They thought they were hunting us.
We’d found the small village after butchering the headhunters, and as we moved from house to house in the night, I killed everyone I found.
They, like the men and women I’d executed earlier, were headhunters. I found rooms filled with their trophies. Some collected only the heads of women, others only blonde-haired men. In one house, only children.
I was considering putting the town to the torch when a dog reached us and was escorted in by Champ.
“She has news,” Champ stated.
“What news?” I asked, giving her a bit of jerky.
The dog ate, licked her chops and answered. “There are hunters coming from the estate. They’re bringing a pack with them and hunting for you.”
I frowned. “Will I have to fight the pack? If so, I’d rather leave.”
Her tail thumped on the floor, and she tilted her head up. “No, they will not. I bear a message.”
I nodded, and she spoke.
“’We run with Blood,’” she stated. She looked at me. “Will you wait here?”
“We will lead the hunters here,” the dog said. “Will you kill the hunters?”
I gave her another piece of jerky, and the dog raced off. I settled myself in the upper window of a house, removing a single pane of glass from which to fire from. The dogs hid in the lower levels and among the outbuildings, and we waited.
I sat far enough back so the barrel of my rifle couldn’t be seen.
Less than an hour later, they arrived.
There were four horsemen and easily two dozen dogs. I saw the female who’d come to me with the message. As I readied my first shot, I noticed how the dogs shied away from the horses, and a moment later, I saw why.
A dog drifted too close to the lead horse and received a brutal kick for its trouble.
As the rider laughed, I put a bullet through his chest.
Within a minute, all four of the men were dead. The dogs attacked the horses, dragging them down to the ground as my own pack launched themselves into the fray.
By the time I reached the first floor and left the house, the horses were dead, and the dogs were eating.
When the dogs saw me, they raised their bloodied snouts to the air, howling their greetings.
It was, I saw, a beautiful day.