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 Let's Ride! Elfwest is back

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Rainflower

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Sat Oct 31, 2015 7:00 pm

Wow, I had forgotten about allot of what happened in this. Thank's for posting this up again, WiseShaman.

And thanks for commentig my art, thank you.
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Wiseshaman

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Tue Nov 03, 2015 7:28 pm

Your welcome Ranflower, I've always liked your art and words...

And yeah, the back stories are oldies but goodies certainly! Razz

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Rainflower

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Fri Nov 06, 2015 6:59 pm

I'll be posting something more soon, just have to fix some details. I want it to sort of cooperate with this you're going on here.
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Wiseshaman

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Thu Nov 12, 2015 12:16 am

@Rainflower wrote:
I'll be posting something more soon, just have to fix some details. I want it to sort of cooperate with this you're going on here.

Ok, just post up when your ready...for now, we'll just continue on with the backstory of Redlance and Nightfall...the great escape is underway!!

A Mating Unaware

She was incredibly warm under the furs, so much so she didn’t want to wake up and lose a bit of the heat, but she did anyway. Nightfall knew she had to, so with a sigh she woke to see the fire stoked again, Small Bear gone, but Red Mark still sitting in his spot with her head in his lap. She moved her hand from where it was on his leg to hold the furs up. She saw his hand there on her side, and her other one holding his, the same place both had been for the whole night. A small smile crossed her face as she lowered the furs letting that warmth settle back into her body…right into her heart. A minute or two later there was a small knock on the side of the teepee. She felt Red Mark jump a bit as the flap opened and Small Bear poked his head in.

“Oki!” The Native boy called out with his smile.

She waved back to him as Red Mark spoke up. “Oki!”

Small Bear brought over a bowl and leather square putting them both in front of Nightfall then bowing as he stepped away. She sat up holding the fur tight about her looking down into pemmican and dried meat squares hungrily. Nightfall stopped though and looked first to Small Bear with a warm smile.

“Thank you.” She whispered nodding her head. Small Bear seemed to understand the gesture and smiled just a little wider as he pulled his flute out to play again.

She then turned to see Red Mark standing and stretching, his back making an audible crack which caused him to sigh with relief. “Will you eat with me?” She asked looking up to him.

Red Mark looked down and she could see in his eyes and smile that he wanted to say no, but she knew he wouldn’t. It was like reading a book all of the sudden, one she had finished and was reading all again because. She watched him sit and take a small bit of the pemmican on his fingers and a cube of the meat. She followed suit when Small Bear’s flute played a song that was surprisingly uplifting. Nightfall smiled from the sound and asked Red Mark what it was after licking her lips.

“It is a song about laughing water.” He answered with a nod and a grin.

“Laughing water?” She asked back.

“Yes, the stream on some mornings sounds like it is laughing to Small Bear. This is his song respecting that.” Red Mark continued while smiling more and taking another bite of the pemmican.

She sat listening intently to the tune and when Small Bear finished she clapped for him. The boy blushed and nodded his head understanding her smile and clap more than any word could ever do. Red Mark and Nightfall finished the breakfast after a minute leaving an empty bowl which he held up and spoke.

“Do you wan to go outside while I clean?”

“Yeah, I’d like to,” she whispered back.

Small Bear gave a whoop and ran out followed by Nightfall, who had taken the Buffalo hide to cover up with from the cold, and then Red Mark. The sun was over head, but Nightfall wasn’t sure what time it was, it might be noon. Red Mark saw her looking skyward and hazard a guess as to what she was trying find out.

“It is the middle of morning.”

“Oh, okay.” Nightfall said with a weak smile.

“By this time tomorrow you will be back with your family.” Red Mark smiled trying to reassure her.

“Really, you mean that?” Nightfall asked with hope.

“I promised little bird. I will take you home.”

She smiled so large from the response her face could barely hold it in place and he saw the hope there making him smile just as large. It wasn’t buried or hidden. She wanted to go home and if he had to risk everything to get her there he would do it, and she saw the look in his, the safety that no matter what he would get her home. Nightfall sighed scanning around at the Native camp for the first time seeing all the people walking to and fro. It didn’t look like her human friend Alice had said with dirty humans running around on all fours like a bunch of dogs. Nightfall didn’t like Alice much and this was just another reason why. A woman walked by, maybe in the middle of her life, and nodded to Nightfall.

“Oki”

She waved back noting the fact most of the people had been nice, all except for the one running the council and the one who wanted to take her away and the others who had tied her up. Nightfall turned to see Red Mark talking with Small Bear and just over his shoulder across the compound she saw him. It was Wind In The Trees, the mean one, the one who wanted to keep her here for some reason. She froze, but not from fear, no far from it. She was angry. Nightfall so wanted to walk over and hit him with a punch she could taste it but knew better. She wanted to go home. Red Mark wanted to taker her home so she wasn’t going to cause a problem, even though she really, really, wanted to.

Red Mark saw him then, staring at her, and took a casual step in between the two showing his back to the Brave. Nightfall reached down and took his hand staring back until Wind In The Trees moved off, a sinister grin creeping across his face.

“Is he going to watch me the whole time?” Nightfall asked.

“No,” Red Mark answered protectively.

“Can we go? I want to get away from here suddenly.” She asked.

“Yes,” Redmark said turning and walking. He led her through a group of teepees to the back of the camp to where a small stream ran past. It reminded her of Two-Moons and how the stream ran down past the town and out by that Hidalgo. Red Mark stopped by the edge of the water and knelt down to wash the bowl letting go of her hand and then immediately wishing he didn’t have to. Nightfall knelt by him washing her hands and arms letting the biting cold of the water seep in to wake up her senses. She looked around at the small valley thinking if she decided to run she wouldn’t begin to know where to go, everything looked the same in all direction. She looked over and noticed some of the older women of the tribe were gathering water in sacks and waved to them. They snorted and walked away without a wave or smile.

“I don’t think they like me much.” Nightfall said.

“They do not like anyone. That is why they are old and alone.” Red Mark joked with a small laugh.

Nightfall gave a small laugh as well with him then stood looking around at the serene beauty wondering what else this place held. As if he could read her mind Red Mark stood up and spoke to her. “Would you like to see more of the valley?”

“Oh yes, I’d like that.”

So Red Mark gave the bowl to Small Bear and then took Nightfall’s hand and helped her across the stream, even though she didn’t need it she let him. They walked away from the camp hand-in-hand and up a rise through the trees to the top of the hill. They moved down a gentle slope and past a tree line to an open flat where she saw the most incredible sight. Horses, maybe a hundred, ran to and fro across the field in groups and alone. She watched with a smile turning to him. “Are they Mustangs?”

“There are Mustangs and others. We let them run free like the horse spirit says to. We only ride the ones we need.” Red Mark answered.

“They are beautiful…” Nightfall whispered still astonished by the sight.

“Like you…” Red Mark whispered low, warmly.

Nightfall blushed again as he guided her up along the flat back into the trees for a bit. He showed her the whole rim of the small valley and it took till past lunch. He showed her a field of Butterflies, hundred and hundreds of them, flying around heading south for the coming winter he said, just like the tribe. A few landed on her shoulders and hair making her laugh happily. He then took her up to high spot where they could look down on the camp and see it all, every teepee and every person. He pointed out his and then the one where they were at council last night. She nodded solemnly and he noticed it.

“What, have I done something wrong?”

“No,” Nightfall said with a half smile, “I was just thinking of Clover my mare. I hope she’s okay…”

“I think she is fine. I will look for her after you have returned and if I find her I will bring your horse back to you.” Red Mark offered.

“You’d come to Two-Moons to bring me Clover?”

“Yes,” was all Red Mark said in return. It was all he needed to say, the look in his eyes saying he would keep the promise till his last breath.

She smiled at him with a little bit of wonder as he led her back down from the high ridge to the camp. He made sure she didn’t fall or hurt her ankle from the lose ground and rock of the slope. They made it down and slowly walked through the midst of the camp where as before Nightfall noted a mixed reaction. The older members of the tribe turned away from her while the younger ones waved and called to her and Red Mark. The mixed reaction didn’t bother her, but the looks from the Braves did. They watched her and Red Mark closely, each and every step they took it felt like, and all with eyes which seemed to have an unknown anger towards them. It made a shiver run down her back and wish to be home that much quicker. As they got back to Red Mark’s teepee Small Bear ran up and took hold of his arm. They exchanged some quick words then he turned back to Nightfall.

“I have to go and talk with New Moon. I’ll be back soon.” He said.

“Please don’t leave me alone.” Nightfall demanded quickly, a sudden fear gripping her.

“Small Bear will stay with you. He will keep you safe.” Red Mark offered, but it wasn’t enough for her.

“No, please, don’t leave me alone.” Nightfall whispered with the growing fear, the emotion easy to see in her brown eyes.

It only took a moment for Red Mark to decide he could not leave her alone, not frightened like this. He nodded with a half-smile and walked with her back to the stream where the morning had begun. New Moon was standing by the water’s edge and waved to them as they approached.

“Oki,” she said with a wave.

“Oki,” Red Mark responded while Nightfall and Small Bear waved.

New Moon walked over and leaned in close to Red Mark speaking to him in their language which sounded like Small Bear’s flute to Nightfall, like beautiful music. She wished she knew what they were talking about at the moment because Red Mark suddenly tensed.

“Where did you go?” New Moon asked with worry in her tongue.

“I showed Little Bird the valley and the horses. What is wrong?” Red Mark asked back.

“Wind In The Trees has been up to something today. The Braves…they have been walking around looking for you two.” New Moon explained with a shake of her head.

“Do you think he will try something?” Red Mark asked quietly.

“Iron Cloud received word Chief Talltree is coming back by morning and so did He Who Keeps Watch. I am sure Wind In The Trees knows this. If they do something, it will be tonight.” New Moon explained.

“Would they do something?” Red Mark asked looking to Nightfall as he spoke.

“Would you risk Little Bird? Would you risk Iron Cloud? He is your friend and will come to your defense. He may be hurt if there is a fight.” New Moon retorted.

Again, it took only a second to decide, for Red Mark to come to a fateful outcome that he could live with. He turned back to New Moon and spoke. “I will take her back before the sun has risen. We will sneak out of the valley in the dark and I will take her to the town.”

“Red Mark,” New Moon said holding in her shock so as not to scare Small Bear or Nightfall, “If you go to the town the ones there will not let you come back.”

“We do not know that. They will let me come back…” Red Mark answered.

“Would you risk your life here in the tribe?” New Moon asked.

There was no answer from Red Mark. He had made his decision, it was done. He told his plan to New Moon and then to Small Bear on the walk back. The young boy had hidden the shock of the plan from Nightfall and only nodded and laughed as if a joke had passed between old friends. The rest of the afternoon slipped by slowly with Red Mark keeping a watchful eye on everyone that passed by his teepee. He made sure Nightfall was calm even telling her that Chief Talltree was coming in the morning and she would be home by mid-day tomorrow. She got excited and started talking about her mother and father and her friends Crescent and Cutter. Red Mark was relieved she was happy, relieved that she did not know what was about to happen.


Just as the night before the warm feeling of the furs and the fire put Nightfall into a deep sleep, but unlike the night before she didn’t wake up on her own. She felt a small nudge and when she opened her eyes a hand clamped over her mouth stopping any sound she might have tried to make. Nightfall jerked not sure what was happening and hoping it wasn’t Wind In The Tree coming for her. Then she looked up into those calm safe eyes and instantly relaxed even though she was still scared. Red Mark didn’t say anything, not a word, only held his finger to his lips and passed it flat over the ground. She understood he didn’t want t a sound from her, not a word, starting now. She sat up from the fur pile letting the warmth go and looked around to see Small Bear in his spot sleeping, snoring in fact, so it must be really early she thought. Red Mark helped her up to her feet and both walked quietly to the wall of the teepee, the side that led off to the woods and the rim of the valley. He picked up the hide wall slowly just enough for her to crawl through and motioned for her to go.

Nightfall wasn’t sure why they were sneaking off like this, but after the tense conversation this afternoon she would follow Red Mark if he said to, fully trusting his directions. She took a quick look around, as if getting one last glance at it all, and then dropped to her belly and slid through and out. The cold of the night wind cut into her skin and flesh and she gripped her shoulders suddenly wishing for that big Buffalo hide. Again, as if he read her mind, Red Mark put the hide over her shoulders and head cutting back the cold and the wind. Nightfall clutched the hide around her tightly as he put an arm around her shoulder and guided her away form the teepee in the dark.

She was as blind as a bat, but with his help she made it to the woods and up the slope about halfway before stopping. He pulled her into a thick bush forcing her down to a kneeling position as he looked out onto the trail they were on. Nightfall turned to ask him what was happening, but he held his finger to his lips again and she stayed quiet. A minute passed by with no sound, and then a shadow trotted past. The form was a human and even though Nightfall couldn’t make out his face she knew it was one of the Braves that had been watching them that afternoon from hiding spots. The Brave stopped just a foot or so from their spot, looked around, and then stayed perfectly still listening for any sound. After what felt like an eternity, when nothing caught his ears, the Brave moved off back down the trail toward the camp. Red Mark gave the Brave an extra minute to get some distance between them then led Nightfall out of the cover and up the trail as quickly as he dared. Once they reached the rim of the valley they cut to the south and started over the flat that they had seen the horses at earlier. The moon was behind the clouds giving them the advantage of a dark night as they moved silently across the field.

With the tension of the moment it felt like it took a good hour to make it to the other side, but Nightfall knew it wasn’t more than ten or fifteen minutes at best. Once there at the trees they found an old bay tied up with a set of rope reigns and no saddle. Red Mark was about to take the reins from the tree when Nightfall took his arm in her hand and whispered.

“What’s happening?”

“We have to go now…Wind In The Trees will take you by force if not.” Red Mark whispered back.

“I thought your chief was going to send me back in the morning!” Nightfall hissed at barely a whisper.

Red Mark shushed her and looked around. After being satisfied no one was around to hear them he turned back to her. “How do you know that?”

“You told me…” Nightfall whispered hoping he would tell her due to the lie and she could protect New Moon’s secret.

“I did?” He asked grabbing her by the waist, picking her up, and putting her on the horse in side saddle fashion.

“Yes, and won’t you get into trouble for doing this?”

“I told you that too?”

“We can go back. We don’t have to run away!” Nightfall pleaded trying to get him to listen.

Red Mark just shook his head ‘No’ and moved over getting the reins of the horse and leading it into the trees. Nightfall stopped talking as the pair became enveloped by the quiet of the dark each listening for any sound of an approaching person. The going was slow and she wasn’t sure how far they had gone when the sun started to come up throwing light onto the trail in small shafts through the tree limbs. After a few more minutes Red Mark stopped them and then jumped on the Bay behind her reaching around and taking the reins.

“Will you get into trouble doing this?” She asked him looking into his eyes.

He might have lied, might have been able to if she hadn’t looked at him. There was no use to do it now, he couldn’t. “I was in trouble when I took you from Wind In The Trees, this can do nothing to help.”

“What are they going to do to you?” She asked worried.

“You do not need to know this…”

“No, tell me, what are they going to do to you?” Nightfall asked harsher with fear in her voice now.

“They will try to fight me, make me fight them…” Red Mark answered.

“They’re going to hurt you?” She whispered.

“Yes…maybe more…” Red Mark replied calmly, truthfully.

Nightfall gasped and then started to squirm and try to get down from the horse, but Red Mark was ready for her actions. He squeezed her into him hard pinning one arm against her side, but the one against his chest slipped out. She began to scream and hit his hand trying to get free.

“No! Take Me Back! We can wait for Talltree! Please, stop! They’ll kill you!” She wailed. She knew it in her heart even though he didn’t say it. He didn’t need to because just like that book she had red this chapter once before.

“Better me than you,” he whispered abruptly, honestly.

The remark stopped her in an instant. Nightfall turned and looked into his eyes, the safety there replaced by certain sadness. He had known all along they would have to run, that he would have to face whatever punishment the others would give for taking her back. The promise to take her home, the one she had felt so secure in, might just be his end.

“No,” she spat hitting his hand again trying to get free, “take me back! I don’t want you to die! We can wait for Talltree! We can wait!”

He didn’t answer, there were no words he could say to soothe her. She fought like a Brave trying to get free, and even when they spotted the young elf settler who ran up at them from the bottom of the rise she still fought. He could hear her scream for him as he rode away with tears rolling down his cheek. Red Mark blocked Nightfall out and rode back steeling himself for what was about to come. He rode the Bay back at a slow trot hoping to time his arrival with Talltree’s. Red Mark reached the flat with the horses and let the Bay go to run with his brothers. Then he started back to camp, each step feeling heavier then the next. She was home he kept telling himself, Little Bird is safe.

Red Mark said it to himself again and again as he stepped into the camp and the screams of anger went up from the Braves including Wind In The Trees.

Red Mark chanted it to himself as they ran at him and he held his hands up indicating he wouldn’t fight them.

Red Mark held it tightly to his heart as the first blow landed knocking him to his knees.


Nightfall didn’t say a word to anyone until she was back at the restaurant sitting with her mother and father, surrounded by friends and loved ones. They had asked if she had been touched, been violated, but she said no. He wouldn’t let them she said in a low voice.

“Who sweetheart?” Brownberry asked back

“Red Mark…”

“Well, we’ll have to thank him if we ever see him for keeping you safe. I owe him more than he’ll ever know.” Brownberry whispered wiping away a tear.

“I want to see him again momma…I want to protect him the way he protected me. I don’t want him to get hurt because of me…” Nightfall cried letting the last die off as she put her head on Brownberry’s shoulder. Longbranch held them both saying a small wish for the safety of the elf that had helped his daughter, where ever he was right now.

For a week and a half Nightfall still didn’t say a word to anyone when asked about the time in the Native camp except the small responses uttered when she was first brought home. She would talk about anything else but that. Cutter tried to talk with her but it didn’t lift her spirits. Crescent slept over trying to help, but Nightfall had withdrawn away from her sister. All she thought about was Red Mark and if he was alive after he rode off. She wished for him every night, to still be alive…

And then one afternoon, after lunch, Deputy Stump walked into the school house right up to Mrs. Clearbrook’s desk and leaned over. She got a worried look, he gave her one of assurance back, and then she turned to the class.

“Children, you need to get your things and go straight home. I will check with your parents and if I find out you did not go home I will keep you after school tomorrow, understand?”

There was a murmured yes from the group, and a few hard swallows from the past experience with Mrs. Clearbrook’s punishment that made Stump laugh.

“Nightfall, Crescent, Rainsong, Cutter, Dart and Woodlock, please stay for me after everyone leaves.” Mrs. Clearbrook said.

The small group held back until everyone was gone. Woodlock leaned over to Dart and whispered with a little worry. “Do you think they know we did it?”

Dart just shook his head and hissed making Woodlock go quiet as Deputy Stump walked up and stood in front of them. He looked them all over, up and down, and then stopped on Nightfall locking eyes with her. “We need you to come down to your parents’ restaurant little one.”

“Why sir?” She asked with a worried look. Her mind was running over the last few days trying to figure out what she had done to get into trouble, other then getting held captive for two days by Natives.

“It seems your Native friend, the one who helped you so much, just brought your horse back.”

The look of surprise on each small face was priceless. Stump wished someone was there to sketch each one. Twelve wide eyes, six gaping mouths, and one large gasp.

Yep, it was all priceless.

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Wiseshaman

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PostSubject: A Mating Unaware - Part Three   Wed Nov 18, 2015 11:12 pm

Ok my people, let's keep this train rolling on with the next part of the backstory for Redlance and Nightfall...

A Mating Unaware

He looked to the outside through the bars of the cell window curiously trying to see everything he could but only catching sight of the alleyway between the Jail and the large wooden building next door, what he heard someone call the courthouse. The cold wind of winter blew through the bars causing the twin feathers with blue tips tied into his hair twirl. Red Mark wanted to see more, need to see more, so he looked around then grabbed the bars and pulled himself up off the floor to try and get a better look outside.

“Hey, stop that breed!” A harsh voice called out.

Red Mark dropped back down and turned to the sound of the voice. It was the man with the metal star on his vest, the same one who had stopped him as he rode into town toward the building he had seen Nightfall enter earlier. He was the same one who had held a large two-barrel gun on him while the other man with the same metal star on his vest too put the set metal rings on his wrist that were there now, connected by a short metal chain. Red Mark twisted the metal rings so the bindings didn’t hurt his wrist as much as he spoke quietly. “I did not mean to do anything wrong. I am sorry.”

The man only hissed the word ‘breed’ again and went back to reading something on the desk. Red Mark sighed and sat down on the metal bed wondering if Nightfall knew he was in the room surrounded by metal bars. He hoped the men had the decency to at least take care of Clover. As he was sitting there he heard some boots approach the door to the jail and when he turned to look he had to hold back the grimace of pain on his face from the many bruises his sides. He saw another elf just like himself only older and a little taller with a wide hat and carrying a big black bag coming in. Then behind him he saw the young elf that he left Nightfall with that fateful morning, which felt like a lifetime ago. A small smile crept across his face while the older elf stopped by the desk and spoke to the human.

“All right Walt, Marshall Garrett sent me over to take a look at the boy. I need to make sure he’s all right.”

“No worries, he’s right as you, Rain! Get it?” Walt said with a hacking laugh.

“Yep, I got it the first fifty times Walt. Now open the door so I can check on him please.” Rain said with an exasperated sigh.

Red Mark stood up off the bed still holding his grimace in as Walt started to unlock the door then stopped after seeing him move. The older man seemed intent to make sure he wasn’t going to be a danger, which was hard to do with bruised ribs and tied Red Mark thought.

“Don’t be trying anything breed.” Walt called out with a snarl.

“Shut up Walt! He’s not going to attack us and stop calling him that name.” The young elf spat giving the old human a taste of his own medicine.

“What would you know Cutter? You may be the son of Bearclaw but that don’t carry no weight in here son.” Walt shot back trying to even things…too bad it didn’t work.

“The day we get a new Marshall, Walt, is the day I’ll be at the entrance to Town ready to kick your ornery hide right across the city limits.” Cutter said calmly and coldly.

Rain turned and was sure the two were going to come to blows. He was about to step in when the young elf behind him in the cell spoke suddenly and strangely calm. It kept the blows at bay it seemed like. “Please, it is fine. I will not attack anyone.”

The three froze for a second looking over to the Native as he held his hands up in a display of surrender. Rain smiled and turned to Walt. “I don’t see a problem Walt, now open the door or you can explain why I’m wasting my time here to Marshall Garrett.”

“All right, all right, I’ll get the door open.” Walt spat turning the key and opening the lock.

Red Mark stood still as the cell door opened and Rain entered the cell with a warm smile. “I hope you’re not scared son. We don’t mean to hurt you.”

“Some of us do.” Cutter shooting a glare over to Walt who gave it right back.

“I am fine.” Red Mark replied to Rain with a smile that was nice and calm.

“Good, now no one here has hit you, right?” Rain asked.

“No, no one has hit me.”

“Good, now can you lift your shirt off there for me? By the way what is that, deerskin?” Rain asked helping Red Mark pull his thick buckskin shirt over his head along with the velveteen one he wore underneath. The long frayed ends of the shirt got tangled a bit as Red Mark shivered from the cold.

“We’ll be done here in a minute. I wish they would have put you in the cell next to the stove to keep you warm at least. You’ve been in fight recently, haven’t you son?” Rain asked. The doctor could see the fading bruises on the back and sides of the boy.

“Yes, it was because I broke a law. I am fine now.” Red Mark answered holding off the shivers.

The sounds of another person approaching caught everyone’s attention except Rain who was focused on checking Red Mark out. Another elf walked up wearing a pair of dungarees and a cotton shirt under a heavy coat with boots, but he also had a worn hat and an eye patch over his left eye. The elf stopped and stared at Red Mark before turning around to Cutter.

“Is that him Cutter?” The elf asked.

“Yeah, it’s him One-Eye.” Cutter said back not taking his eyes off Red Mark.

Suddenly Rain’s fingers hit a black spot along Red Mark’s ribs causing the Native to hiss with the pain. “I see you’re still sore just a bit. We’ll have to keep a watch on these bruises then. Have you had any difficulty breathing?”

“Only after I was hit.” Red Mark grinned.

The small joke made Rain finish with a laugh as he stood back letting Red Mark get dressed. The doc then left the cell to stand beside Cutter while One-Eye looked over to Walt. “The Marshall wants him and his things brought over to the restaurant as soon as he’s ready Walt.”

“All right, all right, I’ll be along” The deputy waved locking the cell door back.

The three left the jail and headed up the street a bit to Brownberry’s restaurant going in even though the ‘Closed’ sign was on the door. As soon as Cutter stepped through the door he could hear his father arguing with Marshall Garrett. To say the two could see eye to eye was like saying Strongbow would happily let Crescent, his precious daughter, marry a troll.

Would never, ever happen.

“You can let the boy go Tom. He ain’t no threat, unlike our Deputy Dale there! We’re lucky old dead eye Dale and Walt didn’t blow a hole in him with that shotgun.” Bearclaw said with a tone that was half threat and half mocking.

“Right, and you would have just let a Native ride right up to the school with a tomahawk and knife! You don’t have to like me Bearclaw, hell knows I don’t like you, but I’m going to protect this town and the humans and elves in it!” Marshall Garrett shot back.

“Yeah, and just what was that breed doing anyway? Me, I say he was scouting us for a war party.” Deputy Dale spoke up.

“He was bringing Clover back to Nightfall you idgit. And stop calling him that name.” Brownberry said angrily.

“What, you two related or something?” Dale sneered.

“No, but he saved my daughter so we might want to show him a little more respect and hospitality.” Longbranch countered protecting his wife even though everyone knew she needed no such thing.

“Listen, we’re not saying you don’t protect us Tom, but the boy was alone and didn’t cause a lot of trouble. And he did keep Nightfall alive and safe.” Joyleaf offered trying to calm everyone.

“Yeah, we’re in a hell-of-a-lot of trouble from one Native boy!” Bearclaw spouted before Joyleaf hit him.

Tom may have tried to fire back in the verbal war but Nightfall, who was sitting holding her mother’s hand at the counter popped up off the stool as Cutter walked over.

“Is it him?” she asked anxiously walking up.

Cutter looked around the packed room at all the faces. There were his parents Bearclaw and Joyleaf. Dart and Crescent were here with their parents Moonshade and Strongbow and Rain with his Daughter Rainsong and her beau Woodlock. Mrs. Clearbrook with her husband One-Eye was there in one corner and of course Mrs. Brownberry and Mr. Longbranch, Nightfall’s Parents. He looked back to her hoping the truth didn’t make her pass out.

“Yeah, it’s him, they have him in the back though away from the stove so it’s cold and he’s in handcuffs…and…”

“What? What is it Cutter?” Crescent asked suddenly in fear as the elf’s words trailed off. She felt her father’s hand on her shoulder and turned to see the glower that told her to keep quiet for now.

“Is there something wrong with him Rain?” Brownberry asked the doctor worried.

“Oh he’s healthy, but someone or a group of who knows what beat him bad. If I had to take a guess, I’d say it was axe handles or clubs with a few kicks and punches thrown in for good measure. Most of the bruises have healed or almost healed, but his ribs and back are pretty tender still and need some more time. I’ll keep an eye on him no worries.” Rain explained.

“They put him in handcuffs…in a cold cell…when he’s hurt…” Nightfall whispered with a shake of her head. Cutter could tell she was upset, angry, and getting angrier by the second, letting it just build and build. It was Trick Shot’s way and it could end up bad for someone if left alone.

“He’s okay Trick Shot…he came back like you said he promised he would.” Cutter said grabbing her shoulder, offering his rock solid assurance to her like he had always done for her in the past.

“Thank you Cutter…” Nightfall whispered back finally looking him in the eye with a small smile.

“Why do you have him in handcuffs Tom?” Longbranch suddenly asked with frustration.

“Do I have to repeat myself people. He was going to the school with a tomahawk and a knife. I had no idea what he was thinking or going to do.” The Marshall spat.

“Please,” Clearbrook broke in, “let’s calm down and stop accusing each other. It’s not doing a bit of good in helping to decide what we’re going to do with the boy now that he is here.”

“Aye, the lad’s here so we might as well just deal with it. I don’t think he was going to do anything dangerous to the students nor is he going to bring the whole Blackfoot tribe down with him on us either.” One-Eye added.

Deputy Treestump stepped up in between Bearclaw and the Marshall while spinning his hat in his hand. “You did the right thing Tom, but it’s as clear as the day is long the boy’s alone and not a threat. I say we turn him over to Longbranch and Brownberry. We can all keep an eye on him.”

Marshall Garrett face took on a sneer as he looked hard at Stump before speaking coldly to him. “Well, I’m damn glad my deputy backs me. But you know what, I’ll decide if he’s safe with a couple of questions when he gets here.”

Crescent walked over from her mother’s side and stood next to her sister taking a hand in hers. “I can’t wait to meet him, is he handsome?”

“Crescent!” Moonshade hissed at her daughter’s forward manner, even though it was just like her daughter to be that way. Crescent was a free spirit, as wild as the horses her father trained and took care of.

The room fell into an awkward silence for a minute as the group who stood for Red Mark exchanged hard stares with the ones who didn’t. Then Cutter spotted Walt and that mop of bright red hair walking by the window. “Here he is.” Cutter said with a nod toward the door and just as everyone turned to look the entrance to the restaurant opened.

They all watched as Red Mark carefully entered the room looking around and up and down curiously with large eyes trying to take everything in. He spun in a complete circle just past the doorway making the feathers in his hear twirl, which irritated Walt to no end so he gave a small shove to the Native to get him all the way inside. Red Mark stumbled into a chair from the push and everyone jerked in fear that he was going to fall, but then he caught himself at the last minute. He looked around the room at each and every person slowly, taking them in just like he did the room when he walked in. And as he looked to them they all saw the fading dark of the bruised cheek and black eye on his face.

“Come here son, let’s have a talk.” Marshall Garrett said pointing to a spot by him.

Red Mark obeyed and walked over, but on his way he saw Nightfall between Cutter and Crescent and gave her a small wave that set the chain on the hand cuffs to swaying.

“Oki i'nákohtssi pi'kssíí.” He said in that musical tongue with a smile that made you feel safe and secure. Crescent fell like a rock into that smile and those eyes. Her heart skipped a beat as she waved back absently along with Nightfall who waved too.

“What did he say?” Cutter asked.

“He called me Little Bird. It was the name he gave me when he found me.” Nightfall answered while smiling back.

Walt shook his head walking over to the side of Deputy Dale before dropping off the things of the Native boy on the counter, as Red Mark stopped by the Marshall.

“What’s your name son?”

“I am Redlance.” He answered.

“I thought it was Red Mark?” Nightfall suddenly asked.

The Marshall shot her a quick hard look which meant to be quiet before turning back to Redlance. “I take it the name change and the feathers have something in common.”

“I am a Brave now. Chief Talltree said I stood strong for him, like a spear, when I could have run. He gave me my feathers before the tribe left for the winter camp.” Redlance answered with a hard swallow.

“The tribe’s gone south and left you here, behind?” The Marshall asked.

“Yes, I have been…um…” Redlance tried to answer, hanging on a word again. He looked to the floor as the memory of the morning two days ago came back. He was standing there with the reins for Clover and the old Bay in one hand while waving goodbye to Iron Cloud and New Moon and Small Bear with the other. Redlance fought the tears that wanted to come now better than that morning that he said goodbye. He could at least hold the pain back this time.

“Cast out?” Clearbrook spoke up.

“Yes,” Redlance said looking up quickly to her before turning back to Marshall Garrett, “I have been told to stay away until the elders ask me to return.”

There was a gasp from someone in the room, Rainsong the Marshall thought, before he asked another question ignoring the reaction. “They did this because you helped Nightfall, because you helped her escape?”

“Yes, I broke the law of He Who Keeps Watch. Chief Talltree had no choice as the elders said sending me away was needed.” Redlance sighed.

“And the tribe was the one who gave you all the bruises? They’re the ones who beat you?”

“Yes,” Redlance whispered looking at the floor again not wanting to answer the question, “I would not fight the other Braves. They hurt me but it was because they did not understand what they were doing.”

“So you’ve got no place to call home anymore, eh?” The Marshall said almost fatherly.

“No, I have a small camp outside of town. I can live in the woods on my own.” Redlance replied looking back up at the Marshall.

“The horse, that’s the only reason you came to town, to give Clover back to Nightfall?”

“Yes, I promised Little Bird, I mean Nightfall, that I would find her horse and bring it back to her.”

“Why were you riding to the school?” The Marshall asked.

“I saw her and her friends go in that…Skol. I did not know I was not allowed to go there.” Redlance said having trouble with the word.

The Marshall stared at the boy hard, but the Native didn’t flinch or look away which was good sign to Tom. He took a deep breath and spoke trying not to sound like an ass but wanting to drive his point home. “Do you know how much trouble you’ve caused us, the law, here son?”

“Yes, and I will leave if that is what you want. I will never come back if that is what it takes to make things right.” Redlance answered quickly with a heavy heart. The thought of leaving was at least bearable with seeing her one last time…if it made things right.

Yet, before the Marshall could say a word Nightfall broke from Crescent and Cutter crossing the room in hurried steps. She stopped by Redlance’s side and looked up into Marshall Garrett’s eyes with a strong gaze that some may have taken as defiance, but the old law man knew better.

“Please Marshall. Redlance was just doing what he promised to do for me. He wasn’t trying to hurt anyone and we shouldn’t punish him anymore for a mistake. Please, let me take the cuffs off, he’s not dangerous. I promise.”

Tom Garrett was no slight of a man, but when he looked into those brown eyes he felt a twinge of his heart. He could have told her no, should have told her no, but it just wasn’t possible after hearing her request and seeing those eyes. The Marshall reached down and took the ring of keys off his belt and handed them to Nightfall. She only smiled brightly at him, which made his heart feel suddenly lighter, before turning to Redlance. Nightfall took his hand in hers and gently held it in place as she put the key into the lock on the handcuff.

“I am sorry for causing all this trouble Little Bird.” Redlance whispered to her. The right handcuff gave an audible pop as the ring swung open freeing his wrist and causing some to jump in the quiet room.

“You have nothing to be sorry for. We’re the ones who need to apologize to you, for acting like a bunch of fools.” Nightfall whispered back noting the angry red welt the cuff had made on his wrist.

She did the same for the left letting the heavy handcuffs fall to the floor with a clash and bang. Redlance rubbed his wrists to get rid of the pain in them then bent and picked up the cuffs off the floor. Nightfall took them from him and then turned to the Marshall with a look of relief and thanks.

“Thank you Marshall Garrett.”

“It’s all right ma’am. You can stay in town son, but we’ll be keeping an eye out.” The Marshall said taking the cuffs and the keys from Nightfall. He gave a nod to everyone before heading for the door.

The two deputies followed with Dale leaning in and whispering harshly as he passed by Redlance. “Yeah, we’re gonna watch you real close, son.”

“That cuts both ways Dale.” Nightfall whispered back just as harsh.

The room went back to the awkward silence after the men left. Nightfall wanted to say so much, hug him even, but not with all these eyes on them. Then she heard Cutter walk up and never had she been so grateful for her friend to be with her.

“Hi, my name’s Cutter. I’d like to thank you Redlance for helping Nightfall and I’m sorry for the way you were treated.” Cutter said holding out his hand.

