Thank you for all the great words guys!
Now here's the next part...we meet up with Rayek finally...and the new Shuna.
Part Six ”“ The Scroll
It’s just a word, two syllables, with different meanings based on how you used it in everyday conversation. The local petrol company used the definition ”˜free from impurities’ because it spoke to the level of the gas that sold from their pumps, which was just as watered down as the gas stop around the corner. The affluent Men’s club ”˜Carlton’ like the word too, was fond of the meaning that spoke to the civilized part of society, the cream of the crop per say. You could use ”˜free from impurities’ here too as the Carlton’s membership was just a little north of exclusive.
The club was old, founded by even older business man back when the city of Two-Moons was just a burg out in the middle of no-where. They met in the barn of one of the founders at first, used to meet and trade news, tips, and even some dark dirty secrets to help their fledgling businesses go boom. The ”˜Carlton’ started out as a well meaning idea, but as always the good intentions soon soured and the club became what it is today, what’s known best for, a bastion of rich elitist men who conduct illegal and sometimes depraved business behind closed doors that protect them from the laws of society. That’s what Rayek thought at least and he should know being a member in good standing and all. The waiting list to become a member was long, distinguished, and very biased which mattered little to the committee that voted on those things. It could take someone years of waiting to get a membership if they were lucky. Rayek knew the right people and only waited a few months before getting word he was a new member. In truth though he didn’t enjoy the Carlton, actually detested the time he spent in its dark and musty rooms among the elderly humans, or the walking dead as he thought of them. Some of the members were so old they had to be rolled around in wheel chairs barely breathing, but they were so rich everyone was afraid to cease their membership. Catch 22, greed wins over good taste, which was the basis for a lot in the Carlton and in his life. Rayek was a business man you see, the CEO of a successful conglomerate, and to keep that status you sometimes had to get a little dirty to make the deals.
Then there were the young humans, and some elves, which made up the newer members of the club. They were just simply vicious to the bone. A bigger collection of poisonous snakes ready to strike and bring down someone you would be hard pressed to find. You had to watch your step around them Rayek thought, or else you might end up outside those protective doors with all your secrets revealed. Of course if you’re the meanest snake in the collection”¦well no one tried to bite you. Rayek smiled at the thought as he brushed off his handmade slacks and vest before checking his silk tie. He found a comfortable position in the high back leather chair, which wasn’t hard knowing it was made by the best craftsman in the city, and opened his newspaper ready to read. The sound of someone taking the seat next to him caught his ear and he knew who it was before lowering the paper.
“Good afternoon Mr. Aramak. How are you today?”
“I’m fine, how are you Mr. Rayek?” The District Attorney for Two-Moons asked. In his right hand was a high ball glass with scotch on the rocks. Aramak waved with his left hand and a butler brought over a glass for Rayek on a small silver tray.
“Thank you,” Rayek nodded.
“Oh, it’s my pleasure. I keep a few bottles around for my personal use.” Aramak replied sipping his drink.
The scotch was poor tasting as Aramak himself. Rayek preferred a softer malt that had been aged longer in oak barrels, but he didn’t say a word as he sipped the liquor. It practically mangled his tongue as he swallowed and smiled. “Smooth.”
“Indeed.” Aramak gleamed.
“So,” Rayek asked setting the glass down on the antique side table next to his chair, “what do you need of me Mr. Aramak, or am I talking to the more than capable Two-Moons District Attorney?”
“Oh this is just between us, but then you could say it’s also between you and our friend.”
It didn’t take much for Rayek to conclude what Aramak was implying. “I gave you and your friend every piece of information I know about the Palace Mr. Aramak. I even walked through the one the Djun’s had built as a set for some movie pointing out mistakes. Are you in need of me to do it again?”
“No Mr.Rayek, we do not. The set is”¦in use you might say. I hope the compensation for your time was ample. “Aramak smiled sipping his scotch.
Inside knowledge of business deals with the city, preferred treatment at biddings and negotiations, and consideration from the halls of justice in certain matters. Yes, his time spent in the fake Palace had been well compensated. Rayek smiled and nodded. “It has Mr. Aramak, but I feel you did not come here to ask me about that.”
“No I did not. I came asking for another favor.”
“Another favor? After the last one I cannot see how I would be of use to you or your party.”
“We have need of one last thing, only I’m afraid I have to ask a sensitive question first Mr. Rayek.” Aramak inquired slowly rolling the scotch around in his glass.
