Male witches of many cultures are known collectively as the Lost. Aaron Walker founded a charity to help them, and now international corporations are trying to kill him.

This urban fantasy starts like a hardboiled detective novel and continues with non-stop action where each character has a unique voice. Fans of the Amber series and X-Men will enjoy this adventure.

With a handful of former students, Aaron hops from one hidden enclave of cultural magic to another, hoping to survive long enough to contact the witches of New Salem. But the assassins don't scare Aaron as much as the price the witch Rose demands for her aid--to father a child. Merodak, the demon, offers him a way out but he’s a pathological liar with a twisted sense of humor.
Available on Amazon or in paperback.

SAMPLE of Foundation for the Lost
Copyright 2011 Scott Rhine

Chapter 1 – A Day in the Life

Aaron Walker searched the casino for signs of magic. Appearing to be in his thirties, Aaron could have passed as a member of an Amish church or a haggler at a Hasidic diamond exchange. He dressed in the same style of plain black suit and boots that he’d owned since Grover Cleveland was president. Unimpressive physically, he wore no ornamentation except the chain attached to his antique pocket watch.
Excited shouts came from the roulette tables. The ocean of humanity and cigarette stench washed past him as he went to investigate. A rotund Hispanic man beside the table placed a large bet on black. Four other gamblers followed his lead. Soon, the ball wound down and began chattering across the slots. While everyone else watched the ball, Aaron watched the obese man. At the critical moment, the man screwed up his face with effort and made a clutching gesture with his hand.
“Black seventeen,” the croupier announced. The crowd roared with excitement as they collected their money.
A silent watcher against the wall drew Aaron in like gravity. With the stark beauty of an obsidian gravestone, he looked like an Arab sheik without the headdress. Instead, he wore regulation curved horns. The demon in a three-piece suit greeted Aaron with the obligatory warning script, “I am a liar…”
Aaron waved his hand. “You have permission to skip my warnings. I know what you are and proceed at my own risk under the Articles of Free Will, paragraph seven. What’s your name?”
The demon struggled with this but eventually whispered, “Merodak.” Smoke hung in the air in front of the demon’s lips. “I usually go by Murray these days.”
The name sounded more Babylonian than the traditional Hebrew, but he wasn’t here to discuss ancient history or etymology. “Have you given the victim the required three warnings?”
The demon looked offended. “We prefer the term client. I run a respectable business, sir, in which you meddle. I claim my rights to pursue the wicked under section two…”
Aaron waved off the citations again. “Stipulated. I have no objections. I am required as a deputized Tsaphah to check.”
The demon, mollified, adjusted his red power tie. “It’s a good thing there are only a handful of your kind left. Even your clothes are constrained to rigid black and white.”
He glanced down. “My shirt’s ecru, not white.” This change to his wardrobe, however, was recent and had taken considerable effort. In Hebrew, he whispered, “Don’t try to change the subject. Was the power used to stop the ball his or yours?”
“His, but you’re not allowed to tell him that. His telekinesis is so low-grade that he can’t lift anything heavier than a marble.”
The young Hispanic man placed half of his chips on red this time. When the wheel came up double zero, the crowd moaned and the croupier raked in the winnings. Aaron said, “His gift isn’t very reliable.”
The demon smiled. “Eventually, the house always wins.”
The young man scooped up his remaining chips and walked toward them. When he noticed them talking, he said in a high, Spanish accent, “Hey, mister. You can see this guy, too?”
“Let’s talk outside.” Las Vegas always left a patina of grime no amount of cleaning could remove. Aaron detoured past the brilliantly lit Bellagio fountains, hoping to lift his spirits a little.
When they were out of earshot of the crowds, Aaron spoke to the demon. “Would you allow me a small indulgence, a brief conversation with your victim?”
“Proceed, lawman, as long as this counts as my hourly verbal reminder.”
Aaron sighed. His voice sounded flat as he said, “Be thou warned, victim, that I have never seen one of these creatures grant a wish that you could not achieve on your own with seven to ten years of hard work. Do you still believe this worth the peril to your soul?”
The man between them snorted. “Ten years of effort in one wish? Por supuesto. Hell, yeah!”
Merodak spread his hands in mock apology.
“What’s your name, son?” asked Aaron.
