feat: drafted eleven through fourteen

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D. Moonfire 2019-07-13 21:41:00 -05:00
parent 52a283c8e2
commit 83ddbe48d2
8 changed files with 381 additions and 8 deletions

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@ -18,6 +18,8 @@ She smiled and grabbed it. Reflexively, she leaned over to Roal to enjoy drinkin
Afraid that she had missed an announcement, she looked around sharply. Everyone remained where she remembered before she had passed out. No one had gotten up. No one was crying or cheering. There was no hint of any news among the slumbering and snoring hunters. A few of them were shuddering with their own nights; she didn't need to know what they were seeing in their dreams.
With a sigh, she leaned her head back and took a long, deep breath. Surrounding the main room, there was a single shelf of bottles that ringed the walls. They were too high to reach. She wondered if there was something special or if it was just decoration.
She shook her head and pushed herself away from the table. There as no reason to announce it, no one was awake to see her. She hesitated with guilt, they were staying up for the announcement but there was a doubt that it would take days or even overnight before their friends stabilized... or didn't.
Karin sighed and held her half-filled glass tighter. She swayed as she got to her feet and staggered back toward the stairs leading up to her room. Her nightmare swirled on the edges of her vision, she was only a few minutes away from plummeting into horror once again.

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@ -104,7 +104,11 @@ He waved his hand dismissively. "I gave you first shot."
"Plus you damaged your leg pretty badly and couldn't do half the things you pretend you do."
His smile grew a little forced. "Do you want to head over there or not? You got a month to kill with that damn crap saving the girl. Even if she's not really a peach, at least she's pretty on the eyes."
His smile grew a little forced. "Do you want to head over there or not? You know I'll show up when you are ready, I always do."
"I don't know."
"You got a month to kill with that damn crap in your body. Even if she's not really a peach, at least she's pretty on the eyes."
"Ten leagues just to pine after a girl?"

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@ -20,7 +20,7 @@ Karin grinned and took the plate. "I do love that."
Suras gestured to the glass with still a finger's worth of whiskey on the bottom. "Don't need a refill?"
"Not yet, I want it to last."
"Not yet, I want this one to last."
Suras's eyes sparkled. She leaned over, her breasts pushing up against the thin fabric of her bodice. "Don't worry, I'll get something wet later."
@ -50,17 +50,17 @@ When she tried again, the blade easily cut through the meat. With a smile, she d
Karin amused herself by watching Suras serve the others. She could easily spend the rest of the month right where she was, with a lover in the morning and good food during the night. Of course, she'd probably get bored and lash out at someone sooner or later. She was a hunter after all.
"Hey, Sur! Why'd you give me the crappy knife? You know I hate this one!" It was one of the farmers. He held up an offending knife in his hand.
"Hey, Sur! Why'd you give me the crappy knife? You know I hate this one!" It was Mal, one of the farmers. He held up an offending knife in his hand.
His friends laughed.
Suras came out. She rolled her eyes and took the knife. "Sorry, let me get you another one."
Suras came out. She rolled her eyes and took the knife. "Sorry, Mal, let me get you another one."
Karin held up her finger.
Suras cocked her head and frowned in confusion. She headed over, holding the knife by the blade. When she got closer, she stopped. "Yes?"
"Let me see that?" Karin held out her hand for the knife.
"Let me see that." Karin held out her hand for the knife.
Still looking confused, Suras handed it over.
@ -76,15 +76,15 @@ Suras's mouth opened in surprise.
Karin smirked and handed her the knife again.
With a bemused look on her face, Suras returned it to the farmer. The belligerent man resisted for a moment, but when he went to prove it was dull, it easily cut through his food. With a stammered apology, he ducked his head and returned to eating.
With a bemused look on her face, Suras returned it to Mal. The belligerent man resisted for a moment, but when he went to prove it was dull, it easily cut through his food. With a stammered apology, he ducked his head and returned to eating.
A few minutes later, Suras returned. "What did you do?"
