Valley Of The Warriors

Valley Of The Warriors

A Chapter by Cherrie Palmer

The day is void of wind or cloud, its heat a vicious attack on the senses. Two vultures circle high above the canyon. The terra cotta vista is nothing more than baked red-clay. A saguaro cactus gives the landscape a splash of color. It is a strange sight to see a lone bobcat perched so tentatively on the saguaro’s crown waiting for a chick to peek out from the safety of its hovel. Meanwhile, two black scorpions battle in the shadows of a rock.
There is no moisture in the air or water in the cantina. Even the old rider is void of sweat as his skin of leather cures beneath the day. The dessert underneath his feet radiates a burning heat felt through the souls of his moccasins. His mind is filled with a gliding haze that is visible upon the ground below and clouds his vision.
Hell dances upon the desert floor, in hopes to drink in the old man’s soul, a moist refreshing morsel. Cloud-Dancer, his old gray Mustang, is spent, but love bids him to take another step. He is decorated for this journey with feathers, and beads worked into his mane.
The two are going to the valley of the warriors. A sacred place where the great chiefs go to give up the ghost. The chief’s head-dress tells many stories. Each feather of flight is a battle won, and each feather of down is a member of his tribe.
  A low rumble is felt; as it grows more pronounced, he can hear this eerie disturbance. He knows it is not a hallucination because his old horse lifts his head to look. The wind holds its silence as a great wall of dust follows this mighty rumbling. Clouds of death leave his mind, as old instincts kick into play. His Henry-Repeater is quickly in hand. In the days of war and wrath, he liberated the repeater from a blue-coat, but today, his only concern is to reach the valley without complication.
 There are no visible signs of life in the desert except a few silent predators that lay-in-wait for a meal, so any and every sound is magnified. The rumbling is like the gates of Hell opening up to greet him, and in truth, maybe it is, for the canyon carries the sound of four hoofs charging furiously.
  With his last bit of energy, he slides off Cloud-Dancer lifts up his front hoof until the horse submits to lay upon the burning earth. The Choctaw Chief, who has seen eighty and one summers fades into the rocks. His heart tells him that death rides to steal him from the valley of the warriors’.
 Just moments before, two vultures were high in the sky riding a thermal, but now the sky holds two dozen or more. A foul smell of sulfur pierces his nostrils, and the rider’s pace hastens. The timeworn Mustang breaks in a panic and runs; the old chief is certain death is rushing upon him.
 He blinks his eyes in hopes of clearing his vision. His hand is steady though his patience is thin. A blue roan crowns the horizon with four black stockings and face; his eyes are pitch dark, his teeth protrude through his heavy breath, and he is the face of hell. The beast is bones in motion, and the rider is a sight to behold. Topped off in a light-brown Stetson that is stained in tones of the grave, a mighty figure sets top of Hades his steed. His shirt is ripped and tattered, just as is his trousers. His appearance is more of bone than flesh. The old chief lays down his rifle, for you cannot battle death with tools forged by man.
 He begins climbing face-of-rock in hopes he can make it to the valley just on the other side. He glances over his shoulder to see a herd of wild horses running alongside Death and Hades. Their steps are silent, but in their mist is a whirling wind. The grey man is halfway up the rock formation when he sees the herd of racing beast catch up to his old Mustang. The wall of dust conceals Cloud-Dancer from view, and when the shadowy mob passes, only his bones remain, and one more horse appears on the horizon running with Death and beating feet to his side.
 He is weak from the day and from many moons of battle. Truth has been made clear as he sits on the crevice of the mesa. He kneels on his perch, and on the stone that frowns, he watches. Knowing he cannot cheat death of victory, he sits and sings his death-song. 
 The day is yielding up the sun; colors of battle bleed across the sky and with it, so he will yield up the ghost and with an endless calling. He will chase the hoofs of Hell from the moon to the setting of the sun.

© 2019 Cherrie Palmer

My Review

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This is a wonderful beginning, Cherrie.

The story and description is fabulous. I have never read any western novels but I am partial to the old films and this beginning does them all justice. The detail and creation of the scenery really draws the reader deeply into the story and i loved how the old chief and his old mustang, still together after all their battles, still journey in hope towards an honourable death while death itself is hot on their heels and impatient as always.

This is a grand idea, well written and one well worth pursuing. An excellent beginning.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 2 Weeks Ago

Cherrie Palmer

2 Weeks Ago

Ive always wanted to make this opening story into a larger piece but I tucked it away and just start.. read more

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1 Review
Added on November 17, 2019
Last Updated on November 23, 2019


Cherrie Palmer
Cherrie Palmer

Oakland, AR

I am a published poet and love poetry. My husband and I live near the White River, and love trout fishing. I find my surroundings a great inspiration to me. I also have two books on Amazon Kindle: O.. more..