Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Bounty Hunter: A Cahokiantep Story (Part 3)

This is the third and last part of this story.
 -- Part 1 is here.
 -- Part 2 is here.
 -- Cahokiantep started here.

The Bounty Hunter (Part 3)
Sketch in My Notebook
I turned and let Maddox slide slowly to the ground.  “What’d’you want, princeling?  Did you come all the way out to The Rusty Pony to die?  Is that it?”
“I could ask the same of you,” the high-caste voltan replied.  He smiled slowly, and while I noticed that each of his companions carried a few little wounds from the fight inside the bar, he himself hadn’t been touched.  He’d fought a dozen space elves and rock dwarves, and they hadn’t so much as laid a blade on him.
I pointed down at Maddox.  “This man is worth a lot of money, Excellency.  If you’re wondering, I’m not fool enough to refuse to share.”
“The fool paid us first,” the princeling replied.  “If he’s worth as much as you say, then perhaps we will consider turning him in ourselves.  Either way, we have no need of you.”
 “Somehow I knew you were gonna say that.”
The princeling turned to his fellows.  “Kill this fool.  Put the other on my skiff.”
“What?!” Maddox cried.  
By then, I was already moving.
I stepped back and drew my blades, letting the voltans close at their own pace.  The one on the left had a little limp from a wound in his upper thigh.  The other was moving alright, but his shoulder was gashed.  If I was lucky, that might make him a little slower on the attack.  They got close and moved to opposite sides, trying to bracket me.  I backed another step, but there was only so far I could go.  The Rusty Pony sits on a rock floating in the open space of the Astral Realm.  Step off the edge, and you’ll fall all the way to Hel.  That’s what the sages say, anyhow.  I wasn’t looking to test their theory.
Both voltans leveled their pikes at the same moment, and I rapped the one on the left with my companion sword, drawing an attack from the one on the right, the voltan with the hurt shoulder.  I could’ve dodged, but I shrugged into it instead and got lucky.  The pike turned on my shoulder pauldron, and I grabbed my chi long enough to whip around and riposte with my saber.  With his weapon out to the side, the woundedvoltan had no way to block.  My saber punched through his throat, and he went down with a gurgle.  I let go of the blade, drew my crossbow, and hip-shot the other voltan in the midsection.  He staggered and went to his knees, though the bolt didn’t penetrate his hide as completely as I might’ve preferred.  Still, he was down, at least for the moment.
I turned back to the princeling and found him smiling.
I sheathed my crossbow and slid towards my saber, still stuck through the first voltan’s throat.  “You sure you wouldn’t rather just split the bounty, Excellency?  It’s a fifty-fifty split now.”
The princeling hawked and spat.  “It was always fifty-fifty, fool.    These two are no matter and never were.”
“That’s a ‘yes’, then?”
“No.  It’s my way of telling you that I myself will put your head on a pike.”
“Right.  Well come on, Excellency.  I haven’t got all day.”
I reached toward my saber, but my hand never made it.  The princeling moved faster than thought, catching my hilt on the tines of his war pike and very nearly skewering the meat of my right hand.  I snatched my hand back and tried to riposte with my companion sword, but the blade was too short, especially compared to the reach the princeling had with his war pike.  I backed and drew my crossbow, and when the princeling came on again, I hurled it into his face.  He smashed it away with the butt of his pike, but that at least gave me enough room to grab my saber, though I had to dive to catch the hilt before the princeling recovered enough to try to skewer me.  
He came on, and I rolled, letting his war pike draw sparks against the rocky ground.  We exchanged blows before I could get back to my feet, and I took a gash on the forehead that was soon bleeding into my eyes.  The princeling cried out in triumph, but I beat his pike to one side with my saber and then struggled upward.  He caught me with a kick to the face before I got all the way up, though, and it sent stars shooting across my vision.  I blinked away a trickle of blood and grabbed for my chi desperately, barely catching the princeling’s war pike on my companion sword.  
The strike still caught me on the left thigh.  
I yelled, and the voltan hissed, but with the pike stuck in my leg, the princeling couldn’t use it to defend himself.  I heard myself scream and then launched my saber at the princeling point first, catching him squarely in the chest.  He moved to block, but with the force of my chi behind it, my blade sank all the way to the hilt.  The princeling’s eyes popped wide, and he slid slowly to his knees, blood flowing freely from his mouth and chest.
“Should’ve taken the money, asshole.  I’d’ve been happy to share.”
The princeling hissed again, but he was already dying.  I could see the light going out in his eyes.  I grit my teeth and yanked, pulling his pike free from my leg.  I nearly swooned from the pain, alongside the exhaustion of using so much of my chi.  I staggered and then reached slowly into the back pocket of my tunic, pulling out my emergency healing draught.  I showed it to the princeling before he had time to die.  
“You see, Excellency?  Who’s the fool now?  I ain’t the one doin’ the dyin’, am I?”
I downed the potion and then forced myself to stand a little straighter.  The wound in my leg burned despite the healing draught, but it’d keep until I could get a bandage on it and lay up for a couple of days.  I’d have a new scar, but that was nothing of note.
Maddox lay in a heap a few feet away.  He stared up at me with eyes like dinner plates.  “Wh-what are you g-g-gonna do now?” he asked fearfully.
“I’m gonna turn your ass in, fool.  Then I’m comin’ back here and apologize real polite-like to the girls upstairs.  Why do you ask?”
“Shut up, man.  What’d’you think I was gonna do?  I’m a bounty hunter.  I gotta get paid.”
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I write these stories for a few reasons. Yes, I like to write, but I also want to attract interest in this blog and in my writing in general. My first book, Sneakatara Boatman & the Priest of Loki, is out for the Kindle App and on Patreon, and the follow-up, Sneakatara Boatman & the Crown of Pluto, came out just a few months ago. These are D&D-style fantasy adventures; they use the same WTF-style plotting that I use in all of my writing. If you like my RPG stuff, you'll probably like the Sneax stuff, too. As of thise writing, Sneax is rocking a solid 4.6 stars in Amazon's reviews section. Don't take my word for it. Go check it out for yourself.

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