November on the Horizon

Featured Items:  {Autumn leaves} .::Cubic Cherry::., DISORDERLY&CURELESS / BA / Basket of Sweets RARE, Opale . Alejandra hair, & *N*MOMIJI (TSS)

The sun had traveled her path across the cloud-dappled sky, and it cast its warmth almost like an afterthought across the fields, the rows of harvested crops that now seemed almost bereft by comparison to a few days ago, when the corn was tall and full, the wheat had been waving its stalks golden in the fields, the sprouts were pregnant in the earth, and the sun had been just a bit more warm on the skin. Birds were still singing and insects were chirping in the fields.

Phaeril had been out in the fields during the harvest over the past weeks, helping as best as he could, while his cousins did most all the heavy work. He was a lean but fit lad, that enjoyed the simple life he had, though it had been a strange adjustment, coming here from the hard life of the cities a few years before.  He’d clung to his books, his music, and the internet, in the spare time he had, and he trained still, whether jogging, leaping through the surrounding forest land like it was his personal obstacle course, or meditating. But this simple life, with Aunt Maggie and Uncle Jaessi had been exactly what he had needed. He’d gotten out of the life, and now things were so much better.

He was walking along the road, enjoying the faux-summer warmth on his face, knowing that tonight was supposed to be chilly. He glanced at the trees that lined the far end of the valley, that bordered the farm house and the land around, seeing  some yellow, but mostly orange and red in the leaves – no green left at all.

He inhaled the scents of the gentle breeze, and the aroma of the bread bunnies he was carrying in the basket from the Johnson’s wafted up to tickle his nose, and he smiled. How could you not love this place? This life? The guns, the hassle, the danger that had been constant in the city had been what had nearly driven him over the edge. And now here he was, in the middle of a cycle of life and rebirth, living the simple life out in the country.  He smiled, and his floppy had fluttered in the breeze, his long brown hair shifting on his shoulders.

He kept walking down the road, heading to the farmhouse, and the trees lining the road had only red and orange leaves left, and the light filtering through them shone red down on him, changing his white long-sleeved shirt to look almost blood red as he continued the trek. He kicked at a clod of dirt and watched it disintegrate into the air, the dust wafting into the breeze and a tiny part of the once larger clod skittered off the road and into the ditch.

He gripped one of the suspenders that held up his trousers, and tugged on it, as he glanced around looking for the source of something he just heard. A sharp sound in the air – like the report of a gunshot. He wasn’t too alarmed, because there were predators out in the fields- snakes and dangerous wolves at times, or ferrel bobcats that could attack livestock or even get bold enough to assault the children. Farmers took such threats seriously. But this was close by. He wondered if Uncle Jaessi had been forced to pull out the old service pistol he had to scare off or defend one of his sisters.

He increased his pace, jogging now towards the farmhouse, when he saw the sleek black vehicle, a BMW, parked in the drive, and 2 tall, muscular black suited thugs, gang tattoos peeking from under their civilized façade on neck and the backs of their hands, held pistols, and stood almost at attention, as a smaller man, lean and better groomed, handsome, but probably more savage than the other two, stalked around a kneeling older man dressed in blue overalls next to one of the farmhands dressed similarly in the denim and  brown work boots and love sleeve shirt – it was uncle Jaessi, and Luke kneeling in the yard. He thought he recognized the smaller man as someone he once knew called Snake.

Phaeril’s eyes narrowed as he tried to remain unseen, moving into a stealthy crouch-walk, his old survival skills kicking in, caution and the rush of adrenalin like a silent scream as the shock of what he was seeing washed over him. He felt tingling in his palms, and a heaviness in his loins at the rush, knowing these were a reaction to the deadly situation. He snuck to the barn unseen.

Phaeril slipped through the door, and into the cool shadows of the barn, as he got his bearings and quietly moved to the edge of the old 1920s era electric saw. He dropped his floppy hat and the bread bunny basket on the table, then set to the panel of the old saw.

He twisted a few wingnuts and opened its dusty metal housing, setting aside a heavy steel panel with a soft grunt. They had built these machines with so much open space inside in some cases, that it had been the ideal hiding place for his old gear.

And there they were – his katana and his holstered pistol, wrapped in a thin but sturdy oil cloth. He slipped into the shoulder-holster, and slung the sword belt over his lean hips, after test-drawing an inch of the blade, then snicking it back into place.

He could hear menacing words, and then the back hand of a blow, and the grunt of his uncle as he crept back to the side of the barn to the door there. He was behind the two guards, as he watched the scene play out. Uncle Jaessi was picking himself up with dignity from being back-handed by the thug boss, wiping a trickle of blood from his now cut lip. Phaeril slipped his katana out, approaching the nearest thug with silent footsteps.

Luke had stood up now, in challenge to the treatment of his uncle, and Snake leveled his pistol at the boy and shot him through the leg. The boy crumpled with a shout of agony, and Uncle Jaessi looked down at his son in dismay.

When Snake fired, Phaeril saw red, and Red Wolf came back to his mind, as he’d been called that nickname back when he was in the life, back in the city. He hissed and leaped the remaining distance to thug number one, and slashed at the back of his knees. The big man cried out in surprise, and crumpled to his knees. Red Wolf struck at his throat, opening up a fountain of crimson. Then he leaped upon Thug number two, and gave him a slash at the eyes, and then a sharp stab into his chest, piercing the heart, and yanking the blade out in a swift move, as the man crumpled into the dirt.

Snake wheeled around, and leveled his pistol at the new emergent threat, but Red Wolf was already on the boss, slashing back and forth at the man. But Snake was well named, as he slithered and side-winded away from each blow, stumbling and then regaining his footing, as he backed off and kept his distance.

