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WiseShaman

New Chapter! Cutter and Bearclaw end working together while Rayek has a visitor...


Part 13 – I won’t ask nicely

The restaurant was one of the finest in town. It had a modern style yet clung to a simpler past in the food served on its decorative plates. The dining rooms were contemporary, starched white table cloths with razor sharp pleats draped over square tables lined in perfect rows greeted each diner as they entered the three separate spaces. Fresh flowers in starch white vases seemed to stand at attention on each table, a simple yet elegant approach to a dining experience. It wasn’t over pretentious or under stated. It was just the right touch and it was perfect for Rayek. He ate lunch at the restaurant every day, always at the same time of 12:30 and always at the same table.

Call it a perk for owning such a grand eatery.

As he sat reading the business section of the paper scanning the latest on mergers, acquisitions, and the general pulse of the city’s economy Rayek failed to notice the approach of someone to his table. His nose though caught the scent of a certain perfume and he knew who it was.

“I have nothing to say to you.”

“That is so very cold Rayek, but then again I should expect as much from someone of your…breeding.”

The last bit made his lip curl just a little, it always would. He looked up to see the smug smile of Winnowill staring down at him from across the table. She was dressed in a modern black dress that clung to just the right spots and showed just the right amount of leg for the time. Her hair was pulled back and streamed down her back. The remark was her way of reminding him of just where his station was next to her, how she saw him still, the lowly Sun Villager while she claimed a lineage right to the Elders. Yet Rayek recovered like he had always done with her and Cutter.

“It should not surprise you that much Winnowill. I mean I held you captive for so long inside my body you had to have had time to look around and take note of my breeding.”

That was his way of making sure she understood the whole Elder lineage meant nothing to him. Once long ago he had desired to meet and learn with the High Ones, but that was another time, another world so far away. He reminded her he had once been strong enough to hold her prisoner against her will and he was still just as strong.

“Well,” she remarked with a warm smile sitting down at the table noting the look of disgust in Rayek’s face and loving it, “I see your inflated sense of self has not declined in the least.”

“What do you want?” Rayek asked not sure what to make of this…version of Winnowill.

“So direct Rayek, that is the true measure of a business man, or so I have been told.” Winnowill replied with a cock of her head.

“My lunch Winnowill, it is something I enjoy immensely. The chef prepares a special meal just for me and I like to eat it and savor every bite.” He quipped snapping the paper shut across his knee still lost as to what was unfolding.

“It sounds enticing.”

“It is, but if you are still here then I am afraid it will not be anymore. So, what do you want?”

“Why do you detest me so Rayek?”

“You’re asking me this, after all this time and after what we have been through?”

“Yes,” Winnowill replied running her long fingers over the tablecloth, “I think about it often. I do this because without you returning me to my new body in the Palace I would not be here now.”

“I know the true you black snake,” he whispered harshly tiring of her and using the old name Cutter had always used for her, “and from that I have garnered my reasons to stay away.”

“How is Ekuar these days?” Winnowill asked abruptly trying to change subjects, move the conversation in another direction.

“He is fine, enjoys the comfort of our home more than coming to town, but you didn’t come here to ask about him or banter with me Winnowill so get on with it.” Rayek answered feeling tired all ready of playing her game. How did he last with her inside of him for so long?

The wife of the mayor, lovemate to Voll, leaned forward in her chair. The coyness she had displayed thus far seemed to just drip off her face leaving the black snake hissing at the table. “What are you and Mr. Aramak up to Rayek?”

He leaned back in his chair, to gain separation you might think, but Rayek was just making sure he didn’t miss a thing in her face. “He has been asking for donations to his re-election fund. He has been offering certain advantages if I open my checkbook.”

“No he has not my old lover. You two have been meeting in secret for some time, and an odder pair I could not imagine. A human who has no taste for our kind going to one of us for money? No, you two are working on something. ” Winnowill whispered as cool as the north wind.

“Now why would I lie to you Winnowill, especially if it only slows your departure?” Rayek remarked with a raised eyebrow.

“Because you have your reasons, as you stated so nicely just a minute ago.”

The two stared at each other for a second, one long awkward but anger filled moment. Then Winnowill rose with a grace reserved for dignitaries and ended the meeting with cold hard eyes. “I will keep my eye on you Rayek, very closely and very carefully. This endeavor you and Mr. Aramak are pursuing, it will net you nothing. I will see to that myself.”

