Blood, Sawdust, and Vengeance
The elf rode into Caerd on a weary sorrel horse. Hat low and thread-bare coat pulled tight, the elf steered the horse through the muddy streets, ignoring the stares of the few inhabitants lining the weathered, wooden sidewalks.
The elf reigned in and dismounted, hitching the horse to the post in front of Milford’s store. Saddle bags in hand, the elf glared at a young couple, two Halflings who quickened their step along the wooden sidewalk as they passed.
The elf spat into the mud, and then made his way across the street, disappearing into Battlesaddles’s Hotel.
Long moments passed before a single shot rang out.
Tobart Billings found the elf lying on the floor of the hotel’s bar, in a growing pool of blood and sawdust. Hawks Battlesaddle stood over the elf’s body, shouting in vitriolic dwarven. The few patrons present had dispatched themselves to the far corners of the room, many still sipping warm beer from glass mugs.
“All right, Hawks,” Billings growled. “Shut it.” The dwarf roared another curse before grumbling to silence, his rheumy eyes locked on the sheriff. “What the hell happened?” Billings asked, looking around, from Battlesaddle to the folk gathered in the corners.
“It was—godsdammit!” Hawks Battlesaddle spat, seemingly unable to speak without resorting to a curse.
“It was me, sheriff,” a young dwarf said, stepping forward. She was dressed in the red silks, satin, and lace of a midscale public woman, and she held a small pistol in her hand.
Billings was taken aback. “Djeera? You shot this elf?”
“Right out and gunned ‘im down, dammit! Not workin’ for me more’n three weeks ‘n’ she shoots a godsdammed customer!” Hawks Battlesaddle roared.
“Don’t make me say it again, Hawks,” Billings replied. “Shut it.” He turned to see his deputy standing in the hotel’s doorway, gawking. “Stop being a twit, Thomm, and get a statement from everybody in here.” Thomm, blanching, cast a furtive glance over at the dead elf, before making his way to the nearest witness.
“All right, Djeera,” Billings said, his hands on his hips. “What happened?”
“I shot him, Sheriff,” Djeera replied. “He came in, ordered a drink, then turned and grabbed my…well, he grabbed me.”
“And then what? You just shot him?”
“Yes,” Djeera said, her pretty, cherubic face set with resignation.
Billings was still at a loss. He looked from Djeera to the dead elf and back. “Djeera, you’re a whore. Your ass is meant to be grabbed.”
“Exactly!” Hawks Battlesaddle spat.
“And both of you are such gentlemen,” Djeera replied. She tossed the pistol to the floor. Then she balled her hands into fists and said, “That elf was nothing more than a low-life outlaw. His name is Kaes’ryl Dindioal, and the last I heard, he was wanted over in Hythic territory for rape and murder. So you’ll just have to forgive me, Sheriff, if I take offense to your attitude regarding my occupation and my…behind.”
Billings blinked. Hawks Battlesaddle’s bearded jaw nearly dropped to the bloody, sawdust-covered floor.
“Wait,” Billings said. “How do you know that, Djeera?”
The young dwarf stared at the dead elf. After a time, she looked up at Billings, her eyes cold and hard. “Because I’m the one he raped,” she said. “And my father was the one he murdered.”