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It was a land without rule, or reason. A land without mercy or compassion. If you fall, you will not be helped up. Only with strong survive in the desert wasteland that is Emelia, or, as it is also known, The Little Eden. Though quite contrary to the title, the land is hardly a tranquil paradise. It is over a thousand square miles of desert, dust, and death. There is hardly any civility in the entire desert, and that includes the towns. They are just as lawless and dangerous as everywhere else. But it is in the town of Denel, nearly in the middle Emelia, that we meet our unsuspecting hero, Idaru.
He walked through the open doorway into the scarcely occupied bar, pulling off the hood of his dark shroud as he sat down at one of the empty bar stools. No one paid him any heed; he was a regular, and hardly of interest to them anyway.
“What’ll it be?” the bartender asked simply.
“Coming right up,” said the bartender.
He rubbed one side of his dark face with the heel of his hand, then set his elbow on the counter and rested his head. The bartender pulled a large bottle out from behind the counter, along with a drinking glass. He poured the glass full and then sat the bottle beside it.
“No problem,” the bartender replied.
Idaru drank his gin in silence, and once that glass was empty he poured himself another one. He examined the glass as he drank, turning it around in his hand, looking at the carefully made incisions with silent admiration for the beauty that existed even in an ugly land. He finished his second glass and poured another one, hardly waiting for the glass to leave his lips before he filled it back up. He drank his third glass slowly, enjoying it, and took the time to look around from his seat and see who was in the bar that day.
There weren’t many out on a hot day like this, where the sweat dripped down the back of everyone’s neck, and patience’s wore thin with the unwavering heat. There were three men in the corner playing cards, two more were sitting in an nearby table talking, and there was one other man sitting near the bar, minding his own business. Idaru took all this in without a word, and had another swig of gin. He swirled the drink around in the glass and watched it spin.
From outside there came a loud voice shouting something about a stolen horse, and then came the gunfire. Three shots went off, and one went through the front window of the bar, shattering the glass and embedding itself in the wall. The men playing cards in the corner stood up suddenly and hauled up the table to use a safeguard to the flying lead. One had drawn his gun and they all three took refuge behind the table. One the two men talking hit the floor at the first shots. From outside came another angry voice, followed by another retort of gunfire. More shots made it into the awe-stricken bar, where Idaru still sat calmly drinking the last of his glass of gin.
From under the bar came the cry of the bartender, “get down, you damned fool!”
But Idaru made no attempt to move, even though a bullet had come whizzing by his head and shattered the back bar-glass close enough for him to hear the whistle it made. Shouts continued from outside, but there were more people shouting now, too. Another two shots were fired, and suddenly Idaru’s drinking glass exploded in his hand, leaving him holding only empty air and a wet hand.
He stood up suddenly, spilling over his chair. He grabbed the neck of the gin bottle and walked outside. There were two men shooting at each other, while many others stood behind cover and watched. Neither of the men had been shot. Both men were apparently very bad shots, as only one of their bullets had anything living, a horse, and they had fired over ten shots total. Idaru picked the closest one he saw and threw the half-full bottle of gin at him. His aim was true, and the bottom of the bottle cracked the man on the side of the head. It didn’t shatter, but its contents spilled out on the dirt street and the man crashed to the ground from the impact. The other gunman looked at Idaru stupidly, as did the other voyeurs. Idaru simply stood there and stared back. They didn’t say anything, but their eyes told their next few moves in detail. The remaining gunman lifted up his revolver and pointed it at Idaru. But before he even had a chance to get his finger on the trigger, Idaru had covered the few yards between them and had a knife to the throat of the gunman. He put his other hand on the man’s wrist and wrenched it down, making him release his grip on the revolver. It fell to the ground harmlessly.
“Alright, man, I give up,” the gunman stammered.
“Keep your useless squabbles to yourselves, you brute.”
