Wild Western: Confederate Rose #3
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Utah Territory – 1865
The beaten and broken Union troops slunk away from the grey skinned man, his face dripping with blood as he licked his sunken lips with a barbed tongue. With a snort, he turned to face the three figures sitting around the campfire. One of them wore a hood, his entire body covered although there was the stench of death radiating off of him.
“Would you please not stare.” A strict upper class British accented voice ordered, “Mr Whitaker is a little conscious about his image.” Narrowing his eyes, the Seminole squinted at the man with shoulder length brown hair, dressed in leather pants and jerkin, a pair of pistols resting on his gun belt. “Your name is Shakkoth, one of the last of the warrior priests of the Creek faction of the Seminole race?”
“How do you know me English?” Shakkoth hissed, as a wasp ran across his forehead, before crawling into his ear.
“It’s my job to recognize the victims of witchcraft.” The man stated, “But I must apologise, I have you at a disadvantage, my name is Tolliver Hopkins, descendant of Matthew Hopkins, Britain’s shield against the evils of sorcery. I assume that you are now feeling rather uncomfortable right now. You may rest assured I look for someone other then you.”
“Really oh witch-hunter, then why do you consort with flesh tainted by the slaves heathen gods, and the daughter of the spider?” Shakkoth snarled, as he glowered at the red haired woman dressed in a black blouse and a pair of silver breeches, her cheek supporting a flower like brand.
“The victims of witchcraft are often the most reliable allies against hags and charlatans alike.” Tolliver answered, with a smile. “But what we hunt is not a mere witch is she.”
“You ride with the Yankees who destroyed my peoples culture, she may have scared me but the men you ride with destroyed my people's culture and honour.” Shakkoth stated, as he grabbed the cleaver, and threw it at Whittaker, the blade slashing through the cloak, to reveal a dark skinned man sitting there, his head sunk into his chest.
“Sir if I may speak,” Whittaker coughed, “I think our guest could do with having his toes dangled in the fire.”
“At ease friend,” Tolliver ordered, as he put a reassuring hand on Whittaker’s shoulder, before handing him his cloak back. “If you doubt, that we have your best interests, I can put your mind at ease. My ancestors took many a witch to the gallows regardless of whether they were genuine hags, charlatan magicians or poor lassies marred with the accusations of their neighbours.” He added, as the red haired woman cocking her head to one side, “I however, represent a very different man, one who understands the true nature of witchcraft. The type you practice is your own, but our quarry is a lapsed Catholic and has supped from the devil’s breast. She is our quarry not you, now tell us what do you know of the witch Rose Mulholland?”
Fort Nisqually, Washington Territory
Rose looked around the saloon, at the various gamblers, miners and ne'er do wells that frequented places like this. And while she could sense the predatory instinct washing off the crowd, she was only interested in one man in the entire place. That man was sitting in the corner, dressed in a black frock coat, trousers and top hat, a pair of glasses on his face. Walking through the room, she sat down on the table and cocked her head to one side, as the man she was meeting finished his whisky.
“So Ms. Mulholland, what have you brought to trade for what you need?” The man hissed, as he flashed her a smile, his teeth crooked and stained yellow by age and nicotine.
“Why sir, have you not heard, there should be getting an increase in business soon.” Rose answered sweetly, as two men stood behind her, a pair of pistols pressed against her head. “Ah these yours?” She asked, as her host took another sip out of his glass.
“They will be.” The man stated, “Gentlemen, and I use that term loosely, I would suggest withdrawing. As this town’s undertaker I can say that, if you don’t you’ll never leave this bar alive.” The two men looked at each other, before retreating. “If what you tell me is true then I won’t need those idiots gracing my establishment anytime soon.” He added, as a rifle shot sounded, shattering the Undertaker’s glass, the two men now joined with a third, his hands clenched around a battered Sharps Rifle. “Ah my dear, would you please deal with these idiots.”
Rolling her eyes, Rose got to her feet and stood aside, the thugs keeping their weapons trained on the Undertaker. “Go ahead.” She purred, as the men looked at each other before opening fire at the same moment Rose flicked her wrist, a shower of sycamore seeds intercepting the rounds, the lead shattering into sparks that burnt into the ground. “Now do you leave Mr. Holtz to his drink, or do I have to do something unholy to you fine gentlemen?” She asked, as the men reloaded, before the pistoleros backed off, leaving the rifle man alone, a bayonet flashing on the end of his rifle.
“Holtz you butcher, you’ll pay for crossing Big Ugly Sam!!” The man yelled, as he charged towards Holtz, only for Rose to step into his path, grab the rifle and stab it into his chest before pushing him to the floor, and placing her dainty foot onto his chest.
“Who is Big Ugly Sam?” She asked Holtz.
“Local bandit, guy wants my head for his wall after I stole his wife's body.” Holtz answered, as Rose picked up the thug and gave him as kiss. For a second all was well, but then the thug began to choke before his stomach burst open, and a vine slithered out of his stomach. Backing up Rose pursed her lips, and the vine retreated back into the body and retracted up through the gullet and mouth back past her lips.
“Can I add them to my quota?” Rose asked, “They must be worth another shot at least.” She added, as a barmaid stepped over the dead body and presented Holtz with a bottle.
“Don't push me, and don't threaten me,” Holtz ordered, as he watched Rose’s finger spasm, “I am the one of three people who knows how to create what you want.”
“Actually it’s two.” Rose replied coldly, as her ring finger pulled backwards, dragging the body of a scorpion after it, the digit transforming into a needle thin tail and stinger. “I killed the Bruja of Baja last year when she backed out of a deal.”
“Well you don't have to worry about that.” Holtz snorted, as he uncorked the bottle and poured the glowing blue liquid into a shot glass. “Shot of Innocence my dear?”
“It’s why I’m here.” Rose stated, as she drowned the shot, before collapsing face first into the table, a swarm of spiders flooding out of her body and burrowing into the floor in a desperate attempt to escape Rose’s body.
“Enjoy your day Ms. Mulholland.” Holtz whispered, as he waved the pistoleros slouching by the bar over. “Your payment.” He hissed, as he waved to Rose’s sleeping form. “Just be careful, she won't be like this for long.”