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Fallen Angels with 45's - A crime story

somerset1979

Hello,

I have been a long time lurker in the Scroll and this is my first attempt at a fan-fic. I love EQ and I love old crime stories with the street-wise PI, like Humphrey Bogart in ‘The Maltese Falcon’ and Mickey Spillane with Mike Hammer. The whole gritty side of the stories just pulled me in and hooked me like a fish. I’ve been thinking for awhile how to merge the two genres, EQ and the gritty crime drama. I came up with this after reading Shaman’s Elfwest.

I hope he, and the others don’t mind, but I took some tips from EW to put into my AU here. All the elves are tall now, all at 5’10 or 11. They do have their powers, and they do mingle with the humans.

Also, since this is a crime story and it’s based on the street-wise PI line it takes place in what would be 1945’s LA. The City of Two-Moons is tinsel town, home of the movie studios and the glitz and glamour of it all. All the occupations and lifestyles of the Wolfriders and the Sun Villagers and everyone else will be explained along the way. I ask that you be a little patient as I roll it out.

Part One – Wonderland this is not.

Plink…Plink…Plink…

The echo of the drip filled the rundown room to its top, every single hit making the plaster walls shake with thunder it seemed like. The funny thing, the real leg slapper, was he didn’t notice the drip at all till he woke under those old bed sheets spread across that busted mattress, the kind that were white in a previous life but now just looked brown from so much use. He didn’t notice how loud each crash of the drip was till he opened the bathroom door, the hinges squealing in protest like the old woman on the street corner who sold him a cup of Joe in every morning along with a nice slice of news. The carpet under his bare feet was thin and worn as he sat on the end of the bed and the tile he could see under the now half-closed bathroom door looked just as brown as the sheets.

I wonder, he thought taking a breath, if those were white at one time too.

[i:74ebd51b36]Plink…Plink…Crash…[/i:74ebd51b36]

Somewhere outside a horn blared, someone chose to ask if the driver did the same in response, and then the squeal of tires yelped through the crisp air. The strip was starting early this morning he thought, if it was morning. He wasn’t sure of the time but he knew was on the strip, that magical boardwalk that this town used to lure good and trusting people to their doom. He knew the room was in one of those sleazy hotels, like the Tropicanna or the Wilshire, where the desk clerk was called ‘Fat’ Moe with hair that was slick with grease and who wore a food stained A-shirt that would probably never see a laundry in its short existence. It was the kind of place that didn’t keep a record of its visitors and you could pay for a room by the hour if you needed to do it. ‘Fat’ Moe wasn’t one for answering questions, but he wasn’t the kind you trusted either. A saw buck could get him to talk…and a weighted black jack from a Two-Moon Detective could loosen his mouth too, along with a few teeth.

No, he knew exactly where he was from the looks of the room. He could make it out even if the hazy fog that hid the memories of the night before refused to show him anything.

[i:74ebd51b36]Plink…Crash…Crash…[/i:74ebd51b36]

The last drip sent a shiver up his spine and clenched his throat making him swallow dryly with a grimace. He couldn’t sit in here all day, in his boxers, staring at a rotting bathroom door with…her in there.

[i:74ebd51b36]Crash…[/i:74ebd51b36]

What was her name? Vicki…or Valerie…or maybe it was the Elder Timmain herself. He just wasn’t sure. He couldn’t remember a thing from the night before. How much did have to drink? What did he drink? It was all lost in a booze induced black hole. He wasn’t even sure where his car was?
He just knew he couldn’t stay here, sitting on the edge of a trashed bed with her in the bathroom. Skywise looked over to the only piece of furniture in the room, a chair that barely held the weight of all the clothes stacked on it. There were his black Chino trousers and grey shirt along with a yellow cotton dress and hose and garter belt. It was a mish mash pile topped by a shoulder harness that held his baby, a Springfield 1911 .45 caliber hand gun. Its black handle gleamed in the sun light that poured through the thin drapes over the dirty windows.

[i:74ebd51b36]Crash…[/i:74ebd51b36]

He couldn’t sit and wait. So Skywise palmed his face and stood on two uneasy legs. He walked forward over that dingy carpet to the bathroom door concentrating on not falling on his face. He put his hand in the wooden door, the clammy flesh of his palm and three fingers squeaking, and pushed just enough to make the portal swing.

The hinges moaned loudly again, screaming almost as the door swung inward.

The brown tile was dry and cold on his feet as Skywise stepped on the first set. He didn’t go in any farther choosing to stay put and wait for the door to swing in farther. There was no need Skywise told himself as the bathroom slowly rolled out in front of him showing an old chipped up toilet that was as dirty as the sheets on the bed…and a cracked bathtub. The smell of water, lots of water, clung to the air making the small room smell dank

The porcelain around the cast iron tub was scraped and scratched and generally missing in chunks. It was filled to the very edge with water. Some of the water was dripping from the side as it ran over and some was oozing from the crack making a large puddle on the tile floor around the base. It was making the noise.

A long slender brown arm lying over the side, the fingers just inches from the floor as if reaching for a towel didn’t move. The beautiful body it was attached too only stared up at the ceiling with opened eyes from the bottom of her watery home. Her brown hair hung suspended in the water around her face, frozen in a horrid ring around a beautiful face. Skywise looked into those eyes, into the cold, and stepped back slowly memorizing the face and noting quickly her pointed ears. He breathed deep letting the stale air of the room drive away the damp of the bathroom. He didn’t know her…or why she ended up like she did…or why he wasn’t with her floating in that tub right now. He searched his memory, all the faces he could remember with names, but none matched hers.

THUD! THUD! THUD!

The loud knocks on the door to the hall caused Skywise to jump and turn. His hand went for the 45 that usually hangs from under his arm, but it grabbed air as a voice yelled from the other side.

“TWPD, open up.”

The Police…and he knew that voice. It all made sense now, like a bad dream complete with the wicked witch at the door. The word ‘setup’ screamed in his head, which throbbed with the beat of his heart because of the hangover, and worse…he had no where to hide.

“Open the door! TWPD!” Another voice yelled. Skywise recognized it too, the slightly crazy twin of the first.

With about as much enthusiasm as the girl in the tub Skywise walked over to the door and opened it. He knew who the pair was and called out their names before he even saw them in the hall.

“Good morning Detective Kureel…it is morning?”

The haw nosed elf stared back from under his grey Fedora dressed in a blue suit and black leather shoes. His beady eyes turned to his partner, a smaller version with black hair slicked back with hair palm, dressed in a pair a brown trousers and matching jacket, and a matchstick sticking out of the corner of his mouth. This was Detective Reevol, still as ugly and as mean as the day his mother threw him out in the street for trying to set the cat on fire. These two were officially homicide on the TWPD, and unofficially on the crew of neck breakers and bruisers for the department. They were the ones, along with a whole slew of others, who kept the city of dreams just that…a dream.

In Two-Moons everyone saw what you were supposed to see, the glitz and glamour of the actors and actresses of the movie studios amid a see of popping flash bulbs and long red carpets. You were shown the life changing metamorphosis of some innocent girl coming into town on the bus, being spotted by some director on some street corner, and then becoming a star overnight. It was splayed up on the screen in every movie house in Technicolor by the studios. If you come to Two-Moons and risk it all then you too can be famous. It was all planned out by the studios; a trap only works when it’s been set with a tasty morsel. Hell, that’s why they built the new freeway into town, easier to bus them in when the road is wide and smoothly paved.

But there was another side no one was allowed to see, the secret parts kept behind the curtain like any good magician. No one saw the murders. No one saw the prostitution. No one saw Grohmul Djun run his empire of vice with low life criminals and scum from the behind his desk as the man in charge of the studios. And no one saw the TWPD fight him for every inch of asphalt in this city. Oh yes, the Police were just as evil and just as corrupt as Djun, which is why I have to be careful Skywise thought

“Its close enough,” Kureel smiled like the snake he was before pushing his way into the room, “we got word there might be something illegal going on in here. You wouldn’t be doing anything the TWPD would disapprove of, would you stargazer?”

“Yeah, illegal things tend to follow you stargazer.” Reevol added, the matchstick going up and down with each word while following his partner.

Skywise closed the door choosing his words carefully. “I was just catching a nap after a night on the town fella’s.”

He noticed Kureel stop by the chair eyeing the holstered 45, just a foot or two from the bathroom door. Reevol walked over by the end of the bed and looked out the window as his partner asked all the questions

“Yeah, tied one on did you? Where’d you go, if you don’t mind me askin’?

Hell yeah I mind you asking Skywise thought, but his good sense kept all that locked away. “I was just down the strip at the Formosa.”

“The Formosa? That’s kind of swanky for a P.I.” Kureel whistled.

“Yeah, but everyone in town who’s someone goes there you know. Good spot to pick up business.”

“I bet, what with all that money and ego showing up in one spot…something’s got to give right.”

“I get lucky sometimes,” Skywise offered running a hand through his hair, “but last night no one was cheating on anyone so I left and moved over to Tommy’s.”

“Now that must have been a let down, going from the top to the bottom in one shot.” Kureel laughed.

“Tommy’s is a dive I know, but the whiskey’s iced and the company’s more my type.”

The two detectives looked to each other and nodded. Skywise just kept his eye on Kureel watching the snake’s every move. Whatever the two were doing it was being pushed along by him so Skywise just kept him in focus.

“What do you say partner, see anything illegal?” Kureel asked.

“Nah, and the stargazer looks to be telling the truth. I think we can cut him a pass this time.”

“Well, looks to be your lucky day Skywise. We’ll be on our way, sorry to wake you.”

“Oh nothing to worry about boys, nothing at all.” He responded quickly trying to hide his relief.

Skywise watched the detective take a step away from the chair heading toward him and the door to leave, a step toward getting out of this mess he thought. But then, right according to plan he’d think later, Kureel stopped and turned to bathroom. He was moving before Skywise could stop him.

“Hey, you don’t mind if I use the john do you?”

And then it was all over but the screaming. The detective pushed open the door before Skywise could say anything and he could just imagine the smile that crossed Kureel’s face as he stood there looking at the tub.

“Hey Reev, why don’t you go down and call in a 1087 for us?”

“A 1087? You mean there’s a dead body in there?” Reevol called out with his eyes locked onto Skywise. A creepy mean grin started at the left corner of the elf’s face and slowly spread across.

“Yep,” Kureel said turning back to the room and reaching for the 45 on top of the clothes, “she a friend of your’s Skywise?”

“I don’t…remember.” The stargazer mumbled.

“You better Skywise, you better remember a whole lot.” Kureel hissed tucking the gun into his belt.

“Yeah,” Reevol added as the matchstick danced in his mouth, “you better try real hard!”

I am you idiots! I am…Skywise thought.

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

He looked down at his bloody knuckles, at the torn and ragged skin, and hoped his head would finally stop hurting. He took no notice of all the blood on his A-Shirt, most wasn’t his, and the blood on his pants and bare feet. It wasn’t his fault he thought looking around the destroyed apartment, gazing drunkenly at all the destruction and barely registering it. The kitchen was a goner and the living room…well, he was sitting in the only chair that still would stand up on its own. The small hall in from the front door had three holes, man sized gaping holes, in the plaster and the slats. And speaking of the front door, it was the only one still on a hinge.

The place wasn’t much before he remodeled it with the four Mexicans who lived here, a real shit-hole, so the slumlord wouldn’t complain much. And if he did…

“Bearclaw?”

Hey, he knew that voice.

“You in here son?”

“Oh yeah…just down the hall past the bedroom…and the first body.”

“Help! He’s LOCO!!!” Someone screamed from somewhere.

Then a broad-chested elf stepped into the room surveying the devastation from behind a face full of blond beard. He wore a pair of chinos, a white shirt and tie, and smart looking Esquire coat that showed off his wide shoulders. He stepped over a pile of busted wood, what was a coffee table at one time, and stepped over.

“HELPPPPP!!!!! HE’S LOCOOOOO!!!!!”

“We’re coming…just keep pressure on anything that’s bleeding!” Another elf walked in. He wore black pants and a grey coat with a blue V-neck sweater underneath. It all looked nice Bearclaw, matched the eye patch and everything.

“I see you done a bit o’ fighting lad.” The elf said.

Bearclaw leaned back in the chair, swayed a little to the left, and smiled. “These drips can’t fight…I’ve had a harder time with Joyleaf there.”

“Uh-huh,” Treestump sighed looking around then back to Bearclaw, “and what started this?”

“Well…I was just drinking in my room-“

“How long had you been o’ doing that?” One-Eye asked.

“Three…four days. Say, where’s the rest of the badges?”

“They’re downstairs. The second the call came in and everyone realized it was you…no one wanted to come up.” Treestump answered crossing his arms over his chest.

Bearclaw let out a drunken laugh that almost made him fall off the chair. “I can’t help it if you badges don’t have the juice to take down little old me. It was only what…three or four of you I beat down.”

“You think this o’ game here lad?” One-eye asked angrily.

“No…I just find it hard to see you two wearing a badge!” Bearclaw laughed falling forward just a bit.

“This isn’t a good time to be laughing Bearclaw.” Treestump said low.

“What is it then?”

Treestump stepped back. “We have to take you downtown Bearclaw. We told the captain we could get you to come peacefully.”

“You did, eh? And what if I don’t feel like going downtown?” Bearclaw smiled.
“Then the captain goes with plan b.”

“Plan B?” The drunk elf laughed.

“They figured it was just easier to kill you lad. No one gets the living hell beat out of them, just o’ shotgun blast and we carry you out in a bag.” One-eye explained.

The mood in the room changed. Whatever ‘happy’ feeling that Bearclaw was in seemed to slip away as his fist clenched and his jaw locked. It was easy to see and Treestump slipped his hand inside his coat to where his fingers were on the handle of the 38 tucked away in its shoulder holster.

“You know I don’t stand cages Stump…I won’t go in one without a fight.”

“The way I figure it, we’re all family here…you may have a harder time beating on us then a human downstairs.” Treestump offered.

The room was quiet now. Bearclaw looked up from the chair and Treestump could see the fire in the elf’s eyes. This was it Treestump thought, this was that moment the Elders and the others told him would happen, the moment when he’d have to shoot his one-time friend dead. He could hear Timmain in his head tell him in that cold tone she used that Bearclaw was a menace, and then there was Haken saying it was better to have someone just shoot the mongrel and be done with it.

A mongrel…a mutt…that was Bearclaw to them now.

“Don’t make me do this Bearclaw.” Treestump whispered.

There was no response at first, just the two staring at each other, but then Bearclaw grinned and spoke. “Maybe we could talk this out ov-“

THWACK!

In an instant Bearclaw was out, his eyes rolling back in his head. His body pitched forward and crashed onto the floor with a heavy thud. Treestump let go of his 38 and eyed his partner with a shocked look. The end of the sap protruded from One-eye’s hand, a leather bag filled with lead which was quite useful in knocking someone clean unconscious with one swing to the back of the head. And One-eye was the best at it.

“That took you long enough! I almost had to shoot him!”

“I had to get behind him, and he might o’ thrown me out that damn window if he saw me movin’ too fast.” One-eye spat, his accent thick.

Treestump just shook his head and looked down Bearclaw who was snoring now. “Well, I’ll take his right you take his left.”

“Aye, come on sleepy boy!” One-eye replied taking his old friend’s left arm.

With ease the two dragged Bearclaw out of the apartment.

“HEY!!! WHAT ABOUT ME?”

“Keep up the pressure! We’ll send someone up!”

“HEY MANNNNNN!!!! HELPPPPPP!!!!”

G0lden

This looks very interesting. I like what I've read so far. :D

lunakat

this is coool! I love dimestore detective stories! Please please continue!

somerset1979

Thanks guys!! :D

I will get the next piece up as fast as I can!

lunakat

:thumbsup:

krwordgazer

Wow, this is fun! Well-written and very exciting! I loved the bit about the police not wanting to come upstairs because it was Bearclaw! Grin Skywise waking up in a grimy motel with a woman he barely remembers-- that was terrific. I'm looking forward to finding out who Cutter is in this AU! :D

So glad you're here, Somerset, and thanks for this great new AU!

Embala

Like it so far! :D

Now ... what's coming next?

lunakat

man... I so want this to continue. Anybody else?

G0lden

I would love to see this story continue. :D

somerset1979

Wow!! :D

Thanks for all the nice words guys. So I got the next piece here ready to go.

Skywise and Bearclaw in jail!


Part Two - The inside looking out.

The knock on the door jam was enough to stir him. In the past he would have smelled the human’s approach, but that was so long ago. A time he looked back on with a smile, unlike some in the mansion. As amazing as it sounded he missed sleeping in Father Tree with the stale air on a summer’s night. Now, surrounded by luxury sitting on a leather couch in the study, he just longed for that old tree and all its smells and scents. Leetah was sitting up against him in her night gown still reading one of the many scripts that were delivered on a regular basis to the house. As usual she would read them all, ask some opinions, and then pick the one that no one would have guessed.

It was pure Leetah.

He was dressed in his white slacks and grey sweater trying to enjoy the paper and the quiet from the twins. He loved his daughter and son, but then he also loved the quiet of a morning when the two would sleep in. The morning ritual of breakfast and then attending to the business of the compound with the Elders though was long gone today. The news came the usual way, by message from one of the tribe-

Wait”¦there wasn’t a tribe anymore”¦that was all in the past too.

“Mr.Cutter?”

It was Adar, what some saw as the butler, but was so much more to the elves. Without him and Nonna they might have never made it this far. Cutter stood up from the couch slowly as Leetah leaned away. She was watching him closely”¦he didn’t need his hearing to know that.

“News Adar?”

“It’s Mr. Strongbow on the phone. He’s at the station working on both problems.”

Problems”¦it was hard to think of him as a problem.

“Good, I’ll take it here.” Cutter said walking over to the phone hidden in the wall behind an ornate door that meshed with the wall, just another perk of living with a treeshaper.

Cutter took the phone as Leetah watched and Adar left. He nodded and spoke sparingly then hung up and closed the door. He walked back to the couch and sat down next to her picking up his paper. The TM Gazzette was just a distraction. She could tell he was thinking of him”¦and maybe the other one.

“What’s the good news?” She asked looking over.

“Strongbow is down there getting him out before something worse happens,” was all Cutter offered with a smile.

“Something worse?”

“It’s the TMPD Leetah. If they haven’t all ready beaten him for just being an elf then they’ll find a reason.”

“They’re not that bad beloved and Skywise can take care if himself.” Leetah sighed leaning up against his shoulder.

“I can’t take that chance Leetah. He’s my brother.” Cutter whispered.

“If the elders let him leave then don’t you think you should?”

Maybe Cutter thought”¦maybe it was time to stop this ”˜brother in blood’ pact? Skywise chose to leave the compound and all its ”˜amenities’ for the city. He chose to walk away and live another life.

Maybe it was time to let go?

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

The lights overhead had an annoying hum. You know the one where it sounds like a big brown fly going in and out of your head, and that was killing him with his hangover. The room was ice cold and smelled of fresh strong ammonia laced with urine”¦and blood. Whose Skywise wasn’t sure? This room wasn’t made for comfort. The chair was steel with no padding in the seat and the back was like leaning on a girder. A large black two-way window reflected his face back to him. The table he sat at was marred and scarred from the previous occupants with long fingernail scratches that were dug into the hardwood of its top. Someone didn’t go quietly Skywise thought. Someone didn’t want to go at all.