Redlance only smiled and took Cutter’s hand with his giving it a firm but relaxed handshake. “Thank you for taking Nightfall back to her parents. I would have but I had to return to my tribe.”

“They beat you pretty bad didn’t they?” Cutter asked.

The smile turned inward just a bit as Redlance shook his head while answering, “better me than Little Bird.”

There was small yelp suddenly making the two look over, along with everyone else, to the counter where Brownberry was using one hand to cover her mouth and the other wave at everyone while speaking.

“I’m sorry…”

“It’s all right Brownberry.” Joyleaf whispered patting her hand while smiling widely from the remark.

Nightfall took Redlance’s hand and led him over to the counter to introduce him to her parents who smiled as he walked up. “Papa, Momma, this is Redlance. He’s the one who took care of me while I was gone. Redlance, this is my father and mother.”

“Oki,” Redlance said with a big smile.

“Good afternoon Redlance, my name is Longbranch.” Nightfall’s father said stretching over the counter to offer a handshake.

He took it and shook it with the same firm but relaxed grip as Brownberry spoke up with a happy voice. “Are you hungry Redlance?”

“Yes, I had some berries in my pouch but the…deputy ate them all.” Redlance chuckled.

“I’ll go back and get some stew and cornbread for him. Does anyone else want some?” Longbranch asked.

A bunch of hands went up and he took a quick count before heading through the swinging door. Redlance was busy trying to see what was back there while sitting down on a stool at the counter. Nightfall took the one to his left immediately with Crescent right at her side still looking at Redlance with a dull happy look. Bearclaw and Joyleaf were on his right with Cutter just behind his shoulder. Everyone else introduced themselves and even though it was a lot of names Redlance remembered each and every one.

“So you’re alone? The tribe just kicked you out for bringing Nightfall home?” Woodlock suddenly asked with incredulity.

“Woodlock, what kind of question is that?” Moonshade exclaimed harshly, but it didn’t equal the look Strongbow gave the boy.

“I’m sorry…” Woodlock grimaced shrinking back.

“It is okay, “Redlance spoke up with a smile looking at everyone around him, “Black Feather, our medicine man, told me he had a dream that I would leave and walk my own path separate from the tribe. That I would make a new family, but one day I would be welcomed back to my brothers and sisters in the tribe.”

“Where are you going to stay at now?” Rainsong asked quickly.

“I will stay in the woods outside of town.” Redlance said rubbing his wrist. He was looking at Woodlock when he felt a small hand take his wrist and he turned to see Nightfall gently running her fingers over the welts.

“Momma, can I get a wet towel?” She asked.

“Sure thing sweetie,” Brownberry said handing over a wet one from behind the counter. Nightfall gently wrapped it around his wrist, just like he did for her a week and a half ago, and pressed it to soothe the wound.

“Thank you…” Redlance whispered to her.

“I just wish I could take the pain away.” Nightfall whispered back meeting his eyes warmly.

“Well, we’re not going to let you live out in the woods son, not after what you did for our Trick Shot.” Bearclaw said with a raised eyebrow.

“We have a spare room at our place. He can bed down there?” Rain said with a nod.

“Now wait a minute, I pointed out the situation so I get to offer him our spare room first.” Bearclaw countered diplomatically, which shocked everyone in the room. The elf rarely showed a side other than the wild one everyone knew of.

“We have a room upstairs he can stay at, and since it was my daughter he helped it’s my obligation to let him stay there.” Brownberry said with an air of superiority.

Longbranch appeared out of the back with a tray filled with bowls of stew and small plates of corn bread. He put the tray down on the counter while asking his wife what was going on. “What are we discussing?”

“Who gets the honor of keeping Redlance, it down to us, you, and Rain.” Joyleaf explained with a smile.

“Oh, that’s easy, he’s staying with us in our spare room.” Longbranch said with certainty.

“You know, before we have a fight and I take you all to jail making Tom a happy man, let the boy decide?” Deputy Stump said.

All the eyes turned to Redlance and the sudden attention unnerved him. It was suddenly so hard to breathe and the room felt so hot. Nightfall looked into his eyes and saw the fear that threatened to drag him under and she spoke up quickly.

“We’ll take care of him. It’s my choice, like he did for me that night.” She said turning to look at everyone. No one spoke only smiled understanding that this was something Nightfall had to do, and it wasn’t to make anything or everything even. It was simple compassion, the return of what he gave her.

“There, it’s decided.” Longbranch said with a smile passing out the steaming bowls.

When the bowl touched the counter in front of Redlance he looked down at the contents of the stew hungrily. All the meat and floating vegetables, along with the smell helped to make his stomach grumble as he picked up the spoon Longbranch had given him. As soon as the spoonful hit his mouth his was smiling broadly.

“Is it good?” Brownberry asked with a warm smile

“This taste better than pemmican!” Redlance responded taking another bite.

The others laughed and ate. Brownberry watched Redlance eat with a feeling that this was supposed to be. That of all the people that could have found her Nightfall that day on the trail fate had chosen him, because it knew he would bring Nightfall safely back. She took her husband’s hand in hers and gripped it tightly with a warm heart watching Redlance eat not one but two bowls of her stew and a thick slice of cake.

After they finished the young ones all went out for a walk around town to show Redlance the shops and sights while the adults discussed other things. Strongbow stepped up with his usual characteristic hardness and offered to let Redlance work with the small ranch and the horses after he was let out by Mrs. Clearbrook. The declaration shocked everyone in the room as the horse whisperer had never been that friendly or open to bring on new help, but then when Crescent heard the news she practically floated out of the room. He could help out in the restaurant if needed Longbranch said, but Brownberry had no intentions of asking him to. In her eyes, after what he had done for Nightfall, there was nothing she would take as payment for feeding and sheltering him.


He bounced on the side of the bed feeling the softness of the mattress and wondering how someone could sleep on something so soft. It was too squishy, gave way too easy to hold you up all night. Redlance was thinking about sleeping on the floor with some of blankets, it would be more like his teepee with the tribe. And the memories of New Mon and Small Bear and his whole family with the Blackfoot came spilling back. His heart felt like it stopped cold with the want to see them, to hear them talk and laugh. Along with Iron Cloud the three had been the only family he had ever known, the only ones who loved him and cared for him even though he was a pointed ear elf. Somewhere deep down he wished he could go back and be with them, laughing and talking again.

Then he pushed, no slapped that thought away.

Because if he was with the tribe that meant he wasn’t here now, that he didn’t find Little Bird on that broken trail that afternoon. That he didn’t see her, didn’t help her, and didn’t feel for her the way he did. And he couldn’t live with that. Redlance knew he was in love, so deep it threatened to drown him. Black Feather had seen it coming the medicine man said when he came to see him the next day after the Braves had attacked him. The medicine man told him it was time, that he had seen in a dream his red haired Brave chasing after a little bird who had taken his spirit, his heart. He also saw a great boar too though that would stand at the red hair’s side as a brother and there was a new family waiting for him in the town of outsiders. It was time to walk a different path, a time to be brave. At the moment, lying in the furs hurting, all Redlance could think of was seeing Nightfall again, and he still only wanted to see her. A knock at the door to the room broke him out of his trance with a snap.

“Enter,” Redlance called out not sure what to say and cringing with hope he got it right.

The door opened slowly as Nightfall stepped in then closed it behind her. He could see the blanket in her hands and wondered why she would bring him another one when Brownberry had already given him four or five that were in a stack in a small chair in the corner.

“I brought you another blanket, in case you needed another one. It might get a little cold up here.” Nightfall said with a smile laying the blanket on the bed next to him.

He looked down and noticed her small feet which were bare of the black ankle boots she wore under the hem of her dress. He could imagine those feet walking in the high grass of the spring camp, walking next to his in the valley again. He felt her hand on his shoulder and he realized he had slipped back into a daydream as she was asking him something.

“I am sorry…I was thinking…” Redlance stammered shaking his head while looking at her getting lost in the brown eyes.

“You were thinking of them weren’t you, Small bear and New Moon and Iron Cloud?” Nightfall asked quietly.

“Yes, I miss them…” Redlance answered.

“I’m so sorry Redlance. I feel like I’ve caused you all this pain.” Nightfall whispered shaking her head.

“No,” Redlance said quickly, “there is no pain. I am where I should be, where I want to be.”

“Really?” Nightfall asked with the beginnings of a smile.

“Yes, to go back and not be around you…it is no life I want.” Redlance said with his own smile.

The words made Nightfall feel weak all of the sudden. Her heart skipped and sputtered in her chest. She forced a quick breath to keep from passing out and changed the conversation as fast as she could talk. “Do we need to take out your feathers?”

“My feathers?” Redlance asked lost for a second.

“Yes, the ones Talltree gave you, do we need to take them out? Can we take them out? I mean if we’re not supposed too then we don’t have to, but if we can do you want me too?” Nightfall stammered trying to get herself under control.

“No, they can come out. I was going to ask if you could help me.” Redlance asked.

“Oh yes, I’d be happy too.” Nightfall said glad to be moving on.

She stepped up between his legs and pushed his head down into her chest to get better access to the hair braids that held the feathers. All at once her scent filled his nostrils with sweet lilac and fresh spring flowers. He could feel the warmth coming off her body, sense each breath that made her stomach and chest expand and then contract. He felt her fingers rub against his scalp, twirl through his hair unbraiding the strings that held the feathers in place. What Nightfall felt just a second ago attacked him now as his own heart skipped and fluttered and before he could stop he was reaching up with a hand and putting it at the small of her back, next to her hip. Nightfall stopped immediately at the touch causing Redlance to panic instantly.

“I’m sorry,” He said quickly as the feelings for her dropped away, “I should have asked first…”

“No,” Nightfall said softly stopping his hand and putting it back on her hip, “I don’t mind…you don’t have to ask anymore.”

So he sat calmly with his hand gently resting on her hip feeling every touch, every small movement, and relishing all like it was his first breath of air. He wanted to tell her he loved her, would love her all his life, but he didn’t know if that was right. What if he said it and it wasn’t the right time? What if he said it to early or what if he shouldn’t say it, like he wasn’t supposed to touch her? Things like this were so much easier in the tribe. Mothers and fathers picked the one you should marry or arranged the marriage if two wanted to be wed, like New Moon and Iron Cloud, and that was it. There was no ‘courting’ or ‘stating intentions’. But here, in this world, it was so different… Oh, he was so damn lost…and he didn’t want to mess this up? He didn’t want to drive her away.

“There…I got em’ out.” Nightfall remarked sounding a little disappointed that she finally finished the task. She handed him the feathers as he leaned back away from her slowly, almost against his will.

“Thank you Little Bird.” Redlance said also sounding disappointed.

“I’ll see you in the morning then, for breakfast. It’s Saturday and Strongbow will expect you to help out at the ranch. I’ll ride up and help out too.” Nightfall whispered stepping back reluctantly from him and walking for the door.

She opened it then stopped at the entryway, at the precipice of leaving. All he had to do was say one word, just say he wanted her to stay and hold her like that night in the teepee in the camp. Just one word…

But he didn’t. “Good night Little Bird.”

“Good night Redlance.” She said back before stepping out and closing the door.

Once in the small hall Nightfall leaned up against the wall holding back the empty feeling in her stomach. She might have stayed there in that position all night if not for her father walking up behind her and gently touching her shoulder.

“You okay sweetie?” He asked startling her.

“Yeah…I’m okay.” She said nodding her head.

“Is he okay, not scared or anything?” Longbranch asked.

“No, he’s okay. Thank you Papa.” Nightfall said giving him a quick kiss on the cheek.

“For what?” Longbranch asked with surprise.

“For taking him in…for being so kind.” Nightfall whispered with a smile.

“And what else was I supposed to do for the boy who risked everything for my daughter?” Longbranch asked back giving her a warm hug and smile.

“Just what you’ve always done.” Nightfall said before walking to her room.

Longbranch watched her go then went down the hall to the backroom, his and Brownberry’s, with a smile still on his face. As he walked in and closed the door his wife asked from her spot on the bed about it.

“What are you smiling at?”

“Oh, I just saw our precious one outside of Redlance’s room.” He said.

“You leave them alone you old codger!” Brownberry said with a giggle.

Longbranch gave her a wink and quickly stripped down and put on his night pants as his wife spoke up with a question.

“Do you think she has feelings for him?”

“How can you not see it?” He asked back sliding into the covers of the bed.

“I know he has them for her.” Brownberry said with a warm smile.

“Well I don’t have to ask how you feel. And don’t think I won’t keep an eye out for you too. I see him making a play for you and he’s out of here.” Longbranch joked putting an arm around Brownberry and pulling her in close.

“I love you, you old codger!” She whispered snuggling into his arms.

“Now let’s be quiet. I want to see how long it is before she tries to sneak back into his room.” Longbranch whispered with a smile.

“She isn’t like that.”

“Now I remember you didn’t take that long to come down when I called to you from outside your bedroom window. And you were her age now when I started to court you.” Longbranch whispered rolling over and hugging Brownberry close.

“I could never resist you and you could never hold me down.” She answered.

“And how do you think those two will be?” He asked sleepily.

“Better than us hopefully.” She replied dreamily.

“Yep,” He said pulling the covers up and around them to seal in the warmth. They tried to stay up and listen for tiny footfalls, but after fifteen minutes they were fast asleep in each other’s arms.

Sometime during the night, after tossing and turning for what seemed hours, Nightfall finally rose and lit a small candle in her room. She picked the holder and shivered from the cold before moving to the door and opening it as quietly as she could. She looked back to her parents’ room relieved to see it quiet and dark. Nightfall treaded out of her room on light steps not making a sound as she went to the door to Redlance’s room. She looked around and then turned the knob quietly but stopped as it made a loud squeal that seemed to echo in the hall.

Nightfall froze with panic waiting for her father to come leaping out his room, but after a second the hall was still quiet. No screaming father, only the pounding of her heart. She waited a second or two more to catch her breath, and then finished turning the knob sighing in relief when there wasn’t another screech. She stepped in the room letting the light from the candle show her just enough without waking him, and she was shocked to see the bed empty. All the blankets were gone off the small chair, but the one she brought was lying on the edge of the mattress on the other side. She walked around the bed slowly and quietly to find Redlance sleeping heavily on the floor among the pile of blankets. A loving smile crossed her face as she put the candle down on the floor and sat down by him careful not to wake Redlance even though he was breathing so heavy she didn’t think a shot from her trusty Winchester could stir him. Just then he shivered and moved his head to the other side mumbling something she couldn’t make out.

She carefully sat down by his head at the top of the makeshift pile of blankets while leaning up against the bed. Her knees touched his cheek and she could feel his warm breath roll down her legs to her feet. Nightfall pulled the blankets up keep him warm then wrapped the one on the bed around her to keep out the cold. The last thing she remembered was taking his hand in hers and whispering gently before sleep took her.

“I’ll keep you safe tonight my gentle one. I’ll keep you safe from now on…”


The cold days of winter passed slowly at first for Nightfall and Redlance, but it was okay because they were together. They went for walks and rides outside of town when they could. He set beside her in Mrs. Clearbrook’s class in a spare chair working on a slate feverishly with every arithmetic problem she gave. And at the end of every one he would show the slate to Cutter, Nightfall, and Crescent and they would give him a smile of approval with a pat on the shoulder. She took notice Clearbrook did of the way the three bonded to Redlance with Cutter acting as the protector and Nightfall with Crescent like a pair of surrogate teachers. If someone said a disarranging word or shot Redlance a sideways look the son of Bearclaw let them know the Native boy was his friend and just as good as they were, maybe better. At every inquiry and question one would answer and the other show with an example though when it came to the explanation of a woman’s unmentionables there had to be some modesty…she hoped. His grasp of the tongue also improved immensely, only now he was taking on the local flavoring, like the use of certain curse words, which did not sit well with her. In the end though it was a small problem and he was a fine boy.

And the devotion broke the other way. Redlance looked to Cutter like he was a leader, someone to follow and honor. It may have unnerved Cutter at first, but then it mellowed into a strong bond. Redlance would stand by his friend’s side even when Cutter did something wrong that drew a punishment. She remembered the afternoon Redlance spent helping Cutter clean slates and erasers for something he wasn’t even around for, a remark the son of Bearclaw should have keep to himself. He paid the price for calling Tom Garrett a no good son-of-a-bitch. Redlance more than willingly paid the price with his friend, and Cutter enjoyed having a friend who wasn’t always asking to talk with the deadliest pistol shooter of the valley.

What Clearbrook couldn’t see were the days spent at work at Strongbow’s ranch. The horse whisperer was impressed with the boy’s handling of the horses. It was not at the level had mastered over the long years, but it was more than where a horse and someone bonded because they were always together. It was an understanding, a mutual respect between Redlance and the horse, which was the basis any horse whisperer started out with a new animal. Strongbow wasn’t sure if Redlance had it in him to take the talent any further but he already had a good start. Cutter, Bearclaw’s son, had it somewhat but wasted it at every turn. Maybe one day the boy would find a mount he could bond with if he took the time and patience to do it. If not, then Cutter would never enjoy the feeling you derived from riding a horse that wants you there with it step for step. For now, he’d train and help Redlance with what was there, but that was it. There was no need to go and get all hung up on the boy.

And he saw the way Crescent looked at Redlance, how she stole a glance every chance she could. He paid it no never mind, if something happened then it happened, but he also knew the way the boy looked at Nightfall. It was the same way he looked at Moonshade when she wasn’t looking at him. Yes, it was his daughter and she was as precious to him as Moonshade and he didn’t want her hurt, but he also knew trying to stop nature’s course was as futile as asking him to start liking people he didn’t know.

It was never, ever going to happen.

He missed one particular morning when Crescent had walked to the barn to check on Dart and Redlance as the pair put up hay in the loft. She spotted her brother down below tossing the small bales up to the Native. She called out when it looked like there was a break in the action.

“Good morning Redlance!”

“Oki Crescent! How are you?” He asked back throwing a bale to the back of the loft.

“I’m good, better now that we’re getting the hay up.” She yelled back.

He smiled back making her feel warm as her brother spoke up. “Yeah, you feel better because of the hay. It’s more like because of Redlance.”

“Shut up. You better get the chores done if you want to go to town and see Deputy Stump.” Crescent shot back as Redlance disappeared into the loft to do something.

“I’ll get mine done. Say, why are you so stuck on him anyway?” Dart asked.

“I’m not…” She said back quietly.

“You know he loves Nightfall. He’s never told her but you can see it, right?” Dart offered just as quiet to keep Redlance from hearing.

“I know that…and I’m not stuck on him.” She said again just as he popped out again from the loft.

“Okay, I’m ready for the next bales.” Redlance called down.

Crescent didn’t say a word and only watched as he worked. When the two were done Redlance climbed down and helped her with tack room. The hour or so they spent together in the small room cleaning the bridles and bits and various other things filled her heart with enough warmth to stay back when Nightfall rode up. Crescent loved Redlance, she knew this like anyone would, but she also loved her sister just as much, maybe more. The idea of hurting Nightfall made Crescent sick, so much so she would be willing to let the two be together while she hung back and took what she could from them. The thought that there might be someone else had crossed her mind more than once and had been dismissed almost as fast. There was no one else…no one she wanted but them.

And anyway it seemed the two wouldn’t let her stray. As soon as the tack room was done and there was free time the pair grabbed her by her hands and all three went for a ride. Crescent felt the love for both fill her soul, and added to the what she already had taken that day, she felt good. She felt warm. She felt needed. She felt loved by them both and she was happy.

And there was Cutter who started to hang around the group. Life at home was just starting to get hard for him and the friendship of the three kept him sane. Bearclaw was spending too much time at Greymung’s back room losing money that they didn’t have and getting into arguments that were so inconsequential it was crazy. Some had always thought Bearclaw was a troublemaker, his reputation preceding him most of the time, but what he was doing now seemed off the edge. Clearbrook knew the boy was strong, his mother and father’s blood ran fierce in him, but something’s were too big, too much to handle on one’s own. Cutter looked to Redlance, who had just as deep devotion for him as he did Nightfall, and was always at Cutter’s side when the four were together. As the cold of the winter gave way to fall the deer came back to the valley, and the usual hunting trips started up for the men and the boys, some making their first trips in the valley.

But while they were happy and glad to see the snow melts one girl and her parents weren’t. Nightfall had grown more anxious, frustrated, and unreachable to her friends as the days grew warmer and the cold receded. Brownberry followed a similar path burying herself in the kitchen at the restaurant too busy to talk with her friends Moonshade or Clearbrook and too testy for advice. Longbranch drove himself into his law books and the running of the restaurant turning away Treestump and One-eye and Bearclaw’s usual group things the men did. He even ignored Strongbow the one time the enigmatic rancher came down.

Cutter and Crescent knew what troubled their friend Nightfall while Clearbrook and Moonshade could guess what scared Brownberry. The men may have had a clue about Longbranch but kept it to themselves as they always did.

Every day the three waited on pins and needles for a rider to come down out of the hills looking for Redlance.

A rider that would come to tell him he was welcomed back into the tribe…

A rider who would come to take him away from them…

On the first big hunting trip it all came to a head though. One big merciful head…

___________________________________________________
Dubbed Streaking ADD Cowboy of Awesome Sagas by KindredSoul and nibblet
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Rainflower

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Thu Nov 19, 2015 3:52 pm

Thank you again, WiseShaman, for another posting. I love how Things develop.

Ny it's my turn. I Guess someone has red this before, someone may have not, but anyway, a cuick catchup: It's about Crescent, and her feelings during the time after Redlance's arrival. I have fixed some details I figured out were... well, it just needed a fix up, but the plot is still the same.

Here's the first part. I hope you'll like it.


All Good Things Are Three - Part 1

Crescent was far from happy this afternoon.

She was sitting right in an oat field, all alone, with nothing but silence around. A few crows flew around her, crying out their 'craw-craw's as they obviously had some kind of conversation going on.

And she was sad. Very sad. She still had tears left on her cheeks, although the warm afternoon sun had dried off most of them. . A wind blew and made the oat bells rattle and cause a light crescendo around her. The sun was going slightly into a calm, warm tone, which indicated it was going towards evening by now. The sun prepared to go down, but Crescent's mood were already there.

Her day had been quite disappointing, and it wouldn’t let go, no matter how hard she tried. Things had only gone from bad to worse all day long from the moment she got up and she got home. And so on.

First of all, she had to get up earlier than usual to help with the horses. It was a plank in the fence that had gone loose and the horses had escaped through it. She had helped her father and Luke and Bill gathering them together again, until she had been commanded to get ready for school by her angry father, who had been furious to get up this early for this mess. So she had been exhausted when she finely got on her way to school.

When she approached town, Crescent had been waiting for Nightfall outside the stable for what had to be thirty minutes, and then she had to hurry not to come too late to school; which had been quite a miserable try. Mrs. Clearbrook hadn’t been pleased at all her for both interrupting the class and getting too late at the same time. Besides, she hadn’t finished all her homework because she had to help out at the ranch the other day, and that didn't make anything better. But the homework’s had been so hard to do; it had been quite more than usual. Or, she hated to admit, it was because she had her mind somewhere else. It had been like that for quite a while, she had to admit to herself.

Ever since he came to town.

In the break of class, she had gone to look for Nightfall, who didn’t show up now either. Cutter had asked what she was doing, and she had said it.

“She’s probably with Red.” he had said with a grumpy tone, and when she thought it over, that was a natural explanation.

Her heart fell down in her stomach by the remembering of the tracker.

Of course Nightfall didn’t show up at school when he was here. She’d rather spend time with him than with her. She and Nightfall had planned to go riding into the forest after school. She had prepared by bringing her riding clothes in the saddle sack so she could change at the restaurant and they could ride out right after.

But when she thought of Redlance, she knew that trip would be all over the hills.

She remembered when Nightfall had come back after being captured by Redlance’s tribe. Nightfall had been so withdrawn towards her, only thinking about him. She hadn’t been able to talk to her about anything else, and after he came, she was been fixed on him twenty four hours at day. Sometimes it was like she didn’t exist to Nightfall anymore.

After school, Crescent hadn't had anything to do. Cutter was, like he had been at times, grumpy and moody and not at all pleasant to be around, and Rainsong was spending time with her sweetheart Woodlock. So instead, she had gone to talk with her mother about her problems. Besides, she might as well help her mother at the store. Her mother Moonshade was known for being patient and understanding, besides from strickt. Besides she and Crescent had a very good mother and daughter relationship. She always knew when she was troubled and always listened to what she had to say.

Just this day, she didn’t. And instead of helping out, she had seemed to appear as a problem herself.

Moonshade had been busy with the dress she had worked with, that when the bell rang when Crescent entered she had almost jumped up from her chair and stung herself at the needle. Blood came flowing out of the wound so fast she couldn’t stop it.

“High ones, child! Why scaring me that way?” Moonshade yelled and put her finger in her mouth to suck away the blood.

“I'm sorry, Ma!” Crescent said before her mother interrupted her by the sight at the three drops of blood that had landed on the dress she worked with.

“Oh no! The customer of this dress is coming today. She will be here any minute.” The dressmaker looked completely lost not knowing what to do.

“Try to put some cold water on it and it will go away.” Crescent tried. Brownberry had tried that on her dress once when she had help out in the kitchen and she cut herself at the knife and got blood on her dress. Brownberry had only rubbed a piece of clothing with cold water on the spot, and it disappeared.

“Well, go and fetch me some water then.” Moonshade said with a stressed voice, half angry fro the pain in her finger and because of the blood drops.

Crescent went to fetch the water. She got a bucket from the back room and there was a crane right outside the shop and that she hurried to. She was very quick she thought, but when she got back to the store there was a finer human lady talking with her mother. She was rather upset and Moonshade seem to neither know the way in or out of the situation.

“I am so very sorry for this, Mrs. Filwigger. I promise if you come back in an hour then I will have it done.”

The human lady raised her voice when she talked again. “I told you I needed it today and you promised me that it would be finished when I came. Well here I am and I see that it is NOT finished, AND you have even managed to get blood on it!”

Crescent felt sorry for her mother and felt that she had to help her out. She stepped forward to the human lady. “But it wasn’t her fault! It was me who… ”

The human lady, Mrs. Filwigger, turned to Crescent when she talked and if she didn’t have an angry look from being interrupted by a simple girl, she got furious now, when her arm burst into her. Crescent stepped a little back by the move and water came out of the bucket she was holding, and the woman screamed when she got water on her dress.

Moonshade quickly hurried to the customer to dry of her dress, and turned to her daughter. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Filwigger! Crescent, this is not the time! I’m having a costumer.”

“Not anymore!” The human lady turned her back on them and stepped to the door. “I’ll come for the dress tomorrow and IT BETTER be finished by then or I will not pay for this.” She walked to the door when she looked back with an icy look. ”You should also teach your daughter how to behave. She’s a terrible little brat. I have seen beggar boys behave better!” she said with an evil eye on Crescent.

Then the human lady disappeared and Moonshade was left quite up given. Crescent didn’t know what to do. She knew she was the reason that her mother’s costumer had left in anger. “Ma?”

“Now I have just lost one of my most expensive costumers.” Moonshade said sharply like she was talking to herself, or blaming her.

Crescent got the point and left without saying anything, only leaving the water bucket on the desk.

Outside she met on Brownberry who was on her way to Guttlekraw for some shopping. “Oh, hello Crescent.” she said to her.

Quite in her own thoughts, it took a moment before she got to herself and answered. “Oh... hello, Mrs. Brownberry.”

“Listen, I’m glad I met you. You have probably been waiting for Nightfall. I am afraid she cannot go riding with you today. She… Crescent?”

Crescent knew it was impolite to just run away like that, but she already knew why Nightfall hadn’t showed up today and didn’t need to hear it from others. She had been through enough already, and this didn't make it easier. She didn’t want Brownberry to see the tears that came on the reminding on top of it.

She had run for the stable to get her horse and ride home. When she rode through the gate to the ranch she put her horse in a paddock, putting away her saddle and reins and went to find her father.

Maybe he would listen to her problems. He too used to be a really good listener. He didn’t talk much, but he always listened. And maybe he would appreciate a little help. When she was a little girl, and she once hurt herself, he would

She found him working with the fence that was broken. She walked over to him, and he didn’t notice she was coming, so when she called for him, he hit wrong with the hammer so it landed on his hand. Crescent stopped when she saw him bite his teeth hard together in pure pain.

“You need help, Pa?” she said, but by the sound of her, he turned around with a furious look and an angry growl.

This was it; she couldn’t take it anymore. It hurt deep down in her heart and she was no longer able to hold her tears back.

“Sorry, Pa…” she said before running away.

The thought that no none wanted her around was horrible. First Nightfall, then her mother, and now her father had made it clear that he wanted her out of the way. It was more than she could take. As for her mother, she got her into trouble when she tried to help her, and her father hurt himself when she got near. What would be next? Her own brother?

Walking away from the ranch, she had found her brother playing with his human friend Geoki. They played at the field with a couple of rifles made of wood. One of them had once been hers, but she didn’t need it anymore when her father hat bought her a real one for her latest birthday, to her mother's great dismay. She had walked up to them with the silly idea of joining their game. She and Nightfall had sometimes had fun of playing with them, pretending that they were captured ladies in a wagon rob. Though it was not what she liked the most, she didn’t want to spend the rest of the day all alone, and she had nothing else to do.

“Hey guys. Can I join you?” she had called for them, but they only looked weirdly at her.

“No.” her brother had said short.

“Why not?” she asked.

“This is only for boys.” Her brother answered.

“I could be a helpless lady and you could capture me.”

“We’re not playing that now. Why aren’t you hanging with Nightfall today? Go away, Crescent!”

Geoki, who were more shy of nature, seemed like he felt sorry for her, but he weren't so brave that he would take her side above his best friend. The smile on her face once more faded. Normally she wouldn’t obey her younger brother, but now she turned around and walked away like he told her to.

But she didn’t go home. She walked for a while without knowing what to do, and without paying attention to anything when she came to the oat field. She didn't know exactly who's land it were, but she didn't bother. Now she sat right into the field, in between the straws, like she was trying to hide from the rest of the world, and those who wanted her out of the way.

She hid her face between her knees, trying not to break into tears again. Her handkerchief was wet all through and were of no use now, only making her pocket mosty, so her skirt caught her fresh tears.

What was she supposed to do? At home she would face her father and she knew that if he first became angry, it would last for a while. Her mother would get home soon to, and she had probably not forgotten about the dress. And her brother had nothing left for her. Crescent had to face it; there was really no place for her now. She wished herself far away, a place where she wasn’t in the way for everyone. No one would miss her, probably not even her own family. Maybe not even Nightfall now that she had Redlance.

She looked up by the sudden sound of a crow.

It came from behind, where a crow was picking on the scarecrow that was standing behind her. It looked quite funny where it stood, supposed to scare the bird away but then instead attracted it.

She hadn't paid attention to him where he stood, but she recognized her father’s old hat that he had given to the farmer not far away when he bought a horse from him to use on his field. He was making the scarecrow when her father came to deliver the horse, and Strongbow had given him the hat to use for the scarecrow since he had got a new one and it looked quite silly without it. She didn’t blame him for giving it away, ‘cause it looked really stupid; an old leather hat with a bandana around its pointy top. It looked better on the scarecrow, together with the old shirt with a waistcoat around, and some pants that had seen better days, all patched up. His face wasn’t muck either; the head was only a sack with painted eyes and mouth, and a red ball of a nose and hey straws for hair under the hat. This made her realize it was Farmer Jones' field.

More crows came and started picking on the scarecrow, trying to rip apart his shirt and pulled out the straws. Suddenly Crescent felt sorry for the poor scarecrow. She rose and walked over to the scarecrow while she waved with her arms.“Shoo. SHOO! Get away you nasty birds.” She screamed for them. They reacted when they saw someone who really were moving and flew away, and she was left alone once again.

Well, not all alone. She looked on the scarecrow. It looked pretty sad where it hang on the mast, like it had realized its humiliating position.

“You look like I feel; completely useless and sad. But you know what? You’re lucky, you don’t have to go to school again and face a friend that canceled an appointment to being with someone else, and then pretend like nothing.” She let out a sigh. “But I can’t blame her. Why would she want to go riding with me when she can go riding with Redlance. He’s really kind to me and all, but… he’s not mine. He’s Nightfall’s.”

She felt more tears welling up in her eyes thinking at Redlance.

After Redlance had come, about three weeks ago, Nightfall had been spending all her time with him. Sometimes she was with them, but she felt like she was somewhat… the fifth weal, only in the way and for no use. The tracker was really nice to her, but she couldn’t count that he would give her the same attention as he gave Nightfall.

She had tried to deny it, for Nightfall’s sake, but it was impossible. The feelings she had for him were getting stronger everyday and she caught herself in thinking about Redlance all the time. The sweet attitude, the way he always thought of others before himself and… everything about him. She knew it from the first day she met him. Sometimes she could almost be mad at him for being so kind, cause he didn’t know what that kindness did to her.

She was forced back to reality when a fly flew near her ear and she hit with her hand to make it go away. Then she looked on the scarecrow again, realizing how stupid she must have looked. What had she been thinking, talking with the scarecrow like it had been alive and listening to her?

She looked around hoping that no one had seen her. While she did, she noticed a move between the straws.

She froze, aware that she wasn’t alone, and afraid of who or what was moving. She slowly walked over to where the straws had moved to get a closer look.

There! The straws moved again. This time she was sure. She carefully stepped closer to see what caused the moving. Just when she bent the straws away, a smile grew on her face at the sight that met her.

A cute little puppy dog was staring at back at her with large brown eyes. His tongue was hanging out of the little mouth, and it seemed to smile. She completely melted when she saw him and she stretched out her hand to pat it, and the puppy answered by licking her hand. Then it started jumping playfully around. Crescent could nothing but laughing, suddenly feeling some joy for the day.

“You’re a cute little buddy aren’t you?” She picked up a stick and stroke it across his nose, and he jumped up and grabbed it in the other end and started pulling. He seemed to be stronger than she thought, and nearly ripped the stick out of her hand. She pulled back and managed to get it back, and then shacked in front of the puppy’s face before she threw it away. The puppy quickly got the point and rushed after it, for moments later to appear with the stick in his mouth and waging his tale faster than the eye could catch.

For the first time all day, Crescent felt happy, and felt like a stone was lifted from her heart. An innocent little puppy didn’t judge her for anything as long as it felt loved.

Unlike someone else she knew.

The joy she had felt a moment ago disappeared, and her smile faded. The puppy seemed to notice and clumsy jumped over to her and pushed its nose at her hand. Crescent felt the soft snout at her hand and her smile returned.

They were interrupted by a rumbling sound. Crescent looked up and saw dark clouds had appeared in the horizon. An icy cold wind blew and made her shiver. She thought that it was best to get home before it started raining. She didn’t like to face her parent’s after what happened, but she didn’t like the thought of staying outside in a storm.

The puppy started jumping up and down when she rose from her place.

“I haven’t got time now, buddy, I have to get home, and you should do the same.” She said when she started walking, but she stopped by a sad whimper. She turned back and looked down into the large brown eyes again. They stared at her with a hurt look, and Crescent felt her heart fall down again. She didn’t have the heart to leave him, but he didn’t belong to her. She couldn’t just take it with her, but on the other hand she couldn’t leave him alone here with a storm coming up.

