Wild Western: Confederate Rose #4
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Wreck of the SS Helena, Washington Territory - 1865
The black coach stopped just short of the wreck of the SS Helena, the former clipper sitting perched on the hill side, as the passengers disembarked. The two men dressed in leathers, kept their guns trained on the next passenger, as the driver, a hooded man dressed in black, save for a white beak like mask dropped down to stand beside them.
“Get out missy!!” One of the men bellows, his hand resting on his pistol. Delicately, the woman inside stepped out before putting her hands on her hips, and shaking her head in disgust.
“I don’t know why you have brought me here.” The lady states, in a Louisiana accent, “But you have made a terrible mistake in doing so.” She adds, before holding out her hands and squinting.
“Witch, your powers have abandoned you.” The man in the raven mask crows, as he removed a long pole hook from beneath his cloak and closes the carriage doors. “In time it will return, but until then you are a mortal maid.”
“Well ain’t that fortunate Able.” One of the gunmen snorts, as he pushed the woman in the back. “Sam and his sons would do worse then kill us if we brought him a powered witch.”
“Aye Quincy, just a shame Barton jumped the gun or he’d be here as well.” Able grunts, as the group of four heads towards the wreck of the Helena. As they neared the group stopped, as two thin figures squeezed out of the stone underneath, their bodies clad in bone armour, whilst their beetle black eyes glowered up at the arrivals. Both of them had long stringy black hair and grey skin marred with cuts and notches, some that went through the muscle all the way down to their bones.
“We bring Holtz’s debt.” Able announced, as Quincy pushed the woman forward. “It’s a witch according to Coachman over there.”
“I’ll say what it is and what it ain’t.” One of the short figures growled, as he removed a cut down pike and poked the woman with the haft of the weapon. “Sam likes them with names, what’s your name miss?”
“Rose Mulholland,” The woman replied, “not that a filthy band of Orkney Trows far from home, would know the power behind that title.” She added, before getting a pistol shoved in the back of here skull by Quincy.
“Me brother and me don’t care about names of power, we cares about nothing save our selves and out family.” The second Trow spluttered, as his skin began to blister. “Bring the mouthy harlot inside before the Sun does us in.” He ordered, as he and his brother retreated into the rock. Moving forward Coachman reached up with his staff, and plunged the hook into the wood before drawing it down, the timbers shifting slightly to reveal the edge of a door. Slipping his hand inside, Able opened it and the group moved inside, with Coachman closing the door behind them.
For a brief second or two, after the door closed, all was dark, before a radiant purple light illuminated the chamber the group found themselves in. While the room had once been a storehouse, the chamber now was furnished like a hotel lounge, random stools and chairs set around stumpy tables that gleamed under the light of a rose-quartz chandelier. That said the room was almost abandoned, with only a few Trows slumming in the corners furthest away from the chandeliers radiance.
“Father will be here soon, he’s just finishing up below decks.” One of the Trows hissed, as the other occupants of the rundown room got to there feet, and readied the wide array of weapons they had. “Here’s here, so remember don’t try anything and you won’t join the wall.” He warned, as a Trow, a good foot and a half taller then the rest, waddled into the room followed by a lithe harpy, her red flecked wings folded behind her back.
“Who is this?” The new Trow asked, his tone reeking of boredom as he looked around the room.
“Holtz’s debt, he paid with a witch Sam.” Quincy snorted, as the Harpy walked over and ran her taloned hands up Rose’s neck, a single drop of blood gleaming on the tips. Flicking her hand, the Harpy turned to Rose and spat on her face, before slamming Quincy against the wall.
“Hmm Angelique doesn’t agree with your statement.” The larger Trow hissed, before turning to face away from the main floor, the back of his misshapen head penetrated by a silver bladed hatchet stuck in his skull. “You think I’m an idiot because I got scalped Quince. Don’t answer I know you do, stupid Sam won’t know I’ve been slacking off in the whore house instead of picking up debts.”
“No it’s not…” Quincy spluttered, only to be stopped as Angelique uttered a shrill piercing whistle. “Oh no please not him Sam, I swear…” He spluttered, as a hole in the floor opened up, and a massive hand appeared over the edge, massive fingers grabbing Quincy’s leg and dragging him down into the pit. For a almost a minute, the sound of desperate screams and wild bullet shots echoed up from the hole, only for both to be silence by an inhuman roar, and the crack of something breaking.
“That missy is a skoocoom, nasty fella with nasty ideas on how to treat folk.” Sam stated, as he turned back to face the room. “Quincy knew that when he lied to me, so its only fair that you do too.”
