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Wiseshaman

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PostSubject: ElfWest Day Six - Part Seven   Thu Apr 05, 2018 10:22 pm

And now, for the next piece of Day Six, written by me, Wiseshaman


Day Six - Part Seven

Guttlekraw has a visitor, Timmain gets a note, and the boys are 'almost' reunited...

She sat in her high backed leather chair in her chambers staring at the folded note that sat on the edge of her desk. It felt like twenty pounds of TNT, and probably would end up destroying someone. Yet Timmain wasn't thinking about the note, its contents, or what it even meant in the grand scheme of things for the moment. No, she was only thinking about the shaman and what he showed the Seekers last night. After being shown the vision in the lock send with Winnowill, Timmain was actually speechless, the first time in her long, long life that such an event had occurred. What that vision did to her, it was indescribable.

Back east, when she was growing up and the charge of being in The Nine was laid upon her shoulders, Timmain had already read most of the books in the secret library her father presided over. The undisclosed repository was under their house on a plain street, three tall levels only accessed through a hidden door in a root cellar. She had read, and re-read, the books engrossed in the history of the Elvin race, her history. According to the scores of volumes that lined each level they had been on this world since the recorded word was laid to paper, yet there were suggestions that the elves were older than even that. There were drawings on ancient pottery recorded in one tome that depicted a small being dropping from the sky to waiting humans, and designs on early leathers that depicted elves walking the world with Natives in another old musty book. But there was nothing on how they come to be on this world. Yes, she knew elves and humans had accepted each other so many years back that no one was sure when the accord was set in place, and not a single book told her how the elves came to the Abode and Djunsland. There were tales, bedtime stories, that told of elves sprouting from the very ground and the trees like forest nymphs and imps. Preposterous and childish, it was silly to even read.

And there was no mention of why the ancient powers were locked away in all but a few scattered elves, no word at all. In one particular book reference was made to the powers, to what the first comers could do, and that the humans must have made them out to be Gods. Then the passages stop and the next chapter's begin, a brand new start. It was like someone stopped the writer from completing his theory into the ancient ones powers, or something Timmian had surmised at the time sitting in the darkened library reading the book for the fifth time. No elf, none that she knew of, could remember their past. They were taught reading and writing and the limited history of human and elf in school. The elves had always been here she was told, hidden in the secret places of the world until they ventured forth suddenly one day and made an alliance with humans. But what secret places she had asked her teachers? There was no answer, only scoffing that she had other things to worry about. And why did the history she was taught sound so strange to her yet everyone else, human and elf alike, accept it with the ease of the news in the paper she asked, and again, nothing but scoffing. No Timmain thought, sitting there in school, it was like a veil had been put in place, a fog draped across every elf's and human's mind to keep them from seeing, from asking and understanding.

Not a word on their arrival or why the powers were locked away.

Not until last night.

Timmain closed her eyes and ran the images the shaman showed them through the lens of her sharp minds eye again. They came to this world in a crystal 'bird'. What kind of bird? And crystal, what did that have to do with it? A weight, large and very heavy, settled on her shoulders. The information would be of great interest to The Nine, the secret group who were ordained to keep watch over the search for the ancient powers, especially to a certain one among them. The Nine watched from the shadows of society, recording the names of all the elves they found who could send or heal or shape rocks and trees, and then kept contact on them. They kept the vigilance because if someone, anyone, found out the secret of the powers, then that person became someone of great importance, someone who could hold sway over a race, over the world. That's why they, The Nine, made sure the secret was kept, just like the library, and that no one discovered how to 'open the door'. That was their charge, old as the recorded word.

That was until last night, until Winnowill 'opened the door'.

Now the black snake knew the secret how to unlock the ancient powers. Or, if they were lucky, she only stumbled on the way to open the door and didn't understand she knew the answer to one of the greatest questions for Elvin kind. Only time would tell Timmain thought, time and constant vigilance.

And there were the others, the other half of The Nine, to think about. What would they do with Winnowill? The door to her office popped open and her assistant Thomas peeked in.

"Ma'am?"

"Yes Thomas," She answered coldly.

"You're horse is saddled and outside."

"Thank you Thomas. I'll be gone till this evening, be sure to look over the papers and the docket for court in the morning." Timmain said rising out of her chair.

"Already working on that ma'am. Have a pleasant ride."

"Thank you Thomas." Timmain remarked as the human closed the door.

She picked up her saddle bags, filled with a meal from Brownberry's and a change of clothes. The Judge started for the door then stopped midway and turned back to look at her desk, at the note...at the twenty pounds of TNT.

Timmain thought for a minute before walking over and picking it up. She didn't unfold it to read it, which was unnecessary as the words were burned into her mind, but only stuffed it into the pocket of her vest. She tried not to think of the notes contents, but it still came back as she opened the door to the back stairs while grabbing her wide brimmed hat off the coat rack.

Timmain,

We know what happened last night.
We must meet, all of us, soon to address.
Looking forward to seeing you again...
Haken - The Nine

She loathed that elf, with every fiber of her being Timmain thought moving down the steps gracefully to her horse.

And he was coming to Two-Moons,


"Who is it?"

Leetah spoke her question in a whisper while carefully watching the four humans at the edge of the camp. When she ran up with Cutter she saw them approach and felt a sudden small shiver run up her spine. On the Hidalgo, her father had men who kept the rancho safe, men whose job was to protect her and her Familia, but out here there wasn't someone to do that. Then she felt a hand take hers and she looked up into Cutter's eyes and felt his strength and love run through her. He gripped her hand tight, but with care, and he spoke to her and only her.

"I don't know, but it'll be okay Rose. I won't let anything happen to you."

The words were simple, and she had heard them a thousand times from suitor to suitor, it was one of Rayek's fondest sayings as he chased after her as a suitor, but those words from the past didn't have the same affect, the same resonance as they did now when the Major spoke them to her. When Rayek said those words, it was like he used them to gain an advantage when they played at love, the way a person would play a certain move in chess. He was arrogant and self-centered in those days she had come to accept, the total opposite of Cutter. She felt the Major's eyes look into hers, felt them touch her soul, and a calm followed that told her she was as safe a lamb with him. To Cutter, Leetah realized, the words meant so much more. To him it was a simple matter of honor; the strong protecting the weak, and the soldier protecting the innocent. To her the Major was nobler than anyone she had ever known, with the exception of her father of course. Leetah felt her heart swell with warmth as she gripped his hand with both of hers and smiled back at him with love.

She waited till he smiled back, love brimming from ear to ear it seemed, before turning to watch the humans and horses stop and then one, a tall man, dismounted and calmly walked over to the fire. Leetah watched him carefully wondering if the man was one of the miners chasing the Major and Captain. She wondered, and found herself worrying abruptly, about the tracker. She worried for her friends Crescent and Nightfall if something happened to Redlance as the man spoke calmly, but with extreme care.

"Morning."

"Morning," Bearclaw said back, a sly smile crossing his face as he opened his coat revealing the pearl handles of his pistols.

The man froze for a second as the camp went silent, his companions behind him now trying to calm the horses in the building tension, and Leetah catching her breath. She looked over to see Shenshen grab Dart's hand in both hers and shimmy right next to his shoulder. Leetah watched the deputy slide over just enough to cover her hermana then she jumped a little when Cutter called out abruptly breaking the silence.

"Annie, is that you?"

One of the men, or who Leetah thought was a man, called back from her horse. "Yes sir, it's me."

"What can we do you for ma'am?" Joyleaf asked feeling the situation needed a woman to help it out. Either that or someone was gonna get shot.

"Did you ride out of Silver Springs with a red haired elf, two longs braids on either side of his head, dressed like an injun?" The man inquired.

"He was raised by Natives, honorable people, so I'll kindly ask you not to call him an injun." Nightfall snapped. The angry look in her eyes was only matched by Crescent's glare standing next to her.

The tension rose quickly again until one of the other humans, a younger man, got off his horse and approached just as careful as the older one. "Excuse me, we didn't mean anything by it ma'am. We just want to make sure he's the elf from the shack yesterday is all."

"Yeah, he rode with us. His name is Redlance. He's out watching our back trail; you probably passed him in the night. He'll drop in around noon." Skywise offered sliding over by his parents, eyeing the young man closely.

The young human smiled and turned to look at the other riders, gave them a wave, and then pointed to the camp fire. "Mind if we share the fire. We'd like a chance to talk with Redlance when he comes in."

As the last two riders dismounted Longbranch spoke up, asking what the others were thinking. "Why are you looking for Redlance?"

"We just want to talk mister, nothing more. Once we're done we'll ride out and you won't have to worry bout us."

And that's the way they stayed, for the last hour. One of the other riders, another woman, walked up and started talking with Eyes High and Shale. They obviously knew each other, but the other three kept their distance, especially the older woman. She stood by herself next to the horses, staring off into the mountains. As if there was something up there she needed to see, and all the while rolling a coin through her fingers. Leetah had seen gamblers in the saloons do such things when they were deep in thought, which made her wonder what this human was thinking right now.


He shuffled along up the steps to the back door, which would lead to his kitchen, and hopefully the bowl of stew his nephew Itchback had ready. It had been a long morning working in the small blacksmith forge Guttlekraw had setup in a barn outside of the main house with his other nephew, Smelt. When he wasn't doing Mayoral duties in town, or working with a few heads of cattle, you could find him at the forge with his nephew. Now, he didn't mind putting in the long hours with Smelt, Guttlekraw liked this nephew, but Itchback, that was another story. That troll was as dumb as a box of horse shoes, Hell his head was even shaped like one. Guttlekraw reached the top step, scrapped off his boots, and swung the screen door open wide while screaming.

"Itchback, you no good toad, whe-"

The last of the large troll's sentence died out as his eyes settled on the person standing across the table and room. It wasn't Itchback.

It was someone he'd only met once, and that one time was plenty enough for him.

"Good afternoon Mr. Guttlekraw, you look like a hungry troll. I'd offer up some stew, but it doesn't look quite done yet." John Lee said.

Guttlekraw looked to his right, just slightly making sure to keep the albino in his sight at all times as he stepped forward slowly, cautiously toward the stove. If you blink then it could be over before you realized it with John Lee he thought as he took another and then another step. He saw the cutting board on the counter, vegetables and chunks of meat sitting on the thick wood, and the pot on the stove. He didn't see his nephew Itchback and he didn't see the large knife that usually sat by the cutting board, but he did see a trail of red on the floor leading back into the house. As Guttlekraw looked back to John Lee he saw some of the silverware from the cupboard scattered on the table top, and the albino scraping the dirt out of from under a thumbnail with the blade of a knife while admiring the craftsmanship of the handle. The troll took a deep breath to steady himself, began to inch back to the back door, and spoke trying not to stammer.

"Where's my nephew?"

"Which piece?" John asked back with a cruel smile looking up from the knife.

"Oh damn, you cut him up didn't you?" Guttlekraw whispered.

John Lee may have heard the last, but he paid it no attention holding the knife out, still admiring its craftsmanship. "This is certainly a nice piece of silver Mr. Guttlekraw, so nice it makes me wonder just why a muck raking troll such as you has it."

"I made it, or my nephew Smelt made it in our forge out in the barn." Guttlekraw stammered.

"Really?" John Lee whispered. He began to turn the knife around and over in his fingers, twirling the blade, before throwing it with perfect precision.

The knife made a snap sound as it crossed the room and slammed in the white cabinets that were just behind Guttlekraw's right ear. The troll gave a scream at the narrow miss, his eyes locking onto the quivering blade as it stuck out of the wood. He heard a small click, barely loud enough to detect over the pounding of his heart, and turned to see John Lee had a large serving fork in his hand now. The sunlight in the room sparkled off the silver, and at any other time it would be worth observing, but not right now. Guttlekraw stepped back toward the screen door again as the albino started talking.

"You know why I'll take a knife over a gun Mr. Guttlekraw. It's because a knife doesn't need to be reloaded. A good steel knife won't jam, or misfire, or blow up in your hand if the handle wasn't prepared right. No sir, give me good cold steel any day. I can glide up right behind a man and slip a sharp blade in and out of him before he can react. And do you know where I learned such a valuable lesson, you fat sack?"

"No...no sir..." Guttlekraw answered nervously noting he was only a step or two from the door now, free from the trap hopefully.

"After my mother met her untimely demise, I was orphaned on the streets of the cities back east. And with my physical disposition I was not readily accepted by society, actually, I was brushed aside with heavy hands, until I came across a man by the name Lazar. He was the only one who showed me concern, not love mind you, just a small piece of concern. Lazar was a circus performer, a man gifted with the ability to throw just about any damn thing in his hand and have it stick in something. He could throw a knife, an Axe, a shovel, Hell he even threw playing cards and stuck them in things. Lazar took me in as his apprentice, mostly, and taught me the art he loved so much. I think somewhere down deep I might have cared for Lazar myself, I mean he was the closest thing I had to a father."

One more step Guttlekraw thought, just one more step. A bead of sweat ran down his cheek and he smiled with the idea of getting away, but then John Lee's arm flashed suddenly and something silvery flew by his left cheek, cutting it just slightly. Guttlekraw let out a scream as the crash of wood being splintered sounded by his ear, and just like a second before, he saw the silvery handle of the fork quivering, stuck deep into the cabinet door. He looked over expecting to see the albino still on the other side of the kitchen, but John Lee had all ready moved around the table in the way and was standing nose to nose with him. The albino's red eyes bore into Guttlekraw's and the troll realized death had come for him this morning, messy and painful probably.

"Were you trying to leave you fat sack? Were you about to be impolite and leave me standing alone in your kitchen?"

"No sir," Guttlekraw stammered.

"Good," John Lee hissed exposing his white teeth and red gums, "because I came to deliver a message and that's what I aim to do."

"Yes sir,"

"It seems Mr. Guttlekraw you've got a fondness for correspondence, writing letters to a certain lady. Now I want to hear you say her name, say it for me you fat sack."

"What?" The troll asked lost, his mind not exactly prepared to answer questions at the moment.

"I said say her name troll. I want to make sure you understand who we're talking about, now say the name!" John Lee spat.

Guttlekraw swallowed hard, moving the mass of cotton down his throat an inch more before speaking. "The lady Kaiya, the Djun's daughter."

"That's the one. She's received a few letters from you Mr. Guttlekraw, letters that frankly have her worried that you might not be able to keep a secret. She in turned talked to my employers, and they got a little nervous about her being upset, and here I am. Now, what I don't understand, is how an insignificant troll who is going to be paid handsomely in the near future can not seem to follow a simple request, such as to keep his damn trap shut! Your greedy nature alone should keep you from talking!"

"Its that damn Rayek! He's asking questions! He'll come after me if he finds out about Dave!" Guttlekraw whined.

John stepped back and raised one eye brow while speaking. "This Rayek must be a thoroughly dangerous person, a downright killer to scare two of you so bad."

"What? Who else is scared of him?" Guttlekraw asked confused again.

"It's not your concern Mr. Guttlekraw, as that elf Rayek is not your concern anymore. That outlaw Dave, he has been taken care of as well, which includes any connection to you with him. There's no way this Rayek gets close to you, understand?" John Lee asked.

"You killed Dave? But what if-" Guttlekraw started thinking the worst.

John Lee cut him off with a bark in frustration. "Have you not been paid you fat sack for getting the five horses over the border?"

"Yes sir," Guttlekraw answered trying to calm the albino down.

"And hasn't Mrs. Kaiya promised you the land that the railroad must run over in Djunsland when she takes control? Hasn't she gifted you with a chance to make a substantial amount of money Mr. Guttlekraw, by leasing that land to the railroad? This is where that greedy streak in you hits its full stride I'd say. "

"Yeah, but all that money won't do me any good if I'm dead."

John Lee sighed shaking his head before speaking, the frustration in him just growing with every minute. "Why are you scared of one elf? You have the chance to make more money than you can count by being part owner of the railroad when it runs through to Djunsland. You'll be a King among the trolls, King Guttlekraw all those muck-raking-trash-eating green sacks will yell out. There won't be anyone who could put a finger to you, except me that is."

The image of a gold crown with jewels a plenty circling his head made Guttlekraw smile, and the piles of money at his feet made that smile glow with evil. The troll could hear the chants in his ears, King Guttlekraw, as he turned to John Lee and the albino saw that the troll was finally getting the message.

"So, they'll be no more letters, right Mr. GuttleKraw?"

"No, no more letters."

"Good, and now for the last thing. I need you to convince your friend in town, one Greymung the Mercantile owner, to stop harassing all the elves." John Lee requested with a grin.

"Why do you need that done?"

"Greymung seems intent on driving a pretty little elf in town, a Mrs. Rainsong, and her family off their land. He seems intent on making this as painful as possible and that I can not have Mr. Guttlekraw. I need you to convince him to stop this, by tonight." John Lee explained.

"Rainsong, why does she matter?"

"I don't usually like to explain myself Mr. Guttlekraw, but in this case I find it might help with your understanding of the situation. You see, Mrs. Rainsong is working with us, though she doesn't know it, to find a considerable amount of money left behind by Miss Kaiya's late father. A map with a special code has been passed to the elf, pointing out the location of this money, or at least a clue to its location, and Mrs. Rainsong has done a wonderful job in deciphering it for us."

"Then why not just take it from her? I mean, she's just an elf." Guttlekraw laughed and the hateful look it caused John Lee made the troll stop immediately.

"Miss Kaiya is running the show Mr. Guttlekraw, so she decides when we move and when we don't. All I have been instructed to do is make sure no one and nothing distracts Mrs. Rainsong or her friends with the map. I'm no scholar but I think she's more worried about her home then the map and that's a problem. I have to deal with that problem and you sir are the answer." John Lee explained.

"I'll talk to Greymung, get him to lay off for a while." Guttlekraw offered with a nod.

"You convince him King," John Lee stated moving toward the back door, "because if I hear that Mrs. Rainsong or any of her friends lost a wink of sleep due Greymung stepping on them then I promise you'll wake up with his head in bed next to you."

Guttlekraw didn't say anything as the albino left out the back door. There wasn't a lot he could say to the last threat. The 'King' leaned up against the cabinets, between the stuck pieces of cutlery, and tried to get his heartbeat under control. A low moan preceded the entrance of Itchback as the troll ambled into the kitchen, rubbing the back of his head and looking around confused.

"Why'd you hit me in the head uncle? I was making lunch-"

"It wasn't me you idgit! Now finish the stew while I try to calm down." Guttlekraw snapped.

"Hey, why'd you stick a fork in the cabinet uncle?"


They had split into two distinct groups around the camp fire, the three humans on one side and all the elves, plus the one young woman, on the other. No one spoke, and no one made an offer to. Each group choosing to keep to themselves, although at the moment Shenshen was whispering to the human called Josie.

"And they kept asking about Redlance?"

"Yep, they just kept asking if he had those braids and red hair. Annie didn't talk much; it was mostly Jacob their son." Josie answered looking over to the young human

"I don't like it." Crescent whispered suspiciously.

"Neither do I," Leetah added.

"I want to know why they're so hell fired interested in Red, cause if they got some plan for the boy, then I might have something to say about that." Bearclaw hissed.

"No one's taking Red anywhere so let's just keep calm." Joyleaf said patting her husband's shoulder before rubbing it.