Karin shrugged. "That's my talent, I sharpen blades."
Karin shrugged. "That's my talent, I made it sharper."
"That's why I'm a good hunter. I hone blades by touching them." She gave a sheepish grin. "That's why I'm such a good hunter."
"That's why I'm a good hunter. I sharpen blades by touching them." She gave a sheepish grin. "That's why I'm such a good hunter."
It also made her a good assistant to a chef. Her thoughts briefly darken when she thought about her husband. They had fallen in love in the kitchen. It was also where they broke apart.

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title: Sharpening
summary: >
Karin's visit was coming to an end however Suras had one more present to give.
Karin sat in her customary spot in the great hall, enjoying the last week of her trip. It was the first day, which meant a new bottle of whiskey. She rocked her empty glass with one hand with anticipation.
Mal and a bunch of farmers came in, wearing their best clothes from going to the small church down the street. A few of them nodded to Karin before sitting down at their tables near the center.
Suras came sweeping in. She had picked out her green dress for the day, one that Karin enjoyed watching her pull on before they had to their separate ways. She had a whiskey bottle in her hand but it looked different than the others she had served Karin before. "I'll be with you in a minute, Mal."
"Take your time, Sur." He was in a good mood, but then church service always brought out the sweeter side of the village.
Suras walked over to Karin and held out the bottle. Her eyes were shimmering as she set it down. "For your last week."
Karin frowned and looked at the bottle. It had the familiar Barnsveld Distillery logo on it along with the date it was decanted but underneath it was a single name and a number: Suras, Number 2.
Suras started to say something, but then her voice cracked. She wiped her face and then tried again.
Karin looked up with confusion. "Suras?"
"I... I... damn it." Suras pulled out a chair and sat down. "I thought this would be appropriate."
"Why is your name on it?"
A tear ran down Suras's cheek. "It's the family tradition. On our first birthday, we set aside a cask aside. Throughout our lives, we serve those bottles to celebrate special events: when we come of age, when we get married, wedding anniversaries. It's only for special moments in my life, those times when everything changes or to celebrate being together."
Karin realized she was crying herself.
Suras lifted the bottle and looked at the label. "The first one when I turned sixteen." She sighed. "I got really sick and almost died a few times. When I lost most my summer and fall that year, my legs not working and I couldn't leave my bed. It wasn't until this icy winter night that I managed to take my first step again."
She smiled and the room seemed to brighten. No one was talking and Karin noticed that everyone was looking down at the table as they listened to Suras's quite words.
"The next day, my parents and grandfather came up that night with the first bottle from the cask. Number one. We drank it that week, just a glass at a time as I got stronger."
Suras looked up and smiled. "I lost my father a few weeks later when the roof collapsed on him. He still had bottles left from his, so we celebrated by drinking those. Everyone in the town came to the inn because I still couldn't walk far. We drank and celebrated until the last bottle remained."
She turned and pointed toward the top of the walls. There was a long shelf of bottles, each one different, that circled the room. "The last one of his is up there along with grandmother's."
In the silent room, everyone held up a glass for a moment. The soft clink of them setting it down was a chorus that had the weight of tradition.
Karin shivered.
Suras set the glass down. "Please? I know you are leaving soon, but you are the most wonderful thing that has happened in my life. I would like this to be your last bottle."
Karin sniffed, she was crying too hard to say anything.
Unable to speak, Karin just nodded.
With a beaming smile, Suras went and got a second glass. She brought it over and poured a healthy measure into both. Setting the bottle down in the center of the table, she sniffed. "I feel silly."
Karin reached out with one hand to hold Suras. "You aren't being silly. I love it. I... thank you for everything."
They toasted each other silently before drinking. It was the smoothest whiskey Karin had ever had. She felt almost sad as she enjoyed it.
After only a few sips, Suras had to excuse herself to serve the others.
Karin watched her lover wipe the tears from her eyes as she got the farmer's orders. She gave Karin a smile before heading into the kitchen area.
