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Wiseshaman

Wiseshaman


Posts : 657
Join date : 2012-06-23

Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 Empty
PostSubject: ElfWest Day Six - Part Seven   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptyThu Apr 05, 2018 10:22 pm

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


Day Six - Part Seven

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

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

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

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

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

Not until last night.

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

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

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

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

"Ma'am?"

"Yes Thomas," She answered coldly.

"You're horse is saddled and outside."

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

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

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

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

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

Timmain,

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

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

And he was coming to Two-Moons,

Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 Vignette-orig

"Who is it?"

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

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

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

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

"Morning."

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

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

"Annie, is that you?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 Vignette-orig

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

"Itchback, you no good toad, whe-"

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

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

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

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

"Where's my nephew?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"No sir," Guttlekraw stammered.

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

"Yes sir,"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"No, no more letters."

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

"Why do you need that done?"

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

"Rainsong, why does she matter?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 Vignette-orig

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

"And they kept asking about Redlance?"

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

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

"Neither do I," Leetah added.

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

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

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

"Pa!"

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

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

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

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

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

"They deserve to know Pa," Jacob countered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Where is he?"

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

"Another horse?" Joyleaf remarked.

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

"No," Dart said shaking his head.

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

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

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

"What is it?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wiseshaman


Posts : 657
Join date : 2012-06-23

Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 Empty
PostSubject: ElfWest Day Six - Part Eight   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptyWed Apr 18, 2018 12:45 pm

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

Day Six - Part Eight

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


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

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

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

"Did she say where she would be going?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Thank you, P.W."

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

Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 Vignette-orig


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

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

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

"Are you okay Redlance?"

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

"Why are you always the last one in?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Oh," Shenshen replied scared.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"For the Maquis."

"For the Abode."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Yes sir, it's about Katie."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I'll tell you everything I know."

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

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

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

"What did he come to you for?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Thank you for answering our questions."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


___________________________________________________
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Wiseshaman

Wiseshaman


Posts : 657
Join date : 2012-06-23

Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 Empty
PostSubject: ElfWest Day Six - Part Nine   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptyMon Apr 23, 2018 12:18 pm

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


Day Six - Part Nine


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

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

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

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

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

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

"Buenos noches Amigo."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Que?"

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

"I will not let that happen."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Then what are we to do amigo?"

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

Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 Vignette-orig

"This is your Second Best?"

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

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

"Oh," Vaya commented with raised eyebrows.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Is there anything I can do Pike?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What?"

"My paper if you kindly please."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Caught by whom?" Shenshen whispered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Fifty men?" Leetah gasped.

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

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

"I guess you saved the Scouts tracker."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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"Red, can we talk?"

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

"Sure, is it about your father?"

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

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

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

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

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

"Yes I would."

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

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

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

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


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

Rainflower


Libra Snake
Posts : 667
Join date : 2015-03-29
Age : 32

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptyWed May 02, 2018 3:13 pm

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

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

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

Btw, have you still got that backstory about Dart, Shushen and Geoki?
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Wiseshaman

Wiseshaman


Posts : 657
Join date : 2012-06-23

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PostSubject: ElfWest Day Six - Part Ten   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptyWed May 02, 2018 6:50 pm

*laughs and hugs back*

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

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

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


Day Six - Part Ten


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

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

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

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

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

"Is it warm enough for you?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You two make up?" His fiance asked.

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

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

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

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

"And then there's Longbranch and Treestump-"

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

"All right," Redlance said with a smile.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Whew, that's cold."

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

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

"Crescent, I need to tell you something."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Will you stay with us Crescent?"

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

"Are you asking me to marry you?"

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

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

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

"Yes,"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Tyleet?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Nightfall!" Leetah called out to her friend.

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

Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 Vignette-orig

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

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

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

"What?" Both Joyleaf and Bearclaw exclaimed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Well he be okay Rose?"

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

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

"Both of them, at the same time?"

Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 Vignette-orig

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Buenos noches Senora Aroree."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Si Senora, I only wish to talk."

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

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

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


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Wiseshaman

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PostSubject: ElfWest Day Six - Prelude One   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptyFri May 04, 2018 1:12 pm

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

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


ElfWest Day Six - Prelude One

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

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

"Hello there Mender, how was the trip?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Well you be staying around for awhile StarShine?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Yes it was!" Mender added.

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

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

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

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

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

"Is there a room at the Boarding House?"

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

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

"Aurek, you got a visitor!"

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

"Oh my goodness, good evening doctor!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

___________________________________________________
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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptySun May 06, 2018 1:40 pm

I had all forgotten about Mender and Starshine. Remind me, did I post that picture of Starshine on this thread?
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Wiseshaman

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PostSubject: ElfWest Day Six - Part Eleven   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptyTue May 08, 2018 9:54 pm

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

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


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

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


Day Six - Part Eleven

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

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

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

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

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

She had run her fingers through his hair. . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptySat May 12, 2018 1:31 pm

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

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PostSubject: ElfWest Day Six - Part Twelve   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptyWed May 16, 2018 11:19 pm

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

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


Day Six - Part Twelve

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 Vignette-orig

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Would you kill me John?"

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

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

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

Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 Vignette-orig

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

And he'd have Dewshine at his side.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"All right, you want the greener?"

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

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

No one spoke up.

There was nothing to say.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Be careful my love."

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

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

"Skywise?"

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

"Go on, I'll be okay."

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

"Be careful son." Longbranch said to Redlance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"And you-"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rainflower


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Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 Empty
PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptyFri Jun 29, 2018 1:13 pm

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

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

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

Days at the Saloon - part 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Yup!" Ruffle said grinning.

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

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

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

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

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

None of them offered to follow her to the wagon.

She never looked back to their house.

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

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

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

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

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

If it hadn't been full already.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Hello, damsels!" one of them said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Where'd Vurdah go?" Ruffled muffled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"But my song..." Vurdah moaned.

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

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

"Why? You ruined my big moment!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Uhm?"

"She's not gonna make it on her own."

Maleen gazed at her friend,  suddenly seeing a hint of a grown elf woman in her blue eyes, and became impressed.

"I know I would have gotten myself into one mess after the other if it wasn't for you. But Vurdah's all alone and doesn't know life like we do."

Maleen looked down at the sleeping Vurdah and back at Ruffle again. "You think we should bring her along?"

"Why not?" Ruffle smiled. "I've completely fallen in love with her."

"Hm. Me too." Maleen smiled.  "I don't like the thought of leaving her behind. I would never forgive myself."

The next morning, after Vurdah had gotten over the worst hangover, they explained how she had gotten too much of the whisky. They left out the details of her so called performance and just told her how she had just blacked out quickly and needed help getting back. She felt so ashamed of herself that she didn't dared to talk for a hour, but after they had explained how stupid they'd acted in similar situations, she managed to rise up and accept the whole matter. And when the girls offered her to come along with them, she came to the most lifechanging realization ever; that she wasn't gonna make it on her own in this new world. She saw how fragile she was about life and that she needed help to face it. So she accepted their offer and went with them.

And as time went by, despite the feeling of sinking down a level with the saloon dancing and the humiliation of the 'other' buisness that often followed, she found that she never would regret that decision, because at least at this level, she wasn't alone and she felt taken cared of. The fun that these two could offer compared to the dull life she had been living so long was like sent from the High Ones.And they too found Vurdah to be the most caring companion they'd imagine to have. They found her to be more practical in many ways they lacked.  And even thought the chances of being a famous singer at the theatre slipped her one chance after the other as her courage failed, she found that maybe she just wasn't meant to go that high. She just didn't have the nature of it. And some years later when they all found a steady job at the Hammer and Thongs, she found at long last what she had dreamed of from the beginning; a place to belong. A family.

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

As Vurdah listened to the story the girls had hidden to her, and thought of the memories they'd shared, she came to this realization once again and felt, besides from purely embarrassed, relieved and grateful to have these two in her life. New tears welled up in her eyes and she hid her face in her hands again.

"Oh Vurdah, it wasn't the worst that could have happened." Ruffle crawled over beside her and held her arms tight around her.

"That's... not it." she sniffled and gave her a squeeze back and struggled to speak. "I just don't deserve this. All this time putting up with me like this..."

"Oh don't be silly, dear!" Maleen replied, sliding up on the other side of her. "We don't put up with you. We're just filling in eachother. How'd I ever managed to keep trace on Ruffle not to make a mess?"

"Or to help me get Maleen out of her shell?" Ruffle giggled. "And it takes the two of us to lift you up to your sweet merry self." she said and tickled Vurdah, making her giggle too.

"Abolutely!" Maleen remarked and joined the tickle game.

"And we never worked propelty without you, sweety. Remember how you managed to pack our bags when we first went off together? I never manged to get my stuff into my bag all in once, but you managed to, with half the room as if I'd done it!" Ruffle giggled.

They had stopped tickling her, but Vurdah still had to laugh at that. "All I did was to fold your clothes, Ruffle."

"And when you fixed my blouse? when I ripped of the sleeve?" Maleen said. "The way you made it look brand new with just making the stickes look like embroidery?"

"And I am not working properly without you guys!" Vurdah said smiling, but after another round of hugging, she became serious. "I guess... it was just... because it was her." Vurdah swallowed her sobs and leaned back on the bed between the girls. "I just had everything coming back to me with that letter. It was easier when she was so far away and I could play out all the lies at safe distance. But now..."

"I don't really see the problem, hun." Ruffle said.

"It's just that, even for elves, our community were a little old fascinate. You know how things can be with us and out nature? Well, it was alright, as long it never came out in the light. We never talked about it. There was a strict code of faith that ruled there. Respectable people were the most favored. Even among us."

"Tell us, Vurdah...." Ruffle said, a little carefully. "Are you... ashamed of us?"

The question came as quickly as the knife had hit her when she spotted her large, blue sad eyes . "Oh Ruffle... Maleen... NO!" she laid one arm around each and held them tight. "I love you girls. I don't regret anything. I wouldn't replace you out with anything!"

"Not even Skywise?" Ruffle teased, and Vurdah became silent again. Maleen gave her a slap on her head for ruining the moment, but Vurdah just sighed and loosened the grip on them.

"What was I thinking?" she said, looking up at the roof. "Stupid, stupid Vurdah." she gave herself a couple of slaps in her face, and was about to do it a third time when Maleen grabbed her hand, stopping her.

"He is one of the best we've ever met and I'd never say no to him, but really? Never marry him. He's far from mature enough for that." the black haired elf said with a grin.

"I couldn't have said it better." Vurdah replied with a relief. "I guess I just wanted so desperately to have what she had. I felt I was running out of time, and he seemed like the closest way to get it before she got here. And then we found that Oddbit was pregnant, and..." she got frustrated about thinking of the troll and her baby to come, and quickly rose up again to hit both fists in the madras as hard as she could. "It's just so unfair! She's having a child and she doesn't even want it. I would give anything to have a baby of my own." She had to struggle not to let tears build up again. "I want that so desperately!"

"I know! It's not fair at all!"

Vurdah turned around to see Maleen, also tearful and with a sad face. She stroke away a tear that escaped, and Maleen looked up at her. "I too wanna be a mother. I'm so jealous at Oddbit." Vurdah didn't  answer, but hugged her dear friend again.

"I don't need to have one myself." Ruffle said, although she wasn't smiling. "But it would've been great to have one around. I love babies. Even if it was a ogre baby. Remember when they had us looking after the young ones at the orphanage, Maleen? those sweet things that took love from everyone?" she sighed. "And didn't judge you..."  

"Poor thing, what's gonna happen to it?" Maleen cried into Vrudah's chest. "She's gonna be a terrible mother!"

"Yeah, the worst!" Ruffle replied. "She's not at all fitted."

Vurdah didn't say anything, but as they were talking about Oddbit's baby, all of a sudden, Leetah's words. You shouldn't close your eyes to the wonders and pleasures this world of common man has to offer.

"Ladies?!" she spoke up, determinant in her voice, causing the two others to rise up and stare at her. "I know what we gotta do!"


Last edited by Rainflower on Sun Jul 01, 2018 2:09 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Prayer

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptySat Jun 30, 2018 4:17 pm

"... even if I was an ogre baby" *chuckles*

Well written, Rainflower! <3
I love to read about the old Trio. The lightness of Ruffel, the seriousness of Vurdah and Marleen in-between.
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Rainflower

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptySun Jul 01, 2018 2:10 pm

Thank you, Prayer. I've added a few details I realized I had forgotten, so you might re-read the end a bit. Part 4 will be done as soon as I manage
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Lunakat

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptyThu Jul 04, 2019 7:14 am

Where is the rest of this??? Ahhhh!

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnbYyTlz1Tw
Rainflower

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptyTue Aug 06, 2019 3:36 pm

Lunacat, I'm sorry it took so long, but here's another chap that will keep things going a while, I hope... I've missed this so much, but I had so much troub,e with this one. I hope people can enjoy it anyhow.

I've noticed that my chapters ha a tendency to get a little... long. Is that a problem? I sure hope not Embarassed


Days at the Saloon - Part 5

"Not planning to finish your lunch, huh?"

Vurdah looked down at the little green, plump face, surrounded with orange curls. The trollbaby gave a grin to her and made a sound back, as if she was answering her, even though she wasn't talking much yet.

"Alright, then." she said, putting the bowl away. "Then Trinket has to be a good girl and wait till dinner."

"I see you got stuck with her again?"

Vurdah turned to face Old Maggoty. She gave an overbearing smile to her, ignoring the slightly annoyed face of hers. "Oh, I don't mind. I like to think she prefers me."

She got startled when the baby begun slamming in the table with a disturbed cry. "Goggie! GOGGIE!" she cried and pointed with a plump finger in her mouth.

"No dearie, you won't have that now!" Vurdah said determinant, but gently. "You can't have cookies every day!"

"GOGGIE!" Trinket cried out louder.

"No!" Vurdah said short.

Trinket, realizing that she was not gonna have any sweets from this babysitter, opened her huge mouth to release a loud cry of dissatisfaction. Old Maggoty's eyes were glued on the wriggling bundle in on Vurdah's lap, who didn't seem to even notice she was there. "She's gonna end up underweighted if you go on like that!"

"I'll never forgive Ruffle for introducing her to cake!" Vurdah answered when changing the trollbaby's position on her to prevent her from pulling her hair. "She'll barely eat anything else now." Trinket cave another loud cry, and Vurdah sighed. "Alright, alright! Here!" she barely managed to pull of her bracelet and hand it to the baby, who widened her eyes at it, immediately putting it into her mouth.

Maggoty chuckled. "You won't have that back, you know?"

"Anything for a moment of silence." Vurdah mumbled while leaning back on the chair while watching her play with what actually was a fake silver bracelet with only enamel decorations and not real jewelry. "I've learned my lesson from the last time, not to wear my best gems with her around."

Old Maggoty rolled her eyes and shook her head, then gave a heavy sigh. "Better than her mother though, I'll give you that lass!"

Vurdah smiled to herself, feeling a bit more confident at what wasn't really meant as a compliment for her, but a sting to Oddbit. "Where is she today anyway? I thought she had full plans of rearranging the tables to make room for her new..." she cleared her throat. "'Dance performance'?"

"Ya'really thought she was gonna go through with that? That's too much thinking for her 'poor delicate mind'!" Maggoty said with a hint of snap in her voice. "She's probably at Daisy's. She's put on weight again, but she blamed her for making it too small again." She was about to make a leave when she turned back. "Heard anything more from that cousin of yours yet?"

"Not since her last letter." Vurdah replied, straightening up the bow in Trinket's hair now that she had calmed down. "But I guess she'll be here not less than a month." She looked at Old Maggoty, feeling grateful for the little interest the old troll showed her life, which didn't happen too often with any of them, but the old troll had her ways of surprising them when least expected.

They had first discovered this the night when Vurdah got the cut in her arm. It turned out that old Maggoty had gotten up to check on her when they didn't come down again. It appeared that she had been standing outside listening to their conversation instead of bursting in to teach them a lesson for wasting their time when Vurdah was outside danger. The elf girls had been startled to find her there, but before they got time to explain, as they realized why she was there, Vurdha had spoke up before her.

"Where's Oddbit? We have something important to tell her about the baby!"

It took a moment before the troll answered her, brought out of position as she was, and not at all used to see the normally fragile and shy Vurda speaking directly to her like this. "Downstairs, giving Picky a shake of pepper. I wouldn't go down there if I were you."

"Thank's, Ma'am!" Vurdah said, and led the way past her for the girls. Long before they came down, they heard Oddbit shout and yell loud, probably enough to be heard far out on the street, they thought.

"How do you think our lives will be from now on, Picky? Nothing will ever be the same again! My life is completely ruined, and it's all your fault!"

"Now wait a minute, I..." Picknose said, but then he became aware of the tree girls entering behind and grew a frown in the already sweat, green face. "So there ya lazy little no good vixens are. What's the point of making such a commotion to excuse ya'selves out like that?" he continued yelling at Vurdah. "Have ya got any idea of what trouble became of that stunt of yours? With both the Marshall and his men..." He would have been able to go on if Oddbit hadn't gotten in between them.

"Picky! You no good scum! Stop yelling at her, poor lassie." For a moment forgetting her anger, turned to Vurdah and grabbed both her shoulders and looked her all over with concern. "Oh you poor dearie, you're alright! thank goodness you made it." She gave her a tight squeeze with her arms, for a moment causing Vurdah to lose her breath.

"I'm as fine as can be, Oddbit." she replied when the trollmaid finally let go of her, showing her bandaged arm. "Rose had me patched up in no time, I just passed out because of the blood."

Oddbit gently grabbed her arm and gave it a light pat. "Oh you just make sure to get rested, sweety." spotted the bloody skirt of her dress and got a panic look on her face. "Oh, look at your dress! What a disaster!" she held up the skirt of Vurdah's dress, and frowned when turning back to Picknose. "This is what happens when you had those drinks on the house did? What if that had been me? Then you may not have had either wife or baby to be!"

"Don't blame me! It wasn't my fault that...?"

"Oddbit, if you could just give us a second..." Vurdah tried to speak, but didn't get anywhere.

"It's bad enough to have to give birth to this accident of yours, but how're you gonna let it grow up, with violent idiots and you letting them drink till they drop."

"Me?" Picknose's face became a huge frustrated question. "This baby raising is supposed to be women work. It's not my job to..."

"So you're leaving it all on ME? HOW DARE YOU? It's your fault after all!" She broke into loud crying again and sat down by the closest table. "My life will NEVER me the same! It's over for me! OVER!"

"ODDBIT!" all three of the cried out loud, and at last, the troll maiden was silent a moment and looked at them. Vurdah took the moment and spoke while she had the chance.

"We wondered if we could help you raise it!"

The room went quiet, and Maleen spoke up next. " We're actually looking forward for it to come! We love babies, and we just can't wait for it to come!"

Oddbit's teary eyes went wide as they spoke. "You are? Really?"

"Oh yes, absolutely!" Ruffle clapped her hands and jumped up and down. "We wanna so badly to have one to play with."

"Just ask us any time you feel you... won't mind loaning it to us. We promise, we'll be prepared whenever you ask!" Vurdah finished.

Oddbit's tears became a frowned smile as she rose and grabbed all three elves in one huge hug as she broke into loud sobbing again. "Oh you dear dear little poodles! What would I ever have done without you."

And did she ask... It didn't take long after the bundle was born before Oddbit was back on stage and ready to give shortly after. Picknose had been proud like a peacock when little Trinket was born and showed her off to all the customers whenever chance allowed. But he too got tired of the constant crying and wailing that followed, and he soon begun to wonder what he had started.

Vurdah, Maleen and Ruffle were full up with babysitting and all that followed. But they met every challenge with heads held high and pleasure. They took turns in bathing her, changing her, singing her into sleep. They even had evenings where they would gather up all three of them and sing lullaby's to put her into sleep. All this, and the fact that they did it together, the girls got the feeling of motherhood that they'd longed for.

Of course, she became a challenge in time, when she had to learn how to walk and when she became a little more aware of what she was eating, and so on. Shiny objects, which were always a thing not to be avoided at a saloon with girls dressing up, quickly became her obsession. Oddbit constantly wearing them and never allowing her to have any of them since they were hers, making her her cry hard and loud when she couldn't get her chubby hands on them, making her give in once in a while, but instead giving them some of the other girls' jewelry instead, to their constant dismay.