Longbranch looked past the humans, to Scouter who was still scanning the prairie looking for his 'son'. The lawyer had been listening to his group whisper about why the humans wanted to talk with his son for the last hour, and it all finally came to head. It was about time to settle this, so without warning, he strode forward toward the young human ignoring his daughter's yelp.

"Pa!"

The lawyer walked right up to the young human and held out his hand in an offer to shake as he spoke. "My name's Longbranch, Redlance is my son, and I'd like to know why you so urgently in need to speak to him."

Nightfall stopped behind him, noting the fact he referred to Redlance as 'son', but not dwelling on it. Her father was trying to get an answer and the young human stood up from where he sat by the fire while taking Longbranch's hand.

"I'm much obliged to meet you Longbranch, my name is Jacob. My Pa is Clym and you know my ma."

"I'm glad to meet you too Jacob, now if you don't mind, can you tell me why you need to talk with my son?" Longbranch asked again.

"Jacob!" Clym called out to his son, a warning not so well hidden.

"They deserve to know Pa," Jacob countered.

"Clym, let him speak." Annie suddenly ordered. The coin kept flipping through her fingers as she never looked back to them.

Jacob nodded then turned back to Longbranch, and the all the other elves who were staring at him now, and swallowed before speaking. "My ma had a sister, when we lived in Djunsland, and Redlance may be the last person to have seen her alive."

The statement hit the elves like a gust of wind. Some gasped, some cursed, and one said something in Spanish that no one had a clue what it meant. Longbranch looked at Jacob and sized up what he said before continuing on.

"And you just want to know how she died, is that it?"

"No sir, we don't want that at all." Jacob replied.

That answer really confused the gathered elves, but before Longbranch could ask what it meant, Scouter pointed out on the plains and yelled back. "Got Him!"

Jacob was quickly forgotten as the elves walked past him to stand beside the deputy. Cutter looked out in the direction Scouter was looking but didn't see anything except the open prairie and swaying grass.

"Where is he?"

"Just out there, coming in on his Mustang, and with another horse right behind."

"Another horse?" Joyleaf remarked.

"Did he leave with two?" Shenshen asked standing next to Dart and still holding his hand.

"No," Dart said shaking his head.

Scouter all of the sudden let out a laugh and everyone looked at him like the young elf was crazy. The deputy pointed out toward Redlance and explained between the gasps for breath.

"Red's covered in dried mud, from head to toe! He must have fallen off his horse!"

Skywise didn't see the humor though and shook his head mumbling. Eyes High turned to him concerned and asking what was bothering him quickly.

"What is it?"

"Red didn't fall off his horse. The only reason he's covered with dried mud is too hide." Skywise pointed out.

"What do you mean 'hide'?" Leetah asked with worry. She was so lost.

"I'd bet you a plug nickel he probably snuck into someone's camp last night, that someone being the posse chasing us." Cutter said looking at her.

"Oh my!" Leetah exclaimed realizing what had Skywise and Cutter so worried.

"Well, at least we'll know whose coming after you boys." Bearclaw said with a proud smile.

Longbranch didn't like that smile, no sir, not one bit.

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Wiseshaman

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PostSubject: ElfWest Day Six - Part Eight   Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:45 pm

And now, for the next piece of Day Six, written by me, Wiseshaman

Day Six - Part Eight

Rayek goes searching for Khavi and Redlance reveals a secret...


The sight of P.W. still made Rayek uncomfortable, but he was getting used to it slowly, if ever so slowly. He walked behind the creature, following it down the hall as it spoke in that nasal high pitched voice.

"Kahvi no here big brown high-thing! She ride off two days, one hour, and ten minutes ago!"

So she did come back to the funeral home Rayek thought. It made sense, the hunter in him coming out again, the instinct to run down the prey taking over. Khavi didn't strike him as one to have many friends in town, and the ones she might have outside of town were not trustworthy. The minute they found out she had a large amount of cash was the minute she was long gone probably. The hunter ran what he assumed were her best options through his head but came back a blank. He didn't know enough about Khavi to come up with what she might do, and you had to know you prey to track it. He stopped and asked the mortician a quick question.

"Did she say where she would be going?"

"No sir, BREEEE, would not matter to Khavi! She goes where Khavi high-thing wants and no one, DEEEEEEE, tells her different!"

That was the truth Rayek thought. He looked up the stairs and remembered the room where they, uh-hum, consummated their deal. The hunter inside him wanted to see the room again, the gentlemen in him wanted to burn everything in it, but the hunter was stronger at the moment and he looked at P.W. with a raised eyebrow.

"Would it be acceptable amigo, if I went up to the room we...borrowed the other day."

"It would be fine big brown high-thing. I washed the sheets and replaced the rug!" P.W. said while walking away.

The shot was right across Rayek's nose and he knew it, but because he wasn't quite sure what the mortician was he wasn't sure how to fire back. So the hunter only sneered quietly and headed up the stairs with equally quiet steps. He made the door to the room, realizing forgetting this door would be next to impossible, and turned the knob. When he walked in he half expected to see Khavi by the bed again, shirt unbuttoned displaying her cleavage and pants undone ready to 'shake hands' per say, but the room was quiet and empty. Rayek closed the door behind him while his eyes scanned everything, from the new rug on the floor, to the chest of drawers against the wall. There was nothing out of place, the sign of an immaculate obsessed maniac like P.W., and the bane of the hunter's existence. Any, and more than likely all, of the evidence that would have pointed him to Khavi was gone now, out with the trash one might say. Rayek looked over to the large chest of drawers and decided to take a chance.

He stepped up and examined the top, but there was nothing there, not even a thin sheen of dust. Damn but P.W. was efficient the hunter thought. He opened the top drawer and it was empty, as was the second, but when the third opened he struck pay dirt, or a woman's clothes exactly. Yet, these were not Khavi's clothes. They were nice, hand-made and frilly, which didn't fit the persona of the wild elf. And there were undergarments, like hose and petticoats and knickers, all things Khavi had probably never worn. He ran his hand slowly over the underwear feeling the softness of the material. The knickers weren't cheap like you'd find out of some old catalog, but they weren't the silky high end from back east either like someone of Winnowill or Leetah's status would wear. These were probably made special by the local dressmaker, someone good with a needle and thread who accepted custom orders Rayek deduced closing the drawer. He turned and exited the room heading for the foyer and P.W., needing to ask the...person a question.

"Did you find what you seek big brown high-thing?" P.W. asked the second Rayek stepped off the stairs.

"Si, but I need to inquire about something I found, something personal about senora Khavi." Rayek replied.

"Oh, bree-deetle-deee, what do you wish to know?" P.W. said back, the voice sounding worried to Rayek.

"I know Senora Khavi has many visitors, and she has them stop by as I did, but has there ever been another Senora that went upstairs?"

"Oh breetle-deee," P.W. whispered nervously, the morticians's wringing hands told Rayek he had hit on something secret, "she has only one female come to see her."

"I need to talk with this Senora. I need to find Senora Khavi Senor P.W." The hunter spoke emotionlessly; the side of his personality Rayek didn't like talking.

It took a minute for P.W. to answer, a long minute filled with the noise of the mortician's wringing hands, but finally a soft voice spoke up. "It is Aroree from the Mercantile, bree-deetle-deee."

The sad, quiet one, who could barely look you in the eyes? Aroree could fade into a white background because she was so plain. She was the owner of the clothes? She was Khavi's lover? Rayek could see her eyes, the hair pulled back into a tight bun, and had to admit Aroree was beautiful once you got past the things he just thought of. He smiled at P.W. and tipped his hat.

"Thank you, P.W."

"Have a nice day brown high-thing!" The mortician called back as the hunter left the funeral home on his way to the Mercantile.



He rode up on Firecoat with an easy gait, letting the horse go on its own as he made sure the Waler stayed behind him, and both bull deer strapped to its back stayed put. The young horse was just a little smaller than Firecoat, but just as muscular. If Strongbow was around he'd lay claim to the animal because the Waler was a special breed, loyal and patient and strong, built to run in the mountains with powerful legs and haunches. It was a beautiful light brown with a high sheen that turned black at the legs and around the mane. There was only one elf Redlance could think of that was a perfect match for the horse.

As he approached the bend, he saw a whole crew of people standing by the road waving him in, so Redlance guided Firecoat over. He saw Cutter and Skywise and the wagon, but he also saw Longbranch and Nightfall and Crescent. His heart skipped with a little touch of fear, like the night in the restaurant when he asked for Nightfall's hand, maybe with what he was about to do here. He saw Bearclaw and Joyleaf standing by Cutter, who was holding Rose's hand. There was Scouter waving to him still, and Dart. The memory of that moment, back in Brownberry's, when the deputy called him a 'breed' came back and Redlance bit his lip. He'd talk with Dart too, promise to find his father, make up for not finding him when he first went missing. There was no hurt from what Dart said, only the pain from not helping his friend when he needed it.

Redlance guided Firecoat right up to Scouter, who took the bridle with an easy hand as he brought the Waler to a stop. He hopped down as the first question was yelled to him by Longbranch.

"Are you okay Redlance?"

The tracker didn't get a chance to answer as both Nightfall and Crescent grabbed him in a hard hug. He only smiled and squeezed back, feeling so much love for both of them his heart threatened to explode, and it wouldn't have mattered if it did because he felt so damn good at the moment. He just stood still for a minute, holding them both until Nightfall looked up with a smile.

"Why are you always the last one in?"

"Yeah, are you trying to kill us?" Crescent followed.

He only shook his head no and then leaned in giving both a quick kiss, which made Crescent blush as red as the sun, before letting go of them. Nightfall looked to her sister and giggled seeing the blush before turning back to her betrothed. Her father walked up putting a hand on Redlance's shoulder while speaking.

"Stump said you had some busted ribs, how bad?"

"No, I'm fine. I took a chop from a club, but it wasn't hard enough except to leave a bruise." Redlance answered with a smile as he walked over to the wagon with the other elves, Firecoat and the Waler following closely behind.

On the walk over he spotted Annie, and for a second the tracker stopped, acted like he had seen a ghost, but then he moved on as if nothing had happened. The elves massed around as Cutter handed his friend a canteen to take a drink from. Redlance removed the muddy leather cap he used to cover his red hair while taking a sip of cold water. He gave a nod to Eyes High and Shale, who were sitting in the back of the wagon still as Cutter spoke up.

"I'm not gonna ask what you did to get all muddy, or why, so just tell me what we're up against."

"Eleven miners, down from the fifteen that left Silver Springs about two hours after you and the Captain rolled out. I kept them busy most of the night, chasing they're horses and wandering off the trail." Redlance answered after swallowing the swig of water.

"So that's where the horse came from?" Joyleaf asked with a wink.

"The mare didn't want to go back, and I couldn't leave her out there in the dark all alone. It's a Waler any way, bred for the mountains." Redlance replied before taking a second drink.

"A Waler, Pa would give his eye-teeth for a chance to breed her. A Waler's just about as special as Nightrunner." Crescent remarked.

"Oh, you'll have to ask Tyleet if you can stud her mare." Redlance countered while pouring some water in his hand and washing the mud of his face.

Nightfall and Crescent looked at him with a shocked expression, as did Longbranch. Most of the elves were truly surprised, but Dart wasn't. This was typical Red to him, having grown up around the tracker. Redlance gave up the Henry rifle, one the best damn guns ever made, for Cutter's old saber, which he gave to Black Feather for some bone necklaces that he gave to Tyleet for a kiss on the cheek. To Red, the basics in life were simple, the love of friends and family.

"You're gonna give the Waler to Tyleet?" Scouter yelped.

"Yeah, I have Firecoat. I thought the Waler would be perfect for her first horse, she's old enough and all now." Redlance said with a half smile.

"She'll love it." Nightfall remarked kissing him.

"I know I would." Crescent added reaching out and rubbing his shoulder while looking at him with full devotion.

"Okay, now that we got all the niceties out of the way, you said there's eleven miners riding here right now?" Bearclaw asked with a snap.

"Yeah, they rode out of Silver Springs and I followed, getting ahead of them in the woods just outside of town. I led the bunch off the trial with an old trick I learned back in the tribe, and when they bedded down for the night I set their horses loose. They spent most of the night staying up, chasing their rides and noises. When I left them at dawn they were still snoring, but four had gone home in the dark, one walking."

Cutter turned to his father with a raised eyebrow. "What do you think Pa?"

"I say we make our stand here, right at the bend."

"I don't know, eleven men against us with our backs to the wall?" Longbranch questioned the idea.

"Why do we not ride for Two-Moons? We can outrun them, si?" Shenshen asked nervously.

"No Marisol," Skywise answered shaking his head, "we'd just lead them right into town where a shoot out would happen. Some poor innocent would get shot."

"Oh," Shenshen replied scared.

"And these fellas seemed determined too, not the quitting type. Boone's offering Five dollars extra an ounce for our ears, especially the Captains." Redlance stated taking another drink.

"How do you know that?" Nightfall asked afraid to hear the answer as was Crescent

Redlance looked at her and waited to tell her the answer. It wasn't embarrassment, just the fact he didn't want to hurt his love, either of them. "I got close enough to they're camp to hear one of the men mention it."

"Damn," Nightfall whispered just as Crescent closed her eyes trying shut the image of the tracker only feet away from the angry miners chasing them.

"I heard some names too, the leader's called Amil. Have you ever heard of him?" Redlance asked Eyes High and Shale.

The small elf with grey hair nodded his head while taking his wife's hand. "Amil Gentry, he runs one the big mines outside of town in the hills. He's a mean one, some say a killer. He threatened to hurt Eyes High once, right after we got to town."

"What?" Skywise spoke up, the look on his face a mix of surprise and retribution.

Eyes High noticed it and shook her head reaching out and grabbing his shoulder gently. "I'm okay, nothing ever happened."

"Nothing was ever going to happen. I'd die first before I let someone hurt her." Shale announced with stead fast absoluteness looking at his wife with rock solid resolve.

Crescent felt a pull at her heart from the exchange, but then someone was talking her hand, and she looked over to see Redlance reaching for her. Nightfall was already leaning up against him and she let the tracker guide her over to where they stood. Crescent felt that pull at her heart shift to being fulfilled at the single touch. She wondered when she would get the chance to tell him how she felt, and if she'd just blurt it out all wild like.

Any possibility of being able to do that though disappeared when the young human called out to the group. "Excuse me Mr. Longbranch, is that Redlance?"

The elves looked at the young human closely, Longbranch nodded and then turned back to Redlance. "They came to talk with you."

"Do you know em?" Dart asked keeping a close eye on the group.

"They left about an hour before the miners, Annie's with them." The tracker stated.

"I think they'll only talk with you." Cutter added.

Redlance nodded and then walked over to the human with a small smile. He wiped his hand to dry it off then offered the appendage slowly, but confidently. "I'm Redlance."

"We've been waiting to talk to you sir, a good while, my Ma has I mean. My name's Jacob." The young human said taking the tracker's hand, and Redlance only blinked. No one but Nightfall understood how the attention bothered him and the blinking was like a nervous tick.

Annie had been watching the elf's movements closely. She had been waiting for so long to talk with him, that the decision to leave Silver Springs and come after him was an easy one. Hell, she had wanted out of the Miner's camp for awhile and running into the tracker was just the nudge she needed. As her son shook the elf's hand she walked up and pulled the wooden coin out of her pants pocket holding it up to him.

For a second Redlance didn't recognize the display, then realized what he was supposed to do, and reached into his shirt. He pulled the small pouch out that held his money which was tied around his neck and opened it. A second later he pulled out a matching coin, and while closing the pouch with a pull of one hand, he held it up for Annie to see.

"As one we stand..." Annie spoke quietly.

"As one we fight..." Redlance added.

"To be free and right." They said together. Then Annie reached out and Redlance did too, their hands passing until they gripped each other's elbow.

"For the Maquis."

"For the Abode."

Then it was over and the only sound was the crickets and the wind in the trees. Nightfall and Crescent and Longbranch stood still in awe while Cutter and Skywise fell back to their memories of the war. What they had done, at Bells Ferry and Little Round Top, could be read about in any book, but what did Red do? What did he go through they thought as Annie and the tracker put the coins away.

"I haven't done that in a while, thought I might be a little rusty." Redlance spoke with a grin.

"You did fine sir, just fine. I got wind you wanted to talk, and at first I wasn't gonna say a thing, but then I saw you at the shack. You know, they still tell tales about you over in Djunsland, behind the closed doors of course."

"Please ma'am, I'm nothing special, just a simple tracker." Redlance said shaking his head.

"No sir," Annie said pulling her hat off her head, letting it dangle from the leather windstring down her back, "I know who you are, and that's why I'll answer any question you got as long as you answer just one for me."

"It's about Kate, isn't it?" Redlance asked Annie point blank.

Jacob jumped at the name and Dart reached for his gun, but Cutter stopped him with a raised hand while Clym whispered. "Damn, it's really him, the 'Savior of Marysville."

Nightfall felt everything slow down, like each second was taking a minute to tick by. She gripped Crescent's hand so tight her fingers hurt, and Leetah reached over putting a hand on her shoulder. It all felt like it took an hour as Annie responded.

"Yes sir, it's about Katie."

"You're a dead ringer for her, except her face was a little flatter than yours. Sisters, right?"

"Yes sir, "Annie said with a fresh tear starting to form in her eyes, "we lived in Djunsland, at Marysville where Pa ran a small feed store. Katie was always the spirited one, she even drug me into the Maquis to stand up to the Djun."

"She was a natural leader, just like Cutter. People followed her no matter what was at stake or what might happen. People just wanted to be near her." Redlance explained with a hollow smile.

"That she was, but I don't know what happened to her Redlance. I know she's dead and I don't need to know how she died. I'd rather remember how she lived, but I want to know where she is. I have to know where she is." Annie explained hoping, knowing, the tracker would understand.

The clearing fell quiet again, all watching in total rapture of the two, and some wiped away that one tear that rolled down their cheeks. Nightfall put her arm around Crescent feeling the need to hold someone as Leetah stepped over next to her, dragging Cutter along. Then Redlance spoke up breaking the silence with a calm tone.

"Outside of town, to the North-East, there's an apple orchard. At its center, in a special circle, is an old Oak, large with so many branches you could limb in it all day. Kate told me right before the Maruaders destroyed the city that if something were to happen that I should take her to that tree. It was her favorite place when you two were growing up she said, that you two would race their everyday during the summer and climb to the top to watch the sun set. She said she used to let you win so you wouldn't feel so bad."

At the mention of the orchard, of the old Oak, Annie broke down and started to cry. She covered her mouth shaking her head as the tears fell. The somber mood pulled the elves down too as Dart suddenly wiped at his cheek looking around. There wasn't a dry eye he could see, not a one as Redlance continued on.

"After she was gone I took her there, to the west side of the tree so she could see the sun set everyday, and I buried her. I made a small marker, nothing that would attract attention but enough so maybe people would see it and take note someone as special as Kate was there. So no one would forget her or what she did."

After he finished, the only sound was Annie crying in the clearing, crying and whispering her sister's name over and over again. She looked to the sky and whispered a prayer before looking back to Redlance. The tracker frowned and spoke low.

