satisfied with any outcome that they didn’t finance, & sought to wield devastation from a sword they couldn’t even lift.
“Kill the Mohawk Indians in The Hollow by the creek” the swinely Benefactor said. “They fight against The Americans in The Revolution. They are traitors to their own land. Take their heads for further reimbursement from the government of The New Land.”
The Hessian knew The Mohawks were noble warriors, but he was a talented, blood- to-the-hilt, strategist. They would never know the deadly Hessian was coming to slaughter them all; no one would ever see his face.
A velvet satchel of money changed hands. Futures were purchased.
The Hessian rode out at sunrise. The filthy town had barely noticed he had been there thought the amount of destruction he contracted would make waves that would drown every infested inhabitant.
The Hessian’s War Horse’s hooves were as black & strong as The Devil’s, his shiny coat the glassy lake water at midnight. The Hessian & his Horse were shadowy destruction rushing across virgin land. The Hessian had one goal: to earn the gold & soak his mind in the adrenaline of warm, spraying blood. The War Horse’s goals were The Hessian’s.
The Hessian stood on high ground & surveyed. The Mohawks lived on land that was a beautiful hollow valley in a mountain range, on a creek, right off a gushing river. A thick, brambly forest surrounded The Mohawk Trading Post on every side. The Hessian would take their lives, their heads & their store of pelts before The Benefactor came to claim the land.
The Hessian watched The Mohawks for days. He learned their habits, when they rose, when they slept, their numbers of warrior men & beautiful, docile women. He never made a fire to cook or comfort himself; he stayed in the shadows & once a day rode his horse upstream across a vast wildflower field for exercise.
He led his horse to water. The horse drank.
They both heard a small rustle coming through the thicket. The Hessian & his War Horse retreated quickly & quietly behind a flowering bush.
A Mohawk woman came toward the river. She was not carrying anything, which was not like a woman from this industrious tribe. The Hessian did not trust the luxury of her natural beauty; she was smooth & naked, copper trinkets hanging from around her neck glowed from the light that reflected off the water’s sunny edge. A heavy mantle of feathers dressed her long black hair, which The Hessian thought looked as silky as his War Horse’s tail when well tended to.
She walked with little, floating steps out onto a flat rock that protruded into the water. She sat with her eyes closed, slight body reposed, & hummed quietly.
The Hessian should have killed this Sitting Duck, as he mentally referred to her. But it was not right; her spirit warmed the rock & reverberated like bouncing sunlight.
She was not a savage; she was an animal spirit with a sweet simplicity. She was a woman unburdened; she was the natural land.
The Hessian had made the mistake of sparing a woman’s life before. He gripped his sword & advanced toward the Sitting Duck.
His War Horse’s placid eyes seemed to urge The Hessian to stop. The Hessian saw this look in his War Horse’s eyes & followed their command. The woman was unearthly & The Hessian trusted his horse’s intuition as it was his own.
The Hessian allowed Sitting Duck to live. He watched her bask in her escape from her duties, while, momentarily, he did too.
Her spirit lived in his mind & every step she took, flowers grew on his barren, burned out soul.
The Hessian began to associate her with the flowers that grew around the creek. It came to him that her name was Mountain Laurel.
Just as the lion cannot trade in his teeth that tear though flesh, The Hessian could not deny his sword its bloody fill.
The night rose heavy & moonless, a black tapestry embroidered with slight gold flecks. The Hessian mounted his War Horse & they rode down the mountain like an avalanche, gaining murderous momentum.
The Hessian & his War Horse rode like thunder, with hell at their helm. They rolled into the little Hollow with the same deadly conquering intent as plague, pestilence & famine.
The iron of his sword shined red in the glow of the watchman’s fire. The Hessian lobbed his head off with one hearty move. His spiked rings crushed another savage’s face with a single backhand.
The Hessian was shadow & metal, blood & fire. He did his job, dripping from the hilt of his sword to the spikes on his spurs in faceless gore.
He tore through the warriors & burned the homes of old women. He ripped the town apart with strong strokes of unblockable rage & uncaring destruction.
The Hessian did not look at the faces on the heads that rolled until the mayhem that fueled his frenzy abated with the silent, steady, calm of death. No one called for help. There were no babies baying, no wails for mercy. Everything around him was dead except for his War Horse & the embers devouring all that remained.
The Hessian collected the heads of the savages; he could get a good price for each of them; the people of the New World wanted their land & their safety. Many of the savages were decapitated during the single sided battle, but others required The Hessian first to lob the head from the neck, crushing the spine to sever. Then, he stabbed through their cheek with his sword & then slid it into his large sac; spurts of blood smudged the dead faces, frozen in the horror & brave tragedy of their last terrified moments.
The long, perfect, black hair on the severed head by the trading post was too familiar, the way the fire’s glow danced off of it. It was her, the beatific Mountain Laurel.
The Hessian dismounted & picked up the woman’s head, her feather headdress, gloppy in matter, fell to a sloppy heap. He held the head between his dangerous hands: her expression was sweet & accepting, as if she did not hate him for being a predator. The Hessian fell to his knees, ashamed of his devotion to his abhorrent nature.
His War Horse drank from the bloody creek as the fire consumed the final bites of The Trading Post. The Hessian loaded native horses with piles of pelts & the heavy bag of human heads.
He hung Mountain Laurel’s sweet head from the side of his bridal, her skull beating a tune against The War Horse’s flanks as they galloped across a land that had only begun to be soaked in blood & tears.
The Hessian did not sell the head of Mountain Laurel. It showed no signs of decay; gore did not stick to her or The War Horse’s shiny black hair.
