Here's the next Chapter guys...New players make the scene, Cutter ask a deep question, and Bearclaw wakes up...
Part Eight – Angels with wings…
“You looking for who?” Cam asked playing srupid.
The human was young, maybe in his twenties, and had the look of someone who was willing to hurt you to get what he wanted. His hair was jet black contrasting hard against the brown jacket he wore, greased back, and his eyes were a cold grey. A pair of black leather shoes, white wingtip shirt with a red tie, and dark blue chinos only added to the ‘mean’ that seemed exude from this cat Cam thought. The street preacher thought best to play it dumb, especially when the young man spoke a certain name.
“I’m looking for a cone pops, goes by the name Bearclaw. Word is you two were close friends.” The young man stated with a little frustration.
Cam chewed on his bottom lip for a minute, which added to the young man’s ill temper, before speaking. “Yeah, I knew that lowdown cone once long ago, but not after he walked out and he sure wouldn’t show up here. Nope, just us regular old humans and Pepper my dog stay in here.”
“You sure, I heard he drops in every once in a while.”
“Son, if you knew Bearclaw like I knew him then you wouldn’t be here asking me whether he’s here or not. You’d be down on the east side checking out the bars, heard he keeps a stool warm there these days.” Cam spat with a shake of his head.
The young man smiled, it looked evil and dripped mean. “I’ll do that, thanks for the help old timer.”
“Yeah, hey you feel like making a donation? A saw buck goes a long way in these parts.”
The man laughed, which made Cam’s spine tingle, as he produced a twenty from his pocket with a snap of his hand. “Sure thing, go buy the less fortunate a sandwich or something on me.”
“Sure thing,” Cam replied taking the folded bill. He watched the man exit the through the front door to the mission noting that the night was on them. The street preacher tucked the bill and turned as soon as the door closed heading to the back and his friend. He hated like hell calling Bearclaw a cone, but at the time the situation called for it Cam told himself. He rushed through the kitchen ignoring the volunteers cleaning up from the evening meal. Due to the nice weather outside the attendance was low and there was some left over. He picked up a bowl, some crackers, and a spare warm cloth before disappearing into the back of the mission to take care of his friend.
Outside the man walked down the sidewalk maybe half a block and crossed the street dodging a couple of Coupes and one old Woody. He walked up to a black Cadillac parked facing the door of the mission, the best way to see who was coming and going. The man went right to the back door and hopped in quickly taking a seat in the back with a third man while two very large men took up the whole front seat.
“Real inconspicuous boys, maybe you should hang out a sign that says ‘We’re watching you’.”
“We’re perfect Carl, no one’s gonna see us.” The man to his left said popping a piece of cinnamon candy into his mouth.
“Was he in there?” The well muscled passenger asked.
“Yeah Johnny, the street preacher tried to deny it, but Bearclaw’s in there.” Carl smiled with evil again looking to the man sitting next to him.
“That was twenty well spent; have to remember to thank Tabak for passing it on.” The man mumbled fixing his coat.
The driver looked into the rear view mirror to see his employer as he spoke. “Do you want us to go in and drag him out Mr. Djun?”
Angrif Djun sucked on the candy for a minute, shifted in his seat, and replied flatly. “Nah Mikey, dad says he wants to play this nice at the start, see if this Bearclaw will come clean without having to get dirty.”
The words were dry, hollow, and didn’t go unnoticed. Carl pulled out a switch blade, popped it open with a loud click. “You don’t seem to be all in with your dad right now.”
“Show’s that bad, huh? This thing won’t work Carl. We’re wasting our time chasing this drunk while we could be out getting our hands on the Scroll.” Angrif answered.
“Yeah, but then we know as much about where it is as everybody else.” Carl replied picking at his nails with the tip of his switch blade.
“Which ain’t much.” Mikey added with a sigh.
“Do you think this Bearclaw knows where it is?” Johnny asked
“Dear old Dad seems to think so, which is why we’re gonna sit and wait till our little rabbit comes out of his hole.” Angrif ordered with about as much enthusiasm as he could muster.
The other three didn’t reply, just hunkered down in the dark as the night life on the street passed them by. Angrif thought this was going to be a long night, a long wasted night.
He heard them laughing from the hall that ran to the kitchen and Cutter liked the sound. It reminded him of days back when the Wolfriders were a tribe and not a bunch of elves living in a mansion in the hills. Days when living meant running with the pack and the thrill of the hunt. When living was rough and feeling your blood course through your veins like the thunder that rolled across the cloudy night skies when danger came. Nights where you made love to your mate under the stars and moon on a bed of heather and clover becoming one with more, becoming a single name…a soul name.
The leader of the elves walked into the spacious kitchen still smiling. The feet upon feet of counter space along the walls housed all the appliances Nonna and the staff used to make living easy, too easy sometimes. A large island sat in the middle, and it sat his precious lifemate while the huntress stood next to her, both laughing like the old friends they had always been.
“Evening my chief.” Nightfall called out. She still called him that, teased him, when no one was around.
“Hello my love.” Leetah smiled before biting into a cookie.