"I'm sorry Annie...I'm so sorry I couldn't save her."

"Don't be sir, you did more then save her right then. You gave me back my heart, you gave her back to me. You gave me back my Katie." Annie stated between breaths, wiping her face with a bandana.

"I'll call us even if you answer a few questions for us, about another Maquis." Redlance stated wiping his own cheek.

"I'll tell you everything I know."

"Who was Ben Thompson in the Maquis?" Redlance asked.

Annie only smiled and shook her head. "He wasn't anything special, like me. He just helped the ones we needed to get across the border, a guide kind of."

Redlance looked to Cutter, then turned and ran over to Firecoat pulling something out of his saddle bag as the Major let go of Leetah's hand and walked over asking another question.

"What did he come to you for?"

"Money for the jobs he did, new jobs to get money. Ben was in a dire need you might say for some coin, even up to his demise." Annie answered.

"You know he's dead then?" Skywise asked up from the side of the wagon.

"Kind of hard not too, someone came through town a few months back and told everyone the story about old Ben and the missing Henry. Say, you boys probably are looking for it, huh? That's why you here asking me about Ben."

"Nope, we found it six days ago, along with a picture at Ben's place." Cutter opted up as Redlance came back.

He handed over the burnt picture they found in the fireplace at Ben's shack, the one with the Wavedancers posing with Ben. Annie looked at it closely as the tracker asked a question. "Do you know the older Wavedancer is?"

"Yeah, she's Maquis, but you have to understand fellas, we never used our real names when working on the other side. I knew Ben as Ben over here, but over there he was Sam. I do remember him mentioning a Scarlett, his blanket he used to say, but that's probably not even close to her real name." Annie offered.

"She was his soiled dove?" Redlance popped up.

"Maybe, but I don't think so. Ben may have been a lot of bad things, but a bugger he was not. When he spoke of Scarlett it was always with a fondness, and he had all the money I was supposed to give him go to her. He even had me send over money he didn't make with us."

"Do you think she slept with Ben for the money?" Cutter asked trying as tactful as possible to put the question on the table.

It wasn't Annie that answered it though. It was a calm voice from the group of elves, from the back of the wagon. "She didn't sleep with him, and if she did it was for love and not money. Like Annie said, things over there are different."

Everyone turned to look as Eyes High swallowed hard and squeezed her husband's hand before continuing. "Being accused of being Maquis is bad enough, we know that too well, but to be a Wavedancer and be looked at as a Maquis, well that's scorn you can't imagine. No one will take you in, no one will offer you work to make money, and no one will befriend you. At that point you only have two choices, beg for what you can get or become someone's companion, their 'blanket'."

"How do you know about this?" Skywise asked abruptly with a concerned look.

"We had friends, Wavedancers, who were accused like us. They endured so much worse, so much worse. We would have helped, but we we're all ready in trouble and barely getting by on our own." Shale explained.

"This Ben, he was probably the first one who didn't spit on her or treat her like common trash. He was the first to give her money for her children, money so she could buy food and clothes, the first to be kind to her in so long. In exchange, she offered to lay with him, so she could feel wanted and needed by someone. It wasn't based on having relations, but on love. Scarlett, she probably loved Ben very much and it sounds like he loved her back just as hard." Eyes High finished with a warm smile.

"That makes sense, it's why Ben owed everyone in town. He wasn't paying his bill because he was sending all his money to Scarlett there." Longbranch deduced.

"You know, your best bet is too try to contact her through the old network. There's this barber in Two-Moons, Spine, who use to run with us on occasion. You can see if he knows something." Annie offered handing the picture back.

"Thanks Annie, where you going from here?" Cutter asked.

"Off to the east, maybe even a little south. I think I'm ready for some sunshine."

"Well, safe trip Annie" Cutter offered holding out his hand.

"Be careful with the Henry sir, damn things brought more than a few men down." Jacob called out as he stepped forward to shake the Major's hand.

"Do you know how Ben came to hold the Henry?" Skywise asked quickly.

"He told us he found it riding out of Djunsland, and that's all he'd say. He asked about selling it once, to send the money to Scarlett, the last time I saw him." Annie replied letting go of Cutter's hand.

"So Ben never used the gun for anythingƳpecial?" Skywise continued.

"Hell sir, Ben was the worst shot on the frontier. I'm not sure why he wanted to keep that damn rifle so bad. He couldn't hit the side of a barn even if he threw the Henry at it." Jacob answered with a laugh.

"Thank you Redlance, for giving me back my peace." Annie offered shaking his hand.

"Thank you for answering our questions."

The two stood for a minute holding hands before Annie gave a nod and turned leaving the clearing. Redlance watched her go in quiet hoping the lady in the Maquis had truly found peace. When she and her family were out of sight he turned back to his family and was immediately greeted with a hug. Nightfall and Crescent squeezed him hard and he obliged with squeezing back. The three stood in that pose as Cutter and Leetah smiled thanking the High Ones for the feeling of happiness. The Major turned to the group and gave out a quick order.

"Dart, why don't you and Scouter field dress those bucks so we can have dinner tonight, all thanks to our tracker of course."

"All right Cutter," Dart said turning to get to work and finally letting go of Shenshen's hand.

"Well, what are we going to do about the miners riding down on us?" Joyleaf asked.

"I think Bearclaw has the best idea. We make our stand here, in this clearing." Cutter answered.

"You're damn straight. We just turn the wagon so the side faces the trail, get the ones in it who don't need to be running around, and lay out the welcome mat." Bearclaw stated with his usual side long grin.

"And I guess you'll be the welcoming mat?" Longbranch asked all ready hearing the answer before the pistoleer answered.

"You're damn straight!" Bearclaw growled pulling out one of his Dragoons.

"Sounds like the plan then, let's get to work." Cutter ordered, but before he could move Nightfall spoke up with her own demand.

"And while we're working you can explain to us just what you three have gotten yourselves into."

The look on her face, and Joyleaf's and Crescent's and Leetah's, said that the full truth and nothing but the full truth would be accepted. Cutter wondered just how painful that would be...and if letting the miners take his ears would be a better choice.


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Wiseshaman

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PostSubject: ElfWest Day Six - Part Nine   Mon Apr 23, 2018 12:18 pm

And now, for the next piece of Day Six, written by me, Wiseshaman


Day Six - Part Nine


We find Voll and Sun Toucher discussing a certain Bounty Hunter, Vaya learns how to make shine from Pike, and the group getting ready for the miners learns a little more about the tracker...

She lied to me...lied to me...lied...why?

The thought just wouldn't leave Voll alone. Oh, he knew his precious wife had lied to him, lied to him like he was just another face. She had done it so easily, like slipping on a coat, and that bothered him immensely as he rode away from the ranch on his white Appaloosa to the secret meeting spot. A note was delivered from Sun Toucher to the house early that morning requesting a meeting. The Hidalgo Rancher wanted to talk, had to talk this very afternoon, so Voll dressed and rode out to do just that with Sun Toucher. The ride actually helped him sort his mind, organize his thoughts, and try to discern exactly what Winnowill was up to. You see, he knew his wife had lied because why would John Lee show up at the house, in the dead of night, and in the middle of a downpour. The albino was meticulous Voll had heard from a man he hired to gather information on John Lee, the same man whose ears ended up in a box delivered to his front door. He was the dark protector for the men of the Railroad, and he did his job well. John Lee wouldn't risk exposure or detection unless Winnowill had crossed his path by accident, or the men who hired him. No, she was into something like John Lee said, something deep and sinister.

No, the albino wouldn't show up with two dead bodies because of a 'note'.

Which left Voll with only one choice? The Blue Mountain rancher had to unravel whatever his wife had gotten herself into so he could save her, because he loved her. But he had to also accept this plan might involve a certain 'accountant' and that upset him just a bit. Rayek might, would, have to be dealt with in the near future.

The white App danced across the prairie as Voll crossed his back forty and arrived at the old camp site. He was still thinking over his wife's deception as he dismounted, noticing Sun Toucher was already there waiting. The Hidalgo Rancher was dressed in his usual black coat and pants, white shirt with ruffles, and black Cordobes hat. Sun Toucher smiled while speaking as the taller Voll approached.

"Buenos noches Amigo."

"Good afternoon to you too my friend, and it is good to see you, but I wonder why you wish to meet. Is there some emergency?"

"Si, I wish to speak with Rayek." Sun Toucher said as the smile disappeared from his face.

Well, at least he was to the point Voll thought as he replied. "I can guess as to what you wish to discuss with him."

"I will not be a party to his deception anymore Senor Voll. Rayek has become what he has due to our transgressions. He deserves the truth amigo, the truth and nothing less."

"Oh please Sun Toucher," Voll spat walking by the elf and shaking his head, "Rayek chose his path when he ran away. Our plans, as nefarious as they were, did not force him to become a killer. May I remind you, the town and our ranches are safe due to our plan."

"How can you be so blind Senor? If we had chosen to say no to the Railroad men's offer Ingen would not have died and Rayek would not have run away!" Sun Toucher countered.

Voll stopped and turned, the small hand whip tied around his wrist dangling by his side. "I'm not so blind as to see what will happen when you tell him the truth. I'm not so blind to see that your conscience will not be clear for long."

"Que?"

"No, please, go and tell the prodigal son that his father was killed by a band of rustlers we hired with the help of Guttlekraw. I for one would not shed a tear if our new accountant left the ranch for good. In my estimation, give or take a minute sir, that your confession will not be finished before the bounty hunter tears out and rides over to kill the troll." Voll stated coldly.

"I will not let that happen."

"I do not think you will not have a choice, and knowing what I know, the town will bury all of us before the day is out." Voll added.

"What are you saying Senor? What do you know?" Sun Toucher said eyeing the rancher suspiciously.

"I think our troll friend has been talking to someone, maybe someone we do not know of." Voll answered.

"Why do you say that?" Sun Toucher asked moving closer.

Voll cocked his head to one side as he spoke, looking at the Hidalgo Rancher with cold eyes. "Someone visited me last night, a man with a deadly reputation that has been well earned. The Railroad men sent him here, for what purpose, that I do not know."

Sun Toucher stopped and looked back at Voll with even more suspicion. "The men of the Railroad sent a hired gun to protect Guttlekraw? I do not understand, how did they know about him?"

"I do not think the hired gun is here to protect Guttlekraw, only the Railroad men. If word were to get out about the arrangement with the horses then I am sure he has been ordered to quiet us all, including your prodigal son...and daughter." Voll explained.

Well, he might be right Sun Toucher thought, that was if he could trust the old bird. Yet something wasn't making sense about this. Voll said he wouldn't shed a tear if Rayek was gone from his house, so why was he trying to stop the truth from coming out? And this hired gun, that had the ring of a story made up right on the spot. No, the rules of the game had changed and Sun Toucher decided to play along. He wanted to see just what the old bird was planning.

"Then what are we to do amigo?"

"That is what I want to discuss." Voll responded with a raised eyebrow.


"This is your Second Best?"

The round kettle, which was about chest high to Vaya with a cone shaped top, bubbled inside as she watched the shiner ply his trade. Pike put another cord of wood on the fire under pot to get the heat up as he spoke.

"Nah, that's just the mash. You see, I cook it a little while and what climbs up the copper tubing and across to the other kettle is shine."

"Oh," Vaya commented with raised eyebrows.

It felt good to be up and out of the cabin with the sun's rays on her skin. She had on one of Pike's shirts and a pair of his old overalls. The breeze blew through the sides of the overalls and with nothing on underneath the shirt Vaya felt a tingling all over. She liked it. The pain from the bandages and all the cuts seemed to fade with each little gust that wrapped around her naked skin. They stood by the still, which was two kettles on two stands connected by copper tubing, under a shed to keep the rain off. Pike checked the coiled tubing, made sure the fire was constant, and then settled in for the long 'watch' as he called it.

"Is that it? There's nothing else?" Vaya asked looking from the kettle to Pike and back.

"Yep, now we just let'er cook and after a while we'll have enough to sell to old Picknose."

"So what do you do while you're waiting?" Vaya asked walking gingerly over to him. The pain wasn't all gone she noted.

Pike looked around thinking, whitlin' wasn't going to satisfy his guest. Then he remembered something and smiled while speaking. "Hey, I got me a checker board. You wanna play?"

"Checkers? What, you play by yourself?" Vaya laughed.

"Nah, I use to play with Homer, but he's a sore loser and started to cheat." Pike said with a wink.

Vaya only laughed more and nodded. She hadn't played checkers since she was a youngin' back livin' with Urda. The woman had raised Vaya practically as her real mother, Khavi, was out being Khavi. In the end, Urda was Vaya's mother more than Khavi had ever been, but she couldn't deny the blood that ran through her. She was Khavi's cub and the way she lived proved that. She was as free and wild as Khavi, but just a little smarter when it came to taking certain 'risk'. Pike pulled the board out and set it up as Vaya walked over and sat down under the tin roof over the still. They played and laughed as the mash cooked, Pike stopping just long enough to make sure the fire stayed constant. Soon the second kettle was almost full, and old Homer started barking.

They looked down the hill and coming up the trail was a wagon being driven by a troll and an elf. Vaya recognized the elf as the piano player Hoykar from the Hammer and Tongs, but the troll was new. As the wagon rode up Homer ran over barking his blame head off until Pike scolded him as the wagon stopped by the still. The troll didn't look happy and the first words out of his mouth sure as hell proved it.

"You boys up here for Picknose's batch?" Pike asked.

"I sure didn't bust my damn gut on this wagon to come see your ugly face!" The troll spat jumping down.

"We have the jugs in back Pike. I'll help you get them." Hoykar offered opening the back gate of the wagon.

"Hell, I ain't getting' paid to help the redneck here. He can haul them jugs himself!" The troll stated, leaning up against the side of the wagon.

Vaya watched in shock at first as Pike just smiled and went to work getting the numerous jugs out of the wagon ignoring the troll. He didn't even try to stop the cut down she thought. He just let that troll run heel on him like it was supposed to be. Well, she wasn't going to sit on her rump and let Pike and Hoykar do all the work. She stood up and walked over to him asking her question in a direct tone.

"Is there anything I can do Pike?"

"Yeah, if you feel up to it you can fill the jugs from the spout here. All you do is turn the knob and make sure the jug gets enough to fill up."

"That seems simple enough." Vaya replied kneeling down.

"It isn't for the redneck there! He spills more then he gets in the jug." The troll jabbed at Pike with a harsh high laugh.

The spout snapped closed as Vaya was about to tell the troll where he could go ride, but Pike only smiled and spoke up before she could.

"Yeah, well accidents happen you know. I'll try to be safer. Hey, you boys got double the number of jugs, you got double the paper?"

The troll only scoffed at the question holding up a roll of cash. "Hell yeah, Picknose wanted a little extra. Seems between your hooch and the Rose he's been pulling in the crowds lately."

"Well then, it's my lucky day ain't it!" Pike yelped with a grin carrying two full jugs back to the wagon.

The troll only spit on the ground chaffing from the remark. The work took less time then Vaya expected as they loaded all the hooch onto the wagon as quick as she filled each jug from the kettle. Hoykar covered the jugs with a large grey canvas tarp as Pike walked up and held out his hand.

"What?"

"My paper if you kindly please."

"If in' one of them jugs break I'll be back up here getting some of the paper back." The troll hissed handing over the roll of cash.

"Yep," Pike replied with a smile taking the roll and ticking it a way in his pants pocket, "it sure was nice doing business with Picknose. You pass that along for me, want cha?"

The troll only spit by Pike's boot before climbing into the wagon and getting it rolling down the trail. The less time he spent at the redneck's cabin the better, the dumb yokel was even waving as they drove off. Pike only grinned as the wagon disappeared down the trail giving it a quick wave.

"What the hell are you doing?" Vaya suddenly spat.

"What'd ya mean?" Pike asked back.

"I mean letting that no-good troll run on you like that! Why'd you let him do that? You could have fought back!"

Pike held up the roll and only smiled more. "Why fight back when having him hand this over, seeing how much that hurt, was all I needed. I pick the fights I can win and not the ones that end up in a draw Vaya. It's how I stay so handsome." Pike offered with a wink.

She only stood in shock and disbelief as he went to check on the still. Pike wasn't like any one she had ever run into.


They went to work around the small campsite, moving the wagon around behind the fire so it would sit sideways, just inside the light of the fire. Then they moved some old fallen trees and branches in a staggered line from the trail right up to camp. The fence of trees slid in closer as they went along, like a funnel, until it was just wide enough for a couple of horses to walk. Shale worked even though his wife yelled at him, and he only did what he could. The healing by Leetah had saved him, but Shale was weak. Still, he helped with the branches until he was too tired, then sat for a while before helping to finish dressing the two bucks. Eyes High only smiled, her husband was never one to sit by and let someone else work, and he wasn't one to run. When the idea was proposed to send the women and him ahead with the wagon, made by Scouter, it was met with a few choice words and the idea of slapping the taste out of the deputy's mouth.

So they all stayed behind, getting set for the miners, who Cutter said would probably ride in at dusk with the sun behind them. It would be the best way to do it, use the sun as a blind, which is why they put up the fence of trees. The miners would get bunched up and make easier targets for shootin' if it came to that.

And it seemed like someone was asking a question about the Henry every five minutes.

"So the Henry was made to kill the Djun's son?" Joyleaf asked.

"No ma'am," Cutter answered helping to lift and set the wagon in place, "it was used to kill the son's advisor."

"Why an 'advisor'?" Shenshen spoke up.

"It got the ball rolling you might say. It scared the son into making his play for control a few month's later and taking over the country." Skywise answered this time.

"Who took the shot?" Dart took his turn.

"No one knows who did the shooting, but we may know why. The Djun has a daughter and she wants her turn at running things. My guess, get her brother to kill her father and then take over from the brother." Cutter explained.

"A daughter?" Longbranch whispered running the idea over in his head.

"Okay, but how did Ben get his hands on the Henry?" Crescent piped in.

"Just like Rain said, he got it outside of Menno in Djunsland. I don't know if he found it on some wagon with a dead man at the reins being pulled by a dead horse, but the Army lost track of the rifle around there." Redlance said with a sigh.

"The Army, what were you doing talking with the Army?" Eyes High inquired.

"I sent a telegram to a friend in Army Intel asking about the Henry, and sure enough, a 'friend' shows up to talk with us. I think Red knew him better than we did though." Skywise said with a shake of his head.

"Really?" Nightfall spoke up looking at her fiance with a raised eyebrow.

"Yes, I knew Colonel Tibbet from the days in the Scouts." Redlance answered.

"Say," Longbranch called out after putting down an arm full of branches, "what did it take to be a scout? I've always wondered what happened to you after you left out on the train that morning with Colonel Sheridan."

The clearing went quiet as everyone slowed just a bit to listen to Redlance, who shrugged his shoulders while speaking. "We went two junctions east and then Colonel Sheridan made us get off the passenger car and slip into the car with the horses. When I asked why we moved he said no one watches this car so you don't have to worry about getting caught."

"Caught by whom?" Shenshen whispered.

"The enemy," Redlance said with a smile, as if the answer was just your usual passing phrase.

"So Sheridan started the training early. You must have been important to him?" Longbranch asked again.

