I just stood there, devasted by the ghastly scene in front of me. The walls were stained red and the battered body of my master was lying facedown in a pool of blood. Three blades were pierced in his back. His pale lifeless body was staring at me. His left hand pointed towards the door. At that moment it felt as if he was reaching for me. The despair I felt that day, has seized to leave my body. Immense hatred took over me and all I sought at that moment, was revenge.
I woke up, breathing heavily and sweating. I held my head in my hands, trying to calm myself. It had been two years since that day. I avenged my master. But to this day, I cannot sleep. Whenever I close my eyes, that grim moment comes back to haunt me. However, that is what has kept me going as well. Pain can be powerful, I learned that the hard way. I got out of bed and drew back the curtains, the sky was covered in thick clouds. I needed to leave the Inn before it rained. So I got dressed and went downstairs.
The dining hall was not so crowded. A few men were sitting on the tables, drinking beer, eating food and chatting. One was sitting at the counter, talking to the bartender. I went to the counter and sat next to him. The man seemed very old, had a thick white beard, wore a black jacket and had his left arm wrapped in bandages. He looked tired and the boots he was wearing were covered in mud. The bartender came to me.
"Morning Sir, what shall I get you?" He asked.
"I would like a steak with some fried eggs and a green tea," I said.
"Right away sir. Chelsie a steak for the young man with some eggs!" The bartender called at his daughter.
I turned at the old man. He had a root beer in his right hand and had cuts and bruises all over his face. His pupils were yellow and his hands were twitching. His left arm was severely injured. But that was not what caught my attention. What caught my attention was a strange green liquid on his shirt. Considering the old man's current condition, I suspected that he had an encounter with something dark and vile. And that he barely escaped. So I decided to intervene.
"What the hell happened to you?" I asked.
He turned towards me and stared for a moment. The old man shook his head, took a sip of the beer and spoke.
"As if telling you would make a difference." He said.
I lifted my sleeve and removed the black glove I was wearing on my left hand, exposing the mark on the back of my palm.
"Trust me. It will." I said.
He looked at my hand and then looked at me in shock. Then he turned and took a big sip of the beer.
"Just two days ago neither did I believe in the dark nor you people." He said.
"I am sure now you do," I said grinning.
"Yes." He nodded.
Meanwhile, the bartender served me the steak and the tea I ordered. I picked up the knife and fork and dug into the tender and juicy meat in front of me.
"So what happened?" I asked.
The old man gave a big sigh and then started talking.
"I came to this land with my butler to meet an old friend of mine." He said.
"We were travelling for hours, the sun went down. We were searching for an inn when it started raining. The road was rough and my carriage broke. We were looking for a roof when we saw this huge mansion. My butler and I went there to stay for the night. There was a beautiful lady who welcomed us. We appreciated the hospitality. We were offered hot food and warm beds for the night. Or so we thought."
I sipped my tea and listened to what came next.
"At midnight, I found myself chained in a dungeon. I could not move a muscle. The warm and cosy room was gone. I looked around, it was dark. I tried to move around, struggled to free myself but it was no use. Suddenly I heard a scream. It sounded like my butler. Fear took over me. After a few seconds, I heard crunching and gulping noises. I was scared to death. I just desperately tried to free myself but I was unable to get out."
"How did you escape?" I asked.
"My desperation helped me. The beast came to the dungeon after a while. I heard the door opening and scratching noises. I looked around and saw nothing. Suddenly some slimy liquid fell on me. I slowly lifted my head. What I saw, the horror, the ugliness, the animosity, will haunt me for the rest of my life. A big pair of red eyes were staring at me. The guttering noises it made out of hunger, froze me to death. I could not move a single limb anymore. It was as if life was being sucked out of me. It then crawled down and as my eyes adjusted to the dark, I could see the hideous beast in front of me. It was like a huge worm with many legs. Had huge arms, claws that could rip me to shreds in seconds.
"As it moved closer, I could smell the blood in its breath. It reminded me of my butler. I did not scream or tried to resist. But tears started to flow from my eyes out of fear. On its left side, I could see a human face. The same face that welcomed us. The beast grabbed me with my shoulders, removed the chains and opened its mouth so wide as if it was going to swallow me whole. At that moment, my survival instincts kicked. As it lifted me I got hold of a stone in my left hand. I jabbed it in the beast's eye. It quivered in pain and let go of me. I ran across the room, in search of a door. I found it, it was unlocked. I ran outside. I found the stairs and ran upstairs. As I came out I realized, it was a mansion in ruins. I ran and the beast howled and came after me. Somehow I managed to leave that godforsaken place. I ran for the woods, the beast was hard on my tail. As I ran, I stumbled and rolled downhill. I hurt my left arm and fell in the river. The next thing I remember is that I was at a bank and it was morning. I saw this inn and came here. The bartender helped."
"Interesting tale," I said.
"You think I am lying?" The old man asked in anger, thinking that I found the story bogus.
"Of course not. If you would have been a liar, I would have spotted it and never would have talked to you." I answered.
The old man calmed down.
"So will you kill it?" He asked.
"That is what I do," I answered.
I finished my tea and called the bartender. He joined us after a while.
"Was my horse fed well?" I asked.
"Of course. I made sure of it." He answered.
"Say, do you know about a huge ruined mansion around here?" I asked.
"There is one behind those hills. The Balthasar Residence." He answered, pointing to the hills outside the window.
"But if I were you, I wouldn't go there." He said.
"And why is that?" I asked.
"They say that mansion is the layer of a ferocious beast. Some say it is Boris Balthasar himself that haunts the place. Many went there but never came back. People stay out of that place. They don't even go near the hills anymore."
"Then that is where I must go," I said.
I grabbed my luggage from upstairs, wore my coat, placed two gold coins at the bartender's counter, thanking him for his service. I went outside, to the stables where I found Schneider, my horse. I mounted my horse and rode off, to the layer of the beast.
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