The Unabridged Story of how Jack Clawtooth gets back his family. Published.
|As Jack held onto his cards, barely even looking at them, he looked into the eyes of the three other players, a naga, who was the Sheriff of the town he was in, a dragon, who was the owner of the saloon he was in, and a dridder, who was the mayor of the town, the werewolf, in human form, longed to draw his revolver and fill the three of them full of lead then and there, as the naga had turned his son, a seven year old werewolf, into a mere shell of himself, as had the dragon with his daughter. As for the dridder, he'd married his wife, and gotten her pregnant, and caused her to give birth to HIS daughter, who had a sad look on her face, as if she felt bad for some reason. However, he kept his free hand on the table, and watched them.
"Two aces, and two kings," said the mayor.
"That beats my hand," said the Sheriff.
"Likewise," said the saloon owner.
"Well, what about you Jacob?" the dridder asked, looking at Jack, as Jack had given him a false name when he introduced himself to the three. "Are you still in?"
"All the way," Jack thought, but out loud he said, "Would of had a Royal Flush, except for the fact that I'm missing the King of Hearts. I guess that you have him."
"You have that right," the dridder said, with a chuckle, as he showed him his cards, except for one. "I guess I win."
"Not quite buddy," Jack said. "I have a Straight Flush, and if I know my rules, a flush beats a Full House, unless you have three aces. So, what's the fifth card?"
At this, the dridder flipped the card, revealing it to be the King of Spades.
"Like I said," Jack said, putting down a Queen, Jack, ten, nine, and eight, all hearts. "I have a flush. I win this hand."
"First time that I've lost in a while Jacob," the dridder said, with a chuckle.
"That's funny," Jack said, with a chuckle of his own, as he carefully moved the pot near him. "It's the first time that I've won in a while myself."
"Well, do you want to go again?" the dridder asked.
"Well, as much as I want to," Jack said. "I have some business to take care of. After all, me and my young partners need to get supplies before we get back to the Double D. Then again, while I'm the foreman, the Boss is someone that I don't want to anger."
"I understand that," the dridder said. "After all, it wouldn't be good if a man's underlings just did as they pleased."
"Yeah, but do you want to know what I really hate?" Jack asked.
"What is that?" the man asked.
"A man who steals another's wife and sells the guy's kids as slaves or pets," Jack said, as he pocketed the money he had won. "When Jane Greenscale's husband, a fella by the name of Jack Clawtooth, finds out where she and his children are at, he'll show up, and he will fight you, just to let you know."
"Like I'm worried about a pathetic fleabag who couldn't control his wife," the mayor said, with a wicked chuckle. "He's nothing to me. I'll eat him with no problems, as he's got nothing compared to me. I have over a hundred men to do my bidding. What is one man against all of that?"
"A very dangerous man," Jack said. "I fought alongside of him during the war, during the Battle of Gettysburg, at Little Round Top. He took out a hundred giants, all by himself. Of course, you don't have to worry about me telling him about you, as I'd be happy to see him dead, but I can't just kill him, not without raising suspicion, as everyone who works at the Double D knows that we hate each other, and if he died suddenly, blame would be put on me, and I'd be out of a job to say the least, as he is just under me in position. However, if someone else did the job, like say one of your Sheriff's Deputies; it would solve both of our problems. After all, your Deputy could just say that he was resisting arrest."
"Thanks for the information Jacob," the mayor said, with a chuckle. "We'll see that both of our problems are solved."
"You are welcome," Jack said, as he got to the counter, and told the young ones that it was time to leave the saloon.
"What was that poker game about?" Lahorn asked, after the group left the saloon. "And why did that dridder call you by our Foreman's name?"
"Because that's what I told him my name was," Jack said. "It wouldn't do me much good to say, 'Give me back my wife and kids you good-for-nothing-sidewinders.' as that would of gotten my head bit clean off of me, and you boys would be on the run."
Suddenly, a click is heard, and a young voice says, "I'm going to kill you for shooting my brother Dog. You'll pay for what you did to his arm."
"Kid, if you think that killing me will fix your brother's arm, go right ahead," Jack said, as he turned around to see a fourteen year old rakshasa boy aiming a Spencer rifle at his head. "However, once you pull that trigger, there is no going back. You will have to live with the fact that you killed a man who could of killed your brother, but didn't. Also, you'd be marked wherever you go."
"What are you talking about?" the boy asked. "I won't be marked at all."
"Oh yes you will boy," Jack said, as he walked up to him, and took the rifle from his trembling hands. "I know from personal experience. I've killed dozens of men over the years, and each of them marks me in some small way, especially one that I killed three years ago. That one cost me my wife and kids, and made me a wanted man in my home state. That is something that you don't want. Besides, your eyes tell me that you are no killer, and that you don't have the stomach to kill, or eat, people. Stay that way, as there are times that I wish that I was that way again. That way I wouldn't have the guilt that I have. Now go on home, and fix your brother up."