“What’s got you two so happy?” He asked walking up and taking a spot by his lifemate. He felt Leetah lean back into him, her weight a reassuring comfort.
“Leetah was just telling me about her day.” Nightfall replied raising an eyebrow.
Cutter caught the sign, an old one from his huntress, and looked down to his lifemate with his own raised brow. “Did I miss something, or did you just forget to tell me something?”
“I did not forget to tell you…I just left it out as it wasn’t important.” Leetah smiled slyly.
“Not important enough for me, your lifemate and love?” Cutter acted shocked.
Nightfall shook her head laughing before answering. “No my chief, but you may be a little jealous.”
“Jealous of what?”
Leetah sighed and smiled looking into his blue eyes. “When we were leaving Cam’s I came across a fan, a very shy and excited human boy. He asked for my autograph…”
“Treestump said it was more like begging…and the boy kept stammering so bad Leetah could barely make out his name.” Nightfall added.
“I heard his name perfectly…after the third try.” Leetah objected before laughing again.
“Joyleaf said he asked Leetah out for a cup of coffee.” Nightfall winked.
“A cup of coffee? Now wait a minute-“ Cutter started holding up his hand while smiling playfully.
Before he could continue though the huntress shook her head and cut him squarely off. “Your lifemate saved the day my chief, politely informing the human that she was flattered-“
“But I was happily married and hopelessly in love with you.” Leetah finished.
“And you gave this man your autograph anyway.” Cutter smiled ruefully.
“He was nice my love…and in the end it’s just my signature.”
“If it helps he was so enamored by meeting our desert rose he walked into the door on the way out.” Nightfall giggled.
“Poor boy…fell flat on his rump.” Leetah giggled as Cutter smiled broadly behind her.
“Well I feel better then.”
“Lifemate!” Leetah squealed as the large glass door to the pool area opened. As Redlance entered Cutter turned and called out.
“Where have you been?”
“I was just checking on the plants and bushes by the pool.” Redlance smiled heading for the large refrigerator. He reached in then held out a bottle of beer for Cutter. “You want a drink?”
“How did you know I was thirsty?” Cutter mocked making Leetah giggle.
The beer wasn’t dreamberry wine, but it would sure do in a pinch. He took the bottle from Redlance and while taking a sip noticed just how close Nightfall and his lifemate was at the moment. Leetah was sitting with both legs gingerly wrapped around one of Nightfall’s legs while the huntress stroked a long slender finger up and down Leetah’s wrist, just enough to make contact and tingle the flesh. Cutter kept his eye on them and leaned over speaking to the treeshaper.
“I think they’re up to something.”
Redlance laughed, and blushed a little, as Nightfall leaned in closer to Leetah. “Was it always this hard to get these two in the furs with us?”
“It never was with Skywise.” Leetah smiled putting her head on Nightfall’s shoulder.
The mention of the stargazer’s name was enough to lower the mood in the kitchen. The look of happiness slowly disappeared off Cutter’s face as Redlance spoke. “I heard he stopped by. I’m sorry he didn’t stay when you asked.”
“How do you know I asked him to stay?” The chief asked not really surprised the treeshaper had deduced what was wrong.
“He’s you brother in all but blood, your family. You would do anything for him Cutter, even ask him to stay knowing he wouldn’t…couldn’t.” Redlance offered sliding in close enough to touch Cutter’s shoulder. Leetah and Nightfall kept quiet letting the master of the soft counsel work his own special magic.
“I know…but I had to ask, right?”
It was true Cutter thought. He’d have pleaded with Skywise to stay if he knew it would have worked, but deep down inside he also knew his stargazer wasn’t staying. He knew Skywise was more than the wolfsong, he had always known that. Skywise was the one who went out seeking adventure flying in the Palace and Cutter my friend, he told himself, was the one who kept to the ‘Way’…both feet firmly on the ground. Yet something bit at his flank and he just had to ask.
“Do you think this place is like a ‘cage’? That we hide away from the humans up here behind the walls?”
Redlance took a sip of the beer before answering. “For me…no, this place isn’t a cage, but then as long as I follow you and my huntress I’m content Cutter. I don’t want to know another way of life, the time in the Palace when we left the Abode the second time was enough for me. I think it was enough for a lot of us who prefer our feet on the ground around living green things, but it wasn’t enough for some who had grander dreams.”
“And we mix with humans everyday. Our treeshaper manages the Nursery with humans and I work for the studio which is run by humans. We don’t hide from them like the old days anymore.” Nightfall added.
“Some of us…others are fine staying in doors.” Leetah voiced looking in the direction of the hall where the Elders lived.
“I know…but is it so bad here it would drive an elf away?”
“Are we talking about Skywise or Bearclaw?” Redlance inquired with a sip of his beer.
“You know who?” Cutter growled suddenly.
Nightfall leaned in closer to Leetah letting the healer put an arm around her. “Bearclaw has his own reasons my chief for not staying or coming back and he will have to deal with them on his own, his way.”
“And these reasons, they have the same names as the Elders?”
“Bearclaw use to think a Wolfriders life was over in a flash so he lived like that, always on the edge ready to meet death. Now, he doesn’t have too and I think it has him trying to find a place in the world.” Leetah proffered.
