The usual crazy stuff happens and the return of Thunderhorn.
|The lightning bolts on the metal mask curled around the eyes and glowed softly. Silver eyes behind it rolled, and a distorted voice said, "Could you repeat that?"
The slender young woman smiled back to her ears, put her arm around the armored figure, and raised her hand to the sky. "Picture it, Silverbolt and Lady Lightning, a duo destined to destroy crime."
Silverbolt looked out the window of their room at the Fancy Falcon Inn. Toffmire was unintentional stop thanks to the moose known as Thunderhorn. It was worth it in Silverbolt eyes. His victory over the creature had earned him some respect with the common folk.
Gilda, Clara's current caretaker, and former nanny looked up from her knitting. "How do you propose to do that?"
Clara stopped and got a thoughtful expression on her face. Her finger pulled at her lip, and she scratched the top of her head. "I hadn't thought that far ahead to be honest."
Silverbolt kept watching the empty street. The night would descend on the world in a few short hours. He wanted to get out and get a bead on Jimothy, a fire starter, or someone who uses the potion known as Faerie Fire. It was the reason Silverbolt had agreed to travel with her. Clara had traced its origins to Slate Cairn.
A gentle tap snapped him out his thoughts. "What?"
"Do you think it's a good idea?"
Gilda put her hands and waved them back and forth. Her prune-like face was wild with concern. "Why do you need to do this?" Gilda responded by slapping herself in the forehead.
"I want to make a difference. I love statecraft with all my heart, but I long for adventure and to see the world. I haven't been this far out of town before. I see much that concerns me." Clara replied as she leaned against Silverbolt.
Silverbolt sat down on the simple wooden stool. "Clara, the people need you to be in that room to fight for them. I will fight for them on the streets."
Clara glared at him and turned her back to him. "Yay, I get to spend my days with stodgy old men and pervy young gentlemen who think my gender an excuse to try and bed me. You are so generous, love of my life."
Gilda picked up her knitting and walked out the door. "I will let you two lovers sort this out in private."
The pair waited for Gilda to leave to finish their conversation. Silverbolt crossed his arms. "Do you have any powers to speak of?"
Clara stood with dignity and spoke in a regal tone. "I am uncommonly beautiful."
Silverbolt clanged his hand against the metal mask. "Clara, can your uncommon beauty stop a sword or an arrow?"
"Do you have years of combat experience?"
Clara's face sagged, and she looked so sad. Silverbolt felt like he kicked a puppy in front of a kindergarten class. "No."
"Do you have any other powers other than being uncommonly beautiful?" The masked hero asked.
Clara's eyes now glistened with tears. She turned away to save face. Silverbolt took a deep breath and did something he would regret. He hugged her with genuine care and affection. It made him feel funny, and parts of him acted involuntarily. The whole experience annoyed him. He did enjoy the smell of her, though.
"Clara, if you die, the people won't have someone to fight for them. People like me are a dime a dozen. Individuals with your skill set are difficult to replace. Don't rob the people of their voice."
Clara looked up at him and smiled. "I should threaten to put myself in danger more often. It brings out your softer and more supportive side. You mentioned a lead on Faerie Fire?"
"Yeah, I talked with the barkeep. He said a homely fellow by the name of Jimothy became and addict. Something about breaking girl's hearts, and then the blacksmith killed him." Silverbolt said. He paced back and forth as he spoke.
Clara sat on the edge of the bed and tapped the lumpy mattress beside her. "It sounds to me like the case is already solved. Why would you want to stick around?"
The runes on the mask lit the room with a soft glow. "I thought so too. Wendell said something about an empty grave, and Jimothy's body was gone."
"We should look for him," Clara said, grabbing her cloak.
Dark Alley, Toffmire
It was happening again for Duende, or as people around Toffmire called him, Jimothy. He could smell the pheromones in the air. A shudder and shiver up and down his spine told him a hopeless romantic was close. Duende hated the urges, and he had no one to blame. Nobody forced Faerie Fire on him, but desperation does funny things to people.
Duende remembered Olga, the miller's daughter. She wasn't supposed to go insane or die. He was supposed to become beautiful, but that didn't happen. He became a twisted version of a legend called El Sombreron. He got all of Sombrerons charm, talent, and his penchant for tormenting young women.
Duende held the silver guitar and adjusted the black and gold sombrero. Steady hands straightened the black velvet jacket before Duende sat on a nearby stump. The instinct to inflict cruelty crept into his mind and made itself at home. Gentle romantic chords filled the area with a haunting tune. Duende raised his voice in song. Self-revulsion made him feel like he had taken a bath in a septic tank, and then acceptance.
"Come dance with death pretty ladies, El Sombreron awaits."
Sometimes people can pinpoint the exact moment when they screwed themselves. For Silverbolt, it was the moment he hugged Clara. "It's all downhill from here," He muttered to himself.
Clara had her arm hooked around his and leaned against his shoulder as they walked. "Did you say something?"
"Nothing important. Do you hear that?"
Heavy footsteps bounced off buildings, yet he couldn't see anything. Then a sweet melody filled the air with romantic music. A voice from the heavens began to sing. Clara swayed back and forth to it.
