“I dreamed about them,” Eriq said.
“Were they naked?” Jericho asked as he poured himself a cup of coffee from the campfire.
Simon placed slices of bacon in an iron pan strategically placed over the fire. “A dream, so what?”
John had crow’s feet around his eyes, and a tan so deep it resembled bronze. “I have dreams all the time.”
“Eriq’s can sometimes be called visions,” Jericho said.
Eriq peered into the rising sunset with his blue-green eyes. Such a simple little dream, but so real. He knew it to be true. “Saturday. Church was in evening mass. The four of them road into Corydon and robbed the bank.”
“Which four?” Simon asked. He wore rugged jeans and a brown shirt, with a revolver on his hip. All four men had six-guns, and John had a scattergun in a holster across his back. Eriq had a bow across his back, and Jericho has a two and a half foot long sword on the opposite hip from his pistol.
“Jesse and Frank, plus Cole and Clell Miller,” Eriq said.
Jericho took a long drink from his coffee, then he took out a glass bottle of whiskey and dropped three drops into his cup. “They possess a bloodstone.”
“We’ve discussed this before,” John said. “The four of us can take them.”
Simon turned the sizzling bacon. “You don’t know.”
“Nothing is certain in life. Jesse is the worst of them, finish him first.”
“No,” Jericho said, “we go after the weakest first. Clell must die first.”
“All of them can stop a bullet,” Eriq said. “Chances are they can deflect my arrows, too.”
John said, “How far is Corydon? I’m not familiar.”
“Two days ride.”
“Today is Tuesday. If we get there too early, they may sniff us out.”
The sun was rising, and it was going to be a hot day. They took their time traveling to Corydon. Friday evening they knocked on the priest’s door in Corydon. He smiled at the troop. “Warlocks!”
“Can we sleep in your barn?” Eriq asked.
“We’re hunting a group of bushwackers who don’t seem to understand the war is over,” John said.
“The James-Young gang?” The priest asked with wide eyes.
“Just the four of you?”
Jericho snarled. The priest nodded.
There was a small restaurant in town, and the men ate Kansas City strip steaks with potatoes and green beans. The next morning the priest offered to heat up a bath for the four of them. John cracked his knuckles. “Better to be clean.”
“Always,” Jericho said.
“My last woman never bathed,” Simon said. “She claimed it was against her religion.”
“Did you marry her?”
“She was nuts. I gave her a son, and she disappeared with the boy.”
Eriq said, “You couldn’t scry her?”
Simon shrugged, then let out a little whimper. “Like I said, she was nuts. Not worth going after her, even if she had my son.”
“Some women just want a warlock’s seed,” John said as he clenched his fists. “Give them a son who is a magic user.”
Jericho grinned wide. “And it’s fine by me. Hell, if I’d thought of it, I would have started that rumor years ago.”
“We should take turns scrying on town center,” Eriq said.
“Easy for you to say,” Simon said. “The three of us will be tired as hell, and you’ll be lollygagging about.”
“Just a thought.”
“Dream said they’d be here during mass. Is the dream accurate or not?”
Eriq sat down in a comfortable chair in the priest’s living room.
“Sometimes they’re so dead on it’s uncanny,” Jericho said, “and other times they’re illusion. It’s hit or miss, but it won’t be half right.”
“I dream of other things, too,” Eriq said. “Terrible nightmares of the dead and dying. Some of the dreams I’ve had hundreds of times.” He seemed to have good dreams less and less as each year passed.
John reached in a pouch and pulled out a rolling paper and some tobacco. He twisted it into a tube and lit it. He flicked ash on the wooden floor and ultimately put the noxious thing out on the tray the priest provided.
Jericho pulled out a telescope and walked over to the window. A perfect view of the Obocock Bank filled his vision. “We should take turns,” he said.
“We should wait in the bank for them,” Simon said.
“In the past, if we interfered with the events in the dream, things always go bad. Real bad.”
Simon said, “You guys have been doing this a long time.”
“Four hundred and fifty years,” Eriq said.
Simon whistled. “I thought I was old when I reached 100.”
“You’re still a boy,” John said. “Eriq is still a boy.”
Jericho kept his eye trained on the bank. “All three of you are boys compared to me.”
“I was born in 603 A.D.,” John said.
“I’ve been around since before they first invented calendars.”
Jericho held out the telescope to Eriq. “Take a turn.”
Eriq took the telescope and peered through it. A man walked into the bank, but Eriq was expecting four, so he stared and waited. The man came out again. Eriq waited and watched. Sometimes he glanced up and down the street.
Simon said, “My turn.”
“I’m fine,” Eriq whispered.
