They were unpleasant.

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I stepped out into an open courtyard to find myself looking at a pair of soldiers. They carried no arms and appeared meek.

I distrusted them at once.

I went for my Colts, and the men opened their mouths far wider than they should have, revealing yellowed and cracked teeth, a forked tongue and blackened mouth.

As the Colts cleared leather, the men attacked.

Rolling flames of green and blue shot forth from their mouths, burning the air near me as I dropped to a crouch and snapped off a pair of shots. Both struck home, but as they did so, the sharp clang of lead on metal sang out.

The men tore off their shirts, revealing gray armor plating curving out of their flesh.

I rolled to one side, the sword clattering against the ground as I did so. Trying for another shot, the flames raced along my left arm, the pain searing as the fire bit through the cloth yet left it untouched.

I fired again, but the men moved in opposite directions, closing their mouths as they did so. While my shots missed, I had a moment of respite from the flames.

Only a moment.

The men came at me again, faster, mouths open and flames snapping at my flesh. My shots ricocheted off their armor.

One man reached up to steady himself as he stumbled, and I saw the fire breather’s weakness.

His underarm was pink. Unarmored.

I couldn’t wait for a shot.

I aimed for their heads, and the men split away again.

I holstered the Colts and drew the sword from its scabbard.

I slammed the blade into the arm of the first man to step out, both hands on the hilt of the weapon. There was no finesse. Only brute force.

He shrieked as the arm fell, and I reversed the blade, driving it into his exposed underarm and clear through his body. His partner stared at me in horror, and as he moved to attack, I yanked my sword out and kicked the corpse toward him.

He stumbled back, and I slashed at his face, blinding him. As the man opened his mouth again, I plunged my sword into it, the blade exiting the back of his neck.

I twisted the sword once, dragged it out, and wiped it clean. The pain from the burn gnawed at me, and I gave the bodies a kick as I left.

I have no love for fire.

#China #Horrorstories

Published by

Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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