On the other side of the door, Kepa saw the two men struggling for the suitcase. Blas was lying on the ground while de Lancre was hunched over him, his knee in Blas’s chest as he tried to wrench the suitcase from his hands. Both men looked up as the door smashed open. Kepa let out a primal yell as he charged, throwing his body against de Lancre, knocking him off of the much younger man. Somehow, Blas kept his grip on his suitcase as de Lancre was violently torn away from him.
“Presaka!” yelled Kepa. “Hurry! Get him out of here!”
Maite rushed to Blas’s side. “Lagunak gara,” she said as she knelt beside the young would-be sheepherder. “We are friends. Goazen. Let’s go.”
Buber’s Basque Story is a weekly serial. While it is a work of fiction, it has elements from both my own experiences and stories I’ve heard from various people. The characters, while in some cases inspired by real people, aren’t directly modeled on anyone in particular. I expect there will be inconsistencies and factual errors. I don’t know where it is going, and I’ll probably forget where it’s been. Why am I doing this? To give me an excuse and a deadline for some creative writing and because I thought people might enjoy it. Gozatu!
She helped Blas to his feet and they dashed out of the room.
de Lancre bellowed in rage. “You again? I thought I took care of you last time! This time, I will make sure you die!” he screamed as he launched himself against Kepa. Though de Lancre was much older than Kepa, his strength was remarkable. Kepa could only guess that he had somehow magically augmented it. The wind was forced out of Kepa’s lungs as de Lancre buried his shoulder into Kepa’s stomach.
“You fool!” de Lancre yelled as he stood over Kepa, who tried to catch his breath. de Lancre raised his head, almost as if he was sniffing the air. A twisted smile spread across his face. “Marina isn’t here, is she? She can’t save you this time.” He grabbed Kepa’s hand, his eyes fixated on the glowing spot in the middle of Kepa’s palm. Kepa tried to pull it back, but was still too weak to offer much resistance.
“You’ve saved me the trouble, boy, of finding you and your magic,” said de Lancre with a sneer. “I’ll just take that for myself.”
He placed a claw-like hand above Kepa’s palm, his long fingernails digging into Kepa’s flesh. As they penetrated Kepa’s flesh, they began to smoke and then catch on fire. de Lancre quickly pulled his hand back as he screamed, flailing his hand as the fingertips burned. Kepa simply looked at his hand in amazement as blood trickled from five small cuts around the edge of his palm.
His breath returned, Kepa scrambled up to his feet as de Lancre waived his good hand above his burning hand and the flames were extinguished. The older Frenchman glared at Kepa with murderous intent. “You will pay for that, you wretched dastard,” he snarled as he took a step closer to Kepa. “You will beg for mercy as I watch your limbs slowly rip from their sockets.”
He creeped closer as Kepa stepped warily back, his hands feeling the counter tops behind him for something, anything he could use as a weapon, his eyes fixed on de Lancre. Kepa’s hands found something large and metallic. He grabbed it and threw it at de Lancre, who batted the metal tray aside.
“You’ll have to do better than that, boy” said de Lancre with a twisted smile, his eyes alight like a cat teasing its prey. He charged as Kepa’s fingers grasped a wooden handle. He swung the object – a brush – as hard as he could at de Lancre’s head, smashing the brush into the side of this temple. de Lancre screamed as he fell to the ground, blood flowing from between his fingers as he held his head.
Kepa rushed from the room and nearly collided with Maite as he burst into the hall.