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16 January 2017 @ 07:42 am
_The Last Merge_ part 3  

With a good sized load of gold, he had all four horses hitched to the wagon today. Banana and Muffin leading, and Star and Blazer as his wheel pair. They'd been this way enough times that they hardly needed steering. Which was just as well; he rode the brake down the slope toward the bridge across the Lake.

The bandits showed up at an awkward time, pelting down the hill at him, as they made a rather sharp turn on the steepest segment. They were whooping and yelling, and had crossbows cocked and in hand.

"Halt or die!" The leader had a really great mustache.

"What? Do I look stupid?" Eldon yelled back. He raised a physical shield around the horses and scowled at the idiots. Around the corner, Banana snorted and stopped. Eldon cussed and set the brake. Climbed down to examine the fairly minor fall of rocks that probably blocked the road. Eldon certainly wouldn't want to come up on it at any speed. "Son of a Witch."

The dozen men were pulling up alongside the wagon, grinning.

"Think its funny do you?" Eldon flicked a finger at the mustache, which promptly burst into flame. Half a dozen bolts bounced off his personal shield, and Eldon grabbed the nearest man and dragged him from his saddle. He removed sword and knife from the man's possession and shoved him at the rock pile.

"Start shifting rock. Don't give me any lip!"

Before the frantic leader had gotten his mustache put out in the road dust, Eldon had disarmed two more, bubbled three, and was studiously ignoring the rest of them.

"Who are you?" The man touched his tender face.

"I'm a bigger, badder man that you'll ever be. And you'd best be glad it's me and not any of my partners that you tried to rob. They've got tempers. But, despite my position on the pinnacle of evil, I'm currently trying to be an honest miner. So, you lot are going to take note of these odd colored horses of mine, and you aren't ever going to try to rob me again. Right?" He sidestepped the swipe from behind and above and dragged the man out of the wagon. "Get out there and move rocks." He planted a boot in the man's rear for emphasis.

"You aren't Auchel Ibrahm."

"Old Gods, no. I thought they hung him. Twice."

"Well, yeah . . . not that I knew anything about it, being at the time an honest man, who's umm, just recently gotten desperate and, umm, so incompetently . . . I mean, we was warning you about the rock fall, to not drive your poor horses into it. Why, they could break legs, coming up on something like that sudden-like."

"Yep. Sure could." Eldon eyed the dust cloud to the south, and then the slightly diminished rock pile. "And if you and your helpful fellows were to clear those rocks in a hurry, why, I might let you go soon enough that you won't find out who's raising that cloud of dust."

"Shit." Burned Mustache eyed the dust cloud. "Boys, help the man."

They set to with a will and Eldon sent them off with a good three miles start on the troops. He was just clearing the last rocks when the officer pulled rein beside him.

"You have any trouble with those fellows?" The man was bald, riding a handsome bay stallion. His uniform, such as it was, suggested company security.

"Laufiler?" Eldon guessed. "No, not much, but I didn't have enough control to hold them once they saw you coming."

"Old Gods. What, are you another one of these damned wizards. Who are you, where from?"

"Elk Denison, from Gemstone."

The man looked disgusted. "Another damned Deni welp. I should have known, just looking at you." He shifted in the saddle and his horse headed up the hill on the track of the bandits. Eldon funneled a bit of wind to keep the dust off of himself and his horses, then climbed back into the wagon and let off the brake. He supposed he ought to have held them, but then what sort of Bad Guy would he be? He was still wondering a day later when he rattled into Southern Hell and pulled up at Tivo's Gold Traders.

Tivo Harryson took his security seriously, and his guards stepped out beyond the wagon to make sure no one approached as the handlers, assayers and accountants got to work. Then Eldon took the letters of credit across the street to the Bank of the West and deposited them, distributing the money among their seven accounts. A fair amount of cash went into his pockets, and he sauntered out to see if the quality or quantity of entertainment had changed since his last visit.

