Tag: dragon

Agents of the Vault – Part 12

Part 12 of Agents of the Vault.  Charlie and Doris take the late night watch as Grisom and Leland sleep.

If you want to subscribe to the Grantcast, you can do so with iTunes, or by using this feed in your favorite podcatcher.  Enjoy!  And let me know what you think of the story in the comments here, as we go along.

Also, if you prefer a PDF version of this part to read, CLICK HERE for that.

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Agents of the Vault
Part 12
By Grant Baciocco

Doris got up with Charlie at 2AM when Grisom rousted him to keep watch.  Charlie took his bedroll with him to sit on atop the small bluff. The prairie spread out before them as they settled in.  The full moon illuminated everything, eschewing the need for any form of lantern.  In the distance, Charlie could clearly see a small herd of buffalo bedded down for the night.  This was an ideal place to sit and look out for Jane and her men should they be closing in.  The thought of them doing so at night seemed unlikely, but from what Grisom had told Charlie about Jane, nothing was impossible.

As Charlie looked over the peaceful landscape, Doris serpentined between his legs and he scuffled her behind the ears when her head passed his hands.  She whistled contently.  She yawned and began to walk and stretch out her back and legs as he scratched her.  Suddenly she gave a big shake, like a dog, and looked up at Charlie with a smile.

“You’re so good.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to let those guys in Yankton do anything with you.  They can meet you, but I’ll protect you with everything I got.” Charlie said to her.  Doris smiled wider and then sneezed loudly.  Charlie chuckled.  “Hey, you wanna go run around a bit?”

Doris nodded enthusiastically and let out a whistle.

“Okay.  Go ahead, but don’t wake those buffalo.  We don’t need you sending them stampeding this way.” Charlie ordered.

Doris nodded and then sped off onto the prairie.  Charlie watched her as she went.  He loved it when she could be this free.  Something she really hadn’t been able to do since they had left the family farm.  He hated keeping her cooped up in the saddle bag, but she couldn’t get too far out in the public’s view.  They wouldn’t know how to handle her.  He was sure he would lose her forever if that happened.

When Doris reached the bottom of the bluff, she dug into the earth.  Though blocked from his view, he could still see her path as she shifted the dirt above where she dug, much like a gopher would.  She’d surface now and then, blowing a small ball of fire above her as she did.  Charlie smiled again, dreaming of a day when he’d have enough land where he could let Doris run free all she wanted.  For now though, he’d just relish these moments where she could be free.  Be herself.

Charlie scanned the horizon in all directions.  Nothing but clear flat land with a rolling hill now and then.  No other lights outside of the moon and an occasional flame from Doris.  No signs of civilization at all.  Just that small herd of buffalo, Charlie and his prairie fire.  All was peaceful.  All was quiet.

Charlie turned back to look at Doris and he followed the trail of kicked up dirt from where he last saw her.  For a second he thought he’d lost her but then he caught sight of her again.  She was above ground now, creeping slowly towards the buffalo.  Charlie, let out a quiet growl of frustration.

“Damn it.” He said to himself. “I told her not to go near those bufallo.”

Charlie got up and started running towards her.  Whistling as he went.  Doris was inching slowly towards the sleeping herd.  Charlie let out another whistle, but was unsure it could be heard at this distance.  Doris was now just about 10 yards from the closest animal.  Charlie tried to whistle again.  Doris either didn’t hear or ignored him.

“She is going to get it.” Charlie muttered to himself as he continued his pace towards her.  Doris was now only two yards from the sleeping animal.  Suddenly she froze.  Charlie saw her freeze and he did so as well.  He saw her eyes turn red.  Charlie then began to run towards her.  Something was wrong.

Suddenly the buffalo nearest Doris got to its feet.  The ones near it did as well.  Suddenly they were all standing.  Charlie feared a stampede but then froze in his tracks when he saw the lead buffalo suddenly stand fully upright on two legs and completely shed it’s skin.  The others in the heard did the same.  The realization his Charlie like a blacksmith’s hammer.


Charlie whipped out his pistol and fired a shot in the air.  The Indians  froze and looked his way.  Charlie began yelling.

