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Getting to the top of the hill had taken the breath from Jesha. Portland's rain had let up on her today, instead, a dark cloud just loomed in the sky above. She still was soaked.
"Stupid dreadlocks. No, Jesha, you sure needed to have dreadlocks in three colors. Just great to have something to keep the heat in." Jesha almost wished she could cut them off.
She didn't do that, though. She still sort of liked them.
"That's where the scents end." Jesha told herself. She grimaced at the sight of it. Off the beaten path of Portland, Black Anna had taken Noir into a building deep in one of Portland's bushy, forest patches. Forest Park cut into Portland like the swipe of a knife. It looked like a antique from another era to Jesha's eyes and nose. It looked like it been abandoned for well over fifty or sixty years. "Maybe the stories about her are true then. Maybe she really did die at her prom from alcohol poisoning."
Jesha looked down at the slope of trees, branches and shrubbery between her and the building. She sighed, and limped her way toward crawling down it. A hand grabbed her, tugging her back.
"Oh no you don't!" Jesha spun around to look slightly down at Bert, Noir's undead driver, who also was three or four inches shorter than her. The dark-skinned undead man didn't look very pleased to see her, his clothes dirty and torn from chasing her. "Really, Jesha? You were in the hospital for twenty fucking minutes."
"I heal faster-"
"Bullshit. You've been limping and bleeding this entire time." Bert pointed at her legs. "No one goes on a cross-country hike after taking a bullet, Jesha."
Jesha ignored that. "I am going to get Noir back-"
"-and you told me that some guy named Tyr was going to do that." Bert interjected. He crossed his arms, intent on not letting her leave.
"You aren't my father." Jesha shook her head. "The last thing I'm going to do is do what some man commanded me to do."
"So, the last thing you are going to do is kill yourself for a man?" Bert retorted.
Hurt, Jesha looked away from Bert. Her face blushed. "I... Er... Noir needs me."
"Jesha please." Bert sighed. "I can tell you think that saving him will make him feel a connection to you. I can, really. But Noir wouldn't want you to risk yourself for him."
"That isn't why I'm going down there!" Jesha lied, of course. Bert's words conjured a little scene in her head, with Noir in her arms, his eyes locked on hers. She knew a part of her really wanted to see if rescuing him might get the necromancer to...
"Ugh. Noir doesn't work that way, or else you wouldn't have wanted him anyway." Bert waved a hand in irritation. "He's a good person Jesha. Look, he saved me. Not just because he put life back into this body and let me have a life again. I... I wasn't doing the best thing with my life before I died."
Jesha blinked. "What were you doing?"
"Work I wasn't proud of. Dirty work, a lot of it felt illegal. Some of it was. My slate was dirty. It was rotten work, and by the time I died, I had nothing left. My wife and kids had died in a fire. My parents wouldn't take my calls. I had no time for my friends. Half the time I was high as a kite, thinking that I was the king of the world."
"Jeez Bert, were you running drugs?"
Bert shook his head. "Banking."
Jesha smirked. "Real dirty work?"
"Yeah, actually. Rich people can be some of the worst kind of evil, Jesha. They'll make you do horrible things, manipulate you into thinking you want to do it. Trick you into making stupid decisions you shouldn't consider in the first place."
Jesha ignored his words. She turned around, starting her descent down the hill. Then her momentum stopped. A pair of hands had grabbed her. Jesha bared her teeth. "Let me go, Bert."
Bert hefted her up. He used his inhuman strength to overpower her. "I'm not going to let you go get yourself killed-"
Jesha tried to elbow him, to get him to let her go. She twisted. She growled. She then felt woozy, as pain from her injuries. "Bert! Let go... ugh..."
Jesha clinched her eyes, embarrassed. She couldn't keep her head straight. And she was being outclassed by someone she didn't think of as her equal as a combatant. "Bert... ow... ugh."
Bert put her down. "I'm sorry Jesha... I just..."
"Its all right... my... ugh..." Jesha shuddered, her head still ringing.
"Lets go back to the hospital." Bert suggested, offering her a hand.
"Bert... I can't." Jesha shook her head. "Who is going to get Noir if not me?"
Bert shrugged. "You have to leave Noir to handle it. He's handled stuff like this before, on his own just fine."
Jesha shook her head. "Not this time, Bert. This is a monster he can't handle. Black Anna is... I can't leave someone to a monster. She's gotten to destroy him. I..."
Jesha closed her eyes. She hoped the Wolf God could hear her. She hoped the Wolf God was listening.