Bounties of Dorn #9

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

Dorn leaned on his cane, afraid he might snap it in two, even more afraid to show any inconsistency in his disguise.  Daylight shone a rectangular cut out of the mystic shop’s innards and no more.  A brown gloom prevented a good view of the gnomes or the wand dealer.  Dorn cursed as his vision adjusted.

“A troll?  You let some old troll follow you?  Pilton must be casting the net wide for help these days,” said the woman, amusement as thick as her condescension, “Well, troll, why have you come to see me?  Since you know I do more than read fortunes, you must need something specific.”  Dorn pretended to choke on his own phlegm again.

“Special order,” he grunted.  The bounty hunter didn’t cross the threshold, but he could make out the elaborate set up he had walked in on.  Jars of powder filled the entire wall, and sparkled in multi-colored glass.  One gnome balanced on his hands, a dead light in his eyes.  The other glared at Dorn, both for the embarrassment, and the audacity of a troll going over the Green Gnomes’ head.

“Miriel only works with us!”

“Hold on there studly, I never said this was an exclusive deal.”  Finally, as his eyes squinted and watered from the strain, Dorn caught his first glimpse of her.  He had imagined the clawed fingers in his adrenaline frenzy.  Miriel stood just an inch or two lower than Dorn, outfitted in plain workclothes.  Her hands were, in fact, strong and calloused.  The meanness he’d heard in her voice was just as plain on her face.

“But Miriel, the boss won’t be happy if you start cutting in on his business,” said the gnome.  He walked the line between indignation and persuasion.  Dorn rolled his eyes as a troll would at the whining of a snotty gnome.

“I don’t blame a troll for wanting to deal with someone sensible,” hissed Miriel, shooing the gnome off her worktable and snapping her fingers over the feet of the handstander.  He fell into a heap and shook his head as she swept him to the ground.  “Bunch of nonsensical halfwits.”

“Well when can we expect the one you used on Gerry?  That might make the boss happier,” suggested the gnome as he picked Gerry up and dusted him off.  Gerry’s hair stuck out in odd places, and his eyes rolled around in their sockets.

“That one is not for the likes of you,” snapped Miriel, “It’s for my personal use.  Take these and get out of here.”  She dropped a bundle on top of them, Gerry waking up just enough to help Pilton’s gopher out the door.  They looked up at Dorn on the way out, one slackjawed, one sneering.  Miriel’s horrible attitude dissipated as the lackeys left.

“It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a wood troll in these parts.  Let’s do business behind the door, hm?  I don’t need every passing ass and his aunt to see what’s going on in here,” grumbled Miriel.  She turned her back on him and mopped up the green paint that had come off on her workbench.  Dorn took special note; she didn’t mind not being able to see an unknown troll.  With a sinking feeling, he realized, in that truth, he would not be able to take her in today.  Special preparations would have to be made for a safe capture.

Dorn allowed the door to close behind him, though it rankled his spine.  Miriel’s purposeful movements were more dangerous than any lurking spells she had hidden in the shop.  She knew exactly what she was doing, which in itself made her a greater adversary than the entire Green Gnome family.

Her flat brown hair bobbed in a braid at her back.  Miriel finished cleaning and opened a cabinet to her left.  Dozens of cubbies held wands of every make and use.

“I see trolls talk as much as I remember.  What is it that you need?  I may already have one ready,” she said.  As a test, Dorn asked for something no regular wand maker could produce.

“Sun wand, permanent,” he barked.  Miriel looked back at him, her hand freezing on the handle of the cabinet.

“What makes you think I’d be able to do that?”

“Heard ’bout all the trouble.”  Dorn gave a trollish shrug, as if he didn’t care if she could actually do it.  Her fierce reaction shocked him beneath his disguise; Dorn thanked the sun and stars the gray face didn’t move easily.

“My wands are not for trouble!”  Miriel slammed the cabinets closed.  “Are we supposed to wait for the bounty hunters and the guards to protect us?  Crime in the Great City is out of control, the Green Gnomes have taken over the whole of Dervish Park without contest, and not even the great Dorn can hunt all of them.  The Gnomes are peons compared to the rest of the crimelords, what are we, the regular people supposed to do?”

Flabbergasted, Dorn didn’t move or speak.  Miriel’s round face frowned.  She had a too-large nose and bright, clear eyes.  Women are dangerous, Dorn reminded himself, especially this kind.

“City’s business,” grunted the troll.  Miriel shook her head, not angry, but not respectful either.

“Yeah.  If I make a permanent Sun wand, it would be just between us, don’t tell anyone, and I expect to be paid with the best of your hoard.  Nothing less than three pounds of precious, tradeable gems.  Do we have a deal?”  Dorn debated haggling, but decided a troll wouldn’t care to.

“Deal,” he said.

“I need two weeks to do it properly.  Come back then, with payment,” said Miriel, dismissing him.  Dorn said nothing, but headed for the door.  “Would you tell me if I asked how a troll managed to get his hands on a negation charm?”

“No,” he grunted.  Miriel sighed, but he didn’t risk a glance at her.

“Fair enough.”

Dorn marched to the nearest public restroom, and dismantled his face.  He folded the burlap sack up and slid the gray face back into its jar.  Shaking out his hat, and stretching his eyebrow fold up, then letting it fall, Dorn made for the guard post.

“Greeves, I need a momen’,” he called from the open window.  Greeves shoved open the door a moment later and greeted Dorn with a small smile.

“Odd time of day for you without somethin’ dragging behind you.  What went wrong?” joked the captain.

“Greeves, look at this board.  Five years ago, wha’ did it look like?” said Dorn pointing at the bounty board.  Face after malevolent face stared back at them.  Greeves paused, then tilted his head.

“This is the new board I put up, ’cause the last one was too full…”

“Before five years ago, the only hunter this city needed was me.  Wha’ is goin’ on?”  Dumbstruck, Greeves met Dorn’s gaze.

“I guess I didn’t think about it.  It’s been so gradual,” mumbled Greeves, itching his scalp.

“And why aren’ the real bad ‘uns up ‘ere?  We all know who they are,” said Dorn, crossing his arms.  Horror and uncomfortable thoughtfulness traipsed across Greeves like the worst of nightmare creatures.

“Dorn, what do we do?” he asked.  The bounty hunter nodded.

“I hunt the righ’ people.”

~ by Rachel Francis on March 12, 2013.

3 Responses to “Bounties of Dorn #9”

  1. Cool! I like Dorn’s character. He’s cunning. Cunning is good.

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