“You may not realize this yet, Umberto, but they’re going to beat you so badly you won’t be able to chew your own food. This demon is going to laugh while they’re pounding you, and I won’t be able to lift a finger to prevent it.”
“That’s where you’re wrong, Jefe. I got me a system. Every night, I switch the game. Last night, it was craps. They’ll never catch on. What do you care?”
“I keep the Balance. Among other things, I help regulate the flagrant use of magic to make sure the Adams are neither aware of nor victimized by the supernatural.”
The demon raised a finger. “Stealing from casinos technically falls under the category of punishing the wicked, and I’ve coached him in discretion.”
“I also shepherd Lost people such as yourself. If you give back everything you have stolen…”
The young man only laughed, like a horse whinnying.
“Murray, old boy, you’ve been more than fair. I’ll leave you to your client.” As Aaron left, he tossed a business card to the gambler. “If you happen to come to your senses before the fires of Gehenna consume you, call the Walker Foundation for the Lost, day or night.”
The demon made a gesture with his thumb and forefinger like someone smoking a joint.
Aaron gave a wry smile. He knew that the warnings would make no difference.
Aaron’s next lead took him to the studio of a popular wedding photographer. Mr. Fox was skinny, with a single diamond stud in his ear and long, graying hair pulled back into a ponytail.
The photographer retained copyrights to all images taken, and fees for reprints tended to vary with the model of car the customer drove. The sight of Aaron’s well-tailored, silk-lined jacket made Fox salivate. “Sir, please sit! May we offer you some wine?”
Softly, Aaron replied, “No. I need access to your archives from about thirty years ago, from your earlier career.”
“You’ll have to be a little more specific, sir.”
“The month before you went to prison for making fake driver’s licenses in New York.”
The photographer’s face went rigid, but Aaron continued calmly. “It took me a long time to track you down. You use high-quality paper for a forger, which was how I was able to identify you as the man who made this passport.” He passed over a photocopy of a woman’s falsified Canadian papers.
“You’re mistaken,” Fox said.
“I’m not from the police. In fact, I’ve used services like yours before. All I need is information on this woman and her child.”
The lure of money eventually overcame the sting Fox felt. “Even if you were right, and I’m not saying you are, why would I help you? You could be a detective hired by an abusive husband to steal the child.”
Aaron shook his head. “The woman is already dead. Her child is a friend, and I am searching for information that may help her.”
“Convince me.”
Aaron had originally encountered the case as a suspicious fire. Many untrained witches burned their own homes down by mistake. Workers at the shelter where the woman had stayed had identified other telltale symptoms of paranoia, compulsive behavior, and speaking in strange languages. “Do you remember a news story that all the tabloids picked up that winter, called ‘Dumpster Baby?’”
Fox nodded. It had been a particularly gut-wrenching tale even for the Big Apple. “Yeah. Some two year old got tossed in a huge, empty dumpster and couldn’t climb out. If that lady from the diner hadn’t found her, the kid may have frozen. The cops never found the parents.”
 “I did.” Aaron said. “The mother was considered clinically insane. They found her in the burned-out ruins of a warehouse two blocks from that diner, surrounded by the homeless and drug users.” He tapped the passport. “You forged papers for the mother.”
“What do you expect to get from me?”
“The originals for this passport photo, other photos, notes, customer paperwork, or some clue as to her real identity. No one wants to be remembered as Dumpster Baby for the rest of their lives.”
“Can you prove she’s your friend?”
Once again, Aaron glanced down. “She got me this shirt. It’s the only reason I wear it. It’s a bit loud for my taste.”
The photographer looked at his own lime-green, paisley tie and chuckled. “I’ll be right back.”
After sifting through his old records, he came back with a single album. “I remember it now. The lady had no cash, so she paid with a ruby ring. I made a passport for her kid as well. Since the little girl knew her own name and might give the game away, I used her real first name on the paperwork, Flora. But this mother didn’t seem crazy to me.”
“On what basis?” Aaron asked.
The photographer flipped open the book to a heartbreakingly beautiful scene of a redheaded mother kissing the forehead of her little girl. “I threw in a wallet-sized of this candid shot that I captured while we were setting up the ID photos. I used this eight by ten as a sample on my wall for years. It brought me a lot of business.”
Aaron stared. “I want this.”
Fox smiled, “Originals cost a thousand dollars … cash.”
