The Man walked out of the mists, Retribution sheathed on his hip. Lost Hope materialized from a gas lamp lump of light attempting to fight back the evening fog and never really making much progress. The buildings here almost waved in the slight breeze that carried the smell of cheap liquor and even cheaper despair.
Tobias had been waiting here for the Man, leaning on his staff for strength. He was always a bit spooked by the eyes of the Man that were just black and white, exactly how the Man saw the world. Tobias wished he didn’t have to work with the Man, but he had no choice this time.
“Why did you summon me?” asked the Man. His voice was a whisper, but carried with the force of a thrown sledgehammer.
“We have a killer here,” Tobias said.
The Man snarled. “You called me for that? Bah!” The Man turned and began to walk back into the mists.
Tobias wanted so badly to just let him go. He could let the Man walk off into myth and legend. He would then tell the council he had tried. But then the thoughts of the families and he couldn’t keep his voice silent. “Six murders, all women and children,” he said.
The Man stopped in his tracks. Without turning around he said, “And?”
“All of them blinded before having their left hand chopped off,” Tobias spit out. Just speaking of the atrocities chilled Tobias to the bone.
The Man turned around and walked back silently to stand in front of Tobias. Tobias stared the Man in his eyes, but refused to say more, wishing he was anywhere but here.
The Man finally blinked his weird eyes and drew Retribution out of its sheath. The sword glowed with a blood red light. The mists seemed to retreat from it, and Tobias wished he could join them, but he stood his ground.
“Retribution has been drawn. It will not return to its sheath until the killer is dead,” stated the Man. The Man didn’t wait for a response from Tobias and walked into town, looking at everything through the red glow of Retribution.
Tobias turned to watch the Man, but didn’t move to follow. He helped bring the Man here, but he wasn’t going to stay and see what happened. He hobbled into the mists using his staff and whistling, making sure anything from Hell that followed the Man knew he was there. Maybe heaven would have mercy on his soul, but the deal was made with the devil and he didn’t want to be there when the bill came due.
The Man walked into town, Retribution sweeping back and forth. No other people came out to witness the spectacle. The Man walked the street alone until he came upon something that even his unseeing eyes widened in horror. Six people were staked to a crude wooden fence, their left hands scattered on the ground in front of them. Most were dead, but one boy still cried what little life he had inside out, one tear at a time. That was when the first shot rang out. The musket ball hit the Man in the shoulder spinning him around to face the next six shots that were fired from the rooftops of the adjacent buildings. The Man staggered under the impact of the onslaught and Retribution almost slipped from his hand. Another volley sounded out and the Man fell back onto the ground. Retribution’s glow intensified as the Man gasped to breathe through lead riddled lungs.
A man wearing a law badge came out of the building across from the macabre fence. “How does it feel now?” he asked. The Man’s reply was swallowed by the blood competing with the air leaving his lungs. Retribution continued to glow more brightly. The lawman walked close, but made sure to stay just out of the Man’s reach. “No one is above the law of man, especially not one of the Fallen,” said the lawman.
The Man lifted Retribution and pointed it at the lawman. The lawman pulled out his six shooter and in rapid succession fired six more bullets into the Man. Retribution fell back to the ground, but the Man still held onto the sword and kept on breathing.
“Gary, you need to use the boy before he dies,” a voice called out from behind the fence. The Man turned his head to see a man wearing a priest’s collar cutting the boy away from the fence. The boy fell face first to the ground with a sickening thud.
The lawman, Gary, moved around the Man and scooped up the boy. “My God, Brent, don’t make the pour boy suffer more than he has to,” Gary said.
Brent pulled at his collar. “Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain, Gary. You don’t want to be damned for eternity.”
“And this hasn’t done it already?” Gary asked as he dropped the boy nearly on top of Retribution. The Man began to writhe in pain, but he still held Retribution, its glow now driving back not only the mists, but the gaslights as well. The holes in his chest seemed to be closing in the blood red light.
“Sometimes the innocent must be sacrificed to kill a greater evil,” said Brent. “And ridding creation of a Fallen is a greater honor. The sacrificed will dance on his grave in paradise.”
The Man looked at Brent and growled in his whisper voice. “You will never see paradise.”
Brent began to weep blood. He blinked back those tears and shouted, “Satan, get behind me!” The Man propped himself up on the hand not holding Retribution.
The Man heard a metallic click and looked back just as Gary let loose with another six shots from his second gun. That put the Man back on the ground, but Retribution was now almost humming power as it became blinding.
Gary leaned over the boy who was breathing his last few breaths. “God will wipe away your tears.” With that he reached over and grabbed the hand of the Man that held Retribution. The lawman picked up the Man’s hand and raised it over the boy. The Man screamed as the blade plunged down through the boy’s heart, pinning the boy’s corpse to the ground. The sound of a thunderclap sounded and Retribution broke in half. The Man stopped his screaming and closed his black and white eyes forever.
“We are saved!” yelled Brent. “Praise the Lord!”
Tobias listened to the thunderclap as it reverberated off the distant hills. He wondered if Lost Hope was now saved, or damned to yet another hell. No matter what, he wasn’t going to stay around to figure it out. These were not his sheep anymore. It was time to find a new shepherd. He hobbled on, his staff Justice in his hand to help him on his way.