Snake was a handsome, goateed, black eyed man, lean and athletic, wearing a black silk shirt and a red tie, expensive black slacks, and leather shoes. His long black hair was slicked back and fell to his shoulders, as his dark eyes appraised the new threat – one he should have seen coming. He had, after all, come here to find the little rat-punk and kill him for his part in the drug ring’s collapse several years ago. He’d followed a lead out here, after digging the answers out of several unfortunates and doing some clever searching.

“You shouldn’t have come here,” The Red Wolf said, in a low, calm voice. He was in the void now, no emotions, nothing but the cool, calm that using the sword and being in combat had been drilled into him. The car door behind him opened, and Red drew his pistol in a quick move, and fired without looking at the vehicle, and there was a gasp, as the thug driver was laying on the ground, holding a wound in  his leg, gasping and crying out in pain.

That momentary distraction was what Snake needed, as he whipped around his pistol, and fired at Red, grazing the younger man’s arm, making him drop his pistol. The wound burned hot and agonizing, but he’d divorced himself away from the pain, and stayed focused on the task at hand, as he rolled and came up as the gunman tried to track his movements and fired several more ineffectual shots at the moving target, as Red got behind a steel barrel, and several more shots rang out, until there was a ‘click click’ of the empty clip.

Phaeril sprang as Snake was reaching for his replacement clip, and again, slashed at him with the blade. Snake wove and bobbed and struck out with some wild martial arts move, that clipped Red in the shoulder and threw him off balance. He swept his leg around and his sword arm whipped the blade around to jab at the thug. The two knocked each other off balance and they rolled on a parallel course and sprang to their feet once more.

It was like a dance, with the thug getting in minor jabs, and Phaeril almost impaling the man, but barely managing to draw more than a minor cut on an arm or his chest. He’d managed to cut the expensive silk shirt and drew a line of blood across his sculpted pecs, showing off his lean tight physique.

Uncle Jaessi was trying to staunch the bloodflow in Luke’s wounded leg, and he was looking desperate, as he whipped off a belt to use as a tourniquet. Phaeril noticed this from his peripheral vision, as he kept his eyes on Snake.

“You haven’t gotten soft, it seems, Wolf-boy. Still as nasty as ever. But it won’t matter – we know where you live now.” Snake was grinning as he said that, rubbing his chest with one hand, tweaking a pierced nipple, almost like the combat was getting him aroused.

“You’re not leaving here to tell anyone you found me, asshole,” he said, without any real emotion in his voice.  He leveled a flurry of blows at the man, and Snake, once more skittered out of the way, getting a leg sweep in, tripping the younger man up, sending him sprawling. Snake leaped on Phaeril’s back and grappled with the sword arm, forcing it back towards the younger man’s throat, his grip on him limiting both his arms movements, and controlling the motion of the sword somewhat. Phaeril was grunting and straining to keep the blade from his own throat, as he felt the keen edge of his sword starting to make its cold contact on his neck. Snake just had the leverage and the advantage.

But a shot rang out, and Snake’s eyes went wide in surprise, as the side of his head exploded on the barn wall behind the struggling pair. Snake’s hands fell, and the blade scraped down Phaeril’s neck a little, leaving more like razor burn than any cut. Phaeril turned around, and found the thug he’d shot from the car, staring in horror at the fact he’d killed his boss instead of Red Wolf.

The young man leaped at the thug and slashed his wrist, sending the gun falling to the ground along with the hand that held it, and he raised the katana, going to deliver the killing blow, when a hand closed on his shoulder, and a voice, his Uncle’s, said, “Enough, Phaer.. enough..”

He’d known, somehow, that it was his uncle, and not another threat. So he didn’t react at the touch. Otherwise, someone would have lost a body part.

But with that touch and the soft words, his sword arm seemed to go limp, as the fight went out of him, now that the immediate threat was over. He looked down at the pathetic remaining driver, and at the other 3 bodies lying around. “I was sloppy, Uncle Jaessi.. I’m sorry I .. I should have.. “

“You did what you had to, Phaer,“ He said, as he glanced around at the carnage. “You did what you had to, and no more. We’re safe now.”

“Are we? He said they knew where we were now. They’ll bring more, if that’s true.”

“One thing at a time, son, one thing at a time.“ That was all Uncle Jaessi said, as he motioned to the farm house, and his aunt came out, and they all set to cleaning up the mess, and trying to save the thug’s life – they didn’t want him to bleed to death before they could interrogate him.

The sun was setting, sending a red light through the autumn leaves, washing the farmyard in red, and as they looked up at the last of the sunlight, a chill wind blew over them, as they bent to their tasks. Uncle Jaessi stopped, pulled a red and white handkerchief from his pants pocket and mopped at his forehead, his short-cropped white hair wafting in the breeze. “Yeah, that’s probably one of the last warm days we’ll have for a while. November is on the horizon.”

“It might just be, but it’ll be a an early winter for the ones responsible, I promise you that,“ Phaeril said, in a soft voice.

The Red Wolf was awake now, his family had been attacked. Someone was behind this, and the young warrior wasn’t going to let his guard down again. He was going to seek that person out, and he was going to put an end to it. No matter the cost.

~Dehrynn Shepherd 

Hair & Hat- Opale . Alejandra hair (TSS)

Suit + pocket flowers- :::Breath:::sarouel p+shirt (Crossroads)
Basket- DISORDERLY&CURELESS / BA / Basket of Sweets RARE (TSS)

Background Leaf trees- *N*MOMIJI  (TSS)
Falling Leaves- {Autumn leaves} .::Cubic Cherry::. (TSS)


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