Del and Huck — On the Wings of Grace (Chapter 11)

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Steinbeck meets Tolkien in this high fantasy set in 1920s Oklahoma.

Chapter Eleven:

Arrival

In the morning the caravan crossed paths with a hungry young family travelling barefoot across the plain.  Flavian, expecting treachery, quickly examined them, and then nodded to Huck that they were ok. 

"Where you coming from?" Huck asked the father, a grim, skinny man with a dirty face and torn clothes. 

"Tennessee," he said. 

"I thought Tennessee was under control," said Huck. 

"Not anymore," said the man.  He did not elaborate. 

"Where do you think you're going to go?" asked Bitter, who had snuck up on the conversation.  "There ain't nowhere around here but O.C."

"We don't know," explained the woman.  "We just knew -- we couldn't stay."

Bitter gave them some food and water and the family hurried off, refusing Huck's offers to stick with the caravan as there were elves about.  Both the man and his wife glanced up at the wyvern and shivered in answer. 

They went on their way, and were never seen again. 


Soon enough they caught sight of the Good Lich's tower on the hills in front of them.  "Thank god," said Bitter.  "Is that it?"

"Yup," said Huck. 

"What's it like?"

"Scary," Huck told Bitter. 

"Scarier than elves?"

"I dunno," said Huck. 

Bitter swore and kicked his legs into his horse, speeding off to check on the caravan. 

Del rode on Huck's other side.  "Now what?" she asked. 

"I don't know, Del.  But we're not going back to the city.  Don't tell anyone though.  Not yet."

"That's sort of what Ivaile told me," she said. "What are we going to do?"

 "I'm not sure. But we ain't going back yet."

She thought about it.  "But Huck, what about our stuff back home?"

"It's not worth worrying about possessions these days, Del."

"But my dark room!"

"I know," he said.  "It won't be for forever, I promise."


"So this is it?" Franklin asked Huck.  They had not spoken much over the journey.  Franklin had mostly kept to himself.  "The Lich's tower?  You've been in there?"

"I have," said Huck. 

"What do you think of him?"

"The Good Lich? I don't know.  Ask me tomorrow."

"You going to speak to him today?"

"Ivaile asked me to."

"I should speak with him too.  Parsons asked me to do so."

"I'll see with the Lich about that," said Huck, questioning Franklin's intentions. 

"Now that we're here, you're not in charge anymore," said Franklin. 

"I'm still in charge of myself," said Huck.    

The military man snorted.  "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing," said Huck.  He had let too much slip out. 

"I don't think you realize what an important mission this is."

"My mission is to protect Del," said Huck. 

"You're a small minded man," said Franklin.  "There are bigger things going on here.  Bigger than me.  Bigger than you."

"I know that too," said Huck.  "I just don't care."

"If you think you're free from Parsons out here, you're wrong."

"I owe him, same as you," said Huck.  "I don't forget that."

"Good," said Franklin.  "I need to see the Lich.  Don't forget that either."


After Franklin was done with his threats, he departed, and Huck was approached by Ivaile, who had gone into the tower to see his master, and now brought word back. 

"The Good Lich is glad you've arrived," he told Huck.  "Are you pleased with the new position of the tower?"

"Yeah," said Huck.  "They're pleased."

"The Lich would like to see you and Del, when it suits you."

"Del too?"

"Yes."

"Why her?"

"Because what he has to say he has to say to both of you."

"I don't understand what you want from us."

"That will be explained," said Ivaile. 

"Alright then," said Huck.  "But -- I ain't in charge here no more.  The man you want, is Franklin."

"No," said Ivaile.  "We're not interested in him.  Only you and Del."

"I understand that, but -- once we're gone, I mean."

"Yes," said Ivaile.  "Once you're gone, many things will change."

 

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