“I only have five hundred on me. Would you take a check?”
“Nothing traceable.”
“I wonder if you’ve ever told your partner about your criminal past or your little side business.”
The photographer tightened his lips. “Okay, I’ll take the five hundred and that gold watch of yours.”
Aaron gazed at the angelic beauty of the photo. The watch had been given to him by a banker over a century ago. Possessions couldn’t compare to her smile. “Done.”
By the time he reached his hotel, Aaron could no longer remember the face of the gambler Murray was trying to cheat. That fact caused him pain, but he couldn’t give up hope. He propped the picture of mother and child on his bed stand and stared at it until he turned out the light.
Only in the darkness did the meaning of the demon’s words sink in. If the fiend could be trusted, there were other members of his village still alive—he wasn’t the only Tsaphah left.

Chapter 2 – A Demon Walks into a Bar

Using the title of Tsaphah, or Watchman, again after so many years had jolted Aaron out of his usual orbit. He began to think more about his former clan’s village in Poland. Aaron knew that his people had been treated like every other Jew in Nazi-occupied Europe, but he had always hoped for survivors. Every time he heard a tale of a nurse or priest who hid Jewish children among the Gentiles, fantasies stirred in his mind. So he did what he had been avoiding since his banishment. Over the next three months, Aaron’s real estate holding corporation acquired all the farms touching his old village.
Approaching his chief financial officer and longtime assistant, Aaron made a confession. “Muriel, I need something from Poland, but I can’t go there.”
Aaron had hired her nearly twenty-five years ago when women had fewer business opportunities. She handled the day-to-day operations of his growing hotel chain and a few small savings and loans that dealt primarily with cultural minorities and immigrants. On paper, Aaron’s job was to scout new land investment opportunities and oversee the philanthropic arm of the business. However, real estate was a cover for his frequent and mysterious travel. He had a seat on the board with 30 percent of the stock. Together, Muriel and his longtime lawyer voted 21 percent of the stock.
Extremely loyal and competent, Muriel had never asked why her employer aged more slowly than most men nor why he disappeared for seven years at a time. Whenever he needed new identification documents or help getting out of a tricky government probe, Aaron would drop a discrete word, and the problem would vanish. He suspected her of being an Israeli spy but never broached the subject. After her discretion, it would have been rude.
Her hair graying now, Muriel was still as full of fire as the first day, though her accent had softened. “Do you need an emergency visa?”
“Not exactly. Do you remember that special acquisition in the eastern bloc?” The amount had not been huge, but it clearly had not been a for-profit venture, and there was no plan yet on the books. Aaron had till December to explain or obscure the transaction. “I need to retrieve a historical artifact. It technically belongs to me, but due to certain promises I’ve made, I cannot go to this place to retrieve it.”
Muriel removed and folded her reading glasses. “What sort of artifact?”
“Birth and death records of a town erased by genocide,” he said, his voice getting softer with each word.
“In that case, write detailed instructions on how this find could best be made, and I’ll arrange for the Holocaust Museum’s help.”
Aaron seemed uncertain. “They would do this for me?”
“Your ‘father’ was very generous to them in his will,” Muriel said, using air quotes to remind him of his last identity change. She knew her boss wasn’t an idiot. He spoke at least nine languages and had piloted this company through the Great Depression. “When I’m done, it will be their idea.”
So it was that in another couple months, Aaron found himself at a meeting in the office of the chief archivist for the Holocaust Museum, Dr. Helen Cohen. She had long, wavy hair and a soft voice, but he noticed little else in his discomfort. He felt uneasy being enclosed in this place, underground, cement, with no windows.
“A problem, sir?” she asked, compassionate but too young to understand. She had a tweed jacket with patches on the elbows. It was all academic to her. She had never been thrown in a jail cell or kicked into near unconsciousness for being Auslander.
“Bad memories,” he replied, drawing in a cleansing breath and focusing her desk. The desk held a scroll in a hermetically sealed glass case. “You have the Book of Life.”
The archivist blinked. “Yes. How did you know that’s what the genealogical record was called?”
“It’s written on the bronze seal across the top.”
“Exactly. This particular record goes back fourteen generations and is a priceless archeological and cultural find. We can’t thank you enough for donating it to our organization.”
“There’s an expression in Europe: Never listen to an American until he says ‘but.’ What is your ‘but’ going to be, madam?”
