Haidley LXXVI-LXXIX

Life was never meant
to be simple or pure.
It’s labour and pain,
labour and bloody pain!

LXXVI

“What are you going

to do with her?”

Klax looked over to

where Tyla seemed engrossed

with the Juniss woman.

“I don’t know. I

thought to leave her

here. Eventually she’ll get

free. By then, we’ll

be in our new

hidey hole,” he said.

Hason wasn’t comfortable with

that plan. “What if

she doesn’t get free?

What if she’s stuck

here for much longer.

There is no food

to spare. And who’s

to say that someone

won’t find her eventually

and…” Klax’s eyed his

new friend wearily, as

if he hadn’t already

thought this through himself.

“She’ll be right. She’s

Juniss. Super wonder freakin’

woman and all that.

Come on, get the

others ready. We need

to leave soon. Just

as soon as Jhel

and Peitar return, we

can leave.” Hason made

to speak but then

thought against it. He

glanced over at the

bound woman. Something warned

him she might represent

trouble but he knew

better than to speak

when others are so

adamant. Let them sort

it out. Ain’t your

mess to play with

anyway. He returned to

his packing; not that

he had much. So

he helped Balob packed

what little she had

left in a large

stained kerchief that once

looked to have belonged

on some grandee’s table.

“Is Kel leaving her

behind?” Balob asked as

they finished and she

returned to snuggling her

sleeping brother. He nestled

into her body. Hason

smiled. “Yes, little one,”

he finally said as

he searched for anyone

else to help. “Oh,

I thought she was

coming with us. Pity.”

“Why is that, Bolab?”

“Cos she’s nice. She

looks nice.” Hason’s smile

seemed to grow bigger.

“Can you tell that

just by looking at

her?” Bolab nodded. “Yes.

Can’t you see it

too?” Hason had to

admit he couldn’t get

past the fact that

underneath that warrior’s look,

their captor was quite

beautiful – in a noble

sort of way, so

he quickly conceded. He

tapped his forehead quickly.

Bolab looked at him

strangely. “What you doing?”

Her blue eyes reminded

Hason of happier days.

“It’s nothing, Bolab. Just

a personal thing I

do from time to

time. It’s to ward

off bitebacks. Know what

they are?” The little

girl shook her head.

“Are they spiders or

something?” Hason laughed. “No,

dear girl. It’s something

I will explain fully

later, in our new

place. Now if you

will excuse me, I

will go and see

if the others need

a hand. Are you

all done here though?”

Bolab looked about her,

as if checking once

more. Then she looked

at Hason and nodded

seriously.

 

LXXVII

Jhel was uncomfortable. She’d

been standing in the

dark shadows for some

time now. Something wasn’t

right and she believed

in herself enough to

trust her instincts. So

she waited. In the

street itself, the day’s

movements were busy but

not crowded like on

the main thoroughfare, nor

noisy like in the

market place and river.

The sun had already

steered long past its

jaunt in the sky

and was yawning to

its rest. People were

making their way home

now and it would

soon thin out. Still,

she waited in her

spot. The others would

be wondering where she

was, Klax especially. She’d

just returned from scouting

their new hidey hole,

a task that had

taken her all morning.

She was just slowly

returning, helping herself to

a few freebies here

and there when she

sensed something was up.

As casually as she

could, the young girl,

thin with a boy’s

cut and quick stride,

she made her way

to what she deemed

a “good spot”. There

she could observe the

area that was of

interest to her. And

that area was the

entrance to the laneway

of their present home.

Not that it wasn’t

unknown that the Ravens

had a base; but

where precisely was a

guarded secret. And Jhel

was probably one of

the more responsible of

the new Ravens. Her

adopted family. Her friends.

She had time on

her side; Klax knew

the importance of her

mission and had given

her a simple brief:

“Be careful. Make

absolutely certain before you

report back. Take as

much time as you

need. Okay?” She had

nodded her understanding and

almost sprinted out their

base. A couple of

beggars were haggling solitary

strangers. The stall holders

were already packing up.