But despite this the girls couldn't help but realize that Trinket was neglected and ignored by her mother, who barely had one look at her, and Picknose, who once had been so proud about having his own daughter, were even more annoyed by her constant crying and stubborn behavior. The trio found themselves right in their believes in Picknose and Oddbit as parents, and decided in time that it was their solemn duty to make sure this girl got some sense into her little green scalp.

Thinking back on these events made Vurdah wonder where time had gone when there was cough interfering her thoughts.

"Ehm... Sorry to interfere, but..."

The familiar voice woke the two saloon workers, and they both looked up to face the visitor, and Vurdah got startled seeing who it was. There in the door, were Captain Skywise entering. But Vurdah found herself not half as disturbed by his sudden presence as the one who came behind him. Marshal Treestump looked down at Skywise, who responded the look and gave a gesture towards Vurdah. "This is her, Marshal!"

Vurdah suddenly felt a slight panic run through her body, but she had to remain calm for Trinket's sake and rose from her chair with the baby in her arms. "What can I do for you, Sir?" she said as calm as possible, but had a feeling her voice was shivering a bit.

The Marshal stepped fprward as he nodded and tipped his hat shortly as he spoke. "I am sorry to trouble you, miss Vurdah. I can see that you are... busy. But if it's not too much to ask, we need you to come with us to the jail."

"The jail?" she said shocked and stepped back, loosing sense of what was going on.

"Have'ya been naughty now, lassie?" Old Maggoty smirked at her.

Vurdah had to remain calm and spoke as steady as she could. "Look... if this is about the business man from Silver Springs, I can tell you that was..."

The Marshal raised a large hand up to silence her, but spoke with calm, determinant voice that expressed nothing but duty. "Look miss, whatever you're referring to, it has nothing to do with this case. It's a completely different matter."

"Oh...?" didn't actually calm down by this.

"Oooh, Picky's gonna love this for sure!" the old troll said sarcastic.

"Vurdah has done nothing wrong, I assure you!" he said before he stepped forward and spoke calmly. "I'll explain on the way, but you need to come along right away. We really need your help, Vurdah. I think you're the only one who can." Vurdah thought he looked rather disturbed. Both elves looked concerned and disturbed with something, and Vurdah felt how she too got worried.

"Eh... Alright, I'll come. Just give me a second." she rose with the troll baby in her arms. "Uhm... Maggoty..."

"Forget the thought, lassie!" Old Maggoty shouted when she came over to her with Trinket in her arms. "I don't have the patience with her, I've got important things to tend to and no time for that wailing bundle. And we might have some customers if you get her out of here!"

"But both Ruffle and Maleen are out now. Where am I supposed to keep her?" Vurdah asked, getting disturbed herself.

"Just bring her along! I don't care." Maggoty said harshly, about to leave the room.

"Bring her to the jail?" Vurdah was shocked to hear her suggestion and almost lost her breath. It didn't help that Trinket begun whimpering again from the tension growing in the room. "But that's not at all a place to bring a child!"

"And this it?" Old Maggoty said sarcastically while she flung out her hands, looking around the room. And with a final grouch she left for the backroom, not at all intending to pay any of them more attention.

The room became quiet except from Trinket's now loud crying. It took Vurdah a moment to gather herself, and then she begun hushing Trinket and calm her down as best as she could. The Marshal and the Captain looked at eachother; none of them had expected this task to get as disturbing as this, but there were still a mission to be completed and they had to carry it through. After a minute of embarrassing silence from the two, the Marshal spoke up at last. "Look eh... Miss Vurdah? Just bring her along, we'll get someone to watch her. We have to finish this."

Feeling a little relieved, Vurdah felt a little calmer and got a better grip on the troll baby. She had a short look down herself, closing the button in front of her dress that Trinket had managed to open while they were talking, concluding that the simple short sleeved moss green blossomed cotton dress was now more or less suitable enough for a visit to the authorities. Her hair had gotten out of the pin so her curls were flowing down, but she just stroke it behind her ears, putting the pin in her pocket before Trinket saw it. "I'm coming, Marshal!"

Luckily, as soon as they got outside, Trinket got distracted from everything going on around her that she stopped crying and turned her gaze from the riding cowboys at her left to the playing children on her right. They didn't bring her out much yet as there were no other troll babies in town at the moment she could play with, so everything was new and exciting for her. It gave Vurdah the time to get oriented about the situation she all of a sudden had gotten into.

"I'll give you the most important details, Miss. I don't know if you've heard of it, but the diligence was supposed to arrive two days ago. But when it didn't I sent my deputy Dart and Captain Skywise among some other men to figure out the cause."

She looked from the Marshal to the Captain, who begun speaking. "We found it quite far away, robbed and abandoned, with a couple of men and one elf shot dead. And not far away the robbers had taken some of the travelers as prisoners. One of them was an women, actually the only one alive, and she was in such condition that..." he broke off and took a break before looking at her. "You know... right?"

Vurdah saw the look in his pale blue eyes what he meant. For a moment she recalled what the girls had told her about the first night when she had too much whisky, and got goosebumps. "I see. But what has this got to do with me?"

"We haven't been able to get any sensible word out of her, she's crying buckets and too frightened to let anyone get near her. We even had Crescent to help us calm her down, but she won't let anyone near her, not even Dr. Rain to have a look at her either."

"She even managed to rip my young deputy off the keys and has now locked herself up in one of the cells, not intending to get out." the Marshal said. "I can't say I blame her though. Poor thing's not thinking straight."

"The first reaction we got was when we mentioned she was in Two Moons. Then she gathered herself for just a moment to utter a name." Skywise said looked at her. "Your name, Vurdah!"

This made Vurdah stop and think a moment and think. The diligence being delayed... and a woman... Vurdah felt how every hair of her body went straight up. She looked at Skywise again and barely managed to ask him a question without having her voice shaking. "This woman... have you got her name?"

"No, but she's an elf, and we think that..."

"An elf?" It felt like someone had fried a gunshot right beside her and she grew pale as she realized what might be a fact. "Why didn't you say that at once?" She felt an urgent need to hurry and almost threw Trinket into Skywise's arms before she lifted up her skirts and ran towards the prison.

Never in her wild life had she imagined that this could be the reason why Talla was delayed. Not that she looked so mush forward to her arrival, but now it was different. For the first time in her life, Vurdah wanted nothing but to see her cousin. At the jail, she flung the doors open, startling Major Cutter and deputy Dart as she stormed past them and into what she guessed was the jails when she heard what sounded like a woman's sobs. As she came through the half open doors, she found Crescent and Dr. Rain, and the young deputy gathered in front of one of the cells. As they heard her approach, Crescent stepped aside when she recognized her, dragging young Scouter along to give way for her.

There, on the cell's hard bed, was her cousin Talla, crying hard with her dress barely stuck together under a blanket that was tugged around her shoulders. Her normally tight gathered black hair was all a mess hanging down her shoulders, she had blood stains all over and she was hiding her face in her hands. What once must have been a beautiful blue traveling outfit with what Vurdah thought were white linings at the jacket and the skirt was now covered with dirt, blood and high ones knew what else. With her heart up her throat, she approached the bars. "Talla?"

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

Vurdah felt absolutely exhausted when she at long last walked down the stairs from the boarding house where they had rented a room for Talla. Her cousin, now asleep with something medical, would wake up with Dr. Rain looking after her, with Mrs. Savah and Miss Ahdri taking turns in watching over her, making sure she was never without female company. She heard Mrs. Savah discuss this with Leetah and Marshal Trestump as she came down. Leetah turned to face her, with the same warm smile as always.

Leetah's difference from her saloon days startled Vurdah a bit once she had managed to gather herself. She had always been used to seeing her in those bright colored dresses, with make up and sparkle. Now she was more casual, a plain, beige cotton dress over a light yellow blossom blouse made her skin look even darker, and her reddish brown curled hair was simply pulled away from her face with a hair pin on the back of her head while the rest was flowing down her back. Even lead back and common, Leetah had kept her natural elegance. She had seldom seen her since she quit, but she was glad she was here now.

Thank goodness she had recalled Leetah's medical profession, or they would have gotten nowhere with Talla. Having a female medic help out with her was just the thing. At Vurdah's reuqest, Crescent had ridden up to Rancho el Sol where she and Cutter was visiting her parents and sister, and Leetah had joined her with her on the back of her horse without further questions.
Vurdah wasn't sure what she did, but Leetah had that ability to get into everyone with her bare presence. With just a touch, Talla became calmer, and even broke down in her arms right after. It didn't take long before she was checked all over, concluding with a few broken ribs and blue marks that would take time to heal. Then Leetah gave her some drops of something that made her all wozzy, allowing Marshal Treestump to carry her over to the boarding house where Crescent had run over to inform Savah of their arrival.

"Is she sleeping?" Treestump asked concerned.

"At last, yes." Vurdah replied with a heavy sigh.

"You don't have to worry about your cousin, Miss Vurdah. We're going to make sure she has what she needs."

The owner of the boarding house smiled warmly to her, but Vurdah had one worry she had to express. "I really appreciate your help, I really do, but... I confess I'm not sure how long I can afford to keep her here."

"Those costs will be on us, Miss Vurdah." Marshal Treestump smiled at her. "This is part of our task after all. You don't need to worry about anything."

Vurdah felt calmer and smiled back at him. "Thank you Marshal. You don't know what your help means to me!"

"Although, I hope you can return and help out once she's ready to testify. We need her as a witness for this case, it's part of a serious robbery with murder included."

"I'll make sure to be around, Marshal." she replied. "I'm not going anywhere with Trinket all..." Vurdah became pale when she realized she had forgotten all about the trollbaby. "Trinket! Where is she?"

"Ehr... Trinket?" Leetah raised an eyebrow, giving her a questioning look back.

"The troll baby! Oddbit's daughter! I left her with..." Vurdah looked at the Marshall. "Marshall, where is Skywise?"

"Easy lass, listen!" he begun. "The Captain is out with the Major and Dart taking care of the other corpses, but he left the baby along with Leetah's twins at the resturant. So she's perfectly..."

"WHAT?"

"The Major came after with the twins while we dealt with her. And..."

Vurdah felt how she almost fainted, but instead the dizziness went over to pure frustration, and she raised her voice as she cried out. "She can't be near a pair of elf babies! She'll tear their limbs apart!" She ran towards the door, hearing Leetah call out her name, but she didn't bother to stop and hear her out. Instead she ran across the streets and towards the restaurant. She almost slid in a mud pool, but somehow managed to stand up and keep running.

She had to catch her breath when she opened the door to the restaurant, panting franticly while looking around for the baby. And the sight that met her, made her stunned.

There were early day, so the restaurant was almost empty at this time, but by a table in the left corner she found the owner Brownberry sitting with her red haired granddaughter leaning on the back of her stool behind her. Standing near, leaning to the back of another chair, was Crescent, and another elf with blond hair Vurdah didn't know quite. All of them had their eyes at four babies at the floor, three elves and one troll. At one side, there were one dark baby with blond hair and a light skinned baby with brown curls playing peacefully together. A bit away from them, the other dark skinned baby with the orange nest of hair were playing with Trinket. They were both loud in their little game, each holding a ragdoll that they kept hitting hard on the floor, apparently in some kind of competition of who could hit hardest. The group watched with great amuse at the two, but looked up when they became aware of her. when they became aware of her presence, Crescent and the blond elf woman hurried to her.

"How did it go, Vurdah? Is she alright?"

"Eh... What?" Vurdah, still catching her breath, had to think a little. "Who?"

"That elf woman!" the blond elf woman said. "She's gonna be okay, right?"

Vurdah weren't able to give a proper reply, but looked at women in turn, and then at the babies, pointing with her hands at them to get an explanation.

"Aqua, por favor?"

The two elves forgot Vurdah for a moment when they heard Leetah enter, and ran to greet her, she too breathing heavily, and grabbed the closest chair to lean on. She followed her to the kitchen while she gave her an update on Vurdah' cousin, while Vurdah was left staring at Trinket. The restaurant owner, sensed her being a bit lost, and rose from her chair and walked to her. "I bet you're looking for her?" she said, pointing at Trinket.

"Aha..." she nodded back, giving her a curious look as she let Brownberry lead her to the other chair by the table. "Do you really dare to let her..."

"Play with little Ember?" she laughed. "It was the obvious choice. Quite lucky actually. Ember has finally met her match!"

"Huh?" Vurdah blinked, even more confused.

"Ember is at times too tough for the boys to handle, so this was just perfect!" the restaurant owner explained. "Now she's having someone equally wild as her."

"Wait a minute!" Vurdah said, pointing at the red haired baby with rather rough clothing in plaids with patches all over. "That's a girl?"

There were silence, then Brownberry bursted into laughter. Brownberrys' granddaughter also chuckled, but she tried to keep a hold on herself. "I don't think you should let Leetah hear that."

"Hear what, dear?"

They turned to find Leetah and Crescent approaching, Crescent handing Vurdah a glass of water.

"We're just watching them play." the little girl said, approaching Crescent, but talking to Leetah. "Isn't is wonderful that Ember has someone who dares to play with her?"

"Si, Tyleet. I am so happy!" Leetah said, drinking her own water. "Finally the chicos do not need to be afraid of her interfering them."

Vurdah had forgotten how thirsty she was and drank the water in one gulp. "Thanks. I... I should bring her back now." she rose from the chair and was about to walk to get Trinket when Leetah grabbed her shoulder.

Leetah hurried to grab her shoulders, forcing her down in the chair again. "No no no, let her stay a while! Ember will be worn out for once!" she said, then smirked. "Brownberry, could you prepare two dish of the day. It smelled so good at the kitchen, and it's been a tough day so far."

"Right away. Rainsong?" she said to blond one, who followed her. Crescent excused herself and went out to hear if there were any news from her brother and company. Tyleet stayed behind, but kept distance to leave the grown up's alone and went to see play of the little boys.

Vurdah felt how exhausted she was at sudden, not just from today's event, but from the last time as well. She realized first now that none of them had been having a single break since the trollbaby was born. This night it had been Ruffle's turn to take her at night, and she hadn't been able to get back to bed at all and were still sleeping probably to be in shape for tonight, and Maleen had to take a trip to the doctor this morning to handle her aching back. "She hasn't been able to stand up straight after she stumbled with Trinket in her arms and had to make sure not to fall with her." Vurdah explained to Leetah after they had eaten.

The former saloon singer was very interested in hearing about how life was going with them now, and laughed at everything she had to tell. Very soon, they were not only sharing old memories from days at the Hammer and Thongs, but children experience as well.

Leetah's life had been changed beyond expectations now that she had a family herself. Living with Major Cutter in a house of their own that she had been allowed to do whatever she wanted to make herself at home. She told of her good relation with her mother in law Joyleaf, whom had become like a second mother for her, and how she at first had struggled to adapt the rough manners of Bearclaw, but because of his sincere affection for the grandchildren, she had come to get used to it. Vurdah got surprised at when she mentioned she was helping the proper Mrs. Moonshade at her dresshop, and were impressed of how the whole bunch of friends and families all adapted in sharing the nursing of the three children.

"At first, when I discovered I was expecting, I thought... How am I ever going to do this? I never thought I had it in me to be a mother. I realized that I would loose my freedom completely if I gave into this. I was frightened. I had watched how well Nightfall handled Tyleet and how Rainsong hamdled her two children, and thought, will I ever be that good?" She sighed and smiled to Vurdah. "But something happened when I got them in my arms. I just couldn't stop loving them. I will do anything for them. Although I hope Ember will grow calmer in time. I can imagine how it will be to put a dress on her once in the future."

"Probably as hard as it will be to make Trinket loose her grip on our jewelry." Vurdah said. Both women broke into laughter.

Lound crying interupted their talk, and they watched as Ember and Trinket both pulled a ragged doll, none of them wanting to give in. "Shoud we...?"

"No, they will work it out. Ember needs to get out some frustration." Leetah stopped her. "I am happy to hear that you are all doing alright. I must confess that I have been a bit concerned."

"There are times were we've felt the same." she sighed. Her eyes gazed at the boys, who were playing far more easy with some blocks that Tyleet helped them with. "That blond one is also yours?"

"My son Suntop. He is a bit more gentle than his sister. I pray to the High Ones he won't end up like his grandfather Bearclaw." she chuckled. "I believe they have heard me. Cutter had always been certain if he had a son, he would be like his padre. But no...." she laughed.

"I actually see more Joyleaf in him, to be honest." Vurdah said, as she knew who the old gunner's wife as well as others at the saloon, thinking of how many times she had come and given him a lecture at and outside the saloon. "But the third one, who is he?"

"Windkin?" Leetah said. "She is Dewshine's son."

"What?" Vurdah blinked several times, failing to believe what she heard. "The Marshal's daughter? Isn't she a little young for..."

"Oh you know how it... happens at times." Leetah said smiling. "That is also why it is so natural for my inlaws to handle him as well; because his grandfather the Major, is brother of Joyleaf, and therefore family. And then, Suntop got a playmate too."

Vurdah had somehow felt rather filthy at times outside the saloon, but hearing this made her wonder if their lives were as bad as it seemed. She certainty wouldn't have any trouble looking at the Marshall anymore. "But she isn't.. taking care of him?"

"Oh yes she does, but she's traveling with The Wild West Show right now, with Bearclaw and Joyleaf. But she is all devoted to him when she is around, and he to her. Though she and Tyleet over there are as close to one other as you and your friends, and she works as a second mother to him. She loves to play with him. She is preparing to the day when she herself becomes a mother."

Vurdah looked at the little red haired girl over by the two boys. Tyleet had the most patient nature she had ever seen, and had trouble realizing she was real. Understanding the longing for a child herself, she found it somehow easy to recognize herself with her. "She'll be a good one, that's for sure."

A thought suddenly struck her suddenly filled her with panic, causing her to suddenly gasp. Leetah seemed to notice. "Que?"

"Talla's child!" Vurdah said. Tears started to fill her eyes and she leaned her head on a hand at the table. "Oh High Ones, Leetah, what if...?" she couldn't finish of the sentence, as her voice choked. Recalling that Vurdah's cousin was expecting at the time when they had their talk, Leetah got a sad expression on her face as she realized what Vurdah meant. "She must have given birth to it by now, but... no one mentioned a child. Not even she..." Her tears suddenly hit the table, and a sob escaped her before she knew it. But then she felt Leetah's hand upon hers, looking up to face the green pools looking at her, with the same calm reasonable expression like two years ago.

"Let us not draw hasted conclusions. Wait till she awakes, and she might tell you herself what has become of this child of hers. In the meantime, my husband will be back with news very soon, and I promise to keep you informed if there is anything new."

"What am I to do with her?" she asked and sniffed. "She's so thraumatized... How will I..."

"I suggest you wait till she has gotten over the worst shock." Leetah said, hugging her hand with hers. "Then she can tell you herself what she will do."

"What's wrong, Miss?"

Vurdah looked up to find Tyleet approaching them, with honest concern in those moss green eyes of hers. Then the little girl reached to the pocket of her dress and pulled out a handkerchief. "Would you like to borrow this?" she asked gently and handed it to her.

Overwhelmed by the little girl's kindness, and embarrassed over her breakdown, she pulled herself together a little as she accepted her offer. "Thanks, honey." After giving her face a quick wipe and blowing her nose, she smiled to her. "I'm sorry you had to see me like this. I... "she wasn't sure of what the girl knew, and turned a second to Leetah, who calmly rose from her chair and approached from behind Vurdah, placing a hand on her shoulder.

"You see, Tyleet; Vurdah hasn't seen her cousin in a very long time, and the poor thing has been into the terrible accident that happened today that caused Dart and the others to ride off so suddenly."

"Oh..." Tyleet covered her mouth, looking to Vurdah, and then back to Leetah. "But she's gonna be alright, isn't she?"

"Yes, I..." Vurdah drew her breath and smiled to her. "I am going to help her. She's been through a tough time, but I will be there for her. She's just going to need a little time to recover. All in all... I am glad to see her after all."

"I see what you mean." Tyleet said, looking down ad her folded hands. "My Papa has also been through something terrible. From the war. Sometimes he gets so very, very sad, and... and I don't know what to do." she suddenly looked quite sad herself.

