Dixie had so many questions to ask, but as he asked what was going on this man on the rock was keen to avoid direct specifics; as if he was clever enough to show discretion. "This fine folk just came from an encounter with the Redcoats," the man said. "They have been trying to retake the fort at Madrasa up east. Along with the Lobsterback reinforcements, they took out a few regiments. "And from what has been reported, they have even got the two ‘Multipliers’ with them,” he added with a frown.
“Uh huh,” Dixie nodded with a deep squint as he tried to absorb all of this – even though he had no idea what the man was saying. “But where am I??” he asked. “I mean, I got to be honest; I just saw this golden tower in the distance and all I wanted to do was reach it; I had no idea I would stumble into the middle of a bloodbath! What’s it all for?” Pretty soon it seemed obvious even to Dixie that he was not alone in his pondering. He saw more clusters of battered troops pass by fast – many wearing French colonial uniforms and all going to his left. Most of them were muttering in confusion at what must have happened.
Dixie wished he could have been more relieved than alarmed to have stumbled onto these folk – had not so many of the troops coming through the forest had not been sporting massive head wounds or bloodstained bandages wrapped around important areas of their body. For some of the warriors it was as if these bandages were the only things holding everything in place. The man on the rock said nothing, but solemnly watched the procession of individuals walk by. Luckily those who were actually coherent enough to speak and didn’t look like they were ready to pass out from the shock of whatever battle they had just endured: they just kept whispering to each other how bad things were going for them as they walked by.
“I still say it’s for principle we hang on!” a fugitive cried as he stumbled along with another friend. “The Redcoats started this mess."
"At this point, I’d settle for just leaving them alone if we could!" said another. "We need to beg them and tell them we just want our original territories back. If we can’t find a way out of this realm, then maybe at least they would leave us alone and we can all be done with it!”
“Done with what?” called out Dixie; but the poor reprobate had already walked by. “Done with what??” he asked his new acquaintance who remained sitting on the large rock as they both observed the procession of wounded soldiers.
“Well, I realize you are not part of this contingency,” replied the man on the rock. “You obviously do not know what a ‘Multiplier’ is. I will not even ask yet what you are doing here; so this is going to be hard to explain,” he added with a slight pause, as if to think carefully how to elaborate to Dixie the situation in front of them. What he described to Dixie, details and all, was very hard for the young man to process.
“The French and Indian War still going on?” Dixie struggled to state. “But not exac…”
“We need a parley, sir!” one of the refugees passing interrupted with a shout to the man on the rock.
“Yeah!” cried several others begged. “If we can’t find a way to escape this place, we really do need to consider a treaty of surrender.” The stranger said nothing in reply but watched the disgruntled soldiers march on by and disappear further down the woods. More were coming, and nobody looked happy. Dixie just watched; there was nothing else he could do to help them. He would have offered to carry a couple supplies for a few of these men, but he knew he needed some answers first, so he just watched helplessly as more waves of soldiers poured on by. He noticed some of them were women, but they didn’t appear to be faring any better treatment than the other fugitives.
"I still don’t get it,” Dixie had to interrupt some of the soldiers nearby. Apparently, his name was Steve. “You mean that this battle you were part of was…”
“It was more like a massacre, actually,” interjected another fugitive-soldier who had stopped. “You see, we were duped! We’ve been surviving the onslaught of Redcoats up here that keep marauding and slowly dwindling down our numbers!” As Dixie got the rundown on what was really going on, he couldn’t believe his ears.
“Real bullets,” continued the soldier. “Those bastards used real bullets!! They’re sadists too! Despite their large numbers, they didn’t seem intent to siege the fort…”
“Yea, we were relatively safe there,” said another soldier. “The fort was fully equipped and well stored with supplies for many seasons. It’s almost as if whoever organized this sadistic event wanted us to live for a long time and deal with the onslaughts."
"Yeah, for target practice; sick bastards!”
Dixie had not yet (luckily) encountered any of these Redcoats during his travels through Anakaland. After hearing some of these fugitives describe their slaughtering campaigns he was filled with a sense of dread. Everything started to become clearer:
“Then who are they? If they’re not just like you...there’s got to be reas...but then how did you guys get here??
“Some of us survivors think they’re mercenaries from a place called Cercor Town,” said the second soldier without answering Dixie’s question. There seemed to be discrepancy among the soldiers’ opinions, but the second soldier continued, “That they’re from Cercor Town would…would explain alot: they are like a sadistic gang of criminals that like to linger out here in the outer wastes.”
"They're not from Cercor Town!" chimed in another. "I've told you already!" About half a dozen soldiers started bombarding the man on the rock with questions as if he was heading a press conference.
Dixie looked uneasily at the man. He seemed to have satisfied the other soldier’s questions, and then continued to sit there on the large rock, relaxed and taking it all in.
“Be careful of what you wish for!” The man named Steve said to Dixie. “You never know what you’d be faced with if some wishful dream finally caught up with you. It may challenge who you really think you are.”
“Yeah, tell me about it,” said Dixie. But although he wanted to tell these fine people about his own adventure, he had enough sense to refrain: after all, he thought to himself, who in the world was going to believe a story like his?
Excerpt from Book II: Adventures in Anakaland
Copyright 2019 Octavio Rhodes
"Note the excerpts have been slightly edited and abridged for non spoiler content"