Crow Eater entered the well decorated rail car in the dead of night.
The car was divided into an office and bedroom space separated by a wall and stained glass door. The office section where Crow Eater entered was well furnished with a large ornate desk and shelves, red decorative carpet and wall coverings and lit by four brass gas lamps. Sitting at the desk was a man in his early 30’s dressed in black with a white shirt and red puff tie. His features were hard and weathered while his long curled dark hair rested on his shoulders. The air around him was smoke filled from a recently crushed out cigarette and he observed her through narrow focused dark eyes.
“You have some nerve showing up here” the man stated directly.
“I do not fear you, Victor, I come to make good on our arrangement” Crow Eater responded.
Victor looked her over again and noticed the slight glow coming from her closed fist. “Is that it?” he asked.
Crow Eater dropped the shimmering blue crystal shard on the table. It rolled slowly toward Victor but he did not touch it.
“It is,” she stated plainly, “that’s the one Deadeye stole from you.”
“Yes, stole, right before you made a deal with him.”
“He would have never given it back otherwise and I needed his men,” Crow Eater spat back with contempt, “question me if you wish but we know how to open the boxes now and you have a shard. Where are the other boxes?”
“Someplace safe,” Victor stated with smug confidence, “that’s not your concern. What you should be concerned with is what is next.”
“Next we get ready for Styx,” she said, “He’s not playing around this time. His latest group of soul-slaves are not like the others. They are… skilled.”
“That’s Wilson’s take as well. He thinks Styx is arming up for a final showdown.”
“I hope to someday dine on Wilson’s spleen but on this one point he may be correct.”
Victor chuckled, “Leave my son’s spleen out of this discussion. So what is your plan?”
Crow Eater hissed as her eyes drifted to the shard on the table. “I’ll need more braves,” she said with a devious edge in her voice, “more than I can create on my own.”
Victor’s demeanor showed he understood. “Take it,” he said motioning toward the shard, “but I’ll expect it back.”
“What of Deadeyes?” Crow Eater asked. “He betrayed me, I want his heart.”
“Wilson is taking care of that and securing other interests for us as well. I need you to handle Styx’s new posse. You can have all of them; even turn them if you wish, except the preacher. I need him alive. He has too big a part to play in this. He’s irreplaceable.”
“Does he need all 4 limbs?”
Victor chuckled again. “Only both arms and hands to pray, legs are optional.”
Crow Eater snatched the shard from the table and turned to leave. “I’ll need one of your men to kill me,” she stated plainly, “where I’m going I can get quicker by air than land.”
“I think I can arrange that” Victor said with a smile.
As Crow Eater walked from the train car a well-dressed man pushed his way in with a letter in his hand. “Urgent message from Camp 46, sir” he said in a panic. Crow Eater just smiled. She already knew what the letter said. She had sensed it in the Hunting Grounds. She stood still a few feet from the rail car taking in the night air. It felt so different in human form. The smells were dulled but the world had more color and the chill of the night air was more noticeable. If she didn’t despise them so she might actually enjoy possessing humans.
A single gun shot rang out in the night from behind her. A few moments later she was soaring in the low clouds with the shard clutched tightly in her talon. Black wings carried her as she looked to her left. The Sun would rise there soon but she could make good time before it did.
Now she just had to decide if she was going to take one of the preacher’s legs or both.