Shadow Rider: Blood Sky at Morning

Shadow Rider: Blood Sky at Morning

by Jory Sherman

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Shadow Rider: Blood Sky at Morning by Jory Sherman

Those who inhabit the harsh, beautiful, blood-red land between Tucson and Fort Bowie have never seen the like of the Shadow Rider—who appears out of nowhere and vanishes just as suddenly in the desert heat. Now death and lies surround him again. The Apache are under siege for murders they didn't commit—and Cody's riding hell-for-leather into a war where nothing's what it seems. But his mission is to get to the truth . . . and to kill the cause of the bloody chaos—even if it means laying down his own life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060885281
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/27/2007
Series: Shadow Rider
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 388,416
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Jory Sherman is the Spur Award-winning author of the westerns Song of the Cheyenne, The Medicine Horn, and Grass Kingdom, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Letters.

Read an Excerpt

Shadow Rider: Blood Sky at Morning

Chapter One

Zak Cody cut sign that morning just after he passed Dos Cabezas. The tracks were both disturbing and puzzling. There was blood, too, mixed in with the dirt and the rocks. At least six men, he figured, on unshod ponies, had lain in wait for the stagecoach. There were drag marks, and these led him to a gruesome discovery.

The bodies of two men lay spread-eagled on their backs near a clump of mesquite and cholla. Their throats were cut, gaping like hideous grins. Bluebottles and blowflies crawled over the wounds and clustered on their eyes. The men were hatless and scalped. They wore army uniforms and they had been stripped of their sidearms.

Zak stepped off his horse to examine the dead men more closely. One of them, a young lieutenant with blond fuzz still on his face, had blood on his shirt, a few inches under his armpit. He pulled the shirttail out and saw the wound. It appeared the young man had been stabbed there. The other man wore a sergeant's chevrons on his shirt. He had a dragoon moustache and there were small scars on his face that had long since healed. A fighter, from the looks of him. His nose had been broken at least once in his lifetime, which Zak judged to have been about forty years.

Moccasin tracks all around the bodies. Hard to tell thetribe. Chiricahua maybe. This was their country. The hair on both men's heads appeared to have been pulled back to take their scalps, slit their throats. A few strands around the dollar-size patch where the scalps had been lifted were sticking straight up.

At least one of the men had voided when he died. The young lieutenant, he decided, when he bent over to sniff. He smelled like a latrine. The urine smell stung his nostrils, so they hadn't been dead long. An hour, maybe less. He set about deciphering the tracks, walking around the wagon's marks where it had stopped. Wagon or stagecoach, he couldn't tell for sure which just then. Six separate sets of horse tracks. Four horses, shod, pulling the wagon or coach. A depression where one body had fallen, close to the side. The driver, probably. On the other side, more marks, indicating a struggle, then another depression a few feet away from the wagon tracks.

Then the wagon had driven off. And it wasn't trailing any of the unshod horses. Who had been driving? Why had he or they been allowed to leave? Was the lieutenant the target? The sergeant? Both? Strange, Zak thought.

He mounted up and continued down the road in the direction the wagon had gone. The pony tracks led off on another tangent. Business finished. Where had they gone? There was no way to tell without following the tracks. And even then, he might not know why they had attacked the wagon, or coach, and why they had just let it drive off. None inside the wagon had stepped down. He had accounted for all the tracks.

Yet someone had escaped.


Zak touched a hand to his face. Two days of stubble stippled his jaw. The hairs were stiff enough to make a sound like someone scraping a match head across sandpaper. He touched spurs to his horse's flanks and left the smell of death behind.

The wind moved miniature dust devils across the land like dervishes on a giant chess board, with squares painted burnt umber and yellow ochre. Cloud shadows slipped across the rocky outcroppings and small spires like wraiths from some surreal dream, slinking and rippling over the contours of the desolate earth, making the land seem to pulse and breathe. Little lakes shimmered and vanished in the smoke of shadows, only to reappear again farther on in silver curtains that danced enticingly along the old Butterfield Stage route that wound through stone cairns and cactus like the fossilized path of an ancient serpent grown to gigantic size.

