They seemed happy to see me.
That was a mistake.
The dogs knew who I was as soon as they laid eyes on me. The hackles raised upon their necks, and both dogs bolted.
They knew what was coming.
The father and his three sons, however, stood there, oblivious to the danger. They overestimated their abilities and most certainly underestimated my own.
That was fine.
I could smell blood on them. The heavy, copper tang, and I knew it wasn’t animal blood they’d stained their hands with earlier in the morning.
These were manhunters, and they thought they had a bit of sport in front of them.
They were well-dressed and well-mannered.
“Stranger,” the father called. “Would you sit with us?”
They chuckled and glanced knowingly at one another.
“No?” the father asked. “Come now, it seems only right you join us since you scared away our dogs. You can sit with us until they return.”
“They’ll not come back, not so long as I’m here,” I told them.
The youngest of the sons laughed and asked, “Why is that?”
“They know who I am,” I answered. “Knew it when the wind shifted and brought my scent to them. They’re probably halfway to whatever you call home. Taken many heads this morning?”
My question caught them off guard, and their knowing looks were replaced by uncertainty.
“What do you mean by that?” the father asked.
“I’m no fool,” I said, “though I might look the part at times. I know what you are. Surprised you don’t know me. I’d wager you’re not in my mother’s employ, else you’d have opened fire by now.”
The hunters’ hands gripped their weapons tighter.
“No,” I smiled, “you’re just killers. But in the end, that’s alright too. We’ve all the butcher’s bill to pay. Even you. So, I’ll ask you this. Have you brought silver for your fare?”
“Fare?” the father asked, his voice tight. “Where in the hell do you think we’re going?”
I drew both Colts before the hunters could bring their weapons to bear. My revolvers roared in the forest, and I killed them all.
Ignoring the heat of the casings, I reloaded my pistols and holstered them. There’d be more headhunters of that, I was certain. Whistling, I drew my knife.
It was time to scalp the bastards.