A thick hand with sausage fingers began to drum on the table top amid all those scars and scratches. Skywise looked up to see the human sitting across from him, a look of hate and disgust plastered allover his face, and wondered if he was the one responsible for those long fingernail scratches. Skywise smiled at him, but the human didn’t smile back

Tabak never smiled.

He worked homicide, though solving a murder was the last thing this guy did. Tabak was a monster, pure hate poured into tanned skin, and his only reason for having a job with the TMPD was breaking what or who ever he was told to. Those large fingers drumming to a tune only Tabak could hear were just as scarred as the table top. It came from the knuckle bone hitting another bone so hard it shattered, usually a cheek or a tooth. There was a rumor that the TMPD had a place out on the outskirts of town, an old motel, where the detective plied his special talent. Tabak sighed and spoke with a voice that sounded like a foot being dragged through a pile of gravel.

“You don’t live up in the compound with the other cones?”

Skywise coughed trying to hide his laugh. Cones”¦it was a derogatory remark about the Elders and the way they looked when they first came to the Abode. “No, I live off the strip”¦in a rat’s nest.”

“I don’t think so,” Tabak replied after stopping his fingers, “I think you live in a nice place.”

“What makes you think that?”

“The way you dress, look. I bet you have a nice place with pictures on the wall and a big recliner and a radio.”

“Nope, farthest thing from the truth officer, I swear.”

“Uh-huh,” Tabak nodded before asking another question, “That compound the other cones live in”¦it’s next to Lake Thornwood right?”

“Yeah,”

“Yeah, I’ve been on that lake a few times.”

I bet you have Skywise thought. It was large and deep and the perfect place to rid you of a problem. There were a few bodies wearing size 30 pound cement shoes at its bottom courtesy of Detective Tabak the PI was sure. As a matter of fact, that old motel the TMPD made visits to was just a hop skip away from the lake. What evil things went on there only a few knew.

Convenient Skywise thought looking over his shoulder. Behind him, just a few inches higher than his head, was a large brown spot. It looked a lot like dried blood.

“Hey, you ever run into Joey Styles?”

Now that was a blast from the past, a real lighting shot. Joey was a small time gangster who ran various scams and ”˜businesses’ from some bars out in the hills. He liked loan sharking and the protection racket. He liked them so much he tried to move the business out of the hills and down into town, just a small step, nothing much. He started to make some money, a name, and a lot of noise. Joey forgot the rules though; don’t go taking food from someone else’s plate unless you got the muscle to do it. One night poor Joey went walking out of the Formosa and was never seen again”¦sort of.

“Yeah, I saw him down at Mike’s a couple of times. He had a loud mouth and a pile of money that was burning a hole in his pockets.” Skywise answered turning back

“You know, he sat in that very seat the afternoon before he went missing.”

“Really?” Skywise responded nervously shifting in his chair. The threat was understood, at anytime he could simply disappear like old Joey.

“Yeah.” Tabak grinned with half his mouth. The detective knew as well as everyone else that Joey was dead, probably floating in the middle of Lake Thornwood with his feet incased in a tub of cement while his arms slowly moved with the current reaching for the surface he’d never see again.

“I heard one of his guys got a picture in the mail. Joey’s face looked like one of those grilled burgers you get from Korilla’s” Skywise offered.

“Really?” Tabak replied losing the grin, trading it for a confused expression that was all a job.

That was it! All of this, it was more than Skywise could stand. It all reeked of a setup and now here he was being teased with. Oh no, it was time to turn this all round. “You didn’t hear? The word on the street is Joey called some TMPD detective’s wife he ran into down on the boulevard a real hag. They said Joey called her a ”˜horse’ face and everyone around got a good laugh.”

The corners of Tabak’s mouth turned down with obvious displeasure.

“Hey, how’s the wife these days detective?” Skywise asked with a grin of his own.

Tabak didn’t answer and his frown only smoldered along with his grey eyes. Skywise felt the table move a second before the screech of its wood legs signaled movement. He saw the look in the detective’s eyes and thought maybe it wasn’t a good idea to poke the bear with a stick. Maybe he just bought a one way trip to the bottom of Lake Thornwood with cement shoes? Tabak stood up and began to reach inside his brown tweed coat, probably for a sap. Guys like the detective preferred the hands on approach to using the 38 the TMPD issued.

“I wouldn’t do anything to our friend there.”

Skywise had never been so happy to hear Kureel’s voice. He sighed as Tabak turned and stared at his fellow detectives who stood there. “What’s so special about this cone?”

“We need to ask him a few questions about a female elf in his bathtub. The Captain and the DA want to close this one fast, keep Mayor Voll quiet.” Kureel answered while chewing a piece of gum.

Voll, Mayor of Two-Moons. It still sounded weird, an elf taking the office of Mayor from a human. But with Winnowill at his side there seemed to be nothing the old bird couldn’t accomplish”¦to the frustration of the Elders.

“The Mayor? I didn’t vote for the cone.” Tabak hissed walking to the door.

“I’ll make sure to pass it along through the grapevine.” Kureel spat stepping to the side to let Tabak pass.

“Yeah, we’ll pass it along!” Reevol grinned with a wink and the matchstick still in his mouth.

“You know,” Tabak spat stopping right in front of Reevol and leaning down going now to nose with the elf, “one day you cones are gonna learn who has the juice in this town and who doesn’t”¦one day real soon too.”

Reevol didn’t answer Tabak as the human walked off. From the look on his face he didn’t have the insides to do it Skywise judged, and the PI didn’t blame him. He leaned forward on the table as Kureel closed the door then walked over and sat down in the chair Tabak had been in. Reevol sat on the edge of the table with one leg on and one off.

“Whoo, you must like living dangerous Skywise if you jerking on Tabak’s chain.” Reevol whistled.

“He was just trying to scare me, right? I mean that’s not really Joey’s is it?” The PI asked with a nod of his head to the

Reevol only grinned and shrugged his shoulders. “Maybe?”

Kureel had opened a long manila folder on the top, the kind you keep police reports in, read a few lines in silence, and then hit Skywise with a question. “Why’d you kill her?”

“I didn’t.” Skywise snapped.

“How would you know? You suddenly remember?” Reevol joined in.

“No”¦I don’t remember anything still.”

“Then how do you know you didn’t kill her?” Kureel followed fast, not letting a second of silence slip by.

Damn, they were coming at him fast now, trying to trip him up. Skywise bore down, focused his throbbing head to keep up. If he slowed with an answer then they’d take it as a sign of guilt and he was all ready in deep enough.

“I know I didn’t kill her.”

“Let’s step back”¦how did you two meet?” Kureel said looking down to the file.

“I don’t remember.”

“Now that’s convenient.” Reevol popped off.

Skywise shot him a hard look as Kureel kept up with the questions. “Yeah, you said you were at the Formosa and then Tommy’s.”

“Yeah.”

“So how do you remember being at those two bars, but then forget about the pretty little girl that tagged along?”

“I don’t know, maybe she slipped me a mickey or something in my drink.”

Kureel looked over to Reevol then back to Skywise. “A girl usually has to slip you a mickey to get you into bed?”

“No,” Skywise remarked while throwing his thumb in Reevol’s direction, “but I ran into a girl who took a mickey after sleeping with Reevol.”

That grin the detective wore went straight, just like his hand as it dipped into his jacket for the sap again. And there he was again, poking the bear with a stick”¦jerking on the chain of the dog with the biggest bite. Kureel held up his hand stopping his partner before speaking with a smile.

“So you don’t remember a thing still.”

“No,”

“Not how you two hooked up, where you hooked up, or how you met?”

“No,”

“No conversations concerning, oh say, her past?”

Her past? What kind of a question was that?

“I don’t remember her name or her past or any words she said Detective.”

“Well that’s real bad stargazer, cause that might have saved you a lot of trouble and pain.” Reevol stated standing up from the table with that smug grin.

“I don’t think so.” Skywise fired back.

“Really?” Kureel asked raising an eyebrow at the statement.

“I think if you had anything on me the DA would be in here personally questioning me with five different lawyers. Aramak doesn’t miss a chance to rub a little dirt in the Elders face when he gets the chance so I don’t think the DA or your Captain knows I’m in here.”

“But you said you don’t stay in the compound anymore? Why would the DA care for someone who’s been kicked to the side unless he wanted to keep Voll quiet?” Kureel cut in.

“Yeah, and everyone knows if you don’t stay in the compound you don’t get their help.” Reevol added just like the puppet he was.

They were right, you leave the house and all the help disappears with you. The Elders don’t help with their knowledge, their money, or their influence. You simply get cut off and that’s that. Skywise didn’t think about that though, he had the two on the run and he wanted to keep it that way. A gambler in the back rooms of Tommy’s once told him that you could tell you had the poker game won and the pot in hand when the other players started to look nervous. They’d twitch or lick their lips or any other ”˜tell’, but the one he always kept an eye out for was the bluff. Some green wick would always try and scare you off he said, but if you felt like the cards were yours then you call em and watch em fall.

“That folder looks a little light detective and you’ve got no notes from the crime scene or a booking sheet. My guess, you don’t plan on holding me or have any record of me being here and as soon as I walk out the door that folder and what’s in it goes in the trash.”

Then suddenly Reevol slammed both his hands on the table and growled trying to intimidate. “Who says you’re leaving? If we didn’t tell anyone you were here how’s anyone gonna know you left?”

Skywise just grinned at the show, it was nothing more than just that, and if you don’t have the juice to back it up its worthless. You call the bluff. He looked at Reevol for a second then turned back to Kureel still grinning.

“If you’re going to arrest me for having a dead body in my tub then do it, but stop trying to scare me. You two aren’t good enough to sweat me.”

That was it, all the cards were showing. And from the look on Kureel’s face, his eyes, there wasn’t much to say. Then the door to the room opened and the captain of the TMPD Homicide unit, one Zey. Yep, the bad luck just kept pilling up. The elf may have looked peaceable in his brown coat and black slacks with wingtips, but he was as bad as they come Skywise knew. There was a reason he got to be Captain of Homicide and it wasn’t due to the Elders or Voll and his silver tongue. There was a trail of blood behind Zey a mile long and a mile wide. Skywise suddenly wondered if Tabak called Zey a cone.

“You two, cut him loose, and then come see me.”

The hum from the lights overhead was the only sound now, the only noise anyone could hear in the room. No response from Kureel or Reevol. Zey looked at them all for a minute, or what felt like an hour, before closing the door. Skywise breathed a sigh of relief, or just a small puff. He wasn’t clear of this yet, not by any stretch. The two detectives got up, Kureel took the useless folder while Reevol spat.

“Stand up so I can get the cuffs off.”

He didn’t say a word as the metal bracelets popped off, just kept his mouth shut as Reevol took them and put em in his coat pocket. Now, the stargazer thought walking out of the room, he had to figure out just who was behind this or he could be in real trouble up to his neck.

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

His heart raced. His fingers jerked in the cuffs that were held tightly to his side by the chain wrapped around his waist. His legs were shackled at the ankle hobbling him, confining him to the metal bench he sat on. The anger in his chest began to rise into his throat with an acidic taste. Someone cried out down the down the hall of cells about hurting, about bleeding.

If he doesn’t shut it Bearclaw thought fighting to keep himself under control, then I’m going to break him into two pieces. The scuffling sound of expensive wingtips and the swish of fine cloth caught Bearclaw’s attention. He looked over to the bars to see the one elf he had hoped to pass on for the rest of his life. Strongbow only looked back with his smug look and ponytail dressed in an expensive hand tailored suit.

“I see Moonshade still dresses you.”

The lawyer looked back and sent, the way he always chose to hold a conversation. And I see you still like making a fool of yourself.

“Aww, now I expected more from someone so well educated and ”˜refined’ as yourself.” Bearclaw laughed choosing to emphasize the part about the lawyer’s looks.

Well, how about this then? Strongbow smiled reaching into his leather satchel and then producing a bundle. He placed it in between the bars of the jail cell still smiling.

Bearclaw recognized the letters immediately. It didn’t take much to assume they were the ones he had sent to his son”¦his wife. And it didn’t take much to see most if not all were still closed. He looked at those and felt a sudden wave of pain as Strongbow sent.

You were cast out and I know you know what that means. No more communication from anyone inside the compound. All your letters stop at the door. All your phone calls stop at Adar as ordered.

Yeah”¦he knew what that meant.

No more calls. No more letters. You are gone and forgotten.

Gone”¦forgotten”¦nothing but memories floating in the mist he thought looking down to the dirty floor of the cell.

The Elders, Haken, wants to ensure you understand this. Do you?

“Is Cutter still leading them?” Bearclaw whispered.

It may have been the look of it all, the fact a once proud fighter was reduced to sitting barefoot in a cell chained up like an animal that made Strongbow ease up. He sighed and nodded as he sent.

Yes, he still leads us. It was a unanimous vote at the last twenty year meeting.

A unanimous vote”¦that was his boy”¦so much better than he ever could be. “And Joyleaf, how’s she doing?”

She misses you”¦but she won’t show it.

He leaned his head back till it touched the wall and smiled. At least they were good. At least they were strong. “Go ahead lawyer and get gone. You delivered the message so your job’s done.”

And it was done. Strongbow knew enough about Bearclaw to know that he wouldn’t talk again. The conversing was done. Like he said, the message had been delivered. The Lawyer stood for a second looking at Bearclaw remembering a time when the elf was someone to be respected and loved.

Maybe those days were gone? He wasn’t sure, all he knew was the Elders had cast him out and Bearclaw wasn’t allowed back. No one would help him get out of this mess, no money and no influence and no favors. Gone and Forgotten. Strongbow picked up his satchel and left out the door going to make sure Skywise was being released. His job here was done. After a minute, after he was sure the lawyer was gone, Bearclaw pulled his head down and looked over to the bundle. He rose from the bench slow and shuffled over to the ribbon held bundle fighting back the anger and the pain.

Gone and forgotten”¦

When his fingers touched them, when his rough skin rubbed the paper envelopes, he felt his heart break. He pulled the bundle to his side not knowing why or what he was going to do with it. The letters were to them, words he could never say in person”¦to her”¦to him. Bearclaw turned away from cell bars and started for the bench feeling hollow and empty, like someone had carved a valley out of his soul.

He heard the cell door open.

He turned to see them coming for him, a rather large evil looking Tabak in the lead.

A few months back he put two TMPD beat walkers in the hospital for trying to break open his skull. It was time for payback. As the fist hit and the saps fell like rain on him Bearclaw kept the bundle tucked away safe from it all. Somewhere in the midst of the beating he fell unconscious protecting the letters.

G0lden

This is getting very interesting. :D

jeb

I don't usually like these genre cross-overs, but this one definitely has my interest!

Embala

Interesting!

Hard to read, hard to understand for me sometimes - cause I'm not very familiar with this movies and struggling with some vocabulary ...

... but interesting!

Strange "culture(society" these elves seem to live in ... want learn MORE.

lunakat

This is thoroughly fascinating! I love how you opened with a mystery and plunged right into it! I look forward to seeing where this goes!

krwordgazer

Somerset, those are intense scenes! I feel sorry for poor Bearclaw. I hope he gets to see Cutter and Joyleaf again somehow. And Skywise is really walking along the edge, isn't he? As for Strongbow-- his character fits well, but I'm a little surprised he's a lawyer. He must be the kind who mostly does legal documents and doesn't argue in Court. I just can't see him as a trial lawyer. {"Moonshade still dresses you." What a great line! Grin )

Tabak is a very interesting villain, too!

Very interesting setup, with the Elders and Haken in the background sort of calling the shots. I'm really enjoying this!

WiseShaman

Wow!!! Surprised

Am liking this...very much! Wink

somerset1979

Thanks Shaman! That means a lot coming from you.

So here's the next part of the story where Skywise has to go back to see Timmain and Bearclaw is rescued...sort of.


[u:4324344e83][b:4324344e83]Part Two - Going home is the hardest thing to do.[/b:4324344e83][/u:4324344e83]


[i:4324344e83]Goodtree’s Rest”¦[/i:4324344e83]

[i:4324344e83]Father Tree”¦[/i:4324344e83]

[i:4324344e83]The Compound”¦[/i:4324344e83]

[i:4324344e83]Prison”¦[/i:4324344e83]

Take your pick, they all fit for him. The home of the elves was no longer a gleaming Palace of crystal that sparkled in the sun, but a large mansion and other small houses settled back in the woods of the hills behind a stone and iron gate. The main house was for the Elders and the older members while the houses out back were for the others. All the Wolfriders, Sun Villagers, and Wavedancers lived in harmony, granted of course by the Elders. The Gliders and Go-Backs didn’t stay at the compound. They were, for a lack of a better term, not worthy and so were not asked to stay. Really though, what did they expect after all the problems both tribes caused.

No, the Palace was warmer to him, more than that sprawling estate would ever be, but his old home was in the museum downtown now, given to the humans’ years ago as a gift or a peace offering you might say by Timmain and Haken. There were a few nights he would find himself on the steps to that museum, 22 large granite steps, yet he couldn’t seem to climb a single one. The ”˜Master of the Palace’ was afraid to see his old home, it was the epitome of irony, but then one day he finally mustered up the fortitude to see the crystal walls once again. He pulled up his courage, paid the buck admission at the entrance to the nice lady behind the horn rimmed glasses, and walked in with cautious steps, like he was back in the woods with Starjumper hunting rabbits.

He missed his old wolf friend too.

And when he saw the Palace sitting in that large oval room with humans walking all around it staring and pointing, with the enormous glass ceiling above letting in the noon day sun, he suddenly missed his old home. The beautiful crystal walls looked”¦dull and lifeless. When he walked up he didn’t feel that old connection, that piece of ”˜him’ coming to life. He didn’t feel the others who were supposed to be there anymore. He didn’t sense they’re spirits anymore, or they’re touch. It only took five seconds to decide to turn and leave, but it was long enough to tear his heart out, right through the ribs.

“Is there something wrong Skywise?”

The Master of the Palace turned from looking out the window of the long black Cadillac Limo to the driver up front and shook his head. “No Adar, I’m about as fine as I’m going to get.”

[i:4324344e83]Does seeing her bother you that much?[/i:4324344e83]

Skywise just nodded and spoke low without looking to Strongbow who sat next to him. “That and coming here, but why did she get me out anyway?”

[i:4324344e83] I don’t know, she and Cutter made me go down and file all the paperwork personally at the station. You know how much I hate going into town.[/i:4324344e83]

“As much as you hate wearing pants?” Skywise asked getting a little dig in on the lawyer.

Adar upfront gave a snort trying to hold in the sudden laughter. The glare from Strongbow told Skywise the joke wasn’t appreciated and maybe even uncalled for, especially after all he had done. The PI held up a four finger hand and smiled.

“I take it back.”

Strongbow glowered for a moment longer then seemed to stiffen just a little less, from stone to say wood, and sent. [i:4324344e83]You know I didn’t pay any bail or bond. They just let you walk out of there with me”¦walk away form a dead body. [/i:4324344e83]

[i:4324344e83]Yeah, I guessed that. The booking sheet was blank.[/i:4324344e83] Skywise replied as the car rolled through the large iron gates and a shiver rolled up his spine. Welcome home prisoner #0867432.

