Anger warmed his heart.
My father, while never violent to me, was not a gentle man. He had seen and done too much, and the death of his parents had hardened his heart. Never did I fault him for this. How could I? He is my father.
Still, I know him for what he is – a killer, and I am the same.
Much like he made me.
My father, though, is quicker to give his anger free rein.
‘I heard the familiar slap of harness against horseflesh and the jingle of brass,’ my father wrote. ‘Mingled in with these comforting sounds was the holler and cursing of men. The wind shifted, carried with it the smell of sweat and sawdust.
‘I followed a wide trail and soon came upon a rough camp where a group of men were working their horses. Together, men and beasts strove to clear lumber, and I was about to move on my way when one of the men saw me.
‘He called out in a tongue I did not know, and when I shook my head, he and the others laughed. The horses dropped their heads, flanks wet with sweat, thankful for the break in their work. The men, in turn, spread out and approached me, calling out to me and to one another, always laughing at my inability to respond. One of the men paused long enough to lift up a double-headed ax, and I smiled.
‘The men took no heed of my expression, though they should have.
‘I did not waste powder and ball on these fools. Instead, I picked up a small length of oak that had a sharp end. It would be more than enough.
‘The men laughed even harder at the sight of my chosen weapon and continued their approach.
‘They were fools.
‘The first one was gasping out his last before the others knew what was happening, and I felt the old joy again. The thrill of battle. Old war cries erupted from my throat, and soon I was awash their blood, tasting it in my mouth.
‘I killed the last of them as he tried to run, tearing his head from his neck and hurling it into the forest.
‘I freed the horses from their traces and enjoyed the beauty of the morning.’