Raven Willoughby – Origins ~ A Fantasy by Dellani Oakes – Part 23

“Yes, until the bodies built up. Then I came inside to keep them off my rear. How many of these beasties are there? I still haven’t gotten them all.”

“Far more than we’d thought,” Robin said. “Do you suppose they’ve gathered more to them?”

“I have no way of knowing. It’s pure insanity. I never saw such a thing.”

“Strong magic at work,” a dark skinned man, with the lilt of the islands in his voice, said.

“Magic?” Robin scoffed. “Not magic, Etienne, pure evil.”

The dark skinned man shook his head, insistent. “Magic! We deal with zombies. Someone skilled in the dark arts. You kill them, they make more.”

“How would we fight someone like that?” Raven asked without a hint of skepticism. “I have met a powerful witch….”

“This is very special magic. Dark.”

Raven couldn’t imagine anyone darker, or more chaotic, than Osceola, but he didn’t say so. He wished he could contact his former lover. If anyone could find the person making the zombies, it would be she. He knew she was dangerous, perhaps evil. Could she be doing this? He doubted it. It didn’t have her feel and taste. It bore the scent of another, one he couldn’t identify.

“You must get some sleep,” Robin’s wife said kindly. “You have worked hard on our behalf, Raven. We cannot thank you enough.”

“I do what I can, Mrs. Cooper. I’ll be back before sunset, my friends.” He bid farewell and went back to the inn.

News had traveled from the docks to the rest of the town. There were people waiting in the taproom, when he went in to ask for a bath. The Mayor, Mr. Morton, was intent on speaking to him.

“Sir, with respect, I’m tired and I stink. Take these folk, and leave.”

“But you’re a hero!”

“Perhaps, but even heroes need rest. Go. Sam, I’ll thank you to keep folk away, who have no business here.”

“As you wish, Mr. Willoughby.” Looking staunch and formidable, he folded his arms and glowered.

Raven had his bath, and went to his room. His other clothing was clean and folded on the bed. Beside it was another set of clothing, with a note.

“We thought you could use something more comfortable to fight in.” And it was signed Myra and Samantha. They had made him a pair of soft breeks and a shirt with less full sleeves, better for fighting. The breeks were longer, made to be worn with boots, not stockings and shoes. A pair of soft suede boots sat on the floor by the bed. He wondered how they’d discovered his size. Considering Myra’s discerning eye, she’d probably figured it out. He tried them on, and they were a perfect fit.

Again, he fell into his bed, waking when Uriah arrived with another update.

“The magistrate came by and inspected the ships. Cortez opened the boxes, as you told him to. The papers have been gone over, and a master ship builder came in to examine them. He confirms what you said to the letter. He aided in the refitting of one of the ships, though he had no idea what it was for at the time.”

“Any word yet on the Annabelle?”

“None yet. She should be back by now.”

“You don’t think…. Could she have…?”

“Could she be a death ship again, you mean? I don’t know. Nor can I conceive why someone would be so intent upon doing all this. What is there to gain?”

“I don’t know. If I could figure that out, I’d have more idea how to fight these things.” He handed Uriah a bundle with the first two daggers. “See to it that these are given the treatment by Mr. Silver tomorrow. He knows what they need.”

“As you wish, sir.”

“We need to go,” Raven glanced at the sky. It as clouding over, and he had no idea what that would mean in terms of the zombies.

Uriah parted ways, rushing home. Raven got himself barricaded in the office as the first drops of rain began to fall. Full night fell, but the dead did not arrive. Finding that an interesting side note, Raven made himself comfortable with a cup of Uriah’s good coffee, and waited. Dozing off in the small hours, he dreamed of Osceola.

“I need you my love,” he whispered. “I need your help….”

“You have but to ask. There is a price….”

“Name it!”

“Your son.”

“I have no son. And how could I give you a child?”

Suddenly, there was great warmth in his loins, and desire surged through him. Impossible to ignore, it woke him. The scent of Osceola lingered in the room, and he knew he’d spoken to her in his dreams. Would she really help? He could only hope so. Meanwhile, he had a burning desire he could not tame. Perhaps a visit to the ladies, on his way home, was in order.

Uriah arrived, the men behind him.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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