“I do not entertain ”˜sensitive’ questions Mr. Aramak. I’m afraid I will not be available to consider your favor if you insist asking.” Rayek commented coldly picking his paper up off his lap.
“That’s a shame Mr. Rayek,” Aramak whistled looking down into his glass, “we were about to acquire an ”˜artifact’ of great significance”¦to the elves and to you.”
“Artifact?” Rayek murmured lowering his paper slowly.
“Oh yes”¦one you are intimately familiar with.”
The paper slowly folded into his lap without Rayek commanding his hands to do it. His golden eyes had closed to slits as he listened carefully to Aramak, listening for the trap to slam shut. “What artifact?”
Aramak smiled slightly as he looked up, like a snake sitting in the grass ready to strike a passerby. “A large wooden dowel, carved intricately, that shines in different colors when ”˜powered’.”
The Scroll of Colors! Rayek’s breathing picked up, shortening as his heart skipped a beat or two. They found it he thought as his mind raced back to the memories day they elves returned to the Abode. The humans didn’t chase the eleves away from their home this time, didn’t try to kill Timmain as she stepped out and greeted them. These humans were more”¦refined. They simply greeted the elder and encouraged the others in the Palace to walk among them, for the better part. There was some humans who still held to old ideals and beliefs, but the majority only wanted to accept the pointed ears as friends. In those early days, just after the return, the Scroll was taken from its pedestal and hidden by the elders”¦by Timmain and Sefra he believed. They soon lost the Palace too due to the crazed fool Two-Spear, but now”¦the history of the elves could be restored. If it all went according to plan it could happen.
“You found the Scroll of Colors?” Rayek whispered.
“Is that what they call it?” Aramak asked with a mock smile.
It infuriated Rayek to have to deal with this bore of a man. It was like playing a board game with a child. “Yes, that is what we called it.”
“You see, I knew asking you would be a grand idea.”
“You have it in your possession?” Rayek asked holding his snarl of frustration in check.
“No”¦but we know someone who knows where it is.” Aramak explained.
“When may I see it, to confirm its authenticity of course?”
“As soon as you answer our question.”
Rayek sighed, there was really no choice. “Then by all means, resume the investigation.”
“What does the Mayor’s wife mean to you these days?” Aramak inquired, his eyes watching for the slightest movement that woul give away the truth.
“What are you inferring sir?” Rayek hissed letting this guard down, his emotions to take over for a split second. His history with Winnowill was over, done, and buried and he did not appreciate someone digging it up.
“It’s been rumored you two were lovers at one time and my friend is worried about news of this artifact reaching beyond our little group.”
“Do you think I would just run to her side, like some pet she called?” Rayek spat.
“No Mr. Rayek, I can see from your disposition you no longer converse with her”¦but maybe there’s some loose pillow talk every now and then.” Aramak hinted with an evil sparkle in his teeth.
The CEO shifted in his seat and grinned. “There is no longer an association between myself and Mrs. Winnowill. There is no ”˜pillow talk’ or any other kind of conversation, ever.”
“Well that is a relief,” The DA said before finishing off his scotch and standing while leaving the glass on the table, “as soon as the artifact is in our possession I’ll place a call to you Mr. Rayek. The details will be worked out then.”
“Till then,” Rayek nodded and watched the man leave. He picked his paper up off his lap, after having the butler take away the vile glass of scotch, and began to read. He really wasn’t taking in the words though. He was thinking about the Scroll and just how close he was to bringing it all together.
“Hey Skywise! How are you today?”
Shuna looked like just like her grandmother all those years in the past standing by the desk, the same face on a body that was a little heavier, but she was a dead ringer for Cutter and Leetah’s adopted human daughter. The same nose and eyes surrounded by blond hair that was always pulled back in a pony-tail, the latest Shuna was an artist, painter and sketcher who did the usual portrait of families and such to pay the bills. As most artist this was the just the mundane work, the fodder, but the real dream was too hang something in the Two-Moons museum. A piece of her own artwork, her own creation that came from her own hand and place in her heart, that was the dream she was constantly working toward.
“I’m a lot better now that I get a look at your pretty face.”
“You keep up the teasing and I’m going to take it for real and do something about it.” Shuna smiled with a look that Skywise took for a challenge. The new Shuna was”¦more forward than her grandmother.
“I never tease Shuna, and one day you’ll find that out.” He winked.
“And too bad today isn’t that day.” Shuna remarked with a playful frown. She took a seat on the corner of the desk with her pants suit.
