May 26th, 2004
|ookaminotsuki||11:48 am - I'm not cutting this because I'm the only person in this community.|
Olan smiled slightly, a thoroughly angry and evil look. "I don't think you understand the situation that you're in, stranger. Tell us what you're here for, or the boys and I will just have to beat it out of you."
The man moved like lightning, his left hand drawing the sword over his shoulder in a movement so quick that Randai couldn't even follow it. The blade now squarely rested against Olan's throat, a look of stunned amazement taking over his face as he realised the situation that ~he~ was now in. Randai was amazed at the way that the firelight made the weapon gleam like fresh blood, until he realised that the blade itself was a bright red. Before Randi could process this information however, the man spoke again, looking up from his beer and meal and piercing the increasingly scared crowd with cold eyes. "Make any move
against me and you will die, friends. If I see or hear drawn steel, you will also die. Do you understand me?"
Rumm snorted derisively. "You're bluffing. There's one of you and ten of us. There's no way you could win."
The man shifted his gaze to Rumm and Rumm squirmed under the intensity of the look. "I guarantee that you would not live to see whether I am right or not. This is your final chance."
There were several moments of uncomfortable silence, Olan still with a sword at his throat as the men looked to each other questioningly. Finally, Olan stepped back and the collective courage of the group was broken. Muttering and casting glances over their shoulder at the stranger, most of them slunk back to their tables. The man merely sheathed his sword slowly and went back to his meal, the hiss of steel on leather clearly audible through the common room.
Randai shook his head, embarassed at the way he had just frozen up, and walked to the table where Olan and Rumm were again sitting. "I think it might be best for you two to head on home. You've had enough to drink for one night."
Rumm snorted bitterly. "Go home to what, Randai? A home where my son's blood still stains the floor? My wife and daughter left for the City of Sail days ago, telling me to send word for them when it's safe. But it's still not safe and might never be safe again. We don't know anything about what's going on around here."
Olan finished his beer and nodded his agreement. "Twenty people have been killed Randai. You know that. If we don't find and stop whatever's doing this we might all die. Or be driven off. We've lost too much already to let anything pass now."
"I can't just let you threaten any traveller passing by either, Olan. It'll put me out of business and get you hung by the Count's men." Randai looked at the two men steadily, but they refused to meet his gaze. "I want the both of you to head on home. You're better men than this and hopefully in the morning you'll realise that."
"Aye, maybe you're right Randai. But..." Rumm paused and his eyes flickered to the stranger still silently finishing his meal. "...Keep an eye on him. He's got a bad feel to him."
Randai nodded. "I'll do what I can. Good eve, friends." Randai waited until the two of them had left before returning behind the bar to think about what had happened. He had a nagging feeling that there was something important about the stranger's blades, shining crimson in the dim light of the fireplace. It only came to him as he gathered up dirty dishes for washing in the morning and before his doubts could sway him, he set the dishes down and walked casually over to the stranger. The man looked up at him, a faint note of irritation in his face. "What is it that you want?"
"You're a...Hunter, aren't you?" Randai had wanted to come across more confident, but the strangers dark eyes unsettled him more than he wanted to admit.
One eyebrow raised in surprise, but the stranger nodded. "You're an observant one, Innkeeper. How did you know?"
"Your swords." Rondai gestured to the blades, still in their sheathes."I saw similar weapons when I was in the King's army in my youth and I've never heard of anybody but a Hunter to have such things."
The stranger nodded slightly. "What more did you have to say, Innkeeper? If you know what I am, then you can guess why I'm here."
Randai shook his head. "Not here. Not now. After your show earlier tonight, I'm taking a risk just by speaking to you. After everybody has left, I'll see if I can point you in the right direction. For all our sakes."
The stranger nodded and returned to his beer as Randai turned to leave under the questioning stares from the few villagers still in the room. The evening flowed and slowly the villagers started to file out, their work starting early the next morning. Finally, when the last customer was gone, he walked over to the stranger's table and sat across from him.
The stranger wasted no time getting right to the point. "So what information do you have for me, Innkeeper? I have little information on what is going on here and fewer leads on where to start."
"I don't know any more than anybody else in the village." Randai hesitated when he saw anger flash briefly across the stranger's face. "But I do know someone who might be able to help. In the forest northwest of town is a man, a hermit named Warec. He doesn't come down to town very much, but a bear can't take a shit in the woods and surrounding area without him knowing about it. If anybody can point you in the right direction, he can."
"And how will I find this hermit?" The stranger asked, draining the last of his mug.
"North of town there's a stream that crosses the road. Follow the stream north by west until you reach a small waterfall and pool. It's about seven or eight miles from the road. He'll find you there if you wait long enough, if only to tell you to get the hell out of his woods." Randai smiled slightly.
"And you think he will know something?" The stranger seemed somewhat skeptical.
Randai shrugged slightly. "I'm not sure. But if anybody around here has a hint of what is going on, he will. Do you think that Veil Creatures are doing it?"
Now it was the stranger's turn to shrug. "I don't know. But whatever it is, I will find it and put a stop to it."
The utter confidence in the stranger's voice amazed Randai. Randai had seen the aftermath of two of the murders and he had his doubts that any one person could put an end to whatever had torn those people apart. "I hope you're right, Hunter. I hope you're right."
Randai stood to continue the last minute cleaning of the common room to prepare for the next day. When he looked up from the table he was wiping down, the stranger was gone. Randai assumed that it was to the room he'd rented and muttered to himself. "I'm not sure whether to pity that man or to pity whatever poor bastard ends up on the wrong side of his blades."
Current Mood: depressed
Current Music: Tsuyoshi Sekito, Kenichiro Fukui - Those Who Fight Further (Final Fantasy VII)