“Grisom!  Indians!” he bellowed as he raced as fast as he could.

Charlie saw the indian closest to Doris take another step towards her.  He fired another shot in the air.  “Doris!  Come!”

Doris turned to sprint back towards Charlie and the lead indian threw out a net and Doris was instantly tangled in it.  It was at that moment the arrows started raining down on Charlie.

War whoops went up from the indians as they fired volley after volley in Charlie’s direction.  Charlie stopped and dropped flat to the prairie floor.  Arrows hit the ground all around him.  One of the last of the volley hitting him straight in the left calf.  Charlie bit his lip not to scream out.

Somewhere behind Charlie he heard a shotgun blast ring out.  Grisom was awake now.  In pain, Charlie pulled himself up to his knees, still trying to keep low as low as he possibly could.  In front of him he say the indians spiriting away in the night.  He could hear Doris crying out loudly in the indian’s keep.  Each cry accompanied by a blue ball of fire.

Footsteps thundered up behind him.  It was Grisom, breathing hard.  The older man watch the indians disappear across the plain and then looked at the arrow sticking out of Charlie’s leg.

“Kid, lie back down, I need to get that arrow out of your leg.” He ordered, pushing Charlie to the ground.

Charlie spun and grabbed Grisom’s shoulders, “They got her.  The indians, they got Doris.”

Grisom looked up after the indians.  They were no longer visible on the horizon.  He sighed.  “Okay kid.  We can’t go after them now it’s too dark.”

“But they took her.”

“I know kid, I know but if we go after them now we’ll just walk right into an ambush.  Let’s get you patched up and we’ll track them in the morning.”


“Charlie, we’ll get her back.  Their camp can’t be too far from here, they were on foot, not horses.  I promise you we’ll track them down in the morning.”

“What will they do to her?”

“My guess is nothing.  The Indians saw them as sacred creatures.  I don’t think they’ll harm her any.  Now let’s get you back.  I got a medic kit in my bag back at the cart.”

Charlie, reluctantly got to his feet with Grisom’s help and they limped back to where their camp was.  Leland was sitting up, his hands bound to his feet.

“What was all the commotion?  And can you untie me now?” Leland asked.

Grisom helped Charlie lie down on a bedroll.  “Indians.  They took Doris.”

“Good riddance.” Leland scoffed.

Charlie shot him a look through his pain.

Grisom, began splitting Charlie’s pants at the leg with his knife.  “You should be thankful to her Leland.  Her kidnapping has extended your arrival to the Yanktown prison by a day or so.”

“How’s that?” Leland asked, fearing the answer.

“Because we’re going after her.”

“No.  No.  No!” Leland fired back.  “You want to turn me in for stealing gold, that’s fine, but you can’t make me accompany you while you go take on a horde of injuns.  That’s suicide.”

Grisom ignored Leland and busied himself with cutting off the wooden stick of the arrow.  He cut the wood close to where it met the arrowhead.  Then carefully he began to slice the twine holding the arrow head to the remaining part of the shaft.  Charlie winced as this caused the tip to move around in his leg a little.

“Sorry kid, but keep holding as still as possible.” Grisom said, wiping away blood with his handkerchief.  “Good news is it looks like a smaller arrowhead.  Still gonna hurt to get it out though.” Grisom said.  “I have to open the wound a little bit more in order to get the head out.  It’s gonna hurt.”

“Do it,” Charlie ordered through grit teeth.

“I’ll make it quick.” Grisom replied.  He leaned down to the leg, wiping more blood away.  He then straddled, Charlie’s leg to prevent him from kicking.  “Hold still.”

“Just do it.” Charlie said again.  Louder.

With a quick motion, Grisom sliced the wound wider on the left side.  Charlie yelled out in pain.

“Hang on kid.” Grisom said.  Using his knife blade and his finger, he let the tip of each enter the wound and clasp onto either side of the arrow head.  The head was free in seconds.  Grisom threw it on the ground and slammed his handkerchief down on the wound.

“It’s out.”