She looked down at the glass and felt the tears rising up again. She would have never expected Suras giving anything like that, it felt like she had her lover's heart in her hand. Slowly, she rolled the glass from one side to the other before she took a sip.
Karin had considered staying beyond. The last month had made her happier than in a long time but she wasn't sure it would last. There was a big difference between enjoying the blush of lust of two new lovers. It was heady as the whiskey in her hand and left a warmth deep inside her body.
It didn't last though. When she married her husband, they were head-over-heels in love and kissing every time they passed in the kitchen. Nights were passionate affairs that slowly became a chore, drudge work, and finally petered off into arguments.
Her smile faded. The last two years of her marriage were the worse years of her life. She still remembered the screaming and fighting. It drove her to becoming a hunter and somehow risking her life every few weeks for change became preferable than to finding love again.
Someone tapping on the table next to her broke her thoughts. She looked up to see Mal standing. He toyed with the front of his good jacket. "I'd like to talk."
Startled, Karin nodded and pointed to the chair that Suras had sat.
Mal took the opposite one. He pointedly move the bottle of whiskey away from him. "You know me?"
"You're Mal."
"Maldir formally, but you can call me Mal."
"Rumor has it that you can sharpen blades."
A pang of sadness darkened Karin's thoughts. "I used to."
"We could use those talents here in Barnsveld, you know. Always a need for sharpening."
Karin shook her head. "I can't go back into cooking, I'm sorry."
He smiled broadly and shook his head. "No, this village isn't big enough for fancy meals. However, there are a lot of farmers here that have good tools that always need a blade: axes, hatchets, and saws. Even the plows, if you can do that."
Karin thought about the one time she had to put a blade on a metal door to kill a tomagoran. A ghost of a smile crossed her lips. She almost said that but then held her tongue.
"I know you are leaving soon but, if you consider staying, we'd have a place for you." He looked concerned and serious.
Maldir nodded twice.
"We all like to see our Sur happy. She has been nothing but smiles since you arrived." He sighed and drew his finger through some moisture on the table. "We're a small village. We know what's going on."
"And it doesn't bother you?" Karin tensed slightly.
"Not my thing but Sur likes what Sur likes. She's taken a liking to you and we've taken to liking when she smiles."
Karin considered her thoughts earlier. "What if it doesn't work out?"
Maldir shrugged slowly. "It didn't work for my first two wives either. One runs the general store and the other works on Ted's farm." He pointed to one of the other farmers who waved back.
Karin glanced around the room. Everyone was trying not to look at her. It suddenly felt confining, as if everyone in the room was trying to match her to Suras. She squirmed for a moment.
He held up his hands. "If you leave, that's okay too. But if you do, I'm going to ask you not to return."
All the muscles in Karin's back tightened.
"We all love Suras and I don't want to see you tear out her heart every time you walk out that door." His voice had grown more tense as he spoke.
The glass in her hand seemed to draw her attention. She swirled the whiskey as she let her thoughts drift.
"You live a violent life. I lost my husband to an accident, but you run toward the danger. What kind of life is that for a young girl like her?"
Karin closed her eyes. Her son had said the same thing, that was one reason she rarely returned to visit his family. They never knew if it was going to be the last time.
Years ago, that was a risk she wanted to take. With Suras, the idea of leaving felt like a knife digging into her side. She understood Maldir's request, stay or go. She nodded, not trusting her voice.
He stood up. He tapped the table twice before he said, "I'd hate to see you go. It is nice to see the smiles and you mean a lot to our girl." His hand gestured toward the bottle left on the table. "Please, consider staying."

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title: Coins
summary: >
Karin couldn't stay, not without having her heart broken. But leaving might be more trouble than she expected.
Karin had to leave but it tore her heart open to do so. She packed her belonging quickly into her two bags, one of them still had the musty smell of the last swamp she had crawled through and the other was freshly repaired.
The clothes wouldn't remain neatly folded for long, but that was the price of being a hunter. On top of the pack, she put her set of backup knives among the fabric.
