Day 14

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I was wary.

For two weeks, I’d been tromping around a world that was and was not my own. I’d killed and fought trolls, Skratti, orcs, and I knew that worse would make their way toward us, or us toward them.

I’d seen the markings of the wyrm and the tracks left by hellhounds.

And after yesterday’s incident by the shore, I trusted no one.

I’d left the main body of troops behind. They were burying the remains of the fallen from the day before and burning the corpses of the Skratti. I told Marius and Mikkelsen that I’d patrol alone, let the men rest and recoup what little strength they could.

I’d spotted sign of the wyrm again and come across those of the hellhounds, too. I had no desire to encounter either group alone, but scouting needed to be done, and I was the hunter called by Grimnir.

It was my job, whether I wanted the damned thing or not.

When I caught sight of the soldier with a small carbine standing by the cannon, I stopped. I’d encountered two other solitary men in the past two weeks, and neither of those instances had turned out well.

I set my hammer down in the road, settled onto my haunches and took out my pipe. The man watched me with a dull, listless expression. He hardly blinked as I packed the bowl and lit the tobacco.

With the stem of the pipe in my teeth, I slipped the Colts out of their holsters and eased the hammers back. The metal cool and comforting against my thumbs.

“Hello,” I called.

The man nodded.

“What unit are you with?” I asked.

He frowned. “I don’t remember.”

It was then that I saw the gash in the side of his head. Dried blood had matted his hair and hidden the wound at first.

“I’m with a group of soldiers,” I told him. “We’re making our way along the shore, looking for the root of all this.”

The wounded man smiled. “It doesn’t matter. They’ll find you soon enough. They found us.”

“Where’s the rest of your men?” I asked.

He shrugged. “My name is Johann Ewald. I had a fiancé, and I was to be a carpenter.”

Johann lifted his carbine up, put the barrel in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

He collapsed, struck the cannon and lay still.

I put the Colts away.

Johann I could bury.

#Denmark #supernatural #monsters #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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