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The Hedge-Bird at Bay



The Hedge-Bird at Bay

This was submitted to the Short Challenge #21, hosted by The-Imaginarium.

This was also my initial submission for the Devil in the Details Contesthosted by ArcaneVault; but, Return to Eden was submitted instead. Since, it better meets the challenge to tell the story through details in the picture, while here it might not be obvious, without reading the text, that the bore on Nain's pistol is probably too large a caliber to have shot the wounded man, at that range.

It seems likely that the the unconscious man was wounded by a rifled Manton  dueling pistol, or Baker rifle, outside the frame. (The Captain may have been with the 95th Rifle Brigade, in the Peninsula War, as he had bragged, after all.)

Thanks to all stock providers.


The Lady Linnet, “The Hedge-Bird”, was seen before in Hedge-Bird, Full Cover.1... and again with her maid Nain, in Hedge-Bird, Under Cover.

The Hedge-Bird, Lady Linnet, Nain, other characters and scenarios are my original work.

All Rights Reserved. [But, you already knew that.]

Can’t wait to see what happens next… (Back to the keyboard!)



Stock Resources:

Lady Linnet
, The Hedge-Bird: Stand My Ground 001, Stand My Ground 004, Stand My Ground 011, Stand My Ground 027by Elandria. And, Bells Falls27, by faestock

NainCaptain Everette Weapons 8, by PirateLotus-Stock

The Wounded Man: 01.06.12 206, by Awdi-stock

Belladonna, Lady Linnet’s Horse: Tack Stock 9, by GloomWriter

Bryony, Nain’s Horse: Tack Stock 1, by GloomWriter

Raven: Raven, by asaph70 and STOCK Common Raven Flying (with Alpha Layer), by netzephyr

Wounds: Fake Wound –stock,-by stonecoldstupid, Wound 01, by BmAStock, and

Wound Stock, by AlysAlone

Background (Bridlepath): Fairytale Background Stock,by Mocris and These Wild Woods 6 UNRESTRICTED,by Elandria

Background (Mansion House and Wall): Castle 27, by KarinClaessonArt

Hedge-Bird, Owl Mask: Mask II, by Punkystock

Moon (Behind the turrets): Moon, by TinaLouiseUk


The Hedge-Bird at Bay-

The Lady Linnet and Nain cantered their horses down the bridle path behind the manor house. It had been a good nights work for Linnet, the infamous “Hedge-Bird” and her maid, Nain, who the broadsides had christened, her "Fledgling”.

Linnet gently pulled back on the reins, and slowed her black beauty, Belladonna, to a walk. “Ahead, leeward,” she whispered, as Nain reigned in her bay mare, Bryony, to a walk beside her “In the shadows, under the hedge row,” pointing with a surreptitious nod, Linnet whispered.

Nain followed, with her eyes, “Aye. It seems, they have the weather gage, on us, Miss. Looks like a blockade.”

“I’ll gybe. You tack; and, we’ll come about,” Linnet said softly, jockeying her horse, to turn around. “Get ready to gallop back down the lane, and make a run for it."

“Aye, Miss,” Nain, said, bringing her mare about.

Then, four large shadows stepped out into the lane, closing in behind them. “Evening, ladies, you’re out late for a ride,” a man’s gruff voice growled.

“Brass monkeys,” Nain hissed, seeing the glint of brass from the moonlight off the pistol barrels pointing at them.

“Captain?” Linnet thought she recognized the voice.

“Disembark, ladies,” the voice ordered, adding gracefully, “S'il vous plait.”

“Miss?” Nain shot a glance at her Mistress, waiting for a signal. “Shall we run the gauntlet?”

Linnet shook her head, “Not this time, dearest,” she said. “They were waiting for us.”

“Aye, looks like they’ve got us out foxed, this time, my Lady,” Nain agreed.

“Tell your men to stand down,” Linnet called out loudly; so, everyone could hear her, dismounting from her horse. “You’ve got us.” She signalled to Nain, who followed her lead, climbing down from her saddle, keeping their horses between them.

“That’s right, Sister, dear. Your wings are clipped my little, ‘Hedge-Bird’ and your ‘Fledgling’,” another voice slurred, stepping out of the shadows.

“I know what you are, dear Sister, you and your little friend,” her brother’s speech was garbled. He had obviously been keeping himself warm, while waiting, with some deep draughts of brandy, from the large, silver flask, he always carried with him. He was wrestling to get the cap screwed back on, while trying to balance both of his dueling pistols, without much success.

“Blast it," he cursed. 'And, you, both of you, bringing disgrace on the family honour,” he barked, staggering forward.

“The family honour?” Linnet stammered, in shock and disbelief. "How can you even bring yourself to say the word, after all you've done, little brother?"

"Oh, I know what you are, both of you," Edmund spat.

“Much you know or care, you drunken sod, about anything,” Nain shot back.

“I know enough, damn you, both of you,” he cursed. “I’m not talking to you, you, damn doxy,” Edmund sneered, carelessly waving his dueling pistol at her.

That’s when it happened. Nain didn’t know if he tripped; but, Edmund was always bragging about the hair trigger he had had rigged on his dueling pistols.

Edmund's clumsy fingers fumbled with the flask casp, dropping it. Then, his gun roared, bucking out of his hand, sending a shower of sparks, and smoke, into the night, when the flint hit the frizzen, frightening their horses. So, they took off down the lane. “Blast,” he muttered, dropping the pistols, shaking his scorched hand. 

Linnet gasped, crying out in pain, unable to draw her sword, or aim the small, pepperbox pistol, hidden in the hilt of the scabbard, next to the frog stud. She cried out, collapsing to the ground.

Nain saw the small round hole forming in her lady’s chest, and the blood oozing through her fingers, as Linnet’s hand reflexively went to the wound.

Without thinking or aiming, Nain screamed, firing both her pistols, “No! Damn you!”

Her guns were only loaded with loose buckshot, meant to frighten the horses, if they ever ran into someone, who greeted their invitation to, "Stand and deliver!", with a Brown Bess or their own barking irons.

Tossing the guns aside, Nain dove down, and unceremoniously threw her mistress flush to the ground, shoving her under the hedgerow, with her arms around her to protect her, while the air all around them was filled with the roar of pistols and shot.

Nain could swear she heard lead balls whistling over their heads, and another cry of pain. Before she went deaf from the report from the other pistols. It sounded like a broadside, as if there was a cannonade, hiding in the hedge rows lining the bridle lane, firing all around them.  

“Linn, I’m here,” she said, putting her mouth to her Lady's ear, so she could hear her.

Their ears ringing, and eyes stinging, from all the gunpowder, fired all around them; for the moment they were temporarily deaf and blind. 

When the smoke finally started to clear, they both gasped, at what they saw in the grey moonlight, when they dared to look up, and could see again.

(To Be Continued…)

[Can hardly wait to see what happens. Back to the keyboard!]



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BmAStock's avatar
Looks awesome!