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somerset1979

Quote:

You've really got me wondering who the dead elf girl is. Skywise's morning dilemma was entertaining, and the part of Cutter with his feelings of uselessness was sad and sweet. Can't wait to see how he deals with it. I also hope Bearclaw gets out of his meeting in one piece.

My only questions are: How did Sam know Bearclaw's name? Just because he's so well known around there or as a fighter? And didn't Nightfall work at the studio, too?

Sorry, little nit-picky questions. Anyway, can't wait to read more!

(And for some reason I can't stop imagining the scene where Cutter, Leetah, Redlance and Nightfall are in the kitchen and wondering if it's elf-sized, or if they all are only shoulder high to the counters. I find the mental picture very amusing.)



Good questions jeb, and you will see just what Nightfall does for the new tribe. Like before its a few different things. And the elves, like in Elfwest, are all almost human sized. Cutter is 5'10 while Leetah is 5'8.

Just stick around and you'll have all the answers...

But for now NEW CHAPTER!!!

Skywise has a meeting, as does Bearclaw and Kureel...


Part Nine – We’re Doing What?

He hated this house, it gave him the willy’s the second he walked through the large wooden front door. The way the hinges screamed when it swung open sure didn’t help with the heebie-jeebies. There were places back in Blue Mountain Kureel didn’t go unless forced, deep and dark and owned by a certain mistress. He wanted no business with those places, holes where she did things to your mind, things that locked you away forever behind cold lifeless eyes. Names, old as time it seemed, floated at the back of his mind when he started to think of those days…

Brace…

Door…

Now there was one elf he desperately wanted to forget. He sure as hell had tried down at the local watering hole. There wasn’t enough whiskey in the glass to forget that crazy-

“Kureel!”

The snap in her voice made him jump and Kureel wondered just how close Winnowill was to Door in the crazy aisle. “Sorry…was thinking to myself.”

“I hope it was about the issue at hand.”

“It was about Door.” He whispered looking around the small living room.

Winnowill had a second house, bought and paid for under an alias, to conduct her private affairs without attracting attention, kind of like Door showing up unannounced in your personal library. It was quaint one story house buried back in a cul-de-sac in an assuming neighborhood of older families and famous humans who acted in the movies for the Djun. The kind of place where there were very few kids playing in yards and fewer friends were talking at the fence. Privacy and seclusion took precedence over the PTA here. She kept the rooms dark, no light but that coming from candles burning in sconces and stands everywhere. Drapes, thick black velvet, covered the windows to the outside giving her even more privacy. The small foyer opened to the living room, which is all Kureel and Reevol had ever seen and all Kureel wanted to see of the house. The room was decorated with a large leather couch and a high backed chair that resembled a throne to the detective. There was a set of French doors to the south that led out of the room, covered in black velvet to hide what was behind, and to the east was a archway leading to other rooms. More of those black drapes covered the opening closing off prying eyes…and that was okay to Kureel.

“Door is not the problem here.” Winnowill said coldly from her chair.

“He’s a joker in the deck ma’am, a wild card that changes everything.” Reevol explained sitting next to Kureel on the leather couch.

“He is not a concern.” She hissed.

“He showed up at the mansion and he knows about the Scroll…that makes him a very big concern to us.” Kureel countered.

She looked at him hard, like so many times in his long past, but Kureel didn’t flinch. He still feared her a little, but these days their relationship was based on something a little more tangible…greed. He got a few extra bills in his pocket and she got someone to do the really dirty things for her. Oh, and he got to stay close to Voll which was always a good play, keeping the ones with power in hands reach.

“Are you afraid of Door Kureel?”

“Not really,” he responded giving her a hard stare back, “I just like to know what he’s doing in this game. You did keep locked away for a long time so who can tell what he’s capable of now.”

The living room, all ready a cold place, dropped a good five or ten degree from the harsh eyes. Reevol looked from one to the other, from Kureel to Winnowill, before speaking up hoping to break them up. “Listen, if we get the Scroll first then Door isn’t a problem, right?”

Winnowill never backed down from Kureel, but she did answer. “He’s not a problem right now.”

“That might change.” Kureel snipped.

“And if it does we’ll deal with it.” Reevol chirped trying to get one of the two to quit trying to be the heavy.

“Like you ‘dealt’ with the girl?” Winnowill asked quickly with enough attitude for four people causing Reevol to suddenly choke.

“She wasn’t the lamb we thought she was. She’d been followed before, probably sensed something was wrong there at the bus depot, and was gone in a flash with the crowd.”

