By the way he looked at me, I knew this time I had gone too far. Echo, the scout of our squad, looks at me. No emotion on his metal face, his blue eyes empty. But I understand what he feels. No, not understanding. It’s knowing. Knowing that what I just did was not right. Death all around me, a burning town in the night. I understand his looks, but I have to finish the job. I turn around again, the soldier is on the ground. I want him to stay there. But humans are brave creatures. He stands up. “Why do they have to be so brave?” something inside me says. But I have no option but to finish it the way I know it. The way I was instructed to. While the foolish soldier stands up, brave but foolish, I feel it coming. “Threat level: 0%.” I make for the legs, first.
“Threat level: 20%” The large furry beasts look angry. I was not to disturb them. Shame that they don’t control me. My hands are free. The monsters walk towards me. They’re certainly twice my size. Wouldn’t be able to stand in a tavern. But they’ll never have to again. I recall the sheriff. “A reward of 100 gold pieces to whoever kills or drives away the bugbears residing in the forests around Khalash” he said. So that is what I did. The bugbears resided in caves, open spots in the woods and would ambush travellers on the road. Those camps are no more. Now all I am doing is tying up some loose ends. There is 3 left, 2 are right before me. The sound of metal coming out of a leather sheet. The bugbears readying their spiked clubs. “Are you ready?” I remark when readying the sword. My metal hand is holding the handle of the weapon while I lift the other up, calling upon an unknown source inside of me. Yellow sparkles start shooting from my fingertips.
I put the jar on the table. “Sorry Metalneck, we don’t buy. Maybe you should try one of them butchers on the market.” “Excuse me. I am not looking to sell.” He looks up from his paper. “Look you big bag of bolt-” when he sees what’s in the jar.
“Wait.. are those bugbear ears?”
“And toes. And fingers… And a tongue.”
Now he looks me in the eyes. I wonder what he sees behind that red glow?
“You… weren’t you here just a few days ago?”
“So you took care of…. all of those things?”
“You are on a roll today, sheriff.”
He smirks. Stands up and takes the jar.
“Don’t go all funny with me… how do I even know you were the one who did this, huh? You might carry a big ol’ sword around but that doesn’t prove anything.” Is this a challenge?
“What are trying to say, sheriff?”
“I want to know where you killed these bastards. You know, for confirmation.”
Why wouldn’t he say so before? “Alright.”
I reach inside my cloak. After some rummaging I pull out a scroll.
“A map of all the locations I found the bugbears.” He looks surprised.
“You actually made a map? I certainly didn’t expect that… uhm, Dorok! Gather some men, we’re going to check out the forest.”
I make for the door. Just when I open it the sheriff says: “Red ink? I’ve never seen that before… how’d you manage that?”
“Oh sheriff, I am afraid you are mistaken.” He looks at me confused.
“That right there. It’s not ink.”
I’m in a corner of the tavern. The sheriff told me to wait here. The atmosphere is nice. It smells like beer, I think. Most of interior consists of wood, with a big stone fireplace on the left wall. I am sitting on an oaken-wood chair, on the right from the entrance. The bar is just before me, with the bartender throwing looks at me every few seconds. Maybe it’s because of the hood? I do presume it is a bit rude to wear a hood indoors. I take it off. The barman notices and looks shocked. “Bad idea.” I murmur. Fortunately then the door opens and the sheriff bursts in.
“Where is that metalhead at?”
“Right here, sheriff.” He looks around. I see a bewildered look in his eyes. I remember that look all too well, but that’s not of importance for now.
“What would be the problem?”
He walks towards me and puts his hands on the table. The bartender looks at us even more shocked than before.
“How?” he simply asks. His voice is very slow, borderline threatening. I don’t like it. “How what?” I say while slowly reaching for my sword next to me.
“How’d you kill all those bugbears?”
“Oh, it’s simple.”
He stands up, straightening his back into the usual formal pose.
“Simple? I wouldn’t have been able to do that with all the towns men on my side and you’re just one… fighter.”
I make a sound that I think seems like a grin. My mouth doesn’t support a grin movement.
“You’ve just answered your own question.”
I stand up and go to the bar.
“Oh, so you’re just a fighter? I’ve met multiple of you metal freaks. You’re all fighters, but I don’t believe only one of you can beat that many bugbears. The places we came across were not just full of body’s, no those body’s were almost unrecognisable. What did you do to those things?”
At the bar I put some coins on the counter.
“I’m sorry for holding up your space for so long.”
I say in a low volume.
“Do you have a name, sheriff?” I remark, now in my normal volume.
“What? Of course I have a name. I’m sheriff Tirron Nachels of Khalash!”
Another grin sound.
“Well, Tirron, I too have a name.”
I scan him while approaching the door. As I thought. A pouch, about the weight of… 100 gold pieces. I walk towards him, while putting the sword on my back. I take my quarterstaff and put it into my hand. When I stand only a little away from him, he replies:
“And uh, what would that name be?”
Again I walk towards the door. When I push it open with my right hand, I hold up the pouch with the other.
“When I fought in the war, now five years ago, my comrades would call me… Psycho.”