[i:4324344e83]Blank? Timmain had nothing to do with that. Even her influence doesn’t go that far.[/i:4324344e83]

[i:4324344e83]I know.[/i:4324344e83] Skywise agreed as the car approached the front steps that led to the main entrance of the mansion.

The large doors were oak, eight feet tall, and looked hand carved by some ancient master of the mallet and chisel. He knew the truth though. Redlance’s touch was as obvious as the pointed ears on his head. On the right door was a perfect picture of Father Tree, the enormous oak and its limbs taking up the entire door except for the bottom corner where a group of wolves sat resting by the trunk. On the left was a perfect rendering of the Palace, when it was the Palace, glowing bright as the sun. Oh how times change Skywise thought as the Caddie came to a stop.

There, up on the stoop, was Moonshade waiting diligently for her lifemate. She was wearing a light summer dress, purple of course, with her moon necklace flashing in the sun light. Strongbow smiled, you could almost hear the stone in his face crack, as he stepped out of the car and walked to her. She took his briefcase, fell into his arms kissing his cheek, and then spoke lovingly.

“I made you lunch beloved.”

[i:4324344e83]That sounds nice, do you come with it?[/i:4324344e83]

“If you wish.” She smiled and blushed.

“Can I join too? Lunch I mean.” Skywise called out with a broad smile as Adar walked around the car.

“Afternoon Skywise.” Moonshade remarked, as cold as an iceberg with matching cubes shooting from her eyes.

The lawyer and his lifemate walked inside as Skywise turned to Adar. “What kind of a ”˜Hello’ was that?”

“I think I can get Nonna to come out and give you a hug if you want?” Adar smiled.

“Ahhh, thanks but no. The last time she hugged me Leetah had to heal my neck.” Skywise quipped heading up the steps. With each one his feet got a little heavier, just like Joey Styles in his cement shoes.

Yep, welcome home prisoner #0867432.

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

Father Cam wasn’t really a priest, hell he probably wasn’t even religious. He was just one of those special individuals who happened to have a heart of gold. In Two-Moons, amongst the glamour and the glitz and everyone selling their souls to the Djun and his kid for even a fleeting shot at the movies it was the rarest of traits. Father Cam was nothing but a miracle worker who took in the refugees from the street who needed someone just to care for a minute. He fed them, gave them a place to sleep, and a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen with. It was lunch time and he should have been on the food line dishing out a delicious helping of corned-beef hash and green beans”¦

But he was in the back room tending to something totally different.

“Damn, did you have to beat him so bad?”

One-Eye stood watching with his fedora pushed back as the human gently check over Bearclaw, who was still unconscious, as the elf lay still on the old bed in the plain room. “It wasn’t like we wanted him beat Cam! If n’ he wasn’t such a hard neck he might a’ staved off this one!”

“It was payback Cam, for what he did to a couple of beat walkers. We had to sneak him out of the station or they would have finished the job.” Treestump added with his voice tinged with worry for his lifelong friend.

The room was silent for a minute, the kind of silence where the sound of your own heartbeat could drive you over the edge, and it almost did for Treestump. The elf stepped over by Father Cam frustrated. “Is he gonna make it Cam?”

“Probably, but I’m no doctor or healer.”

“Maybe we should get Leetah, hedge the bet you know. She can heal him.” One-Eye offered with a snap of his fingers.

Treestump though shook his head with the same snap. “No, you and me, we’re all ready up to our necks in this. If the Elders find out we tried to get Leetah to heal him”¦”

“They’d have us a boiled like a pot of taytos!” One-Eye remarked.

Cam stood up from the bed and wiped his hands off on a towel as he whispered. “Hey, he looks kind of familiar, who is he exactly?”

“Oh you know him Cam, just go back”¦-“One-Eye as saying when Treestump cut him off.

“8 years.”

Even as Father Cam was realizing who was laying in his back room Treestump’s was trekign backwards in his memory, back 8 long years to a summer when a crazy elf damn near brought it all down around their pointed ears.

“Yeah, now I see it. He’s Bearclaw”¦ran with that robber who shot up all those banks on that crime spree.” Cam smiled.

“Two-Spear.” Treestump whispered.

“Yeah, that’s the one. That was one crazy elf, righteously mean.” Cam said with a shake of his head.

You don’t know the half of it my friend the detective thought to himself. Treestump could see the day in his mind when it all came to a bloody end with Two-Spear, a shoot out that just had to happen because no one wanted to stop it. Not the Police who were seeking their own brand of justice for the poor souls that the Two ”“Spear killed in his heists, and not Two-Spear who swore to never be taken alive. Well, he wasn’t because the TMPD didn’t want him alive. At last count there were 40 bullet holes in that old car. Someone said there were over twenty in him, but it was just some honcho at the ME’s talking, or so Treestump hoped.

“Can you keep an eye o’ him Cam?” One-Eye asked.

“Oh yeah, I’ll look after him. When he wakes up I’ll give you a call.”

“Leave a message down at the station Cam, no where else. This is on the QT, understand?” Treestump ordered with putting his fedora on.

“Super secret just for you two.” Cam replied with a wink.

Well, at least Bearclaw would be all right for now. Treestump may have felt some worry, but this was the most stubborn elf in Two-Moons besides his sister. If death wanted Bearclaw it had better bring a few extra devils to take him down. The two detectives left the room and a resting Bearclaw while Cam slowly shut the door.

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

“Hello there stranger.”

The voice was hard to miss, and even harder not to recognize. Skywise was waiting in the back hall while Adar went in to make sure Timmain was ready for him. The Elders had their own wing in the mansion where they conducted their business in private. He had been standing patiently while running the image of the elf in the bathtub over and over again in his head. Her face, every small spot of it, was burned into his mind and he had to make sure it stayed there. As soon as he was down here he would need to see Shuna. She could draw him a picture of the girl’s face and then he could find out who she was.

Yet, he was having trouble now keeping the girl’s face fresh in his mind. Those deep green pools that were Leetah’s eyes seemed to make his mind just go blank. She was more beautiful in person then on the screen, and even the human women who fought her for roles in the Djun’s movies had to agree. Hell he could still see her in Sorrow’s End dancing in the festival of Flood and Flower. Leetah was the kind of beauty that could steal a man’s mind and he was living proof, but he got it together enough to respond in kind.

“Hello there.” Skywise smiled.

“Why does it take such a bad thing to happen for you to stop by?” Leetah asked before kissing his cheek.

“It wasn’t my choice to stop by.” He answered.

The remark quieted the festive mood, like someone finding a dead body in the bathtub, which strangely was the way he felt. Leetah still smiled though refusing to let anything ruin seeing her friend after such a long time, well almost anything.

“It’s bad isn’t it?”

“Nothing I can’t beat. Why, you worried about me?”

“We both are.”

And he didn’t have to look up to know who said this, but Skywise did anyway because he felt a sudden longing and need to see his brother. Cutter was dressed in white slacks and a dress shirt with a sweater vest over that and deck shoes with no socks, very 40’s modern. Yet all Skywise saw was the black leathers and white boots of so long ago, when his chief wore a top knot proudly as a Wolfrider. Cutter still had his top knot, but the chief had given up everything else in exchange for the new ”˜tribe’. Cutter still led everyone, only now with an eye to a future.

Skywise smiled and didn’t say a word as embraced his brother in all but blood, his Cutter. He felt the hard squeeze and smiled even wider, even felt that old warmth and want of so long ago creep back. Yet he held it in check, had to.

He wasn’t here to stay he kept reminding himself.

“You look good.” Cutter said leaning back but refusing to let go.

“So do you, maybe to good. Maybe you’re going soft up here at Goodtree’s rest.” Skywise said with a raised eyebrow.

Cutter laughed and stepped back. “You want a shot at the title?”

“Nope, I like my insides right where they are, inside.”

“Oh you two, always nipping and biting at each other.” Leetah said with a shake of her head.

“That’s what brothers do right?” Cutter asked as Leetah slid a long arm in his.

“I’ve been told it’s unhealthy, of course those who said it were only children.” Skywise smiled causing Leetah to laugh just a little.

It was just like old times.

Too much like old times.

He wasn’t here to stay”¦he wasn’t here to stay.

Cutter looked to say something and mercifully the door to the wing opened, Adar appearing. He nodded to Skywise and it had to be the best thing the PI had seen, at least for the day.

“I guess I have to go.”

“We’ll see out at the pool for lunch. We’ll have a place ready.” Leetah offered and when Skywise started to object Cutter just stopped him cold.

“It wasn’t a request. You’re staying for lunch.”

Well, so much for getting back to town quickly. “All right, whatever’s left you get for lunch.”

He took one last hug from Leetah, a pat on the shoulder from Cutter, and then turned to Adar. The man held the door as Skywise stepped through in the semi dark hall beyond where a myriad of fragrances scented the heavy air.

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

Kureel hated meeting her. It was humiliating. So why did he drive twenty minutes up-town to stand in some alley in Trolltown?

Because she got him the job in homicide and she did keep him safe from Zey and his ”˜off-hour’ activities. That was the thing if you were in homicide, you either ran with Zey or you kept your business private. You didn’t go near him or his doings, like some poor patrolman discovered. He was moonlighting at a club doing protection work on the cheap for the owner. The sap didn’t know it happened to be on Zey’s side of the street, or the owner had stopped paying the captain. Poor sap, at least he was still able to walk.

Guess it wasn’t so bad working for the Mayor’s wife.

Just then a Caddie Limo rolled into the alley cruising slowly toward him. The black paint twinkled from the sun as the sleek car stopped just past him, the rear window in perfect alignment. The windows were tinted black, enough to blot out the sun and regular vision, but after a second it rolled down and there was Winnowill. Her long black hair that matched the color of the Caddie was tied back in three braids that were wrapped in one long one. Her face was pale white, as always and yet it seemed to emanate a red anger at the sametime.

This wasn’t going to be good Kureel thought.

“You let him walk out of the station.” Winnowill hissed.

“There was nothing we could do. I thought you were going to make sure we had time to crack him before anyone came looking. “

“You let him walk out of the station!” Winnowill spat.

“We had no choice. The Elders lawyer, the one who doesn’t like to talk, showed up with a bunch of legal papers. We had to turn the stargazer over.” Kureel explained.

Winnowill seemed to chew on the last piece of information, hopefully taking it in Kureel thought. Damn, he hated meeting her.

“Did he say anything?”

“Nope, he clammed up just as we started the interrogation.”

“So the girl didn’t say anything?”

What part of ”˜clammed up’ do you not understand lady? “No one knows, the stargazer said he doesn’t remember a thing from last night.”

“And you believe him?”

“Maybe, like I said we didn’t have a chance to discuss much.”

The mayor’s wife stared at the back of her driver’s head thinking. She had to find it before anyone else, just had to. She looked back to the detective with a raised eyebrow.

“No one knows he was here?”

“Nope, no paper trail or pictures.”

“The girl?”

“She’s at the morgue with a toe tag that has no name. She’ll get buried in an unmarked grave if no one shows up.”

“And no one will.” Winnowill whispered thinking again.

“How do you know that? You got a hand in this?” Kureel asked letting the inner-detective slip out before he could stop it.

Winnowill only glared at him coldly as she spoke. “I had no hand in killing the girl. I needed her and what she knew. I can only hope she passed it on to the stargazer before someone drowned her.”

“I see.” Kureel replied with a nod.

“Keep an eye on Skywise, where goes and who he sees. I think he’ll lead us to what we seek.” Winnowill commanded before looking to her driver.

“And just what is it ”˜we seek’ ma’am?” Kureel asked with a sarcastic smile.

“You needn’t worry about that for now, just follow Skywise. I’ve been around that fool long enough to know his curiosity will be his undoing. Jeffrey, home please.”

“Yes Madame.”

And with that the Caddie rolled away leaving the detective alone in the alley, dismissed like a commoner. Yep, Kureel thought heading back to the car, he hated meeting her.

WhiteGhost

[color=darkblue:2151e28fc6]Oooohhh :D The plot thickens! Soon the stirring spoon will stand up on its own![/color:2151e28fc6]

G0lden

This story is really good. The plot does indeed thicken. :D

jeb

Ahhh! More of this great story! Love all of it, but the description of Skywise visiting the palace was just too sad! Good thing for a mood breaker:

[quote:3da598f776]“As much as you hate wearing pants?”[/quote:3da598f776]


:roflmao:

Embala

Make us four :D I'm agreeing wholeheartedly!

WiseShaman

Dude, this is REALLY GOOD!!!!

Keep it up man...you are a man, right? Surprised

somerset1979

[quote:43ea4464f1="WiseShaman"]Dude, this is REALLY GOOD!!!!

Keep it up man...you are a man, right? Surprised[/quote:43ea4464f1]

Uhhhh, maybe! And thanks Shaman!!

But here's the next chapter. Skywise has a talk with the Elders...


[u:43ea4464f1][b:43ea4464f1]Part Four ”“ Let’s Talk.[/b:43ea4464f1][/u:43ea4464f1]

Cam wet the towel again and placed it on Bearclaw’s forehead. The elf was mumbling incoherently about something as his body tossed under the sheets. The street preacher knew just a little about his patient, the colorful past of the one and only Bearclaw. He started following the elf when he boxed out of Sweet’s Gym over off Clay ST. His first fight was an under card, the first one of the night, against a green human named Jimmy ”˜Red’. Jimmy stood six foot and old Bearclaw might have reached his nose, and he gave the human about twenty pounds. Man, Cam could still remember how everyone laughed when the saw the posters around town promoting that fight. Most, if not all, of the people that night in the auditorium were there to see Jimmy pummel the sense and life out of Bearclaw. Most were there to see a blood bath. They cheered every time the human landed a blow, screamed at every punch that hit Bearclaw with a loud thud. Soon the leather gloves of both were stained with blood and sweat

In the third round, just past the minute mark, all the cheering stopped.

Throughout the match Bearclaw had given just as good as he got, and then suddenly with a growl that drowned even the loudest of blood thirsty mob, he caught Jimmy with an upper cut that started somewhere around his ankles. The punch hit the human square right under the bottom jaw, broke it with a snap, and kept on going. Jimmy hit the canvas like a tree with a boom and no one said a word, hell it took the ref a minute to start the count over the still form. It didn’t matter. Jimmy didn’t wake up until they got him to hospital.

And there, in the middle of the ring lit by harsh yellow lights from above with smoke from all the cigarettes floating in lazy circles around them all stood Bearclaw. When the first cheer for him finally started he didn’t move. When the calls, the exultation, reached a crescendo like one of the waves on the beach Bearclaw finally reacted. He raised his gloves and howled like the wolf he was, screamed with primal fury.

Cam pulled the sheets up covering his patient wondering how incredibly far Bearclaw had fallen. The glory boy, the wolf, had been reduced to a drunk.

He also wondered just what Bearclaw was dreaming.

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

[i:43ea4464f1]I can’t stay.[/i:43ea4464f1]

[i:43ea4464f1]Why? Joyleaf asked calmly in her usual way.[/i:43ea4464f1]

[i:43ea4464f1]I can’t look at them”¦not after what happened Bearclaw spat shaking his head.[/i:43ea4464f1]

[i:43ea4464f1]Is it them”¦or is it him?[/i:43ea4464f1]

[i:43ea4464f1]The stargazer, she was asking about Skywise. Was she right he thought? Was she[/i:43ea4464f1]?

[i:43ea4464f1]It’s not just about Foxfur. Rain”¦Brownberry”¦Longbranch”¦I led them to their ends Joyleaf. Their chief led them to”¦it.[/i:43ea4464f1]

[i:43ea4464f1]No, Joyleaf countered shaking her head, they followed their chief. They went to fight at his side when Madcoil threatened the Holt. They did what they wished.[/i:43ea4464f1]

[i:43ea4464f1]Did they? If it wasn’t for Cutter and his net they might all still be fighting Madcoil from the backs of the pack. No, his son was a better chief. There was no room now for this old wolf anymore.[/i:43ea4464f1]

[i:43ea4464f1]I have to leave lifemate he whispered hoping she would understand.[/i:43ea4464f1]

[i:43ea4464f1]Maybe Joyleaf understood exactly what her lifemate was thinking. She began to put her furs and leathers in a pouch just as he did.[/i:43ea4464f1]

[i:43ea4464f1]What are you doing Bearclaw asked concerned now.[/i:43ea4464f1]

[i:43ea4464f1]I am going with you lifemate because if you think I will let you join Foxfur or Rain or the others then you are as mad as Two-Spear.[/i:43ea4464f1]

[i:43ea4464f1]Lifemate he tried to say. The look from Joyleaf stopped him. There was no arguing this, she was going with him. She would not let him slip off and die. Bearclaw only nodded and continued to pack what he would need to leave the tribe. When his hand touched New Moon Bearclaw stopped, hesitated for a moment, before continuing on. Only the chief would wear New Moon, only the one worthy to be chief.[/i:43ea4464f1]

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

There was that second, that flash of an instant when One-Eye thought Joyleaf was going to hit both him and Treestump. Her eyes narrowed to slits, her nose wrinkled flaring the nostrils, and he was pretty sure the right cross was coming. She learned it from Bearclaw and that scared the holy High Ones out of him. Yet she only whispered low as Leetah and Cutter stood just a foot away trying to calm her.

“Where is he?”

Treestump looked around nervously expecting one of the Elders to pop up. He did it even though he knew they were questioning Skywise about his problems. Even though no one seemed to care for Bearclaw except for them Treestump still looked around for Haken or Timmain or even Sefra.

“We left him at Cam’s. He’ll keep an eye on him until”¦” Treestump stopped not sure what to say next.

“What? Do you think he will die?” Leetah gasped.

“No lass,” One-Eye answered with a shake of his head, “Bearclaw’s too stubborn ta’ die. What o’ we worry for is when he’s back on his feet.”

“Why is that?”

“He’s got no where to go Leetah. That fleabag hotel won’t have him back and I doubt there’s a place in town that will take him in. Bearclaw’s reputation always gets there about ten minutes before he does.” Treestump explained.

“And that means he’ll end up o’ the streets and that only seems to lead to more trouble for the boyo.” One-Eye added tipping his fedora back on his head.

Cutter had been quiet up to this point. His relationship with his father had always been one of love”¦ and contention. Hell that was putting it nicely. They mixed like oil and water some of the time and that was before the whole Two-Spear episode. Yet his father loved him and Cutter knew it, even Bearclaw couldn’t hide it. Even with all the trouble the old chief got into couldn’t diminish the connection or the feeling he had for him, but you always had to be careful of how close you got to Bearclaw. It didn’t shock Cutter that much to find out his father had run with the crazed bank robber for a bit, it just fit Bearclaw’s life. Now though, he didn’t care about any of that.

This was his father in trouble.

“Can Cam take care of him?” He asked.

Treestump and One-Eye shrugged their shoulders. They didn’t ask about Cam’s medical background, it wasn’t high on the list. They had to get Bearclaw out of the station and hid or Tabak was going to kill him. Joyleaf looked to her son and spoke calmly but with a tone that was pure steel.

“I’m going to him.”

The head of the elves, the leader just one step below the Elders knew better than to argue with his mother. Even at her age she was still unbelievably beautiful with long flowing yellow hair and high cheek bones, and she was still as fierce as any Wolfrider. To stand between her and someone she loves was to be as good as dead.

“I’m going to. He might need my help.”

And then there was Leetah. She was just as fierce and just as strong as Joyleaf and she didn’t need a knife or a bow or anything to prove it.