“Maybe…but he’s too damn stubborn.” Cutter said taking a drink from the bottle.
“I think Bearclaw will come around, and I think he will need your help Cutter. He’ll need his cub by his side when the time comes.”
“You really think that way treeshaper?”
“I wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t my chief.” Redlance smiled taking the last sip from his beer.
“I say enough talk,” Leetah demanded getting up and walking over to take Redlance’s hand in hers pulling him close, “let’s go to bed and love all this away.”
“I agree with all my heart!” Nightfall seconded taking Cutter’s hand.
The four walked out of the kitchen arm in arm and hand in hand. The beer bottles were left out where Nonna found them later and threw them away. She smiled thinking of her elves and what they might be doing.
The room felt cold, barren even with all the High Ones standing around, and with no incense he could see everything for what it really was now. Even with his blood cleaned of it wolf part he could smell the fear they all had for him, for what he represented. Their eyes showed it too, and the way they all stood away form him, keeping their distance…it was all fear. He had done nothing to make them afraid except hang around one who didn’t play by their rules, these new ‘Elders’.
Someone just like himself.
”What are you smiling for Bearclaw?”
Haken was so full of himself even the sound of his voice sounded bloated he thought. “I was wondering why you didn’t have the incense burning.”
”We did not ask you here to answer questions I’m afraid Bearclaw.” Timmain offered calmly, motherly, like she always does.
It didn’t calm him this time. “Yeah, I know. So go on, get it done.” He growled meeting Haken with his own cold hard eye.
”Defiant to the end.” Haken stared back.
”You haven’t seen the worse yet.” He hissed squeezing his fist so tight the knuckles cracked.
”Please Haken, Bearclaw, this is hard enough as it is…do not make it worse.” Aslan, the gentle treeshaper, begged. He didn’t need to look to her to know she didn’t have the stomach for this, and neither did some of the others...like Timmain.
”We have voted Bearclaw, we the Elders-“ Timmain started.
Oh Mother Wolf, when did you lose control of your High Ones he asked himself? When did Haken and his bunch claim right over you and yours? We used to be your cubs, your children, and now what are we? Lost…scattering to the wind…no one to follow.
”-, and with heavy hearts our decision has been made. You, Bearclaw,-“
And its because of you, isn’t Haken? You with your one arm somehow took control of her and the others and bent them like soft steel to your will. When did it happen I wonder? Was it when we came back again and found these new humans more accepting and Timmain’s liking? Was it when she told us all to throw away our old feelings and fears of the five fingers and join them in this new world? Yeah, that had to be it, right at that point. You can’t stop hating them, the humans, and you can’t see any elf living with them hand in hand. It’s too hard to forget that first encounter, isn’t it Haken. Too hard to give up
”-for your association with Two-Spear, for even the remote possibility you were party to his abhorrent actions that took human life-
You want us locked away up here in the mansion, eh Haken? You want us kept away from the humans like we were in the Palace. Guess it hasn’t gone as planned? The WaveDancers chose the lake by the humans and what’s left of the Gliders followed that old bird right out the door and into the Mayor’s Mansion. That just leaves the Sun Villagers and my Wolfriders…and they won’t follow you either. That’s why you need the incense…why you need control of the High Ones…why you need Mother Wolf under your control.
”-you are now and forever banished from our midst. You will receive no help, no communication, and no favor from any elf in these walls. You must leave now, never to return…I am sorry.” Timmain finished, eyes filled with sadness. He didn’t need to see this either. He knew his Mother Wolf…knew what she was going through.
He just stared at his hated enemy and sent. My son will make this right and your house will come to an end one-arm.
If your son stands in my way I will have him banished…and humiliated just as I did you Bearclaw. Haken replied smiling with malice.
With a pop Bearclaw’s eyes snapped open and for a second he was lost between dream and reality.
He should be in the jail in chains…
No, he was at the mansion being…
Wait…I’m some where else he thought turning his head slightly to the right. From the yellowed ceiling that needed painting over to an old friendly face.
“Oh great-” Bearclaw mumbled after seeing’s Cam’s smiling face.
“Good morning princess, you have a nice nap?”
“-of all the faces to wake up to.”
“Damn straight, I look good and it goes all the way to the bone.” Cam laughed.
“How did I get here? I remember the jail and some men-“
“Yeah, they did a number on you son, walked all over you like the dance floor down at Jimmy’s Juke Shack.” Cam said pulling up a stool to the bed side with his foot.
“Funny, I don’t have a bruise…she showed up didn’t she?” Bearclaw asked going back to starring at the ceiling. He all ready knew the answer.
“Yeah, Joyleaf came to check on you and she brought Mrs. Leetah to heal you. I was hoping she could fix that ugly mug of yours but ain’t nothing gonna help that face.” Cam answered shaking his head while putting the tray in his friends lap.
The remark made Bearclaw snort with laughter for a second before he turned back to Cam. “You know when I get up I’m gonna hurt you bad old man.”
“Yeah…I know…now eat something before I have to get mean with you.”