The archivist blushed slightly. “The documents are too fragile to let you handle them. However, we’ve made copies for your people to analyze.” She pulled a phone book-sized, sealed folder out of her desk and handed it over to him.
He broke the seal immediately and began flipping the pages to the most recent generations. The archivist continued apologizing. “It doesn’t make too much sense to the layman. The dates all use the old lunar calendar. It’s also written in an obscure dialect known as Temple argot. We’ll have to send to England for an expert on some of the text.”
Aaron paused briefly near the 1860s in the record. There, one name had been drawn through. From the letter fragments still visible above and below the line, he could see that the redacted name was Aaron. His very birth had been removed from the people’s history, the Book of Life.
“What of the survivors?” Aaron said to cover his emotions.
The curator became more formal. “At your request, we took the set of all children who were twelve or younger at the time of the war. We removed names appearing in death camp records or police and hospital records in the region.” During the dramatic pause, he exerted extreme self-control. “There are three possible survivors, all noted on the cover page.”
He flipped back immediately, and stared. There were three Tsaphah names, their Polish adopted names, and the villages they grew up in. This was the best lead he’d had in seventy years, but he had to get out of this smothering vault.
A nervous assistant came to the door. “Doctor Cohen, there’s an emergency call on line one.”
While the curator answered her phone, Aaron took the cover page and tucked it into his inner jacket pocket, leaving the rest. After a few seconds, she handed the phone to him.
“Why can’t I get you to carry a blasted cell phone?” asked Joseph Redwing, the director of his consumer satisfaction call center. Aaron had obtained permission from the board to staff the center with Indians but used American Indians instead. It was a small effort to keep the reservation economy afloat.
Aaron shrugged. “They always stop working after a day.”
Redwing didn’t explain about recharging. It was futile. A lot of technology stopped working if it stayed around Aaron Walker too long. “We got a hotline call on your personal number from a Las Vegas bar. Subject is incapacitated, but the caller says it’s life-or-death. I’ll send details to the Nevada site.”
Aaron hung up and turned to the curator. “A friend is in need of emergency medical service. I am … a donor. Can someone in a fast car drive me?”
In minutes, tires were screeching to a halt in front of a busy hospital. Aaron waved to the driver, made his way in one door of the hospital and out the rear. Racing up the steps of his brownstone, he unlocked the door. Once inside, he relocked the deadbolts and made sure the blinds were drawn before he opened the seamless secret panel off the kitchen. There was no time for an airplane. He had to use emergency transportation. He closed the hidden door behind him. This room had very particular proportions and special properties. From it, at great personal cost, he could walk.
Aaron stared at the handmade mandala on the floor. A medicine man friend had taken almost a year to get the sand painting just right. There was a lot of yellow in the diagram of the universe, which used uranium compounds found on the reservation.

Sitting on the cushion, he slowed his breathing and heart rate. He repeated the words his father taught him long ago and rose into the Above, transcending the everyday. He could see a ball of golden light floating over his head, revolving like a sun, complete with the spots. Concentrating on the imperfections on the sun’s surface, he searched for a pattern. He wasn’t good at this like Papa, but Aaron had left beacons around the world. He built specifically proportioned rooms in each hotel he owned with signatures that were visible from Above. Concentrating, he could see a room identical in shape to the secret chamber in his home.
The higher-dimensional math was difficult, and he had never mastered the transition from many to just three. After making sure there were no witnesses at the destination, Aaron shot into the Las Vegas hotel room like an acrobat leaping from a trampoline. He always closed his eyes for this part. His feet hit the far wall hard enough to twist his left ankle. Fortunately, the floor was strewn with cushions. He lay on them for a few moments, recovering.
In the lobby, he noted the time. The entire trip since his phone call had taken less than twenty minutes. A cab waited for him out front, courtesy of Redwing. He tipped the driver to go as fast as possible.
Soon Aaron limped into the bar with the unlikely name of The Filthy Ducat. He rushed to the door of the manager’s office, and the owner opened it a crack. Wails of pain could be heard as someone rolled on the floor. “I’m kind of busy right now.”
“I’m from the Foundation.”