“Okay, but Treestump and One-Eye stay right by you two both. They’re in charge and if they say its time to leave its time to leave, agreed?” Cutter offered with a raised eyebrow.

Joyleaf and Leetah didn’t like the terms. Cutter knew they wouldn’t, but then he was used to being chief and standing between him and a loved one had led to blood. The lifebearers knew this too and knew they had to agree with stipulation or they were going to stay right here in the mansion.

“All right, we’ll go with Treestump and One-Eye.” Leetah replied quickly.

Joyleaf only nodded and then smiled as her son continued. “I’ll keep the trip quiet here.”

“Thank you my son.” She finally responded.

“Its Bearclaw”¦someone has to help him, right?”

“That’s the High One’s truth lad!” One-Eye whistled.

Cutter stayed and watched the four leave before heading out the small hallway where Treestump had called them to meet in secret. He went back to wait for Skywise. He should be done with meeting the Elders here soon and then they could take lunch out by the pool.

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

The incense hung heavy in the air, a mixture of sweet indulgence and intense desire, in a room that was dark from the low light and seemed to stretch up and fade into a night sky where the ceiling should have been. The walls held pictures and shelves at eye level but then disappeared into the black above, melted away to become the usual canopy of the Abode. It almost felt like Father Tree, like Goodtree’s rest to him. The smell of the special incense made Skywise’s head swim for a moment with a hazy desire, the heat in his body slowly building and crawling along his limbs. It was hard to concentrate, to focus, and Skywise had a feeling it was due to the effects of the incense, a way for the Elders to ensure the truth would come out. It was only to relax they would say if he asked, just a way to soothe and help him not be nervous while he was talking with them. They would never say ”˜question’. That would make it seem like an interrogation and that was not good hospitality.

Timmain and Haken and Sefra sat casually on a large leather couch, probably imported from some where Skywise guessed. Behind them, seated amongst the room were the rest of the Elders, the Circle of Nine as they used to be known. There was Deir and Gibra and Aerth to one side sitting on a small raised balcony while Kaslen and Kalil sat at a small table among soft chairs at the other. They were all clothed in expensive dresses, the latest fashions for the ladies, or Chino’s with razor sharp pleats and sweater vests for the men. Skywise still looked sharp in his jacket and pants, but not as nice as the Elders. There were reputations to uphold he considered while waiting for the first question. When it didn’t come his mind moved on and what it brought up bothered him immensely.

He wondered if Timmain had considered not using the incense. That in the end if she realized she didn’t need it for him at all. He would tell her the truth no matter what, no matter the past. They had been close once, lovers the humans call it, but they lacked the knowledge of just how deep that ”˜close’ went with the elves. They didn’t understand the level of emotion, the exchange of energy that was”¦soulful. No human could understand because no human could feel what the elves felt. He and Timmain had come close to recognition, that bond the elves experienced when eye met eye as they use to say. The involuntary exchange of soul names, the need to join and create a new life. It was so strong that to deny recognition was as bad as calling Tabak a coward, just not as messy.

“Good afternoon Skywise, are you up to talking with us or would you rather wait?” Sefra asked.

With the incense turning his head to a bucket of mush he just shrugged off the offer wanting to get this over with. “No thank you, I’m here so let’s just talk.”

HA, even he didn’t say ”˜question’.

“So, how did you end up with a dead elf maiden in a bath tub in your rented room?” Haken asked coldly and too damn quickly it seemed.

Wow, Skywise thought, right out of the gate like the ponies at the track. Wait”¦they didn’t call then ponies back then. Yeah, it was different back then. What did they call them”¦No-Bumps, or something like that? He almost let out a giggle but then caught himself and answered Haken.

“I don’t know. All of last night is”¦a blur.”

“A drunken blur?” Haken popped off.

“Haken,” Timmain snapped with an equal cold tone silencing him, “Skywise came here at our request to talk. We can show him some respect.”

“As always.” Haken grinned. He made his point and everyone in the room knew it.

“You do not remember a thing?” Gibra asked with a tilt of her head.

“No”¦just the beginning of the night.” Skywise answered blinking uncontrollably. He was fighting the smell of the incense so damn hard it was making him jerk.

“What do you remember my dear?” Timmain asked, the tone motherly.

For some reason it ground against Skywise, her question and its inclination. Maybe it was the incense that had his emotions all muddled, but he felt like she was trying protect him and he didn’t need that. He didn’t need anyone standing up for him. “I went out to the Formosa to see about getting some business, maybe find some new clients.”

“Oh yes, you’re a Private Investigator.” Kaslen remarked with a smile.

Yeah, I’m a P.I”¦who found a dead body in a tub”¦while betting on a No-Bump. No Wait, that wasn’t it. Damn, keep it straight Skywise chided himself.

“And you find clients at a bar?” Kalil asked sitting by Kaslen’s side.

“Yeah, I get lucky every once in a while.”

“The elf was not ”˜lucky’, was she?” Haken stabbed with his words like a knife, at Skywise.

The only answer was from Sefra though. She snorted and shook her head at her fellow Elder before turning to Skywise. “This elf maiden, do you know who she is?”

“No, I had never seen her before this morning.”

“You did not find her in the bar?” Aerth asked.

“No, I think she was at Mike’s when I got there.”

“What is ”˜Mike’s’?” Deir spoke for the first and only time.

“It’s another bar, if you could call that disgusting establishment a place of occupancy!” Haken spat obviously bored with the conversation at the moment.

I like it enough Skywise thought as Timmain kept up ”˜the talk’. “So she was not at this ”˜Formosa’.”

“No”¦I don’t remember seeing her there.” He answered as something started to come back.

It was a flash, like looking into the morning star or Sun as they called it these days. He was leaving the Formosa and there was someone behind him, someone familiar, and someone else out in the street by a car watching him. Skywise was trying to hold on to the image, grasp the picture with his mental fingers but it just slipped away like smoke on a swift breeze. Damn this incense!

“How did the Police find you?” Sefra asked breaking his train of thought.

“They said someone called it in, a disturbance.”

“Did the maiden fight?” Timmain inquired this time.

“I don’t know. The bathroom was wet from splashing, like maybe she did, but I can’t lay a bet down on it.”

“A what?” Aerth asked lost.

“It’s a saying in town, means I don’t know for sure.”

The Elder nodded making the connection as Sefra continued on. “Who were the Police men who took you to the station?”

Skywise took a breath, inhaled the incense and felt his head swim even more causing the room to spin drunkenly and his words to slur a little. Yet even with all the sensation overload he noticed how Haken suddenly took a new interest in the questions. “Detectives Reevol and Kureel. They called in the 1087 but then made the mistake of leaving the booking sheet blank.”

“The what?” Sefra questioned looking to Timmain.

Before Skywise could answer though Haken was cutting in like a Troll drawn to bright metal. “What did you tell the Police?”

“Nothing”¦I don’t remember anything so I couldn’t tell them anything.” Skywise slurred as he swayed uneasily on his feet.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes”¦”

“Pos-“

“Haken please!” Timmain exclaimed cutting him off.

The move looked to irritate the Edler as Haken turned an evil eye on Timmain, but then shifted as uneasily in his seat as Skywise stood. From the back Gibra asked one final question. “So the Police just let you go?

“Yes”¦just let me skip right out the front door”¦with Strongbow of course.”

Timmain rose from the couch and approached the stargazer slowly. He looked ready to topple over as she put an arm around him and guided him toward the door. “Thank you my dear Skywise. You can go and have lunch now with Cutter.”

“Thank you”¦”

She stopped at the door as he stepped out heading down the dark hall toward the main center of the house. Timmain watched him leave, stared with what some might call earnest or a yearning. Yet with a turn she closed the door and then walked over to the shelf holding the special incense that smoked still. She stopped its smoldering as Aerth spoke up.

“Did we learn anything new?”

The ”˜Mother of All’ simply turned and smiled, looking to Haken. “That we have”¦that we have.”

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

When the door opened to the Elders wing and Skywise stepped out the effects of the incense were all ready wearing off. He hated going through that, some in the mansion didn’t mind it but to him it felt like an underhanded trick. Something the TMPD would use to get a confession. Skywise didn’t think long on what happened as Cutter suddenly appeared from around a corner. His smile made the stargazer feel a lot better, like an old missing friend.

“How did it go?”

“I think I floated past one of the Two-Moons!” Skywise laughed.

Cutter clapped his dearest friend, his brother, and smiled. “They only use the incense to help you relax, to ease the nerves.”

“Relax?” Skywise said with a raised eyebrow remembering what he was thinking just a few moments before. “Do they use it on you when you ”˜talk’?”

“No, but it makes no never mind. Lunch is waiting out by the pool and I’m starving.” The leader of the elves winked.

Skywise smiled and let his brother gently lead out the house and toward the pool. It was the same touch he felt from Timmain, loving and comforting.

[i:43ea4464f1]Your not staying”¦your not staying”¦[/i:43ea4464f1]He kept telling himself as asked about a special friend.

“Where’s Leetah?”

“She had to run a special errand for me and mother. She said to give you a kiss but I’m not sure about that.”

“Thanks, but I’ll pass.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, if I wanted to get a kiss from a troll I’d stop by IronBar’s in Trolltowm.” Skywise joked with a wink.

Cutter only laughed and shook his head. “I knew there was a reason I missed you.”

“I miss you too brother.”

G0lden

That is a really good chapter. I like how Cutter is still in some control even though he is no longer a chief. The elders seem kind of odd, I wonder if they are worried about Winnowill. :D

Embala

Really good indeed! Close enough to the original that all characters and functions feel beliveable ... but so very different from EQ that (almost)everyone could be anything - either hero or villian.

Like Bearclaw being the bad good guy ... hope he'll will reach the good end again - either for life or death.

Not that I really think this could be a [color=red:252a3c9db7]SPOILER[/color:252a3c9db7] ... just in case
[color=red:252a3c9db7][size=1:252a3c9db7]Suddenly had the weird idea that the dead girl is Vaya ... killed by Winnie's ingenious, insane illegitim son Two-Edge ...[/size:252a3c9db7][/color:252a3c9db7]

lunakat

Well, this is pretty cool. I like how you kept everyone's basic personality the same while creating an entirely new set of circumstances. I sort of tend to wonder why the 'elders' needed to use incense, when they could have simply required sending... but then again- why are Bearclaw and Winnowil still alive? It's a totally different universe. The funny thing is.. you might have made this an actual alt. future- if you'd wanted. As opposed to a complete alternate reality. But I do like it this way. I like having all these old favorites back. Bearclaw is an awesome character- and it's fantastic to play with him like this.

Really enjoying this little series. Thanks! :)

somerset1979

Thanks guys for the great comments!!

So here's the next part of the story. Leetah helps Beareclaw who has a dream and Skywise finally gets away from the mansion...

[u:d68233fc7f][b:d68233fc7f]Part Five ”“ A look behind the veil.[/b:d68233fc7f][/u:d68233fc7f]

“How is he Leetah?”

Joyleaf’s question nudged the healer turned actress out of her trance as she used her healing magic to examine Bearclaw, it had been sometime since Leetah had used her healing powers this much, taken them this far. She looked up into the older elf’s eyes and smiled warmly. “He will be fine, just needs to rest.”

The healer watched as Joyleaf lovingly stroked her lifemate’s face, the fingers tracing through the thick brown beard, what they used to call face fur. A lot of things had new names now she thought, and yet a lot of things stayed the same. The elves still mated for life with recognition, pushed together sometimes by more than love before letting the emotion inn to grow. She and Cutter were the same, bound by recognition long before there was any true love between them. Recognition used to rule they’re lives, choosing who would be with who with only one couple she knew of not succumbing to its effects, Redlance and Nightfall. The pair had never experienced it and never will Leetah thought stepping away from the cot. They chose each other and nothing has ever come between them. The young ones in the mansion, still called cubs by the older generation and children by the rest, looked to them as an example. Leetah wondered how long before Recognition would merely be something one had to deal with, like a skirt that needed mending or a hurt that needed healing.

“How long do you think he’ll be down?” Treestump asked as she approached.

Leetah shook her head looking back once to see Joyleaf putting the wet cloth back on her lifemate’s head tenderly before answering. “With Bearclaw, not long, I think by tomorrow afternoon he’ll be up and moving.”

“That means we’ll have to keep o’ eye on em’” One-Eye remarked.

“You don’t like playing she-wolf and cub?” Treestump laughed.

“Maybe with Clearbrook, not as much face fur!” One-Eye joked.

Leetah only smiled before responding. “You two”¦do you think Bearclaw will be okay here with Cam?”

“He’ll have to be lass. We can’t take him back to the mansion.” One-Eye answered.

“Cam ”˜ill take care of him, just like he’s done before.” Joyleaf added while brushing a strand of his dark hair out her lifemate’s face.

The scene was touching, to the point of almost bringing a tear to Leetah’s eyes. Joyleaf and Bearclaw had been separated for years now, another new word, because of the former chief’s”¦colorful past. Oh Joyleaf had tried to contact him after he was banished from the mansion, pleaded to see him, but Bearclaw was stubborn and never agreed to a face to face. He never told her why but Leetah had long ago assumed why the former chief kept his distance from the one he loved, even from Cutter. It was simple to understand, easy to see that he was protecting them both from”¦him. It was sad really because he didn’t need to stay away from them or protect them. In the end it wasn’t necessary and was just adding to the pain.

The sound of the door to the backroom opening broke Leetah’s thought as Cam stepped in quickly and closed the entrance just as fast. “Is he gonna be okay?”

“Yes Cam, he’ll be fine now. I healed the internal injuries and given him the energy to speed along the recovery.”

“That’s good”¦real good.” The street preacher smiled.

“Well, we better get you two back home before you go missing.” Treestump whispered.

“I’m staying.” Joyleaf stated flatly, as if it would take more then the three of them to move her.

The detective sighed figuring his sister would give him a fight. She was in love with Bearclaw, more than that really, and it was too damn bad he was such a stubborn ass when it came to walking the straight and narrow. It was too bad for her in fact. He started to say something to convince her that leaving her lifemate here was for the best”¦for everyone. The problems that would come up if the Elders, especially Haken, learned they used magic to help Bearclaw”¦the mess would be deep. Yet it was Leetah who stepped up and took Joyleaf’s hand. It was the healer who spoke to her.

“We have to go back Joyleaf. Timmain and the others will know where we are and what we have done. Haken will use it to hurt Cutter and You.”

“I don’t care. I can’t leave him again.” Cutter’s mother whispered.

“I know you would face the Elders for him, and so will I, stand by your side gladly my friend. But not now, not like this. We need to have Cutter and the others on our side to persuade them to let Bearclaw back.”

Joyleaf smiled. It was the kind that said I know you’re lying to just sway me to your side, and spoke. “They won’t let him back Leetah, no matter the persuading we do the Elders won’t let him back. You know that and you know I’m no fool.”

She was right”¦sort of. Leetah leaned closer, her brown dress that clung at just the right spots to accent her hourglass shape rustling a bit. “I think we can convince Timmain to let him back and she will persuade the others. Haken will have no choice once he sees he is alone. All we need is time and a safe place for Bearclaw to stay until we do. I have a human friend who may help, when we get back to the mansion I’ll call him and make arrangements.”

“You would do that?” Joyleaf asked with a small gleam of hope in her eyes.

“Oh yes, and I’ll even get Cutter to help.”

“And I’ll look after him until then ma’am.” Cam added.

“Like you always have Cam, you promise?” Joyleaf asked quietly, giving in slowly.

“Yes ma’am, like I always have.” He promised with a gentle smile.

And that was it, no more talking and no more debating the one thing Joyleaf could have used to stay at his side. She knew the Elders would find out somehow she had come to visit him, which wasn’t allowed, but they would sure frown on her and Leetah helping him. So Joyleaf leaned over and kissed Bearclaw’s forehead before standing up form beside the cot. Her dress, just like Leetah’s, cut Joyleaf’s slim figure a perfect hour glass with an imported brown silk as she walked toward the group and the door. Treestump smiled and took his sister’s hand.

“Now let’s get you two back.”

“Okay.” Joyleaf whispered.

“Come on, we’ll use the backdoor to get you ladies home.” Cam smiled turning to the door but stopping suddenly as Leetah exclaimed with surprise.

“The backdoor?”

“Yes ma’am,” Cam replied with a nod and a wink, “Two beautiful elves such as you and Mrs. Joyleaf will certainly be remembered if you leave by the front door.”

“What about when we came in?” Joyleaf asked.

“A man remembers a shake from the rear more then the front ma’am.” Cam explained with a grin.

Joyleaf only smiled and blushed as Leetah tried to keep her grin hidden but failing miserably. “Oh Cam!”

They left the small room, Joyleaf stealing one last look at her lifemate before stepping out, and then it was quiet for a second after the door closed. Then Bearclaw’s head moved, jerked like someone slapped him, and his dream kept rolling on.