An hour or so passed in silence with all four men watching out the window. Jericho whispered, “There they are.”
John pulled his scattergun off his back. “Let’s go.”
All four warlocks raced out of the house. The four men on horses walked into the bank. The lawmen waited outside. A tense few moments passed with Eriq holding an arrow back all the way. Simon had a six-gun in each hand. John had the shotgun by his hip. Jericho stood with one hand on his sword hilt.
Jesse James stepped out of the bank first. He was a lean figure dressed in riding leathers with a clean shaven face and neatly combed hair. He didn’t notice the warlocks at first. The next three robbers stepped out. Clell sported a full beard and mustache. Frank and Cole followed, and that’s when all four dark knights noticed the warlocks.
The sounds of thunder and cannon echoed off the houses as both sides of the law summoned magic and began casting. Simon fired right-left, right-left aiming true at Jesse’s heart, but a simple ward flashed around him like a bright light. John’s scattergun went boom, but this time a green ward danced around the troop of men, and shotgun pellets dropped to the ground.
Jesse opened fire with his six gun aiming at Eriq. At the same time, a wave of darkness bled out of the bloodstone around Jesse’s neck. The darkness flowed along the ground until it reached the warlock’s feet.
Eriq let loose his arrow with a great cracking of thunder, but the shaft splintered into a thousand pieces before it could reach Jesse. Frank and Cole threw blazing tunnels of red and yellow fire at Eriq, and he threw up a thick water ward. Simon fired more rounds from his revolvers with little effect. White lightning etched out of Clell’s hands and blasted Simon in the chest.
Jericho drew his sword and advanced. “Face me with cold steel, Jesse!”
Jesse laughed loud and bright. “I didn’t even bring a saber.” The bloodstone around his neck let out a great bellowing cackle. Lightning blazed out of Jesse’s hands into Jericho. He pushed himself off the ground and threw up a double layer copper ward to disperse the electrical jolts.
Eriq fired another arrow, this time at Clell. The arrow went far astray from its target, deflected by the bloodstone. Simon began to twitch as Clell’s lightning ate through his layered ward. Frank and Cole switched to lightning and added their strength in with Clell’s.
John bolstered Simon’s ward with a ward of his own. Eriq fired another arrow with no effect.
Jesse shouted, “Now!”
Clell nodded, and Eriq’s world melted. At first, he was falling into darkness as if drifting off to dream land. Silence encased him. He knew in his heart that he was dreaming. Jericho echoed in his mind, Do something.
Eriq didn’t have anything to do. He had an arrow nocked, but he was alone in a quiet forest. Part of him knew it was a dream, but part of him knew something was wrong. It was Autumn, and the tree leaves were beautiful shades of red and orange. There was a great creature almost human in form, but twelve feet tall and covered in green scales. It was feasting on a corpse of a deer or something. It was too mangled to tell what it was. The creature saw Eriq and smiled. Then charged. Jericho shouted, “Do something!”
Eriq raised his bow and launched an arrow at the beast. Jericho screamed. Eriq’s world melted back to Corydon, Iowa. Simon was on the ground, maybe dead. Jericho had an arrow clear through his body just above the hip.
The four dark knights were raining Lightning on John.
Pushing himself off the ground, John smiled at them. “I’ve lived over a thousand years, and damn if I’m going to let the likes of you finish me.” His eyes turned black as coal, and black lightning began to dance along his fingertips.
Jesse said, “Shit.”
All four dark knights jumped on their horses and took off.
Jericho groaned. Simon lay perfectly still. Eriq dropped his bow.
John reached down to feel Simon’s pulse. John shook his head. “He’s gone.”
Eriq approached Jericho.
John said, “You’re hurt bad.”
“Not as bad as Eriq is going to be hurt after I’m healed,” Jericho said between clenched teeth.
“It wasn’t my fault,” Eriq said.
“Whose fault was it!”
Jericho grabbed at the arrow and tried to pull it through. The arrow didn’t budge. There was a lot of blood. “Pull it through.”
John grabbed it and wrenched it out of him. White light coursed through the wound as Jericho healed it. He passed out.
“It wasn’t my fault,” Eriq said.
They buried Simon. Jericho woke up the next day. He didn’t say a word to Eriq about it, but the look in his eyes made it clear he’d never forget.
Jericho whispered to John, “Black lightning?”
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Eriq said.
“It’s a secret,” John said.
“I’ve never actually used it on anybody. I don’t know what it’ll do. Just summoning it always makes the dark knights flee.”
Jericho laughed with a huge on grin on his face.
“I’m still pissed at you,” Jericho said.