Charlie was out of breath, but if seemed the worst of the pain was over.  Grisom moved back to the side of Charlie.  He grabbed his hand and pulled.  “Get to your knees.  Hold this handkerchief tight on your leg.”

Charlie winced, but followed his orders.  Grisom stood and went to the retrieve the medical kit from the cart.  He was back in a flash and had Charlie lie back down.  He doused the wound with whiskey to clean it out.  Charlie howled in pain again.  Grisom moved the bottle towards Charlie’s shoulder and tapped him with it.  “You want some to numb the pain a bit?  I’m going to have to sew you up.”

Charlie waived the bottle away.  He was going to take the pain.  The pain was his punishment for not watching over Doris more carefully.

Leland piped up again, “You a doctor Grisom?”

“No.” Grisom replied curtly, “But I travelled with a medical regiment in the war.”  He was threading the needle as he spoke.

“What side you on in the war?” Leland asked.  “Let me guess, the North.”

“No.” Grisom replied.

“Oh a southern boy.” Leland replied with a smile from his hogtied position.  “I guess we have more in common that I originally thought.”

“Didn’t fight for the south.” Grisom replied as he leaned in close to begin stitching Charlie up.

Leland was confused, “Well, unless I was mistake, there was only two sides.”

“There were.  Well two sides that the public knew about.  There was a third side.  A side dedicated to making sure historical artifacts were not harmed in the war.  That our history was preserved.  We don’t work for any side except for the preservation of history.  My fellow soldiers and I fought on both sides with the mission of making sure historical artifacts were safe.”

Charlie was listening to Grisom as he spoke.  Realizing that he would soon officially be one of these fellow soldiers that Grisom was talking about.  One of the Agents of the Vault.

Charlie began to become numb to the pain in his leg.  He felt the pulling of the thread through his skin as Grisom patched him up, but it was in the corner of his mind.    He felt a sense of pride that he was now part of something bigger than himself.  A movement.  He had a cause, not just to have adventures or be a gunslinger, but to protect a vital historical artifacts that made this country what it is today.  He wouldn’t be a hero to anyone.  No one would know about his work, there wouldn’t be dime novels written about him or plays written to glorify his legacy.  His legacy would be in the number of sacred historical artifacts he returned to the Vault.  Kept safe, out of the hands of those who’d use them to fuel their own greed and corrupt the very principals this country was founded on.

Charlie thought about all this and before he realized it, Grisom was snipping off the extra thread with his knife.  “Okay kid, you’re good.  The wound turned out to be pretty small, but you’d better keep off that leg for a little bit.  And we’ll need to flush it with whisky now and then until we can get a doc to take a closer look.  Don’t want it getting infected.”

Charlie looked back at Grisom.  “Thank you.”

“Don’t mention it.” Grisom replied putting the needle and thread back into the medical kit.

Leland stirred from over on his bedroll.  “Now that you’re done playing nurse maid to the kid here, you mind untying me?”

Grisom got up and crossed back to the wagon, ignoring Leland.  Charlie looked over at him.

“Leland, you just have no manners at all do you.  You just have to say the absolute worst thing you can say to get the absolute opposite of what you want.”  Charlie said and he rested his head back down on his hands.  The stinging in his leg, throbbing slightly.  Turning from Leland, Charlie looked over at Grisom.  “When are we going after those indians?”

Grisom crossed back towards where the bedrolls were.  “First light.  We’ll ride out to where they took Doris and track them from there.”

“What are we gonna do when we find them?” Leland asked.  “Ride into camp and start shooting?  I figure that’s the quickest way to get ourselves killed, since that seems to be your goal.”

“Well ride into camp and talk to them.” Grisom replied calmly.

“Talk to them?” Leland sputtered.  “To injuns?!  Have you lost your mind?  You can talk to those savages!”

“That’s what you think but that’s because you’re narrow minded Leland.  The indians are actually decent folks if you get the time to make friends.”

Leland laughed loudly.  “Friends.  Grisom, you have been riding too long.  The indinas are nothing but brutal, bloodthirsty, savages.  They just took your buddy’s little pet here.  I bet they have it skinned and roasted over a fire by now.  Enjoying the tender meat of her tiny little body.”

