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I can't hear about a writing challenge and now take part! Here's my contribution. I started at 6:34 and finished at 7:20, so it's actually a 46 minute story, sorry. I've had the idea for it sitting around in my head for a while, I was going to do something similar in a DnD campaign that I'm DMing, but I think it fits better here.A Traveler's TaleAll that I remember is blood. So much blood that night and it was everywhere. It got into everything, coated everything. I thought that I was going to drown in it. It was like a living thing, it scratched at my skin, flowed around my flesh, tried to force its way into my ears and eyes, and down my throat. There was so much blood. He brought so much blood with him.
= a horror yarn by capt s. =
He had ridden to our inn on a pale horse. We could guess that he was a witch hunter by his garb. A long, sleeveless leather jerkin and a wide brimmed hat. Two worn and well used pistols were tucked into his belt, and he had a great hammer slung over one shoulder. He was caked in grime from his travels, his boots were muddy and his long hair was unkempt and greasy. He looked at us all from under his big hat, looked down towards all of us like a shepherd would look down to his flock, and he smiled.
He took a seat at the bar and seemed to just think for a while. Then he wiped his dirty brow with an equally dirty hand, only serving to smear the black grime around on his ruddy skin. When he spoke, his voice was like gravel, or the grinding of two bones in an old joint.
“May I have a bowl of water?”
Old Glenns, the barkeep and master of our inn, obliged, giving it to the weary traveler along with a small cloth. He had heard –for we never had any- that it was customary of wealthy travelers to wash their hands before they ate. The big witch hunter nodded and dipped his hands into the water, then the cloth. He wiped the cloth over his face, cleaning the grime away so that we could see the lines of a well worn face. His eyes remained ever shrouded under that big hat.
He put the cloth back into the bowl and ordered a bottle of port, smiling at kind old Glenns. I had been sitting in the corner, for I am generally very shy. However, something drew me to this newcomer. As I walked towards the bar, Glenns motioned me aside. “Go dump this out, around back”, he whispered. His face was pale, as one who had eaten a leg of meat that didn’t rightly agree with him. I saw why when he handed me the bowl. The water that the traveler had washed his hands and face with was now a murky crimson. The grime on his face had only been mistaken for mud.
I thought of the life of adventure that a witch-hunter must have, as I stepped into the cool night air to dump out the contents of the bowl. I thought of how dashing it must be to ride from town to town seeking out the evil that plagued the race of man, answering to none but Sigmar’s high authority. What great duels with vampyres and witches must this man have fought, to be so tired and so smeared with gore?
When I returned to the bar, I saw that the hunter had taken an interest in my sister. I must’ve been daydreaming for longer than I thought. That, or the man drank like a daemon, for half his bottle of port was gone. His arm was around my sister, holding her flirtatiously close, as he talked to Mrs. Tyne, Glenns’ “wife” and co-owner of the inn. He was asking for a room and a basin, for he would like to take a bath. Having seen the contents of the bowl of water, Old Glenns blanched at the prospect of a bath, but money was money and so he was inclined to oblige. The four of them, the hunter, Glenns, Tyne, and my sister, stood there at the bar talking as I went to fetch a basin and fill it with water, and carry it to a room for our guest.
When I came back down from the upstairs, the hunter and my sister made their way up to the room. Mrs. Tyne shook her head slowly and walked away. I went and sat in my corner, as I usually do. After a time, we could hear the hunters gravely voice, intermixed with my sister’s higher, sweeter one. We couldn’t make out any words, and occasionally a muted knocking filtered its way through the floor.
“She must be showing him some hospitality up there, hot blooded gal”
I winced at what Glenns was implying, because I knew that it was probably true. My sister and I were orphans, and poverty was a way of life. We got food and shelter at the inn, in return for odd jobs, but my sister always knew that there was true coin lurking in the folds of a man’s trousers.
Eventually the sounds stopped, and silence fell over our little inn. Glenns decided that there would likely be no more travelers for the night, and sent me out to take the lantern down from the sign outside. When I returned, he said that he was going to bed- Mrs. Tyne had probably already retired. He asked that I stay up, incase our guest might need anything else. He made some remark- no doubt about my sister- under his breath, which caused him to chuckle.
I remained awake for several more hours, sitting alone in my corner. I had only dozed off once. I expected my sister to come down, perhaps to keep me company with her conversation. It was not like her to stay an entire night with a man, even if he paid well. I heard one of the doors upstairs, but she did not come down. Curious, I took the candle from the end of the bar and made my way quietly upstairs.