Another rumble made her decide. “Alright, buddy. Come with me.” She said and lifted it up in her arms. The puppy started licking her again, making her feeling appreciated again. She started patting the soft black pelt. “Maybe you will be my buddy.”

She wondered what her father would say when she came home with a puppy. She slowed down when she thought of getting home, wondering how they would react on her. It wouldn’t be easy she knew, but she had to go home sooner or later. So she decided to go home whatever happened.

The wind was getting stronger while she walked back to the ranch. Sometimes she really had to withstand to not fall over. This couldn’t be a normal storm, the wind was too strong. It had to at least be a hurricane. Then she had to get home fast, but the wind made it difficult. She had to kneel down so she wouldn’t fall over by the pressure.

The little dog started barking and move around in her arms until it was free, and jumped on the ground and started running into the forest again.

“Wait!  Come back.” She called for it, but the wind drove away with her voice. She got up and tried to run after it, but she soon figured out that it wasn’t that easy to call on a dog that didn’t have a name.

“Little buddy, where are you?” she called out, but got no answer. She kept looking, but the wind got stronger by every minute and she had trouble standing against it. One moment she fell and hit the ground and hit her head on a branch when she tried to get up. When she cleared her head, she saw the little puppy and run to grab it.

“Got’cha, Buddy.”

She finely reached the ranch, but when she came out of the forest she saw that the sky was completely covered by dark clouds. The wind was even stronger on open land, and she had problems reaching the house, and when she finely reached it she discovered that the door was locked. She tried to make her way to the kitchen door, but with the same result. She couldn’t get in.

"Ma! Pa! Open up, I'm here!" she called out, but there were no answer. Then she hurried back to the front of the house, looking around. She got surprised to see that there weren’t any horses anywhere. Her father normally would have got them all inside by now, but she didn't hear any of them. She hadn't seen them out on the field either. Maybe they had run away from the storm in the forest.

She looked around to find a place to cover, and her eyes fell on the barn. She hurried to it, and managed to open it after a while and the door slang against her when she finely got inside. She had to push really hard to close the doors from inside and looked around in the dark stable. She was almost knocked over by the sudden stillness by having no wind on her, and she panted by exhaust.  The wind was still grabbing, she heard from outside.

The little puppy wimped again, and Crescent patted its head and kissed it. “Don’t worry, Buddy. We’re safe here. Let’s get upstairs.”

She climbed up to the hay loft, but she hadn’t been there long before the whole stable started rumbling and creaking by the strong wind. This couldn’t be a normal hurricane, she thought and laid the puppy down in the hay before walking over to the shuttle to see what was going on. It almost hit her when she opened it and the wind threatened to throw her back, but she forced herself to get a look. The sight that met her could have frozen her blood to ice.

There, still far away, but closing in, was a tornado. She had heard of them. Before they had moved to Two Moons she had heard a story about a tornado that had destroyed a whole town till there was nothing left. And now there was one here at Two Moons, ready to destroy everything. If she had been able to go into the house she could have gone in the basement, but here at the barn attic she was without protection. If the tornado blew the stable away, she would be blown away with it.

The fear gave her new strength and Crescent closed the shuttle in a hurry and went back to the puppy., who had started holing desperately. Crescent wished she had been able to scream herself, but it was useless. No one would hear her if she tried either. She lifted the puppy close to her chest, feeling comfortable burying her face in the warm pelt from it. “Its al right, little Buddy. I’m here.” she said to it, but she didn’t feel half as calm as she was trying to sound. It seemed anyway to feel comfortable in her grip, like she was a shield.

The creaking got stronger and louder and she could swear that the building was moving. She stumbled, unable to find the balance when the stable rustled and creaked enormously, and then the walls and the floor moved so she fell over in the hay and kept tumbling, still with the puppy in her arms. The room started and twisting and turning around and she had no control over the situation.

What would happen to her? She didn’t know. All she could do was to cluster the little puppy close to herself when she felt the building rose and spin around.

It was no doubt; she was no longer on the ground.

At long last she managed to let out a scream, which seemed to last forever.

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Wiseshaman

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PostSubject: A Mating Unaware - Part Four   Wed Nov 25, 2015 6:05 pm

Oh wow! I remember this story Rainflower...I loved the fact you used the Wizard of Oz and had Crescent playing Dorothy...the art at the end is awesome, I love Crescent as Dorothy

I'm so happy your enjoying the back story of Redlance and Nightfall...and guess what, here's another piece of it...sit back and just let the goodness seep in...


A Mating Unaware - Part Four

The morning sun was still an hour off as everyone met at Joyleaf and Bearclaw’s house for the first hunting trip of the season. Woodlock came along with Strongbow and Dart followed by Longbranch and Redlance just a few moments later. One-Eye and Treestump rode up out of dark as Bearclaw stepped out the front door looking as though he hadn’t slept a wink to greet them they approached.

“Where are the women folk boys?”

“They’ll be here when we get back. Brownberry’s serving breakfast then she’ll close down and come up and take our share.” Longbranch replied flatly without a joke or comment. Bearclaw didn’t notice the mood of the lawyer, but with his hangover he wouldn’t have noticed anything but the next step.

“That’s good…good.” Bearclaw answered squinting from the candle light. Cutter walked out of the house wondering what the old cur was going to do when the sun came up.

“Where’s Joyleaf?” Strongbow asked with the most his low gravel voice could produce.

“She’s still sleep-“Bearclaw began before Cutter finished.

“In her room.” Cutter snarled passing by his father with an insolent stare.

“Our bed!” Bearclaw hissed back as Cutter walked by.

“Well, let’s go hunting boys, maybe it’ll loosen up the fuss that’s been coming.” Longbranch said with about as much as enthusiasm as a man bound for the gallows.

They waited in a stark quiet, which suited Strongbow but drove Woodlock crazy, for Bearclaw and Cutter to saddle their horses. The sounds of nature popped all around with the crickets chirping and birds calling for each other. Finally, Cutter brought Digger out first before Bearclaw came out with his new horse Blackfell, a jet black Nakota. There were all kinds of horses and Strongbow had dealt with most, from the ones who had been abused and broken by a hard hand to the ones who refused to be broken at first but finally yielded with patient and perseverance. Blackfell was only one of a handful he wanted nothing to do with. Maybe a foal from him, a young offspring he could start with early, but otherwise Blackfell was too damn hard headed to train or deal with, just like his rider sometimes.

The group took off at a fast trot but soon Cutter and Redlance fell back away from the main bunch. They were headed into the hills to a pass that the deer used to get back into the valley from the southern reaches. It would take an hour or two to reach and setup, more than enough time to talk.

“Are you okay Cutter?” Redlance asked.

A second passed before he answered, the anger in his voice barely contained. “He didn’t come home again last night, just walked up about thirty minutes before you all arrived. You could smell the whiskey on him.”

“Was he at Greymung’s again?” Redlance asked.

“Most of the night, drinking and gambling, but the rest…who knows. I think he has a woman in town, one of the working girls maybe.” Cutter hissed with an angry frown.

“I don’t think so.” Redlance answered back.

“Have you seen him in town?” Cutter retorted quickly with a tone that sounded like a person who felt betrayed. Redlance knew instantly his friend was letting the hurt of the situation cloud his judgement, see enemies where none were hiding.

“No, but I’ve seen him around your mother. The way he looks at her, the way talks to her, its all in love. I think if it came down her love or Greymung’s dice she’d win.” Redlance answered.

“What the hell makes you think that? Ma’s all ready given him his last chance to stay the hell away from that backroom or she’ll leave. What else does the old cur need?” Cutter spat.

“It’s different with every one Cutter. Some understand with just a word while others have to be shown the path. I think your father’s gonna have to be hit with a shovel before he sees what he could lose.” Redlance said with a smile.

“Probably,” Cutter spoke with a small laugh finally letting his anger drop just a little, “but I just can’t understand why he does it. Why do you risk everything that’s important to you for a roll of the dice?”

Redlance shrugged his shoulders while answering. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s what Black Feather said to me once, how each man and elf has some darkness to their spirit. Maybe that darkness takes hold and things happen that you can’t control.” Redlance offered.

“Maybe…and maybe’s he just an old cur!” Cutter said with another laugh.

“Maybe,” Redlance remarked while laughing with him.

One-Eye looked back and called out. “What are you two doing back there?”

“We’re just talking.” Redlance answered.

“Yeah, like a couple of girls. Maybe we should a brought Nightfall and Crescent along instead?” Dart yelled back.

“Keep talking big mouth, one day that hole in your head’s gonna get you in more trouble than you can walk out of.” Cutter shot back with a grin.

Everyone laughed, even Strongbow, who thought what Cutter had just said was the honest truth. One day his precious son would end up saying something that would come back and haunt him.

“I think you two youngins need to put all that energy into shooting a nice buck this morning, eh?” One-Eye spoke up.

“Same stakes boys?” Bearclaw asked out loud.

“Aw hell, why can’t we just hunt instead of turning this into some kind of a contest?” Longbranch asked with a shake of his head.

“Because we’re not all sour mouths around here like you’ve been. Now, is it the same stakes?” Bearclaw asked again with a hard tone.

“Yeah, might as well. Don’t see why though, the sharpshooter there always wins.” Treestump said pointing a thumb at Strongbow.

Everyone else grumbled a yes as Redlance turned to Cutter with a confused, scared look on his face. “What are ‘stakes’?

“Something the old cur does every year. The group with the most points gets bragging rights for the year, King of the Hunt.” Cutter said with a frown.

“Most points?” Redlance asked.

“Yeah, the tips that comes off of each antler. Strongbow is the best shot in the valley so he gets the most points every year, doesn’t miss a damn deer. The old buzzard can barely speak so he only sits there and gloats which drive’s Pa crazy.” Cutter explained with a chuckle.

“Oh,” Redlance said with a nod.


The morning rush was almost over which made Nightfall happy. She knew her mother would close down the restaurant so they could go up and meet her father and Redlance at Cutter’s after the hunt. She knew they would dress and get a portion of the deer meat which her mother would use to make a meal for them. She also knew Crescent’s father would take the most points, which would just make Bearclaw mad and drive the elf to drink and gamble more, and maybe end his marriage to Joyleaf. Nightfall worried a little bit about Cutter, but she worried more about Redlance.

She knew any day Small Bear would ride down out of the hills coming to tell Redlance he could come back to the tribe, return home. Nightfall was thinking about the pain she would feel in her heart when the door to the restaurant opened and Crescent and Rainsong walked in. The pair saw their friend standing behind the counter wiping lazily at the same spot with glossed over eyes and smiled with sympathy.

“Good morning girls! You want anything?” Foxfur asked happily.

“No ma’am, we just came over from the dress shop before Ma closes down for the day.” Crescent said taking a seat by Nightfall. Rainsong gave Foxfur a wave before sitting down by Crescent.

“You still worried about Redlance?” Rainsong asked with a sympathetic smile knowing exactly what ailed her friend.

“Yeah,” was all Nightfall said answering.

“I don’t think they’ll come for him this spring. He said they were pretty upset with him for helping you. They’re probably still upset…I hope.” Crescent said letting the last go absently.

“Why you, you don’t want him to leave either?” Nightfall said throwing her towel at Crescent playfully.

“No, he’s a good worker for Pa.” Crescent said with a raised eyebrow.

“Yeah right,” Rainsong said giggling as Brownberry walked over.

“Speaking of your father Crescent we have to be prepared for him winning that stupid bet Bearclaw has them do every year.” Nightfall’s mother said.

The three girls all erupted in groans and whines but Brownberry only held up her hands quieting them immediately. “Now I hate is as much as you all do, but it’s just our men being men and there’s not a thing we can do about it, understand?”

“Yeah,” Nightfall exclaimed.

“Aw, it’ll be all right little one.” Foxfur said with a smile walking to the back with Brownberry.

“Yeah, it’ll be all right.” Crescent said patting her friend’s hand.

“You know if I just knew how he felt, if he just told me once I could watch him ride off and be okay with it.” Nightfall confessed putting her elbows on the counter and her face in her hands.

“That’s if said he loved you…like you do him.” Rainsong said with a shake of her head.

“If he didn’t she’d punch him so hard he’d hurt for a week!” Crescent joked before the towel hit her again.

“You two? How am I supposed to stay mad around you both?” Nightfall said with a laugh trying to sound mad. Rainsong and Crescent didn’t feel one bit upset about making her laugh though.


The report of the rifle echoed over the pass irritating an all ready frustrated Bearclaw. It was a 30/30 Winchester and they all knew who carried a 30/30.

“Damn, that grumbling horse whisperer just got another one.” Bearclaw whispered.

“Maybe it was Dart or Woodlock.” Longbranch whispered in disgust.

“We can only hope Longbranch, we can only hope.” Bearclaw shot back.

The elves broke into three groups with Strongbow, Dart, and Woodlock making one group. Cutter, Redlance, Longbranch, and Bearclaw made the second while One-Eye and Treestump made a third. They had all staked out pieces of the pass per their bet and no one could move from their spot. You either lived or died with the spot you picked out. And right now Bearclaw was dying a slow death. They had picked a small stand of trees at a high point looking down into the pass, the perfect spot to catch a deer. Cutter had bagged a nice buck within the first hour of being in their spot, a nice six point. Shortly there after they heard a report from a 30/30 south of them from the spot Strongbow had picked out.

Longbranch took a small buck next, four points at best, when the second report happened from the south. Bearclaw grumbled while stewing with a growing frustration. A report sounded north from One-Eye and Treestump’s spot, and then a second form the same area. The pistoleer shook his head and turned away from the others waiting and when a nice buck came out Bearclaw missed it wide driving the deer back into the hills.

“Damn!” Bearclaw spat watching the lead in the bet skirt away.

A few minutes passed when the third shot sounded and that was enough for Bearclaw.

“Okay Redlance, it’s your turn son. Don’t worry about Strongbow; just keep the deer in sight.” Bearclaw said handing over the Sharps to Redlance.

The Native didn’t take it though. Bearclaw looked at him impatiently when Redlance spoke up shaking his head. “No, I don’t like guns.”

The dumb founded look on Bearclaw’s face stayed for about three seconds before turning angry. He shoved the rifle at Redlance with a jerk.

“Take the damn rifle and shoot a deer.” He growled.

“Leave him be! He doesn’t want to do it!” Longbranch hissed.

“Yeah, I’ll do it or Longbranch can. Just leave em’ alone.” Cutter said taking up for his friend.

“NO! We didn’t bring him all the way out here to watch us!” Bearclaw shot back, more to Cutter then Longbranch.

“He doesn’t want too and you can’t make him!” Cutter growled.

“Just let the damn bet go Bearclaw. It’s not worth it.” Longbranch spat, his own frustration and disgust at its limits.

It looked like all three would come to certain blows over Redlance and the gun. An awkward silence fell over them until the one they were fighting about spoke up.

“I’ll kill a deer, but not with a gun. I can do it my way, the Blackfoot way. Please, just give me a chance.”

The three sat looking at each other angrily for a second before Longbranch spoke up, his eyes never leaving Bearclaw’s. “Go ahead Redlance. What are you gonna do?”

“I’m going to go down there and draw the deer to me. I’ll use my bow.” He said with a smile.

“A bow? Down there?” Cutter asked.

“Yes!” Redlance said merrily heading back to his horse to get his bow and arrows.

“Did he say a bow?” Bearclaw whispered to Longbranch.

“Let him go, it can’t do any harm.” The lawyer said with a smile finally gracing his rugged features.

As soon as Redlance returned Cutter stood up and handed his Sharps to his father with a large smile. “I think I want to see this up close.”

“All right, I can do some good with a little peace and quiet.” Bearclaw said putting the rifle down by him.

The remark was a shot at Cutter and he didn’t miss the chance of shooting back as he followed Redlance out of the hide. “So can I!”

Longbranch and Bearclaw watched them go silently into the brush and after a minute disappear into it. There was no sign or sound from them for an hour. There was no sign of a deer either. The pistoleer grew so impatient he was having a hard time sitting still which drove Longbranch to the final breaking point. The lawyer was about to brain Bearclaw with his rifle, and it was a perfect case of self-defense he had determined, when One-Eye and Treestump showed up.

“How’d you boys do?” The Deputy asked.

“We got two, ten points in all.” Longbranch said.

“Better then us, we got two too, eight points. I think the deer haven’t come around, the feel isn’t right yet.” One-Eye said making the others laugh. It was always a ‘feeling’ with One-Eye. It had to ‘feel’ right before it was okay.

Suddenly Strongbow showed up with Dart and Woodlock. His horse pulled a carrier made from four large branches lashed together in a square with rope and topped by a set of large old blankets. On it sat three healthy, but quite dead, bucks. All shot clean through the side.

“How many did you get?” Woodlock asked quickly to everyone.

When they heard the count Dart turned proudly to his father with a smile. “We did it again Pa, kings of the first hunt!”

Strongbow nodded looking to Bearclaw with a nice smile that just screamed I’m the best elf on this hill. The pistoleer only grumbled and turned back to look out at the pass ignoring Treestump’s question.

“Hey, where’s Cutter and Redlance?”

“They went down about an hour ago to hunt deer with a bow. Redlance is leading and we haven’t seen em’ since.” Longbranch.

“Sure they’re not lost? We might have to go and find them!” Woodlock remarked making Dart laugh.

“They’re not lost, just doing…whatever it is that Redlance does.” Bearclaw spat.

“Well whatever it is, I say call out for em’. The deer’s gone for the day.” One-Eye said with a shake of his head.

“Yeah, call em in Longbranch. I want to go get warm.” Treestump said in agreement.

“Now wait a damn minute, ain’t nothing over yet. Red’s got a chance to get him a deer and we can’t stop that.” Bearclaw explained, pleaded.

“Stop with that damn bet and let’s head in.” Longbranch said shaking his head. He started to stand ignoring the protest of Bearclaw when he saw the biggest Elk he had ever seen in the valley drop into the pass from the woods.

Everyone froze at the sight of the animal as it stood at least six-foot-tall at the shoulder with a dark brown pelt that gleamed in the sun. They all moved in as close to the edge of the hide watching with amazement.

“How big do you think he is Pa?” Dart asked with a whisper.

“That’s a Bull. He’s probably a good seven hundred pounds or more…” Longbranch answered with a whisper.

“Can we get him?” Woodlock asked.

Strongbow shook his head vehemently pointing to the rifles and squeezing his thumb and finger together. Dart nodded and spoke up.

“We don’t have anything big enough to hurt an Elk. Best to just let it pass.”

So they sat and watched as the Elk meandered along a straight line toward a tree and a bunch of high grass just before the slope that led down the pass. The Bull ate at the grass in short quick bites when Longbranch spoke up quickly.

“Wait, if Cutter gave you his Sharps then all he has is that old Dragoon of yours.”

“And all Redlance has is that bow and arrow.” Bearclaw said with worry realizing where the lawyer was going.

“Aw hell, you don’t think those two would be foolish enough to do something?” One-Eye asked with the same worry.

“I don’t know…I don’t know.” Longbranch stammered looking at the Elk.

Another minute passed…

The Bull took three more steps toward the tree and high grass…

The elves sat in the hide and watched hoping the Elk would just disappear…

Then someone covered in grass and mud jumped up from the side of the tree, perfectly camouflaged, pointing the business end of a gun at the Elk. A second person jumped up from the high grass covered with the same grass and mud, but with a bow and arrow pointed at the elk.

The whole scene played out in front of Longbranch and there wasn’t a thing he could do to stop it…


They had pulled the Elk down off the high hill just like Redlance said they could do using a bunch of berries, and the beast looked majestic this close. Cutter almost felt sad at having to shoot it, but this was a hunt and the Elk was the prey. So he put on the mud and grass like Redlance said to do letting the Bull get close enough to shoot it and kill it. This was how they, the Blackfoot, did it when they hunted. And when the Bull got close he popped up and fired the Dragoon with a loud explosion, the report louder this time then he remembered it being in the past. He saw the Elk jump a bit as the ball hit it square above the shoulder.

He saw the Bull bray and snort as the shock of getting shot registered in its brain.

Then he saw Redlance jump up to his side grabbing the Elk’s attention suddenly and fire the bow with a snap. The arrow made a sizzling sound passing through the air before it thudded into the Elk’s chest sinking half-way up the shaft. Cutter didn’t think about what he did next, it just happened. He was suddenly running as fast as his feet would carry him, as fast as his legs would move before he commanded them.

The Elk gave a wounded scream and bolted for Redlance, and all the Native did was stand his ground staring at the charging beast.

Cutter reached his friend screaming throwing both to the ground, his last words echoing in the pass.

“GET DOWN RED!”


“Holy hell…” One-Eye whispered at the scene.

Longbranch couldn’t say anything. His brain wouldn’t form a word. He watched as the Elk ran over the two youths, collapsing on them, in a cloud of dirt and grass.

“Damn…no way they made it through that.” Dart whispered. The words echoed in Longbranch’s ear as he jumped up out of the hide running for the pass floor.


“Are you okay?”

The words sounded in Cutter’s ears but didn’t register in his brain for a moment. He opened his eyes looking up where the sky should have been but all he saw was patchy dark. He shifted, rolled over onto his back, and felt a solid twinge of pain in his leg. It wasn’t broken, but it had the distinct feel of a nice bruise forming. Cutter reached up and pushed the dirt and grass out of his face just in time to see Redlance standing up and walking over to the large body of the Elk. Cutter heard him say something in Blackfoot while holding his hand over the Elk’s massive head and then waving it toward the sky. Cutter was about to ask what Redlance what he was doing when he heard the others running down the hill at them screaming.

Longbranch ran down the hill as fast as he could while wondering how he was going to tell Nightfall, hell Brownberry, how Redlance just got killed. How do you tell your daughter and wife that someone they had grown to love just got mauled and run under by a very large animal? Where do you even start? A small bolt of relief hit when he saw Redlance pop up out of the mass of turned up dirt and grass to run over and kneel by the now dead Elk. That small bit of relief turned to anger though as he approached.

“Are you hurt?! ARE YOU HURT?!” Longbranch screamed at Redlance who stood up from the Elk with a smile on his face while speaking back calmly.

“Yes, I’m all right. I got kicked in the back but it’s not bad.”

“Is he okay brother?” One-Eye yelled coming to a stop between Cutter and Redlance who were quickly being surrounded.

“Yeah…he’s okay!” Longbranch gasped staring at Redlance angrily while starting to pace back and forth.

“Cutter’s okay. He’s got a bruised leg but nothing that’ll keep him down.” Treestump said catching his breath.

“Look at the size of that Elk!” Woodlock gasped in shock as Cutter got up off the ground with the help of One-Eye.

The group massed around the Elk looking at the beast. Looking at it now the Elk looked bigger, meaner, and more imposing. Woodlock wondered how Cutter and Redlance had stood in front of it right up till it hit. He’d have been running for the hide as soon as he fired that dragoon, and what was Redlance thinking using a bow and arrow?

“Look at that boys,” Bearclaw called out almost doing a little dance, “I count twelve points on this old bull. Am I right?”

“Are you kidding me?” Longbranch screamed out.

“Yeah, it’s twelve points…” Dart said dejectedly just catching the look from his father. Strongbow who shook his head indicating this was no time to think about a bet. Someone could have gotten killed.

“And that makes twenty-two, we win!” Bearclaw clapped happily among his dismayed hunters.

“Who the hell cares about the damn bet, huh? Your son almost got himself killed and you’re worried about whose King of the Hunt? My son almost gets killed and all you think about is how many points are on the tines?” Longbranch bellowed.

Everyone turned to the lawyer who was more than a little angry about what had just happened with the Elk. Redlance wasn’t sure what he had done wrong. This was the way he had been taught by the Blackfoot, the way they hunted. He wasn’t hurt and if Cutter hadn’t tried to rescue him he wouldn’t have gotten hit.

“I’m sorry Longbranch-“Redlance started when the lawyer turned on him.

“What the hell were you thinking? That Elk could have stuck you on that rack and drug you all across this valley.” Longbranch exclaimed finally running out of steam, the anger changing to a sense calm and happiness no one was hurt.

“I was-“Redlance started to say when One-Eye cut him off taking his brother’s shoulder in his hand.

“Its okay lad, come on brother let’s get the horse with the stretcher and load this beast up so we can go home.” One-Eye said guiding Longbranch away from the group.

They took a few steps away from the Elk before Strongbow followed suit letting the two elves get ahead so they could talk in quiet. He had Dart and Woodlock follow with Treestump right behind leaving Bearclaw with Cutter standing next to a shell shocked Redlance. The pistoleer turned to the Native with a wicked grin and tossed a thumb at the departing group.

“To hell with them son, in my book you did good job. You had the courage to go after the biggest prize of the day and bring it down. You can hunt with me anytime.”

Bearclaw gave Redlance a quick clap on the shoulder before heading up the hill to the horses with a laugh that sounded full of joy. As soon as he was out of hearing range Cutter spoke up making Redlance turn to him.

“You know not to believe a word he says, right?”

“I don’t understand. What did we do wrong?” Redlance asked.

“Longbranch’s just upset that he saw that Elk almost skewer us. Didn’t you hear him by the way? He called you ‘son’.” Cutter smiled while rubbing the bruise on his leg.

“He did didn’t he? His ‘son’…” Redlance whispered.

“Yep…whew, did that Elk come at you or what?” Cutter asked with a smile.

“Yeah, but Buffalo are worse. I saw one take a Brave and horse under once.” Redlance said shaking his head.

“After that Elk I don’t want to see a Buffalo without a damn big gun!” Cutter said with a hiss as the pain from the bruise grew.

“Are you gonna be okay?” Redlance asked concerned.

“This won’t be as bad as Ma. When she hears what we did I’m gonna get it!” Cutter said shaking his head with a small laugh.

“I’m sorry Cutter…I thought this is what you all wanted to hunt.” Redlance said sadly.

“It’s okay Red. It’ll all blow over after they calm down. You just have to survive Brownberry and Nightfall now.” Cutter said with another laugh.

Redlance thought about the pair and immediately closed his eyes. He was in more trouble then he could imagine…maybe worse then when he helped Nightfall escape from Wind in the Trees.


“He’s okay brother so just calm down.” One-Eye said trying to make his brother stop acting like an ass.

“That Elk could have killed him One-Eye. Why would Redlance take on something that damn big with just a bow and arrow, huh?” Longbranch shot back.

“I don’t know,” One-Eye said calmly shrugging his shoulders, “maybe that’s the way his people the Blackfoot do it? Maybe that’s the way they’ve done it since they’ve been in this valley?”

“Yeah, probably so, but he could have warned me what he had planned.” Longbranch said getting the horses ready to travel down the hill.

“I’m sure he’ll do just that next time brother!” One-Eye said with a smile jumping on his bay and riding beside Longbranch.

It took five of them to get the Elk on the stretcher and an extra horse pulling it to get the beast back to Bearclaw’s. Redlance rode by himself in the back choosing to be alone while the pistoleer kept jawin’ about winning the bet on an incredible bow and arrow shot. Several of the others considered just shooting him and getting it over with. They were pretty sure they could get Longbranch to defend them.


“You hunted that Woodlock? I thought you were just going after deer.” Rainsong asked staring at the Elk with wide horror filled eyes.

“We didn’t…Redlance and Cutter did.” Woodlock answered while helping Dart get a deer off the stretcher to be field dressed.

“What did you shoot it with? All I see is one bullet hole.” Crescent said standing next to Nightfall, both looking at the large animal with shock.

“Oh that’s the wild part. Redlance shot it with a bow and arrow, right in the heart!” Dart said excitedly.

“He what?” Nightfall asked back with eyebrows raised.

“Here it comes…” Cutter whispered shaking his head.

“Yes, what did Redlance and my son do?” Joyleaf asked with enough agitation to make everyone stop and listen. It didn’t take much as they were all staring at the Elk.

“You see, Redlance and Cutter hid out by this tree after covering themselves with mud and grass-“Dart started before Moonshade broke in.

“Why would they do that?” She asked Strongbow who only shook his head wanting to avoid any culpability in this one.

“So the Elk wouldn’t see them when it walked up. Hey, how did you get it to come so close?” Woodlock asked.

“How close did you let it get?” Nightfall asked Redlance wanting him to answer, but Woodlock was all ready talking.

“Oh it got to within seven or six feet before Cutter jumped up and shot it with that old Dragoon of his.” Woodlock said.

“Damn, this is gonna be bad…” Cutter whispered closing his eyes.

“You let it get that close?” Nightfall hissed not wanting an answer this time. No, this time it was just a prelude to the growing anger.

“It wasn’t that bad.” Cutter said trying to blunt the building storm. He wasn’t prepared for all them to come at him at once.

“Seven or six feet sound’s pretty close to me…to close!” Crescent said angrily staring at Redlance with a hard look.

“It probably wouldn’t have charged if Cutter hadn’t shot it with his pistol.” Dart said putting another deer down on the ground.

“It charged you?” Brownberry asked, just like her daughter, not looking for an answer.

“Yeah, Cutter pulled Redlance down just as it fell on them. All seven hundred pounds ran right over the both of them.” Treestump answered anyway.

“Oh my word, is that true?” Clearbrook asked standing by One-Eye.

“Yes ma’am…” Redlance answered looking to the ground.

The whole area went silent, so much so Redlance thought he was alone. So much so he hoped he was alone. The tension was strong, palpable, like a blanket over your head making it hard to breath. Then the sound of Joyleaf’s voice cut through all through that.

“What were you two thinking?”

“Take it easy on them people. They’re walking and talking…and we’re King of the Hunt for once.” Bearclaw said with a wave of his hand.

“You fool,” Joyleaf spat shaking her head, “I don’t care if you’re the King of the Hunt or these damn hills. I only care that our son almost died. You should too.”

Bearclaw’s jaw ground with an audible crack. His eyes squinted to almost shut as his fist clinched closed and open. Cutter knew that look. It was one of pure fury. If it had been any other man or woman his father would have shot them with both pistols from his sash in the blink of an eye. He wasn’t all that sure that his father wouldn’t shoot his mother, but then all Bearclaw did was storm past her on his way into the house. With the confrontation over the tension in the air seemed to ease, until Redlance looked over to see four sets of eyes locked on him.

Longbranch was still upset, but as where his anger was finally subsiding his wife and daughter was just starting to roll. He could tell from her body language Brownberry was at full boil and Nightfall was about a minute away. He shook his head, decided those two would have to get over this in their own time, and asked out loud what he had just started wondering.

“What are we going to do with all this Elk meat?”

“We’ll take some,” Moonshade said looking to Clearbrook, “we can do something with a stew maybe.”

“Or make a meat pie.” The school marm replied shrugging her shoulders.

“A stew and a pie are best and you can make a steak or a roast. What we don’t use we can keep cold for a few days. I’ll use the venison in sausage.” Brownberry said biting her lower lip.

“We can smoke it too, make jerky. It’s good.” Redlance offered hoping he would get a smile back. His hope died hard as no one said a thing to him. The look Brownberry shot him made him feel guilty.

“With the size of the Elk each family will get about a hundred pounds of meat I figure. I don’t see how you two stood there with this thing coming at you, and to kill it with a bow?” Treestup said with a small laugh and shake of his head.

“Because he’s an idiot who can’t tell someone how he feels…” Nightfall growled storming off toward Clover.

Longbranch was about to call to his daughter when he saw Redlance turn to Cutter and speak quickly with a sense of worry. “I need the antlers and the hide, save them for me.”

“Where are you going?” Cutter asked watching Redlance run off.

“I don’t know. Where ever she goes.” Redlance yelled back.

“Wait, who’s gonna help us dress this beast?” One-Eye asked.

“I say Redlance and Cutter killed it so they can clean it.” Dart offered.

“That’s if Nightfall lets him come back.” Woodlock said with a laugh. He stopped when Crescent shot him a mean look.


He finally caught her after she stopped Clover on a piece of back woods just past Strongbow’s and Bearclaw’s land by a large pond fed from the waters flowing down out of the hills. Nightfall hopped off her mare and stalked over to the edge of the pond when she heard him call out.

“Nightfall, wait! We need to talk…”

She spun on her heels angry and defiant all in one. “If you’re going to talk about that Elk forget it, I don’t wanna say anything.”

Redlance dropped off his old Bay and ran up trying to force up the courage to talk to her about them, what was really bothering her. It didn’t happen though and what he did say was out before he knew it.

“I’m sorry…about the Elk.”

Her shoulders fell as soon as the words ended. Her face, which was full of anger, turned to disbelief and sadness. She spoke low but with a fierce strength Redlance had seen before, had seen that night when she was in his teepee.

“All I want to know is how you feel so I can finally be sure. That’s all I want and you can’t or won’t tell me. I wouldn’t wait for Cutter, but for you I’d wait a lifetime just to hear you say it.”

“Nightfall…I’m…” Redlance stammered scared and sweating.

“What,” She said shaking her head as a tear started down her cheek from all the frustration, “you can throw yourself in front of some charging giant Elk without a care but you can’t tell me what you’re feeling? What are you scared of?”

“The Elk’s easier for me…” He said with a whisper.

She shook her head and turned toward the pond again walking toward it with quick easy steps. Nightfall jerked a bit at the sound of his voice when it called to her.

“What are you doing now?”

“I’m going to drown myself. I said I’d wait but it’s more than obvious you won’t ever tell me a thing so at least if I’m dead I won’t think about you all the time.” Nightfall said determined to walk into the pond.

She was over the pond’s edge with a booted foot ready to step in to the water when he spoke again. His voice was loud, but also small at the same time. She froze at the words. Her heart stopped and then went into over drive.

“I love you Nightfall…I have since that first night when I took care of you.”

After waiting so long to hear the words, after sitting and waiting for what seemed an eternity hearing them just once wasn’t enough. Nightfall turned back to him with a look that was some where between happy and shock. When she spoke it was quiet, but still with strength.

“Say it again, please...I just want to hear it again.”

“I love you…” Redlance said with warm eyes on the verge of crying.

She walked back and stopped right next to him, her body less than inch from his, and spoke with a gentle whisper. “Why’d it take you so long to say those words to me?”

“I don’t know…I was alone for so long I just stopped having any hope of finding someone who would want me.” Redlance answered.

“What?” Nightfall whispered taking his hand in one hers.

“In the tribe it’s all arranged, marriages and things. No one wanted me; most were scared of me, so I just stopped hoping that anyone would love me. I stopped wanting contact and the need to speak like this. I gave up needing to know how things like this work because I thought I would always be alone.” He whispered back squeezing her hand.

“Well, I’ll take you Redlance. I love you. I have ever since that morning I woke up and you were holding me.” She whispered putting an arm around his waist.

“I don’t know what to do Nightfall. I’m so lost…” Redlance whispered back.

“It’s okay, I know how you feel now and we’ll take it slow.” Nightfall whispered back reassuring him.

“I mean…am I supposed to talk to your father or something.” Redlance said while putting his arm around her shoulders gently. The feeling was everything she had been waiting for.

“No, Papa’s still mad. It may take a while for him to calm down and Momma too.” Nightfall giggled looking up at him feeling so right, so natural, in his arms that she couldn’t stop smiling if she tried.

“I think I know how to fix that…but what do we do now?” He asked concerned.

“You should kiss me right now that’s what you should do.” She said guiding him right into the next step, even if it wasn’t the right one. This was something else she had been waiting for and the smallest bit of evil sprung up in soul for taking advantage of the situation.

