Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Tales from Virdura: Jarvis' Bounty

Campfire Pinecone Tobin crouched behind the rock and watched his quarry. Jarvis had crept up behind the local blacksmith a week before, and brutally slit his throat. The Virdua Castle city guard had caught up with him after a witness had come forward, but he had evaded them.

Now, it was Tobin's job to find him and bring him in. The local constabulary had promised one hundred gold pieces for his capture. Tobin, the Bounty Hunter was not about to let him slip away.

Tobin needed to get closer. He darted out from behind the rock, and quickly hid behind a tree, no more than twenty metres from his prey.

Hearing a rustle in the bushes, Jarvis' head darted towards the source of the disturbance. He got up from the log he was sitting on, drew his sword, and turned towards the tree.

“Who's there?” he asked. “Come out, come out, whereever you are!”

Tobin drew his own sword, and stepped out from behind the tree.

“I've come to take you in, Jarvis,” he said. “Best you come quietly, so no more blood needs to be shed.”

“Hello, Tobin,” said Jarvis, and a sneer formed on his face. “You'll never take me alive. Unlike you, I'm not afraid to shed blood.”

With that, Jarvis let out a mighty cry. Sword raised, he lunged towards Tobin, meaning to split his skull in two. Tobin ducked, and held his sword out above his head to parry the blow. Jarvis' sword struck his. The sound of steel upon steel rang in Tobin's ears, and he felt the force of the blow vibrate down his arm.

Tobin deflected Jarvis' blade, then lunged forward, striking for Jarvis' chest. Jarvis jumped back just in time, and the bounty hunter's sword sung through the air, centimetres from his prey's tunic.

But Tobin was the better fighter and, allowing the momentum to carry him forward, he swung again at Jarvis' sword-arm. The sword sliced a deep cut in Jarvis' bicep, and he dropped his weapon.

Jarvis clutched his arm and glared at Tobin. Tobin raised his sword and pressed the tip of the blade lightly against Jarvis' neck.

“See, Jarvis?” said Tobin, “I'm not afraid of shedding blood, either. And as I said, I'm here to take you in.” His chest was heaving from the exertion, but Jarvis did not appear to be phased.

Jarvis flicked his wrist, and a dagger which had been hidden in his sleeve appeared in his hand. He made to lunge it into Tobin's side, but the bounty hunter was too quick for him. The instant that Jarvis moved, Tobin pressed his sword straight through Jarvis' throat. Jarvis gurgled and sputtered blood, and dropped the dagger he was holding.

“No matter,” said Tobin. “Dead or alive, I'll still claim my bounty from you.”

***

“I'm sorry, Tobin,” said Jacob, constable of the queen's guard in Virdura castle, as he shook his head. “It's a new law, from Queen Celeste herself. The city no longer pays bounties for dead criminals. You were to bring him in alive, that was your mandate. You should feel lucky that I don't have you up on murder charges!”

Tobin sighed. Perhaps it was time for him to take a break. He had heard some travellers talking in the tavern the week before, about a village called Carrington. A nice calm place, by all accounts, on the banks of the Ten Mile Lake. It should be lovely this time of year.

Yes, thought Tobin, as he walked out of the constable's office empty handed. That's where I'll go. Carrington. I just need a Sabbatical, that's all.

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