Here’s a new chapter for Rage of the Cursed. –enjoy!
Rage of the Cursed Part 12 — Guilty
Xallion had mixed feelings about introducing Bael to Tieshaie, but or once it wasn’t his instincts screaming at him. His distant cousin carried his curse with pride. In fact, he treated it like a boon.
Bael tapped his great sword lazily on his shoulder as he walked, eying the forest surroundings. A tempered sense of tranquility radiated off him. It reminded Xallion of a wild animal oblivious to danger.
“Your girlfriend lives in the boonies? Why would anyone live out here when they could live in the city.”
“She has her reasons,” Xallion said. “But she’s not my girlfriend.”
Bael smirked. “Yet. You can’t fool me, Xal. I got a nose for these things. I bet you’re just biding your time, waiting for the excuse to jump her bones.”
“Tieshaie is a criminal. I’m spending time with her for three reasons. One, she brought a larger crime to my attention—something she does often. Two, she might know something about a dangerous criminal I plan to arrest.”
“And Three,” Bael cut in. “You want to jump her bones.”
Xallion narrowed his eyes. “Three—I trust her.”
Bael stopped walking and set down his sword. “You’re always like this, aren’t you? This good-guy act is only gonna score you a short life. Look at your damn tribe. They got wiped out because they were spineless.”
“I wouldn’t know anything about it. I was young when it happened.”
“Well whether you know it or not, it’s up to you to keep your people from going instinct. And you do know how that works, right?”
“That’s the least of my concerns.”
Bael sighed. “Well maybe you should bump it up your priorities a bit. It would certainly help you chill the hell out.”
A rich floral aroma led Xallion Tieshaie’s tree home. He kept a hand on his weapon and gestured or Bael to hang back. He did so without protest.
Xallion raised a hand to his mouth and whistled a bird call—a whooping call foreign to the area.
Tieshaie peeked out her front door and spotted him. She leaned on the simple would banister and donned a coy smile. “Just couldn’t stay away, huh, and you brought a friend.”
It was no surprise she’d notice. The forest people could pick up on the residual energy hovering around all people. He hadn’t had Bael back off to hide him, rather give her a chance to get away if needed.
She leapt off her porch and landed with feline finesse. She’d changed clothes since he saw her last—sporting a pink little number that showed even more skin.
Bael stepped past the trees without his weapon. He looked over Tieshaie with a smile. “Xal might be a stick in the mud, but he’s got great taste in ladies. I’m Bael.” He glanced over to Xallion. “I’m his cousin.”
“I owe him a favor,” Xallion said. “I thought you might be able to help him out with your talents.”
Tieshaie folded her arms. “What talents?”
“Clothes. You make your own right?”
She gaped at him. “What? You… noticed?”
“There aren’t any high end boutiques in Mynin and I’ve only seen fancy clothes like that in Rhialn. I don’t know anything about high fashion, but I know talent when I see it.”
“Xal’s a classy guy,” Bael said. “Me, less so. He figured you’d be able to make me look presentable.”
Tieshaie cleared her throat, regaining her composure. There was no hiding her smile. “I can handle that. I even have a few ideas in mind. I guess you want it to match your armor?”
“Let me see what I have to work with.” Tieshaie turned and hurried up the ladder to her treehouse.
Bael slapped Xal hard on the back. It was enough to stagger him. “Smooth. Here I thought you were bad with women. You sure you’re not buttering her up on purpose?”
“So what do you want in return for this? I don’t have money.”
“I don’t care about money. Right now, I need allies. It’ll cause me trouble if you go around killing people.”
“Fine, and I guess you want me to keep quiet about our condition. She’ll be pissed when she finds out. Chicks like that don’t like secrets.”
Xallion frowned. Bael had a point, but it was less about hiding the fact and more about having no way to bring it up. It wouldn’t do to lose a lead from fear. “How would you tell her?”
“I’d show her.”
“No. I can’t do that.”
“I don’t trust Loki.”
Bael laughed and clapped a hand on Xallion’s shoulder. “If you can’t trust yourself, how can you trust anyone else?”
“You’re wrong.” Xallion shoved away his hand. “That thing isn’t me.”
“There’s your problem right there, Xal. Fine though, I won’t rain on your parade. I’ll keep my mouth shut.”
Tieshaie came back out holding some black fabric. “You’re in luck. I found enough to make you a cloak. You have any requests?”
“Yeah, can you make it fit loose?” Bael said. “My bulging muscles have this bad habit of destroying clothes.”
