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 Betrayal is in the Air. This is 598 words. You can read Episode 1 here and Episode 2 here. For more information on the upcoming expanded edition of this that will be released as Kindle Single, check out my Kayson Cycle page.
Episode 3: The Death-Dealer
Our party laid face-down in the dust, waiting for the tribesmen standing over us to render our fate. It seemed they had only shot to kill Marie, but they had failed, as she still writhed in the dirt behind us, cursing their names.
The men showered us with lewd comments rather than lead; the empty promises of empty men that fell silent when they heard an approaching horse. Those promises were rumors on the wind by the time the man riding that horse stepped down into the dust.
He didn’t say anything, but I could feel his eyes crawling over us – and his men. Without a single word, he moseyed over to the shack.
He stopped before Marie and knelt, murmuring something to Marie. She went silent.
I recognized his voice.
Naw. Can’t be.
Two shots pierced the wind, and Marie was silenced forever.
He stomped back to us, stopping before the Stranger.
“I thought we had a deal,” he said.
“We do,” The Stranger replied.
“That’s funny, because I thought you were to fetch my prodigal brother, not deliver him to our enemies.”
So that’s how it was. This had never been about finding Jeffrey. It had been about finding me.
Jeffrey went on. “Mind telling me why you brought him to consort with that she-bitch?”
“We didn’t think-”
“Clearly you didn’t. You must be brain-dead to believe I would heal her once you’d set him up to kill me.”
The Stranger said nothing.
“That, or you take me for an idiot. You’ll learn, though.” He took a step toward me. “And you, brother. I’ve been looking long and hard for your sorry ass.”
“Wasn’t exactly hiding,” I said.
“You went to Renaissance. The one place that our people cannot enter. Now why would you hide there?”
“They’re not your people,” I said.
“They are our people. Papa’s people.”
I laughed; it was a mistake. He kicked me in the ribs.
“The fuck you think’s so funny?” he asked.
I rolled on my side, coughing blood. “That was a story Papa told you to make you feel better, so you’d think we were better than what we were.”
“Then how come they got a record of the Kayson family?” he said.
“Think for a second. If they’re our people, how could I enter Renaissance?”
“You know it has nothing to do with our blood. It has to do with our rights.”
“Think whatever you want,” I said.
He went quiet. I waited for another kick, but. instead he went to his horse and climbed up. “Upright the cart and hitch it to one of our horses,” he said. “Load them on it.” He looked back to me. “You’re in luck.”
“Am I now?” I said as one of the men hauled me to my feet.
“We’re going to take a little trip into the desert. Jedediah?”
“Yes sir?” said the man who’d hauled me up.
“Remove that amulet.”
“Sir, I can’t-”
“How hard is this? Just remove it,” Jeffrey said.
Sheer terror blazed in the man’s eyes.
Jeffrey brought his horse around to face us. “Do we have a problem here?”
“No problem,” Jedediah said, and reached for the amulet. A flash of white light blinded me, and in the next breath his body was rendered ash, with a hint of a glowing molten core beneath. That lasted a second before he collapsed into a pile of dust.
“Well, shit,” Jeffrey said. “Fine then, get him in the cart.” He met my eyes. “We’re going to complete the Cycle. Be ready to finish what you started.”