The long-haired, stubble-faced man furrowed his brow for a moment, and then the penny dropped. “The name on the card.” He looked both ways and then dragged the Aaron into the cramped room as quickly as possible. He shook hands and said, “I’m Donovan.” There was paraphernalia from a career in rock music on the walls: a single that made number ten on the charts, an electric guitar, and several newspaper clippings from all over the country featuring the owner’s photograph. On the floor, someone was curled in a ball.
Aaron’s sympathy evaporated when he noticed the familiar suit and the horns. “Murray, you blasphemous toad.”
Donovan smiled and said with a slight Irish lilt. “Ah, you do know him, then.”
Ignoring the human, Aaron asked, “What have you done with the man who called me?”
Donovan held his hands up. “That was me. I called you. I needed someone to help poor Murray here. One minute, he was just sitting there with his fruit-flavored vodka telling this story about three crusaders in a nunnery when bam, flames shoot up from his drink, and he screams like he’s pissing holy water.”
Aaron seethed. “You know what he is?”
Donovan laughed. “Yeah, but he’s not all bad. He got me this bar. We won the money together in this dirty limerick contest. We named the bar after the poem.”
Aaron raised a hand to stop him. “I’ve just burned a great deal of my power reserves to get here in a hurry. Why should I waste more to help a soul-sucking demon?”
“If you substituted the word ‘black’ for demon, you’d be called a racist,” said Donovan.
“I do everything in my power to preserve our race from him and his kind. By what stretch of the imagination would I ever lift a finger to prevent his utter annihilation?”
“Well, your card did say you help the Lost. He is, by very definition, about as forsaken as a body can be.”
Aaron gaped at the logic but could say nothing to counter it. The only thing he could manage was, “How can I justify taking food from the homeless, widows, and orphans to give to this creature?”
Donovan seized the word. “Creature means created, by the same hand that made thee. Sir, you wouldn’t let a dog suffer the way poor Murray is.”
Aaron wrestled with the point of dogma. Do we show kindness even to the unworthy?
Murray wheezed, “Would you help for favors?”
“How can he talk without the warnings?” asked Aaron.
“Can asking a question ever be considered a lie?” countered Donovan, grinning.
“Did you find some kind of loophole in the rules?”
Donovan warmed to the sport. “Have you seen Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead?” He could play the question game for hours.
 “What happened to the client he was with earlier, the one he stole the card from?” demanded Aaron, tiring of the evasion.
“Do you really want guys like that pissing in the gene pool?” laughed Donovan.
Mewling sounds interrupted their exchange, and Aaron bent down to examine the suffering fiend. Aaron sighed. “Can you play that guitar, or is it just for show from your second wish?”
Donovan snorted. “Does the pope shit in the woods? Demons can’t give you talent or calluses. My success was my own.”
“Declarative, you lose,” Aaron announced. “Now get that guitar and play something soothing for him, a Celtic lullaby or something.”
Donovan blinked. “Wow, you’re good. The whole David and King Saul angle never occurred to me.” He pulled the electric guitar down and hooked it to a small amplifier that he kept behind his desk. Murray’s twitching became less intense as the musician strummed. Donovan switched songs and softly crooned a song from Nine Inch Nails. A smile spread across the demon’s face.
“You’re pretty good yourself,” admitted Aaron. “This won’t be permanent, but the fit has passed for now.”
Donovan put his guitar back. “You want a pint of something, sir? On the house.”
“No, thank you. Murray and I need some time alone to talk.”
“I am a liar,” began Murray when the bartender left.
“Skip it,” said Aaron. “Tell me why I’m here.”
“Be patient, as I must speak in metaphor,” said Merodak, implying he had been forbidden to share the reason. “When the Flood ended, what changed in the world?”
Aaron said, “The rainbow.”
“White light was split into its components.” The demon approached the next topic with care. “What happened during the Babel sanction?”
“God fragmented the one language into many to prevent rebellion.”
“How did God ensure it wouldn’t happen again?”
Aaron thought about this. “There weren’t any new strictures placed on men. Were there new rules placed on your kind?”
“What would give demons a vested interest in preventing a repeat of the Tower insurrection?”
Aaron shrugged. “Make each of your kind responsible for keeping some set of languages alive? I suppose this wouldn’t be difficult. Language is an informational construct carried by regional human beings.”
“What happens when certain tribes die out or the last person who speaks a language passes?”
Aaron guessed, “You are punished all over again for the rebellion. Why should this bother me?”