"I don't know, he sure didn't act like I was important when we got to the training camp, north up in the mountains. He kept at us morning, noon, and night with drills and training, but the Colonel never screamed. He just spoke as calm as a summer day, never once raising his voice. I remember we started with forty of us, forty men who had no clue or care for the Army, just a knack of living off the woods. When training was done, the night after General Tecumseh's visit, there was just twenty-five of us left."

"Is that what Tibbet was talking about, a dark and stormy night?" Cutter asked.

"Oh yes, we had an inspection from the General and his staff. Sometime during the visit the General's second in command, Lawrence, called the Scouts a waste of money and time. He said a good Calvary man could do a better job of reconnaissance than a scout. He suggested we shut down the camp and disperse the men to other companies that needed the personnel. Of course this didn't sit well with Colonel Sheridan and he proposed a challenge."

"What kind of challenge?" Scouter asked up this time.

"The kind where General Tecumseh and Lawrence camp out with a guard of fifty men and I sneak in to prove what we could do." Redlance answered moving a fallen tree.

"Fifty men?" Leetah gasped.

"Give or take a few. They knew I was coming so they set up a perimeter and a roving patrol. I went in under the cover of darkness and the storm, right into General Tecumseh's tent and took his whiskey flask. I took General Lawrence's photo of his wife off his desk, then slipped out and returned to Colonel Sheridan."

The clearing was totally quiet now as Redlance talked. They had stopped working the others, choosing to listen to the tracker, even old Bearclaw himself who whistled at the story from Redlance.

"I guess you saved the Scouts tracker."

Redlance just shrugged his shoulders and smiled. "No, I only did what I was told, and in the end it only got me a one way trip across the border to Djunsland in the middle of the night, fording a swollen river with four others."

"We went over in broad daylight; believe me when I say you didn't miss much." Skywise laughed.

"And that's how you lived for the five years of the war Redlance, sneaking around in the dark and hiding all the time from people who would have tortured and killed you?" Longbranch asked pushing the conversation along as well as a fallen tree.

"Most of the time, though some of it was sitting and watching troop movements...and some was working with the Maquis like Annie." Redlance remarked.

And there it was Longbranch thought, walked right into my trap. The lawyer hated himself at that very moment, tricking and taking advantage of his 'son', but he also knew Redlance had to talk. To keep it in, whatever it was, couldn't be helping. "I saw the way Annie and her family reacted to you, like a hero. You must have done something special for them?"

The tracker stopped what he was doing and looked back to Longbranch realizing what the lawyer had done; lead him right into the place he didn't want to go. He could have hated Longbranch at that moment, become angry with trying to dig into his past, but Redlance knew better. He was just trying to help, just trying to heal in his own way like Leetah.

Redlance smiled and looked at the ground before speaking. His hands shook and his voice cracked just a little. "I didn't do anything special. I'm just a Scout who helped some people out when they needed it."

"I heard it was 120 towns folk, poor souls who would have been killed if not for a Sheridan Scout getting them out." Skywise suddenly added, his voice tinged with a small bit of awe.

The number made Nightfall inhale with a hiss. The words from Aurek that afternoon in his office came back, how she felt a sense of pride for her tracker, and now that pride came back along with a small piece of fear. She could see her love wasn't ready to talk about what happened at Marysville and she was ready to step in and stop the questions when the tracker spoke up.

"It was 108, damn number always seems to get bigger everytime someone tells the story."

"Stories like those always get bigger son, people embelish without thinking a thing for the truth. They never think the people their talking about just might want to be left alone." Bearclaw said with a shake of his head. Everyone understood what he was saying, more than a few visitors had come to Two Moons to see the deadliest pistoleer ever, even if the pistoleer just wanted to help run a show about the West.

If anyone wanted to go farther with the questions they didn't say. No one spoke up and no one asked Redlance anything else. He didn't look like he was ready to talk and thankfully no one was ready to push. The silence was finally broken when Bearclaw spoke up once more.

"Why don't you and Dart go get us some wood for the fire Red? We'll need it before sun up tomorrow."

"Yes sir," Dart answered as Redlance only nodded still looking at the ground.

Nightfall watched as her love left with Dart, then she heard a quick angry sigh and turned to see her sister getting the blankets out of the wagon. It was obvious Crescent was upset, but you wouldn't know about what unless you were close. All she wanted was five minutes with Redlance and everything seemed set against letting her have that. Nightfall finished putting more wood on the campfire and getting the spits up for the Deer meat before turning and walking to her horse. She grabbed the saddle bag off Apples and went to her father.

"We're gonna go check on Redlance, see about his ribs."

"Okay, don't wander too far." Longbranch offered with a smile. He had an idea of what was about to happen.

Nightfall only smiled back then walked over to Crescent taking her sister's hand in hers with a determined look. "Come on, we're gonna check on Redlance."

"Okay," Crescent said, the anger in her face changing to joy. The two went off after Redlance, both wanting to finish what needed to be done.


"Red, can we talk?"

The tone of the voice scared Redlance a bit, it wasn't one you usually heard from Dart. It was small, unsure, not the Deputy at all. The tracker stopped and looked to his friend speaking openly.

"Sure, is it about your father?"

"No, it's about me...what I said to you at Brownberry's"

"Dart, there's no need to apologize. I can't understand what-"Redlance started to say when the deputy cut him off.

"No, there's a need for an apology Red. I said something awful and I should have known better. I was raised better. My Pa would expect better. I can never make up for the pain I caused you Red and I can only hope you'll forgive me one day."

The mention of Strongbow lowered the mood even more. Redlance reached out and put his hand on Dart's shoulder and whispered with a set determination. "It's forgotten Dart, and we'll find Strongbow, I promise you that Dart. When we get back to town we'll head back to the lake and I'll find something, a track or anything, I'll find it and him."

"You'd do that wouldn't you Red?" Dart asked noting the fire in his friend's eyes.

"Yes I would."

"Then I'll promise you this, when ever you're ready to talk about this thing from the war, whatever happened with Annie, that I'll be there. I want you to know I'll listen to you Red, and that I won't judge you. I only want to be your friend." Dart promised.

"All right Dart." Red said rubbing the deputy's shoulder.

They heard someone approaching and Redlance looked over to see Nightfall and Crescent walking toward them, a determined look in both eyes.

Well, one down and one to go he thought with a smile.


___________________________________________________
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Rainflower

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Age : 29

PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Wed May 02, 2018 3:13 pm

WHISESHAMAN!!! *runs towards throws around neck in tackle hug* Wayyyyyy too looong!!! Missed you so.

Omg I had forgotten so many details in this story, it's something you really should do once in a while to fresh up the memory, and the actual story. It was nice of you to post my stories as well, you didn
t have to do that but thanks Wink I had forotten the whole story of Annie but not Annie.

And I just figured out I need to make more dresses for Winnowill og dear. That's gonna be fun, but still need to wriggle my brain a bit. Is it bright red and blue on htose dresses, dark/light or can I surprise with something?

Btw, have you still got that backstory about Dart, Shushen and Geoki?
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PostSubject: ElfWest Day Six - Part Ten   Wed May 02, 2018 6:50 pm

*laughs and hugs back*

Its good to see you too Rainflower, been away way too long. I figure I have to get this Elfwest thing going again and let everyone catch up, because yes, it so big I have to go back and reread it myself to keep it all straight.

I'll check for the back story for Dart, I may have it still. And dresses for Winnowill, well now, that should be grand!

but now, for the next piece of Day Six, written by me, Wiseshaman


Day Six - Part Ten


She sat on the edge of the bed in nothing but her white wingtip shirt, all her other clothes folded neatly on the chair in the corner. The shirt was buttoned only at the middle, and only with one, while the cuffs were undone also. The ride to the cabin in the mountains didn't ease her mind, or spirit, one bit but when she walked through the door everything disappeared. The stress of the note, the meaning of the vision, and the consequences of a certain proprietress weighed like a heavy stone on her shoulders until she crossed the threshold of the cabin...and then there was nothing but relief.

The large hearth in the main room was all ready burning and had the large main room warm as she passed through it, stepping past two large bear skins that lay by the hearth, and walking directly to the back room where a large brass bed took up most of the space. She loved that bed, the shiny brass glowing in the light, and knowing he bought it just for her and her alone made it just a little more special. He would have been fine sleeping on a slab of rock with a few pine needles for a pillow, but he wouldn't let her, so the bed was bought back east and shipped carefully under wraps to Two-Moons. She didn't even know he had done such a thing taking great care to ensure the bed was hidden away from her keen eyes. The sheets, the very ones she ran her hand across at the moment, were bought from a single shop back east too. He had searched long and hard for them, for a certain pattern and type. They were silky smooth, like a shirt, with large blue flowers hand stitched all over and a ruffled hem. She looked over to the large panel quilt hanging on a stand and wondered how long he had searched for that special item.

Timmain took a deep breath and felt her heart warm with the heat of her love and not the fire in the hearth. He would be back soon, and she needed him this day. He was nothing like she had envisioned a lover of her's to be, large and brutish yet as gentle as lamb inside the cabin. They were as different as night and day, but they were two of a kind too, both wielding power out in the real world and having to live solitary lives to do their jobs. She keeping the law in Two-Moons and nearby towns, not to mention being a member of the Nine, and he running a ranch full of hands who were mostly dangerous outlaws hiding away from past transgressions. Yet, here in the cabin, they could be what they wanted and needed for each other, simple and loving. Here they could be two souls seeking solace with the other.

The front door opened with its usual creak, almost like the bell at Brownberry's restaurant. She heard him at the front cleaning off his boots and her heart sped up just a bit and warmed a little more. After a minute she heard his large boots begin to walk toward the back bedroom, each heavy footfall growing louder, signaling his approach.

And then he was in the doorway, his large body taking up all the space in the entryway and his frock coat covered with dust. He took his large hat off his head and leaned up against the jam staring at her. A small twinge of excitement ran through Timmain's body, like the feeling of being out on the prairie during a thunderstorm with lighting dancing along the clouds, as he spoke with a deep soft voice.

"Is it warm enough for you?"

"Yes my love, it is more than warm enough now that you're here with me."

Olbar stepped away from the jam and laid his hat on the chair with her clothes, his smile inviting and tempting at the same time. "Then just let me wash up-"

"No," Timmain said with a shake of her head and reaching out for him, "I don't mind the smell and I don't want to wait anymore."

The foreman of the Blue Mountain Ranch nodded and slid his frock coat off waiting just long enough to lay it on the chair. He crossed the room with two strides and took his love's hand and helped her to stand from the edge of the bed. She felt him put his arms around her waist as she undid the buttons on his work shirt revealing a large muscular chest full of brown hair. She ran her hand through it reveling in its feel as he gently picked her up from the floor letting her legs dangle. Timmain looked up into Olbar's eyes for a second losing herself before kissing him deeply as she heard the fire crackle in the hearth.


Dart saw the pair approach and had a feeling something was up, but wasn't about to take even a small guess as to what. He turned and started off away from the tracker looking for dried wood for the campfire while calling out over his shoulder.

"I'll stop by and make sure you're okay later Red."

"I'll look for that Dart." Redlance laughed as Nightfall and Crescent stopped by him.

"You two make up?" His fiance asked.

"Yeah, don't know why he felt the need, there was nothing to apologize for." The tracker claimed.

Crescent just shook her head at the elf she loved, at the fact his heart was so damn big as to forgive such a heinous remark. "Well, Dart knew his mistake and he took ownership of it, like Pa would have wanted him too."

Redlance's eyes squinted and his forehead furrowed, as if in deep thought before he spoke up with a look of discovery. "You know, your father and Bearclaw have said some pretty nasty-"

"Ah," Crescent said stopping him with a raised finger, "you have a better chance of getting me on stage with Rose doing a dance then those two ever have of saying they're sorry to one another."

"And then there's Longbranch and Treestump-"

"Please," Nightfall exclaimed setting the saddlebag on the ground and opening it up to reach inside, "those two are like you and Dart. They'll stay mad at each other for about five minutes and then laugh together other over a cup of coffee. I've seen it too many times before.

"All right," Redlance said with a smile.

Nightfall stood up with a canteen and bandana, which she gave to Crescent while speaking up. "Okay big fella, off with the shirt. I want to see those ribs."

"My ribs are fine Nightfall." Redlance claimed raising his hands.

"No, Treestump had a message from the Sheriff back in Silver Springs and it said you're ribs were busted. Now, I love you and I know you and I want to take care of you, so take off the damn shirt and let me see your ribs." Nightfall demanded, but oddly with love in her eyes.

Redlance only laughed again while talking off his velveteen shirt, but as soon as his right arm lifted though he bit down in pain and both Nightfall and Crescent saw it as clear as light through a crystal. He gingerly lowered his arms and finished pulling the shirt off as Crescent hissed at the sight. The tracker's side was a black bruise, from just a few inches above his buckskin pants to almost his arm pit. Nightfall shook her head and reached out slowly, gently touching the skin while whispering.

"No good asking if it hurts, I can see that. We'll get you cleaned up and bind this just in case."

"All right," Redlance agreed noting it was useless to fight.

"I think Rose may need to take a look before we wrap him." Crescent offered wetting down the bandana.

"Sure, I'll go get her." Nightfall said leaning over and giving the tracker a quick kiss before heading back to the others.

As she turned, Nightfall gave Crescent a small wink and nod of reassurance. Everything would be okay it said, just trust in your heart. Crescent was so nervous all of the sudden her heart felt like it was bouncing around in her chest and her hand shook a little as she poured out some more water on the all ready wet bandana. She reached up and touched the cloth to Redlance's neck, which made the tracker jump a bit all of the sudden.

"Whew, that's cold."

"I'm sorry!" Crescent giggled pulling wet bandana back.

The tracker laughed with her, but the moment didn't relieve Crescent's anxiety. She smiled and put the cloth to his face and neck washing away the dried mud with small slow strokes. The clearing got quiet, so quiet that she heard a squirrel up in the trees somewhere running from limb to limb. A bird called out for its mate, a shrill but beautiful song for its lost lover. Crescent's heart still beat wild like a Mustang running hard on the prairie and she fought to keep it under control. The words were there, just on the tip of her tongue, ready to be said. How hard was it to say I love you to one damn elf, maybe too hard when you're scared of what he might say back. She was still fighting with her tongue when she heard Redlance whisper, low and devoted.

"Crescent, I need to tell you something."

She looked up into his gentle eyes, those eyes that promised to keep you from falling or getting hurt, and before she knew it the words were being spoken. Crescent could feel her mother's strength run in her as she told Redlance how she felt and her father's deep heart as she opened herself up to him in the most intimate way she knew.

"I love you Redlance...I love you with everything that I am."

There, it was done, and not like some rambling idiot. It was as calm as the gentle breeze which blew across the branches and through the trees, to end up rustling the leaves just ever so lightly. And Crescent might have thought she was done, the confession full and finished, but her heart was crammed with emotions that needed to be freed. No sir, so many years of keeping her love inside, locked away, just wouldn't abide a simple sentence. Crescent kept talking, words from her soul it seemed, as she reached up and rubbed his cheek lovingly.

"I have been head over heels since that day you came into the restaurant and crashed into that chair. I haven't been able to set myself or my heart on another, and believe me I have tried, because just like Nightfall I don't want anyone else, just like her there's only one I want to lay with. I also know you two are set to marry and there's probably no room for me, but I had to tell you what I've been feeling for so long. Hell, I'll end up living by myself in the woods with fifty cats and children running by screaming 'there's that old creepy cat lady with all them cats! Eww, stay away or she'll turn you into a cat too!'"

They both laughed a little at the last, small and low, before the clearing went quiet again except for the breeze. She looked down to the ground letting go of his gaze, of him she felt as her mind tried to begin to move on. Her heart would never leave him, but it was done Crescent thought, and now maybe she could go off and be content knowing she had said what needed to be said. Now maybe she could be at ease being alone-

"I love you too Crescent. I have for a long time now."

Those fabulous words echoed, or seemed to, in her ears like bells. It was music pure and joyous, but did he really say it? She looked up to him with a fresh tear on her cheek whispering, afraid to talk any louder because it might shatter everything.

"Say it again, please? I need to hear it again, of I might go crazy if I don't."

"I love you Crescent." Redlance said pulling her into him. She felt his arm slip around her waist and gently guide her into him, one low and one high, as her own arm went around him and the other folded onto chest. It was how she hoped it would feel, warm and right.

"You've always been around us Crescent, always a part of us. That's when I started to love you, from watching you and Nightfall to just having you near us all the time. Your part of our family Crescent, part of us, and I'll never let you be alone again, from here on out. I promise you."

It wasn't some trick of the wind or her ears hearing what she wanted to hear Crescent thought, reveled in. It was his heart, and it was hers too. She felt another tear roll down her cheek as her heart bulged at the seams from love it felt like. And then it just popped when asked her what she never thought would be asked.

"Will you stay with us Crescent?"

The world spun a little off kilter and if it wasn't for him holding her up Crescent might have hit the ground. She took a deep breath and pulled back just enough to look up and into his eyes, the safest place she knew, and whispered.

"Are you asking me to marry you?"

"Yes, if we can do that. I'm not sure of the law, I'll have to ask Mr. Longbranch, but it doesn't matter. We'll do something, even if I have to get Black Feather to wave his arms to the sky and call on the spirits to make us one. I'll make it special."

"You'd do that for me?" Crescent asked not expecting answer.

The tracker only smiled and nodded once. She looked deep into his eyes then stood on her toes and kissed him long and sweet breaking only to say one word, a single breath.

"Yes,"

The two stood for a minute in the quiet and the breeze just enjoying the warmth of holding each other, and then a small hand touched Crescent's shoulder. She looked up to see her sister, Nightfall, standing by them with a warm smile and a small tear. The horse whisperer's daughter smiled back and reached out rubbing her sister's cheek.

"You knew he was going to tell me...you knew didn't you?"

Nightfall stepped in hugging them both with one arm and placing her head Redlance's shoulder. She put her forehead to Crescent's and whispered low and full of love. "The hard part was getting you two alone long enough to finally just talk. Now we can be a family and be happy."

Crescent smiled with joy then leaned in and kissed Nightfall giving a small squeeze to her family before speaking. "Do we still need to get Rose?"

"I sent Dart for her, told him to take his time getting her so they should be here in a minute." Nightfall replied.

"Then we have a minute, our lucky day." Redlance chimed in holding both tightly.

"Then we have time to tell one more secret," Nightfall spoke looking up into her beloved's eyes, "about Tyleet."

The tracker's eyes squinted with deep thought and his lips tightened as Redlance looked at Nightfall while answering. "What about Tyleet? Is she upset with me?"

"No my love, she's perfectly happy with you. She could never be angry with her father...her real father."

As soon as the words were out on the air Redlance reacted. His mouth slowly opened and his eyes went like saucers just as slow, like the information was sinking slowly into his brain. Crescent began to get scared at the reaction and asked if he was okay as Nightfall explained calmly.

"I wanted to tell you so many times but I didn't want you to marry me out of some foolish sense of obligation. Then the damn war came along. Please don't be angry with anyone but me."

