Being insane, I signed up to participate in a blogfest/challenge in which we write four entries set in a shared world, Renaissance. You can read more about it here, or on any other number of great writing blogs.
My chosen prompt this week was Someone is killed or almost killed. This is 595 words. Read Episode 1 here.
Episode 2: The Oracle
We reached the shack on the edge of the desert right around mid-day. It looked like just about any other shack you’d see out there: rusted out, wobbly, the kind of thing a miner would build on the way out of town. The mid-point of the transition between town and…well, where-ever the miners ended up those days.
The Stranger and the Wife had, for the most part, been quiet traveling companions. She was a friendly sort, a stiff-upper-lip type of gal who greeted me with a pretty little smile when we met up behind the church and called me by my name regular, though having been part of show business, I knew that was a way to gain folks’ confidence. This left me with some questions about the woman, you see.
The Stranger hadn’t said much more since what he had said at the Tavern, but then again, I reckon there wasn’t much that needed to be said. I’d rode their fine roan horse alongside their cart, right out into the desert, trusting that they knew what they were doing.
About the time we pulled up to the shack, leaving a trail of dust behind us, the door popped open, and out walked the most beautiful woman I ever had seen, and I’d seen a few in my day. She had long black hair and creamy skin, which made me wonder how she’d lived out here and found it tolerable. She also had icy blue eyes that she’d framed with some sort of red clay spread from one side of her eyes to the other.
I looked to the Stranger. “What have you gotten me into here?”
“Never you worry about it.” He nodded to her. “Afternoon, Marie.”
“Good afternoon.” She had a thick accent, one that rolled that r like a barrel rolling down the river.
“We’ve come for the blessing.”
She looked at me.
“He’s the brother, all right,” the Stranger said.
She put her hands on her hips. “My people revere your brother.”
“That’s as may be, but he’s hardly worthy of reverence,” I said.
“Of course. Why do you think I live where I do? But silence. Enough of this. You have a job to do.”
“Do I now.”
She didn’t answer; instead, she reached into a pouch on her pocket, producing a big gold amulet, the brightest, shiniest thing, catching the rays of sun and making them explode.
“What is that thing?” I asked the Stranger.
“Just shut up and take it,” he said.
She approached my horse, extending the amulet, her head inclined. “It seems you are to be the savior of my people. In the name of the Mothers, I present this to you.”
“I don’t know if-”
“Just let the woman do her thing,” the Wife said.
Marie looked up at me. “You will need this amulet to defeat him. Take it.”
“All right.” I took it. “I reckon it can’t hurt.” I hung it around my neck.
“More than not hurt. We’ve gotta have every advantage we can get,” the Wife said.
“You must help. My people are lost,” Marie said.
That’s when the shots exploded around us, the first few missing clanging into the shack, then one finding its mark, dropping Marie hard to the dirt. The Stranger’s horse reared up, throwing he and the Wife out the back and onto the ground.
I jumped off the roan and ran for the shelter of the cart, just in time to spot a band of men on horses on the horizon.
“They’ve come,” Marie choked.