Bounties of Dorn #12 Most Wanted

As always, click the link above for the rest of the story.

“This is boring,” moaned Jexer.  His third nostril poked out of the crease in the enormous volume of history Dorn had given him for research.  Not many books could boast a width equal to Jexer’s mighty head, but this one even stretched past his horns.

“Ya been spoilt thinkin’ huntin’ is a sport and not a science,” said Dorn, not taking his eyes from his own dusty reference.  Jexer’s tail switched behind him.

“A third of this book is blank anyway.  How I am supposed to finish it?”

“It’s not blank, calf.  It’s waitin’ to be written.”  Jexer raised his head and blinked.  He held his place and flipped to where the words ended.  The last bit of history it covered was the Raid on Dervish Park.

“You wrote this?” Jex asked in amazement.

“It’s dry, but facts don’ need no fancyin’ up.”  Dorn squinted through his reading glasses as the words in front of him became smudged and faded.  “Damn basemen’ floods.”

With renewed interest, Jexer read the book, searching for signs of his mentor’s touch.  It covered the intimate history of the Great City going back a century.  He tried to imagine what it all looked like from four feet high and grumpy.

“Dorn?  What are you?” asked Jexer.  A minute pause, then Dorn took off his glasses and looked over at his apprentice.

“Ya don’ see many like me aroun’ here, do ya?  In truth, there may not be many left anywhere.  A story for another time though, calf.  I need you to go to Twig’s, and get our supplies,” said Dorn.  Jexer wanted to argue, but let it drop and nodded.  He rose, the table protesting as much as his back, and went off to take care of the errand.

 

A tingle.  A presence.  Dorn gave no outward sign that he knew someone trespassed in his tunnels.  It couldn’t be Jexer, he was never that quiet, or ominous.  The amulet at his chest, tucked deep in his shirt, hung heavily on his neck.  With no ceremony, he closed his book and set it down.  Dorn stretched and grumbled to himself about forgetting to eat.  Before he could leave his precious library, the door shook in its frame.  He clenched his jaw; Dorn had hoped he could avoid damaging his books.  The door blew open, barely staying attached to the wall.

The woman of Dorn’s nightmares, surrounded by slithering blackness, floated into the room.  The Great City’s Most Wanted criminal.

Silvia.  Wanted for over two dozen murder charges including the previous Chancellor.  The long, clawed fingers that dug into Dorn’s deepest terrors were from her hands.  The hate and cruelty of a troll were nothing to Silvia’s.  Her figure, thin at best, insubstantial otherwise, could not be distinguished from the blackness until one or the other moved.  The only flesh visible were her hands and head.  Dark, smoky eyes, attractive on anyone else, sunk into a gaunt face topped with blonde hair, tightly bound up.  To Dorn, she was death.

To anyone else, she was also death.

“Dorn,” said Silvia, “It’s been awhile.”

He said nothing as he tried to form a plan.  No energy could be wasted on talking.

“You’ve upset some interesting people lately.  I never thought Pilton would have the stones to hire me, but he did, and here I am.  I’ve never come for you because I was afraid.  But… I can’t resist anymore.  I think… yes, I think I can kill you now.”

Dorn breathed in and out as her clawed tendrils climbed up the walls and enveloped the only escape route.  Indeed, they would soon snuff out the fire and Dorn wouldn’t be able to see anything, but her dark magic.  This puzzled him, but he kept his usual frown in place.

“I love power, Dorn.  I love killing people with power.  If I can take from them what they’ll try the hardest to protect, then I’ve won.  I am more powerful.  You have it, in spades.  Killing you will be the ultimate victory,” said Silvia.

“Surprisin’ people in repose is hardly lettin’ ’em muster their full power,” said Dorn.  He crossed his arms, worry melting away.  Silvia laughed.

“Oh, no.  People of true power are never surprised.”  She raised her horrible hands toward him, pointing with all her effort.  The blackness collapsed toward Dorn, wave after wave tumbling over each other to strangle and rip.

Dorn rolled his eyes behind his eyebrow fold.

In a perfect orb around the bounty hunter, the violent darkness broke and smashed into itself.  Papers and debris swirled about as the attack continued.  Each wave beat against the barrier only to slide around and dissipate.  Silvia displayed no anger.  She drew her tendrils back.

“An’ here I though’ you’d killed all those people with yer bare hands.  Joke’s on me,” said Dorn, chuckling in earnest.  Pure fear poured from her eyes, opened so wide white could be seen all around her iris.  Adjusting his dirty brown hat, Dorn marched toward her.  Silvia drifted back and screamed.

“Don’ worry.  I won’ hurt ya if ya come quietly.”  Down the hall, Jexer ran to see who had screamed.  Silvia’s terror turned into a vengeful grin, and her magic stormed toward the bull man.  The last Dorn could see of him was an innocent surprise in Jexer’s big eyes as he backed up a step from the onslaught.

Dorn took out his rubber rock wand, made a shield, and leapt at Silvia.  With one swipe, he bashed her unconscious and into a nearby wall.  Blood flowed from a gash in her hairline.  The magic slowed and disappeared.

Jexer had his back to the wall at the other end of the hallway.  One claw had made it through, slicing his forearm.  Dorn shook his head.  He went over to Silvia and peered at her injury.  She’d need a doctor.  He reached down to heft her, when her eyes opened and she hissed at him.  Silvia slashed his cheek, then vanished into her darkness and rumbled out the door.  It was as if the magic itself screeched with her as she escaped, so enraged she was reduced to primal screams.

“Jex?” called Dorn.

“Aye.”

“Le’s get out the bandages,” said Dorn.

“What the hell was that?”  Jexer put pressure on his arm.

“Biggest bounty in the city.  Shoulda netted her.”

“Dorn… I was a dead man, wasn’t I?” asked Jex.

“Yep,” said Dorn, “But, don’ feel bad.  Most would be.”

“Just another day, training with Dorn.  What’re we gonna do tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow?  I have a wan’ to pick up.  More woman trouble.”

~ by Rachel Francis on April 8, 2013.

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