He put his other arm around her and gave a small squeeze as he leaned down but she shifted away from him with a small grimace.

“Wait, you have my arm pinned…there, that’s better.” Nightfall giggled getting her arms free and then around his neck.

“I’m sorry…see, I’m no good at this.” Redlance said in frustration letting go and then grabbing her again.

“You have all the time in the world to learn. Now just lean in and kiss me.” She stated with a demand.

“Do my hands stay here?” He asked leaving them at her lower back.

“Yes, and don’t let them wander or I’ll hit you.” Nightfall giggled putting a hand on the back of his neck.

“Oh,” Redlance said leaning in and finally kissing her. The two kissed gently letting the feeling and realization settle in. When they broke a minute later they looked like a stone had been lifted off their shoulders, a bag of rocks that had weighed on both.

“We need to get back to help the others.” Nightfall said catching her breath.

“Oh, all right.” Redlance said attempting to step away before she grabbed him and they kissed again.

When they broke this time she looked at him for a minute before speaking. “Can I ask a favor?”

He looked at her curious and confused before answering. “Yes, what do you want?”

She leaned up and whispered in his ear. The smile he had disappeared as a look of uncertainty took its place while spoke.

“Are you sure?”

“Oh yeah, she’ll love it.” Nightfall said dragging him to the horses.


The group of elves were busy still field dressing the deer when Nightfall and Redlance rode up and hopped off their horses. Her father could tell form his daughter’s demeanor that she was over the little Elk incident. He would be too as well. It’d just take a little longer. He watched the pair jump down and noticed another among them wasn’t ready to let this go though.

“Did you take care of it?” Crescent asked walking over to Nightfall.

“Oh yes, it’s taken care of.” Nightfall said walking past her to Cutter and the Elk.

“Good, we don’t need that happening again.” Crescent said looking at Redlance with a hard eye.

He only smiled back and then before she could react he took her in his arms and hugged her hard. Crescent gasped as he squeezed and whispered in her ear, soft and gentle.

“I’m sorry for scaring you. I won’t do it again. Please forgive me?”

She didn’t know what to do. Her mind went completely blank. Some how without a mental command she put her arms around him and hugged back, but it was all rigid. She whispered back feeling her legs go weak a little.

“It’s…its…okay.”

“Thank you. I needed to hear that.” Redlance said letting go and stepping back. Crescent didn’t respond. She stood there, mouth open, still in a blissful shock. Even the small laughs of the others didn’t bother her.


A week passed from the hunt with everyone still talking to each other, though Brownberry and Longbranch had yet to forgive Redlance. He kept out of their way, responding courteously and quickly to every request. He never complained as they ate Elk almost every night, which Longbranch did. The lawyer was ready to beg for a plate of fish or squirrel at the end of the week, anything but Elk. Other times Redlance just disappeared, for almost the whole day, and then show up suddenly to help in the kitchen or dining room. The hunting of the Elk was soon in the past for conversations sake which is why when the end of the week came along and the families met at the Restaurant for breakfast to get together and talk no one was ready for what happened. No one saw Redlance sneak out but they heard the bell ring as the front door opened and he stepped in. They paid him little attention going back to their coffee as Redlance walked up to the counter where Longbranch and Brownberry sat.

“Where’d you go Redlance?” Longbranch asked.

“I had to get your gifts.” He said putting a pouch on counter.

“What gifts?” Brownberry asked in confusion. Everyone in the restaurant stopped this time and turned to watch the scene at the counter unfold.

“In the tribe when a son gets his first kill on a hunt he gives gifts to his mother and father honoring them. I’ve never had a mother or a father so when I got my first kill three years ago I had no one to give gifts to. I was hoping after what you’ve done for me that you would let me give you those gifts.” Redlance said slowly reaching into the pouch.

“Oh my…” Brownberry gasped covering her mouth in surprise, from the what the gifts meant.

“Son, there’s no need…” Longbranch started to say but stopped when the first gift Redlance pulled out of the pouch took his breath away.

A small hunting knife, maybe eight inches in length with an ivory bone handle, sat in Redlance’s right hand. The scabbard was Elk hide, the same one he had killed, and carved into the bone handle was the image of an Elk. Longbranch shook his head reluctantly reaching for the knife, not wanting such a gift after yelling and treating the boy as he did. The only thing that made him take it was the fact he didn’t want to hurt Redlance’s feelings…and it felt good to hold that knife. Brownberry reached out and touched the scabbard feeling the soft hide when Redlance pulled a second gift, the large hide of the Elk rolled into a bundle now, and handed it too her.

“I tanned the hide so it’s soft on one side but the fur on the other is still thick. It will keep you warm next winter.”

“Oh my…” Brownberry whispered again as a small tear formed and fell from her eye.
She ran her hand over the supple fur feeling its softness knowing it would keep her and Longbranch toasty during the cold months.

“I don’t know what to say…” Longbranch stammered at a loss for words.

“There’s nothing to say. I wanted to give you these, to honor you.” Redlance said with a warm smile before turning away and walking over to Bearclaw.

“Good job son,” the pistoleer said with a nod.

“Here, this is for you.” Redlance said giving a second hunting knife, just like the first, to Bearclaw.

The old devil took the knife with a dazed and startled look. He stared at it liking the feel of it in his hand just like Longbranch had. He finally spoke with a shaky voice that Cutter or Joyleaf had never heard from him before.

“What’s this for?”

“A good hunter always needs a good knife and I noticed you didn’t have one. This is my gift to you Bearclaw, for being King of the Hunt.” Redlance said with a smile before turning and walking over to sit back down with Nightfall and Crescent.

“Thank you, son.” Bearclaw said tucking the knife into his sash. Joyleaf smiled and nudged him with her elbow making him smile finally.

“Are you crying?” Clearbrook asked her husband One-Eye wiping away her own tear.

“No,” One-Eye demanded shaking his head, “I got some smoke in my eye.”

Everyone laughed and talked about the scene at length while finishing their coffee. Later, after lunch, when Nightfall and Redlance took a walk in town holding hands he looked to her and smiled while speaking.

“I think they liked the gifts.”

“Are you kidding me? Papa and Momma were knocked senseless by them. If they didn’t think of you as special by now, then those gifts did the trick.” Nightfall said with a laugh.

“I still have one more.” He said.

“What?! For who?” Nightfall asked with a yelp.

“You…” Redlance said pulling out a polished bone bracelet made from the antlers of the Elk. It was three rows wide separated by a blue turquoise bead at each joint.

“Oh my…” Nightfall gasped just like her mother.

“I love you Nightfall,” Redlance said tying the bracelet on her trembling wrist, “I always will.”

“So will I…” She said putting her arms around him and hugging him hard.

The two separated after a minute and continued on with their walk. Nightfall felt the bracelet against her skin and swore to herself it was never, ever coming off. The rest of the spring passed and no one came down looking for Redlance.

No one came looking for him…and that made Nightfall very happy.

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PostSubject: A Mating Unaware - Part Five   Tue Dec 01, 2015 10:56 pm

So here's the last part of the backstory for Redlance and Nightfall, the fated introduction of a special character...it's not the last story, just the end for now...


A Mating Unaware - Part Five

“There’s my little girl!” Bearclaw said with a growl as Nightfall brought Tyleet out from the kitchen. The little one rubbed her eyes after waking up from her nap and when she saw the pistoleer she smiled as big as she could.

Bearclaw reached out and took the baby from her mother’s arms with a big goofy face making Tyleet laugh and coo. Of course no one at the counter could believe what they were seeing, it was too surreal. Brownberry’s mouth hung open in shock as did Crescent’s and Treestump was barely holding his laugh in. The meanest elf in the West acting like this? You’d have to see it to believe it.

“Is this the same elf that held out against the McCanles gang in that shoot out?” Longbranch asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Yes sir, the same one that shot all four without getting a scratch.” Joyleaf replied before taking a sip of her coffee.

“It’s Tyleet, she’ll melt anyone’s heart, good or bad.” Crescent said with a wink to Nightfall.

“How could you not melt with eyes as beautiful as hers?” Bearclaw said sitting the child in his lap and tickling her chin.

Yes, how could you refuse her little Tyleet Nightfall thought feeling thankful no one had seemed to recognize those eyes? Every time she looked at her beautiful daughter she saw him staring back, deep and loving. She watched Bearclaw, the most temperamental and stubborn elf’s she had even known get reduced to cooing and making faces. Now that was something else, a one-year-old making him look like a fool.

“Someone needs to get the horse whisperer? Strongbow will kick himself for missing this!” Marshall Treestump said. He had won the election just a few months ago and taken the star proudly from the mayor amid the whoops and hollers of everyone in the crowd.

“Anyone makes a move for that door and I’ll shoot em!” Bearclaw stated with a raised eyebrow as Tyleet played with the buttons on his vest.

Everyone laughed as Brownberry rubbed her granddaughter’s back. She loved her little grand baby Tyleet more than words could say and Nightfall could see it. So did Crescent who smiled and played with Tyleet’s little hands as Moonshade sat next to her with an equally broad warm smile. The whole scene made Nightfall feel warm, and as usual over this last year, she slipped back in her memories to a certain day three long years ago. She had just left Two-Moons going on tour with Joyleaf’s show and trying not to think about Redlance leaving on his vision quest.


Have you heard what happened to Mary Alice?

The memory of Crescent asking about a human friend back in Two Moons was in and out of Nightfall’s head in a flash, much like her breakfast of eggs and potatoes. She gave a small thank you for the bucket Bearclaw had brought just in the nick of time before most of the food hit the saw dust of the back room floor of the arena.

Bearclaw stood off to the side keeping an eye on his trick shooter, but giving her enough distance so as not crowd her. The first thing a man learns is when and where to get close to a sick woman, especially one with Nightfall’s particular illness. He was looking away as another wave rolled over Nightfall making her vomit and he saw his wife Joyleaf approaching with quick worried steps.

“I just heard, is she all right?”

“Trick shot’s going to be okay once the morning passes.” Bearclaw answered with a shake of his head.

Joyleaf missed the hint and spoke so quick the words almost ran together. “Damn, I knew she wasn’t ready to go on tour, I mean she just got finished at Clearbook’s and WHAM we bring her out here-“

“You didn’t hear me, did you?” Bearclaw inquired with a grin.

“What? That the illness will-, “Joyleaf was saying before it all clicked, “oh no, she’s-“

“Yep, I saw her two days ago throwing up like this and put two and two together.”

“Why didn’t you tell me, you old badger?” Joyleaf demanded with surprise.

“She needs to tell you not me, and I think she’ll do just that now.” He said tossing a look at the girl who was slowly getting herself together.

His wife sighed and then smiled as Nightfall, mercifully finished, walked over in her costume and now streaked make-up with a small smile of her own. “Thanks for the bucket Mr. Bearclaw.” Nightfall said weakly.

“My pleasure, and don’t worry about bringing it back. We’ll just leave it right there.” He said with a wink.

“Are you okay sweetheart?” Joyleaf asked with a concerned but sharp look as she put a hand on Nightfall’s shoulder.

Nightfall took one look at the show’s owner and knew instantly there was no lying and no trying to hide it. She nodded her head and spoke with as much confidence as she could muster. “I’ll be okay by the time it’s my turn to go on. I won’t let you down Mrs. Joyleaf. I promise.”

“Its not letting me down I’m worried about.” Joyleaf replied.

“I’ll be okay, please don’t send me home.” Nightfall quickly retorted.

“Trick Shot, it’s not about you anymore. We have to think about the baby.” Bearclaw said knowing it was such a shock for him to talk like this. Hell, it probably wasn’t getting through to the girl unless he did.

He was mildly surprised though when Nightfall only nodded and looked at him with an expression that reminded him of Longbranch. “I know what I’m asking you for Mr. Bearclaw, and you have every right to send me home now, but I wouldn’t do anything to hurt the baby. If you let me stay I won’t do anything that would hurt me or her.”

“Her?” Bearclaw asked in surprise at the remark.

“It’s a girl. I can tell.” Nightfall said with a smile.

“How can she tell that?” Bearclaw asked again with a whine looking to his wife.

“We women can tell and leave it at that.” Joyleaf replied with a shake of her head casting off her husband’s questions as she turned to Nightfall, “against my better judgment I’m going to let you stay on Nightfall, but only after you come to our wagon and write a letter back home telling your folks about the baby. I’ll have no part in any surprises or conspiracies waiting for them.”

“Yes ma’am Mrs. Joyleaf.” Nightfall said with a nod of her head.

She understood what the Joyleaf was getting at, and she understood perfectly the position she had put her and Bearclaw in. Nightfall was just 18, a week away from home, and pregnant as could be. The funny part was all she could think about was him, her Redlance.

Where could he be she wondered? Would she ever see him again?

“Run along Trick Shot and get your make-up fixed. The first show will be on soon.” Bearclaw ordered.

Nightfall snapped back and nodded before walking away toward the wagon where all the costumes and make-up was kept. As she walked away Joyleaf and Bearclaw stood and watched making sure she was gone before speaking.

“You think she’ll be okay?” She asked.

“Yeah, we’ll keep an eye on her, the both of us, to make sure she doesn’t do anything crazy or risky. How do you think Longbranch and Brownberry will take it?”

“Oh, Brownberry will scream with joy while Longbranch will probably pass out.” Joyleaf chuckled with a smile.

“Well, I hope someone draws a picture for a memento.” Bearclaw remarked with a mischievous smile.

Joyleaf only slapped his shoulder then kissed his lips before the two walked back to their wagon to get ready for the show.


A loud laugh brought Nightfall back to the present and she watched Bearclaw and Tyleet, nose to nose, making noises to each other. Nightfall only smiled as Treestump laughed so hard at the sight he forgot to breathe. Longbranch turned to his daughter from behind the counter and spoke up between his own laughter.

“Sweetie, I want some of your mother’s chocolate cake. Can you cut me a piece?”

“Sure Papa, does anyone else want some?” Nightfall asked and as usual all their hands shot up. A piece of Mrs. Brownberry’s cake was something you didn’t pass-on.

She laughed and headed to the back where the cake was. As Nightfall started to get the plates down the door to the kitchen swung open, but she didn’t need to look up to see it was Crescent, her sister. Nightfall put the plates on the counter as Crescent brought over the cake on its pedestal to help cut it.

“I can’t believe Bearclaw acting like that.” She giggled getting out a knife.

“I know,” Nightfall whispered back making sure the others didn’t hear anything,” he’s been a different elf since Joyleaf put her foot down.”

“And Cutter went into the Army.” Crescent added while putting a piece of cake on one of the small plates.

Almost as soon the words were out the kitchen fell into an uneasy silence. The mention of Cutter’s name brought up the memory of Redlance, for both, and the three years that Cutter and Redlance had been away from Two-Moons. Nightfall looked at her sister and noticed the tremble in the hands, the look of loneliness in the eyes, and she wanted to speak up so much.

Just say it please! Just say that you love him as much as I do so we can finally make you happy. Just tell me that you lay awake at night wondering like I do where he is, If he’s safe and okay?

But Nightfall didn’t say anything. This was her sister and she knew Crescent would deal with her emotions in her time and her way. Plus…she loved Crescent and to push on her just didn’t feel right to Nightfall. One day her sister would take that leap of faith and tell Redlance what was in her heart, and on that day Nightfall would be at her side along with her love for both.

“Tyleet is so cute, it’s no wonder Bearclaw fell under her spell.” Crescent said changing the subject.

Nightfall only smiled letting her sister make the change, understanding why. “She had Papa wrapped around her little fingers the day after she was born.”

“So was Pa,” Crescent laughed thinking about Strongbow and the first time her father saw Tyleet, how he looked at her hard with his usual steely gaze for a split second but then Tyleet smiled. It was over after that, Strongbow was tough with the adult’s, but was melted butter around little girls.

“Do you remember the day you came back from the tour? We were all waiting after that letter hit.” Crescent said with an audible sigh.

The memory was still fresh as Nightfall nodded thinking back to the day she got home from her very first trip with the show, and the fact Bearclaw took her right to the restaurant’s door.



“What are you doing? Don’t jump off the wagon from up there!” Longbranch yelled as Nightfall’s feet hit the ground and her dress floated around her ankles.

“Papa, I’m okay!” Nightfall exclaimed as her mother Brownberry grabbed her in a gentle but firm hug.

“Of course you’re okay!” She said stepping to the side and touching her daughter’s stomach in a protective manner.

“We’re all okay mama.” Nightfall laughed with a shake of her head.

The others all moved in to get a hug. Rainsong and Crescent and Woodlock, and all were careful not to squeeze too hard.

“Thanks again for taking care of her Bearclaw.” Longbranch said offering his hand.

“My pleasure Longbranch,” Bearclaw smiled taking the hand and giving it a hard shake.

The lawyer grabbed his daughter’s bags and things then and headed into the restaurant after waving goodbye to Joyleaf and Bearclaw. The three didn’t have much time to talk at first, the lunch rush was on then getting ready for dinner, but after the restaurant was closed all three set down at the large island sipping coffee and talking.

As usual, Nightfall thought, it took all of a minute before they were talking about the pregnancy. It was the way in their house, the way his mother and father confronted things most of the time, head on. Brownberry reached over and took her daughter’s hand in hers and gave it a squeeze before speaking.

“Are you still getting sick in the mornings?”

“Only a bit, I just throw up once now instead of three times.” Nightfall said with a small laugh.

“Oh, I was terribly sick with you.” Brownberry laughed with a shake of her head and a giggle.

“She would get sick at the smell of food in the mornings and on top of that your mother refused to let me make my own breakfast.” Longbranch laughed as well.

“Oh no,” Nightfall said.

“Oh yes, I wasn’t letting my husband go hungry, and I’ve seen him make a fried egg! He’d starve without me!” Brownberry said poking fun at her husband.

“Hey, as long as I got a hog leg in the cold box I’d survive!” Longbranch said with a deep voice referring to a piece of ham.

The two ladies laughed with him until the kitchen fell silent and Nightfall decided to voice the only concern she really had. “The only thing I worry about is the gossip, not about what they’ll say about me, but what everyone will think of you two. I wish I could stop it all before it even begins.”

“To hell with them,” Brownberry said emphatically choosing not to mince her words or hold from cussing, “your father and mine’s reputation in this town is a lot stronger than those old hens pecking in the street out there for a piece of corn!”

“Your Mama’s right sweetie, you were raised better and it shows, your years ahead of anyone else your age in what you know and how you act. You have always made us proud and this won’t change that. You amaze me everyday with your courage, your selflessness, and your honesty.” Longbranch added with the same firmness.

“And if anyone has anything to say they can come into the restaurant and say it with all of us, your friends included standing by your side.” Brownberry added with a sharp nod and squeeze of her hand.

“Thank you,” Nightfall said holding back her tears while returning the squeeze to her mother and looking to her father, “has there been any word from him?”

“No…not a peep.” Longbranch said with a whisper before sipping the last of his coffee. He looks as worried and lost as I do Nightfall thought.

“I know it’s a bad thing to say, but I can’t stand the tribe for sending him away.” Brownberry spat.

“Mama,” Nightfall said with a shake of her head sympathizing with her mother, “the tribe is his family too. They needed his help and you know he won’t turn down anyone. I know he’ll come back when he’s finished finding what he was sent to look for.”

“Oh I know. It’s just that to ask him to just go off on some quest, and with you pregnant now…it’s not right.” Brownberry said angrily.

Nightfall looked at her mother with warm misty eyes and spoke quietly again. “So you know?”

“What, that the baby’s his? I don’t have to ask because I know how much you love him and how much he loves you. You two were fated to be together and this only proves it. I would know if it was someone else’s anyway.” Brownberry answered with a smile.

“And that’s just another reason we’ll love our grand child, because it’s from the two of you.” Longbranch added.

The kitchen fell quiet again before Nightfall brought up the last thing she needed to say, to get out in the open. “When he comes back…please don’t tell him about the baby, that she’s his.”

The mood changed instantly in the room as Brownberry looked confused and Longbranch’s expression soured instantly. “Why don’t you want to tell Redlance about his child?” The lawyer asked.

His daughter took a breath and answered with a smile. “Because he’s so like you Papa, honorable and forthright, a version of you from your younger days. If I told him that I was pregnant he’d run down to get the justice of the peace to marry us in a flash. He’d do the right thing at the drop of a hat.”

“And that’s not what you want?” Longbranch asked back.

“No, I don’t want him to ask me to marry him because he feels trapped. I don’t want him to marry me because he feels it’s the right thing to do.” Nightfall explained.

“Sweetie, what makes you think he’d feel trapped?” Brownberry whispered.

“Look at what happened to Mary Alice and Frank? He left her high and dry before the baby was even born.” Nightfall answered with a shake of her head sending her long brown locks flying.

“Please,” Longbranch said with a laugh as the sour mood slipped form his face, “you’re comparing Redlance to Frank, one of the worst boys in this town? Frank was born a horse thief and a cheat and he sure didn’t disappoint running out on Mary Alice leaving her with a baby to raise and no way to do it.!”

“Listen to your Pa sweetheart,” Brownberry said taking over from her husband, “you and Mary Alice are nothing alike. She went against good judgment in sleeping with that boy Frank and now she’s paying for it. Redlance will be at your side, to help you raise the sweetest little girl this Abode has ever seen.”

“All right, maybe I’m worrying too much, but please Papa, let me handle this my way. I’ll tell him when the time is right, I promise.” Nightfall said with a small smile feeling, hoping her father would let her handle it.

Longbranch stared back with a serious look, the kind she had seen before when he was thinking. She had had seen it on him during trials, doing business in town, and at times like this when the family concern was high. He was so smart she thought, and he wasn’t conceited with it or pushy. He would sit and listen to whatever you said, weigh it, and then decide what position he would take. Until then he didn’t, wouldn’t, give you a single hint as to what he was thinking or what side he was leaning toward. Finally, after a long and agonizing few minutes he spoke with care and love.

“Okay, this is your decision sweetie, but I’ll say this once and then I’m done with it. Do not wait until there’s no other choice but to tell him. Do not let yourself get painted into a corner because there’s no telling how bad you’ll ruin the paint, understand?”

“Yes sir, I understand.” Nightfall said feeling her love and respect for her father run over.

“Good, now we can go up stairs and rest.” Brownberry said taking all the coffee cups and putting them into the sink.

Nightfall waited at the base of the stairs and then hugged her father and mother as hard as her arms would allow. It was the experience of a lifetime to tour with the show, to hear the crowds, and do her act for them. Yet it was good to be home, to have her mother and father close, and to feel safe for what was to come.


The memory stopped as the loud clang of silverware hitting the floor snapped her back to the present, the kitchen and the cake. Nightfall looked over to see Crescent squatting down to grab the forks with a look of distress on her face.

“Oops!” She said with a giggle.

“At least it wasn’t the cake. They might have come in here and hurt us for spilling that.” Nightfall said picking up the try that had all the plates while Crescent grabbed clean forks.

The group ate the cake with more than few ‘Umm’s’ to go around. Even Tyleet couldn’t resist smiling broadly as she took a bite form Mrs. Moonshade. Her little face lit up and she laughed hard with lips covered in chocolate icing. Nightfall made sure to take in every moment, every smile and laugh, so she could go a little longer without Redlance holding her. She smiled after taking another bite as Tyleet took a second bite from Mrs. Joyleaf this time and laughed hard again. Everyone was so into the little elf they missed the sudden commotion that was happening outside until Treestump turned to look and spoke up.

“Now what’s going on out there?”

“It looks awful dangerous, let’s send Bearclaw out.” Longbranch smiled ruefully.

“And let you spend time with my best girl, not hardly!” The pistoleer said with a laugh while making faces again with Tyleet.

“I’ll go check on it.” Stump said just as the door opened and Dart stepped part of the way in and then stopped to turn and look at something outside.

The new apprentice deputy stood with the door open watching whatever was causing the commotion which didn’t make the ones inside happy. His mother Moonshade spoke up just as the new Marshall did.

“Dart, either in or out but don’t keep the door open!” Moonshade admonished him.

“What’s going on son?” Treestump asked with a smile on his face obviously not too concerned.

But the apprentice deputy didn’t say a word. He just ignored the whole party sitting inside. Now they realized something was a foot and Crescent beat them all to asking what was happening with a sharp tone.

“Dart, what is it?”

Again the apprentice deputy didn’t answer the question, but now a large smile broke across his face and he let out a whoop that made everyone jump.

“Whoo, Red’s back!”

As soon as the name was out, before it even finished echoing in the room, Nightfall felt her heart stop almost cold. The bite of cake she had just swallowed stop midway down and the small plate crashed onto the counter as her hand just let go, the mental command to hold it overridden by a single repeating thought.

He’s back...He’s back.

She didn’t look over to see Crescent or the look of utter shock on her face. Nightfall didn’t see her mother or father, both slowly starting to smile. She only stared at the front window and the space above the curtains, that opening to the outside world. The seconds seemed to just creep by but then, just like the morning he had come to town to bring back her horse, the top of his head was there. He was taller now then that morning and she could easily see the red flowing hair and the bright green bandana he wore. Nightfall immediately moved to the end of the counter, to the eave, just a she noticed his head bob slightly.

He’s limping...He’s been hurt.

The thought blocked out the words Dart said as he called out to the approaching elf.

“Whoa Red, you look like hell son.”

“I’m better then I look Dart, which isn’t saying much!” Redlance fired back with a laugh.

The sound of his voice was the last bit. Nightfall stopped where she stood just three feet from the door as Crescent gasped from behind. It was him…it was really him.

And then Redlance stepped past Dart and into the restaurant bringing a smile to everyone’s face instantly. Brownberry saw the gaunt face and thought he must have lost twenty pounds while Longbranch thought he looked just plumb wore out. Crescent and Nightfall though thought he looked just as handsome as the day he left town. Redlance smiled at them all and then stopped when he saw Nightfall. He gingerly shifted his weight to one leg while smiling that boyish smile and speaking quietly.

“Oki i'nákohtssi pi'kssíí (Hello Little Bird)”

She took the three quick steps to cover the distance to him and reached out putting her arms around him and her head to his chest. He smelled like dirt and sweat and horse…and she loved every scent. Nightfall felt his arms circle her and gently squeeze, as if there wasn’t enough strength in his tired limbs, and it didn’t matter one bit. She could hear his heartbeat, each glorious thump as a small tear rolled down her cheek.

“Welcome home my love.” She whispered to him not moving.

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Tue Dec 01, 2015 11:14 pm

When this story catches up to where it left off... I'm going to shout "yee hah!"

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Sun Dec 06, 2015 7:10 pm

Hehe rofl Dear dear Bearclaw

Well, Lunacat, I hope you'll enjoy waiting with anohter story in the meantime. Here's the second part of


All Good Things Are Three - part 2

The only thing Crescent could remember from the horrible trip up in the air was that she had been very, very dizzy when the stable was spinning and spinning until she compleatly lost track of time. Therefore she couldn’t tell how long she had been up there before the stable had made a huge crash when it finely landed.

She wasn’t able to get up at the first moment and had to lie down for a while. The stable had stopped spinning; now she had to wait till her head stopped spinning. It took a while before she finely managed to sit up, and then she still wondered if her head was on straight.

The stable had landed with the south went wall down, but the walls had been badly treated on the landing. There was planks and cases thrown all over, and had miraculously not smashed her during the uplift. When she looked up she saw the stairs to the attic she had climbed earlier torn and sticking out through the opening. There were bundles of hay stuck on incredible places; including all over her. The dust from the mess and the hay made her sneeze a couple of times and she wondered how she had managed to get hay in her bloomers.

While she was picking out the straws that had gotten stuck in her braids, she heard barking outside of the stable, and she remembered the little puppy she had brought with her. How did he get out? She noticed several holes in what had been the roof. Planks were sticking out from everywhere; several of them were missing and brought fresh daylight in. Crescent got up and tried to climb to the best place to get out. Then she discovered the doors; they were damaged, all through the wall, but made a big opening for her to get out.

Outside she was amazed by the sight that met her. A lovely forest surrounded the place, flowers on the size of her head in shapes she had never pictured herself. There were little round things on the ground in between the trees; she could swear it looked like little houses. They were also to be found in the trees, with little sticks that run out of the tree that looked like circular stairs up to the houses.

“I’m not home anymore, that’s for sure.” she said to herself.

She had heard of houses and things, even people and animals that was taken far away by tornadoes. That had just happened to her; she had been taken away with the stable to this strange place far away from her hometown.

The barking interrupted her thoughts and she remembered the puppy.

“Buddy?” she called when she heard him, it came from the other side of the stable ruins and she run to see if he was alright. The little dog was barking at something at the ground, but stopped when Crescent lifted him up. She started petting him and scratch behind his ears. “What are you so noisy for you little…” she paused when she looked at the ground.

A couple of striped stockings with some beautiful sparkling shoes on them were sticking out under the ruins. The toes pointed right up and they weren’t moving at all.

“Oh, high ones…” she gasped as she realized what had happened. “I have just killed someone!” She stepped back from the feet pointing out from under the house. Then she became aware of some strange noises behind her and turned around but couldn’t see anyone.

“Hey hey! Highthing watch’it!” she heard someone say from down.

“Sorry I…”she looked down, and jumped back while giving a little cry at what she saw. At first she only spotted flowers that hadn't been there before, but then she became aware that they were moving. A couple of large eyes showed up under them, then a face, and then a body. One had purple skin, one had yellow, and one of them, probably the one who had called out, was green. He walked over to the two legs that showed up under the stable. Then he turned to his fellows and yelled out. “She’s dead! We’re free at last.”

The other little creatures suddenly started to exult happily and more of them came out of the little houses. Some were running down the stairs around the trees, and some others were flying on birds. They all came to see the dead one under the stable to see by themselves. Then they started cheering out loud, theirs voices so high and light that Creschent felt her ears hurt. But as she covered her ears, she was able to catch that they were singing.

Badthing flatsqueezed, Badthing dead
Badthing got big bang in head
And now Wethings finely
Happy happy we can be

Crescent stood and watched them while they sung of joy. The thought that she had been the reason for someone’s death wasn’t much to celebrate she thought, but obviously these little creatures were happy to get rid of her. The song was quite silly, and for a moment she could only laugh as she got used to the sound of their voices.

Highthing save us
Highthing kind
Highthing came from big blue sky
Untill Highthing flingy down
And now Wething safe and… oooooh!

They suddenly stopped singing and looked up at the sky. Crescent turned around to the place where they looked and saw a large glowing bubble coming right to her. She had to duck to not get it in her head. The bubble kept flying and crashed right into one of the trees before landing in the grass. Then it appeared a woman appeared out of the light, an elf like herself. She was dressed in a large light blue garment that looked like cloud, with huge puffed sleeves, both on the size of a pumpkin. Her hair was all white and a crystal diadem with a star in it that was covering her forehead. She looked like and elder, Crescent thought, but she eyes were not at all old, neither did she have wrinkles or anything like that. She held a long staff in her hand with a star on top of it, like the one on her diadem. This elf woman was now lying on the grass pretty confused after hitting the tree with that speed. Her skirt had so many layers of fabric that the only thing visible were her feet.

"Oh dear, what an clumsy entrance..." she mumbled as she seemed like she was waiting for her eyes to clear.

Crescent wasn’t sure of what to do, but decided to go help her. “Are you alright ma’am?” she asked her. The elf woman shocked her head before answering.

“My oh my, I always hit something when I’m flying…” She noticed Crescent and smiled at her. “I didn’t hit you did I?”
Crescent smiled back. “I’m fine, but are you?”

“Oh, I’m alright, thank you. Oh thank you, my dear.” she said and took the hand Crescent offered her. It was a question to Crescent how she managed to get on ehr feet with all those skirts draped around her legs. As she rose, she found that the woman incredibly tall. She was even taller than Judge Timmain, Crescent thought shocked, probably twice as tall as herself. “Oh I really hit it this time.” she said before she suddenly started laughing out loud, followed by all of the little creatures around them. Crescent couldn’t find the humor in crashing in a tree like that; this was obviously a thing that happened normally in this place.

The woman calmed down at last and looked at her again. “Now tell me, who are you my dear?”

Crescent looked up at the woman’s face. “I am Crescent, ma’am.”

“Crescent? What a beautiful name. Myself is named Northella, and I am the witch of the north.”

“You’re a witch?” Crescent asked. Witches was something she had imagined looking more like a troll, and old and wrinkly with long noses; this woman seemed as young as she was, except she was much taller. “But you’re so… young and beautiful.”

The elf obviously found her comment funny because she started laughing out loud again. “Oh my, oh my , oh my. That was really funny. Me - young? Well I’m happy it looks that way.” Then she suddenly turned to the broken stable and got silent. She walked over to it and to the side where the dead person known as 'Badthing' was lying with her toes up. “Oh my, what happened here?”

The little green man run over to her. "Highthing made her dead and Wething’s free at last.” it said and jumped happily, grabbing Crescent's skirt, swinging in it as it cheered.

Crescent looked over to the feet under the crushed stable. “I swear, it was an accident. I didn’t mean…”

Northella only smiled. “Of course you didn’t, but anyhow, by showing up, you have just saved the village of the preservers.”

“Village of the what?” Crescent asked.

“The preservers. Their job is to preserve all the beauty in the forest here, which was very difficult with the wicked witch of the east, Easta, lurking around wanting them to work for her and sometimes even taking prisoners. But now they’re all free thank to you. You defeated her!”

Crescent got confused and disturbed by all of this and waved her arms while she stepped back, making the preserver loose its grip n her skirt. “Hey, hold on! I didn’t defeat anyone. I was just flying with the stable which landed on her.”

Northella just smiled at her. “Oh, but you defeated her anyway. You did or else you wouldn’t have the magical crystal shoes on your feet!”

“What do you mean? I haven’t got…”she gasped when she saw that the beautiful shoes that had been on the witch’s feet, was now on her feet. How did they get there without her noticing it? She looked at the striped stockings again and found them bare with toes sticking up.

“Do you believe me now?” Northella said, shrugging her shoulders lightly, giving her a wide smile and a blink with her left eye.

Crescent didn’t know what to say. The shoes couldn’t possibly have walked over to her and put themselves on like that? “I… I don’t understand…”

“It’s magic, my dear.” Northella said. “It’s not meant to be understood, all you can do is to accept it.”

Crescent suddenly felt that it got too much for her. She knew now that she was far from the home, she knew. When she thought back she hadn’t really wanted to leave home, she just wanted not to go back at the moment. Be careful what you wish for, a thought hit her; now she really knew the meaning of that. But it had all been so unfair that she hadn’t thought. She felt how tears started filling her eyes once more.

“Oh my, what is the matter, Crescent?” the witch said and laid a hand on her shoulder. Crescent blinked the tears away and looked at her.

“I want to go home. I didn’t mean it when I wanted to get away from home. I was just so sad!” she said chocked.

“Oh, but Crescent, you cannot go home. There is no way.” The witch raced her eyebrows. “While we're talking about it, how did you get here anyway? Normally there is no way to get here to Oz. There is a large deadly desert around the Land of Oz, impossible to get over without flying.“

Crescent tried hard to fight a moan. Hadn't she just explained this to her? “I was... in the stable when the tornado passed and took it with it; I did fly over here!”