Murray smiled and spread his hands expansively. “Your mandate is to preserve the Balance, and you would do it just to save the primitive human lives involved.”
Aaron sighed, trying to find a way out of this trap. “Okay, I can investigate and maybe stop the loss; however, this goes beyond the mandate. You’ve already cost me, Fallen. What will you give me to repay my expenditures?”
Murray rose with almost sexual excitement. “Oh … the Watchman wants to make a deal with the Devil?”
“I asked you what you thought was fair, what you voluntarily offer to the one who dragged your writhing form off the floor. I came in minutes to rescue you. How long did your last fit last?”
The smile vanished. “Two favors. Timely aid for the aid you gave me. Call my name, and I will appear as you did. For the second, I give you counsel for as long as I stay seizure-free.”
“Whenever I want?”
“Sometimes when you don’t want,” the demon said with a chuckle.
“But you’re a liar,” reasoned Aaron.
The demon clapped his hands. “Yes. That’s what makes it so interesting. The voice of God can come through a donkey, and every good lie has the kernel of truth.”
“What about the soothing technique I taught your Renfield, here? That ought to be worth something.”
The demon pursed his lips. “What did you have in mind?”
“I want immunity for Donovan. He doesn’t get harvested.”
The demon was taken aback. “I never had any intention of harming him. This world has a shortage of interesting people. Agreed. I’m surprised you’re not going to ask immunity for yourself.”
“Wouldn’t that be like wishing that wishes couldn’t affect me?”
“A fair point. Is it a covenant?”
Aaron rubbed his own forehead. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but swear it. I figure if you’re with me, you won’t be corrupting someone else.”
The demon gave his word and smoke appeared over his lips.
Aaron took his waiting taxi to the airport to return by the slow route.
The search took weeks. Aaron put up a new corkboard in his customer service office on the reservation to collect the data. He started the search with the Foundation for Endangered Languages, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and with the help of friends from several countries. The Internet searches yielded so many possibilities he had to get help from Merodak to winnow the list.
Aaron constantly struggled with his corporate duties, which took at least twenty hours a week to complete. Unfortunately, he couldn’t shed the mundane tasks entirely; they made the bulk of his search apparatus possible and helped fulfill his duties of charity and aid to foreigner, orphan, and widow. For the near term, he began delegating as many of these tasks as possible to young people he could trust, or those proposed by his lawyer and Muriel. She recognized the fervor that came with new projects and gave him some leeway. Such projects often ended up becoming new divisions of the company.
When the list was done, there were somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty-six tribes in imminent danger of extinction, and their languages with them. A couple of tribes were in active war zones. Those pictures were the easiest to find. However, most of the dying languages were in developed nations that were slowly squeezing out a losing culture. Children stopped learning the language of ancestors and history.
Aaron was staring at the board when Redwing came in with a sheaf of papers for him to sign. “You need sleep, teacher.”
“I survive.”
“You look like a street person, boss. Eat something. The shareholder’s meeting is coming up. If they see you looking like this, they’re going to sell, or have you committed.”
Aaron continued to stare holes in the board containing his problem.
Redwing leaned over him and whispered in his ear. “You can’t save all of them.”
“I had come to that conclusion myself, but I would settle for delaying the inevitable for some of them, or at least preserving the culture of a few of the closest. That one over there we can help by putting pressure on a mining corporation to pay their royalties and stop poisoning the river. As for the rest, there are only so many interested and qualified academics.”
“Aren’t the Yana already gone?” Redwing asked, pointing to a separate printout taped to the upper right corner.
“I tried to cut that language, too, but Merodak says there are still three scholars that speak it … no, two. One just had a heart attack last week. We should probably do background checks on those two and consider paying people to study under them.”
Redwing said, “I’ll keep researching and put the pressure on the corporate bastards. You need to get your butt to bed now, or I’m going to carry you there myself.”
Aaron surrendered, shuffling off to Kickaha the shaman’s home and the spare bed that awaited him. Only when he had hung up his suit and brushed his teeth did he notice the golden ceremonial dagger stuck through his pillow. The dagger pinned a note where it could not be missed. In handwritten calligraphy, it warned, “An early retirement or this, your choice.”
Sighing, he tossed the note and the weapon into a box with the other threats and offers for his company. He ignored the feathers that flew out of the new holes and fell asleep in minutes.