Sigh. It happens to me every time! I get near the end of a book, and the struggle begins. I doubt everything, and I become unreasonably indecisive about which direction the story should take. And you know me – I need action! In this unedited snippet toward the end of the book, Lou’s been kidnapped, and Lucky is hot on her trail…
Lucky and the warriors tracked the enemy scent deep into the forest, past the borders of Natoroi land into an area called the Post. It was located right on the fringes of their planet where dimensional borders blurred, and trade took place.
A port of sorts, the Post was home to a series of rough characters, loners who either had no family or wanted none, mostly mercenary types who cared for nothing but profit, buying and selling. Import export was common, as was prostitution, fighting and any kind of criminal activity that involved pain, burglary or intimidation.
All knew the Natoroi were peace loving demons, but all also knew they were not to be messed with. Tree huggers the warriors might be, but they were strong, resilient, and fierce when threatened.
Now Lucky was beyond threatening. Hate and anger radiated from him like heat, every line of his body bespoke menace. Every demon and non demon they passed took one look and quickly got out of his way. Lucky addressed the one old soul who had the misfortune to have his back to the fierce little entourage.
“Where are the white demons?”
The creature spun around and revealed himself to be a grizzled water demon. He obviously hadn’t seen any liquid of any kind for some time.
“White you say?”
Lucky stared. The demon got the message: There will be no unnecessary talk. Give me the information and get out of my way, or pay my price.
“They don’t come through here. They don’t like mixing with the likes of us,” the old demon cackled showing missing, rotten teeth as he grinned. “They wouldn’t be caught dead in the Post unless there was an auction. Their camp’s due east of here. You’ll know it because the color bleeds out the closer you get, fading to that milky, ugly white they prefer.” He wrinkled his nose. “And you can smell ‘em a wave away.”
Lucky turned east then stopped. “What do you mean auction? What are they interested in buying?”
“Why, females,” said the old demon. “I hear tell they’ve hardly any females left. Gone sterile for some reason. Inbreeding, I dare say. Now they’re looking for other demonarchies to mate with. I heard they’re not having much luck. Stock’s gettin’ real thin, if you know what I mean. A marsh demon I know told me they’d collected quite a menagerie of females, but very few have managed to birth any new white demons. Probably be better for everyone if they just went ahead and died out.”
Lucky would soon help them with that if they didn’t release his female kin and kindred. He nodded at the demon, and moved out of hearing range. He turned to his warriors. “I do not know what we’re walking into. But you heard the water demon. If what he says is true, and it must be since these creatures stole our women, they’re both ruthless and desperate, perhaps facing extinction. Desperation can make a male a worse enemy than he might be if he had something to lose. If you wish to turn back, now is the time.”
Seven warriors stood straighter in their circle around him, one of which was his mother.
“No one must be allowed to harm our females,” said one warrior.
Heads nodded and there was a rumble of assent.
“Of course we must face this enemy,” said another. “We cannot let them get away with this. If word got out we’d let it pass, not only would these females be lost today, tomorrow’s would be in danger too.”
“Then it’s settled,” Lucky said abruptly. “We go. We fight. We return with our females, and we destroy all who may stand in our way.”
Heads nodded, fists thumped chests and growls split the air.
“We are with you my son, to the end,” said Sucire.
He looked east. “Then we go. The starlight is fading. Night comes quicker this side of the line. We must press on fast, or we’ll have to make camp. I would find my Lou and our sisters before it gets dark.”
The line was their version of the equator, a central point that not only divided up Natoroi lands, it marked different geography and topography not unlike north and south in the United States.
“They’ll be scared,” said Hoku.
“Yes,” Lucky whispered, his fingertips gently stroking the rifle strapped to his back, the gun belt securely fastened around his hips. “But we are coming. They need not be scared long. Whatever happens now, we must fight. We must forget our rules of engagement. This enemy has shown clearly he has no respect for the rules of war by which we live. We kill them, we take back what’s ours, and we come home. Simple. Do you all understand?”
Roars and growls and stamping feet met his cold hard words, and he nodded once then turned sharply for the east. “Hold on, my Lou,” he whispered, and they took off running.