The door to the hunter’s room was ajar. I peered through the tiny crack, but could not see anything for the gloom of the moonless night. Slowly I pushed the door open wider and stepped inside. The floor was wet. Soaking wet. Likely, they had tipped the basin in their wildness. I shuddered to think that I was walking in same type of murk that I’d seen in the washbowl at the bar. I shone my candle over the bed, and was shocked to see that the hunter was not there. I crept closer to the bed, the disturbed sheets, and the mussed pillow. He had not come downstairs, and there were no antechambers in this room. Surely he had not vanished. Then I saw a heap in the corner of the room. Perhaps it was his belongings. If he had left in the night, he would surely have taken them with him.
I knelt over them so that my candle would show me their nature. It was my sister. She lay in a crumpled pile in a pool of gore, her once beautiful face now misshapen by a hammer blow. As I looked up in alarm, I saw that my candle had illuminated the strings and splatters of blood across the walls of the room. What we had heard downstairs was not my sister trying to turn coin, it was her very murder.
I raced to tell old Glenns, to warn him of our guest’s designs. I threw open the door to his room in horror. He was transfixed to his thin cot by a large wooden stake- in the manner of a vampire. His severed head was arranged at his feet, the glassy eyes wide open in fear, and an iron sigil of Sigmar wedged between its old rotted teeth.
I staggered backward in revulsion, nearly tripping at the doorframe. A scream from downstairs brought me to my senses. The butcher had found Mrs. Tyne. I scrambled back down the narrow staircase, the candle snuffing itself out with all the commotion. I arrived too late. The hunter was sitting at the bar with his bottle of port, Mrs. Tyne lying in a heap of bloody rags at the foot of his barstool.
“Get the bodies of these blasphemers, servant boy” he growled with a voice of pure malice. “And throw them in the fire”.
They had not been heretics however. He was surely a raving lunatic. I lifted Mrs. Tyne’s body however, and carried her closer to the fire. But instead of committing the body to the flames, I carefully lifted a large iron poker. Quietly I crept up behind the drunken witch hunter, raising the poker above my head. Before I could strike, I heard his voice again from under the big hat.
“Kill me boy, you should. I’m quite mad you know. I can’t really tell anymore who’s good or evil anymore. I wonder if maybe we’re not all diabolic at heart, and I think sometimes that I too might be possessed. Kill me boy, if you’re brave enough to really do it”. At the end, his voice went from its low gravel, to a high and maddening cackle. “Do it!” the man screeched.
With that I swung the poker down, caving his skull and granting his wish. Something, something vile, had taken hold of this hunter. As the body toppled from the stool, it burst into flames. The explosion threw me back, smashing my head against a table-leg and driving me to the door. I staggered outside as the rest of Inn caught flame, burning the bodies of Tyne, Glenns, the hunter, and my dear sister. When the embers had died as well, I walked in and retrieved this hammer. The hammer that killed my sister. I vowed that I would take up the hunter’s mission, and seek out the evil in the hearts of men. And I won’t stop, ever, until I find the thing that killed my sister.
It’s been a long road, and a hard one. I’m tired, and your quiet inn is a blessing. I think now that I’ve shared my tragic story, that I’d like a drink.
And maybe a bowl of water...
I like this story. I would give you Rep but apparently I need to spread it around before I give it to you again.
That was fantastic, it was also quite emotional
I'm glad that you guys enjoyed it. I didn't think it'd be very emotional, but I did know that I was probably pushing the envelope of what's "LO acceptable" to the very edge.
I should've written you something for Garril Hammerfist, Q. I'm starting to really like that dwarf, he even made a second appearance as the narrator of Silver Fang's piece over in the Fluffshop.
I just wish more people would jump on this 45minute story thing. They don't have to be works of literary gold, I just want stuff to read. Besides, my name is spreading through this section faster than a case of Nurgle's Rot.
I am quite the fan of Garril myself.
I need to recount you with a few tales of his exploits in Lustria in the near future (aka defeating two Lizardmen armies, surviving a Goblin ambush and driving off the some Dark Elf Raiders).
I have really come up with some additional background for him, including the fact that his Mercenary company is made up of several independent Dwarven mercenary regiments.
Garril's Throng: Lots of warriors and Longbeards and a
Thungrim Ironheart's Siege Breakers: Master Engineer a cannon and two grudge Throwers
Thrombol's Hunters: A Master engineer Quarrelers, two bolt throwers and a cannon. A group of slayers.
That was a very good read, great for 45 minutes. Might I ask where this 4 minute story competition is coming from though? I've check aroud and haven't seen any threads or posts abou a sign up or rules.
EDIT: Never mind, found it! Great story still.
Last edited by daelrog; June 29th, 2009 at 03:15.
I am heading off to the Peace Corps. It is bery likely I will not be back. Good luck to all of you endeavors.