“Oh? That explains. Northella didn’t answer at first, she seemed to be thinking. After a minute, she smiled.“Now I know it! Crescent,” she said lifting up her cheek to face her. “There is a way for you to get home!”

Crescent wiped her eyes, and smiled of happiness. “Really? How? Please tell me!”

“You have to get to the Wizard of Oz. He once came here flying, just like you. Maybe he will let you fly with him.”

“Do you really think so?”

“I’m sure he will.”

“Where is he?”

“He lives in the Green palace, and that is in the end of this road.” Northella said and pointed with her staff in the direction of a road that went from the little village. It was a long yellow road, reaching as far as her eyes could see. It looked beautiful against the blue sky and the green grass, as if it was made of gold.

“Will you go with me, please ma’am?” she folded her hands, looking appealing at her.

Northella burst into her loud clucking laughter again. “Ma’am? Ha ha ha. That was a funny name. Please, just call me Northella, my dear.” Then she went serious again. “But no, Crescent. I cannot go with you. I have to help the preservers to get rid of the mess here, and bury Easta's body. Now that the witch of the east is gone, her sister Westa, the witch of the west might will show up looking for her sisters shoes. She might come look for you too, since you’re the one wearing them, but don’t worry. As long as you wear them on, nothing will be able to hurt you, so you will be completely safe.”

Crescent didn’t like the thought of having a witch, an evil one, chasing after her, but realized that she had no choice. “Well, alright. Thank you anyway.”

Northella bent down and kissed her on her forehead. “There. Now you are protected with my mark too. No-one will put a direct harm at you now. I wish you good luck, Crescent. Good bye!”

“Good bye, Northella. Thank you so much. Come’on Buddy.” The little puppy yelped after her when she started walking to the road she had to go to get to the Green Palace. After a while she turned back and saw that Northella and the little preservers were waving at her. She smiled and waved back to them, feeling a sudden strength grow inside of her. Maybe it was the kiss from Northella that in a magical way made her feel better? She couldn’t tell, but right now she didn’t care.

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

She hadn’t walked for very long before she came to a field with apple trees, and she discovered that she was feeling terribly hungry. She hadn’t come for lunch, and it had probably not been lunch at home at all. Not with the storm going on.

“Wait here, Byddy. I’ll just grab some food here.” The owner couldn’t possibly blame her for taking just a couple of the apples. She started gathering in between the lowest branches when she suddenly heard something.

“Hello there?”

Crescent let out a yelp when she heard it, quickly turning around when she heard the call. At a moment she thought it was the owner of the apple field, but there was no one there, and she let out a sigh of relief.

“Hello? Help me please help me!”

She turned around again. She couldn’t possibly figure out where the voice came from.

“Heeelp!”

There! It came from the tree. Could that be possible? She had heard of talking trees in fairytales as a child, and since she was in a magical world right now, maybe….

She didn’t get time to think before she heard it again. “I know you’re there, why don't you answer?”

Crescent didn’t know what to say, she had never spoken to a tree before and didn’t know how to react at all. “Um… I’m sorry, Mr. Tree, I…”

“Tree? Who do you call tree?” the voice responded. ”I may not be a man, or a bird or a bee or anything whatever moves around, but I am absolutely NOT a tree!”

“But what are you then? WHERE are you?” Crescent called back.

“Up here, up here. Help me get down, pleeease?”

Buddy started barking at something above, and Crescent looked up and discovered a couple of legs dangling down and kicking wildly from the upper branches. “Oh, Hight ones! Hold on, I’ll come up and help you, sir.”

She had great experience in climbing in trees from her trips with Nightfall in the forest as a child, and sometimes with her brother, so it wasn't much of a deal for her to get up to the man hanging stuck. While she climbed she swore she could recall those pants from somewhere, but couldn’t figure out where from. She had reached the branch where he was stuck and tried to get from behind him. “Okay now, I don’t know how to do this, but I’ll do my best. Your shirt seems to be stuck, but I’ll see if I can – WHAT THE…”

As the person turned around she got another shock. There was no man, or a bird of a bee or anything like that like he had said; it was the scarecrow from the oat field back home. He was here in this weird magical world. She flew back at the sight of him and almost fell down of the branch. She managed to grab another branch sticking out before she fell, and clenched hard to it. “High Ones help me!” she whispered.

The branch she was holding wouldn’t bare her and before she could get it the branch broke and she fell of it with a scream. Luckily she managed to grab the waistcoat of the scarecrow.

“HEY! Let go of me; you’ll rip me apAAAAAAAHH...”

The scarecrow was dragged along with Crescent and the next moment they were both at the grass covered ground. It wasn’t as hard as expected, but to have someone landing on you isn’t good when you fall as well, Crescent thought. The scarecrow was practically lying on her lap. For a moment she thought that she had been having visions, but the next the scarecrow tuned his head once more and looked at her. “Gees. If I had known that it wouldn’t hurt to land like that I wouldn’t have screamed that much for help. But then again I don’t think… wait, I can’t think, can I?”

“Get of me!” she shouted to him., starting to kick with her legs in panic.  

"Yeah yeah, don't rush it, I will!" it said and rolled over and tumbled on the ground while Crescent stumbled to get up on her feet. "Oh how heavy my head is."

This was getting once too much out of control for her sake. This was insane, he was hanging in the field like a lifeless sack of straw, how could he possibly be moving and talking like a real person? And how did he get here? “Y-you-you’re… TALKING?” she managed to get out.

The scarecrow started looking out in the air like he was reasoning. “It sure sounds like I’m doing so, but don’t ask me how I do it.”

“But that’s not possible!” Crescent exclaimed.

The Scarecrow managed to roll around and got up in sitting position. ”I’m sorry. Did I do anything wrong?” he asked.

”No eh… no you… but…” Crescent closed her mouth realizing that she was talking to the Scarecrow again. He’s not real, she kept telling herself. But as she took a look on him she could see that he looked pretty lost and confused, just like herself had been a couple of hours ago. Was he afraid too? ”It’s okay, you didn’t do anything. It’s just that you’re the least person I had expected to meet here. I thought maybe.. you were back in Two Moons on the field.”

”Well I was when that horrible twisting and turning and blowing thing dragged me of my stack and took me here.” he gesticulated with his finger spinning around.

”You mean the tornado?”

“Is that what you call it?”

“Call what?”

“The thing that blows and twist and turn. You know, it drags on the trees and carry things away. it takes little leafs with it, bow down the oat and the grass and blows sand in your face.”

“Are you talking about the wind?”

“Right!" it exclaimed happily raising a clumsy, gloved finger up in the air. "That’s it. The wind took me here.”

Crescent stood in silence for a moment. Never in her life had she ever met someone as stupid as the Scarecrow. “No, you don’t understand. The wind blows, but when it gets as strong as that and starts to spin around it creates something we call a tornado.”

The Scarecrow scratched the straws on his head under the hat. “Really? But what’s the wind then?”

Crescent rolled her eyes. “But you just said it!”

“Said what? I said so much I don’t think I catch it myself.”

"Forget about the wind!" Crescent said trying hard not to start yelling. “You said that the tornado blew you away.”

“Yeah, but I still don’t know how I got here.”

“Oh High Ones!” she said and rolled her eyes.

“Who’re they?” the Scarecrow asked again.

“Not the point...” she kicked the ground in frustration. She was getting so annoyed by his stupid questions, but knew it wouldn’t help if she got angry on him. Instead she took a deep breath before she slowly started explaining again. “The tornado blew you from Two Moons and into this land. Did you get it now?”

The scarecrow did nothing but looking at her for about ten seconds before he suddenly nodded. “Oooh, I see. My, you are really incredibly smart. I wish I had your brain.”

Crescent raised an eyebrow. “What? Haven’t you got one of your own?”

“No, I haven’t.” suddenly the scarecrow bowed his head. “My head is made of straws and there’s nothing else inside of me either.” He looked so sad, Crescent thought suddenly remembering how pitiful he looked at the field, just hanging like a sack you didn’t need for anything. His shirt was patched up several places. The purple waistcoat was worn out and had lost two buttons and the head, an old sack with painted eyes and mouth, was stuffed and bounded with a rope around the neck. As a scarecrow he looked ordinary, but as a living, walking and talking creature, he looked miserable. The strange understanding she had felt for him then came back and blew away her anger.

“I’m sorry.” She didn’t know what to say to him. what could she talk about with a scarecraw? “Are you… I mean did you break anything?”

The scarecrow looked up. “No, I don’t think so. You know what I really forget my manners. Thank you so much for getting me down from the tree. Did you get hurt when I landed in you?”

“No I didn’t. I guess I’ll get a blue mark, but nothing serious. Besides you weren’t heavy at all.”

“Good. I didn’t think that far, but then I’m not able to think – I think.” He started scratching his head again, but was soon interrupted by a strange rumbling sound. “What was that?”

“That was my stomach.” Crescent said holding around her belly. She had completely forgotten why she walked out here. “I really need to eat, you don’t mind that?”

“Of course not. You don’t mind that I sit with you, do you?”

She found that she smiled at him. “Sure you can. You don’t eat much, do you?”

“No, but I’d like a talk.”

So they sat down under the large apple tree, Crescent eating while the Scarecrow watched Buddy sniffing around and playing.

“Why do you want a brain so much?” she suddenly asked. The scarecrow looked at her, his painted mouth smiling.

“Well if I had one I would be better in everything. Or at least I would be a better scarecrow.”

“But do you need a brain to only scare crows away?”

“We scarecrows do nothing but that, but I’m not particularly good at scaring crows.” He suddenly lowered his head. “You saw that for yourself.”

“Yes, I…” Crescent said before almost jumping up from her sitting position. “Wait a minute; you saw me there?”

“Of course I did.”

“Did you hear me too?”

“Yes. It was a really sad story you told me, but I didn’t understand much of it.”

“You mean you heard everything I said?”

“Why? Shouldn’t I have?”

“But you weren’t alive then, were you? I thought you came to life when you came here.”

“I have been, somehow, alive for quite a while. But I couldn't move or talk or... not do much. But I heard things, and saw things, and... well, I didn't actually feel the crows picking on me and draw the straws out, but I saw them do it. I know I was put there to scare away the crows, but they figured out pretty soon that since I wasn't moving around, I could not harm them, and they kept eating he oat. He looked down again. “And when the farmer found out he and his son stood and complained that I was so useless. His son said it was because I was a brainless straw bag. And he’s probably right.”

Crescent felt sorry for it, remembering how it hung there, letting the crows pick at it. She wanted to say something to comfort it, and spoke. “It sounds boring to just hang and scare crows all the time. Wouldn’t you like to become something else?”

“Like what?” he asked. "What else can a scarecrow do?"

”I don’t know. But maybe you could get an education or something. That’s where I have my knowledge from, because I’ve learned it in school.”

The Scarecrow seemed to smile at the thought. “Oh, that would be wonderful. But wait.” the happiness he had felt a second ago disappeared and he leaned to the tree with a sad expression. “Don’t you need a brain to do that?”

“Um… I guess…” Crescent stopped eating and looked at the half eaten apple in her hand. She was thinking about the Wizard the witch of the North was talking about. In fact she wasn’t sure she believed that he had so much power that he could send her home again, but if he had, he must have enough power to help the Scarecrow. “On the other hand.” She said looking at him, “I’m on my way to a powerful wizard who’s to send me home again. Maybe he’ll be powerful enough to give you a brain.”

The Scarecrow looked up and his painted eyes were shining in new hope. “Do you really think so?”

“I’m not completely certain, but I have no other place to go and if he really can do it then it’s worth a try. What do you say, wanna come with me?” she rose and reached out a hand to him.

The Scarecrow face was now a big smile and he grabbed her hand and got up. “Ready as a pumpkin.”

“What?” Crescent had to laugh at his silly comment, and if the Scarecrow had been able to blush he would have done that right now.

“Eh… nothing. Let’s go.” he said and started walking when Crescent stopped him.

“It’s this way.” She said pointing in the direction she had been walking in before.

“Eeeh... right. Why didn’t you say so?”

Crescent shock her head and started walking beside him. She might as well get use to his behavior; without a brain he couldn’t help what he said. At least she didn’t have to travel alone all the way to the green palace she thought.

“By the way, what shall I call you?” she asked grabbing his arm.

“I don’t know. Do you have to call me something? A scarecrow doesn’t exactly have a name.”

“Can I just call you Scarecrow then?”

“Sure, why not? But shall I call you something too?”

“You can call me Crescent.” She said smiling.

“Well if I haven’t said it, I’ll say I’m happy to have met you, Crescent.”

At least, if not a brain, he has manners. Crescent felt a warmth feeling growing inside of her heart. “I’m glad I met you too, Scarecrow!”


Last edited by Rainflower on Sat Apr 09, 2016 12:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Wiseshaman

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PostSubject: ElfWest Day Three - Part One   Tue Dec 08, 2015 10:42 pm

@Lunakat wrote:
When this story catches up to where it left off... I'm going to shout "yee hah!"

I guess I better get to work on getting these pieces posted eh? Laughing


And thanks Rainflower for reposting the Crescent story, I forgot how good it is! Please keep it going...

But now, we start up the next day of ElfWest, Day Three...


Day Three - Part One

The morning sun was just starting to rise above the horizon but the town of Two Moons was already bustling and moving as the store owners readied for the day. Spine opened his Barbershop with a smile and wave to passerby’s making the joke that he needed to think about offering nightly specials so he didn’t have to get up so early. Snakeskin and Darshek opened their leather shop just as Jarrah opened the large doors to Two-Edge’s smith and livery. People moved about casually, and most would have been walking over to the restaurant to get the day started right with Brownberry’s cooking. Only this morning the restaurant was closed, as it always was every month on this day. It was opened only for the elves, to gather and chat about things like business and family affairs. This was the reason for Strongbow as he headed south into town from his ranch bouncing along in the wagon with his family pulled by Chester the trusted steed. Moonshade sat right next to him and Crescent took the seat next to her cramped up against the rail. In the back Wavecatcher sat on one side with his arm around Wavelet while the three girls sat on the other. Chitter kept fidgeting, rolling from side to side with a frown on her face.

“What’s wrong little one?” Wavelet asked with a laugh.

“I hate wearing bloomers! Why do I have to wear them anyway?” Chitter exclaimed in frustration.

“Because proper ladies wear bloomers, and when you’re in town you’ll act like a proper lady.” Moonshade said not looking back which meant there was to be no back talk…but this is Chitter we’re discussing.

“That’s why I never go into town.” Chitter mumbled pulling at her dress.

“What was that?” Moonshade asked quickly turning her head slightly.

“Nothing ma’am.” Chitter said back knowing better then too push.

The family rode on with most laughing and Chitter still grumbling. The wagon finally hit the smooth path of the road into town mercifully. Everyone seemed happy, all except Crescent who sat quietly wanting to be anywhere but in town this morning. She’d have to see them at the restaurant and she didn’t know if she could take seeing the pair after yesterday, after being pushed out and away from them. Crescent took a deep breath as Strongbow guided old Chester right into Brownberry’s where Wavecatcher jumped out of the back then turned and helped Wavelet and the girls get out. He stood looking at his wife Wavelet as the morning sun seemed to ring her red hair with a halo making her unbelievably beautiful dressed in her white dress and hat.

Crescent stepped down from the seat holding up the hem of her dress to avoid it getting in the mud. She was busy looking down when a voice called to her.

“Crescent! Wait!”

She didn’t have to look up to know who it was calling for her, and when she did look up to it was Nightfall running at her with a big smile avoiding the mud of the street with a skip, dressed all pretty in a new outfit with the handsome tracker behind her. Well, she knew she was going to have to see them sometime, might as well get it over with. Her heart did pick up when she saw them though…maybe she was acting like a fool she told herself.

“Morning Nightfall! Redlance!” She said with a happy anxious smile.

“I have to tell you something before anyone else!” Nightfall gasped while giving her a huge hug that made Crescent’s heart warm. She smiled putting her arms around her sister as Redlance walked up with his usual boyish smile.

“Good morning Crescent, you look beautiful.”

The remark made her blush as only he could make do and she pulled away from Nightfall trying to hide her face. “What do you have to tell me?”

Nightfall smiled and handed over the leather tri-fold and watched as Crescent read the words on the deed and it all sank in. She smiled brightly as the shock settled in on Crescent’s face. “You bought the land?”

“Redlance did, and he put both of our names on the deed. We got all fifteen acres. We’re going to live right next to each other.” Nightfall giggled while taking Crescent’s hand in hers.

“I can’t believe it…” Crescent said shaking her head.

“We wouldn’t joke about this. You can ride up and see us whenever you want, we expect it. Tyleet can’t be without her favorite Aunt.” Redlance remarked walking up and standing right next to her, close enough for her hand to brush his shirt.

“And we can go skinny dipping in the pond like we use to…only there’s a little more to see now.” Nightfall whispered with a grin.

Both the tracker and his love stood there on there on the walkway waiting for a happy response from their friend, but instead they got a little shock as Crescent started to wipe away tears. Nightfall stepped in quickly squeezing her sister’s hand worried. “What is it?”

“I didn’t think you two wanted me around anymore.” Crescent whispered covering her mouth with her free hand.

“Now what made you think that?” Nightfall asked surprised.

“I waved to you both yesterday and neither of you answered back. I just thought with Redlance coming back- “Crescent was saying before Nightfall broke in.

“What? That I’d leave you out of our life…out of my life. Well that’s not gonna happen! You’re my sister!” Nightfall whispered hugging Crescent again.

“You’re our friend Crescent…more than that really. We couldn’t make it without you.” Redlance whispered giving her a quick wink and a pat on the back.

She smiled broadly then looked to him. “You mean that?”

“You want me to write it in blood?” Redlance asked with a smile.

“No,” Crescent said putting her head on his shoulder so fast he wasn’t sure what to do, “but how did you pay for all that land?”

“I bought it out right with the money I saved from the war.” Redlance answered finally while rubbing her back.

Crescent’s eyes went wide as she spoke looking back up. “How much did that cost?”

“Not enough…I figured it up all wrong.” Redlance said with a laugh.

Before Crescent could ask what that meant Nightfall spoke to her. “Can you stay in town and help me out at your mother’s shop?”

“Oh yeah, if someone gives me a ride back to the ranch, what are you going to do?” Crescent asked.

“I need to buy myself and Tyleet some new clothes…and maybe something for you too.” Nightfall said with a wink.

“Oh…” Crescent smiled wide. She let the Nightfall turn her and take her into the restaurant still arm in arm. She was too busy feeling relieved from being wrong and warm from the love she felt from them for her and the love she felt for both of them.

Cutter rode up with his mother Joyleaf and Bearclaw right behind just as Nightfall and Crescent were entering Brownberry’s. The three tied off their horses to the hitching post, the Major removing the Henry from the scabbard and putting it into the buckskin sheath. It was better to take it in then leave it on the horse he thought. Cutter gave a wave to the tracker, who had stopped upon seeing him, before stepping up onto the walkway as Dart entered the restaurant.
“You sleep with that thing last night?” Redlance asked.

“Right on the pillow next to me.” Cutter replied with a laugh.

“I can think of warmer things to sleep with.” Skywise called out walking over from the boarding house with a limp.

“What happened to you?” Cutter asked as his friend stepped up onto the walkway.

“Obviously you’ve never broken a bed before.” The captain remarked with a wicked grin. Cutter didn’t want to know and didn’t ask as he turned for the door.

The five entered the restaurant and took their seats. Redlance hugged Tyleet then stood by the counter with Cutter his father and mother and Longbranch as she sat in-between her mother and Crescent, who sat next to her brother who was against the wall on one side of the long table. Wavecatcher sat across from him with Wavelet at his side then Brownberry, Moonshade and Strongbow. The three girls sat at the end wrapped around the corner. Chitter kept looking over her shoulder at the tracker then back to Krill and Brill whispering questions. Crescent handed over the leather tri-fold letting Brownberry and her mother read it. Brownberry gave out a small cry grabbing everyone’s attention.

“What is it?” Longbranch asked with a smile from behind the counter.

“They bought it, all of it…they bought the land.” Brownberry said looking at her husband with joy filled eyes.

“What?” Longbranch asked in shock with his smile getting bigger.

“Nightfall and Redlance bought the fifteen acres behind us, the pond and all. We got new neighbors!” Crescent said with a laugh.

“You mean we can build out house now?” Tyleet asked with a gasp.

“Yes my little one, we can build you and Grandma a big old house with so much space it’ll make your voice echo when you scream.” Nightfall said with a smile.

Tyleet gave a whoop as Strongbow looked to Moonshade with a raised eyebrow and smile, what passed for happy shock with the sharpshooter. She nodded and smiled. “Yes, they bought it all. I guess we don’t have to worry about someone buying it up and trying to run us off now!”

Strongbow raised his coffee cup for a small salute that Redlance returned with a nod just as the door opened again and in stepped Rainsong and Woodlock followed by Rain himself and the children. Joyleaf left the counter and joined them at the table by Strongbow and after everyone exchanged greetings Foxfur took their orders. Brownberry helped out pouring the coffee to both tables as Longbranch took care of Bearclaw and Cutter and Redlance and Skywise. A minute later Marshall Stump walked in behind Mrs. Clearbrook with Dewshine and Scouter following. They took the last seats with Rain and his family. The Morning breakfast for Moonshade’s birthday turned into a nice family affair with the restaurant filled with friends. Everyone was laughing and sharing stories enjoying the company when Longbranch noticed the object propped up by Cutter’s leg.

“Is that the Henry?” He asked looking down at the sheathed rifle.

Even though everyone was busy at the tables talking or eating, they all stopped at the question and turned back to Cutter who felt all those eyes on him making him feel very uneasy. He took a second to decide to pull the rifle out, but when he did the men in the room gasped. He gave it to the lawyer and instantly Longbranch was smiling from the feel of the rifle.

“Is that Ben Thompson’s Henry?” Rain whispered.

“Yep,” Cutter said handing the rifle to Longbranch with the barrel pointed skyward, “we got it out of Two-Edge’s yesterday.”

“So that ticket was for the Henry?” Brownberry said sitting by Nightfall now.

“Yes ma’am, we got the rifle and some cartridges Ben had made. Two-Edge tried to hold us off but I had the ticket and legally the rifle was mine.” Redlance answered with a nod and a sip of his coffee.

Stump and Rain both stood up and walked over to get a better look while Dart and Strongbow both craned their necks to catch a sight not wanting to leave their seats and upset Moonshade. Longbranch opened and closed the lever with a loud snap and clack making some jump in the room from fear and others from excitement.

“We still got half the box of ammo after shooting it yesterday.” Cutter said.

“You shot it?” Scouter asked sounding part excited and part sad for missing out. It didn’t compare with the look of pain on Strongbow’s face though.

Cutter and Skywise and even Redlance smiled broadly at the exclusive club they were in as Woodlock spoke up. “It kicks like a four-year-old Mule and its louder than anything I have ever heard.”

“You fired it Pa?” Wing asked excited.

“Yep, though those three were the better shots.” Woodlock said with a smile.

“Woodlock…” Rainsong sighed with a smile and shake of her head. Boys will be boys…

Strongbow shook his head in disbelief and disappointment sloshing some of his coffee out of the cup and that was the last straw to his wife. Moonshade turned to him and scoffed. “Go ahead and go see it, I know you want to.”

Almost with a leap Strongbow and Dart jumped up practically running to the group by the counter with the rifle. Cutter gave a laugh taking the Henry from Longbranch then slowly handing it to the Strongbow. As soon as the sharpshooter’s hand touched it he was in love all over again. To the laymen it was just a hunk of metal, to Strongbow it was a masterpiece. He ran his and along the barrel then moved it to a normal shooting position being careful to only point the business end at the wall away from everyone. The stock was a perfect fit, right into the crevice of his shoulder, like it had been made just for him and him only. The Henry was heavy but it talked to him almost, told him where to put his hand on the shroud to balance out the weight for a comfortable pose. Strongbow felt such an attachment it took a loud cough from Cutter to break his attention from it.

“You know we’re gonna want that back.”

Strongbow half smiled lowering the Henry then cradling it while Wavelet asked a question.

“So what’s so special about that rifle?” Wavelet asked.

Between Cutter speaking to the technical specs and Bearclaw about the local history of the Henry its uniqueness became apparent. The Major left out the map or any word on the Wavedancer who brought the rifle to Two-Edges. Cutter felt discretion was best thing for now and he was happy when Redlance and Skywise kept quiet. It didn’t matter either when Bearclaw spoke up about old Ben’s demise. The more he told about how old Ben was found the wider every child, and some adult’s eyes, got. Krill got a shiver down her back and slid over next to Wavelet while Brill took Nightfall’s hand. Chitter even jumped out of her chair and ran over to Moondshade’s lap.

“I don’t like this story!” Brill whispered.

“Neither do I.” Clearbrook added pulling her shawl tighter around her shoulders.

Nightfall put her arm around Brill and squeezed gently. “There’s nothing to worry about sweetheart. There are too many good elves in this room to let anything happen to us.”

“So…the door was just swinging in the breeze?” Wavelet asked with a whisper that sounded a little scared.

“Yep,” Stump answered looking to group, “and there was Ben lying face down on the dirt floor on that cabin he called a home. There was a small set of tracks leading out of the front door, bloody footprints, but they disappeared in the high grass. I only went back once after that with P.W. to get Ben and to take a quick look around. I haven’t been back since.”

“Why?” Dewshine asked taking Scouter’s hand in hers and squeezing hard.

“Something didn’t feel right…like I was being watched. Spooked me so bad I haven’t even considered going back. All I know was Ben was dead and the rifle everyone wanted was gone.” The Marshall explained.

“What are we going to do now that we know where it is?” Dart asked eyeing the Henry.

“Whatever debts Ben owed died with him. According to the Judge Redlance got everything in the bag so the ticket was his and so is the rifle.” Stump said with a snort.

“Just be careful son, they say that rifle is cursed.” Rain spoke up.

“Cursed?” Wavecatcher exclaimed.

“Old Ben ended up dead, and after he was buried most folks said he found the rifle out on the plains and should have left it right there. He’d still be alive if he had these same people tell.” Rain stated and his words only made the room a little colder.

“What were the rumors Doc, how did old Ben come across the Henry?” Skywise asked as his curiosity took a deeper hold. Next to him Foxfur sighed wishing he had let the story end there and go no further.

The doc smiled and carried on, everyone’s attention his now. “The story I heard was he came across an old wagon pulled by a dead horse with a dead man in the seat, and there across the man’s lap was the Henry, waiting for someone to come and take it. It’s no wonder they say whoever has the rifle ends up dead. Ben probably stole it, but maybe he didn’t. He’s dead all the same.”

The room went silent and then Tyleet took one of Nightfall’s hands in hers and Crescent’s in the other. “I don’t want Papa to have the rifle! Please, let’s get rid of it!”

“Aww sweetie, you don’t have anything to worry about. You’re Papa don’t like guns.” Crescent said hugging her.

“Nope, he hates them. I’m betting he’ll get rid of it before the days out.” Nightfall added with a wink and a smile.

“Oh it’s already gone.” Redlance smiled with a nod.

“Really?” Tyleet asked with hope brimming in her eyes.

“Yep, he traded with me yesterday.” Cutter said with a proud smile.

“What’d it cost you son?” Joyleaf asked sipping her coffee.

“My old Calvary saber.” Cutter said.

The room fell silent again but not from fear. This time it was shock. Dart turned to the tracker with eyes filled to the rim with disbelief. “You gave up that beautiful rifle for a saber…an old saber.”

“Yep, that’s about it.” Redlance replied.

Strongbow looked down to the Henry, then to Redlance and back to the Henry, and then back to Redlance one more time with an expression of utter confusion. The tracker shook his head with a small laugh and motioned for Tyleet to come over while he spoke. “This is why I traded the Henry.”

He knelt down and whispered in Tyleet’s ear for a second. She stepped back as he produced a pouch from under his shirt and then opened it for her to look into. When she did she gasped then looked up to him. Redlance whispered in her ear again and this time she stepped back and nodded. He smiled as she gave him a kiss on the cheek along with a hug around the neck, and then took the pouch. Tyleet went back to the table with everyone’s eyes on her. She opened the bag carefully and produced three large bone necklace chokers and one smaller one. The three links of the off white bone had been polished smooth and connected with one large red bead in between two small turquoise ones forming a snug fit.

“Here Mrs. Moonshade, this one’s yours for your birthday.” She said handing over one of the large chokers.

“And this one is yours Crescent as my favorite aunt.” Tyleet said giving her the second choker. The gift almost made her cry as she touched the polished bone.

“And this one is for Grandma.” Tyleet said handing the last large one over to Brownberry who did cry when her granddaughter gave her the choker.

“And this one is for Dewshine, my best friend.” Tyleet said walking over and handing the smaller choker to Dewshine who could only smile in shock at the gift.

While Tyleet made them all put the chokers on Skywise turned to the tracker with a smile and a wink. “So you trade the best rifle ever made possibly for a saber that you trade with Black Feather for four necklaces that you trade for a kiss from Tyleet...”

“Yep,” Redlance said with a nod and a sip of his coffee.

“Was it worth it?” Bearclaw asked with a smile though he already knowing the answer because he knew the tracker so well.

“To see Tyleet happy and laughing, it was more than worth it.”

“You know…I think you did get the better part of the deal.” Cutter said with a smile taking the Henry from Strongbow and putting it in the sheath.

“The chokers are beautiful; does Black Feather make these himself?” Moonshade asked as she and Crescent rubbed them unconsciously.

“No, no one knows where he gets them from. New Moon says a spirit in the hills makes them. An old woman from the Blackfoot’s past comes to him when he has need and she gives him the chokers. Each one gives you long life and happiness he says.” Redlance smiled with a shrug of his shoulders.

“He does?” Crescent asked.

“Yes, no one ever sees him make them and yet he seems to have just the number you’re in need of.” Redlance said as everyone smiled at the story

“Hey, what happened with the land outside of town?” Longbranch inquired suddenly.

“We sold that yesterday to Guttlecraw. Let’s say we made a good deal…for us.” Bearclaw said with a smile.

“Oh yes,” Joyleaf said with the same smile, “so good I decided not to take the show out this spring. We’re staying in and using the arena for our shows. I kind a want to see how good of a crowd we draw on our reputation now.”

“Momma gets to stay home this spring!” Tyleet squealed.

“Yes she does!” Brownberry yelled as happy as her granddaughter.

They laughed, cheered, and finished their breakfast on lighter note with lots of talk and laughter. Afterwards, with the meal finished, they sat and drank the rest of their coffee not wanting to part but knowing they had to. There was no school but there was a lot of work to be done. Moonshade had her shop to open and Marshall Stump a town to look after. So they all rose, said goodbye to each other and headed out the door. The walkway out front was congested for a second as they all congregated before finally going their separate ways. Moonshade gave Strongbow a quick kiss on the cheek before Crescent walked up and took his arm.

“I’m going to stay in town Pa with Nightfall and Tyleet. I’ll be back later to do the chores and upkeep.” She said with a smile.

Strongbow looked at her for a second with a hard look meaning he didn’t like anyone, especially his family, shirking their duty, but then his face changed to small smile. He gave a wave to her meaning running along and spoke with a harsh grumble, the only sound his throat could make.
“Go, have fun.”

“Thank you Pa.” Crescent said happily with a kiss on the cheek before running to where Nightfall stood with Redlance and Tyleet. He and his wife watched with a careful eye as she hugged Tyleet and Nightfall. They watched as Crescent hugged the tracker too and how Redlance didn’t respond at first, like he was lost for a second, but then finally did with a hard hug that his daughter enjoyed. She kept her arm on him as the group talked for a minute before they broke with the girls heading toward the shop and Redlance walking toward his red Mustang.

“She could have chosen a lot worse you know.” Strongbow and Moonshade heard. They turned to see Clearbrook and Marshall Stump standing staring at the group also.

“I know.” Moonshade said with a smile heading for the shop.

Strongbow was thinking the same thing and wondering where his daughter would end up in the group when he heard a voice call to him. “You feel like keeping the Henry for me while I’m out today?”

The horse whisper turned in time to see Cutter handing him the Henry in the buckskin sheath and the rest of the cartridges. He smiled broadly feeling the weight of the rifle then looked to the Major with a raised eyebrow, like he was asking a quick question.

Cutter gave a small laugh and shake of his head knowing what Strongbow was asking without having to hear a word. “Yep, you can shoot the rest of the cartridges. Just remember the Henry kicks hard, but shoots straight as an arrow.”

The eyebrow dropped as Strongbow gave him a quick nod and a smile.

“Your welcome, and if you want you can clean it afterwards.” Cutter said with a smile heading for Nightrunner. The sharp shooter gave a small wink then headed for the wagon where Wavecatcher and the others were waiting. He gently laid the rifle in between him and his ranch hand before giving Chester the small whistle to start moving.

“We heading off to see P.W now?” Redlance asked riding Firecoat alongside Cutter and Nightrunner.

Cutter shook his head no as Skywise spoke up. “Hey I was thinking. We’re chasing our tails with all this rifle business. We should concentrate on the map.”

“No, we’ll stick with the Henry for now. Let’s tackle one mystery at a time boy’s.”

“Agreed,” Redlance said and Skywise mumbled his agreement with the plan.

“I want to stop at Spine’s first though.” Cutter said angling Nightrunner away from a wagon.

“Why, you looking for a haircut?” Skywise asked back.

“Nope, Two-Edge said a Wavedancer brought the rifle to him and I think out resident Barber may have an idea of who she is.” Cutter answered.

“And then too P. W’s?” Skywise asked.

“Yep,” Cutter answered.

“Hey Skywise, have you ever seen P.W.?” Redlance asked.

“Nope, he something special?”

“Umm…you could say that.” Cutter said with a smile.

Skywise didn’t like where the conversation was going, it was like the one about the ‘Forbidden Grove’ cemetery.

“What’s so special about P.W.?”

“Just relax when you see…him…I think it’s a him.” Redlance said making Cutter laugh. The trio rode through the streets on their way as the morning sun rose.


___________________________________________________
Dubbed Streaking ADD Cowboy of Awesome Sagas by KindredSoul and nibblet
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Wiseshaman

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Join date : 2012-06-23

PostSubject: ElfWest Day Three - Part Two   Tue Dec 15, 2015 10:01 pm

And onto the next part of Day Three...


Day Three - Part Two

The same morning in another part of town

“What is the issue Ekuar? Does our new employer scare you, is that it?” Rayek asked loading his saddle bag with provisions.

“No, “Ekuar answered looking out of the doors of the huge barn that housed Voll’s horses, “it is not her that scares me. I know I am only here because of you brown skin, that I am not in Mrs. Winnowill’s plans or ideas. She is not so scary, aloof maybe, but not scary. You know she gave me cookies last night when I went to the kitchen.”

“Cookies and milk?” Rayek grinned.

“No milk, just the cookies which were good. They were the small sugar kind, very sweet.” Ekuar replied with a smile.

“Then why do I feel so much tension in you, amigo. Why, if you’re not scared of her, do you walk around tensed as if death himself will jump out at you?” Rayek asked leading Leila out of the paddock.

“It is the house, or something in it which makes me tense.” Ekuar whispered as his companion stepped by.

“So we are back to her and your fear of her again.”

“No Brown Skin, you are not listening. She I can live with, but there is something in the house that is not…not supposed to be there.” Ekuar said with an uncharacteristic hard snap.