Vurdah suddenly felt her heart ache for the girl and pulled her into a hug. "With you around, dear, I'm certain he'll feel better." she let go of her and placed the folded handkerchief back in her hand while she looked into her eyes. "Just like you've made me feel better now."

This made Tyleet smile. "I'm glad I could help."

Another loud cry from the baby girls made them all turn. They were quarreling again, and this time, Ember was reaching out her arms for her mother. Leetah went to lift her up, and started to soother her gently with spanish words.

Trinket too seemed to have gotten tired, and was wailing with arms out for Vurdah, who smiled warmly to her as she rose to pick her up. "Ready for naptime, huh? I guess it's time to head home."

"I'll go get Grandma." Tyleet said, heading for the kitchen, but stopped and turned to Vurdah again. "It was nice meeting you, Miss Vurdah. I hope you'll come around again sometime!"

Vurdah felt a little startled at the question, but Leetah spoke before her. "Si, I hope we can stay in touch. I have a feeling our little ninas will be good amigas in time."

"Well... it sure would be good for her with someone to play with. There are no other troll children as I know." Vurdah said with relief as she saw Leetah's friendly eyes. "I guess you'll see me around. It was nice meeting you too, Tyleet."

Leetah walked her to the door, both with a baby in their arms they gave oneother a rather clumsy goodbye hug that made them both laugh. As she waved to her walking down the streets back to the saloon, it suddenly hit her that she hadn't asked about Skywise. But all in all, she decided it didn't matter anymore.

Now it was Talla that mattered.
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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptyThu Aug 08, 2019 5:18 am

I loved this reading. You show well the depth of love in a mother's heart as well as how it effects them emotionally, mentally and physically.

Even to the feelings of being in an (emotional) rollercoaster...
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Rainflower

Rainflower


Libra Snake
Posts : 667
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Age : 32

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptySat Aug 10, 2019 3:58 am

Thank you Prayer, for the nice comment and for still reading on this page. I hope it comes a little alive again😢
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Wiseshaman

Wiseshaman


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Join date : 2012-06-23

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PostSubject: Day Six - Part Thirteen   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptyWed Oct 14, 2020 10:08 pm

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


Day Six - Part Thirteen

Guests show up all around, but not all guests are so nice or welcomed...


Urda’s cabin was Southwest out of town, up in the small foothills nestled back in the Cottonwoods and the pines. Aroree rode a small Morgan that Leila didn’t like much so Rayek had to make sure the Arabian kept to the trial and not nipping the other horse’s backside. Pretty soon, just as the sun was setting, they reached the small one level cabin as a plume of smoke rose lazily skyward from a rock chimney. An old dog started barking from a small porch that covered the front door with a roof and maybe three feet on either side, just enough for a chair, which a female elf was occupying at the moment whittling.

Aroree waved to the woman and called out. “Good evening Urda!”

“Nice evening Miss Aroree. What’cha doin up here?” The lady answered back.

“I have a visitor who needs to talk with Kahvi.” Aroree answered pulling up to a long tether by the cabin’s outside wall.  

“Wouldn’t be a certain Bounty Hunter that talks funny, would it?” Urda asked with a grin.

“I do not talk funny.” Rayek grumbled pulling up Leila to another line.

“No, you don’t, sound perfectly normal to me.” Urda remarked with a wink.

Rayek tied off Leila so she could graze and then turned to go to porch but stopped cold in his tracks from what he saw. Kahvi had stepped out of the cabin’s porch, just in the doorway, holding an eight-gauge shotgun in one hand with the barrels pointed at the ground. There was no playful smile, no unbuttoned pants or shirt, and no flirtatious demeanor. This was the serious Kahvi, the one who had no problem opening up on someone with that shotgun in her hand.

“Why the hell did you bring him here?”

“He wants to talk Kahvi, ask you some questions.” Aroree offered cautiously.

“About them white horses I suppose?’ Urda spoke up going back to her whittling.

“Si,” was all Rayek replied eyeing Kahvi carefully. This sure was a change from just the other day he thought.

“I don’t see how I’m gonna be of any help. Dave never told no one about his business, kept everyone from going behind his back.” Kahvi stated flatly.

“I understand Senora, but maybe there is something you do not think is important which in fact is and would help.” Rayek spoke with a smile while he laid his forearm by his holster.

It was a simple calculation the Bounty Hunter ran through his head. The way Kahvi was holding that shotgun, one handed with the barrels pointed down versus him going for his Colt in the low rig. It was no contest. He’d put two, maybe three slugs in her before the triggers on the shotgun would catch. But Rayek didn’t want to shoot Kahvi, and surprisingly not because she had some information he was looking for. And no, it wasn’t for some sense of affection either…he just couldn’t do it. So, the two stood in silence, Rayek and Kahvi staring hard with even harder eyes at each other, until Urda spoke up while getting out of the chair.

“You know what, there’s some fat back pork I need to cook up and we got whole lot of beans in the pot on the stove. It’ll take me a few minutes to cook the pork, you two can talk while I’m doing it, and then we’ll have supper.”

Kahvi turned to her with those hard eyes. “You’re inviting him to supper?”

Urda smiled broadly, looked down at the shotgun, then back to her. “It’s not neighborly to send away guests hungry, and that trail ain’t safe for horse or rider after dark, which it will be her in a few minutes.”

Kahvi swung back to look at Rayek and he noted the hardness that was there just a minute ago was gone from her eyes. Well, looks like someone could get through to her he thought as Urda headed into the cabin passing behind Kahvi.

“And hell, ain’t like your gonna shoot anyone with an empty shotgun.”

There was a sudden loud pop, like a flat hand administering a quick slap to one’s backside, which is what Urda gave Kahvi across the rump while walking in making the elf’s eyes go wide. Rayek’s eyes matched her though as the words sunk in.

“The shotgun is EMPTY!”

“So, wasn’t like you were gonna shoot me either!” Kahvi spat turning and disappearing into the cabin.

Rayek eyes went even wider at that and he turned to Aroree, who only shrugged her shoulders and spoke quietly. “She’s right.”

“Si, but that just proves I’m the only one who is not loco en la cabeza por aquí! (crazy in the head around here)” He yelled as Aroree walked by on her way in.

He stood outside alone, in the growing dark, for a minute before deciding to go inside and have supper, his last remark a long grumble as he stepped onto the porch.

“¡Frijoles y Puerco...what que daría no para un filete decente! (Beans and Pork...what I would not give for a decent steak!)

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“I don’t have a good feeling about this Amil, feels like a damn trap.”

Buckshot didn’t need to track anymore, the trail was clear in where it went, and it was pretty obvious Amil Gentry didn’t give a damn what he was saying. He could have yelled those words at the top of his lungs or shot them out of a canon and it wouldn’t a made Amil blink. The big man was all ready getting set for the showdown. He pulled out a small length of rope and began to wrap it around his waist and the saddle horn.

“What are you doing now Amil?”

“Dale here don’t like loud noises, spooks him something awful. The last thing I need is to get thrown off when it starts.” Amil answered with a cold stare.

“Now wait a minute Gentry, I didn’t ride along to get shot up!” Buckshot countered

“Then why the hell did you ride son? I didn’t send my three boys around the back to go play cards with them and we sure ain’t gonna swap stories! We’re here to kill em’, plain and simple, and take back Boone’s his damn ears. Now shut the hell up and be ready in case we need some help!”

Buckshot stared at Amil for a second, saw the man was long gone in the head, and just turned back to looking at the approaching camp. The way he figured it, he was either gonna get shot by one these damn elves or take one in the back from Amil.

On Amil’s left the words from Buckshot rang in Biscuit Head’s ears. This wasn’t right…something wasn’t right about this he thought. As they rode up the campfire was going good and they could smell roast venison coming from it making their mouth’s water. He could see the wagon at the back of the campsite, turned sideways and covered which just screamed ambush. And there were sure more than those five who they were chasin’. There was one by the back of the wagon, two by him, and two more on the other side of the fire. Biscuit Head didn’t finish school, never made it past the third year, and he sure didn’t need that fancy education to know this was a trap he thought speaking up.

“Amil…I don’t got a good feelin’ bout this.”

“Shut up Biscuit Head.” Amil growled checking his old Colt Paterson.

“Damn Amil, those boys is dug in like a bunch of ticks on some old hound. We ain’t got no chance of driving them out.”

“How would a bilk like you know that?” One of the others snapped.

“I was in the Army you bunko! I saw enough to know this is a damn ambush!” Biscuit Head snapped back.

“You deserted from the Army after the first shot you yellow belly!” The same one laughed.

Biscuit Head hissed reaching for the Colt 1860 on his hip while the other man moved for his, but one finger pointed to his forehead stopped everything with a snap. Amil looked at Biscuit Head mean, crazy mean, while spitting out his words.

“You pull that hog leg and I’ll put a bullet in that soft head of yours!”

The miners all stopped moving, everything seemed to stop with the exception of the horses which kept moving forward at a slow pace. Amil dropped his finger letting the silence taker over the crew as they approached. Yeah, it was probably a trap, but he didn’t give a damn.

He really didn’t anymore.

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Joe Whitmore

The name just popped into Joyleaf’s head like a well spring, and she couldn’t help but to think who he was. Back, before she found her way to Two-Moons on the arm of one of the notorious men on the frontier, he had found her working in a growing town on the cattle trail out west. She was new to the town of Resolute and Bearclaw was the new Marshall, hired to clean it up from the dregs and the drovers. It was a surprise when he showed up in the clothes shop that afternoon, a roll full of lilies in one hand and formal invite in the other to the new theatre. She didn’t remember saying yes to his request but she did. Joyleaf had heard the stories, how dangerous Bearclaw was with a temper that was as short as the day was long. Yet she never regretted saying yes that afternoon…never felt scared for herself. After their third outing where he bought her lunch at the local eatery he made his intentions known, that he wanted to court her in the old way. Again, she said yes to him letting him call on her everyday in the shop. Her friends thought she was crazy having anything to do with him, but they didn’t understand. She was drawn to him, like a moth to the flame, and she couldn’t stop her heart from wanting him.  

Not even after he shot Joe Whitmore and she watched.

They had been to the theatre to see a play, and she thought it was rather surreal to see a room full of dangerous cowboys and drovers watch quietly enthralled at a bunch of people on a stage. None of the actors did a can-can and yet those men just sat quiet as could be staring like the cows they herded up the trail. But then one of the deputies came in and whispered something in Bearclaw’s ear and instantly his face changed. He wasn’t the elf she had walked in with, now he was the one her friends had warned her about. His jaw locked tight as his eyes squinted and he hissed.

“Where’s Joe now?”

“He’s at the Silver Dollar.” The deputy whispered back.

“What is it?” She asked quickly.

Bearclaw didn’t say anything, just rose from his seat and headed for the door. She stood up as the Deputy held out a hand to stop her while speaking. “Ma’am, this ain’t no place for a lady.”

She grabbed the human’s hand in hers, which swallowed her small fingers, and whispered pushing past him. “He’s gonna get hurt dammit!”

Joyleaf never let go of the deputy’s hand and she practically drug him to the Silver Dollar saloon. On the way the deputy explained that Joe had shot and killed another man over a poker game, a man named Moss who was Bearclaw’s partner in crime sometimes. Moss was no good and most knew it, but he ran with the Marshall and that was something to an elf who kept few friends. She pushed past the crowd that was gathering outside the swinging doors. Everything had quieted down inside the saloon as she stood looking in just past someone’s shoulder. Joe Whitmore was a tall broad chest human that towered over Bearclaw and his 5 foot ten inch slim frame. Joe wore dungarees and a blue chambray shirt that was stained with tobacco juice just as bad his beard

“I came to take you to jail Joe, for killing Moss.” Bearclaw said coldly ignoring everyone watching.

“Moss cheated me at cards Marshall. I asked for my money back and he pulled a gun. I shot him fair and right.” Joe countered.

“Ain’t my decision to make on right or wrong. The judge will be by in two weeks and he’ll hear your side.” Bearclaw said resting a hand on his Drgaoon.

“I ain’t goin to no jail Marshall, and sure as hell I ain’t gonna let some elf drag me down there like a woman!”

“Well then,” Bearclaw said with that same level tone, “you can die here on this saloon floor amid the drunks and whores or out there in the mud in the street, don’t make no difference to me which one you choose.”

They didn’t say another word, just stared at each other with steeled eyes. Joe gave a nod to the street and Bearclaw was moving first, his body facing Joe matching him step for step as they walked out of the saloon. Joe had a crew, four other drovers, who looked just as bad as Joe, that followed behind. She stepped back as people held the swinging doors open letting Bearclaw and Joe step out into the street. Joe’s crew went to the right, away from her side as Joe screamed out.

“I ain’t got no quarrel with you Marshall and I ain’t got no qualm killing you either for calling me out!”

“Yep,” was all Bearclaw said, still flat and still cold as ice.

There couldn’t have been maybe three, four feet that separated them Joyleaf remembered standing perfectly still on the town walk. She squeezed the deputy’s hand hard as a second then two passed before it all flashed. Joe went for the Army Colt on his hip, his fingers wrapping around the teak handle and pulling. Bearclaw reached for his Dragoon calmly and quickly with one swift move pulling the gun out and pointing it right at Joe’s chest. There was a single explosion. Bearclaw’s Dragoon fired into Joe’s chest one time and only one time. She didn’t jump at it like most standing around did. She just gasped as Joe’s face went blank. The human didn’t yell in pain, only groaned and dropped to his knees before pitching forward face first into the street by Bearclaw’s feet dead.

No one moved with the exception of Joe’s crew. One of em’, Joyleaf wasn’t sure which one, yelled out as soon as Joe was dead.

“Damn you! Damn you Marshall!”

Bearclaw turned and aimed his Dragoon on them, held it right at them and growled like some giant wolf. “Step off that walk and I’ll kill you too! I was within my right as the law to kill Joe and I’m within my right to do the same to any of you.”

“You can’t shoot all of us Marshall!” Another one shouted.

“I got five shots in this hand and six in my left. I’d say the odds are in my favor and you can be damn sure you’ll be the first one I shoot!”

No one on the crew moved. Common sense took hold as the liquid courage seemed to dry up. Everyone dispersed leaving Bearclaw alone standing in the street where he opened the breach on his Dragoon, replaced the spent shell, and then put the Dragoon back in his sash like what just happened was nothing but common business. The next day, when Bearclaw stopped by the shop to call on her as courting required, she asked him why he had shot Joe dead and the answer didn’t surprise her. He didn’t kill Joe because of Moss he said, he knew that Moss was a cheat at cards, and it would get him shot one day. No, Bearclaw said with a long look outside the window of the shop, he killed Joe Whitmore because Joe fronted him in the saloon, tried to back him down, and you can’t wear the star of the law in a town after you get fronted. You can’t be the law when the people around you think you won’t protect them, that you won’t face down a murderer to keep them safe.

When he asked a month later to marry her Joyleaf said yes.

It was an easier decision then the one it took to hide under an old blanket in some wagon while eight men were just a few feet away ready to kill her husband. She slowly pulled the hammer on her Peacemaker back till it locked as the riders were close enough to see now.

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The pistoleer saw the Miners ride up, funnel in thanks to the fence, and he smiled while greeting them like the doorman at one those fancy hotels back east. “Evening gentlemen.”

Amil didn’t say anything at first, just locked eyes with the elf holding a sawed off twelve gauge and smiling like some damn alley cat. He looked around taking note of everyone he saw and there at the back, by the wagon tailgate, he saw the one he’d come for. Then he turned to the elf with the shotgun and smiled with one corner of his mouth poking up while speaking.

“Evening, we smelled the meat cooking while riding by and was hoping you might be hospitable with some of it sir.”

“That meat does sure smell sweet. Yep, we took two big bucks back this afternoon, but we got a few people who’ll be eating here in a minute, so I don’t think there’s enough to go round boys.” Bearclaw remarked kindly with his smile.

“Oh come now mister. You gonna turn out a group of hungry men when you got all that deer meat just roasting on the spit.” Buckshot spoke up.

“I don’t mean be impolite gents, but we got enough to feed our crew and no more. You know how it is right?” Bearclaw answered.

The Miners kept their horses still not backing out of the camp. The nice route wasn’t gonna work Amil figured, so it was down to forcing the situation. He wasn’t going back empty handed and his men moving in from behind would ensure that. So Amil leaned forward in his saddle putting his elbow on the horn while tipping his hat back to eye this queer little elf with a big shotgun. The smile disappeared from his face replaced with a snarl.

“All right mister, I ain’t into all this dancing with you so I’m gonna tell you how this is gonna go. We came for the silver haired one back there, you hand him over and you and your crew don’t get killed. You do anything that riles me, your fault, my fault, anyone’s fault, it don’t matter, and I’m gonna kill you and everyone in this damn camp, understand?”

“Is that so Amil?” Bearclaw replied. His own smile was gone now, and a growl was starting from deep down somewhere in his chest.

The leader of the lynch mob suddenly felt a small shiver run down his spine. The elf said his name, like he knew him or something, but before Amil could speak screaming suddenly came from behind the camp. It sounded like someone was getting killed, and then shooting broke out with small explosive sounds.

“I think you’re three boys you sent round back just ran into some trouble.”

The last from the elf tweaked Amil something fierce…something mighty fierce.

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Tha cattle trail was old, the ruts and hoof prints slowly fading with the new growth of grass. It was about ten feet wide cut out of the high grass and trees. They walked softly beside the trail choosing each and every step carefully. Panner was in the lead, Amil’s second in charge of the Deep Hole Mine operation. The troll was as wide as a wall it seemed, and behind him was Amil’s other troll. Sifter was Panner’s big brother but he sure didn’t act like it backing down from Panner all the time. Both carried old Army Paterson’s just like Amil. The only odd one was Virgil, who so happened to bring up the rear in this quiet bush whacking procession. He was a human like Amil, but that’s where the similarities stopped. Old Virg only thought of himself and himself only, everyone else could go hang, which is why he carried that old .22 converted Colt. He wasn’t about to shoot someone and kill em…might get him hung. And he made sure everyone around him understood this.

“Hey, you boys hear something?” Virg whispered.

“Yeah, your mouth. Shut Up!” Sifter hissed.

Virgil fell silent at the command. It was best not to rile Sifter. The three walked along easy and silent a few more feet until something cut through the air right to them.

zzzzZZZZZZ – POP!

Panner looked down at the sudden sting in his left leg and behold if there wasn’t a small stick poking right out of his pants…right out of his leg. Then Panner saw the fletching on the end and recognized the stick was an arrow.

“Aww hell!” Virgil whispered seeing the arrow now too.

The troll let out a loud scream of pain then, a yell so loud it made Sifter and Virgil jump and all three started to scatter for the trees and high grass.

zzzzZZZZZZ – POP!

A second arrow hit Panner perfectly right in the side of his flabby butt as he danced for cover. He let out a second howl before disappearing behind a pine on the right side of the trail. Sifter and Virgil made it too the left hiding out in the tall grass, eyes scanning over the open ground as darkness was coming. The trail fell silent, nothing moved but the grass swayed by the breeze. The whole thing unnerved Virgil to the point he turned to his partner Sifter and whined in a low voice.

“Aww damn, it’s that Injun-Elf! He’s out there…He’s gonna scalp us Sifter!”

“Shut Up!”

“I’ve come to like my hair! It’s mine and I’d like to keep it. Say, you think he’s sneaking up on us right now?”

“If you don’t shut up that injun elf is the last of your damn worries!” Sifter spat rolling off his back to his side facing Virgil.

In fact, the injun elf had all ready moved because out of no where he struck again.

zzzzZZZZZZ – POP!

“Yaaaaaaaaa MAMA!” Sifter screamed out as an arrow struck home in his left flank with a meaty thwack.

Well that was it, all old Virgil wanted, and he was about to take off when Panner beat him to the punch. The troll was running for it shooting like crazy blindly over his shoulder and screaming, the arrow in his butt bouncing up and down with each step keeping in perfect time. Then Sifter was up and gone leaving Virgil by himself and that was really it. He jumped up and started off after the troll brothers while yelling out for his life and his hair.

“Oh don’t scalp me…please don’t scalp me…ples-“

zzzzZZZZZZ – POP!

The arrow slammed into Virgil’s right cheek causing him to scream out.

“AaaaaaaaaaOwwwwwww!”