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

[i:d68233fc7f]He was crazy. The kind you could sense, smell, and see all at once and from a hell of a long way away. His name was easy to say and hard to forget once you met him.[/i:d68233fc7f]

[i:d68233fc7f]Two-Spear[/i:d68233fc7f]

[i:d68233fc7f]The stories were all around Two-Moons about him. How he did the ”˜jobs’ no one else in the ”˜families’ wanted done, and he did them with a smile. He’d rob the trolls down in Trolltown and the humans in the city. He’d rob a made man in a minute and laugh when someone would tell him there was a hit out on him for doing it. The elf knew no sense of fear people said, and no common sense. Two-Spear ran with his gang, crew, and even thy were crazy to run with him, it was required. He was on his way to the bottom of Thornwood Lake and anyone with him the people on the streets said.[/i:d68233fc7f]

[i:d68233fc7f]And here was Two-Spear leaning up against the jam in the doorway to the locker room for the fighters. He was dressed in a black suit pants, white shirt, and black leather shoes that shined. His jacket was off white, the color of bone, with a dark red kerchief in the pocket. It was typical Two-Spear, hide out in plain sight.[/i:d68233fc7f]

[i:d68233fc7f]That was a hell of a fight Bear”¦old Remmy never stood a chance he called out. Even his voice was tinged with crazy.[/i:d68233fc7f]

[i:d68233fc7f]Remmy’s a good fighter, just leads with the left too much.[/i:d68233fc7f]

[i:d68233fc7f]Bearclaw kept his eyes down tearing the tape off his hands with his teeth, refusing to make eye contact with the gangster. He didn’t want to get involved with Two-Spear, hell even have a causal ”˜run-in’ with the elf. Yet Two-Spear had other things in mind.[/i:d68233fc7f]

[i:d68233fc7f]Remmy’s a loser who needs to help out at the kitchen down the street. He ain’t no real fighter, probably be just as bad as a cook.[/i:d68233fc7f]

[i:d68233fc7f]Maybe, then maybe you don’t see it like a boxer Bearclaw shrugged ripping the last of the tape off his hands.[/i:d68233fc7f]

[i:d68233fc7f]The leather shoes creaked as he leaned away form the door jam and walked in. The others in the room stopped cold, as if moving would catch Two-Spear’s attention and no one wanted that.[/i:d68233fc7f]

[i:d68233fc7f]You know Bearclaw, I get the impression your trying to ignore me Two-Spear said stopping just a foot away or so. This time his voice was lower, almost threatening, and that wasn’t welcomed.[/i:d68233fc7f]

[i:d68233fc7f]That’s when the old Bearclaw came out, the one where he didn’t have a sense of fear and no common sense. It was the Bearclaw that ended up in the caves with the trolls back in the old days throwing six-sided dice and drinking dreamberry wine till he passed out”¦which took a long time. This was the Bearclaw that just might equal Two-Spear when it came to destruction.[/i:d68233fc7f]

[i:d68233fc7f]You’d be right Bearclaw snarled turning away from the locker.[/i:d68233fc7f]

[i:d68233fc7f]He got maybe two steps before Two-Spear called out, the tone of his voice back to being crazy. You ain’t scared of me one bit are you Bear[/i:d68233fc7f]

[i:d68233fc7f]Bearclaw turned and shook his head. Nope, I’ve heard so many stories about you that I just can’t work up the feeling to be afraid.[/i:d68233fc7f]

[i:d68233fc7f]The room went silent for a minute. One of the other boxers in the back swallowed hard, loud enough for everyone to hear. He was probably thinking of which way to run when the bullets started flying. Bearclaw wasn’t thinking that though. He was staring back at the gangster waiting for a reply. Finally, when the tension couldn’t get any thicker, Two-Spear threw back his head and roared with laughter.[/i:d68233fc7f]

[i:d68233fc7f]I knew you were a hardass! I could see it a mile away![/i:d68233fc7f]

[i:d68233fc7f]Yeah, well, from one hardass to another why are you here?[/i:d68233fc7f]

[i:d68233fc7f]Two-Spear walked over and grinned, the evil kind where the left corner went up exposing a large white canine while the eyes gleamed with a mean disposition. You’ll have to come to dinner if you want to find out.[/i:d68233fc7f]

[i:d68233fc7f]Bearclaw’s eyebrow rose just a bit as he cocked his head. I don’t know...you seem like the kind of fella who buys a gal a drink and then expects some fun for his money.[/i:d68233fc7f]

[i:d68233fc7f]Yeah, but I promise my kind-of-fun is worth it.[/i:d68233fc7f]

[i:d68233fc7f]He should have said no right then and there. Maybe it was not having Joyleaf’s influence and soft talk that made him agree or maybe it was he curious to see if Two-Spear was as bad as everyone said. Whatever it was Bearclaw agreed to dinner”¦and it had been all downhill ever since.[/i:d68233fc7f]

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

The lunch was nice, delicious, and always in the back of his mind. Skywise acted like his usual jovial self having way too much fun talking with Cutter and Nightfall and Ember and Sunstream that they didn’t catch him checking his watch. The food and the company took a backseat, and it pained him greatly to push it away, as he kept the girl’s face fresh in his memory. He focused on the image, her eyes looking up at him from the bottom of the tub through the water, the shape of her cheeks and lips, and the color of her hair. Skywise couldn’t let her face fade from his mind’s eye, he wouldn’t dare. She was killed for some reason and he had to know why”¦had to know if it was because of him. There would be a lot of sleepless nights ahead Skywise thought, a lot until he found out why she was killed.

And what if it was because of him? What would he do then?

The stargazer shook his head to clear out the thought, hiding it with a loud laugh from a small joke by Sunstream. He didn’t want to cross that bridge until he had too”¦until the very last second. Right now hew just wanted to get back to town and to Shuna’s. Not the same Shuna from so long ago, this was her great-great-great-however many greats-daughter and she was a damn good painter. She could sketch the girl in the bath tub’s face and then he could start the job of finding out just who she was, but first he had to get away from here.

Soon enough, and with a few silent curses, the lunch came to an end and he was able to say his goodbyes. He shook Sunstream’s hand and hugged Ember giving her a small kiss on the cheek. Skywise asked Adar to call him a cab, no need to have it come all the way up the drive, he’d just meet it at the gate. Better for the clean getaway”¦that’s if Cutter would have let him. His brother growled a bit, shot him a hard eye, and demanded they walk out together. It was the polite thing to do dammit.

Skywise just swallowed and nodded knowing the walk would be a little cold, and not because of the temperature outside. Sure enough Cutter waited until they were away from the mansion and down the driveway before he finally spoke up. “Why are you in such a hurry to get back to town?”

“The girl Cutter,” he answered knowing better then lying to his brother in all but blood, “I have to know who she is”¦why she was murdered?”

“Don’t you think you should let the police figure that out?”

“No, the TMPD won’t care”¦she’s just another cone to them. I need to know Cutter. I need to know she wasn’t killed because of me.”

Cutter nodded putting his hands in the pockets of his white pants as he walked. “You think someone’s sending you a message for a job your doing?”

“Maybe”¦I have to run it down and I need to be in town for that.” Skywise replied putting his hands in his pockets.

“You could run it down it from here in the mansion you know. You could use my office, the phones, and Adar could run down information. I’d like you to stay, keep an eye out for you, and I know Leetah would feel better.” Cutter offered with a sly grin.

Sure, Skywise wanted to say, I’d be glad to come back with you two”¦but then I’d feel trapped again brother, just like last time. I’d start to get that itch, like back at Father Tree when we were cubs, and the need to go out and see and experience this world would come back only a whole lot worse this time. So damn harder it would be impossible to ignore or hold back for long. No, he only shook his head and tried to say the words that felt like razor blades in his mouth.

“Nah Cutter, people tend to be more talkative when you’re face to face with them.”

The answer wasn’t what Cutter wanted to hear. It wasn’t what Skywise wanted to say, and it stopped the leader of the elves in midstep. Cutter looked to his brother with an expression that was half pained half angry.

“Why don’t you want to stay brother? Why huh?”

“You know why Tam,” Skywise sighed using his brother’s soul name trying to connect with him past the hurt he just caused, “I’m not”¦free in there. I feel like I’m locked in a cage when I’m in there brother.”

“That’s a load of crap Skywise and you know it!” Cutter snapped suddenly.

“It’s not Tam. Let me ask you something, why do the Elders use the incense instead of just sending with us when they’re asking questions? We can’t hide anything when we send, right? So why use the incense?”

“Some of us can, remember?” Cutter pointed out taking off down the driveway again.

“This isn’t about Winnowill or Voll or the gliders Tam. Timmain doesn’t have to use the incense on me”¦and neither do you. I’d tell you both anything you want.” Skywise countered speaking to Cutter’s back, his tone firm but loving.

It was working”¦Cutter stopped again, stared at the grass for a minute trying to hide his face and its agonizing look, but then he looked over his shoulder back to Skywise. He didn’t say anything”¦and he didn’t need to.

Skywise knew that look, knew he was getting there with Cutter finally. He took advantage of that and pressed forward carefully. “Why do Timmain and the others keep us locked away in the mansion, behind the walls and this gate? Is it because they’re still afraid of the humans? The humans out there in town, they’re not the same ones who use to kill us when they caught us so long ago. They’re not the same ones we left here that day in the Palace. They’re not even the same ones we found when we came back.”

It was true. They left so many years ago when all the elves were gathered in the Palace and tried to find their way back home, what the Elders called home, but in the end it had been too long and no one knew the way there. Not even the Masters of the Palace”¦not even Timmain herself. So they came back to Two-Moons”¦back to the Abode”¦and found a new world that seemed to welcome them. Yet for some the past was too hard to forget and for the rest this new world may have been too big. Maybe the Elders were too protective, too

“They look after us. The Elders, me, we look after the elves.” Cutter answered finally.

“Yeah, you do, at least the ones who want to stay”¦the ones like Nightfall and Redlance. To them this is all they want, you and the mansion and the Elders and in that order. Me”¦I want more and these gates and walls only hold me back. And don’t ask me about the Go-Backs.”

Cutter looked to his brother with a hard look that might have scared someone else, might have given them the impression a line was crossed. Skywise knew better, he knew Tam was just thinking and realizing what he said was for the best. “You always had your head in the sky.”

“Yep”¦and you’ve always kept me there.” The stargazer whispered back.

The two didn’t say another word, not during the walk down to the taxi at the gate, not even as Skywise opened the door to get in. It was just as he leaned in, just as he was ready to go that Cutter finally broke the silence with a loving send. The words were short, the kind his chief and blood brother always used. [i:d68233fc7f]Look out for yourself Fahr. Call me if you need anything”¦anything.[/i:d68233fc7f]

[i:d68233fc7f]I will Tam. I promise.[/i:d68233fc7f] Skywise offered with a nod.

Then he was in the backseat and the taxi was speeding away. It was just like that cold morning in the mountains after the troll war. After they won the Palace”¦after he realized he could fly and see the stars”¦after he realized Cutter would stay behind with the tribe and make a new Holt”¦after he realized they would be apart.

It was just like then, the pain in his heart. Yet Skywise knew he had to leave. He had to find out who this girl was and why she was killed and why it involved him. So he sat back in the seat, beat back the pain, and kept remembering every feature of the face that looked up at him from the bottom of the tub.

jeb

This is so good!

G0lden

Love the new chapter. :D Love the story about Bearclaw when he first got invovled with Two-Spear. So they left and came back, I like how that worked out. :D

Embala

[quote:2d135f136c="jeb"]This is so good![/quote:2d135f136c]
YUP!

somerset1979

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

Refined

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.”

“Of who?”

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.

Really, why?

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?

Who, Two-Spear?

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.

G0lden

Love the new chapter. :D Rayek is a CEO and still thinks he's better than others, wonder where that came from? I really like the back story on the history of Cam and Bearclaw. I really like the new Shuna, she sounds like she could be a real pistol. :D

Embala

Now there are three plot strands (at least) - wonder how they will be worn together

- the murder story around Skywise

- the conspiracy around the Scrolls

- Bearclaw's fatal connection with Two-Spear

and Winnowill having fingers and mind in all of it (yup ... wouldn't be surprised if she would have dealt with Two-Spear, too).

Last not least there's a secret around the High Ones ... btw: will it be explained why all (most?) of them are still alive in this AU - or has it just to be taken as fact?



Want to learn MORE!

lunakat

Quote:
Embala

Last not least there's a secret around the High Ones ... btw: will it be explained why all (most?) of them are still alive in this AU - or has it just to be taken as fact?



Could this be an alternate universe in which Rayek actually succeeded at his plan, taking the Wolfriders and Sunfolk with him?[/code]

somerset1979

Hey, sorry for the long overdue update but I had to take care of a few things.

But here's the new chapter. Skywise picks up an old friend while Winnowill runs into one she wish's she hadn't...


Part Seven – Plans and plans and more plans.

It didn’t take them long to come calling the stargazer thought, just under a day, but did they come back to finish the job or look for something? For that matter what was the job?

Skywise slid down the hall with quiet steps and his back to the wall, the hardwood not even clicking as his shoes touched down. He held his forty-five pointed right at the door to his office, the one he left locked yesterday and was now cracked open. His jacket felt tight and heavy but Skywise knew it was just the rush of the situation. After all this time, after all the fights and battles and wars, these little ‘moments’ always seemed to get his blood going. Someone in the office moved, a small crash sounded as something fell to the floor. Skywise pulled the hammer back on his gun, back so slow it clicked home without a sound almost. He took another step and something hit the floor again, a little heavier this time.

Maybe they did come back to finish the job?

Then something darted out the door and Skywise dropped the pistol instantly. A calico cat shot past him and down the hall to the stairs as he held the barrel of the forty-five on the feline for a second before pointing it away. “Damn Chester, I almost plugged you.”

The PI approached the office slow and cautious, but he kept the gun at his side. Instinct told him whoever had dropped by was long gone and when he looked in on the wreckage that was his office…well he was right. There was no one but the strewn remnants of files and papers and furniture. It looked like a force just rolled through the room, a wave of destruction. His chairs for the clients were on opposite sides of the room, the hat rack was broken into six pieces, and his desk was on its back with the drawers missing. Skywise put his gun back in its holster and closed the door making sure to lock it before turning his attention to the disaster. He walked over and put his desk chair back on its coasters then sat down heavily sighing and looking around spotting a drawer here and one there in the corner.

“What have you done this time stargazer?”

Skywise kicked at a pile of papers by his overturned desk and when the sheets dropped away an old forgotten friend popped into view. It was wooden box, big as his hand with small designs on the sides and top, old pictures in raised relief of days when the hunt and ‘Way’ were the life of the Woldrider. As he reached down and picked it up hearing a small familiar clunk which told him it was still in there Skywise remembered a friend asking about the pictures on the box. Some was a very good carver his friend remarked and her eyes just popped when he said the reliefs weren’t carved. He knew an elf that could shape the wood with magic and the elf created the box as a present for him. Skywise opened the top of the box as the memory of the female’s face made him smile just a bit. There was a cushion inside made of what use to be bright red felt but had faded to pink now.

“There you are.” He whispered as his old Lodestone appeared.

He hadn’t worn it or even carried it for so many years. At one time it never left his neck, never ever, but these days it just sat in the box. He had stopped wearing it right after they returned the second time with the Palace to the Abode, the last time. There was no need to wear it anymore really, he knew his way in the new world, better that most. He dumped the stone out into his hand expecting to feel the old magic in it and that tingle in his fingertips.

Yet nothing happened…no tingle…no magic.

It was just a piece of rock.

“I guess I really don’t need it anymore.” Skywise whispered closing his fingers over the rock in an easy grip.

He reached into his jacket and pulled out the sketch of the girl from the inside pocket, the one Shuna drew for him. He stared at it for a minute, examined it again trying to force his brain to come up with a name. Any name would do…but it was all just a blank. A pair of brown eyes stared back from a pretty if not chubby face and he couldn’t remember a damn letter.

“Who are you sweetheart? What’s your name, huh? You got give me a hand here because I don’t remember a blasted thing about last night.”

There was no answer, from the sketch or his head. Just the silence of his destroyed office and the meow of Chester down the hall. Outside someone blew a horn and screamed about getting cut off.

“Well, this case isn’t going to solve itself and I’m not one to cry in my drink so let’s go find out who you are.”

Skywise stood up out of the chair all ready thinking of the places he needed to visit and show off the sketch. There was Tommy’s, the last place he went before the night became a fog and disappeared. Someone there had to notice her, and if no one as talking then he’d try Mike’s and the Formosa’s on the strip. There was the Tiki Bar just down the street. Everyone in Town always hit the Tiki Bar no matter what. And then there was the Café in the Hills by the studios, every aspiring actor or actress hung out there trying to catch the eye of the directors and producers. The girl in the sketch was pretty, probably came out here looking to make it big in the movies and someone probably pointed her toward the Café. He crossed the office and reached for the door when he noticed his had was a closed fist.

He was still holding the Lodestone…and he wasn’t sure why. He didn’t need it anymore.

“Maybe I just need to put you back up…”

Then an idea hit the PI, not original or unique, but an idea nonetheless.

“Maybe I do know someone…”

Skywise put the Lodestone in his jacket pocket then opened the door and walked out thinking he’d clean the office later.

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

Cutter came walking up to meet Leetah and his mother Joyleaf after being told of they’re return. He wasn’t surprised to see Treestump or One-eye. He kissed his lifemate and spoke with a whisper. “How is he?”

“I healed his wounds, but the Police beat him severely. He’ll need a day or two of rest.”

The recognized leader, as everyone saw him, of the Elvin presence on the Abode sighed and shook his head, like he had always done when angered. “Did anyone see you?”

“No,” Treestump whispered with his hands in his pockets, “we were in and out before you could blink. Cam’s the only one who knew we were there.”

Cutter turned from Leetah to face his elder with a serious look. He had always gone to his elder for advice, even now. “How long do you think the peace will last?”

“You mean when he gets on his feet how long before we’re stepping in again to save his skin?” Treestump winked.

“Before he gets to be a pain in my side again!” Cutter quipped.

It looked like Treestump was about to answer his friend and leader but didn’t get the chance to utter a single word. Before anything else could be said Joyleaf stepped in and made her views known. Even with a jaw clenched tight from anger no one had any trouble understanding her…not a bit.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

A look of deep shock fell across Leetah’s face, the only one in the group, as One-Eye held up a hand. “The lad was only speaking the truth Joyleaf. We have to keep in mind who we’re speaking of here.”

“Yes, someone you use to call chief…someone you followed!”

“Someone I call friend!” Treestump finally snapped.

“A friend would do more for him!”

“Please, no fighting.” Leetah pleaded stepping between the two.

Joyleaf only huffed and turned to walk away when Cutter stepped in front of her. “Are you mad because of what we said, or is it something else?”

It took a minute but Joyleaf finally answered her son with a calm, cold voice. “Why haven’t you spoken to the elders about letting your father come back?”

“Bearclaw doesn’t want to come back Joyleaf…because if he did he would ask the Elders themselves. He left knowing full well what he was leaving behind.”

“They never gave him a chance to explain…no one understands him or why he does what he does.” Joyleaf tried to answer for her lifemate to her cub.

“We knew our chief. This place was a cage to him sister. He had no taste for the compound and no desire to be around the Elders.” Treestump added with a shake of his head.

She looked deep into her son’s blue eyes and Joyleaf could see the truth, see that her son said what was needed. A hand touched her shoulder and she could hear One-Eye try to reason. “We all still love him lass…even if he doesn’t love himself.”

“We all miss him so much Joyleaf, but Bearclaw does what he wants and ask for no forgiveness.” Leetah whispered looking into her eyes.

Her jaw hurt as she unclenched it, as Joyleaf gave in. The rise of anger was gone leaving only hurt now, and the hole in her heart made it all so worse. All she wanted was her lifemate back and it seemed the world was against their reunion from the start.

“I want to go to him tomorrow. I want to see him Cutter.”

“I’m sure Treestump wouldn’t mind dropping you off at Cam’s.”

“I’ll have the car warmed up and ready to go.” Treestump offered.

Joyleaf smiled, a real honest happy smile, and held back a tear. “Thank you both.”

She hugged her son hard as Cutter grinned, the small smile holding back the pain he felt for not being able to help his mother more. The anger of his father hurting the ones he loved growing just a little more. He wished Bearclaw would come back, but he knew the elf had no intention of apologizing or asking to be let back in to the compound.

That would require humility and his father didn’t have a lot of that.

Leetah was smiling quietly when she heard Adar walking up the hall. As she turned he stopped just a step or two away. “Sorry ma’am, but Mrs. Nightfall asked if it was possible for you to come to the drive.”

“What’s the problem Adar?” Cutter asked quickly with a touch of worry in his voice.

“It’s Mr. Redlance Sir, it seems he hit his head at the nursery and may need Mrs. Leetah’s aid.” Adar answered with a smile.

“Is it serious?” Leetah asked.

“No ma’am, he’s fine but Mrs. Nightfall would still like you to take a look.”

Cutter looked to his mother failing to hold back his smirk, which made his lifemate just a touch angry. “Do not laugh at him…do not dare!”

She should have ordered One-Eye who let out a muffled cry first. Then Treestump let go of his laugh followed quickly by Joyleaf. Cutter only shrugged his shoulders and finally laughed. Leetah shook her head smiling ruefully at the group, even Adar was laughing now.

“Our poor Treeshaper,” Leetah whispered.

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

She stormed through the Mayor’s residence, or more like flew through its halls. The staff gave Winnowill her space knowing better then to tempt the mistress when she’s angry…and she was more than angry now. She tossed her gloves at her maid as she passed the poor woman and threw her jacket on the floor where it was quickly picked up by a butler. Winnowill passed the closed door to her husband’s office, one Mayor Voll of Two-Moons, without a glance at the large oak entry. He was busy with city business…he was always busy with city business. He was too busy to have dinner, lunch, or even a decent conversation. Mayor Voll was always too busy…and she liked it this way.

