Monday, August 26, 2013

Gauntlet - Episode 31.



Episode 31 – New Sheriff, New Plan

Without a single whispered word, Marshall set himself into recovering his beloved bullet-slingers. One by one he reloaded each empty cylinder slot with a quiet click as it turned. When finally he spoke, it was the somber voice of seriousness, his head still cast down at the gun in his hand.

“Where are the rest of them,” Marshall asked suddenly. “Tell me, right now – if you truly do wish for any manner of sympathy; where are the rest of your friends.” A twinge of concern shook Rook’s conscience awake as he began to worry where Marshall might be going with this. Even a criminal, once caught was subject to the right to face the law not be executed on the spot.

“Whoa, easy there ‘slinger,” Rook pleaded, his hands held before him. “Let’s simmer it down a notch a tick, alright?” Marshall made no move, his hat’s brim still cloaking his face in shadow. “If you’re asking about the other two; the Ursian and the Uraor – they split out the back as I was making my way inside. I think it is safe to say we don’t have to worry ourselves over them; we have the leaders of both gangs. One dead, the other in custody and we have removed a corrupt official from power. Isn’t that enough bloodshed for one night?”

Some distracting thought seemed to distance the grim drifter as he reached down to examine the crimson stained corpse of what only moments ago had been the Sheriff of Redemption. With his left hand he casually plucked up the blood slick badge that dangled from a scrap of cloth and held it up just enough to let the light catch it. The small shield had once been a symbol of authority, of the promise to protect. Now it was little more than a sullied trinket in his eyes.

“The town will be needing a new man for the job I should imagine,” Marshall mused, his tone still hollow and out of place. “I can’t think of anyone better for the job,” Rook admitted, a sincere smile joining the remark. But when Marshall looked up his eyes met the prismatic purple of Rook’s own and the Deputy knew full well that Marshall had never meant himself.

“Neither can I,” the deadly drifter declared and tossed the badge towards him. Rook easily caught it in his hand and regarded it, wiping clear some of the gore with his thumb. “I don’t know what to say,” he stammered shortly, working to find the words he wanted to say. “Not sure I even know how to do the job,” he confessed finally.

“You’ll do fine, trust me; I am great judge of character.” Rising once more, Marshall holstered his gun and looked from the stunned new Sheriff to the wounded warrior woman. “It is easier than you think; all you have to do is what you know is the right thing. Enforce the laws, keep your head and do your best. Just try not to forget two very simple things; justice may not always come from a judge and if you stray from the straight and narrow – you can find yourself facing a Gauntlet.”

The last comment, Rook couldn’t ignore, it made him curious and caused questions to come to mind. “What will you do now, where will you go?” Now with both of the rival bands of bandits no longer a threat to the town, there wasn’t really anything to keep Gauntlet here in Redemption. Could such a man as Marshall Lawson settle down though?

“There are others who are responsible for the problems here, those who think they are beyond punishment for the pain they cause. I think its time they discover how mistaken they truly are,” Marshall explained. “If you mean Adrian Taurus, I am sorry, but even you cannot reach him. Where he is, nobody ever comes back from; we’re talking as far down as you can go – the end of the line and just beyond. Taurus is a permanent resident of The Graveyard, he is practically already buried.”

“Well then,” Marshall announced with a chuckle. “Perhaps it is high time that I managed to get myself back into prison.” Rook had been certain that nothing else Marshall said could have surprised him by this point. After everything else they had been through, surly he was accustomed by now to the man’s madness. And then there was this; which he couldn’t honestly say which was more unbelievable – the fact he wanted to be sent down to The Graveyard or the fact that at some point he had already been on the opposite side of barred walls.

“You know, you really are a few shots shy of a full load,” Rook exclaimed. “If you get sent down there then there is no coming back, nobody to protect you. Do you understand that?” Marshall raised one eyebrow and a glowing gleam in his eye made the new Sheriff stop his speech suddenly.

“That is what makes it perfect,” Marshall countered. “There will be no one to get in my way, no one to protect him, and no where else for him to run. The man thinks himself safe in his castle, in the one place everybody believes has him kept from causing any more harm. He is hiding there, and enjoying complete absence from any manner of suspicion whatsoever. Its time for that to end I think.”

“If you ask me, you are only signing your death warrant,” Rook replied, echoing his reservations with the idea. “No worries in that regards, I know the perfect professional for the task should the need arise.” Marshall laughed once more at the mention of the macabre maiden, and Rook couldn’t refrain from enjoying the joke as well. “There is just no talking sense into you is there,” he had to ask. Still laughing Marshall easily answered with another whip of whit. “Nope and there is no beating sense into me either. Others have tried, and failed – thick hide and thicker skull I’m afraid.”