Still Redlance didn't say anything, just stared at her with that lost expression. Nightfall closed her eyes as she heard Crescent call to him again. She could feel the bracelet on her wrist, the one that belonged to Redlance's mother, the one that meant he wanted to marry her and knew it was gone now. She had lost him, lost the bes-

"I've always suspected, knew deep down in my heart that Tyleet was mine, but I was too afraid to ask...to scared you might say she wasn't mine."

Those words were relief, a release that had held Nightfall in fear for so long. She opened her eyes and looked up to him again as he whispered.

"All I've ever wanted is a family, and now I have a family, so I can't be angry or upset with anyone about that, not a soul."

"Yes you have your family now..." Nightfall told him putting her head back on his shoulder feeling Crescent put hold her tight.

The three stood that way until they heard someone approach from the camp and then Cutter appeared with Rose just to his side, both holding hands like the young lovers they were. The Major stopped and looked at the sight for a second before smiling warmly.

"Looks like what needed to be said finally got said."

"I have a daughter." Redlance said back with a smile that stretched across his face form ear to ear.

"I think a lot was said." Leetah remarked with her own smile.

"Tyleet?"

Cutter asked being the only one confused, that was till Nightfall and Crescent explained the situation with the cub as Leetah worked on Redlance. He looked upset at first, angry that all those years Red had to live without the knowledge and bond of the truth, but then he stepped back and thought about it. The tracker had always been a father to Tyleet, along with Bearclaw amazingly, and the truth was never needed or asked for during all those long years. Redlance would always be her father, now and forever, and there was no truth needed to force him to be. In the end it was love, and not the truth, that made him 'Papa'.

Leetah stepped back after binding the tracker's ribs then looked to him with a smile. "That should help you feel better Senor."

"It'll be a few days before I'll be fit as fiddle I guess." Redlance said as Crescent helped him put his shirt on.

"You know what, how come you didn't hurt Cutter? It seems everyone took a nick or a scrape and you don't have a scratch?" Nightfall asked helping Redlance to pull his long hair out of his collar.

"Oh he did, wait, I thought Rose took care of your shoulder?" The Tracker asked suddenly concerned.

Leetah turned to Cutter with a look of shock that quickly turned to agitation. She pointed to his red shirt and demanded calmly, assuredly. "Take off your shirt so I may see the wound Major."

"Now Rose it's not that bad, certainly not as bad as Red's ribs-"

"Nightfall!" Leetah called out to her friend.

"Okay, okay, no need to strip me bare here in the woods." Cutter mumbled unbuttoning his shirt.


Longbranch had finished getting the spits sharpened and ready for the fire, and even stoked it back to life, as the group came out of the woods behind the wagon. He held back a laugh as Rose led Cutter up to the campfire holding Redlance's Bowie knife in her hand. She stopped by the fire and put the blade by the rocks that ringed it letting the metal heat up.

Then he saw the large wound in the Major's shoulder and winced.

"Joyleaf, looks like your boy took a round back in the shack."

"What?" Both Joyleaf and Bearclaw exclaimed.

They ran over and each had a different reaction. Joyleaf, like a true mother, muttered under breath with worry while Bearclaw only shook his head with a laugh.

"That ain't nothing, looks like a through and through!"

"It looks bad enough to me!" Joyleaf erupted.

Bearclaw stepped in close and took her hand speaking low. "All right sweetheart, all right. Our boy's okay...he's going to be okay."

"I know that, its just we got him back from that terrible war to almost lose him to some foolish posse!" Joyleaf hissed.

"I ain't letting anyone take him away from us, anyone." Bearclaw reassured her with a squeeze of his hand.

Joyleaf didn't say a word, only smiled at her husband then turned back to watch Leetah work on her son. The wound was swollen and angry looking, but it didn't look infected like Shale's. The Major was lucky Leetah thought as she opened the wound up with the hot blade to clean it out. As she did, Longbranch stood back eyeing the work while Redlance walked up and talked quietly so as not to draw attention.

"Mr. Longbranch, can I ask you a question?"

"What kind of question son?" The lawyer inquired without turning to look at the tracker.

"It's a...legal matter."

The subject did what nothing else could and caught Longbranch's full attention. "What is it son? You worried about any of this?"

Leetah finished up with cleaning the wound and was busy pressing a bandage to it helping the small hole to clot. She didn't look away from Cutter or his blue eyes as Joyleaf spoke up.

"Well he be okay Rose?"

"Oh yes, the Major will be perfectly fine. I could not lose him now Senora, not after I finally found him." Leetah said with a loving smile.

Cutter only smiled and reached up to cover her hand with his. There was no need for words as more emotion passed between them in a single touch then could be said, until Longbranch broke their connection with a yelp.

"Both of them, at the same time?"


Aroree was glad to be out of the Mercantile this afternoon, especially after the cantankerous visit by Mr. Guttlekraw. The troll strode in with an angry look and ordered Greymung to the back where it only took a few minutes for things to boil, and when they did it overflowed. She couldn't make out a word the two were screeching at each other, but they were harsh and loud. Then Mr. Guttlekraw threw open the door with a crash and flew out of the back heading for the front door with the longest stride his legs would do, but before he left the store the troll spun back and gave one last order to Greymung.

"Put a halt to it today Greymung, this very afternoon son!"

"Yeah, yeah," was all the mercantile owner spat waving off the Mayor.

When the store fell quiet after a minute, Greymung disappeared into the back then reappeared a second later holding a bottle of Pike's second best and a glass. He poured two fingers and hit the glass back, slugging the clear liquid with a gulp that set his face with a grimace. Then he turned to his clerk and spoke quickly with what sounded like a lot of pain.

"How much do those no good elves Rainsong and Woodlock owe?"

Aroree looked it up in the ledger and gave out the amount, which caused Greymung to wince and pour three fingers into the glass for this round. The troll slugged back the clear liquid and grimaced even harder before speaking.

"I need you to go the restaurant and tell that whiny whelp and his wife that all collections are hereby and forthwith halted. The house and land will not be taken in lieu of the debt."

Aroree gasped with happiness, her sad eyes perking up. "They can keep their house."

"That's what I just said, didn't I! Damn I need to get drunk." Greymung spat opting to just take a drink straight from the bottle this time, gulping by the glass just wasn't cutting the pain fast enough.

So Aroree left the store, and was walking briskly down the walkway humming a small tune happy for the first time in a day. The sun was high, the air was fresh, and there was the Bounty Hunter suddenly stepping up out of the street right in front of her. He was dressed in his usual black frock coat and vest with a white wingtip shirt. His hat was wide and he tipped as she approached. He was unbelievably handsome to her, with the smile and long black hair stirring in the breeze.

"Buenos noches Senora Aroree."

The disarming smile and the thick accent, it all helped to take her breath away. No one like him had ever taken an interest in bland old Aroree and it was taking a good bit of concentration to keep from blushing openly.

"Um, good afternoon sir, how may I help you?"

"My name is Rayek and I have a question Senora, an inquiry that stems from a personal nature for myself, and one of which you may be the only help I can find." Rayek said stepping close.

He was still as handsome as all get out to her, but Aroree felt a small twinge of fear that caused her attraction for him to fade a bit. "What ever do you mean Mr, Rayek?"

The Bounty Hunter looked at her with his gold eyes and Aroree felt a small swoon start as he spoke in a whisper just loud enough for her to hear. "I need to find Senora Kahvi. I have to speak with her about some acquaintances she was known to have and you might know where I can look for her."

"What makes you think I know anything about Kahvi sir?"

"I know you have met her in the upstairs room at the Mortician's house Senora Aroree. I saw the clothes you left behind in the drawers and I spoke with P.W."

The apprehension that Aroree felt at the question exploded at the mention of the room where she met Kahvi so many times. She reached up and nervously touched her neck and the move didn't go unnoticed. Rayek turned down his stare and backed down the questioning in turn, but he would not go away.

"Senora Aroree, I have no intention of telling anyone about the room or your relationship with Senora Kahvi. Please, I only need to speak with her and I think you know where she goes to be alone you might say."

Aroree stood on the walkway staring at Rayek for a minute as the breeze whipped up little whirling dust clouds in the street. She wasn't sure what to do, keep the trust of her friend Kahvi or help Rayek. He looked desperate, in a beguiling way, but there was the thing between her and the free spirit. She agonized for another minute before deciding on what to do, a choice she was still selling to herself.

"Do you promise not to hurt her and that you only want to talk?" Aroree asked quietly.

"Si Senora, I only wish to talk."

Aroree looked around and then back to Rayek before talking. "I have to deliver a message to Rainsong in the diner, but then I'll take you to her."

"Gracias Senora, I am in your debt." Rayek responded with a tip of his hat and a wave of his hand.

She only smiled and blushed from the gesture noting the elf could sweep her off her feet as easy a father. Aroree just hoped Kahvi was at Urda's because if she wasn't then her dear friend might be in some real trouble.


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PostSubject: ElfWest Day Six - Prelude One   Fri May 04, 2018 1:12 pm

And now, for the next piece of Day Six, written by me, Wiseshaman

Two Moons welcomes two new arrivals from back East...


ElfWest Day Six - Prelude One

The sun, slowly dropping to the horizon, provided a sharp back drop for Rain as the last stage coach of the day pulled into town. It was a little late, by almost half-an-hour, but the doc just waited patiently by the depot. As soon as the operator of coach opened the door for the passengers to exit Rain was pleasantly surprised. The first one out the door was his nephew, one Mender from back east, followed closely by a small but quite striking lady. She was an elf, maybe just an inch over five feet tall with skin that was just a little darker than the Rose who sang at the Hammer and Tongs, but where the Rose had auburn curly hair this lady had black straight hair that seemed to shimmer brown in the fading sun light as it fell down her back to her waist and feathered at the edges with two simple long spun braids. Her yellow dress, which looked homemade and a fine example of needlework, hugged a slender body and when she turned to look at Rain he looked deep into a pair a deep blue eyes.

The driver of the stagecoach handed down a large carpet bag to the operator who dropped it on the walkway followed by another that Rain recognized as Mender's bag. He walked over and stopped by his nephew keeping one eye on the small female.

"Hello there Mender, how was the trip?"

"It was a little bumpy, really dusty, but I'm as good as a plug nickel uncle!" He answered enthusiastically.

The doc only smiled at the boy noticing now the lady's eyes looked green under a pair of eyebrows that were neither too small nor too thick. All in all, the hair and eyes seemed a perfect fit for her heart shaped face. She looked around holding up a single gloved hand to block out the sun her bonnet did not, trying to find something or someone it seemed. Rain took the opportunity to show some hospitality.

"Excuse me ma'am, are you waiting on someone?"

The lady looked up and Rain suddenly felt like a giant towering over her as she spoke with beautiful smile. "Oh no, I'm looking for Brownberry's Restaurant. Can you show me where it's located?"

"Well it's right over here, but I was heading there myself with my nephew to get him some dinner. May I show you the way?"

"That would be very hospitable sir." She said with a voice that sounded strong despite her small frame

"My name is Rain, I'm the doctor in these parts."

"Good afternoon Mr. Rain, my name is StarShine."

"It's nice to meet you Miss StarShine, let me get your bag." Rain offered tipping his hat before picking up her carpet bag, noting it was a little heavy. She was staying a while he surmised, maybe indefinitely.

He took Mender's bag in the other hand and the trio headed off to the restaurant, crossing the street while minding the last few riders heading out of town for parts unknown and a slow moving wagon. They made the other side and stepped onto the walkway just in front of the restaurant, the big block lettering on the glass of the door stating so. Rain put Mender's smaller bag under his arm then opened the door for StarShine and his nephew as manners demanded. Once they entered, he stepped in and directed the pair, who looked a little lost, to a spot open at the counter. Mender jumped up into the chair while StarShine slid in after tucking her dress underneath her.

Brownberry walked over with a coffee pot and two cups. She put them out in front of the two adults and began to pour as Rain spoke up.

"So, with Longbranch out of town saving Redlance and the others it's easy to deduce the coffee is drinkable today."

"Yes sir, it won't try to fight back." Brownberry remarked with a wink.

StarShine let out a small laugh that sounded like music, but then stifled it with a gloved hand as manners once again dictated.

"Oh go ahead, let it out ma'am. We like to live around here." Foxfur called walking back to the counter with a stack of dishes.

"I'll keep that in mind ma'am." StarShine said back.

"Oh, now where are my manners. Mrs. Brownberry, this is StarShine and my nephew on the end, Mender." Rain spoke up after taking a sip of his coffee.

"Nice to meet you StarShine and Mender, would care for some stew with fresh beef tips?" Brownberry asked raising an eyebrow to the boy.

"Yes Ma'am!" Mender said excitedly, his curly blond hair shaking.

The owner of the restaurant walked back into the kitchen returning a few minutes later with three bowls of Stew and biscuits. She handed out the bowls while talking up a storm still.

"Well you be staying around for awhile StarShine?"

"Yes Mrs. Brownberry, I'm taking a job over at the Father Tree Press with Aurek." She answered.

"Well, another writer in town. We're getting as big as back east!" Rain spouted.

"It doesn't look like back east." Mender pointed out.

"And thank the High Ones for that!" Foxfur yelped walking out from the back heading for a table.

Again StarShine laughed at the joke, but this time she didn't cover her mouth. She ate in small bites and dipped her biscuit in the excellent stew. The conversation was light and StarShine learned that Cutter and Redlance and Skywise had ridden out a couple of days before and wandered into trouble in Silver Springs. A crew rode out the night before in the pouring rain to meet them halfway, hopefully to help. StarShine listened intently noting all the pertinent points. This would make a perfect little dime store novel she thought, a great start for her at the Father Tree Press. After the meal was done StarShine wiped her mouth with the napkin in her lap and sighed contently.

"Now tell me that wasn't some of the best stew you've ever had." Rain asked.

"It was delicious." StarShine said with that smile that could knock a man flat.

"Yes it was!" Mender added.

"Well as long as you're happy Mr. Mender!" Brownberry exclaimed with a wink.

The group laughed one more time before StarShine spoke up. "Where's the Father Tree Press Mr. Rain? I wanted to stop in on Mr. Aurek before tomorrow to tell him I made it to town."

"Now Mrs. StarShine," Rain said putting his coffee cup down on the counter before continuing on, "first call me Rain, not Mr. Rain. We're kind of informal around here. Second, I'll go ahead and walk you there so you don't get lost."

"Thank you Rain." StarShine said with a nod.

The Doc paid for all three bowls of stew before StarShine could reach for her small purse and then he had her bag and Mender's in his hands and moving for the door. She could only wave at Brownberry, thank her again for the wonderful stew, and follow Rain and Mender out the door onto the walkway. The trio started across the street again as StarShine spoke up.

"Is there a room at the Boarding House?"

"I seem to remember a few fella's moving out this morning. I'm sure Savah could find something for you." Rain answered as they stepped back up onto the walkway on the other side of the street.

The door in front of StarShine was marked with the same black block letters as the restaurant stating this was the offices of the Father Tree Press. Rain opened the door for her again, letting her step through and into the office. The inside was just as she pictured from the letter she received from Mr. Aurek with the room split in two by a banister, with a gate in the middle to allow access. The back half was the press, two of them, which took up most of the space, and a wall lined with book cases, each shelf holding a leather bound journal. By one of the presses StarShine saw the elf she had been corresponding with working diligently to make copy after copy of the local newspaper. Rain called out over the sound of the machinery.

"Aurek, you got a visitor!"

He stopped running the press, it was operated by a foot pedal StarShine noted, and turned to look at them. He was wearing a white shirt and dress pants with leather shoes, all covered by a long apron that was stained with black ink. She noted there wasn't a spot on Aurek's fine clothes, only on the grey apron as he stepped through the gate to greet them.

"Oh my goodness, good evening doctor!"

"Good evening to you too Aurek, Miss StarShine's here to see you."

"Ah, Miss StarShine, it is certainly nice to finally meet you." Aurek said as excitedly as Mender was just a minute ago while extending his hand

"It's nice to meet you finally too Mr. Aurek." StarShine offered taking his hand.

The shake was small with only one small motion before they let go. Rain put her bag on the floor then spoke while tipping his hat. "Well, I'll leave you two alone. It was nice to meet Miss StarShine and welcome to town."

"Thank you for such a cordial welcome Rain. I look forward to seeing you again." StarShine said with a nod of her head.

She watched the pair leave, even Mender waved to her which she waved back, before turning to Mr. Aurek. He motioned to the long table in the corner across the room from a desk offering her a seat by pulling it out. She tucked her dress under her legs again before sitting and looking at Mr. Aurek as he sat.

This was it she thought, the start of what she hoped was her new life.

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Sun May 06, 2018 1:40 pm

I had all forgotten about Mender and Starshine. Remind me, did I post that picture of Starshine on this thread?
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PostSubject: ElfWest Day Six - Part Eleven   Tue May 08, 2018 9:54 pm

Quote :
Remind me, did I post that picture of Starshine on this thread?

I didn't see it when I did a quick look-see Rainflower, but I could have missed it.


And now, for the next piece of Day Six, written by our favorite word-smith, KRWordgazer

This takes place the same evening that Bearclaw and the others are meeting Cutter and Skywise with Shale and Eyes High in the wagon. . .


Day Six - Part Eleven

Moonshade sat at the table in the farmhouse kitchen, doing the accounts for the dress shop. The house was silent. Dart and Crescent had gone with Bearclaw and Joyleaf to meet Cutter coming back from Silver Springs. Chitter was asleep upstairs in her little iron bedstead. Moonshade thought about how the little girl had knelt by the bed tonight, her bare feet poking out under the edge of her nightgown, and prayed to the High Ones. "Please keep Dart and Crescent safe," Chitter had whispered, "and please-- please send Papa home." Moonshade had hugged her little girl tightly, tightly, before putting her to bed.

Chitter had always insisted on calling him "Papa," instead of "Pa," like her older brother and sister did. It was as if she wanted a special name, something just for the two of them. Strongbow had liked it, too, though he never spoke about it.. It was in the way he smiled when she said it. Moonshade smiled too, remembering that smile.

The clock ticked, loud in the silence. The black iron cookstove was cooling now, the last of the wood inside it falling into ash, the ash turning grey and still. Moonshade didn't get up, didn't put any more wood in. She looked around the empty room, at the churn against the wall with the butter molds above it, at the ticking clock on the shelf, at the saucepans hanging from their hooks.

It was too quiet. Usually Crescent sat beside her on nights like this, the scratching of her pencil as she did the farm books making a counterpoint to Moonshade's on the dress shop's. Sometimes Dart would be there, whittling on a block of wood, talking about prisoners at the jail, or men they were looking for. And-- and Strongbow would be there, mending harness or patching his boots, his head bent forward over his task, frowning in concentration. He didn't need to say a word for his presence to fill the room.

Moonshade remembered when Strongbow had brought her here, to his parents' old homestead. His mother had still been living then, and she'd moved into the room that was Chitter's now, leaving the big bedroom with its four-poster bed for her son and his new bride. The night Strongbow brought her home, his mother had gone to stay with friends. Moonshade remembered her new husband's strong arms picking her up as if she weighed no more than a child, how he'd carried her so carefully up the stairs, tenderly laying her on the bed, on her bridal-chest linens that had never known a bed before.

She had run her fingers through his hair. . .