“Yeah, she just mixed in with everyone else and poof…gone.” Reevol added.

“She didn’t show up until she was floating in the stargazer’s tub.” Kureel finished.

To hear the whole debacle made Winnowill upset, made her chew on her bottom lip with frustration. She couldn’t believe how close they had come to getting the girl to just have her slip away…poof…it was more than a little disconcerting. It was almost in her grasp and now it felt miles away.

“We’re not out of the race yet Winnowill.” Kureel suddenly proffered. His hand had come up and his fingers slipped under the collar of his shirt. He could feel the scar there, a nice long one left by an arrow from a certain archer.

It reminded him there was unfinished business to attend to.

The corner of Winnowill’s mouth turned up just a hint. She knew Kureel, liked the way his mind worked. It was why she kept him around. “And what is that my friend?” The detective lowered his hand from his neck, from the scar Winnowill knew still bothered him, as she whispered. “What is your cruel mind thinking?”

“We know where Skywise will end up. If he’s as curious as we know he can be he’ll end up in only one spot.” Kureel explained dropping his hand on the top of his fedora that sat in his lap.

“And we’ll be there to say ‘Hi’.” Reevol snickered.

“So…you’ll let the stargazer do most of the work?”

“Why not let him do all the leg work? I’d rather risk his neck than mine.”

The small smile grew as Winnowill took what her lackey said and pondered on it. He was right, the stargazer would end up in just one spot if he kept turning over rocks and looking underneath, and they could be there waiting to say more then just ‘Hi’.

“I think you may be correct Kureel.” She grinned evilly.

Now this was the Winnowill of old Reevol thought with a shudder. Kureel looked around the room absently…he still didn’t like the house.

************

Korilla’s café was a nice place, a break from the outside dreary. It was bright and cheerful and very clean which was a welcomed boon after leaving Moe’s. Skywise sat in the last booth in the back away from all the customers watching Korilla play with two human kids sitting with their mother at the counter. She was a pretty Wavedancer, shame she was barren he thought. Korilla would have made the perfect mother to a cub…to a baby. Instead this diner was her child and she treated with the same love she would have given a daughter or son that came from her flesh. The bell on the front door rang out loudly and a single individual walked in moving right toward him. He was dressed in khaki chinos, brown wingtips, and a white shirt under a brown sport coat. His face was hidden under a brown Fedora, but Skywise knew who he was.

The individual took the seat across from him sliding on the cushion. One of Korilla’s waitresses walked up and dropped off a cup of steaming coffee without being asked leaving the pair alone.

“Glad to see you again.” The stargazer quipped with his usual smile.

“I could have lived without seeing you.” The individual grumbled to his company pulling the cup of coffee over while taking off his hat.

“Sorry for the way it was done…I had no choice.” Skywise apologized.

The individual took his hat and his face was just as the stargazer remembered it, weathered and rock hard like a piece of granite that wouldn’t break if you hit it with a hammer…repeatedly.

“Just tell me what you want to know so I go home.” Icetooth hissed sipping his coffee.

The stargazer sighed sensing this was going to be about as pleasant as the interrogation room down at the TMPD. He pulled out the sketch Shuna had drawn and opened it for his…what do you call someone who hates you? “I need to know who she is-“

The elf eyed the sketch hard, but for just a moment his only eye seemed to widen with surprise then close back to its normal size. It must have been too fast for Skywise to notice as he didn’t mention it. “You’re asking me if I know who she is or if I know someone who might know someone who could give you a name.” The gnarly elf replied cutting Skywise off.

“Yeah, that’s it exactly. I’ve asked around in all the spots I know of-“

“You mean all the spots your not afraid to go, right?”

The last was a clear shot at him, but Skywise kept his emotions in check. “That’s right. No one’s seen her in legit circles so I’m guessing she might run in a different crowd…”

“Oh,” Icetooth whistled, “you mean the kind where she might make dirty pictures or get paid for a roll in the furs. You think she’s runs in that crowd?”

Skywise shook his head knowing where Icetooth was going. No elf had ever participated in the Porn or Prostitution rackets of the city, none that he knew of. Lust for such things was a pure human emotion it seemed and the elves had no need for either ‘businesses’ that the families controlled. They all played nice and by the whims of the Elders Skywise decided, all except for old Two-Spear. He walked his own path and he did it with style. No, the PI was sure the girl wasn’t into either things…but he need confirmation.

“I can’t find anyone who knows her. No one in any of the bars or hot spots knows who she is, even the automat where everyone goes to get seen drew a blank. “

“And you think I can help you find her?” Icetooth spat.

