A harrowing and exciting fantasy adventure taking place in 1920s Oklahoma and the magical world of Iska.
Adley left shortly after that, but not before imparting one more piece of information.
“Huck,” she spoke, as Del watched the City Druid place her hand on her uncle’s, “We wouldn’t be talking if I didn’t need something from you. You understand that, right?”
“Yeah,” said Huck.
Del wondered what Adley meant, but in a second she would find out.
“The nobles, the guild, even the mob – they cannot act against the Sorceress. Not in our city of laws. We need an outsider here, and unfortunately you and your companions are it.”
“You want us to kill the Sorceress,” admitted Huck.
“Yes. There is no other way.”
“And how do you expect us to do that?”
“We will help,” said Adley. “We will make it easy.”
“I’ll have to think about that,” said Huck.
“Think clearly,” the City Druid told him. “And think quickly. Either I or Sarohe will contact you soon.”
Once the City Druid was gone, Huck reclined a bit at the table, deep in thought, as Del watched him.
“What’re we gonna do, Uncle Huck?” asked Del.
“I don’t know, Delilah,” he said, obviously pained.
“How are we ever going to kill the Sorceress?”
“I don’t know that either. But I think the tougher part is what we do afterwards.”
“Yeah,” said Del, thinking about this new hazard.
“There will be a lot of devastation with the murder of the Sorceress,” said Huck. “And that druid wants us to shoulder it. I’m hesitant to agree until we get a better deal.”
“I’m hungry,” said Del, with the sun beginning to set.
“Yeah,” answered Huck, “But first I’m gonna go upstairs and grab the others so we’re all on the same page. Order me something – with an ale this time – and I’ll be back in a minute. And Del?”
“No more running off. Too dangerous.”
“I know,” she said, a little ashamed of herself.
Huck headed upstairs as Del called over the barmaid and ordered the food. The barmaid stared at Del up and down, obviously seeing she was an Earthling, but she said nothing and took her order all the same.
“Okay, honey,” said the barmaid.
Once she was alone again, Del scanned the rest of the tavern and caught the eye of a hooded figure hunched in a corner by the fire, watching her closely.
Del turned away and pretended to be interested in something else. But, Huck is right, she thought. It is dangerous here. Especially with what they want us to do.
She was suddenly aware of the weight of her gun on her hip. If I have to kill someone, I’ll kill them, she thought. If I’m protecting Huck, or protecting myself. This is real, for sure, no bullshit.
She looked up the steps, waiting for her companions and Huck to come down. A loneliness and fright took her, as she glanced once more to the hooded figure in the corner, who still watched her.
At last, she heard their voice and steps as they came down the stairs. A smile overwhelmed her face, and she felt eternally glad she was not alone in this strange city.
Once the other were seated, they ordered more food and then Huck explained the situation with the Sorceress to Flavian, Jobe, and Bitter.
Bitter seemed the most displeased. “Yeah fucking right we’re going to do their dirty work,” he said.
Flavian chuckled. “You’re right, Huck, I don’t know what the most difficult part, doing the deed or dealing with the aftermath.”
“We’re kind of stuck,” said Huck. “I wonder if the Good Lich knew this was going to happen.”
“What does it matter now?” asked Bitter. “He is far away as hell. We’re on our own here.”
“Fuck if I’m doing it,” said Flavian. “For free?”
“Who else is gonna do it?” asked Bitter.
“Perhaps Jobe and I are sick of killing,” said Flavian. “Perhaps we’re thinking of settling down on a farm to milk cows.”
“Don’t be stupid,” said Bitter. “This is serious.”
“I don’t see why it’s obviously left to me!” argued Flavian.
Huck interrupted. “If the Good Lich expected it done, he probably expected me to do it,” he said. “I imagine a bullet will kill the Sorceress just as it would kill anybody else.”
“You’re taking that on faith,” said Flavian. “Something I don’t see you do very often.”
“Maybe not,” said Huck. “But I think we can all agree there’s nothing else that can be done.”
“We can’t negotiate with her?” Del asked. “Surely there’s something we can do instead of just killing her?”
“It looks like her enemies want us to kill her, and as long as we could, they are our friends,” said Huck. “We need friends now. The Sorceress is an obstacle. Nothing more.”
“Time is running out for Oklahoma City,” said Bitter. “I have daughter there. I’ve been away long enough. Whatever we do, we gotta do it.”
Huck nodded. “I agree. I’ll bet our new ‘friends’ have an idea on the where and when of this. But we need a guarantee. We could kill the Sorceress and they could turn on us, without a doubt.”
“Then what do we do, Uncle Huck?” asked Del.
He frowned. “What I do, I do for you Del. If there is any other way here, I don’t see it.”
“We can just run away!”
“To where, Del?”
“I don’t know! But this is just trouble, I can feel it.”
She felt helpless. Even as she argued, she knew what path they were on. There was nothing that could change it, no words, nothing.
“We will speak to Adley again, and see what guarantees they can give us, if any. We gotta do something, and soon. I’m not certain about this either, Del. But I don’t see any way out but through.”
They ate in silence. The food was hot, and filling. The tavern began to fill up with an early dinner crowd. Del was not hungry, but stuffed herself anyway. Who knew what would happen next?
Towards the end of the dinner, Del spotted two cloaked men enter the tavern and scan the place with their eyes, until they found her and her companions.
Del met Flavian’s eyes as she gestured to them. The Halfling reached into his clothes for a knife, and gestured himself to Huck, Bitter, and Jobe. The two men approached slowly, and spoke before they came too near –
“Huck Strite?” one of them asked.
“That’s me,” said Huck, hand on his gun.
“I am Delotte, and this is Yibb. We’ve come at the behest of Lady Sarohe,” said the man, smiling. “She wishes to speak with you at her estate in the North of the city. There is a great ball planned two nights hence, where the Sorceress will be present.”
“Then that’s it,” said Huck. “I guess we’re done here. We will come with you, then.”
“It isn’t far,” said Delotte. “And the crowds are thin.”
The companions got up, paid their bill, and then followed Delotte and Yibb out the door into the late sun. The evening crowds were quiet as they went about their business, heading from this place or that. Huck walked side by side with Delotte, speaking to the man, while Del fell to the rear, distracted by the sights of the city.
She found herself next to Flavian, and turned to smile at him and ask him how he was, but instead, was met by scowling.
“What is it?”
He slowed, placing his hand on her arm, and whispered, “Those men are not our friends.”
Del looked up at Delotte and Yibb, and he uncle speaking with them. “How do you know?”
“Jobe can smell treachery.”
She felt frightened for her uncle. “Why do we go with them then?”
“Because I think we have no choice,” Flavian answered, gesturing above them to the rooftops.
Del looked and found armed men atop the buildings, following them – archers aiming, and tracking their movement.
“They take us to where the fight won’t interfere with the city,” said Flavian.
“Why? Adley and Sarohe said they were our friends!”
“I think, my dear, that these men are employed by the Sorceress, and she is wise to our purpose.”
She turned and found Bitter following up the rear. His eyes were guarded, but his hand was resting near his gun.
“Why do we do nothing? Why does Huck speak with them?”
“Because he is clever, I think,” said Flavian. “I hope, anyway.”
“By keeping them off guard. Be ready, Delilah, the moment will come.”
“For killing. And I can’t do it all myself. You will need to help. Are you ready for that?”
“I’m ready,” she said, aware of the weight of her gun on her hip again.
“Good,” said Flavian. “Good girl.”
Del took a deep breath.