Rayek looked at his companion with a raised eyebrow wondering what was going on in that mind of his. Ekuar was usually more level headed than this, the calm one of the bunch some would say. Yet this morning he was agitated and just a little angry about something, maybe it was his leaving to check the cattle rustling in the North forty which was the crux of the problem. Ekuar had been alone before while he ‘worked’, but this wasn’t a hotel room where he could relax. Ever since Winnowill had asked them to move into the house and he had accepted Ekuar had been beside himself. His companion didn’t like the house, its look or feel bothered him. Rayek stepped up and into Leila’s saddle as the Arabian made a small dance anxious to be on its way. He smiled at Ekuar and spoke as a friend who was concerned with a loved one.

“I heard you Ekuar and I am trying to understand amigo. When I return we will talk more of these feelings you have. Please, try to rest while I am away.”

“I will try Brown Skin.” Ekuar promised as his companion turned Leila and headed off at a trot to the house.

He would try he thought, but it wouldn’t happen.

The Bounty Hunter turned glorified accountant rounded the house heading to its back where he found the proprietress sitting under a tree on a bench reading from a small book of poetry he guessed. As he pulled Leila to a stop by her he noticed she didn’t look up from the pages to greet him.

“Good morning Rayek. I take it you’re still engrossed with seeing to the ‘rustlers’ in the north fields.” Winnowill said turning the page.

“I just want to see why they only take twenty head of cattle every two weeks. Why do they want such a small number from the herd?” Rayek asked putting a hand on his hip by the Colt .44. It was an old reflex, a hard habit to break.

Winnowill finally looked up from the book and into his eyes speaking quite frankly with a distant gaze. “Oldbar has already said this was not a significant number to hurt our bottom line. I do not see the necessity of you confronting these ‘rustlers’.”

“Well, it would be nice if they kept stealing only forty head a month, but then what would Oldbar do if the rustlers went to sixty or eighty. When does the number become one that hurts the ‘bottom’ line? I think, being the diligent property owner that you are, that you would want this stopped before it reaches that number.” Rayek responded with a small arrogant smile.

Winnowill stared at him for a minute in silence. Rayek knew she was measuring him, trying to see what he was thinking. Maybe even look into his head again like she did that night when he heard her speak there without voicing a word. Yet there was no voice this time, no reaching into his mind, only the drop of her eyes back to the book as she spoke with a cold word. He was glad to be rid of the cold distant gaze.

“Then do not dally long. The Ranch must be kept working sir.”

“Will you look after Ekuar? He does not like new places.” Rayek asked suddenly.

She looked back up from the book, but the cold distant gaze was gone replaced by one that looked warm and inviting. “You do not have to ask that of me. I will care for him like he was a loved one.”

“Thank you Winnowill.” Rayek offered before spurring Leila forward and off. She watched him ride away for a second then turned back to her book.


He watched them through the opaque glass of the small windows in the library, the density and glaze on the pane designed to keep out most of the sun but also kept the two outside from seeing him. He watched the exchange with fascination noting the subtleties between them. He didn’t turn when he heard the footfalls on the floor behind him as he spoke.

“Do you like the new ‘accountant’ Oldbar?”

“If you took that stake out of his butt and got rid of that arrogant streak yeah, I might learn to hate him.” Oldbar said.

He laughed at the statement. His friend had no tact and no eloquence, which is why he valued his opinion so much. Oldbar didn’t mince words and never tried to hide or gloss over what he was thinking. He had spent a good portion of his life controlling things, his business and this land around him, building it up and into what it was today. A cattle baron of note back east. It took men like Oldbar to help and create this, men who didn’t mince words or feelings. It took men like Oldbar to hold it together as well, keep it all together by any means necessary. He was tired though and in some ways longed for the old days again when he was eager to build.

“You need me to deliver some messages sir?”

“Yes Oldbar, the letters are on the desk, the one she uses.” He said with a wave turning from the window and shuffling across the floor.

The large human walked across the floor to the desk getting the two yellow envelopes with old style letter writing scribed on the front. Oldbar knew where each would go from the words on the parchment even though he had no clue what they meant. He never asked what the words meant either, it was another reason he liked Oldbar. For if the foreman knew what was written in those letters than this relationship he coveted so much would end…harshly.

“How long will she be out there Oldbar?” He asked almost to the door.

“She’ll be out there for another two or three hours. She just sits there under that tree reading that poetry book. Is there anything else Mr. Voll?” Oldbar asked.

He shook his head ‘No’ to his foreman and left the library. He wondered if the kitchen would have some food prepared, maybe some of those cookies he loved so much.


The counter top was stacked high with dresses, three pair of boots, and good bit of the things a proper lady needed. Nightfall looked it over once again, for the fourth time, making sure she had what she and Tyleet needed. Her daughter and Crescent stood next to her wondering if she had finally completed the list. Two dresses sat by Crescent’s arm, one the off white with blue flowers along the hems that Tyleet liked so much and the other was a dark blue. She said she didn’t want them even though deep down she did.

“I think I have it all…” Nightfall whispered. After her tracker had nodded with a smile at her suggestion she and Tyleet needed new clothes she had compiled a list in her mind, and yes it included the dresses for Crescent.

“I have more dresses and things in the back if you want and I can always make what you need with the new sewing machine.” Moonshade offered with a smile.

“You know, Tyleet go and get us each another set of hose okay?” Nightfall said with a smile.

“Yes ma’am.” She answered running off to get them.

“You made some fine choices…and so did you daughter.” Moonshade said with a wink.

“Well, if he likes a dress I can wear one for him…” Crescent mumbled before catching herself.

Nightfall and Moonshade laughed as Crescent blushed then the pair they got themselves under control as the little one approached. Tyleet ran up with the hose and after paying for everything and having it bagged up the three headed back to the restaurant. Tyleet stayed downstairs helping Brownberry at the counter with the lunch rush while Nightfall and Crescent took all the bags upstairs to the rooms above the restaurant.

“I guess you won’t be staying up here much longer.” Crescent said pulling clothes out of the bags once they were in Nightfall’s bedroom.

“It’ll take some time to clear the land and then build so it won’t be anytime soon.” Nightfall laughed making a pile of the old dresses on the bed.

“How did Redlance get all the money to buy the land?” Crescent asked with a giggle.

Nightfall gave a hard laugh then took a deep breath before speaking. “After I told him I wanted that land he hung out at the Administrator’s office, just below the window mind you, and listened. He said he heard three men come in and inquire about land using a bunch of numbers he didn’t understand and then the Land Admin says ‘100’ an acre plus fees. So Redlance figures up 15 acres at a hundred dollars an acre and decides that plus a little extra to will be enough.”

“But that’s the price of bottom land!” Crescent yelped before laughing.

“I know,” Nightfall said with another laugh as a devoted look showed in her eyes, “he took every pay check and chit and had the Colonel put it in the safe at the Fort so he could save up and get the land.”

The room was silent for a minute as Crescent felt a surge of appreciation and devotion for Redlance and what it took to buy the land. She also had a question, one that had been burning inside her for the longest time, so she finally asked it. “Does he talk about the war? What happened to him?”

“No, I mean the Skywise probably brags about it and Cutter barely talks about it, but Redlance hasn’t said a word about what he did. He mumbled a word in his sleep the other night, Maryville. I think it’s a town in Djunsland.” Nightfall said with a low voice.

Crescent didn’t push the subject anymore even though the name ‘Maryville’ echoed in her head. She was about to say it was all okay, she knew her tracker would be all right with sometime home when a knock sounded on the door to the rooms. Nightfall walked out of her bedroom with Crescent just behind and when they opened the door to the stairs below they got a good shock.

“Good afternoon, your mother said it was acceptable for me to come up.” Rose offered with a large smile.

“Of course Rose, of course, come on in.” Nightfall said stepping to the side to let Leetah in and then giving her a kiss on the cheek.

“Good afternoon Rose!” Crescent said happily giving Leetah a hug.

“Thank you! It is good to see you to Crescent!” Leetah said with a laugh.

Nightfall looked down to see the satchel then back to Leetah with a raised eyebrow. “You need a place to change again?”

“Oh yes, but I also need help with something else?” Leetah asked.

“With what Rose?” Crescent asked back with genuine concern.

“Do you remember how you said yesterday that Aurek would have the newspapers about the battles that Cutter fought in?” Leetah asked Nightfall.

“Yep, Belles Ferry and Round Top Mountain.” Nightfall answered.

“Could you come with me to Aurek’s and help me find the papers?”

Nightfall looked to Crescent who answered with her smile. “We’d love to Rose.”

“If you help us put up the new clothes I bought for Tyleet and me we can get there in a few minutes.” Nightfall said eagerly walking toward her bedroom.

“I would happy to.” Leetah smiled happily while following her.

“What are you going to do with the old dresses and boots?” Crescent asked bringing up the rear.

“You can give them to the ladies who have need of them, who cannot afford a new dress.” Leetah said excitedly.

“That’s a grand idea Rose!” Crescent said with a whoop.

The women got everything put away and in place in a few minutes along with a pile of old dresses to give away. They turned to leave for Aurek’s when Nightfall turned to Leetah and Crescent with a wink taking the money she didn’t use at Moonshade’s out of her waistcoat pocket.

“Wait, I need to put this up first.”

They watched as she pulled the money belt out of the saddle bag that was now safely kept in her bedroom. It was a demand she made as soon as she learned about the stuffed money belt. There was no chance she was going to let it stay at the boarding house unprotected. As she was putting the money in a small folded piece of paper fell out. Nightfall put the belt back in the saddle bag then picked up the piece of paper while standing up.

“What’s that?” Crescent asked looking at the unfolded paper.

“I don’t know. It fell out of Redlance’s money belt.” Nightfall answered while staring at the paper.

“It looks like a map.” Leetah said looking over one shoulder.

“To what though?” Crescent asked form the other shoulder.

“What’s that language in the corner and sides?” Nightfall wondered out loud.

The three studied the markings for a minute before Leetah’s spoke up. “It is not Spanish so I do not know. It does look familiar though.”

“It looks like…Latin.” Nightfall whispered.

“Yes that it is!” Leetah exclaimed.

“How did you two know that?” Crescent asked with wonderment.

“Papa had to learn it when he studied the law and he would say it all the time to make me laugh, but I haven’t seen it in so long this looks like gibberish.” Nightfall said.

“Si,” Leetah added

“You know who we need to get is Rainsong. She helped her father Rain and I bet he learned Latin for medical school and taught her some.” Crescent whispered.

“That’s it, come on, let’s get her and head to Aurek’s.” Nightfall said folding the map and putting it back in her waistcoat.

“Are we sure we want to do this, get involved in Redlance’s business?” Leetah asked.

“He has done everything for me Rose, from saving me to buying the land I had dreamed about since childhood, so I’m going to help him with this. Now, are you with me Rose? I really want your help.” Nightfall asked with a hopeful look.

“Come, let us get Rainsong and run to Aurek’s.” Leetah said with a broad smile taking her friends hand in hers.


The Barbershop was empty as they walked in. Spine was sitting in his barber chair reading Aurek’s daily paper when he saw the three and hopped up. “Morning boys are you here for a cut and a shave or a cut or just a shave?”

“Morning Spine, we’re not here for anything but conversation.” Cutter said walking in with Skywise and Redlance following.

“Well that won’t help the wallet, but my mother said never to turn away someone who wants good conversation.” Spine remarked with a smile standing by the small station that held the scissors and combs and razors of his profession. His hand swept something off the top into a small drawer as he turned around.

“Why did she say that?” Redlance asked with a smile.

“Probably cause she got tired of listening to me and answering my questions!” Spine answered with raised eyebrows.

They all laughed until Cutter spoke up bringing the mood down just a bit. “We need to ask about any female Wavedancers that you know of that came over from Djunsland before you.”

Spine, who was usually jovial and jocular like no one’s business, became subdued at the question Cutter asked, so much so he moved over and sat in the barber’s chair again chewing on his bottom lip. “I don’t know of any other Wavedancers who came over before us fellas. It was hell over in Crest Point before I left with Wavecatcher and Wavelet. Everyone was scattering to the winds and surf to get away. Snakeskin was in our group too so I don’t think he’ll be much help either.” Spine said.

“Okay, so she might have slipped across with the help of the Maquis.” Cutter remarked.

The name made Spine flinch for a second and he looked lost in a memory, but then it all came back to the here and now as he shook his head and spoke. “How do you know about the resistance?”

“I worked with them a few times. I use to carry one of those peace coins they would ask you to show for friend or foe.” Redlance said from the spot against the wall.

A minute passed in silence again before Spine answered. “I was never a member of the Maquis but I knew a few who were. The resistance wouldn’t help a single woman to cross the border. It would have been too risky. The Djun was looking for the Maquis, scouring the land, killing anyone even remotely associated with them.”

“There were no Wavedancer here six months ago, no females?” Skywise asked.

“There may have been a passer-through, but none of the first ones here stayed. Snakeskin, Darshek, and I were the first to really lay down roots and stick it out here.” Spine said with a shrug of his shoulders.

“Okay, thanks Spine.” Cutter said with a nod and a shake.

“My pleasure, but why are you boys looking for the phantom Wavedancer?” Spine asked rising to his feet.

“Nothing special, we’re just trying to run something down.” Skywise said with a shake.

“Well you boys need stop by and get a haircut, or at least drop a hello!” Spine said.

“We will.” Redlance said shaking his hand and walking out.

“We’re off to now?” Spine asked with a grin.

Spine watched them leave then turned and walked back to the counter. He looked down into the drawer and then pulled out the small coin he had dropped in there just moments before. He hoped the three hadn’t seen him do it, that it passed by their eyes unseen. Spine picked it up and the memories flooded back in.


The large mule deer walked along the field just a step or two away from the edge of the high grass and nipped at the sweet lower grass eating the small spots that attracted its nose. It didn’t look up as it ate choosing to indulge on its meal. After a bite it stepped forward, took another bite, and then another step. The small ritual kept going when all of the sudden two small bodies jumped up out the high grass

“Ahhhh!” Chitter yelled with both hands over her head.

“Boooo!” Krill yelled then started laughing.

The mule deer snorted loudly in terror and then bolted away from the two girls heading back into the hills crashing through the bushes and brush. Jonas sat up laughing beside Brill who was only a foot or so away with a look of pure amazement on her face gasping as she spoke.

“Did you see him? He Was Beautiful!”

“I saw him sweetie! I truly saw him!” Jonas said between laughs.

“We could have shot him ten times!” Chitter yelled gleefully.

“No! We can’t shoot him, right Jonas?” Brill yelled suddenly worried and scared.

“Well, that’s the point Brill, to hunt for meat.” Jonas explained.

“Aww…” She said suddenly feeling remorseful.

“Now just wait,” Jonas said motioning for all three to come close, “we have to hunt for meat to stay alive. We tracked the deer along the trail and waited. And by doing what we did, by laying low and letting the deer come to us, we gave it every chance to stay alive.”

“Yeah, we didn’t do anything wrong.” Chitter exclaimed.

“We didn’t?” Brill asked with a smile starting to pep up.

“No ma’am, we didn’t use a gun that can shoot really far. We didn’t use some snare that traps the animal cruelly until we come back around. No, we did it right, the way Mother Nature intended.” Jonas said with a smile.

“Yeah, we didn’t do anything wrong.” Chitter stated again.

“I’m hungry, is it lunch time?” Krill asked.

Jones looked up, noted the placement of the sun, and then looked down to the girls. “Yep, if we start back now we’ll get back just in time.”

“Okay, we didn’t do anything wrong.” Brill said with a clap getting to her feet.

“Okay Ellie!” Jonas said not catching the name he used. The three girls looked to him a little surprised and stunned.

“Who’s Ellie?” Chitter asked suddenly.

Jonas froze, he had slipped letting the memory of his daughter Ellie take over for Brill. IT was just a second, nothing more, and yet it was so right. It was what was in his heart. He stood up, gathered himself, and then spoke like the Jonas they all loved.

“She was a special person to me at one time, just like you three are to me. Now let’s git or Mrs. Wavelet’s gonna have us skinned for being late!” Jonas exclaimed.

The three girls screamed in mock fear and took off running making Jonas laugh, and for a moment he saw Ellie his daughter running through the field of high grass just outside of the cabin he used to live in with his family, just like she always did before she passed on. He felt a small twinge at his soul until Brill turned and called to him.

“Come on Jonas!”

“All right,” he answered with a smile while wiping away a tear, “I’m a coming.”


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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Sat Dec 19, 2015 3:20 am

Poor Ekuar. He's one of the most adoreble elves in the EQ universe, and Rayek's compassion for him is moving. And Winnowill With the poetry book... Looking forward to read more.
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PostSubject: ElfWest Day Three - Part Three   Wed Dec 23, 2015 8:55 am

@Rainflower wrote:
Poor Ekuar. He's one of the most adoreble elves in the EQ universe, and Rayek's compassion for him is moving. And Winnowill With the poetry book... Looking forward to read more.

He is quite the charmer, that Mr. Ekuar!

But let's see what trouble the girls and boys of Two Moons find themselves in at the moment...


ElfWest Day Three - Part Three

The small building that served as the offices and printing press of the Father Tree Newspaper was exceptionally clean, neat, and in perfect working order for the elf who ran it Leetah noted. There was nothing which was out of place, as a matter of fact everything was arranged with efficiency in mind. There was a desk and chair in the left corner as you walked in and a table with more chairs around it in the right. A small rail and banister kept anyone from going much further than just past the door and thus walking to the back where on the left sat the machinery that made the paper while on the right were shelves and shelves of leather bound journals sat meticulously in order by date.

Aurek, the Editor, Reporter, and only employee, was just as neat and orderly about his appearance. He wore a stiffly starched shirt with blue waistcoat, grey pants, and mirror shined black leather shoes. His hair was neatly cut and small smile seemed to always be in place. At the present he was pouring each lady a glass of water and it was even done neatly with each glass having the same exact amount.

“Do you have the entire history of the valley chronicled here?” Leetah asked Aurek from the table with the others.

“Well, I see it as my duty to take down not only the history of the town and the valley but also of the Frontier itself. The shelves in the middle start with my arrival here and go to right while the left is what I have discerned and gleaned from visitors and such.”

“So you like history senor?” Leetah asked.

“I think it’s more than that Miss Rose. I have a deep love for this land and its people. The adventure…the fierceness…it’s all so captivating.” Aurek expressed taking a sip of water.

“Well, Rose here would like to know about Belles Ferry and Round Top Mountain. Do you have the old papers from those days Aurek?” Nightfall asked.

“Oh my Miss Nightfall,” Aurek said with a polite snip of pride, “I do not need a paper to tell you about those particular times. I can recite them from memory. Do you want a total retelling of the battle or are you looking for something in particular?”

“I want to know about the Major and what he part of?” Leetah asked.

“Ah, the Major, I see now. Well, when the Major went to Belles Ferry he wasn’t a Major then, only a First Lieutenant. You see Belles Ferry was the turning point for the whole war, up until then the Djun was driving our boys all over the country side. We won the smaller battles, but the bigger ones like the first and second meetings of Tate’s Creek and the massive engagements at the farms in Halifax and Amelia’s Meeting House were military disasters of the worst order. When Belles Ferry was decided as the next exchange it was almost certain if we lost the Djun would ride right over those mountains and take us all.” Aurek said drinking from the glass of water.

The women shivered with some recalling those tense times too vividly while others understood for the first time how close it all came to ending. Leetah was also struck with how much she didn’t know, how sheltered she had been on the Hidalgo. She took a sip of the water listening to Aurek as he started again.

“Let’s see, on the day before the armies met both sides fought a set of small skirmishes for the high ground, all the combatants were Calvary. Our side was comprised of the 5th and the 7th on the east flank and the 11th and 16th on the west, all under the command of General Stuart. Cutter was in the 7th under the command of Major Willits, a right honorable man from back east, family owned a clothing mill I think. On that first day before it all started those brave horse soldiers held off the Djun’s advanced forces letting our side take control of the hills and slopes of Belles Ferry, what turned out to be the strategical move of the engagement, but the Commanding General of the forces wasn’t through yet. He took the General’s unit, along with the other three, and had them reinforce the regular infantry, the 123rd if I remember correctly, at Dutton’s Ridge. It was a hill at the end of the western flank, the end of the line if you can imagine.”

“So Cutter wasn’t involved in the main battle?” Crescent asked before swallowing her sip of water.

“Oh no madam, he was in the thick of it for the four days. The Djun fought battles all up and down the 30-mile front throwing canon fire and men into our wall, especially the end of the line where the Major was now standing. The Djun spared nothing attacking the end of the front to try and out flank the army, three times a day for four days he assaulted. The Djun’s forces came at our boys in the morning, once after lunch, and once in the mid-afternoon. Up the hill the enemy came screaming like mad men and each time our brave soldiers threw them back. On the first day at the second attack Major Willit’s took a bullet to the chest and died as they were taking him back off the line. He was liked, loved, by his soldiers and seeing him fall instantly sent the morale of the troops plummeting. The line started to break, soldiers of the infantry and Calvary retreating in fear. In a second it might have been over, the line overrun and the army outflanked, but First Lieutenant Cutter rose to the front standing on a half-buried boulder holding his saber skyward. I talked to a man who was there and he said just as it was all about to end the Lieutenant let out a cry that rose above it all. He screamed to band together, to hold, to send the enemy back down the hill and all with bullets flying by his head.”

“Oh my…” Leetah whispered

“The men responded Rose, they rose up with their Lieutenant, and they threw those Djun’s soldiers back down that hill. With Captain Skywise at his side Cutter held off the Djun and his forces for three more days employing a technique that’s studied in the academy back east today. Cutter split his line and turned the inner one in at a forty-five-degree angle, kind of like a ‘V’. Every time the Djun’s men attacked he would let them advance and then have the inner line close in, like shutting a door, and when the line closed it sent the enemy back down that hill every time. When we won Belles Ferry, after the Djun lost 13,000 men in a single charge that was more massacre than fight, the tide of the war changed. It was the beginning of the end for the Djun, and the beginning of our shaky peace. Cutter was given the promotion to Major and the command of the 7th Cavalry after Belles Ferry. He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for Heroism for his actions that first day.” Aurek recounted before taking a sip of water

Leetah couldn’t breathe, it was so hot in the room all of the sudden. She took a shaky sip of water trying to calm herself. She had come looking for the Major, not the one in the stories, and received more than she was ready for. Yet she knew now more than she needed, more than enough to decide.

Crescent looked over to Nightfall not sure why she was going to say what she was going to ask, but something told her to. She swallowed and spoke with all the courage she could muster quickly. “Do you know what Maryville would have to do with the war Aurek?”

The question stopped the reporter and historian in mid drink. He put the glass down on the table gently and took a slow breath before answering. “It was a town in the middle of Djunsland, give or take a mile from dead center. It was a nice place I heard, quaint buildings and shops surrounding a large fountain in the center of town.”

“It was?” Nightfall asked with a whisper.

“It’s gone now,” Aurek said with a sad look, “the Djun razed it to the ground.”


The Forbidden Grove Cemetery was nothing like Skywise had pictured it, and that was a small relief. The gates weren’t old, but a polished black wrought iron formed into an old Victorian Style entrance with small decorative designs along the rails. The gates were set into a stone wall that ran down each side and around the cemetery in a long low oval. There were trees everywhere, it looked like more a forest in some areas Skywise thought then a cemetery, but then you would see a group of headstones and you knew what it really was, the last resting place for a weary soul.

The cemetery was at the southern end of town, away from the last buildings, with the exception of one house that served as the local funeral home. Cutter, Skywise, and Redlance tied up their horses to the hitching post outside and walked up to the door with Cutter using the old knocker to produce three loud bangs. Nothing happened for a second and then the front door swung open with a snap. Skywise, with his eyes at head level, thought it was a little weird that the door just opened by itself. Then a strange sounding voice, something between a man and a woman, spoke up.

“Major, it is good to see you BreeeDeetleDeeee!”

The captain looked down to see a…being of some sort dressed in a man’s suit with a woman’s facial features and glasses and whoa, those glasses were huge. One lens was the size of a beer mug and thick! It was so thick the thing’s eye looked like a ball a child would play with, all big and blue, and both lenses together made the eyes swim which in turn made Skywise a little sick. And it was only waist high to them, if that.

“Good afternoon P.W.” Cutter said offering his hand. The thing called P.W. moved forward taking his hand, but not really walking. The move was quick, erratic, like it darted forward and grabbed the hand.

“Redlance, BreeeDeetleDeeee, it good to see you too!”

Again P.W. really didn’t walk over to the tracker as much as darted accepting his hand in both if its.

“Afternoon P.W., you look good.” Redlance said.

“Oh it been busy, busy, busy! I have worked hard in the cemetery with keeping it up and growing, BreeeDeetleDeeee!” P.W smiled.

“Yeah, you’ve done a great job with the Grove.” Cutter said looking over his shoulder.

“Oh it is nothing big highthing!” P.W. replied with a shake of its head.

“You haven’t met the captain have you P.W.?” Cutter smiled warmly.

There it was again; the dart of movement, and it was in front of him. Skywise smiled his best I’m-kind-of-scared-but-I-don’t-want-you-to-know-it smile. “Sir…ma’am…glad to meet you.”

P.W. took his hand, and it felt very smooth but also wet, and shook it. “Hmm, 5’10, 35-inch chest, 32-inch waist, size 10 boots. BreeeDeetleDeeee.”

“Yeah, that sounds about right.” Skywise mumbled as P.W. turned its attention to Cutter again.

“What does big Major highthing need with P.W.?”

“We wanted to know if you had any of Ben Thompson things. He was buried about six months ago in the Grove.” Cutter remarked.

“Six months, two days, one hour and six minutes ago to be exact, BreeeDeetleDeeee. Yes, I remember Mr. Thompson, his things would be in the back, please follow highthings!” P.W. said with grin.

Then it was gone in the house darting from one side of the hall to other, still not really walking or taking a step Skywise could see. He turned to ask Cutter just what the hell P.W. was but the Major was already moving into the house behind the undertaker.

“What…?” Skywise stammered looking to Redlance.

“Tried to warn you, now just don’t make any sudden movements and you’ll make it out alive.” Redlance said with a wink and a smile.

“Excuse me?!” Skywise hissed walking in behind Redlance.

The hall was large, dimly lit, with a staircase that would take someone to the upper floors if there wasn’t a rope asking you not to go up the stairs. Rich dark wood was everywhere in the paneling and molding with pictures hanging on the walls of someone’s family. Skywise noted two empty rooms, the doors of each facing the other, with large rooms filled with fresh cut flowers and chairs. He guessed this was where the viewing of the deceased took place and slowed to take a longer look, but then he noticed he was alone in the hall and trotted after Redlance. Skywise didn’t feel safe enough to be without a guide…or a gun.

He ran up just as the group passed through a set of double doors that led to kitchen, but then took a hard right and down some steps to the basement. They stopped at a door that P.W. opened with a big key and then they walked in. The first thing Skywise took in was the smell, as in clean, as in someone scrubbed this place clean daily. Then in the northeast corner he saw a table and a set of workbenches connected together with all sorts of tools on it. One part of his curious nature wondered what those tools were used for, but the bigger part didn’t really want to know so he kept quiet. He looked over to see P.W. buzz in around several tall shelving units, like bookcases, that held box after box of who knows what. Finally, somewhere on the third shelf, he came across what he was looking for and suddenly appeared.

“Here is big highthing Thompson’s affects.” P.W. said.

“Why does it call us that?” Skywise whispered to Redlance, but it was P.W. who answered.

“Nervous condition I have had since childhood big highthing, BreeeDeetleDeeee.” P.W. said taking the box to a second workbench set out in the southeast corner and setting it down carefully on the counter.

“Stop it!” Redlance whispered hitting Skywise on the shoulder as P.W. went to the corner where he worked on the bodies to check on his tools.

“What? I didn’t mean anything.” The captain whispered back.

“I knew P.W. would scare you…” Cutter giggled moving over to the box.

The Major opened the box and looked inside to see everything neatly stacked that Ben Thompson had on him when he died. There was a wallet with no money and only a few folded I.O.U.’s to people in town. A hat, a set of boots, and some spare bits or change. There wasn’t much else, no clothes or jewelry, so Cutter gave the wallet over to Redlance as he called out to P.W.

“Hey P.W., were there any clothes?” Cutter asked.

All of the sudden, like a snap, it was back at the table across from them. “No Major highthing, we buried him in his clothes.”

“How did he die?” Skywise asked looking into those huge eyes.

“Not good, stabbed by knife, lots of times, took longtime to fix.” P.W. said without the whole ‘highthing’ of whistling.

“Has anyone else come along asking about his things?” Cutter inquired.

“Only a man looking for money said was owed to him, two days after the burial Major highthing.” P.W. replied.

“Did he take anything?” Skywise asked.

“He took his watch, nothing else BreeeDeetleDeeee.” P.W. answered.

“Who was the man, someone from town?” Cutter asked.

“No Major highthing, had not seen him before.” P.W. answered again.

Cutter and Skywise looked at each other with a curious look when Redlance suddenly gave a small whoop as the wallet ripped open with a pop from his hands pulling on the worn leather. “Ha, knew I felt something!”

Something round and metal hit the table and bounced coming to a stop by Cutter’s hand. He picked it up and held it out examining the gold looking surface with squinted eyes.

“What is it?” Skywise asked.

“It’s a Keeeyyyyy, BreeeDeetleDeeee…” P.W. whispered and whistled lowly.

“A key to what?” Cutter asked looking at the shaft and all the notches.

“Hmm, 2 inches long with 6 notches…it goes to a small chest big highthing, BreeeDeetleDeeee.”

“How do you know that?” Skywise asked with surprise.

P.W.’s face contorted to one of frustration bordering on anger. “Captain highthing will learn I know many things.”

“Yes he will P.W. We have to go and we’ll take the key with us. Thanks for letting us take a look.” Cutter offered with a nod.

“Come again Major highthing, you to Redlance. You are both fine company, BreeeDeetleDeeee” The undertaker said before spinning and darting back to its workbench.

The three let themselves out and once by the horses went over what they found with Cutter leading. “We know the woman was real now. After talking with Spine I thought Two-Edge was just throwing us off his trail.”

“Now we have the rifle, a map, and this key. Which do we follow?” Skywise asked.

“I say the rifle, it’s at the beginning of all this mess and it’s all connected somehow. I feel it.” Redlance stated.

“Agreed, we still tackle the Henry first. One mystery at a time, and like Red here, it’s all going to come full circle I feel.” Cutter said.

“Okay, so we’re off to Ben’s place then?” Skywise said getting on Starjumper’s saddle.

“Yep, we ought to get back form there in time to get ready for Moonshade’s party.” Cutter said.

“Oh yeah, can’t miss that.” Skywise said rolling his eyes spurring his horse on. The three rode off toward the old Thompson place as the sun reached its apex.


“What do you mean Aurek? The Djun just destroyed his own town?” Crescent whispered with shock.

“Yes Miss Crescent, he destroyed his own town. How much do you four know of the 'Maquis'?” Aurek asked back.

“The who?” Rainsong asked confused.

Aurek gave a small smile, took a sip of water, and then started forward. “The Maquis was, and still is, the underground resistance to the Djun. They ran sabotage missions, spread dissention, and gathered intelligence for our side during the war. The underground has been around for years, even before the war, and it will be there until the totalitarian regime of the Djun is through. We also used them during the war to help our scouts with certain clandestine missions.”

At the mention of the word scout Nightfall and Crescent perked up and Aurek smiled. He knew now why, and who for, they were asking about Maryville. “Crest Point and the surrounding small towns were a haven for the Maquis. The same goes for the town of Oacoma just past the border and it was for Maryville. Now, what I’m about to tell you was told to me from a source told at Fort Mantricker, and it was confirmed by a single man he knew in the Secret Branch. There is no official report of this.”

The ladies squeezed in as the mood tensed. Aurek took a breath and then continued. “The Djun discovered Maryville was a center, a hub if you will, for the Maquis and decided to make an example of the city and its residents. There was a special battalion in his army called the ‘Marauders’ who he sent out to do certain tasks, as in the destruction of a whole town.”

“Oh my…” Leetah said.

“The Djun had everyone killed and I mean everyone, except for a hundred and twenty-five fortunate souls who managed to escape with the aid and help of a single Sheridan Scout who had been in the area on a separate highly secretive mission. My source said the scout stayed after the Marauders had left, stayed to make sure there was not someone left alive. He did not find a single survivor. The city was a burning husk by then and it’s never been rebuilt.” Aurek said.

“Oh…” Rainsong said covering her mouth.

“This scout must have seen things only nightmares are made of. My source would not go into detail, but he said the reports were unbelievable. There was talk of putting the scout in for the Medal of Valor, the highest honor for a soldier, but no one knows what happened to the request. It disappeared, much like Maryville.” Aurek said finishing.

Crescent couldn’t say anything, her voice stopped right at the top of her throat. Nightfall had no problem speaking though as her whisper broke the silence. “Oh my gentle one…the things you’ve had to see…”

“I thought it was Redlance, my source said it was their best. I would love to ask him- “Aurek started before Nightfall cut in.

“No, please don’t ask him anything Aurek. He’s more than earned his peace from this and everything else. If he decides to talk it’ll to be the ones he loves.”

The historian only nodded letting the room go silent except for the sound of passer-by’s outside the windows. Then Rainsong spoke up startling Crescent who was too busy thinking about Redlance and what Aurek had said.

“Aurek, do you have a book on Latin translations?”

“Hmm, somewhere, but I could probably help out. I learned it back east and read it rather well.” He said with a proud smile.

Rainsong looked to others getting a signal of approval before pulling out the map and showing Aurek. He moved over by her and looked down at the writing on the side while Rainsong spoke. “I can make out the letters, but it’s all a scrambled mess. Maybe I missed something. It’s been a while since I’ve done this.”

“No Mrs. Rainsong, you were right every time. The reason it’s scrambled is because it is a coded.” Aurek said.

“It is coded?” Leetah asked confused.

“Yes ma’am, it is written in code. Unless you have the cipher key it might take you months or years to break the code depending on the level of the cipher.” Aurek said moving to sit back down.

“Okay, I’m lost.” Crescent admitted.

“So am I.” Leetah added.

“I’m sorry for the confusion ladies. The letters are jumbled in a sequence determined by a cipher that tells us how many letters to the right to move to get the actual letter. If I was to use a key that said always go right three spaces and I wrote an ‘A’ I really mean a ‘D’, understand?” Aurek explained.

“Okay, now it makes sense.” Crescent said with a sigh.

“Well, that’s only a single level cipher key. I could use a two level key that says go left two letters and then back right six. There are even three and four level keys. That’s why without the key it could take a lifetime to break the code.” Aurek said with a shake of his head.

“That’s not what I wanted to hear.” Nightfall said dejected. All she wanted was to help Redlance, give back a little after what he’d done for her, and now it wasn’t going to happen.

“You know ladies,” Aurek said after taking a sip of water, “I might have a friend who can help with this. He’s back east in the schools and he’s to numbers what I am to history and writing. I bet he could crack this code in a week.”

The four looked to each other again and then with a single minded affirmation and a push by Rainsong the map slid across the table to Aurek. Nightfall spoke up as he looked down at the parchment.

“Go ahead and copy down the whole thing. We’ll wait the week and see what your friend can come up.”