The hosteller managed to squeeze his foursome into the stable of the Peacock, and he found a pretty lady with a bit of glow who was delighted to help him spend money. They had a decent show with dinner, and then got down to some serious gambling. He eyed the garish vest of Phillip Michaelson, and gambled recklessly. Jilly was careful, and cheated a few times and lost money. But she perked up when he headed for his room and showed him just how much she'd enjoyed the evening, and left in the predawn with every penny he hadn't stashed in a bubble. Which was enough for breakfast and a bit of grocery shopping, then he headed back to Cliff House.

By late summer they had respectable bank accounts, both corporate and personal, and were keeping a lot of their gold on hand, for cross dimensional trading.


Eldon thumped his head on the dining room table. "Stop looking so bored, Heso."

"It's almost football season."

"Assuming we're talking about a world in sync with ours. Geeze." He looked over at the witches, all sitting around with their new babies. "Maybe we could get them to . . . umm. We really, really can't attract attention to here. How about we sneak through Embassy?"

Heso thought it over. "But do they have Gates to Worlds we like? Those year 2100 to 2200 Earths are my favorite."

Rior looked over his, err, her shoulder at them. "There's one to the World we raided that Senator's party. I wonder what Rivolte is doing, these days? Could be dangerous though."

Eldon and Heso nodded.

Falchion snorted. "I'll open one to the place were we had the Baldness cure place. Far away from all your girlfriends, though."

"We'll just rent an apartment and watch football." Heso promised.

"And take that dog with you."


Selling the gold was easy enough. Renting the apartment just took a bit of persuasion to skip the tedious credit check parts. And objections to large pets. Buying the SUV and the sports car ditto. The big screen TV they bought new, to be sure it complied with all the fiddly details of the broadcasts, or in this case, cable. The rest of their furniture they'd brought along in a bubble. They were ready for the pre-season a week early, and spent that mostly at the apartment complex's pool, trying, without success, to pick up babes. At least the ladies liked the dog.

Eldon gave up trying to get his computer to understand the gibberish coming over the cable, and bought a new one. It made researching what had happened after their last visit easy.

"Has it really only been a year and a half?" He muttered.

"Yeah. Seems like we were robbing banks for longer than six months, doesn't it?" Heso wandered over and grinned at the pictures he was downloading. "Hey, look! There's Julia! Twins! We had twins. Cool, eh?"

"Yep. Bet they'll be damn fine witches in a few years. We ought to come back every year to check on them, you know?" Eldon found another site with a complete tally of the "Stranger" Babies. "What the heck? Denver? I didn't do anything in Denver."

"That's where Rior pulled the jewelry heists that got us in trouble. I think he had Mag and that lot along."

"Ah. All right. I guess that makes sense. Those guys were hornier than us, hands down." Eldon scowled at the screen. "Eight babies up there have been identified by our genes. Huh. advertisements for genetic screening all over the place. 'Find out if your baby is a Stranger.' What kind of rot . . . Well, I suppose it makes sense from their point of view. They don't know when we came and went."

"Yeah. You're back to blonde, but you've lost weight and changed your face a bit, haven't you? I suppose I ought to too." Heso wandered off. Eldon stared at the computer uneasily. What if it had been the collective subconscious, influencing him? Was he going to start prowling around in animal form, raping women again? He decided to start sleeping in, not going anywhere near early morning joggers.

"Hey! The Highlights show is on! We can see what we missed last year."


Houston beat Kansas City in the first exhibition game.

"Probably the last win they'll see for a month. Houston teams always suck." Eldon grabbed another nacho and settled in to watch the after game wrap up.

"It's a hell of a lot more fun to lay around watching football when someone comes by and say you ought to get to work." Heso burped and put his heels up on the dog. The dog farted.

Eldon opened a window. "Yeah. This doesn't even count as goofing off. But we really can't get jobs. I suppose we could open up our own place again. But curing baldness is boring." Eldon crushed his empty beer can and lobbed it at the garbage can.