When she finished, she looked around the room until the memories rose up. Choking bcak a sob, she dug into her pack and pulled out a handful of coins to put on the table.
There was already a stack there, covered in dust.
Karin froze, trying to remember when she put them there.
It was the first day, she had given a stack of crowns to give to Suras for her troubles. The young woman had ignored them and took her bags to clean her clothes instead.
Another sob rose in her throat. She closed her eyes tightly and added a second stack of coins. It was pitiful, but she wanted to leave something.
She turned to leave.
Suras stood in the door of the room, tears rolling down her cheeks and her bottle of whiskey in her hand.
Karin froze as her heart pounded in her chest.
"Y-You're leaving?"
Karin found her own emotions. "I have to."
"Was it because of Mal? He told me he talked to you." Suras's voice was quiet and broken.
"Yes... no, not really."
"I thought we had the week."
They did, or would have. Roal wouldn't pick up Karin until fifth day and it was only third.
Karin shook her head. "We... I have to."
"Why?" The bottle in Suras's grip shook, sloshing the liquid inside.
"I... I'm just going to hurt you."
"No, you aren't."
Karin wiped at the tears in her eyes. "Yes, I am. I don't think I can stop being a hunter and I can't... I can't hurt you every time you leave."
"I don't mind."
"You should."
"I don't, I'd rather have a night with you than lose you." Suras gulped before she came into the room. "Please, don't leave."
Karin sobbed and shook her head. "That's the first time you asked me to stay. Would you have said that earlier?"
"I was waiting for you to decide."
"I... I...." It was getting harder to speak. "I have to."
A storm of emotions flashed through Suras's eyes. Karin felt sicker with every passing moment. She couldn't help but stare at the tears rolling down her cheeks or the way her hand clutched the bottle.
Karin tensed, waiting for the screaming or begging.
Suras held out the bottle. "Take this with you."
Stunned, Karin stared in shock. "W-What?"
Hurrying forward, Suras pressed the bottle into Karin's hand. When Karin couldn't get her fingers to grip it, she reached down and carefully stuck it in Karin's bag. Then she stepped back, her eyes shimmering and her lower lip trembling.
Suras shook her head and held up her hand. "This way, you'll always have part of me with you."
Before Karin could say anything else, she turned and raced away. Her footsteps rang out in the hallway.
Karin felt like a monster. She looked down at the bottle of whiskey nestled in her back. "Suras, Number Two." Probably one the most precious things Karin had ever had in her life. She felt like a monster but she had to do it, otherwise she would feel like this every time she went out on a hunt.
When Karin entered the common hall, there was no one there. No farmers drinking away the hours, no one behind the counter. She could hear sobbing in the kitchen and someone speaking soothingly. The feeling that she was one of the monsters rose and she headed toward the door.
It opened before she reached it. Roal came in, his beard sparkling with moisture. "Oh, there you are."
Karin stopped. "You're early."
"No, I'm never early. I only show up when I'm needed. That's my talent."
"Yes, in two days." Karin realized she was hesitating herself, but it was too late. She had already said goodbye.
He patted his ax and looked her from head to toe. "Then why are you dressed to leave? Your peach ended up being an apple?" He grinned. "That mean I have a chance or did you spoil this town for the both of us."
Fighting the tears, Karin shook her head. "No, I'm was going to the next town over to wait for you. Please tell me there is a job." Her breast ached with the idea of a fight.
Roal started to smile but then frowned. "No, there isn't. I mean, I was pulled here so I assumed it was to pick you up. The rest of the Rat Hunters are in Goril, we riled up a massive blood nest and we are probably a few gallons low of blood."
He turned and looked around. "Though, the pull to pick you up was pretty strong. I figured it meant we're about to get a really big one."
Karin sighed. It was going to be a long few months before she enjoyed another soft bed. She shook her head. "We better get going."