Make no mistake or assumption about Winnowill, she loved her husband. She just liked it when he wasn’t so close, so ‘observant’ of her daily activities. At the moment she was neck deep in a very delicate and possibly ruinous problem. Winnowill needed to think, quiet to concentrate, and there was only one place for that to happen here in the spacious and extravagant Mayoral Mansion. So she walked through the foyer and down a hall to a turn which took her right and through another large Oak door. Once inside she turned and shut the door locking the large iron catch keeping the outside world at bay.

She had to think…

She had to analyze…

She had to brood…and the library was the only place to do just that.

The room was two stories, square with warm decorative wood molding everywhere accenting the corners, and with bookcases from floor to ceiling. The only thing separating the towering shelves was a walkway that acted like a second floor accessible by a circular staircase in the West corner. The balcony was just big enough for one person to stand and look at the spines of the rare volumes that lined the bookcases. In the center was a table with two large soft comfortable chairs and Winnowill went immediately to one and sat down. She crossed her legs under her custom made dark blue dress and put her chin in her hand with the arm resting on the chair. Her mind went to unraveling the news of the stargazer’s departure from the jail, and what this meant to her plans.

What this meant to her ‘acquiring’ the Scroll.

She had to have the Scroll of Colors. She needed it to complete ‘things’. So lost in her thoughts of how to get her precious Scroll Winnowill was only aware of her guest when he finally bit into the apple he carried. The loud crack of the skin being punctured by sharp teeth brought her attention up into the balcony. When she saw who stared back Winnowill was far from feeling happy to see him.

“Hello Door.”

“Hey Winnie.”

“I do not like you calling me that.”

“I know,” the elf smiled gleefully, evilly. “It’s why I use it.”

Door, once an ‘acquaintance’ of Winnowill, was thin with his hair cut short and combed back with pomade. He wore a dark red shirt under a black coat with matching chino’s and leather wingtips. You could say at one time she controlled his every thought and being, but then that would be understating the relationship...a lot. There was a certain aspect to the slave master existence that could leave a bitter taste in the slave’s mouth. And you had to be blind to miss, sense, the hatred the elf had for his former ‘master’. It floated on the air like some foul smelling mist.

“I do not remember inviting you into my personal library Door so I think leaving would be advisable before I have the guards throw you in jail for bothering me.” Winnowill offered with a cold hard stare.

The look didn’t faze Door in the least. He just took another bite of his apple while looking around at all the books. He seemed to revel in the fact he was annoying a very dangerous elf before speaking finally.

“This is a real nice book store you got here Winnie-“

“I told you NOT to call me-“

“I wonder where you’re gonna put the Scroll…if you get it.” Door finished ignoring his former ‘master’.

The room plunged into a deep silence, plunged just like Winnowill’s heart. How, in the name of all the High Ones, did Door know about the Scroll of Colors? Her plan was…discreet…very hush-hush. No one, not even that fool Kureel, knew what she wanted with the stargazer or the role the pathetic PI played in all this. No one knew how much of a race this was now…a contest of who could reach the Scroll of Colors first.

“So, that’s why you’re here.”

“Its one of the reasons I stopped by.” Door nodded swallowing another bite of his apple.

“There’s more than one?”

The elf laughed, high pitched and full of poison vindictiveness. The sound echoed off the walls and ceiling making Winnowill wonder if she might have to call for the guards. She would hate having to call on the thick necked men to save her…it was a sign of weakness and she was far from weak.

“Ah, with you Winnie there’s always more than one.” Door sighed catching his breath. “Yet in the end one is all you really ever need, one simple undeniable inducement to watch it all burn.”

“You’re not very original Door, using the Scroll to bring an end to the elves.” Winnowill offered surmising the crazed elf’s intentions.

She couldn’t have been more wrong.

Door turned and walked down the stairs to the first floor and slowly walked over to the chair she sat in. He stood over her, towered over her and glared. “That was your plan black snake…ours is so much different.”

“Ours?” Winnowill whispered.

“The Scroll was stolen by one who was bought and paid for by another. It’s this ‘other’ that has asked me to help find their rightful property.” Door answered.

“And what does this ‘other’ want with the Scroll?”

Door only smiled, that gleeful evil smile and spoke coldly. “In time we will all find out…in due time. I’ll show myself out.””

She didn’t respond, not a word or a sound. Winnowill just sat still and watched as Door leaned down and put the apple core on the table while winking at her. It was the most hateful expression she had ever seen. Door straightened and walked out of the library releasing the large metal latch with a loud ‘chunk’. He left her alone in the quiet of the library with nothing but her thoughts, which were scattered and muddled.

He knew what his little visit would do.

He knew how much she hated being left in the dark.

It was part of his plan, to leave the black snake writhing.

It made him smile just that much more…

jeb

Yay! I was just wondering the other day if there would be more for this story. Glad to have it back, especially with such intriguing developments! I really like the description of the relationship between Door and Winnowill and the interactions between them. As always, the reminiscences of Skywise make me feel so melancholy. Can't wait to read more!

G0lden

Wow great chapter. So, Skywise still has the lodestone and now has a drawing of a dead young lady. Bearclaw is pretty much a thorn in everyboday's side Winnie is up to no good. I wonder if Skywises lodestone has anything to do with Winnie wanting the Scrolls.

Embala

Great! Joining jeb and G0lden!

WolfMoonSky

I so love this stories!!!!!!!! And skywise !!!!!! this was an awsome chapterHappy

somerset1979

Thanks everyone!!!

And welcome to Fallen Angels WolfMoonSky!

WhiteGhost

WoooWoo! You came back! & it's better then ever! :D

somerset1979

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.”

WolfMoonSky

Aww I love this one Wink

somerset1979

Thank you WolfMoonSky!

Embala

Love it, too. There seem to be many fronts ... don't think Cutter will "hide" in the mansion, kooking at all this intrigues uninvolved for long.

G0lden

Love the new chapter. Liked the back story of how Bearclaw got banished. Can't wait for the next chapter.

somerset1979

The next piece of the story is ready. I hope you enjoy.

Skywise makes a call, Cutter talks to a bird, and Bearclaw makes a friend...sort of.


Part Eight – A bite to eat?

He felt tired, weary, and just plain out of gas. Skywise sat on the edge of the bed rubbing his eyes trying to force them open, which usually worked, but not this time. His orbs felt like two large stones resting in gravel pits. It was going to take a lot to get up and moving this morning, and he had no time to waste, not after going dry showing the sketch in all the places you might find a beautiful elf.

And a few you might not want to.

No one at the Mimosa had seen her or remembered her pretty face. The usual suspects at Mike’s and Tommy’s didn’t have a recollection of her stopping in, and with lips like that they would have they laughed. He went to the automat where all the aspiring actresses had lunch hoping to catch the eye of some director or producer or big whig with the Djun studios. No one had seen the elf and none knew her name. Skywise stood up, swaying just a little, while smiling at the memory of the old timers cackling. He sure wished he remembered what happened that night with those lips and all the places they might have touched. All the places he might have touched and ran his hands over. Skywise felt a tug and looked down to notice he hadn’t come to this party alone.

“Well good morning to you too.”

The dingy drapes barely held back the rising sun or morning breeze as Skywise decided it was time to get this train moving. He was still neck deep in some serious dung and the only way out was to find out who the girl was.

He needed a name…he needed to know why she chose him.

The sun rose a little more, a calm breeze blew through the slightly open window, and the P.I. stood contemplating his next move. Since no one in the usual places knew the elf there was only one other way to find her. There was an underbelly to the city, dark alleys and streets few elves ventured. He’d have to dig in spots he’d rather not and these were the kind of spots and places that if you asked the right question to the wrong person you’d end up in a pair of cement shoes…just like Joey Styles.

A horn blared outside as the morning rush hour started up, a cavalcade of cars and pedestrians storming into the city headed toward parking decks all ready full and jobs they really didn’t want to work. Skywise was trying to think and finding it impossible between the noises outside and his perky ‘friend’. He sighed knowing all ready what had to be done, what always had to be done. So, looking like a three armed sword fighter with no one to fight, he hoped into the shower and turned on the cold water letting the shock hit him like a rock. All at once his arousal was gone and his head was clear, like a piece of crystal from the Palace. He shut off the water and stood in the basin just a minute as out of that clarity came a name, the name of one who could help.

It’d be a bad call. The elf might tell him to take a flying leap…but he was the only one who knew the places he needed to go and the people he needed to talk with.

Skywise shook his head tossing his silver mane with a snap sending water everywhere in a spray. It was his only choice he thought stepping out of the shower and dressing in a flash. He slipped his forty-five into the shoulder holster and ran out the door headed for the lobby with a dash. He needed to use the phone at the front desk to make a few calls.

Moe had worked the front desk behind the cage at The Flora motel for the last ten years sitting in his old swivel chair greeting each customer and client with the same short grunt and greased stained t-shirt that bulged with his ample stomach. And during those glorious ten years of servitude to this place he lovingly called a ‘life-sucking bitch’ Moe had heard more than his share of funny, whimsical sayings about the motel while putting on fifty extra pounds. There was ‘why do it on the Flora when you can do it on the bed’, obviously coined by some of the men who hired the working girls outside for an hour at lunch. Then there was the girls response, ‘I’d rather do it on the Flora cause the sheets ain’t been washed.”. Yeah, that one was a real rib tickler, but not the best. No, that trophy went to a pair of young humans, probably not old enough to get drunk, who rented a room for the night with a certain glee just a week or two ago.

“Hey pal, you know what?” The young kid had said as he dropped the usual five on the desk. The boy was at least six foot six and weighed all of 90 pounds wet. A doctor would have had to use a microscope to find a single muscle on him while a mechanic could lube a car with all the grease in his brown hair.

“No kid, what?” Moe grunted taking the five and getting a key for a room off the hook.

“I’m gonna have Dora in the Flora, if you know what I mean!”

“Frankie!” The girl squealed then giggled uncontrollably. Dora had bad pockmarked skin, crooked teeth, and an obvious low standard in men. Moe expected to see her around a lot as time went by.

“Good morning Moe,” a chipper voice called out from the stairs.

The human looked over to see that pest P.I. come strolling up still wet from a shower with a wide smile on his face. Why me this morning Moe thought as he grumbled. “What’s so good about it?”

“Any day above ground Moe,” Skywise winked before reaching into the cage and taking the telephone before Moe could stop him.

“Hey, no long distance calls you hear?” Moe snapped pointing a chubby finger.

“And who would I call long distance?” Skywise smirked.

Moe flopped down in his swivel chair with a plop. “Yeah, you got a point.”

The P.I. smiled putting the phone to his ear before pulling it away with a horrified look pointing to a large sticky brown stain. “Is this steak sauce on the phone?”

Moe just shrugged. “Maybe…why, you hungry or something?”

Skywise shriveled his nose in disgust at Moe’s new low before reaching inside the cage and taking a napkin off the desk. He wiped the whole phone down, top and bottom, before dialing the number he had memorized, the eight numerals burned into his brain. Skywise waited tapping his slender fingers on the rotting wood of the motel cage as the receiver on the other end of the wire rang out shrilly. On the third one someone picked up and the gruff voice on the other end brought back a set of memories Skywise had buried years before.

When the greeting was done he spoke quick and calmly. “It’s me. We need to talk.”

Moe noticed the phone went dead for a second or two, then the gruff voiced said something that didn’t sit well with the P.I. “Listen, I need your help and I’m asking nicely…”

The voice shot something back that Moe couldn’t make out. He saw Skywise’s jaw tighten before answering and figured it didn’t sit well with the elf. “Then I stop asking nicely.”

The lobby got real quiet then, a depth Moe had never experienced before. It was like the outside world just stopped moving at the threat. He licked his lips nervously and then the voice spoke up again and Moe sighed when a horn outside echoed.

“Yeah, normal table at Korilla’s in an hour.”

The voice gave a one word reply then Skywise put the phone down and slid it back inside the cage. “Do yourself a favor Moe and wash that phone before you give someone a disease no one can cure.”

Moe huffed as Skywise walked out the large double doors of the motel. “Who the heck washes a phone?”

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

The noise of someone dropping a shoe woke Cutter and when he looked up after moving the pillow he saw the room and the three elves in it all getting ready. He sat up confused and a little wanting, as in wanting a warm body next to his. “What are you three doing?”

Leetah looked into the mirror of her vanity and spoke while checking her hair. “Don’t you remember, I’m going with Joyleaf to check on Bearclaw then to the studio for some re-takes.”

“No, I don’t remember because you forgot to tell me and now you’re just going to slip out without waking me.” Cutter remarked wiping the sleep from his eyes.

“I think I remember her telling you last night after we went to bed.” Nightfall offered setting her hair under a bush hat. Her green shirt contrasted well with the brown work pants and boots.

“Did we talk after going to bed Redlance?” Cutter asked scratching his head and sliding his feet over the side of the bed.

“Not that I remember,” He commented getting his clothes on.

“Thank you treeshaper!” Cutter exclaimed throwing up his hands.

“We were busy with other things.” Leetah smiled seductively turning away from the mirror.

“I remember that part.” Cutter miffed as Nightfall walked over.

“We’re sorry my chief. We didn’t want to wake you.” She giggled rubbing his shoulder.

“Where are you going?”

“My job at the Zoo,” Nightfall said checking her clothes one last time, “we’re moving some animals today and they need some extra help.”

Cutter huffed more than a little miffed at the idea of being alone. He turned to see the treeshaper dressed and ready to go. “Are the bushes and trees calling for you at the nursery?” He teased.

“Sorry, but there’s a large order for some new housing developments and the Mayor’s pet project downtown that needs my attention. I should be done by this afternoon.” Redlance explained trying to console.

The leader of the elves just shook his head. “No, its okay, you three are too busy.”

“We’ll be back soon my love to keep you warm.” Leetah whispered kissing his forehead.

“Yes we will.” Nightfall smiled kissing his cheek.

“Will you wake me this time?” Cutter snipped.

Redlance smiled then looked at his watch and called out. “Oh, we’re late! I’ll see you tonight my chief!” he yelled running out the door.

Nightfall and Leetah ran out behind him and as the pair walked down the hallway there was one last word from his lifemate. “Have a nice day my love!”

“Don’t worry about me…I’ll find something to do…I mean I waited ten thousand years for you to come back so I should be able to find something to do for one day.”

Then the bedroom was quiet…and still…and quiet. Cutter looked around absently noting his clothes were folded neatly in the chair. An abrupt happy chirp just outside the sliding glass door caught his attention and he turned to see a large blue jay bouncing around on the outside patio.

“Yeah, what’s so good about the morning?”

The bird stopped, looked at him, and chirped twice more.

“What, who am I? Well, I use to be a chief of this tribe called the Wolfriders-“

Chirp…Chirp

“No, really, I was in charge. Everyone listened to me, I was the chief.”

Chirp…Chirp…Chirp

“I led the tribe across the desert to Sorrow’s End and I helped win the war to get the Palace back from the mountain trolls and I brought all the elves together.”

Chirp…Chirp

“What do you mean what have I done lately?”

The bird cocked its head to the side then suddenly flew off as Nonna appeared in the doorway with a bright smile. “I have some coffee on Cutter, would you like a cup?”

“Yes Nonna,” he told his friend before shaking his head, “and if you find my worth lying around just add it in with the sugar.”

“I’ll take a look. Maybe it’s between the cushions on the couch in the den.” Nonna giggled while walking away.

Cutter looked at the door with a sour face. “Not helping Nonna…not helping!”

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

Bearclaw looked down at the bowl of oatmeal and played in it with his spoon. He was on his third wish the gruel would turn into a steak…it wasn’t working. After waking up, and putting on some old gray sweats with a sweat top and an ‘A’ shirt that Cam left for him, Bearclaw had walked through the food line at the mission. Now sitting at a long table with the other less fortunate of the city staring down into the bland bowl of oats he was wishing he had just left well enough alone. He started to try and force a bite down, got the spoon up and an inch from his mouth, when a voice stopped him cold.

“Can I have some more Momma?”

He looked down the table to see a human boy, maybe twelve and far too small for that age, sitting with a human woman and a little girl. The lady looked tired and worn, like she had slept on one of those hard cots in the mission yet not really slept, but still pretty with short black hair and an expression on her face that gave her children hope when there wasn’t much of it to go around. The little girl clutched a blond haired doll fussing with one its ponytails each time after taking a bite of oatmeal. The woman looked to her son and smiled motherly.

“No Sam, we can only go through the line once. Here, you can have mine.”

The little girl gasped abruptly and grabbed her mom’s hand with a quick snatch. “No Momma!”

“It’s all right Lilly, I’m not hungry and Sam is so he can have mine.” The mother smiled patting her daughter’s hand.

“But you haven’t eaten anything Momma, not for at least a day.” Sam the little boy whined looking worried.

“I’ll be fine Sam. I don’t need as much as you. I’m not a growing boy.” The lady smiled pushing her bowl over.

The boy looked down at bowl of oatmeal hungry wanting to devour it, yet he moved as slow as a snail to take it. Something in him suddenly didn’t want to touch a single speck of the gruel. It was the guilt, and every spoonful of the oatmeal would be thick with it, but Sam was hungry and that was stronger than guilt. He took the bowl with about as much enthusiasm as someone grabbing a snake and looked down in it.

“Eat Sam, go on now.” His mother ordered.

The little boy was hesitant to start eating, his hand trembling as he picked up his spoon. Bearclaw looked down into his bowl and it wasn’t hard to decide. He looked over to the young human and spoke up. “Here fella, you can have mine.”

The boy’s eyes lit up as the bowl slid down to him. “Really? Thanks. You can have yours back Momma!”

“Oh no sir,” the lady started to protest with a raised hand, “I can’t let you go hungry.”

“Ma’am, letting your boy eat my oatmeal is doing me a favor.” Bearclaw smiled.

Lilly laughed and the lady smiled taking her bowl back. She was fighting back tears Bearclaw could see as the little girl let her curiosity take over. “Are you an elf?”

“I didn’t buy these on the street.” Bearclaw answered pointing to his ears.

The girl giggled taking another bite of her oatmeal. The lady finally took a bite of hers and it made the old wolf feel better to see it. He was watching her intently for some reason, he wasn’t sure why, when the boy asked a question with a mouthful of food.

“I thought all the elves lived up on the hill in that big old house.”

“Most of them do.”

“Then why don’t you?” Sam asked quickly in the way all children do.

“Sam, don’t be impolite.” His mother ordered.

Bearclaw shrugged his shoulders and put his hands in the pockets of the gray sweatshirt. “I like it here in the city, more things to do.”

“Momma use to work for the studios, but then they fried her.” The girl said in a child’s matter of fact way fussing with the ponytail more.

“Lilly, he doesn’t want to hear about us or our problems.” The lady told her daughter, a tinge of red on her cheeks now from embarrassment.

“And its ‘fired’, not ‘fried’.” Sam teased causing Lilly to stick out her tongue at him.

“Sam, eat!” The lady ordered with a tone that said try me, just once.

