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Your Life or Mine

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Rem didn't need a lot,a loner;he made his living collecting bounties and hiring out as a sell-sword. In
his early thirties,he was unmarried,self reliant,and had no intention of settling down. He never knew
his family,they were killed in a raid on his village when he was just a babe. He was taken in and
raised by an old man the rest of the villagers believed to be a warlock. His hair was black as a
raven's wing and his face gaunt and beardless,burnt dark brown by the sun.The ladies all hungered
for him but his heart was like a cold stone, and none could hold his interest for more than a few
days.By his own admission,he was a hard man and more than once had he been on the wrong side
of the King's laws. A long scar ran down the left side of his face giving
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him a most sinister and distinguishing look. He rode in silence as he had done all day,as he had
done for untold days.
Rem was not a big man,maybe 150 pounds,but he was lithe and supple with a strength that belied
his slim profile.Not a man of many words,his eyes usually said enough...try me and die. Few could
look into those cold grey orbs smoldering under heavy lids and not look away. Who wants to actually
stare Death down!?
Another cold camp tonight,his man was close ahead,maybe within a mile. Rem reined in a short
while after dark beside a small creek and unsaddled the paint. After a brief but filling supper of deer
jerky and creek water, he stretched out full length on the ground close to where the little paint was
tethered,sword handle resting against the side of his right hand.
Tomorrow should end this hunt, and he would have the big man's head in his saddlebag. He'd have
to ride hard back to Azael's castle to collect his money before mother nature could ruin the features
and cheat him out of his purse.A small orange twinkle caught his eye,maybe the gods favored him.
He buckled on his sword,"Adder" named for the very skin that the handle was crafted from. The
blade was made from obsidian and metal forged in one of the Seven Hells the demon came from
that Rem had killed to obtain this weapon of magical design.The sword always stayed razor sharp,
and Rem had found nothing that would withstand Adder's stroke; not wood, nor iron nor stone.Only
luck had saved Rem that day.The demon had slipped and went wide with his stroke;Rem
didn't.Walking quietly rolling the heel of his soft skinned boot to the toe Rem eased through the
underbrush until he came within sight of the small fire. What Rem mistook for a boulder turned out to
be the big man himself. Gar in all his massive seven-foot frame, warming himself over the tiny fire of
peat moss. Before Gar's chestnut stallion could snort and give him away Rem stepped into the
small clearing and stood sizing Gar up.
"You and I have business" Rem said low but clear.
Gar jumped to his feet and looked directly to Rem drawing his sword coming up.
“ Who sent you,”he growled?
”Don’t matter much,all that matters is the price on your head; Rem replied.
He moved quick for a big man,covering the distance in an instant,sword overhead howling like a
Banshee; he swung in a slicing arc. Rem whirled left and met the Giants blow with Adder,knocking it
wide then following back
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with a vicious swing. Gar barely caught it,and Rem whirled back with a blow that took Gar's head
and sent it rolling over the hill.The hulk that had been Gar spewed blood out of the severed neck
which toppled to the ground with a heavy thud. Rem emptied Gar's saddlebags taking what little he
could use ,then afterwards walked down the hill and collected his grisly prize. Stowing the head in
one side of the bags, he saddled the chestnut and led him up the hill to the paint.
Saddling the paint he tied the chestnut to the saddle horn,climbed up and rode back in the direction
he had come. Keeping the paint at a trot ate up the miles in the darkness. For the next day and a
half he rode unmolested,weariness finally making him stop beside the river Thenn;two days ride
from Azael's.CHAPTER 2:
Rem caught a couple of nice rainbow trout and enjoyed his first hot meal
in days. He thought of Gar and placed a large rock in the opposite side of the bags and tying a
grass rope around the middle submerged it in the cold water. "That'll keep you pretty," he chuckled.
He awoke mid afternoon and broke camp. Retrieving the bags,Rem saddled up and pushed on.
On the outskirts of Castle Azael a crowd was gathering for the weekly cockfights. People came from
miles away to bet their meager savings and enjoy the camaraderie . Vendors hawked their wares
as children ran to and fro.
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