We Are The Champions: Chapter Thirteen Of “Bounty Hunter”

The battle drags on until he finally tires of it. Then He kneels. “You have given my heart joy. I have been given one more great battle. Behead me as you would a hero. With my own sword. And remember this day. I yield my sword to you, Angel.”

He offers me his sword and I take it. “I will not pike your head. Instead, I shall build a pyre in the center of the hall and place your body and head upon it. I give you a hero’s funeral.”

“Bless you. You are a most worthy foe. And a most gracious victor. I have seen none more worthy than you to be called a great warrior.” He bends low, offering his neck. I lift and cut downward with his sword. His head drops to the floor. Followed by his lifeless body.

I do as I promised him. I build up a pyre of logs. I find some pitch and coat it. I lay his lifeless body in the center. Then place his head tucked between his arm and his body. I pour the pitch over his body as well.

I walk over to the wall and remove a torch. Then walk back over to the pyre. I throw the torch onto the middle and it bursts into flame. I search the fortress or something to destroy it with. I find casks of gunpowder.

I take Annabelle a safe distance from the fortress and set her under a tree. Her breathing has become shallow. She looks up at me. I smile.

“Did we win?” She is gasping for breath.

“Yes.” I nod. “We are the champions.”

“Good.” She smiles weakly. “Come closer.” I bend closer to her. She puts her hands upon my forehead. “It is time.”

I feel a heat spread through my forehead. She vanishes before my eyes. A tear begins to run down my cheek. “Good Bye.” It is a whispered farewell.

I return to my task within the fortress. I spread the gunpowder out in lines, each leading to a cask. I place each cask in a different corner of the great hall. And two out on the parade grounds. I quickly make my getaway. Behind me, the fortress explodes into a huge fireball. His final sendoff.

***

I mark Olaffssonn off the list. But I not him as an honorable foe. Fearless and strong. Torgue is next. But right now, I don’t feel quite like doing battle. Perhaps a small rest is in order.

Is this what it feels like when you become too attached to someone? Was I really that attached? Or was I merely remembering my own trials at that age? Maybe it is all of this. Or none of it at all.

I am so confused. Why do I feel this way? She is the second companion I have lost. And she wasn’t with me that long. But neither was Cyanne.

I need to shake this off. I need to get back into the groove. This should not even be an issue. I blink back the tears.

***

I have wondered around for a couple of days. I finally have it out of my system. After all, she isn’t really gone. She is a part of me. I hold her power inside me. She gave it to me. Her lasting gift.

I head on west. Now, I only have fifty miles to go. I should be near the house of Torgue in a couple days. By then, I will be ready to fight again.

I smile. I wonder how her powers will react to my own. Will they augment them? work in tandem? Or work separately?

My mind is full of questions. All of which will have to be answered. Sooner or later. But for now, I walk. Lost in thought.

But as always, I cannot be left in my thoughts for long. Something, or someone, always has to interrupt me. This time, it is a small pack of ghouls. I draw my swords.

They see me and rush at me. I begin slashing as they reach me. I look around as I cut through them. For some reason, this pack has gotten larger. This is not right.

The more I kill, the more appear. Where are they all coming from? Are they somehow multiplying? Or were the first ones I saw just a small portion of a larger group?

I decide on this last thought as the most likely possibility. I shake my head. They don’t usually travel in such large groups. Oh well. Time to put an end to this.

I speed things up. There has to be an end here somewhere. And sure enough. There it is. The last ghoul.

As I cut through the last undead equivalent of a cockroach, I breathe a sigh of relief. How many had been in this group? fifty? One hundred? I count them. Three hundred!

I shake my head. What is going on? Has my destruction of the vampire clans suddenly opened up a new can of worms? I hope not. But groups that large are unheard of. Usually, they only travel in packs of twenty or fifty. No more.

No matter. Numbers do not matter. They cannot fight. They can only devour. But only if they can get close enough.

I pile the carcasses up and set them on fire. Like wood, they burn fast and hot. Strange, since they are decaying human remains. But they are more like the mummies I remember seeing in the museum before the war. Perhaps that is why they burn so well.

Of course, I have went past places where McCall and I had killed a bunch of ghouls and not burned them only to find that they turn into dust. If they aren’t devoured. But we burned most of them. Otherwise there was a risk of the disease spreading through animals. Can’t have that.

I turn away from the mound of burning ghouls. I need to continue on my way. No time to stand here and think. I walk away.

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