Long months have passed since the bounty hunters had been sent up into the mountains to hunt down the Red Shadow. Many more moths since the six friends had been brought back together, and stayed as such.
Many months since the snow came, but it just melted. Spring was there and light had come.
Walking down an overgrown forest path each couldn’t help but allow memories of their youth flood over them. Their reckless running around. How their father cared for them without any reason.
There heads were down as they came to a small cabin hidden behind many trees. If you didn’t know it was there you’d never of found it.
A smile graced all of their lips as they walked to the rear of the building. The mound of dirt, covered in the grass the grew over it. The only one who had been there sooner than the others was Jowey.
The six knelt in the soggy grass in front of the grave, spring moss had covered the entire marker.
Jowey layed down the flowers she had picked on their way there.
Not one said a single word, no one had to. What they wanted to say was in the silence of the wind. They knew he knew they were alright. They knew he knew Jowey and Paul were now together. They also knew that he knew all the murders and sins that each had committed.
It wasn’t untill just the sun was beginning to set that they felt it right to stand and leave. Paul and Reggie stayed behind an extra moment, before joining the others.
It was dark by the time they made it back to the tavern. No one questioned where they were. Over the long winter they had come to understand that they were as close anyone could get.
It wasn’t until they were each locked away in their rooms were words between some of them spoken.
“How you feelin’?” Jowey asked Paul as she brushed out her hair.
He shrugged, “How about yourself?”
” ‘Bout the same.” She said with another shrug.
Paul sighed and got up from the bed they shared, he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her back onto the bed in his lap.
“I know you miss him.” He whispered.
“I know you miss him more.” She whispered back.
“We can’t live in the past Joe.” He told her laying his head on her shoulder.
“I know.” she said, “But it’s kinda hard not too when there are still idiots coming here and demanding to fight the Red Shadow.”
“You still win every last match.” He said and started to rub her arm.
“Sometimes I don’t wanna.” She said staring up blankly at the ceiling.
“But I love you.” Paul said and kissed her neck.
“I love you too.” Jowey whispered before pulling his arms off of her waist and turning around to face him so she was straddling his lap.
She leaned in and kissed him passionately, Paul returned it instantly. But it didn’t go further than that.
Jowey broke away when they needed a breath and got off his lap. She crawled over to the other side of the bed and curled up under the covers with her back to him.
Paul understood. and he didn’t press. He slid in with her.
–The Next Morning–
Jowey sat at the edge of the bar staring into her ale. Even Paul kept his distance from her this morning. The fire behind her eyes showed she was ready for a fight. The many knives she had on her confirmed that for anyone who saw her.
“Paul, Reggie.” She said, silence shot through the entire building, “Up stairs now. Girls you too.”
The boys were about to question but the girls pushed them away before they could saying she does everything for a reason.
They were all on the first floor listening to whatever might happen.
The doors flew open and an uniformed soldier came through and looked around.
Everyone glaring at him.
He walked proudly up to Martain behind the bar.
“How may I help you?” He asked politely.
“His Royal majesty, King Cyrus the first is here in search of the former bounty hunter, Paul Shinji.” He recited, “We have reason to believe that when he and the other Bounty hunters came up here last winter in search of the Red Shadow he met a woman here and married her. We need him back at the castle immediately.”
“What would the king possibly want with him?” Jowey hissed.
The knight turned his full attention to the dark haired girl at the end of the bar.
“I believe miss.” He he gritted, not liking a woman speak to him on equal terms, “You should hold your tongue when speaking with a man.”
“My apologies sir.” She said and looked away humbly, “But I was just wondering. I know the man, and he doesn’t seem like the kind to get in trouble, especially with king Cyrus himself. Forgive my ignorance.”
“Forgiven.” He said and slid into the seat next to her, “You wouldn’t happen to know where he would be would you?” He asked leaning in really close to her.
Martain placed a mug of ale in front of the soldier as he spoke.
“No.” She said quietly.
“You’re lying.” He whispered. He raised his hand to strike her, but she caught it instantly. In it was a blade. She pulled out one of her own, but he caught that as well.
Her eyes narrowed at the man as he smirked at her. She lunged forward and at full force hit her forehead against his. That gave her the upper ground as he not only let go, but dropped his weapon and fell to the floor at her feet.
In another instant Jowey was a fraction of a second away from breaking his neck.
“How did you know?” He hissed to him.
He coughed before choking out, “Other bandits tipped us off about you.”
Jowey gritted her teeth almost hard enough to draw blood from her gums.
A loud, bone crushing crack echoed through out the building. His limp lifeless body fell to the floor as Jowey stood up breathing hard.