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Buckshot was just starting to figure it out. These elves were smart and cagy. They let them walk right into their camp and it was only now he was catching on. They, Amil’s crew, was all bunched up, and funneled in tight against each other. A bunch of damn sitting ducks just waiting to get shot. He could see the ones they were supposed to see, the one out front doing the greeting and the ones all spaced out just to the right and left of the group. Those old boys didn’t scare Buckshot, it was the ones he couldn’t see but knew was out there in the shadows. The ones hid down in that wagon. Yep, they walked right into a trap he figured looking over and speaking up.

“Amil…”

The big miner didn’t turn to look at Buckshot. He kept his eyes locked with Bearclaw as the pistoleer growled with a shake of his head. “I don’t know about this crew of yours Gentry, they seem real skittish, don’t have the insides for gunwork it seems.”

“Amil…” Buckshot spoke up louder trying to stop what he knew was coming.

Bearclaw had em backing down, all but the big man Amil. He had seen eyes like that before, hell he saw em in the mirror every time he looked at himself there for a while way back when. And he knew those eyes meant Amil was going to push this…push it till one of them was dead. Bearclaw had no intention of dying and he made that clear one last time.

“All right Amil you no good back shooter, I’m gonna tell you how this is gonna go from now on. You do anything that riles me, your fault, my fault, anyone’s fault, it don’t matter, I’m gonna blow you damn head off, understand?”

It didn’t work…the eyes told Bearclaw so…

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He sat in the wagon thinking about a photo he saw for sale in a mercantile once in Djunsland. The Army had cornered a small group of Maquis in a farmhouse and killed them in a bloody shootout. They put the bodies up on display, lined up in coffins with glass lids, faces all painted. It made him sick to see that picture…

And now there was Skywise’s face in that glass…

All painted…

Dead.

Eyes high was lying next to him, in his arms, chanting her son’s name with each shaky exhale. He remembered the day Skywise was born, the exact hour and minute. Shale could remember holding him when he was so small and fragile, holding him when he cried and needed to be protected. He remembered playing with him one last time before they left for the frontier…one last time so long ago. He and Eyes High had rolled a ball to him and he rolled it back, a big red one that made his son laugh so loud…so carefree.

All painted…

Dead.

“Skywise…” Eyes High whispered.

“Please be safe…” He finished pulling her tight.

Then someone fired a gun and they just screamed as the world erupted in one explosion after another.

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

Rainflower


Libra Snake
Posts : 667
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Age : 32

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptyThu Oct 15, 2020 3:50 pm

Wiseshaman, how wonderful to see you here, and how awesome to have some story post again Hug I'm so happy!!!
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Wiseshaman

Wiseshaman


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PostSubject: Day Six - Part Fourteen   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptySun Nov 01, 2020 11:39 pm

Glad to make your day there Rainflower

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


Day Six - Part Fourteen



An old fashioned shoot out happens, but you knew it had too...


“Amil.”

He wasn’t listening, just staring at that elf with the greener, just staring and hating that face and those pointed ears with everything he had inside.

“Its time to see this done you yellow son-of-a-bitch!” Bearclaw growled one last time…one last dig.

There was no choice.

Not one Amil Gentry could live with.

He wasn’t backing down like some yellow-bellied coward to some elf.

So Amil went for the Army Paterson on his hip, made his fate with a snap of his hand and arm. He got his fingers on the handle, just like Joe Whitmore had done years before with Bearclaw, and started to pull the gun. At the same time, he saw Bearclaw drop the shotgun barrels from pointing at the sky to aiming right at his head and then it just all came to an abrupt end. There might have been a flash as the barrels roared to life, but nobody was gonna be asking Amil Gentry if he saw it.

No one would be asking Amil Gentry much of anything ever again.

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Cutter stood quietly out of sight behind his tree figuring up the distance between his father and Amil. It looked to be fifteen feet give or take a foot. Dart loaded the shotgun with one aught buckshot, not the biggest load you could throw in the twelve gauge, but big enough to put a man down. He guessed the spread pattern at the close range would be just the size of a man’s head, give or take two fingers.

The Major heard his father give one last word to Amil with a growl, one last push, and then it began. The Miner went for his hog leg and Bearclaw brought the barrels of the shotgun down on him.

Cutter saw the snarl on Amil’s face for a split second, and then it was gone.

The spread from both barrels hit Gentry square just below the Adams apple, right into the spot where the neck and the chest meet. The force of the blast removed most everything except bone from that point up and slammed the Miner backwards. The rope tying Amil to his saddle held tight and his legs stayed in the stirrups as he fell back onto the haunch of the horse dead as a doornail. His arm flipped up throwing the Army Paterson out into the night as Dale his horse went crazy from the loud noise. The brown Quarter horse started to scream and buck and kick in the air with its front legs fighting to get away.

That’s when the gunfight really broke out Cutter decided, that’s really when the lead started to fly.

He popped out from behind the tree with his Dragoon and fired the first shot quick without really aiming. You didn’t need to with the way the Miners were bunched up in that homemade fence. Skywise and Dart did the same across from him, drawing their guns and opening up into the mass. Cutter saw Longbranch step out and start to fire the Spencer. His father tossed down the empty shotgun, took a step back away from the wild horse, and drew both Dragoons with his usual cross pattern draw and started to fire. For a second or two or three at the start the elves had the drop on the miners, firing into them with abandon not having to aim or nothing.

The blanket covering the top of the wagon got tossed back now as Nightfall rose to her knees firing her trusty Winchester. Crescent did the same leveling Joyleaf’s Colt and squeezing the trigger easy like her father had taught her. Joyleaf joined in too, but she stayed low in the wagon firing over the top of the side.

Yep, Cutter knew they’d have the advantage at the outset, and just as he figured it would change in a blink. The Miners got themselves under control and started to fire back at them, and with a lot better aim then Cutter had estimated. Even injured most of the Miners drew down and started returning fire. At first everything the miners shot went wild into the trees and dirt, but then a round slammed into the tree Cutter was hiding behind and then two of elves went down back to back.

Now the fight was really starting…

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With all his ammo spent in his Colt Dart ducked behind a tree just as a slug bounced off the trunk and he went for the backup pistol ticked into his belt at his back. He pulled the Schofield and spun away from his cover firing once before he heard a scream from behind. Dart turned back into the tree for protection just in time to see Scouter spin from getting hit and jump back behind another tree for cover. The deputy’s gun spun in mid-air and dropped to the ground just a few feet away. Dart looked to the gun then across the camp to Longbranch and Cutter, and saw a round went right through the lawyer’s leg with a pop. Cloth from the pants floated up, and maybe a fleshy piece of Longbranch too, and seem to hang in the air as he fell back into the cover of the trees dropping the Spencer to the ground.

Then one of the Miners yelled out above the din of all the guns. “Fire at the wagon! Shoot the damn wagon!!”

Ah hell, two guns down and now they were going to shoot up the wagon. Dart didn’t think, he didn’t have time to. He just jumped out from behind the tree and rolled at Scouter’s gun as a round screamed by. He grabbed it with his left and without any control Dart spun falling on his butt while firing both guns. His thumbs cocked the hammers back, one after the other, as he fired into the miners.

Another yell went up, this one very recognizable. It was the loud yell of a Native, their thunderous battle cry, and just off to the side Dart saw someone come running out of the dark right at the back members of the Miners.

Get em’ Red! He thought emptying both pistols.

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Joyleaf heard what one of the Miners yelled out.

She knew what was coming, but before she could even move an inch Nightfall went to work with her rifle.

The sight of her father going down scared her. It made her heart jump right into her throat. And it made Nightfall start to aim right for each man. Her first shots were just random, shooting into the mass and not at a person, but that all changed when Longbranch dropped. The Miners were moving, jumping around, and she still hit her target. She shot the arm of one poor soul as the material of his coat exploded in a puff of material and another rocked back as she hit him square in the shoulder with another round. The only problem, what she had failed to realize, was she was using the usual load of gunpowder or grain for her bullets she used in her shows. What Cutter called a ‘small load’, and with this small amount of gun powder the bullets didn’t hit with the same force or damage. It was a small error, she rarely shot at humans or trolls, but it was enough to help the Miners. Each hit didn’t knock her target down, didn’t seem to hurt them much, and then the Winchester was empty and so was Crescent’s pistol. They didn’t get a chance to reload or even duck because Joyleaf was on top of them both driving down to the bed of the wagon behind the makeshift dirt wall.

“Get down you two!”

The wagon started to pop and snap as round after round slammed into the old wood.

Then there was a loud snap, something smashing through the wood of the wagon, and Joyleaf let out a yelp of pain rolling down to the other wall, by Nightfall and Crescent’s feet gasping in pain.

“Joyleaf’s hit!” Crescent screamed reaching down and grabbing her friend’s hand.

“Pull her up!” Nightfall yelled back.

The two pulled Joyleaf up between them as the wagon slowly disintegrated around them.

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His Schofield emptied fast, as fast his thumb would work the single action hammer, and when that pistol was done Skywise went for the hideout he took everywhere. The small over/under derringer held two .45 shells and the Captain used both firing in rapid succession. The weight of the smaller gun made the derringer kick hard and after it was empty Skywise dropped it by his foot. He broke the breach on the Schofield and started to reload the chamber as fast he could.

One bullet in.

Two in.

On the third a large round from one of the Miners hit the tailgate of the wagon with a loud crack sending a shower of splinters into the side of the Captain’s face. In an instant he was blind. Skywise didn’t let go of his pistol. The training in the Army kicked in and he held tight to the grip of the Schofield while stumbling away from the wagon. A bullet winged past and Skywise made one last dive for the spot where he thought the trees would be getting to cover. He lay still trying to clear his head and vision as the fight went on all around him.

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The recoil from the shotgun barely fazed him as Bearclaw tossed it to the ground and drew his Dragoons calmly. He fired into the first man he saw after dodging the bucking horse Amil rode in on. The Miner screamed and jerked back on his reins pulling the horse backwards into the other humans as Bearclaw fired again.

And again…

And again…

He didn’t see his bullets hit, and he didn’t need to. This was Bearclaw’s element and he thrived in it. He was back in Resolute, back in that barn with the McCanles gang…back to living!

Bearclaw laughed loud and hard as his pistols roared reveling in the fight.

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Shale held onto Eyes High as she jerked from every loud report of every shot. He squeezed her to him, covered her with his body to keep her safe, and all he could think of was Skywise. He made sure his wife was safe as the blanket went back and the shooting grew into a cacophony of noise that hurt their ears.

His son was out there in the middle of this hell he thought.

“Skywise,” He whispered as the first rounds started to hit the wagon and dirt.

He saw the lady that saved him, and her sister, lying next to them holding each other screaming in Spanish as the bullets hit. They screamed in unison words he didn’t know the meaning too and just stayed down out of sight.

“Skywise!” He yelled the bullets started to come faster.

The girls at the end of the wagon yelled out Joyleaf was hit.

The bullets seemed to pick up pace even more.

“SKYWISE!” Shale bellowed, the image of a red ball flashing through his mind.

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After the two trolls and the human ran off Redlance sprinted back to the camp and got there just as both sides opened up. He didn’t hesitate, just ran right to the rear of the group of Miners screaming out loud with a war cry just as he reached them.

“Aii…Aiii!”

He saw the last rider trying to pull his horse backward away from the fight instead of paying attention to what was coming at him from his right. Redlance pulled his Bowie knife and spun it in his hand while on the run so the blade ended up pointing down from his grip.

Then the human turned and saw him running right for him, alerted by the war cry.

The Miner raised his pistol and fired while screaming in terror, the shot going at least two feet wide of Redlance. The tracker hit the fallen tree with one step still running all out, and launched across the opening right into the rider landing just behind him on the saddle. The Miner yelled out, wailed, as Redlance grabbed the reins of the horse in one hand while he reached over and hooked the Miner’s shoulder with the knife.

“Oh Damn! He’s Got Me! The Injun Elf’s Got ME!!!”

Redlance pulled hard on the reins making the horse spin right while shifting his weight with the knife hand. Just as he anticipated the Miner dropped his gun, let go of the reins, and grabbed at the knife hand to try and keep from getting cut.

And then all three were heading to the ground.

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Cutter didn’t wait for his Dragoon to empty. He took off after the Spencer rifle Longbranch dropped firing the last round from his pistol with his left hand while grabbing the rifle with his right. With the reflexes of a practiced gun hand he jerked the Spencer up off the ground and while it seemed to hang in mid-air he reached back with his right hand taking hold of the stock while the left simultaneously dropped the pistol and grabbed the fore grip of the Spencer. Cutter was shooting, emptying the rifle before he had come to a stop kneeling by Longbranch.

“RELOAD!” He yelled holding out his hand.

Two bullets flew by, one creasing Cutter’s old Calvary hat, as the lawyer handed over one of the reload tubes in his pocket. The Major opened the hole in the butt stock and slammed home the reload tube ignoring the incoming munitions. He chambered a new round, raised the Spencer ready to fire, and stopped.

The Miners were running off, beaten and damn near killed.

Cutter lowered the rifle and watched choosing to let the humans go, choosing to let the fight end. There was no need for more death. His father gave one last bellowing laugh, two smoking pistols by his side, as the riders galloped away.

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Buckshot had been hit twice, both times in the same leg, and his boot was filling up fast with his own sauce. He fired his Spencer into the side of the wagon watching pieces of the wood sides splinter and fly off from the impact. At least they drove those damn bushwhackers down and out of sight, but the ones on the ground were picking them apart and in a second they’d be done for. He finished off the rounds in his rifle and started to fight with his horse, spinning the beast around in the tight confines, trying to fight his way out while screaming. He was damn sure not going to die here, tonight.

“Ride Off Boys!! Get The Hell Out-“

A bullet grazed his shoulder and busted through his coat with a loud snap. Buckshot growled and kicked his horse to get the damn thing moving when he saw the Injun-Elf come out of the dark and jump up on Biscuit Head’s horse. Old Buck didn’t try to shoot that injun-elf, he didn’t have a round left in his pistol or rifle and all he really wanted to do was get the hell out of there anyway. The horse finally responded to all the kicking and dashed for the open range, as did most of the desperate shot-up Miners. As Buckshot rode past he saw the injun-elf pull old Biscuit Head and his horse right onto the ground with a plop. The pair damn near got trampled by the others bolting for the open range and their lives, including Dale.

The horse ran on at a full gallop into the night away form them, bucking and a kicking, with Amil dead as hell still sitting in the saddle all bent back. It was the last time he saw either the horse or the dead rider, and frankly Buckshot didn’t care. He looked over his shoulder to see the others riding with him, some wouldn’t last the ride back to Silver Springs, some wouldn’t survive the night.

And again, Buckshot didn’t really care.

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The tracker kept hold of the Miner long enough to stay on the horse’s back until the beast was falling, then just before all three hit the ground he kicked clear trying to land on his feet with a roll, but Redlance’s wet moccasins slipped on the horses side and the roll turned into a flop for the tracker. His injured ribs flared with white hot pain and he screamed as the Miner slammed to the ground just a foot or two away followed by the kicking horse. The man could have shot Redlance right then and there if he had his gun, dead between the eyes, because the tracker was too busy trying to get air back in his lungs. Yet the Miner froze when going eye to eye with Redlance, a look of sheer terror on staring back at the tracker.

“Ahhhh! The Injun Elf!!!”

Even with the pain, and the fact the human didn’t have his gun, Redlance knew he was in trouble because of his ribs. He crawled away from the human as fast as he could just as the Miner was up and running for his life away from the tracker. The other Miners bolted around Redlance barely missing him as they spurred their horses hard to get away from the camp and the death trap. He was bounced around, kicked once or twice, causing his ribs to throb with even more pain, but then it was calm and Redlance watched gasping for breath as the last of the Miners rode off. He sat on the ground leaning up against one of fallen trees used to hem the humans in trying to catch his breath.

He watched the last Miner run off still screaming and hoped like hell he never saw the man ever again.

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The shooting had stopped.

That was the first thought that came to Leetah as she let go of a quaking Shenshen and looked up over the small dirt wall. There was a fog over the whole camp, a lazy hazy cloud that smelled of burnt gunpowder. The men who had ridden in and shot up the wagon were gone, but so were the ones who should have been there on the ground, covered by that white cloud.

She didn’t see the Major at first and Leetah felt a twinge of fear.

“Major?” She called out cautiously as the others started to stir.

There was no answer, only the silence and that cloud.

Shale next to her screamed out for Skywise and jumped out of the wagon in a flash while Leetah looked around feeling panic take hold. During the shootout when all the bullets were hitting the dirt and wagon, she wasn’t all that scared.

She didn’t know why.

She just wasn’t scared, until now.

“MA-“ Leetah started to yell again as the panic squeezed her like a fist.

Then Cutter was there, face to face, his arm over the wagon’s side holding him in place as his blue eyes locked with hers. “Are you hit? Please tell me you’re not hit?”

But Leetah couldn’t say a word. She was so happy to see those blue eyes, to happy to smell his sweat, and to happy that he was alive to say a single word. She just threw her arms around his neck and squeezed as she felt his one arm wrap around her.

“Te quiero a mi Mayor! (I love you my Major) Leetah whispered one time before breaking down and crying as he held her.

“It’s okay Rose. I’ll always be here. I love you too much to leave.” He whispered back hoping it would help.

But it only made her squeeze harder.

Then everyone was screaming about being hurt and the two had to break from their embrace, even though they didn’t want to.

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It was over, well the shooting was, but the fear that gripped Shale wasn’t about to go away. He sat up as soon as he heard the Hidalgo girl move and call out. Eyes High raised up next to him looking around with a worried scared look.

“Where’s Skywise?” She whispered.

And when there was no answer, he knew his son was dead. Shale jumped to his feet ignoring the pain in his side where the strange healing still left him sore as he yelled out for his son.

“SKYWISE?”

He leaped out of the wagon with a quick jump barely missing the Major who ran up to check on Rose. Shale heard Eyes High yell out for her son as he stopped and scanned around frantically looking for any sign of the Captain.

“Skywise!”

There was no answer and Shale started to feel his legs go weak. He couldn’t see the big red ball anymore in his mind. The memory was gone. He couldn’t hear the care free laughing anymore either. And, Shale thought in panic, he wasn’t even around long enough to make another memory. Shale couldn’t stop the thoughts. He just stood still lost in fear and panic while his wife screamed out again.

“SKYWISE?”

There was that picture again, the coffin with the glass and the painted face of his son staring back. Then someone moved behind the wagon and Shale instantly recognized his son’s coat. He took off in a sprint on wobbly legs as Skywise sat up shaking his head. Shale didn’t slow a step as he slid and fell by his son’s side grabbing him in a fierce hug and babbling.

“Are you okay? Are you hurt?”

“I’m okay...I can see now…I’m okay.” Skywise whispered letting his father hold him.

The Captain’s head hurt and his eye too. Damn, he thought, almost lost it.

Shale just knelt there holding Skywise crying. His son was alive…alive.

“SHALE?” Eyes High yelled out, her vice cracking.

“HE’S ALIVE! HE’S ALIVE!” Shale called back, answering his wife and thanking the High Ones at the same time.

The words broke the grip of panic that had stopped her heart and froze her legs. She couldn’t move, but now with it gone Eyes High couldn’t hold back her tears either. She started to cry hard clutching her chest and thinking she wouldn’t have lived if her son was gone this from her again. She looked skyward and whispered a small prayer to the High Ones.

“Scouter’s Down!” Dart yelled form the left side in the trees.

Cutter barely had time to turn when Crescent was calling out from the end of the wagon where she was starting to get up. “Joyleaf’s hit!”

“What?”

“I’m okay, just got some splinters in my hip and butt. How’s your Pa?” Joyleaf groaned sliding up on the dirt wall.

The Major barely got his head turned before Bearclaw was climbing into the back of the wagon with his wife. He quickly pulled her into his lap holding her close while whispering low. “Damn, don’t look to bad but it probably hurts like hell.”

“I’ll make it through my love. I always do.” Joyleaf whispered back reaching up and stroking his cheek.

“And I’m gonna get you through it!” Bearclaw stated unbuttoning his waistcoat and sash.

“Scouter’s bleeding pretty bad, we need Rose!” Dart called out.

“Si, I am coming to you!” Leetah yelled as Cutter helped her from the back of the wagon.

“Where’s Papa?” Nightfall asked with worry jumping out of the wagon.