And with a whirl of black she was gone, storming out in the swish of a casual walk that caught many a man’s eye. If anything Winnowill could still capture a man’s desire with the bounce of her frame, like a fisherman using the right bait to land the big catch. There was no telling how many men in this town were wrapped around her fingers. He was sure Mr. Aramak was not one of them though, to that point Winnowill was right. The man wanted nothing to do with elves and if they all left in the Palace today he would be the first to break out in a dance in the town square.

Too bad he would never get to do that dance Rayek thought going back to his paper. Soon his lunch arrived and he did get to eat it with some enjoyment. He kept thinking though, what was Winnowill up to with her…warmth? She knew he and Aramak had a business relationship, maybe she was trying to see just what it was about? He hoped that was all she was here for.

############################

Five minutes.

How long is that really, one stop light? Getting stuck behind a slow driver for a few blocks? It felt like an eternity to Treestump as he raced from the Diner to that dive where he knew Cutter was headed. The Trolls controlled everything below 6th street, owned all the illegal businesses and Ironbar ran it with a gun in each hand. He could see Cutter walking into that old bar, the smell of cheap whiskey and Trolls draping over everything like heavy cloth, and trying to force someone to talk.

Only problem was no one in Troll Town talked…ever, down here if you opened your mouth about someone else and their business then that someone made sure you never talked again. Examples were scattered among the unsolved case files of the TMPD Homicide unit. He never thought, even gave it a second of an idea, that Cutter would end up in that pile of unsolved cases.

Then he saw the lad’s car sitting in the bar’s parking lot…and well he had to start thinking.

“What are we waiting for?” Joyleaf asked from the backseat.

“We need to wait, get a plan together before we go stepping into one of Ironbar’s places.

“Wait?!” Joyleaf yelped in disbelief.

“Yes, wait. We have no idea what, or who, is inside that place. We just can’t go in with our guns out!” Treestump spat.

“But Cutter is in there and he needs our help!” Leetah pointed out with her words and finger.

One-Eye saw his friend and partner getting frustrated with the ladies in the back seat. It was just piling up for old Stump, the beating at the station for Bearclaw and now missing Cutter by just a minute; yeah it was just piling up. “Joyleaf, we have to be careful, get our wits wrapped o‘round this.”

“And while we wait my cub is in there with a bunch of Trolls who want to hurt him.”Joyleaf hissed.

“Why can you not just flash your badges and get Cutter out of there?” Leetah asked in exasperation.

“This isn’t some movie Leetah! Our badges don’t mean a lot down here, maybe even nothing. The Trolls run it all, even the cops who walk the beat down here, so we’re gonna si-“

“I’m not sitting here while my cub is in there!” Joyleaf stated cutting off Treestump.

The statement went over about as well as Haken to clap. Treestump growled while spinning in his seat and pointed a finger at his sister. “Sit your fanny down in that seat!”

“I’m going to get my CUB!” She yelled back.

“Please you two, calm down!” Leetah soothed trying to stop the fight before it got to blows, and somehow it just might between the brother and sister.

The inside of the car was hot, with emotion and heat. One-Eye turned intent on helping Leetah get a hold of his partner and Joyleaf when it all came to stop. The sound of two shots echoed from inside the bar and everyone in the car froze with fear. They were afraid to move, afraid they might hear another loud boom from a gun, but when they didn’t One-Eye whispered out loud to anyone in particular.

“Guess we might have to wait o’bit more then we planned.”

######################

‘The Shaft’.

An old bar on an inconspicuous street deep in what the people of Two-Moons called Troll Town. It had been around awhile, seen better days years ago, and was owned by one Ironbar. He liked the old joint, for what reason he kept to himself. There wasn’t much room, on one side of the slim room a long bar ran from the front door all the way to the back where a set of steps went up to doors for the can, or toilet depending on how you were raised. Behind the bar was the usual wall of liquor bottles and such. There were a set of booths raised off the floor running down the other wall which left just enough room for a person of say Human size to walk between both. How a Troll navigated the bar was mystery that other races didn’t get a chance to discover. You see, ‘The Shaft’ only served Trolls, big green beautiful Trolls…until this afternoon.