“Why do you think I called you?” Skywise snapped finally letting his frustration go.

“Let me rephrase that, why do you think I would help you at all?” Icetooth asked with a cold word.

The stargazer pointed to the sketch calmly. “I’m not asking you for help, she is.”

No one really knew what Icetooth did for a living. He was like that guy in the back of the room everyone just seemed to stir clear of without really knowing why. What Skywise did know was the elf had a connection to just about everyone in town, from the cream at the top to the dregs at the bottom. You wanted something, and there was no ‘easy’ way to get it, then you went to Icetooth and he found it for you. The PI watched closely as the elf with all the connections stared at the sketch for a moment before talking.

“You sure you want to do this?”

“Do what?”

“Don’t play me stargazer, I’m not some doe-eyed female off the bus. I heard how she ended up and if you step on the wrong toes then you’ll end up in a different tub.”

Skywise shook his head with a determined look. “I don’t care. I need to find out who she is, why she…was killed.”

“And then what, huh? You going to go to the law and tell them everything?”

“I’ll decide what to do when I get to that bridge.”

“What if the answers you get don’t sit well with your delicate nature?” Icetooth asked harshly.

Those emotions were starting to boil over for Skywise, yet he still kept his cool. “She died all alone, scared and who know’s what Icetooth. I need to set this right. I need for her to know that I didn’t just let her die for nothing.”

Maybe it was the look in the P.I.’s eyes or maybe it was his last words that finally swayed the old one-eyed elf. Whatever it was that made Icetooth choose it must have been a hard struggle because it came down favorable for the stargazer. Icetooth reached into his pocket and pulled out a card with an address written down on it.

“Be here by four this afternoon. I’ll only call once and if your not there then what ever I got goes with me.”

Skywise recognized the place immediately as he took the card and read the words, a spot called ‘Maxi’s Pool Hall’, a real dive. He nodded accepting the requirement, but it meant little to Icetooth. He was all ready up and moving for the door. The stargazer looked down to the card and the address while sipping his coffee.

Now he just needed one more break and he might find out who this elf was.

*************

Word around town was the Djun’s mansion, all one-hundred rooms of it, was a spectacle to behold. You could stay there a whole week and not view all the treasures that the studio proprietor had acquired. The place was more like a museum Bearclaw had heard which made sense since even the heart of the mansion itself was an antique. The Djun had the main body of the mansion, a real honest to goodness castle that was the original home of the first Grohmul, moved from its old home in a remote spot in the mountains to its present day location in the hills outside of town, stone by stone and rock by rock hauled across the ocean. Workers put all back together, and even added three large wings onto the castle forming some kind of amalgamation of old and new, modern and past.

Of course it was all for show, nothing more than an ‘I got the biggest one in town’ trophy.

As they drove up to the large, spacious, and just way too damn long driveway of the big estate Bearclaw was thinking just that very thought about size. When the car turned onto the lane though he started to think they had made a mistake and he was going back to the elves compound. He almost told the big leg breaker driving the car to turn around and head back. He wasn’t allowed at the compound anymore, didn’t they know this, but then the first of a whole lot of Pecan trees appeared lining the long drive up to the house. The Djun’s mansion looked really large on the horizon and it just grew the closer they got, the opulence making him sick to his stomach with each passing minute

And it only got worse when he walked through the large doors of the castle following Angrif, both portals shaped to look like a drawbridge. Bearclaw wondered how they got the heavy wooden entries to swing so easily when he watched old human dressed a lot like Adar push on them with one hand to allow them to enter. On the inside everything was on display, artifacts and objects and rugs and tapestries seemed to leap out at you from the cold grey stone of the walls, all of it meant to enhance one’s view of the Grohmul Djun and his ‘home’.

I wonder if he actually sleeps here Bearclaw thought as Angrif led him through the entry way, down a hall, and into a large sunlit room with a vaulted ceiling. The smell of cooked food wafted across his nostrils and Bearclaw felt his stomach rumble as he caught sight of a vision. Huge oak timbers held up the roof over a long oak table that looked right in place with the Castle motif. The old wolf though didn’t care about that. He only had eyes for the platters of food sitting on an Oak dining table.

“Told you Dad puts out a nice spread, but don’t wait on me, go ahead and dig in while I tell him you’re here.”