Her eyes darted around the building for something out of place. Everyone was doing the exact same thing as she was, who would have sold her out. She’d have tortured them.
She caught a side glance out the window.
“Down!” She called. Everyone hit the floor in a second. out side there were a lot of guards. All of them working for Cyrus. Jowey slithered over to the stairs, and climbed up quickly avoiding any fire.
She hushed the girls, Paul and Reggie and she passed them. She went into the room right above the entrance. It was used for storage.
She peered out the window carefully.
“Joe, what’s going on?” Paul whispered coming up next to her, Reggie in toe.
“Someone sold me out.” She whispered looking around, “One came in, tipped me off about it. Sixty, seventy.”
She gritted her teeth again, before her miss matched eyes spotted something, and her face cracked into and evil smile.
“Stay here.” She told them and stalked off.
“Jowey!” Paul called after her.
“Let me do this!” She yelled back.
Paul shut up and was forced down by Reggie.
She made quick work of all the stairs and went up to the top floor. There were eight in total.
She went out to the same spot, eight stories up, no one could see her. All of them had an open spot. The smirk she wore grew, twisting her face to an evil grin.
She flew back down the stairs, and down the hall way to her room. She grabbed every knife she could and slid it on pieces of twine. Once satisfied she bolted back up, but not before telling the girls to tell the guys in the lobby to barricade the door and windows.
They, of course, obeyed, the girls had no time to question before she was gone again.
Jowey was thanking all that speed and stamina training she made herself go through. It sure came in handy.
She was back up on the eight floor, and opened the window. Everyone was completely oblivious to the fact she was there.
If her smirk could have gotten any bigger it would have.
She picked up a twine with forty knives, it clinked as she pulled it up. She tossed it recklessly out the window. knives, and blades of all shapes and sizes rained down over the unexpecting soldiers. She continued to do that over and over again. By the time any of them looked up, or called a warning to the others. It was too late.
Blades coming down like the spring rain. Men attempting to run, but failing in the process. Instant deaths, some took three or four blades before they were done.
Jowey chuckled darkly watching this unfold. Their walk way was soon stained with the soldiers’ blood in under two minutes.
Most were dead, the rest were barely alive, but they’d be done in before noon. And if not, she’d finish them herself.
She glanced around, and couldn’t find any others, but she wasn’t to be fooled so easily.
She checked windows on every other side to make sure. There wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.
She shot down stairs. The girls, Paul and Reggie were still as she left them. Down in the lobby everyone was still.
She peered just outside the shutters that they put up. She gritted her teeth wondering if there would be anything else going on.
A few minutes passed. Then five. Then ten. Something was off in Jowey’s mind.
They came up here for Paul, but there was a lot more than just for apprehension.
Jowey bolted up and down the stairs checking rooms and windows incase she missed something. But no, the place was still.
“Marsh, Bull, back me.” She said walking through the lobby again.
“You want us to back you?” Marsh asked, he was a red head and think set, he grew up on rice patties so he got his nick name from that.
“What if one of us were the ones that sold you out?” Bull asked. He got that name because he looked exactly like one if they could walk on two legs.
She walked up to Bull slowly, staring both him and Marsh down.
“If either of you were the ones who sold me out, you wouldn’t be hesitant to go out there, and if you were I’d have you proceed me, not back me.” She snarled, “You go out before me and I use you as a shield when they start firing.”
Both swallowed watching the eyes of the girl before them.
“Now are you going to back me or not?” she asked.
They sighed in defeat.
Bull picked up his giant club, and Marsh grabbed his gun.
Jowey pulled out a blade and slowly opened the door.
Hesitantly she walked forward, Marsh and Bull following carefully. Jowey kept glancing around, making sure there was nothing. She glanced down at the fallen soldiers at her feet. Only two alive now.
She sheathed her blades knowing there wasn’t any danger. She knelt next to one of the ones that was alive.
His breath was raggid, but it was steady.
“I could save you, or leave you to die.” Jowey bargened, “But you need to tell me what I want to know.”
He stared up at her, his black eyes quickly loosing luster. He slowly nodded.
Jowey motioned to him. Bull hauled him up.
“Be careful.” Jowey warned.
She went over to other one that was alive.
“You can tell me what I want to know, or die.” She told him.
“I’d wrather die.” He smiled at her, blood in his mouth.
She kept her emotionless face as she raised a hand with a bone knife and plunged it right between his eyes.
She stood up and turned to Marsh.
“Get some of the others.” She told him, “Strip them of valuables. Get the blades out too, I’ll deal with them then.”
“What are you going to do?” He asked.
She looked back at him, “Scout out the area. See if there’s anyone left, gather any information I can. Stuff like that.”
And she left to see what she could find.