Bounties of Dorn #7

As always, check out the link above for the rest of the story.

“G’mornin, Dorn.  Uh…”  Greeves stared up at the hulking Jexer, who glared down with unwarranted aggression.

“Mornin’ Greeves.  Don’ min’ him, just a bit excited,” said Dorn, pushing his way past to the bounty board.  Greeves jiggled his head to the side, an erratic motion meant to convey how he wanted to talk with Dorn privately.  The bounty hunter obliged him, and the guard bent to speak.

“Dorn, you know I’d never tell you how to hunt, but that guy is known for returning bounties in pieces,” whispered Greeves, “No pay for mangled prisoners.”

“An’ wha’ bounties is Jex known fer bringin’ in?” asked Dorn, patience in every word.

“Well, the big ‘uns,” said Greeves as he held out his arms in a show of muscle.  Dorn gave a tight smile.

“If he could think like me, with tha’,” Dorn patted Greeves’s bicep, “to back it up…”

“But, you don’t need to be that big with the way you think,” argued Greeves.

“Sayin’ I’m small?”  Dorn made his voice menacing, but underneath his eyebrows a twinkle of amusement burned.

“Oh… Well… You know you’re the best bounty hunter in the City.  Size don’t mean nothin’,” mumbled Greeves, pushing his hair out of his face.

“Jus’ joshin’ ya, I know me nose is too close to yer arse,” said Dorn, punching the guard.  Greeves groaned despite his chain mail.  “Really, cunnin’ is great an’ all, but I wouldn’t need so much if the groun’ were fartha’ away.”

Greeves straightened to find Jexer leaning over him, tail twitching.  Blinking, the guard backed up, both to gain space and look at the bounty board.  He cleared his throat, stuck by the intense stare of the bull-man.

“We-yell,” his voice cracked, “Ahem, well, there’s plenty of work.  There’s been a bunch of hunters and guards laid up.”  With a weighted look, Greeves turned back to Dorn.  Every inch of the bounty hunter tensed, and anger, both at the carelessness of his fellow hunters and the reason behind their injuries, radiated out from him, though he made no movement.

“I’m workin’ on it, Greeves,” Dorn promised.  Jexer squinted down at his mentor, but said nothing.  “Today, we piss off a lot o’ tiny green men.”

Dorn stuck his finger in the middle of a poster that had been on the board for months.  He tore off the paper and stuffed it in his pocket.  Greeves sighed.

“Oh Dorn, I don’t mean to put all this on you.  My hands are tied, at the moment.  The Green Gnomes have some connection high up, and the courts won’t order a real raid on them.  I’ve had to visit too many widows in the last week.  But I still shouldn’t expect you to solve everythin’.  My apologies.”  The captain of the guard bowed his head.

“Enough of yer nonsense.  You’ve always known, I’m much more than a bounty hunter,” said Dorn.

*  *  *

A quaint, little cottage on the edge of the Great City hid in the embrace of cultured landscaping.  Shrubs, large and small, not one the same, but somehow still belonging together, squatted in designs on the front lawn.  Odd flowers of all varieties blossomed under the greenery, like eggs under a hen.  Bark siding camouflaged the cottage itself, made visible only by the inelegant interruptions of the windows and door.  A golden sparkle of sunshine fell on the place, but rather than lighting it, the rays obscured the property in a blinding haze.

“What’s the plan, Dorn?” asked Jexer from behind the nearest building.

“Easiest thin’ in the world.  A front door assault,” said Dorn.

“But, I thought you told me to think with me head, and not me arse?  Isn’t charging in there just what I would do?”

“Now you’re thinkin’, why do ya suppose I waited until now to take this place dow’?”  Jexer frowned, his thick eyelashes knitting together.

“‘Cause… I’m here?”  Dorn grinned.

“With proper trainin’, you may impress me yet.”

“But… I don’t see any guards or traps,” said Jexer, twisting his muscular neck again to make sure.