Cutter let go of Leetah letting her run to Dart’s side before turning back to get Shenshen, all the while talking to Nightfall. “He’s over by the trees. I think he took one in the leg.”

“Papa!” She screamed just as Crescent jumped down.

From out the shadows of the trees Longbranch hobbled, stepping slowly and gingerly on his left leg. “I’m up, my leg’s not broke, I think.”

“Mr. Longbranch!” Crescent yelped running to him right behind Nightfall.

The country lawyer put an arm around his daughter as he started to sit down. Crescent took the other arm setting him down gently. They both noticed his pants leg was soaked with blood and it scared them for a moment, but they didn’t show it. Nightfall looked over to Cutter with a gasp.

“We need Rose too.”

Leetah turned to Shenshen giving out a quick order right before getting to Dart and Scouter. “Marisol, help Senor Longbranch while I look at Scouter.”

“Si,” Shenshen answered then ran to the lawyer.

Cutter jumped up into the wagon to check on his mother and watched as his father rolled up the sleeves on his shirt. “I need some bandages and a pair of grippers from the medical kit that’s in my saddle bag.”

“You carry a medical kit? Why, in case you get shot?”

“Son, the day I get shot I won’t need a medial kit. I’ve always kept one for my loved ones, the people who stay close to me.”” Bearclaw explained.

The Major only nodded understanding what his father implied, jumped down from the wagon, and ran back to the horses as Leetah knelt by Scouter. She could see his shirt was red with blood and as Dart moved his hand away from where he was pressing to stop the bleeding the entry hole from the ball looked ugly. She lifted him with Dart’s help causing Scouter to wince, but she noticed there was no exit wound. Leetah smiled reassuring the young elf everything would be okay.

“The bullet hit the bone Senor and I need to take it out. Do you have a small knife?”

Dart reached into his pocket and pulled out small pen knife his father gave him when he took the job as a deputy, whispering low as he handed it over. “He’s gonna be okay, isn’t he Rose?”

“Si, he will be fine, only his shoulder may be sore for some time.”

“Sure, as long as I don’t bleed to death…don’t want to make Ma or Dewshine sad you know.” Scouter said breathing hard.

She just smiled again and then leaned in to start to remove the bullet. Dart took Scouter’s other hand in his and put his knee across the elf’s shoulder. “It’s gonna be okay son, Rose ‘ill have you patched up real quick.”

The deputy gave a nod as Cutter came back holding a folding leather tri-fold. He gave it to his father and then jumped down to check on the others. Bearclaw unfolded the leather pocket then turned to his wife. “All right my lady, I need to take your britches down.”

“In any other situation I would love to hear you say that.” Joyleaf laughed as her husband began to unbutton her pants.

“Wait, I’ll hold up a blanket up to give her some privacy.” Eyes High spoke up while sliding over. She quickly picked up a blanket and screened off Joyleaf form the others while watching the tender care Bearclaw took to helping his wife.

“Thank you kindly…” Bearclaw said giving the pants a jerk. There were several nice sized splinters in Joyleaf’s hip and flank, but nothing life threatening. Bearclaw gave a small prayer for thanks as he pulled out a small knife and large tweezers from the tri-fold.

The Major ran by Skywise who only waved from his father’s arms that he was okay before dropping down by Leetah. She was cutting open the hole, slicing away the damaged flesh with the sharp pen knife, and working as fast as possible. Scouter groaned but held as still as possible while she worked, which impressed Cutter as Leetah was every ounce as good as an Army Surgeon. Maybe not as good as Doc Rain, but sure enough close. There was definitely more to the Rose then everyone knew, but then she had the bullet out dropping the lead ball into his hand.

“Take this away.” Leetah ordered going back to work.

She touched the wound intending to check and make sure it was clean when she felt it happen again, that strange feeling. Her hand that was touching the wound started to glow, only this time not as strong as with Shale and the wound began to heal. Just as before Leetah couldn’t stop it, it just took over and sapped her of any remaining strength she had. Scouter gasped from the strange energy, and squeezed Dart’s hand hard, as the wound stopped bleeding beneath Leetah’s hand. There wasn’t enough time to finish the work though as Leetah gave out a small cry and fell into Cutter’s arms unconscious. Dart and Scouter looked on as he cradled her gently and lovingly, even brushing a piece of her hair away from her face.

“Is she all right?” Scouter whispered rubbing the small sore hole in his shoulder. The bleeding had stopped, but there was still an opening, a visible scar.

“Yeah, she just wore herself out is all.” Cutter whispered holding her tight to him letting her head rest in the nook of his neck.

Across the camp, with the smoke disappearing finally, Shenshen finished up on Longbranch’s leg. She poured some water from a canteen over the wound to clean it out after using a knife Crescent gave her to slice open the material of the pants. The leg was already starting to bruise and the hole looked ragged with pieces of cloth stuck to the edges. Longbranch laid back with his head in Crescent’s lap grimacing with pain as Rose’s sister worked picking out the debris, every touch a hard shock of pain. The bleeding had slowed with pressure from Nightfall’s hands, and now there was nothing to do but pack the wound and cover it.

“We need to pack the wound Senor. This is going to hurt, badly.” Shenshen said calmly trying to prepare the lawyer.

“It already hurts ma’am, you just do what you have to do.”

“Si,” Shenshen replied admiring the toughness Longbranch showed.

“Pa…I need to go find Redlance.” Nightfall said quickly.

“Hell yes, go get him, and make damn sure he’s in one piece!” Longbranch grunted as Shenshen began to wrap the wound.

Nightfall kissed her father’s forehead as Crescent spoke up. “I’ll take care of him while you’re checking on our betrothed.”

She nodded to her sister and then stood up turning to leave the camp, but before she took a step she called out. “Cutter, I’m gonna go find Redlance.”

“Damn, did anyone see Red?” Cutter asked quickly.

“Yeah, he jumped right in the middle of the miners…” Dart answered letting the last tail off to silence.

The look on Nightfall’s face said it all. She felt her heart slowly inch up her throat again, just like a minute or two before, crawling along as every possible ‘bad’ thought came to her. The look also gave Cutter some worry, but he was busy holding Rose and couldn’t move.

“Captain!”

Skywise didn’t need to hear the rest of the order. He just got up with the help of Shale as Nightfall ran toward the edge of the camp looking for her love.

“Nightfall, wait!” Skywise yelled out worried one of the Miners, or more, might double back and start shooting again. He was worried about the tracker now too, but it wasn’t gonna help getting shot!

“I’ll go with you!” Shale exclaimed running behind his son refusing to be away from Skywise after the shootout.

The trio ran out where the Miners had been, but there wasn’t a soul there now, and as the sun set making the dark deepen Nightfall’s heart crawled right into her mouth.

“REDLANCE!” She screamed as loud as she could.

The plea echoed over the open field, but nothing answered Nightfall back until Shale touched her shoulder and pointed just off to the north. There, running up with a Grey App in tow, was her love. Nightfall didn’t wait and just ran to meet him, ran into his arms as he dropped the reins and took her into a hard hug. The two stood still as he whispered in her ear.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes, I’m okay and so is Crescent, but Pa took a hit in the leg.”

Redlance took a step back, the elated expression on his face giving way to fear, but she quickly stepped in to reassure him. “He’ll be fine. Marisol is taking care of him. But you, are you okay?”

“I landed on my ribs…but I’m okay to ride.”

Nightfall stepped to the side, put her arm around his waist, and guided him back to the camp as he led the App in with him. “Not tonight. Scouter went down and so did Joyleaf. We’re resting the injured, and that means you too!”

“Yes ma’am,” Redlance said putting his arm around her shoulder as they approached Skywise and his father.

“Another horse Red, what are you doing, collecting them now?” Skywise laughed. He stopped when he saw the blood on the side of the saddle and down the horse’s flank.

The tracker looked back out on the prairie and then back to the Captain. “The rider went down out there somewhere. I saw the horse come back and figured it wouldn’t be right to leave him out here. I didn’t see the body.”

The four stood in silence before Nightfall spoke up with a voice that was strong and determined. “What happened tonight is done. I’m not sad for protecting all of us, none of us should be.”

Redlance smiled at his love feeling her strength flow through him and he nodded. “I’m not sorry for what happened either, just sorry for my loved ones who got hurt.”

“They’ll be okay Red, we’ll heal up. The important thing is we survived.” Skywise added.

“And those Miners won’t be back.” Shale said with a small smile.

“No, that they won’t sir.” Redlance remarked as the four headed into the camp.

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Out on the open prairie, just as the foothills to the mountain began, a single horse ran on as its master bounced up and down on its back. Dale didn’t like loud noises…never had. Now he ran on, frightened, trying to get away form all the loud noises and the thing that kept jumping around his back.

The lifeless body of Amil Gentry bounced with every buck and leap from Dale sending his arms flailing. And as each one hit the haunch of the horse it spurred the beast on to jump and buck and run faster.

The pair disappeared into the night, tied together in death as they were in life…

Three weeks later the Deep Hole mine was sold to one William ‘Buckshot’ Liddel as the former owner was missing and the claim put up for sale.

___________________________________________________
Dubbed Streaking ADD Cowboy of Awesome Sagas by KindredSoul and nibblet
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Last edited by Wiseshaman on Fri Jan 08, 2021 11:17 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Wiseshaman

Wiseshaman


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PostSubject: Day Six - Part Fifteen   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptyFri Jan 08, 2021 11:16 pm

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


Day Six - Part Fifteen


The Bounty Hunter finds a clue, Vaya has a revelation, and Raven meets an old friend...



The fire in the hearth burned with a nice glow as Rayek sat in the chair staring at the coals that were once logs. He was lost watching the embers going from red to grey, lost in his thoughts when Urda spoke up next to him.

“I guess you got a little more then you expected tonight huh?”

That was an understatement Rayek told himself.

Khavi was the usual riddle when it came to her answers over the beans and fried pork and it took all of the Bounty Hunter’s charm to get what he needed…

And when he heard the words it was like a punch to the stomach.

Please Senora, I need to know…just think.

Dave never said anything about who came and picked up the money handsome, I’ve told you that.

I know, but maybe just once he said something…something that you do not remember

He could still see her sitting there with the tin plate in her hand, mouth full of beans and sowbelly, with a look he couldn’t make out while shaking her left leg. She might have been thinking, or she might have been getting ready to pass gas, probably took the same amount of pressure and wiggling Rayek thought. Then Kahvi spoke up leveling the boom on him, like a hammer right between the eyes.

There was this one time...maybe nothing mind you.

No Senora, it may be something. What did Dave say?

Old Shem actually started it. Shem said he didn’t like us elves, we were too damn clean and pretty for his taste.

Why did he say that? Urda asked.

Shem fancied me and when I said no he kind-a-took it personal…

Oh

Please, can we get back to what Senor Dave said! Rayek spat.

All he said was once he met up with this Hidalgo elf that was plenty dirty, covered. Said he thought the old boy looked like a brown pig!

That’s rude! But, how did he know the elf was from the Hidalgo? Aroree asked with her plate sitting in her lap.

Nah, Dave never went near the Rancho, didn’t like the place my guess. I asked him where he seen this elf and he said on his pickup one time. He never said another thing about it after that.

Hidalgo elf?  Covered in dirt?

Was it dirt Senora? Rayek asked with a hollow tone in his voice.

Hell if I know, I didn’t ask too much since Dave was taking me to bed just after he said it

So Rayek sat there in that chair with a plate of beans and what was essentially fat bacon staring off into the wall. There was only one elf on the Rancho who he knew of who would be covered in ‘dirt’, and it wasn’t dirt. It was clay, the kind you used to make pottery.

It was Zhantee.

His friend had delivered money

“I heard what you did to that old boy Redwood.” Urda spoke breaking him out of the memory.

“You did?” Rayek replied poking at the fire with the iron tip.

“Yep, I was down south at the trading post and this fella who ‘scratched my itch’ told it to me while we was restin’”

“Ah, now I see where Senora Kahvi gets her colorful euphemisms.” Rayek said with a sigh.

“Well I could always call it fu-“

“No Senora,” the Bounty Hunter exclaimed cutting Urda off, “I like the colorful expressions so please, let us keep this civil.”

Urda shrugged before continuing. “He said you tracked Redwood for a month, a solid month, and when you caught up to him you shot him dead.”

“I did Senora, but only after he drew on me.”

“I guess it was pretty easy to shoot a man like Redwood. Any man who beats his kids almost to death and cuts up his woman deserves to meet his judgment at the end of some six gun.” Urda said starting to whittle. The shavings flew off, made a small flip in mid air, and landed perfectly in the fireplace.

Rayek didn’t answer her, just sat with the poker in his hand eyeing her trying to decide where she was going with this conversation. A sudden giggle sounded from the backroom where Kahvi and Aroree had disappeared to but he ignored it for obvious reasons.

“You seem like a good fella Rayek, solid head on you’re shoulders, and you’re pretty honorable even though it’s buried under all that arrogance. No sir, I’m kind of wondering what’s gonna happen when you find out what happened to your daddy.”

Well, well, maybe she knew what he was thinking. “I do not know Senora, but I will cross that bridge when I have to.”

Urda cackled with a hearty laugh before speaking, the knife never slowing on the chunk of wood she was cutting. “Son, you all ready got it all planned out. I feel sorry for whoever that boy on the Rancho names to satisfy you.”

“I will bring my father’s killer to justice.” Rayek stated flatly but it was hard to hide the emotion there.

“And what if it ain’t that easy?”

“What do you mean Senora?”

“I mean,” Urda whispered low leaning in close, “this world ain’t black and white Bounty Hunter. It ain’t up or down or left or right. It’s kind of sideways and grey.”

“You think there is more to my father’s death, Senora?” Rayek asked just as low as another giggle came out of the back room.

Urda smiled, if it was for what was happening in that room or for what she was about to say, he wasn’t sure. “I think for a fella like you everything has to add up, has to be either black or white to satisfy you. And I think if it don’t then you’ll get as lost as newborn foal without its momma.”

Rayek’s eyes slowly squinted and Urda knew she had hit a spot, struck a nerve in the Bounty Hunter, and now she was about to hit it with a ten pound hammer.

“I love that girl in there Rayek, just as if she were my own flesh and blood. She’s as wild as the wind on the prairie and as free as the hawk that flies over it. And I seen the way you look at her, probably the same way you looked at old Redwood right before you shot him. I know you got no respect for her, but she does for you for some damn reason I’ll never understand. So listen, if you drag her into something and can’t find your way out and she ends up getting hurt then that old shotgun’s gonna have some buckshot in it, understand me?”

The look wasn’t hate filled Rayek noted. It wasn’t angry. No, Urda just looked like an elf who would do just what she said she would do. If he got Kahvi hurt in this, and there was no chance at that, then he would have to look down the barrel of that shotgun…with it loaded. He only nodded signaling he understood. There were no words needed.

“Well then, with that said I’m gonna turn in. I have an early mornin’ with the kids up on the hill.” Urda remarked putting the knife and wood on the hearth.

“Kids on the hill?”

“Yes sir,” Urda said standing and stretching, “I help take care of the poor families up here in the hills, the ones just trying to survive. I help with the kids, be it elf or human or even troll. It’s what I do Bounty Hunter…well, night.”

Rayek only nodded watching her walk back to only other back room, which meant he had the whole run of the floor out here as a bed. It didn’t matter, he wasn’t going to get any sleep tonight anyway. He poked at the coals some more getting lost in his thoughts when a small hand touched his shoulder.

He was a little surprised to see Kahvi standing there. She smiled and nodded to the backroom where Aroree stood in only her shirt. “Come to bed, ain’t gonna do you no good to stay out here all alone with your thoughts.”

Rayek could have said no.

He didn’t.

In the end he didn’t want to be alone with just his thoughts, just like she said.

Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 Vignette-orig

White Raven reached the floor her room was on at the boarding house and walked right to her door. Her boots made a loud clack with every step until she reached the entrance to her room and stopped to turn the knob sending the hall into silence.

That’s when she heard it, the faint sound of someone taking a breath.

After the encounter in the street with the three yokels White Raven wasn’t in the mood to humor fools. Her hand slid inside the oiled duster touching the wood handle of the tomahawk hidden there against her hip. She slowly turned and looked down the hall peering into the dark there. Her fingers slid around the handle getting ready to lay anyone low coming at her.

And John Lee stepped right out of the shadow maybe four feet from her. Damn, she thought looking at him, how did he get that close? And just what the hell was he doing in Two-Moons?

“Evening Raven, are you planning on hitting me with your tomahawk?”

“That depends John, are you planning on doing something to me?”

“No ma’am,” John Lee said holding up his hands and wiggling the fingers, “I like my hands, especially attached to my wrist.”

White Raven smiled, even let out a small laugh at the jest, letting go of her tomahawk and dropping her defenses. “What are you doing in this small-town John? I thought back east was home for you.”

“Business,” John remarked with a grin stepping over to stand in front of her, “How is your uncle doing?”

“He’s fine. I never got to thank you for what you did about the men that night.”

“No thanks warranted. Men should learn to behave themselves around the fine china. I am glad to hear he’s doing well, as are you.”

Again, Raven smiled at the remark about fine china noting he meant her. “Uncle will be doing better once he gets out here.”

John’s eyes furrowed behind those dark glasses he wore, the ones Raven hated. “When he gets out here?”

“I bought some land just outside of town, we’re gonna make a go of it here John. It’s time to make a home and that won’t happen back East.” Raven explained.

The albino stepped even closer, to the point he was looking down into her eyes and his body blocked out the low light of the coal oil lamps in the hall. Most people at this point would have passed out from fear with having John Lee this close, the ones who knew about his reputation would have just dropped dead. Raven though felt as safe as anything at the moment. She just looked back up at him and grinned.

“Keep your eyes open Raven. There are things going in town you need to steer clear of, understand? The troubles of back east don’t always stay back east.”

Now it was Raven’s turn for her eyes to furrow at the remark. She knew it was useless to ask just what troubles he was referring to, that wasn’t going to be discussed. No, she was more intrigued by the fact John warned her. He seemed more like the kind to take care of the ‘problems’ for her, even more so if he was involved with the ‘problems’ and that’s what this felt like. And of course she was more than capable of protecting herself and if anyone knew this it would be John Lee Pettimore.

“I’ll do that John, but just why are you telling me this?”

Raven was waiting for an answer, and not his hand reaching up and pushing her hat off her head to where the windstrings caught it as it fell down her back. Her hair that she kept tucked in back and hidden caught the low light and seemed to gleam. She could see the red pupils of his eyes through the glasses and it was obvious he was making his point.

“Call it a professional courtesy.”

And then he was gone moving down the hall and down the stairs away from her. Raven turned to look but John was out of sight in the shadows again so she reached out and took holds of the knob for the door to her room. Still, she smiled and called out.

“John, do me a favor please.”

From the stairs and the dark there he called back. “Ma’am?”

“You be careful.”

A minute passed and she knew he was still there, just out of sight. “And why are you telling me to be careful?”

“Call it a professional courtesy.”

Now he was gone. Raven could sense it so she opened her door and stepped inside her room tossing her hat in the chair just inside the door.

Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 Vignette-orig

The steak was tender and really good.

She should have been enjoying it a little more, no, a lot more than she was.

Vaya cut another slice off and bit into the meat with a less than eager appetite as she thought back to the afternoon. After Picknose’s people left with the pick-up of shine they played several hands of checkers. The first two went fast and if they had been playing for money, she’d have been broke Pike was so good. He must have noticed how riled she was getting because the next two hands he began to lose on purpose. Pike started making stupid moves and not jumping her markers when he had them dead to right. It was so damn obvious he as throwing the games that she started to get more upset. What, did he pity her or something?

But then, she thought, on the other hand he hadn’t shown her one ounce of pity the whole damn day. He had treated her like an equal, from helping to make breakfast to loading that damn wagon for Picknose. So he was letting her win, but why, because he didn’t want her to go and get angry? Maybe it was because he wanted something…else? She bit into her thumbnail thinking hard about Pike, wondering if that’s what he really wanted, and not thinking a lick about the checkers game, which she won by the way. He cleaned off the board and just talked away as he set up for another go-round.

And that was something else she wasn’t use to. He could talk up a storm, to anyone! He didn’t say a disparaging word, not once, not even when that troll was giving him the run like nobody’s business. She finished with her thumbnail and moved onto the nail of her first finger chewing away, in deep thought, and not paying attention to what move she was making with the damn checker as the game wore on and she won…again. Vaya let out a sigh of frustration when Pike leaned back and spoke up.