"I must find the owner of that glorious voice," She said in a faraway voice. She took off down the darkened street. Clara's voice took on a feverish pitch. "I am on the way, my love."
"Crap," Silverbolt said as he gave chase. He guessed it was their Fire Starter. The hero reached the end of the street. Clara was gone. "Damnit."
He took to the rooftops. It allowed him to see the street from another perspective. As he looked down, he saw several other young women following the sound. "I am coming for you, Jimothy," he shouted.
The roofs varied, from clay tile, thick thatch, and wooden shingles. Angry shouts now overtook the sweet music. A mob had formed. Silverbolt groaned. "Crap, I have to get to the idiot before they do. How do I find this guy?"
A warm sensation washed over his gauntlets, and a dull glow was coming from them. He didn't understand what it meant until he started moving again. The light grew brighter or dimmed, depending on which direction he went. Silverbolt surmised it was a response to Jimothy.
The rune light brightened and almost blinded him. He looked down, and three young women were heading to a park area. Silverbolt didn't know much, but it was possible, Jimothy would use them as human shields.
He connected the Bluetooth speaker to the Mp3 player and searched for the loudest song he could find. He theorized drowning the menace out would do the trick. He was wrong. He couldn't hear the sweet seductive melody, but it didn't change the effect it was having.
There was one thing to do, follow the girls. The light coming from the Claimoh Solais rune faded. Silverbolt followed close behind a woman in her thirties. She was like a zombie, ignorant of the world around her. He tapped her, only to have his hand slapped away.
The shouts of the mob were getting closer. Silverbolt needed to do something to slow them down. The fevered pitch of their din forced his hand. "Sorry," he said, as he started to trip the lovesick women, in hopes of the mob would stop to pick them up.
A few minutes and several fallen women later, he reached the small thicket near the edge of town. Clara was sitting across from a goblin-like man wearing a sombrero and a sequined velvet jacket to match. Clara giggled.
"Your food is so exotic. Does everyone eat this where you come from?" Clara said as she shoveled a bug-infested spoonful of dirt into her mouth. "It tastes amazing."
Jimothy gave a wicked smile. His teeth gleamed in the light of the two moons. "I made it just for you, my dear..." He stopped midsentence because Silverbolt was standing behind Clara.
"Let her go, Jimothy," Silverbolt dropped into a horse stance. His fist crackled with electrical energy, and the Claimoh Solais rune flashed in response.
Clara turned and scowled, her hands moved in a rapid series of gestures. "Pleascadh," she shouted, and a ball of energy flew towards him. "His name is Duende, and don't you forget that."
"Since when can you do that?" Silverbolt shouted.
The armored hero was grateful they were away from major gathering places. He charged the shield rune on his gauntlet and drew back his fist to his waist. He stepped forward, twisted his body, and breathed out. The shiny fist flew, and a small bubble surrounded it. The ball of energy flew back toward Clara and crashed into a small stand of trees.
The ground shook from the impact. A small crater stood where the trees and flowers once thrived. Duende laughed, "What's the matter? Are you scared to be hurt? Or are you scared to hurt her."
"Claimoh Solais," Silverbolt said in a soft tone. He focused his thoughts on the pistols, and the Blackhawk revolver replicas appeared in his hands. "Neither. I am scared I'll kill you before I get the information I need."
Duende licked his almost blue lips, "Clara, I believe we have to kill this unwelcome guest. He stands between us, mi Amor. Stop him, and I will give you heart's desire."
Clara smiled, "With pleasure." She started waving her hands rapidly.
Silverbolt had never been afraid to take control of a situation, until now. Icy cold fear washed over him. Clara was not Valraven or a fifteen-hundred-pound moose. He couldn't punch this problem and look awesome while doing it. He opted to shock Clara down and hope he didn't kill her.
A horn-like call reverberated through the area. Silverbolt looked up and said, "Thunderhorn?"
Thunderhorn crashed through the trees splintering small trees and kicked up bits of leaves and branches in his wake. Duende went pale. "Friend of yours?"
"Not really. We fought, I won," Silverbolt said. "How did you grow back your antlers, you overgrown hatrack?"
Clara shifted the focus of her spell to the titanic woodland creature. "You will not harm the love of my life."
The distraction afforded Silverbolt just enough time to wrap his arms around Clara and hold her arms still. Thunderhorn snorted and huffed, while he lowered his head.
"Let me go. I'll kill you. I'll kill you," Clara said as she struggled against the iron grip of Silverbolt.
Duende laughed, "I am not worried, my charm extends to animals. I am not worried." He turned to the moose and flashed his toothy smile. "Pardon me...What are you doing?"
"Did I forget to mention he is favored by a goddess?"
Thunderhorn was already in motion and hit Duende full force. The goblin-like creature flew one hundred feet before landing in a heap, alive. Anvil like hooves prepared to trample the Fire Starter. Silverbolt released Clara, who was in the process of regaining her senses. He stood in front of Duende.
"I need him alive," Silverbolt pleaded.
The gargantuan moose backed up and munched on some nearby flowers. Angry shouts grew closer. "Right, the angry mob." Silverbolt looked up at the moose. "That was some sweet chin music, big guy. Can you take two passengers to go? "