Mountain Laurel’s head was perfect.
The Hessian stopped to rest under the shade of a thick forest. He did not hear the knobby Native American Man come up behind him; as sharp as The Hessian’s senses were as soft as the savages footsteps.
The Native Man inspected the head, brutally, beautifully braided to The Hessian’s horse’s bridal.
AIAIAIAIAIAI! screamed The Native Man! He stomped his feet & staff!
The Hessian, unaccustomed to being startled, spun & drew; his sword, steady & brave, pointed at The Native Man’s throat unwavering. The Hessian ran his sword into the soft flesh of the old, mostly nude, savage man’s throat.
Blood did not spill down the sword’s grooves. The Native Man’s head did not come detached. The skin sliced, but did not release the spirit within, remaining intact & whole.
The Hessian stepped and pulled back, his sword relaxed & the tip dragged heavily against the rocky ground.
The Native Man’s voice split the air smoothly, with a tone that rumbled like an underground waterway. He spoke a language The Hessian understood though he’d never heard it before.
“You kill for money. You wring the world dry of beauty & love because you only know greed & rage. Know my rage! The head that hangs from your beast, the woman you call Mountain Laurel, was the bodily form of our Creator God. She was the gentle ruler of all spirits that embody all life. & you, blindly, in a waterfall of blood, struck her down.”
The Hessian had never spoken the name Mountain Laurel out loud. He did not know what a Creator God was, though he knew the old man spoke the truth about the formidable spirit of the woman. She had intoxicated The Hessian with its sweet vigor.
Sparks began to fly where The Native Man continually & forcefully pounded his staff. “You have burned your own name & person away. You release souls & collect their heads for your own wealth. As punishment, your own head will be taken, all the memories you pretended to forget in order to perform your deeds removed.
Hear your new name – in a language all who settle this land will understand – Verdamntreiter – the damned rider! Your body a shell, soulless, remorseless, headless.
You will ride your war beast for all eternity collecting heads of men like yourself – greedy, savage. You are The Creator God’s demon now & she will wield you unmercifully as a giant wave.”
The Hessian wasn’t able to lift his sword; The Creator God had already claimed him & the metal of his soul.
The Native Man removed the sword from The Hessian’s hand, the first person to grip its handle besides the forger & the wielder. The Native Man, whose arms were as thin as autumn twigs, swung the sword with speed & strength & sliced through The Hessian’s neck with a sizzle. Black blood oozed around & down the circumference of the wound. A slight breeze graced through the valley & The Hessian’s head fell to the ground with a thump. His exposed wound cauterized & crusted.
The Earth shifted its soil like a tide & Hessian’s head was taken underground, to a place where it would know warmth in its empty mind.
The Headless Hessian’s body moved with grace & speed as it grabbed its sword from The Native Man’s grip. The Native Man relinquished The Hessian, “Hessian, you do The Creator’s bidding. You are the damned rider, but you damn others, not just yourself.”
Though he had no ears, The Hessian heard the words of The Native Man; everything else was silent. The Headless Hessian had no eyes, yet he knew that when he hopped on The War Horse, the horse’s eyes shining red like the sun, that they were headed back to the town by The Harbour.
The Headless Hessian’s sword turned toward other men of relentless greed, men who used money for decimation, charm for greed, position for influence. The Hessian was returning for the head of The Benefactor.
The town was quiet except for The Ale House. The Benefactor was in there, discussing the deal to establish a new trading post, in his name, over The Mohawk land. The Headless Hessian could hear The Benefactor’s black heart beating like grating scabs.
The Benefactor left The Ale House with a lovely Lady of the Night. Her heartbeat was a change purse filled with copper.
The Hessian followed them as they headed to The Benefactor’s home on the outskirts, just across the covered bridge.
The Hessian & The War Horse, of one damning soul, thundered at The Benefactor & The Lady of the Night. She screamed & ran when she saw The Headless Hessian. The Benefactor’s pig face froze in fear, his fat legs trembled in his boots. The Headless Hessian, mounted tall on The Horse, reared up & stuck absolute terror into The Benefactor; The Hessian’s curse the result of this man’s bidding.
The Headless Hessian cut The Benefactor’s head off & he fell to the ground like a tub of warm lard. The Headless Hessian stabbed through the fat head with his sword & galloped off, on the hunt for the swindling whore.
The Lady of the Night’s skirts swirled as she raced, her legs cut by underbrush, rocks tripping her; all of natural Earth bent on slowing her down. She reached the covered bridge, The Headless Hessian on her heels, The Benefactor’s head still impaled on the sword that scraped at the base of her neck.
The Lady stepped foot on the covered bridge. When the galloping of The Headless Hessian did not follow she looked back in terror; he was reared up on The Horse’s hind legs, steam pouring from The Horse’s nostrils like an angry dragon, the demon pair unable to set foot on the man made mechanism of the bridge. The Headless Hessian slid The Benefactor’s head from the sword, brains lubricating, & hurled it at The Lady with the speed of a cannon, hitting her pretty face with the fat head & crushed her skull flat in.
The Hessian rode his horse into the water under the bridge, busted through the planks & collected both heads.
The Headless Hessian returned to the place where his own head was buried & laid the two offerings in the spot. The Earth took the heads & allowed The Hessian to rest himself on the same spot. Soft dirt covered his headless body until the following evening, when he set out again at the will of his new benefactor: The Creator’s demon.
The Hollow sunk deeper into the shadow of the mountain that grew daily, throbbing with the heads claimed by The Headless Hessian.