“Well, we need to get supper. You want to take a walk?”

“Walk?” She asked back surprised.

“Yep, thought a nice piece of steak would be good with some fried corn?”

“Fried corn?

“Yep…so, you up for a walk?”

“All right.” Vaya answered thinking a walk would be a great.

Pike only smiled then turned around and grabbed two bottles of his second best from a spot by the kettle and a burlap sack that once held flour. Vaya let him take the lead by a step as the two took off walking through the woods, down the hill, toward some unknown destination. Homer followed in close step, panting like mad from the exertion. The late afternoon sun felt good on her back as the floppy hat held it out of her eyes, so much so that without thinking she took Pike’s hand in hers. They reached the halfway point down the foothills, or close enough Vaya thought, when they came up on another cabin with a large smokehouse out back.

“Hey Wilbur, you home?” Pike called out.

The door to the cabin opened and a human, kind of big and burly with a long beard, stepped out with a look that scared Vaya just a bit but didn’t seem to bother Homer. He looked like a wild mountain man as he reached down and scratched the dog’s ears. Then she saw a smaller person step out in just inside the door, a girl her size…an elf just like her with long blond hair that fluttered with the evening breeze. She was dressed in a chambray shirt and brown skirt holding an old teddy bear, worn out with one missing eye to her chest while petting a happy Homer with the other hand. Then she looked at Vaya, who looked right back, with suspicious eyes. Those blue eyes, they way they stared, reminded her of this one time when she was out on the road between Silver Springs and Two-Moons, when she happened on a deer. The animal looked up from where it was grazing on grass and locked onto her with a pair of cautious black eyes.

That same caution she saw in the girl.

“Evenin’ Lill, how are you doin?” Pike asked the elf with a large smile.

The small elf smiled back, the look of fear gone, and gave an even smaller wave before looking to Vaya again with those same cautious eyes. It took about two seconds for Vaya to make up her mind just how the girl ended up the way she did.

“Hey Pike, you here for some tradin’?”

“Yep, you got somethin’ to trade for?” Pike said with a sideways glance.

Vaya had seen that look to, it was the same one her mother did when she all ready knew the answer to a question. You asked it just to hear the other person say the words..

Wilbur squinted and smiled playfully at Pike before answering. “I may have some beef in the smoke house that you’d be interested in. Who’s you friend?”

Before Pike could answer Vaya shot Wilbur a vicious look. “Someone who doesn’t care to know you.”

The remark was scathing causing Pike to look at her like she was out of her mind. Old Wilbur just brushed it off and shook his head. “All right ma’am, what you got Pike?”

The shiner turned from Vaya losing his shocked expression for one of friendship. “Well, I got two jars of my second best. What’ll that get me?”

Wilbur hummed thinking while Vaya went back to looking at Lill. She waved at the girl but Lill just shrunk away from the gesture looking down to Homer, that look of caution getting just a bit bigger. And then Vaya saw a black spot on Lill’s arm, what looked like a faded bruise, and she got just a little angrier.

“Well…how about three thick steaks?”

“Sounds fair, you got any corn still?” Pike asked.

“Oh yeah,” Wilbur said with a small laugh, “I got plenty in the store bins. Lill likes eating it so I keep it on hand. You want say…ten ears?”

“Ten? What do you think I’m doing, feeding a logging gang here?” Pike laughed.

“No…but you can always use the extra for the mash, right?” Wilbur said with a wink.

Pike just laughed with Wilbur. Vaya just steamed in her anger.

The two kept on talking going to the smokehouse as she stood off to the side. There he was again, talking up a storm to anyone and everyone. It didn’t matter to him, from troll to woman beater, Pike would talk to anyone. After the pair came back from the smokehouse with burlap sack full Vaya still tried to communicate with Lill, but then gave up as the girl just wouldn’t step out of the doorway or wave to her. On the way back, after they were well away from Wilbur’s place and Vaya had both arms crossed over her chest, Pike finally asked what was wrong.

“So what was that back there?”

“Nothin, I just don’t get friendly with a man who beats a woman is all.” Vaya said curtly.

“Beats a woman, How did you rope that bull?” Pike asked with surprise.

“Aww, please, I know what these mountain people are like. I’ve lived long enough and seen enough to know he’s gonna drink up your shine and then beat on Lill and she ain’t gonna leave him cause she’s too damn scared!” Vaya spat.

Pike stopped dead on the trail causing her to stop. He looked hard at her before his eyes turned to a distant sadness. Vaya suddenly felt cold, like all the blood just ran out of her body.

He took two steps to stand in front of her and spoke just as calm as he did that morning to her. “Wilbur’s a carpenter Vaya, hell he built most of Two-Moons. He’s never been married, and I’ve never known him to go to the saloon looking for female company.”

Vaya didn’t say anything as Pike sure wasn’t finished. She kept quiet as he continued on looking at her with those sad eyes. “One night a long time ago he was riding home after working on something Longbranch asked his help with. He found Lill along side the road, bloody and beaten. He took her to Doc Rain and he saved her. Wilbur sat at her bed side for week before she woke up. He’s the only family Lill’s got Vaya, the only one she knows now.”

“Then…what’s he gonna do…with the shine?” Vaya stammered.

Pike smiled before speaking, like he was pulling back the blinders letting her see what was real, that he wasn’t trying make her feel small. “He’ll take the shine and sell it, to someone, and then take that money along with whatever he’s made for what work he could get and buy what he needs. Lill likes vegetables mostly so he’ll probably go to that Rancho and get her something from there to eat then he’ll go to Mrs. Moonshade’s and buy her what she needs from there. Wilbur don’t drink, not one drop as long as I’ve known him.”

And with that her cold feeling went right to her bones. Vaya looked down to the ground then slowly back in the direction of Wilbur’s. The whole time she was wondering how she could have made such a mistake; how could she have been that far off. When she turned back to say something, she wasn’t sure what, Pike was long gone up the trail, a good twenty feet. Vaya started off after him still lost in her thoughts. There was no hand holding this time, no warm feeling from the sun. The two cooked in silence too, Pike searing the thick steaks in one large skillet on a metal rack above the fire pit by the still while Vaya fried the corn she had cut from the cob in another iron skillet next to him. They didn’t trade one word.

They ended up sitting on the front steps to the cabin eating in quiet still while the sun dipped below the horizon, its last rays fading from the scene. Pike put his plate down and went inside to get his coal oil lantern and Vaya finally spoke, worn from the silence.

“Pike, you mad at me?”

He reappeared with the lantern, lit, and shook his head. “No, what makes you think that?”

“Well, you ain’t talking to me?”

“I ain’t got nothin’ to say right now. I’m too busy eatin’” Pike replied with his usual warm smile.

Vaya felt better just looking at the smile, felt less cold, but she knew this wasn’t done. Not by a long shot. She had to cross this bridge for better or worse. “I saw a spot on her arm, thought it was a bruise.”

“A spot…on Lill?” Pike asked chewing on hunk of meat.

“Yeah, a black one on her arm right here.” Vaya said pointing to her forearm with her fork.

“It was paint.”

“Paint?” Vaya asked with surprise this time.

“Yeah,” Pike answered swallowing some corn, “Lill’s been doing it for a while now, just picked up a brush one day and started. Wilbur told me he thinks she may have done something like it before, you know, what happened because she’s really good at it. He built her one of those contraptions that has three legs and holds up the frame and cloth for her. Lill does all the rest, mixes up the paints and just goes to town happy as a pig in mud.”

Vaya let out a little laugh feeling a little warmer. “Maybe one day she’ll show me something she’s painted?”

“Maybe, but you got to go slow with Lill. Took me a year before she waved back, but I don’t blame her. Hell, I wouldn’t wave back to me either.”

Vaya laughed hard at the last almost choking her last bite of corn. “Does she ever talk?”

“No. She did say a few words once when Wilbur found her. She mumbled ‘mama hit me’ to him before passing out.”

That cold feeling started to return as did the silence. Pike didn’t offer up another word on the subject as he tossed what was left of his steak out to Homer. The dog picked up the thick piece of meat and started to chew as Vaya finished her plate and set it to the side while speaking.

“Do you really think her ma hit her…did that to her?”

“Don’t know for sure, no one does and Wilbur ain’t gonna ask her. He ain’t one for digging up stuff that should stay buried.” Pike answered watching Homer eat.

A minute or two went by in quiet before Vaya spoke again after tossing Homer the left overs from her steak. “If you think it’ll be okay I’d like to walk back down to Wilbur’s again tomorrow and tell him I’m sorry.”

“I think Wilbur would like that, Lill too probably.”

Vaya just smiled and sat next to him on the steps as the night deepened. They talked about this and that and the other. She laughed at him and with him feeling that cold just ebb away. It was a warmth that she hadn’t experienced ever that she could recall.

“You know what the problem with the world is Vaya?”

“No, what’s the world’s problem Pike?”

“Too many people think they know everything cause they’ve lived a long life and supposedly seen it all. Truth is they ain’t seen nothing except the tip end of they’re nose. People like that can’t even take care of themselves much less someone else but they’ll be the first one in line giving out advice. It ain’t about seeing with just your eyes, but your heart too.”

Vaya smiled not minding the hidden meaning of the advice and nodded while offering her own. “And keeping your damn mouth shut.”

“That too!” Pike chirped before yawning.

“You ready for bed redneck?” Vaya asked playfully.

“That I am ma’am, that I am.” Pike answered getting to his feet.

The two stood up and proceeded into the cabin. Pike brought in the lantern and plates letting Homer trot through the door with Vaya. Once in she went right to the bed undoing her overalls getting ready to slide under the covers.

“You can have the bed Vaya, I’ll take the floor.” Pike called out giving the plates a quick wash in a bucket.

“We can share it. Hell, you already seen me naked, ain’t much else I got that’s a secret.”

Pike blushed at statement, and probably the memory of it Vaya thought, as he walked over to the side of he bed. She shucked out of the overalls leaving the shirt on and slid under the covers. Pike followed suit quickly doffing his pants before ducking under the quilt. They settled in, Vaya rolling onto her side facing him while he lay on his back. She reached out and put an arm on his shoulder while sighing.

“G’nite Pike.”

“G’’nite Vaya.”

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

Wiseshaman


Posts : 657
Join date : 2012-06-23

Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 Empty
PostSubject: Day Six - Part Sixteen   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptySun Jan 17, 2021 6:50 pm

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


Day Six - Part Sixteen



The Henry story comes to an end, but Elfwest will ride on for a long time to come...


Leetah sat back against the stack of saddles that Redlance had arranged for her with the blanket over her legs watching the others with a strange sense of admiration. Cutter sat next to her, his arm around her shoulders as she leaned in against his side. The rest of the party moved around the camp in a confused precision that amazed her. Brownberry had packed a saddle bag with coffee, flour, and a few tins of beans. Joyleaf complimented that with a large iron skillet, a large coffee pot, and a bunch of cups and plates. So now Skywise was checking on the coffee while Shale cut the roasted deer meat into strips that Eyes High piled onto plates. Nightfall and Crescent mixed up the flour with a small bit of water and salt to make drop biscuits in the iron skillet next to the frying beans. The tracker watched and turned the biscuits as they puffed making sure the small mounds of dough wouldn’t burn, as he did with the beans, yet some were not so sure of his ability.

“Now don’t burn the biscuits son!” Longbranch called out.  

The lawyer sat just to her right on a second set of saddles. His leg was propped up and bandaged, the sight making her feel a little guilty. She had healed Shale and Scouter, both up and moving, helping out with the supper. But after healing the deputy she passed out, overwhelmed by the power in her. Cutter held her and refused to let go, even when his own wound from the cabin shootout had re-opened. It took Redlance and Skywise both talking to him, pleading to just let her go long enough for Marisol to take a look. He finally gave in letting Redlance take her as her sister checked the wound. The Captain even wet a bandana and put it to Leetah’s forehead as Cutter sat watching. When the work was done, he moved quickly taking her back and cradling her till she woke.

Leetah looked down to her hands, part in wonderment and part fear. What was this power? Was it hurting her when it happened? Would it take her life if she used it too much? There were so many questions, even after the day when Rayek hit his head she still had so many questions.

“Stop it Pa, Redlance won’t burn the biscuits or the beans.” Nightfall laughed while handing a cup of coffee to Leetah.

“Hell, I don’t care about the beans.” He said with a shake of his head.

“It’s what comes later tonight after we eat the beans that worries me!” Joyleaf jabbed at the lawyer. She was lying between Bearclaw’s legs on her side as he sat back against a saddle holding her close.  

Nightfall only laughed taking a seat next to Leetah. “How are you doing Rose?”

“I am fine my friend.”

“You look a little lost…anything I can help with?”

Leetah only smiled at her friend deciding to keep her thoughts to herself as she looked over to see Crescent and Redlance cooking the beans and biscuits, laughing and enjoying themselves. “I am so happy for you Nightfall, and for Crescent. You three are so perfect together.”

“Thank you Rose, I’m just hoping we can have a wedding.” Nightfall said sipping on the hot coffee.

Leetah took a sip from her cup noting the brew was just right, not too strong or weak. She looked up to see Skywise filling the plates with beans and biscuits and roasted deer meat with Redlance’s help. Crescent and Shale passed out the plates while Eyes High handed out the cups and poured the coffee.

“I’m gonna eat till I pop!” Dart exclaimed taking a large bite of biscuit.

“No more popping Senor, please. I cannot take the noise.” Shenshen said taking a small bite of a biscuit.

“We’ll be all right Marisol. Those Miners ain’t coming back.” Dart replied after swallowing.

“Aw, those boys don’t concern me.” Joyleaf spoke up.

“They do not?” Shenshen asked.

“Nope, I’m more interested in hearing what kind of wedding our three lovebirds will have.”

“If we have one.” Crescent commented sitting down next to Nightfall.

“Can they have one Senor?” Leetah inquired as Cutter sat her plate down on his leg.

Everyone turned to Longbranch and he took a minute to answer after swallowing a spoonful of beans. “There’s no problem with Red marrying them, it’s just I’m not sure about both at the same time. I’ve known arrangements where one wife was through ceremony and one was through common law, but both through the same ceremony…I’m not sure.”

“It’s okay Mr. Longbranch, I don’t mind being Red’s common law wife if it comes to that.” Crescent remarked trying to sound strong.

“No, I won’t do that to you Crescent.” Redlance spoke up quickly with defiance.

“No, we won’t, you mean more than that to us Crescent!” Nightfall added just as defiant.

“Okay, thank you.” Crescent whispered blushing slightly.

“Is the problem because it’s the three of them?” Scouter asked before putting a spoonful of beans in his mouth.

“No,” Longbranch said shaking his head, “elves have been living in threes and sometimes four as long as I can remember, even back east. Hell, Brownberry and I have been in that special situation ourselves.”

“Really, I don’t remember anyone.” Nightfall responded.

The lawyer only smiled and winked at his daughter. “It was before you were born little one and I’ll never forget those days.”

Everyone laughed a little then Cutter asked his question. “So, if it’s okay with elf-kind what’s stopping the three of them from getting married at the same time?”

“It’s the law, or what’s in the code for Two-Moons. Even through we have three mates in our elven society the law may not recognize such a situation where all three take the vows together. Humans only recognize one marriage of ceremony at a time, but they can take as many common law wives as they want.” Longbranch explained.

“What about trolls?” Dart asked with a grin.

“If the dowry’s big enough then it’s all aboard the marriage train!” Bearclaw quipped swallowing a chunk of deer meat.

“So, if it’s on the books, even if it’s written in at the last minute, they can take the vows at the same time?” Shale asked chewing on a bite of biscuit.

“Ahh, now you’re thinking like a lawyer Mr. Shale.” Longbranch remarked with a devious smile then taking a sip of coffee.

“Then all we need to do is have Judge Timmain add a law to the town code stating we can take the vows together and we’re good.” Nightfall exclaimed.

“Yeah, that’s about it.” Longbranch said with a growing smile.

Crescent let out a small sigh at the news feeling so much better she couldn’t help but smile when Redlance reached over and took a chunk of meat off her plate. She turned to him and was about to say something when he put the meat in her open mouth with a swift plop. Nightfall laughed, as did the others, and Crescent giggled. She felt happy and warm, so much so she took a chunk of meat off the tracker’s plate and stuffed it home in his mouth with a jab. Again, everyone laughed. They finished the meal, stoked the fire, and traded storied of the past. Leetah snuggled into Cutter’s side letting her belly full of roasted meat and the smoke from the fire put her to sleep. Pretty soon they were all asleep…

All except for two.

Eyes High and Shale slept in each other’s arms, as did Bearclaw and Joyleaf. The pistoleer still held his love tight with her snoring gently against his chest. Cutter and Leetah were soundly sleeping wrapped together while Shenshen was stuck to Dart’s side, who snored peacefully under his hat. Nightfall and Crescent were cuddled together, which struck the Captain as odd because the tracker should have been between them sleeping like a log. Skywise looked over the camp, the fire had been stoked and fresh wood laid on it to burn, but no sign of Redlance. He rose from his spot by his parents and stood silently looking out to the dark of the night.

Skywise started out walking toward the road, out into the deep dark, that led to Silver Springs hoping to run into the tracker and not a felled tree. He was still hoping when a familiar voice cut through the dark his eyes were getting accustomed too.

“Don’t go any further or you’ll hit a tree.”

“Damn Red, how do you see in this?”

“Old injun trick!”

The Captain moved over to the sound of the voice finally picking out the shadow of Redlance sitting on one of the trees. “So, it can’t be the impending doom of the nuptials that has you up, something else bothering you?”

“The rifle.” Redlance answered.

“Is it the Henry, or is it Annie?” Skywise whispered sitting down next to the tracker.

“Both, but I don’t want to talk about Annie right now, okay?”

Skywise nodded letting any mention of the past drop. Everyone had to reconcile with their time in the war, it was part of moving on, and everyone had to do it in their own way and time. When Red was ready to talk he’d have an ear for him.

“What’s your thinkin’ on the Henry?”

“Have you ever wondered why no one came for the Henry? A rifle that ’special’ just sitting in a bin with no one looking for it? Why it sat at Two-Edge’s as long as it did?” Redlance asked.

“You know,” Skywise said sucking on his bottom lip, “I thought the same thing. Someone kills Ben for the rifle, hides it Two-moons, and then never comes back for it?”

“I think we’ve been chasing our tails, following the wrong trail.”

“Whoever killed Ben didn’t want the Henry, but what were they looking for then?” Skywise questioned himself as much as Redlance.

“I think it has to do with the fifty bars of gold that Tibbit was talking about.”

Like a flash of lightning Skywise made the connection and started to understand what was keeping Red up. “Someone used the Henry to hide the map…they wanted someone to find the map.”

“I think we need to wake Cutter.” Redlance remarked.

“Yep, he’ll want to hear this.”

The dream was nice, even better since it involved Leetah and very little clothing. It was a damn shame Skywise and Redlance disturbed him before it went just a little farther.

“Cutter! Get up, we got something.”

Everyone sprang up, Dart and Scouter reaching for their guns, as the two trotted in like something was coming. Bearclaw drew one of his dragoons as Crescent and Nightfall popped up and Cutter calling out. “What is it? The Miners back?”

“Aw no, they’re long gone! Red and I figured out something with the Henry!” Skywise said with a grin.

“You damn fool! We almost shot both of you!” Joyleaf yelped.

Nightfall looked over to Crescent while clutching her chest. “You may get to marry Redlance alone, my heart’s stopped.”

Skywise and Redlance stood still and quiet looking at each other for a minute, wondering if they should have tried another tact with presenting the news. Cutter only shook his head and growled though growing impatient. “Well tell us damn it!”

“Oh yeah,” Skywise chirped jumping a little, “Ben wasn’t killed for the Henry like we thought.”

“It was the map Cutter. It’s been that map this whole time.” Redlance added.

“The map, the one in the barrel of the rifle?” Cutter whispered.

Most in the camp had a look of utter confusion. A map stuffed in the barrel of the Henry? What map? Only Redlance caught the look that passed between Nightfall and Crescent and Rose, that look of utter dread, as Skywise continued on.