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title: Blood
summary: >
With Roal by her side, Karin finally found the courage to leave Barnsveld and never return. But leaving was never that easy.
violence: true
Karin was thankful that her horse had been taken care of, but a month without riding meant her rear got sore almost immediately. She sighed and adjusted her position.
"You seem sad. Did you have fun?"
Karin nodded. "Probably the best in my life, Old Man."
"Then why were you in a hurry to leave. Lover's spat?"
"No... I didn't want to."
Roal only grunted. He pointed to an intersection of two roads that met in the center of the village then slid his finger to the east. "We're heading that way."
"Got it."
They rose in silence through town. The villages that saw her looked sad and she had to look away to avoid cutting her heart. Why was she leaving? Why couldn't she just accept that Suras would love her?
But the doubt remained, would it last? Was it just going to be a flash in the pan, a love that burned almost instantly? She hated herself for fleeing.
Roal stopped his horse.
Karin looked in surprise. When she managed to rear her mount, she had to back up to meet him. "What wrong?"
He frowned and then grabbed his ax. "I'm being pulled." It was his term for his talent, the ability to show up where he was needed. It usually meant a hunt.
"I swear, if this is just an excuse to bring me back to the inn."
Roal held up his hand. Then his eyes widened. "Shit on the gods!" He reared his horse and kicked it into motion. Coming around, he spurred the stallion into a gallop.
Swearing, Karin charged after him.
They raced through the center of town and headed straight west. She didn't know the path but they were coming closer to the distillery and the farms that surrounded it.
With every pound of hooves against the ground, the feeling of danger rushed faster through her veins. Karin patted the knife on her saddle, making sure it was ready if she needed it.
When they galloped past the sign leading to the Barnsveld Distillery, she breathed a sigh of relief. She didn't want danger to take the city.
She relaxed too soon. Only a few leagues past the distillery, Roal cut across the corner of a field and raced down toward one of the outlying farms.
Then she heard the screaming.
"Ready weapons!" bellowed Roal. He slowed minutely and Karin came up next to him.
Reaching over, Karin pressed her hand against the side of his balance. The edge shone with light as she fixed the burrs and imperfections, bringing into a killing sharpness that could slice through anything.
She pulled her hand back and unsheathed her own sword, doing the same.
They hit the center of the farm where the buildings gathered around an empty area. There was blood and bodies everywhere. She saw a man kneeling over Maldir's body screaming out in horror. She almost stopped for him but a flurry of movement caught her attention. Two teenage girls were trying to beat away a beast with only a pair of rakes.
The creature was about the side of a dog but with its long, blade-like legs, it looked larger than a cow. A massive mouth, easily twice as wide as its chest, opened up and thick ropes of drool splattered everywhere in flecks of red foam.
A slather.
"Barn on right, two inside!" bellow Roal. He threw himself from the horse and charge into the open door where a severed arm hung from a hook where a crossbeam would be used to bar it shut.
"I'm center then after you," yelled Karin back. She launched herself from her horse. The impact with the ground shook her bones but she tucked into a roll that brought herself up between the two girls trying to save themselves. Shouldering one aside, she brought her sword up and cut the slather in half.
With his head sliced in half, all of its limbs began to thrash out violently without any sense of control or purpose. A cut caught her hip but she knew she couldn't stop. Dropping her sword, she grabbed both of the girls and threw them back with all her might.
The slather's legs lashed out again. Its death throes were deadly, the limbs became a whirlwind of death as it bounced and jerked in all directions. That was one reason they had to be dealt with quickly, they also bred quickly.
Panting, Karin grabbed one of the rakes. Her magic flowed through the metal to sharpen the points. Swinging it around, she slammed the points into the side of the beast. The points punctured into flesh and snapped bone. The impact shook both of them as Karin used it to throw the slather to the side to clear her sword.
She snatched up her weapon and spun around looking for the next target. There was a main house that had blood on the door, three barns, some chicken coups soaked in crimson, and a smaller shed.