Zak Cody licked the black cracks on his lips, shifted the pebble in his mouth from one side to the other. His canteen was empty, all of the water inside him where it could oil his muscles, saturate his tendons. That was the Apache way, not the white man's, who rationed water until he died of thirst, leaving his gaunt skeleton on the desert either through ignorance or an addled mind.

He found the first object beside the trail almost by accident. A glint of sun, something odd seen out of the corner of his eye. He rode over to see what was glittering so, thinking it a stone veined with mica or quartz. But there was a blue-green cast to it that defied immediate identification. It was small, and might have passed notice on an overcast day.

He reined in the black and dismounted. Stooping down, he picked up the dazzling object, turned it over in his fingers while he stared at it. There was gold on it, too, and he saw that it was a piece of jewelry. Woman's jewelry. The gold band was attached to the precious stone, and there was a pointed shaft through the band. A woman's earring, he determined, before he put it in his shirt pocket. A few feet away, almost hidden from view, he spotted the matching earring. He slid it into his pocket with the other one and climbed back into the saddle.

Now, what would a woman, possibly a refined woman, be doing way out in the middle of nowhere, miles from any sizable town, any town where a fine lady might wear such a fashionable accessory? Ahead, miles away still, was Apache Springs, and beyond that, Fort Bowie. He had seen the wagon tracks, knew how fresh they were, how many horses, four, were pulling it, and how fast they were going. Cody was a tracker, by both habit and training, so he always studied the ground wherever he rode his black gelding, a Missouri trotter, sixteen hands high. He called the horse Nox, knowing it was the Latin word for night.