“Yeah, it makes sense. This whole time we’ve assumed Ben was killed because someone wanted the Henry back and some strange lady put it at Two-Edge’s.”

“So that’s not what happened?” Dart asked putting his Colt back in its holster.

“No, we didn’t tell you about a map we found in the barrel. That’s what this person was after, had to be, because the Henry had already done the job it was created for. It was just used as a way to get the map into someone’s hands.” Skywise disclosed.

“Who’s hands and what’s so special about this ‘map’?” Longbranch spoke up.

“The map leads to fifty bars of gold, hidden by the old Djun at the end of the war, only I don’t think its fifty bars.” Redlance answered kneeling by Nightfall and Crescent.

“We’re not sure about the hands part yet.” Skywise offered with a smile that didn’t make the lawyer feel comfortable.

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Ben rode hard across the flat plain just before the rise to the foothills crossing the small bit of land he owned with a gallop of his horse. The Henry rested in the scabbard under his right leg as he checked over his shoulder for the umpteenth time. There wasn’t anyone behind him now, no riders just off his trail or just at the edge of his sight, but Old Ben knew better. They were back there just waiting. Two days before, just after sneaking across the border from Djunsland, he saw the three riders that had dogged him every step so far. He took a shot at them last night with the Henry, looked like he clipped one of them, but this morning there they were back on his trail.

All Ben had to do was get to his cabin, meet Dalton to get the cash, and then ride back like hell for Scarlet and the kids. He was owed an even fifty dollars per head he snuck across the border and the last run was ten. That five hundred would buy a lot food and clothes for her, for his little Wavedancers. They were his family, the only thing he loved and card for in this whole damn world. So Ben kicked his horse and kept it running right up to the front door of the cabin. The horse was barely stopped as he jumped down and pulled the Henry from the scabbard.  He was a careful man Ben thought, always diligent and observant.

That was until this day.

He rushed through the door to his cabin paying no never mind to the fact it was slightly ajar or the fresh boot prints by the entrance. Ben was already inside squinting form the low light when the iron hard voice of a female echoed in the open space.

“Well, good afternoon Mr. Thompson, or should I call you Sam, your Maquis name you use when you help people sneak across the border.”

The voice belonged to a small human lady he had never seen before sitting at his table, her legs crossed politely under a flowing skirt. Her hair was brown and her eyes a deep blue. Ben might have gotten lost in those eyes if not for Scarlett already in his heart and the fact she knew he was Maquis sending off alarms in his mind. He heard the door creak closed behind him and it sure sounded like a trap snapping shut.

“Who are you?”

“I, if I may I call you Ben, am the one who made sure you were given the map. I’m the Djun’s daughter and rightful heir to Djunsland.”


“What map?” Ben stammered while adjusting his hand on the stock of the Henry.

“Really Ben, let’s stop all this hide-n-seek please. I have known for some time you were a member of the Maquis. I know you have a ‘blanket’ and her name is Scarlett, or her real name which is Foam. I know she has two very cute little ones, Puffer and Tumble, and they are the most precious things you have ever seen.” The lady remarked shifting in her seat, the legs uncrossing.

Damn, this was trouble Ben thought. He slipped his trigger through the guard on the Henry getting ready to make his move. There would only be one chance for this, on chance to get out this cabin alive, as he spoke.

“The map’s useless…it’s got some code no one but two people knew and you all ready had them killed, remember?”

The lady rose from her seat with one fluid motion, as graceful as anything Ben had ever seen, and stepped out away form the table while speaking.

“Yes I know about the code, but it was not me who had the two men who created the code executed. That would be my brother, the new Djun, and because of his mistake we must now resort to having one of you ‘break’ the code for me.”

“One of us?” Ben asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Yes Ben, one of your precious Maquis. You see, the Maquis made the code so one of you must know how to break it. I know how you send all your money back to Foam, for little Puffer and Tumble, so it was a natural choice to give you the map. You have every incentive to break the code. All that greed and need for money would be just the force to drive you to find someone to break the code.”

“Lady, no one can break that code. I’ve checked with everyone, no one but the two that were murdered know’s the code.” Ben explained, pleaded.

“I know, that’s why I’m so damn piqued at the moment. You failed me Ben, and I cannot abide a failure!” The lady said as a long Bowie knife suddenly appeared in her right hand.

This was it. His one chance to stay alive.

“A shame really, little Tumble and Puffer won’t get to see you again.”

Ben made his move with the Henry.

He had never seen someone so fast he thought one last time.

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“Wait, the map leads to fifty bars of gold, but now you don’t think so?” Longbranch asked shifting his weight to ease the pain on his leg.

“You’re saying the map is the center of all this?” Cutter objected.

“No, Red’s right, think for a second. We’ve been assuming all this time that the Henry and the map were together, one package, but they’re not. The Henry was probably on its own path of destruction when it crossed the map’s trail and got tangled up. Why would someone kill Ben for the Henry, when it would just be easier to knock him out and take the thing?” Skywise offered.

“Okay, Ben got a hold of the map somehow, heard it might lead to treasure, and was about to follow it when he was murdered in his cabin?” Cutter asked rhetorically, going over the pieces of the mystery in his head.

“Yep, all that gold could buy Scarlett a lot of food.” Skywise said.

“Only it’s not fifty bars of gold?” Cutter asked looking to Redlance now.

“Nope, this is too involved for just fifty bars of gold. Why draw up a map for just fifty bars? No, you draw a map for fifty chests of gold, each filled to the top.” The tracker whispered.

“And you kill anyone who has the map, or knows about it?” Cutter realized.

“Yep,” Skywise said pouring a cup of coffee.

“We need to get back to town and start to work on the map.” Redlance added holding out a cup for the Captain to pour coffee into.

There was a small bit of silence as most tried to figure out what was happening, but for three it was time to face the music. “You don’t have to ride back to see the map.”

Everyone turned to Nightfall who was looking like the little girl who once took a cookie off the counter at the restaurant when Brownberry told her not to. It was guilt, and it was all over hers and Crescent’s and Leetah’s face.

“What are you saying Trick Shot?” Cutter asked suspiciously.

“She’s got the map, don’t you beloved?” Redlance smiled, so warmly Nightfall and Crescent felt better about what was coming.

The shootist reached into her coat and pulled out two pieces of paper, one the map and the other Aurek’s deciphering of the code. “I found it in your saddlebag and-“

“We found it Senor, all three of us.” Leetah interrupted refusing to let her friend take all the blame.

“And it was all our idea to go to Aurek and have him tell us what the words meant on it.” Crescent finished.

Cutter took the papers with a sigh, not feeling angry with the three women, only worried they were involved. If someone had killed Ben, then it wouldn’t take much to kill three elves for the map. He started to look over Aurek’s writing as Skywise asked a quick question.

“Who do you think the skeleton was out front of the cabin now Red?”

Redlance took a sip from his coffee then passed it to Crescent who took a sip to fight off a sudden chill. “It had to be Ben’s partner, poor fella, probably just in the wrong spot at the wrong time.”

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Even before he rode up he felt there was something wrong. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up like a bunch of Ten Penny nails. His name was Dalton Greevy, a partner with Ben Thompson, and somewhat member of the Maquis. He was the rustler, the one who went to Silver Springs to pick up the metal box from the back of the Miners Mercantile that Annie left them, the box that held their cash. He always rode around back, never stopping or getting off his horse, and picked up the same metal box after each job. He did the same ride just two days before, nothing different feeling in the pick-up, but when got outside of town that all changed. He could see three riders on his trail, three shadows that swirled in the noon day heat as it rose off the plains.

Dalton didn’t have the Henry to take a shot at them so he just rode, hard and as long as his horse would go. The riders stuck to him, like a fly to a horse’s haunch. He was so scared by them he camped off the road, in some trees, with no fire to keep warm and eating hard tack and salted pork. When the sun was up he put the boots to his horse and rode like a bat out of hell for Ben’s place. He didn’t look back for the riders, something told him they were still back there.

And now that he was here…well, he didn’t want to be.

But Dalton rode up anyway looking all around in a circle, swiveling in his saddle trying to see in all directions at once. It wasn’t working he noted. Finally, after a minute, he climbed down off his tired horse with the metal box in hand still looking around nervously. So flustered was Dalton he didn’t even tie off his horse. He just let the reins drop going for the door top the cabin taking one last look around.

Then he saw the first one, a man appearing out of nowhere on a horse dressed in a black coat with a red sash tied around his waist. Dalton stopped cold locking eyes with the man, staring at him, when the second man appeared next to the first and a third by the second. All wore the same black coats with wide red sashes.

The door to the cabin creaked. Dalton spun from looking at the three men to see a very beautiful lady step out into the sun. She looked just as normal as any pretty lady Dalton had seen, with the exception that her sleeve of her blouse was spotted with blood, as was her hand. The riders following him all day and night, the men popping up on the plain like a bunch of ghost, and now this bloody lady.

Well, it didn’t take much to tell Dalton Ben was dead and he was about to join him.

Still, Dalton didn’t go peacefully. He jerked around hard running for his horse, which bolted at the move. Left high and dry without a ride Dolton didn’t stop running. He just took off back out across the plains, that metal box bouncing around in his hand, telling himself all he had to do was make it to the hills.

He never saw the large ornate handgun the lady pointed at him.

He didn’t see her sight down its barrel carefully aiming.

Dalton only heard the shot followed by the worse pain he had ever felt as his leg snapped from the bullet striking it. He went down like a rock, tumbling over and over till he stopped on his back looking up at the blue sky. He heard steps approaching, coming to finish him and Dalton pulled his Navy Colt off his hip in one last try to protect himself from the lady. But then it was over, the gun on the ground as a boot landed square on his wrist . He let out a yelp of pain letting go of the pistol while looking up to see one of the men with the red sash standing over him.

“Please…wait…please don’t…”

The begging didn’t work. One of the other men picked up the metal box as the lady was suddenly standing over him. A large shotgun, probably an eight gauge, was open at the breach and draped over one arm, the way you would carry it when you wanted to be safe and not shoot someone.

“Please…you don’t have to do this…”

She closed the breach with a snap, cocked each hammer wit a loud click and pointed it right at his chest. A sinister smile crossed her face and Dalton knew this was it.

Over and done.

“Please…” He begged one last time.

“Oh, I’m afraid I have to Mr. Dalton. Your time on this world has come and gone…come and gone.”

He saw the end of the shotgun flash for just a second…just a second.

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“What did Aurek’s friend find out?” Skywise asked his brother.

“It just says something about a meeting, and it gives out three numbers. Hell, they could have just kept it coded for all the sense it made.” Cutter spat.

“Can I see it for a bit?” Redlance asked.

Cutter handed him the map and Aurek’s note. The tracker knelt back staring at the map, his finger tracing the hand drawn lines that made the coast, his eyes scanning the letters that formed the words.

“What’s he looking for?” Shale asked Skywise with concern.

“I don’t know, what language is the writing in?” The Captain spoke to Nightfall.

“It’s Latin, Rainsong wrote out the message in Abode for us.”

Redlance looked up all at once to Longbranch right after the words were out of his love’s mouth. It was so fast it made Crescent jump a bit from it.  

“Father, you speak Latin, don’t you?”

The question, better yet the word ‘Father’, touched the lawyer’s heart in a special way. Nightfall noticed her father’s expression, how his eyes got misty and his throat choked just a bit. It was the same look he got when her mother would whisper, she loved him in his ear or when she came back from touring with the show and they hugged. He had always seen Redlance as a son and now with the wedding he was as close as he could get, or thought he could get.

“Sure, what do you need me to read?”

The tracker moved over to Longbranch’s side careful of not touching his hurt leg and held the map out for him to read. Redlance pointed to a group of letters and the lawyer scanned the words easily, stopped and thought for a moment, then pointed to one set and spoke.

“Well, she missed just five out of the bunch which isn’t too bad for Latin. If you take the letters she missed and put them together it should say ‘notch’, like a hole in a tree.”

“Or a drop off,” Redlance whispered taking the map back.

“What is a ‘drop off’?” Leetah asked with a whisper. She squeezed her Major’s hand as a cold feeling crept up her skin.

Redlance took a deep breath and looked out over the group before speaking. “The Maquis run in groups, one town being separate from another, one group never knowing of the other. The Maquis in a town are well hidden. They don’t hold meetings or dinner parties or any kind of get together.”

“Do they know who’s a Maquis and who’s not?” Scouter asked fully awake now.

“Yes, but they never met in a group, only one on one in safe locations. They could never take the chance of meeting in a large group and getting caught.” Redlance explained.

“So how did the drop-off work?” Cutter questioned listening intently now.

“In every town the Maquis had a spot the used as a drop-off for messages. It could be the saloon or the school or a restaurant, it could be any ordinary place in town that no one would suspect as a Maquis house.”

“Like a bakery, a small bakery run by people you never really knew.” Eyes High whispered.

“Yes, “Redlance answered back, understanding the pain he saw in her eyes before continuing on, “so if a member wants to meet another they go by the drop-off and leave a message with the keeper asking for time and date and three numbers. They come by the drop-off the next day and get a message from the keeper. On it is written a date and time for the meeting, and the same three numbers.”

“What do the numbers mean?” Skywise inquired.

“If the message was to get intercepted, or the drop-off raided, then the identities of the members were in danger. Every Maquis had a number and you used it when sending messages back and forth, to protect everyone.” The tracker explained.

“Is that how they always did things?” Leetah caught herself speaking before she knew it.

The tracker took another breath and swallowed trying to wet his tongue. He hated being the center of attention, more than guns probably. “No, some things ran on their own, like getting mail from back east. Remember Annie? How she said she was the contact who handled the money. More than likely she’d drop by the keeper’s place, find a message telling her where to pick up a package that had the money for them. It happened like that all the time, like clockwork, and it’s never questioned.”

“Okay,” Skywise stated to say chewing on his lip again while thinking hard, “so someone kills Ben because he got the map, and then they stuff it into the barrel of the Henry and put it into storage at Two-Edge, right?”

The tracker and Cutter nodded.

“And the map leads to what we think may be fifty trunks filled with gold coins, bars, or whatever, right?”

Again, a nod.

“That belonged to the Djun, but the Maquis stole and hid, right?”

Another nod.

“But why get rid of the map if you kill two men to get it back?”

“Because whoever killed to get the map back couldn’t read it.” Redlance answered.

“They needed someone to break the code, another Maquis maybe, which is why Ben had it I bet. But something went wrong, and they killed him and his partner to get it back.” Cutter smiled putting the pieces together.

“And put it in the Henry so someone, like us, would find it and break the code for them.” Nightfall whispered.

“Aw hell,” Dart whistled understanding the whole plan now.

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Blood, and some specks of matter, stained her skirt now as she handed the shotgun over to one of her personal guards who broke the breach and replaced both spent shells. He then held the eight gauge over his wrist, the breach still open, and waited for orders.
“Is there anyone else Major?”


“No Miss Kaiya, this is Dalton Greevy, Ben’s partner. My understanding was he didn’t even know about the map, had more balls that brain some say.” The man just to her right said, the one who took the metal box.

“Quite the loss then,” She said raising an eyebrow while looking down at the dead man.

The third man walked up with the Henry rifle in hand. He wiped off some dirt on the butt end of the stock before handing it over to his mistress.

“Ah, there’s my Henry! You feel so nice, so right in my hands!” Kaiya murmured, purred.

The men stood stoically watching her rub the rifle like it was a long lost relative at the foot of a dead man she just shot. They didn’t think anything of it, to them it was just part of the mistress and her ‘quirky’ personality. She finally stopped after a minute and looked to her Major, a tall man with a scar running down his right cheek.

“Major, we have to find someone new to decipher our map, but NOT another Maquis. I won’t abide those fools anymore.”

“The Maquis made the code Miss Kaiya, finding someone else to break it would seem a hard thing to do. Yet there’s a town nearby ma’am, called Two-Moons, maybe someone there can complete the task.”

Her face contorted in pain for a second at the mention of name of the town, but then it lightened, and even changed back to that sinister smile. “We do know someone in Two-Moons that might be able to help us Major.”

Now it was his turn to frown as he said a name aloud. “You mean that damnable troll Guttlekraw.”

“Now Major, who better to break a code on a treasure map then a greedy little troll!”

“Ah, I see your plan now…but any another troll please! Any troll other than him!” the Major spat.

“And there may be because  who’s hungrier than the man sitting at the head of the table Major? Who always wants for more…more?” Kaiya said.

The Major thought and smiled. “The underling, the one who always shines the shoes.”

“And that would be?”

“Mr. Greymung. He runs the local store…and card game out of the back. He’s Guttlekraw’s lackey and whipping post most days.”

“That’s correct,” Kaiya said while holding the Henry out Admiring its beauty, “we just need a bottle to hold our message and I’m afraid my friend you are the perfect bottle.”

“The Henry Ma’am, you’re going to put the map in the Henry?” The guard with the metal box asked carefully.

The Djun’s daughter rolled the map carefully and slipped it into the barrel of the rifle just as careful while speaking. “Yes I am. The Henry has a reputation now and with that comes a high price on the market. No respectable troll would keep it knowing he could make a substantial payday by selling it. Our Mr. Greymung will clean it up to enhance the price, and when he does the map will be found, and then his little mind will start to race with visions of treasure. It’s second nature to them!”

“Very good plan ma’am, but how does your plan call for getting the Henry into Mr. Greymung’s hands without Mr. Guttlekraw finding it. I’m sure the king won’t allow his underling to possess such a nice prize.” The Major inquired.

“Do you like poker Major?” She asked after getting the map set.

“I am quite the opponent I’ve been told.”

“Not tonight. Two-Moons has to have a blacksmith, correct? I’ll take the Henry and have it put into his care. I’ll give you the ticket, after scribbling some obvious words on it hinting at what it holds, and you will lose it to Mr. Greymung in a poker hand. He gets the Henry and Mr. Guttlekraw is none the wiser.”

“Devilish plan ma’am!” The major said with a tip of his hat.

She only smiled turning to see the young strapping soldier standing there with the metal box the man Dalton was carrying. “I don’t think you’ve had the pleasure Lieutenant.”

The soldier only smiled and answered back. “No ma’am we haven’t.”

“Well, come by tent tonight at 9 sharp and I’ll remedy that. Bring the box…and wear your spurs.” Kayia purred stroking the man’s cheek as walked past.

The Lieutenant only smiled some more, as did the others. It was her ‘quirky’ nature they all thought.


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“What do we do now Cutter?” Redlance asked folding up the map and Aurek’s notes.

“We go after the gold, right? I mean…its gold!” Scouter exclaimed.

“No son, no one need’s the trouble that map’s gonna bring. A thing like that is only trouble, a whole lot of it.” Bearclaw reasoned.

“I agree,” Longbranch added pointing his finger, “and you can bet whoever ‘gave’ the map to us is watching the town, watching us. If anyone even moves like they’re going for the gold, then they’re dead.”

“I won’t endanger my family cousin. I won’t put Tyleet or Crescent in any danger for a bunch of gold I don’t want.” Nightfall stated calmly but sternly as Redlance slipped in between her and Crescent.

“Then why did you have Aurek decipher it?”

“We thought we were helping the Major and Redlance Senor. We never knew it would lead to this, all of this.” Leetah shot back.

Scouter wasn’t satisfied though and looked to his hero for help. “Cutter, you know we have to go get the gold, right?”

“No, we’re not Scouter.” The Major responded flatly.

“Cutter-“The deputy tried to say before being cut off.

“No Scouter,” Cutter ordered as the old horse soldier came out, “the Henry and the map stop right here, right now. We know where the Henry came from and what it is was made for. We know why the map was drawn. That’s all this ever started out being, nothing more Scouter, understand?”

“Yes sir, I do.”

“And it’s like Longbranch said, someone wanted that code to be broken and that someone is still watching us so from tonight on no talks about the Henry or the map, no one. Red will keep the map with him hidden and I’ll keep the rifle. We’ll keep an eye out on the town and if anyone looks suspicious, we put the word out, understand?” Cutter ordered.

All agreed, even Scouter gave a small nod, and then they all settled in. Leetah curled up in the crook of her Major’s arm while he pulled a blanket up. Crescent put her had on the tracker’s shoulder and reached across his chest taking Nightfall’s hand. Even Skywise let Eyes High slid up against him as he pulled his hat over his eyes to sleep.  

The night creatures chirped.

Sleep finally came, even the hold outs like Redlance succumb to a tired and weary body.

