The pilgrim proceeded cautiously down into the inky darkness. His footsteps made haunting echoes that never seemed to stop.
He fell into his usual steady walking pace that he could keep up for hours. His consciousness turned towards dark and bloody memories.
Flames roared and dances, turning his home to ash. The starry night sky stretched from horizon to horizon. The gunslinger faced the seven masked men, shielding Mariah and the newborn. His firstborn, still a child, stood next to him with the rifle his father had bought him last year. He had looked happy, then. Eyes wide in awe at the symbol of faith entrusted to him. Now he clutched the thing in shaking hands, face streaked with soot and tears.
The gunslinger - not yet a pilgrim - stood tall and strong. His big hand rested on the wooden hilt of his gun. His first instinct was to tell his family to run. Tell them to head for Fort Rockdale. But he knew it would do no good. Mariah was too stubborn to leave him, and he would need Josiah's rifle if they were to stand any chance of surviving.
One of the masked men had said something. He couldn't remember what. He only remembered that none of them had drawn their guns yet.