Part 12 of Two Hunters. 13 and 14 will be the last two short stories of the month. Look forward to 14. It’ll be a special one!
Two Hunters, Part 12
Outside of her facade of ‘Lady Tusche’, Jamgled Gotleg radiated ferocity. She idly twirled a pair of longswords, her babies as she referred to them. Jamgled wore a simple low-cut tunic dyed pale blue. She donned gauntlets and heavy boots made of bronze, leaving her torso and upper legs conspicuously vulnerable. The top of her chest was covered with deep scars to match the ones on her face, but her neck had been unharmed. She had never fallen victim to a vampire’s kiss.
Nell took her turn to look over Okiir’s response, working against the distraction of Jamgled’s restlessness.
Their orders had been straightforward, track down and crush the vampire remnants in the city. Sonnie had been a step ahead of Okiir, and had already set things in motion.
Nell glanced over at Culvir who nodded in response. The orders burst into white-hot flame leaving less than ash behind.
“So, what’s the plan? Head on assault?” Jamgled twirled her blades a final time, jabbing them into the black leather sheathes at her side.
“No. We don’t have the manpower.” Culvir rubbed his chest.
“Bullshit.” Jam leaned forward, hands on her hips. “You and me alone can–”
“I’m not going.” He flinched. ”I want to, but I can’t. It’ll be you, Nell… but I have a feeling we can get someone else.”
“The Kid?” Jamgled glanced back at Nikidas.
“Damn straight I’m going.” Nikidas stood, clapping a fist to his heart.
“No. You’re not. You’re staying back with me.” Culvir jabbed a finger at him.
He means Sonnie. Nell shook her head. “I don’t know if I can convince him.”
“Hey! Don’t brush me off.” Nikidas frowned. “I’m tough. I can help out a little bit.”
“Oh yeah? You land one hit on me, and you can go.” Jamgled donned a catty smile.
“Err. I would but I don’t hit ladies…”
“You’re in luck then. I ain’t no lady.” Jam sneered.
“It’s not your choice to make Jamgled.” Culvir jabbed a protesting finger.
“I agree. Nikidas, it’s too dangerous.” Nell opened her palm, calling forth Wisp. The flame danced between Jamgled and Nikidas and flared to the size of a melon. Both of them stepped back.
“We simply need to get our foot in the door.” Nell straightened. “It works that Jamgled is the one they sent. We can go in as captives.”
“Wait… what?” Jamgled narrowed her eyes.
“Sonnie is planning to turn me over to the vampires.”
“We tried that once. I don’t think they’ll fall for it again.” Culvir shook his head. “What we’ll do is–”
“No. This will work.” Nell clenched her teeth. “If Jamgled doesn’t like the arrangement, she can curl up and hide in here for all I care. I don’t need her help.”
Jamgled let out a low whistle, Nikidas gaped and Cuvir narrowed his eyes. The only sound in the room, the crackle of wisp’s flame.
“What makes you think I you’ll have any better luck in there than before.”
“Because I won’t have you holding me back.” Nell folded her arms. “Sonnie has found a way to see to our success. If all goes well, we can apply this to other nests of undead and bring this threat to heel once and for all.”
“…and if it goes poorly?”
“I die,” Nell said.
“You got stones.” Jamgled grinned. ” I like that.”
“Are you drunk?” Culvir growled. “There is no way I’m going to let you march into a vampire lair alone. I don’t care how great you think your magic is. You’ll die, or end up being their cattle.”
“Actually. I’m quite sober.” A smile crept onto Nell’s face. “Thanks to Sonnie, I haven’t felt more sure about anything in my life. In fact, he may have found the key to stopping all of this once and for all.”
Culvir straightened, the threat fell off of his face.
“If Jamgled comes with me, we’ll just say Sonnie subverted her as well. I’m sure they would love to kill her personally.” Nell turned her gaze to her. “You have quite the reputation.”
“I’m down with it. I just need to play the helpless damsel for a bit right? ” Jamgled considered. “Might be fun.”
“Are you kidding me? She looks as helpless as a Dreadbull in a blood field.” Nikidas scowled.
“She’s a good actress when she tries.” Culvir sighed. “But I still don’t like it. I’m not going to sit here and…”
“You can. And you will.” Nell approached him, placing a hand on his head.
Culvir’s eyes grew wide.
“You have a choice. Cooperate. Or I see to it you remain blacked out for the next three days.” Nell leaned close, lowering her voice to a whisper. “And if you even think about sneaking out again, I’ll be breaking much more than your heart.”
Culvir’s eyes fixed on her, focusing on her glare.
“Are we on the same page?”
“Yes.” Culvir turned his eyes downward.
Jamgled flicked her wrist, pantomiming a phantom whip.
“Nell…” Nikidas placed a hand on her shoulder. “You didn’t mean that did you?”
“Yes, unfortunately. It’s the only way he’ll listen.” Nell turned to him and smiled.
“But he’s just worried about you.” He blushed, lowering his eyes.
“He shouldn’t be.” Nell raised a hand to Nikidas’ cheek. “I’m going to live through this. I’m too valuable to them alive.”
“And if they hurt you?” Nikidas raise his hand to hers.
“They couldn’t hurt me any worse than I already have been. And when I get out of this, you’ll be there to make it better right?” Nell softened her smile. “The world needs more men like you.”
She gave him a gentle pat on his palm and walked out of the room, Jamgled close behind. Wisp fluttered to the lantern next to the bed and cast a shadow across Culvir’s face. He sat motionless as the door to the room closed.
“You’re back. And you brought a friend?” Sonnie wore his typical smile and took looked over both Nell and Jamgled.
“Not here for pleasure. We doing this or what?” Jamgled stepped into the room, taking in her surroundings.
“Jamgled Gotleg.” Nell gestured to her. “She’s going to participate in our little operation.”
“That should work nicely.” Sonnie offered a hand, beckoning to Jamgled. She peered at him quizzically.
“That won’t be necessary.” Nell shook her head. “She’s already in tune with her confidence. We can get right to it.”
“That certainly makes things easier.” Sonnie waved over Jamgled a second time. “I’m sorry for this deception, but it is for the good of humanity. I hope you understand.”
“Yeah yeah…” She loosened her sword belt and tossed her weapons aside. She raised her arms resting them on the back of her head.
Sonnie reared back, focused, then loosed a right cross against Jamgled’s cheek.
She spat, then turned back to face him with a smirk.
“You’re gonna have to do better than that princess.” Jamgled said, widening her grin. That wasn’t even foreplay.”
Sonnie raised a hand and touched thumb, forefinger and little finger against her. Jamgled’s smile faltered and she fell limp. He stooped, picking her up with little effort.
“What about Culvir? He’s staying out of it right?” Sonnie fixed a glare on Nell.
“He’ll cooperate. I saw to it,” Nell said.