"Maybe we should open a shop of fun stuff."

"We could make like Susto, and sell magic potions that no one knows what they'll do." Eldon grinned. "Of course, we'd get sued. I told an old lady today I'd make her young for a million dollars. How about if we do everything the old shop did, but we act like it's dangerous and criminal and charge huge amounts for it."

"The problem is getting started. Word of mouth has to start somewhere." Heso looked interested, though.

Eldon grinned. "Well, if this place works like Houston, people will try anything to cure baldness. We just need to be sure to offer other stuff."

"Or get laid." Heso pulled out a bottle of the joy juice. "This is the stuff we ought to sell."

They went through all their stuff. Eldon had some cheap jewelry from Aunt Susto's, so they dissected it into a heap of little trinkets and started putting charms on them. 'Notice me', 'Don't Notice Me', 'Love,' 'Clumsy,' 'Confidence,' all the little things they'd learned as teenagers, just grasping power. Little bottles, and wine, and Eldon going carefully, step by step, through the spells he knew for anti-baldness, and various colors of hair and eyes. Lose weight. That was a good one. He experimented with his abilities, and was able to slightly change the shape of bottles. It wasn't up to what a witch could do, but it turned all sorts of scavenged pickle and jam jars into funny shapes, and he carved sections of wood for plugs. He imagined they looked very magical, and got a gallon of cheap skin lotion, added normal wine and turned it into a cure for baldness and put it in wide mouth jars, to be rubbed on the scalp. Heso got creative with labels on the computers, and by the time they'd rented a tiny room off the side-alley door of a used book store they had plenty of stock for their magical store.

"I dunno if this is going to do the trick." Heso grumbled as Eldon painted the sign for the shop.

"Of course it is. I've filed a DBA, we've got a bank account, all we need are customers."

"I don't believe you and I are doing this. I mean, we're lazy bums, right?"

"Right. That's why we got a big screen TV for here too. We can goof off while we're on the job." The dog woofed. Eldon turned and eyed the young man peeking around the corner.

"What can I do for you, kid?"

"Can you make a girl fall in love?"

"No, but with a confidence charm and a notice me charm, you'll have a lot better luck doing it yourself."

The boy hemmed and hawed, looked askance at the dangly charms. "I can't wear those, everyone will think I'm gay. Don't you have magic rings? Something a guy could wear?"

Eldon and Heso exchanged looks.

"Rings. Right, why didn't I think of rings? Rings are so easy." Heso grabbed a crushed can out of the garbage and flowed aluminum into a smooth shiny ring. They checked it on the boy's hand, shrunk it and widened it a bit, then Eldon put his Notice me and Happy and Confident charms all intertwined around it and sent the kid off twenty dollars lighter in the pocket, but also wide-eyed by what he'd seen.

"We'll have to do a bunch of that." Heso formed more rings dropping them on the desk as the can shrunk. "People will really believe in the magic if they see it performed."

"Yeah. And metal is so easy to form."

That was their only customer for the day, so they pulled the sign in, locked the door and headed home.

ekuah on January 16th, 2017 08:41 pm (UTC)
I think it's a great idea to place this story on a known world, where they have been before. Great opportunity for further interaction.
(Anonymous) on January 16th, 2017 09:54 pm (UTC)
So at this point, as far as this text goes, Eldon does not know how to make a gate? or maybe didn't have enough control to find this particular page?

Is how he learns to handle a gate part of this story?

matapampamuphoff on January 17th, 2017 04:05 am (UTC)
Yep. Eldon's story was written as a stand alone, with a lot more digressions than I'm letting in. But since i didn't want to publish the merge battle in three separate stories, I'm trying to throw them all into the same pot. We'll see how it works.

mbarkermbarker on January 17th, 2017 01:03 am (UTC)
For some reason, boredom as a good reason for working makes me chuckle. Which reminds me, I should do some work today...