“Nope, I’m in need of your skilled hands to draw a sketch for me beautiful.”
And he went to telling her the story, the whole damn gruesome thing. Her face went from the usual happy impish one to fear to worry, the gambit of emotion. When he finished Skywise waited for Shuna to collect herself, to get her emotions back under wraps, and let her ask the question he knew was coming.
“You didn’t hurt her Skywise. I know you and you wouldn’t have hurt one hair on her head.” Shuna whispered.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence sweets, but do you think you could draw her face for me? I need to find out who she is so I can figure this out and a picture would help a whole lot.”
“Sure I can, just let me get my pad and pencil.” Shuna smiled before going to get the tools of her trade.
While Shuna walked over to grab a large pad and a pencil Skywise brought the image of the elf in the tub right to the forefront of his mind, the very top. He had to make sure the sketch was a match, a dead ringer just like Shuna if he wanted to find out who she was. He had to know her name if he wanted to find out why someone wanted her killed.
Cam heard the small shuffle of Bearclaw in his sleep but he didn’t move this time to help his friend. Leetah’s healing had taken the old badger past the point of danger so there was no need to keep a close vigil. Bearclaw would make a full recovery so there was no need to worry, yet Cam couldn’t stop wondering just what his old friend was dreaming.
The fight was done.
The circle of spectators, who just seconds before were frothing at the mouth like a bunch of mad dogs, was quiet now as the frenzy in the pit died down.
His knuckles bled and throbbed and hurt”¦and it felt damn good. It was a release, satisfaction to let the beast out. It was better to let go here in the underworld of pit fighting then up there in the real world, up there where he’d hurt someone again”¦kill them. As the announcer called out his name and lifted his arm in victory Bearclaw was letting the high of the fight wash away leaving just tired muscles and sore hands. The announcer let his weary appendage drop and he looked up to see an old familiar face staring back.
Cam, his old ”˜cut’ man and corner coach. He shook his head throwing sweat in a spray as he walked over.
I heard you’d gone underground”¦guess it was the last place to go after what happened to Ricky.
Rick ”˜The Crusher’ Mino”¦he was a good man. The kind you go have beer with and you let make fun of your shirt. It was just a bad draw that night a year ago, a bad spot with a referee who didn’t care to be in the ring that night. Bearclaw closed his eyes and he could still hear each punch land solid on Ricky’s face, a loud wet ”˜pop’ followed by a wicked crunch. One too many blows to the body, one last punch to the head and Ricky hit the blood spotted canvas like a fallen tree. Bearclaw opened his eyes and spoke.
How’s his wife and kids?
Cam shrugs his shoulders and makes the face that he knew too well, like someone just stuck a piece of stinky cheese right under his nose.
She moved away with the kids. Guess there were too many places that reminded her of old Ricky to take.
Yeah”¦too many places.
This was the spot where the dramatic pause you see in the movies comes in. The place where the heavy handed character you love to hate suddenly has the ”˜Oh High Ones! What have I done!’ moment and turns it all around. Cam wasn’t the type to let that happen though”¦and Bearclaw all ready had his moment”¦when they told him Ricky Mino was dead. He was still waiting to turn it around.
Two-Spear’s looking for you.
I didn’t ask when he swung by the gym. I learned a long time ago you don’t go kicking a junkyard dog, know what I’m saying? Cam asked.
Yep, the junkyard dog’s got nothing to lose he said with a smile.
Two-Spear had grown bolder and meaner over the last three years that Bearclaw had known him. The elf was robbing everyone blind, mobster and everyday Joe innocent alike, and he was doing it in a brutal fashion. The TMPD was finding bodies and cement shoes everywhere, like a path of destruction that led, right to Two-Spear.
And the crazy cone was staying in town! Everyone, and that included the Elders, was looking for him and Two-Spear hadn’t left the city limit!
Why do you think he likes you so much?
No, the guy at the corner gas station, of course Two-Spear!
I don’t know. Maybe he respects it when someone stands up to him
Respect and Two-Spear? Those two words don’t exactly mix. Cam started to walk out of the warehouse where the fights were taking place.
No, they don’t he laughed grabbing the old sweat jacket he always wore off a stack of canned goods as they passed it.
Mind if I ask how much you made tonight, going bare-knuckle and all Cam inquired.
Enough to get us a burger at Korilla’s. You in old man?
Old man”¦son you forget who taught you how to box?
Must have been the last few punches to the head Bearclaw winked
Cam just laughed and walked along side his old friend out into the street.