“Jus’ you have yer axe out, and see,” said Dorn, “While you’re busy outside, I’ll be locking and dragging the perps.”  Jexer shrugged, in no way able to argue.  He pulled his great axe from his back, shining a spot on it, before giving a ready signal.

“Le’s go!” said Dorn, bounding toward the front door with more speed than possible for his size.  Jexer did as he was told, stopping in the middle of the lawn and searching for the enemy.  He relaxed when none appeared, until Dorn stepped onto the stone of the front walk.  The shrubs that had been stooped over the flowerbeds expanded to full height, their tallest limbs reaching well over Jex’s head.  He gripped the axe tighter, and a smile showed his flat, square teeth.

“Now, you’re talking!” he bellowed, leaping onto the closest.

Dorn, meanwhile, banged on the front door.  A small figure flitted to the window and then away; shrill, panicked voices erupted from the inside.  When a lock slid into place, Dorn growled and kicked the door until it splintered.  Glass tubes and colored liquids came flying at the bounty hunter, who crouched and rolled.  The source of the missiles, two pixies, one of tree-make, the other of flower, dive-bombed Dorn with spikes on each of their limbs.  He drew two knives, expertly parrying their kamikaze attacks.  Their arms and legs didn’t move like normal people to whom gravity is a consideration.  They swung with little regard for up and down, their true purpose only to find an opening.

“Pixies,” muttered Dorn.  He got a better look at them while they fought.  The first, Susalia, had a tulip for hair, and struck at him with the scythes of a mantis.  The second, who Dorn knew to be her bodyguard and lover, Moak, had the rough skin of a tree pixie, preferring sharpened darts that were no doubt poisoned.  Dorn punched Susalia, sending her into a wall of intricate potion equipment.  Moak buzzed with anger, pulling a wand from a table nearby.  He spoke the words and lightning crackled.  Dorn braced himself for a bolt that never came, for just when the wand should have gone off, it puffed, fizzed, and went silent.  Then it exploded.

Moak had the sense to throw it when the wand didn’t expel its charge, and was only hurt by glass shrapnel.  Dorn peeked out from behind his rubber rock shield.  Susalia and Moak were both unconscious for the time being, so he tied them up and dropped them in the cage he’d brought along for troublesome sprites.  The bounty hunter heard the last roar of battle from the lawn, and his apprentice poked his large head through the door.

“How d’you know?” Jexer asked.  Dorn’s mouth twitched.

“Pixies animate plan’s to their dirty work.  Those bushes were protectin’ the flowers these two needed,” said Dorn.  Jexer gave him a sheepish grin.

“Is it okay that the flowers didn’t make it?”  Dorn chuckled.

“I would’ve done it meself if ya hadn’t trampled ‘em.”  The bounty hunter shook the cage until the pixies forced themselves awake.

“You’re wanted for the manufacture and distribution o’ illegal coercive potions.  When the Gnomes try to get you out, tell ‘em they’re mine,” said Dorn.  Susalia and Moak yelled at him at high volume, for a pixie.  Dorn leaned closer.  “I’m sorry?  You’re too stupid to see I don’ care?”

The two fussed at Dorn until they saw the guard’s post on the horizon.  Then they argued, then they bribed, then they begged.  Finally Dorn dragged the cage up to his face.

“If there is one thin’ I can’ stand, it’s a violation of the Protection of Free Will from Magics Act.  You’ve helped the Gnomes ruin people, degrade them to the lowest form.  Your pleas are like honey to me.  Carry on.”  Greeves nodded his respect at Dorn and the leaf-ridden Jexer.  On their way back to the tunnels, Jexer moaned and stumbled.

“What’s tha’?  Holy gorgons!  Look at ya, calf!  Yer losing blood like a waterfall!”  Jexer passed out in time to miss Dorn hefting the weight of him with all forty-eight inches straining to stay upright.

~ by Rachel Francis on February 25, 2013.

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