He had an idea this place was one step above the cave he used to visit Picknose in all the time back in the Holt, it just had that dark dank look as he pulled up. It didn’t look like the kind of place a delivery guy would come on his bike, but who was keeping track of that. Cutter had shifted New Moon around to his hip as he walked up to the door of ‘The Shaft’ bar. When he got inside, when the smell hit his nose, well his estimation of the joint dropped a lot of notches. It was as dark as that old Troll cave, but that cave never smelled like this place did. There was a combination of rank odors all around, smoke from cigarettes and cigars, sweaty Troll musk, cheap booze spilled on the carpet and something that Cutter had never come across before. He made a mental note to have Leetah heal any part of him that touched anything in this place, twice!

“Hey look, it’s a Cone.” A Troll at the bar laughed.

Every eye in the place that wasn’t all ready staring at Cutter, and that may have been no one, turned to look at the nicely dressed elf standing in the doorway. The Chief of the Wolfriders kept one hand in his pants pocket just an inch away from New Moon as he walked up to the bar, right up next to the one who had called him a Cone. “What have you got on tap in this place?”

“Nothin’ for you Cone.” The Troll behind the bar answered while chewing on a toothpick.

“Yeah, we don’t serve your kind here.” Another troll down the bar hissed.

“Even if I was paying double, you don’t have a thing for me?” Cutter asked holding up a wad of bills he pulled out of his jacket pocket with his other hand.

The bar went silent, all those wisecracks dried up really quick when the money came out. It was dangerous to tempt the hungry wolf Cutter thought, but sometimes it was the only way to get what you wanted and right now he wanted a certain Troll that hung out in this place.

“What you looking for Cone? It’s not a drink that’s for sure.” The bartender remarked making the toothpick in his mouth dance up and down with each word.

You’re right on that one, drinking in this toilet wasn’t on my list of things to do today Cutter thought as he spoke. “I’m looking for a certain Troll, a friend you might now.”

“Ain’t no Troll friends with a Cone.” One of the patrons spoke up drunkenly from the back.

“What makes you think we’ll just give this Troll up to you?” The Troll to Cutter’s right growled.

“I told you I’d pay double for what I want. I bet one of you in here knows a Troll by the name of Bite. I bet if I offered a hundred for him he’d suddenly show up.” Cutter called out dropping the money on the bar with a loud plop.

There, the bait’s out, now who’s gonna take it. Cutter looked around the room and no one moved. The Trolls sat right where they had been sitting for who knew how long eyeing him. So, it was going to have to be the hard way. He turned back to the bartender and locked eyes taking stock in a split second of the Troll. He was one to worry about, but he had no intention of making the first move. Cutter watched the one on his right out of the corner of his eye, the only one in the whole place who would make the first move he knew. No one took the offer so he was going to usher this along.

“No one’s got a sweet tooth in here? And you call yourselves Trolls.” Cutter laughed hoping he pushed the right button.

And he did.

All at once the Troll to his right, the one Cutter figured would make the first move, jumped up going for a .45 tucked away in his waistband. He was big, not that quick, and after a few drinks kind of clumsy in reaching for the guns grip. Someone screamed as Cutter moved so fast his hand was a blur bringing New Moon up and out its hiding spot. The nickel plated barrel of the .45 slammed into the mouth of the Troll with a loud thwack as New Moon drew blood once more. The blow drove the Troll’s head back and up which gave New Moon just enough room to fit snug right under the jaw. In a blink Cutter had disarmed the Troll and turned the tables in the sudden skirmish. Trolls scattered and dropped down below their tables, all except two, the bartender and one sitting at the end of the bar. That Troll looked like he was just waiting at the bus stop, calm cool and collected.

“Where’s Bite?” Cutter snarled loud enough for everyone in the bar to hear.

“He ain’t here, don’t come by anymore.” The Troll gurgled with New Moon pressing heavily against his jaw and throat.

“Then where does he hang out these days?”

The bar was quiet again, for a minute, when suddenly the Troll at the end of the bar, the calm cool one, just gave up the ghost and broke for the swinging door to the kitchen. Cutter caught a glimpse of the Troll’s backside as it disappeared through the door but he also saw the bartender reaching for something behind the wall of liquors took his full attention. With a second move that was as fast as the first he pulled the Troll’s own .45 out from the waistband and fired two quick shots on either side of the bartender’s head stopping the Troll dead in his tracks. Someone, along with two more this time, screamed out as glass broke and cheap liquor poured over the bartender.

The bar was quiet a third time as Cutter held court at gun point. “I’m going to guess that was Bite who just ran out the back.”