Aurek smiled broadly reaching for a pad and pencil.

“Excellent!” He exclaimed.


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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Wed Dec 23, 2015 1:00 pm

Ahh The plot thickens.

Thank You Oh Wise one. ElfWest rules.

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Fri Dec 25, 2015 1:47 pm

P.W. old P.W. Funny way to bring him along.
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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Fri Dec 25, 2015 3:00 pm

Okay, finally had the NeXT piece of Crescent's backstory finished, and re-written a bit. Hope you'll enjoy it as well.



All Good Things Are Three – Part 3

The sad feeling of being far away from home didn’t bother Crescent any longer after she met on the Scarecrow. Not that he was the most intelligent company she had had; in fact she had never met anyone more stupid than him. He was asking silly questions all the time, questions that were obvious to anyone, even a child could figure out that a bird didn’t use his wings as arms. Questions like those annoyed Crescent, but some others made her laugh; like when he asked her about her name.

“Why are you named Crescent?”

“Because my mother is named Moonshade, and I looked so much like her I was named something that compared to her name. Besides, the night I was born it was a crescent on the sky. I guess there’s a parallel.” Crescent hadn't actually been all sure why her name similared to her mother's. Probably the same way her brother's name were relating to their father. No-one had asked her before and made her aware of it.

“But why is your mother named Moonshade then?” he asked the next.

Crescent sighted and chuckled. “I don’t know. Maybe the moon was casting shades in the room she was born or something. She never told me.”

“Oh, then let me guess… your father’s name is something like the sun, am I right.”

“No no; not at all!” Crescent was laughing like never before of those silly questions from her new friend. “My father...” she said between gasping and laughing, “...is named Strongbow.”

“Oh I get it; He’s an Indian, isn’t he?”

This time Crescent really had hard stop laughing. She didn’t know if he was really joking or if he was seriously being curious, but comparing her father with an Indian was enough to make her laugh until he couldn’t talk.

Although, she didn’t like it when he started talking about Two Moons; the worries came back to her and made it impossible to think clear. What if the Wizard was unable to help them, to help her get home again, and if he could how would he do that? Would he even help her at all? And then she started worrying about what would happen if she would get back home. Would they be happy to see her, or would they be angry at her again for being gone? Or... would they care at all?

And the thought of the tracker made it even harder to think clear. Would he worry? And would Nightfall, or would she even notice that she had been gone?

Thoughts like this were bothering her when the road they were walking led to a forest. The dark trees with thick trunks and heavy green leaves made them feel unwelcomed. It created heavy shadows and Crescent was happy she wasn’t walking alone anymore. Even though she was not a kid anymore this forest was far beyond the light and colorful forest nearby the Preservers village. Even the Scarecrow stopped talking when he noticed the dark shadows hanging over them.

"Hey? Where's the sky gone?"

It was relieving to hear Scarecrow suddenly talking again. “Do you think this is a dangerous place, Crispy?”

She had to smile. This was the fifth time he forgot her name. “I don’t know, Scarecrow. But I think we better be aware. It might be some wild creatures here.” She started to think of monsters she had heard of in stories. Unicorns, griffins, dragons, or more scary monsters like one she had heard Bearclaw scare them with; a horrible creature that was a mix between a mountain lion and a snake.

“Hey!” Scarecrow said. “The trees are leaking!” Crescent looked up to see the raindrops that came falling down between the branches. “Do you think it will be another tornado?” Scarecrow said with worry in his voice.

Not rain, Crescent thought. “No, but we better find some shelter, quickly.”

“Is that shelter?” he said, and Crescent looked in the direction his gloved finger was pointing; a tiny little cottage not far away. They started running to it hoping that the one who lived there would be kind enough to let them in. No one answered when they knocked, but the door wasn’t locked so they walked right in. Crescent knew it wasn’t polite, she knew better, but she hoped the owner wouldn’t mind since it suddenly was raining so horribly.

The place wasn’t the best either; only one room with a bed in the corner, a black oven for firing, a tiny table with a couple of stools and a closet with almost no clothes in it. Must be a loner, Crescent thought. The bed wasn’t much either; it was only a wooden bench with madras of hay and a worn out blanket. But Crescent was too tired to think of the inventary. It was getting late and Scarecrow offered her to take the bed.

“I’ don’t need sleep, so I might as well stay guard.” He said and took place on the wall next to the bed.

Crescent was thankful for it, and now she was laying in the bed, having Buddy, the little puppy next to her warming her. But the bed was uncomfortable and it took ages till sleep arrived. So instead she caught herself thinking on home and her family again. She had been away for one day and she already felt like it had been days since she disappeared. Maybe it was because she was feeling so sad before it happened.

“What is it?” Scarecrow said, and when Crescent looked at him, she found him staring at her with worry in his painted eyes.

Crescent let out a sigh. His concern for her was touching, and at sudden she felt a need to talk. “I’m thinking about home, and if my family are missing me or… if they’re not.”

Scarecrow looked on her with a shocking expression. “Why wouldn’t they be missing you, Crescent? They’re your family, they’ll sure miss you.”

“I’m not so sure about that.” she said. He didn’t understand what she meant, so she told Scarecorw about what happened at home, from her disappointed appointment with Nightfall till all the rejections of her family before she had been blown away in the stable. When she was finished, he sat a while in silence before he spoke again.

“Is that why you were crying?” he asked her.

Crescent crawled up and watched him. “Huh? Oh, you saw me, right?”

“I did, and I felt so sorry for you were you sat. I only wished to walk to you and try to help somehow, but I guess you would be scared if I even moved. I never got to thank you for chasing away the crows like you did.”

Crescent smiled. “You’re welcome. I can’t believe you really listened to all I said. I mean, that you cared about how I felt.”

“I know, you probably think that’s weird, or even stupid…” The Scarecrow said sadly, looking down at his tattered body.

“No I don’t. I just don’t like people to see me crying, that’s all. I prefer to... keep the mask in front of people. My father is like that. Well maybe it is a little weird to me, but I still appreciate it. It’s more that what I’ve got anywhere el…“ she interrupted herself in a yawn, suddenly realizing how tired she really was. “You don’t mind that I go back to trying to sleep, do you?”

“Sure, not at all. Good night, Creamy.”

She laughed at her sixth nickname he had given her. “Good night, Scarecrow.” And so Crescent finally managed to close her eyes and let the sleep arrive.

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The next morning she woke up to beautiful sunshine and singing birds. She hadn’t dreamt anything last night and it felt like she had just closed her eyes an opened them again.

She looked up to meet the Scarecrows face. “Morning Sunshine.” Then he got a confused look on his face. “Or wait, I forgot it again. it was Moonlight… Starlight?”

She had to laugh of him again. “Crescent.”

“Oh, that’s right. Forgive me.” he scratched his head. "Moonlight was your mother. Now I start to get it."

Crescent slid out of the bed, moaning in pain. Sleeping on that hard bed hadn’t been good for her back. “Hasn’t anyone returned yet?”

“Who?” Scarecrow said.

“They guy who owns this cottage.” She said rubbing her neck.

Scarecrow shook his head. “No, I saw no one and I was awake the whole night.”

Crescent couldn’t understand why the owner of the cottage hadn’t returned yet. Was it possible that it had been abandoned? It looked like it, but still… “I have a feeling we should get out of here before he comes back. Maybe he’ll never notice that we were here.”

“Sounds like a great idea.” Scarecrow said and tipped his hat.

“Where’s Buddy?” she asked, rubbing her back and her shoulder free from ache.

"Who?" the Scarecrow said, and then suddenly remembered. “Oh, yes! He woke up a while ago and started scraping on the door, so I opened the door and let him out.” Scarecrow said pointing behind him with the thumb.

Crescent quickly stopped rubbing herself. “You let him out on his own?” she said.

“Yeah…” Scarecrow suddenly looked a bit lost. “Shouldn’t I have done that?”

“Well you could have gone out with him, he’s only a puppy; he’s defenseless!” She said and hurried outside to look for her little friend.

Outside they were met by sunshine and fresh air. Crescent hadn’t noticed how bad the air had been inside. The more she thought of the bad conditions it was in there the more curious she became about the person that lived there. He had to be an alone living person, and maybe therefore maybe not being careful of what he did with his home. But right now she was more concerned about Buddy; she couldn’t see him anywhere and was beginning to get scared. “Buddy?” she called, but no answer. “BUDDY!”

There; barking. Soon they could see him coming around the corner meeting them. Crescent let out a sigh of relief and kneeled down to him lifting up the little puppy. “There you are, you little rascal. Where have you been? You’re not allowed to scare me like that ever again, do you hear me?”

“I’m sorry, but early in the morning he started wimping so desperately. I think he tried to tell me something, but I don’t understand anything of what he says.”

“It’s okay, Scarecrow. As long as he’s… Hey where are you going now?” she couldn’t hold him when Buddy suddenly wrestled himself out of her grip and run behind the corner again. Crescent and Scarecrow hurried after him around till the backside of the cottage to see what he was so interested in.

But as soon as they got behind the cottage they found him running back to them, wimping and yelping. He jumped right into Crescents arms, and when she looked up, she discovered the reason of his acting:

Right in front of them there was standing an enormous black wolf.

Crescent didn’t know what to do. She was stunned with fear and could barely breathe. She had met on wolfs before; she and her father once had to scare away a bunch of wolfs that was threatening the horses. He had shown her how to use the rifle he had bought her to scare them off without killing them, and then shoot if they didn’t get the warning. Now she didn’t have her rifle here, or her father, and she didn’t know how to defend herself and her friends.

But then Scarecrow walked right in front of her. “Run, Cettle!”

Crescent didn’t want to run away and leave him all by his own, but with Buddy to protect she had no choice. She had no faith in Scarecrow being able to protect them, but he had no experience in those things and didn’t know what would be coming. He stepped forward and threatened the wolf with his hands setting up a threatening face.

“Al right, you filthy furry beast. You don’t dare to get us do you?”

“Scarecrow, don’t do that! You can’t fight him like that.” she called to him, the wolf was already heading to him and started barking before suddenly jumping up and pushed Scarecrow down on the ground.

Stupid Scarecorw, Crescent thought. He’s got so much to learn. But she didn’t reach to think more. Buddy made a cry when Scarecrow was being knocked down and the wolf looked up and in her direction.

Without warning Buddy started twisting and jumped out of her arms. The little puppy started running away, but the wolf was too quick; it followed him and jumped right over and in front of him trapping him. The wolf snared again and Buddy wimped of pure fright.

Now, that’s it, Crescent thought. Going after her was one thing and attacking Scarecrow too, but to threaten a defenseless little puppy was too much for her. She had to do something to save her little friend. Without thinking, she run to him and lifted him up with one hand and slapping the wolf over the nose as hard as she could with the other.

She had expected him to start biting her, but the wolf’s reaction was highly unexpected; she watched him as he suddenly started howling and wimping and jumped away from her while he started crying and rubbing his nose with his paw. “Why did you do that? That huuurt!”

Crescent almost jumped back in surprise; even though if she had been seeing a lot since she got to this strange place. But an animal from her own world that was talking made this place feel even stranger to her. She hurried to the Scarecrow and helped him up from where he was lying. “Are you alright?”

Scarecrow got up and shook his head and putting his hat back on. “Oh I’m fine. But I didn’t see that coming. Is he gone?” Scarecrow got more confused when he saw the desperately crying wolf. ”What’s with him?”

“I slapped his snout and it… seemed to hurt.” She said lifting Buddy up in her arms again. “He went after Buddy.”

Scarecrow’s face turned angry again. “Well he deserved that after what he did. Threatening us like that!”

Crescent on the other hand wasn’t so angry anymore; the sight of the crying wolf had melted her heart. He didn’t look like any threat at all where he was lying all flat and surrendering; he looked rather poorly and weak. “He talked to me.”

Scarecrow turned to her. ”He did? Strange. Wolves don’t talk back in Two Moons.”

Nor does Scarecrows, she thought, but she said, “But then again we’re not in Two Moons anymore, Scarecrow.”

“Do you think they aren’t as dangerous as wolfs at home?”

“That’s what I’m gonna figure out now.” Crescent said taking a deep breath and starting walking slowly to the wolf. It crocked itself when she got closer and wimped helplessly.

“Please don’t hit me again? I promise, I promise I won’t do it again…” it said before breaking into tears again.

“It’s alright. I’m not going to hurt you...” Crescent said trying to calm him down. ”...as long as you don’t do anything to us!” She saw his eyes now, terrified. What was it about her that scared him so much? “Why did you attack Scarecrow?”

The wolf sniffled loudly and wimped again. “I thought he was going to attack me, he looked so threatening.”

“But I thought you were gonna attack us.” Scarecrow said.

The wolf sniffled again and looked up. “You did?”

“Well yeah. Where you?” Scarecrow asked, arching one of his painted eyebrows while tipping his head slightly to the side.

“I didn’t know if you were dangerous so I thought it was best not to take any risks. I thought you were thieves or anything like that.”

“Do YOU live in this house?” Scarecrow asked pointing at the house.

The wolf got up and shook his head. “No not me, but my friend lives here.”

“Is he out gone or something? It was empty last night and we thought it wouldn’t be any harm if we stayed for the night. In case you don’t know it was raining horribly last night.”

“I know, but he didn’t reach to the house last night when the rain came upon us. He got stuck and he needs help.”

“Is he hurt?” Crescent said.

The wolf shook his head. “No, he’s just stuck.”

Crescent and Scarecrow looked at each other before she spoke again. “What can we do to help?”

“He needs the oilcan inside but I can’t reach it and not even use it.”

“He’s stuck and needs an oilcan?” Scarecrow said and scratched his head. “What does he need that for?

“He needs it to get to move again.”

“I saw an oilcan inside. I’ll get it.” Crescent said, but wasn’t sure if she should let Buddy down again. “You won’t harm Buddy, will you?”

“Buddy?” the wolf said and looked at the little puppy. ”Is that what the little creature is named? I’m sorry I threatened him.”

“It’s okay, as long as you don’t do it again.” Crescent said and let Buddy down to get the oilcan inside the cottage. It took some time before she found it again. When she returned she got another surprise; Buddy was jumping up and down around the wolf and he seemed to enjoy it letting his tongue out watching him. He didn’t seem to bother that the wolf had threatened him earlier at all. “I found it! Where’s your friend?”

“In the forest. I’ll show you where.” The wolf said and started walking in between the trees. They followed him into the dark forest and wasn’t quite sure if they should feel safe with the wolf leading them. What if he was fooling them?

On the other hand he seemed too much cowardly to dare to try something like that. And if he was telling the truth about his friend then they had to go with him.

They followed him a little longer until they found some wood stacks lying all over the ground. There they stopped and looked upon at a statue as tall as the Scarecrow. He was made of tin from top to bottom, like a knight only he looked rather like a sort of doll. His joints were screwed together and on his head was a funnel working like a hat. He was standing in a sort of walking position, and it looked like he was trying to run but couldn’t. He was holding an axe in one hand. The wolf walked over to the statue and sat next beside him. “See? I told you he was stuck.”

“He’s not moving at all, are you sure he’s alive?” Scarecrow said and knocked at the tin chest, and jumped back at what happened next. It wasn’t just the hollow sound that responded, it was another sound, a voice calling. “Woaah, he IS alive! Sorry, pal! Didn't mean that.” The figure made another sound, adn the Scarecrow semed to get himself confused again. "Do you think he heard me?"

“But then we have to help him.” Crescent lifted the oilcan and started looking all over the statue. “He must have rusted at the rain last night and now he’s not able to move. That’s what he needs the oilcan for.” The statue made another sound, like it agreed to her. She laid a hand at his elbow. Don’t worry, mister. We’ll help you.”

And then she started to drip oil on his joints and every other place he seemed to use for movements. She started with the head and the mouth, to see if he would be able to talk. The first time he started to crinch and move a little, but he was still stuck. “Scarecrow, try to move his head a little. I think that will help.” Crescent said. Scarecrow did as he was told and moved the head back and forward. Soon he was able to move it on his own. She put some more oil into his mouth and he did the same, moving it up and down until he was able to talk.

“Oh, thank you. Thank you so much. I thought I would stand here all rusted up forever. That wouldn’t have been a pleasure at all.”

“I’m glad we could help.” Crescent said and smiled.

The statue talked again as it looked all over his stiff body. “Would you mind to oil the rest of me too?”

“Of course I will.” She said and started oiling all of his joints while Scarecrow moved his body so he would be able to move by his own. That took a while, but at long last the living statue was able to move on it’s own.

“Oh dear one, thank you. That felt really good.” The formerly stiff metallic man seemed far less stiff now than a moment ago, and wriggled every part of his body to get them cleared again, the way an ordinary man would stretch his limbs after a long sleep.

“You’re welcome, mister…”

“Tinman. Just call me Tinman.” the metallic man said with a slight tip of his head.

“Well, alright, Tinman. I hope you don’t mind that Scarecrow and I borrowed your house this night. It was raining and the door was open.”

“No, not at all! I would gladly have invited you in if I had known that you would be coming this way, but then I didn’t even reach to the door so how could I?”

“We didn’t do anything, just slept." the Scarecrow said. "Well, they were sleeping while I kept guard.”

The wolf bowed down his head. “I’m sorry, Tinman. I was just so afraid. I didn’t know that they weren’t dangerous and they could have helped you inside so you wouldn’t stay outside all night.” He sounded like he was about to cry again, like he was afraid that Tinman would be angry at him.

Tinman didn’t get angry; instead he kneeled down beside the wolf and stroked him over the back. “It’s alright, Wolf. You couldn’t know, and I didn’t suffer a night outside. I’ve been through worse. And they did help me; now I’m able to move again. I only hope you didn’t catch a cold while you were staying with me all night in the rain.”

Wolf looked upon him and his face turned into something that looked like a smile. “Don’t worry about me. I didn’t bother.”

Tinman turned to Crescent and Scarecrow. “Well, now that I’m moving again, how would you like that I invited you in for real? I rarely get visitors and it would be nice with a talk.”

“That would be wonderful.” Crescent said. “I’m Crescent by the way, and this is Scarecrow. We’re both from a town named Two Moons quite far from here.”

Tinman looked from her to Scarecrow. “It’s nice to meet you. Oh, Scarecrow, your leg seems to be slit.”

"Huh?" Scarecrow looked down to see his pants and screamed when he discovered that in had a long split down the leg. The hay he was stuffed with was falling out. His face was turning into a grimace: “Oh great corn field; AAAH! I’m falling apart! I might lose my head the next. I’ll rip apart like a bag of potatoes!” he shouted out and held his head in a tight grip, causing the grimace to look worse as his head went from round to... half squeezed.

“Calm down, Scarecrow. Let me see.” Crescent said while she tried to look at it. “It must have happened when Wolf knocked you down.”

Wolf started wimping again. “I’m sorry. It’s my entire fault.”

“Oh, it’s not that bad, it just needs to be sewed. Tinman, have you got needle and thread?” she said turning to Tinman, who shook his head.

“Yes, but I have got something else that might do the same.”

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Soon they were all back in the little cottage. Tinman had some hiding in some shuffles that he offered Crescent and Buddy. “I don’t need food myself, and I’m sorry there’s nothing more special. No one ever goes here so I never get’s to invite anyone.

Crescent looked down on the box of beans she had been offered. She didn’t mind simple food at all. She looked at Scarecrow, who didn’t needed food, but looked a little better with Tinmans overalls replacing his old tired pants with the waistcoat covering it. Crescent had come to realize that her mother’s lessons in sewing had made her results. She had managed to sew the slit fine again, but they were so worn out that it would threaten to be ruined again any time, so they were happy when the Tinman gave her the overalls to cover him all u again. “Crescent had bounded them at the feet with the boots and some straps so the hay wouldn’t come out. I don’t need them so he might as well have them.” he had said.

She took a look at Tinman. After the talking Wolf he has now the strangest thing she had seen in this world, but she hadn’t been scared of him like the other weirs thing she had seen. And he showed up to be so kind and caring. Why did someone like him live all by his own out here? “Do you live here on your own, Tinman?” she asked him.

Tinman looked at her. “I did until I met Wolf. He had been driven away from his pack and was wandering around alone. We were kind of lonely both of us and we’re keeping each other’s company.”

Crescent looked down at Wolf, who had sat beside her and shared a piece of meat with Buddy, who seemed so happy he didn’t notice anything else. Wolf didn’t seem to enjoy the meal, but looked down in shame. “It’s because I’m such a coward; I’m afraid of everything. I jump up if I see things as small as a mouse.”

Crescent felt sorry for him and bowed down to path his head. “We can’t all be perfect.” She said to him, and he made a smiling grimace back to her.

Tinman continued talking. “But enough about us; what are you two doing in here?”

“Well” Crescent started, ”Scarecrow and I are going to the Wizard of Oz in the Green Palace.”

“We’ll get our wishes granted by him." Scarecrow said. "I’m going to get a brain so I can become something smarter than just a scarecrow.”

“And what about you… I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name.”

Crescent smiled. “My name is Crescent and I hope the Wizard will get me back to my home.”

Scarecrow interrupted her. “We were brought here by a twisty, turning blowing… what did you call I again?”

“A tornado!” Crescent said rolling her eyes. “The point is that we come from a place far away and the only way to travel here and back is by air or with magic.”

“Strange if you ask me.” Tinman suddenly said shaking his head.

“What do you mean?” Crescent said looking at him. Tinman turned to her, his metal eyebrows raced in confusion.

“Why? Don’t you know? No one are travels back and forward to the Green Palace anymore. I know that because this used to be a straight line to the Palace, and no one is using it anymore; because of where it leads too. No one really knows, but the last few years no one has crossed this road.” Tinman looked up on them. “Well, not until now.”

Scarecrow got a determent look on his face. “We are going to the Green Palace no matter WHAAA.”

Scarecrow had been straighten up in straight position, but leaned back too much so he fell back and landed on the floor. Tinman immediately got up and hurried over to him to help him up.“Are you alright?”

“Yeah, I didn’t hurt. But you kind of see now why I need that brain, and this Wizard guy can grant wishes of any kind.”

Wolf’s eyes grew bigger while he listened. “Can he really do that? Grant all kinds of wishes?”

“I suppose. Maybe it depends on what you wish for. Say, what would you guys have wished for if you met him?” Scarecrow asked.

“I definitely would have asked for courage, but I don’t think I would have dared to face the Wizard.” Wolf said between his paws on the floor.

Crescent looked at Tinman, who had become thoughtful all of a sudden. Does he have something he wishes for too, she wondered. “What about you Tinman, what would you have wished for if you met the Wizard?”

Tinman didn’t answer at first, it looked like he had trouble admitting what he wanted. But after a while he said it. “A heart.”

Crescent felt her chest sink on his behalf. “You don’t have one?”

Tinman let out a sigh and the tin body bowed down in sadness. “Sadly, no.”

Crescent looked with shock and sorry at him. “How is that possible?”

Tinman looked away, like he was in shame. “Well, practically I don’t need it. I don’t need any of what people normally need; food, warmth or clothes, or water…” he touched his elbow and looked at the rusted sides. “I guess you understand why.”

“Then you’re like me!" Scarecrow said happily. "I don’t need any of that either.”

“The problems is that without a heart I’m unable to feel love. All I have is an emptiness inside of me tearing me apart from inside.” He had trouble speaking. “You don’t know what it’s like feeling so empty… so hollow…” he broke up as tears suddenly started rolling down his cheeks as he laid his hear in his hands. Wolf rose up and walked over to his friend stepping at his legs raising one paw up to his eyes wiping the tears away.

“Don’t start crying, Tinman. You know you’ll only start rusting again.”

Tinman wiped his face free from tears and looked at his friend. “Oh, I know. But you know how this is to me. I would do anything to be able to feel love in myself again.”

Crescent couldn’t help but feeling tears welling up in her own eyes. Even if it wasn’t quite the same kind of love that she was missing then it was something about Tinman’s sad story that made her own heart shrimp. She knew the feeling of missing love, that was for sure. She got up from her stool and walked over to Tinman and Wolf and touched them both. “You know, I don’t know much about the Wizard of Oz, but if you guys want to come along with us you’re welcome to. If he really is able to give Scarecrow a brain and to get me all the way back home I’m quite sure he will be able to grant your wishes too.”

They looked at each other and then on her, their eyes shining in hope. Tinman was the first to speak up. “Do you really think he can do so?”

“My home place Two Moons is quite far away, and if he’s able to do that he’s got to be able to do whatever it might be.” She stretched out a hand for him. “So what do you say?”

Tinman took her hand and rose from the stool. A smile grew on his face and he turned to Wolf again. “What do you say, Wolf?”

Wolf crawled down on the floor hiding his face in his paws, wimping poorly. “Oh, all the way to The Green Palace. The Wizard might be all scary and…”

Tinman bowed down to his friend. “We’ll all be together, Wolf. You’ll be safe, I promise. And wouldn’t it be good to finely get that courage you always wanted?”

Wolf thought it over a little, but then he got up again and started waging his tail. “I can’t wait. Finally I will get some courage.”

Scarecrow and Crescent exchanged looks and smiled at each other before Scarecrow spoke up. “Next stop; The Green Palace.”
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Wiseshaman

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PostSubject: ElfWest Day Three - Part Four   Wed Dec 30, 2015 9:10 am

Awesome work there Rainflower with the Crescent backstory! I love the way you weave all the elements together. I look forward to reading more and more...

And now for the next part of Day Three, written by Caris Caeruleus


Day Three - Part Four

Moonshade gasped in shock. "Anshen, I can't accept this!"

The small gemstones twinkled in the light from a lamp that sat on the counter. Diamonds, amethysts, sapphires and emeralds set in twisting gold to form a stemmed flower; a tiny constellation within a jewelry box.

"Why not?" the tailor asked, his dark face flushed with excitement. He had stopped by her store today after returning from Silver Springs, as promised. His business there apparently had included his gift. "It's your birthday, and you deserve something lovely." He paused to study her face. "And no one else will do that for you." He took her hand and placed the box in her fingers.

"Why do you say that?" she asked the elf, sudden irritation causing her to frown.

His gold and brown eyes glittered with anger. "He can't afford anything like that for you! And you deserve that and more! With your beauty, you should be dressed in silks and muslins and satins, and not...cotton!"

"Strongbow doesn't dress me!" Moonshade exclaimed. She felt warmth flood her cheek as both anger and embarrassment filled her. "I choose my own clothing!"

Anshen leaned in towards her. "But you cannot deny that you would choose finer fabrics if you could afford them."

"That's...that's not true!" she insisted, but she wondered, recalling the softness of the gowns she made for clients, what it would be like to wear such a garment.

He placed his hand over hers, seeing the look in her eyes. "Moonshade, why are you here? Back East, or even in the Old Countries, you would make such a name for yourself that you would never want for anything. Not even something simple as a truly lovely dress." Her silence made him brazen, and he reached forward to touch her face. "My family owns one of the oldest and most successful textile houses in the world. I could help you..."

Help me?

Wild fury broke through his spell, and she pushed his hand away. "If you want to help me, why did you sell my debt to Greymung?"

"What?" confusion played across the tailor's face. "That? Because I thought it would help you."

"How?" Her hands curled into fists at her sides. "How would that help me?"

"Because you would see that he is not good for you."

Moonshade stared Anshen in furious silence.

"You sold my debt, you broke my trust, to spite Strongbow?" she asked finally.

He blinked, suddenly aware of her anger. "I...yes."

"Do you know what Greymung did after he bought my credit from you?"

The tailor's dark skin had gone a little gray. "No."

"He refused to sell Strongbow any of the supplies he needed to run the ranch, and to feed my family, my children, until that now sizable debt was paid."

"Moonshade-" Anshen began, but she cut him off.

"Do you know what Greymung said he would do if Strongbow didn't pay within three days?"

"No," he answered, his voice almost as quiet as her husband's loudest "yell."

"He said," Moonshade emphasized her next words, "that he would close my shop and take possession of everything in it."

The elf's eyes grew wide. "Moonshade, I didn't know!"

"But Anshen, you should have known! When you try to hurt Strongbow, you try to hurt me!" She put her hands on her hips. "I don't even understand why you'd want to hurt my husband!" But she did, she saw it in his eyes then, just as he uttered the words.

"Because I love you, Moonshade."

She shook her head slowly. "I don't think you do. You love this idea you have of me." She closed the jewelry box and pushed it back towards him with a sigh. "If you knew me, the real me, you would know that I am happy here. With Strongbow. Life isn't always easy, but I am happy."

"I am sorry, Moonshade, I truly am."

Behind him, a shadow passed over the store's wide glass window, and she saw Dart pause at the door, watching inside. She nodded to him, and the bell jingled as he opened the door. The tailor looked over his shoulder and, seeing the deputy, blanched sharply.

"Just..." Moonshade pressed a hand to her forehead. "Please leave, Anshen."

Taking the box and slipping it into a coat pocket, he gave a shaky bow and left the store. She turned away, wiping tears from her eyes. She had considered the tailor her friend, and his betrayal, especially his reasons for it, felt like a physical wound.

"Are you all right, Ma?" Dart inquired softly.

"Yes," she sniffed quietly, then straightened her dress. "Let me just close shop, and we can go." Their new routine, and only the second day of it. Dart rode home with her, stayed the night at the ranch then accompanied her back to town the next day. (This morning, though, the entire family came to town.)

"All right," he answered. "I'll go saddle up Molly and bring her around front." Molly had been taking the place of her favorite mare, Shyhider, ever since the poor old lady had developed problems with her front left fetlock.

"Thank you, Dart."

*********

The sun sat low over the trees as mother and son traveled homeward, the reddish-orange orb dipping steadily down towards the horizon and to the fall of evening.

About a mile out of town, they heard the rumble of horses speeding towards them. Soon, dust flew up around the pair as two riders galloped up to them, and slowed to match their pace. Both wore wide hats, and had scarves wrapped around the lower part of their faces.

"Afternoon, Deputy," the man riding next to Dart said, a human, and tipped his hat. "Ma'am." His right hand pushed back the long coat he wore then settled at his waist, revealing a mother of pearl handled pistol holstered at his hip.

"Howdy, folks," came the gruff voice of his companion, another human. His eyes wandered over Moonshade's figure. "You're lookin' mighty pretty today, Ma'am."

She blushed and, with a quick but gentle pull on the reins, she inched Molly closer to Alvar, her son's horse.

"Can I help you fellas?" Dart asked. She heard metal whisper against hardened leather, and, turning, saw her son draw his shotgun from its saddle holster. He laid the gun on his lap, with his hand on the stock.

"No, sir," the first man replied. "We just happen to be heading in the same direction is all."

"Then, maybe you should be heading on," Dart stated sternly

"Folks need company, these days," said the second man, winking at Moonshade. "What with the bandits and all."

"I think we'll be fine," her son answered quietly.

Just then, two more riders charged out of the fields, turning to head in their direction. One took up position in front of the four, while the second rode behind them.

"Ma'am. Deputy," the front rider, a troll, twisted around on his horse to face them and tipped his hat. He wore pistols at his hips, as well.

Moonshade's heart fluttered rapidly with fear, and she slipped her hand into her flowered bag. As she wrapped her fingers around the pistol hidden there, the feel of the wooden grip did nothing to assuage her concern.

Beloved, I don't think this little thing will do me an ounce of good.

However, the men took no action other then to ride along side Moonshade and her son. She watched them warily, noting their ease in the saddle. They all kept an uneasy peace as they continued down the road.

Soon, the ranch's gate, with its lettered arch reading "Arrow Crossing", came into view. The elfin woman wasn't sure whether to feel relief or become even more worried, and tears filled her eyes. Just before they reached the gate, though, the man next to Moonshade leaned towards her.

"Give your husband our regards," he said with a laugh, then tipped his hat. "Ma'am." He yanked on his reins, turning the horse away from the farm. With a yell, he kicked his mount and started back down the road the way they came. The other men followed, leaving Dart and Moonshade watching their dust trail as the group galloped away.

"Let's get inside," the young deputy said after a moment, touching her arm. She closed her eyes and nodded but didn't move, suddenly stricken motionless by the terror of the ride. She felt him pull Molly's reins from her hands, and then the horse began to walk forward as Dart led her towards the house.

By the time they stopped moving, Moonshade had regained control of her emotions. Her son hopped off of Alvar and came to her side, holding up a hand to her.

"Are you all right, Ma?" he asked for the second time today.

"Better now that we're home," she smiled weakly at him. Placing her hand in his, she let him guide her down from the saddle. He held her hand a moment longer, obviously feeling how much she trembled.

He studied her face, then announced, "I'll take the horses to the stable. Why don't you go in the house.'

"All right," she nodded. She watched Dart lead Alvar and Molly around the building, then took a deep breath. With every step she took towards her home, she felt stronger, more like herself.

Just as she approached the front step, happy giggling filled the air and three girls tore around the side of the house. Another, older, girl chased them with a playful growl.

"Happy birthday, Mama!" the first child cried, and ran forward to hug Moonshade. Brill and Krill, Wavecatcher and Wavelet's twin neices, wrapped their arms around her as well. Tyleet smiled and, reaching around Chitter, gave her a fond embrace.

Probably to see Shyhider, she thought. Chitter loved her mother's mare deeply. No surprise either; the brown and white appaloosa had a gentle temperament, and returned the little girl's affections.

As she stepped onto the front porch, Moonshade noticed a line of extra boot pairs by the door. Recognizing one set, she felt her spirit rise immediately, knowing that the removal of those boots probably caused a bit of a row. The elfin woman unlaced her own footwear, and, removing them, set them next to her husband's.

The sound of laughter reached her ears as she slipped inside the house. Immediately, she saw Cutter, Skywise, Scouter and the Native raised elf, Redlance, standing in the hallway by the dining room. All four smiled at her when they saw her, then resumed their quite conversation. From the way both Scouter and Redlance glanced into the room beyond, Moonshade guessed that Dewshine and Nightfall helped Crescent set the table.

Another burst of merriment erupted from the den. Heading to that room, she stopped in the doorway, seeing the faces of her dear friends gathered there. Joyleaf and Clearbrook sat on the sofa. Brownberry and Longbranch occupied the two matching chairs, while Wavelet had taken the rocking chair. Her husband, Wavecatcher, leaned against the wall behind her.

"And he even thanked me for it," Bearclaw added from his perch on an arm of the couch, causing more laughter.

With a rustle of cloth, Strongbow (ever the traditionalist) got up from the edge of the stone hearth as he saw his wife enter the room. Treestump, sitting next to him, stood up almost as quickly. Longbranch hopped to his feet, with a smile. After smack on his arm from his wife, Bearclaw clambered to his feet as well. Wavecatcher straightened and gave a small bow.

"Surprised?" Joyleaf asked with a twinkle in her eyes.

"Yes," Moonshade answered, with a happy sigh.

"Your husband can be sneaky when he wants to be," the blond elf woman grinned, waving at Strongbow.

"Your children, too," Clearbrook added, glancing towards the hall.

"I am surprised Chitter kept the secret," Wavelet commented, "with how much she went on about your birthday today."

Strongbow stepped towards her then, and she suddenly became aware of his dress. While he had drawn his auburn hair back into the same old-fashioned tail, gone were the dungarees, cotton shirt, and plain vest that he normally dressed in. Instead, he wore a mid-thigh length black coat with matching trousers, and a deep burgundy vest. The pure white of his stiff-winged collar contrasted with his sun touched skin. And he'd even managed to tie the crimson ribbon at his neck into a loose hanging bow.

