His hair was greasy and uncombed; slick, black, and straight. His rough-shaven face might have been handsome, but it was haggardly and weathered. So worn and spent was he in appearance, that his age was impossible to distinguish. A well-rested and clean persona of the same man would have looked to be at the turn of thirty.
He wore a dusty old longcoat, with a high collar covering his neck. It was clear this coat had seen many a mile walked, and countless journeys undertaken. The proofing alone must have kept it together. The buttons were missing, and the coat opened up to show the man wore a leather vest and a white camise underneath. The strapboots he wore plainly appeared to be the only piece of his attire that looked to still be in satisfactory shape and age, most probably because he had already replaced the originals, several times.
A well trained eye would have looked past the wear of his clothing articles, and noticed the faded gold designs on the inside of his longcoat, and the silky silvery embroidery of his dirty camise; signs of the quality and craftsmanship with which they were made. Echoes of prestige and status, now long gone.
Despite his accoutrements, the man’s large arsenal of weaponry spoke a different tale. They were clean and well-kept, as impressive as the day they were forged. On his back, a strange variation of a long-rifle hugged him tightly. The barrel was completely encompassed by the wooden forestock, itself inlaid with intricate curvaceous tracery of gold thread and delicate carvings depicting a bird in flight. Inside his longcoat, hanging from his right hip, was a weapon recognized in the northern empire as a blast cannon, or also a scattergun, referred throughout the Soutlands as a fulminaire. It resembled a pistol, but with two stubby, large barrels, and two independent triggers controlling two separate hammers. The steel on this weapon was chromed, polished to a bright shine, and the handle was of red mahogany. Attached to his right thigh, underneath the blast cannon, was a pistol, but not a flintlock. Instead it possessed the same curious firing mechanism as the long-rifle. The metal was black, embedded with brass asymmetric S shapes that continued seamlessly to the handle. On his left hip, sitting in a plain black scabbard, was a long and slim sword, straight and double-edged. The hilt , too, retained no distinguishing features, being simple in design. The grip was long, allowing for two hands, although the sword looked light enough to be wielded with one. The pommel was subtle and spherical. The whole of the sword was the cleanest of all the weapons, and yet remained unassuming, barely visible underneath the man’s coat.
He was standing amidst tall grass. He was in the wilds. There were but few trees here. A cool wind blew from the north. The sky was a cloudy, lifeless grey. The man crouched in the grass, still as a corpse, hiding and waiting. His quarry was ahead, barely two hundred meters off; its large arched back the only part of it visible above the grass. It did not smell him. The nullodour he wore was doing an admirable job of masking his scent.
The man slowly reached behind him and pulled his rifle from his back. He loosened the strap. Then patiently and deliberately he rose to his feet. His face was stern and serious. His concentration on the beast ahead was intense. It did not notice him. A fact that the man needed to change.
“Monster.” His voice carried itself as clear as a received letter across the distance between himself and the creature. Immediately the thing straightened its back and looked at his direction, in a slightly startled reaction. It almost resembled a dog. It had stiff, conical ears like one, and a short snout. Its eyes were small, black orbs. Its body was somewhat humanoid. It was very muscular, had a large torso, and a canine’s hind legs. Its arms were like a mans, but its hands, like the paws on its legs, sported vicious black claws.
When the monster locked gaze with the man, it began to snarl. Its upper lips pulled back and trembled, revealing yellowed, long and sharp teeth. The sound was guttural and rumbled low like a large pile of earth being slowly shifted.
Suddenly, it sprang forward, dashing towards the man on all fours, closing the gap incredibly fast. The man stood his ground and called out, “Heave to! I only wish to speak!”
The beast did not stop. It was reaching the half-way point. The man shouldered his rifle, but tried to call out again. “Heave, you fool! I intend only to talk!” his pleas went unheard. The monster ignored him and did not falter, its intention clear. The man gripped his rifle tighter and aimed down the sight. The dog-monstrosity must have been seventy-five meters off. The man let out a slow breath, making a soft “ooohhhh” sound. The pounding of the monsters feet and hands swallowed all other noises. It came closer and closer, becoming louder with every thundering bound. The trigger squeezed; the rifle detonated. A puff of smoke loosed itself from the creatures head, and then with a mighty crash it collapsed to the earth, as all its limbs suddenly went limp. Its speed was so great that it slid lifelessly along the ground for a few feet, leaving a path of smooth, flattened grass behind it. The final destination of the body was but ten meters away from the man.
He let out a long sigh. Not one of relief, but disappointment. He pulled the rifle away from his shoulder and held it loosely in both hands for a moment, before mounting it again on his back and tightening the strap. He stood still and stared at the body of the unterman he had slain. There was a little bloody hole in its forehead where thick crimson oozed out.
Behind the man was a tree. It was gnarled and withered, a skinny thing twisting upwards and with few leaves. Sitting on one of the branches, watching the whole event, was a raven. It cawed three times at the man, as if to draw his attention. The man turned to face the raven.
“Tell your lord Corvus that I will have naught to do with him.” He spoke to the raven, in a deep and scathing tone. Then he turned back to the dead bogle before him. From behind his back, he pulled out a long skinning knife and what looked like an empty flour sack. He walked to his quarry and set to work severing its head.
A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I took some liberties with this story that I wish to immediately apologize to Mister Cornish about. I am merely an enthusiastic fan and an aspiring writer. That is why I hereby surrender rights and ownership of all intellectual property and any concepts or ideas portrayed within this short story and any of the aforementioned articles that may be present in any succeeding additions or renditions or continuations of this story to Mister D. M. Cornish, without which this would never exist.
So what do you guys think? If there is interest, I will write sequels.