Sunday, October 28, 2018
Vengeance is Mine Part 4 by Dellani Oakes
“I paid a vast sum of money for the spell to resurrect you. I hadn't the coin to purchase the second.”
“So, once I do your bidding, I am on my own?”
“I fear so, yes.” Wide eyed, she inhaled slowly.
“I do not like this.”
“There is no liking or not in the matter, William. I need your help and will give it freely—or not. Another spell I did purchase, along with the one to raise you, was the one to compel you to do my will. I would that you agreed willingly, but if you don't....” She left those awful words hanging in the air.
“You are an awful woman.”
“You were an awful man. Because of you, and others like you, my brother is in the thrall of opium. You will rid me of these men. In doing so, you may gain retribution for the wrong deeds you did in the name of business.”
I'd quite started to like her until she said that. Anger welled in me and I lashed out. Mind you, I've never struck a woman, but I could not control my anger. She condemned me without knowing me. My hand froze before I raised it off the table. Shaking, it twisted back upon itself and I heard bones break. Though I felt nothing but an odd snapping, no pain, it still convinced me not to touch her. It's amazing what a small thing like a shattered hand, can do to convince a man to behave. No matter, I might not get her now, but she would let her guard down, and then she would join me in the afterlife, or the undeath.
“When do I embark upon my quest?”
The hand reshaped itself, but I still could not raise it.
“Where are the Brothers?”
Her puzzled expression told me that she had no idea why I wanted to know that. In addition to that confusion, the wonderment that I did not already know.
“Where they always are, I expect.”
“And where is that?”
“I do not know. A headquarters of some sort? Don't all you criminals have a secret place to gather?”
“You've read too many Penny Dreadfuls,” I scolded. “No, we criminals do not. Of an evening, I was as likely to be at home, as I was to be at the opera. I did not crawl out of an odious hole.”
“Oh. Then I expect you'll have to find them.”
“I see. Not only am I to rid you of this nuisance, I must find them first. A dead man, whose face is not unknown to these men, wandering around looking for them. I can hardly ask directions.”
“I hadn't thought of that.” Her eyes teared. “I just want Michael safe.”
I have the notion that I'd as happily kill her brother as the Bartolli Brothers.
“Perhaps he can find them for you. If he's so busily avoiding them, knowing where they can be found, would be advantageous.”
That thought had not occurred, I can see it in her face. “I shall ask him. Tomorrow. The streets aren't safe at night. I dare not go out alone. Not a second time.”
“I could go with you. I was not incapable of defending myself in life.”
“You were murdered, William.”
“I was caught unawares, ambushed. One trusts that on a busy city street, one does not worry so about such things.”
“Were you in your secret hideout?”
“I was at home. Enjoying a fine cigar and a snifter of brandy, to be exact. I keep telling you, I was a businessman.”
“Whose trade was people's lives!”
“Whose trade was in antiques. And the delivery of opium to those who wished to buy it. I forced no one's hand.”
“But if you hadn't given access to it....”
“They would have gotten it elsewhere. And if they had a whit of self-control, they would not be addicts, and I would have gone out of business.”
“What are you implying?”
“Nothing. I am saying that your brother is weak. He poisons his body with a drug, yet you blame me. Or the Bartolli Brothers, or the Queen, I shouldn't wonder. He made a choice, a bad one, as it happens. I had far easier access to the opium than your brother, and I never touched it.”
“I suppose you think that makes you the better man?”
“No, by damn!” I cried, standing, hammering my fist into the table. “It makes me a dead one!” Spinning on my heel, I headed for the door.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
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