“I could do better than that,” she said. “I’m using black silk for the tunic, you could get twice as big and you wouldn’t put a dent in the stuff.”
Bael gave her a thumb up. “Perfect.”
Tieshaie outdid herself. In less than an hour, she put together black tunic with red trim. It left Bael’s arms bare. The cloak was simple, sturdy and fit to wrap his breast plate. The clothes transformed Bael from a savage brute to a distinguished gentleman.
“So, what do you think?” she said.
“This is great. I don’t think I’ve ever worn anything like it. Seems expensive.”
“Well, you can make it up to me by giving me something better than money.”
Bael glanced to Xallion briefly, and smiled down at her. “Sorry, but I won’t play my cuz’ like that, he’s—”
“I don’t mean sex. I want info.” Tieshaie lost her smile. “How tall are you when you change?”
Xallion’s heart sank.
“When I change?” He chuckled to himself. “Sorry Xal, I guess the wolf is out of the bag. Might as well test the durability of your little shirt, huh?”
“Please do.” She glared at Xallion. “I have friends around the city. I’m annoyed that you thought I wouldn’t find out. Besides, I figure it out when that loon attacked you—you were worried about getting angry. I know what you are Xallion. I know what Bael is.”
Bael flexed his arms and focused his muscles corded and bulged straining against the shirt. Thick black fur sprouted all around his face and body, but the shirt held fast. Claws burst from his finger tips and shook with raw tension.
He has this down pat.
Tieshaie narrowed her eyes up at him, showing no sign of concern or fear. “You’re too tall.”
“Heh, yeah,” Bael said rolling his shoulder. His natural baritone gained the guttural growl of a beast. “That’s pretty common for us cursed, guess that fur takes up a lot of space. “Nice job on the threads by the way.”
“So, you’re saying he’s short.”
Tieshaie sighed. “The guy that almost killed my brother. I thought I’d found him. All I know is that he has black fur and he’s about seven feet tall.”
Bael traded a look with Xallion. “And what would you have done had I been the same guy?”
“Same thing I did to the last person that hurt my brother—I’d kill him.”
An uneasy tension prickled across his skin. A Wolven with black fur, huh? “Tieshaie, you don’t think it’s me, do you?”
“According to your friend, it can’t be. You’re too tall. Everything I know about it comes from what little I squeezed out of my little brother. That’s where I got the idea for that shirt too. Whoever it is they wore the same kind of silk for the same reason.”
Xallion raised a hand to his chest. I wear a silk shirt too— for the same reason. “Tieshaie, who’s your brother?”
“That’s none of your—”
“Are you sure?” Xallion said. “Your brother might have secrets too.”
Both of them fell silent.
Bael broke the stalemate with a noisy fake cough. “You need me to leave or something? Not sure if you two are about to kill each other or start kissing.”
“You want the truth? It needs to go both ways,” Xallion said. “I’ve hurt and killed people as Loki, and I’ll take full responsibility. Who is your brother?”
“So you’re saying if you are this guy? You’ll own up to it?”
“Fine, but let me start by saying he’s a good kid.”
“His name. I need his name.”
Tieshaie sighed. “Give me your sword.”
“Because it’ll be easier to kill you without it.”
Bael snorted in laughter. “She has you there.”
Xallion unhooked his sword belt and handed it over. “I won’t just lay down and die, even unarmed.”
“Relax, you might not be who I’m looking for.”
“Then tell me your brother’s name.”
“Fine. Roan. His name is Roan.”
The tension fled Xallion’s shoulders. He had worried for nothing.
“So it’s not you?” Tieshaie said.
“I don’t recognize your brother’s name. I’m looking for someone too. The guy who killed someone very close to me.”
“Well you got it wrong. My brother doesn’t kill people. He’s a good kid.” She handed him back his sword. “Looks like our partnership is back on, but no more secrets.”
“Hold on,” Bael said. “You’re saying someone like us killed your brother?”
“Hurt. He’s alive, damn it.”
“Well it sure as hell wasn’t me. I’m not known for leaving survivors. Your bro must be pretty badass if he survived a run in with a—wait. How do you even know it was one of us? It might be just a normal Worgen.”
“Roan told me. He specifically said, a wolf with man eyes. Roan doesn’t say much, but what he does say, it’s right.”
“Then I’ll help you find him,” Xallion said.
“Me too,” Bael said. “I’m a diplomat for our people. It’s kind for my job. And I have to thank you for the threads somehow.”