Dark Confidant in ‘The Case of the Missing Minus, Part Two’

Posted on Tuesday, August 20th, 2013 by KingRamz
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Previous installments:

Part One

Dark Confidant  

The Case of the Missing Minus, Part Two

When I came to, I was alive, which was a great start. But it quickly went downhill.
The hangover I’d had got together with the beating the tarmogoyf had given me and had little headache babies inside my head. I had a sharp pain in my back from the rock I was bent backwards over. A musclebound hulk of a man covered in animal skins
stood over me, snarling, breathing heavily and smelling like a locker room the day before laundry day.

The smell wasn’t
the thing that most concerned me right at that moment, though. The man also had one of his thick, meaty fists gripping my
throat. He wasn’t strangling me, but it seemed like things might go that direction soon if I didn’t play my cards right.

But that wasn’t the thing that most concerned me right at that moment, either. The man also had pushed his thigh pretty
deep into my personal space, preventing me from pulling my knees together. That was alarming enough to snap me to alert
in spite of the raging headache.

“Garruk Wildspeaker,” I said, trying to remain about as cool as I could with a thigh the size of a tree trunk about
an inch from my valuables, “fancy meeting you here. You’re not even going to buy me dinner first?”

“WHAT?” The meathead looked confused, and I breathed a little easier as he let go of my throat. “BEFORE DOING WHAT?”

“You tell me. You’re the one that apparently decided to get intimate while I was unconscious. Getting a little too close
for comfort with your thigh right there.” He looked down at his own thigh and blanched, apparently not having realized the
connotation of what he’d been doing. He backed away hastily.

“WHOA,” he said. I was pretty sure he couldn’t actually control the volume of his voice. “THAT’S JUST HOW I SAY HELLO, OKAY?”

“Whatever you say,” I said, pushing myself up and off the rock and dusting off my robes. “None of my business. So was that your
pet tarmogoyf that pounded out the Love Song of Night and Day on the back of my head?”

about Garruk, he’s not a subtle guy.

“You could’ve just sent a note or something, like a normal person, instead of going with the method that leaves me feeling
like I got hit by a dreadnaught. Why should I even listen to you after you had your tarmogoyf beat the hell out of me and drag
me out here to -” I looked around to take in my surroundings more clearly. “-the middle of the forest?”

“HA HA HA,” he said. I don’t mean he laughed; I mean he said those words. “YOU WILL LISTEN TO ME BECAUSE YOU ARE LOST IN THE

I rubbed my temples. This was going to be a long day. I wasn’t at all sure that I wouldn’t be able to make it out on my own,
but I was sure he could speed things up for me if he wanted. Might as well humor the big lummox. “Fine,” I said. “What do you want?”

“LILIANA,” he said. “LILIANA VESS,” he clarified, as if there were other Lilianas he might be talking about.

“Okay. What’s that got to do with me? I don’t know where she is. Haven’t seen her in months.” Dame had a way of
disappearing without a trace after she’d gotten what she wanted. Sometimes, she’d take half your stuff, too.
Was worth it, though, for all the things she taught me. That woman could tutor, if you know what I mean,
and we worked really well together. Fun while it lasted.

He was starting to sound desperate. Lily must’ve done a number on him.

“Sorry. My clients’ business is strictly confidential. Didn’t get my reputation as a reliable confidant by coughing
up everyone’s secrets all over the place.” Then he hit me. Sudden backhand across the face. I hadn’t been expecting
it, and it felt like being struck by a lightning bolt. I staggered backward, reeling from the blow. Then,
before I could think about it, I did something stupid. I hit him back.

I landed a pretty solid punch to his stomach, knocking the wind out of him. He grunted with surprise.
Guys like him never expect me to be able to put up a fight; probably because I’m black. In my line of work,
that just makes it all the more important to hit the gym and get my workouts in. Of course, that doesn’t
mean I can go toe-to-toe with green guys built like refrigerators, and usually when I get into an altercation
like that, I’m in the city and I have an escape plan. Here, I was out of my element, and Garruk was right at home.
Not to mention I had no idea where I was. So I didn’t bother to run. I just waited to see what he’d do next.

That was when he flipped.

Veins in his forehead, neck and forearms started to pulse and turn black. His irises followed suit.
The guy went from angry to completely-lost-it enraged. I was pretty sure he was about to start frothing
at the mouth. He advanced on me, and I knew that the situation was about to get very, very bad for me.
So I used the last trick I had left.

I closed my eyes and reached into myself to access my power – the power to reveal someone’s deepest,
darkest secrets. People are so entrenched in their layers and layers of doubt and self-deception that
when you peel it all back and show them what’s in their own minds, it has a potent, frequently even
painful, impact. And then you have planeswalkers, whose minds are so messed up with multifaceted
consciousnesses and knowledge of alternate dimensions that seeing the wrong thing at the wrong time
can bring down the whole house of cards.

For Garruk, the thing I revealed was… a really, really big wurm. I was actually disappointed,
and pretty sure I was about to die, but then he dropped his weapon, fell to his knees, clutched his
temples and shrieked like I’d just shown him Emrakul itself. At that point I figured my chances
with the woods were better than my chances with Garruk when he finally recovered from whatever
it was I’d shown him, so I picked a direction and took off running.

After a few minutes and several roots I’d tripped over, I stopped to think. I was sure Garruk
wasn’t dead, that he’d immediately follow my trail when he regained his faculties, and that when
he found me, I’d be too dead to be sure of anything else any more. I hadn’t made it out of the
woods yet, and I probably wasn’t going to before he caught up to me. I realized I had to do
something that he would never expect me to do.

I climbed a tree.

I was actually a fairly experienced tree climber, as it frequently comes in handy for me in situations
like the one I was in. A minute later, and I was safely perched on a branch near the top of the tree.
Just in the nick of time, too – as soon as I’d settled in, Garruk came crashing through with all
the grace of a drunk walrus. He didn’t even slow down when he passed underneath my hiding spot.
I love it when a plan comes together. I figured I’d give him a nice head start down the wrong path
before trying to find my way out of the forest. Half hour ought to do it.

Hours later, I realized I’d zoned out while listening for signs of Garruk and trying to forget how
badly my head hurt. I looked down at the ground and saw a guy standing at the base of the tree. He
was wholly unremarkable-looking; he wore standard-issue infantry armor, carried a spear and a shield,
and had a plain, forgettable face. You’ve seen one soldier, you’ve seen them all. Certainly
wasn’t anybody I recognized. He was also looking straight up at me. At that point, my cover was
blown anyway, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to see if I could get some useful information out of
the soldier. Like, for example, if Garruk was still nearby, or maybe which way was out.

“Hello down there,” I called out. “You haven’t seen an angry planeswalker nearby recently, have you?”
The guy didn’t say anything. He tensed his legs for a jump, and sprang into the air.
And then, at the apex of his jump, when he should’ve started falling back to the ground,
instead, he kept coming. And was actually coming faster, on a direct collision course with yours truly.

“Oh, shi-” I said, as his shield collided with my face. Everything went black.

Will Bob survive a shield to the face? Who is the mysterious soldier with amazing jumping ability? And
whatever happened to Hans? Find out in Part 3 of Dark Confidant in the Case of the Missing Minus, coming next week!