___________________________________________________
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PostSubject: Day Six - Part Seventeen   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptyWed Feb 03, 2021 11:11 pm

And now, for the final piece of Day Six, written by Rainflower


Day Six - Part Seventeen


Hey, I know we're on the seven'th day now, but I hope you don't mind that I put in an evenent at night before where we are now.

Dewshine had trouble sleeping that night, and when she finely managed to fall asleep, she had horrible dreams. Dreams of darkness, dreams of horror; of Scouter.

"Scouter!" Dewshine whispered in her sleep before she woke up in a moment letting out a yelp. The sight in her dream didn't let go and it took a moment before she managed to get control over her breath again. In the beginning she didn't remember where she was before she heard Tyleet make small whimpers beside her before she woke up.

"Dewshine?" she said. Her eyes were large of shock. Dewshine laid down in bed again and looked at her. "You're awake?"

"Yes." She whispered. "I had a nightmare…"she said before taking a breath. "I - I dreamt... that Scouter was shot."

"You too?" Tyleet said as she rose and sat in the bed. Dewshine crawled up in sitting position herself, suddenly completely awake.

"You dreamt that too?"

Tyleet looked down for a moment, thinking back on the horrible nightmare. "Do'no. I just dreamt that he was hurt and that he was bleeding a lot." Then she looked at Dewshine. "What about you?"

Dewshine looked at her friend, then up at the sealing. "In my dream he fell from somewhere tall when he was shot. I didn't see much blood, but I could feel his pain, like I was there with him."

"But how come we both had the same dream?" Tyleet whispered nervously.

"Do'no myself. I don't want to think about it."

Tyleet looked down again, and for a while she was silent. "I… dreamt about Papa too. I just saw him. He had many people around him and..."

Dewshine couldn't see her clearly in the dark, but she had the feeling Tyleet woulg break into crying any moent. She laid a hand at her sholder, Tyleet leaned to Dewshine, who in the next moment figured out that she was right. She started patting her hair and Tyleet slowly calmed down. The two girls went silent for a while; none of them knew what to say. It was Tyleet who at last broke the silence. "Do you think they're alright, Dewshine?"

"I'm sure they're fine. I don't think there's anything to worry about yet. It won't help that we get scared. For all we know, they might be back tomorrow."

"Do you really think so?"

Dewshine smiled taking her friends hand. "Let's hope so." Tyleet let out a sigh, smiling and taking Dewshine's hand. "Thanks."

The two girls smiled and got closer to each other. For a while they were silent again. "What do you think of, Dewshine?" Tyleet asked.  

"About my father," Dewshine said and then her face turned into a grimace. "I'm still a little mad at him for packing that stupid pink dress for me."

"But it's pretty." Tyleet said.

"That's the problem. It's too pretty to use in an ordinary day. And I don't like to dress up too much."

"You won't look like you dress too much up, Dewshine." Tyleet said laughing.

Dewshine made a grimace in the dark. "I that dress I will." They laughed a little, before Dewshine got serious again. "And I think my father and the school mistress has something going on."

Tyleet stopped laughing and went serious. "Do you think they'll wed?"

For a moment Dewshine was silent. The thought of having your teacher as your mother wasn't very tempting. She had once asked Scouter about how he felt and he had said that Mrs. Clearbrook turned to one person in the classroom and the moment she got out of there, she started acting like a mother again. "Do'no, but if that's the case… I don't think I ready for that."

"But wouldn't it be nice to have a mother again?" Tyleet carefully asked.

"I don't even know how is to have one. Why should I care?"

"I've never had a father, but I'd really like to finely get one." Tyleet said with a sad tone in her voice. Dewshine knew she was worrying about Redlance again. she leaned closer to her.

"And you will get one, but please respect that I don't need two parents, okay? I've managed it fine, why should I start now? I'm almost grown and I know that if I had one, she would have forced me to wear that stupid dress anyway."

Tyleet started laughing again and couldn't stop, and Dewshine could only join her. Soon they were laughing out loud and when Brownberry suddenly entered the room, they went as silent as a desert.

"I don't seem to remember that you girls were allowed to sit up the whole night." She said in the doorway. The girls didn't answer at first, but then Tyleet broke the silence. "We had nightmares, Grandma', and we needed to talk a bit before we went sleeping again."

"Well, now you've talked, so NOW you girls go sleeping. High Ones, I hope you two won't get worse than Nightfall and Crescent." she said and waited till they were lying under the carpet again before she left the room.

"We better get back to sleep again. Good night, Dewshine."

"Night' Tyleet."

But Dewshine had trouble to sleep at first. She caught herself thinking of Scouter. Would he be alright when they returned? And would he still be mad at her?

He hadn't been exited at all for her mentioning flying. What the heck was so wrong about him? He didn't have to get that mad.

On the other hand she understood better now why he was so fixed up in Mr. Strongbow being gone. It had probably reminded him in his own father's disappearing five years ago. They were a little different at that point she and Scouter; he wanted to include himself in the problem while she wanted to get as far away from it because it scared her. She didn't like problems she didn't always know how to get out of them.

I better apologize when he return, she thought before cuddling under the carpet finely feeling sleep arrive.

___________________________________________________
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PostSubject: Day Seven - Part One   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptySat Feb 20, 2021 9:12 pm

And now, for Day Seven Part One, by me WiseShaman

Day Seven - Part One


All right people, with the clsoe of Day 6 we have the start of Day 7. A brand new day means new beginnings for all...


Black Feather stepped into the cold stream letting the icy water wake up his body; awaken his spirit to this world and the dream one. He closed his eyes while lifting his arms to the sky, prayed to his father's father, and heard the call of the hawk as it flew high above the hills. The first rays of the new sun were sweeping through the trees driving back the morning mist and damp of the night. He could smell the pines and the furs, taste their scent as it passed his nose. The shaman gave a second prayer the great mystery, the creator of all, with his eyes still closed shut. Black Feather felt the peace of the moment, felt his soul swim in it, and then with a loud cry he broke the silence and the serenity.

"Oki, aahsaapinakos! (Hello Morning)"

The call echoed off the hills and the trees. The hawk called back with its shrill cry. Black Feather smiled…all was as it should be…for now. The woods grew silent again around him, the peace beckoning to him, but there would be no bathing this morning. He breathed deep of the clean air as a form walked out of the woods from across the stream coming toward him. It looked like a bear, the head moving up and down with each step, only the legs dragged the ground and the arms hung limply down. The shambling mound stopped by the bank of the water and the bear's head stared at Black Feather with empty sockets where the eyes once were.

"Oki akayssi ni't (Hello Old One)" Black Father called to the mound.

"Oki oahkoissksisi yoohkiaayo! (Hello Grizzly Bear!)" The mound sounded with a muffled voice.

Black Feather laughed a little at the name and nodded as small pair of hands reached up and pulled the bear's head back. A face, slim and aged and marred appeared as did a large smile…and a pair of pointed ears. The left one though was misshaped, bent and broken. It matched the left side the elf's face, which was a long stretch of burned scar from just above the temple where the grey hair that rested on the right and top of the head refused to grow. The scar covered the whole side of the head, running down and slightly touching the cheek before finally flowing down the neck and disappearing into the start of the buckskin tunic. A pair of blue grey eyes locked with the shaman's as the elf crossed the stream carefully, picking up the large bear fur so as not to get it wet. The elf spoke the Native language perfectly, his tongue dancing with the music of the Blackfoot.

"It is good to greet the sun this morning Grizzly Bear!"

"It is good to greet every morning Old One. The hawk calls to us, wakes us for the new day." Black Feather returned stepping out of the stream.

The elf crossed the stream with easy steps and once by his friend he slid the bear hide off, along with other furs, in a lump at his feet. He was this elf, as tall as the shaman, dressed in pants that matched his faded buckskin top. The sweeping grey hair fell down his back past his waist and the pants were tied off at the ankle where a pair of moccasins covered his feet.
"It is good to greet you my brother." The elf whispered holding out his hand to the shaman.

"It is good to greet you my brother." Black Feather returned again taking the hand in his.

The two stood in silence listening to the woods, to the stream, and to world around them with reverence. Finally though the elf turned to the shaman and spoke.

"You know why I am here Grizzly Bear?"

"The spirit is loose." Black Feather responded.

"Yes...and we need to put it back." The elf stated calmly.

The shaman heard the hawk call again. The screech echoed and he waited for the sound to stop before speaking.

"There are others, pointed ears with the spirit in them. The spirit does not hurt them like it hurt you Old One."

The elf only smiled more. The spirit his brother mentioned was the power, the ancient powers of the elves, and they had long since been locked away from them all. The power to heal, to fly, and to shape plant and rock was blocked from the elves, stopped because the need to survive in this world was stronger. The magic was still there, but buried so deep in their bodies that its touch was lost. The ability to use the powers shut away behind a barrier inside them. These new elves, the children of the children of his children knew little of the powers inside of them if at all. The knowledge of the ancient powers was hidden also; clouded memories kept passages out of history books. The only knowing were tales told only at night to the little ones in little beds.

But there were the few who could use them now and they were as lost as he and others were when they first landed here so long ago.
He wondered if it were the elves finally adapting to this world, the magic finally changing to work in this place. Or was it the world finally changing to accept the elves…accepting the magic they carry inside of them.

"I need to find the one who let the spirit loose my brother." The elf said watching the hawk circle above.
"And I need to help the one who now has the spirit in him." The shaman added watching the same hawk glide on the warm thermals of air, suspended almost above them.
They didn't say another word. They didn't need to.

Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 Vignette-orig

The morning sun wasn't greeted by all with enthusiasm, one in particular sat on the edge of a cot ignoring everything but what she was reading. Far away from the Blackfoot tribe's territory, up in a secluded part of the hills sat a camp, a ring of tents around several small camp fires. They had been there for only a few days but no one from the town of Two-Moons had stumbled on them. This wasn't the first time these tents had been pitched in this spot. This wasn't the first time the small number of soldiers who occupied those tents had been here. At the Northern end of the ring of tents stood the largest one, used for the most important person, the leader of the group. The inside was decorated nicely, not overly ornate and gaudy but not as Spartan as a soldier. There was a small framed bed in one corner, rugs on the floor, and a four fold dressing blind. There were chest that held clothes opened with folded dresses.
Kaiya sat in her chair next to her portable writing desk reading the handwritten notes in leather bound book. She had read the passages before, only glanced at them really, but now she studied them closely. So intent was the lost daughter of the Djun that she didn't hear or move at the approach of a tall man with a scar down his cheek approach...
Or did she? "What is it Major?"

"Just stepping in to see what the order of the day is ma'am." The Major replied

"It is the same as yesterday Major, keep the spies in town watching the four little elves. I want to know when they get back from Silver Springs."

"Very well ma'am, I'll inform the guards."

Yet, as the Major turned to leave the tent his charge called to him. "Major, did you ever meet Mr. Kistner?"

The Major turned with a look of disgust on his face. "I had the unfortunate experience of meeting him, yes. He was short, rather muscular, and a hired killer likes Mr. Pettimore. He worked for your late father."

"He was nothing like John, "Kaiya spat closing the notebook and putting it back on the writing table, "he wasn't as skilled or as ruthless. My father foolishly sent him to his death and for what? Payback for those four officers who deserved what they received for hurting an innocent elf. That old general who forced my father's hand to act should have been the one to go and seek revenge."

"I've often wondered how Mr. Kistner faired against Mr. Pettimore, if he was able to hurt the albino just before the end."

The Djun's daughter took a breath and looked at her Major with a grin. "I've wondered that too, but seeing as John Lee isn't a talker we will never know what happened between the two. I only know my father didn't like the contents of the package John shipped him

"So, then why are you so worried about Miss. Raven?"

"John Lee works for us Major, in a round about way, so my worry is Miss. Raven could become a distraction. I saw her back east once in her uncle's magic show, a very charming girl. I don't think anyone in town knows she's a girl though. Raven is a master at taking on characters."

"Do you think Mr. Pettimore and her?" The Major asked letting the last trial off.

Kaiya looked at him and laughed for a second before answering. "Hardly, I think Miss Raven isn't 'looking' for a man and John Lee…he's not the loving kind. No, what I'm worried about is if she gets into trouble will our albino follow her instead of us. Will he keep to his job, his duty to us, or will he suddenly go off on his own?"

"Well, at least it's not a personal rivalry, to see who lands Mr. Pettimore first." The Major quipped before turning and leaving the tent.

If anyone else to had made a remark like that to her, about her, they would have been dead before they got two steps. But the Major wasn't anyone. No, he was like the father she was denied when she was born. He was her guardian, her protector. Much like what John was too White Raven now, the silent shadow keeping an eye out. Kaiya wondered if the elf knew how lucky she was. She wondered if John would go against the men of the Railroad, go against her. She wondered if she could get John in bed…for just a quick roll or two.

There was one thing she didn't wonder about. Kaiya would have to meet the Raven, feel the elf out for who she was. Of course the Raven was a practiced thespian, able to shift disguises and characters with the blink of an eye so the conversation would be fun.

Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 Vignette-orig

He let Leila take the lead going down the trail. The Arabian walked slow but true keeping all four legs on solid purchase. Rayek didn't mind the slow ride. It was actually helpful as it gave him time to think over the night before. He was alone which was better, Aroree choosing to stay behind and help Urda with the kids on her day off. He wasn't sure what Khavi had planned. She didn't offer any words, only smiled and kissed him as he left.

Leila slid a little and Rayek shifted his weight in the saddle giving the horse its head, letting it get its footing again. He looked skyward as a hawk crossed the crystal blue skies gliding on the morning winds, stalling and falling for a small bit before circling and diving below the tree line.

Why Amigo? What do you know of my father's death? Why have you betrayed me so?

The thoughts assailed him like a thunderstorm on the prairie, whipping him and pelting his bruised soul.

His friend Zhantee, his oldest friend, was somehow mixed in with the money that was delivered every month to the rustler Dave. He had to believe what Kahvi told him, not because he trusted her more than anyone else, but because she had no reason to lie to him. Dave was long dead and there was no sense to protect him. And she didn't trade what she knew for the night in bed. No, Kahvi gave the information to him after he pried it out, after he kept at her driving her like one of the cattle hands on the Blue Mountain Ranch did with a steer going to market.
She wanted nothing in trade for the information this time...and she gave her warmth freely after she saw what that information did to him.

Leila neighed, chomped at her bit, and slid again on loose rocks that were scattered along the trail. "Easy Nina…there is no rush."

The horse responded by slowing and taking each step carefully. Rayek went back to his thoughts assured the Arabian wouldn't fall and take him with her down the hill side. He kept thinking why Zhantee would be involved. His father was killed in the stables one dark night long ago, his head crushed by a kick from a horse, and it was like no one on the Rancho Del Sol wanted to find the killer. They were content to question, accuse from a distance, his father's reputation and why he was in the barn that night. Sun Toucher...Thiro...everyone blamed Ingen. They all accepted the darker side of his father's death.

All but him...and Zhantee. His amigo, his compadre, had been as vocal as the potter could ever be with the others but in the end it didn't matter. Nothing mattered. He had been angry when he left the Rancho, angry at everyone, and sad for Zhantee…for leaving him there. Over the years Rayek had settled with that feeling, stowing it away with his feelings for Leetah.
But after what Kahvi said those feelings came back and that led to the hurt again. What was his amigo's role in this? What did he know? The only way to find the answer was too return to the Rancho...back to see Zhantee…back to see Sun Toucher.

The hawk appeared again, ducking and diving on the winds. No, Rayek thought, he would wait to see Zhantee and Sun Toucher. He needed to get back to see Ekuar. He needed to talk with his friend…about his old friend.

Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 Vignette-orig

They pulled out of the camp in mass, like a bunch of sodbusters crossing the plains looking for a plot of land. Cutter led them with Leetah riding at his side, the two talking and laughing. Skywise rode Starjumper just to the side of the wagon where his parents sat in the driver's seat, Shale holding the reins lightly in his hands while Eyes High stared at her son with a proud look. In the back of the wagon Longbranch and Joyleaf sat back against the stack of blankets and his saddle taking the trip back to town the easy way after being injured. He draped one arm out of the side of the wagon, the one with all the bullet holes, watching his daughter and his soon to be son-in-law. They laughed with Crescent, the three talking about who knows what refusing to be apart for a second. Joyleaf watched her husband ride next to her looking regal in his red sash and twin pearl handles sparkling in the morning sun. Behind the new lovebirds Scouter and Shenshen rode together, the sister of Rose doing most of the talking and the deputy just nodding politely while paying absolutely no attention to the woman's ramblings. Scouter was occupied with keeping an eye out on the swaying grass of the plain and the beginning of the foothills just to the west.

And then there was Dart just to rear of everyone, riding in a self-imposed silence. He was thinking back to the day, the afternoon before Treestump sent them riding out to fetch Redlance and Cutter. He kept thinking about how he had almost made a second mistake that afternoon because of what he said to his friend Red.

What do you mean 'quit'? Stump asked with shock.

I don't deserve to do this job Marshall...I don't have the temperament. I called my friend a damn no good breed...

Your Pa went missing son, that's enough for anyone to understand your outburst.

Pa would be the first one to tell me what I did was the lowest thing a man could do. I can't imagine what Longbranch or Mrs. Brownberry think o' me...

Let me worry about them Dart…they'll come around after I talk with them.

I don't know if I can do the job anymore Marshall…it takes a certain amount of respect from the towns folk and I lost it all the other day.

No you didn't son. I still respect you...and everyone will again when they hear you talked with Red.

I don't know Marshall...

I know this Dart. Your Pa would tell you to stick it out. Running don't get anyone anywhere except out of breath. Standing tall, that's what makes a man a man.

Maybe...

Listen son, at least give yourself and this decision until Red gets back so you two can talk. Don't go making a mistake worse because your all tied up inside.

Maybe...okay...

Standing tall?

Dart was still thinking hard on his decision when he heard the hooves of a horse slide up next to him. He looked up form under his hat to see Red next to him with his usual boyish smile.
"You're thinking hard."

The deputy didn't smile back. He could have dodge the question, slipped it, but then that wasn't 'standing tall', was it?

"I told Marshall Stump I was quitting when we left Two-Moons to come get you and Cutter."

The tracker didn't say anything for a minute then spoke up squinting with one-eye while looking at Dart. "So are you gonna quit?"

"I don't know..."

Again the two rode in silence, neither noticed the fact that most of the others in the group has slowed to let them fall into range to eavesdrop on their conversation. Firecoat neighed and shook his head just before Redlance offered up a memory.

"I don't remember much of what happened the night I came back to the tribe after I let Nightfall go, except for small pictures in my mind every now and then. I can see the tribe coming at me, eyes full of anger, and I'm standing there with my hands out saying I won't fight. I can see the first Brave that hit me, Falling Elk. I can see he had a club and it's coming at me...then it's all black."

"Damn Red...I'm sorry to hear that." Dart said with a shake of his head. He still didn't notice the fact Cutter and everyone were now close enough to shake hands. Even Longbranch and Joyleaf were staring at the pair now, listening intently.

"I still see Falling Elk when I go back to visit the tribe. I still see most of the Braves who beat me that night."

"Did they say they were sorry for what they did to you?"

"Yeah, but it was afterwards, when Tall Tree came back and saw what had happened, that's when the real trouble started. My chief wanted to cast out everyone who sided with Wind in the Trees, everyone who hit me. My chief was ready to split the tribe in two."

"But he didn't, did he?" Dart asked all ready following the trail Red was leaving.

"No," the tracker said with a nod, "Iron Cloud convinced him what happened was a mistake, but that breaking the tribe up was worse. The Braves who hit me were punished, and in the end I was able to go find Nightfall."

"So...your saying stick around?" Dart laughed.

"Yep, leaving won't make you feel better Dart. Only being a deputy in town, guarding us can do that. I'm asking you to stick around and keep an eye on us." Redlance said.

Dart smiled and nodded. "I guess I can do that..."

"You two finished making up? We'd like to get back to town today sometime." Cutter called out making everyone laugh.

Dart just laughed with them having made up his mind with the help of his friend.

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Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 Empty
PostSubject: Re: Let's Ride! Elfwest is back   Let's Ride! Elfwest is back - Page 8 EmptySun Feb 28, 2021 9:03 am

Well, look whose still riding on the Ponderosa!

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