Wolf's Head

Wolf's Head

A Story by Dms
"

A lone traveler slips through a town in the Eastern region of Notar, bringing violence with him.

"

Dark clouds pressed in over the wooded hills. The thunderhead rapidly blotted out the moonlight till only the slight shimmer of rain and distant starlight could be seen overhead. A lone traveler walked along the dirt path leading to the nearby town of Murton. Just over the next hill he could see the faint glow of street lamps behind the village wall.

A palisade wall circled the outside of Murton, it's worn points not quite high enough to prevent an agile man from leaping high enough to catch the top edge. Still, the outer gate was shut, and a guard sat inside the gate house. The traveler was not a large man. He wore a heavy brown coat with a short bow and a quiver of arrows tied to a pack that was slung over his right shoulder and around his chest. Under his coat hung a short sword, and a dagger hilt peeked out from the top of his heavy boots.

As he reached the gate, he could see the guard was asleep, snoring loud enough to be heard over the pouring rain. The window was a bit small to reach in and pluck the keys from the wall, but the traveler was able to poke the end of his unstrung bow inside and slip the keys over the end. He opened the gates quietly, then locked them again, returning the keys without waking the guard.

He headed towards the local tavern, pulling off his wide brimmed hat and shaking the water from his head as he came under the awning. As he entered, he shook the water from his coat and went straight to the bar, sitting down at the first open stool. There were perhaps nine or ten men at the tavern, most of them congregated around two tables near the fireplace on the far end, eying him suspiciously.

The barmaid was young, perhaps only fourteen, with long blond hair and blue eyes that reflected the mood of the entire room. She was thin, dressed in dark rags with a black girdle around her waist. Her features were lovely, but the lines around her eyes seemed to be carrying the weight of more years than they had right to. She smiled as she saw the traveler, and approached him with a mug in one hand and a rag in the other.

“Haven't seen your face around here before,” she said, “You from up North?”

“What makes you think I'm from up North?” he asked.

“Bright red hair and freckles are about as common here as polished shoes and powdered wigs.”

“So I look funny.”

“I didn't say that. In fact, you don't mind me saying so, you look a bit meaner than any man I've seen around here before. I'm not surprised the Wolf boys haven't come over to welcome you. They're usually pretty friendly with out of town folk.”

The traveler looked over at the men on the other side of the tavern. A few of them had been staring but returned to their glasses. The traveler looked back to the young barmaid and shrugged.

“I'll have an ale.”

“I'll have your name first, stranger. I don't serve anyone who I can't call by name.”

“Call me Drant,” he said.

“I'm Annabelle, but you can call me Anna. It's nice to meet you, Drant. That a real name?”

“You can say it, can't you?”

“Yes.”

“Then it's real enough. So about that ale?”

Anna held up her arms, grinning, “Alright, that's just fine with me. So long as you answer when I call you that. So Drant, where is it you're going to on an angry night like this?”

She slid a mug across the counter and Drant caught it, raising it to his lips and taking a long gulp.

“South.”

“Hey, boy!” one of the men across the tavern shouted, drawing a bit of laughter from his companions.

“Don't mind them,” Anna said, “They're only brave when they're together. What's down South then?”

“I don't know,” Drant took another gulp, then set his mug down and stretched his arms.

“Hey, boy! You hunting cats with that bow?” the man shouted again.

Drant started to get up, but Anna stopped him, her small hand falling over his.

“I wouldn't do that, sir. They may be stupid and drunk, but there's enough of them that it doesn't matter. Besides, you don't want trouble with the Wolves. They own this town since most of the town guard went off to war. All we have left is old Winchell, and he's drunk when he's not sleeping.”

“You looking for help?” Drant asked.

“Are you offering?”

“No.”

Anna scowled suddenly, snatching his mug as soon as he'd emptied it.

“Well you should be moving on then, stranger.”

“When I'm ready,” Drant replied, placing a brass coin on the table.

As he did a heavy hand fell onto the bar next to him, and a blast of foul breath blew into his face. A large man with a long black beard leaned over his shoulder, grinning and chuckling through rotting teeth.

“You've paid what you owe to us. Now pay the girl.”

Drant took out another coin and laid it on the table, but quickly snatched it back up as the man attempted to take it. The man barked out laugher, slapping the table and waving for his friends to come over. He laid a hand on Drant's shoulder.

“Well, it looks like the town guard is still letting foreign trash into our town. We'll have to have a little talk with Winchell after we're done cutting that coin from this fools coat.”

Drant shot up, spinning around to face the man, dagger already in hand.

“Weapons out, boys! We've got ourselves a scrapper!”

The bearded man reached to draw a knife from his belt, but Drant lunged forward, driving his dagger directly into the man's throat. The bearded man dropped his knife, reeling back as blood spouted from his neck. Anna screamed, running back behind the bar as the rest of the men rushed forward towards Drant.

He drew the sword in his other hand and immediately slashed the next man across the throat as he attempted to swing a hatchet at his head. The others swarmed around him, several trying to help the bearded man as he squirmed on the floor, hands fumbling over the gushing wound. An older man came out from behind the bar, Anna just behind him. He held a crossbow in both hands, shaking violently as he aimed it towards Drant.

“You get out of here! You hear me? Get out of this tavern and out of this town!”

“He's not leaving with his head intact!” One of the men bellowed, lunging forward with a hunting knife.

Drant shuffled back and with a flick of his wrist, chopped off the man's hand. The man screamed, falling forward as blood jetted from his severed limb, but Drant immediately finished him, slicing his throat with another swing and ending with a hard thrust through the man's chest. The others began to back away as the third man fell to the floor.

“Murderer!” another man shouted.

“Call the guard!” the old man said.

Drant leveled his sword at the trembling figure holding the crossbow, but as the old man shook, the weapon suddenly discharged. The bolt struck him directly in the center of the chest, the shaft almost disappearing in his coat, the tip punching out the other side into his bag. Drant staggered back for a moment, then steadied himself. The men looked ready to rush him, but he raised his sword and dagger defensively.

“He's...not human,” Anna whispered.

“Demon,” the old man said.

Drant looked over the tavern, still reeling from the bolt in his chest as he put on his hat. The blood from the man he'd just slain was already spreading to his feet, and all three were leaking into the floorboards. A young man with dark blond hair was still holding a strip of cloth at the bearded man's throat. He looked up as Drant neared the door.

“You're a dead man,” he said, lips trembling, “Mark my words. The Wolves will be upon you tonight!”

“You're not wolves,” Drant said, straightening the brim of his hat, “You're more like wild pigs. If any of you whoreson's follow me, I'll kill you. Tell that to your head pig, and if you must, tell him I'll be travelling South with the storm.”

© 2011 Dms


Author's Note

Dms
Story and Illustration by David Stienmetz.

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Reviews

This has a lot of potential. A good starting point and introduction to something much bigger and longer. An interesting main character.

Posted 13 Years Ago



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Added on July 2, 2011
Last Updated on July 2, 2011

Author

Dms
Dms

Plain, WI



About
For those of you visiting me for the first time, my name is David Stienmetz. I'm 25 years old, and a six year Army veteran. Since getting out, I've started college, bought a house, had a bad.. more..

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