The man simply stared, mouth opening and closing, but unable to make a response or do anything but look stupid. “What are you…”
Idaru pulled his knife from the man’s throat, and used his forearm and leg to swiftly trip the man to the ground. His right hand still held the gunman’s wrist, so for good measure he put the arm behind his right leg and in front of his left. Then, he swiftly brought his right leg back, breaking the man’s arm. The gunslinger’s scream of pain broke the silence like a gunshot, and the crowd gasped. Murmurs spread around between them, but quietly, as no one else wanted to feel the wrath of the mad swordsman. Idaru grunted, then dropped the man’s useless arm. He went to sheath his knife but out of the corner of his eye he saw the other gunman who he had knocked out earlier attempting to aim his gun. So, without turning, he flung the knife at the man, embedding it in his thigh. For the second time in under a minute, a gunfighters’ scream of pain went into the air. He fired, but it hit the dirt a good six feet from Idaru and ricocheted into a wall. He collapsed back to the ground and writhed around holding his leg.
“You son of a b****!” he shouted hoarsely, trying to get in another shot from the ground. But before the gun even came off the ground, Idaru ran up and kicked it out his hand. It sailed through the air and landed fifteen feet away, behind the man.
Enraged, the man grabbed Idaru’s foot in both hands and twisted. It was a good attempt, and he managed to surprise Idaru and bring him to ground. But it was a short-lived victory, because as soon he hit the ground, Idaru ripped his foot free and kicked the man in the face with the heel of his boot. Then he got up and started kicking the man in the stomach and ribs, angry that he had been played so easily, and that he still hadn’t had his drink replaced.
He gave the man a few more good kicks, then looked back to see the other gunman. He had run away, or at least was nowhere to be seen, which was possibly the smartest thing he had done all day.
He turned his attention back to the beaten man on the ground, who was looking up at Idaru with a combination of fear and anger. He had a right to be afraid. A man from nowhere had turned up and beaten two armed gunmen, severely injuring them both. And he had done it so quickly; neither man had had a chance to react. It was spooky, how he moved like a ghost, seemingly there and then gone, so swift and fluid; it was definitely weird. He didn’t look like much, a small frame, short, with dark skin and long black hair tied back in a ponytail. He had on a long hooded coat that almost dragged the ground and a simple black shirt beneath. Black jeans and black boots, nothing special, or so it looked.
“What the hell do you think your doing, firing those guns in the open like that?” Idaru asked the man on the ground. “You could have killed someone, you foo.”
“Now wait here,” began the man on the ground, but was quickly quieted when Idaru kicked him in the stomach again.
“Shut up,” he said. “ Now listen to me. You made a mistake when you wanted to settle your differences in the middle of a crowded street, and you made another one when you shot my drinking glass. Now, I want two things to happen: first, I want you to give me my knife back, and then I want you to by me a drink, for the one you took from me.”
The man on the ground looked at Idaru incredulously. “What do you mean, give you your knife?”
“I mean give it back!” Idaru snapped, “God, are that fucking stupid?”
The man, with a look of resignation, sighed and looked down at the knife handle sticking through his leg. With grabbed it with both hands, but hesitated.
“Do I really have to, mister?”
He grunted and pulled. The grunt became a scream, but he kept pulling, until the bloody knife was out of his leg and quivering in his shaking hands.
“Alright, damn you. I did it,” he said through gritted teeth.
“Good. Now hand it over,” Idaru said simply.
The man looked at Idaru again with contempt and fear, and then handed the blade back, handle first.
“Thank you,” Idaru said when he had slid it back into its sheath behind his back. “ Now get up, you still owe me a drink.”
“But mister, I can’t stand,” said the downed gunman weakly.
“Oh I think you will, because if you don’t, I’m going to break both your legs, and your arms, and then I’m going to make you stand up anyway. So, the choice is yours.”
There really wasn’t much of a choice, so the man slowly, carefully, dragged himself up from the ground on only one leg, afraid to put pressure on the other one. After a few seconds, he managed to stand up, a little wobbly, and look Idaru in the face. His breath stank of alcohol, and he had to look down to look the little hellion in the eyes. Cold, gray eyes, devoid of emotion and almost completely heartless; those are eyes that said, ‘I would kill you without a second glance.’
“You still owe me a drink,” Idaru repeated.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the gunman said slowly, smirking. “Do you understand what I’m saying, or should I say it slower?”
By the way Idaru’s face contorted, the gunman figured this was the wrong thing to say.
Idaru head-butted the taller man in the nose, breaking it and sending the man back to the dirt.