The accounts on the table in front of her blurred. Moonshade pushed them aside and let her head fall down on her arms without a sound, her shoulders shaking.

There was a soft knock on the door, and Moonshade looked up, swiping at the tears on her cheeks. Clearbrook's silver braids appeared in the opening as the school mistress gently pushed open the door. "Hello," Clearbrook called softly. "I thought you might need company tonight--"

She broke off suddenly as Moonshade's face came into view. "Oh, my dear--" Clearbrook rushed into the kitchen and took a chair next to Moonshade's, putting her arms around her friend. Moonshade, not caring for once about being strong, leaned into the embrace and rested her forehead against Clearbrook's shoulder. The two sat like that in silence for a number of minutes.

After a while Clearbrook murmured. "I know-- I know. When I lost One-Eye--"

Moonshade pushed away from her and sat up, stiffly. "Strongbow is alive," she said flatly.

Clearbrook gazed at her in silence for a moment. Moonshade could not bear it. "It has only been a few days!" she snapped. "Would you have me give up-- already?"

"Oh, no," Clearbrook whispered. "No." She sat in silence for a moment, then said, "It is only me being foolish. I -- I only wish for you to have the peace that I have found. But it is only time that has given it-- only time." She laughed a little, brokenly. "Do you know, at times I am still certain I can feel him, as if he were right there in the room with me?"

Moonshade nodded. If it came to that, she could feel Strongbow right here, right now. Like he was standing right behind her, about to put his arms around her.

Then, all at once, there was a stab of pain, deep inside her head. She cried out.

"Moonshade! What is it?" Clearbrook spoke sharply, her forehead creased with worry as she took her friend's arm.  

"Strongbow," Moonshade said faintly. "Someone -- hurt him. Just now."

Clearbrook took a deep breath. "Oh, Moonshade-- I know it hurts. Sometimes grief and worry take us like that. Like a real, physical pain."

Moonshade shook her head, glaring. "I know what I felt! It wasn't just me!"

But now the certainty was gone, just as quickly as it had come. "Or-- perhaps you're right," Moonshade said tiredly. "Perhaps I--"

She trailed off. Then she raised her hands-- a quiet, desperate movement-- and let them fall back into her lap. "Oh, Clearbrook, what I am to do?"

"I don't know, honey. I don't know."

Around dawn, Moonshade fell into a troubled sleep. Clearbrook brought some blankets and put them down by the stove, easing Moonshade down onto them. She went to leave a note on Rainsong's door to come get Chitter and give her breakfast as soon as she was awake. And then, her heart deeply troubled, Clearbrook turned for home.

"Oh, High Ones," she murmured as she let herself into her little house, not far from Moonshade's ranch, "Let him be found, or come home. If I have to watch her live through what I had to. . . "

She blinked, hard, and found control again. At least there was no school to teach tomorrow-- she was exhausted. Clearbrook climbed into bed and, alone like her friend, fell into an uneasy sleep.

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Sat May 12, 2018 1:31 pm

I don't think I had yet. But anyway, here she is. Starshine. At least how I managed to imagine her.


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PostSubject: ElfWest Day Six - Part Twelve   Wed May 16, 2018 11:19 pm

Ah, now there's our Starshine, thanks for putting that up Rainflower

And now, for the next piece of Day Six, written by me, Wiseshaman


Day Six - Part Twelve

It's the next piece of the Henry Saga where John meets up with the boss, Ahdri comes clean, and the fight with the Miners is brewing up...


He had hoped to cross through the foyer of the boarding house quickly on his way to his room, unnoticed, but Ahdri stopped John Lee just short of the stairs with an abrupt question.

"Good afternoon Mr. Pettimore, I trust you had a good ride."

John Lee looked over to the small elf and the expression in her large eyes reminded him of someone who had just fallen in love with a kitten. He smiled back wondering why in the hell someone like little Ahdri would be concerned with someone like him.

"It was pleasantly fine Mrs. Ahdri, pleasantly fine."

"That's nice, do you need clean sheets or maybe another pillow?" She asked with a hopeful smile.

John Lee only tipped his hat with his small smile and declined the offer before heading up the stairs. "No ma'am, I'm quite set with my room and my sheets. I'll be back down for dinner later."

"Yes Sir Mr. Pettimore." Ahdri answered with a whisper watching him leave.

She didn't see or hear her grandmother approach from behind and even jumped a little when Savah's voice suddenly sounded. "Granddaughter, what are you doing?"

"Oh," Ahdri exclaimed then gathered herself, "I was just checking on Mr. Pettimore is all, making sure he's comfortable."

"Really," Savah remarked walking to the small desk and checking the ledger to see the status of the rooms, "it looked more like you were trying to force those sheets on Mr. Pettimore."

"No Grandmother, I would never be a pest to Mr. Pettimore." Ahdri quickly explained.

"I see, then why did you ask him if he needed another pillow?" Savah questioned her precious granddaughter all ready assured of the answer.

Ahdri swallowed then whispered low so only Savah could hear. "Do you think people are evil Grandmother?"

The question opened the door and Savah didn't flinch walking through. "I think everyone comes into this world innocent Ahdri and life makes you what you are. There are some though who walk a dark path because they chose to."

"I think those people can be changed...saved even, maybe" Ahdri added.

Savah only starred at her Granddaughter with a warm smile. She was worried about her and this Mr. Pettimore, there was something dark Savah could sense in the human, but at least her little Ahdri wasn't afraid to try and find the good in someone. When you stop looking for the good in a person, be it elf or human or troll, is the day you stop trying to be good yourself Savah thought.


The door to his room was closed, but John Lee knew someone had picked the lock and gone in. He could sense it before his hand touched the knob. He reached under his coat and drew out his 'toothpick', a long slender knife with a small finger guard, while listening intently. There was no sound on the other side of the door, but old John Lee knew better. He gripped the metal knob quietly with his leather gloved hand making sure the metal mechanism didn't jingle or make a sound, and then a lithe voice called out, from inside his room.

"Hello John, I've been waiting for you come home."

Damn, it was her, the albino thought as he quickly opened the door and stepped in. His eyes, behind the dark glasses, locked onto the female sitting in the only chair in the room not needing to adjust the growing shadows. She was sitting sideways in the chair leaning up against the back with one arm draped over the top dressed in a long brown skirt and yellow shirt, which was unbuttoned low showing a plump cleavage. A pair of black leather boots with neatly folded stockings on top sat just to the side of the chair. It would be easy to get lost in the blue lapis eyes and dark brown hair, but then John Lee knew the Djuin's daughter, knew she was as dangerous as rattler out there on the plains.

"I hope you don't mind John. I took my shoes off to give my feet a chance to breath." She said, almost purring.

"No Miss Kaiya, don't mind a bit." He replied with a small smile walking around to the other side of the bed, away from her.

She slid around in the chair to face him, to put that cleavage on display he thought as she called out to him. "Where have you been all afternoon John Lee?"

"I delivered your message ma'am, the one for Mr. Guttlekraw. Oh, by the way, he's going to stop sending you all those letters."

"Well that's good news, but it shouldn't have taken all this time John Lee."

"No ma'am, it didn't. I also had to impress on the troll to stop harassing one of the four elves who's unknowingly working for us." He remarked unbuttoning the top clasp of his shirt.

"Oh yes, those four precious little elves, have they broke the code on the map? Do they know where my gold is?" The Djun's daughter asked with a tinge of excitement.

"We know a man back east broke the code for Mr. Aurek, and we know the girls have the map, so my guess is they know what the map says. Now, do they know what to do with what it says, well that I don't know."

The lady pouted, like a five year old who didn't get a sucker, while speaking. "I'm starting to grow a little impatient here John Lee. My brother's coffers are empty and Djunsland is just sitting there ready for me to take it my handsome assassin. I want my father's country, my legacy, and I want it now."

"Then take it, I don't see why you're waiting in the first place ma'am." John Lee countered.

Kaiya laughed, cackled like a witch, before answering the question. "In a bloody coup like my brother, oh sir you have no idea how politics work, do you?"

"No ma'am, I know my limitations and I choose to live inside of them."

"You can take a country by force John, which opens the door for every blood thirsty power mongering zealot to come out of the woodwork forcing you to hope the Palace guard and the strength of your arm will keep you alive from one minute to the next. You have to have every scrap of food tested, sleep with one eye open, and live in constant fear of the next person who wants to take over."

"And that's not for you, is it ma'am?" John asked unbuttoning his cuffs.

"Oh no, I would have no problem killing every living thing around my brother to take control, be assured of that. No, I'm saying why resort to blood letting and killing when gold can do the work for you. A single trunk filled to the top with gold bars would buy a lot of influence in a broke Djunsland, yet fifty can buy you the whole damn county, Army and all."

He looked in those blue orbs and could imagine the crazy just floating around in there, squirming around in her brain like a worm. He had been around enough crazy to recognize the look, in his profession it was an occupational hazard. John Lee didn't respond, he knew how the world worked, from the halls of power to the dirt farmer. He had to give it to the little lady, she had a damn good plan if they could get that map code broke. And you had to hand it to the Maquis, a damn near unbreakable code finally cracked by a mathmatical genius. The albino pulled off the bandolier of knives and his waistcoat laying them on the small bureau before turning back to the lady. The room was quiet and he was actually enjoying it when Kaiya spoke up with a raised eyebrow.

"I noticed an old friend of yours is in town, how long has it been since you've seen the White Raven?"

"A bit and a little," was all John offered as he sat on the edge of the bed, his back to her.

"I hope she doesn't become a distraction John, distractions will have to be dealt with." Kaiya responded coldly.

John turned to look at her, his eyes boring into hers as he spoke. "Ma'am, with all due respect, you'll get your country and the Railroad will cross the border making a tidy sum of money for my employers. But if you go after White Raven then the only thing you'll get is quick burial up there in the mountains."

"You think that much of her John? You'd let her kill the one who's paying your bills?"

"No ma'am, you're not paying me. I work for the men of the Railroad and they say the White Raven is to be left alone for now, that I'm only to watch the four female elves and ensure the map is protected. And anyway, I know how good she is." John explained pulling off his boots and putting neatly by the side of the bed.

"Oh you do, will this I must hear John." Kaiya requested.

The albino sighed and started in on a story he heard once back east. "There was a man, human fella with a lot of money but low reputation that got a little closer than manners dictated with White Raven one night in a salon. One of his hands touched something that your not suppose to touch on a proper lady."

"And what did she do, call on her white knight to exact justice?" Kaiya asked. John caught onto the reference. It was kind of funny...white...albino...humorous.

"They found him in an alley two days later, his throat cut from ear to ear and one hand missing, presumably the one he touched her with."

"Well, I think I like her John, not as nice as that little Ahdri I bet."

Well, she had seen the same thing in the little elf's eyes. Now it was starting to get interesting he thought as Kaiya continued on.

"Do you think little Ahdri is trying to save you John? Maybe she sees something in you, like a soul? Waste of time really, since you don't have one."

"She's just a sweet innocent little elf, nothing more." John spoke lying down on the bed to catch a quick nap.

He felt the bed move just a little as she slid in next to him, her shoulder touching his and her leg against his. John didn't move, this would actually work for him. With her in bed next to him he could keep track of her, feel her reach for the knife strapped high on her thigh in a hide away sheath. The room was silent for a minute and then the Djun's daughter spoke up.

"Would you kill me John?"

"If the men of the Railroad said you were no longer needed, I'd take care of you and then eat dinner at Mrs. Brownberry's."

The room was silent again and John hoped it would stay that way...but it didn't.

"Aww John, I knew there was a reason I liked you so much."


During the afternoon, all while the others prepared the wagon and the small campsite for the Miners, Scouter kept watch on the group that sat out on the prairie just out of what should have been normal sight. They didn't figure on the eagle eyes of the youth who saw them ride up. The young deputy kept tabs on them, watched as they stood around waiting for the sun to slide down behind the horizon. Scouter looked over to Cutter thinking, amazed actually, at the fact the Major knew what the Miners would do once they showed up. Cutter was right in assuming they would hold up, rest, and wait for the sun to get low and be at their backs. One day Scouter thought, one day he'd be like Cutter, a savvy leader who commanded respect.

And he'd have Dewshine at his side.

The thought brought back the images of their parting the day before, the fight, and the last words between them. He bit down on his lip pushing all the pictures and the feelings away, shoving it all aside for now. Scouter had to be ready. There was gonna be a gunfight and he didn't want his mama burying her only son.

The others worked and moved around the camp getting it ready. Eyes High and Shale and Marisol took the blankets and laid two flat in the bottom of the wagon while Skywise and Joyleaf and Dart laid dirt along the inside board making a small wall on top of the blanket half. They took the other half and laid it over, tucking in the top, creating a safe place to duck behind if any shooting started. Longbranch and Nightfall and Crescent stacked limbs and brush on the front and back of the wagon hoping it would keep the miners from trying to ride through the camp if the shooting started. Redlance and Cutter checked on the horses tethered on a long line back in the woods well away from the camp. They also checked the lay out at the rear of the camp, back in the woods, considering the chance the Miners would break up and some would try to ride around and come at them from behind.

The chance was good chance the Miners would try to flank them, too good Cutter felt, which is where he wanted the tracker when it all went down.

As they came back and the others worked, the conversation fell to what was about to go down and what was needed from them.

"Are they still out there Scouter?" Cutter yelled to the deputy.

"Yep, I still got eleven just sitting and waiting."

"All right, we have the wagon ready to go. What's the plan?" Longbranch asked.

"Well," Cutter said pointing to the fallen timber and limbs they had setup coming at them from the trail, "they'll ride in at us, walk the horses in to see what the layout is, and the fence we made will force them in close, almost shoulder to shoulder."

"Yep, they won't have room to make any sudden moves, which they won't do when they ride up." Skywise added.

"Really?" Eyes High asked wiping her hands off.

"They won't start anything right off, waiting to see how many are here and what we have in the way of guns. If this Amil is as persistent as Red says then he won't leave
without being backed out." Bearclaw suddenly said.

"What do you think sir?" Dart inquired wiping the sweat off his brow with the back of his hand.

"Son," Bearclaw started hooking his thumbs into the red sash that held his twin Pearl handled Dragoons, "this ain't soldierin' or marshallin'. This is gun work, done by men and elves that can do the work. There's only one way to handle it and that's straight on, make one of these men back down. You don't need em' all to break at the same time, hell just one will do and the rest will follow once an ounce of doubt gets in to their minds."

"Really?" Shale piped up sounding like his wife, maybe even a little higher.

Cutter and the others kept quiet as his father spoke, or more like preached, about what he planned to do. "Yes Sir Mr. Shale, that's what this is about. I've lived my life by that rule, and by one other. Kill one to save four, simple and straight. If someone won't back down and he's aiming to have a fight then you better put him down, and don't let anyone think you had to do it, no sir. You make them think you wanted to do it, that you couldn't wait to do it, and you'd do it again at the drop of a hat. Soldiers and Marshalls in those towns back East have the advantage of playing by some set of gentlemanly rules, but out here that bunk will just get you killed. No sir, we're gonna meet Amil and his crew head's up and see if he won't back down."

"You'll want to do the meet and greet then?" Cutter asked with a raised eyebrow.

"You know me too well son. If I don't get Amil to back down then I'm the best one to have out front when the smoke wagons go to work."

"All right, you want the greener?"

"Hell yes, It's the polite thing to do when meeting the local rabble." Bearclaw remarked with a mean grin.

"I guess it's decided then, we're ready, just got to sit and wait for Amil to ride up." Cutter offered looking at everyone.

No one spoke up.

There was nothing to say.

So, in that quiet, they broke up into small groups, each trying to build up their courage and will to do what was comgin. Leetah stood next to Cutter holding his hand with both of hers dreading each tick of the clock, hating the falling sun. Bearclaw and Joyleaf stood next to them consoling and bucking up a scared Shenshen. Leetah was worried about her Major, scared that after she just opened up to him he'd be lost, but she also knew this was what the Major did. He protected his friends and loved ones, with his gun and arm if he had too, and she couldn't change that about him. She didn't want to change that about him.

Joyleaf looked at her husband, the old devil, and felt a pull at her heart. Would this be the time when his 'invincibility' would run out? One day it would, one day a bullet would end all this 'deadliest pistoleer' stuff. One day she would have to put him in the ground and she prayed to the High One's this wasn't that day. She took his hand and leaned up against him stealing some of his warmth, giving him some her strength.

A few feet away Nightfall stood next to Redlance with Crescent on his other side while Dart and Longbranch were just an arms length from them. She listened to her father talk about what to do if shooting started, but she was paying little attention to him or his words. She held her beloved's hand watching her dear sister hold his arm in hers. Crescent was scared but wouldn't say a thing or give someone a hit she was fearful. Strongbow had raised her to stand tall and face the bad things this world threw at her, just as he did. Nightfall slid in close, just like Crescent had done, and waited for word of the men out on the prairie.

There was a spot of dirt on his cheek, a small spot from all the digging they did getting the wagon ready. Eyes High wanted so badly to wipe that speck away, just reach out with a wet thumb and wash it off. But she didn't. Skywise wasn't a boy anymore. He didn't need someone to wash his face. And it didn't matter one damn bit because he was her son and she just wanted to take him away from here. Eyes High held back the tears and the thoughts of what would happen if he got shot and died while Shale put an arm around her shoulders.

Then Scouter stood up from his kneeling position and called out.

"I got three moving south pretty quick toward the east, now the others are starting to come in."

Bearclaw turned and looked at Cutter with that mean grin, only a little bigger now. "It's time to go to work son."

"Yep," Cutter remarked giving his father a quick nod before looking over to Redlance, "you know what to do right Red?"

The tracker was quiet, only responding with his own nod back before checking to make sure his tomahawk was on one side and his Bowie knife on the other. Dart handed over the twelve gauge to Bearclaw and then checked his Colt making sure all the rounds in the chamber were good and ready. He looked over to see Scouter doing the same, only his hands were shaking just a touch.

"It'll be okay Scouter, just keep calm and if the guns start to talk shoot straight and get to cover."

Scouter closed the chamber on his Colt and put it back in the holster before answering. "I'll be okay...you don't have to worry for me."

"If the bullets start flying I won't have time too." Dart replied putting his Colt 44 back into its holster.

The women, and Shale, moved over to the wagon starting to climb in as Leetah stopped and turned back to Cutter who was right at her side as Shenshen climbed in. She didn't say a word, just stood up on her toes and kissed him soft and long. When she was done she looked into his eyes and whispered.

"Be careful my love."

"I got no intention of getting' shot Rose...not now."

She smiled back, as strong as she could, before turning and taking Shale's hand letting him pull her up into the wagon. As he helped Rose up his wife Eyes High looked back to her son for what she hoped wasn't the last time. He was checking his Schofield getting ready and before she could stop it, before she could think to do it Eyes High called to him.

"Skywise?"

The sound in her voice must have been filled with worry, fear, because he looked up immediately. There was that damn speck of dirt as he only smiled and winked.

"Go on, I'll be okay."

She felt Shale's hand on her shoulder, heard him call to her, but Eyes High couldn't respond or move. She only wanted to stay with her son, take him away from this clearing and Amil. She didn't though. He wasn't a boy anymore. She only turned around and let her husband pull her up into the back of the wagon.

