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It was pouring when he entered the inn, everyone turned to look at him. He was wearing a black overcoat and brown hat. The room was reflected in his tinted glasses: a gleaming fire, several roundtables, and a bar. The inn was silent except for the crackling of the hearth. Timidly, the bartender asked, “Would you like a drink?” Without responding, the Stranger nodded and sat down. Baffled, the bartender scuttled away to grab him a beer. The inn slowly emptied out and the stranger retreated to his room.
He had his bags delivered directly to his room. They were a few soft bags that seemed to be filled with clothes or something of the same sort. Most though, were large wooden boxes that had symbols depicting a glass vase and the word WARNING: FRAGILE OBJECT written in bold letters under them. The Stranger watched them like a hawk while they were carrying the boxes. Speaking briskly here and there telling them “Keep it stable!” or “Don’t drop that!”. Finally, all the boxes were delivered to his room, which he immediately entered and closed the door. He did not eat that evening.
Through the whole town, people talked about him. The people who were at the inn the night he entered talked about him with the most intensity, calling him a demon or a wizard. The children would run at the site of him yelling names and curses. He mostly stayed in his room, coming down only to eat or buy something at the market. Several times he had left the inn to go to the blacksmith, asking him to fashion a bolt or a screw. The longer the Stranger stayed, the more the townsfolk started noticing different things happening. A disease passed through the livestock, a fire appeared in one of the houses. All things they attributed to the Stranger. Many of the villagers started to resent the Stranger and they plotted with the sheriff to have him dealt with.
As he went down to buy something from the market; he was assaulted and arrested by the sheriff.
“What is the meaning of this?”
“You are under arrest for treason and witchcraft”
“But what have I done?”
“You defile this town.”
They demanded that he stop his work and leave their town or be hung in the town square. They wrapped his hands up with a strand of rope and dragged him off to the inn. They busted open his room and were amazed to find it filled with machinery and vials. The vials seemed to be constantly shifting colors and throwing patterns upon the floor. The machines had a Frankenstein feel to them, they appeared to be made of stitched together parts with pipes and valves connecting them all. In the middle of the room sat a large tank, with something tiny that seemed to be growing inside.
“What is this?” The sheriff demanded.
“But what does it do?”
“Nothing yet.” He replied abruptly, not wanting to continue the conversation.
They took the Stranger to the town jail. It was a small wooden building, with a few barred windows looking out upon the street. Inside was even more pitiful, rats had built homes in the wall and cockroaches scurried along the floors. There was only one jail cell and it smelled like it hadn’t been cleaned recently. They threw him into the cell and slammed the door. Outside, villagers had gathered to see what had conspired. The sheriff stood in front of the crowd and announced that the Stranger was to be burned at stake in two nights for witchcraft and treason against the state.
Sometime between then and the execution, the sheriff went back to make sure the stranger was alright and was surprised to find that the Stranger had not tried to escape, in fact, he had barely moved a muscle. The sheriff gave him his supper, extinguished the candle that lit the jail, and left. Finally alone the Stranger left the cell (Lockpicking it had not been very hard) and went to check up on his machinery, which seemed to all be intact. Inside the glass tank, the growing organism has started to develop a familiar shape, pulsing with a strange glow. He returned to his cell before anyone could notice his disappearance.
The Stranger was brought up upon a dirty crowd of farmers, eager to watch the proceedings. He had been wrapped up in twine and carried up towards a large pile of wood. The sheriff looked down on him from his podium, the Stranger stared back at him with unwavering intensity.
“Do you admit to your actions?”
“No, I assure you I’m innocent.”
He was grabbed by two guards, They were in full metal gear and each with a spear in hand. They attached him to the stake and prepared the fire. The guards poured oil all along the wooden base and stuffed as much hay as they could between the wood blocks. Then a bell sounded. CLING! CLING! CLING! From his podium, the sheriff yelled, “Commence the burning!” From the crowd came a third guard, this one was dressed differently with a red cross along his chest. He was carrying a flaming torch and brought it up to the stake.
“Any last words, traitor?”
“If you burn me, you will regret it,” the Stranger replied calmly.
With that threat, the final guard threw the torch into the wood. It all seemed to happen painfully slow for the Stranger. First, the torch finally reached the wood, then it had to catch the wood on fire. All the while he felt the heat emanating from the flame. Suddenly, the wood seemed to explode! Everything was on fire, he felt the flames caress his entire body as his clothes caught fire and burned his body. He opened his eyes and stared at the guard one last time. He stared at him right in the eyes, it was as though he was looking at the man’s soul, “You shall pay for this.” Then, the flames consumed his body and he died.
In the Strangers room, apart from the chaos. Some glass broke, and a humanoid creature rose from the ground. He resembled the Stranger in every way and as he roamed the room, he seemed to have the memories of the stranger too. He dressed, put on his hat and coat, and left the room.
Somewhere in another town, a strange man entered the inn. As he entered everyone turned to look at him, He was wearing a black overcoat and a brown hat. The room was reflected in his tinted glasses: A crackling fire, Some tables and a bar. The bartender came up to him, “would you like a drink, sir?” The Stranger nodded and sat down.