I don’t know his name, and I hated him.
We saw him as night settled onto the land, the last of the day’s light seeping into the horizon. I couldn’t make out his face, only his silhouette as he sat astride his charger. I could smell tobacco and gunpowder. Old, familiar smells.
Horse sweat and saddle leather drifted along the breeze, as did the all-too-familiar stench of death.
For a long moment, I watched him, hands on my Colts. Finally, just before the wind shifted, I heard him chuckle.
“I know you. Enjoy, Blood.”
As my name reached my ears, he touched his heels to the charger’s flanks and off the horse went.
“Something’s wrong,” Champ growled, and he, Marie, and Felicia darted away toward the rise the man had vacated.
No sooner had the dogs gone over the small hill than a great howl went up. It was a sound filled with desperation and sadness, and when I raced up the hill after them and looked down, I saw why.
The dogs stood around a large hole, one filled with an abomination.
Human and canine body parts were strewn about. Arms and legs stripped of flesh, chest cavities torn open, and hearts missing. Even in the dying light, I could make out the hideous marks of saws upon bones and joints.
Someone had harvested the humans and dogs.
And none of them were old.
I was gazing upon the wreckage of children and puppies.
Blazing hate churned my stomach and caused me to grind my teeth together.
“What in the hell is this?” The question was rhetorical, but Champ answered it nonetheless.
“Der Verschlinger,” Champ growled. “The Devourer. I did not think he was still alive.”
“He’s a monster,” Felicia stated her voice low. “The headhunters pay tribute to him, and in some places, they worship him as a god.”
“That a fact?” I asked, taking out the Colts and checking the loads.
“Aye, Duncan,” Champ answered.
“That’s fine.” I slid the Colts back into their holsters.
“Gods can die, too.”