One of the field hands pointed toward the main house. "I-In there! It attacked Mal---"
"Stay away then!" she bellowed. She rushed over to the shed and yanked it open. It was a tiny space but she didn't spot any killing beast. She grabbed a few of the tools and tossed them out. Turning on her heels, she gestured. "In there! Hurry! Bring Mal!"
As the farmers crowded inside, Karin helped drag Mal. "It will be cramped but you should be safe," she panted. She knew that Roal was in danger, but saving non-hunters was one of their priorities.
"T-Thank you," gasped Mal. He coughed up blood. There was more from where the slather had cut open his belly and down one leg. He wouldn't be having children ever again, if he survived.
The other farmer grabbed Karin. "He needs a healer."
Her face hardened. "These things hunt in packs. If they catch you in the field, you will both die. Trust me, you need to be safe until we can clear the nest."
As soon as she was sure they were safe in the shed, she dragged a wagon in front of it to block the door. There were too many places for danger and slathers were smart enough to flank but she needed to help Roal first. One of them couldn't take on a nest by themselves.
"Roal, incoming, main door!" she yelled as she dove into danger.

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title: Yes
summary: >
Almost on death's door, Karin went back to the one place that brought her happiness.
Karin groaned as she slid off the saddle of her horse. A sharp pain told her that her stitches had been ripped open. Hot blood dribbled down her thigh. She swayed for a moment, leaning against her mount, before she straightened.
"Are you sure about this?" Roal gasped as he leaned over the pommel of his horse. He was covered with blood and makeshift bandages created from Maldir's sheets. The smell of smoke clung to his body as he panted. "We can make it to the next town, they have a healer."
Karin looked toward the inn door. She didn't know what was on the other side but she hoped Suras would forgive her for leaving. Slowly, she nodded her head. "Yes, I think this is right."
"No more hunting?"
Karin winced as she held her hip. The cuts covering her body were impossible to distinguish from each other except for the one on her hip. It had chipped the bone and every step was agony. "I think... I want to be done, Roal."
He smiled and reached down to press his hand against her cheek. "Good."
Groaning, he sat up straighter. "Just in case, I'll wait at the end of the fence. If you aren't out in an hour, I'll give you another before I head home."
"Don't you want to come in? They have more than one room."
He looked at the lights in the window. It was probably a bell before dawn. "No, this is your peach."
"She might not be after she sees what I did to her bottle."
Roal chuckled and pulled his horse around. "Enjoy the greatest hunt of your life, Old Woman. I hope to never see you in the field again."
Karin smiled as he rode away. She roped the reins of her horse to a hook and then limped to the door. At the entrance, she had to catch her breath. A thousand scenarios ran through her head, few of them were positive. Would Suras reject her? Tears? Slaps?
With a trembling hand, she opened it.
Suras sat at a table in the center of the room with an empty glass in front of her. She looked up with red rimmed eyes. Seeing Karin, she gasped and tears shimmered in her eyes.
Karin thought about everything she could say. "I... want...." No, that wasn't it. She sniffed as she reached down for her bag. It was almost completely empty but there was a few things left. Her bandaged fingers struggled to grab the now empty bottle of whiskey. Shaking, she pulled it out. "I'm sorry," she said.
"Karin!" Suras knocked back the chair as she rushed around the table. She held out her arms and pulled Karin into a hug.
Despite the agony of a thousand cuts, Karin held her lover tightly. "I-I had to use your bottle to start a fire. I-It was the only way to burn out the nest."
Suras's shoulder shook and a sob rose up.
Karin blinked past the pain and her own tears. "I'm so sorry, I had too. I had too." She let out a sob of her own. "I-I don't want to this any more. I'm tired of swamps and sleeping outside. I don't want to hurt anymore. I... I'm done hunting."
Her lover pulled her head back, staring at Karin with tears streaming down her eyes. "Stay? Please stay. I'll give you all my bottles, anything you---"
Karin silenced her with a bloody kiss.
When they broke, both of them sobbing with the effort, she managed to get one more word out. "Yes."

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