The road back to town had been arduous and rather pungent. Thankfully an unscheduled downpour had washed Bungo and Shallica’s forms free of the heady mixture of greasy sweat, mud, and raw sewage.
The barbarian trudged into Derrowville and headed straight towards the inn in a daze of exhaustion. He was still cradling Shallica’s unconscious form, although in truth she had come to her senses some time ago, and was merely staying quiet and feigning stretching in her sleep intermittently as an excuse to variously grope and fondle Bungo’s herculean physique.
Heedless of this, Bungo casually booted down the inn door and lurched through the entrance. As his sleepy eyes adjusted to the dark interior, he almost tripped headlong over the festering corpse of the Sauranite Warrior he had vanquished almost a week earlier. It seemed that the lizard-beast’s generous frame had proven too much for the villagers to move unaided, and they had simply given up halfway across the room. With no other option open to them, they had dressed the grim remnants with furs in an attempt to disguise them as some kind of beer-hall bench.
It wasn’t very convincing.
With little energy left and in dire need of sleep; Bungo climbed the creaking stairs to his room. He laid Shallica down on the rough-hewn wooden bed; before dropping like a stone to the hard mattress with a hollow thump and falling into a feverish sleep.
“My belly-box is empty! I need food!” Roared the barbarian; the words were muffled by a huge mouthful of what the Innkeeper described only as “Hero Sausage”, but realistically might well have been made of the Sauranite’s processed remains. Bungo had awoken with a huge appetite and had seated himself in the tavern; surreptitiously ordering every single item on the menu and two of anything with meat in it. His words were accompanied by a generous spray of half eaten offal as the rubbery foodstuffs escaped his enthusiastic mouth.
Shallica had been dazedly watching the excessive overeater for over an hour. In truth there had been several times when a crowd had begun to gather to stare at the outlandish spectacle that was Bungo eating breakfast, but she had chased them away; variously biting and scrabbling any who dared to overstay their welcome. She was determined not to share him with anyone else, and had barely tolerated the innkeeper’s presence, who was sweating nervously on the other side of the bar, and had been quietly praying for the outlandish pair to move on before he had another suspiciously smelly “beer-bench” to worry about.
As the barbarian finished off a particularly chewy chunk of sausage that curiously seemed to have scales, his meal was interrupted by the sound of approaching hoof beats. The loud clacking sound came to an end just outside of the saloon door. There was the tell-tale noise of someone dismounting, followed by footsteps across the shoddy wooden decking. A moment later the tavern was bathed in light as the doors were flung open and a tall figure strode into the room.
Clad in a long black cape and wide-brimmed traveller’s hat; the man was somewhat conspicuous to say the least. Bungo eyed the new arrival’s grizzled face with interest as he approached the innkeeper and they entered into a hushed conversation. Their whispered words were lost entirely to Bungo; drowned out by the loud smacking noise as he heartily slurped another sausage down.
It wasn’t until the innkeeper gestured reluctantly in the barbarian’s direction and the man began to move towards him that Bungo realised something was wrong. It was at that moment he noticed the large copper medallion hanging around the man’s neck.
“A bounty hunter?” the question hung in the air for a second, but was soon answered; the dark stranger drew a rapid-fire crossbow from under his cowl and took aim right between Bungo’s eyes.