She recognized his outfit, having made it herself for him some time ago. She just never expected to see him in it. Her husband liked things simple, and while this suit was not "fancy", it did not fit his ideas of simple.

Strongbow smiled, his eyes glittering with amusement at her surprise. He slipped his hand into his coat pocket and seemed about to say something when Dart stepped into the room.

"Well, we had an interesting ride in from town," the young deputy said.

Her husband's eyes shifted to their son, his smile fading a little.

"Oh?" Treestump prompted, putting on his lawman's face.

"It was nothing," Moonshade cut in, not wanting cause Strongbow more worry. She glared at Dart, silently imploring him to stop.

"Ma, that certainly was not 'nothing'!"

"It's done now, that's all that matters," she countered. Strongbow placed his hand on her shoulder. She turned her head back to him, noting that the taut look of concern he'd worn so much recently had returned to his face.

"What happened?" Bearclaw asked, almost eagerly. The elfin showman always enjoyed good action. Joyleaf tugged on his coat sleeve with a disapproving frown.

"Well," Dart began with fiery anger in his expression, "not more than a mile out of town, two men rode up to us, and paced us. Then, two more joined us at Cooper's Field. They were armed and had scarves covering most of their faces." He looked over at the Marshall. "I didn't recognize the voices of three that spoke, either. Two humans, a troll, and I didn't get a good look at the fourth."

Strongbow gently pulled Moonshade around to fully face him, his dark eyes questioning. Behind her, Dart continued to answer questions from the older males. Moonshade stepped closer to her husband.

"I am fine," she whispered, touching his face. She smiled reassuringly at him. "They justŠrode with us. Though..." she hesitated, then continued, "one did tell me to give you his regards just before they rode off."

His hands tightened on her shoulder, then he released her. Stuffing his hands into his trouser pockets, he stared at the ceiling.

She knew he blamed himself yet again.

"No, beloved," she sighed, placing her hands on his chest, "you should not sell that land."

"What land?" Bearclaw asked, moving over to the couple with interest. Strongbow blew out a sigh but kept his gaze upwards, his entire stance screaming his unwillingness to discuss the subject any further.

The showman looked at Moonshade for an answer.

"Two acres of land that Guttlecraw has been pestering Pa about," Dart answered, disregarding his father's expression. "It's over near Bowman's Patch."

"What does he want it for?" Longbranch inquired thoughtfully.

"We don't know," Dart shrugged, then reddened slightly as Strongbow turned to give a disapproving look.

Bearclaw grinned, his eyes glittering with the promise of excitement. "We should follow those men, then, and find out!" He turned to Treestumpl for confirmation.

"What did they do?" The Marshall crossed his arms over his broad chest, a stern look in his eyes.

"They threatened Moonshade and Dart!" Bearclaw exclaimed. "That's enough for me!"

"Did they?" the lawman countered. "From what I heard, they rode along side the two. And," he continued sternly, "there's no law against that."

"Dammit, Treestump! We can't let these people bully our friends!"

"I won't go after someone who hasn't broken the law!" the Marshall growled back.

Out of the corner of her eye, Moonshade saw her husband's face tighten into a scowl. He put two fingers in his mouth and gave a sharp whistle. The two elves glared at each other a moment longer then turned to face their host.

Strongbow's eyes glittered with anger, then he held out his hand to his wife.

"It's Moonshade's birthday," was all he said, then crossed his arms over his chest. The ladies smiled, and, crossing the room and gave Moonshade hugs one at a time.

"Happy Birthday, dear," Clearbrook whispered in her ear.

Treestump nodded at Strongbow and did the same, followed by Longbranch and Wavecatcher.

Bearclaw turned his fiery gaze at his host and the two locked stares; not an unfamiliar sight for the group. The two elves carried deep love and respect for each other. However, events would often conspire to put them on opposing sides of an opinion, and they would butt heads as harshly as a pair of male rams.

Moonshade hated those moments, always fearing each argument would end in blows. Which, sometimes they did. But, the pair would always settle their differences, usually by one acquiescing to the other.

She bit her lip, watching the two square off.

"You kept this to yourself, as usual," the bearded elf accused, stepping towards his friend. "Damn you and your 'I can do it all myself' attitude!" He jabbed a finger in the rancher's face. "What are friends for if they can't help you?"

Strongbow simply raised his eyebrows, and nodded pointedly at Moonshade, clearly refusing to argue.

"Bearclaw," Joyleaf said quietly, placing a hand on her husband's arm

"Don't 'Bearclaw' me!" he pulled his arm away. "Strongbow, you are such a stubborn ass!"

"And you are just as bad!" Joyleaf cut in again. "Don't you think it's possible that Strongbow might want Moonshade's birthday to be pleasant?"

Bearclaw whirled to face her. "Dammit, woman! Armed men threatened Moonshade today and all we're supposed to care about is making her happy?"

"Yes," Joyleaf met her husband's forceful glare with patience. "That's exactly what we're supposed to do. You wouldn't want him telling you how to handle your affairs, now, would you?"

He simmered for a moment, thinking over her words. Finally he let out a great sigh, and ran his hand through his hair. "No, I wouldn't like that at all." Then he added, "But this different."

"How?" she crossed her arms over her chest.

"This situation is dangerous!" he exclaimed, throwing his arms in the air in exasperation.

"Bearclaw," Joyleaf placed her hand on the elf's chest, "Don't you see? They don't need us to protect them. They need us to help them take their minds off of all that."

"Taking their minds off their troubles doesn't make them go away," he countered, but his voice was less angry now.

"But it makes things easier to bear," Moonshade said, stepping towards the two. "Please, let's not talk about it anymore."

Bearclaw looked down at her, and she saw all of his anger evaporate. He took a deep breath, then sighed, "All right. It's your birthday after all." He pulled her into his arms for a tight hug. Then, turning, he offered his hand to Strongbow, who grasped it immediately.

After that, conversation turned to more pleasant (and safe) topics.

"How'd you like the Henry?" Cutter asked when everyone had settled into their meal.

Strongbow shook his head. "Didn't have time," he answered with an expression of utter dejection on his face.

Laughing, Bearclaw clapped him on the shoulder, and winked at Moonshade. "I think that rifle's going to give you some strong competition!" She rolled her eyes.

Strongbow straightened and, with wide eyes, glanced from his friend to his wife. He waved his hand vigorously in denial, sending everyone into laughter. Moonshade patted his hand.

"Well, give it a try tomorrow and I'll pick it up in the afternoon," Cutter said, with a grin. Strongbow gave a nod of thanks, and the talk turned other things.

Bearclaw and Joyleaf told some humorous stories about their recent travels with Nightfall chiming in to add details. Longranch also offered an amusing tale about a legal case he had in Silver Springs.

From time to time, Moonshade noted Treestump and Clearbrook glancing shyly at each other. She gave her husband a look, wondering if he noticed their actions, as well. He met her gaze, his expression a little sad.

They are both alone.

She nodded, feeling a pang of loss for Rillfisher and One Eye, the pairs' deceased spouses. She felt Strongbow's fingers over her own.

"They would approve," he whispered. Moonshade realized he also thought of their lost friends, and squeezed his hand in agreement.

**********

Late into the evening, the guests left and the house fell into gentle quiet. Chitter had been tucked into bed, and both Dart and Crescent had retired for the night.

Strongbow drew Moonshade into the den to stand before the quietly crackling fireplace.

"What is it?" she asked, noting a slight smile playing around his lips. He slipped a hand into his coat pocket, pulling out a small box. Her throat contracted painfully as she recalled Anshen's similar action earlier in the day. Her husband offered the box to her, and she knew he wondered at her hesitation.

"You didn't have to..." her voice trailed off, and tears filled her eyes. Strongbow gently took her hand, placing the item onto her palm. She looked up into his expectant face, noting how his eyes searched her face. She saw the hurt there, and the question.

Why aren't you opening it?

Because I am afraid to. I don't want Anshen to be right.

He let out a sigh as if he heard her thought. Then, taking the box from her, he removed the lid himself, and placed the object within against her skin. The cool metal drew her attention down and she let out a gasp.

A cameo brooch lay in her hand, the gold setting glistening in the firelight. The head and shoulders of a girl, with her curling hair flowing out behind her, had been delicately carved in ivory. She lay against a background of rosy coral, forever locked in her upwards gaze towards the sky.

"A moon maiden," Moonshade gasped, then touched the mythical spirit with her finger. Humans once revered such creatures, believing that the touch of their glowing light would bring them luck. Their likenesses could still be found in human craftsmanship from time to time, as this piece of jewelry showed. "It's lovely!"

She reminded me of you," Strongbow whispered, reaching over to touch his wife's hair.

Moonshade raised her eyes to meet his.

"How..." her words caught in her throat.

"Saw an artist in Silver Springs in June making one like it, but in malachite," he answered. Her husband swallowed and took a breath. He wanted to speak without losing his voice. "I asked if he'd do one like yours. And we traded."

"He's the man you took horses to in July," she realized. "I wondered why you wouldn't tell me how much he paid. You are sneaky!"

Strongbow ducked his head, blushing, then nodded, "I got it yesterday." At Greymung's store, which also served as a dropping point for shipments from the other town. She brushed aside thoughts of what else happened at that store yesterday.

He reached over and gently turned the brooch onto its face. Gold leafing had been painted into words engraved there.

I will always cherish the light of your love - S.

"Oh, Strongbow!" Tears rolled down her cheeks. Anshen had been wrong. His gift may have been simple compared to the tailor's, but it was every bit as beautiful, perhaps even more so because of its delicate artistry.

He brushed away her hears with a hand. "Happy Birthday, Moonshade."

And it was.

___________________________________________________
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Wiseshaman

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PostSubject: ElfWest Day Three - Part Five   Fri Jan 01, 2016 11:00 pm

And onto the next part of Day Three written by me, Wiseshaman

Day Three - Part Five

Oki matsówaakii (Hello pretty one)

The words snapped her out of the small nap she had slipped into. The smell of burning Sage, which hinted just at the edge her nose, waking Savah with a rush. She looked around her room at her boarding house for the mysterious one who had whispered the words lovingly in her pointed ear. The room was empty though with the exception of herself. The words, they were not a sending, not the power she had been born with. There was no touch of minds, the feeling as though little fingers were dancing across her mind causing emotions to spring up.

Not the same at all.

This was something different altogether.

Someone had come through her dream and visited her. She had been dreaming of walking in a field of flowers with the smell of spring all around her when someone had slipped up from behind and spoke gently, sweetly, in her ear waking her instantly. Savah sat up from her bed catching her breath feeling sweat run down her neck into her shirt.

This was something so different.


The ride out to Ben’s place took just longer than an hour. Everything was fine with the three as they laughed and joked while riding, that was until the horses crested a small rise on the prairie and they saw the small mud and log shack that was once Ben’s home sitting off in the distance. Even from here Redlance felt an ominous shadow start to seep into his being and when he looked over to Cutter and Skywise he saw the same thing happening to them. He licked his lips and forced the feeling away only to have it come back as persistent as Nightfall when she wanted an answer to a question.

“We’re still going there, right?” Skywise asked with his eyes locked on the shack.

“Kind of have to at this point…” Redlance answered staring at the shack too.

“Yep,” was all Cutter said as he gave Nightrunner a small kick.

They rode in a line toward the house, the laughing and joking gone, replaced by the deepening ominous feeling. It grew with each trot the horses made, threatening to crush them the closer the trio got till finally the ride was over. Cutter pulled an uneasy Nightrunner up to the front door with Skywise and Redlance also fighting Starjumper and Firecoat. He was about to tell them what he wanted to do when the front door swung open slowly with a loud creak. The three froze at the sight and sound. There was no wind, not enough to force that door open on rusty hinges.

“You know…I’d take P.W.’s over this place right now.” Skywise remarked with a whisper.

“Yep,” Redlance agreed looking around.

“Let’s hop down and do a search inside and then out.” Cutter ordered getting off Nightrunner with a drop.

The two followed and stood by their mounts not real sure about going in. Cutter took a look at the sun, like it might be his last, and then walked through the front door. Skywise gritted his teeth and followed his friend and brother into the house even though he sure as heck didn’t want to. Redlance was right behind ducking through the low doorway sticking close. Once inside the tracker’s eyes adjusted to the low light as there were no windows, only small slats that served to let enough light in to keep you from hitting the walls. Redlance stopped by the captain surveying the room and the piles of junk lying about. In one corner was a black iron stove, or its rusted remains now, and so was the iron bed frame in the other corner. Cutter kicked at what was left of a rotting table and chair by a ram shackled hearth that was part of a crumbling fireplace.

“You might want to move…” Redlance mumbled to Skywise pointing at the earth floor.

The captain looked down to see one boot standing in dirt that was darker than the rest, an odd shade of dark brown. He stepped away quickly feeling a cold hand grab his heart as he spoke. “Aw hell…”

“Let’s do this quick, but thorough. I want out of here too but we came to find something so let’s do just that.” Cutter remarked turning to the stove.

“Yep,” Redlance offered again going for the pile that was the bed.

Skywise didn’t say anything, just turned and moved to the fireplace picking up what was a table leg to push the ashes around. He really wasn’t trying that hard wanting to just be gone form this place when something caught his eye. It looked like the edge of a piece of paper. Skywise slowly reached over and took hold of the edge with his finger and thumb extricating it carefully. He blew off the black layer of ash and saw it was a picture of four people in a family like pose, one human man, one elf female, one younger elf female, and one young elf boy. All had smiles and arms around each other. Someone had tried to burn the picture and only singed the edges of it.

“Hey boys,” Skywise said holding out the picture careful not to bend it, “Is this old Ben Thompson?”

Cutter and Redlance both turned and walked over to the captain to get a better look at what he was holding. When they saw the picture both looked at the other with a nod before Cutter whispered.

“Yeah, that’s Ben, but who are the elves?”

“They’re Wavedancers, see the hands?” Redlance pointed out.

“Yeah, do you think she’s the one? The female we’ve been looking for?” Skywise asked.

“I don’t know, we’d have to show the picture around town, and then everyone would know what’s going on.” Cutter explained.

Skywise flipped the picture over to the back where the word Menno and 6/23/19 was written in a scrawling hand. “And look at this, what is this?”

“Menno’s a small town in Djunsland, sits on Lake Cascade.” Redlance answered.

“Yeah, I remember it, that’s a damn big lake. The Army had fits coming up with a plan to push the war to Crest Point because of its size. They couldn’t decide on how to get around it. It could take a battalion four days to march around the lake or two days to boat across it. There were what, ten little towns around it?” Cutter remarked.

“Something like that, maybe more” Redlance whispered.

“What’s the number, a date?” Cutter asked.

“Nah, it’s a combination.” Skywise answered.

“To what?” Cutter asked.

The three stood in silence unable to answer the question, unable to grasp how deep this thing with the rifle was getting. Every step was another into a dark room that you swore just kept getting darker and darker. Cutter took the picture from Skywise and gently put it in his shirt pocket for safe keeping as Skywise asked another question.

“You boys don’t think she’s the one...who killed Ben…do you?”

“Nope,” Redlance answered quickly.

“Yeah, they looked too friendly in that picture and old Ben had her by more than a foot and at least a hundred pounds. If she tried to stab him he’d just slap her and take the knife away.” Cutter remarked.

“Okay, another stranger added to the mix.” Skywise said with a hollow laugh.

“Yeah, let’s go check outside then head back.” Cutter said heading for the door.

“I’m right behind you.” Skywise stated stepping out the door right behind Cutter. Redlance followed closely wanting to be out of the house and its feel as well. Once out they stood by the door as Cutter spoke while walking out into the open field.

“All right boys, go to work and see if we can find us something.”

Skywise and Redlance followed suit walking and searching the tall grass. It wasn’t long before the trained eyes of the tracker spotted new small grass growth among the old, a sure sign of a track. He bent low and studied the ground before moving off, away from the shack toward the west. Cutter and Skywise changed directions heading toward Redlance who was focusing on following the barely visible trail. They fell in behind him watching with interest as he walked along subtly shifting his direction every few steps following along a path only Redlance could see. Then the tracker suddenly stopped, almost drawing back, and Cutter stepped up looking over his shoulder. Skywise rushed up and then jumped back at what the tracker had found.

“Aw hell…”

There, with grass growing through every hole possible were the white bones of a skeleton. Its skull laid on its side as if asleep with its chest up and one arm stretching out along the ground to the horizon. Ragged pieces of cloth, once the clothes of the person, lay trapped in the dirt that had gathered about the pile of bones. Redlance knelt down pulling out his knife followed by Cutter to examine the remains closer while Skywise bent over at the waist with his hands on his knees. The tracker brushed aside the dirt and pieces of cloth with the tip of his knife looking the skeleton up and then down.

“Who is this?” The captain asked.

“It’s a human, Ben’s size or just an inch or two smaller. The leg is broken where he was shot with a pistol and that hole in the chest was from a shotgun. The blast hit his lung. Poor man laid here gasping for breath until he died. I figure he’s been here just about six months, give or take a day.” Redlance said

“He died with Ben, huh? Guess that means- “Skywise began before Cutter cut him off.

“I think this is Ben’s partner, or one of them.”

“Okay, I follow now. Ben was into something with this fella. He comes home one night to find him in his house and the two fight. Only how did Ben shoot him out here after being stabbed to death in the house?” Skywise asked.

“My guess is someone shot him right here after chasing him down. He probably found Ben’s body in the house, long before Stump rode up, along with whoever the killer is and made a run for it. He gets shot in the leg and crawls this far before the killer stands over him and finishes it.” Redlance said looking closer at the body.

“That sounds about right, which means Ben must have known something was up and gave the Henry to our unknown lady.” Cutter stated.

“You think?” Redlance asked leaning closer to the body.

“Makes perfect sense, so the Henry is what got Ben killed?” Skywise said with a smile.

“Maybe…maybe Ben just didn’t want to the killer to have the Rifle. He gives it up to the lady in town just before riding up here.” Redlance said leaning all the way across the skeleton.

“Damn, that could be. How’d you get so smart Red?” Skywise asked.

“From trying to sneak something by Nightfall,” Redlance said with a grin stepping over the skeleton still examining it closely.

“What is it? You see something else?” Cutter asked sounding curious after he stopped laughing.

Redlance stood up and looked the way the arm was laying. “It’s a little off, like he was reaching for something this way when he died.”

“Yeah, it does.” Skywise said walking around the skeleton instead of stepping over the dead. You know bad luck and all.

The three broke up and started to walk out from the body slowly and after a few steps Cutter saw a glint off something metallic. He picked up his step while calling out.

“I got something over here.”

Cutter walked up carefully to the small box that was half buried with grass growing all around it. He knelt as the others ran up and carefully pulled the small metal cube free from the dirt causing the top to open. He recognized it immediately; his mother had one just like it for all the papers for the show, the one with a lock his father could pick in an instant. Cutter titled the box up pouring dirt, and a few upset insects, out on the ground along with the ragged remains of a few money wraps. Skywise reached down and grabbed one deftly then looked at it closely.

“From the bank of Silver Springs, twenty dollar bills.” He mumbled.

“Wait, the picture, can I see it again?” Redlance asked.

Cutter pulled it out and handed it over to Redlance. He looked at it carefully noting the dress the lady and girl wore and the pants and shirt the boy did. He saw the lady’s hand on Ben’s arm, the girl holding Ben’s other hand, and the boy holding…

“We have to get back to Spine’s!” Redlance suddenly said jumping up and running for the horses.

“Why?” Cutter yelled trying to catch up.

“The family…they’re Maquis! Spine’s a member of the Maquis!” Redlance explained jumping on Firecoat’s back.

“How do you know that?” Cutter asked shocked.

“I saw him hide the coin in the register.” Redlance called out while spurring Firecoat on.

“Old Ben was a part of the resistance?” Skywise asked getting on Starjumper as Nightrunner raced off with Cutter.

“I don’t know…but I bet Spine does.” Redlance yelled back.

The trio started back feeling lost but glad to be away from the house. Redlance felt bad medicine from the land and the house he thought as he put the picture away in his shirt urging Firecoat on.


The girls were busy preparing the food for Moonshade’s birthday party that Strongbow had planned. Even Leetah had stayed to help, though she would admit she wasn’t much help at all. Tyleet stood next to her at one of the counters on a small stool while the pair broke beans and put them in a pot.

“Am I doing good?” She leaned over and whispered to Tyleet.

“You’re doing great Rose…a lot better than cutting the carrots.” She said back.

Leetah smiled and held up her hand noting the bandaged finger. “I know, at least I will keep my fingers.”

The two laughed while Nightfall and Brownberry worked on icing Moonshade’s cake, red velvet with white icing. Longbranch walked into the kitchen and quickly drug a finger in the icing bowl before his wife could slap him with her free hand.

“Now stop that, you old codger!” Brownberry laughed.

“Umm, the best!” Longbranch hummed making the woman laugh.

“Did Crescent get back okay?” Nightfall asked.

“Yep, I dropped her off at the porch like she asked. Are we going to be ready to go in time?” He asked back.

“You know we will. I wouldn’t leave Strongbow or Moonshade hanging in the wind!” Brownberry answered with a smile.

“All right then,” Longbranch winked heading up to the rooms above the restaurant.

Brownberry smiled looking over to see Leetah and her granddaughter laughing. She was amazed by something and leaned next to Nightfall whispering. “Is it me or is Rose…lacking in a few things a woman should know?”

“Oh, she’s just been sheltered momma. I like that she’s trying to branch out and learn a few things.” Nightfall whispered back.

“I like it too,” Brownberry said putting cut strawberries on top of the cake, “and I don’t mind teaching her. Its’ just that must have been a big shelter she was kept in.”

Nightfall giggled while putting the ribbon of frosting around the bottom of the cake.


The sun felt nice and warm on Rayek’s back as he rode out over the vast sea of grass. He wasn’t sure if he was on the back forty, as Oldbar called it, but it didn’t matter. Just being outside was fine enough for him. He could think about Winnowill and her ‘offer’ about his powers. Rayek wasn’t sure what powers she was talking about but he knew he didn’t have any she was looking for. He didn’t have these ‘Ancient’ powers she said he possessed.

And then he wasn’t sure why she demanded he move into the house. It was all off the usual path for him, but then he was just curious enough to ride this out. The only way out was through he had learned. It was like this cattle rustling problem. Why did the rustlers only take twenty head twice a month? Why did Oldbar and Winnowill act like it was just another monthly operation, like checking the cattle for hoof disease? It was all just off…

Up ahead was an old shack, or what Oldbar called the halfway point. The north forty would start just after that so he pushed all the thoughts out of his head about Winnowill and slipped back to being the hunter. His eyes started to look around cautiously scanning the horizon for anyone riding up on him. And it was this habit that saved him from dropping right into the middle of a bad deal…


The boys rode up to Spine’s in a line. Redlance hopped off Firecoat and tethered the horse to the hitching post with a flip of his wrist. Cutter and Skywise did the same and then all three entered the barber shop. Spine was sitting in his chair looking at the wall with a distant day dreaming kind of expression, but snapped out of it with a smile when he saw them.

“Back for a cut boys?”

“No Spine, we’re here to ask a few more questions.” Cutter replied.

“Oh,” Spine said straightening uneasily in the chair, “I don’t know what good I’m doing you fella’s. I told you I don’t know anything about Wavedancer’s in the town before I got here.”

“We need to know about another woman…and her two children.” Cutter said calmly.

“Why do you think I know them?” Spine said with a hollow laugh.

“I saw the coin on the counter, the one you pushed into the drawer. It was a peace coin; the proof you were with Maquis.” Redlance offered walking forward slowly but with resolve. He held out the picture of Ben and the elves.

Spine took the picture shaking his head. “You boys got it all wrong. I wasn’t in the Maquis…never was…”

“The boy has the same coin Spine. All we want is to contact her, pass a question to her about old Ben.” Cutter calmly offered again.

“Listen pal,” Spine said defiantly all of the sudden standing up from the chair, “if she was Maquis she’s already in enough danger. You try and contact her and the secret police will make her disappear.”

Skywise started forward to confront the barber but Cutter stopped him short. He nodded toward the tracker signaling to let Redlance handle it.

“I know what kind of danger she is in Spine. I did a lot of work in the war with the Maquis. It was how I recognized the coin. How I knew you were one. If you want, I’ll even do the secret hand shake.” Redlance said so calm it was like a cool drink of water and instantly eased the tension in the shop.

The barber shook his head and looked at the tracker. “Then you know what the Djuin does to them, to us, if he finds a Maquis.”

“Yes, one day your neighbor doesn’t come home to his family for dinner. Your wife or fiancée just leaves out the front door never to return. I’ve heard the stories about families getting the cremated remains of their missing loved ones left on the front door step in a plain brown box with the Djun’s seal. I’ve seen whole towns burned to the ground. Yes, Spine, I know what I am asking.” Redlance said locking eyes with Spine.

“Then why are you asking her to risk her life?” Spine asked with worry.

“To find out who killed Ben Thompson…to save her and her children if this person comes looking for her.” Redlance answered with a determined look.

The barber’s eyes squinted for a second measuring Redlance, then Cutter after he turned to the Major and finally to Skywise. None of the three flinched or turned from Spine’s stare so he turned back to Redlance, a look of hope in his eyes now.

“You mean that, you’d help her get across the border if she wanted…need too.” The barber asked.

“Yes, we promise.” Cutter answered for all three.

“Then let me take care of the contact. I know of a way to do it using the numbers on the back of the photograph and no one will be alerted.” Spine stated.

“I knew it was a combination!” Skywise mumbled happily.

“We only want one more thing Spine. We found something at Ben’s that point’s to Silver Springs. Is there someone from the Maquis hidden there? Someone Ben would have been involved with?”

Spine picked up a piece of paper and a pencil and wrote down a name quickly while speaking. “Do you still have your coin?”

“Yep,” Redlance said with a nod.

“There’s a lady in Silver Springs, human, goes by the name of Annie at the Miner’s Mercantile. She sells supplies to the locals. Do the usual greeting and she’ll talk, mess it up and she’s won’t utter a letter, understand?” Spine asked handing over the paper as Redlance nodded yes.

“How long do you think it will take for her to contact us?” Cutter asked.

“I don’t know, as long as it takes. She might be able to get a message out tomorrow or six months from now. It all depends on how closely the guard is in Menno.” Spine said with a smile. The old jovial barber was coming back.

“Okay, we’ll wait on you Spine. As soon as you hear something come and get one of us. We’ll be around town for a while.” Cutter said stepping up and shaking the barber’s hand.

Skywise followed and then Redlance before the trio started moving toward the door in a line. But just as Cutter reached for the handle Spine called out to them.

“Thank you boys, for helping them.”

“Yeah, as locals go we’re not too bad.” The tracker said with a smile.

“You’re not a bad elf either…if you let me cut that hair.” Spine said with a laugh.

The four laughed as the boys went out the door. Spine turned back to his counter, pulled out the peace coin, and put it back in place. He felt so happy all of the sudden he started to whistle a happy tune.

Cutter and the boys had just enough time to wash up and help with getting the food to Strongbow’s for the party. Even during the meal, they kept the conversation light, but all three just really wanted to talk about the picture from old Ben’s.


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Wiseshaman

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PostSubject: ElfWest Day Three - Part Six   Wed Jan 06, 2016 1:02 am

And onto the last part of Day Three written by me, Wiseshaman


Day Three - Part Six

I did this little piece to end out the day for the Henry, just before Moonshade's Party...

He threw the reins into his mouth letting his horse run with her head as he drew both Colts from the holsters on his hips. Leila took to his command and stretched out her legs going to a full gallop in a matter a seconds as his thumbs dropped the hammers on both guns with practiced ease. By the time the first human saw him coming it was too late and Rayek put a bullet right through his leg with a loud pop. The other three spun with their guns drawn, two the left and one to the right. He raised the Colt in his right hand and fired a quick round into the arm of the man on the right before swinging that hand over his body and firing two quick rounds into the first man on the left who was trying to fight his way into the shack through the door. The second man on the left took off running as Leila flew past so Rayek took his arm and brought it over the reins without talking the leather straps out of his mouth pulling back. The Arabian responded to the hard pull by sitting down and coming to a dead stop before spinning about to make another pass by the shack.

Rayek looked up to see the elf female that had run into the shack just a minute before seeking safety from the four bandits. She had long brown hair with braids and wore dungarees with a cotton shirt and a bandana tied around her neck. He gave a Leila a quick kick and the Arabian responded once more bolting for the elf. The fourth bandit appeared again also, chasing the female, and he might have caught her if Rayek hadn’t intervened with a quick hit to the man’s head with the butt of his pistol. The skull made a nice pop as he rode by before the body dropped to the dirt rolling over in a heap. The bounty hunter kept his horse at a gallop as he bore down on the female while holstering his guns. He put the reins back in his left hand then leaned over and grabbed the female by the waist of her riding pants picking her up and putting her across his lap.

As he pulled Leila to a stop the lady was yelling and kicking which more than irritated Rayek after riding to the rescue. “Will you please stop squirming senora? I have taken care of your pursuers!”

“Yeah you got those four, but what about those eight?” She screamed pointing behind him.

The bounty hunter spun in the saddle to look back and spotted eight human men coming at him in a gallop. He saw their guns, saw the puffs of smoke, and felt the air crackle as a round or two flew by. Rayek spun back giving Leila a kick and a yell. “Go Niña, it is time to fly like the wind!”

The Arabian responded for a third time going right into a full out gallop carrying the female and Rayek easily. The black beauty moved as the wind over the prairie at her rider’s command soon leaving her pursuers far behind.


Black Feather waded knee deep in a pocket where the stream that flowed through the valley went by his teepee. He reached down into the water and watched as the fish swam up to rub against his fingers and hand. He smiled and even laughed, but not at the feeling of the fish nibbling on his fingers, it was from the knowledge of what the fish meant. The fish totem was powerful, its medicine strong in this world, and it meant some mystery would soon be revealed, a new knowledge given to those who it granted as worthy.

The two new walkers in the dream world, maybe they would be the ones who were granted this knowledge. The brown one, she was eager but guarded while the black haired one was eager but reckless. He doubted this sign was for them. The red hair, maybe he would learn something?

Black Feather continued to enjoy the fish and think. Maybe this was someone who he hadn’t met yet. Maybe the sign was for someone who didn’t even know they were going to be visited by the fish and its medicine.


Leila danced behind him, still a little agitated from the ride and fleeing the gang. She did a marvelous job though and Rayek stroked her neck soothing her. The female elf saw it and laughed hard. “You and that horse need to get a room?”

“I would not speak so cheaply of someone who just saved your life while risking hers.” Rayek responded with a frown.

“Well excuse the hell out of me, but I didn’t need your help mister.” The female spat.

“So your plan was to let those men trap you in that shack and kill you.” Rayek shot back while walking over to the elf.

“Aw mister ain’t no man ever tried to kill me. They may try to forcibly have their way with me, but ain’t no man ever tried to kill me!” She responded with a sly smile.

Rayek looked at her with a confused expression before asking a question. “Then what did those men want with you?”

The female reached into the front waist band of her riding pants and pulled out a wad of bills with another sly smile. “They owed me some money and I was just collecting.”

Riding into danger…getting shot at while riding away from danger…all for a few dollars Rayek thought. It took all his strength not to pull one of his Colts and shoot the woman dead between the eyes.

“So you’re one of those Spanish fellas’s from that ranch south of here?” The woman asked.

“No, I have never set foot on that ranch.” Rayek responded quickly with agitation.

The female raised her hands up as if to surrender before speaking. “It’s okay cowboy, I just thought from the way you talk you might be from there is all.”

“And one could certainly mistake you for a lady at first.” Rayek shot back.

“All right, I get the point cowboy. So what are you doing all the way out here?”

“I work for Voll and his cattle ranch. I came out here looking for some rustlers who have been feeding off the herd every month. I could not be this lucky, but those desperados chasing you, are they the same rustlers, eh?” Rayek asked with a raised eyebrow.

The female smiled and looked skyward before answering. “Yep, that’s what Dave and his boys do, only not to Voll or that Spanish fella. No one’s rustling cattle from the ranches.”

Rayek’s eyes squinted hard at the new information. “Excuse me? Did you say that no one is stealing cattle from Senor Voll or the ‘Spanish’ fella?”

“Yep,” The female said with a condescending smile as she sauntered over to him, “Dave meets with Oldbar back in that shack at the end of the month, every month. I asked the old coot once what it was all about and he said it was just his insurance plan, whatever the hell that meant.”

“Extortion? Blackmail?” Rayek whispered as the news bounced around in his head.

The female slid right up next to him, almost touching, and whispered low and sultry causing his eyes to lock with hers. “Charlie, that old boy you shot in the leg, one night after helping me with an ‘itch’ told me it all had to do with five white stallions that Dave helped take one night.”

The look on Rayek’s face changed instantly. His mouth opened and as his brow furrowed into three separate shelves of skin. The white of his teeth showed as he hissed in anger. “Are you sure this is about five white stallions?”

“Yep, you seem awfully angry about that. Maybe you lied to me? Maybe you have been on that Spanish ranch?” She said almost going nose to nose with Rayek.

“No, I have never been on that ranch, ever!” Rayek hissed.

What happened next took him by surprise and that was saying a lot for the ex-bounty hunter. Rayek was expecting her to counter with some multi-syllabic sentence that made no sense, but instead she shot forward and kissed him hard and long. When they broke all his anger was gone, replaced by indignant shock.

“I’ll see you around cowboy. If you ever have an ‘itch’ that needs to be scratched give me a holler. The name’s Khavi.” She winked before walking off.

Rayek didn’t counter or end the meeting with a fancy insult. Nope, he only watched in shock as she walked off over a small rise into the setting sun. Then he started to spit and wipe his mouth. He was thinking about the new twist he just discovered…and just what was that maniac drinking? It had to be the worst taste that had ever been forced into his mouth.

And just thinking about that scared him.

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Rainflower

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Mon Mar 21, 2016 4:05 pm

Hey, you guys remember the Seakers? Well, recalling this? Figured out it was about time I got some old pics dusted and back up.
Rain, with his old wolfrider hat and fridges, and some other pants for show. And Willowgreen With something inspired from her original leathers in EQ. Love this really.


At the same time, I have managed to finish the other ladies as well. Winnowill, in something reminding of the outfit that the Pini's had originally thought out for her, which were to look like Lord Voll's drapes, and of tLady Wenovel's drapes. Sava's a bit of a mix of old and New, but I thought the Crown would be too much here, so I thought of just the Hood, giving away her mysterious nature. And Timmain, well, inpsired from her original outfit, hehe, the only one she's ever worn escept from Trollhammer's fur.


Hey, long time since this lady popped up. Wonder what's become of her.
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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Fri Mar 25, 2016 6:33 am

Been lurking on FB, and had no idea this site existed, how 'bout that? Razz
*HUG*
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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Fri Mar 25, 2016 10:38 am

WHITEGHOST!!! *tackle huggles* You're back!!! Missed U! Welcome back Hug
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Embala

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Fri Mar 25, 2016 10:43 am

Welcome back to the pack, WhiteGhost! sunny

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Sat Mar 26, 2016 8:55 pm

Welcome back, ghosty! NOW WRITE MORE NAUGHTY ELF STORIES. Hug

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