Samuel and the bottle.
By: The Mino King
This story was originally submitted to Mythic!
His head pounded with the beat of the blacksmith in the basement. Three floors up and Samuel could not escape the torment of the hammer and the anvil. The hangover didn’t help.
It must have been noon. The shades were doing a horrid job of keeping the light out, their canvas marked with holes and rips from arrows and flame and worse. In the beams of light piercing the darkness, his hat sat on the nightstand next to him. Face to face with the infamous hat of his order he choked down his memories of the night before. He hoped that the woman had nothing to do with Slaanesh, but she was gone now, and beyond his retribution even if it had been a cultist he shared company with. Out here at the border’s edge of the Empire, he thought, it wouldn’t surprise him.
That’s when the door to his room detonated.
A meaty fist blew a hole through the 3 inch thick oak wood, splinters blowing like shrapnel into the small room Samuel had “requisitioned” from the home owner.
The wood chips hit his left eye with unnatural accuracy, and Samuel winced at the pain and cursed Chaos for its part in the shrapnel’s path to his face. He forced the pain down and opened his right eye to see the rest of the door be kicked in by the largest boot he had ever seen.
The man, if it still was a man, couldn’t fit through the door. He tried at first to fit, betraying his brutish intellect but then pushed the sides of the door frame outward with his hands, cracking and splintering the wood around him. Finally getting into the room there was barley enough room for the intruder and Samuel, who lay gawking up at the giant.
No one moved.
Then a quiet giggling came out of the giants stomach. At first Samuel thought the ogre-man was daemon possessed, with the spirit inside him mocking the half blind Witch Hunter with a transcendent voice. Then a small head appeared behind the giant, with long flowing black hair and a wickedly beautiful smile which was the cause of the laughing.
“Herk, meet Samuel.” She said.
Samuel lifted his left eyebrow in curiosity. The woman who had shared his bed had returned, and with the company of the thing which was neither man nor giant, but a mutation of both together.
“Samuel, meet Herk, my business associate.” She rested her shoulder against the right forearm of the ogre-man-giant.
Suddenly instinct, training, and finesse kicked in. Samuel ignored the pain in his eye.
“You know, I don’t share my affections with non-humans, and even though I made an exception for you, I wont go this far.” He said with a mocking tone.
The black-haired woman snarled and Herk slammed his fist into the wall next to Samuel’s head.
“No more talking, Witch Hunter, you know why we are here.” The woman said.
“Well it cant be the wine-” Before the words left his mouth Herk grabbed him by the throat and lifted him into the air, his feet dangling above the mattress of his bed.
“Imbecile!” The woman bellowed. “Give us the calendar or we will not only kill you, but every other Imperial dog in this rat hole village!”
Herk dropped him on the bed, where he bounced somewhat humorously.
The “calendar” that she described was a recent text made in the heart of the Empire. Created from the lunatic and prophetic rantings of heretics and faithful alike, it was thought to detail the end of the world and the coming of a new age of man. This age, will usher in a time of chaos defeated and driven from the shores of humankind. It was for all intensive purposes a propaganda piece at best, Samuel thought. However…
“I really can’t do that.” Samuel’s neck could barley choke out the words, Herk’s choke hold had left bruises in the shape of ogre-hands on his flesh.
“Then you will perish along with all of the Empire whores in this Gods-Forsaken town!” The witch spat dark blood as she scowled at him.
Herk reached again for Samuel’s throat, this time with murder in his eyes.
The wine at the home owner’s disposal was terrible. The vintage was horrific and the taste itself was akin to vinegar. Not at all what Samuel was used to. Despite his hate for the taste of the wine, he still had consumed it all in one sitting, and then passed out on his bed. It was a bad habit really, for if the bottle still had some wine left, it would spill and stain the sheets of his bed. This had happened a great number of times in a great many inn’s throughout Samuels travels.
As he sat there ready to die for the Empire, however unintentional, his right hand grazed the form of a terrible tasting red Sira, and yet again, his training kicked in.
The bottle rushed with blinding speed end over end into the murder face of the ogre-half breed. Samuel was blind in one eye from this afternoon’s events, but this monster was now totally blind. The bottle broke on the bridge of its nose and razor sharp bits of green glass impaled its eyeballs.
The meaty hands changed route from Samuels neck to the monster’s own face, clawing and scratching and yelling out garbled curses and supplications to dark gods.
In that split moment Samuel felt victorious, until his eye glanced the sharp dagger jetting toward him, held firm in the witch’s grasp. He went flat on the bed, the dagger slamming into the wall over him missing by a fraction of an inch. The witch was over him too, positioned on top of him in much the same way they had been only a few hours before. Then she made the mistake of not killing Samuel with her bare hands, and instead made a tug at the dagger to free it from the plaster of the wall.
That’s when one of Samuel’s other bad habits kicked in.
Samuel was a Witch Hunter. Not really that devout, not that zealous ,but a Witch Hunter nonetheless. He didn’t like working with his peers, and was glad at the fact that he was seldom called upon to do so. He didn’t mind the company as much as he hated the suspicious eye his peers would stare at him with behind his back. Witch Hunters who found other Witch Hunters in heresy quickly raised the ranks in the order, and Samuel was sure that a few other Witch Hunters had him in their sights. He had his reasons. Dark reasons. His past failings led to the death of a whole family of innocents. This wasn’t some nameless family of the Empire lost to the scum of Chaos…it was his own wife and daughter. Thus the weight of this guilt led to the bad habit currently in question, the very bad habit which would now be called upon by Fate to save his life:
Drunken attempts at suicide.
Sometimes he’d actually manage to fire the shot out of his flintlock pistol, but mostly he would be too drunk, and the pistol would drop to the bed next to the wine bottle as he passed out. Over the years the pistol had been with many wine bottles, and feared for its own purity.
This pistol was now firmly in Samuel’s right hand.
It was also pressed hard against the stomach of the witch on top of him.
So, he fired it.
The witch’s back was now a bloody pulp on the ceiling of the room, the bed was destroyed, the ogre-giant had crashed through the outer wall and fallen three floors down and impaled itself on an effigy of Sigmar, which just happened to feature a iron cast model of the deity holding a spear to the sky.
The priest who was the caretaker of the effigy was very sore about the prospect of cleaning the mess up.
The room he had commanded from the home owner, who was dead by the hand of the also now dead giant-man-ogre-beast was exposed to the elements, and the body of the witch would be a long time rotting if someone didn’t get up here and clean her up.
But Samuel sure as hell wasn’t going to do it.
He smirked. His hat stared at him from the only part of the room untouched and the only piece of furniture unbroken: the nightstand next to the bed.
He picked up his hat, reached deep inside, pulled a rolled tobacco stick from the secret compartment stitched into the lining, and put it to his lips.
He placed his hat so carefully at the top of his head, lit a match which in turn lit his tobacco, and then walked out of the room.