The Bounty

April 26, 2017
By , Eugene, OR

The scent of horse s*** filled the damp air as the constant patter of rain gave rhythm to the emptiness of the men inside the tavern. A man rode his horse up to the tavern unfazed by the pungent odor; he tethered his horse outside and pushed the door open and walked inside. The inside of the tavern was rather clean with a couple men seated at the bar eating what seemed to be the daily special, some kinda meat soup. At one of the tables on far right where men wearing official-looking tabards over expensive-looking plate armor, but besides that they were staring blankly into their tankards of ale. An elderly man was behind the bar cleaning a glass, he asked “Ye staying for the night Rusaln?” as the man walked over the bounty board hanging on the left wall.
“No, just here to check the bounty board; I’ll be out of yer hair in a minute.” Rusaln replied.
“Looking for more info about that Andrion fellow?” the bartender asked.
“Yep, I heard someone posted something new about him .” Rusaln responded.
“Well, I hope ye get’em this time.” the innkeeper said as he turned his attention to the rest of his patrons and checked if they needed anything else. Rusaln spent some time flipping through the papers nailed on the board before he found what he had been looking for and bade the elderly bartender farewell.
Rusaln was one of the few well liked regulars of the tavern; he had never needed to open a tab and even was so generous as to donate a good amount of money to the tavern. He also provided a sense of security for the patrons at the tavern, being as most of them had seem him either kill a few bandits or deal with some rather unwelcome patrons. Shortly after Rusaln left for the night the patrons finished their drinks and meals and headed to their rooms upstairs. The innkeeper did the same after locking the front door.
The next day was rather uneventful for the tavern, but Rusaln had come across what he believed to be his quarry’s trail. Rusaln had been hunting the bandit who goes by the name of Andrion for some time now and has made more than a few attempts to capture, or kill, him to no avail, but Rusaln never gives up and always tries find Andrion whenever he happens across a lead. Most people think he is just determined to get the extremely high bounty on Andrion’s head, but most people don’t know much about him.
Shortly after nightfall Rusaln saw the smoke of a campfire coming from farther down the trail; he slipped into the shadows and began approaching the campfire unseen. He saw a tent with two men outside sitting around a campfire drinking freshly brewed coffee. The two men weren’t Andrion, but they had the mark of Andrion on their pauldrons so Rusaln assumed he must be in the tent. Rusaln found his bow and nocked an arrow. He stopped his breathing to steady his hand let the first arrow fly, and while it was still in the air he retrieved and fired a second arrow. The first hit one of the men in the back and killed him almost instantly; the second man stood up and was about to yell something when the arrow hit him in the neck and he fell forward into the campfire. The tent rustled. Rusaln dropped his bow and unsheathed his bastard sword as he approached the tent. He peeked through the tent flap seeing a man sleeping on the far side; he assumed the rustling of the tent was the wind and walked inside. When he entered the tent he realized his mistake. A large wolf tackled him to the ground and tried to bite his neck. He used his left arm to protect himself and felt the fangs of the wolf penetrate the flesh on his left arm, and he was able to swing his sword into the wolf’s neck causing it to whimper and begin dieing. He turned his head and looked over at the sleeping man, who was now standing with sword in hand. The sleeping man charged Rusaln before he could fully recover from the wolf attack, but Rusaln was expecting a similar tactic and threw a dagger at the man’s chest. The dagger hit and the man seized up and fell over. “Well there goes a hundred florins in poison.” Rusaln groaned as he walked over to the man. The man was convulsing and his limbs were bent in odd angles as the poison began to take hold and snuff out the man’s life. The man was indeed Andrion. Rusaln raised his sword and decapitated the convulsing man. He took the head and placed it into a sack.
By the time Rusaln made it to the tavern it was midday. He walked in the door and asked “Is the bounty collector in?”; the bartender smelt the stench of death and didn’t speak but rather pointed to a man in the far corner of the bar. Rusaln looked sickly pale and he had a blood soaked bandage on his left arm. Rusaln walked over and threw the sack on the table and left. The sack had the bounty poster of Andrion nailed to it and emanated the stench the bartender smelt earlier. The bounty collector looked confounded but opened the sack and saw the head of the man on the poster. “He didn’t want the money…” the collector said,
“It was never about the money for him.” the bartender replied.
Neither the bartender nor the bounty collector saw him again. He was later found in a bloody puddle in the remains of, a long since, burned down house on the far edge of town. It was the home of a family of craftsmen who were all thought to have been killed by a bandit raid.

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