Chapter V

     "It seems awfully quiet around here," noted Ryan to himself. As the man passed through the market, he could sense tension in the air. Something was up, but it wasn't his concern what. He was here for his own purpose.
     This wasn't the first time he'd found himself in the kingdom of the Psychos, but it was rare for him to travel there. He was aware that the sole reason that this market existed was because of the influence of the ruling brothers. As part of the elder's attempts to bring some minuscule level of order to the land, he had this site of commerce established... and enforced. Either way, the townsfolk spent much of the day at this locale, and if one sought to know anything, this was the best place in the land to learn it. The man pulled up his hood such that it concealed more of his face, and he began to mingle with the crowds of people near the various booths.

     Once more, the wandering boy found himself at the town square among the unusual shoppers and vendors, but something was different about the area this morning. Everyone seemed somewhat quieter than they had been the previous day, and there was a apparent sense of nervousness. He was relieved, however, to discover that no one seemed to be giving much attention to him. He again walked around near the tables and items, glancing over them and searching for anything which may aid him in his travels. Most suitably, anything which may be utilized as a sort of weapon.
     As he walked about, he began to notice a few things. Besides the definite stillness, there was also the fact that no one was moving about between the vendors. Relatively, everyone was staying in the same place, staring at the objects before them, not even appearing to purchase anything. It was a far different scene from the previous day when activity was bustling. An uneasiness was creeping over him, but he dared not ask anyone about the situation.
     His uneasiness was justified as he looked back to the booths he had just passed. A man in a large, dark robe was speaking to one of the vendors, who now was pointing in his direction. The hooded man turned his head and spotted the boy, who in turn began walking again with a hastened pace.
     The hooded man began moving toward him.
     The boy broke to a trot.
     The hooded man was now jogging past the tables.
     The boy changed to an all-out sprint; the man removed his hood and followed suit.
     Taking care to avoid running into shoppers, vendors and their tables, the boy dashed through the market trying to evade his pursuer. However, his shoes made running difficult and the man was quickly drawing nearer. The boy could now see that the man's right arm appeared longer than the other. At first, he didn't think much of it, and couldn't get a good enough look at it with his quick glances, but when the man held it out toward him, he could see what it was. It wasn't an extension of his arm, but a weapon. A crossbow was being aimed directly at him.
     The boy took a quick turn to the left at the end of a row of booths, and, THOP!, was now flat on the ground, having hit something head-on.

     Ryan was closely following the boy. "This has to be the one," he thought to himself as he loaded a bolt into his crossbow. "If his death will appease the prophets, then so be it." When the boy began to sprint, Ryan took down his hood and began the pursuit.
     Through the trips and turns of his prey, Ryan was able to get close enough to fire at the boy. Extending his weapon, he fired the bolt a moment too late, flying straight into and severing a tent pole as the boy darted to the side. "Dammit," muttered the hunter as he sped up again and followed the turn.
     But when he turned around the last booth, he was met with something he hadn't quite anticipated. Almost colliding with it, he came to an abrupt halt, panting and staring. Realizing he was still holding his crossbow out menacingly, he took a few paces back and was about to turn. About to turn, when a large axe swung toward the man and cleanly decapitated him. Ryan's crossbow and head landed together in the dust of the path, as the body too fell forward. Before too much of his red, vital fluid was shed, these three objects were recovered and dragged toward a wagon by the axe-wielding being.

[Chapter IV] [Chapter VI]
Last page update: 10-10-98