Night had seemed colder than before. Even ice itself began to crust against the wrinkles of his weary eyes. Frigid wind and numbing frost had begun to take away his warm touch, which has slowly become frozen as the snow. Blizzards he has encountered before, but this one felt to be a greater threat. It had looked as if Mother Nature herself had tried to intervene with his journey.
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But Frederick persevered, not wavering to the unforgiving storm. Searching for refuge, he plummeted down into the deep unknown forest. Shivering, he found an abandoned cave and mustered all his diminishing strength to scurry inside. Greeted with the sounds of drip-drops of melting icicles he was once inside. The cave appeared dark and bleak, with a sense of loneliness that pervaded throughout the cave. Accompanied only by his mere shadow, he had sensed this and sorrowfully gathered some firewood from his partly torn satchel and began to spark a fire.
The fire crackled and sparked, dulling out the eerie silence as Frederick questioned his initial motive; to map out Sleepy Hollow. As a cartographer, he had helped map out most of the Northeastern shore. But the west frontier of New York still appeared somehow a mystery. An adventure to an unknown place seemed tantalizing for a natural pioneer. But fruitless searches along the Hudson River– where Sleepy Hollow was rumored to be located– during his past few years had indefinitely battered his hope as well as his own body. His soft brown hair had turned rugged dark gray, his hands, short and stubby, were cut and torn from wear-and-tear, like old leather. His eyes had grown tired and lifeless. His legs were thin to the bone. His clothes were also at the mercy of his travels, either partly ripped at the seam, lost buttons, or loosely patched. Frederick was weary both in mind and body, but with his last shred of hope, he promised himself that if he did not find Sleepy Hollow in this last expedition, he would forfeit the search indefinitely.
As night progressed, he slept through the night tossing and turning, with no help for comfort. It was not the cold, hard ground that bothered him, yet the thought of failing to discover for one’s eyes the legend that was Sleepy Hollow. After a few hours he finally found some rest. With eyes shut and relaxed breathing, he fell asleep. However, not long after did he awaken to the disturbing sounds of groans and mumbles; alerted like a deer to a wolf’s howl. Frederick searched around the cave and outside, now that the blizzard had died out. The groans continued, and eventually led him to a man, around mid-twenties of age, wearing a schoolteacher’s apparel and a ghastly wound to the forehead. Unconscious, the man appeared to have been hit by a large pumpkin, due to the opened gash and orange smear on his face. With a few medical supplies he had left, he attended to the man’s wounds as much as he could.
The man’s wound too severe, but the man recovered enough to awake dozily after the opened gash was stitched and disinfected. He spoke softly, but eloquently, of the location of Sleepy Hollow, where he said to have left a lover who married a brute named Brom Bones. The man said that a feared spirit in Sleepy Hollow called the Headless Horseman was a fraud. The man said he had been chased by this unknown being and before being knocked out by a thrown pumpkin, he saw the face of the very man who took away his love. In conclusion, the man requested Frederick before death to go to Sleepy Hollow and to provide evidence to convict Brom Bones of posing as the Headless Horseman, and for frightening the local townspeople with this persona. He did not know what to say, and before choosing yes or no, the man died. Afterward, he packed up his things, gave a last blessing to the corpse and moved out.
The way to Sleepy Hollow was very close but the trail to there was treacherous. Unwieldly branches, swamps, and unknown hostile animals thriving throughout the countryside surely made him sweat. But knowing he would have finally achieved one of his most special goals in life certainly boosted his morale. He walked diligently and gallantly through the harsh trail. Within a couple of days he reached the legendary gates of Sleepy Hollow.
Sleepy Hollow was a indeed a peculiar haven compared to other lands Frederick had cartographed. The people, dressed in a unusual variations of past fashions, appeared as sleepy and dreamy as the land they lived on. There was a peaceful tranquility he never experienced before, but also a unknown sense of mystery. After asking some locals about the whereabouts of Brom Bones, he was pointed toward the Van Tassel mansion.
At the door of the estate, he was greeted by a young maid. Upon entering, he was awed by the exquisite décor of the estate. Soft, fur covered couches, polished maple desks, animal-headed trophies; all lit under a pure crystal lantern complimented the hand-crafted wallpaper and hard-wood flooring. The scent of fresh sage, basil, and other herbs lightened the house’s aroma. Everything seemed fit for a king.
After a few minutes, Brom Bones greeted him in person. Burly, and tall, Brom was as strapping as he was wealthy. The affluences he had gained he procured from Ol’ Van Tassel when marrying his daughter, Katrina. Long hours passed, and Frederick left Brom’s estate with a farewell.
His attempt to insinuate that Brom was the Headless Horseman was futile. Brom Bones was very good at keeping secrets hidden, even though he never hesitated to boast about his successes and riches. He did, however, remember of a ball Brom had invited him to to upon departure. He decided to infiltrate Brom’s personal quarters while Brom was distracted by the numerous party guests. He carefully planned his heist and slept well for the mission to come.
His heist was successful, retrieving Brom’s dark cloak, a suspiciously carved pumpkin head, and letters to Katrina about the Headless Horseman persona. The following day, he presented the evidence to the townspeople. At first, they were skeptical, but no one could argue with the evidence given. The dreary, sleepy mood of Sleepy Hollow turned angry and active as the locals bolted to the Van Tassel estate as a mob, equipped with torches and pitchforks. Needless to say, the estate was burned utterly to the ground.
However, at the sight of the estate’s collapse, a dark horseman, filled with rage and vengeance, charged at the mob. The people rapidly dispersed, leaving only the Headless Horseman and Frederick to a joust. The Headless Horseman galloped at the speed of wind, and threw his pumpkin head at Frederick with full force. Nimble and quick, he evaded the attack. Jumping off his horse, he tackled the Headless Horseman to the ground. In armlocks and half-nelsons, they wrestled violently on the estate’s dirt path. Unfortunately, Frederick’s force was not able to reckon with the Headless Horseman’s and was pinned to the ground. As the Headless Horseman was going to strike, one of his garments fell, revealing the face of Brom Bones. Not wanting Frederick living to tell the tale, Brom beat him to the dust. At the climax of the final blow, Brom Bones was interrupted, being yanked off him by a night black horse rider. Brom’s shouts for help were quickly silenced by the thunderous claps of galloping. After a short while, the galloping and shouting faded, and he was left beaten on the side of the dirt path. The townspeople returned and aided his wounds.
No one had known what happened to Brom Bones. No clues were found of Brom’s disappearance. When the people were told of this, they assumed the real Headless Horseman had punished Brom for impersonating him by taking him away. Katrina was left homeless, and husbandless, but a meek soul betrothed her, and helped restore order to Sleepy Hollow.
After finishing cartogaphing Sleepy Hollow, Frederick finally left this mysterious town. A life’s quest had finally ended, but as Frederick began his new journey home, he couldn’t help hearing the sound of galloping trailing behind him…
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