“I can see you’re a fair man sir.” Rose purred, as the whole in the floor closed and several of the Trows started exchanging coins and gemstones with each other over the result of Quincy’s execution.
“Ah a swamp girl, you little minxes are always so entertaining.” Sam cackled, as he rubbed his hands together with glee. “Like opening a chest of looted gold for the first time, all that excitement and suspense. Course that won’t spare you if you happen to lie to me.”
“She is a witch; you know that my kind could sense magic of all kinds.” Coachman muttered, as he shot a piercing look at Angelique. Sam cocked his head, before scratching his chin, his nostrils flared.
“Well now I feel bad about poor Quince, not enough to check if he’s okay you understand, but defiantly enough to dust off his family and hang them over the bar for a week.” Sam lamented, before clicking his fingers, a few of the Trows running of to the bar and un-hanging the mounted wolf heads, whilst a few others left the room entirely. “Got those shortly after I got this.” He announced as he tapped the hatchet, as Rose watch the activity around the room. “It’s not as good a story as this un.” He hissed, “Back before the war I hunted men for sport and money, got a real good target too this guy called Foggy Morgans, a singer on a paddle ship…”
“I thought it was Morgan Fogg, that old red skin who half the…” A Trow interrupted, only to be silenced as Sam walked up towards him and ripped his head off.
“I don't like being interrupted, and it don’t matter anyways, all we need to know is the name of yer coven and if your marked.” Sam hissed, as he walked up to Rose.
“She has no coven and she isn’t marked.” Coachman whispered, as Rose grunted in pain, before falling to her knees, a black scar shaped like a crow, its wings outspread appeared on her neck.
“She is now.” Angelique purred, “Which means her value has sky-rocketed.”
Utah Territory - 1865
Whittaker rubbed his hands, before getting to his feet and kicking out the fire. Walking over to Tolliver and his female partner, the pair of them standing with their arms crossed.
“She’s marked; we can follow her everywhere she goes.” Whittaker grunted, as the Union soldiers that had accompanied them began to stir and head towards the road.
“Then the next action should be to determine what kind of witch she is.” Tolliver announced, “From what our friend told us, it sounds like we are facing a powerful conjurer, although we had inkling of that after Briar’s statement.”
“Mr Hopkins, this witch isn’t the only enemy we will face,” The woman with a flower brand stated, “there is also the Grey Ghost, should he know of her location, will also be hunting for her, and while he isn’t a sorcerer, he does contain a dark power.” She added, as the sounds of gunshots sounded, accompanied by the clatter of a Williams Gun. Running to the front line, the trio of witch hunters raised their weapons as a unit of grey clad rifle men opened fire from the road.
“Sir with all due respect the Union is…” The Union Captain stated, as Tolliver opened fire with his pistols, the first two shots hitting a grenadier, his body rolling down the slope, as more Confederate troopers surged forwards, their hands clenched around sabres and pikes.
“These men harbour devil’s daughters and constructs of witchcraft.” Tolliver answered, as Whittaker snatched a rifle with a bayonet attached from a Union soldier, and threw it at the operator of the Williams Gun, his body drooping over the canon. “Besides Captain, we will need all the men you can spare by journeys end.” He added, as Briar lashed out with a barbed whip, a wall of thorns growing within the Confederate ranks, screams replacing gunshots as those troops that could retreat, fled into the hills.
Spinning around, the Captain held his sabre at Tolliver’s neck; his hands wavering as his men half-heartedly pursued the routing Confederates. “You were contracted to hunt witches, yet you have one in your very ranks!!”
“Nay, she isn’t a witch, but rather a victim of witchcraft.” Tolliver answered, as he pushed the sabre away. “There is much about Briar, that appears to be witchcraft, yet it isn’t her own but rather her mothers. She cursed her daughter to be a flower surrounded by a wall of thorns, using vile magic to torture her husband who lover her very much. It is her spells that you saw in action tonight. Her mother’s death will remove the curse, and restore her beauty; as such it is my duty to restore her. If you have any honour you and your men will aid us in our task.”
“So where is this witch?” The Captain asked, as his men gathered around him.
“They are on a hillside in Washington.” Whittaker hissed, “And if we leave within the hour we can be there by daybreak tomorrow.”
“That’s impossible.” The Captain spat, as he shot a look at the impaled men on the thorns blocking the pass.
“Not if your men remain strong and faithful.” Tolliver answered grimly, “And as long as they don’t fear death.”