With that, the boy started running, never looking back.
"What did you tell him that made him run like his tail was on fire?" Lefleet asked, as Jack smashed the rifle over a hitching post and wrapped the barrel around it.
"I told him some very important advice," Jack said, as he walked back over to the centaur and minotaur. "I told him that killing me wouldn't solve anything."
"There would be those who'd say otherwise," Lahorn said.
"Yeah, but they would be wrong," Jack said. "In the end, no one wins in a fight."
"So what about those three that you played poker with?" Lahorn asked. "Are they the ones who have your family?"
"Yeah," Jack said. "That whore that I saved told me what happened, and that young human woman and that young werewolf boy that were with those three are my daughter and son respectively."
"Then why didn't you fill 'em full of lead?" the young minotaur asked. "That's what I would of done if it was my kin being held like that."
"And I would of been gunned down in two seconds, with you boys following close behind me," Jack said, as he looked at the young man. "You have no idea about the amount of control it took me to not just kill them then and there. However, I needed information, like how many men work for them, which is over a hundred. However, when I do kill them, it will be one on one for each of them, and I'll make sure that they know who I am, and why."
"So when are you going to do it?" Lefleet asked.
"Let me say this," Jack said. "By this time next week, those three will be dead, and my family, including my wife's daughter, will be free of those monsters."
"So, how are you going to do it?" Lahorn asked.
"Lahorn, how good is your Sioux?"
"It's passable," the young minotaur said. "Why do you want to know?"
"I need you to go to Red Horn's encampment, and tell him that his Blood-brother, Wolf-Who-Looks-Human, needs help in getting his stolen family back," Jack said. "As a father, he will understand, especially since I saved his daughter."
"Are you serious about me getting that injin's help?" Lahorn asked.
"Very," Jack said. "If only half of the stuff they say about him and his warriors is true, he is perfect for the job I want him to do, which is basically encircle the town, and fire an arrow or two every few hours, aiming purposefully for the walls of the buildings, and not kill anyone, and keep people from coming or going, until I say otherwise. Are you capable of telling him that?"
"Yeah, I can do that Jack," said Lahorn. "Though I won't like talkin to that injin."
"Deal with it kid," Jack said. "Because I want you to stay with them until it is over. You are to leave town tonight, and don't let anyone follow you. If you are, lose them before you get to Red Horn's encampment."
"What about me?" Lefleet asked. "What do you want me to do?"
"I want you to head to the Double D," Jack said. "Tell Jacob that I found something that might concern him in town, and to get here as fast as possible, as it is a matter of Life or Death. Also, tell the rest that there is a group of rustlers in this town who just stole the cattle, and I'm trying to get them back, by any means necessary."
"And what will you be doing while we do this?" Lahorn asked.
"I'll do what I have to," Jack said. "However, until tonight, we'll act like regular cowhands, who are in town to get supplies, and to have a good time. Get the picture."
"Good," Jack said. "Now, I want you to go to the general store, and pick up some supplies, and I'll go to the Sheriff's office, and implement the first part of the plan."
"What would that be?" Lahorn asked.
"It's best if I don't say what it is," Jack said. "But it will kill two birds with one stone. We'll meet up in that hotel over there in an hour."
"Alright," Lahorn said.
"You just be careful Jack," Lefleet said, as the two young men walked away from the werewolf.
An hour later, after conducting his business at the Sheriff's office, which told the deputy who'd bothered the group when the three had entered town, to head to the east, looking for "Jack", and breaking the hotel owner's nose when he tried to tell him that humans were not allowed in the place, Jack entered the room, to see the young ones arguing over something.
"I told you not to buy it!" Lahorn shouted.
"Well I wasn't going to let that guy eat HIM!" Lefleet shouted back.
"Then why'd you give him fifty dollars instead of filling him full of LEAD?" Lahorn shouted back.
"Because Jack told us not to cause trouble!" Lefleet shouted back.
"Boys, what's going on?" Jack asked, as he came between the two, who were about to come to blows. "You're acting like two schoolboys arguing over a girl. So what is the Matter?"
"Nuthin," Lahorn said. "Except for the fact that this horsebrain here just had to buy that nigger boy over there."
At this, Jack looked over in a corner that Lahorn was pointing at and saw a young fourteen year old dark-skinned human boy, huddled in it, as if trying to hide himself from view. However, as Jack walked towards the young man, and looked into his eyes, he saw something that made him smile.
"Did you really spend fifty dollars for this boy?" Jack asked, as he looked at Lefleet.
"Yeah," the young centaur said, as he lowered his head. "It's just that, he reminded me of James and-"
"Well whatever the reason, you should not of spent fifty dollars for him."
