They didn’t know what they were doing.
I was still suffering from the aftereffects of Horatio’s gift when I went out this morning. I had hoped the cold air and fresh snow would help clear my head, but neither did.
Instead, I ended up trudging through a foot of snow over a good portion of my land that runs along Blood Road. It was there that I saw the tracks and that whoever was searching for me had no idea as to what they were about.
They passed by a string of maples where the sap buckets were hung, a subtle sign from the dryads who lived upon my land. They were a warning that armed strangers were afoot.
The sight of the buckets chased the cobwebs from my thoughts, and I drew my Colts. Pausing for a moment, I examined the tracks and saw the boots were hobnailed and heavy. And there was more than one pair.
Moving along the path they left, I listened for any sound they might make. As I moved along, bird song faded, and soon I was left alone with the wind as it hissed across the land, driving loose snow before it.
I found the strangers not five minutes later.
Ten men were frozen where they stood, and as I approached them, I watched the eyes of the men follow me.
There was hatred and fear in their eyes, and if those men could have willed themselves free, they would have.
I kept my distance as I circled them, not only to make sure I wasn’t within easy striking range should one of them regain his freedom, but I didn’t want to end up in the same predicament. Just because my land is mine doesn’t mean it always listens to me.
When I’d satisfied myself about their inability to move, I stopped.
There is no doubt that I am, at times, a cruel man. I’ve done a great many things of which I’m not proud, and I’ve no doubt I’ll do a great many more before I’m done with this life and Death comes to reap me.
But there’s a time and a place for mercy, and this was such a time.
In the stillness of the snow-covered landscape, I gunned the men down, blowing out their brains.
It was as quick and as painless as I could make it.