"Be careful son." Longbranch said to Redlance.

"I will be Mr. Longbranch, you do the same."

"And you," the lawyer said going to his daughter with a heavy sigh, "get up in that wagon and keep your head down. Your mama would kill me if anything happened to you..."

Nightfall shifted her Winchester in her hand, the one she used for all her shows, and swallowed hard. "I will Papa, but I won't hesitate to help out if you need it."

"No you don't! You keep your head down dammit!"

"No Papa, I won't..." Nightfall replied calmly.

Longbranch stared at his daughter for a second seeing the younger version of his wife all over again, the stubborn refusal was just love taking a stand. He just gave her a nod and stepped in with a hug before looking to Crescent.

"And you-"

"I'm just like Nightfall Mr. Longbranch, your as much a father to me as Nightfall, so don't tell me to stay out of this."

The lawyer only shook his head and hugged the girl as she kissed his cheek before moving to the spot that Cutter told him to stand. Crescent felt the tracker's hand touch the back of her shoulder and she turned without looking, stepping into his arms while pulling Nightfall in with her. Crescent could still smell the dried mud on Redlance's body and she hoped this wouldn't be her last memory of him as Nightfall spoke.

"We have a wedding to plan beloved so don't go do anything silly like getting killed. I can't tell Tyleet her father's dead."

"If you get killed I swear I'll come and get you back." Crescent whispered kissing his cheek.

"Me too..." Nightfall whispered also before kissing him.

"I'm not wearing a suit to the wedding." He suddenly said with a grin.

"Oh yes you are!" Both fired back with a small laugh.

The joke calmed them for a minute, long enough for both to climb up into the wagon with the help of Shale. They both watched as he trotted up to the edge of the trees, turned back to look at them, and then wave once before disappearing. Crescent felt her stomach lurch and her chest hurt as she got set. The back of the wagon was cramped with Shale and Eyes high taking up a spot by the back next to the driver's seat. Shenshen then Leetah came next with Joyleaf and Nightfall and Crescent next to the tailgate. Skywise closed it shut with a loud clack as occupants pulled a blanket over them to hide. Joyleaf held one of her Colts, gave the other to Crescent to use, and watched as Nightfall cocked her rifle with a quick snap of the repeater.

Skywise latched the tailgate then leaned up against it behind the stack of limbs and kindling for the fire. His Schofield was loaded and his parents were hidden so the only thing left was to wait for those Miners to show up. The images of Bells Ferry came spinning back, of Red Jackets marching up that hill right at him, and he shuddered. Damn he hated this kind of thing.

Longbranch checked the magazine on his Spencer, it was full, and with five tubes in his coat pockets ready to reload. He took up his spot by the tree to the right of the fire, looked back to the wagon, and then steadied himself with a deep breath. He hated this kind of thing.

Dart and Scouter took up spots on the left, the boy tapping his thumb against his belt buckle nervously. Dart shook his head thinking maybe this line of work wasn't for Scouter, but then dismissed the thought. A few years back he was just as green, and probably would have been beating his thumb to death too.

Cutter took his spot just behind Longbranch, out of sight for now. He checked his Dragoon, full and ready, before slipping it into its leather holster. There were no thoughts of Rose or Skywise or Red or even Bells Ferry. There was just the calm before the storm, a stillness the seemed to envelope him and everything around him.

Redlance reached Firecoat and quickly pulled his bow and arrows off the back of the saddle before heading into the woods. He and Cutter had found a spot the Miners would probably try and slide through, an old cattle trail, earlier and both decided he would keep watch here at its edge. The tracker knelt in the bush, nocked an arrow to the bow string, and waited. The weird part was he couldn't stop thinking about Tyleet, HIS little girl. The phrase should have seemed strange to him, but it wasn't. It was quite normal and comfortable. His little girl...

The ones in the wagon were hunkered down and hid. The ones who were backing him up were set and ready. Red was guarding the backdoor. Bearclaw knew the plan called for Amil to ride in, be confronted with more men than he was ready to fight, and ride off back to Silver Springs with his tail tucked between his legs. If it got out a hand, and it probably would Bearclaw thought, the ones in the wagon would pop up and lend a bullet or two. He opened the breach on the shotgun, noted the two shiny brass twelve gauge shells, and closed the break with a snap. He put his foot up on one of the fallen trees they used to make the fence to hem the Miners in, set the butt end of the shot gun on his thigh with the barrels pointed to the sky, and looked out on the setting sun.

"All right Amil, you called down the thunder and now it's waitin'."

The twin hammers on the shotgun made an audible click as Bearclaw pulled them back till they locked.  

The clearing grew silent as the sun started to slide below the horizon. Out on the prairie a group of riders suddenly came into view, slowly walking their horses toward the camp.

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Libra Snake
Posts : 505
Join date : 2015-03-29
Age : 29

PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Fri Jun 29, 2018 1:13 pm

So exited to reread how thigns went. I know what's gonna happen, but it's still exiting. Don't wait too long with next.

And here I'm saying... Rolling Eyes Laughing

Speaking off; I have next piece of the Saloon girls here. Hope people like it, it was a long chapter, but it felt so wrong to split it in two parts. So here you get it.

Days at the Saloon - part 4

Out in the corridor, they heard sniffling and sobbing, and shortly after they found Skywise with Maleen and Ruffle on each shoulder, looking rather worn out and when he spotted them approaching, his face became nothing but relief when he spotted them, and he hurried to shake the girls up.

"Looklooklook, she's ok! Vurda's ok! She's alive!"

Wiping their faces, the girls eyes became huge when they spotted them and they immediately let go of Skywise and ran towards them, much to his relief. Ruffle gabbed around her back and begun weeping at her chest instead while Maleen grabbed around her shoulders and squeezed them. "Thanks the High Ones you're alrght!" she sobbed.

"Me fough u ere byinb..." Ruffle muffle into her chest.

Deeply moved by their concern and affection, Vurdah had trouble speaking as her throat were tightening up and only replied by returning hugs on them.

Rose smiled at them. "It wasn't really that bad, señoras, but with that much blood, I was worried too. But it is alright now. Maybe you will help her upstairs? She is still a little weak."

"Y-yes. Of course." Maleen grabbed a hold on herself and tried to loosen up Ruffle. Behind them, Leetah followed Skywise out again, who couldn't stop complaining about being completely soaked up in tears. Vurdah looked after him, and shook her head once, still having Leetha's words in mind. After finishing weeping in Maleen's bed, Vurdah did as Leetah had told her too; apologized for her behavior at late, and gave them the reason why. She even showed them the letter, and Maleen red it out loud as Ruffle couldn't either read or write.

"Dear cousin Vurdah. I am pleased to tell you the most wonderful of news. I do not know if you recall me men...tioning to you in the last of my letters..." she arched an eyebrow at the way of writing and gave Vurdah a look. "Does she really talk like that?" Vurdah nodded, and Maleen huffed before she continued reading. "...that I was having the pleasure of being purposed to by Donael Palonello, from the Dalonello company. Indeed, now I am happy to say indeed that I find myself wedded to him and also, I am even more pleased to tell you that a new family member on the way. And the last of surprises is this; Donael and I have decided that we will begin our new married life together in the new world where you went many years ago. I am probably already on my way to new world by the time you receive this letter of mine. I say, indeed I must say..." she made a face again, "... that I cannot wait to see you perform at the Opera House at Two Moons, and meet those lovely ladies you have been telling about. My sweet regards from mother and father, and my spouse and myself, and not to forget the one who is yet to be with us. Indeed I hope to see you soon, cousin dear. Your dearest Talla Dalonello!"

"Huh?" Ruffle asked, lying on her belly, her head resting in her hands and waving with her feet behind her. "What'she saying?"

Maleen rolled her eyes. "She's married, she's pregnant, and she's heading over here."

"Oh..." Ruffle wrinkled her nose and let her head fall sideways down on the madras. "Well, why couldn't she just have written that?"

"Auntie taught her to be fancy with words." Vurdah shrugged. "I swear, sometimes I have to read them twice to understand them myself. And how long time I use to write back to her."  

"I can't believe you actually told her those things. Really? An Operah House?"  Maleen begun giggling and so did Ruffle, rolling on to her back, soon laughing out loud.

Vurdah blushed, but she couldn't help but being smitten by their laughter. "I know, I know! I really crossed the line with that one." Very soon they were all three laughing hard when Vurdah  told them all the other things she had written about to her family: the most exclusive restaurant of Brownberry where she dined each day; the famous dress shop of Moonshade where the riches came to find their ball gowns; the wild west show where even the royalties came to see; her dinners at Blue Mountain Ranch and Ranco del Sol.

"Stop! I can't take anymore!" Ruffel screamed and held around her belly kicking her legs wildly like a child being tickled. "That's the worst thing I've ever heard!"

"And those folks never even come here!" Maleen gasped. "You know, when you first told us about your family way back then, I never really realized how bad they could be!"

Vurdah stopped laughing at sudden, startled by what Maleen said. "What? When have I actually told you girls about them?"

"You don't recall?" Maleen asked, still laughing.

"Of course she don't, silly." Ruffle rolled back up straight. "She had too much whisky that night."

"Oh..." Vurdah recalled, and hid her face in her hands. "High ones... Was that... when we first met?"

"Yup!" Ruffle said grinning.

Vurdah felt how her face changed color and became warm, suddenly recalling that very evening: or that was, thinking of what she failed to recall. She was a bit afraid of asking, but suddenly felt a strong desperate need to as she saw them smile oddly. "That night... What really happened?"

Ruffle hid her chuckle in the blanket. "You're sure you want to know?"

#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#

At the age of 18, she had finally gathered enough saving money to make the trip to the new world. She was old enough, and she was going alone by herself. She had heard about a group that traveled together, and for the first time in her life she had been bold and asked to travel with them. She had signed up for the journey and after paying she was given a ticket for the ship that was leaving a few weeks after.

She had packed her mother's huge travel bag that she had brought when she first came to live with them, with what she had of belongings, which wasn't much more than another dress and some small treasures from her childhood; and a little glass pearl in a leather string that one of the littl gypsy children had given to her that evening among them. Her aunt were furious at the thought of what she had planned, but Vurdah knew deep inside that she was only glad to be rid of her once and for all. Her uncle didn't seem to care, as if he had given up on her years ago. Only Talla wished her good luck, but she knew that it was only for mocking she said it.

None of them offered to follow her to the wagon.

She never looked back to their house.

She made her way to the harbor where she met with other travelers. They hadn't been the most including of companions, but she was glad that she at least had someone going the same direction. There were a large crowd that had arrived to wish them goodbye and good luck. Women weeping and fathers backing up their young ones, young siblings whom were promised letters and gifts from the new world. Vurdah felt a sting of envy that none of them came to see her well off, but she had raised her head high and entered the ship with what pride she could carry.

She had been so excited about the trip, and everything had seemed so grand. Even though the ship was dirty and the passengers looked more like worn out refugees than adventurers, it was all glorious to her. In the beginning she hadn't minded the overcrowded rooms where they all slept with their luggage as pillows and practically laid on top of one other.
But it didn't take too long before the journey would become rather depressing. As people all seemed to be busy with themselves and had enough with that, they became less tolerant to others. Once she accidently stumbled over the leg of a man, he began yelling at her for not watching herself. And a family had several of children crying of fear of the water making noise outside. And some hysterical woman who believed the ship would go down if it became a storm. All this was bothered her, but once she commented this to another passenger just to try to make a conversation, the other had looked at her and told her she had no right to blame people who were scared to death for what awaited them.
Vurdah became even more withdrawn and silent after this.  She would often take a trip up at the deck to get some fresh air and to view the ocean. But even these trips became rather depressing to her as the water would seamed to never end, and as they never appeared to be closer to the new world. This huge horizon of blue became a symbol of her empty heart. She was at sudden overcome with a sadness that reminded her of when her parents died. The feeling of being a stranger, the fear of being alone, and the knowing that there was no one to ask for help and comfort. It had been like this ever since she came to her aunt and uncle, she realized that now. And she had come so far now that going back was completely out of the question. And she couldn't help but wonder, even in this new world, would she ever find her place to belong?

At normal, Vurdah would have been easily applying to tears, but she didn't dare to in the crowd. So at night she went up at the deck again, where she found a hidden corner  where she gave in to weeping. Now without her only family at least there, she was more alone than ever.

She had lost track of time of how long they had journeyed, but for Vurdah it felt like far too long, and  she felt almost like the trip was in vain. But when she saw the harbor, she was actually smitten by the excitement of the other passengers. Just the thought of not having to walk on a ship deck anymore was enough for her to feel happy at sudden. To walk on land again and to move around without having an elbow or a leg intruding her face at night. Despite the hopeless situation, she was filled with hope again, and a feeling she hadn't felt ever but realized now what was: victory. She had made it! She had made the journey after all. if only they could see her now.

After the registration of every passenger, she was eager to figure out what to do next. At first she had to find the closest theatre she could come to. After asking a bit about, she figure out that the best place to start was to follow the first diligence to the closest town. At the harbor there was not much to find other than then saloon and a couple of restaurants, one that were at the hotel. As the diligence wasn't moving before the next day, she found herself forced to find a stay for the night and a meal. So the hotel became the natural solution.

If it hadn't been full already.

"Sorry, miss. Can't help it!" the owner said. "Place's been stuck up all week, people waiting for the next ship."

"But what am I going to do then?" she asked, feeling how her hope sank again.

"You could always try Mrs. Harvey at storage building. She's taking guests for the night, although a bit crowded one must count on. She's going cheep though."

After getting the direction from the hotel owner, she hurried to find her way to Mrs. Harvey's, but...

"Ah, sorry miss, but you're too late now. I just gave out my last bed, can't fill a kitten on any of them now."

"Are you certain, Ma'am?" Vurdah plead. "I won't mind whatever you could offer! I won't take notice, I swear I won't!"

"I haven't got more to offer. Even my window wills are occupied now."

"But... what am I gonna do?" Vurdah felt how her heart just got stuck up her throat. "I can't sleep on the street?"

"She can bunk with us, ma'am! It's alright!" a voice called out from above.

Mrs. Harvey looked up behind her shoulder and faced a short elf girl with large, blue eyes in a heart shaped, chubby face standing leaned over the railing on the second floor. Mrs. Harvey didn't seem to find the girl's presence pleasing, and Vurdah understood why. What shocked Vurdah most was that she was only wearing her skirt and that Vurdah took for being an untied blouse, exposing more than what she knew was appropriate, if not everything. It looked like she just had gotten out of bed, because her sand colored hair was all a mess of curls. Away from that, she was rather cute and looked like innocence itself, but reminded Vurdah of a child when she came running down the stairs, bare feet she noticed, and towards them. "She can share with us, it's not that tight, and we don't have much luggage."
Mrs' Harvey's eyes and mouth became thin lines, and her already wrinkled forehead doubled up with wrincles when she spoke. "Missy. You and your... traveling companion are already sharing one of my smallest beds! Do you really expect..."

"Oh, Maleen and I won't mind it." She stepped forward and looked Vurdah up and down. "How'bout you, lassie? You don't mind sharing, do ya?"

"Eh... Sharing room? No-no, of course not, if you really think I won't... be in the way. I'll... I'll sleep on the floor, if that's... necessary." Vurdah was surprised of how embarrassed she became of speaking to the girl, and how easily she stumbled in her words. She blamed her wearing. She wasn't used to such... disturbing looks.

"On the floor?" the girl bursted into a childish giggling and grabbed her hand, something that stunned her completely. "Oh aren't you a darling!" then she turned to Mrs Harvey. "Sign up one more, Ma'am!"

"Wery well, missy." Mrs' Harvey seemed rather displeased by this, and gave Vurdah a look before she went off. "I hope you know what you're throwing yourself into."

Vurdah didn't know what else to do when the girl led her away towards the stairs. "Well, come'on then! I am Ruffle, by the way." She had no choice but to follow her. As they came upstairs, Ruffle stopped and turned back to her. "Don't mind Mrs' Harvey. She's an old maid, you see. Never known what it's like to enjoy life. That's so sad with the humans. At least the women."

Then all of a sudden, Vurdah made a discovery that almost made her stumble. "Are... are you wearing a blanket?" she asked as she saw that what she had thought to be a rough dark green skirt was actually a blanket all swirled up around her waist, giving an impression of a skirt.

"Yup! I couldn't find my skirt." Ruffle said unnoticed. Then she went to one of the dark doors and opened it, with Vurdah still holding her hand, dragging her inside so fast, she almost got her bag caught in the door.

It was a tight room indeed, with only one bed, small as Mrs's Harvey had said. But it wasn't the bed that caught Vurdah's attention, but the elf girl sitting on it, only dressed in her under garments. What shocked Vurdah, was that she didn't seem at all to bother of them bursting in like that. She seemed perfectly calm, and she greeted Vurdah with a warm smile that made her blush again. Then she turned to Ruffle and sighed. "Look at you! You could have fixed your blouse at least before you went' down."

"I didn't have time, Maleen!" Ruffle answered. "I was afraid she would leave before I reached her. it's so crowded on the streets, I could have lost her."

"It would have taken you one lousy moment to just tie it."

Ruffle replied with a pouting tongue, confirming Vurdah's thought of her as a child. She can't be past my age, she thought.

Maleen ignored her and rose from the bed, reaching out her hand to Vurdah. "Maleen here. Glad to meet you."

"V-Vurdah..." she stumbled back, afraid to be rude, but at the same time she had trouble not looking at her. She was Ruffle's opposite in many ways; tall, slim, black straight hair, brown eyes, and while Ruffle's nose was a turned up button, Maleen's were long, slim and pointing down. She couldn't help but look at them in turn. The only thing they had in common seemed to be the tanned skin.

Maleen only smiled warmly at her before speaking again. "You were right, Ruffle. She is lovely."

"I told you so!" Ruffle said, finally taking time to tie the straps on her blouse, making her a little more modest looking.

"Huh? What?"  Vurdah became more and more confused.

"I saw you from above. I like to watch people come and go, you see. I tell, you're not the first one she's had to send off cause this place is all stuffed up. So we thought, why not? We can manage. It's not the first time we've made room for one more."

"Ah... eh..." Vurdah, wasn't certain of how to feel about this, but it gave her a relief anyway. "I'm really grateful for this. I was worried if I was to sleep on the street, or... not sleep at all."

"I guess there's allot of them tonight." Maleen said, turning away and picking up a dark teal skirt and a pair of stockings that was all curled up at the floor. That's when Vurdah discovered all the mess in the room. It was clothes and blankets and other fabrics all over, half on the floor, half on the bed, it wasn't one fabric on right place anywhere. Even the curtain on the small window was hanging out of place, but she wasn't certain if that was their fault or if it was that way. If her aunt had see this room, she would either have fainted before turning into her furious stiff being and demanded a clean up at the spot. Knowing she was a whole ocean away, she still had the feeling of having her on her back.

"What do you say we go out and eat? I could die for a good pie." Ruffle said as she started looking around. "Now where's my jacket?"

"I'd prefer dinner before dessert!" Maleen said as she slid the stockings on, along with a gray blouse that seemed nice, but had seen better days.

