Swords and sorcery in 1920s Oklahoma. Follow Delilah and her Uncle Huck as they make their way in a world gone to hell.
On the way back home, Del listened to the sound of the engine and tried not to think of the cold wind beating against her. Instead she wondered about her Uncle Huck and their strange adventure that day. She worried about him sometimes; he wasn't the same as he was since before Aunt Gracie died. He was stoic now, sometimes even cold, and while she could still sense the old Huck underneath this exterior, behind his eyes, she knew he was tremendously sad.
It wasn't fair, what happened to Aunt Gracie, but it was almost more unfair for Huck. When he got his new plane, he named it after his wife, The Grace, but it was the only time he ever mentioned her name. He never talked again about what happened or reminisced about the past, or anything. She was smart enough not to bother him about it. But there Aunt Gracie was everyday, her name on the plane, carrying them through the sky.
Then her thoughts turned to her conversation with Ivaile and seeing the Good Lich. Magic was strange, maybe even perverse. How it could do amazing things like Ivaile showed her and then let something like the Lich live on after death stretched her mind almost beyond her recognition.
The trip home went without incident. No gryphon riders, no rain. When they arrived back, it was nightfall, but Franklin was still waiting for them when they landed.
"What's the story, Huck?" he asked.
"He'll do it."
"What are the conditions?"
"He wants cattle. In a week."
"A hundred head."
"Jesus. I'll talk to the Reverend."
"You do that."
"And another thing, Franklin..."
"He wants me and Del... he wants us to work for him."
"I don't know."
Franklin grimaced, but said nothing. The commander then departed, but not before giving Huck a package: 2 lbs. of good beef, coffee, and sugar. "Enjoy it," Franklin said.
"We will," said Huck.
After Franklin left, Huck made dinner, frying up the beef and making sweet tea for Delilah, and nice sugary coffee for himself. Afterwards Delilah worked on her photos and Huck reclined in his favorite chair and read through his copy of the weekly Oklahoma Gazette, which had come a few days ago. The news was always the same: terrible. He read about famine in Arkansas, orc blood feuds in Mississippi, and bizarre zombie armies in New Orleans. Then there were the local stories: trouble with the water supply, dead infants found in rubbish piles, difficulty getting the power grid going, and on and on.
"Uncle Huck?" Del interrupted.
"The Lich wants us to work for him?"
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you, Delilah. Yeah, he seems to want us in his employ for something."
"He didn't say?"
"So you said Yes."
"I don't know if I had a choice. Honestly, Del, I'm beginning to have my doubts about Parsons and O.C. Maybe it would be good for us to have other options."
"But he's some kind of creature...."
"That he is," said Huck. "But that's just the way it is."
"Sometimes I wish we could just get in the Grace and fly away from here."
"I know you do. I do too. But I don't know where we'd fly to."
The next day they took Delilah's photos and rode their horses into town. They instantly noticed that even more fighting men and orcs had come to town. They were unruly and dangerous. They even heard a gunfight on their trip, only a few blocks away.
When they arrived at the mayor's office, they found another man exiting: a tall, lithe, hooded figure, who was met by two other tall, lithe, hooded men on horseback. One of them glanced Del's way and she looked into the man's grim green eyes.
Huck spat. He urged his horse closer to Delilah's as they slowed and dismounted.
The elves then rode away.
"Elves, Delilah," Huck said.
"I don't know. "
"Okay, Uncle Huck, but what are elves doing here?"
He didn't answer, just helped her down from her horse and shook his head. "You wait out here and guard the horses," he told her.
"But Uncle Huck, I thought I was coming inside?"
"Not this time, Del."