Charlie sat up quickly, pulling at his fresh stitches, he grabbed his leg as the pain shot through it.  “You shut up Leland, shut up or I’m going to put a bullet into you right now and solve all your problems.”

Leland smiled, knowing he’d gotten to Charlie.  “I wish you would kid.  Be a quicker way out than what those indians would do to us.”  Leland paused.  “You know what they do to whites there in those indian camps?  You ever hear the tales of what they do, kid?

“Shut up Leland.” Grisom barked.

“No.  I think the kid has a right to know what he’s riding in to tomorrow.” Leland continued.  Charlie could see Leland’s eyes shining under the moon.  “Indians don’t just kill captives.  No.  They like to torture them.  They tie you to a stake in the sun, right in the center of their village.  All of them gather around to watch, and most of them get a chance to join in the fun.  During the day you’re just left out in the sun.  No food, no water, just the blazing sun on your bare skin.  Then, just as night comes and you’re grateful for the relief of night, the torture begins. They start with the coals.  They burn ya with coals.  They don’t throw you into a pit of coals, no, they take one coal out and touch it to a part of your skin.  Burning your flesh, while you’re still awake to enjoy it.  That’s only sometimes though.  Sometimes, instead of burning you slowly, one coal at a time, they’ll cut you with knives.  Again, real slow, just thousands of tiny cuts all over your body.  And they let everyone have a go, the women, the children, they all get a chance to cut you up.  Your fingernails ripped out, one by one.  Your fingers are broken, one by one.  And then you know what they do kid?  They feed you.  Water and bread, give you just enough to keep you alive for another day.  You see, kid, that’s what they want.  They want this to last for days.  Day, upon day of torture until you are pleading for death because you’re so mad with pain.  But then they stop, let you rest up a bit and when you’re just on the mend, they start it all again.  You willing to see your pal Grisom here go through that, kid?  You know he’s older than you, they’ll make you watch what they do to him.  You will watch him die.  You willing to go through all this just for your fuzzy little friend kid?”

Charlie looked Leland right in the eye.  Without hesitation he said, simply, “Yes.”

©2015 Grant Baciocco/Saturday Morning Media

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Agents of the Vault – Part 6

Part 6 of Agents of the Vault.  Charlie & Grisom ride after the men that stole the trunk.

If you want to subscribe to the Grantcast, you can do so with iTunes, or by using this feed in your favorite podcatcher.  Enjoy!  And let me know what you think of the story in the comments here, as we go along.

Also, if you prefer a PDF version of this part to read, CLICK HERE for that.

Finally, if you’d like to support my projects, visit www.patreon.com/saturdaymorningmedia

Agents of the Vault
Part 6
By Grant Baciocco

It took Grisom and Charlie a bit of time to find out exactly which way Leland and his men had gone as the spooked horse pulling the cart had run wildly for about half a mile.  They were finally able to find where the bandits had regrouped and moved on.  About an hour into the ride Doris began fidgeting in the saddle bag.  Charlie clicked his tongue three times and Doris sprung out and climbed up onto his shoulder.  She looked at him sheepishly in the lantern light.

“You’re fine.” Charlie said to her with a grin.  “You were just trying to make sure he didn’t get away.  You’re not in trouble.”

Doris let out a whistle of relief and scampered to Charlie’s other shoulder.  Charlie looked sideways at her, “Let us know if we’re getting close to anyone.”  Doris gave a little salute and nodded.  She then lifted her nose into the air and began sniffing.

Doris was what the indians called a ‘prairie fire.’  A breed of fur covered dragon that was native to North America.  Even in their most bountiful times, hundreds of years ago, they were very rare.  Most indians only spoke of them in legends.  The prairie fire feared any sort of contact with humans and, with their amazing digging ability, would dive underground at the first sight of one.

Indians passed down stories of those days when ancestors said that at night balls of fire would rise in the dark on the prairie, especially during the summer months.  This was the prime mating season for the creatures.  No one ever witnessed this event, however.  How Doris came to be with Charlie was a tale so mixed in legend, no one could be sure what was true or not.