Some waifs scurried by,

shouting and calling each

names. A few respectables

hurried by. Hardly any

paused, even to smoke

a pipe. The area

wasn’t all that safe,

and it declined as

the night descended. But

Jhel was patient. Just

then a flicker of

a light sparkled in

the area she’d been

watching. Then slowly as

if emerging from some

cocoon, two figures appeared.

One was taller than

the other; the false

night still cast some

shadows and Jhel saw

that both were male.

The shorter one was

a boy — probably of

similar age to her.

The tall man was

clothed up so that

she couldn’t get a

decent description of his

face. The smell of

pipe smoke drifted lazily

over to where she

had willed herself to

remain still. “Come, we’ll

return later.” The voice

sounded strange, almost clanky.

Like the sound made

when metal strikes one

another. Jhel’s little mind

struggled with that notion

for a moment before

she noticed they had

disappeared. Whoever they were,

she thought, they were

as silent as she.

Giving them ample time

to disappear, she listened.

The street was virtually

empty when she finally

emerged from her “good

spot” and slowly moved

to the laneway. As

she passed the spot

where felt the two

were watching, she smelt

the faint but distinct

odour of peanuts. Shelled

peanuts. Her soft boots

stepped on the shells.

She picked the crumbs

up and sniffed it.

Toasted Dubvsi peanuts. Wow,

she thought. Expensive snacks.

She looked about several

times as she resumed

her careful way down

the now-deserted laneway.

Once on the other

side of the secret

entrance, she paused to

check she wasn’t followed.

The spotter, a little

boy named Gallin, watched

her silently from his

perch near the entrance.

Satisfied that she wasn’t

followed, she waved to

Gallin and stepped through

the littered ruins and

into the slight warmth

of the Raven’s Homebase.

 

LXXVIII

“Did you recognise them?”

Klax asked as Jhel

quietly chewed her meal.

Part of the freebies

she’d liberated were some

smoked ham and cheese.

“No but there was

something strange in the

way the man spoke.

It sounded like two

hammers knocking against each

other. I’m surprised nobody

near by didn’t notice

it either.” Klax frowned.

“Clanky? Are you sure?”

Jhel nodded but continued

eating. Hason, who was

also listening spoke up.

“Metallic?” Jhel’s face seemed

to click. “Yes. Now

I think on it,

the sound was metallic.”

Hason’s face was now

alight. “That’s odd but

not exactly unheard of,”

he said. “I know

of certain peoples who

have a strange rite

whereby they alter the

insides of their mouths

to accommodate metal strips

that alters the sound

of their voice. It’s

part of their belief

system.” Klax’s young face

said plenty. “However that

is, Hase, what were

those two doing at

that intersection?” He touched

Jhel gently on the

arm. “Did they…?” She

shook her head. “I

made sure. They were

heading towards the cemetery

before I came back

here. I made double

sure at the entrance.”

Just then there was

a shout, half strangled.

Klax turned to the

sound. “The entrance! Quick!”

He was already racing

that way when several

armed men burst in.

One of them held

a bloodied Gallin round

the throat, blade point

pressed against his soft

skin. “Drop it!” the

man growled. The others

stepped round him and

spread out before racing

to grab the other

surprised children. Klax stood

there mutely watching a

few trying to escape.

But the ruffians were

thorough. Hason, though, sprinted

towards the main entrance.

But another group of

men were already there.

Some held their weapons

invitingly. Hason immediately stopped

and raised his hand

to his head. “Alright,

I give up! Don’t

hurt me.” His whining

seems to take the

expected fun for the

thugs, one of whom

calmly walked up and

doofed Hason on the

head. He collapsed instantly.

When the screaming had

abated, Klax finally reacted.

He looked up and

saw a familiar face.

“Yo, Brokis, why are

you doing this? This

is our turf. You…”

Brokis marched up and

punched Klax squarely, knocking

him down. Blood ran

from his cut mouth.

“Hello to you too,”

was all Klax could

say before Brokis knocked

him unconscious. Pleased with

his effort, the thug

looked around the room.

He saw another open

space but then turned

back. “Let’s go. Boss

will be waiting for

us.  Hurry up!”

 

© 2017 L. Tafa

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Author: b20f08

I enjoy solo wargaming and writing. The first caters to the boy that never grew up; the latter satisfies a deep desire to communicate. Cheers.

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