"Aw, you're no fun! Meat pie then!" Ruffel said, throwing garments all over in search for her jacket, the blanket sliding down around her legs as she did. "Rats- now, there you are! And my skirt too!"

"You're joining us, are you?" Maleen looked at Vurdah as she finally got her skirt, along with a worn out deep blue plaided jacket.

"Uhm... sure, if you won't mind..."

"Stop being so worried about that, sweetie." Ruffle said as she fastened her brown skirt on the front before she and slid the back of it behind where it belonged. "You're welcome." Then she swung the powder pink jacket on. "Ready when you are, ladies!" she declared.

"Uh-uuh!" Maleen put her hand son her slim hips while giving Ruffle a strict look. "Bloomers!"

"Arww!" Ruffle moaned. "Don't wanna!"

"You'll catch cold, and that's the last thing we need!"

"Alright then!" She found her bloomers in a corner and put them rather clumsy on. "You see, Maleen here is pretending to be my big sister, always looking after me, even when I don't want to!"

"I kind of have to, you're helpless!" Maleen said calmly.

Ruffle gave Maleen tongue out again before putting her skirt down. "Then?"

"Then let's go!" Maleen said, putting on a gray shawl. "Just put your bag here, darling." she said to Vurda.

#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#


Vurdah hadn't the slightest idea what a saloon was when they took her to the one in town. Pat's saloon seemed like she had stepped right into a story. It looked rather filthy and the smell of cigar smoke was dreadful, and all the men around smelled of sweat and dirt. But for some reason, it had a merrier atmosphere than other places she had been before, even if a little odd. Apparently, they had been there before, and found a table in the middle of the room.  There were only a pair of women there, those who served. Vurdah had a look at their costumes, and found them beautiful, if not a little foolhardy. The black linings at the red one made it look like Maleen's underwear, and the yellow one had the top skirt tied up at the belt by a beautiful orange rose, which showed off half her thigh and a see through double layered underskirt. Ruffle wailed on one of them and yelled out an order.

Auntie would have gotten a heart attack if she knew this, she thought to herself.

"I didn't know they served food at a... place like this."

"Normally not, but Pat's an exception, trying to keep up with the fancy restaurants." Maleen explained.

"Only this is cheaper. And not at all bad." Ruffle said.

Ruffle got her meat pie for sure. Half of one already baked along with some bread, not warm, but it tasted better than anything had done in weeks, and Vurdah ate with eager, for a moment forgetting where she was. But when the girls begun drinking the liquid from the bottle they had gotten along with the food, she started puzzling. They had been fooling and joking all evening, but now even Maleen was laughing out loud.

"Don't you like it?" Ruffle asked when she noticed she hadn't touched her glass. Vurdah felt forced to taste the blank water like substance in her glass, and sipped it carefully- the next moment she regretted, as the sharpness of it went straight up her nose and made her cough. Apparently, she made a face as well, that made the two other break into laughter again. Vurdah felt silly at sudden and decided she wasn't going to be a coward, so she closed her breath and had the whole glass on one shot down her throat. She regretted immediately as the liquid burned down her throat and made her cough again. But this time, Maleen took pity on her, pooring her another glass. "It's your first time, right? Be careful with it. And it won't burn that much when you get used to it. Believe me, you'll learn to like it."

As they sat eating and drinking, Vurdah got to know that both the girls were previous orphans that had grown up together. Maleen had taken the younger Ruffle under her wing as a protecting pretending elder sister, as the latter always got into trouble. Although Ruffle had been the only one being able to get under Maleen's tough skin, as she had learned to shut herself up to hide the pain of being alone. "She kept everyone at distance, poor thing." Ruffle said softly, stroking Maleen's skin, as she  returned the smile.

"And you, hopeless little one." Maleen replied. "You hadn't lasted a day on your own. You would have gotten so much spank from the strict mistress you wouldn't have been able to sit ever again."

Maleen had been forced to leave when she came of age, and then the four years younger Ruffle had decided to follow her, as the life of the orphanage had been unbearable. It was a bit shocking to learn how they had managed to feed themselves, from serving as maid in various houses to sleeping with men and even dance and sing on the street for money. Like the gypsies, she thought at sudden. At the same time, she felt an instant connection with these two, as she had been an orphan herself. "Compared to you girls, I almost feel lucky with my own upbringing." That's when she told her of her aunt and uncle and cousin, and how even though it was safe, nothing was ever good enough. She waited a while about telling about her plans, suddenly feeling embarrassed to think of how she would actually dare to g through such a thing when she didn't even dare to talk properly to strangers.

The three were getting quite well along now, and as Vurdah got affected from the whiskey, she managed to calm down and have fun with them. She felt that this was the first time in years she had managed to relax. But then the evening took a drastic turn. Four men, all humans came into the saloon, and Ruffle jumped up and waved at them. "Over here, fellas!"

"Hello, damsels!" one of them said.

Vurdah immediately froze. "Y-you know them?" she asked insecure.

"We met them last night." Ruffle said. "They're so funny!"

"So what's up, lassies?" one of them asked when leaning at Ruffle's chair.

"It's been so boring all day!" Ruffle replied after finishing off her whisky. "Except we made a new friend!" To Vurdah's dismay, Ruffle pointed at her, and as the man looked at her, she froze completely. "Vurdah, this is Lew, Don, Mickey and Frankie. she pointed to each of them in turn." Vurdah was only able to give a short nod, and tried to smile, but when the man gave a grin and blinked at her, she felt the heat in her face and hurried to look away, hearing him chuckle.

"She's quite a shy one, huh?"

"I know! It's kind'a cute." Ruffle giggled.

The effect of the whiskey were all of a sudden gone, and she fell back to her silent self. She tried as hard as she could to shut out the conversation, if it could be called that, between her new so called-friends and the men. She felt uncomfortable, not knowing how to act near men at all and felt a need to get some air, but didn't notice that the man had appeared beside her before she almost rose up to his chest, standing face to face with him, the one called Lew, and at sudden she felt all stiff. She wasn't certain if it was the whiskey or the man, but at sudden she were unable to stand correctly and had to lean to the chair.

"You're not leaving just yet, are ya? I was hoping to get to know you a little!" his voice was soft as he spoke and the way he smiled gave him a different look than earlier. "You know? You're different. Not like other girls. Not like them!" he pointed with his head to Maleen and Ruffle, who were starting to get a little rough because of the drinking. Then he looked at her again and moved a little closer to her face, making her blush brighter. "You've got some, what the word... class." At sudden, he seemed less scarier than before, and the way he smiled at her made her feel warm. "Mind if I... buy you a drink?" he asked and held out his arm to her.

Suddenly feeling a little braver, she smiled and rather clumsy managed to slid her hand under Lew's arms, and as soon as she had gotten a grip, he laid his other hand over hers as he led her to the bar.

#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#

Time passed, and even though the boys were amusing enough, Maleen, who'd had far less alcohol than Ruffle, reminded the latter that they had to be back at Mrs. Harvey's by eleven o'clock, or they would lose their room. Ruffle was hard to rise from the chair, and moaned loudly that she wanted to stay and that they were having so much fun and that Mrs. Harvey was an old grumpy boring bat, and she kept going like this when they said good night to their human friends.

"Where'd Vurdah go?" Ruffled muffled.

"I think she went outside. I think she got a little uncomfortable with the guys around." Maleen giggled.

"But why?" Ruffel asked as they got outside.

"Poor thing seems a little inexperienced." Maleen stated.

"A little?" Ruffle answered sarcastic. "Where is she?" They scouted the streets, but wasn't able to see Vurdah anywhere. "You think she went back to Mrs. Harvey's?"

"Then she could get lost, she's all stranger here." Maleen replied with a sudden worry in her voice, forcing herself free from the dizzy condition caused by the alcohol.

"Hey you two, get back in here!" one of the men called for them from the swinging doors. "Your friend's about to perform!"

"Perform?" they girls replied at once, with the same amount of surprise in their voice. They rushed past the man in the door, pushing him out of the way an on the ground as they ran inside, just in time to see Vurdah standing on the bardesk, starting a song.

"Come, my love, and dance into the sunset
I'll hold out my hand for you
and never let it go!
Never leave my side, never ever
No not this night"  

Maleen and Ruffle watched her with frozen glares, her hair flowing down her shoulders, her jacket unbuttoned, and her foolish smile exposing how drunk she had to be. The crowd cheered and yelled. "Show us some more!" one other called out. "Get of you jacket, you look hot!" another one said. "Do a little dance for us!" a third one cried out.

"Is she soaked or what?" Ruffle busted out , and broke Maleen's frozen condition.

"We've got to get her out of here." Maleen whispered and started looking around in the room. "She's gonna hurt herself like that!"

"Forget it! They won't let us get her down. You know what they can be like." Ruffle replied.

"I know!" Maleen suddenly said and begun whispering something in Ruffle's ear, who giggled when hearing her plan.

After a quick talk with the other barmaids, they got their hands on a bowl of peanuts at one of the table, Maleen went to one end of the room, Ruffel went to the other. With a handful each, they removed one garter from their legs, and hid, Maleen behind a table behind, and Ruffle behind a chair. They put one peanut in one end and stretched it out, aiming for those who were sitting near one of the biggest drunkards. Ruffle shot the first, aiming for his ear, but his him in his right shoulder instead, but the effect was nevertheless as wanted. He grabbed the hit spot, looking around himself for the guilty one. He turned to his left to his mate, giving him a push. "Drop it, will ya?"

"Hey, what'cha mean with that?" the innocent man replied.

That's when Maleen hit the man on the other side of the innocent one, causing him to turn to him as well. "Hey what's up with ya?"

"What the hell d'ya mean?" the poor man said.

"Stop bothering us! You're a pain in the ass!" the left one said.

"I've done nothing, you filthy drunkard!" he screamed back.

"Oh yeah?!" the left one said, finally getting angry enough to rise and give the innocent man a solid punch in the face, causing him to fall over the two men on the other table, who got angry for the interruption and one for getting his beer spilled all over himself.

"What's the meaning?" he cried out and rose, along with his mate, who dragged the hit one up to give him yet another punch.

From that moment, the fighting got attention from the others, and more people started to join, drunk as they all were. It soon escalated so even Lew forgot about Vurdah trying to unbutton her shirt, and went to see what was going on. That's when the girls made their move over to the bar desk to get Vurdah down. "Come on, girl! Let's get out of here."  

Vurdah, drunk and dizzy, didn't hear them in the beginning, and they had to pinch her leg to get her attention, but when she turned around and cried out in pain, she stepped wrong and would have fallen on the very floor and broken something if the two girls hadn't caught her. Lying a moment in a bundle, Maleen and Ruffle managed someway to rise up and pull her with them. "What happen's?" she muffled. "Did they see me?"

"Stop fooling, Vurdah, we have to get out of here!" Ruffle said.

"But my song..." Vurdah moaned.

"It'll have to wait, sweety." Maleen said.

How they managed to get out of there without getting hit by chairs flying of bottles and drinking glasses breaking all over would remain a mystery to the two girls years later, but they were certain they never would have managed it without the help of the maids. They had to be all four in order to get Vurdah out of there, since she had just begun her great carrear as a singing star, and now they had all ruined her chance. By the time they made it through the doors, she was already soaked up in tears and sobbing hard.

"Why? You ruined my big moment!"

"Vurdah, you were only making a fool out yourself up there." Ruffle tried to explain.

"Oh, you're stupid. I hate you!" Vurdah screamed and tried to shake herself out of her grip. "You don't think I can do it either! You're both dumb, you're just like stupid auntie. I hate you!"

On the way back to Mrs. Harvey's they got the story of how she wanted to prove to her mean aunt how becoming a singer and be famous and prove to them how dumb they'd all been for keeping her down, and of stupid Talla and how she was always perfect and she was not. But as they dragged her through the streets, she wept herself empty of both tears and words, and by the time they came to Mrs. Harvey's, she was just whimpering and following along, being too dizzy to walk on her own. They had to make up a story to Mrs. Harvey that poor Vurdah had been handled hard by a mean man and was still in shock.

"Not surprised this happened in your company." the mistress mumbled as they walked up the stairs to their room. Finally up, they just laid her in the bed and to their luck, she fell asleep the moment she laid her head down, and the girls sat on each side of the bed, breathing out in relief.

"Whatever Lew gave her, sure did the job." Ruffle panted and opened up her jacked to give her body air.

"How stupid we were." Maleen sighed. "We should have kept a better eye on her."

Ruffle chuckled. "And you say I'm naive? She sure beats me. I know to watch my whisky."  

They sat a while, catching their breath and resting out. They were close to doze off when Ruffle suddenly spoke up. "Maleen?"

"Uhm?"

"She's not gonna make it on her own."

Maleen gazed at her friend,  suddenly seeing a hint of a grown elf woman in her blue eyes, and became impressed.

"I know I would have gotten myself into one mess after the other if it wasn't for you. But Vurdah's all alone and doesn't know life like we do."

Maleen looked down at the sleeping Vurdah and back at Ruffle again. "You think we should bring her along?"

"Why not?" Ruffle smiled. "I've completely fallen in love with her."

"Hm. Me too." Maleen smiled.  "I don't like the thought of leaving her behind. I would never forgive myself."

The next morning, after Vurdah had gotten over the worst hangover, they explained how she had gotten too much of the whisky. They left out the details of her so called performance and just told her how she had just blacked out quickly and needed help getting back. She felt so ashamed of herself that she didn't dared to talk for a hour, but after they had explained how stupid they'd acted in similar situations, she managed to rise up and accept the whole matter. And when the girls offered her to come along with them, she came to the most lifechanging realization ever; that she wasn't gonna make it on her own in this new world. She saw how fragile she was about life and that she needed help to face it. So she accepted their offer and went with them.

And as time went by, despite the feeling of sinking down a level with the saloon dancing and the humiliation of the 'other' buisness that often followed, she found that she never would regret that decision, because at least at this level, she wasn't alone and she felt taken cared of. The fun that these two could offer compared to the dull life she had been living so long was like sent from the High Ones.And they too found Vurdah to be the most caring companion they'd imagine to have. They found her to be more practical in many ways they lacked.  And even thought the chances of being a famous singer at the theatre slipped her one chance after the other as her courage failed, she found that maybe she just wasn't meant to go that high. She just didn't have the nature of it. And some years later when they all found a steady job at the Hammer and Thongs, she found at long last what she had dreamed of from the beginning; a place to belong. A family.

#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#

As Vurdah listened to the story the girls had hidden to her, and thought of the memories they'd shared, she came to this realization once again and felt, besides from purely embarrassed, relieved and grateful to have these two in her life. New tears welled up in her eyes and she hid her face in her hands again.

"Oh Vurdah, it wasn't the worst that could have happened." Ruffle crawled over beside her and held her arms tight around her.

"That's... not it." she sniffled and gave her a squeeze back and struggled to speak. "I just don't deserve this. All this time putting up with me like this..."

"Oh don't be silly, dear!" Maleen replied, sliding up on the other side of her. "We don't put up with you. We're just filling in eachother. How'd I ever managed to keep trace on Ruffle not to make a mess?"

"Or to help me get Maleen out of her shell?" Ruffle giggled. "And it takes the two of us to lift you up to your sweet merry self." she said and tickled Vurdah, making her giggle too.

"Abolutely!" Maleen remarked and joined the tickle game.

"And we never worked propelty without you, sweety. Remember how you managed to pack our bags when we first went off together? I never manged to get my stuff into my bag all in once, but you managed to, with half the room as if I'd done it!" Ruffle giggled.

They had stopped tickling her, but Vurdah still had to laugh at that. "All I did was to fold your clothes, Ruffle."

"And when you fixed my blouse? when I ripped of the sleeve?" Maleen said. "The way you made it look brand new with just making the stickes look like embroidery?"

"And I am not working properly without you guys!" Vurdah said smiling, but after another round of hugging, she became serious. "I guess... it was just... because it was her." Vurdah swallowed her sobs and leaned back on the bed between the girls. "I just had everything coming back to me with that letter. It was easier when she was so far away and I could play out all the lies at safe distance. But now..."

"I don't really see the problem, hun." Ruffle said.

"It's just that, even for elves, our community were a little old fascinate. You know how things can be with us and out nature? Well, it was alright, as long it never came out in the light. We never talked about it. There was a strict code of faith that ruled there. Respectable people were the most favored. Even among us."

"Tell us, Vurdah...." Ruffle said, a little carefully. "Are you... ashamed of us?"

The question came as quickly as the knife had hit her when she spotted her large, blue sad eyes . "Oh Ruffle... Maleen... NO!" she laid one arm around each and held them tight. "I love you girls. I don't regret anything. I wouldn't replace you out with anything!"

"Not even Skywise?" Ruffle teased, and Vurdah became silent again. Maleen gave her a slap on her head for ruining the moment, but Vurdah just sighed and loosened the grip on them.

"What was I thinking?" she said, looking up at the roof. "Stupid, stupid Vurdah." she gave herself a couple of slaps in her face, and was about to do it a third time when Maleen grabbed her hand, stopping her.

"He is one of the best we've ever met and I'd never say no to him, but really? Never marry him. He's far from mature enough for that." the black haired elf said with a grin.

"I couldn't have said it better." Vurdah replied with a relief. "I guess I just wanted so desperately to have what she had. I felt I was running out of time, and he seemed like the closest way to get it before she got here. And then we found that Oddbit was pregnant, and..." she got frustrated about thinking of the troll and her baby to come, and quickly rose up again to hit both fists in the madras as hard as she could. "It's just so unfair! She's having a child and she doesn't even want it. I would give anything to have a baby of my own." She had to struggle not to let tears build up again. "I want that so desperately!"

"I know! It's not fair at all!"

Vurdah turned around to see Maleen, also tearful and with a sad face. She stroke away a tear that escaped, and Maleen looked up at her. "I too wanna be a mother. I'm so jealous at Oddbit." Vurdah didn't  answer, but hugged her dear friend again.

"I don't need to have one myself." Ruffle said, although she wasn't smiling. "But it would've been great to have one around. I love babies. Even if it was a ogre baby. Remember when they had us looking after the young ones at the orphanage, Maleen? those sweet things that took love from everyone?" she sighed. "And didn't judge you..."  

"Poor thing, what's gonna happen to it?" Maleen cried into Vrudah's chest. "She's gonna be a terrible mother!"

"Yeah, the worst!" Ruffle replied. "She's not at all fitted."

Vurdah didn't say anything, but as they were talking about Oddbit's baby, all of a sudden, Leetah's words. You shouldn't close your eyes to the wonders and pleasures this world of common man has to offer.

"Ladies?!" she spoke up, determinant in her voice, causing the two others to rise up and stare at her. "I know what we gotta do!"


Last edited by Rainflower on Sun Jul 01, 2018 2:09 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Prayer

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Sat Jun 30, 2018 4:17 pm

"... even if I was an ogre baby" *chuckles*

Well written, Rainflower! <3
I love to read about the old Trio. The lightness of Ruffel, the seriousness of Vurdah and Marleen in-between.

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Sun Jul 01, 2018 2:10 pm

Thank you, Prayer. I've added a few details I realized I had forgotten, so you might re-read the end a bit. Part 4 will be done as soon as I manage
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