He was quick and true.
It seems that the soldiers who arrived here at the end of August are more than capable. They know their craft, and they practice it well, much to my disappointment.
Oh, I’ve no issue with fighting a man who knows how to fight. Or even a group of them. I do take issue with anyone who hunts in my town. And that is exactly what they’re doing.
They’ve set up camp in the Hollow, of that I’m certain. I’ve tracked them several times to outlying fields and houses, but the Cross Militia has gone out and brought the outlying families in. All except the Coffins’, that is, and the Russians would do well to avoid that family. The Coffins settled here with my father in the late 1620s, and they’ve a definite knack for killing when the spirit moves them.
I was close to Coffin Farm when I heard pleasant whistling. It was a tune I didn’t know, and when I walked round the bend, I found the musician standing off to one side. He was dressed in a uniform and smiling as he watched a pair of blue jays fighting one another in the road. In his hand, he held a trumpet that looked as though it had seen its fair share of war.
The jays took flight when I appeared, and the musician’s demeanor shifted as he noticed me. His smile faded away, replaced by a broad grin. He was unarmed, from what I could see, but I wasn’t looking properly.
This man didn’t need a weapon.
Not in the sense one might think.
It took me but a moment to realize my ascertainment of the situation was off, and by then, well, it was too late.
The horn was already up to his lips by the time my Colts cleared leather, and before the hammers rose, the musician was calling out to his comrades.
The .44 caliber slugs tore into him. One round took the horn out of his hands, the other ripped out his throat.
But the horn had been sounded, and its note rang clear and proud through Cross.
I walked over to the instrument, nodded to the dying man, and slung the bent horn over my shoulder. In the distance, I heard the thunder of hooves, and I knew the cavalry was coming.
It was too late for the musician.
Smiling, I reloaded the Colts, and I waited.