Story Reluctantly Gallant

St. Clover

Joseph felt the evil before he saw it, the tingling in his right arm growing stronger with every passing minute. He sat at the table shared by the other Drifters and Spellslingers, young men and women of unusual talent drawn to the Far Lands in search of gold, glory, or just to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life on Citirian soil. Joseph considered himself to be in the fourth category, a wanderer without much of a goal in mind.

He glanced to the side when he heard people in the saloon start to murmur, panicked whispers filled the air as the news spread. It'd taken longer than he expected for someone to spot the incoming menace.

Looking to his fellow compadres for a plan, Joseph wasn't surprised to see them laying down their cards, picking up their coats and guns, and filing out before things got hairy.

A frown formed on his lips.

Weren't these supposed to be the heroes of the Far Lands? The intrepid adventurers of the new world that stood up to this exact kind of thing? Or were they just like all the other loud-mouthed kids with far too expensive toys, who dressed themselves up and played the role of a gunslinger, but folded like a cheap hand when the time came to face death in the face?

From the way they moved to get out before anyone else could, it was the latter, he thought grimly.

"It's coming!"

"Where's the Sheriff?"

"We've got to hide!"

"Someone get a posee, maybe we can fight it off!"

"Don't be stupid, we'll just end up like the last town! Just give it what it wants and it might leave us alone!"

Bargaining with evil, that's funny. Joseph took a swig of his beer and set the bottle down as he listened to the saloon goers begin to argue about what they'd do now that they were the beast's next targets. There wouldn't be any deals to be cut with something as vile, as despicable as the beast. It'd take what it wanted, kill a few people, burn the rest, and move on. Just like it always did.

The tingling in his arm was almost a burn now, the evil was right on top of them, maybe thirty seconds away.

Screams filled the saloon.

Gunshots rang out in the distance, lethal cracks that were met with a familiar rush of flame and death.

He could still escape if he made a break for it now. Wait till it began chowing down on the others, burning buildings, looking for anything valuable. Leave the town to its fate, do the smart thing the other Drifters did, avoid the risk.

Another swig. The beating of leathery wings filled the air, shaking the saloon and driving everyone inside to silence. It was too late. The evil was here and this town's fate was sealed. He could hear it, loud as a steam engine, howling above them, letting them know their time was up.

He could still escape if he made a break for it, leaving these people to their fates. He could be just like the other Drifters and avoid the risk. But that wouldn't be very Gallant now, would it?


Finishing off what little beer remained in the bottle, Joseph sighed and stood up from the table. With his free hand, he scooped up his hat and settled it on his head as he strode across the panicked floor of the saloon. People watched him as he went, fearful eyes following the suicidal man as he marched outside to his death.

They watched as he stopped in the middle of the street, adjusted his hat, and waited.

They watched as a great shadow fell over the town, circling until it passed over the man.

The watched as a cloud of dust was thrown up from the beast's landing, which shook the ground and nearby buildings.

They watched as the narrow, grinning snout of the dragon appeared from the settling dust, flames leaking from its open jaws, inhuman eyes settled on the man who squared his shoulders and met its gaze without flinching.

Joseph felt their eyes on him, both the dragon's and the town's. This was foolish, he thought, standing there in the middle of the street, just waiting to be snapped up by those terrible jaws and made into a snack. Part of him wanted to try and make a break for it even now, to try and delay the inevitable. But the burning, searing feeling in his arm reminded him why that was the worst idea he'd ever considered. He wouldn't be like the other Drifters, he wouldn't abandon these folks to be turned into another statistic in this beast's rampage.

No, he wasn't going to be in the fourth category anymore.

He wasn't Joseph the Drifter. He was Joseph the Spellbound, the Gallant. And as he tore off the glove on his right hand, rolled up his sleeve to reveal the golden, metallic skin that covered his forearm, he realized that he'd been running from his true calling all this time.

The dragon took a step forward, Joseph's hand fell to his holstered revolver.

It was time to stop running.

Users who are viewing this thread