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Publisher M F Burbaugh
The god's do not always smile on the innocent.
Sir Wendel, once the youngest Knight in the land, has fallen from the good graces of the new king. His wife and child are brutally murdered as he is forced to watch and he is stripped of all his possessions save his sword called Ferocity's Revenge.
This is not our England, it is a forgotten one. One stuck in time.
Join him in this saucy, revengeful, swashbuckling, story, as he takes on an apprentice as part of a large fee deal, a young princess of a foreign kingdom bent on revenge and willing to do anything to get it.
A Pact with the Underworld
I sit reading an old scroll from an ancient story, a group of shepherds by a grave, an old grave. The quote on the tomb is, 'I too am from Arcadia’. I'm thinking, yes, 'I too am from Malkin’, but was it something I wanted on my grave? I'd really have to think on it. To once more be allowed to go home.
The next scroll is an expanded one we are taught from birth of our origins, it comes from the Sumerian people. We were created by the evil gods of beyond to be their slaves, like almost all the religions it tells we are forbidden to learn knowledge of or from them for fear of revolt. It tells of rebellions and wars and anger, not by man, but among the gods themselves. We are one of many racial lines, all similar, of places that may hold one-hundred Englands, similar yet different, and of gods fighting for control of them all.
Dang, hundreds of me? Pity them all.
My reading was disturbed by a very beautiful blonde. "Please, will you help us, Sir Wendel?"
"Now that's a name I have not heard spoken in but whispers for a few years, young lady. Might I caution you to not speak it so loudly. That title no longer exists. I am simply called The Bounty Hunter."
She looked around, we were quite alone in the little corner of the Tavern. "Hear my proposition then, Bounty Hunter." With that she dropped a sheaf of hand written documents on the table. I picked them up, giving them a cursory glance.
"What you read of is convict 171645 while in his last meeting with his Presenter before he was executed. He lays in the death room waiting for a reprieve from the Superior Court in Krilldane. A reprieve that has never come in almost fifty years of any convicts waiting."
What I read was of a young man of sixteen, strapped to a table and talking to an old man in a wheeled chair. I could see the boy’s face clearly in my mind from the description. The man in the wheeled chair was fairly well detailed as well.
People to be publicly hanged when royalty was present were ‘prepared’ by the monks to make sure their bodies were cleansed of anything that might cause embarrassment to the ladies of the court while the convicts are slowly hanged in the square. They spent the last forty-eight hours of life strapped down with no food or liquid—if they embarrassed themselves, the executioner could well be the next one to swing.
The blonde lady brought forth a wisp of a lad who stood silently. "This lad here is Lyle, he is deaf. He reads lips and what he says he heard is quite interesting. The story you read is as he related it to my scribe."
The boy couldn't have been over twelve. She explained, "He is the executioner's helper, and because he is deaf he is permitted to remain in the death chambers since it was believed he could tell no one what was said. She turned the boy and spoke as he watched her lips. "Lyle, tell the man what was being said, please?" the young lady asked.
He had a deep raspy voice. "He tells the one in the wheeled chair, 'You swore it would not go this far! You knew I was innocent. What happened?'
"The one in the chair says, 'They paid you well, far more than your life is worth. I suspect they changed their minds.'
"The boy says, 'But you promised! It was just until Hammond or whatever his name is, could get out of the country, then you'd prove he did it and I'd go free. Everyone would be happy and I'd get the money to help my mother. You promised!'"
I could picture an evil grin cross the face of the man in the wheeled chair, as the paper described it, and Lyle continued, "The man in the wheeled chair says, 'Son, I tried to tell you, I am a Presenter. I say whatever I am paid to say. They wanted someone to take the fall for Samuel's murder and you freely volunteered to be that fool. I was paid, as were you, to ensure the Prince in question took no blame for his death. Now, if there is nothing further, I will let the monk give you your death rights. Good day, 171645, die well.' Then he leaves."
As the man in the wheeled chair slowly turns and wheels out of the room, the paper said the boy was yelling from the table.
Lyle continues, "The boy says, as he cries, 'But you promised! They promised. I did nothing! Nothing. Help me!’"
The girl stepped forward, moving Lyle to looking at her. "Thank you, Lyle." Then she turned to me. "The monk gives last rights, the boy protests his innocence to his death an hour later, and thus convict 171645 is no more."
"Fine, another innocent dies, happens often enough. What can I do about it? I'm just a small time bounty hunter," I told her.
The way she shifted her body and placed a hand on her hip said she wasn't quite buying that. "Look Vernon, I know who you are so quit spreading manure. Please? I spent a long time finding you. You are about the only one with enough guts to do this. You went into the enemy lands of the Farrakhan to capture that one criminal and for what? A mere three thousand gold coins? I want you to find and eliminate all of them involved, from that crooked Presenter to this Hammond fellow."
"Look milady, I appreciate the flattery and all, but there are plenty of toughs who can do this; you don't need, nor can you afford me. I am a bounty hunter. Not an assassin."
"And I place a bounty on all their heads, as high as necessary for you to not bother to bring any of them back alive!"
She looked uncannily like my dead wife. "Listen, you're a beautiful young woman and all, and I really do appreciate the offer, but why not get someone cheaper? You're looking for an assassin not a hunter."
When I said that she threw a stack purse of gold Torps on the table, each a fine gold bar. "That is 40,000 worth in coin." She turned to the man with her who handed her a purse which she also tossed on the table. There is another 40,000, making 80,000, and it is real gold. I will give you another 80,000 when Hammond is dead." At the current rate of the realm, that was eighty bars at 1000 gold coins each. Quite heavy.
At one time gold coins were real gold, not the brass we use today. Even the silver were silver, not pewter. I was told as a child that due to the shortage of these metals in three of the four realms, that the Abbott in Krilldane consulted his council and they came up with these alternatives. Only the Torp was real gold. The rest were exchanged at Krilldane for their equal in gold or silver, only if you were a trader and journeying outside the four realms. It forced most trade to remain at home and keeps outside ruffians to a minimum.
I think I whistled—most Torps were held by royalty; it also meant she was quite serious. "What was he to you? That kid. Your husband? Lover? Is he really worth all that?"
I saw her lovely face soften a bit then mask again. "He was my only brother. Will you do it?"
"What of the man in the wheeled chair? Others involved? How much for them?"
"I only have 10,000 left," she said.
"Hmm, no deal, sorry. I really would like to help, but business is business. I know you are aware that the Hammond they speak of is probably the King's son and the man they said your brother killed, Samuel, is King Darth's son from Sorensen Provence? I am not some fool, my lady, I hear of these things. If you want me to go against ruling dynasties. 170,000 is far short of even an opening offer for such a deed."
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Born in the post war era of 1947 and raised in the farm country of upstate New York, MF Burbaugh saw ground level life and death.