The colonel waited with his hostages.
The last man I’d killed told me who was in charge and where to find him.
Here, on a barren battlefield, the man sat. His tent was pitched, and his hostages, two boys, were with him. They were silent and sullen, but when their eyes darted toward the colonel, I saw their fear.
“You’re Duncan Blood,” the colonel stated. “You’ll want to keep your hands away from the revolvers, else I’m liable to kill one of these boys.”
I took my pipe out of my breast pocket, packed the bowl and lit the tobacco.
“Why have you come, then?” the colonel asked, smirking.
I drew long and deep on the pipe and exhaled.
The smirk flickered, then faded.
“Come then, speak.”
I rolled the smoke around my mouth and let it slide out between my lips.
His skin flushed red with anger, and he straightened in his chair.
“Damnit, Blood, you’ll answer me,” he snarled.
I took the pipe out of my mouth, spat on the ground, then replaced the stem between my lips, clamping it gently with my teeth.
I saw his hands grip the hilt of his sword, his hat trembling with rage. The heels of his boots dug down into the dirt, and the boys shied away from him. The colonel’s beard and mustache shook as he spoke again.
“I’ll beat you with the side of my sword, Blood,” he hissed.
I remained silent.
“Damnit, man!” he leaped to his feet, and I drew both Colts.
The guns roared, slugs crashing into his chest and sending him staggering back. As each hammer rose and fell, rounds went racing out of the long barrels. The lower half of his face was blown away, then the top half of his head. His sword was sheared in half, and the .44 slugs cut him in two.
His severed torso thudded into the chair while his legs took a single step forward before pitching forward.
The sounds of the guns faded, and the boys stared at me.
I reloaded the Colts, slipped them into the holsters and looked to the boys.
“I’m headed back to town to make my way home. Have you family about?”
They shook their heads.
“I’ve room enough at my farm if you’d like to come.”
With the dead man at our back, we headed toward town and the way back to Cross.