Chapter 28 (Catching up)
Jekor opened his mouth to ask another question, probably his millionth.
Whinnying screams echoed in the distance.
His mouth snapped shut. I should stop bothering her. The memory is clearly painful. He glanced at her from the corner of his eye. I should be comforting her, but something deep down just want to write it all down. And how can I do that if I don’t know the whole story? He bit into his lower-lip.
Bang! What was going on?
Jekor snapped his reins and set his horse into a gallop. He glanced left then right. “That has to be —”
Bang! A second gunshot rang across the open wastes.
Jekor pulled his horse to a stop and pointed towards a large hill. “There.”
Ikiffar turned her horse and trotted off towards the hill without saying a word. Her downcast eyes and tight grip on the reins made her appear small. Was she scared? Or upset that he had asked so many questions?
“I’m sorry,” he said.
Tears welled up in her beautiful black eyes.
Pain spiked into his chest. “I didn’t mean to pester you with so many questions.”
She shook her head. “I should be the one apologizing.”
“Not at all.”
“For all that you did for me, I repaid you with lies.”
“No. For all that you went through, it was the least I could do for you.” Jekor placed a hand atop hers and smiled. “Don’t cry. I’m here for you now.” That sounded really corny.
She wiped her eyes, and her lips turned up into a smile. “Thank you.”
Bang! A third gunshot? What were Kkaj and his women fighting against?
Ikiffar glanced towards the sound. “Do you really think he will reveal the other members of the Empty Bottle Cult? Even if we torture him?”
Torture? Icy fingers raced down his spine, and he shivered. “He will tell us. Though, I think there are better ways to make those responsible pay for what they did.”
“No.” She gritted her teeth. “Their lives are the only payment I seek.”
Jekor found himself nodding, unable to argue with what was owed to her. “Let’s hurry up that hill and set up camp. We should be able to use your spyglass to see what’s going on.”
They held hands and rode in silence to the top of the hill. After tying the horses to a stump of a tree-like thing, the started a small fire. Using rocks, the create a wall to prevent the firelight from giving their position away. A cold wind rips across the top of the hill.
A grin crossed Jekor’s face. “Still not used to the waste’s freezing cold nights?”
She bit into her lower-lip. “How could I be?”
“Then come sit by the fire.”
“One moment.” She pulled out her spyglass and extended it. “I have to make sure my target is down there.”
Target, huh? Jekor grabbed his vodka flask and took a shot. As his master’s letter indicated, he folded the earth energy in on itself and crafted grains. He repeated the process until he had two sacks of grain to feed the horses.
Ikiffar glared at the fire below, and a rumbling growl climbed up her throat.
Jekor strolled to her side and patted her on the back. “Calm down.”
“How can I calm down with that bastard so close?”
“By taking a deep breath.”
Her jaw relaxed. She inhaled through her nose and exhaled from her mouth several times before the tension in her muscles vanished. A sigh deflated her lungs then she smiled. “Thank you.”
“You seem to be saying that a lot recently.” He leaned over and kissed her on the forehead.
“I could say it in a different way.”
Her smile turned into a lopsided smirk.
He opened his mouth to question her. He was clearly no relationship expert.
Ikiffar wrapped her hands around his neck and pulled him into a kiss, thrusting her tongue into his gaping mouth.
His body melted in her embrace. The world around them vanished, and he found himself moaning. When she pulled away, his chest heaved for air, and his heart raced.
She glanced towards Kkaj’s fire. “Maybe I should just give up.”
“No.” Jekor placed his hands atop hers. “Though, I do think you should change how you’re going about it.”
“Change? I think you’re right.”
“If we could get enough Lucidity … .”
“Then, even if Kkaj doesn’t talk, we will be able to use its power to discover the true culprits behind the desolation.”
Not exactly what I had in mind. “Something like that.”
Her stomach grumbled, and she looked towards the fire.
Jekor grinned. “I’ll heat up some food.”
“Thank —” She burst into laughter.
He made his way to the fire and set a pair of spits over it. He skewered dried meat and onions then placed them on the spits.
Ikiffar once again studied Kkaj’s camp. She nodded. “There it is. I guess it’s time to make a change.” Her left arm twitched, and the spyglass turned to the north, deeper into the wastes. She gasped. “Impossible.”
“What is it?” Jekor turned the skewers. Should he go have a look?
“A-a-a nightmare. A m-m-massive nightmare.”
“What could —”
“Something with black scales and a massive jaw.” She scrambled to her feet and grabbed her long-barreled rifle. “I won’t let that monster have him.”
Monster? Black scales? Massive — “A crocobear!” Jekor drank tequila and snuffed out their fire. Shit! Has it already caught our scent? “We need to —”
Ikiffar gulped down some whiskey then, holding the spyglass above the sight, took aim. Was she going to wait for the crocobear to get closer to Kkaj’s camp before taking a shot?
Jekor stepped forward.
Ba-bang! She pulled the trigger and used the metal energy to shove the bullet. The echoing crack filled the night, and she leaped into her saddle. “Rotten meat! I missed!” She waved at Jekor. “Let’s go!”
Jekor stumbled to his horse, unable to bind his thoughts together.
Next: Chapter 29