“You know whose place you’re shootin’ up Cone?” The Troll gurgled again. He might have added a few more words, maybe even a civil comment, that’s if Cutter would have let him. With a shove of New Moon the Troll grew a few inches with incentive…using his tip toes.

“I really don’t care, now where did Bi-“

The crash of the swinging door flying off its hinges as a big green body went flying through it cut Cutter off. The Troll he was about to shoot someone over made an abrupt re-appearance back in the bar rolling over on the floor with a large bruise forming on its eye. Cutter, and everyone else, stared with open eyes as a single person followed the Troll in through the broken doors, but where everyone else was confused as to why two elves would harass them Cutter knew.

Bearclaw looked up to see his son holding two guns and looked back with a raised eyebrow. “What are you doing shooting up the bar?”

“I’m looking for the Troll you just mangled. I need to ask him a few questions.” Cutter answered slowly backing away from the Troll.

“Really, so do I,”

“What the hell did you do to Bite?” The bartender broke in with a yelp.

“He tried to hit me with a frying pan so I hit him back!” Bearclaw snapped grabbing Bite by the foot.

Cutter backed up to his father while keeping both guns trained on the bar. “You didn’t hurt him too bad, right?”

“Just a bump on the head, but I think we need to talk outside away from here.” Bearclaw grunted dragging Bite toward the door.

“Agreed,”

As the two elves moved for the door the Trolls moved slowly with them, taking step-for-step with them, “You’re not taking anywhere Bite Cones!”

“I don’t think they understand we’re taking old Bite here for a bit cub, maybe you should help em’ out with that.” Bearclaw grinned as he dragged the Troll for the door.

“I said we ain-“The bartender started to order when Cutter opened up with both guns. The Trolls at the bar, and all around, just ran and jumped and ducked for cover. It was like watching cockroaches scatter when the lights come on.

The wall of liquor bottles exploded as the bartender screamed with a high pitched wail as glass and booze drenched him. When all the shooting was done the Trolls stayed hidden for a minute more just to make sure the crazy Cone with the hand canons had stopped shooting up the place. One face looked up from behind a turned over table followed by another behind the door to the crapper. One by one they all popped up as the sound of a car tearing out of the parking lot reassured the elves were gone.

“Oh Smelt,” one of the Trolls whispered looking over to the bartender, “Ironbar’s gonna kill us for letting that Cone shoot this place up.”

“Yeah, right after he kills those two,” Smelt spat knocking broken glass of his shoulder.

###################

The inside of the car was total quiet as all the elves watched the front door of the bar. No one dared to speak, dared to guess just what the two shots were. Then when the area erupted in shooting all the occupants jumped at once.

“Cutter!” Joyleaf screamed grabbing Leetah’s hand.

The healer turned actress wanted to tell her dear friend her son was fine. If anything…bad had happened to Cutter Leetah would know and she didn’t feel as if her lifemate was in dire straits. One-Eye turned to look at his partner with mouth agape wanting to ask just what had they let happen. It wouldn’t have mattered, Treestump was all ready contemplating the worst, and it was pretty bad from where he sat.

Then the door to the ‘Shaft’ slammed open and everyone gasped to see an old friend dragging the body of an unconscious Troll. The mouth agape syndrome struck all four as they watched Cutter emerge from the door next holding two smoking pistols. They all watched in stunned silence as Bearclaw opened the trunk of the coupe and tossed the body of the Troll in. They took a deep intake of breath in unison as Cutter jumped into the Coupe’s driver side and Bearclaw the passenger and the car ripped out of the parking lot fishtailing just slightly to the left as it hit the road.

“Was that…my lifemate?” Joyleaf whispered.

“I think it was,” Leetah answered.

“They just kidnapped a Troll, didn’t they?” One-Eye whispered.

“I’m sure it was for a good reason knowing Bearclaw.” Joyleaf responded with a dull laugh still lost.

“Yes, I’m sure it was.” Leetah smiled wondering what she was smiling about exactly.

The car abruptly roared to life as Treestump pumped the gas. “We’re sure as hell going to find out what they’re doing!”

Leetah and Joyleaf let out a gasp and a yelp falling back into the seat as Treestump gunned the engine and the car launched after Cutter and Bearclaw. One-Eye barely got a hand on his fedora before it blew off his head as he heard his partner growl like a big old Grizzly Bear.