The story goes that about sixty years ago there’d been a terrible drought on the prairie.  Herds of buffalo were wiped out, colonies of prairie dogs were decimated.  Every living creature was starved for water.  A rider named Thurman Rawlings had been crossing a particularly dry patch of the prairie when he came across a huge hole dug deep into the ground.  As he rode up to it, a patch of dirt in the center began to move and a skinny, weakened ‘prairie fire’ crawled out of the hole towards him.  Thurman was frightened, until he realized this creature, whatever it was, trying to communicate with him.  He cautiously got off his horse and knelt in the dirt and the creature limped it’s way towards him.

Seeing the that creature was obviously dying of thirst, he began to unscrew his canteen.  He held it out and the creature hesitated.  Thurman drank a little from the canteen to show that it was okay, and held it back out to the prairie fire.  The creature shook it’s head and pushed the canteen aside with it’s weakened paw.  Thurman then watched as the creature reached into a pouch, much like a kangaroo has, and produced a tiny, gray egg.  Looking down at the egg, the mother tenderly stroked it and then, looking up at Thurman, held it out to him with outstretched paws.

Thurman gingerly reached forward and the mother gently placed the egg in his hands.  She stroked it one more time and looked up at Thurman.  Thurman nodded.  The creature nodded in return and took a few steps back.  Thurman brought the egg close and looked at it, then looked back at the mother.  She had collapsed on the prairie floor.  Dead.  Thurman went to reach out to her and her body slowly turned to ash before his eyes, and blew away in the wind.  Thurman looked down at the egg in his hand and gingerly placed it into the saddle bag over his shoulder.  The same saddle bag that Charlie now carried with him.  Thurman was Charlie’s great-grandfather.

Thurman had taken the egg with him and cared for it best he could, but kept it a sworn secret, only letting his wife know about it.  They’d hatched the small creature, naming it Doris after Thurman’s mother and tried to raise it.  Several times after the drought, Thurman returned to the spot in the prairie where he’d first received the egg, with the hopes of returning Doris to the wild.  He’d never found another sign of the creatures anywhere and even in talking to the local indians, they believed the ‘prairie fire’ was merely a legend.  So Doris became the family secret.  The family’s secret pet.

Charlie had known Doris for as long as he’d been alive.  They’d become inseparable as soon as Charlie could walk.  They had a bond that transcended other human animal bonds.  Almost as if they could communicate without a word.

As Charlie and Grisom continued into the night, Charlie tilted his head to the side, bumping into Doris’ who chirped softly and pressed her head back against his.

Grisom and Charlie had followed the trail through the early morning hours.  The lantern gave out about an half hour before the sun began to rise, but the trail had been easy to follow as the bandits had followed a river for several miles.

Not too long after, the river flowed into a deep valley.  Grisom stopped near the entrance and waited for Charlie and Doris to ride up.

“My guess is they are holed up in there.” Grisom said, indicating the valley.  Charlie looked ahead, but couldn’t see anything except lush green trees on either side of the river.  Grisom continued, “Perfect place to hide out, they can watch either end of the valley and see anyone entering it from either side.”

Charlie nodded.  “What do we do?”

Grisom looked around.  “Let’s leave the horses tied up here and climb up the side there to see if we can look down into the valley and spot them.  Plan out a way to get down.  Seems the safest way.”

Charlie nodded again.  He clicked his tongue three times and looked at Doris.  Doris gave Charlie a sad look and let out a whine.  Charlie clicked his tongue again three times, but this time a little more forcefully.  Doris sighed and slipped across Charlie’s shoulders and slide down his arm and, reluctantly, crawled into the saddle bag.

Grisom watched her slide into the bag and then looked up at Charlie.  “Keep her under control this time.  We don’t need any outbursts like before.”

Charlie nodded.

“Though.” Grisom said, scratching his chin.  “It’s possible that we may need her services if things get hairy.  Let’s get a move on before those bandits get too curious about that trunk.”

©2015 Grant Baciocco/Saturday Morning Media

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