“Never disrespect me like that again, you worthless piece of s***!” he screamed at the downed man. “Because next time you won’t live to gloat about it.”
“I’m thorry,” the man’s nasally voice responded.
“What was that?” Idaru asked smugly.
“ I thed I’m thorry.”
“what, you’re thorry? What’s ‘thorry’ mean, huh?”
The man reared up to his knees and yelled, perfectly audible, “I’m sorry.” His face was flushed was pain.
“You better be,” Idaru said darkly. “ Now get up, you have a drink to buy.”
The man struggled back to his feet for a second time, looking darkly at Idaru, but not saying anything.
“Move,” Idaru commanded, pointing to the bar.
Sulking, the man walked towards the bar, shuffling and dragging his feet along. Idaru walked beside him, and even let him walk into the bar first. The bartender and the other inhabitants of the bar had stood back up and put the bar back in reasonable order. There was still broken glass everywhere, but the tables had been set back up, as had the stools. Idaru took a seat on one of these stools. Every eye was on him.
“Sit,” he said, gesturing to the stool next to him.
The man did, apprehensively; still worried for any more tricks this small man might have up his sleeves
“What is your name, sir?” The man asked carefully.
“Idaru. What’s yours?
“My name is Gabriel Jenson.”
“Well Gabriel, I think you owe me a drink. Gin would be nice.”
“Oh, right,” Gabriel stammered, “umm,” he addressed the bartender, “I need a gin, please.”
the bartender eyed the beat up man coolly, “ coming up,” he said.
While the bartender poured the drink, Gabriel rubbed his head where the bottle had struck him, then he warily touched his broken and swelling nose. He winced in pain and sighed.
“I’m sorry I had to do that,” Idaru said, “but I can’t take being disrespected. You understand, right?”
actually, Gabriel couldn’t understand how someone could be so cruel for no real reason, and then demand respect from his victim, even if he had been drinking. But he said yes anyway.
Idaru took the drink the bartender had poured and took a drink. “Man, that’s good,” he said. “and by the way, I hadn’t paid for my first three drinks, so I was wondering if you could do that for me; I seem to be a little short on money.”
It wasn’t a question, but a carefully worded order, so he resigned himself and said, “yes.”
He heard snickering from a man behind him, but he didn’t turn. He would have his revenge. Oh yes, he would.
“so I was wondering,” Idaru said, bringing Gabriel back from his thoughts, “what were you and the other gentleman arguing about, and why was it important enough to kill him for?”
“he stole my horse,” Gabriel said.
“did you have any proof?” Idaru inquired.
“I didn’t need any, I knew it was him. he’s a damned horse thief and a liar. He stole my mare right from the stable, and then tried to lie to my face about it.”
“have you gotten your horse back?” Idaru asked.
“No, but I told him to bring it back to the stable before dark, that was right before the gunfire started. I know he will, because if he doesn’t, there is nowhere in this world he can hide from me, and he knows it.”
Idaru raised his eyebrows at the man’s conviction for what was his.
“Well,” Idaru said, setting his empty glass on the table, “you have some drinks to pay for.” He stood up. “I’ll see you around.” He pulled his hood up and walked out without another word.
“Yes you will,” Gabriel said under his breath, nursing the swollen side of his head. “yes you will.”
That night, while Idaru slept soundly in the upstairs of another bar, Gabriel silently opened up his door and crept into his room. he stood over Idaru while he slept, with a knife gripped securely in his hands. “Now,” he whispered, “You will pay.”
He brought his knife up high and in one swift motion brought it down into Idaru’s chest.
His eyes popped open and he breathed in a deep breath. Looking franticly at Gabriel, he mouthed words, but no sound came out. He flung his arms around uselessly while he sputtered up blood, coughing and choking on it. Gabriel held his grip on the knife until Idaru’s struggles became less and less forceful, then stopped altogether.
His last breaths coming in ragged gusts, and he stared up at Gabriel in complete surprise. He coughed one last time, sending up a mound of blood and mucus to run from the corner’s of his mouth, and died.
Gabriel released his grip on the handle of the knife, leaving it imbedded in Idaru’s chest. “Rot in pieces,” he said grimly. Then he left.