Angrif wasn’t a foot out the door before Bearclaw had a plate in his hand stacking it full of anything and everything. There were fried eggs, which he swallowed whole, and bacon and sausage and pancakes and…it really didn’t matter to him. He just ate, and when Bearclaw’s hunger was sated he finally took a look around the dining room. There were the usual antique side boards and decorations, but the paintings hanging evenly at the same height from the floor really caught his eye. The old wolf took note that each portrait was of a Djun ancestor and they were all in chronological order as far as he could tell. Most were men, but a female popped in once or twice, and each had a pose that made them look regal and dominant. Some stood by a podium while others sat in chairs with dogs at their sides, and all looked more…what was the word? Bearclaw wasn’t sure, it was just each one seemed…unreal, made up. There was an empty spot at the end, a space meant for-

“I call it my Hall of Fame.”

The voice was low and powerful. It stopped Bearclaw in his thought as he turned to see the doorway filled with a large broad human in white Chino’s and a white dress shirt, like a man dressed to watch a tennis match. The grey hair was slicked back with a sharp divide down the right side, but this Djun was a dead ringer for his ancestor Bearclaw thought. He turned back to the portrait of the first Grohmul and then back to the newer version.

“You look just like him.”

Grohmul the second just smiled and started to walk over. Behind him Angrif strolled and if you were to put a hundred pounds on him he might start to look like his old man. The head man in charge, and owner of the studios smiled as he stopped by the painting.

“Handsome runs in the family.”

“Does stealing too?”

The question made Angrif’s eyebrows raise and Bearclaw figured no one had ever challenged old Grohmul openly and lived to talk about it. Yet the Djun just smiled even larger and quipped. “You mean the Palace? Yeah, the old man did try and take it, but now it’s just the Museum that robs us when I go to look at it.”

“Yeah,” Bearclaw replied watching the human dodge the question with some panache.

“You’re probably wondering why I invited you here.”

“You mean it wasn’t to impress me with your food or the house?” Bearclaw remarked with mock shock.

Again Angrif looked a little stunned from the comment, but Grohmul laughed heartily at the dig. He walked over to the long dining table and laid down a black leather scrapbook had been carrying. Bearclaw took a bite of a piece of Mango while following looking at the scrapbook and as soon as he saw what it held he snorted.

“I’ve been a fan of yours for quite sometime Bearclaw and I so wanted to meet in person.” Grohmul grinned slowly flipping over the pages revealing clipping after clipping of news stories about the amazing elf with a perfect record. “I’ve see all your fights, from the early ones right up to when you should have got the title shot. It wasn’t right for the commission to throw you out of boxing, especially when it was just an accident what happened to Ricky Mino.”

The clippings in the scrapbook conveniently changed from touting a brilliant fighter to a horrible accident that took a man’s life, the words ‘Beat to Death’ in large black block news lettering. The memories of that night crawled out from the buried spot in Bearclaw’s mind as he looked up from the scrapbook to Grohmul. Ricky’s face, all bruised and mashed like someone had hit him with a hammer appeared and he just tried to push it away.

“They did what they had to.” The old wolf stated coldly.

“I know, but that doesn’t make it right.” Grohmul replied in a voice that started to sound a lot like someone trying to be a friend. “I don’t think it was right to take away what makes someone what they are…take away that part of you that howls at the moon with an unwavering blood lust. It was a punishment that was more than the crime.”

The hair on the back of Bearclaw’s neck stood up all at once and those old feelings of survival from back in the days when he fought the five-fingers took over. Suddenly he was trying to remember where the exits were as his eyes narrowed to slits and the Djun continued on.

“When you went underground, fighting in the Pits, I found you. I watched you unleash the beast those nights in the cage, letting the wolf out to hunt and fight. There’s a reason you were so damn good Bearclaw and it wasn’t technique…it was instinct…it was sheer perseverance.”

“You know what,” Bearclaw whispered looking over to Angrif noting the door and its angle from where he stood while speaking, “why don’t you tell me the real reason you brought me up here.”

“I’m an admir-“Grohmul started.

“You got one minute to tell me what you want or this gets ugly.” Bearclaw spat cutting the human off.

If Grohmul Djun was worried he sure didn’t show it. He just kept on smiling and turned over another page in the scrapbook keeping his eyes on Bearclaw the whole time. The news clippings switched again and this time the big block lettering gave away the real reason for the meeting. The old wolf saw the words and felt his blood go cold, and then heat up.

The reign of the dangerous Two-Spear continues with…

The Djun spoke up seeing his guest’s red face. “I want to do a movie, a gangster one, and who better then the greatest gangster of all time.”

“Are you serious?” Bearclaw whispered feeling his anger grow.