Excerpted from Shadow Rider: Blood Sky at Morning by Jory Sherman Copyright © 2007 by Jory Sherman. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Shadow Rider - Blood Sky at Morning 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cool! Here is a charscter app Name Ravenfire Personality Kind mysterious thoughtful clever lonely Mentor unknown Apprentice none Mate unknown did have one Kits none Friends none A short history Parents died when young and was raised by Ryefeather who was kind to her. Everyone felt akward around her leaving her alone. But she was fine with that. As she grew up rumors had spread about her since no one knew about her past anymore leaving kits fleeing at the sight of her, though she was very kindhearted. No one ever cares to talk to "kit eating" Ravenfire anymore. Hope you use it! C= - Moonstar
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like it. I do have a character app, but im too tired to write it now. Gute nacht.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An app: name: Rowanpaw/fang. Age: 8moons. Gender: &female . Mentor: Lightfeather. Looks: a gray pelt with darker gray speckles and amber eyes. Persona: nice, good with herbs. Das my app! Liked the story and hope you include her! ~&#8499oo#&8501sto&#8501e
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
(Charachter apps are allowed, but 1 per person and a limit of 10. No character apps for crushes, mate, mentor friend, deputy and so on. Feel free to give me any cat!) <p> The sun rose, turning the sky a pale pink, gold, and blue. The sunbeams stretched into the camp and filtered into the nursery, dappling the floor and the small blue kit's fur. It seemed to tell the blue she-kit to wake up. <p> Morningkit yawned as she woke up. She laughed with delight as she saw the sun dappling her pelt. She ran over to Firekit and Risingkit and nudged them awake. They darted out of the nursery and into the dewy morning outside. Risingkit stretched, yawning. She blinked her red eyes. "Hi!" Piped a voice. Morningkit whirled around to see a cream colored kit with brown paws, ears, and tail tip. "I'm Berrykit! You must be the kits my brother Windkit told me about." Morningkit gave a nod. "I'm Morningkit, and-" She got stopped by a snickering voice, "Why does that kit have red eyes? Hello red eyes! Your white coat blinds me!" Risingkit ran back to the nursery, tears in her eyes. <p> Morningkit watched her go, then felt the urge to protect her sister. "Stop that you bully!" She ran after Risingkit. "Don't mind her. You're very pretty." Risingkit looked up tearfully. "You think so?" "Yes." Morningkit mewed firmly. They headed back to the group of kits. The she-kit who had made fun of Risingkit was a russet furred shecat with green eyes. Morningkit was happy to see that Windkit had joined them. "Hi." He said looking up as tey approached. "Don't mind Russetkit. Let me introduce you to my sisters. You've already met Berrykit and Russetkit. I have another one, Lilykit." A golden shecat with blue eyes stood by her brother. She gave a nod. "C'mon." Mewed Windkit. "We'll show you the camp." <p> They padded to the den next door. It smelled of herbs and a creamy golden white shecat with amber eyes was sorting herbs. "That's Lightfeather, the medicence cat. This is the Medicene Den." Windkit mewed. They passed by a sandy den. "That's the Apprintences Den." Two apprintences one white one brown, were resting and talking. "That's Bramblepaw and Whitepaw. One day, that's gonna be us." <p> Windkit led them to a huge den. Several cats were snoozing, but it was mostly empty. "This is the warriors den." Windkit mewed. They passed by a long-legged brown warrior. He was directing cats. "That's Spiderleg. His actual warrior name was Spiderfur, but the name stuck. He's the deputy even though he doesnt have very good smartness but Silverstar said he had potential. " A black green-eyed shecat was hanging nearby, big eyes at Spiderleg. "That's Hollybranch. She has a crush on Spiderleg." There was a chorus of giggles. They padded on and bumped into a tall silver shecat. "That's Silverstar." Breathed Windkit. Silverstar smiled warmly down at them, and Morningkit found herself smiling back. " "One more stop!" Windkit mewed. They entered a big den. "This is the Elder's Den. The elders tell good stories." "Hello!" Called a voice. Several cats appeared. "I'm Ambertail." The amber shecat smiled. "This is Waspwhisker, Patchtail, and Honeyfur." She purred. "Ok." Windkit mewed, "But we have to go!" Ambertail gave a nod as they left the den. The stopped by a gorse entrance. "That's the world." Whispered Windkit. "We are not supposed to go out there till we are apprintences." Morningkit nodded. What a world! She had never expected it to be like this! <p> (Hope you enjoyed! Bye!) <p> ~ Morning
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can i rp an elder instead of a warrio?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is dead. Officaly. *link
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ugh....Man, I really had alot of napping to catch up on...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would like to join & mentor an apprentice. I would also like a mate. Im a silver & black tabby she with bright green eyes. Reply to Feathertail. Thanks!!!!! |Feathertail|
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*gets up getting ready for a fight* now that wasnt very nice. What was that for?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello? My name is Sapkit and I have no mom because a dog attacked her. I heard this was Shadowclan, please help!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My parents have also abandoned me. When i was just learning how to walk. Then left. So i have tought myself ever since. Its hard though. Now im so used to only depending on myself
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*Smiles* ¿- Tigerkit -¿
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nvm to my last post Frostpelt
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Were is tornadoclaw
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A she cat walks in ill mentor one of these apprentices
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wats going on.......?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No kidding. Is it ever any more exciting or active?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Where are we moving to?-sageleaf
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think it is *i curl up next to my sister mudkit* this is where mother said it was
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wev been kits to long were like 10 moons
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just started a clan.on my way hee to ask for ur alliance i got attack by a wolf the cut might get infected soon though
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hope not...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
-sighs and pads silently into the clearing, her tail low and her head down. Why show herself if she was a pain to the clan? Then again, if some cat saw her, would they care about her? She missed Omnifoot and her kits so much, along with my, many other cats.... was it worth living a life she didn't want?-
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The silver-and-black warrior returns briefly. "My Nook was confiscated. I apologize for not being on, and apologize that I will not be on for a while still." &mdash;$ + ¿ &euro; @ |< ¿ &euro; @ + # &euro; ¿