"Told you horsebrains."
"No, you should of spent, at least, a thousand dollars for him."
At this, Jack smiled, when he saw the confusion on his friends faces.
"You boys don't know what you have here do you?" he asked. "Well let me tell you, this young man is a Witch Doctor."
"A what?" Lahorn asked. "I've heard of doctors and witches, but never a doctor who dealt with witches."
"I don't think that's what he's talking about," Lefleet said, as he took another look at the boy he'd bought. "From what I've heard, Witch Doctors are low-level magic users. Am I right Jack?"
"You have that right kid," Jack said. "And while a wizard can claim to be the most powerful of them, in truth, it is a Witch Doctor who is the most powerful. While their spells are not huge on their own, or visible, their effects are lasting."
"What do you mean?" Lahorn asked.
"A town that hasn't seen rain in years can suddenly find a gentle rain shower forming overhead after a Witch Doctor visited the place the previous week, and was treated kindly by the people there," Jack said. "Or a place that was once fertile could find itself barren of plants, animals, and water, after they abused one the previous month. Also, their spells, be they curses or blessings, or both, can last for generations, providing that there is one person of the target's bloodline, as well as that of the Witch Doctor, alive."
"What do you mean by that?" Lahorn asked.
"I heard of a noble family that suffered from bad luck for nearly a hundred years, because the head of the family refused to give a Witch Doctor a simple drink of water," Jack said. "Well one day, that guy's grandkid, or whatever, went to this out of the way village, so that he could get some supplies. While he was there, he saw an old woman that had collapsed near the well, dying of thirst. Well this young man went up to the well, and carefully lowered a bucket, and raised it back up, and let the woman drink her fill. Next thing you know, he found a chest of gold that was in the middle of the road, with a note that said, 'I hope that this makes up for all of the bad luck your family has had to endure over the years. Thank you for your kindness young man.' Well, as it turns out, that old woman had been the Witch Doctor who'd cursed his family in the first place, all over a simple drink of water."
"Are you serious about that?" Lahorn asked.
"Very," Jack said, with a smile. "I'm a direct kin to that Witch Doctor. Of course, she had a daughter who married a werewolf, and well, until recently, no one in my family was capable of using the magic."
"What do you mean by, until recently?" Lahorn asked.
"My daughter has the gift," Jack said. "Because of the fact that she was born human instead of a werewolf, the magic that lays dormant in my blood has awakened in her. Me and Jane were going to send her to a school for magic users when, well, her uncle was killed and my family moved out here. From what I can tell, that dridder doesn't know about it, otherwise he'd of killed her beforehand, as she doesn't know what she is yet. But once she does, he'd better watch out."
"How come?" Lefleet asked.
"Because of the fact that I'm going to do something to wake my son and daughter up tonight just before the two of you leave," Jack said. "I'm going to teach this boy a simple dream spell, and put my image in their heads, and tell them that I'm coming for them, and to be ready. Then Lahorn, I need you to take him with you when you go to Red Horn's encampment."
"And why should I take this nigger with me?" Lahorn asked angrily. "It's bad enough that you want me to stay with them injins, but this is-"
"An order as your superior," Jack said, as he looked the minotaur in the eyes. "I am just under Jacob when it comes to the Double D you know, and this concerns the Double D big time. When I was done at the Sheriff's office, I went to check on the cattle. They were stolen, and I tracked them to one cattle pen in town. However, it is heavily guarded, by almost twenty giants, most of them former soldiers from the looks of them. In fact, I recognized one of them, but since I didn't get too close to them, he didn't see me. Anyways, that boy will have to be someplace safe, and that place is with you. You are to treat him as if he was your kid brother."
"Then why don't you have him travel with horsebrains here?" Lahorn said, pointing at Lefleet. "He's the one who bought him."
"For a very simple reason," Jack said. "The boy looks exactly like James, Lefleet's old friend. I don't want him to do something that he'll regret if something happened to him, as I don't want him to rape the boy if he saw James instead of the boy. Get the picture?"
"I getch ya," Lahorn said.
"Are you alright with that Lefleet?" Jack asked, looking at the centaur.
"Yeah," the young man said. "I don't want what happened to James to happen to him."
"Good," Jack said. "Now, let's get to work. After all, this won't be easy to say the least."
For the rest of the day, as Lahorn and Lefleet prepared themselves for travel, Jack taught the young Witch Doctor the spell he needed. It had taken a while to gain the young man's trust, which wasn't easy but it paid off in the end, when Jack sent his message to his kids, who wouldn't remember any of it until it was time to act.
"Alright you three," he said shortly after midnight. "Remember to be careful out there. I wish you the best of luck. And may some luck be on our side."
With that, the three young ones took off, leaving Jack alone in the town of a man who had his wife and kids.