I’ve been there Bearclaw thought, tossed out like trash feeling like no one wanted or needed you anymore. His hand brushed a folded piece of paper and he remembered the twenty dollars Cam gave him. It was from some heavy who was looking for him the street preacher explained, a real mean looking dude with a meaner look. Use it to get away Cam had whispered, use it to get somewhere safe and clear of all this mess with the TMPD, but there was no way that was going to work the old wolf thought. It seemed trouble always found him, no matter how deep the den he hid in.

He stood up and handed the twenty dollars over to the lady. She held up her hand a second time shaking her head. “No sir, I don’t want to take your-.”

“Go down to 5th and Elm, there on the corner is a restaurant run by a nice elf named Korilla. She’s probably got some job you can do for money, just tell her Bearclaw sent you.” He said cutting off her objections.

“No, I can’t take-“She started again, but the old wolf just cut her off again.

“Use the twenty at the motel across the street to get a room. It’s run by a nice old couple who can look after the little ones while you work. Do Not say my name there or you might get slapped.” Bearclaw smiled putting the money in her hand.

Those tears the lady was holding back started to come, slow at first as she stammered trying to get her words together. “I…don’t know what…why?”

“Don’t ask why, just do. Sometimes in life you take what you’re given and thank the stars at night when they come out.” Bearclaw grinned taking his hand back.

The lady only nodded putting a hand over her mouth. Bearclaw turned and started for the doors of the mission ready to get out of this place. He took a few steps when the boy called out for him. “Will we see you again Mr. Bearclaw?”

The old wolf just smiled. “Maybe, I’m all over the place these days.”

The boy smiled and waved, which Bearclaw returned with his own, before he left out into the day. The morning sun was bright and warm, but not enough to walk around in just an ‘A’ shirt so Bearclaw pulled up the zipper on the hooded sweat top and began to walk down the street thinking he was broke and hungry once again. He started to cross the street with some other pedestrians thinking he might see if the motel he was staying at had any of his stuff. The chance they saved something was slim, but they might have. Bearclaw reached the other side thinking his old friend Bobby at the diner might let him sleep in the back store room for a night or two till he found a more ‘accpeting’ place, which was getting harder to find every time he got tossed. He didn’t want to stay at Cam’s again, not if the-

“Morning Mr. Bearclaw.”

The greeting stopped him cold and when Bearclaw caught site of who said it he felt the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. There were four men by a black Cadillac, two really large leg breakers by the front and two semi-mean looking humans by the back. They were standing outside the car, leaning up against it waiting for him, just standing and waiting.

“It is Mr. Bearclaw, right?” The one who looked like he was in charge asked. He was dressed in a nice suit, handmade, while the other three looked like their clothes come out of a shop somewhere and screamed underling.

“Who’s asking?”

“My name’s Djun, Angrif Djun.” The one with the handmade suit answered with a smile that had all the warmth of an ice cube.

“Djun, as in Grohmul Djun, the man who runs the Studios and bathes in a gold tub full of money.” Bearclaw asked back with a little poke to see what the humans would do.

Angrif just smiled though and blinked. “Oh, that’s just a lie someone started. He only sleeps on a mound of money.”

“Uh-huh, and why does such an important person as your father want to know who I am?

“My father would like to invite you to lunch, talk about your fight days.” Angrif explained still smooth as glass and cold as ice.

Bearclaw looked to the two leg breakers at the front of the car then back to the younger Djun. “Talk about my fight days huh?”

“Oh yeah, he’s a real fan of yours, saw you fight professionally…and in the pits. My father’s a real blood and guts kind of guy.”

“Uh-huh…and what if I have plans all ready?”

“The trunk’s not as comfortable to ride in.” The other semi-mean looking human stated rather proudly. He looked like the heavy Cam described that dropped by looking for him last night.

The younger Djun looked over to his cohort and ordered him quiet like any good dog handler will when a mutt gets out of hand. “Carl, no need for the trunk, right Mr. Bearclaw?”

“I’m not convinced you four could put me in that trunk Angrif and the hospital down here in the slums isn’t as clean as the ones your use to.” Bearclaw stated with his own cold icy stare. The threat was more like a promise coming from the old wolf.

The two leg breakers started to walk forward, but then the younger Djun held up his hand and stopped them. He opened the door to the Cadillac while talking. “I know you have no plans and no place to go Mr. Bearclaw. You might as well get a bite to eat, my dad puts out a real nice spread.”

The open door…looked like a trap…felt like a trap. So why Bearclaw climbed in was anyone’s guess, maybe he was hungry. Maybe he just wanted to see what all the fuss was over him? If he had looked up he would have seen a sedan pull up to the doors of the mission and two pretty elves step out.

Joyleaf had an excited smile on her face for some reason.

WhiteGhost

oh Bearclaws gonna be pissed he missed his girl! XD

WolfMoonSky

Loved this chapter!!!!!Hug

Embala

Liked what I've read once more!

G0lden

Great chapter. Love Skywises' little friend, well done. Bearclaw is gonna wish he stayed at Cams'. He'll miss Joyleaf and Leetah. Can't wait for the next chapter.

jeb

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.)

stargazer

I'm really enjoying this story!

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.

stargazer

The plot thickens! Thumbs_up This is a very cool story!

G0lden

Ohhh, love the new chapter. The plot does indeed thicken Winnie is up to her usual not good ways with outside help. Skywise got help from Icetooth (imagine that). Now the Djun think Bearclaw is going to help him make a movie and the son wants to take over. Hmmmmmm, sound interesting and fairly familiar to me. Can't wait for the next chapter.

WolfMoonSky

Awsome chapter!! the story gets better and better!!Yay

Embala

Agreeing with the others - this thickens. Icetooth's appearance makes me think my first wild guess about the murdered girl's idendity isn't so unlikely at all ... still a wild guess, tho Wink

... wonders why Icetooth hates Skywise ...

somerset1979

New Chapter...

Bearclaw makes a call and Mender gets into hot water...


Part Ten – Old Friends and New Enemies

He lost the tail, a pretty easy thing to do considering who it was. It was Angrif’s leg breaker, the one from the passenger seat, and Bearclaw escaped him with just a few twists and dodging on-coming traffic while crossing a busy street twice. After leaving the mansion he had the pair of Angrif’s crew drop him off at the corner of a street far away from Cam’s hopefully leaving the street preacher out of whatever it was he was in the middle of now. As the black sedan rolled away in one direction Bearclaw went the other heading east into town…two minutes later he looked over his shoulder to see the new shadow just behind in the crowd. Now, free of his shadow, Bearclaw needed to make a call. He stopped on the main boulevard in town, the one where the actors for the studios got their names engraved into large gold stars that were placed into the sidewalk every few steps. You could walk all along the strip and see them, some day Leetah would have her name on one of those gold stars Bearclaw thought spotting a pay phone. It was a status thing, something to throw around at dull parties, and something Leetah could care less about he thought walking over to the phone.

When he stopped by the phone and reached for a pocket that wasn’t there was when Bearclaw remembered he wasn’t wearing his old chinos. Cam had given him a pair of sweats to wear when he was brought in from the jail, a pair of sweats with no pockets and thus no change. He grumbled a bit at not having a damn dime to call his friend while looking around on the ground and phone for anything. All he got were cigarette butts, old dried gum, and few promising phone numbers for girls who go all the way on a first date. Bearclaw gave the phone stand a small kick and a curse knowing full well it didn’t help, but it sure felt good. He turned to look down the street wondering if he might be able to borrow the phone in some establishment, maybe do a little begging, but he didn’t see anything promising.

“Well…you’re a sight for sore eyes.”

The voice, its silky and husky vibrations, was like being thrown back into the past. Bearclaw knew who it was before he turned to see Khavi standing just a few steps away. The crowd parted to pass around her like she was nothing but a pole in the way, but Bearclaw knew everyone one of them took note of her. She was still drop-dead gorgeous tucked into a pair slacks and blouse that showed of her best ‘assets’. It may have been out of place to see a lady wearing slacks, but it would have been even more out of place for Khavi to be strutting around in a dress. One human took notice of her ‘walk’ as she ambled over to him, her dark hair primped high matching the latest style the ladies wore these days. She was dressed to the nines, ready to dine on your dime if you gave her the chance, and show you enough ‘fun’ it just might kill you.

“What’s a matter Bearclaw, cat got your tongue?” Kahvi smiled in that way that made you wonder just what the hell she was thinking.

“Nah,” he replied smiling back with his usual crooked grin, “I was just wondering what brings you back to town.”

“I finished looking around, came back for some fun, and look who I run into.”

That was Kahvi, never one to stay in one place too long. Even when they were all on the Palace, all the elves looking for a home, she didn’t seem to care. Whatever struck her mood, whatever grabbed her eye in that moment that was what Kahvi wanted to do, and you had better let her do it. When they landed back on Two-Moons and the High Ones, or the Elders now, decreed they would build the compound and live away from the humans Kahvi led the dissension against the decision. She wasn’t about to live in a mansion stuck behind closed doors sealed off from the world again like she was all those years they were in the Palace before coming back. No sir, she was going to see what this new Abode was all about. It took Hayken and his crew about ten minutes less time to outcast her then it did him.

“So that’s why I have this sudden need to lock up my wallet…and my cub.”

“Now you know I’m all done with Cutter…you on the other hand…” Kahvi purred so seductively Bearclaw felt it, like leaning up against a car motor.

“I’m not that fun to be around right now sweetheart, more like a weight.” He answered giving her the gentle, but definite brush off.

Kahvi leaned in a little closer and Bearclaw felt her breath on his neck. “Maybe later then, when the weight’s off and you feel up to it.”

Then something was being pressed into his hand as she kissed him dead on the lips. She was wearing a strong perfume, a scent that left him a little woozy as Bearclaw kept perfectly still letting Kahvi run to wherever she was going. He didn’t stop as she finished the kiss, his lips sticking to hers for just a brief moment before leaning away with that smile. For a second, just a blink, he could see Two-Spear standing there, and he knew why he never felt safe around the wild elf. Bearclaw watched her turn and walk down the street drawing the eyes of everyone and he knew she was enjoying every step. He looked down into his hand to see what Kahvi put there and just shook his head. A shiny dime twinkled back as he whispered.

“Too much like your father cub…so much it’s spooky…aw damn!”

Bearclaw turned around to the pay phone clutching the dime and trying to get the smell of Kahvi’s perfume out of his head. It might have taken awhile to get that sweet smell out of his nostrils, but after he saw the man standing at the phone now using it, well it didn’t take long for the scent to up and disappear. Maybe it was the look in his eyes, or the way he was standing with clenched fists, or just the growling that upset the human because he took one look at Bearclaw and hung up on the poor person he was talking too. As he beat it out of the general area the old wolf slipped the dime into the phone and told the operator with the nasally voice what number he wanted. The phone went silent then started ringing and after three squeals someone picked up.

“This is Joe. It’s your dime so speak up.”

A smile crossed the old wolf’s face as he felt the anger at not having a dime and then some twit using the phone fade away. “Hey Joe, how much would it cost for you to stand in my corner one more time?”

The phone was silent for a moment and Bearclaw could almost picture the face of the human on the other end, the smile growing there. “A hell-of-a-lot more then you can afford you hump!” The voice responded making Bearclaw laugh a little.

That was Joe or Joseph if you had the spine to call him that. He was the best damn cut man in the city. Every fight, every legitimate one, Bearclaw had him there just in case some lucky punch opened up a cut. Joe’s fingers could work magic with a needle and some thread, stitches so close and small there was a guarantee of no scar, hands almost as good as a real doctor. What few knew though were those hands also did the best safe cracking of anyone in the city. There wasn’t a lock Joe couldn’t pick, a tumbler on a combination wheel he didn’t feel fall, and no safety deposit box strong enough to put your valuables in. Joe was the last of the gentlemen bandits, never hurt anyone in any of his capers and never robbed someone who didn’t deserve it, which is why Bearclaw trusted him with his life.

“Damn straight on that one, listen…I need the box.”

The phone was silent again and Bearclaw could picture that smile turning into a thin line. “Why do you want the box? You looking to dig up the past or something Bear?”

“No, I’d leave the past right where it is if I had a choice…you know that.”

“Yeah…so whose asking about Two-Spear?”

Joe was pretty damn quick too, smarter than he looked. “Someone high up, rather leave his name out of this for your sake.”

“Must be someone pretty big to make you run for the box,” Joe countered.

“I’m more worried about what he was asking than what he can do. Can you meet me at the same spot downtown?”

The phone went silent one last time and Bearclaw wasn’t sure why but he had a good guess. “Down by Trolltown?”

“Yeah, on 5th, we’ll be safe.”

“The Trolls own 5th now Bear…” Joe replied dead panned.

“They do?” Bearclaw asked in shock.

“Yeah, and 6th and 7th too. The big green machine has a new motto…expand or die trying.”

“Good motto.” Bearclaw whistled looking around wondering who was running the show down in Trolltown these days, must be a mean SOB to take on the humans.

“I’ll meet you at the old spot at 4 with the box. I leave before it gets dark, understand? My mother didn’t raise a fool.” Joe offered.

Bearclaw laughed again. “I got you, see you there Joe.”

“See you Bear.”

He started to hang up the phone when suddenly the old wolf was speaking. “Hey Joe?”

“Yeah Bear,” the old cut man responded after a moment of silence.

“Thanks.”

“Same old Bearclaw,” Joe laughed hanging up the phone.

With the phone dead Bearclaw smiled a little larger and hung up receiver. He turned and started walking down the street with the crowd whistling a little tune. He’d get the letter and get rid of it before the Djun’s got their hands on it.

Two-Spear was no hero…and he wasn’t about to let someone make him into one.

!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!

“Is the daughter of the leader of the elves chicken?”

Ember’s eyes closed to slits as her brow furrowed with anger…or at least that’s what she wanted everyone at the table to think. “Always waiting for someone else to do the dirty work…guess you don’t want to mess up your hair.”

Teir and Dart laughed as did Mender once he knew his mate wasn’t upset. The group sat at a table at Korilla’s for lunch getting one of her famous burgers and fries. No one was sure why her food seemed to taste so much better than the other diners in town. The main dishes were even better than some of the spiffy restaurants that the ‘Rich and Famous’ visited. Some people said she used an ancient kind of Elvin magic to make the food taste better, a bitter rumor started by some of the chefs and owners of those spiffy restaurants Ember thought. She knew better this former chieftess, knew the real magic behind Korilla’s food was simply love. The Wavedancer lived to feed others, she did it for her tribe back at Crest Point, and she was doing it now for the city. The kitchen was Korilla’s home and her food her love to everyone.

“I’m a healer little Ember, fighting is below me.” Mender shot back mockingly acting like a certain elder that all knew.

“You know if Hayken ever catches you doing that he’s going to have you cast out.” Teir stated pointing his finger.

Mender though just waved him off. “Bah, I’m as much afraid of Hayken as I am of those Trolls.” The golden haired healer responded with a nod toward the counter.

There, standing by the cash register waiting for a box filled with sacks and sacks of food, was an old ‘friend’ of the elves…and yet so very different. This Troll was slimmer and taller and all around meaner looking than the ones who were left behind. He stood six foot two or three, chest muscles that his dark coat and black shirt could never hide rippled as he breathed, and rings sporting large gems of all colors sat on fingers that looked big enough to wrap around a human’s or elf’s head easily. His chino’s were handmade to fit around legs that could have passed as tree trunks and his feet were covered in patent leather wingtips that looked grotesquely large. Gone was the grey tint to the Troll’s skin too, a more greenish hue now that he probably didn’t venture underground to dig daily in a mine.

“The days of Picknose and his group are long gone Mender and the sooner you realize that the better.” Dart whispered watching the Troll carefully.

It was no secret the healer held little love for the Trolls and he had no problem stating it either, even using a nickname. “Don’t tell me you scared of the greenies too?”

“No, I’m not scared of these Trolls…I just respect them.” Dart answered putting a fry in his mouth.

“All right, I’ll give you the Trolls we left behind can’t be compared to Picknose and his group, but a troll is a troll is a troll, be it green or grey.”

When the elves took to the Palace and left the word of Two-Moons in search of ‘Home’ so long ago they had taken Picknose and some of his Trolls with them, but there were just as many who decide to stay on the Abode. They didn’t want to ride in the Palace again, ever. Once free of a life of serving the elves these Trolls had no intention of going back to one, ever. All the elves, from Timmain to Leetah to Kahvi to Skywise, thought they would never see them again but after the Palace landed for the last time, after the elves were greeted by just the humans, that’s when these Trolls came to visit…to stake their claim to this world. Timmain didn’t recognize a single one, Cutter felt a tinge of fear at the sight of them, and the others were ordered to give them distance. The years away had changed these Trolls, forced them to grow and adapt to a new world above ground, and given them a will no one knew existed.

“You can’t truss up this Troll Mender like you did old Picky. I don’t even think you would have a chance.” Teir said shaking his head.

“Bah, you pay for lunch while I see how tough these Trolls are!” Mender smiled jumping out of the booth and running for the door.

“Wait you idiot!” Ember yelped following her mate for the door trying to catch.

The Troll paid for the large box of food, put it under one arm, and started for the door. He passed Dart and Teir, both elves stepping to the side to let him pass, and as he did he shot them both a look with steel grey eyes that said they made the right choice. As Dart scrambled to get the money for lunch out of his pocket Teir walked to the door and watched the Troll approach a large black car.

“What’s going on?” Dart asked nervously.

“I don’t see Mender or Ember.” Teir answered.

As he watched and Dart paid the Troll opened the door to t he large black car and leaned in putting the box with the sacks of food inside. Teir should have seen it coming and not been shocked at what Mender was doing. The elf had a rash side which when around Ember seemed to just get bigger and bigger. He saw Mender walk up, yell something that he couldn’t make out, and hit the car with his hand. When the Troll stood back up that look on his face, the one Teir had stepped aside for looked worse. The Troll didn’t say a word, just stared at the crazy elf who hit the car again while yelling.

“Hurry up Dart!” Teir called.

Suddenly Ember appeared, the voice of responsibility for a change, grabbing Mender and trying to pull him back. It might have worked as the Troll didn’t move and the healer started to walk backwards. Teir breathed a small sigh of relief, but then the trap slammed shut. A second Troll came from somewhere, maybe the coffee shop down the street, and stuck a large pistol in Ember’s back forcing her back toward the car. That sighs of relief hung in Teir’s throat as he turned and tried to call for Dart, who had just finished paying the tab.

“They’re in trouble!”

Before Dart had a chance to finish paying…

Before Teir could turn and run out the door…

Ember and Mender and the Trolls were gone in a loud screech of loud tires.

lunakat

awesome! i hope ember's okay... though mender may deserve what he gets. So... are the troll's behind the dead body in the tub, then? This story is really fun to read.

WolfMoonSky

YAY!! new chapie!! Awesome!!Yay

jeb

Hmmm, a new puzzle. What's in the box? Something that will make Two-Spear a hero...hmmm.

Great to see Kahvi, she's always been on of my favorite characters, glad to see she's still got the same fire.

Mender still seems the same too, unfortunately. Nuh_uh

Embala

I love the interlude with Bearclaw and Kahvi!

When has Mender lost his wits completely? Healers obviously tend to go mad when underemployed.

G0lden

Wow, that was a great chapter. I wonder what Bearclaw is really up to. Kahvi you never know what she is up to. What is going on with Ember and Mender.

Can't wait for the next chapter.

Embala

ooochhh Unhappy ... hoped for a new chapter ...

