Friday, June 26, 2015

City of Curses: Iron Justice 3 (Short Story)

Part 3 of Iron Justice, a short story in #Crux, City of Curses.  Nalli's point of view on the conflict she and her friends have entered into.  They had planned on enjoying a play, but the City of Curses has trouble planned for these three friends.

Part 1 (Lily) | Part 2 (Odward) | Part 4 (Zhames) | Part 5 (Qorg)

Nalli
I tried not to show my panting.  In the sky above, I could hear Chilo's cry.  The black vulture probably wanted to perch and get closer.

My friends didn't notice the gesture I gave Chilo.  He would stay above us, aloft until I beckoned him.  He would want me to let him eat the apa's liver anyway.  Lily wouldn't like that.  Odward?  I didn't know.  Maybe.

They weren't Ursyklon.  They couldn't feel or hear beasts like I could.  I remember how my mother used to describe it, the Greenblindness the other races seem to share.  Few could learn to over come it, but most seemed trapped.

Mother likened it to how the Eagle must see.  As the Totem Far Sighted One teaches, the view from above always revealed more than any other.  The truth always could hide if one could never see all of it at one time.

I wish I had my mother's wisdom.

"What apa did we pay for?"  I asked.  I resisted the urge to give the veiled human a kick just to see what he'd do.

"Nalli."  Lily intoned.

I rolled my eyes.  "What?"

"Hello."  Odward offered the veiled human a hand up.  A young, dark hand took it.

He sat up, revealing the face of a young Rosac boy.  Probably no older than sixteen maybe.  Or maybe he was twenty.  I never could tell, sometimes human faces seemed too much alike to tell apart.  The look in his eyes had this desperate tone to it.  Animalistic almost.

"You got a tongue or what?"  I tried to make that sound diplomatic.

Lily gave me a glare.  The Tiefling Diva was giving me a hint to shut up.  At least, I assumed that face meant that.  Hard to tell sometimes.

"Please, tell us why you were being... harassed by that janissary."  Lily's rephrased version of my question sounded sweeter.  Like a pleasant bit of honey.

I rubbed at the scar I gotten when I'd been a pouchling.  It ran across my left arm, almost over a vein.  My mother always spoke of that one.  She'd been proud of all of our pouch days- each of us ended up scarred.  I rubbed at the scar and tried to keep my mouth shut.

"I- I-"  The Rosac human shivered.  "My name is Zhames.  Th-thanks for your help."

He stood up.  After a brief bow, he tried to shuffle away.  Odward intercepted him.  Frowning, Zhames stopped.

I frowned deeper.  I didn't like this.

"Please... she is after us..."  Zhames avoided my gaze in particular.  That could've been my size playing into it.  Or maybe...

"She?"  Lily paused.  "Qorg screamed out 'Pet.'"

"The Spice Khan."  Odward supplied.

Zhames nodded.  A confirmation didn't clarify it, though.  I pressed forward, even though Odward and Lily were buying into the inference.  "Why does the Spice Khan want you?"

Chilo screamed above me.  Zhames took a step back.  The apa better step back.

"She- she prized me.  I escaped... and..."  Tears formed in his eyes.  He hefted up the chain and the object he'd been dragging before.  A chunk of gold, manacled to his ankle.  It looked like it had been ripped out of a way or something.  "She called me pet...  So she sent Qorg out to..."

I nodded.  I still didn't believe a word of it.  A part of me pondered just cursing him into a tree.  But no.  The Archdruid would have to approve it.  As a dafhrog I could entrap this lying apa into wood and branch.  The Archdruid wouldn't approve.  And my friends wouldn't agree with it either.

"Right."  I tried to keep my tone somewhat approving.  Both Odward and Lily seemed to believe him.  I sensed it then.  The smell of Zhames hit me.

We had to get away from him.

"How can we help you?"  Lily asked, striking her defiant Diva pose.

"You... you can't..."  Zhames sputtered.  "The Spice Khan will find us, no matter what we do-"

"We can buy him time, Lily."  I interjected.  Lily stared down at me.  We exchanged looks.  I smiled and flashed my teeth.  Her eyes widened.

Odward nodded.  "Of course.  Zhames, we'll handle Qorg.  Get going.  If we can, we'll catch up to you."

Zhames didn't need much more motivation.  He started to leap from rooftop to rooftop.  Uninjured.  As if the heavy weight was nothing.   I gave Chilo a swift motion of my left hand.  He followed Zhames from above.

"What is he, then?"  Lily asked once Zhames had made it out of our view.

Odward blinked.  "Excuse me?"

"Took me a bit to get the scent off him."  I spat.  "I think he lied about why the Spice Khan is after him too.  Chilo would want to eat his eyes."

I added that last part more quietly.  Lily smiled.  As always that made me feel a bit fuzzy inside.  The tiefling always had that effect with her silent praise.  Honest Diva mojo and all that.

"How did Lily know you suspected something?  You didn't say anything."  Odward looked puzzled.

"Her smile."  Lily and I both said in unison.

"Oh."

"He has the curse of the beast."  I told them.  "He hides it well, and I think this 'Pet' is someone he killed while in midst of it."

Lily grimaced.  "A werewolf.  Great.  I hate werewolves."