They shot first.
The trio of headhunters stood a good distance from me on a solid piece of high ground. When the wind shifted, I could smell them for what they were. Their dogs, unlike their brethren from the day before, didn’t run away from them so much as they ran toward me. As the second of the two dogs came to heel by my side, I heard the unmistakable sound of hammers locking.
“Move, Blood,” one of the dogs growled. “Their better shots than you think.”
I took the dog at his word and dove behind a boulder as the riflemen opened fire.
Pulling my own rifle off my shoulder, I chambered a round, sighted along the barrel and waited a moment.
The men above me were good, but they were treating me as prey.
I was a hunter, and I’d been hunting men longer than they’d been alive.
The rifle bucked against my shoulder, and the first of the men dropped. One of the men hesitated, and the third man, wearing some sort of soft cap, barked an order at the other.
I put a round in the man’s head, and he and his cap went down.
The third man ran over the hill before I could get a shot off.
“He’ll run home to his mother,” one of the dogs stated. “Or, mayhaps he’ll run off to yours.”
“That won’t work out so well,” I observed.
The dogs chuckled, and we walked up the hill together. They sat down beside the bodies, and one of the dogs, who had a white and brown coat, asked, “Would you do us a kindness, Blood?”
“If I can.”
“We’ve a sister who slung her litter,” the dog continued. “She could do with some meat.”
“What would you like?”
“Innards, if’n you would,” the dog laughed.
With a nod, I took out my knife and field dressed both bodies. I tied the innards up in a dead man’s jacket and then wiped my hands off on the pants of another.
While the other dog took hold of the knotted end, the white and brown dog’s tail thumped enthusiastically.
“Know you the way?” he asked.
“Because I aim to kill everyone I find.”
The dog laughed, offered me a quaint bow, and then trotted off alongside his friend.
I watched them for a moment and then headed off along the trail of the one who’d run.