The Heartless Bastard
Reese picked up the mug and wondered how the tavern master had gotten the ale to be so frothy. “Hey!” Her voice slurred and she wavered a little. “Hey!” she repeated, trying to get the attention of the tavern master.
The tavern master raised an eyebrow from behind his bar. “What is it, woman? More?”
Reese looked him straight in the eye. She opened her mouth for a moment and then smiled sheepishly. “Nothing,” she said and took a long gulp.
The tavern master shook his head. “You’ve been here for over an hour. Drunk as muck.”
“It’s, it’s….” She giggled for a long moment and then became very quiet as she stared into her mug. Then she shrugged, swirling the remaining ale in her mug. “The only thing making me feel alive right now.” Her voice had suddenly become clear.
“Hmph, so you’re one of those people. Lucky bastard.” The tavern master has heard of people who can drink a tank of ale and can overcome drunkenness in mere moments. He has always thought of them as traveling myths but guess there were some truths in it. Besides, was that good or bad? He realized he didn’t care really as long as the woman kept buying and not stir trouble. Speaking of trouble, he eyed a mean looking group of people sitting in the shadows and observing the woman. That woman was a great patron but trouble was at her heel and he rather not have it right now. The holy knights would come upon him like a storm and they might find his secret stash opium hidden in his back room.
“Bastard? Damn right!” Reese slammed her mug onto the table.
“You break it, you pay it,” said the tavern master. “I think you should leave.”
“I didn’t break it,” whined Reese. She wavered her mug in the air to show there wasn’t even a crack but fumbled, the mug dropping to the ground and smashing into pieces. “Uhh, here’s another coin for the mug. Heheh.” She threw a silver coin to which the tavern master caught. “Thanks for the ale…I think, I’ll leave.”
The tavern master flared his nostrils as he watched the woman pick up her hat and left his tavern. No sooner as he called out for the dishwashing boy to clean up the broken mug, did he see the group of people get up from their table and followed the woman.
Reese whistled nonsensically as she walked carefree down the road, her hat nestled in her right armpit, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t aware of them. She stopped and purposely dropped her hat, hoping that her followers will fear her if they saw the symbol on the hat. “If you see my hat, then you will know what will happen if you mess with me.”
Five bodies emerged from the overgrown trees clustered along the road. One of them, a short blonde woman wearing a hat that was exactly like Reese’s, took a step forward with sword in hand.
Reese bit her lips. “Shit.”
The blonde turned over Reese’s hat with the tip of her boot. “You’ve been impersonating us. Why?”
“We should just kill the woman, Darbyr12;“
“Jiando has put me in charge. He wishes to know why the imposters are doing this before we kill them.” Darby eyed her comrade who backed down. She turned her attention back to Reese, one of the two people she had been tracking down. “Why?” she repeated.
Reese shrugged. “I just wanted Archmon Gerimiahr12;“
“Archmon Gerimiah? That fucker?” Darby spat.
“He’s a sore spot on you too, eh?” laughed Reese.
Darby was not amused which made Reese shut up and gulped. She was getting that feeling and that was not going to end well for them.
“If you wish to kill him, by all means but impersonating us? You’ve given us a bad reputation of using dark magic. We’ve lost several supporters not to mention the entire kingdom’s army searching for us frantically,” said Darby.
“Ah, that was my wifey,” smiled Reese and backed away from the approaching rebels. “I apologized for the inadvertent smearing. I was just trying to lure Gerimiah. I’ll stop pretending to be one of the rogue prince’s rebels. So we’re good?”
Darby shook her head. “Do you take us as fools? We don’t even know if you’re telling the truth. You and whatever sick people…dark magic is never good. ” She moved swiftly to cut Reese off from escaping.
“Oh, c’mon, it wasn’t me! She-look, you don’t wanna fight me.” She could already feel her tunneling in her mind like boney fingers. It is too late for her to run.
“You will tell us everyone involved with you, where they are right now and then we will give you a quick death!” said Darby and slashed horizontal, managing to make a shallow cut across Reese’s chest as a show of her deadliness with the blade.
“Gee, that’s not really a good deal for me.” Reese’s face was stone cold compared to the non-seriousness of the tone of her voice.
Darby and her fellow rebels stopped their advancement. Was this the same woman a short moment ago, full of life, now explicable dead? Darby had to blink several times to make sure that she wasn’t delusional. Before her, the same woman, but the skin had become considerably pale and the eyes…it was like she was talking to a corpse.
At that moment, the night clouds parted for the moonlight to splash over them and they saw.
“What in Valsala’s name?” One of Darby’s comrades murmured. He was backing away, fear dancing at where Darby had cut Reese.
“How the fuck are you standing?” Darby voice squeaked. Her body wanted to run.
Reese looked down, eyes hollow but moist, and touched the gaping hole over where her heart had been. “I sold my soul to the devil.” She looked up. “She compels me. Run.”
Avanti had heard the door crack open and smelt the familiar copper scent in the air with a hint of alcohol. “Right on time.” She turned around, pulling off her veil.
Reese stood at the door holding out two pair of heads by the hairs. Her eyes were glassed and lowered at the floor as if looking for something lost.
“I see you’ve missed one,” sighed Avanti. She signaled Reese to shut the door. “Come, put them over here next to me.”
Reese placed the head on the indicated table and Avanti caught her hands.
“You regret it don’t you?” Avanti clasped her hands around Reese’s face, pulling the taller woman close enough to kiss. “The road of vengeance is never easy. It is Death’s weapon and one that will not distinguish between the innocents and the sinners. All is equal under death.”
Reese stared as Avanti stroked her cheeks for a while. “Why did you compel me to kill them when I could’ve just escaped?” she said finally.
“Because I needed heads or did you forget I asked you to get some for me?”
“You said only one, not four and Thomas should’ve done it for you.”
“Well, it would’ve been five if you hadn’t miss one. I just wanted to make sure I had enough just in case I made a mistake.” Avanti withdrew her hands and turned to the heads. “I sent Thomas to fetch me something else.”
Reese watched Avanti pulled the skin off her left hand, revealing the white bones. Then Avanti started working on the heads.
“What if I wanted to back out?”
“You know I don’t compel you to stay. So the true question is why do you not want to back out?”
Reese approached Avanti from behind and wrapped her arms around the shorter woman’s waist. Then she rested her chin on a shoulder. “Because I want my vengeance.”
Avanti smiled, far wider than humanly possible. That was what she wanted to hear. “Have patience. In a few days, it will all be over.”