“Dad never bluffs when it comes to the movies or money.” Angrif joked drawing a fast hard look from his father.

“Why do you think anyone would pay to see a movie about him?” Bearclaw asked.

The Djun took over the conversation again turning his attention back to the old wolf. “I think people will come to the theaters in droves to see the real story of Two-Spear on the screen…and I need the real story from the ones who knew him.”

“You want me to tell you about the ‘real’ Two-Spear…like we were best friends or something?”

“You and Two-Spear were together several times, enough to draw the suspicion of the TMPD and your own people. You probably know things about him that my writers could never find! You’re a wealth of information.” Grohmul said excitedly with a clenched fist.

“All you need to know is in those clippings, every last dirty act.” Bearclaw spit.

“For one side of him yes, but I want to capture the other side of Two-Spear. I want to show that he wasn’t just mad, but that he was a deep thinker.” Grohmul offered trying to make his guest see what he wanted.

“Deep thinker?” Bearclaw stammered.

Grohmul pointed to the scrapbook, to a single clipping, and kept up his excited speech. “This only tells me that Two-Spear left the city and held up banks and stores on his way to somewhere, but then suddenly he turned around and was on his way back to the city for some reason when the law finally caught up to him in a final gun battle.”

“You think he came back because of some deep thought?”

“Maybe, but who would know except those that he took into his confidence...someone like you.”

“Two-Spear didn’t say a word to me mister about why he was coming back, not a word, so asking me anything is useless.” Bearclaw explained with a low husky voice.

“He’s on the crime spree of a lifetime and then out of the blue turns around and heads back to the city where every cop is waiting for him and tells no one? He didn’t say one word to you why he did a 180 and started back here after leaving a trail of destruction heading north for a week?” Angrif asked taking over from his father.

The old wolf turned to the younger Djun and eyed him just as hard as his did his father a second before. “We weren’t close enough to have pillow talk.”

“Maybe he left you a note or a letter with a fri-“

Bearclaw took two steps forward abruptly getting close enough the Djun to smell his cologne while cutting him off. The move surprised Angrif, and even though Grohmul outweighed the elf and had the obvious height advantage the younger Djun still reached for the concealed gun he always carried with him. Something really set the old wolf off this time.

“Listen, and hear every word! There was no deep side to Two-Spear, none that any of us ‘close’ to him ever saw. He did whatever whim popped into his infected head and did it without asking for permission. He never called me or left me a letter so I don’t know why he was coming home. Now, go back to your writers and have them make a movie about that!”

The room went quiet, an awkward thick kind that made you think a funeral procession just passed by. Angrif was about to say something when his father beat him. “So you won’t help us, me, with this project?”

“No…thanks for breakfast.” Bearclaw stated calmly with the attitude of stone.

“Not even for your biggest fan?”

“Not even if you were my mother, now who gets to drive me back to the city.” Bearclaw finished with a hard glare for Grohmul.

Angrif didn’t say a word, he didn’t need to. He just held out his hand for Bearclaw to follow and fell just a step behind as the elf left the dining room. He gave instructions to his follower to drive Bearclaw back to the city and when the car disappeared out of sight he went back to the dining room. Angrif saw his father sitting half-on half-off the dining room table eating a piece of fruit while smiling at the portrait of the first Grohmul.

“I take it you think that went well.” The junior Djun asked before taking a bite of eggs off a platter and stuffing them home in his mouth.

The second Grohmul looked to him still smiling. “He acted just like I thought he would.”

“You expected him to blow up like that?” Angrif asked taken back a little by his father’s attitude.

“I wasn’t lying when I said I was his biggest fan. I knew he’d get angry enough to hit me the second I mentioned Two-Spear…and he got even madder when I mentioned he had one last contact with him.”

Angrif smiled and nodded accepting his father’s word. “So he did have one last talk with that crazy conie, but I thought we needed him to tell us what Two-Spear told him right before the big shoot out.”

The senior Djun laughed hard filling the dining room with the sound, a high pitched crazy laugh. “He won’t have to say a word. He’s going to lead us right where we need to go!”

“And where’s that?”

“Only he knows my son…only that old wolf knows. Keep an eye on him for me, won’t ya?”

The younger Djun nodded his head even though he didn’t understand what his father was getting at and wondered just what the meeting gained them; other then they confirmed Bearclaw knew something he wasn’t telling anyone. He watched his father pick up another piece of fruit and leave the room the way he came in, brash and bold. Angrif wasn’t sure what his father was doing but for now he’d play along. When the time was right he’d make his play for the top spot…just had to get a few things in line first.