Embala

Kick him! ... but gently Smile

lunakat

Thanks for the kick to Somerset, WiseShaman. This story is awesome! And the plots are finally turning. "The Hole in the Wall".. i love it! Yeah, that sounds like a place for trolls. (I'd say I can't wait to see what happens next, except... I know that will probably be the case! Oy.) I really want to see Cutter spring into action. It seems like that might be coming.

jeb

Yay! Go, Cutter! Take some names and kick some butt!

lunakat

For sure, Jeb- but will he? And where will he? Interesting set up. I wonder what would happen if Cutter had to choose between Skywise and Ember?

Yo- WiseShaman! Go kick Sommerset again! I don't want to have to wait so long for the next chapter!

lunakat

Oh- this just made my christmas super awesome! Thanks Wiseshaman! Smile

G0lden

Wow, I haven't seen this for awhile and I got all caught up. Get chapter, can't wait for the next one.

WolfMoonSky

Love the new chapter and I can't wait for the next one!

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.

G0lden

Oh wow. Winnowill is even more cunning than before and Rayek just brings her down several notches each time.



Love the near brawl in One-Eye and Treestumps car. joyleaf and Leetah certainly know how to get under One-Eye and Treestumps skin.



Cutter shooting a place up now that is priceless. It was nice to see Bearclaw there to help, when it probably wasn't his intention to begin with.



Then to see how Treestump and company followed Cutter and Bearclaw. This getting interesting.



Love the new chapter. Can't wait for the next one.

lunakat

Seeing Bearclaw and Cutter team up like this was great! I like knowing Cutter's aggressive side is still there- that he doesn't just sit back in his estate and make executive decisions. He should always be some kind of an action here! And I love the scene of them tossing the body in the car, with the other elves all watching in shock. Right on, Treestump!


Now... what's going to happen with Ember, Tier and Skywise?

Nice Winnowil/Rayek scene btw. Clearly they are both up to something. You know.. I like how all these references are thrown in to events that happened in the EQ timeline- as if this takes place in the same universe... even tho that's fundamentally impossible (seeing as how dead characters are alive and such)-- but it's still quite fun!

WolfMoonSky

Loved this chapter!!

G0lden

Oh wow. Cutter and Bearclaw blew a Troll's cover? Now that is sad, but so funny.



Love the interaction between Ember, Mender, Skywise and the Trolls. That was simply too funny.



Love the chapter, Can't wait for the next one.

lunakat

Yay! Another chapter!



Well... the trolls are cross between really scary (kidnappings, black hood, bloodstains on the floor) and pretty comical (Mender in a burlesque show? 'Ella...?')



I guess Skywise is pretty lucky- because it seems that between Ember and Mender, the trolls have all the leverage they really need to squeeze some cash out of Cutter...



But maybe Cutter will pull off an amazing rescue or three! Can't wait to find out! (Please don't wait so long before updating this time... please please? We're all in suspense here! It's hardboiled noir, after all! Wink )

jeb

Wahoo! Just love badass Cutter busting up the bar, and the testosterone battle between Cutter and Bearclaw!

Skywise is just perfect as the smooth-talking gumshoe trying to bluff his way out of the sticky situation.

Two little nitpicks: Once you refer to New Moon as New Star. And when Skywise is talking to Ironbar he says both offers were to kill him.

Can't wait to see what will happen next.

WolfMoonSky

...I though I already commented on the new chapter (cause I had readed it..)

I can only agree G0lden, lunakat and jeb! Can't wait to see the next chapter!!

G0lden

Poor Bite, he was getting it coming and going. Love how he finally gave the information almost willingly.



At least they have an idea where Ember is, but who now is exactly going to go to find her?



Great chapter. Can't wait for the next one.

WiseShaman

WHOA!!!

I almost forgot about this one...man, guess I got some updating to do huh?

Which one first though? Which story?

Embala

...man, guess I got some updating to do huh?
Indeed! Smile

Which one first though? Which story?
The one that calls you most.

lunakat

I vote this one!

G0lden

I forgot about this one a well. Love it as well. Can't wait to see an update.

lunakat

Yay

This is cool! Cool in that 'not even trying- it's just a state of mind' kind of way. I love seeing Cutter and Bearclaw kick bad-guy behind tog! I love how you describe Cutter looking to his father for guidance. It's gonna be a shock, I bet, for Cutter to discover that the troll's don't just have Ember. I wonder how that's going to play out? I guess Timmain got the memo instead. Can't wait to see if her 'fangs' come out.

And how about the corrupt police department that doesn't investigate the trollish den of iniquity? The whole story is just perfectly noir. And funny! (The Shaft? Right.) Love it, love it, love it.

Thanks for the new chapter! It's way good to have you back, WS!

Embala

O.o ... I.Need.To.Catch.Up.!

jeb

Yeah

G0lden

Oh, love the idea of Timmain doing damage control.



I feel bad for Cutter, Bearclaw is a rascal as usual.



Love the chapter ca't wait for the next one.

WiseShaman

Wow, thanks for the great words Luna, a great comment from a great artist like you makes me proud...

No worries Embala, you got plenty of time to catch up...

I'm happy your enjoying the ride jeb and G0lden, it only gets better with each chapter...


Now for the new chapter, where Cutter and Bearclaw finally meet Ironbar, and oh what a meeting it is...


Chapter 17 – To many chefs in the kitchen…

A wise man once said he didn’t fear death; he just didn’t want to be there when it happened, which is pretty deep for a dirty homeless man sitting on the corner offering enlightenment for the spare change rattling around in the dark of your pants pocket or purse. Yet, that’s the way of this world, gems and nuggets hidden in places you didn’t really want to look.

Skywise sat at Ironbar’s private table in the back of the Palace on a raised section so the king could oversee his empire of debauchery easily. The Massive Troll sat to his left and smiled with pure evil enjoyment as that old bum’s words kept singing in the PI’s head, which was a feat since the music in the club drowned out anything and everything else in the place. At the moment it was a little raucous number played by a mix of Trolls and Humans from a special loft stage built on decorative poles right above the bar. The six person band was horns and drums and seemed to play only loud rough music which literally rained down on the patrons and dancers’ hurting ears and delicate sensibilities alike. He watched with Ember sitting next to him as Mender struggled to keep what dignity he had to himself, and that oversized burlesque costume on, as every Troll laughed and screamed and hooted with glee. The PI noted the elf didn’t give up the top after the first song and that was going to hurt his earning potential, if you wanted to make money taking your clothes off then you had to tease and give the boys a taste. The trick though was to not give it up all at once, just a bit here and a little more there…and then for the big finale it was the whole thing…sort of speaking.

The music came to a merciful end as Skywise hoped it wouldn’t come to the big finale. He wasn’t interested in seeing a naked elf dancing on the main stage, well, at least not Mender. “Tell the band to play it again Drill Bit, and tell Sludge that human at table 12 hasn’t tipped our cone yet.”

“Yes sir boss,” The Troll behind Ironbar nodded and walked away. Skywise bit down on his lip as the music started up again, maybe the pain from somewhere else on his body would cancel out the pain in his head. He didn’t get to test out the theory though as Ember started sending to him.

What are we going to do?

The PI watched as a Troll dressed in a suit that stretched to its limit to fit his burly body marched over and with no ceremony or word of warning grabbed the human at table 12 by the back of his neck. The poor man barely had time to think before he was on his feet being propelled forward like a puppet right into the main stage with a crash. Skywise saw the human turn, look into the Trolls large tusk filled face as it simply pointed toward the semi-dancing elf, and then slowly turn and drop a dollar at Mender’s feet.

You got change to tip Mender? I’m a little short of cash right now He responded flatly, detached from the whole situation.

Are you serious? Ember spat giving his leg a kick. We have to do something to get out of here!

He sighed keeping his head watching the spectacle playing out on the main stage. No need to tip the big green trolls to the fact you’re talking freely in each other’s head. Someone had successfully pulled the top away from Mender and was now going for the bottoms as the elf tried to scamper away. And how do we run past all the Trolls, who by the way are armed with guns? This isn’t the Holt Ember and that’s not Picknose who we could dupe with a whim sitting next to me. These Trolls have no problem shooting someone and grinding up the body in the back.

The thought of a body being disposed of in that manner must have shocked Ember just a touch as she quieted down. From the corner of his eye Skywise saw a new troll walk up and whisper in Ironbar’s ear a bit of news that made him grin like the cat that just ate the canary. His tusk jutted out a little further as he nodded and the new troll went walking off. What’s this twist Skywise asked himself as Ironbar looked over to him. “Do you think we made the cone suffer enough for the indignity he caused my Della?”

“I’m wondering how you know the meaning of the word indignity,” Skywise replied with a smile as he turned to look at Ironbar before adding. “You must have a dictionary stuffed somewhere in your coat cause I know you didn’t go to school.”

Everyone, and don’t believe them when they say they haven’t, has had that moment when you know you went too far with something. You know the one where the sign screaming out telling you to stop and save yourself the pain and humiliation just flies by as you ignore it and race right to putting your foot into a big pile of…well, you know the one. Skywise figured over the past few years he had ignored a lot of those warning signs, more than he could count really, but this one just might be the most painful one he had ever zipped by. The trolls around them started to glare, real mean dark looks of anger, yet not a one matched the snarl forming on Ironbar’s face. Gone was the sly smile as his mouth went to a straight flat line as the troll called Bit behind them growled.

“I know you’re not callin’ the boss stupid, are you cone.”

Ember at his side swallowed hard enough for everyone to hear as the troll’s hand slid in beneath his jacket. Skywise only stared as he went over what was going to pop out, a gun wasn’t the likely choice, he was worth more alive than dead. Nah, it was going to be a sap probably and that small leather sack filled with lead was going to hurt real bad when he got hit with it. Then Ironbar raised his hand and leaned back in his chair stopping his troll’s movement. That smile, the one where he ate the bird, yeah…it was back again as he chuckled.

“No need Bit, I’m sure the next few minutes will be painful enough for the PI here to shut that mouth of his for a while.”

Now Skywise was really thinking, what did that mean? Then the music stopped again abruptly and he almost gave a little praise to the High Ones for stopping the headache when the awful tune was replaced by loud screaming, an angry whiny voice of someone really upset. The PI turned his head to see a new Troll come running out of a side door, a well hidden one, and storm to the middle of the floor. He was holding a bag of ice to his face with one hand as he looked around and when he spotted Ironbar he made a bee line right for his table, the whole muttering under his breath about the two damn cones that had beat on him. He didn’t make the table, one of his brother green beast stopping him short with upheld hands.

“I want my respect back Ironbar! I demand my satisfaction!” The troll yelled from behind the bag of ice, his face bruised Skywise could see now.

What in the name of Ti-then two more bodies entered the room from the same well hidden entrance and Skywise’s question just hung in his brain. Oh yeah, this was going to painful. Ember next to him perked up and whispered ‘Father!’ as soon as she saw him. It was Cutter, dressed as dapper as he always did these days and next to him was…Bearclaw? Dressed in some old sweats? Mender on stage called out to Cutter to get him out of here as another Troll dropped a bill by his feet.

“Are you telling me those two cones beat you down Bite?” Ironbar called out with a laugh.

The trolls with Cutter and Bearclaw pointed toward them the back table and Skywise.


#####*****#####*****#####



“Is that…Mender?” Cutter asked looking up at the stage with surprise and a little shock.

“Help ME!” The healer screamed.

Bearclaw nodded with one eyebrow cocked high as he watched the stage. “Where are his clothes?”

“The cone hit Della and she’s Ironbar’s favorite so he got to dance on stage as puishment.” The Troll answered behind them.

“Who’s Della?” Cutter asked with eyes locked to Mender. As hard as he tried Cutter just couldn’t look away at the spectacle.

“The boss’s Caddy…touch it in a way he doesn’t like and you end up in the back room.” The other Troll answered with a laugh.

That’s not the only surprise cub, look up there. Bearclaw sent to his cub giving his head a small nod toward the back.

Cutter turned to look at the back table and instantly noticed his daughter sitting next to his brother in all but blood, quite the surprise indeed, though if he were Cutter never showed it. His eyes squinted as he took note of all the green standing around the room, and all of them surely carrying guns. Are you ready to fight our way out here?

His father, the wildest and most fearless of all the Wolfrider chiefs only smiled and replied quietly with his own send. You forget who you’re talking to? Just get Ember and the stargazer out of here when it all comes to a head.

There was no reply, none was needed. Cutter turned and started walking toward the table, striding with a single minded destructive purpose was more like it. He never faltered or looked back as he crossed the distance to the back table, not even slowing when the Troll who stopped Bite stepped in to stop him. Nope, he just dropped him with one punch to the throat causing the green beast to fall back onto the stairs. He heard someone scream from behind then get cut off suddenly, probably his sire laying one of the Trolls out flat with an elbow. It’s what he would have done Cutter thought as he jumped forward slamming his foot down on the Trolls face as he gasped for breath. A second Troll moved forward trying to pull his gun out from under his coat, but the leader of the elves was just faster, a blur of movement. Before Bit could get his 45 free Cutter kicked him hard enough between the legs to make him jump a good ten inches off the floor. As the world spun and his brain exploded with pain Bit dropped to the ground while Cutter stepped past him. New Moon was out in a flash as well, the hammer dropping back with a loud click, as he put it right up against Ironbar’s head, right at the temple.

A cacophony of loud clicks and pops echoed in the Palace as every Troll still standing brought out their guns and pointed them right at Cutter. It was just like those gangster movies scripts Leetah got every once in a while, the gritty suspense filled part where the good guy and the bad guy had the stare down to see who’d blink fist. Only this wasn’t a movie and Cutter was pretty sure this wasn’t going to end with the good guy walking away without a scratch.

“Well, I guess talking nice isn’t gonna happen, huh?” Ironbar asked with a smile that screamed he was calm and cool with it all.

His cage doesn’t get rattled easily the leader of the elves thought pressing New Moon a little harder against the Troll’s head. “I’m taking my cub and my two tribesmen out of here or I’m going to blow your head off.” Cutter growled with every ounce of mean his voice could muster.

Don’t worry Fahr, I’m taking you out of here. Cutter sent to his brother in al but blood.

You might be over your head with this one Tam…way over both our heads. Skywise sent back.

When it all started, even before Cutter started beating the Trolls like drums, Ember had grabbed Skywise’s hand and started to squeeze. Now, with her father staring down Ironbar, she was just about ready to break the PI’s appendage. Skywise didn’t try to pull it away knowing full well a false move at this juncture of the ‘Negotiations’ could get them all killed. He was a little taken back though when Ironbar turned and looked at him with a wicked smile.

“What do you think PI, should I let him leave with all of you?”

“I’m pretty sure Cutter’s gonna shoot you if you try and stop us.” Skywise said flatly.

“Of that I have no doubt,” Ironbar spoke while turning his head to look Cutter in the eyes, “but just how much is he willing to give up for that chance?”

Before he could ask just what was going on Cutter heard more screaming and then from the same hidden door they walked out of more Trolls showed up dragging the rest of his fellow elves. Leetah and Joyleaf each pushed back as hard as they got, but it didn’t bother the Trolls who did the pushing much, and when it came to Treestump and One-Eye…they knew better to poke the bear in the cage you could say. They just tried to keep the lifebearers from getting hit.

You brought your mother and Leetah along? Skywise yelped in his send.

I wasn’t given much of a choice…Cutter shot back as he looked down into Ironbar’s eyes with a cold glare as the Troll just smiled and spoke.

“That’s a very nice 45…get it out of my face or I’ll have my boys start hurting your people down there.”

Cutter pulled New Moon slowly away from Ironbar’s head as he had to make a decision that left a really bad taste in his mouth. He breathed deep as the Troll just shook his head. “I got nothing against you Cone. Truth be told I respect you, coming in here ready to shoot it out for your daughter here and her friend. You just got blindsided is all, happens to us all every now and then.”

“What do you want for my cub and her mate?”

“Oh you can have them back, consider the debt paid in full as soon as the elf leaves all the money he got for his dance with Sludge.”

Cutter looked down at the stage where the large Troll was all ready taking all the bills away from Mender then back to Ironbar, “and Skywise, what about him?”

The leader of the Green Machine shook his head. “The PI stays here…but you got other things to worry about leader of the Cones.”

“What other things?”

“Those four down there, I don’t like Cones snooping around, especially cones with badges…and then there’s the matter of shooting up my bar…now that really irks me to the bone.”

Cutter had run into beings like Ironbar before, mostly humans, who used fear like a hammer to just beat you into a corner. It probably worked too almost every time, except this one. Ironbar had never seen what he was willing to do once his back was in that corner, and he was really sure no one had ever seen what Bearclaw was capable of once turned loose to fight it out.

“I’m going to give you one chance to let us all walk out of here, one chance.” Cutter whispered low.

“Or what? What do you think your gonna do now?” Ironbar asked back with a snap.

“Or I’m going to bring this place down around your fat ears!” A voice growled from just a few feet away. When Ironbar looked down he saw Bearclaw and the pair of his Trolls laying face down on that expensive carpet.

The leader of the green machine eyed them and then turned back to Cutter with that same smile. “I’ll tell you what; you hang onto all that juice your feeling right now for a minute or two and then tell me if you still got it after our last party guest arrives.”

Who else did you bring with you? The whole tribe? Skywise asked Cutter in a send filled with exasperation.

I didn’t bring anyone else…and why in the name of the Elders are you here in the first place?

Before the PI could answer though she walked in from the main entrance, strolled right out into this great big mess with an air of dignity and grace. A grand entrance that made most of the Trolls whistle, the humans stand agape with mouths open, and the few elves look on in shock with one exception. Bearclaw’s face soured, took on a rather perturbed look as she appeared.

“Great balls of crap…of all the elves I didn’t need to run into today.”

G0lden

Oh this is getting interesting. Wonder what is going to happen next.

lunakat

Thou art indeed wise, Shaman... for flattery is a skill ye have well mastered, and verily shall it get you everywhere!

My comment this time is: Yay
I can't wait to see Timmain handle this!

Also- who is guarding this place? Because they probably need a different job.

lunakat

Okay... why does Winnowil want him alive? To thwart the Djun?

Also- what the heck is Timmain gonna do? If a Troll always fulfills a contract, how will they reconcile two conflicting contracts they accepted? So darned Noir!

More more more!

G0lden

More please!!!!!

jeb

Yeah! Dance, Mender! Dance!

Give 'em hell, boys!


And the elves, like in Elfwest, are all almost human sized. Cutter is 5'10 while Leetah is 5'8.


Wait, I'm 5'8". Does that mean I'm 'almost human sized'? Laugh

G0lden

Oh good chapter. Funny how a simple name can change the tide.



Can't wait for the next chapter.

lunakat

You know... I saw this earlier, read it, love it... and never got back to reply! (Life has been a little hectic lately.)

WiseShaman- every installment of this story brings me joy. This time, Christmas joy! Please keep writing- it's so much fun! (Like opening a new gift!)

Happy Hardboiled Holidays!

jeb

Darn! I was all excited thinking there was a new chapter here!
Boohoo

Xiu

What a cliffhanger; Well written guys! Very well written!

And before I am killed because I recommended a family member to read this; when is the next installement ?

G0lden

Shaman has moved his story to another site cap't'n. Go to http://fathertreeholt.forumotion.com/act?u=1&ak=e3908d to find the story. It is being reposted at this time, so it will be a little while until we get to the chapter.

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